Sonia Gandhi says Covid battle transcends political differences, demands all-party meet

New Delhi, May 7  Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday accused the Modi government of having failed the people of the country in handling the pandemic and demanded that an all-party meeting be convened immediately on the COVID-19 situation.

The battle against the pandemic transcends political differences and everyone has to fight it together as a nation, she said at a virtual meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

She also demanded that a meeting of the the standing committees must be convened to ensure collective action and accountability to combat the pandemic better.

Launching a fierce attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi charged that India is crippled by political leadership that has no empathy for the people and has failed the people of the country.

"Let us be absolutely clear -- the system hasn't failed. The Modi government has been unable to constructively channelise India's many strengths and resources. I say this categorically - India is crippled by a political leadership today that has no empathy for the people. The Modi Government has failed the people of our country," she told the MPs.

She said the Congress firmly believes that fighting the pandemic is not a 'Government versus Us' battle but a 'Us versus Corona' battle.

"This battle transcends political differences. We have to fight this battle together as a nation. In that spirit, as a first step, I believe that the Modi government must urgently call an all-party meeting on the COVID-19 situation," she said.

"The Congress Party also demands that standing committees must be convened to ensure collective action and accountability to combat the pandemic better," she said.

Gandhi told the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge to bring to the notice of the Presiding Officer the Report of Standing Committee on Health presented in October 2020 and demand that he take action on the recommendations of the report.

"The situation brooks no delay. Tackling this crisis requires able, calm and visionary leadership," she said.

The nation, she charged, is sinking under the weight of the Modi government's indifference and incompetence and told party MPs that this is the time to rededicate themselves in the service of our people.

The Congress chief said the meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Committee was being held in extraordinary circumstances, with India being in the grip of a deadly health disaster.

She said thousands have died and millions are scrambling to access basic healthcare, life-saving medicines, oxygen, and vaccines.

It is heartbreaking to see people battling for their lives in hospitals, on roads, waiting in vehicles, far too many for want of any medical help at all, she said.

"And what is the Modi government doing? Instead of alleviating their suffering and pain, it has abdicated its fundamental responsibilities and duties towards the people," she lamented.

She also alleged that the government's vaccination policy is inequitable and will exclude millions of Dalits, Adivasis, Other Backwards Classes, as well as the poor and the marginalised.

"It is utterly shocking to see the Modi government abdicate its moral obligation and its sworn duty towards the people," she said.

Vaccine policy discriminatory: Sonia Gandhi to PM

New Delhi, Apr 22 Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the new COVID-19 vaccine policy, terming it as arbitrary and discriminatory and urged him to intervene immediately to reverse it.

In a letter to to the prime minister, the Congress chief alleged that the new vaccine policy implies that the central government has abdicated its responsibility of providing free vaccine to all Indians between 18 and 45 years of age.

"It is surprising that despite the harsh lessons of last year and the pain inflicted on our citizens, the Government continues to follow an arbitrary and discriminatory policy, which promises to exacerbate existing challenges," she said in her letter.

"The policy implies that the Government of India has abdicated its responsibility to provide free vaccination for citizens between the age group of 18 and 45 years. This is complete abandonment of the Government's responsibility towards our youth," she said.

Noting that any reasonable person will agree on the benefit of a uniform price for vaccination, she urged prime minister Modi to intervene immediately and "reverse this ill-considered decision".

The Centre on Monday announced a liberalised vaccine policy, making all adults above 18 years of age eligible for getting vaccination from May 1.

The Serum Institute of India on Wednesday announced a price of Rs 400 per dose for its COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield' for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals.

Congress deadlock to continue: G-23 planning event in Haryana now

According to sources, the party high command is dealing with the situation with care so that no wrong message goes to the party cadre.

The Congress saga of G-23 will continue as the group is planning a second event in Haryana's Kurukshetra district. While leaders are pointing guns and taking pot-shots at the decisions of the party, the party high command is assessing the situation,

According to sources, the party high command is dealing with the situation with care so that no wrong message goes to the party cadre. The top leadership is not in a mood to take action against senior leaders who gathered at the event of Gandhi Global Family in Jammu and has not sought for an explanation from them for their remarks. It is easy to understand that the top leadership is avoiding any kind of public embarrassment.

