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JD(U) MLA Claims He Ensured ‘Arrogant’ BJP Candidate’s Defeat in Adjoining Bihar Seat

This is the second instance, in recent past, of the party facing an embarrassment over the maverick MLAs behaviour. A few weeks ago, another video had gone viral in which the MLA was seen gyrating alongside dancing girls.

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Nitish Kumar Sad

In an embarrassment to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JD-U), a party MLA has claimed to have ensured the defeat of an “arrogant” BJP candidate in an adjoining constituency by refusing to campaign in favour of the latter.

A video clip of Narendra Kumar Niraj alias Gopal Mandal, the third-term MLA from Gopalpur in Bhagalpur district, went viral on the social media on Tuesday.

Mandal can be heard, in the clip, making many uncharitable remarks against district BJP chief Rohit Pandey who was fielded from Bhagalpur seat but lost to Ajeet Sharma of the Congress. Mandal says in the video “whoever I campaigned for, in adjoining seats, won. But, I did not canvas for Rohit Pandey who has a lot of arrogance (ghamand)” and he lost.

Mandal also expressed resentment over Pandeys failure to greet him while they were sharing the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an election rally. “The result BJP lost one of its pocket boroughs”, the MLA said.

Named after the eponymous town, Bhagalpur was held by the BJP from 1990 till 2014 when Ashwini Kumar Choubey, the sitting MLA, got elected to the Lok Sabha from Buxar and ended up in the union council of ministers. Sharma wrested the seat for the Congress in the ensuing by-poll and retained it, defeating Choubeys son Arijit Shashwat, in the assembly polls of 2015.

He made a hat-trick in the assembly polls last year, defeating Pandey by a slender margin of just over 1,000 votes. JD(U) leaders requested on condition of anonymity that Mandals averment must not be seen as the partys official line but a “personal opinion” of the MLA.

This is the second instance, in recent past, of the party facing an embarrassment over the maverick MLAs behaviour. A few weeks ago, another video had gone viral in which the MLA was seen gyrating alongside dancing girls.

BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand trained his guns at the JD(U) MLA over his remark that Pandey “did not look like a Brahmin”. “The remark betrays a caste-based complex (jaatiwadi kuntha)….. such utterances lead to social chasms. Parties swearing by social justice must conduct workshops for educating their cadre”, he said.

RLSP national general secretary Madhaw Anand, whose party is eyeing a return to the NDA fold, voiced disapproval of the “anargal bayaan” (nonsensical statement) and said leaders of parties must rein in their loose cannons. The Congress, meanwhile, chose to take a dig at the NDA over the episode.

“This is kharmaas (an inauspicious month as per Hindu calendar, which ends on Makar Sankranti). Let the period end and there will be a kharmandal (turmoil) in the NDA which would be hard to control”, said BPCC spokesman Rajesh Rathore. Rathores remark was an indirect reference to claims made by the RJD, its senior alliance partner in the state, about the possibility of NDA MLAs, mostly from the JD(U), crossing over to the Grand Alliance.

The RJD has been insisting that JD(U) MLAs were feeling stifled on account of its diminished clout in the NDA and an aggressive stance adopted by the BJP which has returned with a tally, in assembly polls, far greater than that of the chief minister’s party.

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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BJP and Congress Flag Poster

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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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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Congress

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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