GANDHINAGAR: Flagging off the Vande Gujarat Vikas Yatra showcasing the achievements of the government over the past 20 years, chief minister Bhupendra Patel said on Tuesday that development and trust have become synonyms in governance of the state over the past two decades. For a fortnight between July 5 and 19, 82 decorated trucks will pass through eight big cities and all 33 districts where about 2,500 events will be organized. The government will educate people about the welfare schemes that can be availed of, a CMO statement said. At the inaugural function at Sabarmati riverfront, CM Patel said that BJP governments over the past 20 years have delivered on the promises they have made to the people. “Vikas (development) and Vishwas (trust) have become synonyms in Gujarat. BJP governments have consistently pursued development in the state and the people have repeatedly shown their trust by voting BJP to power,” the CM stated. Ministers will visit different districts over the next fortnight and about 2,500 development works will either be inaugurated, or their foundation stones laid, the CM said at the meeting. The CM listed various successful projects implemented in the state over the past 20 years.
The 145th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra was concluded in old city Ahmedabad amid huge fanfare and heavy police security Friday as Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel flagged off the procession only three days after he tested positive for Covid-19.The annual yatra was held after a gap of two years after the procession was curtailed for the past two years due to the pandemic.On Friday, the ceremony began around 4 am when Union Home Minister Amit Shah arrived at the temple premises to conduct the “Mangla Aarti”. Shah left shortly after.Later, CM Patel flagged off the procession. Uncertainty had prevailed over the CM’s presence in the yatra until Thursday after he contracted Covid. However, late Thursday, the Lord Jagannath Temple management was informed that the CM will attend the event as per “doctors’ advice”. On Friday morning, CM Patel was seen wearing a mask and performing the traditional “pahind” ceremony at the Lord Jagannath Temple premises.“On the occasion of the 145th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra, I pray for the well being, peace and prosperity of the people of Gujarat. I also congratulate the people of Kutch on Kutchi New Year,” said Patel, while addressing reporters outside the temple.Governor Acharya Devvrat, state Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi, Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Aravind Kumar and former state home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja were also present at the event.A total of 18 elephants and 101 tableau depicting various Akhadas and Bhajan Mandalis and over 2,000 sadhu saints, along with several hundred thousands of devotees were part of the procession that travelled via sensitive pockets of old city Ahmedabad from 7 am to 6 pm.Security was beefed up with over 25,000 police and security personnel in the Jamalpur area of old city Ahmedabad as a high alert was sounded in the wake of the Udaipur terror killing.The procession was surveilled through drone cameras and a helicopter. For the first time, the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad was roped in for security measures.Meanwhile, as many as 20 persons, including three children, received minor injuries when the slab of a one-room pucca cabin on which they were standing, collapsed, on the route of the rath yatra.According to police, the incident occurred around 1 pm when the roof of a cabin built alongsidethe road collapsed in Shahpur while the yatra procession was going on.Incidentally, state Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi and Ahmedabad city police commissioner Sanjay Srivastava were present at the spot when the incident occurred and they rushed for help.“As many as 20 people received minor injuries when the roof collapsed on which they were standing. The home minister and police commissioner responded to the accident and helped rescuers and took stock of the situation. The victims received minor bruises,” said a senior police official at Gaekwad Haveli Police Station.
Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, whose presence in the 145th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra to be taken out Friday morning in old city Ahmedabad was under clouds due to him testing Covid-19 positive, will attend the event under doctors’ advice. “We have got confirmation from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) that the CM will attend the Yatra and do the Pahind Vidhi,” said Jagannath Temple Trustee Mahendra Jha.As per Jha, since Patel’s presence was in doubt, they had also invited Governor Acharya Devvrat to perform the Pahind vidhi ritual, traditionally performed by the CM where the leader of the state sweeps the path of the chariot of the gods before the procession begins.On Friday, the yatra will be flagged off after the mangala aarti to be conducted by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the temple premises.Amid heightened tension in the backdrop of the recent terror killing in Udaipur, the Gujarat Police has been on high alert to prevent any untoward incident during the Yatra.Several lakhs of devotees are expected to attend the 145th Rath Yatra procession, which will be taken out from Lord Jagannath Temple at Jamalpur Darwaza to Saraspur and then back to the temple, in a full-fledged manner after two years of restricted procession due to the Covid-19pandemic.Other cities of Gujarat such as Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Mehsana, Banaskantha, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Sabarkantha and Gandhinagar, among others, will also see several rath yatra processions marking “Ashadhi Beej” diwas of the Hindu calendar, which also marks the Kutchhi new year.In a first, the state police has also roped in the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) for the security arrangements for the yatra for which over 25,000 police and paramilitary personnel will be deployed along the nine-kilometre route.The yearly Rath Yatra processions in Ahmedabad have had a history of communal violence during the four decades between 1960s and 90s.Ahmedabad Rath Yatra: With ‘docs’ advice’, CM to flag off Yatra; police on high alerthttps://t.co/yC3Kfivz4h pic.twitter.com/1qSqvN8joj— Express Gujarat (@ExpressGujarat) July 1, 2022On Wednesday, a high-level meet was chaired by Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi and senior police officials to discuss the security arrangements ahead of the procession in Ahmedabad and other cities of Gujarat.“Police commissioners of all four cities and superintendents of police of all districts were present in the meeting where the CM gave directions to ensure law and order and facilitate water and other necessary arrangements for the devotees expected to join the procession. In the wake of a recent incident in the neighbouring state (Rajasthan), the CM has asked police to be on high alert for maintaining law and order in the state,” read a statement issued from the Information Department, Gandhinagar.According to police sources, Sanghavi has asked the police to keep a strict watch on social media for any instigation or attempt to disrupt law and order related to Yatra and the Udaipur incident. After the meeting, the police of at least 15 districts issued advisories Thursday asking citizens to refrain from commenting on anything instigating or rumour-mongering on social media.“In the past two days, we have conducted over 350 peace committee meetings in localities of old city Ahmedabad to ensure harmony between communities. We are anyway on high alert and we have been preparing for the yatra for the past three months. The recent Udaipur incident will have no effect on the yatra,” RV Asari, additional commissioner of police, sector 1, Ahmedabad, told The Indian Express.Amit Vasava, the deputy commissioner of police, Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Cell, said, “We are being vigilant on social media but no adverse impact of the Udaipur incident has been witnessed yet.”Meanwhile, the temple trust management informed The Indian Express that a total of 18 elephants, 101 trucks with different tableaus depicting India’s culture, 30 Akhada Dal groups and 18 Bhajan Mandalis will be part of the procession. A total of 1,200 persons will be pulling the three different chariots in the procession.“We have been requested by the Ahmedabad Police to accompany the procession of elephants. We will have teams of vets from the animal husbandry department and experts from Indroda zoo in Gandhinagar and the Junagadh forest department. The elephants are well-trained and acquainted to walk in public places. If in case any elephant is to be controlled, it can be done by another elephant,” RK Sahu, director of Kankaria Zoo, told The Indian Express.
Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, whose presence in the 145th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra to be taken out Friday morning in old city Ahmedabad was under clouds due to him testing Covid-19 positive, will attend the event under doctors’ advice. “We have got confirmation from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) that the CM will attend the Yatra and dothe Pahind Vidhi,” said Jagannath Temple Trustee Mahendra Jha.As per Jha, as the CM’s presence was in doubt, they had also invited Governor Acharya Devvrat to perform the Pahind vidhi ritual, traditionally performed by the CM where the leader of the state sweeps the path of the chariot of the gods before the procession begins.On Friday, the yatra will be flagged off after the mangala aarti to be conducted by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the temple premises. Amid heightened tension in the backdrop of the recent terror killing in Udaipur, the Gujarat Police has been on high alert to prevent any untoward incident during the Yatra.Several lakhs of devotees are expected to attend the 145th Rath Yatra procession, which will be taken out from Lord Jagannath Temple at Jamalpur Darwaza to Saraspur and then back to the temple, in a full-fledged manner after two years of restricted procession due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Other cities of Gujarat such as Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Mehsana, Banaskantha, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Sabarkantha and Gandhinagar, among others, will also see several rath yatra processions marking “Ashadhi Beej” diwas of the Hindu calendar, which also marks the Kutchhi new year.In a first, the state police has also roped in the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) for the security arrangements for the yatra for which over 25,000 police and paramilitary personnel will be deployed along the nine-kilometre route.The yearly Rath Yatra processions in Ahmedabad have had a history of communal violence during the four decades between 1960s and 90s.On Wednesday, a high-level meet was chaired by Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi and senior police officials to discuss the security arrangements ahead of the procession in Ahmedabad and other cities of Gujarat.“Police commissioners of all four cities and superintendents of police of all districts were present in the meeting where the CM gave directions to ensure law and order and facilitate water and other necessary arrangements for the devotees expected to join the procession. In the wake of a recent incident in the neighbouring state (Rajasthan), the CM has asked police to be on high alert for maintaining law and order in the state,” read a statement issued from the Information Department, Gandhinagar.According to police sources, Sanghavi has asked the police to keep a strict watch on social media for any instigation or attempt to disrupt law and order related to Yatra and the Udaipur incident. After the meeting, the police of at least 15 districts issued advisories Thursday asking citizens to refrain from commenting on anything instigating or rumour-mongering on social media.“In the past two days, we have conducted over 350 peace committee meetings in localities of old city Ahmedabad to ensure harmony between communities. We are anyway on high alert and we have been preparing for the yatra for the past three months. The recent Udaipur incident will have no effect on the yatra,” RV Asari, additional commissioner of police, sector 1, Ahmedabad, told The Indian Express.Amit Vasava, the deputy commissioner of police, Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Cell, said, “We are being vigilant on social media but no adverse impact of the Udaipur incident has been witnessed yet.”Meanwhile, the temple trust management informed The Indian Express that a total of 18 elephants, 101 trucks with different tableaus depicting India’s culture, 30 Akhada Dal groups and 18 Bhajan Mandalis will be part of the procession. A total of 1,200 persons will be pulling the three different chariots in the procession.“We have been requested by the Ahmedabad Police to accompany the procession of elephants. We will have teams of vets from the animal husbandry department and experts from Indroda zoo in Gandhinagar and the Junagadh forest department. The elephants are well-trained and acquainted to walk in public places. If in case any elephant is to be controlled, it can be done by another elephant,” RK Sahu, director of Kankaria Zoo, told The Indian Express.
