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The year that saw rise of Congress and agitations

Looking back at 2017… One sees a politically eventful year, a year made up a series of events that have led to a mobilisation of various sections, especially the farmers and the Dalits. The discontent in these sections was successfully harnessed in the form of agitations that not only put the government’s problem solving skills to test but also created a situation wherein the agitators managed to get the upper hand as they entered into agreements with the government.The year that has passed has seen the Congress rise like the phoenix. The party that was reduced to redundancy in last elections has grown to be a force to be reckoned with. The opposition party has managed to catch the fancy of the rural population with its incessant raising of the farmers’ issues. It today has the distinction of being a state that is home to four of Rahul Gandhi’s close aides; CP Joshi, Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, Sachin Pilot and the newly added Ashok Gehlot.Congress also made its relevance felt nationally by striking emotional cord. The name for Rahul Gandhi as AICC president was proposed in Jaipur. It was projected as the logical action in the city where Rahul took charge as party vice-president.All through 2017 the die has been cast. It has laid the foundation for the years to come. The year that passes by has managed to fuel discontent to such a level that the run down to the assembly polls at the end of 2018 will be interspersed with protests and agitation.Discontent among the castes was on the rise all through the year. With no concerted effort to contain, it escalated and spread. The Gurjars, Jats and Meenas under Kirori; have an axe to grind with the present government. Rajputs and Brahmins have their own issues. This caste cauldron, while being a political irritant spells trouble for the social fabric too.As the year prepares to fade out, both BJP and Congress have decided to adopt the Gujarat model. The poll preparation will be on the lines adopted in Gujarat. Congress with its offensive campaign and the BJP plans to decentralise to the booth level to ensure each vote.

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Of trunk call & divine intervention

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

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Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
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Diabetics cannot claim mediclaim in first four years

If you have diabetes and hypertension, forget that you can rely on your mediclaim or health insurance policy in emergency, if the policy is not at least four years old.The Gujarat Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has ruled that if one goes for any surgery within four years of buying an insurance policy and claims refund, it will be considered to be in violation of terms and conditions and the person won’t be entitled to health/medical claim. The commission also set aside an order by the Junagadh forum.”There is an error in the conclusion of the forum in directing the United Insurance Company Limited to pay health claim to complainant Mahendra Vazirani. As per the policy conditions, even though a disclosure is made about diabetes and hypertension, insurance benefits can be extended only after four years,” the commission concluded.It added, “In the present case, the complainant underwent a bypass surgery within two years of buying the health insurance policy. It clearly establishes the violation of the terms and conditions of the policy; so the complainant won’t be entitled to a claim.”The commission’s judicial bench of members VM Chaudhary and MD Gadhvi, while allowing the appeal of the insurance company, opined that there is merit in its submission that diabetes has a direct relationship with hypertension. In support of its contention, it cited the National Commission’s order in LIC vs Srimati Shashi Bala.In this case, complainant Mahendra had subscribed to an individual health policy from the insurance company for 2009-2010. On August 13, 2009, he underwent an angiography, after which he was asked to undergo a bypass surgery. He was operated upon at a Nadiad hospital and he had paid a medical bill of Rs1.20 lakh. As he had a health insurance policy of Rs1 lakh, he said he was entitled to 70 per cent of the insured amount.However, the company rejected his claim citing pre-existing diabetes and hypertension which he had disclosed while buying the policy.An aggrieved Mahendra then approached the Junagadh forum which then asked the insurance company to pay the claim amount. The company challenged the order before the commission.A CONDITIONAL COVERThe Gujarat Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has ruled that a person who has diabetes and hypertension cannot demand mediclaim refund within 4 yrs of the policy

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Gujarat: Deputy CM Nitin Patel to take charge of ministries today

Earlier, a day after expressing his strong displeasure about significant portfolios being taken away from him for his second stint in the Vijay Rupani government, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel stayed home on Saturday, meeting with supporters at his residence. Days after being sworn into office, Patel had refused to take charge of the portfolios allotted to him. ”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written ByDNA Web Team <!–end of artlbotbor–>Sunday 31 December 2017 11:30 ISTMust readEx-CJI TS Thakur says no to AAP’s Rajya Sabha offerKamala Mills fire: Know the story behind this picture<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>After showing his displeasure earlier, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Sunday announced that he would assume the charge of his office around 11: 40 am. “BJP chief Amit Shah talked to me in the morning and assured me that I would get all the departments back,” Nitin Patel said. “I have no complaints or dismay now,” he added. He also said that he never crossed the line of discipline in the party.Nitin Patel thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, the Patel community and leaders “who showed support and solidarity for him”. Earlier, a day after expressing his strong displeasure about significant portfolios being taken away from him for his second stint in the Vijay Rupani government, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel stayed home on Saturday, meeting with supporters at his residence. Days after being sworn into office, Patel had refused to take charge of the portfolios allotted to him.

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Board exams to start from March 12


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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Sunday 31 December 2017 5:07 ISTMust readGujarat: Dy CM Nitin Patel wants portfolios back, threatens to quitGujarat elections 2017: 30 seats saw other parties making it to third spot<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The Gujarat State Examination Board has declared dates of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams to begin from March 12. While the examination for SSC will go on till March 23, for Science and general stream HSC, the exams will continue till March 28.RI Patel, Exam Secretary, Gujarat State Examination Board, said, “While the registration for boards are going on, approximately 17 to 18 lakh students will appear in boards this year that includes 10 lakh for SSC, 5.5 lakh for general stream and nearly 1.5 lakh for Science stream.”In previous boards, 17.59 lakh students took the class X and XII examinations. Around 178 jail inmates had also taken the board exams, and arrangements for them were made in prisons.

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Ro-Ro service to link Hazira to four places

Union minister for road transport and highways Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday announced plans to start a Ro-Ro ferry and passenger service between Hazira and four other places. The service will connect Hazira to Ghogha, Dahej, Pipavav and Victor in Rajula. Calling 2018 a golden year for water highways in Gujarat, he said plans are afoot to develop inland waterways on the Narmada and Tapi river in the state.Mandaviya made these announcements following a visit to Hazira port on Friday. He said the inland waterways had seen a tremendous development under the present BJP government. “Until the BJP came to power, the country had just five national water highways. Now, under the National Water Highways Act 2016, there are 106 more such water highways which have been announced,” the minister said.He said a feasibility study had found that apart from the five national waterways there was the scope of developing 32 new national waterways across the country in the next three years.Mandaviya further announced that of the 32 new national waterways planned.Of these eight, two are in Gujarat. One will be 126 km long waterway from Panthariya to Khambhat which will be on the Narmada river while the other will be a 173-km-long waterway connecting Hathnur Dam to Khambhat. This will be on the Tapi river.It should be noted that earlier in October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the first phase of Ro-Ro (roll-on roll-off) ferry service between Ghogha in Bhavnagar district and Dahej in Bharuch.The service was to reduce the travel time between Saurashtra and South Gujarat by five hours. It was later announced that the ferry service will be suspended for a fortnight from January 5 onwards to remove and replace the existing walkway with a linkspan at Gogha. At present, the service only ferries passengers and following installation of the linkspan, it will also be able to transport vehicles.IN THE PIPLELINEMandaviya announced that of the 32 new national waterways planned, the detailed project report of eight of them was ready.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
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Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Will Alia Bhatt say yes to Priyanka Chopra?
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars

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

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

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
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Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
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“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!
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Bad loans in Gujarat fall by Rs 4,023 cr

In what could be a major turnaround, bad loans in Gujarat have dropped by Rs4,023 crore in three months. This is a mix of recovery of loans, writing of loans and transferring them to Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs), according to bankers. Industry players say that if the share of recovery of loans is significant, then it is a welcome change in the economy.According the State-Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) report for the July-September quarter of the fiscal 2017-18, gross Non-Performing Assets (NPA), or bad loans, in Gujarat stand at Rs 31,318.7 crore, a reduction of Rs 4,022.92 crore over NPA of Rs 35,341.62 crore in April-June quarter. Total bank advances in the state stand at Rs 4,89,833 crore, compared to Rs 4,77,480 crore. While advances rose by about 2.6 per cent in three months, NPAs dipped by 12.5 per cent. Bad loans now constitute 6.39 per cent of the total advances in the state, compared to 7.4 per cent in the previous quarter.Vikramaditya Singh Khichi, Field General Manager of Dena Bank, told media persons that this is a net result of recovery of loans as well as loan write-offs as well as transferring loans to ARCs. Dena Bank is a leading bank in Gujarat.It is unprecedented in the recent history of Gujarat that bad loans dropped by such a big margin.Between April-June and July-September quarters of the fiscal 2016-17, bad loans dropped marginally by Rs 457.54 crore from Rs 29,734.12 crore to Rs 29,276.58 crore. Overall, the trend has been on the upswing, with NPA rising dangerously by 74 per cet in the previous eight quarters and by 19 per cent in a year.If bad loans have been genuinely recovered, that is a major improvement in the economy. The development reflects the health of Gujarat’s economic landscape. However, NPAs also fall if they are transferred to ARC or other similar mechanisms being under taken,” said Jaimin Vasa, vice-president of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.Bankers say that national banking regulator the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has put many banks on its watch list for their asset quality. “The move has resulted in many banks suspending their expansion operations as well as other operations and focused on recovery of loans. This has resulted in improvement in the recovery of loans,” said an official of a Public Sector Bank in Gujarat.Despite the fall in bad loans, the present level represents a danger signal as the percentage NPA is still above 5 per cent, which is a threshold of danger. For at least nine consecutive quarters now the NPA is over 5 per cent mark.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
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Gujarat Literature Festival spreads wings beyond city

The fifth edition of the Gujarat Literature Festival (GLF) has a series of firsts to offer this time around. The festival that was originally conceived to increase interest in Gujarati literature, has over the years expanded to include workshops and seminars that has literary works and authors from several languages.This time the festival will also be held in Vadodara, albeit on different dates. In Ahmedabad, the festival will see workshops begin on January 3, while the formal inauguration will happen take place on January 4. It ends on January7.Festival producer Samkit Shah said the festival will now move to more cities of Gujarat with Vadodara hosting one from February 2 to 4. “In Vadodara, the festival is being supported by Alembic Pharmaceuticals. The session there will be different than what we have here although the format will be the same,” said Shah.The festival will also have Children’s Literature Festival as a subtext of the festival apart from a session on heritage as well as exhibitions around the theme of heritage. A GLF awards will also be given to deserving authors across various fields including movies.The festival has also expanded to different venues within Ahmedabad. This year it will also be hosted at the GU campus apart from Kanorai Art Gallery.The most interesting aspect of the festival however is the Ink Tank a platform that will bring together budding authors and publishers. “It is on the lines of the Shark Tank. The festival will provide a platform for book publishers and young authors who can pitch their books and if found good will get on the spot backing for publishing,” said festival director Shyam Parekh. He said this will inspire and bring in new breed of writers who sometimes despite their talent fail to get the backing of publishers.The festival will aso for the first time recognise the works of various authors across platforms including theatre, film and music by constituting the GLF awards. In all 16 awards will be given.Apart from big names in the field of Gujarati literature, the festival will also see big names from Hindi, Korean and Japanese literature gracing the occasion.The festival will also see five different plays being staged apart from offering a variety of workshop ranging from television writing to storytelling.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
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FTA, GST hurting Apparel exports: AEPC

Apparel exports of the country have stagnated in past three years at around US $17 billion and have witnessed a drop in past three months, said a top industry representative on Thursday.Free Trade Agreements of India’s competitors with buyer countries and currency equations have capped India’s exports. Even after the roll-out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country taxes to the tune of 12% have not been subsumed in GST resulting in higher input cost resulting in costlier products.”Petroleum and other products have been kept out of GST and so there is an additional tax incidence of about 12%. India’s competitors have FTA with buyers, their currency has depreciated so their exports are rising,” said Ashok Rajani, President of Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) while talking to media persons in Ahmedabad while inaugurating the office of AEPC in the premises of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).According to AEPC data, exports of Ready Made Garments (RMG) stood at Rs 17,479 crore in 2016-17, a rise of just 2.9% over exports worth Rs 16,990 crore in 2015-16, while 2014-15 witnessed exports worth Rs 16,847 crore.He said apparel makers in the city that the partnership between AEPC and GCCI will yield fruits as Gujarat is strong in production of cotton, manmade fibers and fabrics, while AEPC has strong roots in apparel and exports.

