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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Godhra, where locals are back to basics of life even as scars remain

It’s 6 PM in Godhra. A power cut has plunged the road that stretches out in front of the railway station into darkness. This is the same stretch that earned infamy around 15 years ago after a coach full of kar sevaks was burnt down in Godhra on the other side of the railway station. Fifty-nine people had died in the incident.The rains that poured under the impact of cyclone Ockhi makes the ride on the rundown road tougher.At a time when ‘Janeudhaari Brahmin’ and ‘Babar bhakt’ remarks are back in the political discourse in the run-up to the Assembly elections in Gujarat, Godhra is trying hard to keep pace.The election fight this time is between two leaders with Janata Dal roots — C K Raulji and Rajendra Patel — who are contesting on BJP and Congress tickets, respectively.Muslims are clearly inclined towards the Congress, but what can trouble the BJP more is the rebel factor from within. However, the BJP has made good inroads into the backward Bakshi Panch community, which has 90,000 votes as against the 55,000 Muslim votes in the seat.Local Muslims are angry with five-term MLA C K Raulji, who had won the seat on Congress ticketon two consecutive previous elections but has now shifted gear and joined the BJP.In Muslim areas, there is a hesitance to talk about Godhra. They have other important issues to worry about.At Nala Baharpura, where the famous washerman of Godhra, Chand Dobhi, lived, residents dread rains, as in every rainy season, their dwellings on the embankment rather than on the river course get submerged with rising water table.Chand Mohammad, who died in October this year, had shot into limelight in 2008 when the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi sent emissaries to meet him during a meeting in Godhra, recalling how he had served him as a laundry man for a decade in 1970s, when he lived in Godhra as RSS pracharak.While his family has yet to get the promised land, more than 250 families living in the area look for respite from the water submergence issue.”We have to leave our homes for days and take shelter in highlands during the rainy season. No one cares about our problem. We simply don’t matter,” says sexagenarian Ibrahim, who has been living in the area since 1980.At Signal Falia, where many of the convicts of the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express live, an interesting story has played out. Maria, the Pakistani wife of a Godhra carnage convict Irfan Pada, is fighting a court battle to continue her stay in India after the birth of their daughter Savera here in 2015. In January last year, the Gujarat High Court asked her to apply for an Indian citizenship. She is still battling the issue.Pada was convicted in the Godhra train burning incident and sentenced to life along with 19 others. A special trial court had on March 1, 2011, convicted 31 people, awarding the death penalty to 11 of them and acquitting 63. The High Court in October this year, reduced the death sentence of the 11 convicts to ‘life in prison.’There were a total of 134 accused in the case, out of which 14 were released due to lack of evidence, five were juveniles, five died during court proceedings of over nine years, 16 are absconding, and the trial was conducted against 94 accused.One of the 63 acquitted is Abdul Assu Mistri, who sells tea at Gondra Mohalla on Indore Baroda Highway in Godhra. A resident of Idgah Mohalla, Mistri says he has to spend nine years in jail from 2002 to 2011, which has wrecked his family. He is now worried about the future of his two sons and daughters.Over a thousand garages are lined up in Godhra. Muslim youths are considered expert mechanics and vehicles are brought here from far away places for repair work. But there is no industry in the region and youth from both communities migrate in larger numbers in search of employment. Sitting MLA Raulji, after joining the BJP, impressed upon the party leadership the need to create jobs in the area.The nearby Halol is an auto hub, but Godhra is not a beneficiary as locals are not employed, says Mehfooz Patel.Vipul Soni, a swarnkar from Ahmedbad, however, says the road between Ahmedabad and Godhra was a narrow one and the connectivity improved a lot under the Modi regime in Gujarat. “Development has happened under Modi and people will still vote in Modi’s name,” he says confidently.Considered a veteran from Godhra, Raulji who is from the Kshatriya community and a close confidante of former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, did not vote for Congress leader Ahmed Patel in the keenly fought Rajya Sabha elections this year and was subsequently expelled from the Congress for cross-voting.After Raulji joined the BJP, party’s state chief Jitu Vaghani went to town declaring it was the beginning of the annihilation of the Congress. Raulji has even if he did not get minority votes, it will not affect his chances of winning the seat.Raulji, who first won the seat in 1990 on a Janata Dal ticket, won from Godhra on a BJP ticket in the 1991 bypoll and again in 1995.Besides antagonising around 55,000 Muslim voters in the city, Raulji’s second sojourn with the BJP has also ruffled feathers in the party.A popular face in the area, Jaswant Parmar, who heads his party’s Bakshi Panch (an OBC caste) Morcha in the state and was a key contender for the ticket, has now entered the fray as an independent.The Bakshi Panch community, who is mostly engaged in agriculture, has around 90,000 members in the rural part of the constituency.Rural Godhra has around 25,000 tribals and 12,000 Dalits. Patidars, Sindhis, Baniyas, Sonis (swarnkar), Rajputs, Brahmins and others put together make around 50,000, a little less than Muslims in urban centres.Parmar, who is a surgeon by profession and runs a clinic in Godhra town, can also cut into some city votes. Parmar was associated with RSS for long and his mother is a senior leader in BJP.Congress candidate Rajendra Patel had won the seat once in 1998 on a Janata Dal ticket, defeating Congress’s Abdulrahim Khalpa, the last Muslim MLA from the region — he had won the seat for three consecutive terms in 1975, 1980 and 1985.Patel, a leader from the Bakshi Panch community, has the image of a rabble-rouser and believes in aggressive backward politics. With a Kshatriya canidate from from BJP and a Bakshi Panch candidate from Congress, the role of independent Jaswant Parmar, who also belongs to Bakshi Panch community could turn crucial in election outcome.
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Gujarat Elections 2017 | In Mandvi, it’s Shaktisinh Gohil against Virendrasinh Jadeja

