Times of India | 1 year ago | 09-01-2022 | 04:38 am
Panaji: While welcoming the decision of the election commission of India (ECI) to hold assembly election in Goa on February 14, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) president Pandurang ‘Deepak’ Dhavalikar on Saturday urged the people of the state to vote for change and defeat the corrupt government of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). MGP will announce the first list of its candidates on January 13. Dhavalikar said that the poll watchdog should implement strict guidelines issued by them not only against the opposition, but also the ruling party and the government machinery. He also said that the party is all set to go for election with the alliance with Trinamool Congress (TMC) and seat sharing would be done on January 13.
The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday held hearings for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to decide whether they should be allowed to retain their national party status, according to two EC sources on Wednesday.The EC had issued show-cause notices to the three parties in July 2019 asking why their national party status should not be revoked after their performance in the Lok Sabha elections that year. Resuming the proceedings, the EC asked the three parties to appear before it on Tuesday.Under Para 6B of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, a party is eligible to be considered a national party if it is a recognised state party in four or more states; if its candidates polled at least 6 per cent of the valid votes in four or more states in the last Lok Sabha or Assembly election and it has at least four MPs elected in the last election; or if it wins at least 2 per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats in at least three states.According to the sources, the review of the national party status was held under Para 6C of the order, which states that the continuation of the recognition as a national party will depend on the fulfilment of the conditions under Para 6B.The EC had also issued notices to six state parties over their continued recognition as state parties. The six parties – the People’s Democratic Alliance, Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Mizoram People’s Conference, Pattali Makkal Katchi, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal – were asked to appear for hearings on Monday, an EC source said. While the People’s Democratic Alliance asked for another date and the Mizoram People’s Conference did not attend the hearing, the other four parties attended their hearings, the source said.To be recognised as a state party, as per Para 6A of the order, a party has to fulfil one of the following conditions – have at least 6 per cent vote share in the last Assembly election and a minimum of two MLAs; or have 6 per cent vote share in the last Lok Sabha elections from that state and one MP from the state; or at least 3 per cent of the total seats or three seats, whichever is more, in the last Assembly elections; or one MP for every 25 members of any fraction allotted to the state in the Lok Sabha; or at least 8 per cent of the total valid votes in the last Assembly or Lok Sabha election from the state.
As both Houses of Parliament remain paralysed amid the continuing standoff between the government and the Opposition, the second half of the Budget Session may turn out to be a washout. A sidebar to the conflict between the two sides is the widening of fissures within the Opposition ranks over the leadership of the Congress and Rahul. These developments are dominating the pages of the Urdu dailies as they bring their readers up to speed with their twists and turns.INQUILABCommenting on the gridlock in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha amid the face-off between the Narendra Modi-led BJP government and the Congress-led Opposition — with the BJP demanding an apology from Rahul Gandhi over his critique from the UK of the current state of democracy in India and the Opposition seeking the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe into the Adani affair — the New Delhi edition of Inquilab, in its editorial on March 18, says this is perhaps the first time that the Treasury benches are stalling the proceedings of Parliament. “When Rahul attended the House after returning from Britain, clarifications should have been sought from him, but it was not done, forcing him to address a press conference,” it states. Rahul said he has a right to respond to the allegations levelled against him by four ministers. ”Rahul told the press conference that he also met the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to convey his position, but the Speaker was non-committal and in his way he smiled,” the daily says.The editorial notes that while addressing various events in the UK Rahul had stuck to his allegation that the Opposition’s voice is being silenced in India under the current regime. “By not letting Rahul speak in the House, the ruling side is reinforcing his charge,” it says. “There is nothing in the remarks Rahul made abroad that could be labelled anti-India. It has already been pointed out that during his foreign visits PM Modi had made similarly critical remarks too.”The editorial says the Treasury benches seem to be bent on stonewalling a debate on the Adani issue. “This could be a bid to deflect attention so that the demand for a JPC probe is shot down,” it says. “However, in this standoff the advantage is with the Congress and Rahul, as the BJP is making its play trickier.”SIASATIn its editorial on March 19, the Hyderabad-based Siasat says that while the ruling BJP seems to have stepped up its campaign against the Opposition parties in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, especially moving to gun for Rahul Gandhi, the Opposition’s attempts to create a joint front against the BJP appear to be faltering. Although the Congress and Rahul himself have tried to downplay the question of their leadership of an Opposition amalgam, the BJP has managed to fuel suspicion in some regional parties that Rahul may emerge as the face of their front, the editorial states.The signals sent by West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and SP president and ex-UP CM Akhilesh Yadav following their meeting in Kolkata have reflected the cracks in the Opposition unity that would lead to brightening of the BJP’s prospects in the 2024 polls, the daily says.In a snub to the Congress, the TMC leadership and Akhilesh have announced their plan to remain equidistant from the BJP and the grand old party. “A section of the Opposition wants the Congress to lead their ranks against the BJP. Bihar CM and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar is at its forefront. However, another Opposition section comprising of leaders like Mamata, Akhilesh and Telangana CM and BRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao are batting for an anti-BJP front sans the Congress,” the edit notes. After her party’s dismal performance in Meghalaya and Tripura Assembly polls, Mamata had announced that she will go solo in the upcoming polls. But after her meeting with Akhilesh, the TMC has made it clear that she would be engaged in forging a non-BJP, non-Congress alliance, which may even get Odisha CM and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik on board.