Edit & Opinion

Round The States

Towards Hindu Rashtra: Karnataka, UP determined

“Work is in progress’ should read the sign in BJP’s making of a Hindu Rashtra!  Polarisation on communal lines and targeting of minorities gets another fillip. This time it’s BJP-ruled Karnataka. On Wednesday last, it passed the anti-cow slaughter Ordinance in Vidhan Souda, amid bedlam but deferred it in the Council 24 hours later. It shall do so once it’s certain of majority. But it doesn’t stop it from hitting headlines like UP, whose police has gone proactive in regulating and punishing inter-faith marriages and conversions after passage of the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020. A clear tool to harass and intimidate “the other” and questioning love and faith! Likewise, the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill-2020 shall give the police power to conduct checking as it envisages a ban on all forms of cattle slaughter (including buffaloes) and stringent punishment to those who indulge in smuggling, illegal transportation, atrocities on cows and slaughtering them. A jail term of 3-7 years and (or) a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, is on agenda. Those in the cattle industry and business are already hit and this shall add to the economic difficulties. But why should the government care, for the BJP cows “are holy to Hindus”. It’s just a question of time, when others too like Karnataka shall join Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat and the caravan will dangerously grow,

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Mahurat Date Kept

New Delhi kept its date with thebig mahurat. An adamant Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation stone of the new Parliament building on Thursday last, ironically on International Day for Human Rights, when freedom of speech and expression in the world’s largest democracy is under grave threat, even seen by the UN. The urgency is beyond comprehension — in midst of pandemic, economic crisis, farmers’ protest, Opposition boycott, et al. Worse, a frown by the Supreme Court  hearing petitions against construction work, doesn’t bother the government. The apex court but relents saying: “We have shown deference to you and expected that you will act in a prudent manner. The same deference should be shown to the Court and there should be no demolition or construction,” i.e. till the petitions are disposed off over the Central Vista project. Predictably it’s readily agreed as the pooja had to be performed and not just ordinary ribbon-cutting. While Opposition senior leaders slammed the ceremony, Congress leader P Chidambaram hit the nail on the head: “The foundation for a new Parliament building was laid on the ruins of a liberal democracy.” Need more be said!

Rajasthan Big Upset

Rajasthan gives the BJP good reason to be upbeat and even more obstinate. Not only did it give the Gehlot government a run for its money in the panchayat elections but upstaged it at a time when it’s in the thick of the farmers’ protest. Sharp that it is, the party quickly used the victory to brag of it being “a farmers’ mandate and a vote for farm reforms,” and that they were not on the same page as their northern fraternity in Haryana and Punjab! Of the 4371 panchayat samiti seats, BJP bagged 1,989 as against Congress’ 1,852 and of the 635 zila parishad seats, BJP won 353 and Congress 252. Worse, candidates in some home districts of ministers and even the State unit President lost. Plus, the results were different from the panchayat polls of 2010 and 2015, when the party in power had won the grassroot vote too. Candidates having ncreased their base in 21 districts or that the party would do better in next elections can be no consolation. Just two years in power, disillusionment appears to have crept in. The writing is on the wall and more than Gehlot the High Command must see it.  

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Maharashtra’s ‘Shakti’

Three cheers to Maharashtra government. It has proposed ‘Shakti Act’ to rein in heinous sexual offences against women and children through stiff punishment, including death penalty, life sentence, hefty fines as well as ensure speedy trial. The draft bill, to be tabled in ensuing winter session of Assembly in two parts — Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Act, 2020 and Special Court and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law, 2020, got the Cabinet’s nod on Wednesday last. Its provisions include: completing case investigation within 15 days, trial shall be conducted after filing of chargesheet on a daily basis and case completed within 30 working days; time for appeal down from existing six months to 45 days; if found guilty, to be punished with imprisonment for life for not less than 10 years but may extend to remainder of natural life or with death in heinous cases; special police teams and 36 separate courts to be set up; an acid attack victim to get Rs 10 lakh for plastic surgery/facial reconstruction and the amount to be collected as fine from the convict. Plus, in today’s digital age threatening and intimidating women on social media, disclosure of victims’ identity in case of molestation/acid attack is to be considered crime. Well meaning alright, but will it act as a deterrent? Time will tell, but women can hope for a better tomorrow.

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Bengal’s Costly ‘Lapse’?

Complete lawlessness and ‘goonda raj’ is now a near normal for BJP to describe the TMC-ruled West Bengal. How soon will this line help it to get Mamata Banerjee’s fiefdom under President’s rule is the big question. While rumours have been floating for a while, the alleged attack on the convoy of BJP President Nadda by TMC cadres with stones and bricks in Kolkata on Thursday last has upped the ante. Predictably, Didi has scoffed at it and claimed it was “staged” by saffron brigade itself as the cadre are every day “coming out (for rallies) with firearms. They are slapping themselves and blaming it on us. Just think of the situation. They are roaming around with BSF, CRPF, Army, CISF…then why are you so scared!” Perhaps, it should be the other way round. North Block views it as a ‘serious security lapse’ and has sought a report. While some cars were damaged, Nadda was unhurt and thanked ‘Maa Durga’s blessings. However, blessings of President Kovind would be required finally for both Amit Shah and Governor Dhankhar to save Bengal, which “has descended into an era of tyranny, anarchy and darkness” with a failed State administration. With Assembly polls early 2021, Didi will have to keep her ear to the ground for the rug could be pulled ahead of time. 

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Tripura Rumblings

BJP-ruled Tripura offers a good lesson for party discipline. With Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb contemplating nipping the rebellion in the bud by going public, the leadership in Delhi has frowned. Don’t indulge in “public show” of strength on an intra-party issue, is the stern message from Headquarters on Wednesday last. Deb has relented and deferred plans for a public meeting at a stadium on Sunday. Trouble has been brewing for sometime but came into sharp focus when a group of BJP supporters shouted “Biplab Hathao, BJP Bachao” demanding his removal in front of Central observer Vinod Sonkar. In October, a group of ‘12 MLAs’ is said to have met national President Nadda warning if present leadership is allowed to continue, “the Left and even Congress will gather lost ground” as Deb’s “total dictatorship and poor governance is making the party very unpopular.” However, Deb says he ‘wants to transform Tripura into a model state of the country and wouldn’t compromise with hooliganism, illegal land brokerage business, and smuggling of drugs.” What next? The BJP-IPTF came to power in 2018 after dislodging 25-year-old Left Front government and surely fruits of power can be allowed to rot.

 

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