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BJP Kerala chief K. Surendran faces volley of criticism in core committee meet



K. Surendran.

BJP’s Kerala President K. Surendran faced a barrage of criticism at the core committee meet on Sunday – the first after the party’s washout in the April 6 Assembly elections and as it faces heat over the Thrissur “money heist”.

The core committee has all the four state General Secretaries as members, along with all former state chiefs. With the state party is divided into factions headed by Union Minister V. Muraleedharan, and former state chief P.K. Krishnadas, the meeting was stormy.

BJP sources said that in the meeting, Krishnadas, state General Secretaries A.N. Radhakrishnan and M.T. Ramesh came out heavily against Muraleedharan and Surendran, saying the state leadership failed in arriving at a consensus with all and this was the main reason for the drubbing the party had faced in the elections.

Another charge was that the candidate selection process was opaque and the state leadership failed to field proper candidates, leading to the wipeout. The BJP had drawn a blank in the 2021 Assembly elections, even losing the Nemom seat it had won in 2016.

The rival faction raised the allegations levelled by BSP candidate K. Sundara, who had withdrawn his nominations from Manjeswar Assembly constituency from where Surendran contested, telling the media that he was given Rs 2.5 lakh and a smartphone to pull back. He said that he was also offered Rs 15 lakh, a home, and a wine parlour in Karnataka if Surendran wins.

Surendran and Muraleedharan, however, contended that the party candidates were finalised in the best interests of the party.

They also said Surendran was in no way involved in the money heist.

The state BJP is under pressure after RSS worker Dharmarajan registered a complaint at Kodakara police station that a group of people had attacked him after blocking his car on April 3 — days before polling — and looted an amount of Rs 25 lakh from him.

Police arrested several known criminals, and during the course of the investigation, BJP youth wing’s former state treasurer Sunil D. Naik’s name also surfaced. Naik was a close associate of Surendran and the case turned into a major topic of discussion after interrogation of the arrested people led to unearthing of more than Rs 1 crore.

Police questioned BJP state General Secretary, Organisation and senior RSS leader M. Ganeshan, and party state Office Secretary, G. Gireeshan. Sources also said that Surendran’s son Harikrishnan would also be questioned in the days to come.

On Sunday before the core committee meeting, senior BJP leader and former state President Kummanam Rajashekhran told the media that the BJP will not allow targeting of Surendran.

“The CPI-M and the Kerala media is targeting BJP and K. Surendran, and this vilification is the victimisation of the BJP and its President,” he said.

Muraleedharan also told media that the CPI-M is trying to tarnish the image of the party.

The core committee decided to come out against the CPI-M-led state government for the “false charges” being made against the BJP.

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‘Official work’: Sharad Pawar says amid speculation over meeting with Amit Shah




NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Tuesday met Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi, sparking off speculations.

Pawar himself sought to clear the air, terming it an official meet. “Had a brief meeting with Union Co-operation Minister Shri Amit Shah in New Delhi today along with Shri Jaiprakash Dandegaonkar, President of NFCSF (National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Ltd) & Prakash Naiknavre to discuss issues faced by the sugar co-operative sector,” he said.

The meeting gained significance as it came on the same day as Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule attended the breakfast meeting of opposition leaders hosted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress and the Shiv Sena, who are the Nationalist Congress Party’s allies in the Maharashtra, however, dismissed any political significance of the meeting.

The meeting came a day after Shiv Sainiks went on a rampage, tearing down a brand new hoarding erected by the Adani Airport Holding Ltd (AAHL) outside Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) to protest against what they alleged was AAHL’s unilateral move to abruptly ‘change’ the name of CSMIA and replace it with the Adani Group brand name.

Pawar has been meeting the ruling party leaders and ahead of monsoon session on July 17, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and talked for about 50 minutes, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The meeting took pace amid reports over fissures in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government in Maharashtra.

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Delhi Cabinet approves increased salary of MLAs




The Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday approved salary hike of the members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) after getting approval from the Centre.

With the approval from the cabinet, Delhi MLAs will now get a salary of Rs 30,000 per month.

As per a provision of the Bill cleared by the Delhi Assembly in 2015, the basic salary of legislators will increase from the current Rs 12,000 to Rs 50,000.

However, the AAP government said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has scuttled the proposal and restricted it and capped the salary of the MLAs to only Rs 30,000. They will be getting a total of Rs 90,000 per month including Rs 30,000 basic salary and other allowances.

The restriction imposed by the Centre has forced Delhi’s MLAs to be amongst the lowest paid among all states in the country.

“The salary of Delhi’s MLAs hasn’t increased since 2011 and the Delhi Government had requested the MHA that it should be at par with MLAs of other states, however the MHA refused to do so,” said Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in a statement.

The Delhi Government had proposed a salary of Rs 54,000 for the MLAs.

“Now the salary plus allowances of the MLAs of Delhi has been restricted by the MHA to Rs 90,000,” it said.

Proposal for an increase in salary and allowances of Delhi MLAs was pending with the MHA for the last 5 years.

The cabinet has also approved salaries and other allowances of Ministers of Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and MLAs under the Legislative Assembly of Delhi (Amendment) Bills, 2021.

“After Cabinet approval, the proposal and draft bills will be sent for MHA’s approval before being placed in the Delhi Assembly,” CMO said.

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Uttar Pradesh Congress plays caste game, woos Dalits




In order to regain its lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Tuesday observed a ‘Dalit Swabhiman Diwas’ to woo the community and highlight the atrocities on the weaker sections in the non-Congress governments.

While it is wooing Dalits and OBCs, the Brahmins are being ignored by the Congress, say state party insiders.

State head of the Congress Dalit cell, Alok Prasad, said that the significance of August 3 was that the proposal to appoint Dr B.R. Ambedkar as the Union Law Minister in the Nehru cabinet was passed on this day.

“We are taking out Dalit Swabhiman Yatras on this day to create awareness among Dalits and pay tributes to Ambedkar,” he said. The Congress also plans to hold a Dalit panchayat.

The state Congress has already held caste conferences for Nishad, Maurya-Shakya, Kushwaha and Pal-Gaderia-Dhanger caste groups.

The move by the state unit to focus on castes has irked the senior party leaders who feel that the Congress is simply following in the footsteps of the regional parties.

“We slam other parties for playing the caste and communal card but this is exactly what we are doing. Instead of focussing on issues, we are following the caste path which is detrimental to party interests,” said a former UPCC president.

Interestingly, the Congress state leadership has started criticizing other non-BJP parties instead of focusing its attention on the ruling BJP.

Uttar Pradesh Congress minority cell chairman Shahnawaz Alam has been attacking the Samajwadi Party for ignoring the victimisation of its leader Mohd Azam Khan and not opposing it.

Alam said that if anything untoward happens to Azam Khan, Akhilesh would be equally responsible for it.

A senior party leader said, “What exactly is the state leadership trying to do? We should be attacking the BJP but we are shooting down regional parties with whom we could have a post-poll alliance.”

While SP and BSP are trying to woo Brahmins who are disgruntled with the BJP, the Congress has chosen to ignore Brahmins completely-even those within the party.

A senior political analyst said, “The problem with Congress is that it is completely directionless. They have no strategy and policy for the elections and each one is pulling in a different direction.”

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