Why Do Rebel Factions Exist in a Political Party?

Recent rebel Shiv Sena leaders camping in Guwahati, far away from their centre at Mumbai, has become a hot topic of debate. The MVA Government in Maharashtra is on the verge of collapse, or at least that’s what is the topic of discussion now, due to a large number of Shiv Sena leaders rebelling against their own Chief Minister. However, this rebel faction concept is not entirely new and we have a number of examples coming off late in other states as well.

In the past, many states have fallen out as a result of no-confidence motion. This may occur due to withdrawal of support from a major political party towards the ruling party, which is usually the case. However, there are also other situations, where a number of leaders in the ruling party rebel against the head of the party and subsequently lead to the fall-out of the party. This case is not so frequent, and usually the rebels could not gather much stem after some initial onslaught.

Karnataka is a major example where the Government resigned after a no-confidence vote went against its favour. The BJP despite forming the single-largest party in the assembly failed to make up the majority. The Congress-Janata Dal alliance formed the Government, with a combined majority, as H.D. Kumaraswamy took oath as Karnataka’s Chief Minister in 2018. However, in 2019, a sudden resignation of 16 MLAs and 2 independents switching sides to BJP resulted in a floor test at the Karnataka Assembly. It ultimately resulted in a no-confidence towards the current Kumaraswamy-led Government albeit by a very slim margin. BJP formed the Government with the rebels and B.S. Yedurappa took oath as the Chief Minister after Kumaraswamy’s resignation.

Similar thing happened at Madhya Pradesh where Congress formed the Government after having backing of some independent and BSP MLAs. BJP lost by a slender margin and hence a few MLAs changing ships means BJP will get back in power. This is what exactly happened in 2020. 22 of the sitting MLAs rebelled and resigned, while 3 more joined the rebels soon after. The rebels changed ship to the BJP and won back 17 of the 25 vacant seats. This led to BJP being the majority and Congress with independents and others the minority, and hence led to a change in the Government. The Kamal Nath Government fell and Shivraj Singh Chouhan formed the BJP Government in Madhya Pradesh as the outcome.

A different example can be the Jammu and Kashmir one. The PDP-BJP Government led by Mehbooba Mufti was toppled when BJP withdrew its support to the coalition. The PDP then tried to side with the National Conference led by Farooq Abdullah but a few of PDP MLAs rebelled. The Governor then dissolved the whole assembly and till now the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly lies vacant.

The current situation in Maharashtra may fall under any of the categories, or it can be a completely new entity. The Uddhav Thackeray led MVA Government disqualified 16 Shiv Sena MLAs from the Assembly. Eknath Shinde, one of the disqualified MLA formed the leader of the rebels and gathered huge support from others. Eknath Shinde got a whole rebel camp going of more than 48 sitting MLAs, which include 39 from Shiv Sena and 9 independents. The rebels have camped outside the state, first in Surat and then in Guwahati, where more and more MLAs are joining day by day. The rebels have claimed two-third majority(37 needed for majority out of 55), for which they can not be disqualified now. However, the law states that this two-thirds majority is still not enough as the rebels need to merge to another party to nullify the disqualification. The rebels are currently not looking at the opposition of BJP, lurking in the background. However, it is very difficult to pass the floor test in the Legislative Assembly as of now as the Shiv Sena camp hardly has 13 MLAs left in its support and even with Congress and NCP support, they can not form the majority.

As of now, Uddav Thackeray is looking forward to sit and talk with the rebel leaders. For most other political parties outside Maharashtra dialogue is the best option to go at this hour. We have to wait and see if the rebels return to the Government or they side with the opposition, or they form an independent party on their own. The BJP, which is the single-largest party in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, is also looking for an opportunity to form the Government which they missed due to the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition. It is up to the rebels now, whether they side with BJP and form the Government or return back to Shiv Sena to stop BJPs growth in the state.

Written by – Himadri Paul

How IMD defines advancement of Monsoon in India

The Indian Meteorological Department, IMD, is the official Government weather forecaster for India. Monsoon is the most important season in India, which accounts for a huge chunk of the Indian economy. India’s agriculture, pisciculture, floriculture and to some extent logistics are vastly affected by seasonal variations in the monsoon. That is why, IMD makes 2 predictions on monsoon, one at the start of the season in June, and one in the middle of August. Also, IMD notes down the progress, withdrawal and activeness in almost every cities, districts, and even at village level.