More than 600 workers of the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) from Dahod, Narmada, Chhota Udepur and Vadodara districts joined the BJP Tuesday at Gandhinagar in the presence of Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil.Dahod, which saw over 400 workers from the Congress and a few from AAP and BTP, also had eight councillors from the Jhalod Municipality, including President Sonal Dindor from the Congress, jump over to the BJP.The others include Dala Vasaiya, Khuman Mansinh Damor, Parsinh Damor and independent councillors Bhavesh Katara, Sukhram Milwad, Zakir Kanuga and Shankar Katara, among others. Dindor and Vasaiya were among the Congress councillors who had, in August 2020, voted in favour of the BJP in the election to Jhalod Municipality’s Presidential post, thus causing a furore. Soon, as Jhalod BJP President Hiren Patel was killed in an alleged case of contract killing, Dindor and Vasaiya submitted a memorandum to the district police citing ” threat to life”.A senior BJP leader said, “The party has welcomed strong workers to the fold… This is not just in preparation for the upcoming Assembly polls but also because it allows the BJP to strengthen its ground in these tribal districts, especially Narmada, Dahod and Chhota Udepur, where the Congress has traditionally been on a strong foot. Although the 2021 local body polls were in favour of the BJP in the districts, it will bring a major impact in the Assembly elections to have these strong leaders into the fold.”Additionally, Dahod Taluka Congress president Suresh Baka-liya as well as former General Secr-etary of Youth Congress Nikunj Meda and Vice-President of Dahod district Congress Mitesh Yadav joined the BJP. Valsinh Munia, son of former Congress MLA Virji Munia, along with Sanjeli Sarpanch Mavji Rawat , Singwad taluka Congress member Dipak Parmar and Veena Bhuriya from Garbada also joined the BJP.AAP leader Dhavalsinh Bhuriya as well as BTP President of Dahod Ajay Katara along with leader Nilesh Bamaniya joined the BJP. Nazimuddin Gangardiwala of the Congress city unit also joined the BJP. He even replaced his skull cap with the new saffron topi of the party at the event. Another leader, Sabur Sultan Tadvi, also joined the BJP.In Chhota Udepur, district Congress President Umesh Shah, along with his brother and President of Chhota Udepur Traders’ association, Dipesh Shah, joined the BJP. Former Congress district president Yashpal Rathwa, also the director of APMC, also joined the BJP. From Vadodara, former MS University senate member and trader Bipin Patel, Hitendra Gohil, Sandeep Bhagat, Wasim Malik (Sarpanch of Kia), Indravadan Bhagat and Sudha Patel from Kandari joined the BJP.Membership songGujarat BJP Tuesday launched a song prepared for its membership enrolment drive. The Gujarati song hails the party and its current top leadership.
Ahead of the Assembly polls in the state scheduled later this year, a meet was held between Gujarat Congress leaders and senior party officials in New Delhi on Monday.According to party officials, senior party leaders from state including Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Jagdish Thakor, Gujarat incharge Raghu Sharma, Leader of Opposition Sukhram Rathva, senior leaders Arjun Modhwadia, Deepak Babaria and spokesperson Manish Doshi were summoned to party headquarters in New Delhi.“An important meet in context of the coming elections began on Monday evening with senior party leaders such as All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi, KC Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Mukul Wasnik, Randeep Singh Surejwala and Jairam Ramesh,” said a senior official of Gujarat Congress.
It is the first such application in the entire country, claims the BJPAhmedabad: The ruling BJP in Gujarat on Tuesday launched 'President Dashboard', a computer application which a party leader claimed would not only collect and analyze personal information of voters but also predict poll results with accuracy.The application was launched by Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil, and party workers would use it to reach out to nearly 50 lakh households across the state to collect information and seek opinion of voters, a release said."Each booth in-charge would visit households in his area to collect information such as members in the family, birth date, marriage anniversaries and whether they have taken benefit of any government scheme or not. This data will be uploaded on our party's server," said Gujarat BJP's media coordinator Yagnesh Dave."Using the President Dashboard application, the state BJP president can see this data on his laptop or computer. It is the first such application in the entire country. We will also identify each voter. Whether he is a BJP supporter, or a party office bearer, or a supporter of the opposition party or a doubtful one," he added.On voting day, the booth in-charge would sit outside the booth with the same software and tick mark those who come to vote, and this data, by evening, would predict who is winning, Dave claimed.Speaking on the occasion, Paatil said voters will be contacted at booth level and information collected from them will be analyzed using the dashboard application.At present, Gujarat has 1.13 crore BJP members and 67 lakh page committee members. Paatil said, adding that the state unit has started a new enrollment drive.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comHe also launched a theme song for the new enrollment drive. PTI PJT BNM BNM(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have assured him full support for the development and growth of the state.Addressing hundreds of Shiv Sainiks on Monday night during his first visit to his hometown Thane after taking over as the CM, Shinde said the risk that he took (referring to political developments over the last fortnight) has been appreciated by people, despite criticism from certain quarters.“I am going to undertake a tour of the entire state and allot projects in every constituency. There will be a total transformation of the state. I do not exaggerate much, I do work and then speak,” he said.He said Prime Minister Modi has told him to work for the development and growth of the state.“He (the PM) told me that he and the central government would support me. Even Union Home Minister Amit Shah has expressed his full support. They said I am good work for Hindutva,” Shinde said.Referring to the political developments of the last fortnight when he along with some Sena MLAs left for Surat, later stayed in Guwahati and then in Goa before returning to Mumbai, Shinde said 50 legislators had faith and confidence in him.“We had stood up against injustice and not revolted. (Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray had asked us to rise against injustice, this was his teaching and also of (Shinde’s mentor) Anand Dighe,” he said, adding that it was due to the blessings of the two leaders and good wishes of citizens that he became the CM.“We were out for 15 days, and as much as you wanted to meet me, I was also eager to meet my Shiv Sainiks and activists. Even now I don’t feel like I am the CM. I am one among you. Henceforth also, I will be a ‘karyakarta’ among you all,” he said.Shinde said no matter how big his stature may grow, the Shiv Sainik in him will always remain.The CM also said he has given a commitment to the 50 MLAs who supported him that none of them will face defeat in the next elections.“If I give a commitment once, I never listen to even myself till it is fulfilled,” he said.Referring to some strong critical remarks made by Sena leaders after he had left Mumbai with some MLAs, Shinde said “Kamakhyadevi (the deity of a famous temple in Guwahati) gave her blessings to us.” “Truth always wins. We will make the best use of the golden opportunity we have got now to lead the state,” he said.“We have to make our mission successful and honour Hindutva, which also means respect every religion,” he said.Shinde said every caste, creed, and region will get due respect and everyone, including farmers and the poor people, will get justice in his government.In his speech in the Assembly after the floor test, he said, “Everything was spontaneous, whatever I spoke was an expression of my feelings. I could not believe that I could deliver such a speech.” “I have contributed to the Shiv Sena all my life at the cost of my family,” Shinde said while lauding his supporters who gathered in a large number during his address braving the heavy rain.The CM also visited the BJP office here and was greeted by BJP city president and MLC Niranjan Davkhare.
On Sunday, as office-bearers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took oath in Ahmedabad, national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched an attack on the Congress, calling it “a party only on paper” and urging AAP workers to ensure that “not a single vote is cast for it” in the state.The statement indicated that AAP, which had contested 29 seats in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections and lost deposits in all, has identified the Congress as its main opponent. And that as the first step in a state ruled by the BJP now for 27 years, is seeking to replace the Congress as the main Opposition.The BJP too seems to be recalibrating its political messaging, ahead of the approaching elections. Its attacks are now increasingly directed at the Congress in a bid to downplay the challenge from AAP – a party that has been causing the BJP some heartburn in several parts of the country.The two-day visit that concluded on Monday was Kejriwal’s fifth in two months to Gujarat, as part of its push in the state, which includes a membership drive, overhaul of the organisation, building of a cadre base, and appointment of Rajya Sabha MP and key strategist Sandeep Pathak as the state in-charge. Sunday’s speech indicated that while AAP’s social media campaign might be aimed at the BJP, it would refocus its energy on the Congress.Addressing some 7,000 new office-bearers, Kerjiwal asked them to conduct door-to-door campaigns, and educate voters on the “free electricity” and “free education” model of AAP in Delhi and Punjab. “We have to tell the people that there is no use voting for the Congress. Last time, they voted for the Congress, and today see how many Congress MLAs have left their own party… They should not waste their votes. The office-bearers of AAP must ensure that not a single vote is cast in favour of the Congress this Assembly election,” said Kejriwal.HISTORIC MOMENT IN GUJARAT POLITICS‼️A Record 6988 office bearers of AAP were administered the oath to serve the people honestly by AAP National Convenor @ArvindKejriwal.This is the beginning of “Change” in Gujarat!🔥#AAPGujaratShapathGrahan pic.twitter.com/95WGX4fZpa— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) July 3, 2022He said that people voted for the Congress as they did not have an alternative in the state if they were angry with the BJP. “On voting day, they see the option of the Congress and are forced to vote for the BJP. The votes of all such people should come to us. If we ensure this, then I say with conviction that the next government is ours,” Kejriwal said.After putting up its best result in 25 years in Gujarat, winning 77 of 182 seats in the Assembly elections of 2017 – wresting 36 of these from the BJP – the Congress has lost as many as 29 MLAs, with the last as recently as May, with most of them defecting to the BJP. Its tally in the House now is 64. Among those to leave was working president Hardik Patel, while its other hope, philanthropist-industrialist Patidar leader Naresh Patel, eventually decided to “not join politics”.The BJP has been wary of AAP since it struck rich in last year’s municipal corporation elections in Surat, the bastion of Gujarat BJP chief C R Paatil, winning 27 seats (all earlier held by the Congress). Last week, the BJP responded in kind to a Delhi team visiting Gujarat schools, by sending one of its own to the Capital, in a bid to bust one of AAP government’s showpiece initiatives.As part of its Assembly poll plan, AAP is expected to zero in first on the 36 Assembly constituencies it took from the BJP in 2017.Speaking to The Indian Express, AAP Gujarat president Gopal Italia said that “the Congress doesn’t have any strongholds in any of the belts of Gujarat”. “We have always maintained that the BJP and Congress behave like the A team and B team of one party… When there are only two runners in a race, then it’s obvious that one of them will come second. But we have come to change that scenario.”Admitting a decision to direct their attention to the Congress, Italia said: “Arvind Kejriwal noticed that the Congress is not doing anything on the ground in Gujarat so he asked karyakartas to target anti-BJP voters. We will tell people who have anger against the BJP that this time they are not helpless as AAP has arrived as an alternative.”Retaliating to AAP claims, Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said it was only helping the BJP. “AAP has been unable to govern Delhi and Punjab where crime and corruption are rampant. Now as an ally of the BJP, they want to enter Gujarat targeting the Congress. But the voters are better educated about AAP and will give them a befitting reply in the elections,” Doshi said.
A group of former judges and bureaucrats on Tuesday criticised the recent Supreme Court observations against suspended BJP member Nupur Sharma, alleging that the apex court surpassed the “Laxman rekha” and calling for “urgent rectification” steps.“In the annals of judiciary, the unfortunate comments have no parallel and are indelible scar on justice system of the largest democracy. Urgent rectification steps are called for as these have potentially serious consequences on democratic values and security of the country,” the statement signed by 15 former judges, 77 ex-all India services officers and 25 veterans said.The signatories include former chief justice of the Bombay High Court Kshitij Vyas, former Gujarat High Court judge S M Soni, former Rajasthan High Court judges R S Rathore and Prashant Agarwal and former Delhi High Court judge S N Dhingra.Former IAS officers R S Gopalan and S Krishna Kumar, ambassador (retired) Niranjan Desai, former DGPs S P Vaid and B L Vohra, Lt Gen V K Chaturvedi (retired) and Air Marshall (retired) S P Singh have also signed the statement which said the SC observations are not in sync with judicial ethos.“By no stretch these observations, which are not part of the judicial order, can be sanctified on the plank of judicial propriety and fairness. Such outrageous transgressions are without parallel in the annals of Judiciary,” it said.The Supreme Court had on July 1 come down heavily on Sharma for her controversial comments against Prophet Mohammad, saying her “loose tongue” has “set the entire country on fire” and that she is “single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country”.Refusing to entertain her plea for clubbing of FIRs lodged in various states against her for the remark, the bench held that the comment was made either for cheap publicity, political agenda or some nefarious activities.Criticising the observations, the statement said, “We, as concerned citizens, do believe that democracy of any country will remain intact till all the institutions perform their duties as per the constitution. Recent comments by the two judges of the Supreme Court have surpassed the Laxman Rekha and compelled us to issue an open statement.” These “unfortunate and unprecedented” comments have sent shockwaves in the country and outside, it claimed.Noting that Sharma sought access to justice system before the highest court, the statement said the court’s observations have no connect jurisprudentially with the issue raised in the petition and “transgressed in an unprecedented manner all canons of dispensation of justice”.“She was defacto denied access to judiciary and in the process, there was an outrage on the preamble, spirit and essence of the Constitution of India,” it alleged. In the observations, there is virtual exoneration of the “dastardliest beheading at Udaipur in broad daylight,” it claimed.It further said, “Legal fraternity is bound to be surprised and shocked at the observation that an FIR should lead to arrest. The observations on other agencies in the country, without notice to them, are indeed worrisome and alarming.” The signatories also defended Sharma’s plea for clubbing all FIRs against her citing previous orders of the apex court.“One fails to understand, why Nupur’s case is treated at a different pedestal. Such an approach of the Supreme Court deserves no applause and impacts the very sanctity and honour of the highest court of land,” it said. Sharma’s comments against the Prophet during a TV debate had triggered protests across the country and drew sharp reactions from many Gulf countries. The BJP subsequently suspended her from the party.The apex court had also pulled up the Delhi Police which has registered an FIR against her. The bench said, “What has happened in the investigation so far? What has Delhi Police done so far? Don’t make us open our mouth? They must have put a red carpet for you.”
