“As far as Ajit Jogi is concerned, he is a Congress Working Committee member and only Congress President can take action against him. After going through the report of the state unit into this matter, the AICC Disciplinary Committee headed by A K Antony will take a call on action about Ajit Jogi,” he said.
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The party also attacked the Prime Minister on the issue from the official AICC podium.
In a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for walking past the guard of honour while Indian national Anthem was being played in Moscow, the Congress on Thursday said he has “forgotten” what it sounds like due to his frequent foreign visits and the nation was “deeply hurt” over the “unprecedented” incident. “Modi signs on National Flag and violates Flag Code. Now walks away when Indian National Anthem is being played in Russia. Unprecedented! “Nationalism BJP/Modi “Ishtyle”. Any comments from Modi Acolytes?,” AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said on Twitter,”Spending so much time abroad seems to have made PM forget what the Indian National Anthem sounds like. He walked in Moscow as Anthem played!” Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said it was “sad that Russians had to remind Modi that he has to respect his anthem. Bhakts got much to say?”Also read: PM Narendra Modi walks during national anthem upon his arrival in MoscowThe party also attacked the Prime Minister on the issue from the official AICC podium. “Finally, the nation is shocked and deeply hurt at what we see on television the PM walking away while the national anthem was being played in Moscow. “These are matters of grave national sensitivities and we believe particularly that when the Prime Minister abroad represents the whole nation, these sensitivities must always be respected,” party spokesperson and former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said at the Congress briefing.In an unusual incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had yesterday begun to walk past the guard of honour presented on his arrival in Moscow for a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin even while the national anthem was still being played and had to be pulled back by a Russian official. After the Prime Minister stepped onto the tarmac, a Russian official made a gesture with his hand which appeared Modi misinterpreted and started walking. However, another official stopped Modi from walking following which he stepped back and stood in attention.
The Congress sources said it would be a show of strength to express solidarity with the party leadership and register protest against senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy’s attempts to implicate its leaders with the charge of usurping properties of the defunct newspaper National Herald in Delhi and eight other cities.
Sonia Gandhi and other Congress leaders after submitting a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee demanding removal of Arunachal governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa
The Congress is planning a grand show on Saturday, when Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi and five other leaders are appearing before a magistrate’s court here in the National Herald case. They party has summoned all its chief ministers, state party presidents and MPs to the AICC headquarters at 24 Akbar Road here on Saturday for a likely march along with leaders to the Patiala Courts.The Congress sources said it would be a show of strength to express solidarity with the party leadership and register protest against senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy’s attempts to implicate its leaders with the charge of usurping properties of the defunct newspaper National Herald in Delhi and eight other cities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As a strategy, Rahul has decided not to offer bail or sign a security bond as he prefers to be sent to judicial custody. Though, earlier it was decided that Sonia will file for a bail bond because of her fragile health along with 86-year old treasurer Motilal Vora, party sources said, Congress president may also opt for jail to secure a sympathy for ‘victimisation by the ruling BJP and the Modi government’. They said Sonia and Rahul were taking a cue from former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi whose political fortunes resurrected following her arrest in 1977 after losing the elections.
Punjab Congress chief Pratap Singh Bajwa and state CLP leader Sunil Jakhar resigned on Thursday, amid suggestions that former chief minister Amarinder Singh may become the new state unit chief.
Punjab Congress chief Pratap Singh Bajwa and state CLP leader Sunil Jakhar resigned on Thursday, amid suggestions that former chief minister Amarinder Singh may become the new state unit chief.Assembly polls in Punjab are scheduled in 2017 and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has held a series of consultations in the past few months on how best to tone up the organisation in the state where its prospects appeared to be bright.AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed said that Bajwa and Jakhar have tendered their resignation to party chief Sonia Gandhi and she has accepted the resignations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahmed who is in-charge of party affairs in Punjab did not specify when the reconstitution of the PCC will take place, but the talk in party circles was that it could happen in a couple of days.Reports had it that Amarinder Singh, a former Chief Minister, looked set to become the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief.Last week Rahul Gandhi had led a delegation of party leaders from Punjab, including Amarinder and Bajwa, to President Pranab Mukherjee to project unity in the state unit.Amarinder and Bajwa have been at loggerheads for long.In the last Assembly polls, Gandhi had projected Amarinder as the Chief Ministerial candidate.Congress, however, failed to succeed in the polls with AICC later putting the blame to the “overconfidence” of the Amritsar MP.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Chairperson Ashish Bahuguna said no approval or licence has been granted to Patanjali for its instant noodles
Taking a dig at Yoga guru Ramdev, Congress on Wednesday said that he has developed a new asana called “Noodle Asana” which allows him to produce noodles without any regulation.The remarks made by party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi came in the wake of reports that the instant noodles brand launched by Ramdev has not obtained mandatory product approvals from the Food Safety and Regulatory Authority of India. “There is a new asana – Noodle Asana….The power of Noodle Asana: You automatically produce noodles without any regulation. This asana allows you to avoid all law,” he said at the AICC briefing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even though the Patanjali Atta Noodles packets display an FSSAI licence number, Central food safety regulator said that yoga guru Baba Ramdev-promoted FMCG venture did not have approval for its newly-launched instant noodles. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Chairperson Ashish Bahuguna said no approval or licence has been granted to Patanjali for its instant noodles. Singhvi further attacked Ramdev, saying that everyone should learn this “powerful” asana as it has magical powers to break all laws with impunity.
Reacting to the terror attacks in Paris on Friday killing 129 people, Aiyar had said that “the anti-Islam phobia that is being carried out in the western countries should be stopped immediately.”
