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Felt like a stepson, stifled in BJP: Shatrughan Sinha

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BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Feb 2: Veteran actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who is a part of the “non-political” platform Rashtra Manch — aimed at raising issues concerning the Narendra Modi government — says he feels free now as he felt “stifled” by the stepson like treatment by the BJP.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. It’s party time. When and how did the Rashtra Manch happen?

A. It was an idea floating in some of our restless heads for a while. You know how hard it is for me to keep a secret (laughs). Special mention must be made of individuals like Ghanshyam Tiwari and K.C. Singh who made this possible. But I had to keep the plans under wraps until we actually launched the Rashtra Manch. And now here we are.

Q. How does it feel?

A. To have a forum, a platform where I can express myself and most importantly, be able to work towards bettering the country, is extremely liberating. I can’t tell you how free I feel. Khuli hawaa mein saans lene ka mazaa hi kuch aur hai (the thrill of breathing in the open air is something else).

Q. But your parent party the BJP never stopped you from speaking?

A. They never allowed me to do anything other than speak. I seemed to serve no purpose beyond being an outspoken member of my parent party. I felt my parent party was giving me the treatment given to a stepson. Quite honestly I felt stifled. Yashwant Sinhaji is someone I’ve respected and been associated with for a long time. When he came up with this idea of a non-political forum, I was completely for it. You see, we are not a breakaway party. We are not rebelling from our parent party. We are not fence crossers.

Q. So what is the purpose of the Rashtra Manch?

A. Let me first tell you what is not its purpose. We are not fighting any election in the Rashtra Manch. So in that sense we are not a political party. Our motive for coming together is to bring real change and reform in the social order. I am not just talking about lip service. But real changes.

Q. Like what?

A. Like addressing the financial issues, looking into the needs of the poor. We will be addressing farmers’ suicide, unemployment, internal security and external security. I feel too much attention is being focused on irrelevant issues to digress attention from actual problems. A case in point is the “Padmaavat” controversy. It was highly unnecessary and totally uncalled for.

Q. Would you be allowed to address real issues?

A. Why would we not be allowed? Doesn’t our honourable Prime Minister, the country’s biggest and strongest action hero Narendra Modiji want changes and reform to happen? We’ve floated this party to strengthen his hands, just as Jaiprakash Narain and V.P. Singh had floated a party while being a part of the RSS.

Q. Are you confident that your new party would be able to make a difference?

A. We have our hearts and goals in the right place. We have like-minded people in the party. Political optimists like Pavan Varma, Dinesh Tiwary, Renuka Chowdhary, Som Pal are with us. We feel empowered and hopeful.

Q. But the Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Sagar Rao has accused you and Yashwant Sinha of crossing all limits?

A. Iss saagar (ocean) may kitni gehrayee hai yeh toh sabko maloom hai (Everyone knows how deep this ocean runs).

IANS

Politics

Caught on camera: UP BJP chief showers flower petals on MLA Surendra Singh days after serving him notice

The video which went viral on Saturday shows Swatantra Dev Singh participating in a ‘bhumi pujan’ programme of a Krishna temple at Kathauda village in Sikanderpur area

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MLA Surendra Singh

Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh has been caught on camera showering flower petals on the party’s Bairia MLA Surendra Singh, days after serving him a notice for his statements supporting the main accused in the firing incident at Durjanpur village in Ballia.

The video which went viral on Saturday shows Swatantra Dev Singh participating in a ‘bhumi pujan’ programme of a Krishna temple at Kathauda village in Sikanderpur area. Both the leaders are seen sitting side by side in the footage.

The state BJP chief is seen showering flower petals on Surendra Singh, who acknowledges it with folded hands.

On being asked about the video, BJP’s Salempur MP Ravindra Kushwaha, who was also present at the event on Friday, told reporters that only Swatantra Dev Singh can elaborate on his actions.

Earlier this week, the state unit of the BJP had issued a show cause notice to MLA Surendra Singh for issuing statements in support of Dhirendra Pratap Singh, a local party leader who has been arrested for allegedly killing a man. The legislator was given a week’s time to respond to the notice.

Surendra Singh had come out in open support of Dhirendra Pratap Singh, who allegedly shot dead a 46-year-old man in Ballia’s Durjanpur village following a quarrel over the allotment of ration shops on October 15.

The Bairia MLA had defended the accused, saying that the latter opened fire in self-defence as it was a do-or-die situation for him .

