Shame! That is what Kathua and Unnao rape cases should make people of this country feel. Not just J&K and UP governments but the nation must hang its head in shame. Power and communal politics has raised its ugly head and governance is at its lowest. In Jammu the ‘Hindu Ekta Manch’ leading protests in the city for the accused in the brutal rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl is plain simple unacceptable and must be condemned in the harshest of terms. Plus, the demand for a CBI probe and not by the police officers investigating puts the law and order system under a cloud. Why should religion come into play? And rightly asks the Bakherwal nomad father did his daughter ‘think in terms of Hindu or Muslim?’ The PDP-BJP government must put its coalition in order and not let the divide grow wider. It must give an answer. Likewise, Yogi Adityanath’s government in UP must ensure that justice is done in the gangrape of the 17-year old girl and the murder of her father in the lock-up. It must also give confidence to the girl’s family that they have nothing to fear and return to their village. No more dithering. For those in power must be reminded they are there to serve and not rule. India is no banana republic.
Bengal Poll Farce
West Bengal sets unprecedented muscle power in elections. The ruling party Trinamool Congress’ cadres on Monday last ensured that the party’s candidates for the panchayat polls would have a cakewalk in several seats. Belligerent, armed and violent, the cadres stopped rival Left and Congress candidates from filing their nominations. As a result several of TMC candidates were ‘elected unopposed’– such as 41 of 42 in Birbhum Zilla Parishad, 21 of 37 in Bharatpur II and Barwan and 29 of 30 in Murshidabad’s Kandi! The Opposition obviously cried foul and knocked on the State Election Commission’s door with a plethora of complaints. Shockingly, the latter dithered by first extending the deadline for filing nominations by a day and then rescinded its own order! The Supreme Court too refused to entertain BJP’s petition saying the Calcutta High Court was seized of the matter. The silver lining is that the High Court has stayed the elections process until April 16 and asked the State EC to furnish details on the nomination process. Will it ensure that free and fair polls will not be turned into free-for-all?
Transfer of revenue triggers a North-South divide. Three southern States and one Union Territory have questioned the Terms of References of the 15thFinance Commission saying it was contrary to the principles of ‘federalism’ and would entail performing-States taking on burden of worst-performing counterparts. Thus, on Tuesday last, at a conclave of Finance Ministers of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry in Thiruvanthapuram, the aggrieved States demanded the ToR for devolution of funds to States be ‘reframed’ as well as opposed using of 2011 census to calculate population for allocation of Union tax revenue instead of 1971 census. This because they feared that higher population States would bag a larger share of tax resources and a loss for States that have pursued population control. The Centre has rubbished charges as ‘needless controversy,’ but will keep a watch if the revolt grows. So far, it has a breather with Tamil Nadu and Telangana not joining the bandwagon. But one can never tell.
TN Submerged In Protests
Politics and sportsmanship is a mix-match. The high-pitched Cauvery River waters protests in Tamil Nadu have submerged the cricket crease in Chennai’s stadium too. After the first IPL match, the rest have been shifted to Pune. Worse, it even impacted Prime Minister Modi’s visit to inaugurate the DefExpo on Thursday last. Instead of a road show, he had to take a chopper to avoid the black flags, balloons and shirts en route to greet him! Indeed, with both ruling AIADMK and other Opposition parties including DMK, actors, farmers and citizens hitting the streets since this month against the Centre’s delay in setting up the Cauvery Management Board, the writing on the wall is getting sharper. The Centre can no longer dilly-dally. More so, after the Supreme Court’s wrap and direction to submit a draft scheme for water-sharing between TN and Karnataka by May 3. Obviously, New Delhi’s excuse that setting up of the Board during Karnataka polls would lead to “massive public outrage, vitiate election process and cause serious law and order problems,” did not hold water with the apex court. Now, it’s time to perform.
Odisha Water Woes
Water woes have hit Odisha too. The ruling BJD is peeved with the Centre’s invitation to four other States for a meeting on the Mahanadi water-sharing issue. Act and don’t keep talking, it demands. The State has been in a tug-of-war with BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, due to go the polls later this year and has been insisting the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT), notified by the Ministry of Water Resources as per Supreme Court orders this January be set up without any further delay. Its pleas obviously continue to fall on deaf ears. The Ministry instead prefers a meeting on April 16 in Kolkata, with the other invitees being Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Anger is simmering and rightly, as a major reduction in Mahanadi’s water flow means a severe crisis this May-June. Thus, the BJD has decided to act and will protest ‘through a mass convention’ with 15 districts MPs and MLAs in tow a day before the meeting. Will it stop the Centre from fishing in troubled waters?
Punjab Cops Folly
Punjab is worried about its men in uniform. Its top cops are fighting amongst themselves and worse in full public view, making Chief Minister Amarinder Singh frown. On Wednesday last, he chose to give the officers in the rank of DGP and additional DGPs a lesson or two in discipline. In a ‘closed-door’ meeting he warned them to halt “fighting their personal and professional battles in courts and in the media.” From now on any officer found to be indulging in these acts of “indiscipline” will be dismissed from service, was a terse message.
Apparently, accusations are flying thick and high: DGP (HRD) has made allegations against the State police chief DGP Arora in the Punjab & Haryana Court and DGP (Intelligence) in a drug trafficking case, involving an SSP with an Inspector already under arrest! Resolve your personal issues with the DGP and if that doesn’t work approach the Home Secretary, then Chief Secretary and if nothing works out then knock on my door, Amarinder has told the officers team. Reined in? —INFA