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Mainstream, VOL LI No 25, June 8, 2013

Cricket Scene, By-poll Outcome, NCTC


Sunday 9 June 2013, by SC

The country’s cricket scene has turned murkier than what it was presumed to be when the IPL spot-fixing scandal first hit the headlines.

The clean-up operation in the BCCI turned out to be a sham: at the organisation’s emergency Working Committee meeting at Chennai on June 2 the prior resignations of two leading BCCI Board members—Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke (its Treasurer)—and that of IPL Commissioner Rajeev Shukla had virtually no impact on BCCI President N. Srinivasan who refused to step down from his post as head of the body.

Instead of resigning from the office of the BCCI President, Srinivasan reached an “interim arrange-ment” as spelt out by The Times of India: he (Srinivasan) “will temporarily ‘step aside’ until a BCCI probe into his son-in-law’s dubious dealings submits its report. In the meantime, Jagmohan Dalmiya, a man supported by Srinivasan, will take over the day-to-day affairs of the board, leaving room for suspicion that the latter could pull strings from behind.”

This move has been unequivocally decried by all cricket-lovers across the nation.

Beyond the cricket scenario the political situation has become more complex with the announcement of the results of by-elections for four Lok Sabha and six Assembly seats in five States, and the meeting of State Chief Ministers on internal security failing to reach a consensus on a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). Both the outcome of the Lok Sabha and Assembly by-polls and the CMs’ meet on June 5 came as a blow to the Congress running the UPA II coalition government at the Centre. And what is striking, Narendra Modi has begun to loom large on the national horizon as never before.

In Gujarat where by-elections were held in six constituencies (two Lok Sabha seats—Porbandar and Sabarkantha—and four Assembly seats—Dhoraji, Morva Hadaf, Jetpur and Limbadi), the BJP made a clean sweep, its candidates winning by convincing margins (from over 71,000 to 1.34 lakh votes in the Lok Sabha seats and 52,910 to 11,497 votes in the Assembly seats) even though all the constituencies were previously held by the Congress. This remarkable success is being attributed to State CM Narendra Modi as an indication of his persisting popularity in Gujarat that will boost his image at the BJP National Executive meet being held in Goa and could catapult him to the position of the chief campaigner for the 2014 elections at the national level.

As for Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, his JD(U)’s inability to wrest the Maharajganj Lok Sabha seat from the RJD, which has increased its victory margin from 2500 to 1.37 lakh, has put the JD(U) stalwart on a sticky wicket, exposed chinks in his ‘development’ agenda which was over-publicised by a pliant media, and sent a warning signal which he may choose to ignore at his peril.

In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress retained the Howrah Lok Sabha seat with a reduced margin of 27,000; even though the ruling party in the State retained its 2009 vote-share, it could not prevent its adversary, the CPM, from gaining four per cent more votes.

In Maharashtra, the Congress retained the Yavatmal Assembly constituency by defeating the BJP by 15,233 votes—this was the sole Congress victory in the by-polls; while in UP, the ruling SP retained the Handia Assembly seat by defeating the BSP by over 26,000 votes.

The CMs’ meet on internal security—convened in the wake of the deadly Maoist operation in the Sukma region in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar—found most CMs from the non-Congress States opposing the NCTC on the ground that it would upset the country’s federal structure. This provoked Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, a surprise invitee at the meet, to warn that with no effective counter-terrorism mechanism in place the country would have to “pay the price from time to time”. He also hit out at Narendra Modi saying the Gujarat CMˆs idea of fighting terror was probably meant to bring back such controversial anti-terror laws as POTA and TADA.

No doubt politics continues to hold sway even in such matters and the political confrontation between the ruling coalition and Opposition parties, notably the BJP, shows no signs of lessening. This confrontation is likely to intensify as we approach the 2014 elections.

June 6 S.C.

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