Don joins hands with Congress

An infamous don and former Congress leader from Rae Bareli, Akhilesh Pratap Singh has mended fences with the Gandhi family. He was a bitter critic of the Gandhis until recently. His daughter Aditi joined the Congress last week and was introduced to the media by Ghulam Nabi Azad. She declared at the press meet that she would contest the Assembly elections. Aditi apparently has the blessings of Priyanka Vadra, who did not want any opposition to Congress candidates in Rae Bareli’s Assembly seats and Akhilesh Pratap Singh was the Congress’ main rival there. Akhilesh Singh was banished by Rajiv Gandhi after his name came up in the Syed Modi murder case, although he got a clean chit from the court later. Syed Modi was the first husband of Amita Modi, who went on to marry Congress leader Sanjay Singh, the “raja” of Amethi. It is being said that Priyanka might contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Rai Bareli if Sonia Gandhi chooses to retire.

Priyanka will campaign in UP

Priyanka Vadra has put her campaign on hold in Uttar Pradesh, despite the demand for her from the party cadre. But she will start her campaigning just one month before the elections, allowing brother Rahul to be in the limelight in the meanwhile. Rahul Gandhi’s political future will depend on the Congress’ performance in the UP elections. Rahul is starting a kisan yatra (farmers’ road show) from Deoria on 6 September. He will cover the rural areas of the state and will interact with the youth in the districts. The road show will end on 10 September, in Lucknow where Rahul is expected to address a rally. Two other road shows by the Congress are also expected to end in Lucknow at the same time. Pressure is mounting on the Congress leadership to ensure that Priyanka joins Rahul at the Lucknow rally. But so far there is no indication that this will materialise. The thinking in the Congress is that Priyanka may overshadow Rahul, so it is better that she stays in the background. Meanwhile, Congress’ Brahmin sammelan, which was scheduled to take place in Allahabad, will now take place in Lucknow.

‘Rahul is president’

The formal “coronation” of Rahul Gandhi as the Congress president may have been deferred until after the UP Assembly elections get over. However, he has started functioning as the president of the party informally, which is obvious from the fact that he will now start meeting the AICC general secretaries at 9.30 am every day. The AICC general secretaries have received a circular to this effect. In the meetings they will tend to complaints that Rahul has been receiving about their departments or states.

Masood is on a high

Fazle Masood, who is in charge of the Congress’ state organisation in Uttar Pradesh, is on a high. He may not be the Pradesh Congress Committee chief, but he enjoys the powers of a PCC chief. He is doing all the work a PCC chief does, including monitoring the party’s road shows and making appointments. Although he is not leading a road show, he will accompany Rahul Gandhi in his kisan yatra from Deoria. Masood’s political turf is Deoria, from where he fought and won his first election.

Ministers will talk to RSS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has engaged three ministers, Arun Jaitley, Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan to brief the RSS on the government’s various schemes. The idea is to make the RSS stalwarts understand the schemes and ensure that they do not speak out of turn, without realising the good work being done by the government. When A.B. Vajpayee was the PM, there was no such “mechanism”.

Bengal loses Again

National Informatics Centre, the government’s web services organisation, approached the West Bengal government last year for 11 acres of land to set up a national data centre in Kolkata. But Mamata Banerjee sat on the request , giving no response. So the NIC approached Odisha. CM Naveen Patnaik immediately gave the land to NIC. The national data centre is now nearing completion in Bhubhaneswar and will start operations from this year itself. Mamata is meanwhile busy pulling up West Bengal alphabetically, while lucrative projects are shifting elsewhere.

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