The Hindu Important Articles 20 June 2018

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# Mehbooba calls it quits as BJP pulls the plug


National Conference, Congress rule out alternative governmentN.N. Vohra recommends imposition of Governor’s RuleBJP decision to sever ties was announced by Ram MadhavContinuance in the alliance has become untenable, says BJP
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned on Tuesday after the BJP announced that it was pulling out of the alliance with her Peoples Democratic Party that has ruled the State since March 2015. Later in the day, Governor N.N. Vohra forwarded his report to the President recommending imposition of Governor’s Rule in the State.

The BJP’s decision to sever ties was announced by party general secretary and point man for Jammu and Kashmir affairs Ram Madhav at a press conference in New Delhi. It came after a hurriedly called meeting of the BJP’s Ministers in the State government and State unit office-bearers.

‘Sincere effort made’

Mr. Madhav said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah were both on board in the decision. “It has become untenable for the BJP to continue in alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, claiming that the Centre and the Home Ministry had made a sincere effort.

“It grieves me that despite this, the dominant partner in the alliance [the PDP] was not able to handle the situation in the State. Obstacles were also placed in the way of development projects in Jammu and Ladakh,” said Mr. Madhav, clearly signalling that the BJP was upset at its own corroding support base in Jammu and Ladakh because of partnering with the PDP.

‘Pre-emptive strike’

Senior leaders said the BJP had also anticipated that the PDP was going to pull out of the alliance sometime in September, and that it was a pre-emptive strike to offset more political damage. Of late, the two partners were seen pulling in different directions on the approach to be adopted towards growing anti-India protests, separatists and local militants. While the BJP pushed for a hot pursuit against separatists and militants in the first half of 2017, the PDP pushed hard for the Centre’s unilateral ceasefire during Ramzan this year which was subsequently not extended.

Ms. Mufti, while insisting that the pullout was not a surprise for her, hinted at the Centre’s “muscular policy” as a tipping point. “We can’t treat Jammu and Kashmir as enemy territory. There is no room for a ‘muscular policy’ in the State,” she said after tendering her resignation at Raj Bhavan. The PDP leader also touted her government’s achievements such as “defending” Article 370 and 35A, releasing 11,000 protesters, and the unilateral ceasefire.

In the Assembly polls in December 2014, the PDP had won 28 seats and the BJP 25 in the 87-member House. The two parties finally formed the government on March 1, 2015 with an ‘Agenda of Alliance’.

The National Conference and the Congress — which won 15 and 12 seats respectively — said on Tuesday that there were no prospects of alternative alliances. “In 2015, I had said that the National Conference did not have the mandate and in 2018 too, the same is the case… We request that Governor’s Rule should not stay long as people have the right to choose their government,” said NC leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. He added that he had advised Ms. Mufti to quit early, but “she chose to be dismissed with no dignity.”

“The opportunistic BJP-PDP alliance set fire to J&K, killing many innocent people including our brave soldiers. It cost India strategically & destroyed years of UPA’s hard work. The damage will continue under Governor’s rule. Incompetence, arrogance & hatred always fails (sic),” Congress president Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.

# Widespread rain in three districts

Monsoon rain was widespread across Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada on Tuesday. In the last 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Udupi recorded 69 mm rainfall, followed by 56 mm in Uttara Kananda and 16 mm in Dakshina Kannada.

Rain lashed the three districts all through the day on Tuesday.

An average of 65 mm rainfall was recorded in several places in Mangaluru, Puttur, Bantwal and Sullia taluks in Dakshina Kannada since Tuesday morning. As per readings of Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNMDC), the highest rainfall of 71.5 mm was recorded in Manila Gram Panchayat in Bantwal. Someshwara Gram Panchayat in Mangaluru taluk received 70.5 mm, followed by 69 mm in Alike and 68 mm in Balepuni Gram Panchayat of Bantwal taluk. Heavy rain led to water-logging at the Padil railway underbridge on National Highway 75 affecting vehicular traffic.

Personnel from Mangaluru City Corporation had to rush with a pump to flush out water. There was water-logging near the Mahindra showroom at Kottara Chowki where the corporation personnel took a long time to clear the water. There were complaints of water entering a few houses in Bendorwell. Residents of Attavar complained that there was a block affecting the flow of water in the storm-water drain.

In Bantwal, a minor bridge connecting Baddakatte and Hosamaru in Bantwal Town Municipal Council was damaged. There were reports of damage to some houses in Vitla, Balepuni and Manila in Bantwal taluk.

Rainfall was widespread in Udupi, Kundapur, Karkala and Brahmavar taluks in Udupi district since Tuesday morning. According to readings of the KSNMDC, a maximum of 138 mm was recorded in Neelavara Gram Panchayat, followed by 136.9 mm in Kokkarne and 133.6 in Madamakki Gram Panchayat in Udupi taluk.

