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Governance Paralysed:KARNATAKA MESS CONTINUES, by Insaf,31 October 2007 Print E-mail

Round The States

New Delhi, 31 October 2007

Governance Paralysed


                         By Insaf                          

Karnataka continues to bleed and suffer --- politically Governance in the State has been virtually paralysed for the past many weeks, thanks to the shenanigans of the politicians, especially the highly discredited Gowda duo of father and son. Imposition of President’s rule on the State on October 9 brought a glimmer of hope for the common people. Yet the mess has continued, this time thanks to the Governor, Rameshwar Thakur, and the powers that be --- the UPA Government and its Congress bosses. Both have been calculatedly dragging their feet in gross violation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the judgments of the Supreme Court. Otherwise, a BJP-JD(S) Government should have been sworn-in by now, ending the impasse and the administrative paralysis.

Governor Thakur should have clinched matters once the BJP and JD(S) paraded 129 MLAs in support of Yedyurappa as Chief Minister. But he chose not to do so. Surprisingly, he spoke of “consultations” with the Centre, which were not required. He also spoke about stability and horse-trading. In doing so, he ignored the Supreme Court’s land mark ruling in regard to President’s rule. In the case of S.R. Bommai, a former Karnataka CM, it ruled that whether a Government enjoyed a majority or not was to be decided only on the floor of the House.  Not so long ago, the Supreme Court ruled in the Bihar Assembly dissolution case that the shifting stand of the political parties could not be a ground for dissolution of House.  Basically, the Congress has had one clear strategy. Somehow keep the BJP out and ensure a Congress Government. Or, dissolve the House and order a fresh poll.

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Jharkhand Booms To Naxal Terror

Naxal terror struck Jharkhand last week with ghoulish vengeance. Killing 18 people including former Chief Minister Babu Lal Marandi’s youngest son Anup. Dressed in CRPF khakis, they opened fire at the end of a football tournament in Chilkhari village in Giridih district. Not only did they cock a snook at the joint operations being conducted by the Bihar and Jharkhand Governments to flush them out but this is the first time that the Red Brigade has targeted main line politicians. Specially against the backdrop that the local polity have accepted Naxalites as an inseparable part of the system at the grassroots. So much so that poll-time boycott calls by the extremists are often “bought off” by candidates, whatever their party affiliation.  Clearly, this holds ominous portends for the polity as Marandi was the only leading politician in the forefront of the anti-Maoist campaign in the State.

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Nandigram Erupts Again

After a lull of a few months Nandigram once again erupted in violence last week and turned in to a war zone with battle lines drawn between the Trinamool Congress and the Left parties. Four CPM supporters were killed in a bomb blast and gun shots were reportedly fired at the convoy of the Trinamool Chief, mercurial Mamata Banerjee. Predictably, this sparked off fresh trouble all over the State. With accusations and counter-accusations flung against each other by CPM leaders and Mamata. Trinamool activists retaliated by blocking roads and railway tracks in large parts of Hubli and also gave a bandh call, which paralysed the whole State. Making most of the war of words between the two political rivals, the Bhumi Uchchhed Prattirodh Committee paralysed large parts of East Midnapore by calling a bandh.

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Nitish Hits Laloo’s Come Back Plan

Bihar once again resonated to the sounds of ‘Jab tak samose mein aaloo, tab tak Bihar mein Laloo’ as the former Chief Minister of Bihar and the Railway Minister and RJD Chief held a massive Chetna Rally in the State. This was Laloo Yadav’s first trip to his home State after his defeat in the 2004 Assembly polls. A worried Laloo left no stone unturned to make this rally a resounding success to mark his arrival back in the State politics. Many special trains ferried people from all over the State and the neighbouring areas for the rally held in the Capital, Patna. The NDA Chief Minister Nitish Kumar didn’t take things lying down either. He announced his Government’s decision to reserve 50 per cent seats in the three layers of the panchayati raj system for the most backward castes’ and thereby not only consolidated his socio-political base but also hit Laloo’s comeback plan hard.

