Karnataka makes a mockery of the cardinal rule that voters must exercise their right to vote ‘without fear or favour.’ The run-up to May 10 Assembly elections have warring political parties either offering bribes, a basket of freebies, or instilling a sense of fear amongst the electorate, apart from gutter politics being played out. The Congress has offered 5 guarantees, including free travel for women in public transport buses, 200 units of free power, 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household, Rs 3,000 every month for graduate youth and Rs 1,500 for diploma holders. The BJP is against ‘revari’ politics but offers to do away with ‘religion-based’ reservation. Its Union Home Minister Amit Shah warns of “communal riots’ if Congress is voted to power. Both sides are filing complaints with the police or the electoral office. The Congress charges Shah ‘of disrupting the communal harmony’ by his statement that “If the Congress comes to power, dynastic politics will be at an all-time high and Karnataka will be afflicted with riots,”, and demands an FIR against him. The BJP has filed a complaint against Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with the office of the state chief electoral officer for likening Prime Minister Modi to a ‘poisonous snake’ and the hate intent. How will the voters respond, is anybody’s guess. Major issues are being side lined for the voter to make an informed decision. It’s time much-needed electoral reforms are no longer put on the back burner. People deserve better.
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All is not well in Manipur. The BJP government has had to shut down internet services and clamp down section 144 in two districts of Churachandpur and Pherzawl from Friday last, after a mob set on fire an open gym facility the night before it was to be inaugurated by Chief Minister Biren Singh. The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum had called for an eight-hour total shutdown in Churachandpur and announced non-cooperation with government programmes. The reason: failure of government to address the people’s grievances. A statement said the forum was ‘compelled to take up the agitation’ as while it had submitted several memoranda to the government over apprehensions on the survey carried out pertaining to Reserved Forest/Protected forest and wetland and eviction of villagers, ‘the government has shown no signs of willingness, no sincerity to address the plight of the people.’ The government will do well to deal with the complaints rather than taking the easier way out of clamping down on social media, which happens often. Empathy rather than indifference should be the outlook.
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Maoists Strike In Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh has dented both the State and Centre’s claim that Left Wing Extremism has almost been wiped out. On Wednesday last, 10 police personnel and a civilian driver were killed in Dantewada district after Naxals blew up a vehicle, part of a convoy carrying security personnel. The strike, through an IED, containing 40-odd kg of explosives, was the biggest by Maoists in the past two years and happened when District Reserve Guard was out on an anti-naxal operation. While as usual a search operation has been launched, both Baghel government and North Block need to work in tandem and plug loopholes. Despite information about presence of Maoists in the area, lapses occurred. Such as the road the 200 security personnel were travelling was not sanitised, a rented van instead of an armoured vehicle was used to transport the personnel who died; the forces still are not equipped with foolproof technology to detect IEDs, which are largely being used by Naxals to avoid direct combat with security forces. They succeeded in 2021, killing 22 security personnel and a year earlier 17. ‘Over confidence’ of the fight against LWE being in its last phase may not be a good strategy.
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End Of Era In Punjab
Punjab witnesses an end or an era. The State bid a tearful farewell to Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday last. The popularity and respect the five-time Chief Minister had gained during his 70 years political career was writ large with thousands from not just the State but leaders across the political spectrum, including Prime Minister Modi, paying their last respects. He was cremated with full state honours at his ancestral village in Muktsar district; the AAP government declared a holiday on Thursday and Centre announced two days state mourning on across the country. The grand old man of Punjab politics started his political career as a sarpanch of his village in 1952; became the youngest CM at 43 in 1970 and the oldest in 2012.Badal was known as a “messiah of farmers”and a great leader who fought for Punjab and Punjabiyat. He towered over the Shiromani Akali Dal, the second oldest party in the country formed in 1920. For the party, politics may not be the same. His son and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, the political heir must keep the legacy alive.
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Bihar Political Release
Vote bank politics comes to the fore in Bihar aimed at 2024. Gangster-turned-politician Anand Mohan, serving a life sentence for killing a young Dalit IAS officer in 1994, walked out a free man on Thursday last. An MP prior to his conviction in 2007, he was released from Saharsa jail after spending 15 years, 9 months and 25 days behind bars.Mohan’s name figured in a list of over 20 prisoners, ordered to be set free as they had spent over 14 years behind bars, following a notification by Nitish Kumar government on April 10 amending Bihar Prison Manual. Plus, restriction on early release of those involved in killing of a public servant on duty was done away with. The IAS officer’s family allege it was done to help release Mohan and appealed to Nitish to reconsider. The IAS Officers’ Association is too peeved, but Chief Secretary insists the release is in accordance with norms, ‘no special favour has been done to anybody.’ Is it so straightforward? Apparently not, as Nitish is said to be under pressure from partner RJD, to release Mohan, who wields a lot of influence over Rajputs and enjoys a Robinhood-like image amongst his community. Besides, over half of the prisoners freed are Yadavs or Muslims, said to be RJD supporters. Guess, votes matter more than the law!
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Kerala’s Boo To NCERT
God’s own country will not allow the “complete saffronisation” of academic books by the Centre. With what is rightly perceived by academicians and historians as ‘whitewashing’ of history in Class 11 and 12 textbooks by NCERT, students in Kerala will soon be taught the deleted portions, which include Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, his pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity and ban on RSS. A unanimous decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of curriculum steering committee of State Council of Education Research and Training on Tuesday last. It awaits state education minister getting go ahead by Government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Further, it decided to inform New Delhi and petition Prime Minister Modi and HRD Minister about the omissions. The state body would welcome a nod by the Centre, but if didn’t oblige then it proposes to bring out supplementary textbooks comprising those deleted portions in this academic year. The controversy continues to rage. —-INFA