At 75 next year, Modi will make Amit Shah PM if BJP wins polls, claims Kejriwal

News Network
May 11, 2024

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Out of jail and immediately hitting the campaign trail, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday trained guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that he will make way for Amit Shah next year when he turns 75 after sidelining all BJP leaders, including Yogi Adityanath, and jailing Opposition leaders.

Predicting that the BJP will be reduced to “220-230 seats” in the Lok Sabha polls, he claimed that Yogi Adityanath will be removed as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister in two months if at all BJP returns to power to ensure Shah’s elevation as Prime Minister, as Modi himself has set the 75-year retirement rule in his party.

Accusing Modi of being dictatorial and seeking to implement ‘One Nation, One Leader’, Kejriwal insisted that the Prime Minister is not seeking votes for himself  and  people voting for BJP should know that they are not voting for Modi but Shah while wondering whether the latter would implement ‘Modi ki Guarantees’.

He also defended his decision not to resign as Chief Minister after his arrest, as it was a “trap” set by the Prime Minister to “finish off” AAP  and felt that JMM top leader Hemant Soren, who resigned as Jharkhand Chief Minister, also should not have quit his post.

Addressing a press conference that turned out to be a meeting of AAP supporters at the party headquarters here a day after he was released from Tihar jail on interim bail, he also asked Modi to “learn from Kejriwal on how to fight corruption”, as he referred to the induction of leaders who were accused of graft into the BJP. 

In his 20-minute address, which came after his visit to the Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place in the national capital, Kejriwal said Modi wants to crush his party as he knows that the AAP with its good work would replace the BJP.

If Modi does 'good work', no one will talk about AAP but people will not accept the attempts to decimate his party, which is working for the people, Kejriwal said.

“The Prime Minister says he fights against corruption but is inducting thieves and dacoits into his party. A leader who he described as one involved in a Rs 70,000 crore scam was inducted into the party ten days after Modi made the charges. If you want to fight corruption, learn from Kejriwal,” he said, citing instances of sacking and arrests of AAP ministers in Delhi and Punjab.

Warning that Opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Tejashwi Yadav, NK Stalin and Uddhav Thackeray will be jailed by Narendra Modi if BJP wins, he said his arrest was meant to be a message to the country that if Kejriwal can be taken into custody, then anybody can be.

“People need to know, his mission's name is 'One Nation, One Leader'. To achieve this, there are two ways. One is to jail all Opposition leaders and the second is to sideline all leaders in BJP if they win. They have already sidelined L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sumitra Mahajan, Shivraj Singh Chouhan who brought BJP back to power in Madhya Pradesh, Vasundhara Raje, ML Khattar…” Kejriwal said.

“Who is next in line? It is Yogi Adityanath. Take it in writing from me, if BJP wins, the UP Chief Minister will be changed in two months...He wants to crush democracy in this country. I am fighting against it," he said.

Referring to questions on who will be I.N.D.I.A. bloc's Prime Ministerial candidate, he said he has a counter question as Modi is turning 75 next September and he himself has set the retirement rule in the party.

“Now my question is who is BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate? If they can form the government, Yogi Adityanath will be first sidelined and then Amit Shah will be made the Prime Minister. Modiji is not seeking votes for him but for Amit Shah. Who will fulfil Modi's guarantees? Will Amit Shah fulfil it? I don't think they are going to form a government. But those who are going to vote for BJP should know that they are voting for Amit Shah,” he said.

Insisting that I.N.D.I.A. bloc will form the next government and that AAP will be part of it, Kejriwal promised full statehood for Delhi in such a dispensation. Emphasising that he did not resign when he was arrested because Modi had scripted it to finish off the party, he said he wanted to show that if democracy was jailed, it would run from jail.
 

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News Network
May 18,2024

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Bengaluru: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar and other state ministers on Saturday rubbished allegations about their role in the circulation of pen drives containing explicit videos involving Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna.

BJP leader and advocate G Devaraje Gowda, who is in custody after being arrested in a sexual abuse case and is also facing charges of video leak, on Friday alleged that Shivakumar and four other ministers are behind the circulation of the pen drives and was being fixed in false cases as he did not agree to be part of their plan.

He has even alleged that he was offered Rs 100 crore by Shivakumar to "bring a bad name" to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and to tarnish the image of JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy in Prajwal Revanna's obscene video case.

