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Union Budget Session to commence on February 29

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New Delhi: The capital will witness the onset of Budget Session of the Parliament on February 23. The joint session will be addressed by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The railway budget will be presented on February 25 while the Union Budget will be presented on February 29.

The meeting of Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) saw the decision being taken in this regard. The Union home minister Rajnath Singh headed the meeting.

The first session will end on March 16. The second session will start from April 25 and end on May 13.

The session will see the government pushing its legislative agenda this time as well, just they did in the last two sessions.

The Opposition will be seen raising a number of issues in this budget session, including the ongoing crisis in J&K. Moreover, the PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide case and the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh will also be seen getting discussed.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president held a meeting to chalk out the party’s strategy to be adopted in the Budget session. The party’s core committee members on parliamentary affairs attended the meeting.

The government blames the Opposition of turning out to be a hindrance in the House proceedings and significant legislations.

M Venkaiah Naidu, desiring to seek advice on the Budget Session, invited several political parties for an informal meeting later in the day. M Venkaiah Naidu is the Union parliamentary affairs minister. (Inputs from Agencies)

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Rahul Gandhi Elected as President of Congress Amidst Celebration of Followers

The 47 years old has been Vice President for a while during the tenure of his mother Sonia Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi becomes president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi steps down
Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress, Wikipedia

Rahul Gandhi was elected to the position of the President of Congress after his mother Sonia Gandhi stepped down in his favour on December 16, at a ceremony in the AICC Headquarters in Delhi. In an event attended by sister Priyanka Gandhi, brother in-law Robert Vadra and veteran politicians such as ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi became the sixth member of his family to have ascended to the position of the President of Congress, after a significantly long period of apprenticeship as the Vice-President.

 Rahul Gandhi becomes the president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi Steps Down
Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress after a speech by his mother Sonia Gandhi. Wikipedia

Sonia Gandhi Steps down

In an emotional farewell speech, Sonia Gandhi thanked all the party members who had supported her in the initial days of her 19 year-long tenure as the President of Congress, as she nostalgically recounted how she had never intended to join politics, but was thrust into it by the tragic circumstances. “Meeting this challenge was not the achievement of one individual but the continued efforts of all of you,” said she, addressing the crowd for the last time as the President of Congress. Sonia Gandhi, whose election to the post was preceded by the assassination of her mother in-law Indira Gandhi as well as her husband Rajiv Gandhi, expressed her confidence and pride in the spirit and resolve of her son, stating that his training as Vice President has made him “Stronger and unafraid”. Sonia Gandhi’s speech, however, was constantly interrupted by the noise of firecrackers, which were being burst by some members of the party, who were celebrating the much-awaited election of Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress after a speech by his mother Sonia Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi with the Prime Minister of Greece at New Delhi, Wikipedia

Rahul Gandhi becomes President of Congress

The 47 years old Rahul Gandhi, who until recently was engaged in an active campaign for the upcoming state elections at Gujarat, was awarded the Certificate of Election by Mullapally Ramachandran, the President of the Central Election Authority of Congress. “Politics belongs to the people, it is their greatest weapon in dismantling the structures that oppress, silence and disempower them,” stated the newly elected President of Congress, calling himself an ‘idealist’, who looks forward to better days. Rahul Gandhi’s fiery speech was met with much applause and appreciation, especially from the younger members of the party.
In 2013, the ascension of Rahul Gandhi as the Vice President of Congress was followed by a loss in nine state elections, and a victory in three. The election of the president comes at an interesting point of time, with the upcoming elections in 16 states, as well as the national election in 2019.

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Interesting facts to know about Pranab Da : Ex President Mukherjee turns 82 today

Happy Bday Pranab Da! Here are some facts about our Former President Pranab Mukherjee

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Pranab Da
Pranab Mukherjee India Economic Summit 2009 (Wikipedia)

Ex-President Pranab Mukherjee turns 82 today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sends wishes

Today social media was flooded with good wishes for Mukherjee from all over the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wished Pranab Mukherjee and said he prayed for his long and healthy life. Pranab Da was born this day in 1935 in Mirati, a village in the Bengal Presidency of British India (now in Birbhum district, West Bengal).

President Ram Nath Kovind also wished Pranab Da on Twitter. “Birthday greetings and best wishes for a long and happy life to former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee, whom we affectionately call “Pranab Da”,” he tweeted. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also wished him long life and good health. He said he admired him for his statesmanship.

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President Mukherjee
Former President Pranab Mukherjee (Wikimedia Commons)

Here are few facts about Pranab Da to know on his birthday :

1.Before joining politics Pranab Da was a professor in Vidyasagar College in South 24 Paraganas in 1963.

2. It was year 1969 when Pranab Mukherjee got his break in politics under mentorship of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi also got him elected as a member of Rajya Sabha.

3. Pranab Mukherjee had also worked as a journalist with a local Bengali newspaper, named Desher Dak.

4. Pranab Mukherjee served as Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012 and the Congress party’s top troubleshooter before being elected as President of India.

