‘Sharing & Caring’
The kissa kursi ka (tale of the throne) is finally done with in Karnataka! After four long days and nights, the Congress has succeeded in getting state party President DK Shivakumar to accept being number two in the government, to be sworn-in today at Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. He takes over as Dy Chief Minister with former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah getting the top post, after the CLP on Thursday last formally elected him as its leader. A sigh of relief for the grand old party alright, but will it be a cakewalk after a stunning victory? For starters, the new Cabinet and portfolios are to be agreed upon, as Siddaramaiah would want more of a say given his vast experience in running the government and mass appeal among the OBCs, SCs and Muslims across the State. The duo flying into Delhi on Friday to discuss this with the party high command, sends signals that striking a balance may not be easy. The sanctioned strength of the Cabinet is 34 and aspirants from both sides are more.
Plus, Congress has promised to implement its ‘guarantees’including 200 units of free power to all households, Rs 2,000 pm aid to woman head of every family, 10 kg free rice to every BPL household member, on first day of assuming power. A tall order, which raises the next question whether and how will it be able to deliver? While the government will need to get its coffers mathematics right, the victory in Karnataka will be flogged by the grand old party to wean opposition parties on its side to form the elusive non-BJP front for battle 2024. It has for starters invited ‘all national leaders’ to the swearing-in ceremony. However, the list is not shared, and it’s reported that few Chief Ministers, such as of Kerala and Telangana are not on it. Interestingly, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee has been invited but she has designated a party leader to represent her, raising a few eyebrows for soon after the results she had said her party would ‘support Congress where it’s strong’ in general elections. Guess, didi is going to watch the turnout at the stadium, like many others. Will this southern State victory help Congress’ caravan grow?
Insensitive Manipur Govt
The accusation that the BJP government ‘is playing with fire’ in strife torn Manipur is not off the mark. The Supreme Court not only has found the High Court judge’s order ‘obnoxious’ and ‘incorrect’ despite being given an opportunity to correct the judgement granting quota to majority Meiteis, but asked Solicitor General to “advise the constitutional authority (Chief Minister Biren Singh) to make statements with a sense of responsibility,” after his allegedprovocative statements. Worse, 10 Kuki MLAs, including seven from BJP, and various CSOs at a meeting in neighbouring Aizawl, decided not to have any dialogue with the government. The legislators earlier had urged the Centreto create a separate administration, like a UT, for the Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi-Hmar community, but Biren rejected the demand saying, ‘territorial integrity will be protected at all costs.’ Expectedly, but an adamant posture won’t help matters. He would do well to heed to the court’s advice – take steps to ‘foster confidence and ensure peace and tranquillity’, not turn “a blind eye” to the situation. With Karnataka polls over, the Centre must step in. Relief camps for over 6663 displaced people and setting aside Rs 3 crore as relief fund is just scratching the surface. It must get to the bottom of what has gone wrong.
Chhattisgarh Vs ED
Chhattisgarh has set the cat amongst the pigeons. The ED had the Supreme Court telling it ‘Don’t create an atmosphere of fear,” this after Baghel government accusing the agency of “running amok” and trying to implicate the Chief Minister in a money laundering case linked to Rs 2,000 crore liquor scam. “Even a bona fide cause becomes suspect when you (the ED) behave like this,” the bench said, while hearing a plea of two Chhattisgarh-based persons, one arrested by ED in the case, challenging the proceedings initiated under PMLA, whose constitutionality the State government has questioned. It sought impleadment in the case, claiming 52 Excise department officers have complained in writing of “mental and physical torture” by ED officers during the probe. The officers, said the plea, ‘are being threatened by the ED officers of their arrest or of family members and being implicated in cases if they don’t make and sign the statement as desired by them to implicate the CM and other senior officers.” These actions of the ED, it added, are a part of ‘well-orchestrated and targeted attempt by political masters of de-establishing the government.’ The ED has been asked to file its reply, which should be under close watch, as the situation may well be similar in other non-BJP States.
Rajasthan dissident Congress leader Sachin Pilot has bitten more than he can chew! His latest threat to launch an agitation across the State if Chief Minister Gehlot doesn’t act on his demands by month-end, has party functionaries up in arms. Hoardings, with his and BJP MP from Jodhpur and Union Minister Shekhawat photos have sprouted around the city, asking: ‘Why are you silent on Sanjivani scam Pilot ji? People want an answer’. The Cooperative Society scam, under the scanner since august 2019 allegedly had thousands of investors losing Rs 900 crore. Plus, Gehlot has accused Shekhawat of involvement, with the latter filing a defamation complaint. While Pilot’s says his demands seeking action against corruption are to ‘serve the people till his last breath’ and nothing scares him, the hoardings should. Put up by party DCC functionaries, these hint what is being heard in the corridors of power i.e. Pilot has been reaching out to the BJP like Scindia, but the saffron party isn’t biting. With the party High Command backing Gehlot, the young leader may find himself out in the cold in the ensuing Assembly polls. He already has lost his Dy CM and President PCC posts, what next?
No Film Ban
Notwithstanding the controversy, The Kerala Story has unwittingly put the spotlight on governments using the law to “put a premium on public intolerance.” It can’t be so, the Supreme Court told the West Bengal government for “otherwise, all films will find themselves in this spot.” It stayed the States’ ban saying it “suffers from infirmities and isn’t justified” based on materials placed. It also dealt with another plea that theatre owners in Tamil Nadu had decided not to show the movie. In response, the government said despite necessary security given to theatres/multiplexes, their owners decided to stop exhibiting the film because of ‘lack of enthusiastic response from general public.’ Opposing counsel refuted it: “theatres were full up to 95% or 100% capacity.” The court directed “no steps, whether tacit or express, formal or informal” shall be taken by the State or any of its officers, including police to prevent the film screening. It, however, asked the film producer to put a disclaimer: There’s no authentic data to back up suggestion that the figure of conversion is 32000 or any other figure; The film represents a fictionalised version.” Will this put the lid on the controversy. — INFA