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Gehlot emerges top choice for Rajasthan CM, Pilot puts up spirited claim

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New Delhi/Jaipur, Dec 14 : Veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot on Thursday emerged Rahul Gandhi’s pick as the Chief Minister in Rajasthan, but suspense continued the with state party chief Sachin Pilot putting up his claim strongly as the two leaders had late night meetings with the Congress President.

Both Pilot and Gehlot had separate meetings with Gandhi, unlike in Madhya Pradesh where the two aspirants — Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia — had met him together.

Party observer for Rajasthan K. C. Venugopal, who was also at the meetings, told the media later that taking decision on leadership was not easy but it will be announced on Friday.

“Taking decision on CM is not an easy job. The final decision will be taken tomorrow in a meeting to be held here around 10 a.m.,” he said.

Pilot, who had a meeting with Gandhi earlier in the day, reached Gandhi’s residence at 10.30 p.m on Thursday.

The meeting came hours after the leadership issue was settled in Madhya Pradesh, with Gandhi tweeting his picture with Kamal Nath and Scindia, who were both chief ministerial aspirants. The smiling picture carried the line “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time – Leo Tolstoy.”

Kamal Nath was chosen as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and both he and Scindia flew down to Bhopal to announce the decision.

Party sources said Gandhi is keen to give a similar message for Rajasthan as well.

Both in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress missed the majority mark by two seats and is now dependent on some external support.

Pilot, who stayed put in Delhi, appealed to party workers to maintain peace and saying that he would “welcome” any decision that will be taken by the party.

He issued the appeal on Twitter as reports emerged that Gehlot has been picked by the party leadership to lead the government and that his (Pilot’s) supporters were protesting on the streets demanding that Pilot should be made the Chief Minister.

The name of 67-year-old Gehlot, a two-time Chief Minister, is expected to be announced by the party on Friday.

Earlier, Gehlot and Pilot met Rahul Gandhi. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is understood to have counselled Rahul Gandhi over relying on “experience” as it was a verdict with a narrow margin of victory and a seasoned leader would be better equipped to deal with a situation in which the party would need the backing of MLAs belonging to BSP and Independents, who won 13 seats. Most of them are Congress rebels.

The party won 99 seats and with its pre-poll alliance partner it managed to touch the halfway mark in the 200-member Assembly.

Pilot reportedly put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief.

Gehlot, who was planning to leave for Jaipur but was asked to stay back in Delhi, also appealed to workers to maintain peace and said any decision taken by the leadership will be acceptable to all.

Asked by the media why he returned from the airport, he said he could leave at night or on Friday accompanied by central party observer K.C. Venugopal and Avinash Pande, who is the party in charge in the state.

About the delay in announcing a decision, Gehlot said: “Such decisions take time because three states are involved. It is good that the leadership has decided to consult various leaders and workers.”

Replying to another question, he said, “What right BJP has to question us on the decisions? A signal has gone from the elections to the country that those who created an atmosphere of hate have been wiped out from the Hindi heartland. And this is what will happen in the Lok Sabha elections too.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the central Congress observers met the newly elected MLAs in a bid to find out who they would prefer as Chief Minister.

The MLAs authorised Gandhi to take the call on the Chief Minister’s name.

Both Gehlot and Pilot had also called on Governor Kalyan Singh on Wednesday evening and staked claim to form the government. Both contested the Assembly elections and won their seats.

Election

2019 Lok Sabha elections: EC to announce poll schedule in March 1st Week

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Election Commission

New Delhi, Jan 18: The Election Commission of India to announce the 2019 Lok Sabha election schedule in the first week of March, news agency ANI reported citing sources.

The election would be held in 6 to 7 phases.

WeForNews

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AAP irrelevant, we want to win all 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi: Sheila Dikshit

I will mobilise all workers and leaders for the party’s victory

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sheila dikshit arvind kejriwal

New Delhi, Jan 16 : Inducted as Delhi Congress President ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections, Sheila Dikshit says her target is to win all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital.

The 80-year-old leader, who assumed office as the Delhi Congress chief on Wednesday, said she will mobilise all workers and leaders for the party’s victory.

She said her target is “to get Congress active and get all Congressmen together.”

Asked about her target for the Lok Sabha elections, she said: “I hope to win all the seven. We will target all the seven and then see”.

Array

Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit with Former Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken during a programme where she took charge as the party’s Delhi unit chief in New Delhi, on Jan 16, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Asked when the party will declare its candidates as the AAP has sounded its potential candidates and the BJP already has sitting MPs in all the seven seats, she hoped that the candidates will be decided soon. “Let’s see when the high command announces.”

Dikshit said she is not in favour of an alliance with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the capital and prefers that the party go it alone.

However, at the same time she also does not rule out a tie up with the AAP.

“No, I am not in favour of it (alliance with AAP),” she told IANS.

“The Aam Aadmi Party is not a very polished party. For instance why did they do all that …Rajiv Gandhi having got the award (Bharat Ratna). What have they got to do with it. They never gave the award 22 years ago. Why did they pick it up? They just pick up things. I don’t think they think before what they are doing,” the three-time chief minister of Delhi said when she was asked about the reasons for not going for an alliance with the AAP.

