West Bengal Scandal
West Bengal’s fiery Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is caught on the backfoot. Despite putting up a strong front, her and TMC’s image has taken a severe beating in the School Service Commission jobs scam, with the ED having seized nearly Rs 50 crores of cash and Rs 5 crores of jewellery apart from foreign currency between Partha Chatterjee and his ‘aide’ Arpita Mukherjee. Pushed into damage control after 5 days, in a meeting on disciplinary affairs, the party on Thursday last, finally sacked Partha as Cabinet minister, party Secretary-General, national working committee member and Vice-President, Editor, party mouthpiece Jago Banglaand suspended him from TMC‘till the probe continues’. Diditook charge of his portfolios — commerce & industries, IT, parliamentary affairs and public enterprises, till a ‘new Cabinet’.
Right reaction, but wrong clarification by the party: “We want to know the source of this huge amount of black money…If anyone betrays the people or uses our party platform in self-interest to create a mechanism of making money, the party will not support him. We also demand the strongest punishment of the accused in corruption matters.” Surely, people are not fools or naïve. Is it possible the supremo wasn’t aware of her heavyweight colleague making a huge buck? Was it his booty or for the TMC, as is the case with political parties? The BJP, like others would know. For its state leader said: Partha ‘was made a scapegoat. He can’t mastermind the scam alone. The entire government is involved. We want CM’s resignation…” Not happening. But will the Bengal tigress’ fangs get blunted, will Didi too fall in line?
Awry One Year
Is there more than meets the eye in Karnataka? Chief Minister Bommai decided to cancel celebrations to mark his government’s one year in office on Thursday last. A mega rally ‘Janotsava’ to mark 3 years of BJP rule was too cancelled. The reasoning: the murder of a youth party activist in Dakshina Kannada district two day ago. Was it his conscience or that Bommai doesn’t have much to offer during his stewardship? It’s no secret of him being beleaguered by uncertainty over his kursi. Maintaining communal harmony has been a tall order for him; there’s a ‘sense of indecisiveness,’ with him wary of taking any decisions on governance without consultations with party leadership; he hasn’t been able to induct a full Cabinet, despite many trips to Delhi; there are complaints of large number of files pending clearances; he’s promoting Hindutva but doing precious little on attacks on Dalits, minorities etc; he has backtracked on changes made in school textbooks following protests; High Court has scathing observations on probe in high-profile corruption cases viz IAS/IPS officers, et al. The Opposition has labelled the cancelled celebrations as a “Bhrasht Utsav (festival of corruption)”. Despite all, Bommai has continued as he has kept the party and RSS leadership ‘in good humour.’Will he lead the party in 2023, will be a nagging question alright.
Meghalaya Sex Racket
The BJP in Meghalaya is red in the face. Its Vice President Bernard N Marak, accused of running a sex racket at his farmhouse in Tura, West Garo Hills,was arrested on Tuesday last from Hapur, Uttar Pradesh, following a lookout notice. A former militant leader, Marak went into hiding after a police raid on the premises‘Rimpu Bagan’, during the weekend, where 73 people were arrested, six minors (four boys and 2 girls)rescued and hundreds of liquor bottles and condoms, besides dozens of cars seized!Marakwho faces charges under sections of IPC and Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, and has over 25 criminal cases against him since early 2000s across the State, claims he is ‘innocent’ and alleges it’s ‘political vendetta’ by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, heading the ruling MeghalayaDemocratic Alliance and fears for his life. The state BJP is backing his claim. However, the government has rejected the allegations and left it to law to takes its own course. Predictably, tension between the ruling alliance is coming out in the open. How serious only time will tell. A court issuing non-bailable warrant against Marak, aids the NPP partner. BJP can continue crying hoarse.
Onus On Kejriwal
The ball is clearly in Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s court. On Wednesday last, he may have heaved a sigh of relief with a court order but the onus on him should be more weighing. Dismissing a petition to suspend Delhi minister Satyendar Jain from the Cabinet following his arrest since May 30 in a money laundering case, a two-judge bench of Delhi High Court said it’s for the CMto act in the best interest of the state and to consider whether a person with a criminal background should be allowed to continue as a minister or not.It held it’s ‘not for the court to either direct the Governor or Chief Minister’ for removing a person having committed a breach of oath, but only a duty ‘to remind these key duty holders about their role to preserve, protect and promote the ethos and uphold the Constitution’s tenets.’ The court even quoted Ambedkar’s statement: “…however, good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot. The Constitution’s working doesn’t depend wholly upon its nature.” So will Kejriwal be guided by constitutional principles and set another example of Delhi’s model governance?
Gujarat A Dry State?
Gujarat’s hooch tragedy, which has claimed 42 lives so far, clearly reveals chinks in the armour of the dry State. Nearly 97 people are still admitted in hospitals in Bhavnagar, Botad and Ahmedabad, where the spurious illicit liquor was sold. Primary investigations by police have revealed that some small-time bootleggers of different villages of Botad district had made spurious liquor by mixing water with methyl alcohol or Methanol, a highly poisonous industrial solvent, and sold it to villagers for Rs 20 per pouch. The Minister of State for Home said on Thursday last,police officials stand suspended; trial to be held in a fast-track court; control over production and sale of methyl alcohol is to be tightened, an inquiry to be conducted and report will be submitted within 3 days. Same old response but is the policy of a dry State being honestly pursued? The Congress asks: ruling forces are giving protection to the “mafias”of spurious liquor and drugs. A BJP leader has an interesting formula: “Those contesting polls should stop distributing alcohol during elections. If 182 MLAs decide, not a single drop of illegal liquor will be in the market…Instead of writing letters, MLAs with locals support should conduct Janta Raid on liquor dens— a regular exercise, not symbolic.” A former Home Minister does one better: “No stringent law can enforce total prohibition, it’s better if quality liquor is provided…If you want to consume alcohol, have a quality one just like the milk supplied by cooperative milk dairies, and the government should make it available likewise”. Any takers? — INFA