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Congress considers surname as a ‘political brand’, says Arun Jaitley

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Jaitley

New Delhi | Coming down heavily on the Congress for considering “surname as a political brand”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on said Tuesday the BJP will “gladly accept” the challenge of 2019 general elections if the Congress wants it to be between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the son of lesser-known parents, and someone who is known for his parentage.

In a Facebook post titled ‘ What was the name of Sardar Patel’s father’, Jaitley said that in a dynastic party like the Congress, talent and merit has no space and the crowd around the family is the cadre. Jaitley’s post comes days after some Congress leaders stoked a controversy by naming family members of Modi.

“If the Congress party wants the 2019 elections to be between Prime Minister Modi, who is the son of lesser-known parents and someone who is known only for his parentage rather than capacity, merit and competence, the BJP would gladly accept the challenge. Let this be the agenda for 2019,” the minister said.

Jaitley said while the age of the prime minister’s mother was made a subject matter of the electoral debate, his father’s anonymity was commented upon as an inadequate credential of the prime minister.

“The debate whether India should be a dynastic democracy has been ignited by a self-goal of the Congress Party… The argument given was that if you represent the legacy of a well-known family, it is a political point in your favour.

“Millions of talented political workers who come from modest family backgrounds would fail by the Congress test of leadership. Merit, talent, ability to inspire and lead would not be a virtue. The Congress considers only a great surname as a political brand,” Jaitley added.

He said that even his “well-informed friends” did not have a “definitive answer” when asked to name Mahatma Gandhi’s father, Sardar Patel’s father or his wife.

“The reason for this is simple. Decades of Congress rule, naming colonies, localities, cities, bridges, airports, railway stations, schools, colleges, universities, stadiums after one family was intended to declare the Gandhis’ as India’s royalty. They were officially glamorised’ as the blue-blooded family of India. The others did not matter,” Jaitley said.

Mahatma Gandhi’s father was Karamchand Uttamchand Gandhi, while Sardar Patel’s wife’s name was Diwali Ba and father was Jhaverbhai Patel.

He said although Sardar Patel, who was a frontline leader of the freedom movement and was the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India, negotiated the transfer of power with the British, the Congress government rejected the proposal to build his statue at Vijay Chowk in the national capital.

“The country had to be satisfied with the installation of his statue at a traffic round-about on Parliament Street,” Jaitley said.

He said the dangers of officially glamorising one family at the cost of those who made a far greater contribution “is dangerous” both for the nation as also for the party to which they belong.

“The contribution of other great stalwarts like Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose is downplayed. Members of one family are projected as larger than life. Their aberrations become national aberrations. The party adopts them as its ideology,” Jaitley added.

He said the silver lining is that country is changing and aspirational India judges parties and leaders very harshly.

“They don’t accept whoever is imposed. They ask difficult and penetrating questions and their yardstick is very tough. They look for leaders of integrity, they look for men and women who can inspire them, who are decisive and can lead the nation. To them surnames don’t matter competence and capacity does,” Jaitley said.

There were controversies over the comments of Congress leader Raj Babbar who had likened the falling rupee to the age of Modi’s mother. “Before becoming PM, Narendra Modi used to say that the value of the rupee has fallen to a level where it is almost the same as the age of the then-PM (Manmohan Singh). Now, it is inching towards the age of Modi’s respected mother,” Babbar had said.

Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar said, “Who knew you (Modi) before you became the PM. Even now, nobody knows the name of your father, but everybody knows the name of (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi’s father,” Muttemwar was heard saying in a video.

Muttemwar, who hails from Vidarbha region, however, later said that the video in circulation was distorted.

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Supreme Court asks search committee on Lokpal to recommend names by Feb end

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New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Thursday fixed a February end deadline for the search committee on Lokpal to recommend the panel of names for appointment of the first anti-graft ombudsman of the country.

The search committee is headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai,

A bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the Centre to provide the search committee with the requisite infrastructure and manpower to enable it to complete its work.

The bench, also comprising Justices L N Rao and S K Kaul, said it would hear the matter again on March 7.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench there were certain problems like lack of infrastructure and manpower due to which the search committee was not able to hold deliberations on the issue.

