Gujarat Covid News

Modi model of governance is sustainable, no anti-incumbency, graph ever-rising: Jitendra Singh
The Indian Express | 4 hours ago | |
The Indian Express
4 hours ago | |

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s model of governance is sustainable, as it has defied the principle of diminishing returns, there is no anti-incumbency, and the graph is rising always upwards, Union Minister of State Dr Jitendra Singh said on Saturday.Since 2014, Modi has given a “new, different kind of model of governance, which is based on a new, different approach, and a different work culture”, the MoS for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, and PMO said.Addressing the inaugural session of 25th e-governance conference here, Singh said, “What is this governance model that I am trying to be boisterous about? Some authors have described it as Modi’s model of governance… It is not simply for name-dropping, as some cynics might feel. It is a model that has sustained itself for nearly 20 years, or more than 20 years, with Modi as the longest-serving head of government in any democracy.“Therefore, I have the courage and conviction to say this is a sustainable model of governance.”He said, “This is a model which has defied the principle of diminishing returns. On the contrary, with each passing year, the dividends have increased. There is no anti-incumbency…. The graph is always upwards, never down.”This is a model that has “grown stronger with each challenge”, because it was always prepared beforehand to face a challenge, Singh said. “As chief minister (of Gujarat), Mr Modi faced the earthquake in Gujarat. As Prime Minister, the pandemic (Covid-19). We were already prepared for it; we could do better.”Singh said it was due to this governance model that the Covid-19 pandemic could be managed. Recently, he said, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands appreciated the way India combatted Covid-19. “He said we (Amsterdam) could not manage with such a small population, how could you? I said because we were already prepared. So, this is the governance model (he is referring to).”Singh said the basic mantra of the Modi government is “maximum governance, minimum government”.“This sounds very fanciful…like a philosophy, an ornamental phrase…. But the simple meaning is a government that acts as a facilitator but does not act as an intimidator. That is how I have sought to interpret it…sarkaar ka abhav bhi nahin aur sarkaar ka prabhav bhi nahi (neither the absence of government nor the influence of government),” he said.Singh said the “whole of government, whole of nation and whole of society” approach has become the new norm to achieve the desired results in the shortest span of time”.The two-day National Conference on e-Governance (NCeG) is organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) and the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), in association with the Jammu & Kashmir administration. The theme of this year’s conference is “Bringing Citizens, Industry and Government closer”.Addressing the gathering, DARPG Secretary V Srinivas said the maxim ‘Maximum Governance, Minimum Government’ is represented by a digitally empowered nation, a digitally empowered citizenry, and a digitally transformed institution. Between 2014 and 2022, he said, the government has brought about digital transformation that has been accepted by the rural population through Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, BHIM UPI, CoWIN, Arogya Setu App.J&K Chief Secretary Arun Mehta said it is a proud moment for the UT to be hosting the 25th National Conference on e-Governance at Katra, which shows signs of changes taking place in the UT.Information Technology Secretary Alkesh Kumar called it an occasion to recognise and showcase exemplary digital transformations brought about by the Centre, the states and the start-up community.On the occasion, Singh presented the National Awards for e-Governance (NAeG) under five categories of the NAeG Scheme-2022 to 18 e-Governance initiatives at Central, state and district levels, academic and research institutions and Public Sector Undertakings.(The reporter was in Katra on an invitation from the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pensions)

Modi model of governance is sustainable, no anti-incumbency, graph ever-rising: Jitendra Singh
Surat nu jaman: Diamond City to dish out some delectable contests
Times of India | 4 days ago | |
Times of India
4 days ago | |

Surti undhiyu, the lip-smacking winter concoction of green vegetables, has never been complete without the ‘paapdi (flat beans)’, which once grew in abundance in the lush fields of Katargam. However, over the past 10 years, the fields have been replaced by flashy residential and commercial buildings; residents are seen flaunting their luxury cars, and this once sleepy hamlet has transformed into a thriving business centre of Surat also known as India’s Diamond City. Katargam is the hub of diamond cutting and polishing with over 4,000 artisans working in one shift in small and big units, employing lakhs of skilled hands. It also has a GIDC where lakhs of metres of fabrics are woven every day. And, this poll season, some delectable electoral battles are cooking up in this Patidar-dominated area which had witnessed massive unrest with crowds setting ablaze buses and other government property during the 2015 Hardik Patel-led quota stir. Political equations changed quickly, and BJP bastion, Surat, became the cradle of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Gujarat. In 2021 civic poll, the AAP made a stunning debut, winning 27 out of the 120 seats in the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) while the Congress drew a blank. On December 1, Surat city, with a total of 12 assembly segments including 2 rurban seats, is expected to witness some of the most gripping battles this election. Besides the community factors and an aggressive Kejriwal outfit, it’s the home to the state presidents of two parties: the BJP’s C R Paatil and the AAP’s Gopal Italia, the plucky Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader and former Hardik aide. Paatil holds a huge sway over migrants including Maharashtrians in Limbayat. The AAP has fielded Italia from Katargam against sitting BJP minister Vinod Moradiya who won his maiden election in 2017. Italia has become the favourite whipping boy of the BJP after several videos of his unsavoury remarks, including those against PM Modi and his mother, surfaced on social media. Italia dismissed them as a conspiracy but gave enough ammunition to Modi and other star campaigners whohave been fervently asking people to vanquish elements using disparaging language to ‘defame’ Gujarat and its people. “I am one of the poorest candidates but have the highest number of FIRs against me. These cases were filed against me for participating in various public movements,”33-year-old Italia tells people in his campaign. While Moradiya, a three-time councillor, is banking on the BJP symbol and government works, Congress’s Kalpesh Variya who hails from the Prajapati community, claims to have a better connect with people due to his social activities. The Prajapatis are natives of Saurashtra who are engaged in the diamond as well as the textile industry. The young turks of the BJP have seen a meteoric rise in their political fortunes with Majura MLA Harsh Sanghavi being one of the most prominent faces. Sanghavi, who has been vociferous against ‘love jihad’, was instrumental in the roaring success of PM Modi’s roadshows and rallies in the city. Given the sheer number of Saurashtra natives (nearly 20 lakh), who are registered voters in Surat and the AAP’s aggressive posturing, contests in Varachha Road, Surat North, Karanj, Kamrej, and Olpad are expected to spice up the hustings. Expecting a tough fight, all three parties are leaving no stone unturned while campaigning and reaching out to people. Tempers are also fraying. Twice recently, workers of the BJP and the AAP came face to face in Sarthana and Limbayat, forcing the police to rush to the spots and control the situation. Kathiriya is expected to give a tough fight to ex-minister Kumar Kanani in Varachha, which had also been scorched during the quota agitation, by harping on anti-incumbency. He also has community backing. Apart from Italia and Kathiriya, the AAP has fielded another young face in PAAS activist, Dharmik Malaviya, from the rurban Olpad seat against BJP ministerMukesh Patel and Darshan Naik of the Congress. The city of flyovers, often called the distant cousin of Mumbai, has consistently achieved the top rank in the Centre’s Swachhata surveys. But youth from the Patidar areas launched social media campaigns to demand a government college, something that was approved by the state government recently but remains on paper. “The movement has been going on for the past seven years and gained momentum in 2018 but we are yet to get a college,” said Ketan Sojitra, a social worker. Importantly, Surat won accolades for the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially the second wave which saw a massive exodus of migrants from the city. The Patidars along with other communities set an example by converting their community halls into Covid care isolation centres, which provided succour to thousands and reduced the burden on government hospitals. Another issue that is expected to play on the minds of people, especially in the Varachha, Surat North, Karanj, Katargam, and Olpad seats, is the horrific Takshashila Arcade fire that snuffed out the lives of 22 students on May 24, 2019. “The actual corrupt officials of the Surat Municipal Corporation, Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company Ltd and the fire department, who allowed the illegal construction, were never arrested. Those arrested are out on bail and the government is not interested in running the case in the fast-track court,” said Jaysukh Gajera, father of one of the deceased students. In Olpad and Kamrej constituencies, several villages have been included in the city limits, but the basic civic amenities like water supply and drainage are far from adequate. The villages that were included in city limits a few years ago are yet to get basic civic facilities like water supply and drainage. In some places, sewage water still flows through open rainwater trenches. The poor infrastructure is also hampering MSME development in these areas.

