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Rahul Gandhi Hints Rajasthan CM Issue Sorted

Pilot reportedly has put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief

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Rahul Gandhi
Image source: wordpress.com

In a sign that the leadership question in Rajasthan has been settled, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday posted his photograph with Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, both contenders for the Chief Minister’s post, as party sources hinted that Gehlot could be the party’s choice for the top post.

The photograph of the smiling leaders had a caption “United Colours of Rajasthan!”, without giving any hint as to who will be the Chief Minister. An official announcement is expected in the evening.

Gandhi’s tweet capped hectic consultations with Gehlot, who appears set to return as Chief Minister in Rajasthan, and state Congress chief Sachin Pilot, who put up his claim strongly.

Gehlot, a two-time Chief Minister, and Pilot reached Gandhi’s residence within minutes of each other on Friday. A decision is expected to be announced on Friday.

Ahead of the meeting, Gehlot took a veiled dig at Pilot saying that the party unit had already left the decision on Gandhi and it was not the time to express individual choices.

“We have given the duty to the High Command. Let it decide who is to be given what responsibility. If I say my choice is this, it is not time for that. The time is to strengthen the Congress, see how its graph goes up.

“If Congress is strong, everyone will be empowered and we prove to be useful in meeting the objectives of the 2019 elections. This alone should be our thinking,” Gehlot said.

He said a resolution had been passed by newly elected MLAs in Rajasthan authorising the High Command to take a decision.

“Whether it is Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, once a resolution is passed, the decision of the Congress President should be acceptable to all. This is what our workres, MLAs and people expect,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi becomes the president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi Steps Down
Rahul hints Rajasthan CM issue settled.

He said winning elections in the three Hindi heartland states was a big achievement and that it all started with a strong performance of the Congress in Gujarat under Gandhi’s leadership.

“(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (BJP President) Amit Shah have lost their aura. They have not been able to recover due to which we won elections in the three states,” he said.

Gehlot had played an active role in formulating the party’s campaign strategy in Gujarat.

Both Pilot and Gehlot had separate meetings with Gandhi on Thursday.

The meetings came hours after the leadership issue was settled in Madhya Pradesh, with Gandhi tweeting his picture with Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who were both chief ministerial aspirants.

The picture — akin to the one on Friday — carried the line “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time – Leo Tolstoy.”

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Party sources said Rahul Gandhi was keen to give a similar message for Rajasthan as well.

Both in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress missed the majority mark by two seats and is now dependent on external legislative support.

Pilot, who stayed put in Delhi on Thursday, appealed to party workers to maintain peace and that he would welcome any decision taken by the party.

Pilot reportedly has put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief. (IANS)

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Sambhar Lake Becomes Death Bed for Large Number of Birds

The excessive salt in the water led to the poisoning, causing hypernectremia, which is water deprivation due to sodium intoxication

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Sambhar Lake
After witnessing drought for many years, this year the Sambhar Lake, however, brimmed with water due to heavy rains. The inflow made the water toxic due to the change in its alkalinity. Pixabay

A deadly game of survival is on in the Sambhar lake of Rajasthan for decades — salt versus birds. The result came a few days back: thousands of birds were seen floating dead in the lake and their carcasses scattered on the edge of the 12 km catchment area.

The dead birds seen floating in this largest inland salt lake in the country, include plovers, common coot, black winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet among many other migratory birds.

Harsh Vardhan, a renowned environmentalist, told IANS that no forest department official has ever been appointed to look after the lake. The lake comes under the Hindustan Salt Limited, a public limited enterprise formed in the post independence era to manufacture salt. Its job is to manufacture salt. So who should look after the lake; this has never been decided, he said.

The lake has not been handed to the forest department, and the area, where birds come, is no one’s land. Sambhar lake may be a part of the Hindustan Salt Ltd, but the company has nothing to do with the birds, he says.

The chief wildlife warden Arindam Tomar has maintained silence over the issue.

Even, Principal secretary, forest and environment Shreya Guha has washed her hands off the issue. All that she did was to a give statement that the Jaipur and Nagaur District Collectors have been asked to remove the bodies. She added that 4,800 birds have been dead till date, which is disputed by experts like Harsh Vardhan, who say that counting is not easy in the vast area.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday held a meeting on the issue.

Sambhar Lake
A deadly game of survival is on in the Sambhar Lake of Rajasthan for decades — salt versus birds. Pixabay

Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan questioned the presence of several private salt miners and entrepreneurs, who have set shops in and around the lake. “They dig tube wells which suck water from the land making it parched. The remaining water gets evaporated leaving crystal of salts which are packed and sold in gunny bags,” he said.

Lack of water and drought has haunted Sambhar lake for years. State government has been spending huge money to woo tourists through activities like mobiking, balloning, race, Bollywood shoots, etc. A resort on the rim of the lake showcases salt manufacturing for the tourists. Crores of Rupees have been spent on the upkeep of the narrow gauge train and watch stations, but birds and conversation issues were always overlooked.

As Sambhar lake went dry, concentration of salt deposits came up within it. The water from surrounding rivers, meant to flow into the lake, was diverted by the miners.

After witnessing drought for many years, this year the lake, however, brimmed with water due to heavy rains. The inflow made the water toxic due to the change in its alkalinity.

The excessive salt in the water led to the poisoning, causing hypernectremia, which is water deprivation due to sodium intoxication, Vardhan said.

It seems birds which came in high numbers due to high water quantity this season died due to hypernectermia after consuming their feed which is the planktons, the microrganisms found in water.

Sambhar Lake
The dead birds seen floating in this largest inland salt lake i.e Sambhar Lake in the country, include plovers, common coot, black winged stilt, northern shovelers, ruddy shelduck, and pied avocet among many other migratory birds. Wikimedia Commons

The only step that has ever been taken by any government in the state was in 1981 when it was decided to designate the site as wetland and was renamed as the Ramsar site.

According to an estimate, around 60,000 birds visited the lake in a year which has come down to less than 20,000.

Vardhan says that if the lake remains with the Hindustan Salt Limited, which has been a loss making unit since years or if it is handed over to the private operators, who do excessive mining of water, then the lake and the birds are sure to die.

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Experts like him want the lake to be handed over to the forest department which can develop it as a wetland. (IANS)