~By: Saeed Naqvi
The extraordinary feat the BJP has pulled off leaves one breathless. Which other Chief Minister in the country will have a decorated Director General of Police, B.L. Vohra, write in his book, Tripura’s Bravehearts, “Manik Sarkar was definitely unlike any Chief Ministers whom I had seen, met, worked with and heard about…. He was honest personally and that had percolated down to all echelons of the government – again one cannot find many examples of his ilk unfortunately in the country.” This level of decency has been traded by the Tripura electorate for mobs who pull down statues.
The universal assessment of Manik Sarkar even among opposition leaders in Tripura would flatter any politician. It was not just that he was himself a gentleman but he appeared to have instilled his qualities in his cabinet colleagues and the administration across the board. By all accounts his predecessor and Guru, Nripen Chakraborty, was even more admirable. The staff in the Chief Minister’s house had never ever dreamt that they would serve a boss whose groceries were purchased on a ration card and who never saved enough money to open a bank account. This may be syrupy stuff in an era when materialism is the mantra, but do, for a moment, reflect on the Chakraborty-Sarkar duo against the amoral wasteland that stretches as far as the eye can see.
Also, it is elementary that 25 years of CPM rule could not have lasted only because of the leadership’s decency. Despite the economic crunch, the government in Agartala implemented every central scheme with greater efficiency than any other state. 96% literacy? Show me another state. The gender ratio is something of a record. That is how Tripura’s middle class was created. True, having created a new middle class, the government found itself flat footed. It could not cope with the next stage of aspirations. It produced distributive justice but found itself bereft of ideas to generate wealth to accommodate the educated unemployed and to promote two wheel drivers to the four wheel level.
Upon arrival in Agartala I was able to find accommodation only in a government guest house. When I asked the CM if the absence of reasonable hotels was state policy, he was frank: “we are not in a position to cope with social imbalances that come with five star hotels, bars and restaurants.”
This may sound odd, but the reasons for the rout of the CPM in Tripura are, to some extent, similar to the ones responsible for the decline of West Indian cricket.
Never again will the likes of Weekes, Sobers, Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Brian Lara adorn world cricket. In the 70s and the 80s, the West Indies cricket team was like Don Bradman’s invincibles. The culture of cricket was their inheritance from the British colonial period.
Aggressive globalization of the 90s, placed the West Indies in the sphere of American media. US centered television beamed at the islanders not cricketers but basketball and baseball stars like Michael Jordan and Jose Ramirez, with proselytizing persistence. Within a generation, all that remained of the cricketing legends were their fading photographs in the scrap books of schoolboys of the 80s in former British colonies.
A CPM government in Tripura was, likewise, as remote from any Left ruled enclave as the West Indies are from cricket’s birth place. After the end of Left rule in West Bengal, it had no structure to lean on. In this friendless era it was exposed to hostile TV bombardment. Riding the crest of economic liberalization, market fundamentalism galloped at breakneck speed to accommodate advertising for rampaging consumerism marketed by dream merchants, architects of plush malls and multiplexes.
CPM Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar’s controlled austerities withstood this barrage of televised razzmatazz for 25 years. By this time another generation had arisen, torn between a lifestyle of simplicity and the Eldorado on the horizon that metropolitan centres of control teased and tempted them with.
Agartala is in trauma. Before they find their feet, the stunned CPM cadres are having to adjust to another reality: Party sympathizers are suddenly not making eye contact with them. Some, with an eye on the main chance, have been seen on the margins of mobs attacking CPM offices, even pulling down of the Lenin statue.
To a considerable extent, the outcome in Tripura and elsewhere in the North East is the Congress’s gift to the BJP. Himanta Biswa Sarma, a genius in electoral management, walked out of the Congress because he could not bear Rahul Gandhi’s insulting silences. Tarun Gagoi, the former Assam Chief Minister, was eager to create his own dynasty, make his son Gaurav the Chief Minister. This would cut out Sarma whose political brilliance underpinned the latter half of the Gogoi years.
This kind of a dynamo, backed by money power that would make Nirav Modi salivate and an adversarial centre controlling the purse strings – this is how the Left was uprooted in Tripura. Just imagine, when state after state is implementing the 7th pay commission, Tripura found itself stranded at the 4th pay commission. CPM dogma also stood in the way: “7th pay commission made some demands which were anti people.”
The change of cultures was imminent from the day the BJP planted Tathagata Roy as Governor of Tripura. The genteel tone of Chakraborty-Sarkar gave way to a inelegant vocabulary. “They should be buried head first in pig’s excreta”, said the Governor by way of a recommendation for dealing with terrorists.
Pulling down of statues is a milder form of retribution compared to the coarse standards set by the Governor.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh arrested in connection with money laundering case linked to Delhi liquor policy
The Enforcement Directorate has mentioned Sanjay Singh’s name in its charge sheet. According to the investigating agency Dinesh Arora a middle man said he had met Singh during a party in his restaurant. The name of the restaurant is Unplugged Courtyard.
