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Somen Mitra to head Congress in Bengal

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Somen Mitra

Kolkata, Sep 22 : The Congress on Friday appointed Somen Mitra as President of its West Bengal unit, replacing Adhir Ranajan Chowdhury who was bitterly anti-Trinamool Congress and pro-Left. Chowdhury will be the Chairman of the campaign committee.

Immediately after the announcement, Mitra said he would work to strengthen the party in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“If we fail to strengthen the party’s organisation, we will not be able to get people’s support. Therefore, my first aim will be to strengthen the party in Bengal. We need collaborative cooperation by party leaders, activists and general people to achieve that goal,” he said.

Mitra, who takes over the reins of the state Congress after over two decades, refused to say whether his party would join hands with the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress to counter the rising clout of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

“We cannot take a decision on that. Congress is a national party. So decisions taken by the state units do not have any value. If the party asks us, we will convey our opinion,” he said.

“I will talk to co-workers and party leaders and then take the call on this issue.”

“Party’s central leadership has given me this responsibility. They have shown confidence and belief on me. I have never asked for any post from any level of our party’s leadership,” he said responding to a query on the possible reasons for which he was handed over responsibility at the age of 75.

Mitra assured he would hold talks with the Congress MLAs who had been opposing Chowdhury’s leadership in the state.

Chowdhury had repeatedly claimed that he does not have any political understanding with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and argued in favour of an alliance with the Left in 2019.

Besides the appointments of Mitra and Chowdhury, Congress President Rahul Gandhi also named Pradip Bhattacharya as the Chairman of the Coordination Committee.

Shankar Malakar, Nepal Mahato and Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury have been named as Working Presidents.

Mitra, affectionately called “Chhorda” (youngest elder brother) by the Congress rank and file, has enjoyed a bitter sweet relations with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. The two became arch-rivals when Banerjee started rising in the party hierarchy by leaving behind veteran leaders in the mid 1980s and the 1990s.

It was after losing to Mitra’s organisational might in the state Congress presidential election that Banerjee quit the party and formed the Trinamool in 1997.

Mitra, on the other hand, left the Congress in 2008 to float his own party, Pragatisheel Indira Congress, which he merged with the Trinamool in 2009. He won the Lok Sabha polls on a Trinamool ticket in 2009, but rejoined the Congress in 2014.

There have been reports of infighting within the Bengal Congress for some time, with several state party members writing to the central leadership seeking Chowdhury’s removal to revive the Congress in the state.

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Election

Chhattisgarh polls: Congress releases list of 12 candidates

The first phase of polling is spread across Maoist-affected districts of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon.

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Congress

New Delhi, Oct 18 : The Congress on Thursday released its first list of 12 candidates for the Chhattisgarh assembly elections.

Eleven of the 12 candidates announced are in seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes. The party has fielded seven sitting legislators and five fresh faces for the 12 of the 18 seats that go to the polls for the first phase on November 12.

The first phase of polling is spread across Maoist-affected districts of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon.

The party has fielded Lakheshwar Baghel from Bastar, Rekhchand Jain from Jagdalpur, Devati Karma from Dantewada. Shishu Pal Sori from Kanker, Vikram Shah Mandavi from Bijapur, Mohan Lal Markam from Kondagaon, Anoop Nag from Antagarh, Manoj Singh Mandavi from Bhanupratappur, Santram Netam from Keshkal, Chandan Kashyap from Narayanpur, Deepak Kumar Baij from Chitrakot and Kawasi Lakhma from Konta.

The party has also released a list of 40 star campaigners for the first phase that includes Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin.

Elections for the 90-member assembly will be held in two phases — November 12 and November 20. The results will be declared on December 11.

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Politics

Who’s stopping you from building temple, Owaisi tells Bhagwat

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Owaisi

Hyderabad, Oct 18 : “Bring it. Who is stopping you and your government?” This is how MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday reacted to RSS Mohan Bahgwat’s demand for a law to build a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya.

The Hyderabad MP said that Bhagwat’s statement was a clear example of a nation converted into totalitarianism.

“The RSS and BJP believe in totalitarianism. They do not believe in pluralism or in rule of law,” Owaisi told reporters here.

Addressing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers during the annual “Vijayadashmi Utsav” in Nagpur, Bhagwat said the government should bring a legislation to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief said the RSS chief was ignorant of law as the Supreme Court in Ismail Farooqi judgment made it clear that the government cannot make a law for a particular religion as this was against basic structure of the Constitution and violates Article 14.

“This government and RSS are symbols of totalitarianism. They are ignorant of law. They want to do whatever they like,” said the MP.

On Bhagwat’s assertion that some fundamentalist elements were trying to obstruct the temple construction, Owaisi said fascists and people who believe in totalitarianism ideology believe they are paragon of virtue and rest are anti-nationals.

“This is not new. We have been seeing this since the times when Nazis were ruling Germany and Mussolini was in power in Italy. Wherever there are totalitarian regimes, they call themselves paragon of virtue and consider others anti-national,” he said.

On reports that the RSS planned to campaign for the BJP in 2019 elections, Owaisi said the RSS had always been helping the BJP and that the whole country knows that RSS was the main face of the BJP.

“The Prime Minister of our country himself is Sweyamsevak. RSS keeps forgetting they can’t dabble in politics because one of the conditions for withdrawal of the ban on them was that they will not participate in politics but they have been doing it,” he added.

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India

MeToo being blown out of proportion: Shatrughan Sinha

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Shatrughan Sinha (File Photo)

Mumbai, Oct 18: Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha says while the MeToo movement is noble, it is becoming “free-for-all” and being blown out of proportion.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Your dear friend Subhash Ghai stands accused of multiple sexual offences. Your comments?

A. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? I am all for the MeToo movement, never in my 40-year career have I misbehaved with any woman. I treat every lady with utmost respect. Having said that, I think this MeToo campaign is being blown out of all proportion.

Q. In what way?

A. While the cause was definitely noble and praiseworthy, it has now become a free-for-all. Anyone can name and shame anyone. Reputations and jobs are being lost through a trial by media. To all the women who are aggrieved I say, please go to court and make sure the wrongdoers are punished.

Q. You’ve done some terrific films with Subhash Ghai. Would you work with him in future?

A. Why not? If he is proven innocent, why not? Even if he is proven guilty, and he serves the punishment given to him, I’d work with him. Sanjay Dutt served his jail sentence and is back working in our large-hearted film industry. In fact, we had no problem working with him even when he was an accused in a serious case.

Q. Many of the top stars and directors have vowed not to work with sexual offenders?

A. This hypocrisy I can’t understand. They have no problem working with Sanjay Dutt who has been convicted. But they want to blacklist people whose guilt is yet to be proven. Just to look like heroes of the MeToo movement.

Q. A-list actors have dissociated themselves from tainted directors?

A. I don’t want to name anyone. But I will say this. Sau choohe khaa kar billi haj ko chali’. Those seeking to perch themselves on a high moral ground, should look into their conscience. The problem of sexual exploitation, doesn’t end with some names being put out in the social media. This is just the beginning. The problem runs much deeper.

Q. Your tainted party colleague M.J. Akbar refuses to step down. What is your take on his brazen attitude?

A. I don’t even know which political party I belong to anymore! Having said that, M.J. Akbar is a friend. And a wise one. I know him from the time he revolutionised journalism in this country. He knows what he is doing, and why. I believe he has employed 97 lawyers to defend him against charges (of sexual harassment). He should have employed three more lawyers… It would have been a century… Seriously, how can he afford such a massive legal fleet? I can’t afford it if I ever need it.

IANS

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