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.

Is Congress In More Trouble?

Congress’ Chhattisgarh unit created quagmire for itself after it tweeted an image of India without Kashmir on Sunday. The Bharat Janata Party (BJP) workers in Raipur lodged a complaint against Congress for posting the image of a map of India without Kashmir on INC (Indian National Congress) Chhattisgarh twitter handle.

“A case has been registered under certain sections of the cybercrime. Further investigation is underway,” Yadumani Sidar, SHO, Civil Lines said.

Congress said there was a printing error in image. “There was a printing mistake in the picture. This happened while it was being compressed. An apology was rendered and picture was immediately removed from the Chhattisgarh Congress’ Twitter handle because the party stands for integrity of the nation,” Chhattisgarh Congress’ Jayavardhan Birsa reported.

Chhattisgarh will go to polls in two phases on November 12 and 20, counting will be done on December 11.

“In Raman Singh’s government, 27,000 women have gone missing in the last 15 years. They are asking for the fourth term, why?” INC Chhattisgarh said in the tweet which was later deleted.

After the incident, BJP attacked the Congress dubbing it, “Pakistan Congress Committee”.

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.

Vijay Mallya Blames Media For ‘Misrepresenting’ the Facts; Denied Meeting with Arun Jaitley

Vijay Mallya’s claim to have met Finance Minister before leaving the country, stirred a political storm. The Opposition parties blamed BJP for colluding with the corrupt businessman and asked for an explanation.

In a Facebook post, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said Mr. Mallya’s “statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth”.

“Since 2014, I have never given him (Vijay Mallya) any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise,” the post read.

The minister went on to describe the occasion where Mr Mallya met him in the Parliament corridor and “misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha Member”.

Seeing the political rift in India, the Tycoon backtracked and denied any meeting with the minister, essentially confirming Minister’s version to be true. Mallya blamed media for misrepresenting facts.

Mallya who is wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering escaped India in 2014.

The Congress chief Rahul Gandhi appealed for an independent probe into the matter considering the allegations by Mallya as “extremely serious”. He asserted that Arun Jaitley should step down his post while the probe is underway.

“The Grand Alliance”- A Strategic Approach towards Upcoming Elections In Telangana

“Maha-Kootami” (The Grand Alliance) was formed by three opposition parties- Congress, Communist Party of India and Telugu Dasam Party in order to conquer the impending elections.

For the first time, TDS which was initially formed as an anti-congress party in 1982, has aligned with Congress primarily with an agenda of conquering the ensuing elections.

On Tuesday, the heads of the three opposition parties in Telangana, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Captain N Uttam Kumar Reddy, Telangana TDP president L Ramana and CPI state secretary Chada Venkat Reddy, along with other leaders from their parties, discussed the alliance at a hotel in the city’s Banjara Hills area for nearly four hours.

While there is a general agreement on the issue of forming a grand alliance, the finer details such as the proposition of seats to be shared in various constituencies by each party, the detailed strategy of campaigning etc. are left to be worked out.

The BJP and the TRS described the alliance between the Congress and the TDP as “unholy”. BJP state president Dr K Laxman said the TDP was going against the very principle of anti-Congressism on which it was founded. “It is purely an opportunistic alliance.”

Political analyst Akhileshwari Ramagoud said if the alliance materialises in Telangana, it would pave way for a larger alliance at the national level. “There is nothing wrong in the TDP and the Congress parties coming together. When the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party can join hands in UP, why can’t the TDP and the Congress in Telangana?”

Meanwhile the leaders of the three parties submitted a memorandum to governor E.S.L. Narasimhan seeking the imposition of Governor’s rule in Telangana.

Young India’s Tax Assessment Case Reopened; HC Declined Rahul and Sonia Gandhi’s Pleas

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla of the Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed the pleas of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi against the Income Tax Department for reassessment of their 2011-12 case.

“The petitions have failed. The issues and submissions raised here by the petitioners can be raised in the Income Tax proceedings,” a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla said.

Last month, former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had stated in the High Court that the tax department had devious intention in sending the reassessment notice to Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI) in which she and Rahul are stakeholders.

According to the tax department, Rahul Gandhi had not disclosed at the time of prior assessment that he has been a member of Young India since 2010. The IT department further claimed that the amount of shares that Rahul held would yield an income of Rs 154 crore and not about Rs. 68 lakh, as assessed earlier.

Gandhi’s lawyers had contended that the query put to their client during assessment was whether he held interest in any company or sister concern in which he was a director. They said he had replied in the negative as YI was a Section 25 company, and that no director would have any interest in a non-profit entity.

The court had on August 16 reserved its order on the pleas of the three leaders after the tax department contended that Rahul Gandhi’s tax assessment for 2011-12 had to be reopened as material facts were concealed. The income tax cases against the Congress leaders stem from a probe into a complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy before a trial court. In the complaint, Swamy had alleged that the Congress leaders were involved in cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), which ran National Herald, by Young Indian Pvt Ltd, as assets worth crores of rupees had been transferred to YI. Swamy has alleged that YI had paid just Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that AJL had owed to the Congress party, given earlier as a loan to start the newspaper.

Bharat Bandh: Different Facets in Different States

The call for Bandh kicks off in Delhi with Rahul Gandhi paying homage to the father of the nation at Rajghat. Various political parties have backed the shut down while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Biju Janta Dal (BJD), Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress (TMC) refrained to do so.

Congress and Left Front have separately called nationwide ‘Bharat Bandh’ to protest against soaring fuel prices and weak rupee.

