Times of India | 11 months ago | 08-01-2022 | 05:28 pm
GOA: The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced dates for assembly elections in Goa on Saturday. The polls will be held in the state on February 14 and counting of votes will take place on March 10. The 40 assembly constituencies will vote in one single phase. The ruling BJP looks to retain power against challenges from Congress, and debutantes Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Besides Goa, the EC also declared poll dates for 4 other states - Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur. The Model Code of Conduct has come into effect in the five states with the announcement of elections. No physical rallies will be allowed till January 15 in wake of Covid-related concerns. A review to be done at appropriate time, said the CEC.
The BJP’s historic victory in Gujarat is being seen as a comprehensive win of the macro and micro strategies of the party with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at its centre.“Narendrabhai is our trump card and the entire strategy of the party revolves around him. He has got an amazing emotional bonding with the people of Gujarat that has been fetching unprecedented results for the party. In this election, too, the main strategy of the party was to seek votes projecting him. Like in the past, it got us unprecedented results,” said a BJP leader.According to the leader, the poll plank of the ‘double-engine sarkar’ was a part of this strategy.“People of Gujarat love Narendrabhai (Modi). When they know that ultimately it is Modi who will be calling the shots in Gujarat, irrespective of the CM here, they will vote for the BJP. It is also to be noted that Gujaratis are business-minded who will vote to secure their interests as well. When there are so many projects coming to Gujarat in which they will have (direct or indirect) interests, they cannot go for any other electoral choice,” the leader said.Top sources say that when the party was facing huge anti-incumbency, another strategy that seemed to have worked is the change of government just a little over one year. “Initially, such a massive change was being seen as a decision that could boomerang. However, it has worked in favour of the party if you see the end result. It refreshed people’s mindset that fresh faces are being given a chance by the party,” a party leader said.The selection of candidates and the micro-planning ahead of the election are other strategies that are considered as the key to the results the BJP got.Union Home Minister Amit Shah was firmly behind this part of the party’s poll preparation. Shah stayed in Gujarat for a significant time, toured all four regions of the state—Saurashtra-Kutch, South Gujarat, Central Gujarat and North Gujarat—before the task of ticket distribution was taken up.In a number of interviews before the elections, Shah made it clear that winnability was the only criteria in the selection of candidates. The party also gave tickets to close to 20 Congress turncoats. Even after allotment of party tickets, Shah is believed to have carried out a damage control exercise to ensure that those denied the tickets did not hurt the party’s electoral prospects.A leader who is considered to be directly involved in formulating BJP’s strategy, said, “Micro-planning that includes booth management and formation of the page committees was one of the key aspects of BJP’s strategy that helped the party register such a mammoth victory in the elections… Formation of page committees was the most underrated weapon that has got us huge success. Look at the vote share! We have got around 51-53 per cent votes. It is when there were so many marriages during those days of polling. It is because our page committees have worked effectively. From the day of polling, we have been saying that our voters have come out and voted and that it was the opposition party’s voters who have abstained. Today’s results have proved it.”Echoing a similar view, another party leader said, “The page committee members were being contacted on hourly basis on the day of polling. I have never seen such an effective strategy of booth management. It is a great achievement that the party could bring its voters to the booth although there was some sense of complacency prevailing. If you can check the booth-wise figures, you would notice that in many places Muslims—considered Congress loyalists—have not come out in big numbers.”“Carpet bombing” of campaigning by bringing a battery of national-level party leaders such as Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal, Rajiv Chandrashekhar and Parshottam Rupala, in addition to the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Goa to canvas for the party seemed to have complemented the rallies of PM Modi and Shah.“To bring the Union Ministers and national party leaders to the state for campaigning has worked in favour by setting the tone and emphasising the Hindutva leaning of the BJP. Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath specifically proved to be popular,” said a party leader. “Hindutva has been the USP of BJP and as the dates for the polls came closer, the focus of Modi and Shah shifted to highlight that and they spoke on issues (directly or indirectly) related to Hindutva.”The people of Gujarat have seen the violence-stricken days under the Congress rule and the BJP has proved that it can provide a peaceful rule without any communal riots, the leader said, pointing out that the presence of the UP and Assam CMs added to the party’s narrative on those lines.According to party sources, the BJP strategically focused on the proximity of the Congress with people such as Medha Patkar, Kanhaiya Kumar and Swara Bhaskar to portray the party’s image as “anti-Gujarat”. A number of BJP leaders talked about these persons and their association with Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in their poll speeches.Highlighting this, a BJP leader said, “Additionally, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s statement (purportedly) comparing Modi with Ravan also added to the narrative that the Congress was an anti-Gujarat party which we wanted to highlight.”
