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Amidst Darbhanga MP Azad’s suspension, BJP veterans’ meet creates flutter

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Express concern over DDCA, National Herald controversies eclipsing other pressing issues

Kirti Azad
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A day after the BJP suspended its Darbhanga MP Kirti Azad, party veterans — LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar — went into a huddle creating a flutter, the second time in less than two months. The meeting held at Joshi’s residence, like last time, was not pre-planned, according to sources. While Kirti Azad’s suspension was not the primary purpose of the meeting, the leaders expressed concern over issues like DDCA row and the National Herald case eclipsing “major issues” like the Paris climate pact, the Nairobi WTO ministerial meeting and farmers’ problems in the Winter Session which ended on Wednesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> They noted that this was the second session in a row which was a washout, in the face of a government-opposition standoff, the sources said. The leaders were also worried that the DDCA row could spill over into the budget session, which begins around February 20. The defamation cases filed by finance minister Arun Jaitley against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders over their DDCA allegations are likely to stretch into February. A leader said “all issues” were discussed. The meeting hogged the limelight as it came a day after Kirti Azad, who had responded saying he was suspended for fighting corruption, said the Marg Darshak Mandal should take cognisance of the issue. Two of the leaders — Advani and Joshi — belong to the BJP’s Marg DarshakMandal, which has never met or held consultations ever since it was set up in August last year. The other members of the Marg Darshak Mandal are Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and home minister Rajnath Singh. Meanwhile, a BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has offered to help Azad in drafting his reply to the party, further bringing out the fault lines in the party. This time the mood of the four party elders appeared to be more of resignation than rebellion. Unlike last time the senior leaders did not come out with any statement. A leader said the party leadership was yet to react or address the concerns expressed in its statement issued on the eve of Diwali, in the aftermath of the Bihar debacle. The four leaders had said the party has been ’emasculated’ in the past year and that to say everyone was responsible for the defeat in Bihar was to ensure that no one was held responsible. The BJP hit back saying the party’s senior leaders had set the precedent of “collective responsibility”. Sources said the party elders appeared resigned to their ‘helplessness’ given their limited role. It was also not clear if they would raise their concerns at some party forum. According to sources, all four leaders were together only for half-an-hour as Advani reached at noon and Sinha had to leave by around 12.30 pm.

ACB unearths assets worth several crores amassed by 2 Andhra Pradesh babus

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In a statement issued in Hyderabad, the anti-graft agency said that searches were conducted at the office and residential premises of G Suseela, Tahsildar, Sangam Mandal in Nellore district today.
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The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday claimed to have unearthed assets worth crores of rupees amassed by two government officials through illegal means, in two separate cases. One of the officials has been arrested, the ACB said.In a statement issued in Hyderabad, the anti-graft agency said that searches were conducted at the office and residential premises of G Suseela, Tahsildar, Sangam Mandal in Nellore district today.”The searches resulted in unearthing of immovable assets of two houses at Bangalore, four houses in Nellore, 25 acres of land at Chegerla Nellore district and five plots at various places worth about Rs 2 crore,” it said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The officer has been arrested and will be produced before the ACB court, Nellore, the release added.In another case, the ACB conducted searches at the houses of D Ravikumar, Assistant Executive Engineer, Quality and Control, Panchayat Raj Department in Visakhapatnam, and his relatives. The searches were conducted on the tip-off that Ravikumar allegedly possessed disproportionate assets to his known sources of income, an official release said. Total assets, whose market value is about Rs 6 crore have been found, it added.

Bihar Elections 2015: Lalu makes dream comeback, to be kingmaker in Bihar

The man, who once lorded over Bihar, was pushed to the margins after the 2010 assembly elections when the NDA under incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar won an astounding four fifth majority in the 243-member assembly, winning 206 seats and restricting RJD to a paltry 22, its worst-ever tally

Lalu Prasad Yadav

Notwithstanding a string of losses that began with the defeat in the 2005 assembly polls when his party was ousted from power after 15 years and a court ruling, which will keep him out of electoral fray for six years, RJD boss Lalu Prasad has made a resounding comeback on Bihar’s political stage.The man, who once lorded over Bihar, was pushed to the margins after the 2010 assembly elections when the NDA under incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar won an astounding four fifth majority in the 243-member assembly, winning 206 seats and restricting RJD to a paltry 22, its worst-ever tally. The once seemingly invincible RJD, with its massive Muslim-OBC votebank, was not even eligible for the Leader of Opposition’s post.If the 2005 polls marked the exit of the Lalu-Rabri duo from the hot seat, 2010 debacle appeared to have exacerbated the process of RJD’s marginalisation in state politics.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lalu’s conviction in a fodder scam case in 2013 came as a personal blow to him as it led to his immediate disqualification from the Lok Sabha and a ban from contesting an election at least for six years. The 2014 Lok Sabha election was a crucial test for the backward class leader which he was to lead as a non-playing captain for the first time. The results came as another jolt to RJD and Lalu, with the party managing to win only four of the state’s 40 seats.The successive defeats, however, carried seeds for a future reunion with friend-turned-foe Nitish Kumar, whose JD(U) had also been humiliated in the 2014 election, managing to win just two seats after parting ways with 17-year-old ally BJP in June 2013 over Narendra Modi’s anointment as the party’s campaign spearhead for last year’s LS polls.Acutely aware of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal charisma and BJP’s growing popularity in the state, they began cosying up to each other after the Lok Sabha debacle. With Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav playing the role of a peacemaker, the two backward class heavyweights resolved their differences and decided to contest the 2015 Bihar polls in tandem. Lalu, the wily practitioner of realpolitik, after initial reluctance, agreed to accepting Nitish Kumar as the grand alliance’s chief ministerial candidate.With he himself not eligible to contest elections, his wife Rabri Devi unwilling to return to the hurly burly of politics, and sons Tejaswi and Tej Pratap too young to handle the pressure that comes with the hot seat, Lalu declared Nitish Kumar will be the Chief Minister even if RJD won more seat than JD(U).When RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat suggested a review of the reservation policy in an interview to Sangh organs Organiser and Panchjanya, Lalu, one of the most enduring mascots of post-Mandal politics, was quick to pounce on it and raise an alarm about a move by the Narendra Modi government to scrap quotas. He repeated the charge, rally after election rally, and Modi’s counteroffensive about the grand alliance favouring a dilution of quotas for dalits, tribals and OBCs to give five per cent reservation to Muslims failed to cut much ice with the electorate.Lalu promptly declared the poll as ‘Mandal Raj Part II’ and a fight between the ‘backwards and forwards’, ensuring a rapid polarisation along caste lines, something which had kept RJD in power for 15 years in the politically volatile state.While there was an apparent consolidation of backward class and Muslim voters in grand alliance’s favour, the beef talk by the leaders of the NDA, particularly BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, failed to bring about a consolidation of Hindu votes in the favour of the centre’s ruling alliance.Of the 232 seats in the 243-member state assembly trends from where are available so far, Lalu’s RJD is leading the table with 77 seats and JD(U) 68. BJP was leading in 55 seats.Like the Lok Sabha polls in which his daughter Misa Bharti lost to his former protege Ram Kripal Yadav of BJP, his two sons Tejaswi and Tej Pratap are trailing from Raghopur and Mahua in Vaishali district.Personal losses notwithstanding, Lalu is set to become the king maker in Bihar, if not the king.

