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Ajay Lallu expected to be new UP Congress chief

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New Delhi, Sep 25 : Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) looks set to get a new chief, with Priyanka Gandhi zeroing in on MLA Ajay Kumar Lallu, much to the discomfort of senior leaders of the state unit.

Priyanka Gandhi, Congress General Secretary in-charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, has indicated that she is going to appoint Lallu as UPCC chief, replacing Raj Babbar, sources close to her said on Wednesday.

An official announcement in this regard is expected soon, they said.

Lallu, an MLA from Tamkuhi Raj in Eastern UP, is Leader of Congress Legislative Party in UP.

Justifying Lallu’s imminent selection, the sources said Priyanka zeroed in on him because he is working on the ground, unlike many “senior leaders of the UPCC who do not have base in UP but operate from Delhi.”

But senior Congress leaders of the state are unhappy over the move as they feel it would not be appropriate to appoint a person who is “new” to the party.

The leaders have made their displeasure known to the party high command but Priyanka Gandhi has made up her mind, a source told IANS.

The source added that Priyanka is impressed with the performance of Lallu who has accompanied her in every agitation, including the high pitched Ganga Yatra before the elections and also the Sonbhadra agitation after the shooting incident.

Many Congress leaders have suggested to the top leadership that a Brahmin could have been a better choice to lead the party in the state which is sharply divided on caste lines, said another source. Under the BJP rule, Thakurs have the say in government and Brahmins are feeling alienated, claimed a Congress leader.

Congress has many Brahmin leaders like Pramod Tiwari, Jitin Prasada and Rajesh Mishra. All the three are former MP’s, with Pramod Tiwari leading the pack in terms of electoral success. Before being elected to the Rajya Sabha, Tiwari was MLA from Rampur Khas for a number of terms.

Jitin Prasada, son of former Congress veteran Jitendra Prasada, is a former Union Minister. Rajesh Mishra is giant killer having defeated BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi in the past.

Lallu, who joined UPCC in 2012, is considered to be a close confidante of former Union Minister RPN Singh, who is in-charge of Jharkhand.

Priyanka Gandhi has been deliberating with leaders and workers since the party’s debacle in General elections as she is aiming to strengthen the organisation in the state, said a close aide.

A team of secretaries visited each district to find out potential leaders. She has also decided that “she will ensure all district units have representation from each section,” said the leader close to the developments.

She has met a number of leaders, some in batches and some individually.

Politics

Punjab CM slams AAP govt for implementing farm laws

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Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh, Dec 1: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday hit out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over their shocking double standards on the farmers’ protests, saying the party had exposed itself by implementing the draconian farm laws in the midst of the crisis while pretending to be standing with the farmers.

Even as AAP was claiming to be supporting the agitating farmers, the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi had brazenly executed the black laws through a gazette notification on November 23, the Chief Minister pointed out, adding the party was clearly indulging in political games to further its electoral agenda.

Quite clearly, AAP had been working behind the farmers’ backs all these days, said the Chief Minister, expressing shock at the fact that even before the farmers had embarked on their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, the Kejriwal government had actually issued the notification which would spell the death-knell for the ‘annadattas’ in the national capital.

“Do they have no shame?” asked Amarinder Singh, slamming AAP for misleading the Kisan Unions by pretending to be supporting their cause while all this time, Kejriwal’s party was merely indulging in political theatrics.

“First they failed to pass any amendment laws in the Delhi Assembly to negate the central laws, as was done in Punjab. And now they have gone so far as to officially notify the agricultural legislations in Delhi, where AAP is in power. The party’s true intent and affiliation has been utterly exposed,” Amarinder Singh noted.

Responding to AAP’s criticism of his handling of the situation and for taking on Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, the Chief Minister remarked that while he was busy fighting for the rights of his farmers, Kejriwal was preparing to pull the rug from under the feet of the farmers, who had been braving all kinds of atrocities by the Haryana government in their quest for justice.

