Times of India | 2 weeks ago | 21-11-2022 | 07:26 pm
PANAJI: By amending the Laadli Laxmi scheme the Pramod Sawant government has taken a convenient U- turn in its promise to support women empowerment, said the Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) on Monday. The TMC also slammed the government for keeping laadli laxmi applications pending. Goa TMC women’s wing president and general secretary Avita Bandodkar questioned why the BJP led government decided not to permit women to use the Laadli Laxmi funds to pursue higher education or become economically independent. “The government has narrowed the eligibility criteria by reducing the time during which a person can avail the scheme,” said Bandodkar. “The previous eligible applications submitted by unmarried applicants will only be sanctioned after they submit a civil marriage registration certificate. Why can’t a woman use the funds to pursue higher education or invest in a startup and become economically independent?” TMC has demanded that the BJP-led government must approve all the pending applications under the Laadli Laxmi scheme. The party also said that after the elections the BJP government has reneged on all its promises. The West Bengal outfit said that the BJP has failed to protect women’s interests such as security, economic opportunities and safety.
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.”
A year after it won 28 seats in its maiden election in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party decided to go national, fielding candidates from 432 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats. While it managed to win four seats in Punjab, party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s national ambitions were called misplaced, especially keeping in mind that the party was formed less than two years ago.On Thursday, with voters in Gujarat giving AAP almost 13% of the vote share, and a likely five seats, Kejriwal is set to become the head of a national party, the ninth in the country.In a video address on Thursday, Kejriwal thanked the people of Gujarat for making AAP a national party.“People of Gujarat have made AAP a national party today. This is a very big thing. There are only a handful of national parties in the country. AAP was formed a mere 10 years ago. It is a young party. Today, that party has formed a government in two states. When people hear this, they are amazed. I would like to thank the people of Gujarat. The love, respect and trust I got from you has indebted me to you for life… Gujarat is a BJP bastion. We have succeeded in finding a chink. So many of you trusted us in our maiden assembly selection there. Next time, perhaps, we will win,” he said.राष्ट्रीय पार्टी बनने पर आम आदमी पार्टी के सभी कार्यकर्ताओं और सभी देशवासियों को बधाई। pic.twitter.com/sba9Q1sz1f— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 8, 2022In AAP’s case, to be recognised as a national party, it needed to be recognised in four states.That condition is fulfilled if it has at least a 6% vote share and two MLAs in four states. In Gujarat, winning four seats (and leading in one) and getting a 13% vote share has taken the party past that mark.The other states where it is recognised are Delhi, Punjab and Goa.According to senior party leaders, they always knew that winning in Gujarat was a tall ask, but the party fought strongly on all fronts to make sure it secured at least a 6% vote share. It even diverted attention from the Delhi municipal polls, hoping that the work done by its Delhi government in the past eight years would help it pass the halfway mark.“In Gujarat, where BJP has been in power for decades, we always knew the fight would be extremely tight. While every election we contest is to win, we also fought to become a national party. The 6% vote share and two seats was a goal always in our sights,” said a senior party leader.A national party has the right to a reserved symbol for its candidates contesting from across the country. The party is also entitled to land or a building for its national headquarters.Candidates from national parties need only one proposer to file nominations as opposed to two for others. They also get dedicated broadcast slots on Doordarshan and All India Radio during the general elections.“It is not the benefit that AAP was particularly after. But the fact is that being recognised as a national party only 10 years after being formed is a clear indication that we are here to stay. Opposition leaders have called us one-trick ponies, they have called us a party that can only win in Delhi. We have proved them wrong. Our national ambition is not hidden from anyone. We are in electoral politics to change how things are run and we have forced other parties to fight elections based on narratives set by us — those of education, health and work,” another AAP leader said.In Thursday’s address, Kejriwal too spoke about the change they have brought about in politics.“We ran a positive campaign. We showcased our model of development as it exists in Delhi and Punjab. This is what makes us different from other parties. Till now, this country saw elections being contested on caste, violence and religion-based politics. For the first time, a party spoke about issues of people, making the country number 1, bijli-paani-sadak,” he said.Addressing AAP workers in Gujarat, Kejriwal said, “We are honest people, we have integrity and we have to maintain it… I congratulate all party workers who worked so hard. Rest for a little while, but after that, get back to work. Elections will come and go, but we are in politics to serve people. That service should not stop.“Serve your communities and your village even if you don’t get votes. If you work, votes will come. But don’t work just for votes,” he said.
