Editorial

The State Election Commission and the West Bengal Government have at last reached a consensus on the day of holding panchayat polls. It will be a one-day affair – May 24. The total police personnel available is less than the number of booths – 58,000002E Naturally, there will be no policemen in many booths, creating an ideal condition for the stronger political party in an area to flex its muscles and deploy its musclemen to prevent fair and free elections. All Opposition parties, from CPI-M to BJP have accused the ruling TMC of resorting to...

An undesirable and avoidable controversy has been created over the appointment of Justice K. M. Joseph, now the Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, as a judge of the Supreme Court. His name was recommended by the Collegium along with that of another. The other person, a senior advocate, has been appointed, but Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has objected to the appointment of Justice Joseph. What is noteworthy is that it was Justice Joseph who struck down the dismissal of the Congress Ministry in Uttarakhand by the Centre by...

The Pakistan Supreme Court has disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from holding any public office for life on charges of corruption. Sharif was convicted for acquiring vast property abroad through corrupt means. This brings to an end Sharif’s political career for good. He had earlier been ousted from the office of the PM and later as head of his party, the PML(N). While presidents and prime ministers of Pakistan are known for their corruption – former president Asif Ali Zardari earned the epithet of ‘Mr Ten Per Cent’ – it may not...

Quite mysteriously, teller machines of banks (ATMs) in as many as eleven States have suddenly gone ‘dry’. There is no cash in them. The Authorities seem clueless and confused. Some say that this being a festive season, ‘suddenly’ there was a huge rush for cash which was not expected. Pray, why? Everyone knows that this is the beginning of the Indian New Year, known and observed differently in different States – Naba Barsha in Bengal, Bihu in Assam, Puthandu in Chennai, Vaishakhi in north India and so on and so forth. So, what was the ‘...

Cricket lovers will be happy at Sourav Ganguly becoming president of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), succeeding Jagmohan Dalmiya who suddenly passed away a few days ago. Dalmiya had turned cricket into a multi-million-dollar industry. Dalmiya had successfully made India the country that came to dominate world cricket, marginalizing the White teams like England, Australia and South Africa that traditionally controlled the game. Sourav has inherited a legacy that he has to live up to and be worthy of. But the manner in which Chief...

There are worrying signs that people’s faith in the statutory bodies of the State, like the Central Vigilance Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG), the Election Commission, etc, is declining. This is most noticeable in the case of the law-enforcing agencies like the police and the criminal investigation department. The latest report of the Central Vigilance Commission, submitted to Parliament last week, says there has been a significant drop in the number of complaints made to it. In 2017 the CVC received 23,069 complaints...

The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the panchayat poll process in West Bengal. The apex court has not gone into the veracity or otherwise of State BJP’s complaint that its candidates are not being allowed to file their nomination papers. It has directed the party to approach the State Election Commissioner with their grievances. Complaints of Trinamool Congress supporters preventing opposition parties – not merely BJP but the Left and Congress also – have been pouring in from all over the State. Regular clashes between the TMC and...

A newspaper report says that for 70 posts of peon and helper of lab assistants in a university in West Bengal there were eleven thousand applicants. Among them were bachelors and masters of science, B Tech, and M Tech degree holders. The salary was Rs. 15,000. This exposes the stark reality of acute unemployment in the State. There is another aspect also. Higher education is becoming more and more expensive. Those joining the higher education courses usually come from well-to-do families. But the higher education they get is proving to be a...

If truth is the first casualty in a war, decency must be the first casualty in an election war. When decency is thrown to the winds by lower level workers, the party rank and file, it may be understandable if not supportable. But when indecent and offensive words come from the topmost leaders of the party, then that becomes a matter of concern because it violates the spirit of democracy. Likening opposition parties to cats, dogs, snakes, etc., may be a vocal tonic for the party faithfuls, but such language does not brighten the image of the...

The second part of the budget session of Parliament has been practically washed out because of a handful of law-makers. Lok Sabha is being adjourned day after day because two parties of the south are indulging in non-stop slogan shouting from the moment the House assembles. The Speaker says she cannot allow discussion on the No Confidence motion against the Government unless the slogan shouting stops and at least fifty members stand up in favour of the motion which has been admitted. The Government says it is prepared to discuss the motion,...

After the State Election Commission announced that the panchayat polls in West Bengal would be held on May 1, 3 and 5, candidates of different political parties are rushing to file their nomination papers. This has set off clashes between the supporters and workers of the parties. The accusing finger is almost always being pointed at the ruling Trinamool Congress. The supporters of the ruling party in West Bengal are accused of physically preventing or trying to prevent others from filing their nominations. Prospective candidates and their...

Minister of State for External Affairs, V. K. Singh, has said that the Indian labourers taken hostage by the ISIS from Mosul in Iraq and killed in 2014 had gone there illegally through unlicensed travel agents and the Indian Embassy in Iraq has no record of them. For the MoS, External Affairs to make such a statement at a press conference is unusual and unprecedented. What he said amounts to the admission that a thriving racket in luring Indian labourers to Arabian countries is going on and either the Centre does not know it or cannot do...

In face of China’s aggressive diplomacy to win over neighbours and isolate India from them, India seems at a loss. Leave out Pakistan, which has all along been hostile to India. Recent political changes in Nepal indicate a stronger influence on Beijing on Kathmandu. In Sri Lanka, former president Rajapaksha seems to have retrieved a good deal of lost political ground. Rajapaksha’s pro-Beijing tilt is well known. Maldives saw its India-friendly president, Mohamed Nasheed dethroned and forced to leave the country. The current president, Abdulla...

