Editorial

The general elections are still a good couple of years away. But the battle lines for it are already being drawn up in right earnest. To all appearances, there will be two major groupings this time: the NDA led by the BJP and the entire – and if not the entire the biggest chunk of it – of the opposition, laying the utmost emphasis on democracy and secularism – in equal measure. That the BJP, despite its unchallengeable majority in the Lok Sabha and the still strong charisma of the Prime Minister, is not taking the battle lightly is clear from...

One significant indication coming from the just concluded civic elections in the hills is that less and less people can now be enthused to vote for the GJM for achieving a separate Gorkhaland. Not only has Trinamool Congress wrested the Mirik municipality from the GJM, it has opened accounts in all the other three civic bodies as well.  The GJM’s alliance with the BJP, the ruling party at the Centre, did not improve its tally but in fact reduced it. For the first time the GJM leadership, especially Bimal Gurung, realized that the Gorkhas are...

The sacking of Noor-ur-Rehman Barkati, Shahi Imam of the Tipu Sultan Masjid of Kolkata by the Trustees of the Masjid has not come a day too soon. The peremptory sack order was served on him on Wednesday. It gave him seven days to vacate the Masjid or else face eviction by the police. Barkati had earned notoriety by issuing Fatwas against prominent Muslim writers and intellectuals like the Bangladeshi author Tasleema Nasreen in 2007.  Barkati declared an inam on her head which was actionable under the Indian Penal Code. But Chief Minister...

As the presidential poll comes nearer, the ruling BJP and the combined opposition are on a confrontation course. As the opposition parties are busy finding a name which will be acceptable to all, the ruling party has already delivered its first salvo against the opposition by targeting its prominent leaders. The raids on the offices of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and former Bihar Chief Minister and RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav have made former Bihar Minister and RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav have made the ruling party’s intentions...

Seven civic bodies in the State went to polls on Sunday – four in the hills and three in the plains. While voting in the hills went off peacefully, that in the plains was marred by violence. Bombs were used freely, activists of the parties were seen strutting about with firearms, poll staff were seen hiding themselves in the bathroom and the police were found to be playing a totally passive role, which actually amounted to helping the ruling party. Both sides resorted to violence, but the ruling party’s men did it more nonchalantly, as if...

The results of the seven civic bodies that went to polls recently confirm the supremacy of the TMC, the gradual wiping out of the Left and the Congress and prove that the BJP’s vote tally at the Contai (South) Assembly by-poll the other day was nothing more than a flash in the pan. The Trinamool Congress’ winning spree was equal in both the plains and the hills. For the first time, the party shattered the Congress bastion at Domkal, capturing 18 of the 21 seats. The BJP failed to open its account here. Another Congress bastion in the north,...

The Government has, finally, agreed to introduce genetically modified crops in this country. The first GM crop will be that of mustard. In taking this decision, the Government has chosen to ignore informed opinion that was firmly against the introduction of genetically modified or GM crops for a whole host of purely scientific reasons. In the process, the Government has also chosen to brush aside the strong reservations of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an outfit of the Sangh Parivar itself. Studying the genesis of the sustained move to introduce...

BJP’s decision to talk only to those in Kashmir who accept the Indian Constitution shows its myopic vision. Every day, as the security forces try to control the fury of the people, the number of those who do not accept the Constitution, who want ‘azadi’ and who preach Kashmir’s secession from India swells. To refuse to talk to the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference is to fly in the face of the stark reality. More, it weakens the brittle alliance of the PDP and the BJP. If the alliance eventually breaks down and the State Government is...

The International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations, has ordered a stay on the execution of Kulbhusan Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer who was doing business, whom Pakistan allegedly abducted from Chabahar in Iran, brought him to Pakistan and falsely accused him of being an Indian spy working in Baluchistan.  The Pakistani authorities refused consular access to Jadhav for as many as sixteen times which they are legally bound to do as Jadhav is an Indian citizen. After the ICJ issued its order staying Jadhav’s...

Ever since the sweeping victory of the BJP in the UP Assembly elections, and more recently after the Delhi civic polls, the Aam Admi Party had been alleging that the supposedly tamper-proof Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be and have been tampered with to ensure BJP victory. The BJP dismissed the charge with a shrug of the shoulders, asserting that a party rejected by the people is taking recourse to such laughable excuses to save its precious face. On its part, the Election Commission threw a challenge to Kejriwal and his party, or, for...

European Union Council President Donald Tusk has hailed French President Emmanuel Macron’s victory as the victory of “liberty, equality and fraternity” and a “victory over tyranny of fake news.” In our country, the ‘tyranny’ of fake and downright false news continues with the direct or indirect patronage of the powers-that-be, while real news or important news is either sent to an obscure corner of the inside page of a newspaper or given a short shrift by the electronic media. For example, stone-pelting at the security forces by youngsters of...

The decisive victory of Emmanuel Macron as the new French President, defeating his far-Right rival Marine le Pen in the just concluded elections, is a welcome political development at a time when the Right is having a field day over a wide swath of the world – from Brazil to the United States to the United Kingdom to Germany to India and beyond. The margin of Macron’s victory (66.06 per cent of the 99.99 per cent votes counted) was beyond the wildest expectations of the optimists. As political observers pointed out, it signified the deep urge...

The Supreme Court has upheld the verdict of the Delhi High Court sentencing the four monsters in human form who raped, mangled and mutilated a 23-year old paramedic student, Vidya Singh, on December 16, 2012 in Delhi who later died in a Singapore hospital, to death. One accused committed suicide in jail during the trial while the sixth one, being six months short of being an adult, escaped the gallows after spending a period in a reformatory. One of the apex court judges who heard the appeal, Justice R. Banumathi, rightly held that “Where a...