Gujarat Revenue Minister Rajendra Trivedi on Monday visited the flood-ravaged villages of Borsad taluka in Anand district and handed over compensation cheques for Rs 4 lakh to families of three persons killed in the flash floods of Saturday night.Trivedi also assured that families who have lost domestic animals in the floods will also receive compensation shortly.Accompanied by District Collector M Y Daxini and BJP MP Mitesh Patel, along with other elected representatives and teams of NDRF, Trivedi visited the affected areas and interacted with people in the shelter homes, distributing grains and sarees to women.Trivedi, who is the guardian minister of Anand district, also handed over the compensation cheques for Rs 4 lakh to the families of the three deceased persons –Sanjay Patel, Kisan Baria, and Sana Thakur.Speaking to reporters, Trivedi said that despite the taluka receiving over 300mm rainfall in 24 hours, the administration and the BJP “did its best” in the given situation.In response to a query about the pre-monsoon work of the administration in the flood-affected areas, Trivedi said, “It is not the question of the pre-monsoon work in this matter. When any place receives rainfall of 1 foot (300 mm) in a span of 24 hours, the low-lying areas are bound to be flooded… Even in such a situation, the administration was able to reach everyone and shift people to safer places. Unfortunately, three persons were killed but the government did not sit back and watch… The revenue department, collector’s office and the workers of the BJP got together and faced the floods…”Trivedi added that the government would soon also release the compensation to families that have lost domestic animals.“We are aware that many domestic animals were drowned in the flood… I surveyed the villages today and I could see the flood water has left marks up to 11 feet… Our party workers and elected representatives have travelled through the flood waters on tractors and along with the district administration ensured that all people were taken care of.. We had 200 people in the shelter home and everyone was served food,” Trivedi said.Collector MY Daxini said that Trivedi distributed sarees to 180 women and grains to families at the shelter home, who will slowly be shifted back to their homes.“The water has receded in most places but the teams are working on surveying the area. The health teams are also in action, checking those families that are still in the shelters and villages where water has just receded are being sanitised. The carcasses of animals are also being disposed of,” Daxini told The Indian Express.“So far, close to 150 families have moved back to villages such as Bhadran but about 186 families from Sisva and around are still in the shelter. The survey teams will complete their work and in a day or two, we will also complete the cash dole for compensation and loss of household items as per government rule,” the collector added.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is all set to make an entry in Madhya Pradesh in the coming local body elections and has fielded candidates in 14 of the 16 municipal corporations. It has promised the electorate free electricity and water, and corruption-free municipal corporations committed to resolving civic issues.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a road show in support of the party’s Singrauli mayoral candidate Rani Agarwal on Saturday. In his address, the AAP convener said, “We will solve all the issues of the municipality, including roads, electricity, water, and employment with the support of the people of Singrauli. Both the BJP and the Congress are peas of the same pod. They both only care about amassing wealth when in power. The AAP doesn’t believe in gobbling up funds, we put money in the common man’s pockets.”दिल्ली के मुख्यमंत्री माननीय @ArvindKejriwal जी से मुलाकात हुई। मध्यप्रदेश के निकाय चुनाव के विषय पर सकारात्मक चर्चा हुई। केंद्रीय नेतृत्व के सहयोग से हम निश्चित ही निकाय चुनाव में सकारात्मक परिणाम लाएंगे।@AamAadmiParty @AapKaGopalRai @Mukeshgoelaap @AAPMPOfficial pic.twitter.com/xQWKHk0BO6— Rani Agrawal (@AAPRaniAgrawal) May 25, 2022Referring to his government’s welfare schemes in Delhi, Kejriwal promised to replicate it in Madhya Pradesh by giving free electricity, free education, and free water, and developing the education system,“We will change Singrauli in the next five years if voted to power,” he told the voters. “If I cannot walk the talk, I won’t show my face in the next election seeking votes.”In the coming days, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, and Delhi MLA Atishi Singh are scheduled to visit Madhya Pradesh to campaign for the party’s candidates.The AAP made its debut in Madhya Pradesh in 2013 but failed to make any impact in the state’s politics. Now, looking to expand its footprint nationally — after Punjab and Goa, the party is eyeing states such as Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Assam — it has decided to enter the poll fray in Madhya Pradesh.AAP state president Pankaj Singh told The Indian Express that the party started off with two membership drives — Mission “Buniyad”, followed by Mission “Vistar” — to consolidate its presence in the state and has more than 2.5 lakh workers across the state. At present, the party claims to be in a good position in Singrauli. Its mayoral candidate Rani Agarwal grabbed attention in the 2018 Assembly polls by finishing third on the party ticket with a 21.59 per cent vote share. She was marginally behind the BJP’s Ram Lallu Vaishy who won the seat with 24.63 per cent votes while the Congress’s Renu Sahu finished second with 22.13 per cent votes.Poll promisesOn June 26, the AAP released its poll manifesto called the “Seva Vachan Patra”. Congress youth leader Akash Hunka joined the party on the occasion. “We extend a warm welcome to Hunka and his colleagues into the party. There are many leaders both from the BJP and the Congress who are keen to join the AAP as they feel frustrated in their respective parties with little scope to work for people’s welfare. If their ideology is compatible with ours, they’re most welcome,” said Pankaj Singh.The AAP state chief explained that in every ward won by the party it would ensure free water, a library, and a mohalla (neighbourhood) clinic. Singh said 22,000 education institutions were shut down in 2018 and at least 42,000 schools did not have drinking water facilities as either handpumps or taps were not functioning. He alleged that only the schools run by BJP leaders and workers were thriving in the state. The AAP leader also announced that cleaning workers on contract would be made permanent municipal employees if the AAP got elected.The local body polls are being held in the backdrop of a heated debate between the Congress and BJP over reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Along with the AAP, Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) are in the fray for seven mayoral seats, a handful of councillor posts, and one panchayat.
Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat had the task of leading the Congress into the Assembly elections this year. He lost from the Lalkuan constituency while the party’s tally slumped to 19 seats. In a wide-ranging interview, Rawat talks to The Indian Express about his party’s heavy loss, his future and that of the party, and the BJP government’s performance.Excerpts:The Pushkar Singh Dhami administration has completed 100 days and is making several claims about the work it has done. How do you rate the government’s performance?I feel that 100 days are not enough to judge a chief minister’s performance. We need at least one year and only in that much time, we can understand the direction a government is working in and what its intention is. News items have appeared that there has been corruption in giving jobs. The government itself has accepted that there is some corruption in recruitment in cooperative banks. The law-and-order situation is deteriorating. In the last 100 days, at least 10,000 youths have joined the list of the unemployed. Over 200 persons died during the Chardham Yatra. Where are the medical services? Roads are in the worst condition. There are frequent power cuts.You have been protesting against the Agnipath scheme. What is your take on it?It is a fraud against more than 50,000 youngsters who completed their medical and physical tests and were waiting for their appointment. Now you are saying that recruitment will take place afresh through the new scheme. In states like Uttarakhand and Haryana, being in the Army is a matter of great pride.When a 21-year-old will retire, what will he do? Where are the posts? In Uttarakhand, around 18,000 persons have lost their jobs since the BJP government came to power. Their chief minister is saying that they will give reservation to Agniveers in jobs. How will you give reservation beyond 50 per cent? There is no state where the reservation isn’t already close to 48-50 per cent.You have praised CM Dhami on several occasions.Yes. In fact, I am again going to appreciate him for promoting honey and bay leaf in Champawat. I have also praised him for making significant demands (seeking an extension of the GST compensation and on share on the Tehri dam) in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But there should be results too.It is good that he is trying to amend the mistake he made during the division of assets with Uttar Pradesh and said 25 per cent share of Uttar Pradesh should be given to us. I appreciate this. The demand for an extension of the GST compensation is also appreciable, and I am saying that it needs to be increased for 10 years. If the CM is making the right noise, I will stand by him. However, if his voice is not heard, I will say that the ‘double engine’ they keep talking about is a non-starter.The Supreme Court has commented on the Nupur Sharma controversy.I appreciate the Supreme Court comment and thank it. The decision has also shown a mirror to the Central government and the BJP.After your loss, we heard you saying that the Muslim University controversy was the main reason behind your defeat.First, there were some faults in decisions related to me, especially on if I should contest the elections or not. If you are saying that I need to contest, you should have let me fight from the seat I wanted. When it was mandatory that I contest, my seat should have been decided when candidates for the first 50 seats were announced. I chose a constituency from the remaining 20 seats. When I chose that seat (Ramnagar), it was changed just two days later and I was asked to go to Lalkuan. When I reached Lalkuan, the candidate there did not like it. All this damaged the party’s prospects. However, I do not blame any one person for this.Even after this, we were in a close fight. To tackle that, the Muslim University controversy was created. The entire propaganda machinery of the BJP was activated. The PM, dozens of central ministers, and several BJP CMs, all started attacking me. They started saying things like they are giving free ration, and the Congress is giving Muslim University. I even challenged BJP to show me the news article in which I announced building a Muslim University. BJP forged a paper in their social media room and spread that. The party (Congress) though we do not need to address the Muslim University allegation. This made people suspect that maybe the BJP is telling the truth.Do you think not declaring you the CM candidate was a mistake?I will not say that, but I believed that to strategically answer the BJP we needed to say that we are fighting under this person. They (BJP) always make the elections about (Narendra) Modi. Like if the Muslim University lie wasn’t propagated by Modi, it would not have worked. The lie was coined up by him, and the rest were just spreaders. People were watching Modi and felt that he is saying so maybe Harish Rawat is doing something wrong.A person (Congress leader Aqeel Ahmad) gave the memorandum (demanding a Muslim University) and someone took it. It was later leaked to the media. Harish Rawat was nowhere involved. This person (Ahmad) was here promoted to party state vice-president and also sent to campaign for my daughter (Anupama Rawat) in Haridwar Rural. All this was under a planned conspiracy to establish that the said person is close to me …The BJP planned this conspiracy against you, or did your own party do this?I do not know that, but I have decided that I will go to court against this. I have given several chances to the BJP to prove their claim. I will now ask for justice and protection.Do you agree that the Congress is going through a bad phase both at the state and nationally? Do you have a revival plan?Recently, we met in Udaipur and analysed everything in detail. On six major planks, we have taken more than 100 decisions that are to be implemented or are being implemented. We will revert to the old stand of the Congress. Our core strength is inclusiveness, nationalism, and Indianism. We are the ones who created India of the 21st century.But, our enemies have started calling us non-Indians and anti-nationals. They mislead people about our inclusiveness and called it Muslim appeasement. We thought that this misinformation will not work. But we forget that sometimes people want some spicy things too. Such spicy things were created in the RSS factory. They created a narrative and that is why a new era started on the pretext of the ‘Gujarat model’ which nobody has seen… We know that if we are on the right path and follow the right morals, that is the only answer. People changed their tastes in search of spice, but now they are getting frustrated with that too.The internal tussle in state Congress continues. Is there a plan to tackle it?My blessings are with the new leadership. As far as the tussle is considered, these kinds of things are there within any party. When four people will dig a field, the shovels will always collide.Did you ever consider leaving politics?There is a time for everything and the situation right now is not like that. If the circumstances for Congress were normal, and the party was in strength, then it would be right. Today if I leave politics, you will give just a half-page article in the newspaper. I also cannot leave Congress as it will be a crime I cannot dare commit. However, if Sonia (Gandhi) ji said ‘Harish now you are very tired’, I would leave politics immediately.
