Speculation about the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections is now reaching epidemic proportions.

 

I have spent the last week in Chandigarh. It is the only planned city built in post 1947 India. The world famous Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier designed it in the early 1950s. It is not a beautiful city, but one gets a spectacular view of the Lower Himalayas from it.

The Sukhna Lake is a major attraction. However, it provides some unique features. It is the capital of Haryana and Punjab and the city is also a union territory. The other six union territories are Delhi, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Puducherry, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.

Haryana, Punjab and the UT live and prosper in peaceful co-existence. Chandigarh, so far, is pollution free. This blessing may not last long. The population is growing rapidly. At the moment it is one million plus. Traffic is orderly, but traffic jams are beginning to appear. Chandigarh’s per capita income is Rs 250,000. How about the quality of life? Few cities can offer anything better. It has one of the best medical facilities in the country. Excellent educational establishments. Newspapers in abundance. The Tribune is the most widely read. The Hindustan Times, the Indian Express and the Pioneer have their Chandigarh editions. The Sunday Guardian arrives on Monday. Several well stocked bookshops are located in various sectors. The one I dropped into had a real professional as its owner.

Immodestly I asked him, “Do you have any books by K. Natwar Singh?” “Yes sir, I do have your latest. Treasured Epistles is much in demand,” he added. He then told me something I had not bargained for. I next asked him if he had Kim Wagner’s Jallianwala Bagh. I took out my purse… “No payments, Natwar Singh-ji, this is with my compliments.”

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We are witnessing a not so mini repeat of the Aya-Ram Gaya-Ram, phenomenon. Each day a BJP member defects to the Congress. The next day two Congressmen join the BJP. Regional parties too are succumbing to this deplorable political downsmanship. Gandhi, Patel and Nehru must be shedding tears in their heavenly abodes.

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Speculation about the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections is now reaching epidemic proportions. Which party is ahead today? Congress no doubt, pronounces one group, BJP without doubt, says another. This compulsive, futile exercise will continue unabated for the next seven weeks. The satta bazar will work overtime. Vast amounts of money will be won and lost by satta addicts. Astrologers and palmists (most of them dedicated frauds) will become richer, because the gullible will actually be taken in by these humbugs.

TV channel debates on elections produce more heat than light. The panellists go for each other, some even shout, others become incoherent. Are viewers swayed? For many TV is now a 24/7 occupation.

The newspapers are more restrained. Taking sides openly is avoided. The vernacular and regional papers and weeklies are having a field day. Circulation is increasing. They are selling like hot jalebis. These are early days. The intense and all-consuming excitement is yet to come.

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The United States, the United Kingdom and France have moved a resolution in the UN Security Council, that would designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. China had earlier blocked an earlier move in the Security Council to name Azhar a global terrorist. This time the US is not taking any chances. A couple of days back, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo castigated China: “The world cannot afford China’s hypocrisy towards Muslims. On the one hand, China abuses more than a million Muslims a home, but on the other it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN.”

China’s response to Pompeo was to ask the US to act cautiously and not forcefully moving forward this resolution draft. But the resolution will be put to a vote, unless China reviews its position. It could veto the resolution, but by doing so it risks being isolated in the Council on a vitally important issue—global terrorism. China is unlikely to take such an avoidable risk.

 

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