Editorial

As the ruling BJP gears up for the three State elections followed by the general election, the Government’s propaganda machinery has gone into an overdrive tell the people the supposed ‘successes’ of the Government. Optimistic GDP growth rate figures are being flaunted, without telling the people that the basis for calculation has been quietly changed so as to present a picture far from the truth. The grievous harm that demonetization has done to the economy is known to all but the spokesmen of the Government would never admit it. Now a leader...

West Bengal saw a spate of violence during the panchayat elections in May. Now, at the time of forming the boards, violence has broken out again. Three persons have been killed. Home-made crude bombs were used freely. The police have recovered over two hundred unexploded bombs, at Amdanga near Barasat in the North 24-Parganas district. The CPM and the TMC fought pitched battles. The intensity of the attack by supporters of the down and out CPM has apparently taken the ruling TMC by surprise. Complaints have been made that sophisticated...

It needs a great deal of gullibility of the people to believe that five eminent citizens of the country were plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister of the country. But this is the charge that has been brought against them by the Pune police. One thing that is common to all of them is that they are critics of the present Government and are zealous defenders of civil rights. Two are lawyers and social activists, another a journalist, a third is a Mumbai-based lawyer and another is a woman lawyer and human rights activist. The Pune police...

Just before the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha ended, the Centre introduced the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018. The NDA Government is likely to push through this Bill in the winter session of Parliament, so that by the time elections are held, it will become a law in the statute book. The Opposition has very rightly opposed this Bill. The DNA is the main constituent of chromosomes. Through it the genetic information of the parents is transmitted to the offspring. The DNA contains all the fundamental and...

A three-judge division bench the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice has upheld the election of 20,159 candidates who were ‘elected’ unopposed in the panchayat elections held in West Bengal in May this year. All these candidates belong to the ruling Trinamool Congress. Three opposition political parties of the State had moved the apex court for quashing these elections because, they alleged, the TMC had, by threats and intimidations, prevented their candidates from filing their nominations. The apex court has held that elections of so...

The United Arab Emirates has offered Rs. 700 crore to Kerala flood victims. But the Centre has refused to accept the offer. Coming to the aid of flood or quake or epidemic victims is natural for every human being, every society and every country. The obstinacy to refuse to accept such help is inexplicable. Maybe the amount of the offer (Rs.700 crore) has hurt the amour propre of the Centre which has sanctioned only Rs. 500 crore for Kerala. Refusing relief for afflicted people shows a strange mentality. India itself has gone all out in aid of...

The Election Commission is again trying to ensure that the ceiling fixed for election propaganda by the parties is strictly observed by them. The EC has convened an all-party meeting in New Delhi next Monday. The EC has fixed Rs. 54 lakh for a candidate to spend for Lok Sabha polls in small States like Sikkim or Arunachal and Rs. 70 lakh for other States. For State Assembly polls the figures are respectively Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 28 lakh. It is common knowledge that the parties spend much more than the ceiling fixed by the EC. The bigger and...

A wholly unnecessary controversy has been created over Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan, accepting the invitation of his former cricket buddy Imran Khan to attend the latter’s swearing in ceremony. Sidhu is a minister in the Congress Government of Punjab. But his visit to Pakistan was purely private and personal; he did not go there as a representative of either the Congress party or the Punjab Government. But such is the atmosphere of intolerance prevailing in the country that a mountain has been made out of a molehill. His visit has...

The death and devastation suffered by Kerala in the recent floods is a national calamity and should be treated as such. Preliminary assessments have put the damage to crops and property at Rs. 8000 crore. (Kerala’s revenue budget for the current year is Rs. 88,000 crore). The death toll has already crossed the 400 mark. The whole economy of this small State has received a body blow. While enabling the lakhs of displaced people to return to their homes is the priority, there are several bigger tasks ahead: rebuilding their homes, preventing...

Several States this year have received excessive rainfall like Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala. Kerala have been the worst hit. Already 164 persons have been killed and the death toll is mounting. Twelve out of the State’s fourteen districts have been affected, bringing normal life to a standstill. Nearly 2.23 lakh persons have been forced to abandon their hearts and homes and take shelter in relief camps. Extensive damage has been caused to crops and property. Roads and bridges have been washed away in the fury of the...

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a Titan among dwarfs. He had a vision of India. Few among his colleagues had anything that can be called a vision. As Prime Minister he knew that he was primus inter pares or first among equals – not above them all.  His innate sense of justice and fair play never deserted him. After the Gujarat communal pogrom of 2002, he asked the then Chief Minister of that State to do his rajdharma. He wanted to do more. Those who stayed his hands then, lived on to see themselves being reduced to political non-entities. He became...

Somnath Chattopapdhyay passed away at a time when the country needed him most to retain its democratic and secular constitution and polity, to resist the onslaughts on the sovereignty of Parliament. As a Speaker of the Lok Sabha he was very fair and gave more scope to the Opposition members as he knew that the highest tribune of the people should give more scope to the Opposition than the Treasury benches. A gentleman to a fault, his courtesy and dignified deportment was exemplary. As Chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development...

