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By Sapan Kapoor

Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government’s tussle with LG Najeeb Jung over who should wield the power to rule Delhi seems to be never ending. For the Delhi government on Friday lashed out at the LG for allegedly “intimidating” senior officers and “shunting out an honest bureaucrat fighting against graft”.

While vowing to stand by its bureaucrats through thick and thin, the government has announced the setting up of a panel of three ministers so as to “protect bureaucrats from political victimisation”.

Kejriwal and Jung have been engaged in a war of words for a long time over the issue of transfer and posting of senior bureaucrats in the national capital, with both claiming the power to ‘rule the city’.

Things came to a head when Value Added Tax (VAT) Commissioner Vijay Kumar, who cracked down on organised tax evasion syndicates, was allegedly “shunted out”.

Launching a fresh salvo at the LG, the Delhi government said Jung had threatened several senior officers with dire consequences, including police action, “if they refuse to partake in the exercise of obstructing the functioning of the Delhi government,” adding that, “These officers were told to paralyse the elected AAP government by making adverse and obstructionist file notings against government decisions.”

The government also passed two resolutions against Jung on these issues.

“Why was he (VAT Commissioner Vijay Kumar) suddenly relieved by the hon’ble LG, keeping the chief minister also in the dark? This is not a transfer. This is shunting out of an officer who was fighting against corruption and against deeply entrenched vested interest,” the AAP government said in a statement.

“The cabinet is aghast to learn of these developments. This is a clear attempt to subvert the functioning of a democratically elected government which had come to power with a thumping majority.”

The government said it supported all officers and would even extend legal aid if they were pressurised by anyone. The LG, however, claimed he was simply following the orders of the Centre.

So who should be blamed for the prevailing political unrest in Delhi? That’s a good question to ponder over.

Kejriwal, a few weeks ago, suggested that LG Jung was just a puppet in the hands of PM Narendra Modi and, in fact, a good man under ‘bad political bosses’. Therefore, Kejriwal opined that removing him would serve no purpose as his successor would follow suit and the real solution was to ensure that PMO stopped interfering in the affairs of Delhi government.

However, in my opinion, this issue has more to do with BJP’s overall strategy to ensure that common man’s party is nipped in the bud, that it fails to become a serious alternative to the Congress party and major opposition at the national level to the former.

The AAP supremo seems to have a point, for the good governance model showcased during his 49-day rule apparently made his political opponents uneasy and insecure, especially the BJP. Instances of corruption came down, people stopped asking for bribes, common man’s voices and grievances were heard; or so claims Kejriwal.

He was hailed as the people’s CM. The only thing that remained the same was the pressing issue of crimes against women and children in the national capital as Delhi police was ‘unaccountable’ to the elected government of the state.

That the AAP government ‘succeeded’ in its efforts to bring the much-desired change in Delhi could also be attributed to the fact that the Centre was then ruled by a sympathetic Congress under mild, soft-spoken Manmohan Singh as compared to the Modi sarkar. Kejriwal’s regime also had an outside support of Congress MLAs. Najeeb Jung who was the Lieutenant Governor during the AAP’s 49-day stint apparently did not cross the red-line.

This is precisely why the people of Delhi handed over a thumping majority to the newbie outfit in 2014 Assembly polls; AAP comprehensively won 67 seats out of total 70, trouncing its rivals with a huge margin.

However, this time around Kejriwal (as claimed by him) found a hostile, unsympathetic Centre led by BJP’s Narendra Modi that seemed to be pulling out all the stops to impede his government’s work. Now to Kejriwal’s chagrin, he could not appoint the officials of his choice to various departments and, above all, lost control over the anti-corruption bureau in the Delhi government.

Delhi police continued to cock a snook at Kejriwal (duh).

Who should control Delhi? That is the question over which Kejriwal and Jung have been firing salvos at each other. There is, however, ambiguity over the powers of Delhi government as it is not a full-fledged state, and as per Schedule I of the Constitution continues to be a Union Territory.

States like Delhi and Puducherry enjoy a special status among Union Territories thanks to a number of amendments to the constitution. The will of Parliament prevails in other UTs. However, in the case of Delhi, its state Assembly has the right to legislate on all subjects except some such as law and order and land. In other words, AAP government’s powers are limited and hence the conflict.

However, in my opinion, this issue has more to do with BJP’s overall strategy to ensure that common man’s party is nipped in the bud, that it fails to become a serious alternative to the Congress party and major opposition at the national level to the former.

BJP’s ideological parent, the RSS, fully realising the challenges posed by AAP had warned the saffron party two years ago against the possible onslaught of the newbie while exhorting its political wing to consider Kejriwal’s outfit as a major opponent and obstacle to its road to power.

Having defeated left-leaning Congress comprehensively and reduced it to an all-time low figure in the Parliament, Narendra Modi’s BJP does not wish to cede much space to the AAP, lest it should grow stronger and big enough to counter. Attempts are being made to clip common man’s wings who saw the AAP as a ray of hope and the light at the end of the tunnel.

All right thinking Indians, therefore, must resist this attempt to hinder AAP from realising its full potential, for its idea is too precious to be allowed to fail.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Char Dham Yatra resumed on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.

Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.

Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.

As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.

Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.

Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.

Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.

Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.

Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.

Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.

Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.

The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.

To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.

Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.

The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.

Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.

The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.

When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.

"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.

"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.

Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.

On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.

Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.

Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.

The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

India-England test series will now be played next year from July 1 at Edgbaston Stadium

The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.

"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.

"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.

ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.

"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.

"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.

"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."

"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.