The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday arrested Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh after searches were conducted at his residence in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. The central investigating agency questioned Sanjay Singh for 10 hours before arresting him.
Houses of several people close to the AAP MP were also searched. The Enforcement Directorate had named Sanjay Singh in its charge-sheet. According to the investigating agency, Dinesh Arora, a middle-man, said he had met Singh during a party in his restaurant, Unplugged Courtyard.
Before leaving his home with the ED officers, Sanjay Singh touched his mother’s feet to take her blessings. Sanjay Singh’s father said they would cooperate fully with ED officials. He added he told his son Sanjay not to worry. He said the future was positive for them as the government will change soon.
AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the move showed BJP’s desperate measures as it stares at defeat in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Delhi Education Minister Atishi tweeted the BJP’s fear of losing to the INDIA alliance is clearly visible. She said Sanjay Singh worked for the people of Delhi and wondered why they don’t open an ED office in the AAP headquarters itself. Atishi added the BJP is surviving by making false allegations against AAP.
The Enforcement Directorate had arrested then Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. Large number of comments from different political leaders of different parties started coming immediately. BJP MP Manoj Tiwari said the way the AAP leaders used to write letters it seemed there was no one as honest as them. Tiwari added the AAP leader’s co-accused have turned approvers. He said the flame will not end with Sanjay Singh, Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain but will reach Arvind Kejriwal as well.
Government hikes subsidy for Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries from Rs 200 to Rs 300 per LPG cylinder
Ujjwala beneficiaries are paying Rs 703 per 14.2 cylinder as against the market price of Rs 903. After this announcement they will pay Rs 603.
Union Minster Anurag Thakur announced the Central government has hiked the subsidy amount for Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries from Rs 200 to Rs 300 per LPG cylinder on Wednesday. Anurag Thakur said the subsidy will bring an additional financial implication of Rs 7680 crore for the financial year 2023-24.
Ujjwala beneficiaries are paying Rs 703 per 14.2 cylinder as against the market price of Rs 903. After this announcement they will pay Rs 603. The decision has been made one month after the central government reduced the price of the price of cylinders for domestic cooking gas by Rs 200 for all customers.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) was launched by PM Modi on May 1, 2016 in UP’s Ballia. The scheme aims to provide cooking gas like LPG to the people of rural India. The scheme focuses on offering LPG connections to women from disadvantaged groups, forest dwellers, Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), SC/ST communities and BPL households.
The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of PMUY for release of 75 lakh LPG connections over three years from the financial year 2023-24 to 2025-26. The 75 lakh additional Ujjwala connections take total number of PMUY beneficiaries to Rs 10.35 crore.
The decision to give additional subsidies for Ujjawala beneficiaries has come ahead upcoming elections in Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Congress has repeatedly attacked the BJP government at the centre as it is an important issue. It was also a part of BJP’s election campaign in 2014 when Congress was in power at the centre. The decision has been taken by the Union government at a time when domestic LPG cylinders are available at a retail price of Rs 1103 per LPG cylinder.
Rasabali: Famous sweet dish of Odisha’s Kendrapara district gets GI tag
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took to X (formerly twitter) and said it is a matter of pride for Odisha to get the GI tag for Kendrapara Rasabali. Patnaik added Rasabali has special importance to tradition and food culture of Odisha.
The Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai under the ministry of Commerce and industry gave the GI tag to the sweet dish, which is known as Kendrapara Rasabali. Kendrapara Rasabali Mistanna Nirmata Sangha and the rural infrastructure development and employment department had applied for GI tag for Rasabali. They had submitted the supporting documents to the registry.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took to X (formerly twitter) and said it is a matter of pride for Odisha to get the GI tag for Kendrapara Rasabali. Patnaik added Rasabali has special importance to tradition and food culture of Odisha. The origin of the sweet dish is from the 262 year old Sree Baladevjew temple. The presiding diety of the shrine is offered Rasabali as bhog. Rasabali finds its place among the chappan bhog at Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri.
The tag is a matter of pride for the sweetmakers. The recognition gives the product its own identity and image. Baishnab Panda, president of Kendrapara Rasabali Makers association was delighted and said the sweet will get better exposure now. Kendrapara’s Rasabali is one of the most delicious sweets in India. But it is not getting marketed properly due to poor export facilities and poor promotion.
Kendrapara Rasabali Mistanna Nirmata Sangh had prepared a dossier in the year 2021 in order to claim geographical identification tag for the sweetdish. Basudev Das a researcher of Kendrapara said the request had been submitted to the state government. The government further forwarded the request to the office of Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai.
The GI tag will help Kendrapara Rasabali to get more prominence in the market. This will in turn help the makers to fetch a better price for the sweetdish. According to NandaKishore Parida This GI certification will help in stopping the adulteration of Kendrapara Rasabali. As a result the sweet dish will fetch better prices in the market.