Bihar polls: Lalu’s politics is not outdated, he is still relevant, says social scientist Shaibal Gupta

Here is Shaibal Gupta, based in Patna, one of the most renowned social scientists in the country, explaining the importance of Bihar, the nature of its politics, caste equations and much more in an interview with Parth MN:

Lalu Yadav- Nitish Kumar- Jiten Ram Manjhi

The all-important Bihar elections is heading for a climax. The build up to the elections has been intense. Political parties have left no stone unturned with rallies and campaigns trying to cover every nook and corner of the state. Reporters across the country have flocked to Bihar, trying to gauge the direction in which the political wind is blowing. On November 8, the results will be out and, commentators say, it is most likely to resonate across the country.How is this election different from the earlier elections in Bihar?<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nitish and Lalu were never on the same side. Moreover, substantial number of the social justice system is in the rank of the NDA. Two pivotal colleagues of the social justice group, Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi, are with NDA. A dramatically new sort of political configuration has come up. We will have to see how that unfolds.On the whole, as per the reports I have received, the first two rounds went to the grand alliance. The next two went in favour of the NDA. Fifth will be the clincher.How crucial is the caste factor in this election?Caste is an important agenda in the context of Bihar. Historically there has not been a sub-national identity. There is either a caste identity or a national identity in Bihar. So caste has played an imperative role.How important was the Mohan Bhagwat comment of the need to revisit reservation?In Bihar, state is an important institution. In a society you need three things: State, civil society and market. Out of the three, corporate sector is not important here. Civil society is entitlement oriented. Effectively, you have a state. Therefore, entry and exit in the state is a very important matter. That is why the Mohan Bhagwat statement is important. On the question of revisiting reservation, people from the subaltern background are not well disposed to this agenda. That has created a problem and that has made the trajectory of the election agenda as forward-backward agenda.How acute is this consolidation of the OBCs, SC and ST? Is it a completely bipolar election or would the likes of Owaisi and Pappu Yadav play a role?Essentially, it is a two-way fight. There is an increasingly broadest possible social justice coalition getting consolidated behind the Grand Alliance. It is also true that whatever votes Pappu, Mulayam, Owaisi get, they will do so at the cost of Grand Alliance. Whether they will substantially do so, is anybody’s guess.There is a vertical split in Bihar today, like there was in the 90s during the Mandal Commission. How would you compare the two situations?There is no comparison. In the 90s, there was a broadest possible social justice coalition. It supported the Mandal. Today, the social justice constituency is fragmented. Large section is still with old social justice parties. But substantial section of the social justice party has switched over to the BJP. Though, they are not the true repository of the social justice movement in the country.Many say the Ranvir Sena was a reaction to Mandal Commission. Is there any need to alarmed given the vertical split in Bihar?Ranvir Sena was not primarily a reaction to Mandal Commission. It was formed due to rural unrest. It resulted primarily because the agricultural productivity had been going down and the input cost was increasing. One way to control cost was to target the agricultural labourer. Over and above, Mandal changed the social paradigm in the context of Bihar. The forward caste got marginalised and backward were at the help. That also contributed to the discord of Ranvir Sena.You had written that when lower caste leaders come together, it is called caste politics. But when the upper caste parties form an alliance, it is not. Can you elaborate? Even during Nehru’s period, social base of congress was Brahmin, Dalit and Muslim. Nobody talked of caste configuration then. Social base of Lalu is Muslim and Yadav, and his M-Y combination is spoken about all the time. That is my only objection. In India, whichever political parties fight elections, they have some principal social base. BJP has been conscience about caste as they have been co-opting caste into social engineering.It has not even been a year and a half since Nitish was wiped out in the 2014 general elections. But reports suggest he would most likely form the government. What changed in the last year and a half?It had become clear in the beginning that Nitish was not the Prime Ministerial candidate. Therefore, Bihar electorate did not have an option but to support Modi against Congress. Voters vote differently in the national election. It was more of an anti-congress vote than a pro-Modi vote. Plus, Nitish was not critical enough of the Congress and he could not en-cash the anti-incumbency. He thought he would get special category status, which the congress had promised. It was perceived he was siding with Congress. The anti-congress vote, therefore, went to Modi.If the Grand Alliance forms the government, is there any chance of conflict within the two parties? It is a tactical alliance after all. What do Nitish and Lalu need to do for the alliance to last five years?There can be a conflict. But they will work out a Common Minimum Program. Immediately after this election, they will start preparing for the parliamentary elections, which they will not be able to fight on their own unless there is a broadest possible national coalition. They will have to contend with number of assembly elections as well. Their hands will be full.Do you think there is chance of the likes of Mamta and Kejriwal joining the ranks and forming a grander alliance?It is possible. The non-saffron forces could come together to stop the BJP and Modi juggernaut.If Nitish becomes the Chief Minister, what would be his primary challenge?The primary challenge will be to continue with the work he has done and consolidate. These are in the realm of, I call them ‘provided’. He has been providing things. The critical question will be to what extent will he be able to enable the state. Will it be possible to enable the state without land reform? Will it be possible to enable the state without strengthening the backward linkages of education as well as the forward linkages of education? For the knowledge economy, one needs to invigorate the education society.Has Nitish’s image taken a hit for tying up with Lalu?Brand of Nitish Kumar is different. Whatever brand that Nitish has been able to make for himself, will definitely get affected. But Lalu’s image must have gone high as well. Even when his wife and kids are there, he has promoted Nitish. In the process, Lalu will reinvent his image. Politically there is no difference between Nitish and Lalu. Both are products of the same political movement. There is a cultural difference. Nitish is organised, Lalu is not. Nitish is man of governance. Lalu is man of masses.The media reports regarding Lalu suggest he is a discredited leader. But the ground reality palpably indicates otherwise. Why does Lalu’s charm still endure despite his tenure being referred as the Jungle Raj?When we say jungle raj, we must ask who the listener is. The poor and marginal may not consider the period jungle raj. Lalu was the leader of the broadest possible social justice coalition in India. He should not be given credit single handedly, though. In Bihar, there has been a history of socialist movement, communist movement, naxalite movement. It is different matter that at a critical juncture Lalu was at the centre stage. Even when he was convicted and went to jail, he got more votes than Nitish in parliamentary election. It indicates the solid social base support he enjoys. He democratised the electoral politics of Bihar. That is why his image is not sullied by the fact he went to jail. But in the process the state structure completely collapsed. Nitish resurrected the state. He gave authority to the state. Now this combination will be a lethal combination in the context of Bihar.After 2010, there were talks of Lalu’s politics being past its prime. Is his politics outdated?I do not think his politics is outdated. He is still relevant. The social justice, social liberation movement is not yet completed in Bihar. Until and unless the process gets completed, persons like Lalu will survive. The critical question is whether Lalu and Nitish will graduate the state from state centric development to market centric development.Irrespective of the results, would you concede that BJP came to centre-stage in Bihar? Three major parties coming together to stall one, did it not increase the BJP’s stature?It is the other way round. Because they are important, the three parties had to collaborate. BJP has not yet reached its peak in Bihar. It was expected it would do so this time around but the indications are otherwise. Nonetheless, BJP has become an important party in Bihar.How would this election resonate in the national context?If the BJP loses, Narendra Modi’s authority will decrease. Critics within the party might pounce on him. The other day, Arun Shourie said jo kursi pe baithte hai apne aap ko khuda samajhte hai.The reform agenda of the centre will be affected as well because of the upper house seats. More importantly, Bihar experiment, if it succeeds, might be replicated in other states.

RSS seeks review of country’s population policy

Briefing the press on the resolution adopted by the RSS, its Sah-Sarakaryavah Krishna Gopal said the religion data of Census 2011 highlighted the necessity of the review of population policy.

The RSS on Saturday sought a review of population policy in the country in the wake of “severe demographic changes” found in the religion data of Census 2011.Expressing concern over the ‘demographic imbalances’, the RSS Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal passed a resolution urging the Centre to reformulate the National Population Policy keeping in view the availability of resources in the country, future needs and the ‘problem of demographic imbalance.’ The resolution, a copy of which was released to the media here, also asked for a total curb on infiltration from across the border, preparation of National Register of Citizens and preventing these infiltrators from acquiring citizenship rights and purchasing land.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Briefing the press on the resolution adopted by the RSS, its Sah-Sarakaryavah Krishna Gopal said the religion data of Census 2011 highlighted the necessity of the review of population policy.Quoting the resolution, Krishna Gopal said that although India was one of the early countries in the world to announce as early as 1952 that it will have population planning measures, it was only in 2000 that a comprehensive population policy was formulated and a population commission was formed.

Illegal Bangladeshi migrants: RSS fears rise of ‘foreign’ population, seeks debate on Hazarika Commission report

The RSS would extensively delve upon “imbalance of population growth” during its three-day Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal Baithak (executive committee meeting) beginning here tomorrow and a resolution might be taken in this context, Vaidya said.

“If the trend continues then population of Indians would be reduced and foreigners would be increased,” RSS’ Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said at a press conference. (PTI)

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The RSS on Thursday sought a countrywide debate over the Upamanyu Hazarika Commission’s report that illegal migration from Bangladesh is threatening to reduce the indigenous population of Assam to a minority by the year 2047. “Recently, the Hazarika Commission report has given a startling information about changing demographic situation in Assam and Bengal. If the trend continues then population of Indians would be reduced and foreigners would be increased,” RSS’ Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said at a press conference here. There should be a country-wide debate in this regard, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The RSS would extensively delve upon “imbalance of population growth” during its three-day Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal Baithak (executive committee meeting) beginning here tomorrow and a resolution might be taken in this context, Vaidya said. RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat is in Ranchi to attend the meeting.The one-man Hazarika commission, set up by Supreme Court on India-Bangladesh boundary, had submitted its report with a recommendation that the apex court order a high-powered enquiry into issues concerning illegal migration from Bangladesh which is threatening to reduce the indigenous population of Assam to a minority by 2047. The Supreme Court has directed the Central and Assam governments to respond to the recommendations for hearing on November 5.

