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-Sh. Narendra Modi to take charge as the the Prime Minister of india.-Profile
-Narendra Modi win from Vadodara
-Sachin Pilot loses from Ajmer
- Google Celebrate India's General Election with doodle.
-Arun Jaitly loses to Amrinder Singh.
-I take responsibility for congress defeat. I congratulate the new government- Rajiv Gandhi & Sonia Gandhi.





PM hails contribution of Haryanvis in enhancing pride of country
MMNN:10 October 2018

Rohtak, While paying rich tributes to great leader Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hailed the contribution of farmers, soldiers and sports persons of Haryana in enhancing the pride of country and said the state not only contributes maximum in the armed forces of the country, but also contributes 17 per cent in the national food basket, which is a major contribution. The Prime Minister unveiled the 64 feet tall statue of Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram, tallest in Haryana and laid the foundation stone of rail coach factory, to be set up at Barhi village in Sonipat district. Mr Modi said the statue of Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram, which he dedicated to the people, would give a distinct identity to Sampla and Rohtak. He also extended his greetings to the people of the state in advance, of Haryana Day on November 1. Addressing the Deenbandhu Samriti rally at Sampla in this district, Mr Modi said today, there is no village in the state, which does not have the representation in armed forces of the country. He said the credit goes to Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram, as he motivated the farmers to join the Army during the British rule. Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram could not live in independent India, but he had a deep understanding of the challenges and aspirations of people in the country. The Prime Minister also appreciated the state government, led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, for achieving the status of Open Defecation Free, specially to the Maharashi Dayanand University, which has achieved first position in the Swachhta Survey. He said the state has made a remarkable progress under the ambitious Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme. The daughters of Haryana are continuously increasing the pride of country. The Prime Minister also appreciated the state for having the first beneficiary under the Ayushman Bharat Yojna. He said that within just two weeks after the launch of the scheme, about 50,000 poor people have either got treated or their treatment is in progress. Underlining the role of Haryana in the development of country, Mr Modi called upon the people to work unitedly for building a new nation as this would be a real tribute to Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram. He said that it is matter of pride that today that is on October 9 he has unveiled the statue of great leader Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram, the tallest in Haryana and on October 31, he would unveil the statue of Iron man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel which would be the tallest in the world. Both the leaders had worked for the welfare of farmers, he maintained. He said that Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram was the same leader who envisioned the Bakhra Dam and this is the result of his farsighted approach that farmers and people of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan are getting water. The Prime Minister said that the Rail Coach Factory which would come in village Barhi at a cost of Rs 500 crore would give impetus to the industrial development of Haryana and also provide employment opportunities to the youth. He said that with the setting up of Rail Coach Factory, 250 coaches of passenger train would be repaired and modernized every year. There would be no need to send such train coaches to far off factories for their upkeep. This would help increasing the availability of passenger coaches and the passengers would be able to get the facility of modern coaches. He said that the material including sheets, fans, fitting required for this Rail Coach Factory would be made available at the local level which would benefit the industries of Haryana. He said that this would also assist local engineers and technicians in enhancing their expertise in the field of rail coach factory. These experts would also be able to render their specialized services in the other parts of the country in the times to come, he added. Mr Modi said that during the last four years, the present BJP government has not only honoured several great leaders and personalities but also tried to follow the path shown by them. Apart from this, various welfare measures have been taken for the welfare of farmers and small traders who were feeling helpless earlier. He said that bank accounts of as many as 66.50 lakh beneficiaries have been opened under the Jan Dhan Yojna. Apart from this, the process of obtaining loan from banks has been simplified. The India Post Payments Bank has been started to provide bank like services at the doorstep of people through postmen. Referring to various steps taken by the present government in the interest of farming community, he said that an arrangement has been made right from seed to market. Persistent steps are being taken for ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers, providing hybrid seeds and adequate water for irrigation. He said that in Haryana, 50 lakh Soil Health Cards (SHC) has been issued to the farmers to ensure that farmers get the benefit of seasonal crops. Apart from this, claim amount of Rs 350 crore has been distributed among the farmers on account of crop damage due to natural calamities. Water has reached to even those tail ends in the State which were deprived of water for last about 30 years. He said that recently a historic pact has been inked between six states for the construction of Lakhwar Dam which would benefit Haryana immensely. He said that on the pattern of Mandi Act got enacted by Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram nine-ten decades back for ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers, the present government has launched a new scheme namely “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA). He said that present state government is also realizing its promise of giving atleast 50 per cent profit to the farmers over and above the cost of production. MSP of 21 crops including wheat and sugarcane has been increased. The MSP of paddy has been increased by Rs 200 per quintal. Now the paddy farmers would get MSP of Rs 1750 per quintal instead of Rs 1550 per quintal. Similarly the MSP of Maize, Sunflower and Bajra has been increased by Rs 275, Rs 1300 and Rs 525 per quintal respectively. Efforts were being made to double the income of farmers by 2022, he asserted. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar requested the Prime Minister to inaugurate the remaining section of Kundli Manesar Palwal (KMP) Expressway, the work on which is likely to be completed within one month. He said that Manesar Palwal section of the expressway has already been completed and made functional. Blaming the previous government in the state for delaying the project, he said that the present state government has fastracked the work on the project which was stalled for last several years. He said that the state government has also decided to develop Panch Gram Yojana along the expressway. Mr Khattar said that during his last visit Mr Modi had also announced to rename Garhi Sampla village as Chhotu Ram Nagar. Recalling the contribution made by Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram, he said that the great farmer leader had undertaken various welfare works for the upliftment of villagers, labourers and farmers. He said that Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram had got implemented the rule of 8-hour work for labourers and one-day holiday for traders. The Chief Minister said that following the vision of Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram, the present government had launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojana for the welfare of farmers. As a result of the welfare policies and schemes of the government, the state has been moving ahead at both national and international level. He said that a provision is being made for the registry of property lying within ‘laal dora’ in villages. Apart from this, the State Government has also abolished ‘Remand Pratha’ in the interest of farmers so that they would not have to make frequent rounds of the Revenue Courts to get their land-related issues settled. He said that the state also ensured transparency in government jobs and now youth were getting jobs on merit basis. He said that 8.25 lakh youth have so far been provided employment under Skill Development Programme. On this occasion, Union Steel Minister Birender Singh thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making the farmers financially strong. He said that Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram had resolved to work for the welfare of poor, farmers, people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes. It was Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram who raised voice for Minimum Support Prices for crops. He said that Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram envisioned the Bhakra Dam in 1923 and today the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan are getting sufficient water. Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat also recalled the contribution made by Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram for the upliftment of farmers, poor and people belonging to weaker sections of the society. Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik said that the Swaminathan Report would immensely benefit the farmers. Haryana Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister O P Dhankar said that Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram had worked for the welfare of farmers and poor. He got the lands of farmers freed from clutches of landlords, got their loans waived off and ensured better prices of their produce. People used to call him as ‘Chota Ram’. The state government has been working to implement the ideals of Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram in letter and spirit. State BJP President Subhash Barala said that since independence, if anyone has ever tried to realize the vision of Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram then it was only Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


Non-NDA states should reduce VAT on fuel to help consumers: BJP
MMNN:8 October 2018

New Delhi, BJP on Monday said all non-NDA states should come forward and help the consumers by reducing fuel price in their respective states. Under persistent attack by opposition parties for continuous price hike, BJP spokesperson and New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi said, ‘ There are things which are within control and there are things which you cannot control.’ She said it is high time, fundamental issues concerning fuel import and the prices are understood properly and ‘right questions are raised’. ‘Unlike what is being given out the Central role is essentially very limited when it comes to pricing of fuel, ‘ the BJP leader said. ‘The Centre has taken a decision and the PSUs will shoulder the burden. So, are the BJP states, I will say all non-BJP states including Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi should show sensitivity and try to help the common people,’ Ms Lekhi said in a press conference here. Answering questions, she said the Arvind Kejriwal led government was only indulging in false propaganda. ‘It is time the state governments also reveal how much they have earned due to VAT,’ she said, adding that several opposition ruled states are pointing at the Central government and not doing their part to mitigate the problems of the people. Ms Lekhi said notwithstanding the high prices of fuel, it is also a fact that the Central govt duty (tax) is ‘fixed’ and it is only the states which are charging in ‘percentage term’. ‘It is not the Central government which is increasing the taxes but the burden on the Central government to repay that oil bond prices has been there which no state is facing,’ she said. The BJP spokesperson said the narratives given out by opposition leaders were not correct.


PM Modi, Russian President begin bilateral talks
MMNN:5 October 2018

New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin began the crucial bilateral talks here on Friday.Both the leaders met at the Capital’s Hyderabad House. Before sitting for the parleys – where important issues like defence tie up is expected to figure prominently – both the leaders shook hands and posed for photographs. At one point both the leaders also embraced each other and took themselves into arms.The leaders are taking part in the delegation-level talks. “Welcome to India, President Putin. Looking forward to our deliberations, which will further enhance India-Russia friendship,” Mr Modi tweeted on Thursday evening after the two leaders held an informal meeting at Prime Minister’s official residence here. The two sides are expected to review bilateral ties, including defence cooperation during the 19th India-Russia Bilateral Summit.Mr Modi and President Putin may also deliberate on a range of regional and global issues.The two countries are expected to sign a number of agreements. All eyes are on the possible signing of a 5 billion dollar deal to procure most advanced air defence system, the S-400 Triumf.There will be exchange of Agreements and Press Statements, official sources said. Mr Putin will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The visiting dignitary will also interact with a group of talented children and will address India-Russia Business Summit. In the recent past, India has given much emphasis on its ties with Russia.Mr Modi flew to Sochi for an informal summit with Putin in May this year.The two countries have improved ties lately under bilateral arrangements as also in fora such as BRICS.


Uddhav Thackeray Will Visit Ayodhya After Dussehra, Says Sanjay Raut
MMNN:4 October 2018

MUMBAI: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will visit Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh after Dussehra, senior party leader Sanjay Raut said today, before criticising senior ally BJP over the Ram temple issue. Mr Thackeray will announce the date of his visit during the party's annual Dussehra rally to be held in Mumbai on October 19, the Rajya Sabha lawmaker told news agency PTI. "The Sena has always championed the cause of Ram temple in Ayodhya. The BJP, despite being in power for four years, has not yet fulfilled its commitment of building a grand Ram temple there," he said. Mr Thackeray met Ram Janmabhoomi trust chief Janmejay Sharanji Maharaj at the party's headquarters Sena Bhawan in Mumbai yesterday evening, party sources said. Sharanji Maharaj invited Mr Thackeray to visit Ayodhya and told him that the trust needed the Shiv Sena's assistance in the construction of Ram temple, they said, according to news agency PTI. Senior Sena leader Arvind Sawant pointed out that before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the NDA had given three assurances to people -- to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and to solve the Kashmir issue. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution accords special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. "We are not doing something which we haven't spoken of earlier. When nobody took responsibility of the Babri Masjid demolition, (Shiv Sena founder) Balasaheb did so. Now four-and-a-half years have passed (since NDA came to power) but the construction of Ram temple has still not begun and the issue is pending in court," Mr Sawant said. "The Sena will stand for the issue," said the Lok Sabha lawmaker from Mumbai South constituency. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party is a constituent of the BJP-led NDA governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra. The Sena, which has resolved to go solo in the future elections, has often targeted the BJP for "delaying" the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya despite having a majority. Mr Thackeray had recently said the BJP would once again rake up the emotive issue in the run-up to the 2019 polls.


"Bhima-Koregaon case: SC refuses to interfere with arrest of 5 activists
MMNN:28 September 2018

New Delhi, The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere in the arrest of five noted human rights activists in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, said, “We don’t want to interfere in the arresting of five human rights activists, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.” It also declined to appoint a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for probe into the activists’ arrest. The court extended the house arrest of five accused for four weeks.It said the accused can approach the sessions court for relief. Five activists, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, are under arrest at their respective homes since August 29.


"The More Mud You Sling, The More Lotus Will Bloom": PM Attacks Congress
MMNN:25 September 2018

The Congress is indulging in mud-slinging against the government because it finds it easier than debating on issues like development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, in an apparent reference to allegations on the Rafale fighter deal. Addressing a rally, the Prime Minister mocked Congress, saying the 125-year-old party had been reduced to such a condition that it was "begging" with small parties for alliances. He said even if the Congress gets allies, the coalition will not be successful. PM Modi said his government believes in social justice for all and that its 'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas' (cooperation of all, development of all) campaign is not just a slogan. He expressed confidence that the BJP would emerge victorious in the upcoming Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh as well as in the Lok Sabha elections next year. "They (Congress) are indulging in mud-slinging because they find it easier... They have indulged in mud-slinging earlier too. But I want to tell them, the more you throw mud at us, the more the lotus (BJP's symbol) will bloom," PM Modi said. He was apparently referring to the charges of corruption being levelled by the Congress in the Rafale fighter deal. PM Modi said the opposition party, instead of indulging in mud-slinging, should engage in a debate on issues like development which "they do not dare to". Addressing the rally where BJP chief Amit Shah and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were also present, the prime minister said the opposition parties had formed the "Maha-gathbandhan" (grand alliance) out of fear of losing the polls. "Congress has become a burden on the country today. It is the responsibility of BJP workers in democracy to save the country from it," he said.


"Naxal Supporters Will Soon Be Neutralised": Chhattisgarh Chief Minister
MMNN:24 September 2018

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh Monday said his government is making efforts through development projects to "soon neutralise" the ideological and financial support Maoists receive from sympathisers from Raipur to Delhi. In an interview to PTI, the longest-serving BJP chief minister outlined several development-related activities, including those being undertaken in the state's Maoist-affected Bastar region. Mr Singh also exuded confidence of a consecutive fourth victory for the BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls in the state. Polls for the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly are due this year-end. The chief minister said his government has been working on a plan to completely eliminate maoism from the state since 2003 and that the strategy is showing results. "We have brought development in most (of the naxal-affected) areas and more than that we have been able to win the people's trust. Naxals are getting discouraged and Naxals activities are going down," he said. Referring to Maoists sympathisers, Mr Singh said maoists have got a very strong support system from Raipur to Delhi. "I feel the kind of support that is given Naxals and their ideology is very strong. They make big lawyers who take up their cases. So, they are economically strong too. "There are people of their (naxals) ideology who support them, from high courts to the Supreme Court (referring to some providing legal aid to them)," the chief minister said. He, however, expressed confidence that these sympathisers will soon be "neutralised". "Like the naxals are getting weaker, they (sympathisers) will also become weak. This fight (to check naxalites and their supporters) is of Chhattisgarh and other states. "We are getting successful (in checking naxal activities) and this support system will soon be neutralised," Mr Singh said. He also lamented that some human rights supporters are opposing action against maoists. "They make noise of human rights violation. They had come to me also. I asked them whether the human rights are of naxalites alone or of the common people also. They (naxals) abduct their children, girls and destroy schools. "They are the biggest violators of human rights as they keep the whole area (of their influence) captive. Why you (sympathisers and human rights defenders) don't speak then? You only think of them (naxals) only?" Mr Singh said. His assertion assumes significance as some human rights defenders were arrested last month from different parts of the country, including one Chhattisgarh-based activist, by state police forces. The Supreme Court is hearing a case on a plea made by a historian challenging the arrests. Talking about the upcoming Assembly polls in the state, Mr Singh said the BJP is confident of its victory and all set to form government after the elections. "The experience of the last three elections tells us that we will be in a better position in this poll. BJP chief (Amit Shah) has decided a target of 65 plus seats in the state. "We all are set to achieve that. Our workers up to the booth level are doing their jobs. We are sure that we will get a big victory this time," the chief minister said. Mr Singh, who has been the chief minister of the state since December 2003, rejected suggestions that there was anti-incumbency against his administration. "Sensing, somewhat, a little mood of anti-incumbency in some areas, we started a mass contact programme. We visited different parts of the state and heard the people's grievances, if any, and provided on the spot solution to them. "So, whatever little concern or problem they had from the administration, we have already provided solutions to them. Hence, no such (anti-incumbency) feeling exist," he said. The chief minister said the BJP is approaching the people with a promise and vision to make a 'New Chhattisgarh' by 2025. "When Chhattisgarh turns 25 (in 2025), our GDP will be doubled, farmers' income will be doubled. We will ensure 100 per cent literacy in the state. COMMENT "We are creating an educational hub in the worst naxal-affected Bastar region to Sarguja, and providing all possible support to the farmers of the state," Mr Singh said, outlining plans to approach voters ahead of the Assembly polls.


