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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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Congress walks a tightrope in Rajasthan

New Delhi: With the political crisis finally resolved in Rajasthan and the Congress constituting a three-member committee to deal with the issues in the state unit, the party has acted by replacing the general secretary in-charge of the state. However, challenges still lie ahead with MLAs from the Sachin Pilot camp now demanding a bigger role in the government.

The party has assigned Ahmed Patel, K.C. Venugopal and Ajay Maken to look into the affairs of the state unit. The committee will be meeting all the stakeholders soon to deliberate on the issues and sources said that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is set to meet party interim chief Sonia Gandhi.

“We would not like to comment on the issue and BJP has made a mockery of the democratic process and has got a befitting reply” said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera, when asked for a response.

The ministers in the Pilot camp who rebelled were sacked by the Chief Minister including then Deputy Chief Minister Pilot himself, but later after the recent truce, the party had to find a way to accommodate Pilot’s loyalists, said sources.

Sonia Gandhi replaced state party in-charge Avinash Pande with Maken but the party tried to play it down.

“Organizational change happens in the party and Avinash Pande has done a good job in Rajasthan affairs,” said party spokesperson Supriya Shrinate.

The Rajasthan government has vacancies so MLAs from both camps are expecting a place in the Cabinet.

Prior to the rebellion, Pilot, Ramesh Meena and Vishvendra Singh were ministers but in the new situation, the Pilot camp is expecting a bigger share in the Gehlot government and plum portfolios. Former Deputy Chief Minister Pilot is expected to meet the committee members and explain his side of the story.

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BJP to move no-confidence motion against Ashok Gehlot govt

Jaipur: In a major twist to the ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan, which looked like coming to an end with rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot returning to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s camp, BJPs Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said on Thursday that his party will move a no-confidence motion against the state government in the special Assembly session starting Friday.

The BJP convened a legislative party meeting on Thursday, which was attended by Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, national General Secretary Muralidhar Rao, state BJP President Satish Poonia, national Vice Presidents Avinash Rai Khanna and Vasundhara Raje, national Joint General Secretary (organisation) V. Satish, Gulab Chand Kataria and Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Singh Rathore, among others.

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje also made a scathing attack on the Congress, saying the party has been ignoring the people and their problems ever since coming to power in the state over one-and-a-half years ago.

“It changed the names of our schemes; now we want to take the benefits of the Central schemes to the people,” she said.

She has all through maintained a stoic silence on the issue, except making a few tweets, besides recently meeting BJP national President J.P. Nadda and Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi.

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