Maharashtra Election News

No action against ‘real culprits’ of bridge crash as they are linked to BJP: Rahul
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said no action has been taken against the “real culprits” behind the last month’s collapse of a suspension bridge in Gujarat’s Morbi town, where 135 people were killed, because they share a “good relationship” with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).Addressing an election rally in Rajkot, his second in the day, he said while watchmen (posted at the accident site) were arrested and jailed, no action was taken against the real culprits.“When journalists asked me what I think about the Morbi tragedy… I said around 150 people died and this is not a political issue and so I would say nothing on this. But the question arises today as to why no action was taken against those who were behind this (tragedy), why no FIR (has been filed against them)?” he asked.“Will nothing happen to them because they share a good relationship with the BJP? They arrested chowkidars (watchmen) and put them behind bars, but no action has been taken against the real culprits,” the Congress MP alleged.Gandhi said he is feeling sad the Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress is not passing through Gujarat, where Assembly polls will be held on December 1 and 5.The Congress MP took a break from the 3,570km cross-country foot-march, which started from Tamil Nadu on September 7 and is currently passing through adjoining Maharashtra, and addressed two election rallies in support of his party candidates in Gujarat.

No action against ‘real culprits’ of bridge crash as they are linked to BJP: Rahul
Modi again hits out at Congress over Medha Patkar joining Rahul rally, says ‘punish Narmada protesters’
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Addressing a public rally in Surendranagar, which votes on December 1 in the two-phase Gujarat Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday lashed out at the Congress again over Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar joining Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra and asked voters to punish “Narmada protesters”.“This time too, neither Modi nor Bhupendra (CM Bhupendrabhai Patel) are contesting the elections but it is Gujarat’s people, Gujarat’s mothers and sisters. Today in Surendranagar district, it is natural to remember Maa Narmada. I would visit Surendranagar for the Narmada Yojana several times as Surendranagar district would benefit the most. But think about those who have been removed from pad (position) by Indians. Such people are doing a yatra for pad (position) now,” the PM said.“In democracy they can do a yatra for pad, but those who kept Gujarat thirsty, those who stopped Maa Narmada from entering Gujarat, stalled the project for 40 years with court cases, with such Narmada protesters, walking with their hand on their shoulders and doing a padyatra, Gujarat people will punish you,” Modi said at Dhrangadhra in Surendranagar district.On November 20 too, speaking at Dhoraji in Rajkot district, Modi targeted the Opposition party and hit out at its MP Rahul Gandhi for marching with Patkar in the Yatra.Modi said that for Surendranagar, the district that had longed for water, where tanker mafias were flourishing in collusion with the government, where photos of Surendranagar people in dire need of water would be published in newspapers, this election “should be to punish Narmada protesters”.The ruling BJP has been critical of Patkar’s campaign against the Sardar Sarovar Dam, which was inaugurated in 2017 even as she spearheaded the Narmada Bachao Aandolan.Modi accused the Congress of calling him names instead of talking about development.“Shouldn’t development be talked about in the elections? Who did how much work? Did water and electricity reach or not? We are ready to give hisab but the Congress knows that if it raises this issue, the BJP will counter as the party has a tremendous record of work completed. So they do not talk about development. The Congress says Modi ko uski aukat dikha denge. Look at their ahankar (ego). You all are from royal families but I am from a normal family. I have no aukat. I am a sevak and sevadaar; sevak and sevadaar have no aukat. You called me neechi jati, neechpan. You called me maut ka saudagar, gandi nali ka keeda. You called me all and now you have come to show me my aukat. I have no aukat and please talk about development and come in the contest to make Gujarat a developed Gujarat and leave ‘showing aukat’ games,” the prime minister tore into the Congress.Modi said he had another wish to be fulfilled in this election: every polling booth should record 100 per cent voting and the BJP should not be left behind even in a single booth.The votes will be counted on December 8.

Modi again hits out at Congress over Medha Patkar joining Rahul rally, says ‘punish Narmada protesters’
Congress counters PM Modi: ‘Why is Medha Patkar poll issue?’
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Gujarat Congress leaders on Sunday shrugged off suggestions about a negative fallout of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s criticism of the party and its former president Rahul Gandhi for being seen along with activist Medha Patkar at the Bharat Jodo Yatra the day before in Maharashtra. The party claimed the PM’s comments were part of the BJP’s “diversionary tactic”.Modi hit out at Gandhi and Patkar at an election rally in the town of Dhoraji in Rajkot district on Sunday. For the BJP, Patkar is not just the face of the agitation against the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada — a pet project of Modi as chief minister and PM — but also one of the figures who led protests against the 2002 riots.“A Congress leader placed his arms around the shoulder of a ben (sister) who led the agitation (against the Sardar Sarovar Dam),” Modi said at the rally, asking the audience to question the Congress about this when they seek votes. Modi’s remarks came a day ahead of Rahul’s scheduled rally in Rajkot.On Saturday, tagging pictures showing Gandhi with Patkar at the Yatra, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said on Twitter, “Congress and Rahul Gandhi have time and again shown their animosity towards Gujarat and Gujaratis. By giving Medha Patkar a central place in his Yatra, Rahul Gandhi shows that he stands with those elements who denied water to Gujaratis for decades. Gujarat will not tolerate this.” In August, Patel attacked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over what it termed as the party’s continued association with Patkar and called the activist an “Urban Naxal”.But, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Jagdish Thakor said the PM’s comments would have “no impact” on the outcome of the election. “(If they ask us about Patkar) we have a thousand questions to ask them (BJP). Did he (Rahul) join her yatra? Anybody is free to join the (Bharat Jodo) Yatra. People have seen through them … you make an issue of a non-issue. I tell you, if you make a mistake and say sorry, people will accept. This is not the Congress saying, people’s experience of the government has been such that they are now tired (of the BJP). For 27 years you have been saying the same thing. I don’t think this is going to have any impact.”“Who built the dam?” asked All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in charge of Gujarat Raghu Sharma, referring to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.He also said Modi’s criticism on the matter was not an election issue. “When she (Patkar) was doing the agitation, it was (former chief minister) Chimanbhai Patel and his wife (Urmila) who stopped her from entering Gujarat. Where was the BJP then? Before starting his Yatra, Rahulji talked to all NGOs … Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson also joined the Yatra. Why is Modi not talking about that?”Playing down any political impact of Modi’s attack, Sharma said, “It is his (Modi’s) habit to divert from the main issue. There is an atmosphere of fear … Why is he not talking about the three lakh people who died of Covid because of the unavailability of healthcare? Why is he not talking about drug trafficking? The fact that Gujarat is a dry state, but illegal liquor is available through home delivery. These are the issues that should come up. Let him (Modi) talk about unemployment, about the economy.”Asking why Gandhi walking with Patkar was an election issue for the BJP, Sharma went on to say, “Every time they deviate … they are in search of issues. People are tired of this bhashan (lecture). Where is the roadmap for education and health infrastructure? Is he even talking about implementing the old pension scheme as the Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh governments have done? This is for the social security of a person who gave 35 years to the government.”

Congress counters PM Modi: ‘Why is Medha Patkar poll issue?’
Inquiry ordered into alleged voter data theft after apprehension of impersonation: K’taka CEO
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

In the midst of Congress party’s allegations of voter data theft, Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka Manoj Kumar Meena said the inquiry was ordered following apprehension of impersonation by an NGO during the ‘voter awareness drive’.“The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner had some information. We have the apprehension that there is impersonation and it has to be inquired. Ultimately, after the police investigation and our Divisional Commissioner inquiry, we will come to know what is there in it,” Meena told PTI.The Congress in Karnataka has alleged that the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Institute (‘Chilume Trust’) hired many private people who were given fake identity cards impersonating Booth Level Officers (BLOs) of BBMP.The opposition party alleged that the private trust, which was assigned by the Bengaluru civic agency to spread awareness among voters, collected details of the voters such as name, mother tongue, gender, religion, caste, voter ID number and the Aadhaar number.Meena declined to comment on the complaint by the Congress with the State Election Commission regarding the voter data theft.He said the reason behind the suspected impersonation will come out only after the probe.“Let’s wait for the inquiry. If I comment anything, it will compromise the inquiry. We will not say about the merit of the complaint. The regional commissioner is entrusted with the inquiry. Let the truth come out. Then we will take action as per the recommendation,” the CEO said.The Congress alleged that the Chilume Trust also fed the information collected from voters into its private app.To a question whether his office would revisit the deletion of 6.73 lakh names from the electoral roll in Bengaluru following the “revelation”, he said addition and deletion are a regular process and there was no need to revisit it again.According to Meena, in the city 6.73 lakh names were deleted and about three lakh new names added to the electoral roll.He added that the Election Commission of India carried out a major exercise to find out “photo-similar” entries in the electoral roll using a software in the country.Using the software, 16 lakh entries were deleted from the electoral roll from across Karnataka including 6.73 lakh from Bengaluru after the verification by the BLOs.According to him, about one crore such entries were deleted including around 15 lakh in Tamil Nadu and 14 lakh in Maharashtra.On the Congress’ charge that the directors of the Chilume trust, which is in the middle of the controversy, have not been named in the FIR, Meena said the NGO has been mentioned in it, which itself means that those heading the organisations have been named.The BBMP had given permission to the Chilume Trust to conduct ‘Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP), a voter awareness drive by the Election Commission, in Karnataka, where Assembly elections are due next year.BBMP said last week that the Trust violated the conditions of the permission and asked the public not to share any voter details with representatives of the NGO.

