The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government solidified its position in Madhya Pradesh as the BJP on Tuesday won 19 of the 28 Assembly constituencies that had gone for bypolls in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress, which lost power eight months ago following a revolt by a section of its MLAs led by Jyotiraditya Scindia, bagged eight seats.
The by-elections in the state were necessitated by the resignation of 25 Congress MLAs and death of 3 sitting legislators.
With this win, the BJP tally in the 230-member Assembly has increased to 126—well above the majority mark of 116—providing stability to the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. Before the bypolls, the BJP’s tally in the House stood at 107.
Prominent BJP minister Dr Prabhuram Choudhary won the bypolls from Sanchi with a margin of 63,809 votes—the highest so far. The lowest victory margin recorded so far is 161 in Bhander where BJP candidate Raksha Saronia defeated Dalit leader Phool Singh Bariaya of the Congress. However, MP’s Women and Child Development Minister Imarti Devi suffered a loss at the hands of Suresh Raje of the Congress from Dabra constituency.
Reacting to the results so far, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “It has been proved today that public has supported the decision taken by our MLA colleagues under the leadership of Scindia (BJPs Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia) to pull down the (Nath) government.”
He also reminded his critics that the BJP has secured 11 per cent more votes than the Congress and termed it as an “incredible” achievement. “We won seats with huge margins and lost with thin margins. We humbly accept the victory,” the CM said.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and former CM Kamal Nath accepted the defeat. “We accept the mandate. We made every effort to reach out to voters. I also thank all voters who participated in the by-elections. I hope that the BJP government will take care of the interest of farmers, provide employment to the youth, maintain the respect and safety of women,” he said.
Scindia too expressed gratitude to the people of Madhya Pradesh for giving a clear mandate in favour of his party and said the verdict of the bypolls proved that Congress leader Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh were traitors. “I am a worker of the Bharatiya Janata Party. I am thankful to the people of the State for giving a clear mandate in favour of the party. Results have proven that Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are traitors,” Scindia told ANI.
He further said that the Congress party’s situation would get worse if they kept questioning the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVM). “It has become a habit of Congress to deny the people’s mandate by questioning the credibility of EVMs. If they keep doing so, they’ll remain in the same place where they are now, or maybe worse,” he added.
In March, 22 Congress MLAs, mostly loyalists of Scindia, had resigned from the party and the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. This led to the collapse of the Kamal Nath government and cleared the way for the BJP to again come to power. Scindia and his loyalists joined the BJP, with many of them becoming ministers in the Chouhan government.
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NDA chalks out strategy to counter Opposition in Parliament
National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders held a meeting on Sunday before the beginning of the winter session of Parliament on Monday and chalked out the strategy to pass the 36 bills listed for this session and counter Opposition in both Houses of Parliament. Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Culture, Arjun Ram Meghwal said, “Government is ready to discuss all issues in Parliament and the allies of NDA stand united.” However, National People’s Party’s Agatha Sangma Lok Sabha MP from Meghalaya requested the government to repeal Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the upcoming session of Parliament.
“On behalf of my party and people of Northeast I requested the government to repeal the CAA in same sorts of sentiments. As of now they have not given any response but they have taken detailed note of what the NDA floor leaders said in the meeting,” Sangma told media after the meeting. The NPP MP further claimed that many leaders want to repeal the CAA adding that she has the support of many.
“I do not want to mention names of the leaders or any party but I know that many leaders want to repeal this law and they are supporting me,” she said.
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader in Rajya Sabha Navneet Krishnan said that the party has assured the Centre and the BJP of support to the passage of all bills in the Winter Session.
“In the NDA meeting, AIADMK has given assurance to the Central government and the BJP that AIADMK will support the central government for the smooth running of the House and also support all the bills for passage,” he said.
“NDA government is ready to discuss on every issue of opposition leaders that they want to raise but we will not allow the disruption in the Parliament because disruption of the Parliament leads to wastage of taxpayers’ money. As public representatives, we are responsible towards the people of the country, so we want to debate and have a discussion in both houses, not disruption,” an NDA leader said on the condition of anonymity.
Another NDA leader said on the condition of anonymity that some political parties are playing with the sentiments of the public and appealed to them to take part in the debate.
