On Sunday, as office-bearers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took oath in Ahmedabad, national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched an attack on the Congress, calling it “a party only on paper” and urging AAP workers to ensure that “not a single vote is cast for it” in the state.The statement indicated that AAP, which had contested 29 seats in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections and lost deposits in all, has identified the Congress as its main opponent. And that as the first step in a state ruled by the BJP now for 27 years, is seeking to replace the Congress as the main Opposition.The BJP too seems to be recalibrating its political messaging, ahead of the approaching elections. Its attacks are now increasingly directed at the Congress in a bid to downplay the challenge from AAP – a party that has been causing the BJP some heartburn in several parts of the country.The two-day visit that concluded on Monday was Kejriwal’s fifth in two months to Gujarat, as part of its push in the state, which includes a membership drive, overhaul of the organisation, building of a cadre base, and appointment of Rajya Sabha MP and key strategist Sandeep Pathak as the state in-charge. Sunday’s speech indicated that while AAP’s social media campaign might be aimed at the BJP, it would refocus its energy on the Congress.Addressing some 7,000 new office-bearers, Kerjiwal asked them to conduct door-to-door campaigns, and educate voters on the “free electricity” and “free education” model of AAP in Delhi and Punjab. “We have to tell the people that there is no use voting for the Congress. Last time, they voted for the Congress, and today see how many Congress MLAs have left their own party… They should not waste their votes. The office-bearers of AAP must ensure that not a single vote is cast in favour of the Congress this Assembly election,” said Kejriwal.HISTORIC MOMENT IN GUJARAT POLITICS‼️A Record 6988 office bearers of AAP were administered the oath to serve the people honestly by AAP National Convenor @ArvindKejriwal.This is the beginning of “Change” in Gujarat!🔥#AAPGujaratShapathGrahan pic.twitter.com/95WGX4fZpa— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) July 3, 2022He said that people voted for the Congress as they did not have an alternative in the state if they were angry with the BJP. “On voting day, they see the option of the Congress and are forced to vote for the BJP. The votes of all such people should come to us. If we ensure this, then I say with conviction that the next government is ours,” Kejriwal said.After putting up its best result in 25 years in Gujarat, winning 77 of 182 seats in the Assembly elections of 2017 – wresting 36 of these from the BJP – the Congress has lost as many as 29 MLAs, with the last as recently as May, with most of them defecting to the BJP. Its tally in the House now is 64. Among those to leave was working president Hardik Patel, while its other hope, philanthropist-industrialist Patidar leader Naresh Patel, eventually decided to “not join politics”.The BJP has been wary of AAP since it struck rich in last year’s municipal corporation elections in Surat, the bastion of Gujarat BJP chief C R Paatil, winning 27 seats (all earlier held by the Congress). Last week, the BJP responded in kind to a Delhi team visiting Gujarat schools, by sending one of its own to the Capital, in a bid to bust one of AAP government’s showpiece initiatives.As part of its Assembly poll plan, AAP is expected to zero in first on the 36 Assembly constituencies it took from the BJP in 2017.Speaking to The Indian Express, AAP Gujarat president Gopal Italia said that “the Congress doesn’t have any strongholds in any of the belts of Gujarat”. “We have always maintained that the BJP and Congress behave like the A team and B team of one party… When there are only two runners in a race, then it’s obvious that one of them will come second. But we have come to change that scenario.”Admitting a decision to direct their attention to the Congress, Italia said: “Arvind Kejriwal noticed that the Congress is not doing anything on the ground in Gujarat so he asked karyakartas to target anti-BJP voters. We will tell people who have anger against the BJP that this time they are not helpless as AAP has arrived as an alternative.”Retaliating to AAP claims, Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said it was only helping the BJP. “AAP has been unable to govern Delhi and Punjab where crime and corruption are rampant. Now as an ally of the BJP, they want to enter Gujarat targeting the Congress. But the voters are better educated about AAP and will give them a befitting reply in the elections,” Doshi said.
AHMEDABAD: AAP convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal promised that people of Gujarat will get free electricity if his party is voted to power in the forthcoming assembly election. He was speaking at an interactive session, 'Bijli Jansamvaad', organized by the AAP in Ahmedabad on Monday. A number of people listed out the difficulties they are facing in relation to power supply. Kejriwal announced that he will visit the state next Sunday "with a solution to Gujarat's electricity problem." Kejriwal said: "Gujarat can also get free, 24-hour electricity, but the condition is only one, and that is you will have to change the politics, the government, and bring in an honest party." The AAP chief said he will visit the state every week to interact with the public on various issues such as corruption, agriculture, and MSP.
AHMEDABAD: AAP convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal promised that people of Gujarat will get free electricity if his party is voted to power in the forthcoming assembly election. He was speaking at an interactive session, ‘Bijli Jansamvaad’, organized by the AAP in Ahmedabad on Monday. A number of people listed out the difficulties they are facing in relation to power supply. Kejriwal announced that he will visit the state next Sunday “with a solution to Gujarat’s electricity problem.” Kejriwal said: “Gujarat can also get free, 24-hour electricity, but the condition is only one, and that is you will have to change the politics, the government, and bring in an honest party.” The AAP chief said he will visit the state every week to interact with the public on various issues such as corruption, agriculture, and minimum support price. Asserting that it was possible to provide free power to citizens without burdening them with additional taxes or piling up loans, the Delhi CM said his experience has shown that 70-80% of electricity bills are inflated. “Today, 73% of Delhi’s power users get zero electricity bills and about 80% of the users of Punjab will get zero electricity bills,” he said. These achievements have been possible without taking any loans or levying additional taxes, Kejriwal said.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said that “free” and “uninterrupted” electricity will be available in Gujarat, provided people are ready to “change politics” in the 2022 Assembly elections and bring the party to power.The Delhi Chief Minister was on a two-day visit to the state where he attended a town hall event near Vaishno Devi circle in Ahmedabad on Monday noon on the issue of free electricity, where he reiterated his poll promise of providing power free of cost.“Free and uninterrupted electricity supply is a talisman and I only possess it. No one else in the world has introduced free power supply except our government. We are honest people with noble intentions and we don’t want to make money from power companies. Electricity can be free, cheaper and uninterrupted in Gujarat as well, provided you are ready to change politics and bring us to power,” said Kejriwal.Kejriwal attacked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress for their alleged failure to make power supply an election issue.“Elections are coming in Gujarat and today we have assembled to discuss the problem of electricity here. I would like to ask you all that AAP is contesting elections for the first time in Gujarat but there have been many elections contested by the BJP and Congress. Has any party sat with you people to discuss the issue of electricity?” Kejriwal said.“They come, organize huge rallies, deliver big speeches and make big promises but then they loot the people for the next five years. Our party workers have been visiting villages in Gujarat, listening to the grievances of the people. Such people who only have 2-3 fans and bulbs, even they are getting electricity bills of thousands of rupees. If poor people have to pay electricity bills of thousands of rupees every month, then how are they supposed to send their kids to school and ensure two times meals? Why is electricity so expensive in Gujarat?,” he further said.Kejriwal accused ministers and elected representatives in the state of “consuming thousands of units of electricity” for free.“Ministers and elected representatives are making merry in Gujarat…they have several ACs in their bungalows yet their electricity bill comes to zero. Whereas you people, despite having only a few fans, bulbs, TV and a fridge at your home, have to spend thousands on the bill. This is unfair. The facilities given to these politicians must be extended to the common people also,” he added.Kejriwal also attacked the BJP government over the power supply provided to state’s farmers.“I got to know that farmers in Gujarat get electricity only during night hours. What is the logic behind this? On top of that, the rate of steep and there are frequent power cuts. I think the Gujarat secretariat Bhawan should get electricity only during night hours for a few days and these ministers should work only during this time. If our farmers will stay awake all night for electricity, when will they sleep?” said Kejriwal.At the end of the event, Kejriwal also promised the audience that he will return to Gujarat next Sunday, “with a solution for free electricity in Gujarat.”
Arvind Kejriwal claimed that 73 per cent of the people in Delhi get zero electricity bill.Ahmedabad: Ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due later this year, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said he will visit the state every week to interact with the public on various issues like corruption and farming, and claimed it was possible to provide free electricity to people if they bring an "honest party" to power in the state.The Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) national convener said his party has shown in Delhi and Punjab that they stick to their promise."Gujarat can also get cheap, free, 24-hour electricity, but the condition is only one, and that is you will have to change the politics, government, and bring in an honest party...I will be back on Sunday with a solution to Gujarat's electricity problem," Mr Kejriwal said during a town hall organised on the issue of electricity.When some members of the general public raised various issues affecting them, the AAP leader said he will discuss them separately."Today, we should discuss electricity. We will discuss other issues as well. I will visit Gujarat every week and hold 'jan samvad' (public dialogue) on the issues of corruption, agriculture, MSP (minimum support price)," he said.Mr Kejriwal said if Gujarat ministers can enjoy zero electricity bills despite consuming thousands of units, then why not the general public.If farmers in Gujarat are supplied electricity at night, then ministers should also be given the opportunity to work at night for some time at the secretariat, he said during the town hall, referring to an issue raised by a farmer that power supply for agriculture at night adversely affects their life.Mr Kejriwal, without naming anyone, also accused BJP leaders of lying by claiming that there are no power cuts in Gujarat.He said a "very big leader" from Gujarat said people of the state do not want anything for free. "First you give up free electricity...," he said."They are scared that if people are provided free electricity, then they will have no money left to loot," he said.Mr Kejriwal said the "magic" behind their ability to provide free electricity is their clean conscience and honesty."We do not ask for money from power companies, we improve them, we work in the interest of the public. Other parties seek donations for elections from such companies, but we do not seek donations. You are our donation," he said.Sharing the experience of Delhi where the AAP government provides free electricity up to 200 units, Mr Kejriwal said as soon as his party assumed office, power companies were warned not to raise the unit rates."We said we have nothing to do if you gave money to former governments, but our government is honest, we will not ask for a single penny from you. But, you should not raise the electricity rates. They have not raised the rate in the last seven years," the Delhi CM said."We provide subsidies to the public after saving money on corruption, which is why they are enjoying free electricity. When we managed to do so in Delhi, the BJP and Congress said this cannot be done in a larger state, so we won in Punjab," he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comHe claimed that 73 per cent of the people in Delhi get zero electricity bill. In Punjab, where the scheme was introduced from July 1, it will be around 80 per cent, he added.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
AHMEDABAD: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal promised that people of state will get free electricity if his party is voted to power in the forthcoming Gujarat assembly election. He was speaking at an interactive session - 'Bijli Jansamvaad', organised by the party in Ahmedabad on Monday. Even as a number of power users listed out the difficulties they are facing regarding electricity, Kejriwal announced that he will visit Gujarat next Sunday "with a solution to Gujarat’s electricity problem." Asserting that it was possible to provide free power to citizens without burdening them with additional taxes or piling up loans, the Delhi CM said that his experience has shown that 70% to 80% of electricity bills are inflated. "Today 73% of Delhi power users get zero electricity bills and about 80% users of Punjab will get zero electricity bills," he said. Kejriwal said that this has been possible without taking any loans or levying additional taxes. "I am a literate man, an engineer and I have worked in the IT department. I have done my calculations well." he quipped to a round of applause. Hinting at a complete overhaul of the electricity distribution system, he said that providing free power is like performing magic. An art which only he knows. "The secret to free electricity is that I have stopped electricity companies from fleecing people," he said. Commenting on the Gujarat government providing power to farmers during the night hours, the Delhi CM remarked, "If farmers get electricity at night, then the secretariat should also get power only at night." "Elected representatives are using thousands of units of power without paying anything. Some may have installed air conditioners in their toilets too and yet get zero electricity bills. People of the state should get the same benefits as the elected representatives," he said.
