September 21, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss who among Shashi Tharoor and Ashok Gehlot will be a suitable Congress President. We also look at a cave which revealed records of droughts in Meghalaya, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Shashi Tharoor or Ashok Gehlot?
In a first in over two decades, Congress has decided to conduct presidential elections with candidates outside the Gandhi family. The contest is set to take place on 17 October, with Shashi Tharoor and Ashok Gehlot emerging as the primary candidates.
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor is set to go up against staunch Gandhi family loyalist and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. While both individuals are strong candidates, who will serve as a better Congress President?
The Congress Party has declared that the presidential elections will be open, democratic, and transparent. Sonia Gandhi, who was the Congress President for 19 years, handed over the responsibility of leading the party to her son, Rahul Gandhi, in 2017. Owing to the second consecutive defeat in general elections in 2019, he quit, following which, the party lost a series of state elections. This has triggered the demand for a sweeping change in leadership within the party.
Rahul Gandhi, who is currently leading the Bharat Jodo Yatra initiative by the Congress, is adamantly refusing to return as the party’s president despite unrelenting demand from party leaders, including Ashok Gehlot. The decline of the Congress posed a boon for competing parties such as the Trinamool Congress and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.
The last non-Gandhi President of the party was Sitaram Kesari, from whom Sonia Gandhi took over the reins in March 1998 post-Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Recently, it was reported that Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor had received a green flag from Sonia Gandhi to contest in the presidential polls for Congress as the Gandhi family vowed to remain “neutral” in the contest. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh says nobody needs any nod to contest the polls.
Sonia Gandhi allegedly approached Gehlot to take over the party’s reins as Rahul remained disinterested in taking up the responsibility. Shashi Tharoor, a member of the rebel G-23 group, which has supported important changes within the organisation, declared that he is pleased with the new democratic principle in the party. However, six Congress units have passed resolutions backing Rahul Gandhi as party chief.
VIEW: Shashi Tharoor as Congress president
An academic, author, politician and former international civil servant, Shashi Tharoor is a man with a lot of experience in many fields. A third-term Lok Sabha MP representing the Thiruvananthapuram constituency, he served as the Minister of State for External Affairs (2009-10) and Minister of Human Resource Development (2012-14) during the UPA rule.
He had a long-standing responsibility in the United Nations, where he served as senior adviser to the Secretary-General in addition to his role as Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. He also served as Member-Convenor of the Parliamentary Forum on Disaster Management, and as a member of the Standing Committee on External Affairs; the Consultative Committee on Defence, the Public Accounts Committee; and the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Telecoms.
Known as the pioneer in using social media for political interaction, he was India’s most followed politician on Twitter until 2013. Although he has run into some controversies, his efforts as an influential politician cannot be overlooked. The scrapping of Article 377, a landmark decision in Indian history which recognised the existence of the queer community in the country, was heavily advocated by Tharoor.
After joining the race to become Congress party’s President, Shashi Tharoor endorsed a petition by young party members to implement the Udaipur Declaration. Stating that the petition has been signed by 650 people so far, he said he would be “happy to endorse it and to go beyond it.” The Declaration released by Congress had announced wide-ranging reforms, including wider representation and enforcing ‘one person, one post’ and ‘one family, one ticket’ rules.
COUNTERVIEW: Ashok Gehlot as Congress president
Ashok Gehlot, unlike Shashi Tharoor, is a career politician, who has risen steadily through the ranks of the Congress organisational labyrinth over five decades. His greatest strength for this candidacy is that he is well-versed with the intricacies and complexities of the Congress party as he has remained a staunch party loyalist.
Gehlot has acquired rich organisational experience, having held key posts in the past. Entering the field of politics during his student days, Gehlot was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1980 from Jodhpur parliamentary constituency. He also served as a Union Minister under the leadership of former PM Indira Gandhi.
He held the posts of deputy minister of tourism and civil aviation (1982-84) and deputy minister of sports (1984). He also served as the Union Minister of State for the department of textiles in 1991 under former PM PV Narasimha Rao.
Apart from being elected three times as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Gehlot can also boast of being appointed All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary. He belongs to the OBC community, a large and dominant group that is being aggressively wooed by the BJP. Steeped in Congress history, Gehlot can act as a bridge between the past and present in the party.
