Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said the CBI was “putting pressure” on him to “frame” Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an alleged fake encounter case in Gujarat when he was being questioned by the probe agency during the Congress-led UPA government.Shah said this at the ‘News 18 Rising India’ programme in New Delhi in response to a question on Opposition’s charge that the Narendra Modi government is “misusing’ central agencies to target them.The CBI “was putting pressure” on me to “frame Modi ji” (when he was Gujarat CM) in an alleged fake encounter case during the Congress government,” he said, adding that the BJP never raised a ruckus despite this.On Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a criminal defamation case by a court in Surat, the home minister said the Congress leader was not the only politician who was convicted by a court and lost membership of the legislature.Instead of moving to a higher court, Rahul has been trying to create hue and cry and blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his fate, he said.Shah said Rahul Gandhi should go to a higher court to fight his case, instead of trying to put the blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.He said the Congress is spreading misconception; conviction can’t be stayed. “The sentence can be stayed if the court decides,” he said.“He has not appealed to take stay on his conviction. What kind of arrogance is this? You want a favour. You want to continue to be MP and will also not go before the Court,” Shah said.Where does such arrogance gets generated, he said.Shah said 17 prominent leaders, including Lalu Prasad, J Jayalalitha and Raashid Alvi, had lost their membership because of a 2013 Supreme Court order during the UPA government, which said an elected representative would lose his seat immediately after conviction. Still, no one protested wearing black clothes because it is the “law of the land”, he said.“Listen to the full speech of Rahul Gandhi, he has not only spoken abusive words for Modi ji. He has spoken abusive words for the entire Modi community and OBC society,” he said.“The law of the land is clear. There is no question of vendetta politics. It is the judgment of the Supreme Court of India, which had come during their government,” Shah said.Asked about the notice to vacate his bungalow, Shah asked why should there be “special favour” when the Supreme Court had said to act as soon as the conviction comes into effect.“It was a deliberate statement by Rahul Gandhi. If Rahul Gandhi did not want to apologise, then he should not have applied for bail. Let him not apologise,” Shah said.“This gentleman is not the first one. Politicians who held much bigger positions and with much more experience have lost their membership because of this provision,” the Home minister said.He said India’s democracy wasn’t threatened when Lalu ji was disqualified but it is endangered only when a person from the Gandhi family is disqualified.“Now it has come on him, so they are saying make a separate law for the Gandhi family. I want to ask the people of this country whether there should be a separate law for a single family. What kind of mentality is this? Whatever happens, they start blaming Modi ji and the Lok Sabha Speaker,” Shah said.He said senior lawyers who are Congress MPs in Rajya Sabha should tell their colleagues that Lok Sabha Speaker has no role in the disqualification.“It is the law of the country that all his speeches in Parliament would have to be erased from the records from the moment of his conviction. Even if his disqualification notice were served a few days later, it would have no purpose,” he said.Shah said BJP did not want changes in the Supreme Court order. The Manmohan Singh government brought an Ordinance to blunt the apex court order, but Rahul Gandhi tore it apart, calling it “nonsense”.“Once he tore it apart, who in his government would have dared to turn it into law? It was vetoed. Had that ordinance become a law, he could have been saved,” Shah said.Asked about Rahul’s comment on Savarkar, the Home Minister said Veer Savarkar was the only freedom fighter who was sentenced to two life terms in Andaman prison. “Such language for such a freedom fighter should not have been used,” he said.He (Rahul) should read his grandmother’s speech on Veer Savarkar. His own party people are advising him to not speak against Savarkar, he said.In the general election of 2024, Shah said Modi would again be PM with a larger majority. BJP will get more seats in the 2024 elections than 2019 elections, he said, adding that there is no unity among the opposition, he said.On the upcoming Karnataka elections, Shah said BJP would comfortably cross the halfway mark and form a government with a clear majority in the state.Ruling out any alliance in Karnataka, Shah said, “The BJP will definitely cross the halfway mark and form the government with an absolute majority in Karnataka. We will win record mandate.” Referring to recent Karnataka government’s decision to end quota on the basis of religion, he said reservation based on religion is unconstitutional.“Karnataka’s Congress government did it due to polarisation, and we have just rectified it. It should have done earlier,” he said.The Home minister rejected the allegations on the misuse of investigative agencies against the opposition leaders. Shah said we never blamed the opposition for anything, innocent police officers were put behind bars during Congress government.Shah said the BJP had won the 2014 and 2019 elections on the plank of anti-corruption. He said Enforcement Directorate had seized 1.10 lakh crore of assets, of which not even five per cent are of political leaders.“Shall we stop the fight against corruption? Should we not act if the accused is a politician,” Shah asked. The Home minister asked who had filed cases against Lalu Prasad Yadav and who had sent a plane full of officials from Delhi to arrest Shaikh Abdullah.Citing the misuse of agencies, Shah said thousands of innocent persons were imprisoned for 19 months of Emergency and questioned whose doing it was. It was his grandmother Indira Gandhi, he said.On the Maharashtra question, Shah said people wanted Shiv Sena and BJP government and now the real Shiv Sena is with BJP. “I also accept that BJP on its own could have formed the government in Maharashtra. There is no question of the merger of Shiv Sena,” he said.He said the Congress should introspect about its contribution to corruption. There is a strong resentment against Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. We will definitely win elections in Madhya Pradesh, he said.Shah said we have not taken any decision on the face in Rajasthan elections. People want to change the CM of Rajasthan, he said.On Amritpal Singh, Shah said he meets Punjab Chief Minister every three months, irrespective of the government and stand with the party when it comes to the security of the country.“Many people have been arrested in connection with Amritpal case, police and intelligence agencies are working on the case,” he said.On attacks on Indian missions abroad, Shah said it was an attack on India. “We will take action against those involved in the attack, FIR already lodged in Delhi,” he said. Shah said the contribution of Sikhs to India’s freedom has been immense; every Sikh wants to be with India.The Home minister ruled out any confrontation between the judiciary and the government. “Both are working within their limits,” he said. The government’s duty to make law now and the Parliament will think over it, he said
New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said the CBI was "putting pressure" on him to "frame" Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an alleged fake encounter case in Gujarat when he was being questioned by the probe agency during the Congress-led UPA government.Mr Shah said this at the 'News 18 Rising India' programme in response to a question on Opposition's charge that the Narendra Modi government is "misusing' central agencies to target them.The CBI "was putting pressure" on me to "frame Modi ji" (when he was Gujarat CM) in an alleged fake encounter case during the Congress government," he said, adding that the BJP never raised a ruckus despite this. On Rahul Gandhi's conviction in a criminal defamation case by a court in Surat, the home minister said the Congress leader was not the only politician who was convicted by a court and lost membership of the legislature.Instead of moving to a higher court, Rahul Gandhi has been trying to create hue and cry and blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his fate, he said.Mr Shah said Rahul Gandhi should go to a higher court to fight his case, instead of trying to put the blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said the Congress is spreading misconception; conviction can't be stayed. "The sentence can be stayed if the court decides," he said."He has not appealed to take stay on his conviction. What kind of arrogance is this? You want a favour. You want to continue to be MP and will also not go before the Court," Mr Shah said. Where does such arrogance gets generated, he asked.Mr Shah said 17 prominent leaders, including Lalu Prasad, J Jayalalitha and Raashid Alvi, had lost their membership because of a 2013 Supreme Court order during the UPA government, which said an elected representative would lose his seat immediately after conviction. Still, no one protested wearing black clothes because it is the "law of the land", he said."Listen to the full speech of Rahul Gandhi, he has not only spoken abusive words for Modi ji, he has spoken abusive words for the entire Modi community and OBC society," he said."The law of the land is clear. There is no question of vendetta politics. It is the judgment of the Supreme Court of India, which had come during their government," Mr Shah said.Asked about the notice to vacate his bungalow, Mr Shah asked why should there be "special favour" when the Supreme Court had said to act as soon as the conviction comes into effect."It was a deliberate statement by Rahul Gandhi. If Rahul Gandhi did not want to apologise, then he should not have applied for bail. Let him not apologise," Mr Shah said."This gentleman is not the first one. Politicians who held much bigger positions and with much more experience have lost their membership because of this provision," the Home minister said. He said India's democracy wasn't threatened when Lalu ji was disqualified but it is endangered only when a person from the Gandhi family is disqualified."Now it has come on him, so they are saying make a separate law for the Gandhi family. I want to ask the people of this country whether there should be a separate law for a single family. What kind of mentality is this? Whatever happens, they start blaming Modi ji and the Lok Sabha Speaker," Mr Shah said.He said senior lawyers who are Congress MPs in Rajya Sabha should tell their colleagues that Lok Sabha Speaker has no role in the disqualification. "It is the law of the country that all his speeches in Parliament would have to be erased from the records from the moment of his conviction. Even if his disqualification notice were served a few days later, it would have no purpose," he said.Mr Shah said the BJP did not want changes in the Supreme Court order. The Manmohan Singh government brought an Ordinance to blunt the top court order, but Rahul Gandhi tore it apart, calling it "nonsense"."Once he tore it apart, who in his government would have dared to turn it into law? It was vetoed. Had that ordinance become a law, he could have been saved," Mr Shah said.Asked about Rahul Gandhi's comment on Savarkar, the Home Minister said Veer Savarkar was the only freedom fighter who was sentenced to two life terms in Andaman prison. "Such language for such a freedom fighter should not have been used," he said.He (Rahul) should read his grandmother's speech on Veer Savarkar. His own party people are advising him to not speak against Savarkar, he said."In the general election of 2024, Shah said Modi would again be PM with a larger majority. BJP will get more seats in the 2024 elections than 2019 elections," he said, adding that there is no unity among the opposition.On the upcoming Karnataka elections, Mr Shah said the BJP would comfortably cross the halfway mark and form a government with a clear majority in the state.Ruling out any alliance in Karnataka, Mr Shah said, "The BJP will definitely cross the halfway mark and form the government with an absolute majority in Karnataka. We will win record mandate." Referring to recent Karnataka government's decision to end quota on the basis of religion, he said reservation based on religion is unconstitutional. "Karnataka's Congress government did it due to polarisation, and we have just rectified it. It should have done earlier," he said.The Home minister rejected the allegations on the misuse of investigative agencies against the opposition leaders. Mr Shah said we never blamed the opposition for anything, innocent police officers were put behind bars during Congress government.Mr Shah said the BJP had won the 2014 and 2019 elections on the plank of anti-corruption. He said Enforcement Directorate had seized 1.10 lakh crore of assets, of which not even five per cent are of political leaders. "Shall we stop the fight against corruption? Should we not act if the accused is a politician," Mr Shah asked.The Home minister asked who had filed cases against Lalu Prasad Yadav and who had sent a plane full of officials from Delhi to arrest Shaikh Abdullah.Citing the misuse of agencies, Mr Shah said thousands of innocent persons were imprisoned for 19 months of Emergency and questioned whose doing it was. It was his grandmother Indira Gandhi, he said.On the Maharashtra question, Mr Shah said people wanted Shiv Sena and BJP government and now the real Shiv Sena is with BJP. "I also accept that BJP on its own could have formed the government in Maharashtra. There is no question of the merger of Shiv Sena," he said.He said the Congress should introspect about its contribution to corruption. There is a strong resentment against Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. We will definitely win elections in Madhya Pradesh, he said.Mr Shah said we have not taken any decision on the face in Rajasthan elections. People want to change the CM of Rajasthan, he said.On Amritpal Singh, Mr Shah said he meets Punjab Chief Minister every three months, irrespective of the government and stand with the party when it comes to the security of the country."Many people have been arrested in connection with Amritpal case, police and intelligence agencies are working on the case," he said.On attacks on Indian missions abroad, Mr Shah said it was an attack on India. "We will take action against those involved in the attack, FIR already lodged in Delhi," he said.Mr Shah said the contribution of Sikhs to India's freedom has been immense; every Sikh wants to be with India.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe Home minister ruled out any confrontation between the judiciary and the government. "Both are working within their limits," he said. The government's duty is to make law now and the Parliament will think over it, he said.