Talk Of Grenade Launcher, Ending "Modi-Raj" In Letters: Cops On Activists
MMNN:31 August 2018

Facing criticism on the raids and arrests targeting rights activists, the Maharashtra police today claimed solid evidence including "thousands of documents and letters" that established the activists' links to Maoists and their role in facilitating weapons and funding. "We have thousands of letters which show how these people were involved in the underground movement, how students from Jawaharlal Nehru University were being mobilised to overthrow the elected government. All these letters just make the Maoists links clearer," said Param Bir Singh, Additional Director General, Maharashtra Police, in a press conference this evening. He read out a letter exchanged between an activist arrested not this week but earlier in June, which spoke of planning "another Rajiv Gandhi-like incident to end Modi-raj". Some of the letters, he said, spoke of planning "some big action" which would attract attention. The senior police officer said they even found a rocket launcher pamphlet in one of the seized disks. "A letter written from Delhi-based activist Rona Wilson to Maoist leader Prakash on July 30, 2017, spoke of requirement of Rs. 8 crore for grenade launchers with four lakh rounds", he said. Rona Wilson was one of the five activists arrested in June in connection with violence between Dalits and upper caste Marathas at a mass event held on December 31-January 1 at Bhima Koregaon near Pune. The letter said to be written by her has not been submitted in court. The activists who were arrested on Tuesday - Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Arun Fereira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves - are under house arrest on the Supreme Court's orders. The Maharashtra police said there was enough evidence to prove that these activists were working to destabilize the government. The arrests are based on evidence gathered after the June arrests. The activists, police sources have claimed, were monitored closely for almost one week and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was briefed about "fresh evidence" before the raids. Police said the accused had been in touch with around 35 major universities and colleges 'to recruit young students to take their movement ahead


Ashutosh says AAP used his surname to garner votes in LS polls despite his protest
MMNN:29 August 2018

New Delhi, Amid the on-going fuss over Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi Marlena dropping her surname, former party leader Ashutosh on Wednesday revealed that during 2014 Lok Sabha polls he was introduced to party workers with his surname despite his opposition.He had unsuccessfully contested from the Chandni Chowk LS seat as a AAP candidate. Taking to Micro blogging site, Twitter, Mr Ashutosh said, “In 23 years of my journalism, no one asked my caste, surname. Was known by my name. But as I was introduced to party workers as Lok Sabha candidate in 2014 my surname was promptly mentioned despite my protest. Without naming any party leader, the former AAP leader claimed that on this matter he was later told that how could he win the elections without using the surname. At the same time, he clarified that he was not a part of the anti-AAP brigade. “I am no longer with AAP, not constrained by party discipline and free to express my views. It will be wrong to attribute my words as attack on AAP. It will be gross manipulation of media freedom. Spare me. I not member of anti-AAP brigade,” he asserted. On August 15, Ashutosh had resigned from the party citing personal reasons.


Ex-Raipur Collector Joins BJP Days After Resigning From Civil Services
MMNN:28 August 2018

NEW DELHI: Former Raipur collector O P Choudhary today joined the BJP, days after resigning from the Indian Administrative Service, ending speculation. "I have assumed the membership of the BJP," said Mr Choudhary, who tweeted a photo of him with BJP president Amit Shah and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh after joining the party. Talking to PTI, the former bureaucrat said he served the people of Chhattisgarh for 13 long years and did all to help them. "I am very satisfied with my tenure in the IAS. But bureaucracy has its own limitations. I want to work more for my people and my soil that is why I decided to leave the service," Mr Choudhary, who hails from Chhattisgarh, said. An IAS officer of the 2005 batch, he resigned from the service last week. He was allotted his home state as his cadre. His resignation has been accepted by the Union Personnel Ministry, the nodal authority for the service. Mr Choudhary, who is credited for bringing transformation in education in Chhattisgarh' naxal-affected Dantewada district, is likely to contest the upcoming Assembly polls from the Kharsiya seat, a Congress bastion in Raigarh district, sources said. Umesh Patel, son of former state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, who was killed in the Jhiram valley naxal attack in Bastar's Darbha region ahead of the 2013 Assembly polls, is the incumbent Congress MLA from Kharsiya. Mr Choudhary belongs to Patel's Aghariya community, a dominant OBC community in Raigarh, and he may dent the traditional Congress vote bank if the BJP decides to field him from the seat, the sources said. The former IAS officer was given the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Public Administration for the year 2011-12 for his contribution in development of naxal-affected areas through education. Elections for the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly is due this year-end


"Not Inferior": Karnataka's Response After Nirmala Sitharaman's Rebuke
MMNN:25 August 2018

A day after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman openly blasted Karnataka Minister Sa Ra Mahesh at a press conference in Kodagu, the deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka G Parameshwara tweeted his disapproval saying, "It was disappointing to see you lash out at my colleague." Mr Mahesh on Friday had asked the union defence minister to wind up the press conference at the district commissioner's office, citing lack of time. "Our ministers have stayed back in Kodagu for weeks to oversee relief operations along with the district administration. You should extend to them the same respect that they extend for the help from your end," the deputy chief minister tweeted In an oblique indication that Ms Sitharaman was not the boss because she comes from the centre, Mr Parameshwara said "state governments derive their powers from our Constitution not from the centre... We are not inferior to the centre. We are partners." Lashing out at Mr Mahesh, Ms Sitharaman yesterday said, "I am following a minute-to-minute programme, minister. If officials are important, my parivaar (family) is also important.... Central minister follows the minister in-charge here. Unbelievable." When told the conversation was getting recorded on cameras, Ms Sitharaman, a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, shot back "Let it get recorded." The government, in a statement today, sought to clarify the sequence of events. "The Defence Minister was interacting with ex-servicemen who had been adversely affected by the floods, when the District incharge minister objected and insisted that meeting with the officials be conducted first. The Defence Miniser clarified that welfare of ex-servicemen was an essential part of the Ministry of Defence and the same was scheduled in the program. However, the district minister insisted that the central minister immediately stop the interaction and proceed to the meeting with the officials," the clarification said. Ms Sitharaman on Friday visited many relief camps in Kodagu including one of the Seva Bharti camps run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS. She has donated Rs. 1 crore from her MLPAD (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) funds for rehabilitation in Kodagu. Mr Parameshwara has also accused the centre of "step-motherly" treatment, saying the government has not released any funds for the devastating floods in Kodagu. Karnataka on Friday sought Rs. 2,000 crore interim relief from the centre for relief and rehabilitation of flood victims in Kodagu. "I appeal to you to release an interim relief of Rs. 2,000 crore to enable the state government rehabilitate flood-hit victims," said Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.


In Vijay Mallya Case, India's MTV Cribs-Style Video Of Mumbai Jail For UK
MMNN:24 August 2018

A television set, personal toilet and bedding, a washing area and a courtyard to take a stroll in the sunlight are just some of the highlights of Barrack Number 12 of Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail, the prospective residence of fugitive tycoon Vijay Malaya. The Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI, which is trying to get the liquor magnate extradited from the UK, has filed a 6-8 minute-long video documentary highlighting these facilities before a London court. The video was prepared after Vijay Mallya complained about "no natural light" or fresh air in Indian jails, prompting the UK judge to ask India for a video of the prison cell where it plans to keep the fraud-accused businessman. "The court wanted us to show if Indian jails are hygienic. We have given them proof of the hygiene level and medical facilities available in jail. In fact, the barrack in which Mr Mallya would be lodged is east-facing so it has lot of sunlight too," a senior level official told NDTV. "The cell has cross ventilation with a window and bars on opposite sides. The cell also opens to a courtyard," the senior official who was associated with the filming of the clip said. According to him, Vijay Mallya would also be given access to a library to keep himself occupied. "As far is security is concerned, the jail security matches international standards - we already informed court in last few hearings," the source said. The Home Ministry had recently carried out a security audit of the jail and its findings were also submitted in the court, he said. The cells are constantly watched through CCTV cameras and have additional guards posted both inside and outside the barrack to keep a round-the-clock vigil on the inmates. "Food is served four times during the day inside an earmarked area of the barrack, where the inmates are told to gather," the official added. Barrack 12 at the Arthur Road Jail houses high-profile inmates, including prisoners who face a security risk elsewhere, ones who could pose a threat to others, or ones who can trigger law-and-order challenges. Vijay Mallya has been based in the UK since he left India in March 2016 as banks stepped up efforts to recover Rs. 9,000 crore in unpaid loans. The extradition trial opened in London on December 4 last year. The court will take up the high-profile extradition case next on September 12


Rahul Gandhi's ISIS Reference In Germany Is "Unbelievable" To BJP
MMNN:23 August 2018

Rahul Gandhi's reference in Germany to terror group ISIS while warning about the impact of excluding people from development has provoked a sharp reaction back home from the ruling BJP. "It is very dangerous in the 21st century to exclude people," the Congress president said at the Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg, accusing the ruling BJP of excluding tribals, Dalits and minorities from the development narrative. "If you don't give people a vision in the 21st century, somebody else will. And that's the real risk of excluding a large number of people from the development process," he said. He linked incidents of lynching in India to anger because of joblessness and small businesses crashing after the cash ban and GST (Goods and Services Tax). "They (the BJP government) feel tribal communities, poor farmers, lower caste people, minorities shouldn't get the same benefits as the elite," he said. There is "something much more dangerous" that has happened, he added. The prime minister had "demonetized the Indian economy and destroyed cash flows to small and medium businesses, rendering millions jobless," the Congress chief commented. After the US attacked Iraq in 2003, Rahul Gandhi said, they brought a law that stopped a particular tribe in Iraq from getting jobs in the government and in the army. "It seemed like a very innocuous decision at that time. But it resulted in a large number of people joining insurgency that fought the US and caused massive casualties," he said. "It didn't end there. That insurgence slowly entered empty spaces. It entered the empty space in Iraq and in Syria and then it connected with...a horrific idea called ISIS," Mr Gandhi said. The BJP interpreted the comments as a "threat" and said Rahul Gandhi should apologise for the "veiled justification of terrorism". Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: "I do not understand the logic behind Rahul Gandhi's threat. This is a country that has rejected the idea of ISIS and earlier the idea of al-Qaeda as well... I do not understand the meaning of this threat - if you do not do this, that will happen. In fact, he or the Congress party should not say anything that will encourage such forces." BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also condemned the remarks. "Horrified to hear Congress President Rahul Gandhi justifying the formation of ISIS in Syria and giving out a veiled threat that if Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) doesn't give vision to India then soon someone else(read ISIS) would give the vision," Mr Patra said. "Unbelievable. He's a PM aspirant," he remarked, demanding the Congress president's apology.


No One Questions PM Modi": Navjot Sidhu Defends Controversial Pak Visit
MMNN:21 August 2018

Cricketer-turned-minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, attacked by critics for his visit to Pakistan for Imran Khan's oath ceremony and a controversial hug shared with the Pakistani army chief, hit back today with a detailed rebuttal. He also responded to criticism over being seated in the front row, next to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir "president" Masood Khan, during the swearing-in ceremony on Saturday. "My seat was changed at the last minute. I was told just 5 minutes before ceremony that I was to be seated on front row. I sat wherever they made me sit," Mr Sidhu said. Asserting that his visit was "not about politics" but a warm invite from an old friend, the Punjab minister pointed out that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had travelled on the bus to Lahore and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled trip to Lahore in 2015, on his way back from an official visit to Afghanistan. During that surprise stopver, he said, PM Modi had hugged then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. "No one is questioning PM Modi," he said. On criticism from his own boss, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, he said: "I was criticised by the Captain, by top Congress leaders. It is not necessary that if the Captain has spoken against me, I should too." You can't, he added pointedly, try to please everybody. "He who tried to, pleases nobody." Navjot Singh Sidhu also defended the embrace he shared with Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, saying it was an "emotional" response. "The Pak Army chief said they were making efforts to open a corridor from India's Dera Baba Nanak to the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. What followed was an emotional moment," said the loquacious cricketer-turned-politician. Amarinder Singh, who has not shared the best of ties with his minister, had earlier ticked off Mr Sidhu publicly, saying "I think it was wrong for him (Navjot Singh) to have shown the affection he did for the Pakistan Army chief, I am not in its favour... The fact is that the man (Mr Sidhu) should understand that our soldiers are being killed everyday. My own regiment lost one major and two jawans a few months ago," the Chief Minister had said. Mr Sidhu was the only Indian to attend the oath-taking ceremony at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad, on the invitation of Imran Khan, his contemporary and friend from their cricket days. His defence has not silenced criticism from the ruling BJP, which targeted him and Congress President Rahul Gandhi. "He tried to implicate India in some way. He tried to say India is not the one who talks peace and prosperity. Who gives him the license to say all that but Rahul Gandhi," railed BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra. "What are you doing, Rahul Gandhi? Have you opened a Pakistan desk in India," said Sambit Patra.


100 Doctors Leave From Maharashtra To Help Kerala Flood Victims
MMNN:20 August 2018

MUMBAI: A team of around 100 doctors and paramedical staff from Maharashtra left for Kerala today to help the flood-affected people. The doctors flew to Thiruvananthapuram in two aircraft of the Indian Air Force. Maharashtra medical education minister Girish Mahajan was on board one of the aircraft to personally monitor relief efforts in the southern state. "A team of around 100 doctors and paramedical staff has gone to Kerala. Mahajan will discuss with the Kerala government about their requirement and our doctors and paramedics will be deployed accordingly," an official said. The medical team comprises 55 doctors, including Mumbai-based JJ Hospital's dean Dr Mukund Tayde, 26 doctors from the Sassoon hospital in Pune, 14 paramedics and some members of the minister's staff, the official said. The Maharashtra government had earlier pledged to give Rs. 20 crore to Kerala, which is reeling under severe floods, the worst in 100 years. The western state had sent 30 tonne aid consisting of ready-to-eat food packets, milk powder, blankets, bed sheets, clothes, soaps and sanitary napkins to Kerala. The items were selected on the basis of a list issued by the Kerala government, an official release had said. The deadly monsoon rains have claimed 210 lives in Kerala since August 8 and displaced over 7.14 lakh people from their homes.


38 Helicopters, Hundreds Of Boats Being Used For Rescue Ops In Kerala
MMNN:18 August 2018

KOCHI/THIRVANANTHAPURAM: With 324 dead and more than three lakh people shifted to relief camps, in what is the worst floods in Kerala in a century, an unprecedented rescue and relief operation is being led by the three services along with teams of the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF. 38 helicopters are involved in air-lifting the stranded and dropping relief material; 20 aircraft are being used to ferry resources. With some areas engulfed by overflowing rivers, people can be seen wading through chest-high waters past partially submerged houses. Those stranded on rooftops can be seen waving desperately to choppers for help. "In some areas, airlifting is the only option... thousands are still marooned," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, adding he was hoping the forces could step up their support for rescuers. "I spoke to the defence minister this morning and asked for more helicopters," Mr Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram, adding that he planned to send 11 more helicopters to the worst-hit areas. About 7,000 people have been saved so far, but some 6,000 are still awaiting rescue, say officials. 10 columns of the Army and 10 teams of Engineering Task Force, comprising 790 personnel, have been deployed in the state. 82 teams of the Navy, 42 of the Coast Guard have also been deployed along with five Companies of paramilitary troops for rescue and relief operations. During the current monsoon, Kerala has been hit with over a third more rain than average, according to the weather department. Heavy rainfall has been forecast for most parts of the state today, and authorities said they planned to implement controlled releases of water from dams to manage flows and minimise damage. Nearly 100 dams, reservoirs and rivers have overflowed in the state this monsoon. Rains are expected to subside to "light to moderate" levels tomorrow, the weather department said.


End Of An Era": Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's Tallest Politician, Dies
MMNN:16 August 2018

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, three-time Prime Minister of India and one of the country's most respected politicians, has died. The announcement was made by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences or AIIMS, where the 93-year-old was being treated by a team of doctors for nine weeks. Mr Vajpayee, the BJP's tallest leader, was admitted to hospital on June 11 with a urinary tract infection and chest congestion. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the hospital twice in 24 hours and top politicians from across parties arrived as the former prime minister's health worsened on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best of efforts, we have lost him today," the statement by AIIMS said. Atal Bihari Vajpayee died at 5.05 pm. "He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades," PM Modi tweeted soon after, describing his death the end of an era. A meeting of the Union Cabinet has been convened to mourn the former prime minister. Congress president Rahul Gandhi said India had lost a "great son" "loved and respected by millions". The BJP patriarch had announced his retirement from electoral politics at a public meeting in Mumbai back in 2005. It wasn't a surprise to many. He had not been keeping well. Since 2009, the veteran politician had largely been confined to his home on Krishna Menon Marg in the heart of Delhi, away from public life due to his failing health. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was considered the gold standard of leadership in the BJP and had admirers even among rival parties. His birthday -- December 25 -- is celebrated as Good Governance Day. Since morning, BJP chief Amit Shah and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, JP Nadda and Venkaiah Naidu and several other leaders had been visiting the hospital. At the BJP headquarters in Delhi, decorations put up for Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday were taken down as a somber note took over. LK Advani, one of Mr Vajpayee's closest colleagues and his deputy in the NDA government from 1998 to 2004, was among the visitors. 52 COMMENTS "To me, Atalji was more than a senior colleague- in fact he was my closest friend for over 65 year," Mr Advani later said in a cabine


Atal Bihari Vajpayee On Life Support, PM Modi Visits Him Again
MMNN:16 August 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have rushed back to the bedside of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is on life support system at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. The Prime Minister had visited the BJP patriarch last evening, Mr Shah earlier this morning. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi too visited Mr Vajpayee in the afternoon. The hospital, in a statement, said Mr Vajpayee's condition "continues to remain the same. He is critical and on life support systems". Mr Vajpayee, a three-time Prime Minister, was admitted to the premier hospital with kidney tract infection and chest congestion on June 11. The 93-year-old -- who retired from public life after his health turned frail -- has been under the supervision of Dr Randeep Guleria, the Director of AIIMS. For over three decades, Dr Guleria, a pulmonologist, has served as personal physician to Mr Vajpayee. Doctors from various departments, including nephrology, gastroenterology and cardiology are also on the team taking care of the former Prime Minister, sources said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mr Vajpayee last evening - his fourth visit since the veteran BJP leader was admitted at AIIMS. Others on the visitors' list included Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi and Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani. Since morning today, BJP chief Amit Shah and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, JP Nadda and Venkaiah Naidu and several other leaders have visited Mr Vajpayee. Mr Shah also made a second visit this afternoon. "Doctors are treating him. He is critical. And doctors are doing their best to restore his health," Nadda told reporters. LK Advani, one of Mr Vajpayee's closest colleagues and his home minister in the NDA government from 1998 to 2004, was among the visitors. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was a minister in Mr Vajpayee's government, is expected to fly to Delhi later today to visit him. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia paid a visit to Mr Vajpayee this afternoon. Personally, I have been fortunate to receive much affection and advice from Atal-ji and an opportunity to understand public life... He was like a guardian to me. I wish him speedy recovery," tweeted Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had headed governments thrice -- for 13 days in 1996, 13 months in 1998 and served a five-year term from 1999. His was the first non-Congress government to last for a full term in office. An outstanding parliamentarian, master orator, poet and liberal, Mr Vajpayee is hugely respected across party lines.