Inquiry ordered into alleged voter data theft after apprehension of impersonation: K’taka CEO
Gujarat polls: Rahul Gandhi to hold two rallies Monday, party hopes for wind in its sails
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

He had refrained from campaigning in Himachal Pradesh, leaving the task of leading the party’s election efforts to his sister and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. But with a perception gaining ground that the Congress campaign is not taking off in Gujarat, and that the Aam Aadmi Party is far ahead in the optics and narrative game, Rahul Gandhi will address two rallies in Gujarat next week – his first such political engagement since the Bharat Jodo Yatra began on September 7.Rahul will address two rallies — one in Surat and the other in Rajkot — on November 21. The Bharat Jodo Yatra has a rest day on November 21 as well as November 22.Rahul was in Gujarat last in the first week of September — just two days before he began his cross-country march from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. Rahul has not campaigned in the state so far this election. This has been surprising for party supporters since he had led an energetic campaign in 2017, powering the Congress to 77 seats (its highest since 1985) and stopping the BJP from reaching the 100 mark..In Surat, an industrial hub in south Gujarat where the Congress could not make any inroads in 2017 despite the anti-GST protests, the expected impact of demonetisation and Rahul’s aggressive campaigning, the Congress will address a rally in the tribal seat of Mahuva.Although the BJP had won in Surat and adjoining areas in 2017, the Congress had performed well in the Scheduled Tribe belts in south Gujarat and elsewhere.Overall, the party had won 17 of the 27 constituencies reserved for STs in the last elections. Fourteen of these constituencies are in south Gujarat.The party hopes to better its tally this time, but the feedback from the ground is worrying. With Rahul addressing a rally in Mahuva, the party hopes that it will have an impact in nearby reserved constituencies like Vyara, Nizar, Valsad, Kaprada and Dangs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the BJP’s campaign from Kaprada in Valsad on November 6.Party leaders claim the Gandhis still retain much goodwill among the tribals and it was important that a member of the family visit a reserved constituency to send a message to the tribals, who form 14% of the electorate.AAP too is eyeing the tribal vote and Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has held three rallies in tribal districts.The Congress is said to be also keen that Priyanka campaign in the state and address a couple of rallies in the tribal region.Apart from Surat, Rahul will address a public meeting in Rajkot, a BJP bastion which is at the centre of the Saurashtra region. Although the party faced a rout in the Rajkot district in 2017, it had, yet again, performed better than expected in the Saurashtra region, winning 28 seats, up from 15 it held earlier.The BJP has been winning all the three Assembly seats in Rajkot for a long time. It was from Rajkot West that Modi had contested his maiden election in 2001, to enter the Gujarat Assembly. Vijay Rupani too had won a bypoll to Rajkot West in 2014 before becoming a minister and subsequently Chief Minister in 2016.AAP too had set its sights on Rajkot. But the departure of Indranil Rajyaguru, who had quit the Congress to join it earlier this year, is expected to dent its chances. Rajyaguru is back in the Congress now and is the party’s nominee from Rajkot East, a seat he has won before.Sources in the party said Rahul is likely to return to Gujarat towards the end of the month to campaign for seats which go to polls in the second phase of the elections. He is expected to address two rallies in North and Central Gujarat.

Gujarat polls: Rahul Gandhi to hold two rallies Monday, party hopes for wind in its sails
Youth Cong withdraws from hosting Shashi Tharoor in Kerala event
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

In a curious political development, the Youth Congress has withdrawn from hosting Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s talk on “Sangh Parivar and challenges to secularism”, slated to be held in Kozhikode on Sunday. Neither the state Congress nor the Youth Congress (YC) cited any reason for the unexpected move, but sources in the party claimed that YC leaders in Kozhikode withdrew from the event at the behest of a section of Congress leaders. The talk organised by YC’s Kozhikode district committee was one of the events slated to be attended by Tharoor during his four-day tour of north Kerala, which is seen as part of his strategy to get active in Congress-led UDF politics in Kerala. Tharoor had recently put up a fight against party veteran Mallikarjun Kharge in the election for Congress president, which had created jitters in a section of the party.Party sources said no reason, other than technical, has been cited for the YC’s decision to withdraw from hosting the talk. At the same time, the lecture would not be abandoned — it will now be held at the same venue in Kozhikode under the aegis of Jawahar Youth Foundation, a pro-Congress group.Kozhikode MP M K Raghavan, who had backed Tharoor in the election for party chief’s post, is also attending the event. Party’s Kozhikode district president Praveen Kumar, whose name had earlier figured in the YC list of the event, is, however, missing in the same event organised by Jawahar Youth Foundation.Youth Congress state unit vice-president and former legislator K S Sabarinadhan said in a post on Facebook, “Through this programme, Tharoor could have highlighted the Congress’s secular stand in North Kerala. But I came to know through the media that a direction was given from certain quarters to change this programme.”Sabarinadhan, another Congress leader from Kerala who had backed Tharoor in the election against Kharge, questioned the development in Kerala at a time party leader Rahul Gandhi’s statement against V D Savarkar during his Maharashtra leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra has given a new energy to the party. “Tharoor also would have shared a similar thought in the Congress venue in Kozhikode. This controversy could have been avoided. At the same time, Tharoor is not short of venues,’’ Sabarinadhan wrote in the post.Sources close to Tharoor said he will attend another event hosted by pro-Congress Indian Lawyers Congress, a professional association of lawyers, in Kozhikode on Sunday. In the coming days, Tharoor is scheduled to attend various events associated with UDF ally Indian Union Muslim League, which has recently taken strong exception to state Congress president K Sudhakaran’s pro-RSS statements. Apart from that, he will meet various people from different walks of life.On Saturday evening, Tharoor met Thamarassery Catholic diocese bishop Remigiose Inchananiyil along with Kozhikode MP Raghavan. The bishop is known for raising farmers’ issues in public forums and Tharoor meeting the clergy is seen as an attempt to win the confidence of farmers from Christian community. The Thamarassery Bishop has a considerable stake in Thiruvambady Assembly constituency, which comes under Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, represented by Rahul Gandhi.

Youth Cong withdraws from hosting Shashi Tharoor in Kerala event
Flaming torch a free symbol, EC can allot it to any other party: Delhi HC dismisses Samata Party’s appeal
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Dismissing an appeal moved by Samata Party over its claim on the “flaming torch” symbol allotted by the Election Commission of India decision to Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction, the Delhi High Court recently held that post the derecognition of the party 18 years ago, the symbol had become free and ECI was within its domain to allot it to any other party.A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad were hearing an appeal moved by Samata Party against an order of the single judge of the HC which upheld the ECI’s decision to award the flaming torch symbol to Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction.The HC in its November 3 judgment observed that Samata Party was de-recognised as a State Party in 2004. The party had contended that since the candidates of the Party contested elections in the year 2014 under the symbol of ‘flaming torch’, the said symbol cannot be allotted to any other party. The HC referred to a 2008 judgment of the Supreme Court in Subramanian Swamy v ECI and reiterated that a symbol is not a tangible thing nor does it generate any wealth.“It is only the insignia which is associated with the particular political party so as to help the millions of illiterate voters to properly exercise their right to franchise in favour of the candidate of their choice belonging to a particular party. The parties concerned cannot consider the symbol as its exclusive property. The Election Symbols (Reservation And Allotment) Order, 1968 makes it very clear that the right to use the symbol can be lost with the dismal performance of the party,” the judgment states.The division bench thereafter observed that even though the members of Samata Party were permitted to use the symbol of ‘flaming torch’, due to the derecognition of the party in 2004, the symbol (flaming torch) had become a free symbol and it was within the domain of ECI to allot the same to any other Party.Dismissing the appeal the bench held, “No fault can be found with the communication-cum-order dated 10th October, 2022 issued by the Election Commission of India allotting the symbol of ‘flaming torch’ to ‘Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)’ and the Order dated 19.10.2022, passed by the learned Single Judge…”The appeal states that the single judge dismissed its plea on the very first date of hearing and without issuing notice to the respondents — the Election Commission, Shiv Sena through Uddhav Thackeray) and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.On October 19, the single judge had dismissed the party’s plea, observing that the affinity to a symbol cannot exist in a void and after the party had been derecognised in 2004, “there was no question of it being allowed to insist on a reserved symbol”.The single judge held that after the derecognition as per para 10-A of the Symbols Order, its right on the symbol in question, if any, lapsed with the expiry of six years therefrom.“In absence of any demonstrable right in law, the petitioner cannot seek mandamus for quashing the impugned communication,” the single judge had held. On the issue of notification by the EC declaring the “flaming torch” a free symbol, the single judge had held that the party was unable to point out any para to that effect under the Symbols Order on this issue.Samata Party was founded in 1994 by former Defence Minister late George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar (incumbent Bihar CM) as an offshoot of the Janata Dal. Uday Mandal is the current president of the party. Election Commission of India in October 1994 had granted registration of the party and allotted the “flaming torch” symbol to it.The party had argued before the single judge that since it had contested polls on the symbol in 2014, it was incumbent upon the EC to issue a notification before making “flaming torch” a free symbol and allotting it to any other party.The single judge had held that even if its candidates did contest the elections under the same symbol in 2014, it does not lend any semblance of a legal right in its favour in respect of the symbol in question, after lapse of six years. He further observed that the party had admitted that its candidates contested under a different symbol in the 2021 elections.On October 8, the EC had asked Shiv Sena’s warring Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde factions not to use the “bow and arrow” symbol till the dispute is resolved. On October 10, the EC allotted “flaming torch” as the poll symbol to the Thackeray camp. Samata Party had challenged this decision before the single judge.

