Maharashtra Election News

AICC plenary in Raipur from Feb 24-26; Cong says CWC election according to party constitution
The Indian Express | 4 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
4 weeks ago | |

The Congress will hold a three-day plenary session of the AICC from February 24 to 26 and all eyes are on whether the party will hold elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) after a gap of two-and-half decades.Announcing the dates for the plenary — which will ratify the election of Mallikarjun Kharge as Congress president — AICC general secretary in-charge of organisation K C Venugopal signalled that elections to the CWC will be held according to the party constitution.Sources said an election will take place if there is a demand from the AICC delegates. “If the delegates ask..there will be election. Otherwise, the CWC would be nominated by the Congress president,” a senior leader said.According to the Congress constitution, the CWC shall consist of the president of the party, its leader in Parliament, and 23 other members, of whom 12 will be elected by the All India Congress Committee (AICC, the party’s central decision-making assembly), and the rest shall be appointed by the party president.But genuine elections to the CWC have been held only twice in the party’s recent history and on both occasions, a person outside the Nehru-Gandhi family was at the helm.In 1992, at the AICC’s plenary session in Tirupati, then Congress president P V Narasimha Rao held elections to the CWC. Elections to the CWC were held again in 1997 under Sitaram Kesri at the Calcutta plenary.After Sonia Gandhi became Congress president in 1998, the members of the CWC were always nominated, which many in the party believe promoted a culture of patronage. One of the main demands of the now defunct G23 ginger group in the party was holding of genuine elections to the CWC.Venugopal said the plenary session will deliberate on six issues — the political and economic situation, international affairs, farmers and agriculture, social justice and empowerment and youth, education and employment — during the three-day session. The party will soon announce separate committees to deliberate and draw up the draft resolutions on the six topics.

AICC plenary in Raipur from Feb 24-26; Cong says CWC election according to party constitution
UPSC Essentials | Key terms of the past week with MCQsPremium Story
The Indian Express | 4 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
4 weeks ago | |

(The UPSC Essentials Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest updates.Subscribe to The Indian Express UPSC Key and  prepare for the Civil Services and other competitive examinations with cues on how to read and understand content from the most authoritative news source in India.Note:Catch the UPSC Weekly Quiz every Saturday evening and brush up on your current affairs knowledge.)Essential key terms from the last week’s news headlines or between the lines categorised as per the relevance to the UPSC-CSE syllabus along with the MCQs followed.Why in news?— Experts and conservationists have raised concerns over the proposed location for a mega oil refinery in Barsu village of Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district. They claim that the refinery might damage prehistoric geoglyphs found in the area.— The sites are protected by the state archaeology department and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). In April, these sites in the Konkan region were added to a tentative list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. While the UNESCO listing dates these sites to be over 12,000 years old, some experts have claimed that these sites might go as far back as 20,000 years, and that this can be ascertained through carbon and geological dating.— The Barsu-Solgaon site was proposed after the original plan to construct a refinery in Nanar village of the district was dropped in 2019.KEY TAKEAWAYSOmkar Gokhale writes:What are geoglyphs?— Geoglyphs are a form of prehistoric rock art, created on the surface of laterite plateaus (Sada in Marathi). They are made by removing a part of the rock surface through an incision, picking, carving or abrading. They can be in the form of rock paintings, etchings, cup marks and ring marks.— The UNESCO listing mentions “Konkan geoglyphs.” However, elsewhere, the term petroglyph (literally, “rock symbol/character”) is also used. As per the UNESCO listing, petroglyphs and geoglyphs share similarities as both require the skills of removing parts or engraving a symbol on the rock surface.What is the significance of Ratnagiri’s prehistoric rock art?— Clusters of geoglyphs are spread across the Konkan coastline in Maharashtra and Goa, spanning around 900 km. Porous laterite rock, which lends itself to such carving, is found on a large scale across the entire region.— Ratnagiri district has more than 1,500 pieces of such art, also called “Katal shilpa,” spread across 70 sites. UNESCO’s tentative world heritage list mentions seven sites with petroglyphs in Ratnagiri district — Ukshi, Jambharun, Kasheli, Rundhe Tali, Devihsol, Barsu and Devache Gothane, one in Sindhudurg district –Kudopi village, and nine sites at Phansamal in Goa.— According to UNESCO, “rock art in India is one of oldest material evidence of the country’s early human creativity.” Ratnagiri’s rock art is evidence of the continued existence of human settlements from the Mesolithic (middle stone age) to the early historic era. The geoglyphs also show the existence of certain types of fauna that are no longer present in the region today.— Ratnagiri’s prehistoric sites are among three Indian attractions that may soon become World Heritage Sites. The other two include Jingkieng Jri, the living root bridge in Meghalaya, and Sri Veerabhadra Temple in Andhra Pradesh’s Lepakshi.What does the imagery in these sites tell us?— UNESCO’s World Heritage Site listing says that imagery from these sites shows how people “adapted to ephemeral wetlands in a dry-arid plateau having shallow rock pools, streams and watercourses”. Experts say that the discovery of geoglyphs has added to ongoing research on human resilience and adaptation to extreme fluctuations in climates.— The geoglyph clusters also are examples of advanced artistic skills, showing the evolution of techniques of etching and scooping in rock art.— The figures depicted in the geoglyphs include humans and animals such as deer, elephant, tiger, monkey, wild boar, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, cattle, pig, rabbit, and monkey. Moreover, they also include a high number of reptilian and amphibian creatures such as tortoises and alligators, aquatic animals such as sharks and sting rays, and birds like peacocks.— Some clusters have one or two standalone figures of larger-than-life scale, while others show multiple figures gathered together, seemingly for a purpose.— The largest rock engraving or geoglyph in India is at Kasheli in the Ratnagiri district, which has a large figure of an elephant with dimensions of 18X13 metres.“The iconography, content, scale and composition record faunal, especially marine and large mammals that have become extinct in the Indian subcontinent over 30,000 years,” the UNESCO listing states.Why have experts raised red flags over the refinery project site at Barsu- Solgaon?— The committee of experts appointed by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology visited Ratnagiri last month to assess the funds required for the conservation of geoglyphs. Senior archaeologist Professor Vasant Shinde, who headed the team said that more than 250 geoglyphs have been identified in the area where the petrochemical refinery will be built. He said that if the project starts at the presently proposed site in Barsu, the rock carvings will get destroyed due to construction and chemical reaction at the site. “A refinery project can be set up elsewhere in Konkan beyond 5-6 km of the petroglyphs,” Shinde said.(Source: Ratnagiri’s pre-historic rock art: Why a proposed oil refinery has experts worried? by Omkar Gokhale)Point to ponder: What is Mandala in art?1. MCQ:Consider the following historical places (2013):1. Ajanta Caves2. Lepakshi Temple3. Sanchi StupaWhich of the above places is/are known for mural paintings?(a) 1 only(b) 1 and 2 only(c) 1, 2 and 3(d) NoneWhy in news?— The Election Commission of India said that it has begun the process of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in Assam. The process will be based on Census data from 2001. The last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was done in 1976 on the basis of the 1971 Census.KEY TAKEAWAYS— Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population. The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.— For instance, in 1971, Assam’s population was 1.46 crore. In 2001, it increased to 2.66 crores. Further, the population does not grow uniformly across all areas of a state. Hence, delimitation of constituencies is periodically carried out to reflect not only an increase in population but changes in its distribution.Who carries out delimitation?— Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission, appointed by the Government of India under provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act. The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India. It is composed of the following: a retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Election Commissioner of India and respective State Election Commissioners.— The Delimitation Commission is to work without any executive influence. The Constitution mandates that the Commission’s orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as it would hold up an election indefinitely.How is delimitation supposed to be carried out?— Under Article 82, Parliament is to enact a Delimitation Act after every Census. Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up the Delimitation Commission.— The Commission is supposed to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same. The Commission is also tasked with identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.— The draft proposals of the Delimitation Commission are published for public feedback. The Commission also holds public sittings. After hearing the public, it considers objections and suggestions, and carries out changes, if any, in the draft proposal. The final order is published in the Gazette of India and the State Gazette concerned and comes into force on a date specified by the President.How have previous delimitation exercises actually worked?— In the history of the Indian republic, Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002. There was no delimitation after the 1981, 1991 and 2001 Censuses.— However, the 2002 Act did not make any changes in total Lok Sabha seats or their apportionment between various states. It also left out a few states including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur from the exercise due to “security risks.” The central government reconstituted the Delimitation Commission for these four states as well as the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on 6 March 2020.Why have we not seen delimitation exercises after each census?— The last delimitation exercise that changed the state-wise composition of the Lok Sabha was completed in 1976 and done on the basis of the 1971 census (more than half a century ago at this point). The reason for not having more frequent delimitation processes is an unintended consequence of how the Constitution envisioned constituencies to be delimited.— The Constitution mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as practicable, the same for all states. However, this provision meant that states that took little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in the Parliament.— The fear of losing meaningful political representation was especially great in the southern states which not only had had greater success in controlling populations but also economically developed such that they generated a lot more per capita revenue than the northern states. Delimitation on the basis of population would disenfranchise them politically while the central government would continue to benefit from these states’ economic contributions to the country.— To allay these fears, the Constitution was amended during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001. Another amendment postponed this until 2026. It was hoped that the country would achieve a uniform population growth rate by this time.(Source: Election Commission begins ‘delimitation’ in Assam: What this exercise is, why it is important? )Point to ponder: How proposals of delimitation commission in J&K and the north east ensure greater fairness and balance?2. MCQ:Which of the following statements are not true with reference to the process of Delimitation ?(a) Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission appointed by the Election Commission of India.(b) The draft proposals of the Delimitation Commission are published for public feedback.(c) Under Article 82, Parliament is to enact a Delimitation Act after every Census.(d) In the history of the Indian republic, Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times.Why in news?— While discussions within the Election Commission (EC) to enable remote voting by migrants are not new, the poll body has this week come out with a plan to test its latest proposal to help domestic migrants cast their ballots for their home constituencies, from polling stations in the cities they work in.— The EC spelled out its plan in a letter to political parties on December 28, asking them to attend a demonstration of the prototype Remote Voting Machine (RVM) on January 16, 2023 and send in their comments by January 31, 2023.KEY TAKEAWAYSDamini Nath writes:Why the need for remote voting?— Though voter turnout has increased over the years since the first few general elections after Independence when it hovered around 50%, the last three Lok Sabha polls have seen an average of one-third of registered voters sit out the elections. In its letter to parties, the EC expressed concern over the stagnation in voter turnout. In 2019, 67.40% of the 91.20 crore registered electors voted, slightly higher than 66.44% in 2014. In 2009, the turnout was 58.21%.— The EC letter said it was concerned that about 30 crore electors were not exercising their franchise, as well as about the differential voter turnout in different states and UTs.— One of the reasons, according to the EC, was internal migration that took electors away from their home constituencies. Electors can have their names added to the electoral rolls of the constituency they ordinarily reside in, but many chose to retain the Voter ID from their home constituencies for various reasons. Hearing a petition on the alleged denial of voting opportunities to migrants, the Supreme Court had in 2015 directed the EC to explore options for remote voting.— The EC had formed a committee of officers to come up with solutions for remote voting in 2016, however, there were several unanswered questions. The term domestic migrant was not defined and counted in a central database. The EC letter pointed out that the Registrar General of India, the Union Labour and Employment Ministry and the National Sample Survey Organisation had different meanings of “migrant”. The 2011 Census says 45.36 crore Indians or 37% of the population are “migrants” and 75% of these migrants moved due to marriage or other family-related reasons.— While the committee had considered options of internet voting, proxy voting, early voting and postal ballots for migrants, it did not eventually end up recommending these. The committee recommended the creation of a robust electoral roll. Now, the EC has come up with a technological solution to the problem.What is the current proposal for remote voting?— Working with the Electronics Corporation of India, a company under the Department of Atomic Energy, the EC has come up with a prototype Remote Voting Machine (RVM), which is a modified version of the existing Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).— The RVM will be able to handle 72 constituencies in a single remote polling booth. The special remote polling booths would be set up in different states when elections are on in the home state of migrants. The EC proposed using this in a State Assembly election as a pilot so internal migrants within a state can cast their ballots.— The remote voter will have to pre-register for the facility by applying online or offline with the Returning Officer of the home constituency. The special polling stations would then be set up in the places of current residence of the remote voters. The RVM is a standalone and non-networked system, the EC said in its concept note. Instead of a paper ballot sheet, the RVM would have a dynamic ballot display that can change with the selection of different constituencies.— The system would have a device similar to the VVPAT so voters can verify their votes. The units will save the number of votes for each candidate for each of the constituencies, to be tallied on counting day. The results would then be shared with the home RO.How will the EC keep the process secure?— According to the EC, the RVM, like the EVM, would not be connected to the internet. The RO in the remote location will load the symbols of candidates into the unit using a laptop. These laptops, an EC source said, would not be connected to the internet. Representatives of political parties and candidates would be invited to be present when the symbols are loaded onto the unit. The symbols would be visible on a display unit for all to see.(Source: Remote voting for migrants proposal: What are RVMs, how they will work by Damini Nath )Point to ponder: Will the Election Commission’s strategy to name and shame voters help?3. MCQ:Consider the following statements (2017):1. The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.2. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.3. Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognised political parties.Which of the statements given above is/are correct?(a) 1 and 2 only(b) 2 only(c) 2 and 3 only(d) 3 onlyWhy in news?— South Korea on Monday reported its first case of infection from Naegleria fowleri or “brain-eating amoeba”, according to The Korea Times. The authorities said a 50-year-old Korean national, who had recently returned from Thailand, died 10 days after showing symptoms of the rare yet fatal infection.KEY TAKEAWAYSAlind Chauhan writes:What is Naegleria fowleri?— Naegleria is an amoeba, a single-celled organism, and only one of its species, called Naegleria fowleri, can infect  humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was first discovered in Australia in 1965 and is commonly found in warm freshwater bodies, such as hot springs, rivers and lakes.How does it infect humans?— The amoeba enters the human body through the nose and then travels up to the brain. This can usually happen when someone goes for a swim, or dive or even when they dip their head in a freshwater body. In some cases, it was found that people got infected when they cleaned their nostrils with contaminated water. Scientists haven’t found any evidence of the spreading of Naegleria fowleri through water vapour or aerosol droplets.— Once Naegleria fowleri goes to the brain, it destroys brain tissues and causes a dangerous infection known as primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), according to the CDC.What are the symptoms of PAM?— The CDC says the first signs of PAM start showing within one to 12 days after the infection. In the initial stages, they might be similar to symptoms of meningitis, which are headache, nausea and fever. In the later stages, one can suffer from a stiff neck, seizures, hallucinations, and even coma. The US public health agency also observed that the infection spreads rapidly and on average causes death within about five days.— The fatality of PAM is as such that only four people have survived out of 154 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2021, the CDC mentions.What is the treatment for the infection?— As the Naegleria fowleri infection is rare and progresses quickly, scientists haven’t been able to identify any effective treatments yet. At present, doctors treat it with a combination of drugs, including amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone.Can climate change increase the spread of the infection?— According to the CDC, with the rising global temperatures, the chances of getting Naegleria fowleri infection will go up as the amoeba mainly thrives in warm freshwater bodies. The organism best grows in high temperatures up to 46°C and sometimes can survive at even higher temperatures.— Various recent studies have found that excess atmospheric carbon dioxide has led to an increase in the temperature of lakes and rivers.— “These conditions provide a more favourable environment for the amoeba to grow. Heat waves, when air and water temperatures may be higher than usual, may also allow the amoeba to thrive,” the CDC website says. It also adds that initially the infections in the US were mostly reported in southern states, however, in recent years, they have been seen in northern states too.— So far, Naegleria fowleri has been found in all continents and declared as the cause of PAM in over 16 countries, including India.(Source: ‘Brain-eating amoeba’ kills South Korean man: What is the infection by Alind Chauhan )Point to ponder: Climate change amplifying health impacts of multiple crises. Discuss.4. MCQ:Which of the following diseases can be transmitted from one person to another through tattooing? (2013)1. Chikungunya2. Hepatitis B3. HIV-AIDSSelect the correct answer using the codes given below.(a) 1 only(b) 2 and 3 only(c) 1 and 3 only(d) 1, 2 and 3Why in news?— An intense blizzard (or snowstorm) is wreaking havoc across the United States and Canada, with more than 30 people confirmed dead in the US as of Monday, December 26. Four people died in Canada after a road accident on an icy path.KEY TAKEAWAYSWhat is happening with the blizzard?— According to an AP report, the scope of the storm has been nearly “unprecedented”, stretching from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the border with Mexico. About 60% of the US population faced some sort of winter weather advisory or warning, and temperatures plummeted drastically below normal in major areas of the country, the National Weather Service said.What is a “bomb cyclone”?— Forecasters have termed the blizzard as different from the usual weather events and called it a “bomb cyclone.” While this kind of storm is not exceedingly rare, this one is very strong, with high winds that are bringing heavy snow or rain to many areas.— Storms form when a mass of low-pressure air meets a high-pressure mass. The air flows from high pressure to low, creating winds.— What defines a bomb cyclone is how rapidly the pressure drops in the low-pressure mass — by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. This quickly increases the pressure difference, or gradient, between the two air masses, therefore making the winds stronger. This process of rapid intensification has an even more ferocious-sounding name: bombogenesis.— John Moore, a meteorologist and spokesperson for the National Weather Service, explained in an article in The New York Times that as the area where the two air masses meet moves northward and eastward, conditions for bombogenesis should continue moving as well.(Source: Unprecedented ‘bomb cyclone’ in US, Canada: What is happening, and why? )Point to ponder: How and why are cyclones named?5. MCQ: With reference to the Bomb Cyclone, consider the following statements:1. What defines a bomb cyclone is how rapidly the pressure rises in the low-pressure mass.2. This quickly decreases the pressure difference, or gradient, between the two air masses, therefore making the winds stronger. Which of the above statements are incorrect?(a) Only 1(b) Only 2(c) Both 1 and 2(d) Neither 1 nor 2Share your views, answers and suggestions in the comment box or at manas.srivastava@indianexpress.com

