BJP still confident of repeat show even as a Cong slugs it out and AAP splits votes

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November 28, 2022

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Kutch, Nov 28: The BJP is confident of maintaining its winning streak in Kutch district in Gujarat Assembly polls even as the Congress is carrying out a silent campaign in rural areas and the Aam Aadmi Party is setting the stage for a three-cornered fight by throwing its hat in the ring.

The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is contesting in two minority-dominated seats. Kutch, which goes to polls in the first phase on December 1, has six Assembly constituencies - Abdasa, Bhuj, Rapar- all bordering Pakistan, and Mandvi, Anjar and Gandhidham.

The district has around 16 lakh voters spread across the six constituencies, out of which male and female voters are equally proportionate. Muslims comprise around 19 per cent of the total electorate, whereas the Dalits comprise around 12 per cent, and the Patels, including the Leuvas and Kadvas, constitute about 10.5 per cent. The Kshatriya and the Koli communities comprise around 6.5 per cent and 5.2 per cent of the electorate, respectively.

Although Dalits, Kshatriyas, Kolis, Brahmins, and Rajputs have been the committed voters of the saffron camp for the last two decades, a large section of the Patels, who have been with the BJP till 2012, went against the saffron camp following the 2015 Patidar agitation.

The Congress, on the other hand, has been the first choice of minorities and also for a section of Patels, Kshatriyas in rural areas, and other smaller communities like the Rabari.

The AAP, which has carried out a campaign blitzkrieg in the arid region with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal conducting a Tiranga Yatra in Kutch, is stressing fundamental issues such as education, health and water.

The AIMIM stresses the development poll plank of minorities in the area. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been winning a majority of the six seats in the Kutch district since 2002, is hopeful of making a clean sweep this time riding on both development plank and divided opposition.

"We are confident of making a clean sweep this time. There is no opposition to BJP as the people are with us for the development we had carried out post-earthquake in 2001," Kutch district media-in-charge Satwik Gadhvi told PTI.

According to BJP sources, although the party is not attaching much importance to the scattered opposition in the district, resentment among a section of party workers over the selection of candidates is a matter of concern as, in some places, it has altered the party's caste equations. In the Abdasa seat, BJP's candidate is former Congress turncoat and sitting MLA Pradyuman Sing Jadeja, from the Kshatriya community.

Apart from candidates of Congress and AAP, an independent candidate from the Kshatriya–Jadeja community is also contesting the polls. The independent candidate earlier used to be a BJP sympathizer. In the Bhuj seat, the party has replaced its two-time sitting MLA and Assembly Speaker Nimaben Acharya with local party leader Keshubhai Shivdas Patel, known for his organisational skills.

Supporters of Acharya are not happy with the development. In Anjar, the party has replaced its sitting MLA Vasanbhai Ahir with party leader Trikambhai Chhanga. In Mandvi, the BJP has picked Anirudhh Dave over its sitting MLA Virendrasinh Jadeja. Jadeja has been given a ticket from the neighbouring Rapar seat, which the Congress had won in 2017.

"For us, it is not the opposition, but resentment among a section of party workers is a matter of bit concern. In some seats, people from the same community, just as our official candidates, are contesting as Independents," a senior district BJP leader said.

Congress is carrying out a very low-pitch campaign. The opposition party is doing its best to avoid the minefield of communal politics and is focusing more on governance issues. For Congress, winning back the district, and especially retaining the two seats it had won last time, is a big challenge.

"We are confident of winning all the six seats in the Kutch district. The people here are fed up with the misrule of the BJP. The BJP is using all tricks like the communal campaign to everything at its disposal to win the election," Congress district president Yajuvendra Jadeja said.

Congress, like in the rest of Gujarat, is carrying out a silent campaign in Kutch also by reaching out to the masses in every remote corner of the region, trying to encash anti-incumbency against the BJP and its promises on governance issues if voted to power. However, the entry of the AAP and the AIMIM has disturbed the poll arithmetic of the region.

The Congress and the BJP are apprehensive that AAP might eat into their votes among the Patel community, Kshatriyas, a section of minorities, and Dalits, thus delivering a fatal blow in the closely-contested seats.

Although the local BJP unit is elated over the entry of AIMIM as there will be a contender for minority votes apart from the Congress in seats like Bhuj and Mandvi, which has considerable Muslim electorate, and AIMIM is in the fray, the Congress is working to minimize the damage that the AAP and AIMIM may cause. The AAP stresses governance issues in the arid region and has promised to end the region's water crisis if voted to power.