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UNPA To Mulayam’s Defence

The newly-formed UNPA has come to the defence of beleaguered Samajwadi Chief Mulayam Singh in his controversial disproportionate assets case. Calling it a “politics of revenge,” the TDP Chief and Convener of the anti-Congress front Chandrababu Naidu accused the Congress of being vengeful and victimizing the Samajwadi supremo and his kin. Notwithstanding the fact that the Supreme Court has issued notice to Mulayam and his family in the assets case after the CBI reportedly found evidence of huge property acquisitions. Needless to say, the action of the premier investigation agency is bound to further widen the Mulayam-Congress rift. Even as the CPI (M) Chief Prakash Karat met with SP leaders to enlist their support for the Left’s opposition to the nuclear deal.

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Unprecedented March Of Landless

New Delhi was besieged last Monday when 25,000 landless people barged into the Union Capital to demand land rights for the displaced and the landless. Under the banner of Ekta Parishad, they marched on foot from Gwalior to Delhi, taking 30 days. Significantly, the marchers included 250 foreigners from 29 countries. Over Rs. 3 crore to 4 crore was spent to feed, shelter and march the landless poor to Delhi to register their angst with the top powers that be. An anxious Prime Minister responded promptly and successfully prevented the marchers from reaching Parliament Street, the normal venue for rallies and demonstrations. Two committees were grandiosely announced at Ram Lila ground on behalf of Manmohan Singh. One, the National Land Reform Council, headed by the PM himself and two a committee on State Agrarian Relations & Unfinished Land Reforms. With the “solemn promise” that these panels would look into all land-related issues and make appropriate recommendations. It is a moot point whether these committee lollypops will sweeten the bitter lives of the landless!

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Sting Creates Tehelka For Modi

The Tehelka sting has indeed created tehelka for Narender Modi, who is seeking a third term as Gujarat’s Chief Minister. Notwithstanding Modi’s decision to brazen out all exposures with the response: “I will not comment.” The sting operation purportedly quotes the 2002 Godhra riot foot soldiers (Bajrang Dal, VHP and Shiv Sena men) disgustingly boasting about having carried out the killings with State support and having been sheltered by the Administration against the subsequent judicial onslaught.  As the Congress, various regional parties and human rights activist up the ante for Modi’s removal, following the Ahmedabad District Collector “blacking out” the TV coverage, the sting threatens to boomerang on the Congress. Reportedly, it has triggered the polorisation of voters in favour of the beleaguered Chief Minister. Will the polls be ‘hai hai Modi’ or ‘jai jai’ Modi’? Time will tell before too long.---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)




States Alerted Again:TERROR STRIKES IN FESTIVE SEASON ?, by Insaf,24 October 2007 Print E-mail

Round The States

New Delhi, 24 October 2007

States Alerted Again


                                                                  By Insaf

All the States have been put on a red alert by the Centre once again, following unprecedented terrorist violence and turmoil in Pakistan. The Punjab Police have strongly cautioned their counterparts in Jammu and Kashmir that the militants are reportedly planning attacks on the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi and Jammu Railway Station. The self-styled Commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Karim Ansari is stated to have been directed to launch attacks not only on the sacred shrine and the Jammu station but also on cinema halls in Jammu as in the recent case of Ludhiana. Reports from Punjab also indicate that Kashmiri terrorists in league with Punjab rebels may trigger blasts in various towns of Punjab, including Ferozepur, Patiala, Bhatinda and Phagwara. Punjab terrorists, backed by Pakistan, are clearly trying to revive old links with the Kashmiri rebels.

Meanwhile, New Delhi has got all the States to join a virtual nationwide hunt for tracing  unauthorized and suspicious purchase of SIM cards because of their crucial links with the Ajmer and the Mecca Masjid blasts in Hyderabad. The Harkat-ul-Jehadi-i-Islami (HUJI) is said to have zeroed in on the mobile phone trigger mechanism to carry out such explosions in preference to using the common alarm clock. In fact, this mechanism was used in the Mecca Masjid blasts and now in Ajmer Sharif. What is more, the two accused in the twin blasts have disclosed in their narco-analysis that they had helped obtain 50 to100 SIM cards over a period of time. These SIM cards have yet to be located by the Hyderabad Police. Hence the Centre’s plea to the States to take the disclosures “very seriously” and somehow trace the lethal SIM cards.

