The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 23-11-2022 | 11:50 am
A group playing the tambourine sings “Gaon gaon se uthho, basti basti se uthho, aadmi aurat bhi uttho, bachche budhe bhi utho, desh ki surat badalne ke liye uthho; jiske haath mein kuchch bhi nahin, aawaz leke uthho (Rise from the villages, rise from the slums, men and women rise, children and elders too rise, to change the face of the country, rise; those who have nothing, raise your voice and rise).”It is minutes to go for the arrival of Jignesh Mevani, and the singers are building up the tempo, mixing the song with accounts of the Dalit MLA’s struggles against the BJP and its top leaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.Mevani, the sitting MLA from Vadgam in Banaskantha district, who won last time as an Independent and is now contesting on a Congress ticket, takes up the theme as he arrives at Memadpur village. Legislators were bought over for “Rs 5, 15, 25 crore”, he says. “But I can say proudly that I did not break the trust people of Vadgam put in me.”Mevani may only be a one-time MLA, but as one of the most popular Dalit faces of Gujarat, who rose to prominence in the wake of the Una Dalit assault of 2016, he is among the star campaigners on the Opposition side. Appointed the Congress’s working president ahead of the Assembly polls, he is young (42), articulate, passionate in his attacks on the BJP, and the only one of the 2017 campaign’s young turks in the party’s ranks – the other two, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, are now both in the BJP.On Tuesday, Thakor, an OBC leader who in 2017 fought as a Congress candidate, campaigned in Vadgam for the BJP. Asked about this, Mevani simply grins.In his interactions, mostly in small groups, Mevani focuses on issues like rising prices, unaffordable health facilities, paper leaks delaying government recruitments, farmers’ debt and the BJP’s intolerance for contrary views. With the Congress the sole party to raise the release of the Bilkis Bano case convicts as a poll issue, Mevani brings that up. Lastly, he talks about his agitation to get the Narmada water to the local Mukteshwar dam and Karmavat lake, and again, promises to “remain loyal”.Facing health issues, he apologises for addressing the people mostly sitting down. The welcome is generally enthusiastic, from people across communities.While Vadgam is considered a Congress bastion, the contest is four-pronged this time, including besides the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party and AIMIM. Muslims form the biggest bulk of the population, followed by members of the Chaudhary community.In Memadpur, a village with a mixed population, Mevani warns that under the BJP government, gas cylinder prices would double from the current Rs 1,100 in 6-12 months. “If you want the cylinder at Rs 500 — as Rahul Gandhi has promised — vote for the Congress.” The cylinder talk resonates with the women in the audience, who talk about how one fill does not last them even a month.In Pilucha village, he mentions Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, and that “he is walking 25 km daily for the unity of the country”. “He is a person who never lies, even if is at the risk of losing 25 seats,” Mevani says.In Pepol village, Mevani goes beyond the bread and butter issues. “On the fifth (December 5, when Vadgam will vote in the second phase), if a single vote from your village is cast in favour of the BJP, you should know that you supported those rapists (in the Bilkis Bano case), that you also did not have any objection to leak of papers for 14-15 (government recruitment) examinations,” he says.The Congress leader tells people that for him Bilkis is the daughter of Gujarat, “not Hindu or Muslim”. “She was pregnant and was gangraped. Her three-year-old child was smashed into a wall and killed… I don’t know what occurred to (Narendra) Modi that all the convicts were released. They were felicitated, welcomed… it was said they were released because they were sanskari… Can this be the Gujarat of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Ravishankar Maharaj or Indulal Yagnik? Is this the country of Babasaheb Ambedkar?