Officials at the local hospital where the bodies were kept.Ahmedabad: Two paramilitary jawans forces were shot dead and two others injured in the firing by one of their colleagues near Porbandar in Gujarat, where they were stationed for election duty ahead of next month's assembly polls.The men were not on active duty when they got into a fight in the evening that escalated and shots were fired from an AK-47 rifle, it is learnt. They were part of an India Reserve Battalion (IRB) from Manipur and deputed in Gujarat besides the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), said Porbandar Collector and District Election Officer AM Sharma. It's being investigated as to what led to the clash.The two injured jawans — one shot in the stomach, the other in the leg — were taken to the Probandar general hospital from where they were being shifted to a hospital in Jamnagar, about 150 km away, for advanced treatment.The police report identified the accused as Constable S Inauchashingh, and the two men killed as jawans Thoiba Singh and Jitendra Singh. The injured are constables Chorajit and Rohikana. All of them belong to Manipur.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThey were staying inside a cyclone centre in Tukda Gosa village, about 25 km from Porbandar.Voting in the Porbandar district will be held on December 1 in the first phase, while the second phase is on December 5, and results on the 8th.
Two jawans of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were shot dead and two others injured during a clash that erupted between the personnel in Gujarat’s Porbandar district, where they were posted for election duty.The incident took place around 7 pm at a cyclone relief centre at Tukada Gosa near Nava Bandar that is currently being used as a shelter for the visiting CAPF jawans.“They had come to provide security during the upcoming elections. There was internal firing and two died while two others were injured,” A M Sharma, district collector and district election officer for Porbandar, told The Indian Express.“I am currently at the hospital where the two injured persons are being treated. They are safe,” Sharma added.The injured were brought to Bhavsinghji hospital at Porbandar. When asked about the reason behind the firing, the official said the cause was still being investigated.
NEW DELHI: Two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers were killed and two others were injured after their colleague opened fire at them in Gujarat's Porbandar. Porbandar collector and district election officer, A M Sharma, said all the jawans connected to the incident belong to a CRPF battalion from Manipur. They were sent here by the Election Commission ahead of the next month's Gujarat assembly elections, he added. Voting in the Porbandar district will be held on December 1 in the first phase of the state polls. The jawans were staying inside a cyclone centre in Tukda Gosa village, about 25 km from Porbandar. The centre is being used as a shelter for the visiting CRPF jawans. "A jawan opened fire at his colleagues with his assault rifle over some unknown issue on Saturday evening. While two jawans died on the spot, two others were injured. They were shifted to a hospital in Jamnagar. One of them received a bullet injury in his stomach and the other was hit on his leg," Sharma said, adding that further investigation will be carried out by the police. (With inputs from PTI)
The assembly election in Gujarat is likely to shape the future course of Indian politics: It is going to test the Congress’s resolve towards electoral revival, show whether the Aam Aadmi Party’s attempt to expand its footprint is yielding results and whether Brand Modi and Hindutva remain valuable electoral capital for the BJP. Of course, caste-based social engineering is all too prevalent in Gujarat. However, there are a set of factors related to emotional connections that play an important role in influencing election outcomes.The first such factor is “Brand Modi”. The image of PM Modi is synonymous with Gujarati pride. His presence as the prime minister has created a sub-nationalist assertion within the broader framework of Indian nationalism in Gujarat. This emotional thread is going to shape the election outcome more than any organisational or party-centred efforts. The image of Modi is omnipresent — in the media, in rallies, and imprinted on development initiatives promoted by the Centre. It is talked about in the tribal areas of the Dangs as well as in cosmopolitan cities including Ahmedabad and Vadodara. The narrative around Brand Modi has been contested by the Opposition, of course, but it hardly figures in the conversation or does not seem powerful enough to dent the electoral capital it has generated.A second factor is the “Hindutva aspiration” that provides an emotional basis for political connection. The BJP’s efforts to enhance Hindu pride by constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya, renovation of the Kashi-Vishwanath temple corridor, and other mega symbols of Hindutva pride have a resonance on the ground. The BJP’s ability to do cultural politics is unmatched; its impact in reshaping hearts and minds is often ignored by political analysts. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal seems to have recognised the import of this aspect, which is evident in his attempts to carve out a niche within this space by demanding that currency notes carry images of Hindu deities, Lakshmi and Ganesha. However, for cultural politics around Hindutva symbols to work, mere hyperbolic assertions are not enough; continuous and deep groundwork is needed for the claims and slogans to sound authentic.A third invisible factor is the political kinship within the cooperative movement. Politics and the cooperative movement were always connected. However, the BJP has now replaced the Congress as the dominant player in the cooperative movement, which provides cadres and influencers to political parties. The BJP rose in Gujarat by weakening the Congress’s influence among the cooperatives. As the Union minister for cooperatives, Amit Shah has been engaging with producers, the market and mandi.A fourth factor that is enabling electoral mobilisations is linked to aspirations — one related to development and the other to dhanda (business). All political parties compete to tap these aspirations but the BJP, by projecting itself as the party of government through its rhetoric on “double-engine”, has been way ahead of its rivals. The AAP is an opening for newcomers interested in a political career — most civil society activists see their political future in it. In fact, civil society actors are helping the AAP build the party organisation. The BJP and Hindutva groups too have made deep inroads among NGOs and sewabhavi groups. Interestingly, the AAP seems to be winning over Congress sympathisers. Earlier, the impression was that the rise of AAP would hurt the BJP.A strong party organisation is necessary to mobilise people around these factors. The BJP political machine is more powerful and efficient than any other. It is good at pooling resources and using all the inputs at its disposal to maximise outcomes. A good mix of seasoned organisers and mass leaders run the party election machine and the campaign. In contrast, the AAP campaign is focused on Arvind Kejriwal while the Congress campaign revolves around state leaders. The absence of Rahul Gandhi in the campaign is mentioned by Congress cadres and sympathisers. The BJP has sought to diminish the anti-incumbency sentiment by replacing a large number of sitting MLAs, including senior leaders.However, elections have a logic of their own and are prone to throw up small and big surprises. In Gujarat, what factors influence the outcome are worth watching.The writer is professor, Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad
These Gujarat politicians have been victorious not merely in elections, but also in earning the confidence of generations of voters. Himanshu Kaushik profiles leaders who have won more than three assembly polls since the state was carved out over 60 years ago. Mohansinh Rathava (10):This septuagenarian tribal strongman won his first assembly election in 1972. He represented the ST-reserved Jetpur and Chhota Udepur seats for 10 consecutive elections on Congress tickets. Earlier this month he joined the BJP. His son Rajendrasinh has received the BJP ticket for the 2022 poll. Rathava’s record of 10 assembly-election wins is unsurpassed. (Won: 1972, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2007, 2012, 2017) Ashok Bhatt (8):Ashok Bhatt, who held key positions in successive BJP governments, won polls eight times from his citadel, Khadia in Ahmedabad’s old city. His first victory came in 1975 and he handled several portfolios through his career. In 2008, he was appointed the assembly speaker and held that post till his death in 2010. His son Bhushan lacks Bhatt’s Midas touch, losing once from Khadia. (Won: 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007) Stalwarts with 7 winsChhotu Vasava:A fiery leader of the Bhil tribal community, Vasava, 77, is looking for his eighth straight win from the Jhagadia seat in Bharuch district, which he has represented from 1990 either on a JD or BTP ticket. Vasava has been a fierce advocate of rights of tribal communities and his fief has remained unbreachable for over three decades. (Won: 1990, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017) Pabubha Manek:This 66-year-old Mer community strongman is perhaps the only MLA to have won the Dwarka constituency as Congress, BJP, and independent candidate. He is seeking his eighth consecutive stint from the same seat. He was disqualified in 2019 by the HC for improper election affidavit. (Won: 1990, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017) Amarsinh Chaudhary:Gujarat’s first adivasi CM, Chaudhary headed the state government between 1985 and 1989. He quit a government job to win his first assembly election in 1970. He represented Radhanpur, Khedbrahma, and Vyara seats. Chaudhary also led the state unit of the Congress. He died in 2004. His son Tushar has been fielded from Khedbrahma by the Congress. (Won: 1972, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1995, 1998, 2002) Keshubhai Patel:The Patidar leader from Saurashtra won seven elections beginning 1975. His victories came on the tickets of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and the BJP, as well as on that of the Gujarat Parivartan Party which he founded in 2012. A member of the RSS since the 1940s. Patel was instrumental in the growth of the BJP in Gujarat. He was the CM twice. He succumbed to Covid complications at 92. (Won: 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2012) Vajubhai Vala:He was made the Rajkot mayor in the 1980s. He won his first assembly election in 1985 from Rajkot and never lost. He vacated the seat in 2002 to pave the way for Narendra Modi to contest his first assembly election. Vala, 75, has been a minister and the speaker. He was made Karnataka’s governor in 2014. (Won: 1985, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012) Victory streak over 6 pollsMadhavsinh Solanki:He ran the KHAM (Kshatriya Harijan Adivasi Muslim) social experiment in the state. He has been the CM and a central minister. His 1985 feat of leading the Congress to win 149 of the 182 seats remains unbroken. (Won: 1962, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990) Vitthal Radadiya:He won assembly polls six times and general elections twice. He represented Dhoraji in the assembly and Porbandar in the Lok Sabha. He moved from the BJP to the RJP to the Congress and again to the BJP. He died in 2019 of cancer. (Won: 1990, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012) Nitin Patel:He has been winning assembly elections since 1995 and has been a sixterm MLA. He has held several positions in successive BJP governments, including the post of deputy CM under Vijay Rupani. (Won: 1990, 1995, 1998, 2007, 2012, 2017) Mangubhai Patel:Beginning 1990, the tribal leader from south Gujarat won six consecutive assembly elections. While he won five times from Navsari, he entered the assembly for the sixth time from Gandevi. Patel held several portfolios in BJP governments and was the speaker too. He is now the MP governor. (Won: 1990, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012) Madhu Shrivastava:He is contesting as an independent candidate this time after being denied a ticket by the BJP. He has a sizable personal following in Vadodara and the surrounding areas and has been winning since 1995. Shrivastava’s combative style often ignites controversies, but has resulted in no major setback. (Won: 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017) Prevailing in 5 fightsAmit Shah:Union home minister Amit Shah has been camping in Gujarat for the past several weeks to oversee the BJP’s poll campaign. Born in Mumbai in 1964, he spent his childhood in his ancestral town of Mansa. He has been elected to the assembly from Sarkhej and Naranpura. He contested his first Lok Sabha election in 2019 from the prestigious Gandhinagar constituency. (Won: 1997 bypoll, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012) Chimanbhai Patel:He was the CM of both Congress and Janata Dal governments in different tenures. He is credited with successfully engineering the Kokam (Koli Kanbi Musim) social experiment to ride into power. Patel won assembly elections from Sankheda and Unjha. He died in 1994. (Won: 1967, 1972, 1980, 1985, 1990) Nimaben Acharya:Barring the 1998 assembly election, Acharya has won all her fights since 1995. A Kutch native, she has been a successful candidate for both the Congress and the BJP. She and her husband switched over from the Congress to the BJP in 2007. Acharya became the first woman speaker in September last year. She has not received the BJP ticket this time. (Won: 1995, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017) Champions 4 timesNarendra Modi:He contested his first election in February 2002 from Rajkot-II after being sworn in as the CM in October 2001. He won 2002, 2007, and 2012 assembly polls from Maninagar. His 14-year tenure as the CM is the longest in Gujarat. In 2014, he won Varanasi and Vadodara Lok Sabha seats and became the PM. In the 2019 general election, Varanasi reelected him. (Won: 2002 bypoll, 2002, 2007 and 2012) Anandiben Patel:She is the governor of Uttar Pradesh. She has won four assembly elections from Mandal, Patan, and Ghatlodia seats. She became the state’s first woman CM after Modi became the PM. She was replaced in the face of the Patidar reservation agitation. (Won: 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012)
The AIMIM will field 14 candidates in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls.New Delhi: Soon after Union Home Minister Amit Shah at a Gujarat election rally made his controversial "taught a lesson to rioters in 2002" comment, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi lashed out at him, saying his 'lessons' were in fact about letting criminals walk free.While addressing a public gathering at Juhapura, the largest Muslim neighbourhood in Gujarat, the AIMIM chief said, "Amit Shah today gave a statement during a public rally that they taught a lesson to the rioters of Gujarat in 2002 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) established permanent peace in the state. I want to tell the MP of this (Ahmedabad) constituency, Amit Shah, that the lesson you taught in 2002 was that Bilkis' rapists will be freed by you. The lesson you taught was that you will free the murderers of Bilkis' three-year-old daughter. You also taught us that Ahsan Jafri can be killed."In an impassioned speech, he also referred to the Gulbarg Society massacre, and the burning down of the Best Bakery in the 2002 communal frenzy that claimed over a thousand lives."How many of your lessons should we remember, Mr Amit Shah? But remember, teaching lessons is nothing, peace is strengthened when the wronged are given justice," he said.2002 mein Kaunsa sabaq sikhaya tha @amitshah? Naroda Patiya ka sabaq? Gulberg ka sabaq? Best Bakery ka sabaq? Bilqis Bano ka sabaq? pic.twitter.com/aV3hWC2Ab4— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) November 25, 2022Taking aim at the Home Minister, Mr Owaisi said that people forget when they get power that it has never always been with anyone. "Power will never be with any one person. One day, power will be snatched from everyone. Drunk on power, the Home Minister is today saying that we taught a lesson. What lesson did you teach? You became notorious in the entire country. What lesson did you teach that there were communal riots in Delhi?" he said.Amit Shah had on Thursday said that those responsible for the communal riots in Gujarat were "taught such a lesson" that the state has been peaceful for 22 years."During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society," Mr Shah said in Mahudha town of Kheda district."There have been many riots in Bharuch, curfew, violence. There was no room for development in Gujarat because of the chaos. In 2002, they tried to indulge in communal violence... we taught them such a lesson, we put them in jail. It's been 22 years, we have not put a curfew even once. BJP has done the work to bring the peace to a land that saw frequent communal riots," he said.The AIMIM will field 14 candidates in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe Gujarat assembly elections are scheduled to be held in two phases on December 1 and 5.Voting for 89 assembly seats will take place in the first phase, while for the remaining 93 assembly seats, voting will be held in the second phase of polling.