“Although several Opposition parties including the NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT), DMK, JD(U), RJD, JMM want the Congress’s inclusion in an anti-BJP front, the stand of major regional players like Mamata and Akhilesh have dealt a blow to the bid for a larger Opposition unity, which may undermine their efforts to defeat the BJP in 2024,” the edit says. “In this scenario, the Opposition should review the blueprint for their future course of action.”ROZNAMA RASHTRIYA SAHARAReferring to Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma’s remarks made while addressing a large gathering in Belagavi in the poll-bound Karnataka that he intends to shut down all madrasas in his state, the multi-edition Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, in its editorial on March 19, writes that Sarma is among thoseleaders who remain in the news owing to their various comments. Sarma told the Belagavi event that he has closed 600 madrasas in Assam, but his intention is to shut all madrasas because they are not needed in “New India” that needs schools, colleges and universities, the editorial says. “If Sarma has made these comments in view of the upcoming Karnataka polls it is another matter, but in a democratic country like India he has no right to decide what all the people need.”Underlining that PM Modi talks about “Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas”, the editorial says CM Sarma’s remarks are at variance with it. “Sarma seems to be unaware of the role played by madrasas in strengthening India. They have played a key role in ensuring subsistence of many poor children, providing them free food and clothes along with education. And they have been ensuring this long before the mid-day meal scheme for school children was launched in the country in 1995,” it states. “Besides religious education, these madrasas should ensure modern education too so that it could benefit all children… The point also remains that less than five per cent of Indian Muslim children are enrolled in madrasas.”Noting that India’s literacy rate as per 2011 Census was 74 per cent, the daily asks Sarma about his plans to impart education to the rest of the population. A 2021 Unesco report said that India needs 11.16 lakh additional teachers to meet the current shortfall and that there are over 1.1 lakh single-teacher schools in the country, it says. “In December 2022, Assam education minister Ranoj Pegu had admitted lack of teachers as well as basic facilities like toilet, water and electricity in the state’s schools. In Assam, 2,979 schools are run by single-teacher, 15,161 are two teacher schools, and 8,207 are three-teacher schools,” the edit says. “Sarma should focus on solving these problems affecting Assam’s schools rather than targeting madrasas.”
West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose Friday said improved ties between his office and the elected government in West Bengal is just part of an evolution process in cooperative federalism, and emphasized that “a Raj Bhavan should become a no-conflict zone”.Bose, who took charge in November last year at a time when a long-drawn conflict was playing out between the Raj Bhavan and the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government, said that as Governor he would follow the path of conciliation and cooperation.“In my opinion, in place of confrontation there should be conciliation. Antipathy should be replaced by empathy and passion should be tempered with compassion. Always a middle path seems to be better for society. A Raj Bhavan should become a no-conflict zone,” Bose said at The Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express.Ties between the Raj Bhavan and the Trinamool Congress government were strained during the tenure of Bose’s immediate predecessor Jagdeep Dhankar, the current Vice-President of India, because of the latter’s prolonged and often public criticism of the state government’s functioning.The ties appeared to improve after Bose took charge on November 23 last year, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee acknowledging in public the cordial relations as she called the Governor a “perfect gentleman”.Bose’s attempts to learn Bengali was well appreciated as well in the state. On the occasion of Republic Day, the Governor even organised a “Haathe Khori (initiation with a chalk)” ceremony – that marks the formal beginning of a child’s education – at Raj Bhavan, which was attended by the Chief Minister.The Governor said he was happy that his concept of walking the middle path has been accepted in the state. “I am happy this concept has been accepted by all the stakeholders in West Bengal, including the political strata, the media, the common man and the judiciary.”Asked how he managed to turn the conflict with the state government into cordial ties, Bose said, “I was only a mute witness to the evolution that has been taking place in the concept of cooperative federalism in the country. For every problem, there is a solution, and there should be an honest attempt to find a solution to all problems.”“There are two kinds of people, according to me – one who find solutions to problems and others who find problems in every solution. I would certainly like to follow the path of conciliation and cooperation as far as my limited role as Governor of West Bengal,” he said.Asked about the Chief Minister, he said: “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is my respected constitutional colleague. All the stakeholders in the state are cooperating with the process of normalisation and process of reconciliation in the state.”
