New Delhi: The Congress may have pitched for Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but the party gave indications that it is not averse to accepting a nominee for the top post from any Opposition alliance who does not have the backing of the RSS.
Top Congress sources while giving this indication also said that to prevent the BJP from coming back to power in 2019, the Congress will look to cobble up alliances with various parties in states.
On whether Congress president Rahul Gandhi will step aside for a woman candidate from a possible Opposition alliance, the sources said he “is comfortable seeing any prime minister other than an RSS-backed one”.
“Let’s see how the dice rolls,” the sources said.
There is speculation in the Opposition camp that a woman prime ministerial candidate may be projected in the next elections and names of BSP leader Mayawati and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee are doing the rounds.
After the meeting of the Congress Working committee (CWC) on Sunday, the Congress said Rahul Gandhi will be its prime ministerial face for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It also authorised Rahul Gandhi to forge alliances with “like-minded” political parties to take on the ruling BJP.
Also Read: Cong discusses alliance at CWC meet, authorises Rahul to decide on tie-ups
Stating that it’s going to be an “ideological fight”, the sources said the Congress has to bring all the opposition parties together to defeat the BJP.
“India in 2004 is different from 2014. This is beyond our regular political battle. It is for the first time all institutions are attacked,” the sources said and added, “the more the RSS attacks Congress, it will help the party to build.”
The sources further said that the Congress does not believe in “right or left” views but for a liberal and pragmatic space.
According to the sources, the Congress leadership is of the view that the BJP will be decimated without any “anger and disrespect”. The BJP will not get enough seats to win the next general polls as parties like the TDP and the Shiv Sena are not happy with the saffron party, the sources added.
For Narendra Modi to be the Prime Minister again, he has to get seats in the range of 280 and that is not going to happen, they said.
The sources said if grand anti-BJP alliances in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar work out fine, then it will be difficult for PM Modi to retain power.
While Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats, Bihar has 40 and the two together comprise over 22 per cent of the total strength of Lok Sabha members of 543.
Noting that the Congress is focussing on increasing women’s representation in the party, the sources said women leaders will be appointed in general secretary- level posts after they gain experience at different levels of party functioning.
On women’s reservation bill, they said it will be a “tactical win” if the legislation gets through Parliament. However, the party has to work a lot to ensure more women in politics and that it would work towards creating a positive atmosphere.
The sources further said India needs to be built with new ideas to address the challenges of farm crisis, unemployment among others but the Prime Minister is “running out of ideas” as he is working on the political architecture of the 1990s and the saffron party is allegedly working for few corporates.
Pramod Sawant sworn in as 11th Goa CM
Mumbai : Vijai Sardesai from the Goa Forward Party and Sudin Dhavalikar from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, both alliance partners, have been inducted as Deputy Chief Ministers, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik told reporters on the sidelines of the oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan here.
Sawant, 45, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Mridula Sinha at a formal ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan in the early hours of Tuesday.
Apart from Sawant and the two deputy Chief Ministers, nine other MLAs, all of them who were part of the previous BJP-led coalition cabinet headed by Parrikar, were also administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor and inducted as ministers in the state cabinet.
The Chief Minister said portfolios would be allotted to his ministers within eight days.
Sawant succeeds former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday due to complications arising from advanced pancreatic cancer.
The new Chief Minister heads a coalition government which has the support of 12 MLAs from the BJP, three each from the Goa Forward and MGP, and two independent MLAs, taking the tally of the treasury benches to 20 in the 36-member state legislative assembly.
“Parrikar is not among us now and this responsibility has been given collectively to me by my party, alliance partners and independent MLAs. This is a big responsibility,” Sawant told reporters soon after he was sworn in.
“I am committed to the development of Goa and to take forward the teachings of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with a positive outlook,” Sawant also said, adding that he would focus on completing all infrastructure related projects started by his predecessor.
He was sworn in after a marathon session of hectic negotiations anchored by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP national president Amit Shah, who over a series of meetings, spanning more than 24 hours, with legislators from regional parties and independent MLAs forged a coalition together.
2008 Mumbai attacks one of the ‘most notorious’ terrorist attacks: China
Mumbai/Beijing: In a rare acknowledgment, China described the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistan-based LeT terror outfit as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”.
In a white paper on its massive crackdown against terrorists in the restive Xianjiang province, China said the global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years had inflicted agony on humanity.
The paper described the Mumbai terror attacks as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”, adding that the “global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years has inflicted agony on humanity”.
The release of the paper, “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang”, interestingly coincided with Pakistan foreign minister’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s visit to China.
Throughout the world, terrorism and extremism gravely threaten peace and development, and endanger the life and property of individuals, said the white paper released by China’s State Council Information Office.
The paper came days after China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to designate Pakistan-based chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” by putting a technical hold on the proposal, a move India termed as disappointing.
The JeM has claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.
“Striking aggressively at terrorism and furthering the de-radicalisation effort is the common responsibility of the international community and essential to the protection of human rights,” it said.
China opposes all forms of terrorism and extremism, and opposes double standards on fighting terrorism, said the white paper, adding that Beijing opposes linking terrorism and extremism with specific countries, ethnic groups or religions.
China advocates comprehensive measures to address both the symptoms and the root causes, with the dual purposes of striking at terrorist activities and eliminating poverty, so that there will be no room for terrorism to breed, it said.
Pak did not do a favour by returning Abhinandan, says Sitharaman
Mumbai: Pakistan has shown the statements of such people and opposition leaders on their television channels, increasing TRP, the minister said.
“It is these people who did not want (the country) to buy Rafale, because arrival of these will give strength to our forces,” she said, addressing a gathering in Kolkata on ‘Ensuring India’s National Security’ organised by the Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.
India has given a message to the world after the Balakot air strike by not bowing to Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail, the minister said.
On February 26, the IAF conduct air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps. The strikes came after a suicide bomber from the terror group on February 14 rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus, killing 40 personnel, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Modi did what former prime minister Manmohan Singh did not do after the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008, possibly because of Pakistan’s continued propaganda that “it is a nuclear power like India, and we should not forget that before doing anything against them”, she said.
“‘Chowkidar’ gave Pakistan the right answer,” she said.
The defence minister said though there is no direct war being waged between India and Pakistan, there were ceasefire violations by the neighbouring country, and non-state actors with the support of Pakistan, indulge in attacks like that in Pulwama.
Many were given training for suicide attacks at Balakot. There was intelligence on this development and that there will be many more Pulwama-like attacks in the coming days, she said.
“So, not to wage war but to neutralise the terrorists at their training camps. They were eliminated (at Balakot),” she said, adding, India did what Pakistan ought to have done.
Sitharaman said Pakistan claims it is a victim of terrorism, but itself trains and sends them to India.
“Why Pakistan does not take action against terrors groups and terrorists being nurtured and trained on its soil if it is a victim?” she asked.
The minister said that after the Pulwama attack, evidence was given to Pakistan, but it did not act.
Noting that the Jaish-e-Mohammed itself claimed responsibility for the strike, she said, “What more proof does it (Pakistan) want?”
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