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SC rejects woman’s plea claiming to be Jayalalithaa’s biological daughter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today refused to entertain the plea of a woman who claimed to be the biological daughter of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta refused to allow her prayer for DNA test to know her parentage as she claimed to have been given in adoption to Jaya’s sister and her husband. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for the woman, also sought cremation of Jayalalithaa as per Hindu rites on the grounds that she was an Iyengar Brahmin. She said there were two witnesses when the child was given for adoption and the petitioner had come to know about her real parentage only when her adopted father was on his death bed.”There is a politically charged-up atmosphere in Tamil Nadu and this case should be transferred outside the state as infighting is going on in the ruling political party,” she said. Jaising said in order to establish her real parentage, DNA test should be allowed to be conducted on the woman as she has the right to know about her biological parents.”In this society, it is very difficult for an unwed mother to keep the child. Therefore (she) was given to Jaya’s sister who resided in Bangalore and there were two eyewitnesses to the incident,” the senior lawyer said. The court, however, said the petitioner is at liberty to approach the high court.

Now, Brahmins oppose Padmavati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If opposition from the Rajputs and some sections of the Congress was not enough, the Brahmins too have launched an offensive against the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film Padmawati. They have demanded that the Rajasthan government ban the film and ensure that it is not released.State president of the Sarv Brahmin mahasabha Suresh Mishra said Bhansali’s attempt to smear the image of the valiant queen for the commercial success of his film will not be accepted. In a statement issued by the organisation it was said that 16,000 women had laid down their lives to protect their honour and no attempt to misconstrue the history will be accepted.Speaking to DNA Mishra said: “One famous director of Bollywood has called me on behalf of Bhansali and asked us about our demands. I have categorically told him that the film must be shown to a 15-member panel of experts from the state. The panel should include subject experts from history. If they give a green signal that the film does not distort historical facts and has no imaginary love scenes between Allaudin Khilji and Rani Padmawati, only then will we take back our opposition.”He said, “We have given them time till November 15 to accede to our offer. Otherwise we will go ahead with our plans.” Elaborating on his future plans, Mishra said: “We will write to all cinema halls of the state; from multiplex to single screen and request them to not release the film. We will mobilise our district units and ask them to ensure that the film is not released.”When asked about the various organisations that were already protesting against the soon to be released film, Mishra said, “We will all the join forces to oppose distortion of the valour and dignity of Rajasthan.”

Kamal Hassan controversy: Those talking of Hindu terrorism are ‘anti-nationals’, says Yogi Adityanath

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday branded individuals talking about intolerance and Hindu terrorism as ‘anti-nationals’, in an oblique reference to actor Kamal Hassan’s comments. He said that they are surviving on hand-out of foreigners who coined these words. “Those who market their intellectual wisdom for making money talk about intolerance in the country and those who talk about Hindu terrorism are surviving on hand-out of foreigners. They are anti-nationals and people of this country will never forgive them,” he said while participating in a debate in Lucknow on Sunday.“Sanatan dharm is the only religion in India. Rest are followers of different cults and beliefs. There is nothing called secularism in the country. It is the biggest lie in Independent India. Everyone has a right to follow their own cult or religion but above them is the nation and one cannot betray nation by raising their heads in the name of intolerance and Hindu terrorism,” said Yogi Adityanth.“Hinduism is a culture and way of living. This Hindu country has given shelter to Muslims, Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews and so many others. India has given tolerance to the world and we respect all religions. But it does not mean we will allow anyone to call Hindus terrorists,” he said in an obvious reference to ongoing controversy over Kamal Hassan’s statement.He said that one cannot impose their religious practices on others. “A Brahmin would remain a Brahmin even if he does not wear vermilion and ponytail,” he pointed.The Chief Minister said that Hinduism teaches religious tolerance but it does not mean that we will remain mute spectator to attack by others demolishing our religious beliefs. “Lord Ram and Lord Krishna did not want war but they took up weapons to kill demons. We are not cowards and we will also give befitting replies to such demons. Politics and religion are synonym to each other,” he pointed.“These days people talk about saffron colour. Can they change the colour of sun rays and fire? Art and culture are the soul of development. My government has started this with recreating Treta Yuga Diwali in Ayodhya. Uttar Pradesh will soon emerge as the most progressive state in the country,” declared Adityanath. Earlier, speaking at a VHP Function, the Chief Minister reiterated that anyone committing crime against cows will be punished and go to jail. “Our government is committed to cow protection. We will take stringent measures to protect cows,” he said.

