Editorial

As the general elections approach, the ruling BJP and the opposition parties are raising the pitch of their battle which is going to be a no-holds-barred one. Chandra Babu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh has withdrawn the “letter of consent” to the CBI that empowered the central agency to inquire into cases in the State without seeking permission of the State Government. Now it will have to obtain the State’s permission each time it wants to inquire into any case, unless the inquiry is ordered by the Supreme Court or the High Court of the State....

As the general elections approach the protagonists of militant HIndutva are becoming more intemperate in propagating their point of view. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad says it will gherao all the members of Parliament to get their consent for building the Ram Mandir. The hint is that any member who has a different view on the Mandir issue will be targeted. In West Bengal some senior BJP leaders have asked party members and supporters to “bury in the earth” anyone daring to obstruct the Ram Rath Yatras they are bringing out from three different...

When the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with his one time rival Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka was plunged into a political crisis. Wickeremesinghe claimed he was still the Prime Minister, had majority in Parliament and would prove it on the floor of the House. But Sirisena effectively checkmated Wicremesinghe by “proroguing” Parliament till November 16. This gave Rajapaksa the time to poach MPs from the rival camp. But obviously the ploy failed: Sirisena...

Captain Arvind Kathpalia is no ordinary commercial pilot. He is the Director (Operations) of the Air India, the Government’s flagship airliner. He was to fly a New Delhi-London flight on Sunday afternoon. When put to the compulsory pre-flight breathalyser test, he was found to have “unacceptably high blood alcohol count”. What compounds his – and his employer the Air India’s – guilt is that this is the second time he had been found drunk. In February he had his pilot’s licence suspended for three months for “skipping” a breathalyser test. On...

President Donald Trump has received a set-back in the midterm elections to the Congress. While his Republican Party still has a majority in the upper house or Senate, the Democrats have captured the House of Representatives.  Like the general breed of politicians he has claimed victory. But that claim is fatuous. With their majority in the lower house the Democrats will now be able to thwart many of the policies being doggedly pursued by Trump. Both the Democrats and the President have threatened to start “inquiries” against each other. The...

India and the United States are said to be the two largest democracies in the world. The American democracy is well over two hundred years old while Indian democracy is still in its pubescent stage. Both countries have suffered occasional attacks on the democratic system but on looking back it appears that the checks-and-balances system has worked far better in the US than in India. In the US, the ‘system’ is still independent of the highest executive of the State – the President. The media in the US has also refused to be cowed down by a...

When the Prime Minister told a stunned nation two years ago on November 8, that promissory notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 had been demonetized and that these had ceased to be legal tenders, he enumerated a number of benefits which he claimed would flow from this decision. One was stopping terror funding. It is a tragic irony that on the second anniversary of that fateful day, the Maoists killed five CISF jawans in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. Terror attacks on security forces also continue in Jammu and Kashmir. On the face of it,...

By-elections were held in three Lok Sabha and two Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Karanataka on November 3. The results are out. The BJP has lost four to the Congress JD(S) alliance. The only Lok Sabha seat it could win was Shivamogga where State BJP chief B. S. Yeddyurappa’s son was contesting. Coming as they do just weeks before five State Assembly elections and months before the general election, the results should worry the BJP. It has to be borne in mind that the by-polls were held in an atmosphere in which the tempo of the belligerent...

The ISIS-style gunning down of five Bengalis in a village in the Tinsukia district of Upper Assam, will revive the nightmarish memories of ‘drive-out-the-Bengali’ movements that used to take place periodically in the last century. Assam saw such movements in 1948, 1955, 1960, 1974 and from 1979 to 1985. It was thought that with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985, the bitterness of the past had been buried and the Bengalis in Assam would be able to live peacefully. Indeed, there was peace. But an ill-conceived decision of the BJP...

General elections in Bangladesh will be held in December. But the opposition is already at a disadvantage, with the leader of the principal opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) president Khaleda Zia in jail. Begum Khaleda was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in February this year. She was accused of misappropriation of Taka 3.15 crore ($3,75,000)  of a charitable trust named after her late husband, former president of Bangladesh, Zia-ur Rahman. Her supporters had been agitating for her release in view of the coming...

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena has dismissed his prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. In the 2015 presidential election, it was Sirisena, then Health Minister in the Rajapaksa government, who defeated Rajapaksa and became president. As Rajapaksa was pursuing a pronouncedly pro-China policy, New Delhi heaved a sigh of relief. Sirisena was considered friendly to India. Things, however, started changing in Sri Lanka of late. The differences between president Sirisena and prime minister Wickremesinghe became manifest. Now the wheel has...

Justice Sathyanarayanan has upheld the disqualification of eighteen AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to Sasikala, the jailed former aide of the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha. This gives a reprieve to Chief Minister E. K. Palaniswami to continue in power. If the disqualification had been struck down, the Palaniswami Government would have been reduced to a minority. Sasikala, it may be recalled, had claimed the mantle of her menor Jayalalithaa and staked claim for chief ministership. But her dream was shattered as a court found her...

The civil war in the CBI and the Modi Government’s ham-handed handling of it has tarnished the image of both. Both the Director and the Special Director approached the Supreme Court. The decisions announced by the apex court on Friday will prevent the Centre from managing the CBI in the way it likes – rather liked to do. While not holding the transfer of the Director and the Special Director as illegal or unconstitutional, it had ordered that the ‘interim’ Director Nageswara Rao, who himself faces corruption charges, will only do day-to-day...

