The word ‘secular’ has led to a storm in Maharashtra. New Delhi is being asked to sack Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, as he has ‘undermined the dignity of the high constitutional office. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took grave umbrage to Raj Bhavan writing to him officially early this week inquiring about immediate reopening of places of worship and asking whether he was ‘receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the reopening of the places of worship time and again or have you suddenly turned ‘secular’… Uddhav replied tersely: “Do you mean that opening up religious places is Hindutva, and not opening them means being secular? Secularism is a crucial base of the oath you took as Governor. Do you not believe it?” Hard hitting indeed! Deserving can we say, as its quite obvious, Koshyari was following a political agenda given that the BJP has been holding protests seeking opening of places of worship. But the government is not yielding till SOPs are in place.
The SS, Congress, NCP and CPM, CPI among others have jumped on the opportunity provided by the Raj Bhavan. They have minced no words, warned him such as : once you take Governor’s oath, you are no longer a member of the party… you must abide by the Constitution and by mocking ‘secularism’, one of Constitution’s fundamental principles, you have committed constitutional proprietary…etc. Sounds familiar? Recall the Governor had installed the BJP-led government last year in the wee hours of the morning, which couldn’t survive and was accused of being “Governor of BJP”. But it wasn’t happening the first time in this regime, there are other cases, remember Manipur, Goa etc. However, let’s not forget that the days of the Congress government were no different. “Pliant Governors” were alleged to be very much around then too. Therefore, be it the UPA or the NDA regime, sadly Raj Bhavans have and are increasingly getting embroiled in controversies. And we can’t and shouldn’t say— so be it!
Action In J&K
Freedom at last spurs activity in J&K. Just 48 hours before the next hearing in Supreme Court where PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti’s 14-month-long detention was being challenged, the J&K government blinked and released her on Tuesday last. Within next 48 hours, of her, last mainstream political leader, to be set free, the Valley leaders chose not to waste any more time. They, ‘signatories of the Gupkar Declaration’ promptly held their first meeting on Thursday last, and set up a new alliance to battle for restoration of J&K’s constitutional status since August 5 last year. The ‘People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’, includes the NC, PDP, CPM, PC, JKPM and ANC among others and favours initiation of dialogue between all stakeholders for resolution of J&K issue. In fact, NC leaders Farooq Adbullah and son Omar had called on Mehbooba to cement her support. So far they are on the same page, as she had on return set the tone in her audio message to the people “…we will have to take back what New Delhi snatched from us illegally, undemocratically and unconstitutionally…we will have to continue our struggle for resolution of Kashmir issue…” It’s obvious the two arch rivals realise their political survival is at stake. They need to ensure the Alliance works. The catch word being ‘stay united’, which administration knows is the weak spot. With no power goals in sight, can the leaders change things for the better? Time will tell.
Kerala Political Switch
The grand old party suffers a setback in God’s own country. A faction of Kerala Congress (M) led by Rajya Sabha Member Jose K Mani quit the Congress-led United Democratic Front and switched to ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front. The timing doesn’t bore well either, just before the polls —local civic body this year and Assembly in 2021. While an elated Chief Minister Vijayan saw the move as the fall of the UDF, Opposition Congress felt betrayed but claimed it will make no difference. While only time will tell whose right, the switchover appears to be a fallout of ‘power struggle’ within the Kerala Congress (M) itself. Jose felt senior party leader and MLA Joseph and the UDF had betrayed him by getting his nominee for Pala bypoll constituency, held by his father late KM Mani for five decades, defeated. He was unwilling to take any more ‘insults from Congress’ quarters and its attempts to ‘politically annihilate the Kerala Congress (M)”. Haven’t we heard something similar before? Same story elsewhere too, when will Congress learn?
Goan Tourism Vision
No more haphazard tourism, says the Goa government. On Wednesday last, it approved much-awaited Tourism Policy 2020, envisioning to becoming the “most preferred destination around the year for high-spending tourists” in 2024. It’s a 25-year long-term plan, with a new Tourism Board ‘to be backbone for all decisions’— planning, development and marketing; strengthen tourism assets, expand job opportunities and tourism infrastructure ‘from the footfall heavy beach belts to eco-tourism initiatives in the hinterland.’ This so after realising that 89% of all tourist arrivals, largely domestic, are spread between October-December, “putting immense stress on Goa’s ecology, infrastructure and tourism assets”. The plan is to do away with past models where many government bodies took independent decisions “without any holistic, long term vision”, and even misused tourism budgets reportedly towards beautifying constituencies! The big question is whether it will meet infrastructure creation timelines, involve private participation and go beyond coastal belts? It’s not enough to have a vision, action and not words should speak.
Rain God Fury
The rain god’s fury in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and western parts of Maharashtra across Solapur, Sangli and Pune is witnessed by way of torrential rains and flash floods. Worse, capital city of the southern States, Hyderabad goes through what is pretty familiar such times across the country— knee jerk reaction. The flash floods reported in 125 plus areas in and around Hyderabad, led to several parts plunging into darkness, eater flowing into homes, flooding of low-lying areas, severe damages of wall collapses and deaths, forcing the administration to declare a two-day holiday for government offices and private institutions. Reportedly, most areas submerged in the city’s south zone are said to be Muslim-dominated localities, where homes have come up on water bodies or nullahs (drains) that were filled up and encroached upon. With streets becoming rivers, entire housing societies went under 10-15 ft of rainwater. And, as known disaster management teams come into play, relief camps spring up, Chief Ministers demand immediate funds from Centre for relief work, et al. Will we ever learn? —— INFA