CM Siddaramaiah eager to accept ‘caste census’; Deputy CM Shivakumar, pontiffs pass resolution to reject it

News Network
November 22, 2023

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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said his decision to do justice to the disadvantaged communities, by accepting the report of the Socio-Economic and Education Survey, popularly known as the "caste census", is unwavering. His statement is seen as significant as the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes chairperson is expected to submit the report to the state government this month.

"I fully agree with our proud leader Rahul Gandhi's stand. I feel that the country's independence will be meaningful only when the caste census is conducted across the country and based on its report, "equal share for all - equal rights for all" is ensured," Siddaramaiah posted on 'X'.

"My decision to do justice to the disadvantaged communities, by accepting the report of the Economic, Social and Educational Survey conducted by our previous government, is unwavering," he said while commenting on Gandhi's statement regarding conducting caste census at the national level if the Congress forms the government at the Centre.

Raising the caste census pitch, describing it as an 'X-ray' of the country, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, while addressing an election rally in Udaipur, said the Congress will conduct caste census in Rajasthan if it comes to power and also do so at the national level if it's voted to office at the Centre.

With pressure mounting on his government, from a certain section, to make public the state's socio-economic and educational survey, following Bihar government releasing findings of its caste survey recently, Siddaramaiah had so far been maintaining that a decision will be taken once he receives the report -- which is expected later this month.

The then Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2015 had commissioned the social-economic and educational survey, at an estimated cost of Rs 170 crore in the state, the findings of which have not been made public yet.

The state Backward Classes Commission under its then chairperson H Kantharaj was tasked with preparing a caste census report.

However, with strong disapproval from two dominant communities -- Lingayats and Vokkaligas -- the survey report may turn out to be a political hot potato for the government, as it may set the stage for a confrontation, with Dalits and OBCs among others demanding for it to be made public.

Lingayats, led by All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, which is the apex body of Veerashaiva-Lingayats, have expressed disapproval about the survey calling it unscientific, and demanded conduct of a fresh survey; while Vokkaliga leaders at a meeting, which was also attended by Deputy CM D K Shivakumar and prominent seers from the community recently, passed a resolution urging the government to "reject" the caste census.

On the other hand, federations representing Dalits, tribals and other backward classes (OBC) have demanded that the findings of a caste census, kept under wraps, be made public.

Accusing both the dominant communities of trying to block the caste census from coming out, leaders of the Karnataka State Backward Castes Federation and the Karnataka Marginalised Communities Federation have threatened to hold agitations.

On his part, K Jayaprakash Hegde, the current chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes, has already said he would submit the caste census report to the state government in November.

According to some analysts, successive governments have been shying away from releasing it as the findings of the survey are allegedly contrary to the "traditional perception" of the numerical strength of various castes in Karnataka, especially the dominant Lingayats and Vokkaligas, making it a political hot potato.

Political parties in the state have indulged in a blame game for not accepting the survey and not making it public.

Officials have also cited the then member-secretary of the State Commission for Backward Classes not signing the final report, as the technical hurdle that has hindered the release of the report earlier.

They said the caste census report is currently with the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes, and once it submits it, the cabinet would take a call.

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News Network
February 29,2024

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Shimla, Feb 29: Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania on Thursday disqualified six Congress MLAs who defied the party whip to vote in favour of the government on the Finance Bill in the House.

The disqualified MLAs are Rajinder Rana, Sudhir Sharma, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Devinder Kumar Bhutoo, Ravi Thakur and Chetanya Sharma.

Addressing reporters here, Pathania, who had reserved his verdict on the disqualification of the MLAs on Wednesday, said the legislators attracted the anti-defection law by defying the Congress whip as they were elected on the party's tickets.

"These six MLAs are disqualified and cease to be members of Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly with immediate effect," the Speaker said.

These MLAs had cross-voted in favour of BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan in the Rajya Sabha elections on Tuesday. Later, they abstained from voting on the budget in the assembly.

The House passed the Finance Bill by voice vote after Pathania suspended 15 BJP MLAs. The Speaker then adjourned the session sine die.

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News Network
February 19,2024

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New Delhi, Feb 19: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will once again skip the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) summons, marking the sixth time he has failed to appear for questioning in connection with the Delhi excise policy case. The AAP has reiterated its stance, declaring the summons as "illegal" and asserting that the matter is now before the court.

In a statement released today, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) emphasised that the ED had approached the court itself. The party suggested that instead of repeatedly issuing summonses, the ED should await the court's decision on the validity of the matter.

The ongoing legal battle between Mr Kejriwal and the ED has escalated, with the probe agency persistently summoning the Delhi Chief Minister, who has consistently refused to comply. The sixth summons comes in the wake of a Delhi court's directive to Arvind Kejriwal to appear and explain his non-compliance with the previous summons.

Mr Kejriwal's refusal to appear before the ED raises the possibility of him becoming the first sitting chief minister to face arrest.

The ED, investigating money laundering charges, has been probing allegations related to the Delhi liquor excise policy. The case revolves around accusations that the AAP government's revamped alcohol sales policy allowed it to receive kickbacks from cartels, allegedly funneled into funding election expenses in various states, including Goa.

While Mr Kejriwal has not been named as an accused in the case, two senior AAP members, including ex-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, have faced arrests.

The AAP vehemently denies all charges, asserting that the BJP is manipulating investigative agencies to target the party.

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News Network
February 23,2024

Mangaluru: Coastal security police and Navy intelligence have launched a joint investigation into alleged video purportedly showing a Chinese vessel in the vicinity of the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone, raising concerns over a possible breach.

Early inquiries suggest the video was captured by the captain of a fishing boat departing from Honnavar, which lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea.

The alleged sighting occurred in international waters about 200 nautical miles off the coast of Honnavar.

According to reports, the authorities have identified the vessel as registered in China’s Fuzhou Port. Inspector Victor Naiman of the Coastal Police Force stationed at Kumta is spearheading the investigation. 

With the suspicion of potential espionage, the Indian navy has remained vigilant while the coast guard maintained heightened readiness. 

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