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Straight fight between Congress and BJP, AAP stands no chance: Uttarakhand Congress campaign committee chairman Harish Rawat

The APN News team has talked to the Uttarakhand Congress campaign committee chairman Harish Rawat on various issues related to their party campaign, strategay, CM face and possibility of winning the state which is schedule to vote February 14.

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Harish Rawat

By Vikram Kilpady and Sanjay Raman Sinha

Uttarakhand will vote on February 14 in a single phase. APN News caught up with Congress campaign committee chairman Harish Rawat, a former chief minister and former union minister, on the day the party put out its list of candidates.

Question: How ready is the Congress for elections in the state?

Answer: The party will put out a list of chosen candidates shortly, we have chosen people and all preparations are on.

Question: What are the issues for the this time?

Answer: Development (vikas) is a big issue, it is lying dead. The slogan of double engine growth et al has failed miserably. People have been left to die during the coronavirus pandemic, there is no medicine, no beds or oxygen. The Kumbh testing scam has become a matter of international shame. Now people say the Kumbh is the biggest superspreader. I am extremely sad to hear it. The failure on all fronts lies with the state government.

It is sad that Uttarakhand tops the country on unemployment statistics. There are 28,000 vacant posts in government. When I was in government, I created 32,000 jobs, they haven’t done even 3,200 jobs.

Apart from unemployment, the rise in prices of commodities are hurting people. The LPG cylinder has gone beyond Rs 1000, petrol is expensive touching Rs 100, cooking oil price has gone skyhigh. Where is the money going? Ambani and Adani are getting rich while the poor are worse off. Poverty has risen along with the increase in prices.

The BJP has created political instability in the state. In Congress time, we had three chief ministers, the BJP has seen eight CMs. Both parties have had similar terms in power. This kind of instability has hit development and the aspirations of the people of the state.

Question: What is the essence of Uttarakhandiyat that you have used in the campaign this time?

Answer: Mandua (hill crops including millet), ganna (sugarcane) and shilp (crafts) are intrinsic to Uttarakhand’s syncretic culture. There is an element of modern farming against ancient subsistence on hill crops and crafts. The essence of Uttarakhandiyat is that these three need to be developed for people to grow in consonance with the state’s ethos.

How will you combat migration and exodus from the state?

Migration has been on for the last 25-30 years. The Congress has invested in education so that people migrate with education and not as helpless labourers flocking the cities for low-paid work. The exodus of recent times is due to lack of jobs and due to poverty. We will ensure people have economic alternatives to stay on in the state like millet and grain production.

Will the Congress follow one ticket for one family stance?

In politics, family has become important now unlike earlier when politics was based on principle and ideology. People in the family help you stay focused on minute issues. Yes, party workers also need to be recognised for their work. The party keeps a fine balance to meet aspirations of all groups of people.

Will the Congress welcome late CDS Gen Bipin Rawat’s daughter into the party? Gen Rawat’s brother has got a BJP ticket.

We will welcome Gen Rawat’s daughter. I am devastated by the decision of the late General’s brother to join the BJP. Gen Rawat is a well-respected name in Uttarakhand. His father Lachchu Singh Rawat was a Congress minded person. He’s intrinsic to the ethos of Uttarakhand but joining the BJP despoils that legacy.

Your son and daughter are also looking for tickets this time?

My son and daughter have worked hard in places where only the BJP has won. They have done well. The decision is for the party to take, we will abide.

How does the return of Harak Singh Rawat impact the party and you? We’ve heard he is pushing for getting tickets allotted for his camp?

There is room in the party for constructive leadership and thought. Hope Harak Singh Rawat, who is like a younger brother to me, has seen things evolve over time. Ambition is not a bad thing in politics but it needs managing and packaging for when it can be fully channelised. He has not been pushing hard.

Are you the Congress’s Uttarakhand CM face?

The party leadership will decide these things and I will welcome the decision whatever it is. Even if opposition leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi are attacking me as the lone Congress target, I am thankful. Leading the campaign itself has been an award of sorts for me.

A few weeks ago you seemed to be disappointed with things and tweeted about your unhappiness with the way things are.

We learn a lot from experience. I can say there is no bad blood. I did think I should retire but am not looking for options outside the Congress. I’m a Nehru Gandhi family loyalist and will remain one till I die. Instead of speaking internally, I chose to tweet it as a senior party worker so that the party can evaluate the situation and it was my duty to do so.

What went wrong in Punjab? There was talk of a revolt by MLAs.