It is most unusual for a presiding officer of a legislature, who usually comes from the ruling party, to expunge the remarks of a prime minister for using language unbecoming of his office. At least in the parliamentary history of India, it is difficult to recall such an incident. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday expunged the remarks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi about a Congress member who had contested and lost the election for the office of the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The victory of the ruling party’s candidate in a...

Allegations of corruption in defence deals, of inflated prices, of cut money paid and received, of arbitrarily changing specifications initially settled, etc., have been made repeatedly, involving politicians and defence officials. The Bofors scandal haunted Rajiv Gandhi till his death. During the Kargil war, allegations of corruption in buying coffins for the dead soldiers were made against the then Defence Minister George Fernandes. Corruption allegations were made again in the deal to buy Agusta Helicopters for VVIPs. The latest to rock the...

The treatment meted out by the Assam police – obviously under instructions from the State and the Central Governments – to an eight-member Trinamool Congress delegation at Silchar airport on Thursday could and should have been avoided. The delegation consisted of six Members of Parliament, an MLA and a minister of West Bengal. They had gone in response to an invitation of a citizens’ body to attend a meeting to protest against the controversial National Register of Citizens. According to the Assam police, the TMC leaders were detained at the...

The second National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has just been published. The names of 40,66,707 persons, most of them Bengalis but some Nepalis and others also, have not been recorded in the NRC. They have been given time until September to prove their citizenship. Those who will fail to make the mark even then will become Stateless people. Bangladesh will not accept a single one of them as its citizen. They will become Stateless. They will be denied the right to vote and denied of all the rights that a citizen is entitled to – from...

The truth is out at last. How does the Sangh Parivar look upon the intellectuals?  A BJP MLA of Karnataka, has said that were he the Home Minister of the State,” I would order to shoot the intellectuals” because “they live in this country, breathe our air, drink out water, and use all the facilities for which we pay tax. Then they raise slogans against the Indian Army. Our country faces grave danger from intellectuals and seculars, more than anyone else.” How close his views come to those of Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister of Hitler...

Despite the Government’s stout denial that there is any wrongdoing about the Rafale deal, the controversy refuses to die down. The Government maintains that the per-aircraft price of Rafale cannot be disclosed because it is covered by the confidentiality clause. The Congress says the price of the aircraft (without its avionics and missiles etc) is not secret. The French Government “clarification” that security issues are confidential does not clarify whether the price is considered a security issue. So the price controversy is kept alive. The...

Right in the heart of India’s capital Delhi, three children aged eight, four and two died of hunger. The Bengali family had migrated from Medinipur to New Delhi in search of livelihood. The father was a rickshaw puller. His rickshaw was stolen, taking away the family’s sole source of earning. The father left in search of a new job. The mother with her three children was left alone. Then began the days of starvation and slow, excruciatingly painful death – death by inches. All the three children died. Their shrivelled up bodies were brought to...

The result of the general elections in Pakistan, held on Wednesday, was a foregone conclusion. It is the Pakistan Army which has won.  Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were the Army’s proxy. Over the past few weeks many winnable candidates of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of the ousted and imprisoned former Prime Minister and of the Pakistan People’s Party of Bilawal Bhutto switched sides and joined Imran’s party under Army ”persuasion”. What is creditable for Nawaz Sharif is that even under extremely adverse...

Our rulers do not seem to be overly concerned about how the rest of the world sees us. They, our rulers, launch a fusillade if an opposition leader criticizes the rulers in a foreign country. Their patriotism is questioned. There is no harm, however, in the Prime Minister going abroad and telling foreign audiences that before he came to take charge of India, the country had made no progress. Progress started only after he came on the scene. Some may say it is a matter of perception. Well may that be. But then others, too, have their perception...

Ultimately it required Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s direct personal intervention to resolve the fortnight long deadlock in the Calcutta Medical College, precipitated by adamant bureaucrats. The medical students on hunger strike, some of whose condition had become critical, broke their fast on Monday evening after all their demands were accepted by the political leadership of the State Government, overriding the obstinacy of the bureaucrats who had taken the confrontation with the students as a battle of egos. Two floors have been allotted...

Pakistan observers have been writing for the past few weeks about the blatant way the Army and the ISI are interfering in the general elections to be held next Wednesday. The Army’s role in the politics of Pakistan has been known for long. Any elected civil government to be in power cannot afford to be on the wrong side of the Army because the civil government – of whichever party – is really a façade for the Army. But, to its credit the judiciary, especially the higher judiciary, had maintained its independence. The Army had also maintained...

The opposition parties have long been alleging that the party in power often misuses anti-corruption laws to target and harass them. In the legal armoury of the Centre there are any number of agencies against corruption – the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Income Tax Department. As opposition leaders have been pointing out from time to time, these agencies are selectively used to target the opposition. The same person may be booked by each of these agencies and...

Few will fail to notice the subtle irony in the fact that the day the Supreme Court asked the Parliament to enact a separate law against lynching, the octogenarian social activist Swami Agnivesh was beaten up and sent to hospital in the BJP-ruled Jharkhand by the foot soldiers of the Hindutva brigade. The Swami was going to Litipara in Pakur district to attend a meeting organized by the Pahariya tribal community. He had invited the agitators to come and talk to him but they were in no mood for talks because their ‘mission’ was different – to...