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War of caps: State which flaunts political loyalty on its head

If your cap is maroon in front, then you must be a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter. And if it’s green, then you are with the Congress.



Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal

By Vishal Gulati 

Shimla, Oct 29: The electorate in Himachal Pradesh wear their loyalties not on their sleeves but on their heads. In other states, voters may prefer to maintain silence about their affiliation to a political party during the polls. But in this hill state, they pronounce their loyalty and support through their headgear.

If your cap is maroon in front, then you must be a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter. And if it’s green, then you are with the Congress.

The round Bushehri cap — named after an erstwhile princely state in the state — has a green front flap.

The concepts of “green” and “maroon” stem from upper and lower areas of the state. The green symbolises descendants of upper Himachal, while the maroon one represents lower Himachal.

It started with six-time Congress Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who loves to don a green flap headgear almost throughout the year. His supporters too prefer to wear this colour of cap to express their political solidarity with him.

Likewise, BJP leader and two-time Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has made the maroon flap his trademark.

“Donning caps has been a round-the-year tradition in the interiors of Himachal Pradesh where the winter spell is too long,” Roshan Lal Manta, 75, a former state government employee, told IANS.

But now people, including government employees, are wearing it to extend their affiliation to a particular political party.

He said since ‘Raja Saab’, as Virbhadra Singh is popularly known due to his roots in the erstwhile princely state of Bushahr, started wearing the green flap cap, the BJP’s Dhumal promoted the maroon one.

Manta, a former employee leader, said if the Congress is at the helm most of the employees start donning the green cap and if there is the BJP the maroon will be their first choice.

The BJP is garnering support on the social media through photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wearing the traditional Himachali ‘topi’.

The photo of Modi wearing the maroon cap during the remembrance ceremony for the Holocaust victims in Israel in July is taking a political hue in this election.

“Prime Minister Modi made the Himachali cap the crown in Israel. Thank you, tweeted Anurag Thakur, the BJP Member of Parliament from Hamirpur and former BCCI president — and Dhumal’s son.

Of course, there is a war over the colour of caps.

In the run-up to the polls, a cap reflecting the other’s political ideology infuriated Virbhadra Singh at an official function, but Prime Minister Modi maintained calm at another public function.

At a function in the state capital last month where Union Minister J.P. Nadda was also present, state Health Minister Kaul Singh welcomed Virbhadra Singh by donning a Himachali maroon flap cap and presenting a shawl, a common practice at all official functions.

Seeing the BJP’s trademark colour, the infuriated Chief Minister removed it immediately and wore his own green flap cap that he was holding.

Contrary to this, Modi didn’t lose his patience when he was offered a Congress ‘ideology’ cap by Virbhadra Singh at the foundation laying ceremony of a Rs 1,350 crore 750-bed hospital in Bilaspur town.

From the colour of passion maroon to the shade of envy green, Modi immediately changed the colour of his cap while addressing a public meeting just after the official function.

But it had more to do with political ideology than changing moods, remarked a political observer.

Elections to the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly will be held on November 9.

The votes would be counted on December 18, the day that will decide which “riot of colour” — green or maroon — will flutter again in the secretariat.



CEC virtually rules out LS polls with 11 Assemblies, BJP says no such move



Congress delegation CEC

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The BJP’s push for “One Nation, One Poll” fuelled a major debate on Tuesday with the Election Commission appearing to rule out simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and 11 assemblies in the near future and the BJP dismissing such a possibility while the Congress said the BJP was planning to delay the elections fearing defeat.

A day after BJP President Amit Shah pushed for simultaneous polls with the Law Commission, Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said: “On the issue of ‘one nation, one poll’, the Commission had given inputs and suggestions in 2015 itself. Logistics arrangements with reference to 100 per cent availability of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPATs) will be a constraint.”

He also said if the term of some state assembly needed to be curtailed or extended, then a constitutional amendment would be required. Other requirements of additional police force and polling personnel was also needed.

However, he said, the Commission would continue to deliver its responsibility of conducting polls whenever the term of a state assembly ends.

On Tuesday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra ruled out any plans of the BJP to hold simultaneous polls and denied that Shah had mooted any proposal to hold elections in 11 states along with Lok Sabha elections of 2019.

“From this table, the BJP rejects any such misconception. Any such misplaced conceptions should not find a place anywhere,” he told the media after news reports claimed that the party was planning to hold simultaneous balloting to the Lok Sabha and 11 assemblies by delaying polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where they are due this year end.

“Nowhere has our national President said in this letter that elections to 11 state assemblies be held along with the next Lok Sabha elections. Please read it carefully,” Patra said.

“The letter speaks about ‘one nation, one poll’ as an idea which should be discussed and debated. Many institutions like the Election Commission and Niti Aayog have expressed positive opinions on this matter and said that consensus should be built on the issue.”

However, the Congress smelled a rat in the BJP’s pitch for simultaneous polls and warned that it would move the court if the government tried to defer elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

“Simultaneous elections are not possible without an amendment in the Constitution. There is only one way to have the elections together and that is Modiji should dissolve the Lok Sabha to advance general elections. We will welcome it,” Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said.

