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Rajinikanth takes the plunge: From Amitabh Bachchan to Vinod Khanna, 11 Bollywood stars who joined politics

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

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DMK opposes talaq Bill, wants it sent to standing committee

Meanwhile, DMK's high-level committee, which meets for the first time after A Raja's acquittal in the 2G spectrum scam, case greeted him and Rajya Sabha MP MK Kanimozhi for proving their innocence in the court. In the resolution adopted, it was noted that the charge against the Kalaignar TV had also proved to be baseless in court.”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written ByG Jagannath <!–end of artlbotbor–>Saturday 30 December 2017 2:38 ISTMust readMumbai’s Kamala Mills Fire | When midnight birthday bash turned into a funeral Mumbai Fire | ‘Don’t know how I got out alive,’ survivor recalls inferno horror<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>Joining its arch-rival AIADMK in opposing the triple talaq Bill, the DMK on Thursday opposed the Centre over the “haste” shown in getting the Bill passed in the Lok Sabha and wanted it to be referred to a standing committee.DMK Working President MK Stalin also objected to the “stringent” three-year jail term for men and wanted to know if the BJP government at the Centre was really concerned about the welfare of Muslim women.Stalin said the Supreme Court had only said that Parliament can enact a law on the matter and there was no mention of awarding a three-year jail term. Underlining his party’s commitment to women’s rights, especially Muslim women, Stalin said: “Questions arise over the government poking its nose into the Sharia law and religious practices and bringing such a Bill with haste”. He added, “If the BJP government had no such intentions, it could have sent the bill to a Parliamentary Standing Committee to elicit views of all party members.”Meanwhile, DMK’s high-level committee, which meets for the first time after A Raja’s acquittal in the 2G spectrum scam, case greeted him and Rajya Sabha MP MK Kanimozhi for proving their innocence in the court. In the resolution adopted, it was noted that the charge against the Kalaignar TV had also proved to be baseless in court.

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Private Bill making jobs fundamental right rejected in Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha on Friday rejected a private members bill that sought to make the Right to Employment a fundamental right. The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (insertion of new article 16A) — moved for consideration by Bishambar Nishad — was rejected by the House with 18 members voting in favour of the Bill and 21 members voting against it.The voting for the Bill was necessitated as Nishad refused to withdraw his Bill despite assurances by Santosh Gangwar, Minister of State (Independent charge) that the government was taking a number of steps to generate employment in the country, including granting loans to small and medium enterprises.The Bill sought to make employment, a right for anyone who is above 18 years of age. It stipulated that if a person is unable to get employment, he/she should get unemployment benefits as a fundamental right.While arguing in favour of the bill, Nishad said that employment should be made a right because if the youth does not get employment, they join terror groups and get involved in various crimes.He also sought the assurance from members that any suggestions he gives in the direction of providing employment in the country should be acceptable to the government.However, Nishad expressed dissatisfaction with the assurances give by Gangwar.98 BILLS INTRODUCEDAs many as 98 private members’ bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday, including one to constitute a board for protection and control of stray cows

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Parliament panel raises concerns over lack of infra in railways to deal with cybercrimes

A parliamentary panel has expressed serious concern over lack of infrastructure in the railways’ vigilance directorate to deal with cybercrimes, days after the CBI busted a ticketing scam in the national transporter.The Railway Convention Committee that submitted its report in Parliament today on vigilance in Indian Railways said they were not satisfied that the ministry’s vigilance directorate was foolproof as far as dealing with cybercrimes was concerned. “When there is no requisite infrastructure or expertise available with the railways to effectively deal with cybercrime and software manipulation, the e-tendering and e- auction system introduced by the ministry cannot be claimed to be foolproof,” the committee has said, raising doubts over the security of all e-platforms used by the railways.The committee has urged the ministry to induct persons with “ample experience” in handling cybercrimes, either through deputation or permanent absorption, so as to eliminate any scope of “manipulation of the system by vested interests”.The parliamentary panel, chaired by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab has 12 members from Lok Sabha and and six from Rajya Sabha.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested its software programmer for developing an illicit software to subvert the railways Tatkal reservation system, allowing hundreds of tickets to be booked in one go.

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BJP gets into huddle mode, discusses bypoll candidates

State BJP discussed the names of probable candidates for Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha and Mandalgarh assembly by-elections. The state election committee has prepared a panel of three probable candidates on the basis of feedback from party office-bearers. This panel will now be sent to the BJP central command to have final say.For bypoll preparations a meeting of state election committee was organised at a hotel on Thursday which was chaired by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, BJP state in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna, state president Ashok Parnami, state general secretary (organisation) Chandra Shekhar and national joint secretary (organisation) V Satish.In this meeting, feedback was taken on probable candidates from party office-bearers of all the three constituenciesMandal and district presidents, MLAs, Ministers, UIT Chairmen and other senior leaders were invited from Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha constituencies and Mandalgarh assembly constituency in the meeting. In the meeting, names of probable candidates were discussed for the by-election from the party workers. Firstly the opinion was taken in the name of probable candidates for the Ajmer Lok Sabha by-election. This was followed by opinion from the party office-bearers of Alwar Lok Sabha and the Mandalgarh Legislative Assembly area. During the meeting senior leaders asked the names of the three probable candidates from these local leaders on the basis of their win-ability in by-election. Organisation had asked the names of three probable candidates on a slip from these office-bearers. Based on their preference, all the officials present in the meeting wrote names of three-three probable candidates on the slip. The BJP will now form a panel of top three candidates on the basis of slips received. This panel will be sent to the central BJP. BJP’s parliamentary board will thereafter select candidate for these by-elections. During the meeting, CM Raje and state in-charge Khanna instructed the party workers to mobilise the preparation for the byelections. Raje said that like in the Dhaulpur byelection, the party will also win in the three by-elections by the record margin.Probable candidates’ namesAjmer Lok SabhaFormer MP Sanwarlal Jat’s son Ram Swaroop Lamba, Ajmer District President BP Saraswat, Pushkar MLA Suresh Rawat and Deepak Bhakar.Alwar Lok SabhaMahant Balaknath, MLA Ramhet Yadav, minister Jaswant Yadav, former MP Ghasiram’s daughter Ritu Yadav, Sanjay Sharma.Mandalgarh AssemblyBhilwara District president Shakti Singh Hada, Sanjay Dhakad

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Lok Sabha passes ‘historic’ triple talaq Bill

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

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BJP moves privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi over ‘Jaitlie’ remark

Irked by Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s tweet twisting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s name as ‘Jaitlie’, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) moved a privilege motion against him in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.BJP member Bhupender Yadav took up the issue soon after the House endorsed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on Kulbhushan Jadhav.Moving the motion under Rule 187, Yadav urged Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu to take notice of the alleged breach of Jaitley’s privilege, who is also the Leader of the House.”All the members of this House have dignity. The name of Leader of the House Arun Jaitley has been intentionally published by the Congress president with malafide intentions to defame this House,” Yadav said.”The way the name of Leader of the House has been tweeted by the Congress president, it comes in the category of (breach of) privilege. There are precedents such as that of NC Chatterjee in 1954. I request you to go to this precedent and issue notice to Rahul Gandhi,” Yadav said.Naidu said he would take a view after examining the motion.Referring to Jaitley’s statement on Wednesday that led to end the week-long logjam in Parliament, Rahul Gandhi had tweeted, “Dear Mr Jaitlie (sic) – thank you for reminding India that our PM never means what he says or says what he means.”In his statement Jaitley had clarified Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s position vis-à-vis his ‘conspiring with Pakistan’ comments made during Gujarat campaign against his predecessor Manmohan Singh.”The statement (by Modi) did not question nor did he mean to question the commitment to the nation of Manmohan Singh 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 the nation,” Jaitley had said.The finance minister made the statement as part of an understanding with the Congress party reached after several rounds of back channel parleys, that had led to continues stalling of the Rajya Sabha and disruptions in Lok Sabha for several days.The Congress also reciprocated by disapproving Mani Shankar Aiyar’s “Neech” comment regarding PM Modi.TWEET GONE WRONG?Rahul Gandhi had tweeted hitting at Arun Jaitley over his clarification of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment against former PM Manmohan Singh.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
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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!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
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Live Updates | Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tables Triple Talaq Bill in Lok Sabha

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, which seeks to criminalise the practice of triple talaq, has been tabled in the Parliament by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday.The draft Bill says, “any pronouncement of talaq by a person upon his wife, by words, either spoken or written or in electronic form or in any other manner whatsoever, shall be void and illegal”.Here are the live updates from the Lok Sabha:12:51 IST Thursday, 28 December 2017: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says the Bill is not against any religion:12:50 IST Thursday, 28 December 2017: BJD says the Triple Talaq Bill is flawed:12:49 IST Thursday, 28 December 2017: Protests against the Bill:12:44 IST Thursday, 28 December 2017: Law Minister moves Triple Talaq Bill in the Lok Sabha.

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

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

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Cyber attacks originate in Pak, China, says Alphons Kannanthanam

The government on Wednesday said there have been attempts from time to time to penetrate systems/devices of cyber networks operating in government and its personnel.”These attacks have been observed to be originating from the cyberspace of a number of countries including China and Pakistan,” Minister of State for Electronics and IT Alphons Kannanthanam said in a written reply to a Lok Sabha question.According to Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), 44,679, 49,455, 50,362, and 40,054 cyber security incidents were observed during 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (till November), respectively.The types of cyber security incidents include phishing, scanning/probing, website intrusions and defacements, virus/malicious code, ransomware, denial of service attack etc.CERT-In issues alerts and advisories regarding latest cyber threats/vulnerabilities and counter measures to protect computers on regular basis.The minister said five drills have so far been conducted by CERT-In to assess cyber security preparedness of organisations. About 148 organisations from different states and sectors such as finance, defence, power, telecom, energy, IT/ITeS, etc participated in these drills.

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Stone pelting goes down, but terror incident increase in Kashmir

The number of stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir have come down to less than half, as compared to last year, till November 2017 even though terror related incidents increased.The total number of stone-pelting incidents have decreased from 2,808 in 2016 to 1,198 till November this year, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.”The incidents of stone-pelting against security forces in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are reported to be 2,808 during the year 2016 and 1,198 till November this year,” Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said while replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha.The number of terror incidents this year was recorded at 337 till December 14 this year — the highest since 2011. The number was 332 last year. There was an increase in violence in the conflict-hit state since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani in July 2016.Security forces have killed 210 terrorists this year, going well beyond last year’s 150.Ahir said that an adequate number of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) personnel were deployed in Jammu and Kashmir to assist the state government in maintaining public order.”It is not considered appropriate to disclose the level of deployment of the security forces,” Ahir said, replying to another question in this regard.

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New Bill simplifies bamboo farming

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

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Parliament takes on Pak dirty tricks

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

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Tamil Nadu parties divided over Rajnikanth’s much-anticipated political entry

Tamil Nadu’s political fraternity seems to be divided on actor Rajnikanth’s much-anticipated political entry, with the ruling AIADMK saying that it was his “democratic right” while opposition DMK is waiting for the official word.”India is a democratic country. Anybody can join politics. It is up to the people to accept it or not, people are the judges,” senior AIADMK leader and state Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said. Handlooms Minister O S Manian, however, told reporters in Nagapattinam that politics “may not be ideal” for Rajinikanth, considering his health. The 67-year-old actor had availed medical treatment, including at Singapore-based Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre in 2011 for some illness. Manian said the actor should take the political plunge immediately, if he really wanted to do so.DMK Rajya Sabha MP, T K S Elangovan said it would be appropriate to react once the actor officially declares that he would be joining politics. “For any party, ideology and stand on key matters including language is important,” he told PTI. BJP state unit chief Tamilisai Soundararajan said her party had always welcomed the actor’s political debut. She said they could see a “determination” and “clarity” in his address. CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP TK Rangarajan said “he is a good friend..any voter can become a candidate, establish a party and fight election…it is his democratic right.” “But let him first enter politics, outline his policies and politics,”Rangarajan said and added that only then a reaction would be correct.The charismatic actor, who enjoys cult status in the Tamil film industry, today said he will announce his stand on entering politics on December 31.