“We do not want to associate with Mani Shankar Aiyar’s statements,” said Congress
Congress on Monday disassociated itself from party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s statement in the wake of the Paris terror attacks even as it demanded “immediate removal” of Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan for his controversial remarks on the strikes. Congress’ senior spokesperson Ajay Maken also demanded that Union minister VK Singh be removed from the council of ministers for his remarks that the debate over intolerance was an “unnecessary” creation of very imaginative minds being “paid with a lot of money”. “We do not want to associate with Mani Shankar Aiyar. He should make statements after careful consideration. In no way, you can justify… It was an inhuman action in which so many people have been killed,” Maken said at the AICC briefing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to the terror attacks in Paris on Friday killing 129 people, Aiyar had said that “the anti-Islam phobia that is being carried out in the western countries should be stopped immediately. The Muslims living in France should be provided with the assurance that they are also citizens of the country.” In addition to expressing remorse, Aiyar said, “we should also think that why this situation has raised?” Slamming UP minister Khan for his remarks that the “superpowers” should think whether it was a “reaction” to the “killing of innocents” in Arab countries, Maken said, Khan gives himself “tough competition in making senseless remarks again and again”.Criticising Union minister Singh, the Congress spokesman said, “We want to ask Singh whether he considered the President, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan or the Dalai Lama who have raised questions with regard to this atmosphere of intolerance as ‘paid’?”Maken said though the Union minister was in BJP and the UP minister in Samajwadi Party, they represented “blatant mainstreaming of the fringe that has happened in recent months”. Making a strong pitch for immediate removal of Singh and Khan, he said both of them are “very important” ministers and this was not for the first time that they have made controversial comments.Noting BJP claims “it is the voice of fringe elements” when confronted with controversial statements of leaders like Singh, the Congress leader said, “And if they are fringe voices, then they are continuously allowed to speak in this manner and no action is being taken against them. Then gradually, they are becoming the mainstream voices. Gradually they are becoming the main voices of the party.” Claiming that both BJP and SP are “complementary” to each other in politics, he said both are attempting to “hoodwink” the country.
“…There is policy paralysis, decision paralysis and delegation paralysis in the country. We hope that sane advice of Margdarshak Mandal will be heard to reform the ‘Chaal, Chehra and Charitra’ by PM Modi, Shri Amit Shah and the coterie,” he said.
The statement of BJP veterans attacking the party leadership tonight over the Bihar poll debacle led rival parties to say their “suffocation” in the party is out in the open and that it was an “eyeopener” for its top brass.Head of AICC Communications department Randeep Surjewala said suffocation of BJP s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ reaffirms what the entire country knew all along and that it is out in the open. He said the nation is caught up in a personality cult where one individual has become bigger than 125 crore people.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “…There is policy paralysis, decision paralysis and delegation paralysis in the country. We hope that sane advice of Margdarshak Mandal will be heard to reform the ‘Chaal, Chehra and Charitra’ by PM Modi, Shri Amit Shah and the coterie,” he said. JD-U General Secretary K C Tyagi said the statement is an eye-opener for BJP’s present leadership. “They(the ‘Margdarshak Mandal’) members are founder members of BJP. We had with them for so long. When there is no democracy in the party, how can there be democracy, how will there be democracy in the country. We extend full support to the Margdarshak Mandal, which has now been reduced to Mookdarshkar Mandal.”Congress senior spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the BJP can abuse them, but hoped they will not abuse its own Mardarshak Mandal unless they have now become a thorn in their flesh. “You can abuse us all day and night, but please pay attention to those who you call the Margdarshak Mandal and the leader of whom you call yesterday the person from whom you learnt the most,” he said. Taking a swipe at the rumblings in BJP, former union minister P Chidambaram said the country was seeing “the first fireworks” on the eve of Diwali. “On the eve of Diwali, we are witnessing the first fireworks. No surprises there,” he tweeted. Another Congress leader Manish Tewari said it is no secret that Advani and company has been waiting for an opportunity to air their resentment.CPI leader D Raja said this shows that there is a big trouble within the BJP on the debacle of Bihar election and went to the extent of saying that BJP is resorting to destruction and self-destruction in the name of attributing their own reasons for the debacle in Bihar. Union Minister Babul Suprio, however, said, the dressing room talk should not have come out in the open. Not speaking as a Minister but as a ‘BJP fan’, he said “everyone should sit together and present a united face”.
CP Joshi’s remarks have come at a time when Congress leaders are losing no time in crediting Rahul for the victory after the spectacular win of the Nitish Kumar-led coalition in Bihar.
Party leaders say it is for party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul to decide on the issue.
Congress workers feel that time has come for Rahul Gandhi to take over as Congress president in the wake of its improved showing in the Bihar polls, party General Secretary C P Joshi said on Monday.Joshi, who is in-charge of party affairs in the state, also insisted that the victory of the grand secular alliance over the NDA led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have “far reaching ramifications both nationally and internationally”.”Feeling of Congress workers now is that Rahul Gandhi should take over as party president,” he told reporters at the AICC briefing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hailing the Congress Vice President as the “architect” (sutradhar) of the grand alliance, Joshi suggested that Gandhi played a key role in cobbling up the tie-up for the crucial polls. He said while JD-U leader Nitish Kumar provided leadership to it, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad gave it strength.Joshi’s remarks have come at a time when Congress leaders are losing no time in crediting Rahul for the victory after the spectacular win of the Nitish Kumar-led coalition in Bihar. While Nitish is the architect of the victory in Bihar, Rahul is the architect of the alliance, is the refrain being heard in the Congress.Another party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed has already insisted that the grand alliance could not have been possible but for the effective role played Rahul. Leaders recall that it was Rahul who brought Nitish and Lalu Prasad together and played a key role of catalyst at a time when the RJD supremo was having reservations. The victory in Bihar is also being talked about as a good timing for Rahul to take over as party chief.Party leaders say it is for party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul to decide on the issue. There was much talk that an AICC session could be held this month itself. Bihar is the first state where Congress has done well after a long time — the last major victory being the Karnataka assembly polls where it defeated the BJP.Replying to a question, Joshi said that the victory of the grand alliance would have “far reaching ramifications, both nationally and internationally” as the whole world was watching the polls after the Prime Minister’s visits to several countries to seek investment.
Talking to reporters along with AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed, Bajwa alleged involvement of the agencies of the SAD-BJP government in the state in the incident.
Sikh groups during protest against alleged discretion of religious book in Jalandhar on Monday.
Congress on Monday demanded imposition of President’s rule in Punjab contending that law and order has completely broken down in the wake of recent incident of desecration of the holy book of the Sikhs.State PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa said at the AICC briefing that the Centre should also constitute a time-bound inquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge to identify and bring to book the culprits in one month.Talking to reporters along with AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed, Bajwa alleged involvement of the agencies of the SAD-BJP government in the state in the incident.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our charge is that this act has been done at the instance of the state government. State government and the agencies of the State are involved. It is a very serious charge,” he said.Bajwa also wanted resignation of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, who is also the home minister of the state.”Today once again the peace of Punjab is at stake. Immediately central government should intervene in the matter and President Rule should be imposed under Article 356 of the Constitution of India,” he said.Ahmed and Bajwa appealed for calm in the state. The PCC chief demanded that the families of the two protestors who died in police firing be given Rs 35 lakh as compensation and government job.