The Bandh is differently carried out in different states such as the busiest market in Thiruvananthapuram is deserted. Shops and business establishments are closed. Educational institutions are not functioning. Attendance is thin in Secretariat and other government offices.

Bandh received warm response in Malappuram, kerala. All the public vehicles are off however private vehicles are plying. Government offices marked low attendance while schools and colleges remained shut.

While two congress MLA’s were detained in Gujarat for forcing Bharat Bandh on people, the situation remained largely peaceful in Rajasthan except some skirmishes reported from kota.

Karnataka has a total Bandh where streets are wearing a deserted look in many cities. Shops are closed and district administrations have declared holidays for educational institutions.

Partial response to Bandh in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Around 60% of hotels, shops and establishments were closed in Coimbatore city in the morning.

Reports of violence are coming from Puducherry. Protestors pelted stones on a TNSTC bus near Nellithope signal.  Congress workers forced petrol bunks operated by government undertakings to shut down.

Odisha Congress leaders resorted to ‘Gandhigiri’ by offering flowers and requesting general public support the Bandh. The Congress also opened a control room to make sure that its cadres don’t take law into their hands.

The Bharat Bandh called by Congress and the call for a 12 hour strike by the Left parties in protest against the rising prices of petroleum products has little impact in West Bengal.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has made it clear that they will oppose the Bandh but will hit the streets in protest over the same issue.

The Bharat Bandh called by Congress and Left Parties against the hike of fuel, did not receive major response in Chennai.

Trains, highways blocked in Bihar. Highways too have been blocked in some areas.

In Maharashtra, Activists of MNS, reportedly damaged a State Transport bus in Pune’s Kumthekar road area. Petrol pumps in Aurangabad district have decided to remain shut till noon.

Ashok Gehlot The Only One Who Have Got A Hug From Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi routinely hugs his foreign counterparts and his partymen, but it is rare for him to have hugged a Congressman.

Ashok Gehlot is perhaps the only one from the Grand Old Party who have got a hug from Modi, and the Congress general secretary claims he took it much more positively than Modi’s response to a hug from Congress president Rahul Gandhi during the no-confidence motion debate in Parliament last week.

Modi hugged Gehlot back in 2013 when the former was the chief minister of Gujarat and the latter had just stepped down as chief minister of Rajasthan. “I was taken aback when it happened. It was a similar setting to when Rahul Gandhi went to hug Modi…Rajnath Singh and LK Advani were then sitting next to Narendra Modi on stage as they were in Parliament last week,” Gehlot told ET, referring to the Vasundhara Raje’s swearing-in function in 2013 as the chief minister of Rajasthan.

Gehlot had went on the stage to meet the leaders when Modi stood up and warmly hugged him.
“Mere to haath niche hi reh gaye the. Socha yeh ekdum se kya ho gaya aur log kya sochenge (My hands were left down as I was taken aback…I thought what people will think),” Gehlot said. “But I did not get offended as I thought he acted out of affection. I did not say that Modi ji toh mere gale padh gaye,” he told ET, pointing to Modi’s rebuke to Gandhi’s hug.

Gehlot said Modi lost an opportunity to react in the right spirit. “Unke samne ek acha avsar tha jo inhone kho diya. When you hug someone, hearts meet and it means let’s make a new start in the country by pyaar aur bhaichara, aur nafrat ko mitaiye. Rahul Gandhi took such a spontaneous brave step. It was his himmat, to go across the aisle and hug the PM. Modi, too, should have stood up and returned the hug. But he instead chose to make fun of Gandhi’s gesture in his speech. This was extremely unfortunate,” Gehlot said.

He said Modi and himself, too, had bitterly criticised each other during the 2013 Rajasthan poll campaign before that hug, like Gandhi criticised Modi in his speech before going to hug him. “Par meine bura nahi mana tha unke gale lagane ka. Unko bhi Rahul ji ke gesture ka bura nahi manna chahiye tha,” Gehlot said.

A senior BJP leader, however, said Gehlot’s comparison is “unfair” as while Modi had hugged Gehlot at a public function on stage, Gandhi did so inside Parliament in the middle of the no-confidence motion debate just to attract eye-balls. “His subsequent wink exposed his intention,” the leader told ET.



Congress To Bring Women In Decision-Making Roles

Days after announcing that party president Rahul Gandhi will be its prime ministerial candidate in the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha election, Congress sources told journalists on Tuesday that they will support any candidate who isn’t backed by the Sangh parivar or the Bharatiya Janata Party.

They were responding to a journalist’s question about whether the party will back Mamata Banerjee or Mayawati as prime minister next year.The sources attacked the BJP and RSS attitude to women and said that the Congress will soon have more women in decision-making roles.

“Alliances in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will be the key to defeating Narendra Modi,” they said. The sources also believe that it will be difficult for Modi to clinch a second term if the party fails to win more than 280 seats as the current NDA allies and even leaders within the BJP are miffed with the prime minister’s autocratic style of working.

Attacking the ruling government’s approach towards India’s allies abroad, the Congress sources slammed Modi for “leaving Bhutan hanging out to dry” in an attempt to salvage relationship with China.

Talking about Rahul Gandhi’s ‘spontaneous’ hug in the parliament, the sources claimed that it was the party president’s way of thanking the prime minister for bringing him to the fore.

While Gandhi has been seen as a reluctant politician by critics and a light-weight opponent by BJP leaders,  the manner in which the 48-year-old Congress president has been targeted by the party and Modi has raised his profile in the national political game.

The Congress’s willingness to back Mamata, Mayawati or indeed any other candidate for prime minister so long as they are not part of a BJP arrangements suggests a certain firming up of the party’s policy towards strategic alliances for the 2019 election.