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Congress-NCP pay homage to Bal Thackeray, BJP also joins

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Bal Thackeray-
Photo-ANI

Mumbai, Nov 17 : For the first time, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party paid homage to the founder of the Shiv Sena, the late Bal Thackeray on his seventh death anniversary and later the Bharatiya Janata Party also joined in, here on Sunday.

The day started with thousands of Shiv Sainiks coming from across Maharashtra and queuing up at ‘Shivtirth’ for their turn to offer tributes to the charismatic and firebrand leader who passed away on this day in 2012.

Later, NCP state president Jayant Patil, former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Jitendra Awhad, also reached Shivaji Park – where ‘Shivtirth’ is situated – and paid their respects.

An erstwhile close confidante of the late leader, Bhujbal was seen getting emotional and later recalled the relationship he enjoyed with the late Thackeray.

NCP President Sharad Pawar who is in Pune paid rich tributes to the leader, describing him as a person who kindled pride in the Marathi ‘manoos’, was known for his courageous personality through which he gave a direction to society and politics.

Congress leaders including Bhai Jagtap came and paid homage and recalled his services to the state and people of Maharashtra.

Subsequently, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, his wife Rashmi, other family members and top party leaders entered Shivaji Park and offered floral tributes, bowed before a statue of the late Thackeray and paid homage.

Sometime later, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his former ministerial colleagues Vinod Tawade and Pankaja Munde also paid floral tributes.

They did not enter inside the ‘Shivtirth’ statue where Sena leaders including Uddhav Thackeray were present but quickly left after paying their homage.

It may be recalled that the Congress-NCP and Sena are currently engaged in finalizing their alliance before forming the state government.

A stunned BJP is still hoping that the Sena will have a change of heart and come around, but is claiming that it will form the government despite having 105 MLAs, plus reportedly the support of 14 others including independents.

The Congress-NCP are currently providing final touches to the proposed alliance with Sena with a meeting between their top leaders – Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar – scheduled in New Delhi on Monday.

Signalling a formal split, the Sena is not attending a crucial NDA meet, while the party’s three MPs have been given a new seating arrangement in Rajya Sabha for the parliament session starting on Monday.

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BJP govt should reconsider Citizenship Act: DMK chief M K Stalin

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MK Stalin

Chennai, Dec 15 : DMK chief M K Stalin on Sunday expressed concern over the violence in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and said the Centre should reconsider it.

Protestors torched four public buses and two police vehicles as they clashed with police in south Delhi’s New Friends’ Colony near Jamia Millia Islamia University during a demonstration against the contentious law this evening.

Soon after the violence, Jamia Millia Islamia Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmed Khan claimed, the Delhi Police entered the campus forcibly without any permission and beat up staff members and students who were forced to leave the premises.

At the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of students protesting against the amended legislation clashed with police who used batons and teargas to disperse them.

“BJP government must reconsider CAA2019 (Citizenship Amendment Act) in the wake of widespread, continuous protests,” Stalin said in a tweet.

“Shocked to see visuals of brutal attacks on students in Jamia Milia and Aligarh Muslim University,” he said.

“Every drop of blood spilled will need to be answered for in the days to come,” he added.

The amended Citizenship Act seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim religious minorities from three neighbouring countries who arrived in India till December 31, 2014, to escape religious persecution.

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Rahul’s Savarkar remark draws ire from friends, foes

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Mahatma Gandhi and Veer Savarkar

Mumbai, Dec 14 : Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s controversial remarks on Vinayak Damodar alias Veer Savarkar escalated into a big controversy, earning the ire of friends and foes alike, here on Saturday.

Slamming Gandhi, Ranjit Savarkar, the grandson of Veer Savarkar, said: “Thank God his name is not Rahul Savarkar, or else we would have had to blacken our own faces.”

“He alleged that Veer Savarkar apologised, but actually he only agreed to certain conditions to secure his release, and this is known to the whole world. Veer Savarkar never indulged in the kind of submissive behaviour that Jawaharlal Nehru showed before the British even after Independence,” Ranjit Savarkar said.

