Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil Quits Congress, Others May Follow
Veteran Maharashtra leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, said to be on his way to the BJP, formally quit the Congress today. The buzz is that around 10 lawmakers are likely to follow him, in view of the party's abysmal performance in the Lok Sabha elections. Though the Congress has dismissed the possibility, such a development may prove a huge setback for the party ahead of the assembly elections in the state that will be held in November.
Sources said Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has been promised a cabinet berth by the BJP. Mr Patil's son, Sujay Vikhe Patil has already crossed over to the BJP and won the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat in the recently concluded elections.
It was the issue of his Lok Sabha ticket that caused Mr Patil's rift with the Congress and led to his quitting the position of the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly in April, in the middle of the elections.
Though Mr Patil wanted the Ahmednagar seat for his son, it went to Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party under the alliance agreement, that will continue for the assembly elections.
Mr Pawar and Mr Vikhe Patil share a history of animosity. When his son was given a BJP ticket from Ahmednagar, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil was seen campaigning against the NCP candidate, making it clear that he was on his way out of the Congress.
"I didn't even campaign for the party during Lok Sabha elections. I don't doubt the High Command, they had given me an opportunity by making me the Leader of Opposition. I tried to do good work but situation made me resign," Mr Patil was quoted.
The Congress has said they do not expect any other leader to defect to the BJP.
Maharashtra State Congress Committee President Ashok Chavan told that there are some disgruntled lawmakers who had been in touch with Mr Patil, but they were not quitting the party at this point.
"I have spoken to some MLAs who were unhappy. They say they are not quitting the Congress," Mr Chavan said.
The party's expelled leader Abdul Sattar however, told reporters that eight to 10 Congress legislators are in touch with the BJP.
"Disappointment with the Congress leadership in the state and their way of functioning are the reason behind our decision. The state leadership is destroying the party here," he quoted.
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Ajit Doval to remain National Security Advisor; promoted to cabinet rank
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has made it to Modi's Cabinet 2.0. He is not only going to continue as the NSA for another five years, but has also been promoted to a Cabinet rank from the Minister of State rank in the government's previous term.
Government sources told that this promotion comes as a recognition of his work in the past five years. During his term India conducted two cross-border surgical strikes - the Indian Air Force's February 26 Balakot strike and the Indian Army's September 2016 retaliatory strikes post the Uri attack - and sorted out several delicate diplomatic issues including Doklam and the extradition operation of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore Choppergate scandal. He is also credited with planning key missions related to Myanmar and China.
Before being appointed as India's fifth NSA in 2014, Doval spent three decades with the Intelligence Bureau and went on to retire as its director in 2005. As the NSA, he has not only emerged as the most powerful bureaucrat in the country but is also seen as one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's closest aides. The fact that he was elevated as the head of the Strategic Policy Group to assist the National Security Council and help with developing a long-term strategic defence review - a post earlier headed by the cabinet secretary - underlined his steep ascent in the power corridors.
Doval's return for a second term puts the spotlight on the national security doctrine being worked upon by a committee that he heads.
Is Ajit Doval the best National Security Advisor of India till now?
Sonia Gandhi elected as parliamentary party leader; Rahul vows to 'fight the BJP every day'
A group of newly elected Congress parliamentarians on Saturday elected UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi as their parliamentary leader. The decision was taken in a meeting, which was held a week after Rahul Gandhi, taking responsibility for the party's loss in the Lok Sabha election 2019, expressed his desire to quit the Congress President post. The Congress won 52 out of 542 parliamentary seats in 2019's General Elections. This is the party's second worst performance after the 2014 poll debacle. The grand old party is three members short to qualify for the post of Opposition's leader in Lok Sabha.
While congratulating his mother, Rahul Gandhi, in his address to party's MPs, said the party "will fight the BJP every day". "You have to understand who you are first. You are fighting for every single Indian. Hatred cowardice and anger is fighting against you. You have to be more aggressive," he added. Gandhi, in reference to the missing party members, said, "I would be happy if the old faces were here and they are ideologically with us. We will try and rejuvenate ourselves and we can do it".
Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gandhi's close aide, has lost the Lok Sabha election 2019 from Guna. Several of the Congress' senior leaders have also lost against the BJP. Moreover, Sonia Gandhi has made it clear that the party chief's post is her top priority.
Addressing the lawmakers, she thanked Rahul Gandhi for "toiling night and day and taking on the Modi government, raising concerns about all sections of society and helped the party win in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan". She added, "As we speak, emotional messages are coming for his continuation (as the party chief). The Congress Working Committee met to deliberate the issue and must take steps." The meeting was attended by Congress' all 52 lawmakers, who won in the Lok Sabha election and members from the Rajya Sabha.
Do you think it's the right decision?
Trouble In Rajasthan After Congress Decimation In Lok Sabha Polls
The Rajasthan Congress, which failed to win even one of the state's 25 Lok Sabha seats, is battling an internal crisis. While two of its ministers have demanded accountability, there have been reports that one minister is on his way out, citing the party's dismal performance. The crisis comes amid Rahul Gandhi's tough talk on Saturday about senior leaders and Chief Ministers who fielded their sons in the election and confined themselves to their campaign, instead of working for the party campaign across the states.
The Congress on Monday said the working committee focused on the party's performance and not about "casting aspersions on the role or conduct of any specific individual". But there have been speculations that Mr Gandhi's words, among others, were directed at Rajasthan Chief Minster Ashok Gehlot, whose son Vaibhav Gehlot contested and lost from his home turf, Jodhpur.
Mr Gehlot, who was present at the meeting, later admitted to the media that the matter was discussed. Insisting that it was an "internal matter of the party", he said Congress president "has the right to point out any shortcomings in Congress leaders".
The record has not been good for other Congress lawmakers and ministers either.
A detailed analysis shows that in the 200 seats in the assembly in Rajasthan the BJP in this Lok Sabha election took a lead in 185 assembly segments. In Sawai Madhopur's Tonk - the constituency of Sachin Pilot - Congress candidate Namo Narayan Meena lost to the BJP's Sukhbir Jaunpuria by around 1 lakh votes.
State ministers Udai Lal Anjana and Ramesh Meena have said the party should review the defeat in detail so it can stand up and perform well in upcoming local body elections in the state.
"The results were beyond expectations. Voters were swayed by the issue of nationalism raised by the BJP. Our leaders, too, made full efforts, but it was not acceptable to the people," Mr Anjana told reporters.
A minister, meanwhile, has announced on social media that he is stepping down. The whereabouts of Lal Chand Kataria, known to be a loyalist of Ashok Gehlot, is not known and there is no confirmation that he has actually resigned.
Will Congress win Lok Sabha Election ever after their defeat in 2019 Lok Sabha Election?
Congress Dumps "Proof" Of Loan Waiver Outside Shivraj Singh Chouhan's House
BHOPAL: Senior Congress leader Suresh Pachouri today dumped bundles of documents at the residence of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as "proof" that his party has waived off loans of 21 lakh farmers after coming to power in the state in December last year.
However, Mr Chouhan refuted the Congress' claims, dubbing it as a "bundle of lies".
Former Union minister Mr Pachouri along with state minister PC Sharma and other Congress leaders brought cartons of documents in two vehicles. They then put the cartons on their heads and walked to the former chief minister's official residence where they dumped the documents.
The Congress claimed that these documents proved that the Kamal Nath-led government in Madhya Pradesh has acted on the party's pre-poll promise of waiving off farm loans.
After the Congress leaders left, the former chief minister rejected the documentary evidence, terming it a "bundle of lies".
The BJP leader claimed that the Congress government was supposed to pay Rs. 48,000 crore to farmers, but out of it, it has paid only Rs. 13,000 crore to them so far.
"Before the Assembly polls last year, they promised to waive the farm loans in just 10 days after coming to power. The Congress has betrayed the poor farmers," he alleged.
Madhya Pradesh Congress spokesman Bhupendra Gupta said his party was waiving off farmers' loans in right earnest and that the work to write off debts was put on hold due to the model code of conduct in force for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
Mr Chouhan has been accusing the ruling Congress in the state of going back on its promise of waiving off farm loans.