The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 19-03-2023 | 01:45 pm
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will take part in a massive rally organised by the party Monday in Belagavi of poll-bound Karnataka. Around two lakh people are expected to participate in the ‘Yua Kranti Rally’, according to Congress leaders.This is the first rally in which Gandhi will participate in Karnataka, even as the ruling BJP has already deployed its star campaigners such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah in the state ahead of the Assembly elections.During the rally, Gandhi is expected to announce Congress’s guarantee for youth if the Congress party is elected to power in the state. The party has already made three guarantees, which include 200 units of free electricity to all households in the state under Gruha Jyothi, Gruha Lakshmi scheme of Rs 2,000 per women head of the family, and 10 kg rice per month to families falling under the poverty line or Anna Bhagya.According to sources, the fourth promise of Congress in the state will be an allowance for unemployed youth. The party is likely to make as many as five guarantees as part of its election manifesto in the state.Gandhi had last visited the state in October last year during the course of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.Earlier this year, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi had visited the state to announce the Gruha Lakshmi initiative of the party.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said the CBI was “putting pressure” on him to “frame” Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an alleged fake encounter case in Gujarat when he was being questioned by the probe agency during the Congress-led UPA government.Shah said this at the ‘News 18 Rising India’ programme in New Delhi in response to a question on Opposition’s charge that the Narendra Modi government is “misusing’ central agencies to target them.The CBI “was putting pressure” on me to “frame Modi ji” (when he was Gujarat CM) in an alleged fake encounter case during the Congress government,” he said, adding that the BJP never raised a ruckus despite this.On Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a criminal defamation case by a court in Surat, the home minister said the Congress leader was not the only politician who was convicted by a court and lost membership of the legislature.Instead of moving to a higher court, Rahul has been trying to create hue and cry and blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his fate, he said.Shah said Rahul Gandhi should go to a higher court to fight his case, instead of trying to put the blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.He said the Congress is spreading misconception; conviction can’t be stayed. “The sentence can be stayed if the court decides,” he said.“He has not appealed to take stay on his conviction. What kind of arrogance is this? You want a favour. You want to continue to be MP and will also not go before the Court,” Shah said.Where does such arrogance gets generated, he said.Shah said 17 prominent leaders, including Lalu Prasad, J Jayalalitha and Raashid Alvi, had lost their membership because of a 2013 Supreme Court order during the UPA government, which said an elected representative would lose his seat immediately after conviction. Still, no one protested wearing black clothes because it is the “law of the land”, he said.“Listen to the full speech of Rahul Gandhi, he has not only spoken abusive words for Modi ji. He has spoken abusive words for the entire Modi community and OBC society,” he said.“The law of the land is clear. There is no question of vendetta politics. It is the judgment of the Supreme Court of India, which had come during their government,” Shah said.Asked about the notice to vacate his bungalow, Shah asked why should there be “special favour” when the Supreme Court had said to act as soon as the conviction comes into effect.“It was a deliberate statement by Rahul Gandhi. If Rahul Gandhi did not want to apologise, then he should not have applied for bail. Let him not apologise,” Shah said.“This gentleman is not the first one. Politicians who held much bigger positions and with much more experience have lost their membership because of this provision,” the Home minister said.He said India’s democracy wasn’t threatened when Lalu ji was disqualified but it is endangered only when a person from the Gandhi family is disqualified.“Now it has come on him, so they are saying make a separate law for the Gandhi family. I want to ask the people of this country whether there should be a separate law for a single family. What kind of mentality is this? Whatever happens, they start blaming Modi ji and the Lok Sabha Speaker,” Shah said.He said senior lawyers who are Congress MPs in Rajya Sabha should tell their colleagues that Lok Sabha Speaker has no role in the disqualification.“It is the law of the country that all his speeches in Parliament would have to be erased from the records from the moment of his conviction. Even if his disqualification notice were served a few days later, it would have no purpose,” he said.Shah said BJP did not want changes in the Supreme Court order. The Manmohan Singh government brought an Ordinance to blunt the apex court order, but Rahul Gandhi tore it apart, calling it “nonsense”.“Once he tore it apart, who in his government would have dared to turn it into law? It was vetoed. Had that ordinance become a law, he could have been saved,” Shah said.Asked about Rahul’s comment on Savarkar, the Home Minister said Veer Savarkar was the only freedom fighter who was sentenced to two life terms in Andaman prison. “Such language for such a freedom fighter should not have been used,” he said.He (Rahul) should read his grandmother’s speech on Veer Savarkar. His own party people are advising him to not speak against Savarkar, he said.In the general election of 2024, Shah said Modi would again be PM with a larger majority. BJP will get more seats in the 2024 elections than 2019 elections, he said, adding that there is no unity among the opposition, he said.On the upcoming Karnataka elections, Shah said BJP would comfortably cross the halfway mark and form a government with a clear majority in the state.Ruling out any alliance in Karnataka, Shah said, “The BJP will definitely cross the halfway mark and form the government with an absolute majority in Karnataka. We will win record mandate.” Referring to recent Karnataka government’s decision to end quota on the basis of religion, he said reservation based on religion is unconstitutional.