Saturday, May 20, 2006

Cheap vote bank politics

THE BRAINCHILD of HRD minister Arjun Singh, the proposed quota for OBCs in central institutions was frought with problems right from the outset. First he was rapped by the EC for announcing the move during an election campaign. Later came the protests from the doctors in Delhi with their counterparts in Mumbai joining them. Expectedly, the govt and police rushed quell the protests, with the police resorting to lathicharge. Termination orders were sent to the striking medicos.

As a damage-control measure, a GoM was constitued to find a 'solution' to the issue. It has sent its recommendation, favouring the govt's stand of introducing 27% quota for OBCs alongwith a rise in the no. of seats for the general category. Of course, that the GoM would not have recommended otherwise, was obvious.

The govt seems bent on having its way in the reservation issue. It has now asked military doctors to take charge of govt hospitals if the striking medicos do not return to work by Monday.

Why is the govt bent on introducing reservation based on caste? Wouldnt income-based reservation serve the nation better? That way, the poverty ratio would come down and rural areas would develop as well. This move exposes the govt in bad light, as a dictator, taking decisions without consultations with the communities concerned. Just for votes.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It smells of Godhra at Vadodara

ON MONDAY, 1st of May,insensitive civic officials brought down a durgah, believed to be more than 200 years old, at Fatehpura, on the pretext of widening a road. That triggered angry protests from the Muslim-dominated Vadodara.

Later, on the evining of 2nd, four people were killed in communal clashes. A curfew was later clamped in Vadodara and adjoining areas. Then, on that night itself, an employee of Gujarat Refineries, Rafiq Vohra, was burnt alive in his car while returning from his workplace, by an organised mob of VHP and Bajrang Dal activists. The situation seems to be developing into one that is strikingly similar to the post-Godhra situation that prevailed. Eye-witnesses have also claimed that the police did not respond, even when they were repeatedly called. Both the state officials and the police have kept mum on the incident.

I wonder what the officials were thinking when they brought down the durgah. Knowing quite well that the area was pretty sensitive and would easily fall prey to clashes, how can they explain their act? Shouldnt they have held consulatations with the communities involved before they acted?

Fortunately, the centre has warned Gujrat and asked it to keep the situation under control. Central troops have been sent to the area. Right now, Modi is at Vadodara. Let us hope that something is done to curb the violence and that Modi would act sensibly this time around.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

(P)Rice Wars!!

Its election season here in Tamil Nadu. With the absence of any major agenda, Karunanidhi of the DMK caught the people's attention by promising rice at Rs.2/kg, if voted to power. Jaya (AIADMK) responded, crying foul at K's promises, complaining that it was unimplementable due to an excessive financial burden that it would place on the state.

But rice is a pretty sensitive issue with the masses here. J's political managers must have realised that and advised her. She did a complete volte-face within two days and announced 10 kg of free rice per month.

Anyway, assuming safely that either J or K comes to power, it remains to be seen whether the respective promises would be kept. Thats pretty remote, given the losses that would be incurred by the exchequer.