… And those who released them (the convicts) are asking people to take out Tiranga Yatra!” Mevani says.As an example of the BJP’s intolerance for opposition, Mevani refers to his own imprisonment over a tweet, after which he was frisked away overnight to Assam. He also talks about the imprisonment of former chairman of Dudhsagar Dairy Vipul Chaudhary, who commands support among his Chaudhary community.At Megaal village, Mevani calls both examples of the BJP’s “dadagiri”.Asking people to repeat after him the slogan ‘Be hazar baavish, Congress laavish (2022, I will bring the Congress to power)’, Mevani adds: “If you want the debt of industrialists to be pardoned, vote for the BJP. But if you want the debt of farmers to be pardoned, vote for the Congress. If you want costly private hospitals, vote for the BJP. But if you want a hospital like the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, vote for the Congress.”In Nagarpura village, Mevani tells people that they could trust his word. “I am the same person I was (in 2017). There is no increase in my assets. Your MLA has not been bought over, and will never be… I am not going to give you money or liquor (to win the election). But you can always call me if you want to get water in the Karmavat lake.”Following a long agitation to get the Narmada water to the region where agriculture and animal husbandry are the main occupation, the Gujarat government recently allocated Rs 200 crore for the project.The BJP candidate from the seat is former Congress MLA Manilal Vaghela, while AAP has nominated another local prominent Dalit rights activist. The AIMIM, which is banking on its hold on the minority vote, has fielded Kalpesh Sundhiya.While the Muslim vote is likely to split, the Congress is hoping that Vipul Chaudhary’s arrest will create a friction between the BJP and its loyal vote bank in the community.Jayesh Chaudhary of Memadpur village says they like Mevani. “So far, people have always come to us to seek our votes to fill their own pockets. Jigneshbhai comes to us for our issues. He will win for sure.”But Yagnik Makwana, a Dalit youth from Pilucha village, predicts a “kante ki takkar (close fight)”. “A swing of even 5,000 votes can prove decisive. No one can afford to be complacent.”
The BJP will never implement a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in Gujarat, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said on Saturday, dubbing the saffron party’s poll promise as “fake”.The reaction of the Arvind Kejriwal-led party came after the ruling BJP released its manifesto for the Gujarat polls, promising the implementation of a UCC in the state if it retains power.“The BJP has ruled Gujarat for 27 years. After remaining at the helm for more than two decades, it is still making promises,” the AAP’s co-incharge for Gujarat, Raghav Chadha, told reporters.“If it was indeed their intent, they would have implemented it much ago,” Chadha said, asking, “Why didn’t they implement it?” “It is a fake promise. The BJP will never implement it (UCC),” he added. On October 29, the Gujarat government announced that it would form a committee for the implementation of a UCC. Other BJP-ruled states, such as Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, have also promised to implement a UCC. Chadha said neither the BJP nor the Congress is talking about the real issues in the run-up to the Gujarat polls. The AAP is the only party that has come up with a “model for the economic uplift” of the people of Gujarat, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s model of governance is sustainable, as it has defied the principle of diminishing returns, there is no anti-incumbency, and the graph is rising always upwards, Union Minister of State Dr Jitendra Singh said on Saturday.Since 2014, Modi has given a “new, different kind of model of governance, which is based on a new, different approach, and a different work culture”, the MoS for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, and PMO said.Addressing the inaugural session of 25th e-governance conference here, Singh said, “What is this governance model that I am trying to be boisterous about? Some authors have described it as Modi’s model of governance… It is not simply for name-dropping, as some cynics might feel. It is a model that has sustained itself for nearly 20 years, or more than 20 years, with Modi as the longest-serving head of government in any democracy.“Therefore, I have the courage and conviction to say this is a sustainable model of governance.”He said, “This is a model which has defied the principle of diminishing returns. On the contrary, with each passing year, the dividends have increased. There is no anti-incumbency…. The graph is always upwards, never down.”This is a model that has “grown stronger with each challenge”, because it was always prepared beforehand to face a challenge, Singh said. “As chief minister (of Gujarat), Mr Modi faced the earthquake in Gujarat. As Prime Minister, the pandemic (Covid-19). We were already prepared for it; we could do better.”Singh said it was due to this governance model that the Covid-19 pandemic could be managed. Recently, he said, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands appreciated the way India combatted Covid-19. “He said we (Amsterdam) could not manage with such a small population, how could you? I said because we were already prepared. So, this is the governance model (he is referring to).”Singh said the basic mantra of the Modi government is “maximum governance, minimum government”.