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Rahul questions Modi over demonetisation, GST

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation and the faulty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying that in the last 70 years, “the foolishness of demonetisation and Gabbar Singh Tax” was not done by anybody.

Gandhi made the remarks while addressing an election rally in Uchahar in Rae Bareli, the parliamentary constituency of his mother Sonia Gandhi.

In an interview to a television channel on Friday, Modi had dismissed the economists’ speculation that demonetisation led to a rise in unemployment. “People are looking for excuses to discredit the huge decision of demonetisation,” the Prime Minister had said.

Gandhi also said that there was only one Prime Minister who stole from the poor and his name was Narendra Modi.

“Modi had lied to the country by dubbing the note ban as a fight against black money and corruption. If it was a fight against black money, why didn’t any thief stand in the queues outside the banks and the ATMs following the implementation of demonetisation in 2016,” Gandhi asked.

Accusing the Prime Minister of not filling the 22 lakh government vacancies, the Congress President said, “If the Congress comes to power, it will fill the posts within one year.”

Gandhi also promised that if his party formed the government in Uttar Pradesh, it will waive farm loans.

After addressing the rally, Gandhi also interacted with the media and accused Modi of not fulfilling his promises of providing jobs and waiving farmers’ loans.

“Modiji only lied to the nation in the last five years. The rate of unemployment is at a 45-year high and the entire youth of Uttar Pradesh know that. In all his speeches, Modiji talks about giving employment to 2 crore people. But today farmers are committing suicide as the promise of waiving their loans has not been fulfilled,” Gandhi said.

“When we came to power in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, we waived farmers’ loans in just two days,” he claimed.

The Congress President also took a jibe at BJP’s promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh into the bank account of every citizen.

“Modiji doesn’t talk about employment to the youth or the Rs 15 lakh promise. He has nothing left to speak. There is a teleprompter from which he reads his speeches and that controls him,” Gandhi said.

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The mistakes which Rahul has made

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Although the latest poll surveys suggest that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not be able to get a majority of its own in the ongoing polls, the leaders of the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), which has not been formed except in bits and pieces, are bound to regret their lost opportunity.

If they had only been able to overcome their self-centred political instincts and learnt to compromise, the BJP would have been in greater trouble.

Now, the various regional satraps and the standard-bearer of the country’s oldest party will have to brace themselves to spend another five years in the political wilderness as the BJP gains ground by virtue of being the largest party (though possibly still short of a majority) and the leader of the largest group.

There is little doubt that Rahul Gandhi will have to share much of the blame for this turn of events. As the Congress president, it was incumbent upon him to reach out with greater zeal towards the seemingly stiff-necked state-level leaders who have retained their ill-will against the 134-year-old one-time behemoth.

Rahul Gandhi’s first outreach should have been towards Mayawati, especially after the signs of her bonhomie with Sonia Gandhi at H.D. Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony last summer.

Even after Mayawati walked away from an alliance with the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh after Digvijay Singh’s customary faux pas about the BSP czarina being under pressure from the BJP, she had said that she had complaints only against Digvijaya Singh, who, she thought, was a BJP agent, and that she had nothing against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Yet, from that time onwards, her attitude towards the Congress started hardening. This was the period when Rahul Gandhi should have taken the initiative to keep the Congress’s ties with her alive by allaying her suspicions about the (somewhat tattered) Grand Old Party trying to wean away the Dalits from her party.

But the Congress not only allowed the relations with the BSP to deteriorate but even made it worse by reaching out to the rival Dalit leader, Chandrashekhar Azad “Ravan”, who was visited in hospital by Priyanka Gandhi.

Considering that Akhilesh Yadav did not want the ties of the Samajwadi Party (SP)-BSP combine with the Congress to fray beyond a point, Rahul Gandhi might have enlisted his support to mollify Mayawati.

Instead, it appeared that the Congress’s main adversary in UP was the SP and the BSP and not the BJP. The latter could not but have been pleased by this development.

Even Priyanka Gandhi’s appointment as the Congress General Secretary in eastern UP gave the signal that the party was fighting the opposition gathbandhan in the state rather than the BJP.

The focus on UP appears all the more strange since the Congress has ceased to be a major player in the state. If the party wanted to build itself up for a future contest, it could have waited till after the current round of elections instead of playing the spoiler where the political fortunes of Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati are concerned.

