Tag Archives: Bharatiya Janata Party

India runs Kashmir council vote despite lockdown and boycott

Village council elections are being conducted Thursday in Indian-controlled Kashmir, but the absence of mainstream local politicians leaves worry the polls will install puppets of the central Hindu-nationalist government that revoked the disputed region’s semi-autonomous status in early August.

Officials are hoping the elections of leaders for more than 300 councils will lend credibility amid a political vacuum and contend they will represent local interests better than former corrupt state-level government officials.

But the elections are being boycotted by most political parties, including those whose leaders had been sympathetic to the central government but are now in makeshift jails or under house arrest. India’s main opposition Congress party is boycotting as well, possibly allowing a clean sweep for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP has a very small base in the Kashmir valley, the heart of a decades-old anti-India insurgency in the region of about 12 million people.

Predominantly Muslim Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan, with both countries claiming the region in its entirety. Insurgents in the Indian-controlled portion demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.

In the elections, members of the more than 300 Block Development Councils formed last year will choose chairs. Each block comprises a cluster of villages across Jammu and Kashmir, a state that India’s Parliament downgraded in August to a federal territory, a change that takes effect on Oct. 31.

About 1,000 people are running. In at least 25 councils, candidates are running unopposed.

Most of the candidates and thousands of council members, the electorate for Thursday’s vote, have lived for months in hotels in Srinagar, the region’s main city, over security concerns. In the past, militants fighting against Indian rule have targeted poll contestants.

Officials tout the councils, which will be responsible for allocating government funds, as grassroots democracy.

But observers say the system lacks legitimacy in Kashmir.

Political scientist Dr. Noor Ahmed Baba said the exercise, at least in theory, is an “important layer of democracy” but questioned conducting it in “extremely difficult and abnormal times.”

“When most people are bothered about their basic freedoms and livelihood, facing crushing restrictions, you’ve these elections,” Baba said. “This is more like completing a formality. It looks more like an artificial exercise.”

The council elections held last December were boycotted by separatist leaders and armed rebel groups who challenge India’s sovereignty over Kashmir. Both rebels and separatists in the past have called elections in Kashmir an illegitimate exercise under military occupation.

About 60% of the 21,208 village council seats in the Kashmir valley are vacant because no one ran for them. The winners of another 30% were elected unopposed.

Police chief Dilbagh Singh said authorities have made security arrangements for the Thursday’s elections to be conducted smoothly.

Before downgrading Kashmir’s status, New Delhi sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the already heavily militarized regions, imposed a sweeping curfew, arrested thousands, and cut virtually all communications.

Authorities have since eased some restrictions, lifting roadblocks and restoring landlines and some mobile phones. They have encouraged students to return to school and businesses to reopen, but Kashmiris have largely stayed home, in defiance or fear amid threats of violence.

The Modi government says removing a constitutional provision that had given Kashmir some measure of autonomy since independence from British rule in 1947 was necessary to give rights afforded other Indian citizens, to usher in greater economic development and do away with the sense of separateness that BJP leaders say has cultivated the separatist movement.

But as the crackdown continues, Kashmiris have quietly refused to resume their normal lives, confounding India at their own economic expense.

Shops have adopted new, limited hours of operation in the early morning and evening. Taxi drivers haven’t returned to the roads.

Shailendra Kumar, the chief electoral officer, said the government had planned for the polls in June.

Conducting the polls amid an ongoing crackdown “could be a discussion point,” Kumar said, “but should we delay it for another year? I don’t think so. This is a clear-cut system governed by rules, and rules don’t ask me to gauge mood and sentiments but to facilitate the process.”

Some Kashmiris view the polls cynically, as a move to create a new political elite loyal to the Modi government that found its plans widely rejected in the region.

“Every election here is meant to pull wool over eyes of Kashmiris and create a smoke screen that everything is fine here,” said Mohammed Abdullah, a college teacher. “It’s also meant to convey to the world that India is a democracy and Kashmir is part of this vibrant democracy.”

To Abdullah and other Kashmiris still reeling from the changes in the region, Thursday’s polls suggest the opposite.


