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‘No Leadership Crisis in Cong’: Salman Khurshid Says Support for Sonia, Rahul Apparent to ‘Anyone Not Blind’

The party has a president in Sonia Gandhi, though interim, which is not outside the Constitution, not unreasonable and not something the party “can”t survive with”, Khurshid said.

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Salman Khurshid

Amid criticism of the Congress top brass by some leaders following a poor show in the Bihar polls, senior leader Salman Khurshid on Sunday said there is no leadership crisis in the party and an all-round support for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi is “apparent to anyone who is not blind”.

Khurshid, who is among the leaders considered close to the Gandhi family, also said there are enough forums in the Congressnn for airing views and doing so outside the party “hurts” it, remarks that come days after senior leader Kapil Sibal and some others went public with their criticism of the party leadership.

“The leadership listens to me, I am given an opportunity, they (those criticising in the media) are given an opportunity, where does this thing come from that the leadership is not listening,” Khurshid told PTI in an interview.

Asked about comments by Sibal and another senior leader P Chidambaram on Congress” poor showing in the Bihar election and recent bypolls, he said he cannot disagree with what they have said, but asked why does anybody have to go out and tell the media and the world that “we need to do this”.

“Analysis is done all the time, there is no quarrel about analysis. It will be done. The leadership, of which all these people are a part, will appropriately look at what may have gone wrong, how we could have improved, and that will happen in the normal course, we needn”t talk about it in the public,” said Khurshid, a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC).

His remarks come days after Sibal”s public criticism of the Congress leadership and his statement that the time of introspection was over and people no longer saw the party as an effective alternative.

Asked about some leaders calling for having a full-time president, he said they should come forward and talk about it inside the party.

“See our leader and say you don”t look good without a label, the leader will take a call,” Khurshid said.

Hitting out at those voicing concerns that Sonia Gandhi has been interim chief for over a year, he asked who decides one year is too long for having an interim chief and asserted that if the process of electing a new president is taking time, there must be a good reason for it.

“Nobody has gone away, they are all here. The only insistence is on a label, why do you insist on a label. There is no president in the Bahujan Samaj Party, there is no chairman in the Left wing parties, only general secretaries…Every party cannot follow the same model,” he said.

The party has a president in Sonia Gandhi, though interim, which is not outside the Constitution, not unreasonable and not something the party “can”t survive with”, Khurshid said.

“We are happy, we are working with it. There is no leadership crisis, I say that with great emphasis,” he asserted.

The election committee is working on the election of the president which is taking time due to COVID, he said, adding that all the work and preparations are underway.

Asked if everyone in the Congress is strongly behind Rahul Gandhi as their leader, Khurshid said, “I think that is apparent to anyone who is not blind, that people are fully supportive of Congress president Sonia ji and of Mr Rahul Gandhi, who is our former president. Everybody supports them.”

“Those who question (the leadership), if they claim to be democrats, they should have some courtesy to include us who don”t question (the leadership) and inside the party we can decide whether they are more or we are more. All our objection is about this happening outside the party,” he said.

On whether there are forums available in the party where leaders can articulate their concerns, Khurshid said, “Of course. How did they (those saying there is no forum to express views) become MPs. Everyone who is talking, are they not MPs. That must have been done somewhere in the party, not done on the streets.”

There is a reasonable amount of exchange of views in the party, said Khurshid, who was last week named as convenor of the committee on foreign affairs formed by the party.

Interestingly, among those nominated in the party”s committees on economic affairs, foreign affairs and national security, were senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Veerappa Moily and Shashi Tharoor, who were part of the 23 letter-writers seeking an organisational overhaul of the Congress.

On his recent assertion that if the mood of the electorate is resistant to the liberal values the party has espoused, it should be prepared for a long struggle rather than look for shortcuts, Khurshid said what he meant by shortcut was that one gives up their ideology.

“Why should you give up your ideology. If your ideology is not persuading the voter to go with you, you should either shut shop, or you wait. We persuade the voter, it will take time,” he said.

“Why are we so worried that we have lost power and therefore we must get back into power in weeks or months or years etc. If it doesn”t happen for a while, we will continue to work. Politics is about the passion for a cause, politics is not about a pre-qualification for power. We must pursue our cause and we will pursue our cause,” Khurshid said.

Politics

Don’t commit ‘sin’ of using force against protesters: Sharad Pawar

The former Union Agriculture Minister asked the Centre to hold a dialogue with cultivators seeking scrapping of the new agri-marketing laws giving up its “extreme position” on the issue.

