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CHALLENGE TO THE GANDHIS ENDS AS DISSENTERS STAND PLACATED

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Acknowledging that the Congress has lost connect with the people, former party president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday asked the leaders and workers of the party to reconnect with the people. Addressing the concluding session of the three-day Nav Sankalp Shivir here, Rahul Gandhi announced that the party would undertake a yatra in October to re-establish connection with the people. Rahul Gandhi also hit out at what he called “divisive politics” of the BJP-RSS combine, reiterating his resolve to counter the “politics of hate and violence” in the country. In what was seen as a message to the dissenters, Rahul said that there will be a healthy mix of seniors and young leaders to guide the party. In her concluding remarks, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi struck a positive and personal note, saying, “We will overcome, we will overcome, we will overcome: that is our determination, that’s our sankalp.”

Several important decisions like one-family, one-ticket rule, five-year ceiling for holding any post, 50% representation to those below 50 years of age, and one person one post, among others, were also taken during the three-day brainstorming of the Congress. The Udaipur Nav Sankalp Declaration, which was adopted by the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision-making body of the party, targeted the Central government over price rise, unemployment, economic slump, communal violence and various other national and international issues.

So, two important points emerged the three-day strategic discussions in Udaipur. First, the Gandhi family will continue to hold the leadership of the Congress, as there is no challenge to it now. Rahul Gandhi will finally take over the charge of party chief in August. There would be nothing like a group of dissenters. Second, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is acceptable to all leaders of the Congress in Rajasthan and the party would contest the next Assembly elections under his leadership. The successful management of the three-day brainstorming session by the state government is also a message for Gehlot’s adversaries. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) has given its nod to several points in the six proposals that came up for discussions. However, it will be interesting to see when the party will be able to implement them. Both Sonia and Rahul gave a clear message to leaders asking them to be united.

Rahul also laid emphasis on the “one family, one ticket” rule to ensure that multiple members of one family do not contest polls without working for the party. Several such key decisions were included in the Nav Sankalp which the Congress adopted, outlining a road map for wide ranging reforms in the party organisation to make it battle-ready for the next round of assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

Hailing the frank discussions at the Shivir, Rahul Gandhi said that no other political party whatsoever would allow this kind of a discussion where the party leadership is bluntly told what the Congress party feels. Certainly, the BJP, and RSS, would never allow such a thing to happen, he claimed. The Congress has always provided a platform where people can hold deliberations without any fear or worry, he added.

Launching a scathing attack on the BJP-RSS combine, he alleged that a systematic destruction of various institutions was taking place. The day this country’s institutions stop working, the day this country stops having a conversation with itself, we will be in serious trouble, he said. He said there is a fear that the country’s demographic dividend will turn into a demographic disaster and alleged that the BJP government was responsible for it.

Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi announced a national Kashmir to Kanyakumari “Bharat Jodo yatra” beginning on Gandhi Jayanti (2 October) this year. “All of us will participate in it. The Yatra is to strengthen the bonds of social harmony that are under stress, to preserve the foundational values of our Constitution that are under assault and to highlight the day-to-day concerns of crores of our people,” she said. She also announced that phase-2 of the district-level Jan Jagran Abhiyan, which had been launched earlier, will resume a month later on 15 June. “This extensive campaign will highlight economic issues, especially the growing unemployment and intolerable price rise that is destroying livelihoods,” she said.

Sonia Gandhi announced the setting up of a “compact Task Force” to drive the process of internal reforms “that are essential and that have been discussed in different groups here at Udaipur”. She said these reforms, with a focus on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, will cover all aspects of the organisation including structure, rules for appointments to party posts, communications and publicity, outreach, finances and election management. The composition of the Task Force will be notified in the next two-three days.

“It is very important that we limit the number of family members that are involved in our organization, and let them work, develop and then let them join the organisation. But we must not have a situation where 5-7 members of a family are in the organisation,” Rahul Gandhi said.