Simultaneous Polls Not Possible Now, Says Election Panel Amid BJP Push
MMNN:14 August 2018

Simultaneous elections are not possible without a legal framework as any extension or curtailment of the term of assemblies will require a constitutional amendment, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said today, a day after the BJP made a fresh push to hold Lok Sabha and assembly elections together. Pointing at the need for a legal framework, Mr Rawat ruled out holding simultaneous elections any time soon. "If the term of some state assemblies needs to be curtailed or extended, then a constitutional amendment will be required... Logistics arrangements with regard to 100 per cent availability of VVPATs (voter-verifiable paper trail machines) will be a constraint," the Chief Election Commissioner told reporters. "On the issue of 'one nation one poll', the Election Commission had given inputs and suggestions in 2015 itself... Additional police force, polling personnel would also be needed," Mr Rawat said. BJP President Amit Shah wrote to the Law Commission on Monday, supporting holding Lok Sabha and assembly elections simultaneously. In his eight-page letter, the BJP chief said the opposition to simultaneous elections seems to be politically motivated. Opposition parties have raised concern over the proposal, saying simultaneous elections would dilute India's federal structure. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a vocal supporter of simultaneous polls. The EC is in the process of procuring new electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPATs ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The EVMs -- 13.95 lakh ballot units and 9.3 lakh control units -- will be delivered by September 30; 16.15 lakh VVPATs will be delivered before November-end, Mr Rawat had earlier said. More VVPATs are being procured as backup in case these machines malfunction and need to be replaced during elections. If simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies are held in 2019, the EC will need some 24 lakh EVMs, double the number needed to hold only the parliamentary elections. During their discussion with the Law Commission on May 16, EC officials said they would need Rs. 4,500 crore to buy 12 lakh more EVMs and an equal number VVPAT machines. That estimate was based on current prices


Super Emergency," Says Trinamool As Team Is Stopped At Airport In Assam
MMNN:13 August 2018

Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid said he was shot at this afternoon at the Constitution Club near parliament, an area that has turned into a high-security fortress ahead of the Independence Day. The attacker managed to escape, said Mr Khalid, who is unhurt. Mr Khalid told NDTV that a man came from behind, punched him and pushed him to the ground. "I was coming back from a tea-stall and was at the gate of the Constitution Club when I was attacked. He had a pistol. I kept holding his hand to stop him from firing. He ran to the other side and fired. My friends overpowered him but he escaped," he said. In June, Umar Khalid had filed a complaint with the police, saying he had received death threats from gangster Ravi Pujari. This afternoon, the student leader had gone to the Constitution Club to speak on mob lynchings at an event -- "Khauff Se Azaadi", held by an organisation named 'United Against Hate' -- when he was attacked. It was ironic, he said, that he was attacked in the national capital when he was supposed to talk on lynchings. "I don't know who they were. The message is clear that you should live in fear, that you can be killed anytime if you speak against the government. Gauri Lankesh, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare were killed. Dr Kafil Khan's brother was attacked. We are raising our voice, what's wrong with that," he told NDTV and said he will file a complaint. The police are trying to verfiy the sequence of events. "It is being verified. He says he was attacked. Somebody pounced on Umar Khalid and pushed, thereafter he tried to fire at Khalid. But the person immediately couldn't fire. People started chasing him thereafter according to Khalid the attacker fired in the air," said senior police officer Madhur Verma. After the attack, fellow JNU student and activist Shehla Rashid said she was shocked and worried. "Shocking and highly condemnable. I spoke to Umar. He's okay, but we should be very very worried about his safety," she tweeted. The Congress has also condemned the attack and said "there is no place for violence in a democratic society". Dalit leader and Independent lawmaker from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani, who also alleged in June that he received death threats from Pujari, tweeted: Mr Khalid, who was one of the students accused of sedition along with Kanhaiya Kumar, had received another death threat two years ago. It happened around the time the police was looking for him in connection with the sedition case for allegedly organising an event against the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.


Intruder Rams Farooq Abdullah's Home With Car, Runs Inside; Shot Dead
MMNN:4 August 2018

A man was shot dead today after he forcibly drove into the Jammu home of former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and son Omar, walked in and vandalised the house. The two National Conference leaders, who have the highest Z-plus category security, were not at home when the incident took place. One security official was injured in the scuffle with the man, said to be in his mid-twenties. The Jammu police found an Aadhaar card on his person that identified him as Murad Ali Shah of the border district of Poonch. He was not carrying any weapon. It was only a case of forced entry into a VIP area and he smashed the lobby area and attacked the CRPF also," SD Jamwal, Jammu's top police officer said. Mr Jamwal did not elaborate on the circumstances that led the CRPF personnel to kill the man. Jammu police officer Vivek Gupta said the man had a scuffle with the duty officer before he entered the house, injuring the security officer. The man's father later lashed out at security forces for his son's death. "I want to know why was he killed. Where were the security guards when he breached the gate? Why didn't they arrest him?" the father of the intruder said. Murad Ali Shah's father runs a gun shop at Bantalab in Jammu Photographs of the house show a broken teapoy, parts of a broken wooden door and flowers strewn on the floor of the home in Bhatindi in the outskirts of Jammu. CRPF personnel shot him dead near the stairs that lead to the bedroom, Press Trust India quoted police as saying. Omar Abdullah said initial reports suggest the intruder was able to gain entry through the front door and in to the upper lobby of the house. SP Vaid, the state's top police officer said a case has been registered and an enquiry is being conducted into the breach of security. "He was warned but he didn't listen to the warning of CRPF security guard posted in the gate," the Central Reserve Police Force said in a statement. Farooq Abdullah, a sitting Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, is in New Delhi for the ongoing parliament session.


"Shameful": Nitish Kumar Breaks Silence On Bihar Shelter Home Rapes
MMNN:3 August 2018

Under opposition attack on a government-run shelter home in Bihar where over 30 girls were raped and tortured, Nitish Kumar today broke his silence and described the case as "shameful", promising strict, uncompromising action. "What has happened has shamed us. It is a sin. Such cases should not happen again and there should be an institutional mechanism. Those responsible for this should be taught a lesson," the Bihar Chief Minister said at the launch of a government welfare scheme for girls. "We have always said the guilty will not be spared, and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has said on the floor of the assembly that we would like the CBI probe to be monitored by the High Court," he said. Nitish Kumar has been repeatedly targeted by the opposition, mainly RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who has accused him of trying to shield the accused because of their links with the ruling Janata Dal United. At the home in Muzaffarpur, girls -- one as as young as seven -- were drugged, raped, forced to sleep naked and scalded with boiling water by its politically connected owner and its staff, a police charge-sheet has revealed. Ten people, including owner Brajesh Thakur, have been charged in the document that detailed a network of police, politicians, administration and criminals exploiting and torturing the girls. Brajesh Thakur, seen grinning to the cameras while being arrested, runs several non-profits. There are also allegations that Bihar's Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma's husband visited the shelter home. The wife of an official arrested in the case has claimed that the minister's husband was a frequent visitor. Tejashwi Yadav seized the allegations to hit out at the Chief Minister. "Against heinous institutional mass rape in Muzaffarpur... sponsored and protected by Nitish Kumar government, we will stage a dharna on Saturday," tweeted Yadav Junior, who has taken over his party's RJD leadership in the absence of jailed father Lalu Yadav. A team of Bihar's top body to protect child rights had sent a scathing report about conditions in the home last year but the district administration and social welfare department allegedly sat on the report.


"Super Emergency," Says Trinamool As Team Is Stopped At Airport In Assam
MMNN:2 August 2018

Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress lawmakers have been stopped at the airport in Assam's Silchar, where they were planning to campaign against a draft citizens' list that has left out four million people from the state. The eight-member team of legislators and parliamentarians has not budged from the arrival lounge of the Silchar airport for hours. A large police presence at the airport greeted the delegation as it landed around 1 pm. When the lawmakers tried to exit the airport, they were stopped by a district official who said they "cannot go any further" and handed them a piece of paper explaining that large gatherings were banned in the district from last night. "Nothing in this paper tells me why I can't go into town," said Rajya Sabha member Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, who was leading the delegation. The argument soon escalated and Mr Roy was physically pushed. "Our members were roughed up. Sukhendu Shekhar Roy has a pacemaker, he was also roughed up," said outraged Trinamool leader Derek O'Brien in Delhi. Women MPs were also hurt, he said, adding: "This is a super-emergency. What is going on?" Officials at the Silchar airport said restrictions had been imposed in the district and large gatherings had been banned. The Trinamool team was to address locals and speak to residents in Silchar. A large number of Trinamool supporters gathered outside the airport and shouted slogans. Nobody was allowed to enter or leave the airport. Mamata Banerjee and her party leaders have aggressively campaigned against the citizens' list or National Register of Citizens for Assam, which was meant to be an exercise in identifying illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The West Bengal Chief Minister says lakhs of people have been left out of the list over electoral politics and has warned of "civil war and bloodbath". The BJP, which rules Assam, has accused Ms Banerjee of fanning flames which are dormant, and trying to incite unrest.


"Arrest Me": Amit Shah's Dare To Mamata Banerjee Over Kolkata Rally
MMNN:1 August 2018

BJP chief Amit Shah's rally in Kolkata this month has come under a cloud again, with the Delhi unit of the party accusing the Bengal police of refusing permission. The BJP chief, who has handed his party a target of 50 per cent Lok Sabha seats in Bengal, plans to visit Kolkata on August 11. While the party is making plans to hold a protest outside the city police headquarters, Amit Shah said, "I am going. Let them arrest me if they want". Sources in the party's state unit, however, said the police have not refused permission, they are yet to respond. Four years ago, Kolkata's civic body had refused permission for a rally of Amit Shah. The rally was finally held after t he BJP got a go ahead from the Calcutta High Court. The face -off had fuelled the animosity between the BJP and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress. Bengal is one of the few non-BJP, non-Congress states and ranks high on the target list of Mr Shah along with Kerala. As of now, the BJP has minimal presence in the assembly with just three seats. In 2014, the party won just two Lok Sabha seats from the state. But over the last two years, the BJP has managed to dislodge the Left and become the main opposition party in the state.


Priest Who Allegedly Offered Deal To Scrap Rape Case Asked To Step Down
MMNN:30 July 2018

After the family of a Kerala-based nun alleged that a priest made a phone call offering "land, building and safety" if she withdrew her rape complaint against a Bishop, the priest has been asked to step down. The Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) Congregation termed it as an unfortunate incident and clarified that they have nothing to do with the priest's alleged offer of land to nuns. "Father James has been asked to step down. An enquiry has been initiated," it said. The audio of the alleged phone call to a nun who has stood by the rape survivor is being investigated by the police. A 46-year-old nun has alleged that Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mullackal sexually abused her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. She went to the police only after the Bishop filed a complaint against her and five others, accusing them of threatening and blackmailing him. The Bishop, who has been booked for rape by Kerala police, has claimed innocence and said he is a victim of vendetta for taking disciplinary action against the nun. In the leaked phone call, one priest after introducing himself to the 30-year-old nun says: "We can buy some land, build a convent and shift you all there safely. This won't happen tomorrow but everything has a time. We can think about it." He also speaks about threats if the woman doesn't withdraw her complaint. "If you all are adamant on your stand, this won't happen. If you withdraw your complaint and go to one of your convents in Odisha, Andhra, threats may arise. But if you move independently and go under some other Bishop, there won't be any threats. It will be good if you think about this and if you decide to do this positively, I will help you in any way possible. I can't do everything, but will help in whatever I can do. In the sense that we can buy some land, build a house, shift them. They will support. I suggested this because they have said they will support," he says. The nun asks who will "support" the family, the Jalandhar Diocese? He answers with a "yes". "If we have to buy 10 acres of land and build a decent building for everyone, it's not easy. So they will help, but their condition is that this case must be withdrawn," he explains. The nun refuses the offer and tells him they won't withdraw any case. "We must get justice. We don't desire to lose any life, or sell our dignity," she says. The priest, who allegedly acted as a mediator, tries to persuade her and says, "I've understood the situation. I respect your feeling. I was just giving my suggestion. So they are actually thinking about buying some land for this in Erumely and Ranni area. So in that case, you can stay in that compound itself." NDTV has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the leaked audio. "We have got the audio. We have taken the statement of the nun. We will file a case today after verifying the authenticity of the audio and establishing the identity of the priest," top police sources told NDTV. Speaking to NDTV, the family of the nun said, "We have been waiting for justice from the church. When the church failed to offer any help, we were forced to go to the police. We are not worried about the lives of our children. When someone becomes a nun or priest, they are willing to lay down everything for Christ. But there are many Judas' in the church, ready to betray Christ and people." National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma, who recently met the nun, had told NDTV, "The nun claims that the church has not been taking any action despite her complaints because the Bishop is quite influential in Punjab and Kerala.


Make Pankaja Munde CM For An Hour": Shiv Sena Pokes BJP On Quota Stir
MMNN:28 July 2018

Taking a dig at Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Shiv Sena today said that his cabinet colleague Pankaja Munde should be made the chief minister for at least an hour to clear the Maratha reservation file. Ms Munde, who is the rural development minister, in a veiled swipe at Mr Fadnavis over the Maratha reservation issue, had recently said that she would not have delayed the decision if she was in-charge. "Had the file of Maratha reservation been on my table, I would not have delayed it even for a moment. This issue is being delayed as it is pending in the high court," Ms Munde had said while speaking to Maratha protesters at Parli in Beed district. In an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana', the Shiv Sena said Ms Munde's statement, in other words, means the government was only dilly-dallying on the issue. "If Pankaja Munde can clear the file without any problems, she should be made the chief minister with the consent of everybody for at least for an hour, so that a decision is taken on the Maratha reservation file," it said. "Pankaja Munde's stand needs to be understood. There is no reason to believe that she intends to play politics over the issue. If she can request the prime minister to intervene, why can't Fadnavis go to Delhi and do that as well?" it asked. The party taunted PM Narendra Modi saying he is usually not in Delhi and has no interest left in the country's affairs. Even if the chief minister goes to Delhi to seek the Centre's help in resolving the Maratha issue, it is difficult to find the PM as he is mostly abroad, it said. The Sena said that crushing the protests is the policy of the government. "The Patel quota agitation in Gujarat was crushed. Hardik Patel was its face and hence it was easy for the government to stamp out the protest. Serious charges like sedition were slapped against Hardik and he was sent to jail," it said. "The government might have used the same method to crush the Maratha agitation in Maharashtra. However, it faces a difficult situation here as the entire Maratha community is leading the protest," the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said. The Sena, said Mr Fadnavis alone could not be blamed for the deteriorating law and order situation on the issue as tall promises made before the polls later create problems. "Promises (of reservation) made to the Dhangar and Maratha communities should be fulfilled now or else the file should be sent to Pankaja Munde for clearance so that the issue gets resolved," it said. Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil says Mr Fadnavis keeps working till 3 am, the Sena said in the editorial. "This must be true. The CM must have been spending sleepless nights due to the Maratha agitation and if he shuts his eyes, Pankaja might clear the file. Therefore, the CM should now find that file and fulfil the demand of the Maratha community," the Sena said. Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 per cent of the state's population, have been demanding 16 per cent reservation. The community had earlier taken out silent marches across the state to highlight their demands, prominent among them being that of reservation. The stir, however, turned violent earlier this week with the protesters pelting stones, torching vehicles, blocking roads and stopping train services in several parts of the state. The violence began after a 27-year-old protester from Aurangabad jumped to his death in Godavari river on July 23.


