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West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday claimed that the trade unions-called general strike would have no impact in the state. As many as 10 central trade unions have called a 48-hour nationwide strike beginning Tuesday.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday claimed that the trade unions-called general strike would have no impact in the state. As many as 10 central trade unions have called a 48-hour nationwide strike beginning Tuesday protesting against the “anti-people” policies of the Centre.

“I do not want to spend a single word on this. In West Bengal, we have taken a stand of not supporting any bandh. Enough is enough. In the last 34 years, they (Left Front) have destroyed the state by calling bandh. There will be no bandh,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

The state government has announced that its employees would be barred from availing casual leave or any half-day leave on Tuesday and Wednesday. No leave will also be allowed on the day preceding the two-day strike or following it, a government notification said last week.

The state government on Monday announced that 500 additional buses would ply on city roads police have taken all measures to foil any untoward incident during tomorrow’s strike.

Private bus owners and taxi associations and app-based cabs have decided to take out vehicles on the roads like normal days. According to a senior official at the state police department, extra police personnel would be deployed in and around the city.

“Anybody trying to disrupt normal life in the city will face strict action. Nobody will be allowed to put up barricades and stop people from trying to open shops or visiting offices. Market places, shops, malls, and every business entities will be operating normally,” the police official said. Source : ht

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Lucknow/Patna, Mar 14 (PTI) In a stunning blow to the BJP ahead of the 2019 general elections, the party today lost bypolls to all three Lok Sabha seats it contested, including its bastion Gorakhpur, and Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh, besides Araria in Bihar.

The shocker for the BJP came days after its surprise win in three northeastern states, including Tripura, where it scripted history, demolishing the Left citadel of 25 years and forming its first government in the state. Together with its regional allies, the BJP also formed its governments in Nagaland and Meghalaya.

A consolidation of OBC, Dalit and Muslim votes powered Samajwadi Party candidates to victory in Gorakhpur, a seat represented by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for five successive terms, and Phulpur, which elected his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. BJP had won Phulpur for the first time.

Both of them had won their seats by margins of over 3 lakh votes.

Samajwadi Party's Pravin Nishad defeated BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla by 21,961 votes in Gorakhpur, the seat which was with the party since 1989, while Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel of SP clinched the Phulpur seat drubbing the saffron party's Kaushalendra Singh Patel by 59,460 votes.

Lalu Prasad's RJD retained the Araria Lok Sabha seat where its nominee Sarfaraz Alam beat BJP's Pradeep Kumar Singh by over 60,000 votes, in a set back for the JD(U)-BJP alliance, which went to the hustings for the first time after Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA fold.

In small consolation for the BJP, its candidate Rinki Rani Pandey retained the Bhabhua Assembly seat for the party, defeating her Congress rival Shambhu Singh Patel by about 14,000 votes.

The RJD retained the Jehanabad Assembly seat, with its nominee Suday Yadav defeating his JD(U) rival Abhiram Sharma by more than 30,000 votes.

Buffeted by the surprise defeat, Adityanath attributed it to "overconfidence" of the party and called for an in-depth analysis of the causes.

"We failed to understand the implications of this alliance between Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party that are as different as chalk and cheese in the middle of the elections as part of bargain for the Rajya Sabha elections," he said. The SP is backing BSP candidate for the coming Rajya Sabha polls in the state.

The SP's victory reminded many of the triumph of the now defunct JD(U)-RJD-Congress Grand Alliance in Bihar which had trounced the BJP-led NDA in 2015. The victory was attributed to the consolidation of OBC and Muslim voters in favour of the Grand alliance after the two major parties--JD(U) and RJD came together.

In Uttar Pradesh, besides the BJP, the SP and BSP are major protagonists in the political arena. The SP and BSP had formed a coalition government in the state in 1993 when the BJP, despite emerging as the single largest party following the demolition of the Babri mosque, failed to get a majority.