“This sounds very fanciful…like a philosophy, an ornamental phrase…. But the simple meaning is a government that acts as a facilitator but does not act as an intimidator. That is how I have sought to interpret it…sarkaar ka abhav bhi nahin aur sarkaar ka prabhav bhi nahi (neither the absence of government nor the influence of government),” he said.Singh said the “whole of government, whole of nation and whole of society” approach has become the new norm to achieve the desired results in the shortest span of time”.The two-day National Conference on e-Governance (NCeG) is organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) and the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), in association with the Jammu & Kashmir administration. The theme of this year’s conference is “Bringing Citizens, Industry and Government closer”.Addressing the gathering, DARPG Secretary V Srinivas said the maxim ‘Maximum Governance, Minimum Government’ is represented by a digitally empowered nation, a digitally empowered citizenry, and a digitally transformed institution. Between 2014 and 2022, he said, the government has brought about digital transformation that has been accepted by the rural population through Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, BHIM UPI, CoWIN, Arogya Setu App.J&K Chief Secretary Arun Mehta said it is a proud moment for the UT to be hosting the 25th National Conference on e-Governance at Katra, which shows signs of changes taking place in the UT.Information Technology Secretary Alkesh Kumar called it an occasion to recognise and showcase exemplary digital transformations brought about by the Centre, the states and the start-up community.On the occasion, Singh presented the National Awards for e-Governance (NAeG) under five categories of the NAeG Scheme-2022 to 18 e-Governance initiatives at Central, state and district levels, academic and research institutions and Public Sector Undertakings.(The reporter was in Katra on an invitation from the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pensions)
Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday slammed the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying industrial projects coming to Maharashtra are being diverted to neighboring Gujarat as Assembly elections are being held there. He also called the BJP a “party of imports” and “chor bazaar (flea market)”.While addressing a farmers’ rally at Chikhli in Buldhana, Uddhav also slammed Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde for his “silence” over the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute, the alleged insult of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and the government’s inaction on farmers’ plight in the state.After stepping down as chief minister in June this year, this was Thackeray’s first rally outside Mumbai. Last month, Uddhav had addressed party workers at its annual Dussehra Rally at Shivaji Park.“The BJP has lost its ideology and is only importing people from other parties. It has become a party of imports. If you enlist, you will find how many people they have taken into their party from other parties. Nothing is left with them so they are stealing people from other parties. Is it a political party or ‘chor bazaar’,” Uddhav said.Hitting out at Modi, Uddhav said the PM would not hesitate to break Maharashtra and hand over villages to Karnataka with polls in Karnataka next year. “The projects coming to Maharashtra were diverted to Gujarat owing to the elections there. Now Karnataka chief minister is staking claims over Akkalkot and Solapur of Maharashtra. Karnataka is going to polls next year, I am afraid that as the PM sent the projects to Gujarat, he won’t hesitate before breaking Maharashtra into pieces,” Thackeray said.Taking a dig at Shinde, Uddhav said, “This CM might even say that what is the harm in handing over 40 villages to Karnataka …. PM has promised to get Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and give us 100 villages…..”Further attacking Shinde who along with his MPs and MLAs went to Guwahati, Uddhav said, “Today all these 40 people have gone to Guwahati to take blessings. A weekago he (Shinde) had gone to visit an astrologer to know his future. He doesn’t know his own future. And he is going to decide our future? In fact, his future is being decided by people sitting in Delhi. He has to follow their orders,” Thackeray said.Claiming that nearly 1,000 farmers had committed suicide in Maharashtra since the formation of the current dispensation in the state in July this year, Uddhav said if he would have been the CM, he would not have allowed such suicides to take place.In response to Uddhav’s attack, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The Maha Vikas Aghadi government, which held the reins of Maharashtra between November 2019 and June 2022, should explain where was its concern for farmers and the agriculture sector. Why did it fail to address the agrarian crisis?”