Google’s video platform YouTube has told the Congress that it is looking into a claim made by party leader Rahul Gandhi that views on his videos on industrialist Gautam Adani are much lower than his other videos with similar user engagement, it is learnt.The Congress had written to YouTube earlier this month suggesting that it suspects viewership of Rahul’s two videos on Adani were suppressed.The issue was flagged by Sam Pitroda, head of the Indian Overseas Congress, in a letter to YouTube CEO Neal Mohan on March 11.“Mr Gandhi has raised the issue of cronyism of the ruling government with one industrialist, Mr Gautam Adani, through speeches in India’s Parliament and specific videos released exclusively on his YouTube channel. His team has found that the views on these videos are much lower than what they normally are for other videos of Mr Gandhi for similar user engagement,” he had stated.Pitroda had argued that Rahul’s social media team find “this a bit bizarre and are searching for an explanation. They have used YouTube’s own data and analytics to show that viewership of videos of Mr Adani are being suppressed, perhaps unwittingly or algorithmically.”To back his claim, Pitroda also forwarded a presentation made by the party’s data analytics department, comparing viewership data of the video on Adani and Rahul’s other videos from the Bharat Jodo Yatra and recent speeches in Parliament and at Cambridge University.Mohan, sources said, has replied to Pitroda saying that a “team is taking a look” at the Congress’s claim. Sources said Pitroda and Congress data analytics department head Praveen Chakravarty have had discussions with YouTube’s top executives over the issue.In the presentation, the Congress had claimed that one Bharat Jodo Yatra video has less positive interactions than the first video on Adani but has five-times more views. The container video from Yatra, it said, has 83,602 positive interactions, whereas the first video on Adani — titled ‘Mitr Kaal episode 1’ — had 99,197 interactions.But the ‘Mitr Kaal’ video got only 4.78 lakh views, compared to 20 lakh-plus views of the container video.Similarly, the party had claimed that the second video on Adani “has double the interactions of Cambridge video but similar number of views.” While the Cambridge video had 28,360 positive interactions, ‘Mitr Kaal episode-2’ had 49,053 positive interactions. Both videos had 2 lakh-plus views.“Our estimate is that Adani video, too, should have had 8 lakh views based on interactions metrics, but only has 2.6 lakh views,” the Congress said in its presentation.Arguing that there was a “clear case of algorithmic suppression”, the party said in the presentation that most people watch videos through the YouTube Browse feature, where the YouTube homepage shows videos and suggested videos.The party said the browse feature in Rahul Gandhi’s channel was down since February 9. “YouTube algorithm has suppressed the browse feature for Rahul Gandhi’s videos,” it said.
Reacting to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Parliament, Germany said Thursday that it has taken note of the case and “expects that the standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will apply”.The German Foreign Ministry spokesperson made the statement during a press briefing that was aired on German state-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW).“We have taken note of the verdict of the first instance against the Indian opposition politician Rahul Gandhi as well as the suspension of his parliamentary mandate. To our knowledge, Rahul Gandhi is in a position to appeal the verdict. An appeal will show whether the verdict stands and whether suspension has a basis. We expect standards of judicial independence and democratic principles to be applied,” the spokesperson said.NEW: Rahul Gandhi caseGerman Foreign Ministry spokesperson comments for first time:– Takes note of verdict, suspension from parliament– Appeal will show whether verdict stands & suspension has basis– Expects standards of judicial independence & democratic principles to apply pic.twitter.com/dNZB6vflG2— Richard Walker (@rbsw) March 29, 2023Veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh took to Twitter to recognise Germany’s statement. “Thank you Germany Foreign Affairs Ministry and Richard Walker for taking note of how the Democracy is being compromised in India through persecution of Rahul Gandhi,” he wrote.BJP leaders, meanwhile, criticised Congress and Singh, accusing the party of inviting foreign interference in internal affairs.Sharing a screenshot of Digivijaya Singh’s tweet, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India’s internal matters.” “Remember, Indian Judiciary can’t be influenced by foreign interference. India won’t tolerate ‘foreign influence’ anymore because our Prime Minister is:- Shri @narendramodi Ji,” Rijiju said.Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India’s internal matters. Remember, Indian Judiciary can’t be influenced by foreign interference. India won’t tolerate ‘foreign influence’ anymore because our Prime Minister is:- Shri @narendramodi Ji 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/xHzGRzOYTz— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) March 30, 2023Hitting back at Rijiju, Congress’ media department head Pawan Khera said, “Mr. Rijiju, why divert from the main issue? The issue is that the Prime Minister cannot answer Rahul Gandhi’s questions about Adani.” Instead of “misleading” people, please answer the questions, Khera said.BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya also tagged Singh’s tweet and said, “Shameful that Congress continues to lean on foreign agencies and seek their intervention in India’s internal affairs.” “Rahul Gandhi had recently sought Europe and US intervention and now it is Digvijay Singh. But Law is the Law… Unless somebody thinks Law is not the Law for them,” he said.Let this be on record. For the first time in Independent India’s history, Congress leaders are pleading foreign powers to intervene in India’s democratic process and weigh in on our judicial decisions… It is a brazen attempt to undermine people’s will and India’s sovereignty… pic.twitter.com/4FDlsOrgkh— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) March 30, 2023BJP spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill also hit out at the Congress, alleging that the party “celebrating Germany/US remarks on Rahul Gandhi’s case shows their political desperation”. “Rejected by Indian voters now looking for acceptance by foreign powers is sad reality of Congress! Judiciary must take note of daily maligning of courts by Congress brigade!” he said.Congress celebrating Germany/U.S. remarks on Rahul Gandhi’s case shows their political desperation!Rejected by Indian voters now looking for acceptance by foreign powers is sad reality of Congress!Judiciary must take note of daily maligning of courts by Congress brigade!— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) March 30, 2023Tagging Singh’s tweet, BJP leader Vijay Chauthaiwale said on Twitter, “Look how happy @digvijaya_28 ji with comments from Germany. It only shows how they are desperate to involve external agencies in the domestic matters.”On March 23, Gandhi had been found guilty in a 2019 defamation case filed after his remark “why all thieves have Modi surname”, made at a campaign rally in Kolar, Karnataka. A Gujarat court had sentenced him to two years in prison. Gandhi is currently on bail.Following his conviction, he was disqualified from the Parliament, where he was an elected MP from Kerala’s Wayanad district. He was also issued a notice to vacate his official bungalow in New Delhi.First Washington, now BerlinGermany’s response comes days after the United States took a similar stance, saying that respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy.In a press briefing, US State Department’s Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel had said that the US is watching Gandhi’s case in the courts.“Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, and we’re watching Mr. Gandhi’s case in Indian courts, and we engage with the Government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values – including, of course, freedom of expression,” Patel said.“In our engagements with our Indian partners, we continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights, including freedom of expression, as a key to strengthening both our democracies,” he added.Following this, Patel was asked if the US is still engaging with Gandhi as the opposition leader. “It is normal and standard for us to engage with members of opposition parties in any country where we have bilateral relationships,” replied Patel.
The Election Commission, while announcing dates for bypolls in four Assembly constituencies and one Parliamentary constituency, gave the Wayanad seat a miss. The Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from Parliament on March 24, a day after he was convicted in a defamation case over his remarks on the ‘Modi’ surname.Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, while addressing a press conference, said, “There is a six months time period after occurrence of vacancy (to announce polls) and the trial court has given 30 days time for remedy. There is no hurry.”While pronouncing Gandhi guilty under Indian Penal Code Sections 499 and 500, the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma had granted the Congress leader bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court. Subsequently, Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha.Section 151A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, states that “bye-election for filling any vacancy referred to in any of the said sections shall be held within a period of six months from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy.”Kumar added that the law also states that if the remainder of the term was less than one year, then the election will not be held. However, for Wayanad, the term is over an year, he said.The Election Commission announced May 10 as the date of polling for Karnataka Assembly elections, and bypolls in Parliamentary constituency of Jalandhar (Punjab) and Assembly constituencies of Jharsuguda (Odisha), Chhanbey (Uttar Pradesh), Suar (UP), and Sohiong (Meghalaya). The counting of votes will take place on May 13.
The Shiv Sena (UBT), which had warned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against “insulting” Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar, said on Wednesday that the issue has been resolved and they were “firmly united” with the Opposition parties in their fight against the BJP and the Narendra Modi government.“The issue has ended for us…The matter has been resolved,” MP Sanjay Raut, Uddhav Thackeray’s close confidant, told The Indian Express. “I have spoken to Rahul Gandhi about the issue,” he added.“We had raised our concerns on Savarkar two days back. We did not attend the meeting at Mallikarjun Kharge’s house. But there is and will be Opposition unity in Maharashtra as well as the country. We have got the results of the concerns we have expressed. We will attend the Opposition meeting today [Wednesday] and also participate in the protest in Parliament,” Raut said on Wednesday morning.In his speech in Malegaon on Sunday, Uddhav Thackeray had warned Rahul Gandhi that the Sena (UBT) would not tolerate any insult to Savarkar. “Savarkar is our deity…we will not tolerate any insult to him,” Thackeray had said.Asked whether Gandhi had promised not to raise the Savarkar issue again, Raut said, “We do not want to speak about it anymore. As I have said, the matter has been resolved.”When asked what the party’s stand would be if Gandhi raises the issue again, Raut said, “If Rahul Gandhi raises the issue again, we will see what to do… But we are confident he will not raise the issue.”Raut said the Shiv Sena (UBT) will be attending the meetings convened by the Opposition or the Congress. The Sena had on Monday night skipped a meeting convened by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge. “We are firmly united with the Opposition to save democracy and dislodge the BJP from power,” Raut said.On Tuesday, Congress communication head Jairam Ramesh said 19 parties were saying in one voice that democracy was in danger and “we have to unitedly face and fight the dictatorial government”. The Shiv Sena (UBT), he said, was one of the 19 parties.“There were 18 parties last night. Today, I have said 19. The number will go up from 18 to 19 when Shiv Sena is part of the group,” Ramesh said at a press conference in Delhi on Tuesday. To this, Raut said, “We are with the Congress and the Opposition…We will be attending all their meetings.”