Rahul Gandhi made the same mistake in West Bengal where he accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of making “false promises”.

Again, since the Congress is not much of a player in West Bengal where the BJP has edged ahead of both the Left and the Congress, there was little to gain by criticizing someone who was trying to form a gathbandhan of sorts though without much success.

Considering that Rahul Gandhi was hailed as a possible prime ministerial candidate by, among others, H.D. Kumaraswamy, the DMK’s M.K. Stalin and the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashvi Yadav, the Congress president can be said to have had a head start over other as yet unannounced contenders like Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati.

Rahul Gandhi was also entrusted with drafting a common minimum programme at a meeting hosted by Sharad Pawar where Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were present along with others like Farooq Abdullah. It showed the Congress president’s rising stature.

Not long afterwards, there was talk about a Congress-Aam Admi Party (AAP) alliance being formed to contest the parliamentary polls in Delhi. Moreover, Rahul Gandhi was said to be in favour of such a pact.

But nothing came of it and, once again, the BJP is likely to be the gainer from a three-cornered fight, as in UP.

Rahul Gandhi has succeeded in shedding his “Pappu” image of being a part-timer in politics who cannot be taken seriously. But he is yet to learn that politics is the art of the possible.

The essence of this aphorism is that a leader or a party will have to tailor their policies in accordance with the existing circumstances and opportunities, and not out of pique or hubris, as the Congress appears to have done in UP.

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NYAY scheme a surgical strike on poverty: Rahul

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday called NYAY scheme a surgical strike on poverty as he took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for growing unemployment in the country.

“Under the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), Rs 72,000 will be given annually to five crore families in the country. Poor states like Bihar and Odisha will get the benefits under the scheme. This is the surgical strike on poverty,” said Gandhi while addressing an election rally in Balasore Lok Sabha constituency.

This is the first election rally of Rahul Gandhi in Odisha after the declaration of poll dates.

He also said NYAY scheme will help generating employment, which was affected by demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Gandhi allayed fears that the middle class would have to bear the burden for the scheme.

He said the scheme will be entirely funded with the “money looted by the industrialists like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, who fled the country”.

Rahul attacked Modi for not talking about employment generation, farmer issue and corruption.

“Modi carries teleprompter wherever he goes to deliver his speeches. He keeps getting orders not to talk about employment. He does not mention the Rs 15 lakh promised to remit into accounts of every poor Indian”, said Gandhi.

He said while Modi promised 2 crore jobs, but in reality, 27000 jobs are lost every 24 hours under his government.

“There are 22 lakh government posts lying vacant. Once Congress comes to power, we will fill the vacancies and create 10 lakh jobs in panchayats,” he added.

Speaking on the farmers’ plight, he said the Congress government would ensure that no farmer is sent to jail for defaulting on loans.

He said Rs 2,600 would be provided on paddy per quintal in Odisha, once the party forms the government in the state.

Elections are being held in four phases in Odisha. Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats.

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Rahul and Amit Shah testing luck in Phase 3 polls

The crucial Phase 3 polling is going on in Kerala, Gujarat, Odisha and other places in the country. Prime Minister Modi cast his vote after taking blessings from his mother in Gujarat this morning. Rahul Gandhi is testing his luck in Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala today. BJP National President Amit Shah is contesting from Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat. SP leader Muyalayam leader, actress Jayaprada, senior Congress leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge, Shashi Tharoor and such stalwarts will see their fates decided in today’s poll.

It is polling day for quite a good number of Lok Sabha seats. PM Modi called upon the people to use their voting right without fail and he described this election festival as some sort of a ‘Kumbhmela’. Phase 3 polling is spread over 13 states and two union territories. Nearly 18.56 crore people are casting their votes today.

All eyes are on the Wayanad seat where Rahul Gandhi is contesting to improve his party fortunes in Kerala state. Both BJP and Congress stepped up their efforts to strengthen in Kerala which was traditionally a Left stronghold. Also elections are being held for Odisha assembly.

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Rahul asks voters to remove ‘Chowkidaar’ from PM post

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Prime Minister Modi has taken his slogan of being a ‘chowkidaar’ (watchman) effectively to the people. With equal intensity, Congress President Rahul Gandhi is criticising how Modi is using his chowkidaar post to benefit only industrialists and corporates but not the common people. Rahul is appealing to the voters in his election rallies to remove the ‘chowkidaar’ from his PM post so as to bring the country out of crisis.

