BJP intends to arrest 4 more AAP leaders including me for refusing to join party: Atishi

News Network
April 2, 2024

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New Delhi: AAP leader Atishi on Tuesday made some strong allegations against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claiming that the party approached her to join through a close associate.

"I have been told that either I save my political career by joining BJP or else I will be arrested by ED in the coming month," Atishi said.

She further accused that the BJP intends to arrest four more AAP leaders as the Modi government wants to crush all members of AAP.

"Now BJP's intention is to arrest four more leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party in the coming two months. They will arrest me, Saurabh Bharadwaj, Durgesh Pathak, and Raghav Chadha. They thought that after the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party would fall apart," she further said.

"But after Sunday's rally at Ramleela Maidan, now BJP thinks that arresting the top four leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party was not enough. In the coming time, the next four big leaders will be put in jail."

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News Network
April 5,2024

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New Delhi: The Congress has released its manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha election, with jobs creation, development of infrastructure, and a national caste census among the major highlights.

The manifesto was released in Delhi by party boss Mallikarjun Kharge, who was flanked by senior leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram - who led the committee that drafted the document - was also present.

"This manifesto will be 'nyay ka dastavez' (a document for justice) in the political history of the country. From the five pillars of the 'Bharat Jodo Nyaya Yatra' - yuva (youth), kisan (farmers), naari (women), shramik (workers), and hissedari (equity), 25 guarantees will emerge... ," Mr Kharge said.

The overall theme of the manifesto is based on 'work', 'wealth', and 'welfare', the party said.

"'Work' means you must provide jobs. 'Wealth' must be created before it is distributed. 'Welfare' means taking care of the poorer sections," the Congress said.

Silent on CAA

While the manifesto is silent on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act and restoration of Article 370, the party promises immediate restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

Caste Census

One of the biggest talking points is the caste census - a political hot topic that has been in the headlines since the Bihar government's statewide survey was released in November.

The 48-page document promises to amend the Constitution to raise the 50 per cent cap on reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs, with Caste Census providing the latest data to go ahead with the affirmative action. Addressing land issues, the party also pledges to establish an authority to monitor the distribution of government land and surplus land under the land ceiling Acts to the poor.

MSP for Farmers

The party has also promised to implement MSP, or minimum support price, for farmer growing cash crops. The MSP issue has been at the heart of protests by farmers since 2020, when lakhs from across the country went on a months-long agitation against the centre's (now-scrapped) three farm laws.

The Congress has said it will give a permanent legal guarantee for MSP - a core demand for protesting farmers - based on the formula recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.

"Congress has been the only party that has lent its ear to the distress of the farmers and farm labourers, and we are determined to do everything possible to alleviate their pain and make agriculture a desirable livelihood," the party said, attacking the BJP's response to the farmers protest as "callous and brutal".

Poverty

The party also vowed to eliminate poverty by improving the fortunes of 23 crore people over the next decade. Mr Chidambaram attacked the BJP as a "government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich", and said it is "driven by the interests of the top 1 per cent".

"... but we will look at the bottom 50 per cent. The bottom 50 per cent is as important. It has been estimated 23 crore people are still poor in this country. The UPA lifted 24 crore people out of poverty and we promise, if the Congress-led government comes to power in 2024, we will lift 23 crore in 10 years."

As part of this promise - and to empower women - the Congress said it would launch a 'Mahalakshmi' scheme to provide an unconditional cash transfer of Rs 1 lakh per year to the oldest female member of every poor family.  Beneficiaries will be identified as those from the bottom level of the income pyramid.

Inequality of income and opportunity remain India's ugliest truth. It is the moral and political responsibility of any government to ensure that every family is assured of a basic income every month, the party said.

National Security, China

The Congress said it "recognises that national security is not enhanced by chest-thumping or exaggerated claims, but by quiet attention to borders and resolute defence preparedness".

The party said it would work to restore status quo on the country's borders with China and "ensure areas where both armies patrolled in the past are again accessible to our soldiers".

This has been seen as a direct jab at the BJP over the military stand-off with China in parts of eastern Ladakh following violence in June 2020 that, the opposition has repeatedly claimed, led to New Delhi surrendering territory to Beijing.

On diplomatic tension with Maldives, the Congress said it work to "repair relations".

Healthcare

Universal free healthcare, including cost of diagnosis, surgery, and medication, will be made available, the party said. This will come with cashless insurance up to ₹ 25 lakh, like the model implemented in Rajasthan, when the Congress was in power.

"We promise that healthcare will be universal and free in public health centres, such as hospitals, clinics, PHCs, MHCs, and dispensaries, as well as health camps. Free healthcare will include examination, diagnosis, treatment, surgery, medicines, rehabilitation, and palliative care."