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Muslim Women Bill that criminilises triple talaq to be introduced in Parliament

A bill seeking to criminalise the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslims is set to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill is listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 28, according to the list of business in the Lower House.The bill, prepared by an inter-ministerial group headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp — “illegal and void” and provides for a jail term of three years for the husband.It was cleared by the Union Cabinet earlier this month.The bill was listed for introduction last week, but Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar later told reporters that it would be introduced this week.As per the provisions of the bill, the husband could also be fined and the quantum of fine would be decided by the magistrate hearing the case.The bill is being introduced as the practice still continued despite the Supreme Court striking down ‘talaq-e- biddat’.The proposed law would only be applicable to instant triple talaq and it would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children.The woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.

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Gujarat: Low-profile Vijay Rupani back at the helm, earns praise from other BJP CMs

Vijay Rupani, a low-profile RSS man who has the trust of BJP President Amit Shah, is back in the chief minister’s chair after having survived the incumbency factor and a violent quota stir by the Patidars. Born in Rangoon (now Yangon, Myanmar) Rupani, 61, joined an RSS shakha as a schoolboy, before graduating to the BJP via the Sangh’s students wing–the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the BJP’s face in the high-octane election campaign in his home state, Rupani, belonging to the relatively small Jain community, steered the party machinery in Gujarat, neutralising the incumbency factor against his government and surviving quota stir by the Patidar community, the bedrock of the party’s support base. That he also successfully contained disenchantment with the government over farm distress in some parts of the state, and economic slowdown due to demonetization and roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), also stood him in good stead.Despite the BJP’s tally falling below 100 in a long time, Rupani’s selection also suggested that the top party leadership wanted continuity before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Though only a second-time MLA, he made a mark as an able administrator. Rupani, who worked mostly in the party organisation in Gujarat, fought his first Assembly election in 2014, winning a bypoll from Rajkot West. This time he won from the same seat with an impressive margin of over 53,000 votes. A bachelor of law, Rupani was a Rajya Sabha member between 2006 and 2012.Also readBJP shows off strength as Vijay Rupani takes oath as 16th CM of Gujarat: 10 points It was under him as chairman of the Gujarat Tourism Development Corporation in 2006 that the hugely successful advertisement campaign ‘Khushboo Gujarat Ki’, featuring megastar Amitabh Bachchan, was launched to promote the state as a tourism hotspot. He was also the chairman of the Gujarat Municipal Finance Board in 2013. When the Rajkot West seat fell vacant in October 2014 after Speaker of the Assembly Vajubhai Vala was appointed the Karnataka Governor, Rupani won the bypoll.On February 19, 2016 he was appointed the chief of the Gujarat BJP. It was seen as a victory for the Amit Shah camp in the state unit. When the state’s first and only woman chief minister Anandiben Patel resigned in August 2016 following allegations of inept handling of the Patidar and Dalit agitations, Rupani was catapulted to the hot seat. Rupani honed his political skills in the crucible of the Gujarat Navnirman agitation, a socio-political movement in 1974 by students and the middle-class against economic crisis and corruption in public life.It soon spread elsewhere, particularly in Bihar, where socialist legend Jayaprakash Narayan gave a call for ‘Total Revolution’. The movement finally led to the fall of Indira Gandhi government and installation of the first non-Congress dispensation at the centre under Morarji Desai. Rupani, who was then with the ABVP, was jailed for nearly a year during Emergency. As the mayor of Rajkot in 1996-97, he endeared himself to people of the city with his initiatives for improvement of the civic infrastructure.Rupani’s mettle as a politician will be tested again in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when Modi bids for a second shot at power. Delivering Gujarat to the BJP is the least he would expect from Amit Shah’s man in Gandhinagar. Chief Ministers of the BJP-ruled states today said the saffron party’s victory in Gujarat for the sixth consecutive time in recently-held polls was a remarkable achievement.Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Assam, and Bihar praised Vijay Rupani, who took oath for the second consecutive time as Gujarat CM at a function held in Gandhinagar.”It is a matter of great pleasure for all of us.Gujarat developed a lot during the tenure of Narendra Modi as chief minister. Some people were assuming that BJP will not come back after Modi left the state as prime minister. But it is a matter of immense pleasure that the BJP managed around 50 per cent vote,” said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also congratulated Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who came to Gandhinagar but could not attend the swearing-in ceremony, said the recent electoral outcome shows that people have reposed their “faith and trust” in Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. “I express gratitude to voters and give best wishes to (Vijay) Rupani and Nitin Patel for bringing the BJP back to power for the sixth time. Congratulations to the BJP for Gujarat victory. Gujarat has given a different model of development, and it is a faith and trust towards Modi that BJP keeps winning and coming back to power (in Gujarat),” Chouhan told reporters after the event.His Chhatisgarh counterpart Raman Singh said the poll result was the result of hard work put in by Modi and Shah. “Gujarat has again voted for BJP government. We thank Modi and Amit Shah who worked hard to achieve this. It will be a history that the BJP will rule a state for 27 years,” Singh said. Manohar Lal Khattar, Sarbananda Sonowal, and Nitish Kumar–chief ministers of Haryana, Assam, and Bihar, respectively—also extended their best wishes to the new government.

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BJP says it will go alone in the 2019 Telangana elections

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

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BJP leader bats for those who were martyred in 1857 war of independence

A BJP Lok Sabha member has urged the Centre to identify those who fought for the country’s Independence since 1857, and give their family members monetary and other government benefits.Sharad Tripathi, an MP from Uttar Pradesh, said many of those who fought against the British rule in 1857, recognised by many as the country’s first war of Independence, are not known much among the masses.”I believe that India’s fight for Independence began in 1857 leading to the freedom in 1947. The government should do a study and recognise such heroes as martyrs. Their family members should be given benefits,” he told PTI.Earlier this year in Parliament, Tripathi had demanded that a martyrs gate be built in the national capital in the honour of freedom fighters who laid down their lives between 1857 and 1947.A list containing the names of such freedom fighters should be released by the government as currently, there is no such authentic record, he said.While the names of Indian soldiers who fought the World War-II were inscribed by the British on the India Gate, there is no such commemoration for the Indians who died for the country’s freedom from 1857 to 1947, he had said.

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The Long and Short of Gujarat elections

The results of the 2017 Gujarat assembly election results were something that both BJP and Congress would be happy as well as sad about. The BJP would be happy, because it won for the sixth straight time in the state despite strong anti-incumbency and other challenges, and the Congress would be pleased as it managed to give the BJP a run for its money in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.Why would the BJP be sad with the results? The answer is that Gujarat has been its fortress since the mid-1990s. Even when it barely had presence in other states, Gujarat was its stronghold. The party would be worried as the election results expose the chinks in its Gujarat armour, especially just a little over a year before the elections. The results take away the aura of invincibility from the formidable combination of Modi and Shah, and show that they can be beaten. The reason Congress would be sad is because it was a case of it being so close and yet so far from that elusive victory in Gujarat. In spite of several so-called missteps of the ruling BJP, Congress could not finish the job, so to speak.When the election results were announced on December 18, the BJP was declared the winner in 99 out of 182 seats. This was 16 seats less than the party had won in 2012, and its lowest in any assembly election in Gujarat since 1995, when it first stormed to power. The Congress, on the other hand, won 77 seats, which was 16 more than it had won five years back. The Congress’s allies won three more seats, including Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani from Vadgam seat, effectively taking its tally to 80.The BJP increased its vote-share marginally from 48 per cent in 2012 elections to 49 per cent in the latest polls, but Congress saw its vote share rising from 38 per cent to 41.4per cent . With its allies, the vote-share was more than 42 per cent.BJP biggies had it easyKey BJP candidates such as chief minister Vijay Rupani, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, and state unit chief Jitu Vaghani were among the key winners. However, many other partyv leaders such as health minister Shankar Chaudhary, assembly speaker Ramanlal Vora, and energy minister Chiman Sapariya ended on the losing side.Cong leaders swept awayThough Congress was surely buoyed by its overall performance in the crucial elections, the loss of its entire leadership in the state, including the likes of Shaktisinh Gohil, Arjun Modhwadia, Siddharth Patel and Tushar Chaudhary, came as a huge shock. Their defeats has led to calls to groom other leaders who can lead the party in the future.Paresh Dhanani, Mohansinh Rathwa and Kunvarji Bavaliya were among the senior Congress leaders who won in the elections. Dhanani is seen as a front-runner for the post of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader in the House.36 sitting MLAs lostAs many as 121 sitting MLAs were in the fray in the 2017 polls. However, of them, 36 ended up losing, with remaining 85 getting re-elected. Of the 85 re-elected MLAs, 58 are from the BJP, 25 from Congress, and one each from NCP and Chhotu Vasava of Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP).Incidentally, BJP had fielded seven Congress turncoats as its candidates. Five of them, viz. Tejshree Patel, Raghavji Patel, Ramsinh Parmar, Amit Chaudhary, and Mansinh Chauhan, lost. Only two of the turncoats, viz. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and CK Raulji made it to the 14th Assembly.Three Muslim MLAsThe Congress had fielded six Muslim candidates, of whom three emerged as winners, and three came up short. Gayasuddin Sheikh and Imran Khedawala won from the Dariapur and Jamalpur-Khadia seats in Ahmedabad respectively. Sitting MLA Mohammed Javid Pirzada won again from the Wankaner seat. Congress’s Muslim candidates in Bharuch, Bhuj and Surat West seats lost.Close call in 27 seatsThough the difference in number of seats, BJP’s 99 and Congress’s 77, would suggest that BJP notched up an easy victory, the elections were far more closer than the numbers suggest. As many as 27 seats were won or lost with a margin of less than 3,000 votes. Of these, the BJP won 15 seats, while the Congress bagged 12. The victory margin in seven seats was less than 1,000, which means they could have gone either way, but for a few votes.NOTA bad at allAs many as 5.51 lakh voters, or nearly 2 per cent of the 2.98 crore who voted, chose None Of the Above (NOTA). In spite of the presence of Nationalist Congress Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Aam Aadmi Party, it was NOTA that bagged the highest number of votes after BJP and Congress, and in fact, in nearly 30 seats, NOTA votes numbered more than the winning margin. Again, another indicator of how close the elections really were.For Congress, the biggest positive from the 2017 elections was its performance in Saurashtra, where it improved its tally from 11 in 2012 to 27 in 2017, even as BJP’s tally fell from 29 to 21.The Congress did reasonably well in north Gujarat, where it won three more seats than in 2012. In south Gujarat too, it won two more than the last elections, but it won two less in central Gujarat.Near-sweep in cities saved BJPIn the overall analysis, it was its near-sweep in the four major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, that saw the BJP home. Out of 36 seats on offer in these cities, Congress won just four, all of them in Ahmedabad. The party came a cropper in Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, even failing to open its account.While it won more rural seats than BJP, the urban seats again proved to be the Achilles Heel for the Congress, once again, where the results turned out to be a lopsided affair.Advantage Cong in RS pollsIf assembly results are anything to go by, the Congress would seem to have the numerical advantage in 8 to 9 Lok Sabha seats, especially the ones in Saurashtra and north Gujarat, when they go to polls in early 2019. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had won all 26 seats in the state.While these are based on conjectures, the results would definitely boost Congress’s strength in Rajya Sabha. Four seats in the Upper House from Gujarat are set to fall vacant in April. Incidentally, all four Rajya Sabha members who are slated to retire are from BJP, viz. Arun Jaitley, Mansukh Mandaviya, Parshottam Rupala and Shankar Vegad.Considering its reduced strength of 99 in the assembly, BJP would be able to fill only two of the four vacant seats, while Congress is assured of the remaining two. However, this could change if elections were held and in the unlikely scenario of massive cross-voting.Hardik fails to deliverPatidar reservation agitation leader Hardik Patel’s roadshows attracted large crowds, but the results show that only few actually voted for the Congress. The second possibility probably explains the lower turnout in many of the Patidar dominated urban seats.“Even with the simmering anger among Patels, we could not win a single Patidar dominated seat in Surat or Ahmedabad. This is a big worry for us, and needs to be addressed immediately,” said a senior Congress leader.Fairer sex strength down to 13Thirteen women were elected this time, three less than in 2012 when the number was 16. Nine of the female MLAs are from BJP, including five sitting MLAs, and four new ones. Four women were elected to the assembly on Congress ticket, including sitting MLA Chandrika Bariya from Garbada.Modi, Rahul slogged it outThough stakes in the Gujarat elections were very high, both for BJP, which was keen to hold on to its traditional stronghold, and Congress, seeking to challenge the ruling party in its own den, the campaign was surprisingly low-key. This in spite of extensive campaigning by both prime minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.Modi addressed more than 30 rallies across the state, while Gandhi undertook yatra in all corners of the state and also addressed several rallies and public meetings. The Congress’s campaign mainly centred on the Centre’s alleged mishandling of the economy with moves such as demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST, which Gandhi dubbed as Gabbar Singh Tax. Gandhi also attacked Modi for devoting his speeches to the Congress party, while failing to utter a word about his vision for Gujarat’s future.Modi’s speeches, on the other hand, talked about the work done by him while he was the CM and now as PM, and also targeting the Congress for its alleged anti-Gujarat and anti-Gujarati mentality. He also likened Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as Congress president to Aurangzeb-raj, seen as an attempt to polarise voters.Neech, Pakistan,and what notThe election speeches, however, got nastier after the first phase of polling was over, especially after now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s comment used the word ‘neech’ for the PM. Modi brought up the word in speech after speech to attack the Congress.However, what led to a major controversy, and was seen by many as an attempt to polarise voters by bringing the Pakistan angle, Modi alleged that Aiyar had hosted a secret meeting with some Pakistani officials a day before calling him ‘neech’, and also accused Congress of conspiring with the enemy country to install senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel as Gujarat chief minister.While it is difficult to say if the episode influenced voters in any way, the election results suggest it did, as the BJP fared much better in the second phase than in the first one.The last of the Pakistan angle is yet to be seen as it later emerged that former PM Manmohan Singh, and former vice president Hamid Ansari were among those who had attended the dinner meeting at Aiyar’s residence. The charge, which Congress alleges amounted to Modi accusing Singh, Ansari and others of treason, continues to paralyse Parliament with the Opposition seeking an apology from the PM, and the BJP ruling out any such possibility.Vikas went missing, crazyThough the Gujarat election was supposed to be contested on the issue of development, the word Vikas somehow did not figure much in election speeches, especially those of BJP leaders. This was quite ironic considering that BJP’s election slogan was Hun Chhu Vikas, Hun Chhu Gujarat (I am development, I am Gujarat).Many believe that this was because of the Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe (Development has gone crazy) campaign that went viral on social media a few months ago. The campaign made BJP the butt of jokes, and also inspired several memes.BJP sought to hit back with the Pappuone Pachtu Nathi (Pappus cannot digest this) and other campaigns, but frankly, they didn’t catch people’s imagination.1,444 lost deposit1,444 of the 1,828 candidates who contested in the Gujarat polls lost their deposits. An analysis of the results reveals that in 172 seats, all candidates barring the winner and loser, lost their deposits. In the remaining ten seats, the third-placed candidates won more than one-sixth of the total votes polled, and hence their deposits would not be forfeited.HOW THE RESULTS WERE EXPECTED & UNEXPECTEDEXPECTED BECAUSEBJP was expected to win, it did It was expected to win less seats than in 2012, it did Congress was expected to put up a fight, it did BJP was expected to sweep urban seats, it did BJP was seen as losing ground in rural areas, it did UNEXPECTED BECAUSEBJP tally was expected to fall, but not below 100 seats, but it did The kind of reverses BJP suffered, especially in Saurashtra, were unexpected Loss of four top Congress leaders was unexpected Patidar anger failed to hurt BJP, or benefit Congress, much, quite unexpectedly POLLS IN FIGURESBJP 49.1% 1,47,24,427Cong 41.4%1,24,38,937Ind. 4.3%12,90,278BTP 0.7%2,22,694BSP 0.7%2,07,007NCP 0.6%1,84,815NOTA 1.8%5,51,615

