Today in Politics: Stumped by special session, Sanatan row, INDIA hopes bypolls its lucky break – The Indian Express

Seven Assembly seats, seven bypolls, six states. Tuesday is being seen as the first big test of the resilience of the tenuous INDIA formulation against the pulls and pressures of ground-level politics.

The story has not packed any surprises so far, with INDIA constituents putting up a united front behind the dominant Samajwadi Party in Ghosi, Uttar Pradesh, behind the leading JMM in Jharkhand’s Dumri, behind the stronger CPI(M) in Dhanpur and Boxanagar in Tripura, and behind the preeminent Congress in Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar. However, in West Bengal and Kerala (or Dhupguri and Puthappally seats, respectively) INDIA partners are rallied against each other.

INDIA leaders must be hoping that the result day on September 8 holds no surprise either, in terms of their calculations.

Still, the Congress might be a bit bitter about how the CPI(M) is making it sweat in Puthuppally. While no one expects the two INDIA partners to be chummy in Kerala, given their bitter rivalry in the state, the seat is special. For 53 years, it was held by the much-liked Congress veteran Oommen Chandy, till his demise recently. However, the CPI(M) is taking no prisoners in the battle for Puthuppally, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself leading the way, forcing the Congress to roll out its big guns too.

Now, in an interesting development on the eve of Tuesday’s bypoll, a Kerala government lawyer advised the police to drop further investigation in the case lodged against members of the influential Nair Service Society (NSS) for their protest against Speaker A N Shamseer’s alleged remarks about a Hindu deity. In his advice, the lawyer held that “the very foundation of the case itself was doubtful”.

The Congress and BJP had used the case to target the CPI(M) during campaigning in Nair-dominated areas in Puthuppally.

Remarks linked to Sanatan Dharma, meanwhile, also continue to roil politics, with the BJP’s relentless attacks forcing INDIA parties to take a stand. It’s not clear if the ballooning Sanatan Dharma row had something to do with it, but a Swaminarayan sect on Monday announced that it would remove controversial wall murals installed on the pedestal of a Lord Hanuman statue at a temple in Salangpur town of Gujarat’s Botad district by Tuesday morning.

‘Sanatan Dharma’ leaders have been demanding the removal of these murals, threatening a boycott of the Swaminarayan sect if this was not done. On Monday evening, the VHP held a meeting, attended by various Hindu seers and key leaders of the sect. Swaminarayan sect representatives also met Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel.

After the meeting, Swami Parmatmananda Saraswati of the Shivananda Ashram said the murals would be removed before sunrise on Tuesday. He also told reporters: “To resolve all other issues, a meeting between the saints of Sanatan Hindu Dharma and of various Swaminarayan sects will be held.”

The Sanatan Dharma is pressing its advantage in, and so far is on course for a meeting of saints from all over the country in Limbdi town of Surendranagar Tuesday “to discuss the road ahead”. In a statement, the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha stated that Swaminarayan too was a part of Sanatan Dharma.

Taken by surprise by the Centre’s call for a special session of Parliament, the Congress is preparing to go in all guns blazing. On Tuesday, MPs of the INDIA bloc will be meeting at Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence in Delhi for talks. Before that, the Congress parliamentary strategy group will hold a meeting. “We will discuss our strategy for the Parliament session,” Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal said Monday.

Asked about one nation-one election plans, he said: “Whenever this type of thing comes up for a discussion, we will chalk out our ideas, talk about our future plans. Not only among ourselves, we will discuss with other partners of the INDIA alliance.”

Having sent the Opposition into a tizzy in Delhi, the BJP is continuing with its planned programmes. And so Amit Shah will flag off the party’s Jan Ashirwad Yatras from Sheopur and Gwalior in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh Tuesday. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, several ministers and party leaders will attend the two programmes.

The BJP has planned four such yatras to cover the length and breadth of MP, and while J P Nadda did the launch honours at Chitrakoot Sunday, Rajnath Singh flagged off the yatra from Neemuch Monday. On Wednesday, it will be the turn of Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari to flag off a leg from Khandwa.

The yatras will culminate on September 5, the birth anniversary of BJP stalwart Deen Dayal Upadhyay, with an address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In Rajasthan, Gadkari will launch the fourth leg of a similar Yatra from Gogamedi, Hanumangarh, Tuesday.

The Supreme Court has set Tuesday as the last day for the final submissions to be heard in the petitions before it over the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. On Monday, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud heard pleas challenging the nullification of provisions of Article 370 for the 15th day.

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The lead petitioner in the case, National Conference Leader Mohd Akbar Lone is also expected to file an affidavit on Tuesday swearing allegiance to the Constitution and accepting the country’s sovereignty unconditionally.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked him to file the affidavit after objections were raised regarding the ‘Pakistan zindabad’ slogan he allegedly raised during a heated debate in the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly in 2018.

Watch Out For: From the Urdu Press, on the best of the news and opinion carried by Urdu dailies in the past week.

– with PTI inputs

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