Sinn Fein win puts spotlight on treaty; balcony ‘half-full’ on Queen’s jubilee?

This will be a test for the Treaty of Northern Ireland as Sinn Fein would like to reunite both parts which the Unionists don’t like

The cloud of Partygate hanging over the Prime Minister has finally gone, after the submission of the Metropolitan Police report, following months of investigation. No surprises there! Even if he had partied during the Covid restrictions, the evidence gathered by the police has led to the PM being fined for just one contravention of the rules.

Could this be a “resigning” matter as his opponents had hoped? That looks very unlikely though many are miffed that it took a 460,000-pound investigation to uncover the fact that there was a tendency to party at Downing Street, but the Prime Minister was not at the heart of it. Oh dear… now the doom mongers await the other report by the civil servant Sue Grey, hoping it might see the exit of the Prime Minister. All of this is wishful thinking, of course.

That is not to say that the Prime Minister does not have trouble hounding him but the good news (for him) is that the Labour Party may not be able to get a majority — as the results for the local elections showed a few weeks back. The results amply demonstrated that if general elections were called tomorrow it would require a coalition of two or more parties to make up a majority. The situation appears much more dramatic in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein, the nationalist party in both parts of Ireland, had emerged as the largest single party. This will be a test for the Treaty of Northern Ireland as Sinn Fein would like to reunite both parts which the Unionists, hitherto in majority, don’t like.

Local elections are always lost by the Party in power nationally. So the issue for discussion these days is whether Boris Johnson caused a bigger loss than otherwise it would have been. Here we are in the realm of conjecture and raw politics will ultimately decide. And nothing is rawer than the Conservatives’ desire to hang on to power.

In the meantime the bad news continues piling up — inflation is shooting up. Older people and poorer families are desperate. One woman hit the headlines by saying she spends the whole day on buses which she can ride for free in London with her Freedom pass which saves her money on heating her place of residence. Other sad stories continue to emerge — of people deciding to skip a meal as they cannot afford it. These narratives are usually only from Third World countries — and so it is shocking to find that these are prevalent in the UK, too. How will the issues be resolved? The government needs a plan, but so far nothing has been put forth.

There was high suspense before the opening of Parliament on May 10 when a new annual session begun, as everyone wondered if the Queen would open Parliament. She had done it almost every year of her 70-year rule except twice when she was expecting her babies, and now it was Prince Charles as her successor who finally read her speech. Nonetheless, all plans for her jubilee celebrations are being executed with great glee — all of which will make this June a very special month.

But the big event will be when she appears on the balcony of the Buckingham Palace to face thousands waiting patiently on the grounds in front. She has promised to be there. The question now being asked is who else from her large family qualifies. It seems Prince Andrew is out and so are Harry and Meghan, the Americans. All three have been relieved of any royal duties so they are family but not the “royal family”. So it will be a highly truncated royal family on the balcony.

And it is not everyday that someone from India wins a Grammy! It was wonderful to meet the twice Grammy-awarded Ricky Kej (by the way that is a shortened version of Kejriwal, no relation to the Delhi CM, though) at an intimate get-together organised by the ever genial and generous host, Sundeep Bhutoria, who runs literary events in many cities in India. Ricky had just come from playing at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, and his message for climate change and the environment is something we all need to propagate! Meeting him with friends Harsh and Madhu Neotia, Amish, Suhel Seth, Sangeeta Dutta and others in London made one almost nostalgic for the old days when everyone from India thronged London in the summer.

But in the midst of all this we are thrilled that two exhibits from the Partition Museum, coming up in Delhi, are going to be displayed at the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton. These are two weatherbeaten trunks which were brought across the border by families during the Partition of India — and they are going to be part of a special exhibit curated by the renowned artist Jitesh Kallat — to commemorate India at 75.

Tangled Hierarchy, as the exhibition is called, focusses on a collection of five humble, and yet remarkable, used envelopes. Mahatma Gandhi had written notes to Mountbatten on these envelopes as he was on a maun vrat that Monday, June 1, 1947, when Mountbatten came to see him to discuss the Partition of India. Jitesh Kallat has carefully curated the exhibit which contains other objects as well… And the Partition Museum is honoured to be part of this.

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