“People elected us and sent parliament to raise the issues of the common man but some political parties are playing with the sentiments public and not allowing to do constructive work in the House due to disruption. I appeal to such parties to stop such thing and NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ready to debate on every issue related to the common man in both the Houses,” he said.
BJP president J.P. Nadda, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, JDU president and Lok Sabha MP Rajeev Ranjan Singh and other NDA floor leaders were present in the meeting.
The BJP held its Parliamentary executive meeting as well to decide how to navigate the winter session.
ED SUMMONS AMAZON, FUTURE GROUP OFFICIALS OVER DISPUTED DEAL
The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Amazon India’s country head Amit Agarwal along with other officials and Future Group head Kishore Biyani in connection with a disputed deal, sources said on Sunday.
“The investigation by the ED is related to Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in connection with Amazon’s disputed deal with Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL),” sources said. According to sources, officials of both the groups have been asked to appear before a federal agency headquarters in Delhi on 6 December along with certain documents related to the deal.
Sources further said that ED is examining whether Amazon was in breach of FEMA when it invested Rs 1,431 crore to purchase a 49% stake in FCPL in 2019 or it complied with regulations.
“FCPL owns about 10% of Future Retail Ltd (FRL), the flagship entity that runs the Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar and Easyday chains,” sources added.
“We are in receipt of summons issued by the ED in connection with the Future Group. As we have just received the summons, we are examining it and will respond within the given time frame,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
My goal is to serve nation, be Pradhan Sevak: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that his goal is to serve the nation and not only to be in power. While addressing the 83rd episode of his Mann Ki Baat radio programme, the Prime Minister also said that his primary duty is to be the Pradhan Sevak to the people. “We have changed lives through the schemes launched by the government. It gives me satisfaction. This is what I seek from life,” he added.
“I do not want to be in power now or in future. My goal is to serve people,” he added.
He also lauded the armed forces noting that the 50th-anniversary celebrations of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war will take place next month.
The PM said, “The country celebrates Navy Day and Armed Forces Flag Day in December. We all know that on December 16, the country is celebrating the golden jubilee year of the 1971 war.” “On this occasion, I want to remember our armed forces, our soldiers. Especially, the brave mothers who gave birth to these heroes,” he added.
The PM also hailed the progress of start-ups across the country and said that in the era of start-ups, India is making a global footprint as the sector is getting record investment year after year.
The Prime Minister mentioned that there are more than 70 “unicorn” start-ups in the nation. A unicorn is a privately held start-up company valued at over USD 1 billion.
“In every country with a large youth population, three aspects matter a lot. Sometimes, it becomes the true identity of the youth. The first aspect is, ideas and innovation. The second is the spirit of taking risks and the third is the ‘Can Do’ spirit, that is, the determination to accomplish any task, no matter how adverse the circumstances be. When these three things combine, phenomenal results are produced, miracles happen,” PM Modi said.
“This is the era of start-ups and it is also true that today India is leading the way in the world of start-ups. Start-ups here are getting record investments year after year. This sector is progressing very fast,” he said.
BJP national president J.P. Nadda on Sunday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for never using the Mann Ki Baat radio programme for political purposes.
Addressing BJP workers in the national capital, Nadda said, “PM Modi has put forward the political issues through different platforms. He addressed the 83rd episode of the ‘Mann Ki Baat’. He never talked about politics through his monthly radio programme or used it for political purposes. He has talked about the culture of the country.” “PM Modi has talked to us about the diversity of festivals in our nation, environment, women upliftment, and Ayushman Bharat. He focused on sports and talked about youth empowerment, as well,” Nadda said.
“BJP now has a goal to gather every month to listen to and discuss ‘Mann Ki Baat’, in all 10.40 lakh booths till May, to connect with the nation,” he added.
AHEAD OF WINTER SESSION, OPPOSITION TABLES DEMANDS AT ALL-PARTY MEET
An all-party meeting called by Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi took place on Sunday ahead of the winter session of Parliament. 31 parties participated in the all-party meeting. “42 leaders from various parties participated in a constructive discussion,” Joshi told a news agency. “The government is ready for any discussions permitted by the Chairman and the Speaker without any disruptions,” the Union Minister added.
The Opposition on Sunday demanded compensation for the families of Covid-19 victims and the farmers who lost their lives during the farm laws protest in the all-party meeting.