Rahul continued his attack on the links between Modi and Anil Ambani on the issue of Rafale jet fighters deal. How can Modi so boldly tell lies when he is involved in such massive frauds? Rahul asserted that the country’s future would be in danger if the BJP is allowed to continue in power.

Rahul maintained that Modi has done nothing to uplift the poor people’s lives which is why the Congress has come out with the ‘Nyay’ (justice) programme. This will ensure a minimum income of Rs. 72,000 per year per poor family. As a result, nearly 20 per cent of the total country’s population will benefit. Rahul appealed to the people not to believe in the untruths and lies being spread by Modi.

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I Love Narendra Modi, proclaims Rahul Gandhi

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi virtually brought the house down on Friday when he said: “I love Narendra Modi.”

In a free-wheeling live interaction with over 5,000 college students at the Lakshmi Lawns in Hadapsar suburb here, Gandhi took wide-ranging questions from the gathering, largely pertaining to jobs, education, healthcare and some even personal.

Answering a poser from a student, he paused and said: “I love (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. I really do, seriously. I have no anger against him. I love him. But he has anger towards me.”

The comment was greeted with thunderous cheers and applause from the students, stunned even the hosts and the media, coming as it at the height of the Lok Sabha election season when both the ruling and opposition sides are firing poisonous darts at each other.

To another question on his favourite childhood memories, Gandhi thought for a moment and said: “It was with my grandmother (late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi). Before she would come home from work, I would hide behind the curtains, and when she arrived, I would jump out and scare her. I know (now) that she was not scared, but she always pretended to be scared.”

Responding to a query about his relations with sister Priyanka Gandhi, he said: “We are very close, she is my best friend since childhood.

“From early childhood, we have witnessed lot of violence. First my grandmother was killed, then my father (Rajiv Gandhi) was killed. All though, she supported me,” Gandhi said amid pin drop silence.

Now, even after she has joined politics, the old sibling bonds remain strong, and Rahul Gandhi said he never removes the Rakhi she ties on him every year and it probably lasts till the next year.

“In the past there were fights, but not any more. We may quarrel, argue, but before it gets into a fight, one of us steps back and ends it.”

On a question about how the modern day youth seem addicted to the social media and living in virtual reality, the Congress President said: “If people choose to live in virtual reality, let them do it.

“However, some day they will have to face the actual reality of life. Social Media (Twitter) will not take care of your parents. You will have to face the harsh realities then.”

To a student’s question on who deserves credit for the recent Indian Air Force strikes, Gandhi responded firmly: “The IAF deserves all credit for it…”

He added that he has never claimed credit for such things in any of his speeches, but was totally against “politicising the IAF air strikes”, as was being done by Modi.

Organised by Congress MLA Vishwajeet Kadam, the interaction – lasting around 75 minutes – was conducted in an informal manner with the two hosts – famed Mumbai-based RJ Malishka Mendonsa and Pune-based acclaimed Marathi film actor Subodh Bhave.

Responding to Bhave’s plans to make a biopic on him, to be directed and filmed by him, for which he was on the lookout for a hero to play the title role, Gandhi playfully preempted him: “I am wedded to my work.” The crowds cheered their approval.

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Modi’s goal is to destroy Constitution: Rahul

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the ultimate goal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to destroy the Constitution of India, but said the Congress would never allow this.

Kicking-off the party’s election campaign here, he said ‘divide India and steal from India’ is the politics of Modi.

He said Dalits and minorities were being threatened and attacked across the country. “People are murdered and women are raped. There is atmosphere of fear. This is the politics of Narendra Modi. Divide India and steal from India,” he said in a rally.

“Everybody knows the ultimate goal of Modi is the destruction of the Constitution of India. We are never going to allow that. Dalits, minorities, tribals, farmers, weaker sections, everybody has a right to live in this country in peace. This country is not the personal property of one man or one organization,” Gandhi said.

The Congress President promised that if voted to power in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress would waive off farm loans within two days as it did recently after coming to power in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

He also said if voted to power at the Centre, according special category status to Andhra Pradesh would be one of the first things the Congress would do.

