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Shiromani Akali Dal demands two-day debate on farmers’ issues

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The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday requested the Vidhan Sabha Speaker to allocate two days for an exclusive discussion on issues concerning the farmers during the ongoing budget session. It also demanded that the Congress government announce a minimum support price (MSP) for vegetables and fruits.

The SAD legislative wing, which handed over a representation in this regard to Speaker Rana K.P. Singh under the leadership of Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, said the two-day discussion, besides covering the issues of the farm loan waiver promise, farmer suicides and the Congress government’s failure to take up the issue of repeal of the three agricultural laws with the Centre, should also spell out the way forward.

The representation said one such way ahead was announcing MSP for all vegetables and fruits immediately.

It said this measure would provide much needed security to vegetable and potato growers as well as kinnow growers, among others.

The SAD legislators, while informing the Speaker that the state was in the midst of an agrarian crisis, said “the major reason for this is the complete loan waiver promise made by then Pradesh Congress President Amarinder Singh in January 2017.”

They said Amarinder Singh had clearly promised that in case the Congress party forms the government in Punjab it would waive off all farmer loans be it from government or private banks, cooperative societies or arhatiyas or commission agents.

The legislators said the Congress government’s failure to implement the loan waiver scheme had resulted in 1,500 farmer suicides and indebtedness had increased because the people believed the Chief Minister and did not pay their loan instalments.

They said the Congress party had also promised Rs 10 lakh compensation and a government job to the families of all the farmers who committed suicide due to indebtedness but even this promise was not kept.

The SAD legislators said similarly farmers were very perturbed at the failure of the Punjab government to come to the aid of those protesting against the farm laws.

They said the Punjab government participated in meetings in which the three agricultural Ordinances, which later took the shape of laws, were finalized.

The lawmakers added that the Punjab government had also amended the Agricultural Produce Marketing Act (APMC) in 2017, months after it formed the government in the state.

“The amended APMC has the same provisions as contained in the three central Acts and that is why farmers are demanding it be scrapped.”

They said the Punjab farmers were also angry that their government had not defended them against persecution by Delhi Police and that the Chief Minister had failed to take up the issues of farmers with the Centre.

The SAD legislators also pointed out that other agricultural issues which needed a resolution included timely release of hundreds of crores owed to sugarcane farmers and ensuring an increase of the state Assured Price on the pattern of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The members, while requesting the Speaker to allow this discussion on priority, said not doing so would be tantamount to betraying the ‘annadaata’.

“We are confident that you will not disappoint the peasantry and will go down in the annals of history as the custodian of the House who put the ‘annadaata’ first”, they told the Speaker.

Maharashtra

Mumbai’s COVID-19 Cases Further Drop To 5,008 and 12 Die

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Mumbai on Friday reported 5,008 new coronavirus cases, 700 less than the previous day, and 12 fresh fatalities linked to the infection, the city civic body said.

With this, the city’s COVID-19 tally rose to 10,28,715, while the death toll jumped to 16,512, a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) bulletin said.

This was the third day in a row when daily COVID-19 cases have dropped in the financial capital.

On Thursday, 5,708 COVID-19 cases and 12 fatalities were reported in the city.

With 12,913 more patients discharged during the day, the number of recovered cases jumped to 9,95,338, said the bulletin.

Mumbai’s coronavirus recovery rate has increased to 97 per cent, while the case doubling rate has improved to 72 days, the BMC said.

As many as 50,032 new coronavirus tests were conducted in the metropolis as compared to 53,203 on Thursday. 

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Maharashtra

Parrikar’s son to quit BJP, contest Goa polls as independent candidate

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Rejecting the BJP’s efforts to arrive at a compromise, former Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar said on Friday that he would resign from the saffron party and contest as an Independent candidate for the February 14 polls from the Panaji Assembly constituency, which was formerly represented by his father.

Addressing a press conference here, Utpal Parrikar also said that his candidature was rejected by the party during the 2019 Panaji bypolls — facilitated after his father’s death — despite support from his constituents, adding that the BJP no longer looks like the party of which his father was a part.

