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Congress to raise ‘Pakistan interference’ remark in Parliament

Congress sources said on Monday that they would raise ‘Pakistan-interference-in-Gujarat-polls’ remark in both houses of Parliament, as the Winter Session resumes after the weekend.During the last phase of electioneering in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, quoting media reports, on December 10, said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, former Army General Deepak Kapoor had secretly discussed Gujarat elections with ex-Pakistani diplomats at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence in Delhi.The allegation has sparked a political furore.Congress, since then, has been demanding an apology from the prime minister.Last week, on the first day of the session, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue in Rajya Sabha.

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Leaders at NDA meet seek all India judicial service

Some leaders of the BJP-led NDA have pitched for an all India judicial service on the lines of the civil services and sought a discussion on the matter in Parliament.The issue, which involves the demand for reservation in the judiciary for Dalits and backward classes, was raised in the meeting of top NDA leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, on Friday, the first day of the Winter Session, highly-placed sources said.A senior BJP leader told PTI that the matter was raised in the meeting by some members, who sought a discussion on the issue in Parliament.They said there should be all India judicial service like the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Police Service, he said on the condition of anonymity.The sources, however, declined to name the leaders who raised the issue at the meeting.A large section of politicians, especially those drawn from disadvantaged classes, has been vocal over the issue, citing minuscule presence of these communities, especially Dalits and STs, in the higher judiciary.The matter was in the limelight recently after President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his concern at a public event over “unacceptably low” presence of women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in the higher judiciary.Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha had demanded recently that gates of higher judiciary be opened for women and disadvantaged classes, claiming that most high court and Supreme Court judges have come from 250-300 families.”Not only for Dalits and backward castes, the door is closed even for people from general castes. Members of over 250-300 families have been becoming judges in high courts and the Supreme Court since Independence. Doors are closed for all others. They must be opened,” he had said at a public meeting to mark the death anniversary of B R Ambedkar.Dalit members of Parliament have long been raising the issue and saying that an all India judicial service will pave the way for reservation for the traditionally deprived sections of society in higher judiciary.

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Congress disrupts Rajya Sabha over PM Modi’s remark

Parliament’s Winter Session got off to a fiery start with frequent disruptions in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, as the Congress demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his insinuation that his predecessor Manmohan Singh conspired with Pakistan to meddle in the Gujarat elections.The Opposition protested and raised slogans. There were three adjournments as Opposition leaders did not allow the proceedings to continue before the House was adjourned at 3 pm. The ruckus followed the Prime Minister’s comment earlier in the day that he hoped for a constructive debate in the Winter Session. The Lok Sabha was adjourned after obituaries.Modi had alleged during an election rally in Gujarat that some Pakistani leaders met Singh at a dinner hosted by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on December 6, suggesting they were hatching a conspiracy to influence the Assembly elections in the state.”This is not an ordinary allegation… against a former PM, Vice-President and Army chief,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said. He gave a notice under rule 267, seeking suspension of the listed business to discuss the issue.Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, presiding over his first full session after being appointed Vice-President, rejected the notice and asked the member to sit down. With more commotion, the House was adjourned.Naidu, known for his wit, did not hold himself back as there was continuous shouting by agitated members who also protested against the disqualification of JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar of the same party.”I don’t appreciate the conduct of coming to the Well. … There is a saying that all is well, not well. Try to understand this.”Amid the shouting, Naidu said there cannot be any discussion on the decision of the Chair. “There is no discussion on the ruling of the chairman. Please sit down.” “This is a political issue which you are raising, which you discuss outside the House.”When the House met again, Azad raised the issue amid uproar and it was adjourned again till 3 PM by Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien.Several Congress members, including Oscar Fernandes, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Renuka Chowdhury and Sanjay Singh, trooped into the Well of the House, shouting slogans.Kurien pleaded with members to take up the private members’ business but Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agarwal raised the issue of the Centre’s move to set up special courts for cases against MPs and MLAs, questioning the move.When Kurien said it was a decision of the Supreme Court, Agarwal said he had not criticised the top court but his questions were directed at the government.Congress leader Anand Sharma also got up and in support of Agarwal. Amid the chaos, Congress members once against tried to corner the government by shouting slogans demanding an apology from the Prime Minister.This is when the House was adjourned for the day.Private members’ bills including ‘The Educational Innovations Commission Bill 2017’ by Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and ‘The Prevention of Enforced Disappearance Bill 2017’ by V Vijayasai Reddy were introduced.

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Winter Session | Rather than demanding apology, Congress should say sorry for Pak meeting: NDA goes on counter-attack

The ruling NDA today decided to take a tough stand against the Opposition in Parliament after the Congress and other parties stalled the Rajya Sabha demanding an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remarks against former prime minister Manmohan Singh.At a meeting of top NDA leaders here, Modi asked the ruling alliance to strongly push the government’s legislative agenda in the Winter Session of Parliament, sources said. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that instead of attacking the prime minister, the Congress should apologise for the meeting held between its leaders, including Manmohan Singh, and Pakistani officials without informing the government.His remarks indicating a counter-offensive by the NDA in Parliament came after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till Monday following the opposition’s protests over Modi’s remarks at a Gujarat election rally in which the prime minister had accused Singh of colluding with Pakistan to influence the state polls. “Rather than demanding apology from Prime Minister, they (opposition) should apologise for what they have done…. Without informing the government their leaders met Pakistani officials,” Kumar said.Also readWinter session of Parliament: Amit Shah gets royal welcome from BJP MPs on first day in Rajya Sabha NDA sources said Modi referred to India’s progress on a host of issues, including its jump in the ease of doing business ratings and reform measures like the GST, to underline his government’s “able” handling of economy. A leader, who attended the meeting, said the prime minister also pointed out the government’s legislative agenda for the Winter Session and asked them to work together for pushing it in Parliament. The Prime Minister cited various important legislations listed in the session including a bill to to grant the constitutional status to National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) and muslim women protection of rights on marriage bill, and asked the leaders to ensure their passage in the session.Also readWinter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remarkModi also asked them to ensure presence of ruling alliance members in both the Houses. Earlier speaking in the BJP’s parliamentary party executive meeting also, the prime minister stressed on maximum attendance of the MPs in both the houses, BJP MP Sharad Tripathi, who was present in the meeting, said.Modi also emphasised that people should be made aware of the rates of the consumer goods which have come down following the reduction in GST rates, Tripathi added. The prime minister also spoke about the law enacted by his government that raised the maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks. He noted that Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, had praised the progressive law in her comments during her visit to India and said that even many developed countries do not have such a legislation.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: SC dismisses Cong plea seeking cross-verification of VVPAT