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Yogi govt to free 93 prisoners on Vajpayee’s birthday tomorrow

The birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee tomorrow will bring cheers to 93 prisoners as the Yogi Adityanath government has decided to set them free.These convicts are lodged in different jails of Uttar Pradesh and their names were chosen from a list of prisoners who have completed their tenure in jail.”It has been decided to set free 93 prisoners convicted in different cases on the 93rd birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. These prisoners have completed their tenure in jail but could not be released due to non- payment of fine imposed on them,” Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said in an order issued here.He directed the prisons department to ensure the fine is paid by NGOs, trusts and others, after verifying their credentials.”The names of convicts to be set free have been picked up in a random manner from a list of 135 such prisoners who are not named or are serving imprisonment in another case,” a senior Home department officials said.Vajpayee had represented Lucknow in the Lok Sabha five times — 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004.His legacy was taken forward by BJP leaders Lalji Tondon and Rajnath Singh, who won Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and 2014.”Vajpayee is the first and the only non-Congress leader who completed his full term as prime minister. He means a lot not only in Lucknow seat which he served but for the entire state and in his regime a number of historic schemes were launched,” UP BJP spokesman Shalabh Mani Tripathi said.On the government decision to set the prisoners free, the BJP leader said, “It is a good decision and based on humanitarian approach. Releasing those who served their sentence by ensuring payment of their fine is a welcome step and shows the people-friendly approach of our government”.Born in 1924, Vajpayee had his baptism in politics during the Quit India movement in 1942.He was also the first External Affairs Minister to deliver a speech in Hindi in the UN Assembly in New York.

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Two-fold jump in NRIs registering as voters: Govt & EC data

The number of NRIs registering themselves as ‘overseas electors’ has seen a two-fold jump in the last three years, latest government and EC data show.The figure, however, is far too less when compared to the number of Indians living abroad and entitled to vote here. The issue of voting by NRIs in Indian elections is being debated again with the government moving a bill in the Lok Sabha to extend proxy voting rights to them on the lines of service voters. The bill says the necessary provision of coming to India to cast ballot caused “hardship” to overseas electors.As of now, non-resident Indians–essentially people living or working abroad who have not given up their Indian citizenship–can cast their vote in the constituencies they are registered in. This means that they first have to register themselves as voters and then take a long flight to India be present on election day. The hesitation to spend money and make travel plans to vote in India is reflected in the data available with the Election Commission and the government on ‘overseas electors’.As on May 2012, there were 1,003,7761 NRIs, according to the report of the multi-agency ‘committee for exploring feasibility of alternative options for voting by overseas electors’. Quoting electoral roll data of 2014, the committee said 11,846 people were registered as ‘overseas electors’– 11,140 of them men and only 706 women. The number of registered ‘overseas electors’ saw a two- fold jump this year. According to a Lok Sabha question answered in writing by Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary on December 15 in the ongoing Winter Session, a total of 24,348 people are ‘overseas electors’.These include 22,428 men and 1,920 women. Though the chart has a column for transgender, no one has registered. Interestingly, out of 24,348 overseas voters, 23,556 are from Kerala. Thirty-seven are from Delhi.According to the provisions of ‘Representation of the People Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ introduced by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Lower House, overseas Indians who are entitled to vote in India can now appoint a proxy voter to cast their votes.The person authorised as proxy has to be a different person in every election.

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Scurry within AAP leaders for Rajya Sabha seats

The race has started within the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to get Rajya Sabha seats a day after the Election Commission (EC) announced polls on January 16 to fill up vacancies. Three top leaders — Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Kumar Vishwas — who are waiting for four years for a Rajya Sabha seat have started lobbying.But CM Kejriwal wants to give the seats to a Muslim, a woman and a representative of the trading community. Sources in the party has hinted that two of them are Imran Pratapgadi, who campaigned for the party in Punjab and hails from Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi-based businessman Sushil Gupta. Sources, however, rejected speculations on Swati Maliwal being rewarded with a Rajya Sabha seat.Even though chances are less, all the three leaders are doing their best to garner support fore themselves.In case of Vishwas, his relationship with Kejriwal deteriorated after he called him an autocrat. “I am a human being. I also have ambitions. My supporters also feel that I should go the the Rajya Sabha where I will be an articulate voice against the BJP and the Congress. I founded the Aam Aadmi Party with Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia. Yet I have never even had the tea of Delhi Secretariat,” he had said.For Sanjay Singh, Kejriwal has stood by him through eups and downs. He maintains a healthy relationship with both Congress and BJP leaders. During the President’s Rule in Delhi in 2014, Sanjay Singh played a crucial role in bringing back the party from the verge of collapse. In Punjab Assembly polls this year, Sanjay Singh was made the state-in-charge but with the loss of Punjab, chances of him getting the seat is almost impossible.When it comes to journalist-turned-politician Ashutosh, who was behind making Kejriwal a national leader from an RTI activist , chances are low too. Ashutosh joined when AAP went to fight the Parliamentary polls in 2014 against two veterans — Congress Kapil Sibal and BJP Harsh Vardhan.Earlier, the party approached former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan to be its candidate, but he is believed to have declined the offer.The AAP has 66 members in the 70-member Delhi Assembly and its victory on all three seats looks certain.

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A Raja, Kanimozhi receive grand welcome at home

Two days after the CBI special court in New Delhi acquitted all accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case, a grand reception was given to DMK leaders – former Telecom Minister A Raja and to Rajya Sabha MP and youngest child of party chief M Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi, when they arrived at the airport on Saturday.DMK working president MK Stalin, along with senior party leaders received Raja and Kanimozhi, presenting shawls at the airport where the passengers faced a hard time with a large number of party cadres gathered to greet their leaders, affecting the movement of vehicles. The highlight of the grand reception was the hug initiated by Kanimozhi and reciprocated by Stalin. Stalin then hugged Raja too.Wading through the crowd, Kanimozhi and Raja assembled at a designated place and received shawls presented by the party cadre. Folk artists of varied disciplines performed at the airport as part of the welcome party.From the airport, Raja and Kanimozhi left to Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram residence where they were given another round of reception by the cadres. When Kanimozhi met her father Karunanidhi, who is recovering from a prolonged illness, he pinched her cheeks and planted a kiss. Raja, who fell at the DMK patriarch’s feet and presented him a shawl, told the leader that they were all acquitted.”My father was very happy to see me and welcome me after the verdict,” Kanimozhi told reporters after her homecoming. When asked about her political plans, she said that she was very happy with the present role as women wing’s head. “Now I need not go to court and sit for the hearing. I have more time to work for the party’s growth,” she said, amid the rumours of her being given a prime role in the party.Raja said that he had a very emotional meeting with party chief Karunanidhi. “He was very happy to hear when I told him that all were acquitted in the 2G case,” he said.In the DMK patriarch’s family, Stalin has succeeded in side-lining and expelling his elder brother Alagiri, who was controlling the southern districts when Karunanidhi was active. Kanimozhi maintained a low profile with the 2G case but her acquittal would change equations within the party and its first family.

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Motor Vehicles Bill panel recommends in-built toilets in buses

A select committee on the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, 2017, has recommended every traffic police or RTO official to have body wearable cameras to record offences which should be monitored in the control room, to tackle corruption on the part of the enforcement officials.The 24-member committee, to which the Motor Vehicles Bill was referred to for examination, presented its report on Friday in Rajya Sabha. It is headed by BJP leader Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.The committee has also recommended protection to pedestrians, cyclists and bus users. It states that enforcement agencies of the States should scrupulously implement the law to protect the pedestrians, cyclists and the bus users.It states that the government should “think, while making subordinate legislations, to implement the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, to create a consultative mechanism involving the major stakeholders.” It further recommended that the long distance buses should have inbuilt toilets, stating that that while formulating the rules the governments should make appropriate provisions to incentivise the contract carriages so that they become part of the public transport system.