PANAJI: CM Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday that the 9th World Ayurveda Congress and Arogya Expo, which starts in Goa on Thursday, will feature free Ayush clinics and OPDs, and appealed to the public to avail of these. Sawant said that 4,500 participants have registered to attend the event; of these, 400 are foreigners, from 53 countries. He also said that Ayush ministers from five states will be present for the opening. The congress aims to popularise ayurveda as an authentic and affordable healing method, and as a prevention-oriented healthcare system. There will be 150 invited keynote speakers from the field of ayurveda, as well as cultural programmes and a documentary film festival on ayurveda. “Union Ayush minister Sarbananda Sonowal will inaugurate the meet, which will also be addressed by Union minister of state for tourism Shripad Naik and Union minister of state for Ayush Munjpara Mahendrabhai Kalubhai,” Sawant said. The event on the traditional system will be on for four days, and will conclude on Sunday in the presence of PM Narendra Modi, who will speak at the valedictory session. The PM recently announced Ayush visas to develop tourism, health and wellness centres in the country. With ‘ayurveda for one health’ as the event theme, the expo has been organized by the World Ayurveda Foundation, an initiative of Vijnana Bharati, with the support from the Union Ayush ministry and the Goa government. The conclave is being attended by the World Health Organisation for the first time, and will have six plenary sessions, besides 20 associate events, including a WHO event on traditional medicines. The congress will see around 3,800 abstracts for oral, e-book, and poster presentations. Major topics to be deliberated include expanding the scope of ayurveda — new-age prospects, innovations and entrepreneurship, ayurveda education, ayur informatics, innovation ecosystem, health and environment, and healing in India. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a key topic of discussion will also be ‘facing the pandemic with ayurveda’. Rajesh Kotecha, secretary, ministry of Ayush, and Rajesh Gokhale, secretary, department of biotechnology, will be among the speakers at the plenary sessions.
Panaji: Aside from discussions on the advances in ayurveda, experts and researchers will formulate policies for the development and propagation of ayurveda, including the use of alternative medicine for animal welfare, said the organisers.The deliberations will be held at the 9th World Ayurveda Congress & Arogya Expo which will be attended by 5,000 delegates from India and 60 other countries. The four-day event will also see over 200 industry players showcase their contribution to alternative medicine.“This provides a platform for future development of policies for the propagation of ayurveda for the world,” said secretary general of the World Ayurveda Congress and professor at the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) Anup Thakar. “The best academicians, delegates, ayurveda practitioners and experts will debate during plenary sessions. The demand for ayurveda has increased manifold across the world.”The event aims to prepare a roadmap to promote ayurveda as a reliable, scientific and alternative healthcare system. “Goa has a lot of potential for ayurveda. The way Kerala has used branding and promotion, Goa has a big opportunity to make ayurveda a strong point for wellness tourism and boost its economy,” said Thakar.Director general at the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) Rabinarayan Acharya said that for the first time, a dedicated two-day conclave on veterinary ayurveda will be held on the sidelines of the expo where scientists and professors will share scientific research in the field of animal healthcare.Deputy director of the Ayush export council Ashutosh Shrivastava said that in order to increase export of Ayush and alternative medicines, 50 buyers from foreign nations along with regulators from other nations have been invited for the conference. “We will get them connected with Indian exporters and manufacturers. There will foreign drug regulators who will bring in information about their practices so that India can see how to meet their standards,” said Shrivastava.