West Bengal To "Bangla": State Approves Name Change, Over To Centre Now
MMNN:26 July 2018

KOLKATA: West Bengal is a step closer to becoming "Bangla", with all parties in the state approving the name-change in the assembly today. The new name needs the centre's clearance. It will be "Bangla" in all languages, according to a leader of the state's ruling Trinamool Congress. On this at least, the ruling party concurs with its rival Left, which had suggested the name in 1999. Two years ago, a similar move had been stalled after the Mamata Banerjee government cleared a new name with three versions -- Bangla in Bengali, Bangaal in Hindi and Bengal in English. The centre suggested one uniform name. Mamata Banerjee has been angling for a new name for her state for some time now. One of her reasons is that West Bengal comes last in state lists, which means the Chief Minister gets to speak last in meetings, or often not at all It may mean a bump up for the chief minister but the name "Bangla" also has a downside. Many Bengalis find it difficult to overlook the other meaning of the word; Bangla is a term used for local unbranded liquor. The state is currently called "Paschim Banga" or "Paschim Bangla" in Bengali. In 2011, the previous Left government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had cleared the renaming of the state to "Paschimbanga". It was never cleared. Independence and partition in 1947 led to the division of the province of Bengal into West Bengal, which stayed in India, and East Bengal, which is now part of Bangladesh


Mumbai Bandh Called Off By Maratha Groups After Protests
MMNN:25 July 2018

MUMBAI: After day-long violence in pockets of Maharashtra, a Maratha group enforcing a bandh to press its demand for reservation in jobs and education, called off the strike in Mumbai city. Protests and strikes, however, are in progress in areas surrounding the financial capital. Through the day, protesters blocked arterial roads, including the Mumbai-Pune highway and the Eastern Expressway, and forced shops to shut. Local train routes were blocked in Jogeshwari and near Thane. Violence was witnessed in parts of the state on Tuesday after a protester committed suicide by jumping into a river in Aurangabad. Here are the top 10 updates on the Maratha protests: The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is spearheading the agitation, had called for the shutdown in Mumbai, the financial heart of the country. Another group, the Sakal Maratha Samaj, had called for a bandh today in Navi Mumbai and Panvel. The protests in Navi Mumbai, roughly 20km off Mumbai, are on. In Kalamboli, one of the key areas of Navi Mumbai, the police had to use batons and teargas to control protesters, who were squatting on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Stones were thrown at two buses in Navi Mumbai. The protesters also forced shops to close in many areas. In Raigadh district's Kamothe, protesters took to the streets, shutting down shops and holding a bike rally. This morning, protesters blocked Mumbai-bound traffic on Eastern Expressway, one of the busiest and most important roads that is the north-south artery of the city.The Sion Panvel highway was also completely blocked. Jagannath Sonavne, a third protester who attempted suicide by consuming poison yesterday in Aurangabad's Deogaon Rangari, died in a hospital today. Posters of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis were torn in parts of Thane, near Mumbai. Besides the reservation issue, the Maratha Kranti Morcha is upset with the Chief Minister over his allegation that some members of the community were planning violence during his visit to a temple at Pandharpur town in Solapur district. The peaceful protests by the Marathas suddenly turned violent on Tuesday after the death of a 28-year-old man, Kakasaheb Dattatreya Shinde, who committed suicide by jumping into the Godavari River on Monday. A second protester made a suicide attempt by jumping off a bridge in Aurangabad and was seriously injured. One constable died and nine other policemen were injured in stone-throwing as protesters clashed with the police and torched vehicles on Tuesday. Shiv Sena lawmaker Chandrakant Khaire was manhandled by protesters in Aurangabad when he went to attend the last rites of the farmer. Quotas for Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 per cent of the state's population, has been a hugely contentious issue.


Mehul Choksi Moves To Antigua, Gets Local Passport, Say Officials
MMNN:24 July 2018

NEW DELHI: Diamond trader Mehul Choksi, wanted for a Rs. 11,000 crore bank fraud along with his nephew Nirav Modi, has moved to Antigua and got a local passport, reported news agency Press Trust of India, quoting sources. The two men and their families skipped the country earlier this year. Last month, Centre's probe agency Enforcement Directorate told a Mumbai court that both should be declared as "fugitive economic offenders" and their assets worth Rs. 3,500 crores confiscated. Mehul Choksi has refused to return to India, saying he would be killed by mobs if he was brought back. His appeal for a cancellation of the non-bailable warrants against him, read: "There have been various cases of mob lynching in India... Even the applicant faces a similar threat as there are several persons who have grievances and anger against him (Mehul Choksi)." The application said Mehul Choksi is concerned that his former employees and debtors may harm him, and he would not be safe in jail from other inmates either


We Are MLA's Men," Claimed Alwar Mob Attackers: Victim's Friend To Cops
MMNN:23 July 2018

ALWAR: It took over three hours for the police in Rajasthan to take a mob attack victim to a hospital just 20 minutes away. Rakbar Khan, 28, bled to death as policemen, before taking him to hospital, arranged a shelter for his cows and paused for tea and snacks. They even gave the wounded man a wash, claiming he was "too muddy". Rakbar Khan and his friend Aslam were attacked at a village in Alwar by cow vigilantes who saw them walking with cows and suspected they were smuggling the animals. The Home Ministry today sought a report from the Rajasthan government over his death. The police reached the spot around 1 am, late on Friday night. It was around 4 am on Saturday when they reached hospital with Rakbar, who was declared dead. The Rajasthan police has asked a top-level panel to investigate the outrageous delay in taking Rakbar to hospital. "Rakbar had severe injuries due to the beating. He died of internal bleeding," a doctor said. A key witness who will be examined in the case, Rakbar's friend Aslam, gave different versions of the story on Saturday and on Sunday. Speaking to NDTV on Saturday, Aslam said: "I could not tell who the attackers were." He said he ran away when he heard the sound of firing. Exactly 48 hours later on Sunday evening, he said in a written statement to the police - known as a parcha bayaan - that he had heard people in the mob saying "you can't do anything to us, we are the MLA's men". The mob killing by cow vigilantes, the latest in a series of such attacks, has spurred a political row in the state where elections will be held later this year. The Congress targeted the state's ruling BJP. Congress president Rahul Gandhi commented that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "brutal new India". Home Minister Rajnath Singh refused to comment on the mob attack. His ministry has ordered a report on what happened.


You May Call Me Pappu, I Don't Hate You": Rahul Gandhi Hug Startles PM
MMNN:20 July 2018

You may call me Pappu, but I don't hate you," Rahul Gandhi said, looking directly at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then walking across to embrace him. It may not have been an "earthquake" but the Congress president's jaw-dropping gesture during the no-confidence motion debate in parliament came close to it, felt many lawmakers. The Congress president had been ridiculed for saying in a past session that if he was allowed to speak in the house, there would be an "earthquake". Earlier, in his sharpest attack on the Prime Minister on subjects ranging from the Rafale deal to GST (Goods and Services Tax), demonetisation and foreign policy, Rahul Gandhi had said repeatedly: "You can't look me in the eye." The PM, sitting directly across, smiled. Then came the twist. "You can abuse me, you can call me Pappu, but I don't have a speck of hatred against you. I will take out this hatred out of you and turn it into love. I am the Congress," said Mr Gandhi. He quickly left his seat and walked over to the prime minister, who was seen making a questioning gesture with his hand. The PM looked stumped as Mr Gandhi leaned in and enveloped the prime minister in a bear hug. As the Congress chief started walking away, the PM recovered and grabbed his sleeve. He was seen saying something into Mr Gandhi's ear and patting him on his back. Back in his seat, the 47-year-old was seen winking at fellow Congress MPs. "Score" -- many Congress lawmakers appeared to say without words. Sonia Gandhi told NDTV she was "very happy" with son Rahul's performance and "I am happy the media is changing too." Lawmakers across the house cheered and thumped their desks wildly. Opposition members gave Mr Gandhi a standing ovation. Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor used the hashtag #BhukampAaGaya. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who was seen grinning throughout the Rahul Gandhi-PM Modi Instagram moment, said "such conduct is against the rules of the house." Along with some Congress MPs, even ruling party members were seen on their feet. One exception was minister Harsimrat Kaur of the Akali Dal, who said: "This is a house, not for Munnabhai's pappi jhappi." The ruling BJP was a tad more sporting as it tweeted: "We cannot thank you enough for the entertainment!


Amit Shah Dials Uddhav Thackeray, Sena To Vote With Government Tomorrow
MMNN:19 July 2018

NEW DELHI: The BJP's crotchety ally Shiv Sena decided to back the government in tomorrow's no-confidence motion after party chief Amit Shah dialed Uddhav Thackeray this morning. The conversation was part of the hectic consultations that have been on since morning on both sides of the political divide. The NDA's numbers ensure a comfortable outcome for the government. The big question is the decision of fence-sitters in view of next year's general elections. Sources in Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK and Naveen Patnaik's BJD indicated that the parties will abstain from voting, which will help the government by lowering the halfway mark. Telangana Rashtra Samithi is also expected to abstain. Here are the top 10 updates in this big story: The NDA has 312 members (without the Speaker) in the 533-member house. The majority mark, however, stands at 266 as 10 seats are vacant. The Congress and the other parties that support the no-trust motion have 172 seats. The AIADMK, Naveen Patnaik's BJD and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi together command 68 seats. Indicating that his party will not support the no-trust vote, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami said: "The TDP has moved this motion to highlight issues in Andhra Pradesh. No state supported Tamil Nadu when we stalled proceedings in parliament over Cauvery". Sources said this morning, BJP chief Amit Shah spoke to the party's cantankerous ally Shiv Sena, after its leader Sanjay Raut said Uddhav Thackeray will decide which way their 18 lawmakers will vote. Uddhav Thackeray is expected to convey his decision to his partymen in the evening. During the budget session, when Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party brought the no-trust motion against the government, Sena announced that it would abstain from voting. The opposition has made it clear the discussion and not the voting is their objective in this no trust motion. Asked about the matter, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, however, told NDTV, "Who says we don't have the numbers". The debate in Loka Sabha will be held from 11 am on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be present in house, will respond to it. Yesterday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the opposition may have no confidence on PM Modi's government, "but I want to make it absolutely clear that the people of the country have full confidence". The No Confidence motion -- an extension of Andhra Pradesh's demand for special status that would involve extensive financial benefits for the state - was moved yesterday. By evening, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the matter will be taken up on Friday, stunning many opposition leaders who didn't expect it to come up before next week. The BJP, which was accused of stalling the no-trust move last time, is seen as changing its approach. Sources said it was because the party felt that once the no-trust vote is debated and defeated, the opposition would not have any excuse to disrupt proceedings in parliament.


Everyone Can Go": Top Court On Entry Of Women In Sabarimala Temple
MMNN:18 July 2018

NEW DELHI: The right of a woman to pray is a constitutional right and does not depend on laws, the Supreme Court said today while hearing a bunch of petitions that challenge the traditional ban on the entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in the famous Sabarimala temple. "Every woman is also the creation of God and why should there be discrimination against them in employment or worship," said Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge constitutional bench that was hearing the case. In October last year, the top court referred the issue to a Constitution bench, framing five "significant" questions. The chief is these is whether the traditional ban amounts to discrimination against women and violates their fundamental rights under the Constitution. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, also has Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, and Indu Malhotra. Today, state minister K Surendran said women should be allowed to offer prayers at the Sabarimala Temple, voicing the longstanding stance of the state's ruling CPM.


Activist Swami Agnivesh Attacked Allegedly By BJP Workers In Jharkhand
MMNN:17 July 2018

JHARKHAND: Social Activist Swami Agnivesh was punched, kicked and pushed to the ground allegedly by BJP Yuva Morcha workers in Jharkhand today. The alleged BJP workers had shown black flags and raised slogans against him. The activist had offered a dialogue, but got abuses in return. Chief Minister Raghubar Das has asked the police to thoroughly investigate the incident. Swami Agnivesh, was attending an event in Pakur, about 365 km from state capital Ranchi. He was flanked by tribals who were holding bows and arrows. He was attacked by a mob as soon as he came out of his hotel. The alleged BJP workers were chanting "Jai Sri Ram" as they thrashed the 80-year-old activist. "I am against any sort of violence. I am known as a peace-loving person. I don't know why I was attacked," Swami Agnivesh told NDTV. The BJP has condemned the attack, but in the same line added that we shouldn't see the attack in isolation and we have to consider Swami Agnivesh's "track record". "There is no place for violence in democracy. But Swami Agnivesh should have organised for his security," P Shahdeo, Jharkhand BJP spokesperson, said. Swami Agnivesh said he had informed the administration about his arrival. But there were no policemen around even after the protesters had gathered outside his hotel. Local reporters said BJP youth wing's workers were protesting his visit, but he was completely taken aback when he was attacked, he said. "I had offered to hold a dialogue with them. But nobody came to speak to me. I was going to a sammelan (seminar) with my tribal friends when they launched an attack. They were carrying black flags and without any warning pounced on me. They punched, kicked and dragged me on the ground. They also used cuss words," Swami Agnivesh told The activist likened the attack to mob lynchings that have been reported in several states in the past one year. In all the cases, the blood-hungry mobs had consumed rumours on social media, especially WhatsApp, about cow smuggling and presence of child kidnappers in their area. "I pleaded with them with folded hands... But they didn't think it was necessary to tell me why they were raining blows on me. They just went on and on," Swami Agnivesh said. Swami Agnivesh was rushed to hospital where doctors are running tests on him. He says that the stone that missed his head landed on his ribs and he is in immense pain. The attack appears to be pre-meditated, police said. They have detained 20 men and are sifting though the CCTV footage before making further arrests.


BJP Legislator's Wife Accuses Husband Of Having Affair With College Teen
MMNN:13 July 2018

JAMMU: A BJP legislator's wife today publicly accused her husband of having an extra-marital affair with a college student and marrying her, in a fresh twist to a case that has seen the MLA appear before the disciplinary committee of the party. Gagan Bhagat, BJP legislator from R S Pura constituency in Jammu district, has been accused by his wife Monika Sharma that he is living with the student after marrying her. The student's father, an ex-servicemen, has also accused Gagan Bhagat of abducting his daughter from a college in Punjab. The student and the legislator have denied the charges, calling them an attempt to defame him. Today, Ms Sharma negated Gagan Bhagat's claim he was paying her Rs. 1 lakh a month and said "not a single penny was given by him despite signing a maintenance form before a judge in April". She made an appeal to the BJP central leadership and also Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying a "daughter of your own family is seeking justice, not only for myself and my children but also for that girl who had just turned 19". Ms Sharma said she and the BJP MLA are married for 13 years. Her accusations come a day after Bhagat appeared before the disciplinary committee of the BJP in Jammu to clarify his position. Gagan Bhagat and Monika Sharma appeared before the committee separately amid protests led by the student's grandfather. The legislator refuted the allegations and claimed he and his wife were in the process of getting divorced. His wife, however, countered Gagan Bhagat's stand and told reporters that though they were living separately for nearly 10 months, no suit has been filed before any court for divorce. She was accompanied by their 12-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. Monika Sharma, also the state secretary of BJP's women wing, said she remained quiet for nearly one year in the interest of her family and keeping in mind the future of their children. "I did not have evidence to prove it (then), but now I have the proof and I have presented it before the committee yesterday," she said. "I have evidence they are married," Ms Sharma said, showing an incomplete marriage agreement reportedly signed by Gagan Bhagat and the student. She also showed a purported Aadhaar card of the student, which showed her as Gagan Bhagat's wife and her address on the document as Gandhi Nagar in Jammu. She said she managed to get the marriage certificate before the notary signed it and has cross-checked the Aadhaar card for forgery. "My mother-in-law visited the residence of the girl to inform her family about her affair with the MLA. On one occasion, she escaped on seeing me, leaving behind her phone. The selfies taken from the phone leave no doubt that they had an extra-marital affair and that they were married." During a visit to Ludhiana in November, she said her son, who was accompanying his father, lived with the student who had joined them there. "If they want to live together, let them admit it openly," she said. "My appeal to my party is that if a person holding such a position indulges in these things what will happen to the society." She said Gagan Bhagat visited her a few days ago and asked her not to appear before the BJP disciplinary committee. "Every time I have asked him to leave the girl he told me she might file a case against him if he dumps her," she said. COMMENT Asked whether she faces any threat, she said a "threat perception is there. My family is saying that they heard you will be killed, or meet an accident or roughed up."


In Outreach To Farmers In Punjab, PM Modi Talks Of Support Price Hike
MMNN:11 July 2018

MUKTSAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reached out to farmers with an address to a "thanksgiving" rally in Punjab, once known for its "Green Revolution". At the rally attended by thousands, he said he salutes the "hard working farmers from all over the country". "The farmer should have been the first to be uplifted. But for decades, you were ignored by the party that ruled India since Independence," he said, taking a dig at the Congress, which wrenched the state from its ruling Akali-BJP combine in last year's assembly elections. The "thanksgiving rally" in Muktsar -- 280 km from state capital Chandigarh -- was organised by the BJP and ally Akali Dal to mark the recent hike in minimum support price for 14 summer crops. The hike was the biggest during the four years of NDA rule, which will cost the government nearly Rs. 15,000 crore in public funds. "Our farmer brothers can now breathe easy... they can earn better... they can sleep peacefully... because of the MSP increase," the Prime Minister said. But this, he said, will give sleepless nights to the Congress. "They never thought we could make this happen. No one in the Congress is daring to come out and speak, because they know that did nothing for 60 years". The hike in support prices -- one of the pre-election promises of the BJP -- comes on the heels of massive farmer protests across the country. They also had the support of the opposition, which highlights farmers' suicides to accuse the government of being insensitive to their needs. Ridiculing what the government has called "a historic decision" Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has compared the MSP hike to applying band-aid to a "massive haemorrhage"


Rajinikanth's Wife Latha To Face Trial For Fraud, Says Supreme Court
MMNN:10 July 2018

CHENNAI: Actor-politician Rajinikanth's wife Latha Rajinikanth will have to face trial in a fraud case after she failed to pay dues to the tune of Rs. 6.20 crore to advertising firm Ad Bureau. The Supreme Court today said investigations will be made into the case against her and she will be put on trial after a chargesheet has been filed. The dispute started in 2014 over the movie "Kochadaiiyaan", starring Rajinikanth and Deepika Padukone, which was the directorial debut of Rajinikanth's younger daughter Soundarya. A loan of Rs. 10 crore was taken from the firm for the post-production work for the Rs. 125-crore film. The firm later went to court, alleging that Mediaone Global Entertainment Ltd, in which Latha Rajinikanth was a director, had defaulted on payment and Rs. 6.2 crore remained pending. Mediaone Global Entertainment Ltd was to refund Rs. 10 crore along with Rs. 1.2 crore promised as "guaranteed profit". The firm also said they had got involved with the project on Latha Rajinikanth's personal guarantee. The Karnataka High Court, however, cancelled legal proceedings against Latha Rajnikanth, saying the case was not of fraud but breach of agreement. The Supreme Court set aside that order, saying the High Court should not have cancelled the complaint at the initial stage. In February, the top court ordered that the balance payment be made within three months. Latha Rajanikanth assured the court that the dues will be cleared. The superstar's wife was pulled up by the Supreme Court last week for failing to ensure repayment. Asking why the payment wasn't made, the court said, "If you don't pay, then be ready to face trial."