Good morning,In today’s edition: A Supreme Court judge wants mandatory regulation of social media; Covid crisis brings estranged couples together in Gujarat; and why over 50% of Indigo flights were delayed. The Big StoryWith the BJP eyeing regions and vote banks where it has not been able to make any significant inroads or electoral gains, sources told The Indian Express that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked leaders at the party’s national executive meeting, which concluded on Sunday, to reach out to “deprived and downtrodden sections” in communities other than Hindus.Addressing the national executive meeting of the BJP in Hyderabad, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that it will be the era of the BJP for the next 30 to 40 years and India will become Vishwa guru within the next few decades. Shah also claimed that BJP will end “family rule” in Telangana and West Bengal in the upcoming elections.Only in The ExpressIn this edition of the Idea Exchange, AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe talks about why civil and mechanical engineering courses need to incorporate AI and a start-up/entrepreneurial spirit, and how industry involvement and curriculum upgrade are key to students’ employability.From the front pageTwo heavily armed militants from the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were overpowered by villagers in J&K’s Reasi district and were tied up in ropes, prompting Lt Governor Manoj Sinha to announce a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh. However, their capture led to a flutter in J&K political circles after it emerged that one of them had headed the IT and Social Media Cell of the BJP Minority Morcha in Jammu province.The Calcutta High Court ordered the termination of services of 273 primary teachers in state-in schools due to alleged irregularities and corruption in the recruitment process. Among them, several were found to have links to the ruling-Trinamool Congress or CPI(M). We visited the homes of 12 of those 12 sacked in the districts of Hooghly, Howrah, and Purba Bardhaman. Most of them were not available. Their family members spoke of fear and public shame. Days after a Supreme Court vacation Bench lashed out at former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her remarks on the Prophet, one of the judges who was part of the Bench has expressed concern over the use of digital and social media for “expressing personalised opinions” against judges, and called for mandatory regulation of such media to “preserve the rule of law” in the country. His remarks come amid criticism on social media of the Bench’s observations in the case. Must ReadA total of 303 cases — relating to divorce, maintenance, and guardianship of children — were resolved by the Lok Adalat on June 26; a record for a single day, family court judge R G Devdhara said. And in about 30 per cent of the cases that were resolved, the estranged couples decided to give themselves a second chance of being together. Advocate Preeti Joshi told The Indian Express that the curse of Covid turned out to be a blessing for several separated couples whom the crisis reunited.A massive landslide which hit the Tupul railway construction site late on June 29 in Manipur’s Noney district has so far claimed 42 lives — 27 Territorial Army personnel and 15 civilians, including railway employees, construction workers and villagers. Still missing are 20 people. Now into its fourth day, a massive operation by a combined force of the National and State Disaster Response Forces, the Indian Army, Assam Rifles and police has run into hurdle after hurdle. Sporadic rain. Mud roads caused by inclement weather. The sheer volume of debris. And fear — loose soil and small boulders continue to tumble down from the hills.The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council in its 47th meeting held last week undertook a series of rate changes as part of correction of inverted duty structure, withdrawal of certain exemptions in what could be a precursor for an overall tweaking of tax slabs and rate rationalisation in future. The GST Council discussed recommendations of four ministerial panels — on rate rationalisation, on movement of gold and precious stones, system reforms, and casinos, horse racing and online gaming.More than half of the flights operated by IndiGo, India’s largest airline, were delayed on Saturday as a large number of its cabin crew members called in sick. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken note of this development, and has sought a report from the airline on the delays, officials said. According to information sourced from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, IndiGo’s on-time performance on Saturday was 45.2 per cent, meaning less than half of its flights departed within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure time. Notably, Saturday also marked the beginning of the second phase of Tata Group-owned Air India’s recruitment drive for cabin crew members.And FinallyThe raw digits convey that India’s bowlers let England fightback from 83 for 5 and then 149 for 6 to post 284 runs. A classic England stung-by-the-lower-order tour story. Just change the names and dates. A once-typical losing the steam at the end narrative. Except that it was not. Instead, it was one of India’s finest bowling recoveries in recent times. They did let England off the hook, but they regathered to pull the hook back. Bazball-indoctrinated Jonny Bairstow could have blown them away, but they clutched at the straws, hung onto the swaying pole and then whipped up a furious storm of their own post lunch, counterpunching the counterpunch.Acting governor of the State of California Eleni Kounalakis met Chief Justice of India N V Ramana at the official residence of the Consul General of India in San Francisco on Saturday. The CJI, who is on a tour of the US, presented to her a copy of the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi.In today’s episode of the ‘3 Things’ podcast, we talk about the murder in Maharashtra’s Amravati district of the 54-year-old chemist named Umesh Prahladrao Kolhe, who had allegedly posted Nupur Sharma’s video on social media. Silchar witnesses unprecedented flooding, and Neeraj Chopra breaks the national record twice in two weeks.Until next time,Leela Prasad and Srishti Kapoor
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday slammed the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for its report that put India, along with China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and 11 other nations, in the list of “countries of particular concern” over religious freedom.The USCIRF, a US federal government commission appointed by the President and the leadership of both parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives, designated India as a “country of particular concern for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)”.Hitting out at the USCIRF, the MEA’s spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said “these comments reflect a severe lack of understanding of India and its constitutional framework, its plurality and its democratic ethos… Such actions only serve to strengthen concerns about the credibility and objectivity of the organisation”.Similar criticism from international organisations, including government entities and NGOs, has drawn quick, and caustic, responses from the Modi government earlier too.On June 29, the MEA had hit back at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for its criticism of the arrests of activist-journalist Teesta Setalvad and ex-DGP RB Sreekumar after a Supreme Court order upheld a Special Investigation Team (SIT)’s clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 Gujarat riots. “We are very concerned by the arrest and detention of #WHRD @TeestaSetalvad and two ex police officers and call for their immediate release. They must not be persecuted for their activism and solidarity with the victims of the 2002 #GujaratRiots,” the UN human rights body said.Joining the issue with the OHCHR, Bagchi said its remarks “constitute an interference in India’s independent judicial system,” adding that “Indian authorities act against violations of law in accordance with established judicial processes. Labelling such legal actions as persecution for activism is misleading and unacceptable”.A New York Times article on April 18, headlined “India Is Stalling the WHO’s Efforts to Make Global Covid Death Toll Public” drew sharp reaction from India. The article said India was objecting to make the data of WHO (World Health Organisation)’s study on Covid-19 mortalities public as the latter estimated 4.7 million deaths, directly or indirectly attributable to Covid, during 2020-21 as against the country’s official Covid death count of just 481,486. In a statement, the Union Health Ministry questioned the WHO’s methodology, saying: “Despite India’s objection to the process, methodology and outcome of this modelling exercise, WHO has released the excess mortality estimates without adequately addressing India’s concern.”Last year, on December 2, the MEA responded to the OHCHR’s criticism of the arrest of human rights activist Khurram Parvez on charges of alleged terrorism, claiming that the UN human rights body’s statement — against “crackdown on civil society actors”, use of “sweeping counter-terrorism measures” and killings of civilians — made “baseless and unfounded allegations against law enforcement authorities and security forces of India” and that Parvez’s “arrest and… detention” was “entirely as per provisions of law”.At an India Today conclave on March 14, 2021, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was asked about India’s downgrading by two of the leading democracy- rating agencies — the US-based Freedom House, which classified India as “partly free”, down from “free” earlier, and a Swedish organisation, Varieties of Democracy, which categorised India as an “electoral autocracy”.Jaishankar responded by questioning the criteria that the organisations use. “It is hypocrisy. We have a set of self-appointed custodians of the world who find it very difficult to stomach that somebody in India is not looking for their approval, and is not willing to play the game they want to play. So they invent their rules, their parameters, pass their judgments and make it look as if it is some kind of global exercise,” he said.During the year-long farmer protests against the three now-repealed farm laws, the Narendra Modi-led government drew widespread criticism from various international quarters.In February 2021, singer Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg voiced their support for the protesting farmers. While Rihanna shared an article about internet shutdowns during the farm protests, Thunberg shared a toolkit for those supporting the farmers, which prompted a police investigation. Subsequently, former adult film star Mia Khalifa also extended her support to the farmers.Reacting to such criticism, the MEA had then said, “The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector,” which have “expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers.” It claimed that only “a very small section of farmers in parts of India” had “some reservations about these reforms and that “respecting the sentiments of the protestors, the Government of India has initiated a series of talks with their representatives… Yet, it is unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them. This was egregiously witnessed on January 26, India’s Republic Day.”Echoing the ministry, several BJP leaders also came down heavily on Rihanna and Thunberg. “We stand together. We stand United against all attempts to malign India through propaganda and fake narratives,” BJP president J P Nadda tweeted. At a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was responsible for the row, charging that “He (Rahul) goes abroad to hatch conspiracy with anti-India elements as to how to defame India and drag the country into controversies”.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxA few months later, on July 21, 2021, when a consortium of news organisations and human rights bodies including NGO Amnesty international broke the news about the government having allegedly deployed a spyware Pegasus to snoop on phones and devices of rival leaders, journalists and others, the BJP’s Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma demanded Amnesty’s banning, alleging that it was part of a “long history of hatching conspiracies against India’s democratic fabric and its leadership”.In January 2019, US Department of state report, which expressed concern over the plight of minorities in India, upset the government, which said the former did not have any “locus standi” to “pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.In July 2019, the UN Human Rights body’s report on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which was an updated version of its 2018 report on the same issue, also drew criticism from the MEA, which dismissed it as a “false” and violative of “India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. The then MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the report was “merely a continuation of the earlier false and motivated narrative” on the J&K situation.