UPSC Essentials | Key terms of the past week with MCQsPremium Story
Nine state stops on road to Lok Sabha 2024Premium Story
The Indian Express | 4 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
4 weeks ago | |

With a mix of fear and hope, India came out of the long shadow of Covid in 2022 and life and politics — the latter more turbulent and fractious than at any time in recent history — started to return to normal. 2022 saw ideological divisions worsen, social and communal cleavages deepen, and the political chasm between the BJP and the opposition widen.The BJP maintained its electoral dominance, winning five of the seven state elections including Uttar Pradesh, but the defeat in Himachal Pradesh at the end of the year came as a reality check. Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to occupy the political centrestage, and his popularity, at least electorally, remained more or less intact.The Congress finally addressed its leadership question by choosing Mallikarjun Kharge. Former president Rahul Gandhi’s ambitious march from Kanyakumari to Kashmir got him significant mileage but his party’s electoral woes continued. The Himachal victory brought hope, but it was decimated in Punjab and Gujarat.Fleet-footed parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) are posing a challenge to the grand old party in newer territories. The AAP emphatically declared its arrival in 2022, knocking down the Congress in Punjab and registering its presence in Goa and Gujarat.The bitterness in politics, both in Parliament and outside, worsened. Conversations in social media and elsewhere took on clearer communal overtones. In litigation around the Gyanvapi mosque-Kashi Vishwanath Temple dispute, in the gruesome beheading in Udaipur and the grisly murder of Shraddha Walkar, and in the nonsensical controversy over a Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone song, the communal cauldron was kept simmering.The government sought to hardsell India’s G20 presidency even as the economic recovery remained tentative with the Russia-Ukraine war pushing up food and energy prices. To address the jobs crisis, it rolled out the Agnipath scheme despite massive street protests, it clashed with the higher judiciary, and it tried to turn the Chinese aggression at the LAC into a political attack on the opposition.The political calendar of 2023 is packed with high-stakes state elections. Political events of 2023 are important because they have the potential to shape the debate and narrative for the Lok Sabha battle of 2024.The semi-final clash2023, in all likelihood, will shape the political script of 2024.The BJP and Congress will be in election mode throughout the year. From Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland in February-March, Karnataka in May, and Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, and Telangana in November-December, they will clash in state elections around the country — the outcomes of which will give a sense of the way the political wind is blowing.The ruling party won Gujarat, UP, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur in 2022, but it will not rest on its laurels. The nine states that will go to polls next year account for 116 Lok Sabha seats. Some of them have voted differently in the previous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. In 2018, the BJP lost in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, but decimated the Congress in Lok Sabha elections a year later.The ruling party is not in great shape in Karnataka; the situation of the Congress is no different in Rajasthan. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh could spring surprises. In Telangana, the BJP will use its full might and organisational firepower to try to dislodge K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) — now rechristened Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) — and take a second South Indian state.It will also be a crucial year for the TMC, which is keen to extend its political presence outside West Bengal. The AAP’s massive success in Punjab and its small but significant openings in Goa (2 seats) and Gujarat (5 seats) would have made the TMC both anxious and hopeful. Mamata Banerjee’s party is working hard to make inroads in Tripura and Meghalaya.What next for BJP and GovtThe BJP believes that Modi’s personal popularity and connect with voters remain largely intact. While caste, community, and regional equations play a key role in state elections and campaigns are often centered around local issues, the ruling party has always banked on Modi’s carefully crafted charisma and appeal. This strategy will be put to test again in 2023.Every decision and policy announcement of the Modi government next year will be viewed and analysed from the point of view of the Lok Sabha election. The first glimpse of the government’s political strategy could come in the Union Budget, the last full budget before the 2024 elections. The recovery has been slow, inflation has soared, and the global economic situation remains uncertain.Will the government resort to a slew of big-bang populist promises and measures? How will it strike a balance among fiscal prudence, economic growth, and electoral imperatives?Another key question: Will the Modi cabinet don a new look next year? The timing and scale of the reshuffle — if it happens — will be interesting.Much of the government’s attention will be on the G20 summit in September. It has managed to create a hype around India’s presidency, and the build-up to the summit is key to its plan to position the event as an occasion for national rejoicing, and to use it to proclaim India’s growing stature under Modi.Will Assembly elections be held in Jammu and Kashmir in the summer? The government will be keen to hold transparent elections in J&K ahead of the summit to send out a message to the world.The second half of the year will see the build-up to the inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The trust overseeing the construction has signalled that celebrations for opening the mandir will start in December, in time for the Lok Sabha election.Congress: Revive or perishThis year saw the Congress unveil two experiments that broke from its recent history. The Gandhis made way for a person outside the first family to become party president, and Rahul Gandhi embarked on his arduous Yatra with the hope of turning around both his party’s fortunes and his own image.After a four-year electoral drought, the Congress tasted success in a state election (Himachal) but it was humiliated in Punjab and Gujarat. The impact of the Yatra, if any, and the effect of the separation of powers will be visible next year. Rahul’s walkathon has helped dilute the perception that he is a non-serious leader. But it is too early to rush to predictions that have been made — and proven wrong — earlier.Kharge has shown signs of emerging as a potent speaker who could take on the BJP. It is to be seen whether he can bring at least some opposition parties together in a credible coalition.Of the election-bound states next year, two are ruled by the Congress. The party will have to win some and retain some if it is to pose a credible challenge to the Modi juggernaut in 2024. It fancies its chances in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, and believes it is on a stronger wicket in Chhattisgarh. However, it also has a recent history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.While the G23, which functioned as a pressure group within the party, has lost its relevance, the big organisational question is whether Kharge and the leadership would agree to hold elections to the Working Committee at the AICC plenary in Raipur in February. The biggest challenge for the Congress — and the opposition as a whole — will be to navigate the politics of polarisation which will likely get worse in the election year.AAP, regional forces, Opp unity2022 was a defining year for AAP — it became the third party to be in power in more than one state, and it’ll become the ninth national party. The big question is whether Arvind Kejriwal will try his brand of ideology-agnostic politics in states going to polls next year.Kejriwal has to maintain the tempo if he has to emerge as a challenger to the BJP in 2024. And he has competition. The TMC and BRS have national ambitions, and Nitish Kumar has declared that the 2025 Bihar elections will be fought under Tejashwi Yadav’s leadership, suggesting that he senses an opportunity for himself in national politics. It is significant that almost all non-Congress, non-BJP Prime Ministers have come from the Janata family.What is Kejriwal’s next big idea? Many in the opposition believe his brand of politics more or less mirrors that of the BJP. And that makes him persona non grata for many parties. As the AAP, TMC, and BRS eye national roles, the casualty will be opposition unity.Is a pan Indian anti-BJP electoral coalition possible? Many parties prefer state-level alliances, though some are pushing for a non-BJP, non-Congress coalition — a sort of third front. Posturing and discussions in that direction will continue in the opposition space.Government-judiciary conflictThe last months of this year saw the government and the Supreme Court enter into confrontation mode once again. After remaining silent for seven years, the government has started to express unhappiness over the scuttling of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act by the apex court in 2015.The Supreme Court has pushed back against the government’s criticism of the collegium system. There is a tussle over names being recommended by the Supreme Court collegium for appointment as judges, with the government delaying appointments.The opposition feels the government is keeping the threat of bringing back the NJAC alive to get the judiciary to fall in line. The tussle could worsen next year, as the court hears petitions and delivers judgments on matters with major political implications. Among them: appointment of members of the Election Commission, challenges to demonetisation and constitutional changes in J&K, electoral bonds, the Citizenship Amendment Act.Also Read in Gujarati: Click Here

Nine state stops on road to Lok Sabha 2024Premium Story
Congress opens office on Owaisi turf Charminar, hopes strategy will pay off
The Indian Express | 4 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
4 weeks ago | |

Indicating its willingness to take on the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), previously known as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, and the BJP’s burgeoning footprint in the run-up to this year’s Assembly polls, the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) on Sunday opened an office in Hyderabad’s Charminar Assembly constituency for the first time.The state Congress is expected to reach out to especially youth in the Old City area who might be disgruntled with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) that has traditionally held control there. The AIMIM has been often accused of being in a covert alliance with the BRS.Congress leader Mohammed Ali Shabbir told The Indian Express that it was a “move to strengthen the party’s organisational network in the Old City of Hyderabad in view of the next Assembly elections”.Claiming that state Congress chief A Revanth Reddy had adopted an aggressive strategy for the coming elections, the party said offices would be established in all municipal wards in the area in the coming weeks. Reddy would address meetings in all of the wards, it added.A state Congress leader told The Indian Express that the party wanted to open an office in the Muslim-dominated Charminar area in 1967 but shelved its plan when Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, the father of current Hyderabad MP and AIMIM head Assaduddin Owaisi, won as an Independent candidate that year.Independent candidates would win the seat till 1985. The AIMIM has been winning the seat since 1989 and the Congress was never able to open its office in the area, said party insiders.In a show of unity in the bickering state Congress unit, leaders such as Shabbir, Hyderabad district president Sameer Waliullah, former minister Dr G Chinna Reddy, TPCC spokesperson Syed Nizamuddin, general secretaries Feroz Khan and Uzma Shakir, and other senior leaders from the Old City came together for the inauguration of the office at Moosabowli crossroads.“The Assembly elections to be held this year will witness the return of the Congress to power. While Revanth Reddy is working hard to strengthen the Congress party at the state level, the entire Hyderabad Congress team will support his endeavours by increasing our reach in our respective areas,” Waliullah said.Shabbir urged the Congress cadre to “utilise the new party office as a centre to connect with the people”. He said local leaders “should interact with people regularly to understand and resolve their problems” and that “the election-to-election basis approach would never bring people closer to the Congress party” and added, “Local leaders should be available for the people on a 24×7 basis to address their needs.”Shabbir went on to say, “The Congress offices in the Old City should guide jobless youth in getting subsidised loans, help poor families in getting ration cards, assist the families in health reimbursements under Aarogyasri and help all others who approach them with a problem.”He advised party workers to start a blood donors’ group and advised them to acquaint themselves with the procedures involved to extend help to the needy through NGOs and various government schemes.Expressing concern “about the exploitation of money lenders who are charging over 10 per cent daily interest for loans in the Old City”, the Congress leader suggested that “the Congress would make arrangements to provide small interest-free loans to small vendors, auto-drivers and others”.“Previous Congress regimes have implemented various welfare schemes for the benefit of poor and weaker sections. However, the present BRS government has completely neglected the poor people by diluting many welfare schemes. Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao only renamed the welfare schemes introduced by the Congress and created hype as if the TRS government started them. As Congress members, we must help everyone without showing any bias or discrimination,” Shabbir said.He said Old City residents need metro rail connectivity and AIMIM infrastructural projects to overcome rising poverty and unemployment. The Congress would implement these, Shabbir said.“As advised by AICC leader Rahul Gandhi, we should not confine ourselves to the mention of the contributions made by our leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and or our previous regimes. We must explain what we propose to do in the future for the people’s growth. We should think beyond conventional politics to make the Congress party strong in the old city.”The Congress leader said elaborate arrangements were being made for the party’s nationwide “Haath Se Haath Jodo” Abhiyan that starts January 26.

Congress opens office on Owaisi turf Charminar, hopes strategy will pay off
Opinion | BJP’s re-election in 2024 may consolidate an inherently un-democratic idea of IndiaPremium Story
The Indian Express | 4 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
4 weeks ago | |

What will India’s collective self look like in the mirror of the near future? Any analysis of the politics of the present moment — of today and tomorrow — needs to be anchored in this difficult question. The answer to it hinges on what India has become today. After eight years of the BJP’s single-party dominance, politics is at a crossroads: It can cling to the remnants of a nearly-demolished democratic spirit or slip into the abyss of more explicit authoritarianism. If the latter happens, we shall have transformed not just in politics but in identity too. Such a transformation represents no less than a hegemonic project that is still unfolding. Election outcomes and the shape of party competition, crucial as they are, should also be located in this larger inquiry. Let us, therefore, attempt to look not only at 2024 but a little beyond that; and not only at elections but much beyond that.Two interlinked processes are shaping today. One is taking place in the arena of competitive politics and is marked by the rise of the “second dominant party system”. The other is in the realm of politics of normative contestations. The single-party dominance that the BJP has achieved is vulnerable at the state level. There are states where this dominance has so far failed to make its mark. The BJP is also vulnerable in its exclusive dependence on a single leader who needs to toil for local body elections as hard as the parliamentary elections. Similarly, the hegemony that marks the public domain is earned and retained through a complex and frail process. It is ideologically weak and thrives on distortions, manipulations and intellectually inadequate cribbing over victimhood and whataboutery.Not surprisingly, the current hegemony and single-party dominance are coupled with crass repression by the state and by state-approved vigilantism of private actors. In coming years, the BJP might retain its hold on formal power and competitive politics. It may also successfully stabilise the current distortion of public culture. But its reliance on repression and celebration of masculine militarism against the citizenry will continue.During its second term, the current regime has made concerted efforts to undermine constitutional democracy but even before that, the process of hollowing the various institutions had begun. While constitutional bodies like the judiciary or the Election Commission have been tamed or threatened, the most abject surrender facilitating an authoritarian turn of governance has been by the bureaucracy and investigating agencies. So much so that these two have become partners of the political establishment in the crime against democracy.In this overall context, irrespective of electoral outcomes, we are bound to witness a further weakening of the liberal norm. It is true that all parties, when they acquire power, adopt a statist approach bordering on disguised authoritarianism either in the legal instruments they create or in the application of existing ones. Yet, the present moment must be distinguished from this more general tendency. The current regime is inherently antagonistic to the liberal norm. The liberal norm and majoritarianism are at odds and the latter is at the heart of the current regime’s ideological project. This dichotomy pitches today’s regime against all dimensions of the liberal ethic.Today, the acceptability of majoritarianism is linked to the nature of religious identity. Instead of a move from ritual practices to joyful festivities, each religious event is pulled back into the vortex of public performance of rituals and their linkage to religiosity and national pride. These developments have implications for how the project of evolving a political community necessary for democracy is undermined. This is happening through four processes.One, ever since the Ayodhya controversy was stoked in the late Eighties, Muslims are reminded of being Muslims rather than Indians. In a sense, a conservative Muslim-ness is forced upon the community through its isolation and now its conversion into second-class citizenry. To a lesser extent, this happens in the case of Christians as well. Two, through the onslaught of public display of religiosity, Hindus are persuaded to become more Hindu in a superficial sense. That is where the discourse of Hindutva has been very successful. Three, as a corollary, the plural nature of Hinduism is pushed aside in favour of a more pan-Indian, homogenised idea of Hinduism.As a result, the fourth process: The space for cultural intermixing in the social realm shrinks just as the space for cultural contestations and politics of culture in the party arena almost disappears. This is where we come back to the idea of a dominant party system. It is not so much about electoral expansion as it is about the ability of the dominant party to determine what will be the ideological contours of political competition. The idea of the middle ground of politics has been changing. Today, the BJP is poised to force not just the style and language of politics but also the substance of politics onto its opponents and once that exercise is complete, the transformation of India from an imagined constitutional democracy to a majoritarian regime will be complete.How long will this transformation take? In 2019, by allowing the BJP to win big, the non-BJP parties facilitated a major step in this direction. In 2024, the BJP would expect to take the final step in changing the idea that defines India. In this sense, elections will determine the image of India in the mirror of the future: With each day the present regime enjoys formal and cultural power, the decimation of the constitutional project and distortion of India’s collective self will come closer. This underscores the urgency of confronting the second dominant party system on two fronts. One is a mundane exercise of weakening the electoral prowess of the current regime. The arrogance of the present power machine, from top to bottom, may contribute to this exercise. The other is the rebuilding of the constitutional imagination with something almost unique to India — entwining diversity with the idea of democracy. This will automatically strengthen the liberal spirit. These efforts may prolong the fruition of the hegemonic project that is currently underway. This is where the innate tradition of accommodation and coexistence may prove valuable.As the BJP’s power saturates in some parts and remains vulnerable in many others, one may expect an open political battlefield but the core issue is: Both during electoral battle and after that, in the course of routine politics, will non-BJP parties have an agenda of protecting the democratic promise we once held? Can we, as Indians, look up straight in the face of our future image?The writer, based in Pune, taught political science and is chief editor of Studies in Indian Politics

