Two Congress Leaders in Goa Called it Quits; Aligned with BJP

Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte, have together landed Congress on thin ice while reducing their number from 16 to 14 in Legislative assembly of Goa with their resignations from the aforesaid party.

Both ex- Congress leaders who flew to Delhi late night on Monday, faxed their resignation letters to Speaker Pramod Sawant. By Tuesday evening, they were with the BJP.

This departure of two members at this critical hour can jeopardize the whole situation for congress which is now evenly matched with the BJP, which is trying to hold its coalition together as Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar battles a pancreatic condition.

Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar left for Delhi late on Monday night and, until their meeting with Amit Shah, had been very secretive despite speculation about their party swap.

“We expect two-three more legislators to come (with us), not today but in the coming days,” Subhash Shirodkar was quoted as saying after his meeting with the BJP president.

The Congress expressed shock. Both lawmakers were part of a Congress meet held to discuss the political situation arising out of Mr Parrikar’s health.

Last night, Congress leader A Chellakumar told PTI that he had spoken to both the legislators and they had assured him that they were not quitting the party. This morning, that changed dramatically.

Mr Chellakumar admitted that the legislators “may have been taken by the BJP”. He alleged that the two were intimidated by Amit Shah and poached by Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, who is seen to be aiming for the Chief Minister’s post in case Manohar Parrikar steps down over his poor health.

“I got a message that Vishwajit Rane was the man who has convinced and taken them to Delhi and he has bargained with the BJP high command that if he got the two Congress MLAs, he should be made the Chief Minister,” Mr Chellakumar claimed.

The latest shake-up in Goa politics comes alongside the BJP’s need to firm up its numbers as coalition partners clamour for meaty portfolios.

The BJP also hopes to stymie Congress efforts to raise numbers to form a coalition government.

The ruling BJP, with 14 lawmakers, has the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Goa Forward Party – both with three lawmakers each, three independent lawmakers and one legislator from the Nationalist Congress Party.

The Congress party recently demanded that they be invited to form government in the state, since the BJP-led coalition was in a state of flux over Mr Parrikar’s health.

Goa Assembly to be Dissolved Soon?

No sooner the Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar arrived on the scene after his treatment from AIIMS, Delhi than the allied parties use the situation for their own end.

A minister of alliance partner of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has warned it against dissolving the state assembly. A day after Parrikar’s return, Goa Forward Party leader and minister Vijay Sardesai released a video statement asking the BJP to keep its ‘word’ to ensure that the government lasts the full term of five years.

Sardesai’s comments come at a time when opposition Congress has already staked claim to form the next government. Parriakr, who returned to Panaji on Sunday, was being treated for a pancreatic ailment at the Delhi hospital. Although doctors have advised him rest for a week, the CM has started interacting with his family members.

In the video statement, Sardesai said, “The onus is on them (the BJP) and they will have to fulfil their commitment that this government will complete its full term and get the continued support of the Central government as was seen in the past.”  He added that BJP chief Amit Shah had assured him that the BJP national leadership was not interested in having a mid-term poll or to dissolve the assembly.

He added, “As such, when our commitment is there and their commitment is also there, the onus of this government continuing for the full five-year term lies with the central BJP leadership.”

Parrikar’s leadership in the state was one of the major conditions for the coalition partners – Goa Forward Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three independents – to ally with the BJP to form the government.

Fresh Elections or New Government; Congress to Take Advantage of Parrikar’s Failing Health

Due to the prolonged illness of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and his inability to continue his service has paved the way for the dissolution of the existing BJP led coalition government in Goa.

However, on Monday Congress leader Mr. Kavlekar along with his 15 other MLA’s grasped the opportunity and submitted a proposal in a letter to Governor Mridula Sinha’s office. In the letter “We have requested the Governor through our letter that the Assembly should not be dissolved and fresh election forced on the State. We have also asked her not to impose President’s Rule or keep the House in suspended animation. People have elected us for five years. Pushing for an election after a mere 18 months is not good for anybody,” Mr. Kavlekar said.

BJP on the other is looking for holding fresh elections in the state. Parikkar not only enabled the BJP’s growth and success in an unlikely state (think of its cultural roots and plural religious mix) but was the reason the party could form the government at all in 2017 despite losing its majority and coming second. Smaller parties and independents were willing to back the nimble-footed and resourceful BJP, while the Congress was caught napping despite being the single largest party, but on one condition: Parikkar’s return to the state from Delhi. This suited the then defence minister, who was always itching to get back home.