Flaming torch a free symbol, EC can allot it to any other party: Delhi HC dismisses Samata Party’s appeal
Social media companies can make any party win election: Rahul Gandhi on Yatra Day 70
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

In an apparent jibe at the Maharashtra government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said nobody has a clue which party the ruling side belongs to. Rahul also questioned social media companies, saying “systematic bias” is being applied by them, which can make any party win an election.“Even if the EVM is secure, Indian elections may be rigged through social media. If large social media companies want they can make any party win an election. Systematic bias is being applied there and my social media handles are a live example of it,” Rahul said, according to the statement issued by the Congress after his meeting with civil society activists on Wednesday afternoon. The meeting was attended by veteran Gandhian G G Parikh and social activist Medha Patkar, among others, on the 70th day of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Maharashtra.Rahul alleged communal violence was being used as a strategic weapon to cause disharmony in society by one ideology and its leaders. “India at the moment is as per the vision of a powerful urban elite and it can only be smashed with the right way of thinking and it is our duty to refine that vision,” he said. Later in the day, Rahul addressed a meeting at Medshi in Washim district of Vidarbha region. “Our yatra seeks to take along everyone with us without hatred or violence. We don’t leave anyone behind but instead we pick up those who have fallen. On the contrary, there are those patriots sitting in power in Delhi and similarly there are a few in Maharashtra. (PM) Narendra Modi is in Delhi. I don’t know which party those in (power) in Maharashtra belong to or what I should refer to,” he said.Shinde, formerly number two in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, rebelled against Thackeray, who was heading the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, and formed a government with BJP’s help. Ever since, Shinde has been claiming that he is the real Sena and even claimed the right to party symbol ‘bow and arrow’. The Election Commission has now given the name ‘Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena’ to Shinde while Thackeray’s Sena is named as ‘Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)’. The dispute between the two sides is yet to reach a final conclusion. The Congress was a part of the MVA government. Thackeray’s son Aaditya joined Rahul in the yatra in Nanded in a show of unity.Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and Supriya Shrinate said the party will bring in the Old Pension Scheme in the same manner in which it was brought in Congress-ruled states such as Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. “…There are three lakh government employees in Himachal, all that they seek is OPS. So the governments… have to respond to the needs of people,” said Srinate. 

Social media companies can make any party win election: Rahul Gandhi on Yatra Day 70
Ajay Maken quits as AICC’s Rajasthan in-charge, Kharge faces first organisational challenge
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Just a fortnight left for the Bharat Jodo Yatra to enter Rajasthan, there is trouble in the Congress. Upset over no action being taken against the three loyalists of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who were given show-cause notices for holding a parallel Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Jaipur on September 25, All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of the state Ajay Maken has resigned.Sources said Maken wrote a letter to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on November 8 expressing his unwillingness to continue in the position given that no action had been taken against Rajasthan Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal, party chief whip Mahesh Joshi and Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) chairman Dharmendra Rathore despite the disciplinary committee serving them show-cause notices.It is learnt Maken has told Kharge that he does not have any “moral authority” to continue as AICC general secretary in charge of the state when there is no resolution to the issue over MLAs’ boycott of the CLP meeting that the high command had convened. Moreover, the three senior leaders who Maken believes indulged in “grave indiscipline” are being given responsibilities for coordinating the yatra in the state.“I don’t have any moral authority left. With what authority I will interact with the MLAs or discharge my duties as in-charge. There was grave indiscipline but there was no action. Not even an apology,” he is learnt to have conveyed to the leadership. Kharge, however, did not accept his resignation and asked him to continue. Having waited for a week, Maken has now resigned.Maken, sources said, also stayed away from a meeting earlier this week of a task force set up by the party to coordinate the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The committee took stock of the preparations for the yatra as it prepares to enter the Hindi heartland in a few days. From Maharashtra, the yatra will enter Madhya Pradesh next week and Rajasthan in the first week of December. Moreover, a by-election to the Sardarshahar Assembly seat in Churu district is slated to take place on December 5.Maken has told Kharge that it is imperative to have a new person In charge of the Rajasthan unit as soon as possible given the Yatra and the by-election. Interestingly, Kharge was the AICC observer and was witness to the drama that unfolded in Jaipur on September 25. Kharge and Maken were in Jaipur to hold the CLP meeting that was to pass a resolution authorising the Congress president to appoint a new leader.The CLP meeting was called after Gehlot announced his decision to contest the high-stakes Congress presidential election. But the chief minister was keen to continue for some more time, at least his election as the Congress president. But the high command was keen that he step down and make way for a new leader before filing his nomination papers.But Gehlot supporters sprang a huge surprise. They not just boycotted the CLP meeting but held a parallel meeting at Dhariwal’s residence and then symbolically submitted their resignations to Speaker CP Joshi, leaving the high command red-faced. Gehlot wanted the views of the MLAs to be heard on the issue of selecting his successor. He was also keen that a leader close to him be appointed the successor if he had to step down. He was against former Deputy CM and Tonk MLA Sachin Pilot taking over as CM.The unprecedented rebellion was a huge embarrassment to the leadership, which issued show-cause notices to Dhariwal, Joshi, and Rathore after two days based on a report by Maken. The notices made it clear that they had committed “grave indiscipline” by boycotting the CLP meeting and holding the parallel meeting.In the eye of the storm over the defiance of MLAs loyal to him, Gehlot, after a meeting with the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi four days later, declared he would not contest for the post of Congress president and publicly revealed that he had apologised to Gandhi for the turn of events in Jaipur.Maken’s decision to resign despite prodding from Kharge to continue is the first organisational challenge the new Congress president has encountered. “Wedded to the ideology of Congress for the last three generations and being in active Congress politics for over 40 years, I will always remain an ardent follower of Rahul Ji, whom I trust and have faith in beyond words,” Maken said, concluding his one-page letter.

Ajay Maken quits as AICC’s Rajasthan in-charge, Kharge faces first organisational challenge
Eknath Shinde hails High Court decision; conspiracy, pressure politics: Uddhav Sena
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday hailed the decision of the Delhi High Court to dismiss former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray’s plea against the interim order of the Election Commission of India (ECI) freezing any claim to the “Shiv Sena” party name and the “bow and arrow” symbol.While dismissing the plea, the Delhi HC said that the EC has a right to decide on the matter as it directed the poll panel to do so in “expeditious manner”.“We welcome the decision of the court and thank them. We have presented all the necessary documents that we were supposed to (before the court) as per the democratic system. We welcome the decision,” Shinde said.The Sena led by Thackeray, however, called it a “conspiracy” to keep the party engaged in the court battle and alleged that a kind of “pressure politics” was being played out in the country.Stating that the EC should take the decision in an unbiased manner, Uddhav Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, who was released on bail last week, said: “It is our right to approach the HC and Supreme Court and plead for justice. So, we are trying. But we know what kind of pressure politics is being played out in our country. But, we will again approach the EC. The HC has only said that the EC has the right to take decision on it. The Supreme Court had also said the same thing.”Raut further said, “The point is, our party symbol and name was frozen on the ground that the breakaway faction (Shinde) wants to contest Andheri east bypoll, but they did not contest the election. Still our bow and arrow (symbol) has been frozen. We had approached the court against this.”Meanwhile, the EC on Tuesday wrote a letter to both the sides of Sena, instructing them to submit the documents in prescribed format before November 23.

