Despite poll defeat, BJP snatched power from Congress in 6 states since 2014!

Agencies
February 23, 2021

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New Delhi, Feb 23: Puducherry is the sixth state or union territory that Congress has lost to BJP despite being in power or in a position to form a government after Narendra Modi became the prime minister in 2014.

Congress lost Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka to the BJP while being in power as the saffron party managed to wean away a section of its MLAs and form governments. Congress lost the Puducherry government just two months before the elections as five of its MLAs resigned.

In Manipur and Goa, Congress emerged as the single largest party but BJP managed to form governments after breaking the Congress legislature party.

Sikkim would be another case of interest and intrigue as the BJP, which did not win a single seat and even lost deposits in the 2019 Assembly polls, now has 12 MLAs in the Assembly by weaning away all MLAs of Sikkim Democratic Front except former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.

In Rajasthan, the BJP attempted to wean away Sachin Pilot to break the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government like it did in Madhya Pradesh where it managed to rope in Jyotiraditya Scindia to unseat Kamal Nath-led government. Gehlot managed to thwart the BJP designs.

The BJP's first taste of success in overthrowing a Congress government was in 2016 in Arunachal Pradesh. Congress had won 42 out of 60 seats and 11 for BJP in Arunachal in 2014 Assembly polls.

Nabam Tuki first became the Chief Minister and later Pema Khandu assumed power. Khandu along with 40 other Congress MLAs came out of the party in July 2016 and joined the People's Party of Arunachal, only to merge with BJP later in the year, and remained as Chief Minister till the term ended in 2019. He returned to power again.

Arunachal also witnessed a short spell of President's Rule when Tuki was the chief minister but the Supreme Court found it faulty, leaving the Centre with egg on its face.

In 2018, Karnataka also saw the mantle of power changing hands mid-way after Congress taking the leadership of the government with the support of JD(S). Initially, the single-largest party BJP was invited to form the government but lost the vote of confidence.

Congress with 80 MLAs and JD(S) with 37 joined hands but working behind the scenes, BJP managed to wean away 16 Congress lawmakers, leading to the fall of Siddaramaiah government and Yediyurappa assuming power once again.

Madhya Pradesh was the third state where Congress was ousted from power after forming the government. Congress had formed the government in 2018 with the support of 121 MLAs. However, BJP managed to swing Scindia and 26 MLAs supporting him to its side. In the bypolls, it managed to win 19 of the 26 seats and cementing its majority.

Manipur and Goa were a different story as Congress could not even form the government.

In Manipur, Congress had emerged as the single largest party in the 2017 Assembly elections with 27 seats in an Assembly of 60 but the Governor invited BJP with 21 seats to form the government. The BJP then managed to wean away nine Congress MLAs while Congress had to be content with the Opposition slot.

Congress was expecting to return to power in Goa in 2017 and emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats in a House of 40. However, BJP with 13 seats first ensured that a Congress MLA switched sides and then got the support of 10 other MLAs to form the party.

In Maharashtra, however, the BJP plans did not go well despite BJP emerging as the single-largest party and Shiv Sena walking out of the alliance over the debacle regarding the rotation of chief minister's post. BJP had won 105 seats and Sena 56, which was enough to form the government.

Sena then joined hands with Congress and NCP and were in the process of forming a government but BJP attempted to spook them by holding an early morning swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis, after bringing NCP chief Sharad Pawar's nephew and strongman Ajit Pawar to their side and making him the deputy chief minister.

However, smart political play by the senior Pawar and others prevented any flow of MLAs from NCP. The Fadnavis government resigned soon after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test after finding out that they could not muster the numbers.

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Agencies
February 19,2021

Image result for Amit Shah summoned by special court in defamation case

Kolkata, Feb 19: A designated MP/MLA court in West Bengal issued summons to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday to appear either personally or through a lawyer before it on February 22 in connection with a defamation case lodged against him by Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee.

The special judge of MP/MLA court at Bidhannagar directed that Shah is "required to appear in person/by pleader" at 10 am on that day.

The judge directed that Shah's attendance either personally or through a lawyer is necessary to answer to a charge of defamation under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In a press note, Abhishek Banerjee's lawyer Sanjay Basu claimed that Shah had made certain defamatory statements against the TMC MP on August 11, 2018 at a rally of the BJP at Mayo Road in Kolkata. 

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Agencies
February 25,2021

Bharat Bandh on February 26 as 8 crore traders to protest against GST

New Delhi, Feb 25: Going ahead with their protest against arbitrary regulations and changes in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and alleged norm violations by e-commerce giants, traders across the country will go a day-long strike on Friday.

In a statement, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) the umbrella body which has called for the strike said that over 8 crore traders belonging to more than 40,000 trade associations across country will observe the 'Bharat Vyapar Bandh' to protest against some of the "draconian, arbitrary and critical" amendments made recently in GST rules.

It will also urge the government to rectify glitches in e-commerce for preventing violation of law by foreign e-commerce companies.

The All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) an apex body of 1 crore transporters have already supported the strike and has also announced 'Chakka Jam' of transport sector on Friday all over India.

CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that not only traders but even small industries, hawkers, and women entrepreneurs among others will also join the bandh.

Further, associations of chartered accountants and tax advocates have supported the strike and have informed their clients not to visit their offices on Friday.

Khandelwal further said that on Friday as a mark of protest, 'dharna' will be held in more than 1,500 towns and cities across states and no traders will login to GST portal to register their protest.

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Agencies
February 21,2021

New Delhi, Feb 21: All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) chief Dr Randeep Guleria in an NDTV interview suggested that the new strains of the coronavirus that have emerged in India are likely more infectious and dangerous than the original strain. Dr Guleria also added that herd immunity in India was a "myth."

Following the spike in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab, questions about the possibility of a new strain of the virus emerging began to gain more traction. 

The case spike in Maharashtra, which has triggered a lockdown in three districts and has seen a statewide tightening of restrictions is likely due to a number of new strains, a member of Maharashtra's Covid task force told NDTV.  The task force member — Dr Shashank Joshi — also informed the news outlet that 240 new strains of the coronavirus had emerged across India.

Dr Guleria urged caution while dealing with the new strains, irrespective of whether they were seen to be more deadly or not. He added that the reason for their higher infection rate was down to their ability to evade antibodies, known as the "immune escape mechanism."

This means that even after receiving the vaccine, one could still get infected by the coronavirus variants. The AIIMS chief reassured that the vaccines would work against the new strains, albeit with a lower efficacy. However, he continued to urge caution and suggested that newer strains of the virus might emerge as more individuals begin to receive the vaccine.

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