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Congress president or not, Rahul will always have pre-eminent place in party: Chidambaram

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Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday favoured a consensus for the post of the AICC chief and asserted that Rahul Gandhi will always have a “pre-eminent place” in the party irrespective of whether he is president or not as he is the “acknowledged leader” of the rank and file.

So far, Rahul Gandhi has declined to take on the mantle of party presidency but may change his mind, the former Union minister and Congress Working Committee member said, just days ahead of the notification of polls to elect the AICC chief.

In an interview with PTI, Chidambaram said there was no occasion for any controversy over the fairness and transparency of the party president polls and asserted that had central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry’s last statement on the concerns of some of the leaders come on the first day, the matter would have stood resolved.

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Underlining that it is not the practice of any political party to publish the roll of the electoral college, he said the PCC-wise electoral roll will be available for inspection at the office of the PCC concerned, while the all India electoral roll will be available for inspection at the office of the AICC.

“Every nominated candidate will be entitled to a copy of the electoral roll. Mr Mistry has since clarified these self-evident points and the MPs have said they were satisfied. The matter is rested,” Chidambaram said.

Lok Sabha members Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari, Karti Chidambaram, Pradyut Bordoloi, and Abdul Khaleque, had written to Mistry, seeking clarity on the issue of electoral rolls, to which the party’s poll panel chief had clarified that anyone wanting to file nomination for the post of Congress president will be able see the list of the over 9,000 PCC delegates at the AICC’s central election authority office from September 20.

P Chidambaram also asked if the media had raised such issues when the BJP or any other party held its party elections.

“I cannot recall Mr J P Nadda asking for the electoral roll or filing his nomination!” he said.

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Asked whether consensus or elections would be better for the post of AICC president, Chidambaram said while election is the default option, “the better course – and all parties follow this – is to elect a national president by consensus”.

“If my recollection is correct, Mr Nadda, and before him Mr Amit Shah, Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Gadkari, were all elected by consensus,” he said.

On whether Gandhi will heed appeals of party workers and leaders, Chidambaram said he does not know the answer to that question.

“Rahul Gandhi is the acknowledged leader of the rank and file of the party. They want him to be the President of the party also. So far, he has declined. He may change his mind,” the senior Congress leader told PTI.

Asked whether the Gandhi family will continue to occupy a place of pre-eminence in the party if a non-Congress president is elected, Chidambaram cited the history of the Congress and pointed out that between 1921 and 1948 Mahatma Gandhi was the acknowledged leader of the Congress, and afterwards, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, one following the other, was the acknowledged leader of the party.

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“Apart from the Leader, there were several persons who held the office of president of the party for one or two or three years. There have been periods in Congress’ history when the Leader and the president was the same person, there have been long periods when the Leader and the president were different persons,” he said.

The Rajya Sabha MP said that if Rahul Gandhi is elected Congress president, he will be both leader and president, but if he is not, he will remain the acknowledged leader of the party and there will be another person holding the office of president.

“Rahul Gandhi will always have a pre-eminent place in the party,” Chidambaram asserted.

Asked if a non-Gandhi family person will command the same respect and authority, the senior leader said the office of Congress president carries with it a great tradition and history, vast powers and huge responsibilities.

“I am certain whoever is elected Congress president will rise to the occasion and command respect among the leaders and the rank and file of the party,” he added.

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The notification for the Congress president’s election will be out on September 22 and the process for filing nominations will be held from September 24 to 30.

The last date for the withdrawal of nominations is October 8 and the election, if required, will be held on October 17. The results will be out on October 19.

Talking about the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra that began on September 7 from Kanyakumari, Chidambaram said that from what he saw in Tamil Nadu on the first two days, and from what he has gathered from his colleagues in Kerala, a large number of dormant Congressmen and women and sympathisers came out of their homes and joined the padayatra for short or long distances.

Many hundreds more stood on the roadside and welcomed and cheered Rahul Gandhi and the yatris, he said.

“It means that the elephant has been awakened. Thousands of people are hearing an ancient, yet new, message: that this country cannot be allowed to be divided by hate or anger or communal conflict; that love and tolerance and fraternity will unite the people of the country; and that such unity alone can lay the basis for economic and social progress,” Chidambaram said.

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This message is very different from the divisive and hate-filled messages that we have heard over the last seven years, he said.

Chidambaram cited the lines from a poem written a hundred years ago by Tamil poet Subramania Bharati which translate to, “So that this country may arise as one, come forward to do a great deed! Come! Come!”.

“As this message resonates throughout the country, it will certainly rejuvenate and revive the Congress,” he asserted.

On the BJP’s criticism of the yatra, Chidambaram said the ruling party was not prepared for the kind of response that the yatra has evoked and alleged that its leaders were resorting to misinformation, lies, mocking and abuse.



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Bypoll results LIVE: Who will win the high-stakes battle in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri? Counting begins for six assembly, 1 Lok Sabha seat

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The counting for bypolls held in six assembly seats and the high-stakes battle for the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat has started. It’s nothing short of a prestige battle for the Samajwadi Party as the seat fell vacant after the demise of party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Dimple Yadav is contesting the Manipuri by-elections to claim Mulayam’s legacy.

