Riots and the aftermath give political parties a handle to settle scores, rather than heal the wounds. The country’s digital capital, Bengaluru, is the latest example. Following mob violence in east Bengaluru, the police on Thursday last filed FIRs which include 16 accused as members of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), political arm of Popular Front of India. Denying it, the SDPI says it’s being “dragged just to cover-up police inaction against blasphemy and failure of state’s intelligence unit.” On Tuesday last, 3 youth were killed in police firing and about a dozen cops injured after a mob attacked a police station and targeted Congress MLA Srinivas Murthy’s house over a social media with derogatory references to Islam by his nephew. The ruling BJP has accused the Congress of not being ‘vocal’ against the rioters, saying ‘appeasement’ seemed to be its official policy; the Congress and JD(S) instead termed the incident as “a planned conspiracy” and would set up a fact finding committee; the Government says it’s considering banning PFI and SDPI; the Congress has advised ban RSS and its affiliates too, as these are “two sides of the same coin.” Such tu-tu-mein-mein has been heard before and will go on. Attempts to get communities together is nowhere on their agenda. They simply can’t see the wood for the trees.
Forget, forgive and move on—the truce finally brokered in the fractured Rajasthan Congress. A month after all hell broke loose between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former Deputy Sachin Pilot, the Congress High Command finally doused the fire, which could have brought its House down. Sachin and his set of 18 MLAs are back in the fold. Interestingly, Gehlot termed it as a ‘win of citizens’, and not of the party. Perhaps sharp enough to realise that the trust deficit between the two camps is far from being bridged. While both leaders met on Thursday last, there is unease in the Gehlot camp as his 100-odd MLAs are not ecstatic about taking the rebels back and opposed it. Not to say that the Pilot camp isn’t edgy either, as in an interview he said ‘most of his MLAs were scared…we thought by going to Jaipur they will be harassed.’ For the time being, the real patch-up can wait, as Gehlot and team prepare for the trust vote, with the BJP moving a no-confidence motion against their government. The crisis is now a “closed chapter”, will a fresh one open? With details of the truce unknown, there could be many a slip between the cup and the lip.
Punjab Cong ‘Revolt’
One door closes and another opens. Not of opportunity but trouble for the Grand old party! It’s been over 10 days since senior Congress leaders Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo sounded the bugle of revolt against their Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, but the High Command maintains a stoic silence! Nagging tension is brewing among the elected MLAs as after Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the rebellion bug has bitten their State. What next, is the big question as the drama comes amidst rumours of a new political formation in the State. Amarinder camp suspects the BJP is behind SAD leader SS Dhindsa’s attempt to form a new Akali Dal and that Bajwa’s positioning is part of plans to join it, which he denies. The trouble began after Bajwa and Dullo, met Governor Badnore and demanding a CBI/ED probe into the spurious liquor tragedy. State Congress President Sunil Jakhar views it as crossing the ‘laksham rekha’ and has written to High Command seeking their expulsion. Bajwa instead wants Amarinder’s ouster and warns if it doesn’t happen Congress shall be wiped out in Punjab. He insists the MLAs be called to Delhi to express their views in private about CM’s popularity. Will Delhi oblige and if so, when?
God’s own country has more on its hands than it can handle. If dealing with fresh cases of COVID-19 was not enough, the rain god is playing havoc in Kerala. In Pettimudi, hamlet of Idukki, an entire region was washed away in the devastating landslide with very few having survived. Following a visit, Chief Minister Vijayan on Thursday last, assured the State would identify alternate land and build homes for those who have lost their ‘layams’, other than the compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the victims’ families.. He also assured all educational expenses of some 12th standard students and few others pursuing degree course who survived in the initial hours would be borne by government. So far, 55 bodies were retrieved, 15 are still buried and only 12 persons were rescued. While the CM said the approach will be same as during the landslide in Kavalappara last year, claiming 59 lives, the moot question is why do these tragedies occur yearly? Serious introspection is vital as there are regions across the State vulnerable to slipping during heavy rain. Plus, it’s not just Kerala, but other States wait for disasters to happen and forget the adage: A stitch in time saves nine.
No Opening of Temples
Engulfed by COVID-19, Maharashtra simply can’t handle more. On Thursday last, the government informed the High Court its machinery is ‘overburdened’ and it can’t give in to the demand to allow Jain temples in Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Pune to open for Paryushan, August 15 to 23. If allowed ‘there is an imminent danger of coronavirus that may result in loss of life,” it pleaded. The two petitions, including that of Jain Gyanmandir Trust, sought ‘if malls, marketplaces, barber shops, spas, saloons, beauty parlours and liquor shops could be operated with restrictions, then why couldn’t the community offer prayers at its temples while observing social distancing norms.’ Government countered saying ‘if permission is granted for this, then there will be similar requests from other various religions, castes/communities and if allowed it shall result in spreading of the virus and open floodgates of coronavirus patients.’ The court refused to grant relief but decided to keep the matter pending, pass order next month when government issues new COVID-19 guidelines. “Let us wait for a few days. God is with you and within you…..,”the bench said. Justified alright.
Goa’s Temple Compromise
Villagers of Guleli, in Goa can thank the almighty that the BJP government is in tune with them. On Wednesday last, the Cabinet readily agreed to their demand for land for a temple out of the proposed allotment for an IIT! Of the 10 lakh square metres for building an IIT campus, the Pramod Sawant government has now marked and diverted a land parcel of 45,000 square metres ‘for religious activity in an attempt to pacify Guleli villagers who have objected to the construction of the campus amidst their village’. In July, the government had announced allocation of the land for the campus, in the backdrop of New Delhi’s initiative given that the IIT currently is sharing space with Goa Engineering College in another village, Farmagudi, in South Goa. However, there was a dispute as the villagers claimed the land was allotted for a temple and they needed it for the religious functions. But the government seems to have found a midway and is hopeful there shouldn’t be any more resistance. Another easy justification would be that the IIT too is a temple —of learning. —INFA