Modi Cabinet 3.0 solidifies as NEET row reaches boiling point; quest for peace continues to haunt Kashmir

Last Updated : 15 June 2024, 05:22 IST

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Hello dear readers! As is the norm, DH is back with yet another edition of Political Theatre, where we round-up the key happenings from the world of politics, and its outskirts. The dust seems to have settled after more than one and a half months of India's grand electoral melee, an epic tussle for power, the main-event showdown for bragging rights - also known as the festival of democracy. Or has it?

If the Lok Sabha election saga that ended on June 4 with the announcement of the results was the climax of a page-turner, it was time for the much anticipated epilogue this week - the formation of the new Cabinet at the Centre. Besides, TDP's return back to power in Andhra Pradesh and BJP forming the government for the first time in Odisha also grabbed the headlines.

But hang on, there were more on this week's menu! So without further delay, let's take a look at the events that stirred up this week's political potpourri:

Let's open the Cabinet door

Modi 3.0 is officially underway with the formation of the new Cabinet - the core of which, barring a few alterations, remains rather unchanged. To begin with, a number of heavyweight BJP ministers from the previous term have maintained their 'weight' by retaining their portfolios. Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar are still in charge of their respective ministries - namely, Home, Defence, Finance and External Affairs.

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Other notable faces include Nitin Gadkari, who retains the Road and Transport and Highways ministry; Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who will handle both Agriculture and Rural Development ministries; and Manohar Lal Khattar, who will now be at the helm of Urban Affairs, as well as Power ministries.

BJP President J P Nadda is back in the Cabinet and has been made in charge of the Health and Family Welfare as well as Chemicals and Fertilizers ministries.

Amid all the buzz surrounding the revelation of the Union Cabinet, a huge controversy rocked the nation, leading to dissent, protests and allegations.

Not as NEET?

Reports of major discrepancies in this year's National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate) or NEET (UG) sparked a row that not only compelled hundreds of aspirants to come out in the streets to protest, but also fuelled tensions between the Centre and the opposition.

The Congress wasn't going to let go of this opportunity to take a swipe at Modi 3.0. Seeking a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into the NEET issue, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said, "Grace marks was not the only problem in NEET exam. There has been rigging, papers have been leaked, corruption has taken place. The future of 24 lakh students appearing in the NEET examination is at stake due to the actions of the Modi government".

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In response, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was quick to jump to the defence of the National Testing Agency (NTA), the body responsible for conducting the NEET exam. Giving a clean chit to the NTA, Pradhan said, "I want to remind the Congress that to prevent paper leak and to conduct a cheating-free exam, the Central Government has passed the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act this year, which has many strict provisions. Playing politics on the future of students is an old habit of Congress".

Speaking of old habits, it seems that the tradition of playing blame games is still the favourite activity of Indian political parties.

Terror-free paradise still a distant dream

A series of terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, including one on a bus in Reasi killing nine pilgrims, came as a tragic reminder of the constant struggle for peace in the region.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced to conduct a review meeting regarding the terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, which was attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval among other officials. The PM reportedly called for the deployment of the "full spectrum of counter-terror capabilities".

Expressing concern over the sudden attacks, Congress demanded answers from the central government regarding the safety of security of the region.

Change is in the air

Both the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha witnessed a change of guard in their respective state assembly elections, with new governments being formed this week.

In Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) returned back to power after defeating the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP, thereby enabling TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu to take oath as Andhra CM for the fourth time. JSP supremo Pawan Kalyan was named the Deputy CM.

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On the other hand, the 24-year reign of Naveen Patnaik-led BJD finally came to an end in Odisha, with the BJP coming to power for the first time ever in the state. Tribal leader and 4-time MLA Mohan Charan Majhi took charge as the new CM, ushering in a new regime under the saffron party in the state.

Yediyurappa flies to Delhi, lands in soup

Former Karnataka CM and senior BJP leader B S Yediyurappa was slapped with a non-bailable arrest warrant by a Bengaluru Court on June 13 in relation to a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) and sexual harassment case registered against him in March.

However, Yediyurappa reportedly went 'untraceable' from a location in New Delhi soon after the warrant was issued. The 81-year-old veteran politician is not going behind bars anytime soon after the Karnataka High Court directed the police not to arrest him and instead asked the former to be present before investigating officials for questioning on June 17.

The BJP, though, has labelled the arrest warrant against Yediyurappa as nothing but a political move by the Congress, in response to the defamation case filed against Rahul Gandhi by the saffron party.

Another Prajwal Revanna story on the cards? Only time will let.

Mending ties the only way to reach summit?

While attending the Outreach session of the G-7 summit in Apulia, southern Italy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met and had separate conversations with both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and US President Joe Biden.

Modi's meeting with Trudeau is all the more significant as it comes in the backdrop of a strained relationship between the two countries following the murder of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia, Canada last year.

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Similarly, the Modi-Biden meet and greet comes seven months after the US alleged the involvement of Indian spies in the murder attempt of Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York.

It will be interesting to see how India's bilateral ties with these North American countries shape up in the immediate future.

US court 'hunts' Biden's son

In another twist in the build-up to the US presidential elections set to be held in November this year, a jury in Wilmington, Delaware convicted Hunter Biden, the son of US president Joe Biden, in three felony counts of lying on a federal firearms application in 2018.

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Adding to the drama, this verdict comes just two weeks after the conviction of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in his much-talked-about hush money scandal.

That is all for this week, folks! Seven more days, and we meet again!

Exit Stage Left,

DH Newsletters Team

Published 15 June 2024, 05:22 IST

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