In Gorakhpur, a consolidation of OBC-Dalit-Muslim votes, which used to get split between the SP and BSP, besides the support of smaller entities like the Nishad Party and Peace Party, worked wonders for the Samajwadi Party candidates.

The Nishad Party holds considerable influence over the fisherfolk community in the belt, while the Peace Party is a force to reckon with among Muslims in the area.

Keshav Prasad Maurya said the SP's victory was the result of BSP's ability to transfer its votes to the former.

The bypoll victories may now nudge the secular parties to forge a broad alliance of anti-BJP forces at the national level before the general elections. Leaders of 20 opposition parties, including the SP and BSP, had congregated at UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's residence yesterday to explore such a possibility.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi described the results as a reflection of public anger against the BJP.

"Congratulations to the winners of today's by-elections. It is clear from the results that voters have a lot of anger towards the BJP and will vote for any non-BJP candidate who has more chances of winning. The Congress is keen on rebuilding the party in Uttar Pradesh, but that will not happen overnight," he tweeted in Hindi.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav termed the victory as one of "social justice" and profusely thanked the BJP for it.

The BJP had scored a thumping victory in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and together with ally Apna Dal, won 73 of the states 80 seats. The NDA allies had polled 43.3 per cent votes.

The SP had pocketed 22.2 per cent votes and won five seats, while the BSP failed to open its account despite polling 19.6 per cent votes. The combined percentage of votes polled by the two parties was marginally less than the NDA's at 41.8 per cent.

The NDA improved upon its performance in the 2017 Assembly polls, winning 325 seats in the 403-member Assembly, polling 48.7 per cent votes. The SP won 47 seats with 21.8 per cent votes. The BSP won 19 seats with 22.2 per cent votes.

The two parties together polled 40.8 per cent votes.

As the BJP reviews the causes for the shock defeat and goes back to the drawing board to finetune its strategy for the 2019 elections, today's victory gave its rivals, beset by a string of defeats, a reason to smile, and forge closer ties to take on the NDA. Source : pti




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In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mallikarjun Kharge, who was asked to be a “special invitee,” said the invitation negated the letter and spirit of the lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has declined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to be a “special invitee” at a meeting called to pick the lokpal, saying the move was aimed at keeping the Opposition out of the selection process.

Apart from the Prime Minister, Thursday’s high-powered meeting will be attended by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

“My mere presence as a special invitee without rights of participation, recording of opinion and voting would be a mere eyewash,” Kharge said in a letter to Modi that was initially dated March 28, 2018 and later corrected to February 28.

Asking him to be a special invitee was against the lokpal and lokayuktas act, 2013, as the objective of the law reflected that the leader of the opposition couldn’t be substituted as a special invitee, the 75-year-old leader said.

“It is a matter of surprise that your government is choosing to adopt this route as a mere paper formality rather than seek any meaningful and constructive participation,” he wrote.

After a delay of almost 50 years, Parliament in 2013 approved a law to create the watchdog to look into charges of corruption against senior public functionaries but the lokpal selection has been stuck over who should be on the appointment panel.

The law requires a leader of the opposition to be member of the selection committee.

Last month, the government told the Supreme Court that the leader of the single largest opposition party would be invited to the March 1 lokpal selection meeting.

The assurance came after the court had in April 2017 asked the government to immediately appoint a lokpal, rejecting its argument certain amendments, including substituting the leader of the opposition with the leader of the single largest opposition party, to the lokpal act were pending with Parliament.

The largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha has to have at least 10% of the House’s strength – 54 out of the 543 seats – to be eligible for the post of leader of the opposition.

Kharge could not get the status as the Congress could get only 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. At present, the party has 48 members with four byelections going in its favour.

The Congress leader recalled that the government had made changes to various laws to substitute the leader of opposition clause with the leader of the single largest party in the selection committee.

“Let me also remind you (PM) that on December 18, 2014, a bill to amend the lokpal act, 2013 on similar lines was brought for substituting ‘leader of opposition’ with the ‘leader of the single largest party’. I understand that even the select committee of Parliament had put its seal of approval on the amending bill, yet the government has failed to introduce and pass it,” he said.

