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Saturday,19-June-2021

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Pinarayi Vijayan cuts cake ahead of the beginning of second term

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Taking full credit for leading the ruling CPI-M led LDF to a second term, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan ahead of the first meeting of the Left Democratic Front after the election results, celebrated the occasion by cutting a big cake here on Monday.

Left Democratic Front convenor A. Vijayaraghavan told the media that a 21-member cabinet will be sworn in on Thursday and including Vijayan there will be 12 cabinet ministers from the CPI-M.

In the 140-member Kerala Assembly the Left won 99 seats, while the Congress-led Opposition secured 41.

The others include four from the CPI, one each from the JD (S) and the NCP, while four single legislator parties will share two cabinet posts with each party getting a term of 2.5 years each.

Vijayan himself took the lead and after cutting the cake gave a piece to all the leaders who came for the meeting.

Among the decisions that have been agreed to is that the single party legislator parties which include the Kerala Congress (B), Nationalist Kerala Congress, Congress-S and the INL is that all of them will be given a cabinet post but they will have to share two cabinet ministers post between the four.

Antony Raju of the Nationalist Kerala Congress will get a term of 2.5 years and after that he will have to move out for present State Minister for Ports, Kadanapally Ramachandran of the Congress -S. Ahamed Devarcoil will take the first term and midway will make way for actor turned former State Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar.

Emerging out of the LDF meeting, Raju said as things stand he will be the one to get the first term and we as a party are extremely thankful to the CM for giving us this opportunity.

Kerala Congress (Mani) party which has 5 legislators, whose leader Jose K.Mani, son of late K.M. Mani, was looking downcast as he lost the election. He said that his party had wished to get two cabinet ministers posts, but due to limitations it has not happened.

“We have been given one Minister’s post and the post of Chief Whip (which comes with cabinet status). We did ask for two ministerial posts, but there are limitations, so we settled for one,” said Mani.

Nationalist Congress Party leader T.P. Peethambaran who has two legislators will get a cabinet minister. He said their national leader Praful Patel is arriving on Tuesday and the final decision will be made then on who will be their party nominee for the minister’s post.

Likewise the national president of the Janata Dal (S) H.D. Deva Gowda will decide who of their two legislators will become a Minister.

Even though they have one legislator and are a full fledged ally of the Left, the Loktantrik Janata Dal (S) is the only one who failed to get a cabinet post.

Another unlucky legislator is five-time winner Kovoor Kunjumon. Though his faction of the RSP is not an ally, he has been a fellow traveller of the Left after coming out of the RSP faction which is presently in the Congress led Opposition. He also failed to get any post.

The CPI-M and the CPI are busy finalizing their ministers and are expected to announce the names in a day or two. Indications are barring K.K. Shailaja — the outgoing popular Health Minister, all will be new faces. All eyes are on P.A. Mohammed Riyaz on whether he will find a slot in the CPI-M list.

Riyaz, the All India president of the DYFI (the youth wing of the CPI-M), is the son-in-law of Vijayan. He married Vijayan’s daughter Veena Vijayan last year. It was the second marriage of both.

While the Speaker’s post will be taken by the CPI-M, the deputy speaker will go to the CPI.

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PM Narendra Modi condoles demise of DPIIT Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday expressed grief over the demise of Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

Odisha-born Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Mohapatra succumbed to Covid-19 on Saturday. Mohapatra was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Delhi where he took his last breath.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said: “Saddened by the demise of Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra, DPIIT Secretary. I had worked with him extensively in Gujarat and at the Centre. He had a great understanding of administrative issues and was known for his innovative zeal. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal also expressed his condolences over the demise of Mohapatra through Twitter, saying “extremely saddened to hear about the loss of Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary DPIIT. His long-standing service and dedication to the Nation have left a lasting impact. I convey my deepest sympathies to his family and friends”.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also took to Twitter to express his deep condolence. “A pioneer, he made unparalleled contributions in reforming the urban development landscape in Gujarat, led many public enterprises with distinction and also steered the commerce & aviation sector,” Pradhan tweeted.

