October 19, 2018

Sidhu finally joins Congress, Amarinder to take on Badal from Lambi

Delhi/India/Politics by

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi welcomes Navjot Singh Sidhu into the INC. (EPS)

CHANDIGARH: Cricketer-turned-Politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the Congress on Sunday, giving the party a major boost ahead of the Assembly elections in Punjab.

According to sources, Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh is likely to contest against chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi and Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu will be fielded against deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal from Jalalabad.

The former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu was formally inducted into the Congress by the vice-president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Sunday.  Sidhu who is known for his wit and humour will also be the star campaigner of the party in the Assembly elections in the State. He will contest from Amritsar (East) Assembly seat where his wife is the sitting MLA presently.

Sources claimed that Sidhu’s delay in joining the Congress officially was due to astrological reasons and that he was warned against joining the party before Makar Sankranti.

Also Capt Amarinder spoke to Sidhu on phone to welcome him into the partyfold, saying it was great news and his joining would further strengthen the Congress in Punjab in the run-up to the State Assembly elections. Elected as an MP from Amritsar on a BJP ticket in 2004, Sidhu resigned due to a murder case against him but again successfully contested the by-election and won. Consecutively for the third time, he retained the seat 2009 from the holy city. 

In April last year, he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, but resigned from the position on July 18. He formally resigned from the BJP on September 14, following which his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu MLA from Amritsar (East) also resigned from the saffron party on October 8. Subsequently, she resigned from the Assembly.

Sidhu, then floated his political front – Awaaz-e-Punjab, along with former hockey player Pargat Singh and independent MLAs Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains from Ludhiana (Bains Brothers). But in November last year the forum broke as the Bains brothers forged an alliance with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Then on November 28, 2016, Pargat and Sidhu’s wife, Dr. Navjot Kaur Sidhu joined the Congress but the ex-cricketer could not immediately follow suit because of certain professional commitments.

Sources claimed that Punjab Congress president and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh will contest against Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi constituency as earlier Amarinder had sought the party high command’s permission to fight the coming Assembly elections from Badal’s constituency of Lambi to ensure defeat of senior Badal. Amarinder is also contesting from Patiala (Urban) against former army chief Gen JJ Singh (Retd) who is an Akali Dal candidate.

Meanwhile, member of parliament from Ludhiana  Ravneet Singh Bittu will take on Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal from Jalalabad constituency from where Sukhbir is the sitting MLA. Already, Bhagwant Mann of AAP who is the sitting MP of AAP from Sangrur is contesting against Sukhbir from Jalalabad, said sources.

Also former Olympian Pargat Singh who had left Akali Dal and joined congress will fight from his own present constituency Jalandhar Cantonment . The announcements to this effect are likely to be made very soon as January 18 is the last date for filing of nominations in Punjab.

Sidhu a traitor, has betrayed BJP: Harsimrat

Delhi/India/Politics by

SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal showing her marked finger after casting her vote for assembly polls at a polling booth in Badal village in Bathinda. PTI

AMRITSAR: Terming former BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu a “traitor”, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal alleged that he has betrayed his “mother party”, the BJP, which brought him into the politics. She was addressing an election rally in favour of her brother and Revenue minister Bikram Singh Majtiha in Matewal which falls in Majitha constituency. Harsimrat alleged that Sidhu has betrayed his mother party, BJP, and the people of Punjab. Taking a dig at Sidhu, she said that his pratice to laugh in the comedy show on the small screen has also helped him to make his own mockery. Claiming that it was the BJP which brought him in the politics and made him MP four times, she alleged that Sidhu “stabbed” the party on its back and “cheated” with the people of Punjab by not serving them despite being the MP.

Slamming the former MP, she said that he initially bargained with the AAP but could not get any space there as his aspirations were too high. But he succeeded in striking a deal with the Congress for his “vested interests” and not to serve the people of Punjab. She said that there was no danger to Akali Dal from Sidhu with his joining the Congress party since Sidhu has always remained an “aimless” politician.

Claiming that PPCC chief Captain Amarinder Singh was afraid to take on General J J Singh from Patiala assembly constituency, she stated that this is the reason why Amarinder was talking about contesting from Lambi constituency. 

