Mallikarjun Kharge was elected as the new Congress president on Monday after he secured 7,897 out of the 9,385 votes polled. His rival, Shashi Tharoor, however sprung a surprise by securing 1,072 votes.
Kharge (80) is the first non-Gandhi leader after 24 years to occupy the party’s top post.
Making the formal announcement, Madhusudan Mistry, Chairman of the Central Election Authority, said: “As per the Article 18D of the constitution of the Indian National Congress, I, Madhusudan Mistry, hereby declare Shri Mallikarjun Kharge as the President of the Indian National Congress,” he announced.
While the figure for Tharoor was a little over the 10% mark of the total votes polled, his performance was impressive considering that Kharge was seen as the “establishment candidate”, backed by the Gandhi family.
“It is a great honour & a huge responsibility to be President of @INCIndia & I wish @Kharge ji all success in that task. It was a privilege to have received the support of over a thousand colleagues, & to carry the hopes & aspirations of so many well-wishers of Congress across India,” tweeted Tharoor.
Tharoor as well his election manager Salman Soz sought to downplay reports about his team complaining about the unfairness of the polling process. “In light of complaints from our UP team yesterday, we wrote to @INCIndia’s CEA immediately, a standard practice. Subsequent discussions with the CEA have assured us of a fair inquiry,” Soz tweeted.
On Tuesday, The Hindu had reported that though there were three All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretaries in Lucknow they were not allowed to vote. “We have made a point by point response to those queries after preparing a report. This is an internal matter and I would not be making it public,” Mistry told reporters.
Amid celebrations by Youth Congress Workers at the party headquarters, congratulatory messages poured in for the new party chief. “Shri. Kharge’s victory in the Congress presidential election is a triumph for the forces who place ideological commitment over personal glory,” Congress communication chief Jairam Ramesh tweeted.
“Kharge has always avoided flamboyance and has been the quintessential organisation man working in a self-effacing manner to advance the collective interests of the Congress party. He has the good wishes of all Congressmen and Congresswomen,” Ramesh added. More than 9,500 delegates cast their votes in the presidential election which took place at the culmination of the party’s organisational polls. As per Congress sources, the elected president will take charge after Deepavali in the presence of senior leaders in a programme at the Congress headquarters, reported ANI.
Supreme Court shifts Constitution Bench hearing on Delhi-Centre row over services to November 24
The Supreme Court on October 19 postponed the hearing of its five-judge Constitution Bench on the legal issue concerning the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and Delhi Government over control of ‘services’ in the national capital.
A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli shifted the hearing on the request of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, and said that he will be unavailable on November 9 due to an official trip abroad. The Bench then posted the matter for further hearing on November 24.
On September 27, the top court had said that a Constitution Bench headed by Justice Chandrachud would commence hearing the matter from November 9 on a day-to-day basis. Other members of the five-judge Bench are Justices M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha.
Earlier, the apex court on August 22 had said that a Constitution Bench headed by Justice Chandrachud has been set up to hear the legal issue concerning the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and National Capital Territory Government over control of services in Delhi.
On May 6, the top court had referred to the Constitution Bench the issue of control of services in Delhi. The apex court had said the limited issue of control over services was not dealt with by the Constitution Bench which elaborately dealt with all legal questions.
Delhi HC to hear pleas challenging Centre’s Agnipath Scheme on November 18
The Delhi High Court on October 19 listed for hearing on November 18 several pleas challenging the Centre’s Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad granted two weeks’ time to the petitioners to respond to the Centre’s stand on the matter.
In a “consolidated” reply filed in response to several petitions against the Agnipath scheme as well as those concerning the recruitment processes for the armed forces under certain previous advertisements, the Central Government has said there is no legal infirmity in the scheme.
The government submitted the Agnipath scheme was introduced in exercise of its sovereign function to make national security and defence more “robust, impenetrable" and “abreast with changing military requirement”.
“Reply has been filed by the Union of India. Petitioner prays for time to file rejoinder. Petitioners are granted 2 weeks’ time,” said the court.
The Agnipath scheme, unveiled on June 14, lays out rules for the recruitment of youths in the armed forces. According to these rules, those between 17-and-a-half and 21 years are eligible to apply and they would be inducted for a four-year tenure, and 25% of them will be granted regular service subsequently. After the scheme was unveiled, protests erupted in several states against the scheme.
Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.
On Wednesday, the counsel for one of the parties informed the court that there are two categories of cases concerning the Agnipath scheme — one that assails the scheme while the others pertain to recruitment in the armed forces under certain earlier advertisements — and they should be heard separately.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted that all the cases are essentially against the scheme and some “additionally” raise the issue of right to appointment under earlier advertisements, and, therefore, all the cases must be heard together.
The court, during the hearing, also questioned the petitioners if any right with respect to appointment was created in their favour on account of their participation in the recruitment process. “Employer has the right to curb process at any time. There is a Supreme Court judgement. What is the right created?” asked the court.
One of the petitions before the high court has sought a direction to the armed forces to resume the recruitment process which have been cancelled due to the introduction of the Agnipath scheme and prepare the final merit list after conducting a written examination within a stipulated time.
A petitioner, named Rahul, has submitted he had applied for the post of soldier (general duty) and his physical and medical examinations were conducted which he cleared successfully, and was waiting for the written examination. However, he said, he found on the official website that consequent to the implementation of the Agnipath scheme, the ministry has stopped and cancelled all pending processes including the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) of Indian Army recruitment for the previous recruiting years.
He said there were several candidates like him who applied for other posts in the armed forces but their respective processes were also cancelled.
Another petition, seeking that the recruitment process in the Indian Air Force as per a 2019 notification be completed without being affected by the scheme, is also pending in the high court.
Besides the pleas filed before it, the high court is also hearing those transferred to it.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked the high courts of Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna and Uttarakhand to transfer the PILs against the Agnipath scheme pending before them to the Delhi High Court or keep it pending till a decision from the Delhi High Court is delivered, if the petitioners before it so desire. Three petitions on Agnipath Scheme before the apex court were also sent to the high court.
The petitions before the Supreme Court have sought a direction to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the damage to public properties, including that of the Railways, during the violent protests against the scheme.
Lawyer M.L. Sharma, who has also filed a petition, has sought the cancellation of the government’s notification about the Agnipath scheme, saying more than 70,000 aspirants who have undergone training were awaiting their appointment letters before the pandemic and now their careers have been shortened by the scheme.
The Centre, in its reply, has stated that defending the Indian territory, which has a “peculiar border situation”, from external and internal threats requires agile, youthful and technologically adept armed forces, and the Agnipath scheme aims to reduce the average age profile of soldiers from the present 32 years to 26 years.
Woman gang-raped, tortured in Ghaziabad; DCW issues notice to police
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has issued a notice to Ghaziabad police in connection with the brutal gang rape of a 38-year-old woman recently, with the panel chief saying the attack reminded her of the Nirbhaya case.
The woman, a resident of Delhi, was found “wrapped in a jute bag, with her hands and legs tied and an iron rod inserted in her private part,” the DCW said.
According to the panel, the woman was waiting for an auto-rickshaw in Ghaziabad to attend her brother’s birthday celebration on October 16 when four men kidnapped her in an SUV. They, along with another man, allegedly gang-raped and tortured her for two days, it said.
The woman is being treated at a hospital in Delhi, but is in a “very critical condition”, it said. The notice has been issued to Ghaziabad Senior Superintendent of Police seeking an action taken report and a copy of the FIR along with details of arrests made.
DCW chief Swati Maliwal said, “The incident is very horrific and disturbing. It reminds me of the Nirbhaya case. All accused must be arrested immediately and strict action taken against them. I fail to understand how long women and children will be subjected to such extreme brutality.”
China has put a hold on a proposal by India and the United States at the United Nations to list Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Shahid Mahmood as a global terrorist, the fourth instance in as many months that Beijing has blocked bids to blacklist terrorists at the world organisation. The U.S. Treasury Department had designated Mahmood a global terrorist in December 2016.
The rupee plunged 61 paise to decline below the 83-mark for the first time against the U.S. dollar on October 19 amid unabated foreign capital outflows and a strong dollar in the overseas markets. Besides, rising crude prices in the international markets and risk-averse sentiment among investors weighed on the local currency, traders said. At the interbank foreign exchange market, the local currency opened strong at 82.32 but later pared gains to settle at an all-time low of 83.01(provisional) against the American currency, down 61 paise over its previous close.
Evening Wrap will return tomorrow