“Karnataka’s Congress government did it due to polarisation, and we have just rectified it. It should have done earlier,” he said.The Home minister rejected the allegations on the misuse of investigative agencies against the opposition leaders. Shah said we never blamed the opposition for anything, innocent police officers were put behind bars during Congress government.Shah said the BJP had won the 2014 and 2019 elections on the plank of anti-corruption. He said Enforcement Directorate had seized 1.10 lakh crore of assets, of which not even five per cent are of political leaders.“Shall we stop the fight against corruption? Should we not act if the accused is a politician,” Shah asked. The Home minister asked who had filed cases against Lalu Prasad Yadav and who had sent a plane full of officials from Delhi to arrest Shaikh Abdullah.Citing the misuse of agencies, Shah said thousands of innocent persons were imprisoned for 19 months of Emergency and questioned whose doing it was. It was his grandmother Indira Gandhi, he said.On the Maharashtra question, Shah said people wanted Shiv Sena and BJP government and now the real Shiv Sena is with BJP. “I also accept that BJP on its own could have formed the government in Maharashtra. There is no question of the merger of Shiv Sena,” he said.He said the Congress should introspect about its contribution to corruption. There is a strong resentment against Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. We will definitely win elections in Madhya Pradesh, he said.Shah said we have not taken any decision on the face in Rajasthan elections. People want to change the CM of Rajasthan, he said.On Amritpal Singh, Shah said he meets Punjab Chief Minister every three months, irrespective of the government and stand with the party when it comes to the security of the country.“Many people have been arrested in connection with Amritpal case, police and intelligence agencies are working on the case,” he said.On attacks on Indian missions abroad, Shah said it was an attack on India. “We will take action against those involved in the attack, FIR already lodged in Delhi,” he said. Shah said the contribution of Sikhs to India’s freedom has been immense; every Sikh wants to be with India.The Home minister ruled out any confrontation between the judiciary and the government. “Both are working within their limits,” he said. The government’s duty to make law now and the Parliament will think over it, he said
Google’s video platform YouTube has told the Congress that it is looking into a claim made by party leader Rahul Gandhi that views on his videos on industrialist Gautam Adani are much lower than his other videos with similar user engagement, it is learnt.The Congress had written to YouTube earlier this month suggesting that it suspects viewership of Rahul’s two videos on Adani were suppressed.The issue was flagged by Sam Pitroda, head of the Indian Overseas Congress, in a letter to YouTube CEO Neal Mohan on March 11.“Mr Gandhi has raised the issue of cronyism of the ruling government with one industrialist, Mr Gautam Adani, through speeches in India’s Parliament and specific videos released exclusively on his YouTube channel. His team has found that the views on these videos are much lower than what they normally are for other videos of Mr Gandhi for similar user engagement,” he had stated.Pitroda had argued that Rahul’s social media team find “this a bit bizarre and are searching for an explanation. They have used YouTube’s own data and analytics to show that viewership of videos of Mr Adani are being suppressed, perhaps unwittingly or algorithmically.”To back his claim, Pitroda also forwarded a presentation made by the party’s data analytics department, comparing viewership data of the video on Adani and Rahul’s other videos from the Bharat Jodo Yatra and recent speeches in Parliament and at Cambridge University.Mohan, sources said, has replied to Pitroda saying that a “team is taking a look” at the Congress’s claim. Sources said Pitroda and Congress data analytics department head Praveen Chakravarty have had discussions with YouTube’s top executives over the issue.In the presentation, the Congress had claimed that one Bharat Jodo Yatra video has less positive interactions than the first video on Adani but has five-times more views. The container video from Yatra, it said, has 83,602 positive interactions, whereas the first video on Adani — titled ‘Mitr Kaal episode 1’ — had 99,197 interactions.But the ‘Mitr Kaal’ video got only 4.78 lakh views, compared to 20 lakh-plus views of the container video.Similarly, the party had claimed that the second video on Adani “has double the interactions of Cambridge video but similar number of views.” While the Cambridge video had 28,360 positive interactions, ‘Mitr Kaal episode-2’ had 49,053 positive interactions. Both videos had 2 lakh-plus views.“Our estimate is that Adani video, too, should have had 8 lakh views based on interactions metrics, but only has 2.6 lakh views,” the Congress said in its presentation.Arguing that there was a “clear case of algorithmic suppression”, the party said in the presentation that most people watch videos through the YouTube Browse feature, where the YouTube homepage shows videos and suggested videos.The party said the browse feature in Rahul Gandhi’s channel was down since February 9. “YouTube algorithm has suppressed the browse feature for Rahul Gandhi’s videos,” it said.