KEY DECISIONS

Among the key decisions announced, the party decided to give 50% representation to those below 50 years of age at all levels of organisation. The party announced enforcing the one family, one ticket rule with exception to be made only when another family member has been working in the party for at least five years. In order to give opportunity to new people, the party also decided that no person should hold one party position for more than five years. The rule of one person, one post will be enforced. The Congress president will set up an advisory group from among CWC members to deliberate on political challenges. The Congress would set up three new departments—public insight department, election management department and national training department. All the vacant posts of office-bearers from district, state to national level will be filled up in the next 90 to 180 days. Now, Mandal Congress Committees will also be formed like Block Congress Committees.

The performance of DCC office-bearers will be monitored at the level of the AICC general secretary and organisation. The under-performers will be sacked, while those performing well will be promoted. Dalits, tribals, backwards, minorities and women will be given sufficient representation at all levels.

‘STAY AWAY FROM MEDIA’

Meanwhile, the party leaders were instructed not to share anything with the media. Even leaders like Digvijaya Singh avoided talking to media persons. Being the organiser of the event, CM Gahlot kept interacting with the media. He continued to lash out at the BJP’s alleged communal agenda. The atmosphere inside the venue was also quite different, as the leaders were seen mostly keeping themselves away from the media. Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi tried to interact with as many leaders as possible. Several women leaders were seen interacting with Priyanka. Gehlot joined Sonia Gandhi over lunch and kept talking with her. Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel was also seen talking with several leaders. After Gehlot, it was Baghel who was quite popular, and his government’s work was being talked about. Leaders stressed the need to push the people-friendly schemes of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh governments. Pension schemes, health schemes, programmes to address the issues of unemployment and farmers problems were included in the proposals. Some key decisions regarding the organization are likely in future.

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For the love of the chair

Shweta Shalini

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Back in 1975, the ruling Congress under Indira Gandhi had organised mass protests outside the PM’s house. The so-called “spontaneous rallies” and “people’s rallies” were against a high court ruling, which restrained the PM’s right to vote or draw a salary as a Member of Parliament. The conditional stay had allowed Indira Gandhi to retain the prime minister’s post. Indira Gandhi’s misuse of power had put her in a spot when Allahabad HC accepted a petition filed by Raj Narain, which found her guilty of corrupt practices under Section 123(7) of the Representation of People’s Act during her Lok Sabha campaign in 1971 at Rae Bareli. The mass rallies in support of Indira Gandhi were a desperate attempt to cling to the chair when the moral authority and legal tenability of the government was fast slipping away. Gandhi was in no mood to exit gracefully. To insulate herself from the court verdict, she declared an Emergency on 25 June 1975 on the grounds of internal disturbances.

A similar situation is playing out in Maharashtra as CM Uddhav Thackeray desperately clings to power. In the evening of 20th June 2022 when the political observers, media and politicians in Maharashtra were focused on the Vidhan Parishad vote counting exercise, about 30-40 MLA’s in the assembly quietly made their way out of the state. The surprising BJP victory in the fifth MLC seat proved what the LoP Devendra Fadnavis was saying all along “that inherent ideological contradictions and dissatisfaction within the ranks of MVA will fuel our victory”.

When news about the 40 MLA’s who left the state in rebellion against the MVA government in Maharashtra broke the next morning, CM Uddhav Thackeray found himself in a similar situation to Mrs Gandhi in 1975. The Uddhav Thackeray government has lost moral authority as most of his MLAs have deserted him and the government can no longer claim a majority. Realising this, the CM left the official residence Varsha in order to claim the high moral ground and bring back the MLAs. After emotional appeals failed, he tried to convince, cajole and even threaten the MLAs. He attempted a show of strength on the streets and removed the security of MLAs’ family members. After every attempt failed, he is still clinging to power and repeats what Indira Gandhi did—organising protests in solidarity with him even though he clearly knows that numbers in the Vidhan Sabha don’t favour him.

