After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emotional farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Congress veteran and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha spoke to The Daily Guardian, saying that working with the BJP is not a likelihood for him, because while personal relations across party lines might exist, they cannot translate into crossing the ‘Lakshman Rekha’. Excerpts:
Q: What happened in the Rajya Sabha when the Prime Minister turned emotional during a speech for your farewell speech?
A: Yes, I was too. PM Modi mentioned a sentimental moment which had taken place when I had been Chief Minister (of Jammu and Kashmir) and a terrorist attack had taken place and I had to deal with it. He mentioned that I had also broken down at that time while speaking to him, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Q: Modi spoke of good chemistry between the ruling party and the Opposition. What will you suggest for the future?
A: I am grateful to leaders like Modi, Satish Mishra and Sharad Pawar who really spoke well for me. There should be cordial relations between the Opposition and the ruling side. But this always happened in the past, not in the current scenario. But I wish them all the best.
Q: The PM said during his speech that a man like you cannot sit at home and there are future prospects for you. Will you join the BJP or the government?
A: There is no question of me joining the BJP. I have many friends in many parties and we may have relations across party lines, but that doesn’t mean I will cross my limits.
Q: What about your grievances with the Congress and all that happened with the CWC and G23 leaders?
A: I have put forward my point for strengthening the party for the future. But there is no question of opposing Rahul Gandhi.
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Congress will fight 2022 Punjab polls under Sidhu, says Harish Rawat
Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat on Sunday said that the upcoming Assembly elections in the state will be fought under Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu who is “very popular”, given the state’s present political circumstances.
Speaking to ANI here on Sunday, Rawat said, “It (Congress face for upcoming state assembly polls) will be decided by the Congress president, but given the circumstances, elections will be fought with the Chief Minister’s cabinet under Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, whose chief is Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is very popular.”
He further stated that Congress had yesterday itself unanimously decided to make Charanjit Singh Channi the next Chief Minister of Punjab. “The decision (to choose the new Punjab CM) was taken yesterday only. We were only waiting to meet the Governor. The party was unanimous on Charanjit Singh Channi’s name. We will try to ensure that he (Amarinder Singh) is there at oath-taking, but it’s up to him,” said Rawat.
He said that the names for two deputy chief ministers are yet to be decided. “Our mutual feeling is that there should be two deputy CMs. Soon we will take a call on it along with names for the Council of Ministers. Some names have been discussed but it’s the CM’s prerogative who will discuss it with party high command and takes a call,” the former Uttarakhand chief minister said.
Congress MLA Charanjit Singh Channi will take the oath as the new Chief Minister of Punjab on Monday at 11 am on Monday.
Addressing media after meeting Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the Chief Minister-designate of Punjab said, “We have presented our stance, unanimously supported by party MLAs, before the Governor. Oath taking ceremony will take place at 11 am tomorrow.”
Channi will succeed Captain Amarinder Singh, who resigned as the chief minister of Punjab on Saturday following months of infighting between him and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. These developments came months before the 2022 Assembly elections in Punjab.
WITH ANI INPUTS
Amarinder Singh hopes new Punjab CM will stand with farmers
A day after he quit as Chief Minister amid the Punjab Congress crisis, Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday expressed unhappiness at having to cancel the scheduled disbursement of appointment letters to families of 150 farmers who had lost their lives in the ongoing agitation against the farm laws.
The outgoing chief minister said that with the new CM-designate already announced, he would unfortunately not be able to personally hand over job letters to the next of kin of the deceased farmers even though his council of ministers had already accorded approval to the proposal. He hoped the new chief minister would carry out the task at the earliest to provide relief to the affected families.
Captain Amarinder urged the CM-designate, Charanjit Singh Channi, to ensure that the state government continues to stand with the beleaguered farmers of Punjab, “who have sacrificed their lives in our collective fight for justice”.
Captain made it clear that he would continue to support the farmers in their battle for survival and justice. “Every Punjabi, in fact every Indian, is morally bound to stand with the farmers in their hour of despair,” he said, asserting that even though he was no longer holding the state’s reins, his heart remained with the farmers and their families and he would do everything in his power to ensure that they get their due.