Reacting to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Parliament, Germany said Thursday that it has taken note of the case and “expects that the standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will apply”.The German Foreign Ministry spokesperson made the statement during a press briefing that was aired on German state-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW).“We have taken note of the verdict of the first instance against the Indian opposition politician Rahul Gandhi as well as the suspension of his parliamentary mandate. To our knowledge, Rahul Gandhi is in a position to appeal the verdict. An appeal will show whether the verdict stands and whether suspension has a basis. We expect standards of judicial independence and democratic principles to be applied,” the spokesperson said.NEW: Rahul Gandhi caseGerman Foreign Ministry spokesperson comments for first time:– Takes note of verdict, suspension from parliament– Appeal will show whether verdict stands & suspension has basis– Expects standards of judicial independence & democratic principles to apply pic.twitter.com/dNZB6vflG2— Richard Walker (@rbsw) March 29, 2023Veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh took to Twitter to recognise Germany’s statement. “Thank you Germany Foreign Affairs Ministry and Richard Walker for taking note of how the Democracy is being compromised in India through persecution of Rahul Gandhi,” he wrote.BJP leaders, meanwhile, criticised Congress and Singh, accusing the party of inviting foreign interference in internal affairs.Sharing a screenshot of Digivijaya Singh’s tweet, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India’s internal matters.” “Remember, Indian Judiciary can’t be influenced by foreign interference. India won’t tolerate ‘foreign influence’ anymore because our Prime Minister is:- Shri @narendramodi Ji,” Rijiju said.Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India’s internal matters. Remember, Indian Judiciary can’t be influenced by foreign interference. India won’t tolerate ‘foreign influence’ anymore because our Prime Minister is:- Shri @narendramodi Ji 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/xHzGRzOYTz— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) March 30, 2023Hitting back at Rijiju, Congress’ media department head Pawan Khera said, “Mr. Rijiju, why divert from the main issue? The issue is that the Prime Minister cannot answer Rahul Gandhi’s questions about Adani.” Instead of “misleading” people, please answer the questions, Khera said.BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya also tagged Singh’s tweet and said, “Shameful that Congress continues to lean on foreign agencies and seek their intervention in India’s internal affairs.” “Rahul Gandhi had recently sought Europe and US intervention and now it is Digvijay Singh. But Law is the Law… Unless somebody thinks Law is not the Law for them,” he said.Let this be on record. For the first time in Independent India’s history, Congress leaders are pleading foreign powers to intervene in India’s democratic process and weigh in on our judicial decisions… It is a brazen attempt to undermine people’s will and India’s sovereignty… pic.twitter.com/4FDlsOrgkh— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) March 30, 2023BJP spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill also hit out at the Congress, alleging that the party “celebrating Germany/US remarks on Rahul Gandhi’s case shows their political desperation”. “Rejected by Indian voters now looking for acceptance by foreign powers is sad reality of Congress! Judiciary must take note of daily maligning of courts by Congress brigade!” he said.Congress celebrating Germany/U.S. remarks on Rahul Gandhi’s case shows their political desperation!Rejected by Indian voters now looking for acceptance by foreign powers is sad reality of Congress!Judiciary must take note of daily maligning of courts by Congress brigade!— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) March 30, 2023Tagging Singh’s tweet, BJP leader Vijay Chauthaiwale said on Twitter, “Look how happy @digvijaya_28 ji with comments from Germany. It only shows how they are desperate to involve external agencies in the domestic matters.”On March 23, Gandhi had been found guilty in a 2019 defamation case filed after his remark “why all thieves have Modi surname”, made at a campaign rally in Kolar, Karnataka. A Gujarat court had sentenced him to two years in prison. Gandhi is currently on bail.Following his conviction, he was disqualified from the Parliament, where he was an elected MP from Kerala’s Wayanad district. He was also issued a notice to vacate his official bungalow in New Delhi.First Washington, now BerlinGermany’s response comes days after the United States took a similar stance, saying that respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy.In a press briefing, US State Department’s Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel had said that the US is watching Gandhi’s case in the courts.“Respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, and we’re watching Mr. Gandhi’s case in Indian courts, and we engage with the Government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values – including, of course, freedom of expression,” Patel said.“In our engagements with our Indian partners, we continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles and the protection of human rights, including freedom of expression, as a key to strengthening both our democracies,” he added.Following this, Patel was asked if the US is still engaging with Gandhi as the opposition leader. “It is normal and standard for us to engage with members of opposition parties in any country where we have bilateral relationships,” replied Patel.
