Guj polls: BJP vote machine aims to pluck seats

Times of India | 1 month ago | 01-12-2022 | 09:01 am

Guj polls: BJP vote machine aims to pluck seats

The candidates in South Gujarat did not just fear the backlash from angry villagers when they visited tribal areas. What scared them more were the mobile phones that tech-savvy tribals wielded with great efficacy to scuttle campaigning. It had become common in villages for someone to pick an argument with the candidate. Another person in the crowd would shoot the scene and posts it on social media. Before the candidate reached the next village, the video went viral. This forced candidates to discuss issues with the village leaders before setting foot there. “We reached the village an hour early and called up people. We developed a rapport with the crowd so that the meeting ended peacefully,” said a political worker in Valsad. From Bharuch to Valsad, the districts have 12 Scheduled Tribe (ST) seats. Ignoring these areas was not an option for candidates. That Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose Kaprada to begin his poll campaign proved the importance of these seats. Historically, the tribal votes have been loyal to the Congress for decades. However, after losing seats due to the Patidar quota movement in the 2017 assembly poll, the ruling BJP decided to compensate for it by winning the tribal seats. The ruling dispensation appointed tribal leaders like Surat Mangrol MLA Ganpat Vasava, Gandevi MLA Naresh Patel, Kaprada MLA Jitu Chaudhary and Umargam MLA Raman Patkar as ministers. It is also hard to miss the BJP government’s devotion towards improving Kaprada’s lot in the past five years. Located at the southernmost tip of the state, Kaprada is a remote hilly terrain that feeds on rainwater and stays mostly arid around the year, despite receiving the highest rainfall in the state. Women here brave long distances to fetch their daily quota of potable water from 35ft deep wells in the region. The situation has improved in a few areas with the Astole group water supply project that is touted as an engineering marvel that lifts water from the Madhuban dam up to 1,800ft to be distributed to 174 villages. Kaprada is where Congress MLA from Vansda, Anant Patel, campaigned heavily against the Par-Tapi-Narmada riverlinking project. The project has widely impacted seats with the tribal majority, including Dang, Dharampur, Gandevi, Vansda, Mahuva and Vyara. Multiple protests were held in all these areas and to counter the impact, the BJP decided to drop the project. Mobile connectivity is another major issue. Kaprada villagers have to climb up the hills to stay connected to the rest of the world. In contrast, the Dharampur and Umargam seats of Valsad have urban pockets with good roads and mobile connectivity. Yet, campaigning activities are limited in Valsad. A taluka panchayat member explains, “A major chunk of the tribal population that make a living as farm or industrial labourers drown out candidates with questions on inflation and lack of hikes in wages. ” Meanwhile, in the Tapi district, the migration of labourers in search of work, lack of schools, and colleges, and jobs for educated tribal youth are the key issues in Vyara and Nizar seats. The scenario is different in Vansda and Gandevi of Navsari. Chikhli, a crucial centre in the Gandevi constituency, plays a key role in determining political trends on the seat. In the Surat district, caste factors will play a key role in Mahuva and Mandvi tribal seats. In Dang, the BJP has repeated Vijay Patel as its candidate, who will challenge Mukesh Patel of the Congress and Sunil Gamit of the AAP. Jhagadia is a vital seat owing to its industrial development and proximity to Bharuch, from where the BTP founder Chhotu Vasava is fighting as an independent. The BJP has been showcasing the 182m tall statue of India’s first home minister Sardar Patel in Narmada district as a project that changed the lives of tribals in Narmada district for the better. However, Kevadia residents feel burdened with the cost of living, especially as they allege that SoU has done little to ease their hardships. Chandu Tadvi, a resident of Bhumaliya village in Garudeshwar taluka, says, “The government istom-tomming about development in Kevadia. But where are the jobs that the tribals were promised? They hired non-tribals from outside!” Another tribal, Vanji Himmat from Jher village, alleges that the officials razed his roadside food stall. “First, they took our land and now they won’t allow us to earn a living,” he says. In neighbouring Chhota Udepur constituency, a Congress stronghold, is all set to witness an intense family battle between the Rathwas. Mayank Rathwa, a local activist, working for tribal health and education in Chhota Udepur, says, “Voters are angry with Mohansinh for quitting the Congress and may resort to revenge voting against the BJP. ” For tribals in Sankheda and Pavi Jetpur, scarce irrigation water and lack of employment are significant concerns. In the tribal heartland of Dahod district and parts of the adjoining districts in central Gujarat, where most of the electorate is poor, the poll campaign revolves around freebies. If the Congress and the AAP are promising free electricity, education, and other services, the BJP is stressing how it had given a lot to the electorate, and it was payback time by voting for the lotus. Dahod district has six seats, of which five are ST candidates. The neighbouring Panchmahal and Mahisagar districts have one ST seat each of Morva Hadaf and Santrampur. The North Gujarat region with three ST seats — Danta in Banaskantha, Bhiloda in Aravalli, and Khedbrahma in Sabarkantha — has been a Congress bastion. Danta has 2 lakh-odd voters, of which nearly 50% are tribals. Mustu Khan, a social worker, says, “Lack of health infrastructure, schools, and employment are major issues, but tribal votes can be swayed by booze and money power. ” Khedbrahma seat, which has a decisive 1. 2 lakh tribal votes, nearly 63% of 1. 92 lakh total voters, will see Congress’s Tushar Chaudhary, a former union minister, fight to gain the seat.