The Congress has alleged that the lokpal bill continues to “languish in the cold storage for want of appropriate intent, commitment and objectivity” on the part of the government.

The UPA government passed the lokpal act in 2013 and brought it into force on January 16, 2014 but the BJP government had chosen to not appoint a lokpal for nearly four years, he said.

“To anyone familiar with the BJP government’s record in not establishing and preserving the office of the lokayukta in Gujarat, this would not come as a surprise,” Kharge said.

He was referring to the long tussle that the state government, then led by Modi, had with the governor over the appointment of anti-corruption watchdog.

Saying the Prime Minister of the country should act like a statesman, Kharge urged Modi to bring in an ordinance to make the change and show his government’s seriousness in appointing the lokpal.

Declining the invitation, Kharge said the current proceedings had reduced a sacred procedure to a “political pretence”. Source : ht

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Budget negative, super flop show, anti-people: Mamata

Written by Thursday, 25 January 2018 10:56

Kolkata, Feb 1 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dismissed the union budget presented today as "negative and a super flop show" and said the "anti-people" BJP government is not fit for governance.
"I am disheartened with the union budget. This is a hopeless, negative and super flop budget. It is a big bluff budget. I think this anti-people BJP government is not fit for governance," she told reporters here.

She said the country's middle class is completely disheartened with the budget as it has nothing to offer for them.
"We heard that they (the central government) would take some measures to appease the people. But it has nothing to offer except disinvestment," she said about the union budget, which is the NDA government's last full budget before the general elections.
Banerjee said the budget does not spell out the direction on employment generation and has cut allocation on various other social schemes.
"Small scale and medium industries have been badly hit due to demonetisation and GST. We have been saying this from the very first day," she added. Source : pti

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Written by Thursday, 04 January 2018 07:45

A united opposition today had a face-off with the government over the triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha and stalled a debate on it insisting that it should be sent to a select panel, as the ruling BJP strongly sought its expeditious passage to stop the unlawful practice.

Amid noisy scenes, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 for discussion and passage, but pandemonium broke out in the Upper House with the opposition creating an uproar and the BJP countering it vociferously. The House, which had met at 3 PM after witnessing three adjournments over the Maharashtra caste violence, also witnessed procedural wranglings from both sides. The bill, which seeks to make instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband, was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 28.

While the government emphasised the need to pass the bill on an urgent basis citing a Supreme Court judgement pronouncing triple talaq as unconstitutional, the opposition countered it saying the views of various stakeholders must be taken by the select panel. While supporting the bill, the Opposition parties especially those from the Congress, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party, insisted that it be referred to a select panel for further scrutiny. As heated exchanges continued despite warnings and appeals, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the House for the day, without giving any ruling on the validity of the opposition's motion on the select panel. Terming it "a historic bill", Prasad said the Supreme Court on August 22 "called triple talaq as unconstitutional ... The judges appealed to Parliament to come out with a law.

Until then, it stopped the practice for six months. Even after Lok Sabha passing it, triple talaq is being given."  Appealing for its expeditious passage, the Minister also said that the Congress had supported the bill in the Lower House and asked it to clear its position here. However, the opposition remained adamant on its demand for setting up of a select committee, with Congress Deputy Leader Anand Sharma moving a resolution to this effect. Sharma gave a list of opposition members to be part of the proposed select committee and asked the ruling party to suggest its names to the panel, which should give its report in the first week of the Budget Session.

Besides Congress, SP and TMC, the names proposed by Sharma for the panel included leaders of AIADMK, BSP, DMK, NCP, CPI, CPI(M), TDP, RJD, BJD, JMM, IUML and nominated member KTS Tulsi. The Congress leader, along with Derek O'Brien (TMC), also insisted that the resolution on sending the bill to a select panel be put to vote in the House and a division was sought.

