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Politics

Modi, Shah issuing contradictory statements on Jammu and Kashmir: Kapil Sibal

The Congress has been attacking the ruling party ever since the government on August 5 decided to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divide it into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh.

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New Delhi, Oct 14: Congress senior leader Kapil Sibal on Monday hit out Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for issuing contradictory statements about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been under unprecedented security cover after its special status was scrapped.

Taking to Twitter, Rajya Sabha MP Sibal mentioned election speeches by the two BJP leaders to highlight that all was not well in the state.

ON September 29, Home Minister Amit Shah announced that there are no restrictions in the Kashmir Valley and the situation will be normalised soon but PM Modi on October 14, said that Kashmir will be normalised in 4 months.

The grand old party slammed the lockdown in the Valley, snapping of communication lines and arrest of political leaders since August 5 when Amit Shah announced the decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divide it into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Opposing the government’s move, the Congress decided to boycott the Jammu and Kashmir local body polls as a mark of protest.

Election

Rahul Gandhi Says Bihar Seat Sharing Formula With Allies Set to be Finalized Soon

For the seat sharing formula, Congress state in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil will travel this week to Bihar to hold talks with all the stakeholders, Rahul told the party workers while addressing a virtual meeting.

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has held a meeting with party workers of Bihar through video conferencing where he told them that the situation due to Covid-19 is pathetic and unemployment is rising in the country. He said that the Congress should prepare for the elections in the state with “positivity”.

Rahul Gandhi in his speech said that a seat sharing formula with alliance partners will be finalized in 15 to 20 days and asked Congress leaders to respect the allies and their leaders, sources said.

For the seat sharing formula, Congress state in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil will travel this week to Bihar to hold talks with all the stakeholders, Rahul told the party workers.

Leader in the Bihar Assembly Sadanand Singh requested Rahul Gandhi to finalise the alliances soon so that they get time to prepare for the elections. Many Congress leaders including former Minister Shakiluzzaman Ansari raised the issue of outsiders being given party tickets and asked the leadership to give tickets only to dedicated party workers in the wake of the recent rebellions in many states, said sources.

The Congress is set to contest the Bihar assembly elections in alliance with the RJD and other non-NDA constituents.

Chief National Media Coordinator of the Congress, Sanjiv Singh said that over 1000 Congress workers participated in the virtual meeting.

He said, “Rahulji said that he will be present in Bihar as and when the state unit desires.”

But the Congress has a tough task ahead on seat adjustment with the RJD which had bulldozed the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when Kirti Azad had to contest from Dhanbad in Jharkhand and Shakil Ahmed fought as an Independent.

In the 2015 Assembly elections, the RJD, JDU and the Congress contested the polls together and won handsomely. But the JDU later went over to the BJP.

There are about 100 seats which were contested by the JDU which are yet to be distributed amongst the alliance partners and the Congress too wants a major chunk from the pie, but sources say that the party may settle for 70 seats.

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Politics

Punjab Cabinet demands expulsion of MPs for ‘anti-party activities’

The ministers, in a joint statement, called for cracking the whip on the two MPs without any laxity or delay.

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Sunil Jakhar Punjab Congress

Chandigarh, Aug 6 : Two days after Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar sought strict action against party MPs Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo, the entire Punjab Cabinet on Thursday also pitched in for the duo’s expulsion for their “anti-party and anti-government activities”, which they termed as “gross indiscipline”.

The actions of the two Rajya Sabha MPs call for immediate and strict action by the Congress high command, said the Cabinet ministers, seeking the dismissal of Bajwa and Dullo for attacking their own government in the state over the recent hooch tragedy.

The ministers, in a joint statement, called for cracking the whip on the two MPs without any laxity or delay.

Indiscipline cannot be tolerated at any time, least of all when Assembly elections are less than two years away, they said, pointing to the MPs’ repeated attacks on the state government, including on Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Questioning their move of airing concerns about the hooch tragedy, the ministers said the two Members of Parliament had never, during their Rajya Sabha term, bothered to raise any issue of interest to the state they represent.

“Why did they not press for the completion of the ED probe into the drugs issue during the Akali regime? Why did they not protest in the House against the anti-farm ordinances of the Union government? Why did they never speak about the CBI’s failure to probe the sacrilege cases?” the ministers asked.

The ministers said that by bypassing all party and government forums to protest against the state government’s handling of the hooch tragedy and instead approaching the Governor for CBI and ED inquiries into the case, the two MPs had not only attacked the very basis of democratic governance but had sought to undermine the Punjab Police force, which was effectively cracking down on the liquor mafia.

This is not the way democratic systems and institutions are meant to function, said the ministers, pointing out that a CBI probe was needed only if the police failed to deliver, which was definitely not the case at present.

In any case, they pointed out that the whole of Punjab had been witness to the CBI’s total lack of efficiency in investigating the sacrilege cases, which eventually the state police had to probe.

Even the targeted killings were solved not by the CBI but by the state police, the ministers said, expressing full faith and confidence in the Punjab Police’s ability to bring every guilty individual to book even in the spurious liquor case.

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India

Priyanka Gandhi seeks permission to stay in her Himachal cottage

The plot is close to The Retreat, the summer holiday resort of the Indian President.

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Shimla, Aug 6 : Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has sought the permission of the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh to spend three weeks along with her family and friends in the cool climes of her dream house set amid the cherry, peach and apple trees on the outskirts of the state capital.

The five-room cottage — with wooden frames and shingled exteriors and a sloping tiled roof — has recently completed its construction at a height of more than 8,000 feet amid thick forests of pine and cedar in Charabra, some 15 km uphill from Shimla.

A state Congress leader told IANS that Priyanka Gandhi wants to stay in her cottage from August 10 for a minimum of 20 days. This will be her first homecoming as the construction of the cottage has just got over.

“We are awaiting the response of the government. She has assured to follow all the health protocols while coming and staying in her cottage that include 14-day mandatory quarantine and getting the Covid-19 tests done for all the people who are accompanying her,” said the leader, requesting anonymity.

People accompanying her include some of her family friends from Delhi, Gurugram and Bengaluru, said sources.

Ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic, Priyanka Gandhi, along with her children and mother Sonia Gandhi, had been regularly visiting to inspect the construction work of the two-storey house on a 4-bigha plus agricultural plot that was purchased in 2007.

Congress leader and former Cabinet Minister Vidya Stokes had played an important role in helping Priyanka Gandhi buy a three-and-a-half bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) agricultural plot for around Rs 47 lakh in 2007. The then Congress government in the state had relaxed norms to let the Vadras buy the land.

The plot is close to The Retreat, the summer holiday resort of the Indian President.

Oberoi Group’s luxury spa Wildflower Hall also lies close to Priyanka Gandhi’s cottage. The Congress leader is one of the most high-profile people to build a house in Himachal Pradesh, years after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee chose Kullu Valley for a cottage.

The work for the cottage was initially handed over to Delhi-based architects in 2008.

In 2011, the entire building was pulled down — not because of any dispute — but apparently the Gandhi scion was unhappy with the size of the rooms and the building design, leaders privy to the Gandhi family said.

Later, it was re-constructed and redesigned by renowned Shimla-based builder Tenzin in the hill architecture style with strong foundation, with an open terrace at the top, and bigger rooms and drive-in.

The then Himachal Pradesh government had relaxed land rules under Section 118 of the Land Reforms and Tenancy Act to facilitate the sale for the Gandhi family.

The law prohibits outsiders from buying land in the hilly state and those who wish to buy land for non-agricultural purposes have to seek a relaxation from the government.

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