Meanwhile, Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur attacked the SAD alleging misrule by the Badal leadership. “They have destroyed the state with the kind of hooliganism they have done in Punjab in the last ten years. This land will never forget this. “Instead of standing by this party, people should support the party which has brought in a new thinking to save the state,” Kaur said. She added that Sidhu will contest from Amritsar (East) seat and will also address 70 rallies.

BJP decision to rope in Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh for campaign comes in for criticism

Delhi/India/Politics by

Charttisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh. | File Photo

BHUBANESWAR: The inclusion of Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh in the list of star campaigners of the BJP has come in for sharp criticism from the BJD which is going to make the Mahanadi river water dispute a major poll plank during the panchayat polls. The BJP today revised the list of star campaigners and included the names of Singh, Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das and other central leaders.

The BJD, however, maintained that roping in more leaders from outside the state by the BJP to campaign for its candidates will have no impact on its performance. “Campaign by Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand chief ministers will have no impact on the poll performance of BJD candidates,” BJD spokesperson Surya Narayan Patro said. Patro said people will ask Raman Singh questions about Chhattisgarh’s construction activities on the upstream of Mahanadi which will choke flow of water to the river. As BJD will make Mahanadi river water dispute between Odisha and Chhattigarh a major poll plank, campaign by Raman Singh will bring the issue back to the centre stage. “Singh and Das are no doubt big leaders of the BJP. But people do not know them in Odisha,” Patro said.

The BJD leader said by deciding to rope in Raman Singh to campaign in Odisha, BJP has extended support to Chhattisgarh in the ongoing dispute over the Mahanadi river water. “It has also proved that the party is more than the state for the BJP leaders,” he said. Raman Singh’s inclusion in the list of star campaigners of the BJP has already been opposed by the state unit Samajwadi party.

State unit president Rabi Behera announced that Singh will be opposed during his campaign in the panchayat polls. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik will campaign for the party candidates during the panchayat poll this time after the last date of withdrawal of nomination papers on January 21. He is expected to address public meetings in all the 30 districts.

Rajkot: 4000 Divyangs take part in kite festival

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Traders selling fancy kites at Gulzar House in the Old City of Hyderabad for Sankranti festival | EPS

AHMEDABAD: In a first of it’s kind initiative, the Gujarat Government organised a special kite festival today at Rajkot where more than 4000 divyangs (differently abled) citizens from 11 districts of Saurashtra region enjoyed flying kites. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani too was present during the ‘Divyang Patang Mahotsav’, held at Race Course ground, to encourage differently abled citizens, said an official release here. Speaking at the function, Rupani said the unique event, which saw participation of more than 4000 divyangs, has found it’s place in the Limca Book of Records. Rupani asserted that his government is committed to the welfare of divyangs, for which, many schemes have been floated, including issuance of life-time pass for them to travel anywhere in Gujarat through state transport buses, said the release.

Trump team denies report that he will meet Putin at summit

Delhi/India/Politics/World by

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (File Photo | AP)

WASHINGTON: US President-elect Donald Trump plans to hold a summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on his first foreign trip shortly after taking office, the Sunday Times reported, though a Trump spokeswoman denied the report as “completely false.”

Trump would seek to “reset” relations with the Kremlin, with Iceland the likely venue, emulating Ronald Reagan’s Reykjavik meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 during the Cold War, the British newspaper reported, citing unnamed British officials it said had been informed of the plan.

Trump, who will be inaugurated on Friday, would begin work on a deal limiting nuclear weapons as part of his bid to reset relations between the two powers, it said.

Citing unnamed sources, the Sunday Times said Moscow was set to agree to a Trump-Putin summit.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied the report, telling AFP it was “completely false.”

Iceland said it was not aware of such plans but was willing to host a summit to help improve relations between Washington and Moscow.

“The Icelandic government has not received a query with regards to this,” Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson said in reply to a question from the mbl.is news website.

“If officials in Washington DC make a formal request for the Icelandic government to organize a summit in Reykjavik we will look at it positively and make this our input to improve relations between the US and Russia, remember the summit at Hofdi house in 1986,” he said.

Trump has expressed admiration for Putin, and only reluctantly accepted US intelligence’s conclusion that hackers acting on the Russian strongman’s authority interfered in the US elections.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Friday, Trump hinted that he may lift sanctions imposed on Russia over Moscow’s alleged cyber attacks if Russia helps the US on key goals such as fighting jihadist groups.

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