Dubbing Sharma's motion to set up a select committee as "invalid", Leader of the House Arun Jaitley objected to the procedure followed by him, saying Rule 70 (sub-rule 2a) cited by Sharma was not applicable here because the bill did not orginate from the Upper House. It orginated in the Lok Sabha and was transmitted to the Rajya Sabha. The other objection Jaitley raised was that the notice for setting up of a select panel was not given before, thereby breaking the parliamentary procedure.

Not only the names given for the proposed panel were proportionate to the strength of the parties represented in the House but the consent of these members was also not taken, he claimed. "Now, we are taken by surprise that we all assemble here after 3 PM, a motion is suddenly submitted to us. For the first time breaking all parliamentary convention and procedures, an invalid motion is moved," Jaitley said.
Citing reasons for the urgency of the bill to be passed to end the unlawful practice, Jaitley explained why the bill should not be referred to a select panel. "The practice (of triple talaq) was declared unconstitutional on August 22. Two of the judges...held the practice to be unfair. They used their extraordinary power to suspend this practice for six months. Those six months expires on February 22.

"They said we (court) beseige all political parties to come out with an appropriate legislation. Therefore, there is an urgency which the country expects from Parliament and the urgency is that the practice is unlawful," Jaitley said. The minister further said that some people have said that "we will defy the judgement and resort to this practice. So, the legislature must act with responsibility and act expeditiously and give it a legislative face."  Hitting out at Congress, Jaitley said, "The whole country is watching that in the other House you supported the bill and here you are trying to derail it" and sought a ruling from the chair on this matter. Countering Jaitley's views, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the Minister referred to a minority judgement of the Supreme Court on the issue while there was no mention of urgency in the majority judgement of the apex court. As unruly scenes continued, the ruling party members including ministers were up on their feet and asked, "Is it wrong to give respect to women?" 

Responding to them, Sharma said the Congress respects the women's rights and supports the bill. "We are not opposing, we are supporting it. We are not hypocrites. We want to ensure the bill goes through legislative scrutiny." He also chided the ruling party for claiming to the champion of the women's cause but not bringing the women's reservation bill. As noisy scenes and sloganeering continued forcing the chair to finally adjourn the House for the day. Source : pti




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Both experts and political parties believe the actor will have to do a lot of ground work and convince the voting public about his motivations to make it big in Tamil Nadu.

Rajinikanth is only the latest in a long list of actors to enter politics in Tamil Nadu, a state known to place its film stars on a pedestal.

Will he emerge successful in his political endeavour? One must look at the close relationship Kollywood has shared with Tamil Nadu politics through the years to answer that question.

MG Ramachandran (or MGR, as he is better known) and J Jayalalithaa, two great stars, successfully took up politics to become chief ministers of Tamil Nadu. However, theirs was no easy journey to the top. They had to slog it out on the field, winning perception as well as electoral battles against much fancied opponents to finally emerge triumphant.

Dravidar Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) founder CN Annadurai was a scriptwriter, but he still managed to garner enough clout to become the party’s first chief minister. The same was the case with incumbent DMK president M Karunanidhi, who occupied the hot seat on five occasions since 1969.

Both Karunanidhi and Annadurai were individuals steeped in the Dravidian movement, with strong ideological moorings.

MGR – a Keralite by origin – broke away from the DMK to form the All India Anna Dravidar Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and later become the chief minister. He managed to replicate his onscreen persona of the ideological do-gooder on the political scene, turning Tamil Nadu into a welfare state and becoming a legend for generations to come. MGR first became the chief minister in 1977, and continued in the position until his death.

Jayalalithaa had to wage a prolonged war of succession against MGR’s wife, Janaki (also a film star), becoming the leader of the opposition over five years after his death. Only after proving her political prowess on the electoral battlefield could she become the chief minister.

