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Congress panel to meet soon to discuss poll outcome

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New Delhi, May 20 : Amid growing demands for a revamp of the Grand Old Party, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) will meet soon to discuss the outcome of the assembly polls in four major states and the future course of action.

Congress general secretary P.C. Chacko told mediapersons here that the date for the meeting of CWC — the highest decision-making body in the party — was being worked out. “The working committee meeting will be held soon,” he said.

Congress leaders said a reshuffle of the All India Congress Committee office-bearers was also on the anvil.

Chacko said the meeting’s agenda had not been finalised but party sources said the party performance in the four assembly polls will be discussed. They said the party will also deliberate on the future roadmap.

The Congress lost power in Kerala and Assam, fared miserably in Tamil Nadu and failed to click in West Bengal.

Its sole consolation came in Puducherry where along with the DMK it captured power. The party is now in power on its own only in six states.

Party sources said the issue of party vice president Rahul Gandhi’s elevation could come up at the meeting,

There has been growing concern in the Congress on a series of assembly losses suffered after the party was routed in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Party general secretary Digvijaya Singh has called for “major surgery” in the party in the wake of the recent results.

Answering a question on Rahul Gandhi, Chacko said everybody in the party wanted to move fast.

As for West Bengal, where the Congress had a seat understanding with the Left parties, Chacko said: “Likeminded parties come together with regard to various issues. As far as we are concerned, other than the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) we don’t consider others as untouchables.”

He said Congress leaders in West Bengal wanted to have such an understanding and the central leadership had not forced any issue.

Chacko said the alliance in West Bengal did not have an adverse effects in Kerala.

He said the number of seats won by the Congress did not reflect the percentage of votes polled by it in Kerala.

Election

Former minister Shahnawaz Hussain is BJP’s MLC candidate in Bihar

National general secretary Arun Singh said the BJP’s central election committee has approved the names of candidates for the MLC elections in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

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New Delhi, Jan 16 : The BJP on Friday announced the names of six candidates for the member of legislative council (MLC) elections for Uttar Pradesh and one in Bihar.

For the only MLC seat in Bihar, the party has given the ticket to former Union minister and present-day spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain.

According to the official list issued by the BJP on Saturday, Kunwar Manvendra Singh, Govind Narayan Shukla, Salil Bishnoi, Ashwini Tyagi, Dr Dharamvir Prajapati and Surendra Chaudhary have received the ticket from Uttar Pradesh.

National general secretary Arun Singh said the BJP’s central election committee has approved the names of candidates for the MLC elections in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

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If vaccine is reliable, why no govt functionary took shot: Manish Tewari

“While Covishield has not drawn ire of eminent medical experts, the Covaxin has been questioned, and by not allowing people to choose the vaccine that to take it militates the doctrine of informed consent that lies at the heart of medical ethics,” he added

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New Delhi, Jan 16 : Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world’s biggest vaccination drive in the country, the Congress launched its attack on the Centre saying vaccines were being allowed to be used without the mandatory trials of Phase 3.

Speaking to IANS Congress leader and MP from Anandpur Sahib Manish Tewari asked if the vaccine is so reliable then why no important government functionary has taken the shot?

He said that in the every country of the world the head of the government has taken the vaccine, in US, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have taken the vaccine shots. In UK, Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have taken it and other countries there respective heads of state have done the same thing.”

“In India, why has no responsible functionary of the government taken the vaccine shots first if it is so safe and reliable,” Tewari asked.

He said, “As the vaccine has been rolled out, there are certain disturbing and obfuscated questions with the government using a soaring rhetoric of the vaccine nationalism. The first question about the efficacy… is that in the absence of a regulatory architecture — requiring licencing of the drugs and vaccines for the emergency use… It is perplexing that same has been permitted by the Drug Controller.

“While Covishield has not drawn ire of eminent medical experts, the Covaxin has been questioned, and by not allowing people to choose the vaccine that to take it militates the doctrine of informed consent that lies at the heart of medical ethics,” he added

Modi earlier launched the vaccination drive aimed at ending the pandemic which so far has killed 1,52,093 people in the country and ravaged the economy.

Addressing the country digitally, the Prime Minister said that India managed to make two ‘Made-in-India’ vaccines in a very short period which usually takes years.

Modi said that avoid “rumours” as the Drug Controller General of India has approved the vaccines for emergency use.

Lauding the efforts of scientists who are involved in vaccine research, Modi said they deserve special praise for making these vaccines and that “the vaccines will provide us a decisive victory against the deadly pandemic”.

The Prime Minister further reminded people to get two doses of the vaccine, explaining that “there should be a gap of almost one month between the first and second dose”.

“Only two weeks after the second dose, your body will develop the necessary strength against coronavirus,” the Prime Minister said.

Noting that this kind of vaccination campaign on such a large scale has never been done in history, Modi said: “India is vaccinating three crore people in its first phase of vaccination starting today and the government will bear the cost of the vaccination to be administered to healthcare workers”.

In the second phase, the Prime Minister said, “We have to take it to 30 crore”.

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Govt should admit its mistake on farm laws: Chidambaram

The ninth round of talks between the government and the agitating farmers ended inconclusively on Friday and the next round of meeting has been scheduled for January 19.

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New Delhi, Jan 16 : A day after the ninth round of talks between the government and the protesting farmers ended without a breakthrough, former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram urged “the government to admit its mistake and agree to start on a clean slate” with the farmers.

Chidambaram said as expected the talks failed, and it is the government which is to be blamed because it will not agree to get rid of the disputed laws even after the RTI responses have exposed the government’s “lie” about its claims that there were extensive consultations before the farm law ordinances were promulgated.

“The truth is that no one was consulted. In particular, state governments were not consulted,” he said.

“The only way out of the impasse is for the government to admit its mistake and agree to start with a clean slate,” he added.

The ninth round of talks between the government and the agitating farmers ended inconclusively on Friday and the next round of meeting has been scheduled for January 19.

The meeting of the farmer leaders with the government went on for around five hours on Friday over the three contentious farm laws and the demand for minimum support price (MSP), but ended in a stalemate.

This was the first meeting between the two sides after the Supreme Court order on January 12, which stayed the implementation of the three farm laws and also formed a four-member committee to look into the farmers’ issues.

However, on Thursday, farmer leader Bhupinder Singh Mann, one of the four members on the committee, had recused himself from the panel constituted by the top court.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh have been agitating against the three farm laws. They have been protesting at several Delhi borders since November 26. Their main demand is that the government must repeal the three farm laws enacted in September last year.

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