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Verbal volleys that made all take notice

The year 2017 saw some dramatic statements being delivered. What was said made headlines, fuelled speculation, gave rise to controversies and even evoked laughter. Sangeeta Pranvendra presentsGehlot fires a veiled barbAccepting congratulations from partymen after the Congress victory in Punjab Assembly polls, former chief minister Ashok Gehlot fired a veiled barb at the PCC chief Sachin Pilot. He said, “Opportunity comes gradually. I became the chief minister after serving as PCC chief for the third time, 14 years after my first appointment to the post. The old will make way for the new. It is our duty to encourage the new generation and it is the duty of the new generation to take everyone along.Compulsive ‘offender’The BJP MLA from Ramgarh, Alwar, was busy shooting off his mouth all through the year. He started with announcing Pahlu Khan’s postmortem report even before the hospital. The year ends with his statement on roughing up cow smugglers. When asked about an alleged cow smuggler being roughed up by villagers, he said, “Gautaskari karte hain isliye maar khaate hain. Maar khaane ke liye gaye hi kyon? Gautaskari karoge to yun hi maroge kyonki janta mein gai ke prati aastha hai.” (they are beaten because they smuggle cows. Why did they go to get beaten. This is how you will get killed if you smuggle and slaughter cows because people have reverence for cows.)Daring the PMThe occasion was of celebration for the party as a post office passport seva kendra was being inaugurated in Kota, but the BJP MLA from Ladpura in Kota thought it to be the opportune time to press for airport demand. He declared, “Kota airport is apparently meant for political leaders and general public of Kota as only small aircraft of political leaders can land here. We will not let aircraft of VIPs land in Kota even if the aircraft of Prime Minister arrives here.”Nose that made newsDuring the controversy created over the Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie Padmavati, Mahipal Makrana, the state president of Shri Rajput Karni Sena issued the dire warning to chop off Deepika’s nose, “Rajputs never raise a hand on women but if need be, we will do to Deepika what Lakshman did to Shurpanakha.”Clarion callWhen asked about the encounter of the gangster Anandpal Singh by Rajasthan SOG, the state home minister Gulabchand Kataria said, “I was sleeping and not aware about it. The chief minister called me and informed me about it.”

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Of trunk call & divine intervention

In this crucial year, BJP’s state leadership will also like to keep close to its traditional lines more so when the Opposition Congress has earned some amount of respect in the Gujarat assembly elections. When we speak of Gujarat polls, the recent visits of political stalwarts to Somnath Temple had created a ripple which is so very vivid still in our minds. A healthy relation between those in power and a mahant reflects peace in society. While the party will try to ensure that its popularity remains intact, blessings of the mahant from the Lord’s house will remain as an icing for a better tomorrow. And in Rajasthan, for any auspicious and momentous event, political parties, irrespective of the colour, industrialists and the aam aadmi seek the blessings of Moti Dungri and the Mahant.”
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–><!–end of breadcrumbx–>Of trunk call & divine intervention Vasundhara Raje
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written ByAvanindra Mishra <!–end of artlbotbor–>Monday 1 January 2018 4:52 ISTMust readExplosion after fire in Jodhpur hotelNight riders who believe serving people is the best way to ring in New Year<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>This is time for a major TRUNK CALL. It’s ballot time and whatever be the colour, caste or creed… divine blessings are the most sought after thing as the state readies for a KURUKSHETRA by the end of this year. And in Jaipur when we speak of such issues, blessings of the chief priest of Moti Dungri Ganesh Temple is the ultimate, one can think of.2018 begins with the implementation of the model code of conduct in three districts and will witness bypolls on two parliamentary and one assembly constituency in January itself. The BJP has a task ahead to keep its traditional ‘saffron’ vote bank intact and counter any anti-incumbency within party ranks.In this crucial year, BJP’s state leadership will also like to keep close to its traditional lines more so when the Opposition Congress has earned some amount of respect in the Gujarat assembly elections. When we speak of Gujarat polls, the recent visits of political stalwarts to Somnath Temple had created a ripple which is so very vivid still in our minds. A healthy relation between those in power and a mahant reflects peace in society. While the party will try to ensure that its popularity remains intact, blessings of the mahant from the Lord’s house will remain as an icing for a better tomorrow. And in Rajasthan, for any auspicious and momentous event, political parties, irrespective of the colour, industrialists and the aam aadmi seek the blessings of Moti Dungri and the Mahant.

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
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Rajinikanth takes the plunge: From Amitabh Bachchan to Vinod Khanna, 11 Bollywood stars who joined politics

Announcing his political debut, Tamil superstar Rajinikanth on Sunday said he will launch his own party which will contest all 234 constituencies in the next assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. The actor, who enjoys a cult status in the Tamil cinema, is the latest in the long line of cinestars who have influenced politics in the Southern state.In India, people from all walks of life – from sports to glamour – have tried their luck in politics. While some have been quite successful and reached the highest echelons of power, the same can not be said about others. While politics in southern states is more accommodating to filmstars, the bumpy road of politics is less suited for people from Hindi film industry.While actors like Sunil Dutt and Shatrughan Sinha had a successful career as politicians, political journey of Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda had a premature death. Here we list some of the Bollywood A-listers who took the political plunge:Also readTamil Nadu: Rajinikanth to float political party, says, will contest next assembly polls1- Sunil Dutt: As an actor, Sunil Dutt ruled Bollywood in 1970s and 80s with back to back hits. After a successful film career, the actor decided to join politics in 1984 and contested his first Lok Sabha election from Mumbai North West seat on a Congress ticket. Preoccupied with a case against his son Sanjay Dutt, Sunil did not contest 1996 and 1998 elections. He decided to again contest Lok Sabha election in 1999 and won. Later, he won from the same seat in 2000 and 2004 as well. After the Congress formed a government at the Centre in 2004, Sunil Dutt became a Union minister for the first time. He was given the charge of Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. During his political career, he appeared in brief roles in several films with the last being Munna Bhai MBBS starring his son Sanjay. He died on May 25, 2005. 2- Shatrughan Sinha: Known by his many nicknames, Shatrughan Sinha gave several hit films in the 1970s and 1980s before joining politics in early 1990s. He often describes his first election as a mistake as he contested against his friend Rajesh Khanna on the insistence of senior BJP leader LK Advani. He lost the by-election for New Delhi Lok Sabha seat to Khanna. He was later sent to Rajya Sabha by the BJP in 1996 and 2002. In 2003, he was made the Minister of Health and Family Welfare and was later shifted to the Ministry of Shipping. He contested from the Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar during the 2009 general elections and defeated Shekhar Suman. He won from the seat in 2014 as well. Currently, the politician-actor has been sidelined by the BJP leadership and often takes anti-party stance on Twitter. 3- Rajesh Khanna: Hailed as India’s first superstar after 15 consecutive solo superhits between 1969 and 1972, Rajesh Khanna first campaigned for the Congress party in 1984 general elections. His first electoral battle was against BJP stalwart Lal Krishna Advani from the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat in 1991. He narrowly lost to Advani by nearly 1500 votes. He, however, got a chance to contest from the seat only a year later when Advani resigned to retain his Gandhinagar seat. This time, his fight was with his Bollywood friend Shatrughan Sinha. He won the seat by over 26,000 votes but never forgave Sinha for contesting against him. This was his last electoral battle. He died on July 18, 2012.4- Raj Babbar: Known for his roles in films like ‘Insaaf Ka Taraazu,’ ‘Nikaah’ and ‘Aankhen,’ Raj Babbar entered politics by joining VP Singh-led Janata Dal in 1989. He later joined Samajwadi Party and was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1994. He contested his first Lok Sabha election on Samajwadi Party ticket in 1999 from Agra and was re-elected in 2004. He was suspended from the SP for targeting the then party general secretary Amar Singh. He joined the Congress party in 2008 and contested Firozabad by-election in 2009.In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he lost to General VK Singh from Ghaziabad. He was appointed the president of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) ahead of the Assembly elections in early 2017. He is very much active in the politics and campaigns extensively for the party in different states. 5- Dharmendra: Known for his roles in ‘Phool Aur Pathhar,’ ‘Chupke Chupke’ and ‘Sholay,’ Dharmendra joined active politics in 2004 and contested his first election from Bikaner Lok Sabha seat in Rajasthan on a BJP ticket. He won the election by over 50,000 votes. He, however, stayed away from the political limelight and did not contest the next election. He has since stayed away from active politics. 6- Hema Malini: A trained Bharatanatyam dancer and star of many hit Bollywood films, Hema Malini campaigned for the BJP in 1999 Lok Sabha elections. She was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2003 before officially joining the BJP in 2004. She held many posts in the party and was made official candidate of the BJP from Mathura in 2004. She defeated RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary by over 3 lakh votes. She actively participates in Lok Sabha proceedings as BJP member. 7- Jaya Prada: Known for her roles in ‘Sharaabi’ and ‘Aakhree Raasta’ opposite Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Prada gave many hit films in Hindi and regional cinema before joining the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1994 at the invitation of its founder NT Rama Rao. She held many posts in the party but left the TDP to join Samajwadi Party after differences with the party chief N Chandrababu Naidu. She contested from Rampur Lok Sabha seat in UP during the 2004 general elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket and was elected with a margin of more than 85000 votes.She is known to be close to ex-Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh who was once General Secretary of the Samajwadi Party. She. along with Singh was expelled from the party in 2010. The two floated their own party, Rashtriya Lok Manch, in 2011. She contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from the Bijnor seat on an RLD ticket but lost. 8- Amitabh Bachchan: A long-time friend of Rajiv Gandhi, Amitabh Bachchan joined politics in 1984 at the peak of his career. He contested from Allahabad Lok Sabha seat against HN Bahuguna and won by polling 68.2% of the total votes. He quit politics after his name appeared in the Bofors scandal. He later grew close to Samajwadi Party but never officially joined the party. 9- Jaya Bachchan: In 1984, when Amitabh Bachchan contested from Allahabad Lok Sabha seat, his wife Jaya went around the city asking for votes as “moohdikhai” – the traditional gift to a bride on her unveiling the face for the first time – as the city was her in-laws’ home. She did not join active politics until her family grew close to the Samajwadi Party in light of Bachchans’ friendship with Amar Singh. She was first elected to Rajya Sabha in 2004 as a Samajwadi Party candidate and has since been the member of the Upper House of the Parliament. 10- Vinod Khanna: The Bollywood actor who wore many suits during his life including that of a monk, Vinod Khanna joined active politics in 1997 and contested from Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha from the same seat in 1999. He was made the Minister for Culture and Tourism in July 2002 and was later shifted to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) as Minister of State. He won the re-election from Gurdaspur in 2004 but lost the seat to Congress’ Partap Singh Bajwa in 2009. He won the seat again in 2014 and remained an MP until his death on April 27, 2017.11- Govinda: After a successful career in films, in 2004, Govinda decided to take a plunge into politics. He contested from Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency on a Congress ticket against five-term incumbent and Union Minister Ram Naik. He won the seat by over 50,000 votes. He, however, was heavily criticised for his absenteeism from the Parliament. He was also said to be inaccessible to his constituents while he continued with his film career, giving hits like Partner. He did not seek re-election in 2009 and has shown no interest in politics since then.

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Looking forward-2018: A possible make or break year for Rahul Gandhi

Indian politics in 2017 virtually followed the trajectory of the past couple of years. A predominately saffron domination interspersed by pockets of opposition resistance. But overall the polity has slowly shifted towards right with BJP slowly and steadily becoming the numero-uno force in India, with its government in 19 states of the country, either directly or in alliance. Yet, as we turn the chapter of another year, the opposition is hopeful of breaking the pattern, of putting up a real fight in 2019 general elections. Is it a misplaced bravado, just a delusion based on one-off Gujarat results? 2018 will provide strong clues in that direction. The elections to crucial battleground states of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are lined up in the coming year. These states in total have 93 Lok Sabha seats and in 2014 BJP had won a staggering 79 of those seats. Hence these states are vital in the national perspective and 2018 would be a fair indicator if BJP can repeat its stupendous performance in the next general elections. Karnataka is only the major state which is currently under Congress control. Slated to go to polls in April, it is number 1 in Amit Shah’s priority as he looks to reclaim the state under saffron fold. Shah is spending New Year’s Eve in Karnataka and already the state unit has launched a spirited campaign to dislodge Siddaramaiah. And here is where Rahul Gandhi needs to act, and act fast. In Gujarat, we saw he did a commendable job in galvanising the rural discontent against BJP government for Congress. But he failed to sway the swing voters who finally made all the difference. PM Modi’s masterstroke of changing the narrative in the last phase saved BJP from blushes. Rahul Gandhi needs to be proactive in Karnataka from the word go. Congress morale is currently in high after an improved performance in Gujarat. But a reversal in Karnataka can again get them to square one. Also readLooking forward – 2018: Amit Malviya sees a positive disruption in social mediaFor Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, Rahul needs to fix the leadership issue. Congress needs a strong state leader to counter BJP’s aggressive onslaught and rock-solid organisation in each of these states. Empowering the younger generation is the only way out. In Madhya Pradesh, Congress is heavily divided into several factions. Each work on their own accord, without any central planning thus giving Shivraj Singh Chouhan a free pass. Can Rahul manage the senior leaders and give a free-hand to Jyotiraditya Scindia? It may determine the fate of Congress in the state. Mandsaur agitation showed the extent of farmer’s anger in MP. A charismatic leader may just tip the scale in Congress’ favour in this BJP stronghold. Similarly for Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot needs full backing of the High Command to oust Vasundhara Raje government, which has been plagued by many problems recently. Former CM Ashok Gehlot did a stellar job for the party in Gujarat. It will be up to Rahul to give him a respectable position without upsetting the current equation in Rajasthan and giving Pilot the full authority to run the campaign, like Captain Amarinder did in Punjab. Also read2017: A year of roller-coaster India-China relationshipIn Chhattisgarh, post the Ajit Jogi era, Congress has seen a bit of void in leadership talent. Here Rahul’s job is to scout for a leader who can take on the formidable Raman Singh. It’s not that winning these states is any guarantee to winning the General election. In 2003, BJP did commendably well in these states and then slumped to an unexpected loss in 2004. But for 132-year-old Congress gasping for life, state victories or even improved performance in some of the states will provide much needed fillip to its sagging fortunes. And more importantly, it will earn Rahul Gandhi much needed respect among his peers. That he is not merely a leader who is the President of Congress by dint of his surname, he actually has the mettle to challenge the Shah-Modi campaign. It will help Congress to get the opposition united in 2019. A BSP in UP or DMK in Tamil Nadu or even the Left, TMC may only be inclined to support Congress, if they think Rahul Gandhi has a realistic chance of becoming the next PM of India.That’s why 2018 is so politically important. A clean sheet for BJP in this year would mean Congress staring down the barrel before the 2019 LS Polls. It would significantly reduce Rahul’s legitimacy to stake claim as being the natural leader of the opposition camp. Many regional satraps will be more than willing to occupy that position. Hence 2018’s Congress fight with BJP will have the larger subtext of Rahul Gandhi establishing himself as first among the equals in the opposition camp. He has several tricky decisions to make, about how to counter BJP’s Hindutva agenda and countering their development message. Truly a tricky year in offing for the Janeu-dhari Brahmin which may make or break his political career.