Gandhi, whose party is going alone in next month’s Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, avoided direct attack on Telugu Desam Party (TDP). He remarked that the parties in Andhra Pradesh had not been aggressive in pushing Modi to give the special status to the state to fulfil the commitment made by the Centre.

He targeted YSR Congress Party President Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy for corruption. “You know the mismanagement that has taken place in Andhra Pradesh. You know that the state is struggling. You also know the corruption of Jagan Reddy,” he said.

Gandhi said the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments lifted more than 14 crore people out of poverty and gave jobs to millions of people through schemes like MNREGA.

“We gave the right to food security to the country, gave our children meals in schools, we created new law to protect lands of farmers, tribals and Dalits,” he said, adding that after coming to power in 2014, Modi dismantled everything UPA had done.

“He did not stop at that. He carried out demonetization, hitting hard small and middle size businesses, poor and farmers. He then brought GST, further complicating life of small and middle size shopkeepers,” Gandhi said.

Alleging that Modi declared war on poor and weak, he said the Congress would declare war on poverty. “The Congress will carry out surgical strike on poverty. We will give ‘Nyaya’ to people of India. This is our non-violent weapon against poverty,” he said, referring to the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) scheme promised in the Congress manifesto.

He said 20 per cent of the poorest people, earning less than Rs 12,000 a month will be identified and given Rs 72,000 directly in their bank account every year.

He said five crore families or 25 crore people will benefit from this scheme. “Every family will get Rs 3.60 lakh in five years. I am not Modi. I do not lie. He said he will give Rs 15 lakh. It was a lie.”

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Rahul to contest LS polls also from Wayanad

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In a major decision, the Congress on Sunday announced that party President Rahul Gandhi will contest the Lok Sabha polls from Wayanad in Kerala, apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The announcement was made at a press conference here by senior party leader A.K. Antony and the party’s communications incharge, Randeep Singh Surjewala.

The Congress had been given indications that Gandhi will contest from a seat in the south and Wayanad was mentioned as a possible choice.

Gandhi, who has been representing Amethi, won the seat by a reduced margin in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by defeating Union Minister Smriti Irani and she is challenging him again in the constituency in the 2019 elections.

Surjewala said Gandhi will be contesting from a seat that in a way represents three southern states.

“It will be a message of unity of the the north and the south,” he said.

Surjewala accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of causing divisions and said that the lives of people in south India was important to the Congress.

He also said that Gandhi has “family ties” with Amethi and the “BJP’s dirty conspiracies cannot break it”.

Asked which seat will Gandhi retain if he wins both in Amethi and Wayanad, Surjewala said that when the Congress forms a government following the polls, the party President will represent the entire country.

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Whither Rahul Gandhi’s Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi announced a Universal Basic Income scheme that will provide minimum income support of Rs 72,0000 annually to impoverished Indian families earning less than Rs 12,000 per month. The scheme will be made available to 20 per cent of India’s most poor families. The party expects it to be a game changer in its efforts to stall Modi’s juggernaut. The programme would benefit 250 million of a population of 1.3 billion. The Congress president calls it a final assault on poverty. Thus, Rahul Gandhi unveils Garibi Hatao 2.0.

“In the past five years, people had to suffer a lot. Congress wants to give justice to the poor and eradicate poverty,” Rahul said, adding that “such a well-thought scheme has not been launched by anyone in the world.”
In fact, the Economic Survey of Modi government in 2016 considered Universal Basic Income Scheme (UBI) an alternative to a host of anti-poverty and social welfare schemes being implemented by central and state governments. Rahul Gandhi said that such a scheme has never been implemented anywhere in the world. But, it’s nothing but another name for the much debated and much disputed Direct Cash Transfers scheme.

In Switzerland, a referendum on June 2016 on UBI for the country had seen an overwhelming 77 per cent of the voters rejecting this. The NITI Aayog has already said India does not have necessary financial resources for the project. But, if the government really wants it can certainly find finances to implement it. Rahul Gandhi’s minimum guarantee scheme requires 3.6 lakh crores. This is around 13 per cent of the central government budget. In fact, the government of India loses revenue to the tune of 6 lakh crores due to myriad tax concessions.

