States Diary

Under Lalu’s Pressure, JDU Backs Out of UP Polls?

Senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi claimed that the Janata Dal (United) decided not to contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections apparently under pressure from the RJD. Modi said JD(U)’s decision to withdraw from the electoral battleground in Uttar Pradesh was also reflective of the fact that the party had no mass base in the neighbouring state.

“The JD(U) beat a hasty retreat from its earlier decision to contest the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, apparently after the RJD supremo (Lalu Prasad) threatened to review his party’s role in the ruling grand alliance,” he said in a statement. “JD-U will not contest in Uttar Pradesh to ensure the defeat of communal forces by minimising the chances of split in secular votes,” party national spokesperson KC Tyagi had told the media in Patna on January 25.

Mamata Wants Total Control in Conversion of Agro Land

The Mamata government in West Bengal is considering centralising conversion of agricultural land into other purposes from the state secretariat, instead of district or block levels.

Agriculture Minister Purnendu Bose informed, “The state cabinet during its meeting today discussed that the control over conversion of agriculture land into other purposes should remain in the hands of the government’s top level to avoid interference of land mafias, manipulation in conversion process or any other controversy.” The issue of land use conversion figured in today’s cabinet meeting, which came on the heels of the clash in Bhangor area in the southern fringes of the city where two villagers died while protesting the construction of a Power Grid sub-station. If conversion of land has to be centralised from the state secretariat, the existing Land Act needs to be amended by the state Assembly.

Hardik Patel Resumes Quota Stir With ‘Chowk Pe Charcha’

Leader of Patidar reservation stir Hardik Patel on January 27th gave a fresh start to his agitation in Gujarat from Patan town. Hardik took out a rally, before holding “Chowk Pe Charcha” at various places in Patan. After fulfilling his bail condition of staying away from Gujarat for six months, Hardik returned on January 17 and addressed a gathering in Sabarkantha district. After January 17, this was his first major public appearance.

Media convener of PAAS Varun Patel said, “Today, we held a rally in Patan under the leadership of Hardik during which thousands of people joined us. Our focus is reservation for Patidar community. And, we held meetings with leaders of other communities in Patan and convinced them of our demand.” The Patidar leader has been demanding OBC status for Patidars in state’s jobs and educational institutions.

Padma Vibhushan Sharad Pawar Hints To Support BJP Govt in Maharashtra

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said his party is open to discussions with the BJP if the Shiv Sena withdraws its support to the state government following Uddhav Thackeray’s announcement to dump the 25-year-old saffron alliance for the February Civic Polls in Maharashtra.

When asked if the NCP will support the Devendra Fadnavis government if the Sena decides to withdraw, Pawar, who was speaking to reporters in Pune said, “I don’t answer hypothetical questions. Let them take a call and come for discussions. We will take a call.” He said he was ‘pained’ with Thackeray’s announcement that his party was parting ways with the BJP. He refused to answer questions on any possible NCP-BJP tie-up in the state. NCP has 41 MLAs which is enough to save BJP government, which has 122 MLAs in Maharashtra Assembly.

Delhi Government Comfortable With New LG, Says Sisodiya

In contrast to the uneasy ties it had with former Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, Deputy CM Manish Sisodiya has said that the Delhi government is comfortable with the new LG Anil Baijal, who took charge on December 31st. Sisodia said Baijal had worked in several government departments in Delhi and knew the problems faced by the national capital.

“I have met him many times and we feel comfortable with him,” said Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio and is a confidant of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. “We (Delhi government and Baijal) have been discussing issues. Many files that had been held up (by Jung) are being cleared… He is a positive man.” Sisodia’s praise of the new Lt Governor marks a major departure from the way AAP government in Delhi and Jung used to fight over issues of governance.

Meghalaya Governor Resigns on Sexual Harassment Charges

Facing sexual harassment charges, Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan on January 26th night resigned after a section of Raj Bhavan employees demanded his removal for “seriously compromising” the dignity of the gubernatorial office. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said earlier in the day that he was waiting for PM Narendra Modi and the Home Ministry to take a call.

Nearly 100 Raj Bhavan staff here petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking their intervention to remove the Governor and restore the dignity of Raj Bhavan. They alleged that Shanmuganathan had “seriously compromised the dignity of the Raj Bhavan and made it a ‘young ladies club’. Women activists had begun a signature campaign, spearheaded by women-led Civil Society Women Organisation (CSWO) and Thma u Rangli (TUR), seeking Shanmuganathan’s removal.