FIR against former Chhattisgarh CM Ajit Jogi over fake caste certificate

An FIR was registered on Thursday night against former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi for allegedly obtaining a fake caste certificate claiming himself to be a tribal, police said.

The case was registered at the Gaurela police station here following a complaint by Sameera Paikra, BJP candidate from the Marwahi seat in the 2013 Assembly polls, they added.

Jogi was booked under Indian Penal Code sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), Bilaspur Superintendent of Police Prashant Agrawal said.

According to Paikra, Jogi had allegedly obtained the fake caste certificate in 1967, he said.

Paikra lodged the case on the basis of a recently issued affidavit of a retired state government official, Patras Tirkey, the SP said, adding that further investigation into the matter is underway.

Tirkey stated in his affidavit that he was posted as the nayab tehsildar in Bilaspur in 1967-68 and he had never issued any caste certificate to Jogi, Paikra told reporters.

Tirkey has also stated that if Jogi produces any caste certificate containing his signature, it must be considered as false and fake, she added.

Last week, an FIR was registered with the Civil Lines police station against Jogi (73), who served as the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh, after a government-appointed committee rejected the latter’s claim of being a tribal.

A high-level caste scrutiny committee set up by the state government last month dismissed Ajit Jogi’s claim of belonging to a Scheduled Tribe (ST) and cancelled his caste certificates.

Notably, Ajit Jogi’s son Amit Jogi, a former MLA, was also arrested and sent to jail on September 3 based on a complaint by Sameera Paikra at the Gaurela Police station.

Amit Jogi is accused of cheating and forgery in connection with a declaration in a poll affidavit submitted by him during the 2013 state assembly elections. PTI CORR TKP IJT


BJP MLA Vijender Gupta suspended for using unparliamentary language

Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel suspended BJP legislator and leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta on Friday over the usage of unparliamentary language in the House.

Mr. Gupta will not be allowed to attend the ongoing session for two days, the Speaker said. He also marshalled out Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa for interrupting the House proceedings.

Following his suspension, Mr. Gupta sat on a dharna outside the chamber of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at the assembly.

On Thursday, Mr. Gupta objected to the Aam Aadmi Party legislators’ continued agitation in the House over the demolition of the Ravidas temple in Tughlaqabad area and used a Hindi word to describe the uproar.

The use of the particular word infuriated AAP MLAs, who created further ruckus and insisted upon an apology from the leader of Opposition. The Speaker has expunged the word.


Ladakh BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal gets candid about war of ideologies with JNU alumnus wife

Ever since Ladakh BJP MP, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, shot to fame through his impressive Parliament speech, he has been busy giving interviews. Last week, the Centre scrapped the special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh was declared a UT without a legislature.

Participating in a debate during passing of the J&K Reorganisation Bill, Namgyal said the people of Ladakh had been fighting for UT status for the last seven decades.

Namgyal also alleged that Kashmir got a major share of development funds, and Ladakh did not get anything.

This helped him earn the praise of Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior BJP leaders who shared the video of his powerful speech in Lok Sabha.

In an interview with India Today News Director Rahul Kanwal, who visited his house, the MP spoke about his wife Sonam Wangmo. He stated that she is very cooperative and has compromised a lot with the time. Namgyal said, “I have become busy after the speech because of which I have to give time to many people now, including the national media.”

Married just 6 months ago, Sonam said she was quite impressed after his speech at Parliament just like a lot of Indians. She added that he has been really busy after that.

Talking about their differences in regards with political ideologies, Sonam said, “We do have our differences when it comes to politics and he always tries to convince me. Shaadi mein wo sanghi ya another ideology thodi chalta hai. He tries to pull me towards the RSS-BJP side.”

Namgyal added that family matters are different and politics is different and theirs is not a political marriage.

Sonam Wangmo feels that what happened with Kanhaiya Kumar in JNU was wrong. She stated, “The video and audio were fake. It happened in front of my hostel. We know Kanhaiya was not at the event. He got arrested just because he was a student leader.”

Namgyal had earlier said the people of Ladakh had been demanding a UT status for the region since 1948 as they were always discriminated against by “Kashmir-centric leaders. He said protests by parties like National Conference and PDP should be ignored as he accused them of considering the state their “family business”.