Aam Aadmi Party national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Saturday said that he is giving money to the people and “not taking it to Swiss bank”, replying to BJP’s accusations of him “squandering money”.“Ye mujhko BJP wale khoob galiyan dete hain…..Kejriwal sara paisa luta dega. Kejriwal janta ko hi toh paisa de raha hai (These BJP people curse me a lot…..Kejriwal will squander all the money. Kejriwal is only giving money to the public). Kejriwal is not taking the money to the Swiss bank, or building mansions or buying properties,” the AAP chief said in Bhavnagar.Kejriwal also repeated guarantees of free electricity, allowance for women, employment, unemployment allowance and raised the issue of paper leaks. The Delhi chief minister also claimed to reinstate the Old Pension Scheme by January 31 (2023), if they are voted to power. Asking just five years from his voters in the roadshow, the supremo said, “If I don’t work, then oust me.”AAP candidates from Bhavnagar West, Bhavnagar East, Bhavnagar Rural, Palitana, Gadhada, Botad and Talaja of Bhavnagar and Botad districts were present in the roadshow as well. All of these constituencies are the stronghold of the BJP, except for Talaja which is Congress dominated seat.Kejriwal also said that God will cause a miracle by sweeping the broom, the Aam Aadmi Party’s election symbol, and catapult his party to power in Gujarat.Raju Solanki, who is the AAP candidate from Bhavnagar West, of the two term MLA and Gujarat Education Minister Jitu Vaghani, who has been re-fielded from the same seat.When the “pot of sin is full, the Almighty sweeps his broom”, the AAP national convener claimed.“In all of Gujarat, a heavy storm of change is brewing. The entire state has stood up. Some miracle is going to happen this time. It is said in Bhagavadgita that whenever the pot of sin is full, the Almighty sweeps his broom. The Almighty has started sweeping his broom,” Kejriwal said.(With PTI)
Arvind Kejriwal asked the people assembled to give him a chance. (File)Bhavnagar: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said God will cause a miracle by sweeping the broom, the Aam Aadmi Party's election symbol, and catapult his party to power in Gujarat, where the two-phase Assembly polls are scheduled for December 1 and 5.When the "pot of sin is full, the Almighty sweeps his broom", the Aam Aadmi Party national convener claimed while addressing a roadshow in Bhavnagar in the poll-bound state."In all of Gujarat, a heavy storm of change is brewing. The entire state has stood up. Some miracle is going to happen this time. It is said in Bhagavadgita that whenever the pot of sin is full, the Almighty sweeps his broom. The Almighty has started sweeping his broom," Mr Kejriwal said.He said people getting zero electricity bills for the usage of 24-hour electricity, as part of AAP's poll promise of not charging for 300 units of power, would be the "magic" people will experience once his party forms government in Gujarat."This is magic. This 24-hour, zero-electricity bill is magic. And only Kejriwal knows how to perform that magic. No other party can perform this magic. I have been specially blessed by the Almighty and this can only be done by Mr Kejriwal and no other leader," he said.He said the Bharatiya Janata Party had done nothing for the state in its 27-year rule and voting for the opposition Congress was futile as its legislators would defect to the ruling party post-elections.Mr Kejriwal asked the people assembled at the roadshow to give him a chance to see what can be done in five years, adding they could "throw us out" if promises are not fulfilled."Today, people are suffering due to inflation. They are unable to survive. I will give you relief from inflation. After the formation of our government, I will pay your electricity bill from March 1," he said.Mr Kejriwal said women above the age of 18 will get Rs 1,000 per month as an honorarium, while youth will get Rs 3,000 as an unemployment allowance till they land a job."If you want to keep your children unemployed, you want to be abused, then you vote for them (BJP). This has been going on for 27 years. But if you want employment for your children, then vote for AAP," he asserted.Slamming the ruling BJP, he said frequent exam paper leaks in major competitive exams meant there was the involvement of big leaders."All paper leaks since 2015 will be probed and these big leaders will go to jail. We will completely eliminate the atmosphere of fear in the business world. We will create an environment to do business with courage and peace. We will give every businessman the respect they deserve," he said.Mr Kejriwal said an AAP government in the state would be free from corruption, and Value Added Tax and other pending refunds will be paid within six months (of coming to power).PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe Goods and Services Tax will be simplified, he added.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayRow Over Karnataka Chief Minister's Border Remark Intensifies