‘Rahul Returns’ Campaign Begins Ahead Of Cong Party Polls

By Siddharth Sharma & Archna Prasad

While the elections for Congress president are proposed in June, the Delhi Congress has passed a resolution to make Rahul Gandhi president of the party with immediate effect and in the process become the first state unit to start the campaign “Rahul Returns.”

AICC Incharge Shakti Singh Gohil passed a resolution in a meeting consisting of the senior leaders.

In a meeting held at PCC Office, the resolution was passed unanimously which was proposed by Delhi Congress Chief Anil Chaudhry.

“In view of the feelings of Congress workers, I propose Anil Kumar, President, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, that Rahul Gandhi should be made the Congress President again, the country is going through a difficult phase today,” said Chaudhry.

“PM Modi-led government at the Centre has simultaneously attacked the country’s democracy, economy, social and religious fabric. One by one the public institutions failed to discharge their responsibilities. Rahul Gandhi has always warned the country about the imminent threat of the country or as a result three black agricultural laws today,” he added.

After the resolution was passed, Chaudhary told ANI, being a president of the Delhi Unit he has seen the sentiments of Delhi Congress workers and supporters for Rahul Gandhi that only he can fight against the ruling party, BJP.

Congress Party Organisational Elections were Proposed by its Central Election Authority in May 2020, but later due to Assembly Election slated for the five states, it was proposed by the CWC Members that election should be held after Assembly polls.

CWC Members Authorised Interim President Sonia Gandhi to take call for the schedule, Congress General Secretary Organisation KC Venugopal had said Congress will get its new president by this June

With this Delhi has become the first state unit to start the momentum for “Rahul Returns”. According to sources, other PCC units are likely to follow in the footsteps of the Delhi Congress unit. (ANI)

Modi To Visit West Bengal On February 7

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit West Bengal on February 7 to dedicate infrastructural projects worth Rs 4,742 crore to the nation, said Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday.

Pradhan attended an oil industry meet in Haldia on Sunday.

PM Modi will visit West Bengal on Feb 7. He will be here to dedicate three projects and lay the foundation stone for one project, at the invitation of GoI’s petroleum department and the road transport department,” Pradhan said.

Taking to Twitter, the Union Minister tweeted: “Conducted an oil industry meet at Haldia ahead of PM Narendra Modi ji’s visit where he will dedicate to the nation oil, gas and road projects worth Rs 4742 cr. I invited family members of our oil industry to be a part of this momentous occasion in the developmental journey of Bengal.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last visited the poll-bound state on January 23 to address the Parakram Diwas event marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.

Elections for 294 Assembly seats in West Bengal are expected in April-May this year. However, the election schedule has not been announced by the Election Commission yet. (ANI)

China Gave Me 6 Months To Crush Balochs: Pak Army Gen

In a shocking revelation, a Pakistan Army General has admitted China’s role in “crushing” the Baloch freedom movement in Pakistan, saying Beijing has given him a six-month task to end the freedom struggle by Baloch people.

“China has deployed me here to crush the Baloch movement and has given me a six-month task,” Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Sun quoted him as saying.

Calling Iran the biggest enemy of Pakistan, Ayman Bilal, Major general of the Pakistani Army, said Pakistan Army will go inside Iran and take action against them.

“China has paid me a salary and a large sum of money and officially posted me here for their regional interests and to thwart Iran’s conspiracies against CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), as it is a kind of investment in regional interests,” he said.

Balochistan remains Pakistan’s poorest and least populous province despite a number of development projects initiated by Islamabad there in the past.

Rebel groups have waged a separatist insurgency in the province for decades, complaining that the central government in Islamabad and the richer Punjab province unfairly exploit their resources. Islamabad reacted to the insurgency by launching a military operation in the province in 2005.

In 2015, China announced an economic project in Pakistan worth USD 46 billion, of which Balochistan is an integral part. With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Beijing aims to expand its influence in Pakistan and across Central and South Asia in order to counter US and Indian influence.

The CPEC would link Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port (626 kilometers, 389 miles west of Karachi) in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea to China’s western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to create road, rail and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East.

