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Palaniswami wins trust vote

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Pandemonium in Tamil Nadu assembly

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Stormy session sees two adjournments, Speaker roughed up by MLAs

By Sujit Bhar

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on February 18 won his trust vote and secured his place as the topmost executive in the state.

In a hugely rumbustious and crazy session, adjourned twice with the Speaker manhandled and the opposing DMK, including its leader Stalin ousted, Palaniswami won with his 122 MLAs. Against him were the votes of 11 MLAs which O Panneerselvam could muster. The Congress, too, had walked out.

Tamil Nadu governor C Vidyasagar Rao had given Palaniswami, the newly-sworn chief minister, 15 days to prove his strength on the floor of the house. But 15 days is a long time, and millions can change hands in a jiffy, purchasing support from MLAs and breaking established formations.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Clever path” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:20px|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Palaniswami thus chose the clever path: Have his floor test on Saturday itself. That would give interested parties less time to haggle and pay MLAs who were eager to make a quick buck on the side. And there surely were many of them.

This took the opposition—DMK—by surprise. They had announced their desire to vote against Palaniswami in the trust vote, and knowing their strength to be just 89 against Palaniswami’s 124, money was arranged. Here is where a third party came into the picture, probably one with an even larger power base around the country and zilch in Tamil Nadu. What they have is oodles of money and none of the ethical hang-ups that a regional party might have.

Hence the first attempt was to have a secret ballot. That would have enabled quick crossing of floor with promise of huge bounties awaiting outside.

House Speaker P Dhanapal said no. Then there was a clamour to postpone the trust vote. The Speaker said no.

That was when pandemonium broke out. Panneerselvam demanded that his MLAs should be allowed to go back to their constituencies, consult their electorate and return to vote. Guess what? This is solid logic. The people voted for one J Jayalalithaa and not for her accomplices in crime. People should decide.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1487416902136{margin-bottom: 20px !important;background-color: #e0e0e0 !important;}”][vc_column_inner][vc_custom_heading text=”Who is P Dhanapal?” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:20px|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Speaker P DhanapalP Dhanapal, currently the Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, had been earlier elected to the Tamil Nadu assembly as an Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate from Sankagiri constituency in 1977, 1980 and 1984 and 2001. Then again, in 2011 and 2016, he won from Rasipuram and Avinashi constituencies, respectively.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_custom_heading text=”The catch” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:20px|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]There was a catch, however. This interregnum can be efficiently used by those who want to bribe the MLAs into switching sides or abstaining. The Speaker said no.

In the ruckus, the Speaker’s shirt was torn—DMK leader Stalin said the speaker tore it himself—and the microphone and chair broke. The table was upturned.

A frustrated Speaker was supposed to have said: “Where do I complain about the harassment that I was subjected to in the house?”

So the assembly was adjourned twice, once at 1pm and the next at 3pm and 88 DDMK MLAs were thrown out of the house on grounds of discipline.

The scene in the House after it was adjourned for the day

The scene in the House after it was adjourned for the day

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Rumours ” font_container=”tag:p|font_size:20px|text_align:left” google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]In the morning it was rumoured that Palaniswami’s support base had dwindled further, to 116 (from the overnight 124) and it was clear which way the wind was blowing.

The media was kept out of the proceedings, with correspondents working only on leaked information. The media room audio and video feeds were cut and the chaos outside was a mirror to what was happening inside.

Leaked video footage soon emerged, showing more than one MLA sitting in the speaker’s chair in protest as marshals trooped in to herd the MLAs out.

When it became too much, the speaker ordered assembly police to evict all 88 DMK MLAs, bringing down the strength of the Assembly for the trust vote.

With nobody willing to listen and DMK MLAs not moving, the assembly was adjourned again till 3pm.

The final outcome was, somehow, expected, though.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

Calcutta High Court suggests changing name of Sita, Akbar lions

Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya asked AAG whether he had any pets and if they were named after national heroes.

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The Calcutta High Court on Thursday suggested to the Bengal government that the names of lioness Sita and lion Akbar, who were placed in the same enclosure at the Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri, could be changed.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had filed a petition in the High Court to change the name of the lioness Sita, who was recently brought to West Bengal from Tripura.

Hearing a petition, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya orally directed the State to avoid controversy and consider renaming the big cats.

