The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | 16-01-2023 | 02:45 pm
The Bharat Jodo Yatra will culminate on January 30 in Srinagar, with a flag-hoisting ceremony on the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. By then, the Yatra, which began on September 7, 2022, would have traversed the length of the subcontinent from Kanyakumari to the Himalayas. The Yatra has undoubtedly enthused the Congress cadre and infused new life in a party that was deemed finished. More importantly, it has replaced the earlier “Pappu” image of Rahul Gandhi with that of a mature individual and credible political leader. His message of removing hate and introducing love between communities in the nation has made a mark, igniting much debate on social media. Even Rahul Gandhi’s detractors agree that the difficult Yatra has earned him the respect and support of people in areas where it has passed. Attempts by BJP leaders to criticise the Yatra and Rahul Gandhi have not achieved much success.The seminal question is whether the Yatra can bring electoral success for the Congress. While senior Congress leaders have said the aim of the Yatra is not to capture power, there is little doubt that unless this happens, the goal of social harmony would be difficult to achieve. This is because the Congress is the largest opposition party in the country with a footprint in many regions — out of 403 Lok Sabha seats it contested in the 2019 general election, it won 52 seats, came second in 196, and obtained 19.5 per cent of the vote. The Congress is the main opposition party in 12 states — Punjab, Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland. It is in direct contest with the BJP in seven states — Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand, which account for 102 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. Regional parties do not have a significant presence or strength at the national level. Without a rejuvenated and transformed Congress, the Opposition cannot hope to dent the BJP’s fortunes in these states in 2024. The AAP won just one seat in the Lok Sabha in 2019 and was ranked third in most constituencies. The TMC won 22 seats in 2019 compared to 34 in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections; the TRS won nine out of 17 seats compared to 11 in 2014. Opposition parties by not supporting/aligning with the Congress, where it is the major opposition force, will divide the anti-BJP vote.However, it is doubtful whether the Congress is capable of being the fulcrum of Opposition unity against the BJP in 2024. A party in decline since the late 1980s, it has three key problems: First, centralisation of power and decision-making at the top; second, organisational weakness; and third, lack of unity. Despite the election of a non-Gandhi as party president, the high command culture and the presence of the Gandhi family still continues — as a result of which decisions are taken at the top and local leaders are ignored. Elections to the Congress Working Committee have not been held for nearly 25 years, the last being in 1998. Organisationally, the strong federal structure of the party was destroyed by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s through centralisation and personalisation of power, creating a pyramidal decision-making structure. With the abandonment of the principle of representation, Congress committees and party offices were filled by appointment rather than through election. Centralisation of power led to dismemberment of the party at the grass roots.Without a clear line of leadership, factions have emerged that have destroyed the internal unity and coherence of the party. During the immediate post-independence period, factional groups provided the building blocks of the party ensuring a measure of internal democracy. Over the years factionalism has weakened the party leading to a loss of power. Being in office does not help, the party remains divided in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh between contending groups over the chief minister’s post. The G-23 group of senior leaders — who following a series of electoral defeats, demanded organisational reform and an inclusive and collective decision-making system — have further divided the party.The Yatra cannot reform the party. Yet there is an urgent need to do so as the Yatra does have a political thrust evident from the Congress inviting 21 “like-minded” political parties to join the concluding event in Srinagar. With this grand finale, the Congress hopes to make the Yatra a show of strength of the Opposition. The Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal United, Telugu Desam Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party and BSP are among those invited; the AAP has not been invited. But the prospects of Opposition unity or opposition parties uniting behind the Congress seem remote.Given the poor organisational condition of the party, opposition parties such as the AAP and TMC do not view the Congress or Rahul Gandhi as capable of providing leadership to an anti-BJP alliance. However, several ambitious contenders have emerged to lead the Opposition — from Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal to K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR). The Bharat Rashtra Samiti rally organised by Telangana Chief Minister KCR in Khammam on January 18 is aimed at creating a non-BJP, non-Congress, national alternative. The BRS rally is likely to be attended by leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal.Clearly the Bharat Jodo Yatra, although it has created enthusiasm among party cadre and hope among its leaders, despite its good intentions and success, by itself cannot revive the Congress. Against the backdrop of the achievements of the Yatra, the real work needs to begin after January 30. There is an urgent need for the Congress to unite under a strong leader and reinvent itself organisationally to carry the message of the Yatra to the masses if the party is to retrieve lost electoral ground.The writer taught at JNU
MUMBAI: Chief minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday requested the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) to postpone its decision to conduct the state service main examination in descriptive pattern instead of objective pattern to 2025.The MPSC had earlier decided to conduct the main examination with a UPSC-like descriptive pattern from 2023. Over the last few weeks, MPSC aspirants, supported by youth organisations of various parties, have held protests in Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, and Nagpur.In a letter to the MPSC, Shinde pointed out that the state services main examination is conducted based on objective questions, and the commission has decided to conduct it in the old method i.e. descriptive method. "If this decision is implemented immediately from 2023, there is a possibility of injustice to the students who are preparing for this examination and therefore the students have strongly demanded that the decision of the examination in the descriptive format be postponed till the main examination of 2025," Shinde said in his letter.The chief minister has also tweeted about his appeal to the MPSC.Officials said in the letter, the CM has also expressed belief that the MPSC will give relief to lakhs of youth in the state by taking an urgent decision on the matter."Shinde said the MPSC is working very efficiently and in the last seven-eight months, it has worked rapidly to reduce the backlog of jobs. The preparation for filling 75,000 vacancies in government jobs has been completed and the same has been planned," an official said, requesting anonymity.