Amid the political row over the lynching of a man over rumoured beef eating in Dadri, Congress leader Digvijay Singh today said that his party will “consider” supporting a central law for a nation-wide ban on cow slaughter. “If they bring a central legislation, we shall consider it,” the Congress general secretary said when asked if he would back a central law banning cow slaughter across the country. Singh said that such a ban was there in 24 of the 29 states of the country long before BJP came to power. To a question on whether Kerala, where Congress leads a coalition with other parties like Muslim League, would also enact a law to this effect, he said it was upto the states to take the lead in the matter. “I am a Hindu and I don’t eat beef but I don’t impose my will on the others. At the same time, we want that it is a state subject. Let the states take the lead,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Party spokesman R P N Singh, when asked about Digvijay Singh’s remarks, steered clear of the issue. “Digvijay Singhji is a senior leader. I don’t want to make any comment on his remarks,” he said.At the AICC briefing, senior leader Pramod Tiwari also declined to comment saying there was a ban on cow slaughter in 25 of the 29 states and there was need to enforce the law strictly. On the controversial remarks of Lalu Prasad that Hindus also consume beef, Tiwari said that it was better if the question was posed to the RJD chief himself. Digvijay Singh, when asked about Lalu’s remarks, said he has been misquoted as he is a Yadav who are known protectors of cows.”I think Lalu Yadav was misquoted. The fact remains that he is a Yadav. Yadavs are people who have protected the cow, how can he be against the cow. It is being misled. Yadavs are the people who are protectors of cow,” he said.
Describing the killing of a fisherman off the Gujarat coast as “despicable and unprecedented”, Congress on Friday slammed the Centre for “failing to act decisively” in spite of repeated land and sea “transgressions by Pakistan”.
Describing the killing of a fisherman off the Gujarat coast as “despicable and unprecedented”, Congress on Friday slammed the Centre for “failing to act decisively” in spite of repeated land and sea “transgressions by Pakistan”.”The killing of Gujarat fisherman in broad daylight by Pakistani forces is despicable and unprecedented… It is appalling that even after repeated land and sea transgressions by Pakistan, (the) government has failed to act decisively,” senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said in a series of tweets. Shakeel Ahmed, who is the political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and hails from Gujarat, said he had written to the Centre three months ago underlining the urgent need to strengthen Gujarat’s coastal security but “there was no response”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the AICC briefing, Congress General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed too targeted the government on the issue. “The Prime Minister will be well advised to give an account to the people of India as to why after more than 900 ceasefire violations from Pakistan where scores of civilians have died, Pakistan is blatantly killing Indian fishermen near Dwarka in Gujarat,” Shakeel Ahmed said.The fisherman, identified as 40-year-old Iqbal, was killed in firing from an unidentified boat on his fishing vessel near the International Maritime Boundary Line off the Gujarat coast this morning, with the local fishermen association blaming the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency for the attack.
Describing children as the country’s future, Gandhi said the chief minister is not bothered about the future of the state though there is no dearth of funds in Odisha.
Taking a jibe at Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for spurt in infant deaths at Sishu Bhavan here, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the state government “lacks focus” on key sectors like health care and education. “I found the doctors are working sincerely and there is no shortcoming on their part. However, what is lacking is the state government’s focus on health care and educaton. The chief minister is indifferent towards these sectors and state’s future,” Gandhi said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The AICC vice president was speaking to media after visiting Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Paediatrics, popularly known as Sishu Bhavan, which witnessed death of more than 60 infants in a span of 12 days last month. Describing children as the country’s future, Gandhi said the chief minister is not bothered about the future of the state though there is no dearth of funds in Odisha which is endowed with rich mineral resources. Observing that there should not be any difficulty in running Sishu Bhavan properly, he said the attitude of the state Government should change. “Odisha’s tragedy is played out in this hospital,” said Gandhi who spent around 30 minutes in the hospital and interacted with doctors. Maintaining that there was no politics behind his visit to the hospital as alleged by the ruling BJD in Odisha, Rahul said “I came to see for myself the state of affairs here and I thought my visit can at least put some pressure on the state Government to improve things here.” “If the state Government thinks there is politics in my visit, I am happy because it has drawn the attention of the administration to this hospital,” he said. Narrating his experience inside Sishu Bhavan, the Gandhi scion said, “I saw the spirit .. future of Odisha inside the hospital where a child was lying on bed and the mother was crying. However, the child appeared disturbed not for his health condition but for his mother’s plight.The child requested us to console the mother.” The mother and the child have every right to get better treatment and attention at the hospital so that they can return happily, said Gandhi. Refuting BJD’s claim that there was politics behind Rahul’s visit to the hospital, both PCC President Prasad Harichandan and leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra said party leader’s visit is totally humanitarian and not political. “At least Rahulji could come all the way from Delhi to see the condition of children undergoing treatment, but our chief minister didn’t find time to visit the hospital despite the serial infant deaths,” said Mishra.
AICC General Secretary Gurudas Kamat said that the party has been constantly in touch with the state leadership since the agitation over the issue of reservation broke out.
An uneasy calm prevailed in Gujarat on Thursday after two days of violence during the OBC quota stir of Patel community even as death toll rose to 10 and a defiant Hardik Patel vowed to intensify the agitation.
Congress on Thursday said it favoured a “suitable package” for the agitating Patels in Gujarat but one that does not disturb the share of other communities which get reservation under the OBC category.”We are of the view that the 27 per cent of the OBC quota decision that is being implemented for the past few decades should not be disturbed. We sympathise with the demand of the Patel community,” Congress General Secretary Gurudas Kamat told reporters here.Without disturbing communities that come under the OBC category, Kamat said a solution should be found by the government by talking to leaders of the community. Kamat, who is in-charge of party affairs in Gujarat, said the party wanted a “suitable package – economic or otherwise” so that the agitating Patel community felt satisfied.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The AICC General Secretary said that the party has been constantly in touch with the state leadership since the agitation over the issue of reservation broke out.An uneasy calm prevailed in Gujarat on Thursday after two days of violence during the OBC quota stir of Patel community even as death toll rose to 10 and a defiant Hardik Patel vowed to intensify the agitation.
