By Rahil Nora Chopra
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is expected to expand his Cabinet in the next few days. But before that he will have a meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Aspirants and their supporters are approached senior Congress leaders for a favourable recommendation to the top leadership. The names expected to be inducted into the cabinet include Raj Kumar Verka, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodi, Sunil Date, Vijay Inder Singla, Amrinder Singh Raja and Kuljit Singh Nagra. It is also likely that there will be a reshuffle of the portfolios. Vijay Inder Singla and Amrinder Singh Raja are believed to be close to Rahul Gandhi, who will take the final call on who all are to be included in the ministry.
WITH NO SEAT IN SIGHT, PRAFUL MAY END UP WITH BJP
NCP Leader Praful Patel is seen getting ready to land up in the BJP camp as he sees some new openings there. The BJP candidate Rana Patole, who had defeated Praful in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the Bhandara-Gondiya seat, had crossed over from Congress to BJP just before the elections. Rana Patole recently resigned from BJP and rejoined Congress. So, Praful probably thinks if the pattern repeats now, he should be the one to benefit. Praful’s worry is that Sharad Pawar wants an alliance with the Congress in the Lok Sabha election in 2019, in which case Bhandara-Gondiya seat will go to Patole. This will leave Praful with no constituency. Sharad Pawar is also annoyed with Praful Patel, who is believed to be responsible for an NCP MLA casting his vote against Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha election.
RAHUL’S KARNATAKA POLL DIARY READY
Congress president Rahul Gandhi will start his election campaign in Karnataka in the second week of February from Chikmagalur, the constituency where his grandmother once contested, after visiting Sringeri Peetha, the seat of Sri Shankaracharya. The programme was decided at a meeting on Saturday where Rahul Gandhi and chief minister Siddaramaiah, MPs and other senior Congress leaders from Karnataka were present. After the Chikmagalur rally, Rahul will go to Bellary. The Gandhi family has long relations with the people of Chikmagalur and Bellary. After the emergency in 1978, Indira Gandhi had fought the election from Chikmagalur and won. In 1999, Sonia Gandhi fought the election from Bellary and defeated Sushma Swaraj. The Congress party has decided to fight the election on the development plank as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has done impressive work in the state.
MAMATA EYES SOFT HINDUTVA TOO
Mamata Banerjee, known for her crass minority appeasement policy, is now adopting a soft Hindutva line, which is turning BJP’s ire against her. The fight between TMC and BJP in the Noapara assembly by-election is being fought on the Hindutva line. Former MLA Manu Ghosh, considered close to Mukul Roy, who joined the BJP from TMC, refused to fight on the BJP ticket and BJP has since announced Sandeep Banerjee as its candidate. In 2016, the seat was won by Madhu Sudhan Ghosh on the Congress-CPI(M) alliance. The seat became vacant due to the death of Madhu Sudhan Ghosh.
VISHWAS WEIGHING CONGRESS, SP OPTIONS
The differences between Kumar Vishwas and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Manish Sisodia have become so wide that the relations between their families have also strained. When Kumar Vishwas’ mother-in law died, Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, or even their wives, cared to even make a call him although the wives were supposed to be very close to each other. The Delhi Government also refused to invite Kumar Vishwas in a Kavi Sammelan. According to sources, a Congress leader has invited Vishwas for tea and negotiations are going on to bring him over to the Congress camp. He is also believed to be in touch with Akhilesh Yadav as he belongs to Uttar Pradesh and had fought the Lok Sabha election against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi.
CONGRESS DELIBERATIONS ON JUDGES ISSUE
Congress President Rahul Gandhi spelt out the party’s position on the judges controversy after the party got into a huddle following the press conference by the four senior judges of the Supreme Court. Messages were sent out to all the top legal minds of the party for a meeting at the Rahul’s residence. The leaders present were Ahmed Patel, P.Chitambaram, Salman Khurshid, Kapil Sibbal, Manish Tiwari etc. (IPA)