Speaking to reporters here, Shivakumar said, "Better, let him (Gowda) file a case before Lokayukta or any other agency. I think he has some problems mentally. I'm very sorry, the national and state media shouldn't have picked up such baseless allegations. A person who is in jail, how can he make such allegations? All these are baseless. I don't want to comment." 

Asked if he will be filing any defamation case against Gowda, he said, "I don't want to make any comment or speak on a person who is mentally sick. I appeal to his party people to get him a good treatment." Shivakumar also asserted that his government's commitment to get justice for women victims of the sexual abuse case, and expressed confidence about the Special Investigation Team's (SIT) ongoing probe.

While being taken from court in Hassan, Gowda on Friday spoke to media and alleged that Shivakumar is behind pen drive case, and a team of four Ministers -- N Chaluvarayaswamy, Krishna Byre Gowda, Priyank Kharge and another minister -- was formed to handle this, with an intention to bring bad name to BJP, PM Modi and Kumaraswamy.

He said Shivakumar had asked him to say that Kumaraswamy is behind the distribution of pen drives, but as he did not agree to it, he is being fixed in false cases.

Minister Priyank Kharge said Gowda has alleged that three responsible ministers in the state government were part of a team and that there was a conspiracy. "We will discuss whatever legal course, we will take it." 

"Devaraje Gowda might be doing this to defame Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah. If he had a Rs 100 crore offer, he should have told Amit Shah (Union Home Minister) and get it investigated. He could have got CBI, ED, or IT raids done. Why didn't he do it? Claims have been made that he (Gowda) was sent Rs 5 crore as advance at a club, let them get CCTV footage and see who were all there," Kharge said.

While speaking to reporters here, he further said Gowda is a lawyer. When he was deposed before the Judge he should have told about the documents he has and should have presented to the court.

Minister Chaluvarayaswamy said allegations about the role of Shivakumar and a team of ministers being formed to oversee the circulation of pen drives are 'baseless', and he questioned Gowda's morality to make such accusations.

"If Gowda proves that Chaluvarayaswamy, Priyank Kharge and Krishna Byre Gowda had held a meeting on this case and we as a team were given responsibility and we were involved in this case, I will apologise," he said and alleged that Gowda was being used to mislead and deviate from the main case of sexual abuse.

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News Network
May 26,2024

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New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has asserted that the BJP will get a bigger win in opposition-ruled states due to a 'positive mandate' for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha polls, as he slammed the opposition's criticism of the Election Commission as a ploy to cover up for its impending loss.

In an interview with PTI, Shah claimed that his party has not resorted to any religion-based campaign but insisted that if canvassing against reservation for Muslims, and reaching out to voters on the abolition of Article 370 and implementing a Uniform Civil Code is religion-based campaign, then the BJP has done it and will continue doing so.

He dismissed the opposition's criticism of the Election Commission for its handling of poll data and the issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), saying that similar protocols and practices have been followed in previous assembly polls, including Telangana, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh where the BJP lost.

"If those elections were fair, then this election is also fair. When you see defeat, you start crying in advance and try to find excuses to go abroad. This can't go on and on. They want to go on vacation on June 6. So, they are telling something or the other," he said.

The Congress's questions about the polling process is aimed at covering up Rahul Gandhi's failure, he said.

Shah said the opposition party had not offered any such suggestion at the customary all-party meeting called by the poll watchdog before the elections. "Whenever the opposition loses an election, they raise some questions. There is zero possibility of rigging in EVMs and they want an election which can be rigged."

With six phases of the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls over, the BJP's key strategist said the party's assertion that its alliance will cross the 400-seat mark when the poll results are out on June 4 is not merely a poll slogan but a well thought-out goal.

He said, "We will surely cross 400 seats. We will also form governments in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh."

Assembly polls in the three states have been held alongside the Lok Sabha elections.

"If we get 399 seats and you say we have not crossed 400, then it is your wisdom. But the '400 paar' slogan is based on calculation and considered opinion," Shah said in his characteristic combative and sure-footed manner.

Asked if the party was overly dependent on Modi and if a relatively weak opposition was benefitting from its alliance, he said it was not a negative but a positive vote which the ruling alliance is receiving.

