The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 23-06-2022 | 07:50 pm
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai set out on Thursday for his eleventh visit to New Delhi since taking over less than a year ago. The sudden, one-day visit following summons issued by the BJP leadership on Wednesday afternoon has given rise to fresh speculation of changes in the state Cabinet.While the official travel plan has meetings scheduled with Union ministers, Bommai himself did not comment on the purpose of the visit, unlike in the past. Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office indicated that the official purpose was that Bommai was to be among the proposers of NDA presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu. She is expected to file her nomination on Friday.Bommai was in Delhi most recently on June 17, where he attended a private event. Before that, he travelled to the Capital on May 20, after he was suddenly called to Delhi by the BJP leadership, trailed by rumours of changes in his government. At the time, Bommai had returned after just meeting Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh and speaking to Home Minister Amit Shah on the phone.The Karnataka CM has been awaiting clearance from the BJP leadership for changes in his Cabinet, including filling up of five vacancies, but has been kept waiting for the past year.Earlier, there was talk of the BJP going in for an entirely new Cabinet, including the CM – as done by it in Gujarat – but this has died out in recent weeks and the party seemed inclined to head to the 2023 state polls with Bommai as the CM.During his visit to Bengaluru and Mysuru on June 20 and 21, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made it a point to compliment Bommai. Industries minister Murugesh Nirani, considered at one time challenger to Bommai from the Lingayat community, said Thursday: “He (Bommai) is doing a good job and will continue as CM. The CM has full authority to carry out changes in Cabinet.”But while Bommai’s position as CM has seemingly stabilised, there is some concern in the BJP over other fronts, especially “failure” of leaders of the Vokkaliga community to take up issues, including attacks on the government and the PM by the JD(S), led by Vokkaliga leaders H D Deve Gowda and son H D Kumaraswamy.“None of the ministers and so-called Vokkaliga leaders in the Karnataka BJP have been able to rise to any stature in the community. They are seen as being involved in politics of understanding with Vokkaliga leaders like Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy for fear of personal political losses,” a leader said.One change being talked about is the BJP bringing in new blood to lead the government and party from the Vokkaliga community ahead of the 2023 polls. BJP state president Nalin Kateel’s tenure ends in August.In recent weeks, the BJP government has been on the backfoot, with the Congress and JD(S) attacking it over changes in school textbooks that are perceived as projecting state religious, cultural and social icons in a lesser light. The BJP response has been muted, with Bommai agreeing to some of the demands.On Thursday, the BJP fielded Revenue Minister R Ashok, a Vokkaliga, and other ministers to counter the charge regarding disrespect to Vokkaliga icons. Ashok claimed a committee constituted by the previous Congress regime had deleted portions linked to Vokkaliga icons like Kuvempu and Kempegowda.
GANDHINAGAR: Flagging off the Vande Gujarat Vikas Yatra showcasing the achievements of the government over the past 20 years, chief minister Bhupendra Patel said on Tuesday that development and trust have become synonyms in governance of the state over the past two decades. For a fortnight between July 5 and 19, 82 decorated trucks will pass through eight big cities and all 33 districts where about 2,500 events will be organized. The government will educate people about the welfare schemes that can be availed of, a CMO statement said. At the inaugural function at Sabarmati riverfront, CM Patel said that BJP governments over the past 20 years have delivered on the promises they have made to the people. “Vikas (development) and Vishwas (trust) have become synonyms in Gujarat. BJP governments have consistently pursued development in the state and the people have repeatedly shown their trust by voting BJP to power,” the CM stated. Ministers will visit different districts over the next fortnight and about 2,500 development works will either be inaugurated, or their foundation stones laid, the CM said at the meeting. The CM listed various successful projects implemented in the state over the past 20 years.