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Declare cyclone Ockhi a national calamity, probe mismanagement: MPs in Lok Sabha

The Congress on Friday said the Centre deployed only three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in Tamil Nadu and Kerala while seven teams were posted in Gujarat where there was no loss due to Cyclone Ockhi. Participating in the discussion on the disaster in the Lok Sabha, Congress members in the Lok Sabha demanded that the devastation caused by Ockhi should be declared a national calamity.Congress and Left members, especially from Kerala which bore the brunt, sought a probe into the alleged mismanagement, lack of coordination and other aspects of the disaster while also narrating the ordeal of death and destruction they had witnessed when the cyclone had hit the state.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his response said the Centre sent early warning to the state governments and that 18 ships of Indian Navy and Coast Guard are still looking for 275 people who are still missing at sea. Also readCyclone Ockhi: Centre to provide Rs 325 crore financial assistance to affected areas after PM Modi visit “Initial figure of missing persons was 433, now after return of some the number of missing remains 275. Even today, which is the 22nd day, 18 ships of Navy and Coast Guard are conducting search operations, Singh told the Lok Sabha. He also announced that the Centre is piloting some low-frequency transponders for fishermen who go into the deep sea.Also readCyclone Ockhi: 39 dead in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, 167 fishermen missingInitiating a discussion on natural calamities in various parts of the country, especially due to cyclone Ockhi in South India, Congress leader K C Venugopal sought putting in place a “functional” monitoring system and efforts to bring back hundreds of people who are still missing after cyclone Ockhi.The cyclone, which had hit coastal states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu on November 30, claimed several lives and caused widespread damage. A large number of fishermen are still missing.Also readCyclone Ockhi: Kerala govt says received IMD weather alert on Nov 30, Alphons says it came two days earlierHe sought to know the steps taken by the Centre so far and wondered whether it was “insensitive” on the issue. “Why is there a delay sending a central team” to Kerala, he asked.Venugopal, who represents Alappuzha constituency in Kerala, also urged the government to come out with a timely and comprehensive relief package for Kerala, where more than 75 people have been killed and hundreds of fishermen are missing in the wake of Ockhi.Stressing the need for strong coordination to bringing them back, he said there have been lapses on part of the authorities with regard to dealing with Ockhi and its aftermath. “We cannot accuse anybody for natural calamities but we could have taken precautions if we had early warnings,” he said, claiming that some officers have committed mistakes.Highlighting the plight of fishermen, he called for a “well functioning monitoring system” and emphasised the need for having a “specific alarm system” saying the people were alerted late about the cyclone.”This tragedy is an eye opener… it is time to think about the lives of fishermen,” he said, adding there has also been impact on the economy as they go into deep sea for many days together and at times are not even assured of income.Shashi Tharoor of the Congress, who represents Thiruvananthapuram constituency which was the most affected by the cyclone, said there was no early warning signal available to the state government, even when the radars to provide advance warnings were located in Kerala (Thumba) itself.He demanded immediate investigation into the lapses for gaps leading to loss of lives and properties.Since this is a “horrendous human tragedy”, Tharoor said the government should be sensitive in compensating states hit by this. Kerala Government has submitted Rs 7,348 crore compensation demand while Tamil Nadu about Rs 9,000 crore.”It is not compensation, we need some structural steps to be taken to mitigate loss” due to national calamity of such a magnitude, he said.P R Sundaram (AIADMK) asked the Centre to declare Ockhi a natural disaster, a demand shared by several members in the House. He also sought a naval base in Kanyakumari to help people more effectively in future cases of natural calamities.Nominated member Richard Hay claimed that the tragic aftermath of Ockhi could have been averted if the Kerala government had taken measured to warn fishermen in advance.When he claimed that the Centre had provided advance warning and relief later, CPI(M) members protested saying he was not aware of the ground realities.Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar intervened to defend Hay, saying there was a feeling that India Meteorological Department had provided adequate advance to the state but fishermen were not warned.B Mahtab (BJD) said natural calamities were affecting his home state of Odisha frequently and asked the Centre to step up its assistance measures. He also demanded that pest attack on crops be declared a calamity.Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) said the government should focus on preventive measures and expressed concern over the impact of climate change.P Karunakaran (CPI-M) said the Centre should give Kerala a package of Rs 7348 crore and declare cyclone Ockhi a national calamity, a demand supported by N K Premchandramn (RSP) and Jose K Mani (KCP).Asking government to immediately decide on compensation, Saugata Roy (TMC) said there should be no delay. Government should also provide data on the fisherman killed and missing due to the calamity, he demanded.A P Jithender Reddy (TRS) raised the issue of vacancy of the top post in National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and said the post of the chairman has been lying vacant for 3 years and asked the government to fill it up urgently.R M Naidu (TDP) demanded sufficient compensation to be provided without delay, saying if support does not come at right time, it is like justice delayed justice denied. Claim settlement process should be simplified , he added.Md Faizal (NCP) also demanded shelters to be established for the affected people.(With PTI inputs)

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Bill on triple talaq likely to be tabled in Lok Sabha today

A bill which seeks to criminalise instant triple talaq is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The bill has been listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha amid protest by Congress against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘conspiracy with Pakistan’ remarks. Congress protested in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, over PM Modi’s insinuations against Manmohan Singh of colluding with Pakistan, and staged a walkout after they were not given permission to speak.Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had, on December 15, said that the Cabinet approved a proposal to introduce the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, to make instant triple talaq void and illegal.’Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, prepared by an inter-ministerial group makes giving instant triple talaq “illegal and void”. It also provides for a jail term of three years for the husband in such cases, according to reports. It also makes a provision for alimony for the woman on whom instant triple talaq has been pronounced and grants her the custody of her children, say reports.Also readMuslim bodies not consulted on triple talaq bill: Govt tells Parliament The Supreme Court, in August, by a majority of 3:2, had ruled that the practice of divorce through triple talaq among Muslims is “void”, “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.Once the law is made to make triple talaq an offence, the victims will have the option of approaching the police and the legal system for the redressal of their grievances and for action to be taken against the husband.Also readNCW chief welcomes cabinet’s approval of triple talaq bill(With inputs from ANI)

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Sachin Tendulkar’s debut Rajya Sabha speech is silenced

Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha ended without him uttering a single word on Thursday as the legendary batsman, once feared by bowlers across the world, kept standing, probably thinking how to deflect and tackle the uproar in the House.The legendary batsman was called by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to initiate a short duration discussion on the right to play and the future of sports in India.As soon as Sachin rose to speak, the first time during his five-and-a-half-year tenure, Congress members stood up demanding an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his insinuating remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh during an election rally in Gujarat.Naidu came to his help, first cajoling and persuading the members and then scolding them for their unruly behaviour.”The hon. member who has been awarded Bharat Ratna by the government, wants to make a submission on sports which is a very important activity for the country. Please follow the rules and let him speak,” Naidu said, beseeching members’ attention and assuring that he has agreed to sort out the issue by calling the leader of the house Arun Jaitley and leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad for a discussion.When the ruckus did not stop, Naidu warned, “Do not trivialise things. Don’t create trouble in the House, and don’t earn bad name… Names of people who are raising slogans would be published tomorrow.”Despite being egged on by Naidu and helped by Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Sachin, cracker of many tons amid hostile conditions and roaring crowds, kept standing bemused with a smile on his face.Failing to rein in Congress benches, Naidu finally drew curtains on the proceedings. Sachin was immediately surrounded by his fans who included Derek O’Brien and Jaya Bachchan, among others.Furious for not letting Sachin speak, Jaya later said, “He has earned name for India at the world stage, it is a matter of shame that he was not allowed to speak even when everyone knew it was on today’s agenda. Are only politicians allowed to speak?”O’Brien was upset for being denied an opportunity to bat, with Sachin being the opener.”I was padded up to bat at No. 5 in Rajya Sabha and speak on sports after Sachin was to open the innings. But the match was called off because of bad weather,” the quizzer said wittingly.Congress members, however, were unrelenting. “Why are you making a mockery of Parliament? Are false allegations on 2G and Manmohan Singh are more important or Sachin Tendulkar who never spoke in Parliament for the last five years? Does ‘Bharat Ratna’ give you the licence to speak in Parliament? All are equal in the House,” said Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury.

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Rajya Sabha adjourned after repeated disruptions by Congress MPs

The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday.The Bill seeks to revise the salaries of judges as follows: (a) Chief Justice of India – from Rs 1,00,000/pm to Rs 2,80,000/pm; (b) Judge of Supreme Court – from Rs 90,000/pm to Rs 2,50,000/pm; (c) Chief Justice of High Court – from Rs 90,000/pm to Rs 2,50,000/pm; and (d) Judges of High Court – from Rs 80,000/pm to Rs 2,25,000/pm. The revision is effective from January 1, 2016.Lok Sabha also took up discussion on the Supplementary Demand for Grants. The demands for grants include a gross additional expenditure of Rs. 66113 crores. During the discussion, members highlighted several concerns about the overall economy.Also readAfter Naidu’s intervention, Rajya Sabha stalemate over PM’s remarks against Manmohan likely to endMembers raised questions about the impact of GST, challenges in its implementation, impact of demonetisation on employment in the organised and unorganised sectors, falling growth rate, among other issues.With the government’s introduction of the supplementary demands and increased expenditure, members asked if the government will be able to meet its fiscal deficit target.Also readCongress disrupts Rajya Sabha over PM Modi’s remarkThe Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, had to be adjourned, owing to repeated disruptions by the opposition over a demand for the Prime Minister, to come to the House, to give a clarification on his remark that his predecessor, Dr. Manmohan Singh, was conspiring with Pakistan to ensure the Bharatiya Janata Party’s defeat in the recently held elections in Gujarat.Dr. Singh has rejected the charge as “innuendos and falsehoods”, and added he was deeply pained by the prime minister’s “ill thought transgression”.Addressing an election rally in Palanpur, Gujarat, earlier this month, Modi suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the assembly polls in the state. He claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house over dinner on December 6. This was a day before Aiyar’s “neech” jibe against Modi.

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LK Advani ‘unhappy’ over Lok Sabha disruptions

BJP veteran L K Advani on Thursday seemed unhappy at the din created in the Lok Sabha due to protests by Congress members seeking an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks against former premier Manmohan Singh during Gujarat election campaign.Advani was seen pointing towards Congress members, protesting in the Well during the Question Hour, while talking to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar.Kumar was also seen pointing at the Congress members while talking to Advani.During the 2016 Winter Session, Advani had expressed his dissatisfaction with the way Parliament was being disrupted, saying neither the Lok Sabha Speaker, nor the Parliamentary Affairs Minister was running the House.

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Stumped! Amid uproar, Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar fails to make debut speech in Parliament

Politics is a tough game and even ‘God of cricket’ needs time to master it. Bharat Ratna and sports legend Sachin Tendulkar learned it hard way when he failed to make his debut speech in the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament on Thursday.The 44-year-old lawmaker was supposed to initiate a short discussion on the welfare of sportspersons in the country.As soon as he got up to address the House, the Congress leaders started protesting against the government and demanded apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Pakistan remark against ex-PM Manmohan Singh.The ruckus continued with the ‘Master Blaster’ silently standing for 10-minutes and watching the din.Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu requested the Congress to let Tendulkar speak but it didn’t help the legend to deliver his maiden Parliament speech.Despite Naidu pleading with Congress MP to allow Tendulkar to complete his submission, Congress MP continued raising slogans in the Well of House, forcing an adjournment.”We condemn such behaviour. We don’t understand why they are behaving like this. They seem to have lost direction and plot,” he said.”We’re discussing about sports and you don’t have the sporting spirit,” Naidu said and ordered the live telecast of the Session be cut off.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Congress was confused and has lost plot. He said while the main Opposition party is participating in discussion in the Lok Sabha on supplementary demands of grants, it didn’t allow a maiden speech of Bharat Ratna Tendulkar, who is a source of pride for whole nation.Tendulkar was speaking on a non-political and non controversial issue, said the minister.’He has earned name for India at the world stage, it is a matter of shame that he was not allowed to speak even when everyone knew it was on today’s agenda. Are only politicians allowed to speak,’ visibly angry Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan said.

