More than 600 workers of the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) from Dahod, Narmada, Chhota Udepur and Vadodara districts joined the BJP Tuesday at Gandhinagar in the presence of Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil.Dahod, which saw over 400 workers from the Congress and a few from AAP and BTP, also had eight councillors from the Jhalod Municipality, including President Sonal Dindor from the Congress, jump over to the BJP.The others include Dala Vasaiya, Khuman Mansinh Damor, Parsinh Damor and independent councillors Bhavesh Katara, Sukhram Milwad, Zakir Kanuga and Shankar Katara, among others. Dindor and Vasaiya were among the Congress councillors who had, in August 2020, voted in favour of the BJP in the election to Jhalod Municipality’s Presidential post, thus causing a furore. Soon, as Jhalod BJP President Hiren Patel was killed in an alleged case of contract killing, Dindor and Vasaiya submitted a memorandum to the district police citing ” threat to life”.A senior BJP leader said, “The party has welcomed strong workers to the fold… This is not just in preparation for the upcoming Assembly polls but also because it allows the BJP to strengthen its ground in these tribal districts, especially Narmada, Dahod and Chhota Udepur, where the Congress has traditionally been on a strong foot. Although the 2021 local body polls were in favour of the BJP in the districts, it will bring a major impact in the Assembly elections to have these strong leaders into the fold.”Additionally, Dahod Taluka Congress president Suresh Baka-liya as well as former General Secr-etary of Youth Congress Nikunj Meda and Vice-President of Dahod district Congress Mitesh Yadav joined the BJP. Valsinh Munia, son of former Congress MLA Virji Munia, along with Sanjeli Sarpanch Mavji Rawat , Singwad taluka Congress member Dipak Parmar and Veena Bhuriya from Garbada also joined the BJP.AAP leader Dhavalsinh Bhuriya as well as BTP President of Dahod Ajay Katara along with leader Nilesh Bamaniya joined the BJP. Nazimuddin Gangardiwala of the Congress city unit also joined the BJP. He even replaced his skull cap with the new saffron topi of the party at the event. Another leader, Sabur Sultan Tadvi, also joined the BJP.In Chhota Udepur, district Congress President Umesh Shah, along with his brother and President of Chhota Udepur Traders’ association, Dipesh Shah, joined the BJP. Former Congress district president Yashpal Rathwa, also the director of APMC, also joined the BJP. From Vadodara, former MS University senate member and trader Bipin Patel, Hitendra Gohil, Sandeep Bhagat, Wasim Malik (Sarpanch of Kia), Indravadan Bhagat and Sudha Patel from Kandari joined the BJP.Membership songGujarat BJP Tuesday launched a song prepared for its membership enrolment drive. The Gujarati song hails the party and its current top leadership.
Ahead of the Assembly polls in the state scheduled later this year, a meet was held between Gujarat Congress leaders and senior party officials in New Delhi on Monday.According to party officials, senior party leaders from state including Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Jagdish Thakor, Gujarat incharge Raghu Sharma, Leader of Opposition Sukhram Rathva, senior leaders Arjun Modhwadia, Deepak Babaria and spokesperson Manish Doshi were summoned to party headquarters in New Delhi.“An important meet in context of the coming elections began on Monday evening with senior party leaders such as All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi, KC Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Mukul Wasnik, Randeep Singh Surejwala and Jairam Ramesh,” said a senior official of Gujarat Congress.
On Sunday, as office-bearers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took oath in Ahmedabad, national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched an attack on the Congress, calling it “a party only on paper” and urging AAP workers to ensure that “not a single vote is cast for it” in the state.The statement indicated that AAP, which had contested 29 seats in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections and lost deposits in all, has identified the Congress as its main opponent. And that as the first step in a state ruled by the BJP now for 27 years, is seeking to replace the Congress as the main Opposition.The BJP too seems to be recalibrating its political messaging, ahead of the approaching elections. Its attacks are now increasingly directed at the Congress in a bid to downplay the challenge from AAP – a party that has been causing the BJP some heartburn in several parts of the country.The two-day visit that concluded on Monday was Kejriwal’s fifth in two months to Gujarat, as part of its push in the state, which includes a membership drive, overhaul of the organisation, building of a cadre base, and appointment of Rajya Sabha MP and key strategist Sandeep Pathak as the state in-charge. Sunday’s speech indicated that while AAP’s social media campaign might be aimed at the BJP, it would refocus its energy on the Congress.Addressing some 7,000 new office-bearers, Kerjiwal asked them to conduct door-to-door campaigns, and educate voters on the “free electricity” and “free education” model of AAP in Delhi and Punjab. “We have to tell the people that there is no use voting for the Congress. Last time, they voted for the Congress, and today see how many Congress MLAs have left their own party… They should not waste their votes. The office-bearers of AAP must ensure that not a single vote is cast in favour of the Congress this Assembly election,” said Kejriwal.HISTORIC MOMENT IN GUJARAT POLITICS‼️A Record 6988 office bearers of AAP were administered the oath to serve the people honestly by AAP National Convenor @ArvindKejriwal.This is the beginning of “Change” in Gujarat!🔥#AAPGujaratShapathGrahan pic.twitter.com/95WGX4fZpa— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) July 3, 2022He said that people voted for the Congress as they did not have an alternative in the state if they were angry with the BJP. “On voting day, they see the option of the Congress and are forced to vote for the BJP. The votes of all such people should come to us. If we ensure this, then I say with conviction that the next government is ours,” Kejriwal said.After putting up its best result in 25 years in Gujarat, winning 77 of 182 seats in the Assembly elections of 2017 – wresting 36 of these from the BJP – the Congress has lost as many as 29 MLAs, with the last as recently as May, with most of them defecting to the BJP. Its tally in the House now is 64. Among those to leave was working president Hardik Patel, while its other hope, philanthropist-industrialist Patidar leader Naresh Patel, eventually decided to “not join politics”.The BJP has been wary of AAP since it struck rich in last year’s municipal corporation elections in Surat, the bastion of Gujarat BJP chief C R Paatil, winning 27 seats (all earlier held by the Congress). Last week, the BJP responded in kind to a Delhi team visiting Gujarat schools, by sending one of its own to the Capital, in a bid to bust one of AAP government’s showpiece initiatives.As part of its Assembly poll plan, AAP is expected to zero in first on the 36 Assembly constituencies it took from the BJP in 2017.Speaking to The Indian Express, AAP Gujarat president Gopal Italia said that “the Congress doesn’t have any strongholds in any of the belts of Gujarat”. “We have always maintained that the BJP and Congress behave like the A team and B team of one party… When there are only two runners in a race, then it’s obvious that one of them will come second. But we have come to change that scenario.”Admitting a decision to direct their attention to the Congress, Italia said: “Arvind Kejriwal noticed that the Congress is not doing anything on the ground in Gujarat so he asked karyakartas to target anti-BJP voters. We will tell people who have anger against the BJP that this time they are not helpless as AAP has arrived as an alternative.”Retaliating to AAP claims, Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said it was only helping the BJP. “AAP has been unable to govern Delhi and Punjab where crime and corruption are rampant. Now as an ally of the BJP, they want to enter Gujarat targeting the Congress. But the voters are better educated about AAP and will give them a befitting reply in the elections,” Doshi said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is all set to make an entry in Madhya Pradesh in the coming local body elections and has fielded candidates in 14 of the 16 municipal corporations. It has promised the electorate free electricity and water, and corruption-free municipal corporations committed to resolving civic issues.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a road show in support of the party’s Singrauli mayoral candidate Rani Agarwal on Saturday. In his address, the AAP convener said, “We will solve all the issues of the municipality, including roads, electricity, water, and employment with the support of the people of Singrauli. Both the BJP and the Congress are peas of the same pod. They both only care about amassing wealth when in power. The AAP doesn’t believe in gobbling up funds, we put money in the common man’s pockets.”दिल्ली के मुख्यमंत्री माननीय @ArvindKejriwal जी से मुलाकात हुई। मध्यप्रदेश के निकाय चुनाव के विषय पर सकारात्मक चर्चा हुई। केंद्रीय नेतृत्व के सहयोग से हम निश्चित ही निकाय चुनाव में सकारात्मक परिणाम लाएंगे।@AamAadmiParty @AapKaGopalRai @Mukeshgoelaap @AAPMPOfficial pic.twitter.com/xQWKHk0BO6— Rani Agrawal (@AAPRaniAgrawal) May 25, 2022Referring to his government’s welfare schemes in Delhi, Kejriwal promised to replicate it in Madhya Pradesh by giving free electricity, free education, and free water, and developing the education system,“We will change Singrauli in the next five years if voted to power,” he told the voters. “If I cannot walk the talk, I won’t show my face in the next election seeking votes.”In the coming days, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, and Delhi MLA Atishi Singh are scheduled to visit Madhya Pradesh to campaign for the party’s candidates.The AAP made its debut in Madhya Pradesh in 2013 but failed to make any impact in the state’s politics. Now, looking to expand its footprint nationally — after Punjab and Goa, the party is eyeing states such as Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Assam — it has decided to enter the poll fray in Madhya Pradesh.AAP state president Pankaj Singh told The Indian Express that the party started off with two membership drives — Mission “Buniyad”, followed by Mission “Vistar” — to consolidate its presence in the state and has more than 2.5 lakh workers across the state. At present, the party claims to be in a good position in Singrauli. Its mayoral candidate Rani Agarwal grabbed attention in the 2018 Assembly polls by finishing third on the party ticket with a 21.59 per cent vote share. She was marginally behind the BJP’s Ram Lallu Vaishy who won the seat with 24.63 per cent votes while the Congress’s Renu Sahu finished second with 22.13 per cent votes.Poll promisesOn June 26, the AAP released its poll manifesto called the “Seva Vachan Patra”. Congress youth leader Akash Hunka joined the party on the occasion. “We extend a warm welcome to Hunka and his colleagues into the party. There are many leaders both from the BJP and the Congress who are keen to join the AAP as they feel frustrated in their respective parties with little scope to work for people’s welfare. If their ideology is compatible with ours, they’re most welcome,” said Pankaj Singh.The AAP state chief explained that in every ward won by the party it would ensure free water, a library, and a mohalla (neighbourhood) clinic. Singh said 22,000 education institutions were shut down in 2018 and at least 42,000 schools did not have drinking water facilities as either handpumps or taps were not functioning. He alleged that only the schools run by BJP leaders and workers were thriving in the state. The AAP leader also announced that cleaning workers on contract would be made permanent municipal employees if the AAP got elected.The local body polls are being held in the backdrop of a heated debate between the Congress and BJP over reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Along with the AAP, Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) are in the fray for seven mayoral seats, a handful of councillor posts, and one panchayat.
Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat had the task of leading the Congress into the Assembly elections this year. He lost from the Lalkuan constituency while the party’s tally slumped to 19 seats. In a wide-ranging interview, Rawat talks to The Indian Express about his party’s heavy loss, his future and that of the party, and the BJP government’s performance.Excerpts:The Pushkar Singh Dhami administration has completed 100 days and is making several claims about the work it has done. How do you rate the government’s performance?I feel that 100 days are not enough to judge a chief minister’s performance. We need at least one year and only in that much time, we can understand the direction a government is working in and what its intention is. News items have appeared that there has been corruption in giving jobs. The government itself has accepted that there is some corruption in recruitment in cooperative banks. The law-and-order situation is deteriorating. In the last 100 days, at least 10,000 youths have joined the list of the unemployed. Over 200 persons died during the Chardham Yatra. Where are the medical services? Roads are in the worst condition. There are frequent power cuts.You have been protesting against the Agnipath scheme. What is your take on it?It is a fraud against more than 50,000 youngsters who completed their medical and physical tests and were waiting for their appointment. Now you are saying that recruitment will take place afresh through the new scheme. In states like Uttarakhand and Haryana, being in the Army is a matter of great pride.When a 21-year-old will retire, what will he do? Where are the posts? In Uttarakhand, around 18,000 persons have lost their jobs since the BJP government came to power. Their chief minister is saying that they will give reservation to Agniveers in jobs. How will you give reservation beyond 50 per cent? There is no state where the reservation isn’t already close to 48-50 per cent.You have praised CM Dhami on several occasions.Yes. In fact, I am again going to appreciate him for promoting honey and bay leaf in Champawat. I have also praised him for making significant demands (seeking an extension of the GST compensation and on share on the Tehri dam) in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But there should be results too.It is good that he is trying to amend the mistake he made during the division of assets with Uttar Pradesh and said 25 per cent share of Uttar Pradesh should be given to us. I appreciate this. The demand for an extension of the GST compensation is also appreciable, and I am saying that it needs to be increased for 10 years. If the CM is making the right noise, I will stand by him. However, if his voice is not heard, I will say that the ‘double engine’ they keep talking about is a non-starter.The Supreme Court has commented on the Nupur Sharma controversy.I appreciate the Supreme Court comment and thank it. The decision has also shown a mirror to the Central government and the BJP.After your loss, we heard you saying that the Muslim University controversy was the main reason behind your defeat.First, there were some faults in decisions related to me, especially on if I should contest the elections or not. If you are saying that I need to contest, you should have let me fight from the seat I wanted. When it was mandatory that I contest, my seat should have been decided when candidates for the first 50 seats were announced. I chose a constituency from the remaining 20 seats. When I chose that seat (Ramnagar), it was changed just two days later and I was asked to go to Lalkuan. When I reached Lalkuan, the candidate there did not like it. All this damaged the party’s prospects. However, I do not blame any one person for this.Even after this, we were in a close fight. To tackle that, the Muslim University controversy was created. The entire propaganda machinery of the BJP was activated. The PM, dozens of central ministers, and several BJP CMs, all started attacking me. They started saying things like they are giving free ration, and the Congress is giving Muslim University. I even challenged BJP to show me the news article in which I announced building a Muslim University. BJP forged a paper in their social media room and spread that. The party (Congress) though we do not need to address the Muslim University allegation. This made people suspect that maybe the BJP is telling the truth.Do you think not declaring you the CM candidate was a mistake?I will not say that, but I believed that to strategically answer the BJP we needed to say that we are fighting under this person. They (BJP) always make the elections about (Narendra) Modi. Like if the Muslim University lie wasn’t propagated by Modi, it would not have worked. The lie was coined up by him, and the rest were just spreaders. People were watching Modi and felt that he is saying so maybe Harish Rawat is doing something wrong.A person (Congress leader Aqeel Ahmad) gave the memorandum (demanding a Muslim University) and someone took it. It was later leaked to the media. Harish Rawat was nowhere involved. This person (Ahmad) was here promoted to party state vice-president and also sent to campaign for my daughter (Anupama Rawat) in Haridwar Rural. All this was under a planned conspiracy to establish that the said person is close to me …The BJP planned this conspiracy against you, or did your own party do this?I do not know that, but I have decided that I will go to court against this. I have given several chances to the BJP to prove their claim. I will now ask for justice and protection.Do you agree that the Congress is going through a bad phase both at the state and nationally? Do you have a revival plan?Recently, we met in Udaipur and analysed everything in detail. On six major planks, we have taken more than 100 decisions that are to be implemented or are being implemented. We will revert to the old stand of the Congress. Our core strength is inclusiveness, nationalism, and Indianism. We are the ones who created India of the 21st century.But, our enemies have started calling us non-Indians and anti-nationals. They mislead people about our inclusiveness and called it Muslim appeasement. We thought that this misinformation will not work. But we forget that sometimes people want some spicy things too. Such spicy things were created in the RSS factory. They created a narrative and that is why a new era started on the pretext of the ‘Gujarat model’ which nobody has seen… We know that if we are on the right path and follow the right morals, that is the only answer. People changed their tastes in search of spice, but now they are getting frustrated with that too.The internal tussle in state Congress continues. Is there a plan to tackle it?My blessings are with the new leadership. As far as the tussle is considered, these kinds of things are there within any party. When four people will dig a field, the shovels will always collide.Did you ever consider leaving politics?There is a time for everything and the situation right now is not like that. If the circumstances for Congress were normal, and the party was in strength, then it would be right. Today if I leave politics, you will give just a half-page article in the newspaper. I also cannot leave Congress as it will be a crime I cannot dare commit. However, if Sonia (Gandhi) ji said ‘Harish now you are very tired’, I would leave politics immediately.
Appeasement politics practised by governments led by opposition parties has led to communalism and radicalisation in the country, said Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah on Sunday. India will move forward to become “Vishwa Guru” when the politics of appeasement, dynasty and casteism ends in the country, he said.On the concluding day of the BJP national executive meeting, Shah, who moved the political resolution setting the target for the upcoming elections, said the coming “30-40 years will be the era of the BJP”, which is focused on “politics of development and performance”.Shah began his address highlighting the recent Supreme Court verdict on Gujarat that agreed with the findings of the Special Investigation Team appointed by it that there was no “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 Gujarat riots, endorsing the clean chit to Narendra Modi, who was then the state’s chief minister, and others in cases related to the riots.“Amit Shahji has drawn the attention of the leaders to the historic judgment by the Supreme Court on Gujarat. He said whatever allegations were on the PM have been proved wrong. The judgment has exposed the conspiracies of ideological-oriented mediapersons and NGOs. Throughout the years he (Modi) has maintained silence, like Lord Neelkantha (Lord Shiva)…, he too swallowed poison and kept it in his throat,” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, briefing the media about the political resolution. “The Home Minister said he (Modi) did not make a political drama like a certain leader did when he was called for questioning by an investigation agency.”Both Sarma and Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai seconded the resolution. While Sharma referred to the BJP’s achievements and focus on the Northeast, Bommai elaborated on the political developments in the southern states.“He spoke about the rising fundamentalists and their organisation. Congress does caste politics and for them there is jaati within jaati. But the BJP will soon have a breakthrough in the south. Next growth area of the BJP will come from the south,” Sarma said, adding that the BJP will come to power in the southern states, including in Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, as well as in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha.Quoting Shah, Sarma said the Union Home Minister referred to the Northeast region and how Modi has initiated developments there. Asked about the delay in signing of the Naga peace accord, Sarma said: “By 2024, there will be no fault line. All issues will be resolved.”In his address, Shah said the Congress has “Modi phobia” and is opposed to everything – surgical strike, triple talaq, Yoga Day, Ram Mandir and even the Covid vaccination. “They opposed every policy that were initiated by this government for the poor,” Sarma said.“The Congress is a party of a family. There were demands for internal elections but they are not doing it,” Sarma said, adding that the BJP “considers politics as a way to serve people”.Asked if the political resolution discussions referred to suspended party spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments on the Prophet and the violent protests against it or the Udaipur and Amaravati killings, Sarma said Shah reiterated that violence in politics should not be there and that he “spoke about fundamentalism and appeasement”.Shah lauded Prime Minister Modi for choosing a Dalit as the President in 2017 and a tribal woman candidate for the July 18 presidential election. Shah also referred to the Agnipath recruitment scheme, appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, banning the import of 340 defence items and abrogation of 370 among others as the Modi government’s achievements.
Days after the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra comprising the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party collapsed, opposition’s presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha Sunday said he will not hesitate to restrain the Centre from destablising state governments run by Opposition parties.Sinha, who is currently touring Karnataka to seek support before the presidential polls on July 18, said, “I shall have no hesitation to restrain the central government if it in any way aids and abets outrageously undemocratic practices like ‘Operation Kamal’, which was used to destabilize Opposition-ruled governments in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra and several other states.”He said, “I have declared that I shall speak out against any attempts aimed at communal polarization of India. I have announced that I shall defend the freedom of press, freedom of speech and other rights and freedoms the Constitution grants (with reasonable restrictions) to citizens, regardless of their religion or ideology. I have also announced that I shall work for the repeal of the sedition law.”Following the Supreme Court’s remarks on former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s statements, he said, “I was very happy to see in the newspapers today a statement by NV Ramana, the Chief Justice of India, that the ‘Judiciary is answerable to the Constitution and Constitution alone.’ I fully endorse this view and congratulate CJI Ramana for this forthright affirmation. Indeed, I have been saying, since I filed my nomination papers on June 27, that the sole purpose behind my acceptance of the combined Opposition’s offer to be their candidate is to safeguard the Constitution and its lofty values, which are today under unprecedented threat.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox“In the past eight years, the ruling dispensation at the Centre has launched repeated assaults on democracy and secularism, which form the founding principles of our Republic. It has unleashed a poisonous communal propaganda to divide India’s multi-religious society. Day before yesterday, the Supreme Court made a stinging indictment of Nupur Sharma’s remarks on Prophet Mohammed, saying ‘Your loose tongue set the nation on fire.’ Regrettably, BJP supporters are trolling the Honourable Supreme Court for condemning her remarks.”He further said, “The central government has weaponized ED, CBI, Election Commission and even the Governor’s office against Opposition parties, their leaders and their governments. In Maharashtra, it toppled the coalition government of the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress by facilitating the kidnapping of Shiv Sena MLAs to Gujarat and Assam, both being BJP-ruled states. The Centre has no respect for the federal structure of the Constitution. It is constantly encroaching upon the powers of states.”In Karnataka, the government has been attempting to communalise the minds of the young generation by introducing a new school curriculum coloured by the ruling party’s ideological agenda, he added.
Addressing the national executive meeting of the BJP in Hyderabad, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday that it will be the era of the BJP for the next 30 to 40 years and India will become Vishwa guru within the next few decades.Praising Supreme Court’s order on the 2002 Gujarat riots, which gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others, Shah said, the order was historic. He further added that Modi kept faith in the constitution and faced the SIT, which was formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the case.Shah referred to the protests against Rahul Gandhi being summoned by the Enforcement Directorate with the Gujarat riots case and said that the Opposition was spreading anarchy when they face corruption charges.Calling the Opposition disjointed, Shah said that the Congress was fighting for democracy within their own party. He further added that Congress had become a family party and a new president wasn’t being elected because Gandhis fear the loss of control over the party.Shah also claimed that BJP will end “family rule” in Telangana and West Bengal in the upcoming elections.
