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‘Magician’ Ashok Gehlot makes the cut again

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Ashok Gehlot

Jaipur, Dec 14: If not a politician, he would have been a magician. The crafty low-profile Ashok Gehlot emerged the winner in the race for Chief Minister, apparently on the strength of his long experience in politics of Rajasthan which has put the Congress in the saddle of power without giving it a clear majority.

And now Gehlot, picked by his party for the top post and known for political management, will be required to bring all the factions within the Congress together after infighting is said to have robbed it of what could have been a better showing.

The “old guard” former Union Minister, party General Secretary and two-time Chief Minister pipped the youthful Rajasthan Congress chief, Sachin Pilot, on Wednesday to become Chief Minister for a third time.

Besides running the government and striving to fulfil the high expectations of the people, Gehlot will have to utilise all his political acumen and experience to tackle the infighting within the state Congress, especially the cold war with Pilot.

If the factionalism within became public over ticket distribution during the build-up to the crucial Assembly battle, the tussle between Gehlot and Pilot for the CM post peaked soon after the Congress emerged the winner.

Ultimately, the Congress high command preferred to go with the “old guard” over Pilot, who was brought in as the state Congress chief in 2013 to galvanise the party organisation.

Born in 1951 in Jodhpur, Gehlot cut his teeth in politics as a student leader and headed the Rajasthan unit of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the Congress student wing.

Elected five times to the Lok Sabha from Jodhpur, he steadily acquired political stature under late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was a Minister under Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narasimha Rao.

Known for his proximity to both Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Gehlot has lately been the party’s “go-to” man in important matters.

Gehlot was given the charge of Gujarat just months ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state where the Congress did not win but nonetheless gave a stiff fight to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress veteran’s political acumen was again put on display during the Karnataka Assembly polls in May where he along with Ghulam Nabi Azad was instrumental in forging a post-poll alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) to form the government.

A law graduate from Jodhpur University, Gehlot partnered Pilot in reviving the Congress fortunes in Rajasthan and bring it back to power.

Extensively campaigning across the state for the Assembly polls, Gehlot focused on reaching out to the rural masses, particularly farmers, which yielded desired results. The Congress won 99 of the 199 seats. With farmers’ loan waiver as its major poll promise, it did extremely well in rural areas.

His long association with Rajasthan politics, including his two stints as the Chief Minister and as the former head of the party’s state unit, will surely be of immense help to Gehlot who has represented the Sardarpura Assembly constituency in Jodhpur since 1999.

For the man who once said “I would have been a magician if I had not entered politics”, the stakes are really high especially when the 2019 mega poll battle is just months away. Riding on the “Modi wave”, the BJP in 2014 made a clean sweep of all the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Besides delivering as a Chief Minister, Gehlot is also tasked to keep the flock together for the major battle next year. He also has to humour the smaller parties backing the Congress.

He will have to honour the Congress promises of farm loans waiver and jobs for the youth as well as override the “Modi influence”.

The Congress ousted the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP in the Hindi heartland state, winning the election narrowly though. But with Rajasthan facing an acute agrarian crisis and unemployment galore, Gehlot’s task is cut out.

IANS

Politics

US envoy admires Dalai Lama for seeking freedom for Tibetans

The globetrotting monk lives in exile along with some 140,000 Tibetans, over 100,000 of them in India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.

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Dalai Lama

Dharamsala, July 6 : Reaffirming Washington”s continued support to the Tibetan cause, US Ambassador to India, Kenneth Ian Juster, on Monday greeted Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on his 85th birthday by admiring his tireless efforts to seek freedom for Tibetans and bringing an end to strife and hostility around the world.

“Your Holiness, it is a special privilege to know you and to be the chief guest at this celebration of your 85th birthday,” Juster said in a video message.

“The esteem in which you are held by the people of the United States is a demonstration of the deep and enduring affinity between Americans and Tibetans, beginning with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who sent you the gift of a pocket-watch when you were a young boy.

“Successive US administrations of both political parties have admired your tireless efforts to seek freedom for Tibetans, preserve the Tibetan culture and bring an end to strife and hostility around the world,” Juster, who had called on the Dalai Lama at his official palace here in May 2018, said.

“The presentation to you in 2007 of the Congressional gold medal by your friend President George W. Bush stands as the preeminent demonstration of the high regard in which you are held in the United States of America.

“In the words of President Bush during the presentation ceremony in the US capital, ”You are a universal symbol of peace and tolerance. A shepherd for the faithful and the keeper of the flame for his people. This is why all of us are drawn to a noble and spiritual leader who lives a world away”,” the US Ambassador said.

“I believe the warm feelings between Americans and Tibetans spring in part from the recognition that your”s is a just and noble struggle. A struggle to secure for your people the same self-evident and unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that our founding fathers enshrined in the “Declaration of Independence”.

“You may have read these words on the walls of the Jefferson memorial when you visited that landmark in 1991.

“We like to think that these words may have had some influence on Your Holiness when you created a democratic framework for your own people. Your abdication in 2011 of temple authority in favour of the elected-Central Tibetan Administration extended to thousands of Tibetans around the world the right to chart their own destiny.

“We are proud of our longstanding relationship with the Central Tibetan Administration which helps support the health, wellbeing and prosperity of Tibetans who have sought refuge in India,” he said.

