Today in Politics: PM Modi at ISRO to congratulate scientists, MP Cabinet expansion on the cards

A day after his one-day stopover in Athens on his way back from the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will land in Bengaluru early Saturday to congratulate the ISRO team on their successful Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission. This will be Modi’s first visit to the state since the BJP lost the Karnataka Assembly polls in May.

Modi is slated to spend an hour at the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) after arriving there around 7.15 am and personally greet the scientists of the national space agency. The Bengaluru traffic police have already issued a traffic advisory, announcing restrictions on several roads in the city.

Modi had flown down to Bengaluru on the night of September 6, 2019, to watch the planned touchdown of the “Vikram” lander on the Chandrayaan-2 mission. But in the early hours of September 7, barely minutes before it was scheduled to land, ISRO lost contact with the craft, just 2.1 km above the lunar surface. This time, before the successful touchdown of the Chandrayaan-3 lander module on the Moon on Wednesday, Modi joined the ISRO team at Mission Operations Complex virtually from Johannesburg.

On his return to Delhi later in the day, the PM is expected to be greeted at the airport by BJP MPs, MLAs, and other leaders.

In Madhya Pradesh, the much-talked-about Cabinet expansion may finally happen. According to a PTI report, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will likely induct three to four ministers. A Raj Bhavan official told the news agency that the swearing-in ceremony would take place at 8.45 am. Among the names doing the rounds are those of Rajendra Shukla, Gaurishankar Bisen, Rahul Singh Lodhi, Jalam Singh, and Lalsingh Arya. While Shukla and Bisen are former state ministers — Bisen is the chairman of the MP Backward Class Commission — Lodhi and Singh are among the prominent Other Backward Class (OBC) leaders. Singh is the younger brother of Union Minister Prahlad Patel. Arya at present is the president of the BJP Scheduled Caste (SC) Morcha.

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The Chouhan Cabinet was last expanded in January 2021. At present, the state has 31 ministers, including the CM, while the figure can go up to 35, or 15% of the strength of the Assembly, which has 230 members.

At the end of his nine-day trip through Ladakh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is in Srinagar on a personal visit, where he is likely to be joined by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and brother-in-law Robert Vadra on Saturday. According to PTI, Sonia Gandhi may also join them. On Friday, Rahul left his motorcycle behind in Kargil and boarded a car for Srinagar via Sonamarg, with a stopover in Drass for a brief interaction with people. A Congress leader in Srinagar said Rahul would spend some time on a houseboat.

In Haryana, state Home Minister Anil Vij has cancelled his scheduled Janata Darbar on Saturday at the PWD Rest House in his constituency Ambala Cantonment because of a strategy meeting of BJP MLAs called to discuss the ongoing Monsoon Session of the Assembly. His spokesperson said that in light of the “meeting that is scheduled to be held on August 26 regarding the ongoing session, the Janata Darbar will not be held on Saturday, the revised date for holding the Janata Darbar shall be announced later”.

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In flood-ravaged Punjab, farm unions are up in arms, demanding a central grant of Rs 50,000 crore for the flood-hit areas and a compensation of 50,000 per acre. Having promised a swift disbursal of compensation over two weeks ago, but done nothing visible on that front since then, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann now finds the surging flood waters an easier challenge as Manraj Grewal Sharma writes in our State Watch column this week.

A 12-hour bandh has been called in north Bengal’s Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts demanding that the accused in the murder of a schoolgirl in Siliguri’s Matigara be tried in a fast-track court. The bandh, which will begin at 6 am and continue till 6 pm, has been called by the newly formed Gorkha Sewa Sena and supported by the taxi associations of Kurseong, Darjeeling and Kalimpong.

But the bandh doesn’t have universal support. Anit Thapa, the chief of the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha, which is allied with the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the state Vidhan Sabha, indicated that his outfit would neither support Saturday’s bandh nor oppose it. “Those who called the bandh will have to understand that the matter is sub-judice,” he said. Earlier on Thursday, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) enforced a 12-hour shutdown in Siliguri on the same issue.

— With PTI inputs