Imprint of central cabinet expansion matrix expected in Karnataka cabinet

News Network
August 2, 2021

Bengaluru, Aug 2: Following his second visit to Delhi for forming a new ministry in the state, the political pundits and BJP insiders are speculating that the central leadership may weigh the political prospects of the party in the poll-bound state.

Going by the recent cabinet expansion at the central level orchestrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, political prospects of the party in poll-bound states and caste matrix, were weighed by these political masters.

For instance, four new ministers were inducted from Karnataka, taking the total representation from the state to six. The other two ministers from the state being Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Karnataka goes to poll in 2023 or less than 21 months from now. The party is determined to retain its dominance in the state by swearing in Shobha Karandlaje, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, A Narayanswamy and Bhagwant Khuba from the state.

Modi and Shah also had applied a similar matrix in other poll-bound states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Uttarakhand. They not only gave importance to the geographical factor, but also caste factor, when they picked ministers in the central cabinet.

They also ensured backward classes were adequately represented. The expansion saw 12 ministers from the Scheduled Caste community, including two with cabinet rank – Virendra Kumar and Pashu Pati Kumar Paras. There were 27 ministers representing various backward communities across the states.

So, the pundits are speculating that a similar matrix will be applied by Modi and Shah to ensure that caste balance is maintained after taking into consideration geographical factors when they sit to form the new ministry in Karnataka.

This criteria was quite evident when they sat to induct ministers from poll-bound states including Karnataka. Narayanaswamy is SC (Left), whereas Karandlaje and Khuba hail from Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities, respectively.

The political analysts are also of the view that the central leadership may consider the affiliation of the aspirants with the RSS. Except Chandrasekhar, all other inductees in the central cabinet have affiliations to the RSS.

The analysts also are speculating that the central leadership may induct low-key legislators in the Basavaraj Bommai ministry like they did by including Khuba and Narayanaswamy in the central ministry. The party may look to woo the SC (left) and backward class communities, as it did during the expansion of the central cabinet.

Bommai flew to Delhi Sunday night along with Joshi in the same flight. He is expected to meet the National Party president JP Nadda today. After reaching Delhi, he held discussions with Joshi and party's National General Secretary (Organization) BL Santosh until late night.

Bommai is likely to return to Bengaluru in the evening after meeting Nadda with the list of ministers.

So, the political pundits are expecting some surprises for the people of Karnataka when the list of ministers are made public by Bommai.

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Agencies
September 26,2021

mevanikanhayya.jpg

Independent Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani announced Saturday that he will join the Congress on September 28 along with former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar — a move that has been in the making, and was confirmed by party leaders in Delhi.

They will join in the Capital, in the presence of Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat Congress working president Hardik Patel. The date has a symbolic value as it is Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary. 

A Dalit leader, Mevani, 41, first emerged along with Hardik and Alpesh Thakore as the youth face challenging the BJP dominance in Gujarat during the 2017 Assembly elections. Kanhaiya, 34, is the firebrand former JNU student union president who caught national attention with speeches against the Modi government, and then went on to unsuccessfully try his hand at electoral politics as a CPI candidate.

However, since then, much water has flowed under the bridge for both leaders — even as the Congress is in rockier waters than before. So, what do the two bring to the party table? The opinion in the grand old party, as usual, is divided. Some leaders dismayingly see in it the Gandhi siblings’ proclivity to lurch towards the Left.

In a brief statement, Mevani, who had won from the reserved Vadgam Assembly seat in north Gujarat in 2017, with the backing of the Congress, said: “On September 28, I will be joining the Indian National Congress along with Kanhaiya Kumar. I have nothing more to say till then.”

Welcoming “all revolutionary leaders willing to work for the country and strengthen the Congress” Saturday, Hardik said they should do so “without worrying about their personal ambitions and challenges”. Calling Mevani “an old friend” while speaking to PTI, he said Mevani’s entry would strengthen the Congress in the state and at the national level.

Hardik’s reference to “personal ambitions” is interesting given his own frustration within the Congress, which he joined in 2019 after leading a successful Patidar agitation against the BJP. In an interview, he had said the state leadership did not give him any work and was trying to “pull me down”.

During the debate for the JNU student union president’s post in 2015, Kanhaiya, the candidate of the CPI student wing AISF, had shown his oratorical skills with paraphrasing of a couplet to famously attack both the BJP and Congress: “Barbaad Hindustan karne ko ek hi Congress kafi tha… Har rajya main BJP baitha hai, barbaad e gulistan kya hoga.”

Apart from the fact that both Kumar and Mevani are fiery speakers, the Congress also has state-specific calculations.

While Mevani was in talks with the Congress much before the BJP changed its entire ministry in Gujarat, the revamp has made his choice even more significant for the party given the new caste dynamics. The BJP’s new chief minister is a Patel, while AAP too is focusing on the community in its foray into the state that goes to polls next year. The Congress strategy seems to be to woo the OBCs and Dalits. Mevani had emerged as the face of the Dalit protests in Gujarat in the wake of the Una flogging incident.

