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Rahul shuts doors on BSP-SP, says Congress will contest with full might



Priyanka Rahul Gandhi Roadshow

Lucknow, Feb 11 (IANS) Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday virtually shut the doors on the BSP and Samajwadi Party and said that while he respected their leaders Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, there should be no doubt that his party will fight the coming Lok Sabha polls with “its full might and ability” in Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing Congress workers at the party office, the Gandhi scion said that the time had come when the ideology of the Congress should be resurrected in the state and added, while gesturing towards party General Secretaries Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia, that these people had been sent to Uttar Pradesh not just for the Lok Sabha polls but to also ensure that the Congress “forms the next state government”.

“We will yield not an inch on our ideology. The people of the state have suffered a lot, they have tried and tested every party and the Congress will have to form the next government for the sake of progress and prosperity of Uttar Pradesh,” he declared as the workers applauded amid slogans of “Rahul Bhaiyya, Rahul Bhaiyya”.

Exhorting party activists to work hard for the electoral battle that lies ahead, he pointed out that it was a “fight between an ideology and unity and brotherhood on one side and the RSS, BJP and Narendra Modi’s divisive and hate-centred politics on the other”.

He assured the party workers that leaders will not be “air-dropped any more” and that the grassroot workers would be encouraged.

He again trained his guns on Prime Minister Modi for alleged corruption.

Gandhi said that there was no dearth of issues to put the Modi government on the mat — be it farm loan waiver, promised jobs and even corruption. Modi had let down the people of all sections of the society, the Congress leader said at the end of a roadshow of his sister Priyanka Gandhi and Scindia.

“Loans of no farmer has been waived but his industrialist friends have got benefits from the Prime Minister. Two crore jobs were promised every year but nothing has happened.”

Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, he imitated Modi’s style of speech and said that while earlier he used to speak with his head held high and his 56-inch chest pumped up, now he spoke with his head down.

“He is on the defensive, his hollowness has been exposed before the whole country,” Gandhi said.


Rahul Gandhi to launch election campaign in Maharashtra on March 1



Rahul Gandhi

Mumbai, Feb 18: Congress President Rahul Gandhi will launch the national campaign for the coming Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra with a mega rally in Dhule, a traditional party bastion, on March 1, an official said here on Monday.

Gandhi will begin the campaign at 3 p.m. in the presence of other top leaders.

The same day, as per a tentative schedule, he may even visit Mumbai and address a rally here.

The UPA alliance in Maharashtra will set the ball rolling for the parliamentary elections by its first joint poll campaign rally in Nanded on Wednesday, said state party chief Ashok Chavan.

The rally will see the participation of UPA constituents including the Nationalist Congress Party, the PRP and other parties and their top leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, Sharad Pawar and Jogendra Kawade.

This will be followed by another UPA rally to be hosted by the NCP’s Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde, in his home town of Parli, Beed, on Saturday.

According to party sources, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi is also likely to address some rallies in the state, although the details are yet to be finalised.

Dhule and Nanded are traditional Congress bastions in Northern Maharashtra and the Marathwada regions of the state, with a fair sprinkling of minorities, tribals, Dalits and other sections of population.


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Congress to finalize candidates, manifesto by February




New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) With a view to preventing infighting due to ticket distribution, the Congress has directed all its state units to expedite the process of candidate selection as well as state-wise electoral understanding for the Lok Sabha before this month which shall be then approved by the Congress Election Committee.

The recent Assembly polls, particularly in Rajasthan, saw a lot of infighting in the Congress over ticket distribution, causing embarrassment to the central leadership. Several disgruntled party leaders staged protests and over a dozen contested as independents, denting the party’s showing.

In order to avoid a repeat of a similar situation, the state units have been told to expedite the procedure of candidate selection and submit the lists before the month end.

One of the major issues discussed during the recent Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with general secretaries and state unit chiefs was ticket distribution.

