City-based lawyer Asim Sarode has complained to the Income Tax Department to probe the lavish wedding ceremony of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Santosh Danve, son of Maharashtra BJP chief Raosaheb Danve.In a letter to the I-T authorities, Mr. Sarode has urged them to look into the extravagant display of wealth at the wedding, which took place on March 3 in Aurangabad, in the State’s Marathwada region, and was attended by 40,000 people, including the State Cabinet led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.The younger Mr. Danve, who represents the Bhokardan constituency in Jalna district, married the daughter of well-known musician and composer Rajesh Sarkate. The marriage pandal was constructed at a cost of ₹1 crore, while ₹1.5 lakh was spent on the wedding invites.The top hotels in Aurangabad city were booked well in advance, with charter planes and special bookings on Air India Flights done by the Danve family.Mr. Sarode said in his letter, “By special order, all vacations and leaves of police officers from the Aurangabad police department were cancelled and they were following only one duty — to monitor the smooth function and provide security at the marriage. To facilitate easy access of VIPs, the Beed by-pass road was closed for common people.”The letter states that the lavish show-off of money is sufficient for the I-T Department to investigate the source of funding and determine whether unaccountable money was used in violation of the Money Laundering Act. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Sarode said Mr. Danve’s reception for his son was especially shameful in backdrop of a raging agrarian distress in the parched Marathwada region.“As per the Aurangabad Revenue Department, it is estimated that at least 117 farmers committed suicide in the region during the last two months. It is therefore incumbent on Raosaheb Danve and his son Santosh to present true facts before the public on whether they have organised the wedding in a ‘cashless’ way,” he said.“Such exorbitant marriage ceremonies create an acute feeling of discrimination in a society where a majority people are economically deprived. It is pertinent to note that some States in India, like Haryana, have taken a positive step to stop the large spending on such political marriage ceremonies,” Mr. Sarode said, remarking that the State government ought to make use of Section 10 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 to frame its own set of strict rules.
Former Union Finance Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Singh on Friday demanded that the Centre should set up a new Commission to look into whether the reservation cap of 50% for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) could be increased or not. Mr. Sinha also took a swipe at Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for reading out his budget speech while sitting in his chair. “I am for a new Commission to further strengthen the principles of the existing reservation [policy].” Yashwant Sinha“Though the implementation of reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs have brought changes in society,a lot [still] needs to be done. For this, the Central government should set up a new Commission to study their present status…the Commission should give its recommendations on whether increasing the cap of 50% of quota fixed by the Supreme Court is needed or not,” said Mr. Sinha, while speaking at a programme organised by Vanchit Varg Morcha, a non-political organisation, in Patna. Mr. Sinha, who was the chief guest of the programme, further said that the new Commission should also look into questions such as, “What is the present status of people belonging to the SC, ST and OBC categories vis-a-vis reservation?… What are the problems and how will these problems be dealt with in days to come…on the issue of reservation in promotions, scholarships and the social uplift of these communities, which is of utmost importance.” Later, on the sidelines of the programme, he explained to mediapersons that he was not saying the reservation cap of 50% should be increased. “I am for a new Commission to further strengthen the principles of the existing reservation [policy],” he asserted.Earlier, when former Bihar Assembly speaker and patron of the programme, Uday Narayan Choudhary, requested Mr. Sinha to address the audience while sitting in his chair, the senior BJP leader took a swipe, without taking the name of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, to say that he “…was not like the FM who had read out his budget speech while sitting.”“I have delivered all seven of my budget speeches in a standing position, whereas the current Finance Minister has delivered his budget speech sitting in his chair…here also, I will deliver my speech from the podium,” Mr. Sinha said, drawing applause from the audience. In an oblique comment on Mr. Jaitley’s reference to him as a “a job applicant at the age of 80”, Mr. Sinha said, “This is the State where people in their 80s [freedom fighter Veer Kuer Singh] took up swords to fight against the Britisher.”
Goa will ban PVC-based plastic from May 30, and no plastic packaging will be allowed in the State from December 19, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Thursday. Speaking at a public function in the city, he also said that littering would be made a punishable offence soon. “When I talk of a plastic ban, I am talking about PVC-based plastic. From December 19, plastic packaging will be banned. Let us make Goa free of plastic,” Mr. Parrikar said.