“I appeal to all the people of Gujarat to cooperate in ensuring peace and harmony. Law and order must be established at the earliest,” AICC general secretary Patel, who hails from Gujarat, said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Wednesday appealed to people of Gujarat, which has been witnessing violence since last night, to cooperate in ensuring peace and harmony in the state even as he asked governing agencies to establish law and order at the earliest.”I appeal to all the people of Gujarat to cooperate in ensuring peace and harmony. Law and order must be established at the earliest,” AICC general secretary Patel, who hails from Gujarat, said on micro-blogging site Twitter.Patel is also the political secretary of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Army had to be called in to help control widespread violence sparked by quota agitation by Patel community in Gujarat which has claimed five lives even as curfew was clamped in major cities and towns in the state. Notwithstanding appeal to people by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for maintenance of peace, police said Patel community members resorted to arson, stone pelting and vandalising public as well as private properties.Curfew has been clamped in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Mehasana, Patan, Palanpur, Unjha, Visnagar and Jamnagar.Incidents of arson and stone-pelting were reported from many parts of Surat city when Patel community members came out in large numbers to “enforce” the bandh, police said. A mob of around 1,000 people burnt two warehouses of Surat Municipal Corporation in Udhna area of the city. Bikes, buses and vehicles were burnt at many places in the city, said Surat Police Control Room officials.
In his address to the nation, the Prime Minister, while underlining India’s unity and diversity, said the poison of casteism and communal frenzy have no place and asserted that steps taken by his government in the last 15 months to deal with the “termite” of corruption had started yielding results.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi today refrained from commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, with the party vice president saying it is not a day of politics.”Today is not a day of politics. We will talk tomorrow,” he merely said, when asked by reporters on his reaction to the Prime Minister address on Independence Day.Sonia Gandhi too steered clear of any questions and merely greeted reporters on Independence Day.They were interacting with the media after the Congress President unfurled the national flag at the AICC headquarters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his address to the nation, the Prime Minister, while underlining India’s unity and diversity, said the poison of casteism and communal frenzy have no place and asserted that steps taken by his government in the last 15 months to deal with the “termite” of corruption had started yielding results.”There is a lot of talk in our country about corruption.It is like a sick person giving suggestions to others on how to remain healthy, there are people who are themselves corrupt, who give suggestions on how to deal with corruption,” he said.At the flag hoisting at AICC headquarters, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram and several party leaders including general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi, Gurudas Kamat, C P Joshi were present.After the unfurling of the flag, the Congress chief distributed sweets to children.Rahul Gandhi is leading the Congress campaign against the government on the Lalit Modi controversy and Vyapam issues in which it is seeking the resignation of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The HC also asked the Chief Secretary to look into appointments made in violation of rules and get back to it with details in January, 2016.
Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday set aside the appointment of a government sub-engineer made in violation of rules in 1997 when Congress leader Digvijay Singh was chief minister and ordered criminal proceedings against the people involved in the recruitment.A Division Bench also asked the BJP government to look into more such “unlawful appointments” in other departments in the past so that they can be identified and cancelled. The bench, hearing a PIL filed by one Mansukh Lal Saraf, however, did not refer to any specific period of review for these appointments. Singh was the MP chief minister between 1993 and 2003.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The order comes at a time when the AICC General Secretary is spearheading Congress’s campaign against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam. “The impugned appointment order (put out in 1998) issued by the respondent No.2 (department concerned) in favour of respondent No.1 (Arun Kumar Tiwari, Sub-Engineer State Water Resources Department), is quashed and set aside,” said the Bench of Chief Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice KK Trivedi.The judges asked the authorities concerned to initiate criminal proceedings against the people involved in the appointment of Tiwari. “Further direction is issued to the State of Madhya Pradesh to initiate appropriate legal action against the respondent No.1 (Tiwari) and all concerned who were instrumental in the appointment of respondent No.1 knowing fully well that it was contrary to the selection procedure prescribed by the recruitment rules,” the bench said.Further, it said that “(the order) would also result in nullifying the judgement of this court dated September 11, 1997 against the respondent No.1 quashing his regularisation on the post of Sub-Engineer in Nagar Panchayat, Mauganj, District Rewa.” The respondent (MP government) and its functionaries are directed to make all future regular appointments on the public posts strictly in conformity with recruitment rules, the judges said.The HC also asked the Chief Secretary to look into appointments made in violation of rules and get back to it with details in January, 2016.
Accompanied by Delhi PCC Chief Ajay Maken and AICC in- charge of Delhi P C Chacko, Gandhi went around the sheds where the vendors do their business but have been cramped into a smaller place as the civic authorities have taken over some of the sheds.
Reaching out to street vendors, Rahul Gandhi on Monday made a strong pitch for a fair deal to them, including better facilities, and vowed to work for their cause.Visiting the Raghubir Nagar area in West Delhi where hundreds of vendors sell lot of products, especially altered clothes, the Congress Vice President said, “The vendors called me complaining about the lack of proper facilities. The poor workers here have not been given proper space in the city.” Accompanied by Delhi PCC Chief Ajay Maken and AICC in- charge of Delhi PC Chacko, Gandhi went around the sheds where the vendors do their business but have been cramped into a smaller place as the civic authorities have taken over some of the sheds.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I have heard their grievances and will take it up with the authorities,” said Gandhi. Maken said that Gandhi was instrumental in the passage of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2014 which aims to regulate street vending and protect the rights of urban street vendors.The Act also protects the street vendors from harassment by police and civic authorities, besides providing protection of livelihood rights and social security of street vendors. Leaders of the Gujarati Vaghri community, whose members are mainly the vendors, said that some 4,000 vendors do their business in the cramped space and their demand is for more space.
As #SelfieWithDaughter dominated Twitter trends and made headlines around the world, New York Times committed a gaffe of epic proportions.
All of India turned up for a father-daughter selfie on Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s demand, but as usual, Twitter has its own way of trolling everything.
The photo that surfaced on Twitter and went viral was of AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh and his girlfriend Amrita Rai, a journalist, together under the hashtag #SelfieWithDaughter. The Twitter prank was taken quite seriously by the NY Times.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, NY Times published a story, titled #SelfieWithDaughter campaign launched by Indian Prime Minister Modi a smash hit, with the prank photo of Digvijay Singh and Amrita Rai, among other tweets with #SelfieWithDaughter hashtag.
