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India

Akal Takht: All Sikhs want Khalistan, will take it if govt offers

Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh said on 6 June that the Sikh community would accept Khalistan — a separate state for Sikhs — if the government were to offer it. The jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, was talking to journalists on the 36th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, which the Indira Gandhi government had carried out between 1 and 8 June in 1984 to flush out heavily-armed terrorists holed up in the Golden Temple complex.

“If the Indian government offers us Khalistan, what else do we need? We will accept it. Which Sikh is there in the world, who doesn’t want it?” Giani H Singh said.

इसे भी पढ़े: राजीव गांधी पर आपत्तिजनक टिप्पणी करने वाले बग्गा ने झुकने से किया इनकार

The jathedar said at the press conference, when asked about sloganeering at Akal Takht in favour of Khalistan during and after his anniversary speech, “There is nothing wrong if slogans are raised after the function. If the government gives us Khalistan, what more can we ask for? We shall accept it. Every Sikh wants Khalistan.”

The Giani H Singh went on to clarify: “Guru Nanak Dev ji had laid the foundation of Begampura. Guru Hargobind Singh ji founded Akal Takht. It is our great sovereign commitment.”

इसे भी पढ़े: Hindu girls continue to be abducted, converted to Islam in the complicit state of Pakistan

Installed as the Akal Takht jathedar in October 2018, Giani Harpreet Singh, who is doing PhD in Comparative Study of Teachings of the Qur’an, the holy scripture of Muslims, and Guru Granth Sahib, is known for stoking controversies. Last August, he had called for the protection of Kashmiris following the virtual abrogation of Article 370 by India’s parliament. He had accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, of dividing society in the same breath.

More recently, during his Baisakhi address in April this year, Singh had raised the issue of stigmatisation of patients of coronavirus disease (COVID) belonging to a particular religion. He had said, “We would like to tell the government — both at the Centre and in the state — ‘don’t discriminate on the basis of religion while giving aid and rations’.”

Before the jathedar‘s address to the press, the Takht had seen a bhog ceremony, ardas and kirtan in memory of those killed in the Operation Bluestar.

During the function, which was held even as heavy rains pounded the venue, the jathedar delivered his sandesh (address) where he mentioned police restrictions for devotees at the Golden Temple. “Sikhs lack unity. This is the why there are these restrictions,” he said.

Singh said, “The community members need to sit together to achieve the goals set by the Sikh leaders in 1984. For this purpose, we need good policy and honesty,” while paying tribute to slain terrorists Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who had led the armed men into the Golden Temple, which necessitated Operation Bluestar.

Acting Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand, who was present at the complex along with radical Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Sakhira and others, read out his sandesh too.

A majority of people in the gathering were Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) employees and police in plainclothes.

Despite making efforts, the police and SGPC staff could not ensure social distancing inside the complex to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal, which was once headed by Bhindranwale, observed the anniversary of Operation Bluestar too at its headquarters Chowk Mehta in the district.

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India

Gurdwara discards 30 kg of cooked dal, realising it was ‘plastic’

The cooks at the langar of the historic Gurdwara (Gurudwara) Bangla Sahib in Delhi realised they had cooked 30 kg of fake dal and had to throw it away last Tuesday. ‘Plastic’ lentils were discovered in the store on Wednesday, too, but detected before being cooked.

A regular day at the langar of Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

Since this incident, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee has increased the security of the langar hall in all major gurdwaras. The committee has appealed to the sangats to accept donated material like dough, dal and rice only in sealed packets of bona fide brands. Unpacked edible items will not be accepted in gurdwaras henceforth.

With this development, the langar system started by Guru Nanak has fallen victim to adulteration. According to sources, the gurdwara committee has made arrangements to catch the adulterers. CCTV cameras are now installed at vantage points.

Apart from Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Rakabganj Sahib, Sisganj Sahib, Nanak Pyau, Moti Bagh, Majnu Ka Tila have 24-hour langars. Thousands of people eat at these langars daily.

Sources say those responsible for running the langar at Bangla Sahib detected the fake pulses in the nick of time, averting a mishap. The ‘plastic’ pulses were shining a lot, which made the langri suspicious.

A view of the kitchen of Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

Gurdwara committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa (also a member of the Shiromani Akali Dal) said it was a matter of great surprise that there could be people who wanted to discredit the langar. In such a situation, all gurdwaras and Singh Sabhas should be alert.

