Warning bells for parties
Tamil Nadu is devastated. Its iconic leader Jayalalitha’s passing away has put a big question mark on the functioning of the Government for the next four years as well as the AIADMK’s future. Will politics change in the State, after five long decades, is the big question. Though Chief Minister O Paneerselvam has taken over the reins smoothly, with the transition easy, he lacks the sheer charisma of Amma. His biggest challenge will be to keep his flock together and retain AIADMK’s majority in the Assembly. However, he can take solace in the fact that the party main rival, the DMK is faced with the charisma issue as well. Age is not on the side of Karunanidhi and his son Stalin, when he takes over, is no match either. Will Amma’s controversial aide Sasikala enter the party as General Secretary and assert herself, is another question doing the rounds. And then there is the question of how the national parties, the BJP and the Congress will try to exploit the vacuum. This only time will tell. However, there is a message in the icon’s death for some regional parties. Personality cult of leaders, such as Mamata Di in Trinamool Congress, Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh in the Samajwadi Party and Naveen Patnaik in Biju Janata Dal has made the parties oblivious to a second-rung leadership. No longer should they be complacent that no one can step into their shoes. Time for them to introspect.
Gujarat’s Vote ‘Regularisation’
Voter appeasement is the mantra for the Gujarat Government. With Assembly polls due early 2017, the Vijay Rupani Cabinet has started focusing on city-based voters. On Wednesday last, it brought an ordinance to regularise 75,000-odd residential encroachments on Government land in five cities — Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Surat. Thus, people who have homes on such land will need to submit their applications within three months of the notification of the ordinance, after Governor Kohli approves it. Apparently, the provisions under the Urban Land Ceiling Regulation Act, 1976, repealed in 1999, had some 1.49 crore sq m land vested with the Government as surplus land. Of this, encroachments had come up on 52.80 lakh sq m, of which 33.88 lakh sq m had residential encroachments. The bonanza also includes that those who wish to regularise their homes will have to pay a discounted amount at government rates—much less than the market. It needs to be seen whether the ‘poor’ in urban areas will oblige the BJP too?
UP’s Triple Talaq Tizzy
The Allahabad High Court may have sent some political parties into a tizzy in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. On Thursday last, it ruled: “Triple talaq is unconstitutional, it violates the rights of Muslim women. No personal law board is above the Constitution,” on a Muslim woman’s petition seeking quashing of the divorce her husband gave her by just saying ‘talaq’ three times. While the BJP and Congress have on expected lines hailed the verdict, others like BSP and SP will mull over it, obviously weighing options of how its minority vote bank would react. Mores so, as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is going to appeal against it and Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind too has told the Supreme Court, hearing related matters, that there is no scope for interference with the Muslim Personal Law. Thus, while Muslim women across States may give the HC thumbs up, uncertainty lingers. Recall, the U-turn by the Congress in 80s in the Shah Bano case. Will vote bank politics thrust another twist?
Odisha Tests Centre
Odisha may well halt the Power Ministry short in tom-tomming about being sensitive to the poor and giving them their due after taking away their land for projects. Many villages have been uprooted and jobs have not been offered, in areas of Kaniha and Talcher, where the Mahanadi Coal Field Ltd is operating in the State. Worse, the villagers have been forced to move out to ‘social friction’ areas and the Government must rethink its development policy, is BJD member of Lok Sabha Tathagata Satpathy’s advice to the Centre. Worse, the land was notified a decade ago, but new rules are being applied today. How can villagers with small holdings then qualify for getting jobs if they parted with ‘two acres’ of land is a moot question? Being inhuman in the garb of development is clearly unacceptable and there is need to take care of those being uprooted. Will a re-look help other States too?
Delhi’s Wage Toss
Delhi’s raise in basic minimum wages has gone for a toss. Far from raising wages, the industry is off-loading people. Modi’s demonetisation scheme has indeed hit Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hard. Factory owners, in the nation’s Capital, are struggling to pay their workers. And even if they do manage, it’s with old notes. The employee is left to stand in long queues, like the rest of the country, to get that elusive new cash. Other factories have deferred payment of salaries to as late as February-March, by which time they may be able to arrange enough money. Worse, employers are laying off people further. First, because of the wage hike, which cut into their profits and now because of cash crunch. The machinery in place to ensure minimum wages is thus at a loose end. According to estimates, Delhi has around 5 lakh small and large factories employing roughly 12 lakh workers. The bigger picture would have a mind-boggling number. It is difficult to imagine Kejriwal lumping the situation. But then what else can he do? Will the aam admi up the ante against his fight with the Centre?
What’s in a name? A lot, the BJP-ruled government in Maharashtra would say. Add royalty to it and see the difference. Well that’s what it did on Thursday last. The Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet renamed the Mumbai international airport ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport’ to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. Likewise it decided to rename Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (earlier Victoria Terminus) to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. The Maratha warrior king deserves more respect is the Cabinet’s justification. Will the change impress the voters before Mumbai goes to the civic body polls after a month? While we will have to wait for that, our netas could take a cue. Use their royal titles while going to the polls. A Maharaj, maharani, nawab et all may do wonders!— INFA