Arvind Kejriwal also condemned the killings in Maharashtra's Amravati and in Rajasthan's Udaipur.Ahmedabad (Gujarat): With just a few months left for the Gujarat Assembly election, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday urged the Gujrati people to vote for AAP saying that "those who are not satisfied with BJP should vote for us"."We are not here to engage in dirty politics or corruption. We are here to help people. We are doing good work in Delhi and Punjab. Don't waste your vote on Congress. Those who are not satisfied with BJP should vote for us," said Arvind Kejriwal addressing a gathering in Ahmedabad.As many as 6,988 AAP office-bearers took oath on Sunday."The common man in Gujarat wants a change. They are joining hands with the AAP... There are no Congress office-bearers or volunteers in Gujarat, but lakhs from AAP. Within a month, we'd be bigger than even BJP," said Mr Kejriwal.Expressing hope and confidence over the AAP's victory in the 2022 Gujarat elections, the Delhi Chief Minister said, "AAP is expanding on a huge scale in Gujarat. People are tired of the 27 years of BJP. BJP thinks Congress can't replace them so they have developed ego. People are looking with hope towards AAP this time."The Delhi Chief Minister also condemned the killings in Maharashtra's Amravati and in Rajasthan's Udaipur.On June 28, a tailor Kanhaiyalal Kumar was murdered by two men inside his shop in Udaipur in the broad daylight, while a chemist shop owner Umesh Kolhe was killed by several men in Amravati on June 21.On the incident, the Delhi Chief Minister said, "Whatever is happening is wrong, the country can't move forward like this. There should be peace and unity. I condemn this and hope that the accused get the strictest punishments."AAP's Gujarat hope has been fuelled by its performance in the February 2021 Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) polls in which the BJP won 93 seats, while Aam Aadmi Party bagged 27 seats in the Surat Municipal Corporation election.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe Assembly election in Gujarat is scheduled for December 2022.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat had the task of leading the Congress into the Assembly elections this year. He lost from the Lalkuan constituency while the party’s tally slumped to 19 seats. In a wide-ranging interview, Rawat talks to The Indian Express about his party’s heavy loss, his future and that of the party, and the BJP government’s performance.Excerpts:The Pushkar Singh Dhami administration has completed 100 days and is making several claims about the work it has done. How do you rate the government’s performance?I feel that 100 days are not enough to judge a chief minister’s performance. We need at least one year and only in that much time, we can understand the direction a government is working in and what its intention is. News items have appeared that there has been corruption in giving jobs. The government itself has accepted that there is some corruption in recruitment in cooperative banks. The law-and-order situation is deteriorating. In the last 100 days, at least 10,000 youths have joined the list of the unemployed. Over 200 persons died during the Chardham Yatra. Where are the medical services? Roads are in the worst condition. There are frequent power cuts.You have been protesting against the Agnipath scheme. What is your take on it?It is a fraud against more than 50,000 youngsters who completed their medical and physical tests and were waiting for their appointment. Now you are saying that recruitment will take place afresh through the new scheme. In states like Uttarakhand and Haryana, being in the Army is a matter of great pride.When a 21-year-old will retire, what will he do? Where are the posts? In Uttarakhand, around 18,000 persons have lost their jobs since the BJP government came to power. Their chief minister is saying that they will give reservation to Agniveers in jobs. How will you give reservation beyond 50 per cent? There is no state where the reservation isn’t already close to 48-50 per cent.You have praised CM Dhami on several occasions.Yes. In fact, I am again going to appreciate him for promoting honey and bay leaf in Champawat. I have also praised him for making significant demands (seeking an extension of the GST compensation and on share on the Tehri dam) in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But there should be results too.It is good that he is trying to amend the mistake he made during the division of assets with Uttar Pradesh and said 25 per cent share of Uttar Pradesh should be given to us. I appreciate this. The demand for an extension of the GST compensation is also appreciable, and I am saying that it needs to be increased for 10 years. If the CM is making the right noise, I will stand by him. However, if his voice is not heard, I will say that the ‘double engine’ they keep talking about is a non-starter.The Supreme Court has commented on the Nupur Sharma controversy.I appreciate the Supreme Court comment and thank it. The decision has also shown a mirror to the Central government and the BJP.After your loss, we heard you saying that the Muslim University controversy was the main reason behind your defeat.First, there were some faults in decisions related to me, especially on if I should contest the elections or not. If you are saying that I need to contest, you should have let me fight from the seat I wanted. When it was mandatory that I contest, my seat should have been decided when candidates for the first 50 seats were announced. I chose a constituency from the remaining 20 seats. When I chose that seat (Ramnagar), it was changed just two days later and I was asked to go to Lalkuan. When I reached Lalkuan, the candidate there did not like it. All this damaged the party’s prospects. However, I do not blame any one person for this.Even after this, we were in a close fight. To tackle that, the Muslim University controversy was created. The entire propaganda machinery of the BJP was activated. The PM, dozens of central ministers, and several BJP CMs, all started attacking me. They started saying things like they are giving free ration, and the Congress is giving Muslim University. I even challenged BJP to show me the news article in which I announced building a Muslim University. BJP forged a paper in their social media room and spread that. The party (Congress) though we do not need to address the Muslim University allegation. This made people suspect that maybe the BJP is telling the truth.Do you think not declaring you the CM candidate was a mistake?I will not say that, but I believed that to strategically answer the BJP we needed to say that we are fighting under this person. They (BJP) always make the elections about (Narendra) Modi. Like if the Muslim University lie wasn’t propagated by Modi, it would not have worked. The lie was coined up by him, and the rest were just spreaders. People were watching Modi and felt that he is saying so maybe Harish Rawat is doing something wrong.A person (Congress leader Aqeel Ahmad) gave the memorandum (demanding a Muslim University) and someone took it. It was later leaked to the media. Harish Rawat was nowhere involved. This person (Ahmad) was here promoted to party state vice-president and also sent to campaign for my daughter (Anupama Rawat) in Haridwar Rural. All this was under a planned conspiracy to establish that the said person is close to me …The BJP planned this conspiracy against you, or did your own party do this?I do not know that, but I have decided that I will go to court against this. I have given several chances to the BJP to prove their claim. I will now ask for justice and protection.Do you agree that the Congress is going through a bad phase both at the state and nationally? Do you have a revival plan?Recently, we met in Udaipur and analysed everything in detail. On six major planks, we have taken more than 100 decisions that are to be implemented or are being implemented. We will revert to the old stand of the Congress. Our core strength is inclusiveness, nationalism, and Indianism. We are the ones who created India of the 21st century.But, our enemies have started calling us non-Indians and anti-nationals. They mislead people about our inclusiveness and called it Muslim appeasement. We thought that this misinformation will not work. But we forget that sometimes people want some spicy things too. Such spicy things were created in the RSS factory. They created a narrative and that is why a new era started on the pretext of the ‘Gujarat model’ which nobody has seen… We know that if we are on the right path and follow the right morals, that is the only answer. People changed their tastes in search of spice, but now they are getting frustrated with that too.The internal tussle in state Congress continues. Is there a plan to tackle it?My blessings are with the new leadership. As far as the tussle is considered, these kinds of things are there within any party. When four people will dig a field, the shovels will always collide.Did you ever consider leaving politics?There is a time for everything and the situation right now is not like that. If the circumstances for Congress were normal, and the party was in strength, then it would be right. Today if I leave politics, you will give just a half-page article in the newspaper. I also cannot leave Congress as it will be a crime I cannot dare commit. However, if Sonia (Gandhi) ji said ‘Harish now you are very tired’, I would leave politics immediately.
Appeasement politics practised by governments led by opposition parties has led to communalism and radicalisation in the country, said Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah on Sunday. India will move forward to become “Vishwa Guru” when the politics of appeasement, dynasty and casteism ends in the country, he said.On the concluding day of the BJP national executive meeting, Shah, who moved the political resolution setting the target for the upcoming elections, said the coming “30-40 years will be the era of the BJP”, which is focused on “politics of development and performance”.Shah began his address highlighting the recent Supreme Court verdict on Gujarat that agreed with the findings of the Special Investigation Team appointed by it that there was no “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 Gujarat riots, endorsing the clean chit to Narendra Modi, who was then the state’s chief minister, and others in cases related to the riots.“Amit Shahji has drawn the attention of the leaders to the historic judgment by the Supreme Court on Gujarat. He said whatever allegations were on the PM have been proved wrong. The judgment has exposed the conspiracies of ideological-oriented mediapersons and NGOs. Throughout the years he (Modi) has maintained silence, like Lord Neelkantha (Lord Shiva)…, he too swallowed poison and kept it in his throat,” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, briefing the media about the political resolution. “The Home Minister said he (Modi) did not make a political drama like a certain leader did when he was called for questioning by an investigation agency.”Both Sarma and Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai seconded the resolution. While Sharma referred to the BJP’s achievements and focus on the Northeast, Bommai elaborated on the political developments in the southern states.“He spoke about the rising fundamentalists and their organisation. Congress does caste politics and for them there is jaati within jaati. But the BJP will soon have a breakthrough in the south. Next growth area of the BJP will come from the south,” Sarma said, adding that the BJP will come to power in the southern states, including in Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, as well as in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha.Quoting Shah, Sarma said the Union Home Minister referred to the Northeast region and how Modi has initiated developments there. Asked about the delay in signing of the Naga peace accord, Sarma said: “By 2024, there will be no fault line. All issues will be resolved.”In his address, Shah said the Congress has “Modi phobia” and is opposed to everything – surgical strike, triple talaq, Yoga Day, Ram Mandir and even the Covid vaccination. “They opposed every policy that were initiated by this government for the poor,” Sarma said.“The Congress is a party of a family. There were demands for internal elections but they are not doing it,” Sarma said, adding that the BJP “considers politics as a way to serve people”.Asked if the political resolution discussions referred to suspended party spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments on the Prophet and the violent protests against it or the Udaipur and Amaravati killings, Sarma said Shah reiterated that violence in politics should not be there and that he “spoke about fundamentalism and appeasement”.Shah lauded Prime Minister Modi for choosing a Dalit as the President in 2017 and a tribal woman candidate for the July 18 presidential election. Shah also referred to the Agnipath recruitment scheme, appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, banning the import of 340 defence items and abrogation of 370 among others as the Modi government’s achievements.
Last week’s rebel Shiv Sena MLA who turned Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena Chief Minister this week; a former Maharashtra CM facing prospect of losing control of a party founded by his father; an activist and a former police officer arrested after Supreme Court’s clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots case; two Lok Sabha bypoll candidates — a winner from Punjab’s Sangrur while another who lost from UP’s Azamgarh yet made the biggest impact.New Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath ShindeA day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray resigned as CM ahead of a floor test, bringing to an end the 31-month rule of his Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition, Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra with BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy on Thursday. From working in a beer brewery in Thane and driving an autorickshaw to make ends meet, to becoming the most powerful leader in the Shiv Sena after the Thackerays, to splitting the party and becoming the 20th Chief Minister of the state, Eknath Shinde, 58, has had an eventful career. In this crisis, two other qualities helped Shinde prevail: the fact that he has the loyalty of many party MLAs for being an accessible leader – especially when appointment at Matoshree got tough – and being generous with economic largesse.Former Maharashtra Chief MinisterIn the last few days, Uddhav Thackeray faced the worst crisis in his short political life, emerging from the overarching shadow of father Bal Thackeray. Not only did he lose chief ministership after taking a gamble with an unlikely coalition, he is facing the prospect of losing control of a party founded by Balasaheb and deriving sustenance from the Thackeray name. In hindsight, it seems Uddhav sowed the seeds right at the beginning when, on November 28, 2019, he took over as Chief Minister. He thus became the first Thackeray to hold a public office, with Balasaheb choosing to let a Sainik be CM while he held full control over the party.Activist Teesta Setalvad and retired Gujarat DGP R B SreekumarA day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit by the SIT to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) earlier this week arrested Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad, who backed petitioner Zakia Jafri, and retired Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar, whose role had been called into question by the Court. Teesta Setalvad, a journalist and activist based out of Mumbai and a Padma Shri, is a founding trustee and secretary of the NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) established in 2002 in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots, with one area of work being providing legal assistance to victims of the riots. She was among the first activists to take up the cases of riot victims in Gujarat in 2002, finally leading the Supreme Court to set up a special investigation team to probe the post-Godhra riots, six years later, under former CBI director R K Raghavan. Setalvad has also faced several allegations over the years.A decorated police officer, R B Sreekumar challenged the Narendra Modi government’s claims of peace in Gujarat in the aftermath of the 2002 riots, spoke of the alleged collusion between government agencies and rioters, and was shunted out and denied promotion while in service. The Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch arrested the 75-year-old former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) from his home in Gandhinagar on charges such as forgery and criminal conspiracy. This came a day after the Supreme Court called into question his role in the petition against Modi in the riots. The court made the observation while upholding the clean chit Prime Minister Modi, then the chief minister of Gujarat, had received from a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in connection with the riots.Guddu Jamali, the BSP candidate in Lok Sabha bypollsThe Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Shah Alam — a two-time MLA — lost the Azamgarh Lok Sabha by-election but made the biggest impact. Alam, popularly known as Guddu Jamali, garnered 2.66 lakh votes, with a vote share of 29.27 per cent, effectively damaging the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) chances of retaining the seat that its president Akhilesh Yadav had won in 2019 with a 60.36 per cent vote share. The SP had contested the election in alliance with the BSP. With Jamali, 49, putting in a strong performance, the SP saw its vote share slide to 33.44 per cent even as the BJP almost held on to its vote share, which dipped marginally to 34.39 per cent. The SP ultimately lost to the BJP by 8,679 votes. Sangrur Lok Sabha bypolls victor Simranjit MannDealing a severe blow to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Simranjit Singh Mann, emerged as the victor Sunday in the crucial bypoll in the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, the bastion of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, defeating AAP candidate Gurmail Singh in a neck-and-neck fight. The bypoll was necessitated when the incumbent Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann resigned from the seat after becoming the CM in March following the AAP’s landslide victory in the state Assembly elections. It was considered to be the first test of the fledgling Mann-led AAP government’s popularity. Pushed to the margins of Punjab’s mainstream politics for over two-and-half decades, the 77-year-old pro-Khalistan leader and ex-IPS officer Simranjit Singh Mann’s stunning win is likely to boost the Panthic politics in the border state.
AHMEDABAD: The special investigation team (SIT) formed to probe charges of fabrication of evidence against activist Teesta Setalvad, former DGP R B Sreekumar, and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt began an inquiry into the case on Monday and interrogated Setalvad and Sreekumar. The newly formed SIT will analyse the documents of the SIT appointed in 2008 by the Supreme Court and headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan. The old SIT had probed whether the state's functionaries were involved in the 2002 riots. "We will examine all the documents, especially the affidavits, filed with the 2008 SIT and with the Justice Nanavati panel that had inquired into the 2002 riots," said an officer of the SIT. The apex court had on June 24 dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the February 28, 2002 massacre at Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society. The petition filed by Jafri and Setalvad had demanded a probe into the "larger conspiracy". The petition had challenged the clean chit given to then chief minister Narendra Modi and 62 others in the post-Godhra riots. A team headed by Gujarat ATS chief Deepan Bhadran, along with ATS SP Sunil Joshi and DCP (crime) Chaitanya Mandalik, on Monday jointly interrogated Setalvad and Sreekumar, who are in the custody of the Ahmedabad crime branch. The two were arrested after the Ahmedabad crime branch filed a complaint against Setalvad, Sreekumar, and Bhatt over the alleged fabrication of documents with the intention to prosecute certain innocent people for the riots. The SIT officer said the investigators will try to ascertain why and how the accused had prepared the fabricated documents and whether they were aided and instructed by some other people. To a query about how the accused had hatched the conspiracy and when they had met for the first time, the officer said: "The investigation is at a very early stage and it will take a few days to gather more evidence to establish how they had conspired against innocent persons." Police officials said that Bhadran and all the officers of the SIT will camp at the Ahmedabad crime branch office in Raikhad to interrogate the accused. On Bhatt's arrest, another special investigation team officer said they were yet to move a transfer warrant in the case. Denied venue twice, activists hold meet at lawyer’s officeMembers of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Ahmedabad civil society had to change their venue twice to hold a meeting on Monday evening to express solidarity with recently arrested social activist Teesta Setalvad, former DGP R B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt.