Eknath Shinde hails High Court decision; conspiracy, pressure politics: Uddhav Sena
Election Commission to hear warring LJP factions on Nov 29
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

The Election Commission will hear the dispute between the two factions of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) for the control of the party name and symbol on November 29, Election Commission (EC) sources said Tuesday. The EC has written to the leaders of the two groups — Chirag Paswan and Union Food Processing Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras — to appear for a personal hearing on November 29 and to submit any statements or documents in connection with their case by November 28, sources said.After the death of LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan in 2020, his son, Chirag Paswan, and brother, Paras, had both staked claim to the party leadership. In October 2021, the EC had frozen the party name and symbol till the dispute was resolved. It had allotted the name Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) to Chirag Paswan’s faction and Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party to Paras’ side till it reached a final decision in the matter. Meanwhile, the poll panel also wrote to the two factions of the Shiv Sena, each led by Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, to submit all documents in support of their claims to the party leadership by November 23. “In case no further documents/particulars are received, it will be assumed that your group has nothing to say in the matter and the Commission will proceed further in the dispute case, including settling the date of hearings,” the EC wrote to the two leaders.

Election Commission to hear warring LJP factions on Nov 29
Delhi HC rejects Uddhav’s plea against EC decision to freeze claim to party name, Shiv Sena symbol
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

After two days of arguments, the Delhi High Court Tuesday dismissed former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s plea against the interim order of the Election Commission of India freezing claim to the “Shiv Sena” party name and the “bow and arrow” symbol.A single judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula further directed the commission to decide the issue before it in an “expeditious manner”. The court 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. Detailed order of the court will be followed.On day two, senior counsel Kapil Sibal appearing for Thackeray argued that the ECI at the outset should have realised that it can’t assume that there are two factions of the same party.“Petition before the commission has only been filed by Eknath Shinde; the ECI can’t assume that he is a part of the Shiv Sena. That is yet to be considered,” Sibal said.He argued that even while passing an interim freezing order, the ECI should have heard his client as it has done in various orders before it. “Never before has the ECI ever passed an order of freezing a symbol without hearing the parties,” Sibal contended.He further took the high court through the timeline of the matter, beginning from July 19 when Shinde approached the ECI laying claim on the name and symbol. Sibal said that on several occasions, his client asked the ECI to provide the documents filed by Shinde in the matter, however, the same was not provided to him.He said that the ECI, after several requests, provided his client with a Google link of the documents without the password on October 4 which was given after his client again contacted the body. “On October 7 I file my preliminary reply and I apply for oral hearing. They (ECI) say to me that please file a reply by tomorrow and did not grant me an oral hearing. I wrote to them saying that this conduct of yours as ECI is malicious,” Sibal submitted.“I can’t expect any justice there,” Sibal said in regard to the conduct of the ECI in his case. “Could he have frozen the symbol without hearing me? What is this hurry to freeze the symbol? It is an interim order which freezes the symbol which I’m entitled to. You (ECI) don’t supply the documents, you don’t hear me and then they say there is no time. This order must be set aside,” he added.On the other hand, senior counsel Rajiv Nayar, appearing for Eknath Shinde, said that the conduct of Uddhav Thackeray before the commission has to be highlighted because he “does not actually want a resolution”.“All he has done is ask for time. The commission was kind enough to grant time to Mr. Vivek Singh (Thackeray’s lawyer before ECI). Six different opportunities were availed by Singh on behalf of the petitioner,” Nayar argued while taking the court through several dates on which Thackeray’s counsel sought time before the commission.“Therefore, who is wanting delay here? Who is wanting resolution this court may see. Obviously, you (Thackeray) don’t want expeditious disposal because you want the symbol to remain in jeopardy,” Nayar said.Nayar added that the commission was trying to balance the case between the two factions and only as an interim measure it froze the symbols in the interest of both parties.Adding to Shinde’s arguments, senior counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul submitted that the ECI has the authority to pass interim orders which have been upheld by the Supreme Court. He said the ECI can decide the matter as it thinks fit. “Today for the High Court to interfere in the exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction will be respectfully a travesty of justice,” Kaul said.Sidhant Kumar, advocate appearing for the Election Commission, countered Sibal’s arguments and said that “malicious allegations were made against a constitutional body” although the freezing orders have been passed before.In a matter of allotment of symbols, the entire authority is vested with the election commission, Kumar said, adding that the commission has to be satisfied with the existence of the dispute which happened when Shinde approached the commission in July. He further said that there has been no breach of fair play for the court to interfere in the matter. “We will consider all objections to decide the matter,” Kumar said.In a rejoinder, senior counsel Devadatt Kamat appearing for Thackeray argued that the commission itself deferred the hearing of the case as the Supreme Court was hearing his client’s stay application between July 22 till September 27, drawing the court’s attention to the orders of the commission.“This whole bogie that we have delayed falls flat. The deferments were made by the commission with respect to the proceedings before the Supreme Court,” Kamat said. He further took the court to various freezing orders of other parties where in each instance he claimed that the orders were passed after hearing the parties.“Hearing the parties is a statutory requirement which the commission could not have dispensed with,” Kamat concluded.Uddhav Thackrey and Eknath Shinde’s factions approached the ECI laying claim to the party name “Shiv Sena” and the bow and arrow symbol but the election body in its October 8 “interim order” restrained both factions from using the party name and the symbol until it decides which among the two rival factions is entitled to use them.

Delhi HC rejects Uddhav’s plea against EC decision to freeze claim to party name, Shiv Sena symbol
  • Uddhav Thackeray to Delhi HC: Move to freeze Sena name, symbol ‘perverse’
  • The Indian Express

    Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Monday told the Delhi High Court that the Election Commission of India’s (EC) order freezing the party’s name, Shiv Sena, and its bow and arrow election symbol is “totally perverse”.Noting that EC’s order was regarding November 3 Andheri bypoll, a single-judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula said the order has “run its life” and asked why should court not await EC’s final view on the issue.Appearing for Thackeray, senior counsel Devadatt Kamat submitted, “I am a political party…today my entire political activity has come to a standstill. When a quasi-judicial authority passes an order which has several consequences on my right as a party, it (EC) is duty-bound to be satisfied that a prima facie case is made out.” Kamat told the bench that unless EC is prima facie satisfied it cannot freeze the symbol. Today “I can’t use the name and symbol of my father”, he added.Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, also appearing for Thackeray, submitted that maintainability of CM Shinde’s claim on bow and arrow symbol and party name should be decided before passing a final order. Sibal said, “Question is, is the EC going to decide maintainability or not. If it is one final order, everything will becomeinfructuous…fundamental question is maintainability of the petition…” Sibal also said that an “expeditious disposal” means EC will decide in Shinde’s favour, and it has not considered Thackeray’s objections.HC observed that it will ask EC to decide the issue of allotting the symbol in a time-bound manner after hearing both factions.Appearing for Shinde, Neeraj Kishan Kaul said, “We have said that he (Shinde) wasn’t disqualified it was an internal dispute. EC gave repeated opportunities to them to file a reply. They (Thackeray faction) didn’t do so; they went to SC to seek a stay, which they were not granted.”

  • ‘Can’t use name, symbol of my father today’: Uddhav Thackeray tells Delhi HC on ECI’s order on election symbol
  • The Indian Express

    Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray, told the Delhi High Court Monday that the Election Commission of India’s order freezing the Shiv Sena party’s name and the ‘bow and arrow’ election symbol is “totally perverse”.Appearing for Thackeray, senior counsel Devdutt Kamat said, before a single judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula, “I’m a political party… today my entire political activity has come to a standstill”.“When a quasi-judicial authority passes an order which has several consequences on my right as a party it is, it (ECI) is the duty bound to be satisfied that a prima facie case is made out,” Kamat said. He further submitted that unless the ECI is prima facie satisfied, it cannot freeze the symbol. “I can’t use the name and symbol of my father today,” he added.Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, also appearing for Thackeray, submitted that the maintainability of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s claim on the symbol and the party name should be decided first, before passing a final order.Sibal argued, “Question is – is the Election Commission going to decide maintainability or not? If it is one final order everything will become infructuous…fundamental question is the maintainability of the petition…”. Sibal further said that an “expeditious disposal” means that it (ECI) will decide in Shinde’s favour, adding that the commission has not considered Thackeray’s objections.The High Court however remarked that the ECI’s order was with respect to the Andheri by-elections which had been conducted on November 3. “This order has run its life,” it said, adding that why should the court not await the final view on this issue. The HC also observed that it would ask the election body to decide the issue of allotting the ‘bow and arrow’ symbol in a time-bound manner, after hearing both factions. Thackeray-led Shiv Sena won the by-election earlier this month.Senior Counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for Eknath Shinde, argued that Thackeray had raised these issues before the Supreme Court and the apex court heard the matter on several dates. “We have said that he (Shinde) was not disqualified, and it was only an internal dispute between the party. EC gave repeated opportunities to them to file a reply since July. They didn’t do so. They went to the Supreme Court to seek a stay which they weren’t granted.”After hearing the parties, the HC directed them to file brief note of submissions, and listed the matter for hearing on November 15.The Supreme Court in September rejected Thackeray’s prayer to stay proceedings pending before the ECI over a request by Shinde for recognition of his faction as the real Shiv Sena and the permission to use the party’s ‘bow and arrow’ election symbol.“We direct there shall be no stay on proceedings before the Election Commission. Interlocutory Application seeking stay stands dismissed,” a five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, said.The Thackeray camp had approached the top court stating that while petitions arising out of the Maharashtra political crisis, fuelled by the rift in the Shiv Sena, were pending before it, the ECI “purportedly… initiated proceedings” under Para 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, on an application by the Shinde camp “inter alia seeking to be recognised as the ‘real Shiv Sena’ and claiming the right to use the bow-arrow election symbol” and had issued notice to Uddhav Thackeray on July 22.Uddhav Thackrey and Eknath Shinde’s factions approached the ECI laying claim to the party name “Shiv Sena” and the bow and arrow symbol but the election body in its October 8 interim order restrained both factions from using the party name and the symbol until it decides which among the two rival factions is entitled to use them.This came after Shinde and a majority of the Shiv Sena MLA’s withdrew from Thackeray’s government leading to its fall.

