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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])


Saffron should not spread all over tricolour: Kamal Haasan



kamal haasan

Chennai, Feb 22: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan has said that saffron has its place in the national flag but it should not spread all over it, in a remark interpreted as an attack on the BJP and Hindutva forces.

“Even the Indian national flag has saffron. But it (the colour) should not spread all over the flag is what I am saying,” said Kamal, President of newly-formed political party Makkal Needhi Maiam.

In his latest column in a Tamil weekly magazine Ananda Vikatan, Kamal said he has not insulted the saffron band on the tricolour — which signifies courage and sacrifice.

Citing national leaders who fought for freedom, he said they had differed with each other but stood united to fight for the same goal, adding that this lesson should not be lost.

He said for the success of Indian democracy, one cannot forget the contributions of B.R. Ambedkar and Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer in drafting our Constitution.

On the core political philosophy, Kamal said he does not want to be tied down to the narrow confines of any single ‘ism’.

“All ‘isms’ are for social reform. And it cannot be said all have succeeded. It cannot be agreed that a book written in some corner of the world will suit the whole world,” Kamal said.

According to him, one cannot equate Socrates’ Democracy with that of (US President Donald) Trump’s democracy as both are “different creatures”.

Kamal also said he met fellow actor Rajinikanth secretly near here — at the latter’s “Kaala” movie shoot — and told him about his plans to float the party.

Kamal said both agreed to maintain dignity in their political career and not indulge in the usual acrimonial politics.

On meeting DMK President M. Karunanidhi, Kamal said the veteran leader is his Tamil Guru and “he wished me good in my political journey with a smile”.

Kamal who also met DMDK leader A. Vijayakant, another Tamil movie hero turned politician, said he has not changed and continues to be the same old ‘Viji’.


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Chief Secretary row: AAP’s Amanatullah Khan, Prakash Jarwal sent to judicial custody for 14 days



Amantullah Khan
Amanatullah Khan Surrenders

New Delhi, Feb 22: AAP MLA’s Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal have been sent to judicial custody for 14 days in connection with an alleged assault on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash.

On Wednesday, they were sent to judicial custody for a day after they were produced before Delhi’s Tis Hazari court.

Delhi police held AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan in Delhi Chief Secretary alleged assault case after he surrendered dramatically in Jamia Nagar Police station. While surrendering the MLA said, I have not done anything wrong.’

Whereas the police arrested the another MLA Prakash Jarwal on Tuesday evening on the accusations that he along with Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan and his colleague in front of Kejriwal at the Chief Minister’s residence assaulted Chief Secretary of Delhi Anshu Prakash on Monday midnight, where he was called for a meeting.

The police today also questioned V.K. Jain, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s advisor in connection with an alleged assault on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by two AAP MLAs.

Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Harendra Kumar Singh told IANS that Jain was being questioned at the Civil Lines Police Station.

The Chief Minister’s advisor was present at the time of the incident, according to Prakash’s police complaint.

The Additional DCP said police were also trying to track down Khan. They had been to Khan’s residence to detain him on Tuesday night, but the AAP MLA from Okhla was not present.

The allegation of the assault triggered a political storm in the national capital a day ago with the BJP demanding Kejriwal’s resignation and the Congress asking for the AAP chief’s apology.

The AAP hit back by stating that the Chief Secretary was making false allegations and said he was working at the “behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”.

The Home Ministry sought a report from Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on the issue and Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was “deeply pained” by the development.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday afternoon, Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain was manhandled by a crowd which gathered outside the door of a lift inside the Delhi Secretariat. Hussain’s Assistant Personal Secretary was beaten up, according to multiple video clips from the Secretariat.


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Owaisi hits out at Army chief, says Not your work to comment on political parties



New Delhi, Feb 22: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday hit out at General Bipin Rawat for talking about the rise of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) in Assam, saying that the Army chief should not interfere in political matters as it was not his work to comment on the rise of a political party.

Taking to Twitter, Owaisi stated the army chief should not interfere in political matters it is not his work to comment on the rise of a political party, democracy, and constitution also doesn’t allow it.

He further said, the army will always work under an elected civilian leadership.

While addressing a seminar on North-East organised at DRDO Bhawan on February 21, Army Chief had said AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years. When we talk of Jan Sangh with two MPs & where they have reached, AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam.

Hours after a controversy broke out, the Army came up with a justification saying “there is nothing political or religious in the talk. Army Chief just mentioned amalgamation and development in the seminar.

The AIUDF was formed in 2005 with an aim to champion the cause of Muslim community. At present, it has three parliamentarians in Lok Sabha and 13 legislators in the state assembly.


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