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
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Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Will Alia Bhatt say yes to Priyanka Chopra?
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars

The Curious Cases of Lalu Prasad Yadav

Bihar’s socio-political landscape is still replete with stories of Karpoori Thakur, who faced stiff upper caste resentment for implementing 26 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), when he became the state Chief Minister (CM) in 1977. The political decision cost him his job, but the social division was to play a big role in the emergence of another towering leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav.A byproduct of the popular 1974-75 JP movement, Lalu became Bihar’s CM in 1990. He quelled protests triggered by a move to grant reservation to OBCs, this time by the Central government. The social division became even sharper. Vast chunks of population felt liberated and new breeds of politicians, bureaucrats and criminals rose in the post-Mandal era. Bihar came to be known as a byword for violence, poverty and corruption.Politicians had espoused the cause of the poor, but Lalu was able to merchandise the dream of subaltern empowerment, dwarfing the Opposition with the energy of his populism and his ability to manipulate people and events. He turned his Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) into a private limited concern by sheer force of personality and political indispensability.But, in 2000, the Yadav strongman had to install wife Rabri Devi as CM when he got mired into Bihar’s fodder scam, relating to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 1,000 crore from government accounts in various districts in the name of cattle fodder and medicine spends. But commands would flow from him and were obeyed. Lalu’s next major setback came in 2005 when his old friend Nitish Kumar ended RJD’s 15-year rule and became National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) CM in Bihar.In the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Lalu’s party was decimated in his state. In 2013, a fodder scam case conviction got him five years in jail, disqualification from Parliament and a ban on contesting elections. He soon got bail.In the 2015 Bihar elections, something extraordinary was needed to block Prime Minister Narendra Modi from winning the state for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Lalu chose to forget his bitter rivalry of 20 years with Nitish and formed a mahagathbandhan that also included Congress. Lalu was back in business. But it did not last too long. In July this year, Nitish dumped the grand alliance and formed a new government with BJP’s support. It appeared Lalu was back in political wilderness.But he remains a force to reckon with, a man who can still bugle the support of a substantial following. He became a key player in India’s “secular” politics by stopping BJP leader LK Advani’s ‘rath yatra’ in Bihar before Babri Masjid’s demolition in 1992. He still retains some of the “credentials”. Soon after Nitish made the shocking alliance switch, Lalu had a premonition of his second conviction in the fodder scam. Fearing uncertainty may grip his party and Bihar’s politics, he firmly positioned his son and political heir apparent, Tejashwi Yadav, as the leader of non-BJP forces at an anti-BJP rally in August this year.On December 23, a special CBI court in Jharkhand (part of Bihar before the state was bifurcated) convicted him and others in a second fodder scam case. Those close to Lalu say, the leader has been dreading the month of December, since he was arrested for the first time in the 1970s when he was leading a student agitation in the same month. In 1997, the CBI filed its chargesheet against him in December.Political analysts say, the incarceration of the veteran leader, who has kept the party relevant on the national front through frequent interactions with everybody from commoners to top leaders of like-minded parties, will leave a vacuum in Bihar’s politics. But RJD insiders say that, unlike the last time, Lalu has positioned Tejashwi as the de-facto number two in the party. A recent RJD national executive meeting even passed a unanimous resolution that the next election would be fought under Tejashwi’s leadership.However, others wonder if the former Deputy Chief Minister has the political experience to keep the herd together. There have been signs of dissent in the party, although muted, since its grand alliance with Nitish’s JD(U) came apart. There are also chances of Tejashwi coming under renewed attack from rivals over graft charges levelled against him in an alleged land-for-hotels scandal.Lalu is already barred from contesting elections till 2024. But unlike his first conviction in 2013 which affected his party’s fortunes in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, RJD spokesman Manoj Jha believes, the latest will hardly have any impact as mechanisms have been put in place. Analysts, however, point out that in case Lalu does not get early bail, it will be a tough task for Tejashwi to lead an anti-BJP front in the 2019 general elections. The junior Yadav is also facing serious trouble in the hotel case. The Enforcement Directorate has registered cases against several members of Lalu’s family under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti and wife Rabri Devi also figure in the cases.The result of the last Assembly elections showed that RJD’s Yadav-Muslim support base has remained intact, but Lalu’s absence from the political scene will be a big boon for the JD(U)-BJP alliance.With the probe agencies showing a remarkable alacrity in proceeding against his family, it becomes quite a possibility that RJD may have to find its leadership outside the Lalu clan, to keep its political base intact, which is unlikely to be affected by his second conviction.Many in Patna believe that while charges against Lalu could be true, raking those at this political juncture reeks of some sort of vindictiveness. “Why else would the central investigative agencies go after only BJP’s political rivals and leave aside many other corporate corruption scandals? Why is there no action against scams like Vyapam,” asks Jha.But in Bihar’s emerging political landscape the biggest challenge facing RJD is to remain a strong Opposition. They party will face a stiff challenge in coming polls, both in terms of seat-sharing with allies and selecting candidates.Insiders feel Lalu’s conviction may not immediately affect the party’s functioning, considering that it has a solid organisational structure – helmed by Tejashwi and supported by senior leaders. But his absence could jeopardise the chances of 18 political parties, including the Congress, coming together to form a grand alliance against BJP in the parliamentary elections.Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi seems to have forged a bonhomie with Tejashwi. Rahul hosted Tejashwi over lunch at a restaurant in Delhi last November, indicating that he was not averse to continuing with him.It is still to be seen whether Rahul, riding the moral high ground during the Gujarat Assembly elections campaign, will distance himself from the Lalu camp or forge ties with the new crop of the RJD leadership.FODDER FOR THOUGHT1996Rs 1,000-crore fodder scam unearthed when massive embezzlement of funds from the government treasury in Chaibasa (now in Jharkhand) is detected and the animal husbandry department’s office there is raided.1997Mired into the fodder scam, Lalu installs wife Rabri as Bihar CM. But commands from jail would flow from him and obeyed. Released on bail in four months.WHAT WAS THE SCAM?Fraudulent withdrawal from government accounts in various districts in the name of cattle fodder and medicine spends. WHEN DID IT HAPPEN?When Lalu was at the helm in the 1990s.1998A case of disproportionate assets registered against both Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi.2005Lalu’s next major setback when his old friend Nitish Kumar ends RJD’s 15-year rule and becomes NDA’s CM in Bihar. 2006Lalu and Rabri acquitted of charges in the disproportionate assets case filed by CBI.2013Convicted in a fodder scam case, Lalu sent to jail for five years, disqualified from Parliament and banned from contesting elections. He isreleased on bail within three months. In the 2009 and 2014 LS polls, his party is decimated in his state.July 2017Nitish dumps grand alliance and forms a new government with BJP’s support. Dec 23, 2017Special CBI court in Jharkhand convicts him and others in a second fodder scam case. Sentencing on January 3, 2018.

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LG Kiran Bedi functioning like a leader of opposition,says Puducherry CM Narayanasamy

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy today alleged that Lt Governor Kiran Bedi’s “style of functioning is more like a leader of opposition than an administrator” of the Union Territory.Addressing reporters here, Narayanasamy said although he had written to the Lt Governor asking her not to “overstep her constitutional and statutory limits” and not to “interfere in the routine working of the elected government,” she had been doing so.”I have written letters to her on more than 15 occasions registering protest against her style of functioning. But, she keeps functioning more like a leader of opposition than an administrator,” he said.Also readPuducherry governor Kiran Bedi bans business class air travel by officialsThe Congress leader also minced no words stating that, “Bedi has not contributed for the economic development of Puducherry and in implementation of progressive schemes.” Condemning the “autocratic style of working” of the Lt Governor, the chief minister said, “It is really a sad development that she (Bedi) held meetings with the police officers yesterday to draw up a plan of police deployment in view of the flow of tourists into Puducherry on the eve of New Year Day.”Also readKiren Bedi slams Puducherry Govt for poor quality of education in government schoolsNarayanasamy claimed that Bedi has held meetings with police officers though he had arranged one with police officers to finalise the security plan for maintenance of law and order with the Chief Secretary in charge, A Anbarasu being a coordinating officer.The chief minister maintained that “time is not far for the current situation to come to an end.” Since Bedi assumed office last year, the Congress government in Puducherry and she have been at loggerheads over several issues including medical admissions, civic problems and induction of three nominated MLAs.

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Kamala Mills Fire: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam demands CBI probe or Judicial inquiry

Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president Sanjay Nirupam has demanded that the government should conduct an inquiry into Kamla Mills fire incident under the Judicial Commission Inquiry Act or through Central Bureau of investigation. He alleged that the government’s decision asking the BrihanMumbai Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to hold inquiry would turn out to be a farce especially when the civic body has failed to take any action against restaurants and pubs operating there in violation of stipulated norms. Besides, Nirupam said the inquiry should reveal how unholy nexus between the civic officials and restaurant operators led serious lapses in adherence to fire safety norms.Nirupam questioned how 96 restaurants were given license to operate by BMC in the Kamla Mills, an erstwhile textile mill spread over 37 acres of prime property in Central Mumbai’s Lower Parel area. He has squarely blamed the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for according permission and not taking due action against such restaurants for violations.Nirupam criticized the civic body for lack of periodical fire audit of these restaurants situated there. Further, he said there were insufficient fife safety safeguards including extinguishers.Also readKamala Mills Fire: Cops say no, but patrons say there were hookahsThe city Congress chief said there was violation of rules with regard to open space. ‘’Due to tiny open space, the fire brigade personnel had to struggle to reach to the spot and douse the fire. The Supreme Court in one of its judgment has directed that six meters of space should be available all around the building so that fire tenders can easily go and carry out their job. BMC failed to take any action despite repeated reminders,’’ he noted.Related Photos
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In Pics: The day after Kamala Mills blaze, families mourn
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In Pics: Massive midnight fire at Mumbai’s Kamala Mills Compound kills 14; many restaurants gutted He has criticised the BMC Commissioner’s move to suspend five officers and demanded that the government has to immediately transfer Mehta.

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Gujarat elections 2017: 30 seats saw other parties making it to third spot

A third party may be far away from making an electoral impact in Gujarat. It may also not be significant as a vote-breaker in many seats (most of the seats that saw a close contest between Congress and BJP had either NOTA or an independent candidate as a vote-breaker).But an analysis of the parties that polled the third highest number of votes in all the 182 constituencies has thrown up a surprise.Of the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly elections of 2017, 30 seats were such where a party (and not an independent or NOTA) polled the third highest number of votes.It should be noted that seats where Congress or BJP was at the third position in the number of votes polled have not be taken into consideration.Of the 30 seats, nine were won by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and six by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The All India Hindustan Congress Party also won three seats. The rest 12 seats were won by different parties including Vyavasthan Parivartan Party, Bahujan Mukti Party and Gujarat Janchetna Party among others.The parties that came third in the number of votes polled got anywhere between 1,900 to 40,000 votes. The party with the lowest votes polled but which managed to be in the third spot in that constituency was CPM in Dhandhuka. It polled just 1,953 votes but was in the third spot, getting more votes than NOTA.The party that polled the highest votes in the third spot was the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh in Sayajigunj seat which got 40,665 followed by the NCP in Umreth where it got 35,051 votes. The Rashtriya Samaj Paksh in fact got just 160 votes less than the Congress which came second on the seat with 40,835 seats.Seats where a party came third with least number of votesConstituency Party Votes polledDhandhuka CPM 1,953Talala BSP 2,171Dhoraji Hindustan Cong 2,199Seats where a party came third with highest number of votesConstituency Party VotesSayajigunj RSP 40,665Umreth NCP 35,051Morva Hadaf BTP 8,246

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We must save Constitution: Rahul Gandhi to party

Congress president Rahul Gandhi presided over a function to mark the party’s foundation day for the first time, and used the occasion to accuse BJP of attacking the Constitution and using lies for political benefits.Without naming Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde, Rahul said at Congrress’ 133rd foundation that BJP was resorting to deceit and lies directly as also “surreptitiously” to make a dent in the Constitution and remove its secular character. “It is our duty, duty of Congress, duty of every single Indian to defend the Constitution,” he said.The Congress president spoke of a “web of deceit” in the country, asserting that the BJP operates on the basic idea that a lie can be used for political benefit. “And this is the difference between us and them,” he said.”We might suffer, we might not do well, we might even lose, but we will not give up the truth, we will defend the truth,” Rahul said.”The central idea of the party was truth. We work with the truth, we fight for the truth,” he said. He said the Congress had many achievements to its credit, achieved with the help of Indian people. The party was ‘jointly responsible’ for bringing Independence to the country, he said.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders were present at the function.Rahul’s mother and former president Sonia Gandhi’s absence was conspicuous at the function. In a photograph tweeted by the verified handle of actor Riteish Deshmukh, 71-year-old Sonia was seen cycling and posing for a photograph in a resort in Goa.

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Rahul Gandhi plans party revival in Maharashtra

In a bid to start planning for the crucial 2019 Assembly polls where 48 Lok Sabha seats and 288 assembly seats are up for grabs, newly-anointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi will soon convene a meeting with Maharashtra leaders and fast track the revival of the party organisation and increase its tally. To that end, Rahul has sent a missive to the state leaders that he will soon carry out his own ‘internal assessment’ to determine the party’s strengths and weaknesses and later take a call on striking a pre-poll alliance or seat adjustment with NCP and like-minded parties.Rahul’s initiative assumes importance in light of the fact that in the 2014 general elections, the party had been routed in the state and bagged just two LS seats in Nanded and Hingoli. It also managed only 42 seats in the state Assembly. In the subsequent local and civic body polls, Congress again failed to take on the mighty BJP effectively.Former minister Balasaheb Thorat, who headed the Congress party’s steering committee for Gujarat election, told DNA, “The state unit is quite serious about regaining power in Maharashtra and quite open to ally with NCP and other like-minded parties. However, state leaders are of the view that the Congress party should neither play second-fiddle to NCP nor should it blindly agree for a pre-poll alliance. Therefore, the state party unit expects to soon meet Congress president and work out the future course of action.”As far as NCP is concerned, state spokesman Nawab Malik said his party hopes the Congress will take a lead to form a broader anti-BJP alliance in the state. “Congress should not underestimate the presence of NCP and other parties in masses, and seriously consider this factor while forging an alliance,” he noted.Rahul’s move comes close on the heels of renewed bonhomie between Congress and NCP who recently organised a joint rally at Nagpur on December 12 and stepped up their attack against the BJP.Rahul’s planIntends to take a call on striking a pre-poll alliance or seat adjustment with NCP and like-minded parties. As far as NCP is concerned, state spokesman Nawab Malik said his party hopes the Congress will take a lead to form a broader anti-BJP alliance in the state.

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Lok Sabha passes ‘historic’ triple talaq Bill

The Lok Sabha passed a Bill that proposes to make instant triple talaq a non-bailable offence with a three-year jail term for guilty husbands, a move that was hailed as “historic” by the Narendra Modi government. The Opposition Congress also welcomed the passage and called it the first step towards protection of Muslim women’s rights. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, was passed after an intense debate. The House rejected amendments proposed by AMIM, Congress and BJD. The Bill will now be sent to the Rajya Sabha for passage before it is forwarded to the President for his assent. The Bill is likely to sail through the Rajya Sabha, given the Congress’ stated support to the proposed law. Turn to P4In August, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the controversial Islamic practice that allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word talaq thrice. But instances of instant triple talaq have continued. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the Bill, called it a “historic” move that would ensure gender justice for Muslim women. He said Parliament cannot remain silent when the fundamental rights of women were being trampled upon. He said the Bill was “not about any religion or community.”“Even today such an incident took place in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh,” he said adding, the husband divorced his wife simply because she overslept. The Bill would empower women to seek remedial measures for herself and her children, said Prasad. Under the law, instant triple talaq in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp — would be illegal.Trying to score political points, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters that his was the first political party to welcome the Apex Court’s decision. “We welcome the move. It is a firm step towards protection of women’s rights,” he said. However, members of RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and Indian Union Muslim League opposed the Bill, calling it a faulty and arbitrary in nature. AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi termed the Bill “bad in law” and said its introduction would further alienate the minority. NCP leader Supriya Sule supported the Bill, with riders. She asked for removal of the three-year prison term provision. She suggested remedial action in the form of counselling. Muslim League’s ET Mohammed Bashir said the proposed law violated personal laws and was a politically motivated move by the BJP government. BJD’s B Mahtab said that he would not delve into the merits of the Bill and called the framing ‘faulty and flawed’.The government has said the Bill “empowers” Indian Muslim women by giving them a larger say in dissolving marriages, custody of minor children and the right to seek maintenance from their estranged husbands. Once the law is in place, victims will have the option of approaching the police and the legal system.

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EVM row: Samajwadi Party to hold talks with opposition parties next month

Deliberations will be held to chalk out a strategy for getting future elections conducted through ballot papers instead of EVMs, Chaudhary said, adding that invitations would be extended to the Congress, the BSP, the Left parties and the Aam Aadmi Party, among others. ”
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Thursday 28 December 2017 21:36 ISTMust readJaish-e-Mohammad’s ‘commander’ Noor Tantray killed in Pulwama wanted to join BJP in 2003 to eliminate top brassUP govt sends letter to Gorakhpur DM to withdraw 1995 case against Yogi Adityanath, 10 others<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>Amidst the ongoing debate over Electronic Voting Machines, the Samajwadi Party has decided to hold a meeting to deliberate over the issue with opposition parties next month, a party spokesperson said today.The Samajwadi Party has decided to hold a meeting for deliberating over the issue in the second week of January, party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said.This is an attempt by the party to maintain the sanctity of the election process and revive the confidence of the people in the democratic system, he added.Deliberations will be held to chalk out a strategy for getting future elections conducted through ballot papers instead of EVMs, Chaudhary said, adding that invitations would be extended to the Congress, the BSP, the Left parties and the Aam Aadmi Party, among others.

