Congress revisits history, again
Begins the second leg of Sangharsh Yatra from Faizpur, where the late Nehru had asked partymen to connect with the peasant masses
Two days after Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders gave a 'Quit-Government' call to the BJP at Sevagram, state Congress leaders have found yet another connect with party's history, when they flagged off the second leg of Sangharsha Yatra at Faizpur in north Maharashtra. That's where late former PM Jawaharlal Nehru had asked party members to go nearer (connect) to peasant masses to understand their problems.
Speakers after speakers recalled the 1936 event that was attended by Mahatma Gandhi, Rajmal Lalwani and Nehru, then treasurer and president of the Congress, which spearheaded the independence struggle. The same year, the Mahatma had established an ashram at Shegaon village near Wardha and renamed it Sevagram.
A month ago, the first leg of the yatra had passed through western Maharashtra, which has large NCP presence and yet allowed the BJP to spread out in the last general, assembly and local self-government elections. For Congress, regaining influence in the Western region is as important as reclaiming its erstwhile stronghold north Maharashtra, where the party's traditional voters in tribal belts can shape its destiny yet again. However, since the BJP has improved dramatically in the northern region in the last four years, the Congress faces a challenge in convincing voters through the yatra.
Flagged off by all India general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leaders of the state Congress on Thursday, who will travel together in a bus through five districts, culminating the yatra on October 9 in Ahmednagar, where Nehru had authored his most famous book 'The Discovery of India' while doing time in the local prison.
Nandurbar, which headquarters a tribal-dominated district, holds a special place for Congress. Party veterans say the place is considered lucky in terms of launching election campaigns and government projects. Right from the late Indira Gandhi to Sonia Gandhi, the town has hosted the opening rally of election campaigns not only in Maharashtra but also in the country. Such was Congress's domination here that since the first Lok Sabha elections, it hadn't lost here, until 2014.
And it was in Tembhli, a small village in Nandurbar, that Sonia and then PM Manmohan Singh launched the Aadhaar project eight years ago.
'BJP polarising society'
Kharge accused the Narendra Modi-led government of trying to polarise the society to deflect attention from the sliding rupee, spike in fuel prices and other important issues.
Kharge said that when the rupee fell during the previous UPA government's rule, Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat, had criticised it, but now, when he is the Prime Minister, he is silent over it.
Petrol prices were hiked by 15 paise a litre and diesel by 20 paise on Thursday, according to price notification of state-owned oil firms. Kharge claimed the government wanted to raise petrol price to Rs 100 a litre and diesel to Rs 78, adding that the crude oil price in international market was less than what it was when the UPA was in power.
"When the Indian currency was between Rs 45 and Rs 55 against the USD, Modi, then Gujarat CM, would constantly criticise us. But now, he is keeping quiet. Also, the government has collected Rs 12 lakh crore worth excise duty on petrol/diesel," he alleged.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil slammed Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray for his proposed visit to Ayodhya for expediting construction of Ram Mandir. "Do the drama (of going to Ayodhya) only after quitting the BJP governments," he said, while speaking at Faizpur.
"He has threatened to quit the government 235 times but hasn't acted upon it. If the Sena feels that the BJP government is anti-farmers and anti-people, it must quit."
Petrol cheaper by Rs 5 as state follows Centre
Following the Union government's decision to reduce the price of petrol by Rs 2.50, the state government, too, announced a cut of another Rs 2.50, thus reducing the per litre price by Rs 5 in Maharashtra. The state relief would be by way of reduction in the value added tax (VAT).
Thanking the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the move would give consumers much-needed relief. He said his government responded to the FM's appeal to the states to decreasing VAT. However, the state government did not offer a similar relief in diesel pricing although the union government has cut the diesel price by Rs 2.50 per litre.
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