First Sourav, now monk: Why new names crop up as BJP’s face in Bengal - The Daily Guardian
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First Sourav, now monk: Why new names crop up as BJP’s face in Bengal

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For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been dominating the political scene in India since 2014 when it came to power, West Bengal remains the last big citadel to conquer. It has been a meteoric rise for the BJP in the state in the last two years or so. From being nowhere in the 2016 Assembly elections to becoming the main Opposition, or probably ascending to a winning position, the party’s emergence as a contender has been one of the more fastpaced political turnaround stories in any state of India.

However, CM Mamata Banerjee is still a considerable force to reckon with, considering her strong minority vote-bank in the state, which constitutes around 27 per cent of votes. Despite her government’s several failures and allegations of corruption against it, the media, both at the national level and state, is abuzz with finding a probable candidate in the BJP who will take on the current CM. It is not surprising that from the several names doing the rounds as chief ministerial candidates of the BJP, some of them are nothing more than figments of imagination or assumptions or mere political predictions.

With Sourav Ganguly’s name already on the forefront of such an imaginary list of the BJP’s CM candidates, another name has propped up, once again from nowhere. The name of Swami Kripakarananda, a doctor-turned-multi-talented monk of the Ramakrishna Mission has surprised many in the political circles, even in the BJP-RSS ranks, much to the embarrassment of all involved: the Sangh Parivar, Ramakrishna Mission and Swami Kripakarananda himself.

 Now, the pertinent questions are: Do these speculations have any basis, or are these just ‘baseless rumours’ as claimed by Ramakrishna Mission, the BJP and the RSS top brass?

But if these are only ‘rumours’, from where are these rumours emanating? And what are the reasons behind them?

Swami Kripakarananda, whose name was Bhabotosh Chakraborty in his pre-monastic life, suddenly came into the media and social media limelight on the back of his outstanding singing talent in Indian classical music, which went viral just a couple of months ago. The saffronclad monk mesmerising the audience with his classical songs became a topic of discussion on Facebook. His vocal skills clubbed with his academic brilliance — he was one among state toppers in Class 10 and 12 Boards, and went on to become a successful doctor before turning to monkhood — is a story any filmmaker or writer would love as the subject for his next film or novel.

On top of that, Swami Kripakarananda is an orator par excellence. His lectures, available on YouTube, will inspire anyone aspiring to be successful in life. His lectures advise us to not only be successful but be courageous, wise and moral as well. He has termed our current education policy as outdated, rusted and lacking in moral elements, making it unable to guide our human resources in the proper direction. His views on the educational system of our country, which must have a combination of ancient Indian valuebased education and modern technological education, matches the views of the BJP-RSS ranks somewhere. His thoughts on India and the youth of the country have some similarities with the Sangh think tank, which might be the reason behind the speculation about his candidacy. Moreover, one section of the Bengali community and youth has always wanted an educated, sophisticated and visionary individual as their CM. Kripakarananda ji has all the requirements of an ideal leader.

However, Ramakrishna Mission has refuted the news as baseless. Swami Suvirananda, the general secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, has said on record, “The news is baseless and there is not an iota of truth in it. Ramakrishna Mission monks cannot take part in politics as instructed by Swami Vivekananda. It is unfortunate that the Mission is being dragged into the matter without any verification.”

Even close friends of Swami ji have rubbished the news as a pure figment of the imagination of some people. His batch-mate in NRS Medical College, Dr Gautam Ganguly told The Daily Guardian, “I know Bhabotosh for many years. Like him, I have also been a devotee of Ramakrishna Mission from a very early age. So, we have been in touch all the time. This news is baseless and there is no truth in it.”

 Dr Ganguly also said that Swami Kripakarananda ji is currently posted in the Varanasi ashram of Ramakrishna Mission where he is serving the poor and helpless Covid-19 patients at the charitable hospital of the Mission. He informed that Kripakarananda is extremely embarrassed at the news of him aspiring to be the CM of West Bengal.

 “He is a different kind of man altogether from the very beginning. He has been actively associated with the Ramakrishna Mission from his student days. We all knew he would be a monk one day. He is above any position and power.”

