To be or not to be, that is the question. Not just in Madhya Pradesh but across parties, States and of course New Delhi. With ‘Maharaj’ Jyotiraditya Scindia deserting Congress after 18 years and embracing BJP as his new ‘family’, will the State have Kamal Nath government stay alive? The picture will be clear within days, but what is certain is that the politicians of any hue today unashamedly eye greener pastures, damn ideology. The switchover has got Scindia a berth in Rajya Sabha alright and perhaps a ministerial post, but it is the same Scindia, who is quoted 8 months ago among others to have said: “The BJP’s intention is to kill democracy and when it is unable to win an election directly, its attention turns to grabbing power through backdoor methods.”
The time then was BJP’s shenanigans to bring down the Congress-JD(S) Government in Karnataka and on Wednesday last it was his turn to grab power and kill democracy with 22 of his supportive MLAs sending their resignation letter to the Governor. ‘Maharaj’ perhaps is not wrong when he says the Congress ‘is not the same as it used to be and is far removed from reality’, for the grand old party is unquestionably in disarray and directionless. And, quitting in disgust is understandable but to join the enemy camp, shower praises and strike a deal is nothing short of being unethical and immoral. Well, a quick rebuttal could well be ‘gone are those days’ as is being steadily seen across parties with partners changing overnight in States. Madhya Pradesh will be a new entrant? In its survival plan, the Congress will too need to do jugglery and dangle the carrot to both friends and foes. This is Mera Bharat Mahaan or New India, call it whatever, whether we like it or not!
No Risking Repeat in Karnataka
‘Once bitten twice shy’, is an idiom Congress considers after the Scindia jolt. On Wednesday last, it finally brought down the curtains on nagging indecision in Karnataka since December last, when State party President Gundu Rao and CLP leader Siddaramaiah resigned following dismal performance in Assembly bypolls. It appointed trouble shooter D K Shivakumar as President, much against Siddaramaiah’s wishes! However, it sought to maintain a balance by retaining the latter as Leader of Opposition and of CLP and 3 working presidents. The big question is how far this will go to set its house in order as the tussle between the old guard and those close to Rahul Gandhi is no secret? One thing is certain that the timing is critical. Not only is it being viewed as avoiding a repeat in Karnataka but that Shivakumar may just help tide the MP crisis. Recall, in August 2017 he protected 44 party MLAs from Gujarat to facilitate AICC leader Ahmed Patel’s election to Rajya Sabha. While the next few days will provide answers, the High Command has also done away its indecisiveness in Delhi. For starters, AICC Secretary Anil Chaudhary was appointed unit Delhi President along with five vice-presidents. Here the order is tall as sheer revival is at stake. No guesses needed!
India stands quarantined. With the WHO announcing coronavirus as a pandemic, raising serious concerns on the uncontrollable outbreak, the GoM on Wednesday last decided to shut the doors to all outsiders. It has isolated the country from the world suspending all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15. This has pushed the travel and hotel industry particularly into a quandary given the cancellations that follow. So far, the Health Ministry has confirmed cases of COVID-19 having crossed 73, with numbers varying from: Kerala (17) Delhi (6), UP (10), Karnataka (4), Maharashtra (11) and Ladakh (3), Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, and Punjab one each. Given the size of the country and preparedness required, the GoM finds the ban on travel as part of reducing the risk. But the hotel chains and travel industry would need to deal with the impact it will have. Already, analysts have cut back on their growth forecasts for the current quarter as they witness a dip in occupancies and revenues this month, with both business and leisure trip cancellations coming in by inbound travellers and future bookings getting stalled. Definitely, there will be trouble and loss of business. The airlines too are mulling over their flight operations. However, the idiom ‘better to be safe than sorry’ may offer a justification.
Right To Privacy In Yogi Land
Uttar Pradesh government needs to get its reading of the law right. Privacy is an intrinsic part of right to life and liberty under Article 21 of Constitution and Yogi government’s actions putting up hoardings across Lucknow, identifying 57 accused of violence during anti-CAA protests has come under the scanner. The Allahabad High Court on March 9 was firm the ‘name and shame’ hoardings seeking an amount of Rs 1.55 crore in damages and warning that properties will be seized if the money isn’t deposited, was “highly unjust”, “insult of state and its public”, and amounted to an unwarranted interference with the right. It directed authorities to remove the hoardings put up on March 5 ‘immediately and submit a compliance report on or before March 16’. A belligerent government has instead knocked on Supreme Court’s door, which too has asked ‘quote some law’, which backs your action. Insisting on privacy, the two-judge bench said while it agrees there shouldn’t be unruly behaviour, “in this case, there is no backing of law.” However, it refused to pass interim orders and sought a three-judge bench be constituted next week to examine the matter. A breather for Yogi but a nagging long wait for the citizens! Justice delayed could be justice denied?
Pellet Guns to Stay?
Jammu & Kashmir High Court sadly passes the buck to the Centre on the controversial pellet guns. On Wednesday last, it dismissed a petition seeking a ban on these for crowd control citing an earlier order and banking on an uncertain report of an expert committee supposedly set up by Union government way back on July 21, 2016! The two-judge bench endorsed an earlier order: “so long as there is violence by unruly mobs, use of force is inevitable…and what kind of force has to be used at the relevant point of time or in a given situation/place has to be decided by the persons in charge of the place where the attack is happening”. Additionally, it put up its hands saying “…before filing the report by expert committee and a decision taken by the government, we are not inclined to prohibit the use of pellet guns in rare and extreme situations.” Apathy is writ large as exploring alternatives to pellet guns isn’t a priority—it hangs fire for nearly four years! Recall, during July 2016 unrest, hospital figures revealed 6,000 plus people suffered pellet injuries, including 1,100 eye injuries and Amnesty International claimed 14 persons were killed. Questions such as was a committee set up; is there a report; if so what is it, simply are not raised. Can New Delhi throw light? — INFA