All eyes are on Gujarat as the results of the high-decibel state Assembly elections will be declared Thursday. The counting of votes is all set to begin Thursday morning in 37 counting centres set up across the state. Voting for the 182 constituencies of the Assembly was conducted in two phases on December 1 and 5.A day before the results, with leaders expressing confidence in the party’s victory, preparations to celebrate the win were underway at Shree Kamalam—the state headquarters of the BJP in Gandhinagar. A decorative gate was being installed at the entrance of Kamalam, in addition to various teams setting up big LED screens for workers to view the election results Thursday.“We are confident of winning the election. We are not doing any special arrangements for tomorrow but the gate is being set up and LED screens are being installed. The party office is also getting cleaned up as party workers will come to the office (in large numbers),” said party spokesperson Yamal Vyas.A party office bearer said the BJP does not make other arrangements such as buying sweets and fire crackers as those were being done by the workers on their own.For opposition Congress, several rounds of meetings marked the day ahead of the counting at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan—its state headquarters in Ahmedabad. While Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Jagdish Thakor chaired the online meetings with the candidates and district presidents in the morning. This was followed by a meeting with the senior leaders at the headquarters.AICC incharge of Gujarat, Raghu Sharma, Wednesday evening chaired a meeting at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan with Thakor, senior leaders and a few candidates to discuss arrangements and precautions for counting.“Discussions on the voting outcome and what all needs to be taken care of during the counting were held for the counting agents to candidates and senior leaders. They were alerted on even small issues like ensuring EVM counts are registered and uploaded correctly on the computer system as irregularities were reported in the past at the Dholka assembly election and Amraiwadi by-election. Also, whether EVMs were sealed and properly signed, counting of postal ballots first followed by EVMs were also shared among everyone during meetings,” spokesperson Manish Doshi said, adding that everyone has been alerted to inform the GPCC team in case any incident comes to their notice at any place.A two-page written instructions for counting were also distributed to Congress candidates and leaders.Meanwhile, a day before the Gujarat results, various offices of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) across the state, including its Ahmedabad office, did not shy away from celebrating the party’s win in the Delhi MCD polls.The party also took to similar celebrations at its Surat office, with state president Gopal Italia celebrating with party workers. With the party’s key faces stationed at their respective constituencies, Ahmedabad was, in fact, devoid of any recognisable face of the party.The celebrations also continued at Jamkhambhaliya from where AAP’s CM face Isudan Gadhvi is contesting with firecrackers and sweets being distributed among the party workers. Gadhvi, joining in on the celebrations, and confident of scripting a win in Gujarat, also said that on Thursday, the party would join the ranks of a national party.In 2022, Gujarat is witnessing a three-way contest between BJP, Congress and AAP. Most exit polls have predicted a victory for BJP in the elections and the AAP opening its account in the state. However, both Congress and AAP have refuted the exit polls predictions.The BJP had launched a high-octane ‘carpet bombing’ campaign as it brought almost all its national-level leaders to the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had led the party’s campaign in the entire state. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma and Goa CM Pramod Sawant, too, campaigned for the party in the state.On the other hand, AAP’s campaign was headed by its national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who went through the length and breadth of the state. He was also joined by Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann during the campaigns.The Congress’s campaign, in comparison, remained a low-key affair. Its senior leader Rahul Gandhi did only four public meetings in the state. Party president Mallikarjun Kharge, however, did hold a few public meetings.Some of the prominent personalities whose fate will be watched keenly include Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel, OBC youth leader Alpesh Thakor, Dalit youth leader Jignesh Mevani, AAP’s CM candidate Isudan Gadhvi and its state president Gopal Italia.The state witnessed an average voting of 64.33 per cent in two phases. In Phase 1, it was 63.14 per cent, while the Phase 2 voting turnout was at 65.3 per cent. The turnout was the lowest recorded in the state in the past 10 years.In the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP came down to its lowest tally ever since 1995 at 99 seats. The Congress had put up a spirited fight and won 77 seats.
Panaji: State assembly speaker Ramesh Tawadkar has issued notices to former opposition leader and incumbent Calangute BJP MLA Michael Lobo, and Margao BJP MLA Digambar Kamat, instructing them to appear before him on December 16 over the disqualification petition filed against them.Goa Pradesh Congress Committee Amit Patkar had filed the disqualification petition before the speaker to prevent defections from Congress.“The petition for disqualification under paragraph 2(1)(B) of the Tenth Schedule read with Article 191(2) of the Constitution of India and read with the Members of the Goa Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986, will be taken up on December 16, at 12pm, in the speaker’s chamber at the assembly complex at Porvorim,” legislature secretary Namrata Ulman stated in the notices.Tawadkar said both Lobo and Kamat will be given an opportunity to explain their side of the case.In July, when the then Congress MLAs made an attempt to join BJP, Patkar had filed a disqualification petition before the speaker against them.“We have filed a disqualification petition against our two senior leaders because they have voluntarily given up membership of the party. There is a Supreme Court judgment in 2020 that says that any anti-party activity amounts to voluntarily giving up membership of the party,” Patkar had said.Last month, Congress filed two disqualification petitions before the speaker against its eight former MLAs, including Kamat and Lobo, who joined BJP on September 14, barely eight months after they did a run to a temple, a chapel and a mosque taking a vow not to defect from Congress and even signing an affidavit pledging their loyalty to the party. The MLAs “merged” the party’s legislative wing into BJP, taking the saffron party’s strength to 28 in the 40-member House.