The Congress had moved the top court earlier in the day and were represented by lawyers Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal in the top court. The voting for the two-phase Gujarat Assembly election ended on Thursday and counting of votes will be held on December 18. ”

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–><!–end of breadcrumbx–>Gujarat Elections 2017: SC dismisses Cong plea seeking cross-verification of VVPAT Polling prepearations underway for phase 2
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Friday 15 December 2017 15:48 ISTMust readAfter Saudi, now Kashmir wants cinema halls reopenedMinor set ablaze by neighbours for opposing molestation in UP’s Mainpuri<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the Congress Party’s plea seeking directions to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to count and cross verify at least 25% of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) with votes cast with Electronic Voting machines (EVM).The apex court said that it finds no merit in Congress’ plea and asked that the Gujarat Congress could approach it through filing a writ petition for electoral reforms. It further maintained that electoral process in a democracy is of utmost importance and the Supreme Court cannot interfere only to allay apprehension of a party. The Congress had moved the top court earlier in the day and were represented by lawyers Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal in the top court. The voting for the two-phase Gujarat Assembly election ended on Thursday and counting of votes will be held on December 18.

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Trinamool Congress’ core meet today: Panchayat polls, BJP on Mamata Banerjee’s agenda

After touring three districts, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would return to Kolkata on Friday and would chair a core committee meeting at Trinamool Congress headquarters off EM Bypass.Besides the administrative stock taking in the three districts she visited, Banerjee is likely to draw a roadmap ahead of the panchayat elections next year.Party sources said that the Cheif Minister had also got the feelers from the grassroot-level after the former party second-in-command Mukul Roy defected to BJP and would now plan her gambit.The last core committee meeting took place on October 27, which makes this the first one after former TMC MP Mukul Roy joined BJP on November 3.It would be attended by the cabinet ministers, MPs, MLAs and zila parishad sabhadipatis among others.The Winter Session of Parliament would begin on Friday as well and a condolence resolution would be adopted for the death of party MP Sultan Ahmed. Which is why at least one MP of both the Houses would skip the meeting and attend Parliament.Sources also said that after Mukul Roy’s defection, many Trinamool leaders are also mulling of switching over to BJP. How this probable attrition could be stopped, would also be discussed in the meeting.Banerjee would also stress on countering BJP on social media. Along with personal interaction, she would tell leaders right down to the grassroot-level to get in touch with the mass through Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp telling people how BJP was trying to polarise people here on the basis of religion.Leaders who are unable to cope with smartphone usage would be asked to upgrade their technical knowhow and get used to smartphones. She would cite her example of how, in spite of her busy schedule, she manages to upload her activities on social media.Banrejee would also stress on making benefits of social welfare schemes to as many people as possible so that the party is able to reap political benefits ahead of the panchayat polls.She is also expected to give out a stern warning against in-fighting within the party.

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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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Winter Session of UP Assembly starts on a stormy note

The Winter Session of the UP Assembly began on a stormy note on Thursday when opposition created ruckus disrupting proceedings and forcing several adjournments.Opening day’s proceedings began on stormy note when the Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary raised and sought a debate on steep hike in power tariff and demanded its rollback during the question hour.Following refusal from the Chair, members of the Samajwadi Party, carrying placards for rollback of hike in power tariff, stormed the Well and raised anti-government slogans. The house was adjourned thrice following disruption by the opposition members.“We will not allow the House to run till our demand is met. Power hike was causing a blow to farmers, poor and middle class at a time when prices of essential commodities are spiralling due to the wrong policies of the Central government,” charged the Leader of Opposition.Despite request from the Speaker HN Dixit to maintain calm and let the proceedings continue, unruly Samajwadi Party members continued to stage prorest in front of the Well and staged a boycott. The Congress too supported the issues raised by the SP members. The question hour in both houses of the State Legislature could not be taken up due to opposition disrupting proceedings.Also readUP CM Yogi Adityanath to trim 94 government depts to 37The House was adjourned for most of the day when Speaker’s plea went unheeded. The Parliamentary Minister Suresh Khanna said that after losing 2014 Lok Sabha, 2017 Assembly and now urban local bodies’ polls, the opposition is taking out its frustration on the floor of the house by creating ruckus to draw attention of the people who voted them out. “They are rendered unemployed by the people of the state. They have no work but noise to make,” charged the minister.Similar unruly scenes were witnessed in the Upper House (UP Council) when Samajwadi Party launched an attack on the ruling BJP on deteriorating law and order and shortage of seeds and fertilizers for the farmers. Carrying placards and donning sports caps with anti-government slogans written on them, Samajwadi Party and BSP members also raised the issue of faulty and rigged EVMs used during recently-concluded elections. Repeated requests from the Chairman Ramesh Yadav to maintain order were ignored the noise and din created by the opposition members forced the Chairman to adjourn the Upper House for the day.