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Centre tables Triple Talaq Bill in Lok Sabha; support Bill, but needs strengthing, says Congress

The Congress said it supports the triple talaq bill introduced in the Lok Sabha but wants it to be strengthened to safeguard the rights of divorced Muslim women so they live a life of dignity with adequate subsistence allowance.Earlier, the bill to make instant triple talaq illegal and void and awarding a jail term of up to three years to the husband, was introduced in the Lok Sabha amid protests by several opposition parties.Introducing the bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was a “historic day”.But before he introduced the legislation, several opposition parties opposed its introduction saying it was arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal.Members from RJD, AIMIM, BJD, Indian Union Muslim League and AIADMK, who had given notice to oppose its introduction spoke against the measure. But members from the Congress and the Left, who were also opposing it from their benches, were not allowed to speak as they had not given notice. SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav was also seen opposing the bill.The TMC, which had opposed the draft bill earlier, was silent.Activists of ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), offer sweets to each other as they celebrate the tabling of the Muslim women bill – ReutersWhile JPN Yadav of RJD questioned the proposed three-year jail term, AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi said Parliament lacks the legislative competence to pass the law as it violated fundamental rights.He said while the bill talks only about Muslim women being abandoned, the government should also worry about nearly 20 lakh women of various religions who are abandoned by their husbands, “including our bhabhi from Gujarat”.Muslim League’s E T Mohammed Bashir said the proposed law was violative of personal laws and was a politically motivated move.B Mahtab (BJD) said while he would not talk about the merits of the bill, its framing was “faulty and “flawed”. He said if the proposed law makes the practice of instant triple talaq illegal and void, how can a person be jailed for pronouncing ‘talaq-e-biddat’.A Anwar Raja of the AIADMK opposed the bill.Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadvi, President of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), General Secretary Wali Rahmani, Khalid Saifullaha Rahmani Assistant General Secretary, Fazlurrahman, Secretary and senior member Zafaryab Jjilani, AIMIM President Assaduddin Owaisi during a meeting on issue of Triple Talaq in Lucknow on Sunday – PTISoon after the introduction of the bill was approved, Prasad wondered whether Parliament can remain silent if the fundamental rights of women were being trampled upon.He said the legislation was not aimed against any religion but was framed to provide a sense of justice, security and honour to women.He said the law was required as even after the Supreme Court had struck down the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ in August, it was continuing. He claimed that as recently as today, a woman in Rampur was given instant triple talaq by her husband for getting up late.Parliament has to decide whether the victims of triple talaq have fundamental rights or not, he said after some opposition members claimed it violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.”It is a historic day. We are making history today,” Prasad said.The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ and give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children.The woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.Under the law, instant triple talaq in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp — would be bad or illegal and void.According to the proposed law which would be applicable to the entire country except in Jammu and Kashmir, giving instant talaq would attract a jail term of upto three years and a fine. It would be a cognisable, non-bailable offence.LAW WILL BE AN INTRUSION INTO PERSONAL LIVES: KURSHIDAlthough the Congress backed the bill and asked for a few changes, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, a former union law minister, struck a discordant note, insisting the proposed law will be an “intrusion” into the personal lives of individuals and bring divorce, a civil issue, into the realm of criminal law.Among other things, the ‘Muslim women Protection of Rights on Marriage’ Bill provides for a 3-year jail term to those found guilty of pronouncing instant triple talaq to their wives.Congress’s communications department incharge Randeep Surjewala said Parliament must ensure the protection of rights of Muslim women and children under all circumstances.He said the Congress was the first political party to welcome the Supreme Court verdict banning triple talaq, and had hailed it as a decisive step towards women empowerment and victory for the rights of muslim women.”The Congress has always believed that the issue of instant triple talaq ‘Talaq-e-biddat’ is about gender justice and gender equity. The Congress will support any and every law abolishing instant triple talaq.”The present bill needs to be strengthened to safeguard the rights of women to a life of dignity with adequate subsistence allowance. Parliament must ensure protection of rights of Muslim women and children under all circumstances,” he said.Khurshid, however, said,”It is an instrusion into the personal lives of individuals. Taking criminal law into the family, you have to be careful. To make divorce in any form a criminal matter is unacceptable anywhere in the world.” Khurshid, also a Supreme Court lawyer, said divorce or consequences of divorce, are areas of civil law and not criminal law, which comes in only when there is violence.”Criminal law is kept out of family as far as possible, which is a general policy everywhere. Why are we bringing criminal law into something which is a non-existing factor? Triple talaq is no institution or institutional fact of life, the Supreme Court has made it very clear,” he said.Surjewala said Section 5 of the bill merely states that Muslim women are entitled to subsistence allowance without defining subsistence allowance and explaining the method of calculating it.It also does not clarify whether the maintenance awarded to a Muslim woman under Sections 3 and 4 of ‘The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986’ will be deducted from the proposed subsistence allowance or will it be in addition to that. He said there was no clarity on whether a divorced Muslim woman be entitled to one of the two.”Why should onus of proving instant triple talaq be on women? Like in every other law, the onus of proving the pronouncement of instant triple talaq would be on the victim.”Why can’t this law then envisage a presumption in favour of the woman, putting the onus of proof on the husband to establish that instant triple talaq was not pronounced by him,” he said.Surjewala said the bill should ensure payment of maintenance and/or subsistence allowance to women and children if the husband is in jail for 3 years, as evisaged under the proposed law.All Muslim women’s groups have asked an obvious question as to who will pay the maintenance and subsistence allowance once the husband is in jail, he said.The Congress leader also asked whether such a woman and her children would have the right to proceed against the estate–movable and immovable property of the husband, as the proposed law does not provide for it.”Where no such property exists or the property is owned by more than one stakeholder or is under mortgage/charge, does it mean that women and children would then have no maintenance?” he asked.Terming the bill as “very important” and “significant”, Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev said her party will work with the government to bolster the rights of muslim women.She said the Congress party will stand by any progressive legislation that adds to empowerment of women. “But the bill needs to be watertight when it comes to the financial security and dignity of women,” she said.Dev also wondered whether under the proposed law the burden of proof that instant triple talaq has been granted be on women and whether they be able to prove the charge before a magistrate.This bill is silent on how to arrive at a maintenance allowance, she said.

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Chhattisgarh: CBI court grants bail to journalist Vinod Verma in ‘sex tape’ extortion case

A special CBI court on Thursday granted bail to journalist Vinod Verma for allegedly extorting a BJP minister over a sex tape.In November this year, Verma had claimed that he had a sex tape of BJP leader Rajesh Munat, who later said that it was fake. Verma was allegedly blackmailing him, which resulted in his arrest.The police seized over 300 CDs from Verma’s house. The Ghaziabad Police confirmed that the journalist’s laptop and pen drive were also taken away. The case was registered against Verma at the Pandri Police Station of Raipur district under sections 384 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.The senior journalist, who is also an executive member of the Editors Guild of India, was part of the fact-finding team looking into the intimidation of journalists in Chhattisgarh.On November 6, a Chhattisgarh court had rejected Verma’s bail plea, saying the arguments put forward could not be discussed during a hearing on bail and that the charges against the journalist were serious.After the journalist’s arrest, the “sex-video”, allegedly involving Chhattisgarh’s Public Works Department Minister Rajesh Munat, surfaced in Raipur, triggering a political storm with opposition Congress and ruling BJP targeting each other on the issue.The Chhattisgarh government has recommended a CBI probe into the alleged sex CD row.Munat had told reporters that Verma and the Congress were trying to tarnish his image through the “fake” CD.Subsequently, the minister had lodged a complaint against Verma and Chhattisgarh Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel at the Civil?Lines police station in Raipur

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Union Minister Anant Hegde apologises for ‘change Constitution’ remark in Parliament, says it is ‘supreme for me’

In an effort to end the logjam in Parliament, Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde on Thursday apologised in the Lok Sabha for his ‘change Constitution’ remark.The apology comes days after the Minister of State for Skill Development had said at an event in Karnataka that he respects the Constitution but “it will be changed in the days to come”.The remark sparked a political controversy with the Congress demanding Hegde’s resignation.’If anyone was hurt by my statements I tender an apology,’ Hegde said in the Lok Sabha after Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge objected to his clarification.Ahead of the Winter Session proceedings, Hegde also said that the ‘Constitution is supreme to me.’Talking to the reporters outside Parliament, Hegde said, “I deeply respect the Constitution, the Parliament & Baba Saheb Ambedkar. The Constitution is supreme for me, there can be no question on it, as a citizen I can never go against it.”Hegde, a five-time Lok Sabha member from Uttara Kannada, is no stranger to controversies. A case was registered against him for allegedly using derogatory language against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at Kittur in Belagavi district.He had been slapped with cases for his “hate speeches”, including one where he allegedly equated Islam with terrorism.

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Congress Foundation Day | Constitution under threat, it’s our duty to defend it, says Rahul Gandhi

In yet another stinging attack against the Narendra Modi government, Congress President Rahul Gandhi today said that, ‘ the BJP operates on the basic idea that lies can be used for political benefit and it is the difference between us and them.’Addressing the party members on the 133rd Foundation Day of the Congress at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday, Gandhi said that his party may suffer or lose elections but would not give up truth.He also attacked the government over the Constitution row. “The Constitution, the foundation of our country is under threat, it is under attack directly, statements are being made by senior members of BJP and it is under attack surreptitiously from the back and its our duty, duty of Congress party and every single Indian to defend it,’ Gandhi said.Keeping up the ante against the government, Gandhi said, ‘What is happening today in or country is a web of deceit, The BJP operates on the basic idea that lies can be used for political benefit and it is the difference between us and them, we might not do well, we might even lose but we will not give up the truth.”He also highlighted the Congress’s “glorious” history, claiming the central idea of the party was truth and “we will continue to fight for it”.

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Lok Sabha passes Bill to protect unauthorised colonies

The Lok Sabha (LS) on Wednesday passed a Bill to protect slums and unauthorised colonies in the National Capital Region from punitive action, till a framework for orderly arrangements is in place. The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill gives immunity to slums and some unauthorised constructions till December 31, 2020.The immunity under the exisiting Bill ends on December 31.Urban development minister Hardeep Singh Puri said if the Bill is not passed, it will lead to “unprecedented chaos” in the national Capital.The legislation will give cover against punitive action on “as is where is basis” until December 2020, he said. Puri also attacked the Sheila Dikshit government for not coming out with a proper policy on the matter and said “it was the failure of governance of a very high order”.Singh said the legislation provides that no action will be taken by any local authority till December 31, 2017, with respect to encroachments or unauthorised developments as of January 1, 2006 on unauthorised colonies and village abadi areas that existed on March 31, 2002, and where constructions took place till February 8, 2007.The sealing exercise by the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee had created panic among slum-dwellers and traders in part of the city, with the legislation expected to allay their apprehensions to a large extent.Participating in the debate on the Bill, BJP MP Parvesh Varma attacked the AAP government in Delhi, accusing it of not coming out with a policy on unauthorised colonies or slums.Ramesh Bidhuri, BJP MP from south Delhi, referred to the hike in water tariffs and alleged that the Arvind Kejriwal government had deceived the people.He also blamed the Congress for its failure to come up with a policy on unauthorised construction issue.TMC MP Saugata Roy was to speak on the Bill but did not.

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JMC meets in its general clamour, passes 26 bills

Allegations, noise, disruption and adjournment marked the Jaipur Municipal Corporations general body meeting held on Wednesday.Despite the ruckus, Jaipur mayor Ashok Lahoti was able to secure approval of 26 of the 31 proposals tabled. Where two other proposals were sent for concerned committee for review, discussion could not be held on three proposals related to sewerage system, parks and Smart City works due to chaos at thehouse.Getting the proposals cleared was not a tough task as BJP dominates numbers among the 91 corporators at the corporation. However, the BJP mayor also faced opposition of some corporators of his own party.Congress councillors on the other hand were seen protesting from the very beginning of the meeting. One of the councillors startled the rest when he started beating self with a shoe, “This is how the public will treat us for not fulfilling the work expected,” said councillor Mukesh Chapol of Congress.The protest, however, turned tense in the evening when congress councillor Dharam Singh attempted to climb up mayor’s table and was apprehended by security personnel. While mayor suspended him for three board meetings, the meeting was adjourned as dispute deepened over the suspension.HighlightsFormer UP governor, BL Joshi paid homage. Now, procuring fire NOC a must for all institutions developed over 1,000 square meter area and offices on plot size above 100 meters. Fire NOC charges raised for commercial buildings. The proposal to levy charge on fire NOC on events cleared with amendment. Only commercial events to come under the tax ambit now. Cong councillor Dharam Singh Singhania suspended for three board meetings.

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CM Vijay Rupani inaugurates Science Congress

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel swung into action soon after the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday by staying back in Gujarat instead of going to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Himachal Pradesh CM, who is also from the BJP, and his cabinet members.Surprisingly, Rupani did not call a cabinet meeting as the general practice after swearing-in, and portfolio distribution among ministers is awaited.In his first public programme after assuming the charge of CMO in the new term, on Wednesday, Rupani inaugurated 25th National Children’s Science Congress at Science City in Ahmedabad. It was attended by 900 children from 30 states and six Asian countries, scientists, educationists and others. Addressing the gathering, Rupani said, “Former president Abdul Kalam gave slogan of Jay Vigyan that was added to former PM Lal Bahadur Shashtri’s slogan Jay Jawan, Jay Kisan. Kalam came from a very ordinary background but became a great scientist. His vision for India is showing us the path of progress. We should take inspiration from his life. This Science Congress has laid foundation stone for India’s progress that would bring our nation in top three position in world in the sector of science and technology.”His deputy Nitin Patel took charge of his office and held a meeting with officials to review process of purchase of groundnuts by government at minimum support price.Rupani also reached his residence in the afternoon and cleared pending files of the state government that were piled up on his desk after the model code of conduct came into force.

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New Bill simplifies bamboo farming

The Parliament on Wednesday passed the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that will omit bamboo from the definition of trees and allow its cultivation and trade on non-forest areas without permits. The amendment was earlier adopted in the Lok Sabha on December 20, and it was passed by a voice vote after a short debate in the Rajya Sabha.Minister of Environment and Forest Dr Harsh Vardhan sought to assure and remind the House that the amendment was meant only for bamboo grown on non-forest areas and thus bamboo grown on forest land will continue to be protected under forest laws. However, opposition members from the Congress, SP and BJD questioned Centre’s haste in promulgating an ordinance on the issue, just weeks before the Parliament convened. They expressed concern that the Bill would only benefit private players, ignoring the demands of tribal communities.”It is impossible to think that there was some exigency, there was some emergency unless there was pressure that was coming from some private industry to allow non-forest areas for bamboo cultivation,” Jairam Ramesh of Congress said while terming the Bill as misleading.In his reply, Dr Harsh Vardhan said: “I am shocked to see that you (opposition) can’t see the benefit of tribals and poor farmers who are going to benefit after the bill is passed.” He argued that the Bill will help farmers double their income and also aid in increasing forest cover. Prior to the vote, Ramesh and other opposition members walked out.

