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Election

Congress gears up to take on Khattar govt in polls

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New Delhi, Sep 21 : The Congress plans to corner the Manohar Lal Khattar-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana over economic slowdown, unemployment and betrayal of farmers and the law and order situation.

Speaking to IANS over phone, soon after the Election Commission announced Haryana Assembly poll dates, state Congress chief Kumari Selja said, “The BJP government instead of tackling the economic slowdown has given a big issue to the people ahead of the polls.”

“The retrenchment in the auto sector and closing of units have brought people close to the Congress,” she said, referring to Maruti Suzuki announcing ‘no production’ at the Manesar unit following the economic slowdown.

The Election Commission here on Saturday announced voting for the 90-member Assembly on October 21. Results are likely on October 24.

In 2014 Assembly elections, the Congress could win only 15 seats. The BJP won 47 seats compared with 4 in the 2009 Assembly elections. The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) won 19 seats, the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) two, and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) one each. Five Independents were also elected.

Khattar has already launched the campaign in the form of Jan Aashirvaad Yatra. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have already addressed rallies in the state.

Former Union Minister Kumari Selja, who replaced Ashok Tanwar as the state party chief a week ago, said more people were joining the Congress now than those who quit five years ago.

Slamming the BJP government, she said, “Farmers and small businessman are in crisis in the state. Farmers are not getting remunerative prices for their produce. The rate of unemployment has risen in the last five years.”

“The BJP promised to double the minimum support price for crops, but didn’t buy most of farm produce this year,” she said.

When the government announced 4,000-5,000 vacancies for the post of clerks, around 15 lakh youth applied, she said. It showed that unemployment had gone up, she added.

According to the Congress leader, people are angry over the Dalit reservation. “The government last year said Dalits in Class I and Class II jobs will not get promotion,” she said.

On the law and order, she said under the Khattar regime five big riots had taken place. “Even drug peddling has increased in the districts bordering Punjab, affecting law and order in the state,” she said. The Congress would take action against drug peddlers if voted to power, she added.

She also alleged rise in illegal mining under the Khattar government.

On the BJP making abrogation of Article 370 a poll plank, she said, “We have seen how the Chief Minister has described Article 370 that we will bring girls from Kashmir to marry our boys.” It was their mindset, she added.

Khattar stirred a controversy last month when a video of his speech went viral on social media in which he was heard saying, “Some people are now saying as Kashmir is open, brides will be brought from there”.

Khattar was expressing concern over the low sex ratio in Haryana at an event in Fatehabad when he made the remark in an apparent reference to scrapping of the special status for J&K.

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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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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