Sunday, June 6, 2021

Terrorism & Naxal Threat

 Centre warns the states

It has been yet another week of high alerts. This time all States have been warned on three fronts: cross-border terrorism, home-grown naxal threat and insurgency in the North-East. The alert was sounded at the Chief Ministers conference on internal security held in the Union Capital on Monday last. While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cautioned against new Pakistani terror attacks on the basis of “credible information”, Home Minister Chidambaram focused on a twin strategy to counter the growing Naxal threat. He asked the CMs to reclaim territory the under Naxals with police action and then develop the area to alienate them. Terming insurgency in the North East as a “grave threat,” he proposed to draw up State-specific strategies to deal with the insurgent groups. He, however, sought that concerned State Governments   say no to talks with the groups unless they lay down arms and offer to surrender.  

On their part, the Chief Ministers were unanimous about one thing: they were willing to fight the war provided the Centre gave them the required resources. Funds were urgently needed for modernizing and expansion of police forces, which were frightfully understaffed and lacked modern security infrastructure. Other suggestions made included: the Centre procure weapons on behalf of the States instead of giving them cash, augment training capacity for counter-terrorism and jungle warfare, set up regional intelligence centres to train State personnel and improve upon the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy to make it more attractive. The suggestions were incorporated in the Centre’s 14-point agenda for further deliberations and action as “India could not lower its guard.” Unfortunately the States had become lax on internal security, when the threats had not reduced and had, in fact, grown.      

Era Ends In Darjeeling

Soon it will be the end of an era in the Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal. The autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, formed in August 1988 is to be abolished and replaced by another administrative set up, as per a tripartite understanding last week between the Centre, the State government and the belligerent Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which has successfully revived the agitation for a separate State of Gorkhaland. Besides, the parties agreed to drop the earlier proposal of a Hill Council under the Sixth Schedule, which would have given special status to some areas in terms of administrative and functional autonomy. Clearly, both the DGHC and the Gorkha National Liberation Front and its chairman Subhas Ghisingh, who first sounded the bugle of Gorkhaland in the 80’s will be passé. How long will this peace deal last with the GJM is anybody’s guess. The GJM is already running a parallel administration of its own in Darjeeling, with a separate police force of local volunteers. It recently ordered all vehicle owners to have Gorkhaland tags and painted Gorkhaland on all Government buildings.   


BSP Headache  In Haryana

All is not hunky dory for Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and his poll plans, thanks to Mayawati and her BSP. While he has been trying to impress upon the Congress High Command to advance the Assembly polls due early next year, in view of the drought and rising prices, the latter is worried about the BSP’s three-fold increase in vote share in the recent Lok Sabha election, even though it did not pick up any seat. The BSP cornered 15.74 per cent of votes, as against 4.98 % in 2004 and came third after the Indian National Lok Dal. In six of the 10 seats, it polled over a lakh of votes and in the remaining 50,000, much to much for Congress comfort. The vote share could well translate into seats as margins are thinner in Assembly polls. Worse, the BSP’s tie-up with former strongman Bhajan Lal’s Haryana Janhit Congress, is adding to the Congress’ woes coupled with dissidence in the State unit. Will it take the gamble?  

BJP’s Unending Woes

From Rajasthan to Shimla, the BJP’s woes of internal bickerings seem never-ending. In the midst of a see-saw battle with former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over following the party diktat, the BJP has now expelled its senior leader and Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh from the party. This happened on Wednesday last, day one of its three-day ‘Chintan Baithak” in Shimla. Singh was unceremoniously sacked over the phone, following the release of his book, Jinnah—India, Partition, Independence. Earlier, the party dissociated itself from the book as it did not agree with its portrayal of Sardar Patel and Singh’s defence of Jinnah. Raje, for her part, was asked to step down as the leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, following the debacle in the recent Lok Sabha poll. Raje’s initial reaction was a no, but she agreed when the Parliamentary Board endorsed President Rajnath Singh’s diktat. Raje hasn’t spelt out when she would step down. Meanwhile, Narendra Modi has banned Singh’s book in Gujarat. BJP supporters may well be in for more surprises. 

TN Boycotts Poll Boycott Call

Tamil Nadu voters said a big no to a call by the major opposition parties for mass boycott of the Assembly bye-elections to five constituencies held on Tuesday last. Polling ranged from between 59 and 77 per cent, according to the chief electoral officer, much to the discomfort of Jayalalitha’s AIADMK and the PMK and MDMK, which had given the call. The opposition parties had alleged that money and muscle power had been used by the ruling DMK in the Lok Sabha poll and demanded a return to the ballot paper till doubts cast on electronic voting machines were cleared. However, these had been cleared soon after the polls, in which the said parties had got a drubbing. If nothing else, the opposition this time has ensured the DMK-Congress combine another victory. 

Satara Shows The Way

Promises are meant to be kept, goes the saying. And, so much the better if one can earn by keeping them. On 15 August, 485 couples in Satara district of Maharashtra earned Rs 5,000 each by keeping their promise of putting babydom on hold. They were signatories to a Honeymoon Package wherein they vowed to defer having babies for two years after marriage. Couples who opted to wait a third year would earn Rs 7,500. The package is a brainchild of the district health officials who realized that dangling a carrot was better than wielding the stick to curb population growth. Armed with a corpus of Rs 6 crore from the National Rural Health Mission in 2007, they launched this novel voluntary scheme. This year alone cheques will be handed to another 2,366 couples as and when they fulfil their two-year promise. Thanks to this unusual ‘family planning’ scheme, not just the couples, but the country too shall reap its benefit with three cheers for the carrots!