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Mainstream, VOL XLIX No 33, August 6, 2011

No End to Political Drama


Wednesday 10 August 2011, by SC

While there has indeed been a temporary relief in the US debt crisis with President Obama and Congressional leaders of both parties—the Republicans and Democrats—disclosing late on July 31 that they had agreed to cut trillions of dollars in federal spending over the next decade and thus pave the way for enhancing the government’s borrowing limit, in India there seems to be no end to the political drama in both the Capital or the States.

At the moment all eyes are riveted to Bengaluru as far as the States are concerned. With the Karnataka Lokayukta having directly indicted the State CM, B.S. Yeddyurappa, on several counts capped by the illegal mining scam, there was no way the BJP could have allowed BSY to continue in the post without losing face. Since Parliament’s monsoon session was fast approaching, the BJP’s national leadership was racing against time to compel the CM to tender his resignation from the office of the head of the State Government before the resumption of the session of both Houses on August 1. Yeddy was in no mood to oblige but he had to eventually give in to the intense cajoling and pressure. However, even while doing so he went on dragging his feet insisting that his protege be made the new CM. (Finally he has had his way in this respect and his nominee, Sadananda Gowda, has won the contest defeating his rival, Jagdish Shettar, in a secret vote even as the Reddy brothers shifted loyalty and backed Shettar.) He also resorted to a show of strength—walking with his supporters in the State Assembly to formally hand over his letter of resignation to Governor H.R. Bharadwaj with whom he has had an uneasy relationship from the very beginning.

But now it is more than clear that BSY stepped down kicking and screaming. And subsequently the former CM declared that he would be returning as the leader of the State Legislature Party within six months. This was after he pleaded with the Karnataka High Court to quash the Lokayukta’s report. On the other hand the Governor has accepted the report and sanctioned Yeddyi’s prosecution. These dramatic developments on both sides cannot conceal the fact that the BJP leaders’ protestations of fighting corruption are a mere eye-wash while also exposing their feet of clay.

Meanwhile Parliament’s monsoon session has begun on a tumultous note as expected with the Opposition, plimarily the BJP, closing in on the PM following the latter’s clarification on the 2G spectrum scam. The PMO’s statement on July 31 that it was not true that the PM had knowingly looked the other way when irregularities with the 2G allocations were brought to his notice offered fresh ammunition to the Opposition against Dr Manmohan Singh with the BJP leaders asserting that it showed the PM was all along aware of the developments related to the licences. The furore in both Houses of Parliament on this issue led to their adjournment on the first day, that is, August 1.

The following day, on August 2, the furore continued—this time on the new revelations regarding the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the Commonwealth Games scam wherein the CAG is learnt to have questioned the PMO giving Suresh Kalmadi the reins of the Games’ Organising Committee. Side by side the government and Opposition clashed when the latter sought to condemn the government’s handling of price rise through a motion that entailed voting at the end of the discussion. (The two sides ultimately reached some agreement and a discussion on price rise and inflation did take place in the Lok Sabha on August 3; however, the BJP had reached a compromise not to censure the govenment—so the whole exercise appeared to be just for the sake of the cameras!) Here too there was quite a touch of drama.

In the meantime civil society leader Anna Hazare is adamant on resuming his hunger strike at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar from August 16 demanding a strong and effective Lokpal Bill since its provisions have been largely diluted by the government hellbent on shielding politicians and officers in high places accused of graft and other manifestations of corruption. The stage is thus set for high drama in this area too.

In the midst of such events the nation has had little time to befittingly observe the 150th anniversary of that doyen of modern chemistry in India, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray. He was born on August 2, 1861 and happened to be just three months younger to Rabindranath Tagore.

Acharya Ray was a teacher par excellence but he showed his entrepreneorial skills by establishing the Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals as well.

However, our public figures and politicians have neither the aptitude nor the inclination to remember such path-breaking pioneers.

August 3 S.C.

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