New Delhi: For Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury, whose Rajya Sabha term is nearing its end, an unusual advice came from the chairman Venkaiah Naidu . It was about her weight.
During her farewell speech, Chowdhury, 63, said: “He (Naidu) knows me from many kilos before. Sir, many people worry about my weight but in this job, you need to throw your weight around.”
To which, Naidu responded, “My simple suggestion is, reduce your weight and make efforts to increase the weight of the party”.
“Sir, the Congress is fine,” Chowdhury said, not one to back down.
The exchange evoked peals of laughter in the House, which witnessed several light moments during the farewell speeches of retiring members who are about to complete their tenure.
In another such moment, Chowdhury recalled that during her political journey in the Upper House, she was fortunate for being “the entire Opposition’s united candidate to contest against Najma Heptullah for the Deputy Chair here”.
This led Naidu to immediately quip: “That would have solved many problems.”
“The lot of women has not improved tremendously. It is a pathetic 11 percent even now (women’s strength in Rajya Sabha). I really think we need more women,” she said.
Chowdhury said from Shah Bano to Surpanakha, she has been a witness to history in the making in the House.
In February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken a dig at Congress lawmaker Renuka Chowdhury during his speech in the Rajya Sabha, comparing her loud laughter in the House to that from Ramayana, leaving her fuming.
While, even though Modi did not take names, the exchange fuelled numerous memes on social media with people speculating that Chowdhury had been compared to Supranakha from Ramayana series.
Rajni Patil, also of the Congress, said it was destiny that she did not get a full tenure either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, to which Naidu said, “then you go to Lok Sabha again,” which again evoked laughter across the House.
She also alleged discrimination against women members of Parliament, calling for a change in the mindset and urged the ruling dispensation for early passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Rahul Gandhi did not take stand against corruption when it mattered in Bihar: Nitish
Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Tuesday attributed his sudden exit from the opposition alliance to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s “inability” to take a stand on corruption charges against his former deputy and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
Kumar, who also heads the JD(U), claimed that his party was instrumental in the Congress getting 40 seats to contest in the 2015 assembly polls.
The chief minister said he had felt let down by Gandhi, then the party’s vice-president, when he “did not come up with even a statement that could have made me have second thoughts (about leaving the alliance)”.
Kumar had quit the alliance, comprising the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress, in July 2017 after the CBI lodged an FIR against Yadav on corruption charges and the following strife between him and the RJD.
“It has been always my line that there will be no compromise on crime, corruption and communalism. Their (RJD’s) style of functioning was such that it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to work. There was interference at all levels. Their people would telephone police stations with their own decrees,” Kumar claimed.
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“Rahul Gandhi had famously tore that ordinance. It was the JD(U) which insisted that it (Congress) be given 40 seats and they ended up winning 28. The RJD, despite its old association with it, was never ready to give it that much weightage,” Kumar said.
In 2003, Gandhi had torn an ordinance brought by the Manmohan Singh government with a provision to protect convicted politicians against disqualification.
Stating that he resigned as he had no other choice, Kumar said his resignation was immediately followed by an offer of support from the BJP. “So I took the decision (to join hands with the BJP) in the interests of Bihar,” he said.
“We have our differences on issues like Ayodhya, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code since the 1990s. My association with the BJP predates the NDA’s formation in 1999. But we have always worked amicably. Even now, we are getting full cooperation from the Narendra Modi government,” he said.
Kumar had snapped ties with the BJP in 2013 following differences over projection of Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat chief minister, as the prime ministerial candidate.
On a query about the RSS, he said, “I may not agree with their thoughts but I cannot help admiring their consistency and commitment towards organisation building, something those adhering to our socialist ideology never excelled at.”
Recalling the stupendous performances by the JD(U)-BJP combine in 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the assembly elections a year later, Kumar said, “Now we have an important leader like Ram Vilas Paswanwith us. So there is no reason why we should not do even better in the upcoming LS polls.”
On the opposition ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance), which comprises the RJD, the Congress, the RLSP, the HAM and some smaller parties, he said, “Even the term mahagathbandhan that they keep flaunting was given by me. After the exit of JD(U), it is just a gathbandhan (alliance)”.
KCR’s son meets Jaganmohan Reddy, discusses ‘proposed’ federal front
Hyderabad: Continuing his efforts to forge a non-BJP, non-Congress front ahead of the coming Lok Sabha polls, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao decided to hold talks with YSR Congress to try and rope it into the proposed coalition.
K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son KT Rana Rao met Jaganmohan Reddy in Hyderabad to invite his YSR Congress party to join federal front.
Reddy is the Leader of Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh assembly.
These talks are the first direct conversation between the leaders of two parties since KCR floated the idea of a front as an alternation to the BJP and the Congress.
TRS’s chief KCR has already held talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Janata Dal (United) leader HD Deve Gowda, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and DMK leader MK Stalin.
KCR winning for a second straight term after his party’s election victory in last month’s state polls, Rao amped up his efforts towards federal front for 2019 polls due in May.
The TRS is likely to discuss with Reddy the possibility of working together in Andhra to defeat a common enemy – Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his party Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Massive protests at Sabarimala after 2 women try to enter shrine
Thiruvananthapuram: Massive protests broke out near the Sabarimala temple in Kerala on Wednesday morning after two women in their 30s tried to trek up to the shrine.
The women were identified as Reshma and Sanila, residents of Kannur, covered almost half of the 5.5 km trek to the shrine but were intercepted by angry devotees. They used started trekking at 5 am to dodge the protesters.
As the situation turned tense, police plead helplessness saying it is beyond their control. Later, women were taken to Pambha, the base camp after they were blocked for two hours.
The two women are part of a nine-member group who were on their way to the temple.
Kanaka Durga, along with 40-year-old Bindu Ammini, are the first women below 50 in decades to enter the hilltop shrine. Durga was attacked by her relatives on her return home on Monday.
The Supreme Court in September last year allowed women of all ages to worship at the Sabarimala shrine, overturning a centuries-old ban on women of childbearing age from entering the temple.