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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

Lalu seeks bail ahead of Bihar Assembly elections

Lalu Prasad has applied for bail in the Jharkhand High Court. Earlier, he had been granted bail in three fodder scam cases.

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Lalu Yadav

Ranchi, July 4 : Jailed former Bihar Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad has applied for bail in the Chaibasa treasury fraudulent withdrawal case in the run-up to the Bihar Assembly polls.

On Saturday the RJD chief met political leaders at the paying ward of Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) where he is undergoing treatment.

Lalu Prasad has applied for bail in the Jharkhand High Court. Earlier, he had been granted bail in three fodder scam cases.

According to Lalu”s lawyer, he has applied for bail on the ground that he has spent half of the prison term in jail. Lalu has been in custody since December 23, 2017, after his conviction in three different cases related to the fodder scam. He was granted provisional bail for treatment in May 2018 which was later cancelled by the Jharkhand High court. He has been undergoing treatment in RIMS since August 2018.

“The Bihar Assembly polls are crucial for the RJD”s survival. Lalu cannot bank on his two sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi Yadav for the elections. The RJD did not manage to secure a single seat in Bihar in the Lok Sabha polls which was humiliating for the party,” said a RJD leader to IANS.

In 2015 Nitish Kumar, currently Chief Minister of Bihar, and Lalu Prasad had joined hands for the Assembly polls and won more than 150 of the 240 seats. Nitish Kumar, however, parted ways from the RJD after one and a half years in 2017.

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Election

‘Moon expects Trump to meet Kim Jong-un before Nov polls’

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south-korea moon

Seoul, July 1 : South Korean President Moon Jae-in believes that his US counterpart President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un need to meet again ahead of the American presidential election in November in order to reactivate the Korea peace process, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The South Korean presidential office has already conveyed Moon”s idea to the White House in their “close communication” especially following the North”s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong last month, Yonhap News Agency quoted the official as saying.

“The US side understands (Moon”s position), and it”s making efforts (for that), as far as I know,” he told reporter.

In a virtual summit with EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday, Moon reaffirmed his resolve to strive “with patience” to maintain the momentum of dialogue involving the US and the two Koreas, the official added.

Moon stressed that the two Koreas should not revert from hard-won “progress and accomplishments” in their relations.

It remains unclear whether Trump and Kim will be able to hold another round of summit talks within the coming months, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun, Washington”s point man on Pyongyang, expressed doubt about the possibility.

“I think it”s probably unlikely between now and the US election,” Biegun told a forum, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic would make such an in-person summit more unlikely.

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Election

ECI’s ‘tearing hurry’ to change rules due to Bihar poll: CPI-M

But now, with the Bihar election on the horizon, Yechury feels the “tearing hurry” in which the age bar was brought down was “unilateral”.

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Sitaram Yechury

New Delhi, June 30 : The CPI-M has shot off an angry letter to the Election Commission over the poll panel “altering” electoral procedures, which the party claims is being done without political consultations.

Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, in his letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, has said how he is “greatly disturbed” by the news.

“We are greatly disturbed by the media reports that the Election Commission of India, bypassing the established practice of consulting political parties, is unilaterally initiating measures to provide voters, aged over 64 years, the use of postal ballots,” he said.

The age limit for voters to can opt for postal ballot in Lok Sabha and assembly polls has been reduced to 65. Earlier, that age bar was 80. This decision was taken in view of the coronavirus outbreak as the Centre has repeatedly asked those above 65 to stay indoors since they are vulnerable to the disease.

But now, with the Bihar election on the horizon, Yechury feels the “tearing hurry” in which the age bar was brought down was “unilateral”.

“In the past, the ECI, despite the wide ranging and comprehensive powers under Article 324 for ”control and superintendence” of elections mandated by the Constitution, has always insisted that they will not exercise this power unilaterally. This had created an extremely healthy precedent of recognising the political parties, representing the people, as principal stakeholders,” he noted.

He said that the “current changes in the Rules, both in October 2019 and that on June 19, 2020 have not been preceded by any consultation with the political parties whatsoever”.

“From the media reports, we are constrained to infer that the tearing hurry that the ECI displays is on account of the impending Bihar Assembly elections scheduled to be held in November 2020,” he alleged.

Highlighting how the move may help the ruling BJP-JD-U alliance, Yechury wrote: “A consensus among political parties and ECI is necessary for introducing new voting practices which will adversely affect the verifiability of a large number of voters, thus, transparency and integrity of the process; not to mention, the leverage available to the incumbent administration in organising the postal ballots.”

The CPI-M demanded that the poll panel should not “unilaterally proceed further” in implementing these changes without “proper and transparent consultation” so that a “level playing field” is ensured.

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