Congress Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha said his party suspected that the government was trying to defer elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where the surveys were projecting that the ruling BJP was losing.

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In poll-bound MP, Modi accuses Congress of spreading lies, ignoring cities



narendra modi
File Picture

Rajgarh/Indore, June 23 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a strong attack on Congress in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, accusing it of spreading lies about his government, not being concerned about states BIMARU tag and of ignoring urban infrastructure in cities.

Modi, who inaugurated Rs 4,000 crore Mohanpura irrigation Project at Rajgarh and unveiled urban development projects worth over Rs 4,000 crore at Indore, said the country was on its way to achieving the target of total cleanliness by Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary next year.

Seeking to set the tone for the BJP’s campaign for the assembly polls later this year, he compared the performance of his government as also of the state’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan government to that of Congress.

Addressing a rally at Rajgarh, Modi took several digs at the Congress.

“Those who are engaged in spreading misinformation, lies and pessimism, how far removed they are from the reality… you are a picture of it,” he told the gathering.

Accusing the Congress of not caring for Madhya Pradesh’s future and not feeling insulted over the state’s earlier “BIMARU” tag, he said BJP has made the state a major participant in the country’s development process.

“The Congress, which ruled Madhya Pradesh for long time, did not see or feel the insult (over Madhya Pradesh being counted among the sick states). They treated the common people as their subjects and got them to sing their praises. They did not care for Madhya Pradesh’s future.”

The acronym BIMARU was coined in the 1980s for the economic condition of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Remembering Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee on his death anniversary, he said Mookerjee’s vision was reflected in policies of BJP governments, while accusing the Congress of glorifying one family while ignoring contribution of other nation-builders.

The Prime Minister said that his government is making sure that every village has a gas connection, every household has electricity connection, everybody has bank accounts, everybody gets a shield of security insurance and every pregnant woman and child is immunised.

Noting this work could have been done by the Congress or previous governments also, he said: “It was unfortunate on the part of this country that Congress which has ruled this country for so many years never had trust in you and your hard work.”

Referring to completion of Mohanpura project in about four years, he said it was not only an example of rapid growth but also the way in which BJP governments work.

Taking a dig at Congress President Rahul Gandhi over his criticism of government over job creation, Modi said: “Some people’s attitude towards labour may not be positive, they make fun of employment, but the efforts of this government are in front of everyone today. More than 85 lakh people of Madhya Pradesh have taken benefit of Mudra Yojna.”

He said “state has written a new saga of development” under Chouhan. “Agriculture growth rate had been 18 per cent for the last five years. In 2007 area under irrigation schemes in the state was 7.5 lakh hectares. It has gone up to 40 lakh hectares,” he said.

At Indore, he accused the Congress of ignoring urban infrastructure during its rule at the Centre.

“Shortage of water, disorder in power supply, leaking sewage system, traffic jams on roads, widespread dirt and filth, this is the identity that Congress has given to our cities after its long rule but our government has taken upon itself to bring urban infrastructure to the levels of 21st century,” Modi said.

Describing Indore as the country’s “cleanest city”, he said cities were “energy centres” and the BJP-led government has spent Rs 2.30 lakh crores on urban renewal in the last four years compared to Rs 95,000 crore spent by Congress-led UPA in 10 years.

Expressing optimism about his government achieving its cleanliness target, he said: “This dream will be fulfilled and we will collectively do it. We have constructed more than eight crore toilets in the last four years”.

Modi inaugurated urban projects including houses under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana, urban drinking water supply schemes, urban solid waste management, urban sanitation, urban transportation and urban landscape projects at Indore, which has retained its position as India cleanest city for second consecutive year.

He also distributed the Swachh Survekshan Awards 2018.

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Jayanagar By Poll Results: Congress’ Sowmya Reddy wins




Bengaluru, June 13: The Congress on Wednesday won the election in Bengaluru’s Jayanagar constituency. 

Congress candidate Sowmya Reddy defeated BJP’s BN Prahlad by nearly 3000 votes.

With this victory, the Congress now has 79 seats in the Karnataka assembly.

The election was countermanded after the death of BJP candidate B.N. Vijayakumar.

BJP has fielded his brother B.N. Prahalad. Former state home minister Ramalinga Reddy’s daughter Sowmya Reddy is the Congress candidate.

On the related note, although Karnataka went to polls on May 12, elections in Jayanagar constituency was postponed to June 11.

Counting of votes for the 222 of the 224 assembly seats in Karnataka held on May 15.

In the state assembly election, though the Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, the Congress party with 78 seats and JD(S) with 37 seats, along with two independent candidates, stitched up a post-poll alliance with a total strength of 117 MLAs.

Even though the Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala invited the saffron party  to form the government with a time period of 15 days to prove their majority on the floor of the house, the Supreme Court in an interim order directed the floor test to be held in just two days, even after Yeddyurappa had sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state.

Failed to garner the required number of votes to form Government in the state, Yeddyurappa resigned as the Chief Minister ahead top court-ordered floor test on May 19.

Following this, ending the 10-day political turmoil in the southern state, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy won the floor test after 117 MLAs voted in his favour May 26.


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