Brahmin body seeks over 20 tickets for polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Calling for an end to using Brahmins as a vote-bank, an organisation of Brahmins has demanded 20 tickets for community members in the upcoming elections.There are five Brahmin MLAs out of the total 182 in the present 13th legislative Assembly. While BJP has four Brahmin MLAs, Congress has one. Community members feel that their representation in the Assembly is much lower than their share of population.”Brahmins account for 12% of Gujarat’s population and 11% of the total voters. Keeping the population ratio in mind, and the fact that Brahmin voters can play decisive role on many seats, we have appealed to the main political parties to give 20+ tickets to our community members in the upcoming elections,” Prithvi Bhatt, convener of Brahm Padkar, told mediapersons. Bhatt further said that Brahmins have made significant contributions to politics of Gujarat and India, but parties have shied away from fielding Brahmin candidates of late in a bid to finish the community’s political existence and leadership.Bhatt further said that Khatla Sabha (Cot Conferences) are being organised in Una, Somnath, Veraval, Junagadh, Sasan, Jetpur, Morbi, Halvad, Maninagar, Mandvi, Abdasa, Vadodara, Anand, Limbdi, Sanand and other Brahmin dominated Assembly seats from Thursday.

Casteism cannot be removed by sharing meals with Dalits; Rahul Gandhi should marry one: Ramdas Athawale

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Sunday suggested that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi marry a Dalit woman, saying casteism cannot be removed merely by having meals with the community.Gandhi (47) had recently said, in answer to a question, that he believed in destiny when it came to marriage.”This is an old question. I believe in destiny. ‘Jab hogi, tab hogi’ (It will happen when it does)”, he had said.The Dalit leader who heads the Republican Party of India (Athavale), an ally of the BJP-led NDA, said he could help find a match for the Congress scion.”He (Gandhi) goes to houses of Dalit people occasionally and eats with them. I think he should marry a Dalit woman. If needed, I will help finding one (match) for him,” the minister of state for social justice told reporters in Akola in east Maharashtra.Athawale said he had no intention to insult Gandhi regarding his marriage plans.”I have no intention to insult him, but I’m proposing it (inter-caste marriage) to present a model before the country.I have personally married a Brahmin girl which is in the line with B R Ambedkar’s solution to dismantle caste barriers. It (uprooting casteism) cannot be achieved only by eating together,” the minister said.Responding to a query, Athawale said Gandhi had changed recently as far as his leadership calibre was concerned.”He is not ‘Pappu’ anymore. He looks confident and hopefully can be a good leader,” the Dalit leader said, referring to the nickname with which Gandhi was often mocked by a section on social media.Interestingly, another NDA constituent, the Shiv Sena, had recently said that Gand

Navratri Special: Navratri, a season of blessings for this Mumbai family

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Come September and for Mumbai-based Kamath family, it is that time of the year that they look forward to the most. The Navdurga (nine forms of Goddess Durga), which the family members fervently worship, has not just been a saviour for the family but has also blessed their friends and relatives abundantly.The Kamaths, who now live in Dahisar, arrived in the city in 1953. Unlike other members of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) community, the family never observed Navratri but it was the year 1953 that changed a number of things for them.”It was during Navratri that my grandmother’s family moved to the city. Back then, it was a huge family of at least 14-16 people. Since they all managed to reach safely from Mangalore, she decided to start celebrating the festival and thank Navdurga for her guidance and blessing,” said Suparna Kamath, daughter-in-law of the household. “I, too, come from a GSB family. However, in my house, we never performed such Pujas during Navratri. I only witnessed this when I came here,” added Suparna, who is a homemaker in the family of six.Since then, the Kamaths also revel in the joy that a few wishes of their friends have also been fulfilled.”A friend of mine could not conceive for a long time. It was on a visit to our place when they prayed to Navdurga for her blessing. The couple were soon blessed with a child,” claimed Sameer Kamath, Suparna’s husband, who runs a printing business.The Kamaths switched from a photograph to an idol in the year 1973 when they decided to celebrate the festival elaborately. “My father got an idol of the goddess. Since then we have been using the same one,” said Kamath. As part of their sacrifice, the family abstains from rice during the nine days and also perform their prayers without a priest.

