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‘Upcoming Panchayat polls in J&K on the insistence of BJP leadership’

The BJP, which is sharing power with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, today claimed the upcoming panchayat and Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls were being held in the state due to the insistence of its leadership.”The polls are being held due to the insistence of BJP leadership which continued to raise the issue of early elections at different forums,” BJP state spokesperson Anil Gupta said in a statement here.He appealed to the people to ignore the boycott called given by separatists and said that total integration with the democratic institutions of India was in the best interest of all Kashmiris.The conduct of the elections will be a big challenge for the state election authorities and I have full confidence in them that they would surmount all challenges, he said.Welcoming the statement by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that the panchayat polls from February 15 would be followed by ULB elections, Gupta said these elections would lead to real decentralisation of power.The BJP-PDP government is committed to the devolution of democratic powers and financial resources to the panchayats and ULBs for realising its promise of holistic development, he said.”The sincerity of the BJP-PDP alliance in financial empowerment of the panchayats can be gauged from the fact that separate budgetary allocation for them is being made by the finance minister, a clear and welcome departure from the past,” he said.As far as the ULB elections are concerned, he said these were long overdue.The elections have not been held since 2005 where in (former Chief Ministers) Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah led coalition governments did not dare to hold polls due to political considerations depriving the state huge amount of funds from the Centre, he said.

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Delhi govt to re-send to LG doorstep delivery of services proposal with detailed replies to questions raised

The AAP government will again send its proposal for the ambitious ‘doorstep delivery of services scheme’ to Lt Governor Anil Baijal for approval, with a detailed reply to each objection raised by him, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said.The scheme is currently at the centre of tussle between the L-G and the Delhi government with Deputy Chief Minister asking Baijal if he was trying to “protect” the corrupt system by the opposing the proposal. Recently, Baijal had returned the proposal to the Delhi government asking to reconsider it and raised several objections, including safety of citizens and corruption. “We will again send the doorstep delivery proposal to the Lt Governor with detailed replies to all objections in the next few days,” Kejriwal told PTI.He said that the government is currently preparing a response to the L-G’s objections, adding that the proposal was good for Delhiites. Under the proposal, government wants to provide 40 services at the doorstep of citizens, including driving licence, ration cards, caste certificates among others. In his objections, Baijal had said the present proposal had implications on safety and security of women and senior citizens, privacy, loss of documents, and it added unnecessary expenditure for the government and the people.Also readLG vs AAP govt: Anil Baijal decries ‘misinformation campaign’ on doorstep delivery of servicesIn response to the objections, Sisodia had said that despite the online service system, people had to visit department offices once or twice to submit their documents. To the government’s comparison of the scheme with pizza delivery at the doorstep of citizens, the L-G had said “Pizza, unlike documents, cannot be downloaded”. Replying to the L-G’s pizza remark, the deputy chief minister had said that just like “pizza cannot be downloaded online, a human being seeking a certificate cannot be uploaded and sent to a government office for verification”.

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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!
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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
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8 MLAs, including 5 from Congress, resign from Meghalaya Assembly to join BJP ally NPP

Eight MLAs in Meghalaya, including five of the ruling Congress, resigned from the state assembly today to join NDA constituent National People’s Party (NPP), just a few months ahead of elections.Those who put in their papers are former deputy chief minister Rowell Lyngdoh, Sniawbhalang Dhar, Comingone Ymbon, Prestone Tynsong, and Ngaitlang Dhar of the Congress, Remington Pyngrope of the United Democratic Party and Independents Stephanson Mukhim and Hopeful Bamon, Assembly Principal Secretary Andrew Simons told PTI.The five Congress legislators had earlier rebelled against Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and the party leadership.Also readTwo juveniles held for vandalising church in Meghalaya on Christmas DayFour of the five Congress MLAs were part of the state cabinet and were sacked by the chief minister on the grounds of “incompetence”.Rowell, a veteran Congress leader, later announced that all the eight MLAs, would join the NPP, also an alliance partner of the BJP in the Manipur government, at a rally next week.Also read4 ex-MLAs join BJP in Meghalaya ahead of next year’s Assembly ​pollsThe NPP, led by Conrad K Sangma, son of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, has two MLAs in Meghalaya at present.With today’s resignation, which comes days after another MLA, PN Syiem, quit the Congress, the number of party MLAs in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly has come down to 24 from 30.However, there is no immediate threat to the Congress government as it has support of nine Independents which takes its tally to 33.The term of the current House expires on March 6.Elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura are due early next year.An elated Conrad Sangma said the decision of the five Congress MLAs to resign and join the NPP next week was a big boost for the party.”It is a big boost for the NPP ahead of the elections in the state … We will felicitate their joining the party next week. We welcome their decision and we are confident to form the next government in Meghalaya,” Conrad Sangma told PTI.He said their leaving the Congress and joining the NPP indicates that the party was the only alternative available to the people in the state.The NPP chief said: “More than 10 per cent of the Congress MLAs have resigned. This implies that the leadership under Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has failed.” The 79-year-old Rowell had to leave the Congress following a leadership tussle with Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and he was sacked from the cabinet last year.Rowell had contested all the nine elections in the state and was elected an MLA for the sixth time in 2013.”Eight MLAs submitted their resignation to me at the office of the Speaker today. The Speaker was on a tour and was not available at his office,” Assembly Principal Secretary Andrew Simons told PTI.He said the resignation letters have been sent by email to Speaker Abu Taher Mondal.”We are joining the NPP on January 4 at a rally at Pologrounds,” Rowell told reporters.He said it was a difficult decision to leave the Congress but he was compelled to do so “because of the people”.Hitting out at the chief minister, the former deputy chief minister said, “The autocratic style of functioning of the chief minister had made it difficult for me and others to function in the government.”Rowell said the decision to set up a medical college in the state capital Shillong on PPP mode and another one in Tura to be funded by the state government, was taken without consultations in the cabinet.He also slammed the state Congress president DD Lapang, who he alleged gave into the diktats of the chief minister and went ahead and dissolved the block Congress committee in many constituencies.Senior Congress leader and former cabinet minister Prestone Tynsong said the prospects of the Congress in Meghalaya will be badly hit.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
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
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened
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

Fadnavis govt offers cash incentives to Maharashtra cities that perform well in Swachh Bharat rankings

After discouraging performance in the ‘Swachh Survekshan’ or cleanliness survey last year, Maharashtra government has decided to offer cash incentives to rank holder cities in clean city initiative. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has proposed to give incentive to municipal corporations and local bodies for scoring a good place in the Swachh City rankings.The state government would be offering incentives to cities from the state which would secure place in the first 50 clean cities. Last year, Navi Mumbai was on rank 8 and it was the only city from Maharashtra in the list of ten cities at the national level. The second dirtiest city was Bhusawal from Maharashtra , after Gonda in Uttar Pradesh last year. Mumbai’s position dropped to 29 in 2017 from 10 in 2016. These rankings are a part of the Swachh Bharat initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday reviewed Maharashtra’s preparedness for the survey which would start in January and is conducted by the Quality Council of India (QCI). Fadnavis has announced a prize money of Rs 20 crore to the cities that are covered under the scheme Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Rs 15 crore for cities securing a rank from 4 to 10. For cities like Mumbai which are not part of AMRUT scheme, the three toppers would win Rs 15 crore, top 10 would get Rs 10 crore and cities securing rank between 11 and 50 would get Rs 5 crore as incentive.Fadnavis has also announced a ‘Swachh Ward,’ or clean ward competition and said that a third party survey for all Municipal corporations in the state would be conducted between January and February 2018. The first three wards of ‘A’ and ‘B’ category corporations would be given Rs 30 lakhs, Rs.20 lakhs and Rs.15 lakhs, respectively and ward from the C and D corporations would get Rs.50 lakhs, 30 lakhs and 20 lakhs and wards of ‘C’ and ‘D’ category corporations respectively.This would be the third survey to be conducted in 2018, first was conducted in 2016.The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the nodal ministry for the QCI. They have covered 434 cities and towns with a population of 1 lakh and above. The survey aims at capturing the outcomes of ongoing efforts to stop open defecation in urban areas and to improve the door-to-door collection, processing and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste.

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
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!
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

School fees: State welcomes HC ruling, asks schools to comply

Day 1 of the new government in Gujarat turned out to be a celebration as the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday upheld the state government’s law to regulate school fees. Rejecting around 40 petitions opposing it, a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi upheld the Gujarat Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act, 2017. The Bill was introduced by the BJP government early this year.Welcoming the judgment, senior minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said, “This is a historic judgment. We will implement the judgment with immediate effect. We are happy that the court has also not entertained any kind of stay in this order.””Under the leadership of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, the state government was firm to implement the Bill since the beginning. Now that the judgment has come, we will not let schools charge a heavy fee as per their wish,” Chudasama said.Through this judgment, middle-class families and students will benefit a lot. Schools who were pressurising parents for higher fees will be in docks and parents will get respite from all sorts of pressure, he added.After the Act was passed in April, the state government had formed zone-wise fee regulation committees (FRC) and had started the process. As per the judgment, schools that did not approach the FRC will have to approach the FRC with a proposal in three weeks from the date of the judgment.As per a statement released from the state government, 1,101 schools did not increase any fee for the 2016-17 academic year in Ahmedabad zone. Of the 12,402 schools that had filed affidavits, order for 9,453 schools has been passed. Nearly 2,987 schools had approached high court out of which 584 are primary and 2,403 are secondary and higher secondary schools. Those schools whose hearing has been over, order will be pronounced soon.Nearly 80 schools reduced more than Rs 10k fee:As result of the Act, 77 schools including 74 from Ahmedabad and 3 from Rajkot reduced more than Rs 10,000 in their fee. Speaking about the same, senior minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said, “37,60,112 students will be benefitted. I am grateful to the schools that reduced their fees after this Act. Due to good intent of many schools, they had reduced their fees sometime back.”KEY FACTSOrder on schools approached FRC soon Schools will have to give refund, if any, in 15 days If disobeyed, 1% inte-rest will be levied every day

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Ministers wait for portfolios

Generally in Gujarat government, portfolio allocation is made soon after the swearing in and the Chief Minister calls for the Cabinet meeting the same evening. This time, however, it’s been two days since, but neither the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has convened his first cabinet meeting, nor has he distributed ministries.While no one is saying it, it is believed that Rupani is waiting for an auspicious time for the portfolio allocation as there was bad omen just before the swearing in ceremony when a small accident occurred between Rupani and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s convoys. A BJP leader confirmed this, but requested anonymity.When asked why the allocation had not taken place yet, the deputy CM Nitin Patel said, “I do not know why. That is the prerogative of the Chief Minister. I assumed charge and started work soon after the swearing in. The cabinet members were also in Gandhinagar until the evening, but the cabinet meeting was not called.”When pressed for a reason, Patel speculated it could be because the PM and party chief Amit Shah were busy with Himachal Pradesh swearing in. “I believe it will happen soon after consultation with the party high command,” he said.The wait is however is too much to handle for the new ministers. “This is very suffocating as I do not know what portfolio I am going to get. There was no meeting and there is no message when it will be, so I left for my constituency where my supporters have organized for a felicitation programme. I will now return to Gandhinagar only next week,” said one minister.

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Cong city chief writes to CM Devendra Fadnavis over Metro mess

The Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president Sanjay Nirupam has appealed to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to convene an all-party meeting to discuss huge traffic snarls caused by the ongoing construction of the Metro line between DN Nagar and Dahisar. In a letter to Fadnavis, the city Congress chief said that he was not against the work being carried out which will to improve Mumbai’s infrastructure but hourly traffic snarls along the entire stretch have elongated a simple 30-40 minutes journey to a two-and-a-half hour ordeal.Nirupam said the traffic has also jacked up commuting cost in areas seeing maximum congestion. These include Infinity Mall, Inorbit Mall Meeth Chowki, Goregaon, Charkop and Borivali West. Double parking adds to the woes, he noted, adding, “The traffic police is not taking any action to solve this problem.”Nirupam said due to ongoing construction it has become impossible for residents to manage even a good night’s sleep. He iterated that the CM needs to convene meeting with representatives of all political parties and officers from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, traffic police and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority to ensure a comprehensive solution to end these problems.