When he was campaigning in the last general elections as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in 2014, Narendra Modi had said once in power he would ensure ‘minimum government, maximum governance.’ The promise of ‘minimum government’ is being implemented but perhaps not in the sense that the prime minister meant it. One of premier agencies of the Government – the CBI – was witnessing a no-holds-barred war between its director and its special director. Both accused each other of corruption. An FIR was lodged against the special director who...

The Central Bureau of Investigation is the prime investigating agency of the Centre. The parties running the Union Government from time to time have been accused of harassing their political opponents by using, inter alia, the CBI. But the CBI has always presented its public image as an competent body working with professional expertise and efficiency. Never before has it been seen that two senior most officials of this organization are engaged in a running battle against each other. But the registering of an FIR by the CBI against its own...

Journalist-turned-politician, Congressman-turned-BJP, Rajiv-admirer-turned-Modi-admirer, Minister of State for External Affairs Mobashar Jawed Akbar has resigned in the face of a litany of charges against him by his former women colleagues when he was in journalism. But he did not resign gracefully. He put in his papers only when he was asked to do so by the Prime Minister. But he still remains a member of the BJP.  His party is not known to have even asked him to explain his position on the charges levelled against him. His bravado on his...

An army court martial has sentenced a former Major-General, two Colonels and four soldiers to life imprisonment for murdering in cold blood five leaders of the All Assam Students’ Union, not a terrorist body, at Dangari, a village in Tinsukia district of Assam, way back in 1994. This is a rare and exceptional case in which criminals in uniform have been brought to book. The incident was initially passed off as an armed encounter with armed rebels. It took time for truth to come out and be established. There have been innumerable cases of...

One of the promises that Narendra Modi, as the BJP candidate for prime ministership in the 2014 general elections, made was to create twenty million or two crore jobs a year during the next five years. That this has not happened is well known. This fact has now been brought out in the Labour Ministry’s data on job creation, causing acute embarrassment to the Government. The data were given in the report of the Estimates Committee of Parliament headed by none other than the veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi. Two BJP members of the...

That a 29-year old Kashmiri Ph.D. student in the Aligarh University had left his studies, joined a terrorist group and was shot dead by the security forces on Thursday shows the extent of alienation of the Kashmiris from India. Manan Bashir Wani had the prospect of a bright career before him. That he chose to leave his studies and took a gun in hand to join the ranks of militants raises serious questions about the correctness of India’s Kashmir policy. The very epithet ‘terrorist’ suggests that they are no part of the mainstream, but a small...

With the Election Commission announcing the dates of Assembly polls in five States the stage has been set for what politicians and commentators see as the ‘semi-final’ to the final match – the 2019 general elections. Several changes in the political situation have taken place over the last few months. The latest development is that Mayawati has decided not to enter into any poll alliance with the Congress. Akhilesh Yadav of SP has also dumped the Congress, alleging that Rahul Gandhi’s party was taking too long a time to make up its mind for...

The Calcutta High Court has issued an ad interim injunction till next Tuesday on the West Bengal Government’s decision to pay Rs 10,000 to 28,000 thousand Puja Committees in the State. The ostensible purpose of the donation was to create public awareness about “Safe Drive Save Life” by the Puja Committees in cooperation with the police. The total expenditure would have come to Rs 28 crore. The High Court has sought to know from the State Government why it was donating this money to the Puja Committees at a time when it admits to be cash-...

It is Prime Minister Modi’s moment of ‘Triumf’. By signing the $4.2 billion deal for the acquisition of four squadrons of S-400 Triumf missile defence system, ignoring the angry scowl of Washington and its threat to impose sanctions on India. Modi has made an emphatic statement, namely, that India’s foreign policy is conducted in the national interest of India and any amount of pressure put by any foreign Power to change it will be of no avail. Judging by Washington’s initial reaction to the signing of the Indo-Russian deal it seems White...

BSP supremo Mayawati has said there will be no poll alliance with the Congress in UP. She has already tied up with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress in Chhattisgarh and announced that her party will field candidates on its own in MP and Rajasthan without getting into any formal alliance or informal understanding with the Congress. So her decision to go it alone in UP will not cause much surprise. But the long statement she issued on Wednesday is cleverly drafted. For her decision to break with the Congress she has blamed ‘some’ leaders of the...

A Pakistani helicopter violated Indian airspace on Sunday, entered about 250 metres into Indian territory, hovered for full five minutes, then flew back safely into Pakistani airspace. Some TV channels have telecast pictures of the helicopter along with a passenger who has been identified as the “prime minister” of “Azad”, that is, Pakistan-occupied, Kashmir. India’s ground troops are claimed to have fired at the chopper with “small arms”. Unharmed, the chopper along with its pilot and passenger safely flew back into Pakistan, even as two IAF...

The Supreme Court has, by a majority judgment on Thursday, upheld the right of the State to put ‘reasonable restriction’ on a citizen’s right to privacy by validating the Aadhar scheme. But at the same time has it laid down a lakshman rekha which the State cannot cross in its efforts to make the citizens’ right to almost every service contingent on his having an Aadhar card.  It would have been better if the brother judges of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud had agreed with him in holding the Aadhar scheme as unconstitutional and declared it null and...