This election season, Delhi comes to the aide of Dalits. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP government has reached out to the Centre demanding it allot land as it proposes to build a “magnificent” Ravidas temple at the same site it was demolished. After 24 hours of the dalits taking to the streets against the demolition of the temple by the DDA on August 10 following Supreme Court’s orders, the Delhi Legislative Assembly stepped in on Thursday last, passing a resolution to construct the temple. In fact, the AAP government lost no opportunity to hit out at the Centre for badly mishandling the issue “by not supporting their (Dalits) cause in the court of law which finally led to its unjustified and unfortunate demolition.” It also made note of the protest, which was massive, brought traffic in several parts to a standstill and at Tughlakabad turned violent leaving several people, including policemen injured and many cars vandalised. But there could be more trouble as the police arrested Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and 95 others, and sent them to 14-day judicial custody. While a close watch is being kept, BSP chief and Dalits messiah Mayawati has asked her votebank for restraint and that rule of law must prevail, leaving many surprised. Be that as it may, it is to be seen whether Centre obliges Kejriwal with the land. After all Assembly polls are on the cards and the pros and cons need to be carefully considered.
Normalcy Far Cry in Kashmir
Into the third week of the unprecedented lockdown, Kashmir shows no signs of limping back to normalcy. At least on both the fronts of schools reopening in phased manner and government offices being functional, the administration has had little success. Not only are many schools still locked up, but even those who are open and teachers present, classrooms were empty as parents fear for their kids’ safety. Their reasoning with mobile services still down, there is no way for them to connect with their children. The attendance at government offices has been rather thin but would it really matter as “no one visits the offices!” Reports are suggesting that there seems to be an undercurrent in the Valley that the people have chosen to negate the administration efforts to restore normalcy and embarrass New Delhi in the international fora. This would be an explanation why shopkeepers continue to keep shutters down in areas where restrictions have been lifted. At the same time, Opposition parties, including Congress, TMC, CPM, and DMK, are trying to up the ante on the Centre to release political leaders under detention by holding a protest meeting in Delhi on Thursday last. Clearly, the Modi-Shah team has to do more for while it may think time is a healer, ground reality may prove them wrong.
Rebellion in Haryana Cong?
It’s election season again and Haryana is hitting headlines. Congress’ two-time former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has made matters worse for the ‘grand old party’, in doldrums after 2019 polls. At a recent “Parivartan (change) rally” in Rohtak, not only did he declare himself chief ministerial candidate with or without the Congress, announce his own manifesto but claimed the party “had lost its way and isn’t the same old Congress!” Signs of rebellion alright, as he has ‘freed himself of all restrictions’ and supported scrapping of Article 370, for he “wouldn’t compromise on patriotism.’ Be that as it may, is the Congressman making grounds for parting ways, floating his own party or join another national party? Or send strong signals that the High Command better yield and put him back as State party chief by removing Ashok Tanwar? As of now, over 60 former MPs and MLAs were at this rally and he has 12 of 15 sitting MLAs support. Will 10 Janpath heed as October is not far? The bigger question of course is whether it will make any difference of stakes to the party!
Bihar & Its Madrasas
Bihar seeks to have a feather in its cap, be the first in minority care. The JD(U)-BJP government has decided to repair and rebuild madarsas, about 2,549 recognised, in a phased manner. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar wants these now to have new facilities such as hostel, libraries and science labs. Earlier, the works were undertaken by the madrasa committees with help of government grants, but now a panel of the State Madrasa Board will do the needful. It has been sanctioned Rs 25 crore for phase 1 in districts of Aurangabad, Nalanda and Darbhanga, wherein repairs and rebuilding will be done for 25 madrasas. The Minority Welfare department has invited proposals. Remember, in his first term Nitish was running schemes for minorities such as scholarships to students, vocational training programmes, and provide interest-free loan to students. Hope it’s seen as a helping hand to partner BJP and importantly Modi in fulfilling its commitment of “sabka saath, sabka vikas aur sabka vishwas”
Andhra Gets Hard Knock
Andhra Pradesh government will do well to mark the idiom ‘Err on the side of caution’. Its young Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, in a tearing hurry to expose corruption during his predecessor Chandrababu Naidu’s regime, is already getting caught on the wrong foot. On Thursday last, he got a rude shock when the AP High Court struck down the order terminating Rs 3,216 crore hydro-power irrigation project of Polavaram on Godavari river to Navayuga Engineering Co. Ltd to execute. The pre-closure order issued by related Corporation was suspended, order for reverse tendering cancelled, as the company argued having already spent Rs 398 crores, no delay and project will be completed by November 2021. The government’s argument of having right to go for fresh tenders as it will cut project’s cost and enable more bidders, didn’t hold water with the court, having Naidu have the last laugh as he said: the CM had taken it up as “a prestige issue to prove there was a lot of corruption in the project works.” Jagan needs to be cautious as New Delhi too is concerned over cancellation of contracts as it will send wrong message to investors. Indeed, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
‘Boo’ To Supreme Court
‘We don’t give a damn’, sadly seems the message to Supreme Court of India! Senior students in two educational institutions in UP and Odisha ‘violated’ its guidelines of 2007 for prevention and prohibition of ragging. On Monday last, 200 1st year students at UP University of Medical Sciences (UPUMS) in Saifai allegedly were forced to shave their heads, parade on the campus and on their knees offer salutes to their seniors. In Odisha, seniors were seen ‘slapping juniors while asking them to run down the stairs, tearing off shirts, some being thrashed, some forced to mimic sex scenes while others made to dance in undergarments’ at State-run Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology in Sambalpur district. Saifai SDM has ordered a probe and so has the Odisha Skill Development & Technical Education asked the Registrar to do the same. However, what should be equally shocking is that authorities in both these institutions sprang into action only after photos and video of the incidents went viral on social media! Remember, the Court had asked State Governments to amend their anti-ragging law to include provisions that place penal consequences on institutional heads. Will they too be made answerable?—INFA