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Rajya Sabha Biennial Poll:CONGRESS, BJP FIELD “NON-RESIDENTS”, by Insaf, 14 March 2006 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 14 March 2006

Rajya Sabha Biennial Poll


By Insaf

Political attention is now focused on the Rajya Sabha biennial elections on March 28 for 58 seats from 15 States.  Ten so-called “elders” are to be elected by the legislators in U.P., six each in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, five each in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, four each in Gujarat and Karnataka, three each in Orissa and Rajasthan, two in Jharkhand and one each in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal. The outcome of these elections is generally known before hand by the respective strength of the political parties in the State legislatures.  However, lot of interest is generated prior to the polls since the political parties largely continue to field their nominees on considerations other than merit, often favouring those with money power.

One of the most controversial amendments in 2003 did away with the requirement that candidates seeking election to the Rajya Sabha from a State had to be “ordinarily resident” of that State. Both the Congress and the BJP leaders have taken full advantage of the amendment to nominate “outsiders” for their political convenience, despite the knowledge that the Supreme Court has reserved its verdict on two petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the amendments. The Court has ruled that the results of these elections and those of  2004 will be subject to its final orders on the matter.  Among the four Union Ministers which the Congress has fielded are Arjun Singh and H.R. Bhardwaj. Since the party can bring only one from Madhya Pradesh, the Law Minister has been shifted to Haryana for re-election to the Council of States for the fifth six-year term.

The BJP too is not lagging behind. Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley have been allotted Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat respectively. Swaraj has been shifted from Uttaranchal to Madhya Pradesh this time, since the lone seat from the hill State has been given to the Congress nominee Rajiv Shukla who cannot be fielded from U.P. this time as the party has only 17 MLAs in the State Assembly.  Arun Jaitley has again been fielded from Gujarat which can easily bring him back to the Council of States. The concerned States have no doubt accepted the nominations. But much will depend eventually on the Supreme Court decision whether the amendments have destroyed the basic feature of India’s Parliament, which provided for a House of the People and a Council of States, comprising genuine residents of the States, not outsiders.

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Third Front In Assam

A third front is emerging in Assam, where the first phase of the Assembly elections is scheduled for April 3.  The Left parties have tied up its electoral understanding with the non-Congress Opposition parties in the State. The Left has worked out tie-ups with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Asom United Democratic Front of Minority organizations, Samajwadi Party and some regional groups. The poll arrangement is aimed at an attempt to pose an alternative to the ruling Congress and the BJP in the State. The NCP of Sharad Pawar has already finalized an arrangement with the Left in Assam.  According to the seat-sharing arrangement, the AGP has given eight seats to the CPI and seven to the CPM.  The CPM has, however, made it clear that it would join hands with the Congress to keep the BJP out of power in the event of a fractured mandate, as it has done at the Centre.

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Opposition Is Confused: Buddhadeb

West Bengal’s Chief Minister Budhadeb Bhattacharjee is confident that the CPM-led Left Front would return to power in the State for the sixth time in succession. The CM’s confidence is based on the presumption that the Opposition parties are presently in a “confused” state.  Moreover, Bhattacharjee explained in a Meet the Media programme at the National Press Club in New Delhi that unlike the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ruling at the Centre and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Left Front was a product of years of struggle of the anti-Congress forces that came to power for the first time in 1977 and has continued in office since then.  The CM has claimed that the Left Front does not have to tackle anti-incumbency factor and that the people who have benefited from the Front’s land reforms programme would “never vote against us”.  So also the teachers and Government employees. 

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Bonanza For DMK Allies

The MDMK and its supremo Vaiko’s sudden exit from the DMK-led Front has proved a bonanza for the allies to get more seats than decided upon earlier for the Assembly poll on May 8.  As per the latest deal offered to the allies by DMK supremo Karunanidhi, the Congress has been allotted 48 seats (two more than in 2001) in the 234-member Assembly.  The CPM will now contest 13 seats and the CPI 10. Both the Left parties got ten seats each in 2001. That would effectively leave the DMK with 132 seats.  Of these, the Muslim League will contest from three constituencies with the DMK symbol.  This arrangement has been made following Vaiko’s turnaround.  Karunanidhi did not want to risk any other ally deserting it because of a few seats, as Vaiko did.  In fact, the Congress had initially demanded 60 seats.  The party which is sharing power with the DMK at the Centre was hoping for a similar arrangement in Tamil Nadu.

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Himachal Towards Progress

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and the ruling Congress in Himachal Pradesh can look back with great satisfaction their three years in office which they completed on March 6.  During the last three years, a new era of socio-economic development has ushered in the State. High priority has been given to employment generation and rural development schemes to maintain the pace of development. Virbhadra Singh has described this period as an era of economic development. The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), estimated at Rs.16,075 crore in 2002-03 (revised estimates) increased to Rs.17,983 crore in 2003-04 and is now likely to attain a level of Rs.19,712 crore which is an increase of ten per cent. The agriculture sector, including horticulture and animal husbandry has contributed 21.71 per cent to the State’s economy.  New programmes for farm reforms, organic farming and crop insurance have been undertaken.

Godhra Fire A Conspiracy

Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah has issued a strongly-worded explanation in the State Assembly against the finding of the Justice Banerjee Committee which, he believed, had “created a major confusion in the minds of the people of Gujarat”.  He has reiterated with facts and figures that the fire in which 59 people were burnt was a part of a “larger conspiracy which was hatched outside the Godhra Railway Station”, and not an “accident” as described by the Banerjee Committee. He has explained that the theory of an accident  could result only from a short circuit. That was investigated by the State police and was found impossible.  The Minister has also wondered why the Banerjee Committee was appointed when the Government has appointed a high-level Commission and the Chief Minister’s role has been included in the scope of the Commission.

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Unusual Weather Hits Crops

“Summer in February”, they say, and “winter in March” this year have caused heavy damage to the rabi crops in northern India. The unusual rains and hailstorm lashed last week Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and some parts of U.P.  In M.P. heavy damage to crops has been caused in about 46,000 acres in 15 villages of 30 districts of the State.  The unusual hailstorm caused at least 50 deaths.  More than 200 heads of cattle perished and about 2,000 houses damaged.  Rajasthan too has reported extensive damage to the crops. Wheat and other crops cut and lying on the fields are totally damaged.  Harvested crops like mustard, coriander, zeera have also been badly damaged by the hailstorm.

Intermittent rains which have continued to lash parts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for more than a week revived cold conditions in the region and affected power supply in certain areas.  This hit the farmers and their agriculture produce most.  However, the rains have brought cheer to Uttaranchal farmers.  The showers came as a boon to the standing wheat and sugarcane crops which had earlier been starving for water in view of the dry spell in February.   The late rains have also benefited the mango and lichi orchards in the hilly State.  In fact, the entire forest area in the State will benefit from the late rains.  But if they are followed by hailstorm, then the standing crops will suffer damage, as is happening in several adjoining areas.---INFA.

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)



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