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With assets worth Rs 123 crore, Saurabh Patel is the richest minister

Former Industries and Finance minister Saurabh Patel is the richest minister in the 20-member Council of Ministers headed by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, announced on Tuesday. Eighteen ministers have assets worth Rs 1 crore or more, according to a report of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).Assets and IncomeExcept for Raman Patkar and Bachu Khabad, all ministers have assets worth more than Rs 1 crore. Saurabh Patel also has the highest annual salary of all. Patel has disclosed his income of Rs 2.45 crore in his Income Tax Returns. His income includes his salary, interests and dividends. Patel is followed by Parbat Patel, a farmer, with an income of Rs 72 lakh and Jayesh Radadiya with an income of Rs 50 lakh. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani disclosed an income of Rs 21 lakh. His income comprises salary, interest income from partnership, savings interest income and dividends. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel disclosed an income of Rs 15 lakh from business. He has assets worth Rs 8 crore.Financial LiabilitiesThirteen of the 20 ministers have financial liabilities. Top on the list is Jayesh Radadiya with liabilities worth Rs 16 crore against Rs 28 crore worth of assets, followed by Parsotam Solanki with liabilities worth Rs 6 crore against assets worth Rs 45 crore. Former Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel has Rs 1 crore worth of liabilities against Rs 5 crore worth of assets. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has Rs 83 lakh worth of liabilities against Rs 9 crore worth of assets.Education QualificationTwo ministers are postgraduates, six are graduate professionals while two have a graduation degree. Nine ministers have not crossed school limits. One is a diploma engineer.Ministers with criminal casesThree ministers have facing criminal cases against them. Parsotam Solanki has six cases related to cheating, dishonesty, forgery, fraudulent practices, Jayesh Radadiya has two cases related to causing hurt to others using dangerous weapons, provoking breach of peace as well as abatement to offence and former Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja has one case related to violation of Representation of Peoples Act against him.THREE RICHEST MINISTERSSaurabh Patel Rs 123 croreParsotam Solanki Rs 45 croreJayesh Radadiya Rs 28 crore

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Kolkata to get a floating market

What started off as a plan to rehabilitate shopowners ended up as a gift for Kolkata in the shape of the first market inside a water body, with walkways for customers from which they can shop.At Patuli, a neighbourhood in south Kolkata, an entire lake has been transformed into a floating market about 24,000 sq m in area.”When an adjoining bypass was being widened, the local market had to be removed and its 228 shopowners rehabilitated. Our Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, inspired by the floating market in Bangkok, wanted to set up a similar market here. I met him and gave him this proposal. A team of officials of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) came over for a feasibility study and okayed the place,” said Arup Chakraborty, councillor, Ward 110 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.He said it would be the first such market in the country and the third in Asia. “There is one at Dal Lake in Srinagar but that is not an organised one. People just sell their wares at a venture. Over here, we will have ramps for customers. The merchandise will be sold in clusters. For example, one area would be for vegetable sellers, another for fruits, another for flowers and so on,” Chakraborty said.It was found out that 114 boats have been made in Hooghly district. Each boat would have two shops each. They would be stationary beside the ramps. The market timings are yet to be decided by the KMDA, but tentatively been fixed at 5 am-1 pm and 3 pm-8 pm.”We will avoid using plastic. We will instal a purifier for cleaning the water. The expenditure is expected to be about Rs 10 crore,” Chakraborty said, adding that the market was expected to be ready by the end of January 2018 and would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at her convenience.The market would include a cafe, a joggers’ track, seats, fountains and a light-and-sound show in the evening.

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BJP says it will go alone in the 2019 Telangana elections

BJP would go it alone in the 2019 elections in Telangana and the party is confident of winning them, state BJP chief K Laxman said on Tuesday.”We will not have any alliances. BJP will fight alone and get elected to power in the next elections in Telangana,” he told reporters.Legislative Assembly elections would be held along with the Lok Sabha polls in Telangana in 2019.People of the state are disappointed with the ruling TRS as it has failed to implement its election promises, he alleged.”People have waited patiently for over three years to see, if CM KCR (Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao) would deliver on his manifesto promises, but they were left totally hopeless in this year,” Laxman claimed.The main opposition Congress has nothing to new offer to the people, he claimed.”BJP is declaring an electoral war against TRS in the year 2018. Congress has nothing new to offer to the people of Telangana, they will be rejected in this state as they are being rejected everywhere in India,” he added.BJP currently has a strength of five MLAS in the 119-member house.Saying that BJP has reached out to the masses in 2017, Laxman hoped that the new year would be good for the party.

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From foes to friends: BJP’s Eknath Khadse and NCP’s Ajit Pawar likely to share stage on December 28

Veteran BJP leader Eknath Khadse, NCP leader Ajit Pawar and Shiv Sena leader Suresh Jain are likely to share the stage on the eve of NCP MLA’s Satish Patils’s 60th birthday celebrations in Jalgaon, which will fall on December 28.As the leader of opposition, Khadse was a staunch critic of Ajit Pawar, but this birthday celebration is likely throw some new political equations in Maharashtra. It will be interesting to see what transpires among these heavy weight leaders.Sources told DNA that Khadse, who was a potential chief ministerial candidate, has been questioned by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over his work in the state. Speaking to DNA, Khadse admitted that his loyalists are pressurizing him to leave the BJP even though he has spent over 40 years in the party. “I am getting offers from the Congress as well as NCP,” Khadse said, but added that he had not yet made up his mind.The NCP has decided to tie up with the Congress for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and Pawar has started mobilizing support. “We received overwhelming response. Vidharba people also understood that the BJP has cheated them. They only made the tall promises when it come to materialising, they faltered. Our people who left NCP in 2014, now want to come back,” Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson said.Sources said that Khadse and Pawar have scheduled a separate and confidential meeting on sidelines of the birthday celebrations to discuss the current Maharashtra’s political situations.

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After 2 year delay, Panchyat polls in J&K in Feb

Ending the long wait and suspense, Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to hold the panchayat elections from February 15, in the strife-torn state.The decision to hold the panchayat polls after a gap of two years was made in the cabinet meeting chaired by J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti a few days ago.Mehbooba, on Monday, drove to Raj Bhavan to inform Governor NN Vohra about the dates for the panchayat elections. “During their half hour meeting, the Chief Minister informed the Governor about several important matters with regard to which the Cabinet had taken decisions a few days ago. She also informed about her Government’s decision to commence the panchayat polls from February 15, 2018,” said an official spokesman.The Governor, the official spokesman said, reiterated his concern about the vital importance of ensuring prompt redressal of public grievances and for the entire administrative system to function in a truly transparent and accountable manner, to promote public welfare.Seen as one of the biggest achievements of the Omar Abdullah government, the panchayat elections were last held in 2011, after a 33 year hiatus in Jammu and Kashmir.More than 80 per cent people had defied the terrorists and cast their votes in the panchayat elections in 2011. More than 33,000 panchayat representatives were elected in the 2011 polls.The panchayat elections were due last year, but due to the post-Burhan Wani killing unrest, they got postponed indefinitely.Last month, Vohra had set the ball rolling for holding the elections in the winter of 2017-18.Since the Assembly was not in session, Vohra had promulgated the ordinance, so that no time is lost in commencing preparations for the conduct of the pending elections.Considering the time-frame for the forthcoming elections, the Governor issued the J&K Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, to empower the State Chief Electoral Officer to determine and delimit Halqa (block) panchayats and conduct panchayat polls.

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Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel International airport to be abuzz with VVIPs today

Over 50 flights including 10 charter planes carrying VVIPs are scheduled to arrive at the Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel International (SVPI) airport here on Tuesday morning.Chief ministers of different states as well as cabinet ministers will arrive on Tuesday to attend the swearing-in ceremony where Vijay Rupani will take oath as Chief Minister and Nitin Patel as Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat respectively for the second consecutive term.Highly placed sources at the airport said, “We have got information for about 50 flights having CMs as well as Union ministers and have made arrangements accordingly. PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah will also be arriving for the ceremony.”All ministers will be arriving in the morning, which is a peak time at airport and may clash with the regular flight schedule. However, airport officials claim that operations will run smoothly and there will not be any issues faced by passengers.A source said, “Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP National General Secretary Dr Anil Jain, Union Minister of road, transport and highways Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for consumer affairs Ramvilas Paswan, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Anupriya Patel would participate.”

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India celebrates Christmas with much fanfare

Midnight masses and carols in praise of Lord Jesus marked Christmas on Monday as the country got into a festive mood with people thronging markets donning Santa Claus caps and gospel bands enthralling the merry-makers.Worshippers across the country gathered in churches and cathedrals decorated with twinkling lights for the midnight service to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.Persons dressed up as Santa Claus cheered the revellers at several places such as malls, markets and parks.Christmas trees, bells, gifts and cakes were flooded in the markets where several people wearing Santa Claus’ signature cap could be seen enjoying the festive spirit.Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished people on Christmas, saying, “We remember the noble teachings of Lord Christ”.”Merry Christmas to all fellow citizens, especially our Christian brothers and sisters. May the festival bring happiness to our families and our shared society,” President Ram Nath Kovind said on his official Twitter handle.Vice President Venkaiah Naidu also wished all citizens on Christmas.”It reaffirms our faith in the values of compassion and forgiveness taught by Lord Jesus Christ for the enlightenment of humanity. May this bring peace, harmony and happiness,” a post on the Twitter handle of the Vice President said.Christmas was celebrated with full fervour in the national capital as thousands gathered in churches and decked up cathedrals.As the bells tolled, people thronged the churches — including the Cathedral Church of The Redemption and Sacred Heart Cathedral.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Merry Christmas” and celebrated the festival by attending several Christmas programmes in the capital.The neighbourhoods of churches reverberated with traditional Christmas carols, with gospel bands enthralling the merry-makers with songs such as ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Oh Holy Night’ and ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’.In Kerala, which has a sizeable Christian population, special prayers, midnight masses and low key festivities on Monday marked Christmas as the state witnessed massive devastation and loss of life due to cyclone Ockhi last month.Senior bishops and priests led special masses and gave out Christmas messages at cathedrals and churches across the state.In his Christmas message, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan urged people to observe the day standing along with those who suffered in the cyclone.In Goa, which has around 27% Christian population, the peal of the midnight bells in churches and the carols in praise of Lord Jesus ushered in the Christmas festivities.The capital city Panaji was lit up and the markets gleamed with Christmas trees, bells, gifts, cakes and bebinca (a traditional Goan dessert), as tourists flocked to celebrate the festival in the coastal state.Cribs, decorated in beautiful ways and displaying the birth of Lord Jesus, were seen at several houses in the state.A larger-than-life crib installed in front of Mary Immaculate Conception Church in Panaji was a major attraction with thousands of tourists visiting the place since midnight.The streets of Panaji and Margao, the two main cities of Goa, were packed with vehicles till the wee hours as people participated in the traditional dance parties after the prayer service.The celebrations that commenced on Monday will now continue in the beach state till the New Year.Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Ferrao, in his message, appealed to the people to spread the message of peace, love and harmony.Christmas was also celebrated with traditional gaiety and fervour in Tamil Nadu, with believers thronging churches, including the famous Santhome Basilica Church here, for special prayers and mass.In Chennai, senior bishops and priests conducted special masses at churches and read out the Christmas message at churches across the city.A large number of people thronged the Annai Velankanni church at Besant Nagar in the city, offered prayers and exchanged greetings.Faithful from all over the country gathered in large numbers at Shrine Basilica of our Lady of Health in Vailankanni and also New Jerusalem Church at Tarangambadi, the oldest protestant church in Asia, and offered prayers.Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K Palaniswami and leaders of political parties extended their greetings to the people.The festival mood was also visible in Mumbai. A 65-feet, or as tall as a seven-storey building, pine conifer at a society in Worli attracted visitors, for its tag of being India’s tallest fully decorated Christmas tree.The tree, located at a garden in Adarsh Nagar society in South Mumbai’s Worli area, has been decorated with over 10,000 lights, bells, images of reindeer and snowmen, and a waving Santa Claus.Kolkata celebrated Christmas by holding midnight masses and carols that continued through the day.A man dressed as Santa takes selfie at St. Pauls Cathedral during Christmas celebrations in Kolkata, on Monday. In an unpleasant incident, a church was vandalised on Christmas day by two unidentified drunken youths in Tura town of Meghalaya.The incident was caught in CCTV camera of the Baptist Church at Hawakana area of the town and it had also gone viral on social media with people condemning the incident which took place hours after the midnight service.In Uttar Pradesh, police kept a strict vigil across the state to ensure Christmas festivities passed off peacefully in the wake of the Hindu Jagran Manch warning against celebrating the festival. Christmas celebrations at a mall in Vaishali, Ghaziabad on Monday. All SPs were put on maximum alert in the districts after the Manch, an RSS-affiliate, recently issued a circular threatening all Aligarh schools against celebrating Christmas saying, they would be doing it “at their own risk”.

