Photo Credit: AFP
The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. The Pakistani terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba wanted David Headley to infiltrate the Indian defence establishment.
2. The Vellore bus driver wasn’t killed by a meteorite, explains NASA.
3. US elections: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump sweep the New Hampshire primaries.
4. Oxford’s Isis Academy changes its name to avoid confusion with the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIS.
5. An inexperienced Sri Lankan side shocked the Indian cricket team in the first Twenty20 International of the three-match bilateral series
The Big Story: Give and take
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first Bharatiya Janata Party prime minster, was well-known for his political management skills. He led the party at a time when its hardline Hindutva position was still viewed by many with suspicion. Vajpayee, however, turned the tide by skilfully creating and then running a disparate coalition of allies, making sure that his second government ran the full term – the first non-Congress government to do so.
The BJP’s second prime minster, Narendra Modi, while having won more seats that Vajpayee, seems to lag behind when it comes to managing coalition partners. On Monday night, at meeting of the National Democratic Alliance, the ruling coalition headed by the BJP, the allies made their discontent known volubly. At the meeting, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut complained that, “Sometimes we have difficulty understanding whether or not this is our government.” The Republican Party of India’s Ramdas Athalve also raised the point that the government’s brusque handling of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide had hurt it significantly.
Another crucial ally, the Akali Dal, was miffed that something as minor as a meeting with the prime minister would now take months to organise. In comparison, they would get a meeting with Vajpayee “at five-minute notice”, the Indian Express quoted Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal as saying.
This is just the latest example of the centralised, top-down rule that has often hamstrung this Modi government, in spite of its historic mandate in the 2014 elections. The government has spurned floor coordination with the opposition, making it impossible to pass crucial bills such as the Goods and Services Tax. The skills of, say, PV Narasimha Rao, who ran a minority government for five years, are crucially missed. Moreover, even within the government, ministerial powers have been reduced, and bureaucrats promoted, with the Prime Minster’s Office attempting to directly coordinate the various functions of the government.
At the end of the day, this top-down approach has resulted in an inefficient government and unnecessary friction in Parliament. With now even its allies expressing their anger openly, the BJP needs to take stock of how it’s going to run the government for the remainder of the term, till 2019.
The Big Scroll
Why our Parliament is so dysfunctional (and how we can fix it).
Politicking and policying
1. RK Pachauri’s promotion makes my skin crawl, says complainant in the sexual harassment case against him.
2. Three alleged ISIS sympathisers have been sent to NIA custody for 10 days.
3. The Enforcement Directorate conducts searches In 6 Cities In Hasan Ali money laundering and black money case.
4. The Brihanmubai Municipal Corporation spends at least Rs 20 lakh every month on cars of its 13 top officials.
1. A starting point to dealing with caste could be the doing away of the myth that modernity alone will deal with it, argues Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the India Express.
2. What can xenophobic Bangalore learn from Austin, asks KP Nayar in the Telegraph.
3. A self-confident India should engage friendly constituencies in Pakistan even as it confronts the hostility of the establishment says Shyam Saran in the Business Standard.
Sevanti Ninan on how the press is truly under siege in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Chhattisgarh.
The real confrontation in this state is specifically between the police and the reporters who work there. When they gathered to protest in October, reporters interviewed by the media watchdog site, The Hoot, specifically named senior police official SRP Kalluri as the man attempting to curb the activities of journalists.
Malini Subramaniam, the Scroll.in contributor whose home was attacked early on Monday morning, had done a series of reports on the state of development and other issues in the Bastar region. But the heat was turned on her after a report in December questioning police claims on alleged surrenders by Maoists. The police turned up at her home late on the night of January 10 after she revisited the area for a follow-up. The demonstrators who shouted slogans against her on Sunday evening were demanding that she stop tarnishing the image of the police. Hours after their demonstration, stones were pelted at her home and the rear window of her car was smashed.