Hardik, who has been trying for the Congress to make him the state chief, is said to have worked behind the scenes for Mevani’s induction.

Many Congress leaders in Gujarat see the move as timely, given the long stasis in the state unit. The party has not been able to appoint an AICC in-charge for Gujarat since Rajiv Satav’s death in May. Party leaders have been pushing for a clear signal to the OBC and Dalit community.

Apart from this, the Congress hopes the entry of Kanhaiya and Mevani will be good optics given the fact that several young leaders — Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sushmita Dev, Jitin Prasada, Priyanka Chaturvedi and Laliteshpati Tripathi – have left the party in the last two years. The first battleground where the party may use the two is Uttar Pradesh.

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News Network
September 19,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 19: Former Union minister and BJP’s Bengaluru North MP D V Sadananda Gowda today filed a complaint with the cybercrime police after a sleaze video purportedly showing him went viral on social media.

Taking to Twitter, the senior BJP leader said that it is not him in the video and added that the video has been created with the intention of maligning his image.

"A morphed (deep fake) video of mine has been making rounds on social media. I would like to inform that, it is not me in the video, its created to malign my impeccable image by my adversaries with vested interest," he said in a tweet.

He said he filed a cyber complaint and added that he has faith in the system and is hopeful that the culprits will be nabbed soon.

"Also, I as per the injunction order of the court, anyone forwarding/uploading the content will be punishable as per the relevant sections of the law. If you know of anyone doing the same, kindly inbox me," he said in another tweet.

A complaint has been filed with the concerned authorities, to arrest and punish the guilty parties immediately, he said.

"Malefactors, who are upset by my rise on the political front, have brought out a fake, lewd video of mine for my fall. The video has become viral on social media, which pains me," he said in a tweet.

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News Network
September 23,2021

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has told Delhi High Court that Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief In Emergency Fund, or the PM-CARES Fund, which was created in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, does not come under the Government of India and it cannot be brought under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act. Also, the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India, the Delhi High Court has been informed.

The Centre, in an affidavit, said that the Fund can neither be listed as "State" nor "public authority" under the Right to Information as it received funds from private sources.

An affidavit filed by an Under Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who is discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust on honorary basis, has said the trust functions with transparency and its funds are audited by an auditor -- a chartered accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition seeking a direction to declare the PM-CARES Fund a 'State' under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Amit Bansal has fixed the matter for further hearing on September 27.

"To ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the trust along with the details of utilisation of funds received by the trust,” says the affidavit filed by Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, Under Secretary at the PMO.

“I state that when the petitioner is claiming to be a public-spirited person and seeking to pray for various reliefs only for transparency, it does not matter whether PM-CARES is a ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India,” the officer said in the affidavit.

Irrespective of whether the trust is a ‘State’ or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution or whether it is a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of provisions of the Right to Information Act (RTI), it is not permissible to disclose third party information.It said that all donations received by the trust are received via online payments, cheques or Demand Drafts and the amount received is audited with the audited report and the expenditure of trust fund displayed on the website.

“The trust functions on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection in uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency,” it said, while reiterating that “the trust’s fund is not a fund of Government of India and the amount does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India.”

The officer said he is discharging his functions in the PM-CARES Trust on honorary basis, which is a charitable trust not created by or under the Constitution or by any law made by the Parliament or by any State legislature. “Despite being an officer of the Central government, I am permitted to discharge my functions in PM-CARES Trust on an honorary basis,” he said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Samyak Gangwal who has said that the PM-CARES Fund is a 'State' as it was formed by the Prime Minister on March 27, 2020 to extend assistance to the citizens of India in the wake of the public health emergency -- the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic. His counsel had told the court that if it is found that the PM-CARES Fund is not 'State' under the Constitution, usage of the domain name '.gov.in', the Prime Minister's photograph, state emblem etc has to be stopped.

The petition said that the Trustees of the fund are the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister and the Finance Minister and immediately after the formation of the fund, the Centre through its high government functionaries represented that the fund was set up and operated by the Government of India.

To ensure transparency and accountability, the plea has sought a direction for periodic auditing of PM-CARES website and disclosure of the details of donations received by it.

In his alterative prayers, Gangwal has sought to direct the Centre to publicise that the PM-CARES Fund is not a fund of the Government of India and to restrain PM-CARES from using 'Prime Minister of India' or 'Prime Minister', including its abbreviations its name, on its website, Trust Deed and other official or unofficial communications and advertisements.

On March 9, the court had said it was not inclined to issue notice on the plea as the Centre was already represented through counsel who may file their written submissions.

The petitioner has also filed another petition to declare PM-CARES as a 'public authority' under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which is being heard together with the first plea.

This petition challenges a June 2, 2020 order of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), PMO, refusing to provide documents sought by him on the ground that PM-CARES Fund is not a public authority under the RTI Act.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented PMO, had opposed the petition, stating that it was not maintainable and that he would file a response explaining why it should not be entertained. 

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