Vedic Brahmins to get minority status?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the government is reportedly evaluating if Vedic Brahmins could be given religious minority status, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has expressed that it is not in favour of such a move.The Commission has conveyed its views to the government after it asked the Commission to think about the proposal and recommend it, reported Marathi daily Loksatta.In its 2016-17 report submitted to the Centre in July, the Commission has said that the Vedic Brahmins can’t be given minority status as they are an integral part of Hindu religion.However, the Commission has left it up to the government to decide on the issue.The Commission also said that if the government decides to give minority status to Vedic Brahmins on the demand of the Brahmin Mahasabha or Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Mahasabha, then the Rajput, Vaishya and other Hindu castes will also make similar demands and therefore, it is not in favour of giving them minority status.The Union government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Six religious communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified as minority communities.

Pune: After outrage over casteism, IMD scientist withdraws case against non-Brahmin cook

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After receiving flak from all corners for registering a cheating case against a 60-year-old cook for posing as a ‘Brahmin’ to get a job, senior scientist from Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Medha Khole on Saturday submitted an application with the police to withdraw the case against the cook.Huge controversy was erupted on Thursday when Khole approached Sinhgad road police station and lodged a complaint against her cook Nirmala Yadav alleging that when Khole wanted a Brahmin cook to prepare meal on special religious occasion, Yadav concealed her caste and posed herself as Brahmin to get the work at Khole’s place. Following the case, various organisations staged protest against Khole for being castiest. Even Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh criticised Khole’s action of filing police complaint against Yadav.Following the controversy, Khole visited the Sinhgad police station on Saturday afternoon and she submitted an application to withdraw the complaint. Assistant commissioner of police (Swargate division) Shivaji Pawar told DNA, “When Khole approached us, she stated that the case was her personal issue and she did not have the intention to create any tension in the society on the basis of caste issue.
ALSO READ IMD scientist lodges ‘cheating’ case against cook for hiding caste After witnessing the controversy over her complaint, she decided to put an end to it by withdrawing the case against Yadav.””Now since she has submitted the application for withdrawal of the case, we will be preparing a report which we will submit in the court for further procedure to withdraw the case,” Pawar added.Based on Khole’s complaint, police have registered a case for cheating by personation under section 419, punishment for assault or criminal force under section 352 and intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace under section 504 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Yadav.

DNA Impact: Support pours in for Pune cook after scientist files police complaint against her

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the controversy over an Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) scientist filing a complaint against her cook for concealing her caste to get the job, several organisations came out in support of the cook. Akhil Bharatiyya Brahman Mahasangh has also urged the scientist to withdraw the case to maintain social harmony.Controversy erupted on Thursday when Medha Khole, a senior scientist at IMD’s Pune office, lodged a cheating complaint against 60-year-old Nirmala Yadav claiming that inspite of being a non-Brahmin, Yadav concealed her caste to get a job at Khole’s place when Khole wanted a Brahmin cook to prepare meals on religious occasions.Several organisations in Pune came out in support of Yadav. Sambhaji Brigade even met joint commissioner of police Ravindra Kadam and demanded police action against Khole.Santosh Shinde, district president of Sambhajji Brigade told DNA, “It is not just an individual case; it has created a strong social impact. The case has been filed by a person who holds key position at a government office. The case shows her casteist mentality. Therefore, we have demanded police to register complaint against Khole to sent strong message in the society.”Even the members of some right wing organisations including Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Raje Shivray Pratishthan visited Yadav’s residence on Sinhgad road and extended their support to the elderly woman.Following the complaint, Khole has received flak on social media for being casteist.Sampat Charwad, convener of Bajrang Dal in Pune said, “We met Yadav to give a message that we do not support casteism. Filing a case against a poor elderly woman on the basis of caste discrimination is absolutely wrong. Khole should tender an apology and she she should immediately withdraw the case.”Even Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh has urged Khole to withdraw case. Vishwajeet Deshpande, state executive president of Mahasangh said, “It is personal choice of any person regarding whom to deploy at his or her place for any work. However, the reaction by Khole was extreme. She should not have filed a complaint. We are urging her to withdraw complaint.”

