This is protest season in New Delhi. On Tuesday, thousands of women, under the banner of All India Democratic Women's Association, marched on the rain-soaked roads to Parliament Street to protest the failure of the Narendra Modi government to curb violence against women and create more job opportunities. On Wednesday, workers and farmers will march from the Ramlila Maidan to Parliament Street.
A huge chunk of these protesters, under the banners of Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India Kisan Sabha and All India Agriculture Workers' Union, made their way from the New Delhi railway station to a muddy Ramlila Maidan on Tuesday. Civic authorities have charged Rs 200,000 as day rent for the ground. The organisers of the march, however, couldn't decide if the rains were a curse or a blessing in disguise. While the cloud cover made marching less tiring, the muddy ground made resting difficult.
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday called for re-framing of the rules of procedure of the Rajya Sabha to restore its prestige. Naidu, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairman, asked political parties to forge a consensus on a national policy for legislative councils in the states, saying that people feel these councils exist to “rehabilitate” politicians who don't get elected. Only seven of the 29 states have legislative councils. Incidentally, the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, has never won a Lok Sabha election.
In the Opposition, former prime minister Manmohan Singh is also a Rajya Sabha member who has never won a Lok Sabha election. Naidu himself has been a member of the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly for two terms, but never won a Lok Sabha election.
Bonding over work
Popular Malayalam actor Mohanlal met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to brief him about the social work his ViswaSanthi Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, is involved in. “His humility is endearing. His wide range of social service initiatives are commendable and extremely inspiring,” Modi tweeted.
The meeting led to speculation that the actor could be the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Thiruvananthapuram candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha election against Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, a two-term Lok Sabha member from that seat.