A day after Uddhav Thackeray warned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against insulting Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut said he will meet Rahul and try to convince him to avoid mentioning Savarkar in his speeches and press conferences as it was a matter of faith for the Uddhav-led Sena.“Veer Savarkar is our deity. Savarkar is related to our faith. We cannot tolerate insults to him,” Sanjay Raut, chief spokesperson of Shiv Sena (UBT) told The Indian Express on Monday.Raut, who also addressed reporters in Mumbai on Monday on the same subject, said he will soon meet Rahul in New Delhi. “I will hold discussions with Rahul Gandhi on the issue of Veer Savarkar. I will explain to him the sacrifices made by Savarkar… He spent 14 years in Andaman and Nicobar jail. He was given the worst punishment of ‘kaala pani’,” he said.“Those who have gone to jail, like me, know how difficult it is to live there even for a day. And just imagine, Savarkar spent 14 years in jail where he had to undergo absolute torture. Rahul Gandhi needs to understand the sufferings and sacrifices that Savarkar underwent. I am sure the Congress leader will give me a patient hearing and will try to understand the life and times of Savarkar without insulting him,” he said.Raut added, “We object to the use of words like ‘mafiveer’ for Savarkar. By belittling the sacrifice of Savarkar in this manner, Rahul Gandhi is doing harm to himself and his image. Rahul Gandhi undertook Bharat Jodo Yatra and drew wide praise from across the country. And by insulting Savarkar, he is creating hatred among those who respect the Hindutva ideologue for what he did for the country.”The Sena (UBT) leader said Rahul has repeatedly said that Savarkar had apologised. “But how many times will he repeat the same thing? We did not expect that Rahul Gandhi will carry his animosity for a human being who is dead this far… The Congress leader needs to have closure with regard to his strong sentiments against Savarkar who is not alive to defend himself. He should stop mentioning Savarkar in his speeches and press conferences. There are several important national issues on which he is raising his voice without any fear… He should keep doing that. The country needs a leader like him,” he said.Raut said Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has already made it clear that his party will not tolerate any insult to Savarkar. “Rahul Gandhi needs to understand our sentiments as well. Savarkar is a matter of faith for us and therefore we will not tolerate anything said to dishonour or disrespect him,” he said.In its editorial on Monday, the Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said, “Rahul Gandhi repeatedly says ‘My name is not Savarkar’. By making such statements, Rahul Gandhi is not going to make the Congress courageous. Neither is he going to reduce the love and admiration that people have for Savarkar. Savarkar means courage, Savarkar means fight against injustice and ‘gulamgiri. Veer Savarkar created warriors in the country and outside to fight against the British. Like Savarkar, Rahul Gandhi will have to create warriors in his own party so that they can take on the present rulers.”The editorial said Rahul has been sentenced to two years’ jail in the 2019 defamation case. “This is an injustice to him. But if he is trying to fight for the truth by insulting Savarkar, he will never get that victory.”The editorial said the Congress leader belongs to a family of martyrs. “Motilal Nehru and Pandit Nehru went all out during the freedom struggle. Their life was dedicated to the country. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi made the highest sacrifices for the nation. The country acknowledges their matrydom. Similarly, Veer Savarkar’s brother Babarao Savarkar and their entire family also made the highest sacrifices for the country. No one should try to belittle those great sacrifices,” it added.After the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the two-year jail sentence, there is sympathy in favour of Rahul Gandhi, it said. “But if he continues to insult Savarkar, he will be doing harm to himself..”The editorial said Rahul’s comments on Savarkar will affect the Congress the most in Maharashtra. “In every village of Maharashtra, you will find Savarkar in many forms. This will certainly put the Congress rank and file in a difficult situation in the state.”
With Karnataka polls just around the corner, a video showing state Congress president DK Shivakumar showering currency notes on crowds during a roadshow has stirred a row.In the video, Shivakumar, during the ‘Praja Dhwani Yatra’ organised by the Congress in Bevinahalli in the Mandya district Tuesday, was seen flinging Rs 500 notes from the rooftop of a bus.#WATCH | Karnataka Congress Chief DK Shivakumar was seen throwing Rs 500 currency notes on the artists near Bevinahalli in Mandya district during the ‘Praja Dhwani Yatra’ organized by Congress in Srirangapatna. (28.03) pic.twitter.com/aF2Lf0pksi— ANI (@ANI) March 29, 2023Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai hit out at Congress, accusing the party of resorting to different tactics to garner votes. Slamming Shivakumar, Bommai said, “He (DK Shivakumar) does everything and blatantly uses all kinds of power. Congress thinks that the people (of Karnataka) are beggars but the people will teach them. People are the real owners,” news agency ANI reported.Bommai has also accused the state Congress chief of luring BJP MLAs by offering them tickets in constituencies where the party is yet to announce its candidates.“KPCC President D K Shivakumar since the last two to three days has been making phone calls to our MLAs in 100 constituencies where they are yet to announce candidates. He is stating that if you (BJP MLAs) come (to Congress) we will give you the ticket,” Bommai was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.Shivakumar is set to contest from his traditional seat of Kanakapura, according to the Congress’s first list of 124 candidates. The party is yet to announce tickets for 100 seats in the 224-seat Assembly.
A day after former Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa’s residence in Shivamogga district was vandalised, the police arrested three people, including a Congress leader, and booked 22 people.Shikaripura Congress General Secretary Raghavendra Naik, Puneeth Naik and Premkumar Naik were arrested based on a complaint filed by Rajappa, an assistant reserve sub-inspector, the police said.On Monday, a massive protest led by the members of the Banjara, Bhovi, Koracha and Korama communities against the state government’s decision on internal reservation in the 17 per cent Scheduled Castes quota turned violent with protesters pelting stones at Yediyurappa’s residence.On Tuesday, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra visited Yediyurappa’s residence and met the police. “It is an unfortunate incident and Yediyurappa in the past has fulfilled many of their demands,” he said.Meanwhile, protests against the government have continued with people blocking the Shivamogga-Shikaripura highway demanding that the state government withdraw its decision. Members of the Banjara community were seen removing BJP flags and banners installed on the roads.
New Delhi: In the middle of a huge political row over Rahul Gandhi's disqualification after a Gujarat court sentenced him to two years in jail, the Lok Sabha membership of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal was restored today after his conviction in a criminal case was put on hold.Sources say Rahul Gandhi's legal team may cite this example before a higher court to try and get a stay on his conviction and restore his Lok Sabha membership.Rahul Gandhi's petition challenging his conviction by a court in Gujarat's Surat may be filed today or tomorrow in a sessions court, sources said. He has 30 days to file his appeal.Though it was widely anticipated, the Election Commission did not announce poll dates today for Wayanad, the constituency that falls vacant after Rahul Gandhi's disqualification. The Congress said it would have challenged the poll body if it had announced elections before Rahul Gandhi's appeal and a decision on it.Mohammed Faizal, an MP of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a case of attempt to murder. He was automatically disqualified from parliament after his conviction.The sentence was stayed by the Kerala High Court in January.Mr Faisal challenged the Lok Sabha secretariat's "unlawful action" in not withdrawing his disqualification as an MP, more than two months after his sentence was put on hold.Mr Faisal claims that a false case was registered against him in 2016 over allegations of an attempt to murder a relative of former Union Minister PM Sayeed during the 2009 elections.The NCP leader was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019, in the middle of his trial. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison along with three others on January 11. Two days later, the Lok Sabha Secretariat sent him a disqualification notice.On January 18, the Election Commission announced polls to Mr Faisal's Lakshadweep seat on January 27. Two days before the polls, the Kerala High Court suspended Mr Faisal's sentence, forcing the Election Commission to withhold the byelection.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comOn January 30, Sharad Pawar met with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, to request him to revoke his party leader's disqualification.Met with Lok sabha speaker Shri. @ombirlakota and requested him to revoke the disqualification of Nationalist Congress Party's MP Shri. @faizalpp786 . pic.twitter.com/JGeQgIpJmo— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) January 30, 2023The Representation of the People Act, 1951, says that anyone convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more stands disqualified.The rule was invoked when Rahul Gandhi was held guilty by the Surat court in a defamation case linked to his "Modi surname" comments.
Meddling with the caste-based reservation system ahead of any polls can be equivalent to stirring the hornet’s nest. But Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was clearly ready for what he might face. “You cannot get honey without putting your hand in the hive,” he said three days ago, announcing long-stalled modifications of the system in the state.While the decision to withdraw 4 per cent reservation available to Muslims in the backward classes category and to distribute it to the dominant castes of Lingayats and Vokkaligas has grabbed the headlines, what might sting the BJP government more are changes in quotas for Dalit groups.On Monday, protests by Banjaras (Lambanis) — a Scheduled Caste sub-group in Karnataka – in Shivamogga district saw stones being pelted at the home of former CM and BJP veteran B S Yediyurappa.The Banjaras, who are considered tribals in some parts of the country, believe that the March 24 decision of the Bommai government reduces the quota available to them in government jobs and educational institutions.The Bommai government rejected a 2012 report by the Justice A J Sadashiva commission on internal reservations for Dalit groups in pushing through the modifications. Dalit groups are now eligible for total 17 per cent quota in education and government jobs, on the basis of Constitutional guarantees and the strength of their population.The commission had recommended that 6 per cent of the then total 15 per cent reservation for SCs be set aside for the most backward of Dalit communities, known as the ‘SC Left’ group; 5 per cent for the less backward ‘SC Right’ communities; 3 per cent for what were called ‘touchable’ SC communities like Banjaras (Lambanis), Bhovis; and 1 per cent for dozens of other small SC communities.In the 11 years since the commission submitted its report, successive state governments steered clear of touching the quota system for fear of an electoral blowback.For example, the 2013-2018 period, when the then Congress government led by Siddaramaiah faced pressure from some of the most backward Dalit communities to implement the commission report, which argued that most of the SC quota was grabbed by the less backward SC communities. Siddaramaiah promised to implement the report’s recommendations, but backtracked after he was warned it would stir agitations.The BJP is believed to have the support of a large section of the most backward SC communities, like the Madigas, and the Sadashiva report had in fact been presented to a government led by the party. During the 2018 Assembly elections, the BJP as well as the JD(S) promised to implement the report, with senior BJP leader B L Santhosh saying the party will “ensure, fruits from the government reach every Dalit in the state”.However, since it toppled the JD(S)-Congress government and took over in 2019, the current BJP government too stayed away from it – till now, when it is facing a tough election.The March 24 decision of the Bommai government rejected the Sadashiva Commission’s recommendations, for a “modified” version. Law Minister J C Madhuswamy said: “We decided to divide the numbers and increase the quota for Lambanis, Bhovis, Korachas, and Kormas, from 3 per cent to 4.5 per cent… For other groups, it is the same, with the less backward SC groups getting an increase of 0.5 per cent.”So while the Sadashiva commission recommended 6 per cent quota for the most backward SCs, 5 per cent for the less backward, 3 per cent for the Lambani, Bhovis, Korachas, Kormas, and 1 per cent for others, the BJP government – having increased the overall quota for SCs from 15 to 17 per cent – split it as 6 per cent, 5.5 per cent, 4.5 per cent, and 1 per cent, respectively.Justifying the move, CM Bommai said: “There are nearly 101 groups among the SCs. There are a lot of differences in social and educational backwardness among them.”In the internal reservation structure devised by the Bommai government for SCs, there are four communities in category 1 of the most backward (with the Madigas the largest), five in category 2 comprising the less backward (with the Holeyas as a key group), ‘touchable’ communities of new castes in the SC list such as Lambani, Bhovi, Koracha, Korma in category 3, and the remaining smaller communities with minuscule numbers in category 4.While the most backward Dalits are considered supporters of the BJP, the less backward SCs are seen as allied with the Congress (with several Congress leaders, like national party president Mallikarjun Kharge belonging to this group). The category 3 groups such as Lambanis, Bhovis, the most mobile among the SCs, tend to be divided in their political loyalties.It is ironic that it is the Banjaras, part of the group for which a 4.5 per cent quota has been set aside in the new system, who have been the first to hit the streets. The leaders of the most backward SC groups in Shivamogga region – that saw protests Monday – say this is because the Banjaras were earlier able to corner a large chunk of the Dalit quota due to their enterprising nature, and now fear their share will be restricted to only 4.5 per cent of the total.The protesting Banjara members submitted a memorandum to officials in Shivamogga seeking a rollback of the new quota regime.While there was speculation of a conspiracy in the attack on Yediyurappa’s home during the protests – with the former CM distancing himself from the party — Bommai alleged a Congress hand.The newest quota changes follow several decisions by the BJP government over the past year – such as increasing the share of the Lingayats from 5 per cent to 7; for Vokkaligas from 4 per cent to 6; and Scheduled Tribes from 3 per cent to 7; apart from the increase in SC quota from 15 per cent to 17.The BJP appears to believe it is hence insured even if there are protests by a sub-group among the Dalits.Some believe the attack on Lingayat leader Yediyurappa’s home may serve as a tonic to motivate the community to rise up in support of the BJP, with the veteran their tallest leader.Congress spokesperson Ramesh Babu said the BJP hoped to beat anti-incumbency by such measures. “The BJP is known to resort to all sorts of jugglery when it is faced with the prospect of a defeat in elections. It did so in Gujarat and in Uttar Pradesh with success,” he said.Sharda Pooryanaik, a Banjara leader and former JD(S) MLA from Shivamogga Rural (SC) seat, told the media: “The government should have held consultations with various caste groups before bringing the changes. Everybody agreed that the Sadashiva commission recommendations must be examined again since these are unscientific. There have been demands for a proper caste census to arrive at the quota requirements.”Incidentally, in the past, efforts by Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh to categorise internal reservations within the Dalit quota have failed to get sanction from the Supreme Court. So, for any such move in Karnataka to go through, a Constitutional amendment might be needed, with the BJP government at the Centre well-placed to do so.