"The people of this area, especially in remote areas, lack basic amenities like education, health, and water. For us, good governance is first and foremost," Kutch district AAP media in-charge Ankita Gor said.

The biggest positive aspect for the AAP in the election is the freshness it brings to the decade-old binary of Congress and BJP in the state's political arena and its track record of delivering good governance, party leaders said.

According to locals, the negative factor for AAP in the Kutch region is the absence of the organizational strength to take on the well-oiled election machinery of the BJP and Congress. The AIMIM said it is contesting only two seats in the entire Kutch district, so the allegation that they are here to cut in Congress's vote is baseless.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won the Kachchh Lok Sabha seat, which it has been winning since 1996, by pocketing more than 62 per cent of the total votes polled, whereas the Congress bagged just 32 per cent.

Apart from governance issues, drug hauls, a water crisis, and communal clashes have become major election issues. Elections for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held on December 1 and 5. The votes will be counted on December 8. 

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January 19,2023

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New Delhi, Jan 19: The country's top wrestlers on Thursday vowed to intensify their protest, saying the government has given them an assurance but no "satisfactory response" and they will lodge multiple FIRs against WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh if the Wrestling Federation of India is not disbanded immediately.

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is a prominent leader of BJP and Member of the Parliament from Kaiserganj constituency.  

The wrestlers, who have accused the WFI President of sexual exploitation and intimidation, continued their dharna for the second day as more grapplers joined them in what they called was a fight to give "a new life to Indian wrestling."

Three-time CWG medallist and BJP leader Babita Phogat came to the protest site with a "message" from the government and assured the grapplers that their demands will be met as the athletes took turn to share their bad experiences.

Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Dahiya pleaded for more support while young Anshu Malik narrated how WFI President's presence in the players' hotel in Bulgaria during the world junior championship last year made the women wrestlers uncomfortable.

It may be noted that 21-year-old Anshu had not competed in that championship as she was injured.

A team of wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Anshu, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satyawrat Kadiyan, was then called for a meeting with the government as they discussed their issues with Sports Secretary Sujata Chaturvedi, Director General SAI Sandip Pradhan and Joint Secretary (Sports) Kunal.

During the one-hour meeting, the wrestlers were asked to end their protest and assured that their grievances will be addressed.

However, the wresters wanted a concrete and immediate action and decided to continue their protest unless WFI President is removed and the national federation is disbanded along with all the state wrestling associations in the country.

Later addressing the media, Vinesh did not disclose what transpired at the meeting but said, "Unfortunately we did not get a satisfactory response."

"Yesterday, we had 1-2 victims amongst us but now we have 5-6 wrestlers, who were harassed (sexually). We can't name them now, after all they are daughters and sisters of somebody. But if we are forced to disclose their identity, it will be a black day," said Vinesh, the two-time World Championship medallist.

"It's not just about his (Brij Bhushan) resignation. We will send him to jail. We did not want to take the legal route, because we had hoped for resolution but if a proper solution is not provided, we will lodge FIRs against the President.

"We are World Championship and Olympic medallists, don't suspect us, we are telling the truth, believe us."

WFI Emergency General Council in Ayodhya

It has been learnt that the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has called for an Emergency General Council in Ayodhya on Sunday to discuss the issue.

"Yes, a meeting has been called and future course of action will be discussed. I can't say if WFI President will resign or not. It needs to be discussed," said a WFI official.

It may be noted that Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's third term as WFI President is ending soon and he is ineligible to contest again. He was elected WFI President for the third time in February 2019.

According to the National Sports Code, a person may serve as President, and thereby on the Board, of the NOC/NSF for up to three terms or 12 years with or without break, after the completion of which tenure as President, the person shall not be entitled to return as an office bearer or Board member of the NSF.

Trust us, we are not lying

Bajrang said,"The entire wrestling hub (fraternity) is here. We have proofs, we are not lying. We want wrestling to live, start a new life."

The 28-year-old Vinesh claimed that she has got calls of appreciation from Kerala and Maharashtra woman wrestlers for taking up the cause.

"At least 5-6 girls will lodge FIRs tomorrow and it will be a black day if it happens in a country like India where 'Durga' and 'Lakshmi' are worshipped. Then I would say that no woman is safe in this country and no daughter should be born to anyone."

