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The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Oct 18, 2015

Bihar Elections

The biggest political battle of the year kicked off this past week with the first two phases of the Assembly elections in Bihar taking place. Phase 1 saw a record turnout of 57% while Phase 2 saw a turnout of 52% which is higher than in 2010. The fate of 81 out of the 243 seats in the Assembly have been sealed by now. The next three polling dates are on 16th October, 28th October and 5th November with the counting taking place on the 8th of November. The significance of Bihar in India's political calculus can hardly be understated. The BJP has staked Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image on the campaign and a united Opposition is trying to halt his succession of electoral victories. Bihar is also crucial for the BJP's strategy to wrest control of the Rajya Sabha and push the PM's big ticket economic reforms legislation through. Opinion polls, though divided, have tended to lean towards the NDA and victory on November 8th will solidify the government's political standing specially in light of the criticism it has come under over the last few weeks due to the Dadri killing and the return of Sahitya Akademi awards by various writers.

SC ruling on NNCA and NJAC

The Supreme Court in a far reaching judgment delivered a setback to the NDA's government proposal to change the judicial appointment system by ruling the Ninety Ninth Constitution Amendment (2014) and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (2014) as unconstitutional. The judgement means that judicial appoints shall continue to be based on the collegium system currently in place.

Religious intolerance

Religious tensions continued to be on the boil. In UP, a mob clashed with the police over allegations of two men indulging in cow slaughter. Haryana's Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar remarked that Muslims could only stay in India if they stopped eating beef, then regretted his comment which eventually led to a political clash of words between the Congress and the BJP. In Punjab, the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy book, in the Faridkot district led to protests resulting in the state administration having to step in quickly to curb the tension.

Cricket

Two major developments from the cricket field - after being at the end of severe criticism for botching the run chase in the 1st ODI against South Africa, MS Dhoni rose like a phoenix and led India to a tense win in the 2nd ODI remaining unbeaten on 92 and shepherding his troops to defend a low total. South Africa, however came back with Morkel's 4 for 39 in the 3rd ODI to lead the 5 ODI series by 2-1. Dhoni's longtime leading bowler and perhaps India's most skillful fast bowler, Zaheer Khan, finally gave in to the demands of his body and announced his retirement from international cricket this past week. Read Sid Monga's excellent piece capturing Zaheer's genius from Cricinfo here.

Opinions you must read:

  • Arun Jaitley's argument protecting the government which he posted on Facebook
  • Pratap Bhanu Mehta's take backing the actions of the writers and also criticizing the Shiv Sena's protest against Sudheendra Kulkarni