Tamil Nadu held its breath as AIADMK Members of the Legislative Assembly get ready to elect their next Chief Minister. The contenders for the post is the interim Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam and his rival V.K.Sasikala. The clear majority of legislators, MPs and party office-bearers, it would appear, belong to the Sasikala camp. A headcount among MLAs showed that 125-130 had pledged their support to her, while remaining five stood behind Panneerselvam. Susequently some amomg them had crodded over Panneerselvan.
Tamil Nadu Governor C.Vidyasagar Rao will oversee the election, then confirm the verdict. The excitement cooled somewhat with the news that the election would be deferred until the Supreme Court of India had passed judgment on a case pending against Sasikala. The prospect of wielding power usually gives rise to a feeding frenzy associated with sharks.(Hindu February 9, 11, 12)
Elsewhere in Punjab and Goa the State Assembly polls went off peacefully, with a high 70 plus percent casting their ballots in the former and around 83 percent in the latter. The counting results will be known in mid-March, when polling in Uttar Pradesh will have ended and the simultaneous announcement of the three results. Meanwhile the first round of elections in Uttar Pradesh – India’s largest and most populous State - passed off peacefully.
Bengal chaos continues
The one thing one has to concede about West Bengal politics is the scale of its unpredictability. With a maverick Chief Minister in Mamata Banerjee unexpected events appear to ambush the media every hour of the day. The State’s Advocate General Jayanta Mitra – the senior-most law officer – tendered his resignation, which was followed by his top colleagues in the legal team. Mitra is a well respected figure in legal circles, but after two years in the job he decided wisely that he had had enough, preferring hereon to concentrate on his more rewarding private practice as barrister.(Telegraph February 8).
Dismal Uttar Pradesh record
Uttar Pradesh is on the cusp of State Assembly elections, hence a recently published report makes dismal reading. With a population numbering 200 million, it is, says the writer M. Ramesh, is riven by caste loyalties, soaring crime and hobbled by low economic and social development, notwithstanding the beguiling urbanity of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav – who may conceivably win a second term. Yadav took the reins of office in March 2012 but every parameter of social and economic development it appears to be at the bottom of the pile.
According to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, UP ranks 14 th among states in 2016, from the 10 th position it held in the previous year. Data reveals that UP, with the third largest number of households earning an average monthly income of less than Rs 5,000 puts it behind Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. It has the dismal characteristics common to the Indo-Gangetic plain (Business Line February 10).
Surgical strike men honoured
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated for the umpteenth time that Indo-Pakistan ties cannot be normalized until India agreed to a Kashmir settlement on the lines proposed by Islamabad and its separatist allies in the Kashmir Valley. This was the ‘unfinished business of Partition’, said Sharif. Husain Haqqani, distinguished Pakistani historian and former ambassador to the US, and noiw an exiled academic in the country, has long held that the folly of Islamabad’s zero sum game on the subject was unlikely to yield the desired results.
If proof be needed, the Times of India published a substantial report on the Republic Day honours list, which included the leading Army commandos responsible for the surgical strike on jihadi bases in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir. It was a dusk-to-dawn operation of raw courage and brilliant planning. Different teams fanned out across the territory in valleys and jungle to strike their targets with deadly precision. Prime Minister Sharif and the bombastic jihadi fraternity must understand that India is prepared for the long haul, and that the Partition file, with the creation of Pakistan, was closed in August 1947 (Times of India February 9).
Sabotage rail bid foiled
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu divulged disturbing news that 18 attempts had been made to derail Rajdhani Express which links Delhi to Dibrugarh had the fishplates removed, the discovery made in the nick of time, thus preventing a serious accident. The minister told Parliament that 18 attempts had been made at sabotage of rail track in Bihar. (Times of India February 9).
Tata Steel in profit
Tata Steel posted its first net profit in five quarters, thanks to a robust performance in the December quarter by its Indian business, buoyed by a tailwind of high demand. To interpret this as a sign of industrial revival would not be inaccurate. Tata profit was Rs230.90 crore (Mint February 8).
