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Freed pro-Maoist leader reposes faith in Mamata



Mamata Banerjee
File Photo

Kolkata, A day after he was bailed out on completing a ten-year sentence, pro-Maoist leader Chhatradhar Mahato – who spearheaded a violent tribal movement in West Bengal’s Jangalmahal areas – on Sunday lauded chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her development efforts in the region and said he would re-launch the struggle by reposing faith in her.

Mahato, arrested in 2009, was bailed out on Saturday in a case in Jharkhand, days after he completed his ten-year prison term on various charges under the Indian Penal Code, including under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

He walked out of the SSKM hospital, where he was under medical treatment for the last few months of his incarceration, after the authorities in the Presidency Correctional Home okayed his release on receiving the bail papers from Jharkhand in connection with a case in Ghatshila.

Mahato, whose proximity to the Trinamool Congress has been speculated upon over the last one year of his prison term, thanked the state government for solving a number of problems in Jangalmahal (stretches of forest in mainly three districts – West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura – as also some parts of Birbhum).

“After 11 long years, I am entering a new life. Naturally, I feel great. I had lot of dreams about Jangalmahal. I want to renew my struggle for realising the dreams of the people there, and stand by them, in the way they wish, to relieve their sorrows and sufferings. I hope people will accept me,” he said.

Mahato said he has some idea about the situation in Jangalmahal and the improvement in the condition of the people through the print media.

“I don’t know how of much of that is true, but I’d thank the present government for resolving a substantial part of the problems in the area which prompted us to start our movement,” he said.

Mahato said his wishes for Jangalmahal were similar to those nurtured by Banerjee. My wishes for Jangalmahal are similar to those of didi (elder sister – as Banerjee is affectionately called). So I want to be a part of the struggle by reposing confidence in didi,” he said.

Before his arrest in 2009, Mahato was the convener of the Maoist-backed tribal group Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in West Midnapore district’s Lalgarh area – about 200 kms west of Kolkata – that saw a violent movement against the erstwhile Left Front government.

Lalgarh was on the boil for over two years since November 2, 2008, when a landmine exploded on the route of the convoy of then state chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada.

Complaining of police atrocities after the blast, angry tribals egged on by the Maoists launched an agitation virtually cutting off the area from the rest of the district.

The agitators torched CPI-M offices, drove away its supporters and forced the police to leave, thereby establishing a virtual free zone. In Jun 2009, the joint forces comprising central paramilitary troopers and crack teams of state police reclaimed the areas and conducted intense operations to flush out the left-wing ultras.

There were a spate of arrests while a number of PCAPA and Maoist leaders were killed in shootouts with the security forces.Mahato was nabbed on September 26, 2009, by the police, posing as journalists.

The movement gradually died down. In 2015, Mahato and three of his comrades were given life sentences by the court of additional sessions judge (West Midnapore), under the UAPA, and various IPC provisions dealing with murder, criminal conspiracy, waging war against the state and various other sections of the Arms Act and the Explosives Act.

But in August last year, the Calcutta High Court reduced their sentence to ten years. Sources said a number of cases in which Mahato has been booked are still sub-judice, and he would have to fight them while on bail.

It is learnt the Trinamool wants to use Mahato’s influences and contacts to take on the BJP in tribal-dominated Jangalmahal where the saffron outfit had won four seats – Midnapore, Jhargram, Bankura and Purulia – in last year’s Lok Sabha polls.


A vote to confirm Barrett “is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act”: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer



Chuck Schumer
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said President Trump’s decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has put “Americans’ healthcare in the crosshairs.”

“The American people should make no mistake — a vote by any Senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Schumer wrote in a statement.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, unabated by this Administration, healthcare was already the number one issue on the ballot in November. President Trump has promised to nominate Supreme Court Justices who will “terminate” our health care law and decimate the health care system for American Indians and Alaska Natives. In Judge Barrett, President Trump has found the deciding vote.”

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments just after the November election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans have indicated they may vote to confirm Barrett before Election Day — meaning she could be seated on the bench for that case.

In an early 2017 law review essay, reviewing a book related to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ rationale that saved the law in 2012.

“Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” Barrett wrote. “He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power.”

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Biden urges US Senate not to confirm Supreme Court nominee before election



Vice President Joe Biden

Joe Biden released a statement reacting to Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and focused on health care and protecting the Affordable Care Act.

“Today, President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Justice Ginsburg’s seat. She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012,” Biden said.

He added that the Senate should not act on the vacancy until after the American people select their next president.

Senate Republicans have outlined a possible confirmation hearing for Barrett that could have her confirmed before Election Day.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments just after the election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. The case is brought by a coalition of Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration, who argue the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the entire law must fall.

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BJP ready to contest on all seats in Punjab: Former minister

He has been claiming that the party has set up a strong base in the rural areas of Punjab.



Madan Mohan Mittal

Chandigarh, Sep 27 : Minutes after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) decided to quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on differences over the three ‘controversial’ farm sector Bills passed by the Parliament, senior BJP leader Madan Mohan Mittal said the party is ready to contest all the 117 seats in the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls.

He even claimed that several Akali leaders are in touch them and want to jump ship to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The SAD would not get a majority if they contest alone,” Mittal told the media.

In the 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP had contested 23 seats, while the remaining 94 were fought by the SAD.

Out of the 13 Parliamentary seats in Punjab, the Akalis contested 10 in the 2019 general elections, while the BJP fought on the remaining three.

Former minister Mittal has been quite vocal against the SAD for quite some time now, and has been saying that the BJP should part ways with the Akalis with which the saffron party had an alliance for three decades.

He has been claiming that the party has set up a strong base in the rural areas of Punjab.

The relations between the old allies came under strain in December last when Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal slammed the BJP during the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) debate in the Parliament.

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