Assam discord: On BJP’s brand of identity politics

A combination of welfarism, communalism and smart though daring alliances helped the BJP win a second consecutive term in Assam. The party and its allies, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), won 75 of the 126 seats in the State. A 10-party alliance, or Mahajot, around the Congress-AIUDF axis turned out to be no match for the BJP. A third front of Assamese nationalists, the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal, could win only one seat. The Congress and AIUDF have accused it of helping the BJP. The BJP performed well in Upper Assam, and the Barak Valley, though marginally weaker than its 2016 performance. With its newfound ally UPPL, the BJP outperformed the Mahajot, which had the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) as a constituent in the Bodo region. The AIUDF-Congress alliance swept Lower Assam, but overall, they ended up with a net loss by joining hands. The BJP campaign focused on the imaginary prospect of AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal becoming the

A difficult union: On All India NR Congress-BJP alliance in Puducherry

A change of guard in Puducherry, where governance and development took a backseat from mid-2016 due to continuing friction between the elected government and Raj Nivas, ushers in hope for its people. The electorate’s frustration with the erstwhile Congress government was amply reflected with just two of its 14 candidates getting elected, as opposed to 15 last time. At the same time, All India NR Congress (AINRC) founder N. Rangasamy, who on Friday took oath as Chief Minister for the fourth time, has his task cut out, administratively and politically. For the first time he will be heading a coalition government with the BJP, whose cabinet composition is in the making. The people are looking forward to quality governance and public service delivery in the midst of the COVID-19 second wave. It would be safe to infer that the electorate had backed the AINRC-BJP alliance in anticipation that the cordiality between the Territorial administration and the Centre would yield dividends. Their
Editorial

Hat-trick: On Mamata’s third term

Mamata Banerjee was sworn in as Chief Minister of West Bengal for a third consecutive term on Wednesday, following the resounding victory of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the Assembly election. The TMC has won 213 seats, compared to 77 won by its principal challenger the BJP. The TMC’s 47.9% vote share is an all time high for any party, and nearly 10 percentage points more than that of the BJP. The Left-Congress alliance drew a blank, another first in the electoral history of the State. The sheen of the TMC’s astounding success has been somewhat dimmed by violence, attributed largely to its cadres, that has claimed at least 14 lives since the counting of votes on Sunday. True, TMC workers have also been killed, but as the ruling party, the onus is on it to end the violence. It is reassuring that Ms. Banerjee has promised after taking oath that ending the violence and controlling the pandemic were her priorities. She must not read this colossal mandate as a public endorsement or even

Editorial

A lending hand: On RBI and the second wave

The Reserve Bank of India’s move on Wednesday to step in and join the fight against the second wave of the pandemic through the announcement of measures aimed at alleviating any financing constraint for those impacted, including the health-care sector, State governments and the public, is a welcome and timely intervention. The furious pace at which new COVID-19 infections and fatalities have been mounting in recent weeks has not only overwhelmed the nation’s health infrastructure but has begun to significantly impair economic activity, just as the economy appeared to have turned the corner from last year’s debilitating contraction. “The fresh crisis is still unfolding,” Governor Shaktikanta Das said in his unscheduled address, acknowledging the challenge ahead. Stressing that it is imperative to both save lives and restore livelihoods, Mr. Das proposed a calibrated response, mooting a ₹50,000 crore term liquidity facility to boost credit availability for ramping up COVID-related

Editorial

Against excess: On Maratha quota

In striking down the separate reservation given to Maharashtra’s Maratha community, the Supreme Court has underscored the importance of adhering to the 50% limit on total reservation, as well as the need to justify any excess by showing the existence of exceptional circumstances. In a decision that will be quite unpalatable to mainstream parties, the Court has not only found no merit in the Maratha claim to backwardness but also said the community is adequately represented in public services. It is no surprise that the Maratha quota, given by Maharashtra through a 2018 law, did not survive judicial scrutiny by a Constitution Bench. The 16% quota in admissions to educational institutions and jobs in public services — later brought down to 12% in admissions and 13% in jobs through a 2019 amendment — took the total reservation in the State beyond the 50% ceiling imposed by earlier verdicts. The five-Judge Bench has held that the State has not shown any exceptional circumstance to justify

Sudden death: On IPL 2021

DMK returns: On Tamil Nadu Assembly poll results

Keeping Left: On Kerala Assembly election results

Clear and distinct: On verdicts in Assembly elections

A timely warning: On SC intervention against clampdown on information

Facts and figures: On India’s COVID-19 death count

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