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Sheila Dikshit replaces Ajay Maken, back as Delhi Cong chief

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New Delhi: Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit was appointed as the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president , days after Ajay Maken resigned from the post citing ill-health.

Dikshit’s appointment as the Delhi Congress president is being interpreted in the party as the party’s ploy to project her developmental works during her 15-year-old tenure as the city’s chief minister against the works done by BJP and AAP in their four and five year tenures respectively.

Making the announcement, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of the party’s Delhi unit, PC Chacko, said that Ms Dikshit would be assisted by three working presidents — Devender Yadav, Haroon Yusuf, and Rajesh Lilothia.

 

This is also the first occasion when the party has appointed three working presidents to assist Ms Dikshit. It is to send a clear message to AAP and BJP that Congress is a strong contender in all the seven Lok Sabha seats in 2019 and that no one should take it lightly in the wake of the humiliating defeat it faced in the last Assembly polls.

Chacko, however, made it clear that there were no talks within the Delhi unit about any alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and that the party was fully prepared to contest the parliamentary election on its own.

Maken, who had worked as the parliamentary secretary and as a Cabinet minister with Ms Dikshit, congratulated her saying that under her leadership Congress would play the role of a powerful opposition against the governments in the national capital led by Arvind Kejriwal and at the Centre led by Narendra Modi.

Delhi Congress spokesperson Puja Bahari also congratulated Ms Dikshit, saying the party will be further strengthened under her experienced leadership and guidance.

Dikshit (80) has been a three-time chief minister of Delhi. She had to face a humiliating defeat against chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in the New Delhi Assembly seat, following which she said she would not contest any other election.

Dikshit’s appointment as the party’s Delhi unit chief is also being interpreted in the party as an effort to bring all warring factors under one roof to take on both AAP and BJP in the national capital.

After Congress faced humiliating defeat in the last Assembly polls, former city minister Arvinder Singh Lovely had to step down from the post of the party’s city head. Subsequently, the Congress leadership gave the charge to Mr Maken, who had been in-charge of the party’s communication unit. He had also represented the party twice in the Lok Sabha.

With the Congress leadership giving green signal to its media in-charge to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections, there are indications that Mr Maken may again be entrusted with the job of handling media at the central level.


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National

‘Mahagathbandhan’ club of ‘nawabs of negativity’: Jaitley

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Mumbai: The opposition “mahagathbandhan” (grand alliance) is a club of “nawabs of negativity” and the only glue of this diverse grouping is its opposition to one man (Narendra Modi), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

People of an aspirational society which is politically conscious will not buy into this “suicidal” alternative, the senior BJP leader said.

“The nawabs of negativity may come together but that is not something that will carry credibility as far as people are concerned,” Jaitley said, speaking via video link at the CNBC-TV18 India Business Leadership Awards event. During the video call, Jaitley also spoke about the Union Budget.

 

This was the first time Jaitley, now in the US for medical treatment, addressed a gathering since leaving the country on Tuesday.

The setback the ruling BJP suffered in Assembly elections in three heartland states recently (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan) has enthused some opposition leaders about the likely electoral success of such an alternative.

The “mahagathbandhan” has neither the ideological cohesiveness nor a common programme aimed at building the country or an individual leader, Jaitley said.

As against the BJP’s strengths of leadership, decisiveness, performance and potential, the point being put forward by the opposition is of arithmetic, Jaitley highlighted.

In politics, it is not the arithmetic but chemistry which succeeds, he added.

“The premise is that we have politics which is negative in character and the negative politics is we want one man (Narendra Modi) out. On that negativity of wanting one man out, they (Opposition) have come together,” Jaitley said.

Arun Jaitley also said there is a need to elevate the political debate in the run up to the elections and stressed that we cannot afford a “sloganised political debate” where emotional cries take over sound policy.

Without mentioning the promise of farm loan waivers, which the opposition Congress is pitching for, the minister said “sloganised policies” never help the larger interest of the economy and it is the country’s aspirations which will receive a setback in the process.

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Govt compromising national security, why 36 Rafale jets instead of 126: Chidambaram

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New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday accused the government of compromising national security and asked why it bought only 36 Rafale fighter jets instead of 126 required by the Air Force.

His comments come in the wake of fresh revelations on the Rafale deal in a media report which claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to but 36 aircraft instead of the 126 asked for by the Air Force pushed the price of each jet up by 41.42 per cent.

“In the light of new facts and revelations in THE HINDU, the question gains greater urgency: why did the government buy only 36 Rafale aircraft instead of 126 aircraft required by the Air Force?,” Chidambaram asked in a tweet.

 

“The Government has compromised national security by denying to the Air Force the 7 squadrons (126 aircraft) that it desperately needs,” he said.

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia also took to Twitter to demand answers from Modi on the increased cost of aircraft. “The PM’s unilateral decision to buy 36 Rafales resulted in a price escalation of 41.42 per cent per jet. When will the prime minister answer? he asked.

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No war, but soldiers are dying on borders: Bhagwat

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Nagpur: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said requisite steps need to combat killings on the border, as soldiers are being martyred sans a war-like situation in the country.

“In our country, there is no war at the moment, still people (soldiers) are getting martyred…Because we are not doing our jobs properly. We need to make efforts in this regard. If we want our country to reach the top, then we all should learn to sacrifice,” he said at a gathering here on Thursday.

Furthermore, Bhagwat said the responsibility of safeguarding the country should not be solely shouldered by the Forces.

 

“Everybody has to make efforts in this regard. This is not something for which we can give a contract to somebody. We keep thinking that the government will do it or the army will do it, the police will do it, but it’s not like that, the entire society has to make efforts,” he opined.

Citing the example of Israel, Bhagwat noted: “If one looks closely, after 70 long years, those countries in comparison with India have done better in terms of growth and development. Israel is a classic example. The natives were weed out before the 19 c. But citizens there gradually came back to their country and started their businesses, trade etc. Finally, in 1948 they got independence.”

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