Surat nu jaman: Diamond City to dish out some delectable contests
No terror group has courage to enter India now, says Yogi
The Indian Express | 5 days ago | |
The Indian Express
5 days ago | |

On a stage flanked by two JCB earth excavators decorated with garlands, symbolising the demolitions back in his state, Uttar Pradesh Chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday greeted the audience in Porbandar in Gujarati at a rally where the banner described him as “Hindu Hriday Samrat” and said “no terror group has the courage to enter India now”.Invoking the principles of “simplicity and truthfulness” of Mahatma Gandhi in his birthplace, and the “vision and strength” of Sardar Patel, Adityanath said, “Today no terror group has the courage to enter India and launch an attack. No country can dare to even to look at India with a crooked eye… India’s soldiers are ready for a surgical strike… no one can dent our country’s security. Whatever was left of terrorism has been annihilated after the abrogation of Article 370.”At Wankaner where Adityanath addressed his first election rally in Gujarat on November 18, he was welcomed as “bulldozer baba” with two JCB machines placed on the venue.Adityanath also said that during troubles people remember their “nani” (maternal grandmother), which is why Congress leaders “went off to Italy when the country was battling Covid-19 crisis”.Adityanath, one of BJP’s star campaigners for the upcoming Assembly polls in Gujarat, earlier addressed gatherings in the tribal belt of Naswadi and in Mahmedavad in Kheda district on Monday. The constituencies that he addressed have a significant minority vote.The crowd cheered as Adityanath said, “The benefits of government schemes are reaching every person belonging to every caste, creed, and religion. We will give everyone equal development opportunities but we will not resort to appeasement of anyone. This is the vow of the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi…”Hailing the government and attacking the Congress, Adityanath said, During the Covid-19 pandemic, you have seen free medical treatment and free vaccines as well as free food. If the Congress was in power then, it would have eaten up all the money meant for the Covid-19 vaccine and the food kits for the poor…”“On one hand, Modiji was fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, and on the other hand, he was working to end the country’s wait of 500 years. When the temple is ready next year and when Ram Lalla finally takes his sacred seat inside the temple, it will be the pride of the nation…,” said Adityanath, referring to the Ram Temple coming up in Ayodhya.It was the “vision” of Union Home Minister Amit Shah that led to the abrogation of Article 370 from Kashmir, “putting an end to terrorism and naxalism”, Adityanath said, adding, “If, in 1947, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel used his visionary power, in 2019, it was the son of Gujarat, Amit Shah, who abrogated Article 370 from Kashmir. It was the final nail in the coffin of terrorism and it has ended terrorism and naxalism. Could the Congress have done it?”Calling India pipping Britain to be the fifth country in economic development as a “big achievement”, Adityanath said, “Britain ruled India for over 200 years and to leave them behind in the ladder of economic development is a big step… This has happened because of Narendra Modi…”In Mehmadavad, Adityanath said that like the Congress had been “finished in UP”, it was now the turn of Gujarat to repeat the same feat. “Uttar Pradesh has 403 assembly seats and a population of 25 crore. Do you know how many seats Congress has in UP? Two. Even to say ‘Ram Naam Satya Hai’, you need four people… When Congress has finished in UP, is Gujarat ready for the same?,” he said.

No terror group has courage to enter India now, says Yogi
‘Being in Opp can’t be an alibi’: Vasoya makes MLA work hard sell in Dhoraji
The Indian Express | 5 days ago | |
The Indian Express
5 days ago | |

“Do you pay wages to a person who has laboured on your farm for harvesting and threshing groundnut, one who has picked cotton and sprayed pesticides on the crop, or to the one roaming around in the village just because he is good-looking? Who do you owe wages,” Lalit Vasoya, the sitting Congress MLA from Gujarat’s Dhoraji Assembly constituency, asks a small gathering of farmers in Vadla village in Upleta taluka in Rajkot district, even as a crowd was building up in nearby Dhoraji town for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public meeting Sunday as part of his campaign for the BJP candidates for the upcoming state Assembly polls.Struck by the question, some men from the gathering respond: “Of course to the one labouring on our farmlands.”Seizing on their words, the MLA tells them: “You are right. You pay to the one who labours on your farm. Similarly, I have toiled for your village for five years. Today, it is time for you to pay me my wages. I have come to seek compensation in the form of votes for the work I have done for you.”Vasoya, a prominent Patidar leader, then reels off details of some of his works – building the village’s internal roads at a cost of Rs10.80 lakh and constructing a burial ground’s compound wall at a cost of Rs 80,000 from his MLA local area development (LAD) fund.To drive home the point that he had “favoured” Vadla with a population of around 1,000 despite having trailed by a few votes in the 2017 Assembly election from the polling booth here, Vasoya says, “MLA gets Rs 1.5 crore LAD grant annually. If I were to distribute this grant equally among 82 villages and three municipalities in Dhoraji-Upleta area as per their population and take into account the LAD suspension for one year due to Covid, I can allot Rs 30,000 to your village annually. That means Rs 1.20 lakh in five years. But paying special attention to your village, I allotted my development fund to Vadla, even at the cost of other villages. Therefore, I have the right to seek votes here.”Vasoya, 60, tells farmers that Vadla was among the 18 villages of Upleta which received excessive rainfall this monsoon but were not included by the BJP-ruled state government for surveying crop damage and compensation. “We called a meeting of people of 18 villages in Upleta, then made representations in Gandhinagar and created a ruckus in the Assembly and ensured that farmers of Vadla get compensation against excessive rain. I had told village leaders that if I fail to get you compensation against excessive rain, don’t vote for me in the election. So, this is how I have worked.”Vasoya, who was the Saurashtra zone convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) which was leading the Patidar quota agitation, was given ticket by the Congress to fight his maiden election from Dhoraji in the 2017 polls, which he clinched by defeating BJP candidate Hari Patel.While campaigning for his 2017 bid, Vasoya had announced that he would use his MLA salary for welfare of people and not for personal use. While campaigning for his re-election as a Congress candidate in 2022, he gives an account to his voters in this regard.“Over the past five years, I got a total of Rs 49.50 lakh as salary… Using that money, I organised 34 health screening camps in Dhoraji, Upleta and Bhayavadar areas where free diagnoses were done and medicines distributed. Twelve extremely poor patients were operated upon free. We ran a community kitchen for 21 days during Covid-19 outbreak and fed daily 5,000 initially and then 14,000. From the balance, we installed ceiling fans in anganwadis, gave school uniforms to poor girls studying in government schools, and sent nutrition kits to villages for malnourished and stunted children,” he tells Vadla residents.While campaigning in nearby Sevantra village, Vasoya tells people that their drinking water woes are going to end soon as the Venu-Moj group drinking water supply project to supply treated drinking water to 48 villages of the area is nearing completion.“Under the Nal Se Jal scheme of the Central government, the state government has launched one pilot project each in south Gujarat, central Gujarat, north Gujarat and Saurashtra region. Under the project, sumps will be constructed in villages and piped water will be available even if the feeder line fails for a couple of days,” Vasoya says.“There are many BJP MLAs from Saurashtra. Even ministers are from areas near us. But I used my rapport with then water supply minister Kunvarji Bavaliya to good use despite his switch to the BJP and brought the pilot project to Upleta so that a sump of drinking water is constructed in your village too,” the MLA tells the villagers, adding he had shared the details of the project with them on their WhatsApp accounts.He also tells Sevantra residents how he and his team drove to Surat and arranged 21 luxury buses for people who wanted to return to their native villages in Upelta and Dhoraji talukas during the Covid lockdown in 2020. “We even sent our personal vehicle to help people reach their homes in their villages,” he claims, crediting himself for the community health centre in Upleta being upgraded to a 100-bed hospital at a cost of Rs 16 crore.In Kerala, a village on the bank of Moj river, Bachu Vamrotiya, a village leader, tries to corner Vasoya by complaining about the difficulties faced by farmers to cross the river during the monsoon and how his village has been left out of the crop loss survey on account of excessive rain. “Despite being an Opposition MLA, I have got approved roads and bridges worth Rs 350 crore in Upleta and Dhoraji. I have already allotted Rs 2 lakh for a causeway across Moj river in your village,” Vasoya replies.“But farmers would have got Rs 65 lakh compensation had our village been included among those affected by excessive rain,” Vamrotiya continues. Pacifying him, the politician says, “Wouldn’t I like to claim credit for getting this done? The fact is, the BJP government has excluded a few villages due to narrow political consideratons. Therefore, we have filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court, demanding Kerala and four other villages should also be surveyed and farmers be compensated.”Vasoya barely mentions any state or national leader of the Congress party during his campaign, with Dhoraji being scheduled for polling in the first phase on December 1. “I have to cover 82 villages and three municipality areas for campaigning in few days. I hardly get around 10 minutes to talk during which I barely manage to give account of work we did over the past five years in this constituency,” he tells The Indian Express.Vasoya targets the BJP over price rise and its candidate, Prof Mahendra Padalia, the Rajkot-based former chancellor of Saurashtra University who is a native of Paneli village in Upleta taluka. Calling the BJP candidate an “outsider”, he asks a gathering in Dumiyani village, “Does anyone of you know him? Have you ever seen him?” As the crowd responds negatively, he goes on: “It is our misfortune that every time, BJP fields an outsider in this seat despite having strong local workers. BJP brings people from Rajkot so that the party doen’t have to face people after election. You can easily stop me in the middle of the street but where will you go to find him?”Hari Patel is also a resident of Rajkot and so is Praveen Makadia, the BJP leader who was elected from this seat before Vasoya in a bypoll.The Congress MLA later tells the Express that an Opposition legislator could not rely on excuses that because he is from an Opposition party the works in his constituency could not be done. “You have to raise your voice when needed but you should also have the humility to bow down for the sake of your people. I personally requested agriculture minister Raghavji Patel to include 10 villages in the damage survey. He agreed to include five,” he says.Vasoya also quashes buzz about him cosying up to the BJP. “I meet former minister Jayesh Radadiya and Porbandar MP Ramesh Dhaduk at community events because we are from the same community. I am also a big farmer leader from Saurashtra. Then why is it that media reports that Vasoya is drifting towards the BJP and not Radadiya warming up to Congress.This is because the BJP knows that they won’t be able to defeat me through ballot so they want to create confusion in minds of people by spreading such conspiracy theories,” he charges.