Swami Agnivesh and Hussain Dalwai call recent caste and communal atrocities government failure

Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra Hussain Dalwai and social activist Swami Agnivesh on Friday spoke out against the recent spate of caste and communal atrocities in the country, condemning the lack of government action to check them.Dalwai, a member of the Congress party and convenor of an informal group of Muslims in Parliament, linked the murders of rationalists and writers, the attacks on Muslims and Dalits, as signs of growing hatred in the country, calling it a government failure. He brought up cases of attacks in Maharashtra, which hadn’t made the news the way the Dadri lynching in Uttar Pradesh, the burning of Dalit children in Sunped Haryana, the death of Kashmiri truck driver in Udhampur, for example, did.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Their condemnation of rising intolerance and violence came on a day when yet another Dalit boy died in Haryana under mysterious circumstances, writers who returned their Sahitya Akademi awards went on a march and students in Delhi were lathi-charged while protesting the rollback of non NET UGC scholarships.”Since the Mandal Commission, Hindutva has increased,” he said, “as even back then LK Advani has said that they would retaliate against those who benefited from Mandal.”Both he and Agnivesh criticised the BJP government for appearing to condemn such violence by their top leaders, while their own men acted differently on the ground.”Instead of development, they are tearing the society apart,” said Dalwai. “Those who kill rationalists can’t be touched, as they are protected. Anyone who speaks out has their face blackened with ink.Agnivesh added that this “politics of polarisation” started in the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, and has continued. The results of which, he said, could be seen all over the country. “RSS has set the agenda, and its associated groups are carrying it out,”said Agnivesh.”We thought, when the Prime Minister gave his first speech from Red Fort, against communal and caste atrocities, that he was serious about change,”he continued, “but what he says and what happens is very different.”Agnivesh gave a personal example, of how the Hindu Mahasabha had, in April this year, called him a traitor and announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to those who would bring them his head. “When I called the Haryana CM, Manohar Lal Khattar, he said he didn’t know anything,” said Agnivesh, “even though it had been reported in the media. Till now nothing has happened.Both however, called for an end to cow slaughter, saying it had no place in India. They did add that the answer to cow slaughter could never be violence against people. “If you see a cow being slaughtered complain to the police,” said Agnivesh.

Telangana: Eight farmers commit suicide due to crop failure, debt

The age of the farmers ranged from 30 to 55 years.

Representational Image

The number of farmers’ committing suicide in Telangana is increasing. Eight more farmers committed suicide due to crop failure and debt on Monday. A report in Deccan Chronicle states that five farmers were from Nalgonda district. One was a cotton farmer who hanged himself while three farmers from Kanagal Mandal, Alair Mandal and Sadashivanagar Mandal drank poison. Two farmers from Mogullapalli mandal and Pebbair mandal also hung themselves.The age of the farmers ranged from 30 to 55 years.

Mumbai: Domestic help held in Rs 32 lakh theft case

The accused has been identified as Chanchal alias Ajay Mandal, 25, a native of Madhubani district in Bihar.
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dna Research & Archives
Property Cell of the crime branch arrested a man who had allegedly committed theft of gold and diamond studded ornaments worth Rs32.10 lakh from the residence of a businessman at Peddar Road in May this year. The accused — who worked as a domestic help at the complainant’s house — told the police that he has kept the stolen items at his native place in Bihar. The accused has been identified as Chanchal alias Ajay Mandal, 25, a native of Madhubani district in Bihar. According to the police, complainant NS Gupta, 46, stays at Nalanda co-operative housing society at Peddar Road with his family.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In April, this year, Gupta had placed advertisements in regional newspapers stating he wanted a domestic help. Mandal then contacted Gupta and wished to work for him. He was then kept at work from April 23. On May 19, Gupta had left for Udaipur with his wife and children, leaving behind his parents and Mandal. Around 8 am, Gupta’s parents left for a walk and on returning home around 11 am, they found the accused was not at home. They then informed Gupta about the same over phone, police said. Gupta and his family returned home from Udaipur on May 21. The next day, when Gupta’s wife checked her safe in the bedroom she found it’s lock was broken. The couple then lodged a complaint with the police stating that Mandal had stolen the gold and diamond studded ornaments worth Rs 32.10 lakh from their residence. “On Saturday we were informed by the officers of the property cell that they have picked up Mandal, who was wanted in our case. We then took Mandal’s custody from them. During interrogation Mandal admitted of having committed the crime and claimed that he has kept the stolen property at his Madhubani residence. We will soon send a team to Bihar to recover the stolen property,” said an officer from Gamdevi police station. Mandal has been booked under section 381 of the Indian Penal Code for theft by clerk or servant of a property in possession of master.

Vyapam: Police file charge sheet against prime accused Pankaj Trivedi

On January 29 last year, Lokayukta police had raided his place in Indore and Bhopal and found wealth allegedly amassed by him disproportionate to known sources of his income. Following this, he was booked under Prevention of Corruption Act.

Lokayukta police on Thursay filed a charge sheet in a special court against Pankaj Trivedi, one of the prime accused in the Vyapam scam. Trivedi is a fomer controller of examination of Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam).The special court also served a production warrant against Trivedi to facilitate his personal appearance before it on October 19. Special Judge B K Paloda accepted the plea of Lokayukta police stating that personal appearance of Trivedi, who is currently lodged in Bhopal jail, in the court, will expedite his prosecution. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On January 29 last year, Lokayukta police had raided his place in Indore and Bhopal and found wealth allegedly amassed by him disproportionate to known sources of his income. Following this, he was booked under Prevention of Corruption Act.According to a prosecution officer, he had accummulated wealth to the tune of around Rs 84 lakh which include movable and immovable properties. Trivedi, along with others, had allegedly pocketed huge money as bribes from hundreds of students and people for helping them to crack the Pre Medical Tests (PMTs) and other recruitment tests conducted by Vyapam or MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) unlawfully.Trivedi, along with others, had allegedly rigged many PMT and recruitment tests under Vyapam scam. The much-talked about Vyapam scam is being investigated by CBI following an apex court s order.

Andhra Pradesh: Three TDP leaders held captive by Naxals in Visakhapatnam

Hyderabad: Three local Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders have been held captive allegedly by Naxals in Visakhapatnam district, police said on Tuesday.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Naxals through their network had asked the three TDP leaders to meet them at Dharkonda in the district on Monday afternoon and accordingly they went, Visakhapatnam district Superintendent of Police K Praveen told PTI over phone.

“Only on the assurance by the Naxals that the leaders won’t be harmed, TDP’s GK Veedhi Mandal President M Balaiah and two other local leaders – M Mahesh and V Balaiah – went to meet them. Now, they have been held captive,” the SP said.

Police received information regarding it on Monday night.

“We have verified (the information). The only possibility is the Maoists will take them in the deep interior forest area towards the border of East Godavari district…we are waiting for Maoists to put forth their demands (for release of TDP leaders),” Praveen added.

It is suspected that the Naxals resorted to hold them hostage to protest the mining of Bauxite in the area.

PTI

Amid battle of titans, a Bhagalpur riot survivor in fray stokes old wounds

Traces of the Bhagalpur riots reflect in the bitterness of victims, who are disillusioned with all parties saying they have not got adequate compensation.