The 1986 batch IAS officer, Mohapatra had assumed charge as the secretary of the DPIIT in August 2019.

Before taking over as the secretary of DPIIT, he had served as the chairman of the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Mohapatra had also served as a joint secretary in the Department of Commerce, where he worked for the promotion of special economic zones (SEZs), public procurement and project exports (financing and insurance), a statement from DPIIT had said.

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PM Narendra Modi may hold all-party meet on Jammu and Kashmir next week

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to hold an all-party meeting on Jammu and Kashmir next week, a first such move taken since the abrogation of Article 370 from the region and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories in August 2019, sources said.

However, the schedule is not yet fixed, it is learnt that the meeting may occur any time next week.

The meeting will be held in Delhi as the central government wanted to restart the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir which was bifurcated into two UTs — Jammu and Kashmir with an assembly and Ladakh without one.

Regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir may also agree to participate in the Delimitation Commission proceedings. The commission was set up in March 2020 to redraw the constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir before the next assembly elections are held.

However, the National Conference (NC), one of the oldest parties in Jammu and Kashmir, may not join the meeting as it is adamant on the restoration of the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.

Public representatives may also be the part of the meeting.

The development comes following a meeting taken by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday in Delhi to review ongoing welfare programs in Jammu and Kashmir in order to bring development with transparency in the region.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other top officials attended Shah’s meeting on Friday.

In a statement, the home ministry said that all-around development and welfare of people of Jammu and Kashmir is the government’s top priority. Shah congratulated Sinha and his team for ensuring the Covid-19 vaccination drive has reached 76 per cent of the target in the Union Territory and 100 per cent in four districts.

The statement said Shah asked authorities to ensure the farmers in the region get the benefits of the central schemes.

Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government since chief minister Mehbooba Mufti lost power when the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew support to the People’s Democratic Party-led government in June 2018.

Mufti and two other former chief ministers were among hundreds of people arrested in the run-up to the nullification of the Constitution’s Article 370 that stripped Jammu & Kashmir of its special status. A communications blackout and a lockdown were also imposed to stem protests against the move. All the restrictions have since been removed.

The first major electoral exercise –District Development Council polls — was held in the region as part of efforts to restart political activities in Jammu and Kashmir last year. All major political parties participated in the exercise. The parties have also shown willingness to engage with the Centre.

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spoke to Sachin Pilot: Ajay Maken

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Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has spoken to Sachin Pilot, party leader Ajay Maken said this on Friday dispelling rumours that ‘no leader was engaging with Pilot’.

Sources have said that party interim President Sonia Gandhi ‘is likely to intervene’ to resolve the deadlock between the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Pilot.

Ajay Maken Congress General Secretary In-charge of Rajasthan said, “Priyanka Gandhiji and I have spoken to Sachin Pilotji. As he is senior leader of the party and asset, so it’s impossible if he seeks appointment he will be denied, K.C. Venugopal has also spoken to him.”

The MLAs and the Pilot camp in particular have been pressurizing the Congress leadership for cabinet expansion and appointments in board and corporations in Rajasthan. They allege all this is being stalled by the Chief Minister’s camp.

Pilot was in Delhi last week and even toured Uttarakhand to meet his supporters where he attacked the BJP.

Maken had said last week, “Vacant positions in the cabinet, boards and commissions would be filled soon and we are in talks with all.”

He said that all other pending issues will also be taken up.

When asked if senior party leader Sachin Pilot is angry, the former Union Minister said, “I am speaking to Pilotji on a regular basis. If he would have been angry, he would not be speaking to me.”

Pilot has raked up the issue of non-resolution of commitments made to him.

“It has now been 10 months. I was given to understand that there would be swift action by the committee, but now half of the term is done, and those issues haven’t been resolved. It is unfortunate that so many of the party workers who worked and gave their all for getting us the mandate are not being heard,” Pilot had said.

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