Baloch separatists, both militant and political groups, oppose China’s increasing involvement in the province. A surge in the deadly attacks by Baloch separatists in Pakistan has sent the risks and costs of China’s ambitious Belt and Road projects soaring.

They have also launched several attacks on China workers and officials. In November 2018, Baloch separatists attacked the Chinese consulate in Pakistan’s southern Karachi city.

Major Genera Ayman Bilal said that the end of the Baloch movement and the success of CPEC is very important for Pakistan and China. “We have a good amount of money for this task, so let us know how much you need because we can’t wait any longer for Iran to create unrest in Balochistan, conspire against CPEC and stab us in the stomach in the name of friendship,” he said. (ANI)

Border Dispute With India Not Linked To Ties: China

Emphasising the importance of bilateral relations, China on Friday reiterated that the border issue with India will not be linked with the growth of overall ties with New Delhi, reported Xinhua.

The border issue between China and India shall not be linked with bilateral relations, said Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, at a press briefing on Friday when asked to comment on a recent address on India-China relations delivered by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Speaking at the 13th All Indian Conference of China Studies, Jaishankar on Thursday said that the relationship between India and China were at a ‘crossroads’ and choices made by the two countries will have “profound repercussions” for the entire world.

“Experiences of the past have taught us the importance of stabilising our relationship (with China) even while adjusting to changes. From that, we can seek proper guidance that will be to the benefit of both nations,” the external affairs minister stated.

Zhao acknowledged that Jaishankar’s remarks showcase the significance India attaches to its relations with China and stressed that the border issue shall not be linked with bilateral relations.

“This is an important lesson learned through the two countries’ efforts over the past decades to keep our ties moving forward,” Xinhua quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

He further added that China hopes India will work with it to properly manage differences, promote practical cooperation and bring bilateral relations back on the right track.

On January 24, India and China agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops in eastern Ladakh during the ninth round of the China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting held on the Chinese side of the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point.

The joint press release issued by Defence Ministry on January 25 said the two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector of China-India border areas.

The two countries have been engaged in a stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since April-May last year. While China began amassing massive military strength along the LAC, India responded with a befitting build-up. (ANI)

Malaika Enjoys Sister’s B’day With Chat-Chaat

Sharing a glimpse of the heavenly feast on her sister’s birthday, Bollywood diva Malaika Arora on Sunday treated fans to a glimpse of her little sister’s special day celebration with her BFFs.

The 47-year-old star hopped on to Instagram and shared the picture of the ‘Awara Paagal Deewana’ star along with friends Kareena Kapoor Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Natasha Poonawalla and Mallika Bhatt.

The picture sees the birthday girl dressed in a kaftan, while the other girls are also seen sporting their comfortable and loosely fitted attires holding their glass of drinks.

The photo also captures scrumptious dishes on the table, that are part of the birthday celebration of Amrita.

Malaika captioned the post as, “Chai,chaat n chat…. with the birthday gurl @amuaroraofficial (with red heart emoticon).”

Amrita, who share an amazing bond with B-town’s stunning siblings Kareena and Karisma are often spotted setting best friend goals for everyone. On the occasion of Amrita’s 43rd birthday, the divas took to their social media handles and showered the actor with wishes and love.

From spending quality time together to going on vacations and partying, Kareena, Karisma, Malaika and Amrita share an inseparable bond, never failing to shower their love on each other. (ANI)

Nobody Will Be Left In TMC By Feb 28: Suvendu

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari on Sunday said that Trinamool Congress (TMC) is a private limited company and by February 28 nobody will be left there.

“Trinamool Congress is no longer a party but a private limited company. By February 28, TMC private limited company will be vacated, nobody will be left there,” Adhikari said while addressing a rally here at Dumurjala stadium.

Suvendu Adhikari, former West Bengal Minister, had joined the BJP in December 2020.

Former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders Rajib Banerjee, Baishali Dalmiya, Prabir Ghoshal, Rathin Chakraborti and Rudranil Ghosh, who joined BJP yesterday, shared the stage with Union Minister Smriti Irani, West Bengal BJP vice-president Mukul Roy and party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is in-charge of West Bengal at Dumurjala stadium rally.