Bashar Ali was 15 when he saw members of his family and neighbours killed in the 1989 Bhagalpur riots. After battling for the victims for over 25 years, he has plunged into politics joining the CPI-ML to fight the assembly elections. Traces of the Bhagalpur riots reflect in the bitterness of victims, who are disillusioned with all parties saying they have not got adequate compensation. At Parbatti, where Ali and around 10 other Muslim families lived, there is a row of multi-storey lodges now owned by mostly Yadavs. As the Zhuhr prayer echoes over Parbatti, the only visible signs that Muslims lived in the locality are an imambara and a graveyard.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Muslims had fled Parbatti in fear, selling their land cheap. Ali’s father had sold his 3,000 square feet house for Rs1.25 lakh. The anger among the Muslims against the Yadavs is palpable. Yet, the Muslims and Yadavs may end up voting together for the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad Yadav-Congress mahagathbandhan. Those living in the locality are mostly Godhis, a fisherman community belonging to the extremely backward class (EBC), who are likely to back the BJP. The mahagathbandhan has put up Congress’s Ajit Sharma, the sitting MLA, while BJP-led NDA’s candidate is Ashwini Choubey’s son Arijit Shaswat. However, BJP’s old hand Vijay Sah, whom Choubey had made town president, has entered the fray, queering the pitch for the party. The BJP made efforts to bring Sah around, a senior party leader said. In the fight between the two formidable alliances in an election dominated by caste dynamics, Ali, the candidate of the six-party Left Front, is likely to end up as just an also-ran. Ali is counting on the sympathy of the 1,000-1,200 riot affected people in the riots which took 1,000 lives of which 900 were Muslims, the weavers’ woes and the anti-Lalu, anti-BJP sentiments. As in every election, the ghosts of Bhagalpur riots have returned to haunt this second most populous city of Bihar. Javed, a riot victim who had lost 12 members of his family in Parbatti and now lives in a room with his family in Shajangi area along with some other riot-affected families, said he will back Ali in his futile fight. Both Ali and Javed complain that Nitish Kumar promised compensation and pension but it has not reached the victims. “Till today we have not got justice… Since Nitish Kumar’s alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav, he has also gone silent on compensation for the victims,” Ali said. The Justice NN Singh headed inquiry commission set up by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to look into the riots has blamed the Congress, which was in power then in the state, it’s leaders and central government headed by Rajiv Gandhi. Nitish Kumar’s JD-U is now in an alliance with Congress.After the riots, the BJP has been winning the Bhagalpur assembly seat. It was in last year’s by-poll held because Choubey vacated the seat after winning the Lok Sabha election from Buxar, that Congress won defeating BJP’s Nabhay Kumar Choudhary.In the Lok Sabha election, BJP’s sitting MP Shahnawaz Hussain lost the seat to RJD’s Bulo Mandal, who is a Gangota, an EBC caste living on the banks of the Ganga. Mandal wrested the backing of the Gangotas. While the Gangotas constitute nearly 20 per cent of the seat’s electorate, there are around 18 per cent Muslims and 12 per cent Yadavs. The BJP’s traditional vote bank of upper castes and traders constitute 20 per cent. Locals say some unruly elements also try to create tension between communities ahead of polls. Recently a dead pig was found in a mosque, but by and large the people of Bhagalpur have been living in peaceful co-existence. As Javed puts it, “it’s not any community but a few who vitiate the atmosphere.”

452 jail inmates to appear for Peace Exam on Gandhi Jayanti

The Mandal, in association with other Gandhian institutions, is organising the Gandhi Peace Examination for last 10 years in various jails of Maharashtra as part of reformation programmes for prisoners.

Representational Image

Altogether 452 inmates of Taloja, Nagpur and Aurangabad jails in Maharashtra would appear for an examination on Gandhian thoughts on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. “The preacher of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, devoted his life for spreading non-violence and he proved that it is an effective weapon. He spent six and a half years of his life in jail. He utilised this time to develop his qualities. “Years after his departure, his thoughts are seen prevailing in the society and also in the prisons where the inmates are undergoing imprisonment as a result of violent anger that lasts only a fraction of minutes,” T K Somaiya of Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Mandal, in association with other Gandhian institutions, is organising the Gandhi Peace Examination for last 10 years in various jails of Maharashtra as part of reformation programmes for prisoners, he said in a release. “The result has been inspiring. The aim of the examination is to evoke the sense of regret among prisoners and to inculcate qualities of ‘Satya’ (truth) and ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence) amongst them,” he added.Convicted for a number of crimes in 2005, Laxman Gole has been preaching Gandhi’s views among prisoners in jails all over Maharashtra through Sarvodaya Mandal. “Books written by Mahatma Gandhi and his thoughts are made available to the inmates free of cost. “We shall conduct an examination of 80 marks in which the inmates would have to answer 80 objective type questions. Those who pass the exam will receive Certificate and Khadi clothes as a prize,” Gole said.

Are Hardik Patel and Mohan Bhagwat on the same page about reservations?

Hardik Patel and Mohan Bhagwat

“Get rid of reservation or make everyone its slave”. Quotas have been used for political purposes and a review is necessary by creating an expert committee. The first is a quote by Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar community, who is currently making waves in Gujarat. The second is a gist of what RSS Chief Mohan Bhagawat said in an interview to his party mouthpiece, on the relevance of reservations in India and the way ahead.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The use of reservation as a means of affirmative action, especially when it is caste-based in nature, has ignited passionate debate in India for years. From way back in 1902, when it first formally started in Kolhapur, reservation in some form or other has existed in India. The founding fathers institutionalised it as part of the Constitution, enabling reservation of 15% for Scheduled Castes and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes in government services and educational institutions.Later, as per recommendations of the Mandal Commission, 27% reservation was extended to people from Other Backward Castes (OBC). In the last 30 years, in the post-Mandal era, voices of resentment against reservation, especially based on caste, have steadily increased. The India Against Reservation movement in 2006 was one of the seminal points in the entire debate, where it was almost like a clash of the civilisation- doctors from AIIMS, budding engineers from IITs were up in arms against the extension of reservation policies for OBCs in educational institutions.Caste-based reservation seeks to amend the centuries of injustice done to the those castes who were termed as lower than the rest and forced to lead a life of ignominy. The societal faultlines are considerably mellow now, but they still exist. From reports of dalits not being allowed in temples, being shunned from drinking water from tubewells or violence against them, the evil shadow of caste is still a reality, especially in rural India. Yet, the argument against caste-based reservation has been that benefactors are often those perched at the top of the societal order and those who actually need help still end up losing out. This has given rise to a debate for providing reservations on the basis of economic considerations.For RSS, the ideological mentor of BJP, caste-based reservation poses a different threat. The organisation seeks to unite Hindus under one umbrella, a potent force to enforce its vision of social engineering. The seamless identity of all Hindus united towards one common goal or allegiance to a parent organisation is challenged when tales of centuries of oppression on certain sections rear their heads. After Mandal messiahs like Lalu and Mulayam got their fair share of votes from SCs and OBCs, the dalits have been united, especially in Uttar Pradesh, under the banner of Mayawati-led BSP. Now the likes of Owaisi are trying to force a coalition of Muslims and dalits, portraying it as a front of backward communities in society.The argument of economic parameters to determine reservation is to essentially appeal to the neo-middle class section of the polity- an important class of voters for RSS- BJP, and a group that voted in large numbers for Narendra Modi in 2014. As it stands now, the 27% reservation for OBCs is given on the basis of the Census done way back in 1932, because no further data is available. Repeated pleas to release the caste-based data of the 2011 Census has gone unanswered. The RJD in Bihar has particularly raised the issue prior to the state elections. Many experts believe that the government is reluctant, as it may let the proverbial genie out of the bottle- the percentage of OBCs in India might be well above 27% now, which may give rise to a more fervent demand for greater reservation.Mohan Bhagwat’s demand for a relook into the entire quota policy has to be examined in this context. But where does it leave the likes of Hardik Patel? If one carefully reads between the lines of what the 22 year-old is saying, he is not exactly pro-reservation. He is more against reservation for a particular caste. He has a binary 0-1 approach to this – either it should be for all or it shouldn’t exist for anyone. This is a view which finds resonance with a large section of urban upper- middle class citizens (who mostly come from privileged or atleast non-discriminatory backgrounds), and guess which party gets the chunk of their votes!It begs the question – are the likes of Hardik Patel simply trial balloons to a larger game-plan? His story almost looks too fanciful to be true, a 22-year-old leading a massive movement against the ruling party, in a saffron bastion. In state after state, if economically well-off communities start demanding reservation, it can completely change the face of Indian politics and dismantle the concept of societal justice and equality as we know now. Is this a method of fear mongering, is something that needs closer introspection.Interestingly, in Maharashtra, BJP had no qualms in continuing the quota privilege for Marathas, even after the High Court said they are not backward. The BJP in its part, has dissociated from Bhagwat’s comments, saying that the party is in favour of continuing reservations. As a party which is trying to replace Congress as the natural party of governance on a pan India scale, it can’t be seen as discriminatory or against societal upliftment of the poor and downtrodden. But once a discussion starts on Track 2, it is not too difficult to streamline it . BJP’s modus operandi in many controversial issues like Article 370 etc has been to start a discussion first to test the waters, before making a move. Many believe that on the issues of net-neutrality and encryption policy, it did the same thing, before backing out, sensing social media backlash. The saffron party has in past election manifestos, already promised conditional economic reservation. Is that plan completely in the deep freezer? Only the wise men of Nagpur can answer that.