The Opposition’s attack on the Trinamool Congress over allegations regarding its top leaders and arrests of several in scams has begun to have an effect on the lower echelons of the ruling party. A section of TMC leaders are now questioning why the party has adopted a dual policy for its arrested leaders — one for Anubrata Mondal and Manik Bhattacharya, another for the rest, including Partha Chatterjee, Kuntal Ghosh and Shantanu Banerjee.When senior minister and TMC heavyweight Partha Chatterjee was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last July over his alleged involvement in the “school jobs scam”, the party and supremo Mamata Banerjee had not only distanced themselves from Chatterjee, but also quickly removed him from his ministerial responsibilities and suspended him from the party membership.Similarly, a couple of days ago, youth leaders Kuntal Ghosh and Shantanu Banerjee were expelled by the TMC in response to their arrests by the CBI in connection with the same school jobs scam.In sharp contrast, when the CBI arrested TMC Birbhum district president and enforcer Anubrata Mondal aka Keshto last August, over a case of alleged cattle smuggling, Banerjee came out in his support, slamming Central agencies for their “selective targeting of the BJP’s political rivals”.Addressing an event of TMC workers at Kolkata’s Netaji Indoor Stadium, Banerjee called upon them to give a “heroic welcome” to Mondal whenever he is released from jail, saying: “If they [BJP and the Centre] think these measures [CBI and ED raids and arrests] will help them secure two parliamentary seats from West Bengal, they are mistaken,” adding, “Keshto is unwell. Every election, they restrict his movement, thinking it will bolster their prospects. Those of you who have come from Birbhum should fight with thrice the vigour till Kesto returns, and give him a heroic welcome when he does. He deserves it.”The reason why Banerjee chose to step out to throw her weight behind Mondal was evident. The Central agencies’ unrelenting actions against senior TMC leaders have hurt the party organisation and bruised the morale of its rank and file. Mondal is one of Banerjee’s closest lieutenants, who, apart from being the party’s Birbhum strongman, also holds sway over neighbouring districts.A senior TMC leader said, “Anubrata is one of our seniormost organisers. Our party does not want to lose him. Didi had initially thought he would get bail within a month or two. Now that she has realised this is not happening, she is gradually distancing herself from him too. But, due to political compulsions, she won’t suspend him right now.”But that’s not convincing enough for a section of TMC leaders, who are now asking why the party did not suspend former School Service Commission chairman Manik Bhattacharya. A senior TMC leader said, “Our party’s thumb rule is to take action against those from whom Central agencies have recovered huge amounts of unaccounted cash, because the optics are bad. But against those who are so far only accused by Central agencies, like Manik, Anubrata and others, the party has decided to go slow, initially only maintaining a distance. It will only take disciplinary action if necessary.” He added, “It is also true that if Manik Bhattacharya is suspended or expelled, he will fight elections as an Independent, which the party did not want to happen.”The Opposition hasn’t wasted the opportunity, hitting out at the CM for her “deceitful” stand on scam-accused TMC leaders. The BJP’s Samik Bhattacharya said, “Anubrata is the TMC’s poster boy and mask. He is equal to the TMC. So, they won’t ever take any step against him.”CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “The TMC hasn’t actually expelled anyone. They [the accused] are only suspended. Besides, the TMC can’t even suspend Mondal, as they are afraid that he knows everything.”
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has lashed out at Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, accusing him of not letting any Opposition MP speak in Parliament. Alleging that democracy is “under attack” under the present regime, Moitra said the speaker is “leading” from the front.In a tweet late on Wednesday night, Moitra wrote: “Last 3 days saw Speaker Om Birla allow ONLY BJP ministers to speak on mike & then adjourn parliament with not single opposition member being allowed to speak. Democracy IS under attack. And the speaker leads from the front. And I am willing to go to jail for this tweet.”Last 3 days saw speaker @ombirlakota allow ONLY BJP ministers to speak on mike & then adjourn parliament with not single opposition member being allowed to speak.Democracy IS under attack. And the speaker leads from the front. And I am willing to go to jail for this tweet.— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) March 15, 2023Her tweet echoed Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Chowdhury’s letter to Birla where he levelled similar allegations over the Parliament proceedings of last three days.As the BJP government continued to corner the Congress in Parliament Wednesday, demanding an apology from MP Rahul Gandhi for his recent remarks in London, Chowdhury, in his letter to the Speaker complaint that his microphone had been muted for the last three days.Chowdhury said he was writing the letter “with a heavy heart and deep sense of anguish” about “government-sponsored disruption in the House”. “I am deeply disheartened to observe that ever since the House resumed after the break on March 13, 2023, there has been a Government-sponsored disruption in the House. It appears to me as if there is a well-hatched conspiracy on the part of the party in power to tarnish the image of an individual member of an Opposition Party (Sh Rahul Gandhi),” he said.Chowdhury added, “What is more disturbing for me to observe is that even the ministers themselves vociferously take the lead to disrupt the proceedings. The voice of the leaders of Opposition parties is not being heard at all.”The Congress then drew the Speaker’s attention to his “muted” microphone and said Gandhi’s statements on the matter were “substantiated”.