How can IMD declare the onset of monsoon? There are 3 well-defined criteria to declare the onset of monsoon.

  • The first, which is the most visible one, is the rainfall. At least 60% of the stations in the area must receive rainfall of 2.5mm or more for 2 consecutive days.
  • The second one is the wind pattern, in which wind should blow more or less continuously at 27-37 kmph from the south-west direction.
  • The third one is the least visible of all, and that is the outgoing long wave radiation should be below 200 watt per square metre.

Similar to onset of monsoon, the withdrawal of monsoon also follows 3 not-so-similar criteria.

  • First one is no rainfall for 5 consecutive days.
  • The second one is development of anticyclone in the lower troposphere.
  • The last one being considerable reduction in moisture content of air.

Skymet is the other official weather station which is private. For the past 3 years, Skymet and IMD failed to agree upon the onset and withdrawal of monsoon from India. Skymet following IMD’s criteria, usually agrees with IMD, but this has failed in the last 3 years by some margin. In 2020 and 2021, Skymet announced the arrival of monsoon before IMD did, for which IMD stated the predictions as ‘factually wrong’. In 2022, IMD announced the arrival before Skymet did, and the Skymet accused IMD for ‘not following its own criteria’. However, even after all this, the arrival monsoon is after a sultry summer and a dry spell of 7-8 months brings a respite to farmers and city-dwellers alike.

Written by – Himadri Paul

A Neighbour Less Talked About – Myanmar

India’s neighbours are often in the talks, be it for good reasons or bad. Bangladesh and Bhutan are usually talked about for mostly good reasons, while Pakistan and China are talked about for mostly bad reasons. Nepal and Sri Lanka are talked about on how India helps its neighbours to grow. But there is a neighbour, about whom most Indians know very little about. Yes, that neighbour is Myanmar.

Myanmar has been a more failed state, than Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka. Since independence, Myanmar could do little for its citizens, rather it has shrinked itself to complete isolation from the rest of the world. The most powerful unit in Myanmar is the Junta, which has recently for the second time overthrew the demographically elected Government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

After gaining independence from British rule, Myanmar slowly tried to build itself from its ruins. But in 1962, the military overthrew the Government and took the reins of administration upon itself. While military rule in some countries is not that bad, the military rule did more harm than good to Myanmar’s rise as an independent nation. Till 2011, the military rule did misery to the country, forcing its people into poverty, displacing thousands, killing minorities and threatening its own destruction.

The year 2011 brought about a sea of change in the politics of Myanmar, when elections were legally held for the very first time, and people chose Aung San Suu Kyi as their leader. However, it is alleged that Aung San Suu Kyi herself had little powers, especially regarding the Rohingya crisis, and that the military was still the decision-maker in politics. However, the demographically-elected Government was hugely popular among the masses, triggering panic among the junta that despite the country’s protectors, they are getting hugely unpopular.

Hence, a fresh coup was the result in 2021, in which the junta again overthrew the demographically-elected Government to fulfil their own needs. But now, together with the Covid-19 pandemic threw the country to chaos, and took the country’s economy to the brink of collapse. Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to imprisonment for an indefinite period of time, and so are a number of leaders of her party. India has seen a recent surge in migration of refugees from Myanmar to India.

However, India, having to deal with Pakistan’s terrorism, Bangladeshi illegal immigrants, Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Covid-19, and other factors, is not looking to meddle in Myanmar’s internal matters. India supports Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, but given the cruelty and harsh nature of the junta regime, it is not likely that Aung San Suu Kyi and her party is going to make a popular comeback anytime soon.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Summer Retreat Hill Stations in India

Hill stations have been popular in India since ancient times due to the presence of shrines and religious places, as well as for scenic beauty. During British rule, some of the hill stations near important cities in India got a new lease of life. The British could not tolerate the heat in India during the summer season. Hence the Government officials and civilians retreated to the hills for a vacation during summer. Some of them even today bear signs of colonial rule, and Victorian buildings, mountain railways, and malls.

Today, as modern transportation has increased, and the ability of people to afford frequent vacations, summer tourism in the hills has increased many fold. Let us look at the summer hill stations that are popular in India since the times of British rule.

1)Darjeeling :

Tea Gardens, Darjeeling

Darjeeling is the most popular retreat of the Bengali people living in the plains in Kolkata, Siliguri, Asansol and other towns. Darjeeling and it’s surrounding Kurseong and Kalimpong areas developed during the British rule as the retreated from Kolkata during the heat of summer. The Darjeeling toy train, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is still popular among the locals and tourists alike, and is run by a steam engine. The route contains the Ghum railway station, the highest in the entire India. The tea gardens, the orange orchards, and shopping in the colonial mall are a must see in Darjeeling.