A graceful exit and the forming of a “natural alliance” with the BJP is what his rebel MLAs have demanded. A “graceful exit” for CM Thackeray is exactly what the NCP under Sharad Pawar wants to prevent, even though the NCP is under no illusion about the future of this government. The NCP is egging the Shiv Sena Chief to fight this losing battle, prolong this humiliation, conduct floor test and face more ignominy. How else can Shiv Sena be thoroughly humiliated than fighting for a lost cause? For two and a half years, the NCP worked in tandem with the MVA government in denying their share of power to Shiv Sena MLAs. Today, the NCP under Sharad Pawar is working on its design to weaken the Shiv Sena further by making them fight a losing battle despite a lack of numbers.

If Indira Gandhi’s experience is any indication, Uddhav Thackeray will face the same fate as Indira Gandhi faced in the 1977 elections immediately post-emergency. The protests on the streets notwithstanding, the Indian electorate has consistently demonstrated a preference for democratic ideals. The excesses and desperation to cling to power of the emergency era had paved way for the first non-Congress government in India. A similar trend will be visible in Maharashtra post the 2019 elections.

In 2019, Shiv Sena had fought elections in alliance with BJP under the leadership of CM Devendra Fadnavis. Uddhav Thackeray abandoned the alliance after elections and formed an unnatural alliance with the NCP-INC combine, thereby insulting the voter’s mandate. The Shiv Sena rebel camp led by Eknath Shinde today is merely calling for the undoing of this insult to the people and a return to the Hindutva fold. If CM Thackeray continues to cling to his chair, the people of Maharashtra will punish his group heavily in every upcoming election, while the “original Shiv Sena” of Eknath Shinde adhering to Balasaheb’s ideals will be rewarded by the voters. The post-emergency era brought non-Congress parties into prominence and led to the eventual decline of Congress. The Love of the chair on the part of CM Thackeray will lead to the same results. CM Thackeray can either choose to respect the mandate of the people and their elected representatives or risk losing his party altogether.

The author is BJP spokesperson, advisor to former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, and executive director of Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation.

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ONLINE FOOD DELIVERY IS TRENDING AND CONTAGIOUS

Technology has saved consumers from driving through the busy lanes with red lights at smaller intervals and a longer wait for their turn at the restaurant.

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If one is asked, “How many times did you order food online in the last six months?” The chances are that one may not even remember the exact number. However, the answer to another question, “How many restaurants have you visited to enjoy food in the last six months?” would be “yes, I can tell.” Millions of Indians have similar answers. Nonetheless, one might be mistaken if they believe that consumers order foods online only because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most Indians had never thought that online food delivery would become so common that too, so fast. But the reality is that it is now part of urban consumers’ food habits, e.g., food purchase and consumption behaviour, in many countries, including India. It is trending and contagious. In the year 2021, more than 282 million Indians ordered food online, and the number is likely to increase to 493 million by the end of 2025.  

Was it all because of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns? No, the Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated the pace of the e-commerce business, including the online food business. The two most important factors that led to the food delivery business transformation are a revolution in internet and digital technologies and fast-changing consumers’ lifestyles and preferences. 

Technology has enabled consumers to access their favourite foods from their preferred outlets at their fingertips. Food reaches consumers in the shortest possible time at the place and the time decided by the consumer and all of this without spending much. Technology has saved consumers from driving through the busy lanes with red lights at smaller intervals and a longer wait for their turn at the restaurant. It is undoubtedly a fancied choice both for busy and lazy people. Consumers compare price, menu, quality, and outlet and select the best option that provides them with value. This is in addition to the time they save, a precious resource in modern times. With the number of smartphone users expected to increase to about 1133 million by 2025 from 847.7 million by the end of 2021, the future seems brighter. 

Consumers, too, are changing faster. Nuclear family, husband-wife working, increased disposable income, family members with varying tastes, not interested in kitchen work, and preference for a faster and easy option of getting food – all these have allured consumers to go online. Further, today’s consumers look for utilisation benefits and seek enjoyment, control, experimental value, and emotional arousal in their day-to-day activities. Ordering food online, fortunately, meets most of the wishes. Consumers today expect food to come to them instead of following, travelling, and waiting for it. With per capita spending on food and beverages expected to increase by more than 30% by 2025, many new consumers are likely to join the bandwagon, and existing customers will increase their online purchases.

