The Indian Express | 6 days ago | 06-08-2022 | 03:50 am
Observing that voting is a right, not a duty, Minister of State for Law and Justice S P Singh Baghel said on Friday that the idea of compulsory voting is against principles of democracy.Replying to a debate on the Compulsory Voting Bill that was introduced by BJP member Janardhan Singh ‘Sigriwal’ in 2019, Baghel said that if some people are not eager to cast their votes, they cannot be forced to do so.Baghel mentioned that the Gujarat Assembly had passed a resolution making voting compulsory, but it was stayed by the High Court.He said he agreed with the sentiment of the members on compulsory voting, but it was not practical to penalise people for not exercising their franchise.Baghel said that several countries across the globe, including Philippines, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bulgaria and Chile tried this experiment of compulsory voting but they soon realised that it led to some disparities that were damaging.During his speech, Baghel hit out at the Congress party, saying it could not attract people to the polling booths. He said voting increased by 8.4 per cent in 2014 as compared to 2009 as people wanted to see Narendra Modi as their Prime Minister.Voter turnout in the last Lok Sabha election was the highest-ever at 66.11 per cent, he said.Urging Sigriwal to withdraw the Bill, Baghel said that B S Rawat in 2004 and J P Agarwal in 2009, too, had introduced such a Private Member’s Bill, but they later withdrew.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxSigriwal then withdrew the Bill. The Bill had proposed a provision to provide a list of eligible voters who did not turn out for voting.Earlier in the day, several Private Member’s Bills including one on the Agnipath Scheme by RSP member N K Premachandran were introduced in Lok Sabha. However, BJP member Ravi Kishan’s Bill on population control could not be introduced as he was not present in the House.BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab, who was in the Chair, said, “Many members are not present in the House. Otherwise, there were 171 Bills that were to be introduced.”
After forming the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) government and taking oath as the Bihar Chief Minister for a record eighth time Wednesday, a day after he walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) again, Janata Dal (United) supremo Nitish Kumar said that if BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had been his deputy CM the situation leading to his snapping ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would not have arisen.The BJP, which was stunned by Nitish’s move, pushed Sushil,70, to the margins of the Bihar political scene despite the fact that the latter had enjoyed a warm and close relationship with the CM in their successive coalition governments as his deputy from November 2005 to June 2013 and again from July 2017 to December 2020.Nitish also had a seamless communication line with former Union minister late Arun Jaitley. The Bihar BJP circles then used to dub it as Nitish’s “Jaitley channel”. Sushil was also known to be close to Jaitley. So, the relations between the two NDA allies had remained smooth at both the state and central levels.However, their ties developed the first crack during the BJP National Executive meet held in Patna in 2010, when big advertisements were published in Bihar newspapers showing the then Gujarat CM and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar in the same frame from a picture from a 2009 Haryana rally. Upset by the ads, Nitish cancelled the dinner he was going to host for the visiting BJP leaders.Although the then ruling JD(U)-BJP alliance had survived but some hiccups remained that eventually reached a breaking point in June 2013. But even then, Nitish had kept Sushil and Jaitley posted about his reservations about Modi’s expected projection as the BJP-led NDA’s PM candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.But now, Nitish did not bother to share his concerns with the BJP central leadership and took them by surprise.Less than a month ago, on July 12, PM Modi shared stage with Nitish at a function held in Patna as part of the Bihar Assembly’s centenary celebrations, where the latter welcomed the PM. PM Modi also praised Nitish, calling him a “popular leader” and a “valuable ally”, highlighting his role in ensuring 50 per cent reservation for women in Panchayat Raj institutions.A hint of a discord that the BJP leaders might have sensed was Nitish’s move to skip four back-to-back central dispensation-held meetings, including the NITI Aayog governing council meeting called by the PM, in recent days.Yet, when Union home minister Amit Shah called up Nitish Monday, a day before he severed his alliance with the BJP, he reportedly told the former that there was “no issue”. A JD(U) leader said: “Even though Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan came to meet Nitish Kumar recently and PM, Shah and Nadda would intermittently call him up, there used to be no warmth in his communications with the BJP brass like he had during Sushil Modi’s stint as his deputy.”He also said, “Both Nitish and Sushil entered politics through the JP Movement in the 1970s and knew each other very well. In the course of their partnership as CM and DCM, if there were any reports of any communal incident from anywhere in the state, Nitish would call up Sushil and another BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav to hep him defuse it. But with the present set of BJP leaders, Sanjay Jaiswal as their state president and two deputy CMs, Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi, there was a huge communication