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Cancelling PM rallies sent negative message: Shatrughan Sinha

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Patna: Bollywood actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha on Saturday said the last-minute cancellation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies for ongoing campaigning in Bihar assembly polls sent a negative message among the people.

“A situation that led our star campaigner PM to cancel his Bihar rallies at the last
minute — sending a negative message,” Sinha, the BJP’s parliamentarian from Patna Saheb, tweeted on Saturday.

Referring to cancellation of Modi’s rallies on October 16, Modi was scheduled to address two rallies in Hajipur in Vaishali district and Buxar district.

According to BJP leaders, Modi’s another visit on October 20 to address rallies was also cancelled.

“Though some local dictatorial leaders in Bihar are solely responsible for creating themes and undesirable situation in Bihar. Hope, wish and pray that despite some teething troubles and electoral problems, we do as well as we expected in the Bihar elections,” Sinha tweeted.

On Friday, Sinha embarrassed the BJP by expressing concern over the spiralling price of pulses and asked the Narendra Modi government to take urgent steps to check it.

Sinha also said the unprecedented rise in the prices of pulses had happened soon after the onion process brought tears in the eyes of people.

Interestingly, Sinha was one of the BJP’s 40 star campaigners, but missing from the hectic campaigning unleashed by his party for the Bihar assembly elections.

He has so far not addressed even a single rally in poll-bound Bihar, giving credence to speculations that he is unhappy with the BJP’s top leadership for sidelining him for over a year.

In fact, the Bollywood veteran star was not even invited to a BJP rally in Patna in April, or for that matter to the Modi rally in Muzaffarpur at which the party campaign was kicked off in July.

Old timers, who closely monitored political developments in Bihar in the past three decades, pointed out that Sinha has been known for his free and frank talk that sometimes embarrasses his party. Sometimes, he goes against the official party line.

Buzz in political circles here is that the BJP would act against a defiant Sinha once the Bihar assembly polls are over.

BJP sources said Sinha’s repeated statements in support of Janata Dal-United leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his meetings with the latter did not go down well with the party brass.

Sinha even described Nitish Kumar as the country’s best chief minister and a guardian of Bihar. He also praised and met Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad.

“The BJP has taken all this seriously as our fight is against Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad ever since they joined hands. How can the party tolerate its own senior leader praising rivals in public?” asked a BJP leader.

Sinha also backed the BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Ara, R.K. Singh, who alleged that the party “sold tickets” to tainted and criminal candidates for the Bihar polls.

Time and again, Sinha has reminded party leaders that he joined the BJP in 1984 at the
height of his film career and when the party had only two members in the Lok Sabha.

Although Sinha has been maintaining that he is a loyal BJP worker, sources said, he may shift loyalty to Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United after the Bihar polls.

(IANS)

 

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Protesters Raise Voice Against Bushfire Crisis in Australia

Protests Erupt as Australia’s Bushfire Crisis Continues

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Protesters hold placards
Protesters hold placards during a climate change rally in Sydney, Australia. VOA

Climate change rallies have been held in Australia by thousands of protesters critical of the government’s handling of the bushfire crisis. A demonstration in Sydney has reportedly attracted 30,000 people, while events have also been held in other major cities.

“Sack the prime minister,” protesters chanted as they turned on Australia’s conservative leader, Scott Morrison. He is accused of not taking global warming seriously and of underplaying its role in the bushfire emergency. Protesters believe that “fossil fuel loving politicians” have overseen “decades of climate destruction.”

They want the Morrison government to phase out the use of fossil fuels. That is unlikely given their immense value to the Australian economy. Coal generates much of the nation’s electricity and earns billions of dollars through exports to China, India and other countries.

The prime minister has previously defended his energy and climate policies as adequate and responsible, but at least one protester in Sydney is demanding he give a more sensitive response to the bushfire emergency.

Protesters hold placards
Protesters raising their voices against the government not doing enough to stop bushfire crisis in Australia. VOA

“Humanely, with empathy. I think that is a huge thing,” the protester said. “I think the way Scott Morrison has handled this and his lack of empathy to the whole situation is embarrassing. I would like the firefighters to be funded more, I would like more schemes to be set up, and just money and to actually admit that climate change is real, like it is clearly happening and this is what we are doing about it. We are marching.”

Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews had urged the organizers of a rally in Melbourne to postpone the protest because it would put pressure on police resources during the bushfire crisis. But despite that plea, and heavy rain, hundreds of people turned out to join a nationwide chorus of anger and frustration.

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Dozens of fires continue to burn, mostly in southeastern Australia. Cooler conditions are forecast for the next week, which will help the firefighting effort. In New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, 147 bush and grass fires are burning. Sixty-five have yet to be contained.

Since September, at least 27 people have died in Australia’s bushfires. More than 10 million hectares (24 million acres) of land — an area bigger than Portugal — have been scorched. (VOA)