There are two different types of online food delivery players in the market. First, the online food delivery system owned and run by established restaurants or food outlets, like Pizza Hut and Domino’s, makes home food delivery after consumers put their orders on their website. Next are food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato, which source food from multiple restaurants and outlets and deliver it to consumers. In India, though restaurant-owned online food delivery is more popular and has a consumer penetration of 15.7%, online delivery platforms, with a penetration rate of 6.4%, are catching up very fast.

Online delivery platforms democratise the food market. Platforms provide every consumer with the opportunity to have food from any outlet, making it possible for smaller and not-so-popular food outlets to serve many consumers. In addition, food delivery platforms make local, traditional, and even international cuisine available to all consumers—a win-win situation for everyone. 

The online food delivery system has further decentralised and democratised entrepreneurship with concepts like dark kitchens or ghost kitchens. Dark kitchens create opportunities for established industries to extend their kitchen work and for professionals and entrepreneurs to start a new venture, even with a limited budget, by partnering with delivery platforms. Understanding what, how, and when customers order and how to meet those orders in the least amount of time at a lower price is crucial for the business’s success. It seems that online delivery players are mastering these tricks faster.

Delivering food in the proper packaging is more than 50% of food quality, and the industry seems to learn it slowly but steadily. It can be ensured that hot desi samosa and dosa reach the customer with the same crispiness as those served in restaurants. Hyderabadi Biryani, if not served as it appeared on the screen while ordering or with the fragrance that biryani is expected to have, may upset the customers. Restaurant owners have started using innovative packaging, and delivery partners have added specialised carrying boxes and well-planned routes through which foods are reaching faster and safely. Swiggy food survey 2021 indicates that Biryani and Desi Samosa were the most ordered meals and snacks, respectively, indicating that food delivery players in India are doing it briskly.

Food delivery platforms are labour-intensive, and their success is dependent on their partners. Their delivery persons, called “gig workers” in business terminology, are among the most crucial players in their business. Zomato, India’s second food delivery platform after Swiggy, employs more than 1,60,000 gig workers. Though their remuneration, working hours and conditions have come under scrutiny and have become the subject of debate, no one disagrees that the business creates many jobs at the field level. 

No doubt, advancing technologies, changing customers and innovations in the delivery business will result in the rapid spread of the industry. However, the food delivery business still has to cover a long distance before stabilising and settling down. Most delivery companies are yet to achieve their break-even and will require working hard to spread their reach and optimise costs. The business remains immensely competitive and reliant on the external business environment. 

In 2021, Indians ordered food worth 11782 million US dollars online, 30.4% more than the previous year. If the excitement the recent IPO of Zomato created, the presence of at least one food delivery platform for more than 100 million consumers, and fast-moving bikers with food in every lane are any indication, it establishes that online food delivery has arrived in India, and it will continue to grow and flourish. 

Niraj Kumar is a Professor of Rural Management at XIM University, Bhubaneswar. 

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SIDHU MOOSE WALA’S LAST SONG ‘SYL’ REMOVED FROM YOUTUBE

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singer Moosewala

Sidhu Moose Wala’s lastest song released after his assassination, SYL, the title referring to the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal, has now been taken off the video streaming platform YouTube.

The song on Punjab’s water issue, talks about the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal, which has been an apple of discord between Punjab and Haryana for quite a long time. Composed by Sidhu Moose Wala before he was shot dead on May 29, the music video was released by producer MXRCI on Friday, June 23 on YouTube. However, on clicking the link of the video, a message gets displayed now, saying, “This content is not available on this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government.”

The song talks about undivided Punjab, the 1984 anti-Sikh Riots and its videos shows the Sikh flag being hoisted at the Red Fort during the farmer agitation.

Since its launch, Moose Wala’s song SYL has garnered over 27 million views on YouTube and got 3.3 million likes.

Sidhu Moose Wala was shot dead by assailants in Jawaharke village of Punjab’s Mansa district on May 29.