2)Shimla :

Shimla Kalka Train, Shimla

Shimla, the summer capital of Himachal Pradesh, is a bustling town, high up on the hills, near Delhi and Punjab towns. Since British rule, Shimla still is the most popular tourist destination near Delhi in any season. The colonial Christ Church, the ridge, the hilltops, the enchanted trails, and the Shimla Kalka railway line makes Shimla a perfect hill station. Not to forget, like the Darjeeling toy train, the Shimla Kalka train is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3)Ooty :

Boating in Ooty Lake

Ooty, the hill station not far from Chennai, is an ideal summer retreat for the people of Chennai, Mysore, Bangalore and Kozhikode. Ooty is full of lakes, parks, nature reserves, and tea gardens, all of which add to the beauty of Nilgiri Hills. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Ooty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Avalanche Lake, Botanical Garden, and Doddabetta peaks are some well known tourist spots. Nearby Coonoor and Coorg are also important hill stations in that area.

4)Mahabaleshwar :

Mahabaleshwar Strawberry Festival

This famed hill station is famous for strawberries, which are produced in this area. Mahabaleshwar is also an important pilgrimage site, being the source of the Krishna river. Being located close to Mumbai and Pune, it attracts a huge crowd in summer time. This quiet little hill station is also near major waterfalls in the area like Dhobi falls, Lingmala falls, and Vajrai falls. The Kash plateau, the flower paradise on earth, is not far away.

5)Shillong :

View of Shillong Town from Shillong Peak

Shillong also attracts people from all over India, and forms a quick retreat for tourists from Guwahati, Assam. Ward’s Lake, Umiam Lake and Shillong peak, will never fail to mesmerize the tourists with stunning views. Shillong also hosts India’s cherry blossom festival in the month of November. Nearby villages like Cherrapunji and Mawlynnong are worth visiting for being the wettest and cleanest villages on Earth respectively.

Which of these hills stations is your favourite? Do let us know in the comment section below.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Sri Lanka’s Worst Economic Crisis

Sri Lanka, being a not-so-small island nation, has to depend on imports from various other countries for various essential commodities. But despite heavy imports, and some occasional instances of financial crisis, Sri Lanka managed to hold out its economy amid civil wars, natural disasters, and Government collapse. However, without a signal, the country has now plunged into a severe economic crisis, the worst till date, bringing the country’s economy on the verge of collapse.

Sri Lanka, the land of cinnamon and tea, is known for the export of tea and spices, and is also a major hub of tourism in Asia. The geography of Sri Lanka promotes fertile, flat lands towards the north, hilly interior, supports a great fishing industry, and has major ports between the west and the east. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka lacked big industrial regions like other developed nations, and that is why foreign debt is always a mounting pressure in the Sri Lankan economy. It’s 100% dependence on fuel oil from other countries has marked a severe fuel shortage in the country.

Covid-19 has a major role to play in crippling the Sri Lankan economy. Though the island never experienced huge surges of Covid-19 victims, its mainstay, the tourism industry suffered a huge setback, when the whole world went into lockdown. Though many African and South American countries opened up their doors to foreigners as the pandemic subsided, Sri Lanka remained virtually cut off from the tourism sector till date. Repeated lockdowns in the country, followed by economic crisis put both foreign and domestic tourists out of reach of famous tourist destinations in Sri Lanka.

Adding fuel to the fire were some Government policies that were taken hastily with little planning for the future. Some of them, like reduced taxation, and organic farming backfired as they were implemented overnight, without any backup plans. While the measures were really good, sudden change in taxation drained the Government Treasury, and replacing conventional farming with organic farming resulted in less productivity of crops. Sri Lanka’s reliance on China on port building has also backfired as its Hambantota port has been a commercial failure, prompting Chinese companies to take up the port business.

Till date, India has given almost 2 billion financial aid to Sri Lanka. India has donated essential items like rice and fuel to Sri Lanka so that common people may get themselves out of the crisis. More countries, including China, have come forward, and helped Sri Lanka regain their lost ground. However, the future of Sri Lanka is not looking bright with the whole Parliamentary cabinet except the President and the Prime Minister resigned.

Written by – Himadri Paul