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Week-long impasse ends after meeting

More than a week-long impasse in the Parliament on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s insinuating remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh finally ended on Wednesday with Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley clarifying that the PM Modi in his speeches “neither questioned nor meant to question the commitment to this nation of either Dr Manmohan Singh, or Hamid Ansari.”The breakthrough came after the BJP relented to Congress’ demand in a backdoor meeting between Jaitley and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad. Congress, too, agreed that it would accept the clarification by Jaitley on behalf of the PM Modi.The Rajya Sabha met at 2 pm after getting adjourned twice in the pre-lunch session on the issue of minister of state for skill development Ananth Kumar Hegde’s alleged remarks against the Constitution.Azad said there was no question of party succumbing to any pressure and decided to accept the clarification from Jaitley on behalf of the PM because it did not want the impasse to continue as they wanted to pin the government on several issues.Referring to the removal of bindi, mangalsutra and changing of clothes of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother and wife at the behest of Pakistani authorities an insult to 1.3 billion Indians, Azad said, “As Indians we strongly protest and want to show our displeasure on the floor of the House.”As per the understanding the clarification was to happen right in the morning with the start of proceedings but the House got disrupted with other opposition parties demanding discussion on Minister of State for Skill Development, Ananth Kumar Hegde’s controversial remarks against the Constitution. Not to lose out, Congress too entered the arena demanding resignation of Hegde both as minister and MP.”If he does not believe in the Indian Constitution, he has no right to be a Member of Parliament or Minister,” Azad said.Sukhendu Sekhar Ray of TMC asked Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to give ruling if “a person, holding the post of Minister, has right to denounce Preamble in public and can he continue as a minister in the Government?”CALMING EFFECTBreakthrough came after the BJP relented to Congress’ demand in a backdoor meeting between Jaitley and Ghulam Nabi Azad. Jaitley also clarified that PM Modi in his speeches ‘neither questioned nor meant to question Dr Singh’s commitment to nation’

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Parliament takes on Pak dirty tricks

Political leaders cutting across party lines in Parliament condemned Pakistan’s mistreatment of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family in Islamabad and demanded efforts to bring back the former Indian Naval officer who has been captured and sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terror. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she will make a detailed statement on the issue in both Houses on Thursday. Jadhav, 47, was allowed to meet his mother Avanti and wife Chetana Jadhav across a glass screen on Monday. India has maintained he was kidnapped and implicated. India has said Pakistan had the mangal sutras, bangles and bindis of Jadhav’s mother and wife removed, disregarding cultural and religious sensibilities. The Pakistani press also harassed the two women. During Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, members of Congress, Shiv Sena, TMC and AIADMK protested against Pakistan. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, demanded that Jadhav be brought back. The issue was initially raised by Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant who questioned the government silence. TMC leader Saugata Roy described Pakistan as “hypocritical”. AIADMK’s M Thambidurai said that asking a woman to remove her ‘mangal sutra’ is an insult to the country. Shiv Sena members raised slogans against Pakistan in the House.Outside Parliament, Congress leaders Veepara Moily and Salman Khurshid called it a diplomatic failure on the part of the government. “MEA should have ensured a protocol for the family,” Moily told reporters. He said that the issue should have been taken up with Pakistan before Jadhav’s kin went to Islamabad. Khurshid, a former External Affairs Minister, said the meeting between Jadhav and his family was distressing and disturbing. “We expected better from Pakistan, the situation is unfortunately very grave,” he said. Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy reacted sharply on Wednesday and said that India should go to war with Pakistan and split it into four parts. The Rajya Sabha MP said that “serious homework” for the war should begin “right now”. “The treatment given to the mother and the wife is akin to Draupadi’s vastraharan that resulted in Mahabharat,” he said.Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju also slammed the “very irresponsible” Pakistani media over the heckling of Jadhav’s mother and wife. “Pakistan media is very irresponsible, it is not responsible like the Indian media,” Rijiju told reporters outside Parliament, assuring action by the External Affairs Ministry.India has moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, on grounds that procedures were not followed under international law when Jadhav was convicted, a rare contest by the two nuclear-armed rivals at the top UN legal body whose rulings are binding, but occasionally flouted. In May, the world court put the sentence on hold till the case is conclusively heard.

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AAP sharpens attack after LG rejects home delivery scheme

"The BJP is getting sealing (drive) across Delhi. The BJP has got the doorstep delivery proposal of government's services rejected. The BJP has tried to stop the file of mohalla clinics through the LG.
"Why does the BJP want to destroy Delhi?" he tweeted. Labour Minister and AAP's Delhi unit convenor Gopal Rai said the LG's decision to return the proposal "defied logic". "The BJP is resorting to dirty politics and taking help of the Lt Governor's office," he claimed. Rai alleged that the Delhi BJP leaders cared little for the city and their motto was to keep obstructing the works being done by the Arvind Kejriwal government. The Delhi Cabinet had approved the proposal for doorstep delivery of essential public services last month and sent it for approval to the LG. ”
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Wednesday 27 December 2017 23:00 ISTMust readSurgical Strike 2.0: Indian Army planted IEDs to surprise Pak; toll could be higher Indian Army crosses LOC to retaliate, kills three Pak soldiers <!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today alleged that the BJP was using the office of the Lieutenant Governor to obstruct in the works of the Delhi government, a day after Anil Baijal shot down its ambitious proposal to “home deliver” basic public services.LG Baijal had yesterday sent back to the Delhi government a proposal for doorstep delivery of basic public services such as driving licences, caste certificates and water connections for reconsideration.Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who had termed the LG’s move as a “huge setback” to AAP government’s efforts towards providing a graft-free governance, today took to Twitter to lambaste the BJP, wondering why the saffron party wanted to “destroy” Delhi.”The BJP is getting sealing (drive) across Delhi. The BJP has got the doorstep delivery proposal of government’s services rejected. The BJP has tried to stop the file of mohalla clinics through the LG.”Why does the BJP want to destroy Delhi?” he tweeted. Labour Minister and AAP’s Delhi unit convenor Gopal Rai said the LG’s decision to return the proposal “defied logic”. “The BJP is resorting to dirty politics and taking help of the Lt Governor’s office,” he claimed. Rai alleged that the Delhi BJP leaders cared little for the city and their motto was to keep obstructing the works being done by the Arvind Kejriwal government. The Delhi Cabinet had approved the proposal for doorstep delivery of essential public services last month and sent it for approval to the LG.

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Modi’s Pak comment: After Jaitley’s clarification, Govt and Oppn end stalemate in RS

The stalemate in Parliament over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh and others at a poll rally in Gujarat ended today, with the government saying the commitment of the former Prime Minister was not questioned.The proceedings of both Houses of Parliament were repeatedly disrupted over the past week on the issue, with the Opposition demanding an explanation from the Prime Minister over his “conspiracy with Pak” remarks and seeking an apology. In Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said the Prime Minister did not question his predecessor’s commitment to India.When the Upper House reconvened at 2 PM after adjournment due to protests over union minister Ananthkumar Hegde’s controversial remarks on secularism and changing the Constitution, Jaitley said the Prime Minister in his statements or speeches “did not question the commitment to this nation either by Dr Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister, or Hamid Ansari, the former Vice President”. “Any such perception is completely erroneous. We hold these leaders in high esteem, as also their commitment to this nation,” Jaitley said.Also readParliament: PM Modi didn’t question Manmohan Singh’s commitment to India, says Jaitely; Congress replies with thanksHe said many statements had been made on all sides during the elections, and added that the government “does not want the stalemate as a result of this to continue”. Responding to his statement, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “I want to thank the Leader of the House that he issued a clarification on the issue which was causing the deadlock for the last one week.” Azad sought to assure the government on behalf of the Congress that the party dissociates itself from any statement made against the personality of the Prime Minister, apparently in reference to those made by its MP Mani Shankar Aiyar.”If during the elections (recent assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh), any member of our party gave such a statement that was against the stature of the Prime Minister, then our party dissociates itself from any such statement and we would not want any word to be said against the stature of the Prime Minister,” Azad said. The Congress had suspended Aiyar from its primary membership and slapped a show cause notice on him for calling Prime Minister Modi a “neech aadmi” or a lowly person.After the two statements, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu thanked all members of the House for their cooperation in resolving the stalemate. However, Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal stood up to object, charging that the fate of the proceedings in the House could not be decided based on statements by only two people. To this, Naidu said, “We discussed it in the morning in the business advisory committee. Every member of the House is important. Let us not sidetrack the issue”.

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ED seizes Rs 26 crore assets of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today said it has seized assets worth Rs 26.61 crore of controversial arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and others for alleged violation of the FEMA law.It said it has seized the properties “in lieu of undisclosed assets held abroad by him” and the action has been carried out under section 37A of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).Section 37A of the FEMA stipulates that if certain foreign exchange, foreign security or immovable property is held outside India in violation of this law, the equivalent value of asset can be seized within India. The ED had booked Bhandari, reported to have left India for a foreign location sometime ago, under criminal charges of the PMLA law in February this year as also under the FEMA.The Delhi Police had also booked him for alleged violation of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) last year. Bhandari’s case first came to light after the I-T department conducted searches against him in April last year and recovered certain “sensitive” official defence documents from his premises. As part of these raids, the taxman is also said to have recovered certain emails that talk about renovation of a costly apartment in London in 2010 which was allegedly owned by Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi.Also readED attaches assets Rs. 21 crore of arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari case in black money caseVadra’s legal firm has denied that he owned the London property directly or indirectly. It also denied Vadra has any business ties with an arms consultant or his aides. The tax department had last year also shared a “seizure memo record” with the defence ministry to apprise it about the contents of these “sensitive” documents.

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Rajasthan govt needs more time for decision on farmer ease?

A minister-level committee chaired by Water Resources minister Ram Pratap on Tuesday discussed a study report drafted on the module of farmers loan waivers in Kerala and other states. The committee took the decision to examine the report deeply, which indicates the government wants to buy more time to make any decision on loan waivers for the agrarian community.“The committee will study the report and later will make decisions accordingly. We have to observe financial aspect as well, but we have a target to make farmers debt free. Hopefully, there may be a good news for the farmers in the new year,” said Prabhu Lal Saini, one of the members of the committee, talking to DNA. The chairperson of the committee was not reachable on phone for comment over the development, though. A presentation was given by the officials about farmers loan waiver during the meeting as well. Raje government appears to be in action mode on farmers loan waiver demand which the opposition has started making a poll issue. In Ajmer, Alwar parliamentary and Mandalgarh assembly constituencies bypoll the Congress will churn out this issue to woo farmers. RPCC chief Sachin Pilot, taking out a Nyay Yatra a couple of months back in Hadoti region, already indicated that farmers issues come at the top of the party.Congress is simultaneously raising the issue of farmers suicide making a pressure on the government. “BJP ruled states have gone and given farm loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. There is no reason why Rajasthan farmers who are facing severe agrarian distress and are committing suicides, should not be given a farm loan waiver. The government should take waive loans immediately,” said a Congress leader reacting to the development of the meeting. Though, the burden with complete loan waiver decision can’t be ignored by the government. The demand for waive farm loans up to Rs 50,000 per farmer would cumulatively amount to Rs 20,000 crore on the exchequer.Opposition raising the issueCongress is simultaneously raising the issue of farmers suicide making a pressure on the government. “BJP ruled states have gone and given farm loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The government should take waive loans immediately,” said a Congress leader reacting to the development of the meeting.Although, the burden with complete loan waiver decision can’t be ignored by the government. The demand for waive farm loans up to Rs 50,000 per farmer would cumulatively amount to Rs 20,000 crore on the exchequer.

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Sachin Pilot calls Vasundhara Raje sops poll gimmick

Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot on Tuesday took a jibe on Chief minister Vasundhara Raje touring to the bypoll-bound constituencies where she is showering sops and making new announcements. Terming it a poll effect, PCC chief blamed the government for not paying heed to the concerns of common man in its past four-year rule.Pilot made the scathing attack on Raje in Ajmer on Tuesday where he is campaigning extensively ahead of the bypoll. Focusing on rural belt, he visited more than a dozen gram panchayats, including Kumharia Bandanwada, Padanga, Satwadia, Jamola and held dialogue with rural folks.Addressing separate gatherings during his visit, Pilot attacked the government. “The Chief Minister has never taken care of this area in the past four years. As polls are nearing she is making populist announcements to allure people. She declares to open a college somewhere and assures to make roads and bridges at some other place, but the truth is people of the state have been deprived of basic amenities in the BJP’s rule”.Citing example of the government’s insensitivity, Pilot narrated plight of farmers and poor sections of the society. “Farmers are committing suicides due to debt, and in the CM’s constituency (Jhalarapatan) a farmer died due to severe cold while coming to his field for irrigation purpose at night . The government has deceived farmers as it had promised to provide electricity in the day time to the farmers, but even after four years this promise has not been fulfilled,” said Pilot, adding that government is privatising education and health sector which the Congress will oppose.

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Caste to starcast in bypoll flicks

Die has been cast for by-polls in two Lok Sabha and one assembly constituenciy. Congress has declared its candidate for Alwar while the BJP will declare name of its candidate soon. The party is working on getting caste equation right. BJP’s Kisan Morcha has asked for the ticket.Whether Alwar or Ajmer, both parties are concentrating on caste factors. All talks of contesting election on the issue of development is mere propaganda, the bitter reality is that both the parties are relying on caste arithmetic to select candidates. Congress has chosen Dr Karan Singh Yadav with an eye on Yadav community and the BJP too is seriously mulling over fielding a Yadav candidate.Even Ajmer, where caste is usually not a major influencing factor, this time expected to play a key role in deciding candidates. BJP is said to be thinking of fielding a Jat. Its Kisan Morcha has asked for fielding candidate from farming community in both the places.On Mandalgarh assembly seat, the ruling party may field a Rajput. Some of the names doing rounds are Shakti singh, Badri Guruji, Bhagwan Singh, Harshita Kumari and wife of Ghanshyam Singh. Here, Dhakar, Rajput, Brahmin, Dalit, Gurjar and Muslim are predominant castes.So far, the buzz is that the BJP can field a Rajput in Mandalgarh, Jat in Ajmer and Yadav in Alwar.BJP Panel in AlwarBaba BalaknathDr Jaswant Yadav/ Kiran YadavSanjay SharmaBJP Ajmer PanelRamswaroop LambaRamchandra ChoudharyCharan ChoudharyB P Saraswat

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Saurabh Patel back in ministry, likely to get key role

Saurabh Patel, the suave and urban face of the state government until not too long ago, is back in the thick of things. He was among the nine Cabinet ministers who were sworn-in along with chief minister Vijay Rupani and ten other ministers of state on Tuesday.The 59-year-old US-educated Patel was a fixture in the Narendra Modi government since 2002. He was minister of state for finance, energy, planning, civil aviation, industries and other key departments for a very long time.One of the visible ministers in the government, Patel was promoted to Cabinet rank when Modi came back to power in 2012 and was entrusted with energy, planning, tourism, civil aviation and other ministries. He was seen as a key link between the government and industry.Patel, whose wife Ila is a cousin of Mukesh and Anil Ambani, was appointed as finance minister in May 2014 when Anandiben Patel took over as the chief minister after Modi’s elevation as prime minister. He also held energy and other important departments.However, Patel was surprisingly dropped from the ministry when Vijay Rupani took over as the chief minister in August last year after Anandiben’s abrupt resignation.His sacking from the cabinet was attributed to controversies over various PSUs allegedly extending favours to companies linked with him. It was also believed that he had fallen out of favour with BJP president Amit Shah.Patel, who had contested from Akota seat in Vadodara in 2012, was fielded from Botad, his traditional seat, in 2017 elections. He, however, just scraped through, winning with a narrow margin of 906 votes against Congress candidate DM Patel. He is expected to be given important responsibilities, especially looking at the 2019 Vibrant Gujarat Summit, which is just a little over a year away.

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Vijay Rupani-Nitin Patel 2.0

Bharatiya Janata Party’s celebrations in Gujarat were muted despite retaining the power, but the party made up for it at the Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony of Vijay Rupani and his Cabinet. The saffron show, where Rupani, his deputy Nitin Patel and 18 other ministers, became sweeter with the presence of the architects of victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.Vijay Rupani now becomes the second CM from BJP in Gujarat after Narendra Modi, who was given an opportunity to helm the affairs of the state back-to-back. The CM, deputy CM and other ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor OP Kohli in a grand ceremony held at Helipad ground in secretariat complex in Gandhinagar.Apart from Modi and Shah, other BJP leaders who attended the ceremony were veteran leader LK Advani, union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Ananth Kumar, Ram Vilas Paswan, Ravi Shankar Prasad, and others. The CMs of BJP-ruled states also appeared on the VVIP dais, including UP CM Yogi Aditya Nath, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis among others. The swearing-in ceremony started at 11:30 am when PM and other invited guests arrived. Three separate stages were raised at the venue — one for swearing in, and two others for VVIPs and religious leaders.Both Rupani and Modi sought blessings of religious leaders before the swearing in started. Rupani also met and greeted his seniors and other leaders including Advani, union ministers, former CM Keshubhai Patel, Anandiben Patel and CMs of other states. Former union minister Shankersinh Vaghela , who quit Congress on the eve of the elections, was a surprise guest. Vaghela has adorned the Gujarat throne from BJP before he moved to the Congress.Also present at the ceremony was a virtual who’s who in Gujarat- businessmen, industrialists, social workers, educationists, judges of high court, other officials and representatives from all walks of life who were invited by the Gujarat government for this ceremony.There was no political speech by any leader addressing a crowd of nearly 10,000 people and entire ceremony winded up in one and half hour.

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Cong slams govt for gas price hike, water woes

The Opposition Congress has come down heavily on the state government for increasing gas prices for industries and stopping water supply to farms in north Gujarat.State-owned Gujarat Gas hiked gas prices for industrial consumers by about 10% from December 23. For the ceramic units in Morbi, the price was revised from Rs24.87 per standard cubic metre (scm) to Rs27.37 per scm. For industries in other regions, price was hiked from Rs 26.59 per scm to Rs29.17 per scm.The ceramic industry of Morbi, which was getting gas at a cheaper rate than other industries, and continues to be charged less, has opposed the hike saying it would put additional burden of Rs80 lakh on them.State Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said that the price hike would hurt thousands of ceramic units.He also said that more than 10,000 jeera farmers of Banaskantha were staring at huge losses due to sudden stoppage of Narmada water supply under the pretext of canal repairing. Doshi questioned if the steps were taken in view of reverses suffered by BJP in Morbi as well as Banaskantha.HIKE HURDLESState-owned Gujarat Gas hiked gas prices for industrial consumers by about 10% from December 23. For the ceramic units in Morbi, the price was revised from Rs24.87 per standard cubic metre (scm) to Rs27.37 per scm.