"This is not a negative vote. Please accept one thing. This is a positive vote. We will get people's support where (in states) we are in power. And mark my words...where we are not, we will be getting a bigger mandate. So this is a positive mandate for the work of the central government," he said.

As Modi has brought to fruition the BJP's core ideological plans, be it the poor's welfare, a secure country, abrogation of Article 370, a uniform law (UCC) across the country, women's reservation and Ram temple, his popularity naturally becomes the strength of the BJP, he added. "He is our biggest leader."

He accused the main opposition party of misleading people on the issue of Muslim reservation, insisting that its accusation that the BJP has been telling a lie rings hollow as it has already implemented such a religious quota in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

"If they divide the truth in pieces to mislead people, then isn't it our duty to put these pieces together and inform people," he said, defending Modi's intense attack on the Congress over the religious quota and the issue of redistribution of wealth.

"You might have heard and understood Rahul Gandhi's X-ray speech. So you want X-ray of what? And if you want to distribute it equally, then who will you distribute to? Manmohan Singh Ji said minorities are their priority. What do you make of this," he asked when questioned about the Congress's allegations against Modi.

To a question about the Congress's promise of giving Rs 1 lakh to women in poor households, he said the party has a history of making populist assurances to come to power but never fulfilling them.

Shah said, "They are in power in two-three states. They should at least fulfil this promise there. At least start giving Rs 1,500 which you promised (in Himachal Pradesh). You are talking about Rs 1 lakh, at least start giving Rs 1,500. Who will trust them."

Making his projection for the BJP in the states where the ruling party is eying major gains, he said it will anywhere between 24 to 30 seats in West Bengal and 16-17 in Odisha. Its alliance will bag nearly 17 seats in Andhra Pradesh. The three states have 42, 21 and 25 Lok Sabha seats, respectively.

Shah claimed that the BJP is set for a maiden majority in the Odisha assembly and expects to win 75 seats in the 147-member House. Its alliance will storm to power in Andhra too, he said.

People are angry with the Mamata Banerjee-led government over issues of corruption, cow and coal smuggling and infiltration, and the Sandeshkhali issue has exposed as to what extent she can stoop in her appeasement politics, he said.

With Modi spearheading the BJP's push in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, two states where the party has been so far unable to make much headway, in these polls, Shah said the party will certainly increase its vote share in the Dravidian state.

He said, "It is a very tight contest. We have a new team. I will not make an estimate with figures. But our seats and vote share will increase and we will certainly lay a strong foundation in Tamil Nadu. We can open our account in Kerala. We are in a good position in three seats."

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News Network
May 17,2024

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In scorching heat on a busy Kolkata street last month, commuters sought refuge inside a glass-walled bus shelter where two air conditioners churned around stifling air. Those inside were visibly sweating, dabbing at their foreheads in sauna-like temperatures that were scarcely cooler than out in the open.

Local authorities initially had plans to install as many as 300 of the cooled cabins under efforts to improve protections from a heat season that typically runs from April until the monsoon hits the subcontinent in June. There are currently only a handful in operation, and some have been stripped of their AC units, leaving any users sweltering.

“It doesn’t work,” Firhad Hakim, mayor of the city of 1.5 crore, said on a searing afternoon when temperatures topped 40C. “You feel suffocated.”

Attempts in Kolkata and across India to improve resilience to extreme heat have often been equally ill-conceived, despite a death toll estimated at more than 24,000 since 1992. Inconsistent or incomplete planning, a lack of funding, and the failure to make timely preparations to shield a population of 140 crore are leaving communities vulnerable as periods of extreme temperatures become more frequent, longer in duration and affect a wider sweep of the country.

Kolkata, with its hot, humid climate and proximity to the Bay of Bengal, is particularly vulnerable to temperature and rainfall extremes, and ranked by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as among the global locations that are most at risk.

An increase in average global temperatures of 2C could mean the city would experience the equivalent of its record 2015 heat waves every year, according to the IPCC. High humidity can compound the impacts, as it limits the human body’s ability to regulate its temperature.

Even so, the city — one of India's largest urban centres — still lacks a formal strategy to handle heat waves.

Several regions across India will see as many as 11 heat wave days this month compared to 3 in a typical year, while maximum temperatures in recent weeks have already touched 47.2C in the nation’s east, according to the Indian Meteorological Department. Those extremes come amid the Lok Sabha election during which high temperatures are being cited as among the factors for lower voter turnout.

