Once the face of Patidar reservation movement in Gujarat, Hardik Patel, who joined the Congress just before 2019 national elections, has now been appointed the acting president of the party. The important and interesting point is that it seems he has been elevated to this position keeping in mind the upcoming by-elections (October-November) for eight Assembly seats in the state. The Congress believes that his appointment will help the party get Patidar votes in the state. Many consider this a masterstroke, but the real question here is whether this move will benefit the party in Gujarat or not. Will Hardik be able to attract the Patidars and the youth? To analyse this one needs to understand the impact on electoral politics of the community and history of association of Patidar with Congress in the state.
The Patidar community has a dominant role in politics of Gujarat. This becomes clear If one analyses the influence of the Patidars on the Assembly seats in three out of four regions of the state; there are total of 54 seats in the Saurashtra-Kutch region in which the Patidars are dominant in 22 seats; out of a total of 68 seats in Central Gujarat they are dominant in 15; and, in North Gujarat they decide the electoral outcome of 12 out of 32 seats.
Gujarat has a total of 26 Lok Sabha constituencies. Of these 26 seats, the Patidars play a decisive role in around 12 seats. There percentage of votes in these 12 seats is as follows: Ahmedabad East 14.5%, Amreli 16.41%, Gandhinagar 17.40%, Anand 15.26%, Kheda 11.33%, Bharuch 17.75%, Mehsana 29.93%, Navsari 23.3%, Surendranagar 20.22%, Surat 24.70%, Valsad 28.5%, and Vadodara 11.1%.
Why will the Congress’ Hardik move actually backfire? The answer to this question lies in the fact that the Patidars suffered lot of hardships in the early 1980s under the Congress rule in the state. To curtail the dominance of the Patidar community in electoral politics of state, the Congress under leadership of Madhava Singh Solanki adopted the “KHAM” principle to unite other castes against the Patidars. Acronym KHAM stood for “K” meaning Kshatriya, “H” meaning Harijan, “A” meaning Adivasi (tribals) and “M” meaning Muslim. This led to fierce confrontation between the Patidars and other communities, especially Thakors. Riots erupted in several villages, in which many lives were lost. The Solanki government gave the police orders to curb the agitation at any cost. The police opened fire, which is said to have killed at least 100 people. It was widely believed then that the Solanki government was strict on the Patidars and soft on other castes. There were also incidents of looting and assault in several Patidar homes.
The wedge got further widened when before the state Assembly elections of 1985 Solanki, realising the anger among the Patidars for him and his government, following the Bakshi Commission report, which actually recommended 18% reservation for the economically and socially backward castes in the state, increased the reservation to 28% without any demand from any community to garner the support of OBCs for state elections to be held in March-April 1985. This decision was opposed by the non-reserved castes of the state, including the Patidars. However, Solanki won 149 seats out of 182 seats in the Assembly elections, which is the record till date in Gujarat. The Congress won the elections but lost the Patidars forever. After this, Patidars never supported the Congress and the party was wiped out in Gujarat.
No doubt, when Hardik Patel started the Patidar reservation movement and emerged as the face Patidar movement in the state, it was the BJP’s turn to face the electoral heat as a result the BJP bore the brunt in the civic elections. At one time, it seemed the Patidar society was willing to follow Hardik Patel whole-heartedly and make a new beginning under his leadership. But the moment Hardik joined the Congress, the Patidars started getting away from him; this was evident during the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections.
In 2019, the Congress nominated Patidar candidates in eight seats namely Rajkot, Porbandar, Vadodara, Ahmedabad East, Amreli, Mehsana, Surat and Bhavnagar and BJP gave them tickets from Porbandar, Anand, Mehsana, Rajkot, Amreli and Ahmedabad East. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, all the BJP’s Patidar candidates won and all the Congress’ Patidar candidates lost the elections!
In Saurashtra region, the BJP did suffer to an extent, but the overwhelming majority of the Patidar community remained with the party. The Congress was completely wiped out in four important cities of the state. The villages of Gujarat were affected to some extent, but by and large the Patidar society, which had been with the BJP for years, stood with the party. Thus seen over all, neither the Congress nor Hardik’s influence in the Patidar areas was visible. Out of 26 seats in the state, the Congress could not win a single seat.
By making Hardik acting president, the Congress seems to have not learnt the lessons from the 2019 election defeat. Due to Hardik’s alleviation not only the Patidar leaders of the party but also some other senior Congress leaders feel that years of their hard work and loyalty have gone waste. Had the Congress analysed the results of the 2017 Assembly elections and the 2019 national elections well, it would have understood that with Hardik at the helm of affairs neither will party be able to garner support of the Patidars nor will the senior Congress leaders support the move. All this will become clear when the state will go for bypolls for eight Assembly seats in October-November this year.
