Get Wired 22/6: Bihar NDA in Trouble, Peepli Director Booked, Lothal in Shambles, and More

1. Trouble for the NDA in Bihar

Upendra Kushwaha. PTI

Upendra Kushwaha. PTI

Ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) – a part of the BJP-led NDA – has declared party leader and Union Minister of State Upendra Kushwaha as its Chief Ministerial nominee, leaving the BJP embarrassed.

In what appears to be another setback to the NDA in the upcoming elections, the Ramvilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has warned the BJP not to give tickets to five “rebel” MLAs from Janata Dal (United) who exited the party along with ex-Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. Paswan says the LJP will never accept those MLAs, since they thad once backstabbed him to join JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar.

2. Director of Peepli Live arrested

Following a complaint of rape by an American Research scholar, the police have arrested Mahmood Farooqui, co-director of the movie Peepli Live. The survivor is a PhD scholar from Columbia University who had come to India for fieldwork. Based on her allegation,  the police have charged Farooqui under section 376 of the IPC. He has been sent to 14 days judicial custody, while the survivor’s statement has been recorded in front of a court. Farooqui’s wife, Anusha Rizvi has proclaimed his innocence.

3. RSS annoyed with Indresh for LaMo statement

Indresh Kumar. PTI

Indresh Kumar. PTI

The RSS leadership is reportedly annoyed with Indresh Kumar, a senior functionary of the ‘cultural’ organisation, for wading into the Lalit Modi- Sushma Swaraj controversy last week.

Indresh had defended Swaraj’s actions, saying that since she was a nationalist, her actions would not have hurt the country.

The RSS, which claims to be an apolitical body, was upset not with the statement itself, but with the fact that Indresh chose to comment at all. The Sangh’s policy has been to articulate its views only when necessary and through persons designated for this purpose.

4. ‘Lothal, City of Death’ lies in shambles

Lothal , Gujarat. Photo: Emmanuel Dyan, CC 2.0

Lothal , Gujarat. Photo: Emmanuel Dyan, CC 2.0

‘Lothal’ the remains of a 4,400 year-old city of the Harrapan civilization, is in shambles and lies completely neglected because of the  lack of funds.

The ancient city, whose remnants lie scattered 74 kms from Ahmedabad, has no guards to protect it, leading to pilferage of stones.

Visitors, especially students, come from all over India to see the site and visit the museum containing Harrapan artefacts, but a fund crunch has meant Lothal lies neglected. No further excavation is being carried out either. Excavations in 1955 and 1962 had led to the discovery of skeletons in the Lothal cemetery, which is now inaccessible due to weeds.

5. MJ Akbar gets RS ticket

Senior journalist and BJP national spokesperson MJ Akbar was chosen ahead of other contenders by the BJP as its candidate for the by-election to a Raya Sabha seat from Jharkhand. The by-poll was necessitated by the resignation of Kanwar Deep Singh, and BJP president Amit Shah decided Akbar would be the party’s candidate. If he wins, this will not be his first time in parliament. In 1989, the former editor was elected  to the Lok Sabha from Kishanganj in Bihar on a Congress ticket. He quit politics in 1992 and returned to journalism full time, only to join the BJP before the 2014 elections.

6. RSS wants Ram temple as UP poll issue for 2017

babri masjid demolition - PTI_0The RSS has stated that it expects the government to act on its promise of building a Ram temple at the site of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya. The ancient mosque was demolished by vandals mobilised by the sangh parivar in December 1992. RSS  Sarsanghchalak, or chief, Mohan Bhagwat said in Varanasi on Sunday that although the government may have its political difficulties, it is also true that they received the mandate of the people to build the temple in Ayodhya and the people expected the government to deliver. The RSS said it will continue to pressure the government on the matter, saying that the issue should be brought to the forefront in the run up to the 2017 UP elections.

7. Israel minister’s wife tweets racist Obama joke

Jody Shalom Nir Mozes, wife of senior Israeli minister Silvan Shalom,  tweeted a racist joke about American president Barrack Obama, on Sunday only to delete it following outrage on Twitter. Mozes’s tweet, which several users took screenshots of, read, “Do you know what Obama coffee is? Black and weak.” Mozes had earlier courted controversy when at Unicef she posted messages on Facebook referring to Palestinians as people who feed hate to their children.

8. Calcutta HC reaffirms press freedom

The division bench of the Calcutta High Court, which includes the chief justice, has refused to act against certain press reports that had surfaced regarding a chit funds matter that was ongoing in the court. The West Bengal state counsel urged the judges to act against news agencies that had misquoted the court, but the judges refused. One of the judges was quoted as saying, “There is freedom of press in our country. I won’t issue any notice to the media. I have made my observation, the press has done their duty. There will be no notice.” She added, “It is not my duty to clarify my words to everyone.” The press had reportedly quoted the chief justice’s comments on the bad investment environment in the state of West Bengal.

9. Sarkari revolving door hurts RTI?

CIC Vijai Sharma. PTI

CIC Vijai Sharma. PTI

As India completes a decade of implementation of the RTI Act, a study conducted by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative reveals that 25 of the 29 information commissions (including the Central Information Commission, now led by Vijai Sharma) are headed by retired bureaucrats. This trend is a complete violation of the Supreme Court’s advice in its 2013 judgment in the Namit Sharma case. Furthermore, the number of vacant posts in the various state information commissions and pending cases has been on rise. The CHRI sees the numbers as indication that these commissions have now become an extension of the government itself.