West Bengal: BJP is making ‘master plan’ for assembly elections, started brainstorming session

Kolkata: BJP’s West Bengal unit started a two-day brainstorming session on Saturday at Durgapur in West Burdwan district to train party workers for the state assembly elections to be held in 2021. Party sources said that the ‘Chintan Meet’ is the first major meeting of the party after the results of the Lok Sabha elections. He said that apart from discussing organizational aspects, the party’s strategy for the assembly elections will be decided in the meeting.

State BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said, “The central leadership has set the agenda for the meeting which is likely to discuss the roadmap for the 2021 elections, organizational issues and membership campaigns.” All the office bearers of the party’s state unit can attend.

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, national secretary (organization) Shiv Prakash, Bengal co-in-charge Arvind Mohan and state BJP president Dilip Ghosh are attending the meeting. The central leadership had set a target of one crore membership from West Bengal and the state unit claims that about 60 lakh people have taken membership so far.


Ex-BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar charged with abduction, rape of Unnao teenager

Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the 52-year-old controversial Uttar Pradesh legislator arrested for rape of a teenager last year on court orders, has been formally charged by a court for her kidnapping and rape. A special court in Delhi, which had been ordered by the Supreme Court to try Kuldeep Sengar, has also charged the lawmaker under the stringent child sex abuse law.

The top court had last week transferred four related cases against Sengar to Delhi at the request of the rape survivor’s family, which feared intimidation.

The rape survivor is struggling for life at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences or AIIMS after a car crash. Her family has accused Kuldeep Sengar of conspiracy to kill the rape survivor in the crash that they allege, was a pre-meditated murder. A truck had crashed head-on into the car that the rape survivor was travelling in last month, killing her two aunts. The rape survivor and her lawyer are critical.


‘For Article 370 move, personal calls to senior opposition leaders helped clinch majority vote’: Pralhad Joshi

Pralhad Joshi, the minister of parliamentary affairs, speaks in an interview with Sunetra Choudhury about the first session of Parliament in the second term of the Narendra Modi government, during which a record 30bills were passed. Joshi said floor coordination became crucial in pushing through the crucial provisions related to Jammu and Kashmir on the last two days of the session that ended on August 6. Edited excerpts:You had a productive Lok Sabha session with a record number of bills being passed. To what would you attribute that?

We tried to talk to all parties including the main opposition party. In some cases, they got convinced, in some they weren’t, like in the Triple Talaq and the RTI {Right to Information} bill. Other than the Congress and the TMC, a majority of the parties who had thought of opposing bills relented after we met and convinced them. like the BJD {Biju Janata Dal} and TRS {Telangana Rashtra Samithi}… It was PM’s direction to have “sabka vishwas” {everyone’s trust} and he used to guide me particularly, on a day-to-day basis. He would tell me, “Go meet Adhir {Ranjan Chowdhary of Congress},” “Go meet (TR) Baalu {of DMK}.” Even Amit Bhai {home minister Amit Shah} would speak to me about it.

Article 370’s effective revocation was the big highlight of the session. Was the session extended for this only?

This bill was brought on {August} 5th and 6th. There were so many bills like MV {motor vehicle} bill which was passed in the extended time… it was not just because of 370… Because of huge pendency, we were forced to extend.You said that the PM and Amit Bhai would brief you every day. What was your brief on Art 370?

I was told on 2nd August by Amit Bhai that an important bill was coming. We didn’t know what it was exactly. We were told, “You have to be prepared, we need to pass this, and we may introduce it in Rajya Sabha.” On the 2nd itself, we started talking to concerned people that important bills are coming… On the 5th morning (day the bill was introduced after a cabinet meeting), Amit bhai had a talk with BJD chief Naveen Patnaik and TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao and even with Mr Chandrababu Naidu {of Telugu Desam Party}. They said we will support. I also had a chat with the BSP’s {Bahujan Samaj Party’s} Satish Chandra Mishra and he said we will support it.

Is it true that you had a war room ready in Parliament?