Appeasement politics practised by governments led by opposition parties has led to communalism and radicalisation in the country, said Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah on Sunday. India will move forward to become “Vishwa Guru” when the politics of appeasement, dynasty and casteism ends in the country, he said.On the concluding day of the BJP national executive meeting, Shah, who moved the political resolution setting the target for the upcoming elections, said the coming “30-40 years will be the era of the BJP”, which is focused on “politics of development and performance”.Shah began his address highlighting the recent Supreme Court verdict on Gujarat that agreed with the findings of the Special Investigation Team appointed by it that there was no “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 Gujarat riots, endorsing the clean chit to Narendra Modi, who was then the state’s chief minister, and others in cases related to the riots.“Amit Shahji has drawn the attention of the leaders to the historic judgment by the Supreme Court on Gujarat. He said whatever allegations were on the PM have been proved wrong. The judgment has exposed the conspiracies of ideological-oriented mediapersons and NGOs. Throughout the years he (Modi) has maintained silence, like Lord Neelkantha (Lord Shiva)…, he too swallowed poison and kept it in his throat,” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, briefing the media about the political resolution. “The Home Minister said he (Modi) did not make a political drama like a certain leader did when he was called for questioning by an investigation agency.”Both Sarma and Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai seconded the resolution. While Sharma referred to the BJP’s achievements and focus on the Northeast, Bommai elaborated on the political developments in the southern states.“He spoke about the rising fundamentalists and their organisation. Congress does caste politics and for them there is jaati within jaati. But the BJP will soon have a breakthrough in the south. Next growth area of the BJP will come from the south,” Sarma said, adding that the BJP will come to power in the southern states, including in Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, as well as in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha.Quoting Shah, Sarma said the Union Home Minister referred to the Northeast region and how Modi has initiated developments there. Asked about the delay in signing of the Naga peace accord, Sarma said: “By 2024, there will be no fault line. All issues will be resolved.”In his address, Shah said the Congress has “Modi phobia” and is opposed to everything – surgical strike, triple talaq, Yoga Day, Ram Mandir and even the Covid vaccination. “They opposed every policy that were initiated by this government for the poor,” Sarma said.“The Congress is a party of a family. There were demands for internal elections but they are not doing it,” Sarma said, adding that the BJP “considers politics as a way to serve people”.Asked if the political resolution discussions referred to suspended party spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments on the Prophet and the violent protests against it or the Udaipur and Amaravati killings, Sarma said Shah reiterated that violence in politics should not be there and that he “spoke about fundamentalism and appeasement”.Shah lauded Prime Minister Modi for choosing a Dalit as the President in 2017 and a tribal woman candidate for the July 18 presidential election. Shah also referred to the Agnipath recruitment scheme, appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, banning the import of 340 defence items and abrogation of 370 among others as the Modi government’s achievements.
Days after the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra comprising the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party collapsed, opposition’s presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha Sunday said he will not hesitate to restrain the Centre from destablising state governments run by Opposition parties.Sinha, who is currently touring Karnataka to seek support before the presidential polls on July 18, said, “I shall have no hesitation to restrain the central government if it in any way aids and abets outrageously undemocratic practices like ‘Operation Kamal’, which was used to destabilize Opposition-ruled governments in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra and several other states.”He said, “I have declared that I shall speak out against any attempts aimed at communal polarization of India. I have announced that I shall defend the freedom of press, freedom of speech and other rights and freedoms the Constitution grants (with reasonable restrictions) to citizens, regardless of their religion or ideology. I have also announced that I shall work for the repeal of the sedition law.”Following the Supreme Court’s remarks on former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s statements, he said, “I was very happy to see in the newspapers today a statement by NV Ramana, the Chief Justice of India, that the ‘Judiciary is answerable to the Constitution and Constitution alone.’ I fully endorse this view and congratulate CJI Ramana for this forthright affirmation. Indeed, I have been saying, since I filed my nomination papers on June 27, that the sole purpose behind my acceptance of the combined Opposition’s offer to be their candidate is to safeguard the Constitution and its lofty values, which are today under unprecedented threat.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox“In the past eight years, the ruling dispensation at the Centre has launched repeated assaults on democracy and secularism, which form the founding principles of our Republic. It has unleashed a poisonous communal propaganda to divide India’s multi-religious society. Day before yesterday, the Supreme Court made a stinging indictment of Nupur Sharma’s remarks on Prophet Mohammed, saying ‘Your loose tongue set the nation on fire.’ Regrettably, BJP supporters are trolling the Honourable Supreme Court for condemning her remarks.”He further said, “The central government has weaponized ED, CBI, Election Commission and even the Governor’s office against Opposition parties, their leaders and their governments. In Maharashtra, it toppled the coalition government of the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress by facilitating the kidnapping of Shiv Sena MLAs to Gujarat and Assam, both being BJP-ruled states. The Centre has no respect for the federal structure of the Constitution. It is constantly encroaching upon the powers of states.”In Karnataka, the government has been attempting to communalise the minds of the young generation by introducing a new school curriculum coloured by the ruling party’s ideological agenda, he added.
Addressing the national executive meeting of the BJP in Hyderabad, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday that it will be the era of the BJP for the next 30 to 40 years and India will become Vishwa guru within the next few decades.Praising Supreme Court’s order on the 2002 Gujarat riots, which gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others, Shah said, the order was historic. He further added that Modi kept faith in the constitution and faced the SIT, which was formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the case.Shah referred to the protests against Rahul Gandhi being summoned by the Enforcement Directorate with the Gujarat riots case and said that the Opposition was spreading anarchy when they face corruption charges.Calling the Opposition disjointed, Shah said that the Congress was fighting for democracy within their own party. He further added that Congress had become a family party and a new president wasn’t being elected because Gandhis fear the loss of control over the party.Shah also claimed that BJP will end “family rule” in Telangana and West Bengal in the upcoming elections.
The opposition candidate for the presidential polls, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, Sunday said that the BJP government in Karnataka was attempting to communalize school curriculum in the state.Sinha, who was in Bengaluru to meet Congress MLAs to canvas support for the presidential polls on July 17, said the government in Karnataka is “attempting to communalize the minds of the young generation by introducing a new school curriculum coloured by the ruling party’s ideological agenda.’’The presidential candidate for the opposition also welcomed the statement of the Chief Justice of India that the judiciary is answerable only to the Constitution.“Indeed, I have been saying, since I filed my nomination papers on June 27, that the sole purpose behind my acceptance of the combined Opposition’s offer to be their candidate is to safeguard the Constitution and its lofty values, which are today under unprecedented threat,” Sinha said.The former Union minister said he had great regard for BJP presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader, but added that the saffron party candidate must vouch to stand up for constitutional values and not remain a rubber stamp president.“In the past eight years, the ruling dispensation at the Centre has launched repeated assaults on democracy and secularism, which form the founding principles of our Republic. It has unleashed a poisonous communal propaganda to divide India’s multi-religious society,’’ he said.“Day before yesterday, the Supreme Court made a stinging indictment of Nupur Sharma’s remarks on Prophet Mohammed, saying ‘Your loose tongue set the nation on fire.’ Regrettably, BJP supporters are trolling the Honorable Supreme Court for condemning her remarks,’’ Sinha added.“The central government has weaponized the ED, CBI, Election Commission and even the Governor’s office against Opposition parties, their leaders and their governments. In Maharashtra, it toppled the coalition government of the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress by facilitating the kidnapping of Shiv Sena MLAs to Gujarat and Assam, both being BJP-ruled states. The Centre has no respect for the federal structure of the Constitution. It is constantly encroaching upon the powers of states,’’ Sinha said.The opposition candidate for the presidential polls held a meeting with Congress MLAs chaired by the leader of the Congress in the state legislature and former chief minister Siddaramaiah. The Congress in Karnataka has five Rajya Sabha members, one Lok Sabha member and 69 MLAs who can vote in the presidential polls.The other opposition party in Karnataka, the Janata Dal (Secular), has announced intent to support the candidature of BJP nominee Droupadi Murmu. The JD(S) has a seat each in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha and 32 MLAs in the Karnataka legislature.
WITH THE Speaker’s election slated for Sunday after Shiv Sena announced the candidature of its MLA Rajan Salvi for the post against BJP’s Rahul Narwekar, the stage is set for the first test for the newly sworn-in Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his group of Sena rebels, and for BJP and the Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.Shinde and Fadnavis were sworn in on Thursday and the Governor has called for a special session of the assembly on Sunday and Monday for the Speaker’s election followed by a floor test. The election will mark the first battle in the House between Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena which has 16 MLAs, and Shnde-led rebel group with 39 MLAs.On Saturday, Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu issued a whip, asking all the MLAs to be present in the assembly and cast their votes in favour of Salvi.Replying to the whip issued by Prabhu, Chief Minister Shinde asserted that it does not apply to his group as they have more than two-thirds of the total 55 Sena MLAs. He said, “We will face the floor test and we will win”.Sources said a separate whip is likely to be issued by the Shinde faction for the election and the floor test.Ajay Chaudhari, Shiv Sena legislative party leader said, “We have a strategy in place but I can’t disclose it now.’’ Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said, “We will fight the Speaker’s election and we believe in the Constitution. I have heard that the Shinde faction spokesperson Deepak Kesarkar said that Uddhav Thackeray is their leader. These MLAs now must obey the whip and vote for Rajan Salvi.”Shiv Sena parliamentary party leader Vinayak Raut said, “We have issued a whip that the rebel MLAs should vote for Rajan Salvi. If they don’t, it will be an added material in our case in Supreme Court for disqualifying them.”A three-time MLA, Salvi was accompanied by Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, Sena legislature party leader Ajay Chaudhari, state NCP chief Jayant Patil, and Congress legislative party leader Balasaheb Thorat while filing his nomination for the election.Meanwhile, late Friday night, Thackeray sacked Shinde from the post of Shiv Sena leader in party organisation for indulging in “anti party activities’ ‘.“Dear Shri Shinde, You have been indulging in anti-party activities and have also voluntarily given up your membership of Shiv Sena. Therefore, in exercise of the powers vested in me as the Shiv Sena Paksha Pramukha, I remove you from the post of Shiv Sena leader in the party organisation,” the letter issued by Thackeray read.The move came after Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis took oath as CM and deputy CM respectively on Thursday. Sources in Shinde camp said that they will challenge the letter legally.Ahead of the Speaker’s election, the rebel Sena MLAs and Independent MLAs returned to Mumbai on Saturday evening after spending almost 11 days out of the state — first in Gujarat, then in Assam, and then in Goa. They arrived in Mumbai on a special flight and will be camped at a south Mumbai five-star hotel along with BJP MLAs.Addressing them, CM Shinde asserted that the whip of state legislative leader Bharat Gogawale, who is a part of his group, will be applicable to them, and not that of Shiv Sena’s which has been reduced to a minority.Security was beefed up in Mumbai and police security was deployed along the route from Mumbai airport to South Mumbai hotel to avoid any untoward incident.As the floor test is also scheduled on Monday, Shiv Sena president and former CM Uddhav Thackeray held meetings with party leaders to carve out a strategy. Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap and Congress working president Charan Singh Sapra also met Thackeray at Matorshree Saturday afternoon and all MVA leaders held a meeting in the evening.The NCP legislature party will hold a meeting on Sunday morning to decide their strategy. State NCP president Jayant Patil said, “I feel elections should not be held. All three parties gave a letter… We have a deputy Speaker, Narhari Zirwal, and he has the right to run the House… When the government has changed, Koshyari has allowed elections for a Speaker and people are watching these developments.”Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “Earlier, MVA demanded election of Speaker and it was denied by the Governor quoting law related to elections. Now, we can’t understand the reason to have elections. The Governor should not forget that he is a constitutional authority, and not a BJP worker.”
