That the chief ministers nominated by Prime Minister Imran Khan to run Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have been the cause of disagreement between the government and its coalition partners as well as within the ruling party’s ranks is an undeniable fact now. The PM sacked Atif Khan, Shahram Tarkai and Shakeel Ahmed – the three K-P cabinet members who were unhappy with CM Mahmood Khan – in what brings to light the struggle that he has had to do to tackle a pretty serious divide within the party’s K-P chapter and that has thus far been downplayed by party spokespersons. And the growing distrust – mainly by the PML-Q – in the performance of Usman Buzdar as Punjab Chief Minister has, on the other hand, exposed the fragility of the coalition ruling the Centre as well as the country’s biggest province.
The PM, however, insists that Usman Buzdar will remain the “fully empowered CM”, and blames an “organised mafia” that is “conspiring” to forestall the “change” the incumbent government is trying to bring in. What the PM calls a “conspiracy” can well be explained as the push of power politics i.e. the lure of control – something for which the vacuum has been created by his non-performing CMs. Being the selector himself, the PM cannot escape the blame for the situation that has the evil potential to evolve. There can be no denying that both Mahmood Khan and Usman Buzdar were compromise candidates – and pretty weak as well, if compared with many others that were under consideration for the coveted position – nominated with a view to 1) tackling the grouping within the party, and 2) controlling the provinces directly from the Centre.
Explaining the PM’s decision to sack the three K-P cabinet members, an official spokesperson claims that the PTI has now decided “not to sacrifice party discipline for the sake of appeasing personalities”. Well, politicians are known to toe the principle so long as it suits them politically. Not much different is this instance too.
Republic Day wrath
A day meant to celebrate the birth of the Constitution of India was marked by protests against a regime that has been working overtime to rewrite it in its own fascist image. Big and small cities in India — besides many others elsewhere in the world — saw thousands of people turn out to protest on Sunday against the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). At the same time, some protests also echoed with slogans relating to the Kashmir lockdown, which has been in effect for almost six months. It was hardly the image of India that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted the world to see. Instead of celebrating India’s formal transition from a dominion to an independent republic on January 26, 1950, citizens were slamming the government’s efforts to turn the country into a Hindu nation.
Over 250 public meetings and protests were reported in the state of Kerala alone, with one of them featuring a human chain which claimed to have over 100,000 participants. “It was not a mere human chain, but a human wall against the violation of the principles of the Constitution,” said Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. In Kolkata, organisers claimed to have formed a human chain over 11 kilometres long. Massive protests were also seen in Mumbai and Lucknow, with many of the protests being led by women. Lucknow, incidentally, is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, where most of the 25 protest-related deaths have taken place.
State security forces under the BJP-led state government have killed at least 19 people and injured hundreds in their failed attempt to silence protesters. The largest protests in New Delhi were in the Shaheen Bagh area, where major roadways have been blocked since December. Meanwhile, Assam, which was the testing ground for many of the BJP’s recent discriminatory policy measures, saw multiple blasts take place, although no casualties were reported.