I can’t call it a war room but Amit Bhai used to call us to his room and tell us on a need-to-know basis and we used to work on that. Assignments were given to some ministers and they would accordingly act. We used to sit in his room.You started off by visiting all opposition leaders, even {United Progressive Alliance chairperson} Sonia Gandhi. Do you think the relationship is as amicable at the end of the session or bitter?

Except in one or two bills , it was amicable . You have seen 370 and Triple Talaq, they didn’t agree despite our efforts to convince them… We have a good rapport with Congress and TMC people. After the sine die( session’s end), we had a word with Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Derek O’Brien and Ram Kripal Yadav and it was sober.But sir , wasn’t it a shortcut to not send bills to a select panel?

How many bills in their first session after winning did they send to select committee in their regime? They should answer that. Some bills, even after scrutiny, were not passed. Some bills, like surrogacy, we are sending to standing panel… Enactment of law is our duty and we are doing it in the most democratic way.

There is speculation that there won’t be a winter session of parliament because you have passed all bills?

There will be a session in winter, maybe in November. I am assuring you that it will be there. We have another 6-7 bills that remain. NID {National Institute of Design} bill, dam safety bill, and river water tribunal is there.What about the Leader of the opposition post going to the Congress?

They have not asked and we have not decided.


‘Worked like a slave for Congress for 14 months’: HD Kumaraswamy

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has said he worked like a “slave” for its coalition partner Congress during the 14-month tenure of his government in Karnataka but his work was not appreciated by anyone.

The Kumaraswamy led Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) coalition government collapsed when it lost the trust vote on July 23. The trust vote was forced after 16 coalition MLAs rebelled and tendered their resignations. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s BS Yediyurappa was sworn-in as the 25th chief minister of Karnataka on July 26.

“I had given full freedom to all the MLAs, and even corporation chairmen. For the last 14 months, I worked like a slave for these MLAs and our coalition partner (Congress). Why they are blaming me? I don’t know,” Kumaraswamy said, according to news agency Asian News International.

“I’m the happiest person now after vacating the office as a chief minister. For 14 months, I worked for the development of the state, there is a little pain in my heart because nobody appreciated my work,” he said while speaking to ANI.

The JD(S) leader said that several Congress leaders didn’t want to form the coalition government.

“After the fractured verdict in our state, the Congress leadership wholeheartedly wanted to join hands with JD(S) and they wanted to form the government. But some local leaders were not interested according to my sources,” Kumaraswamy said.

“From day one, the way a section of the Congress leaders behaved and reacted in the public, everybody knows it,” he added.

Kumaraswamy said that his party leaders were also unhappy after he joined hands with the Congress to form the government.

“Even some of my party leaders were not happy, but I formed the government with the help of Congress. They were not happy with the system. They knew how will they going to backstab us,” he said.

The former chief minister also said that his government had allocated more money for the constituencies of Congress MLAs than those of his own party.

“Even when MLAs used to come without taking an appointment, I met them. Whatever requests they had for the development of their constituencies, I took decisions on them immediately,” he said.

“What the previous Congress government couldn’t achieve, I did in 14 months. I have allocated more than Rs 19,000 crore in 14 months to constituencies of Congress MLAs,” the JD(S) leader said.

Kumaraswamy said that his party’s leaders are not interested in forming a coalition with Congress in the future.

“Majority of the workers are not interested in the coalition. But the Congress high command even now is very much cooperative with us. Let us see what is going to happen in the future,” he said.


BJP to pay tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his first death anniversary

Remembering the party’s founder member and tallest leader, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to pay tribute to former prime minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his first death anniversary.

Vajpayee, the BJP stalwart, died last year on August 16.

The decision was taken by BJP president Amit Shah and was communicated to the party’s working president JP Nadda. All this and much more on the membership drive was discussed at a meeting of the party’s general secretaries with Nadda at BJP headquarters.

Sources in the party claimed that the top brass wants the death anniversary, as one where ‘every member of BJP family’ would remember the tallest leader of the party.

“For this, we will ask every leader, post holder and state unit to ensure tributes to be paid to Vajpayee ji in every district. Leaders need to ensure that it must be done keeping in mind the stature of the leader to whom we will pay tribute,” stated a senior leader of the party who claimed that many BJP cadres independently organizing tributes for the leader and this includes cultural evenings to remember Vajpayee.

