Gunny Bags Crisis
STATES PUTS CENTRE ON MAT
New Delhi, May 12 : The States are up in arms against the Centre’s laid-back approach. Recovering from the recent rap over the NCTC row, it has now had to face their ire over a simple thing, jute gunny bags. On Wednesday last, the treasury benches in the Lok Sabha were accosted by a united Opposition over the shortage of these bags to farmers for storage and transportation of wheat.
MPs, particularly from Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh shared their anguish saying that a large quantity of the new season wheat procured by Government agencies, in the States has been left unpacked in the open, which may lead to spoilage. While the Centre has admitted to the shortage this year, its reason tragically smacks of sheer callousness. The problem, it sought to justify has arisen because of a “record procurement of wheat in MP and UP”. This, unfortunately will not go down well with the farmers, for instead of congratulating them for the record production, the Government seems to hold them guilty! The problem obviously lies elsewhere– wrong and bad planning. To keep its promise of providing the requisite quantity of bags, the Government has decided to import 400,000 gunny bags from Bangladesh to solve the problem before monsoon. Will it or will the farmers face another crisis?
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Maoists’ Eye South India
Three southern States are in deep trouble. Reports emanating from Delhi suggest that Maoists are spreading their wings in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The Union Home Ministry on Wednesday, shared its concern with the States stating that the CPI (Maoists), under their ‘South West Regional Bureau’ were busy planning to link the Western Ghats to the Eastern Ghats. Going beyond their traditional stronghold, the Maoists want to create a base on the border of Karnataka and Kerala and establish a ‘forest route’ between these two. A worried Centre has swung into action. It has promptly alerted the three States, urging them to take ‘preventive and pre-emptive measures’ to stall the impending onslaught. The Reds are obviously eyeing new territories as security operations in the seven States they have a presence in, including Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, are getting difficult to handle, despite their having a success rate in kidnappings. South should pay heed as a stitch in time saves nine.
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Jharkhand has rung warning bells for politicians. They had better think twice before setting afoot on a helicopter. On Wednesday last, Chief Minister Arjun Munda had a miraculous escape when his copter crash-landed at Ranchi airport following a technical problem. Munda, his wife and two pilots are recovering in hospital. The CM has been lucky like some others in the past, including Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan who escaped a crash in 2004 in Gujarat, former Chief Minister of Arunachal P K Thungon, former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (September 2006) and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot (2001). However, lady luck was not on the side of some others who died in crashes including Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh YS Rajasekhara Reddy and Dorjee Khandu, in September 2009 and May last respectively, Lok Sabha Speaker GMC Balyogi, March 2002, Haryana Ministers of Power O P Jindal and Agriculture Surendra Singh, March 2005. While the Director General of Civil Aviation has ordered an inquiry into the Ranchi incident, it will do one better if it has a re-look at its safety guidelines and ensure strict adherence.
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Bengal On US Map
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had a rare political encounter early this week. None other than US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a visit in Kolkata. Notwithstanding the criticism of having a poor governance record, the TMC supremo is elated. She claims to have pocketed “a promise” from America that it was selecting the State as its “partner” for investment. However, her critics would take this with a pinch of salt because while Clinton apprised the media that issues such as FDI in retail and the Teesta treaty were on the agenda, Didi claimed none came up. In fact, she may have over-stretched with her claim that Hillary praised her government’s “passion for work” and was happy at the change the State had witnessed after three decades. While only Clinton can confirm this, Mamata is hoping she has been able to sell Bengal as a “major destination for cultural tourism.” Will Hillary keep her word and speak to Chicago Mayor for joint programmes between the two film industries?
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Bihar Vs Karnataka
Bihar is gravely upset with Karnataka. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has taken up cudgels with his counterpart Sadanand Gowda, objecting to the way in which Karnataka police led an operation to arrest Indian Mujahideen operative, a lecturer, Kafeel Akthar. What is worse, Nitish insists that his Government should have been kept in the loop before making the arrest. On its part, the southern State defended itself by saying that this was “an exceptional situation” and the information could be given later. However, this does not cut much ice with Bihar, as there is an unwritten code in such operations that the information should be shared between the departments. The question before Nitish is how far can he take his grouse with Karnataka, as is a principal opponent of NCTC as it would cause friction amongst States. Perhaps, his best option is to lodge a complaint with the Centre. Will it suffice?
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UP, Delhi Homes Controversy
A ‘retirement home’ in Uttar Pradesh and a ‘memorial’ in Delhi can provide a political version of India’s ‘ghar ghar ki kahani’ (story of every home). Former Chief Minister of UP Mayawati has spent a whopping Rs 86 crore of public money on renovating her bungalow in Lucknow. Entitled to a house in 1996, Mayawati started renovating it in 2007, when she became CM. By 2012, she was able to treat herself at least to a palatial home in five acres of prime land having a six-bedroom main house and a 14-bedroom guest house. In Delhi, Speaker Meira Kumar has got a relief of Rs 1.98 crore from the Centre for “use” of a bungalow, which she claims to have vacated in 2006. However, Ministry records show her as an occupant till June 2011. Besides, the Bungalow in question has a board “Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial”, which the Ministry denies is not. Can we be spared all this controversy?
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