AHMEDABAD: Union home minister Amit Shah has claimed that BJP will win the coming Gujarat elections by a record margin, surpassing its previous best performances - both in terms of seats and vote share. "We shall break all our past records and and return to office once again with a thumping majority," Shah said. In an exclusive conversation with TOI here, Shah identified PM Narendra Modi's popularity and performance of the BJP governments as the main reasons for his confidence. He said while Modi enjoys goodwill everywhere, people of Gujarat share a special bond with him and that has grown stronger because of his performance as the PM. Battle of Gujarat is between Congress and BJP, says Amit ShahRead Also‘Gujarat’s bond with Modi has grown stronger because of his work… will help BJP win again’Union home minister Amit Shah, who has been campaigning extensively in Gujarat, is confident that the performance of successive BJP governments in the state and the growing affection for Prime Minister Narendra Modi will help BJP score an easy win there. In an exclusive conversation with TOI’sThe home minister dismissed the risk of "anti-incumbency" hurting BJP, which has been in office in Gujarat for 27 years now. "Our track record speaks for itself," he said, adding "pro-incumbency" is the dominant sentiment in the state. He noted that many issues BJP has raised since its Jan Sangh days have been resolved by the Modi government. Making light of AAP's challenge, Shah said BJP's fight in the Gujarat polls was still with Congress, which despite its problems consistently held on to a sizeable vote share in the state. The home minister was confident that AAP's 'politics of freebies' would not wash with Gujarat voters.
AHMEDABAD: Union home minister Amit Shah has claimed that BJP will win the coming Gujarat elections by a record margin, surpassing its previous best performances - both in terms of seats and vote share. "We shall break all our past records and and return to office once again with a thumping majority," Shah said. In an exclusive conversation with TOI in Ahmedabad, Shah identified PM Narendra Modi's popularity and performance of the BJP governments as the main reasons for his confidence. He said while Modi enjoys goodwill everywhere, people in Gujarat share a special bond with him and that has grown stronger because of his performance as the PM. The home minister dismissed the risk of "anti-incumbency" hurting BJP, which has been in office in Gujarat for 27 years now. "Our track record speaks for itself," he said, adding "pro-incumbency" is the dominant sentiment in the state. He noted that many issues BJP has raised since its Jan Sangh days have been resolved by the Modi government. Making light of AAP's challenge, Shah said BJP's fight in the Gujarat polls was still with Congress, which despite its problems has consistently held on to a sizeable vote-share in the state. The home minister was confident that AAP's 'politics of freebies' would not wash with Gujarat voters.
Questioning the “repeated trips” made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to Gujarat, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said he had never seen such high anti-incumbency, as seen in the poll-bound state.Addressing an election meeting in Ahmedabad, the “Prime Minister has left all work in Delhi — which is his main job — and is here in Gujarat. What is the need for him to make repeated trips. Both Prime Minister and (home minister) Amit Shah are camping in the state.”Gehlot was speaking at Dariapur in Ahmedabad where sitting MLA Gyasuddin Sheikh is contesting.“You all are seeing what they are talking about in their speeches,” he said adding that unemployment and inflation were adversely affecting people in Gujarat. “I have never seen such high anti-incumbency, as I am seeing now in Gujarat. People are opposing them. They are not going to their meetings, because they have not done any work in the last five years,” the Rajasthan CM said adding that the BJP was forced to change its entire Cabinet last year.The Rajasthan CM said the anti-incumbency wave is bigger than 2017 elections, when congress fell a few seats short of forming the government in Gujarat. “If Congress wins this election, the Centre and Modji will get a shock. They will realise that they have lost due to high inflation and they will take steps to reduce prices. The entire country will benefit,” Gehlot said.“In Gujarat, Congress MLAs win. Thereafter horse trading happens and they are taken into BJP. This never used to happen earlier. After Modiji became the prime minister, a new model has come in the country, where elected governments are made to fall— Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka. These are dangers for democracy,” he said. Gehlot pointed out how sitting MLAs have rebelled within the BJP. “They blame the Congress, but they are not able to keep their own house in order.”Gehlot also remembered those who died of hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad and the recent bridge collapse tragedy in Morbi.
From waving at villagers from the sunroof of her SUV to riding pillion at a motorbike rally, Congress MLA Geniben Thakor (46) has her own star value in the Bhabhar taluka of Vav Assembly constituency in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district.“I am in my pihar (maternal village) today,” Thakor says in the village of Mera on Thursday morning as a crowd of women, not interested in what the other leaders at the event had to say, suddenly stand up and rush to listen to what their “daughter and sister” had to say. The firebrand Congress MLA plays to the gallery and goes on to say, “Vote for your daughter. I do not need to give a bhashan (lecture) about the BJP or the Congress in Mera village. Either I win or lose but I am always with you in your happiness or sorrow. There is not a single family in the village I have not personally reached out to during the Covid pandemic.”“She is our daughter, the one who has made us proud,” says 80-year-old Chelaba Thakor, a villager who welcomed Geniben. Rekha Thakor, 15, a Class 9 dropout, remembers seeing Geniben a few months ago for the inauguration of the government high school.The MLA is lauded for being one the few vocal Congress legislators during Assembly sessions and for not shying away from raising her voice on women-related issues. She lost the 2012 election to Shankar Chaudhary of the BJP from Vav by more than 72,000 votes but defeated him five years later by a margin of over 6,600 votes. This time, Chaudhary has been shifted to the neighbouring Tharad Assembly constituency and the ruling party has fielded Swarupji Thakor.Geniben, who is contesting her fourth Assembly election, appeals to the villagers about ensuring that Thakor votes do not get divided. “When two candidates from the same community are contesting the election, be careful that the community (Thakor) votes do not get split. You might, under society or community pressure, agree to give five votes to one candidate and three to the other from the family. I am requesting you to not fall under this trap,” says the legislator.Village after village the Congress leader makes a similar appeal. “In 2012 too, the same thing happened. Chandulal (Thakkar) contested on an NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) ticket and was in the third position with over 30,000 votes. He did not win but wasted 20,000 votes from the community and 10,000 votes went to the BJP. If these votes had gone to me, I would not have lost,” says Geniben.Accusing the BJP of attempting to split Thakor votes, she adds, “The BJP had many leaders from our community but giving the mandate (to Swarupji Thakor) overnight is only for the sake of contesting the election. He has nothing to do with the BJP or elections but only to split votes.”Gujarat State Co-operative Agri and Rural Development Bank member Kesardan P Gadhvi, accompanying Geniben on her campaign trail in Bhabhar, joins in. “Let us support and make Geniben and Jagdish Thakor (Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee President) strong by standing with them. Let us not divide the community votes into two and show them that Thakors are not that fool,” he says.
It’s Saturday!Get your weekend started with the top 5 stories from today’s edition: Latest on Gujarat Assembly polls, how Rahul was able to rise above Pappu image; what to watch this weekend; and more. 1) Tensions are running high in Gujarat, where the high-stakes Assembly Election is just a few days away. Here are some of our top stories from the poll-bound state: 🔴 The election is set to see many key contests, but the one for minority votes is rather tepid, with major political parties circumspect about fielding Muslim candidates, as always. The Muslim community, which forms approximately nine per cent of the total population of Gujarat, says in one voice that it is “unexcited” about the polls, as “none of the parties” has ever lived up to their pre-poll promises or reached out to the community.🔴 Meanwhile, Isudan Gadhvi, Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial face in Gujarat, speaks to The Indian Express about why his party won’t take its foot off the pedal. 🔴 We join 63-year-old Amit Popatlal Shah, the former mayor of Ahmedabad, as he hits the campaign trail across the Ellisbridge Assembly constituency. Shah is adamant the AAP won’t make a dent at any of Ahmedabad city’s 16 Assembly seats. He is also confident of personally winning by over 80,000 votes. Once elected, he has vowed to resolve all disputes related to the Disturbed Areas Act in the Paldi area of his constituency.2) In her weekly column, Neerja Chowdhury writes on how Rahul Gandhi was able to rise above the ‘Pappu’ image and strike a chord with his Bharat Jodo Yatra: “It goes without saying that the acid test of Rahul’s yatra will lie in winning elections. But, curiously, he has tried to delink the yatra from electoral gains, not to appear power hungry —but this makes little sense. A political party is nothing if it cannot win elections and deliver on its promises.”3) Days after the Jama Masjid authorities announced and then quickly revoked a ban on ‘unaccompanied women’ visiting the mosque, Yashee writes: “When I heard women would no longer be allowed to enter the mosque alone, I felt a personal loss. The questionable logic of the now-rescinded order aside — it wanted to stop girls who “give time to men, do wrong things”; why not ban the men “taking” time from women? — I was also aghast at how little the order seemed to understand Jama Masjid.”4) Express at FIFA World Cup 2022: Two teams locked against each other with a five-man backline is bound to produce a turgid affair, even if both have adequate attacking prowess. So it was only fathomable that the Netherlands and Ecuador produced a colourless, stifled game, in utter contrast to the vibrant colour around the stadium. Several Dutch fans had arrived in their sparkling orange thobes and keffiyeh, Ecuadorians in their flashy yellow t-shirts. Both eked out a point that saw them level with three points, but the result ended all hopes of hosts Qatar progressing to the last 16, after their defeats to Ecuador and Senegal.🍿 What to watch this weekend 5) This week, Shubhra Gupta reviews the latest Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon-starrer ‘Bhediya’: “Varun Dhawan does a good job of aligning with the tone of the film– the horror is pretty much ‘naam-ke-vaaste’, comedy is what it is interested in and does it well.” (3 ⭐)Express Quiz Until tomorrow, Rahel Philipose
Union home minister Amit Shah, who has been campaigning extensively in Gujarat, is confident that the performance of successive BJP governments in the state and the growing affection for Prime Minister Narendra Modi will help BJP score an easy win there. In an exclusive conversation with TOI’s Diwakar and Akhilesh Singh on the campaign trail, he dismissed AAP’s challenge as exaggerated, insisting that Congress continues to be the main challenger but is headed for yet another defeat. Excerpts:What is your assessment on the Gujarat elections?■ The BJP is on a very strong wicket. We shall break all our past records – be it the number of seats or vote percentage – and come to office once again with a thumping majority. You recorded your highest tally – 127 – and highest vote share – 49. 85% – in 2002, the first election fought under Narendra Modi as CM. You hope to surpass that after having been in office for 27 long years?■ Yes. BJP had expressed similar confidence the last time but things did not turn out that way. Congress gave you a real scare and your tally dropped to 99…■ The last polls were an aberration. They were held in the shadow of three intense caste-based movements backed by Congress, which had, working through NGOs it funded, stealthily prepared the background for two years for the campaigns to create divisions among castes. The trick worked in the immediate run and had an impact on elections. But the antagonism that was manufactured and introduced in Gujarat was alien to Gujarat’s ethos. People quickly saw through the divide-and-win game plan. As a result, we won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats just two years later. BJP has since won most of the elections in the state. We hold 90% of seats in local body polls. Today, the party is in office in all districts and all municipal corporations. This clearly shows that the impact of the divisive politics that Congress introduced has worn off. What happened in 2017 was an exception, it could never be the norm in Gujarat. What else has changed since 2017 to make you so confident?■ A lot of issues that BJP consistently raised since its Jana Sangh days in the 1950s, and which resonated with large sections in Gujarat, have been resolved by Narendra Modi’s government. The end of the special status for J&K, removal of Section 35A, construction of Ram Mandir, ban on triple talaq, and beginning of the process to enact a Uniform Civil Code by setting up a committee and initiatingtalks: all this has found huge traction with the voter here. There is also appreciation of the Modi government’s effective management of Covid-19. Administering 230 crore doses of vaccines is no small feat and this is acknowledged by the people. Then, we have also ensured food security for 80 crore people who had lost their jobs and means of livelihood during the two years of the pandemic. All this has positively impacted the voter in Gujarat. I have personally sensed this on the ground. Our economy is stronger today and we have jumped from 11th to 5th spot in the ranking of global economies. This has also created a favourable impact for the BJP in a state like Gujarat where commerce and industry matters a lot and which is home to a large number of MSMEs. Few will dispute your success in turning Gujarat into a laboratory of your ideology. PM Modi’s popularity is obviously a big factor, while BJP’s organisation here is a well-oiled machine. Your advantages are evident. But what about the fatigue factor and the inevitable yearning for change? It felled the once-powerful CPM government in West Bengal.