Election 2019: Sacked Soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav Named Samajwadi's Varanasi Candidate
Tej Bahadur Yadav, the former Border Security Force (BSF) soldier dismissed over his videos criticizing food for the forces on the frontlines, has been named the Samajwadi Party's candidate in Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The opposition "gathbandhan" or alliance of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party had earlier named Shalini Yadav, the daughter-in-law of a former Congress lawmaker, as the grand alliance candidate from Varanasi. She, too, filed her nomination today.
"If Tej Pratap's nomination is canceled because he is a dismissed soldier, Shalini Yadav will be the back-up candidate," a Samajwadi Party leader told reporters.
Tej Bahadur Yadav had, a few weeks ago, said he wanted to take on PM Modi in Varanasi. He had even filed his papers as an independent candidate. His entry is seen by many as interesting at a time the PM has been accused of making frequent references in his campaign speeches to the Pulwama attack and India's retaliation in Balakot to demonstrate the government's tough stand against terror.
The Prime Minister is contesting from the temple town for the second time and is widely expected to win an easy victory. The Congress, which was said to have considered fielding Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, handed PM Modi a walkover by naming Ajay Rai, who finished third in Varanasi in 2014.
Sources say after the Congress decided against pitching its top leader against PM Modi, the Samajwadi Party decided to up the ante and go for a more high profile candidate for the prestigious seat.
Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet "congratulating" Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav for his decision, posted: "On one hand is a soldier who risked his life for the country and lost his job while fighting for the rights of troops. On the other hand, is someone who seeks votes on the bodies of soldiers."
Tej Bahadur Yadav was sacked in 2017 after he posted a video on YouTube complaining about food served to the troops -- "watery dal and burnt chapatis" - in a long rant in military uniform.
The BSF set up a court of inquiry against Tej Pratap Yadav and the home ministry ordered an investigation. His videos grabbed so much attention that even the Prime Minister's Office asked for a report.
Yadav was shifted out of the Line of Control as the controversy escalated and later dismissed on charges of making false claims. Nearly a year later, the BSF commissioned an assessment of the meals served to jawans and officers of the paramilitary force.
Do you think BSF soldier (Tej Bahadur) can win over PM Narendra Modi?
Lok Sabha Polls 2019: "Action Soon" against politicisation of the armed forces
Action will be taken soon in case of comments that politicize the armed forces, sources in the Election Commission said, amid huge opposition criticism over its inaction on such statements by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. The Commission had asked political leaders to refrain from dragging the armed forces into the election campaign after several leaders had invoked the IAF attacks on a Jaish-e Mohammad camp at Pakistan's Balakot.
But with the BJP making national security and nationalism the party's key theme for the election, the order was routinely disregarded. The Commission now has to decide whether it constitutes a violation of the Model Code and is actionable.
Yesterday, the Commission said it was still examining all such instances involving the Prime Minister "in entirety".
Today, sources in the top election body said, "There will soon be action". When asked to clarify a timeline, the official said "We will not wait for the election to end. Poll officers are collecting details".
On April 9, the Prime Minister had issued a direct appeal in the name of soldiers and the "martyrs" who died in the suicide attack at Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
"I want to ask my first-time voters, can your first vote be dedicated to the soldiers who conducted the Balakot air strikes? Can your first vote be in the name of the martyrs who lost their lives in Pulwama," PM Modi had said at a rally in Maharashtra.
In response to a complaint, a report was submitted on April 11 by local election officials, which said prima facie, the Prime Minister had violated the model code.
The opposition has accused the Narendra Modi government of using the successes of the armed forces to build an impression that the BJP alone cares about the nation while labeling the opposition parties are "anti-national".
Senior leaders of his party, including party chief Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adiyanath, have tagged the armed forces "Modi-ji ki Sena" - triggering objections from officers who flagged the matter with the defense ministry.
The Poll Commission has been active since it was pulled up by the Supreme Court earlier this month over allegations of inaction in cases of Model Code violation.
It handed temporary bans to a number of political leaders, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union minister Maneka Gandhi and Mayawati.
Do you agree with this?
"Voter ID More Powerful Than IED," Says PM After Voting In Ahmedabad
A voter ID is more powerful than the IED (improvised explosive device) of terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today after voting in Gujarat's Ahmedabad, where he held a mini-roadshow in an open jeep, walked down the streets and addressed the media.
"The weapon of terrorism is IED, the strength of democracy is a voter ID. I can say with certainty that the voter ID is much, much more powerful than an IED, so we should understand the strength of our voter IDs," he said on his "IED vs voter ID" theme that appeared to be a reminder of his government's national security plank.