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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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Gujarat HC upholds GSFS Act, but fees can be revised

In a big jolt to all self-financed schools, the Gujarat High Court upheld the Gujarat Self Finance Schools (Fees Regulations) Act, 2017 (GSFS) and its rules on Wednesday.The First Division Bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Vipul Pancholi, while dismissing more than three dozen petitions of 2,500 private schools, concluded that the state government was competent to pass and implement such Acts and decide the administrative matters of schools affiliated with the central, international and the ISCE board. The Bench also said that the special status of minority schools was not violated by the Act.Though the court concluded that the Act was legal and constitutional, it also kept a window open for private schools’ associations to approach the competent authority for a review of the current fee structure.The associations can also ask for a hike against the services they provide to their students. However, the competent authority will have to take a decision witihin six weeks from the date of filing proposals. But, such proposals should not amount to exorbitant fees or profiteering.Court also rejected all schools’ request to stay the operative part of the judgment so that they can approach the Supreme Court and challenge the order. Those schools which have submitted their proposals and want to add any further information seeking review can submit the same within three weeks.Advocate General Kamal Trivedi while defending the state action had submitted that the RTE Act permits self-financed school to notify any fee, whereas the state Act under challenge seeks to put restrictions on these schools to charge any fees. RTE Act prohibits the capitation of fees.Appearing for parents Advocate Amit Panchal had submitted that the whole intention of the Act is to prevent commercialisation of education in all the schools, including the self-financed schools. He further submitted that the court should direct the state to implement the Act at the earliest.OPERATIVE PART OF THE JUDGMENTThe Act is not in violation of the equality of the Constitution The rules of the Act are not in the violation of the Article 30 of Constitution with regard to the minority institution Constitution of Fees Regulatory Committee and Fees Revision Committee under the Act are not unconstitutional as alleged by the petitioners Schools can put proposals within three weeks to the competent authority, which will take further action in accordance with the law.

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Plea seeks FIR against Mani Shankar Aiyar

The police should lodge an FIR to investigate a meeting involving former prime minister Manmohan Singh, among others, which was allegedly held at suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house to swing the Gujarat elections, an application filed in a Delhi court has stated.The application, filed by BJP leader and advocate Ajay Agarwal, a resident of Jungpura Extension near Aiyar’s house, claimed that on December 6, he saw Hamid Ansari, Manmohan Singh, Sohail Mahmood, and ex-foreign minister of Pakistan Khurshid Kasuri, among others, at Aiyar’s residence.He also claimed that there was heavy security and the car of the Pakistani High Commissioner was parked at the back side of the house. Upon enquiry, he got to know about the meeting, which continued till late at night, Agarwal said.He further said that the former president and PM broke the protocol and attended the meeting with representatives of the neighbouring country, despite knowledge of the political relations between the countries. According to the plea, the meeting was attended by former Army chief Deepak Kapoor, former foreign minister K Natwar Singh, and former diplomats Salman Haidar, TCA Raghavan, Sharat Sabharwal, K Shankar Bajpai, and Chinmaya Gharekhan, among others.The application stated that both the ex-president and the ex-PM were privy to top-secret information and they were duty bound to not share this with anyone. But the duo was found attending meetings to discuss the Indo-Pak affairs, he said.

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53% children face one or more forms of sexual abuse: Govt tells Parliament

A centrally-sponsored survey has found that more than 53% children in the country faced one or more forms of sexual abuse, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir, said that the Ministry of Women and Child Development had conducted a study on Child Abuse in 2007, covering 13 states and more than 13,000 children.The study revealed that that more than 53% of children interviewed reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse and 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse, he said in written reply to a question.Ahir said 50% abusers were persons known to the child and most children did not report the matter to anyone. Children on street, at work and in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault, he said. The 13 states where the survey was conducted were – Assam, Mizoram, Goa, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala.

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

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

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Schools await Gujarat HC order on govt fees stricture

The state high court will on Wednesday deliver its judgment on the Gujarat Self-Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Act-2017, which has been challenged by self -financed schools affiliated with the state as well as the central education board.Following protests by parents’ associations, the state government had come out with the Act to cap fees levied by self-financed schools in April, which was soon challenged by the affected schools. More than 2,000 self-financed schools either individually or in groups and association had challenged the act. The CBSE-affiliated schools argued that since they submit accounts to the central board, the state can’t interfere in their administrative matters.At the same time, schools affiliated to the state board opposed the move saying that that the government had no say in their fee structure since they were non-grant-in-aid schools. Schools also argued that the charges included extra-curricular activities and only those who could afford the fees enrolled their children, so there was no question of exorbitant fees.Some self-financed schools run by minority trusts argued that their special minority status exempted them from state interference in setting fees. A PIL asked that school’s representatives be included in fees regulation committees. HC had granted relief to schools from filing their fee revision applications to the regulation committees till the matter was decided. On August 31, a first division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Vipul Pancholi had reserved its order.POINTS OF VIEWThe CBSE-affiliated schools argued that since they submit accounts to central board, the state can’t interfere in their administrative matters. The schools affiliated to the state board opposed the move saying that that the government had no say in their fee structure since they were non-grant-in-aid schools.

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Gangster nabbed for mass rapes, extortion

A notorious gangster, responsible for the plight of hundreds of families, has been nabbed by the Delhi Police. One of the dreaded duo that ran the gang, Hussain, a resident of village Tayda in Bharatpur, was brought to Delhi two days ago.According to the Delhi Police investigation, the gang of two first lured businessmen in the name of attractive deals on electronic and other products, and a holiday trip around Delhi. They would then kidnap the victims, take them to Mewat and get them raped and sodomised by locals. This sexual abuse was filmed to extort money. The gang operated in Haryana and Rajasthan, and had made Delhi a transit place. The cops are now trying to identity and approach the victims and retrieve videos of sexual abuse. According to the police, the gang would give advertisements on vernacular websites and in dailies in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh claiming that it sold electronic items in bulk at cheap prices. “Thereafter, the gangsters would call and mail local businessmen in these states and tempt them with attractive deals,” a police officer said, adding that once the businessmen were convinced, they were offered a holiday trip, along with their family members, to Delhi and nearby areas.After trapping the businessmen and their families, the gang would take the victims to Mewat. “The kidnapped businessmen were sodomised, their wives and daughters raped by local youths, teenagers, and other gang members, and this sexual abuse was filmed. Hussain and his accomplice Hasan would also demand ransom from their families, ranging from Rs 20-50 lakh,” the police officer said. The families were told that if they approached the police, the videos would be uploaded on the adult websites.

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New Vijay Rupani cabinet: Mix of youth and experience

Vijay RupaniChief MinisterThe 61-year-old who began his second stint as Chief Minister on Tuesday, has had a meteoric rise in Gujarat’s politics. A man of the organisation throughout his political journey, he was nominated as CM after the abrupt resignation of Anandiben Patel in August 2016. There were question marks on his future, especially after BJP won just 99 seats, its lowest tally in the past seven elections, but the party has chosen to maintain a status quo.CABINET MINISTERSNitin PatelA six-term MLA, 61-year-old Patel is the senior-most in the ministry. He was widely seen as the chief ministerial nominee after Anandiben’s resignation, but BJP picked Rupani and appointed Patel as deputy CM.RC FalduFaldu, a former president of Gujarat BJP, was elected to the Assembly for the fourth time in 2017. Faldu was sidelined in the party from some time, but the influential, Patidar leader has made a strong comeback.Bhupendrasinh ChudasamaChudasama is among the senior-most ministers in the Vijay Rupani cabinet having served as one way back in 1990. The soft-speaking Kshatriya leader is in his fifth term in the Assembly.Kaushik PatelPatel had lost in 2007 and had not contested in 2012, which means he is back after 10 years. This is the 63-year-old’s fourth term as MLA. He had held revenue, energy, civil supplies, and other important ministries.Saurabh PatelPatel, who is in his fifth term as MLA, served as minister from 2002 to 2016, handling finance, energy, civil aviation, planning, tourism. He was one of the visible faces of the government during these years.Ganpat VasavaA four-term MLA, he has emerged as the tribal face of the BJP in south Gujarat. Back in 2011, Vasava was appointed as Speaker of the state Assembly, the first from the tribal community to occupy the chair. He was later appointed as a cabinet minister.Jayesh RadadiyaSon of influential Patidar leader Vitthal Radadiya, Jayesh has been elected to the Assembly for the second time in 2017. The 36-year-old is the youngest minister in the 20-member Vijay Rupani cabinet. He had served as minister of state.Dilipsinh ThakorThis is the 58-year-old’s fifth term in the Assembly. A prominent OBC face in north Gujarat, Thakor had served as minister in the first Modi government in 2001, and had remained till 2007. He was brought back in the cabinet by Anandiben Patel.Ishwar ParmarThe 46-year-old, who was elected to the Assembly for just the second time, is a surprise pick as cabinet minister. The loss of its prominent Dalit faces such as Ramanlal Vora and Atmaram Parmar left BJP with little choice but to promote Parmar.MINISTERS OF STATEPradipsinh JadejaJadeja was elected to the assembly from Vatva seat in the just concluded elections for his fourth term as MLA. He was serving as minister of state for home in the previous government, in addition to law, parliamentary affairs.Parbat PatelThe 5-term MLA from north Gujarat was elected to the assembly first time in 1985. The 69-year-old is a prominent Chaudhary leader, a community that is quite dominant in north Gujarat. He has served as minister of state for finance, water supply, health, transport.Parsottam SolankiThe powerful Koli leader has served in all governments since 1998, barring one. In spite of his poor health, and though he barely attends office, the 56-year-old has once again been included in the ministry, because of the influence he has in his community.Bachu KhabadThis is the 62-year-old’s third term as MLA. He first found a place in the ministry when Anandiben Patel became the chief minister in May 2014. He was made minister of state for fisheries, and forests & environment. He was retained in the ministry by Vijay Rupani.Jaydrathsinh ParmarHaving started as a sarpanch in the late 1980s, Parmar first became a minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet in 2011. The four-term MLA was included in the cabinet again in 2013 and has been its part since. The 53-year-old is a qualified lawyer by profession.Ishwarsinh PatelThis is Patel’s fourth term as an MLA. He had first found a place in the ministry in 2011 when the cabinet was expanded. He was dropped from the ministry in 2012, but was inducted again when Rupani took over as CM.Vasan AhirAhir, who has been elected as MLA five times, is among the senior legislators in the cabinet. The 59-year-old had first served as minister of state since 2008 in the second Modi government.Vibhavari DaveThe three-term MLA is the only woman in the Cabinet. She had served as deputy mayor and mayor of Bhavnagar in the mid and late 1990s, and was first elected to the Assembly in 2007.Raman PatkarThis is the first time Patkar has found a place in the ministry. He is a five-term MLA, and was elected from the tribal reserved Umargam seat in Valsad in the latest polls.Kishor KananiThis is the maiden entry of Kanani, a two-term MLA, in the ministry. He had won from Varachha Road seat in Surat. In fact, he was the only Patidar MLA from Surat city who was repeated by BJP.