PM Modi's 'Bail-Gaadi' Dig At Congress On Shashi Thaoor's Day In Court
MMNN:7 July 2018

JAIPUR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today tore into the Congress, calling the party a "bail-gaadi" and said several of its senior leaders were out on bail. The dig, a play on the Hindi word for a bullock cart, appeared to be aimed at Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor who received protection from arrest in a case into his wife's death today. "Several leaders who are called stalwarts of the Congress and former ministers are out on bail these days," PM Modi said at a public rally in Jaipur where he pitched for the BJP's re-election in Rajasthan state polls due by the end of the year. He presented the Congress in stark contrast to the BJP, saying "We have no tolerance towards corruption. All our efforts are aimed at building a new India." Besides Mr Tharoor, who's anticipatory bail was converted to a regular bail by a court in Delhi today in the Sunanda Pushkar case, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi too are out on bail in the National Herald case of cheating and misappropriation. PM Modi said people were well aware of the "intentions" of the Congress party and criticised it for "questioning the capabilities of the army" - an apparent reference to the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 2016. "It is unfortunate that political opponents also committed a sin by raising questions on the capabilities of the army. This has never happened before and the people will not forgive those who are doing this kind of politics," he said. Saying that BJP had the singular agenda of development, he said, "Never forget what the previous government left in Rajasthan." The Prime Minister inaugurated several infrastructure projects said to be worth over Rs. 2,100 crore in the state today. PM Modi's visit is said to be a precursor to the BJP's official campaign for the Rajasthan assembly election slated to take place later this year.


On Jammu And Kashmir, Rajnath Singh Says Peace Through "Honest" Governance
MMNN:5 July 2018

SRINAGAR: On his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir after the imposition of Governor's rule, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today that peace and stability could be brought to the state through an honest, effective and efficient administration. Mr Singh also reviewed the security situation in the state at a high-level meeting attended by Governor NN Vohra, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and top civil and police officials in Srinagar. "The dream of a developed and prosperous Jammu and Kashmir will be realised when there is peace and normalcy in the state. It is our firm resolve to bring peace, stability and prosperity through an honest, effective and efficient administration for the problems facing the state," a statement quoted him as saying. Discussing the way forward for the state, Mr Singh said development and good governance had remained elusive for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the central government was committed to taking all possible measures to bring accountability and transparency in the system. "With a renewed focus on good governance and development, the Centre is looking forward to kindle new aspirations and hopes amongst the people of the state," he said. The home minister said the solution to problems lies in empowerment of the people and strengthening the institutions of local self-government. COMMENT Jammu and Kashmir was placed under governor's rule on June 20 after the BJP withdrew support to alliance partner PDP, prompting Mehbooba Mufti to resign as chief minister.


AAP Ki Dilli, Says Top Court, Emphasis On Elected Government: 10 Facts
MMNN:4 July 2018

NEW DELHI: The Lieutenant Governor does not have independent decision-making powers in Delhi and the real power must lie with the elected government, the Supreme Court ruled today in a spectacular legal victory for Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the long-running fight over who's the boss in the national capital. "The states should enjoy freedom without unsolicited interference from the centre...popular will cannot be allowed to lose its purpose," the court said, asserting that the Lt Governor must not be obstructionist. "A big victory for people of Delhi", said Mr Kejriwal, whose three-year rule in Delhi has been marked by protests and dharnas, most recently on sofas at Lt Governor Anil Baijal's home last month. "There is no room for absolutism and there is no room for anarchism also," the court said. Here are the 10 latest developments: "The cabinet must convey all decisions to the Lieutenant Governor but his concurrence is not required in all matters," the court said, making it clear that the Lt Governor is not the boss. The top court emphasised that except for anything related to land, police and public order, the Lt Governor has no independent decision-making powers under the constitution. "The Lt Governor is an administrator in a limited sense and is not the Governor. He is bound by the advice of cabinet advice in matters other than those exempted," the court said. Reading out the verdict, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the Lt Governor needs to work harmoniously with the Delhi government. In 2016, AAP went to the Supreme Court against the High Court's order that the Lt Governor is the administrative boss of Delhi. The top court, disagreeing with the high court today, said the Lt Governor "should not act in a mechanical manner and stall decisions of the Delhi cabinet". Supreme Court's landmark ruling comes after Mr Kejriwal spent nine days protesting in a visitors' room at the Lt Governor Anil Baijal's house to get his attention. AAP wanted Mr Baijal to step in and end an officers' boycott that started after Delhi's top bureaucrat, Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, alleged in February that he had been attacked by AAP lawmakers at a late night meeting at Mr Kejriwal's home. After the officers agreed to talks, Mr Kejriwal ended the protest but started a signature campaign for full statehood for Delhi, a demand that was pushed by the BJP until it took power at the centre. The tussle started months after the AAP swept to power in Delhi in 2015, winning 67 of 70 seats and reducing the BJP to only three. AAP alleges that the BJP-led central government has since been exacting revenge and using the Lt Governor to block every decision taken by the Kejriwal government. Days after AAP came to power, the centre dropped a rule that required the Lt Governor to consult the elected government on every decision relating to police, public order and bureaucratic appointments.


In Delhi Family Deaths, Diary Notes Reveal One Man's Delusions
MMNN:3 July 2018

Investigations into the mysterious death of 11 of a family in Delhi are now focused on notes found in the house, which point at one man's hallucinations and delusions of an impending apocalypse. On Sunday, 77-year-old Narayan Devi, her children and grandchildren were found dead. She was on her bed while 10 others, including two 15-year-old boys, were hanging from a wire grid in the hallway of their home in Burari, north Delhi. None of the family members, including Narayan Devi, showed any signs of struggle and all died from hanging, confirms the autopsy. The police say Narayan Devi's youngest son Lalit Chundawa, 45, drove the "mass suicide" and jotted down the notes that included "instructions". He began writing these notes in 2015. He had reportedly taken a vow of silence a few years ago but had recently started talking again, about "visits" from his dead father. One of his notes appeared to predict doomsday and advised the family that they would be saved. The entry read: "Antim samay mein, aakhri ichha ki purti ke waqt, aasman hilegi dharti kaanpegi, us waqt tum ghabrana mat, mantra ka jaap badha dena, mein aakar utar loonga aur ko bhi utarne mein madad karunga (in your last hours, while your last wish is fulfilled, the skies will open up and the earth will shake, don't panic but start chanting the mantra louder. I will come to save you, I will bring you down and help with the others too)." The police say this was what Lalit believed advice from his father who had died 10 years ago. Lalit Chundawa allegedly told the family that he received this message from his father and everyone should follow it. The family was very superstitious and apparently believed that the end of the world was coming. According to relatives and friends, Lalit Chundawa communicated mostly by scribbling notes, even with customers who came to his grocery shop. Lalit Chundawa's sister Sujata, who lives in Panipat, wept over the unspeakable tragedy and said: "I can't believe that they committed suicide. Everyone was so happy. Someone has killed my family and the police have to find them." For more Delhi news, click here


11 Bodies, 11 Pipes: Cops Probe Chilling Details Of Delhi "Death House"
MMNN:2 July 2018

As the police investigate the events leading to the death of 11 of a family in Delhi, strange and chilling details are being examined closely. One of them is 11 pipes protruding from one wall of the house, all set close together. What has baffled investigators is that there was no water outlet on that side of the house in north Delhi's Burari in which the Bhatias lived until they were found hanging on Sunday morning. Only one, 77-year-old Narayan Devi, was found on the floor, with signs of strangling. The 10 others, including Narayan Devi's daughter Pratibha, 57, sons Bhavnesh, 50, and Lalit Bhatia, 45, and their families, were found hanging from a net attached to the ceiling. Bhavnesh's wife Savita, 48, and their three children Meenu, 23, Neetu, 25, and 15-year-old Dhruv, and Lalit Bhatia's wife Tina, 42, and their 15-year-old son Shivam were also hanging. Also found hanging was Pratibha's daughter Priyanka, 33, who was engaged last month and was, from all accounts, excited about her wedding later this year. Most of the bodies were four blindfolded, the mouths taped and hands tied behind the back. Handwritten notes and a diary found at the site indicate that the deaths were planned and that the family followed so-called instructions for "mass salvation", say the police. As for the mysterious pipes, they face an empty plot and are apparently not outlets for water. Four of the pipes point straight while four are bent. One pipe is a little away from the others. The police are investigating the significance of the pipes, but there are already murmurs of a spiritual link. Narayan Devi had one more son and daughter who lived away and are said to be in shock. The Bhatias had a grocery store and lived in an apartment on the first floor. They were in no financial trouble, as far as friends and relatives knew. One account suggest they became deeply religious after an accident that left Lalit Bhatia mute.


"Andhra Student Raped, Assault Filmed; Man With Video Demands 10 Lakhs
MMNN:30 Jun 2018

A 22-year-old engineering student from Andhra Pradesh has accused her seniors of raping her, filming the act and using it to blackmail her. In her complaint to the police, she said that two of her seniors took her to a birthday party in February last year, where they spiked her drink and raped her. As they had filmed the act, they blackmailed her and continued to assault her, police said. Both the software engineers passed out of the college this year. The police have charged them with gang-rape, and also under the IT Act for filming the act and using it to blackmail her. All the three accused have been arrested, the police said, adding they will be sent to judicial custody. The woman told the police that she had approached the management of her college in Agiripalli in Krishna district, but the officials did not inform the police. Instead they asked the men to delete the video and apologise to the girl, she alleged. The college management said they took prompt action. They didn't report the matter to the police to protect the identity of the girl and the future of the students, an official explained. However, after the purported mutual understanding negotiated by the college, the accused, Vamshi and Siva Reddy, in their early 20s, shared the video with their classmates and contacts, which translated into more trouble for the woman. Two months ago, the girl was threatened by a third student, Praveen, who had a copy of the video. He allegedly demanded Rs. 10 lakh and sexual favours from her. The girl then approached the police and filed a complaint. Praveen was arrested, the other students will soon be arrested, police said


"Siddaramaiah Says No Doubt About Stability Of Congress-JDS Government
MMNN:29 Jun 2018

BENGALURU: Former chief minister Siddaramaiah has said he was not unhappy about the ruling Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka as was being projected, and there was no doubt about the stability of the government. Breaking his silence on the controversy over video leaks that purportedly showed his remarks on the fresh budget and longevity of the government, Mr Siddaramaiah termed video-graphing of a casual talk and making it public as "unethical". "What I have said, in what context I have said you do not know. Whoever it is, recording my casual talk with someone and making it public without knowing the context... Is it not unethical," he questioned when asked about the videos. Speaking to reporters after meeting Congress representatives in the drafting committee of the common minimum programme and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, he said: "You too don't know in what context I have spoken, nobody knows. So I don't have anything to do with it." "We have formed a coalition government to keep away the communal BJP out of power. The coalition government will be stable; there is no doubt in that. It will be stable," Mr Siddaramaiah, who heads the co-ordination committee of the two parties, added. A video showing Mr Siddaramaiah purportedly expressing doubts about the longevity of the JDS-Congress government surfaced on Tuesday, adding to the strains of the coalition. Another video surfaced on Sunday, purportedly showing him expressing his displeasure to Congress legislators over presentation of a fresh budget. "Who told you that I'm unhappy," he said in response to a question about speculation he was unhappy with the coalition government. Mr Siddaramaiah returned to Bengaluru last night after undergoing treatment for 12 days at a nature cure hospital in Dharmasthala. The videos were said to be recorded there without his knowledge. Divergent views have been aired in public by some Congress and JDS leaders on several issues, including presentation of the budget. Mr Siddaramaiah, who had held the finance portfolio in the previous government, recently said there was no need for a fresh budget and insisted that a supplementary budget would do. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who holds the finance portfolio now, is scheduled to present the budget on July 5.


"For Rajya Sabha Deputy Post, Congress Accepts Mamata Banerjee's Lead
MMNN:27 Jun 2018

With the government seemed inclined towards forcing an election for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson, the Congress has decided to establish 2019 squad goals by supporting Mamata Banerjee's candidate, despite enough numbers to pitch its own. Opposition parties have been sounded out about Sukhendu Shekhar Roy of Trinamool Congress as a likely candidate for the post always held by the Congress, barring eight years between 1969 and 1977. With the election seen as one more test of the opposition's ability to unite against the BJP for state and national polls, the Congress, say sources, has decided to back Mr Roy as candidate. On record, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien denies that his party has put up any name. "There is no decision on any opposition candidate. We have not put up any name. The united opposition will come up with a name," he said. The Congress' PJ Kurien was Deputy Chairperson since 2012. The Congress, with 51 seats in the 245-member Rajya Sabha, would have been the natural claimant. The party, however, realises that to ensure a non-BJP victory, it needs the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Telegana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) on board; the Biju Janata Dal of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Telangana's ruling party, both favour Mamata Banerjee's party man for the role. These are the parties that have shown more interest in corralling non-Congress and non-BJP parties into a third front for mission 2019. The last time an election took place for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson's post was in 1992. The fight was between Congress candidate Najma Heptullah, who is now with the BJP, and Renuka Chowdhary, who was the opposition candidate. Najma Heptulla won with 128 votes against Renuka Chowdhary's 95. Twenty-six years on, a contest seems likely again with the BJP not ready to concede to a united opposition candidate even though the numbers are stacked against the ruling alliance. The nomination and election process will take place during the monsoon session of parliament, which starts on July 18.


"Nothing Above 'Family' For Congress," Says PM Modi On Emergency
MMNN:26 Jun 2018

MUMBAI: A BJP function to observe "Black Day" - the imposition of 1975 Emergency - was marked by a full-scale attack on the Congress, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi ripped into the party, saying for them, "nothing, no one and no constitution comes above the Family". Speaking at a party function in Mumbai, the Prime Minister said remembering Emergency is meant "not just to criticise Congress for the sin of attacking the constitution, but to create awareness about its dangers". The Congress government led by Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in 1975, during which fundamental rights were severely restricted, curbs were imposed on the media and several opposition leaders were jailed. The BJP has been observing the day as "Black Day". The announcement of the Emergency was made on June 25, days after the Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractices and disbarred her as a parliamentarian for six years. The Congress, the Prime Minister hinted, is walking the same line. "When a notice was served to the 'family', such was the arrogance, such was the ego, that even the Chief Justice of India was not spared... an impeachment motion was taken against him in Parliament," PM Modi said, pointing to the Congress effort to bring an impeachment motion against Dipak Misra. Throughout history, whenever the Congress, especially the family feels their power is about to go, they start spreading all sorts of lies, the Prime Minister said. Under the party, even institutions like the judiciary and Election Commission are not safe, he said. "After god, people of this country have faith in the judiciary. But the Congress plays on this, creates insecurity and doubt in the minds of people," he said, adding when the Congress "faced the reality of going from 400 to 40" seats in elections, they cast doubt on the Election Commission, He accused the party of "spreading lies" about fear and intolerance in the country. "They keep saying that Jan Sangh and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh would kill the Muslims... nowadays they keep saying the RSS will kill Dalits... all for creating a fear psychosis among the citizens... We are a big nation with a massive population, and such fear psychosis does have an impact on the people," he said. "They say only they (Congress) can fix the problem... It is all a big lie." PM Modi said it was important for the young people to be aware of what happened. "The youth of today enjoy freedom, they do not understand what it is to live without freedom. Hence they probably do not feel the pain and the anger of Emergency... Only a man who is thirsty understands the value of water," he said


Four Dead In 24 Hours As Heavy Rain Pounds Mumbai; Traffic, Trains Hit
MMNN:25 Jun 2018

Heavy rain in Mumbai since last night slowed down traffic and delayed trains, hitting thousands of school and office-goers on a Monday morning. Four people have died in Mumbai and adjoining areas since yesterday. Civic officials have placed pumps on stand-by as many low-lying areas in the city reported water-logging. A huge part of a compound wall of a residential complex in Antop Hill in south Mumbai's Wadala collapsed, taking along 15 parked cars. Dramatic pictures showed five other cars covered in debris. The civic body and the fire department have vacated an entire wing of the Lloyds Estate which houses many bankers. No casualties have been reported. Among the three people who died in Mumbai was a 15-year-old who died after falling into an open pit in the suburb of Malad. A 13-year-old was killed in Thane in a wall collapse. Two people died yesterday after a tree was uprooted near Azad Maidan in south Mumbai's Dhobi Talao. The heavy downpour led to water-logging in subways in Andheri, Khar and Malad suburbs, affecting traffic, Mumbai Police said. A container broke down on a bridge on the Eastern Express Highway, leading to traffic to slow down during morning rush hour Mumbai received 231.4 mm rain in the last 24 hours, a Met department official said. "So much rainfall is categorised as extremely heavy showers," IMD Mumbai Director Ajay Kumar told news agency PTI. "Expect showers to be as intense today as well," private weather forecaster Skymet said. Many Twitter users shared pictures of water-logging and traffic, with #MumbaiRains remaining the top trend on Twitter this morning. Mumbai Police tweeted with a dash of humour, "The showers are heavy but so is our 'bandobast' on the streets to 'be there' for Mumbaikars. We are #AlwaysUpForDuty to help you reach your destination with a little care & caution from you during your journey #RoadSafety #MumbaiRains."


