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Rahul on three-day visit to north Gujarat, BJP’s bastion

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Rahul Gandhi Gujarat Visit
Rahul Gandhi Gujarat Visit, Photo Credit ANI

Gandhinagar, Nov 11: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi arrived in Gujarat on Saturday on a three-day visit, his fourth in a row to the poll-bound state. This time he is visiting the stronghold of the BJP, in north Gujarat.

Gandhi is expected to attack the ruling BJP, both in the state as well as the Centre, on various fronts like the Goods and Services Tax, demonetisation, unemployment, Patidars, farmer distress and price rise et al.

As the state gears up for the state assembly elections on December 9 and 14, political bigwigs have made Gujarat their second home and the Gandhi scion is no exception.

In the last two months, not just Gandhi, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national chief Amit Shah have been to the state several times.

Gandhi arrived at the Ahmedabad airport on Saturday morning. Then in a completely unplanned move, he headed to the Akshardham Temple here. After ’tilak’ and ‘darshan’ he set out for the Chiloda village, adjoining the state capital.

Gandhi during his recent visits, has made it a point to visit most of the pilgrim places and famous temples.

He will later visit Chala and Majra chokdi, both in Gandhinagar district.

From there he will head to Prantij and Himmatnagar before going to Idar, a tribal region. In Himmatnagar, Gandhi will be addressing a farmers gathering.

In the afternoon he will be visiting the Khedbrahmma region, as well as visit the famous Ambaji temple. In Idar, as well as in Vadali, he will have corner meetings, similar to the ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ type.

His night halt will be in Ambaji town. Before his Ambaji temple ‘darshan’, he will address a public meeting on the rights of tribals at Khedbrahmma.

Gandhi’s frequent visits have sprung quite a surprise in political circles, and have been unprecedented.

Political pundits opine that as far as Congress leaders, especially from the 10, Janpath in Delhi are concerned, visits to the state have always been for a single day.

Until now, they were mostly characterised by a single public meeting in some remote tribal region. But this is probably for the first time that three-day visits have been planned and executed in Gujarat and that too, in urban areas as well.

On Sunday, Gandhi will have an interaction with the social media and IT teams of the party followed by his visits Danta and Jalotra and a public meeting at Palanpur in Banaskantha district.

In Deesa, Gandhi will once again address small gatherings of youth and talk about Yuva Rojgar.

On Sunday he will be visiting and having ‘darshan’ of two temples, one at Thara and the other Totana. He will also address a public meeting at the Thara ground.

Late on Sunday evening he will arrive at former Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s bastion, Patan, and address a public meeting. He will make a night halt at Patan Circuit House.

On Monday, Gandhi will meet Dalit leaders in the morning after his ‘darshan’ to Patan’s Vir Megh Maya Temple.

After that he will be visiting four villages in the area and once again have a small gathering and discussion (Chopal-style) with the nomadic tribe communities.

On the last day of his three-day sojourn, Gandhi will have a ‘darshan’ in three temples. First in Varana, where he will also address a public meeting, then in Shankheshwar temple and later in Becharaji, where he will also address the ‘Rojgar Adhikar Sabha’.

Gandhi will arrive in the Mehsana constituency of Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, where he will address women at ‘Mahila Adhikar Sabha’.

He will end the visit on Monday with small corner meetings in Visnagar, the place from where the Patidar reservation stir initiated. He will then leave for Delhi.

IANS

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Ahead of DDC polls, BJP targets Abdullahs over ‘land grab’

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Farooq Abdullah

New Delhi: Ahead of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad trained his guns on the Abdullahs for their alleged role in the Roshni scam.

Prasad alleged that the key leaders of the erstwhile state, including Farooq Abdullah, used their “influence and power for land grabbing”.

“In 1998, Farooq Abdullah had purchased 3 kanals of land but he encroached upon 7 kanals of land which were double the size of the purchase,” Prasad alleged while speaking to the media. He further said that under the Roshni scam, the name of Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Mattu has also appeared, who, the minister alleged, is also a beneficiary of 3 kanals of land.

“There was a conscious land loot by the powerful people of J&K who were getting benefits under the Roshni Act which was declared unconstitutional by the J&K High Court. This is low level politics by the powerful people of J&K and we condemn it,” alleged Prasad.

Prasad said the J&K High Court has declared the Roshni Act as unconstitutional and has stated that the names of people who have acquired land under this Act should be listed and made public.

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CPI-M and Cong holding talks, to rally in Kolkata on Nov 23

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has accused AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi of trying to benefit the BJP. Owaisi has denied the charge and maintained that he was running a political party and contest elections wherever the party wishes.

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Congress

New Delhi: A joint rally of the Congress and CPI-M slated to be held on Monday in Kolkata on Monday is a step towards an alliance ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections as informal talks on the issue are on, Congress sources said on Sunday.

The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) and the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) will rally on November 23 to protest against the alleged ‘anti-people’ policies of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.

