The Rajya Sabha secretariat on Thursday released the names of the 16 MPs who were absent at the time of voting on the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Upper House on Wednesday. These included all three from the Shiv Sena and two of the four of the Nationalist Congress Party.
While NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel voted against the Bill, Majeed Memon and Vandana Chavan were absent. Others absent included BJP's Chunibhai Gohel and Anil Baluni, both of whom are unwell, as was Samajwadi Party's Beni Prasad Verma and independent Amar Singh. Trinamool Congress' K D Singh was also absent.
The more intriguing part was the absence of two of the four Bahujan Samaj Party MPs. They were Rajaram and Ashok Siddharth. Interestingly, Janata Dal (Secular)'s D Kupendra Reddy, its lone member in the House, went missing at the time of the vote though he had spoken against the Bill, as did his party chief H D Deve Gowda. Telangana Rashtra Samithi's Dharmapuri Srinivas was absent, while the rest of the MPs of the party voted against the Bill.
Azad's political party
After lying low for a while, Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad, who has now dropped his alias of Ravan, has announced his foray into active politics to “strengthen” the Bahujan movement. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati had dubbed him an “agent” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), although he had always been courteous towards the Dalit czarina.
Azad, who commands considerable clout among the Dalit youth in western UP districts, is planning to launch his proposed political outfit with a rally in Lucknow, which would also serve as the party’s headquarters. His political ambitions are sure to cause consternation among Dalit leaders in the BSP, the Samajwadi Party, and the Congress, while indirectly helping the BJP by splitting the Dalit vote.
Inspired by Amma Canteens?
Film actor Rajinikanth, quite like former Tamil Nadu chief minister M G Ramachandran, has played the role of a poor, hardworking man in many movies. The title of one of his movies, Uzhaippali (hard worker), has inspired Chennai-based Siddha medicine practitioner Veerababu to start a low-priced food outlet in the city.
The Rajinikanth fan chose the south star’s 69th birthday on Thursday to open his first Uzhaippali Canteen, which will serve “herbal” lunch to daily wage earners and other poor workers for Rs 10. There are plans to open more such canteens, he said.