Besieged in Bihar, U’khand?

Democratic Rights

By Insaf

Two States have put a big question mark on the citizens’ democratic rights. In Bihar and Uttarakhand these appear to have come under severe threat. Police authorities, under these two governments have issued fresh orders, which should have civil rights activists up in arms. In JD (U)-BJP ruled Bihar, the police have warned that persons indulging in criminal activities during law and order incidents, protest demonstrations, chakka jaam (disruption of road traffic) and are further named in a chargesheet, would find it difficult to get “passports, government jobs, financial grants by the State, or even bank loans.” The warning: people should be ready for grave consequences once police verification takes place. In BJP’s Uttarakhand, the police has gone a step further and plans to monitor and take note of comments made by persons even on social media, which could be labelled “anti-national” or “anti-social” posts and a record will be maintained. FIRs will be on a rising spree, putting the citizen’s character certificate in jeopardy. A close watch needs to be kept as a right to protest is a rule and not an exception in any democratic society.

State Might Vs Farmers
Fighting a State power is difficult, is the belief. But not among the protesting farmers. Will they prove it wrong? The ongoing battle between the farmers and powers-that-be is turning ugly, to say the least. The intense baracading by security forces at the Ghazipur border shocked 15 MPs from 10 Opposition parties, including SAD, NCP, DMK, TMC, NC, RSP and IUML. The team was not allowed to reach the border and was stopped by the police. What made matters worse was what they saw. The fortress-like concrete barriers, barbed wire fencing and metal spikes on the roads, were simply revolting. The andaata, they said were being treated as ‘enemies’ and denied ‘basic rights’, drinking water, toilets, sanitation, electricity and internet service. A similar situation at Singhu and Tikri borders too. Sharing their concern, they raised their voice in Parliament’s ongoing Budget session demanding the government stop making it a ‘prestige issue’ and withdraw the bills. Be that as it may, the government must see the writing on the wall or convince the protestors. It must note that the agitation has found new grounds in Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh with protests spreading to various districts. The brutal State power is instead stirring the farmers’ resolve further!
Regional Vs National Parties
The ruling BJP and allies in Assam have reason to worry and the Congress-led Grand Alliance to have hope. With an eye on the ensuing Assembly election, two regional parties spearheading the anti-CAA protests — the Assam Jatiya Parishad, led by AASU former leaders and the Raijor Dal, formed by supporters of activist Akhil Gogoi, in jail for over a year on sedition charges, decided on Thursday last to contest together. Though they have made it amply clear they will not join the Grand Alliance, the Congress shouldn’t be disheartened. Predictably, this tie up is expected to cut into BJP’s vote and shall benefit the Alliance of the Congress, minority-based AIUDF and the Left parties. While the AJP-RD claim this election it shall be a two-front contest—regional parties versus the national, observers feel it will go three way—the BJP and allies such as AGP and UPPL, the Grand alliance and these regional parties, which may cut into the AGP vote bank plus get tribal votes and those from the tea gardens. With AIUDF joining the Alliance this poll, the anti-BJP should not split. Be that as it may, the big question is whether the BJP alliance can make a comeback, and show no signs of nervousness.
Kerala’s Poll Churnings
Election fever rises in God’s own country. Preparations are on a war-footing with churnings across the political spectrum. One, to dent the Congress vote, the CPM-led government in Kerala on Wednesday last decided to finally accord OBC reservation to the Nadar Christian community, as per the State Commission for Backward Classes. The new benefit won’t affect the benefits already given to Hindu Nadar and SIUC-Christian Nadar segments in education and jobs, but is hoped to impact the pro-Congress Thiruvananthapuram district. Two, a constituent of NDA, Bharath Dharma Jana Sena, suffered a split, with a group of its leaders forming the Bharathiya Jana Sena, and decided to work with the Congress-led UDF. Plus, it has accused the BJP of working in cahoots with the ruling LDF government, which hurt Hindu sentiments by allowing women of menstruating age to enter the Sabarimala Temple. Three, IUML leader Kunhalikutty resigned from the Lok Sabha to lead his party’s campaign and join the UDF’s state-wide ‘Aishwarya Yatra.’ It is anybody’s guess how many more calculated moves are in the offing and whether these will bear fruit as anticipated by the players in the big battle, beginning April-May.

Karnataka’s Numbers Game
The numbers’ game plays out in Karnataka again. On Thursday last, Council Chairman K P Shetty submitted his resignation to Deputy Chairman, following the understanding between BJP and the JD(S) to install their joint candidate finally. The BJP had moved a no-confidence motion against the Congress MLC with JD(S) extending support, saying it’s ‘conditional and not on all issues’. The duality in JD(S) stand—on the one hand it opposes the BJP on the farmers’ issue, but chooses to side with it on this, does raise questions of proprietary and integrity. No, some would say given that gaining seat of power, hook or by crook is done thing. A quid pro quo was agreed, with the deal being that its MLC Basavaraj will be in the Chairman’s chair after election process. The JD(S) had in return ensured the BJP got its MLC elected earlier as Deputy Chairman with its support. So what if Shetty was its candidate for the post in 2018 when the Congress-JD(S) alliance was in power. With the Congressman out and the numbers game tilted in its favour, the BJP can ensure getting key bills passed. How long will this alliance last is anybody’s guess? After all, this southern State is infamous for playing musical chairs!

Memorable Moments
Catch that unforgettable moment of your life, is Rajasthan’s bait to all those set to tie the knot. Jaipur’s historical monuments and museums shall be an ideal backdrop for those pre and post-wedding shoots, so long as one is willing to pay the price. The Art, Literature, Culture and Archaeology Department passed orders on Tuesday last announcing a new policy wherein interested parties can get ‘exclusive’ access to the much in demand pink city’s monuments such as Amber Palace, Albert Hall, Isarlat, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. This, after officials realised that though such shoots took place in the normal ticketing system, people prefer to avoid the crowd. Accordingly, those wanting pre and post wedding shoots will have to pay Rs 5,000 for every two hours if its during office hours and Rs 15000 if the shoots are before or after. However, the parties will need to exercise caution for approval: follow all guidelines, ensure no antiques are damaged and mustn’t engage in acts or shoot such films which “may hurt the sentiments of the public, be it their religious sentiments.” Does the last proviso make the grand picture hazy? — INFA