Mumbai: As his party MPs joined the Sangh Parivar chorus for an early decision on the Ayodhya title suit and construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site, BJP president Amit Shah said the party wants a temple “at the exact spot” and if the Supreme Court were to conduct “day-to-day hearings, this is a case that will not go beyond ten days”.
He said he is “confident” that the hearings will start in January, and the Supreme Court should rule on it quickly “whatever the decision”. He said not only the BJP, but the entire country wants “a grand Ram temple” built in Ayodhya.
On the issue of Sabarimala and judicial review in matters of faith, Shah said: “Sabarimala is not about gender indiscrimination, it’s about a belief. There are many such issues where judicial reviews are not possible, it should be left to the people… My personal belief is that matters of religious nature can’t be put to judicial review.”
On October 29, the Supreme Court, unmoved by Uttar Pradesh government’s plea for early hearing in the Ayodhya matter, ordered listing of appeals against the Allahabad High Court order in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit before an “appropriate bench” in the first week of January to fix a date for hearing.
“Ayodhya is a title issue. The BJP clearly states that we want to build a grand Ram temple at the exact spot and it is the demand of the entire nation… The case was pending before the Supreme Court much before 2014. Lawyers of both the Centre and UP government requested the court to give priority to the case,” Shah said at a Republic TV event in Mumbai.
Mentioning Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal’s demand for conducting the hearings after the 2019 elections, he said, “I feel the case should be cleared at the earliest. Whatever the decision… it should be taken at the earliest… It is important to a lot of people… sentiments of people across the country… Crores of people believe that the temple should be built there.”
BJP MPs raised the Ram temple issue at a meeting of the parliamentary party, asking the government what stand had it taken on the issue. Hari Narayan Rajbhar, MP from Ghosi, wanted to know whether the government planned to bring a Bill to facilitate temple construction.
Later, Rajbhar told The Indian Express: “Yes, I raised the issue at the meeting and asked the government when will the Bill be brought. Rajnathji (Home Minister Rajnath Singh) asked us to wait… When the domes were brought down in 1992, no one had taken permission of the court. Now the controversial structure doesn’t even exist there. So people should build the temple. It’s a matter of faith.”
‘Indians obese but hunger a concern,’ says UN report
New Delhi: More Indians are becoming obese while the number of undernourished people in country has declined, according to a report by the UN that said that globally over 820 million people are suffering from hunger.
The report titled “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019” was issued by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The report said that an estimated 820 million people across the world did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is the third year of increase in a row, underscoring the immense challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030.
In India, the number of undernourished people declined from 253.9 million in 2004-06 to 194.4 million in 2016-18. However, the number of adults (18 years and older) who are obese grew from 24.1 million in 2012 to 32.8 million in 2016. The number of children (under 5 years of age) who are overweight stood at 2.9 million in 2018.
In percentage terms, prevalence of undernourishment in the total population in India was 22.2 per cent in 2004-06 and 14.5 per cent in 2016-18. Prevalence of wasting in children (under 5 years of age) was 20.8 per cent in 2018, while the prevalence of obesity in the adult population was 3 per cent in 2012, increasing to 3.8 per cent in 2016.
The report said that globally, hunger is increasing in many countries where economic growth is lagging, particularly in middle-income countries and those that rely heavily on international primary commodity trade.
The annual UN report also found that income inequality is rising in many of the countries where hunger is on the rise, making it even more difficult for the poor, vulnerable or marginalised to cope with economic slowdowns and downturns. “We must foster pro-poor and inclusive structural transformation focusing on people and placing communities at the centre to reduce economic vulnerabilities and set ourselves on track to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition,” the UN report said.
It noted that poverty rates have declined between 3 per cent and 6 per cent per year in El Salvador, Ghana, India, Tunisia and Uganda.
