Tuesday October 16, 2018
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Protests rock Gujarat as Hardik Patel arrested, bailed out

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source: economic times
source: economic times

Surat (Gujarat): Gujarat was rocked by protests in many of its cities and towns, leading to police caning and using tear gas on crowds opposing the detention and subsequent arrest of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel, here, on Saturday. He was later released on bail.

Hardik Patel, along with another 35 PAAS city conveners, were detained and placed under arrest under Indian Penal Code section 188, for flouting government orders and taking out a rally.

Late on Saturday night, they were produced before a magistrate and released on bail shortly before midnight.

Earlier, the day was marked with protests, road blocks, highway blockage with thousands of women supporters and youth taking to the streets in Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Navsari, Mehsana, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Botad and other towns and villages.

In Surat and Ahmedabad, mobs pelted stones and damaged some public buses, a police van and other vehicles, compelling the. security forces to fire at least four tear gas shells to disperse the crowds

Crowds of villagers in Botad were caned when they attempted to block the state and national highways passing through the district.

Police have deployed heavy security in all major cities and towns and attempted to prevent any gathering of people with prohibitory orders.

As a precautionary measure, the Gujarat authorities have suspended 2G and 3G mobile internet services in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot, for periods ranging from 24 hours — till Sunday afternoon — to one week, subject to improvement in the situation.

source: anandiben patel
source: anandiben patel

Chief Minister Anandiben Patel was closeted in a meeting with cabinet colleagues and top officials to take stock of the situation and appealed to the people to maintain peace.

The day’s developments came after the preventive detention of Hardik Patel, 22, and around 50 supporters when they attempted to launch an ‘Ekta Rally’ in Surat in the morning.

The rally, which police declared as “unauthorised”, was to press for the caste-based reservations for the Patel community spearheaded by PAAS.

While Hardik Patel and some 20 others were detained at Mangad Chowk, another supporting group led by Nikhil Patel and others was detained in Hirabagh locality.

Shortly after the detentions, Hardik Patel accused police of harassing the Patidars even though they wanted to take out a peaceful rally. He also alleged that the Gujarat government was “harassing everybody”.

“The Gujarat government is provoking violence. Though ours is a peaceful agitation, we request the people of the state for support. We are not against any community, but just fighting to get reservations for our community,” Hardik Patel said earlier in the day.

PAAS termed the detentions “illegal and bulldozing of democracy by the Gujarat government” which was acting at the Centre’s behest.

An opposing group, the OBC Ekta Manch, threatened to take out a ‘Pratikar Rally’ protesting against the reservations sought by the Patidars.

However, the city administration refused permission to the OBC Ekta Manch to hold its rally, apprehending a potential law and order situation.

 

(With inputs from IANS)

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Come April, government will be more comfortable in Rajya Sabha

Of the 100 BJP-allies MPs, 24 are retiring. Which means, the government will be left with 76 MPs

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Parliament of India is a source of interest for many people because of various reasons. Wikimedia Commons
Parliament of India is a source of interest for many people because of various reasons. Wikimedia Commons
  • In April, the opposition may lose its edge over BJP in Rajya Sabha
  • NDA led by Modi has faced many embarrassments in Rajya Sabha in past few years
  • This is expected to change soon

Come April, the opposition in the Rajya Sabha may lose its edge in the numbers game and the power to stall any government bill, as the ruling BJP-led NDA coalition is set to catch up with its rivals, though a clear majority will elude them for a while more.

BJP to soon get more comfortable in  Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia commons
BJP to soon get more comfortable in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons

As 58 MPs, including three Nominated and one Independent, are set to retire in April, the Rajya Sabha math is going to change. It is set to favour the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the trend may continue in the elections to the Upper House later too with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having solid majorities in a number of state assemblies, especially the ones it won after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

With this, while the Congress-led opposition’s numbers will come down to around 115 from the present 123, the numbers of the BJP, its allies and sympathisers together would climb to around 109 from the present 100-odd members.