GST effect: Sculptors tensed over business

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ambiguity about tax on statues and pictures of religious deities under the new under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has become a cause for concern for sculptors.Although religious deities, pictures and material used for religious ceremonies are not taxable under VAT and excise duty, there is some confusion about such exemption in the GST.Satya Narayan Pande, director, Adi Gaur Brahmin (Moorti Kalakar) Sanstha, himself is not very clear about the issue as he says, “There is no mention of religious statues under the GST tax slab, however, according to the code number 97, it is under the tax slab of 12 per cent.”Expressing his apprehensions, Pande says if the GST is applied on such goods, it will adversely affect the business, especially in the international market.“Under GST, the price of such things is bound increase and we fear that the potential buyers will go for Chinese made items online,” Pande added. He said that if the sculptors do not register for GST and do not have TIN numbers, financial institutions and banks will also not provide loans to them for their businesses.“90 per cent of sculptors are poor and uneducated. Implementation of tax on them will not only affect their art but also hit their day-to-day lives,” said Radheshyam Sharma, director, Moorti Kala Laghu Udyog Mandal.According to current laws, statues of religious identities are exempted from VAT and Excise Duty, which makes the cost as well as the price affordable. The religious pictures along with religious trusts and temples have been exempted from GST.LAW AT PRESENTAccording to the laws applied currently, statues of religious identities are exempted from VAT and Excise Duty, which makes the cost as well as the price affordable. The religious pictures along with religious trusts and temples have been exempted from GST.

Ex-AP chief secy fired for ‘anti-govt’ content on social media

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu sacked former state chief secretary IYR Krishna Rao from the post of Andhra Pradesh Brahmin Welfare Corporation Chairperson, for allegedly castigating the state government on social media. Rao had retired in January 2016 and was later appointed to head the state-run body that has a budget of over 170 crore rupees and look after the concerns of the poor Brahmins in the state. According to reports, Rao shared certain posts written by others against Naidu and the ruling Telugu Desam Party on his Facebook page. Reportedly, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister in the recent past had been receiving several complaints against Rao accusing him of hobnobbing with the opposition YSR Congress party. The accusations were that the benefits of various welfare schemes being implemented by the corporation which was headed by Rao were not reaching the right people, and that despite of being the first of its kind organisation for Brahmins, the TDP was not enthralling enough political mileage because of Rao.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Akshay Tritiya: Birthday of maverick god Parashuram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Akshaya Tritiya has become an occasion to buy gold. It is considered one of the three most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar — the two others being the first day of Chaitra month and Vijayadashami. But do you know why? It’s the conjunction of the heavenly bodies. The sun and moon are believed to be at their brightest on Akshaya Tritiya — the third day of shukla paksha in the month of Baisakh.Adding to Akshaya Tritiya’s claims to auspiciousness is the belief that it is the birthday of Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu. Here are six quirky facts about this fierce warrior ascetic who has always seen carrying his mean battle axe — Parashu (his name is derived from this) that he got from Lord Shiva as a reward for fierce penance.Exceptional figure: Parashurama is an avatar of Vishnu, a venerable sage of surpassing spiritual powers and also a ferocious warrior. He was born a Brahmin, but a Kshatriya (having taken up arms) by his actions. He is, in this sense, one of the few who remain outside the Manusmriti-ordained classification of Hindu society into the four varnas — Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.Killing machine: The picture of Parashurama that emerges from the stories is that of a ‘killing machine’. Parashurama is supposed to have killed 21 entire generations of Kshatriyas to avenge the killing of his father, the sage Jamadagni.Link between two avatars: Parashurama is the only instance where two Vishnu avatars meet — in the Ramayana, Ram encounters Parashurama on the way back to Ayodhya from Mithila after the swayamvar. It is here that Parashurama is said to have gifted Ram his bow, Sharanga. Parashurama had another bow, Vijaya, which he received from Indra, and gave it to Karna in the Mahabharata. This makes him one of the few figures to occur in both epics. Besides Karna, Parashurama is also the mentor of Bhisma and Drona, two other warrior ascetics.Kalaripayattu: This ancient dance form/martial art is said to have been created by Parashurama, taught to him by Lord Shiva (some local myths also credit it to sage Agastya).Malabar connection: There is an interesting myth that says Parashurama was the creator of the Malabar and Konkan regions. The land, so goes the story, had been threatened by huge waves and Parashurama fought with Sea God Varuna. He dropped his axe into the sea from which rose a mass of land. Perhaps this is the reason for the many Parashurama temples in Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra.Matricide : The act of killing one’s mother is the ultimate sin in most cultures, and interestingly Parashurama is one of the few figures in Hindu myth who were guilty of it. But what could he do when it was his father Jamadagni who ordered him to do it, accusing his wife Renuka of being unchaste? (Renuka had found a passing Gandharva attractive, and Jamadagni had divined his wife’s thoughts). The story, however, has a happy ending. Pleased with Parashurama’s devotion, Jamadagni granted him a wish and the devoted son asked for the life of his mother.

