Jagan Reddy Becomes The Only Chief Minister To Get 5 Deputies In One Go
Jagan Mohan Reddy, who took power in Andhra Pradesh last week, will have a record five Deputy Chief Ministers. The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister told his party lawmakers in a meeting this morning that he would have five deputies and a full 25-member cabinet, which would represent the aspirations of all communities.
The new ministers will take oath on Saturday.
The deputy Chief Ministers will represent Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, minorities and the Kapu communities, said leaders of Jagan Reddy's YSR Congress.
Jagan Reddy reportedly also told his legislators that the cabinet would predominantly comprise members from the weaker sections, "contrary to expectations that the Reddy community would get a lion's share".
Jagan Reddy has set for himself an ambitious target of earning for Andhra Pradesh the tag of 'best-governed state' within six months or one year. He said the cabinet would be reconstituted after a mid-term review of the government's performance.
In the previous government headed by N Chandrababu Naidu, there were two deputy Chief Ministers, one each from the Kapu and backward classes communities.
46-year-old Jagan Reddy led his party to a huge victory in the recent state and national elections in Andhra Pradesh.
The YSR Congress won 151 of the 175 seats in the state assembly, wiping out N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party. The party also won 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats.
Chandrababu Naidu was the first chief minister of Andhra Pradesh after its bifurcation to carve out Telangana five years ago.
Jagan Reddy also wants to fulfill the expansive promises he made in the run-up to the polls. These include hiking pension for senior citizens, Rs. 12,500 per year as investment support to each farmer in the state, fee reimbursement for students up to Rs. 1.5 lakh per year, Rs. 15,000 to mothers who send children to school, free borewells and interest-free loans, free borewells, to eligible farmers and so on.
However, all this will cost several thousand crore rupees, at a time when Andhra Pradesh has a debt burden of Rs. 2.97 lakh crore, three times over what it was in 2014-15 when the revenue deficit stood at Rs. 16,200 crore.
Jagan Reddy says he will have a corruption-free administration and will stop wasteful expenditure by reviewing all projects. This includes dream capital Amaravati, where Mr Naidu had planned to spend over Rs. 50,000 crore rupees, Polavaram and several other irrigation and infrastructure projects.
For all these, the YSR Congress chief has already stopped all contracts where work has not been grounded. Work has stopped in every other project where not more than 25 per cent implementation has happened.
Jagan Reddy is hoping that his measures will bring in what he calls "Rajanna Rajyam", an adulatory reference to his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy's era.
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Delhi Metro, DTC buses to be free for women, says Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced that DTC buses and the Delhi Metro will be free for women in the national capital. Kejriwal said the Delhi government would bear the expense, which would approximately be Rs 1,600 crore for the year. The decision has been taken keeping the safety of women in mind, he added.
"The safety of women is the most important for the AAP government. Keeping in mind the safety of women, the government has decided that in Delhi all Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses and the Delhi Metro will be free for women so that maximum number of women can use public transport. Public transport is said to be safest for women. Due to the increase in metro prices, they are not being able to use these services," Kejriwal said while addressing a press conference.
Kejriwal emphasised that the Delhi government would not need permission from the centre. "We don't need the Centre's permission for this. The Delhi government will bear the cost. The cost for the remaining six months will be ?700-800 crore," Kejriwal added.
Kejriwal said it would take about three months for the rollout of the scheme. "Women who can afford it can continue to buy tickets. I have given officers one week's time to come up with a detailed proposal. Our aim is to implement this in two-three months. We want suggestions from the public on how we can best implement this," Kejriwal said.
Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gehlot has conducted a meeting with the senior officials of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to discuss the plan. Gehlot asked the officials of DMRC to submit a proposal and to look into the technicalities of the plan regarding free travel for women.
Earlier, Manish Sisodia, Deputy CM of Delhi, had said that "AAP government could reduce Metro fares by 25-30 percent if it is given full control over Delhi Metro Rail Corporation".
Did Arvind Kejriwal make the right decision?
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.
Do you think the Glory of Congress be back again?
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.