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Ahead of RS poll-day, jittery Congress fights to keep its stock together in Gujarat

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Ahead of RS poll-day, jittery Congress fights to keep its stock together in Gujarat

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Hit by defections, the Congress brought back its 44 MLAs from Bengaluru on Monday, only to lock them up again at a resort in Anand. The party claims that it has assured support of 45 MLAs required to ensure the politically crucial victory of its candidate, Ahmed Patel, in Tuesday’s RS poll

With less than 24 hours to go before the Gujarat assembly casts its votes to send three nominees to the Rajya Sabha, the Congress party is doing all it can to ensure that its nominee, Ahmed Patel – the influential political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi – doesn’t fail to get elected for a record fifth term.

Hit by defections and desertions by its MLAs – six of its 57 legislators have resigned of which three joined the BJP – less than a fortnight ago, the Congress party had packed off 44 of its MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru on July 29 in an apparent bid to check “poaching” attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The MLAs were brought back to Ahmedabad in the wee hours of Monday but only to be whisked away to another resort in nearby Anand, where they are expected to be kept till hours before voting begins for the Rajya Sabha polls, on Tuesday morning.

“All our MLAs have returned and they have been taken to a resort in Anand,” the Congress party’s chief whip in Gujarat assembly, Sailesh Parmar, confirmed. Parmar added that the party MLAs had “decided not to go to their home even on this day of ‘Rakshabandhan’ and be loyal soldiers of the Congress party… they will go to vote for our party candidate Ahmed Patel in the RS polls tomorrow”.

Ahead of RS poll-day, jittery Congress fights to keep its stock together in Gujarat

The Congress needs the support of at least 45 MLAs to ensure that Patel – a four term RS member – is re-elected. However, the very fact that of its 51 MLAs that remain since the resignations of senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela and five others, the party has managed to keep just 44 camped together betrays the confidence that the Congress leadership has been desperately trying to project over Patel’s re-election.

Besides the BJP’s aggressive overtures to ensure Patel’s defeat – which would come as a personal embarrassment for Sonia Gandhi – by forcing further resignations from the Congress’ flock, the Grand Old Party had got another major setback last week when the Supreme Court dismissed its request to stay an order by the Election Commission which allows MLAs to not vote against any candidate and opt for the ‘None Of The Above (NOTA)’option instead.

A senior Congress leader said on condition of anonymity: “this election undoubtedly will be the biggest challenge not just for Ahmed Patel but for the Congress high command too…Even assuming that the 44 MLAs who are locked up in the resort (in Anand) will all vote for Patel, we still need one more vote to ensure his victory. But as of now there’s no guarantee that even the 44 will certainly vote for Patel and the 7 remaining legislators too can’t be entirely trusted to do so despite the party issuing a whip ordering every remaining MLA to vote of its candidate”.

Officially of course, the Congress claims to have the numbers to ensure Patel’s victory. “All our MLAs will vote for Ahmed Patel…we have no doubt that we have the numbers and the BJP doesn’t to wrest this one seat from us,” said senior party MLA Shaktisinh Gohil.

However, there are rumours that the BJP and Vaghela – who is said to have influenced at least 10 Congress MLAs to cross-vote in favour of Ram Nath Kovind instead of the party candidate Meira Kumar, in the recent Presidential polls – are working overtime to convince some Congress legislators to either cross-vote (which would, under the RS polls rules, lead to their disqualification from the house for a six year term) or vote NOTA.

The stay of the Gujarat MLAs in the Eagleton Golf Resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru was itself marked by high drama. Senior Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar, who was overseeing the MLAs’ stay, faced searches by the income tax department last week in what the Congress called an act of “political vendetta and intimidation”. Now, hours ahead of the D-Day, the Congress is hoping that the BJP’s “dirty tricks department” doesn’t pull any other surprise on its leaders.

Gujarat has three seats in Rajya Sabha. While BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani would easily win two seats, it is in the third seat that the BJP has pitted Congress defector Balwantsinh Rajput – a close relative of Vaghela and Congress MLA till 10 days ago – against Patel.

Besides it hope of attaining a majority in Rajya Sabha at the earliest, what seems to be fuelling the BJP’s specific attempt at ensuring Patel’s defeat is the significant message that it is likely to send both within the Congress hierarchy and across Gujarat before the state goes for Assembly polls towards the end of the year.

Ahead of RS poll-day, jittery Congress fights to keep its stock together in Gujarat

Patel – a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat since 1993 and three term Lok Sabha MP from the state’s Bharuch seat before that – is the political secretary to the Congress president and though he maintains a low-profile and rarely ever interacts with the media, it is widely known that Sonia rarely ever takes any important political decision without discussing it first with Patel. As such, Patel enjoys a clout within the Congress leadership that is matched by no other party leader – with the exception of Sonia and her son, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

The immediate reason for Patel’s possible defeat in the RS polls is being attributed to defections being orchestrated by Vaghela – who had left the BJP to join the Congress nearly two decades ago but quit the Congress last week, ostensibly upset over the party’s reluctance to name him as its chief ministerial candidate ahead of the December 2017 assembly polls in Gujarat.

However, Congress leaders from the state as well as some of Patel’s detractors in the AICC, say that Vaghela is only the face of the party’s latest trouble. There is a much bigger message that the party wants to send to Sonia by ensuring Patel’s defeat – that she, and Patel by proxy, can’t continue to run Congress’ affairs in Gujarat in the same manner as they do now and that the grassroots workers and state leadership can no longer be run roughshod over.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Fee hike protest at Allahabad University: Students attempt Bhu Samadhi as police officials jostle to break the protest | WATCH

The students of Allahabad University have been protesting against the 400% hike in their fees for the past three weeks.