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R MADHAVAN TROLLED OVER HIS COMMENTS ON ISRO

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Amid the promotions of the film Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, actor R Madhavan has found himself in the centre storm for his comments on Mars mission of the ISRO.

A clip of him saying that ISRO used the Panchangam (Hindu Calendar) to successfully launch the PSLV C-25 rocket to Mars has made him the subject of trolling. Now, the actor has issued a clarification.

In a tweet he wrote, “I deserve this for calling the Almanac the “Panchang” in Tamil. Very ignorant of me. Though this cannot take away for the fact that what was achieved with just 2 engines by us in the Mars Mission. A record by itself. @NambiNOfficial Vikas engine is a rockstar,” tagging former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan.

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Fake call centre busted in Delhi

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RSS

Delhi police busted a fake call centre for cheating over 250 unemployed people on the pretext of providing jobs, said officials on Sunday. The incident came to light when a complaint was received at the cyber cell where a complainant alleged that she was contacted by a woman named Muskan who stated that she is a recruiter from a job portal. The accused later asked the complainant to visit the job consultancy in Bhikaji Cama Palace for an interview and where they collected registration fees of Rs.3500 and Rs. 8500 on Google pay. The complainant was later issued an appointment letter in the name of other private companies and no job was given to her.

“As per the complaint, a case dated 21.06.22 U/s 420/468/471/34 IPC was registered at PS Cyber, Dwarka, New Delhi. During the investigation, the details of the alleged mobile numbers were obtained and the complainant also visited B-50, Somdatt Chamber-II, 9, Bhikaji Kama Palace, New Delhi,” said police. A trap was laid and a raid was conducted at B-50, Somdatt Chamber-II, 9, Bhikaji Kama Palace, New Delhi. During the raid, it was revealed that a fake call centre was found running in the name of Sunshine HR Global Services.

“During the raid, 16 mobile phones, 2 laptops, several registers and forged appointment letter pads in the name of Sunshine HR Global Services were recovered and 2 males and 5 females were also arrested. During interrogation, it was revealed that they cheated abut 250 unemployed youth with an amount of Rs. 23 lakh approximately as registration fees,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Dwarka, M. Harsha Vardhan.

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Two newly elected MPs can’t cast vote in coming presidential election

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The two newly elected members of Council of States (Rajya Sabha) from the State of Haryana namely Krishan Lal Panwar of BJP and  Kartikey Sharma (real name Kartikeya Sharma) who has been elected as Independent, can not cast their vote in the forthcoming 16th presidential election to be slated on July 18, 2022 as their tenure will commence from August 2022.  It is worth stating that the six years tenure of Rajya Sabha of both above newly elected MP’s from Haryana would only commence from August 2, 2022 and for which the requisite Gazette Notification would be issued by Union Ministry of Law and Justice under relevant provisions of Representation of the People Act, 1951 on August 2, 2022 itself.  

Divulging aforesaid information, Hemant Kumar, an Advocate at Punjab & Haryana High Court, Chandigarh said that  although both MPs have been issued Election Certificate after being declared elected by Returning Officer (R.O.) of Rajya Sabha Biennial Election from State of Haryana, RK Nandal, who is also Secretary of Haryana Vidhan Sabha but the  point is that the current tenure of two of total five incumbent MPs from State of Haryana viz. Dushyant Kumar Gautam of BJP and Independent Subhash Chandra is until August 1, 2022 and that their current  tenure can›t be cut-short merely due to the election of new successors on their seats.

It is pertinent to mention that Subhash Chandra has lost from Rajasthan while seeking fresh election to Rajya Sabha as an Independent candidate. Even otherwise, if Chandra would have been elected from Rajasthan, then his tenure as Rajya Sabha MP from such State should have however begun with effect from July 5, 2022 as the term of four MPs from Rajasthan would come to end on July 4, 2022. Even in that case, the tenure of two newly elected MPs from Haryana should have begun with effect from August 2, 2022. Kartikey Sharma, a debutant in the politics has defeated the Congress stalwart Ajay Maken a parachute candidate from Delhi in a neck to neck fight. It is being considered that being a parachute candidate resulted in the defeat of Maken.

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