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Gaining political ground till few months ago, Congress once again loses the plot in Gujarat

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Gaining political ground till few months ago, Congress once again loses the plot in Gujarat

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With imminent defeat of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel in the Aug 8 RS polls, grand old party stares at another humiliation

By Puneet Nicholas Yadav

The signs are clear. There’s another humiliation coming the Congress’ way – and this time, for reasons that are more inter-personal than purely political, it could hit much closer home than the slew of poll debacles that the grand old party has faced over the past three years or the more recent collapse of its Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar where it was a minor partner.

Gujarat, where the Congress had till a few months ago, hoped to finally make incremental electoral gains in the Assembly polls due in December this year, is once again slipping away. And the indications of the Congress party’s perilous ride ahead have come in earlier than expected:  11 of its legislators cross-voted in the Presidential polls for BJP nominee Ram Nath Kovind;  senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela predictably quit the party, and now the Congress is staring at an imminent defeat for its candidate – Ahmed Patel – in the Rajya Sabha polls due on August 8.

Six of the party’s 57 MLAs have resigned over the past three days, three of them have joined the BJP and speculation is rife that at least a dozen more may quit in the days to come. As a last ditch effort to keep its flock together, the Congress has flown 44 of its MLAs to the Egleton Resort near Ramanagara in Bengaluru, hoping that they would stay with the party at least till they cast their votes for Ahmed Patel in the RS polls. But then, the lure of five star hospitality isn’t really a guarantee for support in politics and it is uncertain whether these legislators will indeed do what their party wants them to.

But the Rajya Sabha election of Ahmed Patel – and his possible defeat in it – will assume greater significance for the Congress party for it won’t be just another defeat of just another candidate – those the Congress has had aplenty in recent years and even collectively they haven’t really been able to jolt the Grand Old Party out of its slumber.

For starters, Patel – a four-term Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat since 1993 – is the political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi 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.

Gaining political ground till few months ago, Congress once again loses the plot in Gujarat

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.

“Let’s face it.The Congress party’s position in Gujarat is not going to improve if Madam (read Sonia) continues to rely solely on Ahmed Patel to run the party’s affairs in Gujarat. Rahul doesn’t seem interested in the party anyway. Ahmed bhai knows that given the access he has to the party president, no leader will confront him directly but if he loses the election then the party might start listening to others too,” said a senior Gujarat Congress leader, requesting anonymity.

Raghavjee Patel, Congress MLA from Jamnagar (rural) who is considered close to Vaghela, was more forthcoming with his displeasure with the party’s internal affairs. “No senior leader wants to listen to us. I had seen this situation coming several months ago and had even told Ahmed Patel that he’ll lose the RS poll if corrective steps aren’t taken within the state Congress but he chose to not do anything. We can’t meet Sonia Gandhi directly because Ahmed bhai keeps a close watch on her appointments,” Raghavjee said.

In a clear sign of his frustration with the party leadership, Raghavjee admitted that he too was going to resign from the Congress in days to come. “What other option do I have when no one is willing to hear me in my own party”, he said, adding rather candidly: “In politics, no one wants to continue with the losing side. Ours is a bipolar state and the BJP is the only other player. It would be my natural choice once I quit the party,” he said.

Senior leaders feel that Patel’s defeat could finally force the Congress high command to wonder how it allowed things to reach such a pass in Gujarat.

Gaining political ground till few months ago, Congress once again loses the plot in Gujarat

Although out of power in the state for almost 30 years – and nearly marginalized in the post-2002 riots era by then chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi – the Congress had been hopeful of substantial gains in Gujarat till just a few months ago. The Patel agitation led by Hardik Patel, the Dalit agitation after the barbaric flogging of Dalits in Una, the shaky innings of Anandiben Patel as chief minister post Modi and the massive anti-GST protests in Surat and Ahmedabad, had finally given enough ammunition to the Congress to launch a full-frontal attack on the BJP, abetted by a finally visible anti-incumbency.

But then, in its classic Grand Old style, the Congress seems to have squandered away its golden opportunity of reclaiming Gujarat once again. With BJP national president Amit Shah now set to enter Rajya Sabha from the state, the Congress will find itself in an even more troubled spot – in national politics, inside the Parliament and certainly in Gujarat.

Perhaps, like he claimed to have seen the power-swap of Nitish Kumar coming some three months ago, Rahul Gandhi may have a premonition about the Gujarat debacle too. But as is his ‘style’, it seems he’s willing to do little to correct what’s going so terribly wrong for his party.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Voter turnout of 56.68% recorded till 5pm in 5th phase of Lok Sabha elections

Elections are being held in 49 constituencies across eight states and Union Territories in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024.

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A voter turnout of 56.68 % was recorded in phase 5 till 5 pm as per the Election Commission’s Voter Turnout App, with the highest voting percentage in West Bengal (73 %) and the lowest in Maharashtra (48.66 %). Lok Sabha elections are taking place in 49 constituencies across 8 states and Union Territories in the 5th phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024.