One of the Congress’s most prominent faces in Gujarat, Shaktisinh Gohil, is taking on BJP’s Virendrasinh Jadeja from Mandvi seat in Kutch. Both belong to the Kshatriya community, which has a sizeable presence in the constituency.Gohil, one of the few suave faces in Gujarat Congress, had lost in the 2012 elections against Koli strongman Purushottam Solanki from Bhavnagar Rural seat, but was re-elected to the Assembly from Abdasa in 2014, albeit with a margin of just over 750 votes.However, instead of contesting again from Abdasa, Gohil is in the fray from the adjacent Mandvi constituency, which BJP’s Tarachand Chheda had won in the previous elections. BJP has dropped Chheda, and fielded Jadeja from the seat. There are a significant number of minority voters in Mandvi, in addition to Dalits as well as Patidars, who give an advantage to Congress.Gohil is focusing his campaign mainly on issues related to Kutch, such as lack of development in the area, delay in completion of Narmada canal network, failure to create enough jobs, among others.While the BJP has dismissed Gohil as an outsider, he responds by saying it was in his destiny to contest from Mandvi, “so that I can clear some past dues of Kutch”. His rival and BJP candidate Virendrasinh Jadeja is relatively lesser known face, and he faces a big challenge in the contest against Gohil. ConstituencyMandviPrevious Results2002: Cong2007: BJP2012: BJP (Tarachand Chheda dropped)Total Voters2,24,902Male1,16,476Female1,08,426
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Gujarat Elections 2017: Battle goes down to the wire with BJP retaining the edge