gap.”However, it was said to be his long-standing camaraderie with Nitish that cost him the DCM’s post after the alliance returned to power in the 2020 Assembly polls. Sushil defended himself from the charge coming from within the BJP that he was “too close” to Nitish to their leadership’s discomfort, saying “what he did had the backing of the central leadership and it was important to stay in power than confront the CM”.When the BJP top brass called him to Delhi after the 2020 poll results, Sushil was reportedly told that the “leadership responsibility in government would now go to the younger leaders”. However, Tarkishore Prasad, 64, and Renu Devi, 62, were picked as the DCMs, much to the surpise of everyone. They were reportedly chosen as they belong to the OBC and EBC communities, respectively.The BJP, however, did not attempt to make a leader with some significant political heft Nitish’s deputy. It wanted the party to come out of Nitish’s shadows, and its leaders started to attack the CM in a case of political adventurism. A senior JD(U) leader said: “It is a standard power theory to remain loyal and submissive when you are number two. BJP perhaps had been desperate to become number one against Nitish and ended up losing us”.The BJP seemed to have looked for stop-gap arrangements. Even though it had in its ranks leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Giriraj Singh, Sanjay Jaiswal, Mangal Pandey and Shahnawaz Hussain, it perhaps suprised and disappointed its cadre by choosing Tarkishore and Renu as DCMs over these well-known faces. Ujiyarpur MP and Union minister Nityanand Rai tried to throw his hat into the ring because of his closeness to Amit Shah and Union minister Bhupendra Yadav but his being a Yadav put the BJP in a dilemma – given the fact that the Yadav community along with Muslims has remained the RJD’s core vote base – and his leadership candidature remained more a matter of self-projection.Sushil, a Rajya Sabha MP now, continues to raise state and national issues, but he prefers to keep a low profile. When BJP leaders like Bisfi MLA Haribhushan Thakur would issue anti-Muslim statements at regular intervals upsetting Nitish, the party leadership would never rein him in. It was kind of free-for-all in the BJP. Any second-rung leader would take on Nitish and get away with it. Even Sanjay Jaiswal would occasionally go after Nitish over issues like population control and law and order. The absence of a Bihar BJP in-charge like Bhupendra Yadav also contributed to a rise in tension in its relations with the JD(U).A senior BJP leader said: “Sushil Modi still commands great respect. After he was sidelined in Bihar BJP politics, no other leader seems to have filled his slot… We do not know what Centre wants. Getting a small-stature leader might work elsewhere, not in Bihar, especially when you have a leader of Nitish Kumar’s stature to match up to. Now that we are all by ourselves, let us have a leader in BJP in Bihar.”There had been a growing discomfort in Nitish’s relations with the BJP since they formed the government again after the 2020 polls, with the BJP as the senior partner this time. Finally, the “RCP Singh model of conspiracy” might have given him the handle to pull the plug on it.
The Har Ghar Tiranga campaign has become an identity of “duty-bound citizen of India”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing satisfaction that it has helped improve the income of the poor, weavers and handloom workers.In a video message to Surat textile traders who took out a five-kilometre Tiranga yatra Wednesday, Modi lauded them for laying the foundation of Surat’s progress and said that the attention of the whole country was on Surat, which was “in a way, a glimpse of mini India”.Surat’s people have “brought alive emotions of the freedom struggle”, the PM said, adding, “There would be no corner in the country from where people have not settled in Surat… In a way, a mini India is being seen in the Tiranga Yatra of Surat. People from all sections of the society are involved in this together. There is a garment seller, shopkeeper, somebody is a craftsman of looms, someone is involved in sewing and embroidery work, another one engaged in transportation or jewellery. The entire textile industry… people of Surat have made the event grand.”“The tricolour of India does not only contain three colours, but our tricolour is a reflection of the pride of our past, our commitment to the present and our dreams of the future. Our tricolour is a symbol of India’s unity, integrity and diversity,” Modi said.Modi also thanked Surat-based textile trader Sawarprasad Budhiya who is a BJP worker originally from Rajasthan, volunteers of Saket group — a body of textile traders — and BJP Gujarat president and Lok Sabha MP CR Paatil for “his co-operation” that made the Har Ghar Tiranga movement “more powerful”.“India has written a golden chapter on the glorious contribution of Gujarat in the history of its freedom struggle. Through Bapu, Gujarat gave a leadership to the fight for freedom. Through the iron man of Sardar Patel, it gave leaders who laid the foundation of Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat… Messages from the Bardoli satyagraha and Dandi yatra unified the whole country. Our Surat is an inseparable part and legacy of this glorious past of Gujarat,” the PM said.Calling national flag the symbol of “our textile industry, khadi and self-reliance”, Modi said, “Our national flag itself has been a symbol of the country’s textile industry, the country’s khadi and our self-reliance. Surat has always laid the groundwork for a self-reliant India in this area.”