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BJP outgained Congress for upper hand in Central Gujarat

If there was one key region where BJP clearly outclassed rival Congress in elections, it was Central Gujarat. BJP not only added more votes than the Congress here but also gained two seats widening the lead over the Congress in the region from 20-18 in 2012 to 22-16. Central Gujarat contributes 40 seats to 182-member Assembly.While two seats went to independents this time, in 2012, NCP and an independent had shared a seat each. What helped BJP sharpen its edge was its continuous hold over urban areas and Patidar agitation-led polarisation of votes that made non-Patels vote for BJP.In constituencies in Vadodara city area likeVadodara City, Sayajiganj, Akota, Raopura and Manjalpur, Congress got 2,75,923 votes, almost 20.48% more than 2,29,011 votes in 2012. However, the gain was inadequate to breach the victory margin BJP had in previous election.While BJP held on to its bastion in the city, in the rest of the region, it accelerated its advance where its vote tally stood at 26,55,288, a rise of 16.98% over its 2012 votes of 22,69,773. On the contrary, Congress’ advance almost stagnated at 24,26,563, a meager rise of 8.13% over its 2012 tally of 22,44,025 votes. BJP widened its vote lead from 25,748 votes in 2012 to 2,28,725 votes in 2017. Net result was that BJP widened the seat gap from two to six.Across the 40 seats in the region, BJP’s votes rose by 15.38% while Congress’ votes rose by 9.28%. BJP wrested six seats from the rivals, followed by four by Congress and two by independents. “Kshatriyas have been Congress supporters but Kshatriya equation got disturbed as Congress supported Patidar agitation and Kshatriyas voted for BJP instead,” said Kailash Gadhvi, Congress spokesman in Gujarat.In reality, Patel agitation did not bring any Patel votes to Congress. This is because the agrarian crisis in the region is not so severe in central Gujarat compared to the rest of the state. The region has a fertile land with irrigation water available through canals. Dairy too has diversified the rural income giving cushion to the farmers and Patels here have migrated in large numbers to the USA and UK giving them the financial backup. In fact, non-resident Gujarati Patels are the most vocal supporters of the BJP in general and PM Narendra Modi in particular.Lack of local leadership on the part of Congress also failed to hold on to its traditional vote banks. Retirement of former state and Union minister Dinsha Patel deprived the party of an influential Patidar leader with only Siddarth Patel, son of former CM Chimanbhai Patel in fray. Patel lost to his BJP rival Shailesh Raval by a margin of 2,839 votes.BJP also strengthened its position in the region after cooperative dairy leader Ramsinh Parmar defected to BJP during recent Rajya Sabha polls, increasing BJP’s influence over dairy farmers. While Parmar lost from Thasra constituency, Congress gained in terms of seats.MAJER TAKEWAYSCentral Gujarat is the only region where BJP gained in votes and seats. BJP’s votes rose by 15%, it added two seats. Patidar factor polarised non-Patel votes in favour of BJP. Congress’s votes rose by 9.28%, it lost two seats. Congress failed to make inroads in Vadodara city. Outside Vadodara, it was an even contest between BJP and Congress.

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Gurjar leaders consider getting Hardik Patel to campaign against BJP

Gurjars leaders in Rajasthan, who are angry with CM Vasundhara Raje-led state government for its decision of giving 1 per cent reservation to the community as opposed to the 5 per cent that they demanded, have started drawing up strategies to beat the saffron party in Ajmer and Alwar and Mandalgarh bypolls. In a step towards this direction, they intend to bring Gujarat’s Patidar leader Hardik Patel — whose alliance with the Congress had damaged BJP’s poll perspective in Gujarat’s major Patel belt — to campaign in the desert state.”We have a thought to bring Hardik here and do campaigning against the BJP which cheated the Gurjars by not giving them 5 per cent reservation which it promised in its Suraj Sankalp Patra. I will get to meet him on December 30, and then will decide further strategy on how to run the campaign here,” said Himmat Singh Gurjar, spokesperson of Gurjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti.Both the leaders — who ran quota movements for their castes Patel and Gurjars respectively — have been in touch for months. Himmat, on Hardik’s call, had also campaigned for the Patel reservation in Gujarat. And Hardik, who was in exile in Udaipur, had met Gurjar leaders including Kirori Singh Bainsala, who spearheaded the agitation for over a decade, regularly supporting their cause.Hardik’s landing in Rajasthan hints that on the line of Gujarat he would seek votes for Congress which he had alliance in Gujarat when the party promised to give the community reservation. His popularity may attract voters, but it is yet to see how much his campaign remains successful in consolidating Gurjars who trusted BJP in previous assembly election and Lok Sabha election making it a visible sweep. His campaigning with Gurjars leaders make an impact in election, particularly in Ajmer bypoll where Gurjars voters in a sizable amount.Singh adds that there is legal hurdle before Hardik to campaign in Rajasthan on the request of Gurjars as in accordance to the court orders he can’t leave Gujarat state. “We are hopeful he would get relief in this matter and campaign against the BJP here.” DNA tried to reach Hardik over the development on phone, though he did not respond to the calls.Notably, Gurjars demanded 5 percent reservation for itself and others four castes and run also a violent movement . The government, meeting their demand, had tabled a bill in recent assembly session. But, it was stayed by the Supreme Court which ordered the government not to exceed 50 percent legal ceiling in quota. A couple of days back, the government, hence, has notified 1 percent reservation to the castes meeting 50 percent ceiling.

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Identify heroes of 1857, assist their kin, BJP MP tells Centre

In yet another attempt to change the popular perception of Indian history to suit the right wing, BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Sharad Tripathi has claimed that freedom fighters from the anti-colonial uprising of 1857 were not well-known to the people, and has urged the Centre to identify them and extend benefits to their families.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have long asserted that the uprising of 1857 — dubbed as the First War of Independence by none other than Sangh ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar — has not been given the pride of place in Indian history, and that the history has been dominated by Gandhi and Nehru under the ‘Congress-Left hegemony’.Balmukund Pandey, organising secretary of RSS’ history rewriting project Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY), had earlier told DNA that it was conducting a research to find the national heroes who were missing from Indian history books. Several martyrs from 1857, such as Tantia Tope and Jhalkari Bai, figured in this list.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raked up the issue at a Meerut rally in 2014 accusing the Congress of having ‘insulted’ martyrs by forgetting them.Tripathi too had earlier this year demanded in Parliament that a martyr’s gate be built in Delhi to honour freedom fighters who laid down their lives between 1857 and 1947.A list containing the names of such freedom fighters should be released by the government, he said adding that, so far there was no such authentic record. “While the names of Indian soldiers who fought the World War-II were inscribed by the British on India Gate, there is no such commemoration for the Indians who died for the country’s freedom from 1857 to 1947,” he said.In a similar push, RSS and BJP had in 2008 organised events to commemorate 150 years of 1857.More recently, RSS-affiliated historian Satish Chandra Mittal, associated with ABISY, had said in a seminar this year: “Instead of calling it a revolt, we should rather say it was a fight to protect the Indian culture.”Ironically, Savarkar had considered the Hindus-Muslims unity during the uprising as the cornerstone of Indian nationalism in his book ‘The Indian War of Independence 1857’ first published in 1909.”I believe that India’s fight for Independence began in 1857 led to the freedom in 1947. The government should do a study and recognise such heroes as martyrs. Their family members should be given benefits,” he said.

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Himachal CM designate Jai Ram Thakur lists out priorities

All decisions taken by the outgoing Congress government three months before the imposition of the model code of conduct would be reviewed, Himachal Pradesh chief minister designate Jai Ram Thakur said today.”We will review all the decisions taken by the Congress government, three months before imposition of the code of conduct, and ascertain if they were prudent and taken in a transparent manner,” Thakur said in an informal chat with mediapersons. Referring to the priorities of his government, the BJP leader said “deteriorating law and order, critical financial health of the government and tardy implementation of centrally sponsored schemes are areas of grave concern and the government would focus on these”.A major challenge was restoration of trust of people in the police, improving the financial position by pruning wasteful expenditure and aggressively implementing centrally sponsored schemes to provide maximum benefits to the people, he said. Thakur said that “tired and retired officials would have no place in the government” and a decision in this regard would be taken immediately after taking oath on December 27.Also readHimachal: Mandi wins the battle for CM after 54 years, Jai Ram Thakur to take oath on 27th Dec Asked about induction of ministers, he said the process was on in consultation with the party high command. The cabinet would be a mix of experience and young talent, he said. Thakur said that efforts would made to promote tourism. He also inaugurated a blood donation camp on 93rd birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. As many as 111 persons donated blood at the camp which was organised by Umang Foundation.

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Congress to fight BJP with a positive campaign in Rajasthan, says Sachin Pilot

The Congress will launch an “affirmative and positive” campaign in Rajasthan to counter the “acrimonious” charge of the BJP and advocate a new model of governance while highlighting the failures of the state government, Member of Parliament Sachin Pilot has said.Buoyed by the results of recent by-elections to local bodies, where the Congress fared well, the party has decided to strengthen its base at the booth level and reach out to the masses through an aggressive mass contact programme to be launched soon, the Rajasthan Congress chief said.Unlike the BJP, the Congress campaign will not be reduced to their level of acrimonious campaign and will not be negative. We will instead launch an affirmative and positive campaign, where the failures of the Vasundhara Raje-led government will be highlighted, Pilot told PTI.The party has already launched its Mera booth, mera gaurav (My booth, my pride)” campaign and will soon unroll its mass contact programme across the state.He said the Congress did not seek to reach out to the people merely on the failures of the BJP, but would offer them a better alternative.We will present the people with the blueprint of a model of alternative governance which will be holistic and inclusive, will care for the young and old, create jobs and have a vision to take the state forward, he said.Pilot said the workers in the state were already geared up and ready to tackle the BJP now that Rahul Gandhi had taken over the leadership of the Congress and infused new energy into it.The Rajasthan government has nothing to show for the four years that the BJP has been in power in the state, he said, charging it with selling off assets to generate money.This, Pilot stressed, was poor fiscal management.He alleged that the state s assets, including buildings, schools, roadways, hospitals and other infrastructure, were being sold to a select few in the name of public-private partnerships.This is nothing but an example of poor fiscal management. Such a policy where precious assets of the state are given out to a select few at throw-away prices smacks of crony capitalism,” he said.Once voted back to power, the Congress would “review and reverse all such decisions taken arbitrarily” and re-acquire the state s assets, he added.Pilot said the Congress, which faced a historic defeat in 2013 when it could win only 21 of the 200 Assembly seats, had got its vigour back and in the just-concluded bypolls had won seven out of 14 urban local bodies.He said the vote share gap between the Congress and the BJP, which had widened to 25 per cent, had narrowed down to 1.5 per cent in the state Panchayat elections held last year.In the Panchayat polls, the Congress won 45.5 per cent of votes against the BJP s 47 per cent. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress was down to 31 per cent, compared to the BJP’s 56 per cent.The former Union minister said the Congress party would now aggressively take its campaign forward while highlighting the problems of the jobless, farmers and the common man.This, he said, would be done through public rallies and by underlining the Congress’s plans for the future.The Congress will “force” the BJP government in the state to announce farm loan waivers to help ease the burden of debt that farmers faced, he said.Pilot wondered why the government was dithering over loan waivers when it could bring in a law that allowed former chief ministers to select a house for their lifetime.”The people of the state did not vote the former chief ministers in so that they could have the power to have a house for life, he said.Asked about the Mera booth, mera gaurav scheme, he said every leader would be put in charge of a booth and would launch a mass contact programme to reach out to every voter in the state.There are a total of 51,000 booths in the state.Rajasthan goes to the polls in 2018, along with Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Master orator and statesman par excellence turns 93 today

Former Prime Minister of India and stalwart of the BJP, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is celebrating his 93rd on Monday.A political persona known for his exemplary leadership and contribution to Indian politics, Vajpayee is the only non-Congress leader who served the nation as the prime minister and completed his full term.As the BJP veteran turn 93, here is a review of his political journey:Vajpayee was born to Krishna Devi and Krishna Bihari Vajpayee on 25 December, 1924, in Gwalior. He completed his schooling from Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Gorkhi, Bara, Gwalior and went on to Victoria College (now Laxmi Bai College), where he graduated with distinction in Hindi, English and Sanskrit. He then completed his post-graduation with an M.A. in Political Science from DAV College, Kanpur, and was awarded a first-class degree.His activism started with Arya Kumar Sabha of Gwalior, the youth wing of the Arya Samaj, of which he became the General Secretary in 1944. He also joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a swayamsevak in 1939. Influenced by Babasaheb Apte, he attended the Officers Training Camp of the RSS during 1940-44 and became a “full-time worker” in 1947, technically a pracharak.He gave up studying law due to the partition riots, and was sent as a vistarak (probationary pracharak) to Uttar Pradesh and quickly began working for the newspapers of Deendayal Upadhyaya, Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun.Vajpayee’s first exposure to politics was in August 1942, when he and his elder brother Prem were arrested for 23 days during the Quit India Movement, when he was released only after giving a written undertaking, expressly declaring not to participate in any of the anti-British struggle.In 1951, he was seconded by the RSS, along with Deendayal Upadhyaya, to work for the newly formed Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a Hindu right-wing political party associated with the RSS. He was appointed as a national secretary of the party in charge of the Northern region, based in Delhi. He soon became a follower and aide of party leader Syama Prasad Mukherjee.In 1954, Vajpayee was with Mookerjee when he went on a fast-unto-death in Kashmir to protest against perceived inferior treatment of non-Kashmiri Indian visitors to the state. Mookerjee died in prison during this strike. In 1957, Vajpayee lost to Raja Mahendra Pratap in Mathura for the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament of India, but was eventually elected from Balrampur.After the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the mantle of the leadership of Jana Sangh fell on the shoulders of a young Vajpayee, who became the national president in 1968 and, along with Nanaji Deshmukh, Balraj Madhok and LK Advani, led the Jana Sangh to national prominence.From 1975 to 1977, Vajpayee was arrested along with several other opposition leaders during the Internal Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Indian National Congress party. In 1977, heeding the call of social reformer Jayaprakash Narayan for all the opposition parties to unite against the Congress, Vajpayee merged the Jana Sangh into the newly formed grand-alliance, the Janata Party.Following Janata’s victory in the 1977 general elections, he became the Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s cabinet. As foreign minister, that year Vajpayee became the first person to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi.By the time the Janata government crumbled in 1979, Vajpayee had established himself as an experienced statesman and a respected political leader. However, the Janata Party was dissolved soon after Morarji Desai resigned as Prime Minister in 1979.Subsequently, Vajpayee joined many of his Bharatiya Jana Sangh and RSS colleagues, particularly L. K. Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, to form the BJP in 1980. He became the party’s first President, and emerged as a strong critic of the Congress (R) government that followed the Janata government.Vajpayee has served as the Prime Minister of India between 1996 and 2004 in three non-consecutive terms.In the 1996 general elections, the BJP emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha. The then president Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Vajpayee to form the government. Vajpayee was sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister of India, but the BJP failed to muster enough support from other parties to obtain a majority. He resigned after 13 days, when it became clear that he could not garner a majority.The 1998 general elections again put the BJP ahead of others. This time, a cohesive bloc of political parties joined the BJP to form the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and Vajpayee was sworn in as the Prime Minister.However, in mid-1999, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) under J Jayalalithaa withdrew its support to the government. The government lost the ensuing vote of confidence motion in the Lok Sabha by a single vote on 17 April 1999.As the Opposition was unable to come up with the numbers to form the new government, the Lok Sabha was again dissolved and fresh elections were held. Vajpayee remaining the Prime Minister until the elections were held.In the 1999 general elections, the BJP-led NDA won 303 seats out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, in the aftermath of the Kargil operations, thereby securing a comfortable and stable majority. On 13 October 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee took oath as Prime Minister of India for the third time.A parliamentarian for over four decades, Vajpayee has been elected to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament of India) ten times, and twice to the Rajya Sabha (upper house). He also served as the Member of Parliament for Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, until 2009, when he retired from active politics due to health concerns.On 25 December, 2014, the office of the President of India announced the Bharat Ratna award, India’s highest civilian honour, to Vajpayee. In a special gesture, the President of India conferred Bharat Ratna to Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his residence on 27 March 2015.Furthermore, the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 announced that Vajpayee’s birthday would be celebrated as Good Governance Day annually.