However NY Times later remover the photo from their site and published an apology with the post.
“Correction: an earlier tweet included in this article featured a satirical comment about an Indian politician seen in a photograph with his companion, not his daughter. We regret the error.”
Well, to err is human. To troll, divine.
Though the AICC has so far not made public the agenda for the meet, alleged “neglect” of the social sector by the BJP-led government and its “failure” to address the problems of farmers are some of the issues he is likely to take up in a big way at the convention.
Having repeatedly shown his aggressive side since his return from a 56-day sabbatical, Rahul Gandhi is likely to unleash a fresh assault on the Narendra Modi government at a conference of Congress Chief Minister here on Tuesday. The conclave comes at a time when the Congress Vice President has launched a sustained campaign against the NDA government over a range of issues–from the land bill to the real estate bill, from net neutrality to de-recognition of a dalit students’ body at IIT-Madras. The Congress leader, whose elevation as party chief is only a matter of time, is expected to once again target the “suit-boot ki sarkar”, particularly on the problems being faced by non-BJP states and the continuing agrarian crisis.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though the AICC has so far not made public the agenda for the meet, alleged “neglect” of the social sector by the BJP-led government and its “failure” to address the problems of farmers are some of the issues he is likely to take up in a big way at the convention. The chief ministers’ conclave is the first since Congress lost power at the Centre in May last year.Congress is in power in nine states — Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.With Assembly elections in Assam and Kerala scheduled next year, the meet would also provide an opportunity to deliberate on the strategy ahead. Sonia Gandhi, who has been at the helm of the party since 1998, had started the practice of organising conclave of its chief ministers when Congress was in opposition at the Centre. Such meets had been held at Mount Abu, Guwahati, Delhi and Srinagar. The Congress President has convened the meeting at a time when organisational elections have been delayed as also the elevation of Rahul, who was made party vice president in January 2013 at the Jaipur ‘Chintan Shivir’.While the brainstorming session in Jaipur was called to generate fresh ideas ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, its high point was the dramatic elevation of Rahul as vice president. Though the party high command has remained tightlipped about the meetings of the Congress Working Committee and AICC to facilitate Rahul’s elevation, a section of the party believes it would take place only after the Bihar assembly polls likely in September-October.The chief ministers’ meet, a senior party leader said, was likely to send out a message that it was only a matter of time before Rahul takes over.Since his return from sabbatical, Rahul has been in the forefront of Congress’ spirited assault on the Modi government with Sonia taking the back seat both in Parliament and outside.
All India Congress Committee sources said that party president Sonia Gandhi has dispatched Azad to Patna and he had already held deliberations with Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Chaudhary there.
With the issue of alliance becoming a key factor in poll-bound Bihar, Congress has rushed senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad there to hold consultations with the state leaders.All India Congress Committee sources said that party president Sonia Gandhi has dispatched Azad to Patna and he had already held deliberations with Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Chaudhary there.AICC General Secretary CP Joshi is in charge of the party affairs in Bihar, but the talks in the party is that Azad could look after the affairs in the state till the Assembly polls, scheduled by October.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A sizable section of the state Congress leaders including the PCC Chief as also AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed are backing Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial face of a secular alliance in Bihar Assembly polls. But it is said that the fate of the grouping depend upon a tie-up between JD(U) and RJD.On the other hand, RJD Vice President Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who had openly expressed his reservations against declaring Kumar’s name as the CM candidate of the alliance outraging the JDU, had appealed to Congress President Sonia Gandhi to hammer out a solution and give shape to the anti-BJP alliance in Bihar. The refrain of the AICC is that the party is in discussions with “multiple political parties to form a united alliance of secular parties against the BJP”.
The appointment is set to take place in September during the 84th session of the All India Congress Committee in Bengalur. The Congress is in power in the state. Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah will foot the bills of the high-profile two-day session.
After Rahul Gandhi’s return from his sabbatical, he led the Opposition charge against the government over issues of Land Bill and recently on One Rank One Pension issue.
Rahul Gandhi is likely to be elevated from Congress Vice President to President replacing his mother as the party chief, reports The Hindu. The appointment is set to take place in September during the 84th session of the All India Congress Committee in Bengaluru. The Congress is in power in the state. Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah will foot the bills of the high-profile two-day session. Earlier AICC sesion had taken place at Burari in New Delhi in December 2010. Many Congress leaders were of the opinion Rahul Gandhi should have been made the party President right after the Budget Session of Parliament ended.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress vice-president, was absent for the first leg of the session, after going on a break for at least two months. After his return he led the Opposition charge against the government over issues of Land Bill and recently on One Rank One Pension issue.Though some Congress members are eager that Rahul take over as the President, he is said to be interested in building “greater momentum” on their political campaign against the Modi government’s land acquisition ordinance and the agrarian crisis.For the campaign, he went to Maharashtra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Punjab to meet farmers and their families who have been affected by the agrarian distress. Rahul will now scheduled to go to West Bengal and Odisha and on the last week of June he will fly off to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, Varanasi. The party is in the middle of a membership drive, which was scheduled to have ended on May 15. The drive will be followed by a two-month process of organisational elections.Congress is in the middle of a membership drive, which is supposed to extend for another month. The organisational elections were said to end on August 15 will now end in mid-September following the AICC session in order to elect the members of the Central Working Committee. After this the election of the president will be held.Sonia Gandhi may guide the partySonia Gandhi may continue as patron but will not wish to hold an official position in the party. She has been refusing intervention sought by senior leaders, who come calling asking her to put the brakes on some of Rahul’s plans. She has been the longest serving Congress president as she took the leadership charge in March 1998.WIth agency inputs
Jayalalithaa was disqualified following her conviction in the Rs 66.66 crore disproportionate assets case by a trial court in Bengaluru on September 27.
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Even as AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa returned to power today, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the state law department is examining the judgement of the High Court which acquitted her of all charges and the government would take a decision on filing an appeal in the case after receiving the report. “Our law department is examining the judgement of Karnataka High Court. After getting the report from law department, we will decide,” Siddaramaiah told reporters here.Asked whether he has spoken to AICC in this regard, the chief minister said, “No, the High command is not at all interfering in the state matters”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jayalalithaa was disqualified following her conviction in the Rs 66.66 crore disproportionate assets case by a trial court in Bengaluru on September 27. The Karnataka High Court had subsequently acquitted her of the charges on May 11 this year. She was today sworn in for the fifth time as chief minister, nearly eight months after she was forced to quit over corruption charges.