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Gujarat elections 2017: No low blow, but we’ll defeat Modi with love, says Rahul Gandhi

“Modiji, hum aapko Gujarat me pyar se harayenge,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said at a public meeting in North Gujarat’s Kalol on Sunday. He reiterated that the Congress party will fight the BJP without hitting below the belt and by respecting the dignity of the post of Prime Minister.”It is the culture of Congress… Gandhiji and Sardar Patel have taught us to defeat our enemies with love. I will not utter a word that is disrespectful to the post of Prime Minister,” said Rahul, adding that it is just a matter of days before the Congress forms government in Gujarat. He assured a 35,000-strong audience that the party will work as per the wishes of people in Gujarat and not thrust upon the people one’s own ‘Man Ki Baat’. Rahul reiterated that within 10 days of forming government, a policy to waive off farmers’ debts will be announced. He assured that the Congress government will not be for a handful of corporates but of all sections of the society. “It will be of farmers, small businessmen, youth, SCs, OBCs, Patels, tribals and all sections of the society,” he said.He said that the new government will reverse the trend of privatisation of health and education to ensure that masses can avail themselves of these services at nominal costs unlike the present when people have to spend lakhs of rupees either to get loved ones treated at a private hospital or get their children educated at a private school or college.Lashing out at PM Modi, Rahul said that he has been shifting goal posts during the course of campaign from development to Narmada to OBCs. “Of late Modiji is silent on the issue of corruption as well. Modi is not uttering a single word on Jay Amit Shah, whose company’s net worth rose from Rs 50,000 to Rs 80 crore in a matter of months,” he said.He once again took on the PM, saying that the single most reason why the Winter Session of Parliament was delayed is that the government wants to avoid getting embarrassed on the issue of Jay Amit Shah and a sudden U turn over the Rafale deal, where the Modi government “is trying to benefit a friendly corporate at the cost of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited”, which has been building fighter jets for over 70 years now.

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Yogi Adityanath to tighten noose around private schools

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh (UP) is bringing in a legislation to curb the exorbitant fees charged by private schools.The state has drafted the UP Self-Financed Independent School (Regulation of Fee) Bill, 2017, to tighten the noose around private schools that charge high fees as well as raise it almost every year.The Bill, which is likely to be tabled during the Winter Session of the state legislature, was drafted after studying similar legislation in Delhi, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan by a committee, headed by deputy chief minister Dr Dinesh Sharma, and taking into account views of parents, teachers, and management of private schools.Prominent private schools in Lucknow charge anything between Rs 3,000 and Rs 12,000 per month from each student. The new Bill will cover all private schools affiliated to ICSE, CBSE, UP Board, and even the minority institutions. Primary schools charging less than Rs 20,000 annually have been kept out of the Bill.Sharma, who is also the education minister, said the main aim of the new legislation was to regulate fee structure in private schools. Under the new Bill, private schools will not be allowed to charge admission fees every year. It can be charged only at the time of admission and three other times — when a student is promoted to Class VI, IX, and XI.The Bill provides for annual fixation of fees and allows a maximum of 15 per cent as development charges. Most schools in the state charge 30-50 per cent on this head. The Bill also directs schools to spend fees raised from this head only on renovation and development of the school infrastructure.No more secretsThe Bill makes it mandatory for private schools to keep their fee accounts and display them on their notice board and website. Also, schools must disclose income from commercial activities

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Govt, Oppn brace up for showdown on FRDI Bill

The Congress and the CPM have red-flagged Section 52 of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, likely to be tabled and passed in the Winter Session of Parliament, which will commence on December 15. The proposed law is part of government efforts to recapitalise banks to overcome the NPA (non-productive advances) crisis. It seeks to empower the banks and the financial institutions to write off part of their depositors’ money to help them from going bust.According to the RBI’s Financial Stability Report released in June 2017, the gross NPAs or bad loans to total deposits ratio of all banks stood at 9.6% in March 2017. The government-owned banks, however, currently have an even higher bad loans ratio of 13.69%.Nilotpal Basu, former MP and CPM central committee member, said: “The Modi government seems to be surreptitiously sneaking in a measure to institute ‘hair-cuts’ on depositors’ money in a manner that is similar to what we have seen in Greece, Cyprus and other European countries which have gone through an economic crisis.” A note posted by the Congress on Thursday also stated: “If the draft bill gets the nod of Parliament, it will empower the Resolution Corporation to cancel a bank’s liability or alter it to another security.”The opposition parties are also concerned over the fate of an insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation since 1961 on all deposits of the individuals parked in savings or current bank accounts or held as fixed deposits, irrespective of how much is parked in these accounts.The Opposition is gearing up to stall the proposed law in the Upper House with full force and force amendments to provide a security to the money of depositors. Until now it was mandatory for banks to pay a sum to the DICGC as insurance premium. Though the Bill proposes the banks to pay a sum to the Resolution Corporation, it neither specifies the insured amount nor the amount a depositor would be paid. It is thus unclear how much a depositor would be paid in case of liquidation. While admitting that the provisions of the Bill do ensure resolution of issues in time-bound manner, Opposition leaders said the ambiguities on how the depositors would be repaid need to be addressed before it is table on the floor of Parliament.
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Winter session of Parliament begins December 15: Triple talaq, Bill to grant Constitutional Status to NCBC to come up