5 Activists Gang-Raped In Jharkhand, Assault Filmed
MMNN:22 Jun 2018

Five women between the age of 20 and 35 who were performing a street play in Jharkhand were abducted and then gang-raped in a forest on Tuesday, the police said, adding that the assault was also allegedly filmed on cell-phones. "We are not ruling out the possibility of the involvement of trafficking gangs and are investigating all aspects," police officer Ashwini Kumar Sinha said. The women said in their complaint they were performing a play to raise awareness about human trafficking in the largely tribal Khunti district of Jharkhand when they were abducted. The women work for Asha Kiran, an NGO which is supported by a local Christian missionary group, said police officer Rajesh Prasad to news agency AFP. Police have also rounded up some supporters of Pathalgadi, an anti-establishment self-rule movement popular in several tribal villages. Unidentified men picked up nine activists during the street play being performed in the Kochang village and drove them into a dense forest, where the men were beaten up and the women raped, police officer Sinha said to news agency Reuters. Asha Kiran runs a shelter home for the rehabilitation of rescued girls in Khunti district of Jharkhand, which has been identified as a trafficking hotspot. There are around 200 rescued girls in Asha Kiran's shelter. "We are still processing what has happened," said Rajiv Ranjan Sinha of the Jharkhand Anti-Trafficking Network - a coalition of 14 grassroots organisations working in the state. "This is the first time field workers have been targetted and it is both surprising and shocking. It is now going to become more difficult to work on this issue." India has seen an increase in reports of human trafficking in recent years. Almost 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in 2016, a rise of 25 percent from the previous year, according to government data. Activists say the figures are under-reported, especially due to a lack of awareness in rural areas, emphasising the importance of programmes run by various charities to combat trafficking. "The incident underlines the dangers on the ground and the fact that human trafficking is an organised and ruthless crime," said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, an anti-trafficking charity that also works in Jharkhand.


At Trinamool Meet, Mamata Banerjee's Revealing Comment On Congress
MMNN:21 Jun 2018

The cautious stance of Bengal's Trinamool Congress about Congress slipped today when Mamata Banerjee took the stage at a party meeting. Talking of the political situation in the state, Ms Banerjee lumped the Congress with the BJP, the Left and the Maoists as the "darkest underbelly of society". "The CPM is falling at the feet of the BJP and clutching at their straws to stay afloat...Congress is opposing BJP in Delhi and holding hands here. Where are the rules, the principles of the Congress? CPM, Congress, Maoists and BJP... they are the darkest underbelly of society," the Trinamool chief said. Suggesting a nexus between the parties, she added, "Four heads have come together. They are looting money, stealing it, and lighting fires". Mamata Banerjee, who once belonged to the Congress and broke away to form her own party, shares a warm rapport with Sonia Gandhi, even though her stance about Congress participation in the united opposition against the BJP in 2019 is fuzzy. She has regularly sent representatives for the get-togethers called by the Congress - the last being Dinesh Trivedi at Rahul Gandhi's Iftaar party last Thursday. But she has also kept up with leaders like Karnataka Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Naidu, who are trying to patch together a non-Congress, non-BJP Federal Front. At the state level, the two parties are at loggerheads - an antagonism that has become sharper since the last assembly elections when the Congress entered an unofficial alliance with the Left Front. At the party's strategy session ahead of next year's general elections, Ms Banerjee also admitted to corruption and infighting in the party ranks, and asked her leaders to focus on the organisation.


BJP's Dilip Ghosh Comes Up With 'Encounter' Threat For Trinamool Leaders
MMNN:20 Jun 2018

KOLKATA: Dilip Ghosh, the BJP's Bengal chief, has waded into another controversy. This time, Mr Ghosh, who has been prepping for party boss Amit Shah's visit to West Bengal next week, declared that those leaders ruling the roost today would soon either be in jail or killed in encounters. "Every bullet will be made to count," Mr Ghosh said in north Bengal's Jalpaiguri 600 km from state capital Kolkata on Tuesday, according to a video of his speech. The BJP leader was leading a protest against the district administration who the party alleges was acting on directions of ruling Trinamool Congress government led by Mamata Banerjee. Turning to the Trinamool Congress leaders, he said leaders who indulged in hooliganism to do as they please in Bengal "will soon either be in jail or straight away there will be an encounter" "Remember Gabbar Singh's dialogue... How many bullets are in this gun," he said, a reference to the arch-villain of Bollywood blockbuster "Sholay" before he kills his three associates who let him down. "The bullets will be counted and given.... And corpses will be counted too," Mr Ghosh went on. Mr Ghosh left no room for imagination who were on his list. He even named the Trinamool's Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal, referring to him by his nickname that Mamata Banerjee frequently uses: Keshto. A fortnight ago, Trinamool lawmaker Abhishek Banerjee was severely panned for threatening to make Purulia district opposition free. A day after he said it, a youth was found hanging in Purulia with anti BJP messages scrawled on his shirt. Mr Ghosh's speech was a message to his political rivals that BJP workers, who are allegedly targeted by Trinamool Congress, would retaliate to violence with violence. "There is a limit to our tolerance," he said, pledging retributive action against alleged strong-arm tactics of Trinamool leaders. The local police has filed a case against Mr Ghosh and three others for the speech and the Trinamool Congress has condemned what it calls is a hate speech. This isn't the first time that Mr Ghosh has landed himself in a row for shooting off his mouth. In the past, he has also threatened beheading for those shouting anti-national or pro-Pakistan slogans. Ahead of this year's panchayat elections, he had claimed that the fight for the local body elections would not end at polling stations but would reach crematoriums. He had once also said the BJP could drag Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee by her hair and throw her out for opposing the 2016 notes ban but later apologised.


Mehbooba Mufti Resigns As BJP Exits Jammu and Kashmir Alliance: 10 Facts
MMNN:19 Jun 2018

NEW DELHI: The signs were there for months, but Jammu and Kashmir's ruling coalition crashed today as the BJP yanked support from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party (PDP), leaving the state facing Governor's Rule. "It had become untenable to continue with the PDP government in Kashmir," said senior BJP leader Ram Madhav, referring to reasons like deteriorating security and "discrimination" in parts of the state like Jammu and Ladakh. Mehbooba Mufti resigned not long after.
Here are the top 10 updates on the BJP-PDP alliance crash:
-1The PDP-BJP coalition, which was wobbly from the start, flat-lined just days after the central government decided not to extend the Ramzan ceasefire on anti-terror operations. The peace initiative was Mehbooba Mufti's idea.
-2The rift between the parties widened after the rape of an eight-year-old in Kathua. State BJP leaders were seen to support the men accused of kidnapping, gang-raping and killing the child from a Muslim tribal community. Two BJP lawmakers even participated in a rally to demand justice for the arrested men, all Hindus.
-3"Taking feedback from all institutions, the centre and the party was of the view that it is time the BJP withdrew from state government," Ram Madhav said.
-4Defending the decision to pull out support two years before time, the BJP leader said: "Fundamental rights of citizens including right to life and free speech are in danger."
-5A day before Eid, senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead along with two security guards in Srinagar. The same day, a soldier was kidnapped on his way home for Eid and killed.
-6"After the killing of Shujaat, there was no question of not continuing anti-terror operations," said Ram Madhav. In a series of tweets on Sunday, Union home minister Rajnath Singh announced that security forces had been directed to resume operations, indicating that the Ramzan ceasefire would not be extended.
-7The BJP has 25 lawmakers and the PDP has 28 in the 89-member state assembly, both far short of the majority mark of 45.
-8The Congress, which has 12 members, said there is no question of an alliance with the PDP.
-9The other major party in the state is the National Conference, with 15 seats. Its chief and former chief minister Omar Abdullah posted on Twitter: "And so it has come to pass..."
-10Since the two parties came to power in 2015, there had been a series of disputes - over PDP's promises of talks with separatists, the proposal to remove AFSPA or the Armed Forces' Special Powers Act that gives sweeping powers to the army in insurgency-hit areas, and the rollout of the government's flagship Goods and Services Tax.


Manish Sisodia, On Hunger Strike At Lt Governor's, Hospitalised: 10 Facts
MMNN:18 Jun 2018

NEW DELHI: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's sit-in protest at the house of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has been strongly censured by the Delhi High Court, which pointed out that a "strike" cannot be held at anyone's house and questioned who authorized it. AAP said it would respond. "This protest was the last possible option. We tried every democratic method before this," said senior party leader Sanjay Singh. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who was on a hunger strike, has been hospitalized, Mr Kejriwal tweeted. Health Minister Satyendar Jain was also shifted to hospital last evening. Mr Kejriwal has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "give a green signal to IAS officers to end their strike".
Here are the top 10 facts in this big story:
-1"This can't be called a strike. You can't go inside someone's office or house and hold a strike there," the Delhi High Court said today in response to a petition.
-2Two other petitions have been filed - one filed by BJP Leader of Opposition in assembly Vijender Gupta and another against what Mr Kejriwal's government calls a "strike" by IAS officers. The court said the IAS association will be party to the cases, all of which will be heard on Friday.
-3Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was taken to hospital after his ketone levels shot up. "Manish Sisodia's ketone level reaches 7.4. Yesterday it was 6.4. ideally it should be zero. 2+ level is considered to be danger zone. Team of doctors reaching LG house to see him," read a retweet from Mr Kejriwal.
-4Yesterday, a group of Indian Administrative Service officers held a rare press briefing to deny that they were on strike, cited concerns about their security and said they have been "targeted and victimised" for political gains. Soon after, Mr Kejriwal reached out with a message, promising them security and seeking full cooperation.
-5Thousands of Aam Aadmi Party supporters attempted to hold a march to the Prime Minister's Office yesterday, but they were stopped midway by the police, who said they did not seek permission for a protest. AAP claimed 45,000 people had turned up for the protest march.
-6Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury has lent support to Mr Kejriwal, saying federalism is being undermined. In a series of tweets, he said the BJP, using offices of Governors and LGs, sought to "destabilise non-BJP democratically elected state govts". A number of CPM cadres took part in yesterday's protest.
-7Mr Kejriwal -- who started his protest on Monday evening -- says till Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal asks bureaucrats to change their approach, he will not leave the waiting room of the Lieutenant Governor's house-cum-office in Delhi. Three of his ministers - Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and Satyendar Jain - who accompanied him, also went into protest mode.
-8After Satyendar Jain's hospitalisation, Mr Kejriwal tweeted: "Last nite, Satinder Jain's ketone levels increased n he complained of headache, bodyache, difficulty in breathing n difficulty in passing urine. So, he had to be shifted to hospital. Now, he is doing well. It is 6th day of Mansh's fast. He is doing well," Arvind Kejriwal tweeted this morning.
-9Mr Kejriwal's protest has been supported by most opposition parties - the key exception is the Congress, which is at loggerheads with AAP in Delhi. BJP ally Shiv Sena also sent messages of support.
-10Pawan Verma, spokesperson of BJP ally Janata Dal United, tweeted, "@ArvindKejriwal Those urging officers to non-cooperate against the elected government of the day, may reap immediate political benefit, but will destroy the very foundations of our Republic in the long run. What can happen against one elected govt can happen against another too!"


Cops Release Photo Of 4th Suspect In Journalist Shujaat Bukhari's Killing
MMNN:15 Jun 2018

A day after senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his two security officers were killed in the heart of Srinagar by three terrorists, the police have released the photo of a fourth suspect. The suspect, a bearded man in a white shirt, can be seen in the photo checking on the bodies in the car, not long after Mr Bukhari was shot dead. As someone pulls out one of the bodies from the car, the suspect is seen picking up a pistol and leaving, reports news agency PTI. The fourth man is suspected to be a local. The Editor-in-Chief of "Rising Kashmir" was killed when he had just left his office in Press Enclave and was heading to an Iftar party. The police suspect the killers were working for the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar e Taiba. This was a planned attack," said Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta. "The attack would not be possible without local support," he told NDTV. Last night, the police released security footage of the terrorists on a bike. The faces of the rider and the third man are hidden by a helmet and a mask. The man in the middle is seen holding what seems to be a sack of weapons. His face is shielded from the cameras by the Mr Bukhari, 52, was given police protection after an attempt on his life 18 years ago. The father of two, who was often part of "track-2" diplomacy between India and Pakistan, was also said to be on a terrorist hit list. In 2006, Mr Bukhari was kidnapped by unknown gunmen who then attempted to shoot him at close range. Miraculously, the gunman's pistol got locked and the journalist ran for his life. In recent weeks, he had strongly backed the internal ceasefire announced by New Delhi for Ramzan. Just days ago, he tweeted on the killings of two policemen in Pulwama in south Kashmir. "It is heart wrenching to see these policemen getting killed during Shab e Qadr. May the families have courage to bear the loss. At the end two more Kashmiris lose lives. Violence must stop to create a space for dialogue," he posted. 0 COMMENTSThe police have put out a public appeal for help to identify the killers from the CCTV images. The informant's identity would be confidential, they assured. Hundreds of mourners in Kashmir today joined the funeral procession of Mr Bukhari at his ancestral village Kreeri in Baramulla. Despite heavy rain, crowds of villagers, friends and colleagues followed the procession through the streets of the village


On Opposition's PM Face, Tejashwi Yadav's Nuanced Response
MMNN:14 Jun 2018

NEW DELHI: Tejashwi Yadav, the son of Bihar leader Lalu Yadav, today said he was working with Rahul Gandhi to "save democracy and the constitution". The 28-year-old, seen as the political heir of Bihar Veteran Lalu Yadav, is known to share a rapport with the Congress chief. Today, on the question of the Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of the united opposition, Tejashwi Yadav gave a cautious response that took nothing for granted. Tejashwi Yadav, who is seen as rooting for a united opposition, said he was happy that the opposition parties have realised that they have to remain united. "You can see the results after that," the young leader told NDTV in an exclusive interview, referring to string of opposition victories in the recent by-elections - starting with prestigious Gorakhpur and Phulpur and then onto Kairana and Noorpur. He has even said his party's victory in the recent by-election in Bihar's Jokihat was a spin-off of the alliance between Akhilesh Yadav and Dalit powerhouse Mayawati. Asked if Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav will accept Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Minister, Tejashwi Yadav said, "Rahul Gandhi has said that if the Congress becomes the single largest party, Congress will stake claim". But there was a rider. "I think whichever political party becomes the single largest, it will stake claim to the PM post. If you look at the opposition, a lot of people are capable of becoming PM," he said, adding, as of now, no one has officially staked claim. Calling the matter a "secondary question", he said right now, it was "more important to save the constitution". Last week, Tejashwi Yadav and Rahul Gandhi had a 40-minute meeting in Delhi. Sources said they discussed the political situation in the country and in Bihar. After the meeting, Tejashwi Yadav tweeted a photo of them together, quoting a couple of lines from British poet William's Wordsworth. The poem is titled "The French Revolution as It Appeared to Enthusiasts at Its Commencement".


Bhaiyyu Maharaj Suicide: Spiritual Guru Shoots Himself In Head
MMNN:12 Jun 2018

Bhaiyyu Maharaj, a popular spiritual leader, has allegedly shot himself. He is in hospital in Madhya Pradesh's Indore. Reports suggest Bhaiyyu Maharaj shot himself over "domestic issues". He was taken to Bombay hospital in Indore. Bhaiyyu Maharaj reportedly acted as a mediator during the 2011 anti-corruption campaign led by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Earlier, he had refused to accept the minister of state status conferred on him by the Madhya Pradesh government. Another top police officer, "He shot himself on his right temple in a room bolted from inside. His body was brought out by breaking the door of the room and taken to hospital, where he was declared brought dead, according to news agency PTI. Visuals from Bhayyu Maharaj's residence in Indore. DIG Harinarayanchari Mishra says, ''We have seized the suicide note. In the suicide note, he has mentioned mental tension but the reason for the tension is not known as yet. We are investigating the case.'' Inspector General of Police Makrand Deoskar says, "The suicide note and pistol have been seized by police. All aspects of the case are being investigated. Family members are also to be questioned. Bhaiyyu Maharaj was known for his opulent lifestyle and for his links with influential politicans and businessmen. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar were reportedly counted among his followers. Bhaiyyu Maharaj Commits Suicide In Indore, Shoots Himself In Head Bhaiyyu Maharaj, a popular spiritual leader, has allegedly shot himself and is in hospital in Madhya Pradesh's Indore. Reports suggest Bhaiyyu Maharaj shot himself over "domestic issues". He was taken to Bombay hospital in Indore. Jayant Rathore, Indore Police, said that, "he has been admitted to the hospital, can't say anything else right now. He had shot himself in the head."