Opinion | BJP’s re-election in 2024 may consolidate an inherently un-democratic idea of IndiaPremium Story
  • BJP’s re-election in 2024 may consolidate an idea of India that is inherently un-democraticPremium Story
  • The Indian Express

    What will India’s collective self look like in the mirror of the near future? Any analysis of the politics of the present moment — of today and tomorrow — needs to be anchored in this difficult question. The answer to it hinges on what India has become today. After eight years of the BJP’s single-party dominance, politics is at a crossroads: It can cling to the remnants of a nearly-demolished democratic spirit or slip into the abyss of more explicit authoritarianism. If the latter happens, we shall have transformed not just in politics but in identity too. Such a transformation represents no less than a hegemonic project that is still unfolding. Election outcomes and the shape of party competition, crucial as they are, should also be located in this larger inquiry. Let us, therefore, attempt to look not only at 2024 but a little beyond that; and not only at elections but much beyond that.Two interlinked processes are shaping today. One is taking place in the arena of competitive politics and is marked by the rise of the “second dominant party system”. The other is in the realm of politics of normative contestations. The single-party dominance that the BJP has achieved is vulnerable at the state level. There are states where this dominance has so far failed to make its mark. The BJP is also vulnerable in its exclusive dependence on a single leader who needs to toil for local body elections as hard as the parliamentary elections. Similarly, the hegemony that marks the public domain is earned and retained through a complex and frail process. It is ideologically weak and thrives on distortions, manipulations and intellectually inadequate cribbing over victimhood and whataboutery.Not surprisingly, the current hegemony and single-party dominance are coupled with crass repression by the state and by state-approved vigilantism of private actors. In coming years, the BJP might retain its hold on formal power and competitive politics. It may also successfully stabilise the current distortion of public culture. But its reliance on repression and celebration of masculine militarism against the citizenry will continue.During its second term, the current regime has made concerted efforts to undermine constitutional democracy but even before that, the process of hollowing the various institutions had begun. While constitutional bodies like the judiciary or the Election Commission have been tamed or threatened, the most abject surrender facilitating an authoritarian turn of governance has been by the bureaucracy and investigating agencies. So much so that these two have become partners of the political establishment in the crime against democracy.In this overall context, irrespective of electoral outcomes, we are bound to witness a further weakening of the liberal norm. It is true that all parties, when they acquire power, adopt a statist approach bordering on disguised authoritarianism either in the legal instruments they create or in the application of existing ones. Yet, the present moment must be distinguished from this more general tendency. The current regime is inherently antagonistic to the liberal norm. The liberal norm and majoritarianism are at odds and the latter is at the heart of the current regime’s ideological project. This dichotomy pitches today’s regime against all dimensions of the liberal ethic.Today, the acceptability of majoritarianism is linked to the nature of religious identity. Instead of a move from ritual practices to joyful festivities, each religious event is pulled back into the vortex of public performance of rituals and their linkage to religiosity and national pride. These developments have implications for how the project of evolving a political community necessary for democracy is undermined. This is happening through four processes.One, ever since the Ayodhya controversy was stoked in the late Eighties, Muslims are reminded of being Muslims rather than Indians. In a sense, a conservative Muslim-ness is forced upon the community through its isolation and now its conversion into second-class citizenry. To a lesser extent, this happens in the case of Christians as well. Two, through the onslaught of public display of religiosity, Hindus are persuaded to become more Hindu in a superficial sense. That is where the discourse of Hindutva has been very successful. Three, as a corollary, the plural nature of Hinduism is pushed aside in favour of a more pan-Indian, homogenised idea of Hinduism.As a result, the fourth process: The space for cultural intermixing in the social realm shrinks just as the space for cultural contestations and politics of culture in the party arena almost disappears. This is where we come back to the idea of a dominant party system. It is not so much about electoral expansion as it is about the ability of the dominant party to determine what will be the ideological contours of political competition. The idea of the middle ground of politics has been changing. Today, the BJP is poised to force not just the style and language of politics but also the substance of politics onto its opponents and once that exercise is complete, the transformation of India from an imagined constitutional democracy to a majoritarian regime will be complete.How long will this transformation take? In 2019, by allowing the BJP to win big, the non-BJP parties facilitated a major step in this direction. In 2024, the BJP would expect to take the final step in changing the idea that defines India. In this sense, elections will determine the image of India in the mirror of the future: With each day the present regime enjoys formal and cultural power, the decimation of the constitutional project and distortion of India’s collective self will come closer. This underscores the urgency of confronting the second dominant party system on two fronts. One is a mundane exercise of weakening the electoral prowess of the current regime. The arrogance of the present power machine, from top to bottom, may contribute to this exercise. The other is the rebuilding of the constitutional imagination with something almost unique to India — entwining diversity with the idea of democracy. This will automatically strengthen the liberal spirit. These efforts may prolong the fruition of the hegemonic project that is currently underway. This is where the innate tradition of accommodation and coexistence may prove valuable.As the BJP’s power saturates in some parts and remains vulnerable in many others, one may expect an open political battlefield but the core issue is: Both during electoral battle and after that, in the course of routine politics, will non-BJP parties have an agenda of protecting the democratic promise we once held? Can we, as Indians, look up straight in the face of our future image?The writer, based in Pune, taught political science and is chief editor of Studies in Indian Politics

Assam merges 4 districts with 4 others, changes jurisdiction of some villages ahead of EC delimitation
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

The Assam government on Saturday decided to merge four districts with four others and changed the administrative jurisdiction of a few villages, a day before the Election Commission’s freeze on redrawing administrative units comes into effect.Announcing this at a press conference here after a meeting of the state cabinet, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the decisions have been taken with a heavy heart keeping in mind the interests of Assam, its society and administrative exigencies. He added it was only “temporary” and did not disclose the reason behind the decision.“While Biswanath district will be merged with Sonitpur, Hojai will be merged with Nagaon, Bajali will be merged with Barpeta and Tamulpur will be merged with Baksa,” he said.The decisions had to be taken at the cabinet meeting on Saturday as the Election Commission has imposed a ban on creating new administrative units in Assam from January 1, 2023 as the poll panel will undertake the delimitation exercise in the state.The administrative jurisdiction of some villages and a few towns have also been changed at the state cabinet meeting.The merged districts were mostly created in the recent past and Sarma said he wanted to apologise to the people of these districts but hoped that they would understand the importance of the decisions.The chief minister said a team of state ministers will visit these districts and interact with leading organisations and citizens to explain the reasons behind the decisions which can’t be disclosed publicly.He, however, said the police and judicial districts of the four merged districts will continue as they are along with other offices and officers.The Election Commission on December 27 said it initiated the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Assam and will use the 2001 census figures for the readjustment of seats.The Commission said a ban has been put in place effective January 1, 2023 on the creation of new administrative units in the state till the exercise is completed.Under the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 1972, the last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was effected on the basis of 1971 census figures by the then Delimitation Commission in 1976, the poll panel noted.The move to redraw the assembly and parliamentary seats of Assam as per Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 has been initiated following a request from the Union Law Ministry.Delimitation is the process of fixing limits or boundaries of the territorial constituencies in a country or a state with a legislative body.During the delimitation exercise, the Commission will keep in mind the physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facility of communication and public convenience, and as far as practicable, the constituencies will be kept as geographically compact areas, the EC statement noted.Once a draft proposal for the delimitation of constituencies is finalised by the Commission, it will be published in the central and state gazettes for inviting suggestions and objections from the general public.

Assam merges 4 districts with 4 others, changes jurisdiction of some villages ahead of EC delimitation
Why you should read ‘Remote EVM’ Premium Story
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

Important topics and their relevance in UPSC CSE exam for December 30, 2022. If you missed the December 29, 2022 UPSC key from the Indian Express, read it hereFRONT PAGEElection Commission says ready to roll out pilot for migrants to vote remotelySyllabus:Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.Mains Examination: General Studies II: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.Key Points to Ponder:• What’s the ongoing story- Underlining the problems faced by domestic migrants in travelling back to their home constituencies to vote, the Election Commission of India (ECI) Thursday said it is ready to pilot remote voting, a move that will also result in better voter turnouts. In a statement, the ECI said it has developed a multi-constituency Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM) that can facilitate voting for different constituencies from a single remote polling booth.• Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM)-Know in detail• “Migration based disenfranchisement is indeed not an option in the age of technological advancement”-Discuss• Why Remote Electronic Voting Machine?• Remote Electronic Voting Machine and Migrants enfranchisement-connect the dots• What are the challenges associated with migrant voters?• What does the term “domestic migrant” mean?• Implementation of Remote Electronic Voting Machine-What are the Administrative, legal and technological challenges?• What are the recent key electoral reforms proposed by Election Commission of India?• Election Commission of India and Article 324 of the Constitution-Know in detail• The independent and impartial functioning of the Election Commission-How it is ensured?• Election Commission of India- Powers and Functions• System of Election- First past the post electoral system.• How Elections are conducted in India?• The Constitution of India has prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission-True or False?• The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission-True or False?• Chief Election Commissioner and the two other Election Commissioners have equal powers-True or False?• In case of difference of opinion amongst the Chief election commissioner and/or two other election commissioners,the matter is decided by the Supreme Court of India-Right or Wrong?Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:   📍ECI ready to pilot remote voting for domestic migrants; migrant voter need not travel back to home state to voteKarnataka reclassifies Vokkaligas, Lingayats to increase their share of OBC quotaSyllabus:Preliminary Examination: History of India and Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.Mains Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.Key Points to Ponder:• What’s the ongoing story-The Karnataka Cabinet Thursday decided to categorise the two dominant communities in the state, Vokkaligas and Lingayats, as “moderately backward” from the “backward” category in a move that could increase their share in reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC).• Who are the Lingayats and Vokkaligas?• Vokkaligas and Lingayats-Know in detail• Why the Karnataka Cabinet decided to categorise the two dominant communities in the state, Vokkaligas and Lingayats, as “moderately backward” from the “backward” category in a move that could increase their share in reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC)?• For Your Information-The Lingayats are a dominant community who make up nearly 17% of Karnataka’s six crore population . The community can determine the outcome of polls in as many as 90-100 of the state’s 224 Assembly constituencies. The Lingayats, classified as a Hindu sub-caste called Veerashaiva Lingayats, are essentially followers of the 12th-century philosopher Saint Basavanna, who started a movement to help sections of society break away from the chains of caste.• How are they politically aligned?• What is the current controversy?• What are the political ramifications?• Personality in News-BasaveshwaraOther Important Articles Covering the same topic:   📍Vokkaligas, politics and symbolism: Why Kempegowda’s statue matters📍A Lingayat sub-sect’s quota demand: context, implicationsRejuvenation of small rivers under NREGS highlight of PM meet todaySyllabus:Preliminary Examination: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.Mains Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.Key Points to Ponder:• What’s the ongoing story-THE CENTRE will showcase its initiative of rejuvenating around 75 small rivers, mainly in UP, over the past four years using funds under the national rural job guarantee scheme during the second meeting of the National Ganga Council, which will be held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kolkata.• National Ganga Council-Know its composition• Who heads National Ganga Council?• Is National Ganga Council statutory body?• What are the functions of the National Ganga Council (NGC)?• What are the objectives of the National Ganga Council (NGC)?• For Your Information-It will be the first meeting since 2019 of the Council, which is the apex authority responsible for cleaning the river and includes the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal as members. The Council also includes several Union ministers, including the Finance Minister, Rural Development Minister and Power Minister.• National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)-Know in detail• What are the objectives of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)?• What is the aim of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)?Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:   📍Restoring the Ganga’s purity and biodiversityTHE EDITORIAL PAGECovid, three years laterSyllabus:Preliminary Examination: General Science and Current events of national and international importance.Mains Examination: • General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.• General Studies III: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, bio-technology.Key Points to Ponder:• What’s the ongoing story- Chandrakant Lahariya Writes: The recent statement that ‘the next 40 days will be crucial’ is inferred from the patterns of previous Covid waves. Three years into the pandemic, the context has changed and past patterns are not a helpful guide for decision making.• ‘The biggest and ongoing Covid-19 wave in China has started speculations about a fourth wave in India’-Where India stands right now?• Is a fresh national Covid wave in India a real possibility?• ‘A disease outbreak or an epidemic in any setting or country is the outcome of complex interactions between the “epidemiologic triad” of the agent, host and environment factors’-Elaborate• In Covid-19, who is the agent, the hosts and what are the environmental/external factors?• According to the Author, ‘a fresh national wave in India is possible only if there are major changes in one or more components of the epidemiologic triad’- What are those major changes in one or more components of the epidemiologic triad?• Has the Covid wave in China changed the situation for India?• ‘In the agent factor, Omicron (B.1.1.529) and its sub-lineages such as XBB, and BF.7 are spreading in China’- What do you know about B.1.1.529, XBB, and BF.7?• India might see a surge in cases in January, citing patterns observed during previous waves-What patterns were observed during previous waves?• What is reason for the explosive surge of Covid cases in China?• “China’s definition of Covid deaths was too narrow”-What is exactly China’s policy on Covid?• China Covid-19 surge: What’s happening?• Covid surge: What was different in China?• What steps were taken by the government of India to control the spread of Covid-19?• What is the government doing about the potential surge in cases?Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:   📍China estimates Covid surge infected 37 million people in a day📍Concern over lack of Covid-19 info in China; villages get readyTHE IDEAS PAGEA bond with a historySyllabus:Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.Key Points to Ponder:• What’s the ongoing story- Armen Sarkissian writes: The partnership between Armenia and India is not driven by governments alone. It is pushed forward to a great extent by ordinary people from both countries. Governments need to catch-up.• India and Armenia-Historical Background• Bilateral relations between India and Armenia-Know in detail• Map Work-Armenia• India’s stated policy of deepening defence cooperation with Armenia-Know in detail• How deeper collaboration with Armenia will benefit India economically?• Which nations are in the Caucasus region?• Who was Shahamir Shahamirian?• How is the level of bilateral trade and investments between India and Armenia?• India has extended assistance to Armenia in the past from time to time-How and in what circumstances?• Indian Diaspora in Armenia-Know in detailOther Important Articles Covering the same topic:   📍INDIA – ARMENIA RELATIONSECONOMYWhy loan recovery via Lok Adalat has jumped four-fold?Syllabus:Preliminary Examination: Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.Mains Examination: General Studies III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.Key Points to Ponder:• What’s the ongoing story- THE NUMBER of non-performing assets (NPAs) referred by banks to various recovery channels, including Lok Adalat and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) route, in 2021-22 witnessed a four-fold jump compared to 2020-21 as lakhs of small ticket loans were referred for resolution to Lok Adalats of banks.• What is Lok Adalat for loan recovery?• Why is there an increase in the number of cases?• How many cases were referred to Lok Adalat?• What is the progress in IBC cases?• How have DRTs and SARFAESI routes fared?• What is the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)?Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:   📍UBI Strikes Gold With Lok Adalat Approach For Recovering DebtFor any queries and feedback, contact priya.shukla@indianexpress.comThe UPSC KEY Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Updates.