At SSKM Hospital, one of Kolkata’s busiest, a waiting area teemed last month with people sheltering under colorful umbrellas and thronging a coin-operated water dispenser to refill empty bottles. A weary line snaked back from a government-run kiosk selling a subsidized lunch of rice, lentils, boiled potato and eggs served on foil plates.

“High temperatures can cause heat stroke, skin rashes, cramps and dehydration,” said Niladri Sarkar, professor of medicine at the hospital. “Some of these can turn fatal if not attended to on time, especially for people that have pre-existing conditions.” Extreme heat has an outsized impact on poorer residents, who are often malnourished, lack access to clean drinking water and have jobs that require outdoor work, he said.

Elsewhere in the city, tea sellers sweltered by simmering coal-fired ovens, construction workers toiled under a blistering midday sun, and voters attending rallies for the ongoing national elections draped handkerchiefs across their faces in an effort to stay cool. The state government in April advised some schools to shutter for an early summer vacation to avoid the heat.

Since 2013, states, districts and cities are estimated to have drafted more than 100 heat action plans, intended to improve their ability to mitigate the effects of extreme temperatures. The Centre set out guidelines eight years ago to accelerate adoption of the policies, and a January meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority pledged to do more to strengthen preparedness.

The absence of such planning in Kolkata has also meant a failure to intervene in trends that have made the city more susceptible.

Almost a third of the city’s green cover was lost during the decade through 2021, according to an Indian government survey. Other cities including Mumbai and Bengaluru have experienced similar issues. That’s combined with a decline in local water bodies and a construction boom to deliver an urban heat island effect, according to Saira Shah Halim, a parliamentary candidate in the Kolkata Dakshin electoral district in the city’s south. “What we’re seeing today is a result of this destruction,” she said.

Hakim, the city’s mayor, disputes the idea that Kolkata’s preparations have lagged, arguing recent extreme weather has confounded local authorities. “Such a kind of heat wave is new to us, we’re not used to it,” he said. “We’re locked with elections right now. Once the elections are over, we’ll sit with experts to work on a heat action plan.”

Local authorities are currently ensuring adequate water supplies, and have put paramedics on stand-by to handle heat-induced illnesses, Hakim said.

Focusing on crisis management, rather than on better preparedness, is at the root of the country’s failings, according to Nairwita Bandyopadhyay, a Kolkata-based climatologist and geographer. “Sadly the approach is to wait and watch until the hazard turns into a disaster,” she said.

Even cities and states that already have heat action plans have struggled to make progress in implementing recommendations, the New Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research said in a report last year reviewing 37 of the documents.

Most policies don’t adequately reflect local conditions, they often lack detail on how action should be funded and typically don’t set out a source of legal authority, according to the report.

As many as 9 people have already died as a result of heat extremes this year, according to the meteorological department, though the figure is likely to significantly underestimate the actual total. That follows about 110 fatalities during severe heat waves during April and June last year, the World Meteorological Organization said last month.

Even so, the handling of extreme heat has failed to become a “political lightning rod that can stir governments into action,” said Aditya Valiathan Pillai, among authors of the CPR study and now a fellow at New Delhi-based Sustainable Futures Collaborative.

Modi's government has often moved to contain criticism of its policies, and there is also the question of unreliable data. “When deaths occur, one is not sure whether it was directly caused by heat, or whether heat exacerbated an existing condition,” Pillai said.

In 2022, health ministry data showed 33 people died as a result of heat waves, while the National Crime Records Bureau – another agency that tracks mortality statistics – reported 730 fatalities from heat stroke.

Those discrepancies raise questions about a claim by the Centre that its policies helped cut heat-related deaths from 2,040 in 2015 to 4 in 2020, after national bureaucrats took on more responsibility for disaster risk management.

Local officials in Kolkata are now examining potential solutions and considering the addition of more trees, vertical gardens on building walls and the use of porous concrete, all of which can help combat urban heat.

India’s election is also an opportunity to raise issues around poor preparations, according to Halim, a candidate for the Communist Party of India (Marxist), whose supporters carry bright red flags at campaign events scheduled for the early morning and after sundown to escape extreme temperatures.

“I’m mentioning it,” she said. “It’s become a very, very challenging campaign. The heat is just insufferable.”

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