Sirsa said, “We are now taking full precautions. More staff has been deployed outside and inside the langar hall. Whoever accepts the supplies at night will use only the langar and check lentils and all other edible items.”

The Jago Party has attacked the gurdwara committee. JP general secretary Parminderpal Singh said Sirsa believed pulses were thrown away only twice after being found to have been adulterated. “But they are not saying what is the source of adulteration. Were the lentils soaked and put in cauldrons without checking?”

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India

AAP attempts to snatch power from Amarinder Singh

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) plans to capture Punjab with the gambit of an appeal to 40 disgruntled MLAs of the ruling Indian National Congress (INC) led by Navjot Singh Sidhu to form a government with it. The AAP has 19 MLAs of its own in the State.

Aman Arora, Punjab’s co-convener and MLA of the AAP, has claimed that many INC MLAs are upset with the party. He said, “Four INC MLAs are angry because of phone tapping or because they are not being heard in the government.” They, in turn, have claimed that there are 40 INC MLAs in all who are ill-at-ease working under Captain Amarinder Singh, according to Arora. “That is why we want Navjot Singh Sidhu and 40 Congress MLAs, with 19 AAP MLAs, to come together on one platform,” he said.

Arora says that these disgruntled MLAs, together with the AAP’s strength in the Assembly, can fulfil the promises they made to the people by forming a new government in Punjab.

In the past, four INC MLAs had alleged that Punjab Police was tapping their phone calls. These four MLAs are from the Assembly constituencies of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s district Patiala. They are Hardayal Singh Kamboj, Madan Lal Jalalpur, Nirmal Singh Shutrana and Kaka Rajinder Singh.

These MLAs allege that bureaucracy is riding roughshod over the MLAs and that the babus are not listening to any of them. These four MLAs have heightened politics in Punjab in mid-season of the Amarinder Singh government with the claim that about 40 more MLAs from their party are upset with the chief minister. They claim that these frustrated lawmakers are all coming together.

The AAP tried to create this new political equation in Punjab after the news of displeasure of 40 INC MLAs came to the fore. The AAP has offered these MLAs led by Navjot Singh Sidhu to join hands with the AAP to form a government.

In the Punjab Assembly of strength 117, the INC has 80 MLAs, AAP has 19, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) 14, BJP two and Lok Insaaf Party two MLAs.

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BJP Cannot Afford Ideological Confusion

What does the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stand for? Is it patriotism, nationalism with a saffron hue, and economic welfare of all? This will have to be made clearer. Others, allies and opponents both, are falling by the wayside. Political space is being ceded. And not by just those of the Lohiaite or socialist persuasion.

The challenges have begun to come from BJP allies themselves. One in particular that even professes Hindutva moorings. However, when the ideological position of the ruling dispensation, including its integrity, is challenged, a change must come.

An ‘ally’ may now be in apparent cahoots with their so-called political rivals. It is time to speed things up. Is this just brinkmanship? Can the pre-poll alliance towards the formation of the government in Maharashtra be stabilised by influential quarters from Nagpur? But how much of the situation has been provoked by ideological drift, both in the BJP and the Shiv Sena, and how much is just a political battle for survival on the part of the latter?

Howsoever the immediate situation pans out, in future, it needs to be remembered that an assertive Hindu nationalist BJP provides proof of commitment and maintains its credibility. Being all things to all people is a political position that has long belonged to the Congress.

The Congress has portrayed itself as liberal and inclusive. However, reality has unravelled over time. It is actually tightly dynastic and partisan. It bases its political power, what remains, on the 170 million or more Indian Muslims including a soft attitude towards separatists and terrorists rather than the Indian armed forces in the Kashmir Valley, and even a sympathetic, collusive view on Pakistan and China.

In addition, there are the numerically poor but vociferous and educated liberal-leftists of all hues and creeds fanning the flames. There is, in common with almost all of the political landscape, the rank opportunism of the political draw that makes for instability and very strange bedfellows. And then, there are the other minorities, including the small but influential number of Christians, particularly in a Western context.

This manipulation of people on the margins, against majority interests, over several decades since independence, has angered the vast Hindu nation. This includes the OBC and Dalit masses, even though some of these sections enjoy reservations and other affirmative action benefits. Together with the upper castes, Hindus comprise, even today, nearly 80% of the populace.

