BJP forms strategy to woo Muslim voters, candidates ahead of polls

News Network
October 25, 2021

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New Delhi, Oct 25: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been promoting the slogan of 'Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas' since 2014 but getting the support of the Muslims has been an elusive goal even now, as it was for the BJP's predecessor, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, earlier.

Keeping this in mind, the BJP is trying to dispel its "hardline right wing" image to woo all sections of society.

There was a time when the BJP used to think that it would not get Muslim votes but now the party has started gaining the minority community's confidence, say party leaders.

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is one of the party's top Muslim leaders, said that the BJP makes constant efforts to win the trust of minority community and working for them to get their votes, but the party does not believe in making deals for votes.

Citing several welfare schemes, including Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Saubhagya Yojana, toilets, Ujjwala Yojana, food grains, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had recently told the Legislative Council that though Muslim population in the state is 17 to 19 per cent, it is bagging benefits of 30 to 35 per cent from these schemes.

On the BJP's image and development works of the government, Naqvi said that some people take secularism as a "political facility", but for the saffron party, it has been a constitutional commitment.

In seven and a half years of the Modi government and even during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, one cannot cry discrimination in the matter of development, he said, adding that "we are on the path of universal empowerment and the party and government follows it too".

On the BJP's challenges in attracting support of Muslims, Naqvi said that the party is also well aware of this, so instead of running a big campaign to woo the community, it is making contact at personal level.

BJP Minority Morcha national President Jamal Siddiqui said that the Morcha has prepared a list of booths, where more than 70 per cent of voters are Muslims, in all the states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa — going to polls.

In these booths, party's Muslim activists will go and spread awareness about welfare schemes run by the state and Central government and their achievements.

Siddiqui claimed that parties like the Congress, the SP, and the BSP "sell lies" to Muslims, but now the saffron party would reach out to the minority community and expose their lies.

For the upcoming Assembly polls, Siddiqui said the party is aiming to add 100 such people to each constituency who are either not very active now or are not directly associated with the party.

On the BJP being blamed for not giving ticket to Muslim candidates, Siddiqui said under a campaign, the Morcha has asked people to come forward to contest polls.

"If you can bloom a lotus on a Muslim majority seat, then you are also welcome to contest elections," Siddiqui said, adding that Morcha is also instructing its Muslim workers and leaders to prepare for contesting elections.

It will be too early to say whether the BJP will succeed in winning Muslim votes or not, but it is determined not leave the field open for the opposition.

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News Network
November 26,2021

New Delhi, Nov 26: The Centre will resume regular international flights from December 15, barring 14 countries, people familiar with the development said on Friday. 

The countries which do not feature on the list are the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Singapore, sources said. 

The decision has been taken in consultation with the health ministry in light of the Covid situation across the world, especially the emergence of new variants. On Thursday, South Africa confirmed a new variant of Coronavirus which is believed to be more transmissible and vaccine-evasive. 

The variant has been reported in Botswana and Hong Kong as well apart from South Africa. India is not resuming regular international flight operations with Botswana and South Africa.

With some of the countries on the list India has a travel bubble that permits a certain number of flights a week, which will continue, officials explained.

Regular international flights operations were suspended in March 2020 owing to the Coronavirus pandemic. The civil aviation ministry started Vande Bharat flights to ferry Indians who got stuck in other countries during the pandemic. After the Vande Bharat flights, the ministry entered into air bubble agreements with some countries allowing international travel.

With the number of Covid cases steadily going down and the vaccine coverage in the country going up, the Centre was mulling easing restrictions regarding international travel. Two days ago, civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal said the ministry is working towards allowing international passenger flights from this year-end.

Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia too recently expressed the ministry's keenness to resume normal international travel operations. “We are evaluating the process. We are coming back to normalcy. First, we allowed 100% passenger capacity in our domestic flights and now we allowed in-flight meals in those flights," Scindia said at an industry summit.

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News Network
November 28,2021

New Delhi, Nov 28: India on Sunday recorded 8,774 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, according to health ministry data.

In the meantime, 621 new fatalities were also recorded, taking the death toll due to the fatal virus to 4,68,554.

Over 3.45 crore infections have been recorded in the country so far.

With 9,481 recoveries, the total recoveries surged to 3,39,88,797.

The recovery rate is currently at 98.34 per cent, the highest since March 2020.

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News Network
November 30,2021

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A “very large” number of Indians are likely to remain protected from Omicron or any other variant of Covid-19 and there is no need to panic, eminent virologist Dr Shahid Jameel has said.

Jameel, who is the former head of the advisory group to the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (INASACOG), said people must be cautious and keep wearing masks.

"While we should be cautious, there is no need to panic. India's second wave due to the Delta variant was huge, infecting more people than we imagined. This is reflected in the fourth National Sero-survey that showed 67 per cent of Indians to have Covid antibodies. That is about 930-940 million people at a time when the vaccination levels were very low, and so it came mainly from infection," he said in an interview.

"More recently, Delhi showed 97 per cent with antibodies, Mumbai around 85-90 per cent and so on. All this means that a very large fraction of Indians will be protected from severe disease caused by Omicron or any other variant," Jameel said.

A new variant of Covid-19, feared to have a high amount of spike mutations, has been detected in South Africa. On November 26, the WHO had designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern and named it Omicron.

Speaking on the effectiveness of vaccines against the new variant, Jameel said more data is awaited but vaccine effectiveness against the variant may dip by a few points. However, vaccines will not become useless, he said.

"We don't have this data available yet. It may take another one to two weeks for the first laboratory results to become available. My hunch is that vaccine effectiveness against this variant may dip a few points, but vaccines will not become useless. They will continue to protect from severe disease," he said.

On how India can prepare to tackle the new variant, he said people should not panic, and continue to wear mask while the government should increase the rate of vaccination.

"We are fortunate to have sufficient vaccines and the ability to vaccinate. Along this line, it may help to reduce the duration between two doses of Covishield from 16 weeks to 12 weeks. This will get more people vaccinated quickly, especially those in vulnerable age groups (elderly), those with comorbidities and those in high risk occupations (health care)," he said.

On what role a booster dose of vaccine can play against the new variant to tackle waning immunity against Covid-19, he said booster shots help, but it is more important to first get more people vaccinated with two doses.

"Further, about 90 per cent of doses in India are Covishield, and this has limited use as a booster. For that we will need either RNA, DNA or protein vaccines. For the moment, just make sure more and more people get the two doses," he said.

Responding to reports claiming that the variant mainly affects people below 25 years of age, he said there is no data available on the subject.

"So far, the few known patients are in this age group. I doubt it will pose a bigger threat to children who naturally have no or mild disease to this virus," Jameel said.

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