Congress & NCP’s Katihar problem
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has put a spanner in former party colleague and MP Tariq Anwar’s plans. The latter had resigned from the NCP in September last year in protest against Pawar’s purported clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal. Anwar is now planning to contest the Lok Sabha election from his parliamentary constituency of Katihar in Bihar on the Congress ticket.
Pawar has, however, communicated to the Congress leadership that Katihar is the NCP seat and if Anwar is fielded from there, the NCP would field its own candidate. That has put the Congress in a quandary. Anwar is keen to contest from Katihar only and is now hoping that Pawar relents.
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Two Lok Sabha seats for Rahul Gandhi?
Congress leaders from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are requesting Amethi MP and party president Rahul Gandhi to contest from two Lok Sabha seats this time. The reason believed to have been offered is that it will bolster the party’s prospects in south India. Although such requests from Congressmen are a routine affair ahead of every election, grapevine has it that the high command has welcomed them enthusiastically this time.
Union minister Smriti Irani, who had lost to Gandhi in Amethi in 2014, has been working hard in his parliamentary constituency and getting many Central projects there, one of which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently.
Unlike Rahul’s mother Sonia Gandhi who is well-ensconced in Rae Bareli, the Congress president could find the going tough in Amethi if the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which have decided not to field candidates in these two constituencies, change their minds. The two parties are upset with the Congress for fielding Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to strengthen the party at their cost. That explains the clamour in the Congress for Gandhi to contest from another seat from south India.
FM radio stations & the BJP
Just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, several politicians who are, or were, associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have inaugurated FM transmitters of All India Radio (AIR) in either the constituencies that they represented, or were likely to contest from, in 2019.
In January, Union minister Jitendra Singh inaugurated an FM radio station in J&K’s Udhampur, his Lok Sabha constituency. This was Udhampur’s first radio station. Singh had laid the foundation stone of the Rs 10-crore project in 2017. He said the demand for the radio station was raised after the 1965 War, and countering dominating radio signals from Radio Pakistan was one of the reasons.
In September last year, Singh had inaugurated a 10KW transmitter of the AIR at Patnitop in Ramban district of J&K that would reach the population living in a radius of around 60 km (aerial) in various districts — Ramban, Doda, Udhampur, Anantnag and parts of Jammu.
Earlier last month, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated a 10KW FM radio station in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh. Not only was Naidu born and raised in Nellore, he had also spent a significant part of his political career there, being elected a legislator twice from Nellore’s Udaygiri constituency. As information and broadcasting minister, he had laid foundation stone for the FM station in 2017.
Similarly, Union textiles minister Smriti Irani as I&B minister had in 2017 laid the foundation stone at Gauriganj for a local, full-fledged FM radio station for Amethi. It’s yet to be inaugurated though.
(Contributors: DK Singh and Amrita Nayak Dutta)
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