The Congress-led partisanship has lost it, the UPA, and even its other allies in the erstwhile loose mahagathbandhan, many votes. That, and its massive corruption. In 2019, it is seen that the Congress also suffers from a vacuum caused by the lack of charismatic, articulate, intelligent leadership beyond its ageing seniors.

The public may have largely lost patience with Congress and its friends including the Communists, but a revival in its political fortunes might be forming. This is largely in reaction to the absence of a clear cut ideological position in the BJP.

However, the reforming of the status of Jammu and Kashmir in Modi 2.0, and the imminent decision, probably favourable, on the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya have taken care of two long pending issues. But to go the whole hog, the Uniform Civil Code is a must, as is the nation-wide implementation of the NRC and a concerted move towards a Hindu Rashtra to replace the false secularism we have known so far.

Prime Minister Modi did start his consecutive second term in 2019 with an enlarged mandate. But strangely, in the very first flush, he floated an extension to his winning slogan of 2014-namely ‘sabka vishwas’ (the trust of all). This took many of his supporters by surprise but wasn’t believed by his detractors either. Was it, in fact, a political experiment?

It was interpreted to primarily mean an inclusion of the Muslims, in particular, into the BJP’s vision of ‘vikas’ (development). Did it intend to introduce special measures to exclusively help Muslims, just like the Congress? Was it an attempt to reboot the BJP image by edging from the right towards the middle? But why? Why, for that matter, did Modi 2.0 expend so much political energy on passing the strictures of triple talaq into law? Does the BJP expect to garner much of the female Muslim vote? Is this a realistic aspiration beyond a weak 10 to 15% of Muslim women?  Is the effort put into triple talaq, by casting it in terms of women’s empowerment, commensurate with the political returns?

When your ideology is neither here nor there, you get a mandate that is neither here nor there

Try as it might, the opponents of the BJP, including most Muslim leaders, never tire of depicting it as divisive. Echoes of this position come from parts overseas, not only from Pakistan but from left-leaning journalists, intellectuals and academics in the West. But can this leopard ever change its spots irrespective of the inducements? Could there not have been time saved and better yields from promoting Hindutva and right-wing economics for the faithful?

The present leadership of the BJP is honour-bound to promote the core agenda of the RSS, which has long supported and inspired BJP. And straying far from this path makes it look very much like the Congress. Moving away from its core beliefs also confuses its solid mass of voters.

The Modi-Shah led BJP would have the public view the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A and the formation of two Union Territories where Jammu and Kashmir State once stood in purely nationalist terms.

But many amongst the lib-left and the minorities see it as a curtailment of Muslim freedom, and human rights violations. All this is projected as a political battering ram against the BJP. There is no acceptance on its part of the BJP line that it is a visionary move to foster the better development of the region. A reform designed to take the region away from the scourge of Pakistan sponsored terrorism. But what about promoting a demographic shift in the Kashmir Valley as the Chinese have effected into Tibet?

BJP wants the nation as a whole and the international community to see the changes in Kashmir as the setting right of a historical mistake. But, to make it stick it has to push onwards. Minorities need to be protected but the majority must assert itself.

The behaviour of the Shiv Sena in the formation of the new government in Maharashtra is a harbinger of things to come. More NDA allies are likely to worry about being thrust into oblivion, via the submergence of their own distinct identity. This, more so, because their bases are in one or the other state of the union, rather than a national presence.

Shiv Sena was born and bred in Maharashtra. And even though it laid claim to the mantle of national Hindutva, this started slipping away to the BJP right from the start. Even as it was indeed the Shiv Sainiks who brought the domes of the Babri Masjid down in 1992.

And today, days before the decision by the Supreme Court to allow a new temple to come up in its place, the Shiv Sena itself is apparently about to self-immolate. If it bows its knee to BJP for the sake of government formation, it will be steadily marginalised for its extreme disloyalty. And for having used up most of its political capital.

If it forms the government with its ideological enemies, the NCP and the Congress, it will definitely be short-lived. 

Others in the NDA, most notably the Akali Dal, currently out of power in Punjab, with grave alleged charges of corruption against it, could in time, also become history. This, not just because of its loss of power to the Congress, led by the popular Captain Amarinder Singh of the Patiala royal family, but because they stand rejected by the Punjabis and Sikhs.

But even as regional parties in the NDA alliance discredit and marginalise themselves, the resurgent RSS backed BJP has to fulfil its own promises. It must shake off other ideas and prepare to go it alone to fulfil the aspirations of its voters.