The party had given Captain Amarinder Singh a lot of room to fix things. After the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib things became acute, the MLAs were on the verge of a revolt. Captain came twice, met the leadership, spoke and left for Punjab assuring of fixing things. Nothing happened. Over 40 MLAs said they can’t head into election year with him in charge. We called a CLP meeting. Instead of attending the CLP meet or finding out the reasons for the MLAs’ unhappiness, he chose to meet the Governor and submit his resignation. The Congress put its weight and faith in him but under whose and what influence, he chose to do what he did is visible now.

What do you make of the Aam Aadmi Party’s foray into Uttarakhand?

There is no room for AAP in Uttarakhand. The straight fight is between the BJP and the Congress. They may cut votes here and there. With such strong anti-incumbency against the BJP, the Congress will be the option people turn to.

What if you need AAP in a post-poll scenario to keep the BJP out?

We will win, Congress will keep the BJP out. AAP has to work hard (kayi saari pappad belne padenge). The differences and the milieu of Uttarakhand has to be internalised and understood by AAP and that will take time. Whatever it is, Delhi is a large municipality. You set out in the morning from one end, you can get home by the end of the day. Uttarakhand is a different beast. There are some districts where from one end to another will take a week or more given the uneven terrain. I have taken days to tour districts when I was a Lok Sabha MP.

What about the eternal Congress bugbear, factionalism?

I am lucky to be in a party which has so many talented people who have the interest of the people at heart. They will have their influence and following. But calling that factionalism is highly unfair. People who have influence want justice done to their aspirations and what they bring to the table.

The BJP has launched a powerful campaign on what it has done like the Kedarnath project etc and all-weather roads. What do you say to that?

It is wrong of the BJP to claim credit for all-weather roads. My government sent the proposal to make all-weather roads. Not BJP, it is a sin to claim false credit. Similarly, the Rishikesh-Karn Prayag railine which the BJP is tom-tomming was already a part of the Manmohan Singh government’s projects and budgeted for. The same with Tanakpur-Bageshwar line. Sonia Gandhi couldn’t come, so then Defence Minister A.K. Antony inaugurated it. Work began under the UPA but BJP came to power after that.

Another fact which is not well-known is about Mangalyaan. Manmohan Singh didn’t go ahead with its launch though it was up and ready. He took a principled stand that it should be launched after the elections. But PM Modi took credit for it. Same with the Banihal tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir and the longest-span bridge in Assam. All are Congress projects. So if the BJP is claiming credit for all this, the claim is as true as the one where it was said everyone will get Rs 15 lakh.

What do you think about the Haridwar hate speech incident?

Haridwar is a centre of faith, people take a dip in the cold Ganga there. The gods rained immortal nectar (amrit) here because of that. But why should such a centre of religion be used to make statements threatening to shoot Manmohan Singh, Gandhiji and threaten genocide of Muslims in a dharam sansad. The state government failed to take cognisance of the hate speech. Everyone including Akhara Parishad leaders have said such hate speech is wrong. Haridwar is a brand and shouldn’t be harmed like this.

What is the Congress agenda for Uttarakhand?

Health and welfare matters demand urgency. We need people to get their due pensions and employment has to be generated keeping in mind the requirements of development. We have campaigned hard this time with slogans like vote Congress to power at the Centre and the state to bring cooking gas prices below Rs 500. We have also promised gas subsidy.

Would the decision to douse the Amar Jawan Jyoti and merge it with the flame of the National War Memorial be a valid poll issue this time?

Eminently sad decision by the BJP government. It has been done without consultation and not taking veterans on board. It is about martyrs and we have to respect that. But what has happened is shocking.

India News

Viral: Residents of Omaxe society face UP government’s bulldozer justice, resident asks have fundamental rights of people vanished | Watch

The probe by the Noida authority was influenced by Shrikant Tyagi’s wife, who alleged that only her family was subjected to actions in the encroachment issue, whereas, other residents who had done the same are not subjected to the same punishment.

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bulldozer

A video from UP’s Noida has been making rounds on the internet where residents of the Grand Omaxe society in UP can be seen blasting the bulldozer culture started by UP CM Yogi Adityanath. In the video, the resident can be seen saying that the alleged encroachment done by is false and asked the Media to come along with him, he further can be heard saying that these people will get exposed.

The media in reply can be heard that they are not being allowed to see the alleged encroached area of the resident, to which the resident can be seen losing his cool and blasting the government officials asking the media if the fundamental rights of people have vanished. The resident further asked when did India turn into the Republic of China. He further added and asked are Iran? has Uttar Pradesh turned into Iran?

