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Arab list presents demands to Gantz to back him as PM

The leaders of the Arab alliance are yet to make a final decision on which candidate they will ultimately support



Jerusalem, Sep 23 : The United Arab List, the third most powerful political group in Israel, having won 13 seats in the recent elections presented a series of demands to centrist leader Benny Gantz in exchange for backing his candidacy for Prime Minister.

Consultations to form a new government will be ongoing on Sunday with the sponsorship of the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, Efe news reported.

The leaders of the Arab alliance are yet to make a final decision on which candidate they will ultimately support, as they are pending a reply on their coalition request from Gantz’s Blue and White alliance.

Depending on what Gantz’s side says, the Arab list is to consider its final stance in a last-minute meeting which will take place just before the consultation with Rivlin, Aida Touma-Suleiman, an Arab list parliamentarian, told Efe.

The Arab alliance represents the Arab minority in Israel, which is estimated to make up around 20 per cent of the total Israeli population.

Among their demands, Arab list leaders demanded a freeze to home demolitions in the so-called “unrecognized Arab villages” and to form an investigation team to inspect the conflicts and issues of those villages, according to the Times of Israel’s digital edition.

The list also requested effective governmental measures to battle violence within the Arab sector, re-initiating the peace process with the Palestinian National Authority.

They also called for revoking the controversial nation-state law that defines Israel as a Jewish state, as that law treats Arabs as second-class citizens and only recognizes the capacity of self-determination to the Jews.

If the United Arab List eventually supports Gantz, the group will break with their traditional stance and abstain from taking sides in Israeli politics and this will be the first time since 1992 that they would back an Israeli candidate as prime minister.

The last time the United Arab List recommended a candidate was more than 25 years ago when they supported Labour leader Isaac Rabin.

The Israel political scene remains marred by uncertainty after the 17 September election in which the Blue and White alliance won 33 seats, outdoing the right-wing party of Likud, presided by the current acting PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had to settle for 31 seats.

However, neither Gantz nor Netanyahu managed to form a majority government, which has led to complications and the Israeli President Rivlin having to be involved in deciding who will be Prime Minister.

This situation might continue, as neither of the political alliances has enough seats to reach the magic 61 seat threshold.

The coalition between right-wing parties and their religious allies, which is led by Netanyahu, currently has 55 seats in the Knesset, while Gantz’s alliance is set to reach a maximum of 57 seats if Arab Israeli parties support him.

Rivlin, who has called on all parties to create a national unity government, will attempt to clear the situation through the two-day consultations he will carry out over Sunday and Monday.

The President will announce the chosen candidate next Wednesday, after receiving the official and final results of Tuesday’s elections.

The key factor in this puzzle will be Avigdor Lieberman’s right-wing party, Yisrael Beiteinu, which means “Israel Our Home,” as its eight seats could shift the balance towards Gantz or Netanyahu.

On Thursday, Netanyahu has invited his rival Gantz to form a unity government to end the political deadlock that emerged from repeat elections.

Yisrael Beiteinu is yet to decide who will be its candidate for the PM office, and they will be discussing the matter this afternoon in a party meeting before party leaders gather with Rivlin, a spokesperson told Efe.

Local media report that Lieberman, who is considered to be a force for secularism in Israel, will support neither Gantz nor Netanyahu, which will extend the political deadlock even further.


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.





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




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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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.



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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