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With Kapil Sibal’s comment on Ram Mandir, Congress has played into the hands of BJP

Arti Ghargi

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Many Hindu religious organizations who have extended support to the construction of Ram Mandir have hoped that the BJP government will build ram Temple if it comes to power.
On Tuesday, the final hearing on Ayodhya land dispute began at around 2 PM in Supreme Court. The matter for centuries has pitted people from Hindu and Muslim communities against each other. Though the matter which majorly has been religious turned one of the biggest political matter in the country after 1992 with Babri Masjid being razed to the ground by Karsevaks.
The construction of Ram temple on disputed land has served as a fodder to the political parties for over two decades, mainly for BJP. Not to mention that the demolition that led to several repercussions in the coming years took place in the presence of BJP’s some top brass leaders.
Though the Ram Mandir issue was never a part of BJP’s election promise, it was always seen as the surreptitious promise. From the very birth, the party had successfully kept its image of “party for Hindus” intact. Many Hindu religious organizations who have extended support to the construction of Ram Mandir have hoped that the BJP government will build ram Temple if it comes to power. Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s International Joint Secretary Surendra Jain in 2015 had said: “We expect that this government will fulfil its commitment to construct a Ram temple at Ayodhya.”
The Hindu organizations have pinned their hopes on the present government. However, despite speaking in favour of the Ram temple, present government could do little as the matter is in Supreme Court and the law is taking its due course.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal represents Sunni Waqf board-one the stakeholder in Ayodhya property dispute in the SC. During the final hearing of the case, he argued that the developments in the court have serious repercussions outside the court. He also suggested the hearing to be postponed and conducted after general elections of 2019.
The comment spread like a wildfire inviting ire from the ruling BJP.
Gujarat Election:
The upcoming elections in Gujarat saw sharp competition between BJP and resurging Congress. While BJP has ruled the state for almost two decades the revamped side of Rahul Gandhi is also attracting voters. BJP government’s decisions like Demonetization and GST have been already received with discontent by Gujarat’s people. The growing fury coupled with rebellious Patel community has rocked BJP’s throne in Gujarat. However, Congress is encashing the issue to storm back to power in PM Modi’s home state.
Congress’ soft Hindutva:
The Congress also seemed to realize the power of Hindu vote bank and thus, have accepted soft Hindutva. Congress VP Rahul Gandhi is visiting temples ahead of the election and has also cleared that he is a ‘Shiva Bhakt’. Congress is always accused of minority appeasement. With this, the party is also trying to fix this image.
Strong counter:
In such a situation, BJP needed a strong point to counter the three-fold alliance that threatened its existence. The Ram Mandir issue is exactly the same it needed to counter Congress and its allies. Kapil Sibal’s comments gave the BJP what it wanted. Only three days have remained for the first phase of assembly elections. With this new issue at hand, BJP leaders have jumped in and are re-asserting their image of ‘pro-Hindu’ party. Will this create a hurdle in a seemingly smooth journey of Rahul Gandhi and Congress in Gujarat so far?
The answer could be known only after the results come out, but one thing is sure, the Congress has played right into the hands of BJP.
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Fadnavis hiding corruption charges against 16 ministers: Dhananjay Munde

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Devendra Fadnavis

Mumbai | Senior NCP leader Dhananjay Munde on Tuesday hit out at Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for “covering up” corruption charges against “16 of his ministers”.

He was speaking at a function “Rashtra Maharashtra” organised by the BBC Marathi News Service. “We have nailed 16 ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis government on corruption charges with clinching evidence.

However, Fadnavis has tried to cover them up and has, therefore, committed a sin,” Munde, the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Council, claimed. Munde said there were no charges of corruption against Fadnavis, though he added that he would continue to probe to find out more.

Hitting out at the ruling BJP for “politicising” the martyrdom of soldiers, Munde said the party was taking credit for the brave deeds of the armed forces personnel. On Amit Shah’s claim, at some political rallies, that 250 terrorists perished in the February 26 IAF air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot in Pakistan, Munde wanted to know where the BJP chief was getting such figures which even security agencies were not privy to.

Against the backdrop of NCP chief Sharad Pawar withdrawing from the April-May Lok Sabha contest, Munde refuted insinuations that all was not well in the Pawar household.

“Pawar saab had announced long back he would not contest Lok Sabha polls anymore. But we had requested him to fight the 2019 polls to send a strong message, which he had said he would consider,” Munde said, terming Pawar’s decision to withdraw from Lok Sabha polls as right.

