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Opposition should forge a state-specific anti-BJP front: Kamal Nath

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Kamal Nath
Kamal Nath File Photo

New Delhi, May 6 (IANS)The Congress cannot be isolated by those trying to form a Third Front or Federal Front, says senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, who feels that the opposition should come together with state-specific anti-BJP fronts to unseat the Modi government in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

He dismisses reports that parties like the Trinamool Congress and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS of Telangana) are not comfortable with the leadership of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and has no problems about Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK of Tamil Nadu) Working President M.K. Stalin talking to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.

The nine-time MP also rejects suggestions that the Congress was adopting a soft-Hindutva stance to counter an image that it was pro-Muslim.

“Congress is an all-India party. It can never be isolated. The question is to have an anti-BJP front. It has to be state-specific. That’s the thing. The basic thing is that it will have to be anti-BJP. BJP polled 31 per cent votes in parliament (elections) and they claimed they have a national mandate which is false,” Kamal Nath, who has just been appointed the Madhya Pradesh Congress chief, told IANS in an interview.

He was asked about efforts by leaders such as Rao, who is also the TRS chief, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee talking about forging a Federal or a Third Front and whether there was an attempt to isolate the Congress.

Such efforts to unite regional parties have gained momentum in the past two months with Rao meeting leaders of several parties including Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader H. D. Deve Gowda, DMK leader Stalin and Jarkhand Mukti Morcha leader Hemant Soren. He has also received support for his proposal from former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi. Rao has also met Banerjee, who is making efforts to bring together opposition parties and has pitched for one-to-one contest with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

During her visit to Delhi in March, Banerjee had met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar besides MPs from the Shiv Sena, TRS, Biju Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and DMK. She also met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and got the backing of former Union ministers Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie in her efforts to forge a front against the BJP.

Banerjee had met United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and stressed on the Congress to join a united opposition front against the BJP.

Nath, a former Union minister, said the proposal of one-to-one contests against BJP-led NDA was being discussed.

“We are discussing it. Everything is under discussion at the moment because parliament elections are one year away,” he said.

The 71-year-old leader said discussions among opposition parties were inconclusive and there was no question of any reservations about Congress President Rahul Gandhi leading the proposed anti-BJP front.

“Everybody is talking to everybody. There are back channels. So there is no question of reservations,” he said in answer to a query about any apprehensions in the opposition camp about Gandhi’s leaderhip.

Asked if the 2019 electoral battle will be a contest between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, Nath said: “Let us see. It will be an anti-Modi, anti-BJP contest,” he said.

There have been suggestions, including by Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien, that opposition should play to its strengths and not pitch the next Lok Sabha polls as a presidential-style contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

O’Brien had also suggested that “collective leadership” would bring parties together against the BJP in each state and it was easier to take on Modi with a strong face in each state.

Asked if the Congress will take the lead in the opposition alliance, Kamal Nath said everything has to be state-specific.

“Everything has got to be state-specific. Like in West Bengal it has to be very different to Haryana. Kerala has got to be very different to Tamil Nadu,” he said.

Sonia Gandhi has also been convening meetings of opposition parties to forge unity on various issues against the policies of the BJP-led government. These parties, which include some outside the Congress-led UPA, had put common candidates for presidential and vice-presidential elections last year against the NDA.

Kamal Nath also said there is nothing wrong about Chandrasekhar Rao talking to Congress ally DMK.

“Why not? I think everybody should talk to everybody. Then each one will understand everyone’s position. Nothing wrong with that. You see non-dialogue is bad,” he said.

To a question about the Congress adopting a soft-Hindutva approach with top leaders including Rahul Gandhi visiting temples, Nath said, “We are all deeply religious. This is a ploy that the BJP….(is resorting) to such a propaganda. We all visit temples all the time. I have built a 101-feet Hanuman Mandir in Chhindwara many years ago. I have been to temples. Does that mean I am becoming pro-Hindu? I am Hindu, I am not Hindutva. We are inclusive. Congress politics is very inclusive politics. You cannot make divisions in society.”

IANS

Health

Karnataka rejects probe into COVID purchases, Oppn walks out of House

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Yediyurappa Karnataka

Bengaluru, Sep 23 : After the opposition demand for a judicial inquiry into procurements made during the COVID-19 pandemic was rejected, opposition Congress lawmakers led by Siddaramaiah walked out of the Assembly in protest on Wednesday.

Karnataka Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar earlier asserted that there was no corruption in any of the procurements done during the pandemic.

Replying to a debate on alleged procurement scams pointed out by opposition parties in the Assembly, Sudhakar said that there was no deviation of funds or corruption. “So, where is the question of ordering a probe? The state government rejects all allegations made by the Opposition,” the Minister said.

He charged the opposition lawmakers with trying to derive political mileage which he said was demoralising officials and Corona Warriors.

According to him, ventilators procured by the Tamil Nadu government are transport ventilators used in ambulances. “Hence, it is not correct to compare our ventilators with those in Tamil Nadu. Ventilators of different specifications and quality are available for different prices; one should not get confused with different prices,” he maintained.

The Minister asserted that the market prices vary as per the demand, and the procurement is done on the basis of prevailing prices.

