BJP fails to polarise voters, bites dust in Kairana

Lalit Shastri

New Delhi: Blasting all talk of a “still continuing Modi wave” and digging into the saffron clad UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s 2017 mandate, Tabassum Hasan, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate, has defeated Mriganka Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party to win the Kairana Parliamentary seat in Uttar Pradesh now ruled by the BJP.

Tabassum was supported by Congress and Samajwadi Party. She also claimed support of Bahujan Samaj Party.

BJP’s defeat in Kairana, should be an eye opener for the ruling BJP which wants to return to power at the Centre by winning the 2019 general election to Parliament.

Tabassum’s victory shows that the Muslim and Hindu votes are no longer polarised on religious lines and are now getting consolidated against the BJP.

In the backdrop is also Sanjiv Balyan a jat leader and BJP and MP from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, who held the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation portfolios, and was dropped from the Modi Council of Ministers in September 2017. In his place, Satyapal Singh, Member of Parliament from Baghpat in UP and also a representative of the Jat community, was inducted as Minister of State and given the portfolio for Human Resource Development. He has earlier served as Police Commissioner of Mumbai.

Balyan is a mass leader and his popularity can be gauged from the fact that he had won the Muzaffarnagar seat by defeating Kadir Rana of the Bahujan Samaj Party by a margin of more than four 400, 000 votes in the 2014 general election. During that election, the BJP had also managed to polarise votes between the Muslims and Hindus and as a result Balyan’s victory margin had swelled.

The jats in Uttar Pradesh that were earlier with the BJP have distanced from that party after Balyan was dropped from the Union Council of Ministers. They have not been able to digest his exit from the union ministry as it was only to make way for a former cop, who lacks a mass base.

The outcome of the election for the Kairana parliamentary seat in favour of the RLD, which is primarily a party that draws strength from the jat community shows that the electorate in UP is no longer polarised on religious lines.

When the trends were coming in for all the by-elections held across several States indicating that the BJP was on a downward slide, Union Home Minister and BJP strongman from Uttar Pradesh Rajnath Singh told media-persons in Bhopal earlier today (31 May 2018) that for his party that’s aiming for a big leap, it’s a matter of two steps backward. He borrowed this defence from Vladimir Lenin’s famous book “One step forward and two steps back”, obviously without knowing that Lenin had advocated the two steps back theory when his Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was in crisis as a result of its division into the Bolshevik (majority) and Menshevik (minority) units in 1903. The two step back was a considered policy. From the stand taken by Rajnath Singh, question arises, did the BJP opt for defeat in Kairana to take a big leap in 2019?

South Delhi godown gutted in fire

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: A five story godown in a congested residential area of Malviya Nagar- Khirki Extension in south Delhi on Tuesday (29 May 2018) evening caught fire around 5 pm and the contraption soon turned into a towering inferno. The smoke billowing from the spot could be seen across a large area.

The fire started with an accidental fire that set ablaze a truck parked near the godown which was being used for storing rubber. The godown, which has been completely gutted, was neither licensed nor was it following the fire safety norms.

A chemical factory near the godown also caught fire and a couple of houses were damaged.

The morning after…An IAF Mi-17 was used the next morning to douse the godown fire

There was delay and valuable time was lost in controlling the fire. Fire tenders began rushing to the spot about an hour after the godown was ablaze. Heavy vehicular traffic during the rush hour near Saket Mall and Max Hospital blocked the movement of fire tenders that were rushed to combat the fire.

Maoists hack to death villager in Chattisgarh

Lalit Shastri

Sukma (Chattisgarh): Maoists today ( 27 May 2018) hacked to death a 45-year-old villager in his field near Punpalli village under Dornapal police station in Sukma district.

According to available information, a group of Maoists, also called the Naxalites, reached the victim, Vanjami Sukda, when he was at his farm along a hill, about 3 kms from Punpalli, and slit his throat killing him on the spot. The Maoists killed Sukda accusing him of acting as a police informer.

In the backdrop of what happened today in a Sukma village are some related developments in the past. For example, former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary Nirmala Buch, was appointed chairperson of a high-powered Standing Committee set up by the Chhattisgarh government to review all cases that were in the prosecution or investigation stage, including those of Maoists, following the release of the Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon a few years ago.

Ms. Buch had accepted the equest to become a mediator on behalf of the Chhattisgarh government, along with another former bureaucrat S.K. Mishra, and had accepted the position since, in her own words, she had first-hand knowledge of the Maoist affected area, which was part of Madhya Pradesh till the state’s bifurcation and creation of Chhattisgarh.

The Committee headed by Ms. Buch was set up in 2012 after there was a dialogue with the help of the two mediators Dr. B.D.Sharma and Prof. Hargopal, who were nominated by the Maoists. This paved the way for an agreement leading to the Sukma collector’s release.

The Chhattisgarh Government followed up the Collector’s release by appointing the high-powered standing committee on May 3, 2012. The first meeting of this committee was held the same night and another the next day amply showing how committed the Chattisgarh Government was when it came to the pact with the negotiators nominated by the Maoists.

The issue of a large number of tribals and others in the judicial custody in various jails of Chhattisgarh was a major concern of the mediators nominated by the Maoists.

The High-powered standing committee set up by the Chhattisgarh government regularly reviewed all cases of persons in respect of whom investigation of prosecution was pending, including the Maoist related cases.

Notwithstanding the mandatory provision to subject the review process to judicial review, one cannot ignore the fact that the review process that got institutionalized by the Chhattisgarh government in the post-Sukma collector’s abduction and release phase, undermined the success that had been achieved in controlling the network of supporters of the hardcore Maoists in the villages. This network is usually built by instilling fear or through coercion. The Maoists use the local supporters for digging trenches to blast police convoys or as couriers and messengers . The Police also makes great efforts to catch the Maoists and their supporters.

After the Sukma Collector’s release, it was being advocated that the cases of those facing minor charges should be reviewed on priority as no one comes to bail them out. Whereas on the contrary, what should not be forgotten is that their prosecution drags on in maoist related cases as the villagers are mostly afraid of appearing as a witness against them in court.

Today’s hacking of a villager is a grim reminder that things are sliding back to where they were before the kidnapping and release of the Sukma Collector 6 years ago.

Academic community should avoid predatory journals

Rajiv Lochan

The academic community, especially the young research scholars and faculty need to be sensitized about predatory journals and conferences so that they do not fall prey to such un-academic activities.

It is essential to take steps to enhance the visibility of established Indian journals by proactively encouraging researchers in the country to publish some of their papers in these journals.

The message that needs to be driven home is that no agency should ask separate listing of research publications in ‘National’ and ‘International Journals’.

Papers published in established Indian journals may even be given special attention during any assessment if their citation significantly exceeds the average citation rate of the journal.

Funding agencies should advise the concerned investigators to refrain from publication/participation in predatory and substandard journals (i.e., those that started publishing only as online journals in recent past, levy open-access or other charges, assure rapid publication and have ambiguous peer-review process and publication policies) and conferences. Such publications and participations must not be counted as research output.

Funding agencies and institutions should not generally provide funds to the conference organizers for independent publication of the proceedings of a conference/seminar unless the conference is meant to be a brainstorming to review the status of a field and to plan future directions.

Payment of open access charges, except in case of publication in well established journals of repute, may be generally avoided

Articles placed on established pre-print archives, which provide perpetually free access to all, should be encouraged.

The author, Rajiv Lochan, is an academician and an acclaimed historian.