On queries that the “mahagathbandhan” had no face (prime ministerial candidate) to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, “Please don’t forget even the NDA has lost several alliances which raise question marks over Modi’s acceptability. This is Modi’s incompetence. Besides, several parties in different states have started uniting themselves.”

He also refuted talk that he was part of dynastic politics by claiming he had broken ties in 2012 with the family of BJP stalwart late Gopinath Munde, who is his uncle.

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Lok Sabha polls: CPI(M) announces 13 more candidates,to wait for Congress response on alliance

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CPI-M

Kolkata | The CPI(M)-led Left Front on Tuesday announced candidates for 13 more Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, taking the total number of its contestants to 38.

The grouping, however, kept its door for seat sharing talks with the Congress open till Wednesday evening by not declaring nominees in four seats, which the national party had won in the 2014 general elections.

Even the list of 38 candidates could be altered if the Left Front gets a positive response from the Congress by tomorrow evening on an alliance, the front’s chairman Biman Bose said. The development came a day after the Congress announced candidates for 11 seats including Raiganj and Murshidabad, which the CPI(M) had won in 2014.

“We announced a list of 38 candidates. We are not announcing the names of four seats which the Congress had won the last time. We will wait till Wednesday evening for a response from the Congress,” Bose told reporters here.

“If there is no response, we will go ahead with the remaining four seats. But if we get a positive response, things can change. The list that I announced today can also be changed,” he said.

“We hope good sense will prevail and the Congress will realise the need for maximum pooling of anti-BJP and anti-TMC votes in the state. We will wait for their response,” Bose said.

In response, the Congress said it cannot be browbeaten this way. “We won’t bow down before such threats or ultimatum. We have a party policy to follow and we can’t just rush into a decision. We have to discuss the matter. Let’s see what happens,” chairman of the Congress’s state coordination committee Pradip Bhattacharya told PTI.

The Left Front announced its first list of candidates for 25 seats in West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls last Friday leaving 17 constituencies for the Congress. But the Congress was not happy with the seats that were left for the party by the Front.

On the claims by the Congress that it was not given enough seats, Bose said the party should examine its percentage of votes in all the 42 seats in 2014 polls before making such comments. “There are several seats where the Congress’ vote share was between 1.5 and 2 per cent,” Bose said.

After weeks of parleys failed to resolve the impasse over distribution of seats, the West Bengal unit of the Congress on Sunday called off the talks, saying it did not want any alliance by compromising the party’s dignity.

Since the beginning of seat-sharing talks between them, several issues have cropped up time and again. The initial impasse over Raiganj and Murshidabad seats were resolved after the intervention of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, and the left party had got the two constituencies.

In 2014, the CPI(M) won Raiganj and Murshidabad in a four-cornered contest, though they have been traditional Congress strongholds.

In the 42-member assembly, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has 34 MPs followed by the Congress with four. The BJP and the CPI(M) each has two members in the house. The state will go to polls in seven phases from April 11.

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National Conference fields retired HC judge Hasnain Masoodi from Anantnag

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Srinagar | The National Conference (NC) has fielded former Jammu and Kashmir High Court judge Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, known for his landmark judgement on Article 370, from the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency.

The 65-year-old former judge, who retired from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in January 2016, is currently serving as the chairman of Selection-cum-Oversight Committee under the Juvenile Justice Act. “The party has decided to field Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi from the Anantnag-Pulwama parliamentary constituency,” NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar told reporters at party’s head office at Nawai-Subha here.

In Oct 2015, Justice Masoodi had ruled that Article 370, granting special status to the state, is permanent. “Article 370 though titled as ‘Temporary Provision’ and included in Para XXI titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’ has assumed place of permanence in the Constitution,” a division bench of justices Hasnain Masoodi and Janak Raj Kotwal had ruled.

“It is beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation, in as much as Constituent Assembly of the State before its dissolution did not recommend its Amendment or repeal,” the bench had added.

Also, the NC parliamentary board had on Monday decided to field party president Farooq Abdullah from the Srinagar-Budgam constituency and senior leader and former Speaker of the state assembly Muhammad Akbar Lone from the Baramulla-Kupwara Lok Sabha constituency.

The NC has not yet announced the candidates for the remaining three seats — two in the Jammu region and one in the Ladakh region of the state. The party is in talks with the Congress for an alliance and has left the decision on it to its president. “The parliamentary board of the party has authorised Abdullah to take a final decision on the alliance,” the NC general secretary said.

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