Addressing his first rally after joining BJP, Rajib Banerjee said, “We want double engine government in West Bengal. We want Bharatiya Janata Party government at both the Centre and State for Sonar Bangla.”

The rally comes a day after former West Bengal Minister Rajib Banerjee, who had resigned from Trinamool Congress joined BJP along with two other MLAs in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Mukul Roy and Kailash Vijayvargiya.

MLAs Baishali Dalmiya and Prabir Ghoshal, former Howrah Mayor Rathin Chakraborty and Bengali actor Rudraneel Ghosh also joined BJP at the residence of Union Home Minister in New Delhi.

Elections for 294 Assembly seats in West Bengal are expected in April-May this year. However, no dates have been announced by Election Commission yet.

BJP is seeking to come to power in the state and has been extensively campaigning over the past few months. (ANI)

The Hill Biden Has To Climb

And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow, we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one…
– Excerpt from The Hill We Climb
by Amanda Gorman

Gorman, female Black poet and activist, 22, read her passionate and disturbing poem, first penned on January 6, and then in a flash of sudden energy after the Capitol Hill occupation by Right-wing Trump supporters, at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. She follows Elizabeth Alexander and Maya Angelou, who recited at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Amanda has painted a kaleidoscopic rainbow in response to the collective trauma of a polarised and divided nation. One American media organisation, sensing the emotional mood, has observed that Biden need not be flamboyant at all, or choose to be in the headlines for all the ‘wrong’ reasons like Donald Trump, but he should just do his work with a quiet, stoic and steadfast resilience, even if he is branded ‘boring’. And that is what the new president seems to be doing.

In one of his first speeches to his White House team, he categorically said: “If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you, I will fire you on the spot… On the spot. No ifs or buts. Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That’s been missing in a big way the last four years.”

He has been frank and honest. To his political aides he confessed that “I’m going to make mistakes. When I make them, I’ll acknowledge them and I’ll tell you and I’ll need your help to help me correct them…We’re not going to walk away, we’re going to take responsibility.”

So, what has been missing in a big way in the last four years was quickly rectified by some far-reaching decisions by the new President soon after he took office. These orders will have an eventful and long-term national and global impact in a world which is still struggling to cope with the pessimistic consequences of the pandemic.

ALSO READ: Can America Be United Again?

Among other important decisions, Biden overturned several retrograde and sectarian orders by Trump like withdrawal from the WHO and the ban on citizens of certain Muslim countries from entering American soil. He brought back expert virologist Anthony Fauci, who defied Trump’s juvenile denial of the deadly virus and was side-lined. Besides, his multi-cultural cabinet is full of various colours, creeds, and inherited histories from across the pluralist spectrum of America, with representation of secular and liberal experts, including talented women professionals.

Some from Indian origin have been taken in his team in key positions. Interestingly, two individuals in the Biden campaign, with alleged overseas RSS links, have not been accommodated. It should be noted that several eminent American citizens had petitioned Biden to be careful of individuals aligned with the BJP-RSS and their overseas allies in the US, who had followed the unprecedented call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Howdy Modi rally in Houston in July 2020, with Trump as the chief guest: Abki baar Trump sarkar.

Witness certain path-breaking executive orders passed by Biden soon after he assumed office:

*Ties with WHO reinstated. A delegation led by Fauci will attend the 148th session of the WHO Executive Board to be held soon.

*Social distancing and compulsory mask for all in federal buildings and territory. A ‘100 Days Masking’ campaign to propagate masks across America. Indeed, Trump and his top aides and followers refused to wear masks.

*Trump tried to block the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, under which immigrants brought to the US as children are protected. Biden passed an order to “preserve and fortify” DACA.

*The notorious wall along the Mexican border has been scrapped.

*The ‘Muslim ban’ has been revoked. Trump stopped citizens of certain Muslim and African countries from flying into America.

*The Trump administration’s move to prevent the census from counting undocumented immigrants has been revoked. Harsh immigration enforcement policies have been stopped.

*America has decided to re-join the Paris Agreement on climate change within 30 days.

Among other significant decisions, the controversial $9 billion Keystone XL pipeline project, which was opposed by indigenous communities and environmentalists, and was backed by Trump, has been cancelled. This has yet again triggered the protracted struggle in Dakota by indigenous communities of Standing Rock and Native Americans which peaked in 2016. They want the pipeline to be scrapped because it will destroy their homeland ecology.