The opposition candidate for the presidential polls, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, Sunday said that the BJP government in Karnataka was attempting to communalize school curriculum in the state.Sinha, who was in Bengaluru to meet Congress MLAs to canvas support for the presidential polls on July 17, said the government in Karnataka is “attempting to communalize the minds of the young generation by introducing a new school curriculum coloured by the ruling party’s ideological agenda.’’The presidential candidate for the opposition also welcomed the statement of the Chief Justice of India that the judiciary is answerable only to the Constitution.“Indeed, I have been saying, since I filed my nomination papers on June 27, that the sole purpose behind my acceptance of the combined Opposition’s offer to be their candidate is to safeguard the Constitution and its lofty values, which are today under unprecedented threat,” Sinha said.The former Union minister said he had great regard for BJP presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu, a tribal leader, but added that the saffron party candidate must vouch to stand up for constitutional values and not remain a rubber stamp president.“In the past eight years, the ruling dispensation at the Centre has launched repeated assaults on democracy and secularism, which form the founding principles of our Republic. It has unleashed a poisonous communal propaganda to divide India’s multi-religious society,’’ he said.“Day before yesterday, the Supreme Court made a stinging indictment of Nupur Sharma’s remarks on Prophet Mohammed, saying ‘Your loose tongue set the nation on fire.’ Regrettably, BJP supporters are trolling the Honorable Supreme Court for condemning her remarks,’’ Sinha added.“The central government has weaponized the ED, CBI, Election Commission and even the Governor’s office against Opposition parties, their leaders and their governments. In Maharashtra, it toppled the coalition government of the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress by facilitating the kidnapping of Shiv Sena MLAs to Gujarat and Assam, both being BJP-ruled states. The Centre has no respect for the federal structure of the Constitution. It is constantly encroaching upon the powers of states,’’ Sinha said.The opposition candidate for the presidential polls held a meeting with Congress MLAs chaired by the leader of the Congress in the state legislature and former chief minister Siddaramaiah. The Congress in Karnataka has five Rajya Sabha members, one Lok Sabha member and 69 MLAs who can vote in the presidential polls.The other opposition party in Karnataka, the Janata Dal (Secular), has announced intent to support the candidature of BJP nominee Droupadi Murmu. The JD(S) has a seat each in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha and 32 MLAs in the Karnataka legislature.
Expressing concern over the current state of the judiciary, Rajya Sabha MP and senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Sunday said some members of the institution have “let us down” and “I hang my head in shame” for what has happened in the recent past.In an interview with PTI, Sibal also said that in recent years, free speech, and how it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court, unfortunately, is not allowed the space that is constitutionally permissible to it.Attacking the BJP-led government at the Centre, he said there is a “de facto emergency” in place with “throttling” of institutions. The rule of law is “infringed” on a daily basis, he alleged.Sibal also said the present dispensation wants an ‘Opposition-mukt Bharat’ not just a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’.Asked about the arrest of Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair, Sibal said that the more worrying larger issue was that some members of the judiciary have “let us down”.“Some members of the institution (judiciary) of which I have been a part for 50 years, have let us down. I hang my head in shame that this has happened. When the judiciary turns a blind eye to ex facie violations of the rule of law one wonders why an institution designed to protect the rule of law allows the rule of law to be infringed with open eyes,” Sibal told PTI over phone from the UK.Talking about the arrest of Zubair and the denial of bail to him by a Delhi court, he said that for a tweet four years ago without any communal outcome, it is “unthinkable” for that person to have been arrested.“More than that, now having realised that the arrest cannot possibly be sustained, the investigating agency is looking for other matters which have nothing to do with the original arrest. Clearly what we are witnessing is a mala fide arrest and a subsequent fishing inquiry,” Sibal said.What the investigating agencies now do is to arrest a person, then start investigating as to what he might have violated. For that they seek access to other records and then come back to court to allege commission of other offences in an attempt to deny bail to the accused, he charged.Asked about the criticism from certain quarters of the Supreme Court ruling in the Zakia Jafri case in which the top court upheld the SIT’s clean chit to the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in the 2002 communal riots, Sibal said since he was a lawyer for Jafri it was not proper for him to comment at this stage.“But I can say this to you that we have seen in the recent past, judges rendering findings on matters that were not argued before them, judges rendering findings in matters which are not appealed against and some judges disregarding patent illegalities and upholding executive actions that are indefensible,” Sibal said.“I don’t want to make a comment on any particular case but as I said having been a part of this institution, for what has happened in the recent past, I hang my head in shame,” he said.On the UN Human Rights office expressing concern over the arrest of Zubair and activist-lawyer Teesta Setalvad, Sibal said “undoubtedly” India’s image was being affected internationally but asserted that people must rely on courts in India to protect human rights.“Our people in the profession, people who are part of the institution, including judges who are wedded to the rule of law, it is time for all of us to speak frankly, openly and without fear about the state of affairs prevailing today,” he said.Referring to Nupur Sharma’s controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad, Sibal said this is the result of the culture of intolerance and hatred that has crept into our national discourse.“All this is happening, why, because hate has become an instrument for electoral gain. If hate becomes part of a political strategy to divide society to win elections then you will have many such instances including the one that just happened in Udaipur where a tailor was beheaded. These unacceptable inhuman and ghastly acts are the result of an agenda which targets communities; an agenda which divides rather than unites,” he said.On the BJP’s recent critical comments on the Emergency imposed in 1975 by the then Indira Gandhi government, Sibal said Emergency was declared by virtue of powers that were provided for in the Constitution.“That particular act of declaration of emergency was unfortunately held to be valid by the Supreme Court. This only shows that courts are not infallible. We would like to forget that ‘black day’ when that judgement was rendered,” said the former Union minister, who recently quit the Congress.Sibal said today the situation is much worse because, without the authority of law, there is a “de facto emergency”.“What we are witnessing is the de facto throttling of all institutions which are designed under the Constitution to protect it. With the executive capturing almost all such institutions what prevails is a de facto emergency wherein the rule of law is infringed on a daily basis,” he said.Sibal, who is set to start a fresh term after being elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh as an Independent with the support of the Samajwadi Party, asserted that the opposition has no choice but to stand united.“You are seeing that playing out ever since a duly elected government was toppled in Uttarakhand. Thereafter, we saw it toppled in Arunachal Pradesh, absent majority was installed in Goa and Manipur, again governments toppled in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and now Maharashtra,” he said.Elected governments are being toppled by subverting electoral verdicts and by the misuse of the Tenth Schedule by means that are obviously foul, he said.This means that this present government doesn’t just want a “Congress-mukt Bharat but an Opposition-mukt Bharat”, Sibal asserted.
WITH THE Speaker’s election slated for Sunday after Shiv Sena announced the candidature of its MLA Rajan Salvi for the post against BJP’s Rahul Narwekar, the stage is set for the first test for the newly sworn-in Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his group of Sena rebels, and for BJP and the Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.Shinde and Fadnavis were sworn in on Thursday and the Governor has called for a special session of the assembly on Sunday and Monday for the Speaker’s election followed by a floor test. The election will mark the first battle in the House between Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena which has 16 MLAs, and Shnde-led rebel group with 39 MLAs.On Saturday, Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu issued a whip, asking all the MLAs to be present in the assembly and cast their votes in favour of Salvi.Replying to the whip issued by Prabhu, Chief Minister Shinde asserted that it does not apply to his group as they have more than two-thirds of the total 55 Sena MLAs. He said, “We will face the floor test and we will win”.Sources said a separate whip is likely to be issued by the Shinde faction for the election and the floor test.Ajay Chaudhari, Shiv Sena legislative party leader said, “We have a strategy in place but I can’t disclose it now.’’ Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said, “We will fight the Speaker’s election and we believe in the Constitution. I have heard that the Shinde faction spokesperson Deepak Kesarkar said that Uddhav Thackeray is their leader. These MLAs now must obey the whip and vote for Rajan Salvi.”Shiv Sena parliamentary party leader Vinayak Raut said, “We have issued a whip that the rebel MLAs should vote for Rajan Salvi. If they don’t, it will be an added material in our case in Supreme Court for disqualifying them.”A three-time MLA, Salvi was accompanied by Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, Sena legislature party leader Ajay Chaudhari, state NCP chief Jayant Patil, and Congress legislative party leader Balasaheb Thorat while filing his nomination for the election.Meanwhile, late Friday night, Thackeray sacked Shinde from the post of Shiv Sena leader in party organisation for indulging in “anti party activities’ ‘.“Dear Shri Shinde, You have been indulging in anti-party activities and have also voluntarily given up your membership of Shiv Sena. Therefore, in exercise of the powers vested in me as the Shiv Sena Paksha Pramukha, I remove you from the post of Shiv Sena leader in the party organisation,” the letter issued by Thackeray read.The move came after Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis took oath as CM and deputy CM respectively on Thursday. Sources in Shinde camp said that they will challenge the letter legally.Ahead of the Speaker’s election, the rebel Sena MLAs and Independent MLAs returned to Mumbai on Saturday evening after spending almost 11 days out of the state — first in Gujarat, then in Assam, and then in Goa. They arrived in Mumbai on a special flight and will be camped at a south Mumbai five-star hotel along with BJP MLAs.Addressing them, CM Shinde asserted that the whip of state legislative leader Bharat Gogawale, who is a part of his group, will be applicable to them, and not that of Shiv Sena’s which has been reduced to a minority.Security was beefed up in Mumbai and police security was deployed along the route from Mumbai airport to South Mumbai hotel to avoid any untoward incident.As the floor test is also scheduled on Monday, Shiv Sena president and former CM Uddhav Thackeray held meetings with party leaders to carve out a strategy. Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap and Congress working president Charan Singh Sapra also met Thackeray at Matorshree Saturday afternoon and all MVA leaders held a meeting in the evening.The NCP legislature party will hold a meeting on Sunday morning to decide their strategy. State NCP president Jayant Patil said, “I feel elections should not be held. All three parties gave a letter… We have a deputy Speaker, Narhari Zirwal, and he has the right to run the House… When the government has changed, Koshyari has allowed elections for a Speaker and people are watching these developments.”Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “Earlier, MVA demanded election of Speaker and it was denied by the Governor quoting law related to elections. Now, we can’t understand the reason to have elections. The Governor should not forget that he is a constitutional authority, and not a BJP worker.”
