Off the record

 When the supreme court has paved the way for holding the panchayat election in accordance with Panchayat Raj Extension of Schedule Act (PESA), it has only come to spark off fresh bouts of protests in the state —largely by non-tribal and ‘moolvasis’ dwelling in this part of the country, virtually once again underscoring the fact that unexpected has become a norm in Jharkhand.

If Jharkhand, part of the erstwhile Bihar, has been bereft of panchayat bodies since 1978, the grassroots level democracy in the state still seems like a far-fetched dream in the wake of dithering stance of Soren government now.
Non-tribals and ‘moolvasis’, opposed to the holding election in accordance with PESA believe curtailment of their rights in local bodies and have, of lately, lodged their protest by enforcing bundh and economic blockades. As a result, 4,562 panchayats across 260 blocks of the state are all but moribund.

This apart, the absence of panchayat raj bodies has also made the state suffer on hundred of crores of Central assistance that accrue to the state to strengthen PRI.
Will the dream of panchayat raj ever crystallise into reality in Jharkhand?
Sandeep Bhaskar, Ranchi

Latecomer Gadkari
Though BJP leaders are happy about their president Nitin Gadkari’s style of functioning, their concerns are his time schedule.
Gadkari is always a latecomer for all meetings, whether it is party workers rally or leaders meeting. The reason is, Gadkari works till late in the night and wakes up late in the morning.
During the party’s mammoth rally against price rise at Delhi recently, Gadkari fainted on the dais. His aides blamed on lack of sleep the previous night for his collapse in the public function.
Even Gadkari’s interaction with the Editors Guild in Delhi had to be cancelled a couple of weeks ago after the scribes decided to leave the venue when he did not turn up even after waiting for one and a half hours.
The BJP baiters are now joking that Gadkari, an old RSS worker, will do away with the saffron party’s slogan “most disciplined organisation”.
Ajith Athrady, New Delhi

Cell-shocked
Soon after it became public that the phones of four senior political leaders, including Bihar chief minister, were being tapped, Nitish was seen fretting and fuming.
Usually a calm and composed man, Nitish, however, lost his cool when a battery of newsmen asked him to react about the report published in a magazine which said that the Bihar strongman had called up his colleague in New Delhi seeking his help to lobby with the Planning Commission for more funds for Bihar, particularly in the wake of Kosi flood disaster.
“Who gave them the right to tap my phone,” a visibly annoyed Nitish shot back. “This reminds me of the situation in 1975 when Congress was ruling at the Centre. An attempt was made during the Emergency days to crush the democratic values. In 2010, a similar attempt is being made again and everybody should oppose any such move,” he thundered.
Regaining his composure, Nitish added, “What kind of problem a chief minister like me can create for them? On what issues were they tapping my phone? It’s a very dangerous trend in a democracy.”
But one person who could not hide his glee was his bete noire Lalu Prasad, who called up the Bihar CM and asked him not to worry if he had done no wrong. “Agar ghabra rahe ho, toh daal mein kuch kala hai. (If you are perturbed, then there is something fishy),” the witty RJD strongman remarked amid peals of laughter.
Abhay Kumar, Patna

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