As Parikkar’s health remains fragile, Goa will continue to be politically turbulent. From the continuation of a government with a leader who is unwell to a change in power equations, from President’s Rule to early elections, all options are on the cards. But the decision will finally boil down as much to the machinations in Panjim as to the state of a man in a room in Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Sometimes then, leaders do determine the fate of the organisation.

BJP, JD (U) Alliance Seat Sharing Confirmed for Upcoming LS Elections in Bihar

After the ‘Mahagathbandan’ formed by Congress with other Oppositional parties, now BJP and JD (U) have formed an alliance, as a strategic approach to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, talks over which have been held at length by both parties.

Detailed discussions over the seat sharing proportion by each party is finalized and will be disclosed at the ‘right’ time as the Bihar chief Minister and National President of JD (U), Nitish Kumar said.

Senior JD(U) leaders said that as part of the arrangement, the BJP and the JD(U) will contest 16 seats each, while Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is likely to get four seats, and Union minister Upendra Khushwaha could get two seats. The remaining two will be divided between Arun Kumar and Pappu Yadav. However, an official statement was not issued by either the JD(U) or the BJP.

“The top leadership of the party has conveyed to us that JD(U) and BJP are likely to get 16 seats each. It is a respectable formula between the two parties. It is important that parties respect each other in an alliance. Nitish Kumar is an important member of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and the senior most leader of NDA in Bihar. His position should be reflected in the seat-sharing formula,” said a senior JD(U) leader based in Patna.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, JD(U) had contested the polls along with Communist Party of India (CPI). Kumar’s party won only two out of the 38 seats it had contested and lost deposits in 23 seats. The BJP, on the other hand, had won 22 out of the 40 seats in Bihar, with the NDA picking up 31 seats, which included LJP’s six and three of Khushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

However, RSLV is demanding the same number of seats as they had in 2014 elections without any comprise in the seat proportion, alleged a senior leader from the party.

‘Throw BJP Out of Power In 2019’: Urged Bhim Army Chief Chandrasekhar Azad

Hours after his release from jail, Pro-Dalit organization Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad, said in a press conference held on Friday, that he will not contest the 2019 polls but will appeal his people to throw the ‘fascist’ BJP out of power in 2019.

“All that I had to go through, I will return them with interest in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls” said Azad.

Azad was first arrested for his alleged involvement in Saharanpur riots on 8 June 2017. On 2 November 2017 the Allahabad High Court granted him bail. However, a day later, he was arrested again under the provisions of the National Security Act, as preventive detention.

After the constant appeals of his ailing mother. The Uttar Pradesh government ordered the early release of Azad on Thursday, but he was released from prison at 2:24 am on Friday, 14 September.

Corruption Charges on PM Modi Levelled by Former BJP Leaders

After Congress, now Former Leaders of BJP joined the Blame-Game in Rafale Deal, levelling charges of corruption against PM Modi. Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie condemned Prime Minister for flouting the Defence Procurement Rules and “compromising national security” while signing the Rafale deal.

“National security has been compromised by the Prime Minister and every rule of the defence procurement flouted to unilaterally reduce the number of planes from 126 to 36. As per DPP (defence procurement procedure), only the Service headquarters can decide on the numbers,” said Mr. Shourie to media at the Press Club of India on Tuesday.

Mr. Shourie asserted that every explanation given by BJP spins a new story which reveals that they have a lot to hide. The Prime Minister should not have overturned the UPA deal that took seven to eight years of negotiations, just to fulfill their insidious aspirations, he added.

“Ajey Bharat Atal Bhajapa”: Stage Is Set for 2019 Elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi instilled confidence in his party members by his new slogan coined at National Executive Meet of the BJP leaders held in New Delhi on Sunday.

The meet witnessed discussions on topics such as the ‘Mahagatbandan’, great alliance formed by the opposition parties for upcoming polls, among other things.

PM Modi paid tribute to the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee through this slogan.

The new slogan, ‘Ajay Bharat, Atal BJP’, means an India which is victorious and cannot be subjugated by anyone and a party which is committed to its principles, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, briefing media about PM Modi’s speech the key party meet.

Taking a dig at efforts by opposition parties to stitch together a grand alliance against the BJP, PM Modi said, “People who do not see eye to eye are thinking of a grand alliance. It is vindication of our work.”