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India

Terrorist camp in Pakistan across border near Kartarpur

Intelligence agencies have expressed apprehension about possible terrorist attacks even before the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor scheduled for 9 November following a series of discussions between India and Pakistan. Central intelligence agencies have issued a warning citing militant bases in the Narowal district of Pakistan along the international border. A recent US report corroborated the intelligence input, saying Pakistani terrorists were raring for an attack on India.

A Central intelligence source said, “Terrorist training camps have been found in Muridke, Shakargarh and Narowal in the Punjab province of Pakistan.” It is also learned that men, as well as women, are being trained in these terrorist bases. The handlers and the executors of terrorist plans would make use of the Pakistani mobile telephony network along the border in Indian Punjab as the network has a range of 5-7 km into the territory of India, the intelligence report says.

On 31 August, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said the Narendra Modi government was committed to completing the Kartarpur Corridor within the stipulated time. The assurance of the home minister had come a day after India and Pakistan held a meeting of the technical committee at the Zero Point in Gurdaspur in Punjab on the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, amid fresh tensions between the two countries after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was scrapped.

The statement of Shah made it clear that the Modi government did not share the apprehension of BJP Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy about the Kartarpur Corridor. Swamy had, a week before Shah’s statement, said that the work on the Kartarpur Corridor project should be stopped in the interest of the nation and there should be no talks with Pakistan on any issue. “In my view, in the interest of the nation, the work (on the Kartarpur corridor) should not move ahead. Whatever work has taken place (on the project), let it stop there,” he had said, talking to reporters on the sidelines a seminar in Chandigarh. The Sikh community led by the Shiromani Akali Dal had howled in protest against Swamy’s statement.

The Modi government has apparently been under the pressure of Sikh politics in India, as it had to cut short the negotiations with Pakistan to reach the Kartarpur agreement. India agreed also to let Sikh pilgrims from this country pay a fee of $ 20 each for registration at the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara. India gave up opposing the stubborn insistence of Pakistan for the fee under the domestic political compulsion of yielding to lakhs of Indian Sikhs who wish to visit the shrine of Guru Nanak.

Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday will be celebrated on 12 November. To commemorate the occasion, the Kartarpur Corridor is being inaugurated a few days in advance: on 9 November. Once this corridor is opened, the Dera Baba Nanak of Gurdaspur in Punjab will be directly connected with the shrine in Pakistani territory.

The distance from the international border to Kartarpur is about 5 km. A group of six Sikh pilgrims left for Lahore last Thursday.

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Elections

Dushyant wooed by both INC, BJP emerges kingmaker

In the trends of Haryana Assembly election results that have defied the exit poll predictions, Congress is seen giving a tough competition to the BJP. The two parties are tied in a neck-and-neck contest. In this scenarios, in what appears to be a repeat of their act in Karnataka one-and-a-half years ago, the Congress has reportedly offered Dushyant Chautala the post of deputy chief minister, which Chautala has officially denied. He says his party, the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) will take a call on any offer from either party only when the final results arrive.

At the time when this report was drafted, both BJP and Congress were leading in 35 seats each while “others” were ahead in 20 seats, with the scene promising to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

Congress sources say they have approached Dushyant Chautala’s party JJP for support. Congress has offered JJP the post of deputy chief minister, they insist. Chautala is ready to commit only this much as of now that his party is going to play an important role in forming the new government. He said if no party got a majority in the state, his party will play an important role in forming the new government.

The JJP head said he would decide “whether we have to go with BJP or with Congress or sit in opposition” only after the final figures were out. “Our party has worked above caste and party lines. We want to provide jobs to 75% youth in the state, the right price to farmers, and prioritise women safety,” he said.

After the counting of votes started, Chautala had said, voters had given a lot of love to his party, the JJP. “Haryana wants a change. You will see a new face in no time,” he said.

The parties are engaged in tough battles in 26-27 seats, Dushyant Chautala acknowledged. “Wait for the election result. Only then can it be said with which party I will go. I will first call a party meeting only then I will decide. The party will decide the future role whether we have to go with BJP, go with Congress or sit in opposition. We have worked above caste and party lines. I want jobs for 75% of the youth, fair price for the farmers, security for women and rights for the workers,” he said.

