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Ailing Buddhadeb hits campaign trail, leads huge road show

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Buddhadeb hits campaign

Kolkata, April 19 : With the red flag fluttering alongside the Congress tricolour, an ailing former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday hit the campaign trail leading a huge road show in support of CPI-M candidates through the city’s southern outskirts.

Attired in his trademark kurta and dhoti, Bhattacharjee rode an open jeep flanked by party candidates from Tollygunge, Jadavpur and Kasba constituencies, as thousands of Left Front and Congress workers and supporters enthusiastically joined in.

They sang, shouted slogans parodying the Trinamool Congress and exuding confidence of the Left and democratic forces forming the next government.

Bhattacharjee, a patient of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, had kept away from the heat and dust of the campaign so far following his doctors’ advice not to undertake long travels, despite requests from all party district units to lead the election campaign.

However, party sources said he was spending long hours at the party headquarters in Alimuddin Street, supervising the nitty gritties of the campaign, coining the slogans, and playing a major role in deciding venues of election meetings and the state level speakers.

Now an invitee to the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s policy-making body politburo, Bhattacharjee is also regarded as one of the architects of the Left Front-Congress tie-up, and was largely instrumental from behind the wings in ensuring the central committee nod for the poll understanding between the two long-time foes.

But with the poll caravan now moving on to the doorsteps of the city, Bhattacharjee agreed to join the public campaign.

He seemed more aged, with all grey hair, but seemed spurred on by the huge turnout, as he chatted with the party’s young candidate from Kasba, Shataroop Ghosh, and Sujon Chakraborty, a state secretariat member and contestant from Jadavpur.

Another young nominee, Students’ Federation of India leader Madhuja Sen Roy, in the fray from Tollygunge, seemed somewhat awed by Bhattacharjee’s presence.

The rally, that started off from the base of the Dhakuria Bridge at 5.15 p.m. with several thousand participants, swelled in size as Left supporters joined in large numbers on the way.

At various points, even common people were seen walking a few steps with the rallyists.

People peered through windows, crowded balconies of multi-storeyed apartments and other houses, with the large posse of mediapersons adding to the cacophony in their frantic bid to capture every footage and still frame of the 72-year-old leader.

With people also lining both sides of the route and even jostling for a glimpse of Bhattacharjee, who has restricted his public appearances and allowed a new generation of leaders to hog the limelight since losing the polls from Jadavpur in 2011, the former chief minister repeatedly waved to the large crowd that gathered on both sides of the road, and acknowledged their greetings and salutations.

There were continuous chants of “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Comrade Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee lal salaam”, as Marxist cadres in red caps tried to keep a semblance of discipline.

The road show passed the famed Jadavpur University, and many students joined in, clapping in rhythm and raising catchy slogans.

“Ghooshkhorder sarkar, aar nei darkar” (We don’t need governments that take bribes) “Thanda thanda cool cool, jele jabe Trinamool” (Jail for Trinamool leaders), they said.

The distance of about 8 km was covered in about two-and-half hours, with the first column of the ‘red army’ reaching Garia crossing.

Bhattacharjee’s jeep, in the middle of the convoy, reached a few minutes later. The veteran leader looked tired, but surcharged by the adulation of the crowd.

There were persistent demands for him to address the crowd. Bhattacharjee obliged, albeit briefly.

“I thank everybody, wish you all the best. It was a huge rally. We will hold bigger rallies in the coming days. We have bigger battles ahead,” he said, to thunderous applause.

“Inquilab”, said the leader in conclusion. “Zindabad”, the crowd roared back.

Bhattacharjee succeeded Jyoti Basu as chief minister in November 2000, and ruled till May 2011, when the Left Front was voted out and the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool formed the new government in alliance with the Congress.

Election

Congress ropes in Prashant Kishor for Madhya Pradesh bypolls

By-elections are due in 24 seats following the demise of two MLAs and rebellion by 22 MLAs from the Congress.

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Prashant-Kishor

Gwalior, May 22 : The Congress has roped in political strategist Prashant Kishor to lend edge to its by-election campaign in Madhya Pradesh. The state will witness by-polls to 24 seats in the next four months due to the rebellion by former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia who bolted with 22 MLAs into the BJP.

The unprecedented situation has put doubts in the minds of both Congress and BJP supporters

It took the Kamal Nath-led government just 15 months to spill the power it earned through 15 years’ struggle. Prashant Kishor played a crucial role even during 2018 assembly elections to help the party return to power. The Congress is weighing the proposal from three advertising and image-building firms to take charge of its campaign.

