Four more Congress state units join chorus, bat for Rahul as party chief

The Indian Express | 6 days ago | 21-09-2022 | 12:45 am

Four more Congress state units join chorus, bat for Rahul as party chief

Amid strong indications that Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor is considering contesting elections for the Congress president’s post, three more state units — Haryana, Jharkhand and Goa — on Tuesday passed resolutions backing Rahul Gandhi for the post.Party leaders in Kerala indicated that the state unit is in favour of Rahul taking up the post he had relinquished in 2019, after Congress’s drubbing in the General Election.Former Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, told the media in Alappuzha that the general feeling in the party in Kerala is that Rahul Gandhi should take the party’s reins. “The state unit has not suggested any candidate. The massive turnout of people and party workers during the Bharat Jodho Yatra demonstrates the support for Rahul. It is up to Tharoor to speak out whether he is contesting to become the party’s national president,’’ he said.Lok Sabha MP from Vadakara in Kerala and former Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, K Muraleedharan, also spoke on similar lines. “Whoever contests to the post of the party president, only a person with the support of the Nehru (Gandhi) family will become the president. Our vote is for Rahul. See the crowd at the Yatra — If someone else was doing this, there would not have been such an impressive crowd,’’ said Muraleedharan, son of former CM, late K Karunakaran.Leaders from the G-23 grouping have not found much support in the party’s Kerala unit. While former Rajya Sabha member P J Kurien has not been active in the party, another veteran Congressman, K V Thomas, who had raised a rebellion against Rahul, has been completely sidelined.In Chandigarh, the Haryana unit (HPCC) passed two resolutions: one requesting Rahul to take over as party chief while considering “sentiments of all”, and a second empowering the Congress president to appoint PCC office-bearers.Announcing the resolution, HPCC president Udai Bhan told the media, “The resolution to make Rahul Gandhi the party’s national president was unanimously passed. In the meeting, all of us agreed that we urge Rahul Gandhi to file nomination for the post of president.”The PCCs in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Maharashtra and J&K have already passed similar resolutions.In Ranchi, the party’s Jharkhand in-charge, Avinash Pandey said, “All our leaders in unanimity decided and passed a resolution that Rahul Gandhi should be AICC chief.” Stating that party leaders and workers in Jharkhand want Rahul as AICC president, PCC chief Rajesh Thakur said, “He should decide on PCC chiefs, too.”Rahul is currently touring Kerala as part of the party’s Bharat Jodho Yatra. Rahul is unlikely to face any opposition in Kerala given the support he enjoys among party leaders in the state. Last week, KPCC met to select its new president and a resolution was moved in favour of the incumbent, K Sudhakaran, assigning the final decision to Sonia Gandhi.In Goa, where the Congress recently saw eight of its 11 party MLAs join BJP, a similar resolution was passed in a meeting of the newly elected PCC in Panaji. In a statement, GPCC said that all elected and co-opted PCC members resolved that Rahul Gandhi should be “unanimously elected as president of AICC. He has a preeminent place in the Congress. He has been relentlessly and fearlessly fighting against the wrong policies and communal agenda [of the government]…”In Chandigarh, former Haryana CM and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, said: “The party will welcome its leader, Rahul Gandhi, and all those participating in the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra when it reaches Haryana. There will be an unprecedented presence of Congress workers to welcome the Yatra.”On the occasion, the party’s state unit also finalised the list of 195 delegates to bolster its rank and file at the ground level.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxThe resolution was passed at a meeting of new representatives and MLAs of HPCC under chairmanship of former MP Tarachand Bhagora, the Pradesh Returning Officer (PRO), Hooda, state unit chief Udai Bhan, HPCC working presidents, MLAs and senior leaders.The proposal presented unanimously authorises the Congress president to nominate the HPCC president, vice-president, treasurer, executive member, state election committee and AICC members from the state. Senior leaders approved it and all delegates unanimously passed the resolution by raising their hands, it was informed.With inputs from ENS in Ranchi and Panaji

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The Kurmis: a political history
The Indian Express | 11 hours ago | 27-09-2022 | 05:45 am
The Indian Express
11 hours ago | 27-09-2022 | 05:45 am