Meanwhile, news has just arrived that BJP president Amit Shah has summoned Chief Minister ML Khattar to Delhi to seek an explanation for the lacklustre performance of the party in this Assembly election.

Further, sources in the BJP say that they are trying to woo Dushyant Chautala as well via Parkash Singh and Sukhbir Singh Badal. The Shiromani Akali Dal is not an ally of the BJP in Haryana unlike the situation in Punjab.

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Elections

Maharashtra, Haryana exit polls: BJP-led NDA to continue ruling

After the end of the Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, the BJP-led NDA in both the states is seen forming governments according to almost all exit polls. Votes will be counted on 24 October. Maharashtra recorded 54.53% voting till 5 PM, while Haryana recorded 61.92% voting till 5 PM.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis are believed to be facing litmus tests. They were both made the respective faces of the party in the elections.

BJP had won for the first time in 2014 in Haryana. The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance returned to power by defeating the 15-year-old NCP-Congress alliance in Maharashtra although an alliance could not be struck before the last election. BJP daring to go it alone had, for the first time, make it the larger partner in the NDA in Maharashtra in 2014.

In Haryana with 90 assembly seats, the BJP and Congress fielded candidates for all the seats this time whereas INLD-Akali Dal made the election extremely interesting by fielding its candidates in 81 seats.

Maharashtra
Channel/Agency BJP Congress Others
TIMES NOW-CNX 230 48 10
ABP-LOKNITICSDS 192-216 55-81 4-21
NEWS18-IPSOS 243 41 16
AXIS-INDIA TODAY 166-194 71-90 04
REPUBLIC-JAN KI BAAT 216-230 52-59 8-12
  • TV9 Marathi-Cicero has given 197 seats to BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra in its exit poll whereas Congress-NCP has been given 75 seats and others 16 seats.
Haryana
Channel/Agency BJP Congress Others
TIMES NOW-CNX 71 11 08
ABP-C VOTER 72 08 10
NEWS18-IPSOS 75 10 05
NEWSX-POLSTRAT 75-80 9-12 1-4
REPUBLIC-JAN KI BAAT 52-63 15-19 12-18
  • In the exit poll of India News-Pollstrat, BJP has been given 75-80 seats in Haryana, 8-12 seats are going to the Congress and 0-1 seats to INLD + Akali.
  • TV9 Bharatvarsha has given 47 seats to BJP in Haryana, 23 to Congress and 9 to INL + Akali Dal in the exit poll.

By winning 47 seats in the 2014 elections, BJP had formed the last government with a simple majority in Haryana for the first time. In Haryana election, BJP made the removing of Article 370 and bringing NRC to the state its poll planks. Congress raised the issue of unemployment, economic downturn and growing troubles of farmers.

In the 2014 Haryana Assembly election, the BJP had won 47 seats, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) 19 and Congress 15 seats. The Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) had won two seats, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had won one each. Five independents won the election last time.

Looking at the 2014 Assembly election results in Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party had emerged as the single largest party with 123 seats. This was the first time the BJP had won so many seats in Maharashtra while Shiv Sena was second with 63 seats. The Congress had 42 seats and NCP 41 seats while 1 seat went into the account of ‘others’.

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India

PIL before Ayodhya verdict to scrap Act on places of worship

After the completion of the hearing of the Ayodhya dispute, another case will perhaps begin in the Supreme Court dealing with religious places or places of worship. It is possible that even before the verdict of the age-old Ayodhya dispute, this public interest litigation (PIL) hits the court. Already, other than the case of land title dispute, there is a case to determine whether leaders of the RSS, BJP, VHP and other Hindu organisations like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambhara, etc were responsible for the demolition of the Babri structure on 6 December 1992.

Interestingly, Hindus might not complain if the PIL is admitted. For, the law it challenges keeps other places of worship that they claim out of bounds for them.

According to sources, a lawyer is going to challenge the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 in the Supreme Court through this PIL. This Act was passed that year when Parliament had decided that the status, rights and ownership of all other religions and places of worship all over the country, except the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, would remain the same as before 15 August 1947.

The law the PIL would challenge

Lawyer and Delhi BJP spokesman Ashwini Upadhyay is moving the court against the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. He says, “Apart from Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, Sri Krishna’s birthplace in Mathura, Kashi Vishwanath, Vijay Mandir in Vidisha, Rudra Mahalaya in Batna, Gujarat, the Bhadrakali temple, the ancient city of Raja Bhoja including the places of faith like Bhojshala in Dhar, were demolished or usurped during the Mughal period arbitrarily and illegally. Mosques, dargahs or idgahs were built in their place.”