BJP, Used To Controlling Political Arena, Has Bihar Allies Acting Out
MMNN:11 Jun 2018

It may not be a multi-car pile-up (yet), but the hazard lights are on now for the BJP's coalition in Bihar where three of three partners of the national party are convinced that they're getting a raw deal. Exhibit A: Upendra Kushwaha, union minister, who heads the RSLP regional party and refused to attend a "unity dinner" hosted by the BJP in Patna last week, though he did find the time to fly into the Bihar capital just hours later, brutally making the point that his absence at the dinner was deliberate. "Amit Shah was not there either," he said defiantly, referring to the fact that the BJP chief, currently meeting other hurt allies, did not add Bihar to his make-good spree. Mr Kushwaha formed his own regional party five years years ago after splitting from the outfit headed by one-time mentor Nitish Kumar, who last year upended all political calculations by fleeing from a league of opposition leaders to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi's national coalition. As part of the switchover, he now runs Bihar with the BJP and not earlier partners Congress and Lalu Yadav, with whom he jointly contested the state election in 2015. Mr Kushwaha feels he is constantly sidelined by the BJP chief for Mr Kumar. So last week, a top leader from his party said it should be him, and not the Chief Minister, who is made the face of the alliance's campaign in Bihar in next year's national election. The Kushwaha caste, the leader reasoned, forms 10 per cent of Bihar's population; Mr Kumar's Kurmi caste, on the other hand, adds up to just 4 per cent Mr Kumar's party has also offered its take on the campaign, suggesting that it should be the Chief Minister and not the Prime Minister in whose name the election is contested. This is a tough sell: in the last national election, Mr Kumar's party, the JDU, won just two of Bihar's 40 parliamentary seats. The BJP and its then allies won 31, gamely riding the Modi wave. If Mr Kushwaha believes that it is Mr Kumar who gets all the attention in Bihar from the BJP, he may be misguided. Aides close to the Chief Minister point out that at last week's dinner, meant to portray a united front, Mr Shah was not present; instead, Mr Kumar had to make do with state-level BJP leaders as his hosts. The dinner ended without Mr Kumar offering a comment to the media waiting outside as he drove away. Not exactly good vibes. As Exhibit B of Sulking Allies, the Chief Minister has to contend with the fact that since he signed up with the BJP, he has got precious little to show for it. He has lost two crucial elections -- recently, he appeared to suggest that's because Muslims are turning on him -- and his main demand, that of special financial assistance from Bihar, has gone unheeded. Mr Kumar sough Rs. 7,600 crore from the centre for Bihar; despite being on the PM's team now, he was sanctioned Rs. 1,200; privately, even BJP leaders admit they thought that Mr Kumar would get more after his crossover. "Kite-flying," is how the Chief Minister dismissed the political natter about his angst with the BJP. Elaborating at a press conference today, he said, "There's no problem with seat-sharing, everyone's working smoothly." The attempt to take the edge off comes as top advisers like KC Tyagi have been activated into publicly expounding on the need for Mr Kumar to get top billing over Mr Modi in the 2019 campaign. Pawan Varma, another aide routinely critical of the BJP, who was alienated from the Chief Minister months ago, is now back in the inner circle. Signs, all these, of the usual on record "all-is-well" versus off-camera hostility. Next up is Ram Vilas Paswan. Exhibit C joined the PM's coalition ahead of the general election in 2014 and won six of Bihar's 40 seats. Sources say he's now concerned that the BJP will ask his party to contest fewer than that next year in order to allocate a larger share to the Chief Minister. Mr Paswan, a union minister and veteran Dalit leader, is also worried that so far, the centre has not chosen to circumvent the Supreme Court order that changed a special law which punishes discrimination against Dalits. In March, the top court banned the immediate arrest of those accused of persecuting Dalits and said prior approval of officials is required along with some inquiry before arrests are made. The centre has asked the court to reconsider its verdict, but has not issued an executive order that would restore the original law. Violent protests by Dalits led to at least seven people being killed. Mr Paswan and other leaders of backward castes have said the Supreme Court has weakened a law meant to protect the weakest sections of society. Mr Kushwaha and Mr Paswan have said recently that their collaboration with the BJP is not placed vertiginously. Earlier this year, a retinue of meetings -- five in a matter of two months -- between Mr Paswan and the Chief Minister incited talk of them exploring how to effectively gang up against the BJP in an attempt to hold their own. 0 COMMENTSBoth are worried about BJP leaders in Bihar being linked to communal riots in March since they draw heavily from Muslim support. It's unlikely that the acting up by any the BJP's allies will amount to much more than a play for what each ally sees as his deserved share of parliamentary seats. But for the BJP, which has become unaccustomed to electoral defeats, recent setbacks in by-elections in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar mean allowing allies to blow off steam -and perhaps even giving them something in return.


PM Modi Assassination Plot Revealed In Maoist Letter: Pune Cops To Court
MMNN:7 Jun 2018

Plans to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a "Rajiv Gandhi-like incident" have been revealed in a letter seized from a suspected Maoist, the Pune police told a court on Thursday. Five people were arrested on Wednesday for links with the banned CPI-Maoist - Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, lawyer Surendra Gadling, activists Mahesh Raut and Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson. Described by the police as the "top brass of the urban Maoists", they were arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon caste violence in January. The letter was found from the home of Delhi-based activist Rona Wilson, the police claimed in the sessions court, according to news agency PTI. The letter talked about the need for Rs. 8 crore to procure M-4 rifle and four lakh rounds, and also about "another Rajiv Gandhi incident", public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar told the court. "We are thinking along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident. It sounds suicidal and there is a chance that we might fail but party must deliberate on our proposal...," the prosecutor quoted the letter as saying. "It is a very serious matter. It is known that Naxals are under pressure. It is sinister and dangerous. Many of these elements tend to link up with mainstream parties," said the BJP's Nalin Kohli. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said: "Security agencies will do their work. The court is hearing. Let the court decide." A copy of the letter, released by ANI news agency, says: "...inspite of big defeats like Bihar and West Bengal, Modi has successfully established BJP governments in more than 15 states. If this pace continues then it would mean immense trouble for the party on all fronts...Col Kisan and a few other senior comrades have proposed concrete steps to end the Modi-era." Lawyers presenting the accused said the documents cited by the prosecution were fabricated and an attempt to frame them. Violence erupted in Bhima-Koregaon after Hindu activists protested a march by Dalits to mark the 1818 battle of Bhima Koregaon where British forces, mostly consisting of Mahar soldiers (who were Dalits), defeated the forces of Peshwa, ending the Maratha rule.


Pranab Mukherjee In Nagpur Live: Former President To Address RSS Event
MMNN:7 Jun 2018

NAGPUR: Former President Pranab Mukherjee is in Nagpur where he will be the chief guest at a function of the RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh today. The event has generated a lot of interest and controversy over the past few days, ever since Mr Mukherjee agreed to address RSS trainees at the Sangh's headquarters in Nagpur. Mr Mukherjee will deliver the main address at the function organised for RSS cadre training to become full-time volunteers or pracharaks. The RSS is the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP and several ministers visit its headquarters in Nagpur. Congress president Rahul Gandhi accuses the organisation of trying to divide the country on religious lines.


After Rahul Gandhi's Peace-Keeping, Karnataka Finally Gets 25 Ministers
MMNN:6 Jun 2018

BENGALURU: Two weeks after HD Kumaraswamy took oath as Karnataka Chief Minister, 25 ministers were sworn in today after ally Congress settled on its choice of ministers. The man behind the turmoil was DK Shivakumar - the Congress's biggest crisis manager at a time when the party was trying to prevent defections following a hung verdict in state polls. Mr Shivakumar, 56, wanted to be Deputy Chief Minister but sources say after a one-on-one meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi, he agreed to the job of minister with two portfolios. He is likely to take charge of the irrigation ministry, with medical education as the second portfolio. Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and his party Janata Dal Secular were dead against a second Deputy Chief Minister after G Parameshwara of the Congress. Mr Shivakumar, a seven-time lawmaker, belongs to the powerful Vokkaliga caste like Mr Kumaraswamy. Mr Shivakumar was told that it would be difficult to accommodate two Vokkaligas at the top without making other sections unhappy. But he reportedly didn't give up hope until last evening, after Rahul Gandhi persuaded him to drop his demand. It may not end the bickering. Sources say some in the party are upset that he has been offered not one but two ministries. For now, the Congress has picked 15 cabinet ministers. Eventually, it will have 22 ministers in the 33-member cabinet. The meaty portfolios of finance, excise and transport will go to the JD(S). Even Mr Shivakumar's power portfolio in the previous Congress government has gone to the JD(S). The Congress gets home, industries and revenue among other portfolios. Both parties fought for the important finance ministry, but before any escalation, Rahul Gandhi reportedly advised Congress leaders to give in. As part of the understanding between the partners - who have learnt bitter lessons from their past partnership that ended with Mr Kumaraswamy joining hands with the BJP - a coordination committee will be set up with former chief minister Siddaramaiah as its chief. For the Congress, which failed to win the Karnataka election, it has been a tough balancing act driven by the bigger considerations - the 2019 national election and a strong, stable alliance to beat the BJP in Karnataka. The two parties have announced that they will contest the 2019 polls together in Karnataka. How the JDS-Congress came to rule Karnataka has been a huge confidence booster for opposition parties who turned Mr Kumaraswamy's oath ceremony into a show of unity against the BJP.


Bengaluru Ola Driver Allegedly Molests Passenger, Forces Her To Strip For Photos
MMNN:5 Jun 2018

A 26-year-old woman in Bengaluru was held captive in an Ola cab and allegedly molested by the driver who also forced her to strip for photos. The woman, an architect, was on her way to the airport in the early hours of Friday June 1 when the cab driver allegedly took a detour claiming it was a faster route. She was alone in the cab, and wanted to catch an early flight to Mumbai. The woman has told the police that the driver stopped the car at a deserted spot and assaulted her. He allegedly threatened to call more men and have her gang-raped. The driver allegedly forced the woman to strip, after trying to choke her. He took photos and allegedly shared them on WhatsApp. "Based on a mail from the woman, we have registered an FIR. We appreciate the lady for immediately informing the police, bravely," said senior Bengaluru police officer Seemant Kumar Singh. The driver, Arun V, was arrested within three hours. "We have also issued a notice to Ola Cabs as to why the police verification of this driver was not done," Mr Singh added. "We have zero tolerance for such incidents and the driver has been blacklisted from the platform as an immediate action upon receiving the complaint. Safety of customers is our top priority and we are extending our full support to the police authorities in their investigation," Ola said in a statement.


Army Called After More Violence In Shillong, Curfew Imposed In Many Areas
MMNN:4 Jun 2018

The Army has been called in to conduct flag march in parts of Shillong which have been witnessing violence for the last four days. The home ministry has sent in 11 companies of para-military forces to help the police maintain law and order in the Meghalaya capital. Fresh violence broke out in the city last night, prompting the police to use tear gas shells to control a mob. The unrest, which started on Thursday as two groups clashed in the city's Punjabi Line area, has now snowballed into a tribal versus non-tribal issue.


Sita Was Test-Tube Baby, Declares Yogi Adityanath's Deputy
MMNN:1 Jun 2018

LUCKNOW: A minister in Uttar Pradesh has shared his radical views on ancient India's gifts to modern science, adding to the stream of such comments derided by many as outrageous. Lord Ram's wife Sita is an example of a test-tube baby, UP's Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma has suggested. "When Sita was born there must have been something like a test-tube baby. (Her father King) Janak ploughed the land and a baby came out of an earthen pot, she became Sita. This means technology similar to a test-tube baby must have existed," Dinesh Sharma says in a video that became a rage on social media on Friday. He was apparently speaking at an event on Wednesday to mark "Hindi journalism day". At the same function, the minister shared another gem and said journalism "started during the Mahabharata". Dinesh Sharma said the character Sanjaya, who described the epic war of Kurukshetra to king Dhritarashtra was providing a sort of "live telecast". 5 COMMENTSHe also believed that "our google" started in ancient India, with the mythological character "Narad Muni" who was known to be an informer. "He could reach anywhere and transfer a message from one place to another by saying 'Narayana' three times," said the minister'. In April, Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb had embarrassed the BJP when he declared that internet originated from ancient India. He had also used the example of Sanjay, the narrator, saying he was able to describe the events on the battlefield because of internet and technology.


Kairana Shows 2019 May Not Be A Modi-Wave Election
MMNN:31 May 2018

The victory of the opposition in the Kairana by-polls has sent out an unambiguous message after the Gorakhpur and Phulpur wins of the Samajwadi Party alliance - a united opposition will trounce the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the country's swing state with 80 parliamentary seats. The BJP had won the Kairana parliamentary seat by a margin of 2.4 lakh in 2014. Kairana was the epicentre of the infamous "Hindu exodus" theory floated by the BJP that, many believed, was aimed at tried and tested polarisation of voters. The BJP had pulled out all the stops, desperate to ensure that the opposition did not have the impetus to unite - the win in Kairana will provide that. Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the fig leaf of an expressway launch to campaign next door to Kairana, taking out a road-show and defying convention that prime ministers never campaign for by-polls. Nothing worked for the BJP. Not Yogi Adityanath's invocation of "Jinnah", which was countered successfully by Jayant Chowdhary of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), who said, "Ganna (sugarcane) mattered in the sugar belt of Western UP, not Jinnah." The BJP had a bad day at the office across the country with only Palghar in Maharashtra saving it the blushes. The signal sent by Palghar was that it was the index of opposition unity which defeats the BJP. Even Palghar, where Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis campaigned like a man possessed, the BJP's margin of victory came down to 20,000 from 2,30,000. After UP, Maharashtra sends the second largest contingent of MPs to the Lok Sabha - 48 - so the signal again to the Congress and Sharad Pawar's NCP is to unite. Interestingly, the Shiv Sena, which has broken off its 20-year-old "alliance" with the BJP, is also in play to ally with the BJP's opposition in Maharashtra. Sharad Pawar, considered the wily old fox of Indian politics, has checked the temperature and stopped his tacit alliance with the BJP, hopes to work out a similar "quiet understanding" with Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray. They have had three quiet meetings already, over Chinese food - a common passion. Mr Pawar is keeping senior Congress leader and trusted aide Ahmed Patel in the loop on his ventures with the Sena. So who are the real winners and losers in election season? Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar as the Jokihat victory has added to his stature. Jayant Chowdhary and Ajit Singh, his father, re-embraced by the Jats of Kairana at a time the party had no legislator anywhere. The RLD will now be a junior partner in the planned mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) between Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party. BJP leaders had ridiculed the regional heavyweights as "an alliance of snake and mongoose". But, the UP voters clearly like the story that "Bua (Mayawati) and Bhatija (Akhilesh)" are telling. The Congress will now have no choice but to hitch its wagon to the mahagathbandhan as a junior partner, with neither Mayawati nor Akhilesh exactly desperate to have the grand old party on board. The Congress and BSP will now ally for certain for the Madhya Pradesh polls. The BJP is not expecting great results from the elections later this year in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where it is in power. Sources say that the Congress has already roped in a small regional party and the deal with Mayawati is done and dusted. The by-poll results across 10 states underline that regional parties and opposition math pose a huge challenge to the BJP. The Congress must internalise this reality, with barely 12 months to go for the general elections as its chalks out its alliances with regional players. Congress president Rahul Gandhi must now act as a catalyst and lynchpin for the united opposition, and for the time being, forget any prime ministerial dreams. The BJP is hoping to capitalise on Modi-versus-the-rest as one man takes on the disparate group of parties - what the BJP calls a "corrupt khichri" - but as the incumbent, PM Modi can't really seem to convince the voters, as recent results reveal. A key takeaway from UP is that the incessant demonisation of Muslims - which started with the 2013 riots in Muzzaffarnagar in western UP - is clearly producing diminishing returns. The lower caste consolidation in UP is also a reaction to the unapologetic "Thakur raj" run by Yogi Adityanath and the scary "freedom of encounters" apparently given to the UP Police. Kairana was a huge psychological mood-changer for both the opposition and the BJP. The opposition will now look to script unity across the country. The fence-sitters on the opposition may now want to consolidate against the threat from the BJP, which under Amit Shah has treated allies roughly, eaten into their space and given no quarter. Says a senior leader from the Congress - "imagine how radioactive the BJP is that even its oldest ally Sena balks at working with it". Amit Shah, with his gargantuan electoral appetite and arrogance in dealing with NDA allies, seems to have lost his strategic objective of keeping the opposition divided as he wants to win everywhere. The BJP will now have to eat humble pie if it wants to keep its remaining flock together. But it seems in no mood to, as Nitish Kumar - the Bihar Chief Minister who switched loyalties - is finding out the hard way after being marginalised and publicly snubbed by the BJP. Clearly, 2019 will not be a Modi-wave election as most of the promises made by candidate Narendra Modi remain unfulfilled. As predicted by union minister Nitin Gadkari, "achhe din (good times)" has become a millstone around the BJP's neck as to the voter, they seem elusive. The slogan has been virtually banned by the BJP and PM Modi has stopped using it since the BJP's Bihar defeat in 2015. Without a wave, real issues of agrarian distress, the unravelling effects of demonetisation, the huge job crisis, rising fuel prices and other bread-and-butter issues of "bijli pani sadak" (electricity, water, roads) will matter to the voters again. The BJP has already started using a pliable CBI against the opposition, registering cases and hoping to get leaders such as Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav to play ball. But in an existential crisis, these threats no longer have the same urgency. A senior leader says, "Enough is enough. I prefer to go to the voters and get results from them rather than this daily arm-twisting by the agencies." The opposition will have to hold onto the same spirit for a while and work out the tricky issues of sharing space and staying united while chalking out a story to tell the voters. Negative narratives don't really work. A senior BJP leader quips, "All the future PMs will trip over themselves. Their only agenda is survival." He is right, but survival is a need that cannot be underestimated. The opposition will have to prove it and work out a formula of unity. The BJP is now the real pole of politics, yet it finds itself floundering. With the party still claiming the biggest war-chest, the agencies and the charisma of PM Modi, don't underestimate Amit Shah just yet. But the BJP now has a real fight on its hands for 2019. It will not be a walkover. The beneficiary will be Indian voters, who like to keep politicians fighting and don't want to be taken for granted. It will be a rejuvenated united opposition against a BJP fighting its biggest fight