“Anyway, for me, I mean they are the ruling party of Delhi so that relevance is there but otherwise they are an irrelevant party.”

Asked if the AAP was in touch with the party’s central leadership, she said: “No, not with us in anyway. I don’t think so.”

Pressed further on the issue, Dikshit said she had no idea. “Nobody has spoken about it.”

Asked if she had conveyed her viewpoint to the central leadership, Dikshit said she had given her views in the media.

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Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit with party leaders Ajay Maken, Meira Kumar and Harun Yusuf during a programme where she took charge as the party’s Delhi unit chief in New Delhi, on Jan 16, 2019. Also seen . (Photo: IANS)

“I have conveyed to all of you so everybody knows my viewpoint. It has been there for a long time.”

Asked if she was ruling out an alliance with the AAP, she said: At the moment there is no alliance with AAP, and let’s see what happens in future.”

To a follow up question on when the uncertainty will end, she smiled and refused to comment.

She rejected apprehensions that the Congress and the AAP fighting separately will give an advantage to the BJP in Delhi.

“Why, why, why…No. We are strong enough ourselves, please remember. We are older than the BJP and much older than the AAP. No thank you…No, there is no need (to align).”

To a query whether she had given her feedback to the party, Dikshit said, “Not yet,” and added that she will be doing so as soon as she was asked by the leadership.

Asked if potential candidates have been sounded out, she said “everybody is working, everybody has got their mind on it and we have to meet and bring (it) to each other’s attention.”

Asked about her being made PCC chief only three months before the polls and if it should have been done earlier, Dikshit said: “What has happened has happened. You make the best of what has happened.”

She said the party not having declared its candidates so far does not matter. “The God made the whole world in seven days and surely we can do this (declare candidates).”

However, she refused to spell out her party’s strategy. “I won’t tell you just now. I will bring the strategy which is implementable. So let me just study it.”

She said the workers were motivated and the ground work was visible for the last-three four days.

Asked who was the main challenger between the AAP and the BJP in Delhi, she said they both were a challenge.

“I think at the national level, if you are looking at their presence, then the BJP is.”

Asked if Rahul Gandhi was relying on the old guard having appointed Kamal Nath chief minister in Madhya Pradesh, Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan and Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh, Dikshit did not give a direct answer.

“I wouldn’t say. This is a question you need to ask Rahulji. I don’t make assessments on appointments, they have been made, they have been made.”

Dikshit admitted that there was some factionalism in the Delhi unit and said it will be addressed.

“There is… wherever there are 20…there are hundreds of people in the Congress, there is bound to be a faction. It is not something that cannot be overcome for a particular cause,” she said.

“The challenge is to face the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and the challenge that is consistent with that is to keep the party together. All of us not to show our differences of opinion if we have any. Carry on what the leaders (say) so that we are seen as a joint organisation working for the good of the Congress,” she said.

Dikshit said she will campaign for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh if asked to, “but I will focus more on Delhi as there is a lot of work here.”

Asked about the dim possibility of a grand alliance shaping up in Delhi, she said: “You all bring a time limit saying do it now or tomorrow. In politics there is no time limit. It depends on the opportunities and atmosphere that is there and then we take decisions.”

She said that both national and local issues will be highlighted in Delhi during the campaign.

Dikshit said the party will highlight the development work done during her 15 years as chief minister. “Obviously, those works were done by Congress and we will surely highlight those works.”

On the recurrent confrontation between the AAP government in Delhi with the BJP-led central government, Dikshit said she had worked smoothly as Chief Minister with the Vajpayee government.

“It is for them to understand whether confrontation brings out work,” she said.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected] and Prashant Sood at [email protected])

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AAP to fight Lok Sabha polls in UP, Kejriwal won’t contest

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ARVIND KEJRIWAL

Varanasi, Jan 13 : The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday said it will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pardesh but unlike last time, party chief Arvind Kejriwal will not be its face from Varanasi.

Speaking to IANS, AAP MP Sanjay Singh said the details of the seats and candidates would be finalised by February-end.

“The party or Kejriwal never said that he is going to contest the Lok Sabha elections. He is Delhi’s Chief Minister and he has no plans to join the electoral race in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Singh said.

“The party will field candidates in the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh from the areas where the organisation is strong. The details of seats and candidates will be announced by February-end,” he added.

Singh on Sunday concluded his two-day “Bhajpa Bhagao, Bhagwan Bachao Yatra” in Varanasi.

The Yatra, which started from Ayodhya on Saturday, was organised to “expose” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on various issues. He also sough to highlight that hundreds of Shivlingas were allegedly found lying under the rubble of structures demolished to pave way for the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor — a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his parliamentary constituency.

The AAP has announced that it will focus on Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Goa in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

In 2014, Kejriwal contested face from Varanasi against BJP candidate and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kejriwal lost the elections by over three lakh votes.

IANS

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