The Congress decision to field Navinchandra Bandiwadekar from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency has come in for criticism after his photographs on the dais of right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha and his participation in the rally organised to support Vaibhav Raut, a go-rakshak from Nallasopara arrested for possessing arms, became public. Following the outrage on Twitter, sources in the Congress said the matter has been brought to the notice of the senior leadership and appropriate action will be taken. Mr. Bandiwadekar, president of the All India Bhandari Samaj Mahasangh, had participated in a rally to support Mr. Raut as he was a worker of the Mahasangh from Nallasopara. “I have no relationship with Sanatan Sanstha. I was there as Raut used to work for the community and I was told his wife and mother were treated badly by police. I do not support the ideology of Sanatan Sanstha,” he said. Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said the party was aware of reports regarding Mr. Bandiwadekar. “The Congress is against extremist organisations like Sanatan Sanstha. An appropriate decision will be taken after a detailed inquiry,” he said. In August last year, the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad raided Mr. Raut’s home and confiscated arms and ammunition. He was a member of the Bhandari community and co-founder of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti, which is said to be affiliated to Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, an offshoot of Sanatan Sanstha. The Sanstha’s members have been named in the murders of rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Communist leader Govind Pansare, author M.M. Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh.Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant issued a statement clarifying Mr. Bandiwadekar has no connection whatsoever with the Sanatan Sanstha. “Neither has he participated in the activities of the Sanatan Sanstha nor does he have any sympathy for it. Since there was pressure from the community considering rumours of presumbaly prejudiced action by police, he had to go as the president of the organisation,” said Mr. Sawant. He said Mr. Bandiwadekar strongly opposes the Sanstha’s ideology and followers and will continue to do so.
Odisha’s Berhampur parliamentary constituency that boasts about electing former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1996 will have a triangular fight this time between the BJD, the BJP and the Congress.In this constituency that goes to the polls in the first phase on April 11, three major parties have fielded new candidates. The BJD has dropped Siddhant Mohapatra, the cine-star turned MP of Berhampur in 2009 and 2014. The party is fielding former Union Minister Chandrasekhar Sahu as its candidate. Mr. Sahu as the Congress candidate had lost to Mr. Mohapatra twice in the past and had joined the BJD in 2018. However, the party hopes for a hat-trick through him from Berhampur.Without Mr. Sahu, the Congress has fielded V. Chandrasekhar Naidu, an energy sector industrialist from New Delhi having ancestral links with the region. He is completely new to politics and this constituency. The party hopes to garner sizeable Telugu voters in the constituency that made former PM choose it in 1996.The BJP had won this seat in 1999 during the Kargil-wave, but as an ally of the BJD. This time hoping to ride on the post-Pulwama air strike sentiments, the BJP has fielded its State secretary Bhrugu Baxipatra. The party is also planning a rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strengthen its prospects. The BJP leaders feel the voters here vote differently for the Assembly and Lok Sabha constituency although both elections are held together. From 1957 till 1996, Berhampur continued to be a safe bastion for the Congress where even the anti-Emergency wave of 1977 had failed to work. The magic has vanished since the past two decades. The Congress had managed to win back this seat in 2004. However, with Mr. Sahu and several other key party leaders now in the BJD, the organisational strength of the Congress has gone down in the Berhampur parliamentary constituency. Berhampur, Gopalpur, Chhatrapur, Digapahandi, Chikiti, Mohana, Paralakhemundi Assembly segments where the polling will be held on April 11 are part of Berhampur Lok Sabha seat. Mohana happens to be a reserved seat for the Scheduled Castes.
Sri Lanka appointed opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan as its new captain on Monday as part of a major overhaul of its cricketing structure following the national team’s defeat by India in the World Cup final earlier this month.Former skipper Kumar Sangakkara, his deputy Mahela Jayawardene and a fourmember selection committee led by retired batting star Aravinda de Silva resigned earlier this month.A new selection committee led by former captain and administrator Duleep Mendis has been appointed.The 34-year-old Dilshan has previously led Sri Lanka in several Twenty20 and one-day internationals and is most likely to be an interim captain, with a younger player expected to be skipper at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.He has played 66 Test matches, scoring 3,990 runs at more than 42 runs per innings. In 203 One- Day Internationals, Dilshan has scored 5,456 runs and taken 62 wickets, bowling off- spin.Dilshan also had an excellent World Cup, where he was the tournament’s highest scorer with 500 runs.Having been an inconsistent middle- order batsman, Dilshan’s performances improved after he was promoted to open the batting.Mendis said that one of his main tasks will be to look for younger talent capable of taking over from current stalwarts like Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera, who are nearing their mid- thirties and are unlikely to be at their prime at the next World Cup.” Sri Lanka Cricket is proud to announce the appointment of Tillakaratne Dilshan as the national captain in all three formats of the game for Sri Lanka’s tour of England in May 2011,” an SLC statement said.advertisementSri Lanka Cricket said on Monday that selectors have postponed naming a vice- captain because prospective candidates are nursing injuries and may not be available for next month’s tour of England.Anjelo Mathews is in the running for vice- captain and the 23- year- old all- rounder is tipped to be Sri Lanka’s choice to be captain for the next World Cup.The changes also come amid a debate in Sri Lanka over the sports minister’s order to national cricketers playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League to return early to prepare for the English tour.Sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said the national team duties must be a priority over playing in the IPL. Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga, Suraj Randiv are among the players who may be compelled to return early.Muttiah Muralitharan, who retired from international cricket after the World Cup and is not bound by a contract with SLC, has criticised Sri Lanka’s decision.