‘Being in Opp can’t be an alibi’: Vasoya makes MLA work hard sell in Dhoraji
BJP provides benefits to all without discrimination, appeasement: Yogi
The Indian Express | 5 days ago | |
The Indian Express
5 days ago | |

Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has “vowed” to provide the benefits of development projects to citizens “without discrimination” and will “never resort to appeasement”, said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday.Adityanath, one of BJP’s star campaigners for the upcoming Assembly polls in Gujarat, was addressing gatherings in the tribal belt of Naswadi and in Mehmedavad in Kheda district on Monday.The crowd cheered as Adityanath said, “The benefits of government schemes are reaching every person belonging to every caste, creed, and religion. We will give everyone equal development opportunities but we will not resort to appeasement of anyone. This is the vow of the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi…”Hailing the government and attacking the Congress, Adityanath said, During the Covid-19 pandemic, you have seen free medical treatment and free vaccines as well as free food. If the Congress was in power then, it would have eaten up all the money meant for the Covid-19 vaccine and the food kits for the poor…”“On one hand, Modiji was fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, and on the other hand, he was working to end the country’s wait of 500 years. When the temple is ready next year and when Ram Lalla finally takes his sacred seat inside the temple, It will be the pride of the nation and the national temple of India…,” said Adityanath, referring to the Ram Temple coming up in Ayodhya.Enlisting the development works in places of religious worship in Varanasi, Mahakaal in Ujjain, and Badrinath, the UP CM said, “Could the Congress have constructed the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya? …the tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel has been constructed in Kevadia by the BJP. Developing five pilgrim places dedicated to Dr Ambedkar was also done by the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi.”It was the “vision” of Union Home Minister Amit Shah that led to the abrogation of Article 370 from Kashmir, “putting an end to terrorism and naxalism”, Adityanath said, adding, “If, in 1947, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel used his visionary power, in 2019, it was the son of Gujarat, Amit Shah, who abrogated Article 370 from Kashmir. It was the final nail in the coffin of terrorism and it has ended terrorism and naxalism. Could the Congress have done it?”Calling India pipping Britain to be the fifth country in economic development as a “big achievement”, Adityanath said, “Britain ruled India for over 200 years and to leave them behind in the ladder of economic development is a big step… This has happened because of Narendra Modi… Our borders have been secured… We especially thank PM Modi for making the daughter of a tribal family the President of India. He has increased the pride of the tribal community.”In Mehmadavad, Adityanath said that like the Congress had been “finished in UP”, it was now the turn of Gujarat to repeat the same feat. “Uttar Pradesh has 403 assembly seats and a population of 25 crore. Do you know how many seats Congress has in UP? Two. Even to say ‘Ram Naam Satya Hai’, you need four people… When Congress has finished in UP, is Gujarat ready for the same?,” he said.Adityanath also mocked the Congress’s Bharat Jodo yatra stating that the party “played songs from films” instead of the National Anthem at one of the events.“What happened in Gujarat before Narendra Modi — riots, curfew, hooliganism, terror, loot, and robbery… it was the doing of the Congress. In the past 20 years, there have been no riots or curfews… Gujarat has become a model for development…”

BJP provides benefits to all without discrimination, appeasement: Yogi
Congress Looking To Win 125 Seats In Gujarat Elections, Says Ashok Gehlot
Ndtv | 5 days ago | |
Ndtv
5 days ago | |

He said Congress will do well in these elections because the mood of the public is against BJP.Surat: With Rahul Gandhi all set to address his first election rally in Gujarat today, Rajasthan Chief Minister and Congress leader Ashok Gehlot today showed confidence in the party doing well in the upcoming Assembly polls stating that the people are "agitated" against the ruling BJP.Speaking to ANI, Gehlot said, "Congress will do well in these elections because the mood of the public is against BJP for mismanaging COVID and the economy. Our party is looking at winning 125 seats and we are well on course to do that. Opposition to the BJP government this time wasn't there the last time. People are agitated. The entire country saw the mismanagement during COVID, especially in the state which was strong even before independence.""There was Morbi incident. We demanded a fair probe by a sitting or retired judge of HC. But it didn't happen. Gujarat HC took suo moto cognisance. People died due to illicit liquor. The government's politics of gimmicks are not going to work, there will be surprising results," he added.Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah over their frequent visits to the state lately, Gehlot claimed that they are doing so as the BJP is "being wiped out of Gujarat"."Ever since they won UP polls, PM Modi-Amit Shah started coming here (Gujarat) regularly. It means they feel BJP is being wiped out of here. What does it mean if they come here every week? Shows their weak condition. So, both of them set a camp here," he said.When asked about Rahul Gandhi's absence from the election campaign in Gujarat, the Congress leader said that the former party president is giving priority to the Bharat Jodo Yatra."We don't need to do it. Rahul Gandhi is carrying out the yatra for every state, including Gujarat. Every household knows the issues being raised by him. It wasn't possible for him to be here physically as he is giving priority to the yatra. He's coming here today and will speak his mind," he said.He also took a swipe at the Aam Aadmi Party, which is also in the fray and looking to make inroads into Gujarat, and claimed that the party's credibility has been reduced."Someone should ask Kejriwal why did they suddenly withdraw the campaign from Himachal? They have just propped candidates there. Who knows if they withdraw from here too? Are they colluding with BJP? Their credibility has gone down," he said.Gehlot slammed the BJP over the 'love jihad' issue and accused the party of doing politics on with an aim to target "one community"."It's an unfortunate incident. It has been given a name and 'jumla' has been made. Inter-caste and interfaith marriages have been taking place for a long time now. But politics is being done on the basis of the manner in which one community has been targetted," he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comVoting for the two-phased Gujarat Assembly elections will take place on December 1 and 5, and the counting of votes will take place on December 8.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayUS President Joe Biden Turns 80

Congress Looking To Win 125 Seats In Gujarat Elections, Says Ashok Gehlot
After Covid-induced lull, HP records over three-time increase in tourist footfall
The Indian Express | 6 days ago | |
The Indian Express
6 days ago | |

Tourism in the hill state has picked up pace after a Covid-induced lull with footfall surging over three times this year till October 31 compared to the corresponding year-ago period.According to data procured from the Tourism department, Himachal Pradesh witnessed the arrival of 1.28 crore tourists, including 28,232 foreigners, between January 1 and October 31.In the corresponding year-ago period, the state had welcomed 41.03 lakh tourists, the data showed. The maximum tourists — 20.63 lakh — visited in June while January recorded the lowest footfall at 7.69 lakh.At 30.4 lakh, tourist arrivals in the twin districts of Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti accounted for 23.8 per cent of the total footfall in the first 10 months of 2022. The Atal Tunnel — an all-weather road beneath the 13,058-foot-high mountain in Rohtang Pass — has emerged as a tourist hotspot. Visitors are also making a beeline to Sissu in Lahaul and Spiti.Amit Kashyap, tourism director and Himachal Pradesh Tourism Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) managing director, said, “People who were struck at home during the COVID-19 outbreak have now started moving out.Aggressive marketing by the Tourism department in vernacular languages in states such as Gujarat from where the tourist inflow was less has helped increasing footfall.” Kashyap attributed the rise in tourist inflow to marketing on television channels and multiplexes and short videos on social media highlighting unexplored destinations in the state’s 12 districts.“We are hopeful of touching the pre-Covid tourist inflow figures by the year-end as November and December are peak tourist seasons. However, the number of foreign tourists is yet to pick up,” he said.Manali Hoteliers’ Association chief Mukesh Thakur said the Atal Tunnel — the new gateway to Lahaul and Spiti — had drastically increased tourist footfall.The tourist rush is picking up and Manali will be packed to capacity from December 20 till January 10, he said, adding the winter carnival starting from January 2 was another sought-after event.Snowfall being a big attraction, gondolas in Solang, igloo stays in Hamta, winter sports in and around Manali, skiing and snowboarding courses offered by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali catch the attention of travellers, he added.Pranav, a tourist, said, “We came to see the Atal Tunnel but were swayed to visit Sissu after crossing it. It was like entering a different world — so calm and beautiful.” The tourism and allied industry suffered immense losses during the pandemic and tourist inflow dropped 81 per cent on year in 2020. The tourist arrival, which drew 1.72 crore people in 2019, crashed to 32.13 lakh in 2020 before marginally recovering to 56.37 lakh in 2021.Dharamsala, the abode of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, is a popular tourist location while Shimla, with its British architecture, is famous as the “Queen of the hills”, and Kullu-Manali is known for snow and adventure sports.There is perennial flow of tourists to the “Shakti peeths” in Kangra, Bilaspur, Una, Simaur and Mandi, known as “Chhoti Kashi” for the ancient Shiva temples. Foreign tourists and adventure lovers are attracted to the virgin areas of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Chamba.📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!

