Editorial

The BJP has been rejected by the people of the Hindi heartland which has been the party’s bastion since its inception. In Chhattisgarh the Congress has inflicted a huge defeat on it and in Rajasthan also it has been decisively rejected. The State Assembly elections in five States have proved the innate strength of the democratic polity founded and reared by Jawaharlal Nehru. It has been conclusively proved that Indian democracy can withstand a relentless attack on its foundations for full four and a half years – and still survive and prove...

The peace and social harmony prevailing in West Bengal is under threat. The Hindu Right-wing’s move to bring out Rath-Yatras that will cover all the Lok Sabha constituencies in the State is aimed at earning electoral dividends. A single bench of the Calcutta High Court has refused permission for the Rath Yatras and adjourned the hearing of the case till 9 January, 2019. The BJP has moved a division bench of the High Court and indicated that it will go to the Supreme Court also if necessary. The ruling TMC has threatened to bring out Pavitra...

Justice Kurian Joseph who has just retired from the Supreme Court has made some startling revelations. He has said that there was a time when he and three of his brother judges – Justices Ranjan Gogoi (now the CJI), J. Chelameswar and Madan Lokur – felt that the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Mishra, was “being controlled from outside”, that he was “not taking decisions independently” and that he was allocating cases to “benches headed by select judges with political bias”. This “outside influence” also worked in the appointment of judges...

The extradition of Christian Michel, the middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper kickback case will undoubtedly prove a shot in the arm for Prime Minister Modi in the run up to the general elections. The more so, as the PM has himself been cornered by the Congress on the Rafale deal.  Public memory being proverbially short, few people will remember that the case was detected in early 2013 during the second UPA regime and the names of several senior officials including the ex-Air Chief S. P. Tyagi came up early in the investigation. The charge...

It is no secret that security forces engaged in areas declared “disturbed” commit egregious violations of human rights. Statutes such as the Disturbed Areas Act or the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act give the security forces legal immunity against gross violations of human rights, going to the extent of murder of the innocent. The State invariably stands by the side of the myrmidons of the law even if they violate the law. These are usually passed off as “encounter deaths”. It is rarely, very rarely, that their guilt is established in a...

Capital Delhi witnessed a massive rally of farmers on Thursday highlighting their plight and demanding debt waiver and fixing higher prices for their produce. The Government insists that loan waiver is not a solution. Indeed, it is not. The solution lies in making agriculture profitable. For that several things are necessary. First computing the actual cost of production which includes all the inputs like seeds, fertilizers, irrigation water, the cost of electricity or diesel for running the pumpsets and the cost of labour – one’s own or that...

Donald Trump and controversy go hand in hand. The suspicion of a ‘Moscow hand’ in winning his election battle has dogged him at every step since his victory. The recent victory of the Democrats in the midterm elections to the House of Representatives has only added to the woes of the President. US prosecutors are saying that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chief, has repeatedly lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  Special Counsel Robert Mueller says Manafort had “lied on a variety of subject matters”. Manafort, it may be...

Every time the country nears a general election the Ram Mandir issue is revived, it takes the centre stage. The same thing has happened this time, too. A new dimension has been added. The Shiv Sena is trying to steal the thunder from its friend turned rival BJP. It is demanding that the BJP announce the date of starting the building of the temple. The Shiv Sena knows the BJP cannot announce the date because the whole matter is before the Supreme Court. The BJP knows it, too. But that deters neither the Shiv Sena nor the Sangh Parivar to whip...

Veteran Congress leader C. P. Joshi’s casteist remarks and his claim about the superiority of the Brahmins have justifiably evoked criticism across the political spectrum. Congress President Rahul Gandhi had to dissociate himself and his party from Joshi’s remarks and admonish him publicly. But the tendency to adopt a line of soft Hindutva against BJP’s hard Hindutva is already visible in Congress campaigning. Why Rahul-bhakts have to project their leader as Shiv-bhakt and why does he have to do mandir hopping so demonstratively before every...

India and Pakistan usually agree to disagree on all possible matters. In this situation of persisting hostility and mutual suspicion it is heartening to find that New Delhi and Islamabad have agreed on one point. Both countries have agreed to build a ‘corridor’ to Gurudwdara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan just across the international border, on the banks of the Ravi. The corridor will be functional next year on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. It will enable Indian pilgrims to visit the Gurudwara without any...

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...