The report said that the impacts of economic slowdowns on food security and nutrition are demonstrated in Haiti, Nepal and the Niger. Amid a global financial crisis coupled with high food prices, households’ food security, as measured by dietary diversity, reduced by 5 per cent in Nepal, 8 per cent in the Niger, and 23 per cent in Haiti due to increased food prices.
In the Indian Himalayas, economic slowdown coupled with natural resource depletion and climate change negatively impacted on food production and employment opportunities. This resulted in increased threats to food security due to lower purchasing power, it added. The report also took note of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). “Unlike the previous cases, the MGNREGS was not designed to address employment problems arising from an economic downturn,” it said.
Yeddyurappa plays cricket with legislators in Bengaluru
Bengaluru: As the focus shifted to the Supreme Court, which is hearing the pleas of 15 Karnataka MLAs against alleged delay by the Speaker in accepting their resignations, the state BJP President BS Yeddyurappa was seen in a relaxed mood playing cricket with party legislators who are camped at a resort on the outskirts of the city.
Yeddyurappa, who had been busy in hectic meetings with senior party colleagues and legislators strategising as the wobbly coalition government headed by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is on the brink of collapse, Tuesday spent most part of the day at a resort near Yelahanka.
Later in the day, BJPs state unit media cell released a photo of Yeddyurappa playing cricket with party MLAs Renukacharya and SR Vishwanath, among others.
He was seen batting.
After over a week long heightened political activity in the city, it was relatively a calm on Tuesday with the focus shifting to the Supreme Court.
The top court will pronounce its order Wednesday morning on the pleas of 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs seeking direction for Speaker Ramesh Kumar to accept their resignations from the Assembly.
The order from the top court will come a day before the Congress-JD(S) government faces the floor test in the assembly, which would end suspense over the numbers game triggered by a raft of resignations by the ruling coalition lawmakers.
As many as 16 MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JD(S) — have resigned while two independent MLAs S Shankar and H Nagesh have withdrawn their support to the coalition government, keeping it on the edge.
In a bid to keep their flock together ahead of the floor test, the Congress, BJP and JD(S) have shifted their MLAs to resorts.
The Congress shifted its MLAs from a hotel in the city to a resort on the outskirts, amid fears that some more legislators may resign.
Buzz in Congress that Priyanka should take over as party presidentship
New Delhi: The Congress Working Committee which has been unable to arrive at a consensus on Rahul Gandhi’s replacement is unlikely to meet this week to appoint their new chief. However, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s name is being murmured for the post of party president.
Priyanka’s name has not been pushed openly because Rahul Gandhi had said that the party should find someone other than a member of the Gandhi family for the post.
He made the statement on May 25 during the CWC meet while conveying his decision to step down from the post.
Former Union minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told Indian Express: “But many people are saying now. I, too, believe Priyankaji should become the Congress president. She belongs to the Gandhi family. She is a leader and has the quality to lead the party. She is dynamic.”
Jaiswal said that Priyanka would be a good option and her name has not been said openly as people are hesitant because of Rahul’s statement of finding a non-Gandhi for the post.
Adding support to nominate Priyanka Gandhi’s name, three-time former Lok Sabha MP Bhakta Charan Das said that “leaders will demand Priyanka ji in the absence of Rahul Gandhi.” He said that if Rahul does not take back his resignation, Priyanka should take the post of party president and party should propose her name.
“Enough delay has happened. We should find a leader who is acceptable to everyone. And the leader should have a positive imprint in the minds of every worker and voter. Age should also be a factor. Age and popularity both. The next Congress president should not be very old. And that person should be hardworking just like Rahul Gandhi was,” Das added.
According to sources, the CWC may consider accepting Rahul Gandhi’s resignation and opt for internal elections to pick a replacement. They also added that it may empower the party’s general secretaries and state-in-charges to take decision during the interim period.
This push for Priyanka, however, comes at a time when senior leaders fear that she may not have the kind of acceptability in the party that her brother still has.
Sources said many leaders did not like her remarks at the CWC meeting in May. During the meeting, Priyanka said that those who “murdered” the party were sitting in the room.