■ Yes, change is inevitable. It is the way of life and nobody can stop it from happening. But a party can also evolve to accommodate the desire for change. BJP consistently innovates and adapts to accommodate the yearning for change. In fact, the party has very often been the trigger for change. We keep carrying out changes. This gives people the confidence that the party is alive to their aspirations. Why would they seek to change a government which keeps improvising and innovating to satisfy their changing needs? So, you claim the BJP, despite being in power for close to three decades, is still seen as a change agent?■ Yes. BJP is a living organism, it keeps changing. That is what every party needs to do in order to be relevant, in order to survive. Our foundational beliefs never change, but our manner of working keeps changing according to the needs of the people. Our governments also keep innovating and have carried out multi-dimensional and dynamic changes in order to be more effective. Did you drop Vijay Rupani for the same reason?■ No. After Narendrabhai, we have had three chief ministers in Gujarat. First was Anandiben. We have a rule in our party that a member can be a part of electoral politics until the age of 75. And, accordingly, Anandiben was relieved from her post when she was 74 years and 10 months old. She has now been tasked with a different responsibility. … Vijaybhai also completed his five years. Then came Bhupendrabhai. We are fighting elections under his leadership and he will continue as the CM after the polls. We don’t dump people. There is always uncertainty on whether BJP will continue with the incumbent after the polls. In some cases, you did not declare your choice before the polls while faces were projected in other instances. What has Bhupendra Patel, a first-term MLA, done in such a short time that BJP has decided to retain him in the job and the Narendra-Bhupendra combo is being projected as the double engine of growth?■ In the one to one-and-ahalf years that he has been in office, Bhupendrabhai has followed all the norms that Narendrabhai had set. He has speeded up Gujarat’s development while upholding the party’s ideology. The results of his work can already be seen; even at the grassroots level. Gujarat’s share in overall exports has risen to 30%. Among the states, it has the largest share of MSMEs and startups registered in the past one year. It has successfully implemented the ‘One nation, one ration card’ scheme. The soft-spoken CM has also displayed firmness in dealing with illegal encroachments. And, there has been no controversy about him. Would you agree that playing the challenger is easier? When you are the incumbent, you are forced to play defence.■ As I had told TOI at the time of the UP polls, antiincumbency is relative. It does not apply to all situations and is dependent on how you have performed in office. We have seen parties winning polls because of pro-incumbency sentiments that their performance generated. And with the type of governance we have provided in Gujarat – 24-hour electricity in every house, road connectivity, business investment, FDI, and high export volume – we have no reason to fear anti-incumbency. The term anti-incumbency was coined during Congress rule for its listless performance. However, under BJP, we have seen the emergence of the concept of ‘pro-incumbency’ and that is the dominant sentiment in Gujarat. Isn’t the Morbi disaster a blot on the state’s performance?■ It was a heart-wrenching tragedy. We all – from PM Narendra Modi to the grassroots BJP worker – feel very sad for the victims. However, we shouldn’t rush to a conclusion just because an election is underway. An administrative inquiry is going on. The high court has also taken cognisance and asked Gujarat Human Rights Commission to look into the matter. The Supreme Court is also cognisant and has shifted all petitions to the HC. Let us wait for the HC’s order. I can assure you that the Gujarat government will accept whatever decision the court takes. There is something puzzling about your campaign. Congress is seen as a reluctant warrior. Its senior leaders are not even campaigning. And yet PM Modi and you keep attacking Congress…■ What you said is true of Congress across the country. Congress has been adrift. It neither has issues nor leadership or a programme. It is a confused party. Yet, the fact remains that Congress has always had a base in Gujarat. Since 1990, they have got at least 30% vote share in every election. That’s why we cannot take them lightly in Gujarat. Our fight is with them. A consistent vote share of 30% translates into one-third of the electorate. Does this not reflect on your failure to win over sections of the society?■ There was a time when the entire country wasn’t with us. Now a large section of the population believes in our vision. We hope that those who are still not supporting us would come around after seeing our work. People say the ‘Gujarat model’ is just hype, a marketing trick: it has only glitter, no substance…■ You can’t see the substance if you have blinkers on. You will be able to see if you take off your goggles of biases and prejudices. What about the criticism that there has been excessive focus on highways and the industrial base, and the social sector has not got adequate attention?■ Another baseless criticism by those blinded by bias and who don’t care to even look at the figures. Gujarat is among the top three states on all parameters. Going back to 2017, the BJP performed poorly in tribal-dominated areas. Are you expecting an improvement this time?■ I am convinced we will do better. . . In every election, we have improved our vote share from tribal areas. And this time I am convinced that we will succeed. There is appreciation in those areas of the way we managed the pandemic; how we have expanded infrastructure and welfare benefits right to the doorsteps of individuals. I am sure people will acknowledge this. The alienation of Patels was another factor. Have they come back to the fold?■ As I said, after 2017 we’ve had two elections. One Lok Sabha, where all sections voted for us and we swept. We have also won the polls forlocal bodies. This could not have been possible without the support of all sections. Everyone has understood that what Congress did in the couple of years preceding 2017 was low-level politics which resulted in the disruption of mutual harmony. Is Hardik Patel’s coming to BJP a testament to this?■ It is not about an individual. It is about the masses… That explains everything. It is said that your principal rival is AAP and you are attacking Congress because you want to shore them up so that there is a split in anti-BJP votes.■ Every party has the right to fight an election. But if you look at Gujarat’s political history, it has largely been a bipolar polity and a third party has never been successful. Be it Chimanbhai Patel, Shankarsinh Vaghela, or Keshubhai Patel, Gujarat has always seen a two-party fight. I feel that the battle is between BJP and Congress. Congress has a lot of baggage and so it is easy for you to blunt their attack. AAP is a new player in Gujarat and is free of that handicap. Besides, a new player that also casts itself as an underdog has its own appeal. Do you agree?■ This is a never-ending debate. It seems you have made up your mind. I cannot convince you if you have already reached a conclusion and are looking for statements to fit that. Let us wait for the votes to be counted, doodh ka doodh aur paani ka paani ho jayega. AAP has unleashed a bagful of freebies. This has worked for them in Delhi and Punjab. Don’t you think this can have an impact in Gujarat as well?■ They made similar promises in Uttarakhand and in Uttar Pradesh; in Maharashtra too. People are not fools. Gujarat has a budget of Rs 2. 42 lakh crore and the cost of implementing the promises that have been made would come to Rs 3. 6 lakh crore. Do you really think that people cannot see through this? They are smart, trust me. Does your confidence have to do with the ethos of Gujarat which values industry and enterprise?■ I don’t want to get into a meandering debate on this. But the fact is that we have given every home in Gujaratelectricity, toilet and gas cylinder. We have given every poor home an Ayushman Bharat card with health coverage up to Rs 5 lakh. And we have also given free rations as help during Covid-19. As against this, people make promises which are unrealistic and can never be kept. Making promises is one thing but what is crucial for winning people’s trust is whether you keep them. Our track record speaks for itself. There are reports about dissension over distribution of BJP tickets. So much so that you had to camp here to firefight.■ This is not new. But I don’t call it firefighting. Reaching out to a party colleague who is unhappy is not firefighting. It is an act of solidarity and camaraderie for someone who has been with you for years. It is my duty to hear them and assuage their feelings. It takes about 20 years to build a dedicated party worker. If a few of them are unhappy that their claim was not heeded, then it is our duty to put a hand on their shoulder and share their grief. And this is what takes BJP ahead. Many people say that the perception about BJP being the overwhelming frontrunner has its flipside too. It will lead to complacency and low turnout.■ Our booth-level presence is the strongest in Gujarat and our workers maintain constant rapport with people. The people of Gujarat have always participated in elections. I am confident that we will have a good turnout as in all elections, and BJP will score a massive win. Then why give a ticket to Payal Kukrani, whose father was convicted in the Naroda Patia violence?■ But what’s wrong about this? She’s a well-educated young woman; a doctor. She has been a hard-working member of the party. True, her father was convicted and has served his sentence. But what has that got to with the daughter? Does she not have a life of her own? You have pronounced her guilty because she is someone’s daughter. But you would never criticise AAP or NCP for not removing their ministers even when they are behind bars. Isn’t it a case of double standards? You have campaigned extensively, what is the feature of this election that has struck you the most?■ The nation has witnessed good governance under Narendrabhai’s leadership in the last eight years. Narendrabhai’s leadership has won laurels and glory for the country. Simultaneously, BJP’s ideological commitments have also been fulfilled. This has had a very positive impact on the people. Modiji was always loved by the people. But I can seethat the affection for him has grown because of the way he has stabilised the economy and strengthened national security. This is true of the entire country. But people here share a special bond with him because he is from Gujarat. His popularity is at its peak and will help BJP score a record win. What is your assessment of Himachal Pradesh?■ We are coming to office with a thumping majority. Over the years, BJP has made many promises in its manifesto. Some of them have been fulfilled, but others, like the Uniform Civil Code, remain on paper. Even CAA is in limbo because the rules have not been framed.■ You are mistaken. CAA is now the law of the land. It has to be implemented and we will do that… We just have to formulate the rules which we could not do because of the pandemic. We shall start working on this, now that the Covid situation has eased. As far as UCC is concerned, it is not just a part of our manifesto since our inception, the Constituent Assembly also directed the legislatures to enact one at the appropriate time. We are alive to our commitment and the task assigned by the framers of the Constitution. Your decision to ban the PFI has led to a backlash of sorts. We have seen serious terror plots being sought to be executed in Coimbatore and Mangalore.■ All challenges to internal security need to be strongly dealt with. We need to proceed against all such dangers, and while we need to analyse all the factors involved, the fear of risks should not deter us from taking on the threat itself. PFI, in many states, had become a danger to our unity and diversity, and our internal security. We watched them push our youth towards terrorism. I believe that the decision to ban it was correct and was taken at the right time. And if there is going to be any reaction, we have all the means and the intent to quell that. What is your assessment of the situation in J&K? When can we expect assembly polls?■ The entire world knows J&K is in very good shape. So far, investments worth Rs 56,000 crore – the highestever – have been committed in the state. Some 30,000 sarpanches have been elected and are working on local body polls. The roots of democracy have spread and gone deeper. People belonging to the backward classes who had been denied benefits available to their counterparts in other states have now been availing of reservations. Women have got their rights. All languages of J&K have got due recognition. And, for the first time, the public is getting a taste of what development actually means. As far as elections are concerned, the Election Commission has finished delimitation, grievances have been redressed. Now, constituencies have been delineated. Electoral rolls, which were riddled with irregularities, are being checked. The EC will announce the dates once the exercise is over. Very often, the judiciary does not seem to be in sync with what the government considers to be imperative for national security.■ There have been such instances. In our Constitution, the roles and responsibilities of the legislature and the judiciary have been very clearly defined and demarcated. We are keeping a close watch on the developments. We shall see how things move. We hope that everyone, including the judiciary, works within their remit. You have been cast as someone who is trying to impose Hindi. Regional parties have attacked you for this. However, you have also argued for regional languages to be used as a medium of education, including for higher and technical courses. What exactly is your position?■ We have championed the use of all Indian languages since the time of Jana Sangh. I am of the firm opinion that we have been able to utilise only 5% of the country’s intellect and talent as a section considers English as the only suitable medium of education and this prevents large sections from accessing quality education and training. The argument that a child will not get good education if he is not taught in English is rooted in misconception, steeped in bias and contrary to the findings of pedagogical studies. I have nothing against English as a language. But it is established that a child learns better and faster if he is taught in his mother tongue. If he is forced to switch to another language because of the hierarchy drawn by elites, his learning process is disrupted. We should be proud of our languages… We have the oldest language, the oldest grammar and the oldest literature. As I said, I am not opposed to English, but we have an excellent pool of Indian languages, which should not be wasted. It is directly linked to the country’s progress and growth.