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Vijay Rupani-Nitin Patel 2.0

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

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BJP and RSS ‘unmasked’ by Hegde’s comments: Congress

The Congress today attacked the BJP over Union minister Ananth Kumar Hegde’s remarks about changing the Constitution, saying they were a “direct assault” on the composite identity of the nation and the party will oppose any such attempt with all its might.Congress spokesperson Gaurav Gogoi said that the BJP and the RSS were “unmasked” by Hegde’s remarks and alleged that “abusing the oath of office and denigrating the Constitution and its values have become a distinctive feature of Modi government”. Hegde, while speaking at an event in Karnataka, had said he respects the Constitution but “it will be changed in the days to come”. Condemning Hegde’s comments, Gogoi asked if the prime minister would break his silence on Hegde’s remarks as the minister had openly spoken about changing the Constitution.Hegde’s remarks are a “direct assault” on the composite, diverse and secular identity of the nation, Gogoi said. He alleged that the BJP-RSS school of thought is ingrained in “bigotry, hate, divisiveness and prejudices, that envision a monolithic culture”. Gogoi told reporters here that Hegde’s remarks were diametrically opposite to the liberal and inclusive traditions of India and the progressive thoughts of Babasaheb Ambedkar and the makers of modern India. “The Congress strongly condemns and deprecates such regressive remarks which are against the idea and ideals of India. We shall fight this challenge in Parliament and in the court of people,” he said.Gogoi alleged that all such statements have a common link and agenda and were meant to propagate and practice sectarian ideology of the BJP and the RSS.Also readConstitution will be ‘changed in the days to come’: Union Minister Ananth Kumar Hegde He claimed that the RSS and the BJP’s sole agenda was to change and modify the basic nature and structure of the Constitution and “impose their hate filled, bigoted and prejudiced ideology” on India and its people.”Recent statements by Union ministers in the Modi government thoroughly vindicates those malicious and sinister attempts,” Gogoi alleged. “Their remarks have not only denigrated and demolished the values, principles and the soul of the Constitution but has also exposed their ‘false love’ for Babasaheb Ambedkar which they keep propagating to win votes,” he said. The Congress leader, with another spokesperson Khushboo Sundar by his side, said the Constitution rests on pillars of equality, liberty, fraternity, brotherhood and secularism. Socialistic values are the Magna Carta of India’s Constitution, he said.”Any maleficence attempt to modify this by the BJP- RSS will be fought by the Congress Party with all its might,” he said. Gogoi claimed that Hegde, like other BJP leaders, was suffering from the “foot in the mouth” disease. The Congress spokesperson also highlighted that another Union minister Hans Raj Ahir had made a statement equating senior doctors in a government hospital with Naxals. This, he said, was an outright insult to the medical profession and those who save lives. “It again goes against the spirit of the Constitution and its ideals,” Gogoi said.The Congress leader claimed that in the past as well the BJP and its leaders, including the prime minister, have “systematically insulted” professionals and communities. Gogoi also highlighted that Bachubhai Khapad was sworn-in as a minister of state in Gujarat despite having three criminal cases against him, including under the Arms Act. “Will Shri Modi take cognisance of this fact and drop him from the Gujarat Government’s Cabinet? Is it not yet again an instance, where the BJP is violating the ‘oath of office’ and denigrating Constitution?,” he asked.

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Vijay Rupani begins second inning as Gujarat CM; PM Modi, Amit Shah attend grand ceremony: 10 updates

Vijay Rupani will begin his second inning as Gujarat Chief Minister at a grand swearing-in ceremony in capital city Gandhinagar on Tuesday.The lavish event, which is being organised at Gandhinagar Sachivalaya Ground, will see host of VVIP guests including 18 BJP Chief Ministers, party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Here are 10 major updates from this big political story:1: Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, Rupani visited Gandhinagar’s Panchdev temple and Akshardham temple in morning.2: According to sources, Rupani has dropped three ministers from his previous cabinet. They are: Babu Bokhiria, former water supplies and animal husbandry minister; Vallabh Kakadia, former minister of state for transport and Rajendra Trivedi, former minister of state for youth services and cultural affairs.3: Officials said that a huge 2,500 square metres dome — which can accommodate 10,000 people — has been booked and prepared for the ceremony.4: Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and Ram Vilas Paswan and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar are also attending the ceremony.5: Security has been tightened at Ahmedabad Airport, which will see a lot of VVIP movement, as well as in Gandhinagar.6: Entry of private vehicles has been restricted in the Sachivalaya due to the swearing-in ceremony.7: Before leaving for Delhi, PM Modi is scheduled for a lunch with the new council of ministers and visiting dignitaries at Mahatma Mandir in the afternoon.8: A Cabinet meeting is also slated in the afternoon, where newly-inducted ministers will be allocated portfolios.9: This is the sixth consecutive time that BJP is forming government in Gujarat, but this time with the lowest seat tally.10: The party won 99 seats in the just concluded assembly elections, just seven more than the half-way mark of 92. On the other hand, Congress increased its tally to 77 seats, its best performance since 1990.

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Vijay Rupani to be sworn in today for 2nd innings

Gujarat Chief Minister-elect Vijay Rupani, deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, and about 18 to 20 ministers are expected to take the oath of office and secrecy in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah, Union Ministers, and Chief Ministers of all 18 BJP-ruled states, in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.Rupani and Patel will take oath as CM and deputy CM respectively at the swearing-in ceremony to be held at 11:00 am in Sachivalaya Campus in Gandhinagar. Officials said that a huge 2,500 square metres dome — which can accommodate 10,000 people — has been booked and prepared for the ceremony.“Three stages have been erected in the dome. The centre-stage is for CM, deputy CM, and others who will be taking oath. One stage is for VVIP guests such as the PM, Amit Shah, visiting Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, and the other stage is for other politicians, sadhus, religious leaders, and other invitees,” the official said.Highly placed sources in the government said that about 18 to 20 ministers, including 7 or 8 holding Cabinet rank, and remaining state rank ministers, will take oath along with CM Rupani and deputy CM Patel.Security has been tightened at Ahmedabad Airport, which will see a lot of VVIP movement, as well as in Gandhinagar. Entry of private vehicles has been restricted in the Sachivalaya due to the swearing-in ceremony.Officials said that PM Modi is slated to have lunch with the new council of ministers and visiting dignitaries at Mahatma Mandir in the afternoon before leaving for Delhi.A Cabinet meeting is also slated in the afternoon, where newly-inducted ministers will be allocated portfolios.This is the sixth consecutive time that BJP is forming government in Gujarat, but this time with the lowest seat tally. The party won 99 seats in the just concluded assembly elections, just seven more than the half-way mark of 92. On the other hand, Congress increased its tally to 77 seats, its best performance since 1990.

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At Sattvik, students try to create more acceptance for microbial nutrient-rich food

At the ongoing Sattvik Food Festival, a stall is entirely manned by students of the Gujarat University (GU). In the festival that promotes traditional food, the students have set up the stall to increase awareness about a product that may not necessarily be traditional but is a rich source of protein – spirulina.The students of microbiology from the MG Science college have been setting up stall at the Sattvik Food Festival for four years now. “The idea is to promote microbial food rich in nutrients. Another example of microbial food is the mushroom. Such food can help address the nutrient needs of people,” said Nazir Ahmed, a fourth year student of microbiology.He said spirulina is an excellent source of protein. “It is similar to the green layer of plant that we see on water. Because its source is water, it has a fishy smell and many people don’t like to eat it in its natural form and think it is fish. Spirulina tablets are also available but its better to use it as a food source than as a tablet,” said Ahmed.This year, the students have made mushroom ball patties and Jowar totha (tuver totha is a traditional dish) with mushrooms and spirulina. They said many people avoid mushrooms too thinking it comes under the non-vegetarian food category. Incidentally, the students don’t get any additional credits for setting up stalls in the festival but are doing so to create more acceptance for microbial food among the people.”45% of the population of Gujarat suffers from protein malnutrition and spirulina can be the answer to that. Every year, we try to make new dishes from spirulina and other microbial foods to popularise their use,” said Ahmed.He along with his friend Tirth Thakkar have even incubated a start up at GU to sell products made of spirulina. “As of now, we have made chocolates from spirulina so that kids can be encouraged to eat it as well as ‘khakhra’. We are selling it in some stores of SEWA,” said Thakkar, a biotechnology graduate.A SOURCE OF PROTEINThis year, the students have made mushroom ball patties and Jowar totha (tuver totha is a traditional dish) with mushrooms and spirulina.

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Shashikant Pandya, Deesa MLA and BJP Hindutva face, may find place in cabinet

The BJP in Gujarat polls played a soft Hindutva card but many strong Hindutva faces were in fray this time. Among these, Deesa’s winning candidate Shashikant Pandya, 54, is believed to be a dark horse. Pandya, a RSS Pracharak, is a bachelor and is believed to be very close to PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.Pandya was among the Karsevaks who participated in demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Pandya said, “I had gone in 1990 for Kar Seva, but we were dragged by police in riverbed of Sarayu near Ayodhya. Mulayam Singh Yadav kept us in jail for many days. All Kar Sevaks had to face very tough time in Tihar prison. Then, I was one of the crowd who climbed up to the peak of the controversial structure of Babri Masjid and demolished it.”Pandya had also participated in BJP’s movement to unfurl the Tricolour in Lal Chowk of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir during the tense days. Keeping the Hindutva image of Pandya in mind, BJP leaders offered him the ticket for Assembly polls from Deesa constituency in Banaskantha.Pandya said, “Deesa was hit by massive flood in July this year and people faced a lot of hardships. I and other RSS volunteers camped in the affected areas and helped locals. This was the turning point, and perhaps the high command considered me to be a candidate for the Deesa seat. Over 50 RSS Swayamsevaks stayed put in Deesa for poll campaigning and that helped me win against Congress sitting MLA Gova Rabari.”A senior BJP leader in Gujarat said, “Pandya is very promising leader. He is very close to PM and Amitbhai. It is possible that he may get berth in Vijay Rupani’s cabinet and may become minister of state for home. His Hindutva image makes him a dark horse in the race of Gujarat politics.” Pandya was a standing committee chairman in Deesa Municipality. He is an Arts graduate and is associated with the construction business and agriculture activity. He won with a margin of more than 14,500 votes against Rabari.A BJP leader from Banaskantha said, “Some senior leaders of BJP did not want Pandya to win and they tried a lot to make him lose in the polls. However, Pandya is a grassroot level worker and has been associated with RSS and BJP for more than 30 years. It was his Hindutva image and work that earned him the victory, walking against all odds.”

