Morning Brief: Congress Drawing Up Plan For Rahul Gandhi’s Temple Run; Ayodhya On The List; IAF May Have 26 Squadrons In Two Years, Short By 16; And More

Morning Brief: Congress Drawing Up Plan For Rahul Gandhi’s Temple Run; Ayodhya On The List; IAF May Have 26 Squadrons In Two Years, Short By 16; And MoreCongress President Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Pitambara Peeth Temple on October 15, 2018 in Datia, India. (Photo by Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) 

Good Morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news brief for today.

Congress Drawing Up Plan For Rahul Gandhi’s Temple Run In UP

Less than 100 days before the Lok Sabha polls, Congress is drawing up a plan for Rahul Gandhi’s temple run in Uttar Pradesh, the Times of India has reported. According to the daily, which has cited Congress insiders, Gandhi’s temple visits would include a ‘rudrabhishek’ at Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, a visit to Gorakhnath Math and an impromptu visit to Lord Ram’s makeshift temple in Ayodhya. While Varanasi is Prime Minister Modi’s constituency, Gorakhnath Math is the stronghold of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Gandhi’s visits to temples, which started during the Gujarat elections and continued in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, are likely to get frequent as polls approach. In Gujarat, he had visited over 27 temples during the election season, including the Vir Meghmaya Temple in Patan, Bahucharji Temple in Mehsana and Khotidyar Temple in Varana. (Also Read: Gujarat Turns Gandhi Into A Bhakt; BJP’s Counter Should Be To Put His Skin In The Game)

IAF May Have Only 26 Squadrons In Two Years, Short By 16

The Indian Air Force (IAF) may have only 26 squadrons in the next two years against an authorisation of 42 as it retires a part of its ageing fleet of MiGs, The Indian Express has reported. According to the daily’s report, the timely delivery of the Rafale and Tejas fighters will do little to help arrest the depletion in IAF’s strength. Pakistan is likely to have 25 squadrons at the same time while China will have the capability of using 42 squadrons against India, the report says.

The IAF is planning to decommission six squadrons of ageing Soviet-era fighters by 2021-22. It will induct two squadrons of Rafale fighters by September 2022. The aircraft will start being delivered to India beginning September 2019. The IAF may get more Su-30 MKI fighters, Livefist has reported.

Priyanka Gandhi May Contest Lok Sabha Polls From Raebareli: Report

Priyanka Gandhi, who has taken a plunge into active politics, may contest her first Lok Sabha election from Raebareli, her mother Sonia Gandhi’s constituency, NDTV has reported, citing sources. She was appointed as the Congress general secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. Priyanka Gandhi has campaigned for the Congress in Amethi and Raebareli in the past.

However, when asked to comment on this, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said, "It is up to Priyanka if she wants to”. "I have not sent Priyanka and Jyotiraditya for just two months. I have sent them to take the Congress' ideology forward in Uttar Pradesh," Rahul Gandhi told reporters in Amethi.

Goyal Gets Additional Charge Of Finance Ministry In Jaitley's Absence

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has been given the additional charge of the finance ministry as Arun Jaitley is in the US for medical treatment. He has reportedly been diagnosed with soft tissue cancer in his thigh. Jaitley is unlikely to be back in New Delhi by 1 February, when the government has to present the interim budget. Goyal had substituted for Jaitley when he was recovering after a kidney transplant last year.

The next session of Parliament will commence from 31 January and conclude on 13 February. In Jaitley’s absence, Goyal may deliver the budget speech. In the interim budget, Jaitley has said, the government may have to provide solutions for “some of the challenges”. He hinted that the government may bring a relief package for the farm sector at a cost of Rs 3 lakh crore, Mint reported.

Political Crisis In Venezuela Deepens

Amid protests in Venezuela against President Nicolás Maduro, opposition leader Juan Guaidó has declared himself as interim president. US President Donald Trump has recognised Guaidó as the country’s interim president. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest against Maduro. The country’s military is facing calls to break ranks with the president. The loyalty of the military and other security forces is key to Maduro’s survival.

Maduro, who was sworn in for a second term this month amid widespread allegations of election-rigging, has driven the country towards authoritarianism and economic ruin. The failure of his oil-financed socialism has pushed the country into social and political chaos. Inflation in the country, which has the largest proven reserves of oil in the world, has reached over one million per cent.

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