Ever since the Model Code of Conduct was enforced in Gujarat for the Assembly elections, so far Rs 282 crore of seizures have been made, the Election Commission said Friday. Of the total seizures so far, Rs 167 crore are Chinese toys, pan masala and other items seized mostly from the ports in the state. Cash seizures stand at Rs 26.37 crore and Rs 14.56 crore worth of gold and silver has also been caught. Apart from this, Rs 12.45 crore worth of liquor has also been seized. In the run up to the election, authorities have also seized 938 kg of drugs worth Rs 61.63 crore. The EC has so far received 2,423 complaints related to violation of MCC. Of these, 2389 has been disposed of.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Friday that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was avoiding Gujarat because he already knew the results of the upcoming Assembly elections.“He (Rahul Gandhi) is not going to come to Mahudha. He knows the results and so he is not showing his face in Gujarat,” Shah said while addressing an election meeting in Kheda district’s Mahudha constituency, which is held by the Opposition Congress.Earlier, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Gandhi had attended only three election rallies in Gujarat thus far, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was camping in the state. “Look at Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party. There is no sweat or work or effort. Without these you cannot win elections. Rahul Gandhi came to attend only three sabhas,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.Referring to the distribution of free foodgrains among 80 crore homes during the Covid pandemic, Shah said, “This work was done so beautifully that there was no corruption anywhere. If this had happened during Congress rule, foodgrains meant for the poor would have gone outside the country via Nepal, and you would have seen new cars having four rings (referring to Audi) parked in the houses of Congress leaders in Kheda.”“During the 10 years of Congress rule [at the Centre] between 2004 and 2014, a Rs 12 lakh-crore scam took place. A journalist told me a beautiful thing: during the Congress rule, there were so many scams that they could not be counted, but there is no scam during BJP rule. This is the difference between the two. Congress leaders filled their houses with money. They got votes in the name of poverty, but did nothing for the poor. Instead of removing poverty, they removed the poor,” he added.
Milind Deora, Congress observer for Gujarat, says "strong undercurrent" against BJP. (File)New Delhi/Ahmedabad: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has a lot of "hype" but will remain a "marginal player" in the Gujarat assembly elections, Congress leader Milind Deora said on Friday and asserted that his party would belie predictions to spring a surprise in the polls.Mr Deora, who is a Congress party observer for the Gujarat polls, said there is a "strong undercurrent" of anti-incumbency against the BJP government in the state and the Congress has opted for a very localised campaign that is different from the 2017 elections.In an interview with PTI, the leader from Maharashtra said the Bharat Jodo Yatra will have a positive impact on the polls and though Rahul Gandhi was busy with it, he would make more visits to the state for campaigning.Asked about the low-key campaign of the Congress in the state, the former Union minister said, "I would not agree that we are not putting our best effort. It is a very different type of campaign from the last time." In the 2017 polls, there were issues such as the Patidar agitation, demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax, which led to public demonstrations against the government, he said.This time, there is a very "strong undercurrent" of anti-incumbency against the state government and the Congress is carrying out a very localised, personalised and orthodox campaign, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi alluded to, Mr Deora said."The prime minister himself told the (BJP) workers that the Congress has a very localised campaign. So, I think the strategy is different, it is not something as visible as last time because of the events preceding that election but the party is on the ground, exposing the government and taking advantage of anti-incumbency," he asserted.On the entry of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP and if it will dent Congress' chances in Gujarat, he said the AAP was also cutting into the BJP's votes and so he does not think that it was a spoiler only for one party."I think it (AAP) is cutting into the votes of the BJP as well. So, in that sense the AAP will have a neutralising effect on both the main parties," he said.He asserted that the Congress still has a "very strong presence" in Gujarat and the voters who want to defeat the BJP understand that it is the "only option"."AAP definitely has a lot of hype, lot of media (attention), but on the ground the voters are still familiar with the Congress, we have a local rung of leaders cutting across regions and different communities that the public is familiar with," he said.Deora said he believes that the AAP will remain a "marginal player" and the real contest would be between the BJP and the Congress.Asked why the Congress was not able to capitalise on anti-incumbency in previous polls, Deora said there were many reasons for that and there were emotive issues that gave the BJP an advantage."Purely on development issues, there is certainly anti-incumbency, but in elections sometimes there are many emotive issues," he said.For instance, for several years now the fact that the prime minister hails from Gujarat certainly gives the BJP an advantage, he added."There are emotive issues that give the BJP an advantage but from a purely developmental standpoint, Gujarat is a state, the Congress has a base in Gujarat. We may not have come to power in a long time but it is different from a state such as Uttar Pradesh where we are a marginal player," he said.Noting that in the 2017 assembly polls, the Congress came extremely close to winning the election, Mr Deora said people should think several times before ruling out or writing off the party in Gujarat."I believe that the Congress will certainly surprise critics and political pundits," he said.The Congress still has a presence in Gujarat, it is popular among its core voters, there are regions such as Saurashtra where it is very strong, he said. "I do believe that there will be surprises in this election," Deora said.Asked if the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) would split the anti-BJP vote, Mr Deora said parties such as the AIMIM and the AAP were all "marginal players" in the Gujarat polls and have different agendas."But I think the voters in states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are different from West Bengal or Uttar Pradesh where voters against the BJP may rally behind a regional party. I think in states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the people see the Congress as an alternative to the BJP," he said.On Gandhi having just held two election rallies till now, Deora said the former Congress chief has chosen to take out the yatra but has campaigned on more than one occasion.Gandhi had held two poll rallies in Gujarat earlier this week and had also participated in an event before the yatra."In India, every six months there are elections, so by that rationale you can never take out a Yatra. There will always be a state election that will coincide with a five-month-long yatra," he said.Gandhi is campaigning and he will make more visits, Mr Deora added.He stressed that even though the Yatra is not passing through Gujarat, people are paying attention to it."People and workers of the party across the country are motivated by it. I think that it will have a positive impact (on the Gujarat polls) for sure," he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"As I said, our campaign has been a very different campaign for a long time. There is anti-incumbency which is not manifesting in an agitation by a community or an event such as demonetisation," Deora said.Voting to elect a new 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held in two phases -- December 1 (89 seats) and 5 (93 seats) -- and ballots will be counted on December 8. Featured Video Of The DayHow To Track FIFA World Cup
ONE OF the highlights of the Supreme Court’s recent hearings on the appointment of Election Commissioners was its reference to the contributions of late Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) T N Seshan.Hearing petitions seeking reforms in the system of appointing election commissioners, the Court said a CEC should be someone “with character” who “does not allow himself to be bulldozed”, and that a person like the late T N Seshan “happens once in a while”.The 10th CEC of India, Seshan headed the poll panel from December 12, 1990, to December 11, 1996 – serving the full tenure of six years. At its recent hearings, the Supreme Court also noted that few CECs had actually got to do that, with all appointees since 2004 retiring before that time.Appointed to the Election Commission (EC) after retiring from the IAS, Seshan’s tenure is remembered for strengthening the independence of the EC apart from strict implementation of its rules. The Model Code of Conduct came to be as rigidly observed as it is now after Seshan.He was also instrumental in introducing photo identity cards or Voter ID cards for voters, as a means to check fraudulent voting. While now almost all voters hold such cards, in 1995, when he announced the same, there was stiff opposition from political leaders, who insisted it could not be implemented in a country like India. Seshan also enforced spending limits on candidates during polls.In 1993, during Seshan’s term, the P V Narasimha Rao-led Congress government expanded the EC to a three-member panel, with all commissioners holding equal powers, seen a move to rein in Seshan.In a tribute to him after his death in 2019, the EC noted the change Seshan had brought about in office. “Shri Seshan redefined the very grammar of the electoral process. Holding the constitutional post of CEC, he enhanced the stature of the office by coming down heavily on electoral malpractices and dealing sternly, even ruthlessly, with violence and muscle power, which were at (an) all time high when he took over. He redeemed the autonomy and authority that the Constitution has bestowed upon ECI (Election Commission of India) under Article 324 of the Constitution. Refusing to act merely as manager of monitoring of electoral process, he started proactively purging the elections of their evils like money, liquor, muscle power, booth capturing etc,” the EC said.Seshan, the poll panel added, was the right person at the right place and right time.O P Rawat, who was the CEC from January 23, 2018, to December 1, 2018, told The Indian Express that while it was not appropriate to say that Seshan was “the only CEC” to have made a “sterling contribution”, his efforts were “singular”.“The first democratic elections were conducted under Sukumar Sen at a time when the conditions were bad. Lakhs of people had migrated due to Partition, people were in refugee camps and were looking for their kin. Making the electoral roll at that time was a Herculean task. From the limited franchise in British India, with only four crore electors, we had over 17 crore electors in the first elections after Independence. With all those odds, the single-man commission conducted the elections in a free and fair manner and proved the British and all other critics wrong,” Rawat said, speaking of the first elections held in independent India in 1951 and 1952.What Seshan achieved, Rawat added, was the revival of the reputation of the EC, which had taken a beating in the preceding decades. And in that regard, he said, the Supreme Court was right in recognising his role. “He brought many reforms and rose to the occasion.”Rawat also pointed out that even J M Lyngdoh, who was the CEC from June 14, 2001 to February 7, 2004, had left his mark by ensuring free and fair elections in Gujarat in the aftermath of the 2002 riots. “So, it is not appropriate to say that only Seshan did a marvellous job.”On the Supreme Court’s observation that the government seemed to pick officials near retirement age for the EC, apparently to ensure they didn’t have long tenures, Rawat said one way of checking this would be to increase the retirement age of an Election Commissioner from 65 to 67. Since bureaucrats retire at 60 from service, they would still get a six-year term if appointed to the poll panel, he said.One reason Seshan was able to have a six-year term was that the retirement age for the IAS at that time was 58 and not 60 as it is now, Rawat noted.After retiring from the EC, Seshan had taken on a different role in electoral politics. In 1997, he unsuccessfully contested the Presidential election against K R Narayanan, and in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, he was the Congress’s candidate against BJP leader L K Advani from Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
The symbiotic relationship between the political class and spiritual gurus is certainly not new to public life in the country. Over the decades, ascetics have often dominated political discourse in the country, have been advisors to politicians of all hues, and have even been public representatives in the form of chief ministers and members of Parliament. The Gujarat assembly election will see as many as four sadhus and saints whose political fate will be decided by the electorate. While the BJP has fielded two sadhus, a lesser-known party, Gujarat Navnirman Sena, has fielded two more for the upcoming poll. Interestingly, the BJP has fielded a monk and a mahant on two seats bagged by the rival Congress in the 2017 assembly election. Shambhuprasad Tundiya, whom the BJP has fielded from the Gadhada seat, is the ‘mahant’ of Sant Shri Savaiyanath Samadhi Sthaan of Zanzarka village in Ahmedabad district. Tundiya has been pitched against Jagdish Chavda for the seat. Tundiya represented the Dasada assembly constituency from 2007 to 2012 on a BJP ticket and was laterelected the BJP Rajya Sabha member from 2014 to 2020. The saffron party picked Tundiya over Atmaram Parmar, the sitting candidate from the seat. Parmar had lost the assembly election from the same seat in 2017, but won it when a by-election was held in 2020 after Pravin Maru, the Congress MLA from Gadhada, quit. The BJP has also fielded a sadhu on the Jambusar seat in the Bharuch district. Devkishoredasji Swami, 50, popularly known as D K Swami, stays at the Nahiyer Swaminarayan Gurukul at Amod in Bharuch district. The sadhu from the Swaminarayan sect is contesting his first election from the seat. The Congress has renominated sitting MLA Sanjay Solanki from this seat. Launched recently, the Gujarat Navnirman Sena has picked sadhus as its candidates for the Chanasma and Radhanpur assembly constituencies of North Gujarat. The Chanasma seat is held by the BJP, while the Congress’s Raghu Desai is the sitting MLA of Radhanpur, having defeated BJP leader Alpesh Thakor in a by-poll in 2019. Atul Dave, the national president of Gujarat Navnirman Sena, says the party’s primary goal is to have a sadhu as the CM of Gujarat. “We also want the cow to be declared the national animal,” he said. “I have been a sadhu for 13 years, and the communal and caste-based politics disillusion me. I am in the fray to usher in a new kind of politics since I have no greed for money or power,” says Shivanand Saraswati, the GNS candidate from the Chanasma seat. The other sadhu, Devendra Kumar Sadhu, fielded from the Radhanpur seat, is keen on “gau raksha”. “I run a cow shelter and hope that people will choose me to ensure the welfare of cows in Radhanpur and surrounding areas,” he said.
