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We have learnt lessons, time to put house in order: Ahmed Patel

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Ahmedabad, Aug 14 : Congress veteran Ahmed Patel has admitted he learnt “bitter lessons” in his Rajya Sabha election when a battery of legislators openly tried to sabotage his winning prospects but asserted it ended up helping the party separate the wheat from the chaff.

In a candid interview to IANS where he spoke about issues afflicting the party, Patel, political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, said: “We will need to be careful in future, keep a close watch and look into individual grievances of party leaders and MLAs.”

Asked if this meant rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela was correct in his claims that the problems and aspirations of MLAs were ignored, he said: “Well, not exactly. But we will look into the details and the genuineness of the grievances for sure. But that is no justification for stabbing the party in the back like this.”

“It was the toughest electoral battle of my career. I have fought five Lok Sabha elections and four Rajya Sabha, but this was the toughest,” the 67-year-old Patel admitted.

“We learnt bitter lessons but we have emerged stronger. This entire episode (of sabotage) has automatically led to purging of people whom we could not trust. We know who is ours and who is not, and who was never,” said the Congress leader, who won his fifth term after two votes against him by rebel MLAs got invalidated.

Good riddance of bad rubbish? “No, no, no, don’t use such words; not bad rubbish, but those who were not the party’s well-wishers have left,” said Patel, who belongs to south Gujarat’s Bharuch district.

Six Congress MLAs resigned in the run-up to the Rajya Sabha election on August 8, and eight others, including rebel leader Vaghela, openly cross-voted against the party’s official nominee Patel in an election which turned into a battleground with four candidates in the fray for three seats.

Two of them, BJP President Amit Shah and Patel, were the most powerful leaders in their respective parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party was bent upon seeing Patel out — also to snub Sonia Gandhi.

Within 24 hours of Patel’s victory, reportedly with the support of the lone Janata Dal-United legislator Chhotubhai Vasava, the eight Congress rebels were sacked, and the party also issued sack letters to the six who had resigned because they had done so after a whip to vote for Patel.

Patel added: “The first and the most important outcome of this election is that there is new spirit and sense of determination, which had dissipated and given way to inertia.”

“The mood has changed now. Sometimes it is the will to win alone that overrides and takes care of several issues.”

What was in this victory that has sent a current of energy through the party, something that did not happen even after the Congress lost all 26 Lok Sabha seats in 2014?

“When you pull life out of the jaws of death, you don’t want it to happen again. All our people, the entire party was made to feel completely helpless by the enemies very much within us. This was not the case in 2014, though it was a humiliating defeat,” pointed out Patel, whom Vaghela had promised to vote for, only to take a U-turn at the eleventh hour.

Asked if he was now going to take active charge of the Gujarat Congress and lead from the front, given that he has set the party rank and file a target of 125 seats (in a House of 182), he said an emphatic “No.”

“I will be a facilitator, I will keep a much closer watch and do my best possible to meet this target. I am not for Chief Ministership, if you are suggesting even something remotely like that.”

So who is going to channelise this new energy in the party since every leader in the Congress seems to be a Chief Ministerial candidate, the key party strategist laughs, but admits: “This is a big challenge for us, the tendency to count the eggs even before they are hatched.”

So, what do you do with this? “We will sort it out. See, sometimes small distractions and minor tussles blur the big picture, the bottomline. This episode has come as a blessing in disguise. There is a realisation that a victory is now a necessity for survival.”

“Once the bottomline becomes your goal, other things start falling in place.”

Gujarat is expected to go to the polls in December this year.

With Vaghela gone, does the Congress have a Chief Ministerial candidate with state-level stature?

“I won’t like to go into Vaghela’s claims, but I would say your ability to fetch victory on a tough ground has to be demonstrated through adequate evidence,” Patel said, tacitly referring to Vaghela’s erstwhile Rashtriya Janata Party’s ability to win only four seats.

“We have not thought of a Chief Ministerial candidate, we will do so when the need arises. Right now, the immediate priority is put our house in order,” he said.

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Women, Sabarimala temple and right to equality

The Sabarimala issue is not just about entry right to the women but now has become Religion Vs Fundamental Rights. In India, there are numbers of such issues which are still keeping the females deprived of rights.

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BJP rally Sabarimala

Ages back the women folks were exploited and the same is happening in modern times. Hinduism abolished Sati — a female was forced to be burnt alive in the pyre of her husband. Raja Ram Mohan Roy started a campaign against it and it came to an end. But has this changed brought much change in the lives of the women folk in the present times!

Sabarimala temple is Ayyappa temple situated in the Sabarimal region in Kerala. Here the females of age 10 to 50 are not allowed to enter due to the menstruation problem. There has been a lot of hues and cry over this issue.

