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Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel slams BJP for intolerance, arrogance

Farmers, labourers and others – all are worried. The BJP will be defeated in 2019.

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New Delhi, Feb 7 : The Congress in Rajya Sabha today accused the BJP-led government of being “intolerant and full of arrogance” and painting a “rosy” picture even when the ground realities only told a story of tall promises and failures.

Participating in a resumed debate on the motion of thanks for the President’s address, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said even BJP allies like the Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam or the Shiromani Akali Dal also do not seem to agree with the “rosy projections” being painted.

The Rajya Sabha did away with the Question Hour to take up the debate on the motion of thanks.

Due to such a ground situation, the BJP is not keen on holding the Lok Sabha bypolls due in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that the BJP would fall below the majority mark if it loses these bye-elections.

Patel also claimed that a “feeling of insecurity” was prevailing across the country, whether it is in the social fabric, economic matters, national security, judiciary or independent constitutional institutions. There is no area which has escaped the feeling of insecurity, he said.

“Farmers, labourers and others – all are worried. The BJP will be defeated in 2019,” he said, claiming even the Union Budget, on which the government had pinned its hopes, has “turned out to be a flop”.

Referring to statements by BJP allies, Patel said the Shiv Sena had accused its saffron ally of lying, while the TDP has claimed it has reneged on its promises. Even Akali Dal has said that getting 272 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 will be a difficult task.

Taking a jibe at the BJP leadership, he said the situation was such that “something will have to be done”.

Rebutting BJP chief Amit Shah’s comments that the NDA government was filling the space left by the erstwhile UPA regime, Patel said in 2004, when the Vajpayee government left office, annual per capita income was Rs 24,000. In 2014, when the Manmohan Singh-led government ended its term, per capita income had risen to Rs 70,000, he said.

In contrast, the debt during the NDA rule has risen, he said, adding that it was “clear who is digging potholes”.

The leaders of the BJP only know how to try to defame the Congress and the Gandhi family, Patel, a close aide of former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, said.

Attacking the government on the issue of corruption, he asked why the Centre had reduced the budget for the RTI, not filled key vacancies and neither appointed a Lokpal.

Patel said it was said that the BJP had formed governments in states like Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Manipur after the Modi government came to power at the Centre. In Manipur and Goa, Congress was the single largest party but the BJP formed the goverment.

“With whose support and how?…Now is this ethical, is this morality,” he asked.

Patel said that except one case, in all Lok Sabha bypolls held after the present government assumed office, it was the Congress or its allies who emerged victorious.

The BJP tally has come down from 282 to 273, while the Congress’s tally has risen after 2014, he said.

Reciting an Urdu couplet, the Congress leader said it was easy to reach the top using propaganda, but the real challenge was to remain at the top.

Patel claimed that those who talk of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state polls, could not even hold the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat polls together as the prime minister had to launch a Ro-Ro ferry service, which has now closed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Gujarat several times, flew on a sea plane, made references to Pakistan, but despite that, the BJP shrunk to double digits winning only 99 seats. The Congress, on the other hand, has emerged with more seats than the BJP in the rural areas.

“In Gujarat, we won despite losing, while you lost even after winning…The people know who has won,” Patel said.

Referring to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he took a dig at the BJP saying that while the saffron party may use his name for poll gains, they had a “special affection” for the surname which he and Hardik Patel also shared.

Patel also claimed that water was wrongly diverted from Gujarat water bodies earlier, ignoring the requirements of the farmers of the state who are suffering now.

The veteran Congress leader said one of the “supposedly better performing ministers” Nitin Gadkari had announced about multi-nation road projects but nothing moved on the ground.

He said it was claimed that the present government was building over 20 km of roads every day, much more than the previous regime. However, if the data related to roads widened or repaired are separeted, the figure would come down to 6 or 7 km, he said.

“Tall claims are made for marketing, but nothing is done for implementation,” Patel said.

He recited a poem by Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar to suggest that it was futile even for authoritarian regimes to impose their will on everyone and asserted that the leaders of Congress are not scared of IT, ED or CBI raids.

DMK member RS Bharati said that Tamil Nadu was neglected in the budget. He also raised issue of water for farmers. He also raised another issue related to a resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on the NEET exam.

Election

Chhattisgarh polls: Congress releases list of 12 candidates

The first phase of polling is spread across Maoist-affected districts of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon.

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New Delhi, Oct 18 : The Congress on Thursday released its first list of 12 candidates for the Chhattisgarh assembly elections.

Eleven of the 12 candidates announced are in seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes. The party has fielded seven sitting legislators and five fresh faces for the 12 of the 18 seats that go to the polls for the first phase on November 12.

The first phase of polling is spread across Maoist-affected districts of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon.