Eknath Shinde said several projects are pending with the central government. (File)Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has reversed the previous (MVA) government's decision not to give 50 per cent contribution to railway projects in the state and also asked MPs to pursue various pending projects with the Centre.Speaking with Lok Sabha MPs from Maharashtra here on Monday, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said several projects which are beneficial to the common man are pending with the central government."We need to expedite them and pursue them," he said.Some MPs from the Opposition were absent at the interaction.Mr Shinde also said the feedback received by MPs will be taken into consideration and another round of meetings will be held after two months to take stock of the situation.Maharashtra sends 48 members to the Lok Sabha."The utilisation certificates of allocated money are crucial for releasing the next round of funds. Secretaries of various departments need to focus on their timely submission as well,” the Chief Minister said.Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the previous dispensation's decision not to give 50 per cent contribution to railway projects in the state is now reversed.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"The state government will bear 50 per cent cost of the railway projects in the state so that they will be completed fast,” he added.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The Day"I'll Just Kiss Deepika's Hand And That Will Be The Answer," Says SRK
MUMBAI: Polling for five MLC seats for the teachers (Nagpur, Aurangabad and Konkan) and graduates (Nashik and Amravati) constituencies, marked by a controversy over the suspension of a father-son duo from the Congress for anti-party activities and utter confusion over selection of official nominees by political parties, took place on Monday.Though there are several candidates in the fray, it appears that there will be a straight contest between the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the BJP candidates. Counting will be held on February 2.The polling percentage in Nashik was 49.3; in Amravati it was 49.7, in Aurangabad 86, in Nagpur 86.2 and in Konkan it was 91 (figures rounded off).Such elections are barely controversial. But high drama was witnessed over the Nashik division graduates seat after Congress nominee Sudhir Tambe failed to submit his nomination form before the deadline and his son Satyajeet filed his instead as an independent canddiate.Sudhir Tambe is the brother-in-law of Congress legislature party leader and former revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat. The Congress high command had approved Sudhir Tambe's nomination, while he was keen on his son Satyajeet, a former state youth Congress president, getting nominated.According to former chief minister Ashok Chavan, the AICC had given Sudhir Tambe a blank authorization form so that either he or his son could file the nomination. On the last day of filing nominations, both the father and son reached the election office, but Satyajeet Tambe filed papers. MPCC president Nana Patole reacted sharply, alleging the Tambe family had ditched the Congress. According to reports, Satyajeet Tambe was vying for the BJP's support, but it did not take any decision.On the other hand, BJP activist Shubhangi Patil too was vying for the BJP's nomination, and when she failed to get it, she approached Uddhav Thackeray for the MVA's support. After several rounds of talks, the MVA alliance supported the candidature of Patil. As a result, Nashik will witness a straight between the BJP and the Congress rebel.Satyajeet' Tambe's presence in the fray is being viewed as a major embarrassment for Thorat. Patole claimed that the MVA nominees will win all five seats. "Teachers and graduates in these constituencies are with the MVA," he said. Leader of opposition Ajit Pawar and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had toured extensively to campaign for the MVA and BJP nominees respectively for these five council constituencies.
The flight took off from Mumbai, but had to return due to "bad weather". (File)Mumbai: A flight carrying Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis returned to Mumbai on Monday after it encountered bad weather, an official from the Chief Minister's office said.Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis were headed to Jamner in Jalgaon district to attend a programme.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe flight took off from Mumbai, but had to return due to "bad weather," the official said.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayOn Camera, Huge Clash At Ajmer Shrine Between Pilgrims, Officials
The minister's comment had stirred up a controversy, resulting in an ink attack on him. (File)Pune: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Chitra Wagh has compared Maharashtra cabinet minister and her senior party colleague Chandrakant Patil with social reformer Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.Wagh, who heads the state BJP women's wing, made the comments on Sunday at a programme organised here by local party leader Hemant Rasne which was also attended by Patil."We can see Savitribai (wife of Phule and pioneer of women's education in Maharashtra in the 19th century) in households, but a search is on for a Jyotiba (Phule) like Chandrakant Patil and BJP leader Hemant Rasne," she said.Notably, state Higher and Technical Education Minister Patil, who is an MLA from Pune, had kicked up a row by commenting that B R Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule did not seek government grants for running educational institutions, but they “begged” people to gather funds for starting schools and colleges.The use of the word “begged” had stirred up a controversy, resulting in an ink attack on Patil.Meanwhile, Wagh, who had filed a complaint against social media influencer Uorfi Javed for dressing "improperly" in public, said the latter should be praised as she has started wearing full clothes.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"I never had any problem with that woman or with any religion. I had a problem with abnormality but now I think we should praise her because she is seen in full clothes now. I have received multiple photographs of her and I can see she's wearing good clothes," Wagh said responding to a query from reporters.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayShah Rukh Khan's Signature Pose And A Pathaan-Special Dance