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Winter Session of Parliament will begin on December 15 a day after Gujarat election is over and conclude on January 5 during which key bills on triple talaq and constitutional status to the backward class commission will be taken up for passage.Announcing the dates for the parliament session recommended by CCPA after its meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar sought the cooperation of the Opposition parties to make the winter session meaningful. “CCPA met under the chairmanship of Home Minister Rajnath Singh and proposed that we will have winter session from December 15 to January 5,” Kumar said.Rejecting Congress attack that the government has delayed the winter session to avoid facing tough questions on demonetization, GST and unemployment issues before Gujarat polls for fear of being exposed, Kumar reminded that earlier also many times including during the rule of Cong Prime Ministers Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh, winter session have been delayed and begun even from January to avoid overlapping with polls.Replying to questions, Kumar said that the issues of National Commission for Backward Classes and triple talaq are two very important issues.“The country expects that the bills pertaining to these two issues will come to Parliament in this Winter Session. If that is the aspiration of the country, Government will have to respond to it,” Kumar said.The NCBC bill, which seeks to give a Constitutional status to the national body, which recommends reservations norms for backward classes is pending before Parliament and a select committee headed by BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav has already submitted its report to Parliament on the issue in Monsoon Session.While the bill to grant constitutional status to NCBC was passed by Lok Sabha without any amenmdnet but the same could be passed in Rajya Sabha only after an amendment, dropping a clause of the bill as Opposition parties forced four amendments into it.As the bill cannot be sent to President for assent now because two different versions of the bills have been passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the bill may have to go to Lok Sabha again.In wake of some recent controversial triple talaq incidents, the government is bringing a bill, seeking to make it a punishable offence as the practice has continued despite the Supreme Court order against it.The two issues will be discussed threadbare during the three-week-long session. The session will have 14 working days. December 25, which falls on Monday and December 26 will be holidays on account of Christmas.The Parliamentary Affairs Minister said that he was hopeful that all members of Parliament will attend the session on all the working days as key issues are to discussed and bills to be passed.The announcement of Winter session dates comes daysafter a political row that saw top leaders from Government and Opposition trading barbs on each other.This could fail to relent the Opposition which has been alleging that the government wants to “run away” from facing the heat on key issues during Gujarat polls, which end on December 14, a day before the session commences now. Congress sources said that they would raise the issue in Parliament.

Winter session of Parliament to be held from December 15 to January 5

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs has decided to hold the Winter Session of Parliament from December 15 to January 5.”This will be a 14-day session, 25th and 26th December will be Christmas holidays”, said parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar on Friday.”I request political parties to cooperate and make the winter session successful and fruitful. We expect that we will have attendance on all 14 days, including the New Year’s day,” Kumar said.The Committee met on Friday in the morning to finalise the schedule and agenda for the Winter Session. Earlier on Wednesday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the schedule of the Winter Session and the Assembly Elections won’t overlap.The Opposition, especially the Congress had been attacking the government for delaying the Winter Session.The Congress party had alleged that in view of the Gujarat Assembly Elections, the Centre is trying to evade a discussion on issues the Opposition want to raise during Winter Session like scams of ministers, Rafale deal, GST and note ban.The BJP, however, rejected the Congress’s tirade as a “chorus of baseless allegations” and insisted that previous governments, including the UPA, had also scheduled sessions after state polls as politicians were busy campaigning.On Thursday, Sitaram Yechury, the Marxist leader, while speaking at an event also attacked the government for delaying the Winter Session of Parliament.Yechury accused the government of “playing with parliamentary democracy for the sake of victory in a state assembly election”.

After Sonia Gandhi’s attack, govt says committed to hold Winter Session, to decide dates soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Congress President Sonia Gandhi lashed-out, the government on Tuesday said that they are committed to hold Winter Session and will soon decide on dates.”We are committed to hold Winter Session of Parliament and in the next couple of days we are going to have cabinet committee on Parliamentary Affairs and decide the dates,” said Union Minister Ananth Kumar.On Monday, Gandhi said the government took the extraordinary step of not holding the winter session to escape answering questions on corruption in high places, conflict of interest of serving ministers and dubious defence deals.”The Prime Minister had the audacity to have a midnight celebration in Parliament to launch an ill-prepared and flawed GST but today he lacks the courage to face Parliament,” the Congress chief said.She also added that the Modi government in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India’s parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the winter session of parliament on flimsy grounds.However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said there was no truth that the government was dropping the Winter Session. There are speculations that a truncated session will start from December 11.”Changing the schedule of Parliament session during elections is nothing new. The congress has also done it before,” he said.The winter session of Parliament traditionally convenes from the third week of November and lasts till the third week of December. Jaitley said the opposition party had also delayed a session in 2011 and even earlier because the sittings coincided with election campaigns.

Congress delayed Parl session in 2011 due to elections: Arun Jaitley counters Sonia Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Sonia Gandhi and Arun Jaitley today clashed over the delay in convening the Winter session of Parliament with the Congress chief accusing the Modi government of sabotaging it on “flimsy grounds” and the union minister saying Congress had done so too in the past.Hitting back at Gandhi, Jaitley also said that rescheduling of Parliament sessions has happened several times before during election time. Assembly polls are due to be held in Gujarat in two phases on December 9 nd 14. The Winter session of Parliament usually starts in the third week of November and lasts till the third week of December. According to sources, the government is considering a truncated Winter session of around 10 days starting from the second week of December”The Modi-government in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India’ Parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the Winter session of Parliament on flimsy grounds,” Gandhi said in her address at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in Delhi. Refuting Gandhi’s charge, Jaitley said Parliament sessions were often rescheduled to ensure they did not overlap with elections, and that the Congress had itself done so several times.Jaitley said the opposition party when in power had also delayed a session in 2011 and even earlier because the sittings coincided with election campaigns.”It has been a tradition and it has happened several times that Parliament sessions are rescheduled when an election is happening,” he told reporters in Rajkot. He also said the session would be held for sure and that the Congress will be “totally exposed”.”The Congress has given the most corrupt government in its ten years of rule, while Narendra Modi has given the most honest government. By forcibly saying that a truth is a lie does not make it a lie,” Jaitley said. “(The) timing is decided such that they do not overlap with election campaigns. (Congress) did so in 2011, and even before that,” the senior BJP leader said, adding, “Parliament session will be held for sure and on all subjects, and the Congress will be totally exposed.”