The increase in the visibility and profile of Nitish Kumar in national politics ever since he dumped the BJP and joined hands with Lalu Prasad has spotlighted the OBC Kurmi community to which the Bihar Chief Minister belongs. Kurmis are a smaller community than Yadavs, and they have not always had a cordial relationship. But the political aspiration of Kurmis has spiked in recent weeks — Yadavs for the first time appear willing to accept them as “elder brothers” — and if the bonhomie between Nitish and Lalu continues, the BJP might need some new social engineering manoeuvres in Bihar and UP soon.The communityKurmis are a landowning farming community whose status varies from place to place. The People of India series edited by K S Singh refers to Kurmis as “progressive farmers” who “avail of maximum benefits of all the development schemes available in the area and region”.Unlike Yadavs, Kurmis use a wide variety of surnames like Patel, Verma, Sachan, Gangwar, Katiyar, Baiswar, Jaiswar, Mahto, Prasad, Sinha, Singh, Pradhan, Baghel, Chaudhary, Patidar, Kunbi, Kumar, Patil, Mohanti, Kanaujiya, Chakradhar, Niranjan, Patanwar, and Shinde, etc.Some Kurmi surnames are used by other communities as well, making it difficult to identify a Kurmi by name alone. Sometimes they use no surname at all.Kurmis are distributed across several states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Goa, and Karnataka. Besides Nitish in Bihar, the Congress chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Baghel, is also Kurmi.Their caste statusIn most states, Kurmis belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in both the central and state lists for reservations.In Gujarat, Patels, who are linked to Kurmis, are in the general category, and have been demanding OBC status. In West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand — where Kurmi is written as ‘Kudmi’ — Kurmis want to be included among Scheduled Tribes.Representation in govtNo data are available on the representation of various sub-castes in government jobs. But in 2018, the Justice G Rohini Commission set up to sub-categorise OBCs analysed data on 1.3 lakh central jobs given under the OBC quota over the five preceding years, and OBC admissions to central higher education institutions including universities, IITs, NITs, IIMs and AIIMS over three years, and reportedly found that the main beneficiaries were Yadavs, Kurmis, Jats (Jats in Rajasthan, except those in Bharatpur and Dholpur districts, are in the central list of OBCs), Sainis, Thevars, Ezhavas and Vokkaligas.The Indian Express has reported earlier that the analysis found that while Yadavs have significant representation in the security forces and police etc, Kurmis, particularly from UP and Bihar, have got better representation in the civil services, and in medical colleges and universities.Kurmis in BiharIn Bihar, UP, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh, Kurmis constitute a significant political force. In pre-independence Bihar, a political front called Triveni Sangh formed by a Yadav (Jagdev Prasad Yadav), a Kurmi (Shiv Pujan Singh), and a Kushwaha (Yadunandan Prasad Mehta) leader took part in the 1937 elections.Shiv Pujan Singh had a wide following among his castepersons. Prominent Kurmi leaders from Bihar (including Jharkhand) in later years include former MP and Governor Siddheshwar Prasad; former MP and a founder leader of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Binod Behari Mahto who sought to link Shivaji with the Kurmis of North India through an organisation called Shivaji Samaj; and Satish Prasad Singh, who became the first Kurmi chief minister of Bihar in 1968, albeit for just four days.The Yadav leadership of Bihar’s OBCs was established by Chief Ministers B P Mandal and Daroga Prasad Rai before Lalu’s decade-long dominance, which was ultimately ended by Nitish Kumar. After the rise of Lalu and Mulayam Singh Yadav in Bihar and UP respectively, the Kurmis in these states aligned with upper castes to give themselves a political leg-up. Nitish in particular utilised the dislike for Yadavs in North India to tie up or break with the BJP as and when he wished.Kurmis in UPThe BJP’s predecessor, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), promoted OBC leaders before their leadership passed to Chaudhary Charan Singh who broke with the Congress to form the Jan Congress (which later became the Bharatiya Kranti Dal, Bhartiya Lok Dal, etc). The finance minister in Charan Singh’s first government in UP (April 1967) was an Ambedkarite Kurmi from Kanpur called Ram Swarup Verma. Another prominent Kurmi leader of the decades of the 60s and 70s in UP was Jairam Verma.No Kurmi has become chief minister of UP so far. Beni Prasad Verma was considered number 2 to Mulayam in the Samajwadi Party for several years. He joined the Congress for a few years and became a Union Minister in the UPA-II government. Subsequently, Sonelal Patel, a Kurmi leader, left the BSP and formed the Apna Dal, the two factions of which are now led by his two daughters, Union Minister Anupriya Patel and SP MLA Pallavi Patel. Pallavi and her mother Krishna Patel are trying to strengthen ties with Nitish Kumar in UP.The number of Kurmis in the UP Assembly is currently 41, a record high, up from 34 in 2017. Kurmi leaders contesting on SP tickets defeated three ministers of the Yogi Adityanath government. From the BJP, 22 Kurmis won the elections. This is the second straight Assembly in UP in which Kurmis outnumber Yadavs, even though the number of Yadav MLAs increased from 17 in 2017 to 25 in 2022. The UP presidents of both the SP and BJP, Naresh Uttam Patel and Swatantra Dev Singh respectively during the Assembly elections, were Kurmis.There is no current data, but a Social Justice Committee set up by then Chief Minister Rajnath Singh in June 2001 estimated that OBCs constituted 43.13 per cent of UP’s population, of which Yadavs were 19.4 per cent and Kurmis 7.46 per cent.Nitish has long been seen as having national political ambitions, and Lalu’s family, struggling with allegations of corruption, appears to have happily accepted the leadership of Lalu’s “chhota bhai”, at least for now. What impact this has on electoral outcomes in UP, however, remains to be seen.

