After using ‘one rank one pension’ as a trump card during the LS polls, has the Modi regime developed cold feet? Or is it being wise in thinking through the financial implications (Rs 10,000 crore more every year)? Either way, it showed little political sagacity in breaking up the pensioners protest on I-Day eve. Public outrage and a joint letter by 10 ex-chiefs of staff led to Delhi police publicly apologising for their heavyhandedness. But the elephant is still...well...on the road.
PM Modi has always been a “whiz with numbers” but strangely, twice in the last week, he came up short. In his I-Day speech he waxed eloquent on 20 lakh consumers giving up LPG subsidy, but the official number is still just 3 lakh (1,91,632 Indane; 89,491 HP; and 40,212 Bharat Gas consumers)—just 0.2 per cent of India’s 16 crore LPG connections. Meanwhile, in poll-bound Bihar, to the Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package he announced, Modi added Rs 40,000 cr of unspent money in his tweet!
In an scene right out of the pages of Reader’s Digest, a parrot is in jail in Chandrapur district for allegedly “hurling obscenities” at 85-year-old Janabai Sakharkar. She accused son Suresh, with whom she’s has a running property dispute, of teaching pet parrot Hariyal to shower abuses at her whenever she passed by his house. The green bird apparently clammed up at the station but the khaki clad ones weren’t having any of it.
Has Arvind Kejriwal mastered the art of working around the SC ban on photographs of all but the president, PM and the CJI in public advertisements? For months, the Delhi CM had taken out expensive hoardings and TV ads on the ‘achhe din’ that have befallen the capital thanks to his government till the SC put a stop to it. Now, on August 15, he had children taking in the state I-Day parade hold up placards spelling out his name in the stands. After the predictable photo tweet and social backlash, the AAP released pictures of previous year celebrations where CM Sheila Dikshit and L-G Najeeb Jung’s names had been similarly formed. But the megalomania tag isn’t going away so easy.
For years, the National Herald case—allegedly reeking of vast amounts of laundered money—kept Swamy & friends busy. But now we hear the Enforcement Directorate (under the Union finance ministry) has shut the preliminary inquiry against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, citing lack of evidence. Conspiracy theorists see the move as a BJP bid to buy the Congress’s silence and ensure smooth passage for the controversial GST bill. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, on his part, swiftly shot off two letters to the PM, accusing current ED director Rajiv Katoch of not pursuing the case owing to his ties with Congress leader Digvijay Singh. Swamy has a case filed before a Delhi court alleging cheating and misappropriation of Rs 2,000 crore by the mother-son duo in the acquisition of the now-defunct National Herald newspaper through their organisation, Young Indian.
Twice every decade the issue of a separate time zone for Assam (and the Northeast) crops up. The UPA set up a panel to examine the issue but ‘national interests’ tied that one up. Now CM Tarun Gogoi’s come out and said it, setting the clock ahead by an hour—as the tea gardens do —will increase productivity (a factor that has been blindingly obvious for decades). Now it’s up to the NDA sarkar—which is not low on nationalism—to take the path not taken. The demand for North Eastern Standard Time (NEST) is on again.
On paper, Bangalore is the cleanest state capital in India. But try telling that to its citizens who will vote with their feet and noses in the civic body polls due on August 22. For years, the ominous sounding BBMP (under BJP rule now) has failed to manage civic waste disposal, with mountains of garbage a common sight. This time, artistes installed crocodiles and anacondas in cavernous potholes to draw media attention, and there’s even been a ‘No road, no vote’ campaign on social media.