It all happened on expected lines at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Monday. In the seven-hour-long meeting of the top-decision making body of the Congress, party interim chief Sonia Gandhi offered to resign which was rejected outright. The CWC decided that Sonia Gandhi would continue as interim president of the Congress till next session of the AICC is convened to elect a new party boss.
As there is no chance of the AICC session being held early because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sonia Gandhi could continue to be interim chief till next year. And if Rahul Gandhi agrees to take over as party president, then the CWC can sit and take a call on this any time.
According to sources, having emerged stronger after the CWC meet, Rahul Gandhi may now make up his mind to be at the helm of the party.
Rajasthan Chief Minister and senior leader Ashok Gehlot backed Rahul Gandhi, saying Sonia Gandhi should continue as interim chief, but if she for some reasons quits, then Rahul should be the Congress president. Other Congress CMs such Captain Amarinder Singh and Bhupesh Baghel were also of the same opinion.
Amid acrimony that marked the CWC meet which took place in the backdrop of 20-odd senior Congress leaders’ controversial letter seeking organisational overhaul and collective leadership, Rahul Gandhi seized the opportunity to “rebuke” the leaders who shot off the letter to Sonia Gandhi.
Intervening at the meeting after Sonia Gandhi announced that she wanted to “be relieved of the post of party president”, Rahul Gandhi came heavily down on the senior leaders questioning the timing of the letter written by over 20 top party leaders targeting the leadership.
Sources said the Gandhi scion “questioned why the letter attacked the Congress when it was at its weakest, when it was battling crises in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and when the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) was unwell.”
Rahul Gandhi’s aggressive comeback at the dissenters, and support from several leaders who wanted him to be new boss if Sonia Gandhi stepped down, paved the way for his grip over the party getting stronger than before. What lends credence to this belief is that the pro-changers, who were hitherto raising questions against the leadership style of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, authorised her to make necessary organisational changes to strengthen the party. It means the decisions regarding any change from grassroots to CWC levels will have Rahul Gandhi’s say and imprint. The Gandhi scion himself hinted at this by raising the issue of his mother Sonia Gandhi’s health when he said that he did not want her to be burdened too much.
Sources said that Sonia Gandhi in her closing remarks said she was hurt, but said that she has “no ill-will” towards anyone. However, there are no indications of action against the 23 senior leaders as of now, who challenged the leadership. However, Rahul Gandhi has given them a message, saying that they should not discuss inner party issues in the media or on public fora. Rahul Gandhi has been very upset with some of these leaders going public with comments embarrassing to the party at one point of time or the other.
After the letter was leaked, Rahul Gandhi had his strategy ready. He had his script ready to counter the senior leaders. Sources say the Gandhi scion turned the tables on them when he said that the veterans had done no service to the cause of the party by raising such issues at a time when the Congress was crises-ridden in MP and Rajasthan. Congress CMs including Gehlot, and other state leaders who were in the meet in capacity as non-regular members, backed Rahul Gandhi tremendously. This gave the Gandhi scion a sense of heavy confidence.
Earlier, Sonia Gandhi offered to step down during the CWC meeting. She was then supported by Dr Manmohan Singh. “The letter is unfortunate,” the former PM reportedly said. He remarked that “weakening the high command is weakening the Congress”. Speaking after Manmohan Singh, senior leader A.K. Antony said: “More than the letter, the contents of the letter were cruel.” He also spoke about “the sacrifices of Sonia Gandhi,” according to sources, and urged Rahul Gandhi to take over as Congress president. The CWC then refused to accept the resignation offer of Sonia Gandhi. But the support coming also from some of the veterans combined with the backing of youngsters boosted Rahul Gandhi’s confidence. Sources say that Rahul Gandhi will now tighten his grip on the organisation more than ever before. It is a common knowledge that Rahul Gandhi has been under attack from the old guards of the party for quite some time now. He was targeted once in the CWC last time and another time during Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with the Congress Rajya Sabha MPs. Sources say that the old guards have been taken aback by Rahul Gandhi’s aggressive gesture and show of confidence. Ghulam Nabi Azad, who offered to resign at one point of time during the meeting, later said that his step was not linked to what Rahul Gandhi said. Similarly, Kapil Sibal also deleted his angry tweet.