The Kurmis: a political history
Distributed for party work, Panvel Congress’s SUV all set to hit the road after 8 years
The Indian Express | 18 hours ago | 26-09-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
18 hours ago | 26-09-2022 | 10:45 pm

It took eight years for the Maharashtra Congress to put the car it had handed over to its Panvel unit for party work back on the road. While the party has managed to bring back the car, its new owner – another Congress office bearer – is now spending his own money to get the vehicle refurbished.During the last days of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government, the then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, in August 2014, had distributed 22 Scorpio cars to district presidents of the party. The aim was to use the cars to expand the party base in the district presidents’ respective areas.“While taking the review, we could not locate the car given to Panvel city unit. Upon inquiry, it was found that the car was not in the use of party related works. We received reports that it was on a private stone quarry. We decided to call it back,” said a senior official from the Maharashtra unit of the Congress.Former Panvel Congress president R C Gharat, who had received the car, told The Indian Express that he had his own fleet of cars and did not need the one given by the party for travel purposes. “I use my own cars for my work and party related work. I have my business and don’t require cars from my party for business purpose,” said Gharat. Gharat said that he had called the party state headquarter asking the office bearers to take back the car.After the state unit office received the car, it was handed over to Abhijit Patil, the new president of the Panvel Congress, last week.“Except for the engine, the car was damaged so much that I will now have to spend around Rs 1.75 lakh to make it run smoothly,” Patil said.“It is an old car, but it has been given to me by my party. I own different cars but I will ensure that it will be used for its intended purpose as much as possible,” Patil added.

Distributed for party work, Panvel Congress’s SUV all set to hit the road after 8 years
Maharashtra minister’s comment on Maratha reservation triggers controversy
The Indian Express | 18 hours ago | 26-09-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
18 hours ago | 26-09-2022 | 10:45 pm

Maharashtra Public Health Minister Tanaji Sawant’s comment on the Maratha reservation triggered a controversy Monday.“There was nothing on the Maratha reservation for two years after it was stayed by the Supreme Court. Now, after the change of power in the state, they are itching for reservation. I want it and my next generation wants it,’’ Sawant said in his address to Eknath Shinde camp supporters in Osmanabad (Dharashiv) district.But faced with attacks from pro-Maratha reservation organisations as well as Opposition parties like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress, and the Shiv Sena, Sawant later apologised for his remarks.In his apology, Sawant said, “If my statement has offended the Maratha community then I am apologising to the Maratha community. My role is to ensure that the Maratha community gets the reservation.” The minister added that he would ensure a quota for the Maratha community before leaving the ministerial post.State Congress chief Nana Patole demanded that Sawant be immediately sacked from the cabinet for making ‘an irresponsible and objectionable’ statement. Patole also sought the views of Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis on Sawant’s remarks.Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator Vinod Patil said Sawant should be reprimanded by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.NCP spokesperson Suraj Chavan said Sawant was ‘high’ on power. “How can he say Marathas are itching for reservation? Is it wrong to demand a reservation? The minister is high on power, money, and post…” said Chavan.Shiv Sena leader Kishori Pednekar said Sawant insulted the Maratha community, which has been aggressively pursuing the restoration of quota.