A video of B M Sandeep, secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and in-charge of south Gujarat assembly election running through the streets of Mahidharpura surfaced on Thursday. It is claimed that he was running from the election commission’s flying squad that had caught a car carrying Rs 74. 82 lakh. Sandeep has vanished from the city though the election campaign is at its peak. His phone went missing from the spot after which Congress workers submitted an application to the police. Udaysingh Ramkrusna Gurjar, a Congress worker from Rajasthan and driver of the car, Faiz Riyaz Saiyed were nabbed by the team at the spot. They were allowed to go after the cash was handed over to the I-T department for further investigation. AICC general secretary, Mukul Wasnik, said, “Why was no case registered? Our leaders will give details of cash to the concerned department. This is an attempt to target the Congress when no wrong has been done. ”
Leaders of political parties use the phrase ‘Janta Janardhan’ while referring to the electorate. Loosely translated, it means the people are an image of the almighty. In a democracy, one way for people to assert their rights is the threat to boycott an election. As in earlier elections, declarations of poll boycott have been made from several quarters. The reasons range from unmet demands for train stoppages to poor roads; from protests against illegal mining to lack of action against bootleggers. In Dhrafa village, part of the Jamjodhpur assembly constituency in Jamnagar, residents called for a boycott, seeking separate polling booths for men and women. The village panchayat has shot off a letter to the district collector in this regard. According to villagers, separate booths for men and women havebeen set up in all elections since the Independence. Villagers say women cover their faces with a veil in front of unknown menfolk, and a common polling booth is an absolute no-no. Village sarpanch Dharmendrasinh Jadeja said, “We have two booths — one at the girls’ school where women vote, and at the primary school where men vote. This time, no such arrangements were made. ” On November 19, the villagers met and decided to boycott the poll. In Navsari district, Ancheli village plans to boycott the election if train stoppages are not increased. “Before Covid, 18 local trains used to stop here. Nowthere are only eight stops. This has affected some 15,000 commuters from 19 villages who use the trains to get to work,” said Hitesh Naik, a farmer. After villagers put up posters calling for a boycott, workers of political parties visited the village and promised to resolve the issue. At Abrama in Valsad district, residents are protesting the poor condition of roads. Residents of Sona Plot have put up banners announcing the boycott. These were subsequently removed by civic officials and police. Government officials say construction of the road has been approved but work could not begin. The 900-odd residents of Tankalpada and Modidabas villages in Dang district are upset about roads and bridges damaged during monsoon. The villagers installed banners announcing a boycott. Similarly, people at Jira village of Savarkundla taluka in Amreli district have threatened to boycott the election, as a protest against illegal mining and the free availability of country liquor. Village sarpanch Daksha Chovadiya decided this in the presence of 500 villagers at a specially convened meeting. A memorandum to this effect was submitted to local authorities. At Raiyoli village in Balasinor, where the government has set up a dinosaur park, the village panchayat met in October and resolved against voting as the government has not provided proper connectivity between other places and Raiyoli.
Ahmedabad: The terms of six deans of branches of Gujarat Technological University will expire on December 27, but elections for the new deans will only be held after the state assembly election is over. Sources in GTU said the three-year term of deans of branches such as arts, commerce, science, law, education and medical will end on December 27. Sources said according to the rules, the notification for the new deans’ election has to be issued a month prior to the elections, which has not been done yet. They said the university has not issued the notification as the model code of conduct is in place. Sources said once the assembly election ends, the university will issue the notification and elections will likely be held in January, 2023.
AHMEDABAD: Time has now come for people to generate income from electricity instead of getting it for free, PM Narendra Modi said on Thursday in an apparent dig at AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s poll promise of providing power without charge. Modi also accused Congress of criticising him relentlessly rather than working for Gujarat’s progress. The PM is on a whirlwindcampaign tour for the December assembly elections in the state. He addressed rallies in Palanpur, Modasa, Dehgam and Bavla. Citing the example of India’s first fully solar-powered village, Modi said in Modasa: “You must have seen how the entire Modhera village is now running on rooftop solar power. People are using electricity as per their need and selling excess power (to the government). I want to replicate this system across Gujarat,” he said. “Under this system, you can earn money by selling excess electricity generated from solar panels. Only Modi knows this art wherein people will be able to earn from electricity,” he said. Kejriwal has been claiming that he is the only politician in the country who has “mastered this magic of providing free electricity”. Modi said now the farmers are themselves generating electricity through solar panels installed on unused corners of their fields. “They can also sell surplus electricity and earn money. The era of demanding affordable electricity is over,” he said. In Dehgam, the PM said opposition party functionaries are devoid of any vision for developing Gujarat as they are busy criticising him all the time. “Instead of finding solutions to problems of the slum dwellers, Congress used to just throw some pieces towards them. We are also working forempowerment of the poor and middle class,” he said. Modi also accused Congress of “divide and rule” policy and focussing only on how to be in government. He said Congress has ignored Gandhian values, which resulted in villages of Gujarat suffering from utter neglect for years. “Mahatma Gandhi used to say that the soul of India resides in its villages. But Congress never cared to follow such Gandhian values. They actually trampled that soul,” he said in Bavla near Ahmedabad. Modi also charged Congress with fomenting rifts between villages and cities. “Congress only tried to benefit from these conflicts,” he said. Talking about education, he said the BJP government has transformed this sector in the state and made it more scientific and modern. “Gujarat’s education budget has now gone up to Rs 33,000 crore, more than the total budget outlay of several states,” he said. In Palanpur, Modi said: “This election is not about who will become an MLA or whose government will come. This election is all about deciding Gujarat’s destiny for the next 25 years. ” He said the BJP government has focussed on tourism, environment, water, cattle-rearing and nutrition aspects for the overall development of Banaskantha and the surrounding region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stepped up campaigning for his party BJP in GujaratAhmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today it was time to generate income from electricity instead of getting it for free, an apparent reference to promise of free power made by some parties in Gujarat, and asserted that next month's Assembly election is about deciding the state's destiny for the next 25 years.Stepping up his campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with just a week left for the first phase of polling, the Prime Minister addressed four rallies for the second consecutive day in different parts of the state in support of ruling party candidates.Addressing an election rally in Modasa town of Aravalli district in north Gujarat, the PM said only he knows the art through which people can earn money from electricity.Both Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress, political rivals of the BJP, have promised free electricity (up to 300 units per month) to people if voted to power in Gujarat.Seeking to counter their free power promise, Modi said he wants to see people across Gujarat earning money from excess electricity generated from solar rooftop systems instead of just getting it for free."You must have seen how the entire Modhera village (in Mehsana district) is now running on rooftop solar power. They are using electricity as per their need and sell excess power (to the government). I want to replicate this system across Gujarat," he said."Under this system, you can earn money by selling excess electricity generated from solar panels. Only Modi knows this art wherein people will be able to earn from electricity," said Mr Modi.He told the audience a woman from Modhera is now planning to buy a refrigerator and an air-conditioner as electricity has become affordable after the installation of rooftop solar power."She told me that though her family was able to afford the appliances earlier, they refrained from using them because they could not bear the running cost. Now, they can afford it because electricity is free. I am working to bring this revolution at the doorstep of each and every household in Gujarat," the PM said.He said now farmers are themselves generating electricity through solar panels installed on unused corners of their farms."They can also sell excess electricity and earn money. The era of demanding affordable electricity has gone. Today, you can generate income by selling electricity," said Mr Modi, who had served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014.Mr Modi also slammed the Congress, saying the opposition party only believes in the formula of "divide and rule" and it only focuses on how to get power."Rajasthan is near your border. Have you seen any development in that state? Have you seen any good news coming out of that state? The Congress cannot do development," he said.At another election meeting in Palanpur town of Banaskantha district, Mr Modi said the upcoming polls will decide the state's destiny for the next 25 years.He added that though many development works have been carried out by the BJP in Gujarat and the Centre, time has come to take a "giant leap"."This election is not about who will become an MLA or whose government will be formed. This election is all about deciding Gujarat's destiny for the next 25 years," Mr Modi said.The PM pointed out that Gujarat's education budget has now gone up to Rs 33,000 crore, more than the total budget outlay of several states.Notably, the comments of the BJP's star campaigner on Gujarat's education scenario came at a time when the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has been aggressively pitching the 'Delhi model' of education and has promised to revamp government-run schools if voted to power in the state.The PM told the gathering that Gandhinagar has now become an education hub housing numerous colleges and universities.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"Mahatma Gandhi used to say that the soul of India resides in its villages, but Congress leaders never cared to follow Gandhian values. They actually crushed that soul. Villages remained neglected and their true potential was never realised," he noted.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayWhatsApp's Secret New Feature Will Make Your Life Easier
Gandhinagar: The office of the chief electoral officer (CEO), Gujarat, has received 3,350 complaints of violation of the model code of conduct (MCC) over a period of 20 days. Of the total complaints, 3,238 have been resolved by the election watchdog.The number of MCC violation complaints has increased substantially over the 2017 assembly election’s figure. Between November 3 (when the election schedule was announced) and November 23, 3,350 complaints were filed. Through the entire course of the 2017 election, only 570 complaints were received by the CEO’s office.Sources in the CEO’s office said that a majority of the complaints have been filed through the c-Vigil application. In all, 2,133 complaints have been filed through the c-Vigil app, 649 filed by email or post, and 157 through social media.A majority of the complaints are about spreading fake news on social media and breaching expenditure limits. Cross complaints have also been filed by rival candidates in several instances.