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“Rahul Gandhi is not fit for politics”: Assam CM
Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in an interview has slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. He said that Rahul doesn’t have ‘a systematic sense of seriousness’ and therefore, ‘is not fit for politics’. Sharma was a member of the Congress party for over two decades and later he joined BJP in 2015.
He accused Rahul Gandhi of being non-serious as a politician, behaving like “a feudal lord” and being arrogant.
“The first thing is he is not fit for politics. Probably, the work he should not do, he is doing,” Sarma said.
He said that Rahul Gandhi would sometimes leave a meeting in between and would go for his exercise routine like jogging or suddenly go to another room and came after half an hour.
According to Sarma, Rahul Gandhi, who is currently on the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, has accepted moral responsibility for the party’s loss in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and for his defeat in Amethi. He has resigned as party president but is still making important decisions for the party, Sarma said.
“I won’t be the president since Rahul accepted moral responsibility for the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections when I was party leader. But who is currently in charge of the party and heading the Bharat Jodo Yatra? Who is the entire party pursuing? You wish to exercise authority without being held accountable, in other words. The most dangerous thing in a democracy is when someone seeks to exercise power without being held accountable by the people, the parties, or the parliamentary process “said he.
“Despite not being the president of Congress, you make all the choices. Why is the entire party supporting you now if you are not the Congress president and have not accepted moral responsibility since losing the election? “He added.
“The day you join Congress…the Congress has an inside culture that your life starts and ends with Gandhi(s). Like you get attached to any guru, you just surrender everything to that guru. There is an atmosphere. I don’t know who started this, which will end but this ecosystem is very strong in Congress.” he added.
Sarma also said that a lot of people will come to the BJP from Congress.
“So-called Aam Aadmi”, Congress leader rips apart Bhagwant Mann over 42 car convoy
Punjab Congress’s Pratap Singh Bajwa ripped apart CM Bhagwant Mann on Friday over the ‘VIP culture claims. The RTI query said that the Aam Aadmi leader had 42 vehicles in his convoy while travelling.
“Shocking revelation…” Bajwa tweeted, “Badal had 33 vehicles when he was CM from 2007-17 in his cavalcade… no change when Captain Amarinder S became CM but it has been revealed through RTI that CM Mann – ‘the so-called Aam Aadmi’ – has 42 cars in his cavalcade.”
“In the past, Mr Mann used to question what ‘kings and maharajas’ do with a convoy of so many vehicles. Will CM Mann himself clarify now what he is doing with the convoy of 42 vehicles?”
The state’s transport commissioner provided the RTI reply that covered the period from March 2007 to September.
A screenshot of the RTI response indicated Mann had more vehicles than three of his predecessors.
It showed that Charanjit Channi – who replaced Amarinder Singh as the Congress chief minister – added six cars to a convoy of 39 vehicles.
Partap Bajwa is the Leader of the Opposition in Punjab, where the AAP routed the Congress after the February election; the party won 92 of 117 seats.
Rajasthan: 8 men raped, filmed and blackmailed a 17-year-old girl, released the video
A 17-year-old girl was repeatedly gang raped by 8 men in Rajasthan’s Bhiwadi town in December last year. The accused raped, filmed and blackmailed the girl and asked for Rs. 50,000 for the video of the sexual assault. The accused then tried to blackmail her into paying Rs. 2.5 lakh and released the video when she could not pay.
A first information report (FIR) was filed on Thursday by the teenager’s father after the video, which had been in circulation for some time, reached him.
After the video reached her father, she detailed the incident to her family. In his complaint, the father said that his daughter was raped by eight young men from Bhiwadi, not far from where he lived, in December last year. They filmed the assault and blackmailed her. In January this year, she was gang raped again by the accused and then forced to pay Rs. 50,000 to keep the video a secret.
Police said the men later demanded more money. When she could not pay the Rs.2.5 lakh that they demanded, they released the video.