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both sides are claiming the battle for Gujarat is a done deal. Congress senses a surging support leading to a sweep and BJP is comforting itself with the idea of a good majority. A majority which will see its score card improve. Both propositions are far from true. If you go beyond the rhetoric and look at the real ground situation, this election is going down to the wire. BJP has the organizational advantage but anger within the trading community and Patels is absolutely palpable. You can feel it in Surat. One doesn’t need to talk about it. But central to this election remains the M factor which makes the fight so close.It is Money and Muslim which plainly and simply dominates the Gujarat campaign. BJP’s campaign is a two-tier cake. The base of the campaign remains same like the old days when Muslims were politically far more visible and assertive on the streets. The idea is to attach a socially corroding entity with Muslims who bullied the passive Gujarati Hindu and made it difficult for its women to walk safely on the streets. Muslim, a word is not mentioned but the audience is asked to relive the moment.The problem of that strategy is it doesn’t connect with the young generation of voters born after BJP came to power. They have not lived the past but have been asked to relive it by sharing memories of the elders. At the end, Muslim also gets tagged with the KHAM factor, a caste agglomeration which led to a massive victory for the Congress in 1980s. KHAM stands for Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslims. The attack ends with KHAM being a caste grouping opposed to Hindutva laced with development. The latter is proposed as a better deal than KHAM. Hindutva gets positioned as a counter to the caste as the main ingredient of election.
ALSO READ Gujarat elections 2017: ‘Chai pe Charcha’ returns with ‘Vikas’, BJP’s carpet-bombing session kicks off today On the other hand, Congress too has not moved beyond money mantra. Rahul Gandhi has only spoken about how money has become elusive for the small traders and business community. Whether it is Jay Shah’s money, demonetization, or pinch felt by traders who are up in arms against BJP on the issue of GST, he has ensured that campaign doesn’t move beyond it. Rahul’s money campaign is also laced with soft Hindutva. It is ensured that tilak does not recede from his forehead through the day. No temple is missed and all popular eating joints are covered with khakras and chai dominating the photo shoot.The tension between the two M’s is one of the two major talking points of this election. The other undoubtedly, is how the influential Patidar community will vote. Hardik Patel is an untested element in electoral politics. But even his detractors are amazed at the crowd pulling capability of the Patidar leader who at young age of 23 has sent shivers down the BJP’s spine. You have to see the photos to believe it. Crowds just walk in. His support base is substantial. Hardik’s journey has been spectacular but not much different from caste based leaders in India who shoot to fame for a short time only for politics to cut them to size later. But that will be different story to tell. BJP’s only hope is that Patidars would only spite them but not bite them to damage them electorally.
ALSO READ Gujarat elections 2017: Tug of war between two BJP camps for 11 seatsNarendra Modi remains immensely popular and BJP’s USP is cutting-edge election machinery which goes down to the last voter. It doesn’t depends on public mood but uses its own internal resources to mobilise the core base to vote. For this very reason, BJP has the edge in this election but it does not mean that Congress campaign has been poor. Rahul Gandhi has drawn people’s attention. His campaign has been relentless and has forced BJP to respond. This is new in Gujarat politics.Now the question is as to what will happen at the hustings. Answer is very clear. If the fight is between Congress and BJP, then BJP will win Gujarat effortlessly but if the election becomes a fight between people of Gujarat and BJP, the latter will lose and cause a political earthquake in New Delhi leading to sharp political alignment. Voting is still a few days away and death overs are left. With Modi moving into the fray, the battle between two M’s will intensify.

Padmavati row: UP police books Thakur Abhishek Som who offered Rs 5 crore for heads of Deepika, Bhansali

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Uttar Pradesh police on Friday booked a Meerut resident from the Kshatriya community who announced a bounty of Rs 5 crore on the heads of film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actor Deepika Padukone Demanding a ban on Padmavati, Thakur Abhishek Som, an office-bearer of the Kshatriya Samaj has announced a reward of Rs 5 crore to anyone beheading film Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone who played the character of Padmavati in the movie.“A case has been filed against Som under section 115 (abetment of offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life) and section 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC at the Nauchandi police station,” Meerut superintendent of police (city) Maan Singh Chauhan told Times of IndiaHe also said that efforts are being made to arrest the accused soon.Thakur Som, who is an active member of the Samajwadi Party, has warned the Bollywood actress to leave the country or face beheading. He had also threatened the Director Sanjay to withdraw release of the controversial film or be ready to face the consequences.“The role played by Deepika has hurt the sentiments of Rajput women. No Rajput woman dances in public. Director Sanjay has no knowledge of the history of Rajputs in the country. He has distorted historical facts and should be punished,” stated Som. Meanwhile, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena has also threatened that it will intensify its protest against ‘Padmavati’ if the film was not banned.The film features Deepika Padukone in the title role of Rani Padmavati, with Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji.Bhansali has been under attack from the group since he started shooting for the movie. The set of the movie was vandalised twice – in Jaipur and Kolhapur – and the director was roughed up by Karni Sena members in Jaipur in January.The Supreme Court had recently refused to entertain a plea seeking a stay on the release of Padmavati, saying the Censor Board was yet to certify the movie.Bhansali, through a video statement, has sought to clear the air surrounding the film, saying he was careful in depicting the “Rajput honour and dignity” in the film.

Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh threatens to set ablaze theatres that screen Padmavati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati which will hit the theatres next month, the BJP MLA from Hyderabad T Raja Singh has threatened to set ablaze theatres that will screen the film in the state.The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, is slated for release on December 1. The MLA made the comment at a congregation of Rajasthan Rajput Samaj in Secunderabad, which was later shared on his Facebook page.Singh who represents Goshamahal constituency has alleged that the film distorts history and disregards the Rajputs and Rajasthani culture.“The fact was that Khilji had attacked Chittorgarh, causing mass self-immolation (Jauhar) by more than 16,000 women who lived in the fort at the time,” reported Hindustan Times quoting Singh.The post went viral within hours, receiving over 38,000 views and nearly 4,000 likes. “I will be in the forefront in the struggle. If any of you are arrested or harassed, I will use all my influence to come to your rescue and get you out of cases,” he said.Last week, the BJP approached the Election Commission seeking its intervention to stop the release of ‘Padmavati’ without a pre-release screening by the Kshatriya community, saying ‘distortion of facts’ in the movie will hurt their sentiments.Earlier, Shankersinh Vaghela, an influential Kshatriya leader and former chief minister of the state, had made an identical demanded, and warned that if it was released without the community’s approval, there could be violence.Rajasthan-based Rajput community group Karni Sena had opposed the film, alleging distortion of history, and vandalized its sets.(With agency inputs)

Stop release of Padmavati, BJP leaders to CEC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Alleging that the movie ‘Padmavati’ distorts history, Kshatriya community leaders belonging to BJP have written to the Chief Election Commissioner demanding that the film’s release be put on hold ahead of the Gujarat elections.BJP vice-president IK Jadeja said that they have received representations from Kshatriya community in 17-18 districts of Gujarat expressing concern about distortion of history in the movie starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.”There are reports that makers of the film have distorted history. Rani Padmavati is presented in poor light. Our demand is that the film should not be allowed to release.The Censor Board should review it again, and allow it to be released only with appropriate certification. This is important so that no community is offended, and unnecessary controversies are avoided before elections,” Jadeja said.Jadeja, along with other BJP leaders such as Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Pradipsinh Jadeja, Jaydrathsinh Parmar, and Balvantsinh Rajput, who too belong to Kshatriya community, had met and decided to represent to the CEC about the movie.The BJP leader accused Padmavati director and producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali of generating controversies for publicity of his movies.The movie has led to angry protests at several places, most notably Rajasthan, from where Rani Padmavati hailed. Members of a Kshatriya outfit had stopped the movie’s shooting a few months ago, slapped Bhansali, and even vandalised the film’s sets. More recently, a rangoli depicting Deepika Padukone as Padmavati was destroyed in a mall in Surat. The movie is slated to be released on December 1, while Gujarat goes to polls on December 9 and 14.

Govt challenges SIC order on info disclosure panel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state government has filed a writ petition challenging the order by the state information commission (SIC) which stated that a committee including citizens be formed to help the government in suo motu disclosure of details under the Right To Information (RTI).Former state chief information commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad had passed an order asking for an institutional mechanism to be put in place including citizens so that there is better implementation of disclosure of information by the government. Given on July 31, 2015, it directed the then chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya who had told DNA that the order will be complied with.The commission order had said that a technical advisory committee (TAC) be formed on the lines of BMC, which helps the latter better disclose information. The order was passed after a complaint was filed by Bhaskar Prabhu, a member of the BMC’s TAC seeking measures wherein corrective inputs for better implementation of RTI Act can be given.When the SIC order was not implemented, SK Nangia, an RTI activist filed an application to check on it. In its reply dated July 17, the government said that the SIC order has been challenged in the high court.”They have challenged that directive which is a stupid move. This does not speak well of the government because it was a positive directive. The idea of the approach was to have people’s participation in government with the spirit to improve the suo motu disclosure and compliance of RTI applications. Government officers do not give proper and full information. With the implementation of this order we were looking to have a regular dialogue with government,” said Nangia.Prabhu said, “By challenging the order, the government has shown that it is not interested in transparency. Even Department of Personnel and Training, the nodal agency for India in RTI implementation, has issued an advisory that there will be dialogue with citizens. Maharashtra was the first state to enact its own transparency law. However, this move does not aid in ensuring transparency.”Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis did not respond to SMS from DNA.

