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Sunday,19-September-2021

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Ashok Gehlot-led AICC team to mull Congress prospects in Kerala polls

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A three-member committee set up by the AICC will hold discussions on Friday evening and Saturday with state leaders on the prospects of the Congress as well as the United Democratic Front in the 2021 Assembly elections.

Led by Rajasthan Chief minister Ashok Gehlot, the team constituted by the All India Congress Committee comprises former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro and former Karnataka Deputy CM G Parameshwara.

While Faleiro and Parameshwara have already arrived in the state capital, Gehlot will reach here on Friday evening, accompanied by AICC General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal. The meeting will be held thereafter.

Faleiro and Parameshwara have already met with the ‘big three’ in the state Congress — KPCC President Mullappaly Ramachandran, former Chief minister Oomen Chandy, and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.

KPCC General Secretary Manacadu Suresh told IANS: “Both Faleiro and Parameshwara are here and meeting all senior state leaders. They will make a small presentation when Gehlot and Venugopal reach here by evening.”

While an informal meeting will be held after the arrival of the two senior leaders, a series of meeting are slated on Saturday to discuss the prospective party candidates in the Assembly elections likely to be held in May 2021 to elect 140 MLAs.

As Congress Working Committee member and former Kerala Chief Minister AK Antony has openly called for fielding “new faces”, the Congress will be forced to choose several youth leaders for party tickets. Gehlot and his team will have a close look at the strengths and limitations of the new faces proposed to be fielded by the state leadership.

KPCC chief Ramachandran told IANS: “There will be an open meeting between AICC observers and the state leaders’ team. We will discuss the election strategy, pros and cons of fielding new candidates, relations with coalition partners, and finances for the polls. All team members are senior politicians and we will make use of their vast experience and expertise in the run-up to the polls.”

The Congress contested 87 seats in 2016 elections but won only 22, while its United Democratic Front partner Indian Union Muslim League contested 25 seats and won 18.

In the 2021 polls, the Congress is likely to contest 95 Assembly seats and is hoping to lead in 27 of them. The UDF will give two seats to the Communist Marxist Party (CMP), which has been with the UDF since its formation. Forward Block will get one seat while Kerala Congress splinter group led by PJ Joseph will get 7 to 9 seats to contest.

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Captain quits in Punjab, takes team along

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Just minutes ahead of the crucial Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting on Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reached the Governor’s house and submitted his and his council of ministers resignation to him.

“CM @capt_amarinder has met Punjab Governor and submitted his and his council of ministers’ resignation,” the Chief Minister Media Advisor Raveen Thukral informed in a tweet.

Earlier in the day, the party’s high command is said to have conveyed to the Chief Minister to resign to enable the election of a new incumbent.

However, the Chief Minister ‘threatened’ to quit the party for being humiliated.

“Amarinder Singh spoke to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the morning and told her he is being humiliated and he will resign from the party,” a close confidant of the Chief Minister, told IANS.

According to some senior party leaders, the high command has categorically asked Amarinder Singh to step down.

The minute-by-minute changing political development began at about 11.42 p.m. on Friday when Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat tweeted about the decision to hold an urgent CLP meeting on Saturday.

Almost 10 minutes later state party chief Navjot Sidhu directed all the MLAs to be present at the CLP meeting.

The announcement by Rawat is being seen as an indication from the high command to appoint the new incumbent under whose helm the party will go to the Assembly polls, slated in March 2022.

Responding to the political developments, former state President Sunil Jakhar tweeted: “Kudos to Sh Rahul Gandhi for adopting Alexandrian solution to this Punjabi version of Gordian knot.”

“Surprisingly, this bold leadership decision to resolve Punjab Congress imbroglio has not only enthralled Congress workers but has sent shudders down the spines of Akalis.”

The decision to call the CLP comes in the wake of the fresh letter signed by a majority of legislators who expressed dissatisfaction with Amarinder Singh and demanding his removal from the Chief Minister’s post.

Meanwhile, AICC’s deputed party general secretary Ajay Maken and Harish Chowdhry reached Chandigarh as central observers for the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting slated in the evening. State party in charge Harish Rawat is also reaching here.

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Former Union Minister Babul Supriyo joins Trinamool Congress

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Former union minister and BJP MP Babul Supriyo on Saturday joined West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s All India Trinamool Congress (AITC).

“Today, in the presence of National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, former union minister and sitting MP Babul Supriyo joined the Trinamool family,” the official account of the AITC tweeted.

On July 31, Babul, also a playback singer, declared that he had quit politics and would soon resign as the MP too. He had cited a difference of opinion between him and the state BJP leaders, saying that it was “harming the party”.

“I will continue to work constitutionally as an MP in Asansol. Politics is beyond the constitutional post and I withdraw myself from it. I will not join any other party. I will vacate the MP bungalow in Delhi and release security personnel from their duties soon,” he was quoted saying.

A minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, Supriyo was dropped in a reshuffle that took place in the month of July. Post his leaving the saffron party, he had told media that if someone asks whether leaving the politics was somehow linked to losing ministry then he said that is true to some extent. He also added differences with the senior leadership since the assembly poll campaign as another reason.

It is yet to be seen whether Supriyo will resign from his Lok Sabha seat or leave it to the Bharatiya Janata Party to move the Speaker’s office for his disqualification post the latest move.

Earlier in the day, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reduced the security cover of Babul from Z to Y category, an official ministry said.

Having joined BJP in 2014, Babul Supriyo has been elected twice from Asansol.

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B’days will come and go, but yesterday was special: Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that birthdays will come and go, but I will never forget my 71st birthday because of the nearly 2.5 crore vaccine jabs which the country administered, marking a new feat against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking during a virtual interaction with health workers, ruling politicians, administrative officials and a cross section of people from Goa, Modi also said that by clocking the record vaccinations in a single day, India has shown the world the depths of its ability, adding that Indians should boast about the achievement with pride.

“But due to all your efforts, yesterday was a special day for me. Birthdays will come and go, but I will never forget yesterday. I cannot thank you all enough,” Modi said.

“Many birthdays have come and gone. But I have kept away from these things (birthday celebrations). But in all my years, yesterday was a very emotional day for me,” the Prime Minister added.

Breaking down Friday’s nationwide statistics, Modi said that 15 lakh vaccines were administered every hour, 26,000 every minute and 425 doses given every second at the more than 1 lakh inoculation centres across the country.

“Because of your efforts, yesterday, India in one day, vaccinated 2.5 crore people, creating a record. Bigger and developed countries in the world have not been able to achieve this fear.

“I noticed yesterday as to how the country was watching the Cowin dashboard in anticipation,” Modi said.

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