Asked to give details of the meeting they had with the government representative, Vinesh said,"They did not give any time-frame, just gave assurances."

"Everything is at stake now. We have not even taken police protection and (are) sitting here. But where is the WFI President; his office (is) locked. Where are those eyes that used to scare us."

When reminded that London Olympics medallist Yogeshwar Dutt has backed WFI President along with Asian Championship medallist Divya Karan, Vinesh said, Yogeshwar is definitely sitting in the lap of the WFI and that Kakran herself spoke against the President in the past. We have proofs."

"All the videos (in support of WFI President) are being made where he has that "aatank ka adda' (hub of terror), people should come and make videos here at Jantar Mantar while sitting in front of the public.

"We want the government to take control of WFI and we will not compete in any competition under the current President."

Sakshi Malik said all state wrestling associations should be disbanded in the country because the WFI President has all his men in these sports bodies.

Brinda Karat asked to leave protest

Earlier in the day, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat, who arrived at the protest site in support of the wrestlers and wanted to speak, was asked to leave by the grapplers, saying they don't want anyone to give their campaign a political colour.

"We request you, madam, please don't make this political," Bajrang said.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women (NCW) said that the wrestlers can approach it with their complaints.

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January 17,2023

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Bengaluru, Jan 17: The ruling BJP in Karnataka is all set to take out a 'Rath Yatra' in the state after the budget session ahead of Assembly elections.

The Rath Yatra would be taken out from four directions in the state to reach out to the people.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has stated on Monday late night that the details regarding the same are yet to be finalised. CM Bommai is taking part in the two-day National Executive Committee meeting.

He also stated that many political decisions were being taken in the meeting. The information right from the booth level to the party organisation had been given.

The high command is likely to take a call regarding B.Y. Vijayendra, son of party veteran B.S. Yediyurappa. The party had snubbed him during the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Hubballi to inaugurate the National Youth Festival.

BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal from Vijayapura has attacked the ruling BJP government in Karnataka over providing reservation to Panchamasali sub sect under OBC quota. He had attacked CM Bommai and cabinet ministers also. The religious seer had warned that if BJP expels MLA Yatnal, the Panchamasali community will stand with him.

Chief Minister Bommai is in a fix over the matter. He maintained that the matter had been brought to the notice of the high command and a decision would be taken in this regard after the national executive.

The saffron party is seriously putting all efforts to come back to power in the state on Hindutva agenda and in the name of PM Modi. 

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January 22,2023

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Bengaluru, Jan 22: Shivananda Patil, who was announced as the JD(S) candidate for the next assembly elections in Karnataka, passed away due to a heart attack late on Friday night. He was 54.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister and party leader HD Kumaraswamy shared the news of Shivananda Patil's demise on his official Twitter handle.

HD Kumaraswamy wrote on Twitter, "The untimely death of party candidate Mr Sivananda Patil has left me deeply shocked. Mr. Patil, who retired after selfless service in the army, had an irrepressible desire for social service. Possessing excellent organizational skills and dynamism, he became very dear to me within a short time of our acquaintance." (sic)

"I am personally deeply saddened by the passing away of Mr. Sivananda Patil. I pray that his soul rests in eternal peace and his family gets strength to bear the grief," the former Karnataka CM wrote.

Patil was announced as the JD(S) candidate from Sindagi constituency. On January 18, he participated in JDS pancharatna yatra in Sindagi along with Kumaraswamy. He was a retired army serviceman.

Sivananda is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

The JD(S) also expressed its grief over Patil's demise tweeted, "Deeply saddened to report that Mr Sivananda Patil, JDS candidate for Sindagi Assembly Constituency passed away untimely due to heart attack. On this occasion, we pray that his family gets the strength to bear this grief. Let us pray for the departed soul to rest in peace."

Assembly elections are due in Karnataka in April-May 2023. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that has set a target of winning at least 150 of the 224 assembly seats in Karnataka, has made it explicitly clear that it has no plans to partner or ally with the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) in the state.

Since its formation, the JD(S) has never formed a government on its own, but had been in power twice in coalition with the BJP in 2006 and with Congress for 14 months after the May 2018 Assembly polls- with Kumaraswamy as the chief minister. In the 2018 polls, the JD(S) managed to win 37 seats.

This time the party has set an ambitious target of winning at least 123 out of the total 224 seats going to polls by May, and has been seeking votes repeatedly invoking regional Kannadiga pride and asserting itself to be the only Kannadiga party.

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