“There is no instance of corruption in the procurement of equipment for the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Not even a single deviation has taken place and, therefore, there is no need for an investigation,” he asserted.

“When there was no domestic production, we procured three lakh PPE kits from China. Subsequently, we decided to purchase from local manufacturers, that too ICMR-approved kits. Similar procedures were followed by other states as well,” the Minister explained.

He said there was shortage of sanitisers in the state but after talks with distillery owners, the demand has since been met.

Earlier, several opposition leaders, including Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah accused the state government of indulging in rampant corruption during the pandemic.

“Be it the purchase of ventilators, beds, medicines, or PPE kits, every procurement was cleared only after a cut. Hence, it is necessary to order a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court Judge,” he said, as other opposition members endorsed his views.

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Changing alliances set the tone for Bihar Polls

The BJP’s Bihar unit President Sanjay Jaiswal says the NDA has jumped into the poll fray with full force. The BJP-led NDA parties were contesting on the sole plank of development.

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bihar election

Patna, Sep 23 : Political parties in Bihar are busy chalking out strategies for the Assembly elections which are likely to be held in October-November this year though the Election Commission (EC) has not yet announced the poll dates.

In many cases, parties which were friends during the last elections will now be seen as opponents while foes in the last polls have joined hands.

In the last assembly elections, the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) fought against each other but in this election they are together in the NDA-fold.

The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is likely to remain in the NDA this time as well but the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) which was with the NDA during the last elections has severed ties with it. Former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha’s party RLSP is now part of the Opposition Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) for the forthcoming election.

However, the RLSP and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) are said to be upset as the seat-sharing formula in the Grand Alliance has not yet been decided.

Former MP Pappu Yadav has also announced to contest this year’s election through the Jan Adhikar Party (Loktantrik). Yadav has not yet aligned with any opposition party.

The BJP is enthused with the JDU coming back to the NDA. The importance of the Bihar elections for the BJP can be gauged from the fact that its National President J.P. Nadda has already reached Patna and is busy reviewing preparations for the polls.

The Left which contested the last elections alone is likely to join the Grand Alliance this time. There have been several rounds of talks between the Left and the RJD on contesting the elections together.

RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari said the Opposition grand alliance should expand its outreach. Negotiations were on with many other parties, he added. Asked about the resentment over the seat-sharing formula, he said candidates who could guarantee a win were being selected.

The BJP’s Bihar unit President Sanjay Jaiswal says the NDA has jumped into the poll fray with full force. The BJP-led NDA parties were contesting on the sole plank of development.

In the last Bihar assembly elections, the JDU, the RJD and the Congress had contested together under the Grand Alliance and formed the government with absolute majority. Later, however the JDU broke away from the alliance and formed the government in Bihar by joining hands with the BJP.

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After taking VRS, Bihar DGP Pandey may take political plunge

Meanwhile, Pandey has denied all allegations levelled by Shiv Sena and other political parties.

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Gupteshwar Pandey IPS

Patna, Sep 23 (IANS) A day after taking voluntary retirement, speculation is rife that Bihars former Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey may begin his political innings. Though nothing has been finalised yet, Pandey says he will talk to people and plan his journey ahead.

Speaking to IANS on Wednesday, Pandey said that it was not necessary to join politics to serve the people. Pandey, who is active in social service, said after discussing with people, he will decide on the road ahead and then disclose his future plans.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, he said he was under pressure from the people of many districts in Bihar, including Jehanabad, Begusarai, Valmiki Nagar and Bagaha to contest the forthcoming assembly elections. Thousands of supporters from several places in the state, were in touch with him, he added.

Pandey came into the limelight for his vocal comments after the death of late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput who was born in Patna. After the Supreme Court endorsed the CBI investigation recommended by the Bihar government, Pandey had said that Rhea Chakraborty “does not have the aukat (stature)” to comment on the Chief Minister.

Following the VRS , Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut launched a sharp attack on Pandey, saying he had been carrying out a political agenda in the Sushant Singh Rajput investigation while holding the post of DGP Bihar. “IPS or IAS officers of the country should be fair and must not be influenced by any political party,” Raut had said.

Meanwhile, Pandey has denied all allegations levelled by Shiv Sena and other political parties.

“People are connecting my VRS with investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput and blaming me of taken political advantage of it. I want to say that the FIR was registered in Patna since Sushant’s old father could not travel to Mumbai. He was not satisfied with the Mumbai Police investigation. As DGP Bihar, it was my duty to help Sushant’s father.”

Following a sharp attack by Shiv Sena over Pandey’s retirement, the BJP has defended Pandey’s right to join politics if he so desires. Nikhil Anand, the chief spokesperson of BJP Bihar unit, said it was best left to Pandey. “I don’t know why parties like Shiv Sena are making a hue and cry over his VRS or joining politics. We live in a democracy and it is his democratic right. The opinion of BJP or any other political parties is not required,” Anand said.

Pandey has praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Responding to a question he said, “Nitish ji is very strict in terms of administration and policing. He does not intervene in policing nor does he tolerate any outside interference in its functioning.”

Pandey, a 1987 batch IPS officer, took over as Bihar DGP last year. He was scheduled to retire in February 2021 but he took early retirement. Pandey, who has held the post of Superintendent of Police in several districts in Bihar, is renowned for his social work.

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