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Gujarat polls ahead: Modi, BJP go all out to appropriate Sardar Patel

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering on the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas – to mark the 142nd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi. Photo credit: PIB

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]To commemorate 142nd birth anniversary of Vallabhbhai Patel, Prime Minister flags of Run for Unity and claims earlier governments attempted to erase Patel’s legacy

As the country remembered India’s first home minister and deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 142nd birth anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP also went all out to appropriate the ‘Iron Man of India’ who, ironically, had once banned the saffron party’s parent organisation – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

As Modi flagged off the Run for Unity from a flamboyant event organised at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the national capital to mark the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas – celebrated to mark Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary and his contribution in uniting India’s over 500 princely states into a composite Republic – it seemed too much of a coincidence that the BJP’s display of an ever-increasing fondness for Patel came weeks before the Gujarat assembly polls.

Modi launched a not-so-veiled attack at the Congress while underscoring the contributions of Sardar Patel towards building the Indian republic.

“There have been attempts to run down Sardar Patel, to ensure that his contribution is forgotten. But Sardar is Sardar, whether any government or any party recognises his contribution or not but the nation and the youth will not forget him,” Modi said while addressing the mega-event at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium.

However, the rich tributes to Sardar Patel, which are obviously well-deserved and undoubtedly should have been made more often by previous Congress regimes, also have a great political significance for Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh, minister of state for youth affairs and sports Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore flagging off the Run For Unity from the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. Phot credit: PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh, minister of state for youth affairs and sports Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore flagging off the Run For Unity from the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. Phot credit: PIB

Sardar Patel belonged to a humble agricultural land holding Patidar family from Gujarat, the home state of both, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah. The BJP currently faces its toughest poll battle in the past 22 years as Gujarat goes to polls next month and a major reason for this party’s troubles is the raging Patidar agitation in the state that is being led by Hardik Patel, who is threatening to align with the Congress to bring down the state’s saffron government.

In Gujarat, Sardar Patel is an iconic figure whose popularity as the ‘Iron Man of India’ and a hard-nosed realist in Indian politics during the era of Nehruvian socialism arguably surpasses that of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and perhaps even of the Mahatma himself. By batting for Patel’s legacy and trying to project the BJP as the party that is fighting to get the Congress icon his true place in history, Modi is cleverly reaching out to the Gujarati electorate – especially the agitating Patidar community which has also chosen Sardar Patel as their icon.

Paying rich tributes to Sardar Patel, Modi said: “The British government wished that India was disintegrated into smaller states. But Patel used all means (saam, daam, dand, bhed, rajneeti, kutneeti) and succeeded in uniting all princely states into a single nation within a very small span of time,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that it was Rajendra Prasad – India’s first President – who had declared that India had become a united nation only due to the administrative acumen and strong leadership of Sardar Patel but that the country was not giving him due respect.

“Rajendra Babu must be happy now, wherever his soul may be, that we are remembering the contribution of Sardar Patel today even though some people tried to run down and erase his contribution. The nation will continue to remember Patel,” Modi declared.

The Prime Minister hailed Sardar Patel as “the main force behind upholding India’s unity and integrity at the time of Independence.”

In recent years, Modi and his BJP have made repeated attempts to appropriate Sardar Patel – a staunch Congressman, acolyte of Mahatma Gandhi and comrade-in-arms of India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In the absence of any freedom fighters within their own ranks who can be projected to rival the popularity and stature of Pandit Nehru, the BJP-RSS combine have repeatedly sought to take Sardar Patel for their icon. The saffron combine has floated misrepresentations and grossly exaggerated claims of how the Congress under Pandit Nehru “insulted” Patel and how, in the past six decades since the death of both Nehru and Patel, the Congress party has sought to erase the contributions of Sardar in an effort to ensure that the aura around Nehru doesn’t pale in comparison.

Modi’s efforts to showcase himself and his party as the force that is keeping Patel’s legacy alive have often led the Prime Minister and his party colleagues from making gaffes at public events while trying to portray the reportedly strained relationship between Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel . The Prime Minister had once famously declared that Pandit Nehru had skipped the funeral of Sardar Patel in December 1950 – a lie that was immediately exposed by the Congress party which released video footage of the country’s first Prime Minister standing beside the funeral pyre of his deputy.

While there is no doubt that Sardar Patel had a huge role to play in uniting India and ensuring that the newly born country of multiple princely states, religions, castes and languages didn’t implode under the sheer pressure of its enormous diversity, Modi and his BJP’s bid to appropriate the icon’s legacy for incremental political and electoral gains in poll-bound Gujarat can’t be ignored either.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah deletes post on reservation for Kannadigas in private sector after backlash from business community

the Cabinet meeting held yesterday approved a bill to make it mandatory to hire 100 per cent Kannadigas for C and D-grade posts in all private industries in the State.