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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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RK Nagar bypoll: Dhinakaran rises against all odds to stump rivals

Sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran who scripted an emphatic win in the RK Nagar assembly bypoll has proved his main campaign line that he will be chosen by people to succeed ‘Amma’ (late chief minister Jayalalithaa), who represented the constituency twice.The victory, against all odds, including loss of Two Leaves symbol and a slew of cases against him, is being seen as a worrying development both for AIADMK and principal opposition DMK, which finished third behind the ruling party.After the revolt by Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Dhinakaran has vowed to unseat the regime, accusing him of having betrayed the faith reposed in him by jailed party leader and his aunt V K Sasikala.Also readTTV Dhinakaran wins RK Nagar bypoll, DMK and BJP candidates lose depositThe suave Dhinakaran was handpicked by Sasikala to lead the party when she went to the Parapana Agrahara Jail in Bengaluru to serve a four year jail term in a disproportionate assets case in February this year.Dhinakaran is not new to electoral politics. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1999 from Periyakulam and to the Rajya Sabha in 2004.Also readRK Nagar bypoll result: Subramanian Swamy calls for accountability after BJP gets lesser votes than NOTAKnown for his brilliant organisation skills, he was a key player in party appointments albeit from behind the screens and during parleys with allies at the time of elections.However, his sudden emergence as party Deputy General Secretary slowly ruffled feathers and Palaniswami teamed up with then rival leader and now Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to form the main bloc of AIADMK which now has the Two-Leaves symbol.In April-May last, Dhinakaran went through a rough patch with the Delhi Police arresting him for allegedly trying to bribe Election Commission officials to get the ‘two leaves’ symbol. Among others, he also faces a FERA case.Eighteen of his loyalist MLAs were disqualified by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal months ago and a case in this regard is pending before the Madras High Court.Post the merger of the factions led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and now his deputy O Panneerselvam, a general council meeting of AIADMK in September had annulled the appointment of Sasikala as the party general secretary and all subsequent appointments/removals made by her, including that of Dhinakaran.Unfazed, 54-year old Dhinakaran, who alongwith Sasikala had worked closely with Jayalalithaa for about three decades, moved on confidently and continued to meet his supporters in all the districts.Articulate, outgoing and sociable, Dhinakaran, a former MP, has been asserting that party cadres were with him and he was led by “Chinnamma Sasikala,” a true successor to ‘Amma’.His appeal to vote for him was in simple, plain spoken everyday Tamil unlike the bombastic style of some leaders.To their credit, Dhinakaran and his followers were able to take the ‘pressure cooker symbol’ to the voters.In about two decades, he is the first independent candidate to be elected in Tamil Nadu and that too with such a huge margin scoring higher than that of Jayalalithaa in 2016 Assembly polls.In that election, Jayalalithaa had won by a margin of 39,545 votes defeating DMK nominee Shimla Muthuchozhan. While Jayalalithaa secured 97,218 votes, the DMK candidate 57,673 votes.Despite the spectacular poll show, Dhinakaran and his followers face the allegation of attempting to bribe the voters through ingenious ways. DMK Working President MK Stalin alleged money power behind today’s electoral outcome.

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TTV Dhinakaran wins RK Nagar bypoll, DMK and BJP candidates lose deposit

In a bitterly fought election which can have huge political implications in Tamil Nadu, sidelined AIADMK leader and independent candidate TTV Dhinakaran on Sunday secured a comfortable win in the RK Nagar bypoll. Dhinakaran polled 89,013 votes out of total 1,76,885 votes while his nearest rival, official AIADMK candidate E Madhusudhanan, secured 48,306 votes. All other 57 candidates, including DMK’s Maruthu Ganesh, 24,651 votes, and BJP’s Karu Nagarajan, 1417 votes, lost deposits. The bypoll held on December 21 had seen a record 77.68% voter turnout. RK Nagar, represented twice by Jayalalithaa, has an electorate of 2,28,234, comprising 1,10,903 men, 1,17,232 women and 99 transgenders.Also readRK Nagar bypoll result: Subramanian Swamy calls for accountability after BJP gets lesser votes than NOTAIn the 2016 Assembly polls, the then AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa had secured 97,218 votes which was almost 58% of the total votes polled. His sucessor Dhinakaran has secured 50.32% of the total votes. The 2015 RK Nagar bypoll, Jayalalithaa was elected by a huge margin of 1.5 lakh votes. The constituency had then had witnessed a record 75 per cent turnout.Also readRK Nagar bypoll: Dhinakaran says trends reflect people wanting changeThe contest for the seat, which was represented by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, had become a battle of prestige for both Dhinakaran and AIADMK faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami. Even before the poll results were announced and trends showed Dhinakaran leading, he said it was time for the state government to go. During the counting that began 8 am at Queen Mary’s College here, Dhinakaran kept a comfortable lead over his rival. Also readTTV Dhinakaran wins RK Nagar bypoll by over 40,000 votes, deals huge blow to ruling AIADMK For Dhinakaran, who lost the Two Leaves election symbol to AIADMK following merger of factions led by Palaniswami and former rebel O Panneerselvam, the bypoll success will give him another chance to claim that he represent the welfare legacy of Jayalalithaa. For the ruling EPS-OPS regime, the loss is a huge blow. The run up to the bypoll saw political parties and candidates holding as many as 152 public meetings and taking out 605 processions with the campaigning ending on December 19. There were also widespread allegations of distribution of money, use of state machinery and carious other wrongdoings. The nomination for the seat also was not without controversy, with the nomination papers of two high profile candidates – actor Vishal and Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar – being rejected.

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BJP picks Jai Ram Thakur as new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh

Five-time BJP MLA Jairam Thakur will be the new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh after he was elected as the leader of the BJP legislature party on Sunday. The decision was taken in the Legislative Party’s meet in Shimla . Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Narendra Singh Tomar, and state party in-charge Mangal Pandey were present at the meeting. Jairam Thakur thanked the central leadership and senior party leaders after being made legislative party leader in Himachal Pradesh.Earlier, top state leaders, including former CM Shanta Kumar and Virender Kashyap, had categorically told Sitharaman that “only elected member should be made the Chief Minister”.Seraj MLA Jai Ram Thakur, 52, is the real representative of the young generation, maintain many party leaders in Madhya Pradesh. Thakur is a five-time elected MLA and had been seen as a Chief Minister-in-waiting for a long time. Also readHow BJP’s victory in Gujarat and Himachal will impact Bengal political equationsWhile former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had last night opted out of the race, Thakur, a MLA from Seraj in Mandi district, and Union minister J P Nadda were the frontrunners for the chief minister’s office.A lack of consensus among the newly elected MLAs had resulted in the two central observers — Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar — returning to Delhi from Shimla yesterday to hold fresh consultation with the central leadership.A 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.Related Photos
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In Pics: BJP celebrates its wins in Gujarat and Himachal(With PTI inputs)

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RK Nagar bypoll: Dinakaran says trends reflect people wanting change

With early trends of counting of votes for RK Nagar bypoll favouring independent candidate TTV Dinakaran, the sidelined leader on Sunday said it showed that people want a change of regime.The sidelined AIADMK leader said, “We are the true AIADMK… people of RK Nagar have elected Amma’s successor.” He also sought to make light of the K Palaniswami camp winning the Two Leaves symbol after both camps staked a claim for it before the Election Commission.”During my recent visits to various parts of Tamil Nadu such as Avinashi (Tirupur) and Arumanai (Kanyakumari), people said the pressure cooker (his poll symbol at RK Nagar) will win. They want a change of this regime,” he said.Dhinakaran’s statement to reporters here came in response to the early leads he had taken against his AIADMK rival E Madhusudhanan and DMK’s N Maruthu Ganesh.Claiming victory, he said “this is the best gift for the 1.5 crore party supporters” on the 30th death anniversary of party founder, the late Chief Minister MG Ramachandran, fondly addressed as MGR.On the symbol issue, with the Election Commission awarding it recently to the Palaniswamy-led camp, Dhinakaran said only a candidate determines the symbol.”We are the true AIADMK. A candidate determines the symbol. I have already said the ‘Two Leaves’ will be a success symbol only if it was with Puratchi Thalaivar (MGR) and Amma (Jayalalithaa). Will the people vote if it is handed over to MN Nambiar and PS Veerappa,” he asked, amidst chuckles from his supporters.Nambiar and Veerappa are famous yesteryear villains, with the former being cast against MGR in many of the matinee idol’s films.Dhinakaran said the Palaniswami government will “end in three months.”Meanwhile, jubilant supporters of Dhinakaran celebrated by distributing sweets and bursting crackers, while exuding confidence that their leader would triumph with a thumping margin.

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Army Major, 3 soldiers killed in Pak firing in Keri sector, J&K CM pays tribute

Pakistani troops opened fire on an Indian Army patrol, killing a Major and three soldiers, along the Line of Control (LoC) in Keri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district today, officials said.The latest violation of the ceasefire agreement took place at a time when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was camping in Rajouri district headquarters to address people’s grievances, they said. A defence spokesman said Pakistani troops targeted the Army patrol at Brat Galla in Keri sector at around 1215 hours. “We suffered three fatal casualties including one officer in the incident. Major Moharkar Prafulla Ambadas, Lance Naik Gurmail Singh and Sepoy Pargat Singh were grievously injured during the ceasefire violation and succumbed to their injuries. Two other personnel also sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment,” the spokesman said.Defence sources, however, said four Army personnel were killed in the “unprovoked” firing.The Army, in a statement, said that Indian troops retaliated “strongly and effectively”. Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh paid rich tributes to the slain soldiers and condemned Pakistan for the ceasefire violation. “Pakistan is indulging in such cowardly actions and is being given a befitting response, but it does not desist from such cowardly acts,” Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.Major Ambadas (32) belonged to Bhandara district in Maharashtra and is survived by wife Avoli Moharkar, while Lance Naik Gurmail Singh (34) belonged to Amritsar district in Punjab and is survived by wife kuljit Kaur and a daughter.Also readPeace talks only when Pakistan stops supporting terror in Jammu and Kashmir: General Bipin RawatSepoy Pargat Singh (30) belonged to Karnal district in Haryana and is survived by wife Ramanpreet Kaur and a son, the Army said. “Major Ambadas, Lance Naik Gurmail and Sepoy Pargat were brave and sincere soldiers. The nation will always remain indebted to them for their supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty,” the Army statement said. The deputy chief minister said Pakistan has got isolated at the global stage, especially on the issue of terrorism. “Pakistan is a terrorist state and it will not be too long before the country is declared a terrorist state by the world. It does not only support terrorism but also provide state sponsorship,” Singh said. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today paid rich tributes to four Army personnel, including a Major, killed in Pakistani firing along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district.Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti paid rich tributes to the Army Major and three jawans who were killed in an incident of cross-border shelling at Keri sector in Rajouri district,” an official spokesperson said. He said the chief minister had conveyed her heartfelt condolences to the families of the slain soldiers.

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Goa CM Manohar Parrikar announces free medical facilities for outstation patients

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday announced that outstation patients will continue to get free-of-cost emergency medical procedures in the state-run hospitals, although they will be charged nominal fees for other medical facilities.Currently, the residents of Goa as well as patients from outside the state can avail the medical facilities free of cost in the state.The government had yesterday announced that it would start charging nominal fees from the patients from other states for undergoing treatment at the state-run hospitals from January 1.The state health department had earlier decided that from December, certain fees would be imposed on the patients from other states for getting treatment at the government-run hospitals. The decision was taken considering increasing rush at Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) near here. However, the government had later put the plan on hold.Talking to reporters here today, Parrikar said, “The Goa government is responsible for the Goans and therefore we will take care of Goans. We have no objections to treat the patients from neighbouring states, but we have applied minimal charges for them.”Also readGoa: Govt. hospitals to charge nominal fee for outstation patientsThe chief minister was speaking after launching six new 108 ambulances near here.”All the emergency procedures are free irrespective of who the person is and from where he has come,” he said.Also readForeigner carrying Rs 4 lakh worth of drugs arrested in Goa ahead of Christmas celebrationsParrikar said the non-Goan patients will not be denied normal procedures and will be charged only 20% of the actual cost specified in Deen Dayal Swasthya Seva Yojana (DDSSY), a state health insurance scheme.He said the local residents will have to produce DDSSY cards as a proof of being the residents of Goa to avail the facilities at these hospitals.Besides the GMCH, the state runs two district hospitals,one each in Margao and Mapusa, besides several primary and community health centres.

