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Sunday,19-September-2021

National News

Rajasthan civic polls: CM Ashok Gehlot, LS Speaker Birla’s image at stake

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The image of many senior leaders including Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekahwat and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla is at stake in the Rajasthan municipal polls scheduled to be held in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota on October 29 and November 1 for six corporations, two in each district.

Although the polls are local, the campaigning by national leaders have made them quite interesting, enhancing their significance and stature.

The first interesting fight is in Jodhpur which is represented by Gehlot and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. While Gehlot is MLA from Jodhpur’s Sardarpura, Shekhawat was elected as MP in the Lok Sabha polls after defeating Gehlot’s son Vaibhav who was the Congress representative.

Shekhawat has a strong presence on the ground during campaigning, however the absence of Gehlot during the poll campaigning has created a political buzz in the desert state.

All eyes are set to see if the local elections repeat the Lok Sabha story and if the saffron flag flies over two corporations here.

Gehlot has cancelled all his meetings after many people tested COVID positive in CMO and CMR. However, he has been attending video conferences to ensure things go smoothly in the state and his son Vaibhav Gehlot is handling matters in Jodhpur.

There were reports of infighting coming in from Jodhpur which Gehlot tried to placate while being in Jaipur. However his absence on the ground and Shekhawat’s strong presence are being discussed widely in the political corridors as Shekhawat is openly announcing that CM has “avenged” the defeat of his son by ignoring Jodhpur.

Municipal polls in Kota are also going to be interesting as the district is represented by Lok Speaker Birla who has a clean image in the city. Anti-incumbency against state minister Shanti Dhariwal who represents Kota is yet another key issue in the polls.

Dhariwal did not visit his home constituency when hundreds of children died in the JK Lon hospital last winter. Also, he was not seen many times here during the COVID crisis which is being discussed at length.

In Jaipur, there is a clash between two newly-appointed state presidents of Congress and BJP.

Congress PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasara is a one-man army as all PCC boards were dissolved in July after former PCC chief and Deputy CM Sachin pilot revolted against CM Gehlot. Internal factions definitely pose bigger challenges to him but the man remains confident of winning all six corporations in three districts.

“We will win all six corporations,” he says with confidence, adding “It hardly matters if there are PCC chiefs in each district or not. We have a strong team of workers who are working day and night to bring in wins for the party,” he adds.

Meanwhile BJP’s new state president Satish Poonia’s image is equally at stake with a strong faction led by former CM Vasundhara Raje maintaining a fair distance from the party office and poll preparedness. Infighting is at its peak and Poonia can be seen maintaining a balance to come out successful in this litmus test.

“Congress stands synonymous with corruption and anarchy in the state. In the last 20 months, the Congress government has ruined law and order. All promises made to the people are being flouted openly. The depressed voter is hence waiting for his turn to teach a lesson to this party. We shall win all six corporation polls,” he said.

National News

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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