After Covid-induced lull, HP records over three-time increase in tourist footfall
BJP promotes those linked to riots, Congress poached AIMIM candidate: Owaisi
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

In an apparent reference to BJP candidate CK Raulji, who was a part of the Godhra Jail Advisory Committee (JAC) that granted remission to 11 life-term convicts in the Bilkis Bano case in August, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said Saturday the BJP is a party that promotes those linked to riot convicts. Owaisi, who was campaigning for its Jamalpur-Khadia candidate and AIMIM Gujarat chief Sabir Kabliwala, also accused the Congress of poaching AIMIM’s Bapunagar candidate Shahnawaz Khan. Earlier in the day, Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor announced that Khan, who was also AIMIM’s Gujarat youth president, joined the Congress. Khan’s switchover meant that AIMIM’s candidate tally has gone down to 13 from 14 of the total 182 seats in the Assembly. “Today, Congress bought a candidate of ours and I got to know that he was given Rs 20-25 lakh. Congress is an expert in buying and selling themselves. Here they bought him and after elections they’ll bow down before Modiji saying “you’re supreme”. Thousands had turned for a Bapunagar rally and they (Congress) got threatened. So, they bought him… They allege that we are BJP’s B-team. In Vadgam, our candidate is being threatened. Congress is threatening them,” Owaisi said. He accused the BJP of promoting those linked to 2002 riots. “BJP in Uttar Pradesh said “we’re against criminals” but what are they doing in Gujarat? The man (Manoj Kukrani) who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 96 people in Naroda Patiya… he is campaigning for BJP today, working for a BJP candidate. The man (Raulji) who defended Bilkis’ rapists and the murderers of her three-year-old child… who called them ‘sanskari’… he is a BJP candidate. Are they supporting the victims or the accused? This is BJP’s real face,” Owaisi said. He reminded that the government is yet to arrest the owner of the company linked to the Morbi bridge collapse that killed 150 people. He also accused Jamalpur-Khadia Congress MLA Imran Khedawala of “hiding in a farm house at Udaipur” during the Covid-19 pandemic. “You’ve seen Congress MLA’s work in these five years. If anyone was the most affected in Covid, it was the poor… When the public was troubled and distressed, Kabliwala remained with you… We will also raise the issues of Jamalpur in Parliament… I promise that if you elect Kabliwala, then he will be the MLA (only) for name, I will work for you. Owaisi will be seen once every month in Jamalpur,” said Owaisi amid cheers from the public.

BJP promotes those linked to riots, Congress poached AIMIM candidate: Owaisi
Liquor shops emerge from Covid shadow in Gujarat
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

AHMEDABAD: In dry Gujarat, permit liquor has begun flowing again. Permit liquor shops have finally emerged from the shadow of Covid-19, with sales growing by at least 30% from last year. Driven by tourists, revenues of permit liquor stores from visitor and tourist permits have risen fourfold in one year. “Several permit holders who were senior citizens died during Covid. Renewals of permits had also slowed down. This coupled with almost-nil tourist movement had massively reduced sales at permit shops. This year, with tourists and visitor permits returning, sales have improved,” said the owner of a permit liquor shop in the city. Industry estimates show the average liquor store clocks a turnover of Rs 50 lakh a month. Of this, 60% comes from spirits i.e. scotch, whiskey, vodka, rum, brandy and gin and 40% is from wine and beer. Liquor stores are expecting sales to surpass pre-Covid levels by December. Procurement has grown by at least 35% in November and will rise further till February, permit shop owners say. Ahmedabad alone has 10-15 permit liquor stores. “We expect an increase in tourist and NRI movement in the next two months due to the wedding and NRI seasons in addition to a few events in the city. Consequently, sales will grow,” said a source. Permit shop owners say wine consumption has risen significantly and thus their procurement of wine has gone up. “Till five years ago, wine consumption was driven by health permit holders or a select few tourists. With greater exposure, people have cultivated a taste and preference for wine. This shows in wine sales growing by 30% in these five years,” said another permit shop owner. The consumption of premium liquor is also increasing in Gujarat. “More young professionals from other states and foreign nationals are coming to Gujarat, and exposure to premium brands and imported liquor has increased as has consumption. In the winter, sales of premium liquors such as aged scotch, single malts and premium wines, which cost a minimum of Rs 10,000 a bottle, tends to increase by 20%,” said a permit shop owner.

Liquor shops emerge from Covid shadow in Gujarat
‘Not here, but doesn’t mean absent’: Gujarat Cong waits for word on Rahul, draws up meetings plan
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

From lasting impact of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, to long-distance monitoring, to focused campaign by party leaders, the Congress is trying to put a positive spin on the fact that Rahul Gandhi is so far absent from the high-stakes Gujarat campaign.The state unit has no clear idea if that might change, with some leaders talking tentatively of two visits by Rahul, one on November 22, a week to go for campaigning to end for the first phase polling in 89 seats on December 1, and another before the second phase on December 5.This is quite a departure from the high-octane campaign in 2017 when Rahul had addressed nearly 40 meetings, while making several temple visits, and launched a Navsarjan Yatra, which covered the length and breadth of Gujarat in a bus. The party’s tally of 77 seats had been its highest since 1990 in the state, with the BJP’s 99 its lowest.Congress leaders argue that it is best Rahul is not “distracted” from the Bharat Jodo Yatra, and remind that he did not campaign in Himachal Pradesh either. However, in Himachal, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had taken charge of the party campaign.Vadra was last in Gujarat in February 2019 when the Congress Working Committee met in Ahmedabad, and has never addressed a rally in the state. A Congress leader says, “When Rahulji is campaigning, there is no point in also calling her. Both are our star campaigners. She comes when Rahulji is unable to, like in Himachal.”Rahul’s absence coincides with the loss of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the eyes and ears of the high command in Gujarat, who died of Covid-19 in 2020.AICC general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Raghu Sharma told The Indian Express that while Rahul might not be present in the state, he is constantly “monitoring what the party is doing in Gujarat”. “We are making a plan for his meetings, but it is wrong to say he is absent. He held meetings in Dwarka, Dahod and on the Sabarmati Riverfront as recently as September,” Sharma says.Party leaders argue that the comparison with 2017 is also wrong as, at the time, Rahul was the vice-president of the party.A core committee member of the Gujarat Congress and AICC delegate, Gaurav Pandya, says there is another way to look at this. “Everybody is on the field campaigning. Had Rahulji come, the leaders who are also candidates would have had to abandon their campaign and come to his meetings, which would be damaging (for them).”Besides, says Pandya, “His (Rahul’s) Bharat Jodo Yatra is having an indirect impact on our campaign. It has got the Congress worker in the smallest of villages talking about it and they feel that ‘we should complement it’… The Bharat Jodo Yatra was planned with a national perspective.”Pandya acknowledges, though, that Rahul’s intensive campaign of 2017 “did build a connect and benefit the Congress, apart from the social movement that got the Patidars connected (to the party)”.The absence of the Gandhis is expected to hurt the party most in the tribal areas, which have been its stronghold and where the family still has a following. Congress leaders are also despondent that the “disinterest” comes at a time when the Aam Aadmi Party is making an aggressive bid in Gujarat, and is expected to cut into the party’s votes.Of the 27 ST reserved seats in Gujarat, the Congress had won 17 in 2017, of whom five MLAs have since joined the BJP. Two of them quit after the Adivasi Adhikar Yatra by the Congress in May to consolidate its tribal vote.Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi says the launch of the Adivasi yatra by Rahul in Dahod has been followed up by a “door-to-door campaign in tribal areas talking about what the party will do to protect their rights to jal, jungle, jameen”.Congress leaders claim that in these areas, AAP has dented the Bharatiya Tribal Party more, while the BJP was trying to “lure its tribal MLAs”. “The appointment of Droupadi Murmu as President is also being used by the party to influence tribals,” says a leader.Rahul’s last visit to Gujarat was on September 5 when, two days to go for the launch of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, he addressed a rally on the Sabarmati Riverfront, unveiling a broad manifesto of thte party, promising Rs 4 lakh as compensation to families of those who succumbed to Covid-19, farm loan waiver of up to Rs 3 lakh, free electricity for households up to 300 units etc. These promises are part of the Congress’s manifesto released recently.At the Dahod rally in May, Rahul had shared the stage with then working president Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani. Hardik, the face of the Patidar agitation, had left the Congress soon after to join the BJP.Before that, in February, Rahul addressed a Chintan Shivir of the Congress in Dwarka, where the strategy for the elections was discussed. In his address on Day 2, he told party leaders to come up with a vision for Gujarat and “project 25 people who would transform that vision into reality”.Seeking to put its house in order, meanwhile, the AICC Monday announced a team of zonal observers, including Mukul Wasnik, Mohan Prakash, Prithviraj Chavan, B K Hariprasad and K H Muniyappa. Barring Muniyappa, the rest have been in-charge of Gujarat at some point.The party also announced 32 ‘Lok Sabha Observers’ in charge of the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat and five ‘General Observers’.