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Nitish Kumar likely to expand cabinet in December

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Nitish Kumar Sad

Patna, Dec 1 : Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is likely to expand his cabinet in December as the winter session of the assembly concluded in November after the formation of the new state government.

During this time the opposition parties, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress hurled political barbs at the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

There is wide speculation across the political spectrum especially with the opposition RJD claiming that not a single Muslim would be given a cabinet berth in the Nitish government.

Not a single Muslim candidate from the ruling NDA has reached the Bihar assembly so it is certain that if the Bihar CM wants to have a Muslim face in the cabinet, he would likely be a Legislative Council member.

During the recent Bihar elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not field a single Muslim candidate while the JD-U fielded 11.

As per the constitutional provisions, overall 36 ministers can be appointed in the state cabinet which at present has 13 ministers, including the Chief Minister. There are only four JD-U ministers besides Nitish Kumar. Twenty two more ministers are yet to be appointed.

Mevalal Chaudhary was also included as cabinet minister in the Nitish Kumar-led government but later resigned for alleged involvement in corruption. At present, all cabinet ministers have been assigned five departments each. Due to this Nitish Kumar may soon expand his cabinet regarding which he held a meeting with senior JD-U leaders on November 29.

Sources say that Nitish’s cabinet is likely to be expanded soon. If sources are to be believed, a meeting of the NDA would soon be held where Nitish would discuss the prospective names of MLAs to be inducted as ministers into the cabinet.

In this cabinet expansion, at least 10 new faces from the BJP could get an opportunity which may include MLAs who are young and belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and the Dalit community.

The JD-U could also give an opportunity to new faces from the party in the cabinet expansion and may also include a Muslim minister.

After the Bihar election results, the JD-U is playing the role of the ‘younger brother’ in the NDA government since it had won less assembly seats than the BJP. The JD-U has already started planning its future political course of action.

A JD-U leader believes that as expected the party did not get the support of the Muslim voters in Bihar, whose brunt the party had to bear in the recent elections.

Nitish Kumar could try to send a message to the Muslim voters by giving a ministerial berth to a Muslim from the party.

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Entertainment

After getting ‘ticket’ to legislature, Urmila Matondkar joins Shiv Sena

Matondkar quit the Congress in a huff on September 10 last year, alleging party infighting, post-defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections at the hands of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gopal Shetty in Mumbai North constituency.

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Urmila Matonkar

Mumbai, Dec 1 : In Indian politics, prominent personalities or leaders usually first join a party and then are rewarded with a ticket for legislatures or parliament.

In what is said to be an unprecedented change from the norms, Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar got a ‘ticket’ first and then officially joined the Shiv Sena, in the presence of senior leaders, here on Tuesday.

Shiv Sena President and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray accorded Matondkar a warm welcome to the party fold while his wife Rashmi Uddhav Thackeray tied her a thread, ‘Shiv Bandhan’ symbolizing her ties with the new party.

Soon after that, she bowed with folded hands and paid her respects before a wall-portrait of the founder-patriarch of Shiv Sena, the late Balasaheb Thackeray and his wife Meenatai Thackeray, at the Thackeray residence, ‘Matoshri’ in Bandra east.

The development came after Matondkar remained in a ‘denial mode’ for 14 months since she quit the Congress in September 2019, and even after she got a ‘ticket’ from the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) to the Maharashtra Legislature’s upper house.

In anticipation of her joining, the MVA last month (Nov. 2020) recommended Matondkar’s name – along with 11 others of MVA – to Raj Bhavan for a coveted nomination to the Maharashtra Legislative Council from the quota of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

Matondkar quit the Congress in a huff on September 10 last year, alleging party infighting, post-defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections at the hands of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gopal Shetty in Mumbai North constituency.

Earlier, prior to the October 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls, there was intense speculation that she would join either the Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party or even Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, but she had scoffed it as rumours.

An outspoken person known for her bold stand on various issues, a couple of months ago, she and actress Kangana Ranaut were engaged in a verbal scuffle after the latter made certain remarks targeting Matondkar on the social media.

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