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Vote share rise only silver lining for Congress in urban seats

To say that Congress lost the 2017 assembly elections in the four largest cities of Gujarat would be an understatement. The truth is that the party was roasted. This in spite of the fact that Congress won one more seat in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot cities, and even its vote-share was higher, as compared with 2012 polls.In the 2012 assembly elections, Congress had won three out of 36 seats in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, and Vadodara cities. It had won two seats in Ahmedabad, and one in Rajkot.Move forward to 2017, the Congress won four out of the 36 seats, all of them in Ahmedabad. Voters in Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot firmly backed the BJP, as a result of which Congress failed to win a single seat in these cities.A closer look at the election results shows that Congress failed to add to its tally despite a 2.5% rise in its vote-share in the four cities over 2012 polls.In 2012, Congress had a vote-share of 31.7% in the 36 urban seats of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot. This has gone up to 34.2% in 2017 polls.The vote share of BJP, which won only 99 out of 182 assembly seats, its worst performance in the state since 1995, was unchanged in the four cities at 61%. In other words, in spite of the simmering anger over demonetisation and GST, Congress failed to draw away voters from BJP, and the higher vote share was at the cost of other parties and independent candidates.In the 2017 assembly elections, of the 60.20 lakh votes cast in the 36 urban seats of the four large cities of Gujarat, BJP got 36.77 lakh votes, and Congress 20.56 lakh.In 2012 polls, BJP had got 32.65 lakh out of 53.65 lakh votes case, while Congress had got a little over 17 lakh.Though overall BJP’s vote share remained steady in the four key cities, the analysis reveals different patterns in each city.In Ahmedabad for instance, BJP’s vote-share declined from 62.50% in 2012 to 60.3% in 2017, and Congress’s share rose from 31% to over 35.5% – not surprising given that it won two more seats in the city over the previous elections.In Surat, both parties saw their vote share going up. BJP’s share was up from 60% to 62.6%, and that of Congress up from 30.6% to 32.8%.In contrast, vote share of both parties declined in Vadodara city, whereas in Rajkot, from where Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was among the candidates, BJP’s vote share surged sharply, and that of Congress fell somewhat.IN NUMBERSAhmedabad: 14-2 for BJP in 2012; 12-4 for BJP in 2017Surat: 12-0 for BJP in 2012; 12-0 for BJP in 2017Vadodara: 5-0 for BJP in 2012; 5-0 for BJP in 2017Rajkot: 2-1 for BJP in 2012; 3-0 for BJP in 2017

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Who will be new Gujarat CM? BJP MLAs to meet tomorrow to decide

Newly elected BJP MLAs of Gujarat will meet in Gandhinagar on Friday to choose the next chief minister, a top party official said on Thursday.The BJP legislature party will meet to elect its leader in the presence of central observers for the exercise– Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and party general secretary Saroj Pandey, the party’s state chief Jitu Vaghani told reporters here.State BJP incharge Bhupender Yadav and co-incharge V Satish would also attend the meeting at party headquarters ‘Kamalam’ tomorrow afternoon.Also readGujarat CM Rupani files nomination, says Congress has outsourced election to three activists”All the MLAs along with party observers and in-charge leaders would meet tomorrow to select the leader of the ruling party (chief minister). All the MLAs have been intimated to remain present in tomorrow’s meeting,” Vaghani said.Earlier today, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and members of his council of ministers gave resigned. Rupani, a front-runner for the chief minister’s post, has been asked to continue as caretaker chief minister till a new government is sworn in.Governor O P Kohli had dissolved the Assembly yesterday following the declaration of election results.In the recently concluded polls, BJP retained power by winning 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, while the Congress bagged 77. Six seats were won by others.

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Former India minister Raja acquitted of telecoms fraud

Government auditors had said the scandal cost the country about $40bn (£29.9bn).

Chennai: A day before RK Nagar bypolls, video of Jayalalithaa in hospital triggers row

Setting off a political controversy a day ahead of RK Nagar bypoll, a video purportedly showing late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in a hospital was released by sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran’s loyalist today.Amid questions raised about timing of the about 20 second video, aired by TV channels and later went viral on the social media,election officials asked channels to stop it’s telecast, saying it was a violation of the model code of conduct.The footage, showing a frail looking AIADMK supremo in a nightdress and sipping what appeared to be a health drink with a straw, was released by Vetrivel, disqualified AIADMK MLA and election agent of Dhinakaran, contesting the bypoll as an independent.A police complaint was lodged by Returning Officer of RK Nagar assembly constituency against Vetrivel, who said he released it in view of doubts raised over the circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation and death.AIADMK hit out at Sasikala’s family, saying the video release was a “conspiracy” and a “demeaning” act with an eye on tomorrow’s bypoll, considered an acid test for the ruling dispensation,being the first poll after Jayalalithaa’s demise.Suspicions have been raised over circumstances leading to Jayalalithaa’s demise by several persons, including now deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and his followers.The state government has appointed a retired Madras High Court judge as the one-man commission of inquiry to look into the circumstances leading to her death.DMK, which raised the issue of doubts over Jayalalithaa’s death during the campaign, and several others alleged that the video had been released with an eye on the bypoll.Defending the release of the video, Vetrivel said he did it on his own “out of mental agony. Later Dhinakaran called me and asked me why I did so,” he told PTI.Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni told reporters that TV channels were asked to immediately stop airing the clip, which they duly complied with.He said telecast or display of any election-related material 48 hours before conclusion of the poll was barred under election laws.Returning Officer Praveen Nair, in his complaint said the video release violated the model code and the Representation of the People’s Act.”Neither the candidate nor his election agent obtained any permission from the Media Certification Monitoring Committee, which is also a violation of the Code,” he said.The high stakes bypoll is being held to fill the vacancy caused by the death of sitting MLA Jayalalithaa on December 5 last year.She was admitted to Apollo Hospital here on September 22 last year after she complained of fever and dehydration. She died of cardiac arrest after 75 days in the hospital.There was no response from Apollo Hospital to a query on the veracity of the video, which showed Jayalalithaa sipping the drink with a straw from a use-and-throw glass topped with a lid. On her bedside was the portrait of a deity.Ruling AIADMK, which has sidelined the Sasikala family, said the video release amounted to bringing “disrepute” to the late Chief Minister’s fame and image.”This demeaning (act) is a planned conspiracy by the Sasikala family to bring disrepute to Amma’s fame and image, done keeping in mind the (RK Nagar) bypoll,” said senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar.AIADMK supporters and the people would not accept this, he told reporters here.He also asked why they did not approach the inquiry commission probing the death of the AIADMK supremo.DMK working president M K Stalin said the footage was released with an ‘ulterior motive.’In a Facebook post, he said the clip was released at a time when RK Nagar people were set to vote.”To tackle their party (AIADMK) problem and to divert people, the video has been released with an ulterior motive.. They have come forward to make Jayalalithaa a scapegoat even after her death…As usual,” he charged.Stating that the video would also raise doubts among the public as to how Jayalalithaa died after recuperating so well, he said Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Panneerselvam should answer such suspicions.Sasikala’s niece Krishnapriya claimed the video was taken by her aunt at the request of Jayalalithaa herself and it had been released without her (aunt’s) nod.Terming it as a “big mistake” and “betrayal of trust” on the part of Vetrivel, she said action should have been taken by now by Dhinakaran against him.Krishnapriya is the daughter of Ilavarasi, wife of the brother of Sasikala, who is also serving the prison term along with Sasikala in the disproportionates assets case.”Chinnamma did not release the video to defend her even when she faced many charges.We gave the video to Dhinakaran.It was Sasikala who asked us to give it to him for submission to the inquiry commission if needed and not for public display,” she said and wondered “why and how” it reached Vetrivel.On the date on which the video was shot, she said it was taken a “month or two” after Jayalalithaa was hospitalised.”First she was in ICU and later she was brought to a room and the video was shot at that time,” she claimed.

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Jammu and Kashmir: Cases against 5,000 stone pelters to be withdrawn

A committee set up by the Jammu and Kashmir government has recommended the withdrawal of cases against 5,000 youths, accused of pelting stones on security forces, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said the government of Jammu and Kashmir has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the state director general of police to review the cases registered against the youths and examine the legal aspects of withdrawal or closure of such cases which are not heinous in nature.”The committee has recommended 850 cases involving 4,961 (one-time offenders) persons/youths subject to certain terms and condition to the state government,” he said, replying to a written question.The move came after Home Minister Rajnath Singh requested Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to do the needful to withdraw cases against those who were accused of pelting stones for the first time.

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School students made to serve snacks to MP state minister to learn ‘hospitality’

A school in Madhya Pradesh has landed in controversy after students were made to serve tea and snacks at the state government’s Balrang Samaroh in Bhopal where state education minister Vijay Shah was present.Defending the movie, Shah said that while there was staff available, students were asked to serve so that they learned the values of hospitalityHowever, Anju Bhadoria, the convenor of the Lok Shikshan Sanchalanalaya in Madhya Pradesh said that while it has been a tradition for students to serve, she felt it was wrong and she later stopped the students from doing so.In May this year, school teachers were ordered by the education authorities in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh to serve food to guests at a government-sponsored mass wedding.The District Education Officer (DEO), however, clarified that this order was not mandatory for the teachers. An organisation of primary and middle school teachers has termed the order as violation of Right to Education (RTE) Act, which does not allow using services of teachers for such purposes. The education department in Singrauli, in the order, had directed the teachers to serve food to the guests at the mass wedding ceremony, in which 2,400 couples tied knots in presence of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other dignitaries.

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Drug users can dance all night while alcohol consumers cannot, says Manohar Parrikar

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday urged the need to control rave parties in the state and bring down the use of drugs as those who use drugs can dance all night while the alcohol users can only dance for two to three hours.”Without drugs, you can’t dance until morning. With alcohol you can dance at the most two to three hours,” Parrikar said in the assembly while responding to a ‘calling attention’ moved on the crackdown of drug mafia in Goa. The calling attention was moved by Congress MLA Pratapsingh Rane.Parrikar also said that next year will be an anti-drug year and the state government will rigorously work to bring down the sale of drugs in the state. “Let us consider 2018 as anti-drug and anti-accident mission for Goa. We will make sure that we will deport those foreigners, who are overstaying in the state,” he said.Responding to the suggestions made by the Congress legislators, Parrikar said the total number of cases of sale of narcotics booked this year has increased by 2.6 times as compared to the annual average.To avoid the number of foreigners who overstay, the chief minister said from January onwards, a detention centre would be started in Mapusa.”The construction of the centre is completed. We will put the foreigners involved in such activity in the detenion centre and later deported,” he added.He claimed that many foreigners come down to Goa and burn their travel documents.”We cannot keep them in jail and hence will keep them in a detention centre,” he said.The chief minister also said that the state government will take on board experts with the knowledge about drugs, so that the state police know about the new kind of narcotics introduced in the market, which needs to be tracked.He also said that the state government is planning to launch an online portal, where people can file complaints about drugs and their name would be kept confidential.”The state government is also trying to set up or make active de-addiction centres,” he said.Parrikar said the number of officers in Anti Narcotic Cell (ANC) of Goa Police should be increased as currently the number os small.”We need to strengthen the ANC. The current strength of the cell is 30, which needs to be increased to 100,” he said.Responding to the statements made by the Congress legislators during the discussion today, Parrikar said, “while I appreciate why members have said that the impact of it is not as deep as you think.” The chief minister said that supply of drugs in the educational institutes is not a new thing.”The supply of drugs is not new to institutions, where there is high student percentage. I have seen drugs in 1973 in my college days at IIT,” he said.(With inputs from PTI)

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RK Nagar bypoll | Election campaign ends today; prestige battle for AIADMK

Campaigning for the high-stakes December 21 bypoll to the RK Nagar assembly seat here will end this evening and the outcome of the hustings is likely to be seen as a report card of the 17-month old AIADMK government.The political campaign will end by 5 pm and the Election Commission has made it clear that there will be no related activities afterwards as per rules.The outcome of the by-election could serve as a report card of the ruling AIADMK which faced turbulence after late chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death.The campaign witnessed the top leaders of various parties — Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam of the AIADMK, DMK leader MK Stalin and sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran — reaching out to voters with hectic campaign schedules.All parties are keen to make a mark in the election which has become a battle of pride as Jayalalithaa represented the constituency earlier. Her death in December last year necessitated the bypoll.The campaign also saw old rivals Stalin and MDMK founder Vaiko share stage for the first time in many years. The opposition is putting up a united show in a bid to to snatch victory in this city segment.Many opposition parties, including the Congress, the VCK and the Left have backed DMK candidate N Maruthuganesh.Dhinakaran, who fell out of favour with Palaniswami and also lost the battle for party’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol to the latter, is fighting as an independent and has expressed confidence that he can spring a surprise against the AIADMK’s E Madhusudhanan as well as the DMK.With 59 candidates in fray, the bypoll is virtually confined to old warhorse Madhusudhanan, DMK’s greenhorn Maruthuganesh and Dhinakaran.Polling will be held on December 21 while the votes will be taken up for counting on December 24.