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Sharad Pawar

In the wake of violence during the farmers” tractor parade, NCP president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said what happened in Delhi is indefensible, but one also cannot ignore reasons which led to the situation as he warned against use of force on protesters.

The former Union Agriculture Minister asked the Centre to hold a dialogue with cultivators seeking scrapping of the new agri-marketing laws giving up its “extreme position” on the issue.

A tractor march meant to highlight farmers” demands dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the national capital, as hordes of rampaging protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the rampart of Red Fort, a privilege reserved for the tricolour.

Interacting with media persons here, Pawar said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against protesters and asked the Modi government to not commit that sin.

The farmers organised tractor rally. It was expected of the Centre and those responsible for law and order then to deal with them sensibly. But it did not happen is obvious, Pawar alleged.

Pawar said a way out should have been found over the farmers demands without hurting the protesters who have been agitating for two months.
The NCP leader said from the information he has received, strict conditions were imposed on the protesters before they took out the tractor rally.

It was required to deal with the protesters keeping in mind their 50-60 days agitation and their patience. But a different view was held (by the authorities) and hence, the situation has deteriorated.

None can defend what is happening there today. But we also cannot ignore why it is happening, Pawar said.

Pawar said it was the responsibility of the Centre to note why the farmers who were protesting peacefully till now turned angry and added the government should have handled the agitators accordingly.

But it did not happen and the situation deteriorated, Pawar alleged.

It is my expectation that the Centre shows prudence and gives up its extreme position on the issue while holding dialogue with these (farmers) bodies.

It should hold a dialogue. It should think of their demands seriously and take a suitable decision, Pawar said.

He said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against the agitators.

If this is not done (dialogue is not held) and if we (the Centre) try to use force, then Punjab — which was restless once upon a time, but has recovered — may head towards restlessness and the Modi government should not commit that sin, Pawar added. PTI

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India

Congress to welcome farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi

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The Congress in Delhi will welcome the farmers’ tractor rally on January 26 on the rally route to pledge solidarity with the farmers demanding the repeal of the three farm laws. The Congress workers have been asked by the party to welcome the rally on various points in the capital.

The Congress said the farm laws, if implemented in the present form, will be a total sell-out of the farm sector to a few chosen corporates supporting the BJP, therefore the farmers demand repeal of the laws.

Chowdhry Anil Kumar, President of the Delhi Congress unit said, “The farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi for over the past 60 days, braving the bone-chilling cold weather, demanding the repeal of the anti-farmer laws, and over 100 farmers have already become martyrs to the cause, and I will personally welcome the tractor rally.”

He alleged that the Modi government seems to be unmoved by the plight of the farmers, and adamant that it will not repeal the three laws after 11 rounds of talks with the farmers have produced no result, as the government is firm on not repealing the laws and is just fooling the farmers by holding futile talks. He said that the tractor rally will be a loud statement of the farmers’ anguish and anxiety.

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Politics

Congress has high hopes with DMK in Tamil Nadu

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rahul gandhi pti
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The Congress is pinning its hopes on the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, where it will contest in alliance with the DMK, with former party president Rahul Gandhi making a trip to the southern state twice in 10 days and is expected to visit the state again in February.

Rahul Gandhi has been invoking Tamil pride in the state and attacking the BJP and AIADMK. In one of his speeches, the Congress leader said, “The Prime Minister says one language, one culture and one nation. Is Tamil not an Indian language? Is Tamil history not Indian history?”

Attacking the BJP, Rahul Gandhi said in another of his speeches, “It is an honour for me to be here with you. Whenever I come to Tamil Nadu, I am struck by your enthusiasm and by the way you live your life, something that I call Tamil spirit. No matter what difficulty you face, you always have a smile on your face and remain positive.”

He also said that in every non-BJP ruled state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi uses the CBI and ED to attack the opposition. “Why is the ED and the CBI not investigating the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister? What has the CM given to PM Modi in exchange for this? That is the central question,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi also alleged that Modi has the remote control to the government of Tamil Nadu, but the people of the state will take the batteries out of his remote control and throw them away.

The DMK-Congress alliance had outsmarted the AIADMK in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and holds an advantage in the Assembly elections as the ruling party lacks a charismatic leader such as Jayalalitha.

While the DMK has an alliance with the Congress, the AIADMK is likely to go with the BJP. The Congress is optimistic as its alliance with the DMK and the CPI(M) had won 38 out of the 39 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

There is also an anti-incumbency factor in Tamil Nadu with the AIADMK ruling the state for two terms now.

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