 There are probably other reasons behind these speculative stories. The stories regarding unknown faces as the BJP’s CM candidate might have come from two fronts. The disgruntled elements in the state BJP, who have not been in good terms with the present leadership under state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, might have floated theses names to keep Ghosh on the back foot. One BJP state leader, talking on condition of anonymity, said that there are many leaders in the BJP who harbour ambitions of being the CM candidate and that they may have floated the names to thwart Ghosh from being the face of BJP to take on Mamata Banerjee in the upcoming state elections.

He said that the other possibility may be that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) wants to show that the state BJP does not have a quality leader with the same stature as Mamata Banerjee, who like the previous 2016 Assembly elections, would take the fight to a personal battle, by asking people to think of her as the candidate in all 294 seats. By coming up with such unknown names, the TMC may be trying to project and turn the leadership void in the BJP to its advantage. The Modi-Shah duo’s habit of coming up with unknown faces at the last moment is also encouraging people to add fuel to the fire in this situation.

A national-level RSS leader based in West Bengal refuted this leadership talk as baseless as he reminded the Sangh’s emphasis on collective leadership. Though distancing himself from internal politics of the state BJP, he said the BJP is a cadre-based party unlike the Congress or TMC and it can go to the polls without projecting anyone as the CM candidate.

 At the same time, he said, “There is no dearth of leaders in any of our organisations. Is there any organisation as disciplined as the organisations of Sangh Parivar?”

“Our swayamsevaks hold many top positions right now. Have we imported Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Manohar Lal and several other leaders from outside? Our system has produced many patriotic leaders who can guide the nation on the right path,” he added. “Right now, we are more concerned about the plight of Hindus in West Bengal. It does not matter who will be the next CM; it is very important that the present government should go as there is no security of Hindus under this government,” he concluded.

One has to wait for a few more months to find out whether the BJP would select someone as the CM candidate before the elections or go to the elections collectively only to select someone after the victory as the next chief minister of West Bengal.

Biswajit Jha is a journalist-turned-social entrepreneur, columnist, and author. His book ‘Bike Ambulance Dada’ will be published by Penguin India very soon.

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Adhir calls Mamata ‘PM Modi’s middleman’, says she is helping BJP by opposing Congress

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West Bengal

Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Saturday called West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “middleman” and accused her of helping Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by opposing the Congress.

While speaking to ANI here today, Chowdhury said, “Mamata Banerjee is helping BJP by opposing Congress. She is becoming a middleman of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” “When Sonia Gandhi chaired a meeting of opposition parties in August, Mamata participated but soon after, Enforcement Directorate (ED) called Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee for questioning. It’s clear that PM Modi does not want the opposition to get stronger. It looks like they had an agreement that ‘Delhi yours, Kolkata ours’ otherwise she would not have spoken useless things about Congress,” added the Congress leader.

The Congress leader’s attack on the TMC supremo came after the TMC in its mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ had said that Mamata Banerjee should be the face of the opposition against PM Modi and not Congress’s Rahul Gandhi.

The editorial also said that Congress has become irrelevant, calling TMC as the “real Congress”.

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DELHI LOGS 37 NEW COVID-19 CASES, NO DEATHS FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE DAY

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Delhi recorded 37 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday and no single death was reported for the second consecutive day. According to Delhi Health Bulletin, as many as 25,091 have succumbed to the disease so far in the national capital. The total count of coronavirus cases in the city has gone up to 14,39,603. The city has 320 active cases at present. The case fatality rate in the national capital is 1.74%. The positivity rate is 0.06%. With 51 more persons discharged in the last 24 hours, the total number of discharged patients has gone up to 14,14,192.

As many as 2,90,32,667 Covid-19 tests have been conducted in Delhi including 47,902 RT-PCR tests and 12,802 rapid antigen tests conducted in the last 24 hours. As many as 73,833 beneficiaries were vaccinated in the last 24 hours taking cumulative beneficiaries to 71,52,597.