Lalbaugcha Raja 2015 live streaming: Take Bappa’s live darshan

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Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has been organising Ganesh Chaturthi since 1934 and is known as Lalbaugcha Raja not just in Mumbai but across India. Lakhs of devotees stand in long queues for hours to see the idol in Mumbai. We share with you a video of the Lalbaugcha Raja 2015 Ganpati idol. Take Bappa’s live darshan sitting at home or on the move:

Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal has been organising Ganesh Chaturthi since 1934 and is known as Lalbaugcha Raja not just in Mumbai but across India. Lakhs of devotees stand in long queues for hours to see the idol in Mumbai. We share with you a video of the Lalbaugcha Raja 2015 Ganpati idol. Take Bappa’s live darshan sitting at home or on the move:Watch Lalbaugcha Raja live!<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also Read: Planning to visit Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesha this year? Here are some traffic regulations you must know

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TMC leader Anubrata Mandal threatens to gouge out eyes of Left supporters

This is not the first time that Mandal has made such a remark.

Youtube Grab
Trinamool Congress leader and party president of West Bengal’s Birbhum district, Anubrata Mandal, stirred yet another controversy by saying that he will gouge out eyes of the CPM supporters. “If CPM supporters gives us a red-eyed look, we will also give them a red-eyed look. If they continue to do so, we will gouge out their eyes,” said Mandal on Sunday while addressing a party supporters meet in Burdwan. Two months ago, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and first-time Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee had made a similar remark. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If anyone looks at West Bengal with evil intentions, we will gouge their eyes out and throw them on the road; if they raise their hands, we’ll cut their arms off. But in a democracy, the will of the people is the last word. I don’t want anyone to be harmed,” Banerjee had said. This is not the first time that Mandal has made such a remark. Last year, during Panchayat elections in the state, he had reportedly asked Trinamool Congress supporters to burn down houses of independent candidates. He had even gone to the extent of asking his supporters to launch bomb attacks on police if they come to the rescue of independent candidates.

Jhabua blast: Congress targets CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan; accuses him of ‘misuse of power’

The state police have booked Rajendra Kasawa and a manhunt to arrest him is on for storing a huge pile of explosives for mining work in a building which triggered off a series of explosions killing 89 people and injuring over 100 at Petlawad town there.

Damaged motorcycles lying near a collapsed restaurant where a cooking gas cylinder exploded in Petlawad town in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday.

AFP photo
Alleging that deadly blast in Jhabua occurred as a local BJP leader was allowed to store explosives in a busy area against the rules, Congress today came down heavily on Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for “complete abuse and misuse of power”.Asking the Chief Minister what action he has taken against the culprits, it alleged that Madhya Pradesh under his rule is turning into a “multi-killings and multi-deaths state” and cited the Vyapam scam.”We have no words strong enough to express our anger, frustration and deep sadness over around 100 deaths in Jhabua. This has very serious ramifications. How did it happen? The district head of BJP’s Vyapar Mandal (traders’ body) is running an explosive factory in the heart of the busy town. Would he be allowed to do so by the local authorities if he had not been a BJP leader?,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added after “ignoring” deaths in Vyapam scam, this killing of around 100 persons has happened under Chouhan’s rule and asked him to stop alleged “political patronage” in such cases.The state police have booked Rajendra Kasawa and a manhunt to arrest him is on for storing a huge pile of explosives for mining work in a building which triggered off a series of explosions killing 89 people and injuring over 100 at Petlawad town there.Congress communication department chief Randeep Surjewala said it was a case of criminal negligence and said Chouhan’s actions will be a test of his governance.”Blast in Jhabua is the most gruesome incident of murder of unsuspecting people due to criminal negligence! “Will Shivraj Chauhan wake up and order registration of case of murder by negligence and judicial inquiry by a sitting High court judge or protect the suspect because he is reportedly an office bearer of BJP? Therein lies the test of governance,” he tweeted.Madya Pradesh Congress chief Arun Yadav said on Twitter.”The house in which all the explosives were stacked was of a local BJP leader. Therefore no outrage. The guy is absconding and no case yet. As per the preliminary reports, there was no cylinder explosion. It actually happened in the godown itself where the explosives were stored. The administration relaxed the strict laws related to storage of explosives because the accused is a BJP leader. Shame!”In another tweet, he alleged, “The prime accused BJP leader Rajendra Kasawa used the rented space 2 illegally store the explosives. He took it in the name of storing seeds.” Singhvi asked the Chief Minister what action he had taken in the matter.”What action you have taken against the administration, which allowed this. What action have you taken against the District President of your Vyapar Mandal. Is it not a complete abuse and misuse of political power?,” he asked.

Coming full circle on reservations: Why Patels’ OBC status demand should worry India

By Ashish Mehta

In 1974, students of an engineering college in Ahmedabad protested a fee hike. They came out on the streets, and they started receiving widespread support in the backdrop of runaway inflation and an allegedly corrupt state government of Chimanbhai Patel. In no time, the protests snowballed into a state-wide agitation, called Navnirman Andolan. Wikipedia claims this to be the only protest of its kind to have led to the fall of a government. Jayaprakash Narayan, who visited Gujarat then, took inspiration from it for his Total Revolution movement, and soon it was time for the Emergency.

If, as JP saw it, what happened in Gujarat was the precursor to what was going to happen elsewhere in India, then the country’s focus today should be on the Patel – or Patidar – community’s big rally in Ahmedabad on Tuesday to press for OBC status.

PTI imagePTI image

The Patel community rally in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. PTI image

If you go hunting for a house in any upscale residential area of Ahmedabad or any other city in Gujarat, the broker will tell you with an element of pride that only “Patels, Baniya and Brahmins” are allowed in the housing colony. Patels, in other words, are right at the top of the social hierarchy. But they have had enough of the forward-caste status. Now they want to be backward, and they have been holding peaceful rallies, attended by lakhs, since July to push for it.

It is an irony of our times that the politically, socially and economically dominant community of a state is demanding backward status. It also brings full circle what happened in 1985 – one of the three events that changed politics in Gujarat (the other two being 1974 and 2002).

In the early 1980s, the Congress government, led by inimitable Madhavsinh Solanki, decided to implement quota for the socially and economically backward castes (SEBCs), equivalent to what was to be called other backward classes (OBCs) later, under the Mandal Commission. The upper castes in Gujarat, especially Patels, were not happy with it. The quota decision, and the Patel opposition to it, was in a way an expression of the larger equation: Solanki had come to power with his famous KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslims) formula. Patels, the traditional land-owning, rich-farmer community (constituting 15 percent of Gujarat’s population, going by the last caste census of 1931), was peeved at being sidelined.

Pride is the first characteristic of a Patel in Gujarati literature. At the village level, their word usually is final. The village head is called Patel, regardless of his community. The two chief ministers immediately before Solanki were Patels.

Upper castes, led by Patels, began protesting and this snowballed into a statewide violent agitation in March 1985, somewhat like what we have seen in the past month. This led to caste riots in Ahmedabad and other cities, with record-breaking long curfews in parts of the walled city. With the Congress on one side and a nascent BJP on the other, it turned into a communal riot, which went on for months. This finally led to Solanki’s fall, and the rise of BJP – first in the Ahmedabad municipal corporation and later in the state assembly.

Thirty years later, the state government’s position is the same. The BJP, banking on the non-KHAM sections – that is, the upper castes, came to power; and its first chief minister, no wonder, was a Patel – Keshubhai. When he lost popularity and had to go in 2001, his replacement was an OBC leader who could deliver what Patels and other upper castes wanted back then: market-oriented, growth-centric administration. They have been largely happy, notwithstanding some small-scale protests,  which Narendra Modi quelled effectively. On his departure, the next chief minister was a Patel, and the community should be content. It is not.

Today, in seeking reservation in education and government jobs, the young Patels do not realise this, but they are effectively rejecting all the arguments against the affirmative action their fathers and uncles made 30 years ago. Back then, we used to be asked if one would ever go to a doctor who got admission to a medical college under a quota. Merit was the clinching argument. Today, the socially dominant community of an economically advanced state does not see any merit in the argument, and is joining the queue for quotas.

If what is happening in Gujarat can be taken as indication of what the nation will see tomorrow, then instead of a rethink on quota, we have a consolidation of quota coming up. Because, a large section of the middle class, it seems, wants the state to take care of their education and jobs.

As for the immediate political fallout of the Patel protests, it remains to be seen how Anandiben Patel responds to the situation – especially when the OBCs too are uniting to hold their own counter rallies. Two of her predecessors, Chimanbhai and Solanki, failed despite their famed political acumen.