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Italy to Israel: How 2022 has been the year of right-wing politicsPremium Story
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

Across the world, right-wing politics has seen tremendous popular appeal for the better part of the last two decades. While most say that the shift to the right has been an ongoing process, with electoral victories simply reinforcing a trend that has existed for years, the year 2022 has seen an intensification of this trend.The rise of the right was perhaps best encapsulated by Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. The former US President is far from the only right-wing leaders to have shocked observers with their swift and unfathomable ascent to the upper echelons of power. In Italy and Israel, right-wing candidates won decisive electoral victories in 2022 but even countries like France and Sweden, where similarly ideologically inclined candidates failed to secure a majority, their increasing popularity and subsequent normalisation indicates future gains. Earlier this year, Hungary’s divisive Prime Minister Viktor Orban followed up on his 2018 victory with an even bigger win against an opposition candidate that was closely aligned with the European Union. In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats doubled its support amongst young voters since the last election. Further South, Italy elected the nationalist politician Georgia Meloni in a victory that CNN described as ushering in “the most far-right government since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini.”In France, despite incumbent Emmanuel Macron’s staunch support for Ukraine, and his opponent Marie Le Pen’s historical ties with Vladimir Putin, the race between the two was far closer than most predicted. While Macron won the Presidential contest with a vote share of 58 per cent, Le Pen’s party won a historic 87 seats in the French National Assembly, after winning eight in 2017. Along with a slate of other right-wing parliamentary victories, Le Pen’s success has resulted in France’s most divided parliament since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958.Other countries may see similar electoral wins in 2023. Spain heads to the polls next year with a far-right victory not outside the realm of possibility. For the first time, the Spanish far-right party Vox won a seat in regional government this year. In Belgium, the two parties leading the polling are far-right populists and Poland’s governing Law and Justice party is likely to win re-election.However, not everyone views these developments as a cause for concern. For one, the advance of the far-right is seen as an ongoing process rather than a recent phenomenon. Analysis from Politico’s Poll of Polls suggests that far-right parties in the region on average did not increase their support by even one percentage point from the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February to today. The report concludes that if an increase in support occurred for far-right parties, it happened several years ago. Cass Mudde, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, concurs with this assessment. He states that the rise of the right has been a decades long process, but what has shifted is that far-right parties have become more “mainstream” and “acceptable.”However, Sheri Berman, a professor at Barnard College argues that these right-wing parties have “recognized that winning votes and political power requires moving away from those roots, moderating their appeals and policy platforms, and pledging to adhere to democratic norms.” In a recent article for Foreign Affairs Magazine, she writes that “rather than showing that European democracy is endangered, the evolution of the Brothers of Italy and the Sweden Democrats offers reasons for cautious optimism.”In America however, rather than moderate its stance, the right-wing Republican party has embraced its extremes.Berman describes the contrasting trajectories of right-wing parties in Western Europe and the US as having begun during the late 1990s. As Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the United States House of Representatives, lays out in his 1994 book Contract with America, during this time, the Republican party became increasingly negative in its rhetoric, its policies shifted from moderate to conservative, and its behaviour in Congress became overwhelmingly obstructionist.Trump, more than anyone, represented this shift in the party and after his loss in 2020, Republicans were further radicalised, refusing to condemn his failure to accept election results and distance themselves from the Capitol rioters. Take for instance, this year’s midterm elections, in which the party fielded nearly 300 election deniers in 48 out of 50 states.While the party did manage to take control of the House, it failed to orchestrate the ‘red wave’ that many commentators had predicted. According to an analysis by The Washington Post, the Democrats actually capitalised on its opponents shift to the right, by intervening in 13 primary races to support the more extreme right-wing republican candidate.Their strategy was based upon the belief that most Americans reject extremist policies and would vote for a moderate candidate (whether on the left or the right) over one on the far ends of the political spectrum.Their gamble seems to have paid off.Of the 13 extreme Republicans covertly backed by liberal organisations, six won their respective primaries. All six lost their general election races. In the 36 House races that the Cook Political Report rated as toss-ups, Trump endorsed five Republicans, each one of whom lost their races. While the very fact that these candidates were considered viable in the first place is concerning, their defeats suggest that America is not yet prepared to welcome the far-right into Washington.In India, the BJP won a resounding victory in Gujarat, solidifying its already formidable dominance over Indian politics. Despite the party seemingly suffering a setback in recent years due to its handling of the pandemic, anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and farmers’ protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victories in 2022 suggest that the party continues to maintain its grip.Meanwhile, in Israel, after five elections in three years, Benjamin Netanyahu returned as the prime minister of the country’s most right-wing government in history. This is in-keeping with public opinion. The number of Israelis who identify as right-wing has risen steadily in recent years to over half of all adults, including 64 per cent of the Jewish population according to the Jewish National Library.Similarly, in Brazil, while the leftist candidate Lula da Silva narrowly defeated the incumbent Jair Bolsenaro, the latter’s influence in Brazilian politics remains firm. Take Nikolas Ferreira, for example. The 26-year-old became a Tik Tok star by lashing out against communism and secularism in the country. “They want our Brazil to become a Canada, where there’s quality buses, quality schools, but there’s no morality?” he asked in a recent interview. Ferreira received 1.5 million votes in his run for Brazilian Congress — 500,000 more than any other candidate nationwide for that chamber.In elections in the Philippines in May this year, the incumbent and far-right politician Rodrigo Duterte was ineligible to compete due to term limits, but again, his legacy dominated the elections. The winner, Bongbong Marcos, is the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the Vice-Presidential winner, Sara Duterte, is the daughter of outgoing President, Rodrigo. Marcos has promised to continue Duterte senior’s policies, including pursuing closer ties with China, and has described himself as “Machiavellian” in nature.The rise of the right has implications on foreign alliances and policies of any country.According to non-profit Freedom House, the prominence of right-wing politicians globally could be disastrous on a global scale. Consider the example of Netanyahu. Since 2009, he has nurtured relations with authoritarian regimes from Azerbaijan to Chas, and forged relationships with strongmen like Orban, Modi, Trump, and Putin, even going as far as to tout his friendship with the latter during the elections.Freedom House further writes that “authoritarian leaders are no longer isolated holdouts in a democratizing world. Instead they are actively collaborating with one another to spread new forms of repression and rebuff democratic pressure.” In certain cases, that support is economic. Russia, China and Turkey have established trade relations with the authoritarian Venezuelan regime, diminishing the impact of sanctions levied by countries like the US.In other cases, autocratic alliances can have a more direct impact. Orban, Modi and Alexander Vucic of Serbia have all offered tacit or direct support to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. India was among four countries that abstained on a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council condemning the referendum organised in Russia across four regions of Ukraine.In terms of policies, far-right leaders tend to favour a radical approach. Lydia Khalil, an extremism expert at the Lowy Institute outlined some of those policies in a paper called the Rise of the Extreme Right. In it, she states that right-wing forces tend to favour racial supremacy, propagate conspiracy theories pertaining to establishment corruption, and deny scientific findings such as those related to vaccines and climate change.However, perhaps most concerning is the undermining of institutions. In Hungary, Orban has obstructed EU action on Ukraine and has undercut judicial and academic freedoms. Moises Naim, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, states that recent populists have “reengineered the old dictator’s playbook to enhance their will on others,” showing “decidedly undemocratic proclivities” along the way. Adding to that point, he states that right-wing governments are able to “defy any constraints on their power and concentrate it in their own hands, launching frontal attacks on the institutions that sustain constitutional democracy, stacking the judiciary and the legislature, declaring war on the press, and scrapping laws that check their authority.”As Freedom House warns, the ascendency of the right-wing to the mainstream is concerning, not least because it represents a targeted attack on the tenets of liberal democracy.

Italy to Israel: How 2022 has been the year of right-wing politicsPremium Story
Munugode bypoll a precursor, battle between BRS and BJP set to intensify in 2023
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

In the Assembly polls scheduled for next year, Telangana will witness a fierce battle between Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) that is aiming for a hat-trick in the state and the BJP, which has elbowed out the Congress to emerge as the principal opposition.The stage for the election has, perhaps, already been set. The acrimony between the two parties was visible during, and in the aftermath of, the episode of the BJP’s alleged conspiracy to poach four ruling BRS MLAs.The Telangana police first issued notices to BJP leader B L Santhosh, whom the BRS accused of being behind the plot. Subsequently, The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI, both central agencies, conducted raids and searches on BRS ministers and leaders. More recently, in a setback for the CM and his party, the Telangana High Court transferred the probe from the state-mandated SIT to the CBI.Amidst this, the CM’s daughter and MLC K Kavitha finds herself embroiled in the case relating to irregularities in the now-repealed Delhi liquor scam case. Her name has also figured in the ED chargesheet filed on the matter in a New Delhi court.The prelude to the aggressive contest ahead was the Munugode bypoll in November. Both parties held a high octane campaign, but the BRS managed to scrape through by about 10,000 votes.After the election, the BJP went back to the drawing board. However, despite the win, KCR called for a thorough review of the government’s welfare policies and their implementation. The CM asked his ministers and MLAs to go back to their respective constituencies and “work hard for the next few months” in the run-up to the polls. He asked them to “not come to Hyderabad unless for urgent work”. The slim winning margin was a forewarning that the BJP had arrived in the state and would pull out all the stops going forward.The BRS also chalked out an action plan to spotlight schemes such as Rythu Bandhu and Dalit Bandhu to increase awareness of its welfare policies ahead of the polls.“In Munugode, it is the goodwill that BRS got through the welfare schemes which ensured our win. The CM said that MLAs and ministers should ensure the schemes are implemented properly. That is the advantage we will have over our rivals,’’ senior minister C Malla Reddy said.The BRS has also made it clear that its plan to go national was to counter the BJP in 2024. It is reportedly aiming to contest in neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.The BJP, meanwhile, has turned its attention to Telangana by deploying its robust party machinery. Party president J P Nadda previously said the BJP’s aim was to dislodge the KCR government and come to power in 2023. State BJP president Bandi Sanjay Kumar is midway through his padayatra that the party claims is “very successful”. Kumar is also expected to be the party’s face in the elections.The BJP won only one seat in the December 2018 Assembly elections but subsequently wrested two seats from the BRS in by-polls. Going ahead, the BJP will reportedly implement a refined version of its campaign in Munugode and also bring in a team associated with the Uttar Pradesh elections to Telangana.The Congress, which has been relegated to the third position, is not likely to make any impact next year due to its simmering internal conflicts. The war between Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief A Revanth Reddy faction and senior Congress leaders is out in the open, warranting mediation from party general secretary Digvijaya Singh.The hope of the state Congress leaders that the goodwill created by party leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra would benefit them seems to be clouded by the tussle within.

Munugode bypoll a precursor, battle between BRS and BJP set to intensify in 2023
Rising costs, shortened House sessions, falling Muslim representation: The highs and lows of politics in 2022
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

From the amount spent on the Assembly elections to the single Muslim MLA in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, here is the story of this year’s major political events via numbers.Rs 344 croreAn analysis by The Indian Express of expenditure reports submitted to the Election Commission by parties showed that the BJP spent over Rs 344.27 crore in the polls held in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand – in February and March. The amount was nearly 58 per cent higher than the Rs 218.26 crore the party spent in these states five years ago. The Congress also recorded a sharp increase in its poll expenditure in the states, with the Rs 194.80 crore spent in 2022 over 80 per cent higher than the Rs 108.14 crore it spent in 2017.Eighth Parliament session cut shortThe Winter Session of Parliament ended prematurely on December 23, after a 13-day run marked by the passage of seven Bills, and protests and walkouts by the Opposition over not being allowed to debate contentious issues, particularly the clash between Indian and Chinese troops at the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh. The session was originally scheduled to end on December 29, after 17 sittings.The previous Monsoon Session of Parliament, held between July 18 and August 8, saw a productivity rate of only 47 per cent and 42 per cent for the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively. The session eventually ended three days before schedule – the seventh consecutive time the Parliament session was cut short – amid protests by the Opposition over issues such as price rise, the Agnipath scheme, and the alleged misuse of central probe agencies by the Centre. The two Houses held 16 sittings each.’40 per cent commission’With the election heat rising in Karnataka, the Congress focused on the Basavaraj Bommai government in the state with a charge of “40 per cent commission” charge. In July 2021, the president of the Karnataka State Contractors’ Association, D Kempanna, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging large-scale corruption in the award and implementation of civil contracts in Karnataka and that contractors were being forced to pay a 40% commission to officials in the BJP government, cutting across departments, for projects. The contractors’ association repeated the claim again a year later.The Opposition seized on the figure, with the Congress launching a series of publicity campaigns targeted at the BJP government. Posters with QR codes and pictures of Bommai stating “PayCM” sprung up across Bengaluru, especially as the Bharat Jodo Yatra made its way through the state. During Bommai’s visit to Telangana that month, banners also appeared in Hyderabad saying, “Welcome to 40 per cent commission CM”.3,500 kmAdvertised as its first “mass-contact programme” in years, the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi is on its way across the country, and by next month, is expected to cover 3,500 km, over 150 days, 12 states and two Union territories. Having covered around 3,000 km over 100 days, the Yatra will next move to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, before wrapping up in Jammu and Kashmir. Since Rahul set off on September 7, the padyatra has made headlines almost every day, with the BJP questioning its claims of fighting hatred and uniting India.50% reservationThis is the Supreme Court-mandated ceiling on the amount of reservations, but at least two states have passed orders this year that breach the limit. The Karnataka Assembly unanimously passed a Bill proposing to increase reservations for Scheduled Castes from 15 to 17 per cent, and Scheduled Tribes from 3 to 7 per cent, ahead of the 2023 polls. The total reservation in the state now stands at 56 per cent. The same month, the K Chandrashekar-led government in Telangana pressed ahead with its promise to increase reservation for Scheduled Tribe communities from 6 to 10 per cent, increasing the total quota in the state to 54%. Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, UP, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh already have over 50 per cent reservation, with Chhattisgarh’s proposal to increase it further stuck right now with the Governor.37 MLAsWhen Eknath Shinde unveiled an unthinkable rebellion in the Shiv Sena against the mighty Thackerays, the biggest question was how would he escape the anti-defection law? In the end, as Shinde camped in Guwahati, under the BJP’s protection, he got as many as 37 MLAs to his side, leaving just 16 with the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction, well past the two-third mark to avoid the anti-defection law. In June, Shinde became the CM of Maharashtra, leading a coalition government with the BJP.21 yearsThe number generated a lot of buzz in political circles for it was this long period that the Congress held its first presidential election. The last time a contest took place for the post of Congress chief was back in 2001, when Jitendra Prasada contested against Sonia Gandhi. Senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge ended up becoming the first non-Gandhi party president in about 24 years this October. The Congress’s slow and protracted build-up to its presidential election became the target of BJP attacks, with the party dismissing the whole thing as “cosmetic and an eyewash”, and saying the Gandhi family continued to retain real power in the party. A BJP spokesperson likened the process to “a Mughal sultanate-style coronation”. Know to nominate its party presidents, the BJP does not have much to boast about either – as some pointed out.25 lakh J&K votersThe Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has not had an elected government since mid-2018. In August, indicating that this might change soon, the Election Commission announced a special summary revision of electoral rolls, with Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar saying that around 25 lakh new voters are expected to be enrolled in the Union Territory. While he clarified that those “ordinarily” residing in J&K and having achieved the age of 18 or above as on October 1 would be included, as was the case in the rest of the country, the figure was enough to create a furore in the Valley, which remains sensitive to attempts to “change its demographics”. “Is the BJP so insecure about support from genuine voters of J&K that it needs to import temporary voters to win seats?” National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted.PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said the government seemed set to delay polls in the UT. She said the “egregious gerrymandering tilting the balance in BJPs favour & now allowing non locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. Real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist to disempower locals”. She also called the change in voter enrolment rules “an extension of the ‘tactical rigging process’ that started with the unconstitutional and illegal delimitation process in J&K”.Over 50 per cent shareIn December, the BJP stormed back to power in Gujarat for the seventh consecutive time winning 156 of the 182 Assembly seats. Its vote share in the 2017 Assembly elections five years ago was 49.05 per cent. Sweeping the state in 2022, in its best performance ever, the party got a 52.50% vote share.As many as 42 Congress candidates and 128 of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) forfeited their deposits. In 19 seats where the BJP won by huge margins, both the Congress and AAP lost their deposits. Such was the scale of the BJP victory that more than 1,200 of the 1,621 candidates in the race lost their deposits.Single Muslim MLAThe only Muslim MLA in the 182-member 15th Gujarat Assembly now is Imran Kheda, the sitting Congress MLA from Ahmedabad’s Jamalpur-Khadia. The Muslim community makes up 9.67 per cent of Gujarat’s population. There were three Muslim MLAs, all from the Congress, in the 14th Gujarat Assembly.Muslim representation in the Lok Sabha is also abysmally low. Currently, there are 26 Muslims among the total 543 MPs in the Lok Sabha – making their representation 4.78 per cent, against 14.7 per cent share in the country’s population. The highest representation of Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha is from the Trinamool Congress, which has five Muslim MPs, followed by the Congress, at 4. The BJP does not have any Muslim MP.