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PM Modi to launch Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana during UP visit today

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Uttar Pradesh on Monday. According to Prime Minister’s office, at around 10.30 am in Siddharthnagar, Prime Minister will inaugurate nine medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh. “Subsequently, at around 1.15 pm in Varanasi, Prime Minister will launch Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana. He will also inaugurate various development projects worth more than Rs 5200 crore for Varanasi,” PMO said.

According to the official release, Prime Minister Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMASBY) will be one of the largest pan-India schemes for strengthening healthcare infrastructure across the country. It will be in addition to the National Health Mission.

The objective of PMASBY is to fill critical gaps in public health infrastructure, especially in critical care facilities and primary care in both urban and rural areas. “It will provide support for 17,788 rural Health and Wellness Centres in 10 High Focus states. Further, 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centres will be established in all the states,” the release said.

The release said that critical care services will be available in all the districts of the country with more than 5 lakh population, through Exclusive Critical Care Hospital Blocks, while the remaining districts will be covered through referral services.

Under the scheme, the release said that people will have access to a full range of diagnostic services in the public healthcare system through a network of laboratories across the country. Integrated Public Health Labs will be set up in all the districts.

Under PMASBY, a National Institution for One Health, four New National Institutes for Virology, a Regional Research Platform for WHO southeast Asia Region, nine Biosafety Level III laboratories, five New Regional National Centre for Disease Control will be set up.

PMASBY targets to build an IT-enabled disease surveillance system by developing a network of surveillance laboratories at block, district, regional and national levels, in Metropolitan areas. Integrated Health Information Portal will be expanded to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs, said PMO.

“PMASBY also aims at the Operationalisation of 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units at Points of Entry, for effectively detecting, investigating, preventing, and combating Public Health Emergencies and Disease Outbreaks. It will also work towards building up trained frontline health workforce to respond to any public health emergency,” it added. Notably, nine medical colleges to be inaugurated are situated in the districts of Siddharthnagar, Etah, Hardoi, Pratapgarh, Fatehpur, Deoria, Ghazipur, Mirzapur and Jaunpur. Of these, eight medical colleges have been sanctioned under the Centrally sponsored scheme for “Establishment of new medical colleges attached with district/ referral hospitals” and one medical college at Jaunpur has been made functional by the state government through its own resources. “Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme, preference is given to underserved, backward and aspirational districts. The Scheme aims to increase the availability of health professionals, correct the existing geographical imbalance.”

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Centre asks states to ensure reduction in edible oil prices

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The Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) will be meeting all states and Union Territories on Monday through video conferencing to review the action taken on the stock limit order on edible oil prices.

In a letter written to all states by Secretary DFPD, Sudhanshu Pandey, the Department has outlined initiatives taken by the Centre to ease prices of edible oils for relief of consumers and keeping the festive season in mind. The DFPD is monitoring the prices of edible oils and their availability to consumers. This is especially important to the context of the upcoming festival season in which demand for edible oils will increase. Various steps have already been taken by the government like based on the interaction with all the states and edible oil industry associations, stock disclosure notification has been issued and DFPD has created a web portal to monitor the stock of edible oils, oilseeds on a weekly basis in the country.

Demand and consumption of edible are different for the different states, Union Territories (UT) as per the preference of the consumers. However, for finalizing the stock limit quantity of edible oils and oilseeds, the states, UTs may consider the previous stock limit imposed for edible oils and oilseeds by the state, Union Territory. It may be considered that any stakeholder (refiners, millers, wholesalers etc.) should not hold the stocks in excess of two months of the storage capacity.