The writer is former editor of Gujarat’s oldest (156-yearold) vernacular newspaper, ‘Gujaratmitra’.
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Punjab CM declares Malerkotla state’s 23rd district, announces development projects
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday declared Malerkotla as the 23rd district of the state, while also announcing a slew of projects for the development of the historic city.
The Chief Minister made these announcements during the state-level celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, held virtually in view of the pandemic. On the occasion, the Chief Minister underscored India’s secular character, which he said was manifested in the defeat of communal forces in the recent Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
Recalling the rich history of Malerkotla, the CM said its conversion into a district, which had been a long-standing demand of the local people, would ease their hardships and enable them to resolve administrative problems more seamlessly.
Initially, said the Chief Minister, the sub-divisions of Malerkotla and Ahmedgarh, as well as the sub-tehsil of Amargarh, would be included in the newly created district. The process of bringing villages under the jurisdiction of Malerkotla district would begin later, after the conclusion of the census operations, he added. The Chief Minister directed the Deputy Commissioner Sangrur to find a suitable building to immediately start the functioning of the District Administration office. The Deputy Commissioner for the newly carved out district would be appointed soon, he said.
Announcing various development projects for Malerkotla, Capt Amarinder Singh also announced the establishment of a government college for girls and a government medical college. The medical college, in the name of Nawab Sher Mohammed Khan, would be set up soon at a cost of Rs. 500 crore, and the state has allotted 25 acres of land on Raikot Road and the first instalment of Rs. 50 crore has already been sanctioned, he added. A new bus stand will also be constructed at a cost of Rs. 10 crore, he said, adding that Malerkotla will also get a ‘Mahila Thana’ which would be exclusively managed by women.
To ensure holistic urban development, the Chief Minister also announced a sum of Rs. 6 crore for the Urban Environment Improvement Program (UEIP).
Further, to promote the cultural heritage of Malerkotla, the Chief Minister said the Punjab Government has acquired the Mubarak Manzil Palace and that he has written to His Highness the Aga Khan Foundation UK to undertake its conservation and restoration. He also recounted his memories with the then Nawab of Malerkotla and spoke about the city’s significance in Sikh history.
CHHATTISGARH TO PAY FOR EDUCATION OF CHILDREN WHO LOST PARENTS TO COVID
Raipur : The Chhattisgarh government has decided to pay for the education of children who have lost their parents/guardians to Covid and children from families where the earning member has died of Covid.
CMO Chhattisgarh tweeted, “Chhattisgarh government will pay for the education of children who lost their parents due to #COVID19, scholarship also to be provided under state’s Mahtari Dular Scheme. State govt will also take care of the education of children whose earning member of the family has died of Covid”.
Children orphaned due to Covid will also be provided with scholarships under the state’s Mahtari Dular Scheme.
The CMO also tweeted that such children will be given preference for admission in Swami Atmanand English Medium Schools. No fee will be charged.
As per the Health and Family Welfare Ministry of Chhattisgarh, 9,121 Covid cases were recorded on Friday out of 67,738 tests conducted. With this, the total number of cases in the state are reached 8,92,331. The state also recorded 195 deaths on Friday, wherein 92 were from Covid, while 103 patients died of co-morbidities. The Ministry also reported 12,274 total recoveries, including those discharged from home quarantine, bringing the total number recoveries to 7,61,592.
The social messaging app also said that it is not under any legal obligation to provide such opt-outs to its users and added that the law permits companies to not provide their services to users who do not consent to their terms.
The company also said that such practices are commonly practiced by online platforms across the industry whenever they update their terms. The company also said that online platforms are often less transparent by simply implying consent through continued use of their service after a certain date, rather than prominently and clearly giving users control and choice, as WhatsApp did.
The company also submitted that such interference in the privacy update policy would “cripple” the internet-based applications and websites industry.
The messaging app also said that the petitioners’ allegations regarding the alleged disparity with European users are meritless. The company maintained that the 2021 update, which applies to users in India, also applies to most of WhatsApp’s users around the world, including in the US. On the different policy for WhatsApp’s users in the “European Region”, the social messaging app submitted that it is due to different rules and obligations in the European Regio
SPECIAL PAROLE FOR CONVICTS SERVING MORE THAN 7 YEARS IMPRISONMENT IN HARYANA
Given the Covid crisis, Haryana has announced to give parole to convicted persons who were sentenced for more than 7 years imprisonment. It was decided at a meeting of the High Powered Committee held under the Chairmanship of Justice Rajan Gupta, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court and Executive Chairman, Haryana State Legal Services Authority.
