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With the battle of buses, Priyanka and Yogi get 2022 optics ready

Priya Sahgal

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The battle of the buses between Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Yogi Adityanath is clearly a precursor to a larger battle that will be fought in 2022 for the state of Uttar Pradesh. As Congress general secretary in-charge of UP, her task is uphill for the Congress has almost been wiped out here. But leaving the task of an all-India revival to the rest of the party, she has been focusing on the one state that matters more than most. And if the road to Delhi is via Uttar Pradesh, then clearly she has decided that the road to UP is best travelled by bus. Or not.

According to her office, after seeing the multiple road accidents befalling the migrants as they trekked to their villages, Priyanka wrote to the UP CM, making the offer of 1,000 buses. This was on 16 May and a day later buses were lined at the UP border. However, these were sent back as there was no response from the state govt. A day later, at 3.24 pm the Congress did receive a letter from the state government asking for details of buses, namea of drivers and cleaners. This was followed by another note at 11.40 pm, asking  that the buses reach Lucknow by 10 am next morning. As Priyanka later pointed out since the entire aim was to ensure that the migrants walking from the NCR should reach their villages, sending empty buses to Lucknow would defeat the purpose. After some back and forth, the next morning at 11 am on the 18th, another note came from the UP Government asking for 1000 buses to reach Ghaziabad and Noida borders by noon, with the requisite permits in place. Further nit-picking happened when some of the buses didn’t have their pollution check and fitness certificates in order (Again, this penchant for paperwork over lives).  It was also pointed out (with some glee) that instead of 1,000 there were only 897 buses, rest being autos and bikes.  Priyanka then took to social media, and scored a political point stating, “If you say 879 buses are okay, then take those at least..feel free to put BJP flags on them but don’t let the poor migrants walk.” In the end, the final visual was of the rows of empty buses, pulling away from the UP border bypassing rows of migrants on foot. Yogi said he would be sending his buses instead.

Look at the optics of this “My Bus Vs Yours” saga, whereby three crucial days were lost, with enough vehicles parked at the UP border that could have transported 92,000 people. Why did Yogi opt to play traffic cop at this juncture? Was he merely scoring political points or are there larger stakes at play ? 

Its also interesting that both Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav were missing from this saga. The two run essentially caste based outfits. However what the national parties have realised is that, with a little nudge from Modi’s BJP — politics is now becoming more class-based. Wasn’t this what the entire narrative of demonetisation was all about? The rich were made to stand in lines and this was used to justify the pain for the poor. Covid too is fast becoming a class struggle, this time with the BJP on the backfoot over its handling of the migrants. Congress has sensed this, whether it is Sonia Gandhi raising issue of train fare for migrant workers to now Priyanka’s bus diplomacy. Recall what former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian wrote (Economic Survey of 2016-17):  “The first-ever estimates of internal work-related migration using railways data for the period 2011-2016 indicate an annual average flow of close to 9 million people between the states.’  More than the 3.3 million average suggested by successive Censuses. In the cold calculating world of vote-bank politics, there is much more at stake here than running a bus service, with or without pollution certificates.  Not only has Priyanka made the right political move, she has also done it for right cause. For if there is one thing that has tugged at the heart of an entire nation, it is the plight of the migrants.

Abinash Chaudhary, a policy expert says, “Post-1992 what India needs is a policy Prime Minister not one whose approach is project-oriented.” According to him DeMo is poject oriented while MNERA & RTE were policy based approaches. Ever since Modi’s rise the Congress has been struggling to find the right message to define itself. Post-Covid, a clash of the classes is staring right at us, beginning on those very streets where the battle of the buses, train fares and border crossings are taking place. In much more narrower terms, can Priyanka emerge as the brand custodian of the Congress with her recent outreach? For if there is one thing that the Congress has mastered, it is the art of relaunch. 

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Haryana to provide infrastructure worth Rs 32 crore for beekeepers

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CHANDIGARH: In With a view to facilitating production and trade of quality honey in the state, the Haryana government has proposed various infrastructure development projects and training programmes for beekeepers to the tune of Rs 32.28 crore under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ economic package. This includes setting up of a quality control test laboratory at Integrated Beekeeping Development Centre (IBDC), Ramnagar, district Kurukshetra, at a cost of Rs 20 crore. Besides, Rs 1.40 crore would be earmarked for establishing collection, marketing and storage centres, post-harvest, and value addition at IBDC. A sum of Rs. 10.88 crore is proposed to be spent on other components such as beehives, bee-colonies, bee-breeders, training programmes and other state agricultural universities (SAU) projects.

