About: the world this week, 19 June to 25 June 2022; edge-of-seat, pot-boiler politics in India’s States; Afghanistan shakes; Election results in France, Colombia, and Israel; and a new President-in-the-works for India.
During this week, the International Day of Yoga was celebrated with gusto, with the ‘all walks of life celebrities’ piously seated on a Yoga mat, twisting, turning, and bending backwards and forwards, showing-off their precious moves, highlighting the benefits of the wonderful practice. However, in the Maldives, Islamist protesters stormed and disrupted a yoga event organised by the Indian High Commission in the capital Male. The protesters also brandished placards proclaiming that yoga was against the tenets of Islam. That’s twisting things too far!
Meanwhile, a friend whose Company supplied the T-Shirts to the United Nations for the yoga twists & turns, snaked into my Home to invite me to his son’s Wedding. A fortune-teller had warned that if his son is not cooly ‘married off’ within the year he may face the heat of a marriage draught lasting at least six years – women melting away-blame it on climate change. He googled, quickly latched onto a bride, got his son to nod in agreement – the son was bewildered to discover that she was a childhood bench mate- and fixed the Wedding for August this year. ‘Fortune’ favours the brave!
Moving over: in France, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party lost majority in Parliament, two months after he fought hard to comeback as President. Now, he has to find a way to create alliances and constantly scratch-up the support of other parties to get work done. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and former opponent called the election results a ‘seismic event, while Macron’s own party called it a ‘democratic shock.’
On Sunday, Colombia elected its first leftist president, Gustavo Petro, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement. He won more than 50% of the vote, beating a prominent businessman. Gustavo has promised to stop new oil exploration and to raise taxes on the rich. His running mate, Francia Marquez, also snagged a first. An environmental activist and single mother, she will serve as the country’s first black vice-president.
Meanwhile, Israel may get a new Prime Minister as the country is headed toward its fifth election in four years after announcing plans to dissolve parliament. Israel has a way with its Elections!
In Ukraine the fighting continues in the eastern part and the situation is described as extremely difficult. Russia has been using its superior artillery strength to make gains. On the ‘good news side’ the war-torn country has been approved as a European Union (EU) Candidate at a EU Leaders’ summit in Brussels. Ukraine applied days after the Russian invasion, and the process has since moved at a record speed. Ukraine’s President Zelensky called it a ‘unique and historic moment’. Candidate status is the first official step towards EU membership – but it can take many years to join and there’s no guarantee of success. So near yet so far?
Late this week in the United States of America (USA) its Supreme Court overturned the 50 years old Roe versus Wade Case that legalised abortion rights, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion in the USA. This is a death blow to woman’s freedom. And a huge step backwards. More on this, next week.
The horror in Afghanistan refuses to abate. The Taliban shook it like never before and then nature too joined the shake.
A powerful earthquake measuring 6.2 ‘moment magnitude’ killed about a 1000 people and left thousands injured in Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces. The earthquake’s tremors were felt over 500 kilometers by people across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
Mountainous Afghanistan and the larger region of South Asia along the Hindu Kush mountains has long been vulnerable to devastating earthquakes with a similar incident, but of lesser damage, happening in 2015.
India’s Maharashtra State: A Quiver-full of Arrows
In the Maharashtra State Assembly Elections held in the year 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 122 seats in the 288 seated Assembly and came to power entering into a relationship with the Shiv Sena (SHS), which itself won 63 seats. Previously, the highest the BJP could muster in Maharashtra was 46 seats. BJP’s handsome leader Devendra Fadnavis became Chief Minister, enjoyed a ‘relationship honeymoon’, and went on to successfully complete his term.
Building on the snug togetherness, the BJP & SHS decided to take their relationship to the next level – love each other, mind the distance, and probably get married in the next Legislative Assembly Election, which was held on 21 October 2019. After a 61.4% turnout in the election, the ruling BJP and SHS pre-poll alliance won a majority with 106 and 55 seats respectively, on Wedding Day. However, the first night (and day) probably wasn’t good as the just-married couple started squabbling over dowry. The SHS said it was promised an equal share – Chief Ministership for half the term – which was quickly denied by the New Delhi uncles of the BJP saying nothing of the sort was agreed upon. A political drama then kicked-in. The SHS walked-out of the marriage and the BJP, desperately hunted for a coy-bride in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to fill the gap, and found one. This barely lasted three days-could not be consummated-and the new Bride was disowned by her parents – the NCP. The coy Bride returned to her parent’s home and the SHS groomed themselves for a live-in relationship with the NCP’s 53 and the Congress Party’s 44 members, forming the government called the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government (MVA) with their support.
The Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray went on to become Chief Minister without himself having contested the Elections, but later qualified, by becoming a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC). That’s the first part of the story. Now, the second part, where a wronged and ditched groom gets his revenge?