Capt Amarinder Singh congratulated Channi through a tweet. Captain tweeted, “My best wishes to Charanjit Singh Channi. I hope he’s able to keep the border state of Punjab safe and protect our people from the growing security threat from across the border.”
CONGRESS BETS ON DALIT FACE, APPOINTS CHANNI PUNJAB CM
Despite Charanjit Singh Channi’s appointment, Capt Amarinder Singh will not soften his views on Congress. The former CM may not attack Channi, but will continue to target Sidhu.
The Congress high command has appointed a Dalit leader, Charanjit Singh Channi, the new chief minister of Punjab in what is being seen as the grand old party’s big move to change the face of the party in the state.
However, it will be known whether the Congress’ move pays off or not only after the Assembly election results early next year. But Punjab is going to be a big challenge for both the Congress and the newly-appointed CM Channi. Channi was one of those leaders who were vocal against former CM Captain Amarinder Singh.
The announcement of Channi as CM was quite dramatic on Sunday. It was against the expectation that someone close to Sidhu will get the top post. A top contender, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa’s name was doing the rounds earlier. But in what is being seen as a big gamble, Rahul Gandhi gave green signal for Channi who is a Sikh leader from Dalit community. Now, Channi will be faced with all those challenges which his predecessor Amarinder Singh was facing. He will be supposed to fulfil all the promises in the next four months. Moreover, he will have to manage all the factions. What makes it more challenging is Amarinder’s statement that came after his resignation. In fact, what Amarinder has said about Navjot Singh Sidhu may be creating trouble for Congress in days to come. The BJP has also started assailing Congress in the backdrop of all the happenings in the state.
There is no denying that Amarinder would leave the party sooner or later. What is to be seen is whether he forms his own party or strengthens the BJP. It is said that Amarinder does not get along with Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. He could become CM because of Sonia Gandhi, while Rahul was not in favour of him.
In fact, relations were strained between Amarinder and Rahul since 2017. The change of guard in Punjab did not take place due to the Congress’ massive defeat in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Otherwise, Rahul could have appointed Sidhu the CM. The Congress had performed miserably in all the states except Punjab during the Lok Sabha polls. Amarinder’s position got stronger due to this, but Sidhu got closer to Rahul. Sidhu was the only leader who had attacked the PM. After being close to Rahul and Priyanka, Sidhu started making statements against Amarinder. He was backed by leaders like Randhawa and Channi.
Rahul had decided to give the CM post to Sidhu by the end of 2019. But Amarinder opposed the move, leading to massive tiff. Then there was an outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020. In the meantime, Congress lost its government in Madhya Pradesh. But Punjab remained on the boil. The day Sidhu was given charge of Punjab PCC, it was said that some big change is also in the offing. Amarinder was under the impression that his chair would remain safe. But over 40 MLAs furtively sent letters to high command at the behest of Sidhu. They got the high command’s approval for the CLP meeting. Amarinder came to know about this meeting only at 8 am which was for the change of CM.
Amarinder also acted wisely and left CM post instead of resigning from the party. He then targeted Sidhu in an attempt to block his way to chief ministership. Even Sidhu could not manage to get any of his supporters appointed as CM.
Despite Channi’s appointment, Amarinder will not soften his views on Congress. The former CM will not attack Channi but will continue to target Sidhu. He will continue to target Congress over Sidhu’s alleged links with Pakistan and international security in the bordering state of Punjab. He will have a direct face-off with Rahul apart from Sidhu.
PRESIDENT ADDRESSES SPECIAL SESSION OF HIMACHAL ASSEMBLY ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF ITS STATEHOOD
All Indians are proud of the development story written by the people of Himachal Pradesh in the past 50 years, said the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, while addressing the special session of Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in Shimla on Friday. This special session was being organised on the occasion of golden jubilee of statehood of Himachal Pradesh.
The President said that all the previous governments of Himachal Pradesh have played an important role throughout the journey of its development. He appreciated contributions made by former Chief Ministers— Late Dr. Y.S. Parmar, Late Shri Thakur Ram Lal, Shri Shanta Kumar, Shri Prem Kumar Dhumal and Late Shri Virbhadra Singh. He said that the initiative taken by the Himachal Pradesh government to take the development journey of the state to the people is highly commendable.