Biden has asked the government to reinterpret the country’s Civil Rights Act so as to stop discrimination based on gender, colour, sex, religion and ethnicity. Trump administration’s 1776 Commission report, which aimed to promote ‘patriotic education’ in schools has been overruled. Historians had dubbed it as partisan political propaganda.

ALSO READ: Welcome Back America, But…

Vermont Senator and socialist Bernie Sanders, with a huge following among the millennials, has been made the head of the Senate Budget Committee. Sanders has been campaigning for radical health reforms to help ordinary citizens and low-income groups, students’ loan waiver, big financial Covid relief for millions who have been rendered jobless, hungry, or, are facing acute economic crisis, among other radical reforms. He has been backed by young and progressive democrats like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others.

The Vermont senator told the CNN that the Democrat-controlled federal government cannot wait “months and months” to pacify hardline Republicans who favour austerity measures. If Republicans refuse to back Biden’s $1.9 trillion opening relief proposal, Sanders has asserted that he is ready to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a coronavirus aid package and legislation.

In terms of foreign policy there are unconfirmed reports that the arms deals with Saudi Arabia might be frozen. This has been welcomed by some Democrats in the light of the abysmal humanitarian crisis in Yemen. He will surely rethink the Iran sanctions, which Obama overruled, and Trump brought back. While Jerusalem might stay as the new Israeli capital, the peace process might be restarted. On China, there will certainly be more strategic dialogue, and less rhetoric and posturing.

Meanwhile, Biden has also reversed another retrograde ban by Trump — transgender Americans can now join the military. The order said that all “qualified Americans can serve their country in uniform”.

Besides, as what is seen as a direct fall-out of the new freedom in the air, striking workers in Bronx, New York, captured national attention and got solid support from local communities. Around 1,400 members of the Teamsters Local 202 union walked off their jobs on January 17, demanding a $1 raise. They said that they were in the font-lines against all odds in difficult circumstances to feed New Yorkers during the pandemic, with the Hunts Point Market supplying about 60 per cent of the local supplies. After a one-week strike, they got the hike, and more.

Hence, truly, Amanda’s poem of infinite hope might not be only pure passion. In New York in this cold, it might be just one dollar or a bit more for the working classes, but her inspired poem is literally translating on the streets of America.

‘Rishabh Pant’s Innings In Australia Etched In My Mind’

Kshitij Negi, a Class 11 student and cricketer from NCR, says he has picked up valuable lessons from India-Australia Test series. Negi was particularly floored by Pant’s heroics

I have been taking coaching for many years now at the Sonnet Cricket Club in South Delhi and also at the Ashish Nehra Cricket Academy in Noida. I have played many a tournament at the district level and might soon be a part of the under-19 state cricket team. Between online classes and cricket coaching there is little time to follow a match or series live, but I ensure that I do watch repeat telecast of important international matches or the highlights.

And that is what I did with the recent India-Australia Test series… I watched every ball, every run closely to see what I could learn from it. The four matches were like a see-saw of emotions given how differently the Indian team performed in each of them, but the Gabba victory was really sweet. And in that match Rishabh Pant was my absolute hero.

No doubt, Cheteshwar Pujara showed tremendous grit and strength by standing his ground despite the many injuries he was suffering from. However, it was Pant who wrested the victory from a difficult situation with his unbeaten 89. Many people who had written off Team India were left looking sideways.

Negi (left) in cricket gear and with his idol Rishabh Pant (right) a few years ago

Why I also like Pant is because he is working so hard at filling Dhoni’s big shoes of being a wicketkeeper batsman. I am an all-rounder: a left-handed batsman playing in the middle order and a right-arm off-spinner and I take inspiration from Pant’s playing style for my batting.

I might also be a little biased in my choice of hero at the Gabba match, for I train at the same academy (Sonnet Cricket Club), where Pant also trains. I have met him quite a few times and be has given tips to me on how to improve my game. I like the fact that Pant is able to take quick decisions, that he can channelise his aggression and energy into runs.