Even before the Election Commission could announce the poll date for Karnataka at a press conference on Tuesday, the “National Head, Information and Technology” wing of the BJP made a ‘scoop’ by first announcing the date himself, leaving the poll body red faced. The CEC has, of course, assured that a thorough inquiry would be held into the matter and the poll body “will take stringent legal and administrative action.’’ Coming close on the heels of the Delhi High Court striking down the EC order disqualifying 20 Aam Admi Party legislators of...

Digitization of data and their electronic transmission brought about a revolution in man’s day-to-day life. The Internet opened the information superhighway. If one had a computer connected to the Internet, then at the flick of a button one could access information on any subject under the sun. Then came FaceBook, Twitter, WhatsApp and all the rest of it. Personal details of an individual could be easily accessed. These data could be used for any purpose or shared with or sold to anyone. Technically, unauthorized access to data and their...

The brewing US-China trade war has now burst into the open. President Donald Trump has announced that to remedy a “multi-billion dollar trade deficit with China” he is taking a series of steps. US tariffs will be raised on about $50 to $60 billion worth of Chinese goods for ‘levelling’ tariffs between the two countries. Also, new restrictions will be imposed on Chinese investments in US. Then the US will also ‘take action’ against the Chinese at the World Trade Organization (WTO). China is unhappy with the US decision. Though Chinese...

It was almost a year ago, in June last year, that Indian officials at Baghdad let it be known  that they had lost touch with 40 construction labourers, mostly from Punjab, who were engaged in a government construction project in Mosul. It is only this Tuesday that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed in the Parliament that they had been killed and not only has their mass grave been found out but DNA test carried out on the dead bodies are of those missing since last year. The locals had informed an Indian search team that there...

In his speech at the plenary session of the Congress, after being elected president, Rahul Gandhi has given two messages to the party. First, that he wants to break the ‘wall’ that he perceives has separated the workers from the leadership. Those familiar with the organizational functioning of the Congress know that this is true, that there is, indeed, a ‘wall’ that prevents grassroots level party workers to have direct and easy access to the High Command. Second, he has made it clear that while he will not be retiring the old guard of the...

After embittering the relationship with West Bengal for no apparent reason, Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has at last seen reason and agreed to forget the past and open a new chapter of cooperation with Bengal after meeting his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee on Friday. This is a welcome development. But forgetting the past is not so easy. And it is questionable whether Chamling would have realized the need for cooperation had not Mamata been able to isolate and marginalize totally Bimal Gurung and his gang in the Darjeeling...

The Supreme Court on Thursday reminded the Press and journalists of the importance of ‘responsible journalism’. It particularly wanted the electronic media and websites to be extremely careful. A bench of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of India observed: “Are they free to write anything? . . . You cannot reproduce anything that comes to your heart and mind. There has to be some basis. You cannot nurture, construct, construe, create anything. That is not the culture of journalism” The apex court went a step further and said: “We don...

That the probe agencies of the Centre are misused by the party in power – whichever party it is – is well known. Once during the UPA regime the Supreme Court called the CBI a “caged parrot”.  Even after this admonition, the CBI has not changed. Only its political masters have. The Supreme Court has now directed the CBI and the ED to complete the probe into the 2G spectrum allocation case and other related matters in six months. The case has been dragging on for years. In December last year, the apex court acquitted the former Telecom Minisiter...

The ‘conquest’ of Tripura has led some over-enthusiastic saffron supporters to vandalize the statue of Lenin at Belonia and Subroom – an act that has been roundly condemned by all, irrespective of political opinion. This has now been followed by vandalizing the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar at Meerut and that of Periyar at Vellore. Ambedkar was the undisputed leader of the dalit people who fought all his life to give the dalits a place under the sun. Desecration of his statue is an insult to the dalits.  Erode Venkata Ramaswamy, popularly...

For all the party supremo’s warnings and remonstrations, the feuds within the Trinamool Congress go on unabated. The victims are members of the rival faction, or their relations, or totally innocent people who have nothing to do with politics or, in some cases, members of the police force. Extortion or tolabaji has become rampant, so are the ‘armed struggles’ for area domination. Despite Mamata Banerjee’s stern warnings that these will not be tolerated, there is no sign of their abating. The impression that is growing in the public about the...

Nirav Modi has filed a case for bankruptcy for one of his many companies in a US court. His uncle, Mehul Chowksi has ‘written’ to his employees that his business has been so damaged that he can’t pay them their salary and asked them to find alternative employment for themselves. Both the uncle and nephew are abroad and there is no indication that they can be brought back home to face trial any time soon. Two others, Lalit Modi and Viajay Mallya, are also abroad, having no fear of being extradited to their home country. The Government’s – and a...

Indian army chief Gen Bipin Rawat has cautioned the country that Pakistan, with the help of China, is carrying on a proxy war against India by a “planned’ influx of people from Bangladesh into the north-eastern part of India. To buttress his point he has claimed that a political party in the north-east, the AIUDF, has been growing faster than the BJP. The General did not explain two things. First, if Pakistan is carrying on a planned influx of Bangladeshis into India’s north-east, what the Indian Border Security Force is doing to prevent this...