THE committee under Finance Secretary TV Somanathan, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week, to relook at pension may not recommend a solution where the gains made over two decades are reversed, The Indian Express has learnt.That’s the big-picture sense from conversations with officials who have to balance the imperatives of politics in a pre-poll year and a reform that has withstood the pressures of time — and partisanship.There are options.One, increase the government contribution to the pension corpus of its employees from the current 14 per cent to such a level that the employee can expect 50 per cent of her last drawn basic pay as pension upon retirement.Indeed, one of the models being looked at is the Andhra Pradesh government proposal which has a “guarantee” that employees will get 50 per cent of the last drawn salary as pension.Officials said the government may also explore ways to make good for the increase in payout (dearness relief announced twice every year increases the pension by a certain percentage taking care of the rise in living expenses) as it happens under the old pension scheme (OPS).The NDA lost elections in 2004, the year NPS was implemented. But the Congress carried it forward. After a decade, when NDA returned under Modi, it consolidated the gains. But in 2019, just before elections, NDA hiked government contribution. Now, a fresh review again just ahead of 2024 polls.Whatever the formula that’s worked out, one thing is clear.The committee and its mandate mark a sharp turnaround in the Modi government’s support of the new pension system (NPS) — where contributions are defined, and benefits market-linked — which came into effect in January 2004, just a few months before the Lok Sabha elections.“There was no question of any looking back when the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi returned to power. His political conviction in pension reforms and fiscal conservatism meant the NPS was there to stay,” said an official.And yet there was no escaping the politics.In fact, the BJP’s electoral loss in May 2004 may have nothing to do with pension reforms – the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was convinced of the economic rationale behind the move. But the party’s 10-year loss of power, between 2004 and 2014, is a memory that still stalks North Block.This when, in 2009, BJP’s loss in the Lok Sabha elections had not deterred the Congress from staying the course on pension reforms. With Manmohan Singh at the helm, and P Chidambaram as Finance Minister, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government earnestly implemented the NPS, exhorted states to follow suit, and also introduced a Bill to develop and regulate the pension sector. This was one of the many reforms that earned bipartisan support.There were four good reasons the government reformed the pension sector at the time it did: i) with increasing life spans, pension bills were ballooning, putting to risk future finances of the Centre and states, ii) a safety net for a very small percentage of workforce was being funded ironically by even the poor taxpayer, iii) inter-generational equity – the next generation footing the bill for the previous – presented a difficult-to-ignore moral hazard, and iv) India was at the cusp of a 50-year demographic dividend opportunity beginning 2005-05 with the best working age population ratio (workers or those in the 15-64 age group age/ dependents or those under 15 plus 65 and over).However, after the first five years in power, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre did not take any chances. Just before Lok Sabha elections in 2019, it increased the employer’s contribution to NPS to 14 per cent of the employee’s basic pay every month from 10 per cent earlier; the employee continued to contribute only 10 per cent of her basic pay.The timing was not lost on those keeping a tab on BJP’s economic thinking; this came into effect from April 1, 2019.Now with just a year to go for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is acutely aware of an altered economic and social landscape. The straws in the wind have been there for the past couple of years.Low growth that precedes the pandemic, job and income losses during Covid-19, stretched financial resources of people due to medical expenditure, and high inflation – which works like a painful tax on the poor, have highlighted the inadequacy of safety nets for a bulk of the country’s people. The political class cannot be blind to this. To discount the giveaways in recent Budgets by even fiscally prudent states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra as an election freebie will be drawing a wrong message.It is in this backdrop that government employees are demanding a return of the old pension scheme. At least five states (Congress-ruled Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh, JMM-led Jharkhand, and Aam Aadmi Party-led Punjab) have done so, having already notified the old pension scheme.The Congress win of the Assembly elections in Himachal, which most attribute to its promise to bring back OPS, has made the BJP leadership anxious. In Maharashtra, protests by state government employees prompted the Eknath Shinde government, whose finance minister is BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, to set up a committee and address the NPS shortcomings. Some national employee unions continue to protest too, giving calls for rallies demanding restoration of OPS.Then, there is the insider bias. A section of senior IAS bureaucrats – who have the political executive’s ear – feel their juniors who joined service after January 1, 2004, can’t be left to the “mercy” of markets while seniors retire with the assurance of a continuously rising pension kitty.This conversation on NPS has been in the top echelons of power for a while now. Not that the Prime Minister is not aware of these noises around him. But if his preference for fiscal prudence is an indication, he will be happy only with a solution that doesn’t put the future of state finances in jeopardy.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrote to the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Tuesday saying he would be vacating his official residence at 12, Tughlak Lane, a day after receiving a notice following his disqualification as MP.However, his party colleagues kept up the attack on the BJP government over the issue, seeing it as part of targeting of Rahul. In his letter giving up the bungalow, allotted to him in 2004 after he won his first Lok Sabha election from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul wrote: “As an elected member of the Lok Sabha for the last 4 terms, it is the mandate of the people to which I owe the happy memories of my time spent here… Without prejudice to my rights, I will, of course, abide by the details contained in your letter”. The last date for Gandhi to vacate the bungalow is April 22.Rahul Gandhi agrees to vacate official bungalow after notice from House committeeRead: https://t.co/2Y2uBg3zxC pic.twitter.com/EokBffRggV— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) March 28, 2023Congress president and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said he would himself provide a house for Rahul if matters came to that. “He (Rahul) can go live with his mother or he can come to me, I will vacate one for him. I condemn this attitude of the government to threaten, scare and humiliate,” Kharge told reporters. “In a democracy, several times we have managed without a house for three-four months. I got this bungalow after six months. People do these things to humiliate others. I condemn this attitude.”Delhi | Rahul Gandhi is not worried about the house. Whatever the government of India is doing with the country’s democracy is a bigger issue, that is what he told. Every Opposition party is together, we had a cordial discussion and we will move forward with the same energy:… pic.twitter.com/7O48eYcUTJ— ANI (@ANI) March 27, 2023Congress general secretary K C Venugopal was quoted by ANI as saying, “Rahul Gandhi is not worried about the house. Whatever the government of India is doing with the country’s democracy is a bigger issue, that is what he said.”Congress MP Pramod Tiwari told ANI: “This shows the BJP’s hatred towards Rahul Gandhi. For a period of 30 days after the notice is served, one can rightfully continue to stay in the same house. After the 30-day time period, one can continue to stay in the same house by paying rent at market rates. Rahul Gandhi comes under ‘Z’ plus security category.”Rahul asked to vacate bungalowTheir conscience has gone on a vacationPetty politicsOf petty men— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) March 28, 2023Rajya Sabha MP and former Congress leader Kapil Sibal called the move “petty politics of petty men”. “Rahul asked to vacate bungalow. Their conscience has gone on a vacation,” he tweeted.Asked about the matter at a press conference, Union minister Smriti Irani said, “The house does not belong to him, it belongs to the common people.”
The defence claimed the FIR was a result of political vendetta. (File)Navsari: A court in Gujarat's Navsari fined Congress MLA Anant Patel Rs 99 in a 2017 case in which he was accused of entering the chamber of the vice chancellor of an agriculture university and tearing the photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a students' protest.The court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate VA Dhadhal found Mr Patel, an MLA from Vansda (Scheduled Caste) seat, guilty under Section 447 of the Indian Penal Code for criminal trespass.Mr Patel and six others, including members of the Youth Congress, were booked under IPC Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 353 (assault), 427 (mischief causing loss of Rs 50 upwards), 447 (criminal trespass) and 504 (intentional insult) by Jalalpore police in May 2017.Mr Patel and the others were accused of entering the office of the vice chancellor of Navsari Agriculture University during a student protest, behaving in an unruly manner and tearing a photo of PM Modi kept on the VC's table.The court found three of the accused guilty of criminal trespass and ordered them to deposit a fine of Rs 99, failing which they will have to face simple imprisonment of seven days.The prosecution sought maximum punishment for Mr Patel under Section 447 of IPC, which is a jail term of up to three months and a fine of Rs 500.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe defence, however. claimed the FIR was a result of political vendetta as the accused are members of the opposition Congress.(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
More than a month after the Telangana Assembly passed a resolution on including the Boya or the Valmiki community in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list, the Andhra Pradesh government last week pushed through a similar resolution in the Assembly.The Andhra Assembly on Friday also passed a resolution requesting the Union Government to include Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list, with Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy saying that the social and economic status of people doesn’t change automatically just because they convert to another religion. The issue of granting SC status to Dalit Christians was discussed during the tenure of Jagan’s father Dr Y S Rajashekar Reddy. The Congress government of undivided Andhra Pradesh had also urged the Centre to accept the recommendation. Though both the YSR Congress Party of the CM and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) jostle for their votes, in the last elections in May 2019 they shifted they backed the ruling party.At present, a committee headed by former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan is examining the issue of quotas for Dalit Muslims and Christians. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), however, has said recently that the current reservation system should not be tinkered with and quota should not be extended to Muslim and Christian Dalits since their religions claim to be egalitarian.Meanwhile, after the Assembly passed the resolution on including Valmikis in the ST category, Reddy quickly reassured other tribal groups that the inclusion of the Boyas would not affect the existing quotas. In Andhra Pradesh, STs enjoy six per cent reservation. The CM said the resolution was introduced to fulfil a promise he had made to the community during a padayatra he undertook before coming to power in May 2019.The CM allayed fears that including Valmiki community people from Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur, and Chittoor districts in the list would reduce the quota of STs of the tribal agency areas as a zoning system is in force according to the six-point formula that was agreed between leaders of undivided Andhra on September 21, 1973. The formula was aimed at a uniform approach for “accelerated development of the backward areas” of Andhra Pradesh and to provide “equitable opportunities” in education and government jobs in different areas of the state.The inclusion of Boyas or Valmikis may only have a negligible impact on Group 1 jobs that come under the non-zoning category. It becomes negligible as only 386 Group 1 jobs have been notified in the last 10 years and the six per cent reservation only amounts to 21 or 22 posts.The one-man Commission of retired IAS officer Samuel Anand Kumar who studied the social and economic conditions of the Boyas in the four districts and the ST Commission also agreed with this assessment, said the Chief Minister.Government jobs in the zoning system and districts constitute 99 per of the total jobs and the STs of the tribal agency areas would suffer no job loss because of the proposed inclusion of the group.“The biggest fear of STs is a loss of jobs when other communities are added to the group. The zoning system may offset the inclusion of Boyas/Valmikis in the ST list, it remains to be seen what will happen in other sectors where there is no zoning system,” said ST leader V Ranga Rao.The Boyas traditionally supported the Congress but as the grand old party’s electoral footprint shrank after the state’s bifurcation in 2014, they shifted to the YSRCP, backing it to the hilt in 2019. The TDP government had also proposed to include Boyas in the ST list. After losing power in 2019, when the demand for inclusion in the ST list was again raised by the community, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter, saying the community needs help, and requested the Centre to introduce a Bill in Parliament.“The TDP tried to create divisions by proposing the resolution but not implementing it. We have passed the resolution and will implement it. Boya community is now fully with YSRCP,’’ said Tribal Welfare Minister P Rajanna Dora.On February 10, the Telangana government passed a resolution in Assembly recommending to the Centre to include Valmiki Boyas in the ST list along with other caste groups such as the Pedda Boyas, Khaiti Lambadas, Mali Saha Bedars, Kiratakas, Nishadis, Bhat Mathuralus, Chamar Mathuras, Chunduwals, and Thalayaris.CM K Chandrashekar Rao, who introduced the resolution, said the state government had accepted the recommendation of a Commission of Inquiry for Scheduled Tribes in 2016 for the inclusion of the Valmiki Boyas, Kirataka, and other groups and submitted the same to the Centre.Since no response had been received from the Union government, the Assembly unanimously resolved to recommend to the Centre to include the communities in the ST list, said the CM, reading out the resolution.He also proposed that the Mali community living in the districts of Adilabad, Komram Bheem Asifabad and Mancherial be included in the ST list, given their socio-economic conditions.
With Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament, many questions pertaining both to its legal and political ramifications have been doing the rounds. I intend here to both clarify many questions being raised and also raise new and significant ones which are consequential not only to the present case but more broadly, to the fate of our parliamentary democracy.On March 23, the chief judicial magistrate, Surat, sentenced Congress MP Rahul Gandhi to two years imprisonment and also imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 after convicting him for the offence of criminal defamation under Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.The court suspended his sentence for 30 days and granted him bail to enable him to file an appeal in a higher court against its verdict. Following this, the very next day, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification notification.Congress workers rushed to the streets in many parts of the country, instead of his lawyers rushing to the court in appeal. The solution only lies in the courts. The disqualification can only be reversed if a higher court grants a stay on the conviction or reverses the conviction. After the Lily Thomas judgment of the Supreme Court in 2013, disqualification comes into immediate effect.On October 1, 2013, Rasheed Masood became the first MP to lose his membership of Parliament upon his conviction in a criminal case. After that, over 20 other legislators, including Lalu Prasad, have been disqualified under the same provision.Did the Lok Sabha secretariat act in undue haste as alleged by some? A former Attorney General pointed out that the secretariat has no option. He clarified that as soon as the judge signs the conviction order, disqualification kicks in. He, however, did not mention a violation of this principle that has happened in a similar case from Lakshadweep.The Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faisal was convicted in an attempt-to-murder case and was awarded a 10-year sentence. Two days later, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued a notification disqualifying him. On January 18, 2023, the Election Commission declared a by-poll for the Lakshadweep seat. However, on January 25, the Kerala High Court stayed Faisal’s conviction. The SC thereafter stayed the by-poll — which the Election Commission had ordered with a similar speed. Even then, to this day, he has not been reinstated in Parliament. What the legal luminary has not mentioned is whether the removal of disqualification also comes into effect the moment the court signs the order suspending conviction. Does this not lend credence to the allegation of selective haste? Besides, doesn’t this wilful disobedience to the orders of the High Court, attract contempt of court? In Lok Prahari v Election Commission of India (2018), the Supreme Court held that once a conviction has been stayed during the pendency of an appeal, the disqualification which operates as a consequence of the conviction cannot take or remain in effect.Some puzzling questions remain that need to be answered. How was it that the petitioner who filed the suit against Rahul Gandhi, sought a stay from the High Court on Gandhi’s trial last year and was successful in delaying the proceedings for nearly twelve months? And what specific circumstances prompted him to seek a vacation of stay when no additional evidence was produced? Why was the magistrate changed last month? No reason has surfaced.Thirdly, did Rahul Gandhi’s remarks come under criminal defamation as opposed to civil defamation? This is what he had said at a rally in Kolar, Karnataka, on April 13, 2019: “One small question, how are the names of all these thieves ‘Modi, Modi, Modi’… Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi…”Did it call for a sentence of the maximum possible prison-term of two years? Incidentally, this is the minimum period of punishment which attracts disqualification under the Representation of People Act 1951.Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly of all: In a political atmosphere such as ours which is being increasingly charged with high levels of hate speech and vitriolic politics, how many of our politicians can truly survive the test of Section 153 (a) and Section 505, conviction under both of which can lead to disqualification under Section 8 of the Representation of People Act, 1951? Both the aforementioned sections deal with the offences of promoting enmity based on religious and linguistic grounds, among others. Therefore, why is there this selective efficiency in disqualifying members of the Opposition while turning a blind eye toward the members of the ruling dispensation? Surely, as the ruling party themselves are stating repeatedly, equality before the law is a cardinal principle and no one is above the law.I believe it is high time that we review and rethink the use and legitimacy of defamation cases in general. Many democratic countries around the world, including the UK, USA and Sri Lanka have decriminalised defamation where it is no longer a criminal offence. It may do us well to follow suit.Finally, in conclusion, it must be remembered that the best and the correct way to proceed from hereon will be through the due process of the courts. The judgment determining the legality of the disqualification cannot be deliberated in the streets. The political fallout of this issue is slowly unfolding and we wait to see where this may finally take us, especially in light of the 2024 general elections.But whatever may be the electoral results and legal verdicts, it is an indisputable fact that a healthy Opposition is imperative for a healthy democracy. We must not allow it to be killed.The writer is former Chief Election Commissioner of India and the author of An Undocumented Wonder: The Making of the Great Indian Election
Rahul Gandhi was convicted of criminal defamation by a court in Gujarat.New Delhi: The BJP on Sunday hit out at the Congress for its protests against the disqualification of party leader Rahul Gandhi from parliament, calling it a campaign against the country's constitution and the court's verdict which found him guilty of defaming an "entire backward community".Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi also dubbed the Congress agitation an "insult" to Mahatma Gandhi, saying while the Father of the Nation had organised Satyagraha for social causes, the Congress was holding "so-called Satyagraha" for personal reasons.The Congress agitation is a "brazen" display of its arrogance after Mr Gandhi's conviction in a defamation case in Gujarat and his "automatic" disqualification as Lok Sabha MP as a result of the court's verdict, he charged.The Congress's 'Sankalp Satyagraha' has nothing to do with fighting for truth, he added.The BJP leader said Gandhi was convicted by a court in Surat after the due legal process and his disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP was an automatic consequence under the relevant law."Then, Satyagraha for what?" the BJP leader asked."Is it to justify the way you insulted the entire backward community of the country, or against the court which sentenced you,PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comor against the provision under which you have to be disqualified," he said, asking Congress to clarify.Stating that some of the Congress leaders who were allegedly involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots were also participating in the party's agitation, the BJP leader asked the opposition party to clarify if their Satyagraha organised at Mahatma Gandhi's Samadhi Sthal in Rajghat was also against 'Ahimsa' (non-violence).
Ashok Gehlot alleged that the BJP government at the Centre was also misusing agencies(FILE)Bharatpur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday claimed the judiciary is under pressure and the 'Modi surname remark' over which a Gujarat court sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail was just a "political" comment.But at the same time, the Congress veteran said he has faith in the Judiciary and the right verdict will come in time – an apparent reference to the possibility of a higher court overturning the ruling.Mr Gehlot alleged that the BJP government at the Centre was also misusing agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate."Today there is pressure on Judiciary, pressure on Election Commissions, ED, Income Tax, CBI, which are premium agencies and their credibility used to be huge, are being misused. When such an atmosphere prevails, such rulings are made…every ruling (faisla) is influenced," he said."I have full faith in judiciary that the right decision will be taken in the coming time," the Chief Minister said.A court in Surat in Gujarat on Thursday sentenced Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case filed against him over his "Modi surname" remarks.The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma, which held Mr Gandhi guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 499 and 500, also granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court, the Congress leader's lawyer Babu Mangukiya said."We have seen for 40-50 years, how many such comments Vajpayee ji, Advani ji must have made but that time was different, this time is different. In those days there were no such court cases," Mr Gehlot said."Rahul Gandhi's comment also means that the people with Modi surname think that Modi is our man, he will save us," he said, adding, "This was a political comment." Mr Gehlot said PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and the NDA government do not pay attention to the issues of unemployment, inflation and violence raised by Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra but instead are focused on taking revenge.Targeting BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra for calling Rahul Gandhi the present-day Mir Jafar of Indian policy, Mr Gehlot said people who make low-level comments are the face of the BJP."History is witness that the deeds of Mir Jafar were done by Veer Savarkar and the people of RSS during the freedom struggle. While Pandit Nehru and other leaders were in jail, Veer Savarkar apologised many times in writing," he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"When the freedom struggle was going on against the British, what was the role of RSS? Did even a single person take part in the freedom struggle? They link Rahul Gandhi with Mir Zafar, they should be ashamed of this. RSS played the role of Mir Zafar and betrayed the country," he added.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
The Congress is furious at Mamata Banerjee’s concerted effort to ensure that Rahul Gandhi is not declared “the big boss’’ in the still-in-the works opposition alliance. Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury insinuated that Banerjee was playing the BJP’s game out of fear of investigative agencies. TMC supporters deny the insinuation, pointing out that central investigative agencies are still harassing her nephew Abhishek and his associates. Banerjee’s anti-Rahul stance is ascribed to her poor opinion of his capabilities, even though she has great respect for Sonia Gandhi. If Rahul is made the main challenger to Modi, she fears he would handicap the entire opposition and has informed her party that this is the reason the BJP keeps promoting Rahul’s name.The Congress’s recent win in the Muslim-dominated Sagardighi Assembly bypoll, a TMC stronghold, with the help of the CPM, has further antagonised Banerjee. Akhilesh Yadav has been persuaded to stay equidistant from both the Congress and the BJP. Banerjee also hopes to win Naveen Patnaik over to her side. Telangana’s K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has prime ministerial ambitions himself, needs no convincing. The NCP skipped the Opposition march to the ED office to protest lack of action against industrialist Adani. Pawar is an old friend of Adani and has stayed with him in Ahmedabad. Ironically, the AAP, which earlier saw the Congress as a direct threat, has now indicated willingness to cooperate in some states.External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s angst in a recent interview to ANI recalling that his father, Dr K Subrahmanyam, unquestionably an outstanding officer, was superseded in 1980 during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime is understandable. But raking up the word “supersession’’ is ironical considering Jaishankar too inhabits a glass house. He was appointed Foreign Secretary in January 2015, just days before retirement. To make his appointment possible, then Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was asked to put in her papers, though she still had some months of service left.In the early years of independence, there were clear guidelines on selections to the top posts in the bureaucracy to ensure that the administration could be insulated from political pulls and pressures. Appointments were made on the basis of seniority of batches and the tenure was generally fixed for two years. But in recent times, seniority and fixed tenures have become an exception rather than the rule. The practice began long before Modi’s regime. For instance, when Shyam Saran was appointed foreign secretary in 2004, the 1970 batch officer jumped over three senior batches and some 15 potential IFS aspirants. In 2006, Shiv Shankar Menon leapfrogged over two senior batches and at least 16 senior colleagues. Since K M Chandrashekhar’s appointment as cabinet secretary in 2007, all cabinet secretaries, Ajit Kumar Seth, Pradip Kumar Sinha and incumbent Rajiv Gauba have had four-year tenures, dashing the hopes of many qualified secretaries to obtain the top job. While a government has the right to pick an officer of its choice for important posts, the dangers of following no clear cut norms is that pliable officers out to please political masters usually hold an edge. Another unfortunate trend is that the cabinet secretary is no longer the most powerful bureaucrat in the country; the senior secretaries in the PMO often carry more weight than the cabinet secretary. Last year, the government passed an ordinance extending the directorships of CBI and ED by an additional three years following a two-year tenure. The ordinance seems to have been specifically tailored to benefit Sanjay Mishra, an IRS officer who heads the ED and is on his third extension. Mishra will complete five years in his post.Members of all parties are learning the hard way that their respective high commands do not like them to carve out too high-profile a role for themselves. Mohua Moitra the TMC’s articulate, firebrand leader, who regularly takes on the BJP, including PM Modi, has reportedly been told to tone down her rhetoric on the Adani case. Recently, Moitra had questioned the veracity of the electoral affidavits of BJP MP Nishikant Dubey about his age and educational qualifications. Dubey, in retaliation, used the social media to try and score points with low grade innuendos. The BJP has asked both Dubey and the BJP’s Tamil Nadu president K Annamalai not to make statements unilaterally. Annamalai threatened to quit as state party chief if the alliance with the AIADMK remained intact and announced that two central ministers from Tamil Nadu would contest the Lok Sabha elections from the state on a BJP ticket. The party has no intention of fielding Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar from Tamil Nadu, a state where the BJP has still to strike deep roots. Annamalai is likely to lose his post as state president after the Karnataka polls.
