Archives  >  2019  >  October  >  25th

BJP, Bruised

1. What’s the story?

Haryana and Maharashtra’s election results are out, and it seems like the exit polls were wrong. Though BJP and its allies finished with the largest number of seats, it did suffer serious setbacks in both states. According to experts, this may just be the first time after the Lok Sabha elections that the BJP juggernaut has come to a halt.  

Tell me more.

BJP has won 40 out of the 90 available seats in Haryana – well short of the halfway mark of 45. Contrary to all expectations, a resurgent Congress under the leadership of Bhupinder Singh Hooda has claimed 31 seats – more than double of its tally of 14 in the last elections.

BJP has fallen well short of a comfortable majority in Maharashtra as well. It has won 105 out of the available 288 seats by itself. Shiv Sena has increased its seat tally to 56 – indicating that it might get a stronger say within the power distribution within its alliance with BJP. Sharad Pawar’s NCP has managed to bag 54 seats – increasing its 2014 numbers by 13 even with enforcement agencies against him. Pawar’s last-minute push is widely being seen as one of the reasons behind BJP’s setback. 

In Haryana, the general consensus is that Manohar Lal Khattar’s BJP Government “…has not done particularly well…”over the past five years.

“The general consensus about the Haryana administration over the past five years is that it has not done particularly well, aside from some government recruitment that took place without the traditional corrupt methods.

On the flip-side, there have been several instances where governance – particularly of the law-and-order sort – has very publicly failed, most prominently in the Jat agitation of 2016 and the Dera Sacha Sauda protests in 2017. On those occasions, the state machinery almost seemed paralysed until the Centre jumped in to restore the peace.”

According to experts, voter fatigue and the inability of strong nationalism to win votes might also be responsible for BJP’s defeats. 

“For one, all parties in Haryana tend to be much more nationalist and pro-army, so there is less of a gap between them than in other states. But the BJP – which got a whopping 58% of the vote share in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year – looks on track to grab just 36% or so in Assembly, a huge drop for the same party in the same year.”

So, what now?

It is a testament to BJP’s phenomenal power that, despite emerging as the party with the largest number of seats in this election, the results are still being framed as their loss. BJP may have lost a few seats, but the Opposition parties have a long way to go to match up to even a “losing” BJP. 

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated. 

2. Where else should I keep my eyes on?

The Goanese coastline, that’s where. An unmanned tanker, holding a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture, has begun drifting towards the coast of Panaji — Goa’s capital. 

“The tanker was anchored at the Mormugao Port Trust in South Goa. The tanker started to drift after strong winds and a rough current caused its anchor line to break.

According to the Indian Coast Guard, the Port Trust authorities are in the process of stopping the 3,000 ton tanker from drifting further towards the state capital. Attempts are on to tow the tanker back to its berth at Mormugao Port Trust.”

On top of all this, the Indian Meteorological Department has issued a red alert in this area due to the possibility of heavy rainfall in the region from Friday. 

Let’s keep our fingers crossed, y’all. 

3. What more?

After a lengthy negotiation period, India and Pakistan have finally signed the agreement regarding the Kartarpur corridor. The Kartarpur corridor leads to the Darbar Sahib, the shrine of Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur — that is situated within the boundaries of present-day Pakistan. There’s a catch to all this, though. “...about two weeks before the first jatha of pilgrims from India travels to Kartarpur Sahib, about 4 km across the International Border, however, there has been no progress on resolving the disagreement over a $20 fee that Pakistan intends to levy on each traveller.

India has been asking Pakistan to waive the $20 fee — however, Mohammad Faisal, Foreign Office spokesperson and DG (South Asia and SAARC), who signed the agreement for Pakistan, insisted Thursday that the fee was “very nominal”.

Pakistan has made the levy a part of the Memorandum of Understanding that the two countries have signed. The fee has triggered a political controversy within India, and Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has called the fee a “jazia” tax on pilgrims.”

With no end to this disagreement in sight, only time will tell whether this becomes a key point of contention between the two countries.

4. Anything else?

We’re in the midst of a climate emergency, and, surprisingly enough, the biggest culprit in this worldwide decay of the environment may just be the fast fashion industry. According to a new report, the fashion industry produces 10% of all of humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. It is also one of the biggest polluters of the ocean — filling earth’s water bodies with microplastics. (Quick recap: Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic that pollute the environment. Microplastics are not a specific kind of plastic, but rather any type of plastic fragment that is less than 5 mm in length.)

“As consumers worldwide buy more clothes, the growing market for cheap items and new styles is taking a toll on the environment. On average, people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than they did in 2000. Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. 

What’s more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean. 

The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second. In total, about 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. That is enough to fill the Sydney harbor annually. 

Washing clothes, meanwhile, releases 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. Many of these fibers are polyester … that releases almost three times more carbon emissions than cotton, and does not break down in the ocean.”

5. Is that all?

Canada recently had its federal elections, where Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party managed to form the minority government — with Trudeau holding on to his seat. Interestingly enough, Trudeau’s newly elected Parliament has 18 Sikh leaders — five more than in India

“As many as 18 Sikhs were voted to the Canadian Parliament in the recently-concluded federal elections. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday won a second term after his Liberal Party secured 157 of 338 seats. However, Trudeau will lead a minority government as his party failed to secure the majority of 170. The main opposition, the conservatives, secured 121 seats.

The number of Sikhs in the Canadian Parliament’s lower house, the House of Commons, is higher than those in India’s Lok Sabha even though Sikhs make up about 2% of the population in both countries, The Times of India reported on Wednesday. India has 13 MPs in the Lower House.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at how the iconic French comic series Asterix and Obelix celebrated its 60th birthday on 24th October by introducing its first main female character, Adrénaline.

“Asterix, the short but plucky Gaul forever outwitting the Romans, yesterday/THURS made way for the first female hero in the popular comic book’s 60-year history.

The latest volume ‘Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter’ stars Adrénaline, the rebellious teenage daughter of Vercingetorix, king of the Gauls.
She dreams of making the world a better place, dresses like a Goth, and exasperates Asterix and his companion Obelix with her moodiness and idealism.

Jean-Yves Ferri, the writer, acknowledges similarities between Adrénaline and Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage environmental activist, but insists that “it’s a pure coincidence”. 

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