Noted scholar and the first Finance Minister in the Left Front government in West Bengal Ashok Mitra passed away in a private hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday morning. He was 90.Mitra was suffering for a long time and was admitted to the hospital in April.Besides serving the State Government, he also worked with the Central Government as the Chief Economic Adviser and was a member of Rajya Sabha.Also Read Ashok Mitra: The end of multiple eras A teacher of Economics, who taught in UN Economic Commission, Mitra was also associated with World Bank for many years. He also edited a Bengali magazine till his last days. Mitra was the first Finance Minister in the Left Front government after it came to power in Bengal in 1977 but resigned later following his differences with the Chief Minister Jyoti Basu.One of Bengal’s most prolific columnists, he was known for his deep and critical analysis of society and its politics.He criticized CPI(M) led government’s land acquisition policy during the Nandigram-Singur agitation about a decade back and had warned the Left for annoying its traditional vote place, the peasants.A lifelong Communist, Mitra, during one of his last interviews to The Hindu, said, “death is a great equalizer which finally erases the differences between the rich and the poor.”Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was often criticized by Mitra, offered her condolence.“Saddened at the passing away of noted economist, former Finance Minister of Bengal and former Rajya Sabha MP, Dr Ashok Mitra. He had a long career with the World Bank, IIM Calcutta and as Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India. Condolences to his family & well wishers,” Ms Banerjee tweeted. Mitra authored many books of which a few, penned decades ago, continue to be in the best seller list.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad was rushed to a hospital here on Friday after he complained of vertigo, breathing problems and uneasiness.He was discharged after a couple of hours. The former Bihar Chief Minister would visit Mumbai next week and then Bengaluru for further treatment, his family physician said.“The former Bihar Chief Minister was admitted here following complaints of vertigo, because of which he had fallen at home. He also complained of breathing problems and uneasiness. He has thoroughly been examined by our specialists,” a hospital official said. Manish Mandal, medical superintendent at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), told reporters.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said that a united Opposition would oust the BJP-led government at the Centre in the Lok Sabha elections due in 2019.Captain Singh was talking to presspersons in Shahkot during a roadshow ahead of the Assembly byelection in the constituency on Monday. He said that anti-BJP forces were coming together and would throw the BJP-led Central government out as the people were completely fed up with it. “People want a change, they want a future, they want a government that delivers,” he said, adding that the BJP-led government would face the consequences of its ill-conceived policies.“The economy has been destroyed, industry is fleeing, law and order has collapsed,” he said.
A rape case by a 21 year old woman from Surat against former BJP lawmaker Jayanti Bhanushali is escalating as a major sex scandal involving two former lawmakers trading charges and allegations against each other. The whole episode and it’s 24/7 coverage on local media and social media platforms have become a major cause of embarrassment for the ruling party.The state BJP said Mr. Bhanushali has already resigned from post as Vice President of Gujarat BJP. On Tuesday, the 21-year-old complainant in Surat appeared before media and alleged that despite her complaint, the local police have not yet arrested Mr. Bhanushali, an influential BJP leader from Kutch. She again narrated a series of incidents in which she was subjected to rape and sexual harassment by the accused, who promised her admission in a private college and a job. Based on her complaint, Surat police have lodged an FIR naming Mr. Bhanushali, who has been summoned to appear before police. Meanwhile in Ahmedabad, a man claiming to be former husband of rape victim told media that in the past also, the woman had played victim for money. He claimed that she had sexual relationships with multiple men and used to make CD to extort money from them. “Within two months of our marriage, we divorced because she had multiple affairs and sexual relations,” he told media persons, stressing that her complaint cannot be taken seriously. He also named another BJP leader Chhabil Patel, a former Congress legislator who joined BJP in 2014 and unsuccessfully contested assembly polls in 2017 as BJP candidate from Abdasa assembly seat, for threatening him to divorce the woman. It may be noted that Mr. Bhanushali and Chhabil Patel are local political rivals and have been trying to establish their dominance in Kutch district politics. Chhabil Patel denied all allegations and said “he was being dragged in the matter at behest of Bhanushali, who has been exposed and facing arrest.” “Everybody in Kutch knows about Bhanushali, who is a blackmailer and land grabber. He has trapped many people including several leaders in honey trap at his farm house in Kutch,” a senior party leader and former legislator from Kutch told The Hindu. He added that other victims are also likely to come forward and file complaints as Mr. Bhanushali cheated them as well, by promising money and jobs in return of sexual favours to him and others. “She is not the only girl. There are dozens of his victims and gradually they all will come forward,” he added. This is second sex scandal to hit BJP in Gujarat. Last year, a Mumbai based woman had filed a case against 10 persons including local BJP leaders for repeated gang rape and sexual harassment in Naliya police station in Kutch. After the complaint, police had arrested the accused BJP workers including a local municipality member.