This week the Shiv Sena live-in began to fail with MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly) of the SHS probably realising they are living in sin. A major chunk lead by Eknath Shinde – nobody heard of him much, before this – broke away, probably emboldened by the come-hither, stunning looks of the BJP. Nobody knows for sure. They caught a flight to the State of Gujarat and from there, a flood of MLA’s – near about 40 of them – flew to Guwahati in the State of Assam, which was suffering one of its worst ever floods caused by incessant rain. This is obviously to prevent ‘political poaching’ – a hunting game-theory Indian Politicians specialise in.
That’s a rebellion in a party founded and run by family members where the family is left behind and the members have stolen the party, possibly beating the Anti-Defection Law which says tow-thirds breaking away is acceptable.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray vacated his official Bungalow and moved to his family home, suitcases, et all. The Government is back on the drawing board.The third and probably the final part of the story is expected to unfold in the upcoming week. The Shiv Sena’s logo is a bow and arrow and Party name itself means, ‘Shivaji’s Army’. They will need all of that, and much more, to stay relevant.
… And Tamilnadu: Two Leaves Leaving
Not to be left behind and catching the whiff of things, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which is the main Opposition Party in the Southern State of Tamilnadu, created its own drama.
Ever since the death of its charismatic leader Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK has been working in a ‘dual sim-phone’ mode – Dual Leadership – with Ottakarathevar Panneerselvam (OPS) and Edappadi Karuppa Palanisamy (EPS) being joint Leaders, kind of, the two leaves of the AIADMK. Both of them have been Chief Ministers for periods of time.
EPS successfully steered the AIADMK as the recent Chief Minister of Tamilnadu – did a fine job – in completing his term, ended up losing in the next Elections, but with a respectable number of seats, reinforcing his leadership.
Over a year in the opposition, the dual leadership wasn’t working well, especially with the BJP’s Tamilnadu President Annamalai stealing the narrative, firing on all guns, and working magic in Tamilnadu as if they were the real Opposition Party. With the AIADMK party cadre wanting a single leadership, to be quick on the draw, they resolved to meet to discuss resolutions made and iron-out bumps in a General Council meeting this week. But it turned into a mid-summer night’s dream. The Courts stepped-in saying they must stick to resolutions agreed upon before the Meeting; all resolutions were rejected; OPS and his supporters walked out; and the Meeting was put-off to another day with new resolutions to kick-in including that of Single Leadership.
No one knows what happens next. Must be looking at direct flights from Chennai to Guwahati to get flooded with new ideas.
Indian politics works in mysterious ways and the edge-of-the-seat suspense, twists & turns can be intriguing, mind-boggling and awfully thrilling. Airplanes and 5-star Hotels gain lots of revenue, the media drives into top gear, and the State gets paid its Goods & Service Taxes.
The New Would-be President of India
Over the past weeks the media was pregnant with speculation on who would be India’s ruling Party BJP’s choice for the President of India, given that the current President, Ram Nath Kovind’s-He did a magnificent job of being President- term expires on 24 July 2022.
This week the choice was made. Droupadi Murmu, 64, a former Governor of the State of Jharkhand was chosen and will be the first person from the State of Odisha, and the first tribal woman leader to occupy the presidential post if elected. She will also be the first President, to be born after Independence. That’s a lot of firsts!
The Opposition had earlier announced Yashwant Sinha – a former Finance Minister in the BJP and one who deserted the BJP ranks – as its candidate The poll is slated for July 18. And the numbers are stacked in favour of the BJP.
Droupadi Murmu, is a tribal woman born in the Santhal community of the remote Mayurbhanj District, Odisha. Her father and grandfather were Village Heads under the Panchayat Raj System. She started out a teacher before entering politics after earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ramdev Women’s College in Bhubaneswar. She worked as a junior assistant in the Irrigation & Power Department for 4 years before becoming a teacher at Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre, Rairangpur.
Then she decided to swing into the world of Indian politics. And began her political career as a Councillor in Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997, and as Vice-President of the BJP’s Schedule Tribes Morcha. She became MLA, twice on the BJP ticket, from Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj in 2000 and 2004. She rose through the proverbial ranks to become a minister in the BJD (Biju Janata Dal)-BJP Alliance Government in 2000 handling the portfolios of Commerce & Transport and Fisheries & Animal Husbandry. And became the Governor of Jharkhand in 2015. Murmu could hold on to her assembly seat in 2004 even when the BJD had snapped ties with the BJP weeks ahead of the state elections, which were swept by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD party.
In her personal life she has seen much tragedy, losing her husband Shyam Charan Murmu to a cardiac arrest in 2014, and one of two sons in 2009, in mysterious circumstances, and the second in a road accident in 2013. She has a daughter, Itishri Murmu who works in a Bank and is married to Ganesh Hembram – a rugby player. There is a young grand-daughter in her arms.
The would-be President has struggled every millimetre of her way to get here, has seen personal tragedy- inheritance of loss, fought depression, and has managed all of them with Himalayan resolve. I’m sure she will make a wonderful President. The best is yet to come!
More native, bow & arrow leaving stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay safe with World Inthavaaram.