Last week’s rebel Shiv Sena MLA who turned Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena Chief Minister this week; a former Maharashtra CM facing prospect of losing control of a party founded by his father; an activist and a former police officer arrested after Supreme Court’s clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots case; two Lok Sabha bypoll candidates — a winner from Punjab’s Sangrur while another who lost from UP’s Azamgarh yet made the biggest impact.New Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath ShindeA day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray resigned as CM ahead of a floor test, bringing to an end the 31-month rule of his Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition, Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra with BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy on Thursday. From working in a beer brewery in Thane and driving an autorickshaw to make ends meet, to becoming the most powerful leader in the Shiv Sena after the Thackerays, to splitting the party and becoming the 20th Chief Minister of the state, Eknath Shinde, 58, has had an eventful career. In this crisis, two other qualities helped Shinde prevail: the fact that he has the loyalty of many party MLAs for being an accessible leader – especially when appointment at Matoshree got tough – and being generous with economic largesse.Former Maharashtra Chief MinisterIn the last few days, Uddhav Thackeray faced the worst crisis in his short political life, emerging from the overarching shadow of father Bal Thackeray. Not only did he lose chief ministership after taking a gamble with an unlikely coalition, he is facing the prospect of losing control of a party founded by Balasaheb and deriving sustenance from the Thackeray name. In hindsight, it seems Uddhav sowed the seeds right at the beginning when, on November 28, 2019, he took over as Chief Minister. He thus became the first Thackeray to hold a public office, with Balasaheb choosing to let a Sainik be CM while he held full control over the party.Activist Teesta Setalvad and retired Gujarat DGP R B SreekumarA day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit by the SIT to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) earlier this week arrested Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad, who backed petitioner Zakia Jafri, and retired Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar, whose role had been called into question by the Court. Teesta Setalvad, a journalist and activist based out of Mumbai and a Padma Shri, is a founding trustee and secretary of the NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) established in 2002 in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots, with one area of work being providing legal assistance to victims of the riots. She was among the first activists to take up the cases of riot victims in Gujarat in 2002, finally leading the Supreme Court to set up a special investigation team to probe the post-Godhra riots, six years later, under former CBI director R K Raghavan. Setalvad has also faced several allegations over the years.A decorated police officer, R B Sreekumar challenged the Narendra Modi government’s claims of peace in Gujarat in the aftermath of the 2002 riots, spoke of the alleged collusion between government agencies and rioters, and was shunted out and denied promotion while in service. The Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch arrested the 75-year-old former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) from his home in Gandhinagar on charges such as forgery and criminal conspiracy. This came a day after the Supreme Court called into question his role in the petition against Modi in the riots. The court made the observation while upholding the clean chit Prime Minister Modi, then the chief minister of Gujarat, had received from a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in connection with the riots.Guddu Jamali, the BSP candidate in Lok Sabha bypollsThe Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Shah Alam — a two-time MLA — lost the Azamgarh Lok Sabha by-election but made the biggest impact. Alam, popularly known as Guddu Jamali, garnered 2.66 lakh votes, with a vote share of 29.27 per cent, effectively damaging the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) chances of retaining the seat that its president Akhilesh Yadav had won in 2019 with a 60.36 per cent vote share. The SP had contested the election in alliance with the BSP. With Jamali, 49, putting in a strong performance, the SP saw its vote share slide to 33.44 per cent even as the BJP almost held on to its vote share, which dipped marginally to 34.39 per cent. The SP ultimately lost to the BJP by 8,679 votes. Sangrur Lok Sabha bypolls victor Simranjit MannDealing a severe blow to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Simranjit Singh Mann, emerged as the victor Sunday in the crucial bypoll in the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, the bastion of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, defeating AAP candidate Gurmail Singh in a neck-and-neck fight. The bypoll was necessitated when the incumbent Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann resigned from the seat after becoming the CM in March following the AAP’s landslide victory in the state Assembly elections. It was considered to be the first test of the fledgling Mann-led AAP government’s popularity. Pushed to the margins of Punjab’s mainstream politics for over two-and-half decades, the 77-year-old pro-Khalistan leader and ex-IPS officer Simranjit Singh Mann’s stunning win is likely to boost the Panthic politics in the border state.
AHMEDABAD: The special investigation team (SIT) formed to probe charges of fabrication of evidence against activist Teesta Setalvad, former DGP R B Sreekumar, and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt began an inquiry into the case on Monday and interrogated Setalvad and Sreekumar. The newly formed SIT will analyse the documents of the SIT appointed in 2008 by the Supreme Court and headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan. The old SIT had probed whether the state's functionaries were involved in the 2002 riots. "We will examine all the documents, especially the affidavits, filed with the 2008 SIT and with the Justice Nanavati panel that had inquired into the 2002 riots," said an officer of the SIT. The apex court had on June 24 dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the February 28, 2002 massacre at Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society. The petition filed by Jafri and Setalvad had demanded a probe into the "larger conspiracy". The petition had challenged the clean chit given to then chief minister Narendra Modi and 62 others in the post-Godhra riots. A team headed by Gujarat ATS chief Deepan Bhadran, along with ATS SP Sunil Joshi and DCP (crime) Chaitanya Mandalik, on Monday jointly interrogated Setalvad and Sreekumar, who are in the custody of the Ahmedabad crime branch. The two were arrested after the Ahmedabad crime branch filed a complaint against Setalvad, Sreekumar, and Bhatt over the alleged fabrication of documents with the intention to prosecute certain innocent people for the riots. The SIT officer said the investigators will try to ascertain why and how the accused had prepared the fabricated documents and whether they were aided and instructed by some other people. To a query about how the accused had hatched the conspiracy and when they had met for the first time, the officer said: "The investigation is at a very early stage and it will take a few days to gather more evidence to establish how they had conspired against innocent persons." Police officials said that Bhadran and all the officers of the SIT will camp at the Ahmedabad crime branch office in Raikhad to interrogate the accused. On Bhatt's arrest, another special investigation team officer said they were yet to move a transfer warrant in the case. Denied venue twice, activists hold meet at lawyer’s officeMembers of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Ahmedabad civil society had to change their venue twice to hold a meeting on Monday evening to express solidarity with recently arrested social activist Teesta Setalvad, former DGP R B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt.
THE GUJARAT government on Sunday formed a six-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad DIG Deepan Bhadran to investigate retired DGP R B Sreekumar, Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for criminal conspiracy and forgery, and other charges, “as per directions of the Supreme Court”, a top official told The Indian Express.The move follows an FIR lodged against the three at the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) on Saturday, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit given to the then chief minister Narendra Modi, his council of ministers and bureaucrats on their role in the 2002 riots.Setalvad, who was brought from Mumbai to Ahmedabad by an ATS team, and Sreekumar, who was arrested from his home on Saturday, were produced before Metropolitan Magistrate S P Patel on Sunday with the police seeking remand.According to sources, even as the hearing was on, Setalvad was taken to hospital for a “medical check-up” after she complained of injuries caused by an alleged assault by the police while detaining her. The police have denied the allegation.Sources said Bhatt was taken under custody on Sunday by a DCB team from Palanpur jail in Banaskantha where he has been lodged in a 1996 narcotics case. DCP (Crime) Chaitanya Mandalik told The Indian Express that the process of bringing Bhatt to the DCB office in Ahmedabad on a transfer warrant and arresting him “will take two to three days”.Mandalik is part of the new SIT under DIG Bhadran. The other members are: ATS SP Sunil Joshi, Deputy SP (Special Operations Group) B C Solanki, who will be the Investigating Officer, police inspectors P G Vaghela and A D Parmar, and a woman inspector H V Raval. The terms of reference include collection of evidence to investigate the case “as per the directions of the Supreme Court”.On Friday, while dismissing a petition filed by Zakia Jafri against the clean chit given to Modi, the Supreme Court had ruled that “no material was discovered pointing towards any meeting of minds/ conspiracy in the higher echelons of the administration or the political establishment conspired with other persons to cause such riots or turned a Nelson’s eye when the riots had triggered and continued”.It pointed to a “coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the state of Gujarat along with others… to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge. The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT (in the Gujarat riots case) after a thorough investigation”.It noted that “intriguingly, the present proceedings have been pursued for the last 16 years…to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design…all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law”.Asked about the charges against the three, DCP Mandalik said: “The charges are forging government records, submitting forged documents and abuse of power. The arrested accused have been uncooperative so far and we are investigating the case from all angles. Prima facie, the charges against two ex-IPS officers are their affidavits and documents submitted in the case. We are also in the process of retrieving the documents they have submitted in front of commissions, courts and the SIT for further probe. The investigation is at an early stage but we believe that there could be other persons also behind the conspiracy.”Asked why the time frame of the offence in the FIR was recorded as “January 1 2002 to June 15, 2022”, Mandalik said: “The entire case began after the Godhra riots in February 2002 , therefore we have kept a time period bracket of 2002 to 2022 to investigate all angles in it.”Setalvad was brought to the DCB office in Ahmedabad’s Jamalpur early on Sunday after which she was taken to civil hospital for a RT PCR test. Later, while being presented in court, Setalvad told reporters that she is “not a criminal”.Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt have been booked under IPC sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 468 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence, 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure) and 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture).Based on the Supreme Court verdict, the FIR states that the accused would be investigated for “finding out the behind the scene criminal conspiracy and financial and other benefits, inducements for commission of various serious offences in collusion with other individuals, entities and organisations”.(With Sohini Ghosh)
In the top story of the day, the Kotwali city police in Maharashtra’s Amravati arrested a 44-year-old veterinarian in connection with the June 21 murder of Umesh Kolhe (54) who was killed allegedly for circulating a WhatsApp post supporting the controversial comments made by BJP’s Nupur Sharma against Prophet Mohammed. The sixth accused in the case, Yusuf Khan Bahadur Khan (44), a doctor who runs a clinic in the city, was arrested on Friday night. Confirming the link between Sharma’s comments and Kolhe’s murder, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Amravati city) Vikram Sali on Saturday said, “The motive behind the murder is for seeking revenge for the post made by him (Kolhe) in support of Nupur Sharma.”Activist Teesta Setalvad and former DGP RB Sreekumar were sent in judicial custody by magisterial court of MV Chauhan upon completion of their police remand on Saturday. The Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) had arrested them last month after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit by the SIT to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Their judicial custody will continue until bail is granted. No bail application has been moved as of now.Meanwhile, opposing the bail application of Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair, arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments following a complaint over a 2018 tweet, the prosecution has submitted before a Delhi court that they are investigating donations allegedly received by him from several foreign countries such as Pakistan. Zubair’s lawyers argued that police misled the court as they had earlier released a statement stating that the funds were received by a media company. Read full report hereChief Justice of India N V Ramana Saturday said that ruling parties believe governmental actions are entitled to judicial endorsement and opposition parties expect it to espouse their cause, but the judiciary is answerable only to the Constitution. He also rued that in the 75th year of Independence, the country has still not learnt to appreciate wholly the roles assigned by the Constitution to each institution. “As we celebrate 75th year of Independence this year and as our Republic turned 72, with some sense of regret, I must add here that we still haven’t learnt to appreciate wholly the roles and responsibilities assigned by the Constitution to each of the institutions. The party in power believes that every governmental action is entitled to judicial endorsement. The parties in opposition expect the judiciary to advance their political positions and causes,” the CJI said.Moving on, the four accused in the murder of Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli were on Saturday produced in a Jaipur court which sent them to 10-day NIA custody. Meanwhile, BJP’s Gulab Chand Kataria, the leader of the opposition in Rajasthan, distanced himself from the controversy over the party’s alleged links with one of the men accused of killing tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli after photos surfaced of the accused Mohammad Riyaz along with a few Udaipur BJP workers. Kanhaiya Lal Teli, a tailor in Udaipur, was hacked to death by Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad on June 28 for allegedly sharing remarks made by BJP’s Nupur Sharma on the Prophet. On Saturday, while Congress in Delhi cited the photos and alleged that Riyaz was “an active member of the BJP”, the BJP in Rajasthan denied the allegations. Read what Kataria said here.The history of abortion rights in India is traced back to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 (MTPA). It is often regarded as a landmark moment in India’s social legislation, opening the doors, as many would say, to social reform. The passage of the MTPA as early as the 1970s is frequently pitted against the West wherein abortion rights continue to remain a debated issue. The politics surrounding the Act, however, shows that it was less a product of the women’s movement in India and more of a means to control the expanding population of the country. The Act’s wording and the arguments made in its favour remains heavily criticised by Indian feminists. Adrija Roychowdhury writes on why abortion was legalised in India in 1971Setting alarm bells ringing, a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal has stated that symptoms of monkeypox patients in the UK differ from those observed in previous outbreaks elsewhere in the world. The researchers looked at 54 patients who attended sexual health clinics in London, UK and were diagnosed with monkeypox during a 12 day period in May this year. The finding suggests that patients in this group had a higher prevalence of skin lesions in the genital and anal area and lower prevalence of tiredness and fever than in cases from previously studied outbreaks of monkeypox.Political PulseThe last-minute twist in the Maharashtra political drama Thursday that saw the BJP high command forcing Devendra Fadnavis to join the rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde-led government as Deputy Chief Minister might have shocked Fadnavis and his legion of supporters in the state BJP, but he seems to have already left it behind to move to setting new goals for himself and the state BJP. This was evidenced Friday night, when during a closed-door meeting of the BJP MLAs, Fadnavis, while accepting their congratulatory greetings and bouquets, exhorted them to start gearing up for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls due in 2024. Shubhangi Khapre reportsAt a time a tribal woman is leading the race to become the next President of India, the long-standing demand to recognise “Sarna” as a separate religion of indigenous communities is gaining traction. This is perceived as a counter to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) ideological framework and pushback against its agenda of subsuming Adivasis within the larger Hindu identity. Tribal community leaders and parties, including the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), have been advocating the need for a separate code for the Sarna faith during the next Census. Sourav Roy Barman reportsExpress ExplainedAfter finding several carcasses of wild boar, Kerala health officials on Thursday (June 30) confirmed the presence of anthrax in Athirappilly of Thrissur district. Health Minister Veena George confirmed the outbreak and said the government was taking immediate steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Anthrax has usually been found in India’s southern states and is less frequently found in the northern states. Over the past years, it has been reported in Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Orissa and Karnataka. But what is Anthrax? We explainA letter by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Labour Party leader and Member of Parliament Keir Starmer disclosed he believed British national Jagtar Singh Johal, alias Jaggi Johal, has been “detained arbitrarily” in India. The British PM has also raised the issue of Jaggi Johal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Jaggi Johal is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which deals with terror-related cases. Who is Jaggi Johal? We explainPreparing for Civil Services and other competitive examinations? Read The Indian Express’ UPSC Key and UPSC Essentials to stay informed.