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BJP outgained Congress for upper hand in Central Gujarat

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

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New faces in new Gujarat government

The Chief Minister-elect, Vijay Rupani, and his deputy, Nitin Patel, will get young members of their team to run the state government this time. BJP leaders are of the opinion that young members in the cabinet may leave a good impression on the common people. The government may have at least seven to eight young faces this time.The young faces that may find a place in the Rupani’s cabinet are BJP’s Gujarat president Jitu Vaghani, Vibhavari Dave, Shashikant Pandya, Hitu Kanodia, Manisha Vakil, Ishwar Parmar, and Dushyant Patel. These all leaders are of the age of 40 to 45 years. These elected candidates of BJP can hold different portfolios as minister of state (MoS). Whereas the former cabinet minister Jayesh Radadiya, 34, also is the young leader who is believed to be repeated as cabinet level minister in this government.A senior leader of BJP said, “The party believes that there should be a combination of experienced and young members in cabinet of Gujarat government. The young members may have fresh ideas and zeal to work with efficiency. Another reason to bring in more young faces is that many of our senior leaders have lost in the polls, who could have been made ministers otherwise.””We had selected around 8 to 10 members who may be in the cabinet and sent that list to the high command. The high command will take the final call on the selection, but it is the ideology of BJP to give more chance to young leaders who can influence the masses,” added the senior leader.Besides the young members, there are several senior MLAs who could have been included in the cabinet of the Gujarat government. Some such faces are Ganpat Vasava, Babu Bokhiria, RC Faldu, Saurabh Patel, Kaushik Patel, Pradipsinh Jadeja as cabinet-level ministers while Dr Nimaben Acharya, Vasan Ahir, Parbat Patel, Rajendrasinh Chavda, Karsan Solanki, Vallabh Kakadia, Pankaj Desai, CK Raulji, Jaydhrathsinh Parmar, Bachu Khabad, Kishor Kanani and Raman Patkar may get the place in cabinet as minister of state.Fresh facesThe new faces that may find a place in the Cabinet are Jitu Vaghani, Vibhavari Dave, Shashikant Pandya, Hitu Kanodia, Manisha Vakil, Ishwar Parmar, and Dushyant Patel.

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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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PM Modi pitches for infra, transport

Launching a 12-km stretch of Delhi Metro’s newly built Magenta Line, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly pitched for use of public transport and took potshots at previous Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh for not visiting Noida due to superstition.Flagging the importance of connectivity, the PM said on Monday that the Metro line is not only for the present but also for future generations, and emphasised the need to reduce petrol imports by increasing the use of state-of-the-art mass transit systems.Modi did not name either SP’s Akhilesh Yadav or BSP’s Mayawati but lauded UP CM Yogi Adityanath for breaking the Noida jinx. “Due to his dress, some people find it fashionable to believe that CM Yogi Adityanath is not ‘modern enough’ but what he has done today is something which was never done by any of the previous CMs of Uttar Pradesh. Faith is important but blind faith is not desirable,” the Prime Minster said.Adityanath, sharing the dais with the Prime Minister, was all smiles as the latter praised him.Modi also slammed previous Chief Ministers for their “corrupt” activities and alleged they were only “spreading superstition” about political leaders losing power if they visited Noida.”If anybody thinks not going to a place will prolong their CM tenure and visiting a place will curtail it, such a person does not deserve to be a Chief Minister. Unfortunately, there were superstitions associated with Noida and in his own style, Yogi Adityanath has risen above it,” he said.Adityanath’s chief ministerial visits to Noida came eight years after the last by then CM Mayawati. Before the 2012 UP polls, she had visited Noida and the BSP had lost. Her successor Akhilesh Yadav never visited Noida and skipped inaugurating a key development project’s inauguration just before the Assembly polls in UP early this year. Samajwadi Party, however, lost the elections.The Prime Minister recalled that when he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, people told him about a few inauspicious places, but he was clear that he would go there in the first year itself.”Driven by blind faith and superstition, leaders never went to places for decades. How unfortunate is that,” Modi said, reminding that he remained Chief Minister for four terms in Gujarat.Pitching for use of public transport to save on fuel and petroleum import costs, the Prime Minister said travelling on a Metro train should be a “prestige” issue.Lamenting that development is seen through the prism of politics based on the interest of parties many times, the Prime Minister said governance cannot happen when the dominant thought process begins at ‘Mera Kya’ and ends at ‘Mujhe Kya.'”We have changed these mindsets. For us, decisions are about national interest and not political gains,” he said. Countering the allegations of Opposition parties that his government was not working for the poor, Modi said, “the top ten industrialists would not travel on Metro. You will”.Terming NDA’s first Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee the ‘Bharat Marg Vidhata, the Prime Minister said that it was on December 24 in 2002 when he took a ride on Metro and since then, the Metro network in NCR has expanded considerably.He said that the work on railway infrastructure and road network expansion are happening at a historic pace under the NDA government, and that the country is making strides in the renewable energy sector.

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Unable to pay EMI and rent, residents forced out of city

Rendered homeless after their relatively new building began crumbling, many residents of the now-demolished Gaurav Enclave Cooperative Housing Society in Mira Road East have been staying in temporary accommodation, waiting for the redevelopment to reach completion so they can shift into their new homes. In the meantime, the developer has allegedly stopped compensating them for transit accommodation, so they have to shell out EMIs as well as rent.Gaurav Enclave shot to infamy in 2013 after it developed cracks within 15 years of its construction. Nearly 233 residents of the building had to move out of their homes so it could be razed and redeveloped. Now, the builder who had originally raised the building, Ravi Group, is carrying out its redevelopment.The residents allege that exorbitant rents have forced them out of the metropolitan’s limits, to places like Vapi, which is in Gujarat. This has drastically affected their lives and livelihoods.Krishna Malani, a building resident who expected to have a new home after redevelopment, is one of them. “I stay in Vapi now. I don’t have a home. It’s been five years that we vacated the building and we are still waiting to return,” he said, adding that the developer has stopped paying him rent.D Gala, another tenant, claimed that while signing the redevelopment agreement, they were promised monthly recompense (rent) till the building came up.The builder had committed to delivering the project in three years’ time.”In case of a delay in the project, he was to pay us rent with a 10 per cent yearly increment. In spite of this agreement, the builder didn’t pay us rent on time. And now, he has stopped paying us rent altogether. It’s been almost five years since we moved out and the construction isn’t anywhere near completion,” Gala said.Some tenants have been ‘lucky’ to find alternate accommodation in Mira Road itself. “I vacated the building long back. I have found a home on rent in this suburb. But I am waiting to return to my house which I had purchased in 1997,” said Thomas, another resident.Another tenant who didn’t wish to be identified is looking forward to returning to his shop in the building. He said, “People are paying EMIs for their homes and also paying rent to stay for their current lodging. It is really a difficult time for all of us. We vacated the building in July 2013. For the last two years we have not received payments towards rent from the builder. The construction is taking place but at a snail’s pace.”Repeated attempts to contact Ketan Shah of Ravi Group were in vain. He didn’t reply to our messages, nor receive our calls.Tomorrow, we will take a look at the lives of people who left their old dilapidated buildings in the hope of returning to a new one. But they are biding their time till the construction comes up.

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Rahul Gandhi sends ‘big hug’ to woman on Twitter! Find out why

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday took to Twitter to send a ‘big hug’ to a woman and also to wish her happy birthday and merry Christmas. Maybe Rahul Gandhi is finally smitten by someone and is ready to reveal it to the world. Actually, no, it’s the other way around! A 107-year-old woman blew her birthday candle on Monday and had only one wish on her mind- to meet Rahul Gandhi. Reason? She thinks the newly appointed Congress president is really “handsome”.A Twitter user with name Dipali Sikand tweeted on Monday with her grandmother’s picture cutting birthday cake with the caption: “Today my grandmother turned 107. Her one wish. To meet @OfficeOfRG Rahul Gandhi ! I asked her why? She whispers….He’s handsome !”Rahul Gandhi was quick to reply and tweeted, “Dear Dipali, Please wish your beautiful grandmother a very happy birthday and a merry Xmas. Please also give her a big hug from me. Best, Rahul.”It’s surely a Christmas miracle Deepali’s grandmother would have hoped for. Rahul Gandhi assume post as Congress President on December 16. During the recent Gujarat campaign, we witnessed his ‘change’ has got the media talking.From taking subtle digs at BJP to mixing ‘Khakra’ jokes in his speeches, Rahul Gandhi looked like a rejuvenated man.

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A dialogue with JC: Gujarat results change game plan of Congress & BJP

How Modi-Shah succeeded in Gujarat?The face of Modi and booth management of Amit Shah…were the biggest reasons for the success. Besides, two more factors contributed – division of Muslim votes and fielding non Patidars against Patidars…they weaved strategy in such a way that they could succeed in forming government for straight six times.How Modi-Shah turned the table in the last leg?They encashed two statements – one that of Kapil Sibal relating to Ram Mandir and the other statement of Manishankar Aiyar. They also encashed issue of Manmohan Singh meeting with Pakistani Ambassador. Public believed that meeting with Pakistani had happened. What transpired what not… it’s different issue. These issues set the gameplan for BJP in the last round.How Congress lost it at the last in Gujarat?We won’t say that Congress missed it but Congress miscalculated in Surat…Congress had great expectations from Surat…but BJP in a smart move sent its senior leaders to campaign in Surat who directly communicated with businessmen and traders and reached to a settlement saying that in future government may give major relaxations. As a result, out of 12 urban seats BJP clinched 11. Congress’ bigwigs lost elections from Surat…Shakti Singh was defeated…third factor was division of Muslim votes. These factors summed up the defeated of Congress.Had Mayawati and Sharad Pawar helped BJP win Gujarat?Definitely, fielding of candidates by Sharad Pawar and Mayawati helped BJP…and it is said that people of Mayawati and Sharad Pawar were given list of candidates o be fielded in Gujarat elections by the higher-ups in BJP. That could be the reason why Congress lost on at least 10 seats where they could have won.Why there were speculations of introducing new CM in place of Rupani?The other party says that those speculations were baseless…this was pre decided that if BJP wins the duo of Rupani-Patel will be at the helm… and that has happened…there is no chance of any change of guard.Why women get less tickets in Gujarat?This is quite saddening. Everyone talks about women empowerment…but Congress and BJP both gave only 10-12 tickets each. The percentage of women candidates was very low. Why Muslim candidates got less support from public in Gujarat?25-30 Muslim candidates contested the elections…but they got less vote percentage. Even in Muslim dominated areas, the percentage was less. This a an issue investigationAfter results, why Rahul Gandhi visited Somnath temple again?By visiting Somnath temple, Rahul Gandhi sent a message that even after losing elections, he will continue with the agenda of soft-Hindutva. He looks to be trying to snatch away Hindutva agenda from Modi.What are the economic and political lessons for Modi from Gujarat elections?The biggest lesson is political – You can’t take Gujarat for granted any more…second takeaway is that at any cost he will have to handle the resentment which has occurred among traders and businessmen due to demonetisation and GST. He has given several relaxations in GST in Guwahati and he will have to dole out more. Besides, Aadhar will not be linked to Real Estate…government is becoming flexible and in coming days we may see more relaxations in the policy of government and business class gets more relief.Will government administer amendments in the current economic policies?There will certainly be some amendments…Modi-Shah-Jaitley will sit together to discuss what reforms can be done in policies without compromising its anti corruption stand.Will Bhupendra Yadav get charge of Karnataka?I am completely convinced that Yadav is the discovery of Amit Shah. Yadav is from Ajmer and never went to any English School but speaks and writes English very well… makes great strategies…Amit Shah picked him …he was associated with Bihar elections, Maharashtra polls, made incharge of Gujarat where BJP won and now he will be sent to Karnataka. After that he will be sent to Rajasthan…certainly Yadav is discovery of Shah.What is the role of RSS in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh?RSS is the reality in the life of BJP…its estimation is correct…RSS had estimated about Gujarat that BJP may win only 64 seats…now it has warned BJP of 2019 elections that BJP may get 40-50 less seats in North India, so focus on East and South…RSS has a comprehensive role. Will Rahul-Hardik partnership remain intact till 2019?Grossly, it looks like that they will remain together till 2019…they may have difference on opinion on an issues in coming times…hardik patel can say that Congress should give post of leader of opposition to a Patidar…Hardik is a moody person but still they looks to remain together.Will Gujarat government send Hardik to jail on any of the issues?It can’t be called vindication but law will take its course…Vijay rupani had said that if BJP forms government, legal action will be taken against him.Why Om Mathur who knows the pulse of Gujarat was not seen active?There is a great contribution of Om Mathur in elections…he had been in the team of Modi-Shah… I think he has become little inactive and disheartened.. and it’s but natural. BJP is in power for 4 years but he could not get anything.What would be the political implications of the acquittal of 2G accused?Congress and DMK gained a lot in terms of public perception..Karunanidhi and his party are the biggest beneficiary…Congress has got an issue against BJP and it may make this an election issue in 2019.What would be the political impact of the conviction of Lalu?There would be little impact on the movement of Lalu…I think this could become a sympathy factor in 2019 elections…this decision has borne a negative impact on Lalu but there will be hardly any impact on the lifestyle of Lalu. He will issue statements from jail and lead agitation from there.Will Congress make election issue out of court decisions on 2G and fodder scams?Congress will definitely leverage on 2G issue…Congress will definitely fan this issue before 2019 elections. Eventually Congress has gained from this decision. What would be the impact of these results on the outcome of coming assembly elections?There is a feel good factor for Rahul Gandhi in states where assembly elections are due. Rahul Gandhi has started speaking well…it will boost morale of workers in the states…but it can’t be said that Congress will be able to form governments in these states.