PANAJI: Referring to the recent Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report that has placed the unemployment rate in Goa at 13%, chief minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday said that the state government cannot alone be held responsible for this. Among the unemployed are even engineering graduates, Sawant said, adding that institutes of higher education need to place more stress on introducing skilling courses for students, which they can undergo parallel to their graduate programmes. “You must have read that the unemployment rate in Goa is 13%. Who is responsible for it? Is it only the government that is responsible? If you see the unemployed, more than 70% are graduates. And not just BA, BCom, BSc, engineering students, too. I ask myself, why are those who have done engineering unemployed in Goa. At present, the requirement is skill education,” the CM said. He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Vidya Prabodhini College, in collaboration with the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). Colleges need to change their courses based on the requirements of the times, Sawant said. “If we are unable to identify the present-day requirement, then the unemployment ratio will keep rising. In 2014, I started a small nursing and paramedical institute. From 2014 to 2021, around 800 students have passed out from the institute. It is a one-year course after Class XII, and I can proudly say that all the students are employed. When we speak of the National Education Policy, we need to take initiatives to introduce skill development courses parallelly,” said Sawant. He said colleges need to take initiative to have more interactions with the industry and understand their requirements and prepare students accordingly for the employment market. “Recently, the directorate of higher education and the directorate of skill development signed agreements with different industries, and we are taking several initiatives. There are principals from 64 colleges here. Only you can take the initiative to bring down the unemployment rate,” Sawant said. He said that the state government recently required a yoga therapist but could not find a sufficient number of qualified persons in Goa. The CM said that the state had invited applications for fellows for 13 positions, but only four joined, despite the honorarium of Rs 35,000 a month. Even at the National Institute of Watersports in Goa, only about 25% of the students are Goans. Colleges need to create more awareness about these areas where employment opportunities lie, Sawant said. Goa, besides its reputation as a tourist hotspot and IT industry hub, also needs to develop as an education hub, which is in line with the nature of Goans and their hospitality, Sawant said. Setting up of a sports university is also on the anvil, he said. Only 26 of 64 colleges NAAC accredited in Goa. In Goa, of the 64 institutions affiliated with the Goa University, which are under the purview of the directorate of higher education, only 26 institutions have been accredited by NAAC till date, said the CM and education minister. “I expect all institutes now will carry out the NAAC accreditation process. This will give a boost to our students to perform better,” he said.
In a country where flying in an airplane remains an unfulfilled dream and a lifelong desire of children coming from families with humble backgrounds, here’s a government school principal from Punjab who is literally giving wings to this wish of his meritorious students.Three years ago, when Rakesh Sharma joined as the principal of Shaheed Gurdas Ram Memorial Government Senior Secondary School (Girls), in Zira of Ferozepur district, he noticed that the students from this school were not securing merit positions in Class X and XII board results. To boost their morale and motivate them to work hard for making it to the state merit list, he asked them their one wish which he would fulfill if they make it to the merit list. With most of them coming from underprivileged or middle class families, the students expressed they want ‘jahaaz da jhoota’ (airplane travel) if they pass their exams with flying colours.Agreeing to pay for their air tickets from his own pocket for any destination of their choice within the country, Sharma promised his students that he will fulfill their wish if they work hard and make it to the state merit list. Four girls from the school made it to the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) merit list this year – two each from Class X and XII.For Bhajanpreet Kaur and Simranjit Kaur – who secured merit rank in Class XII – it was a lifetime experience when they recently went to Goa from Amritsar via plane, thanks to their principal who kept his word and paid for their tickets.For both girls, it was an educational-cum-leisure tour, as they chose to go to Goa after Bhajanpreet’s project on “Deteriorating Soil Health due to Stubble Burning” was selected for INEX Expo-2022, organised by Goa State Innovation Council on November 18, and won bronze medal at Goa again. Bhajanpreet Kaur, 18, whose father works as a ‘Granthi’ in a local gurdwara, said that for her the flying trip was a dream come true.“For students like us who come from lower middle class families, it only remains a dream to fly in a plane at least once in our lifetime. I am the only one from my family who got an opportunity to travel in a plane… Had our principal sir not sponsored our tickets, we might not have been able to go to Goa to participate in the national-level contest where my project also won the bronze prize and we got a chance to interact with judges who had come from other countries. Such an exposure for government school students is rare. My father earns around Rs 10,000 a month, and affording an air ticket is not possible for us otherwise,” said Bhajanpreet who had secured 98.4% in science stream in Class XII board exams and is now pursuing BSc physics. Both girls were accompanied by their teacher who went to Goa with them voluntarily. Simranjit Kaur, whose father works as a truck mechanic, said that sitting in a plane and watching earth from sky was a lifetime experience for her. “In our school, students mostly come from very poor families and they haven’t even travelled to Chandigarh or Delhi via train… so travelling in airplane is a dream which mostly remains a dream for life. After our principal sir announced that he will send us on plane if we get our names on the merit list, all of us started working hard to fulfill our wish and to secure a place on the merit list,” she said.Next, two students from Class X – Shital Sharma and Lakhvir Kaur – who had secured merit positions will be taking a flight for Delhi on December 25 for an educational trip. “Two teachers will be accompanying them and they will be shown education-related sites across the capital. We will also take care of their accommodation and other expenses during the tour,” principal Sharma said.The school principal said that he decided to take them on air travel after students themselves expressed their wish to fly during ‘Baal Sansad’ (Children’s Parliament) which is held in the school every month to discuss school-related issues. “For children who come from small villages with their parents working day and night to arrange two meals a day, sitting in a plane is not something that happens every day. They said that they want ‘jahaaz da jhoota’ (airplane tour) to which I agreed and told them to work hard and earn their wings. It was just a way to motivate them for better results,” said Sharma.
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.