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TMC wrests seat from Congress

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal wrested the Sabang Assembly seat from the Congress on Sunday by defeating the nearest CPM contender by 64,192 votes, the results of which were announced on Sunday.TMC received 1,06,179 votes and CPM got 41,987 votes. BJP secured the third position with 37,476 votes while Congress who held the Sabang seat so far was pushed down to the fourth position with 18,060 votes.The bye-election had been necessitated after sitting Congress MLA Manas Bhunia who had won from there as the Congress-CPM alliance candidate in 2016 defected to TMC and had been made the party’s Rajya Sabha MP. His wife Gitarani Bhunia had been pitched as the TMC candidate and she bettered her husband’s winning margin by 15,025 votes. Manas had won in 2016 with a margin of 49,167 votes.TMC attributed the victory to the trust of people in Mamata Banerjee-led government. “People had brought in musclemen from outsiders to put a stumbling block for Mamata. But people have voted wholeheartedly for us. It shows that people have ignored all the canards that the Opposition spreads and have voted against the anti-people policies of the Central government,” said TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee at a news conference in the evening.Manas said the contest of his wife was with him. “We were sure of the win. The TMC leadership only wanted to see if Gitarani could beat me in terms of the winning margin, which she has. I am enjoying my defeat,” he said.CPM candidate Rita Mondal Jana alleged a foul play. “It is the victory of terror, corruption and betrayers. They have not won with people’s votes but the bogus votes cast by a bunch of their cadres. At about 150 booths they had terrorised people and forced them to cast their votes in their favour,” Mondal said.BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said their result was satisfying. “There was hardly any existence of BJP there. We had secured 2.5 per cent vote in the last election. This time the vote share has increased by about 10 times,” he said.Congress leaders were content to put up a ‘brave fight’. “Our organisation was weak there. We did not expect to make any impact there but Congress had put up a brave fight in spite of the police atrocity as well as lawlessness and violence unleashed by the TMC,” said Congress Rajya Sabha MP and former state party president Pradeep Bhattacharya.

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Ram Vilas Paswan slams Lalu over tweet evoking Ambedkar

RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s evoking names of Nelson Mandela and BR Ambedkar after being convicted in the fodder scam drew ridicule and stinging criticism on Sunday from NDA leaders, including his one-time friend Ram Vilas Paswan, who said Prasad was in jail for corruption while those icons made sacrifices in national interest.Union Minister Paswan said that Prasad had insulted stalwarts like Ambedkar by comparing himself with them and asked whether the fodder scam was a scam of the poor or the powerful people.Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad, however, said Prasad was framed due to political rivalry. BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao, however, insisted that the RJD chief’s conviction in the fodder scam was an open-and-shut case of “brazen corruption” that did not come as a surprise.Singh also raised questions on the acquittal of former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, another accused in the scam case and asserted that the RJD will go to the High Court and defeat BJP at the end.On the day the CBI special court convicted him in the fodder scam case, Prasad tweeted, “Had people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Baba Saheb Ambedkar failed in their efforts, history would have treated them as villains. They still are villains for the biased, racist and caste-ist minds. No one should expect any different treatment.” He also trained guns on the BJP, seeing a “conspiracy”.Paswan, a foe-turned-friend-turned-foe of Prasad in the politics of Bihar, made a strong defence of BJP, and went to the extent of saying that the allegations levelled by Prasad amounted to an insult of the judiciary as he has been convicted by a court not the BJP.”Lalu ji you should not blame the BJP for everything to hide your sin. You should also not compare yourself with Martin Luther King, Mandela or Baba Saheb Ambedkar. They made sacrifices in the national interest. You are in jail for corruption, which is against national interest,” Paswan tweeted.BJP’s Rao also targetted the Congress demanding that the latter should also condemn Prasad’s remarks otherwise it will be seen as they are in agreement with him.On Saturday, Prasad along with 14 others, were pronounced guilty, while seven other accused including Jagannath Mishra, were acquitted in one of the fodder scam cases related to embezzlement of more than Rs 89 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury. The scam allegedly involved the embezzlement of about Rs 900 crore from the state treasury.WHAT PASWAN SAID“Lalu ji you should not blame the BJP for everything to hide your sin. You should also not compare yourself with Martin Luther King, Mandela or Baba Saheb Ambedkar. They made sacrifices in the national interest. You are in jail for corruption, which is against national interest,” he tweeted

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No looking back for Jai Ram Thakur after joining BJP in ’83

The biggest asset of the 52-year-old Jai Ram Thakur, set to be Himachal Pradesh’s next chief minister, is that he has climbed every step required to reach the top.Born on January 6, 1965, to a poor family in Tandi village of Mandi’s Thunag area, Thakur was fourth among five siblings and his father Jhethu Ram worked as a mason. He lost his father exactly a year ago on December 25.After passing out from a local government school, he completed his Bachelor of Arts (BA) from a govt college in Mandi.It was during his stay there that he first got attracted to student politics in 1983, and joined BJP’s student wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). By 1986, he earned a name in the field and soon became ABVP’s state secretary.After completing his college education, Thakur was elevated to BJP’s youth wing — Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) — in the 90s. He spent the following years in Jammu & Kashmir as the organisational secretary from 1989 to 1992, honing his skills as a student leader.He fought his first state legislative assembly elections in 1993, from Chachiot (now Seraj), at the young age of 28, but lost by a slender margin of 800 votes. He, however, succeeded in catching the attention of BJP’s top brass, because Mandi had always been considered a bastion of the Congress party.He contested the assembly election again in 1998 from Seraj and since then has won all five assembly elections back-to-back, that too with huge margins. Known to be a low-profile party loyalist, Thakur was re-elected in 2003 and given charge of the party in 2006. Within seven months of his leadership, BJP came back to power with an emphatic win in the 2007 assembly polls.Despite being a three-time MLA, Thakur remained state chief till 2009, before being inducted into cabinet ranks as rural development and panchayati raj minister. He had always been touted as the CM-in-waiting during his time in the cabinet till 2012.Known for his proximity with the RSS, Thakur belongs to the dominant Rajput community that has a significant presence in the state. He will be the sixth leader of the state to occupy the chief ministers office, but the first one from Mandi region.

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BJP will see a pan-India win over Congress in 2019, says Prakash Javadekar

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, the minister in-charge for BJP for Karnataka is on a three day visit the state from December 23. Before he left the national capital, DNA speaks to him about his views on Gujarat polls, its impact on other elections and BJP’s position in election year 2018 vis a vis that of Congress.2018 BJP faces elections in many states where it has been in power for long time. How do you see anti-incumbency playing out there.We will win hands down in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan but before that along with Karnataka, three North Eastern states- Tripura, Meghalya and Mizoram will go to polls and we will do wonderful in all these three states also. So by 2019, we will have 22 plus states with us. Out of four states, we will win at least three or even all four we can win. We will retain Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. So by 2019, it will be a pan India BJP hurting Congress.Is the defection of Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Congress leader from Assam to BJP two years back is a big boost for BJP in North East?Congress is not serious to retain their folks and good people. People are coming to us and in our party, we give good roles. In Manipur, N Biren Singh (current BJP Chief Minister) was a senior Congress minister, was the right hand of Ibobi Singh (then Chief Minister) but anybody can see the changed Birender Singh now aftern he joined BJP. So people change completely when join BJP. The way he has united Nagas, Kukis and Maitis altogether in keeping peace in the state is really a very difficult task that he has completed..Tripura is a Left bastion. In another Left-ruled state Kerala, BJP has tried hard to expand but not with much success. What is your hope in Tripura?In Tripura, there is a mass upsurge against the Communist government. Besides people from both Trinamool Congress and Congress are leaving their parties and joining the BJP. So it will be a fight between Left and the BJP the Communists. We will give a surprise there. We will win Tripura also.You are the Minister in-charge of BJP for Karnataka. What BJP’s hopes this time in Karnataka, which it lost to Congress in 2013.BJP is 100 percent going to win in Karnataka this time. Last time we lost not for any other fault but because we were a fractured party. Our party had got divided into three factions. Now everybody is together. Everybody has learnt the lesson. Congress has, in last five years, given anti people governance, bad governance. They have made Bengaluru city a pot-holed city, a garbage city. And therefore people are angry, the farmers, the youth are angry.They (the state government) have allowed terrorism. Law and Order is so bad that day in a day out Hindu activists are being killed by terror outfits and Karnatka government has not nabbed even a single accused. They have failed miserably. So People are angry and we are going to win. People will give us decisive mandate.BJP has not done so well in rural areas in Gujarat polls. Will Gujarat rural divide will also be seen in Karnataka, where there are 150 rural seats.In Karnataka, people will unitedly vote for us because the rural support was always with us there and in Lok Sabha Bengaluru city and other cities voted us. This time urban areas are also voting for BJP because they have suffered heavily at the hands of Congress. Gujarat was a different ball game. It was not rural- urban issue. It was the worst kind of politics done by Congress, which was piggybacking on Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani. They tried to divide the society. Here also in Karnataka, they are trying to divide the society on caste and other lines. But I am very happy that Karnaktaka is standing united and they will defeat this divide politics. They (Congress) want to divide and rule, we want to unite and make Karnatka progress. That is what is our slogan.In Gujarat we were fighting for sixth term. After winning five terms consecutively, winning the sixth term is a rare feat no other party could achieve. Congress has never been able to do it anywhere. And therefore we will win this time.How do you see the corruption issue panning out in Karnataka with B S Yeddyurappa as your prime face vis a vis corruption charges against him in past?Corruption (under Siddaramaiah government) and the death of various honest officials and their testimonials is the real issue. Congress is looting the sate Left, Right and Centre. People remember B S Yeddyruappa’s government as a good governance model and so those bogus charges do not stick to BJP.In Karnataka, Yeddyurappa is considered a strong Lingayat face. What about other communities like Vokaligga.He is strong Karnataka leader and he is loved by all communities. All are coming together. First time you will see people are not voting their caste but casting their vote in Karnataka for development.2G case verdict has enthused Congress. How do you assess its impact electorally?What has happened in 2G. Licenses got cancelled because it was a clear case of corruption. The Supreme Court judgement (that had cancelled 122 2G spectrum licences in 2012) is important. What this CBI court has done, they are going to challenge. So let us wait for future. But the issue is very simple. In 2G, Congress did corruption. There was a bad policy. And therefore our stand was vindicated when the licenses were cancelled. And when we auctioned, we exactly received 1lakh 76 thousand crore rupees in auctions.So the BJP will continue to target Congress on corruption in Karnataka even after 2G verdict.Yes: Absolutely.There has been internal dissension in BJP state unit. BS Yeddyruappa versus others particularly with K S Ishwarappa.There were different opinions but we listened to everybody and chalked out a common strategy and therefore now there is now a united BJP team and there is no issue now.Why did BJP declare Yeddyurappa the CM face in Karnatka so much in advance. In many states did not declare CM face at all while in some like Himachal declared it at the last moment.It’s a strategy not a policy issue. Every state election is a different election. So every state will have a different strategy. And therefore here, we have already made it very clear that Yeddyurappa ji will be CM.Will the BJP declare CM faces in other states including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as well?Election in those states fall in December, which is one year away. So Let us talk about these four states that are going to polls now. So like in Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya, whether we will have alliances or whether we will declare CM face is a state specific strategy issue and that will define our targets.Since Congress has also declared that incumbent Chief Minister Siddharmaiah is the party face, do you see it as a clash of personalities in Karnataka?It’s not a fight just between two personalities. It’s a fight between personalities, parties and principles. And on all these three, principles, personalities and parties, we are much ahead of Congress.Anything that you want to say on your own.The politics of Modi ji has won the hearts of people. It’s politics of development. He is responding to the aspirations of the poor class—like good health service, good houses, good education. Now the poor class are also aspirational class and they are voting for Modi ji. That is our most treasured trove. The plan of the poor, which was with the Congress has already shifted to Modi ji after demonetization, Mudra Yojana, Ujjawala gas and many other schemes that are directly benefitting the people,Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that the BJP has a foundation of lies and Modi vision got exposed in Gujarat. Your Take?This narrative of one liner scripted by somebody else does not work in the long term. BJP has proved and Modi ji has provided a good governance. We have brought a change in the society at many levels and therefore the people are with us.What is BJP’s over-all plank in these state polls.Over all plank is development. Overall plank is new India. That is what we are aiming at.There have been accusations by the Opposition and in the run up polls, BJP goes all out for polarization. What do you say?We donot believe in polarization. The only plank is development, growth and prosperity for all sections of society.

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Himachal: Mandi wins the battle for CM after 54 years, Jai Ram Thakur to take oath on 27th Dec

The second largest district of Himachal Pradesh with ten assembly seat, it was after a 54- year wait that Mandi has won the battle for chief ministership.No legislator from Mandi, a district with cultural affinity with Kangra and Kullu and topographic similarities with Shimla and Sirmaur districts, has ever become chief minister. Congress leader Karam Singh won five assembly elections from Chachiot from 1952 to 1972 and was a strong contender for the post of chief minister in 1963 and 1967, but missed out and Dr Y S Parmar became the chief minister.Sukh Ram, whose son Anil Sharma is now a BJP legislator, was another senior Congress leader who was in contention for the top job in the state. He also never managed to become the chief minister. The BJP, this time put up a stunning show in the district, winning 9 of the 10 Assembly seats. The saffron party’s chief ministerial face P K Dhumal lost his own election leaving the field wide-open. Finally, it was again Chachiot, or Seraj after delimitation, that again came to the fore with its five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur, who will now be sworn as the 14th chief minister of Himachal Pradesh on December 27. Also readThe Accidental CM: Meet Jai Ram Thakur, new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh He will take oath in a star-studded ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah among others. The 52-year-old Thakur leader edged past party stalwarts in the race to the top office and will be the first leader from the politically-significant Mandi region to helm the hill state. Thanking the party leadership and workers after his election Thakur said that swearing in ceremony would take place on December 27.Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who along with Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman was appointed as a central observer by the BJP, announced that Thakur was chosen to be the next chief minister as thousands of party workers began celebrating.The Seraj MLA, a throughbred RSS man, emerged as the frontrunner for the top post after the shock defeat of BJP’s chief ministerial face Prem Kumar Dhumal in the state Assembly polls, the results of which were announced last week. A former chief minister, Dhumal, was still in the reckoning for the chief minister’s post till last night, when he opted out. Union minister J P Nadda was another top contender. Thakur, a former state unit chief and rural development and panchayati raj minister in a government headed by Dhumal, was elected the leader of the BJP legislature party today.The decision was taken at a meeting of BJP MLAs.His name was proposed by senior leaders Suresh Bhardwaj and Mahender Singh and seconded by others. “It is expected that Thakur will take oath as the state’s next CM on December 27 at a ceremony where Prime Minister Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and a galaxy of top leaders would be present,” a source said. Thakur along with senior party leaders handed a letter staking his claim to form the government in Himachal Pradesh to Governor Acharya Devvrat who invited him to do so.The five time MLA will be the first chief minister from Mandi, the second largest district of the state. Himachal’s chief ministers and political leaders mostly belong to or hailed from Shimla, Kangra and Sirmour districts. Mandi has 10 Assembly seats, second only to Kangra’s 15. In this election, the BJP put up a stellar show in Mandi, winning 9 of the district’s 10 seats.Seen largely as a low-profile man, Thakur is from a farming family of Mandi. He did his post-graduation from Panjab University in Chandigarh and decided to join politics when he was in his 20s. Thakur contested on a BJP ticket in the 1993 Assembly polls. He lost, but went on to win in 1998 from the now delimited constituency of Chachiot (Seraj) and every Assembly election after that. A soft-spoken man, Thakur’s strength is that he is seen as a leader who has managed to straddle the party’s warring factions in the state.A lack of consensus among the newly elected MLAs had resulted in the two central observers — Union ministers Sitharaman and Tomar — returning to Delhi from Shimla yesterday to hold fresh consultation with the BJP central leadership. Earlier, the two-member team of central observers, which was in the state on December 21 and 22, had taken feedback from members of the state BJP’s core committee, MPs and some MLAs. The BJP ousted the Congress from power by winning 44 out of the 68 seats in the Assembly polls.

