“Tackling inflation is not like preparing instant noodles”. BJP spokespersons are now giving such defensive answers having to face flak for price rise. It reminds eerily of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s plea that he doesn’t have any magic wand to solve all the problems. Just three weeks in office, Modi sarkar is probably realizing that it is much easier to coin catchy slogans to mobilize support than bringing fundamental changes in the economy.
Far away from actual governance focus today was entirely on the battle between Modi sarkar and UPA appointed governors in different states. Reports suggest that Union home secretary Anil Goswami was entrusted to call seven governors and suggest them to quit voluntarily. These seven governors are currently serving in the state of West Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tripura. Some of the notable names among them are former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, former NSA M K Narayanan and Congress veteran Margaret Alva.
Already Uttar Pradesh governor BL Joshi has accepted the “suggestion” and resigned. Sources indicate that couple more including MK Narayanan may follow suit by tomorrow. But not all governors are willing to budge to the pressure tactics of Modi sarkar. They are particularly emboldened by the Supreme Court judgment of 2010 which says that governor can’t be removed in an arbitrary way or just because of ideological differences. However, there is a difference of opinion between constitutional experts regarding whether central government is entitled to summarily sack all these governors.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has upped the ante by saying he would have resigned in the same position. According to Subramanian Swamy, these people got their job only for being part of “Sonia Gandhi’s durbar”. Expectedly Congress and other opposition parties are crying foul. According to Sandeep Dikshit of Congress it is an unethical and illegal move. He has also questioned the authority of home secretary to call up these governors.
However Congress can’t take any high moral ground as it terminated the service of 4 NDA appointed governors in 2004. BJP believes this reshuffle is a mere continuity of tradition. But how long can India afford this politics of competitive vendetta is something we all have to think about.
Indian economy which showed a brief promise of resurgence is again threatening to go downhill. This is mainly due to apprehension of poor monsoon and escalating price of crude oil due to civil war in Iraq. Government is aware that increase in food prices can quickly lead to resentment against Modi sarkar.
A day after WPI inflation data shocked policy makers, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called an emergency meeting to tackle the problem. The meeting was attended by other senior ministers like Nirmala Sitharaman and RamVilas Paswan. Jaitley in his blog earlier pointed out that hoarding of stocks is one of the reasons for prices to go up. Finance Minister said after the meeting that they are taking steps to ensure that there is no shortfall in food items. He assured the nation that government will import cereals, edible oils and pulses if necessary. Huge amount of rice has already been sent to the states. Jaitley said that inflation is primarily due to price increase in 4-5 commodities.
States have been instructed to ensure that farmers can directly sell fruits and vegetables to the market rather than routing it through middlemen. Finance Minister hopes that states will take active role in cracking down on hoarders, who jack up prices by creating artificial shortfall. Government has also increased minimum export price on onions and potatoes to discourage foreign produce.
But all these steps may still prove to be inadequate and will probably give Modi baiters a major issue to attack the government in the coming days.
Indians in Iraq:
One major reason why economic condition is unlikely to improve anytime soon is the escalating violence in Iraq. The country is virtually a warzone with ISIS insurgents taking over major cities causing death and destruction in the process. Nearly 100 Indians are currently stranded in Iraq. Among them 50 nurses from Kerala are currently stranded in Tikrit, which is already under ISIS control. Ministry of External Affairs has set up a control room to monitor the situation and facilitate speedy return of Indians. Indian government is also working with state government of Kerala to keep a close watch at the unfolding crisis.
With a clear eye on the Delhi Assembly elections, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari today announced that battery-powered rickshaws will not be taken off Delhi’s roads. Earlier, UPA government had amended law to ensure these rickshaws stop plying.
Modi sarkar is clearly taking a divergent view in this issue with Gadkari announcing that E-rickshaws with motor up to 650 watt will be reckoned as non-motorised vehicles. Meenakshi Lekhi said that these rickshaws provide employment to poor women. This move has evoked mixed response. E-Rickshaw drivers are very happy but many fear it will continue to clog Delhi’s roads in the future.
CBI officers today visited the location where former Union Minister Gopinath Munde had met with the fatal accident. They have registered a case in this matter. Sources indicate that CBI has already collected all information from the Delhi police officials who initially probed the accident.
Pressure is now mounting on Narendra Modi to take action against Union Minister Nihalchand whose name has cropped up in a rape incident. Chairman of National Commission for Women Mamta Sharma has decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister seeking ouster of this tainted minister. Nihalchand along with 16 others have been accused of sexually exploiting a married woman three years back. The lower court however found no merit in the case, but the upper court has issued notice to all the accused. Congress is also attacking Modi for not sticking to his pledge of zero tolerance in cases of violence against women.
In a fresh embarrassment to Modi sarkar, I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar’s son is now under legal scrutiny. Apporva Javadekar may find himself in trouble in the discretionary quota flat allotment scam. Maharashtra government today told the High Court that they will not withdraw FIRs against people who had surrendered the flats obtained from discretionary quota. This is in contrast to their earlier stance.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…