Sachin Pilot said, "We have to see how we can make Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra a success".Bhopal: Congress's Sachin Pilot has brushed off Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's sharp attack on him as "false and unfounded allegations" that completely "unnecessary". Mr Gehlot, he hinted, will do better to focus on Gujarat, which is practically days away from the state elections. Mr Gehlot is the party in-charge of the state."Ashok Gehlot called me 'incompetent', 'traitor' and made lots of allegations. These allegations are completely false, unfounded and unnecessary," Mr Pilot told news agency ANI.The need of the hour, he said, is to strengthen the Congress party. "We have to see how we can make Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra a success because that's what the country needs," said Mr Pilot, who flew down to Madhya Pradesh today to join the foot-march."Only Congress can challenge the BJP in the country. Elections are underway in Gujarat, where Ashok Gehlot is in-charge. We have to put up a united fight to defeat the BJP," he added.He also mentioned the election in Rajasthan, due next year. "We formed government twice in Rajasthan under the leadership of Ashok Gehlot. But then we lost both elections… Despite that, when the party high command wanted him to head the government, we accepted it. This time our focus should be on winning the coming election, he said."Under the circumstances, it does not look well for a leader of his seniority to talk about such issues," he added.Mr Gehlot, in an exclusive interview to NDTV today, had launched a no-holds-barred attack on Mr Pilot, accusing him of being a "traitor" to the party. "A gaddar (traitor) cannot be Chief Minister… the High Command cannot make Sachin Pilot the Chief Minister... a man who doesn't have 10 MLAs, revolted. He betrayed the party, (he) is a traitor," Mr Gehlot said, referring to the 2020 episode when Mr Pilot had camped out in Delhi for days with his loyalist MLAs. "It must be a first for India that a party president tried to bring down his own government," he said, alleging that the revolt was "funded by the BJP" and backed by the party senior BJP leaders including its chief strategist Amit Shah.He even indicated that the Mr Pilot was responsible for the political chaos in Rajasthan, including the rebellion by Gehlot loyalists which publicly embarrassed the party and the Gandhis."It must be a first for India that a party president tried to bring down his own government," he said, alleging that the revolt was "funded by the BJP" and backed by the party senior BJP leaders including its chief strategist Amit Shah.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comMr Pilot has not apologised to the party, the state or the people, Mr Gehlot said, which made him unacceptable to the state MLAs as a candidate for the Chief Minister's post."Has he apologised, I would not have to," he added, referring to his apology to party chief Sonia Gandhi after the revolt by his loyalists during the election for the party chief's post.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has launched an all-out attack against arch rival Sachin Pilot. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, he took time out from campaigning with Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat to deliver his biggest takedown yet of Mr Pilot. Here is the full transcript of the interview:NDTV: Hello and welcome to this NDTV exclusive with Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot. The elections in Rajasthan are more than a year away. In fact, the elections right now are in Gujarat, where Mr Gehlot has been campaigning. But frankly the battle, in a sense in Rajasthan, has already begun. Is the Congress' internal turmoil proving an obstacle to Mr Gehlot, as he seeks re-election? Ashok ji, thank you very, very much, for being with us now. We are in Pali district now. You have been travelling all day, holding meetings, some scouts are also waiting for you. Tell me Ashok ji, there are elections in Rajasthan, there is time, but whatever is happening in the last few months, what we saw, is that causing tension, problems for the party's situation here?Ashok Gehlot: I have no tension. And there is none. Media is creating more. Media is creating more. Some bickering happens in all states, some rifts also happen. Media wants that it always seems like there are 2 groups here, etc. I have noticed this is media's approach everywhere.NDTV: Is this only media? You know two months back, so much tumult had happened here. 90 plus MLAs rebelled; that is not a small thing? Ashok Gehlot: It was not rebellion. In a way, because there was a rebellion earlier, when people had stayed in hotel for 34 days. These 90 people who had gathered, were those had supported in saving government at that time. Without them the government would not have been saved. NDTV: So you are saying they were loyalists of Congress in a way?Ashok Gehlot: They were loyalists of the High Command. No CM can save government without High Command. If High Command gives blessing, then people support. NDTV: What was said was that these MLAs were your loyalists. That they were Ashok Gehlot's loyalists. And they did this at your behest. Ashok Gehlot: This was nonsense, saying that. Everybody knows me, the whole country knows what my nature is. This party and the Gandhi family has for 50 years continuously rewarded me. I have been five time MP, three time union minister, three time AICC general secretary, three time PCC President, three time Chief Minister. NDTV: So you are saying this revolt had nothing to do with you? Ashok Gehlot: The question does not even arise. If even one MLA says it, I will leave the state. NDTV: Then why were they angry?Ashok Gehlot: I'm telling you. They were angry, because news was spread that Sachin Pilot will be made CM. He himself also behaved this way. People thought he is going to be CM.NDTV: Who behaved like that? Pilot?Ashok Gehlot: Pilot called many MLAs, he said you leave it to High Command, an observer will come to take your views. So the MLAs felt that there may be a one line resolution today, tomorrow will be the swearing in. Because of this rumour, all of them gathered there. NDTV: What was their issue if Pilot becomes CM? Ashok Gehlot: The problem was that because he was pulling the government down. Amit Shah was also involved in it, Dharmendra Pradhan was also involved in it. All had a meeting in Delhi. NDTV: With whom? Ashok Gehlot: Some of our MLAs had also gone, no? Some of them had meetings. Some stayed in Manesar for 34 days. In a resort. So our MLAs got angry. They said this is unusual, that the Party President goes to the opposition to topple his own government.NDTV: Pilot was State Party President at the time?Ashok Gehlot: Yes. He was Deputy CM also. It must not have happened in the history of the country before this, that a party president went to the opposition to topple his own government. It must have never happened in history. NDTV: You are saying this is why MLAs had a problem?Ashok Gehlot: Yes. The MLAs were loyal to High Command, were loyal even now. They have highest the respect and regard towards Madam Sonia Gandhi. They were angry that the observer was coming and would ask them to endorse Pilot. Pilot was requesting the MLAs himself. So such a situation was created. NDTV: But if High Command themselves gave directions to the observer, to garner support for Pilot, maybe the High Command itself wanted Pilot to be CM? Ashok Gehlot: How could they bear making Pilot CM? People who suffered for 34 days, we know how we survived the 34 days. We had to protest at Raj Bhavan. I was also present there. We worked hard to save the government. PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comNDTV: No, no. I'm saying, if the High Command wanted to make Pilot CM, then?Ashok Gehlot: No, no, no. Can't make him CM. There has been some communication gap. How can they make him? A man who doesn't have 10 MLAs. Who revolted; who has been called traitor. He betrayed the party, is a traitor. How can people accept him? NDTV: But Pilot has denied that he had nothing to do with BJP? Ashok Gehlot: No, no. He can't say that. The whole game was theirs. Rs 10 crore was distributed by the BJP. I have proof.NDTV: To all?Ashok Gehlot: I don't know to who all, some got five crore, some 10 crore. In fact the money was picked up from BJP office in Delhi. Many have picked the money up from there. They have told me themselves. NDTV: So you are saying that when Pilot denies all this, saying have nothing to do with BJPAshok Gehlot: Who? Who? I am hearing this for the first time. NDTV: You are hearing it for the first time?Ashok Gehlot: Yes, hearing it for the first time. NDTV: But Pilot has said so?Ashok Gehlot: No, no. He must have told you. NDTV: No, not just me. He has told the media, that 'I have nothing to do with BJP. I was unhappy within the Congress, and so I revolted'Ashok Gehlot: No, no. If he had gone to AICC HQ and sat there, it would have been different. For the past 50 years, protestors have gone to AICC. They have spoken to Madam. Raised their complaints. First time I saw somebody went to Manesar. Dharmendra Pradhan used to go to Manesar. Our two independent MLAs had also gone there separately. They were stopped at the hotel. They were not from the Congress. Dharmendra Pradhan used to meet them there. It was all the BJPs game. NDTV: But Ashok ji, if what you are saying is true, why has Pilot not been kicked out by Congress? In a way, he is back in the Congress?Ashok Gehlot: It is for the first time some State Congress President has been sacked. Sacking is not usual practise. Resignation is asked, and they give their resignation. Why was he sacked? Why did I as CM sack him as Deputy CM? NDTV: But if he has gone through his punishment, why can't he be CM? Ashok Gehlot: You do not get it. The MLAs are angry. They wanted that Pilot should have at least apologised to the High Command, he should have apolgised to the people of Rajasthan, to the MLAs. NDTV: He did not apologise?Ashok Gehlot: Till date Pilot has not apologised. If he had apologised, I would not have had to apologise.NDTV: Meaning you would have not have had to apologise to Sonia Gandhi? Ashok Gehlot: If Pilot had apologised, there would have been no revolt against him. The 90 MLAs' revolt was against Pilot. And after many of our ministers had said also that cannot accept gaddar, traitor... NDTV: The MLAs are saying that we won't accept a 'gaddar'. But you also agree with this?Ashok Gehlot: I accept it, of course, why not? NDTV: You also say it? Ashok Gehlot: I also say it. Make one of 102 who were loyal the CM, there is no problem. But how will we accept the man who betrayed us? NDTV: So you are ready to accept someone else as CM? Somebody other than Pilot?Ashok Gehlot: Listen to me. I'm still ready. I'm loyal to the High Command. They have to decide what is in the interest of the party. If they want to keep me, keep me. I have no objections if another face comes as long as we can win elections. NDTV: What if they make Pilot the new face?Ashok Gehlot: How can he be made? Nobody will accept him! NDTV: Nobody will accept him? Ashok Gehlot: How will they? You tell me.NDTV: But Ashok ji, Pilot says he was sidelined so much by you, that is why he got angry and decamped with his supporters? Ashok Gehlot: This is absolutely wrong. Question does not even arise. How can we sideline?NDTV: That he was not given power, his supporters were stopped from important positions?Ashok Gehlot: Absolutely wrong. In fact his supporters have told Ajay Maken that we have no complaints against the CM. We have come back. After coming back, we treated Pilot well, still. Have done no discrimination with anyone. NDTV: But the High Command may not see all this the same way?Ashok Gehlot: What do you know? NDTV: But you yourself said you had to apologise to the High Command?Ashok Gehlot: I did so because it was my moral responsibility. Despite my being CM, the MLAs did not come to the meeting. That was not revolt, it was their loyalty to the High Command. They were angry because Pilot himself was saying that he got congratulatory messages. NDTV: So High Command is not angry with you then? When you met Sonia ji, was she upset with what happened? Ashok Gehlot: Ask Sonia Gandhi that. NDTV: But you were in the meeting?Ashok Gehlot: I have the highest regard for the High Command. NDTV: But you were going to file nomination as Party President, and then you met Sonia Gandhi and came out saying you were not going to file. What happened?Ashok Gehlot: It is between them and me. It is between them and me. NDTV: But why did you withdraw?Ashok Gehlot: It is between them and me. NDTV: Okay. But overall are things not stable in Rajasthan? Ajay Maken wants to quit as central observer?Ashok Gehlot: Unhappiness is common. Today 33 people of BJP are rebelling in Gujarat, 22 in Himachal. NDTV: But Ajay Maken is senior, he is an observer?Ashok Gehlot: This bickering happens in all big parties. I believe by and large there is peace in Rajasthan. Everybody wants to work together. NDTV: Maken says there has been no action against the MLAs who revolted.Ashok Gehlot: I don't want to comment on this right now, because the matter will get distorted. NDTV: But the show cause notice was in public domain?Ashok Gehlot: No, no. It is the duty of the disciplinary committee. They have to see whose mistake it was, whose it wasn't. What can I do about that?NDTV: Ashok ji, you are saying that everything is fine in Rajasthan, but is it decided you will be CM? Ashok Gehlot: We are going to form government, why are you troubling us? NDTV: No, no. We are not troublingAshok Gehlot: We are going to form the next government in Rajasthan. NDTV: Will it be under your leadership?Ashok Gehlot: The atmosphere is such that it seems we are going to form government. It is a great ground situation. We have so many great schemes. Everybody is happy. I think this is the first time, or it is after a long time, that there is no anti-incumbency in Rajasthan. NDTV: I understand you are saying you will form the government, but will it be under your leadership?Ashok Gehlot: Today I am here. Today it is me. NDTV: But what if High Command signals that they want change? Have they given you any such indication? Ashok Gehlot: They have given me no such indication. I know that High Command will do justice with Rajasthan. We need to form the government in Rajasthan. If we form the government in Rajasthan, then there will more Congress state governments in other states. This is our focus.NDTV: You are saying... Ashok Gehlot: ...I want to say something else. I have said this in August too. It was said that I am doing this to be CM. Let me tell you, this happened in September, October. In August itself, I had told Sonia Gandhi and Ajay Maken my feelings, that it is important that we form government in Rajasthan. I have been CM three times, and held other posts. For me being the CM is not important. What is important is that if we conduct a survey, you conduct a survey, I will also conduct a survey, if it emerges our chances are better with me as CM, then I am here. If they feel, no, I need to move from the CM post, and we need to do some social engineering, based on caste, community or whatever, and only then we will be able to form government, then I have no problem withdrawing from the CM post. I also said, Amarinder Singh had revolted. I said that if I withdraw, I will continue to work and campaign like I am the CM. NDTV: So you will not revolt?Ashok Gehlot: I will work hard to form the government. I am withdrawing myself. I have told you an open secret. In Jaisalmer, when the observer had come, I was at the Pakistan border and I had given an interview, you must have heard it? NDTV: So you are saying you won't revolt even if you are removed as the CM?Ashok Gehlot: What do you mean remove? I said I am withdrawing myself. How will you remove? I'm offering to withdraw myself. NDTV: I understand what you are saying is that you are willing to withdraw yourself. But my question is, if they replace you with Pilot, would you accept it? Ashok Gehlot: How will that happen? That can't happen. NDTV: What if you are replaced with Pilot, would you revolt? Ashok Gehlot: It can't be. Why are you asking such hypothetical questions?NDTV: Pilot says in 2018, when you became CM, he was promised a rotating CM formula. Ashok Gehlot: It won't look nice if I say something on this. You can ask Rahul Gandhi. NDTV: So are you saying nothing of the sort was promised? Ashok Gehlot: The question does not even arise. Nothing like this happened. But if he still says it, then ask Rahul Gandhi about it.NDTV: So was there no such arrangement?Ashok Gehlot: There is no question about it. It was not even discussed. NDTV: What is the issue between you and Sachin Pilot? Why not settle the issues? Is it not hurting Congress? Ashok Gehlot: In 2009, when I had become CM, and the Lok Sabha elections were happening, we won 20 seats here in Rajasthan. I was called to Delhi to meet the party's Working Committee. I gave my opinion to Ahmed Patel; and Pilot knows about this. I recommended that he be made a Union Minister. NDTV: You recommended that Pilot be made a Union Minister? Ashok Gehlot: Yes. I made the recommendation because before that, 17 Gujjars were killed here in Rajasthan in a firing incident during Vasundhara Raje's time. Meenas and Gujjars had fought at the time. Namo Narain Meena was a minister already in UPA-1. This was UPA-2, and I said he would be minister again. So I said, if you make a Gujjar a minister it will at least quell the fight between Gujjars and Meenas. It was a psychological move. It would also make governance easier for me. I also got a call from Pilot asking me to recommend him for the minister post. I said 'I have spoken to them Sachin, and I have hopes, that everything will be fine.' I conveyed this to him. This is it.NDTV: So are you saying there are no personal differences between you? Then why has this become such a big issue now? Why has it become Pilot versus Gehlot? Ashok Gehlot: This even I don't know.NDTV: You would not accept that he has been marginalised by you?Ashok Gehlot: The question does not arise. NDTV: Are you saying that you are willing to make peace? Ashok Gehlot: Forget the issues between Pilot and me. Why is the media meddling in this?NDTV: Lastly, you seem confident that despite all this, Congress will perform, but Rajasthan has this repeating pattern. Ashok Gehlot: There is no pattern, we can break patterns. It looks like it will change this time, based on the response of the people. I think we would form the government.NDTV: Is there a risk that if Sachin Pilot is not made the CM, he will revolt again? Ashok Gehlot: You are asking hypothetical questions again. I don't answer hypothetical questions.NDTV: But you are a politician, and as a politician you look at the future and assess if there is any risk. Is this a risk? Do you think there could be issues again?Ashok Gehlot: All these are hypothetical questions. I have no response to them. Media should teach people to love each other, not to fight. NDTV: We are not making people fight; what was our role in what happened? Anyway, let's see. Thank you Ashok ji that you spoke to us. let's see what happens in the elections. Ashok Gehlot: Everything will be fine.