The entire Southern India is reeling under a severe drought. Tamil Nadu has been worst hit. A sensation-seeking and sensation-mongering media has hardly highlighted the plight of the people down South. Drought has caused crop losses. Today the situation is so grave that whatever drinking water is available is being used to meet the thirst of humans, the cattle are being deprived. A Swiss insurer has estimated the losses suffered by Tamil Nadu due to drought at three billion dollars or Rs. 19,463 crore. However, only about Rs 25.95 crore losses...

The verbal duel between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the central leadership of the BJP is getting fiercer by the day. While the CM is drawing the people’s attention to the development schemes she initiated and successfully implemented despite resource constraint, the BJP is trying to polarize the electorate on communal line. The CM is being portrayed as an ‘appeaser’ of the minority community. But excepting the allowance for the Imams, no specific instance of minority-appeasing could be given against her. The development...

Irrational conservatism and ‘tabooism’ seems to have become the order of the day in 21st century India. Cow vigilantes are lynching anyone transporting cows almost in gay abandon. Khap Panchayats are lynching boys and girls of so-called upper and lower castes marrying. Self-appointed gau rakshaks are murdering anyone found or even suspected to have eaten beef. Moral policemen will thrash a boy and a girl holding hands in public. And now comes the news from a predominantly Muslim village, about 30 kms from Mathura town in Uttar Pradesh, that...

The Attorney-General of India has told the Supreme Court that citizens cannot claim ‘absolute right’ over their bodies. To buttress his point he said the law debarred people from committing suicide (the right to destroy one’s body) and women were debarred from terminating their pregnancy except under medical advice and in conformity with law. If the State chooses to develop further the logic of the Attorney-General, it may, any day, say that citizens cannot claim ‘absolute right’ over their minds either; that citizens cannot think thoughts...

Leaders of some like-minded non-BJP – in fact anti-BJP – parties got together on May Day to search for a common ground to stand together and gird up their loins against the saffron tempest. From what could be gathered, the coming presidential poll is going to be a litmus test for these parties to agree on a common candidate.  At the moment, no name comes to mind who will have the stature, the experience, the acceptability and the qualities of a president who will be committed to the ideals of democracy and secularism but will have to work, as...

Pakistani army regulars along with the terrorists trained and armed by it once again killed two Indian army jawans across the LoC near the Krishna Ghati sector on Monday. What is more repulsive is that after killing they mutilated the bodies of the two jawans. This they had done before also and then also we had heard the same old things from the Government, namely, that the Indian Army would ‘respond appropriately’ at a ‘time of its own choosing’, that ‘the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers would not go in vain’. The people are hearing the same...

Newspaper reports say that banks in almost all the metropolitan cities and State capitals are running short of cash in their ATMs, from Mumbai to Kohima in distant Nagaland. Reports also say that bank branch managers are saying that they are forced to dispense limited amounts of cash to individual customers because of erratic supply of cash by the RBI. Formally and officially, the RBI has withdrawn limits on withdrawals. But in actual practice, many banks even in Mumbai are allowing withdrawal of only Rs. 1000 per customer while a few others...

The BJP juggernaut is rolling on, crushing all obstructions. The result of three civic elections in Delhi has only brought out that fact in sharp relief. What is most pathetic is that the Congress has been relegated to the third position. The Aam Admi Party came a distant second to the BJP but the Congress was far behind even the AAP. Some top functionaries of the Delhi Congress have sent in their resignations to the party chief but resigning is hardly the answer to the party’s steady decline. Narendra Modi is the winner in every election, not...

All observers of the Kashmir scene are worried that the situation is fast going from bad to worse and if the drift continues a point of no return may soon be reached. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met the Prime Minister in New Delhi on Tuesday and impressed on him to open a dialogue because talks alone can break the present deadlock. What the Prime Minister told her is not known. But immediately after the meeting, the Government made it clear that it did not believe that talks with ‘separatists’ would yield any result because...

The Maoists have indulged in one more carnage in the dense jungles of Sukma in Chhattisgarh when they surrounded, out-numbered and out-gunned a CRPF party and shot dead 25 constables. This is not the first such attack on the security forces and nobody can rule out new attacks in future. The Maoists should ask themselves whether they have advanced toward their goal of revolution even by a millimeter by trapping and murdering members of the security forces. To both Lenin and Mao the sine qua non of a revolution was the participation of the...

Observing restraint in speech and behaviour is a sine qua non of democracy. In practical, day-to-day life this is not always strictly observed but even so there is an undrawn red line or an unwritten no-go which is usually observed by all political parties. The violation of this code of democratic conduct started during the CPM rule in West Bengal, especially toward the end of its long monopoly of power, when the writing on the wall had become all too visible. Some CPM stalwarts like Benoy Konar, Anil Bose, Shyamal Chkaraborty, etc, used...

Having allowed, if not actually encouraged, the so-called ’fringe’ elements to physically targetting the Kashmiris, especially Kashmiri students and youth, and asking them to leave ‘India’ and go back to ‘their Kashmir’, Union Ministers are now finding it is high time to tell the fringe elements that ‘Kashmiris’ are also ‘Indians’ and should be treated as such. Physical attacks on Kashmiri students in Rajasthan and issuing of threat notices to Kashmiris in Uttar Pradesh, asking them to leave ‘India’ and go back to ‘their’ Kashmir, left those...