Will the UBI be an alternative or another add-on to existing social welfare schemes, this is the moot question.
If UBI does away with PDS and MGNREGS, it would affect food security and further deepen farmers’ distress.
The other alternatives suggested is, to begin with implementing a universal basic pension and a decent minimum wage for all working people. Before embarking upon such ideational shifts in welfare policies, the government should author an economic policy regime that addresses the problem of humongous income inequalities.

The advocates of such schemes argue that there are leakages in the implementation of welfare schemes and therefore giving cash directly to the poor is a better idea. But, the paradigm shift away from the conventional approach to welfare is not without its share of implementation problems. If it’s truly a basic income to meet the basic needs of the people, it would entail a massive financial requirement. This requires massive taxation. Such indiscriminate high taxation can have negative consequences for the economy too. The basic income, when transferred in the form of cash, would be subject to constant devaluation due to inflation.

The cash transfers thus turn the Universal Basic Income into neither universal nor basic but a prescribed income for the targeted, whose value would see depreciation. Instead, the government should author a robust public policy regime that guarantees universal basic needs like education, health, nutrition, sanitation, drinking water etc. Any rollback of the public distribution system, mid-day meals, jobs scheme etc., would further erode India’s human development status.

( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )

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Rahul promises Rs 72K minimum income to 25 cr poor

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Monday that nearly 25 crore poor people in the country will get financial assistance of Rs 72,000 per annum if the party is voted to power under the ambitious minimum income guarantee scheme which the party has named “Nyay”.

Announcing the details of the party’s promised scheme at a media briefing here, Gandhi said the Congress will provide Rs 72,000 per annum to 20 per cent of the poorest families in the country. The scheme will benefit 5 crore families and 25 crore individuals directly, according to Gandhi.

He said the scheme was “unprecedented in the world”. “Nyay” (the minimum income scheme) will be the Congress’ major poll promise ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and Gandhi termed it as “a final assault on poverty”.

He said the “minimum income line” is Rs 12,000 per annum and the scheme will benefit individuals earning less than that.

“Congress guarantees that 20 per cent of the most poor families will be given Rs 72,000 crore every year. The amount will be transferred directly to the accounts of 20 per cent of the poorest families,” Gandhi said at the beginning of his press conference.

However, he subsequently clarified that the scheme will supplement the income of the poor if it is less than Rs 12,000 per month.

“The minimum income line is Rs 12,000 per month. Whatever the difference — say the income is Rs 6,000 — we will top it up. Those who earn less than Rs 12,000, we will take their earnings to Rs 12,000,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi said the scheme will be implemented in phases and there will be a pilot project.

He said the scheme was “fiscally perfectly possible” and the entire calculations have been already done. The Congress also held detailed analysis with leading economists on the matter.

“It is doable and we are going to do it,” the Congress President said.

Gandhi also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the PM-KISAN scheme launched last month, saying that it hardly provides any assistance to the farmers.

“You are being misled. If Modi can provide money to the rich, the Congress can give it to the most poor. Our pockets are being cut daily,” he said.

“We have kept our promise of farm loan waiver in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh,” he added.

Gandhi also referred to the MGNREGA, the rural employment guarantee scheme introduced by the UPA government, and said that it had taken 14 crore people out of poverty in its first phase.

“This is the second and final operation. We will bring 25 crore people out of poverty. This ground-breaking idea is the final assault on poverty,” he said.

Gandhi, who addressed the media after a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), refused to take questions on other political issues.

Sources in the Congress said that party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was among the leaders who had suggested giving a Hindi name to the ambitious scheme to have better connect with the voters.

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Besides Amethi, Rahul may contest from south India too

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Amid demands from party activists, Congress President Rahul Gandhi may contest the Lok Sabha polls from a seat in Karnataka apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh where his candidature has already been announced.

There have been demands from Congress activists that Gandhi should be a candidate from a seat in southern India too.

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi contested from two seats: Varanasi and Vadodara.

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Rahul Gandhi to trigger poll campaign from Chevella on March 9

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Congress party president Rahul Gandhi will commence Lok Sabha election campaigning in Telangana from Chevella constituency on March 9. Rahul Gandhi will address a public meeting at Pahadi Sheriff, near Shamshabad airport, in Maheshwaram Assembly constituency and this will be an assurance meeting on minimum wage for people, said party sources.

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) is expecting participation of party cadres over two lakh in number from 36,000 polling booth cadres.