While stating this in Chandigarh on Friday, Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Department Sanjeev Kaushal said that the setting up of the laboratory, which would be got accredited, would help beekeepers and honey producers produce quality honey for domestic consumption, as well as exports.

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Increased compensation for kin of hooch victims

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CM Captain Amarinder Singh.

CHANDIGARH: In a healing touch to the bereaved families affected by the spurious liquor tragedy which has claimed over 113 lives, the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday announced an increased compensation for victim’s families from existing Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. He also said that survivors who had lost eyesight in the tragedy would also get Rs 5 lakh. Handing over a cheque of Rs. 2.92 crore for the families of 92 victims of Tarn Taran, CM unambiguously said that anyone, however affluent he might be, responsible for this atrocious crime would not be spared at any cost.

Reiterating his government’s commitment to stand by the victim’s families, the CM also extends help by providing jobs, education, and other social security benefits to them. “Perpetrators of this heinous crime would not be spared at any cost and severe action would be taken against them”, the CM said. Informing further, he said that investigations are already underway in this case and DGP Dinkar Gupta has been directed to further expedite the same.

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2 absconders held, murder charges against kingpins

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CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Police on Friday arrested two of the key absconders in the hooch tragedy, while adding murder charges to the FIRs against all the kingpins in the case. On directives of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Section 302 IPC has been added to the FIRs against the kingpins, directly responsible for the death of 113 people across three districts, DGP Dinkar Gupta said.

With the arrest of father-son duo, Harjit Singh and Shamsher Singh, the total number of arrests in the case has gone up to 54, of which 37 are from Tarn Taran, 9 from Amritsar Rural, and 8 from Batala, DGP added. Harjit Singh and Shamsher have also been booked on murder charges, apart from Kashmir Singh and Satnam Singh, said the DGP. He said that in addition, two FIRs have been registered for harbouring the criminals involved in the case and another 21 persons have been arrested in this connection. More than 887 raids have been conducted since 31 July, when the first deaths in the case were reported, in the three affected districts (303 in Tarn Taran, 330 in Amritsar (Rural) and 254 in Batala). While Harjit was nabbed by Amritsar (Rural) police, which has registered one FIR, his son was apprehended by Tarn Taran police, which has booked 3 FIRs with maximum of 84 deaths, DGP said. Two FIRs have been registered in Batala, with 14 deaths. The coordinated raids that led to the arrest of the duo took place this morning, he added.

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Naidu targets Jagan on capital issue, says Amaravati centrally located

Lokeswara Rao

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Criticising Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s decision to have three state capitals in Andhra Pradesh, TDP leader and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said that “effective decentralisation can only be achieved with one central capital — Amaravati.”

Naidu demanded an explanation from Reddy over his apparent hatred with the current capital and his stubbornness to destroy an excellent ongoing project. He reiterated that YSRCP’s action would only push the state into darkness and destroy opportunities for the upcoming generations.

Addressing a press conference here, Naidu said that from the Chief Minister to Ministers, all YCP leaders made pre-poll assurances that they would not change the capital. But now they aren’t even forthcoming to the idea of a fresh mandate on the concept of three capitals. The opposition leader warned the present government that this move will be very detrimental for the future of the state and pointed out that while 132 projects were started in Amaravati, simultaneously 160 additional projects begun in all the 13 districts from Srikakulam (northern district) to Anantapur (near Bangalore).

Five clusters were visualised under the Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor and another three clusters were planned under Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor. Three mega cities, 14 smart cities, 3 international airports and ports were on the anvil. Naidu also said that 12 out of the total 15 Central government institutions were given to backward regions of Rayalaseema and North Andhra for a balanced development in the state. These included Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management and so on. Seema was converted into a horticulture hub.