Voter turnout of 56.68% was recorded till 5pm. The breakup is as follows: J&K: 54.21%, Bihar: 52.35%, Ladakh: 67.15%, Jharkhand: 61.90%, Maharashtra: 48.66%, UP: 55.80%, Odisha: 60.55% and West Bengal: 73%. The fate of 4 Union ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani, as well as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will be decided in the ongoing Lok Sabha election. Former UP CM Mayawati, BJP’s Rae Bareli candidate Dinesh Pratep Singh, Smriti Irani were among the early voters today who cast their vote in the morning.

 The Lucknow East Lok Sabha seat will also hold a bypoll on the same day. The Lok Sabha seats which are participating in this phase include Rae Bareli, Mohanlalganj, Jalaun (SC), Amethi, Hamirpur, Jhansi, Banda, Kaushambi (SC), Fatehpur, Faizabad, Barabanki (SC), Gonda  and Kaisarganj. The candidates also include and minister of state of consumer affairs Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (Fatehpur) and minister of state for housing and urban affairs Kaushal Kishor (Mohanlalganj). Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat which was previously held by his mother and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

 The total number of voters expected to cast their vote in this phase is over 2.68 crore voters, with 144 candidates looking for their support. 11 BJP incumbent Lok Sabha MPs are contesting in this phase, while nominating new candidates in Kaisarganj and Barabanki (SC) Lok Sabha seats.

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India News

AAP leader Sanjay Singh accuses BJP of planning an attack on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

The AAP leader accused PM Modi and the BJP of being immersed in hatred so much that they are conspiring to kill the Delhi Chief Minister. He added that the Prime Minister Office, BJP and PM Modi will be responsible if anything happens to Kejriwal.

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Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh on Monday accused BJP of planning an attack on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Singh was addressing a press conference in New Delhi where he said the BJP has been in a state of panic ever since Arvind Kejriwal came out of jail.

He said BJP is now plotting to launch a deadly attack on Arvind Kejriwal. This conspiracy is being conducted directly from the Prime Minister’s Office. A threat of attack on Kejriwal ji has been written at Rajiv Chowk and Patel Nagar Metro stations.

The AAP leader accused PM Modi and the BJP of being immersed in hatred so much that they are conspiring to kill the Delhi Chief Minister. He added that the Prime Minister Office, BJP and PM Modi will be responsible if anything happens to Kejriwal. He pointed out that Kejriwal had not been given insulin for 23 days when he was in judicial custody in Tihar jail.

Singh said a 3 time elected chief minister is being openly threatened with attacks and murder, and nobody is saying anything. He said AAP leaders are writing letters to the Election Commission and if Kejiriwal gets a scratch, the PMO, BJP and PM Modi will be held responsible.

The Supreme Court has given interim bail to the Aam Aadmi Party supremo till June 1 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in New Delhi. But according to the terms of his bail, the Delhi chief minister cannot make any comments about his role in the Delhi liquor scam case.

 Kejriwal has spent over 50 days in Tihar Jail and the Enforcement Directorate arrested him in an excise policy case on March 21, days after the election schedule for the general elections was announced. The bail is applicable until June 1 and Kejriwal has to surrender to authorities on June 2.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

36.73% voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in 5th phase of the Lok Sabha elections

36.73% voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in 8 states and UTs; Maharashtra continues to put up a poor show

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Voter turnout at 1 pm was recorded at 36.73% for the 5th phase of the Lok Sabha elections. As this unfolds, significant political showdowns are set to take place across eight states and union territories. Bihar: 34.62%, Jharkhand: 41.89%, Jammu and Kashmir: 34.79%, Maharashtra 27.78%, Ladakh: 52.01%, Uttar Pradesh 39.55%, Odisha 35.31%, West Bengal: 48.41%

Voters in 49 Lok Sabha seats will decide the fate of 695 candidates, with many high-stakes contests featuring political dynasties and senior leaders striving to retain their influence. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Raebareli, a seat held by his mother, Sonia Gandhi, since 2004. He is also contesting the election from Wayanad in Kerala. After losing Amethi to Union Minister Smriti Irani in 2019, the Congress has fielded dedicated worker KL Sharma to challenge Irani this time.

Rohini Acharya, daughter of former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, makes her political debut from Saran Lok Sabha seat. Chirag Paswan of the LJP (Ram Vilas) aims to retain the legacy of his late father, Ram Vilas Paswan from Hajipur Lok Sabha seat.

13 out of 48 parliamentary seats in Maharashtra are undergoing elections including high-profile candidates: Dindori: Union Minister Bharati Pravin Pawar (BJP) vs. Bhaskar Bhagare (NCP). Dhule: BJP’s Subhash Ramrao Bhamre vs. Congress’s Shobha Dinesh Bachhav.

Palghar: Hemant Vishnu Savara (BJP) vs. Bharti Kamadi (Shiv Sena UBT). Nashik: Rajabhau Waje (Shiv Sena UBT) vs. Godse Hemant Tukaram (Shiv Sena). This election phase will also serve as a crucial battleground for the factions of Shiv Sena to measure their support among voters.

In Ladakh, an independent candidate is posing a significant challenge to both BJP and Congress contenders. Simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls are taking place in Odisha with the fifth phase, covering 5 Lok Sabha seats and 35 assembly constituencies. Voters in 3 parliamentary Lok Sabha seats — Chatra, Koderma, and Hazaribagh—will cast their votes in this phase.

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