Rising costs, shortened House sessions, falling Muslim representation: The highs and lows of politics in 2022
Kasba Peth bypoll: Tussle within MVA likely if BJP doesn’t field any Tilak family member
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

It isn’t just aspirants in the BJP who are keen to contest in the upcoming bypoll to the Kasba Peth Assembly constituency in Maharashtra’s Pune following the death of sitting party legislator Mukta Tilak, but alliance partners of the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) too are keen to contest the election.Mukta, 57, great granddaughter-in-law of freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, died of cancer on December 22. The former mayor of Pune was elected to the state Legislative Assembly from Kasba Peth, a BJP bastion, in 2019.Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) city spokesperson Rupali Patil Thombare, who is a former Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader from Pune, has publicly expressed her desire to contest the Kasba bypoll if the party asks her to do so. “Mukta Tilak passed away recently due to illness. It is unlikely that anyone from her family would be contesting on a BJP seat and in that case if my party asks me to contest the election then I am prepared to do so,” Rupali said, adding that she was denied ticket by the MNS in 2019 for the Kasba Assembly seat on ground of Mukta’s illness.Her statement has, however, not gone down well within the NCP and Congress. “The demise of Mukta Tilak took place just a few days ago and already discussions have started for the bypoll. This is not the culture of Pune and the state. I have given directions to all NCP party workers and leaders to not discuss it,” said city NCP chief Prashant Jagtap.“It was wrong on her part to make such a statement without discussing it with senior party leaders. This will be conveyed to the party leadership,” said another NCP leader.City Congress chief Arvind Shinde said, “It was the tradition of the state that if a sitting legislator dies and a family member of the deceased legislator contests the bypoll for the seat then the person irrespective of the political party is elected unopposed. If anyone from the Tilak family contests the Kasba seat then I would personally request the party leadership to not put a candidate but the final decision will be of the party.”On the NCP leader expressing wish to contest the Kasba by-election, he said that it was the personal opinion of the leader and not of her party. “In case BJP gives candidature to someone from outside the Tilak family then it is obvious that the Congress will contest it as the seat has always been contested by the party under the alliance seat-sharing arrangement. There is no way the Congress will let the seat be contested by any other alliance partner,” he said.Incidentally, Shinde had contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Kasba and lost to Mukta who had bagged 75,492 votes, while he had received 47,296 votes. “A Shiv Sena rebel had bagged 14,000 votes in Kasba assembly seat in the 2019 elections. Now, the Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray is in alliance with the Congress and NCP as part of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). The situation has changed. The Congress will surely contest it,” Shinde said.Within the BJP, there is a demand to ensure unopposed bypoll for Kasba seat by giving candidature to either Shailesh Tilak, husband of Mukta Tilak, or their son Karan Tilak, However, they have less experience in politics. There are experienced aspirants, including Ganesh Bidkar, Hemant Rasane and Dheeraj Ghate who can be fielded from the constituency.

Kasba Peth bypoll: Tussle within MVA likely if BJP doesn’t field any Tilak family member
  • Will BJP give ticket to aspirants outside Tilak, Bapat families in Kasba Peth bypoll?
  • The Indian Express

    After the demise of sitting legislator Mukta Tilak last week and the elevation of Girish Bapat to Lok Sabha in 2019, the Kasba Peth Assembly constituency in Maharashtra, a BJP bastion, opens up for aspirants outside the Tilak and Bapat families. However, the demand for giving party tickets to Tilak family members has already come up.Tilak, 57, great-granddaughter-in-law of freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, died of cancer on December 22. She served the BJP for 30 years and was elected to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) consecutively four times. She was the former mayor of Pune and was the first from the BJP after the party came to power for the first time in the PMC, in 2017.Bapat, 71, was elevated to Lok Sabha from the Pune seat in 2019, prior to which he was elected to the state Assembly five times consecutively from 1995. He was earlier elected thrice as a corporator in the PMC. The veteran BJP leader has not been not keeping well. He has roped in his daughter-in-law Swarali Bapat, who is also the daughter of BJP leader Neeta Kelkar, into active politics as his son has stayed away from politics.In 2019, Bapat made way for a new party candidate at the Kasba Peth Assembly segment and Tilak was the party’s choice considering the popularity and importance of the Tilak family.“My colleague Mukta Tilak recently passed away. The BJP should give party ticket to her husband Shailesh Tilak or son Karan Tilak in the bypoll for the Kasba assembly seat and all other political parties should support them considering the contribution of the Tilak family in the freedom struggle,” said BJP leader Ujjwal Keskar. Incidentally, Shailesh Tilak has not been active in politics while Karan Tilak has recently started working for the BJP at the local level.There are many other aspirants for the party ticket. Among them are former corporators Ganesh Bidkar, Hemant Rasane and Dheeraj Ghate. Bidkar is a confidant of senior state-level BJP leaders while Rasane was a three-time standing committee chairperson of the BJP. Ghate is known as a staunch Hindutva activist.“Many aspirants in BJP see the present situation as the right and the only time to make their moves to contest the Kasba Assembly seat with the party unlikely to give a ticket to inexperienced members of Tilak or Bapat family,” said a BJP leader, adding it would be the party that would take the final call on candidature.The BJP’s strength was earlier restricted to the central part of the city but increased tremendously in the last few years with the party winning all eight Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in 2014. It consolidated it by coming to power in the PMC for the first time in history in 2017. It also won six Assembly seats and the Pune Lok Sabha seat in 2019.

Sadhvi Pragya’s penchant for controversies: From praise for Godse to remark on Hemant Karkare
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur has set off a major row after, referring to the murder of a Bajarang Dal activist in Shivamogga, she said at an event in Karnataka on Sunday, “Keep weapons in your homes. At least keep the knives used to cut vegetables sharp … Just like how knives cut the vegetables, it will also chop the mouth and heads.”Thakur has run into trouble with her party, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the past over her controversial remarks. In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, after the party fielded her from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, compared Ashok Chakra awardee and former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare with Ravan and Kans and said he was killed during 26/11 Mumbai attacks because he was cursed for arresting her in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blasts case. In a public meeting, Thakur said she had warned Karkare that he would be destroyed and that is exactly what happened.While she was roundly criticised at the time — the Election Commission (EC) sent her a show-cause notice — the BJP distanced itself from the remarks and claimed it had always considered Karkare a martyr. “The BJP considers him a martyr. This is Sadhvi Pragya’s personal statement which she might have given because of the mental and physical torture she had faced,” the party statement read.In a subsequent television interview, PM Modi alleged that the Congress had defamed a “5,000-old culture that believes in Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam”. He said, “They called them terrorists. To answer them all, this is a symbol (fielding Thakur) and it will cost the Congress.”Following the backlash over the Karkare remarks, Thakur withdraw her statement and apologised, saying she was doing so as she felt “the enemies of the country were being benefited from it”.A month later, Thakur triggered another political firestorm when she called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a “desh bhakt”. She said, “Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot, and will remain a patriot… those who call him a terrorist should look within… they will get a reply this election.”As the party disowned the remarks, Modi also slammed Thakur. Responding to a query from the News24 TV channel, he said, “The kind of remarks, statements made about Gandhiji and Godse is horribly wrong (bhayankar kharab). It is hateful, and these should be criticised and condemned in every which way. There is no place for such language, thinking in any civilised society. Those who do such things will have to think a hundred times in future. It’s a different matter that she has apologised, I will not be able to forgive her from my heart.”As leaders such as Anantkumar Hegde and Nalin Kumar Kateel also backed Thakur, then party president Amit Shah warned there would be “action” against the leaders who commented on Godse. “We have decided to issue showcause notices. Once their responses come, disciplinary committee will take a decision … The entire BJP is upset, that’s why prompt action has been taken. Appropriate action will be taken.”Thakur again made comments praising Gode in Parliament in November 2020. When DMK member A Raja, participating in a debate on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, cited Godse’s statement on why he killed the Mahatma, Thakur interrupted and made a remark praising Godse. As the angry Opposition sought an apology from Thakur and BJP members were seen persuading her to sit down. The comment was expunged from Lok Sabha records.As the Opposition kept up the pressure, the party dropped Thakur from a parliamentary committee. Then BJP working president JP Nadda said, “The statement given by MP Pragya Thakur is condemnable. BJP never supports such a statement and we do not support this ideology… We have decided that she will be removed from the consultative committee on defence, and will not be allowed to participate in the parliamentary party meetings this session.”

Sadhvi Pragya’s penchant for controversies: From praise for Godse to remark on Hemant Karkare
21-year-old medical student wins sarpanch election in Maharashtra on return from Georgia
The Economic Times | 1 month ago | |
The Economic Times
1 month ago | |

Yashodhara Shinde, 21, aspired to become a doctor and was pursuing the medical course in Georgia, but fate had something else in store for her as she returned to her village in Maharashtra, contested the sarpanch election and won it too. She now plans to work for the betterment of her village Vaddi in Miraj tehsil of Sangli district and also complete her education online. Talking to PTI, Shinde said she wants to make women self-reliant, introduce e-learning and other education tools for students, help children adopt good health habits, contribute towards the betterment of youth's aspirations and welfare of the farmers' community in the village. "I have been pursuing the MBBS course at the New Vision University in Georgia. Currently, I am in the 4th year and one-and-a-half years of the course is still left to be completed," she said. "When elections were announced in my village, locals wanted someone from our family to contest for the sarpanch's (village head) post. A decision was taken to field me for the position. I got a call from my family and I returned, contested the election and won," said Shinde. Voting for 7,682 gram panchayats in parts of Maharashtra was held on December 18. The results were declared on Tuesday. Asked about her plans as sarpanch for the development of the village, Shinde said her main focus will be to address the issues of women and make them stand on their feet. "I am of the opinion that women must get an equal chance to show what they are capable of and I would like to make them educated and independent and not rely on their male counterparts," she said. Her priority list also includes the welfare of children and their education. "I would like to expose them to e-learning and the latest pedagogies," Shinde said. "I would also like to work towards the construction of toilets in the village and facilitate easy availability of sanitary napkins for girls and women. Also, children need to adopt good health habits," she said. Shinde also said she will work with the youth on the development agenda of the village. "In the village, 70 to 80 per cent of the population is into agriculture and I would like to work for their sustainable development," she said. Asked about her medical course and how she wishes to pursue it, Shinde said she will complete her education online and her friends will also help her in the studies.

21-year-old medical student wins sarpanch election in Maharashtra on return from Georgia
Maharashtra Civic Body Polls: BJP, Other Parties Claim Big Victories
Ndtv | 1 month ago | |
Ndtv
1 month ago | |

Maharashtra Civic Body Polls: Voting for 7,682 Gram Panchayats was held on December 18.Nagpur:  The ruling BJP and other parties on Tuesday separately claimed to have won maximum Gram Panchayats in Maharashtra in the maiden local body polls conducted after the alliance government led by Eknath Shinde came to power in June this year.Similar claims of victory were made by the faction led by Chief Minister Shinde, Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party, the Congress, and the Uddhav Thackeray faction, even though the elections were not contested as per party affiliations.Voting for 7,682 Gram Panchayats was held on December 18. The results were declared on Tuesday. The Bharatiya Janata Party stated the candidates backed by the party have won 2,482 seats, while the Shinde faction claimed victory in 842 seats.The NCP claimed to have won 1,215 seats while the Congress said the highest number of more than 900 sarpanchs were elected from that party alone. The Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) faction said it bagged 639 seats.Maharashtra State Election Commission (MSEC), however, said as the elections were contested by panels (comprising groups of candidates irrespective of political affiliations), the commission does not provide data suggesting the number of villages or seats won by any particular party."Voting took place for 7,682 Gram Panchayats which were supposed to elect 65,996 members. 14,028 members got elected unopposed for various local reasons."Out of 7,619 villages in the state, the election of Sarpanchs (village head) was unopposed in 699 villages. However, no application was filed for the post of Sarpanch in 63 Gram Panchayats," the MSEC said in a statement.After the results were declared, incidents of clashes were reported from Aurangabad and other parts of the state.In Jalgaon district in north Maharashtra, the brother of a winning candidate in Jamner taluka died of a cardiac arrest amid stone pelting between two local factions of BJP, police said."One Dhanraj Mali, the brother of the winning candidate in Takli Kurd village, was present when stone pelting started. He felt unconscious and died due to cardiac arrest. There were no injury marks on his body," said M Rajkumar, Superintendent of Police, Jalgaon district.Earlier in the day, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule had termed the poll outcome a "historic" win for the party, which he said showed that rural Maharashtra trusted the Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government."The entire state is getting saffronised. It is a historic win for the BJP," he told reporters in Nagpur.State Congress chief Nana Patole, however, accused the BJP of indulging in false propaganda about the election results."The highest number of more than 900 sarpanchs were elected from the Congress alone and the number of sarpanch seats won by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is far more than the BJP," he said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comLeader of Opposition in the Legislative Council and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Ambadas Danve said a large number of sarpanchs from his faction were being elected.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DaySrinagar Records -4.2 Degrees, 40-Day Intense Cold Spell Begins

Maharashtra Civic Body Polls: BJP, Other Parties Claim Big Victories
  • BJP claims big win in Maharashtra gram panchayat polls, MVA says it will be clear today
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: BJP claimed to have won 32% of the 7,682 gram panchayats across the state that went to polls on Sunday. It said BJP-Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena alliance won nearly 43% of gram panchayats. On the other hand, opposition MVA, too, claimed to have most gram panchayats.The elections are contested by individuals and not as members of political outfits, though many are affiliated to parties. Hence, the rival claims on the seats won. According to BJP, it has won 2,482 gram panchayats and the Shinde faction 842.Congress claimed to have won 900. NCP state president Jayant Patil said his party has won 1,300 and MVA total 2,651. He said the picture would be clear on Wednesday when the tally for 7,751 gram panchayats-in 69 winners were elected unopposed- will be released.BJP rejects MVA claim of big win in gram panchayat pollsContesting MVA's claim of a big win in the gram panchayat elections, BJP said Congress had won 809, NC,287 and Shiv Sena (UBT) 639 seats with others securing 1,135.In Nagpur district, Congress said it had emerged the winner in 200 of 236 seats.The State Election Commission (SEC) had announced elections to 7,751 gram panchayats. However, in the case of 69, members were elected unopposed. Hence, only 7,682 went to polls Sunday.The SEC announced the results for all 65,916 gram panchayat seats, of which 14,028 saw members elected unopposed. Direct elections were also held for the post of sarpanch. In polls conducted for 7,619 sarpanch posts, 699 were elected unopposed. Sixty-three gram panchayats saw no nominations filed for the post of sarpanch.Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said BJP had once again proved it is the No. 1 party in the state. "No matter how many parties come together, the results are already decided. Our thumping victory proves who was the illegitimate government. First, it was the courts that said this is a legitimate government and now the people have endorsed it," he said. Terming the results as "historic", BJP state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule claimed that it showed rural Maharashtra trusted the new government. "The entire state is getting saffronised," he said.CM Eknath Shinde said while the opposition had criticised his regime for doing little for farmers, it was his government's pro-farmer decisions that reflected in the gram panchayat elections.State Congress chief Nana Patole dismissed the saffron leaders' claims as hollow, saying the BJP had lost in Fetari village adopted by it and in the hometown of Bawankule. "The electorate in rural parts have outrightly rejected the BJP-Shinde alliance,'' he said.According to Patole, the performance of the Congress and its allies was impressive. "The elections have once again established the Congress is firm position in rural areas. In Nagpur, the hometown of Fadnavis and Bawankule, they could not secure more than 36 seats, while the remaining 200 seats were captured by the Congress,'' he said, claiming the BJP's downfall had started from the legislative council polls, in which it lost the Nagpur seat to the Congress nominee.AAP retained Kawalewadi (Osmanabad), Siddhanath (Nanded) and Sarola (Aurangabad) gram panchayats.Meanwhile, in Jalgaon, the brother of a victorious candidate died of a cardiac arrest amid stone-pelting between two BJP factions.