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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday deleted his social media post on the reservation Bill, which reserves seats in groups C and D for Kannadigas only in the private sector, after backlash from the business community.

Announcing the Bill on X, Siddaramaiah said the Cabinet meeting held yesterday approved a bill to make it mandatory to hire 100 per cent Kannadigas for C and D-grade posts in all private industries in the State.

The post further read, “It is our government’s wish that the Kannadigas should avoid being deprived of jobs in the land of Kannada and should be given an opportunity to build a comfortable life in the motherland.” He said that his government is a pro-Kannada government and their priority is to look after the welfare of Kannadigas.

Later after criticism from industry leaders, the Kartnataka CM deleted the post and then shared another post in Kannada that talks about giving reservation of 50% for administrative posts and 75% for non-administrative posts for Kannadigas in private industries and other organizations of the State.

Speaking to the media, Labour Minister Santosh Lad said the government is trying to introduce a law to give preference to locally available skills. He added that at the management level, it has been decided to provide reservations to 50% of the people.

At the non-management level, it has been decided to provide work to 70%, he said. If a particular skill is not available, people can be outsourced and they can be given work here. But the Government is trying to bring in a law to give preference to locally available skills, the minister further added.

In response to the government’s announcement about the passage of the Bill, industry leaders and unions voiced concerns that it would impede industry growth by pushing away skilled workers not protected by the quota. Nasscom, the apex body for the technology industry in India, stated that the Bill was “deeply disturbing”.

Mohandas Pai, a Padma Shri Awardee and former CFO and Board Member at Infosys, also said that the government must focus on increasing jobs, training, and educating Kannada youth instead of driving away investment. Karnataka is India’s best state, adding that he said we should not destroy this. Pai termed the Bill as ‘discriminatory, regressive, and against the Constitution’ even as he attacked the ruling Congress for the decision.

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Maharashtra sends controversial IAS trainee Puja Khedkar back to academy

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Trainee IAS officer Puja Khedkar, who has been the eye of the storm, has been asked by the Maharashtra Government to report back to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie.

A letter from Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary Nitin Gadre stated LBSNAA has suspended district training of Khedkar and has called her back for further necessary action. The letter said she has been relieved from the district training programme of the state government of Maharashtra and has been asked to join the academy by July 23 under any circumstances.

Khedkar had made it to the headlines for her alleged demands of a separate office and official car, besides using a beacon on her private luxury car without official sanction.

Earlier this month, a report regarding Khedkar and her father’s objectionable behaviour was sent by Pune District Collector Suhas Diwase to the state government.

Reports said Khedkar completed her MBBS and then appeared for the UPSC exams several times. According to her, she joined the IRS in 2019. In a later interview she said she could not join the IRS since there were some technical problems in the OBC allocation of her seat.

Thereafter, in November 2021, she applied and got appointed as the assistant director in the Sports Authority of India. She then appeared for the Civil Services Examination in 2021 and cleared the preliminary exam, the main examination, and the interview, securing the 821st rank.

However, she failed to present herself for a medical test to confirm disability claims of blindness and mental illness due to which she was getting benefits under the category of Persons with Benchmark Disabilities. Consequently, this persisted as a legal battle in Central Administrative Tribunal against UPSC.

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Supreme Court issues notice to CBI, ED on Manish Sisodia bail plea

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Manish Sisodia

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the bail pleas moved by former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

The Supreme Court’s decided to issue notice to the two agencies after arguments on Sisodia’s petitions for bail in two cases relating to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy. The court granted two weeks to the agencies to file their views.

“Views of agencies have to be heard before any decision is taken,” said Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, pointing at the seriousness of the charges slapped on Sisodia. The former Delhi Deputy CM has been under judicial remand since February 2023 over corruption and money laundering charges.

According to Sisodia’s counsel, the charges against him are politically motivated and lack enough evidence. The counsel had sought bail on medical grounds, to which the CBI or ED objected, saying his release might hamper the ongoing investigation into the case by influencing the witnesses or tampering with evidence.

According to the CBI and ED, Sisodia’s involvement in the liquor policy scheme was responsible for substantial state revenue loss and worked in favor of private liquor vendors.

Manish Sisodia, known for his transformational work in the field of education under the Delhi government, is not the only Aam Aadmi Party leader in jail. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Satyendar Jain are also behind bars. While Kejriwal is jailed in connection with the liquor policy case, Jain is in prison for corruption charges.

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