GANDHINAGAR: On a day when the annual rath yatra of Lord Jagannath was held with grandeur in Ahmedabad, Union home minister Amit Shah slammed the Congress, saying that its governments in Gujarat had clamped a ban on the annual procession thrice in the past and that the party was not capable of protecting the state's citizens. "Today, we are witnessing the 145th edition of the annual rath yatra (in Ahmedabad). During the Congress rule (prior to 1995), people used to live under fear thinking that something untoward would happen during rath yatra. Their fear was genuine because riots had happened during the rath yatra with miscreants even trying to snatch away the chariots on two occasions," Shah said at Rupal village in Gandhinagar district on Friday while launching a number of development projects. He said curfews during the rath yatra are a thing of the past as no one dares to play any mischief during the procession after BJP rode to power in Gujarat more than two decades ago. "When I was young, I had witnessed how Congress had put a ban on taking out the processions thrice, as if they are admitting that they are not capable enough to protect Lord Jagannath." Earlier in the day, Shah performed 'mangla aarti' at Lord Jagannath temple in Ahmedabad before the commencement of the yatra.
Amit Shah is scheduled to take part in the Rath Yatra celebrations.Gandhinagar: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday took a dig at Congress saying during their rule in Gujarat people used to fear riots when Rath Yatra procession was taken out."During Congress rule, when Rath Yatra was taken out, people used to fear that there'll be riots. During that time, they also tried to take the chariot. But after the people of Gujarat gave powers to BJP, no one has the power to do anything bad," said Amit Shah in Gandhinagar.He is scheduled to take part in the Rath Yatra celebrations.Home Minister Amit Shah performed 'Mangal Aarti' at Shree Jagannathji Mandir ahead of the 145th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra on Thursday.Earlier today, Amit Shah attended the inauguration event of Shree Swaminarayan University's admission block and 750-bed PSM hospital's foundation stone laying ceremony at Saij village in Gandhinagar.The Rath Yatra, also known as the Chariot Celebration of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra, is the most prominent Hindu festival in the Puri city of Odisha.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThis festival takes place every year on the second day of the Shukla Paksha in the months of June or July. This year the festival falls on July 1.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
GANDHINAGAR: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday took a dig at Congress saying during their rule in Gujarat, people used to fear riots when Rath Yatra procession used to be taken out. "During Congress rule, when Rath Yatra was taken out, people used to fear that there'll be riots. During that time, they also tried to take the chariot. But after the people of Gujarat gave power to BJP, no one has courage to do anything bad," said Amit Shah in Gandhinagar where he is taking part in the Rath Yatra celebrations. Shah performed Mangal Aarti at Shree Jagannathji temple ahead of the 145th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Earlier in the day, Shah attended the inauguration of Shree Swaminarayan University's admission block and 750-bed PSM hospital's foundation stone-laying ceremony at Saij village in Gandhinagar. The Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra is held every year on the second day of the Shukla Paksha in the months of June or July.
AHMEDABAD: As many as 25,000 security personnel will be deployed on the route of the forthcoming Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad, in which lakhs of people are likely to participate after a gap of two years without Covid-19 restrictions, officials said on Wednesday. Union home minister Amit Shah will perform the Mangla Aarti at the temple on July 1 around 4 am before the chariots of the deities roll out. In normal times, lakhs of people gather along the route of the Rath Yatra on the day of 'Ashadhi Beej' to catch a glimpse of deities and the procession, which includes decorated elephants and several tableaux. Traditionally, the procession, led by chariots, starts around 7 am on 'Ashadhi Beej' from the 400-year-old temple in the Jamalpur area of the city and returns by 8 pm after passing through the Old City, including some communally sensitive areas. "With lakhs of people from across Gujarat are expected to attend the 145th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra here on July 1, at least 25,000 security personnel will be deployed on the entire route in the city to thwart any untoward incident," officials said. Union Home Minister Amit Shah will perform the Mangla Aarti at the temple on July 1 at around 4 am, temple trustee Mahendra Jha said, adding that the 'mangla aarti' tradition has been followed for many years. Chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balbhadra and sister Subhadra will leave the temple premises around 7 am. As many as 25,000 personnel of police, reserve police and Central armed police will be deployed at strategic locations to guard the rath yatra, Gujarat Minister of State for Home, Harsh Sanghavi, said on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Sanghavi and Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil visited the Lord Jagannath temple in the Jamalpur area and participated in some rituals. "Apart from the regular constabulary, we will deploy 68 companies of the State Reserve Police (SRP) and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to maintain law and order during the rath yatra," Sanghavi told reporters. He added that technology will be used extensively for surveillance. "We will keep a watch using body-worn cameras linked to the control room and drones. The police will also install face-detection cameras to identify and nab anti-social elements roaming in the procession's route," the minister said. At least 18 elephants, 100 trucks, and (members of) 30 akhadas (local gymnasiums) will join the procession, which will cover a distance of 15 km during the day. The chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balbhadra and sister Subhadra will be pulled by the Khalasi community as per the tradition. In 2020, a symbolic rath yatra was organised on the premises of the Lord Jagannath temple, after the Gujarat High Court denied permission for the usual public procession in light of the pandemic. Last year, only three chariots and two other vehicles had covered the entire route and returned without the usual festivity, as no other vehicle, singing troupes, akhadas, elephants or decorated trucks were permitted.
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat DGP Ashish Bhatia on Monday told reporters that 24,000 police personnel will be deployed for the 145th Rath Yatra in the city, as this year’s event will be as was held before Covid. In 2020, the Rath Yatra was not held on the Gujarat high court’s directions, considering the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, a truncated Rath Yatra was held where no devotees were allowed. This year, the city and Gujarat police started preparations for the event around a month in advance. Speaking to reporters, Bhatia said CCTVs will be installed along the route of the Rath Yatra, which will be monitored from the city control room. A similar control room will be set up in Gandhinagar from where Rath Yatras held in other towns will be monitored, said Bhatia. tnn
On the occasion of the 145th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused the Opposition Congress on Friday of having failed to provide protection to the Yatra in Ahmedabad when it ruled Gujarat.“There used to be an era, during the reign of Congress (laughs) when all used to get scared by the arrival of the day of Rath Yatra (thinking) if there will be a riot, if there will be firings. And it used to happen as well. On two occasions, daring attempts were made to forcibly tow away the chariot of God,” Shah told a public gathering in Rupal village in his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency while inaugurating and laying foundation stones for developmental works worth Rs 210 crore in the region. Shah said the Rath Yatra had taken place for the past 145 years.“But after the great people of Gujarat gave the power of Gujarat in the hands of the BJP, nobody can dare do any mischief with Rath Yatra. The days of curfew are gone,” the BJP leader said, referring to the tenures of chief ministers from Narendra Modi to Bhupendrabhai Patel.“The Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath is a festival of the poor. On this day, God–after having blueberry, khichdi and moong–himself appears before those devotees who cannot visit the temple and have a glimpse of him,” he said at the start of his speech.Continuing his attack on the Congress, Shah said, “In my lifetime, during my days of youth and adolescence, the governments had banned Rath Yatra thrice. The (Congress-led) government had dared to impose a ban on carrying out God’s Rath Yatra. They used to admit they were not capable of protecting the lord of the world, (though without saying it openly). But friends, Rath Yatra used to be carried out even then without the government’s permission. And today, it is being carried out in collaboration with and the cooperation of the government.”Among the projects the Union minister laid the foundation stone for was a village beautification project for Rupal. The village has a famous temple of the goddess Vardaini, which was recently selected by the central government under the PRASAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) scheme.“Rupal has undergone many changes. I have seen the changes. But I want to assure you that when the time comes to vote for the BJP in 2024, Rupal will be so (developed) that you will not even recognise it,” Shah said.As MP from the region, Shah assured all help to develop Rupal as a centre of pilgrimage.Shah also said that out of the five Gandhinagar villages selected under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, three were in the top 10 in the country. Rupal and another village in the district, Bileshwarpura, are among the three.On the occasion, Shah also got himself weighed against silver donated by donors. The silver will be used for renovating temples in the village.
Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar will appear before a special court in Delhi on Friday in the wake of a summons issued in May this year for the appearance of the former state minister and four others named by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in a 2018 money laundering case.The ED filed a chargesheet against Shivakumar in the case on May 26 this year following which the court took cognisance of it and issued a summons for his appearance on July 1.“From the material which has come on record, statements under Section 50 of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), there is sufficient material on record to take cognisance of the offence under section 3 (offence of money laundering) read with section 4 (punishment for money laundering) of the PMLA as all the accused persons knowingly assisted pursuant to criminal conspiracy in the concealment possession of proceeds of crime i.e. unaccounted cash or in projecting it as their lawful business income,” the special court ruled on May 31.“I am also satisfied that offence under Section 3 of PMLA is made out solely on the basis of Section 120-B IPC (criminal conspiracy) being a scheduled offence and other offences of the Income Tax Act, 1961 not being scheduled offences,” the special court ruled.Karnataka Congress chief D K Shivakumar and four others – Sachin Narayan, Sunil Sharma, Anjaneya Hanumanthaiah and Rajendra N – were investigated by the ED following a preliminary complaint filed in 2018 on the basis of a 2017 income tax department investigation into the income and assets of the Congress leader.Following its investigations, the ED filed a prosecution complaint against Shivakumar on May 26 alleging that he, as a Congress minister in Karnataka, generated a huge amount of illegal wealth and that the wealth was hidden away through a “criminal conspiracy” with associates. The conspiracy involved tax evasion and storing of cash in Delhi, the ED has alleged.Unaccounted cash of Rs 8.59 crore that was found at various properties in New Delhi belonging to Shivakumar’s associates in 2017 has been linked by the ED to the money laundering conspiracy. Two of the accused, Anjaneya and Rajendra, have told the central agency that Rs 6.6 crore that was seized from a flat was brought on the orders of D K Shivakumar. It is alleged that the flat where the money was found was being used by the Congress leader and Sunil Sharma to store cash.The ED has concluded in its chargesheet that Shivakumar’s associates assisted him “in laundering unaccounted cash by providing their premises/transporting money/ projecting the tainted money as a part of their business”.Shivakumar was arrested by the ED in September 2019 in connection with the case on the basis of an income tax department investigation of his wealth, conducted between 2017 and 2018. He was released on bail in October 2019 and was appointed Karnataka Congress chief in March 2020.The filing of the chargesheet after nearly three years of investigations has come in the run-up to the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls in which Shivakumar is expected to play a central role as the state Congress chief. “There is a legal system in the country. There is the law of the land – there is justice, ethics, truth, and dharma and I have faith in these things. I know I have not done anything wrong and the state knows it and the country knows,” Shivakumar said after the ED chargesheet.“This is being done with a political agenda. During the election of Ahmed Patel (to the Rajya Sabha in August 2017) they raided my home and linked the income of some of my friends to me. I wish them all success,” the KPCC chief had said in May.The ED’s PMLA case against Shivakumar has origins in IT searches carried out between August 2, 2017 and August 5, 2017 at some 70 premises linked to the Congress leader, who was then the energy minister in the Congress government in Karnataka. The searches were carried out even as Shivakumar was protecting a flock of 42 Congress MLAs from Gujarat in a resort near Bengaluru in an attempt to help senior Gujarat Congress leader Ahmed Patel win the Rajya Sabha polls that were scheduled on August 8 amid alleged poaching attempts by the BJP.Based on the searches in 2017, the income tax department filed a complaint of tax evasion and false evidence against Shivakumar in 2018, specifically on the finding of Rs 8.59 crore in cash at four Delhi properties linked to associates.The CBI also registered a corruption case against Shivakumar following the 2017 income tax probe which alleged that the Congress leader had amassed Rs 74.93 crore of wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income during the period from April 2013 to April 2018 when he was a minister. The CBI case is still under investigation.Shivakumar reported a massive Rs 589 crore increase in his wealth (from Rs 251 crore to Rs 840 crore) over a five-year period between 2013 and 2018 in an affidavit filed at the time of his nomination for the 2018 Karnataka Assembly polls. The Congress leader has attributed the growth in his family wealth to his businesses, ranging from mining to real estate.