THE GUJARAT government on Sunday formed a six-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad DIG Deepan Bhadran to investigate retired DGP R B Sreekumar, Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for criminal conspiracy and forgery, and other charges, “as per directions of the Supreme Court”, a top official told The Indian Express.The move follows an FIR lodged against the three at the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) on Saturday, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit given to the then chief minister Narendra Modi, his council of ministers and bureaucrats on their role in the 2002 riots.Setalvad, who was brought from Mumbai to Ahmedabad by an ATS team, and Sreekumar, who was arrested from his home on Saturday, were produced before Metropolitan Magistrate S P Patel on Sunday with the police seeking remand.According to sources, even as the hearing was on, Setalvad was taken to hospital for a “medical check-up” after she complained of injuries caused by an alleged assault by the police while detaining her. The police have denied the allegation.Sources said Bhatt was taken under custody on Sunday by a DCB team from Palanpur jail in Banaskantha where he has been lodged in a 1996 narcotics case. DCP (Crime) Chaitanya Mandalik told The Indian Express that the process of bringing Bhatt to the DCB office in Ahmedabad on a transfer warrant and arresting him “will take two to three days”.Mandalik is part of the new SIT under DIG Bhadran. The other members are: ATS SP Sunil Joshi, Deputy SP (Special Operations Group) B C Solanki, who will be the Investigating Officer, police inspectors P G Vaghela and A D Parmar, and a woman inspector H V Raval. The terms of reference include collection of evidence to investigate the case “as per the directions of the Supreme Court”.On Friday, while dismissing a petition filed by Zakia Jafri against the clean chit given to Modi, the Supreme Court had ruled that “no material was discovered pointing towards any meeting of minds/ conspiracy in the higher echelons of the administration or the political establishment conspired with other persons to cause such riots or turned a Nelson’s eye when the riots had triggered and continued”.It pointed to a “coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the state of Gujarat along with others… to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge. The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT (in the Gujarat riots case) after a thorough investigation”.It noted that “intriguingly, the present proceedings have been pursued for the last 16 years…to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design…all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law”.Asked about the charges against the three, DCP Mandalik said: “The charges are forging government records, submitting forged documents and abuse of power. The arrested accused have been uncooperative so far and we are investigating the case from all angles. Prima facie, the charges against two ex-IPS officers are their affidavits and documents submitted in the case. We are also in the process of retrieving the documents they have submitted in front of commissions, courts and the SIT for further probe. The investigation is at an early stage but we believe that there could be other persons also behind the conspiracy.”Asked why the time frame of the offence in the FIR was recorded as “January 1 2002 to June 15, 2022”, Mandalik said: “The entire case began after the Godhra riots in February 2002 , therefore we have kept a time period bracket of 2002 to 2022 to investigate all angles in it.”Setalvad was brought to the DCB office in Ahmedabad’s Jamalpur early on Sunday after which she was taken to civil hospital for a RT PCR test. Later, while being presented in court, Setalvad told reporters that she is “not a criminal”.Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt have been booked under IPC sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 468 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence, 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure) and 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture).Based on the Supreme Court verdict, the FIR states that the accused would be investigated for “finding out the behind the scene criminal conspiracy and financial and other benefits, inducements for commission of various serious offences in collusion with other individuals, entities and organisations”.(With Sohini Ghosh)
Rajasthan has been on edge since the gruesome killing of an Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal by two men, Mohammad Riyaz and Ghouse Mohammad, on June 28 for allegedly sharing remarks made by the BJP’s Nupur Sharma against the Prophet, with protests erupting in different parts of the state, forcing the Congress government led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to rush to deal with the situation.The Gehlot government immediately went into overdrive in a bid to contain the incident’s fallout, putting Rajasthan on high alert, imposing prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 across the state for a month, and suspending mobile internet across the state including Jaipur. On Thursday, Gehlot made an appeal to the people of the state, through front-page advertisements in dailies as well as digitally, calling upon them to maintain peace and harmony.With a string of incidents of communal violence occurring in various districts over the last several months, leading to a sharp spurt in polarisation, Gehlot seems to be struggling to come to grips with its political ramifications, even as the next Assembly election is one-year-five months away.On April 2, communal clashes erupted in Karauli following alleged stone-pelting at a motorcycle rally passing through a Muslim-dominated area on Hindu New Year day.On May 2, a day ahead of Eid, curfew was imposed and Internet services barred in Jodhpur, Gehlot’s home turf, after communal clashes broke out following the hoisting of religious flags on the bust of a freedom fighter.Three days later, communal tension gripped Bhilwara, which led to the suspension of the internet services. On May 10 again, Bhilwara again saw a communal flare-up that was followed by another such incident in Hanumangarh the day after.To tackle the spate of communal incidents, the Rajasthan Police undertook a 15-day drive in May, cracking down on over 4,600 people in this regard.Subsequently, Rajasthan did not report any violence on June 10 on the occasion of Ram Navami, when communal incidents were reported from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Karnataka, among other states. This was ensured by the Gehlot administration by imposing prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144 in over half of the state’s 33 districts, and coming up with an exhaustive order before granting permission to any procession for the day.Later, the Rajasthan Police took various other measures. For instance, it asked every police station in Jaipur North to create 24 cricket teams involving local residents for a tournament called “Hero Cup” from June 21 to July 3 with the objective to build and promote communal harmony in the belt.And then the Kanhaiya Lal killing occurred that led to a fresh war of words between the Congress and the principal Opposition BJP, with the latter accusing the ruling party of indulging in “appeasement politics”. What is more concerning for the Congress is the point that any rise in polarisation would only be an advantage for the saffron party since it would mean the consolidation of the Hindu votes in the latter’s favour.Over the decades, the BJP and the Congress have tried to woo the dominant castes in Rajasthan, which include Jats, Rajputs, Gujjars, Meenas and Brahmins, and their support to either party has been dependent on various factors, such as the prevailing political climate, reservation demands, community leaders, party leaders from the community, and even portrayal of the erstwhile rulers from the community in the movies, etc.And traditional caste rivalry between Rajputs and Jats as well as between Meenas and Gujjars is well known in the state. So between Rajputs and Jats, if a caste supports a particular political party, then the other caste supports its rival party.In fact, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) was founded following the Rajputs’ struggle with the Jats in 2006. That year, Anandpal Singh, a Ravana Rajput and then Rajasthan’s most notorious gangster, killed Jivan Ram Godara and Harphool Ram Jat in Didwana, allegedly over control of the illicit liquor business. As Jats protested, they got support from a wide spectrum of political leaders, and the police allegedly detained any Rajput man who could be linked to Anandpal. To resist their alleged “hounding”, the SRKS was founded on September 23, 2006, with 11 declared aims, including opposing political or social malice against Rajputs as well as the “misrepresentation” of their history or historical figures, and promoting Rajput unity.Political analyst Ashfaque Kayamkhani says that with increased polarisation, the distances between Hindu castes may fade and be replaced with the politics of majority versus minority with the latter as the “common enemy”.He says that the polarisation “will indeed lead to a loss for the Congress” and that “the manner in which it is painted as the party of one community, it will lead to anger in both communities towards Congress” as the party tries to do a tightrope walk and falter. And as elections draw closer, the environment will be further vitiated and polarised, which will help parties which play the communal card, he says.Sociologist Rajeev Gupta says that it is still too early to say how the polarisation will play out in the Rajasthan Assembly elections in late 2023, but “definitely the BJP will take advantage of the situation”.He says that the Congress’ internal fighting doesn’t help things either with even its leaders like Acharya Pramod Krishnam jumping into the Gehlot vs Sachin Pilot debate. “This is what democracy within the Congress is, but the party in power at the Centre says that the Congress is having internal fighting so even if they win, they will not be able to deliver,” Gupta said.Just a day ago, Union minister Anurag Thakur slammed the Gehlot government over the Udaipur case, charging that the state government remained a “mute spectator” as the Congress’ internal rivalries affected law and order in the state. In contrast, Gupta adds, there may be factionalism within the state BJP “but every faction talks about Hinduism”.
After months of voicing his concerns to the Congress, Hardik Patel has finally left the Grand Old Party and turned towards the BJP. In Gujarat, where political actors routinely and without any discomfort shift allegiances between the BJP and Congress, this is no great news. It is another symptom of the steady erosion of ideological cleavages as well as the hegemony of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics.Hardik Patel began his journey as a quota activist for Patels in 2015 as a young, vocal anti-BJP figure. In the Gujarat Congress, as the party’s working president, he moderated his discourse on the quota question, especially after the introduction of the 10 per cent quota for Patels under the economically weaker sections reservation in 2019, and tried to project himself as a youth icon and a kisan leader. This was an interesting proposition in a land of urban politics where the position of a kisan leader has been vacant for decades.Over the last few months, Hardik has redefined himself again — as a Hindu nationalist. He has quite enthusiastically supported the building of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, thrown his weight behind the implementation of the CAA-NRC — the amended citizenship laws that take India on the path of a de jure Hindu Rashtra — and spoken on the mistreatment of Hindus and Patel leaders at the hands of the Congress. For a man who had started his public career by praising Bal Thackeray, this new discourse marks a return to the roots.Moreover, Hardik Patel has shunned the progressive outlook regarding caste in his politics as well as his distrust of crony capitalism. He blamed the Congress for casteism in his resignation letter from the party. In his recent interviews, he has attacked the 1980s strategy of Congress — the amalgamation of Kshatriya, Harijan (Dalit), Adivasi, and Muslim (KHAM) votes under the leadership of Gujarat’s first OBC chief minister, Madhavsinh Solanki. And he praised the two major industrialists of Gujarat, Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani.Patel’s trajectory epitomises the blurring of ideological frontiers in Indian politics today and, more than that, the growing opportunism of politicians whom voters cannot now trust easily when they commit themselves to principles and great causes.While Hardik Patel’s shift to the BJP may weaken the Congress in rural Gujarat, the party’s attractiveness to Patel voters in that part of the state in 2017 did not result only — nor even mainly — from his influence. Generally seen as the party of Dalits, OBCs, tribals and Muslims since the 1980s, the Congress — which was largely built by Vallabhbhai Patel in the region — again reached out to Patels after more than 50 years. In the Saurashtra peninsula, the Congress won 2/3rds of the 48 assembly seats in 2017, almost double its tally in 2012. The party even became a spokesperson for rural Patidars in the state as 14 of its 15 Patel MLAs belonged to rural constituencies.Hardik Patel’s shift to the BJP will help the party recover in the rural part of the state – but will it be enough? Rural Patels are still at the receiving end of the economic crisis that is affecting agriculture. As we have highlighted in our writings before, including in Sharik Laliwala’s paper on BJP ministers’ social profiles in the Studies in Indian Politics, the pro-reservation call by Patels, who had opposed the granting of quota to OBCs in the 1980s, reflects the “jobless growth” trajectory of a highly urban-industrial Gujarat, along with increasing rural poverty. Daily wage rates in rural Gujarat are frozen. In terms of rural poverty, Gujarat ranked ninth out of 17 large states in India in 2011-12, a drop of four ranks from its position in 1993-94. Patels are badly divided along class lines, something that Christophe Jaffrelot and Kalaiyarasan A’s research showcases: The richest 20 per cent among Patels cornered 61.4 per cent of the community’s income in 2011-12, whereas the poorest 20 per cent got only 2.8 per cent, which means that they are increasingly lagging behind the OBCs and even Dalits.In fact, the mean income of the first quintile of Patels (Rs 6,978) was almost half the mean income of the second quintile of the SCs (Rs 11,411) in 2011-12. And the situation is worse in some parts of the state like Saurashtra, where the water from the Narmada river is yet to reach for irrigation purposes. These trends expose the futility of treating urban and rural Patels in the same way.The BJP has remained steadfastly behind urban-industrial interests, particularly amongst Patels. For instance, the present CM, Bhupendra Patel, otherwise a novice in Gujarati politics, belongs to an urban constituency, just like the party’s old Patel guard — Anandiben Patel, Nitin Patel, Kaushik Patel, Saurabh Patel, et al.The Congress may not have any Patel face left but it may continue to capitalise on the resentment of the Gujarat peasantry and rekindle its strategy by uniting those who are losing out among the villagers in the state. In parallel, the AAP offensive in Gujarat may cut into the urban vote bank of the BJP — and this is probably one of the reasons why the ruling party needed to capture a Patel rural leader even more urgently this year.The BJP now gets one. But for Hardik Patel, joining the BJP makes him lose his unique position, especially since today’s BJP does not like leaders with their own mass base. This feature can be seen in the selection of Bhupendra Patel as the CM, who was clueless about his appointment till the very last. In fact, in his cabinet, everyone is a first-time minister.(Laliwala is an independent scholar on politics and history of Gujarat; Jaffrelot is senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, and professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King’s India Institute, London)