AICC general secretary and in-charge for Telangana Congress affairs RC Khuntia, TPCC chief Uttamkumar Reddy, senior leaders Sabitha Indra Reddy, Bhatti Vikramarka, Sudhir Reddy, Konda Vishveshwar Reddy etc, discussed on measures to be taken for the massive public meeting.

“TPCC almost named the meeting as ‘Minimum Wage Assurance Meeting’ for the people. Rahul Gandhi will explain how Congress party will implement the minimum wage assurance scheme to the people once it comes back to the power at the Centre. We have examined several places in Narsingi, Shamshabad and finalised Pahadi Sheriff area for the public meeting,” said a senior Congress leader.

TPCC will take Rahul Gandhi’s prestigious scheme on minimum wage assurance to every household in Telangana. CLP’s proposed camp ahead of MLC elections has been put on hold considering Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Telangana. It may be recalled that CLP had proposed to camp its 19 MLAs to protect them from poaching by TRS ahead of MLC election. Telangana Congress wanted to take its 19 MLAs on a tour to a place, where Sabari river merges with the Godavari. The tour was scheduled on March 8 and 9.

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I am not against Rahul Gandhi, says Jagan

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YCP President Jaganmohan Reddy has changed his future strategy ahead of the 2019 general elections. He is almost taking a U-Turn in his approach towards the Congress party. Jagan now says he is not against the leadership of Rahul Gandhi at the national level. He asserts that his party, YCP, will give its support to only that national party which agrees to confer the Special Category Status on Andhra Pradesh.

Ironically for Jagan, it’s only the Congress which has already promised to put its first signature on special status file. Whereas, the BJP government has already made it clear that the special status is not possible based on the experts’ reports. But in the field level in AP, there are ample evidence of the YCP and BJP leaders mutually supportive of each other. Analysts say Jagan is playing the game carefully to show that his party is equip-distant to both the Congress and the BJP. But in effect, he is taking a different approach in the state level.

Jagan tried to strike this balance in his speech at India Today conclave in Delhi. Analysts say that Jagan is moving into a safe zone now so that he can keep his chances open in case the Congress gets a chance to form the government in the country after general elections. He cannot afford any unfriendly government at the Centre so soon.

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Rahul hits hard at Modi on special status to AP

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AICC President Rahul Gandhi arrived and addressed the Congress Bharosa Bus Yatra at temple town of Tirupati. Rahul talked about the joint decision taken by all parties in the Parliament for giving special status to Andhra Pradesh. Ex PM Manmohan Singh made a promise to confer the special status on AP.

When a prime minister gave a commitment, it means every Indian has given that commitment. Rahul asked the Modi government why it neglected such an important commitment. He asserted that nobody can stop this to AP after the Congress party comes to power in 2019 election.

Rahul hit hard at PM Modi saying that he made many promises to AP from his Tirupati public meeting at the time of 2014 general election. Modi promised special status, jobs and prices to farmers but he did not fulfill any of them. Rahul assured the AP people that this time they would certainly get the status and their dreams would be fulfilled.

G.Ravikiran

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Is Andhra not part of India? Rahul asks PM Modi

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AICC President Rahul Gandhi expressed his solidarity to the ongoing deeksha protest by AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu at AP Bhavan in Delhi. Rahul blamed PM Modi for the present pitiable condition of AP because of lack of any support to the ailing state due to non fulfillment of bifurcation promises. Rahul asked Modi why he was not able to list out demands that he had fulfilled to AP state.

Rahul further asked the PM whether he considers Andhra as not a part of India which is why no steps are being taken to meet the requirements of AP Reorganisation Act. The AICC president clarified that the former Congress government made many provisions for faster development of AP with special status and other promises but it is Modi who has turned a blind eye to the cause of implementing those aspects.

Rahul appealed to the people of India to reject Modi as he is telling all lies wherever he goes. There is a strong sentiment building up among the people now against the Modi government and this people’s sentiment will eventually lead to the defeat and dismissal of the BJP government in the coming general election. Rahul accused Modi of plundering AP’s money to feed Anil Ambani.

G.Ravikiran

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RSS is running Central government, not Modi: Rahul

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All India Congress Committee President Rahul Gandhi made a scathing attack on the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) and PM Modi. He accused RSS of running the Central government from its Nagpur headquarters while Modi is just the face of it all and nothing more. Rahul says it is the RSS which is playing a dirty role behind the musical chairs game in the Central Bureau of Investigation where honest officers are replaced by RSS-friendly officers.