5. While Presidentship, as the 13th President of India, he taught school children the political history of India on Teacher’s Day.

6. After the demise of Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee quit the Congress and formed his own political party, the Rashtriya Samajwadi Party.

7. Pranab Mukherjee has served as Finance Minister in both Pre-Liberisation and Post-Liberisation eras

8. After his appointment as the 13th President of India, Mukherjee has rejected seven mercy petitions including that of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab.

9. Pranab Da is also an avid book lover who used to read books for a long time and also written many books, including them the most famous was “The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years”.

May Pranab Da live a long and healthy life and keep guiding us! Wish him a very happy Birthday.

– by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Himachal Polls: It will be do-or-die battle equally for Congress and BJP CM faces

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It will be a do-or-die battle equally for Congress and BJP CM faces (Himachal Polls) (Anonymous Poll Photo)

Shimla, Nov 2, 2017, 1:00 IST:  It’s literally a do-or-die battle for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief ministerial faces in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly polls. Both veterans — one in his eighties and the other in his seventies — are struggling for their political survival.

One is veteran Congress leader and incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, who is pushing hard to get to the helm for the seventh time. The other is the BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, who is making a strong bid to ensure the party’s victory with a record margin to silence his detractors within the party.

 For almost two decades, both the parties in the state have fought almost every assembly and parliamentary polls under their leadership.

“This time, Virbhadra Singh is fighting on two fronts — one is to establish his son Vikramaditya Singh, who is contesting his maiden assembly election, and the second is to ensure the party’s repeat as he forced the Congress to announce him as the chief ministerial candidate despite all odds,” a political observer told IANS.

For Dhumal, it’s simply the battle for “self-survival” after facing a humiliating defeat in the 2012 assembly polls. Since then, he was almost marginalised by the BJP faction led by Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda.

After thwarting foes within, Virbhadra Singh donned his battle gear much ahead of this arch rival Dhumal, whose name was cleared by the BJP as its chief ministerial candidate just days ahead of the polling for the 68-seat assembly on November 9.

“The announcement of Dhumal as the chief ministerial candidate was part of the BJP’s strategy to boost the morale of the cadres as the party for long was divided in two camps — one led by Dhumal and the other by Nadda,” a senior state BJP leader admitted.

Interestingly, both Virbhadra Singh and Dhumal are seeking re-election from new seats and that is not going to be easy for them.

The Congress leader is in the fray from Arki in Solan district, the BJP’s pocket borough that he chose himself, while Dhumal is contesting from Sujanpur, the seat he was asked to contest from.

The Sujanpur contest seems interesting as the Congress has fielded Rajinder Rana, who knows the Dhumal family well.

Virbhadra Singh knows the assembly poll will be a vote on the performance of his five-year-old government.

“We are seeking votes on the basis of development by our government, especially in the education, health and connectivity sectors,” a confident Virbhadra Singh, who first became the Chief Minister in 1983, told IANS.

The Chief Minister, who has been in active politics for over 50 years, is a regular target of the top BJP leadership, who point to his being out on bail and facing corruption charges in the Delhi High Court during the time he was the Union Steel Minister 2009-11.

But against all odds, he alone tours across the state seeking votes for the Congress. Party leaders said the Chief Minister is single-handedly campaigning and he is conducting 15 to 20 meetings in two to three constituencies every day.

He starts his campaign at 9 a.m. and continues till late into the night. He holds closed-door meetings with party workers in the evening for their feedback.

The only saving grace for the Congress is that its Vice President, Rahul Gandhi, will tour the state on November 6, a day before the campaigning comes to an end.

Contrary to this, the BJP has fielded its entire top brass — from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his cabinet colleagues, including Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and J.P. Nadda.

Even party President Amit Shah is aggressively touring the hill state.

“The Congress has failed to handle even sensitive cases like gang-rape of a schoolgirl. Our focus on coming to power will be eliminating forest, mining, liquor and transfer mafias that are active in the state for long. This will greatly help restoring the faith of the public,” Dhumal told IANS.

Political observers say issues like development have been pushed to the background as personal attacks dominate most of the election rallies.

“Apart from mudslinging, there is no public-specific agenda with both the leaders. They are just trying to woo voters by raking up personal issues,” an observer said.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Singh is the main “star” of the party campaign in the state.

“Virbhadra Singh is campaigning on the ground and the BJP is baffled at the response he is getting. We don’t have to be loud to impress the people, like the BJP is doing,” Surjewala told reporters in Shimla on Thursday.

Virbhadra Singh is targeting Dhumal by saying he has always worked with a political vendetta against him.

But a confident Dhumal believes there is a favourable wind prevailing for the BJP’s return as the present government has wasted much time in the ongoing corruption cases against Virbhadra Singh and his family rather than focusing on development.

The future of the arch rivals will be pronounced on December 18, the day the votes cast will be counted along with those in Gujarat.

The Congress won 36 of the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh in 2012 with a 42.81 per cent vote share, while the BJP bagged 26 seats with a 38.47 per cent vote share.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in) –IANS