In Gujarat’s Adivasi belt, a triangular contest takes shape but advantage BJP
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

They used to be part of a Congress stronghold but Gujarat’s 27 Assembly seats reserved for tribals are likely to witness a three-way contest in the coming elections, with the BJP at an advantage on account of its organisational prowess, a relatively weak Opposition, and because it controls 13 of the constituencies at the moment.The Congress won 17 constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the 2017 Assembly elections but since then five of the MLAs have joined the BJP, the latest being 10-time MLA Mohansinh Rathava who represents Chhota Udepur at present. The BJP has fielded his son Rajendrasinh from the constituency this time. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is hoping to split votes and turn a traditionally bilateral contest into a triangular fight.Gujarat’s tribal belt stretches across 14 districts, from Ambaji in the north to Umbergaon in the south. This region shares borders with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Though Adivasis constitute 14 per cent of the electorate, in the past they have been one of the biggest contributors to the Congress’s tally in the Assembly. The party found electoral success in the 1980s with its KHAM social alliance strategy. The alliance was made up of the Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, and Muslim communities, which constitute over 50 per cent of the state’s population.Of the 27 ST-reserved seats, BJP won eight last time and the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) bagged the two, in alliance with the Congress. Fourteen of these constituencies are in south Gujarat, where the BJP holds eight seats at the moment; 10 are in central Gujarat, where the BJP has five, and three are in north Gujarat, where two of the Congress-held seats are now vacant and one is still with the Opposition party.Among the election issues for tribals are unemployment, healthcare, education, caste certificate, and the implementation of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, or PESA Act. While the BJP is promoting Kevadia in Narmada district, where the Statue of Unity came up in 2018, as a “model of tribal development” and employment, the Opposition has taken up the issue of land acquisition and the non-implementation of PESA, which gives indigenous land owners the absolute right to their property.BJP confidentPrime Minister Narendra Modi launched the BJP’s campaign from Kaprada in Valsad on November 6, saying that for him “A” stood for Adivasis. Five days earlier, the PM visited Mangarh in bordering Rajasthan, where he paid tribute to Adivasis killed by the British in 1913.But, like the Congress, the ruling party, too, has not been able to groom a tribal leader and is banking on the PM’s appeal to see it through. Following Droupadi Murmu’s election as President of India, the party organised celebratory processions in the state’s tribal areas and Modi also made several pre-election visits to the Adivasi areas of Dahod, Tapi, Panchmahals, and Jambughoda.The BJP, which now controls all the taluka and district panchayats in the tribal districts, is looking to increase its ST seat tally. The party’s Bharuch MP Mansukh Vasava, who is in charge of the ST seats in south Gujarat, told The Indian Express, “It is true that tribals have been a bit angry with the party over certain issues like PESA but that is a small number. We are reaching out to them too. By and large, tribals are aware that the BJP government, in the last 20 years, has made their lives better and brought development … Moreover, we are strong on the ground in these areas than ever before — right from the sarpanches to the taluka panchayat and the district panchayat, the BJP has won all seats and it will have a direct impact on our Assembly seat results. We are extremely confident.”Absence of the GandhisThe Congress has not had a pan-Gujarat tribal leader since former Chief Minister Amarsinh Chaudhary died in 2004. The possible exception is its Vansda MLA Anant Patel in south Gujarat who led a series of rallies against the Par Tapi Narmada (PTN) Yojana, forcing the Centre to scrap it earlier this year. But Anant’s influence is also limited to south Gujarat.Khedbrahma MLA Ashwin Kotwal was a popular Congress tribal leader but he is now in the BJP. The party’s veteran legislator Anil Joshiyara from Bhiloda died of Covid-related complications in March and his son Kewal is in the ruling party.A senior Congress leader said the absence of the Gandhis from the campaign would hamper the party’s chances. “The tribal population does look up to the Gandhi family even today,” said the Congress functionary. “So far, we have not heard if Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka ji will arrive to campaign in tribal areas … Last time, Rahul Gandhi’s yatra through the tribal seats and his interaction with students had worked in the party’s favour … (Delhi CM Arvind) Kejriwal has cashed in on Rahul Gandhi’s absence.”But Anant Patel told The Indian Express, “The tribals of south Gujarat are unhappy with BJP as they have to lose their land for a bullet train, express highway, Saputara to Statute of Unity (SOU) at Kevadiya Highway. The tribals of Navsari, Tapi, Dangs and Surat are unhappy … their anger will reflect in their vote. We also expect the Congress to regain the seats it lost.”What AAP is doingThe AAP started its campaign for the Adivasi seats on a strong note, announcing a pre-election alliance with the BTP earlier this year. But the coalition fell through as the Kejriwal-led party declared candidates on its own and also took away some of the BTP’s leaders. The AAP has fielded former BTP leader Chaitar Vasava from Dediapada, which compelled incumbent MLA Mahesh Vasava of the BTP to shift to his father Chhotubhai Vasava’s Jhagadia constituency. The BJP has fielded former BTP leader Hitesh Vasava from Jhagadia.Kejriwal has addressed three rallies in tribal districts, the last being in Chhota Udepur on August 7 where he promised to implement the PESA Act. Last week, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann held a roadshow in Dahod and Chhota Udepur.In Nandod, where the Statue of Unity is located, the AAP’s nominee Prafful Vasava, who lost the 2017 elections to the BJP’s Waghodia MLA Madhu Shrivastava, will look to take advantage of rebellions in the BJP and the Congress. The ruling party has fielded Darshana Deshmukh, leading its state Tribal Cell president Harshad Vasava to file nomination papers as an independent. The Congress is also dealing with internal strife after it dropped incumbent MLA PD Vasava and chose Haresh Vasava.In Chhota Udepur, some locals are confident that the AAP’s Arjun Rathwa, a former schoolteacher, will defeat Mohansinh Rathava’s son Rajendrasinh who has never contested an election before. The Congress has yet to declare its candidate here.The AAP candidate in Pavi Jetpur in Chhota Udepur district is Radhika Rathwa, the daughter of former Congress MP Amarsinh Rathwa. The unease in the Congress is evident as it has also not yet declared its Pavi Jetpur candidate and incumbent MLA Sukhram Rathva, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, was not present at the party’s manifesto launch on Saturday. Rajendrasinh Rathava is Sukhram’s son-in-law.In Chhota Udeput’s Sankheda seat, the AAP has fielded advocate Ranjan Tadvi to take on incumbent BJP MLA Abesinh Tadvi and former Congress MLA Dhiru Bhil.

In Gujarat’s Adivasi belt, a triangular contest takes shape but advantage BJP
In a seat with large number of Koli voters, BJP springs a surprise by replacing Koli MLA
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Two prominent figures are missing from the short, second list of nominees the BJP put out on Friday for the Gujarat Assembly elections in December.This takes the total number of sitting MLAs dropped to 40 and the total number of BJP candidates declared to 166, in which, all 89 seats going to the polls on December 1 have been covered.Of the six seats whose nominees were announced today, the names of Bhavnagar East MLA Vibhavari Dave, who was a minister in the Vijay Rupani Cabinet, and of Jankhana Patel, the sitting MLA from Choryasi, were missing. Sejal Pandya is the candidate for Bhavnagar East, while Choryasi goes to Sandeep Desai.Not only is Choryasi the seat with the highest number of voters — five lakh — it also has a high number of Koli voters. Patel was a Koli, while Desai — the BJP Surat district president — is an Anahvil Brahmin. Party sources said there was anger in the area against the sitting MLA, among people of her own community. In comparison, Sandeep Desai, the current district BJP president who has completed two terms in the role, is popular due to his engagements with cooperative bodies like sugar, farmer, cooperative bank, and APMC etc., so he was chosen to fight his first election.However, late afternoon on Saturday, some supporters of Jankhana Patel protested against the candidature of Sandip Desai in front of the Surat city BJP office. The party workers chanted slogans against Desai, saying they won’t accept a non-Koli candidate from Choryasi.In 2017, Jankhana Patel had won Choryasi with a margin of over one lakh votes, defeating the Congress candidate Yogesh Patel. This year, the AAP has fielded Prakash Contractor and the Congress Kanti Patel from Choryasi, both Kolis.Apart from Kolis, Choryasi has a large number of migrant voters from UP, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, etc., who have settled in Surat and are engaged as labourers in the textile industry.Talking to The Indian Express, Sandip Desai said, “There were around 58 BJP leaders who had expressed interest in contesting from this seat before the party’s election observers. The party kept faith in me and I will work hard with my team and come out victorious.”The BJP also nominated an old-timer and former MLA Mulu Bera. Bera has been in and out of the Assembly, having won in 1995 by a thin margin, as well as in 2007, while losing in 2002 and 2012. This time, he will contest from a new constituency, Khambhaliya. He last contested from Jamnagar North in 2012.From Kutiyana, where the NCP has nominated sitting MLA Kandhal Jadeja, the BJP will be represented by Dheliben Odedara.(With ENS Ahmedabad)

