CHENNAI: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam has released its first list of 21 candidates in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for Lok Sabha elections. The list, however, does not include Kamal Haasan. The second list for the remaining 19 seats would be released in Coimbatore on Sunday.
On whether he would contest, Kamal Hassan said, “I wish to contest but my party cadre will have to decide.” He added, “The announcement on March 24 (Sunday) would have surprises.”
Former IPS officer and the party’s Executive Committee member Mourya would contest from North Chennai, taking on DMDK’s Alagapuram Mohanraj and DMK’s Dr Kalanidhi Veerasamy. The only woman candidate, Kameela Nasser, Executive Committee member and wife of popular actor Nasser, has been fielded in Central Chennai. She would take on DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran and PMK’s Sam Paul.
Dr MAS Subramanian is MNM’s candidate for Puducherry. He had recently switched from the DMK.
A few days ago, CK Kumaravel, a well-known entrepreneur and Executive Committee member of the party resigned from the primary membership citing “politics”. Accepting his resignation, a statement from the party said he had posted on social media about his candidature for Chidambaram constituency even when interviews were still going on and that his explanation was not satisfactory.
Kumaravel claimed he was actually given the go-ahead to do preparatory work. Now the party has fielded T Ravi, a businessman for Chidambaram.
Launched a year ago, keeping fight against corruption and development of rural Tamil Nadu as its key focus, the MNM chose to not join hands with the two Dravidian parties – the ruling AIADMK and the DMK – it has been so critical of. From the beginning, Kamal Haasan had ruled out alliance with the BJP saying, “saffron is not our colour.” Initially, there was speculation that Kamal Haasan could ally with the Congress after the state Congress chief had hinted at it. A few days ago, a lesser known Republican Party of India had forged an alliance with the MNM.
Superstar Rajinikanth, who is yet to launch his party and has chosen to not contest Lok Sabha polls, had greeted Kamal Hassan. Thanking him and tacitly seeking his support, Kamal Hassan tweeted, “If good people supported all 40 seats would be ours.”
In a shift from the norm mainstream parties follow, MNM has given tickets to several non-members, who are involved in social work, health care and human rights issues.
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Non-Gandhi chief will cause Congress to split within 24 hours: Natwar Singh
New Delhi: With the Congress leadership in limbo after the resignation of Rahul Gandhi, party veteran Natwar Singh joined the chorus backing Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for the top post, adding that having a non-Gandhi at the helm will cause the party to split.
Praising Priyanka for her visit to Sonbhadra to meet victims of a firing incident, the former external affairs minister told ANI that she is capable of handling the party. “You must have witnessed what she did in a village in Uttar Pradesh. It was amazing. She stayed there and achieved what she wanted to,” he said.
Singh suggested that Rahul’s decision of a having someone from outside the Gandhi family as the party chief will have to be reversed.
On being asked if Priyanka would be elected as the party president, the Congressman said, “It will depend on Priyanka because her brother (Rahul Gandhi) had said that nobody from the Gandhi family will become the Congress president. Now, the family will have to reverse the decision and only they can do it.”
Earlier, Anil Shastri, son of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, had said that Priyanka Gandhi should be made the Congress president as no one other than her is “100 per cent acceptable”.
Shastri, speaking to ANI, had also warned that if somebody else is made the supremo and a section of the outfit does not accept them, chances are that the party will disintegrate.
Natwar Singh echoed similar sentiments and said that if anyone is elected from outside the Gandhi family, the Congress will split within 24 hours.
“It is unfortunate that the country’s 134-years-old party does not have a party president. I do not think apart from the Gandhi family, anyone should be elected as the president,” Singh added.
Around 50 days after Rahul stepped down as Congress president, taking moral responsibility for the humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the grand old party is yet to finalize its new chief.
Gandhi, now a lawmaker from Wayanad in Kerala, became the ongress president in 2017. He had, earlier this month, written a lengthy four-page letter making his resignation from the post public. Taking responsibility for the drubbing in Lok Sabha polls, Rahul had said it would not be right for him to suggest a successor.
At present Congress in Goa has completely lost foot, after 10 of its MLAs switched side with the BJP. This has reduced its strength to five in the Assembly.
Similarly, in Karnataka, the situation is equally embarrassing for the party, as its coalition government with JD(S) is facing a tough time. The government had slumped into a crisis following the resignation of 16 dissident MLAs and now its survival seems to be tough.
The Congress won 52 seats in the recent general elections, which is just eight more than its 2014 Lok Sabha tally of 44.
35 killed as lightning strikes in Uttar Pradesh
Lucknow: As many as 35 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh due to lightning, said officials.
A day earlier, the lightning had claimed one life in the state, while two others had died of snake bites on July 18 and 20 respectively, the statement said.
Thirteen others were injured due to lightning, the statement added.
The lightning victims included seven each in Kanpur and Fatehpur, five in Jhansi, four in Jalaun, three in Hamirpur, two in Ghazipur and one each in Jaunpur, Pratapgarh, Kanpur Dehat and Chitrakoot, the statement added.
Among the three who died earlier, one was killed due to lightning in Deoria, while one lost his life to snake bite on in Kushinagar on Saturday.
Yet another person had died of snake bite on July 18 in Ambedkarnagar, the government statement said.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed sorrow over the loss of lives in the state and has issued orders to the respective district magistrates to give a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to each of the families of victims.
He also directed officials to ensure that the injured persons get adequate treatment, and that there should be no laxity in execution of relief works, the statement said.
Netanyahu to visit India in September to meet PM Modi
Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to India on a day-long visit on September 9 to meet his counterpart Narendra Modi, just eight days before unprecedented repeat polls in the Jewish state.
PM Netanyahu, who created history on July 20 by becoming the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister, surpassing Israel’s first premier David Ben-Gurion, is facing a tough political challenge as opinion polls show flagging fortunes for his ruling Likud party.
“The (Israeli) Prime Minister will be in India only for a few hours on September 9 during which he will be meeting Modi. No other significant meeting is yet on the cards but something may be worked out during the coming days, possibly a business meeting,” informed sources told news agency Press Trust of India in Jerusalem.
Israeli lawmakers in May voted 74-45 in favour of dissolving the 21st Knesset (Parliament) and hold an unprecedented repeat general elections on September 17 after PM Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government.
Some analysts in Israel believe that the meeting with PM Modi is meant to prop up his campaign right before the polls.
Ha’aretz columnist Yossi Verter, in an opinion piece, “Netanyahu’s Out of Luck, but He’s Hoping a Photo-op With India’s Modi Will Help”, recently argued that PM Netanyahu, who’s fighting for his personal survival ahead of a hearing before the state prosecution on several graft cases, must find a way to bounce back.
He wrote that that the PM Office in Tel Aviv is said to have reached out to their counterparts in New Delhi and requested for an invitation.
PM Netanyahu will land, meet, have his picture taken, market the visit as “very important” for Israel’s security and economic interests, complain that the leftist media ignored the trip and upload something to Facebook, the journalist wrote.
Sources said that the Indian PMO had indeed suggested the week of August 25 for the visit but the Israeli side pushed for an early September visit which has finally been confirmed for September 9, exactly sixteen years after then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon created history by becoming the first Israeli Premier to visit India.
The first request for an invitation for PM Netanyahu to visit New Delhi was made in January during the visit of Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Sabbath to India. The two leaders were scheduled to meet on February 11 before the elections in Israel but PM Netanyahu called off his trip to New Delhi due to other engagements.
The efforts regarding the visit were renewed after the Israeli parliament was dissolved and fresh elections announced.