Ahmedabad: A man who has filed a petition in the Gujarat high court seeking the proper regulation of slaughterhouses in the state has pointed out to what he says is a discrepancy in the number of licences issued. He said the state government claims to have granted licences to 12 slaughterhouses. But, he said, the animal husbandry department’s documents reveal that 354 food and safety licences have been issued to slaughterhouses dealing with large and small animals and poultry. In his response to the department’s reply to his PIL, the petitioner, Dharmendra Fofani of Banaskantha district, has drawn the HC’s attention to the fact that the state government has 344 registered units, and three state licences and seven central licences have been issued to slaughterhouses under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act. The petitioner has said that the government’s affidavits — filed by the animal husbandry department and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board — are silent on the appointment of eminent persons for monitoring and managing slaughterhouses in districts. He said there is no word either on the non-formation of district-level committees as directed in January 2014 by the state-level committee. The state government had submitted that if any irregularity is pointed out by the petitioner, its departments will take prompt action for the proper regulation of slaughterhouses.In his PIL filed last year, Fofani had sought the HC’s directions to the government to close down slaughterhouses, meat shops, and hotels that are functioning in violation of the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and other related laws.
NEW DELHI: The Centre is facing an uneasy situation as three BJP-ruled states — Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh — have demanded the restoration of wheat allocation to them under the national food security scheme, NFSA. The demands have been made at a time when the Centre is struggling to somehow meet the mandatory stocking norms for wheat as on October 1 and March 2023. Following a record fall in wheat procurement, the Centre on May 14 had reduced wheat allocation under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) by nearly 40% for 10 states, including these three, to tide over any shortage while claiming that the decision was taken after “consultation with state governments”. For the Centre, yielding to the demands would be almost impossible as the total stock with the Food Corporation of India on October 1 is estimated to be barely 12 lakh tonnes more than what it requires to maintain as buffer stock. The surplus stock would be similar on April 1, 2023. While the MP government wrote to the food ministry last month seeking to restore its original wheat quota as it’s an important part of the state’s staple diet, food ministers from UP and Gujarat made similar demands on Tuesday at the food ministers summit chaired by Union minister Piyush Goyal. Gujarat minister Nareshbhai Patel said, “In areas like Saurashtra and north Gujarat, people prefer wheat to rice. We request the government to increase the wheat allocation.” His UP counterpart Satish Chandra Sharma said people in western UP are complaining against the increased allocation of rice. “It will be a great favour if the Centre can accept our demand to restore the allocation,” he said. Goyal, in his address, did not refer to these issues. Both the states have written to the Centre seeking change in wheat allocation. Office said while before May 14, each NFSA beneficiary in Gujarat was getting 3.5 kg wheat and 1.5 kg rice under the food security scheme, now they are 2kg wheat and 3kg rice. “We have requested that there should be 3kg wheat and 2kg rice. We expect the government will approve this,” said an official. Similarly, in UP, each beneficiary is currently getting 2kg wheat and 3kg rice while earlier the ratio was 3kg wheat and 2kg rice. The state has sought the Centre to follow the old norm. A food ministry official said there is hardly any room left for accommodating these demands. “When the states could not procure wheat, how can they expect us to allocate?” he asked.
More than 600 workers of the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) from Dahod, Narmada, Chhota Udepur and Vadodara districts joined the BJP Tuesday at Gandhinagar in the presence of Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil.Dahod, which saw over 400 workers from the Congress and a few from AAP and BTP, also had eight councillors from the Jhalod Municipality, including President Sonal Dindor from the Congress, jump over to the BJP.The others include Dala Vasaiya, Khuman Mansinh Damor, Parsinh Damor and independent councillors Bhavesh Katara, Sukhram Milwad, Zakir Kanuga and Shankar Katara, among others. Dindor and Vasaiya were among the Congress councillors who had, in August 2020, voted in favour of the BJP in the election to Jhalod Municipality’s Presidential post, thus causing a furore. Soon, as Jhalod BJP President Hiren Patel was killed in an alleged case of contract killing, Dindor and Vasaiya submitted a memorandum to the district police citing ” threat to life”.A senior BJP leader said, “The party has welcomed strong workers to the fold… This is not just in preparation for the upcoming Assembly polls but also because it allows the BJP to strengthen its ground in these tribal districts, especially Narmada, Dahod and Chhota Udepur, where the Congress has traditionally been on a strong foot. Although the 2021 local body polls were in favour of the BJP in the districts, it will bring a major impact in the Assembly elections to have these strong leaders into the fold.”Additionally, Dahod Taluka Congress president Suresh Baka-liya as well as former General Secr-etary of Youth Congress Nikunj Meda and Vice-President of Dahod district Congress Mitesh Yadav joined the BJP. Valsinh Munia, son of former Congress MLA Virji Munia, along with Sanjeli Sarpanch Mavji Rawat , Singwad taluka Congress member Dipak Parmar and Veena Bhuriya from Garbada also joined the BJP.AAP leader Dhavalsinh Bhuriya as well as BTP President of Dahod Ajay Katara along with leader Nilesh Bamaniya joined the BJP. Nazimuddin Gangardiwala of the Congress city unit also joined the BJP. He even replaced his skull cap with the new saffron topi of the party at the event. Another leader, Sabur Sultan Tadvi, also joined the BJP.In Chhota Udepur, district Congress President Umesh Shah, along with his brother and President of Chhota Udepur Traders’ association, Dipesh Shah, joined the BJP. Former Congress district president Yashpal Rathwa, also the director of APMC, also joined the BJP. From Vadodara, former MS University senate member and trader Bipin Patel, Hitendra Gohil, Sandeep Bhagat, Wasim Malik (Sarpanch of Kia), Indravadan Bhagat and Sudha Patel from Kandari joined the BJP.Membership songGujarat BJP Tuesday launched a song prepared for its membership enrolment drive. The Gujarati song hails the party and its current top leadership.