"Planning of a rally is underway in Kurukshetra district. Though it is yet to be finalised under which banner it would be held, G-23 leaders are not in a mood to normalise the tension building up after group opened a front in Jammu in which leaders like Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tiwari, Raj Babbar, Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the party is getting weak which is weakening the opposition too. Sibal had advocated for Azad, saying, "We do not know why the party is not using the experience of Gulam Nabi Azad."

In response, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said from the forum: "It would have been better if they helped the Congress in five poll-bound states. These are respected leaders and we respect them."

The leader said: "The one who has used the term 'used' does not know the legacy of the party. The man about whom the word has been used has been a Congress MP seven times.

"Soniaji made him the Chief Minister. Indiraji bestowed cabinet berth in central government. He has been general secretary in party and has exercised supervision over 20 states across the nation," the leader said.

A senior leader in the group, who wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi and was present at the Gandhi Global Family Function in Jammu, told ANI that no one from the AICC contacted them after the programme and "We are being advised to work for the Congress in poll-bound states but we have not been made a star campaigner by the party. If we go for campaigning it will included in the expense of a candidate and we have not been contacted and assigned any task but we will continue to raise our voices to strengthen the party and we will go the other states too."

Even on Monday the crisis went on to next level when senior leader of Congress raised questions about party's Alliance with Indian Secular Front (ISF). Anand Sharma tweeted that "Congress' alliance with parties like ISF and other such forces militates against the core ideology of the party and Gandhian and Nehruvian secularism, which forms the soul of the party. These issues need to be approved by the CWC. Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations, irrespective of religion and colour. The presence and endorsement by West Bengal PCC president is painful and shameful. He must clarify."

After that AICC Incharge of West Bengal Jitin Prasad wrote on Twitter, "Alliance decisions are taken keeping in mind the best interests of the party and the workers. Now is the time for everyone to join hands and work towards strengthening the prospects of the Congress in the poll bound states. @INCIndia @rssurjewala @adhirrcinc @AnandSharmaINC."

While West Bengal PCC Chief and Leader of the Party in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary tweeted that "Know ur facts @AnandSharmaINC ji CPI(M) led Left Front is leading the secular alliance in West Bengal of which Congress is an integral part. We are determined to defeat BJP's communal and divisive politics and an autocratic regime."

Input: hindustantimes

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State CMs meet virtually to discuss postponement of JEE, NEET exams

State Governments can come together and appeal against SC decision disallowing deferment of the exams- CM Mamata Banerjee

Guwahati: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi held a meeting with chief ministers of seven states to discuss the opposition's approach to postponement of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) scheduled for next month.

In the meeting, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee suggested that the state governments can come together and appeal against SC decision disallowing deferment of the exams.

Earlier, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee wrote to PM Narendra Modi, asking the Central govt to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against its order to hold NEET and JEE examinations, ‘so that students are free from mental agony and mental disaster’.

In her letter to PM Modi, CM Banerjee stated that the examinations will pose grave health risks to the examinees. “I had reminded you that, earlier, I had also requested you in my letter on July 11, 2020 to postpone all terminal examinations in universities/colleges across the country and to follow the first guidelines issued by UGC in this regard,” the letter reads.

It is to be noted that the Supreme Court has given a verdict on holding of JEE/NEET examinations earlier this week.

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Boost for Assam Congress as 38 artistes join party ahead of 2021 polls

Famous Assamese singer Babu Baruah joins Assam Pradesh Congress

Guwahati: The Congress party has ramped up its political activities in Assam which is going for polls next year. Moving ahead with an aim to take BJP head-on in the upcoming Assembly elections, the party is working hard to strengthen its campaign.

In what can be called a boost to the Congress party, on Tuesday, at least 38 artistes from the state have officially joined the Indian National Congress (Assam) party in the presence of Nikhil Bharat Congress Committee, General Secretary Harish Rawat, Former Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi, APCC President Ripun Borah among others.

The artistes who have joined the Indian National Congress include famous singers Babu Baruah, Rekibul Hussain, Nekib, Ajay Phukan among others.

Earlier, more than 400 persons from different parties & organizations joined the Congress party (Assam) including Depen Pathak, Ex-MLA, K. K. Sharma, Retd. DGP, Faizul Hussain, Retd ACS officer & many others on last Thursday.