First thing, the party plans to take the battle to the Scindia stronghold of Gwalior-Chambal region by setting up the war-room in Gwalior. This is to overcome logistic issues during the lockdown. Some former close associates of the Gwalior scion like Ramniwas Rawat and Anil Singh who have stayed back in the Congress will lead the charge. They believe Scindia’s desertion has not gone down well with his constituents and he is no longer invincible given his miserable failure to retain the Guna Lok Sabha seat in May 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Former Leader of Opposition, Ajay Singh, is likely to be fielded in Surkhi against Govind Singh Rajput whom Shivraj Singh Chouhan had included in the first lot of ministers.

Congress is also seriously considering pitting former MP Premchand Guddu against another minister Tulsi Silavat. Guddu has been an MLA in the past, from the Sanwer seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes. He had joined the BJP in the last elections, but claims to have left it in February while the party served a notice on him for anti-party activities.

Congress leaders are also persuading former MP Meenakshi Natarajan to contest the by-elections from Suwasra against her former supporter Hardeep Singh Dung, who left the Congress to join the BJP.

The Congress is also considering former minister Ramnivas Rawat, Ashok Singh or a Brahmin leader from Badnawar against Pradyuman Singh Tomar in Gwalior.

The Congress has made strategic organisational changes to take on the twin challenge of Scindia supporting ex-members of Congress as also the BJP rivals. It appointed 11 district Presidents on Wednesday. The party hopes to harness the anger among the people over the way the BJP has handled the recent Corona crisis and its aftermath among the workers.

By-elections are due in 24 seats following the demise of two MLAs and rebellion by 22 MLAs from the Congress.

Of these, 16 seats are Gwalior-Chambal division. These by-elections will decide the political future of the Chouhan government and Congress.

In Gwalior Rural, Congress has appointed Ashok Singh as district President. Ashok Singh, once an ardent supporter of Scindias, believes the royalty lost much of its influence by submitting before the BJP. The party has also appointed a new district President in Guna district, a stronghold of Scindia.

Chief Minister Chouhan has the unenviable task of balancing the aspirations of old BJP hands who will have to make sacrifices for the recent arrivals from the Congress. They would also have to seek support for the former adversaries.

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Governor’s rule in Tripura autonomous tribal body

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Ramesh Bais

Agartala/Guwahati, May 18 : After the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam, Governor’s rule was imposed in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) on Monday as the polls have been postponed indefinitely due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of novel coronavirus, officials said.

Chief Executive Officer of the TTAADC Balin Debbarma said that G.K. Rao, former Tripura Chief Secretary and a retired IAS officer, has been appointed as the Administrator of the autonomous body. Tripura Governor Ramesh Bais appointed Rao, who of late was the member of the Tripura Police Accountability Commission, to run the politically important tribal autonomous body on his behalf.

The 30-member TTAADC, until Sunday, was governed by the opposition CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and its five-year term expired on May 17. An official of the TTAADC said that within the next six months, the elections to the council would have to be conducted as per the mandate of the Constitution.

Opposition CPI-M state Secretary Gautam Das and Tripura Pradesh Congress President Pijush Biswas separately asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government to conduct the elections of the TTAADC within the stipulated period. The politically important TTAADC, which was constituted under the sixth Schedule of the Constitution in June, 1985, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km are, home to over 12,16,000 people, mostly tribals.

In Assam, on the recommendations of the state government, the State Election Commission recently put off the 40-member BTC polls for an indefinite period. Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi, who is the constitutional head of the Sixth Schedule areas like that of BTC, had also earlier suggested postponement of the council polls.

Mukhi on April 27 appointed Rajesh Prasad, a 1995-batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, as the administrator of the BTC following the promulgation of Governor’s Rule.

The politically important BTC, which started functioning in December 2003, comprises four districts of western Assam — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri and is home to over 31,00,000 people, the majority of whom are tribals. Before the Governor’s rule in BTC, since 2003 it was governed by the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), a local party and an ally of the BJP-led Assam government.

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Election

Supreme Court’s relief for Gujarat minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, High Court order stayed

Supreme Court issues notice in the matter. Justice Shantanagoudar says that the Gujarat High Court order has to be stayed.

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Bhupendrasinh Chudasama

New Delhi: Supreme Court stays Gujarat High Court order which had nullified the election of BJP leader Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on the grounds of malpractice and manipulation.

Supreme Court issues notice in the matter. Justice Shantanagoudar says that the Gujarat High Court order has to be stayed.

Senior Lawyer Kapil Sibal, “When have your Lordships stayed matter’s like this which are based on corrupt practices?”

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