first_imgPANAJI: The by-election in the Panaji and Valpoi Assembly constituencies in Goa on Wednesday recorded nearly 75% voting. The ruling BJP and the Congress both expressed confidence that they would win the seats.In Panaji, the voter turnout was 70%, much lower than the 77.06% turnout recorded in the February 4 Assembly election. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had said all along that he was looking to win the election with a big margin, admitted that a lower turnout would reduce his winning margin. At a press conference at the BJP headquarters on Wednesday, Mr. Parrikar complained about the behaviour of Mahila Congress president Pratima Coutinho and others during the election process, and said the turnout had been poor in the rival party’s areas. He expressed confidence, however, of winning the bypoll with a good margin. “Voting percentage was low because the other side had no traction,” Mr. Parrikar said. He claimed that around 98% of the BJP’s voters had cast their votes in both constituencies.In Panaji, Mr. Parrikar was facing the Congress’s Girish Chodankar and Goa Suraksha Manch’s Anand Shirodkar. Election Commission officials attributed the comparatively low turnout in Panaji to the Ganesh festival, which will begin on Friday.Polling ended at 7 p.m., and according to the Chief Electoral Officer, the voting percentage in Valpoi was 79.80, as against the 86.29% turnout recorded in February. Health Minister Vishwajit Rane is contesting against the Congress’s Roy Naik in the constituency.Polling was by and large peaceful, barring two minor altercations in each constituency. Mr. Parrikar said he was satisfied with the conduct of the poll authorities, even as the Congress alleged that election officials were biased in favour of the BJP.Mr. Chodankar told reporters on Wednesday, “In Panaji, I was fighting alone, while Mr. Parrikar was backed by his ministers and the poll officials. It was not a fair contest.”He said that in Panaji, the altercation between former BJP MLA Sidharth Kuncolienkar and Ms. Coutinho was not handled well by poll officials. “They shoved around our women workers and the poll officials failed to act swiftly and justly,” he said. Mr. Chodankar also claimed that voters in Panaji and Valpoi had voted for change, and in anger. “People want change. They will throw out the Chief Minister and the Health Minister. We are confident of winning both seats,” the All India Congress Committee secretary said.Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Subhash Velingkar said the RSS cadre had not worked for Mr. Parrikar.“RSS workers will not vote for him, and our Anand Shirodkar will win this election, with a small margin,” Mr. Velingkar said. Mr. Velingkar had rebelled against the RSS ahead of the February Assembly election over the medium of instruction in primary schools. He later returned to the RSS fold, and continues to mentor the regional outfit of the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM). However, the GSM is opposing the BJP-led government over its continuation of grants to English media primary schools and other issues, like government patronage to casinos in the Mandovi river.Counting of votes in both constituencies will be held on Monday.last_img read more


first_imgThe film community expressed outrage after producers Viacom 18 Movie Productions deferred the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansalli’s historical film Padmavati amid spreading protests.National Award winning actor Shabana Azmi said, “Are we fools to not see thru the design of fomenting unrest and polarising votes? I am very angry. The film industry needs to take a strong unified action and refuse to be sitting ducks anymore.”Ms. Azmi, reacting to threats being issued to the film, lead actor Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, said, “If such threats had been made against any member of the political class, would the reaction have been the same? Are the people in the film industry not equal citizens of this country?”Reacting to the producers’ decision, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap said, “It’s infuriating. It’s a shame and it’s harrowing. I don’t have words to articulate my anger.”‘Not unexpected’Director Hansal Mehta lamented that “bullies had prevailed again” and said people had resigned themselves to government inaction on such issues. Mr Mehta expressed concern over filmmakers being targeted and said the stand taken by the government in the Padmavati and IFFI row [dropping of films selected by the jury] was “disappointing but not unexpected”.“After all what is a film compared to elections? S Durga, Nude and Padmavati’to begin with. Many more to come…”“I was told by many industry leaders that it was a wise strategy to delay Padmavati. Truth is that people have resigned themselves to government inaction in the face of such blatant terror. The only advice given is to shut up, retreat and accept these attacks,” Mr Mehta said.“So SLB (Bhansali) should show the film to those who threaten to have him beheaded? And get their approval?” he wrote.Sad day: IFTDAThe Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) member Ashoke Pandit described it as a sad day for Indian cinema and freedom of expression.“This is just the beginning and it has set a bad precedent to films of the future,” he said.IFTDA along with other industry bodies such as Cine And TV Artists Association (CINTAA) and Screenwriters Association had last week protested the harassment meted to filmmakers through the extra-constitutional censoring by fringe groups.Mr. Pandit also disagreed with CBFC Chairman Prasoon Joshi’s criticism of the film being screened for select journalists ahead of certification, saying a filmmaker has the right to screen it whomsoever he pleases. “Private screenings are an industry practice and do not hinder the certification process. I do not think the film makers did anything wrong by screening it to certain media outlets,” he said.Directors Anurag Basu and Nikkhil Advani also took to social media to support Mr. Bhansali.“It’s bizarre! The whole Padmavati row is based on just presumptions. Protestors have not seen a single frame of the film yet, but they know that history has been tampered! How?”last_img read more


first_imgKutch, India’s largest district, is in the grip of one of the worst droughts. The western and northern Banni areas of this Gujarat district have been without rain for the third continuous year.“Our data of over 12 years shows that during this drought the migration of the Maldhari tribal herders with their livestock has been very high,” says Ramesh Bhatti, programme director of Sahjivan Trust, Bhuj.“In their quest for water, people of Sheth Vandh in Banni get together, pray and start digging. Those in the surrounding villagers also join in,” says Abdul Rauf Mutwa, a local leader. Why has drought hit the Maldharis of Kutch so hard this year? Before Partition, the Maldharis used to migrate to Sindh during droughts, recalls Jumma Sama, a former sarpanch of Ratadia village.The drought has not spared Khadir island along the India-Pakistan border either.Jilubha Sodha of Dholavira in Khadir, who runs a cattle camp, says water from a branch canal of the Narmada project would be very valuable at such times, but it has not yet reached the area.(Images and text by Vijay Soneji)last_img read more