The party has fielded Lakheshwar Baghel from Bastar, Rekhchand Jain from Jagdalpur, Devati Karma from Dantewada. Shishu Pal Sori from Kanker, Vikram Shah Mandavi from Bijapur, Mohan Lal Markam from Kondagaon, Anoop Nag from Antagarh, Manoj Singh Mandavi from Bhanupratappur, Santram Netam from Keshkal, Chandan Kashyap from Narayanpur, Deepak Kumar Baij from Chitrakot and Kawasi Lakhma from Konta.

The party has also released a list of 40 star campaigners for the first phase that includes Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin.

Elections for the 90-member assembly will be held in two phases — November 12 and November 20. The results will be declared on December 11.

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Politics

Who’s stopping you from building temple, Owaisi tells Bhagwat

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Hyderabad, Oct 18 : “Bring it. Who is stopping you and your government?” This is how MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday reacted to RSS Mohan Bahgwat’s demand for a law to build a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya.

The Hyderabad MP said that Bhagwat’s statement was a clear example of a nation converted into totalitarianism.

“The RSS and BJP believe in totalitarianism. They do not believe in pluralism or in rule of law,” Owaisi told reporters here.

Addressing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers during the annual “Vijayadashmi Utsav” in Nagpur, Bhagwat said the government should bring a legislation to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief said the RSS chief was ignorant of law as the Supreme Court in Ismail Farooqi judgment made it clear that the government cannot make a law for a particular religion as this was against basic structure of the Constitution and violates Article 14.

“This government and RSS are symbols of totalitarianism. They are ignorant of law. They want to do whatever they like,” said the MP.

On Bhagwat’s assertion that some fundamentalist elements were trying to obstruct the temple construction, Owaisi said fascists and people who believe in totalitarianism ideology believe they are paragon of virtue and rest are anti-nationals.

“This is not new. We have been seeing this since the times when Nazis were ruling Germany and Mussolini was in power in Italy. Wherever there are totalitarian regimes, they call themselves paragon of virtue and consider others anti-national,” he said.

On reports that the RSS planned to campaign for the BJP in 2019 elections, Owaisi said the RSS had always been helping the BJP and that the whole country knows that RSS was the main face of the BJP.

“The Prime Minister of our country himself is Sweyamsevak. RSS keeps forgetting they can’t dabble in politics because one of the conditions for withdrawal of the ban on them was that they will not participate in politics but they have been doing it,” he added.

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India

MeToo being blown out of proportion: Shatrughan Sinha

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Shatrughan Sinha (File Photo)

Mumbai, Oct 18: Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha says while the MeToo movement is noble, it is becoming “free-for-all” and being blown out of proportion.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Your dear friend Subhash Ghai stands accused of multiple sexual offences. Your comments?

A. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? I am all for the MeToo movement, never in my 40-year career have I misbehaved with any woman. I treat every lady with utmost respect. Having said that, I think this MeToo campaign is being blown out of all proportion.

Q. In what way?

A. While the cause was definitely noble and praiseworthy, it has now become a free-for-all. Anyone can name and shame anyone. Reputations and jobs are being lost through a trial by media. To all the women who are aggrieved I say, please go to court and make sure the wrongdoers are punished.

Q. You’ve done some terrific films with Subhash Ghai. Would you work with him in future?

A. Why not? If he is proven innocent, why not? Even if he is proven guilty, and he serves the punishment given to him, I’d work with him. Sanjay Dutt served his jail sentence and is back working in our large-hearted film industry. In fact, we had no problem working with him even when he was an accused in a serious case.

Q. Many of the top stars and directors have vowed not to work with sexual offenders?

A. This hypocrisy I can’t understand. They have no problem working with Sanjay Dutt who has been convicted. But they want to blacklist people whose guilt is yet to be proven. Just to look like heroes of the MeToo movement.

Q. A-list actors have dissociated themselves from tainted directors?

A. I don’t want to name anyone. But I will say this. Sau choohe khaa kar billi haj ko chali’. Those seeking to perch themselves on a high moral ground, should look into their conscience. The problem of sexual exploitation, doesn’t end with some names being put out in the social media. This is just the beginning. The problem runs much deeper.

Q. Your tainted party colleague M.J. Akbar refuses to step down. What is your take on his brazen attitude?

A. I don’t even know which political party I belong to anymore! Having said that, M.J. Akbar is a friend. And a wise one. I know him from the time he revolutionised journalism in this country. He knows what he is doing, and why. I believe he has employed 97 lawyers to defend him against charges (of sexual harassment). He should have employed three more lawyers… It would have been a century… Seriously, how can he afford such a massive legal fleet? I can’t afford it if I ever need it.

IANS

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