Centre-States Pow Wow
An unsavoury slugfest between the Centre and Opposition States over Covid vaccination is the last thing that the country needs to be embroiled in. Unacceptable! Allegations of vaccine shortage by Maharashtra, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab have not gone down well with New Delhi. “Vaccine supplies are being monitored on a real-time basis, and State governments are being apprised regularly about it,” has reacted Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. He claimed the charges were “utterly baseless”, particularly in Maharashtra and ‘nothing but an attempt to divert attention from its repeated failures to control the spread of pandemic.’The State had said that it had 13 lakh doses of Covaxin and these would last just 3 days. Vardhan also hit out at Delhi’s request foropening up vaccination to everyone above 18 years of age saying goal posts are being changed to camouflage their poor performance in the vaccination drive. A pointer was vaccination of health care workers. Maharashtra has done only 86%, Delhi 72% and Punjab 64 per cent with the first dose. In comparison 10 States/UTs have done over 90%.
Vardhan also hit out at Chhattisgarh saying that comments of its leaders on efficacy of the Covaxin vaccine was a deliberate move to ‘spread misinformation and panic’ and that it would be better if the State government ‘focusses its energies on ramping up their health infrastructure rather than on petty politicking.’ Though he chose to single out Chhattisgarh on this front, reports say that there are at least 14 States, including BJP-ruled Goa and Himachal Pradesh, which have refrained from using a single dose of Covaxin in their vaccination drive. No words or reprimand for them? It must win confidence of all in this battle against Covid. It’s not enough to warnthat the situation is getting worse, with the country recording 13.1 million cases, and next four weeks being ‘very very critical’, and expressing ‘maximum concern’ over rival governments. It must remember the adage a stitch in time saves nine. Politics in the times of Covid is certainly not touché.
Election Commission has more on its plate than bargained for. The incorrigible West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee takes it on. Two notices have been issued one after another to Didi for violating the Model Code of Conduct during rallies. One, her utterances on Central paramilitary forces, where she accused those on poll duty of functioning under Centre’s instructions, committing excesses and the EC was turning a blind eye, invited a stern rebuke. Stating these as “completely false and provocative,” the poll body has asked for an explanation by today, else she would face stiff action as her remarks were “causing extreme demoralisation amongst the ranks and file of these forces.” Two, she was served notice for appealing to minority voters not to divide their votes between different political parties. True to her style, she shot back with: “Why is that no complaint has been filed against Narendra Modi, who talks about Hindu and Muslim (vote banks) every day? How many complaints have been lodged against those who had uttered the word ‘mini Pakistan’ during the Nandigram campaigns.” Worse, she told the EC that it could issue 10 show-cause notices, but her reply would be the same, “I will always speak against any division of Hindu and Muslim votes.’ Predictably, all eyes are on Nirvachan Sadan how it tames the Bengal tigress, with five phases of elections due.
Setback for MVA
There’s no respite for the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the high profile corruption case against its former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. It’s far from over as it had claimed last week. On Thursday last, the Supreme Court dismissed its petitionand one filed by Deshmukh challenging Bombay High Court order for a ‘preliminary inquiry’ by CBI into allegations levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. The two-judge bench said: ‘nature of allegations, the personas involved and seriousness of allegations do require an independent agency to enquire into the matter. It is a matter of public confidence given the factual scenario…what has been directed is only a preliminary enquiry albeit by an independent agency.” Deshmukh’s counsel had argued the HC order would ‘affect federal structure’ as the State had already withdrawn general consent to CBI to probe cases in its territory. But the apex court was firm: ‘the two personas involved… were closely working together till they fell apart, both holding a particular position. Then should the CBI not investigate?…This is not your enemy who has made these allegations, but almost your right-hand man’.It also ruled out a case of ‘political rivalry’ as alleged by MVA government saying the Centre uses the CBI, not independent, just to settle scores. With that issue settled, all eyes shall now be on CBI’s preliminary enquiry. A fortnight turns out to be along harrowing wait indeed.
Tripura Wakes Up
Tripura seems to have finally woken up it’snot immune to the corona virus and the government is getting its act together. Now, so late? Guess, the realisation dawned only after none other Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb tested positive for Covid-19. There’s a flurry of activity and government has now issued restrictions to control the spread of virus specially in its offices. The list includes: a maximum of 20 persons can attend official meetings; they should sit at least one metre apart; must follow protocols such as wearing of masks, carrying hand sanitizers and visitors would now be allowed entry with prior permission only.It now sees the need to order that wearing of masks or face shields are mandatory at offices and public places and anyone found not wearing a mask will be fined. Insaf recalls its visit to Agartala in early February and to its horror found that Covid protocols were hardly in place. An oft heard response was ‘there’s no Covid here!’ The north-east being ‘different’ came into play. Even in Guwahati, the response was similar. In comparison to other States, Tripura has just ‘70 people under treatment for Covid’ and the positivity rate is a mere 5.19%, as per the State Covid control room. Be that as it may, it must enforce the guidelines it has woken up to and not miss the woods for the trees.
No Monkey Business
It’s no monkey business, be on your guard. A warning which should go out from the Delhi police after it nabbed two robbers, who used their pet monkeys to make good by attacking people and then robbing them. The two men in their twenties were caught on Thursday lastalong with their monkeys in South Delhi. An accomplice is on the run. The modus operandi was simple: the monkeys were trained to ‘threaten’ the victims by shrieking and jumping and when they succeeded in the victim panicking and screaming for help, these men would snatch their wallets or phones. On Thursday luck ran out. The three men had gone to a market with monkeys, who targeted a man, and the three made him sit in an auto, instructed the monkeys to sit beside him, and then robbed him of Rs 6000. But they got arrested thanks to security camera footage. It emerges that they were earning a living by playing instruments at weddings and other events. But three months ago they had a better idea. They caught the monkeys from the Tughlakabad Fort Jungle and ingeniously used them to make that extra buck. No longer as monkeying around got the better of them! — INFA