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PM Modi to make whirlwind tour of Ockhi affected states on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit Lakshadweep,Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Tuesday to assess the damage caused by cyclone Ockhi, which left a trail of destruction in the two states and the Union Territory.The Prime Minister, on a one-day visit, would review the situation arising in the aftermath of the cyclone and status of relief operations at Kavaratti, Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram, official sources said. Modi would fly to Agatti from Mangaluru at around 7.35 AM and leave for Kavratti. After nearly an hour’s programme, he would return to Agatti and fly to Thiruvananthapuram, official sources in Lakshadweep said. On reaching the state capital at around 1.50 PM, he would take a helicopter to Kanyakumari, where he will meet officials and assess the damage caused by the cyclone.The Prime Minister would also get a first hand report from the some of the affected fishermen, district officials at Kanyakumari told PTI. Modi would return to Thiruvananthapuram and visit Poonthura, a nearby fishing village from where some of the deceased fishermen hailed. The Prime Minister would then meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and some of his cabinet colleagues, including revenue minister E Chandrasekharan and Fisheries minister J Mercykutty at the Raj Bhavan, according to sources in the Chief Minister’s office.Chief Secretary K M Abraham would also give a presentation on the calamity and the devastation caused in coastal regions of the state capital, including Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Pozhiyur and Adimalithura. After the meeting,the Prime Minister will leave for Delhi.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Rahul Gandhi writes to PM Modi, seeks special package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and LakshadweepThe Kerala Chief Minister had earlier met Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and sought central assistance of Rs 1,843 crore. The state also wanted the Centre to declare the devastation caused by the cyclone as a national disaster. According to government estimates, 70 persons have so far lost their lives in Kerala in the cyclone and around 105 persons are still missing.Meanwhile,search operations are continuing for the missing fishermen with the state government seeking support of local boat owners. The government has decided to extend the search operations up to Goan shores. The cyclone that hit the state on November 29-30 had also caused large-scale damage to crops and property.

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Assembly elections 2017 results: People rejected caste politics for Gujarat Model of development, says Yogi Adityanath

Reacting to the BJP victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that it was a lesson for those who indulged in “divisive and caste politics” to reject the Gujarat Model of development.“People all over the world have lauded the Gujarat Model except for the Congress. BJP’s win should serve them as a lesson for the Congress,” reacted Chief Minister.“BJP not only retained Gujarat but wrested Himachal Pradesh from the Congress. People have rejected their caste and divisive policies and voted for BJP’s agenda for development,” pointed Yogi Adityanath.He attributed the Gujarat and Himachal win to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It is the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister and party workers’ hard work that enabled the BJP to win at both places,” said the Chief Minister.He said that people of both states has given a befitting reply to the Congress for using unparliamentary language against the Prime Minister and stooping to a new low in politics by forgetting political courtesy.He did not forget to take a dig at the new AICC President Rahul Gandhi saying that he had predicted a few days ago that change of leadership in the Congress will be a good sign for the BJP and beginning of an end for the Congress.The Uttar Pradesh chief minister also said that the BJP win in Gujarat and Himachal has set the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.”It is time for the Congress to do some serious introspection whether or not it should contest 2019 Lok Sabha polls. We will win all 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2019,” said Adityanath giving credit to party President Amit Shah’s poll strategy.

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Himachal Pradesh Election Results 2017 LIVE: BJP takes early lead

The counting of votes for 68 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh that went to polls on November 9 began at 8 am on Monday.The results are expected to come out by afternoon.As many as 50,25,941 voters were eligible to cast their votes and 37,605 polling personnel were deployed at 7,525 polling booths. 983 polling stations were declared vulnerable and 399 critical to ensure free and fair elections in the state.The fate of 337 candidates including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal will be known. Both – the ruling Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – are confident of their victory.Himachal has a tradition of change in government after every elections and going by the trend, this time it is the turn of the BJP which is upbeat after exit poll results.Security personnel have been deployed outside the counting centres to avoid any untoward situation.8:39 IST Monday, 18 December 2017Counting has begun for Himachal Pradesh. BJP is leading in 9 constituencies, Congress in 4.

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Gujarat Election 2017: Confident of bagging more than two-third seats, says BJP

With a day left for the counting of votes in Gujarat Assembly election, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Sunday that he was confident of a landslide victory for ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”I am confident that the results will be in favour of BJP. BJP will form the government and will get more than two-third of the (182 Gujarat Assembly) seats,” Rupani told ANI on Sunday.”Gujarat public has preferred politics of development, and development was brought in by Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and the BJP,” he added.Replying to the allegations of Congress about tampering with electronic voting machines (EVMs), Rupani said the baseless charges had been made “so that the responsibility of defeat does not fall on Rahul Gandhi” when the results would be declared on Monday.Rupani also dismissed Congress ally Hardik Patel’s allegation of 140 engineers being hired to tamper 5000 EVMs, as insignificant.The counting of the two-phase Gujarat Assembly election will be held on Monday.While majority of exit polls have predicted BJP’s win, Congress is hopeful of bagging Patidar votes and overthrowing BJP from 22 years of governance in the state.

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Himachal Elections 2017: A day before counting, both BJP and Congress claim victory

With less than a day to go before the counting of votes begins in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, both ruling Congress and the opposition BJP are claiming victory.While the Congress dismissed the exit poll results, which predicted a BJP victory, the saffron party expressed confidence that their performance would better projections.Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who returned to Shimla after 18 days, dismissed the exit poll results, saying he could well read the mood of the people of the state and the actual results would be opposite to the exit poll projections.”I am confident that ‘mission repeat’ would be achieved and tall claims made by the BJP would be proved wrong,” he told reporters.Singh said he visited every nook and corner of the state during the election campaign and has no doubt the Congress was in a strong position.Also readHimachal Elections 2017: Exit Polls predict BJP will oust Congress in the hill state “The Congress would certainly for the government.” On the other hand, former chief minister and senior BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal was highly optimistic and said the results would be same as projected in the exit polls.Also readBJP exudes confidence after Exit Polls predict wins in Gujarat and Himachal, Congress says wait for D-DayTalking to reporters at his Samirpur residence, Dhumal said the Congress party was upset with the exit polls and was making vague statements. “In fact, the BJP would win more seats than projected in exit-polls,” he said.Dhumal was declared the chief ministerial face of the BJP towards the end of the campaign.

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Chhattisgarh village gets electricity for the first time since Independence

A tribal village in Chhattisgarh’s Balrampur district got electricity connection for the first time.The Jokapatha village, situated in mountainous region, had been deprived of power supply since independence.Expressing happiness over the development, a villager said that the electricity supply would help their children do well in their studies.?We are very happy now that we finally have electricity in our village, now our children can study well and progress in life,? the Sarpanch of Jokapath village told ANI.The students also seemed excited and said they did not like the village in darkness and were happy that they have electricity now.The state government led by Chief Minister Raman Singh has provided electricity connections to the several villages after 70 years of independence.The chief minister announced the electricity development project for the village following which the authorities ordered to provide the village with surplus power.

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Kim Jong-Un in Kerala? BJP’s Sambit Patra tweets CPM poster featuring ‘Rocket Man’

BJP spokesperson Samit Patra on Sunday shared a picture on his Twitter timeline of a place, reportedly in Kerala that had a poster of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The poster also shows the ruling CPM colours, promoting Patra to lash out at the party. However, the authenticity of the picture is still not known.“Kim Jong-un finds place in CPM’s posters in Kerala!! No wonder they have converted Kerala into Killing fields for their opponents! Hope the left is not planning to launch :rocket: missiles at the RSS,BJP offices as their next gruesome agenda! (sic)” he tweeted on Sunday.BJP has alleged that as many as 120 BJP workers, 84 in Kannur alone, have been killed in Kerala since 2001. It has claimed that 14 of these killings have taken place since Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took over the reins of the government last year. The CPI(M) has in turn, accused BJP and RSS of resorting to violence and denied the involvement of its government and leadership in political killings.The murder of the activist in November promoted BJP President Amit Shah to ask Kerala CM , and asked what his government was doing to “curb criminal elements” in the ranks of his CPI(M).Shah blamed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the political killings in the state and said that “More than 120 BJP and RSS workers have been murdered in Kerala so far. CM Vijayan is directly responsible for it.”“Look at the situation of West Bengal Tripura. Communists ruled in these states for longer time,” Shah added

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Instruct district administrations to not attend meetings called by Guv; be worthy of office: Chidambaram tells TN CM

Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday hit out at Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit’s statement that the governor is the titular head of the state, but the real power belongs to the chief minister.“Amused by TN Governor’s statement. Governor is only the ‘titular’ head of the Executive, not the ‘real’ head. Since the real head, the Chief Minister, is cowering in fear of the central government, the TN Governor is exceeding his authority,” Chidambaram tweeted.The former finance minister also sent a message to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palanisami, saying that if he was worthy of the office he held, he (Palanisami) should instruct district administrations to refuse to participate in meetings called by the Governor.Also readTN governor discusses development work in Coimbatore; opposition calls it interference by CentreEarlier, Raj Bhavan in Tamil Nadu issued a press release stating the role of the governor. “The governor is the executive head of the state as per the Constitution. He has complete power to obtain any information connected with the administration of the state and to visit various parts of the state without any restrictions. There have been reports, discussions and comments from various biased quarters about the Constitutional illegality of such actions,” the release said, adding that meetings being held between the governor with district officials is in conformity with his role as governor of state under the provisions of the Constitution of India.On Thursday, Purohit held meetings with officials of Cuddalore district, despite mass protests from the opposition DMK party.On December 7, DMK leader M.K. Stalin had said party supporters will hold peaceful protests against Purohit during his visits to various districts to review developmental works.Stalin said the Governor should stop indulging in “political” work to review projects and instead order Chief Minister K. Palaniswami to prove his government’s majority in the assembly.