Naidu asserted that decentralisation was not a new concept and Amaravati was actually visualised as a vibrant city to achieve the larger objective to ensure decentralised development in the state. It has got huge potential to create spin-off benefits for all districts in the State. Amaravati has also got an excellent self-financing plan such that it would generate funds from out of its own valuable land resources to meet its future infrastructural requirements. The TDP chief said that he had sown the seeds for HiTech City when some sections made fun of that at that time. But, this gradually led to exponential growth in Hyderabad with the help of additional projects like International Airport, Pharma City and Outer Ring Road. Similarly, plans were made for developing Amaravati where 139 projects were lined up. But, the Government has crippled all these projects. He said that the Central Government has a responsibility to intervene and stop capital shifting in the larger interests of AP people.

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Sushant probe quarantined: Bihar cop’s parting shot to Maha govt

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MUMBAI: Punjab’s Shortly before he took a flight back to Bihar, Patna (Central) Superintendent of Police (SP) Vinay Tiwari on Friday alleged that “it is not me, but the Sushant Singh Rajput probe that was quarantined”. Released from quarantine by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) after six days and directed to leave Mumbai before Saturday (August 8) as per the Covid-19 protocols, Tiwari said, “The Maharashtra government did not isolate me, but quarantined the probe into the death of Sushant Singh Rajput.”

He claimed that this attitude of the Maharashtra government has had an opposite effect on Sushant’s suicide case. Tiwari added that he was not informed by any BMC official personally that he could walk free from quarantine. “The BMC merely sent me a message and I am proceeding to Patna accordingly,” he said.

In a late night order on Thursday, BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner P. Velrasu permitted Tiwari to be relieved from home quarantine. The development came after the Bihar Police wrote to the BMC on Thursday saying Tiwari should be released from quarantine to facilitate his return to his home state to resume his duties.

 The Bihar Police also pointed out that he was no longer required in Mumbai and his arrival period was within seven days. An IPS officer of 2015 batch, Tiwari had arrived here from Patna on August 2 to probe the case related to Bollywood actor Sushant’s death. However, as per the Covid-19 protocols, he was shunted to home quarantine at the SRPF Guest House in Goregaon, even as Bihar Police cried foul although the BMC said that it was merely following the due procedures.

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Rhea came in touch with Sushant only for his wealth: Bihar govt to apex court

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The Bihar government has filed an affidavit in Supreme Court seeking dismissal of the plea by actress Rhea Chakraborty seeking to transfer FIR from Patna to Mumbai in Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case. The affidavit said that Rhea Chakraborty and her family members came in contact with Sushant Singh Rajput with the sole motive of grabbing crores of rupees from him and later painted a false picture of his mental illness.

Bihar police began their investigation after an FIR (First Information Report) was registered by Rajput’s father KK Singh in Patna against Chakraborty under several sections, including abetment of suicide, and recommended CBI probe into Rajput’s death case looking at the sensitivity of the matter and its interstate ramifications.

Bihar government accused Mumbai police of non-cooperation, stating that “the forcible quarantine of the IPS officer Vinay Tiwary is nothing but a result of an afterthought on part of Mumbai police aimed at obstructing the investigation by the Patna police which is amply clear from the fact that when the four members of the SIT went to Mumbai, they were not quarantined.

However, when IPS officer Vinay Tiwary reached Mumbai, he was forcibly quarantined by the BMC. The aforesaid fact casts a serious aspersion on the role of Mumbai police who is apparently siding with the petitioner for the reasons best known to them.”

 Bihar police further said that despite total non-cooperation from Mumbai police, they have found several leads in the investigation. They told the top court that since the probe points are scattered at many places in India, a CBI probe into Rajput’s mysterious suicidal death is much needed.

 Bihar government said it has the jurisdiction to investigate the case, seeking to reject Chakraborty’s submission under section 179 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that the entire cause of action arose in Mumbai and it has no jurisdiction to register FIR.

Earlier, the top court had asked all parties involved to file their response in three days. It also ordered the Maharashtra government to apprise the court of the stage of investigation by Mumbai police into Rajput’s death.

The case will now be heard next week. Maharashtra government is likely to file its affidavit in a sealed cover.

The Supreme Court heard a petition by Rhea Chakraborty seeking to transfer the investigation to Mumbai, where investigation in connection with Sushant Singh Rajput’s death is already underway.

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