And the gap, once wide enough to let the opposition invariably have its say, will keep narrowing further in the coming months.

Of the 55 retiring members (excluding those Nominated), 30 belong to the opposition camp while 24 belong to the BJP and allies. Of them, a large number of NDA candidates are set to return while the opposition will lose a chunk of its members.

As things stand now, the Congress-led opposition has 123 MPs (including 54 of the Congress) in a house of 233 elected members (apart from 12 Nominated), while the NDA has 83 members (including 58 of BJP) plus four Independents who support the BJP (these include MPs Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Subhash Chandra, Sanjay Dattatraya Kakade and Amar Singh).

Rajya Sabha or the Upper House can often be a game changer while passing of the bills is in process.
Rajya Sabha or the Upper House can often be a game changer while passing of the bills is in process.

Also, for all practical purposes, the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), that has 13 members in the Rajya Sabha, is also with the NDA. This means the NDA’s effective strength in the upper house of Parliament is 100.

The gap was wider till just a few months ago. This meant that during any battle between the government and the opposition in the Upper House over bills and major issues, it was the opposition that invariably had its way. The recent example was the triple talaq legislation that the opposition stalled in the upper house, demanding that it be referred to a Select Committee.

For over less than four years, the Narendra Modi government had faced quite a few embarrassments in the Rajya Sabha thanks to the majority of the opposition, forcing it often to take the money bill route to avoid a clash in the house. Under the Constitution, a money bill needs to be passed only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cannot stall it.

Also Read: For Modi, Road To 2019 Will Be Steeper

However, after April, the NDA will be in a far better position.

Of the 100 BJP-allies MPs, 24 are retiring. Which means, the government will be left with 76 MPs (including AIADMK). But at least 30 from the NDA are set to get re-elected. So the number will rise to 106. Add three members that the government would nominate to the upper house and the final NDA tally will roughly be 109 MPs.

Further, there are fence-sitters such as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the YSR Congress, which are not virulently against the BJP and would not oppose the government unless for very compelling reasons.

Now, for the Congress and the rest of the opposition, they are set to lose 30 MPs (including one Independent, A.V. Swamy) through retirement and would be left with around 93 members. The Opposition may win roughly 22 seats, which means that its final tally after April is likely to be around 115 members.

Government can now expect some smooth sailing in the Rajya Sabha, coming this April.
Government can now expect some smooth sailing in the Rajya Sabha, coming this April.

The gap has clearly narrowed and the government may not be at the mercy of the opposition during crucial votes and can have its way in the Rajya Sabha if it musters its numbers by deftly wooing “floater” MPs.

The three newly-elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members may remain equidistant from both the BJP and the Congress, though the party is friendly with some of the major opposition parties like the Trinamool Congress.

Also Read: BJP MP Seeks Amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill

In an interesting development recently, the AAP actively participated in the opposition’s walkout and the day-long boycott of the Rajya Sabha over long intra-day adjournments of the Upper House by Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu.

The AAP, which was not welcome at any opposition meetings earlier, particularly those held in Parliament House, was invited to speak at a joint opposition media interaction on the day. But nobody can be sure as to how long this bonding would last.

Partywise tally of those retiring in April-May from the opposition’s side include 13 from the Congress, six from the Samajwadi Party, three of the Trinamool Congress, two each of the Nationalist Congress Party and Biju Janata Dal and one each of the CPI-M, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

NDA has to face many embarrassments in past few years in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons
NDA has to face many embarrassments in past few years in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons

From the ruling side, 17 MPs of the BJP, three of the Janata Dal United, one of the Shiv Sena and two of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are retiring.

In terms of state-wise vacancies to be created in April, the highest number is from Uttar Prdaesh (9), followed by Maharashtra (6), Madhya Pradesh (5), Bihar (5), Gujarat (4), Karnataka (4), West Bengal (4), Rajasthan (3), Odisha (3), Andhra Pradesh (3), Telangana (2), Uttarakhand (1), Himachal Pradesh (1) and Chhattisgarh (1). IANS