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No rift between members: Sushmita Dev rubbishes claims of 'civil war' inside party

Guwahati: At a time when there are reports over the rift between party members in the Congress, All India Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev discarding all the internal claims within the party said that reports about the civil war is misinterpreting facts.

In her recent interview on a national media forum, Sushmita said “What emerged in last 10 days or so, I don’t think it’s right to call a civil war, it was a meeting where congress president wanted to hear everybody out. Everybody said what they had too; I was not a part of the meeting. On an internal forum, different people have their different views and that’s everybody democratic right in the party to speak your mind and Mrs Gandhi has always allowed that.”

She added, “Contrary to popular belief that there is no internal democracy in the Congress which is not true. I am a member of CWC and I have been a part of many strategic meetings in the core committee earlier. We all speak to our mind equal and as member of the same team, hence, calling it a civil war is misinterpreting the fact that everybody has a voice in the party and it’s a democratic way to run a party.”

There is none in the congress party who holds this notion that the party did not commit any glitch in the times when it was in power nor can anyone completely refute the contribution of the party in holding the values of the country, the whole thing was misinterpreted in the media, but I do feel that it is a great dis-service to the party that when the Congress president opens the door and wants to have a discussion about what was being discussed within the party should go to the newspaper, that’s the part that worries me after every congress committee meeting or every internal meeting, she stated.

She also highlighted an instance where she mentioned about a meeting in Gujarat by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi where he straight away said that if the party has made any mistakes in the UPA then we promised to rectify it.

“I can assure that none of us in the party can question the integrity of the former PM Manmohan Singh and his achievements and it has been proved that UPA policies under Sonia Gandhi have been pro people and it has been proved beyond doubt during the corona pandemic. There can be no doubt that Indian National Congress is the strongest opposition in the country. Rest are silent on important national issue & only focused on state centric issues. We have internal Democracy in the Party & that’s our strength,” she added further in her interview.

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Rajasthan Political Turmoil: Pilot sacked as Deputy CM

Jaipur: Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot has been sacked as Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister, says Congress leader Randeep Surjewala. Govind Dotra has been appointed as the new Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Chief.

After a Congress Legislature Party meet for the second consecutive day here, senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala announced that Pilot has also been removed as the chief of the Pradesh Congress Committee as part of the disciplinary action against him.

“Congress made Sachin Pilot a Union minister in his 30s, a deputy chief minister in his 40s. We have given Sachin Pilot many opportunities. He has been an MP, MoS and a state party president. I am sad that Sachin Pilot and some of his colleagues have fallen for a trap laid by the BJP. This is unacceptable,” said Surjewala.

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Country’s Economic Stability is RBI’s Top Priority: RBI Governor

Guwahati: RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said RBI has given the economic stability of the country a topmost priority. RBI is closely monitoring the risks that can give a severe blow to the country's economy, he informed.

Addressing a press conference Das stated, "RBI has strengthened its offsite surveillance mechanism to identify emerging risks. RBI is engaged with all stakeholders for resolution for Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank".

Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi, interim Congress President has called for a meeting of Loksabha MPs today to discuss the issues grappling the nation. According to reports, the issues which will be deliberated are mainly the Chinese border transgressions and the economic situation arising due to COVID-19.

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Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi, urges to roll back hike in fuel prices

Guwahati: Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed her resentment over the recent hike in petrol and diesel prices in the country.

In her letter, the Congress president wrote to PM Modi for rolling back of hike in fuel prices. “258% rise in excise of petrol till now and 820% rise in excise of diesel. In 6 years BJP Govt has made Rs 18,00,000 crores. If ever there was ever a time to deploy these resources in the service of the people, it is now,” Sonia Gandhi asserted.

She also claimed that the Government is seeking to earn additional revenue of nearly Rs 2,60,000 crores by these ill-advised hikes in excise duty and increase in the price petrol of diesel.

“These price increases are saddling our people with an additional burden of this enormous magnitude that is neither justified nor appropriate,” said Sonia Gandhi.

Sonia also highlighted the fact that at a time when the international price of crude oil has fallen by approximately 9% over the last week, the Government of India is doing nothing short of profiteering off its people-when they are down and out.

On the other hand, taking a jibe at PM Modi, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi took to twitter saying, “PM Modi, these tragic times dictate putting money directly in the hands of middle class and poor. STOP profiteering from their misery.”

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