Pointing out that the two Vande Bharat trains launched in 2019 have travelled 14 lakh kilometres and “proven” themselves, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Tuesday said the Indian Railways will launch an upgraded second version of the semi-high-speed trains in August 2022.Interacting with media persons at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII) at Gandhinagar, the minister said, “The plan for Vande Bharat trains were given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 and the first two trains started operating in 2019. So far, both the trains have travelled 14 lakh kilometres… Last year, 75 more trains have been approved that are under production.”The Indian Railways operates Vande Bharat Express from New Delhi to Varanasi and from New Delhi to Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Katra.Adding that the second and third versions of Vande Bharat trains will use better technology, Vaishnaw said the Vande Bharat trains currently run at 160 kilometres per hour and the second version will touch 180 kilometres per hour and the third version of the train will travel at 220 kilometres per hour.“We will start the roll out of Vande Bharat-2 train or the second version of the trains in August 2022,” he said adding that five-six trains will be rolled out every month after the launch. “The second version of Vande Bharat will have air springs (between the coach and the wheels) and will improve the ride quality manifold,” Vaishnaw added.The minister said once the first batch of 75 Vande Bharat trains are launched, the Indian Railways will launch more. “Of the proposed 400 trains, about 250 will be the second version of Vande Bharat trains and then the third version will introduced,” he added.The Railway minister who was at EDII for an interaction on start-ups said Vande Bharat trains will be operated on new routes and in some places, it will replace existing trains. “Bullet train takes 55 seconds to reach from 0-100 kilometers per hour. A similar technology has been ised in these trains and it has been designed in India. It takes only 54 seconds to reach from.0-100 kms per hour. It has a good acceleration. Its shock absorbers are also very good,” he added.Bullet train projectTalking about the bullet train project, Vaishnaw said the project will pick up speed with a new government in Maharashtra. “The earlier government in Maharashtra was not in favour of this project. But now that people have changed the government, the progress will happen,” he added.“Good progress is being made in the bullet train project. So far, pillars on 70 kilometres of the route on Vapi-Ahmedabad section, have been built. The work on this section began first, as we got the land. Foundations for pillars have been laid on 160 kilometres in this section,” he said work on the 8-9 bridges and stations were also under way.“The first bullet train section from Surat to Billimora is targeted to become operation by 2026. The first bullet train section made by China was 113 kilometres between Beijing and Tianjing. Our section between Ahmedabad and Vapi is 352 kilometres,” he said.Station redevelopmentThe minister said a masterplan for developing 370 stations have been made and tenders for 45 stations have been issued. He said the learnings from the pilot projects for station redevelopment at Gandhinagar, Bhopal and Bengaluru have been incorporated into new redevelopment. Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Navsari, Rajkot, Vapi, Bharuch, Bilimora, Anand, Nadiad, Ankleshwar, Udhana, Gandhidham, Palanpur, Jamnagar and New Bhuj will be the 16 stations that will be redeveloped in Gujarat. Apart from this, a new station building has been constructed at Vadnagar station and Chhayapuri is being developed as a new satellite station near Vadodara.The railway minister also said that tenders for installing ingenious anti-collision device “Kavach” have been issued for 3,000 kilometres of railway tracks.