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Tuesday,28-September-2021

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Pinarayi Vijayan to take oath on May 20, cabinet still not clear

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (File Photo: IANS)

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will finally take oath of office on May 20, when Governor Arif Mohammed Khan will read out the oath, but what’s yet to emerge is the composition of the cabinet.

When asked about this, Vijayan said, yes, talks are going on as the meeting of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is fixed for next week and after that, the decision will be made.

The swearing in has been fixed to be held outdoors at the Central Stadium, a stone’s throw from the seat of power of the State Secretariat and with Covid protocols in force, the maximum number of people who will be allowed to grace the occasion is 750.

With a week more left for the event, the last minute talks are going on and the only person who is keeping all the cards close to his chest is Vijayan, as he has now become the last word in the LDF, as he created history by becoming the first to retain power.

Vijayan is still undecided on the total number, as according to the rules including the CM’s post he can have a maximum of 21 ministers.

However in 2016 to set a mark of austerity, he decided to have 20, but this time he is in a quandary as in the 140 member assembly the LDF has won 99 seats.

In the outgoing Vijayan cabinet the CPI-M had 12 ministers and the Chief Minister’s post, the second biggest ally CPI had four and one each for Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress (S) and Janata Dal (S).

However this time the Left has given full fledged ally status to Kerala Congress (B), Indian National League (INL) besides two new allies who jumped the fence from the Congress led Opposition – Kerala Congress (Mani) and Loktantrik, Janata Dal.

Then there is Kovoor Kunjumon who has been a fellow traveller of the Left ever since he came from the UDF, ahead of the 2016 assembly polls and this time he won his fifth straight election.

A media critic on condition of anonymity said no doubt it will be Vijayan who will be the deciding factor.

“So it remains to be seen how many of the single legislator ally of the LDF will get cabinet post. Here too there are some qualifications which come into play especially with regard to the caste, creed and community and hence single legislator allies like K.B. Ganesh Kumar (Hindu Nair) Antony Raju (Latin Church) and Ahmed Devarkoil (Muslim – INL), all could end up as ministers. But here too it will be Vijayan’s call and with a huge majority, if he decides to leave anyone, there can be no protest at all,” said the critic.

Even though the first round of talks with all the allies have been completed by Vijayan, Kerala Congress (Mani) with five legislators is hopeful that they might get 2 cabinet ministers, but though it has already been shot down by Vijayan, they are expecting to get one of the two other posts with cabinet status, which includes, Chief Whip or Deputy Speaker, while the Speaker’s post goes for the CPI-M.

Vijayan is also the final word when it comes to selecting legislators from the CPI-M and by now cries have come that K.K. Shailaja, the Health Minister in the outgoing cabinet who won with the biggest margin of over 60,000 votes, be made the deputy chief minister.

But all those who know Vijayan, knows well that this will only be wishful thinking as in his scheme of things, it’s he who is final word and does not want a successor to him, at the moment.

National News

Navjot Sidhu reigns as Punjab Congress chief

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 Unhappy over the first expansion of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s cabinet, state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday resigned from his post. But he said he would continue in the party.

He announced his resignation on his Twitter handle in just an hour after Channi announced allocation of portfolios to his Cabinet colleagues.

In a letter to party President Sonia Gandhi, he wrote, “The collapse of a man’s character stems from the compromise corner, I can never compromise on Punjab’s future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab.”

“Therefore, I hereby resign as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress,” he added.

It is learnt that Sidhu was upset over the non-inclusion of the MLAs of his choice in the expanded Cabinet and the appointment of new Advocate General, A.P.S. Deol.

On Sidhu’s resignation, former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted, “I told you so… he is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab.”

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‘Upset’ Amarinder likely to meet Shah, his office denies

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 Less than a fortnight after he was ‘unceremoniously’ asked to quit as the Punjab Chief Minister in the run-up to the Assembly polls, Congress veteran Amarinder Singh is likely to meet Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah in Delhi late Tuesday evening.

The former Chief Minister is also likely to meet Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President J.P. Nadda, sources said.

However, Amarinder Singh’s media advisor denied his meeting with the BJP leaders, saying he’s on a personal visit to Delhi to meet some friends.

“Too much being read into @capt_amarinder’s visit to Delhi. He’s on a personal visit, during which he’ll meet some friends and also vacate Kapurthala house for the new CM. No need for any unnecessary speculation,” Thukral informed in a tweet.

The proposed meeting seems crucial as Amarinder Singh has been saying that he stepped down as he felt ‘humiliated’.

At the same time, he said the “future politics option is always there” and he will use that option.

Speculations are rife that Amarinder Singh is likely to join the BJP.

After his resignation, Amarinder Singh said he had offered his resignation to party President Sonia Gandhi three weeks earlier but she had asked him to continue. “If she had just called me and asked me to step down, I would have,” he said, adding that “as a soldier, I know how to do my task and leave once I am called back”.

He had said he had even told Sonia Gandhi that he was ready to hang his boots and allow someone else to take over as the Chief Minister after leading the Congress to another sweeping win in Punjab. “But that did not happen, so I will fight,” he asserted, taking strong exception to being subjected to humiliation by calling a Congress Legislative Party meeting in a secretive manner, without taking him into confidence.

“I would not have taken MLAs on a flight to Goa or some place. That is not how I operate. I don’t do gimmicks, and the Gandhi siblings know that is not my way,” he had said, adding, “Priyanka and Rahul (Gandhi siblings) are like my children, this should not have ended like this. I am hurt.”

He said the Gandhi children were quite inexperienced and their advisors were clearly misguiding them.

Indicating that he was still keeping his political options open, the former Chief Minister had said he was talking to his friends before deciding on his future course of action.

After his resignation and political tussle, Charanjit Singh Channi, a Scheduled Caste Sikh, took oath of office on September 20 along with his two deputies — one a Jat Sikh and another belonging to the Hindu community.

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and O.P. Soni, both ministers in previous Council of Ministers led by Amarinder Singh, took oath for the posts of the Deputy Chief Ministers.

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National News

PM should think of problems being faced by farmers: Congress

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 Amid the Bharat Bandh, the Congress, which has extended its support to the agitating farmers, has said the Prime Minister should think about the problems being faced by the farmers, especially now when the input costs have increased, and not about the ‘billionaire friends for whom the farm laws were brought.

Pawan Khera, while addressing a press conference on Monday said, “The government has tried to deligitimise the farmers and made all efforts to demean the farmers and every citizen should come out and support them.”

The Congress alleged that ‘the Prime Minister was using diversionary tactics in elections, and he doesn’t have time to talk to farmers’.

Former Chief Minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda demanded that the government should talk to the farmers without any conditions.

Rahul Gandhi in a tweet in Hindi said, “The farmers non violent satyagraha is intact today but the exploitive government doesn’t like this and that is why #Bharat is Bandh #IStandWithFarmers.”

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted in Hindi, “Farm of the farmer, hard work of the farmer, crop of the farmer. However, the BJP government is eager to let its billionaire friends capture them. Take back the black laws.”

Farmers on the call of Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Monday observed a shutdown. They blocked major highways, including National Highway 1 linking Delhi with parts of Haryana and Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and railway tracks in some states.

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