It rained heavily in several places in Ankola, Bhatkal, Karwar, Kumta, Sirsi, Siddapura and Yellapur taluks of Uttara Kannada. A maximum of 142 mm was recorded in Chanagara Gram Panchayat in Ankola taluk.

# Fuel tanker overturns; one killed
The accident triggered ahuge fire blaze
A man was feared dead and another suffered serious burns when a fuel tanker caught fire after it overturned at Giriyapura in Kadur taluk on Tuesday.

The tanker was carrying petrol and diesel from HPCL terminal in Hassan to Hosadurga in Chitradurga. The accident occurred when the driver lost control while negotiating a curve. A couple of houses and shops were damaged in the incident.

The driver and cleaner were in the tanker. One of them is said to have been burnt alive, and the other has been shifted to Shivamogga for treatment. “According to the tanker owner, the driver’s name is Dadapeer. We have shifted one person to Shivamogga for treatment. He is not in a position to speak,” said Geetha Prasanna, Additional Superintendent of Police, Chikkamagaluru.

Within minutes the blaze spread to nearby houses and shops, forcing the residents to run for safety. “The flames rose to as high as 60 ft when we reached the spot,” said Shashidhar, a fire brigade official. The fire is suspected to have been caused due to either friction or heat of the engine. The front portion of houses belonging to Mruthyunjayappa and Gurushanthappa were damaged, while a petty shop belonging to Chidananda was destroyed. Two more shops built by Giriyapura Gram Panchayat and a bus stop also caught fire.

The tanker, with four compartments, had both petrol and diesel, according to the police. By 6.30 p.m. around 10,000 litres of diesel was burnt, while another compartment was intact. Fire tenders were called from Kadur, Birur, Yagati and other places. The efforts continued till late in the evening. The police rushed to the spot to handle the huge crowd that had gathered.

# Walking the land to understand it
This filmmaker is trekking 5,000 km to make a road trip movie on the environment
Sriram Dalton wants to understand first-hand India’s many land-related problems. So, following Mahatma Gandhi’s example, he is on a padayatra. He started in Mumbai in mid-May, and will walk 5,000 km over three to four months through eight States — Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand — ending in Boodha Pahad, which is a Naxal zone.

The Mumbai-based writer, cinematographer and filmmaker’s forte is a participative, immersive approach. In 2016, he ran a 10-day national workshop in Netarhat, in his home State, Jharkhand, with 200 participants, focusing on water scarcity; 13 original films resulted. In 2017, he went back to Netarhat, this time zooming in on forests, and seven films came out.

This year, the padayatra extends his ‘open-air, travel-oriented, film classroom without boundaries’; he is inviting people keen on filmmaking to join him. He hopes to sensitise artistes and filmmakers to ecological and environmental issues so that they can deal with them creatively.

Bootstrap effort

Seven people from various parts of the country have joined him so far. Like him, they sleep wherever they find space, and eat whatever they get. The mission is self-funded, with some money pitched in by friends.

Walking 35–40 km a day, Mr. Dalton talks to people, involves communities on ecological issues, and screens his package of 22- odd short films. He will make a film (already titled Megalith ) from footage he has been shooting. On his walk so far, all he could see was hills without trees.

# ‘Pained by Opposition’s comments,’ Parakala Prabhakar quits as adviser
‘Mature people will have their own political opinions’
State government’s adviser (communications) Parakala Prabhakar, who has been in the eye of storm for the last couple of days, resigned from his post on Tuesday.

Mr. Prabhakar, husband of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, is stated to have informed Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Monday about his plans to quit.

But Mr. Naidu reportedly refused saying he had complete trust in him. Notwithstanding, Mr. Prabhakar put in his papers on Tuesday.

“My conscience strongly suggests that people should not doubt the Chief Minister’s sincerity and make allegations against him and the government by using my name or my family member’s name. Hence, I am saying no to your advice,” he said in his resignation letter.

Apparently hurt by the accusations of the YSR Congress Party, Mr. Prabhakar said: “Claims are being made that I will compromise on State’s interests because my family members belong to another party and have different political views.”

Mr. Prabhakar blamed the YSRCP for his resignation and said mature people would have their own political opinions and their relationship would not come in the way of their work.

Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his party MP Vijaya Sai Reddy raised doubts over continuation of Mr. Prabhakar as adviser though the TDP had been fighting against the BJP.

The TDP pulled out of the NDA government in March over the Special Category Status and had been targeting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for going back on the promises made to Andhra Pradesh.

# Air India privatisation plan shelved
As there were no bids, govt. feels it is not the right time for disinvestment
After it failed to get any buyers for the debt-ridden national carrier, the government has shelved its plan to privatise Air India exactly a year after the Union Cabinet gave its nod for the disinvestment process.

“Now is not the right time to privatise Air India. We received no bids. We will look at improving efficiencies by bringing private people to work with the airline’s top brass,” the source told The Hindu . He added that measures such as cutting down costs as well as monetisation of Air India’s assets would be adopted in order to run the airline. The source attributed the lack of interest in the disinvestment process to rising fuel prices and hinted that the government could revisit the plan to offload its stake in Air India at a later stage.

