Farmers Vs State Power: Empathy, not authority crucial
All eyes are on the farmers versus State power battle. The two-day “Delhi Chalo’ protests against the new farm bills have caught the attention of the country, with social media channelling the determination and grit of the sons of the soil to brave the wrath of State governments. In particular, the Haryana government and its police used every trick to stop thousands of the marchers– cement and steel barricades, parked trucks on the road, water cannon and teargas shells, trenches, boulders etc. But the wave is unstoppable as the angry farmer from Haryana and Punjab in thousands is prepared to take on the mighty and is coming prepared with his ration of food, water to lay siege on Delhi. In Uttar Pradesh, separate rallies from Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand were also stopped, but national capital has finally bowed down. With the farmers’ rubbishing the Union Agriculture Minister’s appeal for talks on December 3 and Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal refusing to give permission to the police to convert nine stadiums into makeshift prisons for the protesting farmers, the Centre has buckled down and allowed the farmers to protest at Nirankari grounds, Burari, north-west Delhi. The Centre has also said it is open for dialogue, but the AIKSCC demands action and withdrawal/amendments in the bills. Mere words and verbal commitments will not suffice. Is Modi government willing to eat crow?
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Targeting ‘Love Jihad’
Three BJP-ruled States have upped the ante against ‘love jihad’. Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are not far behind Uttar Pradesh, where Yogi Adityanath’s Cabinet on Tuesday last, approved the draft ordinance of a stringent law to deal with religious conversion for sake of marriage. It’s no secret it boosts the Sangh parivar’s ego and targets a community on make believe grounds that ‘Hindu women have been converted forcibly by Muslim men on pretext of marriage’. While it entails a 1-5 year jail for violators, Madhya Pradesh wants to get more aggressive. Its proposed Dharm Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill 2020, entails a 10-year jail term, parties concerned will have to submit an application to the DM before conversion for marriage,” a five-year jail term for gurus, priests, maulvis and kazis who will conduct such marriages, and that registration of organisations conducting such marriages will be cancelled. The draft bill is expected to be placed in Assembly session beginning December 28. The Khattar government in Haryana has set up a 3-member committee to draft a law on similar lines. Guess it won’t be difficult as Himachal Pradesh, MP and UP will provide ready ammunition for the controversial toxic law.
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Bihar’s Political Rumble
Signs of rumble tumble in Bihar following the close fought election are already emerging. The Speaker’s election witnessed high decibel commotion. Opposition mahagathbandhan not only raised a hue and cry over Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s presence in the House (he’s a member of Legislative Council), but demanded a secret ballot. The demands were shot down by Pro-tem Speaker on grounds these were unfounded. BJP’s VK Sinha emerged victorious defeating RJD candidate AB Choudhary. But there’s more than meets the eye. The RJD was hoping that ‘conscience voting’ may tilt the scales in its favour. However, the ‘Lalu tapes’ have muddied the waters. On Wednesday last, Sushil Modi posted an audio tape of an alleged conversation between RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, lodged in Ranchi jail and MLA Lalan Paswan, wherein Lalu is “luring the NDA MLA to go missing for the voting, so that the Grand Alliance has its Speaker, then topple the government and return he is promised a ministerial berth”. The tapes have gone viral and the IGP, Jharkhand has sought an inquiry into the tapes. Be that as it may, guess this is only a beginning. More dirt is expected to fly.
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BJP Eyes Telangana ‘Gully Poll’
Baffling—an expression to explain the line-up of BJP national leaders campaigning for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Council poll! Not just the voter or observer, even ruling TRS is intrigued at the length the BJP is going to in these ‘gully elections.’ Other than himself, National President Nadda has Home Minister Amit Shah, Prakash Javdekar, Smriti Irani, Yogi Adityanth, Devendra Fadnavis among others to canvass and at stage even PM Modi’s charm was being considered. Plus, a list of freebies: free tabs to poor families’ kids with free Wi-Fi facility for online studies, free drinking water supply to all households; property tax waiver in all SC colonies and slum areas, free metro and bus travel for women, free power supply to those consuming less than 100 units of power etc are promised. Expectedly, the TRS is neither leaving any stone unturned to retain power. It not only is campaigning hard but has a big billed rally planned by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. What needs attention, however, is Rao holding an emergency meeting with top police officers on Wednesday last, alerting about a possible ‘conspiracy by certain political elements to foment communal violence so that these polls are deferred’! Should one read it as signs of weakness? The fear of BJP juggernaut rolling here too is not ruled out.
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End of Era In Assam
An era has ended. Assam bid an emotional farewell to former three-term Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in a 25-km-long procession route and with full State hours on Thursday last in capital Guwahati. Gogoi had not only a long innings as Chief Minister from 2001 to 2016 but was the State’s longest serving CM, who importantly was instrumental in ushering peace and stability in the State after two decades of insurgency. Considered a ‘secular leader in theory and practice’, his mortal remains were taken to a church, namghar, mosque, temple and a Bihu function field, as per his last wish. BJP Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal described him as a ‘father figure’ and tributes from President to PM to various Chief Ministers have poured in to the family. However, there hangs a question mark over the future of the Congress in the State. Will son and MP Gaurav Gogoi be able to fill the void?
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Gangsters’ Safe Haven
Looking for a safe haven, eye Uttarakhand. It emerges gangsters are making the authorities uncomfortable in this northern hill State. Recent cases of arrests suggest that ‘wanted’ men by the police in Delhi-NCR, Punjab and Haryana were hiding in some of its cities, till they ran out of luck. These include three shooters wanted in Haryana, a wanted gangster by Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi police, a dreaded gangster from Punjab and some others, and all of whom carried a bounty ranging from Rs 50000 to Rs 2 lakhs. Is it a result of poor vigilance by the police force, is a question raised. No say the top brass. Criminals after committing a crime in their State or wanted, normally escape to another State, is an explanation. But the fact that arrests happened is a sign of the police’ efficiency and if one is to make a comparison of numbers nabbed in other northern States, then Uttarakhand would have far less cases. Well argued, but a close watch needs to be kept if the trend continues. Perhaps it may wane given the ‘safe haven’ theory is given away