Vaghela’s Cong exit to alter politics in poll-bound Guj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The sudden move by Shankarsinh Vaghela to quit the Congress has the potential to alter political equations in Gujarat, where he is likely to pitch himself as a third alternative ahead of the Assembly polls, according to political observers. While the former chief minister has not yet revealed his future plans, his exit from the Congress has worried both the opposition party and the ruling BJP, they say. Speculation is rife in both parties about the 77-year-old veteran politician’s next move and how will it impact their prospects in the crucial Assembly elections, in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While the Congress is eyeing a return to power in Gujarat where it is in opposition for nearly two decades, the BJP is seeking to extend its good run in the state. The BJP in Gujarat lacks a leader with mass connect, after Modi and BJP president Amit Shah left the state to helm the party’s national leadership. The Congress, too, does not have any leader with mass appeal after Vaghela’s exit, an observer said. Both the Congress and the BJP are aware of the political heft of the Kshatriya strongman, who wields a considerable influence in North Gujarat. Quitting Congress on his 77th birthday on Friday, Vaghela said, “Today, I free myself from Congress and I set Congress free,” and indicated that he will chart an independent course. Sources close to Vaghela say he will reveal his future plans shortly. His son Mahendrasinh Vaghela, a Congress MLA, while hinting that Vaghela plans to contest the next elections, earlier told(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

No immediate plan to join hands with Vaghela: Hardik Patel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel today said he has no immediate plans to plunge into electoral politics in his home state Gujarat or strike an alliance with Shankarsinh Vaghela who quit the Congress. Patel said he will continue to focus on raising issues concerning his community and the agriculture sector and that he would take a call on fighting polls at an appropriate time. “Right now, I have no plans to contest elections. I neither have any political intentions, nor do I represent any party. I’m just fighting for the cause of society and the farm sector,” Patel told reporters here. Assembly polls in Gujarat state are due later this year. Asked how he viewed Vaghela’s move, Patel said the decision of the 77-year-old leader to quit the Congress was right considering his age. Patel said he neither has any plans to forge an alliance with Vaghela nor has he held talks with the Kshatriya strongman about it. Vaghela had yesterday announced that he was quitting the Congress amid speculations that he may float a political front by roping in parties and social outfits outside the Congress and the BJP. On the death of five farmers in a police firing at Mandsaur, he said that just like in Gujarat, the voice of farmers was being muzzled in Madhya Pradesh as well. Talking about his visits to the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, he said, “Come what may, but I will keep visiting MP. In the next few months, I will come and address farmers’ meeting at Gwalior and other places in the state. Do whatever you want.” Patel demanded that farm loans be waived across the country and cultivators given pension after they attain the age of 50. He also wanted a national commission to study farmers’ issues to be set up. The Patidar leader sought withdrawal of criminal cases lodged against farmers in Mandsaur and Neemuch districts during the farmers’ stir last month. Patel claimed he had not visited MP ahead of farmers’ stir but his name was falsely being linked to it, alleging a BJP leader was behind it.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