As Odisha is set to roll out its own food security scheme from October 2, Rupayaan, a non-government organisation working on food and nutrition issues, has written to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the exclusion and inclusion errors in the public distribution system and suggested measures to strengthen the programme in the State.Congratulating Mr. Patnaik for the decision to start the scheme for an additional 34.44 lakh people, Rajkishor Mishra, director of Rupayaan and former State advisor to the Commissioners of Supreme Court on Right to Food case, said he hoped that it will pave the way for universalising PDS in the State.On the process of identification and selection of beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act, Mr. Mishra said that fixing the number of beneficiaries on the basis of 2011 census has been a major reason for large-scale exclusion error in the underdeveloped districts of Odisha.Ignored factorsThe other major reasons for exclusion of beneficiaries have been the intra-State allotment made following the simple rule of aggregate ST and SC population and ignoring multiple deprivation factors such as migration at the district level. This has created a paradox where districts like Balasore, Boudh, Jajpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada come in the same bracket of 100% (i.e. 77% of total population), Mr. Mishra said.Nuapada district has more OBC population compared to ST and SC combined, and they are equally poor and have been migrating seasonally. However, while allocating the quota, these districts are being kept on par with Jajpur and Balasore. This has created problems at both the districts – exclusion error in Nuapada and probably inclusion error in Balasore and Jajpur, he pointed out.Mr. Mishra further said that there was no clear-cut guideline for intra-district allotment. In Kalahandi, tribal-dominated blocks of Thuamul Rampur and Lanjigarh were treated on par with irrigated blocks of Junagarh and Jaipatna, which put tribal regions in a disadvantaged position.District Collectors should be given a free hand for reallocating the quota based on development criteria set by the State government to further minimise exclusion and inclusion error at district and sub-district level, he added.Stating that food availability has decreased at the household level with transition from family entitlement to individual entitlement under the NFSA, Mr. Mishra suggested that the government should follow positive discrimination at the State, district and sub-district-level while making allotment, and underdeveloped areas be given utmost priority.Mr. Mishra said the government should also consider diversification of PDS and include dal, salt, edible oil and millet for ensuring nutrition security.
It was a daily routine of former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to visit the State headquarters of the Communist Party of India-Marxist in the afternoon. But things have changed in the last couple of years with his deteriorating health and fading eyesight. The veteran CPI(M) leader has remained confined to his small apartment on Palm Avenue for the last six months due to health issues.“Since he suffers from acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, doctors have advised him to not to walk and talk too much. So he doesn’t go out of his home and has not been at the party office in the last six months,” said senior CPI(M) leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.Party leaders close to Mr. Bhattacharjee, known to be an avid reader, revealed that his reading habit has also been hampered. Since he suffers from dry eyes, he cannot bear much light and always keeps the light in his room very dim, said senior CPI(M) leader Rabin Deb, known to be close to the former Chief Minister.Sources close to Mr. Bhattacharjee also revealed that his left eye has been “damaged” for a long time and his right eye has also developed problems over the last few months.Financial help However, the CPI(M) leadership denied reports that Mr. Bhattacharjee has turned down financial help from the party for treatment and said that his medical expenditure is being borne by the party.“We are in regular contact with Mr. Bhattacharjee and his medical expenditure is being borne by the party,” said Mr. Deb. In October last year Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had called on Mr. Bhattacharjee to inquire about his health. Mr. Bhattacharjee stepped down from the CPI(M) State committee in March due to health issues despite being urged by senior party leaders to continue as a committee member. He had also stepped down from the party’s Central Committee and Polit Bureau earlier.
Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who has been on a fast for the past 16 days, was discharged from a hospital here on Sunday, but he is continuing his hunger strike at home.Mr. Patel, 25, who heads the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), went on the fast on August 25 demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for Patidars and loan waiver for farmers. As his health deteriorated, he was first shifted to the Sola Civil Hospital by his supporters on Friday and later to the privately run SGVP Holistic Hospital. He had continued his fast in the hospital.Before being discharged, he told his supporters in a Facebook Live message that he would continue the hunger strike from his residence.He said he was firm on his demands, which include the release of PAAS member Alpesh Kathiriya, who was arrested on the charge of sedition.He alleged in a tweet that a police officer had threatened to kill him.In the tweet, he condemned the “attack” on media personnel on the road to his residence on Sunday. Some of them were roughed up and baton-charged by the police.He said the police deployment reminded him of British Raj and the scene appeared to be one from the “Wagah border”.