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BJP unable to find Rajasthan chief as no one wants to be a scapegoat: Sachin Pilot

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Sachin Pilot File Photo

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) From a historical low in 2013, the Congress has bounced back in Rajasthan with support from all communities and will oust the BJP in the assembly polls later this year, says state Congress chief Sachin Pilot, who also feels that the BJP is finding it difficult to find a state unit chief as no one wants to be a scapegoat after the assembly elections later this year.

Pilot, 40, says that caste is not the pivot around which everything works in an election and young people were now looking beyond caste while voting.

Pilot said it had been almost four weeks since the state BJP president Ashok Parnami “was made to resign”.

“And for four weeks they have not found a person to do the job because nobody wants to be a scapegoat. They know in 5-6 months, they will lose the election. For four weeks, the BJP, the party with a difference and so-called largest party in the world, is unable to find somebody who is willing to do the job of a state president. This shows the reality of the government of Rajasthan and BJP itself,” Pilot told IANS in an interview.

Taking a dig at Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, he said she had visited the national capital not to seek development funds “but to lobby for (appointment of) a state president.

“So there is obvious infighting (in BJP). There is a lack of coordination between the state and central governments, and people are suffering because of that,” he said.

Pilot said Raje has lost control over governance and there is “unemployment, agrarian distress, farmers’ suicides, atrocities against tribals and Dalits and scams relating to land and mining”.

Asked about former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s remarks, apparently aimed at him, that younger leaders should stay in the queue and those who break the line risked a premature end to their political career, Pilot referred to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the party’s plenary in March where he had talked of breaking down walls.

“I don’t think Gehlotji was trying to attack anybody. But I do remember that speech Mr Rahul Gandhi made, where he committed himself to breaking down the walls in politics and in the Congress party. So, when the Congress president is breaking down the walls, where is the question of any line and queues?” he asked.

Asked about Gehlot’s other remark that a PCC chief should not be automatically considered as chief ministerial choice, Pilot said the party has been fighting elections under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and will do so in Rajasthan also.

“The aim and objective for all of us is to secure a mandate for the Congress and who will get what position is not a matter of concern for me or others. We are fighting as a team,” he said.

Asked about Gehlot’s appointment as a party general secretary and his remarks that he had not been separated from Rajasthan politics, Pilot said: “Even if Ashok Gehlotji wants himself to be away from Rajasthan, as party president I won’t allow him to be away from Rajasthan.”

On ticket distribution, Pilot, who was appointed state Congress chief after the party’s debacle in the 2013 assembly polls, said winnability and consensus will be the criteria and “people who have worked in the last four years to rebuild the party, their efforts will be rewarded”.

“We are focusing on booths. The fake voters that the BJP had included, we are taking them out. And we are taking the battle to the polling stations. At the right time we will declare the candidates,” he said.

Asked about the reasons for the party’s debacle in the assembly polls, he said a factor was the party not being able to translate the good work done into political dividends.

“It requires some sort of communication strategy, some sort of self-marketing, which perhaps we didn’t do well. But we lost (due) to many other reasons.”

Pilot noted that he was a MP at 26, a Union minister at 31 and made chief of the Rajasthan Congress at 35. “The party has given me so much; now it’s time for me to give back to the party,” he said.

On a query on the caste matrix, he said: “As far as caste communities are concerned, they will vote on issues and the Congress is the only party that has the capacity and the intent to carry all communities together, all castes together,” he added.

The Congress had been reduced to 21 seats in the 200-seat Assembly in the 2013 elections but won four of six assembly by-polls and the two parliamentary by-elections to Ajmer and Alwar earlier this year. The party led in all the 16 segments of two parliamentary seats.

Pilot said no ruling party in Rajasthan has lost a parliamentary by-election in the last 40 years and it showed the depth of anger against BJP across all communities and regions.

IANS

India

MPs seating in galleries, RS gets ready for monsoon session

Naidu directed the officials to submit a detailed action plan by early next week, for this purpose.

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Parliament of India

New Delhi, July 3 : The Rajya Sabha Secretariat is exploring seating members of the upper house in the house’s chamber as well as the galleries in conformity with the norm of physical distancing and to enable virtual participation of other members from either the Central Hall or Balayogi Auditorium in the Parliament premises for the monsoon session.

