Dissidence, Transfers & Protests
UPHEAVAL BREWING IN STATES
New Delhi, June 01 : It’s been a week of rumbling, tumbling and churning across the nation. Be it internal dissidence against Chief Ministers, confrontation over unilateral transfers of bureaucrats, arrest of popular leaders, or people’s protest against petrol price hike, States are having their respective share of upheavals. For starters, Chief Ministers, Narendra Modi of Gujarat and Naveen Patnaik of Odisha face the threat of coming under siege like their counterpart DV Sadananad Gowda in Karnataka. On the other hand, CMs of Goa and Delhi are up in arms against the Union Home Ministry for transferring IAS and IPS officers without prior consultation. Further, in Andhra Pradesh, YSR Congress leader Jaganmohan Reddy’s arrest before crucial byelections is brewing unrest both in the State and Congress headquarters. And to top it all, the nationwide strike called by the Opposition against petrol price hike on Thursday last has earned the UPA government people’s and allies ire, both minimal and vociferous. Where is the nation heading, is the big question.
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While BJP’s B S Yedduyruppa, facing corruption charges may have unwittingly provided an answer on Wednesday last, by asking supporters to prepare for “mid-term polls”, both Assembly and Lok Sabha in six months, all affected need to put their house in order. Modi for one, can ill-afford rebellion in this election year. His colleagues and former Chief Ministers Keshubhai Patel and Suresh Mehta have sounded the bugle, after Modi successfully got his bête noire Sanjay Joshi removed from the party’s National Executive. On Wednesday last, hosting dissident leaders at his residence in Gandhinagar Patel launched an oust Modi campaign. “Mini emergency in the State” and “despotic leadership” is now the war cry, which Modi cannot ignore, even if earlier attempts by Patel failed in the past.
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Odisha BJD Simmering
Likewise, in Odisha the fear of a ‘revolt’ forced BJD President Patnaik to cut-short his trip to the UK. On Tuesday last, the ‘second power centre’ in the State, Pyarimohan Mohapatra, a Rajya Sabha member and close confidant of Patnaik hosted 33 MLAs and three ministers at his residence, triggering talk of rebellion and destabilisation of Patnaik’s 12-year rule. However, the division appears to have been put on hold for now. Though Mohapatra has rubbished reports of his wanting to become CM, he doesn’t rule out a split in BJD in future. Patnaik will need to pay heed to his grouse i.e. ministers and MLAs were being ignored by the Government and it was difficult to lead teams in their constituencies. Will the CM reign in the bureaucracy as per Mohapatra’s demand before it’s too late?
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Goa, Delhi Vs Centre
Talking of the bureaucracy, the Centre is embroiled in a controversy over the transfers it has made in Goa and Delhi. A livid Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has asked Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to apologise for “unilaterally” appointing IPS officers in Goa. Besides, the Ministry was issuing renewal order of officers, who were already posted in Goa without consulting the BJP Government. On Wednesday last, Parrikar, went a step further—he will neither give any postings nor accommodation to the new officers. His argument: “if they (Ministry) can relieve an officer without our sanction let them give the officer a posting”! However, in Delhi an upset Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, cannot take an aggressive posture. On Tuesday last, she could only rush to the Home Ministry following a transfer of 27 officers, “without consultation.” The transfers according to her shall put brakes on projects that are critical for the Assembly polls in 2013. Will this cut ice with the Home Ministry which insists that all transfers and postings are done as per set norms and tenure policy of bureaucrats?
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Andhra On Edge
Andhra Pradesh is a cause of worry for the Congress. The arrest of YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy so close to the impending byelections in 18 Assembly constituencies and one Lok Sabha seat in Nellore on June 12 may just backfire. With some MLAs and Ministers openly speaking out against Jagan’s arrest, a worried Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, called a meeting of his Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday last to ascertain whether party workers in districts were going to switch over to the other side. Reports emanating suggest that in West and East Godavri, Visakhapatnam and Krishna districts, Reddy community leaders have already crossed over. In fact, Jagan’s mother Y S Vijaya, on a padayatra and campaigning along with other family members’ could well touch an emotional chord with the electorate. Slowly, hopes of the Congress gaining from the young icon’s absence are getting blurred. Less than a fortnight for the polls seems a long wait.
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Mixed Response In States
Protest against the petrol price hike evoked a mixed response in States. While the sponsors of the 12-hour Bharat bandh, the NDA and Left parties would like to term it as success, the Centre is relieved as it didn’t have the devastating affect feared. Iits coalition partner, the DMK in Tamil Nadu took back its veiled threat of pulling out of the UPA government because of the hike. At a rally to protest the same, the DMK patriarch Karunanidhi stated he wouldn’t rock the boat and will remain in alliance “with bitterness”. Thus, the State gave a lukewarm response and so did Kerala to the call. However, incidents of stone-pelting, road blockades, buses set on fire and some trains stopped were reported from Opposition States of UP, Bihar, Gujarat etc. Normal life was affected, but will it be able to put the pressure on the Centre to ease the people’s burden?
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Kashmir, Kolkata Surprises
Kashmir and Kolkata threw up pleasant surprises. Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mamata Bannerjee respectively did something unusual. On Wednesday last, Abdullah held a special Cabinet meeting near the Line of Control, at Tangdhar, 180-km from Srinagar. The village has a history of being at the receiving end of Pakistani shells and his visit was hailed by the people. Omar heard their woes, promised “peace and prosperity” in LoC areas and a grant of Rs two crore. Perhaps, he has taken a cue from grandfather Late Sheikh Abdullah, who used to hold his Cabinet meetings at district headquarters. Likewise, Mamata stumped Kolkatans. Not only was she part of the victory celebrations of Shahrukh Khan’s KKR team at the Eden Garden but chose to play cheerleader, commentator, choir-leader, crowd controller in fact master of ceremonies on Tuesday last. An avatar no one had seen. Though some felt she was unfairly cashing in on the team’s bonhomie, many could argue that she was finally experiencing the ‘city of joy’. —INFA
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