‘Not here, but doesn’t mean absent’: Gujarat Cong waits for word on Rahul, draws up meetings plan
  • Decision review on some seats: People’s verdict, Gujarat HC’s hawk-eye
  • Times of India

    A few 2017 election battles moved from polling stations to courtrooms as candidates continued to fight over the results, many of which hinged on miniscule margins. In the end, the ruling BJP won that poll thriller, but the Congress managed to corner 77 seats, its highest tally since 1990. The 2017 poll outcome also provoked the highest number of legal disputes, with 24 victories of both the BJP and the Congress being challenged in the Gujarat high court. After the 2012 assembly poll, only seven results were taken for legal review. As for the 2017 election, the Gujarat high court has ruled on four cases. It quashed the victories of two BJP candidates and disqualified them as legislators. In May 2020, the court annulled the victory of former education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama from Dholka. In April 2019, the court invalidated the triumph of Pabubha Manek from Dwarka. Chudasama later received relief from the Supreme Court, which stayed the HC order and he was able to complete his term. In Manek’s case, the apex court refused to stay the high court order. However, the Election Commission of India (ECI) did not hold any byelection in the Dwarka constituency and it remained unrepresented for over three years. Manek has a record seven straight poll victories and has been chosen again by the BJP to contest from Dwarka. Previously, he has won that seat thrice asan independent candidate, once as the Congress candidate, and thrice as a BJP member. Some candidates lost both the 2017 poll and the legal fight. The high court rejected a petition filed by the Congress’s Arjun Modhwadia questioning the victory of the BJP’s Babu Bokhiria from Porbandar. But the Congress’s C J Chavda survived the legal opposition to his success in Gandhinagar North. His rival’s candidature had been rejected by the returning officer. In fact, many litigants wanted results to be nullified because they could not contest the election owing to the defects in their nomination forms. The constituencies where the election authorities’ decisions were questioned over the rejection or the acceptance of nominations were Jamalpur-Khadia, Patan, Gandhinagar North, Himmatnagar, Varachha Road, Limbayat, Gariyadhar, Godhra, Prantij, Santrampur, Mandvi, Vagra, Matar, Dabhoi, Dwarka, Kamrej, and Danilimda. Three petitions contesting the results were withdrawn from the court. One was pulled back by the Congress’s Dhiraj Kalathia who had lost to the BJP’s Saurabh Dalal in Botad. Kalathia wanted a recount because of the thin margin of defeat. Seven cases await adjudication. One plea from the 2012 poll, against the victory of the Congress’s Shailesh Parmar from Danilimda, was disposed of in 2021 by the high court. The court had said that the petition had become infructuous. Minor error, big consequenceDwarka MLA Pabubha Manek’s victory was annulled due to a minor mistake committed by his proposer while filing the nomination form. The proposer did not mention the candidate’s name or the name and the number of the constituency in the first line of the form. Instead of Manek’s name, the name of the proposer had been written. The HC considered this a defect of “substantial character” which rendered his nomination illegal. HC ire, SC reliefOn May 12, 2020, the HC quashed sitting minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama’s victory over the Congress’s Ashvin Rathod by 327 votes. The court observed that Chudasama and the returning officer of Dholka, Dhaval Jani, were acting “hand-inglove” and the “unholy nexus” between the two resulted in irregularities in counting of votes. The court said that the returning officer had avoided counting 429 postal ballots. The court said that the returning officer systematically manipulated election records to conceal the illegal exclusion of postal ballots. CCTV footage showed Chudasama’s private secretary Dharmin Mehta inside the counting hall. Eventually, the Supreme Court stayed the HC order.

Student by day, security guard by night — how children who lost parents to Covid are balancing life and school
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

As many as 1,47,492 children in India have lost either one or both parents due to Covid-19 since March 2020, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) told the Supreme Court in January this year. Out of these, the maximum number of children is between the age group of eight to 13 years (59,010), followed by children in the age group of 14 to 15 years.Many of these children are now left with an ocean of grief and a financial battle to fight. But it is their willingness to fulfill their parents’ dreams that have helped them survive against all odds.Filled with hope, these children share stories of strength and resilience.Juggling between the family business and school — the Kanpur siblings2021 was the toughest year for Aditya Sanghi (16) and his 17-year-old sister Rudranshi Sanghi who lost their mother to the second wave of Covid-19. With a partially paralysed father to take care of, the siblings decided to take over the family business to support their education.“I wanted to be an automobile engineer but the unfortunate death of my mother changed all plans. My sister and I juggle between school and business and hence there is little time left for any coaching I would have needed for JEE preparation. As guided by my teachers, I took up the commerce stream in Class 11. Since my sister is also studying the same stream, she helps me in my studies,” Aditya told indianexpress.com“We attend school on alternate days. So the days when my sister attends school, I handle business and vice-versa. The authorities of Seth Anandram Jaipuria School have been supportive all through this shift. My mother was my only guide and support. Even after she left, her motivating words stayed with me and I scored 89 per cent in Class 10 board exams,” he added.Dropped a year after school only to emerge strongerJodhpur’s Raj Rathi lost both his parents to Covid-19 in 2021. Despite going through a rough phase, Raj scored 96.4 per cent in Class 12 board exams.“My parents always guided me to work hard but never pressured me into taking up any particular subject. Their demise took a toll on my mental health and this is when I decided to take a break for a year. I stayed with my elder siblings all this while and in December 2021, I started preparing for CLAT. I enrolled with Toprankers for coaching who supported me both academically and financially,” Raj shared.He cleared the CLAT 2022 with AIR 516 and got admission to one of the two colleges he was aiming to join. “I wanted to either join NALSAR Hyderabad or Gujarat National Law University. With a good score, I was accepted at GNLU along with a scholarship to support my college fees. Once I complete my integrated BBA-LLB degree, I would want to be a corporate lawyer,” he added.Student by day… security guard by nightAfter his father’s demise in May 2021, 18-year-old Vikash Kumar was caught in thoughts of livelihood and caregiving. With a family of six to support, Vikash’s mother took up odd jobs to educate and feed her children. “I passed Class 12 in 2021 and wanted to pursue engineering. But as my father passed away, the financial instability forced me to look for alternatives. That’s when Priya didi from Parkshala NGO guided me to pursue BCA and also took all financial burden away. I am now in the second year of BCA at IMT Greater Noida,” Vikash said.However, life after his father’s death has not been easy for Vikash and his family who live on rent in a one-room house in Noida. “The rent is high and with a family of six, it gets difficult for my mother to feed all of us. So I took up a job as a helper with Cancercare Trust NGO and later as a security guard at an office. It at least helps in paying off the house rent,” he shared.Lost both parents, a friend came to rescueFor 15-year-old Aryan Sanjay Kandekar, life changed after he lost both his parents to Covid within a span of five months last year. Aryan then took shelter at his grandmother’s dilapidated home in Beed, Maharashtra. Currently studying in Class 10, Aryan wants to be a bank manager once he grows up. “Covid years were tough for me both personally and academically. As classes were conducted online, I missed most of my tutorials in the initial months after my father passed away. But my friend came to my rescue and we attended online classes through his mother’s mobile phone. I am grateful for his family who let me study with him. I want to study hard and earn well so that I never have to depend on anyone financially,” he said.Till 2020, Aryan attended speech therapy to treat stuttering but after losing both parents to Covid, he has no financial resources left to continue the therapy. “My grandmother is not aware of my treatment needs, nor do I want to trouble her with an additional burden. She spends most of her pension on my studies, books, and other essentials. The stammer is now an identity for me and I have accepted it. My friends and teachers are supportive and patient with me which encourages me to not see this as a shortfall,” Aryan said.‘Will fulfill my father’s dream’“My father always wanted to be a doctor but he couldn’t due to financial constraints. I will fulfill his dreams,” said 15-year-old Shikha Verma, a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Lucknow who lost her father to Covid during the second-wave of pandemic.“My father used to work as a receptionist with Javitri Hospital and he lost his life during Covid while saving the lives of others. His sacrifice is an inspiration for me and I want to fulfill his dream. My classmates and teachers have been most supportive during this phase. They made sure that none of the students dropped out of school after losing their parents and also offered to pay school fees. Because of their efforts, I was able to score 76 per cent in board exams,” she said.Shikha was preparing for NEET since Class 10 but had to discontinue coaching classes due to financial constraints. “I live in a joint family and my uncle sponsors my school education. Both my elder brothers are currently in college so there is no earning member in the immediate family. It might get tough to take up coaching now but I will restart my preparation through online platforms and websites,” Verma said in high spirits.

Student by day, security guard by night — how children who lost parents to Covid are balancing life and school
Capex plans resume, Gujarat banks sanction most industrial projects
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

AHMEDABAD: As industries bounced back after the adverse impact of Covid-19, Gujarat accounted for the highest number of projects being sanctioned by the government in a slew of industrial sectors. According to data compiled by the Central Bank, 83 new projects worth an estimated Rs 17,000 crore were sanctioned by banks across the state in 2021-22. This is the second-highest number of projects sanctioned over the past decade, the highest being 102 projects in 2016-17. Stalled expansion and capital expenditure plans have led to an increase in capex plans. This is particularly true for sectors such as specialty chemicals, renewable energy, ceramics, and automobiles, among others, according to bankers. Capital expenditure (capex) of the private corporate sector plays a significant role in driving the overall investment climate in the economy, according to the RBI. Industry players attribute the growth in fresh capex to rise in exports and emergence of sunrise sectors. Chintan Thaker, chairman, Assocham Gujarat State Council, said, "There was a lull for about a year due to Covid-19. However, lot of projects that were on the verge of execution just ahead of Covid-19 but had to be shelved then, are finally taking off. Exports have significantly grown for Indian manufacturers in many sectors, especially since Covid-19 due to the China+1 approach adopted by the US and Europe-based companies. This has called for adding fresh capacities through greenfield and brownfield investments." "At the same time, emerging sectors such as IT/ ITes, Data, Renewable Energy are also gaining interest of investors. This is further fuelled by a slew of incentives rolled out by both the state and the central governments. As a consequence, Gujarat has once again emerged as a focal point. In addition to big corporates, even MSMEs are making fresh investments in core manufacturing and as ancillaries too," said a city-based industrialist.