Rajasthan has been on edge since the gruesome killing of an Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal by two men, Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad, on June 28 for allegedly sharing remarks made by the BJP’s Nupur Sharma against the Prophet, with protests erupting in different parts of the state, forcing the Congress government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to rush to deal with the situation.The Gehlot government immediately went into overdrive in a bid to contain the incident’s fallout, putting Rajasthan on high alert, imposing prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 across the state for a month, and suspending mobile internet across the state including Jaipur. On Thursday, Gehlot made an appeal to the people of the state, through front-page advertisements in dailies as well as digitally, calling upon them to maintain peace and harmony.With a string of incidents of communal violence occurring in various districts over the last several months, leading to a sharp spurt in polarisation, Gehlot seems to be struggling to come to grips with its political ramifications, even as the next Assembly election is one-year-five months away.On April 2, communal clashes erupted in Karauli following alleged stone-pelting at a motorcycle rally passing through a Muslim-dominated area on Hindu New Year day.On May 2, a day ahead of Eid, curfew was imposed and Internet services barred in Jodhpur, Gehlot’s home turf, after communal clashes broke out following the hoisting of religious flags on the bust of a freedom fighter.Three days later, communal tension gripped Bhilwara, which led to the suspension of the internet services. On May 10 again, Bhilwara again saw a communal flare-up that was followed by another such incident in Hanumangarh the day after.To tackle the spate of communal incidents, the Rajasthan Police undertook a 15-day drive in May, cracking down on over 4,600 people in this regard.Subsequently, Rajasthan did not report any violence on June 10 on the occasion of Ram Navami, when communal incidents were reported from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Karnataka, among other states. This was ensured by the Gehlot administration by imposing prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 in over half of the state’s 33 districts, and coming up with an exhaustive order before granting permission to any procession for the day.Later, the Rajasthan Police took various other measures. For instance, it asked every police station in Jaipur North to create 24 cricket teams involving local residents for a tournament called “Hero Cup” from June 21 to July 3 with the objective to build and promote communal harmony in the belt.And then the Kanhaiya Lal killing occurred that led to a fresh war of words between the Congress and the principal Opposition BJP, with the latter accusing the ruling party of indulging in “appeasement politics”. What is more concerning for the Congress is the point that any rise in polarisation would only be an advantage for the saffron party since it would mean the consolidation of the Hindu votes in the latter’s favour.Over the decades, the BJP and the Congress have tried to woo the dominant castes in Rajasthan, which include Jats, Rajputs, Gujjars, Meenas and Brahmins, and their support to either party has been dependent on various factors, such as the prevailing political climate, reservation demands, community leaders, party leaders from the community, and even portrayal of the erstwhile rulers from the community in the movies, etc.And traditional caste rivalry between Rajputs and Jats as well as between Meenas and Gujjars is well known in the state. So between Rajputs and Jats, if a caste supports a particular political party, then the other caste supports its rival party.In fact, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) was founded following the Rajputs’ struggle with the Jats in 2006. That year, Anandpal Singh, a Ravana Rajput and then Rajasthan’s most notorious gangster, killed Jivan Ram Godara and Harphool Ram Jat in Didwana, allegedly over control of the illicit liquor business. As Jats protested, they got support from a wide spectrum of political leaders, and the police allegedly detained any Rajput man who could be linked to Anandpal. To resist their alleged “hounding”, the SRKS was founded on September 23, 2006, with 11 declared aims, including opposing political or social malice against Rajputs as well as the “misrepresentation” of their history or historical figures, and promoting Rajput unity.Political analyst Ashfaque Kayamkhani says that with increased polarisation, the distances between Hindu castes may fade and be replaced with the politics of majority versus minority with the latter as the “common enemy”.He says that the polarisation “will indeed lead to a loss for the Congress” and that “the manner in which it is painted as the party of one community, it will lead to anger in both communities towards Congress” as the party tries to do a tightrope walk and falter. And as elections draw closer, the environment will be further vitiated and polarised, which will help parties which play the communal card, he says.Sociologist Rajeev Gupta says that it is still too early to say how the polarisation will play out in the Rajasthan Assembly elections in late 2023, but “definitely the BJP will take advantage of the situation”.He says that the Congress’ internal fighting doesn’t help things either with even its leaders like Acharya Pramod Krishnam jumping into the Gehlot vs Sachin Pilot debate. “This is what democracy within the Congress is, but the party in power at the Centre says that the Congress is having internal fighting so even if they win, they will not be able to deliver,” Gupta said.Just a day ago, Union minister Anurag Thakur slammed the Gehlot government over the Udaipur case, charging that the state government remained a “mute spectator” as the Congress’ internal rivalries affected law and order in the state. In contrast, Gupta adds, there may be factionalism within the state BJP “but every faction talks about Hinduism”.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra on Tuesday demanded the withdrawal of the ‘Padma Shri’ award bestowed on social activist Teesta Setalvad, who was arrested by the Gujarat police recently in a case of fabricating evidence to frame innocent persons in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots. The Centre had in 2007 honoured Setalvad with the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards in the country to recognise people’s contribution in various spheres. Talking to reporters on Tuesday, Mishra accused the previous Congress government of giving the award to Setalvad for the appeasement of minorities. “She was a member of the ‘award vapsi’ gang (those threatening to return awards). The award should be taken back from people like Teesta Javed Setalvad, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s remarks against such people, whose conduct becomes questionable and have been arrested,” said the minister, who is also the state government’s spokesperson. The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad had on Saturday picked up Setalvad from her Mumbai home. She was later taken to Ahmedabad and handed over to the crime branch there. A court in Ahmedabad on Sunday remanded Setalvad in police custody till July 2 in the case of fabricating evidence to frame innocent persons in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots. On Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging the clean chit given by a special investigation team (SIT) to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and others in 2002 post-Godhra riots cases. Setalvad and her NGO were co-petitioner with Zakia Jafri (wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the riots) in the plea filed against Modi and others in the Supreme Court.
Centre had in 2007 honoured Teesta Setalvad with the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awardsBhopal: Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra today demanded withdrawal of the 'Padma Shri' award bestowed on social activist Teesta Setalvad, who was arrested by the Gujarat police recently in a case of fabricating evidence to frame innocent persons in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots.The Centre had in 2007 honoured Ms Setalvad with the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards in the country to recognise people's contribution in various spheres.Talking to reporters today, Mr Mishra accused the previous Congress government of giving the award to Ms Setalvad for the appeasement of minorities."She was a member of the 'award vapsi' gang (those threatening to return awards). The award should be taken back from people like Teesta Javed Setalvad, in the wake of the Supreme Court's remarks against such people, whose conduct becomes questionable and have been arrested," said the minister, who is also the state government's spokesperson.The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad had on Saturday picked up Ms Setalvad from her Mumbai home. She was later taken to Ahmedabad and handed over to the crime branch there.A court in Ahmedabad on Sunday remanded Ms Setalvad in police custody till July 2 in the case of fabricating evidence to frame innocent persons in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots.On Friday, the Supreme Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging the clean chit given by a special investigation team (SIT) to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in 2002 post-Godhra riots cases.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comMs Setalvad and her NGO were co-petitioner with Zakia Jafri (wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the riots) in the plea filed against Narendra Modi and others in the Supreme Court. (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Chief Minister of Maharashtra Wednesday, after the Supreme Court did not stay the Assembly floor test scheduled for June 30 called by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, and he faced the prospect of 40-odd of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs with the Eknath Shinde camp. The Sena’s petition seeking disqualification of 16 of the rebel MLAs remains pending.The crisis that brought down the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government has several parallels – from hung Houses to new alliances, to petitions in the Supreme Court:July 2019The 2018 state elections threw up a hung Assembly, with the BJP winning 104 seats, the Congress 80, the JD(S) 37, along with three Independents, in the 224-member House. With the BJP failing to reach the majority mark of 113, forcing BJP leader B S Yediyurappa to step down as Chief Minister within three days, the Congress and JD(S) forged an alliance with the JD(S)’s H D Kumaraswamy as CM.In July 2019, the coalition government hit shaky ground when 17 MLAs (14 from the Congress and three from the JD-S) sought to quit the Assembly, citing differences with the government and CM. The Speaker, K R Ramesh Kumar, elected on the Congress ticket, refused to accept their resignation. With the BJP seen as behind the move, the Congress and JD(S) approached the Speaker seeking that the 17 be disqualified and not allowed to contest the election during the tenure of the then Assembly.The Governor asked the Kumaraswamy government to take a floor test twice, and finally on July 23, 2019, the Congress-JD(S) Ministry fell. The Speaker went on to disqualify the MLAs, which remained away from the Congress-JD(S) reach and sequestered in hotels, and Yediyurappa returned as CM after winning a floor test in the truncated-House of 208. The BJP was able to muster support of 105 MLAs, against the Congress and JD(S)’s combined total of 99.In November 2019, on the plea of the 17 MLAs against the Speaker’s order, the Supreme Court upheld their disqualification but not the directive that they could not contest the election till 2023. In the bypolls held the next month, 11 of the 17 were re-elected to the House, on BJP tickets.October 2010The Yediyurappa-led BJP government had a slender majority – at 117, just four more than the cut off mark of 113. In October 2010, 11 of its MLAs withdrew support. The Congress and JD(S) had 101 MLAs, and posed a challenge in case of six Independents swaying their way.On October 6, the Speaker, K G Bopaiah, allied to the BJP, disqualified the rebel MLAs under the anti-defection law, just after Governor Hans Raj Bharadwaj had asked Yediyurappa to initiate a trust motion. With the rebel MLAs disqualified and the House strength down to 213, Yediyurappa won the trust vote by a voice vote and support of 106 MLAs, amid chaos.In May 2011, the Supreme Court held that some of the actions of the Speaker in disqualifying the 11 MLAs did not “meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play”. It also said Yediyurappa had ignored Constitutional norms.January 2006The 2004 Karnataka Assembly polls had thrown up a hung verdict, with the BJP winning 79 seats, the Congress 65 and the JD(S) 58. The Congress and JD(S) initially formed an alliance with Dharam Singh of the Congress as CM.In January 2006, a dissident group of 42 MLAs of the JD(S), led by Kumarswamy, withdrew support to the Congress, and allied with the BJP. Dharam Singh resigned and the Governor invited the BJP and JD(S) to form the new government.Kumaraswamy struck a deal that the two parties would hold power for 20 months each. But the coalition collapsed in October 2007, after the JD(S) reneged on transferring power to the BJP. President’s rule was imposed, and the next Assembly elections were held in May 2008.2019In March 2019, newly appointed Chief Minister Sawant urged Governor Mridula Sinha to summon the Assembly for a floor test on March 20, 2019, after sitting CM Manohar Parrikar’s death. Sawant resigned from the Speaker’s chair before he was sworn in as CM ahead of the floor test, and Michael Lobo, then Deputy Speaker, carried out the proceedings.The Congress had 14 MLAs, the BJP 12. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP) had three each. The NCP had one candidate and there were three Independents. The strength of the Goa Assembly is 40, but there were only 36 sitting MLAs at the time (Parrikar and BJP MLA Francis D’Souzaas had died and two Congress MLAs had resigned).Sawant won the floor test with the support of 20 MLAs, after the MGP and GFP MLAs as well as three Independents voted for him.Sawant consolidated his strength in July 2019, after 10 Congress MLAs and two MGP MLAs defected to the BJP.1995The BJP won 121 of 182 seats in the 1995 Assembly elections in Gujarat – its highest till then – in the backdrop of the Babri Masjid demolition and the subsequent riots. However, many MLAs were upset with Keshubhai Patel being made CM. Patel was believed to have the backing of then BJP general secretary and Gujarat in-charge Narendra Modi.While Patel was away in the US, leaving Ashok Bhatt behind as caretaker CM, Shankersinh Vaghela, then a BJP MP from Godhra, claimed the backing of 105 MLAs and launched a coup in September 1995.The MLAs were first taken to Vaghela’s village in Vasan and later to the home of a Congress leader in a village in Gandhinagar. While some of the MLAs were lured back by the BJP, Vaghela flew the remaining 55 out to Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh overnight.They only returned after senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee agreed to replace the CM. Suresh Mehta was subsequently appointed CM.But as remnants of the discontent followed the party, in 1996, during a meeting to felicitate Vajpayee, now the Prime Minister, the MLAs literally came to blows. An MLA was stripped of his dhoti and another was nearly set ablaze.The House was placed under “suspended animation”. The Governor was hospitalised at the time when Vaghela staked claim to form the government after parading 103 MLAs before him, including of the BJP, Congress and some Independents. The BJP MLAs numbered 48, more than one-third of the total, thus escaping the anti-defection law. Vaghela became CM.(with inputs from Johnson T A, Mayura Janwalkar, Leena Misra)
After months of voicing his concerns to the Congress, Hardik Patel has finally left the Grand Old Party and turned towards the BJP. In Gujarat, where political actors routinely and without any discomfort shift allegiances between the BJP and Congress, this is no great news. It is another symptom of the steady erosion of ideological cleavages as well as the hegemony of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics.Hardik Patel began his journey as a quota activist for Patels in 2015 as a young, vocal anti-BJP figure. In the Gujarat Congress, as the party’s working president, he moderated his discourse on the quota question, especially after the introduction of the 10 per cent quota for Patels under the economically weaker sections reservation in 2019, and tried to project himself as a youth icon and a kisan leader. This was an interesting proposition in a land of urban politics where the position of a kisan leader has been vacant for decades.Over the last few months, Hardik has redefined himself again — as a Hindu nationalist. He has quite enthusiastically supported the building of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, thrown his weight behind the implementation of the CAA-NRC — the amended citizenship laws that take India on the path of a de jure Hindu Rashtra — and spoken on the mistreatment of Hindus and Patel leaders at the hands of the Congress. For a man who had started his public career by praising Bal Thackeray, this new discourse marks a return to the roots.Moreover, Hardik Patel has shunned the progressive outlook regarding caste in his politics as well as his distrust of crony capitalism. He blamed the Congress for casteism in his resignation letter from the party. In his recent interviews, he has attacked the 1980s strategy of Congress — the amalgamation of Kshatriya, Harijan (Dalit), Adivasi, and Muslim (KHAM) votes under the leadership of Gujarat’s first OBC chief minister, Madhavsinh Solanki. And he praised the two major industrialists of Gujarat, Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani.Patel’s trajectory epitomises the blurring of ideological frontiers in Indian politics today and, more than that, the growing opportunism of politicians whom voters cannot now trust easily when they commit themselves to principles and great causes.While Hardik Patel’s shift to the BJP may weaken the Congress in rural Gujarat, the party’s attractiveness to Patel voters in that part of the state in 2017 did not result only — nor even mainly — from his influence. Generally seen as the party of Dalits, OBCs, tribals and Muslims since the 1980s, the Congress — which was largely built by Vallabhbhai Patel in the region — again reached out to Patels after more than 50 years. In the Saurashtra peninsula, the Congress won 2/3rds of the 48 assembly seats in 2017, almost double its tally in 2012. The party even became a spokesperson for rural Patidars in the state as 14 of its 15 Patel MLAs belonged to rural constituencies.Hardik Patel’s shift to the BJP will help the party recover in the rural part of the state – but will it be enough? Rural Patels are still at the receiving end of the economic crisis that is affecting agriculture. As we have highlighted in our writings before, including in Sharik Laliwala’s paper on BJP ministers’ social profiles in the Studies in Indian Politics, the pro-reservation call by Patels, who had opposed the granting of quota to OBCs in the 1980s, reflects the “jobless growth” trajectory of a highly urban-industrial Gujarat, along with increasing rural poverty. Daily wage rates in rural Gujarat are frozen. In terms of rural poverty, Gujarat ranked ninth out of 17 large states in India in 2011-12, a drop of four ranks from its position in 1993-94. Patels are badly divided along class lines, something that Christophe Jaffrelot and Kalaiyarasan A’s research showcases: The richest 20 per cent among Patels cornered 61.4 per cent of the community’s income in 2011-12, whereas the poorest 20 per cent got only 2.8 per cent, which means that they are increasingly lagging behind the OBCs and even Dalits.In fact, the mean income of the first quintile of Patels (Rs 6,978) was almost half the mean income of the second quintile of the SCs (Rs 11,411) in 2011-12. And the situation is worse in some parts of the state like Saurashtra, where the water from the Narmada river is yet to reach for irrigation purposes. These trends expose the futility of treating urban and rural Patels in the same way.The BJP has remained steadfastly behind urban-industrial interests, particularly amongst Patels. For instance, the present CM, Bhupendra Patel, otherwise a novice in Gujarati politics, belongs to an urban constituency, just like the party’s old Patel guard — Anandiben Patel, Nitin Patel, Kaushik Patel, Saurabh Patel, et al.The Congress may not have any Patel face left but it may continue to capitalise on the resentment of the Gujarat peasantry and rekindle its strategy by uniting those who are losing out among the villagers in the state. In parallel, the AAP offensive in Gujarat may cut into the urban vote bank of the BJP — and this is probably one of the reasons why the ruling party needed to capture a Patel rural leader even more urgently this year.The BJP now gets one. But for Hardik Patel, joining the BJP makes him lose his unique position, especially since today’s BJP does not like leaders with their own mass base. This feature can be seen in the selection of Bhupendra Patel as the CM, who was clueless about his appointment till the very last. In fact, in his cabinet, everyone is a first-time minister.(Laliwala is an independent scholar on politics and history of Gujarat; Jaffrelot is senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, and professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King’s India Institute, London)
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority on the floor of the House on Thursday.The floor test is expected to establish the veracity of rebel leader Eknath Shinde’s claim that his faction has the support of more than 50 MLAs in the House.A floor test is a legislative procedure through which an incumbent government that is suspected to have lost majority is required to prove it still retains the confidence of the House.The Chief Minister moves a motion seeking a vote of confidence, on which MLAs who are present in the House vote. If the majority of members vote in favour, the government survives; if the CM loses the vote, the government has to resign.Voting can be conducted by either a voice vote, in which MLAs respond to the motion verbally. Voting electronically involves the casting of votes by pressing a button, after which the numbers for each side are displayed on a board. In a physical division of votes, lawmakers cast votes in a ballot box, which are then counted.For more than a week, Shiv Sena rebels led by Shinde have been camping outside Maharashtra, first in Gujarat, and then in Assam. Their ranks have swollen during this period, and they have appointed their own leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party and Chief Whip.The rebels have said that they have 39 of the Shiv Sena’s 55 MLAs with them, and are the majority faction of the party. This group has said they are against the Sena’s alliance with the NCP and Congress, and would like to join hands with the BJP.On Tuesday (June 28) night, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Koshyari and requested that a floor test be held.In a letter sent to the Chief Minister on Wednesday, Governor Koshyari referred to media reports that 39 Shiv Sena MLAs had expressed a desire to exit the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.It also said that Raj Bhavan has received an email from seven Independent MLAs stating that the CM has lost the confidence of the majority in the House.Therefore, the letter says, a session of the Maharashtra Assembly will be summoned at 11 am on June 30 “with the only agenda of a trust vote against the Chief Minister”.The strength of the Legislative Assembly is 288. A Sena member passed away last month, so the effective strength now is 287. The magic number or halfway mark is, therefore, 144.With 39 Sena MLAs going across to Shinde’s camp, the number of Sena MLAs supporting Thackeray has come down from 55 to 16. The NCP has 53, and the Congress has 44. The MVA tally therefore adds up to only 113, which is 31 short of the halfway mark.There are 29 MLAs in the House who belong to smaller parties, or are Independents. About 10 among this group have pledged their support to the Shinde group, and another 10 are inclined towards the BJP.Given this situation, it seems almost impossible for the government to reach the halfway mark.What is likely to happen tomorrow and afterward?The Vidhan Bhavan secretariat will provide the logistics for the floor test. Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal will be presiding in the absence of the Speaker.Assuming Thackeray loses, he will resign, after which the Governor could invite the largest single party to form the government. The BJP has 106 MLAs, and if the Shinde group either merges with it or extends support to it, the process of government formation can begin.An open question here seems to be whether the Shinde group, even if it has escaped disqualification under the provisions of the anti-defection law by reason of being more that two-thirds of the Shiv Sena legislative party, can continue to exist as a separate group in the Assembly, or whether it has to merge with the BJP.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox
Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs from Maharashtra have contributed Rs 51 lakh for the flood relief work in Assam, where they have been camping since the last week, their spokesperson said on Wednesday.The Sena legislators, led by senior minister Eknath Shinde, have raised the banner of revolt against their party.These MLAs had first come to Guwahati on June 22 and subsequently in several batches from Gujarat’s Surat in chartered flights.Amid criticism that the Sena dissidents were staying at a luxury hotel in Guwahati even as parts of Assam were grappling with severe floods, Deepak Kesarkar, the spokesperson of the rebel MLAs told PTI, “Shinde has donated Rs 51 lakh to the Assam Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as our contribution to their ongoing rescue work. We cannot ignore the plight of people here.”Kesarkar added that with Maharashtra Governor B S Koshyari asking the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to face a floor test on Thursday, the rebel MLAs have decided to move out of Guwahati and shift to a place near Mumbai.A close aide of Shinde, however, said the group will be staying in a Goa-based hotel and reach Mumbai by 9.30 am on Thursday.Kesarkar said, “We will be staying at a place that is one-hour air distance from Mumbai so that we can comfortably reach the state capital for the floor test.The decision (of floor test) will be what we have been demanding for a long time from our leadership.”Expressing disappointment with Shiv Sena president and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, he said the party MLAs had been asking him to move away from the NCP and Congress (allies in the government), but he never listened to them.“As the majority of Shiv Sena MLAs decided to go away from these two parties, the remaining Sena legislators with him (Thackeray) will have to abide by our whip at the time of the floor test,” Kesarkar said.Thackeray can definitely issue some instructions, but when we are in the House, we are bound by the Constitution of the country, he said.Shinde said on Wednesday that he will return to Mumbai on Thursday for the floor test against the beleaguered Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena-NCP-Congress government.