The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in Delhi is pettiness, vengeance and repression let loose on a society once aspiring to be free. It is also a distillation of the way in which the Narendra Modi government draws energy from a thorough contempt for liberty, decency, constitutional values, and the opinion of the international community. The arrest comes just as the PM was singing paeans to Indian democracy in Munich, milking the Emergency way past its political expiry date and signing protocols on free speech. It is a reminder to the world that with this regime, you have to vigilantly watch what it does and not be duped by what it says.Let us look at the larger political and institutional context of this story. The outfit that Mohammed Zubair helped run, Alt News, did sterling service for India’s democracy, holding onto the now elusive idea that facts might matter. His courage has been an inspiration. He brought to our attention the fact that Nupur Sharma, a high office-bearer of the ruling BJP, had engaged in a speech about Prophet Mohammed that could only be considered vile. There were communal riots in the wake of that speech and international condemnation of India. This column had argued that what made Nupur Sharma’s speech dangerous was that it expressed the sentiments of the ruling party (‘Beware of half victories’, IE, June 8). She should have been politically punished. But liberals should have resisted calling for her arrest and using FIRs because, in the long run, such moves only serve to weaken the free speech regime, and it makes the protection of free speech open to competitive communal mobilisation.Zubair’s arrest sends several messages. First, it is pure revenge, through and through. It was a matter of time before the Modi government unleashed a politics of revenge in the wake of its international humiliation. Second, the purpose is to keep the free speech debate hostage to communal politics. That he has been allegedly arrested for a 2018 tweet, which used a trope about a hotel from an old Hindi film, might make this case seem farcical. Surely, you might say, this case cannot be serious? But the purpose is to create a narrative of victimhood that our free speech regime allows Hindu gods to be mocked but not the Prophet. The farcical nature of the charge is designed to play on that card.It might be pointed out that many purveyors of hate speech in the ruling party, even those who have directly incited violence, roam free. The government is selective in who it targets using Section 153 of the IPC. But this selectivity has its political functions. It underscores the point that the majority can act with impunity. Ministers can incite violence without consequence, but how dare a Zubair raise his voice? These arrests give wind to the fantasy of majoritarian impunity and privilege. Finally, it is common knowledge that Zubair’s crime was not mocking Hindu gods. It was to stand steadfast on one thing that makes this government tremble with fear and rage — facts. Perhaps Zubair will be lucky and a judge with an iota of professional competence will see through the farce of his arrest. But the signal is clear.This arrest has to be seen as part of the larger pattern of arbitrariness and repression: ED and CBI raids, whenever political convenient, the use of UAPA charges against innocent students, the communally targeted bulldozing of properties, the control over the media, the use of vigilante violence, and the complete decimation of all independent institutions. PM Modi rightly and vehemently objects to the Emergency. But it almost seems as if his charge is that, as bad as the Emergency was, it was not done right: It did not have the kind of insidiousness, communal charge, slow torture that this regime aspires to.But this repression of liberty is aided by wider complicity. This column had once used the phrase judicial barbarism (‘Lordships and masters,’ IE November 18, 2020) to describe the conduct of India’s highest court. Now, in retrospect, the term judicial was superfluous in that description. It still suggested some deference to judicial form, some procedure, some fig leaf of a rule by law, if not rule of law. But the conduct of the Supreme Court over the last few days has only underscored the fact that in many cases, calling its proceedings judicial is to cut it too much slack. The Court may have had its reasons to decide the Zakia Jafri case the way it did. But to unleash the might of the state on the petitioners who have been fighting an almost lone legal battle to get justice to the victims of the Gujarat riots; to convict them without a trial is a new and chilling precedent. Even if one grants, for argument’s sake, mistakes on the petitioner’s part, what the Court is licensing is nothing but revenge against those seeking justice.Then there is the farce being played out over the Maharashtra Assembly, where the Court has just committed full-blown murder of the Tenth Schedule and the anti-defection law. It has muddied the Speaker’s powers; it has in effect given the BJP what it wanted — more time to horse trade. But what links the cases — Zubair, the Gujarat petitioners, and the Maharashtra Assembly episode – is a complete inversion of justice. Facts are crimes, seeking justice is a sin and democracy is best served by judicial arbitrariness.But these cases are not likely to evoke much public response. Amongst the well-meaning people, there is still a tendency to see these cases as exceptional, the deviations that scar but do not challenge the basic constitutional scheme. We will go through the motions as if our institutions still provide a conduit for constitutional argument and justice. If we are lucky, an occasional brave judge might give a Zubair relief and we can all go through our lives with a clean conscience, even as the system collapses around us.But more ominously, there will be celebrations of this state impunity, there will be cheering for communalism, and triumphal assertions that liberals are worse than tyrants. The Emergency in 1975 was repressive, but it did not dull our intellects, eviscerate our conscience, or extinguish our fighting spirit. The Supreme Court accused activists of keeping the pot boiling. For once, the Court, like the government, knows what it is talking about: boiling. Between them, they have burnt democracy, liberty and secular political values to death. All that remains is the burnt embers, emitting the stench of tyranny. Zubair is the latest victim. There will be countless more.The writer is contributing editor, The Indian Express
For the last four days, a hotel in Guwahati has been at the centre of India’s biggest political story. It is where the majority of MLAs from Maharashtra–rebels against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray–have been sequestered against the turmoil in Mumbai.The leader of the revolt, Maharashtra Urban Development and PWD Minister Eknath Shinde, claimed on Friday (June 24) that 50 MLAs are with him, including 40 from Thackeray’s Shiv Sena. Before flying to Assam with his flock on June 22, Shinde and a large number of these MLAs spent two nights in Surat, Gujarat, which, like Assam, is run by the BJP.While the current situation is extraordinary in several ways—Thackeray, for example, looks in danger of having almost his entire party stolen from under his nose—’resort politics’ is neither new nor unique to any party or state in India. At least since the 1980s, as coalition governments became the norm, examples of resort politics have been seen again and again. It is usually practised when MLAs need to be cornered by a party that is seeking to prove its majority in the legislative assembly, and it is feared that MLAs might be entering into behind-the-scenes negotiations with rival parties or groups.This often happens when there are leadership struggles in a party or state, and when the numbers in the House do not strongly favour any party in particular.But resort politics is not restricted to states alone. At the beginning of this month, as Rajya Sabha elections were held, 70 Congress MLAs in Rajasthan were lodged at a resort in Udaipur, presumably to keep them safe from poaching attempts. Ultimately, the Congress emerged victorious in three out of four seats in Rajasthan, and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot hailed it as a “victory of democracy”.Here is a short history of resort politics in India through the years, which has yielded mixed results for the parties concerned.Among the results of the five states’ elections, Goa and Uttarakhand saw a tighter contest. The Congress moved its leaders to a resort in north Goa ahead of the results, saying the leaders were attending “a series of birthday celebrations”. However, the BJP ended up winning 20 of 40 seats in the state and comfortably formed its government again. Back in 2017, the BJP had emerged victorious after a similar neck-and-neck fight, as multiple MLAs from the Congress–the single-largest party then–crossed over to the BJP.On the heels of a similar rebellion by then Congress MLA Jyotiraditya Scindia that led to the fall of the Kamal Nath-led Madhya Pradesh government four months prior, deputy CM Sachin Pilot showed signs of discontent. The Congress then gathered its MLAs at the Fairmont Hotel in the state to prevent them from defecting. The MLAs favouring Pilot were themselves in Delhi—and they subsequently moved to a resort in a BJP-ruled state.At the end of the episode, there was no change in power, and Gehlot remained the Chief Minister while Pilot was demoted from the post of Deputy Chief Minister.Congress MLAs reached the Prestige Golf Club in BJP-ruled Bengaluru, and this was triggered by Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia quitting the party. The Congress’s attempts to hold the Kamal Nath government together ended in failure, and Shivraj Singh Chauhan became Chief Minister for the fourth time with the support of those MLAs. Scindia joined the BJP, was later elected to the Rajya Sabha as an MP, and is now the Union Minister for Civil Aviation—a position that had once belonged to his late father.Interestingly, the ongoing Shiv Sena crisis has similarities with the events that led to the formation of its government in the first place. Long-time BJP ally Shiv Sena broke away and joined hands with the Congress-NCP alliance to form the government. On the eve of the Supreme Court’s decision on the parties’ petition seeking a floor test in the Assembly, a large group of Shiv-Sena-NCP-Congress MLAs assembled at a Mumbai hotel in a show of strength, indicating they had the numbers to form the government.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxNitish Kumar was invited by the Speaker to form the government, despite him not having the numbers. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD emerged as the largest party, but Kumar was called on by the Governor to form the government. The Congress and RJD, opposition parties who perhaps sensed what was to come, sent some of their members to a hotel in Patna. Kumar resigned before the trust vote took place, and ultimately RJD’s Rabri Devi became the first woman CM of Bihar.In 1984, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, the state finance minister, toppled Chief Minister NTR’s government with Congress support. The film superstar-turned-politician Chief Minister was out of the country, and the governor installed Bhaskara Rao as the CM. From the United States, where he had gone for heart surgery, NTR secured around 160 MLAs by keeping them at his studios with ample facilities. NTR’s films were screened for the MLAs’ entertainment. In the end, the Bhaskara Rao government fell, and NTR was back in power.In 1995, NTR’s son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu wanted to oust NTR from the party and sent NTR loyalists to the Viceroy Hotel in Hyderabad to take over the TDP. One of those MLAs later recalled playing cards, dancing to Telugu songs, ordering food and keeping the hotel staff awake all night. Naidu eventually became the CM.Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde, who was earlier a part of the Congress party, sought to protect his government from being dissolved by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. His wins in the 1983 and 1985 Assembly elections in the state had alarmed his rivals in the Janata Party in the state. Close to the Assembly trust vote, 80 MLAs were sent to a luxury resort near Bengaluru to reduce the chances of their defection.