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ATLAS SkillTech University Students Experience The Best Of Global Education On Their Mumbai Campus
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The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:35 pm
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NCPCR pulls up UP govt for not investigating madrasas allegedly enrolling children of other faiths
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The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:35 pm
The Indian Express
1 week ago | 20-01-2023 | 02:35 pm

Two days after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal came down heavily on alleged interference in the affairs of the elected AAP government during his address in the Delhi Legislative Assembly, asking “Who is the LG, where did he come from?”, Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena wrote to him, asking him to refer to the Constitution for the answer.In his letter, L-G Saxena termed Kejriwal’s statements against him both in the Delhi Assembly and outside it as “substantively misleading, untrue and derogatory”.Questioning his alleged interference in matters of the Delhi government over a range of issues, Kejriwal had accused Saxena of constitutional overreach during his address to the House before leading a march to Raj Niwas and demanding that the L-G meet him and the 61 other AAP MLAs.Referring to media reports related to his allegations against him, Saxena said some of these did not deserve a reply since they “cater to a very low level of discourse.” He also termed as “posturing” Kejriwal’s allegation that the L-G did not meet him after his march to Raj Niwas.“I came to know through media reports that on Monday…you left the Assembly and were protesting with others outside Raj Niwas, demanding to meet me. Thereafter, I invited you and the Dy. Chief Minister to come and see me. I would have, indeed, loved to have you over and served you lunch as well” Saxena stated.“However, you chose not to come on the pretext of wanting to meet me with all of your MLAs. You would appreciate that, given the short notice and sudden demand on your part, it would not have been possible to at once have a meeting with 70-80 people, nor would have it served any concrete purpose,” he added.Terming it unfortunate, Saxena accused Kejriwal of political posturing by announcing that he had refused to meet him. “I must mention here that I was rather astounded at the fact that even as the city is grappling with several serious developmental issues, you found time to walk for long and stage a protest meant solely for posturing, rather than taking the issue to a logical conclusion by meeting me,” Saxena stated.The L-G said he was glad that the issue of education and teacher training was being raised by the CM and AAP MLAs, following which he took on the AAP government over it. 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Adding classrooms in existing schools and counting toilets as classrooms, do not, by any stretch of imagination, amount to opening new schools, as you would appreciate,” he added.Despite the AAP government’s “claims of unprecedented improvement in government education system in Delhi”, Saxena stated that the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 pegged the performance of about 30% students in Delhi government schools till Class VIII below basic levels and for about 44% students “barely basic”.“Similarly, performance of about 33% students studying in Class X is below basic and for about 30%, it is barely basic. There is rampant math and science phobia among students of Delhi government schools and this results in the fact that only 21,340 out of 2,31,448 students studying in Class XII are in the Science stream,” he stated.The L-G also questioned the AAP government’s claims related to higher enrolment in government schools. “Contrary to claims, the number of students going to private schools has increased in Delhi. While the share of private schools in 2013-2014 was 35%, the same went up to 43% in 2019-2020, and despite migration from private schools to government schools due to the pandemic distress, this number yet hovers around 40%,” Saxena said.He also questioned the need to send teachers for training to Finland. “Irrespective of whether a 5-day trip to Finland will serve any purpose of substantive training to the visitors or would serve as an event to be played up in the media, I did not reject the proposal thereof,” he sought to clarify.“I raised a few queries with respect to the impact assessment and cost benefit analysis of such visits which have been going on for past few years, and asked the department, whether such training could be obtained in a more cost-effective manner in our own Institutions of Excellence, like the IIMs,” L-G Saxena added.Saxena pointed out that recently, he had cleared proposals of sending 55 principals and vice-principals of government schools to Cambridge in 2 batches for 10 days each, with specific training goals.“While being on the subject, I would also like to bring to your attention the plight of 12 colleges of Delhi University that are funded by GNCTD. Their representatives met me and submitted a memorandum detailing their grievances in terms of deliberate stopping of already sanctioned funds, non-payment of salaries and non-sanction of posts,” Saxena said.There was much more in terms of scholarships to minorities and marginalised sections that he wanted to discuss with CM Kejriwal, the L-G stated.“I reiterate, that I write to you, not only as the Lt. Governor of Delhi, but also as a concerned resident of the city. You are indeed a driven person, and I am sure that you will take cognizance of the facts stated above and take remedial measures to engage meaningfully and constructively to rectify the grave shortcomings, for better outcomes,” Saxena added.

‘Refer to Constitution’: Saxena replies to Kejriwal’s ‘Who is L-G?’ question