The entire Yadav family joined hands to ensure that the seat remains in the family, estranged leaders Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav also patched up, much to the relief of family members.

For Akhilesh, this election is extremely crucial because ever since he took over the reins of the party, he has been facing a series of defeats. From the 2017 Assembly polls to 2019 Lok Sabha polls, then the 2022 Assembly polls and the following bypolls in Azamgarh and Rampur, the party has faced losses.
Along with Mainpuri, Rampur Sadar and Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, Padampur in Odisha, Sardarshahar in Rajasthan, Kurhani in Bihar, and Bhanupratappur in Chhattisgarh are the assembly seats where results will be declared today.
Here are the LIVE updates:

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  • Dimple Yadav of Samajwadi Party has taken early lead in Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat.

  • Counting began for the six assembly seats in five states along with the Lok Sabha seat of Mainpuri.



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Sule leads NCP-Uddhav Sena MPs’ attack on Bommai government; BJP MP rejects charge

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The opening day of the winter session in the Lok Sabha witnessed some heated exchanges over the Belagavi border dispute involving Maharashtra and Karnataka, with NCP MP Supriya Sule leading an NCP-Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) combined attack on the BJP-ruled Karnataka government and its CM while demanding intervention by Union home minister Amit Shah in the matter. The Shiv Sena (Uddhav) also raised the matter at the Opposition floor leaders’ meeting convened by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge at his office of the Rajya Sabha LoP. During the meeting, Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi condemned the “provocative statements” made by the Karnataka CM and said her party would take up the issue in Parliament and that she had given a notice for immediate discussion of the matter in the Rajya Sabha.
When the Lok Sabha reassembled after it adjourned till 12 noon as a mark of respect for the late Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sule raised the Belagavi issue. ” The chief minister of our neighbouring state, Karnataka, has been speaking nonsense. A conspiracy against Maharashtra has been going on for the past 10 days. The Karnataka CM is speaking about disintegrating Maharashtra. Both states are BJP-ruled. People of Maharashtra were beaten up on Tuesday when they wanted to go to the Karnataka border. This can’t be allowed… I urge Home Minister Amit Shah to speak up,” Sule said.

While most BJP and Congress MPs were seen treading on a cautious note perhaps because both parties have stakes on both sides, the mandatory counter came from BJP MP from Karnataka, Shivkumar Udasi.

“Maharashtra politicians from the Opposition are habitual offenders! This is their insecurity. Since the matter is still in the Supreme Court, do not let the Opposition talk on it,” he requested the Speaker.

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Trinamool back in Opposition meet

The Opposition floor-leaders’ meeting on Thursday witnessed the return of the Trinamool nominees, who had kept away from the Opposition floor-coordination meeting held at Kharge’s office during the previous session. Representatives of about 13 like-minded Opposition parties decided to coordinate in taking up in the Houses a whole range of issues they had separately raised at the session eve’s all-party meeting. They also decided to oppose two Bills — the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amend) Bill and the Biological Diversity (Amend) Bill.



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Maharashtra CM, Dy CM tell Shah about Karnataka’s ‘provocative comments’ on border row

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Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have spoken to Union home minister Amit Shah on the border row and the violence on vehicles going from Maharashtra to Karnataka.
Fadnavis and Shinde, in their conversation with Shah, expressed concerns over some of the comments from the Karnataka government in the run-up to the violence along the border. On Wednesday, Shinde said: “I have spoken to home minister Amit Shah and I have also spoken to the Karnataka chief minister and told him that people who are going from Maharashtra to Karnataka should not be troubled in any way. Strong action should be taken against whoever has done the vandalism. He (Bommai) agreed that there would be strong action against the culprits and that such incidents would not be repeated.”

Shinde added: “I have told him (Bommai) that people from both states should not be inconvenienced and there should be a proper resolution.”

Fadnavis said: “I have spoken to home minister Amit Shah and I have told him the complete sequence of events. I have told him that without any reason Maharashtra vehicles have been vandalised and that is not right…While the Karnataka chief minister has assured me (that such incidents would not recur), I have requested him (Shah) to personally look into the issue and speak to the Karnataka CM.’
According to people in the know, Shinde and Fadnavis impressed on Shah that while Maharashtra was keeping things under control, there have been some uncalled for statements and steps taken by the Karnataka government that eventually led to the vandalism. Fadnavis said that the border dispute was in the Supreme Court and there was no reason for the issue to flare up in such a manner, the people said. The Shinde group MPs have sought to meet Shah to discuss the issue. On Thursday, Shah is slated to meet Opposition MPs from NCP, Congress and Sena (Uddhav group) on the issue.
The Shinde-BJP government has been on the defensive on the issue of the border row as Karnataka also has a BJP government. The Maharashtra Opposition has been slamming the government for not being assertive enough against the comments made by Bommai or the violence.

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