“Many issues including, inflation, fuel price hike, farmers’ issues and Covid-19 were raised in the all-Party meeting today. All parties demanded that a law guaranteeing MSP should be made,” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told ANI after the all-Party meeting convened by the government concluded at the Parliament Annexe Building. “We demanded from the government that families of Covid19 victims be given compensation of Rs 4 lakh each. Compensation should also be given to farmers who lost their lives during the farm laws protest,” Kharge said.
“We expected PM Modi to attend the meeting today. But for some reason, he did not attend it…The government has withdrawn farm laws but PM had said that he could not make farmers understand. It means that these laws may be brought back in some other form in future,” he added.
Meanwhile, YSRCP leader Vijay Sai Reddy stated that his party demanded to bring the Women’s Reservation Bill in the upcoming parliament session.
Leaders of various political parties including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister Piyush Goyal and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury were present at the Parliament for the all-party meeting.
The BJP-led government has a heavy agenda for the winter session with its legislative business including 26 new bills.
The government has indicated that the bill to repeal three farm laws will be taken up on priority. The bill was cleared by the union cabinet earlier this week. The government’s agenda also includes the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021. The winter session will commence on November 29 and is scheduled to conclude on December 23. BJP and Congress both have issued a three-line whip to its MPs asking them to be present in both the Houses of the Parliament on November 29.
Besides the ruling BJP, 30 parties including INC, DMK, AITC, YSRCP, JD(U), BJD, BSP, TRS, SS, LJSP, NCP, SP, CPI(M), IUML, TDP, Apna Dal, CPI, NPF, SAD, AAP, AIADMK, KC(M), MNF, RSP, RPI(A), RJD, NPP, MDMK, JKNC and TMC participated in the meeting.
TMC raised 10 issues including women’s reservation bill in all-party meet ahead of Winter Session. The TMC also raised the issue of BSF jurisdiction that has been increased in West Bengal and other states, Pegasus issue, disrupted Monsoon session and Covid-19 situation in the country.
Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh on Sunday boycotted the all-party meeting alleging that the government never allows anyone to speak during the meet. “They (Government) don’t let any member speak during the all-party meeting. I raised the issue of bringing a law on the MSP guarantee in this session of the Parliament and other issues including the extension of Border Security Force’s jurisdiction, among others. They don’t let us speak in all-party meet and Parliament,” said Singh. “The government is busy with Jinnah and other issues, ignoring the core issues related to farmers and common man,” he added.
BJP sweeps Tripura civic polls, TMC gets a reality check
The BJP swept the Tripura civic polls by winning 329 of the total 334 sets in an election that was closely followed across the country. Out of the 222 seats that went to the polls, the BJP won 217 seats. It was earlier declared a winner on 112 uncontested seats.
The remaining five seats were won by the CPI-M (3) and one each by the TMC and a local outfit, Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance.
The BJP had fielded candidates in all the 334 seats of Agartala Municipal Corporation, 13 municipal bodies and six nagar panchayats. All the 51 wards in the Agartala Municipal Corporation were won by the BJP.
The election was seen as a bellwether for the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC which contested the election with all the power capital at its disposal. De facto TMC chief Abhishek Banerjee along-with political manager Prashant Kishor were deeply involved in the election which also included poaching established Congress leaders like Sushmita Dev who became the party’s face on the ground during the polls. Dev’s father, late Santosh Mohan Dev was instrumental in installing the Congress-led government in Tripura in 1988. He had also won two (1989 and 1991) Lok Sabha polls from the state.
The Trinamool Congress, which is taking steps to establish itself as a national party, was counting on a positive result from Tripura to give it an impetus in other states like Goa and Chhattisgarh.
The TMC had also gone to the Supreme Court, with its 16 Members of Parliament (MPs) sitting on a dharna outside the office of Home Minister Amit Shah on 22 November, to raise their protest against the alleged political violence against their workers in Tripura.
The TMC however is likely to draw solace from the fact that in many seats, it emerged as the main opposition while pushing the CPM to the third position. Abhishek Banerjee, in a tweet, while accepting the defeat said, “It is exceptional for a party beginning with negligible presence to successfully contest municipal elections and emerge as the PRINCIPAL OPPOSITION in the state with more than 20% vote share.”