Written by Aanchal Poddar and Ashwita PanickerThe latest round of the uniquely Indian exercise of ‘resort politics’ is playing out in Assam where a five-star hotel in Guwahati has become the centre of the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra.The MLAs led by Eknath Shinde were, at first, in a hotel in Surat in BJP-ruled Gujarat after reaching there on Monday. Afterwards, they flew to Guwahati in Assam, another BJP-ruled state, on Wednesday. Here, they have been camping at a five-star hotel which the rebel MLAs have booked for seven days, showing that it was ready for a long haul to get what they wanted.We take a look at the cost of rooms at these properties in Gujarat and Assam to get an idea of how expensive this ‘operation’ has been for Eknath Shinde and the MLAs:In GujaratThe Shiv Sena MLAs, led by Eknath Shinde, were holed up at the Le Meridien Hotel in Surat after they flew in from Maharashtra.A five-star property, these are the room rents at the hotel:Executive/Premium/Suite: Starts Rs 2,300 per nightIn AssamFrom Surat, these MLAs took a chartered plane to Guwahati where they had booked rooms at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Gotanagar.A four-star property, these are the room rents at the hotel:Superior/Deluxe: Rs 6,500-Rs 8000 per nightBusiness Class: Rs 12,500 per nightJunior Suite/Suite: Rs 16,666/Rs 26,666 per nightSimilar scenes were witnessed ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in Maharashtra as political parties corralled its MLAs into five-star hotels to ward off poaching.While the BJP arranged for their MLAs to be put up at the Taj President in South Mumbai, Shiv Sena chose the Hotel Retreat on Madh Island, NCP chose Hotel Blue Sea in Sakinaka and Congress MLAs were put up in the heritage Hotel West End at Marine Lines.BJP in MumbaiThe BJP, which currently has 106 MLAs, has put up its legislators at the Taj President Hotel in south Mumbai.A five-star property, these are the room rents at the hotel:Deluxe/Premium Room: Starts at Rs 10,000-12,500 per nightExecutive Suite starts at Rs 14,875 per nightSeleQtions Suite starts at Rs 18,275 per nightNCP in MumbaiThe Nationalist Congress Party, which has 53 MLAs in Maharashtra, has choses Hotel Blue Sea to host its legislators.A two-star property, these are the room rents at the hotel:Classic Room: Between Rs 1,642 and 2,541 per nightSaver Double (X): Between Rs 1,820 and 2,721 per nightCongress in MumbaiThe Congress, which has 44 MLAs, has hosted its legislators at Hotel West End at Marine Lines.A four-star property, these are the room rents at the hotel:EP, CP Economy Executive: Rs 6500-7,500 per nightEP, CP Eco Double: Rs 5,500- 6,500 per nightShiv Sena in MumbaiThe Shiv Sena had booked the Hotel Retreat in Madh Island for its 55 MLAs.A five-star property, these are the room rents at the hotel:Palm View Deluxe Rooms- Rs 5,450 per nightPool View Deluxe Rooms- Rs 5,876 per nightOther States Rajasthan and Goa were also not devoid of resort politics ahead of the elections.On June 2, Congress MLAs were taken to Taj Aravali resort and spa in Udaipur and returned on June 9, a day before the polling for the four Rajya Sabha seats. A five-star property, room rents here range between Rs 14,000 per night and Rs 1,37,000 per night.During the same time, BJP MLAs were put up at the Devi Ratn hotel in Jaipur where room tariffs range between Rs 12,400 per night and Rs 48,305 per night.In Goa, which also went to the polls, Congress MLAs were put up at the Bambolim Beach Resorts. A three-star property, room rates here range between Rs 4,241 per night and Rs 6,000 per night.Poddar and Panicker are interns with indianexpress.com
Chopping off sections from a textbook is much easier than writing one. Yet, the deletions made to social science textbooks by the NCERT — revealed by an Indian Express investigation — need to be taken seriously as an act of rewriting. This revision touches on vital points about the state-citizen relationship, the government’s vision of democracy, and how it imagines an ideal Indian society.After eight years in power, the BJP has not been able to evolve a concrete statement that would form the basis for new school textbooks as per its ideological inclinations. But it entertains disdain for academic efforts and manifests cynical courage in “editing” school textbooks. As reported by this newspaper, social science textbooks have undergone three rounds of editing since 2017. Whatever the official reasons proffered for this, the fact remains that these deletions speak of a certain kind of approach to textbooks, pedagogy, and politics.Of course, some deletions are purely ad hoc on the face of it and pertain to political facts unpalatable to the present regime. The violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 falls into this category. But then, curiously, the discussion on Emergency has also been taken out of the books. In purely tactical terms, this could be a calculated deletion to keep the Congress quiet by an unstated quid pro quo: We delete what we don’t want but we also delete what you may not want. It will be interesting to see how the Congress responds to this and whether, after more than four decades, it has the courage to make course corrections on this issue and admit its mistake. In any case, the deletions are not merely about what the government and ruling party don’t like to be mentioned. They are more about formulating social science textbooks and, in fact, the idea of social sciences itself.In this sense, the deletions also indicate the deep suspicion of social sciences among the powerholders and their attempt to re-formulate these disciplines, not just to change their textbooks. How to imagine the social sciences and introduce contemporary social and political processes to students of social sciences is a challenging question. Social scientists are facilitators of critical thinking among students and readers. Rulers uncomfortable with critical thinking seek to restructure the social sciences. The current bout of deletions needs to be understood from this perspective. The idea seems to be that by not mentioning some inconvenient facts, the regime can not only run away from reality but more importantly, also ensure that students do not develop the critical faculty to look at society and politics. This could be the larger purpose behind deleting the sections on the Gujarat violence and Emergency. The same logic applies to two other major deletions: The mention of caste injustice as part of India’s social reality and the discussion of protest movements as a vital part of India’s democracy.Together, these deletions suggest that by undoing what is already there in the textbooks, the government is trying to rewrite the ideas of society and politics and re-envisage the purpose of social sciences. Often neglected in schools, social science subjects often become an arena of deep ideological battles for two reasons. One, their subject matter. The other, as mentioned above, pertains to their potential to develop a questioning attitude. Both these have a robust subversive possibility that only a healthy democracy can tolerate. Governments that harbour non-democratic tendencies are ill at ease with social science textbooks. To overcome this complication and to reconcile with the formal need to include social sciences in school curricula, three strategies are adopted.The first strategy is heavy governmental control over curricula and textbooks and emphasis on avoidance. The bouts of deletions represent this strategy. In India, all governments have resorted to it. By deleting sentences and chapters, the government seeks to avoid students from being introduced to certain processes. If in political science this pertains to Gujarat violence, in history textbooks, it pertains to Mughal rulers. The avoidance is on display in deleting the discussion on Gujarat violence. Both the Emergency and Gujarat violence mark the failure of multiple institutions. Are these not important moments that students studying Indian politics should be introduced to? The answer for the present regime seems to be in the negative.Parenthetically, the deletion of the sections on Gujarat violence marks an admission that there is something about that episode in 2002 that needs to be hidden from the public domain.The other strategy is to present an idealised picture of society and politics by sanitising textbooks. This is being done on the caste question.Instead of allowing students to comprehend caste as a system of injustice, the deletions seek to present an ideal and imagined Indian/Hindu society in which caste is only a marginal or slight distortion. To achieve this, textbooks are made to adopt a formalist approach wherein a mechanical mention is made of institutional designs. While this would make the subject matter uninteresting, it would also mean that students will not be introduced to the actual functioning of institutions.The third strategy is probably the most crucial one: It involves a restatement of the moral bases of socio-political processes. The deletion of the chapters on the Emergency and protest movements needs to be seen in this context. The short-term politics of the BJP requires shaming the Congress for imposing the Emergency. But its long-term politics upholds two ideas. One is the idea of a strong state that seeks to tame the citizen’s energy and the other is the idea of formal and minimum democracy as substantive democracy. Emergency represents the rulers’ determination to tame the citizens and that is precisely what the present regime has been doing for the past eight years. Therefore, dropping the chapter on the Emergency is not merely a short-term political move, but a decision informed by the broader perspective that citizens need to be regulated heavily because the nation-state represents all wisdom. The deletion of the section fits well with the goal of reframing the relations between authority and citizens.Similarly, in the case of the chapter on protest movements, the purpose is to reformulate the idea of democracy. The textbook is predicated on the idea that theoretically, protests represent citizen initiative and in practice, they curtail governmental authority. In place of this understanding, the government seeks to propagate the idea of minimalist and formal democracy that’s based largely on the regular conducting of elections. Protests are seen as a challenge to democracy rather than as a phenomenon enriching it.Democracy involves not merely competition, but also struggles and popular protests. In this sense, democracy is a messy affair. But underneath that mess, there is also an innate capacity to challenge all powers. This is exactly what the “rationalised” textbooks seek to avoid desperately.The writer, based in Pune, taught political science and was one of the two chief advisors for NCERT political science textbooks
Amid the crisis gripping the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra after senior Sena leader and minister Eknath Shinde along with his about 20 party MLAs shifted to a hotel in Gujarat’s Surat, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday deputed senior party leader and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) observer in the state. The Congress is part of the MVA alliance along with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.Shinde’s rebellion has dealt a severe blow to the Sena, posing a grave threat to the MVA government’s survival and continuance.“The Congress president has deputed Kamal Nath as AICC observer in Maharashtra in the wake of recent political developments in the state, with immediate effect,” said a statement issued by K C Venugopal, the AICC general secretary in charge of organisation.A veteran parliamentarian and ex-Union minister, the 75-year-old Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president, Kamal Nath, has been a key party trouble-shooter, emerging as the grand old party’s go-to man for handling various crises especially after the demise of its principal troubleshooter Ahmed Patel in November 2020.Apart from Pawar and Patel, Nath had played a crucial role in forging the MVA coalition in November 2019 in collaboration with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who became the Chief Minister.According to Congress insiders, with the NCP and the Congress then going back and forth over joining hands with the Sena, it was Nath who had cemented their bonds by convincing them with his argument that unlike the BJP the Sena did not have umbilical links with the RSS.Many Congress leaders believe that Nath is the only senior leader in the party who could fill the huge void created by Patel’s departure to some degree.In the context of the raging MVA crisis, Nath is being seen as perhaps the only one among the Congress’s old guard leaders, who has the heft and skills to deal with it in coordination with Pawar and Uddhav.After being appointed as the MPCC chief just seven months before the November 2018 Assembly elections, Nath steered the party to victory after an electoral drought of 15 years in the state. He took over as the CM and remained in office till March 2020, when he was forced to resign following the defection of a group of Congress MLAs affiliated to his then party rival Jyotiraditya Scindia to the BJP.An astute politician who has worked with the three generations of Gandhis – Indira, Rajiv, Sonia and Rahul – Nath, who was born in Kanpur to an established business family, is at the other end of the spectrum from the MP CM and senior BJP leader, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, whose roots are in an OBC agrarian family in Vidisha near Bhopal.After being appointed as the MPCC president, Nath had to initially deal with the tag of being an outsider to the state politics. Brought up in Kolkata, Nath had never dabbled in state politics prior to this assignment.Born to a Brahmin family, he has represented the tribal-dominated Chhindwara in the Lok Sabha as well as the state Assembly for over four decades. He is seen as a money-bag politician, who has a close association with several big industrial houses.As the environment minister in the PV Narasimha Rao government, he had earned accolades during the Earth Summit in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro for safeguarding the rights of farmers.Nath’s relationship with Madhya Pradesh could be traced to 1980, when then Congress chief Indira Gandhi had described him as her “third son” in Chhindwara.Besides being among Sanjay Gandhi’s close friends, Nath was also one of Rajiv Gandhi’s trusted lieutenants, tasked with managing allies and the Opposition as he had wide acceptability. He served as a minister with various portfolios in the Cabinets of former PM late Narasimha Rao and ex-PM Manmohan Singh.(With ENS inputs)
Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda will hold a meeting Tuesday with party’s Maharashtra leader Devendra Fadnavis to discuss the developments in the state after senior Shiv Sena leader and minister Eknath Shinde along with as many as 20 MLAs decamped to Surat in Gujarat.The move by Eknath Shinde and other MLAs to move to a BJP-ruled state is being seen as a threat to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra and BJP leaders said that the top leadership is reflecting on its next move.Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who hails from Maharashtra, is also reaching Delhi. Fadnavis left for Delhi earlier in the day.BJP’s Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil told the media, “If Eknath Shinde-led group makes an offer, we will surely consider. We are a political party. And we will strive to return to power for good governance and serving people.” “Although what happened is an internal matter of Sena, the BJP is concerned as it was its oldest alliance partner and had a long association of more than 25 years,” he added.Patil also hinted at Eknath Shinde’s reported unhappiness with the Shiv Sena. Patil said, “Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut’s over-smartness is going to cost the party. The present crisis is a pointer to that as old loyal leaders feel humiliated.” Moreover, everybody in politics knows whose agenda Raut is implementing.”Meanwhile, Ekanath Shinde was sacked as the Shiv Sena chief whip and MLA Ajay Chaudhary was given that post.
After Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde and a few MLAs went incommunicado a day after the BJP won five of the 10 seats in the Legislative Council polls in Maharashtra despite not having enough numbers, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the Sena MLAs have been misled and taken to Gujarat. He added that the attempt to replicate the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan scenario in the state will not succeed.“It is true that some of the MLAs are not in Mumbai and some of them were not reachable since night. But contact has been established with a few MLAs who went out of the city due to a misunderstanding. Eknath Shinde is also out of the city and he has also been contacted,” Raut said.“I or the Shiv Sena do not find any merit in the kind of picture which is being created right now that there will be an earthquake (in Maharashtra politics),” the Sena MP said, adding that the current “suspicious atmosphere will be cleared soon. Now we are going to Varsha (the chief minister’s official residence) for a meeting with CM Uddhav Thackeray.” All MVA leaders are in touch with each other, he revealed.“An attempt is being made to implement a pattern like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in Maharashtra hoping that the Uddhav Thackeray government will collapse. But the attempts which are being made will not be successful. There is a conspiracy and attempt to weaken the Shiv Sena by the BJP, but that will not happen,” he said.On Eknath Shinde, Raut said that till Monday he was with the MLAs in Hotel Westin and taking all efforts for the victory of both the Sena candidates. “He is a loyal shiv sainik and a colleague. Whatever is being said about him… I cannot say anything about it unless we speak to him,” he said.Recalling the government formation by BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis in 2019, Raut said, “In politics, we have to go through such situations. Two and a half years ago, the BJP did a similar experiment but it was not successful and hence they are trying to do the same now. This is also an attack on the back and from the front….”When asked whether there was a similar conspiracy to topple the government through Ekanath Shinde, he said, “There is a conspiracy but it won’t be successful. Shinde is a loyal shiv sainik.”Further, on the names of Sena MLAs who are unreachable, Raut said that the names cited by the media were not completely right. Some of the MLAs or ministers are already at Varsha Bungalow, including Gulabrao Patil, Sanjay Rathod and Pratap Sarnaik, he pointed out. “There is an attempt to destabilise and weaken the state, however it will not happen till Shiv Sena is there,” Raut added.The remaining MLAs, a few of whom are ministers, are saying that they have not understood what has happened, but they have been taken, he said, adding that they are in Surat, Gujarat, and arrangements were being made by BJP Gujarat chief R C Patil.“The MLAs are being taken by misleading them and we know why they are in Gujarat, who RC Patil is, and whose close confidante he is. The moment we contact them, they will come back immediately and hence those who are thinking of an earthquake or something of that sort should know that they will have to fight with the Shiv Sena first and only then can they think of weakening Maharashtra. Until we are there, they cannot destabilise the state,” the Sena spokesperson asserted.He said contact has been established with most of the MLAs. “Some of them wish to return but they are not being allowed. They have been surrounded (with police security and barricading). Such things can happen only in Gujarat because the government there works like this and the central government gets their work done there.”Raut also said that pressure tactics were being used. “Today also, in this situation, our co-leader Anil Parab has been summoned by the ED to ensure that he won’t be with us. These are all the tactics and plans which need to be understood and are being done to destabilise the state.”