The simple course of action would be to form a committee to study the demand, which should take the wind out of the agitation. No matter what the committee recommends, the backwardness is defined by a set of criteria, and it is not an executive’s prerogative. A Supreme Court bench in March this year did strike down the UPA government’s decision to grant OBC status to the Jats.

The writer is Executive Editor, Governance Now

NGT raps NTCA for delaying reply in NH7 widening case

During the hearing, on Monday, the NTCA failed to file a reply and none of their officer was present, even as the NGT bench had verbally asked them to be present. The bench also continued its stay on felling trees for the project.

The Delhi bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) rapped the National Tiger Conservation Authroity (NTCA) and warned that an arrest warrant will be issued against its member secretary, for not filing a reply in the case pertaining to widening of NH7 through the critical tiger habitat spread across Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. In the previous hearing of the case on July 3, NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar had given the NTCA and MoEFCC a period of ten days to file replies on the issue of tree felling for NH7. NH7, that connects Varanasi to Kanyakumari across 2,369 kms, is the longest national highway in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During the hearing, on Monday, the NTCA failed to file a reply and none of their officer was present, even as the NGT bench had verbally asked them to be present. The bench also continued its stay on felling trees for the project. Earlier, the NGT had clearly indicated that the a delay in filing replies is not the fault of NGT and the respondents will be held accountable for the same. Even as 24 days were allowed to file a reply, the NTCA did not file one. The counsel for NTCA, Vikas Malhotra and MP Sahay could not initially answer the Tribuna’s query as to why they had failed to reply. They replied that the NTCA’s draft reply was pending with the MoEFCC. The NGT bench asked the member secretary NTCA to be personally present for the next hearing and warned, that an arrest warrant will be issued against the member secretary NTCA for failing to file its reply in a time bound manner. The NGT bench was hearing the petition filed by three non-governmental organisations, Srushti Paryavaran Mandal, Nature Conservation Society of Amravati and Conservation Action Trust, Mumbai. The NGOs are opposing the widening of NH7 on a 60km stretch between Mansar in Maharashtra and Rukhad in Madhya Pradesh, that is considered one of the best landscapes for tigers in the country and is located near the eco-senstivie zone of Pench Tiger Reserve. An estimated 15,000-17,000 trees each will have to be felled in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh for the project. The widening of NH7 has courted a lot of controversy as the MoEFCC has also rejected Wildlife Institute of India’s mitigation proposal, of building overpasses for smooth movement of wildlfie. Instead of building overpasses, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has now decided to only build underpasses for movement of widlife. NGOs against wideningThe NGT bench was hearing the petition filed by three non-governmental organisations, Srushti Paryavaran Mandal, Nature Conservation Society of Amravati and Conservation Action Trust, Mumbai. The NGO’s are opposing the widening of NH7 on a 60km stretch between Mansar in Maharashtra and Rukhad in Madhya Pradesh, that is considered one of the best landscapes for tigers in the country and is located near the eco-senstivie zone of Pench Tiger Reserve. An estimated 15,000-17,000 trees each will have to be felled in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh for the project.

BJP cannot afford to fail electors on ‘core’ temple issue: VHP

Citing BJP’s manifesto, which mentions the Ram Temple among its core issues, the Hindu outfit said it was sure the party would not like to face the next election with the “failure tag”.

Stepping up pressure for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Vishwa Hindu Parishad has said the ruling BJP at the Centre cannot afford to fail its electors on the “core issue” and must deliver on it.Citing BJP’s manifesto, which mentions the Ram Temple among its core issues, the Hindu outfit said it was sure the party would not like to face the next election with the “failure tag”. VHP, however, said it has no reason to doubt the intentions of BJP on delivering on the core issues, including the temple. “Ram Temple is BJP’s core issue. No student can pass an examination unless he answers the core questions. The student may answer six general questions, but if he doesn’t answer four core questions in the paper, he will fail.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We don’t think the BJP will like to face its electors with the tag of failure, having done nothing about the Ram Temple. We have no reason to doubt their intentions. We are sure the party will within these four years find a way to resolve the Ram Mandir issue,” VHP joint general secretary Surender Jain told PTI. Asked what gave him the confidence that the issue would be resolved when BJP President Amit Shah had recently said the party lacked the majority needed to address the matter, Jain said it stemmed from the fact that the leader himself described Ram Temple as a core issue.”BJP president in the same press conference said Ram Temple is a core issue. Political parties can’t afford to ignore core issues because voters want not just development but equally the resolution of disputes related to their faith. We are sure the BJP will address the Temple issue. It will have to,” Jain said.VHP had recently asked the government to “clear hurdles” in the path of construction of the temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. The Hindu outfit’s ‘Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal’, a body of top religious leaders, had resolved at its recent meeting in Hardwar that a delegation of saints would be formed to take up the matter with the government so that impediments are removed.”The Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal has resolved that a delegation of saints would establish contact with the Union government and hold talks with it to clear hurdles in the way of Ram Temple construction,” a VHP statement stated. VHP’s Margdarshak Mandal is again meeting in Maharashtra later this month and is likely to further deliberate on the issue.

SECC 2011: Why we are headed for Mandal 2 and more quotas before 2019

One of the stupidest things Manmohan Singh did was to superimpose a caste census on to a socio-economic census. The 2011 Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC 2011) is being released in dribs and drabs, and the Modi government is seen to be hesitating over the release of the caste part of it, with the Vice-Chairman of Niti Aayog now mandated to make sense of it all.

Given the vociferous way in which OBC politicians are demanding the latest caste data, clearly they believe the time for Mandal 2 has arrived: this means there will be demands for more reservations and quotas in education and government jobs. OBC politicians believe that SECC 2011 will show a higher proportion of OBCs in the population, which means their vote banks have swelled even as they deliver less governance and development. This opens the door to more caste-based politics. This is why Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are singing the same duet on SECC 2011, even though they have struck discordant notes on other issues.

But, in another way, you could also call SECC 2011 a stroke of Manmohan Singh’s genius. Now that you will know both a person’s caste and his socio-economic status, it could potentially give reformers the ammo to include cutoff points for excluding people from all castes from receiving reservation and welfare benefits. But that needs political gumption, and no politician has that in sufficient quantity these days. So Mandal 2 is the more likely outcome.

Reuters.Reuters.

Reuters.

The best solution to the problem of socio-economic deprivation is universal access to good quality education and fast-paced growth. But since this does not happen, the second-best option of affirmative action and quotas should be on the basis of socio-economic status, and not caste. By putting caste into the equation of backwardness, we have created a mess whereby affirmative action is often wrongly targeted. The undeserving get it, and the truly deserving may be excluded, since the better off in each caste have stronger clout.

Caste-based reservations also have a way of perpetuating themselves. Once put in place, they are never reversed for fear of alienating those who benefit from it.

Consider the impact of the Mandal Commission. Set up in 1979 to figure out how many castes were backward and in need of affirmative action by the state beyond SC/STs, it came up with a list of 1,257 castes and communities – about 52 percent of the population – and classified them as OBCs (other backward classes). But three-and-a-half decades later, the OBC list has nearly doubled, not shrunk, even after the reservations. There are now more than 2,300 castes and communities qualifying as OBCs.

One can bet that Manmohan Singh’s SECC 2011 will show further accretions to the size of the OBC population and the number of castes seeking to be listed as backward.

There are two reasons for this.

First, the British-era caste census of 1931, on which Mandal based his recommendations, was not intended to offer welfare benefits. This time it is. So more castes will seek to classify themselves as backward, unlike 1931, when people wanted to up their actual caste origins to gain status. This time we could see more caste downgrades.

Second, since populations tend to grow faster at the bottom end of the economic pyramid, there is a fair chance that the OBC numbers will show a smart rise in 2011. This has already been established in the case of well-recognised disadvantaged groups – SCs and STs – where their population share has risen from 14.6 percent and 6.9 percent in 1971 to 16.6 percent and 8.6 percent in 2011.

The political clout of the poor is growing, as is evident from the rise in the number of reserved parliamentary seats for SC/STs from 79 and 41 to 84 and 47 – a rise of 11 seats in all. The SECC 2011 caste census will, if it shows any rise in the OBC population, open the doors for more caste-based political power. Even if parliamentary seat counts do not rise as in the case of the SC/STs, OBC politicians like Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and many others will raise demands for more seat and job reservations.