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Gujarat jitters: Maha govt to soothe farmers’ nerves

After BJP’s poor performance in cotton belt of Gujarat in the recent Assembly elections, the Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has decided not to allow a repeat of it in the state. To nip the anger of the cotton growing farmers in the bud, it is planning to dole out compensation and relief to the farmers before the state and Lok Sabha elections.Large parts of Maharashtra — Vidharba, North Maharashtra and Marathwada — are major cotton growing belts in Maharashtra. In 2014, the BJP got as many as 56 seats out of its total 120 seats in this region. This year, due to the bollworm insecticide, majority of the farmers’ cotton crops got damaged and they suffered huge losses.The BJP is expecting that its announcement of Rs 37,000 per hectare compensation for non-irrigated cotton farms and Rs 38,500 for farmers whose crops were damaged by bollworms will help it stave off any setback in elections.“Besides, the farmers are not getting fair price for their produce. Currently, cotton has been sold at Rs 4,500-Rs 5,000 per quintal against Rs 6,000-7,000 during Congress regime. There is a huge anger among farmers and that will reflect in the coming elections against the BJP government,” said Nawab Malik, spokesperson of NCP.Malik said in Gujarat elections also, the BJP, out of 127 rural — cotton and peanut growing belt — seats, got only 56, while the Congress outperformed with 71 seats. The Congress’ total tally is 80 in the 182-member Gujarat assembly.“We expect same in Maharashtra in rural belt. Despite being PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s home state, farmers decisively voted against BJP in Gujarat. Chief Minister Fadnavis had promised the farm loan waiver. What happened? Hardly any one benefitted,” said Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra Congress chief.“The Congress and the NCP are trying to fan out the uneasiness in the sector. They even called a Halla Bol protest there recently. However, we are confident of applying balm on the anger,” said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.GUJARAT LESSONSThe BJP mainly lost in the rural belt in the recent Gujarat Assembly polls. Of the Congress’ total tally of 80 in Gujarat, 71 seats are from rural sectors. BJP wants to avoid any repeat of this in Maharashtra’s rural belt.

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4 soldiers killed in Keri sector: Army says no mutilation of bodies

The Army today clarified that the bodies of its personnel killed in firing by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir were not mutilated and the injury marks were due to splinters and gunshots. An Army major and three soldiers were killed yesterday after Pakistani troops targeted the Army patrol at Brat Galla in Keri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district. “The injuries suffered are due to splinters and gunshots sustained due to firing by the enemy on the patrol,” Army sources said here. Responding to media reports, they said that there has been no mutilation of bodies.Congress slams govt’s Pak policy: The Congress today attacked the Centre over the killing of four Indian soldiers along the LoC by Pakistani troops, saying the incident raises questions over the government’s ability to protect the country’s borders.Also readArmy Major, 3 soldiers killed in Pak firing in Keri sector, J&K CM pays tribute Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said yesterday’s incident along the Line of Control (LoC) was an outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “flip-flops and somersaults” on Pakistan. Pakistani troops opened fire on an Indian Army patrol, killing a Major and three soldiers in Keri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, yesterday. Tewari claimed that there have been 900 attempts of incursion by Pakistan this year, out of which 780 cases have been reported along the LoC and 120 along the International Border (IB).”There were 583 major ceasefire violations in 2014 (between June-December), 400 in 2015, 450 in 2016 and 900 this year. The prime minister points fingers at others, accuses people who have occupied top posts of committing treason but this government seems incapable of protecting our borders,” the former union minister told reporters. Modi, during the Gujarat assembly polls campaign, had suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the Assembly polls in the state.The government and the Congress are involved in a face- off over prime minister Modi’s ‘conspiracy with Pakistan’ remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh. Tewari said that the BJP government’s Pakistan policy is driven by “flip-flops, somersaults and adhocism” and demanded that the prime minister comes clear on his agenda behind his 2015 stopover in Lahore or the Centre’s decision to allow ISI personnel at the Pathankor terror attack site.He said India’s neighbourhood policy was in tatters under the BJP dispensation as apart from the “frequent” Pakistani shelling along the border and incursions, the new Nepalese government was overtly tilting towards China. “In Sri Lanka, growing Chinese influence is a matter of concern. Maldives has signed an FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with China disregarding India’s position. China has constructed permanent structures in Dokalam,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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Vijay Rupani’s journey from student leader to CM for second time

Born on August 02, 1956, in Rangoon of Myanmar, in a Jain Bania family from Rajkot, Vijay Rupani is a leader who has played different roles through out his political career. He was the seventh and youngest boy among his siblings. His family moved back to Rajkot on 1960 after political instability in Myanmar.He studied BA and LLB from Saurashtra University. He began his political career as student activist and RSS Swayamsevak and became the chief minister of Gujarat on August 08, 2016. Meanwhile, entire story of making of the Gujarat CM for Vijay Rupani remained full of ups and downs, but a persistent by nature, Rupani remain non-challent in his life.Vijay Rupani began his political career as a student activist with Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student wing having ideology similar to BJP and RSS. He joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and then Jan Sangh in 1971. In 1976, he spent 11 months in jails in Bhuj and Bhavnagar during the emergency when he was booked under MISA Act.During 1978 to 1981, Rupani worked as Pracharak of RSS and traveled across Gujarat. He met Anjali, his wife, in Ahmedabad. Meanwhile, her family was working for RSS and both got married. He was elected as a corporator of Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) in 1987 and became the chairman of drainage committee. He served as the chairman of standing committee of RMC from 1988 to 1996. He was again elected to RMC in 1995 and remained mayor of Rajkot during 1996 to 1997.He became Gujarat BJP’s general secretary in 1998 and served as the chairman of manifesto committee during chief ministership of former CM Keshubhai Patel.He was appointed as a chairman of Gujarat Tourism in 2006. He was a member of Rajya Sabha from 2006 to 2012. He served as BJP’s Gujarat unit general secretary four times and also became the chairman of the Gujarat Municipal Finance Board in 2013.In August 2014, when the incumbent speaker of Gujarat assembly Vajubhai Vala resigned after being appointed as Karnataka Governor, Vijay Rupani was nominated by the BJP to contest his vacant seat. He won the bypoll on 19 October 2014 by a huge margin. He was inducted as minister in the first cabinet expansion by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in November 2014 and held the ministry of transport, water supply, labor and employment.

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TMC protests Centre’s FRDI bill; say they will continue protests as long as they are around

TMC youth president Abhishek Banerjee on Friday led a rally in Kolkata to protest the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill. At the end of his speech, he said that as long as the TMC was there the bill would not be passed.“The BJP government at the Centre might try to intimidate us with CBI, ED, Income Tax and other agencies but when it comes to the welfare of the people, TMC people can’t be silenced. I want to assure you all that as long as the TMC is there, we will not pass this bill. Mamata Banerjee had asked us to initiate a movement against the bill and if this bill is not cancelled, we will further intensify our protest, in every district of the state. They think they can force it on to the country. Just like the Left Front which could not force the Tata Nano factory to function here and the TMC won fighting for the people, we will not allow the FRDI bill to be passed as well,” he said.Saying the bill would empower the Centre to take over people’s deposits at will, without the permission of the depositors, he said there was no difference between Saradha Group head Sudipta Sen. “If Sudipta Sen had siphoned off people’s money through his chit fund companies, the BJP leaders are planning to take away your money as well. If Sen is jailed, these people need to be put behind the bars as well,” Banerjee lashed out.Banerjee added that the poor performance of BJP in the Gujarat Assembly elections was the beginning of the end for the party. “In Gujarat with the help of which they had come to power, BJP has performed its worst in the last 22 years. This sounds the death knell for the party and after 2019 general elections, there will be no sign of the party in the country. They have been rejected in Bengal and after 2019 they will be rejected by the rest of the country,” he said.State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, reacting to Banerjee’s comments said, “They dont know what the bill contains. They are afraid of BJP’s growing popularity and thus they are saying these and now have come to personal attacks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and myself. People will see through these and the canards will not go on for too long.”

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Gujarat University exam leaves students in chaos

Semester 1 students of B.Com, BBA, BA, B.Sc, MA and M.Com were baffled when their examination centre was changed at the last moment on Thursday.While the university claims that the centre was changed because of the sudden visit of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) at one of its colleges, students allege that their one hour was wasted.Himanshu Pandya, V-C, Gujarat University, said, “At the last moment, NAAC team members had a visit at one of the college. Since it is a technical issue, we had to cooperate with them. But none of the students suffered a loss in their exam hours..”University also changed the seating arrangement a night before the BCom examination. The second phase of examination that was to begin on Thursday led students in chaos. Failing to take into account the actual capacity of examination centres, the department allocated a higher number of students to colleges leading to chaos. Eight government colleges wrote to the varsity that they will not be able to accommodate the higher number of students which forced the varsity to change the seating arrangement at night before the examination starts. More than 50,000 students appeared for exams at more than 70 centres.SEATUniversity also changed the seating arrangement a night before the BCom examination. Eight government colleges wrote to the varsity that they will not be able to accommodate the higher number of students which forced the varsity to change the seating arrangement at night before exam starts.

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Rajkot eagerly awaits Vijay Rupani’s return as CM

Chief minister Vijay Rupani resigned on Thursday and has been serving as caretaker of state, until the new CM is elected by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Rupani met the Governor with his ministers, and around 240km way from here in Rajkot, the BJP workers and supporters of Rupani are eagerly waiting for the announcement of the name of CM.The observers Arun Jaitley and Saroj Pandey will conduct the procedure on Friday. The Rajkot BJP workers are keeping their fingers crossed, with a hope that their leader Rupani becomes the CM again.A party worker from Rajkot said on condition of anonymity, “We believe that Rupani only will be the CM but we are also hearing that other leaders are also under consideration. Let us see what happens but I am keeping my finger crossed for Rupani.”On the other side, the Rajkot BJP is preparing for the grand celebration of victory of Rupani in city once he returns to hometown after the formality of oath taking. The leaders are also confident that Rupani only will become the CM of Gujarat.A BJP leader from Rajkot and very close friend of Rupani, Nitin Bhardwaj said, “I have no doubt that Vijay Rupani will be the CM of Gujarat again. Amit Shah had given clear indication during campaigning that Rupani will continue as CM. We are waiting for the announcement of his name as it is a formality only.””We had prepared a slogan during poll campaign here, Rajkot ka beta, Gujarat ka neta- meaning Rajkot’s son is to be leader of Gujarat. We will hold a grand celebration once his name is officially announced. We had celebrated for Narendra Modi, Anandiben Patel and Vijay Rupani when they came here after becoming the CM. We also offered grand welcome to Amit Shah when he came here after his appointment as BJP chief,” added Bhardwaj.BJP spokesperson Raju Dhruv said, “Rupani was in Gandhinagar as he is the CM and could not come to Rajkot due to regular courses, but we all celebrated his victory here in his absence. Once he comes again to Rajkot, we will celebrate it with more enthusiasm.”

