Tiny Lakshadweep has hit national headlines, for all the wrong reasons. Misplaced ‘reforms’, as proposed by Administrator P K Patel in the Union Territory have ruffled feathers not only of locals, led to a division in the BJP including central level, but also Kerala, which has strong social and cultural links and Congress and Left parties —all writing to President Kovind and Prime Minister Modi demanding intervention and his recall. His proposals, termed as ‘autocratic and unilateral’ range from a ban on beef in the Muslim-dominated territory, to disqualifying panchayat poll aspirants with more than two children, to introduction of a Goonda Act even though the crime rate on the islands is very low,and establishment of a development authority with powers to acquire land,and developing roads as per National Highway standards, which are not required. Patel is accused behaving like a king, furthering ‘business interests of people in mainland and hell bent on destroying the islands. Perhaps, as he rubbed shoulders with the powerful: he served as Gujarat’s Home Minister when Modi was CM. The administrator rubbishing all criticism, justifies his proposals as: the islands haven’t witnessed development in past 70 years; we are laying the foundation for their future in a planned way and to develop it in two decades on the lines of Maldives, a global tourist hub!There’s more than meets the eye! The saffron party’s hidden agenda, did we hear?
Haryana’s Check on Protests
Is it Haryana government’s way to rein in the farmers’ protests? The timing suggests an affirmative yes. On Wednesday last, Governor Arya gave assent to Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property Act.The State can now recover from protestors if any damage is done to people’s shops, vendor carts, houses, government offices, vehicles, buses and other public property in guise of any movement. Home Minister Vij has cautioned any such movement in future will hamper the intention to damage people or public property and though ‘carrying out such movements is a part of democracy,it is incorrect to harm in guise of it.’ Recall, there was stiff opposition in March when ‘Haryana Recovery of damages to property during disturbance to public Bill, 2021’was passed by a voice vote in Assembly. Chief Minister Khattarsaid: “it’s necessary to instil fear in minds of those who damage property, this is our constitutional legal system.”What he doesn’t admit is it comes at a time when the government is facing intense farmers’ agitation. Clearly, he has taken a leaf out of Yogi Adityanath’s book. Uttar Pradesh is the first State to bring a similar Bill. Will he be as successful?
Jharkhand is determined to slug it out with the Centre. The latest row is over wastage of vaccines, wherein Union Health Ministry has put the State on top of the list among others. Its data says Jharkhand’s wastage proportion is 37.3%, as against Chhattisgarh (30.2%), Tamil Nadu (15.5%), J&K (10.8%), Madhya Pradesh (10.7%) — much higher than national average of 6.3%. But the State claims it’s just 4.65%.Chief Minister Soren goes a step further and in a tweet,said the Centre’s data is “just not confusing but also laughable.” Till nowthe State, he contested, has ‘received 48.63 lakh vaccines and Centre’s figure show the State has used 40.12 lakh vaccines on its population — which can be cross-checked with CoWin app data and certificates issued…37% of 48.63 lakh would be around 18 lakh then how come we administered 40.12 lakh to the people’! Earlier, he took on the Centre for not giving enough aid as per expectations to tackle Covid-19. In a tweet, he said: “Today, respected PM called. He only spoke his ‘mannkibaat’. It would have been better if he had talked about something fruitful and listened.”Looks like neighbour,West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee style of taking a dig is rubbing off on Soren?
Karnataka Vaccine, Land Mess
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappahas more on his plate than he can handle. Two fronts swamp him —shortage of vaccine amidst rising number of covid cases and group of party MLAs wanting to unseat him. On vaccine front, the High Court has taken note of the grim status wherein government centres are claiming unavailability of first doses of vaccine for the 18-44 group, but private hospitals are carrying out the vaccinations! It asked both State and Central government to scrutinise the issue in ‘context of equality before law as per Article 14 of Constitution.’ The vaccination drive to the new age-group, barring frontline workers, is halted since May 14 due to vaccine shortages and government wants to conserve it for 2nd dose. Yediyurappanot only needs to prepare a strategy for the court, but pray his olive branch to adversaries in State BJP keeps them at bay. The Cabinet put on hold the controversial land deal to sell 3,667 acres in Ballari region to steel major JSW Steel, cleared in April, as many MLAs were against it. The anti-Yediyurappa camp was collecting signatures and even approached top leadership for an all BJP MLAs meeting around June 7. New Delhi seems to have calmed down tempers. For the time being or will CM be kept on edge of his seat?
J&K Political Flutter
There is a flutter of political activity in the Valley finally. Will it nudge J&K administration to respect elected representatives?Cutting across political divisions, Mayor Mattuand 60 members of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) are on indefinite hunger strike against Jt. Commissioner (Planning) Ghulam Mir, accusing him of corruption and demanding he be asked to go. SMC’s revenue, they allege has fallen “significantly” and files regarding building permission are kept pending at his home for months, whereas earlier they would take a decision in a month. Plus, they are made to feel subservient to bureaucrats, who are protocol wise below them. Worse, they feel humiliated as Mir is said to have givena statement that all corporators ‘are thieves, and have vested interest,’ and are pushed to background during foreign dignitaries visit. But he isn’t the only target. They are upset with the Commissioner too and demand he be sent back to Gujarat. It’s a beginning alright and who shall blink first is worth a watch.
Live-in-relationships conundrum in Haryana. Accepted or frowned by society? Of three rulings in Punjab & Haryana High Court, two were against and one in favour! Allowing a petition for protection by a couple in a live-in relationship, a single judge bench observed “the individual has the right to formalise the relationship with the partner through marriage or to adopt the non-formal approach of a live-in-relationship” and directed police to ensure neither lives or liberty of the couple is harmed. In law, he said “such a relationship is not prohibited nor does it amount to commission of any offence” and hence “such persons are entitled to equal protection of laws as any other citizen.” Just a couple of days earlier two single judge benches had dismissed similar petitions saying “if such protection is granted, entire social fabric of society would get disturbed”, as such relationship is “morally and socially not acceptable”, agreeing with State counsel that these “are not legal and are frowned upon by society”. Will they now ponder over their colleague’s reasoning: it’s a western concept which found acceptance in metro cities; education has played a great role; concept has percolated down to small towns/villages and social acceptance is on rise. Times are changing! — INFA