BJP National General Secretary, Bl Santosh, termed the efforts put by the TMC in the elections as tantrums. “People of Tripura are showing the @AITCofficial the rightful place … The Dustbin … None of the tantrums got them any results. @BJP4Tripura set to create history by winning more than 80% seats in urban local bodies . Set to win all municipalities,” Santosh tweeted.
On many seats, the combined votes of Trinamool, Congress, CPM and CPI (M) candidates were more than the votes polled by victorious BJP candidates, thereby indicating that if the opposition parties had contested the elections in an alliance, the overall result would not have been so dismal for them, a lesson that perhaps might become important in the coming months.
Prashant Kishor, whose efforts to join the Congress did not bear fruit, had employed considerable resources in the state through his political consulting firm, I-PAC for reaping electoral benefits for the TMC so that it could add to the narrative that the Mamata Banerjee led TMC could replace the Congress as the primary opposition party to take the BJP in the 2024 general elections. This defeat is likely to come as an eye opener for Banerjee whose national political ambitions, according to political observers, are being given a premature push by Kishor.
INDIA REVISES TRAVEL GUIDELINES, WILL REVIEW DECISION ON FLIGHT RESUMPTION
The government also asked the states to prioritise their containment, surveillance, testing, monitoring and vaccination strategies.
In the wake of the emergence of the new Covid “variant of concern”, “Omicron”, India will review its decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services. On Sunday, the government also revised travel guidelines for passengers coming to India from abroad. The government also asked the states to prioritise their containment, surveillance, testing, monitoring, vaccination strategies, apart from augmenting health infrastructure.
The government revised travel guidelines for international passengers, particularly those arriving from 12 “countries at risk”. These passengers will have to undergo Covid testing post-arrival and wait at the airport for the test results. In the case of a negative test report, the travellers will have to home-quarantine for seven days and will be tested again on the eighth day. If the second test report is also negative, the travellers will have to monitor themselves for another seven days. International travellers will also have to submit 14 days’ travel details and upload a negative RT-PCR test report on Air Suvidha portal before the journey. Travellers from countries excluding those “countries at risk” will be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor themselves for 14 days. A sub-section (5% of total passenegrs on a flight) will have to undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport The revised guidelines come into effect from 1 December.
On Sunday an urgent meeting was chaired by Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, following the high-level review by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, it was decided that the government will further review Standard Operating Procedure on testing and surveillance of incoming international passengers, especially for those countries identified “at risk” category.
Other experts including Dr V.K. Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Prime Minister and senior officers from Health, Civil Aviation and other Ministries comprehensively reviewed the overall global situation in wake of the Omicron virus.
“Various preventive measures in place and to be further strengthened were discussed. Further, the decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passengers service will be reviewed, as per evolving global scenario,” said a Home Ministry statement.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, genomic surveillance for Covid variants is to be further strengthened and intensified. “Airport Health Officials (APHOs) and Port Health Officials (PHOs) will be sensitized for strict supervision of testing protocol at airports and ports.”
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired a comprehensive meeting that lasted for almost two hours to review the public health preparedness and vaccination-related situation for Covid-19.
As per an official statement issued by Prime Minister Office, officials briefed the Prime Minister about the new Variant of Concern ‘Omicron’ along with its characteristics and the impact seen in various countries. Its implications for India were also discussed. Prime Minister Modi spoke about the need to be proactive in light of the new variant.
WHAT THE STATES SAID
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to stop flights from countries affected by the new Covid-19 variant Omicron. In an official letter, Kejriwal wrote, “Our country has fought a tough fight against Corona for the last one and half years. We should do everything possible to prevent the new variant of concern from entering India.” “We should do everything possible to prevent the new variant of concern, recently recognised by WHO, from entering India. A number of countries, including the European Union (EU), have suspended travel to the affected regions. I urge you to stop flights from these regions with immediate effect. Any delay in this regard may prove harmful if any affected person enters India,” he stated.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that the state government is taking all the precautions and is prepared to deal with Omicron variant of Covid-19. Khattar said, “We are taking all precautions and are prepared to deal with it. The District Commissioners have been asked to remain vigilant especially before granting permission for fairs.”
Uttarakhand Health Secretary Dr Pankaj Kumar Pandey has instructed all the District Magistrates of the state to monitor the people coming from outside along with intensive testing as a precautionary measure against the Covid-19 variant Omicron. The Health Secretary has also given instructions to form monitoring teams at the district level for proper prevention.
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