After the Surat court verdict Thursday in a defamation case convicting Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Congress leader and former Union minister Renuka Chowdhury recalled the jibe at her on the floor of Parliament, seen as comparing her to the Ramayana character ‘Surpanakha’, and said she would file a defamation case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Sharing a 2018 video from Parliament, where Modi said Chowdhury’s laughter reminded him of a character from the 1980s TV serial based on the Ramayana, the Congress leader tweeted: “This classless megalomaniac referred to me as Surpanakha on the floor of the house. I will file a defamation case against him. Let’s see how fast courts will act now,” she said.This classless megalonaniac referred to me as Surpanakha on the floor of the house.I will file a defamation case against him. Let’s see how fast courts will act now.. pic.twitter.com/6T0hLdS4YW— Renuka Chowdhury (@RenukaCCongress) March 23, 2023On February 8, 2018, the PM was speaking in the Rajya Sabha about the Aadhaar scheme. At one point, he said that the concept of Aadhaar was mooted in 1998 by L K Advani, the home minister in the then NDA government. It was at this point that Chowdhury burst into laughter. When then Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu asked Chowdhury to behave, Modi urged him not to restrain the Congress MP. “It is for the first time after the Ramayana serial that we are having the good fortune of hearing such laughter today,” the PM said.A clipping of this incident was subsequently tweeted by Union minister Kiren Rijiju. Calling it “highly objectionable”, Chowdhury said she would file a privilege motion against Rijiju. The minister told the media: “I am only referring to how the Prime Minister didn’t get annoyed. Despite such vexatious laugh by Renuka Chowdhury, the PM didn’t get irritated.”Amit Malviya, the social media head of the BJP, hours later tweeted a clip of Surpanakha laughing out loud from the serial, with the comment: “Someone sent me this video clip from Ramayana in response to ‘identify the laughter’ contest… Can you identify her?”In the Ramayana, Ravana’s sister Surpanakha has her note cut off by Lakshman, after she professes her love for Ram.Reacting sharply to Modi’s comments, the Congress called them “distasteful” and “sexist”, with the Mahila Congress demanding an apology from the PM. Its leader Anand Sharma said Modi had “crossed the line of political discourse” with the use of his language and his “outrageous” reference. Then Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev said, “I express my shock at the utterly sexist and downright distasteful comment against an honourable Member of Parliament, made by none less than the honorable Prime Minister of India.”The BJP had rallied against Chowdhury. Then Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani said, “It is wrong to use your gender as a shield to hide your ill-mannered behaviour. Ask any woman, she would not accept it.”Chowdhury, known for her outspokenness and flamboyance, has been lying low since her Lok Sabha defeat from Telangana’s Khammam seat in 2019. She was last in news in June 2022, when news cameras caught her grabbing a police sub-inspector’s collar during the Telangana Congress’s protest in Hyderabad against the Enforcement Directorate’s questioning of Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case.
The Congress released its first list of 124 names for the coming Karnataka Assembly elections, refielding 60 of 69 sitting MLAs, with one key change. Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has been named from his family pocket borough of Varuna, a seat won by his son Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah last time.Karnataka PCC president D K Shivakumar will contest his traditional seat of Kanakapura, while Priyank Kharge, the son of Congress president Mallikarujun Kharge, has been fielded again from the seat he won last time, Chitapur (SC) in the Kalaburagi region.PR1 Karnataka vs Candidates 2023 by Dorjee Wangmo on ScribdThe Congress first list covering 124 of the 224 total seats does not include Badami, the seat from which Siddaramaiah won narrowly in 2018, as well as Kolar, the constituency which the former CM had expressed his wish to contest from.Former Congress MP and Dalit leader K H Muniyappa has been named from Devanahalli (SC) seat, and Darshan Dhruvanarayan, the son of former Congress working president R Dhruvanarayan (who died days earlier) from Nanjangud (SC).The party has fielded six Muslim MLAs (all of them sitting legislators), six women (five of them refielded), while six of the candidates are fathers and sons or daughters.The oldest candidate in the Congress list is 89-year-old Shamanur Shivashankarappa, the sitting MLA from Davangere South, while the youngest is Darshan Dhruvanarayan (31).The women contestants in the first list are Lakshmi Hebbalkar (Belagavi Rural), Anjali Nimbalkar (Khanapur), Kaneez Fathima (Gulbarga North), Roopakala Shashidhar (Kolar Gold Field, SC reserved), H Kusuma (Raja Rajeshwari Nagar) and Sowmya Reddy (Jayanagar). Kusuma, who lost a 2019 bypoll, is the wife of former IAS officer D K Ravi, whose death due to suicide had led to allegations against the then Congress government.The Muslim candidates fielded by the Congress are Fathima, the wife of late Congress leader Qamar-ul-Islam, U T Khader (Mangalore), Zameer Ahmed (Chamrajpet), Raheem Khan (Bidar), Rizwan Arshad (Shivajinagar), and N A Haris (Shanthinagar).While both M Krishnappa and his son Priya Krishna are contesting, from seats that fall in Bengaluru, K H Muniyappa has got a ticket from Devanahalli and daughter Roopakala from KGF. Shamanur Shivashankarappa and his son S S Mallikarjun are both fielded from seats in Davangere.Former Congress CM S Bangarappa’s son Madhu Bangarappa (who switched from the JD-S) has been fielded from the family pocket borough of Sorab. Madhu is likely to take on his brother Kumar Bangarappa, contesting from the BJP ticket, in Sorab.BJP leader B N Bache Gowda’s son Sharath Bache Gowda, who won as an Independent last time, has got the Congress ticket from Hoskote in south Karnataka.Among the sitting Congress MLAs not included in the first list is M Y Patil (Afzalpur), whose gunman was named in the police sub-inspector recruitment scam; Durgappa Hoolagere from Lingasugur; Kusuma Shivalli from Kundgol; Ramappa from Harihara; Venkataramanappa from Pavagada (replaced by his son); Yathindra (who has given way to father Siddaramaiah); V Muniyappa from Sidlaghatta; and Akhanda Srinivasamurthy from Pulakeshinagar.The Congress has fielded four of its six working presidents in the first list. While one of them, Saleem Ahmed, is looking to contest from the Haveri region, Dhruvanarayan who died earlier this month has been replaced by his son.KPCC chief Shivakumar said the Congress would release the second list in two to three days.Siddaramaiah said recently, after a meeting in Delhi, that names have been cleared for those seats where there is not more than one aspirant. “In places where there is no conflict, irrespective of whether there is a sitting Congress MLA or not, the names have been cleared,” he said.State Congress working president Satish Jarkiholi suggested at the time that there were differences of opinion on the fielding of around six sitting Congress MLAs. “There is an issue with six sitting candidates and the discussions are still on. The matter has been postponed. A decision will be taken on the basis of surveys and more opinions,” Jarkiholi said.The Congress becomes the second party to release names for the coming polls. Earlier, the JD(S) had released a list of 93 names.The poll schedule has not been announced as yet by the Election Commission. It is now expected in the first week of April, with the polls likely in early May. The term of the 15th Karnataka Legislative Assembly ends on May 24, 2023.