Police in Gujarat’s Surat district have provided security to a journalist after he complained of receiving threats to his life for “supporting Nupur Sharma”, the BJP spokesperson suspended over her controversial comments on Prophet Mohammed. A BJP leader has also been allegedly threatened, after he professed support for Sharma in a memorandum submitted to the district collector.The Surat-based journalist, Yuvraj Pokharna (31), said he commented on a news portal’s social media account on June 28 under a report about the beheading of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur, Rajasthan, and the arrests of two people for the hate crime. On the next day, he found a threat given by one Mohammed Faisal, who wrote that “Gusthak-e-Rasul ki ek his saja, sir tan se juta (abusers of the Prophet will be beheaded)”.Pokharna said he had been given armed police security since June 30 after he complained to the Surat police. Pokharna, son of a doctor couple in the city, also said he had shifted his family members to undisclosed locations.Talking to The Indian Express, Pokharna said, “They started attacking me on social media using bad words. Mohammed Faisal later deleted his comment and also deactivated his account. However, other trolls were in support of Mohamed Faisal’s comment. I complained to the police about the threat to my life. They gave me good support and security cover. I hope the police will catch the accused.”In the second incident, Vinod Jain, a former BJP media cell convener in Surat, allegedly started receiving threat messages and WhatsApp calls after he and some Hindu priests submitted a memorandum to the district collector on June 17 professing support for the suspended BJP spokesperson.“I started receiving threats on social media for supporting Nupur Sharma. Two days ago, I received a WhatsApp call from an international number and the caller gave a threat to my life. He said to me: “Sudhar jao, warna anjam ke liye tayyar raho. (Mend your ways, or be prepared for the end).” I have handed over all the social media details to the Surat police and requested them to catch the culprits,” said Jain, who is also convener of the NGO Rashtrasena.Sharad Singhal, additional police commissioner (crime and traffic), said the police were yet to register a case on either complaint. “We have come across both the complaints and started investigating the allegations levelled by them. We have also given security to Yuvraj Pokharna. We have not registered any case in the incident, but our teams are working hard using technical surveillance and intelligence.”
AHMEDABAD: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal will be on a two-day visit to Gujarat from Sunday, during which he will hold a town hall meeting on "free electricity" and also administer oath to the newly-appointed party office-bearers, a party leader said here. During his two-day stay in Ahmedabad, the Delhi chief minister will also hold meetings with senior leaders of the AAP and interact with party members, he said on Saturday. The Kejriwal-led party is gearing up to contest elections to the 182-member Assembly in BJP-ruled Gujarat to be held by the end of this year. "Kejriwal will reach Ahmedabad airport at 3 pm on Sunday. He will administer oath to 7,500 newly-appointed office bearers at a function at 4 pm. They will take pledge to work whole-heartedly for the party and encourage workers for the upcoming Assembly election," AAP's national joint secretary Isudan Gadhvi told reporters here. These office-bearers were appointed after the AAP dissolved its state organisation structure early last month, he said. "For the people suffering due to inflation, our party has launched a 'Muft Bijli' campaign. If people in Delhi and Punjab can get free electricity, then why not those in Gujarat?" he asked. On Monday, Kejriwal will hold a town hall on "free electricity," nearly two weeks after the party launched a state-wide stir demanding free electricity for domestic consumers from the BJP government, he said. Discussions will also be held on the party's "guarantee card," or election manifesto for Gujarat Assembly polls are scheduled in December, Gadhvi added. The AAP functionary accused the ruling party of misleading people by saying that the citizens of Gujarat do not need free electricity as he referred to a statement made by BJP's state unit president C R Paatil. "I would like to appeal to those leaders who do not need free electricity to put up a board outside their house declaring the same, so that more poor people can get free electricity," he said. AAP leaders in Gujarat believe that the party's "free electricity" campaign will play a key role in the Assembly polls as they said that lakhs of people have supported it across the state. The party leaders and workers organised padyatras, mashal and bicycle yatras in different parts of the state and sought from the people their support for the campaign. The party has promised free electricity to the people when voted to power.
Emphasising that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ensured an all-round development of Gujarat, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Friday asked voters in the state to ensure a three-fourth majority for the saffron party in the upcoming assembly elections.“…it is only yesterday that a government has been formed in Maharashtra (supported by the BJP). In the upcoming elections (in Gujarat), you should resolve to help BJP win a three-fourth majority,” Shah said as he addressed the audience at an event in Modasar village, located about 30 kilometres from Ahmedabad.“BJP has ensured an all-round development of Gujarat. Be it urban, rural, mountains or coastal areas, the BJP government has developed all areas. Narendrabhai (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) started this development and he made such a system that even after he is gone, the development continues to happen. It has continued till (chief minister) Bhupendra Patel,” he said, adding, “We have to resolve once again to hand over the reins of power in Gujarat to BJP—that has ensured continuous development. Under the leadership of Narendrabhai, Gujarat has become the topmost state over the last 20 years and you people have to ensure that it continues to remain the top for the next 30 years.”The home minister laid the foundation stone of a Rs-11 crore project for beautification of Balganga lake, distributed free-of-cost gas connection under the smokeless village programme, launched a pilot project of Red Cross for a “Thalassemia-free Gujarat” in Sanand and Bavla talukas, and inaugurated seven six-lane flyover bridges in the area. Modasar is one of villages adopted by Shah under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxTalking about the proposed developments at Modasar village, he said, “People had started to forget that there is a lake and temple at Modasar that dates back to the Mahabharata era. Tomorrow everyone will know,” Shah said, adding the Balganga lake at Modasar village will be beautified with the help from Zydus Group. “Under Corporate Social Responsibility, the Zydus family will bear the cost that will range between Rs 8 crore and Rs 11 crore. I had made a small call to Pankajbhai (Pankaj Patel, head of Zydus Group), and he readily agreed,” he added.Assuring the people of Sanand, Shah said, “As your representative in the Lok Sabha, I want to assure you that the Sanand assembly constituency (that is part of the larger Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat represented by Shah) will continue to be in the forefront of development. It is my responsibility to ensure this.”Pointing out that during the Congress regime in Gujarat, riots and curfew used to be commonplace during the Rath Yatras, the Union Minister said, “Riots used to happen, people used to get killed and curfew used to be imposed for days together. After people elected the BJP, nobody has dared to attack a single Rath Yatra. Riots have become a thing of the past.”Ajay Patel, chairman of ADC Bank and chairman of Red Cross Society in Gujarat, was among those present at the event.
On the occasion of the 145th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused the Opposition Congress on Friday of having failed to provide protection to the Yatra in Ahmedabad when it ruled Gujarat.“There used to be an era, during the reign of Congress (laughs) when all used to get scared by the arrival of the day of Rath Yatra (thinking) if there will be a riot, if there will be firings. And it used to happen as well. On two occasions, daring attempts were made to forcibly tow away the chariot of God,” Shah told a public gathering in Rupal village in his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency while inaugurating and laying foundation stones for developmental works worth Rs 210 crore in the region. Shah said the Rath Yatra had taken place for the past 145 years.“But after the great people of Gujarat gave the power of Gujarat in the hands of the BJP, nobody can dare do any mischief with Rath Yatra. The days of curfew are gone,” the BJP leader said, referring to the tenures of chief ministers from Narendra Modi to Bhupendrabhai Patel.“The Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath is a festival of the poor. On this day, God–after having blueberry, khichdi and moong–himself appears before those devotees who cannot visit the temple and have a glimpse of him,” he said at the start of his speech.Continuing his attack on the Congress, Shah said, “In my lifetime, during my days of youth and adolescence, the governments had banned Rath Yatra thrice. The (Congress-led) government had dared to impose a ban on carrying out God’s Rath Yatra. They used to admit they were not capable of protecting the lord of the world, (though without saying it openly). But friends, Rath Yatra used to be carried out even then without the government’s permission. And today, it is being carried out in collaboration with and the cooperation of the government.”Among the projects the Union minister laid the foundation stone for was a village beautification project for Rupal. The village has a famous temple of the goddess Vardaini, which was recently selected by the central government under the PRASAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) scheme.“Rupal has undergone many changes. I have seen the changes. But I want to assure you that when the time comes to vote for the BJP in 2024, Rupal will be so (developed) that you will not even recognise it,” Shah said.As MP from the region, Shah assured all help to develop Rupal as a centre of pilgrimage.Shah also said that out of the five Gandhinagar villages selected under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, three were in the top 10 in the country. Rupal and another village in the district, Bileshwarpura, are among the three.On the occasion, Shah also got himself weighed against silver donated by donors. The silver will be used for renovating temples in the village.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia hit out at the BJP on Thursday and said that despite travelling to different parts of Delhi, the team of leaders from the Gujarat unit of the party could not find flaws in the education and health systems.The Gujarat BJP team was in the national capital for two days and went to different schools and mohalla clinics. Accompanied by leaders from the Delhi BJP, they went to a few mohalla clinics that were shut and a school where alongside a permanent building, a tin shed was also constructed.On Thursday, Sisodia said, “The BJP brought its delegation with a premeditated bias and an ill-motive. These people came down with a lens coloured with malice, with a mission to start a slander campaign against the Kejriwal Model.”He added that the delegation went to schools during the summer vacation. He also said that they went to a mohalla clinic that was shut on orders from the NGT.“When they visited the school, they got to see that the infrastructure was excellent. So these people found a storeroom where benches are kept from wall to wall. These leaders tried to portray that the said storeroom was a classroom. And that the classes were being run from the storeroom. But, their false narrative did not last for long. When they came out of the storeroom, they were flustered seeing the excellent buildings of the school,” he added.With Gujarat going to polls later this year, and AAP contesting in the state, leaders of both parties have been taking pot shots at each other. Sisodia had visited Gujarat earlier this year and had surveyed a few schools as well.
