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Defence Minister Parrikar faces proxy battle in Panaji



Panaji, Jan 11 (IANS)

While the Indian army fights a proxy war on the country’s borders, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar now faces a shadow war on his home turf, the Panaji assembly seat, when Goa votes on February 4.

Taking on the BJP is Parrikar’s political guru, former state RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, who earlier unveiled his electoral weapon — one that is expected to give Parrikar a substantial niggle in the run-up to the election where the BJP is desperately fighting to hold on to power.

The Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), a Velingkar-backed outfit, named modest city businessman Krishnaraj alias Raju Sukerkar, known as one of Parrikar’s closest friends and aides, as its candidate for the Panaji seat.

The Sukerkar residence — Sukerkar Mansion in the heart of Panaji — is one address Parrikar has regularly frequented in all his political avatars, as MLA, as opposition leader, as Chief Minister and now as Defence Minister, where witnesses say, ‘Raju’ and he often chat over the latter’s favoured snack of phulka (light oil-less roti) and black tea.

Sukerkar does not deny his friendship with Parrikar but adds that he is contesting the Panaji seat against Parrikar’s nominee and outgoing MLA Sidharth Kuncolienkar on the instructions of his guide and guru Velingkar, and as a matter of principle.

“We have a friendship, but friendship, ideology and politics are three different sections which should not get mixed up… GSM is 110 per cent convinced that whatever I do is sincere,” Surkerkar told IANS, shortly after his candidature was announced.

Asked about his chances of winning, he said: “However experienced one is, in politics an election is an election. Until counting day, it is tough for everyone. Judging by the reactions of the people and the support of the people, my victory appears certain.”

Apart from his friendship with Parrikar, Sukerkar was also involved in a big-ticket land transaction with Parrikar’s son Abhijat some years back.

Sukerkar’s willingness as a Swayamsevak to take on a friend of decades in Parrikar, who represented the Panaji seat from 1994 to 2014, is only an indication of how complex the coming election is expected to be.

About 10 political parties and a ost of independents are expected to field candidates for the 40 seats.

With the Congress staving off the fledging Aam Aadmi Party from gnawing away at its minority vote bank, with the regional parties — the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the Goa Vikas Party, the Goa Suraj Party and sundry others weaving and bobbing about, and with the once-confident BJP now having to scramble to keep the Hindu vote intact, the campaign and the electoral contest is expected to be a nail-biting one.

On Tuesday, the contest for the BJP just got a lot tougher, with the GSM, MGP and Shiv Sena launching a pre-poll alliance, with Velingkar as its convener. It will contest 37 seats.

Of particular interest is the battle between Velingkar, who is regarded by both his fans in the Sangh and now foes in the BJP as Bhishma Pitamaha of Goan politics, and his most celebrated pupil and master-strategist, Parrikar.

After mentoring dozens of top state BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, over three decades, Velingkar is a man on a mission to defeat the BJP in these elections.

He has been co-convener of a pro-regional languages front, which has been critical of the state BJP, and Parrikar in particular, for their alleged betrayal of regional languages over English as a medium of instruction in Goa’s primary schools.

The campaign resulted in his sacking as Goa Sangha Chalak and from the managing board of RSS-run schools in the state.

With the introduction of Sukerkar as Velingkar’s man against Parrikar’s hand-picked candidate in Kuncolienkar, the former RSS man may have just turned Parrikar’s political backyard into a mine-field of sorts where the Defence Minister may have to tread carefully.

The BJP for now appears to be taking Velingkar’s move in the right spirit. Asked to react to Sukerkar’s candidature in Panaji, BJP spokesperson Premanand Mahambrey said: “All is fair in love and war.”

The result will be known on March 11.

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar 

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at [email protected])


Rahul Gandhi takes charge as Congress president



Rahul Gandhi
Congress President

New Delhi, 16th December: Rahul Gandhi on Saturday (16th December took over the charge  of Congress President. He has been elected unopposed for this crucial position in the party.