ONE OF the many rising trends in India these days is hypersensitivity to the vast, colourful and often satirical realm of conventional as well as social media, cutting across states, governments and political parties. Tamil Nadu, a state that prides itself on protests leading to social justice upheaval and on politicians arising from the creative space of cinema, is no exception.Most such cases in the state have been filed under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, the same two provisions under which Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was convicted by a Surat court this week.In the latest instance, Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker M Appavu on Thursday referred Tamil daily Dinamalar to the House privilege committee for “denigrating” Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan and other MLAs in its coverage of his state Budget speech.A report carried on March 21, Tuesday, on Dinamalar’s front page was titled ‘Scratching his head, and fumbling… the Finance Minister completed his Budget speech’. A photo accompanying the report showed Rajan reading the speech even as DMK MLAs sat next to him seemingly dozing. The daily circled the faces of the MLAs who appeared to have their eyes closed. (Some of them were at least using digital tablets to access files and procedures related to the Budget, which might have given the impression that they were sleeping). Dinamalar has not yet reacted to the Speaker’s action.A day after the Dinamalar report, the Tamil Nadu Police, in a midnight action, arrested a 23-year-old over social media posts allegedly promoting enmity between groups and public mischief and insulting the modesty of women. Pradheep was remanded to 15-day custody.Here again, the immediate provocation appears to have been a meme posted by the youth on the Budget. A video clip of an old Tamil film was put up by Pradheep in which two men pick “eligible” women, which he suggested would be how the government would go about selecting women homemakers for the monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 announced in the Budget. In the video shared by him, the two men were identified as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and Rajan.The two incidents coincided with examples showing other thin-skinned state governments in the neighbourhood. In Karnataka, actor-activist Chetan Kumar alias Chetan Ahimsa was arrested by the Bengaluru city police on Tuesday – his second arrest in a year – for allegedly hurting religious sentiments over a tweet on Hindutva. In Kerala, ruled by the Left that is the first to accuse the Narendra Modi government of “gagging” of press freedom, a popular TV news anchor and critic of the government, Vinu V John, was booked and questioned recently.In Tamil Nadu too, this is far from the first such action by a government. In 1987, under the M G Ramachandran-led AIADMK government, the state Assembly sentenced several journalists, including an editor of a prominent Tamil magazine, S Balasubramanian, to three months’ imprisonment for “violating the privilege of the House”. They spent three days in prison.In 2003, when the AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa was CM, the Speaker declared jail term for five journalists, including editors of The Hindu and DMK mouthpiece Murasoli, following several reports critical of the state government. This was stayed by the Supreme Court.In another term in power, in 2014, Jayalalithaa filed a complaint against a news reader on a Tamil TV channel over a critical news telecast. Besides, a leading English daily editor was booked by her government for publishing a statement by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.During her 2001-2006 regime, Jayalalithaa in fact filed 195 criminal cases against party leaders and media. In 2012, when she was CM again, she sued Tamil magazine Nakkeeran for calling her a “beef-eater.”M Karunanidhi’s regime was no better. In 2009, the news editor of Dinamalar was arrested after a report was published on a Kollywood actor’s prostitution allegations.At a time when social media has blurred the line between individual opinions and institutional positions, leaders admit that governments need to develop a thicker hide and not claim offence over every slight remark. There is also the danger of leaders being gradually cut off from all voices of criticism, especially in case of long-standing rulers who often come to depend on a shrinking coterie. A former CM of a South India state says this has already come to pass, with leaders increasingly insular, amplifying their sensitivity to any criticism.Incidentally, be it Stalin or his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan, these are the same leaders who argued once against legal and criminal actions against slightly problematic or derogatory content when in the Opposition. For that matter, most of the stalwarts of the BJP – then known as the Jana Sangh – earned their political stripes fighting the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government’s crackdown against most institutions of the country during the Emergency.Tamil Nadu old-timers remember well how Karunanidhi once dealt with media criticism as CM. Mediapersons in the state would often be woken up at 8 am by the then CM, either calling in to appreciate a report or expressing his disapproval.If nothing else, it kept dialogue between two crucial pillars of the State going.
A day after he was disqualified as a Member of Parliament due to his conviction in a defamation case, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that he was not afraid and would continue to raise questions about the links between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and businessman Gautam Adani.Addressing a press conference, Rahul said: “I have been disqualified because PM Modi is scared about my next speech about Adani and I have seen it in his eyes.” The Congress leader said that the “whole game of disqualification” was meant to “distract” people from the Adani issue.He criticised the Centre for allegedly backing the businessman. “For this government, country is Adani and Adani is country,” Rahul said.The Wayanad MP’s membership of Parliament was cancelled after he was convicted to two years in jail in a defamation case over his ‘Modi surname’ remark in 2019.Stating that he was not afraid of arrest or disqualification, Rahul said: “This is the whole drama that is been orchestrated to defend the Prime Minister from the simple question- Who’s Rs 20,000 crore went to Adani’s shell companies?”“I am not interested in anything but the truth. I only speak the truth, it is my work and I will keep doing it even if I get disqualified or get arrested,” the Congress leader added. “This country has given me everything and that is why I do this.”Soon after his conviction by a Surat court, BJP leaders accused Rahul of insulting the OBC community. Rejecting these allegations, Rahul said: “I have always talked about brotherhood, this is not about OBCs.”
Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary, Congress MLA from Phillaur, alleged Friday that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government was re-releasing the same grant for the establishment of a Guru Ravidass Bani Adhyayan Centre at Dera Sachkhand Ballan which was released by the previous Congress party government.He was speaking ahead of the visit by Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal to Jalandhar on Saturday. Chaudhary alleged that the AAP is involved in the manipulation of funds already released by the Congress government.Addressing media at the Press Club in Jalandhar accompanied by district Congress (urban) president Rajinder Beri, former Kartarpur MLA Chaudhary Surinder Singh and Nakodar constituency in-charge Dr Navjot Dahiya, he showed government notifications and correspondence about the grant and said the previous government had announced a grant of Rs 50 crore for establishing a state-of-the-art Guru Ravidass Bani Adhyayan Centre at Dera Sachkhand Ballan. It had also released a cheque for Rs 25 crore in the first instalment. However, he alleged that the AAP government, in an attempt to take undue credit after coming to power, first stopped the release of the fund before sanctioning the same amount for the project to claim all the credit.Several posters crediting the AAP for the release of the amount have been put up in Jalandhar ahead of the AAP leaders’ visit. The MLA said the focus of the government was only on claiming credit by spending lakhs on erecting hoardings all over Jalandhar. He added that it was not a government of the ‘Aam Aadmi’ as claimed but a government of ‘Ad Aadmi’ which propped itself up using advertisements.The Dera Sachkhand Ballan is the largest dera of the Ravidassia community with 20 lakh followers worldwide. Once closely connected with Sikhism, the dera severed the decades-old ties in 2010 and announced it would follow the Ravidassia religion. The Ravidassias are a Dalit community of whom the bulk — nearly 12 lakh — live in the Doaba region of Punjab.Elaborating on the sanction and release of the amount for Dera Sachkhand Ballan by the Congress government, Chaudhary stated that after the announcement of the grant, the government constituted a 10-member committee under the chairmanship of Sant Niranjan Dass Ji Maharaj on December 28, 2021. Three days later, on December 31, the planning department released Rs 25 crore to the Jalandhar deputy commissioner under the state-level Punjab Nirman programme. Since only those registered societies and charitable trusts which had been registered at least three years ago were eligible for the grant and the maximum grant-in-aid allowed on a one-time basis was only Rs 10 lakh, a special sanction was necessary from the Punjab Cabinet. On January 5, 2022, the Cabinet gave its approval.However, the MLA said, on March 30, 2022, the newly elected AAP government recalled the grant and ordered that the amount be given back to the government by the next day along with the interest accrued. Only to re-release it later after almost one year. Chaudhary said that even if the AAP wanted to just re-release the grant, the least they could have done was to give a cheque for Rs 50 crore.Chaudhary stated that if there was no bypoll in Jalandhar, AAP leaders would not have cared to visit Dera Sachkhand Ballan, let alone release a grant.The bypoll in Jalandhar was necessitated after the sitting Congress MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh passed away due to cardiac arrest while participating in the regional leg of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. It has thus become a prestige battle for the Congress, which is looking to capitalise on the “sympathy factor” due to Singh’s demise.
The political import of Rahul Gandhi’s two-year conviction in a defamation case is not merely for Rahul himself. The story of his disqualification from Parliament is about the further shrinking of the the Opposition space — and, ironically, under “due process” of law.In the run-up to the 2019 elections, Rahul had said, “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi…how come they all have Modi as common surname. How come all the thieves have Modi as a common surname?”The BJP says Rahul needs to be punished for his tendency to get carried away and that the law must follow its course. Rahul has gone over the top in his political formulations on more than one occasion rather than make nuanced observations.Yet, the fact is that a lot is said in poll heat. A maximum punishment of two years that disqualifies an MP has huge political consequences in a democratic set-up. Especially in a cacophonous democracy like ours, where politicians get carried away during an election campaign.And if individuals and parties take legal recourse in every instance, there will be no end to those who get disqualified from the legislature to which they were elected by the people of India.The disqualification is a setback to Rahul and the Congress party but, even more important, it is a message to all Opposition leaders to carefully vet their words before speaking – or some judge in some part of India can take note and can end their membership of Parliament or Assembly.As it is, worryingly, FIRs have recently been lodged against two printers in Delhi for printing anti-Modi posters with the tagline, “Modi hatao, desh bachao”. Could the Surat verdict now send its own message to printers in small town, and big town, India: “Opposition ka poster mat chhapo” or else there will be trouble.It is unclear what political advantage accrues to the BJP from Rahul’s disqualification in the last year before general elections. Even though his Bharat Jodo Yatra had traction, it’s not as if he was set to dethrone Narendra Modi in 2024, who, as things stand, seems set to come back.Rahul is no VP Singh who dethroned his father Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 to replace him as PM.The disqualification of Rahul — unless the Surat verdict and the sentence get stayed or reduced —could paradoxically make it easier for the Opposition parties to make common cause. Some, who are not dependent on the Congress to run their governments in the states, like Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP, or K Chandrashekhar Rao’s BRS, have chafed against working under the leadership of the Gandhis.It used to be said that the only way the impasse within the Opposition to dissolve was for Rahul to take a back seat. This has now happened.Within hours of Rahul’s conviction, Arvind Kejriwal was the first to lend his support to a beleaguered Rahul. This signals a break from the past; for there has been no love lost between the Congress and AAP which has grown at the Congress’s expense in both Delhi and Punjab. The Congress had not come to Manish Sisodia’s rescue when he was arrested in the excise scam and is in jail.Other Opposition leaders have followed Kejriwal in supporting Rahul. Among them is Akhilesh Yadav who had only the other day threatened that this time in 2024 the Samajawadi party would field candidates against the Congress in Amethi and Rae Bareilly, two Nehru-Gandhi family fiefdoms. How does Opposition politics pan out in the absence of Rahul in the lead role, will evolve in the weeks to come.Besides being targeted by the ED and the CBI, Opposition leaders are now a worried lot for another reason. They are asking if they are being jailed and disqualified in BJP’s second term, what will happen to them in its third term in office?Can the Surat judgement create a sense of sympathy for Rahul? His disqualification comes on the heels of a relentless demand by BJP leaders that he be disqualified—unless he apologises for his UK remarks about the undoing of democracy in India. Though it is early days, the more relevant question is this: even if sympathy is generated for Rahul, does the Congress have the will and the wherewithal to take advantage of it?Indira Gandhi, Rahul’s grandmother had also been disqualified from Parliament in December 1978 for breach of privilege. Her MPship was undone within a month of her being elected to the Lok Sabha from Chikamagalur in a bypoll. Her six-day jail term marked her political turnaround, and she said later that when the sentries in Tihar jail started to salute her, she realised the mood in the country was undergoing a change.Can Rahul do a 1978 in 2023?That’s a very tall order. In 1978, within hours of Indira’s arrest, lakhs had come out on the streets and courted arrest. A pan-Indian party like the Congress should have been able to mobilise protests against the Surat judgement against Rahul. “But,” as a Congress leader lamented, “it has become a party on Twitter.”Congressmen are also questioning why the party did not approach the Supreme Court the moment Rahul’s conviction came. After all, within two hours, Pawan Khera got relief from the Supreme Court. In 1978, the Government, led by Morarji Desai was a weak and a faction-ridden entity; in 2023 the Modi government is a monolith.Nor is the Congress the same as it was in 1978. Nor is the rest of the Opposition the united entity it had become in 1977 sinking their differences to oust Indira Gandhi of the Emergency years. Nor for that matter is the Indian voter what she was. And yet political parties should not forget that history shows the worm can turn — and what bestirs it is arrogance of power.(Neerja Chowdhury, Contributing Editor, The Indian Express, has covered the last 10 Lok Sabha elections)
