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Sunday,16-January-2022

National News

Congress to seal alliance with Left for West Bengal polls

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The Congress high command has given its nod for an alliance with Left parties for the West Bengal Assembly election next year.

Bengal Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhry said, “Today the Congress High command has formally approved the electoral alliance with the Left parties for the impending election in West Bengal.”

In the last polls in 2016, the Congress fought in alliance with the Left parties and secured 44 seats to emerge as the second largest party. However, half of its MLAs have since joined the Trinamool.

However, it is not clear how many seats the Congress will contest but party sources say Congress wants a fair share in the seat sharing agreement.

Bengal Congress in-charge Jitin Prasada said talks on seat sharing will begin but the party will fight with full force to restore the pride of Bengal which is being “destroyed by the BJP and TMC”.

In Bengal, the Congress faces a formidable challenge from the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP, which is fast emerging as a force to reckon with in the poll-bound state.

The 294-member Bengal Assembly will go to the polls next year. While the Trinamool Congress has the challenge to retain power, the Congress also has to retain its ground in the state.

The Congress is also up against an upbeat BJP which has made inroads in the state after winning 18 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general election. The Congress was in a dilemma over whether to go with the Left or the Trinamool.

But its state leaders have been talking to the Left informally and holding programmes in the state simultaneously.

Maharashtra

Maha ATS lawyers to track Malegaon-2008 blast case hearing

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Alarmed by witnesses turning hostile in the Malegaon-2008 blasts case, the Maharashtra government lawyers shall now remain in the Special NIA Court where the trial is being conducted on a daily basis, Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil said here on Saturday.

He told the media persons that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had taken over the case (from the state ATS), but the state government is perturbed at the manner in which several critical witnesses have become hostile in the Special Court.

The significant development came two days after the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) ally Congress had raised the issue and drawn the attention of the Home Ministry and the ATS.

Congress state Working President M. Arif Naseem Khan had submitted a memorandum to the Additional Director-General of Police and ATS chief Vineet Agrawal urging necessary measures to monitor the case closely.

“We are thankful to Home Minister Walse-Patil for accepting our demand for a team to keep a track on the court proceedings. The presence of the ATS lawyers will help in a free and fair trial,” Khan said in a statement.

An ex-minister, Khan reiterated that the NIA is allegedly ‘weakening’ the Malegaon-2008 case and not pursuing it with ‘honesty and sincerity’.

In his memorandum to the ATS Chief Agrawal, Khan contended that the witnesses turning hostile are invoking the names of Bharatiya Janata Party-RSS leaders to “malign the Maharashtra government and ATS” for gaining political mileage in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.

The September 29, 2008 (Malegaon 2008) bomb blast was allegedly engineered in this minority-dominated Nashik town by Hindu fundamentalists, killing 6 and injuring over 100 others, during the Ramadan month when Muslims were breaking their fast.

The Maharashtra Police and then the ATS probed the case till 2011 when it was taken over by the NIA, and the trial is going on daily before the Special NIA Court in Mumbai.

Of the 223 witnesses examined, 16 have turned hostile, claiming that the ATS tortured them to give evidence against the accused, said Khan, urging the need for the presence of the ATS in the court to protect the image of the Maharashtra government.

Among the accused in the sensational Malegaon 2008 case are BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Amritananda Dev Teerth, Dayanand Pandey, Lt. Col. Prasad S. Purohit, and others.

Khan said that the ATS was being sought to be tarnished as an ‘anti-Hindu’ agency with the witnesses, allegedly influenced by the accused, deliberately naming BJP-RSS people ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls for political gains.

“The NIA is not prosecuting all the accused with honesty and sincerity. Out of 223 witnesses who deposed so far, 16 important ones have turned hostile and over a 100 more are still left to be examined. These witnesses are crucial and need to be protected. The NIA has not challenged any orders passed in favour of the accused which shows their intentions clearly,” Khan said.

Some of the witnesses in Malegaon 2008 case even went beyond their recorded statement mentioning names like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, but the NIA’s Special Public Prosecutor took no objection, and another witness claimed he was tortured and threatened by the ATS to take names of Yogi and 4 RSS leaders.

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National News

Will not form alliance with SP, says ASP chief Chandrashekhar

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Chandrashekhar Azad, president of the Azad Samaj Party (ASP), has dubbed Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav as ‘anti-Dalit’ and made it clear that he is not going to form an alliance with the SP in the upcoming assembly polls.

Chandrashekhar claimed that Akhilesh does not understand the meaning of social justice and accused the SP chief of humiliating him.

“Akhilesh has insulted Dalits. He only needs Dalit votes, not leaders. It has become clear from his behaviour that he is similar to the BJP,” Chandrashekhar said while interacting with the media in Lucknow on Saturday.

He also asserted that the BJP will not be allowed to come to power.

“I have had a lot of meetings with Akhilesh Yadav in the last 6 months and we also had many positive conversations, but in the end I felt that Akhilesh does not need Dalits. He does not want Dalit leaders in his alliance. He only wants Dalits to vote for him,” Chandrashekhar told reporters.

He said that all issues including reservation were discussed (with Akhilesh). “Akhilesh assured me he will respond by the evening (on the alliance issue). But he didn’t. Probably doesn’t want an alliance.”

“For nine years, I have been gathering the ‘Bahujan’ (Dalit) community. Our aim is to stop the BJP. An attempt was made to stop my press conference. My fight is not to become an MLA, but to get social justice,” Chandrashekhar added.

He added, “If Akhilesh comes to power, then it is necessary to discuss the situation ahead. Intellectuals have warned us of possible violence against Dalits. Akhilesh humiliated us after 40 days. He insulted the people of the ‘Bahujan’ community.”

Chandrashekhar said, “In the past, we were finalising things regarding the alliance. We were constantly talking to the SP and Akhilesh Yadav. From what we understood from his words, it is clear that he does not want Bahujans in the alliance. Several issues needed to be cleared.”

“The character of political parties changes after coming to power. Such examples have been seen in the previous government. In such a situation, we are determined to work for the protection of Dalit rights. The SP president remained silent on the issue of our rights.”

Chandrashekhar had met Akhilesh Yadav at the SP office on Friday. The meeting between the two leaders lasted for about an hour.

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National News

PM Modi pays tributes to Tamil poet, philosopher Thiruvalluvar

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to the Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar on Thiruvalluvar Day, Saturday.

“On Thiruvalluvar Day, I pay tributes to the great Thiruvalluvar. His ideals are insightful and practical… they stand out for their diverse nature and intellectual depth. Sharing a video I took last year of the Thiruvalluvar Statue and Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari,” the Prime Minister said in a tweet.

Thiruvalluvar is regarded as a cultural icon. His most popular work is a collection of couplets on politics, ethics, economy, and love, called “Thirukkuaaa”.

To honour his contribution, Thiruvalluvar Day is observed either on January 15 or 16 as a part of the Pongal celebrations. While a lot is not known about the life of Thiruvalluvar, it is believed that he used to live in the town of Mylapore, which in today’s time is a neighbourhood in Chennai.

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