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Army’s Olive Branch To ULFA

The Army has extended an olive towards the militant ULFA in Assam if it agrees to come to the negotiating table without preconditions. Significantly, this is the first time that the Army itself has not set any precondition.  Stated the Army Chief: “The Army is willing to go back to the barracks.” Adding that if the Bodoland Liberation Tigers and the National Liberation Front of Bodoland (NDFB) could come to the negotiating table “then why not the ULFA”. At the same time, he has warned that Pakistan’s ISI under the directions of the Muslim fundamentalists is becoming increasingly active in the State. Reportedly the ISI had a hand in the recent bomb blasts in Guwahati and other places in the State. No matter that the ULFA continues to keep the police and security forces on their toes.

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TN Reservation For Minorities

Post Ram Setu controversy, Tamil Nadu is back to the politics of reservation. The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday last passed a Bill, to replace an ordinance, providing for 7 per cent reservation for minorities --- 3.5 per cent reservation each to backward Muslims and Christians in government jobs and in all educational institutions in the State. The new separate quota will be within the 30 per cent reservation already being provided to the backward castes in Tamil Nadu, where there is a high percentage of reservation of 69 per cent including 20 per cent for the Most Backward Class (MBC); and 19 per cent for Scheduled Castes and Tribes. It is another matter that a petition challenging the inclusion of the 69 per cent reservation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution is still pending before the Supreme Court.

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BJP Taking On Mayawati

The BJP is finally getting its act together in UP for taking on Mayawati and regaining its hold on the upper caste Hindus. As a first measure, the Saffron Sangh is preparing to lash out against the Chief Minister for glorifying Periyar, the Southern Dalit reformer known for his highly objectionable statements and abuse against the Hindu Gods and hatred for Hindi. In his book Sachchi Ramayana, Periyar presents a diabolically distorted view of the epic, including extremely offensive references to Lord Ram and Sita. This book is not only being freely doled out by the BSP offices across the State, but Mayawati is also installing a number of Periyar statues. To stall her bid and wean back the upper caste Hindus, specially Brahmins, to the Party fold, the BJP is preparing to awaken and ignite the electorate with many of Periyar’s “inflammatory” statements. Will Lord Ram oblige the BJP once more?

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EC Makes Modi Wary

Elections are no cakewalk but a bed of thorns, as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is slowly but surely finding out. What with the Election Commission busy breathing down his neck with a long list of dos’ and donts’. In its concerted bid to conduct free and fair elections in the State, the EC has decided to send three Special Observers to supervise the observance of the model code of conduct by the political parties. Another three teams of officials are set to oversee poll readiness in Baroda, Surat and Ahmedabad. Coming on the heels of the transfer of senior Police and IAS officials by the EC, Modi is busy ensuring that he does as he is directed, lest he earn the wrath of the EC. As matters stand, the rebellion within his flock is already giving him sleepless nights along with renewed carping by the TV channels about Godhra and its bloody aftermath.

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Dussehra in Kashmir

Kashmir once again resounded to the burst of fireworks on Sunday last, though with a crucial difference. This time it was the effigy of ‘God of Evil’ Ravana which went up in flames. After a gap of 19 long years, Dussehra was celebrated with gay abandon in Srinagar. What made the exercise most nouvelle, memorable and important was that hundreds of Muslims joined their Kashmiri Pandit brethren and others at the Mata Shiva Bhagwati shrine for the traditional havan. The last havan was performed in 1988. Pertinently, this is the tenth religious place to be reopened in the strife-torn State. Clearly, winds of peace and brotherhood are blowing across the Valley. Dussehra. Remarked a Kashmir watcher: “It remains to be seen whether Dussehra and its spirit, which signifies the victory of good over evil, will pervade all over the State.”