The Congress said it would also establish Assisted Living and Care Centres for disabled people and provide representation for them in local bodies.

Other Major Points

In a move likely to resonate strongly among unemployed youth struggling with massive loan debts, the party said it would "as a one-time measure of relief" write off all student educational loans, including unpaid interest. This amount will be calculated as on March 15.

Banks will be compensated by the government, the Congress said.

The party said it would also introduce a law to "recognise civil unions between couples belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community".

The Congress said it would amend laws to "combine the efficiency of EVM and transparency of ballot papers". "Voting will be through the EVM but the voter will be able to hold and deposit the machine-generated voting slip into the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) unit," the party said.

2024 Lok Sabha Election

The election will be spread over seven phases beginning April 19. Votes will be declared June 4.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP - which is yet to release its manifesto - are bidding for a third consecutive term.  They face a combined challenge from the opposition, which has united (for the most part) under the INDIA banner led by the Congress. 

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News Network
April 5,2024

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New Delhi, Apr 5: In a big relief to about 17 lakh madrassa students in Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court today paused an Allahabad High Court order scrapping the UP Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004. This allows about 16,000 madrasas in the state to continue functioning under the 2004 law.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said that the high court decision was prima facie not correct and issued notices to the UP and central governments, and the Madrassa board.

The high court had last month declared the 2004 law "unconstitutional" for allegedly violating the principle of secularism and directed the government to accommodate the madrasa students in the formal education system.

The Supreme Court put it on hold on Friday, saying that the aims and objectives of the Madrassa Board are regulatory in nature and that the establishment of the board itself will not affect secularism.

"The high court, in striking down the provisions of the Act, directed the relocation of the students. This would affect the 17 lakh students. We are of the view that the direction of relocation of students to other schools was not warranted," said the Chief Justice.

If the purpose of the PIL is to ensure that madrassas provide secular education in core subjects such as mathematics, science, history, and languages, the solution would not be to repeal the provisions of the Madarsa Act 2004, he added.

The central and state governments backed the high court judgment in the Supreme Court, with the centre saying suspected entanglement of religion and other relevant issues must be debated.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the madrassas, said religious education cannot mean religious instruction and that the high court order will leave 10,000 madrassa teachers and 17 lakh students in lurch. But the state government said it has made arrangements for the teachers and students.

Mr Singhvi argued it is wrong to say madrassa education doesn't have quality, isn't universal in nature, and is not broad-based. Singling out the madrassas for a ban is discriminatory and the Supreme Court had said so in the Aruna Roy vs Union of India, 2002 verdict, he pointed out.

The Chief Justice said that the issues that have been raised merit closer reflection and posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of July.

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April 3,2024

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Sumalatha Ambareesh, the Independent MP who won from Karnataka’s Mandya constituency in 2019, announced on Wednesday that she would join the BJP and not contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

After the BJP-JD(S) coalition has fielded former chief minister and JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy from Mandya, all eyes were on Sumalatha, who defeated Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The announcement came along expected lines as Kumaraswamy had met Sumalatha on Sunday, March 31, seeking her support for the elections.

In a supporters’ meeting held at Mandya to announce her decision, Sumalatha, who is the first Independent MP from the constituency, said, “I will not be contesting this election, but I am not leaving Mandya…. Some people, when they don’t get the ticket, decide to leave the party. But, I have decided to give up my seat and join the BJP”.

Sumalatha said her options were to either contest as an Independent, join the Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“If I contest as an independent, it will be to prove something to myself. Who will benefit from that and who will lose, we have to think. We have to be mature,” she said, adding that she was “not worried about self-interest” and had turned down offers from BJP to contest at either Bengaluru North, Chikkaballapur or Mysore-Kodagu to remain with the people of Mandya.

Sumalatha said that she would not join the Congress as the party did not want her. “On the other hand, the BJP leadership took me into confidence in all issues. When even the Prime Minister says that the party needs leadership from people like me and asks me not to take any other decision, do I have respect there (in BJP) or not?” the MP asked.

Riding on a sympathy wave following the demise of her husband, former Union Minister and actor-turned politician Ambareesh, Sumalatha had defeated Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy by a margin of over 1.25 lakh votes in 2019. Though Ambareesh was from Congress, Sumalatha had contested as an Independent after the Congress denied her ticket due to the coalition arrangement of the party with JD(S) that year.

Though Sumalatha was keen on joining the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and contesting from Mandya, it has not panned out due to BJP’s alliance with JD(S) in 2024.

Mandya, which Sumalatha represents, is a Vokkaliga bastion which has largely favoured either the JD(S) or Congress over the years. Due to this, the BJP-JD(S) coalition went with Kumaraswamy, a top Vokkaliga politician of the state.

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