Even though Congress leaders remained busy with the preparations for Sunday’s kisan rally planned by Sonia Gandhi, they dropped subtle hints that plans to elevate Rahul may have wait now for quite some time.
Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi after his return from Bangkok
After his 56-days unexplained sabbatical, which also raised questions on his leadership, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday returned home.Sporting t-shirt and jeans, instead of white khadi kurta, clean shaven Rahul boarded down from Thai Airways plane and drove straight to his Tuglaq lane residence, where his mother Congress president Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Vadra were awaiting him. After spending two hours at his residence, he left to 10 Janpath with all of them.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even though Congress leaders remained busy with the preparations for Sunday’s kisan rally planned by Sonia Gandhi, they dropped subtle hints that plans to elevate Rahul may have wait now for quite some time.Party spokesman PC Chacko said a Congress Working Committee will meet to discuss “all matters” only after the session ends on May 13.An AICC session is also planned soon after to approve some amendments in the Congress constitution. RPN Singh, a close aide of Rahul from Uttar Pradesh and a former union minister of state for home, dropped a clear hint that the 44-year old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is not taking the party reins any sooner from mother.Though, he returned form Bangkok on a Thai Airways flight, sources say, he had stayed in a Vipasna centre in the outskirts of Yangoon and later left to spend holidays in Europe.But nobody in Congress or even those in know in the government is on record to say certainly where the leader had disappeared and that too just before start of Parliament session.Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has convened a meeting of all party general secretaries and secretaries as also the PCC presidents of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab at the AICC headquarters here on Friday to give final touches to the kisan rally on Sunday.Reaching out to farmersRahul is in time for the farmers’ gathering at Ramlila Maidan planned in his absence by his mother. This will help Congress to recapture the lost rural votes by harping against the land acquisition ordinance and hardly any government help has come to farmers who hare facing tough time due to unseasonal rains which has destroyed their crops.
Rahul Gandhi has no issue about meeting those senior Congress leaders who have reservations about his leadership, AICC said on Thursday hours after the party Vice President returned from his nearly two-month sabbatical.
Rahul Gandhi has no issue about meeting those senior Congress leaders who have reservations about his leadership, AICC said on Thursday hours after the party Vice President returned from his nearly two-month sabbatical.Giving clear indications that a number of public engagements have been lined up for the Congress Vice President, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Rahul would be speaking to both leaders of Congress party and media whom he would tell about his vision and strategy.The party, however, refused to divulge the names of places where Rahul visited during his sabbatical saying it was “not important”. There were speculations that Rahul was in Myanmar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid talk that Rahul could be made party chief sooner than later, the party also made it known that a meeting of Congress Working Committee followed by an AICC session would be held soon.Surjewala, who is communication department in-charge of the AICC said, “Rahul ji is a very seasoned, mature leader and every congressman is always welcome to meet him. Rahul ji has always met any body who wants to meet him without inhibition”.He was asked whether Rahul would be ready to meet leaders like Amarinder Singh, Sheila Dikshit and Sandeep Dikshit who have underlined the need for continuance of Sonia Gandhi as the party chief and had expressed reservations over Rahul occupying the top slot.Replying to questions, Surjewala said Congress would intensify its agitation on the land acquisition bill issue with the farmer’s rally on April 19.”Beginning with farmer’s rally at the Ram Leela grounds, Congress will carry this fight vigorously and with utmost vigour from Parliament to small towns and villages in the country”, he said.
Congress organisational polls that would have culminated into elevation of Rahul Gandhi as next president have been deferred till second half of October-November. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) members who elect the new party president will be elected by August 15 in the first phase and by October 15 in the second phase and as such election to the post of party president will take place only after this process is completed.
Congress organisational polls that would have culminated into elevation of Rahul Gandhi as next president have been deferred till second half of October-November. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) members who elect the new party president will be elected by August 15 in the first phase and by October 15 in the second phase and as such election to the post of party president will take place only after this process is completed. Though the announcement is silent on dates for the president’s election as also on the plenary session in which the new members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) are to be elected, the publication of membership lists will now be completed on July 5 for first phase and July 24 for second phase. Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala are among the states covered in the first phase while the second phase includes the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. The elections for the first phase will be completed in just 21 days from July 10 to 31 and the second phase will begin from July 28. In the first phase, the booth committee elections will be held from July 10 to 15, block committees from July 16 to 20, DCC office-bearers and executives from July 20 to 25, and the PCC president, vice-president, treasurer and executive as also AICC members from July 26 to 31. The state returning officers are to issue identity cards to AICC members by August 15. In case of the second phase, the booth committee elections will be held from July 28 to August 14, block committees from August 20 to 31, DCCs from September 1 to 15, and PCC office-bearers and executives as also AICC members from September 21 to 30. The AICC members are to be issued the identity cards by October 15. Meanwhile, the Congress on Thursday faulted the BJP government in Haryana for “premature” release of audit report against Robert Vadra, husband of Priyanka, on land deal. Congress party dubbed the report as “half truths, innuendos and insinuations.” Its chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said the government deliberately did not reply to the queries by the Principal Accountant General to put the incontrovertible facts on record and tabled the interim report in the Assembly with an intention to harm.
“Manmohan Singh is going to come out not only clean but absolutely clean,” Kamal Nath said.
Manmohan Singh’s brother Surjit Singh Kohli on Thursday backed the former prime minister who was yesterday summoned in the coal blocks allocation scam, saying that truth will win.”The world knows that Manmohan ji is an honest man. Truth will win,” Kohli told ANI.Meanwhile, the Congress also expressed hope that Manmohan Singh would come out clean in the case.”We cannot forget what Manomhan Singh has done for the country. His honesty, integrity and transparency is known to one and all. We respect the court,” Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat told media in Dehradun.”Manmohan Singh is going to come out not only clean but absolutely clean,” Kamal Nath said.
Earlier in the day, Manmohan Singh had expressed his gratitude over the solidarity shown by the Congress Party in his hour of crisis.”I am more than pleased that Sonia ji and the AICC members came to show their solidarity,” he told reporters in Parliament.Congress president Sonia Gandhi led a solidarity march earlier in the day to Dr. Singh’s 3, Motilal Nehru residence, in the national capital, and said that the party was outraged on hearing the news of the summons being served by a court on the former Prime Minister.