He said that no one, not even smaller parties, was ready to accept the leadership of the Congress in such an alliance.

Describing his vision for the country, the prime minister said, “I want the country to be affluent, but its bedrock should be simplicity.

Not Even Amarinder Singh Spared Of BJP’s Anti- Sikh Riots Blame Game

The BJP and its ally SAD stepped up their attack on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for remarks that his party was not involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, alleging the opposition party’s entire apparatus was involved in the riots and they could not be absolved of their sins.

They also attacked Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for defending Mr Gandhi and his stand and claimed he had hurt the sentiments of people in his state and of Sikhs across the country.

“This was not expected from Amarinder Singh. Being a Sikh, he should not have stood with the conspirators of the 1984 genocide on this issue. The Punjab chief minister has hurt the sentiments of the people from his state,” senior SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra claimed.

He alleged it was a fact that the Congress was involved in the riots and they “cannot be absolved of their sins”.

Echoing similar sentiments, BJP’s national secretary RP Singh alleged, “Not one or two hands, the entire Congress apparatus was involved in 1984 genocide against Sikhs in the national capital.”

He claimed then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the father of Rahul Gandhi, tried to justify it by saying that when a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes.

The Congress was forced to cancel its leader Kamal Nath’s appointment as Punjab assembly polls in-charge following anger from the community whose members had alleged his involvement in the violence, he claimed.

Last week, Mr Gandhi, who was on a two-day visit to the UK, told an audience that the anti-Sikh riots were a tragedy and a painful experience, but disagreed with the view that the Congress was “involved” in it.

Pawar’s formula for Mahagadhbandhan’s Prime Ministership

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has come out with a formula to settle the issue of Prime Ministership among opposition parties. At a party meeting on Monday, Pawar said the Opposition party bagging the maximum number of seats after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls could claim the top post. “Let elections take place, remove these people (BJP) from power. We will sit together. Whichever party has got more seats can claim the prime minister’s post.”

“I am happy that the Congress leader (Rahul Gandhi) has also said he is not in the race for the prime minister’s post,” Pawar said. While addressing the Indian Journalists’ Association in London on Saturday, Gandhi said he was not driven by an ambition to become prime minister, contravening his own remarks earlier this year.

“I don’t have these visions. I view myself as fighting an ideological battle and this change has come in me after 2014. I realised that there’s a risk to Indian state, to the Indian way of doing things and I’m defending that,” Gandhi had said.

Earlier too, Opposition parties like RJD, SP and BSP have hinted that they were uncomfortable with Gandhi being projected as the PM face. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said has that a lot of people were capable of becoming PM, while Akhilesh Yadav has claimed the country would see a new prime minister after 2019 elections. The BSP has hinted that Mayawati could be the united Opposition PM nominee, while TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has met several opposition leaders in the past few months, has sent the vibes that she was also a strong contender.

After two round of meetings, the Maharashtra Congress-NCP state leadership has reportedly agreed to forge an electoral alliance for 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Pawar vouched for forging alliances of anti-BJP parties at a state level and said the prime ministerial candidate could be decided after the election results, as happened after the 1977 and 2004 general polls.

In 1977, Congress tasted defeat and non-Congress parties had come together to form the government led by Moraraji Desai. The Congress-led UPA was formed in 2004 after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA failed to get people’s mandate. “In 2004, no (non-BJP) party had a majority. No leader or party was projected (as prime ministerial face). The BJP had then launched a massive India Shining campaign but was defeated,” Pawar said.

Raising concerns over the alleged instances of EVM tampering, Pawar asked the Election Commission to revert to using ballot papers during polling. The NCP leader said despite Modi being a strong competitor, the people of the country would teach him a lesson in the upcoming elections. “Narendra Modi is a strong competitor (now). But don’t worry, the common man of this country is more aware and smarter than us,” Pawar said.

The Maratha strongman said he would “try to go to each state and make regional parties which are not with the BJP to join us (the opposition alliance)”. He noted that Congress was strong in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan while in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati-led BSP and Samajwadi Party are the heavyweights.

“Situation is different in each state. Hence, we will have to get along with parties which are strong in each state,” the former union minister said. When asked if the Raj Thackeray-led MNS would be part of the anti-BJP alliance, Pawar said this issue hadn’t been discussed.