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‘I said it…’ Fadnavis admits to controversial audio-clip

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Mumbai/Palghar, May 26: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday admitted to his voice and content in a audio-clip in which he exhorted his activists “to win Palghar elections” at any cost, which kicked up a massive political row in the poll-bound Maharashtra district.

However, he hit back by alleging that the original audio-clip was “selectively edited and doctored” to remove the context of his statement on “saam daam, dand and bhed” to party activists.

To prove his point, he played the entire 14-minute audio-clip before the media and accused the Shiv Sena of “resorting to such low-level tactics as defeat stares at it in Palghar”.

“I said it… and that is my voice. But the following sentence has been deliberately knocked off to twist it completely out of context. I am sending it to the Election Commission with a request that if I am found guilty, they can take action against me,” Fadnavis declared.

In the same breath, he demanded that if the Shiv Sena were found guilty of “editing and doctoring” the audio-tape, then they should also face action for playing it in public to misguide the voters on the eve of the Palghar Lok Sabha by-election.

The audio clip controversy erupted on a day when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi completes four years, and just two days before the high-stakes Palghar Lok Sabha by-election of May 28.

In the tape played by the Shiv Sena – which went viral on social media and television networks – Fadnavis is heard directing Bharatiya Janata Party activists to use “saam, daam, dand and bhed” and win Palghar at any cost.

“We have a huge challenge before us… Some people are challenging our very existence. They are behaving like friends but backstabbing us and we must hit back. If anybody is bullying us, we must attack them. They must know that I am a bigger bully. I am firmly standing behind you,” Fadnavis said in Marathi, in the purported tape aired by the Shiv Sena.

On May 8, Fadnavis had thrown the gauntlet at the Shiv Sena, the Congress, the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi and the CPI-M by saying: “Come what may, we shall win Palghar seat. This was a BJP seat. What the Shiv Sena has done is wrong. Winning it would be a fitting tribute to the late Chintaman Vanga.”

Ruling ally and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray raised the hackles of the partner BJP by playing the audio tape in his public rally on Friday evening.

Thackeray, along with state Congress President Ashok Chavan, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi President Hitendra Thakur and other political leaders demanded that the Election Commission should take note of the “threatening” content in the audio-clip and initiate suitable action against Fadnavis.

Pouncing on Fadnavis, Palghar Shiv Sena leaders said that the Election Commission should conduct a forensic probe into the audio-tape on Saturday and if the Chief Minister was guilty “he should resign by this evening”.

This was the second jolt for the BJP in two days as the curtains fall on Palghar by-election campaigning on Saturday.

A couple of days ago, Shiv Sena activists caught some alleged BJP workers with a large amount of cash which was reportedly intended for distribution among the voters.

The Palghar seat has become a matter of prestige for the two warring allies after the BJP accused the Shiv Sena of “hijacking” its prospective candidate, Shriniwas Vanga, son of the late BJP MP Chintaman Vanga this month.

Stunned by the Sena move, the BJP was compelled to nominate Rajendra Gavit, a Congress leader who walked into the party at the last minute before filing nominations.

The Congress fielded its veteran Damodar Shingada, besides the BVA’s Baliram Jadhav and CPI-M’s Kiran Gahala in the five-cornered main contest, with the BJP leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat.

IANS

India

Congress Slams Yogi Adityanath for Not Allowing Durga Puja ‘Pandals’ in Uttar Pradesh

Congress’ newly-appointed Bengal in-charge Jitin Prasada, raising the concerns of the Bengali community said, “Massive political rallies can be allowed in Madhya Pradesh but the same BJP government in UP will not allow the Bengali community to celebrate Durga Puja with restrictions.

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Jitin Prasada Congress UP

New Delhi: Ahead of Durga Puja which is slated for the last week of October, the Congress has raised the cause of Bengalis in Uttar Pradesh and lashed out at the UP government for not allowing Durga Puja ‘pandals’ in the state.

Congress’ newly-appointed Bengal in-charge Jitin Prasada, raising the concerns of the Bengali community said, “Massive political rallies can be allowed in Madhya Pradesh but the same BJP government in UP will not allow the Bengali community to celebrate Durga Puja with restrictions. Only shows that for the BJP faith is a matter of convenience while the only thing that matters to them is politics.”