◾ Taking yet another step to quell the growing anger among Armed Forces aspirants against the new Agnipath recruitment policy, Home Minister Amit Shah today announced that there will be a ten per cent quota in the Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles across the country for the Agniveers. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with the chiefs of the three services. There was no official statement about the meeting. However, the Defence Ministry too announced 10 per cent reservation in jobs in the ministry and in the Defence Public Sector Undertakings for Agniveers.◾ As the protests intensified, several Opposition parties as well as the BJP’s biggest ally, the JD(U), has been vocal in its reservations about Agnipath. Congress president Sonia Gandhi termed the scheme “completely directionless”, and appealed to people to engage in peaceful protests. However, the ruling BJP has defended the scheme, urging students not to be “deceived”. In an interview with The Indian Express, BJP’s national spokesperson Guru Prakash Paswan denied rollback of the plan, saying it came up after due consultation with all stakeholders.◾ Ahead of the Presidential elections next month, the Opposition parties are trying to zero in on a consensus candidate for the polls, but without success so far. After Sharad Pawar, National Conference president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has declined to be the joint Opposition’s presidential candidate, saying that the Union Territory needs him to “help navigate these uncertain times”. Abdullah said he was “very grateful to Mamata didi (Mamata Banerjee) for proposing my name,” but “I have a lot more active politics ahead of me and look forward to making a positive contribution in the service of J&K and the country.”◾ In the world of crypto, Bitcoin dropped below $20,000 on Saturday to its lowest level in 18 months, extending its slide as investors pull back from riskier assets amid rising interest rates. As the cryptocurrency market is plunging to a new low every day and countries are trying different approaches to regulate digital assets, know how crypto tax works in India and countries across the world, in this week’s ‘Crypto Knight’ column.◾ India’s experimentations with fertility control programmes dates back to the period preceding its Independence. In fact, it was one of the first countries to introduce an official programme of birth control intended to reduce the rate of population growth, but to this day the relative population size and fertility rates remain a contentious issue in electoral politics. In July 2019, a Population Regulation Bill, proposing to introduce a two-child policy per couple, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha. However, the Bill was withdrawn earlier this year following intervention by the Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya. So does India need a population policy? Experts discuss in this week’s #ExpressResearch.◾ Weekend is here and so are the movie reviews! This week we review Shilpa Shetty’s comeback film Nikamma, Chris Evans’ Lightyear, Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, and Sai Pallavi’s Virata Parvam.Political Pulse◾ For the June 23 Rampur Lok Sabha bypoll, the BJP is banking on the Yogi Adityanath government’s policies and development work. But it faces an uphill battle in a constituency that is considered the bastion of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan. Though a former Congress MLA from Rampur is also backing the BJP candidate in the bypoll, which became necessary after Azam vacated the seat following his election to the UP Assembly in March, it may not be enough. Asad Rehman reports.◾ Days after the setback of the Rajya Sabha polls, when the BJP cocked a snook at the Shiv Sena by winning the crucial sixth seat, and with a couple of days left for the June 20 elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls, the lack of coordination within the Maha Vikas Aghadi is all too evident with each party working separately to secure its vote bank. With the Sena and NCP set to get the numbers to see their candidates through, the fight is likely to boil down to the Congress and the BJP. Read Shubhangi Khapre’s report.Express Explained◾ The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, on Friday recommended that Ukraine be formally granted candidate status in the EU, the first step in the long journey to become a member state of the bloc. The announcement by EU President Ursula von der Leyen came a day after representatives of France, Germany, and Italy, the most powerful member states of the organisation, visited Kyiv for the first time, where they backed Ukraine’s bid to join the bloc. What happens with Ukraine’s application hereon? What is the process of joining the EU? Read here.◾ On many occasions during the trial, it seemed that Amber Heard, who lost the defence case against ex-spouse Johnny Depp’s defamation suit, was expected to be the perfect victim. When survivors open up about sexual assault or domestic violence, one of their biggest fears is that they would not live up to the expectations of “perfect victimhood”. It is a major reason why survivors do not come forward and seek legal help, and one of the biggest myths about sexual violence. What does the term mean? How does perfect victimhood affect survivors? Read here.Weekend Reads◾ Hues of Khurja: The heritage and changing trends of pottery in the ceramic city◾ In Chamor, Sheba Jose looks at the world through a child’s eyes◾ Each poem in The Penguin Book of Indian Poets is history recorded in a language of one’s own◾ Know Your City: How Pune’s Kayani Bakery became a heritage landmark of the city◾ Long Read: ‘I’m like, is my brain stupid? How did it just forget my periods’ICYMI: Here’s a list of best news reports, Opinion, Explained, and features from The Indian Express this week.◾ Express Investigation — Part 1: From Emergency to Gujarat riots, lessons of past deleted from textbooks of future◾ Under fire over Agnipath, BJP’s youth, unemployment headache◾ Explained: What are the ED and IT cases against Rahul and Sonia Gandhi?◾ Explained: Two years after Galwan clash, where India-China relations stand today◾ Prayagraj demolition falls foul of Allahabad HC order, says former CJ◾ Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: Why Agnipath is not the reform the armed forces need◾ What the US Fed’s biggest rate hike in 28 years means for India and the global economy
Ahmedabad: A special state legislative assembly session has been scheduled on July 2 for 182 students of Classes 11 and 12 from various state schools as part of ‘youth parliament’. It will be held at Gujarat State Assembly in Gandhinagar. The students will discuss a bill while acting as CM, leader of opposition and members of the legislative assembly from the ruling and opposition parties. Sources said that the special session is being held for the first time and is aimed at familiarizing the younger generation with politics, democracy and governance. Sources said that assembly speaker Nima Acharya has approved the session. Students will be selected based on their knowledge of languages and management skills. Schools will conduct group discussions and personal interviews to select the students. Every participating school will send in a maximum of five students.
The Patidar leader and industrialist, Naresh Patel, the chairman of the Shree Khodaldham Trust (SKT), the leading organisation of Leuva Patels in Gujarat, declared Thursday that he was not joining politics “for now”, adding that Khodaldham will instead set up an academy to train youths for politics. In an interview with The Indian Express, he shares his thoughts on a range of social and political issues. Excerpts:What, in your view, is the secret of this sudden interest in Naresh Patel within and outside Gujarat?Probably because of the way I have led Khodaldham, the way I have led Patidars – bringing them together and then, of course, getting into lot of social work which doesn’t remain limited to Patidars but transcends castes and creeds. Secondly, anything Khodaldham does, it is important to note, is very meticulous. From day one, I have been telling my teams to draw a roadmap for anything they do and then implement it in the right way. So, that’s one of the reasons Khodaldham has achieved success in its social work journey and we have been able to reach out to people. That is one of the reasons that if I get into politics, I could make some change and probably bring a new system. That’s why people look up to me, and even the media.Did you anticipate in December last year, when you said you intended to join politics, that your announcement will attract national attention?Very frankly speaking, no. I thought it would remain limited to Gujarat or only to Saurashtra or in parts of Gujarat where Patidars live. But during my last trips to south and north Gujarat, I gathered that everybody knows it…That’s the question for everybody, not only Patidars. The media has given me such a hype!You say that youth and women want you to join politics but community elders were against that idea. What were the reasons cited by both sides?There were mainly two concerns. The first and foremost was that, they say, that you have led the community the right way and if you get into it (politics), there will be a vacuum in the system. Number two, lots of Khodaldham projects are pending. For example, we are getting into school education system, from primary (level onward). We want to get into health. Of course, into a regular health system with multi-specialty hospitals etc. which everybody does but with lot of (focus) on preventive care. These are two big thoughts we have in mind for people of Gujarat. They said without you these two projects will be left behind and that there will be a vacuum of leadership… Youth and women wanted me to get into politics because they have seen me working in Khodaldham. I decentralise things, don’t keep everything to myself. There are “n” number of committees and people working for Khodaldham and I delegate powers. What they think is that if you get into the bigger system, there’ll be more people working for it and so more people will benefit from it and things would get better.You organised the Leuva Patel community around the Khodaldham temple project. Are you happy with the kind of organisation you have built – and what next for the community?Absolutely. I will thank my community for putting so much of faith in Khodaldham and me. What we have done till now is to get together that has benefited the community at large. People living across the world have come closer. Today, if a family in US is having problem, Khodaldham can make things easy for them from here. So, bringing the community together, making it a closely-knit unit have a great benefit. After making this happen, there are lots of things like women empowerment, coaching for competitive exams etc. The day we laid the foundation stone of Khodaldham, we started coaching for competitive exams for students and from day one, it has been open to everybody. I always believe in two things: It could be a temple or a function that Leuva Patels do but when it comes to health and education, let’s not erect the barrier of “for Leuva Patels only”. It should be for everybody. This is what we are taught in the Leuva Patel community and I believe it is a great idea. We want to bring that in a very big way and really serve the needy people of the society.Now that you have organised the community, where do you want to lead them to?In my vision, I want my community to be happy rather than just being prosperous. Prosperity is part of life but what I am seeing right now is that happiness is being snatched away for various reasons. One is, the social problems within the family. And this is not only among Patidars, it’s everywhere. We are now thinking what should be done about it. Now, bringing community together, making them understand things like women empowerment, importance of competitive exams, prosperity, bringing businesses together etc. are part of it. We have been doing this successfully. But my vision is, and I may fail totally, to bring happiness to the community, bring happiness to every community… and how to do it. This is what we are doing now and we have got 10 people looking into what to do (about it).So, how do you propose to make communities happy?Basically, by bringing people together in seminars, arranging small meetings in villages and along with social reforms, letting them know what is the right way of living, how you should manage your time etc. Right now, what happens is that if I am doing something, I am only doing that work. There is no sense of time management among people here. There should be something in the morning, whatever you want to do. If it’s something religious, finish that and then do a little bit of your routine work. Then pursue your hobbies, read something, go to nature, be helpful to people, help others. This kind of things would bring happiness to society. This is our belief.A Patidar mobilisation in 1980s eventually propelled the BJP to power in Gujarat. Now you have mobilised a section of the Patidar community. Will this also eventually lead to a political change?The change in system can come only if leaders like me get into it. It’s very clear. You will have to penetrate the minds of people for any change. Patidars need a face. Look at how Patidars converted from Congress to BJP! Keshubapa (Keshubhai Patel, a Leuva Patel leader and ex-Gujarat chief minister) was the face back then. For any change, you need some face.But now that you have opted out, is there any hope of that change?Very honestly speaking, no. Nothing in the near future.Since the launch of the Patidar quota stir by Hardik Patel, the caste-lines in the state have hardened. Khodaldham is also a project of Leuva Patels, although your organisation does work for other communities too.It looks like that right now. But we should bring a change. As I told you, we get together, we have people in millions who get together and make world records. But when it comes to serving the society, we are with everybody. For instance, when it comes to education or agriculture or health, we would not keep any barricades. Such type of approach from every caste will bring people closer.Keshubhai had attempted a similar thing. He launched his own party with Patidars’ support but it could not take off. Are there any lessons in that for you?See, any individual on this earth can only make efforts. When somebody attempts something, it’s a great thing. Every human tends to make mistakes. That’s part of it. But of course, you learn a lot of things from everybody, not just Keshubapa, but anybody.So, what lessons did you learn from the period from your December announcement that you intend to join politics to your yesterday’s announcement that you are not joining it?It’s a very difficult situation to be in politics, that’s my first lesson. You need to be very, very touchy about ideas, current issues. You have to be very particular about your goals. You have to be very social, you have to be selfish and you have to be ruthless. By touchy, I mean, for instance, there is a burning issue and if you present it in a very touchy manner, you are highlighted. So, you’ve got to be touchy about issues.In recent weeks, we saw you meeting more leaders of the Congress than that of other parties. Will this have a bearing on your image among your community?I don’t think so. I have full confidence in my community. They would always believe that anything that Nareshbhai would do will be good for not only Patidars but for others too.We were told that you had set certain pre-conditions for joining the Congress, including having the power to decide its tickets on 11 Assembly seats in Saurashtra.You are misinformed. These are rumours. I have never asked for anything. If I ever told anything to any party, it was that you should make quick decisions, let’s not keep it lingering. But then, there are groups of people who would say that Nareshbhai wanted to be declared CM face, the high command didn’t accept that and that’s why Nareshbhai is not joining. This is absolutely a rumour. And tell me, if a face like I join any political party, not Congress but any party, wouldn’t I be a CM face? Wouldn’t I be a senior leader? I would be. So, there’s nothing for me to ask.Hardik Patel was pleading you to join the Congress. But then he himself quit the Congress and joined the BJP. Did this have any effect on your decisions?Absolutely not. Why would it affect my decision? That’s his individual decision. But let me tell you very clearly, not a single individual influences me in this matter except for my community’s elders and leaders who, from the bottom of their heart, told me not to join politics. They were not only from Rajkot but from across Gujarat, they held meetings with me and advised me against the idea.Among the three major parties in Gujarat, which one is likely to do the kind of work you would have done if you had joined politics?I think, if I had joined any political party, it would have aligned with me. My function is very clear. What I want to do is to ensure straightforwardness and transparency. The main aim should be ensuring transparency and things do work out. This is how I have been working and it has been successful. I think any party would fall in my line, looking at my working style.You have declared that you are not joining politics but with the rider that time and circumstances may make you think otherwise in future.Yes, not in the near future but you never know how life may take a turn.
