N Chithra / Chennai

Giving a formal burial to his political aspirations, Tamil film superstar Rajinikanth on Monday categorically said he had no intentions of entering politics in future. He dissolved the Rajini Makkal Mandram, which was floated in 2018 as a springboard for launching a political party, which never took shape. The Rajini Makkal Mandram will now be reverted to its original form as his fans and welfare association.

The actor made the announcement an hour after he was trolled for telling journalists earlier in the day that his political entry was riddled with questions and he would take a decision after consulting office bearers of his Mandram. His statement, a day after his return from the United States where he had gone for a medical review, triggered speculation if he was rethinking his December 2020 decision to withdraw his intent to enter politics citing the COVID-19 pandemic and fragile health condition as he was taking immuno suppressant medication after a renal transplant.

However, soon the actor issued a one-page statement declaring he had no intention to take the political plunge.





Our Bureau

New Delhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has called a meeting of the Parliamentary Strategy Group here on Wednesday to decide about a joint strategy with Opposition parties in the Parliament session beginning next Monday.

This, however, led to a speculation for the third time in a month that it is to remove Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (65) as the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha. A top source in the party said removal of Chowdhury is certain, but it is not because of Mamata Banerjee. She said no names, however, have been discussed as speculated, though Sonia Gandhi did consult Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who was earlier the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Reports suggest that Sonia wants to oust him to develop good equations with Trinamul Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The party sources say he is certainly a bête noire of Mamata, but she would be happy even if Chowdhury is removed as the West Bengal Congress President as it was he who scuttled an alliance of the Congress with Trinamul Congress and forced it to tie up with the CPI(M).




New Delhi

Many names are in circulation to replace Chowdhury as LoP in Lok Sabha, but the party sources insist that nothing has been yet decided to replace him. They say he may himself step down if Sonia wants her son and former Congress President Rahul Gandhi (50) to assume the post.

Sources said that strategy was recently discussed on Rahul refusing to become the Congress President again as in that eventuality his appointment as the leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha can pave way for a non-Gandhi leader take over the reins of the party to head the Congress.

The electronic media is, however, agog many other names on who could replace Chowdhury. Topping the list is Gaurav Gogoi (38) who is the deputy leader of the party. Other name in circulation is that of the party's chief whip Kodikunnil Suresh (59), a 7-time MP. Other name in prominence is that of 3-time Punjab MP Ravneet Singh Bittu (45), who was made temporarily the deputy leader in place of Gogoi, who was busy in Assam during the Assembly elections.

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