She added that the Congress Party is fully behind him.A special CBI court in Delhi had summoned the former prime minister, former coal secretary P.C. Parakh, industrialist Kumar Manglam Birla and three others in the coal blocks allocation case on Wednesday.The court summoned them on alleged charges of criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. They have all been asked to appear before the court on April 8.The case pertains to the allocation of the Talabira II coal block in Odisha to M/s Hindalco in 2005, when Dr. Singh was holding the coal portfolio.
New Delhi: Congress leaders led by Sonia Gandhi on Thursday took out a march from the AICC headquarters in New Delhi to the residence of Manmohan Singh to express solidarity with the former Prime Minister, who has been summoned as accused by a court in a coal scam case.
Gandhi, CWC members, party MPs and also other office bearers met at 24 Akbar Road in New Delhi following which the Congress President led the march to the residence of Singh on 3 Motilal Nehru Marg.
Singh had on Wednesday expressed confidence that he will prove his innocence in a fair trial.
“Of course, I am upset but this is part of life. I have always said I am open for legal scrutiny…I am sure the truth will prevail and I will get a chance to put forward my case with all the facts,” Singh had said.
A special court had summoned Singh along with industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, ex-coal secretary PC Parakh and three others as accused in a case pertaining to allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 and asked them to appear before it on 8 April.
Sensing an opportunity to reach out to farmers, Congress has decided to take on the government in a big way against the land ordinance and has constituted a three-member group to fine-tune its strategy on the issue.The party will also form a Parliament Strategy group to take up the issue more effectively in Parliament when the Budget session begins.Former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, former Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and former Food Minister K V Thomas are members of the high-power group, which will try to reconcile the interests of various stakeholders while formulating the blueprint of Congress protest plan. The three leaders met Congress President Sonia Gandhi yesterday to brief her on the deliberations held so far on the issue and on how the party has to go take among people.The group has already met and discussed the issue a number of times. “It has many dimensions. We will also consult Congress Chief Ministers. This issue requires deeper examination. We have to also carry other political parties with us on the issue. We will confront the government with a consensus among the Opposition,” a senior party functionary said on the condition of anonymity. The Land Acquisition Act, a landmark legislation of UPA- II, was the brainchild of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and the party is accusing the Narendra Modi government of seeking to take the ‘heart and soul’ out of the legislation through this Ordinance.The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had on December 29 last year decided to amend the Act to bring under its purview 13 central legislations, including those relating to defence and national security, to provide higher compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement benefits to farmers whose land is being acquired.Changes were made in consent clause and some other provisions, which led to a barrage of criticism from the Opposition. Amid the combined attack of opposition parties on the issue, three senior Union Ministers– Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari met the President to explain the urgency in promulgating the ordinance on Land Acquisition before he gave his nod to it. Congress sees an opportunity in this to paint the government as “anti-farmer” and rally around other parties especially those from the Left and socialist background.The Rs 52,000 crore loan waiver before 2009 by the Congress-led UPA I government was considered a political masterstroke and is believed to have played a key role in the formation of UPA II government. There is also a view that the UPA II saw an increasing tilt towards corporates and the party lost out on its pro-poor and ‘Aam Aadmi’ image in the din of development. Ever since Congress lost power in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which saw its tally plummeting from 206 in 2009 to a mere 44, the party under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi has tried to reach out to the grassroots.At a meeting of party general secretaries called by AICC General Secretary (Organisation) Janardan Dwivedi on January 5, it was decided that the party will hold demonstrations in all states against the land bill and organise a ‘Chetna Abhiyan’ (awareness campaign) among farmers by February 15 informing them of the “dangers” of the Ordinance on the land bill. Ramesh had then briefed the party leaders on salient features of the Ordinance and also how to tell the farmers that doing away with the consent clause will have adverse affect on them in the long run. Besides the party has also decided to target the government on fuel prices, saying that benefits of fall in international crude prices are not being passed on to consumers. The party will also take up the issue of hardships being faced by farmers due to black-marketing of urea fertiliser.The agitational programmes across all states have been chalked out ahead of the Budget session and the party plans to reach out to parties like Left, JDU, RJD, SP, Trinamool Congress and others to make common cause with them on the floor of the House against the Ordinance. The AICC has made it clear that it will take an aggressive stance in the coming days on issues like land ordinance, hike of excise duty on petrol and diesel and creation of NITI Aayog and this will be visible both in streets as well in both Houses of Parliament.AICC has accused the government of bringing the ordinance to help “vested interests” and has pointed out that the Land Acquisition bill was finalised by a Parliamentary Committee headed by BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan, now the Lok Sabha Speaker. Congress leaders have been insisting that President Pranab Mukherjee’s action of seeking clarifications from the government on the ordinance was “a very serious thing”. The party has said it would challenge the ordinance at every forum and raise the issue both inside and outside Parliament.
Even as Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) plans to celebrate the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival in India from South Africa, the party’s Mumbai unit has opposed the move.MPCC President Manikrao Thakre had yesterday announced organising a ‘Prerna Yatra’ from Gateway of India to Gandhi statue near Mantralaya, the state Secretariat, to commemorate the event on January 9.However, at the extended executive committee meeting of the party’s Mumbai unit yesterday, several members voiced their disapproval of the programme saying that there was no directive from the AICC regarding the same, sources said.”The centenary of Gandhiji’s arrival in India at the Apollo Bunder in Mumbai is a programme organised by the NDA government for the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas being held in Ahmedabad. Why should we endorse it when there is no directive from the AICC to hold programmes?” sources quoted former MP Eknath Gaikwad and city unit’s minority department chairman Nizammuddin Rayeen as asking during the meeting chaired by city unit chief Janardhan Chandurkar.They said the meeting endorsed Gaikwad and Rayeen’s disapproval of the programme and decided not to issue any circular for participation.”Those who wish to attend the programme can do so,” they added. The city unit is yet to make up its mind on organising a morcha against the alleged corrupt practices in the Sena-BJP -run Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on January 8 or 9.”If the morcha is on January 9, the differences between the state and Mumbai unit would be out in the open again in the backdrop of the recent electoral defeats. We may hold the morcha on January 8,” the party sources said.”Members in the extended executive committee also voiced disapproval of the state unit president Manikrao Thakre’s attempt to control the Mumbai Congress, which is independent of the state unit,” sources added.
