After Huge Victory in Karnataka, Congress Grapples With Choosing Chief Minister; UK Tabloid Says Modi Supporters Stoked Last Year’s Hindu-Muslim Riots in Leicester
Karnataka DGP new CBI director, Adani to raise ₹21,000 crore, retiring SC judge doesn’t regret praising Modi, India’s largest meth haul, SC judgments mark federal renaissance
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia, Tanweer Alam and Pratik Kanjilal | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Vinay Pandey
Snapshot of the day
May 15, 2023
As choosing the chief minister has become an acid test for the Congress after its massive victory in the Karnataka assembly elections, the party high command reportedly summoned former chief minister Siddaramaiah to New Delhi on Monday. Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president DK Shivakumar, the other strong contender for the chief minister’s post, was also expected to reach New Delhi by evening. He is celebrating his 62nd birthday on Monday. The Indian Express reports that Congress is in a dilemma as Shivakumar has dug in his heels and a pact for tenure sharing has fallen apart.
In the Karnataka assembly elections, the Congress trumped the BJP in a win reminiscent of Delhi in 2015 and West Bengal in 2020, when the Modi-Shah heat was pushed right back by single parties. But it is not as if all is well suddenly with democracy in India. Seema Chishti has this 10-point aide-memoire for concerned citizens.
The Karnataka results remind us that the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are not yet a done deal. It can safely be said that with the loss in Karnataka, the saffron party’s poor run continues, points out Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta. Since 2019, ever since Narendra Modi’s second term as Prime Minister began, the BJP has lost Bihar, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Maharashtra – until it broke the Shiv Sena to come back to power – and now, Karnataka.
With the defeat in Karnataka, the BJP’s footprint has shrunk further. The Indian Union has 30 assemblies (28 states and two Union territories with legislature). After the Karnataka defeat, the BJP is now in power only in half of these – 15, points out Shoaib Daniyal. Of these, only 7 are major states with populations more than 1 crore.
While the overall Karnataka assembly results were clear pretty early in the day on Saturday, there was one Bengaluru constituency where drama continued well into the night – Jayanagar. Around 1am, BJP candidate CK Ramamurthy was declared the winner by just 16 votes. The BJP says it was a fair election, but the Congress says its candidate, Sowmya Reddy, was defeated by violating election rules.
The seasoned political scientist, Suhas Palshikar has been making some profound observations on the Karnataka election results on social media. Sample this: “A genuine question: Should we or should we not hype the South motif? After all, the Hindu Munnani emerged in TN long ago, the RSS cadres have been strong in Kerala for long and Sriram Sene played havoc in Karnataka preparing the ground for BJP to take over.”
Following the victory of the Congress in the Karnataka elections, a video of an Islamic flag being waved during celebrations went viral. The video is said to have been shot in Bhatkal in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. Several influential people, noticeably aligned with the right wing, have shared the clip indicating that the particular flag symbolised inevitable doom for the state with the Congress coming to power. A saffron flag with the Hindu religious symbol ૐ and a blue flag with Dr BR Ambedkar’s face, indicating Dalit resistance, can also be seen being waved alongside the Islamic flag in the viral video. But contrary to certain claims, the saffron flag was not replaced with an Islamic flag.
Praveen Sood, Karnataka DGP, will be the next CBI director. His name was finalised on Saturday by a three-member panel comprising Prime Minister Modi, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and leader of the opposition (Congress) in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, reports the Hindu. Chowdhury is learnt to have given a note of dissent against Sood’s name as it was not among the names originally shortlisted for the top job. In March, Congress leader DK Shivakumar had accused Sood of being a stooge of the BJP government in Karnataka.
The CBI filed an FIR against former Narcotics Control Bureau officer Sameer Wankhede for allegedly seeking a bribe of ₹25 crore for not framing Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan in the drugs-on-cruise case. Aryan Khan was arrested in the alleged drug bust case in October 2021.
Indian farmers, grappling with the pressures of climate change, are desperately striving to break free from debt and the alarming rates of suicide. The Context reports how these climate-stressed people are seeking avenues for relief and support amid their challenging circumstances.
India-based BJP activists are suspected to have stoked last year’s violent Hindu-Muslim clashes in Leicester, the Mail on Sunday reported, quoting “UK security sources”. Messages and memes posted by these activists were widely circulated on WhatsApp groups among Hindus in Leicester, the sources told the tabloid. Separately, a report by the US-based Network Contagion Research Institute also showed evidence of bot farms operating out of India retweeting messages on the Leicester disturbances on an industrial scale.
The Modi government has denied that it is seeking wholesale repatriation of cultural property extracted by Britain from India during colonial times. Reacting to a report, “India to force Britain into colonial ‘reckoning’ with treasure demands”, in the Telegraph, London, the government said that while it was seeking the restitution of artefacts taken from India, the report was a “significant overstatement” in terms of how it portrays the government and its approach to the UK. The Telegraph report said New Delhi was preparing to make “the largest repatriation claim faced by the UK, on a scale that would dwarf Greece’s demands for the Elgin Marbles”.
“Pakistan is always in crisis but in the past we’ve had one crisis or another, never altogether like this, nor with such divisions in key institutions,” Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, tells the Times, London. “It’s hard to see any hope on the horizon when, instead of focusing on the dire economic situation which should be the priority, the leaders are once again embroiled in vendettas and this ego-based fight to the bottom.”
Looking to move past the crisis triggered by the Hindenburg report, two Adani Group companies have decided to raise ₹21,000 crore, or $2.6 billion, through Qualified Institutional Placement or other modes, Bloomberg reported. According to stock exchange filings, Adani Enterprises Ltd plans to raise ₹12,500 crore and Adani Transmission Ltd ₹8,500 crore. Shareholder approval will be sought in due course, both the companies said in their filings. Adani Green Energy Ltd is also said to be mulling over a plan to raise funds. The company deferred its board meeting on Saturday to May 24, citing “certain exigencies”.
Meanwhile, market regulator SEBI told the Supreme Court on Monday that it had not probed any Adani Group company since 2016 as alleged by some of the petitioners who have sought a probe into the claims by the Hindenburg Research on the group. The bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud adjourned the hearing for Tuesday.
Narrating the life story of the recently killed criminal turned politician Atiq Ahmed, the author of India Is Broken, Ashoka Mody, writes: “Beneath the veneer of democracy in India, deeply undemocratic private and state behaviour has become the norm, and, not surprisingly, it is wedded to a refusal to reform India’s electoral and judicial systems. This ‘bad equilibrium’ seems impossible to undo. The repeated depiction of broken norms in Indian cinema speaks to the hopelessness, fears, and desire for retribution in a public exposed to capricious and unfair lives. Indian and international elites are eager to portray India as a modern country, embracing digital technologies and promoting high-value startups, but the country is racing to the precipice of a jungle raj.”
Justice MR Shah of the Supreme Court, who retired on Monday, is asked by an interviewer if he doesn’t think his earlier comments in praise of Prime Minister Modi violated the principle of separation of powers (the judge had called Modi “a model” and “a hero”). Justice Shah stands by his praise for Modi.
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