BJP drops Varun from list of party campaigners
In an apparent bid to keep itself away from further controversy arising out of the anti-Muslim remarks of Varun Gandhi, the BJP has dropped him from the official list of party campaigners for the Lok Sabha polls.
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Gandhi was originally among the list of 40 party leaders which the BJP had decided to submit to the Election Commission a day after the first notification for the polls come out on 23 March.
“The official list of campaigners will be of official speakers of the party. The move (of removing Varun Gandhi’s name) is an effort towards not having any further controversies while we need to concentrate on the polls,” a top party leader, in charge of the campaign, said.
The recent change in rules introduced by the Election Commission makes the party responsible along with the leader for any violation of the model code of conduct, the leader said.
Gandhi’s name also does not figure in the list of leaders for whom the party today demanded extra security cover during their campaign.
BSP releases candidate list for Uttar Pradesh
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Friday released the list of party candidates for all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh and announced that she would launch her nationwide campaign from Kerala Saturday.
“Tomorrow, I will kick-start the BSP national campaign from Kerala with a rally in Thiruvananthapuram,” she told a press conference.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister also released the party’s Special Appeal to the electorate in Uttar Pradesh.
“In the Special Appeal, I have raised certain issues and I will urge them to vote for BSP based on those issues,” she said.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister said she would be campaigning across the country non-stop from tomorrow till 11 May, but would take care of her official duties.
“I will always return to the state after campaigning. I will not neglect the Uttar Pradesh government,” she said.
Mayawati said the government will also ensure that the model code of conduct was adhered to by all parties in Uttar Pradesh. “Unlike the earlier state governments, we would not allow any unwanted elements to capture booths or disrupt elections”.
“We will ensure that people of all religions, castes, and community are allowed to vote,” she said.
Prime Minister fine and will campaign
Recuperating steadily after undergoing bypass surgery, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said he was fit to take part in the election campaigning.
“I am alright. Of course, I will campaign,” Singh said in his first interaction with media on the sidelines of the defence investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
This was also the Prime Minister’s first public appearance since his heart surgery on 24 January .
Singh, along with his wife Gursharan Kaur, sat through the 75-minute function in which defence personnel and others were honoured for showing exceptional gallantry in fighting terror and facing other challenges.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, United Progresssive Aalliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, leader of opposition L.K. Advani, defence minister A.K. Antony and a host of other dignitaries were present.
Resuming his normal activities, the Prime Minister had on Thursday chaired a meeting of the Union Cabinet for the first time after the surgery.
Varun moves Allahabad high court challenging FIR
Embattled Bharatiya Janata Party leader Varun Gandhi, against whom a criminal case was filed over his alleged anti-Muslim speeches, on Friday knocked the dooors of two separate high courts seeking quashment of charges against him and prevent his possible arrest even as he appeared headed for more trouble for allegedly distributing money in Pilibhit.
Varun moved the Allahabad high court with a petition seeking quashing of the FIR filed on 17 March at Barkheda Police Station in Piliphit under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) of Indian Penal Code and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act.
Varun alleged in his petition that the FIR, which was lodged nine days after he had made the speeches, was “a part of a political conspiracy to spoil” his political career and “tarnish” his “secular image”.
He has also alleged the video footage of a public meeting, on the basis of which the Election Commission has taken the action against him, “has been tampered with” and did not contain his voice.
Parallelly, Varun approached the Delhi high court seeking anticipatory bail with his counsel telling a bench headed by Chief Justice A.P. Shah that there was apprehension of his arrest since the provision for anticipatory bail was not available in Uttar Pradesh.
Sangma meets Advani, Karat
Unhappy over the imposition of Central rule in Meghalaya, senior Nationalist Congress Party leader P.A. Sangma on Friday held discussions on the issue with opposition leader in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani and CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat.
The senior NCP leader met Advani and held talks with him on the imposition of President’s rule in Meghalaya.
Sangma drove to AKG Bhavan, the CPI(M) headquarters, where he apprised Karat about the situation in Meghalaya.
The meeting lasted about 20 minutes.