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Election

Congress drafts senior leaders in states to strengthen party

The Congress has now to keep the alliance together as RJD’s Lalu Prasad is in jail after being convicted in the fodder scam.

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Tariq Anwar

New Delhi, June 25 : With an eye on elections, the Congress is now drafting its senior leaders into state politics with the aim of strengthening the state units.

The Congress, which once had very strong regional satraps, is now lacking strong personalities in state politics after the demise of Vilasrao Deshmukh in Maharashtra and Y.S.R. Reddy in Andhra Pradesh whose son Jaganmohan Reddy has drifted from the Congress and is the Chief Minister now.

The Congress party this month nominated B.K. Hariprasad, a former general secretary and former Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, to balance power and caste equations in the state.

“The high command nominated Hariprasad as he is a senior Backward Classes leader, belonging to the Idiga community,” state Congress leader Prakash Rathod said.

The Congress has also decided to tap another community — the Bilivas in Karnataka who are involved in toddy tapping, are similar to the Backward Classes and are in traditional occupations in the Mangaluru region. This community once produced stalwarts like Janardhana Poojary who had quite an influence in coastal Karnataka. The Congress has decided to tap this segment through Hariprasad.

The OBC component in Karnataka is quite a significant chunk in the political spectrum. Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, D.K. Shivakumar, B.K. Hariprasad and Dalit leader Mallikarjun Kharge along with minorities can put up a good show against the BJP, said a party leader from the state.

On Wednesday, Sonia Gandhi decided to field Tariq Anwar for the Bihar Legislative Council, but Anwar could not file his nomination due to some technical reasons. Party state president Madan Mohan Jha said, “he is being replaced due to technical issues”.

Sources say that Anwar is not a voter in the state which is mandatory to become a member of the Council.

Anwar who has been in national politics for a long time has been union Minister and one of the foremost and prominent Muslim faces in the state.

A senior leader said ahead of the Bihar assembly polls that though Tariq Anwar could not file his nomination but it will boost the Congress image among the minority segment, the votes which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been vying for.

Sources say more leaders may be drafted into state units and this could be reverse rehabilitation in their respective states. The Madhya Pradesh government fell because of rebellion in the party ranks so now the party needs experienced hands.

Leaders of the Grand Alliance in Bihar met on Wednesday and pledged to fight the polls together and get the minority votes in the state.

The Congress has now to keep the alliance together as RJD’s Lalu Prasad is in jail after being convicted in the fodder scam.

Congress state in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil said after the Grand Alliance meet that “A preliminary meeting of six political parties was held today to discuss the issues and concerns with respect to coming Bihar election. The parties reaffirmed solidarity and assured each other that we shall work together to expose the anti-people government of Bihar.”

Election

Congress forms 5-party Mahagathbandhan to take on BJP in Assam

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

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BJP and Congress Flag Poster

Guwahati, Jan 20: The opposition Congress on Tuesday announced a five-party ‘Mahagathbandhan’ to take on the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam in the upcoming Assembly elections expected to be held in April-May.

Announcing the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), Assam Congress President Ripun Bora said that his party would contest the elections in alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the three Left parties – Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – and the Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

He said that regional parties are welcome to join the Mahagathbandhan to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party from power in the state.

“The Congress is always keen to oust all communal forces for the best interest of the country. People are ready to vote out the BJP as its misgovernance caused a lot of distress to the people, who have become fed up with the BJP,” he said.

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

AGM President Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, also a Rajya Sabha member, termed the formation of the grand alliance as a historic moment. He sounded optimistic that the grand alliance would defeat the BJP in the forthcoming elections.

Besides the AIUDF, a Muslim-dominated party in Assam, and the Left parties, state Congress leaders had held several meetings in the past few months with the ‘like minded parties’.

AIUDF President and Lok Sabha member Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has been stating that the two parties (Congress and AIUDF) have decided to contest the Assembly polls together since their tie-up for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls held last month.

Recently, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi had appointed three central leaders — Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh Chief Minister), Mukul Wasnik (AICC General Secretary) and Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Bihar MLA) — to oversee the election campaign in Assam in close coordination with the AICC general secretaries and the party in-charge for the state.

Baghel and other central leaders held meetings with the state party leaders in Guwahati before Assam Congress chief announced the Mahagathbandhan.

The Congress had suffered a setback in the recent elections to the BTC and the Tiwa Autonomous Council. Two of its MLAs – Ajanta Neog and Rajdeep Goala – had joined the BJP last month, delivering another blow to the party.

In the 2016 Assam assembly elections, the Congress had contested on its own without an electoral alliance with any party, securing 24 seats.

After the last Assembly polls, the BJP formed the government in Assam for the first time after winning 60 seats following the formation of an alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which won 14 and 12 seats, respectively. The ruling alliance also has the support of an Independent MLA.

The 126-member Assam Assembly is likely to go to the polls in April-May along with West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

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Election

Sonia forms 10-member election panel for Kerala chaired by Chandy

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi, Jan 20: Eyeing the assembly polls in Kerala, the Congress on Tuesday announced a 10-member Election Management and Strategy Committee under the leadership of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as its chairperson along with senior party members like Shashi Tharoor and K. C. Venugopal.

Venugopal, who is the party’s General Secretary (Organisations) in a statement said that party chief Sonia Gandhi has approved the appointment of Election Management and Strategy Committee of Kerala Congress for the upcoming assembly elections with immediate effect.

He further said that the Committee shall meet frequently to discuss matters related to electioneering, co-ordination and formulation of election strategies.

Besides Chandy, Tharoor and Venugopal, the party has also named Mullapallay Ramachandran, Ramesh Chennithala, Tariq Anwar, K. Muraleedharan, V.M. Sudheeran, K. Sudhakaran and Kodikkunnil Suresh as the panel members.

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Election

Bengal: Left, Congress leaders hold talks; to finalise candidates by Jan end

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Kolkata, Jan 18: Top leaders of the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress conducted a meeting here on Sunday to discuss the seat-sharing and other election-related strategies, leaders of both the parties said, adding that their candidates would be finalised by the end of this month.

However, both the Congress and Left leaders said that they would hold more such meetings this month to finalise the candidates’ list for the upcoming Assembly elections, expected to be held in April-May.

Both the party leaders would meet again on January 25 and 28 to settle the seat-sharing issue and other poll-related preparedness.

In 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, the two parties had forged an alliance and won 76 seats in the 294-member Assembly.

Post meeting, Left Front Chairman and CPI-M politburo member Biman Bose said that their discussion with the Congress was cordial and fruitful.

“To defeat the communal force BJP and the fascist TMC (Trinamool Congress), the Congress-Left parties’ alliance is must. The alliance would definitely thrash the binary rule in Bengal,” the veteran Left leader told the media.

Bose said that leaders and workers of Left parties and Congress should fight against the BJP and the TMC with shoulder to shoulder.

Party sources said that the Congress wanted to contest in 130 seats but the Left leaders did not concede the demand.

Bengal Congress chief and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury said that the seat sharing with the Left parties would not be completed in a single meeting, however, the seat sharing process would be concluded within this month.

CPI-M state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, Congress leaders Abdul Mannan and Pradip Bhattacharjee were present at the meeting.The Left and Congress parties are likely to hold a mega joint rally in Kolkata soon to kick start their election campaign.

The all important elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly are likely to be held in April-May along with Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.In the 2016 West Bengal polls,

Trinamool had retained its majority and won 211 seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party won three seats.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Left and Congress had fought separately with the Congress won two seats, the Left Front dominated by the CPI-M, which ruled Bengal for 34 years (1977-2011), drew a blank.

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