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NORA CHOPRA
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NORA CHOPRA

Nora Chopra is a senior journalist with a finger on the pulse of the Indian political scene

Rahul return intensifies party infighting

Rahul Gandhi's return to Delhi has only intensified the infighting in the Congress. Rahul's supporters have sprung into action, demanding disciplinary action against Sandeep Dikshit for saying that Sonia Gandhi should continue as party president. Earlier, Rahul's supporters had clamoured for the resignation of Janardan Dwivedi because he attributed the Congress' loss in the polls to a lack of "Indian-ness" in the party. On the other hand, the pro-Sonia Gandhi leaders say Rahul's supporters should face disciplinary action for opposing the sitting party president. The party's upper caste leaders are unhappy with Rahul's attempts to give prominence to OBC and Dalit leaders. Meanwhile, in Punjab, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Partap Singh Bajwa continue to be locked in a power struggle. Rahul favours Bajwa, but his mother backs Singh. Amarinder Singh did not get to speak at Rahul's farmers' rally, while Bajwa did. Similarly, in Haryana, the tussle between former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and PCC chief Ashok Tanwar has intensified. It was on display at the farmers' rally, where Tanwar was heckled by Hooda's supporters when he spoke.

Congress may relaunch paper

To counter the BJP, the Congress is planning to create a news portal and then restart the National Herald newspaper. The portal will be a commercial venture headed by Suman Dubey, who is already looking to hire journalists. The portal is likely to be launched sometime in June or July.

Dwivedi no longer part of cong dais

As Congress leaders sat on the dais to welcome Rahul Gandhi at the farmers' rally, it was clear that the complexion of the party leadership has changed. Those who sat on the dais were the new power bosses. The first row, as usual, comprised the top brass: Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, A.K. Antony and Digvijaya Singh. With them were Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad. Janardan Dwivedi, who has for the last several decades been the emcee at Congress functions, was not on the podium. Sunday's rally was anchored by Digvijaya Singh. The other notable absentee was Sheila Dikshit, who was a permanent companion of Sonia Gandhi over the last 15 years. Ajay Maken was present on the podium, but did not get a chair. Jairam Ramesh was on the dais, but in the back rows. There were several younger leaders on the list of speakers, which included Ashok Tanwar, Maken, Sachin Pilot, Ashok Gehlot, Azad and Kharge. Ahmad Patel and party treasurer Motilal Vora were absent.

Sonia, Rahul keen to join hands with Yechury

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were among the first to make congratulatory calls to CPM's new general secretary, Sitaram Yechury. Rahul is not opposed to joining hands with the Left, the CPM in particular, despite the fact that he is not keen on alliances. Yechury's elevation has come as a boon to centrist forces as he is known to be more flexible than his predecessor Prakash Karat. Sonia Gandhi has had a comfortable relationship with Yechury ever since the days of UPA-I. They have been in touch even after the Left-Congress split, which, it is believed, Yechury had opposed. Rahul too has been in touch with Yechury, and even consulted him on crucial issues, and is also not averse to forging some kind of understanding with the Left in West Bengal. The Congress leadership is under tremendous pressure in West Bengal to ally with the Left against the Trinamool Congress. Before the CPM party congress, Sonia Gandhi is said to have met Karat to discuss putting up a joint front in Parliament, but the latter did not give her any assurances on the matter.

Sleuths in trouble

Investigators from the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) have got themselves in trouble after landing up in Kolkata to arrest a businessman who also runs a TV channel. The officials from Delhi did not follow the procedure of informing the local police, and went straight to the office of the TV channel. When the channel informed the state police about this, the EOW officials had to leave, but they later filed an FIR accusing the channel of obstructing government officials from discharging their duties. However, female employees of the news channel filed an FIR against the EOW, alleging misbehaviour. To save their own skin, the EOW head office allegedly planted news reports that the West Bengal police did not not cooperate with Delhi. However, even Bengal's BJP leaders did not side with the EOW on the issue.

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