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Sanyas Lessons For Kerala Clergy

Winds of change are also sweeping across the Syrian Christian clergy in Kerala. Where the Syro-Malabar Church --- regarded as the oldest in the country --- has reportedly decided to embrace the Hindu tradition of sanyas. This and other cultural aspects like bhajans are becoming a part of the new curriculum for training the Christian clergy in the Church. Explained the Church Spokesman: “As priests have to work in the Indian milieu, it is necessary that they learn about India’s strong spiritual foundations like the Gurukul system, Sanyas, and Varnashram”. The curriculum called the ‘Charter for priestly formation in the Syro-Malabar Church’ includes an introduction to Hinduism and lessons preparing students for an ascetic life with the help of Sanyasis. Moreover, the priests are said to be most impressed by other good ideas in the Indian way of life and are busy imbibing the rich Indian traditions. The Church calls it “Indianisation”! ---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

New Thrusts Planned:Economic Boom In North-East, by Insaf,17 October 2007 Print E-mail

Round The States

New Delhi, 17 October 2007

New Thrusts Planned

Economic Boom In North-East

                                                                  By Insaf

India’s long-neglected North-East region and its States have reason to be on cloud nine. They have been assured an economic boom in the next five years by the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and profitable trading with South-East Asia by the External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee. Both were speaking at a three-day conference at Guwahati last week on India’s Look East Policy and the challenges for sub-regional cooperation. The Eleventh Five Year Plan will allocate Rs.12,793 crore from the Central Government for development of roads in the region. Besides, Rs.9,500 crore to Rs.10,000 crore will be invested for improving rail connectivity. There are also proposals to provide rail heads to Meghalaya and Sikkim and airports to Kohima, Itanagar and Sikkim. Ahluwalia even suggested a Guwahati-based airline for operating within the region.

Equally promising was the first-ever North-East India Investment Opportunities Week held earlier in Bangkok at the initiative of Mani Shankar Aiyar, Union Minister for Development of North-East Region (DONER). At least eight MoUs were signed in regard to road construction and agriculture, in a conference attended by 280 entrepreneurs from India and 150 from Thailand. The Sikkim Government showed interest in setting up casinos and five-star hotels. Meghalaya identified medicinal plants, roses and strawberries for potential export. The most luring offer came from Thailand’s Department of Commerce. The Thais, it said, would be keenly interested in importing vegetables and fruit from the North-East instead of China, once the Free Trade Agreement comes into force later this year. Indian vegetables and fruit are much cheaper. But there is one major hurdle. The Thais know little about the region so far.

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Panchayati Raj Scandal

India has reason to be proud of its Panchayati Raj as it has taken democracy to the grassroots. Shockingly, however, the system is badly letting down the aam aadmi in one crucial sector: development. Only the other day, the Union Panchayati Raj Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, expressed concern over the failure of the Panchayats to utilize the funds earmarked for them due to non-availability of district plans. He told a national conference on District Planning under the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) in New Delhi that of the Rs.4,000 crore earmarked for the Panchayats this year only Rs.222 crore was disbursed as they could not meet the criterion required to utilize these funds. Of the 250 districts covered under BRGF, only 53 had district plans and only 31 met the eligibility criteria.

At least five States have so far not even bothered to set up District Planning Committees. Heading this list is Gujarat of Narendra Modi, who loudly claims to have made his State a development model for the rest of India. The others are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra. Mercifully, for the common man, Aiyar has bent over backward to be helpful. His Ministry has decided to make available last year’s unutilised funds in the current financial year for the construction of Panchayat ghars, anganwadi centres, educational activities and sports facilities, kitchens for mid-day meals and housing for the poor. The States and their panchayats clearly need to mend their scandalous ways.

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Farmers Suicides In Gujarat

Gujarat has joined the growing list of States where the farmers have committed or are committing suicides. Thanks to information secured by a social activist, Bharat Jhala, under the Right to Information Act, the Gujarat Governments has admitted 489 cases of farmer suicides since 2003. The State Government was reluctant to provide the information but it agreed to do so when the Central Information Commissioner intervened. Even now, according to Jhala, information on six districts has not been made available. What is more, the data collected shows “6,055 accidental deaths of farmers”.  These have yet to be probed. Clearly, the suicides indicate an ominous trend in the agrarian sector of Gujarat, no matter Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s tall boasts on development.

