By Rahil Nora Chopra
In an attempt to bring back the politics of social justice before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have raised the demand that the Union government should go ahead for a caste census with immediate effect. Kharge has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue, while Rahul Gandhi has demanded that the government should make the 2011 data on castes public and lift the 50 per cent cap on reservation for the backwards classes. The Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar, comprising the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress, have already launched a two-phase caste census in the state and it is expected to be completed by May. Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar asked if the government is really worried about the OBCs, why then is it “reluctant” to issue the data pertaining to caste and social and economic status. However, Congress has tried to turn the focus on to caste census and which the party believes can certainly unite the Other Backward Castes (OBC), SC, ST and minorities voters in its favour. Meanwhile, Congress, SP, RJD, DMK and BRS are likely to put forth their support to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar who hails from the Kurmi OBC community, as the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate to reach out to OBCs and unite the opposition against the BJP.
NOW GEHLOT AND PILOT LOCK HORNS OVER TICKET DISTRIBUTION
The tussle between the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot has kept the Rajasthan Congress pot simmering. Pilot and Gehlot have been involved in a battle over corruption probe in Rajasthan. The Congress party is immensely upset with Sachin Pilot for his rebellious act against CM Gehlot and stirring problems in the party. Political observers believe that the present infighting between the Gehlot and Pilot factions in Congress is not for the Chief Minister’s chair, but for attaining party tickets for their respective loyalists. The one who wins in getting more assembly tickets for his supporters will be the leader in the state in the future and will also have the opportunity to become the CM. Meanwhile, Congress is making sincere attempts to unite the party in Rajasthan. In an attempt to get the MLAs into election mode, party in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, CM Ashok Gehlot and State President Govind Singh Dotasara started a three-day one-on-one conversation with the party MLAs. But Pilot chose not to attend this meeting.
AJIT PAWAR’S EXPECTED NCP SPLIT RUMOURS GET STRONGER
There has been much speculation that senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar may join the BJP-Shiv Sena government along with a group of loyal NCP MLAs, and the rumour is only getting stronger. However, Ajit Pawar as well as NCP chief Sharad Pawar respectively came out in public to deny what they called rumours. As discussions on a possible split in the NCP do the rounds, key leaders of the Opposition MVA alliance, including Sharad Pawar, party MP Supriya Sule, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray and his party MP Sanjay Raut, held a conference call to discuss the matter. But Ajit Pawar, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, did not mark his presence in the meeting. Another factor that kept the rumour mills running is the fact that the Supreme Court judgment over a plea to disqualify 16 Shiv Sena MLAs, including Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, is expected in May. An adverse decision against the MLAs may lead to a situation where the BJP-Sena government may need additional support, which is where Ajit Pawar and his loyal MLAs may come into play.
CM MAMATA EXTENDS SOLIDARITY TO CM STALIN’S INITIATIVE
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called her Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin and wished solidarity with the ruling DMK for its attempts against the undemocratic functioning of governors in non-BJP states. Stalin said Banerjee had rendered suggestions that it is good if the chief ministers of all opposition-ruled states meet to decide the future course of action. The Tamil Nadu Assembly had recently adopted a resolution seeking to fix a timeframe for governors to give their nod to state Bills and Stalin had written to CMs of non-BJP dispensations to do the same in their respective states. Mamata is the third CM in the country to offer support to Stalin’s initiative. Earlier, Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal and Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan had expressed their solidarity with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief.
YASMIN KIDWAI HINTS AT RAHUL’S SECOND, WEST-TO-EAST BHARAT JODO YATRA
Old guard and senior Congress leader Imran Kidwai had hosted an iftar on 18 April in Dastarkhwan-e-Karim at India Islamic Culture Centre in Delhi, where eminent journalist, and senior Congress leader Mukul Wasnik joined. While Kidwai’s daughter, former municipal corporator, Yasmin Kidwai, who was also the part of the Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, welcomed the guest, she also gave her views about the yatra. Kidwai shared that she is waiting for the second leg of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which is likely to commence from Porbandar in Gujarat and will conclude at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. The party is strategically chalking out a route plan for the yatra and it will be from the West to the East.
REBEL BJP LEADER SHETTARFINDS REFUGE IN CONGRESS
Both the BJP and Congress are facing massive strain over ticket refusals in the Karnataka assembly elections. Congress party has welcomed two senior leaders Jagdish Shettar and Laxman Savadi from the Lingayat community, who have left the BJP. The former Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shettar is now a candidate from the Hubli-Dharwad-Central constituency. He will be competing against BJP candidate Mahesh Tenginkai in the election, which is scheduled for May 10th. As many as 52 new candidates have been fielded by the BJP and the party has retained 90 sitting MLAs including 11 from the Congress and JDS who crossed over in 2019 to help it wrest power from the coalition. The party has also introduced in as many as 12 new faces for constituencies won by its MLAs in 2018 including the Shikaripura seat held by former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa where his son B Y Vijayendra whose candidature has been given. (IPA Service)