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Wednesday,08-December-2021

National News

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh meets Sidhu, sets up panel for coordination ahead of polls

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Projecting a united face just months ahead of the Assembly polls in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and once his bete noire Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday met at the former’s residence near here in a cordial atmosphere and later shared their photos of ‘close proximity’.

To ensure better coordination between the ruling party and the state government, and to further expedite the implementation of the government programmes and reform initiatives, the Chief Minister and state Congress president Sidhu on Friday agreed to set up a 10-member ‘Strategic Policy Group’, a spokesperson for the Chief Minister told IANS.

To be headed by the Chief Minister, the group will have Local Government Minister Brahm Mohindra, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Social Security Minister Aruna Chaudhary as members, along with Sidhu, the four party working presidents — Kuljit Singh Nagra, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Sangat Singh Gilzian and Pawan Goel, besides Pargat Singh.

He said the decision was taken this morning when Sidhu, along with Nagra and Pargat, called on the Chief Minister to discuss Punjab related issues and steps to strengthen party-government coordination.

The group will hold weekly meetings, in consultation with other ministers, experts, etc., as may be required. It will discuss and review the progress of the various state government initiatives already under implementation, and will also suggest measures to expedite the same.

In another decision, Amarinder Singh has also assigned his Cabinet colleagues the task of being available in Punjab Congress Bhawan every day, by rotation, for meetings with MLAs and other party functionaries to discuss issues relating to their constituencies and areas and address any grievances.

One minister each will be available at the Congress Bhawan from Monday for three hours (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and in any case the minister deputed for a particular day is unable to make it for some reason, he/she shall arrange for a substitute in consultation with any other minister.

The arrangement will be in place five days in a week, from Monday to Friday, said the Chief Minister, adding that this will help in better coordination between his government and party functionaries in the run-up to the 2022 Assembly elections.

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Sonia Gandhi accuses Centre of being ‘insensitive’ towards farmers

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Sonia Gandhi. (File Photo: IANS)

 Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday accused the Centre of being “insensitive” towards the farmers, adding that the farm laws were repealed in an “undemocratic” manner.

While addressing the Congress Parliamentary party meeting, she paid homage to the 700 farmers who lost their lives during their protest against the farm laws. Rahul Gandhi was also present at the meeting.

Extending unconditional support to farmers demand of legally guaranteed MSP, she called upon the party members to honour the farmers who died during the protest.

Notably, the Congress has been demanding appropriate compensation to the families of victim farmers. Party MP Rahul Gandhi recently placed a list of the dead farmer protesters in the Lok Sabha.

The Opposition has been demanding a detailed discussion on the border situation in Parliament but the Centre is avoiding it, Sonia Gandhi alleged.

Terming suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs “unprecedented and unacceptable”, the veteran leader said the party stands in solidarity with them.

Demanding revocation of the suspension order, Sonia said the Centre will have to reinstate them.

The Modi government is also being accused of selling the country’s assets to recover its economic losses.

On Tuesday, while interacting with the media, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said that MPs were suspended for the entire Winter session for an act which took place in the Monsoon session. If the Centre does not revoke the suspension, the Opposition will resort to a hunger strike.

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‘Red is colour of change’, Akhilesh hits back at Modi

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Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Lal Topi” comment, saying that the colour of the cap has reached Delhi and hence the panic has engulfed the BJP’s rank and file.

Akhilesh Yadav spoke to IANS on several issues, including the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls due early next year.

Q. Prime Minister Modi has said that you people yearn for only power. What is your reaction?

A. Red colour symbolises revolution, a change. This is also the colour of emotions. BJP does not understand sentiments. Red colour is the most vibrant colour and warns the party in power to be careful. The people of Uttar Pradesh want a change. The brightness of Lal Topi has reached Delhi, so the language of the BJP has also changed as they are panicky. Changes are bound to happen in the state.

Q. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been taking a dig at the red colour cap and now the Prime Minister has also targeted you.

A. This must have happened for the first time that the Prime Minister has spoken the language of the Chief Minister by rote.

Q. You are continuously claiming to win the upcoming elections, but the BJP is saying that they have defeated you three times in a row — in 2014, 2017 and 2019.

A. Circumstances have changed now. This time, BJP is nervous — farmers, youth, traders and people of the state will show them their real power.

Q. The PM is constantly laying foundation stones and inaugurating events in Uttar Pradesh, what do you have to say?

A. The advertisements they are putting out are false, their development claims are false. They stole a picture of Bengal, of America and of China. Their development claims are hollow.

Q. How many seats are you going to win?

A. The BJP will be wiped out from the state.

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SKM to hold crucial meet today on ending year-long protest

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Various farmer organisations under the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) are likely to make a major announcement on their year-long agitation after a meeting on Wednesday. The SKM is also likely to meet union ministers.

Sources say that as soon as a clarification is received on the proposal related to several critical demands sent by the union government, the farmers will end the protest.

A five-member committee of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) held an emergency meeting on Wednesday morning before the crucial meeting at 2 p.m.

It is expected that before making a major announcement, the SKM will hold consultations with other farmer groups on ending the year-long agitation.

Farmers have demanded withdrawal of the cases registered against them. They said, they will announce end of the protest after government fulfils all their demands.

The Union government has asked farm leaders to get back on the proposal which said, the farmers end the agitation first and then withdrawal of cases will be considered.

After repealing all three farm laws, the SKM has put forth several other demands before the union government, of which most of them have been accepted.

The government wants farmers to end the protest before the assembly elections in Punjab next year. This is the reason the Union Home Ministry sent a draft proposal to the SKM on Tuesday.

Farmers have been demanding apart from repeal of farm laws, compensation to all who died during the agitation, legal guarantee on minimum support price and withdrawal of cases against all farmers.

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