Baraat without bridegroom?

Kashmir Local Polls

By Insaf

Kashmir has a different narrative, no matter what Raj Bhavan in Srinagar or North Block in Delhi says. Imagine campaigning for an election sans the candidate! Absurd outright, but it’s an accusation made by non-BJP political parties in the Valley against the administration. In fact, they fear that the entire process is to help the BJP candidates, as they haven’t been taken away in call it shelter homes. Therefore, with the first phase of polling for District Development Council (DDC) due on Saturday next, the parties are up in arms as not only has the Centre ordered to move an additional 25,000 security personnel, but the J&K Police is taking contestants to ‘cluster accommodations’ as soon as they file their nomination papers due to ‘perceived threat to their lives.’ While administration claims it’s only for those who sought security, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) rubbishes it. Tweeted NC’s Omar Abdullah: “What sort of elections are being held in J&K where candidates are being stopped from campaigning? Is this the safe, terror free J&K, the Home Minister was tweeting about yesterday?” PDP President Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Non-BJP candidates for DDC polls aren’t allowed to campaign freely & are being locked up on the pretence of security. But BJP & its proxies are given full bandobast (arrangements) to move around. Is this the democracy that GoI claimed its promoting in yesterday’s phone convo with US Pres elect?”
The big question being rightly asked is if the environment is not safe then why are polls being held? Where is the fire? BJP candidates say they too are being put in secure accommodation, but rivals refute saying they aren’t being bogged down and are being given extra facilities. Be that as it may, the voter too should be peeved and concerned. Shouldn’t he know to whom ballot is going to? Predictably, as per reports, it’s the usual hurried plan made by armchair bureaucrats to be executed, arrangements are shoddy and safety appears to be just a pretext to keep the opponent away etc. Will anyone heed to the complaints of candidates as reported: shifted to a hotel and not allowed to campaign in his constituency 55 km away; one vehicle for 4 candidates to campaign for four hours and reach out to 400 villages; candidates can’t campaign in their own vehicles; not afraid to campaign amongst the people but confined et al.. It is going to be a murky election for sure, but one should look out for issues. For Home Minister Amit Shah has termed the PAGD as “Gupkar gang” that wants to “take J&K back to the era of terror and turmoil”. All eyes need to be on the polls and results to see where these take the Union territory to! Acche din?
Punjab Deadlock
Punjab is in stuck in a major deadlock. A tenable solution to the farmers’ protest against the new farm laws remains elusive. Neither State-Centre nor State-farmer unions’ have been able to break the ice after number of meetings. Expectedly, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is showing signs of exasperation as for the State it’s a double whammy, hit by the pandemic like the rest. He and his team of ministers are unable to convince the unions to get off the rail tracks to stop passenger trains from running. But the farmers’ leaders are not yielding as they insist the Centre start running the goods’ trains and then they will allow passenger trains. The pehle aap (first you) syndrome! Singh’s appeal to them that since over month-and-a-half the State is being brought to a virtual standstill, causing massive hardship and losses is going unheard. The question is not whether industry has lost Rs 30,000 crore so far or that paddy crop from grain markets will take a big hit if 60,000 gunny bags stuck in Delhi/Rajpura are not lifted etc but that protesting farmers see reason. How, when they ask: “Centre didn’t stop trains to Rajasthan during the Gujjar’s ‘rail roko’. Why they want Punjab farmers to relent? Why are there different rules?” Guess, same old story of the ordinary getting caught in the politics of double standards.

Cow Cabinet!
Holy Cow! The country can boast of a ‘Gau Cabinet’ (Cow Cabinet) of course with ministers, The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday announced its constitution, with ministers of six departments whose task is to protect cows and promotion of cow produce in the state. Its first meeting will be held on Sunday, on eve of Gopastami, a festival to celebrate Lord Krishna and cows. Accordingly, 4000 gaushalas will be constructed with Forest and Revenue Department to make land available and Home Dept. to protect the animals. Another BJP State, Haryana, has decided to set up a set up an 11-member ‘Special Cow Task Force’ in each district to check cattle smuggling and their slaughter. Members shall be from police, urban local bodies and Haryana Gau Seva Ayog, gaurakshak committees and gau sevaks. This will help check cattle smuggling and slaughtering through ground-level informers and their intelligence network working across the state! Both States are going to ensure enough funds for the ‘noble’ cause. Shouldn’t a thought be spared for the destitute people in their State too? How about providing them food and shelter?

Delhi On Edge
Delhi is on the edge. With Covid-19 cases surging and lack of health infrastructure, AAP government is caught between health of people and that of the economy. While it has ruled out another lockdown to ‘save the economy’, it is seeking permission from the Centre to temporarily shut down markets, which are assessed as potential Covid-19 hot spots from time to time due to rampant violation of social distancing norms and other Covid-19 regulations. On Wednesday, both Chief Minister Arvind kejriwal and his Deputy Manish Sisodia allayed fears that the government may enforce another lockdown as the cases rise, saying saving the economy is equally important. But it is waiting for the Home Ministry to give its nod to shutdown markets if need be and also provide those extra beds and facilities promised. How soon is anybody’s guess as it’s no secret that there’s one upmanship between the AAP and BJP. People’s welfare is secondary.

Monkey Tragedy
It’s certainly no monkey business in Telangana. A man hunt is on following a bizarre and tragic incident. On Wednesday, 40-odd monkeys, including few baby simians, were found killed in Mahabubabad district. The police suspect poisoning following highly decomposed carcasses being found stuffed in gunny bags on a hillock close to a village. Noticing the strong foul smell, villagers informed both police and forest authorities. Apparently, the massacre took place 5-6 days ago by ‘some locals who couldn’t bear the monkey menace’ and locals in surrounding villages are being questioned. However, there’s another take. Some animal catchers from Rajahmundry, in Andhra’’s East Godavari district may be involved as they use tranquilisers to sedate wild animals and leave them in the forest. While the authorities cremated the monkeys and have filed a case under Section 429 (killing and poisoning of animals) of IPC, apart from Section 11 (l) of Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals Act, 1960, will they be able to unfold the mystery— whether it was an overdose of sedation or an act of cruelty?— INFA