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

Sacred Islands in India

By Indian islands, we usually mean the Andaman and Nicobar islands and Lakshadweep islands. Talking about mainland India, there are many tiny uninhabited islands on the seashore that are famous for tourists. However, several small and big inhabited islands in India are significant sites of pilgrimage. And by islands, we mean both sea and river islands. Let us look at six holy islands in India that are renowned pilgrimage centre and tourist attraction.

1)Pamban Island :

Pamban island in Tamil Nadu is one of the holiest islands in Hinduism and one of the four centres of Char Dham yatra. Lakhs of pilgrimages throughout the year visit the sacred Shiva temple of Rameshwaram. Lord Rama also made his way to Sri Lanka from here. The island also contains an old mosque and is home to many Hindu, Muslim and Christian fishermen. It is connected to the mainland via a road bridge, a rail bridge, and a ferry service. The island of Pamban faced damages during the 1964 cyclone, after which the town of Dhanushkodi (literally means “end of bow”) got wiped out of the Indian map. Recently it has been restored and is a major tourist attraction for its surreal beauty.

2)Sagar Island :

The most sacred river of India, the Ganga, meets the sea here, and this is why this island is so important in Indian mythology. Also called Gangasagar island, Gangasagar pilgrimage holds high importance in Hindu tradition. Gangasagar Mela is considered the second-largest gathering in India, with more than 5 lakh devotees taking a bath on the day of Makar Sankranti. At present, transportation is via waterways only. This island in West Bengal is also one of the most populated islands in India, where the locals live on agriculture, tourism and fishery. The rest of the year, Gangasagar is a tranquil, relaxing place for anyone who wants to enjoy the beauty of a calm, quiet and pristine beach by the sea.

3)Beyt Dwarka :

Off the coast of Dwarka, a major pilgrimage centre and one of the Char Dham yatra lies the Beyt Dwarka island. Beyt Dwarka is one of the oldest inhabited islands of India, where remains of the Indus Valley Civilization has been found. It is also considered a holy site to visit during pilgrimage to Dwarka. At present, only ferry services are available from mainland Gujarat to the island. Some of the spots on the island are extremely beautiful, with the sea on three sides and is considered a backpackers’ heaven.

4)Srirangam :

Srirangam island is a deltaic island in the Kaveri river. The island contains a big city, Tiruchirappalli, through which national highway and railway line from Chennai to Madurai passes. It doesn’t look like an island at first glance, but it is a long island with the Kaveri river in the north, and its first and largest distributary, the Kollidam river, in the south. It houses the world’s second-largest temple complex, the Ranganathaswamy temple and many other small temples. It is a significant pilgrimage place as well as a heritage site.

5)Omkareshwar island :

The west-flowing Narmada river contains the first of the twelve jyotirlingas of Shiva, the Omkareshwar temple. The island is named Mandhata after a king who was a devotee of Shiva and made Omkareshwar his capital. The island is shaped like the Devanagari letter “Om”, hence the name. Though the island can be approached only by ferry, nearby road and rail links are also available. To the north are the Vidhyas, while Satpuras dominate the south for nature-lovers.

6)Umananda island :

This is the smallest inhabited river island in the world, and it is located in the Brahmaputra river of Assam. The smallest river island is named after “Uma”, another name of Parbati, the wife of Shiva. Despite its size, it is very popular among the tourists who visit Guwahati city. Apart from being a sacred island and housing an old Shiva temple, Umananda island offers a beautiful cruise through the Brahmaputra river and is home to golden langur, an endangered species. Due to its shape from a distance, the island is also called peacock island.

So which one of them would you like to visit? Do mention in the comment section below.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Assam Earthquake 2021 Analysis

On 28th April 2021, a moderately severe earthquake hit Assam and parts of north-east India. The 6.4 magnitude Earthquake had epicentre at Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district of Assam, and the focal point was 17 metres below ground level. The epicentre is located just 80 km northeast of Guwahati, the largest city in north-east India. The area falls under Seismic hazard zone V, which most prone to massive Earthquakes.

The Himalayan Frontal Thrust, or the Main Frontal Thrust, is a major geological fault along the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plate boundaries. Many parts of Assam, including Sonitpur, falls near the area of Himalayan Frontal Thrust and is thus prone to significant Earthquakes. The 8.6 magnitude Assam earthquake of 1950 severely damaged the whole state and the neighbouring states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya. This time, as the earthquake’s magnitude was not that severe, many areas, including Guwahati, felt tremors but were not severely damaged.

The earthquake occurred specifically at Kopili fault, a 300 km long part of Himalayan Frontal Thrust stretching from Bhutan to Mayanmar following the foothills of the Himalayas. The Kopili fault is one of the most seismically unstable faults that have produced earthquakes since prehistoric times. The Kopili fault has been quiet for some time, some time and the earthquake released much of the stress building up in the crust. That is the reason for the severity of the quake. The last major earthquake in the region was of 6.0 magnitude on 29th July 1960.

According to the latest reports, two died of shock and at least 10 others sustained injuries in the earthquake. Several buildings and roads in the western part of Assam are damaged. The nearby Arunachal Pradesh districts also felt the tremors where two people are injured after their house collapsed. There was also a report of a minor landslide in West Kameng district induced by the quake, that blocked a vital road in the area.

The earthquake’s timing and duration were the primary cause that it averted any significant damage. The earthquake occurred early in the morning and for a short duration of fewer than 30 seconds. Had the tremor occurred midday, there might have been damages to workers working in high rise buildings and offices. Also, an earthquake persisting for more than 30 seconds will bring more damage to the facilities. However, there were six aftershocks ranging between 3.2 to 4.7 magnitude, which has not caused any significant destruction. Let us hope that no more damaging aftershocks occur amid the pandemic situation in India.

Written by – Himadri Paul