There have been failures from Kollywood too, and high on the list is Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) founder ‘Captain’ Vijayakanth – who could not even retain his own seat in the 2016 elections. MGR’s contemporary Sivaji Ganesan also floated his own party, only to fail miserably.

Vijayakanth had witnessed political success in his initial days, when he launched the DMDK in 2005 and notched up to 10% of the vote share in Tamil Nadu. Later, in the 2011 elections, he even teamed up with Jayalalithaa to win 29 seats and become the opposition leader with cabinet minister status. However, he soon fell out with Jayalalithaa and walked out of the political alliance. He contested the 2016 elections on his own but failed to retain any of his 29 seats.

“Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that Vijayakanth worked hard as a politician for five years before finally launching his political party. Another five years went by before he became the opposition leader,” says Jhon Arokiasamy, perception strategist and political analyst, adding that Rajinikanth also needs to work hard on the field to prove himself.

Arokiasamy believes that perception is based on ground reality. “People may start looking at Rajinikanth differently the moment he enters politics. He will be judged as a leader going by what he stands for, and what he does,” he adds.

Professor Ramu Manivannan from Madras University is harsher in his assessment. “I don’t see Rajinikanth as an alternative,” he says. “The superstar, unfortunately, happens to be a part of the very decay he talks about. He has cosied up to the powerful so far, and now that a vacuum has opened up in the political space, we see him stepping up to occupy it.”

Manivannan feels that any film star can draw crowds, but it is the work he does on the ground that matters in the long run. On that count, he finds both Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan – another actor on the verge of joining politics – sorely wanting.

Haasan had stolen a march on Rajinikanth by announcing his intention to enter politics, and even launching an app to fight corruption. But, after the initial buzz, he shifted gears and re-immersed himself in movies.

Arokiaswamy recalls the numerous instances in the past when Rajinikanth seemed set to enter politics. “On those occasions, his hints more-or-less coincided with film releases. However, he does seem serious this time,” he says.

Rajinikanth’s next film, Robot 2, is all set for a grand release next year.

Though the superstar’s decision was welcomed by political parties in the state, many pointed out that he was still a long way from launching his own outfit.

“I congratulate Rajinikanth, he has finally put an end to his fans’ expectations. (However) His entry will not have any kind of positive or negative impact on our fortunes,” DMK working president MK Stalin said soon after the announcement.

The BJP – specifically state unit president Tamilsai Soundararajan and Union minister of state Pon Radhakrishnan – hoped Rajinikanth would back the saffron agenda in the upcoming general elections. “We welcome Rajinikanth’s decision to enter politics. Corruption-free India and good governance is the sole aim of the BJP too,” said Soundararajan.

However, BJP politician Subramanian Swamy did not believe niceties were warranted in the circumstances. “Rajinikanth is an illiterate person with no clear agenda to fight corruption in Tamil Nadu. Has he announced the party name? Let him, and then I will expose him,” he said. Source : ht




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The focus, through every method, needs to be on improving female representation in every sector and not simply on increasing the number of women candidates

With the first days of this session of Parliament coming to an end, there is anticipation for the government’s agenda on gender equality and empowerment. The bill on Muslim women’s empowerment has already been introduced which focuses on deterring talaaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaaq) in Muslim families. Yet another important legislation that received much attention before the session began is the Women’s Reservation Bill. A bill that has been languishing in oblivion since its introduction, till recently being brought up by Sonia Gandhi in an open letter to our Prime Minister, reiterating its necessity and relevance.

In the current global scenario where India is looked at as a serious competitor to developed and developing countries alike, it should be a matter of alarm that we rank at a dismal 108th place in the annual Global Gender Gap Index, behind countries like China at 100th and Bangladesh at 47th among many others. The report highlights the lack of political participation of women in the country as a major cause for the disparate gender gap. To put this further into perspective, closer home in the South Asian region, out of the 8 SAARC countries, India’s position is a mediocre 5th after countries like Nepal and even Afghanistan.

