Poll scerio in galand, Meghalaya and Tripura
Although the three States going to the polls are among the smaller ones in the country, their political significance should not be underestimated. In galand, the ruling galand People's Front (NPF) has had a turbulent year with Chief Minister TR Zeliang returning to power in July 2017 after being ousted for a few months earlier over the issue of reservation in urban local bodies. The factiol battle within the NPF was brought to a partial resolution with an agreement between supporter of Zealing and his predecessor, Shurhozelie Liezietsu, in December. But the rupture has raised the hopes of the opposition, particularly the BJP. The ga Framework Agreement and the role of the apex ga organisation , the ga Hoho, which has called for an electoral boycott, also loom large. How this will affect the polls will be watched. The Congress is fighting a hard battle in Meghalaya, one of only four States where it is in power in the country. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, in power for almost eight uninterrupted years, will be hard-selling the plank of stability. However, Meghalaya, like other North-eastern States, is largely dependent on central funds, and these States tend to favor parties that wield power at the Centre. The BJP, with virtually no presence in the State, is banking on this hope and leaving no stone unturned. In doing so it may depend on Conrad K Sangma's tiol people's party, which is contesting independently but is part of the NDA at the Centre.
Tripura is the only State other than Kerala where the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is in power, and the election will test the popularity of Manik Sarkar, one of the longest-serving Chief Ministers. The State is traditiolly known for a high turnout, with more than 90% of the electorate casting vote in the 2013 election. Tripura has achieved almost fully literate, has lowered the infant mortality rate and has an overall rank on the human development index despite being a largely agrarian and forestry-domited economy. The CPI(M)'s long reign in Tripura may have seen the end of tribal insurgency and an improvement in social indices, but the party will also be tested by public opinion on Tripura's relatively high unemployment and the lack of diversification. The party will also face a new test ismuch as the Congress had been replaced by the BJP as the principal opposition party. The BJP has focused on wooing and winning over the tribal population which constitute 32% of the total population. That being the reality, it is possible that the BJP will team up with the Indigenous tiolist party of Twipra despite differences over the latter's demand for a state of Tripraland comprising the tribal areas of the State.. While these elections may not be a barometer of the overall political scerio, nevertheless the polls will decide whether the BJP's hope of expanding its footprint will be achieved.
Satish Kumar Sarma,
Train tickets should not include food cost
It refers to a committee suggesting rise in the cost of food served in trains by upto 40-percent. But any such rise unnecessarily pelizes those passengers who do not wish to avail food served in trains due to various reasons, including peculiar food choice like without onion and garlic or avoiding sweet dishs for being diabetic and the like. It may be noted that in selected premium trains like Shatabdi and Duranto, the cost of food is included in the cost of ticket although presently passengers travelling in Rajdhani Express have the option of having tickets with or without food. Such an option of not paying cost of food should be applicable in all trains including Shatabdi and Duranto Express. It may be recalled that only recently optiol sweet dish of hot 'Gulab-Jamun' was included in place of usual ice-cream in case a passenger does not want to take ice-cream due to conditions like weather, liking, suitability etc. The move was aimed at preventing left-out packed ice-cream cups being kept by serving-staff. It is a usual practice that serving staff earn money by selling such unused packed food-items left by passengers to others either at a cost or by way of tips. But Indian Railways has not taken into account large number of diabetic passengers who will neither take ice-cream nor 'Gulab-Jamun' or any other sweet dish. Further many passengers do not take food because they avoid onion and garlic.
Already most airlines have replaced the food serving process by selling variety of packaged food items. Indian Railways should stop the practice of compulsorily charge on food served in select trains and start selling packaged branded food by giving some commission to serving-staff while elimiting tips-begging by serving-staff. Scope of Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) should be enhanced. It may take to making of bakery and such other such items by setting up manufacturing-units in different parts of country. One-time planned investment will create huge employment-opportunities and increase revenue-earnings of the Indian Railways. IRCTC can even take charge of mid-day-meals in schools where complaints of inferior food are quite common.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal,
1775 Kucha Lattushah,
Dariba, Chandni Chowk.
Delhi, 110006 (India).