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Congress needs crisis management strategy and team ASAP

By Asad Mirza

The 3Cs: Covid, China and Climate Change dominated the 47th annual G-7 Summit in Cornwall, UK. But overall the leaders were not able to present a united stand on any major issue.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted the summit to showcase his brand of ‘Global Britain’, after Brexit. But there were terse exchanges between the French, EU and British leaders and officials on the issue. In effect, the summit turned out to be more Biden focused and expectations were raised high on some real agreement taking place on the 3C’s before the summit, though that was not the result ultimately.

Broadly, Biden sought to set a new tone after the unrestrained Trump years. Most G-7 leaders seemed relieved to have a return to a more predictable and traditional US administration. France’s Emmanuel Macron welcomed Biden back to the “club.” But the final Communique showed that even Biden’s expectations to ensure a consensus on many of his promises fell short.

On the issue of Covid-19, the leaders of the seven most affluent western nations seemed united, but there was a difference of opinion on the way forward. Earlier, they had shown commitment to donate 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next year to poorer countries. But in reality the bloc fell short of its own goal — 613 million new doses pledged, instead of a billion.

Even so, the vaccine effort gave Biden some help with his China push. Biden has criticised China for a transactional brand of vaccine diplomacy, where the shots are being doled out for geopolitical advantage. Biden called on democracies to counter China and Russia by donating vaccines equally and based on need, without seeking favours in return.

On the second day of the summit, US unveiled plans to counter China through infrastructure funding for poorer nations. Promising to “collectively catalyse” hundreds of billions of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.

G-7s “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project was aimed directly at competing with China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Infrastructure (BRI) initiative.

However, several leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pushed back over worries about turning the G-7 into an anti-China group, suggesting any infrastructure programme should be framed as a more positive, pro-environment effort.

French President Emmanuel Macron also pushed back publicly, saying that the “G-7 is not a group that is hostile to China.” Macron was one leader who sought the middle ground.

China hit back at these statements dismissively saying that the days when “global decisions” were dictated by a “small group of countries are long gone”.

The final version of the communique skirted B3W, instead creating a task force to study how to spur infrastructure development abroad. It made no mention of BRI, though Biden renewed his call at a press conference, and said that, “I proposed that we have a democratic alternative to the Belt and Road initiative, to build back better.”

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced last month that due to surging Covid cases in India, he’d not travel to the UK, he addressed the summit virtually. He conveyed India’s commitment to “collective” solution to global health challenges, and called for “one earth, one health” approach, which aims for unity and solidarity among the states of the world to deal with the pandemic. He also emphasised the need to keep raw materials for vaccines easily accessible.

The summit’s Communique, which was issued several hours after the end of the summit, promises many things but falls short of what was expected to be achieved before the summit.

(The Op-Ed appeared in IANS)

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Yogi Adityanath in Delhi to meet Modi, Shah amid speculations

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath reached Delhi for a two-day visit to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The meeting comes in the backdrop of speculation that the BJP central leadership has concerns over the UP government‘s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

There are also reports of friction within the state unit which escalated to the Centre. BJP general secretary organisation BL Santhosh was in Uttar Pradesh earlier this month to meet party leaders and ministers to hear their concerns as the state prepares for the 2022 assembly elections.

The central leadership has, however, ruled out any change in state leadership, throwing their weight behind the Yogi Adityanath administration. The central leadership had also ruled out any change in the organisational structure of the party and said any change to the council of ministers would be carried out following consultation with the chief minister.

Following his UP visit, Santhosh had praised the UP government’s efforts during the pandemic. In two tweets, he said the UP administration, within a period of five weeks, reduced the daily case count by 93%. He also praised the decision to vaccinate parents of children below 12 years of age, calling it a wise move considering speculation that if the pandemic’s third wave hits it may affect children more.

Santhosh had taken feedback from the state ministers and MLAs, which had fuelled speculation about possible changes in the party’s Uttar Pradesh set up.

Media reports said that based on the feedback collected by the central leadership, it has been decided to go for a reshuffle in the Uttar Pradesh government as well as in the party’s state unit.

The sources also said that the role of former Union minister Jitin Prasada, who jumped ship from the Congress to the BJP, will also be discussed during Adityanath’s meetings with the central BJP leadership.

A well-known Brahmin face in Uttar Pradesh, Prasada’s father Jitendra Prasad was a prominent Brahmin leader in Uttar Pradesh.

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Is Jitin Prasada joining BJP in realistic politics?

New Delhi: Jitin Prasada, who joined the BJP recently, was set to join the saffron party in 2019 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and had even finalized his talks through a BJP MP at that time, but a last-minute ride to the airport with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra changed the equation and he contested from Dharaura constituency only to be defeated by the BJP.

 

Prasada blamed two minority candidates contesting from Kheri and Sitapur for the polarization in his constituency but he was hoping to be made the President of the UPCC but was overlooked.

 

After he wrote the letter along with Ghulam Nabi Azad and other dissident Congress leaders as a part of G-23 demanding reform in the party, he was appointed Congress in-charge for West Bengal but was bulldozed by Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, so he left the election midway, and now has finally joined the BJP.

 

He was prior to this a fierce critic of the Yogi government and had alleged that Brahmins are not treated well in the state. Prasada has formed Brahmin Chetna Parishad to safeguard the interest of the community.

 

Jitin’s father late Jitendra Prasada, a former Union Minister and advisor to both Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao, the senior Prasada contested elections against Sonia Gandhi but lost and after his demise the Congress gave ticket to Kanta Prasad and later Jitin Prasada in 2004.

 

But after his stint as Union Minister Prasada lost his seat in 2014 and 19 and also the assembly elections in 2017. However, after joining BJP he praised the Prime Minister and said BJP is an institutional party and the rest are either regional or person-centric parties and it can only deal with the issues faced by the nation.

 

Prasada is not the first to leave the Congress party. Himanta Biswa Sarma, Jyotiraditya Scindia are the other high-profile leaders who took the exit route from the Congress. However, it is to be seen if the BJP will benefit from him as the UP government’s image after the pandemic has taken a beating and the question is — will BJP’s gambit to lure Brahmins will work? The answer can only come after the 2022 elections.

 

 

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