The BJP has already started preparation to take on the ruling Trinamool Congress. The Congress and the Left will face challenges from the TMC, BJP and AIMIM in the state polls.

Party insiders said that both parties will chalk out joint political programmes across various Bengal districts to emerge as a third political alternative in the Assembly polls.

“Both the parties met to prepare the road map for the coming Assembly polls,” the sources said.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury has said that defeating the TMC and the BJP is a priority for his party as he blames the TMC for BJP inroads in the eastern state. The West Bengal could see three-cornered contest with AIMIM giving an edge to the BJP, as was seen in Bihar Assembly polls.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has reportedly offered an alliance with TMC and awaiting a response. Howver, it’s unlikely that the TMC will join hands with AIMIM, considering it will give the BJP an advantage, the sources pointed out.

As many as 90 seats in the 294-member West Bengal Assembly have sizeable Muslim voters, who can be a deciding factor in any poll battle. Even if the AIMIM may not win many seats in Bengal, it can surely play a Bihar-like spoilsport for the TMC and the Congress.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has accused AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi of trying to benefit the BJP. Owaisi has denied the charge and maintained that he was running a political party and contest elections wherever the party wishes.

Muslims in West Bengal account for 27 per cent of the total voters, a majority of them going along with the TMC and the Congress in the past.

The BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections and any further division of Muslim votes in Assembly elections will only benefit it.

The districts of Murshidabad, Malda, and North Dinajpur have more than 50 per cent Muslim population while Birbhum, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Nadia have more than 25 per cent Muslims.

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Farooq writes to J-K poll panel: PAGD candidates not allowed to canvass, confined to ‘secure locations’

Meanwhile, the PAGD vice-president and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti also raised the issue and called for the intervention of J&K’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

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Farooq Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and president of newly formed People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) Farooq Abdullah has shot off a letter to J&K Election Commissioner K K Sharma, complaining that the Alliance’s candidates were being denied a level playing field in the upcoming polls for the District Development Councils (DDC) in the name of security.

The letter was sent amid the allegations by the People’s Alliance that the police is preventing its candidates from campaigning by lodging them into “secure” accommodations in the name of security.

“I am taking the liberty of writing to you about the upcoming DDC elections. A strange and a unique feature has come to the fore. Candidates put up by the PAGD are immediately whisked away to ‘secure locations’ in the name of security and confined to those ‘secure locations’,” Abdullah wrote in the letter. “They are not allowed to canvass, they are completely out of touch with those from whom they are supposed to seek votes.”

In his letter, Abdullah has accused the government of “interfering” in the democratic process.

“The current state of affairs in the realm of security is blatantly oriented towards providing security to a select few and confining others,” Abdullah said in an apparent reference to the BJP and PAGD candidates, respectively. “This comes across more as an attempt to interfere in the democratic process than any real concern for the wellbeing of the contestants. Security cannot and should not be used as a tool or an excuse to interfere in democratic processes.”

Abdullah, in his letter, also stated that it was the job of the government to provide security to the candidates contesting the DDC polls.

“Security is a challenge and it is for the government of the day to counter that challenge in a manner which is fair and transparent,” Abdullah said, adding that: “Providing security to a select few and literally interning the rest is a gross interference in democracy.”

Saying that the journey of democracy in J&K is soaked in blood, Abdullah has termed the government “interference” in the polls as “desecration of those sacrifices”.

“May I add that the evolution of democracy in J and K is distinctive compared to any other part of the country. The journey is a bloodied journey, soaked in the blood of thousands of political workers who have laid down their lives for the sake of democracy. It is a desecration of those sacrifices when the very conflict that consumed their lives is used as an alibi to customize democracy,” Abdullah has written.

“Democracy is still in a state of fragility in J and K. Governments come and go. No government has the right to alter the institutional foundations of democracy in J and K, nourished by the sacrifices of thousands of political workers,” he added.

Abdullah said that being in power in the past, they are aware of the security challenges in J&K. “Our parties have been in power in the past and have had the opportunity to head and run the government. We are aware of the challenges posed in the realm of security in a place beset by violence,” the letter read. “These challenges are not new but have been painfully persisting for the last three decades. But the government had structures in place which ensured security for all contestants irrespective of the ideology they espoused or the parties they represented.”

Meanwhile, the PAGD vice-president and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti also raised the issue and called for the intervention of J&K’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

“GOI sabotaging participation of non-BJP parties in DDC polls. PDPs Bashir Ahmed despite having adequate security has been detained at Pahalgam on the pretext of security. Today is the last day for filing nominations & have spoken to DC Anantnag for his release,” Mufti tweeted.

In the first phase of the DDC elections scheduled to be held on November 28, 167 candidates are in the fray from 10 districts in the Valley. In the second phase, 227 candidates have filed their nomination (subject to scrutiny) papers, and nominations for the third phase are still being received.

The decision of mainstream parties to contest DDC polls is likely to open up political space after almost 15 months since the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and downgrading of the state into two Union Territories last August.

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