Upadhyay continues, “Religious disputes over social rights were going on in some courts in 1991 when, without talking to both the sides, the government of the day passed this Act.”

Upadhyay believes that, by doing so, the PV Narasimha Rao government at the Centre attempted a forceful change in history, insulted other communities of India like Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis etc. At the same time, it is also against the basic spirit of Islam, the lawyer says, where it is forbidden to forcibly build a mosque or grab the land of others or raze the place of worship of others.

Taking a dig at this act, Shi’ah Central Waqf Board Chairman Syed Wasim Rizvi has demanded that his community asked the Union Government to repeal the Act several times in the past. Rizvi says that places with historical evidence of forcible capturing, such as temples, where idgahs were built should be handed back to the original occupants. However, this law is the main obstacle in this path. Now if the government repeals the Act, it will also be legally easy to return such religious places across the country to their original entitlements and worshippers.

Meanwhile, in the Ayodhya case…

Further to the “moulding of relief” affidavits by the Hindu Mahasabha, other Hindu parties to the dispute and Haji Mehboob in the Ayodhya case, the Shi’ah Waqf Board has said that in its ‘moulding of relief’ affidavit that their community has told the Supreme Court that they were giving up the claim on the land given to the Muslims by the Allahabad High Court. Rizvi said that a temple should be built there.

The Shi’ah Waqf Board affidavit says specifically that a Lord Rama temple should be built on the land.

While this position the Shi’ahs have taken in the case has been known since 2017, it has reiterated that the land is not owned by the Sunni Waqf Board, but by the Shi’ah Waqf Board. In this situation, the Shi’ahs have said that the part which the High Court had given to the Sunni Waqf Board should be given to the Hindu side.

Hindu Mahasabha objects

Ram Lalla Virajman and Hindu Mahasabha have objected to the Muslim side giving a written reply in a sealed cover for the moulding of relief. They have written a letter to the Secretariat Journal of the Supreme Court in which they have said that the five-member bench of the Supreme Court did not say anywhere in their order that the reply on the moulding of relief should be filed in a sealed cover. In such a situation, the Sunni Waqf Board’s reply should not be accepted nor should it be placed before the five-member bench.

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Elections

Haryana: BJP fields Khattar, Phogat, Yogeshwar, INLD rebels

Seeking to retain power in Haryana as it takes on a disjointed opposition, the BJP on Monday released its first list of 78 candidates including Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who has been fielded from Karnal again, and three noted sportspersons for the 21 October election to the 90-member Assembly.

The BJP dropped seven MLAs including two ministers, Vipul Goel and Rao Narbir Singh, and rewarded INLD turncoats with tickets.

Making their electoral debut, wrestler Babita Phogat, former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh and Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt — all of whom joined the party in recent weeks — will contest from Dadri, Pehowa and Baroda respectively, BJP national general secretary Arun Singh told reporters here.

The candidates include nine women and two Muslims.

Singh said the party’s central election committee, which had met on Sunday, had repeated 38 MLAs and dropped seven of them.

Khattar will contest from Karnal seat which he won in 2014.

Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala is in the fray in Tohana, Captain Abhimanyu in Narnod and Om Prakash Dhankar in Badli, Singh said.

Jat leader and Former Union minister Birender Singh’s MLA wife Prem Lata Singh will contest from Uchana Kalan, a seat she had won in 2014.

Aditya Devilal, a grandson of Jat stalwart Devi Lal, has been fielded from Dabwali, the Chautala clan’s bastion represented by Naina Chautala who is the wife of former MP Ajay Singh Chautala.

The last date for filing nominations is 4 October.

With the opposition weakened by desertion among its ranks and shrinking support base, as seen in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the BJP is confident of returning to power with a bigger mandate.

Riding on ‘Modi wave’, the party had stormed to power in Haryana for the first time in 2014, winning 47 seats. It had earlier been part of non-Congress governments as a junior partner and was never seen as a principal force.

Since coming to power it has consolidated its political position further in Haryana as its rivals, Congress and INLD, were hit by internal fight made worse by their repeated poor shot in different polls.

This coupled with “popular support” to the party following the Union government’s decision to nullify Article 370 will further boost its chances in the polls, its leaders have said.