The decision was taken at a meeting convened by senior BJP leader and Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday. The broad contours of Air India’s privatisation were made public at March-end and interested players were invited to place initial bids. However, there were no bids when the deadline ended on May 31.

Debt and liabilities

The government had offered to sell 76% of its stake in Air India, along with low-cost subsidiary Air India Express and its 50% share in ground-handling arm AISATS as a single entity. The buyer would have to take on the debt and current liabilities of Rs. 33,392 crore.

# Kejriwal ends protest, officers back at work
As bureaucrats attended meetings called by Ministers on Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ended his sit-in at Raj Niwas.

The nine-day protest called for an end to the bureaucrats’ “strike” and approval for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s proposal for home delivery of public distribution grain.

Returning home, Mr. Kejriwal, in an address to gathered party leaders and workers, said Tuesday’s development was a “small victory” and that the AAP would now launch a campaign for full statehood for Delhi.

“With one phone call from the Lieutenant-Governor, the officers attended the meetings,” the Chief Minister said, adding that the officers had been threatened by Raj Niwas not to attend meetings called by Ministers.

Mr. Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Ministers Gopal Rai and Satyendar Jain had started a dharna at a visitors’ room in Raj Niwas on June 11 after a meeting with Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal.

Addressing a press conference at his residence after being discharged from hospital, Mr. Sisodia said meetings of the Transport, Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies, Administrative Reforms and Information Technology departments, called by the respective Ministers, were attended by IAS officers.

“Six officers, including the Chief Secretary, attended meetings called by Ministers. This shows that officers are returning to work,” Mr. Sisodia said.

He added that officers had told him that they had been given the go-ahead “from the top”, referring to the L-G and the Centre, to start attending meetings.

On Tuesday, L-G Baijal said he had requested Mr. Kejriwal to “urgently meet the officers in the Secretariat.”

# Releasing Rajiv case convicts will set a bad example: Centre
Ministry order on Kovind’s behalf cites ‘diabolical plot’
The Centre has said releasing the four foreign nationals convicted of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in connivance with three Indian nationals, “will set a very dangerous precedent and lead to international ramifications.”

In its communication to the Tamil Nadu government, rejecting its request for concurrence to its proposal to grant remission to the seven life convicts in the case, the government said “…the murder of a former Prime Minister, for what he did for the country was an act of exceptional depravity on the part of the accused, an unparalleled act in the annals of crimes committed in this country.”

The Hindu reported on June 15 that the T.N. government’s plea to release the seven convicts had been turned down by the President. The order issued by the Union Home Ministry on behalf of the President, said the “diabolical plot carefully conceived and executed” by a foreign terrorist organisation claimed 16 lives, including nine police officers.

It said the killing brought the democratic process to a halt. “The trial court had given cogent reasons for imposing the death penalty upon the accused persons. While referring to the diabolical conspiracy, the use of a female human bomb, the number of lives lost in the incident etc. it justified the award of the death penalty; the three judges of the Supreme Court highlighted the conspiracy and the horrific nature of the crime and held that the case fell under the category of rarest of rare cases,” the Ministry said.

On February 14, following SC directions, the Ministry sought details on eight grounds from the State government, including “physical and mental status of the convicts”, their “economic and social background” to “facilitate” its request to release them. The seven convicts are V. Sriharan alias Murugan, A.G. Perarivalan, Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini.

# BJP didn’t want to face 2019 polls as PDP’s ally
Electoral compulsions ahead of 2019 made the BJP-PDP alliance untenable
The end of the BJP-People’s Democratic Party (PDP) government in Jammu and Kashmir has two dates attached to it.

For detractors of the alliance within the BJP, it began with the inception of the alliance (many preferred the BJP’s former ally National Conference over the PDP). For others, it was when late Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayyed passed away in early 2016, taking away the political heft that anchored the alliance, a teflon coating that deflected the criticism from such politically contradictory and inorganic alliance.

Lok Sabha polls

There are of course more manifest and immediate reasons, the biggest being the looming General Elections of 2019, an election that the former allies just could not afford to face together.

“The situation in the State has become such that both our core constituencies have become alienated from us. There was no way the alliance would hold till 2019. We were facing a huge backlash from Jammu and Ladakh, the areas that vote for us, and the Valley was hitting out against the PDP. We had an idea that the PDP would pull out of government by September-October, well before the February announcement of General Elections. By pulling out first, we can still hope to retrieve some ground,” said a senior BJP office bearer.

Before pulling away support, the BJP says, it also indicated that it was still willing to work with the PDP. “The decision to pardon first-time stone-pelters, the appointment of an interlocutor, offer for talks, and the Ramzan suspension of operations were all aimed at demonstrating that,” said the source.
Source:- The Hindu

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