He also attacked the Congress, saying it is no longer the party of freedom struggle but was reduced to a slave of a dynasty.

Later, speaking to a private TV channel, he expressed hope that the Congress’ ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, would beat him (Gandhi) up with ‘shoes’ for the insult meted out to his grandfather.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis sarcastically said that “just because someone has the Gandhi surname does not make him a (Mahatma) Gandhi,” and demanded Gandhi must apologise to the nation for his utterances.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut sternly said: “We respect Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. Veer Savarkar is not just Maharashtra’s but the entire country’s idol, who sacrificed his life for the country’s freedom. Hence, he (Veer Savarkar) should not be insulted in any manner, and there can be no compromise on this.”

Raut’s statement came barely a day after the Congress seemed to have backtracked on the Sena’s decision to vote for the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha, but abstained from the Rajya Sabha vote, even as the new Citizenship Amendment Act came into force amidst protests in many parts of India.

Gandhi’s outburst came when he refused to apologise over his ‘Rape in India’ remark and sought to deride Veer Savarkar by saying: “I am not Rahul Savarkar, and I will not apologise for speaking the truth.”

Addressing the party’s Bharat Bachao rally in New Delhi, Gandhi said that in the Parliament on Friday, the BJP members asked him to apologise “but I want to tell them that I am not Rahul Savarkar, I won’t apologise. I will not apologise for speaking the truth.”

Instead, he demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah should say sorry to the country for the economic crises and the CAA fallout, even as his comments on Veer Savarkar snowballed into a mega row by the evening.

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Kejriwal teams up with Prashant Kishor’s firm

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Prashant Kishor

New Delhi, Dec 14 : With an aim to keep up AAP’s Assembly strength, Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party has teamed up with Prashant Kishor’s consultancy Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) to manage its campaign ahead of the polls early next year.

The announcement on Saturday by party chief Arvind Kejriwal has come just weeks before his tenure as Delhi Chief Minister is to end.

The AAP had secured 67 out of 70 assembly seats in Delhi in the 2015 assembly elections and Kejriwal’s tenure will end in February 2020.

“Happy to share that I-PAC is coming on board with us. Welcome aboard!,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Kejriwal’s deputy and senior party leader Manish Sisodia responded to the tweet in Hindi, saying this time the party will get more than 67 seats.

The firm responded to Kejriwal’s tweet, saying: “After Punjab results, we acknowledged you as the toughest opponent that we have ever faced. Happy to join forces now with Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party.”

While Kishor and his team could not be contacted for comment, according to the AAP sources, the two had been in talks from the past several months.

“We were in talks… The decision was finalised recently. We will soon roll out our election plan,” a party leader said demanding anonymity.

When asked why the party decided to go for Kishor, the leader said: “He and his firm have a track record of winning (elections). We know we will win the elections, but joining hands with successful people is no harm.”

The firm shot to fame after it had helped Narendra Modi and BJP win the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Kishor helped Nitish Kumar in the 2015 Bihar Assembly Elections as well. He is now the vice-president of the BJP’s Bihar ally Janata Dal (United).

The political advocacy group was hired by the Congress for the 2017 Punjab Assembly Elections to help Amarinder Singh’s campaign. The Aam Aadmi Party came second in the elections.

Kishor was appointed as political advisor to Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy in May 2017. In all the cases, Kishor and his firm had given positive results.

For the 2021 Assembly elections in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, Kishor has joined hands with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu to help the parties in the state elections.

The BJP accused the AAP of wasting the “hard-earned” money of the taxpayer for its political campaign.

“They say they don’t have money. How did they manage to hire such a firm? They are wasting people’s money. If they had worked in the last five years, there was no requirement to do all this,” a BJP leader said.

AAP’s Raghav Chadha said the work done by the Kejriwal government is praised by all.

“The people or firm which comes with AAP works on a pro bono basis. The I-PAC will serve the party on the same basis. There have been no financial or commercial arrangements. They will give their services on a pro bono basis and as a volunteer of the party. The aim is that the hands of the Kejriwal should be strengthened and all good people should work in the nation-building exercise. We welcome Kishor and his firm for their support to the party,” Chadha said.

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