He had also accused the administration of bias and demanded that action be taken against the other side.

Meanwhile, Swatantra Dev had said that BJP national president J P Nadda had sought information about the matter.

Despite being served a notice, the Bairia MLA continued to extend his support to Dhirendra Singh, who is said to be the district unit president of the BJP ex-servicemen cell.

The MLA had also recently claimed that he met senior BJP leaders in the past few days and that everyone backed him.

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India

Farooq Abdullah to lead Gupkar alliance, asserts it’s not anti-national; Mehbooba to be vice-chairperson

After a meeting at Mehbooba’s house, Abdullah said the alliance is fighting for the restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and is an “anti-BJP platform” and not an anti-national amalgam

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Omar Mehbooba Mufti Fraooq

Seven mainstream parties of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday gave a formal shape to their recently cobbled alliance for the restoration of Article 370, electing National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah as its chairman and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti as vice-chairperson, and asserted that theirs was “not an anti-national” grouping.

Veteran CPM leader M Y Tarigami was elected as the convenor while Lok Sabha member from South Kashmir Hasnain Masoodi would be the coordinator of the conglomerate known as Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).

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Sajjad Gani Lone of People’s Conference would be the spokesman for the amalgam.

After a meeting held at Mehbooba’s house, Abdullah, who turned 84 earlier this week, said the alliance is fighting for the restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and is an “anti-BJP platform” and not an anti-national amalgam.

“I want to tell you that this is false propaganda by the BJP that the PAGD is anti-national. I want to tell them that this is not true. There is no doubt that it is anti-BJP, but it is not anti-national,” he told reporters here.

Abdullah alleged that the BJP has tried to break the federal structure through acts like the abrogation of Article 370 and dividing Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

“They have tried to destroy the Constitution of the country, they have tried to divide the nation, to break the federal structure which we saw what they did on August 5 last year,” the NC president said.

“I want to tell them that this (PAGD) is not an anti-national jamaat. Our aim is that the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh should get their rights back. That’s where our battle is. Our battle is not for more than that,” he said.

Abdullah said the BJP was doing propaganda against the constituents of the PAGD in Jammu and elsewhere in the country.

“They are trying to divide us (people of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh) in the name of religion. This attempt will not succeed. This is not a religious battle, this is a fight for our identity, and for that identity, we are standing together,” he said.

The amalgam, which met for the first time after its formation, will come out with a white paper within one month on governance in Jammu and Kashmir over the past one year since the abrogation of article 370, Lone told reporters after the meeting.

“The white paper will not be rhetoric. It will be based on facts and figures to present the reality to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and around the country…. An impression is being given that all the corruption had happened in Jammu and Kashmir,” Lone said.

The amalgam decided to hold its next meeting after a fortnight in Jammu, followed by a convention in Srinagar on November 17.

As a mark of defiance to the constitutional changes made by the Centre with respect to Jammu and Kashmir last year, the alliance adopted the flag of the erstwhile state as its symbol.

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Election

Don’t vote those who sold your mandate: Shivakumar

“Did you all not know how he ill-treated women workers of BJP then? Women voters should not forget these things. He should be taught a lesson by women voters of this constituency,” he said.

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Karnataka DK Shivakumar

Bengaluru: Upping his ante against the ruling BJP candidate, N. Muniratna, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president D. K. Shivakumar on Saturday appealed to voters not to cast their franchise against such legislators who “sold their previous mandate” for money.

Addressing a poll rally in Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency here, Shivakumar charged that Munirtana is responsible for this by-election, which was unwarranted. “People of this constituency at least now they should wake up and teach lessons to such “traders”, who did not even hesitate to sell the people’s mandate for their own benefit,” he said.

Recalling few instances of BJP women workers in the constituency filing cases against Muniratna, Shivakumar said that Muniratna is known for several wrongdoings and one of them is misbehaving with women too.

“Did you all not know how he ill-treated women workers of BJP then? Women voters should not forget these things. He should be taught a lesson by women voters of this constituency,” he said.

Meanwhile, Congress candidate, H. Kusuma who accompanied Shivakumar, asserted that she was born here and is a daughter of this constituency. “Please vote for your daughter,” she appealed and tried to connect herself with women voters emotionally.

She added that her only aim was to convert this constituency into a fearless one. “People are living in fear because of my rival. I want to get rid of the fear from people’s hearts,” she said.

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