We can’t forget the fact that he scored a 97 in the 3rd test, even though the match was a draw and that he is fit for all formats of the game. His detractors need to understand that he is still very young and will inculcate patience too in the coming years. I want that India jersey too, for it is such a feeling of pride to be able to represent your country well, and Pant is showing many of us youngsters the way forward.

ALSO READ: Test Cricket Gets Its Swagger Back

The last year has proved to be quite a dampener to us budding cricketers. Because of Covid, the Sonnet Cricket Club could open for practice only around 2 months ago. Even though Ashish Nehra’s Cricket Academy has been open since June, it wasn’t always feasible to go there because of the various travel restrictions during the lockdown.

I had to resort to a lot of shadow practice, with my dad helping me quite a lot. You know you can’t play cricket freely at home, since there is the fear of breaking valuables with the ball. We got a lot of online assignments from our coach too, but nothing can beat the charm of real net practice and the high in front of playing for a real crowd. Indian Team has shown tremendous mental strength and resilience in face of the unprecedented changes because of the pandemic. Cricket won’t ever be the same, but the spirit of sportsmanship is enough to carry us through any situation.

As Told To Yog Maya Singh

Oppn Asks PM Modi For Debate On Farmers Agitation

Opposition parties on Saturday demanded an extensive debate on the farmers’ agitation as a consequence of farm laws. The demand was made at the all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi where he assured them that the government was willing to discuss all agriculture-related issues with the opposition and sought their cooperation in running the parliament smoothly.

According to sources, Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, Trinamool Congress’ Sudip Bandopadhyay, Aam Aadmi Party’s Bhagwant Mann, Vinayak Raut from the Shivsena and Balwinder Singh Bhunder from the Shiromani Akali Dal spoke at length on farmers’ agitation and sought the government’s assurance that it would discuss all contentious issues related to the new laws. They also reportedly asked the government not to see them as enemies.

Azad reportedly said in the meeting that Congress has already warned the government about the agitation and now the government has to deal with the consequences, sources informed.

Bhagwant Mann from AAP appreciated the fact that everyone got a chance at speaking on the issues. He too reportedly told the PM that a few elements entered the farmers’ agitation and created chaos whereas farmers went back to their respective places and that FIRs are being registered against the actual farmers.

He also asked for the repeal of farm laws.

Most opposition leaders were of the view that the government needs to discuss the laws again in both houses of parliament and also seek to address the misgivings of the agitating farmers.

At the all-party-meet. RCP Singh JDU chief spoke in support of farm laws.

GK Vasan, Tamil Manila Congress – to appeal to the members to raise issues and spoke at great length and said that Congress had already warned about agitation on farm laws and now government has to deal with it. (ANI)

United Opposition 2024 Elections

R-Day Violence Conspiracy To Derail Farmers Protest: Sibal

Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Saturday raised questions over the manner in which protestors reached Red Fort during tractor march by farmer unions on Republic Day and also alleged that “conspiracy is being hatched” to derail the farmers’ movement.

Sibal told ANI that security should be at its highest at Red Fort on Republic Day.

“I have been to Red Fort several times. No one can reach the Red Fort without proper permission. During Republic Day, the security level should be at its highest but these people reached straight at Red Fort, they themselves are saying that ‘nobody stopped us’. So were they not stopped? How and why they reached Red Fort?” he asked.

The former union minister said there can be some bad elements but using terms such as ‘Khalistani’ in the context of farmers’ protest will harm farmers.

“Are the farmers who are protesting at the Ghazipur border are Khalistani? Is the farmer leader Rakesh Tikait a Khalistani?” he asked.

He said a case of sedition should be filed against anyone who makes such allegation against protesting farmers.

“Farmers protest is a people’s movement,” he said.

Delhi had witnessed violence during the tractor march to protest against three new farm laws. The protestors violated the agreement about the route for the tractor march and entered central Delhi after forcibly removing barricades. Several policemen were injured in the violence and vehicles were damaged.

Flags were waved from the ramparts of Red Fort and a religious flag was raised from the mast from where the Tricolour is hoisted.

Delhi Police has registered over 25 criminal cases in connection with the violence.

Farmers have been protesting on borders of Delhi since November 26 for repeal of three new farm laws. (ANI)