Prez polls: Fissures in opposition?

The issue of fielding a candidate against NDA Presidential nominee appears to be unravelling the Opposition unity, with the CPI(M) insisting that they should contest for the top post at any cost.

Fissures have developed among parties over the issue as a section of parties led by Congress are of the view that they should wait till the ruling BJP finishes the consultation process and see whether they could come up with a “moderate” face for the post.

The opposition parties may have their own compulsions on voting. Like BJD which could vote on government side if Draupadi Murmu, an Odia who is now Jharkhand Governor, is fielded, the NCP may support a Maharashtrian fielded by the BJP. Congress and Trinamool Congress would also weigh in options before going ahead with a joint opposition candidate.

With some of them amenable to such a candidate from the ruling side, the CPI(M) is insisting that the opposition should not leave the opportunity for a “political battle” and contest the Presidential polls.

As the BJP initiated the process of consultation on candidate, the majority view among opposition parties is to wait for the proposals from the ruling side before taking any step on its candidate. This was echoed in a meeting of opposition parties on Wednesday.

However, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said that even if NDA fields a candidate and some of them supports, the opposition should field a candidate.

He got support in RJD chief Lalu Prasad who is learnt to have insisted that “there should not be any ideological compromise” in the fight against BJP.

This could be music to the ears of the Left as they are not averse to a 2002-type scenario where they field contest. In 2002 when almost entire Opposition joined hands with NDA to support A P J Abdul Kalam, CPI(M)-led Left had fielded INA war veteran Captain Lakshmi as its candidate.

Sources said the opposition camp would not jump the gun on the candidate and one could expect a decision by June 24 or 25. Reports suggested that BJP may finalise the name by June 23, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is embarking on a visit to the United States.

Senior BJP Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, one of the three senior leaders in the committee of three set up by party president Amit Shah, has already reached out to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Yechury and leaders of NCP and BSP among others for consultation.

However, Left sources believe consultation is a government tactics to “create confusion and division” in the opposition ranks. They believe it is to push their own candidate at the last minute where opposition has no time to recalibrate its strategy.

They don’t want to give time to opposition. They have a strategy and we are going to fall into it,” a senior Left leader said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 15, 2017)

Child Artiste: no work for more than 3 hours without rest

A child artiste should not be made to work for more than five hours a day and not for more than three hours without rest, latest government rules has said.

The new amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Rules also make it mandatory for any producer of any audio-visual media production or any commercial event to take permission from District Magistrate for involving a child in their programmes.

“No child shall be allowed to work for more than five hours in a day, and for not more than three hours without rest,” the new insertion in the rules on child to work as an artist said.

“No child shall be made to participate in any audio visual and sports activity including informal entertainment activity against his will and consent,” it added.

All screening of films and television programmes involving children should also have a disclaimer specifying that all measures were taken to ensure that there has been no abuse, neglect or exploitation of child artists during the entire process of the shooting.

The producers should also ensure appropriate facilities for education of the child to ensure that there is no discontinuity from his lessons in school. “No child shall be allowed to work consecutively for more than 27 days,” it said.

Another point in the rules is the depositing of at least 20% of the income earned by the child in a fixed deposit account in a nationalised bank in the name of the child which may be credited on attaining majority.

The shows on television includes reality shows, quiz shows, talent shows. These rules also cover the participation of a child artiste as an anchor of a show or events.

The issue of presence of child artistes in reality shows and other programmes in entertainment industry had raised a furore earlier.

In March, a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour had expressed fear that child labour is rampant in domestic households and entertainment industry. It had then asked the government to study the situation in these sectors and take remedial steps.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had earlier come out with guidelines to regulate child participation in TV serials, reality shows and advertisement.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 14, 2017)

AI accident: Non-adherence to SOP cost a life

Overlooking procedures appeared to have claimed the life of an Air India ground service engineer when he was sucked into an aircraft in Mumbai two years ago, an investigation has suggested.

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) report into the December 2015 incident said non-adherence to Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and rushing crew to operate a delayed flight resulted in the tragic incident.

The report, submitted to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) recently, is based on the 16 December 2015 incident in Mumbai airport when Air India ground staff Subramaniam died after he was sucked into the national carrier’s aircraft.

According to the report, the crew who operated the Rajkot-Mumbai flight were to fly Mumbai-Hyderabad service. However, the Mumbai-Hyderabad flight was delayed as the Rajkot flight did not land on time.

This prompted Air India’s another pilot on Hyderabad flight to take clearance from the ATC to handle the aircraft. The pilot assigned to fly the plane reached the cockpit just seven minutes before the scheduled take-off.


He told the panel that he took clearance from the Ground Engineer and right clearance from co-pilot regarding obstruction. During push back, the engines were started and the parking brakes were put on after reaching the required position on taxiway. He then put the parking brakes off, switch on the taxi light and gave power to taxi.

However, four ground personnel were still around the nose of aircraft. The aircraft then started moving and the deceased Ground Service Engineer was standing facing back towards the aircraft with headphone on his head. “The aircraft right hand side engine came very close to the deceased and sucked him. All the other ground personnel ran away from the aircraft and the tow truck driver also took the tow truck away from the aircraft leaving tow bar,” the report said.

The co-pilot had told the panel that the ground staff had “given clearance followed by thumbs up” and not used torch for clearance. However, the ground staff refuted this saying the deceased staff had “neither shown thumb or pin to pilot nor by any other person”.

According to Operations Manual, one person from the ground crew has must be designated as marshaller and give thumbs up signal or at night with marshalling flash light wand.

The report concluded that “non-adherence to SOP and delayed departure of flight due to improper rostering of crew resulted in the accident”.

The AAIB recommended that crew must board aircraft 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure and minimum 30 minutes of gap should be there in case of change of aircraft between two consecutive flights.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 14, 2017)

Prez polls and rethink in some Oppn parties ?

With the BJP setting in motion the process to select a Presidential candidate, a section of the Opposition parties now feel that the government side may come up with a name acceptable to them.

They believe the constitution of the committee with Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu as members is a positive sign.

The “moderate panel”, as some of the opposition leaders put it, is expected to come up with a “moderate” candidate whom the opposition could also support.

Sources said Congress could also agree if the BJP-led NDA comes up with a candidate from the Dalit or tribal communities. The Opposition camp feels that the BJP may look for candidates like a former Chief Justice.

The opposition expects that the BJP panel could throw names like that of Draupadi Murmu, former Governor S C Jamir and even Kerala Governor and former Chief Justice of India P Sadasivam as a Presidential candidate.

However, this may not mean that there will be no contest as the Left parties may field its own candidate for the Presidential polls in a redux of 2002 when it fielded Captain Laxmi against A P J Abdul Kalam, who got support from the then ruling NDA and most of the Opposition, including Congress.

Though the ruling side have enough numbers, the entire socialist parties may break ranks with opposition to vote if BJP fields former socialist Hukum Narain Yadav as its Vice Presidential candidate.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 13, 2017)

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