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BJP toes Congress line of caste-niti

Accusing Congress of resorting to caste politics in recently concluded assembly elections at Gujarat, the BJP itself seems to have learned lesson of the same. Ahead of by-elections scheduled at Rajasthan BJP has begun to strengthen its caste cadre and focus on the new voters at the state. Party’s organisation secretary, P Chandrashekhar on Thursday took a session at party state headquarters at Jaipur on its proposed ‘Nav- Matdata Abhiyan’ aimed to increase association of young voters.A day earlier Chandrashekhar along with party state president Ashok Parnami has held a session of the Dalit public representatives of the party. The party at Rajasthan has divided its legislators into caste base categories and tends to assign them a responsibility to ensure support from their respective community. “The meeting of Dalit MLA’s was first in the sequence, we will be soon holding similar meetings of public representatives of other castes,” BJP state president Ashok Parnami briefed on the party plans. BJP at Gujarat was unable to keep intact the ‘Hindu’ votes as several caste swung towards Congress, it also suffered a decline in the share of young voters below 25 years of age. Thus as the responsibility of caste votes is handed over to MLAs of the respective caste, the task to associate young voters has been assigned to the party’s youth wing, Yuva Morcha. On Thursday, BJP’s state organising secretary Chandrashekhar attended a workshop of the Yuva Morcha along with state general secretary Bhajanlal Sharma and state Yuva Morcha president Ashok Saini. Here the participants were briefed on the campaign by a trainer from Delhi. “The nav-metadata program is being launched on instructions of the central leadership and will cover all universities and colleges of the state,” said Bhajanalal Sharma. It is, however, the backward caste votes that remain a major concern for the party. Vote bank Dalits are estimated around 20% of total voters were traditionally Congress supporters but switched sides in the last y elections. Ajmer and Alwar where by-elections where dalit voters hold the key, which is why BJP has given prominence place to their leaders in party like Kalisah Meghwal.

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Judgement to leave impact on 2018 states’ polls

With the trial court exonerating all accused in 2G spectrum case, it’s a journey back from ‘national loss’ to ‘notional loss’ in the contentious issue, which shook the politics of the nation in years preceding the last general election.As the court acquitted the accused, citing lack of evidence, the judgement comes as a moral booster for Congress just days after the Gujarat results.The alleged scam in 2G was not only a prime reason for decimation of UPA II in 2014 general election but also came handy to the BJP in successive assembly polls as including the Gujarat state elections, which concluded last week.With Congress now able to shed its corruption tag related to 2G, the judgement will have ramifications for Assembly elections due next year.BJP had lapped up the issue to taint Congress as steeped in corruption in the run-up to the 2014 general elections. BJP used the issue to paint Manmohan Singh as not only a “weak” Prime Minister under who corruption “thrived” but frequently suggested even his “complicity” into the matter.With Congress now able to shed its corruption tag related to 2G, the Thursday’s judgement will have ramifications for assembly elections due next year in over half a dozen states particularly in Karnataka, Madhya Pradess, Chhatisgarh and Rajasthan where the issue of corruption will be one of the major poll planks.The result will also have a crucial impact on Tamil Nadu politics, where DMK appears to be in a resurgent mode. With both former telecom Minister A Raja and DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi discharged or corruption and money laundering charges, the DMK will have a confident face while internal turmoil roils its principle rival AIADMK post J Jayalalitha’s death.With taint over, DMK is no more politically untouchable even for BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in first week of November visited the home of ailing DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi. Political possibilities for DMK are now wide open after the judgement.

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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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Yogi Adityanath corners Congress over Tipu Sultan

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday launched a scathing attack at the Congress saying that it do not worship Lord Hanuman but show their devotion to Tipu Sultan.Speaking in Hubli of Karnataka, Adityanath said, “They (Congress) do not worship Hanuman ji, but worship Tipu Sultan. This is the difference of mentality. The Congress wants to implement the ‘mafia raj’, which Rahul Gandhi has got in legacy, all over the country.”He further said that people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have rejected the Congress adding, “If Karnataka rejects Congress, nobody will worship Tipu Sultan.”Adityanath’s statement comes on the heels of Karnataka assembly elections, scheduled to be held in 2018.This is not the first time when such statements have been made against the Mysore ruler. Earlier, BJP leaders including Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah had slammed Congress-led Karnataka government for celebrating the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan.”The Congress government wants to divide Karnataka community to rule..The government here created such an issue over Tipu Sultan. I do not want to dive deep into history, but I have to ask: Why is there no celebration for Kempegowda, Kittur Rani Chennamma or Sir M Visvesvaraya? Why only Tipu Sultan,” Rajnath questioned during a rally in Bengaluru.While addressing a rally, the BJP chief said, “Karnataka Mahotsav was supposed to be grand but the state government was not enthusiastic about it, instead they are about Tipu Jayanti.”

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In-principle approval for 19 greenfield airports given, Aviation Minister Gajapathi Raju tells Lok Sabha

The government has given “in- principle” approval for 19 greenfield airports, of which some would be developed through Public Private Partnership (PPP), the Lok Sabha was informed today.Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the country’s civil aviation sector was growing leaps and bounds but the safety of air passengers will never be compromised.Emphasising that air travel is growing leaps and bounds, Raju said during Question Hour that the number of aircraft in the country was around 548 compared to about 395 in 2014.Since the government came to power in 2014, around 50 aircraft is being added every year, he said.Responding to a query whether shortage of skill was affecting the aviation sector, Raju said there is a problem and mismatch of skill.The minister asserted that safety of passengers was “never compromised and will never be compromised”, adding that safety and security was paramount for the government.When a member expressed concern over air safety against the backdrop of incidents involving Pratt & Whitney engine- powered aircraft, Raju said, “passenger safety is never put at risk”.Out of the 19 greenfield airports for which “in- principle” approval has been granted, some are to be developed through the PPP model.”Mopa in Goa, Navi Mumbai and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra, Bhogapuram and Dagadarthi in Andhra Pradesh, Hasan in Karnataka, Kannur in Kerala and Dholera in Gujarat” would be through PPP model by the respective state governments with a total investment of around Rs 27,000 crore, Raju said.The responsibility of implementing these projects rests with the state governments concerned, he noted.To a query, the minister said, “we like more airports to come,” and the government would work with the states in this regard.

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Gujarat effect: Audio of song eulogising Ashok Gehlot goes viral

A graceful defeat of Congress in Gujarat assembly polls, where former CM Ashok Gehlot played a pivotal role in the party’s campaign spearheaded by Congress party president Rahul Gandhi, has boosted morale of his supporters in Rajasthan and they are celebrating his ‘performance’ in their unique way. Just two days after the poll results, an audio of a song composed in regional dialect has been circulating on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. It begins with the singer asking ‘What is your name’ and second singer says his name is former CM Ashok Gehlot, recognising him Jannayak, ‘leader of masses’.Crediting him for creating a thunder in Gujarat polls and shaking politics in Rajasthan, the song further says as a politician he will create clatter in entire country soon. He has been referred to ‘heart beat of the youths’ in the song as well. As assembly polls are nearing, his supporters on social media have become active, projecting two times of CM Gehlot as a mass leader. Although who has composed the song is yet to be ascertained, it wants to create an air of his popularity, even before by-polls in Mandalgarh assembly, and Alwar and Ajmer parliamentary constituencies.Gehlot, with the Gujarat assembly polls, has emerged as a stalwart and an impressive poll manager handcrafting campaigning and giving a tough fight to the BJP in its fortress, where it has ruled nearly 22 years. His skills in strengthening party in Gujarat are expected to reap benefits in his home state Rajasthan and he could be seen in a new role of chief aide of Gandhi as well.His increasing clout in the party has silent the rumour mills which had started spinning his departure from state politics and admission in Central leadership when he was sent to Gujarat. A group within the party even started claiming that he has been given tough task to fight in Modi’s Gujarat where defeat of Congress will signal his farewell from active politics. Now, the scenario has been changed completely and his zealous supporters are cashing in on it.‘HEART BEAT OF YOUTH’Crediting him for creating a thunder in Gujarat polls and shaking politics in Rajasthan, the song further says as a politician he will create clatter in entire country soon. He has been referred to ‘heart beat of the youths’ in the song.

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BJP wins one ST seat less, vote share up 5%

Even as the Congress came up with its best performance in the state in more than two decades in the just concluded Assembly elections, the voting pattern in tribal seats will be a concern for the party. Though Congress and its allies won the same number of seats as in 2012, and BJP one less, the ruling party recorded a huge rise in vote-share in tribal belts, a clear sign of its increasing penetration in seats considered traditional Congress strongholds.In 2012, Congress had won 16 out of the 27 tribal reserved seats, which are spread along the state’s entire eastern border, starting from the southernmost district of Dangs and right up to Banaskantha in north Gujarat.The BJP had won ten seats in 2012, while Chhotu Vasava had won the Jhagadia seat in Bharuch.In the 2017 elections, the Congress won 15 out of the 24 seats that it contested, while Chhotu Vasava’s outfit Bhartiya Tribal Party, with which Congress had a seat-sharing agreement, won two seats, taking the alliance’s tally to 17.BJP’s tally of tribal seats came down from ten to nine, while independent candidate Bhupendrasinh Khant won from Morva Hadaf seat. Khant has said that he would join the party that approaches him first. If he joins the BJP, its tally will rise to ten, the same as in 2012. However, for Congress, the devil is in the details.An analysis of the election results shows that Congress’ vote-share increased just marginally, while that of the BJP was up sharply.The analysis reveals that Congress increased its vote-share in tribal seats from 46.1 per cent in 2012 to 46.50 per cent in the latest polls. The analysis also includes the seats that its ally BTP had contested. On the other hand, the BJP, despite winning one seat less than in the previous elections, saw its vote-share going up from 40.40 per cent to 45.40 per cent, a massive increase of 5 per cent.To put this number in perspective, Congress’ overall vote-share increased by about 2.5 per cent from 39 per cent in 2012 to 41.4 per cent in 2017 polls.Though BJP’s vote-share in tribal seats was lower than its overall vote-share of 49.1 per cent, a 5 per cent rise is a huge one.Senior Congress leader Tushar Chaudhary was among the big losers for Congress in the tribal seats, while ten-time MLA Mohansinh Rathwa just scraped through with small margin.”The results were good, but we could have done better. The party should start grooming newer faces rather than depending on the same candidates again and again. This is the need in Gujarat, and also in the tribal belt,” said a Congress leader, requesting anonymity.The 2017 elections saw Congress coming up with its best performance in the state in more than two decades in the recently concluded Assembly elections. The party and its allies won 80 seats, while restricting the BJP to 99 seats, the ruling party’s lowest tally in past six elections.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Cong analyses poll loss, prepares 2019 road map

Two days after the Congress lost in the Gujarat assembly elections, but also put up its best performance in over two decades, the Gujarat Congress began its two-day meet to analyse the poll results. Congress president Rahul Gandhi will also meet state party leaders and workers in Ahmedabad on Saturday as a part of exercise.On the first day of the meet, which is being held in Mehsana, Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, Gujarat Congress in-charge Ashok Gehlot, and other leaders met with party leaders from 20 districts and discussed the performance in the elections.Discussions with leaders from remaining districts would take place on Thursday. During the discussions, some party leaders blamed poor selection of candidates for the loss, while some attributed it to tampering of Electronic Voting Machines. A few also blamed differences between the party’s leadership for the defeat, while others said how the loss of key leaders hurt the party.Addressing party leaders, Gehlot expressed satisfaction at the party’s performance in the elections and accused BJP of misusing government machinery. “The Congress did well. We could not form the government, but we have been able to send a message that Congress can fight the BJP even in the home state of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah,” he said. Speaking with reporters after the day’s proceedings, Bharatsinh Solanki said that the discussions were not just about the assembly elections, but also to start working for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “We have received various complaints and suggestions. The party will decide on them in due course,” he said. In the election results announced on Monday, the Congress won 77 seats, its best performance in last six elections, while restricting the BJP to 99 seats.RAHUL TO TAKE STOCKCongress president Rahul Gandhi, who had campaigned extensively in the state ahead of the elections, will be in Ahmedabad on December 23 to review the party’s performance. “Rahul ji will meet leaders from the four different zones of the state at GU Convention Hall during the course of the day. In the evening, he will address party workers,” Manish Doshi, Gujarat Congress spokesperson, said.

