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Delay in making state-level changes in Haryana hurt Congress: Shashi Tharoor

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Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi, Oct 26 : Congress MP Shashi Tharoor agrees that the party was “stunned into negligence” by the defeat in the May general elections and as a result delayed state-level changes in Haryana which, had they happened six months earlier, could possibly have improved the party’s showing in the recent elections.

Tharoor said that a free and fair election was the best way of choosing the new Congress president but accepted that his was a lonely voice and possibly a minority of one. He said senior leaders of the Congress party were against choosing the new president by election because they believed it would create factionalism in the party and could also lead to a lopsided result. He revealed that he had discussed this with both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi but refused to reveal their thinking.

Speaking about the new think-tank set up by Sonia Gandhi to determine the Congress party’s position on issues of critical importance, Tharoor said he did not know why he was not chosen as its member. As he put it, he cannot demand to be made a member. And if the party believes it doesn’t need him, it has a right to come to that conclusion. Though repeatedly asked he would not say whether he was disappointed by his exclusion. He said: “I’m available to the party whenever they need me and in whatever capacity”.

In a 45-minute interview to Karan Thapar, Tharoor said that the Congress party’s performance in Maharashtra and Haryana is a sign that it is reviving but this is only the very beginning of what is likely to be a lengthy process. He said that the recent state elections clearly suggest that economic issues such as unemployment and farmer distress are becoming more important than political issues such as national security and illegal immigration.

Tharoor readily acknowledged that in Maharashtra, where the NCP now has more seats than Congress both at the assembly and Lok Sabha levels, there is a need to re-think the relationship between the two allies. Today Congress is the junior partner. He praised Sharad Pawar’s tireless campaigning adding that it captured the imagination of the country.

However, Tharoor refused to accept that the Congress’s improved performance in Haryana, Maharashtra and in the by-polls, at a time when there was no major participation from the Gandhis, was a clear indication that the party could survive without the Gandhis and even perform better. But he accepted that in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in December and, now in Maharashtra and Haryana, voters have shown more faith in the Congress’s state and local leadership than in its national leadership.

Speaking about the divide in the Congress between the old guard and the young leadership, Tharoor said it was critical that both should find fair representation in the party. He believes that Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Capt. Amarinder Singh and Kamal Nath have shown that the party cannot do without the wisdom and experience of the elder generation but, equally, it needs to constantly infuse young blood into its ranks.

Tharoor also said that along with choosing a new president, the Congress party needs to choose new members for the Central Working Committee (CWC) and new general secretaries. He said that the party needs to enforce its own constitutional requirement that 12 members of the CWC are elected by the AICC and not nominated by the President. Tharoor also said that the Congress party should implement the block development council structure of party organization that exists in Kerala in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Finally, speaking about the next session of Parliament which convenes on November 18, Tharoor was confident that the Congress, despite its depleted numbers, would make a significant impact opposing the BJP by the facts at the command of its speakers and the eloquence and force of their delivery.

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‘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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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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Congress leader files petition against Scindia’s Rajya Sabha Election

In September 2017 in the Vyapam scam, Shyamala Hills police had registered a case against Scindia, then in the Congress, as well as his then party colleagues Digvijaya Singh, and Kamal Nath, and IT expert Prashant Pandey on the orders of Bhopal Special Judge Suresh Singh.

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Jyotiraditya Scindia

Gwalior, June 28 : A pro-Digvijaya Singh Congress leader on Saturday filed a petition against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, alleging that the nomination papers filed for the recent Rajya Sabha election concealed a criminal case pending against him.

The petition was filed before Gwalior district court by Gopi Lal Bhartiya through his counsel Kuber Bouddh.

Judicial Magistrate first class Pawan Patel, however, asked the petitioner to move special court at Bhopal designated to hear cases against public representatives.

In September 2017 in the Vyapam scam, Shyamala Hills police had registered a case against Scindia, then in the Congress, as well as his then party colleagues Digvijaya Singh, and Kamal Nath, and IT expert Prashant Pandey on the orders of Bhopal Special Judge Suresh Singh.

They were all booked under various sections including production of fraudulent documents, but Scindia has not mentioned the case, said Bouddh.

The petitioners will now take the matter to a Bhopal court.

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