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Rahul Gandhi to address 10 public meetings in Uttar Pradesh in February

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Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi (File Photo)

New Delhi, Jan 11: With indications that the Congress may not be part of the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the party is preparing to contest all the 80 constituencies on its own and party chief Rahul Gandhi is slated to undertake a vigorous campaign in the state.

Gandhi is slated to address 10 public meetings in Uttar Pradesh in February and is slated to make more frequent visits to the state in the run up to the polls in a bid to boost the party’s prospects.

“He (Gandhi) will address 10 public meetings in the state in February,” party leader P. L. Punia told IANS.

He said Gandhi would be in the state “every third day” next month.

Punia said the Congress was open to be part of an alliance with the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party to defeat the BJP but “we are fighting on our own in any case”.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav are slated to hold a joint press conference in Lucknow on Saturday and are likely to announce the seat sharing formula between the two parties.

The two parties are learnt to have reached an understanding to share 37 seats each and leave two for Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). The alliance might also leave two seats – Amethi and Rae Bareli for the Congress. While Amethi is represented by Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi represents Rae Bareli.

These were the only two seats the Congress won in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which the BSP drew a blank and the SP managed to win five seats. The BJP swept 71 seats while its ally Apna Dal got two seats in a four-way contest.

In 2009, the Congress had won 22 Lok Sabha seats in UP but has been on the decline since then.

In an interview earlier this week, Gandhi had said that his party will be a strong force in Uttar Pradesh.

“The Congress idea is very powerful for Uttar Pradesh. So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people… I just want to say again that (to) underestimate the Congress in UP is a mistake,” he had said.

Gandhi has also talked about the party’s willingness to form a larger grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh.

“We are trying to bring opposition together… UP is work in progress. I have heard some statements in the media but we are going to work together and make sure that we defeat Mr Modi,” he had said.

IANS

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Priyanka Gandhi: A potent campaigner who can make a difference to the Congress

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Priyanka Gandhi

An effective campaigner, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be fulfilling a long-cherished wish of Congress workers and injecting a new enthusiasm in the partys preparations for the coming Lok Sabha elections by making a full-fledged entry into active politics in the treacherous battleground of Uttar Pradesh.

Her sudden appointment as General Secretary by the party President and her brother, Rahul Gandhi, Amethi took the country’s political circles by surprise and has rejuvenated the Congress rank and file.

The appointment came just as campaign has started picking up pace for the Lok Sabha polls slated for April-May.

A mother of two, Priyanka Gandhi, 47, has been reluctant to take a full political plunge even though she has been campaigning for Rahul Gandhi and her mother and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in their constituencies in the parliamentary polls and has been involved in party decisions and strategy concerning Uttar Pradesh.

The first signal of her taking an active political role came in 2017 when she was involved in the backroom discussions to thrash out an alliance with Samajwadi Party during the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.

With Rahul Gandhi emerging as the heir apparent to Nehru-Gandhi family legacy in the Congress since he contested his first parliamentary election in 2004, Priyanka Gandhi has preferred to be in the background and has been a pillar of support to her brother.

Priyanka Gandhi is seen as charismatic, poised, sharp, intelligent, combative, communicative, quick-witted and a leader who easily connects with people.

Party rank and file see her as the “brahmastra” to defeat the BJP and she is seen to have more prowess as a campaigner than her brother.

Her appointment has enthused party workers. As general secretary incharge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi is expected to energise the party’s campaign and queer the pitch for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the MP from Varanasi.

Her appointment has come at a critical time for the Congress. The party is no longer in the pole position in Indian politics, having been squeezed out by the BJP.

After its debacle in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has lost several elections to the BJP and finally made a turn around late last year after forming governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The party is emaciated in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to parliament, and the two seats the party won in 2014 were in no small measure due to the role played by Priyanka Gandhi in the campaign.

The Congress has been edged out of Bajujan Samaj Party-Samawadi Party alliance for the Lok Sabha polls in the state and an apparent reason for Priyanka being given an active role in the state is Rahul Gandhi’s desire “to play on the front foot” wherever the party is contesting elections.

With her mannerisms and looks reminiscent of former Prime Minister and her grandmother Indira Gandhi – who was seen as a decisive leader and a fighter – Congress workers always have had an innate and abiding faith in Priyanka Gandhi and in her ability to deliver at the grassroots.

Posters of “Priyanka lao” have often appeared outside the Congress central office after the party’s defeats over the last four-and-a-half years.

A private person, Priyanka Gandhi had, in an interview to NDTV, described herself “almost a recluse” and said she did not want to be in politics.

“I’m very happy living my life the way I am. I think there are certain aspects of politics which I’m just not suited to,” she had said.

Priyanka Gandhi had also said that she sees herself more like her father, Rajiv Gandhi, than her grandmother and had expressed an abiding admiration for her Italian-born mother for the way she steered the party through difficult times despite not having a natural liking for the party. “If there’s one woman I admire in the world, it’s my mother,” she had said.