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Shiv Sena MLA’s name figures in farm loan-waiver beneficiary list

Shiv Sena MLA Prakash Abitkar has claimed he was named as a beneficiary of the farm loan waiver in the Kolhapur District Central Cooperative Bank, even though he had not applied for it. He has got a loan waiver of Rs 25,000 from the bank.This has come just a day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the scheme was being implemented smoothly. He told the state legislative assembly on Thursday that his government had committed some ‘mistakes’ while implementing the Rs 34,022-crore farm loan waiver scheme, but has fixed all these issues.Abitkar, an MLA from Radhanagari in Kolhapur district, has got the benefit of Maharashtra Government’s loan waiver scheme for drought-affected farmers.Also readOver 1200 farmers committed suicide in 5 months: Maharashtra govtThe Shiv Sena MLA has raised the issue citing faulty implementation of the loan waiver scheme and demanded an inquiry into this flawed inclusion as the rules bar any existing or former elected representative from getting benefit under the scheme.He said, “I was stunned when I came to know that my name appeared in the green list of loan waiver beneficiaries. I was shocked again when I got more details about the list of my (Kolhapur) area. I had not even applied or registered my name anywhere to get the waiver.”The Opposition is directly blaming Fadnavis for this as the Chief Minister Office (CMO) had been working on the data of the beneficiaries of this scheme through information and technology department of Maharashtra.Also readMadhya Pradesh farmer ends life after notice for power bill of over Rs 9,000

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State govt considers ban on plastic use by shopkeepers

The neighbourhood grocer may not be able to sell your monthly supply of staples in plastic bags. Apart from a blanket ban on plastic bags, the state government’s proposed curbs will also include the use of plastic in bags used by shopkeepers for packaging groceries like rice and dal, flex boards, clings for covering fruits and vegetables, buntings and flags.Packaged and mineral water manufacturers may also be asked to establish recycling and processing plants for used plastic bottles under their extended producers’ responsibility.”Apart from plastic bags, spoons, disposable plastic and thermocol plates and cups, we also plan to include plastic for secondary packaging (plastic packaging that is not done at the manufacturers end or for use in logistics and export), plastic clings, flex boards, buntings and flags and non-woven polyester bags in the ban’s ambit. However, we may have to cover this in phases,” said an official from the state environment department.Environment minister Ramdas Kadam has spoken about banning plastic bags from Gudi Padwa (March 2018) considering its environmental impact, while Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has promised a complete ban on plastic in six months with alternatives being put in place.The state also plans to ban water packaged in PET bottles for sale in starred residential hotels and for serving in government and semi-government offices, educational institutions and their functions.In the later phase, plastic bottles in restaurants, private offices and mass functions may be banned. This will reduce the use of plastic bottles which are discarded, unlike glass bottles which are recycled.CHOKING ON PLASTICMaharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) officials estimate that around 3-5 per cent of municipal waste generated consists of plastic. While the MPCB will oversee plastic manufacturers, municipal bodies will regulate shops with the ban on dispensing plastic bags being built into license conditions.

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Kejriwal govt to act tough against Delhi schools hiking fees

The Delhi government has toughened its stand against private schools hiking fees citing implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission and called a meeting of all the MLAs and education department officials.Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia met at the Delhi Secretariat today following complaints from parents that schools have increased their fees and are asking for arrears.”The chief minister and his deputy discussed the issue and a meeting of all the MLAs and education department officials has been called tomorrow,” a senior govt official said.”The MLAs will get data regarding complaints against private schools in their area which have increased the fees,” the official added.The Directorate of Education (DoE) had also written to schools recently asking them to refrain from any “unjustified” hike in school fees in the name of implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations.

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‘Revolt against guardians if they insist on dowry,’ Sushil Modi tells youngsters

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday exhorted the youngsters to “revolt” against their guardians if they insisted on demanding dowry for marriage.The senior BJP leader made the fervent appeal to the youth on the sidelines of an anti-dowry campaign organised by a Hindi newspaper in the state capital here.The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar had launched a statewide campaign against dowry and child marriage on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.Modi had hosted the wedding of his son here in a simple way on December 3.Deviating from the tradition, Modi’s son’s wedding was held during the day and without any ornate arrangements, musical bands or feasts. All the guests were requested not to bring gifts and were given a packet, containing four laddoos, each.”Young men should show the courage and tell their elders that they will revolt if dowry is taken for their marriage. Such a bold step will put an end to this social evil, which afflicts the affluent and the poor alike,” Modi said.Delving into history, the deputy chief minister said, “Dowry was unheard of in ancient India. Girls used to choose their life partners through a swayamvar. In the memoirs of Megasthenes, we find no mention of dowry. Apparently, the society subsequently started believing that a good match for a girl could only be found in exchange for money. This has to end.”He also urged the women to play an important role in rooting out the evil practice of dowry.”An important role has to be played by the women too as they are at the receiving end of this. The habit of celebrating the birth of a boy and being unhappy when a girl is born needs to be given up. Girls must be brought up with care and given a good education, so that they become economically self-reliant,” Modi said.”Bihar is the land of Jayaprakash Narayan, who had called for a total revolution in the 1970s. We must strive to realise his dream and strike at the roots of social evils like dowry.This cannot be done only through laws, which have been in place for long. Public awareness is a must to bring about the desired change,” he added.

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Mamata Banerjee likely to talk about drinking water problem at Purulia today

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be addressing a public meeting at Purulia district on Tuesday. On Monday, she had conducted a meeting with district TMC leaders such as party MLA and Purulia district TMC president Shantiram Mahato, MLA Sandhyarani Tudu. Sources said that district leaders had expressed their concern over the paucity of drinking water in Purulia.In the meeting which had lasted over an hour, sources said that Mamata wanted to know about the prime concerns of the area and had been told about how some of the villages of the district had been reeling under severe drinking problem and in spite of many discussions and meetings in the past, there had been no solution to it.Ahead of the Panchayat elections next year, BJP has already started raking up the issue of dearth of drinking water here and that has been a major cause of concern for the TMC leadership in Purulia. BJP had been talking about the lack of infrastructural development in the district and TMC leaders know that the had been pushed at the back foot owing to the problem of potable water.Also readMamata Banerjee says will protect Muslims, Dalits in stateIt is expected that Mamata would be talking about the drinking water problem at the meeting on Monday and would assure people that a solution would be found soon.Works undertaken by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are on but so far have not produced any desired solution to people’s plight.Also readMamata banerjee mocks Swachh Bharat mission over Sri Lankan players wearing masksAt about 1 pm Mamata is scheduled to inaugurate several welfare projects and address a public meeting at Jaipur area of the district.Ahead of the meeting, on Sunday some leaders from CPI(M) and Congress had defected to TMC.

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Gujarat elections 2017: PM slams Congress for Pak ‘poll-meddling’ in Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on?Sunday that Pakistan was interfering in the Gujarat Assembly elections, and asked the Congress to come clean on reports of its top functionaries recently meeting leaders from the neighbouring country.The PM also raised questions over a reported appeal by former director-general of the Pakistan Army Sardar Arshad Rafiq, that Congress leader Ahmed Patel be made Gujarat’s Chief Minister in case the Congress wins the elections. The PM said former Congress minister Mani Shankar Aiyar had called him “neech” (vile) a day after an alleged meeting of Pakistani leaders with top Congress functionaries.”There were media reports on Saturday about a three-hour closed-door meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house. It was attended by Pakistan’s high commissioner, Pakistan’s former foreign minister, India’s former vice president Hamid Ansari and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” the PM said.”No Indian official was present during this meeting and the government also was not intimated later,” the PM said.”The next day, Mani Shankar Aiyar said Modi was ‘neech’. This is a serious matter,” he said. The PM said that Rafiq had backed Patel as the next Chief Minister of Gujarat. “On one side Pakistan Army’s former DG is interfering in Gujarat’s election, and on the other, Pakistan’s people are holding a meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house,” he said.”All know that relations between India and Pakistan are a sensitive issue and our Congress leaders meet Pakistani leaders secretly. Can any Indian tolerate this? Should we tolerate such activities taking place on the sovereign land of India? Congress is in utter depression and that is why they are trying to finish me by hook or crook. Congress should answer on this issue,” said Modi, as he escalated his attack on Gujarat’s Opposition party that’s been out of power in the state for 22 years.”And, after that meeting, people of Gujarat, backward communities, poor people and Modi were insulted. Don’t you think such events raise doubts?,” Modi said. He said the Congress should inform the people of the country what exactly it wants to do.Modi was addressing a rally at Palanpur in Banaskantha district for the ongoing assembly polls. The second and final phase of polling in north and central Gujarat, including Banaskantha, will take place on December 14. Results for the 182-member Assembly will be out on December 18.(With PTI inputs)

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In bid to promote environment, Goa CM Parrikar rides bicycle

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today rode a bicycle near here as a part of an event to spread across the message of environment protection.After inaugurating the event ‘NoMoZo’ (No Motor Zone), organised by social institutions from Porvorim near Panaji, Parrikar took a ride on the bicycle along a road.State revenue minister and local MLA Rohan Khaunte was also present at the event.Parrikar said, “‘Green Goa’ does not happen only by opposing coal, you should actually contribute to it.” Notably, some activists have been opposing the handling of coal at Goa’s Mormugao Port Trust by a private firm, citing concerns about air pollution.Parrikar said he would love to use the bicycle often, but is restrained due to his security cover.He said such kind of events should be held at least once in six months in every city.As a part of NoMoZo concept, the road was kept free of motor vehicles with the enthusiastic crowd performing dances, street plays and workshops on ‘wealth out of waste’. A martial arts group also displayed its skills.The NoMoZo concept was started in Panaji a couple of years back, but later got discontinued.Parrikar, who represents the Panaji constituency, said the concept would be revived in the capital city keeping in mind the issues related to traffic.”The concept in Panaji is more about laying stress on walking and as a result reduce the use of vehicles and control pollution,” he said.Khaunte told reporters that the event’s aim was to create opportunities for younger generation to come along with their parents and enjoy the day, away from vehicular traffic.”Everybody has come today while keeping away their vehicles. This will also help in reviving the old traditions,” the minister said, adding that such events will also help in keeping the youth away from gadgets and social media for some time.

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Not against private hospitals, but won’t hesitate to act: Arvind Kejriwal

The Delhi government was not against the city’s private hospitals but it would not hesitate to act sternly in cases of criminal negligence and “looting of patients”, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today.Kejriwal said it takes courage to cancel the licence of a leading healthcare facility like the Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh.His comments came a day after the Delhi government decided to cancel the licence of the hospital for alleged medical negligence on multiple instances, including one in which it wrongly declared an alive baby dead on November 30.The baby’s body was handed over to their parents in a plastic bag, along with his still-born sister. He died during treatment at a nursing home in Pitampura a week later.The Delhi Medical Association and the Indian Medical Association have criticised the AAP government’s decision to cancel the license of the private hospital as harsh.Also readDelhi government cancels licence of Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh for medical negligence The DMA called the decision “irrational and autocratic”.Kejriwal, however, attacked the previous dispensation in Delhi, alleging they were often hand in glove with the “big” and the mighty.Also readMax Hospital’s licence cancelled: Kejriwal says ‘open loot’ won’t be tolerated, IMA says ‘too harsh a step'”If we had entered into any setting with the hospital, we would not have been able to face our conscience and would have lost the faith of the people. We are not against private hospitals. But we will not hesitate to act sternly in cases of criminal negligence and looting of patients,” he said.Citing his government’s handling of discoms, he said power tarrifs had not risen in Delhi in the past three years.Attacking his political rivals, he claimed “some powers” were trying to crush him and his party. The chief minister sought people’s support so that he can work “honestly”.Also readLiving baby declared dead: Family welcomes loss of Max Hospital’s licence, demands doctors’ arrest Kejriwal was speaking at the launch of the Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojna scheme as part of which students from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Castes and minority communities would be able to join private coaching centres to prepare for competitive exams and the Delhi government will provide an assistance of up to Rs 40,000.They will be able to prepare for services, medical, engineering and other competitive examinations, Kejriwal said.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Voting interrupted in Rajkot, Surat and Rajpipla as EVMs malfunction

Voting for the first phase of the crucial Gujarat assembly polls began on Saturday on 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions.After a campaign that often turned vituperative, around 2.12 crore voters would be exercising their franchise in Modi’s home state to choose between the ruling BJP and the Congress.However, voting has been interrupted in several places due to technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).In Rajkot, a technical issue was reported in around 33 EVMs due to which voting was stopped for a while.Also readGujarat Elections: ‘No question of any challenge’, says CM Vijay Rupani who’s contesting against richest candidate in Surat, 24 EVMs are reportedly not working. The process of changing the machines is underway.In Rajpipla, voting has stopped due to issues in 141 EVMs. Whereas voters are waiting for their turn in Amreli’s Vadli village due to a glitch in EVM Machines.A total of 977 candidates are in the fray for the first phase polls. Prominent candidates for today’s battle include Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who is contesting from Rajkot (West), and Congress’ Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi) and Paresh Dhanani (Amreli).The election is viewed as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of soon-to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | Congress asks for mobile jammers outside rooms guarding EVMs to prevent rigging

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Adityanath praises PM Modi after UNESCO recognises Kumbh Mela as ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the UNESCO recognising Kumbh Mela as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity”.This was an achievement of the Narendra Modi-led government, the chief minister was quoted in an official statement.”The country is touching new heights under the prime minister and earning new identity at the global level… the world is now looking towards India,” the chief minister said.The Kumbh Mela was recognised by the UNESCO as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” in a Twitter post by the international organisation.The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage under the UN body inscribed Kumbh Mela on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” during its 12th session being held in Jeju, South Korea. Also readTaj Mahal already an established spot, focussing on projects like Kumbh Mela: UP tourism ministerKumbh Mela, considered the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims, is held in Allahabad, Ujjain, Nashik and Haridwar.