Questioning the intention of the State, Justice Bhattacharyya asked the government if it would name a lion after a Hindu deity, a Muslim prophet or Christian god, a freedom fighter or a Nobel laureate. Generally, anyone who has been revered or respected by the people of our country, Justice Bhattacharyya further asked.

On this occasion, the Additional Advocate General (AAG), appearing for the State, submitted that the naming of the lions took place in Tripura, and it was the responsibility of the Tripura Zoo authorities. Counsel further told the Court that the State itself was already considering changing the name of lions.

Upon hearing the arguments, the Bench also questioned the logic behind naming the lions after a god, freedom fighter or Nobel laureate and further asked why the State did not challenge the names given by Tripura.

The Court further noted that the petition filed by VHP espoused the rights of a large section of people and said that naming a lion after Sita, a largely worshipped by Hindus would hurt their religious sentiments.

During the exchange with AAG, Justice Bhattacharyya also stated that the animals could not be named after respected figures. He further asked AAG whether he had any pets and if they were named after national heroes.

The Bench had directed the petition by VHP to be reclassified as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and redirected it to a regular Bench that can hear the same.

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Farmer who died in protest, survived by mentally ill father, unwed sister

Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has asked the Punjab Government to declare Shubhkaran Singh a martyr and provide benefits accordingly. 

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The 21-year-old farmer, Shubhkaran Singh who died during the clashes between the police and the protesting farmers on Khanauri border left behind his mentally ill father and an unwed sister. His mother died years ago.

The 21 years old, a resident of Balloch village of Bathinda in Punjab, left his home on February 13 to join the Delhi Chalo march. Reports stated that Shubhkaran Singh was the youngest among the group of 15 people who left to join the protest from the village.

Reportedly, Shubhkaran was the only son and sole breadwinner of the family. The 21-year-old farmer has about two acres of land. Shubhkaran, who has two sisters, also took a loan for the marriage of his one sister.

The farmers who halted their protest for two days after the death of the youth, have blocked the autopsy. Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has asked the AAP led Punjab Government to declare Shubhkaran a martyr and provide benefits accordingly. The leader further said that the government should create a five member board to conduct the post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said that the police took action when the farmers were peacefully trying to cross over into Haryana. He added that more than 100 farmers have been injured and demanded the treatment of injured farmers.

Haryana police while appealing for peace said that farmers escalated the violence by attacking the police personnels with sticks and maces and that the police were only trying to restrain them.

Issuing a statement, Additional Inspector General, Manisha Chaudhary said that farmers surrounded the police from all sides, burned stubble by pouring chilli powder in it. She added that around 12 policemen were seriously injured because of the attacks by protestors at Datta Singh Wala-Khanauri border.

Meanwhile, farmer’s leader Pandher said that farmer leaders will discuss future actions and until then, all farmers will remain camped at the borders.

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Congress slams Govt over X blocking accounts linked to farmers protest on Centre’s order, says democracy is being murdered

X disagreed with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.

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The Congress party on Thursday slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government over the action of microblogging platform X blocking accounts and posts linked to the ongoing farmers’ protest and called it a murder of democracy.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, taking to X, said that the action taken by the social media platform on the Centre’s order was a murder of democracy in India.

The Elon Musk-led X, sharing a post on its platform in response to the IT ministry’s order asking it to temporarily block 177 accounts linked to the farmers’ protest, said that the Indian government has issued executive orders requiring it to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties, including significant fines and imprisonment.

The X’s Global Government Affairs team further stated that it complied with the orders and they would withhold these accounts and posts in India alone, however, they disagreed with these actions and maintained that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.

Consistent with their position, a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s blocking orders remains pending. X has also provided the impacted users with notice of these actions following their policies.

Due to legal restrictions, they were unable to publish the executive orders, but they thought that making them public was essential for transparency. This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making, the X’s Global Government Affairs said in a post on its platform.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the Modi government and termed it a murder of democracy. Taking to X, he raised several questions and said if farmers ask for MSP, shoot them. Is this the Mother of Democracy? Gandhi further said that when the youth ask for the appointment, the Centre refuse to even listen to them, if the former governor tells the truth, then they send CBI to his house.

He also attacked the Modi government for freezing the bank accounts of the most prominent opposition party. He added, saying that Section 144, internet ban, sharp wires, and tear gas shells on farmers are not justified in the democracy. He further attacked the Centre for suppressing the voice of the people. He charged on Centre, saying Modi ji public knows that the government have murdered democracy and they will answer it.

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