People should use RTS services using mobile app, portal: Comm

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief commissioner of Right to Services (RTS) Swadheen Kshatriya today appealed to the people to use the services under RTS through newly launched mobile app RTS Maharashtra and portal Aaple Sarkar. Kshatriya was speaking to media after addressing the Nagpur divisional workshop which was attended by divisional commissioner Anoop Kumar, municipal commissioners and senior officials from police and other government departments. Kshatriya said it is a challenge before the government to reach out to common man with the information and benefits of the RTS Act. He added the services have still not properly reached to comman man. “There is a need for spreading awareness among the people about the RTS Act,” he said. The services under RTS include giving death, birth, domicile, caste, income and various other certificates. Citizens can apply for it online on the mobile app and also on Aaple Sarkar portal. The chief commissioner informed that he has directed the concerned officials to hold a public awareness programme on August 15 at all the gram sabhas in Maharashtra regarding RTS. Similarly, Aaple Sarkar centre will be started in every gram panchayat across Maharashtra, informed Kshatriya. He also praised the work initiated in Nagpur division such as ‘certificate at your doorstep’ and ‘firte kiosk’ (mobile kiosk) initiative. He also informed about the digitally signed certificate programme which has helped in curbing touts.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Maha Service Commission’s ‘first’ hearing not open court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra State Services Commission (MSSC) on Monday did not allow members of civil society and journalists to attend its “first” hearing. Only the complainant Shailesh Gandhi and representative officials of the departments that were served notices were allowed.Chief of MSSC, Swadheen Kshatriya, in an SMS response to DNA had confirmed the hearing was his office’s first when categorically asked about the same. Gandhi filed a complaint when public authorities did not notify services even two years after the landmark Right to Services Act was passed.When asked why journalists and others were not allowed, Kshatriya said, “I will take a call soon if future hearings will be open court hearings.”Bhaskar Prabhu, who filed a complaint for not being allowed, said, “It is a trend that all such hearings are open court hearings. It is unacceptable and there will be no confidence on RTS commissionerate level if they are not.”On the hearing, Kshatriya said, “Gandhi raised fundamental issues about the law while the government stated that services have to be notified ‘from time to time’. In the next hearing, other officers will be heard for which the date will be fixed in a day or two.”Gandhi said, “GAD said that law intends to slowly. ‘From time to time’ in law meant if new services were added they would be notified. Their interpretation of law is perverse.”

Finally, freezer for Anandpal’s body reaches Sanwrad village

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It has been eleven days since gangster Anandpal’s encounter, the tussle over his cremation continues. Although cops believe that the issue could be resolved soon, however, they are not optimistic of the cremation to happen onWednesday. Meanwhile, an understanding has been reached between the family members and police after a deep freezer reached the village to keep the gangster’s body.The freezer reached Sanwrad around 1.30am on Monday night after which the body was kept in it. Sources revealed that an understanding has been reached over some smaller issues but the family is still pressing for a CBI investigation into the matter.“The family members are still adamant on CBI investigation and only after that they will agree to cremate the body,” sources said.Meanwhile, the family is also hoping to get Anandpal’s brother Manjeet out on parole. The lawyers in the matter are planning to apply for the same and the police department is playing the waiting game now, since the matter involves court.Interestingly, several Rajput community leaders are still in Sanwrad and sources revealed that the leaders might now decide to take the legal route than wait for the state government to request the CBI for investigation.Moreover, Anandpal’s lawyer, AP Singh heading a delegation of lawyers and representatives from Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha handed over a memorandum to the Director of Central Vigilance Commission and also met with the chairperson of National Women Commission in relation to the cruelty, violation of women rights and demanded a high level enquiry into the matter.

OBC leader seeks farm loan waiver in Guj, warns of hunger stir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>OBC leader Alpesh Thakor today threatened to sit on an indefinite hunger strike if the Gujarat government did not announce a complete loan waiver for farmers in the state by the next month. The Thakor community leader claimed that out of a total of 63 lakh farmers in Gujarat, around 40 lakh were under debt. His demand comes close on the heels of protests in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh by farmers who were pressing for loan waiver, among other things. Farmers in Maharashtra called off their agitation on Sunday after the state government announced a loan waiver. “The situation of farmers in Gujarat is no different from any other part of the country. Out of the total 63 lakh farmers, 40 lakh are under debt. If the Maharashtra government can waive farmers’ loans, then why can’t the Gujarat government do it?” Thakor, the president of OBC-SC-ST Ekta Manch as well as of Kshatriya Thakor Sena, asked. “I demand that the state government should announce a complete farm loan waiver. We are giving them one week’s ultimatum. If our demand is not met by June 20, we will launch our stir the next day. I urge all the farmers not to pay the loan instalments till the government accepts our demand,” said Thakor. Starting June 21, farmers across the state will give memoranda to the local authorities at taluka and district levels for two weeks, Thakor, who has emerged as a prominent OBC leader in Gujarat, said. “If this does not work, I along with thousands of farmers would gather at Gandhinagar or Ahmedabad on July 8, 9 and 10. We will sit on an indefinite hunger strike to mount pressure on the government. I urge all the farmers unions to join hands for this mega agitation,” he added. Apart from the loan waiver, Thakor demanded free water for irrigation, free organic fertiliser and formation of a joint committee of farmers and government to decide minimum support price (MSP) for farm produce. The state Congress unit has also given a call to block roads on June 16 to highlight various issues concerning farmers. However, Thakor accused both the ruling BJP as well as the opposition Congress of playing politics in the name of farmers. “As the Assembly polls are approaching here, both the BJP and the Congress are doing their politics to woo farmers. But, both the parties will have to answer farmers as to what they have done for them so far,” Thakor said. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani did not give a clear answer when he was asked if the state government was mulling to waive farm loans on the lines of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. “Our government is pro-farmer. We have taken many important steps for the welfare of farmers. We are doing so many things for them and will do whatever is necessary in the future,” Rupani told mediapersons here today.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Cong MLA unhappy with party, wants key posts for Patels

