The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | 20-11-2022 | 10:45 pm
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.”
Opposition parties and Sambhaji Brigade, a prominent Maratha organisation, have called for a bandh in Pune next Tuesday, December 13, protesting against the alleged objectionable comments against Chhatrapati Shivaji made by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who called Shivaji an “icon of olden times”.Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray faction and Sambhaji Brigade met in front of the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue on the Shri Shivaji Preparatory Military School ground in Shivajinagar Wednesday.“It has been almost a month since the Governor made a controversial statement on Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji. The BJP leadership has not taken any action against him for insulting the Maratha king,” said Santosh Shinde of Sambhaji Brigade.“BJP leaders are repeatedly making statements insulting the Maratha king. There is a need to intensify the agitation against those insulting Chhatrapati Shivaji. Thus, a Pune bandh has been unanimously called on December 13 by representatives of various organisations. However, the bandh will not cause inconvenience to citizens,” he added.The meeting was attended by city NCP chief Prashant Jagtap, city Congress chief Arvind Shinde and Gajanan Thurkude of Shiv Sena “The NCP will participate in the Pune bandh. The details of the kind of agitation will be declared later on,” said city NCP spokesperson Pradeep Deshmukh. City Shiv Sena chief Sanjay More said he was not around and would later announce the plans for the agitation.Last month, during his speech at Dr Ambedkar Marathwada University, Koshyari said: “Earlier, when you would be asked who is your icon — Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Mahatma Gandhi used to be the answer. Whereas in Maharashtra, you need not look elsewhere (as) there are so many icons here… while Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is of olden times, there are icons such as Ambedkar and Nitin Gadkari in modern times.” The Governor’s statement evoked a sharp and angry backlash across political parties.
Good morning! Get your day started with the top reads from today’s edition.Gujarat, Himachal election results todayThe Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is looking to return to power for a seventh consecutive term in Gujarat, riding on the Narendra Modi-wave. All eyes, however, are on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is flying high after its win in the civic polls in Delhi, and hopes to create dents in the BJP bastion. A question remains over the Congress’s fate after its low-key campaign in the state.In Himachal Pradesh, meanwhile, exit polls have predicted a tight race between the BJP and Opposition Congress, with AAP’s bid falling short after it redirected its energies to the Gujarat elections.Head to indianexpress.com for live updates on the counting of votes, analysis and more.Here are five other stories you shouldn’t missThe role, however, comes with its own set of challenges — from an uphill task of selecting a mayor to tackling issues it attacked the BJP on.While the BJP has managed to perform better than exit polls had predicted, would it have retained its control over the MCD had it not been unified? Take a look at our analysis.The Congress, meanwhile, has won just nine out of 250 seats in the MCD, losing its hold over a city it once governed.2. The UP police thought it was a simple open-and-shut case. They believed that a 14-year-old girl, who went missing from her home in Aligarh, was killed and dumped over 90 km away in Agra by her neighbour. Little did the family and police know that the girl was now a married woman, a mother of two children, working mustard fields, attending weddings and religious functions at her new home in Hathras. A chance meeting with a katha vachak (storyteller) blew her cover and the police investigation.3. As tensions continue to mount along the Maharashtra-Karnataka border, the inter-state dispute was echoed in the Parliament on Wednesday. NCP member Supriya Sule accused Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai of “making ad hoc statements” and “conspiring to break Maharashtra”. Ruling BJP MPs from Karnataka took objection to her remarks and pointed out that the matter is in Supreme Court.4. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has unveiled its latest review of the monetary policy. In it, the RBI cut India’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth forecast for the current financial year, maintained the inflation forecast, and raised the repo rate by 35 basis points. Why has RBI taken this hawkish stand? What does the GDP forecast signify about economic recovery? Udit Misra explains. 5. FIFA World Cup 2022: After Morocco’s win over Spain, the team’s star player Achraf Hakimi tore away to the enclosure where his mother was seated. He climbed over the barricade and hugged her, tears rolling down the eyes of both. Not just Hakimi, you could see several other teammates in the embrace of their parents. In fact, parents of most of the Moroccan players are in Doha to watch their children play, many capping long journeys of hardship and pain. 🎧 Before you go, tune in to our podcast, ‘3 Things’: In today’s episode, we talk about the border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka, Goldy Brar’s alleged detention and subsequent interview, and delay in Ayodhya Mosque after 2019 Supreme Court judgement.Until tomorrow, Sonal Gupta and Rahel Philipose