“For the American people, your work is in many ways a continuation of the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

“Your unwavering sense of purpose calls to our minds the words of Dr. King in his letter from Bermingham jail when he wrote that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability, it comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of leaders and you.

“Your Holiness epitomise this type of leadership. We are also proud of the role the US Embassy in New Delhi, in its own modest way, has played in nurturing the affinity between our peoples.

“This includes our reception in 1946 for the delegation of the Tibetan government that congratulated my country on the end of World War II. To the late Gene Smith whose work at the Embassy”s Library of Congress Office rescued thousands of priceless Tibetan texts from the depravations of China”s Cultural revolution,” Juster said.

“We know how much remains at stake for your people and we look forward to more years of your leadership in the service of freedom for Tibetans and their survival of Tibetan culture and identity.

“I would like to close by returning to President Roosevelt, whose gift to you in some manner may have led us here today. Confronting a different era when the world seems locked in conflict, President Roosevelt remarked in a final message to the American people, ”If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the signs of human relationships, the ability of all peoples of all kinds to live together and work together in the same world at peace”.”

“I can think of no one who better exemplifies these words than Your Holiness. Like the era of President Roosevelt, we too are living in challenging times, in our case due to the pandemic.

“Yet this celebration today of your 85th birthday and your life”s work gives us great hope for the future and the promise of a more peaceful world. Happy birthday to you, Your Holiness and many happy returns,” Juster added.

The Dalai Lama, who believes in the “middle-path” policy that demands “greater autonomy” for the people in Tibet, is viewed by the Chinese as a hostile element who is bent on splitting Tibet from China.

The globetrotting monk lives in exile along with some 140,000 Tibetans, over 100,000 of them in India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.

The Tibetan exile administration, known as the Central Tibetan Administration and headed by democratically elected Lobsang Sangay, is based in this northern Indian hill town.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

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Election

Congress, BJP intensity preparations for Madhya Pradesh bypolls

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Kamal Nath

Bhopal, July 6 : The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh are gearing up for the upcoming bypolls in the state even as the dates are yet to be announced. While the BJP is trying to send out the message of “writing a new chapter of development”, the Congress is going through a phase of discussions and brainstorming on the probable candidates.

Under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the BJP government was formed after the Kamal Nath-led Congress government collapsed. A total of 22 legislators resigned from the membership of the assembly as well as the Congress party. Besides, two seats fell vacant following the demise of two legislators. In all, by-elections are scheduled to be held in 24 assembly constituencies.

The bypolls are being seen as quite crucial from the political viewpoint as the ruling BJP does not currently have an absolute majority, and the party must win at least nine seats to attain the majority.

Madhya Pradesh has 230 assembly seats of which the BJP has 107 in its kitty. It is mandatory to have 116 MLAs for an absolute majority. Therefore, it becomes necessary for the BJP to win nine seats to enjoy an absolute majority in the assembly.

The BJP has started preparations for the by-elections on two fronts. On one hand, while the party is conducting virtual rallies to encourage its workers, on the other hand, it is trying to implement many development projects.

The work towards Chambal Expressway project in the Gwalior-Chambal area has been finalised, and with by-elections scheduled to take place in 16 assembly constituencies in the region, the BJP wants to convey the message that the project has the potential of opening the doors of development in the Chambal region.

Video conferencing has also been held between Union Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, and Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia regarding the project.

Apart from this, the BJP has also stepped up the exercise to establish Sainik School in either Morena or Bhind. CM Chouhan has also met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on this issue.

The Chief Minister says that Morena-Bhind is the district from where almost every household has sent a member in the army and they want officers to come out from here in the coming time and for this, a Sainik School is necessary.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh unit BJP president Vishnu Dutt Sharma held a virtual rally in Gwalior region on Sunday and mentioned the development work of the party, and also the work that was carried out during the BJP rule from 2003 to 2018. He also alleged that the area did not witness any significant progress under the previous Kamal Nath regime.

Sharma asked the workers to be prepared for the upcoming elections as the development of the region, as well as the state is possible only under the BJP government.

The Opposition Congress has also been holding hectic discussions on fielding the potential candidates.

A meeting of party leaders was also held on Sunday in the presence of state in-charge Mukul Wasnik. In the meeting, the names of candidates capable of winning the elections were discussed.

According to political observers, the upcoming by-elections are important for both parties. No party can claim that its victory is certain. They believe no party is willing to take any risk and that”s why, both parties have intensified efforts to communicate with the workers and encourage them.

(Sundeep Pouranik can be contacted at [email protected])

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India

Rahul Gandhi says future Harvard studies will be held on Modi’s failed policies

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, July 6 : Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government and called its handling of COVID-19 situation, demonetisation, and GST implementation all ”failures” that will be subject of analysis in future classes.

Gandhi said that these policies will be studied by the Harvard Business School. “Future HBS case studies on failure: 1. Covid19. 2. Demonetisation. 3. GST implementation,” he tweeted.

His attack came a day after India surpassed Russia to become the third worst-hit nation by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 50-year-old leader also shared a video of PM Modi addressing the nation and superimposed it with a graph which showed the spike in the number of coronavirus cases, making India the third worst-hit nation.

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