Police said the girl’s medical examination has been conducted.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Rajasthan recorded 6,337 rape cases in 2021, the highest in the country, followed next by Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The Rajasthan Police insists that the figures for the state were higher because it doesn’t encourage burking of crime and strictly enforces a policy of free and fair registration of cases
Air India plans to introduce 20 additional weekly flights to Birmingham, London, and San Francisco
As part of the airline’s efforts to reclaim its position in international aviation, Air India plans to introduce 20 additional weekly flights to Birmingham, London, and San Francisco from October to December. Air India said in a statement, “With five additional flights a week to Birmingham, nine additional flights to London, and six additional flights a week to San Francisco, Air India will be able to offer over 5,000 additional seats every week to customers and ensure ample choice in terms of connectivity, convenience, and cabin space.”They also said in a statement, “Birmingham will receive an extra five flights per week, three from Delhi and two additional from Amritsar. London will receive nine additional weekly flights, of which, five are from Mumbai, three from Delhi, and one from Ahmedabad. Altogether, seven Indian cities will now have non-stop Air India flights to the UK’s capital.”The airlines said that flights from India to US will increase to 34-40 per week and it will connect Mumbai with San Francisco with thrice-weekly service and reinstate a three times weekly Bengaluru operation.The statement said, “This takes Air India’s San Francisco offering from 10 to 16 weekly, with non-stop service from Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.”Air India’s chief executive officer and managing director Campbell Wilson said the airline is reinventing itself under the Vihaan.AI transformation programme and adding frequency and improving connectivity from major Indian cities to more international destinations is a significant focus.He said, “This sizeable frequency increase to the US and the UK, as well as the addition of new city pairs and improved aircraft cabin interiors, comes just 10 months after Air India’s acquisition by the Tata Group. It is a clear signal of our intent, and an early step towards a much bigger aspiration.”
Kharge on Cong prez poll: ‘Connected to Gandhi-Nehru ideology since childhood’
Senior Congress leader, Mallikarjun Kharge filed his nomination for the post of the President of Congress party at the party office in Delhi. He said he has been connected to the Gandhi-Nehru ideology since his childhood and used to campaign for the same ideology when he was in his school years.
“All leaders, workers, delegates and ministers who came in support of me today, encouraged me, I thank them. We’ll see what the results are, on October 17; hopeful that I win,” Kharge told reporters.
Kharge filed for the nomination on Friday, which is the last day for the nominations. Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh has withdrawn his name from the race for the post as he doesn’t want to contest against his senior. Rajasthan’s chief minister, Ashok Gehlot has also opted out his name from the race.
Now, Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge are the two main names in the contest. The names of Mukul Wasnik and Kumari Selja are also doing rounds.
Ban on the sale of gutkha, pan masala lifted by Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court has lifted the ban on the manufacturing, storage and sale of gutkha, pan masala flavoured and other such products in the capital region. The court stated that the authorities have exceeded the power vested in them.
Justice Gaurang Kanth invalidated the ban notifications that the Delhi Government’s Food Commissioner had issued between 2015 and 2021, stating that while he was aware of the detrimental effects and numerous diseases brought by tobacco use, both smokeless and smoking, but the issue of law could not be resolved solely based on public sentiments.
“In addition to the ill-effects of smokeless tobacco pointed out by the respondents, this court is of the view that tobacco, in any form is injurious to public health and this court accordingly condemns and discourages the use of any form of tobacco. Public health is one of the most important parts of society and therefore, it is necessary to take all steps to preserve the same in all possible manners,” the judge said in his ruling passed on Tuesday. The order was uploaded on the court website on Wednesday.
The judgement is a result of a batch of petitions filed by those engaged in the lawful manufacture, trade, distribution and sale of scheduled tobacco products, more particularly chewing tobacco, both flavoured and scented.
To protect the public’s health, the Delhi government issued several notifications that were contested by the petitioners. These notifications forbade the production, storage, distribution, or sale of gutka, pan masala, flavoured or scented tobacco, and similar products for a year across Delhi.
The petitioners claimed that the notifications violated their fundamental rights, were arbitrary, and went beyond the scope of the Food Safety and Standard Act (FSSA).
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