“People of Panaji did not vote for Manohar Parrikar just because he was an MP. They voted for him because he stood for some values. The time has come for me to also stand for those values,” Utpal Parrikar said, adding that he would be resigning from the party and contesting as an Independent candidate.

“Last time, the organisation rejected my candidature despite popular support due to some special reasons. People know the circumstances… Now it does not look like a decision of Parrikar’s party,” Utpal said.

Manohar Parrikar’s elder son’s candidature has been rejected twice by the BJP, in the 2019 bypolls and now in 2022. In the express instance, the BJP has offered a ticket to sitting MLA Atanasio Monserrate.

When Monserrate had contested the 2019 bypolls as a Congress candidate, BJP leaders had slammed him citing the list of criminal offences registered against him, which included a rape charge of a minor girl, extortion and leading a mob attack on a city police station.

Monserrate had won the polls on the Congress ticket, but had joined the BJP soon after.

“I feel embarrassed to talk about the candidate put up by the party. In Panaji, where the party has grown over 30 years, (the party) has given a ticket to someone who joined just two years ago. I have no choice now. I have to go to the people,” he said.

“As far as a political party is concerned, the only party available to me is the BJP. The other platform is Independent, my own platform which I had to do unfortunately in these circumstances for the values I believe in,” he said, adding that he would not be joining any other political outfit.

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NCP actor-MP’s ‘Nathuram Godse’ role divides MVA allies

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A major row has erupted in Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance after an actor-turned-MP played the role of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse.

MVA constituent, Nationalist Congress Party’s Shirur MP and actor Dr Amol Kolhe donned the garb and grabbed the gun of Godse in the upcoming film, “Why I killed Gandhi”.

The film is due for release on an OTT platform on January 30 – the 74th anniversary of Gandhiji’s assassination – and just six months before the Platinum of Indian Independence.

While the Congress has strongly opposed the upcoming web film, there is a mixed reaction within the NCP, while the Shiv Sena has adopted a neutral stance so far.

State Congress President Nana Patole hit out at what he terms “attempts to support the assassination of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and to exalt the act” by certain sections of society.

“Dr Kolhe is an artiste but he is now a MP and is expected to behave more responsibly. It is unfortunate that he is abusing his freedom as an artiste to willy-nilly support the assassination of Gandhiji,” he said.

Patole warned that the Congress would not permit the release of the film as it would send a wrong message to the masses.

NCP President Sharad Pawar has backed Kolhe, saying he had informed the party about this role before he joined and has never supported the ideology of Godse.

“Dr Kolhe’s role should be seen as an actor only – If a person plays the role of Ravana in a cinema, he does not become Ravana himself,” the NCP supremo said, chiding protests from various quarters, both inhouse and outside.

Maintaining a neutral stance, Shiv Sena leader Kishore Tiwari said it is unfortunate that a controversy has been sparked now over a film role essayed in 2017, besides creating tensions among the MVA allies.

NCP national spokesperson and Minister Nawab Malik pointed out that Kolhe had played the role five years ago, long before he joined the NCP in February 2019, and has never propagated Godse’s ideology.

However, his senior party colleague and Housing Minister Dr Jitendra Awhad has raised cudgels against Kolhe’s portrayal as Godse and said the film must be boycotted.

Congress Minister Balasaheb Thorat said artistes must be given the freedom of creative choices but they must ensure that they unwittingly don’t end up glorifying a certain ideology through their roles.

On his part, Kolhe has made it clear in several media statements that he treated the role professionally, and he doesn’t support Godse or hate Gandhiji.

Kolhe is best known for his role as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the teleserial “Raja Shivchhatrapati” and also as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in the television series “Swarajyarakshak Sambhaji”.

Awhad added that he had opposed all “anti-Gandhi” films on ideological grounds.

“When an actor plays a particular character then he gets into the mind of that character and becomes the character without which he cannot be an actor,” he claimed.

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party state President Chandrakant Patil dismissed the MVA bickerings saying there’s nothing wrong if Kolhe has played the role of Godse.

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