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Naxalites New Target: Industrial Belt

The blast in a Ludhiana cinema hall last week is a grim reminder that India’s security apparatus leaves much to be desired both at the Central and State level. No matter, the vacuous rhetoric of teaching the terrorists a lesson. In fact, the Union Home Ministry is so busy curbing Pakistan-sponsored jehadis that it seems to have missed out the latest warning bells from the ever-expanding Naxalites menace. Reportedly, the Red Brigade is now systematically moving terror into new States like Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. According to intelligence sources, they are busy setting up regional, zonal and State committees with special focus on targeting urban cities and towns.   What is more, two principal industrial belts have been identified for urban mobilization: Bhilai-Ranchi-Dhanbad-Kolkataa and Mumbai-Pune-Surat-Ahmedabad.

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Himachal Poll Controversy

The controversy over Himachal Assembly poll dates has largely blown over. The Election Commission has turned down the Congress Party’s plea for postponement of the two phase poll on November 14 and December 19 to sometime in February since the term of the Assembly expires only on March 9. The EC has, however, agreed to consider the State Education Board’s request to prepone the December poll by 15 days to avoid a clash with the School Board Exam and non-availability of school infrastructure and teachers for election duty. Importantly, the E.C. has blown sky high the Congress claim that advancement of the poll would lead to confusion through the creation of two elected Assemblies. It has clarified that “after the notification of a new House the old House ceases to exist” in accordance with law!

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Tamil Nadu’s Wind Power

Talk of energy and one’s thoughts automatically turn to thermal, hydro-electric or solar power --- and, till last week, to nuclear power, thanks to the Manmohan Singh-Bush deal. Few ever think of wind as a source of much-needed power. Yet not many are aware that the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) generates 1,000 MW from wind energy which is equal to what the State generates from its hydro stations. True, wind power has its problems. Until Monday last week, for instance, the TNEB was getting 1,000 MW from the wind mills. But generation drastically dropped to 19 MW when the wind pattern changed dramatically. However, the breakdown in supply was only for short periods as West Bengal, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh promptly responded to the TNEB’s SOS and graciously diverted 300 to 400 MW each!

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MLAs Scandal in Jharkhand

Think Jharkhand, think scandal. Since its inception a few years ago, notoriety is synonymous with the State. The latest in Jharkhand’s chequered history of scams is the State Government’s reported decision to grab prime fertile agricultural land, valued at Rs one crore per acre, to build homes for the MLAs. The property belongs to the Indian Council of Agriculture Research’s Horticulture & Agroforestry Research Programme (HARP) for field trials of important crops and lies along the busy Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway. Scandalously, the MLAs housing cooperative society earlier rejected the site allotted to it at Malsiring village as the proposal to build the State’s new Capital there had been cancelled. Leading to a crash in land value, only Rs 2 lakh per acre. Sadly, the Chief Minister Madhu Koda who is member of the MLAs society, seems unperturbed by the heartburn among the HARP employees about their future. ----- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)


President’s Rule In Karnataka:JD(S) GORY TALE OF BETRAYAL, by Insaf, 11 October 2007 Print E-mail

Round The States

New Delhi, 11 October 2007

President’s Rule In Karnataka


                                                                  By Insaf

The curtain finally rung down on Wednesday on a gory political potboiler of betrayal and back stabbing in Karnataka which would put a Bollywood film to shame. With the BJP formally withdrawing support to the 20-month long Government of JD(S) Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, President’s Rule was imposed on the State and the Assembly kept in suspended animation. Governor Rameshwar Thakur favoured dissolution of the Assembly and fresh elections to avoid ugly horse-trading and underhand deals between the parties. Many at the Centre agreed with him in their anxiety to block all possibilities of the BJP and the JD(S) again coming together and forming a Government. But they ran into a major hurdle: the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the Bommai case. This left only one course open to the Union Government: impose President’s rule and keep the Assembly in suspended animation.

The Supreme Court’s judgment limits the President’s power initially to imposing Central rule and keeping the Assembly in suspended animation. The President can consider dissolution of the Assembly only after both the Houses of Parliament have ratified Central rule in the State. Perhaps it is as well that the Assembly is in animated suspension in view of the uncertainty over Parliament’s next session because of the UPA-Left logjam over the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. This leaves scope for two alternatives since politics is the art of making impossible possible. At one stage, the Congress was receptive to JD(S) feelers favouring a Government headed by Union Minister of State for Planning, M.V. Rajasekharan, a Lingayat, like BJP’s CM-designate Yediyurappa. But Maharashtra Governor S.M. Krishna, a Vokaligga, scuttled the proposal. Secondly, the JD(S) and BJP could still decide to bury the hatchet and rule the State.