EVM row: Will approach court soon, says Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Monday said that her party would approach the court regarding the EVM tampering row within two-three days.Mayawati further said that the people know about the meddling that was made in the EVMs, adding that the voters don?t trust the party.”People of Uttar Pradesh know that the EVM machines were tampered. We have decided that we go to court within 2-3 days. We won’t let them sit comfortably,” Mayawati told the media here.Launching a verbal attack on the newly formed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh, saying that the saffron party would neither be able to control law and order situation nor bring development in the state.Mayawati’s reaction comes in the wake of BSP leader Mohd Shami?s death, who was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh?s Allahabad Sunday night.”It’s the same situation, be it Samajwadi Party (SP) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power. They cannot control the law and order in the state,” she said.The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister ranted the same saying that Yogi Adityanath has been made as the Chief Minister for fulfilling Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) agenda.”By making Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister, they will not do any development but only fulfill their RSS agenda. Neither will they be able to see law and order nor development,” she said.Earlier yesterday, Mayawati cornered the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying that the saffron party has betrayed the backward and Brahmins by appointing Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.”With an intention to fulfil their RSS agenda, the BJP has named Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister who belongs to ‘Khastriya Samaj’ and by doing so the party has also insulted the ‘Brahmin Samaj’. The anti-backward class face of BJP has been exposed. The BJP has betrayed and misled the other backward and Brahmin class,” Mayawati told ANI.

Maha minister apologises over remarks disparaging Brahmins

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra Minister of State for Social Justice Dilip Kamble today tendered apology after his remarks referring to Brahmins triggered a controversy. “Am I a Brahmin to be afraid,” Kamble had said at a public event at Latur yesterday. He was talking about the “middlemen” who he alleged were ganging up against him as he had stopped their malpractices. “I am a Dalit. Am I a Brahmin to be afraid (of middlemen),” Kamble had said. Labour Minister Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar, who was present at the function, played down the remarks, saying “Today is Holi and his remarks should be taken in spirit of Holi.” However, following uproar on social media, Kamble today apologised. “If anyone’s feelings have been hurt, I tender an apology,” he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Slew of interventions on Sabarimala issue takes Supreme Court by storm

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There was a surfeit of interventions before a Supreme Court (SC) Bench on Monday over the ban on women entering the Sabarimala temple. As many as 34 applications were filed. While some supported the entry of women, most were against it.Among those who wished to intervene included an octogenarian from Kerala (for), the grandson of a priest (against) and an NGO supporting women’s rights (against).The All Kerala Brahmin Federation, the apex body of all Brahmin associations and organisations of Kerala, submitted that this case was of particular significance as any changes to the rules would directly affect their right to vocation.”The Hon’ble Court should not interfere in personal matters pertaining to religious faith and practices. Any order allowing the petition would directly affect the practices, traditions and customs of the Hindu faith,” the Chetana Conscience of Women (CCW) argued.Advocate KV Muthu Kumar, CCW counsel, added that an equal number of women members respected the existing rules and were happy to adhere to them.Advocate VK Biju, representing Rahul Easwar, grandson of a priest, submitted that the spurt in interventions was because of Kerala’s dilly-dallying on the issue. Since 2006, the state has see-sawed on its opinion , depending on who is in power. In its latest affidavit, Kerala is sticking to its 2007 affidavit which supports women’s entry to the shrine.”We cannot rely on the state (Kerala),” Biju said. “Their affidavits contradict each other,” he argued.Eighty four-year-old S Parameswaran Nampoothiri, son of a renowned ayurvedic scholar, and late Madham Sreedharan Nampoothiri, a poet, asked “whether the Devaswom Board, being an instrumentality of the state, has the right to deny entry to women solely based on menstruation.” The author, who has written several books, including one on temples, said that denying entry to women was a serious violation of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.When one of the intervenors tried to argue for the rights of God, Justice Dipak Misra said: “Do not intend to comment on this because it is not in our domain.””No doubt, apart from being omnipresent, God, He or She, is present everywhere in every atom… Won’t discuss this… There is a distinction between religion, spirituality, philosophy and ritualism,” Justice Misra said.After an almost hour-long hearing, the three-judge Bench, also comprising Justices R Bhanumati and Ashok Bhushan, reserved its judgment on transferring the case to a five-judge Constitution Bench.”Counsel for the parties shall file written submissions, questions which should fall under the constitutional framework…,” the court said.”If the practice (ban) is in line with the Constitution, we will allow it. Let us understand the Constitution and not try to understand the ways of God, we are too small for that,” Justice Misra added.The Sabarimala issue is an ongoing tussle between the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the hill-top shrine, and the Indian Young Lawyers Association (IYLA), which have challenged the denial of entry of women between 10-50 years of age from entering the temple.Last January, the Apex Court had questioned the ban, submitting that it went against the Constitution.