  • BJP raises target of 'difficult' Lok Sabha seats in Bihar & Maharashtra
  • The Economic Times

    The BJP has raised its target of "difficult" Lok Sabha seats across the country that the party will seek to win in the 2024 general election to 160 from 144, increasing the number of such constituencies in Bihar and Maharashtra in the changed political scenario.The party is organising a two-day training programme in Patna from Wednesday for the party's vistaraks or full-time workers in 100 Lok Sabha seats. BJP general secretary (organisation) BL Santosh, general secretaries Sunil Bansal and Vinod Tawde, joint general secretary Shiv Prakash and Bihar co-incharge Harish Dwivedi will address the workers during the programme. Party president JP Nadda will address the workers virtually from Delhi. The vistaraks are stationed in the region and they work on developing a grassroots party network.In its first list of 144 Lok Sabha seats, the party had identified four seats from Bihar - Nawada, Vaishali, Valmiki Nagar and Kishanganj. Now, after the JDU broke away from the NDA and joined the Grand Alliance, the party believes there are six more such seats - Katihar, Supaul, Munger, Jhanjharpur, Gaya and Purnia.In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP and chief minister Nitish Kumar-led JDU contested 17 seats each in Bihar. While the BJP won all of them, the JDU also emerged victorious in all but one constituency. The six remaining seats were won by another BJP ally, Lok Janshakti Party, then headed by Ram Vilas Paswan.Similarly, the party feels that in the wake of Maha Vikas Aghadi planning to contest together, ten more seats in Maharashtra should feature in its "difficult" list.A similar training programme for the vistaraks of the remaining 60 Lok Sabha seats will be organised in Hyderabad from December 28. It will also kick-start the second phase of the party's outreach and expansion programme in these Lok Sabha seats. Just as in the first phase, the party will deploy Union ministers to stay overnight in the identified Lok Sabha seats.

  • BJP claims big win in Maharashtra rural polls
  • The Economic Times

    The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday claimed it had won 2,482 seats out of the 7,751 gram panchayat seats in Maharashtra. The results also led to violence in a few parts of the state with at least one death, of a BJP worker, reported in Jalgaon.The Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde claimed it has won in 842 gram panchayats and said the results showed that the 'opposition campaign that portrayed the government as anti-farmer has not worked'. "Our government is committed to working for the farmers and we have initiated many schemes for them and the poor and this can be seen from the results," said a leader from the Shinde faction.There were several high profile candidates in the fray with Bhavani Patil, daughter of Gujarat BJP Chief CR Patil, in the fray in the Mohadi gram panchayat in Jalgaon. While Bhavani won, her panel lost.Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray said that the results of the gram panchayat elections cannot be attributed to any party as the elections were not contested in any party symbol and the elections to the gram panchayat were held on local factors.Amid claims and counterclaims by parties, the results show the which party is stronger on the ground with the BJP winning in more than 2,000 gram panchayats, followed by the Nationalist Congress party in 1219. The Uddhav Thackeray group of the Shiv Sena has won in 639, while the Congress has emerged victorious in 869 gram panchayats.The BJP claimed the results show it has immense grassroots support even though the elections are not fought on party symbols. The parties support local candidanot just to control the gram panchayats, but also to shore up their party base."We have very good results in the gram panchayat results and the two parties BJP and Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde group) have performed well in every corner of the state. In all, we both have got our sarpanches in 3,029 gram panchayats. This shows the people of the state are happy with our performance and like our work. I would like to thank the people of the state for expressing confidence in our rule," said a BJP leader.

AAP wins Maharashtra’s Osmanabad village sarpanch post second time in a row
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

AURANGABAD: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) bagged the sarpanch seat in the Kawlewadi gram panchayat of Osmanabad district for the second time in a row.Advocate Ajit Khot, who is AAP's Marathwada region coordinator, became the sarpanch by winning the elections with a narrow margin of 18 votes. In the previous term, the sarpanch post was held by Khot's wife, Jyoti, who successfully completed her five-year term in the gram panchayat.Kawlewadi is a small village with 889 votes. During the gram panchayat elections concluded on Sunday, 784 votes were cast and advocate Khot bagged 384 of them.In the gram panchayat comprising seven members, three members contesting on the AAP panel have won the elections. Four members were elected from the rival panels supported by other political parties.Following his win, Khot said he aims to make Kawlewadi a model village in terms of education and health facilities. "Once we start delivering on the development front, other sarpanches, and gram panchayats of neighbouring villages too, will be compelled to deliver. Eventually, instead of people's attention being diverted through non-issues, everyone will start discussing the core issues," said Khot, who is a practising lawyer.Local residents maintained that Khot's track record of taking up social issues and raising his voice for the common man have helped him win despite bigwigs from other political parties making it a prestige issue to get their respective candidates elected against Khot.BJP claims most wins in MarathwadaThe results of gram panchayat election declared on Tuesday sprang a surprise for many bigwigs across the eight districts of the Marathwada region.Mumbai agriculture produce market committee's chairman Ashok Dak, who contested from Majalgaon in Beed district, lost the election. At the same time, horticulture minister Sandipan Bhumare's daughter Prerna Pratpsinh Pandit contested and won the post of sarpanch on the NCP's panel from Daithan in Gevrai tehsil of Beed. In Nanded, Rajshri Gotmulke, a woman labourer working as sugar cane cutter has won the sarpanch elections from Palshi village in Loha of Nanded district. In Hingoli, 21-year-old woman Sonu Rathod has won the elections is being claimed to be the youngest sarpanch in the region. Overall, the BJP has claimed that the panels it supported and candidates have won in 721 gram panchayats, the highest in the region. Elections for 2,073 gram panchayats were held across eight districts of Marathwada. NCP claimed win in 452 gram panchayats, followed by 229 by Congress, 161 by Shiv Sena (UBT) and 123 by the Eknath Shinde camp in the region. The remaining 203 gram panchayats have either abstained from directly associating themselves with any political party or have preferred gone with the name of the panels formed at the village-level. One incident of stone pelting was reported during counting of votes in Parbhani town after members of rival groups came face to face. In another incident, police had to resort to use of force for controlling the crowd that had turned violent in Purna of Parbhani district. In Gangapur tehsil, an incident of stone pelting took place between supporters of winning as well as losing candidates, forcing the police to intervene.In Bidkin and Adul gram panchayats falling under Paithan assembly constituency, the stronghold of Bhumare have been won by members of Thackeray camp.

AAP wins Maharashtra’s Osmanabad village sarpanch post second time in a row
BJP claims huge win in Maharashtra gram panchayat elections, Congress says false propaganda
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

NAGPUR: President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Maharashtra unit, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, on Tuesday, claimed that the party had won more than 3,500 seats in gram panchayat election polls in the state while those supported by the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena won more than 1,000 seats.The Congress dismissed the BJP's claim as "false propaganda" and said the highest number of more than 900 sarpanchs were elected from the Congress alone. A Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader said a large number of sarpanchs (village heads) from the Thackeray-led faction were being elected. At least 7,751 gram panchayats in Maharashtra went to polls on December 18. The results will be declared on Tuesday. Gram Panchayat elections are generally not contested based on affiliation to political parties. Speaking to reporters outside the Vidhan Bhavan complex here, Bawankule claimed as per the latest trends, BJP-backed candidates have won in more than 3,500 seats and those supported by the Sena faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde were winning in more than 1,000 seats. The results indicate the confidence people in rural Maharashtra have in the Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government. The entire state is getting "saffronised" and it is a historic win for the BJP, he said. State Congress chief Nana Patole, however, accused the BJP of indulging in false propaganda about the election results. "The highest number of more than 900 sarpanchs were elected from the Congress alone and the number of sarpanch seats won by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is far more than the BJP," he said. The Congress leader further challenged the BJP to present the exact figures of Nagpur district, where he claimed his party had won more than 200 sarpanch seats. Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Ambadas Danve said a large number of sarpanchs from his faction were being elected. Though full results have not been announced yet, certain parties were claiming huge wins, he said, adding that the results will come out after 3pm and the Shiv Sena will brief after that. (With inputs from PTI)

BJP claims huge win in Maharashtra gram panchayat elections, Congress says false propaganda
EVM button tampered with using adhesive in Maharashtra’s Beed district
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

AURANGABAD: In a case of polling malpractice, the EVM button to vote for one of the gram panchayat poll candidates was blocked using an adhesive at the Limbaganesh village of Beed district, around 150 km from here, on Sunday. The incident stalled the voting process for a brief period before the election authorities replaced the EVM with another one. The EVM button, in front of the name of Ganesh Wani — who was contesting for the post of sarpanch — was found inoperational by a voter due to the adhesive blocking it. Wani, who was contesting from a BJP-supported panel, said the voter concerned informed him about his opponent’s alleged foul play. He then approached the election authorities for immediate action. “It was a planned conspiracy by my opponents to tamper with the EVM unit by manipulating the button against my name. The issue came to our notice at 12.30 pm, and we immediately demanded that the local poll officials stall the voting process until corrective measures are taken,” he said. The news of the voting process being halted spread in Limbaganesh village, prompting many local residents to visit the poll booth in question. Amid the chaos, the election authorities replaced the EVM unit with another one to resume voting. Beed tehsildar Suhas Hajare said the person who put adhesive on the EVM button could not be identified till evening. “The tiny tube of adhesive would have been easy to hide and carry. The polling booth workers failed to notice it. There was no need for repolling as the EVM unit was replaced immediately after the tampering was detected,” he said, adding that all candidates, including Wani, were satisfied with the arrangement. Meanwhile, barring sporadic incidents of skirmishes, polling for the 216 gram panchayats in Aurangabad district took place in a peaceful manner on Sunday.

EVM button tampered with using adhesive in Maharashtra’s Beed district
Maharashtra among 5 states with max photo-similar entries
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

PUNE: Five states, including Maharashtra, have registered maximum photo-similar entries, according to a recent report of the Election Commission of India (ECI). Overall, the country registered 2.78 cr such entries, it stated. Uttar Pradesh leads the tally with 48.67 lakh photo-similar entries (PSEs), followed by Bihar (32.48 lakh), Tamil Nadu (30.66 lakh), Maharashtra (29.09 lakh) and Karnataka (25.25 lakh), stated the recent report. Analysing photo-similar entries is a mechanism adopted by the Election Commission of India (EC) to weed out multiple EPIC cards with photos of the same person. The ECI has accorded high priority to purification of electoral roll and this was taken up for discussion with all state election officials on Friday. "With 2.78 cr similar photographic entries in the electoral rolls across all states, the ECI has directed the state election officials to take corrective action to ensure a clean voter list when the final electoral roll is published on January 5, 2023. However, some states with a high volume of such entries will be required to finish this task in a time-bound manner, preferably within the next three months,'' said officials from the ECI office. The data states that 1,371 photo-similar entries have appeared ten times in the voter roll, while over 1.22 cr photo-similar entries have appeared twice in the electoral rolls of 36 states and Union territories. Currently, the country has 94 cr voters, and the effort is to ensure that these duplicate names are deleted, said an official who was part of the discussion. With the drive to ensure a clean voter roll, state election officials have been directed to ensure that these PSEs are checked by booth level officers during field visits before deleting the names after the due process, When chief electoral officer, Maharashtra, published the draft electoral rolls on November 9 as part of the current Special Summary Revision 2023, the state found 34 clusters with similar photo entries with ten records each, while about 65 clusters were with nine records each. About 12.94 lakh clusters with similar photos were found with two records each in the electoral roll. State chief electoral officer Shrikant Deshpande said that the ECI software has been able to identify duplicate photo entries across all assembly constituencies. "With 29 lakh photo-similar entries across the state, we have been able to identify names that have reflected ten times in the electoral roll. With the maximum PSEs reflecting twice on electoral roll, work has been initiated to ensure a clean electoral roll, with the coordination of BLOs," he said. The EROs (electoral registration officers) will be able to delete duplicate entries based on BLO verification reports. If there are any contradicting reports then a special hearing will be given by the EROs to ascertain which entry or entries are to be deleted, he added. "Deletion of entries has to be done cautiously following all due procedures. So, we would take at least three months to complete the exercise," he added.

Maharashtra among 5 states with max photo-similar entries
Indian-origin Dr. Leo Varadkar to return as Ireland PM for second term
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

Leo Varadkar will become Ireland’s prime minister for a second time this weekend under a coalition deal struck after the 2020 election.Many things have changed since Varadkar left the office in June of that year during the initial onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some issues — such as the fallout from Brexit and the pressure on housing — will be more familiar.The Fine Gael leader will take over the position from Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin for the second half of a parliamentary term shared between two historic rivals with support from the Greens.Issues surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol — the part of the Brexit treaty which Varadkar negotiated in 2019 to keep the region within the European Union’s customs block — remain unresolved, though there have been reports of positive progress and talks have recently intensified. It is expected that Varadkar will speak to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at an early opportunity on the matter.Varadkar, who has served as deputy prime minister under Martin, returns to the helm as the country grapples with a cost-of-living crisis and high energy bills, exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Meanwhile, an influx of refugees has amplified concern about an increasingly acute housing crisis.Housing will be one of the reshuffled government’s major policy priorities as it looks to deliver progress ahead of an election due by March 2025. The shortage of homes has been building up for a decade and with forecasts showing a decline in new construction next year one of Varadkar’s first pieces of legislation will be a planning bill.To make matters worse, the number of private landlords exiting the market doubled in the second quarter from a year earlier, as rising property prices, rent caps and the prospect of higher mortgage payments made it increasingly unattractive to let.At the start of August, there were just over 700 rental properties available in the whole of Ireland on popular listings website daft.ie — a fifth of the average from 2015-2019.Issues such as housing and transport are raised consistently by company executives looking to invest in the country, Varadkar said at an event in Dublin this week.“Investing in infrastructure will be one of the major priorities over the course of the next two years,” he said.Beyond the top job, cabinet changes on Saturday are expected to limited.“It really is a case of wanting to keep the ship steady,” said Mary Murphy, a senior lecturer in politics at University College Cork. It makes sense that he would want to do that “amid a backdrop of crisis,” she added.In a recent poll, 48% of respondents said the government was handling the overall running of the country well.A lot will hinge on the destination of the outgoing prime minister. The foreign ministry has been touted as one possibility for Martin. That would mean the incumbent, Simon Coveney, taking Varadkar’s previous position in the department of enterprise.What is already known is that Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will swap roles with the minister for public spending, Michael McGrath, under a long-standing agreement between their respective parties.Donohoe leaves Ireland’s finances in a position of relative strength with a strong government surplus expected for the year. Even so, growth is expected to slow significantly next year amid high inflation and weaker business and consumer sentiment.The new government is unlikely to deliver any significant change in economic policy, despite Donohoe and McGrath coming from different parties, according to Goodbody Chief Economist Dermot O’Leary.“It feels like it’s continuity,” he said. “Because the two ministers have worked so closely over the last number of years in pretty extraordinary times from a fiscal-policy setting point of view — and they’ve come out of it at the other end in arguably the best physical position of any country in Europe — it’s going to be perceived as another safe pair of hands.”