Rahul said PM Modi is a cowardly person who is not having enough courage to face the opposition attack on the Rafale jet fighter scam. When the CBI director tried to investigate the PM role in the Rafale scam, the RSS leader Mohan Bhagavat interfered with this and changed the officers at their whims and fancies.

Rahul says in recent days, there is a clear fear in the face of Modi that he will certainly lose the coming general election. He asserted all the RSS friendly employees in key posts in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh will be shifted to non significant posts immediately. Rahul appealed to the Congress sympathisers and activists to wage a united battle as their unity will be the only weapon to chase away RSS and Modi.

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Rahul Gandhi summons T Congress MLAs to Delhi

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Hyderabad: After the dismal performance in recently Assembly elections held in December 2018 in Telangana, Congress party high command is said to have asked its MLAs to come for a meeting at the national capital. Congress party president Rahul Gandhi has turned very keen on Telangana and wants to strategize the Lok Sabha elections.

Rahul Gandhi is upset with the Telangana assembly results as the Congress party has created the Telangana state and suffered a humiliating defeat in both 2014 and 2018 elections. Congress party high command wants to know the ground realities. said a senior party leader.

Rahul Gandhi asked Congress MLAs to come out with reports analyzing the reasons for recent debacle in elections and suggestions on how to revive fortunes in forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Several MLAs of Congress already reached New Delhi on Tuesday morning. Rahul Gandhi wants to interact with all the MLAs individually and senior party men, who have been loyal to the party long time, said a source. Congress party wants to make the Lok Sabha polls as a major fight with BJP only and it doesn’t want regional parties to get more number of MP seats as poll strategy and sentiment will be different for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

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Rahul master stroke to Modi: Minimum income for poor families

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By announcing minimum income scheme, Congress National President Rahul Gandhi has created ripples in political circles across the country. He has promised to implement the scheme to ensure minimum income to all the poor families if the Congress is elected to power in the coming general election. This is for the first time that any political party has dared to come before the people with such an ambitious and challenging scheme involving expenditure of thousands of crores.

There is no definite shape on how the scheme will be implemented or what would be amount of minimum income being targeted by the Congress party. But the party leaders are excited about this programme which has raised expectations among the poorer sections. It is expected to increase chances of the Congress which has become the favourite for all the opposition parties in wake of rising dissatisfaction against the Modi-Shah duo.

Analysts says Rahul Gandhi’s scheme has already captured the imagination of the average voters. If the party can elaborate a little further on its full details, this would become a game changer in the coming election. Followers of the Gandhi family say the minimum income scheme will become as popular as the pro-poor slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ and programmes of Indira Gandhi whose popularity is still large among the poor people.

G.Ravikiran

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Rahul repeats comments on Modi’s 56-inch chest

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi is leaving no opportunity to attack PM Modi on the issue of the Rafael jet fighter deal which involved thousands of crores. Rahul has criticised Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman recently for her continued defence of the irregularities committed allegedly by Modi to favour Anil Ambani.

Rahul demanded that Modi should give a statement on Rafael deal in the Parliament but Nirmala Sitaraman continued to represent the matter on behalf of the PM. This has enraged Rahul who went on to pass the controversial remark on the personality of the PM.

Rahul said Modi was always boasting of his 56-inch chest but he had taken the help of a woman to escape blame from the Rafael controversy in the country. There has been a lot of criticism from the BJP leaders who say Rahul has ridiculed women by passing such remarks against Nirmala Sitaraman. They said it is a matter of pride for the country that a woman is rendering services as the defence minister now. Rahul stuck to his remarks and replied that he would pass the same comments whoever will be there in the place of Nirmala Sitaraman.

G.RavKiran

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Rahul earns his spurs, emerging as effective campaigner, strategist

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It was a year Congress President Rahul Gandhi came into his own as a campaigner and strategist, emerging as a powerful voice in the opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He also earned his electoral spurs in tough Hindi heartland battles, helping his party win three states that will have ramifications in the Lok Sabha elections a few months away.

Rahul Gandhi began the year as Congress President, having taken over the post from his mother Sonia Gandhi last December at the culmination of party’s organisational elections.