Will it be a seventh consecutive term in power for the BJP in Gujarat; how many seats will the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), flying high after its victory in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections on Wednesday, win; and what will be the Congress’s fate after it ran a low-key campaign?If the exit polls are anything to go by, the BJP is set to equal the Left Front’s record in West Bengal on Thursday while the Arvind Kejriwal-led party is not likely to cross 10 seats in the 182-member Assembly. The Congress, whose spirited campaign had brought down the ruling party’s tally to 99 seats in 2017, is expected to register its worst performance in Gujarat, with none of the pollsters giving the grand old party more than 51 seats.The BJP’s campaign blitzkrieg was centred around Prime Minister Narendra Modi who crisscrossed the state, making an emotional pitch to Gujaratis to “strengthen him”, the son of the soil. He addressed around 30 rallies and road shows, wrapping up the campaign with two roadshows and covering more than over 50 km in Ahmedabad city that is considered to be the BJP’s bastion. Union Home Minister Amit Shah was the second-most prominent campaigner for the party. He was in the state for almost two months, micromanaging the campaign and election strategy for the BJP. He also spent a considerable time in his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency, finalising the candidate list and trying to pacify rebels.The BJP also deployed its heavy-hitters such as chief ministers Yogi Adityanath, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Pramod Sawant, Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and national president JP Nadda for campaigning. The ruling party struck a balance between playing its Hindutva card — it raked up issues such as the 2002 riots and “love jihad”, and in its poll manifesto promised an anti-radicalisation cell and the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code — and its caste arithmetic.Unlike in 2017, when the Patidar quota agitation hit the party hard and benefitted the Congress, this time the BJP tried to get the caste calculus right. It dropped veterans and fielded at least 19 candidates who were originally from the Congress, emphasising “winnability” at the cost of some dissidence in its rank and file.AAP’s debutThe AAP put as much effort into its campaign as the BJP, with its convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann addressing almost as many rallies a day as Modi. With a debilitated Congress running a quiet campaign, the AAP succeeded in creating the perception that it is the main Opposition to the BJP. In a state where the BJP is overwhelmingly dominant, it projected itself as a better candidate to be a more vigilant Opposition than a deflated Congress.Kejriwal’s campaign was based on a call for change after decades of BJP rule and focused on pushing the Delhi school model, a set of “10 guarantees,” and the promise to take pilgrims to the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Though the party is expected by all to open its account, most likely it has to be content with having a foundation on which it can build for the future in a state that has never had a third front.Interestingly, both the Congress and the BJP found common ground in their Opposition to the AAP, saying that the noise it created is disproportionate to its strength and that history isn’t on Kejriwal’s side when it comes to a third front. Former CMs Shankersinh Vaghela who led the Rashtriya Janata Party and Keshubhai Patel who led the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) failed in building a third front in the state.Congress’s troublesIn 2017, the Congress was able to take advantage of the churning in the state resulting from the disenchantment of the Patidar community, farmers and traders with the BJP. Before the elections, it deputed its top leader Ashok Gehlot, the current Rajasthan CM, to Gujarat well in advance and allocated significant resources for campaigning.But this time, Rahul Gandhi, who led a major outreach and travelled across the state, was busy with the Bharat Jodo Yatra and visited Gujarat only for a day. Save Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, other top leaders of the party were absent. Though former Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia claimed that this strategy of running a grassroots campaign “helped the candidates focus on the real issues of price rise, unemployment, on which the BJP avoided a debate”, the exit polls showed this will likely fail and lead to a further shrinking of its footprint in a state where it has been out of power for more than three decades.
A bandh call has been given in the industrial city of Pimpri-Chinchwad on Thursday in protest against the controversial remarks of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and BJP spokesperson Sudanshu Trivedi. The call has been given by the NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT), Congress, VBA and at least 100 social and voluntary organisations.“Essential services, hospitals, ambulances, schools and colleges have been exempted from the bandh. The NCP, Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, Congress, VBA, AIMIM and at least 100 organisations are supporting the bandh,” Maruti Bhapkar, one of the organisers of the bandh, said.Activist Manav Kamble said the bandh has been called to protest against the “insulting” remarks of Koshyari and Trivedi. “We want the Governor to be shifted out of Maharashtra. The Governor has insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj twice and it seems like there is a BJP conspiracy behind this,” he said.Bhapkar said the bandh will be enforced from 9 am to 5 pm. “All shops, industrial units, eateries and markets will remain closed to support the bandh,” he said.
The Shiv Sena (UBT), led by Uddhav Thackeray, has submitted around 20 lakh party membership forms and 2.83 lakh affidavits to the Election Commission (EC) of India, ahead of December 8 – the last day of submission of documents before the poll panel.From December 13, the EC will hear the dispute between the two Sena factions led by Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over which is the real Shiv Sena and would control the party’s organisational structure as well as have the right to use its election symbol bow and arrow.A Shiv Sena (UBT) leader said, “We have filed 2,83,000 affidavits of members from the organisational wing of the party and about 20 lakh primary membership forms. There are more members in the party but due to time constraints, we could only submit 20 lakh.”Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, led by Shinde, has till now submitted around 10 lakh forms of primary membership and 1.8 lakh affidavits from office-bearers. A Shinde faction leader claimed they would submit 10 lakh more membership forms soon. “Ten lakh forms have been submitted to the poll panel in physical form. But we have 10 lakh more forms, which were filled online. We will soon submit the same to the EC,” the leader added.After rebelling against the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in June, leading to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, the Shinde faction had moved EC, seeking allocation of the party’s election symbol and his faction’s recognition as the “real” Shiv Sena. Both the factions of the party were instructed by the EC to submit documentary evidences of their factions, including letters of support and other documents to prove they are the original Sena.