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Govt to achieve target of 100 GW of solar power by 2022, says RK Singh

The government is confident of achieving the target of 100 Giga Watt (GW) of solar power capacity by 2022, Power Minister R K Singh said on Thursday.As against the target of installing 100 GW of solar power capacity as on December 15, a capacity of 16,676 MW has been installed with another 6,500 MW capacity under installation, he said in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.The trajectory of bidding of the rest of solar power capacity has been finalised as 20,000 MW in 2017-18, 30,000 MW in 2018-19 and 30,000 MW in 2019-20.”The government is confident of achieving the target of 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022,” Singh said.Since the country does not have enough manufacturing capacity at present for solar cells and modules to meet the full demand, “both imported and indigenous solar sells and modules are being utilised for achieving the targets,” he said.

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Although drunk driving-related deaths have reduced, two people die every hour, LS told

In India, two people die every hour in road accidents for driving under the influence of alcohol, the Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday.The good news, however, is that the number of alcohol-related deaths on roads has reduced sinec 2014. In 2014, the number of deaths was recorded at 18,196 due to driving under the influence of alcohol, which is still a fraction of the total road accidents that year, which was recorded at 4.89 lakh.In 2015, the numbers came down by 2,000, while in 2016, the numbers were recorded at 14,894.In November this year, the Delhi Traffic Police have launched a special drive to curb drunken truck driving in the city. Special check points have been set up at city borders between 11 pm and 1 am, and drivers are being stopped for breathalyser tests. If the drivers fail the test, their trucks will be impounded.The step comes after an analysis conducted by cops revealed that 54 per cent of accidents involving Heavy Traffic Vehicles (HTV) this year took place between 11 pm to 2 am.Several teams have been constituted under the supervision of traffic inspectors to conduct random checking of heavy vehicles at borders. In fact, as many as 22 drivers were prosecuted on the first night, according to a statement by the Traffic police department.As per cops, action has been taken against 26,491 drunk drivers, including 197 HTV and 949 LGV, till November 15 this year. The heavy goods vehicles were found involved in 136 cases of fatal accidents till November 15, compared to 148 last year .”Analysis indicates that 54 per cent accidents involving HTY took place at night between 11 pm and 2 am. As many as 35 per cent of the hit-and-run cases also took place between 10 pm and 4 am.”Regular checking of these vehicles is expected to effectively reduce the number of accidents. Similar action will also be taken against dangerous driving in near future,” the statement added.

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Stalwarts tune in to ‘ZEE UP-UK’ in Lucknow

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, high-profile political leader and MP Amar Singh joined Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra at the launch ceremony of ZEE Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, in Lucknow on Wednesday.With this, ZEE Media added a new regional channel to its bouquet and became the largest private player in the country.Besides the two chief ministers, several Cabinet ministers from UP and Uttarakhand, MPs, MLAs, top bureaucrats and prominent members of the society were present at the Crystal Hall of Taj Vivanta to witness the launch of this top-notch ZEE regional channel.Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra said that the new channel will focus on “aap ki baat” (what affects and impacts the common people) in the new regional channel. It will make an attempt to connect the people with the government for quick redressal of their grievances.Speaking on the occasion, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took a dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi saying that the recent elections managed to turn Rahul Gandhi a thread-wearing Hindu visiting one temple after the other. “Gujarat victory will give a new direction to the country. People have accepted BJP’s development plank and rejected the dynastic rule,” he added.On this auspicious launch, Subhash Chandra played the role of a simple ‘anchor’ asking tough questions to the UP Chief Minister. He began by asking what would be the Yogi government’s expectations from ZEE UP & UK. “My biggest expectation from the ZEE regional channel would be that it plays a positive role in the development of the state and gives space to successful stories to make a positive impact on society,” the CM said.Chandra assured thechief minister that Zee UP-UK will exactly play that role for the development and growth of the two states.On the Yogi government’s attempt to woo investors in UP and holding an investors’ meet, Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra expressed concerns about the law and order situation in the state. “My government has accorded top priority to control crime and improve the law and order situation. Over 25 criminals have been shot dead in police encounters and over 1,400 sent behind bars. We are bringing in new Act UPCOCA to check organssed crime effectively. We have already taken several steps to provide security cover to investors and introduced a new industrial policy and single-window system to create an investor-friendly environment in the state,” said the CM.Replying to Chandra’s question on widespread corruption at all levels, particularly in government schemes, Yogi Adityanath said that his government has introduced an e-office system to hold ministers and bureaucrats babus accountable. “Files would be cleared by ministers and bureaucrats within three days, or else they will held accountable for delay. This system would be implemented at all levels to weed out corruption, from top to bottom,” the CM assured.Chandra also sought to know the Yogi government’s plan to promote tourism. He pointed out that in a country like Thailand, tourism contributes 30 per cent in its per capita income, and if UP promotes tourism, it may surpass even the national average. “With the help of the Central government, the state government is promoting eco, spiritual and religious tourism. UP will top in the country in the coming days in attracting foreign tourists in the state,” assured Adityanath.On the occasion, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also thanked Subhash Chandra for launching a new regional channel in the Hill State.

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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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Parliament functions finally, but threat of Opposition disruption hangs

Opposition parties, which disrupted Parliament for two days, seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s apology for remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh, finally allowed government business on Tuesday, after back-to-back hectic parleys. But the sword of disruptions still hangs.Opposition leaders have decided not to disrupt Parliament till Friday, after Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu intervened on Tuesday, asking treasury and Opposition benches to sort out the issue outside the House.Among various proposals under consideration is also an idea that Modi and Singh could meet in the House to break the logjam. There are eight more sittings after Friday, from December 27 to 29 and from January 1 to 5, that may be hit if Opposition leaders resume protest next week.After Naidu’s directions, there was a series of meetings between Opposition leaders and members from the treasury benches.Earlier, Azad raised the issue of PM Modi’s insinuation against Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, a retired Army Chief and a former Foreign Secretary, during electioneering in Gujarat.On his concern that Singh’s “loyalty to the country has been questioned” and it was also a case of breach of (his) privilege since he is a member of the House, Naidu intervened to state “he is the most respected person” and he had already met him to express his concern.Naidu said he has read a note on what exactly was said by Modi, and that he has also read how Modi was abused during the electioneering. He said that it was better to keep in mind that the PM and the ex-PM both deserve respect.He also pulled up Congress members and made them return to their seats without another protest in the Well, saying Azad has aired his grievances and it has gone on record. He also pulled up BJP MPs led by party general secretary Bhupender Yadav, raising their voice, sternly telling them not to disturb when he was trying to search for a solution to allow the House to function.In the meetings outside the House, Opposition leaders made it clear to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that the blockade would be resumed unless Modi regrets, clarifies and withdraws his insinuation.They however relented to an extent. “We understand the stature of the PM office. We will not insist on his apology. But he must clarify and regret,” said a top Opposition leader.Jaitley was conveyed the stand that in case no solution is found, the Opposition, which holds majority in the Rajya Sabha will be forced to protest. The Finance Minister, who is also Leader of the House, sought time to enable him to speak to Modi and get back to them.Temporary truceThe FM was told that if no solution is found, the Oppn, which holds majority in the RS, will be forced to protest Jaitley sought time to enable him to speak to Modi and get back to them

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318 killed in Kashmir in 2017: govt in Parliament

There have been 318 killings in Jammu and Kashmir this year as frequent encounters took place to deal with the increasing cycle of violence.Security forces got success in killing 203 terrorists — the highest in the last four years. The number of civilians killed in terror-related violence in the same period was also the highest, the government informed Parliament on Tuesday.Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha that 203 terrorists were killed in the state this year till December 10, as compared to 150 in calendar year 2016, 108 in 2015, and 110 in 2014.Talking about the number of civilians killed, Ahir said that 37 of them were killed till December 10 this year, 15 were killed in calendar year 2016, 17 in 2015, and 28 in 2014.Terror-related incidents also peaked at 335 as compared to 322 in 2016, 208 in 2015, and 222 in 2014.Replying to a question on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Ahir said necessary directions were issued from time to time after reviewing the security situation of the state.According to the data provided by the minister, 75 security personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir till December 10 this year, 82 were killed in 2016, 39 in 2015, and 47 in 2014.”In order to prevent the activities of terrorists, numerous steps have been taken, including strengthening of the operational grid with an enhanced human intelligence and use of technical intelligence grid,” he added.Replying to another question, Ahir said the trend of violence in the states affected by Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) declined since 2014.”In the current year (till November 30), LWE violence has decreased by 17.4 per cent, from 984 (incidents) to 813, as compared to the corresponding period in 2016,” he said.Replying to another question about the situation in the north-east, Ahir said the overall security situation in the region had registered a substantial improvement in 2016, in terms of reduction in the numbers of violent incidents and security forces’ casualties.”In 2017, there has been a further improvement in the security situation in the region as the number of insurgency incidents has come down to 276 in the first 11 months of the year,” he said.

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Have achieved righful target of food subsidy with Aadhaar, says govt

The government on Tuesday said it has been able to achieve better targeting of Rs 17,500 crore worth food subsidy annually as bogus ration cards have been deleted and new cards issued to eligible beneficiaries under food law.In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs C R Chaudhary said the purpose of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication of beneficiaries is to correctly identify the eligible beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).He said states and Union Territories have deleted about 2.75 crore ration cards during 2013-2017.This has been done with the help of Aadhaar-based de- duplication of ration cards/beneficiaries and measures like digitisation of records, detection of in-eligible households/ beneficiaries under NFSA, transfer/migration/change in the economic status of households and deaths.De-duplication technique is used to eliminate duplicate set of data.”Against deleted ration cards, the State/UT governments have issued new ration cards to the eligible beneficiaries/ households under NFSA. Due to this, government is able to achieve an estimated ‘Rightful Targeting of Food Subsidy’ of about Rs 17,500 crore per annum,” Chaudhary said.The minister said that under the food law, ceiling limit of beneficiaries for each State/UT has been fixed. Inclusion/ exclusion criteria of beneficiaries is decided and notified by State/UT concerned.Under the food law, the government provides 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month at a highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kg. More than 80 crore people are covered under this law, costing exchequer about Rs 1,40,000 crore per year.

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India reduces visas to Pakistani nationals by nearly 20,000

India has drastically reduced visas to Pakistani nationals and has given travel documents to 34,445 people from that country so far this year, the Lok Sabha was informed today.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said 34,445 Pakistani citizens have been given visas under various categories so far this year in comparison to the 52,525 visas given in 2016.As many as 12.89 lakh visas have been given to Bangladeshi nationals so far this year in comparison to 9.33 lakh visas issued in 2016, he said in his reply to a written question.Indo-Pak relations have nosedived after Pakistan- backed terrorists attacked a brigade headquarters in Uri, Indian Air Force Station in Pathankot and the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani by the security forces.Pakistan tried to highlight Wani’s killing internationally.