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what could spell trouble for Gujarat Congress ahead of the assembly polls later this year, its senior MLA Raghavjee Patel has slammed the party’s state leaders accusing them of ignoring the Patidar community, a decisive vote bank in the state. Patel, who represents Jamnagar-Rural assembly constituency, claimed that though his community has voted for the Congress in the last year’s panchayat polls in Gujarat, Patidars were not given important role in the state. “If Congress wants to win the upcoming assembly polls, it must give importance to Patidars. But, despite the fact that Congress won the last district and taluka panchayat polls due to the Patel votes, the state leadership tried hard to create a rift between the Patel leaders of the party instead of giving importance to them,” he told reporters in Jamnagar. “I had told the party leaders that Patel voters can ensure our victory this time. I urged the leaders to promote Patidars within the party. From the two important posts- the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and state party president – one post must be given to a Patel leader,” he said. At present, two Kshatriya leaders – Shankersinh Vaghela and Bharatsinh Solanki – are holding these posts respectively. In the recent past, Vaghela had offered to step down as the LoP to make way for a Patidar leader. Raghavjee Patel, a popular Patidar as well as farmer leader of Saurashtra region, is considered close to Vaghela. Commenting on Patel’s demand and the way he questioned the party leadership, state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki today said the party has a democratic set-up, wherein people can express views freely. He added that the party in-charge Ashok Gehlot has taken note of Patel’s views. “Congress party has a democratic set up, where everyone is free to express their views. We are like a family and it is natural that each member has different views. Gehlotjee has taken note of what Raghavjee has said and we will discuss this matter,” said Solanki.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Providing service is no mercy but duty of officials, will create awareness on it: RTS chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even though the “revolutionary” Right to Services Act may have been a flagship Act of the government, the lack of its awareness by government is telling. Two years to have a commission with frugal staff, one is also yet to hear if a person was even fined for not providing a service. In his first interview, Swadheen Kshatriya, the first commissioner of Right to Services Commission talks about how he looks to make RTS popular by involving civil society, sensitizing officers and pushing the government to sooner notify services that are run to 379 of over 1,000 services that need to be notified for citizens to avail them as per the Act. Excerpts of his interview with the DNA.What are the first things on your mind as RTS chief?Foremost in my mind is to create awareness about the Act. As of now there is little awareness. Meetings with officials is first part of it and two (revenue) divisions (of six) have already been covered where I am sensitizing them about it. I also intend to take meeting with civil society members. It will be a good idea to have a committee. This is a revolutionary law, through which we will providing services as duty and obligation and not as a mercy to citizens in timely manner. It is great step in democracy and empowering people.How have the first two months in office been like? Has any case come to you?There are three stage in this Act. There is designated officer who is to give service and provide reasons in writing for not giving them. Commission is the third stage. First and second appellate is within the department. Things will take time for appeals to come. I get representation every day. People write to us directly saying we did not get service. We are doing ‘margdarshan’ of who is the designated officer for them to approach first. We have put on website how to make application, acknowledgement, and proformas. Since there are stages and little awareness, it is taking time. Our request is that people make applications online, though offline is not barred. We want more and more people to use online portal through Aaple Sarkar and also use free app specially made of it. They need not even go to office and that will help us monitor easily. If people make applications online, it will be easier to monitor too. As of now 79 lakh application have been made of which 56 lakh have been disposed and rest in process of being disposed.Unlike RTI, which citizens made popular, it is not the case with RTS. They critical and disillusioned of its effectiveness. It has been two years and we are yet to hear anyone even get penalized. Citizens feel penalty is low too.The Act is powerful. It is precisely for its implementation that commission is made. The government is serious on about its implementation in letter and spirit. I am very confident that once my office is process of settling down, things will move. Once the office is settled, we will play an important role. We are asking for deputation of staff and also outsourcing it. The penalty is not less. Penalty of Rs 5,000 will be paid by officer’s salary.Recommendation of action will be taken very seriously and the report will be submitted to the legislature and can be debated. In my opinion recommendation will be taken seriously.Timely services allow citizens to live freely in developed countries and they are not weighed down by them not coming their way. They have certain ‘to do’ things they can ‘trash it out’ for them. Will happen here?We would like citizens to move in the same direction and that they should have assurance that they get services. After one or two conditions like minimum documents that have to be given to the officers, an eligible applicant, we will ensure that service will be delivered in stipulated period of time. We will create that kind of environment.Does the Act empower you enough? Who will create awareness about the Act?The Act gives tremendous powers like general superintendence, direction and management of affairs and recommend steps to public authority for effective delivery of public services that will make delivery more transparent. I will be creating awareness of the Act.Are you satisfied with the pace of notification of services considering services can only be used after they are notified? Have you given any time frame? Which ones should be prioritized?We began with 50 services and within a period of one and half year 379 were notified when I left. We still have a long way to go. Around 25 departments have notified and there are 40 departments in all. All departments must bring all services under the ambit of this law. I would say around the figure should touch 1,000. I will take it up with the government so that services are notified soon. Right now, I am focusing on what is happening in 379 services. Maximum services are coming to revenue (53 lakhs) followed by surprisingly labour (11 lakh). Services will have to be notified as per what citizens want most. If there are services that are notified and no one has applied for it, either it is not percolated down or service which is no longer relevant has been notified. We will monitor these and those that are required most, departments will have to notify them. One they are notified, compliance will be more effective. It will be a continuous ongoing exercise.A chief and commission comes into place as soon as Act is enacted. Even if an appeal stage is to be taken into consideration, it took too much time for commission to come up. Since you were part of the government, can you throw some light on it.It is a fact that it has taken time. But I think that Act and structure of the commission and commissioners has been made very effective and powerful. This will make different in ensuring that services are provided in time bound manner. From here onward it will be our effort to see that it will be a different environment in which people get services.Timely ServicesAge, Nationality and Domicile Certificate – 15 days lncome Certificate – 15 days Senior Citizen Certificate – 7 daysAgriculturist Certificate – 15 days Non Creamy Layer Certificate – 21 days Birth Certificate – 5 days Death Certificate – 5 days Certificate of Niradhar – 20 days