As things stand, reservations for SCs, STs, and OBCs in government jobs are frozen in the range of 15 percent, 7.5 percent and 27 percent to avoid breaching the Supreme Court-mandated 50 percent ceiling. But states like Tamil Nadu have already raised quotas to 69 percent with impunity, and the chances are SECC 2011 will bring pressures to make 69 percent reservations universal.

SECC 2011 will give politicians the ammunition to make the quota systems worse than it is. We are heading down the slippery slop of Mandal 2. My prediction is that the reservations game will be upped before 2019, and BJP may seek political gains from it. The BJP’s recent rise has been the result of internalising Mandal politics, and there is no reason it will not push as hard as the regular OBC parties for it.

Fearing political consequences, Cabinet puts caste data on hold

An official spokesman, however, said no use releasing the raw data as it has thrown up as many as 46 lakh castes and sub-castes, with all sorts of synonyms, surnames, gotras and clan names.

Keeping in view its political consequence, the finds of the caste census conducted by the central government between 2011 and 2014 will remain under wraps. As the demand for its release gets shriller ahead of the Bihar assembly elections, Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday constituted an expert group to be headed by NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya to further study and analyse the census. The cabinet also empowered the Social Justice and Tribal Welfare Ministries to service it and nominate other members of the group.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had questioned the Centre in a NITI Aayog meeting for releasing only partial data relating to the economic status of the rural India and not the caste data crucial in the matter of the future reservation to the OBCs (other backward classes). Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad organised a march in Patna early this week to protest at the government not releasing the caste data. Congress also demanded release of full data, as current reservation policy was still based on 1931 caste census. An official spokesman, however, said no use releasing the raw data as it has thrown up as many as 46 lakh castes and sub-castes, with all sorts of synonyms, surnames, gotras and clan names. While constituting the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) to collect data on castes on May 19, 2011, then Cabinet had also decided to set up the group to analyse the data once available, he said.Though the caste census was carried out by the Registrar General of India who conducts the population census every 10th year, the spokesman claimed the SECC was conducted by the respective State/UT Governments. The field survey on economic data has since been completed and the socio economic data relating to rural areas was released early this month by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD). He described the work on urban data as “under progress.”The caste data would have revealed actual number of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) put at 54% of India’s population, based on the 1931Census figures used by the Mandal Commission, resulting in granting of 27% reservation to them. However, a careful analysis of the released data suggests the OBC population making upto 66.48% out of the total 17.92 crore rural households. The SECC survey has put the overall population of Scheduled Castes at 18.46% and Scheduled Tribes 10.97%. The rest are clubbed under the head “other households” numbering 12.27 crore which works out to 68.52%. It puts 2.04% of these in the category of “no caste & tribe households. If deducted from the “other households,” it gives a percentage of 66.48%. Overall the SC/ST households have been put at 21.53% of the rural population.In 2010 when the UPA government decided to conduct the caste survey, it was fiercely opposed by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). But those in favour of such a census say it was necessary to find actual figures of castes as far as caste-based reservations are in vogue in the country. The 1931 census, used by the Mandal Commission, Upper Castes comprise 15% of total population. But had 66% representation in politics, 87% in services, 94% in trade and 92% of them as land owners. The rest 85% of population had just 13% share in services, 6% in trade and 8% were land owners.

Pro-Mandal intellectuals vow to defeat Nitish-Lalu alliance in Bihar

Pro-Mandal Commission intellectuals on Sunday vowed to defeat candidates of JD(U)-RJD alliance in the Bihar Assembly elections scheduled in September-October this year and make all-out efforts to ensure victory of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular).

PTI
Pro-Mandal Commission intellectuals on Sunday vowed to defeat candidates of JD(U)-RJD alliance in the Bihar Assembly elections scheduled in September-October this year and make all-out efforts to ensure victory of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular).At a meeting organised under the aegis of ‘Mandal Vichar Manch’ at the residence of former MP Ranjan Yadav, a one time close associate of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, several former ministers, parliamentarians, legislators, professors, doctors and high -ranking officials from all over the state participated.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JAP leader and rebel RJD MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav and several leaders from HAM (Secular), floated by former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, were also present on the occasion.”This was a meeting of people who believe in social justice and secularism. The poor belonging to Mandal Parivar did not receive the benefits which they should have got during the 15-year-reign of Prasad and 10 years of Kumar. We discussed this and decided to make efforts to defeat the candidates of JD(U)-RJD and ensure the victory of JAP and HAM (Secular),” Ranjan Yadav told media persons.Speaking on the occasion Pappu Yadav accused Prasad and Kumar of insulting the Mahadalits, Yadavs and minorities in the state.”Altogether 32,000 Yadavs died during the reign of Prasad and Kumar. I know about these things and there should be a CBI probe into this,” he alleged.Pappu, Lok Sabha member from Madhepura, also alleged that Kumar was against the minorities and claimed he had removed all ministers belonging to the minority community from his cabinet be it Jamshed Ashraf, Parveen Amanullah or Shahid Ali Khan.

Cannot ignore Advani’s comments on Emergency; need to know who is it meant for, asks Shiv Sena

“Suddenly after 40 years, what made Advani think that emergency can recur and democracy will be crushed ?” Sena asked in an edit in its mouthpiece Saamna.
File Photo
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With L K Advani cautioning that an emergency-like situation cannot be ruled out again, the Shiv Sena on Monday said the veteran leader’s remarks cannot be ignored and it needs to be known who are these observations meant for.”L K Advani is the biggest leader of the country who has seen all seasons and has gone through all ups and downs. Today even if he is not in mainstream politics, BJP leaders and media knows he cannot be ignored. Thus, when he said that an emergency-like situation cannot be ruled out again, discussions have once again focused on him,” the Sena said in an edit in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana.'<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When Advani laid down his fear of an emergency again, he is definitely pointing at somebody. Now the question is who is this person that Advani is hinting at ? How can his fears be mitigated ?” it asked.The Sena said that Advani is a witness to the Emergency of 1975, where political leaders were put behind bars without sufficient reasons and there was a complete lawlessness in the country.”Suddenly after 40 years, what made Advani think that emergency can recur and democracy will be crushed ?” it asked.It further said that today, media, especially social media has become stronger than ever and that its difficult to imagine a situation that democracy can once again be crushed.”At the same time, one cannot ignore the comment of a senior leader like Advani. If he (Advani) wants to hint at the internal affairs of the BJP, he should clearly speak out. Because in the past, leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi and Kirti Azad too have spoken,” the Sena said.Recently, the former Deputy Prime Minister in an interview to a national daily had said, “At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards are stronger.””Today, I do not say that the political leadership is not mature. I don’t have faith because of its weaknesses. I don’t have the confidence that it (Emergency) cannot happen again,” Advani, who is now a member of the BJP’s Margadarshak Mandal, and was incarcerated during the Emergency along with a number of opposition stalwarts then, had said.

Advani fears emergency may return, says anti-democracy forces getting stronger

New Delhi: BJP patriarch L K Advani’s statement that “forces that can crush democracy are stronger” now, created a buzz in political circles leading to speculation that it was a barb aimed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which the RSS dismissed, while Congress and other BJP rivals shared his concern.

“At the present point of time, the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the constitutional and legal safeguards, are stronger,” Advani told Indian Express in an interview.

L K Advani. Reuters

L K Advani. Reuters

In the years since the Emergency in 1975-77, he said, “I don’t think anything has been done that gives the assurance that civil liberties will not be suspended or destroyed again. Not at all.”

“Of course, one can do it easily…But that it cannot happen again–I will not say that. It could be that fundamental liberties are curtailed again,” the former Deputy Prime Minister, who is now a member of the BJP’s Margdarshak Mandal, and was incarcerated during the Emergency along with a number of opposition stalwarts then.

Advani also said that he did not see any sign in the polity that assures him any outstanding aspect of leadership with a commitment to democracy and to all other aspects related to democracy is lacking.

“Today, I do not say that the political leadership is not mature. I don’t have faith because of its weaknesses. I don’t have the confidence that it (Emergency) cannot happen again.”

Commenting on Advani’s remarks, RSS ideologue M G Vaidya said Advani is a member of the BJP’s Magadarshak Mandal and he did not think he was sending a message to Modi.

“I don’t feel anything like that. He (Advani) is quite senior in age and experience. So he can talk to Modi. He is in the ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ of BJP. I don’t think he has an intention of sending a message to Modi through this interview.”

BJP spokesperson M J Akbar also felt it was not aimed at individuals but at institutions.

“I think Advanji was referring to institutions rather than to individuals. I respect his views, but I personally don’t see emergency, any chance of any emergency being reimposed in the country. I think that age is over, Indian democracy is too strong, much stronger now,” he said.

However, Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan latched on to Advani’s remarks saying the “jury is out” from the ruling party itself and he was indeed hinting at “emergency-like” situation under Modi’s rule.

“Today the jury is out. Advaniji is vocal. What he had to say, he has said,” he told reporters.

“It is obvious whom he is talking about, whose government is there, who is the Prime Minister. He knows it. But he is a statesman-like leader of the BJP. He did not want to name the Prime Minister. But whoever reads the interview, he/she would understand he is talking about Modi,” Vadakkan said.

Quoting from Advani’s remarks, he said the veteran leader is “right” when he says the present situation in the country signals towards emergency.

JD (U) leader KC Tyagi, who was also imprisoned with Advani during the Emergency, said “I agree with Adavani Ji that circumstances like emergency and context are still alive and the reasons lead to emergency are not finished yet.”

SP leader Naresh Aggarwal remarked that that if Advani has expressed a worry then it was for the government to consider it seriously as a veteran member of their party has expressed a concern like this

“The system that is going on in the country at this time is not democratic and somewhere the dictatorship attitude is reflecting,” he said.

Ashutosh, AAP leader, said Advani’s statement clearly indicates that he has no faith in BJP government and no faith in its leadership.

“He (Advani) clearly visualises that the leadership of Mr Modi and the government of BJP are every day crushing Indian democracy and creating a situation and ambience where emergency is not far,” he said.

PTI

Ram Temple will be completed during NDA government’s tenure: VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi

“The construction work for Ram Mandir at Ayodhya would start soon. It would be completed during the tenure of the current NDA government,” she told reporters here at the sidelines of BJP Dalit Morcha National Executive meet.

Construction work for Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya would start “soon” and be “completed during this tenure” of the present NDA government, controversial VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi on Friday said.”The construction work for Ram Mandir at Ayodhya would start soon. It would be completed during the tenure of the current NDA government,” she told reporters here at the sidelines of BJP Dalit Morcha National Executive meet.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She said the final decision in this regard would be taken in the two-day meeting of the VHP’s Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal.”The two-day Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal meet starts on 25th of this month at Haridwar. Final decision about Ram Mandir’s construction would be taken in this meeting,” Sadhvi said.Asked about her controversial remarks over Salman Khan’s bail in hit-and-run-case, Sadhvi insisted, “Malegaon blasts accused Sadhvi Pragya was denied bail, rape victim nurse Aruna did not get justice for 42 years and she died, how come Salman got the bail so easily.”Sadhvi had earlier allegedly said that Salman was granted bail as he was a “Khan”.Sadhvi said she was not rapped by her organisation for the remarks.She also criticised the BJP-SAD government in Punjab for “discriminating against” Dalits.”The SAD-BJP government in Punjab discriminates against Dalits. This discrimination is not restricted to common man only but it’s meted out to ministers as well,” she claimed.”Sarwan Singh Phillaur, a Dalit minister, was asked to resign after his name appeared in the Enforcement Directorate investigation in the drug smuggling case. But another minister Bikram Singh Majithia was given ‘clean chit’ despite being summoned by the agency for interrogation in the case,” Sadhvi said.

Maharashtra government to promote eco-tourism in forested areas

Fancy falling for the allure of the dark and deep woods by going for a holiday there? The state government may soon make this possible for you, with its plans to promote eco-tourism in forested areas. This will also help locals and tribals gain employment, thus improving the quality of their lives.

Uday Mohite
dna
Fancy falling for the allure of the dark and deep woods by going for a holiday there? The state government may soon make this possible for you, with its plans to promote eco-tourism in forested areas. This will also help locals and tribals gain employment, thus improving the quality of their lives.Maharashtra finance and forests minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told dna: “We will develop eco-tourism linked with forests.” He added that apart from providing an avenue to tourists to roam these pristine areas, this will also boost employment for locals and tribals, who can act as guides. Adventure sports facilities can also be developed, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his maiden budget presented in the state legislature, Mungantiwar had announced the establishment of a ‘Nisarg Paryatan Vikas Mandal’ (Eco-tourism promotion board) for developing tourism in forest areas, conserving biodiversity and providing access to employment for locals.”We will develop different sites in the state. With a little developmental work, they can offer avenues for people to enjoy pure air,” said Mungantiwar, adding that the state will identify such locations, build motorable roads and ensure proper sanitation.In 2010, the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) and Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) inked a MOU for development of eco-tourism. The FDCM has begun home-stay arrangements at some sites where they had begun work, developed nature trails, trained local youth to act as guides and for catering and house keeping and also installed solar power equipment and bio-digestors to treat sewage.”Unfortunately, this (eco-tourism) has not caught up in Maharashtra, development, if any, has been too far and few,” admitted Mungantiwar. Maharashtra’s green coverMaharashtra has a 61,734 sq km forest area, down from 63,544 sq km in 1960-61. The state has 8% of India’s forested area of 7,71,821 sq km. The area under forests in Maharashtra is 52.07 lakh hectare or 16.9% of the total 307.58 lakh hectare geographical area, making it the second-largest land use after agriculture. The state has six national parks, 47 wildlife sanctuaries and four conservation reserves with a tiger population of around 190. Of the total forests in the state, 16% falls in the dense category, 7% in scrub, 39% in open and 38% moderately dense.

Marg Darshak Mandal off the BJP’s radar?

Over seven months after the BJP formed the Marg Darshak Mandal (guidance committee), a question mark still hangs over its relevance. The five-member panel exists neither in the party constitution nor in practice.

Over seven months after the BJP formed the Marg Darshak Mandal (guidance committee), a question mark still hangs over its relevance. The five-member panel exists neither in the party constitution nor in practice.Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were dropped from the party’s Parliamentary board last August and inducted into the newly created “Marg Darshak Mandal”. The other two members of the committee are Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the ailing Vajpayee has completely retired from public life, Advani and Joshi are Lok Sabha MPs and have been regularly attending Parliament and party meetings, though silently. The BJP is yet to take advice from the two “marg darshaks (mentors)” on any crucial issue or call a meeting of the panel, according to sources.As the party constitution does not have any provision for a Marg Darshak Mandal, its duties are not defined. However, the committee figures on the BJP website. Similarly as per the party constitution, the Parliamentary board has the powers to regulate the activities of the legislative and Parliamentary activities of the party and guide in the formation of the ministry. “The Board will discuss and decide any policy pursuit or policy change which has not till then been adopted by the party. The Board shall have power and authority to regulate and guide all the organisational units below the national executive,” according to the party constitution.The document defines the responsibilities, functions and composition of the team of party office bearers and all organisational units including the national executive, the central election committee, state committees, state executive, national council, Morchas and cells.Advani and Joshi, both of whom have been party presidents and held crucial portfolios in the Vajpayee government, are members of the national executive.”It is not necessary for the committee to be a part of the Constitution. They are seniors who have guided the BJP to where we are today. Those who are running government and party have learnt from the seniors in the marg darshak mandal and we keep looking at them so that the ultimate goal of Deendayal Upadhayay is achieved,” said BJP national secretary and spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh.BJP sources insist that the party avails of the guidance of the senior leaders when necessary. But, Advani’s silence at the recently concluded party national executive in Bengaluru had triggered speculation that he was upset about not being consulted even on matters like Delhi elections and Jammu and Kashmir government formation. With his decision against making a speech what he may have said is now but guesswork.A generational shift is natural in any party, but what is understood to be hurting the veteran leaders is that they are not even being consulted as mentors, a role the party itself has assigned to them by inducting them into the guidance committee.

Govt will try to find solution for Jat reservation issue within legal framework, says PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the government will try to find a solution within the legal framework on the issue of Supreme Court scrapping reservation for Jats.

He stated this to a 70-member delegation of Jats from various states which met him here to discuss issues related to the community, including the recent Supreme Court decision regarding reservation.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

“The Prime Minister listened carefully to the issues raised by the delegation. He said the government is studying the Supreme Court decision and will try to find a solution to the issue within the legal framework,” a PMO statement said.

The top court on March 17 scrapped reservation for the Jat community given by the UPA government in nine states.

Setting aside the notification extending the OBC status to Jats, the apex court slammed the Centre’s decision to overlook the finding of an OBC panel that Jat is not a backward class.

“Caste, though a prominent factor, cannot be the sole factor of determining the backwardness of a class,” the bench had said, while referring to the historic judgement rendered by a larger bench on the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations on OBC reservations.

During the meeting with the Jat delegation, the Prime Minister urged them to take the lead in implementing his favourite campaign of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (save daughter, educated daughter).

PTI

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