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Arun Jaitley, Saroj Pandey to be in Gujrat to decide on CM: Jitu Vaghani

Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani said that observers appointed by BJP high command for the election of Gujarat CM will come to the state in a day or two. The BJP chief addressed a press conference at BJP headquarters Shri Kamalam on Wednesday. Vaghani also slammed Congress for celebrating their defeat.Vaghani said, “In very short time, our observers, Jaitley and Saroj Pandey, will come and the process of election of CM by calling a meeting of elected candidates of BJP. The procedure will be conducted very soon in day or two.”Taking potshot over Congress and Gujarat in-charge Ashok Gehlot, Vaghani said, “The Congress is celebrating for what? Their defeat in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. They are creating an uproar that they have got more seats in Gujarat, but they have lost and defeat is defeat. Why they are not talking on their leader Rahul Gandhi’s failure in Himachal Pradesh polls.””The Congress gave luring promises in their manifesto but they should understand that people of Gujarat are self-respecting and they cannot be enticed by hollow promises. We thank the voters who showed faith in BJP, PM Narendra Modi’s leadership and good governance in Gujarat under BJP’s rule for 22 years,” added Vaghani.Vaghani also said that Congress should not go overboard after Gujarat polls and should start daydreaming for Lok Sabha polls. He also added that Congress would not be able to win in Lok Sabha polls to be held in 2019 and next assembly polls of Gujarat to be held in 2022.Meanwhile, The Gujarat government’s cabinet passed the resolution to dissolve the 13th assembly and that was moved to Governor for his approval. The Governor also approved the same and the assembly issued the notification accordingly. Including Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani and other cabinet members, will submit their resignations to Governor on Thursday.

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Jignesh Mevani asks PM Modi to retire, go to Himalayas

Dalit activist and newly elected MLA Jignesh Mevani asked prime minister Narendra Modi to retire and go to the Himalayas. Mevani contested in the elections from Vadgam (SC) seat of Bansakantha as an independent candidate, but with Congress’s support.”I want to tell Modi ji that we are done with you. You now bore us. You should go to the Himalayas, find a Ram Temple and ring bells,” Mevani told a news channel on Wednesday, a day after returning to his home at Ahmedabad. However, Mevani’s comment did not go down too well with many in the social media criticising him for his language.In his comment Mevani also said that the BJP, which was talking about winning 150+ seats in the state, had to eat the humble pie by being restricted to under 100 seats.”We are going to fight against the BJP in 2019, and the same will happen then. We will intensify our movement, both in the assembly and outside to corner the BJP,” he said.Mevani, along with Patidar reservation agitation leader Hardik Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, are seen as three youth leaders in Gujarat. While Mevani and Thakor were elected as MLAs, Hardik had only campaigned for the Congress.(With agency inputs)

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Mamata Banerjee to be new Opposition face, Hardik Patel new ally

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made a bid to project herself to a more formidable role among the Opposition coalition. Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Derek O’Brien at Parliament on Wednesday said that Mamata has the best credentials to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.”If we speak about the future of the Opposition, then Mamata di has the best credentials; she’s experienced, credible, and has integrity,” O’Brien said adding, “Bengal will play an important role in 2019.”O’Brien said that Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel spoke to Mamata after Gujarat election results. He added that Jignesh Mevani also spoke to her. “We have been with these young leaders since the days of demonetisation. It’s just that we do not publicise these visits,” he said.Speaking to DNA, Patel said the TMC supremo had called him up on Tuesday to congratulate him for his work in the Gujarat assembly elections. In response, Patel said that he expressed the need for UPA to come back to power again in Lok Sabha polls 2019.”I also told her that all the opposition front should work together against BJP. I expressed my wish that may the alliance of opposition parties come to power in center again after Lok Sabha polls to be held in 2019,” Patel said.TMC leaders feel that with Sonia Gandhi stepping back, Mamata has the credibility to emerge as the tallest leader in the Opposition. In fact, in the dinner hosted by Congress leaders for Sonia Gandhi’s farewell on Sunday, three Opposition leaders were invited to share the table with congress president Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and former vice-president Hamid Ansari. These leaders include TKS Elangovan on behalf of DMK’s MK Stalin, O’Brien on behalf of TMC, and D Raja on behalf of CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury.”Mamata ji called me up and praised for the agitation against the BJP government in Gujarat and different issues been raised addressing different class of people,” Patel said.In order to mobilise support for the OBC electorate, Hardik had been meeting Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. In fact, after he was let out of jail, he flew to Patna to meet Nitish. But with Nitish in the BJP camp, the Patidar leaders has been meeting the Congress leaders, apart from leaders in the Opposition.

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Gujarat: BJP likely to pick CM on Friday; Cong begins analyses of results

The newly elected BJP MLAs of Gujarat are likely to meet in Gandhinagar on December 22 to elect their leader who would be the next chief minister of the key western state, party sources said today.Union minister Arun Jaitley and party general secretary Saroj Pandey, who have been appointed central observers for the election, will hold consultations with the MLAs before the new chief minister is announced. Though incumbent Vijay Rupani continues to be the favourite for the coveted job, there is speculation about his continuance given the BJP’s narrow victory in its bastion. The BJP has 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, seven more than the 92 required for forming government but its lowest in a long time. The Congress and its pre-poll allies have 80 seats, with the main opposition party having 77.BJP chief Amit Shah had said during the campaign that the elections would be fought under Rupani. Since Modi was the face of the BJP in the keenly fought electoral battle, a last minute change cannot be completely ruled out, sources said. Many in the party wonder if the top leadership would go for somebody from the Patidar community, as the party prepares for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Though the Patidars have traditionally backed the BJP, a section led by young community leader Hardik Patel turned against the party over the quota issue.Also readGujarat elections 2017: BJP had more close victory calls in 2017 than in 2012The BJP leadership’s propensity for springing a surprise while making its choices for top positions, be it a chief minister or the president, has left many guessing if someone new will be chosen to helm the state. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Manohar Lal Khattar and Trivendra Singh Rawat, his Haryana and Uttarakhand counterparts, were all surprise choices. So was President Ramnath Kovind. Even Rupani was seen as a surprise choice when the party decided to replace Anandiben Patel last year. While many thought Nitin Patel was an obvious replacement of Anandiben, he was eventually made the deputy chief minister. Rupani is known to be close to Amit Shah, has a clean image, and is seen as caste neutral, qualities which may finally tilt the scales in his favour.Congress begins stock-takingAlso readGujarat Election Results: Congress must concede defeat; voters gave a clear cut mandate to us, says BJP Two days after the Gujarat assembly poll results, the Congress today began an exercise to analyse the electoral outcome at a three-day conclave that will be attended by party president Rahul Gandhi on Friday. During the ‘chintan shivir’ (introspection camp), the Congress leaders and workers will analyse the election results district-wise and discuss the road-map ahead in view of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, state party president Bharatsinh Solanki said here.In the elections, the results for which were declared on Monday, the Congress could not wrest power from the BJP even though its tally increased to 77 seats from 61 last time. The Congress ally Bharatiya Tribal Party won two seats, and along with an independent backed by it winning his seat, the tally of the Congress-led alliance stood at 80, 12 short of the simple majority in the 182-memberassembly. The BJP retained power for the sixth time, though with a reduced score of 99 seats against 115 in 2012. The Congress performed well in rural areas of Gujarat but failed to make a significant mark in the urban pockets.The venue of the conclave today and tomorrow is a resort in Mehsana district and on the third and final day, the venue will shift to Ahmedabad where Gandhi will be present, Solanki said. Gandhi, who campaigned extensively in the state for the assembly elections, will address the Congress workers on Friday. “The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee has organised the ‘chintan shivir’ with the aim of discussing the Assembly poll results and to provide a road-map to strengthen the organisation and increase its connect with the people, keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Solanki told reporters.”For two days, we will meet here in Mehsana, and on third day, we will meet in Ahmedabad where Congress president Rahul Gandhi will visit to address party workers,” he said. Congress general secretary and election in-charge for Gujarat, Ashok Gehlot, expressed satisfaction over the party’s performance in the polls, while accusing the BJP of “misusing government machinery” and raising questions over the approach of the Election Commission. “Both in terms of seats and campaigning, the Congress performed wonderfully well. Although we could not form the government, a message has been sent across that the BJP can have a tough time fighting the Congress even in the home state of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and (BJP president) Amit Shah,” said Gehlot, who is also attending the camp.”The way the BJP campaigned involving cabinet ministers with the prime minister himself making emotional appeals, the way they misused government machinery for polls, and the manner the Election Commission took decisions, we believe we have done exceedingly well,” he said. Senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, who lost from Mandvi in Kutch district, said the party could have formed government had it won 16 seats on which it got defeated by narrow margins.However, he took solace in the fact that the BJP was reduced to “double-digits” despite an aggressive campaigning. “At one point after forming the government in 1985, the Congress was reduced to a mere 32 seats. This time people have supported Congress in large numbers and we have increased our seat tally,” he said. “And after 1990, for the first time the BJP has been reduced to double-digits. We were defeated by small margins on as many as 16 seats. Had we won those seats, we could have formed the government,” Gohil said.

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Amidst Rahul’s rising stock, TMC says Mamata has finest credentials to take on BJP in 2019

Young leaders from across the country were reaching out to Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee for her guidance to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, party leader Derek O’Brien said today.A day after Banerjee reportedly had telephonic conversations with Patidar quota agitation spearhead in Gujarat Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, O’Brien said the young leaders were certain to gain from the TMC chief, who had the “finest credentials” to take on the BJP in 2019.”I am not surprised that young leaders from across the country are reaching out to her (Banerjee) for her guidance and to learn from her experiences. She has the finest credentials to take on the BJP in 2019,” he told DNA.According to O’Brien, the TMC chief was sure that the saffron party could be defeated in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls if all the anti-BJP forces came together.”Her experience, track record, role in people’s movements over the last four decades, the experience as a cabinet minister and the resounding mandate of last year (in the West Bengal Assembly polls) makes her the most credible face to take on the BJP,” The Rajya Sabha member said.”If we were to look at the future of the Opposition, Mamata Banerjee has the best credentials. She has the experience, credentials and integrity. Bengal will have an important role to play now and in 2019,” O’Brien added.Apart from Patel and Mevani, OBC leader Alpesh Thakore also played a crucial role in the Gujarat election in putting up a tough fight against the BJP, which had ruled the state for 22 years.Whereas Thakore won on a Congress ticket and Mevani won as an Independent candidate backed by the party, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), led by Patel, extensively campaigned against the BJP in Gujarat.With PTI Inputs

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Rajasthan: Man sets wives ablaze for not keeping his mother happy

In a shocking incident, a man set his two wives on fire allegedly for not keeping his mother happy, police said today.The accused, Deepa Ram, yesterday took his two wives Daria Devi (25) and Mali Devi (27) in his car on the pretext of buying them jewellery, the police said.Ram claimed that he was unhappy with them due to some family matters and as they did not keep his mother happy, Additional SP Jalore Binja Ram said.”In the moving car, he quarrelled with them. As the car lost balance, he stopped,” Binja Ram said.Meanwhile, one of his wives got out of the car seeking help of locals but he managed to push her inside and drove away again, the police said.After some distance, he came out of the car, locked it and set the vehicle on fire, Ram said, adding both his wives were charred to death.The accused works as a labourer in Gujarat and is father of three children.He has confessed the crime and was arrested, the police said.