Capex plans resume, Gujarat banks sanction most industrial projects
Changing candidates won’t heal Morbi and Covid pandemic wounds: Congress after BJP Gujarat poll list
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

Criticising the BJP for dropping senior leaders from its first list of candidates for the December Gujarat Assembly elections, the Congress party Thursday said changing nominees will neither heal the wounds of the people of Morbi nor will it help hide the corruption and government inaction during the coronavirus pandemic.Pointing out that as many as 38 sitting MLAs and current ministers didn’t figure in the BJP’s list, Alok Sharma, the Congress national spokesperson, said “You already know that the entire council of ministers of the Rupani government was changed. Today, all the ministers of that government didn’t figure on this list. First, your government failed during the Covid pandemic and your cabinet kept people in the dark and could not provide even the basic facilities. Then, you changed the entire council of ministers, and today some of the new council of ministers have been dropped. It only means that the government has not done any work.”રાષ્ટ્રીય પ્રવક્તા શ્રી આલોક શર્માજી અમદાવાદ ખાતે પત્રકાર પરિષદને સંબોધન https://t.co/0FafENXisg— Gujarat Congress (@INCGujarat) November 10, 2022Sharma was referring to Vijay Rupani, Nitin Patel, R C Faldu, Bhupendra Chudasma, Kaushik Patel, Saurabh Patel, Ganpat Vasava, Anil Parmar, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, Vibhavari Dave, and Yogesh Patel who did not find a place in the BJP candidates’ list.“By changing the candidate in Morbi, you cannot heal the wounds caused by the bridge collapse,” Sharma said adding that the BJP has also nominated a candidate who was recently released from jail. “By changing the ministers, you cannot hide corruption. By changing the MLAs, you cannot hide the fact that you failed to provide even oxygen during the Covid pandemic,” he added.Brijesh Merja, the Morbi MLA and a minister in the Bhupendra Patel government, has been dropped and Kanti Amrutiya, whose purported videos of rescuing people during the Morbi bridge tragedy went viral, has been nominated.The Congress spokesperson also pointed out that the BJP MLAs who won with huge margins in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly election have also been dropped. “Pradip Parmar who won with more than 50000 votes, Pradeepsinh Jadeja who won with one lakh votes, and Rajendra Trivedi with a victory margin of 40000 votes have all been dropped. Nimaben Acharya who was the Speaker was also cut. Arvind Riyani and RC Makwana have been forced to sit at their homes. You (BJP) had a report which said all of them were losing,” Sharma claimed.Questioning the stability of the BJP government, he asked, “In six years, you had three chief ministers, two ministers… About 20 people on this list are those who have quit the Congress and joined the BJP”.The Gujarat Assembly election will be conducted in two phases on December 1 and December 5 to elect 182 members. Votes will be counted on December 8.

Changing candidates won’t heal Morbi and Covid pandemic wounds: Congress after BJP Gujarat poll list
Car, two-wheeler sales buoyed by festivals
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

Ahmedabad: Dealers across Gujarat rejoiced as festive lights truly shone over automobile demand with 31,597 cars and 1.15 lakh two-wheelers being retailed across the state in October alone. However, the buoyancy wasn’t enough to surpass the pre-Covid festive season sales of vehicles. According to the data of Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Association (FADA), Gujarat, 1.42 lakh two-wheelers and 33,251 cars were retailed three years ago, in October 2019.This means that against the pre-Covid period, two-wheeler sales were down by 18.7% and car sales were down by 5%. Across India, however, two-wheeler sales in October grew by a marginal 6% against October 2019 figures.“With both Navratri and Diwali falling in a single month, the month of October saw double footfalls at dealerships,” FADA stated. “Dealers say that sentiments have also started improving at the rural level but they need to sustain for at least the next 3-4 months. Apart from this, new launches and good customer schemes also played a pivotal role in helping revival in demand.”Car dealerships continued to see extremely high demand especially in SUV and compact SUV segments, and higher-end variants in most product categories. “With better vehicle availability coupled with new launches, the segment also witnessed the best festive period in a decade,” FADA stated.The entry-level car demand, however, continued to remain muted in the Gujarat market, and even across the country according to dealers.During the festive period, even though semiconductor shortages continued to hamper the supply chain, dealers had 30-45 days of average inventory, according to industry sources. Commenting on the near-term outlook, FADA said: “With festivities ending, the immediate next month generally witnesses a certain amount of softness in sales.” FADA added: “While farmers will start receiving their crop realizations, the overall sentiment continues to show some headwinds especially in the 2W rural segment.”

Car, two-wheeler sales buoyed by festivals
Gujarat was there before Modi, will be there even after him: Asaduddin Owaisi
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi Sunday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the BJP’s new campaign slogan “Aa Gujarat Me Banavyu Chhe (I have made this Gujarat)” and the Morbi bridge collapse, which killed 135 people.Campaigning for the AIMIM’s Jamalpur candidate Sabir Kabliwala at Mirzapur in Ahmedabad ahead of the Legislative Assembly polls, Owaisi said, “He (PM Modi) is saying he has made Gujarat. Is it that Gujarat had nothing before he became the chief minister? Did Gujarat not exist? This Gujarat was made by Saurashtra’s women, Dangs, Adivasis, Vadgam Dalits, Bannis cattle grazers (maldharis) and fishermen. Gujarat was there before, is there, and will be there even after Modi….Yes, he did make one thing in Gujarat and that is he made the Morbi bridge which killed 150 (135). Aapne Gujarat ko nahi banaya, aapne Gujarat ke janta ko bewaqoof banaya (You did not make Gujarat, but you made fools of the Gujarat public). You showed an illusion and Morbi’s bridge (collapse happened). You say you have made Gujarat? Who is responsible for the bridge collapse? We expect the country’s prime minister will also remember the Morbi bridge… You have only made fools of us….”Commending Taufeeq and Hussain, two youths from Morbi who had assisted in the rescue operations to save lives after the bridge collapse, Owaisi posed questions on the implementation of the Disturbed Areas Act. “I want to ask the PM and the BJP if Husainbhai and Taufeeqbhai can buy any house in Gujarat. You have imposed Disturbed Areas Act, and they can’t… Can the BJP assure Husainbhai and Taufeeqbhai that if their children are held on false charges of stone pelting, they won’t be brought into the public for flogging? Today can the BJP assure that when the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is recorded, Taufeeqbhai and Husainbhai will not be asked to prove their citizenship? You say you have made Gujarat but your government released the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case. When we raise these issues, we are told that Owaisi gives divisive speeches. I’ve not spoken against any religion. Neither the AAP talks about Bilkis Bano. Who goes and talks to Zakia Jafri?”Owaisi attacked Kabliwala’s former party Congress too. The Jamalpur constituency is presently held by Imran Khedawala of the Congress. “If anyone can stop the BJP in Jamalpur, it is Sabirbhai…The troubles that the people of Jamalpur, especially in Mirzapur, face, we will try to fix these. Gujarat has 36 slaughterhouses, of which 32 have been closed and only four are working. I want to assure you that in the coming Assembly elections if you make Sabirbhai successful, your Sabirbhai will solve the issues that our Qureshbhais (the butcher community) are facing in their slaughterhouses and its business…Our aim to fight the Assembly elections is so that your voice reaches the Vidhan Sabha, there is an Opposition that fearlessly works for the issues being faced here… Some will say that Sabirbhai was voted from here earlier, then what is the difference between then and now. There is a big difference that Sabirbhai’s voice will not be controlled by the Congress or some other party…Sabirbhai will reopen factories that have been closed,” he said.“People say that when the AIMIM contests, the BJP benefits. For 27 years, the BJP has been successful and the AIMIM is fighting the Gujarat assembly elections for the first time. So then tell me, the Congress party you voted for, was it hand in gloves with the BJP, or did it strike a deal with the BJP? You voted for the Congress but what did it do for you? It could not stop the BJP from winning. I am saying with full responsibility that stopping a party from coming to power is not our responsibility, but it is our responsibility that we in our strength use our vote and make a voice of ours reach Vidhan Sabha…. This is the same Congress from which 12 MLAs switched sides to the BJP. Congress is the godown and BJP is the showroom. They move from the godown to be in the showroom,” said Owaisi.Not sparing the AAP and its chief Arvind Kejriwal, Owaisi added, “There is a new party called the AAP. When Covid-19 started in Delhi, this ‘chhota recharge’ accused the Tablighi Jamaat of spreading Covid so that they could be defamed. The matter went to the court which said these were baseless allegations. When riots were happening in Delhi, burning houses and killing people, where was this Delhi CM? Instead of pacifying anger, he went to Delhi’s Raj Ghat to sit in silence. Today they claim a lot of big things but go to Okhla in Delhi where fires are burning in the garbage pile and they do nothing about it. This ‘chhota recharge’, when they were asked to speak on Bilkis Bano, they said ‘we won’t talk on Bilkis Bano’…This ‘chhota recharge’ is basically saying ‘I’m a smaller version of Modi and now I want to be a bigger version of Modi’. He is following in the BJP’s footsteps… If you vote for the Congress or the AAP, the BJP will benefit,” Owaisi added.