“Our forces saw the future of the country, its dream in the tricolour and never let it bow down by any means. When today, after 75 years of Independence, we are beginning the journey of a new India, the tricolour is once again representing the unity and consciousness of India,” the PM said.The yatra started from Surat textile market and culminated at the Millennium textile market on Ring Road. Union Minister of State for Railways and Textiles and Surat city BJP MP Darshana Jardosh, state cabinet minister Purnesh Modi and State Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi participated.The PM said Tiranga Yatras being held across the country are a reflection of the power and devotion of the Har Ghar Tiranga Abhiyan. “From August 13 to 15, tricolour will be hoisted in every house of India. People from every section of the society, every caste and creed are spontaneously coming together with only one identity. This is the identity of the conscientious citizen of India,” he said.(With PTI)
In the top story of the day, JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar took oath as Bihar Chief Minister for the eighth time in a ceremony held at Raj Bhavan in Patna. Speaking to the media, he took a veiled attack at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and stated the BJP-led NDA regime at the Centre needs to “worry” about its prospects in the 2024 general elections. “Those who came to power in 2014, will they be victorious in 2024? I would like all (opposition) to be united for 2024,” said Nitish, who snapped ties with the BJP before joining forces with Mahagathbandan (Grand Alliance).While refraining from commenting on his national plan and his Prime Ministerial ambition for the 2024 general elections at this stage, Nitish, who is considered to be among the country’s most astute and seasoned politicians, pointed to a Bihar template of Opposition unity comprising the Congress, Socialist and Left parties with a common goal of taking on the BJP.The Supreme Court on Wednesday transferred to Delhi all the FIRs registered against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her remarks on Prophet Muhammed and clubbed them with the one registered in the national capital. They will now be investigated by Delhi Police’s Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit, which is investigating the Delhi case. The court also gave Sharma protection from arrest till the investigation is completed in the matter.Justice Uday Umesh Lalit was on Wednesday appointed as the 49th Chief Justice of India after President Droupadi Murmu signed his warrant of appointment. He will assume charge on August 27 after incumbent N V Ramana demits office the day before. “In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Chief Justice of India with effect from 27 August, 2022,” a law ministry notification said.The Supreme Court Wednesday granted bail to activist Varavara Rao, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, on medical grounds, news agency PTI reported. While granting bail, a bench headed by Justice U U Lalit said he shall not misuse the liberty in any manner.Investigations into the communal murders in the coastal Karnataka region of Dakshina Kannada and Mangaluru between July 20 and July 28 indicate a pattern similar to that seen in 20 murders in Karnataka over the last decade. As many as nine murders, including the recent three, were tit-for-tat killings, while all involve local gangsters with affiliations to either right-wing Hindutva fringe groups, or the radical Islamist outfit Popular Front of India (PFI).Limits imposed on domestic airfares will be removed from August 31, after a span of approximately 27 months, the Union Aviation Ministry said on Wednesday. “The decision to remove air fare caps has been taken after careful analysis of daily demand and prices of air turbine fuel (ATF). Stabilisation has set in and we are certain that the sector is poised for growth in domestic traffic in the near future,” Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Twitter.Political PulseIn the campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party seems to be making a concerted push to woo traders and small businessmen and industrialists. On Wednesday, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal addressed his third town hall in 10 days with them, this time in Ahmedabad. Kejriwal had earlier held similar town halls in Rajkot and Jamnagar districts of Saurashtra, which are considered the state’s MSME hubs.The Congress’s “Azadi ki Gaurav Yatra” in Uttar Pradesh started off on a dull note on Tuesday, illustrating the problems that the party — debilitated after a series of electoral reverses — faces in the state. The yatra is being organised to mark the week leading up to Independence Day but has received a tepid response so far. But what concerns state Congress leaders and workers the most is the absence of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. Read Maulshree Seth’s report to know how Congress activists are reacting.Express ExplainedAlmost three years after the novel coronavirus was detected in China, a new zoonotic virus has been discovered in the country’s two eastern provinces with 35 infections identified so far. This new type of Henipavirus is also being called Langya Henipavirus or the LayV. What is Langya Henipavirus? We explainThe Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs has written to industry and other concerned stakeholders, inviting them to brainstorm a plan for having one cable for charging all your devices. The ministry’s move comes in the backdrop of the concept of LiFE — Lifestyle for the Environment — announced by the Prime Minister at the UN Climate Change Conference (CoP 26) held in Glasgow in November last year. So, how is the government planning to go ahead with it and what does it mean for the industry? We explain
