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Will Pankaja Munde concur or quit BJP?

Refuting theories that Pankaja Munde was demanding immediate rehabilitation in a senior post, former minister Vinod Tawde said that she has not made any such demands.

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Mumbai, Dec 2 : The BJP circles in Maharashtra went into a tizzy after its heavyweight leader and ex-minister Pankaja Munde-Palwe suddenly penned an emotive Facebook post on Sunday and silently dropped the party’s name from her Twitter handle on Monday.

On Sunday, she invited her followers for a planned rally in Gopinathgad, a memorial of her father and former Union Minister the late Gopinath Munde, in their family bastion of Beed district.

“Looking at the changed political scenario in the state, there is a need to think and decide the way ahead. I need time of some 8-10 days for self-introspection. Our future journey needs to be decided against the backdrop of the current changed political circumstances,” she said.

“I will think on the path ahead… What’s to be done, by which route, what can I give to our people, what are people’s expectations, what is our strength… I shall consider all this and come before you on December 12,” Munde added.

Signing off, she added: “Hope you will join me… ‘Mavlas’ will be definitely coming.”

Incidentally, Shiv Sainiks are today often referred to as ‘Mavlas’ — once the foot soldiers in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s army.

Even as intense speculation fuelled the political circles, Pankaja Munde created a flutter afresh by dropping ‘BJP’ from her Twitter handle on Monday.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut added to the confusion by saying: “Why only Pankaja Munde? Many other senior (BJP) leaders are in touch with us.”

As the situation seemed to go out of hand, none other than State BJP President Chandrakant Patil came to the media and scotched all rumours of her quitting the party.

“We have spoken with her. There’s no truth in the media reports. She remains our senior leader and will always be with BJP. Nobody knows how long this ‘accidental government’ will survive,” Patil said.

Refuting theories that Pankaja Munde was demanding immediate rehabilitation in a senior post, former minister Vinod Tawde said that she has not made any such demands.

Last week, when Uddhav Thackeray took oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister, Pankaja Munde had sent one of the warmest greetings.

“Dear and Respected Uddhavji, I wish you the best of luck. One Thackeray (Aditya) contested elections for the first time and another Thackeray (Uddhav) became the CM! Heartiest Congratulations! Maharashtra’s culture and traditions say ‘State’s interest is always first’. You have fulfilled the wishes of Balasaheb Thackeray and hope you will also live up to the people’s expectations, this is what I pray to God,” she had said.

Reciprocating with equal warmth, Thackeray replied on Monday: “My heartfelt thanks. The state will always be the first priority and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will work on this guiding principle. I promise, we will build a state of which even Gopinath Munde would be proud of.”

In a big shock, Pankaja Munde lost in the Assembly polls last month from her family stronghold of Parli to none other than her cousin and Nationalist Congress Party leader Dhananjay Munde, raising questions on who would now claim the Munde family’s legacy.

Besides her social media words, Pankaja Munde, once an aspirant for the CM’s post, has kept mum on her future strategy.

A Sena leader said that given the close family ties between the Thackerays and the late Munde-Mahajan duo, besides similar ideological commitments, “nothing should surprise the BJP now”.

Incidentally, her father Gopinath Munde and uncle the late Pramod Mahajan were both very close to Balasaheb Thackeray, and were among a handful of BJP leaders who had unlimited access to him at ‘Matoshri’.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])

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Creator of the Grand Trunk Road

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Sher Shah Suri GT Road

New Delhi, Dec 11 : For travellers in India, moving from North to South or East to West, would have been almost impossible if the magnificent Grand Trunk Road did not exist. We must thank Sher Shah Suri, the founder of the Suri Empire for creating this amazing road connecting the major cities of India. Whenever there are discussions about this splendid road, Sher Shah Suri’s name is always mentioned with awe. But the Grand Trunk Road is just one of his major creations. Few know what an extraordinary personality he was and how much we owe him. In his seven-year rule he added a vast number of improvements that we continue to see today.