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Himachal Greatly Surprised

Himachal Pradesh has been taken totally by surprise by the Election Commission’s announcement of the dates for the Assembly poll on November 14 for the snow-bound constituencies and December 19 for the rest of the State. In fact, the first response to the announcement was one of panic as the State was expecting the election in February since the term of the 68-member Assembly ends only on March 9 next. The Government’s biggest worry now is that its plans to announce a slew of pre-election sops --- jobs and development works in the districts --- have gone awry. The State Government had planned to announce these sops after October 15 following the Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh’s return from Washington. However, the CM is not unduly bothered. He is confident of winning once more on the strength of his Government’s performance over the past five years!

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Ajmer Sharif Blast

The bomb blast in the dargah of the Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer, a shrine in Rajasthan venerated alike by Muslims, Hindus and Christians on Thursday has once again pushed the Centre and the State Governments into the dock. Mercifully, the blast was low-intensity and causalities were limited to 2 killed and 17 injured when some 5000 devotees were present. But the incident could have been prevented if only both the Central and State Intelligence and the Police had been truly alert. Only last week, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had warned once again that terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, based in Pakistan, would strike religious institutions to provoke communal conflict. In fact, he even issued a red corner alert to the States at a two-day conference of Director Generals and IGs of Police New Delhi. Sadly, however, in all such exercises continue to end in rhetoric and still more rhetoric. Time for some solid action.

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Assam I-Cards For Muslims

What the Centre can do, Assam can do one better when it comes to minority appeasement. The State Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, in a first of sorts, has decided to issue identity cards to daily wage labourers belonging to the minority community. Ostensibly, to stop their “harassment” in the name of identifying illegal Bangladeshi migrants. “The Government cannot allow this,” he thundered at an Iftar party in Guwahati. In addition, the Muslims have also been promised a slew of welfare schemes. All with an eye on reaping the political harvest in the forthcoming Panchayat polls. However, the Congress is worried that a major chunk of Muslims, particularly those of erstwhile East Pakistan origin, might yet vote for the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) headed by Badruddin Ajmal. Interestingly, ensuing criticism of the CM’s announcement has got Gogoi to promise something long overdue: an I-card for every citizen. But the question is when?

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National Tears Over Onion

Failure of the onion crop in Maharashtra and Karnataka has led to copious tears all over the country. So severe is the shortage that the States which account for 30 per cent of the country’s 66 lakh tonne annual crop of onion, are also feeling the heat. Retail prices are now as high as Rs.30 per kg and continue to rise. Adding to the consumer woes, at many places farmers are hoarding onions expecting more prices for their produce. While Government officials blame traders for hoarding, the traders hold the unseasonal rain guilty. Either way for Indian households, barring the National Capital Region of Delhi, the writing is on the wall: pay more for onions in the next couple of months. Delhi’s Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, has arranged to provide the common man with onion at Rs.22 per kg from Government-managed counters!

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J&K On The Boil Again

Jammu and Kashmir is on the boil again. Juma’t al’vida, last Friday of the holy month of Ramzan, which fell yesterday, saw a two-member fidayeen squad attack  the headquarters  Battalion of the CRPF in Srinagar, leaving three police personnel injured on the eve of the 72-hour unilateral cease-fire declared by the Pakistan-based United Jihad Council. Earlier on Wednesday, nine terrorists, two Army majors and a jawan were killed in a fierce battle in the Tanmarg area in Baramulla district. Incredibly enough, the cross-fire between the Rashtriya Rifles and the militants lasted three days, prompting the new Army Chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor to disagree with his predecessor and rule out any “troop cut till the State returns to normalcy.”  The outgoing Army Chief, Gen. J.J. Singh had asserted on his last day that the situation in J&K was “fast moving towards normalcy.”