WITH OPPOSITION leaders criticising the BJP over the arrests in separate cases of activist Teesta Setalvad and AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair, the ruling party hit back on Tuesday and accused the leaders of working as part of a “poisonous ecosystem” in which one offender protects another who has been caught.Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia accused the Congress of supporting and opposing judicial actions as per its convenience, and asked if the Opposition party has faith in the judiciary.Bhatia said if the protests over Zubair’s arrest are linked with similar criticism of action against Setalvad, “then it is clear that there is a poisonous ecosystem”. “The world’s strongest judicial system exists in the country, and it will do its work,” he said.Bhatia said the Gujarat Police’s move to arrest Setalvad followed strong remarks from the Supreme Court for “keeping the pot boiling” over the 2002 riots and levelling false charges against leaders and bureaucrats. Bhatia alleged that Setalvad had been acting at the behest of the Congress to end the political career of Narendra Modi, who was then the state’s chief minister.🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨“Setalvad was a small branch for fanning communal hate. But its main headquarters was in the Congress, and its president Sonia Gandhi was the CEO,” he said.Bhatia also questioned the recent protests by Congress leaders against Rahul Gandhi being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in the National Herald case. “For them, Rahul Gandhi is innocent until proven guilty. But their standard of judgement for Narendra Modi is that he is guilty even if proven innocent. This hypocrisy will not be tolerated,” he said.According to Bhatia, the law started taking its course in the last eight years and “everyone is treated equally”.Attacking Setalvad, Bhatia said she collected donations “in the name of fighting for justice” for riot victims but was interested “only in damaging Modi’s image”. He alleged several irregularities in funds collected by Setalvad’s NGO, which is facing a probe for alleged violation of FCRA guidelines.While the press conference was on the protests over the arrest of Setalvad, Bhatia also responded to questions about Zubair’s arrest and said “one cannot become a fact-checker only by proclaiming himself to be one”.He described Zubair’s past as “chequered” and accused him of posting tweets that have “hurt the religious feelings of a large section of Hindu society”.Criticising Zubair, Bhatia said that “if somebody is doing a fact-check, then he can’t be selective”. “If he posts content which suits some political party or a community, then he is not objective,” he claimed.
On September 12, 2011, when the Supreme Court had sent the complaint filed by Zakia Jafri against then chief minister Narendra Modi and 62 others back to the Metropolitan Magistrate’s court in Ahmedabad without issuing directions, Modi had tweeted “God is Great”. A few days later, on his 62nd birthday, he launched the ‘Sadbhavna’ fasts, meeting people from all faiths in different districts.As Prime Minister, Modi has chosen not to react to the verdict of a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on the same complaint, which upheld the clean chit to his administration for alleged role in “the larger conspiracy” related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.However, the BJP has been in celebratory mode. All its top leaders almost immediately issued statements welcoming the judgment, while condemning the role played by activist Teesta Setalvad, retired DGP R B Sreekumar, former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt and others in “defaming” Modi who was the then CM of Gujarat. State chief C R Paatil called Setalvad a “Congress puppet”, and accused the three of “fabricating evidence” to “frame” Modi.A day later, Union Home Minister Amit Shah gave an interview to ANI solely centred around the Gujarat riots, repeating the charges against a “triad of media, political parties and NGOs”, and suggesting even the courts had been “swayed” due to their campaign. Hours later, Setalvad and Sreekumar were arrested on charges of forgery, criminal conspiracy etc, on an FIR that extensively quoted the Supreme Court order. Bhatt, who is serving a life term in another case, was also booked on the same charges.While the BJP’s stand publicly is that the riots order won’t be made a poll issue, the party is set to celebrate it as “a moral victory”. A lawyer actively associated with the BJP, who also represented some of the accused in the 2002 riot cases, said: “As a lawyer, I knew how witnesses were being tutored and many innocent people were framed and faced jail terms. This judgment will pave the way for justice, against those who framed Modiji.”The lawyer added that the Court order as well as arrests of Setalvad and Sreekumar would also send out a message to those party supporters “falsely” accused in riot cases. “Back then, the party was unable to check their persecution,” he said.The BJP especially expects a boost for those BJP leaders closely tied to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The Godhra train burning, in which kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya as part of the campaign were killed, is seen as the trigger for the 2002 riots.For those in the Ram temple campaign, this is the second big Court endorsement after the Supreme Court in 2019 gave the go-ahead for the shrine in Ayodhya.Only one big BJP leader was convicted in the riots, who was also acquitted later. Maya Kodnani was sentenced for the Naroda Patiya violence, one of the biggest massacres of 2002, by a Supreme Court-appointed special court. Since she was acquitted by the High Court, Kodnani is again a presence at the party office at Shree Kamalam.Trial is on in only one more 2002 case under the apex court’s scrutiny, the Naroda Gam deaths. Kodnani is also on trial in this apart from Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi. In its order, the Supreme Court set aside the Tehelka sting operation that had caught Babu Bajrangi bragging about the killings.The Congress’s half-measures on the Supreme Court order – first choosing cautiousness, then speaking out after criticism – won’t help the party’s cause in a state where it is in a direct fight with the BJP.Since 2002, the Assembly elections in Gujarat have been largely polarised on communal lines, with the BJP winning one election after another. Only in 2017 did the Congress show some revival spark, though that is now also seen as snuffed out in face of the AAP’s fledgling competition.The BJP has further put the Congress on the defensive over the Supreme Court order, by alleging the hand of Congress president Sonia Gandhi in propping up Setalvad.Asked how important the Supreme Court judgment was for the BJP, C R Paatil told The Indian Express: “The judgment is important not only for Gujarat, but for the entire country. It is very dangerous in a democracy that some political party hatches such conspiracy or gets it hatched or supports it, by which its rival can get capital punishment.”On whether it will help the party electorally in Gujarat or not, Paatil said: “It is the biggest victory for us that Modi saheb has got a clean chit after such a long struggle. If you ask electorally, we are going to win (the state Assembly elections); it does not matter whether the judgment came now or afterwards. We are going to win because we are doing people’s work, we are connected with the people.”A senior BJP leader, who did not want to be identified, said: “Our party will definitely gain from this development. Narendrabhai and the party as a whole have faced a lot of stress due to these false allegations. Now, sympathy will be in favour of Narendrabhai among people. They will realise that he (Modi) was personally targeted and the entire state of Gujarat was defamed.”According to this leader, the order has ensured that the coming Assembly elections are fought solely on the issue of development. “Narendrabhai has set the tradition of fighting elections on the issues of development. Coming elections will also be fought on the same lines,” said the leader.Indicating the line the party is set to take, one also adopted by Shah in his interview, a senior office-bearer said: “Narendrabhai has always respected the law. He did not act against any of these people who hatched conspiracies (against him). Being the Chief Minister, he could have easily got an FIR registered against them. But he has set a benchmark for respecting the process of law.”The party leader also said that the cases against Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt’s had been registered by the Gujarat government as per the direction of the Supreme Court. “The only gain for our party due to the Court order is that our stand has been vindicated. Our party is not going to make it an election issue and will stick to the politics of development.”
Gujarat Riots: Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of Ehsan Jafri.New Delhi: "Satyamev Jayate" was the unanimous reaction of BJP leaders on Friday after the Supreme Court upheld the SIT's clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in the Gujarat riots of 2002, when he was the state's chief minister, and dismissed a plea by Congress leader Ehsan Jafri's wife Zakia alleging a larger conspiracy.Union minister Anurag Thakur said,"Satyamev Jayate! Supreme Court of India gives a clean chit and has dismissed the plea filed by Zakia Jafri challenging the SC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) report on post-Godhra violence in Gujarat. The Supreme Court says the petition is without merit." "Satyamev Jayate,"(Truth alone triumphs) was how another Union minister Smriti Irani put it while party spokesperson Sambit Patra also tweeted the same expression.BJP secretary Y Satya Kumar claimed that Congress' last attempt to malign PM Modi has fallen flat and justice prevailed as he cited the top court's observation that Zakia Jafri's appeal was devoid of merits and deserved to be dismissed.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comBringing the curtains down on the bid to reopen the probe, a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said the material collected during the investigation does not "give rise to strong or grave suspicion regarding hatching of larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level" for causing mass violence against Muslims.The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar, termed Zakia Jafri's plea devoid of merit. It spoke of "the devious stratagem to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design" and noted that all those involved in "such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law".
PM Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat during the 2002 riots (File).New Delhi: An appeal against the exoneration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a 2002 Gujarat riots case by the wife of a Congress MP killed in the violence is "devoid of merits" and filed "to keep the pot boiling", the Supreme Court said on Friday.Upholding the clearance issued to the then Chief Minister of the state by a Special Investigation Team or SIT, the top court dismissed the petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of Ehsan Jafri, who was among the 68 people killed in what came to be known as the Gulbarg Society massacre.The plea was filed "to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design", the court said, in strong comments that, it added, were borrowed from arguments made by the SIT."All those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law," the judges said, surmising that the appeal was filed under "dictation of someone".They said petitioner's arguments were bordering on "undermining the integrity and sincerity" of SIT members and most of the content in the plea was "based on versions of others which have been found to be replete with falsehood".It also said that the submissions by Ms Jafri were "far-fetched and an attempt to undo and undermine the industry of the SIT in investigating the cases".The Gulbarg Society massacre was one of the worst incidents of violence in the riots that began after a train coach carrying pilgrims was burnt in Godhra, killing 59 people, a day ago.Ms Jafri, 84, had sought a fresh investigation into the communal riots, alleging a larger conspiracy involving politicians and the police.Supreme Court Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar had reserved the verdict last December.The massacre at Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society - a cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings housing mostly Muslims - was among the 10 major Gujarat riot cases re-investigated by the special team appointed by the Supreme Court.Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress parliamentarian, was among 68 people dragged out, hacked and burnt by the rioters. The Congress leader's frantic phone calls to police officers and senior politicians for help went unanswered, Zakia Jafri had alleged.The Special Investigation Team had submitted its closure report in February 2012 - a decade after the riots - and exonerated Prime Minister Modi and 63 others, citing "no prosecutable evidence".PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comIn 2016, a special court in Ahmedabad convicted 24 attackers for the massacre that the court described as the "darkest day in the history of civil society." But the court, which also acquitted 36 people including a BJP corporator in this case, underlined that there was no larger conspiracy.Over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the three-day violence in Gujarat in 2002.