The path was full of challenges as barring Punjab and Puducherry, where it had stormed back to power as also Karnataka — where it is the junior partner in the ruling colaition — the Congress was virtually starved of electoral victories since its Lok Sabha debacle in 2014. It had also not beaten the BJP in a straight contest anywhere in four years.

Gandhi went about the task methodically by identifying weaknesses and bridging gaps. He sought to beat Modi at his own game by expanding social media outreach and connecting with the audiences through witty, hard-hitting tweets and posts.

Gandhi consistently attacked Modi on issues linked to the common man — corruption, unemployment, farmers distress, demonetisation, price rise — and stepped up his efforts to portray the BJP leader as a “friend of the rich”.

He attacked the BJP on national security — a key plank of the ruling party — highlighting how the government had been “silent” on the Chinese build up near the Doklam site and its “failure” over the continued infiltration from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.

Gandhi sought to demolish the perception that Modi was “personally incorruptible” by taking repeated jibes at him over the Rafale fighter jet deal with France. He single-handedly made Rafale deal a national issue through press conferences, tweets and speeches and attacked Modi with “chowkidar is chor” (the guard is the thief) barb.

He travelled abroad to counter Modi’s outreach among the diaspora. Gandhi’s consistent articulation of issues, including job losses caused by demonetisation and the slowing down of economy due to “flawed implementation” of the Goods and Services Tax, seemingly put the government on the defensive.

The GST, which was simplified in the run-up to the Gujarat assembly polls last year, has been further eased after the BJP lost power in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Gandhi aggressively clamoured for farm loan waivers and several state governments are likely to opt for the measure before the 2019 general elections.

Gandhi had been attacking Modi earlier too but his elevation as party chief sharpnened his attacks. Simultaneously, he addressed organisational issues, effecting changes in his team at the All India Congress Committee to create a combination of experience and youth.

Thus, the Old Guard, including Ambika Soni, Ahmed Patel and Motilal Vora are part of the AICC team that also has several young leaders such as Jitendra Singh and R.P.N. Singh as in-charge of states. Gandhi strove to give the party general secretaries one state each to bring more focus on their work and ensured that party secretaries, mostly young leaders, were given specific responsibilities.

Realising that the Congress would need as much support as possible to oust the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance from power, Gandhi changed the Congress stance of projecting him as the prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 elections and said the decision will be taken after the polls.

He has been interacting with opposition leaders to build a common platform against the Modi government, a role which was initially perceived to be that of his mother and UPA chairpeson Sonia Gandhi.

To improve the party’s outreach among the vast informal sector, he created All India Unorganised Workers Congress. He also strengthened party’s efforts to get the support of youth, women, professionals, fishermen, tribaIs and scheduled castes.

A Data Analytics Department was created to study voters, workers and ground-level issues in a better way.

The thought to detail in working of the party is evident from the way All India Unorganised Workers Congress has been shaped with separate coordinators for NGOs and government projects, legal matters, auto rickshaw, rickshaw pullers, construction workers, the self-employed and domestic workers.

Gandhi also reached out to people directly through the social media.

“You cannot control social media. Gandhi has been gaining followers and his messages and posts are widely followed. Earlier BJP was setting the agenda and Congress was responding but now it is the reverse,” a Congress leader who did not want to be identified said.

As party chief, Gandhi has run far more elaborate and sustained assembly election campaigns than did Sonia Gandhi, who helmed the Congress for 19 years.

He sprang a surprise in his efforts to project the BJP as divisive and made its leaders angry when he walked to Modi during the debate on no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha and hugged him.

He also openly said that BJP leaders may call him “pappu” but he does not hate the party.

Realising how the Congress could not form governments in Goa and Manipur despite being the single-largest party, Gandhi moved swiftly in Karnataka earlier this year and entered into alliance with Janata Dal-Secular to keep the BJP out of power.

But the challenges that remain for him are herculean.

The Congress lost six assembly elections this year – Telangana, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland – despite the three wins in Hindi heartland and managing to be a partner of the ruling coalition in Karnataka. It is not in power in any state in the northeast, a party stronghold only four years ago. It is weak in the crucial states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and needs allies to win seats.

Next year is likely to be a make or break year for Congress, as the country goes to general polls.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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