For guidance states may prefer to indicate limits which may have been imposed by states earlier is enclosed for consideration. However, for other categories, similar quantities as appropriate for the state may be fixed. For example: for refiners, stocks of the maximum of 2 months of the average scale of the last six months could be used. Similarly, quantities may be fixed for extractors/millers may be fixed. ANI

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IN CRUISE DRUGS CASE, NCB WITNESS’ BODYGUARD ALLEGES PAY-OFF

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In a surprising twist to the cruise drugs case, in which film star Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan is in jail, the bodyguard of Kiran Gosavi, who is a witness of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) against the star kid, has alleged that Gosavi took Rs 50 lakh from an individual after the raid at the cruise ship. He has also alleged that NCB made him sign a blank paper. In a video message, the bodyguard, Prabhakar Rohoji Sail is heard alleging, “I worked as a bodyguard of Kiran Gosavi. I assisted him during the Mumbai cruise drugs case.” “On the night of the raid, I reached the place around 9:45 a.m. He asked me to stand near a car and somebody gave me two bags filled with cash for Gosavi. I took it to Vashi at Gosavi’s home and gave it to him. Right after this, I saw Kiran Gosavi packing bags and leaving for somewhere,” he said. “I handed over the bags of cash to him in his car. However, when he counted the cash it was only Rs 38 lakhs. Later, I left from there to Vashi,” he further alleged.

Reacting to the allegations made by the driver, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, in a tweet wrote, “Witness in #AryanKhan case made to sign on blank paper by NCB is shocking. Also, there are reports that there was a demand of huge money. CM Uddhav Thackeray said that these cases are made to defame Mah’shtra. This seems to be coming through Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil. Police should take a suo-moto cognizance.”

On 18 October, Maharashtra Police registered a case against Kiran Gosavi, the man who was seen taking a selfie with Aryan Khan at the NCB office soon after the latter was detained. As per the police, the case was lodged at Kelwa police station in Palghar alleging that Gosavi had duped Lakhs of rupees from people on the pretext of sending them abroad for jobs. Earlier, a case was registered against Gosavi with Faraskhana police station of Pune city on 19 May 2018, for allegedly committing fraud by promising a person a job in Malaysia by taking money. However, he neither returned the money nor offered the job to the complainant. The accused was booked under Sections 419, 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with relevant sections of the Intellectual Technology (IT) Act. Chargesheet was filed in the court as the accused was not found. He is still wanted in the case. The driver has also made allegations of corruption against NCB zonal director, Sameer Wankhede, who is helming the probe in the case. Reportedly, Wankhede said that he would give a “fitting reply” to the allegation against him.

According to a source in the NCB, “Investigation of this case has some important connections with other states too. The probe agency may soon go to other states to investigate the case.” According to sources, nearly five to six drug peddlers are on the NCB radar for alleged involvement in the cruise drugs case. “Now NCB is looking for the financial trail in the case. The agency will now check all the financial transactions of the accused arrested so far,” a source added.

An NCB team busted an alleged drugs party on the Cordelia Cruise ship which was on its way to Goa at mid-sea on October 2. A total of 20 people, including Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan, have been arrested so far in the case.

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43 countries come together to denounce China’s treatment of Uyghurs

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A group of 43 countries has denounced China for its human rights abuse of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The group of countries from all continents rebuked China for its detainment of Uyghurs in the western region of Xinjiang, reported the HK Post. Generally, Western nations have been vocal about Beijing’s human rights record at the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee and this year Turkey, Eswatini and Liberia joined them. The new additions to last year’s group, which included 39 nations, push back Chinese claims that the rebuke is part of a Western effort to keep China from rising.

“We have seen an increasing number of reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations, including reports documenting torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children,” French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said on behalf of the group.

He further added that “widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uyghurs and members of other minorities”.

Meanwhile, a new report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) based in Canberra called for an investigation into China’s Xinjiang following the publication of leaked documents allegedly detailing Uyghur repression.

Between July 2016 and June 2017, government monitors assigned by Beijing flagged at least 1,869,310 Uyghurs and other citizens in Xinjiang for using Zapya (file-sharing application), the report revealed. ASPI’s latest report is based on thousands of documents leaked to the think tank.

Since early 2017, vast numbers of Uyghur men and women, as well as other Muslim ethnic minorities, have been arbitrarily detained or imprisoned according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

They include hundreds of thousands who have been sent to prisons, in addition to the one million the UN estimates to have been sent to internment camps.

The detentions and alleged abuses inside enclosed government facilities have been described by the United States and international human rights groups as a form of genocide constituting crimes against humanity.

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