“Ticket distribution has always been a contentious issue with all the parties. But this time it has been decided that ticket distribution will be finalized only after names recommended are approved. All state units will prepare their candidate lists before end of February,” a Congress leader who did not want to be identified by name told IANS.

The leader also said that the Congress will announce most of its candidates by the end of March, allowing them sufficient time to campaign. The Lok Sabha election schedule is expected to be announced by the Election Commission in the first week of March.

“Soon after the schedule is announced, the candidate lists will be published gradually and we expect to complete the process by the end of March,” said the leader.

Besides giving more powers in term of candidate selection, the state units have been asked to provide details of local issues and feedback on the central issues that are to be included in the election manifesto.

Along with the key issues of unemployment, agrarian distress, attacks on democratic institutions and “Rafale scam”, suggestions from the Indian diaspora across the globe has also been taken to incorporate their views in the manifesto expected to be released in March.

The Manifesto Committee, comprising key party leaders P. Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid, Shashi Tharoor and Sam Pitroda among others, so far has held 176 consultations in 56 cities taking public feedback on the issues to be incorporated in the manifesto.

Among the major highlights of the manifesto will be Gandhi’s mega poll promise of “minimum income guarantee”. With consultations from renowned economists that reportedly include former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, the manifesto will provide the blueprint of the scheme touted by the Congress as a “game-changer”.

Involving the party’s various wings including women, students and youth, the Congress has also taken the views of transgenders. An advocate of transgenders rights, Apsara Reddy was appointed the General Secretary of the Congress women wing in January.

The party has also been seeking ideas from the public through a dedicated website for the manifesto where netizens can submit their ideas and issues.

The meeting of the CWC – the Congress’ highest decision making body – will be held on February 26 in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat. The meeting, presided over by Rahul Gandhi, will also be attended by newly-appointed General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh among others.

Besides the strategies and roadmap for the election battle, the party leaders will also discuss and chalk out a draft of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the anti-BJP front of opposition parties.

Following a meeting on February 13, opposition parties decided to have a pre-poll pact and Rahul Gandhi was tasked to circulate a draft CMP among the opposition parties.

“As has been decided by all the opposition parties earlier, the major agenda in the CMP will be unemployment, agrarian crisis, attacks on democratic institutions and the abuse of central agencies to stifle the opposition and dissenting voices,” said a Congress leader.

(Anurag Dey can be contacted at [email protected])

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After tough posturing, Sena and BJP to seal alliance

The Sena is the biggest and oldest saffron ally of BJP – without break for nearly three decades, barring a brief snap-off before the 2014 Assembly election.



Amit Shah Uddhav Thackeray MH

Mumbai, Feb 18 (IANS) Tottering on the brink for months, the Shiv Sena managed to bulldoze its way with the BJP, paving the way for a pre-poll alliance for the Lok Sabha and in all probability even the Assembly polls later in the year, party sources said on Monday.

“It is finalized. It will be closed around our proposed formula of 25-23 seats for BJP-Sena respectively in Lok Sabha and 50-50 in the Assembly. We shall announce the details formally this evening,” a top Sena leader told IANS requesting anonymity.

However, the ticklish issue of Sena’s demand for the post of Chief Minister remains unresolved and various options are being put forth by the BJP on this front. It will depend on how many seats each partner bags in the 288-member Assembly.

The two parties are expected to address a joint press conference with Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expected to be present, besides the possibility of BJP President Amit Shah joining them, on Monday evening.

The developments came after weeks of adamant public posturing on both sides, though second channel talks were secretly conducted between senior leaders of the two parties, culminating in the reported alliance.

The Sena is the biggest and oldest saffron ally of BJP – without break for nearly three decades, barring a brief snap-off before the 2014 Assembly election.

A couple of months after the BJP formed the government headed by Fadnavis, the Sena, which sat with the opposition, walked over to the ruling side.

Embarrassing the ruling NDA, during the entire tenure, the Sena remained the sharpest critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Shah and Prime Minster Narendra Modi on various issues ranging from demonetization to the state of the economy.

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