Born Farid Khan Lodhi in 1486 at Sasaram in modern day Bihar, he was the grandson of an ethnic Afghan, a noble of the Pashtun Sur tribe named Ibrahim Khan Suri. Farid Khan became known as �Sher’ when as a young man he saved the King of Bihar, from a tiger that had suddenly leapt upon him. He was later re-named Sher Shah and rose to become the founder of the Suri Empire in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent.

A landowner (Jagirdar) and a representative of the Delhi rulers of that time, he was an adventurer with royal connections and was recruited by Sultan Bahlul Lodi of Delhi during his long confrontation with the Jaunpur Sultanate. He was one of the eight sons of Mian Hassan Khan Suri – a prominent figure in the government in the Narnaul district. His grandfather Ibrahim Khan’s �Mazar’, still stands as a monument in Narnaul.

Sher Shah rose from being a private to the status of a commander in the Mughal army under Babur to the level of being the governor of Bihar. In 1538, when Babur’s son Humayun was away at war, Sher Shah took over the state of Bengal and established the Suri dynasty – naming it after the �Sur’ tribe to which he belonged. A gifted administrator and strategist during his rule from 1538 to 1545, he introduced a number of important changes, which continue to benefit us till today.

As a brilliant general Sher Shah laid foundations for later Mughal emperors – among them Akbar son of Humayun, was probably the one who benefited the most from this. Among Sher Shah’s more important strategies in his administration, was the setting up of new civic and military rules. Under him, the first �Rupiya’ was issued in place of �Taka’ – and still continues to remain. Another important improvement was the reorganisation of the postal system of the Indian Subcontinent. To ensure that he would be remembered, Sher Shah renamed the name of Humayun’s city, changing it from �Dina-panah’ to �Shergarh’ and simultaneously he also revived the historical city �Pataliputra’, which had been steadily declining since the 7th century. The feather on his cap is however the Grand Trunk Road, for which he is justly famous.

It is said that Sher Shah and his father were constantly fighting with each other. His father, Hassan Khan Suri, then a jagirdar of Sasaram, had several wives with whom Sher Shah did not get along and so, he decided to run away from home. When his father discovered that Sher Shah had requested Jamal Khan, the governor of Jaunpur to give him shelter, he wrote a letter that stated, “my son being annoyed with me, has gone to you without sufficient cause. I trust in your kindness to appease him, and send him back; but if refusing to listen to you, he will not return, I trust you will keep him with you, for I wish him to be instructed in religious and polite learning.”

But Sher Shah refused and replied in a letter, “If my father wants me back to instruct me in learning, there are in this city many learned men: I will study here.”

Sher Shah started his service under Bahar Khan Lohani, the Mughal Governor of Bihar. Because of his valour, Bahar Khan rewarded him with the title �Sher Khan’ After the death of Bahar Khan, he became the regent ruler of the minor Sultan, Jalal Khan. Jalal soon realised that Sher Khan’s power in Bihar would make things difficult and sought the assistance of Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah – the independent Sultan of Bengal. Ghiyasuddin sent an army under General Ibrahim Khan but Sher Khan defeated the force at the battle of Surajgarh in 1534 after forming an alliance with local chiefs – and achieved complete control of Bihar.

In 1538, Sher Khan attacked Bengal and defeated Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah. But could not capture the kingdom, because of the sudden appearance of Emperor Humayun and his army. On 26 June 1539, Sher Khan faced Humayun in the Battle of Chausa and defeated him. Assuming the title �Farid al-din Sher Shah’, he defeated Humayun once again at Kannauj in May 1540 and forced him out of India.

Thereafter Sher Shah turned his attention towards the Rajput Forts. He attacked Malwa and Jodhpur, but was killed during the siege of the Rajput Fort of Kalinjar. Sher Shah had ordered the walls of the fort to be blown up with gunpowder, but he was himself seriously wounded, by the explosion. He died on May 22, 1545 and was buried in Sasaram. His son Jalal Khan succeeded him, taking the title of �Islam Shah Suri.’