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Gujarat Election 2017: Rahul Gandhi’s visits to temples a pretence, says Yogi Adityanath

Dubbing Rahul Gandhi’s visits to temples as a mere “pretence”, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked the Congress vice president to make his party’s stand clear on the Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute.He also alleged that the Congress was adopting double standards on the Ayodhya issue as it “does not want it to get resolved in a peaceful manner”.”I appeal to Rahul Gandhi to please clear the Congress’ stand on the issue as he is soon to become the party president,” Adityanath said here last night while campaigning for BJP candidate Jitendra Sukhadia at Gorva locality in Sayajigunj Assembly constituency.His remarks come in the wake of senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal’s submission in the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya dispute case, that the matter be heard after July 2019, after the next Lok Sabha polls.Taking a dig at Gandhi over his visits to temples, the UP chief minister said he does not even know how to sit properly in a temple.He said under the UPA government, an affidavit had been filed in the Supreme Court over the Ram Setu case, which said that Lord Ram and Lord Krishna were imaginary.”If they are imaginary, then what is Rahul Gandhi doing in temples? His visits to temples is just a pretence,” he said.Accusing the Congress of trying to divide the people of Gujarat on communal lines, he urged the voters to defeat the party in the state elections.”Its defeat will coincide with Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as the party president. It will initiate the process of fulfilling Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’,” he said.The development of Gujarat started after Modi became the chief minister of the state in 2001. He eliminated corruption from the system and concentrated only on the development of Gujarat, which has become a role model for the country, he said.”If Congress returns to power in Gujarat, the pace of development will take take a hit,” he said.According to him, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been following the Gujarat model of development.Adityanath claimed that infiltration from Pakistan stopped after Modi became the prime minister.He said, US President Donald Trump, during his presidential campaign, had said that if he gets elected, he would follow the example of Narendra Modi, “which shows that Modi has emerged as a global leader”.

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Civic details to be on your phone soon

Mumbaikars may no longer have to make several trips to their local ward office for civic-related information, as the civic body plans to provide information such as property details, building permissions, water lines, drainage system, nearby gardens, plots reservations and more on a single platform — a mobile app — in the next two weeks. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has worked on a geographic information system (GIS) portal, using which one can access details on utilities, property tax, roads, trees and development plan reservations of a particular location on their phone.The GIS portal called ‘One MCGM’ was inaugurated by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis but the BMC will take the next 10 to 15 days to upload filtered data from various civic departments before making the app available to citizens.”We are now gathering filtered data from departments like hydraulic engineering, stormwater drains, sewage department, gardens, assession and collection for property taxes, etc. We are also trying to get data from service providers like BEST, Tata, Reliance and others which will take some time,” said a senior civic officer.
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Fishes costlier after Ockhi leaves

Following Cyclone Ockhi, the fishing community has incurred severe losses as they couldn’t venture into the sea, and fishermen also fear that catch in the sea could reduce.Fishing unions claim that the overall losses incurred by 10 lakh people directly involved in fishing across Maharashtra is pegged at around Rs 1,000 crore. Akhil Maharashtra Machimar Kriti Samiti President Damodar Tandel said that they will soon meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and seek a relief package.”During the cyclone, the fishing community could not venture into the sea and even lost boats and nets. Those who still dared to venture into the sea for an eight- to ten-day fishing trip came back empty handed. For the next one month, the catch will dwindle as the fishes would move to deeper sea,” said Tandel, adding that unfortunately the ministry supposed to take care of fishermen in Maharashtra was least bothered about their plight. Tandel added that Mumbaikars will have to brace for a price hike in the days to come.Bernard D’mello of Pali Macchimar Society from Uttan said that fishermen are not treated on par with farmers. “In Uttan, we are estimating a loss of Rs 60 to 80 lakh as several families involved in the drying of Bombay duck fish lost all the stock as well as the scaffolding on which fishes are dried.” Dileep Mathak, from the Vasai Fishermen society, added that the fishing villages in Uttan and Arnala have borne the maximum brunt.A marine expert working with the government body explained, “The cyclone churns the sea and the shallow area, as well as the substrate, is completely disturbed and become muddy, so fishes who come towards the coast to breed or lay eggs move deeper due to which the catch dwindles,” said the expert.Maharashtra has 23,000 fishing boats out of which 13,000 boats are mechanised, and the annual catch of around 3.5 lakh metric tonnes is worth Rs 4,000 crore of which Rs 2,000 crore is from exports.
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Gujarat Elections 2017: PM Modi’s retort to Aiyar’s lowly jibe caps off campaign for Phase 1

A vituperative campaign for the first phase of the crucial Gujarat Assembly polls that saw emotive issues of religion and caste competing with that of development as the main rivals, BJP and Congress, launched no-holds-barred attacks on each other ended this evening.The sparring between the two parties while canvassing for the polls, dubbed as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of soon- to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, continued till the very end with Manishankar Aiyar’s “neech aadmi” jibe at Modi triggering a controversy.A total of 89 seats — out of 182 — spanning the Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions, are up for grabs in the first phase with 977 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.Also readAfter ‘neech aadmi’ jibe at PM Modi, Mani Shankar Aiyar suspended from Congress Polling will be held on Saturday.Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) B B Swain said around 2.12 crore of the 4.35 crore voters of the state were expected to exercise their franchise on Saturday.Also readMani Shankar Aiyar is a BJP mole in Congress: Twitter reacts to to his ‘neech’ comment against PM ModiThe Election Commission (EC) had earlier announced that Gujarat would be the second state after Goa where the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system would be used, along with electronic voting machines (EVMs), at all the 50,128 polling booths.Modi and Gandhi had aggressively led their parties’ campaigns in Saurashtra and south Gujarat which often turned personal.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | Unlike PM Modi, I can err, says Rahul GandhiThe poll narrative kept changing with issues such as the Ayodhya title suit, Gandhi’s imminent elevation as the Congress president and his visits to temples being raised by the BJP brass.The campaign mainly shaped up as a duel between Modi and Gandhi, with the latter emerging as the Congress’ pivot to take on the might of the prime minister on his home turf.While the BJP is fighting anti-incumbency and struggling to alter a seemingly negative perception about demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout, the Congress, galvanised by an assertive Gandhi, has mainly targeted the “hollow Gujarat development model” to slam Modi.Saurashtra and Kutch are crucial for the ruling BJP as these two regions have the highest concentration of seats in the first phase.Political pundits believe that the party winning the maximum number of seats from Saurashtra and Kutch will be better placed to form the next government in the state.Saurashtra, located on the Arabian Sea coast, covers 11 districts of the state.Kutch is the largest district in Gujarat, comprising 10 talukas, 939 villages and six municipalities.Of the 58 seats in Saurashtra and Kutch, the BJP had won 35 in the 2012 Assembly polls and the Congress 20. Of the remaining three seats, two were won by the now-defunct Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) of Keshubhai Patel and one by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).In 2007, the tally of the BJP and the Congress in Saurashtra and Kutch stood at 43 and 14 respectively, while the NCP had bagged one seat.Of the 35 seats spread across the seven districts of south Gujarat, the BJP had won 28 and the Congress six in the 2012 polls. The remaining seat was won by “Others”.The 2009 tally for the BJP and the Congress stood at 19 and 14 seats respectively in south Gujarat, while two constituencies had gone to “Others”.Prominent candidates in the fray for the Saturday battle include Rupani, who is contesting from Rajkot (West) against the Congress’ Indranil Rajyaguru, Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi) and Paresh Dhanani (Amreli) — both from the Congress.Rajput strongman Gohil has locked horns with the BJP’s new face, Virendrasinh Jadeja, also a Rajput, in the Muslim- dominated seat.In Patidar-dominated Amreli, Dhanani (the sitting Congress MLA) is pitted against BJP heavyweight Bavkubhai Undhad, the legislator from the nearby Lathi seat.The contest for the 12 seats in Surat, the diamond and textile hub of the country as well as a BJP bastion, is being viewed as a referendum on the note ban and GST, as the BJP is facing a stiff opposition from the trading community.The campaign was marred by a number of controversies, with the latest being Aiyar’s off-the-cuff remarks against Modi, which the latter termed an “insult to Gujarat” while addressing a rally in Surat.Earlier, a row had erupted over the Youth Congress’ online magazine tweeting a meme of Modi, mocking his English speaking skills and raising his “chaiwalla” past.Similarly, Gandhi’s visit to the famous Somnath temple had triggered a controversy over his faith.Shedding his “reluctant politician” persona, Gandhi, during his campaign, had interacted with the traders in Surat, who vented their ire against demonetisation and the “complicated GST structure”.Subsequently, the Congress vice-president had attacked the Modi government over the “four-tier” GST structure and sought rationalisation of the indirect tax rates.For the BJP, Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Smriti Irani had held the fort to defend the GST and note ban, while trying to allay the concerns of the traders and textile merchants during their interactions with them.On the campaign trail, Modi had addressed about 15 rallies, while Gandhi had spent more than seven days in Saurashtra and south Gujarat, addressing a number of meetings.BJP president Amit Shah, the chief poll strategist of the saffron party, had also addressed a number of rallies, mainly targeting the Congress and Gandhi.The BJP had also drafted in Union minister Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, besides Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.The Congress had fielded former prime minister Manmohan Singh and prominent leaders such as P Chidambaram, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, to name a few, for canvassing.A big takeaway for the Congress from these polls is ensuring the support of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), an umbrella organisation of the numerically strong Patidar community, which has traditionally formed the bedrock of the BJP’s support in Gujarat.In its bid to form a caste bloc against the BJP, the Congress has won over Alpesh Thakor, Patel and Jignesh Mewani, who have emerged as the young Turks representing the OBCs, Patidars and Dalits respectively.The Congress, in political wilderness in Gujarat for nearly 22 years, is desperate to break the jinx. It has raised issues such as the BJP’s “hollow development model”, “the prime minister’s proximity with select industrialists”, besides demonetisation and GST, at the hustings.Polling for the second and final phase, comprising 93 seats spanning north and central Gujarat, will be held on December 14. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 18.
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After labourer from Malda is murdered in Rajasthan, Mamata Banerjee condemns inhuman killing

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has condemned the killing and called the incident “inhuman”Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the killing of a labourer from West Bengal in Rajasthan and termed the incident “inhuman”.Mohammad Afrazul was burnt alive and a video of the gruesome incident was uploaded on social media in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district. In the video, the laboured was seen hacked and burnt to death.”We strongly condemn the heinous killing of a labourer from Bengal in Rajasthan. How can people be so inhuman. Sad,” she said in a tweet.According to SP of Rajsamand Manoj Kumar, the accused, who allegedly committed the crime yesterday, has been arrested and being interrogated.Also readThose who butchered my father should suffer in the same manner: Rajasthan victim’s daughterThe accused was also seen shouting at the victim in the video, IG of Udaipur Anand Srivastava said.Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria condemned the incident and said the case has been handed over to SIT for further investigations.Also readRajasthan: Man arrested for murdering Muslim, burning corpse in suspected love jihad caseThe family of a labourer who was attacked with an axe and then burnt alive in Rajasthan today demanded strict action against the killer who allegedly also uploaded a video of the gruesome crime on social media.Mohammad Afrazul of West Bengal’s Malda district was set ablaze yesterday in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district.The video, which has gone viral on the internet, shows a man raving about “love jehad”, a term used by sections of Hindu activists to describe marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men, who are accused of seeking to propagate Islam.”We want a thorough investigation to be conducted into the incident and the culprit to be punished,” a relative of Afrazul told reporters in Malda.Afrazul’s family members said they did not know why he was killed. “We don’t know the real reason behind his killing. He was the sole bread winner of the family. We came to know that the person who killed him had called him on the pretext of giving him work,” a relative said.
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I am busy with elections, Prakash Mehta tells Lokayukta