Indian-origin Dr. Leo Varadkar to return as Ireland PM for second term
Delhi HC disposes Uddhav’s plea on Sena name, symbol
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

The Delhi High Court on Friday disposed of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s plea against a single judge order that dismissed his petition challenging the Election Commission of India (ECI)’s decision to freeze claim over “Shiv Sena” party name and the “bow and arrow” symbol.The court said the ECI is “free to proceed with the adjudication of the dispute” and will proceed in accordance with the procedure followed by it.Thackeray and Eknath Shinde factions of the Shiv Sena approached the ECI with a claim on the party name and symbol, but the election panel in its October 8 interim order restrained both factions from using those until a decision was taken.On November 15, a single-judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula dismissed Thackeray’s plea and further directed the ECI to decide the issue in an “expeditious manner”. The single judge had also observed that expeditious disposal of the issue would be in the interest of the parties as well as the public, noting that there was no “interdict” on the matter by the Supreme Court. The single judge further said the objection to the maintainability of the petition will be examined by the ECI on its own merits while reaching a final decision.A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad had heard the parties argue at length on Thursday, where senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Thackeray, submitted his grievance with respect to the observations made by the single judge in its order. The single judge had said that Thackeray had raised a jurisdictional objection regarding maintainability of the dispute petition before the ECI, and the “court is confident that the same would be examined on its own merits by ECI while rendering the final decision, notwithstanding the lack of trust exhibited by the petitioner”.Thackeray had filed an application before the ECI raising two preliminary objections — whether there is any split in the political party (Shiv Sena) and whether the dispute petition can be maintained at the behest of a person (Shinde) who has given up membership of the party and incurred disqualification under Xth Schedule of the Constitution.The division bench noted Sibal’s contention that the observation of the single judge will “virtually inhibit the ECI from taking up” Thackeray’s application before disposing of the matter finally.Without going into the factual issues, the division bench said the two preliminary issues raised by Thackeray in his application before the ECI were pending before the Supreme Court, “yet the apex court… has held that there shall be no stay on the proceedings before the ECI”. “Therefore, the ECI is free to proceed with the adjudication of the dispute pending before it,” the HC noted.Disposing Thackeray’s appeal, the HC said: “It is needless to state that the ECI will proceed in accordance with the procedure followed by the commission…”.

Delhi HC disposes Uddhav’s plea on Sena name, symbol
  • Freeze on Shiv Sena name, symbol: Poll body will act in accordance with procedure, says Delhi HC
  • The Indian Express

    While disposing of former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray’s appeal against an order of the single judge of the HC, which dismissed his plea challenging the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) decision to freeze claim over the ‘Shiv Sena’ party name and the ‘bow and arrow’ symbol, the Delhi High Court said on Friday that poll body will proceed in accordance with the procedure followed by it.The Thackeray and Eknath Shinde factions of the Shiv Sena approached the ECI with a claim on the party name ‘Shiv Sena’ and the ‘bow and arrow’ symbol but the election panel in its October 8 interim order restrained both factions from using the party name and the symbol until a decision was taken.On November 15, a single-judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula dismissed Thackeray’s plea and further directed the ECI to decide the issue in an “expeditious manner”. The single judge had also observed that expeditious disposal of the issue would be in the interest of the parties as well as the public, noting that there was no “interdict” on the matter by the Supreme Court. The single judge further said that the objection to the maintainability of the petition will be examined by the ECI on its own merits while reaching a final decision.A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad had heard the parties argue at length on Thursday, where senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Thackeray submitted his grievance with respect to the observations made by the single judge in its order. The single judge had said Thackeray had raised a jurisdictional objection regarding the maintainability of the dispute petition before the ECI, and the “Court is confident that the same would be examined on its own merits by ECI while rendering the final decision, notwithstanding the lack of trust exhibited by the Petitioner”.Thackeray had filed an application before the ECI raising two preliminary objections – whether there is any split in the political party i.e. Shiv Sena and whether the dispute petition can be maintained at the behest of a person (Eknath Shinde) who has given up membership of the party and incurred disqualification under Xth Schedule of the Constitution of India.The division bench noted Sibal’s contention that the observation of the single judge will “virtually inhibit the Election Commission of India from taking up” Thackeray’s application before disposing of the matter finally.Without going into the factual issues, the division bench said the two preliminary issues raised by Thackeray in its application before the ECI were pending before the Supreme Court, “yet the Apex Court vide Order dated 27.09.2022 in IA Nos.101776-77/2022 has held that there shall be no stay on the proceedings before the Election Commission of India”. “Therefore, the Election Commission of India is free to proceed with the adjudication of the dispute pending before it,” the HC noted.Disposing of Thackeray’s appeal the division bench said, “It is needless to state that the Election Commission of India will proceed in accordance with the procedure followed by the Commission while adjudicating a petition under Para 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. In view of the above, no further Orders are required to be passed in this appeal”.The appeal contended that the issue of maintainability being a preliminary issue ought to have been decided at the preliminary stage, and the single judge could not have directed ECI to decide the objection on non-maintainability of the petition along with the main petition, which would render a final decision.The appeal further said the single judge failed to appreciate that the question of Shinde’s disqualification is still pending before the Supreme Court and ECI action is premised on an underlying assumption that the apex court will decide in Shinde’s favour.

  • Party name, poll symbol freeze: Uddhav moves Delhi HC challenging dismissal of plea against EC move
  • The Indian Express

    Former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has moved the Delhi High Court against the order of a single judge bench that dismissed his plea against the Election Commission of India’s decision to freeze the “Shiv Sena” party name and “bow and arrow” symbol, which he had laid claim on.Thackeray and Eknath Shinde’s factions approached the ECI with claim on party name ‘Shiv Sena’ and the ‘bow and arrow’ symbol but the election panel in its October 8 interim order restrained both factions from using the party name and the symbol until a decision was taken.On November 15, a single judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula dismissed Thackeray’s plea and further directed the ECI to decide the issue in an “expeditious manner”. The HC also observed that an expeditious disposal of the issue would be in the interest of the parties as well as the public, noting that there was no “interdict” on the matter by the Supreme Court. The single judge further said that the objection on maintainability of the petition will be examined by the ECI on its own merits while reaching a final decision.Thackeray’s appeal states that the single judge failed to appreciate that the ECI’s order is “patently illegal, without jurisdiction and unsustainable, both in law and on facts”.The appeal further states that the issue of maintainability being a preliminary issue ought to have been decided at the preliminary stage, and the single judge could not have directed ECI to decide the objection on non-maintainability of the petition along with the main petition, which would render a final decision.The appeal further states that the single judge failed to appreciate that the question of Shinde’s disqualification is still pending before the Supreme Court and ECI’s action is premised on an underlying assumption that the apex court will decide in Shinde’s favour.The single judge had also observed that the ECI passed the freezing order after taking note of the urgency with respect to allotment of symbol as the by-election schedule had been announced. The judge further said that after Thackeray repeatedly sought time before the ECI for furnishing necessary documents, he cannot now allege violation of principles of natural justice and criticise the poll panel.To counter this, the appeal states that the requests for time were made in view of the fact that the ECI’s counsel had agreed for extension of time before the Supreme Court and the apex court had granted liberty to Thackeray to seek time.The appeal is likely to be listed on December 15.

Council chairperson election unlikely this winter session
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

With 21 MLC seats vacant in a 78-member Maharashtra legislative council, the ruling alliance is unlikely to hold the election for the vacant post of the chairperson in the winter session of the state legislature set to begin from December 19 in Nagpur.The post fell vacant after the end of six-year tenure of NCP Member of Legislative Council (MLC) Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar earlier this month.According to sources within the ruling Eknath Shinde-led Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), any decision on holding the election for the post will be taken only if the ruling side sees a possibility of achieving majority mark.When contacted, deputy chairperson Neelam Gorhe, who is from Shiv Sena (UBT), told The Indian Express: “I cannot comment on whether the election will be held or not. It is me who will conduct the election if announced, so it is not wise for me to comment (on the matter).”A BJP leader from the state council, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Unlike assembly, none of the 11 MLCs of the Sena have officially defected to the Shinde faction following his rebellion against the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government. With 21 seats vacant, despite us (BJP) having 22 MLCs, it will be analysed how many more votes we can manage.”As per the official website of the state legislature, even the party wise division of present MLCs does not mention two Senas with all 11 members being shown as belonging to one Shiv Sena only. Ambadas Danve is the Leader of Opposition in the state council.Sources within the legislature said that with 57 members in council, majority mark will come down to 24 in case of election. Opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has nine MLCs while the Congress has eight. At present, the MVA has majority on paper to win the chairperson post election, if announced.Leader of the House and state’s deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis did not comment when asked whether the ruling side was planning to hold the election for the post.Out of 21 vacant seats, 12 are of nominated members. The appointment of these MLCs was delayed for more than one-and-a-half years after governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari refused to accept the proposed names by the previous MVA government. After the MVA government was overthrown earlier this year, Shinde withdrew the nominations of those 12 names. The Supreme Court, however, in September 2022, directed the state government not to take any decision with respect to the appointment of 12 MLC names.

Council chairperson election unlikely this winter session
100 days of Bharat Jodo Yatra: Controversies, Rahul’s philosophical musings, and a lot of walking
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

The Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra completed 100 days on Friday. To mark the occasion, the party is set to organise a concert in Jaipur where singer Sunidhi Chauhan will perform.The yatra covering 12 states started on September 7 from Kanyakumari and will conclude next month in Srinagar. The estimated 3,500-kilometre distance will be covered in 150 days. At present, the Yatris are in Rajasthan after having covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.Here is how the yatra has panned out till now:Tamil Nadu (September 7)Before kickstarting the march, Rahul Gandhi paid tributes at his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial in Sriperumbudur in the state. He then launched the yatra and took on the BJP on its patriotism pitch — the party had introduced its Har Ghar Tiranga the month before — accusing it and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of treating the Tricolour as their “personal property, and arguing that the national flag does not belong to any particular religion. “It is not enough to just salute the flag, it is important to defend the ideas and values behind the flag,” he said.Gandhi received the national flag from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin at the Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam in Kanyakumari. Stalin tweeted: “Today, my brother @RahulGandhi has begun a journey to retrieve India’s soul, to uphold the lofty ideals of our republic and to unite our country’s people with love.”Kerala (September 10)The Kerala leg of the Yatra made news throughout the 18 days it was in the coastal state, with the BJP and the CPI(M) launching attacks. From criticism of the yatra route to hitting out at the use of Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar’s photo in a banner, the foot march consistently drew the ire of the Congress’s rivals.But for the party, which is now in the Opposition in Kerala for the second straight term, the yatra helped put aside the factionalism in the state unit, rev up its organisational machinery, and mobilise workers in large numbers.Karnataka (September 30)Much was at stake as the Yatra entered Karnataka. The party is in a position to return to power in next year’s Assembly elections in the state, but the party is also fractured and threatened by factionalism. Leading up to the yatra, there were reports of a divide between former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief DK Shivakumar who are both said to be nursing chief ministerial ambitions.The leaders did put up a united front, at least on the face of it. Former party president Sonia Gandhi joined the yatra in Mysuru. Family members of Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh who was killed in 2017 walked along with Rahul.Rahul Gandhi and 39 other Congress delegates voted for the Congress presidential polls on October 17 during this leg of the yatra.Andhra Pradesh (October 20)Between October 18 and October 21, the yatra traversed through Andhra Pradesh, which shares its border with Karnataka.The state had once been its stronghold under Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR. But 2009 was the last time the party either won an MLA or MP election in the state. For eight years now, the Congress has been waiting for some good news in Andhra Pradesh. The sentiment from the yatra’s run here was that notwithstanding the good crowds drawn by the Yatra, the Congress has a lot of ground to cover in the state that is now run by YSR’s son YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.Telangana (October 23)In Telangana for 13 days, the Yatra passed through 19 Assembly segments and seven parliamentary constituencies, including Hyderabad. Party leaders also hoped its chances in the high-stakes Munugode by-election would be bolstered with Rahul being in the state. The party, however, lost the election.Maharashtra (November 5)Proceeding to Maharashtra next, where the Yatris covered five districts and 280 km in 14 days, Rahul Gandhi drew backlash from the BJP and the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena when he attacked Savarkar. Congress ally Uddhav Thackeray also publicly disagreed with Gandhi’s remarks.During this leg, Rahul also criticised the RSS for using the term “vanvasis (forest residents)” for “Adivasis (indigenous people)”.Another image from the Yatra that triggered a row was that of social activist Medha Patkar walking along with Rahul. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders turned it into a poll issue during the campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections, claiming Patkar was a major figure who was against the Sardar Sarovar Dam project and by extension “anti-development”.Madhya Pradesh (November 20)After Maharashtra, Rahul took a two-day break to campaign in Gujarat that went to polls on December 1 and 5. He then proceeded to Madhya Pradesh, the first Hindi heartland state where the Yatra entered. Rahul also offered prayers at the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain and attacked the BJP government saying that it disrespects those who toil hard such as workers, farmers and small businessmen — the real “tapasvis” akin to Hindu gods Shiva, Rama, and Krishna.During a part of the Yatra in this leg, Rahul was joined by his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, brother-in-law Robert Vadra and nephew Raihan.At a press conference, Rahul turned philosophical and said “he had let go of Rahul Gandhi many years ago”. When asked about his learnings from the Yatra at a press conference, he said, “Rahul Gandhi ko maine bohot saalon pehle chhod diya. Rahul Gandhi aapke dimag main hai, mere dimag main hai hi nahin. (I let go of Rahul Gandhi years ago. Rahul Gandhi is in your mind, not mine). Try and understand, this is our country’s philosophy.”Rajasthan (December 4)As the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Rajasthan, the big question on everyone’s mind was: Will the truce between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former deputy CM Sachin Pilot, who have been at loggerheads for the past three years, hold? The two had appeared in public ahead of the Yatra’s entry into the state, claiming the party was united.The news of the loss in the Gujarat Assembly polls and victory in the Himachal Pradesh elections came during this leg.The yatra will head to Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab next.