Congress had bet big on overtures made by industrialist Naresh Patel, an influential leader of the Leuva Patel sub-caste group of Patidar community. However, on Thursday after Patel declared his decision to not join politics, the party was quick to react that its political fortunes don’t rest on “X or Y” individual joining the party and exuded confidence that it would win 125 out of 182 seats, putting an end to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 25-year rule in Gujarat.Patel, chairman of Shree Khodaldham Trust (SKT), a religious organisation of Leuva Patels, announced on December 6, 2021, that he would take a political plunge if his community allows him to do so. After the announcement, various leaders, including Gujarat BJP chief CR Paatil, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Jagdish Thakor, AICC general secretary incharge for Gujarat, Raghu Sharma, and local leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) held multiple meetings with Patel.Congress was the most aggressive party with a range of leaders, including former GPCC president Bharatsinh Solanki, meeting Patel. Patel also hosted Sharma, Thakor and other Congress leaders at his farmhouse in Rajkot on May 19 and the AICC general secretary had termed the meeting “positive”.Thakor who claims to have met Patel twice in the recent months told The Indian Express, “I asked Nareshbhai as to why he wanted to join politics while he was doing well in business and commanded respect from his community. He reply that the tyrannical rule prevailing in the country cannot be tolerated and that he wanted to join politics.”Patel even conceded that he was consulting poll strategist Prashant Kishor and reportedly met top Congress leadership. While Thakor maintains that Naresh Patel had not put any precondition on him joining Congress, highly-placed sources claim that Congress refused to accept certain conditions.“Patel underlined that he wanted to serve people in the true sense… His demand was that he be allowed to take all important decisions regarding the upcoming Assembly elections and in return he would give everything to unseat the BJP. However, senior Congress leaders from Gujarat were the first to oppose such a proposal. This left Patel with no other option… his ideological convictions would not make him feel comfortable in other outfits,” said a source.The 56-year-old industrialist from Rajkot mobilised Leuva Patels, who dominate 20 out of 48 Assembly constituencies in Saurashtra region of Gujarat as well as a few others in South Gujarat, around the Khodaldham temple project over the past decade. Leuva and Kadva Patels, the other main sub-caste group of Patidar community, together form the largest organised group of voters in Gujarat and the community is viewed as loyal supporters of the BJP since the mid-1980s.Congress has been out of power in Gujarat for two-and-a-half decades and party’s Patidar MLAs and leaders were aggressively persuading to facilitate Patel’s entry into the party to boost chances of winning the Assembly polls this year.On Thursday, Patel said that the idea of joining politics had crossed his mind while reading about freedom fighters during the Covid-19 pandemic. “I read Sardar saheb (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel) and other freedom fighters deeply and felt that one can serve people by joining politics also,” Patel said.Citing a survey, Patel said that elders of his community were against his idea even though 80 per cent of youth and 50 per cent of women wanted him to join politics. “I was sensitive to the concerns of the elders of the community… Therefore, I am not joining politics for now,” said Patel, adding Khodaldham would set up an academy to teach politics.The Congress is still smarting from the decision by Hardik Patel, who led the Patidar quota stir in the state and gave the BJP a scare in the 2017 Assembly elections, to join the BJP. “But we do have good Patidar leaders, including Siddharth Patel (former GPCC president), Harshad Ribadiya, Lalit Vasoya, Lalit Kagathara and Kirit Patel,” asserts a Congress leader.“Nareshbhai is totally free to make his own decisions and I respect his decision,” the GPCC president said, adding, “Had he joined Congress, the party would have certainly benefited… Sonama sugandh bhali hot (It would have added scent to gold). The Congress is preparing to win 125 seats in the upcoming Assembly elections and not sitting cross-legged thinking we will be able to win election only if ‘X’ or ‘Y’ individual joins the party.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed at least half-a-dozen events organised by Patidar community over the past six months in an attempt to reconnect the sections swayed by the anti-BJP tone of the quota agitation. The saffron party also replaced Vijay Rupani, a Jain, with Bhupendra Patel, a Patidar, as Chief Minister in September 2021.
Patidar leader Naresh Patel announced on Thursday that he was not joining politics “for now” as the elders of his community were against the idea, but added that his organisation would launch an academy to teach politics.Patel, chairman of Shree Khodaldham Trust—a religious organisation of the Leuva Patel sub-caste of the Patidar community—chaired a joint meeting of the trustees of the trust, the Shree Sardar Patel Cultural Foundation and the Shree Leuva Patel Atithi Bhavan at Khodaldham, a temple complex built by the trust in Kagvad village near Jetpur in Gujarat’s Rajkot district, on Thursday morning. He is chairman of the trust, the foundation and the temple complex.Addressing a press conference later, Patel said a survey conducted by the trust on whether he should join politics or not had shown that the members of his Leuva Patel community as well as other participants were divided over the issue and that he had decided to go by the advice of the elders.“As many as 80 per cent of youth want me to join politics. Likewise, 50 per cent of women also favour the idea of my joining politics. However, elders of the community are completely against the idea,” said Patel, adding, “I am sensitive to the concerns of the elders of the community and the larger organisation of the community. As you understand, if I join any political party, I would have to be loyal to that party and may not be able to work for all communities. I found the concerns of the community were justified. A lot of projects, like in education, health, agriculture etc that concern every community in Khodaldham are still incomplete. I have decided to take these projects forward and try to extend the benefits to the people of every community in Gujarat. Therefore, I am not joining politics for now,” Patel said.Patidars dominate politics in the state by virtue of being the largest organised group of voters. They are divided mainly into two sub-castes—Leuva Patels and Kadva Patels. While Leuvas are concentrated largely in Saurashtra and central and south Gujarat regions, Kadva Patels are mostly in the north Gujarat region. Saurashtra has 48 Assembly constituencies and a majority of the voters in them are Patidars.Patel said that the trust would set up an academy to train the youth in politics. “I am very happy to inform women and the youth that just like Khodaldham runs coaching classes for GPSC (Gujarat Public Service Commission) and other examinations, under the aegis of Khodaldham, we are announcing the setting up of the Khodaldham Political Academy. We invite the youth of every community to join it,” said Patel, who is also one of the leading industrialists of Rajkot.At present, the Shree Sardar Patel Cultural Foundation provides coaching for competitive examinations.
Leuva Patel leader from Rajkot, Naresh Patel, is likely to announce his decision on joining politics after a meeting of trustees of three organisations on Thursday even as media reports on Tuesday claimed that Patel is unlikely to join politics.Some of the trustees of Shree Khodaldham Trust (SKT) and Shree Sardar Patel Cultural Foundation (SSPCF) met at the SSPCF office in Mavdi area of the city on Tuesday. After the end of the meeting, SKT spokesperson Hasmukh Lunagariya said that a meeting of the SKT, SSPCF and Shree Leuva Patel Aitithi Bhavan, Veraval (SLPAB) has been scheduled for Thursday.“Generally, trustees of SKT meet every Monday at the SSPCF office. But as Nareshbhai was out of station on Monday, the meeting took place on Tuesday,” Lunagariya said, adding, “Trustees of the three organisations will hold a joint meeting at Khodaldam in Kagvad village on Thursday and some decision is likely to be announced at the end of the meeting on whether Nareshbhai would join politics or not.”Rajkot-based industrialist Patel is chairman of all of these three organisations of Leuva Patel sub-caste group of the Patidar community.After Tuesday’s meeting at SSPCF, some media reports, quoting SKT sources, claimed that Patel is unlikely to join power politics. However, the SKT spokesperson said, “No decision was taken at the Tuesday’s meeting. In fact, Naresh Patel is not going to take that decision on his own. Trustees will deliberate over the issue and then make their recommendations.”
The Aam Aadmi Party’s Gujarat president Gopal Italia is a former constable and state secretariat clerk who was also associated with Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS). Before he joined the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, Italia made the news for hurling a shoe at former state Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja in protest against alleged corruption.With six months left for the Assembly elections, Italia has a lot of ground to cover while maintaining a balance between party loyalists and new arrivals. In an interview, he talks to The Indian Express about the party’s efforts to carve out a third front in Gujarat, Hardik Patel joining the BJP, and why he thinks it is an honour for the AAP to have the ruling party hold a “grudge” against it. Following are the excerpts:The BJP has been in power for the past 27 years in Gujarat. Their poll pitch is Hindutva and governance. The Congress has time-tested social engineering politics. What is the AAP’s politics here?Italia: Our politics is our uniqueness. We have real issues such as education, healthcare, electricity, and regular water supply to do politics on. How will the common man benefit from the polarisation and social engineering politics of the BJP and the Congress? For ages, these parties have pitted one community against other for their political gains. We are offering something that none of these two parties have — ‘kaam ki rajniti (politics of work)’.Gujarat is a border state with India’s longest coastline. If chosen to power tomorrow, do you think the AAP will be able to form an amicable relationship with the Centre, especially in matters of national security?Italia: There are no compromises when it comes to national security. Whatever needs to be done will be done in this regard. Recently, Punjab Chief Minister and our party leader Bhagwant Mann met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the same matter in the border state of Punjab. This is a non-negotiable issue.You do not have a single leader in your Gujarat unit who has any experience in governance. If elected tomorrow, will you outsource governance to those with expertise in Delhi and Punjab?Italia: When we formed our government for the first time in Delhi in 2013, none of us had any experience in governance. See, it is a good thing to have experience. You will always benefit from it, but one also needs to have good intentions along with experience. Both the BJP and the Congress have an experience of over 30-40 years in governance. What good did they do for the people? I do not think this is an issue. Our team in Gujarat has good intentions while our party in Delhi and Punjab have experience as well.Recently, in Rajkot and Mehsana, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal attacked state BJP president CR Paatil, calling him the de facto CM of Gujarat. Is targeting Paatil part of the AAP strategy?Italia: Why should we target Paatil? It is the BJP that has grounded Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and allowed Paatil to roam around Gujarat making announcements on behalf of the state government as well as the Centre. Who is Paatil to announce that the Par Tapi Narmada project has been cancelled? What is his authority to tell the state government to reconsider the stray cattle bill? When the BJP itself has clearly told the people that their CM and his Cabinet are useless and CR Paatil is the de facto head, then should we ignore it?Kejriwal also alleged during the Mehsana road show that the BJP was pressuring local TV news channels for not inviting AAP people to debates.Italia: What is there to allege? It is crystal clear. You can go to YouTube and watch the retelecast of debates on local TV news channels for the past 10 days and you won’t find our panellists there. The BJP people have clearly instructed these channels that AAP should not be been seen at all.You went to jail for 11 days with your party workers last December…Italia: The jail experience was exactly as it sounds. It is not a good place to be and we are not criminals. We were mentally ready to face all this when we entered politics. But it (going to jail) has only strengthened our resolve now to fight for the issues of the common man.What has been the behaviour of the police towards your party workers?Italia: The police themselves know that they are being used to suppress people. When we were arrested and sent to jail, we got an opportunity to interact with several cops. Many of them believed that the government could use them for some real work instead of hounding political parties.Your party’s senior leader Isudan Gadhvi was booked in a prohibition case. Do you think the BJP holds a grudge against you and your party?Italia: It is obvious that a dishonest and corrupt man will hold grudges against honest people. They (BJP) are a party of goons whereas we are a party of educated, civil people. We take it as a badge of honour that the BJP holds a grudge against us.The issue of frequent question paper leaks in government recruitment exams had the potential to snowball into a political storm in Gujarat. Yet, it was a damp squib. Why?Italia: It was not a damp squib. People are really upset and angry and they will respond to it during the elections. What purpose can their anger serve now? If they hit the streets, the police will book and arrest them under false charges. Moreover, a common man is already troubled about rising inflation and fuel, LPG, and food prices. They know that a real alternative has arrived in Gujarat this time in form of AAP and they will express their anger by voting for us.Your party underwent a rejig in Gujarat on Sunday, with 850 new office-bearers being appointed. What was its purpose? Was it to accommodate everyone?Italia: No, it’s a routine rejig exercise by our party as it has been expanding in Gujarat. This restructuring was necessary for the kind of work we have planned for Gujarat.Your party high command dissolved the entire Gujarat unit but spared you.Italia: I am grateful to the party. I am a common man with no political ambitions or expertise. I just use my wisdom.Have you faced any resistance within your party after the rejig?Italia: See, there is no resistance as such but whenever a party undergoes reshuffling, it’s not necessary that everyone will be happy with it. So the reactions are mixed but we have not faced any resistance yet.Is your CM face ready?Italia: It is too early to answer this question. The Election Commission hasn’t even declared the election dates yet. We do not want to announce a CM face six months before the polls and parade the person in villages as a groom.You were inviting Hardik Patel to join your party, what happened then?Italia: Why just Hardik? We want all fighters to join the AAP. But it’s completely their prerogative where they wish to go.So, did you try to reach out to him when he was in the Congress?Italia: Why try? I am in touch with Hardik. We both belong to the same community and we keep bumping into each other at public functions. I will still say that the AAP is ready to welcome anyone who is willing to fight for the issues of the people and against the draconian regime of the BJP.Last year, your party won 27 seats in the Surat Municipal Corporation elections. It is being said that the PAAS was behind the victory. Your comment?Italia: We received love and support from all sections of society. It would be unfair to say that the 27 seats were won because of the PAAS or my association with it. But yes, we did receive the support of the PAAS.So will you get blessings of the PAAS in the Assembly elections even though Hardik has now joined the BJP?Italia: Only time will tell.Are any attempts being made to reach out to the Patidar community? Your party has not made any public statements on the matter.Italia: We are just doing our job and we are not here to target or lure any community. This is exactly what the BJP and Congress have been doing in Gujarat for years.Tell us one issue in Gujarat that the AAP wants to pick up before the polls. You have raised several issues in the recent past but none have culminated into a major poll plank yet.Italia: Why should we single out an issue? This is absurd. It is like saying that the AAP will only fight for education and not healthcare. When people are frustrated with so many issues, they want solutions for each one of them. There are parties like the BJP and the Congress that only have one issue as their poll plank.How do you see Congress as an Opposition in Gujarat?Italia: The BJP and the Congress are not A team and B team. They are one team in Gujarat. They have an understanding with each other at the village, taluka, and district levels. How can you stand up as an Opposition when you do backroom dealings with the BJP?The AAP has joined hands with the Bharatiya Tribal Party. Have you come up with any pre-poll alliance yet in the tribal belt?Italia: Talks are going between us on various dimensions. The elections are six months away, so we will see what comes out of it.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxAre you in talks with any other political party in Gujarat for an alliance?Italia: Which other party in Gujarat?For example, the AIMIM.Italia: You think it’s a party? Good for you.What is the AAP’s stand on the Prohibition Act?Italia: This is a major issue in Gujarat. We will see how to proceed with it.Do you think the Prohibition Act will end one day?Italia: It doesn’t matter what I think. We need expert discussions on this subject and find out the opinion of people.
