Rajasthan out, straight fight?

Cong Presidential Poll

By Insaf

Rajasthan Congress’ high drama nearly turned the grand old party’s presidential poll into a tamasha. Fortunately, for the Congress, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot decided to bring down the curtains and on Thursday last announced he won’t be contesting for the top party seat. Not only did he take moral responsibility for the political crisis in his State, wherein MLAs supporting him defied central observers and blocked holdingof a the legislators meeting, but apologised to the top command Sonia Gandhi and left it to her whether he shall retain the CMkursi. The focus has since shifted to 24 Akbar Road, AICC headquarters in New Delhi. Veteran leader and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, filed his nomination on Friday last and his challenger will be MP and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor. This after senior leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh decided not to run for the post and back Kharge. Polling is to take place on October 17 and the winner will be announced on October 19.With the last date of nominations over, the party can heave a sigh of relief there shall be no more dramas. The big question, however, is will there be a contest at the end of the day? Or will the party, which will have a non-Gandhi elected after over two decades, opt for consensus chief? And say: All’s well that ends well!

Ban on Islamic Outfit
The Popular Front of India (PFI) continues to hit headlines. Following raids by NIA, ED and state police forces across States, the Centre on Wednesday last banned the Islamic outfit for five years under the anti-terror law, UAPA, accusing it of having “links” with global terror groups and spreading communal hatred in the country. PFI’s political offshoot Social Democratic Party of India has hit out against the ban saying it was part of the “undeclared emergency” clamped by the BJP-led government. It has always claimed to be a social organisation working for upliftment of Muslims, but the Centre trashes it and has even put its 8 associates in list of organisations outlawed under the Act. The NIA alleged the outfit has been extensively using social media for recruiting youths for anti-national activities, involved in anti-government propaganda, spreading the narrative that Muslims were being persecuted, taken a lead in organising anti-CAA protests, among other charges. Interestingly, while many mainstream political parties agree with the ban, some in Opposition, have asked for a similar ban on RSS, saying it too has flared up communal hatred with its radical ideology and tried to create division in society! Clearly, it’s a no-go for the Centre. Now, with a tribunal being set up to adjudicate whether or not there’s sufficient cause for declaring PFI “unlawful association”, the big question is whether the outfit will be able to put up a defence?

Uttarakhand Infamy
It’s shameful, to say the least. The murder of young receptionist Ankita Bhandari at a resort near Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, allegedly by the resort owner Pulkit Aryaand two of his accomplices has sent shock waves across the country. More so, as Pulkit is the son of former BJP leader Vinod Arya, who was expelled by the party after the case, wherein it’s alleged she refused to provide “special services” to ‘VIP guests’ brought the leader’s son at the resort and paid a price with her life!Besides, the police is accused of dragged its feet given the political clout. Predictably, it was damage control as always as the case went viral on social media. On Wednesday last, the Dhami government announced the case is to be tried in a fast-track court; Rs 25 lakh compensation to be given to Ankita’s family; a revenue police sub-inspector has been suspended for alleged dereliction of duty as he didn’t register an FIR despite being informed about her disappearance on September 19 itself.Be that as it may, the government would need to get its act together as this case may just be a tip of the iceberg. All eyes would be on the investigation but more needs to be done. Resorts in the hill State allegedly being run as ‘dens of sin’ needs to be acted upon. Better sooner than later.

‘Real” Shiv Sena Battle
The Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of Shiv Sena received another setback. On Tuesday last, a Constitution bench of Supreme Court rejected its plea and allowed NirvachanSadanto go ahead with the hearing of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde group’s petition seeking recognition as the ‘real’ SS and being allocated the party ‘bow-and-arrow’ poll symbol. The Uddhav group had sought to restrain the Election Commission proceedings. The arguments in the big battle of who is the ‘original’ SS are worth a mention. The Uddhav group claims ‘the election symbol order can be invoked only when the claimant belongs to the same political party but claims to be of a rival group.’ Plus, Shinde “is no longer in the party and membership has been given up. How does the EC hear him then?” The EC argued it’s ‘free to decide who constitutes the aspect of majority.’ Governor Koshiyari counsel contended the EC‘is only deciding which faction is real and be allowed to proceed with Shinde’s plea’. The Shinde group argued “an election symbol is not the property of an MLA and to which faction it belongs has to be decided by the EC”. The issue veers around merger, defection and disqualification. A tall order for the EC and it must be above board. For it must remember: Not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done!

Kursi& Deity’s Portrait
BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh has a rare first to its credit! The Chief Minister on Tuesday last held a Cabinet meeting in the temple town of Ujjain and lo and behold ceded his seat to Lord Mahakal’s portrait. Unprecedented indeed in the history of the State and many would simply saying ‘not done’. Photographs of a large portrait of Lord Mahakal, placed in the middle of the rectangular table and on the place reserved for the CM went viral on social media. While State BJP leaders have defended and hailed the gesture with one even referring to the Ramayana, saying Bharat ruled Ayodhya with ‘charan padukas’ when Lord Ram was in exile, there are many adverse reactions. Such as: “God is present everywhere. There’s no need to show it exclusively in government or administration”, “Ours is a secular state. Tomorrow, people belonging to other faiths will too demand the government to do such a thing”, “Will the government do the same if people of other faiths demand the same?” Chouhan needs to answer. He could have visited the temple of lord Shiva with his team in tow instead to get blessings. Guess, with Assembly polls November next year the gesture would have gone unnoticed. — INFA