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Congress’s ‘Hardik experiment’ aimed at wooing Patels in Gujarat

The change in strategy may also have hassled many Congress stalwarts, like Ahmed Patel who is from Bharuch, Bharat Singh Solanki from Anand and Arjun Modwadia from Porbandar.

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Hardik Patel

Ahmedabad, July 12 : After pursuing KHAM for more than three decades, the Congress in Gujarat has made a change in its focus and now plans to woo the Patel community into the party-fold.

As per the change of strategy, the party has appointed Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), as working president.

Hardik Patel thanked the party for his appointment, here on Sunday, and said he had been given the opportunity despite being from a humble background.

“As the working president of the Gujarat Congress, I have been given a challenging responsibility. It also shows the party promotes people with humble background,” he said.

“I pay my gratitude to Sonia Gandhiji and Rahul Gandhiji and the Congress. Will fight to save democracy and the Constitution. All issues related to Gujarat will be given priority and in 2022 the Congress will come back to power with two-thirds majority,” Patel tweeted.

The tactical shift towards the Patel community could be attributed to failure of the pro-KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim) stand, piloted by then Chief Minister Madhav Singh Solanki, to yield the desired political result. They party failed to return to power as the Patels, who account for 12-14 per cent of votes, sided with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the last Assembly elections, the Congress fought with zeal and help of three youngsters — Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani. Thakore later joined the BJP, but lost his seat in the by-election.

While the BJP has put at the helm Vijay Rupani, a non-Patel leader, the PAAS agitation for reservation for Patels didn”t earn much votes for the Congress.

The Congress tally in the House increased, the BJP swept Surat, the epicentre of the agitation.

The change in strategy may also have hassled many Congress stalwarts, like Ahmed Patel who is from Bharuch, Bharat Singh Solanki from Anand and Arjun Modwadia from Porbandar.

To get along with them is a challenging task for Hardik Patel.

Politics

Sonia Gandhi Completes One Year As Party Chief Amid Crisis In Congress

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi: Sonia Gandhi completes one year as the Congress interim President in her second stint as the party chief with the Grand Old Party in turmoil following the high profile rebellions of Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot.

After Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the party is also facing a problem in Punjab where two MPs have opened a front against Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Sonia Gandhi in her second stint is battling ill-health as well as the feuds within the party. She was unable to stop Jyotiraditya Scindia from breaking the party and joining the BJP which led to the fall of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. She could not intervene between the two factions and General Secretary in-charge Deepak Babaria could not bring about a truce between the two high profile leaders Scindia and former MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath.

The same thing happened in Rajasthan where former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot revolted against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, leading to a crisis in the government. There also the Congress leadership remained weak and could not broker peace between the two factions.

The third state where the Congress is facing problems is Punjab. The party is trying to downplay the rift and said that the media is trying to read too much into it.

The second stint of Sonia Gandhi came about following he resignation of her son Rahul Gandhi as the party President and after the Congress Working Committee could not find a replacement except Sonia Gandhi. Since August 2019, the party has been fighting the BJP while the internal rifts have widened. There is also a sense of resentment over the interference of Team Rahul Gandhi in the organisation’s functioning.

At the July 30 meeting of its Rajya Sabha MPs where the issue of leadership was discussed, many leaders demanded that Rahul Gandhi should be brought back as Party President. A controversy erupted when some leaders demanded that the party should introspect on the reasons for its electoral defeats, to which leaders close to Rahul Gandhi raised questions over the UPA rule, which led to a war on the social media. Senior leaders had to intervene and say that they should desist from making comments on social media.

The Congress on Sunday maintained that Sonia Gandhi will continue as party President till a new chief is elected or appointed. Congress Senior spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that “no party will allow any vacuum and there is no vacuum at all, Sonia Gandhi is President and will continue to be till such time proper procedure is implemented.”

It is true that Sonia Gandhi’s term is ending but the party is not going to be “headless”, said Singhvi. The Congress leader said that there is a laid down procedure for a CWC meeting and the party will decide on the matter.

Sonia Gandhi in her first stint was instrumental in cobbling together the UPA and bringing the Congress back to power in 2004 and presiding over a second win in 2009. The Congress was totally submerged by the Narendra Modi wave in 2014 and was reduced to its lowest figure with less than 50 seats in the Lok Sabha. In the 2019 elections the Congress under Rahul Gandhi suffered another major defeat. Although the party’s numbers increased marginally in the Lower House, it led to Rahul’s resignation as party President.

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Politics

‘Done deal’: Congress hints at understanding with Pilot camp

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

New Delhi: Amid speculation of a meeting between rebel Rajasthan leader Sachin Pilot and Rahul Gandhi, top sources in the Congress have claimed that a deal has been struck between the two sides and a formal meeting may take place on Monday itself.

The development comes after party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi met Rahul Gandhi at his residence to work out the deal. However, there is still no official word yet while all eyes are on 10 Janpath, the official residence of interim party chief Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress sources say that there were no preconditions from both the sides and they hope for a happy ending to the crisis that has threatened its government in the state.

The Congress sources said that veteran party leader Ahmed Patel had pitched in to resolve the issue that had threatened the survival of the Ashok Gehlot government after the Pilot camp raised the banner of revolt against it.

The Congress had sacked Pilot as Deputy Chief Minister and the state party chief. So far, Gehlot has stayed put as Chief Minister amid claims and counter-claims on attempts to poach MLAs.

On Sunday night, a Congress Legislature Party meeting was held in a Jaisalmer hotel, where MLAs from the Gehlot camp are lodged, and there were mixed views on welcoming back the rebels into the party fold.

While a few MLAs suggested that the rebels should be accepted in view of the “wafer-thin margin” of the Gehlot government in the Assembly, others were not in such a forgiving mood.

Meanwhile, the Gehlot camp in Jaisalmer is keeping a wary eye on any development in Delhi vis-a-vis the proposed meeting.

A senior Congress worker confirmed to IANS that a few Ministers from Rajasthan had been intimated about the meeting and the views of party lawmakers had been sought over the move to end the rebellion.

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India

Citizenship query: It’s not unusual, Chidambaram comes out in Kanimozhi’s support

While non-Hindi speaking recruits to central government posts quickly learn functional spoken Hindi, why cannot Hindi-speaking recruits to these posts learn functional spoken English? the senior Congress leader asked.

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P Chidambaram

New Delhi: Former Union Minister P Chidambaram, a native of Tamil Nadu, has come out in support of DMK MP Kanimozhi, who had tweeted about an incident at an airport wherein she was asked about her citizenship and pointed to his own experiences.

“The unpleasant experience of DMK MP Kanimozhi at the Chennai airport is not unusual. I (too) have experienced similar taunts from government officers and ordinary citizens, who insisted that I speak in Hindi during telephone conversations, and sometimes even face to face,” Chidambaram said.

Read: CISF orders inquiry after DMK MP Kanimozhi asked ‘are you Indian’ at Chennai airport

The former Union Minister said: “If the Centre is genuinely committed to both Hindi and English being the official languages of India, it must insist that all central government employees are bilingual in Hindi and English.”

While non-Hindi speaking recruits to central government posts quickly learn functional spoken Hindi, why cannot Hindi-speaking recruits to these posts learn functional spoken English?” the senior Congress leader asked.

Meanwhile, the BJP has dismissed her allegation as ‘electoral stunt’. BJP General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh tweeted to counter Kanimozhi’s charge, saying that “assembly elections are 8 months away … the campaign starts”.

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