The Congress High Command’s worry in Rajasthan is far from over. Ushering normalcy or some semblance of order will be a tall order, given the big fight between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his then number two, Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, who has since been stripped of the portfolio as well as PCC chief, not yet fully over. The entire drama since Monday last ran like a Bollywood thriller, with ‘handsome and English-speaking’ Pilot ending up as the ‘villain’ and Gehlot as ‘hero’, after attempts to topple government failed miserably. Though Pilot says he’s a Congressman and would never join the BJP, Gehlot insists the whole drama was plotted by him along with BJP: IT raids on Gehlot’s men; hotel in Gurgaon where Pilot and his herd stayed being declared as COVID quarantine centre; horse trading to tune of 20 crore being offered for an MLA; State BJP planning a meeting, which had to be aborted, etc. It’s a different story that the plot failed, but the war is clearly between Pilot and Gehlot, with BJP now in the shadows. What is the future for Pilot is a nagging question in Congress circles, given that keeping him in the State would be difficult, as Gehlot won’t simply allow it. However, it appears that Rahul Gandhi has kept the doors open for his friend and will need to work out some face saving for Pilot. Dreams of becoming Chief Minister are over, what can Pilot bargain for? Or rather bargain at all?
Madhya Pradesh government needs to hang its head in shame. Corrective measures are not enough, following police brutality in an anti-encroachment drive in Guna district, wherein farmers were being removed on the land to build a college. On Tuesday a Dalit couple drank poison after the police allegedly tried to destroy their crop in that drive. In fact, a video went viral showing cops brutally beating up some of the residents with lathis, a woman pleading and trying to shield the man, a child following the couple and then the couple falling unconscious after consuming poison. A day later, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced removal of Guna Collector and Superintendent of Police from their posts and an inquiry ordered. While the couple is said to have recovered, they have been booked among others for trying to obstruct public officials on duty. Chouhan has assured that action will be taken against the guilty. His predecessor Kamal Nath has hit out and asked “What kind of jungle raj is this?” Valid question, but the incident shouldn’t be used to score brownie points, rather to set it right. Is anyone listening?
They are at it again. Delhi’s Lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal and Arvind Kejriwal government differ on appointment of special public prosecutors (SPPs) in the High Court on cases concerning North East Delhi riots in February and anti-CAA protests. While the Delhi police recommended names of six SPPs, to fight the 85 cases, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, holding temporary charge of Home department, rejected this. Instead, he insists government’s counsel and team are independent, technically qualified and capable of handling the cases and sent the file back to the Delhi police. Baijal, using his special powers has summoned for the file and matter is expected to reach Rashtrapati Bhavan again. A month ago, similar disagreement was on appointment of 11 public prosecutors by Delhi police in lower courts for NE Delhi riots cases. Citing difference of opinion, the LG chose to refer matter to President Kovind, following which then Home Minister Satyendar Jain approved Delhi Police’s panel. Which way will this round go is anybody’s guess.
BJP Eyeing Jharkhand?
Is Jharkhand the next State being eyed by the BJP? The answer is in the affirmative, according to Congress State president and Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon in the coalition government. On Wednesday last, he claimed the saffron party ‘tried to entice few Congress MLAs (offered money and posts) during the recently held Rajya Sabha elections in a bid to form government.’ However, he was confident that his and alliance parties MLAs are intact and the BJP will never succeed as their flock ‘got elected after fighting the BJP on the street for the people.’ But there is no room for complacency despite the factor that the coalition government has a comfortable majority in 81-member Assembly: the JMM has 29 members, Congress 17 MLAs, and RJD (third partner) a single legislator and BJP 26. Both JMM and BJP managed to send one party candidate each to Rajya Sabha, though Congress candidate couldn’t make it. The State BJP President Deepak Prakash has rubbished Oraon’s statement saying he is diverting attention of people from the government’s handling of the Corono crisis. Set your house in order first, is his advice. The Congress has reason to worry, as the idiom goes once bitten, twice shy!
Manipur Drug Cartel?
Manipur is in the throes of an unusual squabble between government, a woman police officer and the High Court, over a 2018 drug smuggling case. It hit headlines as in a recent affidavit in the High Court, an officer and additional SP, Narcotic Police, Th. Brinda has accused politicians, including a close acquaintance of Chief Minister Biren Singh, and top police officers involved in the racket. But she faces a contempt case for her “offensive” remarks on FB allegedly undermining judiciary after alleged drug kingpin Lhukhosei Zhou was granted a 3-week bail by court of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. Zou, then Chairman, Autonomous District Council, Chandel, was arrested in 2018 with “4.6 kg heroin powder and 2,80,200 tablets of ‘World is Yours’ worth Rs 28 crore.” After a year into trial, he jumped bail, was pronounced a proclaimed offender, but has since returned. While CM assures ‘the war against drugs will continue and no party involved, whether friend or relative, will be spared under the present BJP regime’, Brinda claims pressure is mounting on her from different quarters, government’s war on drugs is an eyewash. Will truth prevail?
Offer To Plasma Donors
Assam has come up with a plan to lure plasma donors. Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has made a commitment to donors that they will get preferential treatment in government jobs and government schemes. Plus, those who come to the State from outside to donate shall get State guest honour besides flight tickets. This follows the State starting plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients and setting up of plasma banks, particularly in State capital, Guwahati, which has been under lockdown since June 28. It was hoped the situation would improve, b but even as doubling rate of cases has come down, there are good number of cases from police, security forces and jail inmates. The government has thus started contemplating a publicity campaign both in and outside the State to get plasma donors, as one donor’s plasma can save at least two patients’ lives. Will Sarma’s plan have a better success rate than other governments who too are urging people to donate plasma? Statistics need to be watched. —INFA