RBI refrains from rate cut
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has ended the rate cut cycle because of fears about inflation. The RBI’s Monetary Committee headed by Governor Dr Urjit Patel, decided unanimously that the policy emphasis from ‘accommodation’ to ‘neutral’, hence left the repo rate 6.25 per cent untouched. This means that the RBI is unlikely to make a rate cut anytime soon (Mint February 9).
ISRO signals from Earth to space
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said that its Telemetry and Tele-Command Processor (TTCP) had been successfully developed and that its manufacture is to be undertaken soon in collaboration with Indian industry. The processor replaces expensive imported equipment. The TTCP will be used to integrate spacecraft testing of low earth orbit and interplanetary spacecraft. The new processor will be deployed for the first time to check-out the GSAT-19 satellite. (Business Line February 9).
Maruti leads the way
Maruti Suzuki has established a niche in the small car market, but in the last nine months it has been creating waves in the mid-sized sedan with its Ciaz, the compact SUV with the Vitara Brezza, and the premier hatchback with the Baleno. According to industry data, Ciaz has outsold competitors such as Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid but also clocked the best growth in the SUV segment. The company’s network of showrooms and superior purchase experience, say auto analysts, have put Maruti Suzuki ahead of of the game. (Times of India February 7).
Long arm of ISI terrorism
When the Islamic State operatives at headquarters in the Middle East identified a potential terror recruit faraway in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, they got down to work on teaching their charges in the skills of bomb making and related systems to sow death and destruction. For 17 months the IS handler guided his pupil, a young engineer named Ibrahim Yazdani through every step in what was planned as the first ISI strike in India. Instructions were camouflaged in talk about food but detectives saw through the ruse and started wiretapping conversations and arrested their man. The tentacles of international jihadi terrorism have reached India (Telegraph February 6).
Jihadi youths leave India on terror trail
A group of Kerala youth have left India to conduct terrorist operations, possibly in Afghanistan, according to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). At least two men, Mohammed Sajid Kuthirrummal (25) and Murshid Mohammad (24) left Mumbai for Abu Dhabi on a Jet Airways flight. Their movements were tracked to Iran , after which they disappeared from the radar (Hindu February 7).
Cairn India Report card
Cairn India has reported a net profit of Rs 604 crore for the third quarter of the current fiscal (October-December 2016). This was 1,376 per cent better than the Rs 40 crore of the previous third quarter of the previous fiscal. The oil and gas major said that its proposed merger with Vedanta Ltd was approved by shareholders and that the transaction should be completed next month (Business Line February 10).
ABB India bags record orders
Power and automation company ABB India received its highest-ever orders worth Rs 12,000 crore in 2016 – a 54 per cent jump from the previous year, said Sanjeev Sharma, the company’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. ABB India’s biggest order involves the construction of a 1,830 km transmission link between Rajgarh in Chaattisgarh and Pugalur in Tamil Nadu. ‘The project will meet the electricity needs of 80 million people, said Sanjeev Sharma (Hindfu February 10).
India request for Mallya’s extradition
India has made a formal request to Britain for the extradition of Indian businessman Vijay Mallya. Bangalore-based Mallya’s extensive business empire from airlines, collapsed with vast unpaid financial liabilities. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has brought serious charges against the absconding businessman, who owns prime properties in the UK. His case is before a court in India, before which Mallya should stand trial.(Times of India, Hindu, February 10).
Mistry out of Tata Sons
Cyrus Mistry the 48 year-old former chairman of the Tata Group, has been removed as director of the holding company, Tata Sons. Shareholders voted him out with the required majority. Mistry’s removal as director of Tata Sons was the last position he held in the Tata Group. He has steadily lost ground in his bitter attritional dispute with Ratan Tata, whom Mistry succeeded as Chairman of the Tata Group. (Telegraph February 7).