Appeal filed under the "dictation of someone", the Supreme Court saidNew Delhi: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal against exoneration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a 2002 Gujarat riots case. The appeal by Zakia Jafri, wife of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the violence, was "devoid of merits", the court said Here are top five observations by the court:Quoting from the Special Investigation Team's arguments, the court said the plea was filed "to keep the pot boiling" for "ulterior design".All those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law, the court said.The appeal was filed under the "dictation of someone", the Supreme Court said in its verdict.The court said most of the content in the plea based on the versions of others and found to be "replete with falsehood".The court said the petitioner's arguments border on "undermining the integrity and sincerity" of the probe team's members and question the "wisdom" of Supreme Court. Comments
NEW DELHI: Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday over the falling value of the rupee and said one would have to focus on governance rather than giving speeches to arrest the deteriorating condition of the economy. His remarks came as the value of the rupee fell to Rs 78.83 per US dollar, its weakest ever. To attack the prime minister, Gandhi quoted Modi's words as Gujarat chief minister targeting then central government led by the Congress-led UPA. "'There is a competition between the government and the Rupee as to whose value is falling faster and who will go ahead' - Who had said this? To arrest the deteriorating condition of the country's economy, instead of speech, attention needs to be paid to governance. But the prime minister is not capable of doing this," the Congress leader said in a tweet in Hindi. The rupee plunged by 48 paise to close at record low of 78.85 (provisional) against the US dollar on Tuesday, weighed down by persistent foreign capital outflows and a surge in crude oil prices. During the session, the rupee touched an all-time low of 78.8550 against the American currency.
Good morning,In an interim relief for the Shiv Sena rebel MLAs, the Supreme Court extended the deadline set by Maharashtra Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal to reply to notices on pleas seeking their disqualification from the Assembly. The apex court said they had time until 5.30 pm on July 12 to send their replies and fixed July 11 as the next date of hearing.The political crisis in Maharashtra has given rise to the question of whether the Shiv Sena rebels can avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law. With the rebel camp claiming they have the support of at least 39 MLAs, we explain the 2/3rd rule in anti-defection law.At a time when Sanjay Raut has been trying to rally the Shiv Sena MLAs and cadre behind Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Enforcement Directorate has issued summons to the Sena MP in a case related to irregularities in a chawl redevelopment project at Mumbai’s Goregaon.Facing rebellion within his party, Thackeray took away the portfolios of rebel ministers camping in Assam’s Guwahati and allocated them to other cabinet colleagues.Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena’s rebel group led by Eknath Shinde is learnt to be strategising to approach the Governor, informing him of their decision to withdraw support from the MVA, and thereby, prompting a floor test.The Supreme Court, while dismissing appeals against the clean chit to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in the Gujarat riots case, said the matter is being pursued to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design” and said “all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law”. Yet it was the Supreme Court which, through hearings and orders over the years, called for “fair and impartial investigation” into the riots cases. Two cases — of the Best Bakery and Bilkis Bano — were moved out of Gujarat to Maharashtra. Here’s what Supreme Court once said and did.Is lack of clarity on policy and progressive clamping down on cryptocurrencies forcing Indian entrepreneurs and developers in the Web 3.0 to leave the country in search of greener pastures? With the UAE and Singapore actively promoting the ecosystem, co-founders of India’s cryptocurrency exchanges have been relocating with families to these destinations in the last couple of years.A cyber unit of Delhi Police arrested Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of fact-checking website AltNews, on charges of allegedly hurting religious sentiments following a complaint by a social media user who referred to a tweet from 2018. Police sources said the complainant in the case goes by the Twitter name Hanuman Bhakt.India, along with G7 countries and four invited countries, signed the ‘2022 Resilient Democracies Statement’ in which they committed to “guarding the freedom, independence and diversity of civil society actors” and “protecting the freedom of expression and opinion online and offline”.In an attempt to increase participation of women in the gig economy, the NITI Aayog has proposed fiscal incentives like tax breaks or startup grants for companies with about one-third of their workforce as women and people with disabilities (PwDs). Key points in its report include:🔴A survey conducted across urban centres of India revealed that women are more likely to take up platform jobs after their education and marriage.🔴 Female labour force participation in India has remained low, oscillating between 16 per cent to 23 per cent in the last few years.🔴 Platform companies offer flexibility and choice of labour to all workers in general, and women in particular, empowering them to monetise their idle assets when and where they want.🔴 It also recommended that businesses have a higher share of women managers and supervisors in the organisation to ensure that communication to workers does not perpetuate gender stereotypes.Another report, released by the Ministry of Education, states that as India entered the pandemic year, students in around 61 per cent districts of the country had very little exposure to digital learning due to limited availability of computers, Internet facilities and teachers trained to handle technological tools in schools.Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan questioned the Congress’ “silence” over the arrest of retired DGP R B Sreekumar and activist Teesta Setalvad by the Gujarat Police a day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit by the SIT to the state government, then led by Narendra Modi, in the 2002 Gujarat riots case. “The Congress could have organised at least a nominal protest,” he said.Aditi Mutatkar, a former international shuttler, remembers getting awkward when boys at her academy didn’t know why she came for badminton training, wearing dark shorts a few days of the month. Now, with a myriad voices raising questions about Wimbledon’s pedantic white-only clothing rule, unrelenting even for women players on their periods, sport is in for a serious sartorial reckoning of its age-old traditions.Delhi confidential: With the digital push targeting the youth ahead of Uttar Pradesh elections finding success, a new mission — New India For Young India — is already launched in poll-bound Gujarat, with Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar visiting universities to tell students about the government’s programmes and schemes. The programme is to create a buzz about new opportunities such as space and start-ups.In today’s episode of the ‘3 Things’ podcast, we discuss how the sanctions against Russia have fared and why AAP lost the recent bypolls in Punjab. We also delve into the companies looking to invest in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, and what it says about our economy.Until tomorrow,Leela Prasad and Sonal Gupta
Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil on Monday said that families from where people enroll in the Angipath recruitment scheme for the armed forces will have a “Shivaji at home”.Paatil was speaking during the World MSME day celebration organised by the Vadodara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).Paatil also accepted a letter from the VCCI addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, supporting Agnipath recruitment scheme and terming the ongoing protests against the scheme an “attempt to mislead the youth”.At the event, Paatil said, “There are many people who are trying to cause trouble in the Agnipath scheme… Many political parties in the country are behaving in an irresponsible way. The agniveers will be an asset for the country in case of external aggression from enemy countries… Homes that have agniveers will have a Shivaji… This scheme is for the country and to increase internal security in the country…”Paatil also said that although the Congress was a “majority party” once, it has now “withered away”.“Once upon a time, the Congress was in majority power all over the country. Today, it has withered away and regional parties have become the go-to option. But regional parties have also become dynasty and family parties — Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are all dynasty parties,”he said.The VCCI, supported by 13 industrial organisations, handed over a letter to Paatil, addressed to PM Modi, stating that the associations are “firmly backing” the Agnipath scheme.The letter states, “In order to ensure a bright future of the youth, MSMEs will provide jobs to those who return after serving for four years in the Agnipath scheme.. This will also help in the financial growth of the country envisioned by you (Modi) and make the foundation of the society stronger…”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxSpeaking at the sidelines of the event, Paatil said, “The VCCI and other 14 associations have voluntarily supported the Agnipath mission by assuring that they will provide employment to those agniveers, who return after giving four years in service of the country… This is a good step.”A presentation played at the event, titled ‘Response of VCCI to Agnipath’ said the youth are being misguided about the Agnipath scheme. Paatil also launched the web portal of VCCI named ‘Make in Gujarat’.
Three days after Supreme Court dismissed allegations of a larger conspiracy leveled by Zakia Jafri, widow of Congress leader and former MP Ahsan Jafri who was killed in 2002 Gujarat riots, against then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and others in cases related to the 2002 riots, the Congress on Monday said the judgment was “disappointing”, and that the party stands by Jafri family.The Congress had reacted cautiously to the Supreme Court’s judgment on Friday, agreeing with the findings of the SIT appointed by it that there was no “larger conspiracy” behind the riots. There was no official statement from the party expressing solidarity with Zakia either.The party’s first official reaction came on Saturday, after Home Minister Amit Shah hailed the verdict and accused a triad of political parties opposed to the BJP, some journalists, and some NGOs of having given publicity to “these allegations”.The Congress then countered, with party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi saying that the Supreme Court judgment should not be politicised, and that “everybody should bow down to a Supreme Court judgment”.On Monday, Jairam Ramesh, AICC general secretary in charge of communication, put out a statement saying that the“Supreme Court judgment in Zakia Jafri case is “deeply disappointing” and that many fundamental questions still remain unanswered.“What is the Constitutional and moral responsibility of the Chief Minister and State Government in cases of large-scale communal riots? Is the responsibility in such cases, only ever that of the Collector and Dy. Commissioner of Police and not of the political executive? Will the Chief Minister, Cabinet and State Government never be held accountable, even if a State is thrown into a circle of violence & riots?” he said.Ramesh stated, “We stand by our colleague, the late Ahsan Jafri and his family in this hour. What happened to him in a most tragic manner was the result of a fundamental lapse on the part of the state government.”He said there are some questions that will continue to haunt the Prime Minister.“…Why was Prime Minister Vajpayee so affected by his [then Gujarat CM’s] lack of action that he had to publicly remind him to do his duty, to follow his ‘Rajdharma’? Was it not the Supreme Court who called out the conduct of the Modi Government in Gujarat as that of “Modern day Nero’s (who) were looking elsewhere when… innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected? Why did sections of the BJP, including now member of the Modi Cabinet, Smriti Irani, protest and call for his dismissal as CM if he was not guilty of any wrongdoing?”“What about the numerous convictions that have been carried out on the basis of evidence collected by the SIT relating to the Gujarat riots? Can BJP claim that those also stand invalidated? No amount of propaganda by BJP can ever erase these facts,” Ramesh stated.Although the Congress had reacted cautiously to the arrest of Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad, Ramesh and AICC general secretary Ajay Maken attended a protest meeting in Delhi.