In a seat with large number of Koli voters, BJP springs a surprise by replacing Koli MLA
Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan finally gets audience with Rahul, says ghost of G-23 has been buried
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

AFTER a long wait, senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan finally got an audience with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi last week in Nanded during the ongoing Maharashtra leg of Bharat Jodo Yatra. After his name surfaced as part of the ‘G-23’ of senior Congress leaders, Chavan had been cold-shouldered by Rahul and sidelined in Maharashtra politics.In Nanded, however, it was a different picture altogether as Rahul and Chavan walked hand in hand and also interacted for some time as the march entered the region on November 8. “We met in the Congress camp at Nanded. Our other party colleague Sushil Kumar Shinde was also with us. After chatting in the camp, Rahul then asked us to accompany him in his vehicle. In the vehicle too, we had a discussion regarding the yatra and its outcome. Later, we walked together in the yatra,” Chavan told The Indian Express Saturday.Chavan, who is regarded as the most popular Congress leader in Maharashtra, said he had a fruitful discussion and was happy about it. “I could meet him for a one-to-one interaction after a long time. Earlier too, I had met him but that was when we had gone to meet the party president,” the former CM said.Underlining that the “ghost” of G-23 has been buried after the two leaders met and exchanged ideas in an atmosphere of bonhomie, Chavan said that there was no such thing as G-23. “It was a creation of the media. I have been writing letters to the Congress president. I had written several letters to the Congress chief raising issues of importance concerning the party. One such letter got leaked and suddenly the so-called G-23 emerged. Even the names of the leaders became public,” he said.Chavan said they had wanted to raise three issues with the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “One was having a full-time president, second was introspection about the election losses suffered by the party in different parts of the country and third, if Rahul Gandhi does not want to become the president, then holding an election for the post. All our three demands have been fulfilled and we all have congratulated the new Congress president,” Chavan said.Asked on the aim of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Chavan said that Rahul intended to build a ‘Jan Andolan’ (people’s movement) against the Modi government and did not want the march to be a Congress-based movement. “And hence was seeking participation for all sections of society… The yatra is getting an overwhelming response and Rahul is hopeful it will turn into a mass movement against the current regime.”Chavan said he was sceptical about the march getting hijacked by other leaders. “But now that Rahul Gandhi is leading it, it has turn into a strong force,” he said.Although Rahul Gandhi and Chavan together made a happy picture after a long time, the Maharashtra Congress leaders showed little respect to the former chief minister. In Nanded, it was another former chief minister Ashok Chavan who hogged the limelight as he shared the stage and delivered a speech welcoming Rahul Gandhi. “Ideally, Prithviraj Chavan should have been allowed to share the stage but he was kept on the sidelines by the state Congress leader,” said a Congress leader.

Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan finally gets audience with Rahul, says ghost of G-23 has been buried
Gujarat elections 2022: Cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife Rivaba to begin political innings from Jamnagar (north)
Times of India | 2 months ago | |
Times of India
2 months ago | |

RAJKOT: Leaving its sitting MLA Dharmendrasinh Jadeja’s aspirations high and dry, the BJP chose Rivaba, wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, as its face for the Jamnagar (north) seat this polls. Despite Dharmendrasinh having already started his campaigning in the constituency, the party high command chose to launch Rivaba, a newbie in the political arena who will contest her first-ever polls this time. Soon after her name was declared as a candidate, Ravindra Jadeja congratulated his wife on his Facebook page and said: “So proud of all the efforts and hard work which you have put in. My best wishes to you. You may continue to work for the development of society.” The cricketer also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Union home minister Amit Shah for “believing in her (Rivaba’s) abilities”. Native of Junagadh, Rivaba is a mechanical engineer by profession and had started her political career by joining the Karni Sena before donning the saffron hues formally. The power couple had also gone to meet PM Modi. Talking to TOI, Rivaba said, “I have full support of my husband and will soon join me in the election campaign.” “(Ravindra) Jadeja will not only campaign for one seat, but I have asked him to also campaign for the BJP on other seats also,” Rivaba had earlier told media persons in Jamnagar on Thursday. According to sources, winning the seat will be a tough proposition for Rivaba, whose predecessor Dharmendrasinh had won it in 2012 on Congress ticket and then in 2017 on BJP ticket. The constituency has significant population of Dalit and Muslim voters and may have to combat even internal opposition from miffed party workers. The advantage that she will have is her celebrity status owing to her cricketer husband, said sources, adding that tongues are already wagging on the candidate’s noticeable absence in Jamnagar. BJP replaced R C Faldu in Jamnagar South constituency with Divyesh Akbari, a Leuva Patel corporator in Jamnagar Municipal Corporation (JMC) for the past three terms. Jamnagar South constituency has been a traditional BJP stronghold as the party has been winning this rural seat since 1985. BJP repeated Raghavji Patel who had joined the BJP ahead of the 2017 election but lost the election on BJP ticket. He thereafter won the seat in the 2019 by-election.

Gujarat elections 2022: Cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife Rivaba to begin political innings from Jamnagar (north)
Maharashtra governor’s nod to speaker polls took 17 months
Times of India | 2 months ago | |
Times of India
2 months ago | |

HYDERABAD: Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan is yet to give her approval to seven bills sent by the state government, which set off a fresh debate on the role of governors vis-a-vis their equation with the state governments. The longest period that a governor has kept a bill pending was in Maharashtra where governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari refused to set a date for the speaker's election. Maharashtra legislative assembly was lying vacant for nearly 17 months and the assembly ran with a deputy speaker for more than one year. The speaker's post was filled in two days after a new government took over reins this year. Koshyari kept refusing to set a date for the speaker's election. He, however, changed his mind after the new government took over. Election of the speaker is the prerogative of the House as assembly rules affirm that a governor will only set the date for the speaker's election, a constitutional expert said. Bills have never been held back for long by Raj Bhavan in both Telugu states. For that matter, governors have never sat over bills when AP was a unified state till 2014. But, there was a huge controversy in 1984 when Thakur Ram Lal was officiating as governor of AP between 1983-84. He was involved in a game of oneupmanship with the then TDP government over appointing finance minister Nadendla Bhaskar Rao as chief minister when NT Rama Rao, who was the CM, was away in the United States. When the TDP first came to power, Ram Lal was the governor. When NTR was off to the US for a surgery in August 1984, Ram Lal appointed Nadendla as the CM. Nadendla enjoyed only 20% of the MLAs' support. The state was witness to unprecedented political drama and NTR launched a massive campaign. The then president Zail Singh dismissed Ram Lal and NTR became the CM again.

Maharashtra governor’s nod to speaker polls took 17 months
7,751 Maharashtra gram panchayats go to polls on December 18
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Elections to 7,751 gram panchayats for the post of sarpanch and other panchayat members will be held on December 18, Maharashtra election commissioner U P S Madan announced Wednesday. These are panchayats whose terms are ending between October and December 2022. Also, elections for all newly established gram panchayats will be announced on November 18, Madan said.Nomination papers can be filed from November 28 to December 2. Scrutiny of nomination papers will take place on December 5. The last date for withdrawal of nomination papers will be December 7, till 3 pm, and distribution of election symbols will be done on the same day. Voting will be held on December 18, 2022, from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm. The voting time will be till 3 pm only in Naxal-affected areas. The counting of votes will take place on December 20, 2022, Madan announced.The number of gram panchayats which will go to polls on December 18 district-wise are: Ahmednagar- 203, Akola- 266, Amravati- 257, Aurangabad- 219, Beed- 704, Bhandara- 363, Buldana- 279, Chandrapur- 59, Dhule- 128, Gadchiroli- 27, Gondia- 348, Hingoli- 62, Jalgaon- 140, Jalna- 266, Kolhapur- 475, Latur- 351, Nagpur- 237, Nandurbar- 123, Osmanabad- 166, Palghar- 63, Parbhani- 128, Pune- 221, Raigad- 240, Ratnagiri- 222, Sangli- 452, Satara- 319, Sindhudurg- 325, Solapur- 189, Thane- 42, Wardha- 113, Washim- 287, Yavatmal- 100, Nanded- 181 and Nashik- 196.Fadnavis calls for ‘one nation, one election’In a statement issued on Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the country and Maharashtra need ‘one nation, one election’. “Last time Sudhir Mungantiwar chaired a committee whose report presented that there is an election code of conduct on 365 days every five years. Which means some part or another in the state is going for elections. I believe ‘one nation, one election’ is needed. Now, this is restricted to Maharashtra, but even in the country, there are periodic elections for states. If elections all happen at one time, it will save expenses, voters will have a holistic informed view of political parties, and politicians will also have to take one planned stand and appear before voters, instead of politics of opportunity,” Fadnavis said.