The party had won Jind by-poll earlier this year, taking its strength to 48. The BJP has set a target of winning 75 plus seats this time.

The party believes that Khattar, who was a surprise pick for the chief minister’s post after the 2014 win, enjoys a clean image after running a government “untainted” by any allegation of corruption. He is again the party’s choice for the top post.

In 2014, the BJP had benefited from the consolidation of non-Jat voters behind it in a state long dominated by leaders from the community. The party’s choice of Khattar, who is from the Punjabi community, was apparently driven by it. The party is, however, hopeful of winning over a significant section of Jats this time.

Vipul Goel and Rao Narbir Singh, both ministers, were sitting MLAs from Faridabad and Badshahpur constituency respectively. Deputy Speaker Santosh Yadav, who represented Ateli constituency in Mahendergarh district, too was denied ticket.

While Goel has been replaced by Narinder Gupta, Manish Yadav comes in for Rao Narbir Singh and Sita Ram Yadav has replaced Santosh Yadav.

The ministers who have been re-nominated include Capt Abhimanyu, Ram Bilas Sharma, Anil Vij, Krishan Kumar Bedi, Karan Dev Kamboj, Kavita Jain and OP Dhankar.

Sources said Khattar, who has emerged as a powerful leader of the party delivering results on the ground, had had a major say in the selection of candidates.

Several Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) turncoats, majority of them sitting MLAs, have been major gainers. Among them is Ranbir Gangwa who will fight from Nalwa, Zakir Hussain from Nuh, Naseem Ahmed from Ferozepur Jhirkha, Nagender Bhadana from Faridabad NIT, Ram Chand Kamboj from Rania.

Lone Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Balkaur Singh, whose entry into BJP fold recently had angered SAD, has been rewarded with a ticket from his Kalanwali reserved seat in Sirsa.

Besides, INLD leader from Rohtak district, Satish Nandal, who also joined the BJP recently, will fight from Garhi Sampla Kiloi, from where former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is sitting legislator.

Ram Kumar Kashyap, former INLD leader who switched over to BJP, will fight from Indri. Parminder Dhull, an MLA who too crossed over to saffron outfit, will fight from his seat Julana.

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Elections

Khattar will lead BJP to victory in Haryana: Opinion poll

Chandigarh/New Delhi: With the announcement of the Haryana Assembly election, the first opinion poll has been released. According to the poll, the BJP is going to retain power under the leadership of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in the state with a lot more seats than what it could garner last time.

According to the ABP News/C-Voter survey, the BJP can get 78 out of a total of 90 seats in Haryana. Congress can manage a mere eight seats, Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) will get one seat and others just three.

In the 2014 Assembly election in Haryana, the BJP had got 47 seats out of 90 Assembly constituencies in the state. Congress had 15 seats and INLD 19 seats while Haryana Janhit Congress had 2 seats. The BSP and the Akali Dal won a seat each. Independent candidates won 5 Assembly seats.

How Khattar is making it

In the ABP News/C voter survey, the opposition criticism of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar notwithstanding, he has been found to be the people’s first choice for the post of chief minister. Khattar leads this race with 48% votes.

Thirteen per cent of the people want senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to become the chief minister.

Dushyant Chautala, with his party Jananayak Janata Party (JJP), is the third choice for the post with 11% votes.

Who can get what percentage of votes

According to the opinion poll, the BJP is looking far ahead of the competition in terms of vote share. It is estimated that BJP may get 48% of the votes in the 21 October polling.

Congress lags far behind. According to the poll, the Congress may get less than half of the BJP’s 22%, the JJP 8%, the INLD 3% and other parties all put together 21%.

Issues

According to the opinion poll, the greatest issue is the lack of employment in Haryana. Interestingly, water is considered the second major problem. Out of those polled, 27.6% have described employment and 14.1% the water problem as the most important electoral issue.

Of those polled, 4.9% of people consider price rise and 4.5% of people consider electricity as electoral issues. Among those interviewed by the surveyors, 3.6% have described corruption as a major electoral issue.

The Election Commission announced the date of Assembly elections in Haryana today. The state will vote on all 90 seats in a single phase on 21 October while votes will be counted on 24 October.

Giving information about the election program, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that notification will be issued in Haryana on 27 September. Nominations can be filed by 4 October, which can be withdrawn by 7 October.