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Lok Sabha passes two bills to repeal 245 archaic laws

The Lok Sabha today passed two Bills to repeal 245 obsolete and archaic laws, including the 158-year-old Calcutta Pilots Act of 1859 and the 1911 Prevention of Seditious Meeting Act.Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the old and many irrelevant pre-independence laws were the “unfortunate part of the colonial legacy” and repealing them was a progressive move that reflects the “pro-reform” approach of the government.He was replying to a debate on the Repealing and Amending Bill and the Repealing and Amending (Second) Bill which would repeal these age-old laws.Some of the old acts that have been repealed are the Hackney Carriage Act 1879 which was legislated for the regulation and control of hackney-carriages, Dramatic Performance Act 1876 when theatre was being used a medium of protest against the British rule.Another such old act which was repealed by the Lok Sabha was ‘The Ganges Tolls Act, 1867’ which provided for collecting toll “not exceeding 12 annas” on certain boats and steamers plying on the Ganga to improve navigation of the river between Allahabad (UP) and Dinapore (Bihar).Prasad said 1029 old laws were first repealed by Parliament in 1950 and the last time such old laws were abolished during the Atal Behari Vajpayee government that repealed old laws in 2004.After the Modi government came to power a two-member panel was set up to look into the repealing of archaic laws and the panel also consulted the Centre and the state government before recommending the legislations to be repealed.Some 1824 acts were repealed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over the reins of the government, the law minister said.When Prasad spoke on abolishing the Prevention of Seditious Meeting Act, 1911, he was needled by BJD MP Tathagata Satpathy who alluded to the use of the sedition provision in the Indian Penal Code against opposition activists by the BJP governments in certain states.To this, the Law Minister said that all senior ministers in the BJP government including the prime minister had vehemently opposed Emergency in 1975 and his government was in favour of the freedom of the press.Patidar leader Hadrik Patel and JNU student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar too were booked for sedition.BJD MP Pinaki Misra lauded the government and said 1301 “obsolete” laws were repealed in last 65 years, but after the Modi government took over 1824 legislations were repealed but the pace has to be accelerated.BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said abolishing of old laws was “swachchata abhiyan” by the House, drawing a parallel to the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, the flagship programme of the Modi dispensation.Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut demanded repealing of Article 370, while Narendra Sawaikar, BJP MP from Goa, said his state was the only one to practise the Uniform Civil Code

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Election controversy clouds Winter Session of Parliament : BJP and Congress to spar over Pakistan dinner controversy

Senior Congress leaders on Tuesday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise for the insinuation he made involving former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when the latter attended a dinner party organized by veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar that was also attended Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha, said that the Congress wants Prime Minister to express regret and clarify the statement in the Parliament. “Prime Minister should undo what he has done. He should take back his words,” said Anand Sharma.The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad, along with Sharma met Finance Minister Arun Jately and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar to discuss the matter. Highly placed sources in the government said that Prime Minister Modi is neither going to reply on this issue, although there is a small possibility that Finance Minister Arun Jately may respond on this issue on the floor of the house. BJP is also expected to be aggressive on the issue and may recall previous incidents of Narendra Modi being attacked by Congress leaders.Sources in the Congress said that proposition has been suggested to the Centre they are waiting for the government’s response. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be in Lok Sabha on Wednesday and Rajya Sabha on Thursday. PM Modi had insinuated that Pakistan was trying to influence the assembly elections in Pakistan.The dinner organized by former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyyar was also attended by former Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Army Chief and many retired bureaucrats from the Indian side.

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

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

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40,000 Rohingya living illegally in India, Kiren Rijiju tells Lok Sabha

Around 40,000 Rohingya migrants were illegally living in India and none of them had been deported so far, Union minister Kiren Rijiju informed Parliament on Tuesday.In a written reply to a question, the Union minister of state for home affairs informed the Lok Sabha that the entry of illegal migrants was clandestine and surreptitious and thus, an accurate figure of how many of them were currently living in the country was not available.As per an estimate, the number of Rohingya migrants could be around 40,000, he said, adding that none of them had been deported so far.Rijiju said though India was not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol thereon, the country’s track record in dealing with or providing protection to refugees had internationally been acclaimed.He added that there was no legislation to deal with refugees and asylum-seekers in India.

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Govt tables bill in Lok Sabha to let NRIs vote in Indian polls

The Central government on Monday tabled a bill in the Lok Sabha to ensure that more than 10 million Indian passport holders who are overseas get to exercise their right to vote in future through proxy. The draft law also seeks to make the election law gender neutral by replacing the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ to benefit service voters.According to the provisions of ‘Representation of the People Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ introduced by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, overseas Indians, who are entitled to vote in India, can now appoint a proxy voter to cast their votes. The Narendra Modi-government had submitted before the Supreme Court that the Cabinet would consider a draft bill seeking to allow e-voting by NRIs, armed forces personnel, and security forces working outside their constituency.As of now, overseas Indians with Indian passports are able to vote only if they are physically present in the constituency. However, in the 2014 elections, only 11,846 voters registered, Election Commission statistics reveal. This may allow the ruling BJP to translate the euphoria of events such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Madison Square event in New York and elsewhere into votes in the next general election.An expert committee of the Election Commission working on the issue had in 2015 forwarded the legal framework to the Law Ministry to amend the electoral laws to allow overseas Indians use proxy voting. The bill said the necessary provision of coming to India to cast ballot caused ‘hardship’ to overseas electors.Another provision in the amendment bill relates to spouses of service voters. As of now, an armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not, according to the provisions in the electoral law. The draft bill proposes to replace the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’, thus making the provision gender neutral.Members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, personnel of state police forces posted outside their state and employees of the Centre posted outside India are eligible to be enrolled as service voters. According to Election Commission for 2014 electoral rolls, , 11, 846 oversses electors had registered. Out of the total 11,846 registered overseas electors, 11 ,448 (96.64%) are registered in the State of Kerala and the rest 398 (3.36%) are registered in the States of Punjab (138), Tamil Nadu (112) Puducherry (56), Goa (27), Delhi (13), Haryana (12), Daman & Diu (9), Gujarat (7), Chandigarh & Madhya Pradesh 6 (6 each), West Bengal (4), Chhattisgarh & Himachal Pradesh (2 each), and Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar PradeshThe Opposition Congress had submitted to the EC that the privileges not being given to Indian voters must not be extended to NRI voters either. In the petition, the party favoured sending ballot papers by electronic mail or the acceptance of self-attested ballot papers as valid votes. The party has emphasized that internet voting is prone to misuse and rigging and therefore cannot be a viable voting mechanism.Other bills introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday included getting permission to transport bamboo, The National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The government has proposed to do away with the practice of nominating practising dentists who do not have required qualifications to the Dental Council of India.(ends)OTHER PROVISIONThe draft law introduced in the Lok Sabha also seeks to make the election law gender neutral by replacing the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ to benefit service voters.NRI population abroad 10037761 Countries with large NRI populationsAustralia213710Bahrain350000Canada200000Germany42500Italy97719Kuwait579058Malaysia150000Nepal112500Oman718000Qatar500000Saudi Arabia1789000Singapore350000Thailand90000UAE1750000UK1500000USA927283Out of 214 countries, 101 countries have provision of external voting.Few Countries where external voting is allowed Voting methodUnited States of AmericaVaries by state. External voting managed on state levelUnited KingdomMixed (postal, proxy)TurkeyPersonalSouth AfricaPersonalNew ZealandPersonal, postal, faxMalaysiaPostalIsraelPersonalItalypostalGermanyPostalEstoniaE-voting, personal, postal

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Akhilesh asks Rahul to build opposition unity ahead of 2019 polls

As the Congress lost to the BJP in Gujarat Assembly elections despite improving its seat tally, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav today asked AICC President Rahul Gandhi to take along all opposition parties in 2019 Lok Sabha polls to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said that it was now the responsibility of the Congress party to take along all opposition parties if it wants to defeat the BJP in 2019.The Samajwadi Party had contested five seats in Gujarat and failed to win any of them. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: It is a face-saving win but moral defeat for BJP in Gujarat, says Mamata BanerjeeAs per the latets trends provided by the Election Commission, the BJP has already bagged 85 seats while it is leading on 14 others. Congress has won in 71 Assembly constituencies while its candidates are leading on 6 other seats. In last Assembly elections, the BJP’s tally was 115 seats while the Congress had sent 61 MLAs to the 182-member house. Yadav said that the BJP has lost some ground to the Congress in Gujarat and results would have been in favour of the Rahul-led party had it roped in support of all opposition parties.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Results won’t have any bearing on Karnataka polls, says SiddaramaiahHe alleged that the BJP won as it was successful in distracting attention of the people from the real issues. “Country cannot progress when poor and farmers face plethora of problems and youth unemployment is not addressed. But instead of contesting on real issues, the BJP resorted to aggressive Hindutava to divide the people and distract their attention,” he said.He asked Rahul to start thinking of making a grand alliance of all like-minded opposition parties, including regional ones, to take on the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.Also readGujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Saffron sweep for BJP, Shah-Modi hail vote for development“A combine anti-BJP opposition alliance will usher a new era in country’s politics,” he said. The Samajwadi Party and Congress had struck an alliance in 2017 UP Assembly polls but they did not fare well. Both had fought polls separately in Gujarat.

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

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

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Assembly elections 2017: Will Himachal Pradesh results throw up a surprise?

While exit polls have already given a sweeping victory to BJP in Himachal Pradesh, locals are keeping their fingers crossed in the hilly state, which has in last 24 years never re-elected an incumbent government.BJP, which made an impressive comeback in adjoining hill state of Uttarakhand early this year replacing the Harish Rawat-led Congress government, is confident to romp home in Himachal as well where Congress’ Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has been battling age and corruption charges.Singh, called Raja by locals is a popular face and it was his popularity, which apparently forced BJP to declare Prem Singh Dhumal its CM face towards the end of the election even as it has earlier decided not to project any face and had in fact given more prominence to Union Minister J P Nadda.While exit polls suggest, Dhumal forming the next government in the state with huge margin, for the locals the outcome will be more based on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Many feel that it could be close contest this time and Virbhadra Singh may not just sink into oblivion with as poor results as being predicted by the exit polls.While Congress is striving hard for ‘Mission Repeat’ in the hill state this time, BJP is confident that the swing state will live up to its tradition of not returning the ruling party to power. It has also taken steps to check dissension. It’s confidence is also due to the fact that it had won all the four Lok Sabha seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.Supporters of Singh say that exit polls had also predicted win for BJP in the last assembly elections in 2012, where Congress won 36 seats in comparison to BJP’s 26.Ask anyone to give two reasons to ousts Singh’s govt and the answers would come on predictable lines… One, no govt has ever been repeated since eighties.Two, the corruption case against sitting chief minister where he could be arrested soon.The Congress government had not rubbed the government employees the wrong way in Singh’s five-year-tenure, which could be the reasons its supporters feel that the employees will back it.Singh led Himachal campaign single-handedly despite falling health and that has also struck a chord with voters to bring him back for one last time before he calls it quits, his supporters argue.They argue that there is no such sympathy wave for Dhumal on the other side who is fighting a tough battle to win own seat Sujanpur, where the former Chief Minister is locked into a tough battle against Rajinder Rana, who has nurtured it for many years. Rana, a protege turned rival of Dhumal had contested the 2012 election as an Independent and defeated his nearest Congress rival Anita Verma by 14,155 votes.It’s an open secret in the state unit that Dhumal, who contested the last assembly polls from Hamirpur assembly segment, was not willing to contest from Sujanpur.BJP had projected Dhumal as its CM face, hoping it could give a boost to the party’s campaign in all five assembly segments in Hamirpur.An old slogan, which does rounds in Himachal is that whosoever wins Kangra valley forms a government in Himachal.Congress had 10 seats from this region while BJP had just three in the last assembly. This time around, the Congress has strong presence in this region and it could be a neck to neck results. BJP state Mahila Morcha chief Indu Goswami, who has openly faced backlash from party workers, is pitted against politically-established Butail family’s son, Ashish Butail.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Will Congress’s Patidar gambit yield electoral results in Guj?