7,751 Maharashtra gram panchayats go to polls on December 18
Dissolution of Sharad Pawar-led Maharashtra wrestling association committee ‘illegal’, not in ‘sporting spirit’: Bombay High Court
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

The Bombay High Court Wednesday held “illegal” the June 30 decision of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to dissolve the elected executive committee of Maharashtra State Wrestling Association (MSWA), led by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. The bench said the WFI decision was not taken in “sporting spirit”.A single-judge bench of Justice Sandeep K Shinde held the June 30 decision of the WFI as “unreasonable and unenforceable,” and as a consequence, quashed and set aside the July 31 election held by the ad-hoc committee of the MSWA as being “illegal”.It held that the elected body of the MSWA headed by Pawar “shall hold the office till its tenure comes to an end and shall carry on its day-to-day functions in accordance with its Constitution.”The MSWA had said that the committee was controlled by Pawar for nearly four decades. However, in a June 30 meeting of the WFI’s national executive, the national body, headed by BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, decided to dissolve the said committee, citing the state body’s failure to conduct certain tournaments. The MSWA said that such a decision was taken in an “arbitrary” manner.The MSWA had said that as per news reports, the state body’s control was being handed over to Ramdas Tadas, BJP MP from the Wardha constituency.The petitioner said the committee headed by Pawar was elected in 2019 for five years and its tenure was to end in 2023. The association had challenged a July 4 WFI communication through which the committee’s general secretary B S Landge was informed that their panel had been dissolved and an ad hoc committee appointed for the functioning of the association.In August this year, a division bench of the high court directed the MSW to file an appeal before the WFI president challenging “sudden dissolution” of the MSWA’s elected executive committee led by Pawar. The WFI, in its response to the MSWA’s plea, had stated that the Maharashtra association can exercise the option of remedy of appeal before the national body president.As per the court order, the petitioner MSWA filed an appeal before the president of WFI, who dismissed the same on October 3, prompting the petitioner MSWA to file a writ plea challenging the same.The MSWA, through advocates I K Tripathi and Tushar Pawar, claimed before the high court that the WFI was not empowered to dissolve the elected governing council of its unit member, as same is subject to the administrative, inquisitive and supervisory control of the Charity Commissioner under Section 3 of the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act, therefore its decision was not as per law and against the “principles of natural justice.”Justice Shinde observed, “Before superseding and/or dissolving the elected body of petitioner-MSW, neither Association was heard, nor its elected Governing Council Members were apprised of the allegations-cum-charges, which forced WFI to dissolve the State Body, although tenure of the Council Members, is yet to come to an end. Therefore, the decision of the Executive Committee of WFI was, not only in breach of principles of natural justice, but behind their back.”The court called the WFI decision “a harsh action” and said it ought to have given an opportunity to the elected members of the MSWA before taking such a decision.Justice Shinde held, “Thus, the decision of WFI to dissolve the petitioner Association and superseding the elected Committee, being taken in violation of principles of natural justice and in gross violation of procedural safeguards and fairness, I have no hesitation to hold that the Resolution passed in the meeting of the Executive committee in its Meeting dated June 30, 2022, to dissolve the petitioner-Association and authorising the President, WFI to form an Ad-Hoc Committee, to conduct fresh election and also to run day-to-day affairs of the Association, till the election is held, was unreasonable, illegal and not in “sporting spirit”. Therefore, it deserves to be quashed and accordingly, quashed and set aside.”

Dissolution of Sharad Pawar-led Maharashtra wrestling association committee ‘illegal’, not in ‘sporting spirit’: Bombay High Court
TRS issues public notice on name change to BRS, invites objections
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

A day after its victory in the Munugode Assembly constituency, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) issued a public notice in a few newspapers on its name change to Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and invited objections from the public if any.The party had submitted a representation to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on October 6 after its general body meeting (GBM) unanimously passed a resolution for the name change.The notice read: “This is for the notice of the general public that the political party by the name TRS with headquarters at Telangana Bhavan, Road no.10, registered with ECI proposes to change its name to Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). If anyone has any objection to the proposed new name, they may send their objections with reasons, thereof.”The party’s public notice said objections to the name change of TRS can be sent to the Secretary(political party), Election Commission of India, Nirvachan Sadan, Asoka Road, New Delhi, 110001, in the next 30 days.The party’s GBM on October 5, on the occasion of Dussehra, had convened to pass the resolution. Necessary amendments to the party constitution were also made during the meeting. The submission to the ECI has not evoked any response to date, party working president K T Rama Rao told reporters during a press conference after the result of the Munugode bypoll was announced.The delay in a positive response from the ECI is learned to be due to the existence of several small political parties that use the initials BRS. The ECI is expected to review any objections as a process before approving the party’s name change.The party had contested the by-election under its banner TRS, though party leaders and cadre consider the victory at Munugode the first of the many upcoming victories of BRS. As a national party, BRS hopes to contest 100 parliamentary constituencies, to begin with, including in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka that are bordering Telangana.

TRS issues public notice on name change to BRS, invites objections
Andheri East bypoll: No surprise in Latke victory, but runner-up NOTA the scene-stealer
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena won the Andheri (East) Assembly bypoll on Sunday as many observers expected but an eye-catching takeaway from the election was the high share of None of the Above (NOTA) votes at nearly 15 per cent of the votes polled.The high percentage of NOTA votes — up from 2.93 per cent of the total vote share in the 2019 Assembly elections — raised the eyebrows of many, with the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance, of which the Uddhav faction of the Sena is a part, and political observers suspecting the use of money power. Some political analysts claimed that of the total NOTA votes, over 70 per cent was the result of a sustained behind-the-scenes campaign carried out of vendetta for not getting BJP candidate Murji Patel to bow out of the contest. Following appeals from outfits such as the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the BJP withdrew Patel and provided the Thackeray-led Sena’s candidate Rutuja Latke an almost clear path to victory. The bypoll was necessitated by the death of Latke’s husband Ramesh Latke in May.“The NOTA voters in 2019 seem to be traditional voters who choose NOTA as a means of protest. But it seems that the remaining (NOTA) voters (this time) chose NOTA for political vendetta to mobilise voters against Latke. Three kinds of voters might have opted for NOTA. First, those who did not see any viable alternative from the contesting candidates voted NOTA as a protest. Second, the hardcore BJP and RSS supporters may have chosen NOTA since there was no BJP candidate. And third may have been the supporters and sympathisers of Murji Patel who were upset with the BJP as the party asked him to withdraw his nomination and they campaigned for NOTA,” said Sanjay Patil, a political analyst.After the results were declared, Shiv Sena alleged that voters were paid to choose NOTA and alluded to the role of “some parties” in attempting to ensure that Latke’s victory was “disgraced and dishonourable”. Hitting out at the BJP, Uddhav Thackeray said, “It is clear that there was a use of notes in the elections … there was campaigning for NOTA. Had the BJP contested the election, the party would have got the same number of votes as NOTA.”Latke also claimed that the BJP withdrew their candidate after realising that he would lose and hence the NOTA campaign was launched.“The BJP knew that they would get the same number of votes as NOTA, so they withdrew from the polls stating tradition but later campaigned for NOTA,” Latke said.The BJP refuted the allegations and claimed it had nothing to do with the high number of NOTA votes polled. Congratulating Latke, Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar claimed the Uddhav Sena candidate won only because of his party’s help and had the BJP contested she would have lost. “The Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) did not mobilise more votes. Had BJP contested the bypoll, the Shiv Sena candidate would have lost. So, Shiv the Sena (UBT) should realise that Latke’s win is with the help of BJP,” Shelar said.Murji Patel said the low turnout on polling day (November 3) — almost 1.9 lakh voters did not vote — indicated public anger with Uddhav and his party. “There is dissatisfaction and unrest among the public against Thackeray and the Sena led by him. So, almost 70 per cent of voters did not turn up for voting and almost 15 per cent chose NOTA. There is no point in blaming us if people are choosing to vote NOTA,” Patel said.Along with Latke, six other independents and candidates from small parties were in the fray but their total vote share was far less than the NOTA vote share. While these candidates managed to receive only 7,122 votes of the 86,198 votes polled, 12,721 votes chose NOTA.Sena leader and MLC Anil Parab who alerted the Election Commission (EC) and local police about alleged campaigning and distribution of money to voters to choose for NOTA in the by-poll said this was the victory of Shiv Sainiks and showed that Mumbaikars were with Uddhav Thackeray.“This is a victory of Mumbaikars, the Shiv Sena and the MVA. I had raised with the EC and the local police the issue of distribution of money by a few Opposition party workers to voters. The voters were told to choose NOTA. But no action was taken even after I provided evidence like audio clips and videos of the workers and their identities. So, I think all those votes for NOTA were the Opposition party’s votes,” Parab said.

