The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 23-11-2022 | 05:45 am
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday said he would join the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra at the entry point of Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that maintaining the unity and integrity of the country is the need of the hour.Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is leading the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.“As soon as he reaches Lakhanpur, which is where Jammu and Kashmir starts, I will go there and join Rahul Gandhi. We will walk together for the unity and integrity of this nation,” Abdullah told PTI from New Delhi.He added it is the need of the hour to stand united.The former chief minister is currently in New Delhi for a parliamentary committee meeting and is likely to return to Jammu.The Congress has dubbed the yatra as “India’s biggest mass contact programme”.
NAVNIRMAN SENA President Raj Thackeray Sunday hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his remarks V D Savarkar during his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra. The MNS chief questioned what is Rahul’s “stature to talk ill about Savarkar”.He also asked Congress and BJP to stop maligning national icons like V D Savarkar and Jawaharlal Nehru and instead focus on important issues facing the country. During his yatra, Rahul had stoked a row by claiming Savarkar had written mercy petitions to the British from the Andaman cellular jail. Highlighting Savarkar’s letter to the British, the Congress leader said it was a mercy petition.The MNS chief said it was not mercy or surrender but a part of a strategy Savarkar used. “…Are you worthy to talk ill about Savarkar? Have you seen where he was kept, what hardships he endured? It was not a mercy petition. There is a thing called a strategy,” Thackeray said, adding Savarkar was sentenced 50 years in jail, and it was part of his strategy to come out of prison and work for the country.
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson, Swati Maliwal on Sunday condemned the objectionable statement by yoga guru and businessman, Baba Ramdev on women, calling his remarks “indecent.”Maliwal in a tweet said, “The remarks made by Swami Ramdev on women in front of the wife of the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra are indecent and condemnable. All women have been hurt by this statement, Baba Ramdev ji should apologize to the country for this statement!”महाराष्ट्र के उपमुख्यमंत्री जी की पत्नी के सामने स्वामी रामदेव द्वारा महिलाओं पर की गई टिप्पणी अमर्यादित और निंदनीय है। इस बयान से सभी महिलाएँ आहत हुई हैं, बाबा रामदेव जी को इस बयान पर देश से माफ़ी माँगनी चाहिए! pic.twitter.com/1jTvN1SnR7— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) November 26, 2022DCW Chair’s statement comes after Maharashtra State Women Commission on Saturday served a notice to Ramdev asking him to clarify his stand in three days.At a function in Thane on Friday, Ramdev said, “Women look good in sarees, women look good in salwar suits too, and in my eyes, they look good even if they wear nothing.”Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s wife Amruta and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s son and Lok Sabha MP Shrikant Shinde were present at the function.Opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Saturday protested against the objectionable statement made against women by Ramdev. NCP’s women workers garlanded Ramdev’s photo with chappals.Slamming Baba Ramdev, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP, Mahua Moitra reacted sharply over his comments calling his “views lop-sided.”“Now I know why Patanjali baba ran away from Ramlila Maidan in women’s clothes. He says he likes sarees, salwars and …… Clearly got a strabismus in his brain that makes his views so lop-sided,” she said in a tweet.Now I know why Patanjali baba ran away from Ramlila Maidan in women’s clothes. He says he likes sarees, salwars and ……Clearly got a strabismus in his brain that makes his views so lop-sided.— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) November 26, 2022Ramdev hasn’t issued a statement yet, even after the comments have drawn flak from groups and individuals.