Residents of Bet Dwarka, Okha town and local journalists were caught unawares as a huge contingent comprising policemen from four districts swamped Bet Dwarka island on October 1, accompanying JCB excavators and dump trucks into its narrow lanes.Over the next week, around a hundred structures were razed, including shops and homes and more than two dozen religious structures of the minority community, with officers claiming to have cleared area measuring 1 lakh sq feet. Police imposed restrictions on movement during this time to and from Bet Dwarka, a 36-sq km island with a population of around 15,000, located off the Okha coast.A month later, the drive on the island, which holds the Shree Dwarkadhis Mukhya Mandir dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is believed to have set up his kingdom here, plus other Hindu temples, has become a recurring theme in the narrative of the BJP’s election campaign.Days later, the demolition drive had started assuming political colours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi “congratulated” Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel at a public meeting in neighbouring Jamnagar district on October 11, while launching some government projects.He said the drive had shown Gujarat the “mrudu ane makkam (soft and firm)” face of Patel, a description Modi is fond of when it comes to the CM. “People were revelling after constructing illegal constructions on the coastline… they were all cleared, silently… So much land (was cleared) and Bet Dwarka’s pride (restored). I noted statements of the culture lovers, saints and religious heads. It made me happy.”Demolition drives were conducted simultaneously in neighbouring Porbandar and Gir Somnath districts, and a few dozen structures, including a dargah, were razed in these coastal districts.Then, as the campaign for the coming elections picked up, on November 18, three JCBs decorated with flowers were parked at the entrance to the venue of a rally by Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath in Wankaner in Morbi district. Two days later, PM Modi talked about raids on Somnath temple by Islamic invaders in the Middle Ages while addressing a public meeting near Somnath temple in Gir Somnath district. The next day, an Adityanath rally at Chowpatty Ground in Porbandar saw a JCB on the maidan.Then, for the first time this election, the BJP mentioned the issue outside Saurashtra region, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah raising it at a meeting in Khambhat in Anand district on Tuesday. “Our Bhupendrabhai (CM Bhupendra Patel) and Harshbhai (Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi) demolished the fake mazaars in Bet Dwarka. They were all encroachments in the name of mazaars and they were cleared, but the Congress said we were polarising,” said Shah. Vowing to continue the “clean-up”, Shah underlined that the BJP government had also built the shikhar (crest) of a temple of Goddess Kali in Panchmahal distict by shifting a mazaar.Even as Shah talked about “fake” mazaars while campaigning in Khambhat, the BJP candidate for Dwarka constituency (under which Bet Dwarka falls), Pabubha Manek, was telling voters to make up for the support he was “set to lose due to the demolition drive”. He said he had cleared the demolition “at the risk of losing votes”.“Even I didn’t know there was so much encroachment… They (BJP leaders) asked me how much it would affect me in the elections. I said it would affect me a great deal, but it was not appropriate to stop the work due to this. So, I said demolish,” Manek said addressing a gathering in Bhatiya village. He went on to urge them to vote for him “in the name of Dwarkadhis”. “I told BJP leaders that we will tell people to work a bit harder for me… We have to offset the loss.”All through his series of meetings Tuesday evening, Manek urged people to attend Adityanath’s Wednesday meeting in Dwarka, calling him a saint and ascetic “whose darshan was a rare opportunity”.At his meeting in Dwarka town Wednesday, Adityanath praised the “bhavya karyakram (grand programme)” going on in Bet Dwarka for its “purnodhhar (restoration)”.Manek, who was also present, called Modi and Aditynath God’s “chosen ones” and said people should not view them as mere PM or CM. He added: “Those who want to do good for their country, they have to do good deeds for seven lives. Our Modiji and Yogiji, when they did their fill of punya in one avatar, two, four, uptil seven, they were told (by God) that you (Modi) take the seat of Delhi and you (Aditynath) take the seat of UP, and do good with a (bull) dozer.”Manek went on to lament that he had forgotten to park a JCB outside the venue, and that he should have done it so that “Baba (Adityanath) could know that even residents of Dwarka have started knowing him”.While Manek told The Indian Express he was confident of retaining the Muslim vote, BJP insiders admitted that the community in Okha and Bet Dwarka that has been steadfast supporter of Manek is likely to turn away from the party.“Manek will lose a few Muslim votes,” admits a senior BJP leader. However, he adds, “We expect to make that loss good by consolidating non-Muslim votes, which are decisive.”
Pabubha Manek, the BJP candidate from Dwarka, has never lost an election from the Assembly seat – winning it consecutively seven times, since 1990. The last time he defeated the Congress’ Meraman Goriya by 5,739 votes.This Assembly election, Congress has given ticket to Mulu Kandoriya, the leader from Ahir community who had fought against Manek in 2012 also but had lost to the BJP MLA by 5616 votes. As Congress denied ticket to Goriya, the former Congress MLA from adjoining Khambhalia Assembly seat, to challenge Manek one more time, he quit Congress last week and joined BJP and has since been campaigning for Manek.Manek’s unshakeable hold on the seat is at least partially attributed to support from all communities, including Muslims. That may now be hit after the Bet Dwarka demolitions, including of minority religious structures, which the BJP is tom-tomming in its campaign.Both Kandoriya and Goriya have been unable to defeat Manek despite belonging to the largest group of voters in Dwarka seat, of the Ahirs (around 52,000). They are followed by another OBC group, Sathvaras (40,000), with Vaghers, the community Manek hails from, third at around 25,000. Muslims, mainly concentrated in Okha, Bet Dwarka and the Rupen harbour, are only partially behind, at around 24,000, followed by Dalits (15,000).This time, complicating the equations is the nomination by the Aam Aadmi Party of Lakhman Nakum, a Sathvara, from Dwarka.Comprising the temple town Dwarka, the harbour town Okha, the Bet Dwarka island as well as Raval municipality, the Dwarka constituency is largely rural, with agriculture and fishing the main occupations, apart from jobs at a Tata Chemicals plant near Okha. Religious tourism has seen a boom in recent years with Dwarka being one of the four Char Dhams. Ferry boats remain the lifeline between Bet Dwarka and the mainland, with work on a sea-link that began in 2017 still ongoing.Following his 2017 loss, Goriya had moved the Gujarat High Court seeking Manek’s disqualification over an alleged error in the latter’s poll affidavit. While the High Court had granted his plea in April 2019, the Supreme Court ordered a stay, and the matter rested there.Asked about the secret of his success, Manek told The Indian Express, “I am not elected but selected, by voters of all communities. My mantra is to help people as much I can, but to never be a hurdle to anyone.”Addressing an election rally for Manek Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath noted that seven politicians, including Goriya, who had fought election against Manek in the past were seated on the dias beside him.In another marker of success, Manek, a school dropout, today runs shipping, transport and real estate businesses among others. He declared assets worth Rs 144 crore this time, including those in the name of his wife and family.
Gujarat Polls: Pabubha Manek said he has been winning the Dwarka for the last eight terms.Dwarka (Gujarat): Dwarka Assembly seat should be considered one of the safest bets for BJP in the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections. The reason is Pabubha Manek, an MLA who has not lost a single election in the last 32 years. BJP has entrusted Manek, to win the seat for the party for the third straight time.Pabubha Manek, who has never lost an election since 1990, won the first three elections as an independent (1990, 95, 98), then joined the Congress and won the seat in 2002. Later, he won the Assembly elections of 2007, 2012 and 2017 on a BJP ticket.Speaking to ANI on Wednesday, Manek, claiming the support and affection of all communities in the constituency, said that he has been "selected and not elected" for this long."I am selected, not elected. I have been winning the Dwarka seat for the last eight terms, out of which I was an independent candidate three times, a Congress candidate once and now in BJP. I have got the affection of all the communities," he said.Asked about the new challenge of the Aam Aadmi Party in the upcoming polls, in which the party is looking to make inroads into the state, Manek said that Arvind Kejriwal-led party which has promised a series of freebies in the state including free electricity, monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 for all women above 18 etc, would not work in the state as the people here believe in "earning their livelihood"."There is always a challenge. Freebies do not work in Gujarat. Gujaratis believe in earning their livelihood, freebies would not work here," he said."There is no fight in entire Gujarat. The reality on the ground is BJP will win the Khambhalia seat," Manek added when enquired about AAP's Chief Ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi who is contesting from the Khambhalia seat and is being seen as a strong force against the BJP.Talking about Congress which is also looking to return to power cashing in the issues like unemployment and the recent Morbi tragedy, Manek said that the youth does not want the grand-old party as they "see their future" in the BJP."The youth do not want Congress. BJP is working for the development of the state which is why they want us. They see their future in us," he said.Manek said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has almost finished the caste factor in the Assembly elections and the little left would be done away with after 2024."Congress sowed the seeds of casteism when the country was divided on the basis of religion. But PM Modi has finished it. But the little casteism that is left will be finished after 2024," he said while talking about the caste factor in the voting in the Saurashtra region.The BJP MLA further gave a clean chit to the state government in regard to the Morbi bridge collapse incident that claimed the lives of over 130 people."Morbi was an accident and the government had no role in it," he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comIn the 2012 Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections, Pabubha Manek of the BJP had defeated Ahir Kandoria Mulubhai Ranmalbhai of the Indian National Congress by 5,616 votes. Manek got a total of 73,431 votes while Ahir Markhi got 67,692 votes. Nationalist Congress Party candidate Madam Ranmalbhai Lakhubhai came third with 2,829 votes. The top three parties got 48.2%, 44.5% and 1.9% respectively.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayOne-Year-Old Dies Due To Measles In Mumbai, 10 Deaths This Year
Good Morning,Big StoryInquiring about the “mechanism” through which former IAS officer Arun Goel was appointed Election Commissioner last week, the Supreme Court directed the government to produce the file relating to his appointment and said “if you are in the right, as you claim, that there is no hanky panky, then there is nothing to fear”. Only in the ExpressThe Supreme Court is creating a minor buzz by hearing a case pertaining to the appointment of the election commissioners. In today’s Opinion, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: “The role of the CJI in selection committees can be counterproductive. Institutionally, the desire within the judiciary to get more entangled in appointments is possibly more about leverage than virtue. It risks violating the separation of powers.”From the Front PageA day after five persons from Meghalaya’s Mukroh village were killed in a clash over alleged timber-smuggling with Assam Police, which opened fire and claimed later they were forced to do so in self-defence, there remained tension and fear in the air in the village along the border with Assam. The big question among residents of Mukroh was: “When will those people with guns come here again?”With 13 deaths over the last month and a sharp spike in cases, Mumbai and its surrounding areas are staring at a measles outbreak. Until Wednesday, the city had reported 233 confirmed cases, of which over 200 were reported in the last two months. This is a huge jump from the last few years — 10 cases and 1 death in 2021; 29 cases and no death in 2020; and 37 cases and 3 deaths in 2019. Must ReadC Rangarajan, an expert and veteran policy maker who has had a ringside view of the Indian economy over decades, weighs in on the factors that’re driving the depreciation of the rupee, and why it is essential to contain domestic inflation to stop the slide. He writes: “I will say that even in India inflation is at a higher level. We had set 6% as the upper limit in the inflation targeting scheme, but the inflation rate has been above 6% for almost nine months. Therefore, we too need to control inflation.” The new centre of BJP-AAP slugfest ahead of MCD polls is the saffron party’s candidate Pradeep Tiwary, who was arrested in March for vandalism outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence. The AAP slammed the BJP on its pick, saying it was now clear that “BJP produces gunda and felicitates them for hooliganism and vandalism”.The Iron Dome has helped Israel spot and intercept every projectile fired at it since 2011. The air defence system fires its own missiles that intercept the enemy rockets. Each interceptor hits the rocket mid-air and destroys it. We explain as to why it is the country’s best guard against enemy rockets.And FinallyWith Japan’s victory against Germany, the Fifa World Cup is witnessing the underdog uprising. The 83rd minute winning goal could potentially be the greatest ever goal in the history of Japan football. With a similar script to Saudi Arabia, the Samurai Blue have proved that they are not pushovers. We report from Qatar. Delhi Confidential: On his 60th birthday, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla received a slew of greetings, including from President Droupadi Murmu, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, Birla spent the day at Indergarh, a small village in his constituency in Rajasthan resolving some issues concerning the farming community.In today’s episode of the ‘3 Things’ Podcast, we take a look at election campaigns in Gujarat’s tribal areas and redeveloping tribal areas as ideal tourist destinations, starting with the statue of Unity. Until tomorrow, Rounak Bagchi and Aneesa PA
RAJKOT: Jewellers of Rajkot have threatened to boycott the Assembly election and go on an indefinite strike if what they call harassment by the surveillance teams of the Election Commission does not stop. Various associations have submitted memorandums to the district collector and police commissioner highlighting their concerns. According to jewellers, the surveillance teams have cordoned off the entire Soni Bazar and Palace Road and they are checking not only the vehicles but also the purses of customers, traders and workers coming there. Surveillance teams have also been deployed big showrooms on Palace Road and some buildings where many shops are located. Rajkot is famous for jewellery making. Generally, traders from nearby small centres come to Rajkot for making jewellery, buying bullion and repairing of ornaments. They normally exchange bullion and ornaments. For example, a jeweller looking for ornaments of a particular design would come to the market with bullion and order for the ornaments. Workers who make jewellery for various jewellers take bullion form the jewellers and supply ornaments. This entire transaction is run on ‘kaccha chittha’. “But the surveillance teams don’t consider ‘kaccha note’ and they seize the jewellery and ask us to collect it after election by producing relevant documents,’’ said a jeweller. Because of this “harassment”, traders from nearby small centres have stopped coming to Rajkot now, he claimed. Mayur Adesara, secretory of Gems and Jewellery Association of Rajkot, said: “The teams check our men on the public road. We do not know who else watches during this checking. Checking on the public road exposes our men to danger. Who will be responsible if that worker is attacked with the intention of robbery?” According to jewellers, this is a marriage season and customers come to the market with huge cash but they are being harassed and asked to produce documents and cash amount up to Rs 2 lakh to 3 lakh is being seized. The jewellers say they do not have any problem if police intercept people on specific information. Association president Divyesh Patadiya said, “We have given an ultimatum and if the situation continues, we will be forced to close down the market and boycott the election.” There are about 700 retail and wholesale shops in Soni Bazar and over 1,000 other shops of workers who take the job of ornament making.