In the campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party seems to be making a concerted push to woo traders and small businessmen and industrialists. On Wednesday, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal addressed his third town hall in 10 days with them, this time in Ahmedabad.Kejriwal had earlier held similar town halls in Rajkot and Jamnagar districts of Saurashtra, which are considered the state’s MSME hubs.At Rajkot on July 26, the first of these meetings, Kejriwal gave five ‘guarantees’ to the business community if voted to power in Gujarat: ending “an atmosphere of fear”, ensuring respect for them, weeding out corruption by way of doorstep delivery of government services, clearing pending VAT rebate pleas within six months, and simplifying GST. The Delhi CM also promised to make businessmen “partners in government” by forming a consultative committee comprising representatives from all business sectors.At his second town hall, in Jamnagar on August 5, he repeated the guarantees, while promising to end “raid raaj”.AAP claims that the “success” of its town halls is proof of the hollowness of the state BJP government’s claim that businesses are flourishing in Gujarat. “Businessmen don’t speak openly in public. But in private, they have numerous complaints about the GST regime and corruption,” Shivlal Barasiya, AAP Gujarat trade wing president, said.Not just MSMEs, but business houses with a “turnover of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 500 crore” attended their meetings, Barasiya added. “Our political rivals and critics might accuse AAP of trying to woo the poor with promises of freebies, but such conclusions are erroneous. The turnout of businessmen and industrialists at the town halls proves that it is not only the poor who are facing hardships due to the policies of the present government but also the business fraternity that is in duress,” Barasiya, who played a key role in organising the Saurashtra town halls, said.“AAP’s objective is to raise the voice of every segment of society and therefore our agenda and focus area will keep changing every two weeks. In Rajkot and Jamnagar, it was about businessmen. In Chhota Udepur yesterday (Sunday), it was about tribals. Next, it could be farmers,” Barasiya added.Claiming that it is “setting the agenda of political discourse” in Gujarat, and that the BJP had been “forced to respond”, AAP is also taking the BJP head on over the “freebie culture” charge.Kejriwal’s Veraval rally included a skit where an AAP worker dressed like a train staffer and calling himself Kejriwal hawked “revdis”, which stood in for “free electricity, healthcare, bus rides for women and pilgrimage for senior citizens, and jobs”.The party has also taken on the BJP government over its own “freebies”, the latest being its announcement on August 3 of nearly 50% subsidy on double-filtered groundnut oil for Janmashtami and Diwali festivals, for those covered by the National Food Security Act. The move, costing the government Rs 124 crore, is expected to cover nearly half the Gujarat population of 6.5 crore.AAP national joint secretary Isudan Gadhvi said, “The state government has a debt of Rs 3.2 lakh crore, which means every child in Gujarat is born with a loan of Rs 53,000 on him or her. The BJP in its feeble attempt to copy AAP is trying to dig its own grave… The main question is whether groundnut farmers are getting their dues.”Gujarat is the largest producer of groundnuts and groundnut oil in the country. This year, groundnut oil prices have soared up to record Rs 2,650 per 15 kg on the back of a rise in commodity prices globally. Farmers too have benefited from this. But with the groundnut marketing season which begins in October and runs through May, long over, the government’s decision to give groundnut oil at subsidised rates now will benefit consumers rather than groundnut growers directly.Gujarat BJP media convener Yagnesh Dave argued that it was wrong to call the groundnut oil promise a “revdi”. “Under the Representation of the People Act, to offer allurement to people to get votes during election is against the Constitution. The BJP has achieved power, formed the government and, after that, it is offering (things or services) free… You form the government on your merit and then give (things for free), who is stopping you from doing that?”Speaking about the government’s free Covid vaccine programme, Dave added: “It is fine if you give people their rights after forming the government. But to get power, if you use revdi, then it is against the Representation of the People Act.”
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel on Tuesday inaugurated or performed ground-breaking ceremonies of over 5,600 projects worth Rs 1,600 crore at an event in Dahod on the occasion of International Day of the World's Indigenous People. While the main event to mark the occasion, also known as World Tribal Day, was held at Melaniya village of tribal-dominated Dahod district, other BJP ministers were present at programmes organised at 26 places with significant tribal population in Gujarat, said a state government release. In his address at Dahod, Patel said the BJP government in the state has increased the budget for tribal population 26 times over the last 20 years. The state government has spent nearly Rs 1,00,000 crore so far for providing employment, education, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure in tribal areas, the release said, quoting Patel. During the last 20 years, the state administration made the lives of tribal population easier by spending Rs 20,745 crore on various development works, said the CM.PTI