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PM Modi turns emotional in BJP Parliamentary meet, stresses on booth level network to win 2019 polls

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called for strengthening the BJP at its roots for a win in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and also pitched for promoting young faces inside and outside the party.Addressing the BJP parliamentary party here, Modi pushed for promoting the new generation for a “New India”, a vision for 2022 promoted by his government. He also urged party leaders not to be affected by the opposition’s “disinformation” campaign against the BJP, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters. Booth level work, which is the root of a poll campaign, is the mother of an election victory, Kumar quoted Modi as saying.”He called for strengthening the party at its roots across the country,” Kumar said.Party sources said Modi turned emotional a few times as he recalled how the party organisation was built in Gujarat and young leaders were groomed by their seniors, including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.With the Congress claiming a “moral victory” for scoring its highest tally and pushing the BJP’s to its lowest score in the last many elections, Modi asserted that it was a big win for his party in his home state. No party in power at the Centre had done this well in elections across the country in over three years of tenure as the BJP had done, he said, referring to its winning streak in Assembly elections.<<iframe allowfullscreen=”” frameborder=”0″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/g7S-wj4AHL8″ width=”100%”/>Modi fondly recalled how Vajpayee congratulated him in person when the party fared well in a Lok Sabha election from Gujarat, noting that he, then a relatively new entrant to the BJP from the RSS and a general secretary in charge of the state, was not widely known in the party, sources said. Seeking the promotion of young leaders at every level in the organisation, Modi referred to his association with party president Amit Shah, who was present at today’s meeting, and spoke about how he groomed Shah, 14 years younger to the prime minister, they said.”Modi called for strengthening the party at its roots across the country. He said the work at the booth level is most important, beside people’s blessings to the party, for creating a wave in its favour,” Kumar told reporters after the meeting. Modi wanted younger generations to be connected with party work, social work and for building the nation. He noted that the “millennial generation” would be eligible to vote from 2018. In his address, Shah attacked the Congress over its claim of a moral victory in the Gujarat polls, saying it was a “laughable exercise” for the opposition party to see victory in defeat.By getting more than 49 per cent of the votes, the BJP had received its highest share in the last many elections, including in 2012, when it won 116 seats against the 99 this time.

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After Gujarat, Amit Shah turns focus on Bengal, to draw roadmap to strengthen BJP in state

After emerging victorious in the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat Assembly elections, Central leadership of BJP has instructed to go all out in strengthening the party organisation in West Bengal.Sources said that on December 19, BJP national president Amit Shan had given such instruction in a meeting with party national secretary from Bengal and former state president Rahul Sinha.Shah had reportedly said that that state leaders needed to pay attention towards completion of party’s booth committee formation.In the meeting which was conducted late in the evening Shah had first taken stock about the party’s activities in Bengal.Later he said that along with the campaigns, meetings and rallies it should also be ensured that booth committees were paid due attention. The first task would be to build at least a 10-member booth committee in all the booths and later work on increasing the number.Sinha had also been instructed to mobilise all the party state frontal organisations and different cells. Sinha has also been handed over the task of seeing that more and more defection from different parties to BJP takes place as well as eminent personalities and intellectuals should also join the party.It was also found out that Shah wants to make the Gujarat and HP victory as the turning point for the West Bengal BJP ahead of the 2019 general elections and he would conduct a meeting with the state BJP leadership in January 2018 and draw up a roadmap. Shah is also likely to visit West Bengal next month.Sinha said that from the importance the Central leadership was paying to West Bengal it is clear how serious and focussed our leaders in Delhi are about Bengal.

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Manmohan Singh-Pakistan remark: Nobody will apologise as incident did not happen in House, says Vice President Naidu

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, addressed the controversy surrounding the allegations made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi against former PM Manmohan Singh of conspiring against Pakistan.“This is not the way. Nobody is going to give apology. Nothing happened in the House. The statement was not made here,” Naidu said in the upper House.The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2 pm after an uproar by the opposition in the house over the allegations that the Congress had conspired with Pakistan for the BJP to lose in Gujarat. PM Modi had made the allegations following a dinner party hosted by senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar that had ‘top Pakistani officials present.’ However, Singh listed those who attended the dinner hosted in honour of visiting former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. “None of them could be accused of any anti-national activities,” he said.Also readParliament attack anniversary: Modi, Manmohan Singh shake hands after row over ‘Pak meddling’ allegationsOn Monday, Congress continued its protests in the Parliament on Monday, disrupting proceedings in both Houses for the second day. The party had raised objection to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks that suggested former prime minister Manmohan Singh conspired with Pakistan to influence Gujarat elections.While Lok Sabha was adjourned within minutes on Monday, Rajya Sabha was first adjourned within 10 minutes after it assembled at 11 am. At 12 noon, when it reassembled, it was adjourned again as Congress continued with sloganeering and would not allow any legislative business to continue.Also readApologise to Manmohan Singh, Congress tells Narendra ModiCongress leader Anand Sharma demanded a clarification by Prime Minister on his remarks about Singh, a sitting member of Rajya Sabha.Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu insisted on taking up a question, but some Congress members did not allow him to continue. As the chaos continued, Naidu remarked, “I don’t want this kind of thing to be seen by the people,” and adjourned proceedings for the day as Congress members were seen walking into the Well.

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Paresh Dhanani ahead in race for CLP leader’s post

With most of Congress’s senior leaders biting the dust in the Gujarat assembly elections, Paresh Dhanani, who was elected as MLA for the third time, is seen as the front-runner for the post of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Gujarat. A couple of other MLAs are seen as Dhanani’s contenders but he is clearly ahead in the race.Dhanani is a Patidar, a community which strongly supported the Congress in the rural belt. What tilts the scale in his favour is that he comes from Saurashtra, a region where Congress nearly doubled its tally from 16 to 30. In fact, in Dhanani’s hometown Amreli, the Congress won all five seats. The firebrand leader is perceived to be close to newly elected Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “Paresh Dhanani’s appointment as CLP leader would be a good move to woo Patidars ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He is also quite vocal and that would help in cornering the government during the assembly proceedings,” said party officials.Dhanani is seen as a giant killer, having defeated senior BJP leaders in each of his election victories. In 2002, he had defeated Parshottam Rupala, in 2012 Dileep Sanghani, and Bavku Undhad in the latest elections.Another potential contender as CLP leader is senior leader Mohansinh Rathwa, who was elected to the state assembly for a record 10th time. Rathwa was appointed leader of opposition after Shankersinh Vaghela quit the Congress in August. His elevation could be seen as an attempt to reach out to tribals, a community where the party’s support base has steadily eroded over the years.Shailesh Parmar, who was elected as MLA from Danilimda (SC) seat in Ahmedabad for the third straight time, is also seen as a potential contender as CLP leader. Parmar was appointed as the Congress’s chief whip in the assembly after Balvantsinh Rajput’s exit from the party in July.

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Full-time DG in eight weeks: Gujarat high court tells state

The Gujarat high court has ordered the state government to appoint a Director General of Police (DGP) by following the regular procedure within eight weeks of time. The order comes after a public interest litigation sought directions to the state government to appoint a regular DGP instead of running the police department with an in-charge DGP. The state had cited assembly elections as a reason for the step. Former IPS officer Rahul Sharma had moved the petition challenging the state government’s decision to continue to appoint in-charge DGP. While passing the order, first division bench of chief justice R Subhash Reddy and Vipul Pancholi on Monday has concluded, “As per the Supreme Court order in Prakash Singh Vs Union of India, and even the Bombay Police Act and the Gujarat Act, the state government is bound to appoint DGP on regular basis. So, there is no reason for the state government for not filling the post with regular DGP. Though the state government has claimed that as the elections are going on it can take any steps, but it is the state government’s obligation to appoint regular appointment. The state government should initiate the process of the selection of the regular DGP and appoint within eight weeks of this order.”The petitioner’s advocate IH Syed had submitted that since 2016 there has been no regular DGP and the state police department is run by the in-charge officer, which is affecting its operations. And though there are rules for appointing regular DGPs, the state is not discharging its duty by doing so.Petitioner’s contention was that in-charge DGP can be influenced by the ruling party, as his/her tenure in office is at the mercy of the ruling party.GOVT’S EXCUSEThe state showed its helplessness in the name of the election notification It claimed that the entire force was busy with the elections It said it couldn’t take any decision of transfer or appointment without the EC’s permission

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Voters misled by BJP’s tall claims

Voters across Gujarat have been misled by the BJP’s tall caims, yet they continue to support the party, disregarding harsh realities, says Shashikant Patel, the Congress candidate from Ghatlodia constituency, who lost by a margin of 1,17,750 votes to his BJP rival Bhupendra Patel. He said that Ahmedabad has been allocated tens of thousands of rupees but the corresponding development is not visible.Patel, popularly known as Bhurabhai, is a realtor, while his BJP rival is a former chairman of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority and a confidante of former Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. “I must have walked close to 250 km to meet people one on one. But we failed to convince voters,” he said.

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Gujarat elections 2017: BJP had more close victory calls in 2017 than in 2012

If BJP and Congress were to be involved in a very close fight, guess whom lady luck would favour? If past election result statistics of close calls are anything to go by Congress should ideally be the destiny’s child in such contests.But 2017 was different with BJP and Congress seeing close contests in almost equal number of seats.This election had close contests in atleast 32 of the 182 assembly seats, three down from what it was in 2012 elections. In that election 35 seats saw close contests.For the sake of analysis, we have considered a winning margin of less than 5,000 votes as a close contest.In the year 2017, of the 32 close contest seats, BJP won 15 while Congress won 16. One close contest in Morva Hadaf was won by an independent.It should be noted that Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also tweeted about the close contests in several of the seats in Gujarat. The tweet was to show that BJP’s claim of having the backing of Gujarat was not all that it was made out to be.What is interestingly about the close contests in 2017 is that the number of seats in which the BJP won with a whisker has actually gone up. The party won by a margin of less than 5000 votes in 13 seats in 2012 assembly elections. This went upto 15 seats in 2017. Of this 15 seats, in three seats the party won by a margin of less than 1000 votes. These seats were Botad, Dholka and Godhra. Of this, in Dholka and Godhra BJP won by 327 and 258 votes.For the Congress, the close contests seats actually came down from 21 in 2012 to 16 in 2017. Of the 16, Congress won with a margin of less than 1000 votes in four seats. These four seats were Mansa, Kaprada, Deodar and Dangs. Of this Kaprada was the only one seat it won with less than 500 margin. The seat saw Congress candidate beating their rivals with a margin of just 170 votes.

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