Centre in a cleft-stick
For scam-fested UPA-II, the demand for the creation of the Telengana has pushed the Government to the edge of the precipice. Already, over 50 Congress MLAs including 11 Ministers out of 155 legislators in a 294 member Assembly and ten MPs have quit over the issue. The High Command is now burning the midnight oil to keep its flock humoured and intact. Clearly, the Government is buffeted from all sides and at best can only buy time. Happily, the Speaker is abroad and the resignations submitted to the Deputy Speaker are likely to be rejected on technicalities. Should the resignation be accepted, the Government would lose majority. True, the resignation of MPs would not rock the UPA-II’s boat as the RJD, BSP and Samajwadi are eagerly awaiting to be part of the Government. However, as the State returns the maximum number of MPs the Party would hate to open a new front of ‘warring’ new allies.
The Centre has also taken note of the resounding success of the two-day bandh called by the Telengana Joint Action Committee in ten Telangana districts with MLAs belonging to Telangana cutting across Party lines and standing shoulder to shoulder. Ten TRS MLAs, four Congress legislators and two BJP MLAs went together to submit their resignation to the Deputy Speaker. So far, a total of 119 MLAs have resigned to strengthen the pressure on the Centre. Of these 36 belong to the TDP and 11 TRS MLAs. Even as the Union Home Minister, Chidambaram ruled out imposition of President’s rule in the State, the Centre has three options. One, create Telangana. Two, give large funds for the region’s development thereby buying time and three, set up a development council on the lines of the Gorkhaland Hill Council. Both the Central and State Governments are holding their cards closed to their chest to see who will blink first.
SC raps Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh got a sharp rap from the Supreme Court when it declared illegal the State’s much-touted Salwa Judum policy of arming local tribal people as special police officers (SPOs) to fight the militants. Declaring the campaign as an extreme form of “transgression of Constitutional boundaries”, the Court ordered the Centre to stop using its funds to recruit SPOs. The Chhattisgarh order will have wide ramifications in other Maoists-infested States including Jammu & Kashmir and North-East where Salwa Judum is being used. An upset Chief Minister Raman Singh is gearing up to file a review petition against the order while the Centre is ‘studying it’. Given that it would not only severely affect anti-Maoist operations in the inhospitable hilly and forest terrain and make the insurgents bolder to target the unarmed SPOs. But also lead to heavy deployment of security forces which would now carry the extra burden of fighting the militants along-with protecting the SPOs and their families. Fingers are crossed to ensure the safety of the 4800 SPOs in the State.
Rahul’s UP Padyatra
The end game for UP’s State Assembly election due in 2012 has begun. The Congress is first of the block with its General Secretary Rahul Gandhi taking up cudgels for the farmers whose land had been acquired “forcibly” by the State. On the heels of his ‘farmers’ debut’ at Bhatta Parsaul last month, Rahul’s latest gambit is undertaking a padyatra to unite and mobilize farmers over the land acquisition issue. In the Party’s scheme of things this might pay dividends as it cuts through caste equations in the State. Culminating in a Kisan Sammelan at Aligarh later this month. This spells double trouble for Chief Minister Mayawati as it comes on the heels of the Supreme Court striking down her land acquisition policy of 156 acres of land in Greater Noida. It remains to be seen whether Bhatta Parsaul would do for Gandhi what Nandigram did for Mamata Banerjee.
NREGS Findings Of Three States
Three States, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra are embarrassed by the conclusions of the first ever survey done to find out participation of people in the Government’s flagship national rural employment guarantee programme (NREGS). According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the General category participation of villagers was less than 10 per cent as compared to those from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes (25 per cent) and Other Backward Classes (over 55 per cent). Further, the majority of the participation in the NREGS works was either from “agriculture labour or self-employment in agriculture categories of households”. Thereby, reinforcing reports of acute labour shortage for agriculture operations across the country. Appallingly, Andhra had the highest proportion of 84 per cent in this category followed by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Plainly, the Government, as in the case of subsidies, needs to rework the NREGS dynamics.
Delhi India’s Rape Capital
Union Capital Delhi prided for being India’s garden city now earns the ignominy of being the country’s rape Capital as well. Shockingly, in span of two days 1 July to 3 July, five rapes and an attempted molestation were reported from the city. More shameful was the fact that minor girls aged between eight and ten years became the victims of middle-aged men. In a seen straight scene from Bollywood’s film Ragini MMS a teen-aged girl was abducted, raped and filmed by three boys in a moving car. Typically, the Delhi Police nonchalantly dismissed these sexual assault cases as falling in the ‘non-preventable category’ committed by people known to the victims. Not only that. It continues to brag that rape cases have declined by 11 per cent. Clearly, the Police seem to suffer from myopic loss of memory!
Kerala Now Gold Country
From Gods’ own country to gold country. Kerala has touched a new milestone. With the mind boggling treasure haul of over Rs.1 lakh crore and still counting in the famed 16 Century Lord Padmanabhaswamy Temple in the heart of the State Capital Thiruvananthapuram. The wealth unearthed includes a vast collection of gold coins of 1732 vintage, silver, precious stones, jewellery, three gold crowns and idols encrusted with emeralds, rubies and diamonds. So far only five of the six underground vaults have been opened after nearly 150 years. Predictably, this has led to huge debate in the State whether the riches should remain in the temple or be used for development of the State and its people. The Travancore royal family, the temple’s custodian plans to move the Supreme Court to stop further disclosures. Meanwhile, round the clock security has been ordered at the temple and its surroundings. Needless to say this will lead to a new battle of the Gods: Lord Padmanabhaswamy vs. Tirupati’s ruling deity Lord Venkateshwara. —INFA