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Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel slams BJP for intolerance, arrogance

Farmers, labourers and others – all are worried. The BJP will be defeated in 2019.



ahmed patel

New Delhi, Feb 7 : The Congress in Rajya Sabha today accused the BJP-led government of being “intolerant and full of arrogance” and painting a “rosy” picture even when the ground realities only told a story of tall promises and failures.

Participating in a resumed debate on the motion of thanks for the President’s address, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said even BJP allies like the Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam or the Shiromani Akali Dal also do not seem to agree with the “rosy projections” being painted.

The Rajya Sabha did away with the Question Hour to take up the debate on the motion of thanks.

Due to such a ground situation, the BJP is not keen on holding the Lok Sabha bypolls due in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that the BJP would fall below the majority mark if it loses these bye-elections.

Patel also claimed that a “feeling of insecurity” was prevailing across the country, whether it is in the social fabric, economic matters, national security, judiciary or independent constitutional institutions. There is no area which has escaped the feeling of insecurity, he said.

“Farmers, labourers and others – all are worried. The BJP will be defeated in 2019,” he said, claiming even the Union Budget, on which the government had pinned its hopes, has “turned out to be a flop”.

Referring to statements by BJP allies, Patel said the Shiv Sena had accused its saffron ally of lying, while the TDP has claimed it has reneged on its promises. Even Akali Dal has said that getting 272 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 will be a difficult task.

Taking a jibe at the BJP leadership, he said the situation was such that “something will have to be done”.

Rebutting BJP chief Amit Shah’s comments that the NDA government was filling the space left by the erstwhile UPA regime, Patel said in 2004, when the Vajpayee government left office, annual per capita income was Rs 24,000. In 2014, when the Manmohan Singh-led government ended its term, per capita income had risen to Rs 70,000, he said.

In contrast, the debt during the NDA rule has risen, he said, adding that it was “clear who is digging potholes”.

The leaders of the BJP only know how to try to defame the Congress and the Gandhi family, Patel, a close aide of former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, said.

Attacking the government on the issue of corruption, he asked why the Centre had reduced the budget for the RTI, not filled key vacancies and neither appointed a Lokpal.

Patel said it was said that the BJP had formed governments in states like Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Manipur after the Modi government came to power at the Centre. In Manipur and Goa, Congress was the single largest party but the BJP formed the goverment.

“With whose support and how?…Now is this ethical, is this morality,” he asked.

Patel said that except one case, in all Lok Sabha bypolls held after the present government assumed office, it was the Congress or its allies who emerged victorious.

The BJP tally has come down from 282 to 273, while the Congress’s tally has risen after 2014, he said.

Reciting an Urdu couplet, the Congress leader said it was easy to reach the top using propaganda, but the real challenge was to remain at the top.

Patel claimed that those who talk of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state polls, could not even hold the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat polls together as the prime minister had to launch a Ro-Ro ferry service, which has now closed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Gujarat several times, flew on a sea plane, made references to Pakistan, but despite that, the BJP shrunk to double digits winning only 99 seats. The Congress, on the other hand, has emerged with more seats than the BJP in the rural areas.

“In Gujarat, we won despite losing, while you lost even after winning…The people know who has won,” Patel said.

Referring to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he took a dig at the BJP saying that while the saffron party may use his name for poll gains, they had a “special affection” for the surname which he and Hardik Patel also shared.

Patel also claimed that water was wrongly diverted from Gujarat water bodies earlier, ignoring the requirements of the farmers of the state who are suffering now.

The veteran Congress leader said one of the “supposedly better performing ministers” Nitin Gadkari had announced about multi-nation road projects but nothing moved on the ground.

He said it was claimed that the present government was building over 20 km of roads every day, much more than the previous regime. However, if the data related to roads widened or repaired are separeted, the figure would come down to 6 or 7 km, he said.

“Tall claims are made for marketing, but nothing is done for implementation,” Patel said.

He recited a poem by Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar to suggest that it was futile even for authoritarian regimes to impose their will on everyone and asserted that the leaders of Congress are not scared of IT, ED or CBI raids.

DMK member RS Bharati said that Tamil Nadu was neglected in the budget. He also raised issue of water for farmers. He also raised another issue related to a resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on the NEET exam.


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



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.


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



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.


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



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.


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