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The Omaxe Society of UP’s Noida recently came into the limelight when a video went viral where Politician Shrikant Tyagi had an altercation with another resident. Subsequently, after the video went viral, Tyagi was arrested for abusing and pushing a woman on camera.

After his arrest, the Noida authorities rolled in with bulldozers to demolish the illegal structures constructed on the encroached land. The residents of the society had welcomed the decision taken by the authorities as many of them came in support of the bulldozer action taken by the government on Shrikanth Tyagi’s residence.

However, in a sudden turn of events, the residents of the Omaxe society, who were celebrating the bulldozer action, became victims of it themselves as the municipal corporation of Noida rolled into the society to demolish any illegal construction done to it.

The probe by the Noida authority was influenced by Shrikant Tyagi’s wife, who alleged that only her family was subjected to actions in the encroachment issue, whereas, other residents who had done the same are not subjected to the same punishment.

The residents of the Omaxe society were given a 48-hour notice, however, some reports claim that some residents were not given any notice and this action by the authorities came as a surprise to them. The residents of the society can be seen protesting outside the gate of their society, imploring the authorities to not carry out these actions.

Despite incessant impeding and imploring by the residents, the authorities carried out demolition on the encroached land of the residents.

The Supreme court of India recently cautioned and instructed the UP to strictly adhere to due process before carrying out the removal of unauthorized structures.

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8 men repeatedly raped and filmed 17-year-old Rajasthan girl, blackmailed her for Rs. 50,000

After being told that an FIR has been filed against he four men, 17 year old Rajasthan girl then detailed the sequence of events to her family.

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Rape Victim

A shocking incident came into light from Rajasthan’s Jaipur, when a 17-year-old girl was repeatedly gang raped by 8 men Bhiwadi. The incident took place in December last year when the accused forced the victim to ₹50,000 for the video of the sexual assault.

The torment didn’t stop there, the 17 years old was asked to pay Rs. 2.5 lakhs and when she failed to do so, the accused released the video clip where the 4 men were forcefully having sexual intercourse with the girl.

On Thursday the father of the 17 year old filed a Police complaint after the video circulated for some time and reached him. However, the girl didn’t say a word about the sexual assault or the blackmail.

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But after being told that an FIR has been filed against he four men, 17 year old Rajasthan girl then detailed the sequence of events to her family.

The father said in his complaint that his daughter was raped by 8 young men last year in December. The accused belong to from Bhiwadi, not far from where he lived. The eight men first raped and filmed the assault and later blackmailed her for money.

This January, the girl was gang raped again and was later forced to pay ₹50,000 to keep the video a secret by the same accused 8 men. Police said the men later demanded more money. When she could not pay the ₹2.5 lakh that they demanded, they released the video on social media. Girl’s medical examination has been conducted.

And seems like the state of Rajasthan is doing nothing about the fact the maximum numbers of rape in India happen in their state. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Rajasthan recorded 6,337 rape cases in 2021, the highest in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

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Varanasi lecturer removed for his FB post asking women to read Indian Constitution rather than fasting for 9 days

Several students from Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith filed complaints against the guest lecturer and his FB post being a anti-Hindu message.

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Varanasi university

A shocking incident took place in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi when a guest lecturer from Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith (MGKV) was dismissed over his Facebook post. Dr. Mithilesh Kumar Gautam’s entry was restricted in to the college campus after he suggested women to read the Indian Constitution rather than fasting for 9 days during Navratri.

Dr. Gautam took to his Facebook handle and posted a status writing that instead of fasting or 9 days in Navratri, Hindu women should rather read Indian Constitution and Hindu Code Bill these 9 days so as to avoid the slavery and crimes that they face.

This FB post gathered a lot of attention on social media followed by several students of the same college filling complaint against the guest lecturer about it being an anti-Hindu message. And the incident ended by MGKV removing the guest lecturer “with immediate effect” due to the resentment caused among students and the environment of the varsity being affected.

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The guest lecturer Dr. Mithilesh Kumar Gautam received lot of back lash on social media as well. People called it a rather regressive post and called out the man for not understanding the real essence of Navratri and the importance of it. But the lecturer also got support from some social media users that the man is entitled for his opinion and no organization can close doors on the basis of personal opinion.

Four days ago, another shocking incident from Varanasi had taken over the headlines, when a a French woman who was in India on her tour, found herself naked in bed after her drink was spiked by a man who posed as a local guide in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi.

Reports say the woman tourist from France suffered serious stomach illness after her drink was spiked by a man before she was leaving for her home. Following the incident, the woman filed an FIR under Section 328 (causing hurt by means of poison with intent to commit an offence) of the Indian Penal Code with the Bhelupur police.

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