Here, booths record near-100% voter turnout — state prisons are getting ready to provide ballots to 390 persons detained under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act. Voting at prisons is likely to take place next week, ahead of the first round of voting on December 1 for the general public. One of the detainees, Abdul Kadir Mehboob Saiyed, 40, currently lodged at Rajkot Central Jail, had filled up the form to contest for the Navsari constituency as a Social Democratic Party of India candidate. However, according to the Election Commission of India (ECI) website, his form was rejected. State prisons department officials said that as of Tuesday evening, jails had 390 persons , including 381 men and nine women, were detained under PASA. These detainees will cast their votes if they remain behind bars next week. Prison officials said thatmore often than not, the category records almost 100% voting. K L N Rao, ADGP (prisons), said that all preparations have been made to ensure that prisoners eligible to vote can do so. The department’s officials said that according to the procedure, the names of the detainees are sent to the ECI along with their names and constituencies they belong to. “After verification, the ECI issues sealed postal ballots which are given to the detainees. They tick the name and the symbol of the candidate they have chosen after which the envelope is sealed again and sent to the returning officer,” said an official. “These ballots are tallied first when the counting starts. ” Experts said that convicts and undertrials are not allowed to vote in line with the election commission’s directive. State prisons have their own system of organizing elections to form internal committees of inmates to run the administration in prisons. This exercise also involves canvassing for candidates.
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat University on Wednesday announced that second-year MBBS exams will begin on December 23. On November 19, a week after students whose exams were originally scheduled for December 2 demanded that the exams be postponed due to them clashing with polling for the state assembly election, the university had postponed the exams to December 9. Voting day is December 1 for the first phase and December 5 for the second.Sources said the university further delayed the exams after students' associations asked for a further deferral. The university also said that exams for paramedical courses have also been deferred to December 9. Students had said the university had postponed all exams that were clashing with polling dates except those of second year MBBS, MSc Nursing and PG physiotherapy.
Ahmedabad: A week after about 1,700 students whose weeklong MBBS second-year final exams were to begin on December 2, demanded that the exams be postponed as they clash with polling dates for the state assembly election, the university on Saturday postponed the exams to December 9. Voting day is December 1 for the first phase December 5 for the second. Students said Gujarat University has postponed all exams that were clashing with polling dates except for the second year MBBS, MSc nursing and PG physiotherapy exams. Students had said they would be unable to vote with the current exam schedule. Earlier GU had announced that the examinations that were to begin on November 22 and December 8 have been postponed due to the assembly election. A statement from the university said the likely new dates are December 12 and December 27, respectively. Semester examinations for the commerce, business management, science, law and education faculties have been postponed as most of the teaching staff have been given election duties. Many college and university campuses are also being used as polling stations. The university will announce a detailed exam schedule at a later stage, the university had said. Sources said GU postponed the exams after receiving many complaints from studnets and parents. Sources said that one of the reasons for postponing the exams is that LD Engineering College is selected as one of the counting centers and EVMs will also be stored there. This would have created a lot of disturbance during the exams as LD Engineering College is located in the GU campus area. Students welcoming the decision said that postponing the exams will help many MBBS students who are studying at colleges in Ahmedabad are registered as voters from other towns and villages and would have to travel to their home towns to vote. According to election commission figures, there are 11.74 lakh first-time voters in the state and 93,000 of them are from Ahmedabad.
AHMEDABAD: A week after 1,700-odd second-year MBBS students - whose final exams were to begin on December 2 - demanded that the exams be postponed as they clash with polling dates for the state assembly election, Gujarat University on Saturday postponed the exams to December 9. Voting day is December 1 for the first phase December 5 for the second. Students said Gujarat University had postponed all exams that were clashing with polling dates except for the second-year MBBS, MSc Nursing and PG Physiotherapy exams. Students said they would be unable to vote due to the earlier exam schedule. The university had earlier said that the exams that were to begin on November 22 and December 8 had been postponed due to the assembly election. A statement from the university said the likely new dates are December 12 and December 27, respectively.
Campaigning for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections in villages of the state’s Devbhumi Dwarka district Tuesday, BJP MLA and candidate Pabubha Manek said he gave permission to the demolition of unauthorised structures on the Bet Dwarka island even while running the risk of losing votes.The district administration of Devbhumi Dwarka, Okha municipality, and other departments of the state government had launched a joint demolition drive against unauthorised encroachments on the island, which is near Okha and believed to be the residence of Lord Krishna, on October 1. Around 100 structures constructed mainly by the minority community, including about 30 religious structures, were demolished during the week-long drive.Addressing a gathering in the Bhatiya village under Kalyanpur taluka, Manek said he has been asked whether the demolition drive would affect his prospects in the Assembly polls. “When the island was surrounded from all sides, officers took the responsibility. I didn’t know that it (encroachment) had grown that much. They (officers) spotted it. They (BJP) told me they will give the election ticket to me only and then asked me how much would it (the demolition) affect me. I said it will affect me a great deal but it was not fair to stop that work just because of that effect. So, I said ‘enu shiv shiv kari nakho’ (demolish them),” Manek said to a round of applause.Manek, who represents the Dwarka constituency in the Gujarat Assembly, said he told party leaders he would manage the impact. “I said we will tell people to work a bit harder… You have to offset that loss,” the BJP leader, who will be contesting his eighth consecutive election, told the gathering ahead of the Gujarat polls on December 1 and December 5.Manek has won the Gujarat Assembly elections in 1990 and 1995, and the 1998 poll as an Independent and as a Congress candidate in 2002. Later, he switched over to the BJP and won the elections in 2007, 2012, and 2017 as its candidate.When asked by The Indian Express whether the demolition drive will impact the Assembly election, Manek said it won’t. “Elections continue round the year. Taluka panchayat, district panchayat, municipality, Assembly, Parliament, and so on. Work of country’s security and development have to go. If one keeps only election in mind, no work can ever be done,” he said.Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have been mentioning the Bet Dwarka demolition in their election speeches, Manek insisted the demolition drive is not even a poll issue. “How can it be an issue? People living there say it is a very good development because even they didn’t know that terrorists were coming from outside and using and good Muslims are saying that that (activity) was the worse thing.”Muslims, who are mainly concentrated on Bet Dwarka, Rupen Harbour, and Okha town and hold around 25000 votes in the Dwarka Assembly constituency, have traditionally, voted for Manek and the BJP leader claimed they will do the same in this election as well. “Muslims have been supporters of the country but some of them were swayed by disputes, disturbance, and communalism promoted by Congress. Then our Prime Minister came (and gave the slogan of) Sauno Saath, Sauno Vikas. They felt that something good is happening. So, gradually, they started coming back…” said Manek, adding he has visited the island three to four times after the week-long demolition drive.The BJP leader also urged the gathering to attend the election meeting organised by him on Wednesday, which will be addressed by Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath Wednesday. “Don’t look at Yogi as a Chief Minister. Yogi is a committed ascetic and saint. Getting his darshan is difficult. He will come to Dwarka at 10 am tomorrow… If some of you and those who are in touch with you want to come, you are free to hire a vehicle. We will pay the fares… But come you must… It is punya (virtue) to meet such people,” he said.“He is not afraid of anyone. You must have heard on TV that Pakistan says that Narenrabhai (Modi) is okay but that UP Chief Minister is very dangerous. Pakistan is fearful of him and trembles wondering what will he do to them if he wins. So you come, have darshan of Dwarkadheesh (Lord Krishna), don’t swim in the Gomati but just have suryasnan and then come to the meeting,” he told the gathering.He extended his invitation to the people of the Juvanpar and Ran villages as well.
Ahmedabad: Though the 2022 Gujarat election is emerging as a triangular contest, fewer candidates are in the fray compared to the previous two elections. This poll has 1,621 contestants, while the 2012 poll had 1,668, and the 2017 poll had 1,828. Three seats have only three candidates each. Limbayat has the highest number of candidates at 44, followed by Bapunagar at 29.Election officials said that in this poll there are more seats with one to five candidates, compared to the 2017 poll. Moreover, the number of seats with six to 10 contestants has also grown. There has been a considerable drop in the number of constituencies with 11 to 25 candidates.Of the 1,621 candidates in the current poll, 788 will fight for the 89 Phase I seats and 833 will vie for the 93 Phase II seats. The officials said that prima facie it appears the number of independents is fewer now compared to the previous elections. In 2017, 783 fought the election as independent candidates. In all, 3,872 forms were filled for the 2022 clash; 813 forms were rejected and over 500 withdrawn.The ruling BJP has fielded candidates on all the 182 seats, while the Congress has fielded candidates on 179 seats and allocated three seats to the NCP as part of a pre-poll alliance. The Devgadh Baria seat was given to the NCP and Gopsinh Lavar was asked to file his nomination. But on Monday, he withdrew his nomination, setting up a direct contest between the BJP and the AAP. An independent is also in the fray. The NCP’s hitherto sole MLA in Gujarat, Kandhal Jadeja, is standing for election as an SP candidate from Kutiyana.
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.