Not unexpectedly, the PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, latched on to the two statements and attacked the two Army Chiefs for giving confusing signals to the troubled State. However, the PDP, which has been vociferous in demanding troop withdrawal, today finds itself caught on the wrong foot, thanks to its Tanmarg MLA, Ghulam Hassan Mir and former Housing Minister. Shockingly, Mir offered prayers at the graves of the nine militants killed in Tanmarg. Queried about his “betrayal”, he explained to a national daily: “I offered fateha in the capacity of being a Muslim. I don’t think there is anything wrong in this.” Yet the message that has gone out from this PDP leader, who was once in the running for the Deputy Chief Minister’s job under Ghulam Nabi Azad, has caused great embarrassment to his party. It confirms once more the PDP’s close links with the militant groups.  

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Yamuna Satyagraha

Save the Yamuna campaign in New Delhi is growing. Ignored by the Government, the activists of the “Yamuna Satyagraha” have decided to spread to 11 places across the Capital. Their demand of exempting the river’s floodplains from construction work has fallen on deaf ears, despite their campaigning for the past 60 days. The sit-in, near the riverbed site where the Commonwealth Games Village is to be constructed, will now extend to places including the Supreme Court, India Gate and Raj Ghat.  It may be recalled that the Yamuna Satyagraha started in 2000 in protest against construction of the Akshardham complex on the riverbed. It made no impact on the authorities. Now in its seventh year, the campaign is trying to urge journalists, sportsmen, artists and students to join in. Time will tell. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)







Unprecedented Confrontation:TAMIL NADU Vs SUPREME COURT, by Insaf, 4 October 2007 Print E-mail

Round The States

New Delhi, 4 October 2007

Unprecedented Confrontation


By Insaf

Tamil Nadu is more or less back to normal after an unprecedented confrontation between the State Government and the Supreme Court, triggered by Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s virtual defiance of the latter’s order banning a bandh to press for early execution of the controversial Sethusamudram Project. Fortunately, Karunanidhi realized in good time that all that the Supreme Court had done was to follow its previous binding judgments. On November 1997, the Supreme Court expressly approved a judgment of the full bench of the Kerala High Court (February 1997) that “a call for a bandh effectively precluded citizens from exercising their fundamental rights and was, therefore, unconstitutional.” Subsequently in December 2003, the Supreme Court thundered in the case of James Martin vs. State of Kerala about the necessity of controlling bandhs with an iron hand to protect “victims of the high-handed acts of some fanatics with queer notions of democracy and freedom of speech or association.”

Karunanidhi also now recognizes inwardly that the Supreme Court was within its right to take notice of what it considered to be a break-down of the Constitution. True, the law does not permit the Apex Court to pass orders for dismissing the Government under Article 356 of the Constitution. Nevertheless, according to leading jurists, if the Court is of the opinion that there is a constitutional breakdown of machinery, it can advise the Government to look into it. At any rate, the Court’s oral observations threatening to recommend sacking of the State Government and imposition of the President’s rule were intended to ensure that the State machinery functioned and followed in accordance with its orders. Importantly, not many are aware that oral observations made by the judges have no force in law. No formal order was passed by the Court threatening imposition of President’s rule, a power which vests only in the Central Government. 

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Karunanidhi: Facts and Fiction

What next? Will Karunanidhi be hauled over by the Supreme Court for contempt? Much depends upon Karunanidhi’s willingness to stop trying to be clever by half. On Wednesday last, the CM made “amends” by coming up with a new explanation for his inability to enforce the Supreme Court order banning the 1 October bandh. The official order, he said, “had reached the Chief Secretary only by 10.30 p.m. and there were only a few hours left for the bandh to commence.” Yet the facts of case go against the DMK Chief’s claim. The Apex Court ruling was flashed by all news channels by 1.30 p.m. and Karunanidhi himself stated before the TV cameras at 2.30 p.m. that a hunger strike would be held instead; he even mentioned the venue in Chennai. Eyewitnesses confirm that the speakers at a public meeting that Karunanidhi attended that evening touched on the point repeatedly. Interestingly, the Court had ordered that there should be no disruption of public transport on 1 October. However, only 61 of the city’s 16,000 buses came out that day! 

