<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, briefed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence on surgical strikes, it is now the turn of another parliamentary panel dealing with external affairs, which had sought briefing from military and foreign office officials.Government is also believed to have conceded the demand by the panel chief Shahsi Tharoor. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs is scheduled to attend the meeting on Tuesday.The panel will be briefed on Indo-Pak relations with specific reference to recent surgical strikes. “Briefing by the foreign secretary, home secretary, defence secretary and Director General of Military Operations on the subject ‘Indo-Pak relations with specific reference to surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC)’,” a notice regarding the October 18 meeting issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat says. The meeting assumes significance as the government had earlier expressed reservation to send any military official to brief the Standing Committee on Defence. But later relented to send the Vice Chief of Army Staff.Since the committee under Tharoor has summoned the Foreign, Defence and Home secretaries, but also Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. General Ranbir Singh who had announced the success of the surgical strikes, the members will, therefore, get an opportunity to probe the DGMO on the operations. Tharoor has been careful not to go out of his committee’s brief to limit itself to discuss the matters concerning the foreign relations. His concern is that the cross-line of control surgical strikes have further spoiled the strained relations between the two neighbours with the nuclear weapons and hence the committee must study the implications.Last Friday, the Vice Chief of Army Staff made a short statement before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. But no questions were allowed. Conforming about the briefing, chairman of the panel, Maj Gen (retd) BC Khanduri said the army general had come to brief the Member of Parlaiments s, but no sensitive operational details were shared in the meeting. Khanduri said the agenda had included only a briefing and a question and answer session was not possible as details of the strike are top secret and cannot be revealed.The agenda for the committee’s briefing had originally been described as “Briefing by the representatives of the Ministry of Defence on surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC)”. Later, it was changed to the briefing by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Election Commission and Ministry of Defence on e-voting by defence personnel.The briefing by the Army officer came after complaints from the Congress that the agenda of the meeting was changed at the last moment and briefing on surgical strikes was cancelled. Sources said the issue was also raised at the beginning of the meeting by Congress members, but committee chairman Khanduri said that it might have been a ‘miscommunication’
BJP chief Amit Shah will be on a three-day visit to Uttarakhand during which he will attend the state unit’s executive meeting on June 26 and address a rally in Haridwar a day before, in what is being seen as the launch of the party’s campaign for the assembly polls next year. He will also pay obeisance at Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines.After the party’s attempt to dislodge the Harish Rawat-led Congress government came a cropper, Shah is set to spearhead a determined electoral campaign in the state which will go to the polls along with Uttar Pradesh and Punjab early next year, party sources said. The electoral significance of the small state has increased after the saffron party’s embarrassment in its bid to oust Rawat.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shah’s visit to the state and the decision to attend the executive meeting to fine tune the party’s strategy comes amid speculation that Rawat, who believes his political prospects have improved after he outsmarted BJP in the power game, could opt for an early election. He will visit the holy places on June 25 and hold a rally in Haridwar in the evening.Shah had recently told reporters that there is a “strong anti-incumbency” mood in the state and his party will storm back to power whenever polls are held.The party will also have to take a call on whether it will project a chief ministerial candidate. It has four former chief ministers, including B C Khanduri, B S Koshyari, Ramesh Pokhriyal and Vijay Bahuguna, who recently quit the Congress to join it, in its ranks.
A week after Harish Rawat won the trust vote in Uttarakhand assembly, nine rebel Congress MLAs joined the BJP despite reservations of its state unit on Wednesday.The BJP leadership inducted the MLAs, including Vijay Bahuguna, after a long meeting with state leaders, including BC Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and state unit chief Ajay Bhatt. The state unit had expressed it’s concerns about the fallout of the Congress rebels coming into the party fold in the elections next year. according to sources.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state leaders also conveyed that the political developments, the imposition of president’s rule and the trust vote had sent a negative message hurt the party’s image, sources said.There was speculation that a tenth Congress MLA may join the BJP later.The state leaders along with incharge Shyama Jaju held a meeting with party president Amit Shah.The final decision, however, was left to Shah.The state leaders felt Congress rebels joining the party could affect equations in constituencies, which the nine Congress rebels had represented and lead to more factionalism. The BJP leaders would also want tickets from the same seats.