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Maharashtra govt faces criticism over Hema Malini getting plot at cheaper rate

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Mumbai: The allotment of a prime plot worth crores of rupees at a throwaway price to BJP MP Hema Malini has stoked a row with the opposition Congress and NCP on Friday accusing the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance of adopting ‘dual standards’.

MP and state Congress President Ashok Chavan criticised the allotment to the former Bollywood ‘dream girl’ Hema Malini, an MP from Mathura.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) says one thing but does something else — this is double standards,

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state spokesperson Nawab Malik also questioned what he termed as “an improper decision on the part of the government”.

They are claiming it to be a case of re-allotment. How can there be re-allotment on an open plot which is reserved for a garden or playground?” Malik said, demanding that the allotment should be cancelled forthwith.

Chavan pointed out that the government had promised to draft a new policy on the issue of allotting government plots, which directly affect the state exchequer.

But, in the case of their party MP the process laid down has been by-passed,

Malik said the government is going back on its own policy of taking back reserved plots allotted to various groups or organisations earlier, but now it has gone ahead and given a prime piece of open land reserved for a garden to Hema Malini.

However, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse (BJP), who had sanctioned the allotment last month, said in Pune that the plot given to Hema was only after following rules and regulations.

There is nothing irregular about the allotment and all rules have been followed,” Khadse told media-persons about the 2000-sq.mt. land in Andheri west.

The matter was exposed after an RTI activist Anil Galgali secured documents pertaining to the allotment to Hema Malini from the Mumbai Suburban District Collector.

According to the RTI documents, not only did Hema Malini get the new plot worth several crores of rupees for a paltry Rs.70,000, but this is the second time she has been allotted a prime plot in the fashionable western suburbs.

Earlier, in 1997 the (then) Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government had given her a plot of land, but she could not develop it due to CRZ issues, and the plot remains in her possession — which is against the norms, Galgali said.

In April 1997, she got the plot for Rs.10 lakhs but since it fell partly under CRZ, she never developed it, nor she raised 25 percent of the project cost yet continues to retain that plot, he pointed out.

In the new allotment, the Hema Malini Dance Academy’s cultural complex project is expected to cost around Rs.18.49 crore for which she is yet to submit proof of 25 percent funds availability and resources to raise the balance 75 percent.

(Inputs from IANS)

(Picture Courtesy: www.thehindu.com)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)