The Election Commission of India (ECI) today (3 November 2022) announced the schedule for the Gujarat assembly polls. The two-phase polls will be conducted on December 1 and 5 and the results will be announced on December 8. Himachal Pradesh results will also be declared on the same date.
The term of the 182-member Gujarat assembly ends on February 18, 2023. In the first phase, the state would poll for 89 seats and in the second phase, it would conduct the election on 93 seats. Citing the convention followed in 2017, the poll panel had not announced the Gujarat election schedule and instead gave out the Himachal Pradesh poll dates last month.
While elections in Himachal Pradesh will be held in a single phase on November 12, the counting of votes will take place on December 8. The ECI said that for enhanced voting experience, 1274 polling stations will be completely managed by women and security staff. There will be 182 polling stations, where one will be welcomed by PWD.
For the first time, 33 polling stations will be set up and managed by the youngest available polling staff. The election commission also announced that a special observer in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat for accessibility and inclusion for women, the elderly, PWD, will be deployed in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
State apathy kills 134 on Morbi bridge
The grief that has followed the Morbi bridge disaster in Gujarat is palpable these days. On October 31, soon after Gujarati New Year’s Day, a century-old pedestrian hanging bridge collapsed and claimed the lives of 134 people, many among them women, the elderly and children. The state-run GMERS Hospital was where most of the survivors were taken was seen busy in something other than treatment – it was busy getting a coat of paint and other refurbishments, just because it wanted to look pretty as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to visit the injured. The complete apathy and cruelty of the state knew no end.
On the first floor of GMERS Hospital, where survivors were admitted in what is otherwise labelled as “paediatric ward”, rusted beds and side-tables are being painted afresh, while walls and ceilings are being rid of cobwebs, and cracked tiles and flooring being repaired.
Taking off from the Morbi bridge collapse, the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) has said it has decided to limit the visitors at Atal Bridge—the foot overbridge over Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad—to 3,000 persons per hour. Atal Bridge is the only foot overbridge over the Sabarmati River and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August.
The contract to repair the British era bridge was given to a company, Oreva, whose main USP is producing low quality, tacky watches and clocks. The company says it manufactures e-bikes as well. And just because the company’s owners are well connected and are based in Morbi, the contract for the repair and maintenance – as well of collecting gate money of Rs 17 for adults and Rs 12 for children – was given to the company, without even a tendering process.
The firm had claimed on October 26, that it had roped in experts for the repair work, adding that the material used was built as per specifications by “specialised firms”.
As many as 300 army personnel were deployed in the search and rescue operation at the Morbi bridge incident site in which over 134 people lost their lives.
Ashok Yadav, IG, Rajkot range has been quoted in the media as saying: “As and when we get evidence, police will nab the accused further. We have also formed a Special Investigation Team pertaining to the incident.
Arrests, yes? A laughable catch of 9, including ticket clerks, and security guards, none who were really responsible for the disaster. And, oh ,yes, some low level officers of Oreva.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said: “I don’t want to politicise this incident. People have lost lives there. It’s disrespectful for them to do it. I don’t want to do politics on it.” AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, of course, preferred to politicise people’s lives, saying that the mishap was a result of “big corruption”. Kejriwal added that how can a clock manufacturing firm – Oreva, which never had any experience in handling cable suspension bridges, be given the responsibility of the same? “The company was not given a tender as well…how is this possible?” the CM asked.
Indian men, women to have equal match fees: BCCI
BCCI secretary Jay Shah has said that India’s women cricketers would earn the same match fees as their male counterparts in international matches going forward in a significant move towards equal pay. The decision was taken at the BCCI Apex Council emergent meeting.
Said Shah: “I am pleased to announce BCCI’s first step towards tackling discrimination. We are implementing a pay equity policy for our contracted women cricketers. The match fees for both men and women cricketers will be the same as we move into a new era of gender equality in cricket.”
Legendary Indian cricketer Mithali Raj chose to describe the latest update from BCCI as a “historic decision for women’s cricket in India”. With this policy, India’s women cricketers will earn Rs 15 lakh for a Test, Rs 6 lakh for an ODI and Rs 3 lakh for a T20I, the same as the men’s cricketers.
Described as the first step towards eliminating gender discrimination, the hike is significant given the prior fixed match fee of Rs 1 lakh per match for limited-overs matches and Rs 4 lakh per Test.
It is to be noted that there is a significant pay gap between the match fees of Indian men and women cricketers. New Zealand is the first country to introduce equal pay for women’s and men’s cricketers. The new order was brought in this July.
In cricket, apart from the match-wise fees, there is a retainership payment system. For women cricketers, Rs 50 lakh for Grade A cricketers, Rs 30 lakh for Grade B and Rs 10 lakh for Grade C cricketers are paid annually apart from the match fees. Men cricketers, who play a higher number of games, are paid between Rs 7 crore and Rs 1 crore depending on their grade, starting with an A Plus grade. There will be no change in this, as of now.
Azam Khan’s Rampur seat declared ‘vacant’ after conviction
The Rampur Sadar seat in Uttar Pradesh now stands vacant, the state’s Legislative Assembly secretariat has said. This follows the conviction of incumbent Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, following which he was disqualified as an MLA.
The Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly secretariat took the decision on the basis of a 2013 Supreme Court judgement which held that an MLA, MLC or MP convicted in a criminal case and jailed for a minimum of two years will lose membership of the House with immediate effect.