Modi govt has cast dark shadow on democracy by sabotaging Winter Session: Sonia Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday launched a scathing attack on Narendra Modi government over the delay in holding the winter session of the Parliament. “The Modi-government in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India’s Parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the Winter Session of Parliament on flimsy grounds,” said Sonia Gandhi addressing the Congress working committee at her 10 Janpath residence.The Congress chief also said that the Prime Minister had the audacity to have a midnight celebration in Parliament to launch an ill prepared and flawed GST but today he lacks the courage to face Parliament.”A year later, demonetization has done nothing but rub salt on the wounds of distressed farmers, small traders, housewives, and daily workers. The Prime Minister continues with greater vigor, to make false promises, and to quote facts and figures that have nothing to do with the reality on the grounds,” she added.The CWC meeting took place to clear the decks for the elevation of Rahul Gandhi as party president.Here’s Sonia Gandhi’s full statement.I welcome you to this Congress Working Committee. We have before us an important agenda.Over the last 18 months, the election process that has concluded in all but six States has elected block presidents, an equal number of delegates, primary units and party members. This has provided an opportunity for the Party to interact with lakhs of workers across the country, starting from the booth level. This reaffirms that the party’s roots are spread across every district of the country and that no other political party can match the plurality and diversity of the Congress Party.The electoral process, which began in May 2016, has now come to its culmination. The schedule for the election of the Congress President will be read out by General Secretary.On behalf of the Party, I thank the Chairman, Shri Mullapalli Ramachandran, members of the Central Election Authority and other party workers for carrying out this huge exercise with utmost diligence, integrity, and impartiality.Friends,The Modi-government in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India’s Parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the Winter Session of Parliament on flimsy grounds. The Government is mistaken if it thinks that by locking the temple of democracy, it will escape constitutional accountability ahead of the assembly elections. Parliament is the forum in which questions should be asked – questions about corruption in high places, conflict of interest of serving ministers and dubious defense deals. The government will be obliged to answer these questions, but in order to avoid the questions and answer ahead of Gujarat elections, the government has taken the extraordinary step of not holding a winter session when should be held.The Prime Minister had the audacity to have a midnight celebration in Parliament to launch an ill prepared and flawed GST but today he lacks the courage to face Parliament.Unemployment, rising inflation, falling exports and GST are causing tremendous suffering to millions of people. A year later, demonetization has done nothing but rub salt on the wounds of distressed farmers, small traders, housewives, and daily workers. The fortunes of a handful are being built by destroying the future of the poor and the oppressed. Yet the Prime Minister continues with greater vigor, to make announcements, false promises, and to quote facts and figures that have nothing to do with the reality on the grounds.The Modi government is also forcefully trying to change the history of modern India by systematically erasing the contributions made by Pandit Nehruji and Indira Gandhi – be it through rewriting school text books, through malicious misinformation and propaganda, or ignoring with disdain the importance of the birth centenary of Indiraji. This vilification is blatant and for all to see.Friends,Rahul and many of you colleagues here and in Gujarat are working hard for a positive result in that State. Let us do our best to prove that people are not fooled and that they will make the right decision and defeat the present dispensation there.

As temp drops, city to see hazy days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Mumbaikars are beginning to worry about the air quality in days to come, air quality experts say that their worst fears might come true once temperatures begin to dip.According to experts, high temperatures being witnessed by the city the during the day helps keep the air quality in the ‘Good’ category but once maximum temperatures begin to reduce, the air quality will only worsen and smog and haze could become a regular feature.Gufran Baig, Project Director, System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) explained that the particulate matter (PM) levels of Mumbai are relatively higher between 3 am to 7 am currently due to the temperatures reducing slightly, and this resulted in smog and haze early in the morning.”However, since the temperatures begin rising during the day, the air quality has improved but we can expect this trend to change in days to come when the temperatures begin dropping in the city,” Baig said adding that in last two days, interestingly the air quality has been quite good.An air quality expert working with a government organisation based in Mumbai said that this year, the city might face heavy smog gives the fact that a lot of construction work including that of the Metro rail is ongoing across Mumbai.”The levels of PM 2.5 which include extremely fine dust particles is already quite high. Once the mercury drops, it is bound to get attached to water molecules in the air and form layers of smog which is not only known to adversely impact those suffering from respiratory illnesses but also cause allergies and illness amongst others,” said the official, adding that Mumbai’s rising vehicular population has also been aiding air pollution.WINTER IS COMINGExperts say that high temperatures being witnessed during the day help keep the air quality in the ‘Good’ category. However, once temperatures begin to drop, the quality will only worsen, making smog and haze a regular feature.

Winter Session likely to be cut short, or done away with this year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In view of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh state assembly elections, Central government is mulling over curtailing or scrapping the three-week long Winter Session of Parliament that usually begins around third week of November. Another issue of consideration is combining financial year with calendar from 2018 so that it will commence on January 1, instead of April. This also necessitates the Union Budget to be tabled in Parliament in December so that the budgetary exercise can be concluded by the year-end.Sources said some ministers have discussed the possibility of scraping Winter Session informally with Opposition leaders. A final decision will be taken only after receiving inputs from the Opposition, they said.The idea was mooted as both the BJP and the Congress, will be in the thick of campaigning as nominations for the first phase end on November 21 and for the second phase on November 27. Government sources said, such a decision will not violate the Constitution as it requires a gap of not more than six months between two sessions. Monsoon Session had ended on August 11 and so the next session can be held even in February.Parliament always conducts three sessions — monsoon, winter and budget. If agreed upon, it will be for the first time in the history of Parliament when one session would be knocked out. The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh that decides the Parliament session dates has been has been asked to stay for some time.It is understood that last week CCPA had drawn up a tentative calendar of holding the session from November 21 to December 1, and then from December 18 to 22 factoring Gujarat Assembly elections. But the dates were not yet finalised. Another idea informally conveyed to Opposition leaders is to have a short winter session in December for about 10 days.While most Opposition leaders refused to comment on the move, others said they would oppose the idea. In the middle of campaigning, winter session is an opportunity for them to corner the government on a host of issues including economic slowdown.NEW FISCAL YEARCentre is also mulling over combining financial calender with annual calender from 2018 that begins on January 1.