Maharashtra minister’s comment on Maratha reservation triggers controversy
Maharashtra Governor to decide on disqualification of Eknath Shinde camp’s MLA
The Indian Express | 18 hours ago | 26-09-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
18 hours ago | 26-09-2022 | 10:45 pm

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari will soon decide on a petition filed against MLA Latabai Sonawane, who is in Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s camp and faces the threat of being disqualified for submitting a false tribal claim certificate.Sonawane, who represents Chopda (ST) Assembly constituency in Jalgaon district, claims to belong to Tokre Koli Scheduled Tribe, but this claim was invalidated by the Scheduled Tribe Certificate Scrutiny Committee, Nandurbar on February, 9, 2022.She challenged the committee’s decision in the Bombay High Court, but the Aurangabad bench dismissed her writ petition on June 10, 2022. Sonawane’s Special Leave to Appeal before the Supreme Court was also dismissed on September 9, 2022.On Monday, Sushilkumar Pawra, president of Birasa Fighters (a tribal organisation), a petitioner against Sonawane, filed a petition under Article 192 of the Constitution before Koshyari.Bhushan Mahajan, Pawra’s advocate, said they have approached the Governor on the ground that “Sonawane has played fraud upon the Constitution by furnishing false Scheduled Tribe Certificate” in order to contest election from a constituency reserved for members of Scheduled Tribe. “Moreover, Sonawane’s disqualification under Article 191(1) is a pre-election disqualification, therefore, the election of Sonawane based on the false Scheduled Tribe Certificate is void-ab-initio (having no legal effect since inception) and is liable to be disqualified under Article 192,” he said.According to Article 192, the question of disqualification shall be referred to the Governor and his decision shall be final. It also says the Governor shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and act accordingly. When contacted, Koshyari’s office confirmed it has received the petition.“We expect the Governor’s office to take the decision at the earliest. All courts, including the Supreme Court, have accepted that the MLA submitted a false caste certificate. We demand that the MLA be disqualified,” said Pawra.When contacted, Sonawane said her husband Chandrakant would comment on the legal issues concerning her caste certificate.“We are going to file a review petition in the Supreme Court in the coming three to four days,” said Chandrakant Sonawane. When asked if that was the reason the MLA switched sides from Thackeray’s Sena to the Shinde camp, he said the issue is not new.

Maharashtra Governor to decide on disqualification of Eknath Shinde camp’s MLA
MP: Congress hopeful Kamal Nath will defuse Rajasthan crisis
The Economic Times | 21 hours ago | 26-09-2022 | 07:22 pm
The Economic Times
21 hours ago | 26-09-2022 | 07:22 pm

Loyalists of Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh on Monday said the Congress veteran can broker peace between factions led by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. A state Congress leader said he was hopeful that Nath, who heads Congress in Madhya Pradesh, will defuse the crisis in the Congress-ruled state. "Kamal Nath flew to Delhi around 11.30 AM after getting an urgent call from the party's high command in the wake of political development in Rajasthan. He has already reached Delhi," a leader close to the MP Congress president told PTI in the evening. This is not the first time that Congress has roped in Nath, a former Union minister who had been a Lok Sabha MP for nine terms, to troubleshoot. Nath was sent to Maharashtra to save the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress following a rebellion within the Sena.However, the then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray resigned in June owing to a lack of numbers, paving the way for rebel Eknath Shinde to take oath as the CM with the support of the BJP. "Nath is a tall leader. He had served as Union minister multiple times. He commands respect in Congress," the party leader said. When asked about the Rajasthan crisis, he said, "of course, Nath can broker peace between the camps of Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot". Nath has close ties with Gehlot, he said. A majority of Congress MLAs in Rajasthan have rebelled against Sachin Pilot and want Ashok Gehlot, who is set to contest the upcoming elections for the post of Congress president, to continue as the chief minister. A day earlier, 82 MLAs loyal to Gehlot resigned to preempt the possible appointment of Pilot as the next chief minister.

MP: Congress hopeful Kamal Nath will defuse Rajasthan crisis