Rahul Gandhi continues to be at the centre of political news and debates. After the unstoppable flow of negative commentary, there is now a discussion of Rahul Gandhi, rather than “Pappu”. In part, he has earned this new place in the political arena through the Bharat Jodo Yatra and his relentless attack on the character of the regime and its ideological brotherhood. In part, however, the role is being thrust on him by his detractors. His survival in the din of media cacophony owes much to the smart-looking but spiteful analyses by BJP leaders and spokespersons and distasteful campaigns in social media upheld by the so-called educated middle classes.More recently, the BJP made it a point to bring Rahul to centrestage by raising the issue of his speeches and interactions during his UK visit. The purpose was, of course, to avoid discussion on the Adani issue where the BJP is on the backfoot. But the side effect of that too-clever-by-half tactic was to keep Rahul in the public eye and allow him to both claim victimhood and also reiterate his comments made in the UK. This was a repeat of what the BJP did a little earlier, when it chose to get his comments during the speech on the President’s address expunged. So, on the heels of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul remained in the news and got an opportunity to present himself against the current regime. That he has failed to cultivate a clear, pro-poor constituency or to take up concrete issues like unemployment to mobilise the public remains his and his party’s major limitation.Now the ruling of the Surat court in the criminal defamation case and his disqualification as an MP, has again ensured that he will be the topic of discussion both among detractors and supporters. Whether he chooses to find legal loopholes or uses the opportunity to take the moral high ground, for the coming weeks, Rahul will continue to be the political hot topic. For once, his party would be wanting to deflect attention away from him and back on the Adani issue!But let us not worry much about the future course of Rahul Gandhi as a person. The question that should make us curious is not Rahul’s personal political trajectory; it is why the BJP finds it necessary to singularly focus on him (besides the earlier vile attacks on Sonia Gandhi). A simple answer, of course, is that Rahul being the de facto “face” of the Congress party, maligning him can lead to demoralising of the ordinary Congress workers. A related reason could be to show non-BJP voters the futility of investing their political hopes in a bankrupt leader and party. Thirdly, ridicule of Rahul is also directed against the possible efforts towards a loose understanding among the Opposition because the more Rahul is criticised, the more steadfast the Congress becomes in projecting Rahul as an alternative to Modi.But beyond these tactical factors there are two interrelated substantive factors why the BJP loves to hate Rahul so much. They are less related to Rahul the person, and more about the century-old concerns of the Hindutva project.Even before his Bharat Jodo Yatra, but more emphatically through the Yatra, Rahul has come to represent a sane view of Indian society and its ills. It is irrelevant whether he has a cogent policy response ready with him for addressing these ills. But he sought to appeal to the collective conscience of citizens — a conscience that has been shadowed by the assault of propaganda over the past decade. The citizens are dazed and dazzled by the darkness ushered in by the regime. Rahul’s Yatra was an experiment to stir that conscience, not by showing the light but by underscoring the darkness. As this writer has argued previously, that was not a grand success. But darkness does not like, nor tolerate, even the possibility of any light. That is why the Yatra angered the ruling party and its supporters. Rahul’s Yatra showed the possibility of a collective conscience willing to be awakened.But of course, this is only the more immediate factor. It does not fully explain the BJP’s obsession with Rahul. The second reason for this obsession, though connected to the point about collective conscience, goes much beyond Rahul (or Sonia) Gandhi. It is about the foundation of India’s nation-state made of diversity and democracy. In ideological circles it is almost mandatory to overplay the differences among Gandhi and Nehru, Gandhi and Ambedkar, Nehru and Patel and so on. What these rival camps of devoted and honest followers of each of these and many other stalwarts of the founding of the Indian nation-state ignore is the larger ethos they all shared. That ethos is constitutive of the Constitution.But equally, that ethos sought to uphold a homegrown, modern variant of Indian civilisation. The diversity India cherished in the mid-20th century was not something borrowed from the west, but was built on Indian history and practices. The democracy that India adopted in the mid-20th century deftly combined and integrated modern principles of political equality and India’s own practice of handling dissent.Since the last one hundred years, then, a battle is on: On the one hand, there are efforts to arrive at an Indian version of the nation-state based on the Constitution and on the other hand, efforts to transform India into an un-Indian nation by purging the Indian characteristics of diversity and adopting those (that the west has by now rejected) which insist on ethnic/communal uniformity. While the current regime strives to bring in the latter imagination, it posits onto Rahul and the Congress the former vision. This explains the irrepressible hatred of Nehru who happened to represent and guard the former imagination.After 10 years in power, the BJP has done everything to change the mindset of India. It is still not sure if that change will remain in the face of more systematic ideological opposition and particularly in the absence of state power. Rahul — by design or by accident — represents a challenge to both its ideological position and its brazen exercise of state power. This has put the BJP in a bind. To ignore Rahul would mean conceding space to him and to a counter-ideology. The BJP is averse to that co-existence of differences. But to continue to target Rahul can only lead to expanding the space he can occupy. By ignoring him, the BJP risks the reconfiguration of collective conscience of India and by suppressing him, it risks the stirring of precisely that collective conscience. Either way, it faces a “pappu aa gaya centrestage” moment.The writer, based at Pune, taught Political Science and is chief editor of Studies in Indian Politics
One of the core principles of the Indian Constitution is rule of law, which means that everyone must be treated equally in the eyes of law. Contrary to this principle, there was a deep sense of feudal entitlement in the ruling establishment decades after we won independence and became a republic. Officially, authority was derived from the mandate of the public and not a select few. However, doles in the form of civilian honours and Upper House nominations were offered to perpetuate the dominance of one family. The state of affairs has undergone a massive transformation in the last eight years under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The conviction of Rahul Gandhi on March 23, followed by his disqualification from Parliament today, is an affirmation of the promise and foresight of the makers of our Constitution. You break the law, you face the music. After Rahul Gandhi made derogatory comments about a specific community, a case was filed against him in Surat. The fundamental trait of a leader is empathy towards his people and mockery of a community is neither warranted nor desirable from someone aspiring to be a national leader. The comments that were made about the first-ever tribal woman president of the country reflect a similar condescension, which has become an institutional character of the Congress party.That aside, the statements by the Congress leadership following the Surat court’s verdict smack of an outlook that puts one family above the law. The Indian National Congress as an institution often claims a substantial stake in the historical legacy of the struggle for freedom. Freedom for whom, is the question that arises now. One family. This has become an oft-repeated script. They will protest if they are being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in a case that involves corruption. They will issue statements against the judicial process and raise questions about the integrity of the entire institution. They have even put a constitutional body like the Election Commission of India in a spot by issuing statements undermining the organisation. Rahul Gandhi has become a habitual offender — even after the court reprimand and the subsequent apology in the Rafale case, he simply refuses to learn from his mistakes. First it was “chowkidar” and now it is Modi.Democracy is not an abstract idea — it is run by institutions. Institutions need autonomy and the right environment to operate efficiently and in a non-partisan manner. On the one hand, the leader of the Congress goes to a foreign land and complains about the democratic ethos in India and on the other, he is gradually becoming a flag bearer of institutional erosion of constitutional values. The recent campaign of the Congress-led Opposition in maligning agencies like the CBI and Enforcement Directorate is yet another example of this trend. The ED as an institution has done great service by attacking the financial architecture of terror organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammed and is also playing an instrumental role in the NPA crisis by recapitalising the banks that were defrauded by the likes of Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. Similarly, the CBI is only pursuing cases against leaders from regional political parties, like the disproportionate assets case, the fodder scam case etc., that were initiated during the UPA era.What Congress is doing is nothing but obstruction of justice. There is absolutely no need for fear if you have not done anything unlawful and are confident that you can deal with it. The constant vilification of institutions will not go down well in history. As political activists, we do claim to have our finger on the pulse of the public but the people of India are more intelligent than the collective political class can imagine. They are not just mute spectators but are active observers — they punished Congress in 2014 and 2019. By indulging in theatrics against the Constitution and its institutions, the party is preparing for another self-goal and a further dilution of the faith of the public.The writer is national spokesperson, BJP
Rahul Gandhi was convicted in a criminal defamation case and subsequently disqualified as MPNew Delhi: Union minister Bhupender Yadav today hit out at the Congress for raising questions on a Gujarat court order convicting Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case, asking if they consider themselves above the law of the land.Mr Yadav, a prominent OBC face of BJP, noted that the court convicted Rahul Gandhi following due process of law but the Congress leader and his party are not able to accept the verdict due to their "arrogance".In the course of the trial of the 2019 defamation case in Surat, the court repeatedly gave opportunity to Mr Gandhi to understand and apologise for his remark, but he did not do so due to his arrogance, the BJP leader said."Are Congress party and Rahul Gandhi higher than the law of the country? Is it a national leader's job to abuse and insult a surname of the OBC society? the senior BJP leader asked at a press conference."I believe Congress party and Rahul Gandhi personally are guilty of hurling abuse at the entire OBC community in the country," he said, adding, "Everybody should respect the court verdict".A court in Surat on Thursday sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a case filed against him over his remark, "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname?" The court granted him bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court.The Congress said the conviction of Rahul Gandhi was "erroneous and unsustainable" and will be challenged in a higher court."We believe that if you insult a particular community in such a manner, it is not Bharat Jodo (unite India) but Bharat Todo (divide India)," the BJP leader charged.His words reflect his mindset about the OBC society and other smaller (lower caste) societies, he added.Mr Yadav also slammed Mr Gandhi for his recent remarks in the UK on democracy in India and accused him of hurling abuses and telling lies.The Congress leader has not just insulted a caste or a society with his remarks for which he has been convicted by the court, he has also "insulted" India, the Constitution of India and the democratic process in India, he charged."Rahul Gandhi keeps on abusing and lying. It has become a part of his habit. Levelling unfounded allegations against our country's parliamentary traditions, debate and discussions proves that Rahul Gandhi is habitually committing such kind of offence," he added.Replying to questions, the BJP leader said freedom of speech doesn't mean Rahul Gandhi can "abuse anyone and insult any society." "Abusing an entire society is not freedom of speech. This is a misuse of freedom of speech," he said.Mr Yadav said everyone from the OBC society has the right to live with dignity, keep his surname and do his work."Abusing a surname is certainly an insult to crores of people engaged in uplifting the society. This is what Rahul Gandhi has done," he added.The minister held opposition parties, "mainly Congress", responsible for the logjam in Parliament and the passage of the Union Budget without any discussion."They come to attend the business advisory committee meeting but do not follow its decision," he charged."Storming the well, sloganeering in the House and showing placards is an insult to Parliament… Those insulting the Parliament are raising questions on its functioning going abroad. There is a clear difference in what they say and do," the minister added.On AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal coming out in support of Rahul Gandhi, Mr Yadav said political leaders need to understand that no one has the right to insult any OBC community."Leaders should have control over their language. We should use all opportunities for healthy political discussions," he added.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"There are legal processes and unbiased institutions to decide on it. I don't want to comment on this," he said. (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
A total of 26 instances of printing counterfeit currency notes were detected in Gujarat during the last two years, the state government informed the legislature Friday.Of the total instances, 17 happened in 2022, the government stated in a written response to a question by Congress MLA Anantkumar Patel. During this two-year period, a total of 17,271 counterfeit currency notes were seized, which includes 14,165 notes in 2022.The government said it caught 90 suspects in connection with these seizures, while five others are yet to be caught.