Meanwhile, the party top brass has some plans to celebrate this Independence Day as well. With nationalism being the flavour of the season, it has been decided that leaders would be asked to garland the statues of martyrs in their respective constituencies besides hoisting tricolour flag.

Secondly, the party would ensure that the soldiers would not miss their sisters on the day as it also happens to be the festival of Rakshabandhan.

“As we know the Rakhi is coinciding with Independence Day, we are planning to encourage girls to tie Rakhis on soldiers wrists. It would also inculcate a sense of belongingness despite being away from their homes. Rest of the programs will soon be decided and known,” informed the source.


Congress slams BJP silence on Unnao

The Congress on Thursday questioned the BJP leadership’s sincerity towards women’s empowerment, pointing to the silence of top ministers on the Unnao horror, and argued that the recently passed triple talaq bill was hardly proof of the government’s commitment to gender justice.

The party alleged the conspiracy of silence was aimed at protecting the criminals who were determined to finish off the Unnao rape victim and her family and said the vicious cycle of injustice and inaction would have continued had the Supreme Court not intervened.

The court on Thursday directed the transfer of all cases registered in connection with the Unnao rape from a court in Uttar Pradesh to a court in the national capital.

The Congress hailed the court’s decision. “Grateful to the Supreme Court for taking cognisance of the ‘Jungle Raj’ being unleashed in Uttar Pradesh,” party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said. “Meanwhile, the BJP finally acknowledges having empowered a criminal and takes some action to correct itself and move in the direction of justice for a young woman who has suffered immeasurably.”

The Congress held demonstrations in Lucknow for two days following a directive from Priyanka.

Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev ripped into the BJP at a media interaction. “The Prime Minister presents the defence minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) as a symbol of women’s empowerment. The BJP’s women MPs and top ministers describe the triple talaq bill as proof of gender justice. Smriti Irani sent bangles to (then Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh when the (2012) Nirbhaya (gang-rape and murder) case happened. But the entire ‘beti-bachao’ gang falls silent on the unprecedented atrocities on the Unnao girl. The Prime Minister, BJP chief Amit Shah and (Uttar Pradesh) chief minister Yogi Adityanath stood by the rape accused for two years,” Sushmita said.

“What would have happened had the Supreme Court not intervened? The local MP, Sakshi Maharaj, goes to the jail to meet the rape-accused (MLA) Kuldeep Sengar. For two years, the family members of the girls have been lodging complaints about threats…. The father of the girl was killed and now the aunts have gone. The girl is fighting for her life. The family has been tortured; even an eight-year-old boy (a cousin) is facing a theft case. You can understand how the accused got political patronage and what the family went through.”

Sengar, accused of raping the Unnao teen in 2017, has been charged with murder over Sunday’s road collision that left the victim seriously injured and two of her aunts dead.

The MLA, whom Unnao BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj had met in jail to thank him for his support in the parliamentary elections, was suspended from the BJP on Tuesday.

Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala said the “chain of events suggest the Yogi government was directly responsible”.

“Witnesses are threatened and killed even as the CBI looked into the case. It is ironical that the security provided to the girl vanished on the day of the accident,” he said.

None of the security personnel assigned to guard the family were with the victim and her relatives on Sunday.

Sushmita hailed the Supreme Court order. “We thank the Chief Justice of India for ordering a time-bound probe and shifting of the case to Delhi. The order to provide CRPF security to the family and a compensation of Rs 25 lakh are also welcome. But the issue is why the family lived in fear and suffered for so long under the state government? Why does the BJP government indulge in selective outrage on the question of women’s safety?”

The party’s official Twitter handle put out a series of critical messages, saying: “The delay in his (Sengar’s) expulsion led to further deaths. This is reflective of the state of lawlessness in Uttar Pradesh. Ajay Bisht (Yogi Adityanath) must take responsibility for this and resign immediately. The expulsion of Kuldeep Sengar is a victory of the people’s campaign against the BJP…. The move is however too little too late.”