BJP-NPPs daily snipe

Editor,

Your newspaper reports on the daily name calling between the NPP and BJP; between the NPP and Congress and at times the BJP and UDP shows that all is not well in the MDA coalition government. What’s worse is the infighting in the BJP. Now a BJP legislator, Sanbor Shullai, who of course is larger than the Party and knows it, has thrown the spanner into the works by publicly declaring that the present BJP President, Ernest Mawrie was elected to the post by manipulation. This is an allegation that delegitimizes the BJP in Meghalaya. The BJP is yet to take roots in this hill state and it needs a leadership that is credible and cannot be challenged especially by its own party MLA. Interestingly, the BJP-in charge, Meghalaya, Dr M Chuba Ao, does not seem to be in touch with the party affairs here. Sanbor Shullai has actually said in so many words that under Mawrie the BJP is losing its grip over Meghalaya. The emboldens the BJP baiters like the NPP National President, and Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma to cock a snook at the BJP and to also dare the two MLAs supporting the present MDA Government to leave the coalition if the Party is unhappy. This is looking like a very inconvenient marriage. The constant taunt by the NPP and the bickering between the NPP and BJP over the Garo Hills District Council affairs makes it untenable for the BJP to be part of the MDA.

The BJP President revealed to the media the scams in the Garo Hills District Council, details of which he got via RTI. Since then the NPP has been badgering the BJP without showing even the minimum respect for a coalition partner. Of course the right thing to do for the BJP is to stop the bickering and tell its two MLAs to cut ties with the MDA Government. But the BJP President does not seem to have any control over the two MLAs who are both larger than the BJP and nor does he have their respect. Ernest Mawrie has a very unenviable task as BJP State President. I wonder what the rank and file in the BJP have to say about this entire imbroglio which has taken a very ugly turn and dented the image of the BJP in Meghalaya.

The BJP bigwigs in Delhi care two hoots about what happens to a small state with 60 MLAs and just 2 Lok Sabha MPs. Before the next Assembly elections, Amit Shah and Modi will both come and begin to woo people here and make big talk, without actually understanding what makes people vote a particular candidate. The BJP should know that in Meghalaya as in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland fighting elections requires a lot of money. Both Sanbor Shullai and AL Hek have the money. Other BJP candidates will find it difficult to match them, at least monetarily. Moreover, people know that the BJP even at the national level only makes big talk about corruption. They don’t really care as long as they win elections. So much for, ‘Na khaunga, na khane dunga.’ Politicians, be it Modi or anyone else never say what they mean or mean what they say. Period!

Yours etc.,

NL Sawkmie,

Via email

Indian-Khasi or Khasi-Indian

Editor,

The two part article, ‘On Being Indian and Khasi’ by Dominick Rymbai  (ST Feb 17&18, 2021), is very thought provoking. It reminds me of Amartya Sen who said that as Indians our identities are and should be fluid. We have multiple identities depending on our race, religion and community and should allow this fluidity to prevail. The freezing of identity into an exclusive little domain in a country that once believed in diversity is fraught with grave consequences.  A Khasi is an Indian and that should be gracefully accepted since our ancestors signed the Instrument of Accession into this country on their own volition and not under duress. In that sense it is a well considered view that acceding to India is no accident. We have to learn to live with that and give up the idea that we are a special people descended from some mythical umbilical cord and every other myth that makes us believe we deserve special treatment. We are Indians and are subject to Indian laws which also grant us 80 reservations in jobs and education by virtue of our scheduled tribe status. Let’s also learn to accept that no human species is unique.

Yours etc.,

Pdiangti Khongsngi,

Via email

Fuel price hike

Editor,

Faulty  and  unfair  system  of  taxation  by  the  Central  and  State  governments  has  led  to  frequent  hike  in  fuel  prices  in  India.  In  fact,  Indians  pay  four  times  for  a  litre  of  petrol  compared  to  crude  oil  prices.  Governments  levy  high  taxes,  commissions  and  other  charges  on  the  consumers  so  that  fuel  prices  do  not  go  down  significantly  in  India  even  when  crude  oil  prices  are  very  low.  The  government’s  only  response  to  the  soaring  fuel  prices  has  been  a  deafening  silence.

Fuel  prices  in  India  are  fixed  not  in  proportion  to  the  international  crude  oil  prices.   Every  time  global  crude  oil  prices  increase,  Indian  oil  companies  pass  on  the  increase  on  highly  taxed  petrol  and  diesel.  If  crude  oil  prices  drop  in  the  international  market,  prices  in  retail  should  come  down  too.  But   this   does not happen  most  of  the  time.  Statistics   shows  that   even  though  crude  oil  prices  dropped  many  times   before  and  after  the  COVID-19  lockdown,  Indians  paid  very  high  prices  for  petrol. This  happens  because  every  time  crude  oil  prices  fall,  the  government  imposes  fresh  taxes.  On  May 5, 2020 when  crude  oil  prices  fell  to  Rs 14.75  from  Rs 28.84  per  litre,  the  government  increased  excise  duty  by  Rs 10  per  litre  on  petrol and  Rs 13  per  litre  on  diesel.  In  this  way  the  government  garnered  an  additional  revenue  of  Rs 1.6 lakh  crore.

Notwithstanding  the  drop  in  tax  collection  in  other  sectors,  tax  collection  from  fuel  has  not  dropped.  Fuel  prices  are  revised  daily  and  the  government  has  no  control  over  fixing  prices.  When  oil  prices  fall,  the  government  imposes  taxes  on  the  base  price  so  that  it  gets  sufficient  revenue  from the   taxes.  In  fact,  it  is  not  right  to  tax  fuel  heavily.  As fuel  prices  increase,  it  will  lead  to  price  rise.  The  poor  will  be  at  the  receiving  end  and  they  will  have  to  bear  the  brunt  of  price  rise.  Hike  in  fuel  prices  will  adversely  affect  the  poor  and  the  lower-middle-class.  It  is  ironic  that  while  the  government  is  determined  to  place  an  intolerable  burden  on  the  poor,  it  is  reluctant  to  tax  profits  earned  by  super  rich  people.

Yours  etc.,

Venu  GS,

Kollam

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