The Congres workers are celebrating his appointment outside the party office. However, it would be a tough task for Rahul Gandhi as he is taking this position amid a huge political challenge of 2019 Loksabha Election.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, current and former Chief Ministers, MPs, senior Congress leaders, and all PCC chiefs and delegates were expected to be present at the handing over ceremony.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Congress was making a new resolve for the country. “Today we are taking a pledge for a new movement in India.

“Free from fear, for freedom of expression, for eliminating discriminations, for promoting brotherhood and saving democracy.”

The entire process would be completed after the Central Election Authority President Mullapally Ramachandran hands over the Certificate of Election to the newly-elected Congress president.

Sonia Gandhi on Friday announced that it was time for her to retire, triggering immediate speculation about her future plans.

The Congress sought to quell it saying she has only retired from the party chief’s role and not from politics.

She also added that Rahul Gandhi has been playing an active role in the last three years.

The 47-year-old Gandhi scion’s formal takeover comes two days before the counting of votes for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections, the outcome of which could be a trendsetter for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Rahul Gandhi had been the party Vice President for over four years since 2013.



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Policeman attempts to fire at Kamal Nath

Rajya Sabha MP and advocate Vivek Tankha posted two tweets informing about the incidence.



Kamal Nath

As per Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tanka, a policeman tried to fire his rifle at senior Congress leader Kamal Nath at the Chhindwara airstrip in Madhya Pradesh. The policeman was overpowered by the security personnel present at the airstrip and has now been placed under suspension.

Rajya Sabha MP and advocate Vivek Tankha posted two tweets informing about the incidence.

Kamal Nath represents Chhindwara in Loksabha and is presently the longest serving member of the Indian Parliament. He has been elected nine times from Chhindwara.

He has won every election since 1980 with the sole exception of elections to 11th Loksabha in 1996.

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Activists seek political support on triple talaq bill, AIMPLB opposes




New Delhi, Dec 15 : Women activists on Friday sought support of all political parties in converting the triple talaq Bill into law in Parliament, even as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) termed the Bill a “direct interference in religious matters”.

The women activists said the Bill to ban triple talaq — oral divorce by Muslim men — should be converted into law in Parliament’s Winter Session so that its victims can get justice.

The Union Cabinet on Friday cleared the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, to make the practice of triple talaq an offence.

The AIMPLB said it is against ‘Shariat’ and asked the Centre to consult the Muslim organisation before making any such law, after the Bill was approved by the Cabinet.

Activist Zakir Soman claimed the board and the Muslim community are not taking proper care of triple talaq victims, and such women should get justice from the law.

“If the community and the board were doing enough, why would triple talaq victims be approaching women’s organisations?” asked Soman.

“We will not give up our constitutional and legal entitlements. We are all citizens of a democracy and living in the 21st century. We are entitled, educated, and empowered, and want justice as per the law of the land…,” the activist said.

According to Soman, they have written to Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury for support in ensuring the passage of Bill in Parliament.

“It is not a matter of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress or any other political party. It is the responsibility of all political parties and their representatives and all women in this country,” she said.

Opposing the proposed law, AIMPLB member Maulana Khalid Rashid said: “As far as the divorced women’s rehabilitation is concerned, the Muslim community is already doing it. So, we consider the Bill as a direct interference in the religious matters of our community. It is an attack on our religious freedom…”

“Women are not being tortured in the name of triple talaq. Muslim women have said they do not want changes in the community’s personal laws, including on triple talaq. If certain people are misusing such laws it doesn’t mean you will completely end it. It is part of our ‘Shariat’. The government should at least have consulted Muslim organisations before making any such law.”

Woman activist Hina Zaheer said: “According to the Quran, there is no provision for instant talaq… So, it should not be a matter of prestige for the board. Since the board failed to resolve the issue, a lot of politics has been done on it.”

According to the draft Bill sent out to the states earlier this month, it was proposed that triple talaq be made a cognisable and non-bailable offence, attracting three years in jail.

The draft law was prepared in the backdrop of the August verdict of the Supreme Court that struck down the practice of “instant” divorce as illegal.


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