Uttarakhand Elections 2017: Dissidents versus Parties make polls anybody’s game in state

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Scoring low on party loyalties, elections in the state of Uttarakhand are a tough challenge to predict in anyone’s favour -the ruling Congress or the winner of 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP. Both the key parties are facing challenge from dissidents who have chosen to fight elections as independents.In Rishikesh that opens gateway to the Himalayas, the incumbent BJP is in a triangular fight. The two time BJP MLA, Premchand Agarwal, is up against dissident, Sandeep Gupta. Angry for being side stepped despite being promised a ticket, Gupta decided to fight as an independent.The struggle between the two traders in this Brahmin and Baniya dominated town has given hope to Rajpal Khairola, a native Brahmin candidate from Congress. In 2012 elections, Khairola had polled 21,819 votes against Agarwal who had got 29,090 votes.”BJP would have been a clear winner had there been a straight fight. Now a vote share of 8,000 plus in favour of Gupta can put Agarwal in trouble who is already facing anti-incumbency for not doing enough. In such scenario, Khairola who doesn’t enjoy wide acceptance can emerge as the dark horse,” says Virendra Sharma, a keen observer of Uttarakhand politics.Besides, having advantage of being a native, Kharola has worked hard to get land rights to the displaced of Tehri and enjoys support in 15 villages. Resignation by two former BJP’s district Presidents – Jyoti Sajwan and Gobind Agarwal has infused hope in Congress camp that also has support of the Left parties.In Narendra Nagar, the next stop enroute Tehri Garhwal, dissensions in both Congress and BJP has muddied the situation. Here, the sitting Congress MLA, Subodh Uniyal is fighting on BJP ticket. His main adversary is last time’s runner up from BJP, Om Gopal Rawat. Angry for being denied ticket and replaced by Uniyal, a Congress renegade, Rawat has chosen to fight as an independent.Aware of the internal conflict, Congress is tacitly supporting Rawat and to aid him has put up a weak candidate in Himanshu Bijalwan. The UKD has fielded Sardar Singh Pundhir who has been fighting elections as an independent since 2002. Pundhir’s ability to garner 3500 plus votes can prove to be a decisive factor as fight on this seat has always been very close.In 2007, Om Gopal, fighting as a UKD nominee, had defeated Uniyal by a wafer thin margin of 4 votes, while in 2012, Uniyal had defeated Om Gopal, who had shifted loyalty to BJP, by a margin of 401 votes.A little further up, in Tehri, the BJP is trying best to win its first election. It has lined up two back to back rallies of Amit Shah and Smriti Irani in Tehri on February 9 and 12 and embellished in between by rallies of Satpal Maharaj and Vijay Bahuguna.Dumping its candidates who had lost elections earlier, the BJP has fielded a new face in Dhan Singh Negi, who took on tourism minister, also his rival candidate, Dinesh Dhanai, alleging corruption charges.Winner as an independent candidate in 2012, Dhanai had joined Congress government. But unsure of Congress win, Dhanai is fighting as an independent.Unsure of a clear win, BJP has infused Modi propaganda in its campaign on every seat. Jeeps employed for campaign have posters of BJP candidates but play Modi’s hit speeches on corruption – “Na Khaunga Na Khane Dunga.”To counter Modi impact, Harish Rawat has lately promised Unemployment Card that will provide Rs 2500 per month to educated unemployed youth until he or she gets a job. The public of Uttarakhand indeed has a difficult task ahead to choose.

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