The news this weekend: LPG, Kejriwal, toilets, politicians… and Somali pirates
The price of LPG — liquefied petroleum gas cylinders, or cooking gas — has risen 11.42 rupees per cylinder because dealers are getting higher commissions. TV channels attacked the government because this “shocker” comes right after the imposition of a cap on subsidized cylinder sales was imposed.
Bharatiya Janata Party politician Smriti Irani said the party will hold a nation-wide protest on Oct. 12, saying the higher prices are “anti-women”. This is presumably because they do more of the daily cooking than men, whose potential inversely proportional waistline shrinkage could be in their favour.
We all know who the main attraction is on news channels nowadays: social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal. Here are the pots that he’s stirring:
- Accusing Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and DLF, India’s top listed real estate developer, of being involved in shady deals which could have favoured Vadra. Vadra has replied, as has the DLF. Short story: they committed no illegal acts.
- Protesting against higher electricity prices in New Delhi. He then restored an electricity connection himself, which of course is illegal.
Kejriwal is keeping others busy too. The BJP is supporting Kejriwal, while Congress politicians are doing their best to defend Vadra.
Meanwhile, the BJP and Congress have lashed out at rural development minister Jairam Ramesh for his comment that there are more temples in the country than toilets (Is there a sharp and obsessive-compulsive statistician out there who can tell us if it’s true?). They’ve said he should not make such statements because they hurt “fine fabric of faith and religion” in the country.
With everyone working this weekend, why has there been little reaction to this? Here is a video that purportedly shows a group of seven sailors taken hostage by Somali pirates nearly two years ago. They are asking for someone to get them sprung.
They say: “Our condition is very bad. I don’t know what action is the government taking… We are requesting President (Pranab Mukherjee), Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj to please save us”.
Even if we assume efforts are on, why is that no politician comes out and reacts to such a development? Why is no political party criticizing the government for being lackadaisical about such issues? (Perhaps because it doesn’t look good to be seen as negotiating with the pirates, politically or in terms of publicising details that could harm the captives)
Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt anyone if the prime minister used his Twitter account, @PMOIndia, to reassure the sailors’ families.
Reports say 43 Indians are in the custody of Somali pirates, of which 15 have spent more than two years as hostages. Maybe that isn’t enough people to achieve a prisoner’s quorum necessary for action.
(Supporters of People’s Democratic Party, Kashmir’s main political opposition party, hold placards during a protest against the restrictions on sales of subsidised Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), in Srinagar Oct. 6, 2012. They were protesting against the Indian government’s decision last month to restrict the sales of subsidised LPG cylinders to six per consumer annually, PDP leaders said. Reuters photo: Fayaz Kabli)