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

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

Editorial

Sudden death: On IPL 2021

The Indian Premier League’s suspension effective from Tuesday was an inevitable full stop considering India’s continuing trauma with COVID-19 and the breach of the tournament’s much-vaunted bio-bubble. Until the emergence of the COVID-positive results of Kolkata Knight Riders’ Sandeep Warrier and Varun Chakravarthy; Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Wriddhiman Saha; Delhi Capitals’ Amit Mishra, Chennai Super Kings’ bowling coach L. Balaji and a member of the squad’s logistics staff, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was in denial-mode, firmly believing that its bio-bubble protocols cannot be breached. BCCI officials also insisted that the league is not a super-spreader like election rallies or other permitted activities where crowds were allowed to assemble. That both fans and the media were kept away from the venues was cited as an example of how strict the IPL management was with regard to social-distancing. Besides this, the constant testing of everyone in the bubble was seen as

Editorial

DMK returns: On Tamil Nadu Assembly poll results

Some elections are decided on key issues, some on the incumbent’s performance, and others on alliance arithmetic and local factors. The outcome of the Tamil Nadu Assembly election, in which the DMK emerged triumphant and its leader, M.K. Stalin, is set to be sworn in as Chief Minister, seems to be an unequal mix of all these. The DMK’s comeback was a foregone conclusion after the alliance led by it scored a landslide victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, and a third successive term for the AIADMK was unlikely. Mr. Stalin has been rewarded for his patience. He has led the party successfully for the second time after the demise of M. Karunanidhi, his father and the party’s towering figure for over four decades. The DMK rode mainly on a popular desire for change, to win 133 seats on its own, including some secured by allies who contested on the DMK symbol. The front ended up with 159 seats. The Congress’s performance is more impressive, as it won 18 of the 25 seats allotted to it. The

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A transient high: On GST inflows

The nuclear challenge: On North Korea's economic worries

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

Long and tortuous: On West Bengal Assembly Elections

Promises to keep: On Joe Biden’s first address to U.S. Congress

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