Not done! A message from nine Opposition leaders from eight national parties to Prime Minister Modi. Standing behind AAP’s Manish Sisodia, who’s in Tihar jail in Delhi Liquor policy scam, they condemned the ‘witch-hunt’ and ‘blatant misuse of central agencies against Opposition members.’ The letter signed by Chief Ministers of Telangana, KCR, West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, Punjab, Bhagwant Mann and Delhi Arvind Kejriwal and leaders of SP, Akhilesh Yadav, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, NC Farooq Abdullah; NCP Sharad Pawar; Shiv Sena (UBT) Uddhav Thackeray, noted: allegations against Sisodia are outrightly baseless and smack of a political conspiracy; of total number of key politicians booked, arrested, raided or interrogated by these agencies since 2014, maximum belong to Opposition; these agencies go slow on cases against Opposition politicians who join BJP (cases of then Congress leader and now Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in Saradha chit fund scam, former TMC leaders Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy in Narada sting operation). The letter also dealt with Governors’ offices ‘wilfully undermining democratically elected state governments and choosing to obstruct governance as per their whims and fancies’ (Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Punjab, Telangana or Delhi’s Lt Governor). With the ED conducting searches on Friday last in multiple cities of Bihar, including premises of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s three daughters and RJD leaders, viz a money laundering probe into the land for jobs scam, guess there is more to follow.
However, Telangana is not getting cowed down. Ruling BRS leader and daughter of Chief Minister KCR, K Kavitha, who’s in Delhi to appear before ED in the excise policy case, made this amply clear to BJP at the Centre. On Thursday last, at a press meet she said she had done nothing wrong, instead it was BJP which was targeting leaders at time of elections (due in Telangana year-end) as per its modus operandi. Which is: “since last June, the centre has been constantly sending agencies such as the ED to Telangana, it has conducted IT raids on over 500 businesses, NIA raids on 500 to 600 people, ED raids in 200 places and CBI raids in 100 places, and this was not her issue alone as minimum 15-16 leaders, including MPs and MLAs, have been targeted in different cases…” In contrast, “there’s no ED probe in friendly States or against friendly leaders/businessmen. Heads of ED, SEBI and LIC among other are given extensions to get BJP’s work done”, Kavitha alleged. The tirade didn’t stop at BJP, but Congress too, saying it was no longer a national party, “If it wants to defeat BJP it should give up its arrogance and be a team player, work with all regional parties.” Whether it cuts any ice, time will tell. For the moment she may well be BRS national face. For starters, she sat on a hunger strike on Friday at Jantar Mantar in support of women’s reservation bill with friendly parties joining in. What next?
Migrant Workers in TN
Migrant workers in Tamil Nadu have got entangled in the north-south political wrangle. Several videos on social media purportedly showing migrant workers, especially from Bihar, being attacked and even killed in the southern State has triggered panic, with some said to be leaving the State. However, Chief Minister Stalin sees a BJP plot. On Thursday last, he accused its leaders from ‘North Indian States of spreading rumours about the attack on migrant labourers with bad intentions.’ And this, he claimed was a day after he spoke about the need for a united national-level alliance against BJP. He also spoke to his Bihar counterpart, Nitish Kumar to allay the concern and said that Bihar delegation which visited Chennai and Tiruppur returned ’satisfied’ as there’s no such incident. The DGP termed the videos as ‘fake news’, so far, 11 cases are registered, three arrests made and an FIR lodged against a BJP leader. This apart his teams are reaching out to the workers to give confidence that their safety is ensured and special police teams are camping in Bhopal, Delhi, Bengaluru and Patna to arrest the absconding accused in the case. The situation is said to be ‘peaceful’, but for how long is anybody’s guess given the political undercurrents.
Maha Poll Budget
Eyeing the ensuing BMC elections, the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government has announced a well targeted budget for the voters. The Rs 16,222 crore revenue deficit budget has good news for farmers, women, backward classes and families who would have a girl child. It proposed: Rs 6,000 assistance to farmers in addition to an equal amount by Centre (1.15 crore farmer families to benefit) and Re 1 crop insurance scheme (adding financial burden of Rs 3,312 crore as farmers won’t have to pay premium); working women to get waiver in professional tax (up to Rs 25,000 salary instead of Rs 10,000), 50% discount on state-run bus tickets, a new scheme ‘Shakti Sadan’ to provide shelter to women in distress. Another new scheme, ‘Lek Ladki’ will be launched wherein for yellow/orange ration card holder families, Rs 5,000 subsidy will be given after birth of a girl child, followed by Rs 4,000 in Class 1, Rs 6,000 in Class 6 and Rs 8,000 in Class 11; after turning 18 years, she will receive Rs 75,000. While Finance Minister Fadnavis said the first budget of ‘amrit kaal’ is based on five principles, Opposition said it was ‘full of claims but lacks substance’. It failed to mention the conundrum— freebies being offered which Modi government is targeting in Opposition States!
Cong & Hindu Dharma
Congress workers wake up to a pleasant surprise in Madhya Pradesh. Party chief and former Chief Minister Kamal Nath asked them on Tuesday last to recite ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ before Holika dahan (bonfires) saying Lord Hanuman was ‘disrespected’ at a programme organised by the BJP, which included city’s BJP mayor and a legislator as patron. A video of the event, 13th Mister Junior Bodybuilding Competition in Ratlam on March 4 and 5, went viral on social media, showing women bodybuilders posing in front of Lord Hanuman’s image. Former Congress mayor accused his successor of showcasing “indecency” and local Congress leaders sprinkled ganga jal as a purification exercise. Tweeted Nath: “My heart is pained by this insult to Hindu Dharma. I urge you to burn effigies of evil in your city and village as per the tradition of Sanatam Dharma and recite Sundar-kand (a part of Ramayana) and ‘Hanuman Chalisa…’ Is there a message: If you can’t beat them, join them! — INFA