<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress which is reaching out to OBCs through social coalitions in Gujarat in this assembly poll, has included young OBC leader from the state Alpesh Thakore in its list of start campaigners, which also has Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.Thakore’s name figures in the last of the 40-member star campaigner list.Thakore, who is founder of the OSS (OBC, SC and ST) Ekta March and is one of triumvirate with Patdiar leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani , joined Congress after meeting party Vice President Rahul Gandhi in New Deli in the last week of October.Congress has named Thakore a star campaigner apparently to blunt the BJP outreach to OBCs as the ruling party has made elaborate plans to rope in the community as a counter to Congress’ bid to wean away a chunk of Patel votes by siding with Hardik.Along with a host of senior Congress leaders from Centre and the state, the list also has Sam Pitroda, who had organised Rahul Gandhi’s US tour. Pitroda figures on number eight in the list of campaigners.Pitroda, who headed India’s National Knowledge Commission, and served as advisor to former prime minister Manmohan Singh on public information infrastructure and innovation, is currently the Chairman of Congress Overseas Department.Born to Gujarati parents Pitroda, who was a close aide of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, will travel a number of cities to campaign for Congress had early this month flagged his OBC origin in Gujarat saying “I am a Vishwakarma and the son of a carpenter. Reservation helps in uplifting those who are underprivileged, but that does not stop anyone from achieving his or her own goals.”Even in December 2011 ahead of UP assembly polls 2012, he had accompanied Rahul Gandhi in the Hindi heartland.Rahul had then, trying to reach out to Most Backward Classes, said, “Twenty years back Rajiv Gandhi thought of bringing mobile phones to India. Do you know who brought them? Sam Pitroda, who is a Vishkarma, “Barahi” (carpenter). He brought mobile phones to your houses.”The start campaigner list also includes names of film actress turned Congress leader Nagma and and cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who left the BJP and joined Congress in January this year before Punjab elections and is a now a minister in Captain Amarinder Singh government.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the chances of Congress party surges in Gujarat assembly elections scheduled to take place on December 9 and 14, the screening committee set up by Congress party has been flooded with over 2,200 aspirant applications for 182 seats.According to the screening committee, initially, they received 1500 applications.“After Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi visited parts of Gujarat by road, more aspirants want to contest on Congress symbol now. We are also surprised to receive such huge numbers of applications at eleventh hours. It is a tough job to finalise the candidates,” said one of the members of four members screening committee headed by Balasaheb Thorat, senior Congress leader from Maharashtra.When contacted Balasaheb Thorat, he confirmed that they had received 2,200 applications but refused to reveal more details.“Initially, we received applications from sitting MLAs and newly elected members of Taluka and District panchayat, its various committee presidents. Out of 32 District Panchayat in Gujarat, the 23 are controlled by Congress. Now, ex-MLAs, Member of Parliaments (MP) and ex-ministers are also putting pressure on us for a ticket,” said another member of screening committee requesting anonymity.”They feel that the chances of Congress coming to power has increased. If they get elected, they will have natural claim and chance of getting a ministerial berth in ‘next Congress government’ in Gujarat,” he added.Further stating that Rahul Gandhi has categorically told them not to succumb to any pressure, he added, “We have been asked to go by merits. We have now stopped taking applications.”A member said that before issuing a ticket, they are also taking inputs from multiple agencies and social groups. “Now, most groups have recommended the same names. In next two-three days, we are having the screening committee meeting in Delhi in presence of Congress President and Vice President and other in-charge of Congress party in Gujarat. In this meeting, names of candidates contesting in the first phase will be finalized and declared,” he said.The party leader who is close to Rahul Gandhi said that they have made a cluster system to avoid the division of votes among various caste groups. “In one Lok Sabha constituency, there are six-seven assembly seats. In one constituency, Patidar will be given a ticket while in other Thakore or any other dominant caste candidate will be fielded. So all these castes who are attached to Congress will remain intact during polls,” he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gujarat High Court today stayed the summons issued to Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan by the Government Railway Police (GRP) over the death of a man at Vadodara railway station during the promotion of his film “Raees.” Justice J B Pardiwala stayed the summons, issued by the Vadodara GRP, which had asked the actor to come to its office and record his statement. Khan has challenged the summons in the High Court. Khan’s lawyer Salil Thakore argued that such summons under CrPC cannot be issued to a person not staying within the limits of the police station. After considering his argument, the court stayed the summons and adjourned the hearing to August 4. Fahreed Khan Pathan, a local resident, had suffered a heart attack at the Vadodara Railway Station on January 23 when enthusiastic crowds surged for a glimpse of the superstar. Khan, who was promoting “Raees”, had arrived at the station by August Kranti Express from Mumbai. Pathan subsequently died in the hospital. Some activists had moved a magistrate’s court, seeking a criminal case against Khan, and the court had asked GRP to submit a report. No FIR has been filed in the case yet.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)