The question we need to ask at this juncture is whether reservation for women in parliament is enough. If the end to be achieved is to have greater representation of women in roles of socio-political leadership, then ensuring their representation in roles of political leadership needs to be just as important. Our focus needs to be on expanding, not just in terms of seat reservation but also in roles of political party leadership and membership. A modern political party needs to have methods that encourage participation of women and remove structural barriers for women in politics where money and muscle power are known to rule.

The pending bill proposes to reserve 33% of all seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. It had been passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 and needed to be passed by the Lok Sabha and 50% of all state legislative assemblies, but lapsed as a result of not receiving due assent.

An alternative or consecutive form of reservation could be in the form of reserving membership and candidacy for women within political parties which exist today in countries like South Africa, Germany or Sweden which have successfully increased female representation in governance through voluntary quotas by political parties. With women comprising of 42% of its national assembly, South Africa serves as an excellent example of a successful experiment with voluntary party quotas. Sweden, similarly overcame a gender gap of over 34% in its own parliamentary representation by adopting this method. Perhaps the most significant lesson from the global experience with quotas was summarised by a Stockholm IDEA report, which concluded that, “in almost all political systems, no matter what electoral regime, it is the political parties, not the voters that constitute the real gatekeepers to elected offices.”

Party leadership should re-evaluate their internal roles so that a party can be more inclusive of women, creating an environment where the presence of women is not mere tokenism but an opportunity to make the party more representative of contemporary India. The focus, through every method, needs to be on improving female representation in every sector and not simply on increasing the number of women candidates.

Having more women members in a party will force the leadership to take note of candidates with a history of insensitive comments or misconduct against women. Women with senior roles within the party can also mentor the younger generation and help them navigate through the doors and ladders of a political party in India. This rule can be enforced by the Election Commission of India for Indian political parties to be recognised. Hopefully through this route, the road to empowering women to enter politics will be less daunting and far shorter.

This article was written with assistance from Gopika Mahapatra

Gaurav Gogoi is a member of the Lok Sabha and a member of the Indian National Congress

The views expressed are personal Source : ht




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A day after he was denied permission to hold a rally in Mumbai, Gujarat MLAJignesh Mevani clarified in New Delhi that his speech at an event in Pune on January 1 was not ‘provocative’.

Newly-elected Gujarat legislator Jignesh Mevani on Friday accused the ruling BJP of “targeting” him and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify his position on the safety of Dalits, a day after he was denied permission to hold a rally in Mumbai.

“Why aren’t Dalits safe in this country? Why is the monster of caste still alive when we are trying to find out if there is water on Mars,” Mevani asked.

“I will go to the PM on January 9 with a copy of the Manu Smriti and Constitution and ask him what do you choose,” he told reporters in New Delhi.

Mumbai Police on Thursday denied permission for a convention where Mevani and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid were supposed to speak.

Authorities detained the organisers of the proposed event at Bhaidas Hall in Vile Parle and banned the assembly of more than four people. The move was met with angry protests at the venue of the convention, with agitators accusing the city police of bias.

A day earlier, Mevani and Khalid were charged for allegedly making “provocative” speeches at an event and spreading disharmony and rift between the Maratha and Dalit communities, which led to the violence and the death of a 28-year-old man in Pune’s Bhima Koregaon on January 1.

The event was organised to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a British-era battle of Bhima-Koregaon at Pune’s Shaniwar Wada on December 31.

“No part of my speech was provocative or inflammatory. I am just being targeted,” ANI quoted him as saying.

“The members of the Sangh Parivar and the BJP made a childish attempt to tarnish my image and target me. It is an after effect of the Gujarat results and it is also because they have a sense of fear about 2019,” he said.

Dalit groups were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, in which Dalit soldiers of the British East India Company emerged triumphant over those of the Peshwa, on January 1 when they were allegedly targeted by upper-caste men. As the Peshwas were Brahmins, the victory is seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits.