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Congress gears up for Madhya Pradesh polls, to start picking probable nominees from Jan 15

Although there is still a year to go for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, the state unit of the Congress today said the party would start the exercise of identifying probable candidates from mid-January.The party said the leadership might give opportunity to fresh and young faces over the older ones this time.”We will start the candidate selection process for the next year’s assembly elections after January 15. The process of streamlining the organisational structure in the state would also be completed by the next month,” AICC general secretary and party in-charge of Madhya Pradesh, Deepak Babaria, told reporter here today.Madhya Pradesh assembly elections are scheduled to be held in November-December next year.”Initially, we will focus on 60-65 seats, where the party could not win in the past two elections. We will tell the probable candidates to start preparing,” he said.Also readPrepare for 2019, Rahul Gandhi tells cadresAsked about the demand of some party leaders that the candidates should be announced six months prior to the election, Babaria said, “It depends on the vulnerability of the seats. The announcement may be made two months, two weeks or two hours prior to the filing of nominations, because the opposition may also plan its strategies accordingly.” Babaria also said that as Congress president Rahul Gandhi has indicated and which was also visible in the recently-held Gujarat elections, younger faces would be given a preference in Madhya Pradesh as well.Also readPM Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model debunked during polls, says Rahul GandhiHe also said that the party would request the leaders, who had lost in the last two-three elections, to vacate the seat for the young leaders.”The leaders who were defeated in the last two-three elections would be told to leave the seat for the young leaders and work for the party. The names of such leaders would be considered for the parliamentary elections,” he said.Also read2G scam verdict: ‘Vindicated’ Rahul Gandhi says BJP’s foundation based on ‘lies’Responding to a query, Babaria said the party would focus on the election preparedness at the micro level in MP after learning a lesson from the Gujarat Assembly elections, in which it lost to the BJP despite putting up a good show.When asked about the announcement of the party’s chief ministerial face for the next assembly election, the AICC general secretary said the party would take a call on this at a suitable time.

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The Accidental CM: Meet Jai Ram Thakur, new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh

As the trends for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections came in on December 18, it was clear that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was headed for a comfortable win. When the results for all the seats were declared, the BJP had won 44 out of the 68 seats, ousting the Congress from power.But as the fate would have it, BJP’s CM candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost his seat from Sujanpur constituency to Congress’ Rajinder Rana. The next in line, BJP state president Satpal Singh Satti also lost from Una constituency. Then started the BJP’s search for a new face. Many contenders emerged and finally the saffron party chose soft spoken Jai Ram Thakur as the next CM of the hilly state.Ending days of suspense, BJP announced on Sunday that the five-time MLA will be the new Chief Minister of the state.The 52-year-old leader won the Assembly election from Seraj. Apart from securing his own win with huge margin, Thakur is also said to be instrumental in BJP sweeping 9 out of 10 seats from Mandi region, losing one to an independent candidate. Thakur comes from a humble background and was born in a farming family in Tandi village of Mandi district in 1965. The youngest of five children, Jai Ram was a bright student but had to drop out for two years after matriculation in 1980 due to poor financial condition of the family. He, however, went on to complete his MA from Panjab University in Chandigarh. He joined the RSS’ student wing ABVP right after graduation, thus making his entry into student politics. At the time when L K Advani took out his Ram Rath Yatra, Jai Ram also became active in the Ram Mandir movement. He is, however, not known for aggressive politics and is considered BJP’s ‘gentle face’ for his soft-spoken and non-aggressive brand of politics. Thakur contested his first election at the age of 28 on a BJP ticket in 1993. He lost his first election but again secured the BJP ticket in 1998 from Seraj, which was then known as Chachiot Vidhan Sabha. This time he won comfortably and defeated Congress veteran Moti Ram Thakur by 6,000 votes, thus marking his entry to the Assembly. There has been no looking back for him since then. He won consecutive elections from Chachiot in 2003 and 2007, before the constituency became Seraj after delimitation. Thakur was made Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister by then Chief Minister Dhumal in 2008. He was also the BJP’s state president between 2007 and 2009. In 2012, he won from Seraj while the BJP lost power to the Congress. In the latest election, Thakur won from Seraj by a margin of over 11,000 votes. He is married to Sadhana Thakur, a Kannadiga who was born and brought up in Jaipur, and have two children with her. Soft-spoken Thakur is considered a consensus builder in the Himachal Pradesh BJP. Even as his supporters raised slogans in his favour against Dhumal during BJP’s Central Observers’ visit to the state, he chose to remain silent. Today, it was Dhumal who proposed his name during the BJP legislature party meeting. Two other senior leaders from the party, Shanta Kumar and JP Nadda also supported the proposal, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, the BJP’s Central Observer, said. After the announcement of his name, Thakur thanked everyone, signalling that he would take all leaders of faction-ridden Himachal BJP along in his journey. Himachal is famous for throwing out incumbent government’s after a single term in office. Can Thakur break that trend? That will be his biggest challenge. Watch: Jai Ram Thakur to be new Himachal Pradesh CM

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Sikandra bypoll: BJP retains seat, wins by 7000 votes

The Yogi Adityanath led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued its good show in Uttar Pradesh as it comfortably won the Sikandra bypoll on Sunday. BJP won the Sikandra Assembly by defeating Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party by 7,000 votes.The bypoll was held after the seat fell vacant as sitting BJP MLA Mathura Prasad Pal passed away on July 22 . The BJP then nominated Pal’s son Ajit Pal Singh against Samajwadi Party’s Seema Sachan and Congress’ Prabhakar.Around 12 candidates were in fray including five independents in the Sikandra constituency which falls in Kanpur Dehat district. Around 53% of 3.21 lakh total electorate had cast their votes in the by election.The Kanpur Dehat district is mainly known for bandit queen Phoolan Devi’s vengeance after her rape in 1981 Behmai massacre where she and her gang killed 21 upper caste Rajpats.

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Sabang bypoll: TMC wrests seat from Congress, Gita Rani Bhunia wins by 64 thousand votes

In a sign of TMC’s growing clout in West Bengal, it has wrested Sabang assembly seat from Congress. Sabang has been a traditional fortress of Congress, but this time it slumped to the fourth spot. The bypoll was necessitated after Congress MLA Manas Bhunia defected to TMC. He is currently a Rajya Sabha MP from TMC. TMC gave the ticket to his wife Gita Rani Bhunia. According to the final results, she has got 1 lakh 6 thousand and 179 votes. Her nearest rival, Rita Mandal of CPI(M) got 41,987 votes. Bhunia finally won by a margin of 64 thousand and 192 votes. BJP candidate Antara Bhattacharya was third receiving 37,476 votes, and Congress candidate Chiranjib Bhowmick got 18,060 votes.The opposition had accused ruling TMC of widespread violence during the Sabang bypoll. The ruling party however had rejected all such allegations. Reacting to the win, TMC MP Manas Bhunia hailed it a victory for Mamata Banerjee’s developmental politics. With agency inputs

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BJP poll prep: Nagaland with Kiren Rijiju, Tripura with Himanta

Even before the celebrations for the twin win in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh could end, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has set its eyes on the upcoming elections in the northeast.BJP president Amit Shah on Saturday appointed minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, who was the key planner to wrest power from the Congress in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, as the in-charge of Nagaland, and finance minister in Assam government and convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), Himanta Biswa Sarma, as the in-charge of Tripura.Elections in Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya are due in February-March 2018. Of the eight northeastern states, the BJP already has five under its belt. It has its own government in Assam and Manipur, while in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim, it is coalition partner with regional parties.Of the rest of the three states, Meghalaya and Mizoram are ruled by the Congress while in Tripura, Manik Sarkar-led CPM government is in power for the last 25 years. But the BJP, aided by its parental organisation RSS, is hoping to make a dent in the red bastion, where the Left holds a total sway with 51 out of 60 seats.Master strategists of the BJP in the northeast, Ram Madhav and Tripura in-charge Sunil Deodhar have already succeeded in getting the non-existent BJP a foothold in Tripura. After getting six MLAs of the Trinamool Congress under its banner, the BJP has cracked the Congress too by making its MLA, Ratan Lal Nath, defect and join.”With the Congress now left with only two MLAs, the BJP has emerged as the lone challenger to the Left. It is going to be a tough contest for the CPM,” Deodhar said.

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Congress Working Committee meet focuses on strategy to attract urban voters

Claiming that the party was regaining the trust of rural voters, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which met under its new president Rahul Gandhi for the first time on Friday, called on building a strategy to entice urban voters.Sources said that during the discussion, leaders pointed out that the party was still to find devices to allure the aspiring middle class and urban voters to its fold in order to unseat the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA in the 2019 general elections.Insiders said the issue cropped up after former prime pinister Manmohan Singh’s intervention, who said that despite the hard work in Gujarat, the party lost the elections because it wasn’t able to connect with the urban voters. In urban areas of Gujarat, the BJP won 45 out of 53 seats. The Congress managed just 8 seats. This was in contrast to rural areas, where the Congress won 69 seats against BJP’s 60.According to the 2011 Census, 270 million Indians aged 16 and above live in urban areas, who also form the backbone of the aspiring youthful middle class.The former PM, who had campaigned in Gujarat’s Surat and some urban pockets while blaming the BJP for the note ban and a faulty tax reform, admitted that the Congress was not able to convince urban voters to switch sides. He said in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress was able to do well in urban areas against all predictions. He stressed that the party must introspect why it hasn’t been able to do well and how it should reconnect with the urban voters.In 2009, the Congress had won 34 of the 57 parliamentary seats in big metros and a majority of the 144 Lok Sabha seats in the country’s smaller cities and towns.Deviating from the ‘Shimla Sankalp’ of 2003, the Congress party’s brainstorming session at Jaipur in 2013 had suggested to focus on the youth, middle class, and women to expand the electoral base beyond Dalits, minorities, and tribals. But there were no matching announcements of schemes to address the new class, which was swayed by the BJP.The meeting participants were also reminded that the party’s youth wing had formed a five-member committee to study an alternate economic model. But since then, the issue was never debated within the party forums.During the discussions, it was also felt to dust out the document adopted at the Jaipur session, which soon went into oblivion after Rahul Gandhi took over as vice-president. The document had asked the party and the then UPA government to recognise the changing aspirations of the people, generate more jobs for the educated youth, and bring gender issues to the top of the political debate.”We have to recognise the new, changing India, an India increasingly peopled by a younger, more aspirational, more impatient, more demanding, and better educated generation,” the document stated.”This is a natural and welcome outcome of rapid economic and social change that has been brought about by the success of our programmes to educate, empower, and indeed unshackle the oppressed and the disadvantaged. Our youth is getting more assertive, it wants its voice to be heard,” the document stated.But with the voters largely fed up with the corruption in the government and the perception build around it, an outreach to growing middle class remained a pipe dream for the Congress.

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Congress backs Lalu Prasad Yadav, says alliance still strong

The Congress party on Saturday came out in support of convicted Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and dismissed any impact of the decision on its alliance with RJD. Congress leader Manish Tewari termed the Central Bureau of Investigation as “pet performing parrot” of the current government and said that Yadav and his lawyers are able enough to cope with the fight ahead.”This issue is not new, this began in 1993-94 and since then we had an alliance with the RJD. They were a part of UPA, we have also been together in the grand alliance… criminal matters and political alliances are two separates issues,” Tewari said during the party’s press briefing.The former union minister also questioned the double standards of the CBI and asked why was it not investigating the Srijan scam, that allegedly involves Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. “I want to ask the BJP why Srijan scam is not being investigated? The central charge was same in this case. Why there are different strokes for different folks,” Tewari said.Meanwhile, senior RJD leaders came out strongly against the BJP and its misuse of investigating agencies. The party’s spokesperson Manoj Jha slammed the agencies and said that legally admissible evidence was not considered and it was set aside. He said that the two most powerful people in the country are trying to intimidate them.”Politically I know this regime, they have this typical Standard Operating Procedure: Try to make a deal with your opposition, if you fail, then scare them,” Jha said.Senior RJD leaders Abdul Bari Siddiqui and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said that the party will continue to fight the legal battle in the higher courts. Siddiqui asked why Lalu Prasad Yadav was being singled out even as Chief Ministers preceding him were also involved in this issue.”The case was on excess withdrawal from Deogarh treasury. Laluji has been charged with connivance as he was the finance minister then – the charge is not direct. The withdrawal had been taking place since 1977. There were several chief ministers who were in charge of the finance department when Laluji was not the finance minister or the chief minister so why is he being singled out?” said Siddiqui.Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said that the party had no alternative but to move to high court and continue the fight legally as well as politically. The CBI court will pronounce the punishment to Yadav on January 3 and he was taken to Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi.—With agency inputs.

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Manmohan Singh pays rich tribute to Sharad Pawar, calls him ‘equal partner’ in bringing economic reforms

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today praised NCP leader Sharad Pawar saying he was “equal partner” in ushering in economic reforms in the country.Singh, who is considered the architect of the economic liberalisation measures unleashed in 1991 under the P V Narasimha Rao government, also termed Pawar as the “most creative agriculture minister” he had ever seen. The senior Congress leader was speaking here at the release of Pawar’s biography ‘Padma Vibhushan Sharad Pawar: The Great Enigma’ written by Sheshrao Chauhan. “Sharad Pawar had always been striving for the welfare of the nation and he was equal partner with me in bringing in economic reforms in the country,” he said.”Pawar is a Maharashtrian, but he is known across the country for his handling of crises. During his tenure as the Maharashtra chief minister, he had skilfully handled the situation after the 1993 Mumbai blasts, post-Babri mosque demolition riots and the Latur earthquake. “Very few politicians care for industrial development, and Pawar is one of them. His policies have brought reforms in the economic field,” he said. Singh recalled that when he was the finance minister and Pawar was the defence minister, he had urged the latter to help him in the austerity measures. “Pawar cut down the defence budget by Rs 500 crore. This paved way for other cabinet colleagues and they too assisted in the noble cause,” he said.Also readSharad Pawar leads protest march on 77th birthday, asks farmers not to pay power bills, other dues to govt “Pawar is the most creative agriculture minister I have ever seen,” Singh said adding, “I take his guidance during times of crises and a larger part of the credit for the success of UPA I and II governments goes to him.” During his speech, Pawar lauded Manmohan Singh for his style of functioning as the PM. “There are very few leaders of Manmohan Singh’s calibre and his work is endorsed by the international community,” he said.

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State has to play neutral role to ensure all citizens get equal protection under law: Hamid Ansari

Former vice-president Hamid Ansari today called for ensuring basic principles of the Constitution so that every citizen can be assured equal protection under the law.Speaking at a discussion on, ‘Is Secularism Dead in India’, at Jadavpur University, Ansari said the state has to play a neutral position to make this possible. “There has to be a neutral standard which the state has to observe not in theory but in practice, equal protection has to be imbibed in the agents of state,” Ansari said. “Who can guarantee my neighbour eats the same food as I do, his faith is the same as my faith. If anything that impedes the reality of our plurality, that should not be allowed to remain there,” he said. Speaking about secularism, Ansari said it was a subject so relevant in this country.”And I dare say not only to citizens of this country but to the world which is indicative of concern in the wider international community,” he said. The fact that we are a plural society is not a matter of debate, Ansari said.From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Bengal to Gujarat, in every direction the plurality, complexity, diversity of society is self-evident, the former vice-president added. “There is diversity in every conceivable manner, diversity of language and diversity in food habits,” he said. Ansari, who was the vice-president of India from 2007-2017, jokingly described his tenure as ex-officio chairmanof Rajya Sabha “as the referee in a hockey match”.Also readDon’t politicise Urdu; it’s the language of everyone in India: Former VP Hamid AnsariHistorian and Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Bose during in his address said secularism as set of values enables society to ride over prejudice to creatively accommodate differences and respect multiple identities.Bose said the most urgent task now is to rescue religion from bigots and nationalism from chauvinists. “We must take stand against religious bigotry and majoritarianism that is stoking our land. Majority of our people are ‘dharmabhirus’ not ‘dharmandhos,” he said. Talking about Swami Vivekananda and Rishi Aurobinda’s preachings, Bose said, “We need to engage their teachings but not allow distortion of their views for narrow political gains.”

