The U-turn sarkar

May 25, 2014: The then Delhi BJP chief Harsh Vardhan says that the first issue he will take up with the prime minister, if his party won the Lok Sabha polls, was the cause of granting full statehood to the capital city. The move, he said, would solve the problem of multiple authorities; he said the NDA had earlier tabled a relevant bill in Parliament but the successor UPA government had not followed up.

Harsh Vardhan’s predecessor Madan Lal Khurana had made a similar demand in 2003, coincidentally, again, just ahead of assembly elections. “The BJP leadership at the Centre says it is drafting a new Delhi Statehood Bill,” the article points out. “This is something it had done in 1998 as well, a few months before the assembly elections in November that year.”

November 29, 2017: Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that granting executive powers to the Delhi government will be “against the national interest”, and further said that a Union Territory cannot be raised to the level of a state.

Context and backstory comes via The Wire’s detailed backgrounder on the tussle for full ‘state’ status for the national capital. But the salient point is this: The BJP had won the most seats in the 2013 assembly elections; in the 2015 elections, it had its applecart upset by the AAP. In other words, the BJP is in favor of full statehood for the national capital, but only if it gets to run the government. Else, it is perfectly okay with the ‘multiple authorities’ it earlier claimed was a roadblock to the national capital’s progress.

Elsewhere, cows. The Indian Express reports that the Center will roll back its contentious May 2017 notification that attempted to impose a nation-wide ban on cow slaughter.

After the notification in May, the BJP-led NDA government came under severe criticism for attempting to impose the nationwide ban on ideological grounds. Subsequently, several instances of harassment and assault by cow-protection groups were reported from various parts of the country.

Farmers, too, opposed the move to restrict trade in markets only to animals meant for agricultural use, saying they cannot directly access slaughterhouses. Farmers normally bring their redundant animals to livestock markets from where traders purchase and transport the cattle to abattoirs.

In September, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan indicated for the first time that the Centre may lift the ban. At the time, he said the rules were a “regulatory regime” for preventing cruelty to animals and the government “did not intend to directly or indirectly affect slaughterhouses or harm farmers” or “influence the food habits of people”.

Ever since Modi, on the stump in 2013-’14, raised the fictitious bogey of a ‘pink revolution‘. Watch the then PM-aspirant produce one of his trademark theatrical performances on the subject. The outcome of his blatant, politically expedient lies?:

Lives were lost in cow-related violence. More in 2016 than in 2015. More in 2017 than in 2016. Despite Modi’s occasional, and somewhat lukewarm, attempts to put the genie back in the bottle (‘Gau Rakshak business makes me angry,’ says Modi circa 2016; killing in the name of ‘gau bhakti’ not acceptable, says Modi circa 2017), Statistical analysis shows a clear spike in cow-related violence after Modi took office. And cow vigilantism became a thing (The Guardian even sent a reporter to spend a night on cow-patrol, with a bunch of vigilantes.)

The economy took a hit, and many thousands were rendered jobless. The Conversation website has a meticulously detailed breakdown; Scroll has additional stories. Uttar Pradesh, not the most prosperous of states, reported a Rs 4000 crore loss thanks to the ban on cow slaughter. (Nothing fazed, UP Chief Minister Adityanath was, earlier this month, mooting a ‘Kamadhenu economy‘ whereby a cow for every Hindu family would solve all ills — though who was going to buy all that urine and dung if every family had its own cow is not explained.) Interestingly, despite Modi’s heart bleeding copiously for cows when he was banging on about the pink revolution, beef exports have only increased during his tenure as PM.

Elections won, damage done, we now have the reversal. See what I mean about the U-turn sarkar? If statehood for Delhi and the cow slaughter ban were the only instances, you could pass those off as aberrations — but ‘never mind what I said then, do as I say now’ is the modus operandi of this government, as meticulously detailed in this Quora thread, among other places.

In other news, the head priest of the Swaminarayan temple in Vadtal appealed, in the presence of Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani and others, to its followers to vote for the BJP. Not because of ‘development’ or similar reasons, but because the organization is ‘forever indebted’ to the BJP-run state government.

There is absolutely no reason the head of a religious order should not ask his followers to vote for a particular party, but it does make you wonder if the Election Commission will send a show cause notice, on the lines of the one it sent the Archbishop of Gandhinagar just a day earlier.

Elsewhere, this:

In an order that has provoked criticism in legal circles, a special CBI court in Mumbai, citing “security,” has restrained the media from publishing proceedings of the trial in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case saying that the matter “appears sensational.”

Activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan tells you why this does not pass the sniff test:

I’ll wrap this up for now and, despite the doom and gloom above, wish you a good day. Be well.