Ditching the usual bulletproof vehicle, PM Modi arrived in an open jeep to the voting center at Nishan Higher Secondary School in Ranip; the jeep moved slowly through the crowd, roadshow-style. Surrounded by his bodyguards, PM Modi folded his hands and spent several moments waving at the people. BJP president Amit Shah, who is the candidate for the Gandhinagar constituency, and his family greeted him. PM Modi was seen taking Amit Shah's granddaughter in his arms and again waving at the crowds, before walking into the polling booth.
After casting his vote, the Prime Minister displayed his inked finger and walked on the streets along with Amit Shah. BJP flags and banners lined the streets. Amid chants of "Modi, Modi", he spoke to the media: "I feel proud to do my duty of voting in my home state Gujarat and participate in this massive festival of democracy. Just like one feels after taking a dip in the holy river during the Kumbh Mela, I feel the same after voting."
He added: "Voters are wise. They know what is right and what is not."
PM Modi is seeking a second term in office in the massive election taking place in seven rounds across the country. Today is the third and biggest round, with at least a fifth of the Lok Sabha seats voting.
This morning, PM Modi had tweeted: "Urging all those voting in today's Third Phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to do so in record numbers. Your vote is precious and will shape the direction our nation takes in the years to come. I'll be voting in Ahmedabad in a short while from now."
Do you agree with PM Modi?
Sheila Dikshit To Contest From Delhi, Congress Names 6 Candidates: LokSabha Elections 2019
Sheila Dikshit, three-time Delhi Chief Minister, is among the candidates the Congress named today for six of the seven seats in Delhi for the national election, signaling that a tie-up with Aam Aadmi Party is no longer on the table. The party has left out just one seat, South Delhi, where its planned candidate Ramesh Kumar, the brother of 1984 anti-Sikh riots accused Sajjan Kumar, has provoked anger from Sikh groups.
The list is out just two days before nominations end for the Delhi election on May 12.
Kapil Sibal is missing from the list; the senior Congress leader and former union minister reportedly decided against contesting from his traditional seat Chandni Chowk. Sources say he was reluctant to fight in a triangular contest with the BJP and AAP, which may be the case for other seats too.
Sheila Dikshit, who took over as the chief of the Delhi Congress earlier this year, will contest from North East Delhi. Her predecessor Ajay Maken will contest as the Congress candidate from New Delhi.
The other candidates are Arvinder Singh Lovely from East Delhi, JP Agarwal from Chandni Chowk, Rajesh Lilothia from North West Delhi and Mahabal Mishra from West Delhi.
Sheila Dikshit was asked to choose where she wanted to contest and she reportedly preferred North East Delhi over East Delhi.
Arvind Kejriwal's AAP had announced names of candidates for all seven seats weeks ago, even when it was in the middle of hard negotiations with the Congress for a tie-up in Delhi.
One of the AAP candidates filed his nomination on April 18. The party stalled the nomination for three candidates in Delhi as talks continued for a joint fight against the BJP.
In the 2014 national election, the BJP won all seven seats in Delhi.
Talks between the two parties crashed over AAP's insistence that the Congress agree to share seats in Haryana, Chandigarh, and Punjab.
The Congress on Sunday announced its candidates for five seats in Haryana. This was after AAP named three candidates in alliance with Dushyant Chautala's JJP.
Do you think Sheila Dikshit will win?
Priyanka Chaturvedi Switches To Shiv Sena From Congress.
Priyanka Chaturvedi, one of the Congress's most high-profile spokespersons, quit her party of 10 years and joined the Shiv Sena in less than 24 hours. Hours after she tweeted her resignation letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, she surfaced alongside Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray.
"I gave ten years of my life to a political party at the end of which I felt extremely let down for not standing up on issues which are important for women's rights," said the 39-year-old, who gave the first hint of a rift with her party on Wednesday, when she tweeted about "lumpen goons" getting preference in the Congress over those who had "given their sweat and blood".
She was referring to the Congress's decision to take back a group of party workers who had been sacked after they allegedly manhandled her in September in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura when she was addressing a press conference.
The workers were reportedly taken back with a nod from Jyotiraditya Scindia, who, along with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, is in charge of the party's campaign in UP.
Their return was announced in a letter from the UP Congress's "disciplinary committee", which was tweeted by a journalist and then retweeted by Priyanka Chaturvedi.
Last evening, she handed in her resignation letter to Rahul Gandhi. "In the last few weeks, certain things have convinced me that my services are not valued in the organization and that I have reached the end of the road. At the same time I also feel that the more time I spend in the organization will be at the cost of my own self-respect and dignity," she wrote.