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States Put On Fiscal Alert                               

All the States have been put on their best fiscal behaviour by the Centre. Playing spoil sport, New Delhi has issued a stern ultimatum to the States: show work, only then we will show you the money. Consequently, the States are now busy drawing up plans to meet their fiscal targets. Peeved by the fiscal profligacy of the States, the Finance Ministry has made it clear to all the State Governments that no more funds would be released unless they furnish utilization certificates for the past allocation. Adding to the woes of the States, the Centre has outlined “specific steps” to ensure compliance. Moreover, it has also declared that no further transfers would be made to a Reserve Fund until unspent balances in the Fund had been utilized. The Centre’s control over extravagance and wastefulness has also been tightened. Further, the Chief Controller of Accounts has been directed to keep vigil during his “pre-payment scrutiny.”  It remains to be seen how many States will comply with this new directive.

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DGHC Assured Autonomy

Better late than never! The Centre has at long last agreed to give the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council autonomous self-governing status under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, as demanded by Subhash Ghising, President of the Gorkha National Liberation Front. The West Bengal Assembly had earlier bowed to the GNLF supremo’s wishes and adopted on 16 March 2006 a resolution for bringing the DGHC, set up in 1987 following an agreement between the Union Government, headed by Rajiv Gandhi, the West Bengal Government and the GNLF, under the Sixth Schedule.  Inclusion in the Sixth Schedule will give the DGHC constitutional protection. Its existence will no longer be dependent on the goodwill of the State Government and its laws. The Centre has promised to bring forward a Bill for the purpose during the winter session of Parliament. It has also agreed to take into account the GNLF’s demand for incorporation of some more areas of Siliguri District in the autonomous Council to make it economically viable. Ghising and his GNLF will need to keep their fingers crossed!

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BSP’s Social Engineering

UP Chief Minister Mayawati is once more at her social engineering best. After successfully wooing Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh and now trying to repeat the same in Gujarat, the Bahujan Samaj Party in Chhattisgarh has decided to engineer a social pact with the OBCs and Scheduled Castes to make inroads into the State polity. Hoping to replicate her successful UP social engineering experiment  Mayawati has decided to contest all the 90 States Assembly seats in next year’s election. In the last Assembly poll the BSP had contested 52 seats and won two seats. To bring the 52 per cent OBCs and 22.3 per cent SCs into the party fold bhaichara (brotherhood)  committees have been launched in the State. The shrewd Mayawati has dumped the upper castes in the State as they constituted only 4 per cent of the total population here. Notwithstanding the fact that the present Chief Minister belongs to the upper caste.

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In Harmony in Kerala Village

A small village in Kerala has set a heart-warming example of living in harmony. A Muslim family in Perruvalloor panchayat in Malappuram district has given some of its land for the rebuilding of an ancient temple. And, the Hindu temple would be just 50 metres away from a mosque, behind a madrasa! The decision was taken by a five-member committee constituted by the panchayat, after debris of an old Gowri Shankar temple was recovered near the madrasa a few weeks ago. Though minor disagreements between members of the two communities were resolved initially, the final approval of constructing the temple was kept a secret to avoid any unpleasant incident. Now, in the holy month of Ramzan one can hear at the same time priests chanting prayers and calls for namaaz from the mosque.

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Gujjar’s Step-up Demand

The Gujjars of Rajasthan appear hell bent to get themselves the status of Scheduled Tribes. In a planned agitation, over five lakh Gujjars courted arrest in the State last week as part of their “jail bharo” action. The agitation started on Sunday last, when the Gujjars decided to stop supplying milk to dairies and customers throughout the State. The agitation is a “do-or-die situation” whereby, anyone who goes against the collective decision would be fined Rs 5,100, thereby affecting milk supply in the State. The Gujjars provide 60-70 per cent of milk to small cities and towns and another seven to 13 lakh litres to the Rajasthan Saras Dairy. The Gujjars claim that their’s is a fit case for ST status and, in support, they have decided to lay siege in New Delhi on Saturday. The community will protest outside the BJP headquarters as it is angry with the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP Government in the State. Whether their protest will be successful or not is anyone’s guess. The only thing certain is that the country’s capital may well be held to ransom. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


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