Uttar Pradesh is enjoying its envious position like never before. Its warring BSP-SP leaders are revelling in the power they yield both in national politics and Parliament this winter session. However, whether by design or otherwise, their tough posturing and scramble for one-upmanship ends up in a whimper, putting a question mark on their real intent. Days after the two bailed out the UPA-II over the FDI vote in Parliament, the BSP supremo and SP patriarch had yet another opportunity to seek their pound of flesh. This time it was in the Rajya Sabha, where the Bill providing for reservation to SC/ST in Government job promotion, has been pending. While Mayawati has been pushing for its passage vociferously in what is being seen as a quid pro quo, Mulayam has opposed it. The SP members were seen disrupting the House repeatedly to ensure it was not taken up. But on Thursday last, they finally relented by staging a walkout, and facilitating a discussion on the Bill. While BSP chief can claim victory over her bête noire in this round, Mulayam may grudgingly concede. Noticeably the patriarchy has got a hard knock by the Supreme Court, which refused to stop the CBI inquiry against him and son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in the disproportionate asset case. While his stepping back may be seen as a sign of weakness by some or strength by others, the fact remains that UP politics is taking centre stage.
West Bengal’s Shame
West Bengal MLAs should hang their head in shame. On Tuesday last, the State Assembly witnessed a never before low, when members of the Trinamool Congress and the Left exchanged fisticuffs and abuses in the House, following denial of a debate on the Left Front’s adjournment motion on chit funds. Worse, it was reported that a CPM woman MLA was “pulled by the hair” and “lifted in the treasury benches” by male MLAs! Three MLAs including two women MLAs from both sides had to be hospitalised in the melee. While three CPM members’ who used foul language, smashed the Speaker’s mike and tore the papers on his table, were suspended for the rest of the session, this should be no consolation. The unruly scenes were the worst in the history of the Assembly, when Left members it is reported indulged in throwing eggs and tomatoes at the chair and even a shoe at the then Governor Dharmavira way back in the sixties. Times are indeed changing, and sadly for the worse.
Centre’s Andhra Woes
Andhra Pradesh and its contentious issue of separate statehood for Telangana continue to give a headache to the Congress, both in the State and Centre. While New Delhi has called an “all-Party meet” on December 28, there is confusion abound among the various stakeholders. One, the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) on Wednesday last, has sought “clarity” from the Centre on the purpose for the invite and that all parties should spell out their stand on Telangana statehood before the meet. Two, Congress leaders from Seemandhra region have taken on their counterparts from Telangana by demanding a change in date (either before or after) as it clashes with the three-day World Telugu Conference in Tirupati from 27-29. Insisting that the Conference must get “top priority for any Telugu-speaking person irrespective of his region”, they have threatened a series of demonstrations to put pressure on the Centre. Will it yield? While there is no denying the Centre finds itself caught between the devil and the deep sea, it can ill-afford to be vague. 2012/13 cannot end up like 2010 or 11 with the all-party meets offering no solution.
Karnataka’s Jigsaw Puzzle
Political developments in Karnataka are getting more intriguing by the day. The Damocles sword continues to hang over BJP’s Jagadish Shettar government. However, neither rebel BS Yedduyruppa’s Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) nor the Congress is showing signs of going in for the kill. With 13 MLAs openly attending BSY’s party launch, a big question mark hangs over Shettar enjoying a majority in the 225-member Assembly, if a no-confidence motion is moved. But who will do this, is the conundrum. Odd as it may sound, the Congress and the KJP want the BJP itself to dissolve the 225-member House and go to polls! They insist that Shettar no longer enjoys a simple majority of 113 MLAs but want to do little else for him to prove it. On its part, the BJP has decided not take action against the 13 rebel MLAs and instead get cracking on implementing development projects across the State, as it has six months time before the polls. Will it survive?
Gujarat Seals Fate
Fate of many political heavyweights in Gujarat has been sealed in boxes. With polling for 87 seats completed in the first phase of polling on Thursday last, a total of 846 candidates in the fray can finally take a breather, at least till December 20, when counting begins. However, it may not be easy for some, including State BJP president Faldu, Modhwadia, Congress Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil and Assembly Speaker Ganpat Vasava, given the background of the previous election in 2007, when the margin of victory in about quarter of the seats was below 5,000 votes. Though many pollsters have said that the BJP would romp home, delimitation, narrow poll margins and local factors could play spoilsport for the BJP which has put up candidates in all 87 seats. Of key interest would be how former Chief Minister and Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) chief Keshubhai Patel and his team fare. More so, as GPP’s entry into the fray has forced a three-cornered contest in many seats (witnessed after over a decade), keeping everyone guessing which of the two, the Congress or the BJP would face the brunt.
States’ Condom Dip
The Centre has reason to worry on the population front. Recent statistics reveal that 22 of the 34 States & Union Territories have recorded a drop in the usage of condoms in 2010-11. Of these, five States have recorded the highest low: Kerala (33%), Haryana (31%), Madhya Pradesh (39%), Sikkim (38%) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (50 %). Worse, every State which is ‘high-focus non-northeast’ shows a similar trend with Rajasthan revealing 23%, Uttar Pradesh 17%, Jharkhand 24%, Odisha and Chhattisgarh 22% and Himachal Pradesh 20% dip. But it is not all bad news for the Union Health Ministry. Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir have shown an increase of 38% and 8% usage. Likewise, N-E States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have an upward trend of 44%, 35% and 122% respectively. The Ministry has tried to resolve procurement issues and is hopeful that with the help of contraceptives it would be able to achieve its population target of 165 crore in 2060.