Mevani had spearheaded protests in Gujarat a year ago after four Dalits were allegedly flogged by upper-caste men for skinning a dead cow. Source : ht




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The party on Monday said that the (BJP) should reflect on their image, if their President (Amit Shah) himself has been summoned to the in a riot case.

"They should realize what kind of image has inif their President has to be summoned in a riots case," MP Sushmita Dev told ANI.

today appeared before a sessions inas Maya Kodnani's witness in the 2002 Naroda Gam riots case.

The former minister of state for Women and Child Development in the of Gujarat, Maya Kodnani, has been accused of involvement in the Naroda Gam massacre that broke out on February 28, 2002, killing 11 Muslims.

Dev also said that talks a lot about the 1984 Riots, but stays quiet about the 2002 riots.

"They should first introspect themselves before making claims against Congress," Dev quipped.

Continuing her attack on BJP, Dev also criticised Prime Minister Modi-led government's economic policies.

"It is wrong to state that PM Modi gave economic integration to because he has done economic disasters," Dev said, giving demonetisation, farmers, and rise in petrol prices as examples for the same.

Mocking the BJP/RSS led government, Dev said that the slogan of "Acche din" has become a joke for the poor, the farmers, and the common people.

Responding to the defamation case filed by Rashtriya Samajsevak Sangh (RSS) against claims of RSS's connection in senior journalist Gauri Lankesh's murder, Dev, "If an RSS worker has filed a defamation case against the claim that RSS is behind Gauri Lankesh's murder then the entire country would be held in the case; if RSS heeds to social media, they will find that the entire country is saying that RSS is behind her killing."

Dev further said that the party is not afraid of the defamation case, adding, "It's in fact a good opportunity to bring the history of RSS- from (Nathuram) Godse to (Maya) Kodnani- in front of the judiciary."

The leader also slammed the in Haryana for the delayed CBI investigation into the murder case of a student within the premises of Gurugram's Ryan International School.

Dev said that the value of an investigation becomes questionable if the crime site is not sealed and public is allowed to enter the area.

The now infamous Ryan International School reopened today, even before the CBI investigation of the school could take place.

"This issue should be taken seriously, because it creates fear among the public about the ability of to maintain law and order," Dev added.




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The Congress today raised questions over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's state visit to Ahmedabad and not the country's national capital and hoped it would not be used for political purposes in view of the forthcoming Gujarat assembly elections.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was "quixotic" that Abe was not being hosted in Delhi.

"We do not want to transgress propriety by commenting on a state visit but it is rather quixotic that the Prime Minister of a country as important as Japan, who is almost India's strategic partner in many respects, is strangely not even being hosted in Delhi," he said.

He hoped a state visit was not being used for "political purposes" in view of the elections in Gujarat, slated to be held later this year.

"With an election in Gujarat around the corner, it does raise a question -- and I hope this is not the case -- that a state visit is actually being used for political purposes because the manner in which it is structured is rather awkward," he told reporters here.

Tewari said India had a great relationship with Japan and that relationship, its foundations and consolidation had been laid during the UPA regime.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe arrived here today on a two- day visit with a packed agenda that includes the laying of the foundation stone for India's first bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Tewari also criticised the government over the handling of the Rohingyas issue and said the criticism India had been subjected to by the United Nations Human Rights Council was "absolutely unprecedented".

"The stand which this government has taken on the Rohingyas is totally contrary to India's traditions where we have welcomed the persecuted from any part of our neighbourhood," he said.

He said India had not faced "this kind of ignominy".

"So, therefore, you can be critical of (Congress vice president) Rahul Gandhi, but I think the time has come for the NDA-BJP Government and the Prime Minister to introspect that mere speeches and road shows with leaders of other countries do not substitute for diplomacy," Tewari said.

On Gandhi's recent remarks in the US about being ready to take over as the party chief, he said the Congress was a democratic party and an organisational election process was on.

"You don't second guess an organisational election process. It will culminate logically in what the aspirations and the desires of the Congress workers are," he said.




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