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Suspense over new Himachal Pradesh CM continues, BJP MLAs to meet tomorrow

Amid the suspense over the new Himachal Pradesh chief minister, a meeting of BJP MLAs has been convened tomorrow and they would be addressed by the central observers, the party’s state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti said today.According to senior party leaders, announcement regarding the new chief minister would be made soon, may be at the meeting of the MLAs, but there was no official communication about it yet.The two-member team of central observers, which was in the state on December 21 and 22, had taken feedback from members of the state BJP’s core committee, MPs and some MLAs.Also readPM Modi meets BJP MPs from Gujarat, HimachalUnion Health Minister J P Nadda and five times MLA Jai Ram Thakur are the front runners for the post and announcement of the leader would be made after perusing the report of the observers, party leaders had said.The two central observers — Union ministers Nirmala Sitharamana and Narendra Singh Tomar — would arrive here tomorrow and address the MLAs, Satti said.Also readHow BJP’s victory in Gujarat and Himachal will impact Bengal political equationsThe leadership issue cropped up following the shocking defeat of the BJPs chief ministerial face Prem Kumar Dhumal, which threw the leadership race wide open.Dhumal who was defeated from Sujanpur by Rajinder Rana of the Congress.Satti, who himself lost from Una, said that inspite of “unexpected results” in some constituencies the performance of the party was spectacular.”After feedback from candidates at a meeting in Bilaspur, ahead of counting, we were expecting at least 42 seats. The party won 44 seats,” he said.The state BJP chief said the performance of the BJP in tribal areas was satisfying as it grabbed two out three seats reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates.

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Vijay Rupani to take oath as Gujarat CM on December 26; PM Modi, Amit Shah to attend ceremony

Incumbent Vijay Rupani will take oath as Gujarat Chief Mminister for a second term on December 26 at a ceremony which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharataiya Janta Party (BJP) President Amit Shah. His deputy Nitin Patel and the council of ministers will also take oath at the ceremony planned at 11 am at Gandhinagar Sachivalaya Ground.Chief Ministers of all the BJP ruled states have also been invited as guests to attend the swearing-in ceremony.Yesterday, BJP announced that Rupani, a confidante of party chief Amit Shah, would continue as the Gujarat chief minister for a second term.Also readAction will be taken against those who didn’t help party in Gujarat: Rahul Gandhi The announcement was made by Union minister Arun Jaitley, the party’s central observer, after a meeting of state BJP legislature party here.”A proposal to elect Rupani as leader of state BJP legislature party and Nitin Patel as deputy leader of state legislature party has been adopted,” Jaitley told a press conference. Patel is the incumbent deputy chief minister.Also readVijay Rupani’s journey from student leader to CM for second timeThough the BJP retained power in the key western state for a record sixth straight term, there was speculation about Rupani’s continuance due to the party’s narrow victory over challenger Congress.Rupani’s proximity to the top party leadership, his clean and caste neutral image apparently tilted the scales in his favour.Also readOld guard is new guard: Vijay Rupani-Nitin Patel to helm GujaratThe BJP won 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, the first time its tally slipped below hundred since 1995, while the Congress clocked its best in many years clinching 77. Together with its allies, the Congress has the backing of 80 MLAs.(With PTI inputs)

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Congress-RJD tie up, an alliance of corruption, says JP Nadda

Hours after a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ranchi pronounced former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad guilty in a fodder scam case, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that its alliance with the Congress party is an “alliance of corruption”.”The alliance between Congress and Lalu Yadav’s party is an alliance of corruption, connivance and cheating the people of India, it is clear from the verdict of the court,” said Union Minister JP Nadda on the fodder scam verdict.The Union Minister further slammed Lalu Prasad for not accepting the verdict on the infamous fodder scam.”Lalu Prasad Yadav is even now politicising the issue instead of accepting the verdict, just to deviate his corruption he is leveling allegations of conspiracy on BJP”, added JP Nadda.Moreover, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey welcomed the verdict that has been pronounced by the Court.”We welcome the verdict that has been pronounced by the court in the fodder scam case. We want that the people of Bihar should be given their money back that was looted from them,” said Choubey.Besides Lalu, fourteen others have also been found guilty, while seven accused have been acquitted, including former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra.The court is scheduled to pronounce the quantum of sentence on January 3, 2018 for the 15 guilty including Lalu Prasad.Lalu has been convicted in the case relating to embezzling of more than Rs. 89 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury between 1991 and 1994.Apart from Lalu, Mishra and 20 others accused were present in the court of special CBI judge Shivpal Singh.The fodder scam involved the embezzlement of about Rs. 900 crore from the Bihar exchequer.

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From Tejashwi Yadav to Ravi Shankar Prasad: Who said what after Lalu Yadav’s conviction in fodder scam

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was on Saturday convicted in second fodder scam case by a special CBI court in Ranchi. The former Bihar Chief Minister was among 16 accused who were convicted by Special CBI court judge Shivpal Singh.The court, however, acquitted six people including another former chief minister Jagannath Mishra.The case pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from Deoghar Treasury between 1991 and 1994.A charge sheet was filed against 38 persons on October 27, 1997. Eleven of them died and three turned approvers while two other accused confessed and were convicted in 2006-07, a CBI official said.Here is how politicians reacted to Lalu’s conviction:Also readRJD cries foul over fodder scam verdict; alleges ‘conspiracy’ against Lalu PrasadLalu Prasad YadavTruth can be made to appear as a lie, as ambiguous or a half lie by concerted onslaught of bias driven propaganda. But blurred layer of bias and hatred will still be removed, come what may! In end Truth will win.Also readEven Mandela, Ambedkar are villains for some: Defiant Lalu Yadav after fodder scam convictionHad people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Baba Saheb Ambedkar failed in their efforts, history would have treated them as villains. They still are villains for the biased, racist and caste-ist minds. No one should expect any different treatment.Tejashwi Yadav, RJDAlso readTimeline of fodder scam case which rocked Lalu Prasad Yadav’s political careerWill challenge judgement in HC. We have already appealed against conviction in Chaibasa treasury case in HC. Bail procedure would take place only after HC’s opening. Nitish Kumar, BJP kept trying to malign Lalu Ji.Manoj Jha, RJDI believe in the judiciary, but in this case, the CBI was arranging prosecution. Legally admissible evidence provided by us were set aside.Kind of evidences we have, we’ll get redressal at a higher court. Politically I know this regime, they have this typical Standard Operating Procedure-Try to make a deal with your opposition, if you fail…scare them. Want to tell them-Your end has begun.Manish Tewari,CongressLalu Yadav has been fighting this legal battle since 1996. It started when BJP leaders filed PIL against him in Patna HC. He & his lawyers are capable of fighting this case. I want to ask BJP why Srijan scam is not being investigated?Neeraj Kumar, JD(U)The verdict of Ranchi CBI court in fodder scam will prove to be a milestone against Lalu ji, who has become synonym with corruption.JP Nadda,Union MinisterLalu Prasad Yadav is even now politicizing the issue instead of accepting the verdict, just to deviate he is leveling allegations of conspiracy on BJP.The alliance between Congress and Lalu Yadav’s party is an alliance of corruption,connivance and cheating the people of India, it is clear from the verdict of the court.Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union MinisterLesson of today’s conviction of Lalu Prasad is that law will catch up with you if you commit corruption.For me, it is a matter of some personal assurance that I had the privilege to argue the PIL in Patna High Court in the early 90s leading to the institution of CBI inquiry which was strongly opposed by the then state govt headed by Lalu Yadav.

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BJP reacts to ‘Lie Hard’ remark of Rahul Gandhi, says Congress President indulging in cheap barbs

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of indulging in cheap barbs and lowering political discourse in his bid to gain power.The attack from party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao came after Gandhi fired a fresh salvo at the saffron party, saying if the BJP had a film franchise it would be called “Lie Hard”.”Rahul Gandhi, is this the low level of political discourse that you are capable of? To gain power by all means, would you indulge in such cheap barbs?” Rao asked in a tweet.He claimed that whatever Gandhi might say, his party would not return to power as people know its “corrupt face”.Also readRahul Gandhi offers prayers at Somnath temple in GujaratCongress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday mocked at BJP and said if the party had a film franchise it would be called “Lie Hard”.Meanwhile, Rahul visited Gujarat’s Somnath temple on Saturday ahead of a review meeting with newly-elected MLAs and party workers following Gujarat assembly election results.After his Somnath Temple visit on November 29, a controversy erupted after Rahul’s name along with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was allegedly mentioned as non-Hindus in the visitor book of the temple. (With inputs from ANI)

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One who idolises Tipu Sultan cannot support Hindus: BJP leader Vinay Katiyar

Responding to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s remark on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having ‘leased out’ Hinduism, the latter claimed that one who idolises Tipu Sultan cannot support Hindus.”Siddaramaiah is one who idolises Tipu Sultan, who caused a lot of harm to the Hindu community. It is natural that such a person will not support or think for the welfare of Hindus or Hinduism,” BJP MP Vinay Katiyar told.Earlier in the week, Adityanath during his visit to Karnataka had accused the Congress of attempting to convert the state, which is “the land of Lord Hanuman”, into “a land of Tipu Sultan worshippers”.Also readTipu Jayanti row: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah calls Amit Shah ‘ignorant tourist’To this, Siddaramaiah took to Twitter on Friday to question whether the BJP had “taken Hinduism on lease”.”Are only the BJP leaders Hindus? Are we not Hindus? Has the BJP taken Hinduism on a lease? My name is Siddaramaiah. Siddhu and Rama are in my name,” he said.Also readSiddaramaiah hits back at Amit Shah, says ‘Tipu Sultan was a freedom lover, patriot’In a series of tweets in Kannada, the Chief Minister also called for equal respect to be given to all religions, adding that this was a sign of ‘true Hindutva’.

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Amdavadis in for an action-packed year end

With barely a few days left in this year, Ahmedabad, which has been declared as India’s first heritage city, is all set to dole out Amdavadis a vibrant and lively year end. The city is gearing to host a plethora of events catering to varied interests. While there will be a traditional Sattvik food festival to tickle the taste-buds and offer a break from the fast-paced life, literature lovers will get their share of enjoyment too. If these do not interest you, experience the winter and take your children to have an night out at the zoo at Sundarvans or head to Kankaria carnival for fun-packed events. Here is a quick guide:TRADITIONAL SATTVIK FOOD FESTIVAL:Gear up to inner cleansing by experiencing traditional sattvik recipes at a food festival in the city. The 15th Sattvik food festival organized by the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) will begin from December 23 and organized at AES ground behind Doordarshan TV tower.The festival will not only have more than 150 stalls, one can expect more traditional fare made of raagi, kodri, millet and bajri as it is mandatory for each stall to have two dishes made from traditional grains. Apart from catering to the taste-buds, Sattvik will also have a creative and innovation corner for children as well as stalls selling organic food.The food festival will also host a community kitchen (food lab) where people will be taught how to cook healthy in right vessels, right process and with right feelings. Over 50 stalls from different states of the country and 75 stalls from Gujarat will be offering traditional food items during the three day festival.What to expect:*Forgotten traditional recipes*Community kitchen*Children’s creativity corner*Seminars related to food, health*Organic products, farmer exhibitionDate: Dec 23-25Place: AES ground, behind Doordarshan TV towerEntry fee: Rs 30AHMEDABAD INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE FESTIVAL (AILF):Literature lovers in the city can head to the second edition of Ahmedabad International Literature Festival (AILF) which will begin on Saturday. The two-day festival, to be held at Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA), celebrates the World Heritage status of Ahmedabad by keeping its theme ‘Heritage’.The festival will have around 80 speakers for different sessions and seminars. It will kick-start with a Bhavai performance. Festival director Umakant Yadav said, “With the advent of the digital age, the world of literature has also been democratized. The consumption of literature has been transformed by an array of digital platforms and social media. In such a backdrop, literature ceases to be limited to a region or nationality.”Some interesting sessions listed below:*When daughters are the Voices of Fathers: Women behind road safety (2.00 pm)*Her story: A global perspective of women*The Karnavati Chronicles: Revealing the city through architectural narrativesDate: Dec 23-24Place: AMAGUJARAT NATIONAL SCIENCE CONGRESS:Ahmedabad is all set to host the final round of the National Children Science Congress (NCSC) from December 27 onwards. The primary objective of the Children’s Science Congress is to make a forum available to children of the age-group of 10-17 years, both from formal school system as well as from out of school, to exhibit their creativity and innovative side and more particularly their ability to solve a societal problem experienced locally using the method of science. It prompts children to think of some significant societal problems, ponder over its causes and subsequently try and solve the same using the scientific process. Children participating in the competition observe, raise pertinent questions, build models and predict solutions on the basis of a model based on field work. A total of 15 projects will chosen as the best and felicitated.Date: Dec 27-31Place: Gujarat Council of Science City, near SG highwayWINTER NIGHT AT THE ZOOThere are fewer occasions when Amdavadis get respite from scorching heat. And this is the time make the most of the dip in temperatures. How about taking your children to a zoo visit in the chilly winter nights? Sundarvan, a nature discovery centre has organized a winter night at the zoo and calling young naturalists to explore Sundarvan in an experiential manner.The visit is open for kids of 8 to 12 years of age and will include a night nature-trail, spider watch, learning activities, craft, huddle around the fire for storytelling, animal yoga and morning trail.Date: Dec 23-24Time: 5.30-9.00 pmPlace: Sundarvan, Near ISRO, Jodhpur Tekra, AhmedabadTRANSLATED BOOKS FAIR AT GUJARAT VIDYAPITH:Get ready to buy books on different genres at 10-percent discount. Gandhian institute Gujarat Vidyapith is hosting a translated pustak mela (book fair). In their attempt to bridge the language barrier in the written word that obstructs dissemination of information, the book fair will have books which are translated in Gujarati. Speaking about the same, Rajendra Khemani, Registrar, Gujarat Vidyapith said, “There will be nearly 1200 titles translated from either local language to Gujarati or from Gujarati to local languages. The most interesting thing is that we had thought that such fairs would. The books have been categorized in 12 sections namely novels, poems, motivation, life history, etc.”Place: Gujarat Vidyapith campus, Ashram roadTime: 10.00 am to 8.00 pmDates: Dec 20-24

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Rajya Sabha adjourned till Wednesday over impasse

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu met Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress deputy leader in the House Anand Sharma and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel in his chamber to break the logjam in Rajya Sabha as Congres has sought an apology by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remarks during Gujarat elections against his predecessor Manmohan Singh.Earlier in the day, Naidu adjourned the House soon after it convened following a demand by the Congress.Azad sought an adjournment and pitched for an end to the tussle that continues since December 15.”The House should be adjourned till a solution is found,” he said, adding that the Congress members do not want to enter the Well to force an adjournment.The meetings took place after Naidu adjourned the House till December 27 for a long weekend and Christmas break.Sources said Naidu insisted on normal functioning of the Rajya Sabha when it reconvenes on December 27.He was learnt to have asked Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Azad to continue with the negotiations to end the stalemate.Both sides have dug in their heels over the issue, with the Congress demanding an apology from Modi for his remarks during the Gujarat election campaign that Manmohan Singh had connived with some Pakistani current and former officials to influence the polls.The Congress has softened its stand a bit, and saidModi should at least give a clarification about his remarks.Even Naidu said recently that there was no question of an apology by anybody as the subject of confrontation was an event that happened outside the House.The day so farNaidu adjourned the House soon after it convened following a demand by the Congress Azad pitched for an end to the tussle that continues since December 15 The meetings took place after Naidu adjourned the House till December 27 for a long weekend and Christmas

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2G scam verdict: ‘Vindicated’ Rahul Gandhi says BJP’s foundation based on ‘lies’

Launching a no-holds barred attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the saffron party’s whole architecture and foundation were based on “lies.””The whole architecture and foundation of the BJP are based on lies,” said Mr Gandhi. He was speaking after chairing his first Congress working committee (CWC) meeting as the Congress president with his mother Sonia Gandhi seated next to him.”I think 2G has been a vindication (of Congress’ stand),” Rahul Gandhi told reporters when asked about the special CBI court’s Thursday verdict acquitting all the accused. “Everyone knows about 2G, the truth has come out in front of you.”Also readRahul Gandhi chairs first CWC meeting after being elected Congress President “If you see the Modi model in Gujarat, it was a clear lie. When we went to Gujarat, the people said there is no model, they said what is going on is stealing of people’s resources. The promise of 15 lakhs in every bank account, Demonetisation, ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ everything is a lie,” he added.Rahul today chaired the CWC meeting for the first time after being elected as the party chief earlier this month. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Rahul Gandhi says PM Modi has credibility problem, BJP ridicules Sonia Gandhi, who served as the party president for 19 years, arrived a little before Rahul for the meeting and was also felicitated by the CWC members. The CWC also paid their respects to former Union Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi who passed away last month. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, senior party leaders Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Janardan Dwivedi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Karan Singh, Anand Sharma, Mohsina Kidwai, Ambika Soni, CP Joshi, Kamal Nath, BK Hariprasad and Oscar Fernandes are also attending the meeting, along with party in- charges for various states.Rahul Gandhi was elected unopposed as the Congress chief on December 11 and assumed the party’s reins on December 16.(With PTI inputs)

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