A statue of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was vandalised in Ludhiana on December 25 by some persons, who Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh claimed, owed allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal in the State.The Chief Minister has asked the police to take action in the matter and identify the perpetrators. Paint was sprayed by miscreants on the statue at the Salem Tabri area in Ludhiana, police said. They carried out the act in full public glare and blamed Rajiv Gandhi for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, they said.Condemning the incident, Capt. Singh tweeted, “Strongly condemn vandalisation of Rajiv Gandhi’s statue by @Akali_ Dal_ workers in Ludhiana. Have asked Police to identify the guilty & take strict action.” “@officeofssbadal should apologise to people of Punjab for this obnoxious act,” he posted on Twitter tagging the office of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal. Capt. Singh also asked the SAD to apologise to the people of Punjab for this act.Police said the miscreants demanded that statues of Rajiv Gandhi across the country be removed and Bharat Ratna conferred on him be withdrawn. The statue was later cleaned by some Ludhiana Congress leaders.Ludhiana Congress unit president Gurpreet Singh said they have lodged a police complaint.
The Madhya Pradesh police have solved all the three recent murders in the State in which the opposition BJP workers have some connection. These murders took place between January 17 and 23 in the Malwa region.In a major breakthrough in the murder of BJP Balwadi block president Manoj Thakre on January 20, the police have arrested seven persons. “Seven persons have been arrested in connection with the murder of Manoj Thakre. They include BJP State executive member Tarachand Rathor and his son,” Superintendent of Police Yangchen Dolkar Bhutia told reporters in Barwani district on Thursday. RSS worker heldIn another development, the Ratlam police on Thursday arrested a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker, Himmat Patidar, from Pratapgarh district in Rajasthan. He had faked his own murder on January 23 to claim insurance money totalling ₹20 lakh in order to repay debts.SP, Ratlam, Gaurav Tiwari said Patidar killed his farm labourer, Madan Malviya (32), to pass it off as his own murder. He later burnt the victim’s face to conceal his identity.In the case pertaining to the gunning down of Prahlad Bandhwar, senior BJP leader and chairman of Mandsaur municipality, on January 17, a BJP worker, Manish Bairagi, has been arrested.
Unlike other parts of the State, the saffron colour is conspicuous by its absence in Kalwan with flags and posters of only two political parties visible. The contest in Kalwan in Nashik district is not between Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combines. Instead, it is a fight between the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) and the NCP.In 2014, J.P. Gavit of the CPM won the Assembly elections beating a senior leader Arjun Pawar of the NCP by a slender margin of 4,700 votes. “The real fight here is between the CPM and the NCP. The Shiv Sena candidate is practically on the side of the NCP candidate,” Mr. Gavit said. After the demise of Arjun Pawar two years ago, the NCP has fielded his son Rohit for the upcoming elections. “In the last five years Mr. Gavit has been unable to address the issues of the region,” Rohit Pawar said. Mr. Gavit however has criticised the NCP for putting up a candidate against him despite an alliance with it in the State. “NCP as a party has been very devious. First they announce the alliance and then they field a candidate against me, a sitting MLA,” he said.On the ground, people feel that the election would be a close contest. “Each has their sphere of influence, while Mr. Pawar has a hold on Kalwan, Mr. Gavit has his base in Surgana. Mr. Pawar’s father’s goodwill will help him as well. But the margins will be very narrow,” said Devanang Chavan, who teaches in a college in Kalwan. Anil Gangurde, a daily wage farm labourer, said among the key issues is the daily wage rate which has dropped in recent months. “Earlier I used to get around ₹400 per day, now it is around ₹300,” he said.Mr. Chavan said that connectivity and roads were also major issues in the region as both Kalwan and Surgana talukas grapple with a lack of transport options. The constituency, with around 2.41 lakh votes, is reserved for scheduled tribes (ST) as the majority population living in both talukas belong to tribal communities. Mr. Gavit said a big fear among the residents was the State government’s plan to divert water from west flowing rivers to areas in the east like Marathwada. “If any Adivasi is affected due to this project, it will never see the light of day,” he said.