The Election Commission, while announcing dates for bypolls in four Assembly constituencies and one Parliamentary constituency, gave the Wayanad seat a miss. The Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from Parliament on March 24, a day after he was convicted in a defamation case over his remarks on the ‘Modi’ surname.Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, while addressing a press conference, said, “There is a six months time period after occurrence of vacancy (to announce polls) and the trial court has given 30 days time for remedy. There is no hurry.”While pronouncing Gandhi guilty under Indian Penal Code Sections 499 and 500, the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Varma had granted the Congress leader bail and suspended the sentence for 30 days to allow him to appeal in a higher court. Subsequently, Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha.Section 151A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, states that “bye-election for filling any vacancy referred to in any of the said sections shall be held within a period of six months from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy.”Kumar added that the law also states that if the remainder of the term was less than one year, then the election will not be held. However, for Wayanad, the term is over an year, he said.The Election Commission announced May 10 as the date of polling for Karnataka Assembly elections, and bypolls in Parliamentary constituency of Jalandhar (Punjab) and Assembly constituencies of Jharsuguda (Odisha), Chhanbey (Uttar Pradesh), Suar (UP), and Sohiong (Meghalaya). The counting of votes will take place on May 13.
The Shiv Sena (UBT), which had warned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against “insulting” Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar, said on Wednesday that the issue has been resolved and they were “firmly united” with the Opposition parties in their fight against the BJP and the Narendra Modi government.“The issue has ended for us…The matter has been resolved,” MP Sanjay Raut, Uddhav Thackeray’s close confidant, told The Indian Express. “I have spoken to Rahul Gandhi about the issue,” he added.“We had raised our concerns on Savarkar two days back. We did not attend the meeting at Mallikarjun Kharge’s house. But there is and will be Opposition unity in Maharashtra as well as the country. We have got the results of the concerns we have expressed. We will attend the Opposition meeting today [Wednesday] and also participate in the protest in Parliament,” Raut said on Wednesday morning.In his speech in Malegaon on Sunday, Uddhav Thackeray had warned Rahul Gandhi that the Sena (UBT) would not tolerate any insult to Savarkar. “Savarkar is our deity…we will not tolerate any insult to him,” Thackeray had said.Asked whether Gandhi had promised not to raise the Savarkar issue again, Raut said, “We do not want to speak about it anymore. As I have said, the matter has been resolved.”When asked what the party’s stand would be if Gandhi raises the issue again, Raut said, “If Rahul Gandhi raises the issue again, we will see what to do… But we are confident he will not raise the issue.”Raut said the Shiv Sena (UBT) will be attending the meetings convened by the Opposition or the Congress. The Sena had on Monday night skipped a meeting convened by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge. “We are firmly united with the Opposition to save democracy and dislodge the BJP from power,” Raut said.On Tuesday, Congress communication head Jairam Ramesh said 19 parties were saying in one voice that democracy was in danger and “we have to unitedly face and fight the dictatorial government”. The Shiv Sena (UBT), he said, was one of the 19 parties.“There were 18 parties last night. Today, I have said 19. The number will go up from 18 to 19 when Shiv Sena is part of the group,” Ramesh said at a press conference in Delhi on Tuesday. To this, Raut said, “We are with the Congress and the Opposition…We will be attending all their meetings.”