Written by Mark LandlerWhen Boris Johnson won a landslide election victory for his Conservative Party in 2019, he loomed as a colossus over British politics, the man who had redrawn the country’s political map with a vow to “get Brexit done.”With an 80-seat majority in Parliament, the greatest amassed by a Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher in 1987, Johnson seemed assured of five years in power. Some analysts predicted a comfortable decade in No. 10 Downing St. for Johnson, the most reliable vote-getter in British politics.Now, just 2-1/2 years after that triumph, Johnson’s political invincibility has been shattered. Rebels in his party fell short of ousting him in a dramatic no-confidence vote on Monday. But with 148 of 359 Tory lawmakers voting against him, he has been damaged, perhaps irretrievably, as an effective, credible leader. Although he remains prime minister, he may be living on borrowed time.It is one of the most head-spinning reversals of fortune in modern British political history. What happened?To some extent, Johnson’s standing crumbled because of the same confounding mix of strengths and foibles that propelled his rise: rare political intuition offset by breathtaking personal recklessness; a sense of history not matched by a corresponding sense of how he should conduct himself as a leader; uncanny people skills vitiated by a transactional style that earned him few allies and left him isolated at dangerous moments.It is that last quality, analysts say, that made Johnson so vulnerable to the setbacks he has suffered. With no underlying ideology beyond Brexit and no network of political friends, the prime minister lost the support of lawmakers in his party when it became clear they could not count on him to win the next election.“Johnson’s such an accomplished escape artist, and his colleagues so craven and cowardly that you can’t rule out him living to fight another day,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. “But for what precisely? ‘There’s no there there,’ as the saying goes.”Johnson, after all, is the politician who decided to back Brexit after writing two columns — one making the case for leaving the European Union; the other arguing against it — the night before announcing his position. He won in 2019 by promising to “Get Brexit done,” but having accomplished that goal within months of the election, he often seemed like a prime minister without a plan.Events, as another British prime minister, Harold Macmillan, once put it, have also played a role. Like other world leaders, Johnson was thrown off course by the coronavirus pandemic, his government upended by a rolling health crisis, in which he played a highly visible but not always reassuring role.Johnson reacted late to the looming threat of the virus, imposing a lockdown on the country a week after neighbouring European countries. That delay, critics argued, made the first wave of the pandemic worse in Britain than elsewhere. In April 2020, with the virus circulating in Downing Street, Johnson himself contracted Covid-19, ended up in an intensive care unit and nearly died.But Johnson also pushed for Britain to be a pioneer in developing a vaccine. When Oxford University and AstraZeneca produced one, he rolled it out faster than almost any other major country. He also made a fateful decision — one later copied by other leaders — to reopen society after a significant percentage of the population had been vaccinated. Britons, he said, must learn to live with Covid.It was during the darkest days of the pandemic that the seeds of Johnson’s current troubles were sown. While the rest of the country was enduring stifling lockdowns, the prime minister and his top aides were taking part in social gatherings at Downing Street that violated their own lockdown restrictions.The first reports of illicit parties emerged late last November, prompting Johnson to issue a blanket denial that any laws had been broken. A subsequent police investigation found that was not true: Johnson himself was fined for attending his own birthday party in violation of the rules.Allies of Johnson argue that “Partygate,” as the London tabloids nicknamed it, is a trivial distraction at a time when Europe is confronting its first major land war since World War II. The prime minister swiftly staked out a position as Ukraine’s staunchest defender, shipping powerful weapons to its army and placing regular phone calls to his new friend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.At first, the war eclipsed the scandal, giving Johnson the chance to wrap himself in a statesman’s mantle. But as the fighting ground on, disenchantment resurfaced at home. London’s Metropolitan Police levied fines, and an internal investigation by a senior civil servant painted a lurid portrait of partying in the heart of government.The taint of moral hypocrisy corroded the prime minister’s popularity with the public. On Friday, when he and his wife Carrie Johnson climbed the steps to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a thanksgiving service in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne, he was roundly booed by the crowd. It was an omen.Beyond that, the economic winds began blowing against Johnson. The supply-chain disruptions from the pandemic — combined with price shocks on food and fuel after Russia’s invasion — drove inflation into double digits and raised the specter of “stagflation.”The last time Britain faced that, its Labour government went down to a crushing defeat against Thatcher’s Conservatives. The prospect of history repeating itself helps explain why lawmakers are turning against Johnson.The 2019 Conservative victory was fuelled by winning seats in longtime Labour districts in the country’s Midlands and industrial north, known colloquially as the “red wall.” But as Johnson himself acknowledged after the victory, the Tories had rented these seats, not won them in perpetuity.Instead of appealing to those new Tory voters with innovative policies, Johnson lurched from scandal to scandal. In addition to Partygate, the prime minister became embroiled in an uproar over the expensive refurbishment of his apartment in Downing Street, which was funded by a Conservative donor.He defended a Conservative lawmaker who was accused of lobbying improperly while in office and then had to back down, a humiliating setback that presaged some of the troubles to come within his own party. He got caught up in a vicious and damaging public feud with his former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.By themselves, these issues might not have been enough to trip up a politician known for his Houdini-like escapes. But against an economic backdrop that the head of the Bank of England described as “apocalyptic,” they contributed to fears in the party that the Conservatives face a ferocious voter backlash.“All we can say with any level of certainty is that ordinary Brits are going to find it tough going economically for the rest of this year — and probably well into the next,” Bale said. “And that spells trouble for the Tories, Johnson or no Johnson.”
Pointing out that land prices in Gujarat shot up due to foreign investments that flowed in the state, Parshottam Rupala, Union minister for dairy, fisheries and animal husbandry said that Narendra Modi was able to prove that the state is the “best destination for investments” both in India and overseas.“There was a time when nobody wanted to buy land in Kutch. Today, it is difficult to get even an inch of land for Rs 10 lakh. I want to ask all those who criticise BJP, what is the reason for the spike in land prices in Gujarat?,” he asked his partymen while addressing a “Karyakarta Sammelan” at Kudasan in Gandhinagar.“Friends, Narendrabhai was successful in proving both within India and overseas that Gujarat was the best destination for investments. So everyone came here and the prices of land have spiked,” he added.🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨Listing out the various achievements of Modi both in Gujarat and as Prime Minister of the country, the Union minister said, “It was Narendra Modi as the chief minister of Gujarat who first began seeking votes in the name of development in the history of elections in India. Till then, one caste or community used to pitted against each other. Elections were fought using a combination of castes.Modi put forth the performance of the state government while seeking votes.” Rupala was citing the 2007 election campaign of the BJP in Gujarat, when Modi made the development pitch to the voters.“He not only established this form of politics, but also made Gujarat a successful role model in the country,” Rupala added.
Congress leader Mr Solanki said that he will take a break from active politics for few months. (File)Ahmedabad: Senior Gujarat Congress leader and former Union minister Bharatsinh Solanki on Friday announced he was taking a break from active politics for a few months, the announcement coming amid a troubled marriage and a video linked to it going viral a couple of days ago.Mr Solanki maintained that his decision to stay away from politics for some months and to concentrate on meeting "Dalits, tribals, minorities and people from other backward communities" during this period was voluntary.The viral video showed Mr Solanki's estranged wife Reshma entering a house and thrashing a woman seen with the former, after accusing her of "snatching" her husband."I have decided to take a break from active politics for few months and will focus on social activities. I will spend more time meeting Dalits, tribals, minorities and people from other backward communities during this period," he said at a press conference.While it was speculated that the decision was taken on the directive of the party, Mr Solanki claimed "I have not received any instruction from high command".Attacking his estranged wife over the issue, the 68-year-old leader said she was playing into the hands of his political opponents ahead of Assembly polls scheduled in the state later this year."It is obvious she is playing into the hands of those who want to harm me and the Congress in the upcoming (state) polls. Opposing parties are interested in such issues because they want to take advantage by maligning my image as well as that of the Congress," he claimed.Mr Solanki said he has already filed for the divorce and alleged his estranged wife, whom he married in 1999, was interested in his property and posed a danger to his life."We have not lived together for many years. I am seeking divorce because she had tried to harm me in the past to snatch my property. She even contacted an exorcist to take my life. I may get married again if I get divorce from her. The court will hear my application for divorce on June 15," Mr Solanki alleged.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comMr Solanki, a former Gujarat Congress president, had served as minister when the UPA was in power at the Centre.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Congress alleged Gujarat has become a "gateway of drugs" to the country.New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat has become the "gateway of drugs" to the country under his watch, the Congress alleged Friday, questioning the "silence" of the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah and demanding answers agencies tasked to control narcotics smuggling.Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told reporters there has been a series of recoveries of drug consignments starting from July, 2017 right up to this week from several ports including Mundra and Pupavav in the state.Just on Thursday, 52 kilograms of cocaine, worth Rs 500 crore, was recovered from Mundra Port that had come from Iran, he alleged.When under "pressure from the Congress Party", the Mundra port had announced they will not handle cargos from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, then how the latest consignment of cocaine was recovered from there, he asked."The Congress Party has questioned the government over the last eight months on why all these recoveries are taking place in Gujarat alone? Why is Gujarat becoming the gateway of drugs to India," he asked.Mr Khera said the Congress had to question the government on the post of Narcotics Control Bureau head lying vacant for 18 months, before the appointment was made under "pressure" from the opposition party.He alleged Gujarat has become a "gateway of drugs" to the country under the watch of PM Modi and Home Minister Shah. "You have the prime minister from Gujarat. You have the home minister from Gujarat. Why are they silent?" "This is a prime minister who talks more and does less. On this particular issue, (he has said) not a word. Why this silence?" The Congress leader said drugs cannot be traded just at a retail level and this trade is always a part of larger global syndicates which enjoy active political patronage in whichever country they operate."We demand answers from the government on what is your blueprint? What is your roadmap to burst this syndicate and who is the El Chapo or Pablo Escobar of this drug syndicate in this country? "These are important critical questions because as I said, we are dealing with the future of our next generation, they are destroying it. We owe it to them, if not to ourselves to give them a drug-free future," he said.Under this government, Mr Khera alleged, the NCB, Enforcement Directorate, CBI and other agencies have been reduced to dealing with "retail politics" and are being "misused" by the ruling dispensation against political opponents.Instead of "forcing" these agencies to deal into "retail politics", the government should allow them to focus more on recovering the wholesale drug consignments that are coming, he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comHe said Congress MP Digvijaya Singh had questioned the government in parliament on these recoveries and Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai had informed on October 6, 2021 that the NIA has been handed over these cases."What are the findings of the NIA?" Mr Khera asked, saying it was a critical question and not just because the opposition is asking it. "We owe it our future generations." He also referred to a major smuggling of drugs that allegedly happened in June, 2021 and "did not get caught". He said it involved consignments of 25 tonnes and costing around Rs 1,75,000 crore.
Congress MLA from Khedbrahma, Ashwin Kotwal, resigned from the Gujarat assembly.Gandhinagar (Gujarat): After resigning from the Gujarat assembly on Tuesday, former Congress MLA Ashwin Kotwal has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, on the same day.Addressing a press conference, Mr Kotwal said, "I was very upset with the party I was working for. The society I come from. The Congress pretends to be within the tribal society."Asserting Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a 'development man', he said "Modi is a development man and the country could never get such a development-oriented man. He has travelled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and has made development in Gujarat's Umargam village to Ambaji.""When Modi Saheb talked to me in 2007, he said that all the tribal brothers should have a house in the tribal area," he added.He asserted that the BJP needs good men in politics and the ones who would stay and perform good deeds for society.Mr Kotwal had accused Congress of working by deceiving the Congress and refuted the allegations of the Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal that stated that Gujarat has a failed Education system.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
JP Nadda In Gujarat: JP Nadda is on a day's visit to Gujarat.Gandhinagar: BJP president J P Nadda on Friday said Gujarat is a "laboratory" for his party for the matters pertaining to governance and party organisation.Mr Nadda, who is on a day's visit to the state, also claimed that the BJP is the only true national party in the country now as Congress has become a party of "brother and sister" and regional parties have become family fiefdoms."Gujarat is a laboratory of governance and party organisation (for the BJP). We will implement this model across the country. As a party chief, it is also my responsibility to take ahead this model," he told reporters during a press conference here.Successful "experiments" to develop the party and make it a "medium of change" were carried out in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was a party office-bearer and later chief minister, he added."Modi ji created a development model in Gujarat. At the national level, we are now seeing the reflection of that experiment carried out in Gujarat by Modi as chief minister," said Mr Nadda.The sudden change of guard effected by the party last year in the state when chief minister Vijay Rupani and his cabinet resigned and a new government under Bhupendra Patel's leadership replaced it was also an “experiment” carried out as part of the party's strategy, he said.Notably, Assembly elections are due in the BJP-ruled state in December this year."See, it's a laboratory. Otherwise which party would have dared to do that (replace the entire cabinet). It was part of our strategy and it can not be discussed in public. Let us decide what experiment is needed for what purpose," said Mr Nadda when asked about the reason for the Rupani cabinet's exit in September 2021.The party has changed the political culture in India as prime minister PM Modi's politics based on development has given a tough fight to the politics based on caste, community and region as well as dynastic politics, the BJP chief said.Asked about Union minister Nitin Gadkari's recent remark that there was a need for a "strong opposition", he said it is the responsibility of opposition parties to become stronger.Earlier, addressing party workers at the Ahmedabad airport upon arrival, Mr Nadda said any party which wants to compete with the BJP will need to work hard for at least 50-60 years to be a worthy opponent.After addressing party leaders including MPs and MLAs at the state BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar, Mr Nadda addressed nearly 5,000 party workers at the Gujarat University Convention Centre in Ahmedabad.In his speech, he claimed that the BJP is the only true national party now."Except the BJP, there is not a single national party in the country because all the regional parties have now become family-controlled parties. For example, National Conference and PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, Akali Dal, Lok Dal, Samajwadi Party, RJD, BJD, YSR Congress, TRS, DMK, NCP and Shiv Sena," he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"The Indian National Congress is neither Indian, nor national nor a party today. It has become a party of brother and sister," he said, in a veiled reference to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra."That party is currently ruling two states, and, with your blessings, lotus (the BJP's symbol) will bloom in these states too in the future," he said.