The Congress leader who has just been appointed the state in-charge and has been meeting state leaders has raised the issue to corner the BJP in Bengal which has high political stakes. The BJP is rising in the state politically and Congress has a tough challenge to retain its position in the state.

The Congress has pitched this issue after the matter was raised by Swapan Dasgupta who is a nominated MP but close to BJP, and he has termed it discriminatory.

Dasgupta said in a tweet: “UP Govt’s order that Durga Puja should be done at home is unfair and even absurd. Like the allowances for Ram Lila, Durga Puja should be permitted with harsh but sensible restrictions. Otherwise it is discriminatory. Bengali Hindus in UP appeal to @myogiadityanath to review order.”

The UP government has issued guidelines regarding Durga Puja and has asked the worshippers to do worship at home but has directed authorities that Ram Lila should be only with 100 people due to Covid-19 protocols and to curb the spread of the virus.

The Congress is trying to regain its position in Bengal where Durga Puja is a major festival while the TMC in the state has been targeted by the BJP which accuses the Mamata Banerjee government of minority appeasement so this issue could lead to a new political battle for ‘Bengali Asmita’ in the state.

State government sources say that it has been left to district officials to ensure that there is no crowding during Durga Puja. The matter was also challenged in the Allahabad High Court which refused to entertain the petition filed by Bengali Welfare Association of Prayagraj.

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Election

Shiv Sena to decide soon on contesting Bihar polls

He reiterated that the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray — comprising the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress will complete its full five-year term, despite all effort by the state Opposition to topple the coalition.

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sanjay raut

Mumbai, Sep 29 : The Maharashtra-based Shiv Sena will soon take a decision on contesting the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections, party MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut said here on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of demands from our people there. We shall discuss it with party President and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and decide on whether to contest the Bihar Assembly polls or not,” Raut told mediapersons.

On the move by ex-top police official of Bihar, former DGP Gupteshwar Pandey’s decision to join politics, the Sena leader said he was free to do whatever he wants since that’s his personal choice.

“Our objection was to the manner in which he painted the Mumbai Police in a bad light in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. He tried to drive a wedge between the police and people of the two states for his advantage when he was the DGP,” Raut said.

To a question whether the Sushant case was a conspiracy to tarnish the image of state Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, Raut replied in the affirmative, but declined to elaborate.

However, he pointed out that the Shiv Sena has emerged unscathed from the entire episode, but those who attempted to throw muck at the party, screaming at the top of their lungs on television channels, will meet a similar fate.

“They were criticising the Mumbai Police probe in the Sushant case. Now, the probe is with the CBI for over a month. The people want to know what’s the outcome. If they (Sena critics) have the guts, then they should be asking questions to the CBI now, just as they demanded answers from Mumbai Police earlier,” Raut dared.

Referring to the fracas surrounding his meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, Raut put at rest all speculation and claimed that “it was purely to finalise the interview schedule” between Sena and Fadnavis.

He reiterated that the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance government of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray — comprising the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress will complete its full five-year term, despite all effort by the state Opposition to topple the coalition.

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Election

No by-elections yet for 7 vacant Assembly seats: Election Commission

The decision to defer the by-elections was taken largely in view of the Covid-19 situation.

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New Delhi, Sep 29 : The Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided not to announce by-elections to seven Assembly seats in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal owing to “difficulties in conduct of elections”.

Rangapara and Sibsagar seats are vacant in Assam; Kuttanad and Chavara in Kerala; Tiruvottiyur and Gudiyattam in Tamil Nadu; and Falakata in West Bengal.

The Commission has received inputs expressing difficulties in conduct of elections and issues related to it from Chief Secretaries or Chief Electoral officers from four states: Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, where the term of House is upto May 31,2021; June 1, 2021; May 24, 2021; and May 30, 2021 respectively.

In view of the inputs, the Commission has decided not to announce the conduct of elections at this stage in the seven vacant seats in the legislative assemblies of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Regarding other, recent vacancies in the Parliamentary Constituency and Legislative Assembly, the Commission will decide after taking necessary inputs from the state concerned.

The decision to defer the by-elections was taken largely in view of the Covid-19 situation.

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