Legal battle:

In 1991, this boycott to temple section for ladies was tested under the steady gaze of the Kerala High Court in S. Mahendran Vs The Secretary, Travancore case. Kerala High court decided for the preclusion of ladies entering the temple and asserted that these confinements have existed since time immemorial and not unfair to the Constitution. This request of the High Court was executed and pursued for the following 15 years. In 2006, the boycott was tested by the Public Interest Litigation recorded by the Young Lawyers Association with the Supreme Court, asserting that rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu places of Public worship (Authorisation of entry) Rules 1965 that states, “women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship” is infringement of established standards of equality, non-discrimination and religious opportunity. On April 25, 2016, the representative lawyer of the Devaswom, K.K Venugopal stated: “There is a sensible grouping by which certain classes of women are excluded”. Supreme Court was concerned regarding the statement if menstruation was associated with purity of women. The case was then assigned to the Constitution Bench by the Supreme Court.

In 2018, Justice Dipak Misra, The Chief Justice of India, while addressing to the PIL, put a query to the temple’s management over denying passage to women. The case was heard by a constitution bench headed by Justice Misra alongside Justices Rohinton Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra. The court held that Sabarimala pilgrims couldn’t be a different group or religious division. The traditions are subjected to sacred legitimacy and preclusion of ladies passage to temple infringing upon the Fundamental Rights. Justice Chandrachud claimed, “Your entitlement to implore as a lady isn’t subject to any law, it is a constitutional right”. He additionally included that notice issued under the standards recommending the age restrictions on ladies entry as “discretionary on its essence”.

In the year 2012, a similar campaign like that of Sabarimala temple was launched by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) & Bhumata Brigade to offer prayers at the Haji Ali Dargah. It is the resting place of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari on the islet of Mumbai coast. This shrine is 585 years old. The Haji Ali Dargah is administered by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust a public charitable trust enrolled under the Maharashtra Public Trust Act. The trustees of the Dargah had chosen to deny ladies access to the grave area in 2011, calling the un-Islamic. It had expressed that it was redressing it’s earlier misstep of enabling ladies to touch the actual grave. The argument by the petitioner was that the Muslims deprive their women to equal rights, they keep them suppressed and the women folks don’t have a right to raise their voice in Islam.

On 26 August 2016, Bombay High Court decided that women to be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum. Even the Supreme Court sealed the verdict of Bombay High Court and the women were allowed to enter the shrine sacred area on 29 November 2016. This was welcomed by all the people across India. It was stated that now the Muslim women have got their rights which were deprived of them since the advent of Islam.

Similarly, the Supreme Court has ordered that the women should be allowed in the Sabarimala temple and the old practice should be done away with.

In the case of Sabarimala temple, various Hindu groups are not accepting the decision of the Supreme Court and want a revision of the judgment. The present day’s ruling party Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is backing the agitation against the judgment.

Are the women not suppressed now by going against their right to enter the temple? It is not an insult to the highest court of law in India? The law of the land is above the ruling class or any religion but the BJP and other Hindu organizations are adamant for rather they are trying to show strength through mass gathering against the judgment.

Is this the respect to the law of the land?

Declaimer: The views are the sole discretion of the author...
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BJP Minister caught urinating in public near campaign poster, Calls it ‘Old-age Tradition’

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Ajmer, Oct 8: A picture of Bhartiya Janata Party minister urinating near a wall, next to a campaign poster featuring chief minister Vasundhara Raje is making rounds on social media.

The minister, Shambhu Singh Khatesar, justified himself by saying that urinating publicly was “an age-old tradition” and he had done nothing wrong.

Speaking to media Khatesar said, “There was a wall and some posters stuck at some distance on it. I hadn’t paid attention. It isn’t right to urinate in open but it’s a natural call. Urinating in a crowded area, is wrong”.

On the Narendra Modi government cleanness drive the minister stated “As far as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is concerned, urination alone doesn’t contribute to uncleanliness. That place did not have urinals for kilometers at a stretch”.

WeForNews 

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IMD issues cyclone alert for Odisha

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Bhubneshwar, Oct 8:  The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday said a depression over the Bay of Bengal is likely to concentrate into a cyclonic storm during the next 48 hours.

Under its impact, several parts of Odisha will receive heavy rainfall starting from October 9.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into deep sea areas of the Bay of Bengal from October 9 to 12 as the sea condition would be rough.

While rainfall at many places with heavy downpour at isolated places over south coastal Odisha is likely to occur on Tuesday, heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places over coastal Odisha is likely to occur on Wednesday.

It further predicted rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy downpours at a few places and extremely heavy downpour at isolated places over coastal and adjoining interior Odisha on Thursday.

The IMD said squally winds with speeds reaching 45-55 kmph to 65 kmph are very likely along and off north Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal coasts from October 9.

It is very likely to increase gradually, reaching 70-80 kmph to 90 kmph from October 10 evening onwards along and off south Odisha and adjoining districts of north Andhra Pradesh coasts, said H.R. Biswas, Bhubaneswar Met centre Director.

IANS

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