As the Lok Sabha Secretariat came out with new rules for reconvening parliamentary panel meetings, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Friday too held detailed discussions on various options for conducting the proceedings of the upper house during the ensuing Monsoon Session of the Parliament. The Secretary General and other senior officials of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat were present in the hour-long discussions.

However, virtual participation is considered to be limited, in view of the capacity constraints of NIC at present to enable such virtual participation of all MPs. But, Naidu said that there is a need to scale up capacities for larger virtual Parliament in due course.

The chamber and the galleries of the Rajya Sabha can accommodate 127 members while adhering to the physical distancing norms. Sources said that all the galleries, except the media gallery, would be utilised for seating the members. Seating of media persons in the media gallery would also be in conformity with the physical distancing norm for which guidelines would be framed.

“For enabling the viewing of participation of the members from outside the chamber of the House through virtual participation, it has been felt that screens need to be arranged both within the chamber of the House and outside as required,” sources said.

But given the limited seating capacity of 127 members in the chamber and the galleries of the House, Naidu asked the officials of the Secretariat to draw up appropriate plans for seating based on the strength of various parties in the House or any other effective criteria like preparing a list of the participants in the proceedings of the House for the day who would be accommodated accordingly.

But running a Parliament session during the time of pandemic is not easy as ensuring seating alone. Issues relating to taking up Question Hour, voting in the House if required, administering oath or affirmation to the newly-elected members, detailed planning for transportation of members, effective measures for physical distancing and sanitisation among other issues were discussed.

Naidu directed the officials to submit a detailed action plan by early next week, for this purpose.

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India

Why PM did not name China, again: Chidambaram

He said that the country wants to know if Modi named China as the intruder or not while talking to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

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P Chidambaram

New Delhi, July 3 : Former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Friday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not naming China as an “aggressor” while speaking in Leh during the day, wondering aloud if he had done otherwise in his telephonic talks with US and Russian presidents.

“For the third time in a week, the PM did not name China as the aggressor. Why? What is the purpose of talking about an unnamed ”enemy” to the people of India and the jawans in Ladakh?” the senior Congress leader tweeted.

He said that the country wants to know if Modi named China as the intruder or not while talking to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

The Congress leader also alleged government silence on satellite images “showing Chinese troops occupying key positions in places hitherto considered as undisputed Indian territory”.

“The PM has still not answered our questions about where the violent clashes took place on June 15 between Chinese and Indian troops and if the Chinese have intruded Indian territory at several points,” the former Union minister said.

Amid ongoing tension at borders with China in eastern Ladakh, Modi paid a visit to Leh and forward locations this morning to review the security situation on the ground.

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India

Ahmed Patel asks ED, who in Gujarat Govt gave benefits to Sandesara

This is the third time the ED questioned Patel under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Earlier he was first questioned on June 27 and then on June 30.

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Ahmed Patel

New Delhi, July 3 : After being grilled thrice in a week by the Enforcement Directorate personnel over alleged links with the Sandesara group, promoters of Sterling Biotech, the Congress treasurer has hit back at the agency.

Patel in a tweet said, “Thank you officials of Director ED for coming to my house thrice.”

He added that “I answered each of their 128 questions but they failed to answer my one fundamental question.”

He posed a query to the probe agency and asked “Who in the Gujarat state govt was responsible for bestowing multiple benefits, privileges and honours on the Sandesara group?”

Earlier on Thursday after hours of grilling by the Enforcement Directorate personnel on links with the fugitive Sterling Biotech promoters, Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel said the financial probe agency is working under some pressure as no proof has been found against him despite answering 128 questions.

This is the third time the ED questioned Patel under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Earlier he was first questioned on June 27 and then on June 30.

“I was asked 128 questions based on allegations but yet no proof was found against me. The agency was satisfied by my replies but the questioning is a result of political vendetta. I don”t know under whose pressure they are working,” Patel told mediapersons.

Patel said he is ready to answer more questions.

While the Congress has also defended the party treasurer, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said on Thursday that the BJP is not able to digest the defeat it suffered in 2017 at the hands of Patel.

Frustration and political vendetta is writ large. It is a traceable direct link from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister and the Gujarat connection to the Congress and Ahmed Patel. It is clear that a slap in the face of illegal, reprehensible, manipulative activities in Gujarat elections has not yet been digested by the BJP national and Gujarat leadership, said Singhvi.

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