‘A communist paradise’: CPI(M) in Kerala comes in for lavish praise in Washington Post article

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling CPI(M) in Kerala has come in for praise in an article in ‘The Washington Post’, one of the prominent American newspapers, for the “achievements” of the state under its rule.”A small state in India offers a place for a communist to dream,” said the front page article titled “A communist success” in the newspaper’s October 29 edition.It spoke of the communist party’s journey in the southern state and devoted an entire central page to contributions of the Left party in Kerala.”In a small Indian state, the party of Marx may have done too well for its own good,” it said.”Instead of ossifying into an autocratic force, Kerala’s communists embraced electoral politics and since 1957 have been routinely voted into power,” the article said.It also points out that unlike in other parts of the world, the communist movement in the state never sought to “stamp out religion”.It traces various stages of the growth and development of the Left movement in the state and also carries pictures and excerpts of an interview of state Finance Minister and economist T M Thomas Issac.”A century after Bolsheviks swarmed the Winter Palace in Petrograd, Russia (now St Petersburg), the Indian state of Kerala, home to 35 million people, remains one of the few places on earth where communists can still dream,” the Washington Post noted.It also said unlike communists in China, Latin America or Eastern Europe, party leaders in the southern state never seized factories or banned private property.”Instead, they competed in elections with the centre-left Indian National Congress party, winning some years and losing others,” it added.The newspaper also praised Kerala’s workforce calling it “healthy and educated”.

Women’s Reservation Bill: Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi, govt sources say talks underway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Modi government may introduce in Parliament the Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to reserve one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women.A senior BJP leader said top echelons of the government and the party have been brainstorming over the bill, which had polarised the political class whenever various governments introduced it earlier. Asked if the government will bring the bill in its original form or incorporate some changes, he said the matter is still being debated. On being asked if the bill will be introduced in the Winter Session, the leader, on condition of anonymity, said, “It may be introduced. But a final call has not been taken yet.”Congress president Sonia Gandhi had yesterday written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to introduce the bill passed in the Lok Sabha by taking advantage of the BJP’s majority in the House. BJP leaders claimed that Gandhi was doing politics over the matter and said the UPA government did not introduce the bill in the Lok Sabha as it could not overcome opposition from within its own ranks. The bill is unique in the way it has polarised opinions as despite getting public support from all major national parties, including the BJP, Congress and the Left, it has drawn fierce opposition from some regional outfits and MPs from backward classes.
ALSO READ Women Reservation Bill: Sonia Gandhi urges PM Narendra Modi to take advantage of majority in Lok SabhaMany OBC MPs cutting across party lines, including the BJP and the Congress, believe that such a law will give advantage to women from upper castes, who are better educated and more resourceful. Regional satraps like Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav have also opposed it bitterly, demanding reservation for OBCs and minorities within the quota for women and also that the quantum of reservation should be far less than 33.33 per cent.A strong view within the BJP is that if its government succeeds in getting this constitutional amendment bill passed in Parliament, then it can upend conventional political faultlines and boost its prospects ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. Reservation for women in local bodies already exists and have brought about positive changes, another BJP leader said.The bill was first introduced by the the United Front government in 1996 and then the Vajpayee government tabled it a few times. However, it could never be passed in any of the two Houses on all these occasions. The prospects of its passage brightened when the UPA government tabled it in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 and managed to get it passed in the Upper House. However, reluctance from some of its allies and opposition from backward caste MPs from many parties meant that the Lok Sabha never took it up and it lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009.

BJP to reintroduce OBC bill in Winter Session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has launched a frontal attack to name and shame Congress for stumping the passage of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) Bill in the Parliament, will reintroduce it in the Winter Session without many changes.BJP sources said, the OBC bill will be almost the same with some minor changes and it is planning ways to rope in enough numbers in the Rajya Sabha for passage.”We have more numbers in Rajya Sabha now for better floor management. Besides we are working with other parties to pass it successfully in the Upper House. There is no problem of numbers in the Lok Sabha,” said a senior BJP MP adding that the amendments moved by the Congress were constitutionally unsustainable as appointment to the Commission cannot be made caste-based and would be challenged in the Supreme Court. He further said that before taking it up the BJP will raise the stakes so high for the Congress that it will not dare to put up a similar kind of resistance to the bill as it did during the Monsoon Session.The MP added that there is no need to add the concept of creamy layer and its recent revision from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh is taken care by time to time notifications in the rules.During the Monsoon Session, the BJP’s efforts to give constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) by inserting a new article 338 B in the Constitution had miserably failed when it could not muster required numbers in the house amid the absence of several of its ministers.In a high voltage drama the government had to watch its key bill fall with many of its key ministers among other MPs not present in the upper house when the 123rd constitutional amendment bill was taken up for voting.SEEKING MAJORITYDuring the Monsoon Session, there were only 126 MPs present in 245-member House during the voting. Among those present, the opposition had a clear edge over NDA benches that many empty benches.

2016-17 winter warmest ever

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indicating the alarming impact of climate change on warming in the country, annual mean temperature has been found to have increased by 1.2 degree Celsius since 1901, a new study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) showed. The study also showed that the annual mean temperature rise has been especially rapid from 1995 onward, when the anomaly crossed the two degree mark and that the winter of 2017 was the warmest on record in the country.At this rate, CSE said, temperatures would breach the 1.5 degree Celsius mark, the benchmark under Paris climate accord to limit temperature rise, in the next two decades.The non-profit organization analysed Met department’s temperature data set from 1901 onward, the year Met observations began. The period between 1901 and 1930 was selected for baseline data to analyse the anomalies in temperatures. The analysis looked at the annual and seasonal trends of mean, maximum and minimum temperatures.A look at the details of seasonal anomalies in temperatures is even more worrying. For the winter months of January and February, there has been a steady anomaly of 1 degree Celsius from the early 1990s and from 2006 onward, it has even breached the 2 degree Celsius anomaly. For instance, in the winter of 2006, the anomaly was 2.44 degree Celsius and anomaly for the 2017 winter was 2.95 degree Celsius, making it the warmest on record.”We are experiencing frequent extreme weather events, and our weather is becoming unpredictable. Losses due to extreme weather events are mounting and it is our poor who are suffering the pains of climate change,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general, CSE….& ANALYSISWith India warming rapidly, the implications of this are serious for the economic, social and ecological well-being of the country
The temperature anomalies also reflect through its impact on larger weather events. In 2010 when average temperature was 2.05o C higher than the baseline, large parts of India saw severe heat wave conditions