Priyanka Gandhi has not eschewed political crossfire in the past, having attacked the BJP and Modi during her campaigns in Amethi and Rae Bareli. She had also taken part in the midnight potest last year by Rahul Gandhi against the Kathua and Unnao rapes.

Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into active politics is also seen as a step to give her a formal role in assisting Rahul Gandhi in running the grand Old Party when Sonia Gandhi is not longer very active due to health-related issues.

There has been an apprehension and speculation that two power centres could emerge in the Congress with her formal entry but observers feel Priyanka Gandhi is unlikely to allow any such tendency to gain ground.

There has also been an apprehension that cases of alleged irregularities in land deals faced by her husband Robert Vadra could be a reason for the delay in her taking a more active role in politics.

Having taken the political plunge, she is also expected to contest the Lok Sabha polls. If and when she announces that decision, it will create another buzz in the Congress which could hope to improve its prospects in the Lok Sabha polls.

Like her brother, Priyanka Gandhi has braved personal tragedies of assassination of her father Rahul Gandhi and her grandmother Indira Gandhi.

Priyanka Gandhi was born on January 12, 1972 in New Delhi and did her schooling in the city. She later pursued her degreee in psychology from Jesus and Mary College.

IANS

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Priyanka to work hard to give UP Congress CM: Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi

Amethi, Jan 23: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said his sister Priyanka Gandhi, appointed General Secretary of the party in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, will now ensure that a Congress Chief Minister gets to rule Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing an event in his parliamentary constituency Amethi, the Gandhi scion said that she will work hard to make sure that the sprawling state gets a Congress administration.

“Aaj maine Priyanka ko UP ka General Secretary bana diya hai. Ab wo yahan par Congress ka apna CM baithane ka kaam karengi,” he said as crowds of party workers cheered.

The Congress leader also said that his party would now fight the battle of Uttar Pradesh with its full might.

Earlier, Gandhi laid the foundation stone of 18 developmental projects on his arrival at Fursatganj in Amethi on a two-day visit.

He was greeted by overzealous party workers at several places. He also met gram panchayat representatives. Posters and banners carrying his and Priyanka’s pictures came up at many places in Amethi.

Celebrations also broke out in many parts of Rae Bareli, the parliamentary constituency of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Jubilant Congress activists and supporters took to the streets in Lucknow too, dancing and raising slogans in favour of Priyanka Gandhi.

“Indira is back!” read some posters, an obvious reference to the striking resemblance between Priyanka Gandhi and her late grandmother Indira Gandhi.

IANS

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BJP earned Rs 553 crore from unknown sources in 2017-18

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bjp corporate donations

New Delhi, Jan 23: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has amassed over Rs 553 crore as income from unknown sources in 2017-18, which is 80 percent of total such income and four times the aggregate declared by the five other national parties.

According to a report by election watchdog the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) released on Wednesday, a total of Rs 689.44 crore was declared as income from unknown sources by the national parties, of which the BJP pocketed Rs 553.38 crore.

Unknown sources are income declared in the IT returns but without giving source of income for donations below Rs 20,000.

Such unknown sources include donations via Electoral Bonds, sale of coupons, relief fund, miscellaneous income, voluntary contributions, contribution from meetings/morchas. The details of donors of such voluntary contributions are not available in the public domain.

“At present, political parties are not required to reveal the name of individuals or organisations giving less than Rs 20,000 nor those who donated via Electoral Bonds. As a result, more than 50 per cent of the funds cannot be traced and are from ‘unknown’ sources. While the national political parties were brought under the RTI Act by the CIC ruling in June 2013, they have still not complied with the decision,” the ADR said in the report.

As per the report, the total income of six national political parties barring the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in 2017-18 stood at Rs 1,293.05 crore.

While their total income from known donors was Rs 467.13 crore or 36 per cent of the total income, their income from other known sources (sale of assets, membership fees, bank interest, sale of publications, party levy) was Rs 136.48 crore or 11 per cent of total income.

The total income of political parties from unknown sources (income specified in the IT Returns whose sources are unknown) was Rs 689.44 crore, which is 53 per cent of the total income of the parties.

Of Rs 689.44 crore as income from unknown sources, share of income from Electoral Bonds was Rs 215 crore or 31 per cent.

The BJP also got over 93 per cent of donations of above Rs 20,000 received by national political parties, during 2017-18, pocketing Rs 437.04 crore of the total Rs 469.89 crore donated by corporates and individuals.

Of the total donations, the BJP got the lion’s share with 2,977 donations followed by the Congress which has declared receiving Rs 26.658 crore

In the last 14 years (2004-05 to 2017-18), the national parties have collected Rs 8,721.14 crore from unknown sources.

Currently, there are seven national parties – the BJP, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist and All India Trinamool Congress.

IANS

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