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BJP not involved in any operation to topple Cong-JDS government: Yeddyurappa

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Yeddyurappa

Bengaluru | BJP Karnataka chief B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday said no member of his party was involved in any operation to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.

With the ongoing power tussle between the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition and BJP in Karnataka intensifying, both sides have been trading charges of trying to poach each other’s MLAs.

“The BJP has nothing do with ruling coalition MLAs who are in Mumbai,” the former Chief Minister said and accused the Congress and JD(S) of trying to shift the blame on his party to cover up their ‘failures and inability’ to keep their flock together. “No one from the BJP has indulged in any kind of operation or luring Congress-JD(S) MLAs.

We had gathered all our MLAs atone place and were discussing about the preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for the last two-three days. Todayall are coming back,” Yeddyurappa said.

Speaking to reporters here, he hit out at the Congress leaders, saying they talk about the Constitution, but everyone was aware of how they played with it since 1960. “Why do they have to fear if we gather our MLAs, I don’t understand. Internal fight within Congress and JD(S) is going out of control… to cover up their internal squabbles, they should not blame the BJP,” he added.

Yeddyurappa, who was in New Delhi and Gurugram along with 104 BJP MLAs for the last few days, returned to the city to visit the ailing 111-year-old prominent seer Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga mutt in Tumakuru district.

Reacting to Congress-JD(S) leaders’ claims that some BJP MLAs were in touch with them, Yeddyurappa said, “We are together. You (Congress-JD(S) have said four to five MLAs are in your contact. Call them. Let me see.

If your MLAs have gone to Mumbai or Delhi, what do we have to do with it? It is -Congress-JD(S)- your duty to keep your legislators intact. No one is in touch with us…I’mtelling you,”he added.

The Leader of Opposition in the assembly also questioned as to who the leaders of Congress-JD(S) combine were to question his party about camping in Gurugram. “Who are they to ask where we are going? You try tokeep your MLAs intact, why are you blaming us? Tomorrow they (Congress) have called their legislature party meeting. how many will come it will be known, their true colours will come out tomorrow.” “Without understanding that your MLAs are dissatisfied and disgruntled, don’t unnecessarily put blame on BJP,” Yeddyurppa said.

Pointing out that during S M Krishna’s chief ministership, Maharashtra MLAs were kept at a resort in Mysuru, and recently Gujarat MLAs were put up in a resort in Bengaluru, Yeddyurappa questioned as to “where did Congress’ democracy go then?”

Hitting out at Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Yeddyurappa said despite being taught a lesson by the people ofChamundeshwari constituency, he had notlearnt anything.

Siddaramaiah lost the Chamundeshwari assembly seat in the May polls, though he won from Badami. Lashing out at the BJP and calling it “shameless” for allegedly luring ruling coalition MLAs, Siddaramaiah on Wednesday had said that Yeddyurappa has grown old, but has no wisdom.

Yeddyurappa also targeted former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and called him “a political opportunist”. “…all his fights and principles are only limited to secure his and his family’s political interests.People of the state are well aware of Deve Gowda’s use and throw policy,” hesaid.

Targeting Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Yeddyurappa said 156 taluks were in the grip of drought, but the chief minister and his ministers are not working effectively. “What are you doing? Who is travelling- Chief Ministers and Ministers- What steps have you taken when farmers are in distress?” he questioned. “In such a grave situation, without doing your duty, you are trying to shift the blame on BJP. You will not gain anything from it,” he said.

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Congress MLAs, MLCs urge Rahul Gandhi to nominate CLP leader

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Rahul Gandhi

Hyderabad | Newly-elected Congress MLAs and MLCs in Telangana on Thursday unanimously resolved to urge party president Rahul Gandhi to nominate their leader.

The meeting was attended by AICC representative K C Venugopal, who spoke to party MLAs, MLCs and MPs on the matter.

Venugopal said he would convey the legislators’ views to Gandhi, who would take a decision as early as possible.

“We took a unanimous resolution authorising the Congress president to nominate the new CLP (Congress legislature Party) leader of Telangana,” he said.

Congress won 19 seats in the 119-member house in the December 7 assembly elections.

Meanwhile, the first session of the assembly after the polls began here Thursday with the newly elected members taking oath as MLAs.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was the first to take oath.

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