China H7N9 bird flu death toll 61 in Feb – govt data

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China reported 61 fatalities and 160 cases of human infection from H7N9 bird flu in February, the government said on Monday, much higher than in previous years and bringing the death toll in this winter’s outbreaks to 161 since October. While the total for last month was lower than January’s 79, it was the highest number for the month of February since the deadly strain was first identified in 2013. The death toll from bird flu infections tends to drop towards the end of the winter.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Can we wash the unholy from Holi?

And sometimes just a roll of the dice..

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Maneka hails passage of Maternity Bill in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi today hailed the passage of Maternity Bill, which allows paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, in Parliament, calling it a “historic” decision. The Lok Sabha passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 today. The Bill had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session. It entitles the women working in the organised sector to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks. “I am very, very happy that we have made history today. This will help thousands of women and produce much healthier children. We have been working on it for a long time,” said Maneka. She also wrote a message on Change.org addressing the women who had petitioned her on the issue. “This is a historic decision taken by our government. I had requested Honourable Minister for Labour to make these changes in relevant laws and I am grateful to him for taking up my request. “While congratulating all working women who are planning to have a child, I assure you that we will continue to work for women in the country,” the Minister said. Maneka also acknowledged that ensuring organisations implement the Bill by providing mothers the mandatory 26 week leave and making provisions for a creche will be an uphill task. The Minister refrained from commenting on the issue of paternity leave. She had earlier courted controversy when she remarked that paternity leave will just be a holiday for men. The Bill also provides for maternity leave of 12 weeks to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to commissioning mothers. It also makes it mandatory for every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Intermittent rain lash JK, minimum temp on the rise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Intermittent rainfall lashed wide parts of Jammu and Kashmir as the minimum temperature in the region continued its upward trend today, settling over five degrees above normal during this part of winter. The minimum temperature in the summer capital of Srinagar was recorded at 6.5 degrees Celsius against the normal 1.0 degrees Celsius during this part of the season. The city recorded 1.4 mm of rainfall during the night, a spokesman of the MeT department told(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Fog delayed 12700 trains this winter, double than last year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The number of trains delayed due to fog this winter was nearly twice that of the previous year. As many as 12,700 trains were delayed due to reduced visibility this winter as compared to 6,700 trains last year, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said in the Rajya Sabha today. “To avoid delay due to fog in winter and to enhance level of safety in automatic block signalling in fog-affected sections, modified automatic signalling has been introduced which restricts the number of trains between two stations,” he said. The Railways has deployed 6,739 GPS-based fog safety devices in trains that pass through fog-affected region. The national carrier is in the process of procuring another 4,278 fog safety devices. There was, however, a marginal drop in the number of trains cancelled due to fog this winter as compared to the previous year. A total of 2,460 trains were cancelled between November 2016 and January 2017 as compared to 2,738 cancellations during the same period last year.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Bill to replace note ban ordinance in LS on Tuesday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sparks are set to fly in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday when a bill to replace the ordinance issued in December to extinguish the liability of the government and the RBI on demonetised high value notes is introduced. The Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha which met this evening also decided that the discussion on Motion of Thanks to the President for his address to the joint sitting will commence on Friday and continue on Monday. The reply by the Prime Minister will take place on Monday evening, sources quoting the deliberations of the committee said. The issue of demonetisation had virtually washed out the Winter session and debates which in the two Houses are yet to be concluded. Both the government and the Opposition had accused each other of not allowing the debate to take place. The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, 2016 has to be replaced by a bill within 42 of the commencement of the session or it will lapse. The government is clear that it is a money bill and has to be brought first in the Lok Sabha.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