100 days of Bharat Jodo Yatra: Controversies, Rahul’s philosophical musings, and a lot of walking
  • Keeping ears to the ground, Bharat Jodo Yatra sets foot on hundredth day
  • The Indian Express

    Friday marks the 100 days since Congress started its 3,570-km long Bharat Jodo Yatra. The yatra began on September 7 from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and is scheduled to culminate in Jammu and Kashmir. On the 100th day, the Yatra’s torchbearer and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, was joined by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, his deputy Mukesh Agnihotri and the Congress chief in the hill state Pratibha Singh.The Congress claims the walk aims to bring the nation together, strengthen it and address social polarisation. Over the past 100 days, the Yatra kept making a number of headlines as it traversed through Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Through the walk, Rahul has garnered support of people from diverse backgrounds — IT professionals, doctors, actors, political analysts, farmers, transgenders and activists. He has hosted various public rallies where he promised to resolve the concerns of the public.The Yatra, planned to pass through 12 states and 2 union territories over the course of five months, began with the Wayanad MP paying his respects at the memorial of his father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur.Since the start of the Yatra, the Congress leader’s various activities have been making it to social media — his Mysuru rally amid massive rains, snake boat race in Kerala, interaction with young Kerala girls over the South Korean band BTS , tying his mother Sonia Gandhi’s shoelace and many others.Tamil NaduThe Padayatra was kickstarted in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, on September 7, with Chief Minister M K Stalin handing over the Tricolour to Gandhi. Senior Congress leaders, including like K C Venugopal, Jairam Ramesh, Digvijay Singh, Bhupesh Baghel, and Ashok Gehlot attended the launching ceremony.Few days into the Yatra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took a jibe at the Congress, asking Rahul Gandhi to get his vehicles’ tanks filled in BJP-ruled states to save money.We also request @RahulGandhi to nudge his UPA partners, especially the @arivalayam govt, to honour their poll promises by reducing the petrol & diesel rates. We also urge that you fill the tanks of the vehicles in your convoy in BJP-ruled states to save money! (10/10)— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) September 6, 2022The walk stayed in Tamil Nadu for 4 days before moving on to Kerala. It re-entered Tamil Nadu, after covering Kerala for a day before entering Karnataka.KeralaSenior Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor welcomed the Gandhi and his supporters when the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Kerala on the evening of September 10. Although the Yatra gathered huge support in the state, the Congress drew flak when the picture of V D Savarkar was carried on one of the posters of the Yatra in Ernakulam district. Party workers tried making up by covering Savarkar’s picture with Mahatma Gandhi’s, but the damage had already been done.Welcomed @rahulgandhi to Kerala on his arrival from Tamil Nadu. He’s drenched with sweat but cheerful and upbeat. Looking forward to joining him in the #BharatJodoYatra from 7 am tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/vjKsKij1Mr— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 10, 2022KarnatakaAfter spending 18 days in Kerala, Rahul’s Yatra entered Karnataka on September 29. This leg drew specific attention from the media as the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi joined the Yatra. Although she was there for only the first phase of the Yatra’s seventh day in the state, a huge crowd swarmed the streets to watch her.The Yatra was also joined by the mother and sister of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was assassinated on September 5, 2017. Rahul extended his support to the slain journalist and her family.Gauri stood for Truth Gauri stood for CourageGauri stood for FreedomI stand for Gauri Lankesh and countless others like her, who represent the true spirit of India.Bharat Jodo Yatra is their voice.It can never be silenced. pic.twitter.com/TIpMIu36nY— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 7, 2022No excuses. Only passion.There is no hurdle big enough to stop #BharatJodoYatra from achieving its goal. pic.twitter.com/puKgKeVZ1E— Congress (@INCIndia) October 2, 2022Andhra PradeshAfter Karnataka, the Yatra entered a brief Andhra leg on October 18. This leg was particularly important since Andhra Pradesh has not produced any Congress MLA or MP since 2014. The party has significantly lost its ground to YSRCP in the state after the bifurcation of the state.TelanganaOn the 48th day, Rahul Gandhi led his supporters into Telangana, where the Yatra entered through Gudeballur in Mahabubnagar district on October 23. Here, the walk traversed through 19 assembly segments and seven parliamentary constituencies.On the 55th day, the Yatra made its way into the capital city of Hyderabad where it was joined by the mother of Dalit activist Rohith Vemula. The activist’s death by suicide in 2016 had triggered nationwide protests; Rahul had visited University of Hyderabad campus to join the protests. He later tweeted that the meeting filled him with newfound courage.रोहित वेमुला, सामाजिक भेदभाव और अन्याय के विरुद्ध मेरे संघर्ष का प्रतीक है, और रहेगा।रोहित की माताजी से मिल कर, यात्रा के लक्ष्य की ओर बढ़ रहे कदमों को नया साहस, और मन को नई शक्ति मिली। pic.twitter.com/7XrVSqnptF— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 1, 2022MaharashtraThe Yatra attracted a fancy welcome from the state unit as it entered Maharashtra on the night of November 7. This leg started off from the district of Nanded. Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil, party MP Supriya Sule and former minister Jitendra Awhad walked with the leader and attended a grand rally in Nanded city. The coming of leaders from both NCP and Shiv Sena symbolized the strength of the unusual alliance of Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA). Although Rahul’s pointed attack on the Hindutva ideologue of Savarkar did make the Shiv Sena a little uncomfortable, the controversy was handled smartly by former union minister Jairam Ramesh, who said both parties agree to disagree on certain issues.Discussions on Maharashtra’s cooperative movement, Ambedkarite movement, issues of OBCs, youth, tribals and women were held with Rahul during the Yatra. Social activist Medha Patkar, who walked with Rahul, said the ruling BJP has closed dialogue with those who hold a different point of view than theirs. “We have differences with the Congress, but the party is ready to talk on those, engage us. This yatra is for constitutional values and that’s why I have joined,” she said. Madhya PradeshThe Yatra entered the Hindi heartland of the country on November 23. In the Madhya Pradesh leg, Rahul was joined by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Burhanpur district. Priyanka was accompanied by her husband Robert and son Raihan. The state was pivotal for Congress since it was a BJP-ruled state where it recently lost its stalwart leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and a sitting government.Congress was at the centre of a major controversy when the BJP alleged that pro-Pakistan slogans were raised at a Yatra rally. The Congress called the video clip shared by the BJP “doctored” and threatened legal action against those trying to “defame” the Yatra.भारत जोड़ो यात्रा में पाकिस्तान जिंदाबाद के नारे लगना, यह भारत जोड़ना है या भारत को तोड़ने वालों को साथ जोड़ना है। पहले भी भारत तोड़ा है, क्या फिर भारत तोड़ने का इरादा है? पाकिस्तान जिंदाबाद के नारे लगाने वाले किसी भी कीमत पर बचेंगे नहीं, उनके खिलाफ सख्त कार्रवाई की जायेगी।— Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) November 25, 2022RajasthanBharat Jodo Yatra entered its Rajasthan leg on 4th December. The earliest visuals that emerged from the leg were those of Gandhi shaking a leg with the folk artists along with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and party leaders Sachin Pilot, Kamal Nath, and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Govind Singh Dotasra.The Yatra comes at a crucial stage since the state will go to elections next year amidst the political tussle between CM Gehlot and Pilot. The event would test the truce established between the two. The participation of former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan in the Yatra in the state made headlines. The BJP took a dig at Rajan by commenting that he fancies himself as the next Manmohan Singh.Raghuram Rajan, former RBI Governor, a Congress appointee, joining Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is not a surprise. He fancies himself as the next Manmohan Singh. Just that his commentary on India’s economy should be discarded with disdain. It is coloured and opportunistic…— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) December 14, 2022The future courseThe Bharat Jodo Yatra is expected to go on as it travels the state of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab only to culminate in Jammu and Kashmir.  This is being seen as a massive step to not only establish Congress as a viable option to the BJP in the 2024 Assembly elections but also to revamp the image of Rahul Gandhi. The Grand Old Party also plans to hold such Yatras from the Eastern to the Western corners of the country along with several state versions.

Poll for Mahim masjid trustees triggers sectarian feud
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

MUMBAI: A sectarian rift among Muslims over trusteeship of a 109-year-old Masjid at Mahim's Kapad Bazar is brewing, with two sides accusing each other of fuelling the fires of the divide. Some residents of Mahim where Bai Fatimabai Binte Kazi Abdul Karim Masjid, popular as Kazi Masjid (established in 1913), is situated, approached MRA Marg police on Monday with a complaint against "some miscreants and anti-social elements" who allegedly don't want elections for trustees to manage the masjid to go ahead and "are trying to spread hatred between followers of the community." The election is scheduled for January 15, 2023, and it is being opposed by the existing trustees. The complainants said despite the fact that the Maharashtra State Wakf Board, through its order of August 31, 2022, removed existing trustees, took management of the mosque under its control and announced elections for posts of new trustees in 90 days, the current trustees are " controlling the mosque in violation of Wakf Board's order." "The Wakf Board announced election for new trustees after Bombay high court directed it to resolve the issue. Instead of participating in the election process, these people are misinforming and misleading community members that we are fanning the fires of sectarian divide," said Mohammed Salman Wedlon, Mahim resident and a complainant. A group of religious and community leaders, including senior clerics Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi, Maulana Zaheer Abbas Rizvi, Maulana Anees Ashrafi, Dr Salim Khan from Jamaat-e-Islami and Mumbai Aman Committee chief Farid Shaikh, addressed the media on Tuesday, deploring the development and requesting restraint from both sides. Advocate Amin Solkar, one of the trustees who also attended this meeting, questioned the role of the Wakf Board in the issue. "In 1936, the high court appointed three new trustees and said that no new scheme (to appoint trustees) was needed. The people who registered the property with Wakf Board suppressed this information from the Board," Solkar alleged. He added he and other trustees are not interested in the election for the trustees. "It will be a violation of the trust deed and the 1936 HC order if we participate... We are legal trustees and will remain so," Solkar said. "We are not stopping any Muslim from offering prayers at the mosque." While Maulana Daryabadi and others offered to mediate, Weldon said no further mediation will be accepted.

Poll for Mahim masjid trustees triggers sectarian feud
Delhi HC reserves verdict in Uddhav Thackeray’s appeal against dismissal of plea challenging party name, symbol freeze
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved orders in former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray’s appeal against an order of a single judge of the HC who dismissed his plea challenging the Election Commission of India’s decision to freeze claim over the “Shiv Sena” party name and the “bow and arrow” symbol.Appearing for Thackeray, senior advocate Kapil Sibal submitted before a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad that the single judge could not have passed an order making observations on how the poll body should proceed while deciding the claim.Thackeray and Eknath Shinde’s factions approached the ECI with claim on party name ‘Shiv Sena’ and the ‘bow and arrow’ symbol but the election panel in its October 8 interim order restrained both factions from using the party name and the symbol until a decision was taken.On November 15, a single judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula dismissed Thackeray’s plea and further directed the ECI to decide the issue in an “expeditious manner”. The HC also observed that an expeditious disposal of the issue would be in the interest of the parties as well as the public, noting that there was no “interdict” on the matter by the Supreme Court. The single judge further said that the objection on maintainability of the petition will be examined by the ECI on its own merits while reaching a final decision.Sibal argued that the single judge while dismissing his plea observed that the ECI will decide his client’s “preliminary objection” regarding maintainability of dispute petition before the ECI would be examined by the body on its own merits while rendering a final decision.“I have filed an application raising a preliminary objection…All I want is that it should be heard first. I want nothing more than this. If the commission rejects my objection that is a different matter. We came to court and said that we are aggrieved by the ECI passing a freezing order without hearing us . But the court said that this will be heard with the main matter. Can the court do that? I’m ready to argue before the commission but this order should not bind the body,” Sibal said.Sibal further said that “never before in the history of the ECI was a freezing order passed without hearing a party” as has happened in his client’s case. Apprising the HC about the case before the Supreme Court on this issue, Sibal said that his client had sought stay of the proceedings before the commission which was rejected and that the proceeding before the Commission is next listed on January 10, 2023. He further said that the SC had asked to proceed with the matter which cannot mean that the SC said that his client cannot raise a preliminary objection before the ECI. “If the ECI has been asked to proceed it means they have to proceed in accordance with law,”Sibal contended.On the other hand senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani appearing for Eknath Shinde said that the question as to which faction is the original faction and is entitled to the party name and symbol is very much open for judgment. Reserving its order the bench said, “We will pass appropriate orders”.In its appeal Thackeray has claimed that the single judge failed to appreciate that the ECI’s order is “patently illegal, without jurisdiction and unsustainable, both in law and on facts”.The appeal contends that the issue of maintainability being a preliminary issue ought to have been decided at the preliminary stage, and the single judge could not have directed ECI to decide the objection on non-maintainability of the petition along with the main petition, which would render a final decision.The appeal further states that the single judge failed to appreciate that the question of Shinde’s disqualification is still pending before the Supreme Court and ECI’s action is premised on an underlying assumption that the apex court will decide in Shinde’s favour.

Delhi HC reserves verdict in Uddhav Thackeray’s appeal against dismissal of plea challenging party name, symbol freeze
  • Delhi Court Reserves Order On Uddhav Thackeray's Request Against Poll Body
  • Ndtv

    The Petition moved by Uddhav Thackeray had sought direction to quash the order passed by the ECI.New Delhi: The Division Bench of Delhi High Court today reserved the order on the plea moved by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray challenging the Single bench order that rejected his plea against the Election Commission's order for freezing the symbol (Bow and Arrow) and the name of the Shivsena political party.The Bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad kept the order reserved after hearing the arguements at length.The appeal moved before the Division Bench stated that the Single Judge failed to appreciate that in passing the order dated October 8, 2022, the Election Commission of India (ECI) proceeded on the assumption of the existence of two rival groups within the Shivsena political party.The Single Judge failed to appreciate that there is no dispute as to the leadership of the Shivsena Political Party and therefore, ECI has no jurisdiction to entertain the para 15 Petition, said the appeal.Last month, the Bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula while dismissing the plea, directed the ECI to decide the dispute pending before it as expeditiously as possible.The Petition moved by Uddhav Thackeray had sought direction to quash the order passed by the ECI on October 8 that freezed the election symbol of the Shivsena Political Party.Election Commission counsel earlier told the court: "This is purely an interim arrangement. The commission will decide the matter after hearing all parties."The plea before the Single bench had submitted that ECI has been vested with wide powers under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and the Symbols Order to ensure the effective functioning of our democratic system. It is submitted that a symbol is reflective of the ideas/ethos of the party and ECI should grant recognition of any such symbol which reflects the true ideology, ethos, and aspirations of a political party.It further stated that on January 23, 2018, the Organizational Elections of the Party for the term 2018-2023 was held as per Rule V of the Rules and Regulations of Shiv Sena, which mandates intra-party elections to be conducted once in five years. In the said elections, the Petitioner/Uddhav Thackeray, was unanimously elected as the 'Shiv Sena Paksha Pramukh' of the party.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comShiv Sena was founded by Late Balasaheb Thackeray on June 19, 1966 to espouse the ideology and legacy of the Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Party is a recognised state party under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 (hereinafter, Symbols Order'), and has been allotted 'Bow and Arrow' as its reserved symbol in the State of Maharashtra for the purposes of elections.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayExclusive: Donald Trump Jr Says "There's Witch Hunt Against Donald Trump"

Shiv Sena row: HC reserves order on Uddhav Thackeray’s appeal against decision freezing party name, symbol
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved its order on an appeal by former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray challenging a single judge’s decision dismissing his plea against an Election Commission interim order freezing the Shiv Sena name and election symbol.Thackeray claimed that the single judge’s November 15 order, by which it had also directed the EC to expedite the proceedings, is “erroneous” and liable to be set aside. A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, after hearing arguments of counsels for both the parties, said, “We will pass appropriate orders.” Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Thackeray, submitted that the EC did not hear him while passing the freezing of symbol order.“Never in the history of the commission, freezing order has been passed without hearing the party,” he argued.The single judge bench, in its order, had said that there was “no procedural infraction” in the EC’s order freezing the Shiv Sena’s name and election symbol following a “split” in the party.It had said the commission passed the freezing order in view of urgency in respect of allotment of symbol on account of announcement of bypolls and the petitioner, who repeatedly took time to furnish necessary documents, now cannot allege violation of principles of natural justice and criticise the poll panel.“There is a split between members of the ‘Shiv Sena’, a recognised political party in the state of Maharashtra. One group or faction is led by Eknathrao Sambhaji Shinde and the other by Uddhav Thackeray. Both claim to be the president of the original Shiv Sena party, and stake claim to its poll symbol of ‘bow and arrow’,” the single judge had noted in its order.Thackeray, in his appeal, claimed that there was no dispute on the leadership of the party and that Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknathrao Sambhaji Shinde himself admitted that Thackeray is and continues to be the rightfully elected president of the Shiv Sena political party.Therefore, it cannot be said that there are two rival factions of the Shiv Sena political party, he said.On October 8, the EC had passed an interim order barring the two Shiv Sena factions from using the party’s name and its election symbol in the Andheri East assembly bypoll.The commission’s order was passed on a “dispute petition” filed by Shinde. Earlier this year, Shinde had raised a banner of revolt against Thackeray, accusing him of entering into an “unnatural alliance” with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Over 40 of the Shiv Sena’s 55 MLAs had supported Shinde, forcing Thackeray’s resignation as chief minister.

Shiv Sena row: HC reserves order on Uddhav Thackeray’s appeal against decision freezing party name, symbol