Maharashtra housing minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Mehta has excused himself from attending Lokayukta hearing on Wednesday in connection with alleged land scam saying he was busy in Gujarat elections and subsequently in the winter session of state assembly.Mehta had demanded the four week period to attend the next hearing. However, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the Housing Minister was running from the inquiry. “It shows that Mehta wants to escape from the actions against him. We hope there will be fair probe against Mehta,” Malik said.Mehta was accused of giving permission for the slum redevelopment project (SRA) at Tardeo despite negative remark by senior housing department bureaucrat. Opposition had alleged that minister violated the rule book to give a windfall gain of Rs 500 crore to the developer. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had ordered Lokayukta inquiry into the issue.Lokayukta had called housing minister for hearing on December 6. However, Mehta conveyed to the Lokayukta that he would not be able to attend any hearing for next four weeks.”The housing minister told Lokayukta that he was busy in campaigning of his party BJP in Gujarat elections. Besides, there will be winter session of state assembly. Therefore, the minister sought four weeks’ time to attend next hearing,” said sources from Lokayukta office.The Lokayukta had sent letter to the minister seeking clarification over objections raised by Opposition leaders.In the meanwhile, sources close to Mehta claimed he was trying to ensure his response to Lokayukta was properly framed since this was a quasi-judicial authority.
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Maharashtra: Opposition extends support to Yashwant Sinha’s protest in Akola

Opposition parties in Maharashtra extend their support to the former finance minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha’s indefinite protest at Akola police ground to press the farmer’s demand charter. Akola is turning as the epicentre for the political activities.Earlier Sinha was also detained by the Maharashtra police and subsequently released. The farmers’ demands include that the farm loan waiver should reach farmers, fair prices to farmers crops, buying the farm produces by the central government agency NAFED etc.Also readMaharashtra:Yashwant Sinha threatens to go on hunger strike till demands accepted, gets support from opposition leaders NCP president Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, farmers leader Raju Shetty and disgruntled BJP MP Nana Patole extended their support to Mr Sinha. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also tweeted in support of Mr Sinha. Ms.Bannerjee tweeted that she would send her party MP Dinesh Trivedi to Akola to meet Mr Sinha.Sinha is known to be critical of Narendra Modi government’s economical and farmer policies.NCP leader Gulabrao Gavande from Akola also accompanied Mr Sinha. Moreover, another BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist Yogendra Yadav are also likely to join this protest.Also readMaharashtra BJP downplays Yashwant Sinha’s stir to highlight farmers’ plightSinha clarified that he is not against the ruling party but he wants to fulfil the farmers’ demands. Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan also extended the support and said that by detaining Mr Sinha, BJP has shown once again its facist and anti-farmers face. “Without the consultation of the top BJP leadership in Delhi, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis would not ask the local police to arrest its own senior leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha. It is very unfortunate that farmers demands are not met but they have been harassed and arrested,” said Chavan.
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Hope justice prevails: Actor Vishal to PM Modi after EC rejects nomination for RK Nagar bypoll

Tamil actor Vishal Krishna on Wednesday lashed out at election authorities after his nomination paper was rejected for the December 21 RK Nagar bypoll.Vishal, who wanted to contest the seat, which had fallen vacant after Minister J Jayalalithaa’s death last year, had filed his nomination papers as an Independent candidate for the bypoll.However, his nomination paper was rejected for ‘technical’ reasons. “…there were some flaws in the nomination..it is an order passed by the Returning Officer,” official said.Reacting to the development. the actor said that democracy at its lowest low !! “Disheartening to hear that the nomination made by me was initially accepted and later when I left, has been announced as invalid.””Yesterday was a big blow to democracy, it was a mockery of democracy! Why does only Vishal need to have a different set of scrutiny? I was shocked at how I was treated over there,” he told ANI.Also readAIADMK fields its presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan for RK Nagar bypoll Vishal, who heads the Tamil Film Producers Council and is the general secretary of the Nadigar Sangam (South Indian Artistes’ Association)The authorities also rejected J Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar’s nomination paper.Opposing election authorities’ rejecting her nomination, Deepa alleged it was not done for any valid reasons. “It is being done wantonly,” she added.As many as 145 nominations were received from aspirants seeking to contest the bypoll.Also readEPS govt’s popularity at test in Dec 21 RK Nagar bypollThe by-election for the RK Nagar seat was earlier scheduled to take place in April but was cancelled following a vote-for-cash scam.This time two factions of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) – TTV Dinakaran from the Sasikala faction and E Madhusudhanan from the EPS-OPS faction (led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palanisamy and his deputy O Panneerselvam) — are in the fray for the seat.
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London mayor Sadiq Khan, Maha CM Fadnavis discuss cooperation in public transport

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today discussed ways to increase cooperation between Mumbai and London in various fields including public transport and medical tourism.Khan, accompanied by a British delegation met Fadnavis at the latter’s official residence ‘Varsha’ in south Mumbai this morning.Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai Crispin Simon and Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar were also present.”Increased cooperation in Mumbai and London for public transport, medical tourism and many other areas got discussed at the meeting,” Fadnavis said.Also readIn India, London Mayor Sadiq Khan says UK govt’s visa norms a ‘big mistake'”Mumbai is already the financial capital of India but we wish to make it the ‘financial and technological hub of the world’,” Fadnavis tweeted.He also proposed for cooperation in redevelopment of film city in Mumbai.A letter of intent for inclusion of Mumbai as a member city into the list of World Cultural Forum, got signed in presence of Fadnavis.Khan is in Mumbai in a bid to drum up trade for London and to boost cultural ties with India.Khan, who played football with children and posed for pictures with Bollywood stars yesterday during his Mumbai visit, will travel to New Delhi and Amritsar before crossing the border to Pakistan where he will visit Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.Also readLondon bridge attack: Donald Trump criticised for tweet on London Mayor Sadiq Khan
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Jayalalithaa death anniversary: Scores of people pay tribute to their ‘Amma’

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Tuesday remembered on her first death anniversary, with AIADMK veterans K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam leading the party supporters in paying tributes to their ‘Amma’.People gathered in large numbers on Tuesday to pay homage and tribute to their ‘Amma’ at Jaya memorial in Marina Beach on her first death anniversary.They paid floral tributes to former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, who passed away after a prolonged disease last year.AIADMK coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and party co-coordinator and Chief Minister K Palaniswami led a silent procession of party workers from Anna Salai to Jayalalithaa’s mausoleum on Marina beach here.Most of the party workers, including the two leaders and many other ministers, were clad in black shirts.Amma’s followers, who gathered from across the state, expressed remorse over her death. One of them was seen with his body painted with the flag of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).The entire state of Tamil Nadu came to a standstill after AIADMK supremo Jaya died of cardiac arrest.Jayalalithaa, admitted to a corporate hospital here in September 2016, breathed her last this day last year, after 75 days of hospitalisation.(With agency inputs)
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A year after Jayalalithaa’s death, AIADMK suffers without a strong leader

One year after the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, AIADMK and its state government are yet to overcome the political vacuum caused by her sudden demise.On Tuesday, the first death anniversary of Jayalalithaa would be observed in the state which has plunged into political instability because of her failure to name a successor for her in the party as well as in the government.After her death, the ruling AIADMK has witnessed splits and mergers in the last one year. Tamil Nadu also saw two Chief Ministers – O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palanisami – since her death.Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran are sidelined from the ruling party. AIADMK is also the only party to have its symbol frozen by the Election Commission of India twice and also to get back it. The Palanisami and Panneerselvam led unified AIADMK might have succeeded in getting back the party’s symbol but the symbol alone would not help succeed in the elections in absence of a strong leader in the stature of MGR and Jayalalithaa. However, the AIADMK government is constantly facing the flak of the opposition parties led by resurgent DMK which is accusing the ruling party succumbing to the pressure of the BJP government at the centre.”Before the French revolution, France King Louis XV told his successor that “after me the deluge”. An exactly same thing happened in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa’s death. It is a deluge. It is a disaster as far as politics is concerned. She was a colossal figure in the state politics. When she was removed, there was such a vacuum that Tamil Nadu is yet to overcome the political vacuum and instability caused by her death,” Prof Bernard D’Sami, a political analyst and professor of History at Loyola College, Chennai told DNA.In a way, he also blamed Jayalalithaa for the present crisis faced by the AIADMK and its government. Jayalalithaa who was known for running the party and the government with iron hand often changing the party office bearers and the Cabinet Ministers to ensure that no one ever raised to the level to question her. “It is a lesson for everyone. A good leader has to prepare a second line of leaders but she has not done it. That is the reason for the political crisis in Tamil Nadu,” said Prof Bernard.The succession battle is not something new in the AIADMK. When AIADMK founder and former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran died, the AIADMK split into two factions with his wife Janaki and Jayalalithaa bothclaiming his political legacy. “Jayalalithaa who was groomed by MGR as a political heir. She was made a Rajya Sabha member and also appointed as party’s propaganda secretary. She proved herself in the stateassembly election and took the reins of the party,” he said.A senior AIADMK leader who doesn’t want to be named said that AIADMK would survive if both EPS and OPS works together without any ego.”Already the leaders of two groups are fighting against each other. It is not going to help anyone but the DMK,” he said.The AIADMK which has won all the elections since 2011 would be tested in the December 21 bye-election to the RK Nagar Assembly constituency which was twice represented by Jayalalithaa. “RK Nagar election is areferendum for the AIADMK since it was a seat held by Jayalalithaa. The election results will tell whether the people are going to accept the AIADMK as they have accepted Jayalalithaa. If they win, they will survive. If they are going to lose, the party will not survive at all,” said another political observer.
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Madhya Pradesh Assembly passes bill awarding death sentence for rape of girls below 12 years

The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a bill with a provision awarding death sentence to those guilty of raping girls aged 12 or below in the state.The bill will now be sent to the Centre which will send it to the President for his approval.The moves comes in the wake of a spurt in rape incidents recently. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of rape cases registered among all states last year and even the year before that. The state, which has the fifth highest population in the country, accounted for 4,882 rape cases out of 38,947 cases recorded across the country in 2016, as per the National Crime Record Bureau’s report, released last week. The last year’s report showed that the state reported highest number of rape cases (4,391 out of 38,947 cases) in the country in 2015. The state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had last week approved the bill recommending capital punishment for rape of girls aged 12 years or below.The bill also has the provision for harsher punishment to those guilty of molesting, stalking and harassing women.The Madhya Pradesh government had recently come in for criticism over recent incidents of rape in the state.A 19-year-old UPSC aspirant was allegedly raped when she was returning home from a coaching institute on October 31 here.After public outrage, some police officers were suspended and transferred for the delay in registering an FIR.The NCRB data for 2015 showed that the state reported highest number of rape cases (4,391 out of 38,947 cases) in the country.According to the NCRB data for 2014, the state reported 5,076 rape cases, which was 14 per cent of the total rape incidents reported in the country.In 2013, 4,335 rape cases were reported in the state as against 3,425 in 2012.
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London is open to talent, says its Mayor

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, who is touring Mumbai as part of his two-nation tour after Brexit, said London is open to talent, people and partnership.Speaking at a press conference held at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel on Sunday, Khan said, “I am proud and pleased to be here. London is open to talent, people and partnership.”He said he will meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday to interact on culture, films, air quality and climate change among other things. He is also expected to meet business leaders and Bollywood star.Saying that UK was the second biggest investment destination for India after the US, he said he was pushing his government to free up certain restrictions.”London is the student capital of the world. There are top universities here. It is a big mistake to not give students a post-study visa. I am lobbying for it,” said Khan.Forty per cent of London’s population is made up of minorities.When asked about investments in light of the Vijay Mallya case, Khan said, “Some oligarchs launder their dirty money. Our country is making an effort to make investments more transparent. We are going to pass orders on this.”On building cultural cities, Khan said, “Culture is the DNA of great cities,” and added that they are looking to have that to besides enhancing participation in joint projects like movies that are “par excellence”. On housing, which is also a concern for London, Khan said that they will be building taller buildings close to stations, where factories once stood. Reclamation, he said, was not part of the draft.
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