It was in 1985 that Medha Patkar, then just 31, left her PhD midway to jump headlong into the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). Mumbai-born Patkar, the daughter of freedom fighter and labour union leader Vasant Khanolkar, had done her Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and from her early years got involved in several causes involving generally the “oppressed” and poor.However, it was the Narmada agitation, which grew into a protest against big dams and the right of the displaced to rehabilitation, later spreading to other similar projects, that came to define the activist.It also brought her into direct conflict with the Gujarat government, particularly when it was led by Narendra Modi between 2001-14, with Modi staking the development image of his government on the ambitious Sardar Sarovar dam project.Patkar’s appearance at Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra recently, walking shoulder to shoulder with him, was enough for the BJP to drag the activist into the election slugfest.Modi, who remains the face of the BJP campaign, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, have all attacked Patkar during this election, as “anti-Gujarat”, a prime hurdle in the state’s development, and as “urban Naxal”.The Sardar Sarovar dam project on Narmada river for which Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone on April 5, 1961, had a full reservoir level (FRL) height of 49.08 metres for harnessing the river for irrigation and power generation in the Narmada basin. In 1965, a higher dam with an FRL of 152.45 metres was recommended by a committee. Madhya Pradesh did not agree to its recommendations, leading to the setting up of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal in October 1969.This tribunal gave its final award in 1979, fixing the FRL at 138.68 metres, as well as the share of the water and hyrdo power between the riparian states — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. This award was to neither be changed nor reviewed till 2025. The aim of this dam was to provide water for irrigation in at least 15 districts of Gujarat and some parts of Rajasthan and Maharashtra and to share the hydroelectric generated between Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.The construction of the dam began in 1987, backed by funds from the World Bank. By then, the NBA was already spearheading protests against it. Finally, under immense pressure from anti-dam activists, the World Bank withdrew from the project in 1993. The construction was later halted by the Supreme Court in May 1995.In February 1998, the work on the dam resumed, with its height then at 88 metres. In 2000, the apex court set a condition of supervised relief and rehabilitation for the dam oustees. By 2004, the FRL had reached 110.64 metres. In March 2006, when Modi was about to complete his first term as CM, clearance was given for raising the dam’s height to 121.92 metres. When the Centre sought a review, Modi sat on a hunger strike for 51 hours.In 2014, just 17 days after it took over at the Centre, the Modi government gave permission to raise the dam’s height to its maximum and install sluice gates. In July this year, its waters reached its final Kutch end.While the BJP has always blamed the Congress governments over the years for not releasing funds and hence delaying the Sardar Sarovar Project, under the Modi government, as per figures tabled in the Gujarat Assembly in March 2021, only 64% of the Rs 9,605 crore sought by the state has been released between 2015-16 and 2019-20 for it.Along with other activists, prominent leaders and academicians, the NBA relentlessly fought against the Gujarat government, starting with Congress CM Chimanbhai Patel, over the Sardar Sarovar Project. Its contention was that the tribals’ displacement from their native habitats caused by big dams and their resettlement elsewhere would leave them devastated.At its maximum FRL of 138.68 metres, the Sardar Sarovar dam submerged 37,690 hectares — 11,279 hectares of agricultural land, 13,542 hectares of forests and 12,869 hectares of river basin and wasteland. In all, 193 villages of Madhya Pradesh, 33 of Maharashtra and 19 of Gujarat were affected, with additionally 243 villages partly affected in Gujarat.The NBA demanded proper rehabilitation of 40,000 people who, it said, were displaced by the dam project, particularly tribals across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.The Patkar-led movement held indefinite fasts, demonstrations and rallies, drawing hundreds of supporters to protests against the Sardar Sarovar dam and other big dams in the Narmada Valley. In the 1980s and 1990s, she also ran foul of the Congress governments in the affected states, with governments accusing her of hampering development.In the 1980s, as part of the movement, Patkar organised a 36-day solidarity march from Madhya Pradesh to the Sardar Sarovar Project site. Patkar’s agitation, along with protests by locals, forced the World Bank to set up Morse Commission, an independent review of the project, which is said to have concluded that it violated environmental and resettlement policies. The World Bank withdrew funding in 1993.Her agitation also saw clashes between the NBA members and the authorities, while drawing support from the late Baba Amte, Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, film star Aamir Khan, and filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, among others. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, too, participated in a protest rally organised by the NBA in 2016.Patkar undertook many fasts to protest against major dams over the years and also periodically sat on Jal Satyagrahas in the villages that now stand submerged in the Narmada Basin, to oppose oustees’ evacuations.Noted Dalit writer of Maharashtra Arjun Dangle, who closely watched the NBA agitation, said: “Medhatai’s integrity and commitment to the cause of the tribals, oppressed and downtrodden cannot be doubted. She single-mindedly pursued a cause to get justice for the tribals and poor displaced by the dam projects.”Patkar has always maintained that it is wrong to call her or her organisation “anti-development”, asserting that she only fights for the rights of the tribals and people displaced by various projects and never properly rehabilitated.Political parties across divides have also often questioned the source of funds to her organisation. Patkar and 11 others were booked in a case of alleged misuse of funds in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh, which was filed in July this year. They were accused of allegedly misusing around ₹ 13 crore collected in the name of education of tribal children. Patkar rejected the charges as baseless and “politically-motivated”.Apart from the dam-affected people, Patkar has taken up the cause of slum dwellers in Mumbai under the aegis of Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao, accusing land sharks and big developers of forcibly evicting them. She has also sued contractors by filing PILs against them.It was largely due to her protests that in 2006, the then Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra brought a new housing policy promising affordable houses and slum redevelopment.She was also one of the opponents to the hill station project Lavasa City near Pune for allegedly violating environment laws and taking away land of tribals.In 2007, Patkar for the first time ventured beyond Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, and joined the Nandigram agitation in Kolkata. With the Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee leading the stir, the Tatas eventually relocated the Nano plant for which land had been taken in Nandigram to Gujarat.Patkar was part of the agitation against land acquisition for the nuclear plant at Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh as well.In March 2022, she questioned the Silverline semi-high speed railway corridor project being built in Kerala by the Pinarayi Vijayan government-led LDF government.In her late 60s, Patkar is still fighting, raising her voice against the JSW Steel Project in Odisha as recently as June. However, this time, she did not get any support, with villagers driving her away. In July, an FIR was filed against her by one villager in Odisha alleging that the NBA trust had misused funds meant for education of tribals.Senior CPI leader Prakash Reddy said it was natural for the BJP to attack her. “The party has always sided with the capitalists. Anybody who fights for the poor gets treated badly.”Patkar has been at the centre of the BJP’s attack in its campaign for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls, first to target the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for having fielded Patkar in a Lok Sabha election(in 2014 from Mumbai North East seat, which she lost) and recently, to attack the Congress after she joined Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra during its Maharashtra leg. In his Gujarat poll rallies, PM Modi slammed the Congress over Patkar marching with Rahul, asking voters to punish “Narmada protesters”.
In December 2002, the Congress, which had governments in several states, had at least six state chief ministers and several national leaders flown into Gujarat to campaign for the Assembly polls.The elections were being held in the backdrop of the Godhra train burning and the riots, followed by the Akshardham terror attack which investigators had said was “revenge” for the riots. Narendra Modi, then the chief minister, had earned the sobriquet of “Hindu Hriday Samrat (ruler of Hindu hearts)”. He led a Gaurav Yatra across the length and breadth of the state, his speech largely targeting the minorities and the Congress’s president of “Italian origin”.The events of that election added up to a “Hindutva wave” leading the BJP to win 127 of 182 seats, its best performance so far. The Congress’s “carpet bombing” of netas — Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot, Maharashtra’s Vilasrao Deshmukh, Karnataka’s SM Krishna, Chhattisgarh’s Ajit Jogi, Madhya Pradesh’s Digvijaya Singh and Delhi’s Sheila Dikshit — created an atmosphere in the party’s favour, but did not help the party return to power. In the two-way contest, the Congress won 51 seats, two going to Independents, and two to the Janata Dal (United).While the BJP’s “carpet bombing” in Gujarat in the past two weeks may resemble the Congress’s 20 years ago, the former has many strategic layers. The new feature in 2022 being the huge number of campaigners brought in from Uttar Pradesh, a state that has had a deep link with Gujarat since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and where the BJP won the Assembly election in March riding on the slogan of “double-engine sarkar”.For the first time, an army of at least 160 BJP leaders and workers have landed from Uttar Pradesh to campaign in Gujarat, right from MPs to district-level leaders that UP leaders say is the biggest deployment so far. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched his campaign from Wankaner near Morbi on a stage flanked by JCB backhoes, banners describing him as “Hindu Hriday Samrat” and crowds hailing him as “bulldozer baba”. He has now conducted several rallies. While Adityanath aggressively argues in favour of the “Gujarat model” for the country in his speeches, on the ground in Gujarat, it is the UP model playing out. Apart from flower-bedecked backhoes being placed at Adityanath’s rally venues, and the campaign riding on the double-engine Sarkar slogan, the BJP manifesto now has also promised to enact the UP-like Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Properties Act that the state ratified last year.All-star campaigns have been carefully planned out. For instance, Adityanath has addressed rallies in constituencies that the BJP won or lost by narrow margins or seats with a sizable number of Muslim votes. He also did roadshows on seats such as the Patidar-dominated Varachha in Surat and Viramgam in support of candidate Hardik Patel. In Dwarka, where CM Bhupendra Patel and Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi have earned adulations from Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the demolition of properties last month on Bet Dwarka island — mostly belonging to minorities and seen as a copy-paste of the UP model — Adityanath was almost deified by the BJP candidate Pabubha Manek during the rally. UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya has also been holding meetings in areas of Gujarat where migrants from the Hindi heartland have been residing.An MP from Sitapur district who was part of the campaign pointed out how the campaign also covered communities such as house painters. “There are at least 500 families doing colour kaam in Ahmedabad who are from Sitapur,” said the leader. “We don’t want a new front to rise,” said a BJP leader from UP, referring to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).According to Sitapur district president of the Bhajpa Pichhda Varg Morcha (BJP OBC cell), Ramjivan Jaiswal, “From UP, 162 BJP workers have been camping here since September and will be here till the election process concludes.”In 2014, the BJP sent a huge group from Gujarat to Varanasi, mostly Brahmin and Patidar leaders, to reach out to their respective communities and campaign for Modi who was the prime ministerial candidate at the time. Arvind Kejriwal, then having quit as Delhi chief minister after 49 days, contested from the seat but lost to Modi. Former Gujarat MoS (Home) Gordhan Zadaphia was made the party’s UP in-charge in 2018 for the Lok Sabha elections the following year.The MP from Uttar Pradesh recalled how the Gujaratis influenced the UP campaign. “It would be very difficult to cover women in door-to-door campaigns as the women would be in purdah and run indoors when our people came to their homes. But when Gujarati women came, they not only covered them in the campaign, but they also conducted a successful rally of women- which is unprecedented for UP.”Before the blitzkrieg of netas, Zadaphia, who is now the number two in the Gujarat BJP after its president CR Paatil, planned a Gujarat Gaurav Yatra across 144 constituencies across five routes. The one passing the tribal belt, which was also the longest, was called the “Adivasi Gaurav Yatra”. “This yatra was different from the others as it kept the city areas out and unlike the earlier yatra that was led by one leader, this had several national and state leaders,” said Zadaphia.Add to all this Modi’s back-to-back rallies, averaging three a day, with a roadshow weaved in. Modi’s rally on Sunday in Surat’s Patidar area of Varachha, where the AAP is giving a tough fight, will be preceded by a 15-km plus roadshow. Kejriwal is also pumping iron and will hold a townhall meeting in the diamond city the same day. The new fighter has also deployed every weapon in its armoury in Gujarat, as has the BJP its “Brahmastra” — a description Paatil used for Modi over a month ago in a media interaction.As a BJP minister said, “This election is a semi-final of 2024 even for the saamnewala (Opposition).”
Taking note of yoga guru and businessman Baba Ramdev’s objectionable statement on women, the Maharashtra State Women Commission on Saturday served a notice to him asking him to clarify his stand in three days.At a function in Thane on Friday, Ramdev said, “Women look good in sarees, women look good in salwar suits too, and in my eyes, they look good even if they wear nothing.”Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s wife Amruta and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s son and Lok Sabha MP Shrikant Shinde were present at the function.“The commission has received a complaint against your comment which was indecent, damaging the honour and dignity of women. A complaint has been received in the commission’s office. Therefore as per Section 12 (2) and 12 (3) of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women, 1993, the commission directs Baba Ramdev to submit the clarification on his statement to the commission office within three days,’’ said state women commission chairperson Rupali Chakankar in her mail to Ramdev.Opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Saturday protested against the objectionable statement made against women by Ramdev. NCP’s women workers garlanded Ramdev’s photo with chappals.Maharashtra Legislative Council Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe condemned the remarks saying it shows his distorted mentality towards women. “While he tells society about moderation and health through yoga, he has such a contaminated attitude towards women, it is very wrong. Not all men look at women this way. A woman comes in contact with many men in her house like brothers, friends, and colleagues in her daily life. But it is a shame that so many men who call themselves gurus in our country have made such indecent comments,’’ she said.Gorhe said that Amruta and other women who were present there should have protested against the comment. Maharashtra Congress leader Sachin Sawant said Ramdev’s real mindset has been exposed by his statement.