A blueprint for revival of Congress is expected to be ready by March with Sonia Gandhi asking state unit chiefs to seek views of grass-roots workers on how to turn around the party’s fortunes.After Rahul Gandhi’s directive to party general secretaries to get feedback from district and block levels, the Congress president has formally written to them as well state chiefs asking them to seek the views and submit a report to her by February end, sources said.An AICC meeting is likely in March to take up these suggestions, which will also be compiled in a book form, they said.The missive sent by her to the AICC general secretaries, secretaries and PCC chiefs almost a week ago comes after a marathon meeting Congress Vice President Rahul held with the party leaders here on December 24 in which he asked them to replicate his model of discussions with state leaders to the districts and blocks and send them a report after two months.Sonia’s letter also asks the PCC chiefs to send their feedback by February end after consulting party workers “how to revive and resurrect” the Congress, the sources said.The missive is significant as the states have been asked to give their feedback before the leadership has planned to hold the annual AICC meeting in March, where the feedback could pave way for an action plan.The party also plans to come out with a compilation of the suggestions received from the grass roots in a booklet form.Grappling to arrest the party’s sliding base, Rahul has reached out to the bottom rung of party workers holding regular interactions with them in groups for last more than two-three months after the debacle of Congress in Lok Sabha polls. After his direct interaction with more than 400 leaders from all states, Rahul told the general secretaries in a separate meeting to get feedback from blocks and districts and come back to him with suggestion on how to strengthen the party at the grass roots and make a turn around.Issues like how to widen the party’s reach, what should Congress organisation look like and whether any changes are required, and how to push the core ideology of Congress among people and convey to the cadres with clarity have been discussed in these meetings.In a number of group meetings that Rahul held, leaders said that the party needs to regain its hold of liberal Hindu votes as impression was created that Congress was only talking of minorities and is not bothered about Hindu votes, which benefited BJP.A section in the party believes that the party’s secularism plank was stretched to the extent that it started looking like advocating minoritism and the perception needs to be corrected.The view is that the upper caste Hindus especially Brahmins, who were traditional voters of Congress shifted en bloc to BJP in the last Lok Sabha polls while the party has lost out on Dalit and OBC votes with the rise of caste politics especially in the Hindi heartland.All these issues have come up in discussions on the ideological challenges before Congress and the leadership is keen to get the views of grass-roots workers on them.One of the issues on which Rahul is particularly focused is how to widen the party’s reach and connect with NGOs, employees’ unions and other bodies.There is also a buzz that Rahul could undertake a padyatra as early as this month to revive the party fortunes.AICC general secretary (Organisation) Janardan Dwivedi, however, downplayed a question on it saying “you will be informed whenever any such thing happens.”After handing over a crushing defeat to Congress in Lok Sabha polls, BJP has humbled it in assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu Kashmir.While Congress was in power in Haryana on its own, it was in the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.There is a view in the party that since the next general elections will be held five years from now, it is time for the party to focus on its organisation in the states.
With its back to the wall, Congress has decided to declare names of candidates for all 81 assembly seats in Delhi even before the election dates are announced to give them more time to prepare for the elections which are likely to be held in February.After releasing its first list of candidates for 24 assembly seats of the 70-member Assembly on Thursday, the party will begin marathon meetings of its screening committee from Friday . The meetings of the panel led by M Veerappa Moily to recommend candidates will culminate in a meeting of the Central Election Committee chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi next week which will decide on the rest 46 seats including New Delhi, where former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had lost to AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal in 2013 polls, which brought to an end the 15-year-long Congress rule in the state.There has been speculation that the party is in a dilemma on whom to field in New Delhi seat from where Kejriwal is seeking re-election this time. A senior party functionary speaking on the condition of anonymity said Congress is grappling to decide on whether to field a “local or some high-profile” candidate from New Delhi this time. Asked about the seat, AICC in-charge for Delhi and party MP P C Chacko said, “We have not discussed New Delhi at all.For all the 46 seats including New Delhi, marathon meetings of the screening committee will begin from Friday. The meeting of the CEC will also happen within a week after which names of candidates will be declared on all seats.” There are indications that the dates for the election, likely to be held in February, may be declared by the Election Commission by January 10 and Congress intends to name its list of candidates before that. “The first list of candidates has already been released even before the election dates are to be decided. Such early release of candidates’ list is happening for the first time,” Chacko said.The Assembly polls in December 2013 had thrown up a fractured mandate with BJP getting 31 seats and its ally Akali Dal one in the 70-member House. Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, which had made an impressive debut in last Delhi polls, bagged 28 seats, while Congress was decimated with its tally plummeting to only 8, its worst-ever performance in Delhi. In the first list, Congress has hence put its bait on trusted and known faces, as it tries hard to regain its lost ground. Replying to questions about the possibility of the party asking some of its former MPs to contest polls or they themselves offering to do so, Chacko said that a decision on them will be taken by the central leadership.”Nobody has told the party that they will not contest,” he said when asked about the possibility of Dikshit, AICC general secretary Ajay Maken and others contesting. Sources say that most of them have not evinced any keenness to fight. Some young former MPs, however, may be asked to contest. A senior AICC functionary said that while the party has depended mainly on trusted faces in the first list of candidates, there will be more new faces especially of youth and women and intellectuals in the second list, which will also have some “surprise names”.Replying to a question as to who will be the Congress face for Delhi polls, Chacko said, “The main theme of our campaign will be the failure of both BJP and AAP to deliver. We will fight the polls on the plank of development and stability.” Neither Congress nor BJP has declared their chief ministerial candidates so far.In the last Assembly election, Congress had fielded its three-time Chief Minister Dikshit and BJP had declared Harshvardan as its chief ministerial candidate. Later, Congress supported AAP in government formation but Kejriwal quit as chief minister in February last year over his government’s failure to pass the Jan Lokpal bill pushing the state under President’s rule.Banking on Narendra Modi’s “wave”, BJP is hoping to increase its tally while AAP, which faced strong criticism after Kejriwal quit as chief minister, is trying to hard to gain its lost ground. While the view in Congress is that it may not be in a position to form government, it will better its tally from the previous election. “We hit the bottom rock in the last election. We have only to improve from there,” a party functionary said, claiming that Aam Aadmi Party won’t be able to repeat its previous performance.