When Congress announced its intent to provide quota to Patidar community in poll-bound Gujarat this month, many wondered whether the party was back to committing the same mistake that it had committed in Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in past polls.If what all exit polls suggested about BJP’s win in Gujarat, it is clear that Congress quota gambit has once again not paid rich dividends.Like its past promises to provide reservation to Marathas in Maharastra and Jaat in Haryana failed to yield much electoral gains to it in 2014 Lok Sabha poll, even the quota promise to Patidars seem to have led to a kind of counter polarisation among the reserved classes.Releasing party manifesto in Ahmedabad on December 4, Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, announced reservation in jobs and education to Patidars under a special category. It said that a special bill will be brought to provide quotas to those who are not presently entitled by quota and the quota given to OBCs, STs, SCs will not be touched. Congress said that Patidars will get quota under special category.Congress said that if it won the Gujarat elections, it would pass a proposal for reservations under Articles 31-C and 46 of the Constitution.”We will consult all stakeholders on reservation to Patidars and a commission will be constituted for this purpose,” Solanki said adding that a bill will be introduced in the assembly.Hardik Patel accepted the formula, elating Congress leaders. Votes of Patidars could have influenced results in more than 60 of 182 Assembly constituencies. If the exit polls are correct, then this did not happen. Possibly it also led to a kind of polarisation for BJP among OBCs. It should not be forgotten that though Hardik and Alpesh Thakor, both backed Congress, Alpesh has risen in stature, countering the former’s agitation for reservation for Patidars.BJP is learnt to have worked seriously on the sizeable Koli community among OBCs to offset the losses from its erstwhile core vote Patidars going towards the Congress. A few months before Lok Sabha poll, the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra granted reservation benefits to the dominant Maratha caste there. It had announced to provide 16 percent to reservation to Maratha to five percent to Muslims in jobs and education.Amid the raging demand for Jaat reservation in Haryana, the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre then announced quota to the dominant peasant community in nine states. While both the measures could not stand legal scrutiny, the move also failed to bring any electoral gains to Congress. BJP not only romped home in both states in Lok Sabha elections but also won with huge margins in subsequent assembly elections there in 2015, replacing the Congress-NCP and Congress government in both states. In the Jaat dominated regions of North India, Congress stands marginalised.Many Congress leaders in private argue that such quota promises proved counter productive.POWER OF PATIDAR?Votes of Patidars could have influenced results in more than 60 of 182 Assembly constituencies. If the exit polls are correct, then this did not happen. Possibly it also led to a kind of polarisation for BJP among OBCs. It should not be forgotten that though Hardik and Alpesh Thakor, both backed Congress, Alpesh has risen in stature.

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Gujarat and Himachal Elections 2017: Can Congress stop a saffron sweep?

Counting of votes will be held tomorrow for the Gujarat and Himachal polls. The Gujarat Poll is considered a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state and a litmus test for new Congress president Rahul Gandhi.While the BJP is seeking a sixth straight term in office, the Congress is aiming to stage a comeback in power after being in the opposition for over two decades.The results are expected to have a bearing on the 2019 parliamentary polls also as Modi had come to power in 2014, based on the Gujarat ‘model of development’.Also readGujarat Election 2017: Confident of bagging more than two-third seats, says BJPThe much-awaited results of the keenly fought elections will be announced tomorrow when the counting of votes will be held at 37 centres across the state’s 33 districts, amidst tight security.The voting was held following an acrimonious campaign, where both the main political parties indulged in no-holds- barred attacks on each other.Also readGujarat Election 2017: Exit polls are ‘nonsense’, BJP will definitely lose, says Jignesh MevaniModi led the campaign for the BJP, while Rahul Gandhi was the pivot of the Congress’ electioneering.During the campaign, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah trained guns on the Congress on issues like Ram Temple, alleged Pakistani interference in the Gujarat polls and (suspended Congress leader) Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks.Also readHimachal Elections 2017: Exit Polls predict BJP will oust Congress in the hill state Gandhi persistently attacked Modi and the BJP for “not talking about the future of Gujarat” and skipping key issues being faced by the people of the state.The Congress also stitched about a broad social coalition with prominent Patidar, OBC, and Dalit leaders – Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jigesh Mevani – in its bid to unseat the BJP in power for over two decades.Patel led a long agitation of his community for reservation, while Thakor led an counter protest against inclusion of Patidars in the OBC reservation list. Mevani raised his voice against Dalit atrocities.The influential Patidar community, which accounts for around 12 per cent of the state’s population, could prove to be the ‘X factor’ in the polls in which Patel pledged support to the Congress and appealed to people to “uproot the BJP” this time.As the campaign was nearing its end, “Vikas” (development) took a back seat, and caste and religious issues received prominence.The two main rival parties also tried to counter each other on social media, as the Congress and its supporters launched the campaign “Vikas Gando Thayo Che” (development has gone crazy), while the BJP launched a counter drive of “I am development, I am Gujarat”.An average 68.41 per cent polling was recorded in the two-phase Assembly elections in Gujarat.According to the final figures released by the Election Commission, the voter turnout in the second phase of balloting on December 14, for 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat, stood at 69.99 per cent.In the first phase of polls held on December 9 for 89 seats in Saurasthra, Kutch and South Gujarat, 66.75 per cent voting was recorded.The total voter turnout this time has seen a dip of 2.91 per cent, as compared to the 2012 polls when 71.32 per cent polling was registered.In terms of numbers, of the total 4.35 crore registered voters, 2.97 crore exercised their right to franchise in the elections held on December 9 and 14.According to the EC data, the tribal-dominated Narmada district witnessed the highest voter turnout of 79.15 per cent, while Devbhumi-Dwarka of Saurashtra region recorded the lowest at 59.39 per cent.The districts which recorded a high turnout are Tapi (78.56 per cent), Banaskantha (75.15) and Sabarkantha (74.97). The districts which saw a low turnout are Amreli (61.29), Bhavnagar (61.56) and Porbandar (61.86).Out of the total 33 districts, 15 recorded over 70 per cent polling, while 17 others clocked between 60 per cent and 70 per cent.Only Devbhumi Dwarka district registered polling below 60 per cent.Counting in Himachal The fate of 337 candidates including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal will be known tomorrow as counting of votes is taken up in Himachal Pradesh where traditional rivals BJP and Congress have contested all 68 seatsThe hill state witnessed a record 75.28 per cent turnout and pollsters have predicted a BJP vitory.Adequate security arrangements have been made for counting which would start simultaneously in all 68 constituencies at 42 counting centres.Corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns at Chief Minister Singh, while the Congress hit out at the BJP over the issue of GST and demonetisation.The BSP contested 42 seats followed by the CPI(M) 14, the Swabhiman party and the Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI-3.Out of 67 sitting MLAs, 60 MLAS, nine cabinet ministers, HPCC president Sukhvinder Singh Sukkhu, state BJP chief, Satpal Singh Satti, Deputy Speaker, Jagat Singh Negi and eight Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) contested the poll along with a dozen former ministers.Himachal has a tradition of change in government after every elections and going by the trend, this time it is the turn of the BJP which is upbeat after exit poll results.There are 25 Congress, 28 BJP and four independent MLAs in the outgoing house while one seat was lying vacant after death of former minister Karan Singh from Banjar.Sitting Rajya Sabha member Viplov Thakur(Congress), former Lok Sabha members, Chander Kumar(Congress and Dr Rajan Shushant (Independent) and former Rajya Sabha member Kripal Parmar(BJP) are also among key contestants.While the BJP is confident of winning the polls with a comfortable majority, the Congress has rejected the exit-polls and claimed that it was all set to repeat.The BJP ousted the Congress in 1990 and the Congress avenged defeat in 1993. The BJP formed the government with the help of Himachal Vikas Congress in 1998 and the Congress was back in power in 2003. The BJP made a comeback in 2007.2,820 counting staff has been deployed for tomorrow’s exercise which includes counting supervisors, counting assistants and micro observers.Chief Electoral Officer, Pushpender Rajput said three- tier security arrangements have been made at all counting centres.He said wire mesh barricading has been done at counting centers and there was a separate entry passage for counting staff and counting agents.Videography and CCTV coverage will be done in all counting centres.

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Congress says it has won local body elections in Lakshadweep

Congress on Sunday said it has won the local body elections in Lakshadweep, securing majority of seats in the district panchayat and village dweep panchayats.However, independent confirmation of the win was not available.Congress leader and former MP M Hamdulla Sayeed said the party has secured victory in most of the seats in the district panchayat.While Congress won 14 of 26 seats in the district panchayat, NCP secured victory in 12 seats, he said.Chairpersons of 10 village panchayats are also members of the district panchayats.Congress emerged victorious in six out of the 10 village dweep panchayats, securing a total of 20 seats in 37-member district panchayat.”We have made a come back in the elections. It is a morale boosting victory for the party”, Sayeed told PTI.NCP leader and Lok Sabha MP Muhammed Faizal said his party would work hard to meet the expectations of the people.Over 50,000 voters had cast their votes in the December 14 elections,marred by devastation wrecked by cyclone Ockhi.Both Faizal and Sayeed had campaigned extensively in the polls.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Post Guaratj polls, politics to weigh more on economy, says Assocham

With conclusion of the high stakes Gujarat Assembly elections, and several other states to go to polls in 2018, political realities are expected to weigh heavily on economic decisions of the central government, said industry body Assocham based on its internal assessment.The industry chamber said that the political compulsions would also be visible on the forthcoming Union Budget, which is expected to be the last full-fledged budget of the Union government before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.”Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, a number of states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh are due to go to polls. Inevitably, the Centre and states concerned would have to factor in populist sentiments in their decisions. Any tough reforms such as flexibility in labour laws may not go well with the popular sentiment, and hence India Inc’s expectations should be muted,” the chamber said in a note, indicating that tough reform measures may not be taken.However, Assocham also said that streamlining of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and rationalisation of tax rates would be an important takeaway from the current political-economic environment.”GST had not gone down well with traders, and the issue was in focus during Gujarat elections,” it said adding that the Centre’s plans to streamline regulatory procedures and rationalise tax slabs would be welcome measures.The chamber said that SMEs would also get a boost in the coming days, starting with the Budget proposals, as the government starts focusing more on job creation in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections.”Going forward to 2018 and 2019, we expect major attention going to the rural landscape with initiatives like support to farmers, rural and agri infrastructure,” Assocham added.

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My mother will continue to contest from Rae Bareli, not me: Priyanka Gandhi virtually rules out Sonia’s retirement

Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra today put to rest the speculation over her contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Rae Bareli, saying her mother Sonia Gandhi would again be in the fray from the Parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.Rae Bareli is currently represented in the Lok Sabha by outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who passed on the mantle of the top party post to her son Rahul Gandhi today.There is a speculation in the media over Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra assuming an active role in politics to assist her brother, Rahul Gandhi.The speculation arose after Sonia Gandhi indicated her “retirement” yesterday.The Congress had, however, clarified that Sonia Gandhi was only retiring as the Congress president and not from active politics.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with him”There is no question of me contesting (the 2019 polls)…My mother will contest from there (Rae Bareli),” Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra said after Rahul Gandhi assumed charge as Congress president at an event at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here.She also lauded her mother, calling her the “bravest” woman for overcoming huge difficulties during her record 19- year tenure as the Congress chief.Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi (from Amethi) are the only two Congress representatives from Uttar Pradesh in the current Lok Sabha. Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi Soon after taking charge as the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi today launched a frontal attack on the BJP, accusing it of spreading hatred and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to medieval times.Gandhi said the BJP is “fighting for itself”, while the Congress is “fighting for everyone” in the country.Also readRahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul SupriyoThe Congress chief said he wanted the party to be an instrument of dialogue with people from all corners of the country, “all religions, all ethnicities, all ages and gender and for our dialogue to be led by love and affection”.He lamented that politics “was being used today to crush the people and not lift them up”.”The BJP is spreading hatred and communalism… They break, while we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it,” Gandhi said.”The Congress took India into 21st century, while the prime minister today is taking us backwards to medieval past when people are butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat,” he alleged.”This ugly violence shames us in the world,” he said in his first address to party men after taking over as the Congress president.47-year-old Rahul Gandhi took charge of the Congress in the presence of his mother and outgoing president Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, her husband Robert Vadra, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior party leaders.Reaching out to the youth, he said as “it is stated that the Congress is a grand old party we will make it a grand old and young party… We will fight all hatred with love.”Rahul Gandhi said the Congress party is like a family to him and vowed to take it forward.

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Sonia Gandhi ‘retires’ as Rahul Gandhi takes the reins today

A day before Rahul Gandhi takes over the Congress, the outgoing party president and his mother, Sonia Gandhi, said on Friday that her role is to “retire” now, indicating she is taking a backseat in the party’s affairs.The party, in which a number of senior leaders are more comfortable with Sonia, rushed to add that she had retired as Congress chief and not from politics, reflecting the unease with the idea of her taking a complete break.There has been speculation whether Sonia will continue to hold the posts of UPA chairperson as well as Congress Parliamentary Party chief after Rahul’s elevation.Gandhi told mediapersons in the Parliament complex: “My role is to retire”. She was asked what role she will assume after Rahul’s elevation.Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala soon tweeted, “Would sincerely request friends in the media to not rely upon innuendos.” He said Sonia has retired as Congress president and not from politics. “Her blessings, wisdom and innate commitment to Congress ideology shall always be our guiding light,” he said.Former Union Minister Renuka Chowdhury said it was not easy for party members to accept that Sonia was going to quit politics. She said the leader would always be there to steer the party in the right direction.”(She) may say. It is part of her nature, her personality… she has never aspired for a post or clung to power”, Chowdhury said but added “for those of us who are around, it is not something that we can accept easily.”When Rahul replaces Sonia on Saturday, this will bring to an end her interrupted leadership in the party for 19 years, starting from 1998 during which the Congress-led UPA won two successive Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and 2009 and formed UPAI and UPAII governments.The party also recorded its worst-ever electoral performance in 2014, winning a mere 44 Lok Sabha seats.