- Shashi Tharoor vs Ashok Gehlot Likely For Congress President: 10 Facts (NDTV)
- Shashi Tharoor endorses petition seeking ‘constructive reforms’ in Congress (The Telegraph)
- Shashi Tharoor vs Ashok Gehlot: Presidential race heats up as Congress election nears (Financial Express)
- Shashi Tharoor for Congress president? Here’s a look at the Twitter favourite MP from Kerala (Mint)
- Ashok Gehlot or Shashi Tharoor? Opposites in many ways, what makes them answer to Cong problems, and what not (Indian Express)
- Could Ashok Gehlot be the next Congress President? A look at his career (CNBCTV18)
- Ashok Gehlot For Congress President? Terms And Conditions Apply (NDTV)
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Shashi Tharoor is the better presidential candidate for Congress.
b) Ashok Gehlot is the better presidential candidate for Congress.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
The Congress Rahul Walks Away From
For the Left:
Hijab Row: What India Can Learn From Women’s March Without Hijab In Iran
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Horticulture project (Himachal Pradesh) – The Finance Ministry approved ₹1,300 crores for the state’s Sub-tropical Horticulture, Irrigation and Value Addition (HP SHIVA) project. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded the project to harness the horticulture potential of the region across seven districts. It’ll be implemented across 6,000 hectares to promote the production of fruits like oranges, mango, litchi, and plums, to name a few. The project will run for the next five years.
Why it matters: The project will help upscale the state’s horticulture sector to more areas. That’ll then help people and their livelihoods in rural areas. 400 horticulture clusters in 7 sub-tropical districts will be created to benefit 15,000 small and marginal producers. 60,000 people will directly benefit, with 1 lakh direct and indirect jobs in the sector.
State signs MoU with NALSAR (Andhra Pradesh) – The state government has signed an MoU with the NALSAR University of Law to get legal support for the YSR Jagananna Saswatha Bhu Hakku Bhu Raksha Scheme. The scheme to resurvey lands is expected to be completed in a year. The project needs legal support in drafting, reviewing, and preparing legal documents. Legal knowledge will be necessary to resolve land disputes and help educate farmers.
Why it matters: After a century, the government will resurvey agricultural and non-agricultural lands in the State. A statement from the Centre for Tribal and Land Rights (CTLR) said NALSAR had undertaken many other legal literacy initiatives. The government will use radar imagery captured by drones to resolve decades-old disputes and create physical and electronic records of land ownership titles.
Adani Port moving forward (West Bengal) – The state cabinet approved the Letter of Intent (LoI) to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones (APSEZ) to develop the greenfield Tajpur deep sea port. Adani was the highest bidder for the project and is slated to be a game changer for the eastern region. The port is about 170 km from Kolkata and can service large vessels of one lakh deadweight tonne (DWT). There was a delay in sanctioning the project due to legal issues.
Why it matters: With the go-ahead, Adani can now attract investments worth ₹25,000 crores centered around the port. The port will provide quick access to foreign markets for Bengal-based industries. It’ll also be linked to the industrial & economic corridor from Dankuni to Raghunathpur, currently being developed by the state.
CM unhappy with Punjab over polluted water (Rajasthan) – Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has written to the Punjab government asking it to stop the flow of wastewater into the state’s canals from downstream of the Harike barrage. He urged Punjab to complete the construction of the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) and Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) of the Buddha Nullah Rejuvenation Project. This’ll ensure untreated water doesn’t flow into the rivers.
Why it matters: Rajasthan gets its share of water from the Ravi-Beas and Sutlej rivers from the Harike barrage. Polluted water from Punjab travels through the Buddha Nullah and the industrial towns near the Sutlej River through drains. The water is then released into the Rajasthan and Ferozepur feeder. People, including farmers in the area, have complained of getting polluted water.
Cave reveals records of droughts (Meghalaya) – The stalagmites of a cave in the state have revealed a chronicle of severe and protracted droughts in India over the past 1,000 years. It also revealed droughts during the Durga Devi famine of Western India in 1,400 CE. Researchers have said this information informs the region’s present-day water infrastructure policies and discounts the possibility of protracted monsoon failures in the future.
Why it matters: The information revealed about droughts in the stalagmites has exposed the vulnerability of the Indian summer monsoon. Scientists say the monsoon could periodically lock into a drought-prone mode that could last for decades. Meteorological data from the past 150 years has shown only a single instance of 10-15% rainfall shortage that lasted between 1985 and 1987.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
₹2 crores – The minimum amount you need to pay for China’s first commercial space trip. It’s expected to begin in 2025 and will have a suborbital trip to the edge of space. Up to 7 tourists can fly on a single 10-minute journey at an altitude of 100 km.