PM hopes for comprehensive discussions during Budget session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of the start of the Budget session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hoped for a comprehensive discussion in Parliament. He noted that in the last few days, the government has held discussions with all political parties to ensure that House proceedings are not disrupted. There should be comprehensive discussion for welfare of society, Modi told reporters outside Parliament. The Prime Minister said he has faith that all factions will come together in Parliament for welfare of society. He said it is the first time that the Union Budget is being presented on February 1. Modi recalled that while budgets were earlier presented at 5 in the evening, it was former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who advanced it to morning. “Today, a new tradition will begin. First, the budget is being advanced by nearly a month. And second, Rail Budget in being incorporated into this. There will be discussion on this also and the benefits that it will have in the coming times,” he said. After the Winter Session was washed out due to protests over demonetisation, Modi had yesterday reached out to the opposition at an all-party meeting called here yesterday. The meeting was attended by all major parties except Trinamool Congress, which has been unhappy over the note ban and arrest of its MPs in chit fund cases.MORE(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Cong, JDU demand white paper on demonetisation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress and JDU today demanded a white paper on demonetisation and asked the Narendra Modi government to tell people what did it achieve by the note ban. “A white paper should be presented on demonetisation. The government should tell people what has it achieved after it. Let people who lost their jobs and faced hardships know. “The government has changed the narrative from black money to e-payments,” Congress leader Sachin Pilot said in a debate at India Today’s Budget Aaj Tak conclave here. He said people will respond to demonetisation in the elections and the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance will win the UP Assembly polls. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already announced several schemes in his December 31 speech and wondered what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will say on the budget day. Pilot said the decision to scrap high-value currency notes “tarnished” the image of the Reserve Bank of India and its Governor as “several changes” were made in notifications. JDU’s Pavan Varma wanted to know what steps the government intended to take after demonetisation. “We supported demonetisation, but we want to know how much ill-gotten money has been recovered and what steps have been taken to bring back black money stashed abroad,” he said. Varma also stressed the need for bringing about electoral reforms and said all parties “have been evading this crucial issue”. To this, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said: “Yes, there has been discontent on this among people. The PM has very clearly said the issue needed to be discussed in the Winter Session. Let’s have a discussion on this and bring a law.” Responding to Opposition’s criticism over BJP manifesto for UP polls promising construction of Ram temple, he said: “The issue is in its manifesto since party’s 1989 Palampur Resolution”. Attacking Trinamool Congress, which vociferously opposed the note ban, Patra said that while the West Bengal government claimed its revenue went down post rationing of notes, its MP Derek O’Brien in a tweet had said the state GDP spiked in the past two months.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Parliament should function despite differences: PM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seeking cooperation of all parties in running Parliament during Budget session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it is a ‘mahapanchayat’ which should function despite differences which may crop up during poll season. After the Winter Session was washed out due to protests over demonetisation, Modi reached out to the opposition on the eve of the Budget session at an all-party meeting here called by the government that was attended by all major parties except Trinamool Congress, which has been unhappy over the note ban and arrest of its MPs in chit fund cases. The government, however, asserted that the Budget will be presented as scheduled, rejecting the opposition’s allegations that it will impact the upcoming assembly elections. Speaking to reporters, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that during the meeting Prime Minister Modi sought support of all parties and said “in election time, there can be some differences among us, but Parliament is mahapanchayat. It should function.” Kumar said all parties responded positively and said that they want the House to function smoothly. Rejecting the opposition’s allegation that government should not have advanced the session as early presentation of the Union Budget will impact the level playing field during upcoming state assembly elections, the Minister said Supreme Court and Election Commission have already given their judgement on this. “The government’s efforts will be that the budget should benefit all and takes the country forward,” Kumar said. Earlier speaking to reporters, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that government should not have advanced the Budget session. Azad also citied a similar situation in 2012 when the then UPA government had postponed the budget session due to state assembly elections. “We have asked the government that they should avoid any such announcement in the budget session which affects level playing field in the five state assembly elections,” Azad said. The Congress leader has also asked the government to call another all-party meeting before next part of budget session. Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and CPI(M) leader Sitram Yechury demanded that there should be discussion on demonetisation also during the first phase of session. “We have told the government that there should be discussion on demonetisation for two days as the people across India have suffered due to this irrational move of the government,” Yechury told reporters. He also said that presentation of budget on February 1 is “non-scientific” as it will not take into consideration the statistical data of third quarter which comes only in mid- February.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Intense cold continues unabated amid avalanche warning in HP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Intense cold wave conditions continued unabated in most parts of Himachal Pradesh in spite of a sunny day, even as a medium danger avalanche warning was issued today for some avalanche-prone slopes in Kullu, Chamba, Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts. The local MeT office has predicted rains or snow in the region over next two days and then again from February 2 onwards, as a feeble western disturbance is likely to affect the western Himalayan region from today onwards. The high altitude tribal areas and other higher hills froze under sub-zero temperature which stayed between minus 14 and minus 20 degree Celsius. Keylong, Manali and Kalpa recorded a low of minus 9.4, minus 4.0 and minus 3.8 degree respectively. Solan and Shimla shivered at 2.4 and 2.9 degree, while Palampur recorded minimum temperature at 4.2 degree, followed by Bhuntar 4.5 degree, Sundernagar 5.6 degree, Nahan 6.4 degree, Dharamsala 7.2 degree and Una 7.7 degree C. The life in Lahaul, Pangi, Bharmaur and Pin Valley in tribal areas was virtually paralysed and it came to a standstill as collapse of power supply added to the woes of local inhabitants. The vital bridge on Bhaga River connecting Chheling village in Lahaul Spiti collapsed due to avalanche, severing all links of the area from the district headquarter. Avalanche threat loomed large over high altitude tribal areas and other higher hills and people have been cautioned against venturing out till the weather improves. Meanwhile, tourists made a beeline to Manali to enjoy snow as the two-day state skiing and snowboarding championship got off to a colourful start at Solang ski slopes, 13 kms from Manali today. The event is being organised by Winter Games Federation Of India, (WGFI), Himachal Pradesh Winter Games Association (HPWGA) and Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali. Tourists enjoyed sun and snow on a bright day and weather became pleasant as the day temperatures rose marginally. Una was hottest in the region with day temperature at 23.4 degree, while Sundernagar, Solan and Bhuntar recorded maximum temperatures at 19.2 degrees, 18.5 degrees and 18.0 degree respectively. Nahan remained at 15.1 degree, Shimla 13.6 degree, Dharamsala 13.2 degree, Manali 8.0 degree and Kalpa at 3.0 degree Celsius. Barring Kalpa and Khadrala which received 6 cms and 4 cms of snow and Dalhousie, Jogindernagar, Dharampur and Kasauli which recorded 15 mm, 6mm, 3 mm and 2 mm of rains, the weather remained dry in the region.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Delhi makes fun of Mumbai winter on Twitter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai winters are considered something of a joke to the rest of India. Well, let’s leave out Chennai over here because even at 20 degrees Celsius, you see people covering their heads. But for people living in central, east, northeast and north India, Mumbai winters are a joke.So when the temperature hit a 12.6 degrees minimum on Tuesday, Mumbaikars got their winter wear out. While it’s not like a trip to the Himalayas, there were people covering their heads, some were seen wearing mufflers and people at office were seen dressing up warmly because of the collective brain freeze from the temperatures outside and the blast of the air conditioner inside.Many people took to Twitter and Instagram to share their Mumbai winter experience. There were selfies of people in their winter best using hashtags #mumbaiwinter and #cold. By this time, residents of Delhi, who have been braving a minimum temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, had enough and began drawing parallels between the respective winters of the two metropolises.Here’s what Mumbaikars said,And this is how Delhi responded,

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