Himachal Pradesh has set new dimensions of development in various fields. He noted according to a report by NITI Aayog, that Himachal Pradesh ranks second in the country in the “Sustainable Development Goals – India Index 2020-21”. He said that Himachal Pradesh is the leading state in the country on many parameters. He appreciated the government of Himachal Pradesh for these achievements.
Pointing to the fact that water of rivers of Himachal Pradesh is clean and soil is full of nutrients, the President urged the farmers of the state to adopt natural farming more and more and keep their land free from chemical fertilizers.
The President said that eco-friendly agriculture, horticulture, tourism, education, employment, etc., have immense potential for sustainable development in Himachal Pradesh. Therefore, we should make continuous efforts for development while preserving its natural beauty and heritages, he added.
PUNJAB YET TO PROPOSE PENSION FOR HIV AIDS PATIENTS
HIV AIDS patients of Punjab have been suffering not only the disease but also bearing the sting of financial deprivation for the last many years. All neighboring states of Punjab have a pension plan for these patients, even the Capital of Punjab Chandigarh also has a pension plan. Nevertheless, Punjab State AIDS Control Society is yet in the process of thinking to create a proposal for a pension scheme and send that to State Government. Punjab has a maximum patient load of HIV-AIDS patients when compared to the neighboring states. These patients require treatment, nutrition, travel expenses, Medicine expenses but whom shall they look upto. As the government despite knowing all the ground reality sitting silent and yet thinking to propose a plan for such patients.
For an HIV patient, it takes time for him/her to reach the stage of AIDS. There are more than 40000 patients in state who are suffering from HIV, some of them had already reached the stage of AIDS. Some are residing in the border area of Punjab and a maximum of them are getting treatment from PGIMER. It’s a tedious task for an HIV Patient to travel first to the PGIMER, then seek medicine every month.
Pragya Thakur (Name Changed) of Amritsar told The Daily Guardian, “It’s like adding insult to injury for me, I hardly could manage nutritious food for myself as after popping these medicines one need nutritious food to survive and then traveling this long for medicine and treatment, I have no option but to strive hard for myself and my kids who also turned out to be HIV positive”.
“Maybe it is not my mistake but once someone turns HIV Positive, people in society would not let him or her life with dignity. I was thrown out of my job after my boss get to know that I am HIV positive. Even my family too had cornered me. I became HIV positive in 2020 after infected blood was infused in me by a govt hospital in Bathinda. Government is other states provides pension to HIV patients but here in Punjab no one cares,” says Sudhanshu Mishra from Bathinda
Talking about this grim situation, Project Director of Punjab State AIDS Control Society IAS Amit Kumar exhorted, “ We know life is not easy for them. We are going to propose a Pension scheme to the Government comprising many other benefits that we could provide to these patients. Also, we are trying to collaborate with the POSHAN scheme so that we may contribute nutritious food to them. Moreover, We are also in process of providing free travel to these patients. We are hopeful that state government shall soon pass this proposal.”
BJP CHANGES ITS STRATEGY AGAINST MAMATA IN BHABANIPUR, TO RUN CAMPAIGN ‘SECRETLY’
There are only a few days left for the Bhabanipur by-election in the state of West Bengal. The propaganda storm of all the camps is at its peak. Complaints and counter-allegations are also coming to the fore in the atmosphere of propaganda. This time the BJP changed its campaign strategy. Their new strategy with Bhabanipur is that the campaign will be run secretly. The BJP leadership will reach different parts of Bhabanipur without informing anyone. Recently, Priyanka Tibrewal, the BJP candidate in the Bhabanipur by-election, has been accused of violating the Covid-19 rules. But her counter-claim is that some unknown people are reaching out during her campaign, and that’s why the crowds are getting bigger. So, this time the state BJP decided to change the campaign strategy for Bhabanipur.
BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal alleged that a group of 15 to 20 people were behind her campaign team wherever she went. Priyanka claims that although these unidentified persons are claimed to be police, there are doubts as to whether they are police at all. The BJP leader estimates that they are not police at all. They are the ones who are motivating the crowd in campaign, she said. And seeing the crowd, there admin puts the allegations of breaking the Covid-19 rules. The BJP demanded that if those people were policemen, they should come in police uniforms.
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