The founder of the Suri Dynasty lies under the splendid Sher Shah Tomb that is 122 ft high and stands majestically in the middle of an artificial lake in Sasaram – located on the road that he is famous for – India’s magnificent Grand Trunk Road.

(Shona Adhikari is a lifestyle and travel columnist.)

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‘National Conference won’t be part of political process unless 370 restored’

“We have faith in Supreme Court,” the NC leader said. “It is a fact that Article 370 was revoked without taking the approval of the J&K Assembly.”

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Farooq Abdullah

Srinagar, Dec 10 : Senior National Conference leader Mustafa Kamal has said the NC won’t take part in the political process until the restoration of Article 370 and statehood to Jammu & Kashmir.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Kamal, the brother of detained former Chief Minister and NC chief Farooq Abdullah, said the National conference will not be a part of any political process that doesn’t serve the interests of the people of J&K.

“They demolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. We can’t take part in any political process in this system,” he said. “New Delhi will like to manipulate us for changing the demography of Jammu & Kashmir and enslave the people.”

He said those clamouring for the extension of Article 371 to Jammu & Kashmir are free to do so but the National Conference won’t budge from its stated position.

“We don’t want Article 371, those who want it, let them take it,” Kamal said. “They are talking about a third front, let them go with it, National Conference will not change its position.”

Kamal said Article 370 was scrapped to end the Muslim-majority character of Jammu & Kashmir and to pave the way for “demographic change”.

He said his party is preparing the ground for moving a motion against the Centre’s “unilateral decision” and is hopeful the Supreme Court will declare the move on Article 370 as unconstitutional.

“We have faith in Supreme Court,” the NC leader said. “It is a fact that Article 370 was revoked without taking the approval of the J&K Assembly.”

He said they were taken aback by the removal of Article 370 because both the Governor and the Prime Minister had denied that the article was being revoked.

“Our leaders met with (then) Governor Satya Pal Malik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and both denied the Article was being revoked,” he said.

He said international pressure is mounting on India over Kashmir and the present situation cannot continue forever.

He said the National Conference will keep on pressing for an agreement between India and Pakistan for a resolution of Kashmir.

He said he is in touch with Farooq Abdullah and said he won’t make any “compromise”.

“Farooq Abdullah has always stuck to his principles, why would he change his stand now?” Kamal said.

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Rahul Gandhi returning to lead Congress again?

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New Delhi/Wayanad (Kerala), Dec 6 : Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi is all set to return to lead the party and is likely to take over after the Delhi assembly polls early next year. A hint to this effect was dropped by Congress General Secretary, Organisation, K.C. Venugopal who said that country wants his leadership more now.

Venugopal, who is accompanying Gandhi to his Kerala constituency Wayanad, told reporters: “The nation is going through a critical phase… The party needs his leadership and there is loud chorus from the workers to bring him again and we hope he will listen to them.”

A Congress session is scheduled in the next few months to ratify the appointment of interim President Sonia Gandhi. A source said that in the same meet, a chorus will grow to bring again Rahul Gandhi as planned by young leaders in the party.

Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the party organisation was first demanded at the AICC’s Hyderabad session in 2006 where workers from UP raised slogans in his favour and he was made party General Secretary in 2007. After that, the demand to make him Vice President was raised at the brainstorming session in Jaipur in 2013.

He was elected President unopposed in 2017 after demand from different quarters of the party, but during the 2019 General Elections, the party was routed under his leadership and he resigned in May taking the responsibility of poll debacle and did not budge to the party’s repeated requests to reconsider. In August, Sonia Gandhi was appointed interim party chief.

Though he may not be the party chief, but Rahul Gandhi’s decisions are evident within the party’s decisions as evinced by appointment of Nitin Raut as minister in the Shiv Sena-Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition government in Maharashtra and of Nana Patole as the Assembly Speaker.

The party is finalising a venue for the AICC session, which could be held in the Congress-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan in January and February, a source said.

By: BY SAIYED MOZIZ IMAM

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