Gujarat was there before Modi, will be there even after him: Asaduddin Owaisi
Pushing right buttons: In Gujarat, politicians vie for entrepreneurs’ mandate
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

In the political discourse of Gujarat, businessmen have always had their say. Historically, dissent from traders and industrialists never augured well for the state administration and therefore, the government is compelled to ensure ease of doing business here. TOI maps the industry’s concerns ahead of the assembly election.In the political landscape of Gujarat, known as the land of entrepreneurs, the voice of the business community has reverberated loud and clear. Business and politics have typically moved hand in hand here, and entrepreneurs are the bedrock of support for the ruling party, which has retained power for 27 years and is now eyeing its seventh straight win. Ahead of the 2017 assembly poll, protests, shutdowns, and demonstrations over a series of business-related issues rocked business clusters here, keeping both the BJP and the Congress on the vigil, eyeing and pouncing on any opportunity to sway votes in their favour. The 2022 assembly election in Gujarat is no different. In the run-up to the assembly election here, the BJP-led state government announced a slew of incentives for industries, announcing new policies for IT/ITes, electronics, semiconductor manufacturing and other industrial sectors to support fresh investments while ironing out issues of the industries on priority, including the demand for new clusters and better infrastructure. On the other hand, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is try- ing hard to make inroads into Gujarat after its victory in Delhi and Punjab, conducted elaborate discussions with traders and industrialists by organizing three town halls in Saurashtra, South Gujarat and Central Gujarat. The party dished out promises of corruption-free governance, abolition of the alleged ‘Raid Raj’ and ‘Licence Raj’ and even providing GST refunds and settlement of disputes of the VAT regime. This time around, a series of issues pertaining to taxation, policies and infrastructure too are looming over various constituencies. Asked whether the industry is willing to give a new political regime a chance, industrialists and traders revealed that the dissent remains, but the absence of a strong opposition party is equally a concern. Battleground Surat: GST rollout and agitations in 2017In 2017, fierce demonstrations and agitations by the disgruntled weavers, diamond polishers and textile makers rocked markets in Surat. Dissent brewed when small traders and businesses were forced to shut shop, people lost their jobs, and businesses in both diamond and textile sectors battled heavy compliance burden and eroding working capital following GST rollout. The opposition Congress tried its best to cash in on the dissent by stirring emotions to garner support in a constituency home to Patidar voters — a business community — and a sizable population of migrant workers. Yet, the voters reposed their faith in the BJP. Based on lessons from the past, this year, the government has heeded to most demands of the industrialists on priority, be it issuing new power connections or keeping rates for input tax credit (ITC) for GST unchanged. “Our plea to keep ITC refund at 12% was accepted by the Centre,” said Ashok Jirawala, president, Federation of Gujarat Weaver’s Welfare Association (FOGWWA). For additional power, Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company Limited (DGVCL) is expediting infrastructure development in Sayan. A Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel (MITRA) park is slated to come up near Maroli. Diamond units, however, still face troubles in getting new power connections. “Lab-grown diamond units are power intensive but applications for new connections remain pending for up to two months,” said a diamond industrialist. Effluent discharge: Tumultuous times for textile tradersTextile processing units and chemical industries in Ahmedabad have probably seen the most tumultuous times in the past one year. Barely when businesses began crawling out of the shadow of Covid-19, a scrimmage between the civic authorities in Ahmedabad and industries over effluent discharge led to the closure of 600 textile processing units. This left the industrialists sullen with dissent. “Necessary environment clearances were obtained when we started our units, and the civic body had given us permission to operate. Our factories were shut overnight citing we did not meet effluentdischarge norms. In the past 11 months since closure, at least 1 lakh workers have lost their jobs. We continue to incur fixed costs sans income and even as we were dragged to the court the government failed to support us,” said an officebearer of Ahmedabad Hand Screen Printing Association. In fact, without any assistance from the government, the industry players have set up a common effluent treatment plant at their expense to be able to operationalize their factories. Most of the units which have been shut fall in the Jamalpur-Khadia assembly constituency. “We have suffered for a year and this will be our deciding factor for the election. Our pleas fell on deaf ears,” the member further said. GST rate revision a pain point for submersible pump makersFive years down the line, GST rate rationalization continues to remain a key concern among industry players and more so, when inflation pressures are plenty and competitiveness is affected. Submersible pump manufacturers and makers of kitchenware were brought under 18% slab of GST from 12% in the recent rate revision. “If the government cannot rationalize tax rates, they should not increase the tax burden on industries. Several products are kept under a higher tax slab which is affecting industry competitiveness,” said the head of an industry body. Representatives of Rajkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) had also met Union home minister, Amit Shah, with a charter of demands related to taxation and infrastructure development. Industry players also met state representatives. “Despite positive response by the government, barely has any action been taken,” a source said. Industry players expect parties to address their concerns over GST rates and inflation in their manifesto for the upcoming poll. Industrial units demand a level playing fieldBusinesses operational in industrial estates developed by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) have alleged they have been treated unfairly compared to foreign players. Ajit Shah, president, Sanand Industries Association (SIA), said, “We don’t mind foreign players being given expedited clearances and better incentives. However, we also expect that the same treatment is given to MSMEs and other local industrial units investing in GIDC estates. ” Besides this, infrastructure concerns and double taxation in GIDCs were key concerns, which have recently been resolved by the government. Though disenchanted with the government’s attitude, the industry isn’t eyeing an immediate regime change. “We have some issues but overall, the business community favours the current regime as it is industry-friendly. Policies of other parties are still not clear,” a Vadodara-based industrialist said. The industry here feels that Vadodara is neglected in terms of infrastructure and flight connectivity when compared to other major cities of Gujarat. Traders, MSMEs seek credit supportTwo years after Covid-19, eroding working capital driven by low demand and stretched payment cycles was the banes of MSMEs. Though the state and the central governments rolled out emergency credit to support small businesses after Covid-19, industries and retailers are seeking continued support. “Small businesses have battled a series of disruptions in terms of rising raw material prices, depreciating rupee, economic uncertainty, and inflation. So, credit support is mainstay. Though the government has made credit provisions, bank credit availability is a concern. The government is yet to address this issue,” said Pathik Patwari, president, Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI). (With inputs from Yagnesh Mehta in Surat; Nimesh Khakhariya in Rajkot & Tushar Tere in Vadodara)

Pushing right buttons: In Gujarat, politicians vie for entrepreneurs’ mandate
Maharashtra student enrolments improved by 74,856; positive signs after a sharp drop during COVID school closure period: U-DISE report
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

Student enrolments in both private as well as government-aided schools in Maharashtra saw a slight improvement during the year 2021-22, showing signs of recovery after the sharp drop in enrolments during the COVID-19 period. The Unified District System for Education Plus (UDISE+) report which was released on Friday morning for all states showed that 2,25,86,695 students from pre-primary to Class 12 were enrolled in 1.09 lakh schools in Maharashtra, an improvement of 74,856 as compared to student enrolment numbers during the years 2019-2020 and 2020-21, the years of extended school closures and shift to online education, during the pandemic.The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had brought with it multiple issues in the education sector such as disparity in access to devices and Internet facility for online education, inability by parents to pay fees due to financial constraints which had an adverse effect on student enrolment numbers, reflected in U-DISE report for 2020-21, which showed 2,25,11,839 students were enrolled from pre-primary to Class 12 in that year compared to 2,30,54,357, in 2019-2020, indicating a drop of 5.42 lakh students.One of the reasons for the improvement could be the use of technology for teaching which enabled teachers to conduct remote classes as well as bring innovations in teaching. In terms of technology, Maharashtra schools lead the country revealed U-DISE data as it had the highest number of computers being used for pedagogical purposes – 27,327 in 1.09 lakh schools.According to the latest report of 2021-2022, 48 per cent or nearly one in two schools had an internet connection, a sharp improvement from the last U-DISE report, in which only 36 percent schools had internet facility. It means in one year alone, internet facility expanded to 12 per cent of the 1.09 lakh schools in Maharashtra. In terms of management, the latest U-DISE report showed that 85.6 per cent private unaided schools in Maharashtra had internet connections, a slight improvement from last year when the same percentage was 83. However, the disparity between government and private schools seem to have lessened as compared to 11.82 percent government-run schools which had Internet access last year was 28.3 percent in the latest reportAmongst the other indicators of the U-DISE report, was that 95 percent schools in Maharashtra had electricity connection but only in 85 percent schools, the electricity connection was functional.

