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Maharashtra’s Game Of Brinkmanship

WHEN the results were declared in Maharashtra after the assembly elections, the pre-poll alliance partners of the NDA, namely the BJP and the Shiv Sena had won 105 and 56 seats respectively, totalling 161, much above the 145 mark required to form the government in a House of 288 members. No one had imagined that the politics of power hungry Shiv Sena would take such a turn, prolonging the government formation for such a long time, as it resolutely stuck to its stand of wanting the Chief Minister’s position for the second half of the tenure of the assembly.  The BJP, which emerged as the single largest party, was left with no option than to relinquish the opportunity of government formation. When the Shiv Sena, being the second largest party was asked to assess its possibility of forming the government it  obviously found it difficult to get the support of the NCP and the INC, particularly the latter, in view of serious ideological differences. Neither the NCP showed any willingness to rule the state with the support of the other parties. The Governor was left with no option than to present to the Centre the factual position of the state and to recommend President’s rule. We do agree that in a democracy the imposition of President’s rule should be avoided as far as possible and acceptably it is the last resort for it indirectly incites a sort of autocracy. But viewing the state politics can we expect any other alternative route? If there was consonance between the contending parties they would have mustered the numbers and the leader of the combination would march the members before the Governor staking claim to form the government instead of only asking for more time. But the political situation in the state is so fluid that nothing concrete seems to spring up towards getting an elected government. Nonetheless the assembly has only been kept in suspended animation and if wiser counsels prevail the stakeholders can still work out a solution and strive for a stable government.


The Colour Of Justice

THE law must not distinguish between the communities. However, only the Supreme Court can legitimately colour it in rare circumstances like it did in giving the Ayodhya verdict in favour of those who in fact admittedly and illegally demolished the Babri Masjid. Now the Hindu Mahasabha consequently has demanded that criminal cases against kar sevaks not only be withdrawn but the kar sevaks who had lost their lives during the movement should be given status of martyrs. 


Impose Cess On Plastic At Source

WE are blessed with a huge army of ragpickers who are unfortunately grossly underpaid. We can put their services to better use and solve our waste problem, while at the same time providing them with a better existence. We should impose a cess on plastic, glass and paper at source. For example, a cess of one rupee may be imposed on a one litre plastic bottle of soft drink. Tetrapacks, newspapers glass bottles etc may be similarly taxed. This tax should be passed on the civic bodies, panchayats etc in proportion to their population.  The civic bodies may employ ragpickers on contract. They should be provided with uniforms, identity cards, gloves etc. They may be given a remunerative daily wage plus target based incentives for collection of waste. The said waste may be deposited at the local civic office or designated place and auctioned to recyclers every morning.


Seshan Cleaned Electoral System

CONSTITUTIONAL posts are tricky in as much as consistency and sustainability of their status are concerned. But a few exceptional personalities elevate the status of the constitutional posts they hold.  Before Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan – T N Seshan – occupied the office of the chief election commissioner not much was known about the game-changing ability of the Election Commission of India. The redoubtable, gritty and plumpy Seshan proved what the EC can do to bring about decorum in the conduct of elections in India.  Until he took over, Indian elections were synonymous with booth captures, corruption, impersonation, vandalism and violence.  Seshan’s ambitious voter identification card for casting votes was one step which put the integrity of the EC towards ascendency. The model code of conduct got a fresh meaning as the ‘maverick’ Seshan cracked the whip on politicians as only as he can.  Politicians called him names, but Seshan ignored them. When Seshan did not budge an inch in the implementation of  the daily expenditure report of election candidates, politicians barked at him though they themselves gave the name ‘Al Seshan’ to the man.  Election malpractices saw a steep decline between 1990 and 1996 – six years Seshan oversaw the CEC.  The 1955-cadre Tamil Nadu IAS officer rose to the post of Cabinet Secretary before moving out to the Nirvachan Sadan.  He was the favourite of the then prime minister Chandrashekhar and law minister Subramanian Swamy.  Throughout his career, Seshan enjoyed an unblemished record.  Ironically Seshan paved the way for a three-member EC. His aggressive style and frequent tiffs with the politicians prompted the then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao to reintroduce the three-member EC.     Again, Seshan met his match in the Supreme Court after he contested the powers of the two newly-appointed election commissioners – M S Gill and G V G Krishnamurthy.  And, he had to eat humble pie every time he tried to assert his supremacy over the SC.  Despite his frequent squabbles with the government, colleagues and the courts, it is beyond question that Seshan was the architect of the new Election Commission in India.  


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