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'Testing times' for NDA, AAP: Exam fiascos plague Modi govt 3.0, Kejriwal suffers another setback

Last Updated : 22 June 2024, 05:28 IST

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Hello readers. DH is back with another edition of Political Theatre—your one-stop guide to this week's political developments.

The week began on an eventful note, with the row over NEET-UG 2024 reaching a fever pitch, and the drama was sustained over the course of the week, as myriad issues snowballed into political slugfests. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was, for the most part, in the spotlight as well, having wrapped up a major international trip, and with the Opposition targeting him over the exam fiascos.

So, without further delay, let's take a look at this week's developments.

Raining on Kejriwal's parade

After extreme heat killed dozens of people in the national capital, Delhi received rains this week. But what came as a relief for Delhiites on Friday afternoon was perhaps an indication for what lay in store for Chief Minister Kejriwal, who saw the trial court order granting him bail overturned by the Delhi High Court later in the day, based on an appeal by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink

With the Delhi water crisis worsening over the week, Water Minister Atishi shot off a warning to PM Modi, threatening a fast if Haryana didn't release water to Delhi. When the warning fell on deaf ears and as rains brought relief to the parched capital, Atishi proceeded to do what she had vowed, and began an indefinite hunger strike on Friday afternoon.

Testing authority fails its only test

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Amid mounting pressure over the alleged 'irregularities' in NEET-UG and following the cancellation of the UGC-NET, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan this week took "moral responsibility" for what he said was an "institutional failure" of the National Testing Agency (NTA), a body set up with the sole mandate of conducting pan-India competitive examinations. A misnomer or just an isolated incident? We'll let you decide.

Out of sight, but not out of mind

Although Pradhan took responsibility for said "failure" of the NTA, the Congress did not pass up the chance to take a swipe at PM Modi.

Crediting the Prime Minister with "stopping the war" in Russia and Ukraine (an oblique dig at Modi's comments after the G7 summit), Gandhi family scion Rahul wondered out loud how a PM capable of resolving complex international disputes failed to see what was happening in his own backyard.

As Modi returned to Varanasi after the LS polls and announced the return of his Mann Ki Baat series, Jairam Ramesh, active as ever on X, took the opportunity to ask Modi whether he would "Leak pe Speak".

Modi, of course, did not, and opted instead to relax with some yoga to mark International Yoga Day.

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Wayward in Wayanad

After weeks of indecision, this week also saw Rahul Gandhi finally take his pick between Raebareli and Wayanad. As Rahul picked Raebareli, Congress chose to leave Wayanad for Priyanka, who will now make her electoral debut from the Kerala seat. The decision, of course, did not go down well with the BJP, which accused Rahul of betraying the very people who voted for him.

Elon-gate

Far away from the political hustle and bustle of India, mercurial billionaire Elon Musk this week (perhaps unintentionally) ignited a storm in the country, merely by mentioning electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The Tesla chief's comment on the risks of EVMs drew politicians in like moths to a flame, sparking a full-blown war of words between the Opposition and the ruling camp. Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, who had on several occasions sided with the BJP, also joined in on the din, but sided with the Opposition this time, favouring paper ballots. It should be noted Jagan saw his party's seat count decrease from 151 in 2019 to a mere 21 in this year's Assembly polls. Not that we're saying it had anything to do with his comments.

The mother (?!) of the 'Mother of Democracy'

In perhaps an unexpected assault on months of careful narrativising by the Prime Minister, BJP leader Suresh Gopi, the first one ever from the saffron camp to win a Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, reportedly blurted out that Indira Gandhi was the "mother of Bharat". He, however, promptly revised his comments, attributing the quote to a "misrepresentation" by the media born out of a lack of understanding of the "contextual meaning of language".

Gimme fuel, gimme fire

Closer home, in Karnataka, a hike in fuel prices set the stage for an eventful week of politics, with the BJP and the Congress going at each other's throats over the price hike.

Not impressed by the BJP's repeated threats to hold protests over the price hike, Home Minister Parameshwara, in as many words, told the saffron party that its activists would be caned if they dared to protest. But they did dare, and there was no caning, at least as far as we know.

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As tensions simmered over the fuel price hike, the Congress government's plan to monetise large chunks of land to generate revenue for its guarantee schemes drew flak from the BJP, which panned the grand old party for allegedly setting fire to the state's finances.

Hooch gives Stalin hiccups

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Tamil Nadu this week was gripped by a major tragedy, with at least 48 people losing their lives after consuming illicit liquor.

Even as the tragedy unfolded, the issue was quickly politicised, with the Opposition AIADMK calling for Stalin's resignation over the issue.

Stalin, for his part, assured that the government was taking strict action and would deal promptly with "anti-social elements" behind the illicit liquor trade.

Holier than thou

Modi's biological origins had already come under question during the Lok Sabha polls, when the Prime Minister himself declared that he had been sent by God for a purpose, something that several BJP leaders had claimed long before.

So, when PM Modi met Pope Francis during the G7 Summit, the Congress was quick to pay its respects to the 'divine' PM: "Finally, the Pope got a chance to meet God!," tweeted the grand old party, much to the ire of the BJP and Christians alike. The party tendered an unconditional apology soon after.

Global gazette

Meeting the Pope wasn't the only highlight from the Prime Minister's G7 trip.

After thrilling the world with a much-anticipated #Melodi reel with Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, Modi (perhaps expectedly for some) took centre stage in the G7 family photo.

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Amid strained ties with the US and Canada over alleged meddling in foreign affairs, the PM's visit to the Summit, where he batted for the Global South, reportedly encouraged Canadian PM Trudeau to engage more with India.

Days later, however, the Canadian Parliament observed a moment's silence for slain Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, and even allowed pro-Khalistan activists in Vancouver to stage a mock trial of the Indian PM, much to New Delhi's ire.

Parallelly, India took part in the Ukraine peace summit organised in Switzerland, but along with six other countries, refused to endorse any joint communique, insisting that Russia be made party to any resolution.

Having been left out of the Switzerland summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin turned his eye eastwards this week, inking a strategic pact with North Korea before making a brief stop in Vietnam.

US officials led by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, took a trip to India and met the Dalai Lama, prompting China to raise strong objections. Stay away from the "Dalai clique" warned Beijing, even as Pelosi took an outright dig at President Xi Jinping.

That wraps up the major ongoings in the world of politics this week. Catch us next week as we bring you all the drama from the first Lok Sabha session under Modi govt 3.0.

Exit stage left,

DH Newsletters Team

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Published 22 June 2024, 05:28 IST

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