Maharashtra student enrolments improved by 74,856; positive signs after a sharp drop during COVID school closure period: U-DISE report
To vote or knot? 35k weddings in first week of December in Gujarat
Times of India | 3 weeks ago | |
Times of India
3 weeks ago | |

NEW DELHI: With voting for the state assembly elections scheduled for December 1 and 5, in two phases, it is expected that voter turnout may be low as it coincides with the wedding season. According to almanagists and wedding pandits, some 35,000 weddings are expected to take place around these voting days i.e. from December 1 to 5. This may, according to almanagists, result in lower voter turnout as people may be occupied or travelling. The wedding season begins on November 22 after which at least 80,000 weddings are slated to be held across Gujarat till the kamurta period begins on December 13. Rajendra Dave, who compiles almanacs, said, “The dates of December 2, 4 and 8 are among the most auspicious ones. At least 15,000 weddings are expected to be held on each of these days in Gujarat. Since these wedding dates are just after or before voting days of December 1 and 5, people who are travelling may not be able to make it in time to vote.” This year, as Covid-related restrictions such as night curfew and limits on gatherings have been lifted, the number of weddings to be organised has risen sharply. “The backlog of the past two years has poured into this November-December wedding season and people who did not organise functions due to the pandemic have now planned them. From December 1-4, most wedding venues across Ahmedabad are fully booked,” said Pintoo Dandwala, director of an event management firm. The situation is similar in Surat, where at least 200 ceremonies are expected to be held on each muhurat day of December in the city. “All wedding venues in the city are fully booked for December,” said Nirav Desai, chief of South Gujarat Event Management Association. This year, as Covid-related restrictions have been lifted, the number of weddings to be organised has risen sharply.

To vote or knot? 35k weddings in first week of December in Gujarat
  • Wedding season: High demand, gold tie the knot in Gujarat
  • Times of India

    AHMEDABAD: With the wedding season coming up in a fortnight and buoyed by the festival in October, gold demand has surpassed pre-Covid levels. According to the data of Ahmedabad Air Cargo Complex (AACC), yellow metal imports stood at 8.32 MT in October this year. From April to October this year, 29.8 MT of gold was imported into Gujarat, up 17% as compared to the pre-Covid period in 2019. Against last year, yellow metal imports have surged 50% already in little over the first half of the year. Jewellers and bullion traders attribute the numbers to the low price of gold, an upbeat demand for jewellery in the run-up to the wedding season, and brisk muhurat purchases. Explaining the price trend, Haresh Acharya, director, India Bullion and Jewellers' Association (IBJA), said: "Gold prices have remained favourable over the past one month, continuing to remain stable around Rs 52,000 per 10 gram mark, except for a temporary spike early in October." He added: "With the US Federal Reserve as well as RBI meetings in the offing, gold prices are stable. Moreover, consumer sentiment was upbeat during the festive muhurats of Dussehra, Pushya Nakshatra, and Dhanteras in Gujarat with gold sales clocking 400kg in a single day on each of those occasions. As a result, gold sales are good and imports are high." In the coming months, yellow metal imports are expected to be robust due to a large number of weddings, according to industry sources. Manoj Soni, a city-based jeweller, said: "The number of weddings are very high with several muhurats. People who did not want to plan weddings last year or the year before amid Covid-19 restrictions are organizing them now and as a result, the pent-up demand is fairly high." He added: "The sales of wedding jewellery and even lightweight jewellery are high." In the entire second quarter of 2022-23, from July to September, gold sales across India grew 17%, according to the data of World Gold Council (WGC). The growth in gold sales in Gujarat too is on similar lines. This is certainly less than the 28% growth in the global gold demand. Yet, geopolitical and economic uncertainties kept gold demand up during the year. "Gold continued to hold favour with retail investors who reacted to different market cues and turned to gold for its status as a store of value amidst rampant inflation and geopolitical uncertainty," states the recently issued World Gold Council report on Gold Demand Trends. The report adds: "Investors sought to hedge inflation with bar and coin investment, driving total retail demand up 36% during the quarter as compared to the corresponding quarter." The free trade warehousing zone at GIFT City and the operationalization of the bullion exchange are the other factors driving yellow metal trading through the Gujarat route. Somasundaram P R, regional CEO India, WGC, said: "Indian retail investment is likely to continue to benefit from safe-haven demand amid rising interest rates and a weakening rupee." "Our gold demand estimate for the full year is around 750-800 tonnes, similar to last year across India," he further said.

Anupam Kher says Bollywood is not faced with any negativity: ‘My films did well, I am riding on Rs 480 cr right now’
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

Actor Anupam Kher says the Hindi film industry is going through a transitory period currently as the post-Covid movie watching audience can see through films which they find “fake”. The actor, who has been in the industry for nearly four decades and has been a part of more than 500 films, says it is time for artistes to pause and “rethink” how they want to procced.This year, only a handful of Hindi films have worked at the box office, including Kher’s The Kashmir Files, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Brahmastra, with biggies like Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar faring poorly at the box office.When asked if there is anything the Hindi film industry is not getting right, Kher told indianexpress.com, “I think people have changed in the last two years. With the Covid and lockdown, the audience has gone through a change. Anything that is fake doesn’t touch them, anything that is real, they will go for it.“It is a good churning for us. We need to rethink. People have gone through their own tragedy, trauma, fears. So, they won’t like anything fake today. If is film is made with honesty, from the heart, it will resonate with the audience. In these two years, they also got to see a lot of world cinema. They have a choice now.”  A post shared by Anupam Kher (@anupampkher)Citing an example of his own film Uunchai, Kher said the film’s trailer was received well, sans any negativity. The upcoming Sooraj Barjatya directorial also stars Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani and Parineeti Chopra among others.“Today, whatever we post, there is some negative comment. But for Uunchai, I didn’t see a single negative comment. No one even wrote, ‘Ye teen buddhe kya karege’ (What will these three old men do in a film). This is the purity of the film which has reached out. People have understood ‘ye bande sahi hai’ (These guys are nice). This is instinctive.”While the Hindi film industry is battling poor box office, it is also routinely subjected to social media hate. Aamir’s Laal Singh Chaddha, Ranbir Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer Brahmastra, Akshay Kumar’s Raksha Bandha braved intense online negativity. When asked if he senses that the industry is up against a lot of negativity, Kher said, “I don’t think. It is a great churning period and at the end of it, it will benefit Hindi cinema.”Kher said this year, two of his films have emerged as blockbusters, with The Kashmir Files clocking Rs 350 crore and the Telugu mystery-adventure Karthikeya 2 earning Rs 130 crore. The Kashmir Files, which chronicled the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley during the early phase of the armed insurgency, received strong political support with several states, including Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, declaring it tax-free.“If it is a good film, it will do well. Karthikeya 2 is the biggest example. It opened in 50 cinema halls in Hindi and by the end, it reached 2000 screens. Same with Kantara. Why is it happening? Because it is something genuine. If you look at it, and I say it proudly, The Kashmir Files did Rs 350 cr, Karthikeya 2 did 130 crore. I am riding on Rs 480 crore right now! So, I am rocking,” he added.

Anupam Kher says Bollywood is not faced with any negativity: ‘My films did well, I am riding on Rs 480 cr right now’
BJP leader Jaynarayan Vyas meets Ashok Gehlot, says it was to discuss about ‘Narmada, Covid’
The Indian Express | 4 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
4 weeks ago | |

Senior BJP leader and former minister when Narendra Modi was Gujarat chief minister, Jaynarayan Vyas, met Rajasthan Chief Minister and senior observer in charge of Gujarat, Ashok Gehlot in Ahmedabad on Saturday, creating a buzz in the political circles.Vyas, 75, who was former health minister in the Modi cabinet, and has held portfolios of Narmada and water resources, told The Indian Express that he sought an appointment with Gehlot “about a month ago” to discuss their success with the harnessing of Narmada waters and Covid-19 management that had won praises from the World Health Organisation (WHO).Gehlot, who is camping in Gujarat, called him up Saturday morning to meet, said Vyas.Asked about the possibility of him joining the Congress, Vyas said, “I have staked claim to contest from my former seat in Sidhpur, and now it is up to the parliamentary board to decide… I trust my party where I have spent almost three decades…”According to Vyas, many surveys had shown him as the most popular candidate for the Sidhpur seat in Patan district, which is his hometown, from where he has contested seven times, winning four times. However, Vyas could not retain the seat in 2017.“In the end, one must listen to one’s inner voice,” the former minister who is an IITian, told this paper.Vyas said, “I met Gehlot to basically understand how Rajasthan had successfully irrigated 2.5 lakh acres of land with 0.5 MAF share of Narmada waters and was told it was largely because of the drip irrigation technology, which I feel Gujarat should also employ.”He said that he also wanted to understand Rajasthan’s Covid management where waiting period for the ambulances was minimised by setting up a transit drop off point where the infected patient’s primary treatment would begin before admission to a hospital.However, Vyas, who was minister from 2007 to 2012, is known to be unhappy in the BJP. In June 2021, when Vyas was recuperating after a heart surgery, he tweeted saying he got a call from BJP headquarters Kamalam to attend a meeting. He wrote, “…In past if u were slight unwell, senior most party bosses would ask about your health or drop in. I am in a hospital with by pass surgery the entire world knows except the Kamalam kid ! Party has definitely changed!!”

BJP leader Jaynarayan Vyas meets Ashok Gehlot, says it was to discuss about ‘Narmada, Covid’