Dalit writer threatened over book on Maharana Pratap

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>69-year-old Dalit writer Kusum Meghwal has alleged threat to her life over objection by a few groups on her new book on Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap. According to the complaint filed by the writer at Ambamata police station in Udaipur, she had been receiving threat calls from a few fringe groups since the past week over her portrayal of the Rajput warrior in her book ‘Maharana Pratap Bhil Rajputra The – Kshatriya Ya Rajput Nahi’. The book claims that Maharana Pratap belonged to the Bhil community and was elevated as Rana of Mewar later. Meghwal claimed that she was also being bullied on social media for raising a fresh debate on the warrior. “The writer had lodged a complaint following which I have asked the police official concerned to investigate the matter. She has given us the phone numbers and a probe is underway,” SP Udaipur, Rajendra Prasad told(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.

Sumit Mullick appointed as Maharashtra Chief Secretary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior IAS officer Sumit Mullick was on Tuesday appointed as the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra.He will succeed Swadheen Kshatriya, who was due for retirement on January 31, but was given a month’s extension.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis signed the file on Mullick early this morning, an official from the CMO said.Mullick, a 1982 batch IAS officer is Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) and currently serving as the Chief Protocol Officer in the General Administration department.He had earlier served as the Divisional Commissioner of Amravati and worked as Secretary of School Education.He was also Secretary to the Governor.Mullick is the senior most bureaucrat in the state after Kshatriya and will retire in April 2018.When contacted, Mullick told PTI that he will take charge this evening.

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