As informed by the Prisons Department, Haryana, a total of 21,804 (108%) prisoners are presently lodged in 19 jails of Haryana against the authorized capacity of 20,041 (100%). Since the first meeting of the High Powered Committee, held on 24 March 2020, 2,580 convicts sentenced for more than 7 years imprisonment were released on special parole. Similarly, 2,094 (656+1438) convicts/undertrials sentenced up to 7 years or facing trial for offences which stipulate maximum imprisonment up to 7 years were released on special parole/interim bail under the orders of HPC.
Subsequently, with a decrease in Covid cases, the High Powered Committee had directed the return of the convicts released on parole in cases where they were undergoing imprisonment for more than 7 years in 9 phases. Till date 2,170 convicts have surrendered in jails under 8 phases and the 9th phase consisting of 280 convicts started from 14 May, 2021.
In pursuance of directions issued by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 7 May 2021 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.1 / 2020 – In RE: Contagion of Covid-19 in Prisons, and considering the emergent situation in and around due to sudden spike in Covid, the Committee has decided to release all convicts sentenced to imprisonment for more than 7 years who were released earlier on special parole under the categories prescribed by the Committee on special parole till 31 August 2021. Special parole granted to convicts who were to surrender in the 9th phase has also been extended till 3 August 2021.
However, convicts who have failed to surrender on the date fixed or are absconding or against whom new cases were registered while on special parole are not entitled to special parole. No special parole shall be applicable to those who are not covered by the categories approved by the High Powered Committee in its previous meetings.
Competent authorities have been directed to consider the concern of inmates who may not wish for release in view of their social background and the fear of becoming Covid victims and may allow them to stay in jail after taking a written declaration from them.
The Committee has also extended the parole/interim bail of 2017 convicts/undertrials who are sentenced up to 7 years/facing trial for offences which stipulate maximum imprisonment up to 7 years till 31 August 2021. State and jail authorities have been asked to consider the cases of all such convicts/undertrials for parole/interim bail as well as any other convict/undertrial covered by the categories prescribed by the High Powered Committee.
MAHARASHTRA GOVT TAKES U-TURN ON PR AGENCY ALLOTMENT FOR AJIT PAWAR
After facing backlash for the Maharashtra government’s allotment of Rs 6 crore to a private PR agency for handling Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s social media accounts, Pawar has cancelled the notification of the appointment. He clarified that he does not need any outside PR firm and the government department will do its work.
An order issued on Wednesday by RN Musale, under-secretary at the General Administration Department for the year 2021-22, stated that an external agency was to be appointed, with a budget of Rs 5.98 crore, for handling the social media accounts of NCP leader Ajit Pawar. As per the order, this was because the Directorate General of Information and Public Relations (DGIPR) lacks the professional and technical competence to deal with social media. The PR agency which was to be appointed in consultation with the Deputy Chief Minister, Secretariat and DGIPR was also tasked to see how messages and decisions by Ajit Pawar reaches the common man.
However after severe backlash, including from the Opposition, that crores of rupees were being spent merely for advertisements amid the Covid crisis, the Deputy CM – who also holds the finance and planning portfolio – cancelled the decision.
“There is no need to appoint an external agency to handle the social media of the Deputy Chief Minister’s Office. The order in this regard should be cancelled immediately,” read his press statement with an add-on clarification that communication with citizens and the media would be maintained only through the existing public relations system.
Meanwhile, BJP MLA Ram Kadam attacked Pawar, raising the question that if this was the amount to be spent for one minister, what it would be for the others. “People have died in the pandemic due to the negligence of the Maharashtra government. On one hand, the government is saying that they don’t have enough money to purchase vaccines and on the other hand, to pat their backs on social media a team is hired for the Deputy Chief Minister at a budget of Rs 6 crore. If this budget is for one minister, what is the budget for all the ministers?” he asked.
PLEA TO CANCEL CBSE, ICSE CLASS XII EXAMS FILED IN SUPREME COURT
New Delhi : A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) to cancel the CBSE and ICSE Class XII examinations.
CBSE, through its letter dated 14 April, had cancelled the examination for class X and postponed the examination for Class XII. CISCE, through its circulars dated 16 and 19 April, had cancelled the examination for Class X and postponed the examination for Class XII for an unspecified period. The plea asked the court to set aside these notifications issued only in respect of clauses dealing with the postponement of the Class XII examination.
The petition filed by advocate Mamta Sharma asked the court to devise an objective methodology to declare the result of Class XII within a specific time frame. The plea stated that for the innocent students of Class XII, “step-motherly, arbitrary, inhuman directions” have been issued to postpone their final examination for an unspecified duration.
“In view of the unprecedented health emergency and rising numbers of the Covid-19 cases in the country, the conduct of examination, either offline or online or blended in upcoming weeks is not possible and delay in the examination will cause irreparable loss to the students as time is the essence in taking admission in higher education courses in foreign universities,” the plea said.
It added that delay in declaration of results will ultimately hamper one semester of the aspiring students as admission cannot be confirmed until the Class XII result is declared.
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