Rajasthan has been on edge since the gruesome killing of an Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal by two men, Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad, on June 28 for allegedly sharing remarks made by the BJP’s Nupur Sharma against the Prophet, with protests erupting in different parts of the state, forcing the Congress government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to rush to deal with the situation.The Gehlot government immediately went into overdrive in a bid to contain the incident’s fallout, putting Rajasthan on high alert, imposing prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 across the state for a month, and suspending mobile internet across the state including Jaipur. On Thursday, Gehlot made an appeal to the people of the state, through front-page advertisements in dailies as well as digitally, calling upon them to maintain peace and harmony.With a string of incidents of communal violence occurring in various districts over the last several months, leading to a sharp spurt in polarisation, Gehlot seems to be struggling to come to grips with its political ramifications, even as the next Assembly election is one-year-five months away.On April 2, communal clashes erupted in Karauli following alleged stone-pelting at a motorcycle rally passing through a Muslim-dominated area on Hindu New Year day.On May 2, a day ahead of Eid, curfew was imposed and Internet services barred in Jodhpur, Gehlot’s home turf, after communal clashes broke out following the hoisting of religious flags on the bust of a freedom fighter.Three days later, communal tension gripped Bhilwara, which led to the suspension of the internet services. On May 10 again, Bhilwara again saw a communal flare-up that was followed by another such incident in Hanumangarh the day after.To tackle the spate of communal incidents, the Rajasthan Police undertook a 15-day drive in May, cracking down on over 4,600 people in this regard.Subsequently, Rajasthan did not report any violence on June 10 on the occasion of Ram Navami, when communal incidents were reported from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Karnataka, among other states. This was ensured by the Gehlot administration by imposing prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 in over half of the state’s 33 districts, and coming up with an exhaustive order before granting permission to any procession for the day.Later, the Rajasthan Police took various other measures. For instance, it asked every police station in Jaipur North to create 24 cricket teams involving local residents for a tournament called “Hero Cup” from June 21 to July 3 with the objective to build and promote communal harmony in the belt.And then the Kanhaiya Lal killing occurred that led to a fresh war of words between the Congress and the principal Opposition BJP, with the latter accusing the ruling party of indulging in “appeasement politics”. What is more concerning for the Congress is the point that any rise in polarisation would only be an advantage for the saffron party since it would mean the consolidation of the Hindu votes in the latter’s favour.Over the decades, the BJP and the Congress have tried to woo the dominant castes in Rajasthan, which include Jats, Rajputs, Gujjars, Meenas and Brahmins, and their support to either party has been dependent on various factors, such as the prevailing political climate, reservation demands, community leaders, party leaders from the community, and even portrayal of the erstwhile rulers from the community in the movies, etc.And traditional caste rivalry between Rajputs and Jats as well as between Meenas and Gujjars is well known in the state. So between Rajputs and Jats, if a caste supports a particular political party, then the other caste supports its rival party.In fact, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) was founded following the Rajputs’ struggle with the Jats in 2006. That year, Anandpal Singh, a Ravana Rajput and then Rajasthan’s most notorious gangster, killed Jivan Ram Godara and Harphool Ram Jat in Didwana, allegedly over control of the illicit liquor business. As Jats protested, they got support from a wide spectrum of political leaders, and the police allegedly detained any Rajput man who could be linked to Anandpal. To resist their alleged “hounding”, the SRKS was founded on September 23, 2006, with 11 declared aims, including opposing political or social malice against Rajputs as well as the “misrepresentation” of their history or historical figures, and promoting Rajput unity.Political analyst Ashfaque Kayamkhani says that with increased polarisation, the distances between Hindu castes may fade and be replaced with the politics of majority versus minority with the latter as the “common enemy”.He says that the polarisation “will indeed lead to a loss for the Congress” and that “the manner in which it is painted as the party of one community, it will lead to anger in both communities towards Congress” as the party tries to do a tightrope walk and falter. And as elections draw closer, the environment will be further vitiated and polarised, which will help parties which play the communal card, he says.Sociologist Rajeev Gupta says that it is still too early to say how the polarisation will play out in the Rajasthan Assembly elections in late 2023, but “definitely the BJP will take advantage of the situation”.He says that the Congress’ internal fighting doesn’t help things either with even its leaders like Acharya Pramod Krishnam jumping into the Gehlot vs Sachin Pilot debate. “This is what democracy within the Congress is, but the party in power at the Centre says that the Congress is having internal fighting so even if they win, they will not be able to deliver,” Gupta said.Just a day ago, Union minister Anurag Thakur slammed the Gehlot government over the Udaipur case, charging that the state government remained a “mute spectator” as the Congress’ internal rivalries affected law and order in the state. In contrast, Gupta adds, there may be factionalism within the state BJP “but every faction talks about Hinduism”.
Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Chief Minister of Maharashtra Wednesday, after the Supreme Court did not stay the Assembly floor test scheduled for June 30 called by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, and he faced the prospect of 40-odd of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs with the Eknath Shinde camp. The Sena’s petition seeking disqualification of 16 of the rebel MLAs remains pending.The crisis that brought down the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government has several parallels – from hung Houses to new alliances, to petitions in the Supreme Court:July 2019The 2018 state elections threw up a hung Assembly, with the BJP winning 104 seats, the Congress 80, the JD(S) 37, along with three Independents, in the 224-member House. With the BJP failing to reach the majority mark of 113, forcing BJP leader B S Yediyurappa to step down as Chief Minister within three days, the Congress and JD(S) forged an alliance with the JD(S)’s H D Kumaraswamy as CM.In July 2019, the coalition government hit shaky ground when 17 MLAs (14 from the Congress and three from the JD-S) sought to quit the Assembly, citing differences with the government and CM. The Speaker, K R Ramesh Kumar, elected on the Congress ticket, refused to accept their resignation. With the BJP seen as behind the move, the Congress and JD(S) approached the Speaker seeking that the 17 be disqualified and not allowed to contest the election during the tenure of the then Assembly.The Governor asked the Kumaraswamy government to take a floor test twice, and finally on July 23, 2019, the Congress-JD(S) Ministry fell. The Speaker went on to disqualify the MLAs, which remained away from the Congress-JD(S) reach and sequestered in hotels, and Yediyurappa returned as CM after winning a floor test in the truncated-House of 208. The BJP was able to muster support of 105 MLAs, against the Congress and JD(S)’s combined total of 99.In November 2019, on the plea of the 17 MLAs against the Speaker’s order, the Supreme Court upheld their disqualification but not the directive that they could not contest the election till 2023. In the bypolls held the next month, 11 of the 17 were re-elected to the House, on BJP tickets.October 2010The Yediyurappa-led BJP government had a slender majority – at 117, just four more than the cut off mark of 113. In October 2010, 11 of its MLAs withdrew support. The Congress and JD(S) had 101 MLAs, and posed a challenge in case of six Independents swaying their way.On October 6, the Speaker, K G Bopaiah, allied to the BJP, disqualified the rebel MLAs under the anti-defection law, just after Governor Hans Raj Bharadwaj had asked Yediyurappa to initiate a trust motion. With the rebel MLAs disqualified and the House strength down to 213, Yediyurappa won the trust vote by a voice vote and support of 106 MLAs, amid chaos.In May 2011, the Supreme Court held that some of the actions of the Speaker in disqualifying the 11 MLAs did not “meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play”. It also said Yediyurappa had ignored Constitutional norms.January 2006The 2004 Karnataka Assembly polls had thrown up a hung verdict, with the BJP winning 79 seats, the Congress 65 and the JD(S) 58. The Congress and JD(S) initially formed an alliance with Dharam Singh of the Congress as CM.In January 2006, a dissident group of 42 MLAs of the JD(S), led by Kumarswamy, withdrew support to the Congress, and allied with the BJP. Dharam Singh resigned and the Governor invited the BJP and JD(S) to form the new government.Kumaraswamy struck a deal that the two parties would hold power for 20 months each. But the coalition collapsed in October 2007, after the JD(S) reneged on transferring power to the BJP. President’s rule was imposed, and the next Assembly elections were held in May 2008.2019In March 2019, newly appointed Chief Minister Sawant urged Governor Mridula Sinha to summon the Assembly for a floor test on March 20, 2019, after sitting CM Manohar Parrikar’s death. Sawant resigned from the Speaker’s chair before he was sworn in as CM ahead of the floor test, and Michael Lobo, then Deputy Speaker, carried out the proceedings.The Congress had 14 MLAs, the BJP 12. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP) had three each. The NCP had one candidate and there were three Independents. The strength of the Goa Assembly is 40, but there were only 36 sitting MLAs at the time (Parrikar and BJP MLA Francis D’Souzaas had died and two Congress MLAs had resigned).Sawant won the floor test with the support of 20 MLAs, after the MGP and GFP MLAs as well as three Independents voted for him.Sawant consolidated his strength in July 2019, after 10 Congress MLAs and two MGP MLAs defected to the BJP.1995The BJP won 121 of 182 seats in the 1995 Assembly elections in Gujarat – its highest till then – in the backdrop of the Babri Masjid demolition and the subsequent riots. However, many MLAs were upset with Keshubhai Patel being made CM. Patel was believed to have the backing of then BJP general secretary and Gujarat in-charge Narendra Modi.While Patel was away in the US, leaving Ashok Bhatt behind as caretaker CM, Shankersinh Vaghela, then a BJP MP from Godhra, claimed the backing of 105 MLAs and launched a coup in September 1995.The MLAs were first taken to Vaghela’s village in Vasan and later to the home of a Congress leader in a village in Gandhinagar. While some of the MLAs were lured back by the BJP, Vaghela flew the remaining 55 out to Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh overnight.They only returned after senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee agreed to replace the CM. Suresh Mehta was subsequently appointed CM.But as remnants of the discontent followed the party, in 1996, during a meeting to felicitate Vajpayee, now the Prime Minister, the MLAs literally came to blows. An MLA was stripped of his dhoti and another was nearly set ablaze.The House was placed under “suspended animation”. The Governor was hospitalised at the time when Vaghela staked claim to form the government after parading 103 MLAs before him, including of the BJP, Congress and some Independents. The BJP MLAs numbered 48, more than one-third of the total, thus escaping the anti-defection law. Vaghela became CM.(with inputs from Johnson T A, Mayura Janwalkar, Leena Misra)