The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has gone into a tizzy following a setback to its plan to woo backward communities. The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday last quashed the ruling BJP’s December 5 draft notification providing reservation of seats in urban body elections for OBCs apart from those for SC, ST and women. The Lucknow bench said until the “triple test/conditions” mandated by Supreme Court is “completed in all respects”, no reservation for Backward Class of citizens shall be provided. It also directed State Government/State Election Commission to notify elections immediately, as the Municipalities’ term has either ended or shall end by 31 January. This after hearing PILs alleging the exercise of reservation of seats in municipalities ‘is being carried out by the state government in complete derogation and defiance’ of the SC mandate.
While Yogi government promptly filed an appeal against the order in Supreme Court, showcasing to be the messiah of backward communities, other political parties have responded with equal alacrity. A slugfest: SP chief Akhilesh Yadav announced a ‘Revolution for Reservation’ and accused BJP of ‘a conspiracy to finish reservation for OBCs and warned Dalits they would be next…they want to remove OBCs from positions of power and reduce them to slaves…”; BSP chief Mayawati tweeted: “Congress government at Centre didn’t allow Mandal report implementation, and with this SC, ST reservation was also made ineffective. Now BJP is following in Congress footsteps… SP government didn’t give full rights to most backwards, and ended SC/ST reservation in promotions…” The BJP hit back saying Akhilesh is shedding crocodile tears: he “wants welfare of his family, not backwards. He should instead concentrate on his party as there’s a long list of his MLAs who are in touch with us.” The Congress submitted a memorandum to Governor, demanding reservation for OBCs in civic electionsand also warned of launching a state-wide agitation to “expose the anti-backward mentality of the government”. With all fronts trying to score brownie points, the OBCs can wait.
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All is not well for the BJP in Tripura. On Wednesday last one more MLA, Dibachandra Hrangkhawal, resigned from the Assembly, becoming the 7thlegislator of the ruling coalition to quit this year. While he cited personal reasons for his resignation, he joined the Congress after being accompanied by a senior state Congress leader Saha, who too had resigned as a BJP MLA earlier this year. Interestingly, Hrangkhawal, former state Congress President had switched over to BJP just before 2018 Assembly polls. Like himfive other MLAs have quit either the BJP or its allythe Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, after having joined the two by quitting Congress or TMC. The timing is clearly not good as the Assembly polls are due early next year. Worse its intriguing as the BJP had won 3 of 4 Assembly by-polls this June. Soon after Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb was replaced by Manik Saha in May, following a revolt in the party. What triggers the exodus, only time will tell.
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Reprieve For Kerala, MahaOpp
The Congress in Kerala and the NCP in Maharashtra can heave a sigh of relief. It’s veteran leaders, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh respectively have got reprieve. Chandy has been given a clean chit by the CBI in the sexual harassment allegation levelled by a woman, who is prime accused in the solar scam that had rocked his government nearly a decade ago.The Congress has sought an apology from Chief Minister Vijayan for recommending the probe, which was “politically motivated”. While Deshmukh doesn’t have the same luck of exoneration, he was granted bail by the Bombay High Court after more than a year after he was arrested in an alleged corruption case. The court refused to further stay its order of granting bail to him in a corruption case registered by the CBI. ‘I was implicated in a false case’, he said referring to ED’s alleged money-laundering case, based on an FIR registered by the CBI in an alleged corruption case in April 2021. The Opposition in both States have a score to settle.
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Gov-CM Row Sharpens
Far from ebbing,the Chief Minister-Governor row is escalating in Chhattisgarh. On Thursday last, Bhupesh Baghel sharpened the attack by sending a 4-page letter to Governor Uikey alleging she wasn’t giving her assent to amendment bills providing overall 76% quota at behest of BJP. These were passed by the Assembly on December 3, and since then Raj Bhavan has been sitting on the file, even after Baghel submitted a reply to its 10-point queries, despite ‘objection by his officers that there was no such arrangement in the Constitution.’ “Keeping in view her stubbornness and interest of 2.5 crore people of the state, I decided to send her the replies. To satisfy the (her) ego… she is again looking for excuses…It’s unfortunate now the legal advisor will examine it. Has the legal advisor become bigger than Assembly?” Lamented Baghel. Viewing it as yet another example of attempts to weaken and demean Constitutional institutions, his ruling Congress shall organise a mega rally in Raipur on January 3to put pressure. A futile exercise, in the backdrop that Governor-CM row is becoming a rule rather than exception in Opposition States!
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The BJP unmistakably adheres to the proverb ‘the early bird catches the worm.’ While elections to Odisha Assembly are a long way off, 2024, the party has already kicked off its campaign with President Nadda addressing Shakti Kendra Karyakarta Sammilani, a meeting of party’s panchayat-level workers, on his two-day visit to the State on Wednesday last, two days after the ruling BJD celebrated its 25th year. He slammed Naveen Patnaik government of being corrupt and anti-development. The list of accusations: non-implementation of Ayushman Bharat scheme and denying 60 lakh poor people its benefits; missing key of Puri Jagannath temple’s ‘Ratna Bhandar’ (treasure trove) and Naveen Babu roaming around with duplicate keys; failure of keeping promise of opening Odia University in four years and a sugar mill; atrocities against women, Dalits and tribals at its peak, etc. As against these he listed Centre’s developmental projects/schemes for the State, urged people to join Modi’s ‘development Yatra’ and ensure the lotus blooms in both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Aware of BJP’s plan to dethrone him, an astute and one of the longest serving Chief Ministers Naveen babu is least worried. “Our party will serve Odisha for over 100 more years’, he said. Challenging enough. —INFA