Andheri East bypoll: No surprise in Latke victory, but runner-up NOTA the scene-stealer
  • Andheri (East) Assembly bypoll result: 14.79% voters preferred NOTA
  • The Economic Times

    At least 14.79 per cent of the total voters who had exercised their franchise in the Andheri (East) Assembly bypoll in Mumbai chose the None of The Above (NOTA) option, as per the data analysed on Sunday when the result was declared. In absolute numbers, 12,806 votes were polled in favour of NOTA, which stood in second space after the winning candidate, an official said. Rutuja Latke, the candidate of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) backed by NCP and Congress, on Sunday won the bypoll by bagging 66,530 votes of the total 86,570 votes polled in the November 3 byelection. Rutuja Latke polled 76.85 per cent of the total votes. In the 2019 election to the Andheri (East) constituency, Ramesh Latke of Shiv Sena polled 62,773 votes against his nearest rival Murji Patel (Independent) who had bagged 45,808 votes. The NOTA tally stood at 4,311 at that time. The byelection was necessitated due to the death of sitting MLA and Rutuja's husband Ramesh Latke in May this year. Rutuja Latke's victory was certain given that the candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Murji Patel, had withdrawn at the last moment, granting a virtual walkover to Rutuja Latke. Besides Rutuja Latke, six Independent candidates were in the fray. Of them, Rajesh Tripathi got 1,571 votes, Neena Khedekar 1,531, Bala Nadar 1,515, Farhana Sayed 1,093, Manoj Nayak 900, and Milind Kamble received 624 votes. A turnout of 31.74 per cent was recorded. Queried on NOTA tally, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray hinted that the BJP's nominee would have scored as many votes had he contested the bypoll. "Had our opponents been in the poll fray, their candidate would have secured the same number of NOTA votes", he told reporters after Rutuja Latke called on him post her win. Speaking on the bypoll outcome, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule said in Thane that the victory of Rutuja Latke was certain the day the BJP withdrew its nominee. Queried on the NOTA tally, he said, "Once withdrawn from the fray, the BJP will not indulge in activities like casting NOTA votes". He recalled the BJP withdrew from the fray after NCP president Sharad Pawar and MNS leader Raj Thackeray's appeal to grant Rutuja Latke a virtual walkover.

  • Andheri East bypoll 2022 result: Rutuja Latke of Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena wins; 12,806 people opt for NOTA
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Rutuja Latke, the candidate of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), won the byelection to Andheri (East) assembly seat decisively with 66,530 votes Her nearest rival was None of the Above (NOTA) 12,806 votes. Latke, the wife of late Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke whose death prompted the bypoll secured 3,757 more votes than her husband. The turnout for voting was low at 38%. Total votes cast — 83,570. Following her victory, Latke said the high number of NOTA votes were that of the BJP. "Had the BJP contested the elections it would have secured that many votes," she said, adding, if the BJP had real sympathy they would never have put up a candidate. "They withdrew after they realised they would not win the election," she said. The counting was held in 19 rounds. Latke was leading right from the start. The six independent candidates secured votes ranging from 624 (Milind Kamble) to 1,571 (Rajesh Tripathi). Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray said that despite the conspiracy in which the party's name and symbol were snatched, the Mashaal (the new party symbol) was lit and the Saffron flag unfurled. "This is the beginning of a fight and it has begun with a win. We had the support of the Congress, NCP, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), Communist Party, Sambhaji Brigade and several others. The forthcoming elections will be won similarly," he said. Hitting back, union minister Narayan Rane said the BJP had already offered its support. "We did not leave them hanging," he said. In a tweet, BJP Mumbai unit president Ashish Shelar said Latke’s victory was owing to the support of the BJP. "Congress, NCP, Communist and a dozen others backed the Shiv Sena (UBT) yet the voting did not increase nor did they get more votes. Had the BJP contested their defeat was certain," he tweeted. भाजपाच्या मदतीमुळे मा. ऋतुजा लटके यांचा अंधेरी पूर्व मध्ये विजय..ऋतुजाताईंचे अभिनंदन!!काँग्रेस,राष्ट्रवादी,भाकपडझ… https://t.co/twngwOJ9qu— Adv. Ashish Shelar - ॲड. आशिष शेलार (@ShelarAshish) 1667723878000Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Anil Parab said they had complained to the Election Commission about voters being offered money to press the NOTA button. "Yet the police did not take cognizance of our complaint. NOTA votes were obtained illegally. The elections prove Mumbaikars are with the SS (UBT),” he said, adding that while the BJP withdrew its candidate it did not support Latke.

Mahesh Vasava: Without any alliance, popular tribal leader in a spot of bother
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Mahesh Vasava, 55, the two-time MLA from the Dediapada constituency in Narmada district of Gujarat, is the son of Chhotubhai Vasava, 78, a heavyweight tribal leader and seven-time MLA from Jhagadia. Mahesh is also the President of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), which has recently been in the news for its premature alliance break-up with the Aam Aadmi Party.Mahesh, who is gearing up to contest the forthcoming Assembly polls from the Dediapada seat for a third term, is seen as the inheritor of Chhotubhai’s legacy, even as his two other brothers are said to be harbouring political ambitions. Along with the father, Mahesh is a prominent face in the politics of south Gujarat, particularly in Bharuch and Narmada districts, where the party has a strong presence. However, Mahesh has been eyeing a strong alliance partner to take ahead the ‘aspirations’ of the tribal party that had won two seats—of Chhotubhai and Mahesh—out of the six it contested in its maiden election in 2017.Mahesh was instrumental in forming the BTP—a political party that was born out of the Bhilistan Tiger Sena movement, which had been advocating for a separate tribal state of Bhilistan from parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat.Mahesh floated the BTP after the JD(U) split in 2017, and the faction led by Sharad Yadav—who the Vasavas are close to—lost its petition, staking claim to the election symbol of the party. He simultaneously registered BTP with the Election Commission.Although the decisions of the BTP are governed by the word of its patriarch Chhotubhai, it is Mahesh who has been meeting leaders of other parties for possible alliances. In April this year, Mahesh travelled to New Delhi to meet AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal for a proposed alliance in Gujarat. Afterwards in May, Kejriwal visited the Vasavas’ residence in Chanderiya of Bharuch, where the two parties announced an alliance. This was later called-off by the Vasavas, citing “sidelining” and “cheating” by AAP, which has fielded at least two former BTP leaders from both the tribal Assembly seats in Narmada.Previously, Mahesh was instrumental in forging an alliance with AIMIM for the local body polls, which had turned detrimental for the party. While Mahesh is going ahead with the BTP contesting the polls alone, the party is yet to announce any candidates. In an attempt to expand the BTP’s footprint across the country, he has been extensively campaigning in various elections in Rajasthan—where the party has two MLAs—and also in tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.Just a couple of weeks before calling off the alliance with AAP, Mahesh, in his capacity as an MLA, had shared the dais with Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, at an event of the tribal welfare and forest department in Dediapada.Mahesh, a farmer, is a school passout. He began his political career as a member of the Bharuch district panchayat in 1996, which he contested on a JD(U) ticket. Five years later, in 2002, he contested the 2002 Gujarat Assembly polls from Dediapada and won with 38,665 votes, leaving behind candidates of the BJP, the Congress and the NCP. Mahesh subsequently lost the 2007 election to Congress’s Amarsinh Vasava by a margin of 22,379 votes. In 2012, the Dediapada seat was bagged by BJP’s Motilal Vasava by over 56,000 votes, leaving JD(U)’s Mahesh behind.As a candidate of the Congress-BTP alliance in 2017, Mahesh came back to defeat Motilal Vasava of the BJP for the Dediapada Assembly seat by 21,751 votes, and earned his second term as MLA. Presently, he is also the vice-chairman of Bharuch Dudhdhara dairy, which has a BJP-majority board.Mahesh has 24 criminal cases registered against him since 1991. Of these, he and his two brothers were convicted and sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment in an attempt-to-murder case by the Ankleshwar court in 2016, despite the victim turning hostile during the trial. However, the Gujarat High Court granted Mahesh bail later the same year. An appeal against the conviction is still pending before the HC.While Mahesh continues to enjoy significant local on-ground support in Bharuch and Narmada districts, there is cause for worry as there is no BTP-Congress alliance as in 2017, while the BJP and AAP are ready to field candidates from Dediapada. Although the BTP leader maintains that the BJP’s success in the February 2021 local body polls is due to “tampered EVM machines”, it can’t be ignored that in Dediapada taluka panchayat, where the JD(U) held 12 seats till 2015, the BTP came down to two in 2021, notwithstanding the fact that the BTP chief is the Dediapada MLA.

Mahesh Vasava: Without any alliance, popular tribal leader in a spot of bother