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No need to beg… this is independent India: M Venkaiah Naidu

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu presiding over his first full session as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha urged MPs to give up colonial terms like ‘I beg to’ while laying papers.”No need to beg… this is independent India,” he said.Presiding over the Upper House proceedings on the opening day of the Winter Session of Parliament, Naidu said, “Just say I raise to lay on the table” the listed papers.He made the observation after the ministers called to lay the listed papers on the table, began their sentences by saying “I beg to lay on the table the papers listed against my name in today’s revised list of business.”Naidu, however, was quick to clarify that this was only a suggestion and not an order.This was not only the change that Naidu suggested on the first day as the presiding officer of the House.He also stood up while reading out obituary references.His predecessors Hamid Ansari and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat used to read the obituary references while being seated. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan too stands while reading out obituary references.Naidu in August took over as the Vice-President of India in August — also the presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha.

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Delhi HC denies interim stay on Sharad Yadav’s disqualification as MP

The Delhi High Court today refused to pass an interim order on a plea for a stay on former JD(U) president Sharad Yadav’s disqualification as a Rajya Sabha member.Justice Vibhu Bakhru, however, allowed Yadav to draw allowances, perks and retain his bungalow as an MP, but restrained him from attending the Winter Session of Parliament. The session, which started today, is scheduled to go on till January 5. The court also sought the response of the Rajya Sabha chairman besides member Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, who is leader of the JD(U) in the Upper House, on Yadav’s plea challenging December 4 order of the chairman disqualifying him as an MP.The court has fixed the main petition for hearing on March 1 next year. The order came on Yadav’s plea challenging his disqualification on several grounds, including that he was not given a hearing before the December 4 order was passed. Yadav had sought interim relief to attend the Parliament session

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Winter session of Parliament: Amit Shah gets royal welcome from BJP MPs on first day in Rajya Sabha

BJP president Amit Shah today made his parliamentary debut, occupying a front row seat in the Rajya Sabha on the opening day of the winter session.Shah, 53, who was elected to the Upper House of Parliament in August, walked in just minutes before the proceedings began. Members of the treasury benches, including several ministers, stood up to welcome him. Some thumped desks and others clapped as a smiling Shah greeted them with folded hands. He then went straight to his assigned seat in the front row.Shah has been allocated the aisle seat right next to the two-seat block were Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Prime Minister Narendra Modi sit. Rajya Sabha members sit in a semi-circle, facing the Chair. The semi-circle is divided into six blocks of seats separated by aisles. The ruling side is seated on the one side of the semi- circle and the principal opposition party, Congress on the other. Other parties including allies of the ruling party or those in the opposition occupy the middle blocks.Also readWatch: Pained by falsehood and canards spread by PM Modi, says Manmohan; Amit Shah hits back Jaitley and Modi have seats in the front row of the first block. Shah has been allotted the seat in the next block where he has the company of Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan and Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot. When Shah walked in ministers including Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar and I&B Minister Smriti Irani thumped and clapped to welcome him.After he was seated, some members walked up to him to greet him.Also readWinter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remarkThe seat allotted to Shah was previously occupied by M Venkaiah Naidu, who after being elected Vice President in August is now the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The front row seats in the block next of his has AIADMK and TMC leaders.The seats in the next block used to be occupied by Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), rebel JD-U leader Sharad Yadav and BSP’s Mayawati till the last session. However, with the CPI(M) deciding against giving Yechury a third term, his seat is now occupied by his fellow-comrade T K Rangarajan. While JD-U members have moved near treasury benches since Nitish Kumar broke ranks with Lalu Prasad’s RJD and joined the NDA, its rebel leader Sharad Yadav has been disqualified. The BSP supremo quit the Rajya Sabha in July, complaining that her voice was being muzzled. After her resignation, her seat has been given her confidante and BSP leader Satish Mishra

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‘All in Well, not well’: When Chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s one-liners livened noisy RS proceedings

It was Day One of the Winter Session for Venkaiah Naidu as Rajya Sabha Chairman and the VP didn’t disappoint regaling the Upper House with his witty one liners. However, Congress MPs still fuming over PM Modi’s Pakistan remark during Gujarat campaign might have been too livid to see the funny side. On not finding Tiruchy Siva, a DMK MP from Tamil Nadu in RS, the VP quipped that Siva was missing and made a joke about Lord Shiva’s omnipresence as he remarked, that ‘Shiva was everywhere but not here in the house’.Also readNo need to beg, we are independent: RS Chairman Venkaiah Naidu asks members to get rid of colonial terms Another funny repartee came when SP’s Naresh Agarwal tried to raise a point regarding the disqualification of two former JD(U) members of the House.The Chairman did not agree with him saying there is no “point … in your point of order”. He also said the matte cannot be discussed as it is a decision of the Chair.Also readManmohan Singh meets Venkaiah Naidu on eve of Parliament sessionJoining the issue, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the opposition was not challenging the decision taken by the Chair and wanted to say something more, but Naidu repeated that it was not a matter up for discussion.Meanwhile, when Naidu asked A Navaneetha Krishnan (AIADMK) to go ahead with his Zero Hour mention regarding cyclone in Tamil Nadu, Congress and SP members trooped into the Well raising slogans.Also readPM Modi attacks Congress, Kapil Sibal for linking Ram Mandir with Lok Sabha electionsThis angered the VP no end, as he asked them to return to their seats but they continued to raise slogans. “You want to do like this on the first day…All in Well not well…,” he said and adjourned the House till noon. And that ended a nondescript day in Rajya Sabha where no work was done but the mood was certainly livened up by our quirky new Chairman who has a way with words. Opp leaders protest rejection of notice to discuss PM Modi’s Pakistan remarkOpposition leaders today protested the rejection of their notice in the Rajya Sabha demanding an explanation and apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “conspiracy with Pakistan” remark involving his predecessor Manmohan Singh.The leaders termed the comment “unfortunate” and told reporters outside the House it was “disappointing” that Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu did not allow a discussion on the notice.They also objected to the “illegal disqualification” of rebel Janata Dal (United) leaders Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari.In place of Yadav and Ansari, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar should be disqualified for breaking away from the grand alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, they said.”We gave a notice, but the chairman adjourned the House and did not let us raise the issue. We are disappointed. The chairman should have given us permission. This is a national… international issue,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.At an election rally in Gujarat on Sunday, Modi had suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the state assembly polls.He had claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house over dinner on December 6.Azad said the prime minister should come to the Rajya Sabha and explain his remarks to its members.His party colleague Anand Sharma, Naresh Agarwal of the SP and D Raja of the CPI said the people concerned should be punished if the allegations levelled by Modi were true.”But if it is false, if he levelled such a big allegation to polarise the people in view of the Gujarat polls, then he should apologise not only to the House but also to the people of the country,” Azad said.Raja said it was “not correct” on Modi’s part to cast aspersions on Singh.The CPI national secretary said Modi should have called up his predecessor if he had any information on the “conspiracy” issue.”He should have done it, but the way he raised the issue in an election campaign… It is highly objectionable. It is not good for democracy,” Raja said, asking the government to respect the Opposition.Sharma said it was “undemocratic” that the Opposition’s voice was being “muzzled”.He said the prime minister was “aware” of the notice and could have “used the opportunity to clarify his remarks, express regret and apologise”.”But the prime minister and the dispensation are arrogant and confrontational. And this is most unfortunate. This attitude does not augur well for democracy. It is an ominous development on the first day itself,” Sharma said.With inputs from PTI

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Winter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remark

Day after the final phase of Gujarat Assembly Elections, the Winter Session of Parliament will begin today.The session will witness a stormy start with the Congress demanding apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his Pakistan remark.During an election rally in his home state, PM Modi had alleged that former PM Manmohan Singh and other senior members of Congress were colluding with Pakistan for Gujarat Assembly polls.Talking to reporters, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday said, “For the first time a Prime Minister has accused Former PM, former Vice President and diplomats of conspiring with Pakistan for Gujarat elections. PM must clarify in the Parliament.”Ahead of the session, PM Modi said that he expected a ‘fruitful session.” He also said that, “I hope for positive and innovative arguments.”Also readDay after Gujarat polls, Parliament’s Winter Session to begin todayOn Thursday also, after an all-party meeting, the Congress had demanded PM’s apology.Also readWinter Session: As Congress sulks over Pak allegations, PM seeks cooperation at all-party meet”Either the government should prove the claim or the Prime Minister must apologise… Nothing short of an apology will satisfy us,” Congress leader Anand Sharma had said.The BJP, however, has already rejected the demand. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in fact, termed the dinner at now-expelled Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence as a ‘political misadventure’.Interestingly, BJP president Amit Shah will make his Parliamentary debut in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session today.The Winter Session will provide a total of 14 sittings spread over a period of 21 days including four Private Members’ days. Further, 25 Bills are pending in the Lok Sabha, while 39 Bills are pending in the Rajya Sabha

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Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut plans full-fledged commercial biopic on late party patriarch Bal Thackeray

Senior Shiv Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut is planning a biopic on late party patriarch Bal Thackeray, with an aim to bring before the people the real personality of the fiery leader.”It will be a full-fledged commercial film produced by me. The film will reveal the true personality of the great leader that Balasaheb was,” Raut told PTI.The Rajya Sabha MP, however, refused to disclose the names of the director and actors of the film.Raut, who has closely worked with Bal Thackeray for over two decades, said the formal announcement of the film will made on December 21, when its trailer will be released in the presence of Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.According to him, the shooting of the film will start sometime in January (2018) and is expected to be ready for release by early 2019.Also readBal Thackeray memorial row: Bombay HC asks BMC to maintain status quo on eviction notice to kindergarten school”The film will be shot mostly in Mumbai and many of the scenes will be shot at the actual locations, where a particular event had taken place. It will take around 3-4 months for us to complete the shoot,” Raut said.Thackeray, an advocate of a strong pro-Hindu policy, died on 17 November 2012 in Mumbai at the age of 86. Besides being known as an aggressive leader, Thackeray was famous for his political cartoons.

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Month after joining BJP, Mukul Roy to be state election committee chief, to look into panchayat polls

Former TMC leader Mukul Roy, who joined the BJP last month, is all set to become the BJP state election committee chief in West Bengal.Sources told DNA that the formalities were almost complete and national president Amit Shah would soon officially appoint Roy. “Mukul Roy had been engaged in looking into the TMC election process for years. BJP wants to use his experience in this field in wake of the ensuing panchayat polls that will take place in 2018,” said a senior party leader, who also added that state party president Dilip Ghosh sometimes takes suggestions from Roy regarding the Panchayat elections.At the same time, state BJP leaders are also of the opinion that people Roy, given his organisational skills should also coordinate and look into the defection of leaders from not only TMC to BJP, but also from other parties such as the CPI(M) and Congress. Roy is also believed to be in negotiation with such leaders to persuade them to switch to BJP.Also readWhy Mukul Roy is getting ‘Y-plus’ security? Trinamool leader files plea in Calcutta High Court “Roy is getting the framework ready with his network to pitch about 72,000 candidates across the state. He will play one an important role in the finalising the list of candidates for panchayat election,” a party insider said. He added that so far the party central leadership is satisfied with the way Roy had been functioning and if he could pull off the panchayat polls successfully he would be handling the election process of the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 and the Assembly elections in 2021, in West Bengal.

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