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AU Protest

Amid the ongoing protests against 400% fee hike in Allahabad University, a group of students on Tuesday attempted to take Bhu Samadhi as policemen jostle to break the protest, which is continued in the university for the last two weeks.

A video of student protesters’ tussle with police officials is doing rounds on social media. In the video, the police officials can see attempting to arrest a protester while the student protesters resisting against the police action.

This came a day after a group of students locked the university gate to save student protesters from police crackdown, forcing many students to return without attending classes. Meanwhile, the police broke the lock put up by the students at the university gate.

On the same day, former UP cadre IPS officer Amitabh Thakur also extended his support to the Allahabad University students protesting against the 400% fee hike, calling the move unfair and undemocratic.

The students of Allahabad University have been protesting against the 400% hike in their fees for the past three weeks.

Expressing his disappointment over the police crackdown on protesting students, Thakur on Monday said 400% hike is not only undemocratic but also very sad for the poor and weaker sections of the society. Today, the students are being stopped from participating in protests. This is an anarchic situation, he told reporters.

On Monday, Richa Singh, former president of Allahabad University students union, said the protest against the 400 per cent fee hike will continue until it is rolled back. Today, when the inmates of the girls’ hostel were coming out from the hostel, the main gate (of the hostel) was closed on the orders of the vice chancellor, she said.

Some students of the university had put a lock on the gate of the university, which was opened with the help of the police. Strict action will be initiated against those students, who are creating obstructions like this, the city SP Santosh Kumar Meena said.

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Race for Congress president: Shashi Tharoor, Pawan Bansal collect nomination papers, no sign of Gehlot yet

M Mistry said that Shashi Tharoor would file his nomination on September 30. He was not confirmed about Pawan Bansal’s nomination. He said that it might be for someone else.

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Shashi Tharoor

Senior Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Pawan Bansal have taken nomination papers for the election of the Congress president. Congress’ central election authority chairman Madhusudhan Mistry said that they have briefed Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi about work done so far regarding Congress presidential elections. The elections would happen as per the scheduled date and time. Till now nominations forms have been taken by Shashi Tharoor and Pawan Bansal.

Mistry said Shashi Tharoor would file his nomination on September 30. He was not sure when Pawan Bansal would file his nomination. Mistry said that it might be for someone else.

He said that the process for filing nomination would be held between September 24 and September 30 and the final list would be published at 5 pm on October 8. The polling, if needed, would be held on October 17. The counting of votes would be taken up on October 19 and the result would be declared on the same day.

Meanwhile, some media reports said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was out of the race for Congress president. Former Congress leader Sanjay Jha said on Twitter that everyone was aware that the revolt in the Rajasthan Congress ranks was engineered by Ashok Gehlot. Jha said Gehlot had ended up disqualifying himself for the post of Congress President automatically. The former Congress leader pitched for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to become the Congress President, supported by Sachin Pilot and Shashi Tharoor as Working Presidents.

Not sparing a dig at the Gandhi family, BJP leader Amit Malviya said both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were Prime Minister and Congress President at the same time. Ashok Gehlot just wanted to be Chief Minister along with being the Congress President, if elected. Malviya wondered why the Congress had different standards for its leaders and people from the Gandhi family.

Efforts are still on to get Rahul Gandhi back in the saddle as Congress president. Nearly two weeks ago, the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee passed a resolution to appoint Rahul Gandhi as party president. The resolution was moved by CM Ashok Gehlot.

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Raids on PFI: Section 144 in Jamia Nagar, Delhi police warns Jamia students not to hold any protest outside university campus

The Delhi Police started patrolling in Shaheen Bagh amid PFI raids in entire Okhla region.

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Raids on PFI

Multiple probe agencies including the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Anti-Terror squad are carrying out the second round of raids at several Popular Front of India (PFI) locations across the country.

On the instructions of the National Investigation Agency, multiple probe agencies have conducted raids at PFI offices in eight different states including Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Mumbai, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

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At least 300 PFI members have been taken into custody by security agencies across several states while around 30 people linked with PFI have been detained from Nizamuddin and Shaheen Bagh after an early morning raid by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.

Around a dozen of people with connections with PFI have been detained from Shaheen Bagh and nearby areas, reports said.

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Amid the ongoing crackdown against PFI in Delhi, the police warned the Jamia Millia University students against holding any protests inside and outside the university campus. The Jamia Millia University and Shaheen Bagh were centres of anti-CAA protests in Delhi in December 2019.

In order to keep the law and order situation in check, the Delhi Police imposed Section 144 in Delhi’s Okhla region which includes areas of Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Nagar, where Jamia Miallia Islamia University is situated from September 19 to November 11.

Delhi Police also warned the Jamia Millia Islamia students and teachers not to assemble in and around the campus as police have imposed restrictions under section 144 of the CrPC in the entire Okhla area. However, Section 144 of the CrPC prohibits the assembly of four or more people in an area. Violation of the order is punishable under section 188 of the IPC.

The Delhi Police started patrolling in Shaheen Bagh amid PFI raids.

The raids have been carried out after the Delhi Police Commissioner’s meeting with DCPs of all the districts, Special CP and Joint CP at the Delhi police headquarter.

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