Election Commission Has Become The Mistress": Sena Attacks BJP Again
MMNN:30 May 2018

MUMBAI: In an attack on the Election Commission or EC over complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines in bypolls, the Shiv Sena today dubbed the poll panel, democracy and elections as "mistress" of those in power. The Sena alleged that its ally, the BJP which it said has an "autocratic mindset", has corrupted the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to serve its own purpose. It warned that people's loss of faith in the election process was "dangerous" for democracy. "Our country can no longer be called the largest democracy in the world. EVMs have spoilt the democracy. Those in power at present have made democracy their mistress with their autocratic mindset," an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said. "The BJP has corrupted EVMs, and made them into a machinery that can be used for its own purpose. Elections and the Election Commission have become the mistress," it alleged. Referring to complaints of technical snags in EVMs and VVPAT machines in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondia and Palghar Lok Sabha bypolls, it said while each vote counts and can be a deciding factor, thousands of people got "bored" waiting in queues and returned without voting after the machines malfunctioned. "The present Election Commission and its machinery have become like slaves of the government. Hence, they are not ready to take complaints of distribution of alcohol and money, the autocracy of government and threatening statements," it charged. The publication also mocked EC for blaming the hot weather for malfunctioning of EVMs. "The temperature keeps fluctuating. However, we never heard of the prime minister's flight engines having stopped working due to hot weather or computers of the BJP's social media cell malfunctioning due to hostile weather," it quipped and asked "why did EVMs stop functioning then?" Since the last several years, EVMs were procured from (PSU) BHEL or from the Election Commission of India. This time, the machines were procured from a private company in Surat, the Sena pointed out, adding that this raises doubts. "People not trusting the election process is dangerous for democracy," it opined. There is a discontent among people against the BJP, yet the party is winning elections and instances of EVMs malfunctioning only gives an impetus to the belief that there is a "setting" of EVMs that ensures the party wins, the Marathi daily alleged. "There was a time when the BJP opposed these machines. Now, the whole country is opposing it, the BJP is supporting it. The whole world has rejected EVMs, then why is the government supporting it?" it sought to know. The EC yesterday announced re-poll in 73 polling stations in Uttar Pradesh's Kairana, 49 polling stations in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondia and one polling station in Nagaland, after the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines developed snags during the bypolls held on Monday. No re-polling was ordered in the Palghar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency.


"Find Me A Place," Says Akhilesh Yadav, On Order To Exit Lucknow Bungalow
MMNN:29 May 2018

LUCKNOW: Akhilesh Yadav, who has pleaded "homelessness" in the Supreme Court to try and hold on to a government allotted bungalow for two more years, challenged the media to "find him a place". The Samajwadi Party chief and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav have both moved the Supreme Court against an order that asks former chief ministers to vacate their official bungalows, and asked for two-year's time. As he addressed reporters on the bypolls yesterday in Uttar Pradesh, which were clouded by allegations of malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), Akhilesh Yadav had a ready retort for reporters questioning him about his reluctance to move out. "We are ready to vacate but we need more time, both netaji (Mulayam Singh) and I don't have any place to live in Lucknow. If you can find a place for us let us know," the former chief minister snapped. In his petition before the Supreme Court, Mulayam Singh asks for time citing his age and ill-health. Akhilesh Yadav lists security and his children's education as reasons why he should be allowed to hang on to the bungalow he was entitled to as chief minister. Another former chief minister, Mayawati, has "turned" her vast five-acre, 10-bedroom bungalow in Lucknow into a "memorial" for her mentor Kanshi Ram, the founder of her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). A few days ago, a new board was put up outside her bungalow that reads: "Shri Kanshi Ramji Yaadgaar Vishram Sthal". The UP government served notice to Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and four other former chief ministers about 10 days ago, asking them to vacate their official homes in 15 days as ordered by the Supreme Court. The top court has cancelled changes to the law that enabled former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh to live in official homes for life, saying that these were "based on irrelevant and legally unacceptable considerations, unsupported by any constitutional sanctity."


Sunanda Pushkar's Social Media Texts Treated As Dying Declaration: Police
MMNN:28 May 2018

Sunanda Pushkar emailed her husband, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, that she had "lost her will to live", the Delhi police said in court, after submitting a 3000-page chargesheet that accuses Mr Tharoor of abetting her suicide. Her mail and messages on social media have been taken as a "dying declaration", the police told the court. "I have no desire to live...all I pray for is death," Sunanda Pushkar wrote in the email to her husband on January 8, nine days before she was found dead in her suite at a luxury hotel in Delhi. The police told the court that 27 tablets of Alprax were found in her room and it is not clear how many she had. Her death, the court was told, was due to poisoning. The charge-sheet quotes a special investigation team as stating that Shashi Tharoor " as a husband ignored Sunanda when she was sliding or slipping into depression and she had Alprax." They had frequent fights, it says. The entire chargesheet is, however, yet to be made public. The case till now was being heard in a court that's meant to hear cases against parliamentarians and legislators, but now will be heard in a special court on Saturday. If the court admits the police charge of social media messages being avoided as part of dying declaration, it may be the first time such an instance is seen in a criminal investigation. The 51-year-old was found dead in her hotel bed on January 17, days after a public spat with her husband who she suspected was having an affair with a Pakistani journalist. "He ignored her calls," the special team found, and that he used to disconnect her calls in the days before her death. Sunanda Pushkar used social media to reach him, but those messages were also ignored, says the charge-sheet. 0 COMMENTS"Though injury marks were not serious but they are consistent with claims that the couple fought,"the charge-sheet says. They had a public row at the Kochi airport and on the plane to Delhi, the police said. She confided in her friends, who reportedly told the Special Investigation Team. The public prosecutor said all the statements have been video recorded.


PM Modi vs "Anarchist" Front: Arun Jaitley's Prediction For 2019 Polls
MMNN:26 May 2018

From Karnataka to Uttar Pradesh, opposition parties have been on a high all of this week over renewed hopes of putting up a united front against the national coalition fronted by the BJP. On Saturday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to dismiss that optimism in opposition ranks, describing the proposed front as an "anarchist" formation of "disparate political parties". The front is a "fictional alternative" which would be rejected by an aspirational India, he said. The political agenda for the debate this year appropriately will be Prime Minister "Modi versus an anarchist combination", Mr Jaitley said in a Facebook post on four years of Modi government. "Some of their (opposition) leaders are temperamental, the others occasionally change ideological positions. With many of them, such as TMC, DMK, TDP, BSP and the JD(S), the BJP has had an opportunity to share power. They frequently change political positions" Mr Jaitley said, adding that "stable politics is far from their political track record." Dismissing the idea of a "federal front", Mr Jaitley said "to rule a large country like India through coalitions is possible but the nucleus of a coalition has to be stable. It must have a large size, an ideologically defined position and a vested interest in honest governance." Mr Jaitley made the stinging attack on the Congress that formed a last-minute alliance with the JDS in Karnataka to keep the BJP out of power, which despite being the single largest party lacked the majority number. The Congress "is in desperation without the perks of office. Its best hope lies in becoming a supporter of regional political parties," Mr Jaitley said. "From the dominant party of Indian politics, it is moving towards the 'fringe', its political positions are not of a mainstream party but one usually adopted by 'fringe' organisations. Fringe organisations can never hope to come in power," the minister's Facebook post noted. 16 COMMENTSThe result in Karnataka has boosted enthusiasm among PM Modi's opponents to unite and try to defeat the BJP in the 2019 national elections. Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy's oath ceremony was high on symbolism. The swearing-in ceremony was the first joint public appearance by Uttar Pradesh's bitter rivals-turned-allies, Akhilesh Yadav and Dalit powerhouse Mayawati. The Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav team in Uttar Pradesh and the Congress-JDS alliance in Karnataka stands for the kind of new friendships that the the opposition would like to form in the rest of the country. The many photo-ops and the bonhomie among the parties on stage, however, is no indicator that other rival non-BJP parties too will come together. West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and CPM's Sitaram Yechury were there and at one awkward moment, even came face to face. They politely greeted each other, shook hands and walked away.


HD Kumaraswamy Wins Trust Vote After BJP Walks Out Of Karnataka Assembly
MMNN:25 May 2018

The Janata Dal Secular (JDS)-Congress combine won a trust vote in the Karnataka assembly moments after the opposition BJP staged a dramatic walkout, throwing a dare at chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. "You have numbers...Let's see how long you last," taunted BS Yeddyurappa, leading the walkout; last Saturday, he had left just before his own floor test, accepting that he failed to make the numbers. The JDS-Congress had the support of 117 MLAs.
Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
1-BS Yeddyurappa, in an emotional speech, reminded Mr Kumaraswamy of his alliance with the BJP in the past and his "betrayal" - in 2006, he had refused to step down when it was time to hand over the chief minister's post to the BJP.
2-Mr Yeddyurappa also amused the house as he confessed that his attempt to get the support of Congress and JDS lawmakers had failed as the Congress's DK Shivkumar had played "khalnayak (villain)".
3-Before his walkout, Mr Yeddyurappa, who was chief minister for 55 hours, warned the new government of "unrest" if farmer loans not waived off by Monday.
4-"I am not here for the power and position," Mr Kumaraswamy said ahead of the trust vote, while responding to BS Yeddyurappa's barbs. The 58-year-old JDS leader, who was sworn in on Wednesday, won the confidence motion with a voice vote. He has the support of 117 MLAs from the JD(S)-Congress-BSP coalition in the House.
5-Just before the floor test, Congress' Ramesh Kumar was unanimously elected as the speaker after the BJP withdrew its candidate's nomination.
6-On withdrawing its speaker candidate Suresh Kumar, Mr Yeddyurappa said, "we wanted the election to be unanimous in order to maintain dignity of the Speaker's post."
7-Earlier in the day, there was a wobble over Congress leader and deputy chief minister G Parameshwara's comment on power-sharing formula with the JDS. He said the coalition was "yet to discuss modalities" about Mr Kumaraswamy continuing as Chief Minister for a full five year term.
8-Mr Kumaraswamy, however, had said on weekend that there was "no rotational arrangement for chief ministership" between the two parties.
9-Mr Yeddyurappa has predicted that the Congress-JDS alliance won't last more than three months and there are suggestions that the BJP is hoping that lawmakers left out when the Chief Minister forms his cabinet could be open to switching sides.
10-Congress and JDS leaders, who had made Mr Kumaraswamy's swearing-in a prestige issue by inviting non-BJP leaders from across the country, dismissed the claims. "Our MLAs are intact," said Mr Parameshwara.


Centre Can Reduce Petrol Price Up To Rs. 25 But Won't Do It: P Chidambaram
MMNN:23 May 2018

NEW DELHI: Amid rising criticism over steep hike in fuel prices, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today claimed it was possible to cut up to Rs. 25 per litre in petrol prices but the government will not do so. In a series of tweets, the former finance minister said the bonanza to central government is Rs. 25 on every litre of petrol and this money rightfully belongs to the average consumer. "Central government saves Rs. 15 on every litre of petrol due to fall in crude oil prices. Central government puts additional tax of Rs. 10 on every litre of petrol." "It is possible to cut up to Rs. 25 per litre, but the government will not. They will cheat the people by cutting price by Rs. 1 or 2 per litre of petrol," he said on Twitter. More than a week after state-owned oil firms ended a 19-day pre-Karnataka poll hiatus on revising fuel prices, petrol and diesel rates have touched record highs. Petrol costs Rs. 76.87 per litre in Delhi and diesel costs Rs. 68.08 a litre. In the last nine days, petrol price has risen by Rs. 2.24 a litre and diesel by Rs. 2.15. Rates vary from state to state depending on the incidence of local sales tax or VAT. The prices in Delhi are the cheapest among all metros and most state capitals. The central government levies Rs. 19.48 a litre of excise duty on petrol and Rs. 15.33 per litre on diesel. State sales tax or VAT varies from state to state. Unlike excise duty, VAT is ad valorem and results in higher revenues for the state when rates move up. In Delhi, VAT on petrol was Rs. 15.84 a litre, and Rs. 9.68 on diesel in April. Now, it is Rs. 16.34 on petrol and Rs. 10.02 a litre on diesel. Every rupee cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel will result in a revenue loss of Rs. 13,000 crore. The government had raised excise duty nine times between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell, but then cut the tax just once in October last year by Rs. 2 a litre. 0 COMMENTSSubsequent to that excise duty reduction, the Centre had asked states to also lower VAT. Just four of them -- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh -- reduced rates while others including BJP-ruled ones ignored the call. In all, duty on petrol rate was hiked by Rs. 11.77 per litre and that on diesel by 13.47 a litre in those 15 months that helped governments excise mop up more than double to Rs. 2,42,000 crore in 2016-17 from Rs. 99,000 crore in 2014-15.


Palghar By-Election: Shiv Sena Accuses BJP Of "Betraying" Chintaman Wanga
MMNN:22 May 2018

MUMBAI: Shiv Sena today accused the BJP of "betraying" its late Palghar MP Chintaman Wanga by turning its back on his family and fielding Congress deserter for the Lok Sabha seat by-election. Shiv Sena claimed that the BJP did not to bother to take care of Mr Wanga's family and that none of its central leaders turned up to pay last respects to the parliamentarian after his death in New Delhi in January this year. The remarks came after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis accused the Shiv Sena of betraying the BJP by fielding Mr Wanga's son for the Palghar bypoll. He had claimed that the Sena knew that the BJP was already planning to nominate someone from Mr Wanga's family for the by-election, scheduled on May 28. Taking a dig at the senior alliance partner for fielding Rajendra Gavit, who recently left the Congress to join the the BJP, the Sena said, "It seems the BJP has democratically won the right to buy and flee with legislators, as was evident in Karnataka." Similarly, the BJP seems to have the right to make comments (on the Sena), as it is doing so in the Palghar by-election, said an editorial in the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana'. Shiv Sena also claimed that after Mr Wanga's death, nobody from the BJP visited his family, and even the chief minister and the BJP leaders turned their back on him. The BJP's office was at a distance of just five minutes from Mr Wanga's residence where he died in Delhi, it claimed, adding that "the party's president, Amit Shah, lives three minutes away." "Even other BJP leaders live nearby. But, nobody went to pay their last respects," the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said. The price of Mr Wanga's loyalty ended with his death and his family members were left to fend for themselves and insulted by the BJP, it charged. "Nobody from the BJP came ahead to take care of the family. This is like betraying him," the Marathi daily claimed. Mr Wanga's earnings were "only his Hindutva thoughts". However, insulting him after his death and openly saying that a party-changer like Rajendra Gavit was the heir to his legacy, was like "betraying" the late leader, it further stated. Mr Fadnavis had earlier said that hard work is needed to carry on the legacy of the late leader and hence the BJP gave ticket to Mr Gavit. 0 COMMENTSTaunting the BJP, the Shiv Sena said even for the gram panchayat elections, the party brings its central ministers and chief ministers of states ruled by it (for campaigning). "The BJP is behaving as if all of Maharashtra's questions have been solved and that the only one remaining is the Palghar election," it said.


Kumaraswamy's Meet With Gandhis Amid Tussle Over Number 2 Post: 10 Facts
MMNN:21 May 2018

BENGALURU: HD Kumaraswamy, the chief of Janata Dal Secular, is meeting Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi this evening amid a disagreement over the proposed post of two deputy chief ministers. While Congress local leaders say a second post will balance out the power between the two allies, sources in the JD(S) say the party is opposed to a second Number 2 to Mr Kumaraswamy, who will take oath as the Chief Minister on Wednesday. The ceremony will provide an occasion for a show of opposition strength, which several chief ministers and other leaders expected to attend.
Here are the top 10 facts in the big political story:
1-Sources said Congress' DK Shivakumar and MB Patil are among those in the race for the proposed post of the second deputy chief minister. Asked whether he would be rewarded for his role, Mr Sivakumar said it was up to the high command.
2-Under the last-minute deal between the Congress and the JD(S) on the day of counting of votes, the JD(S) will have the post of the Chief Minister and the Congress of the Deputy Chief Minister. State Congress chief G Parameswara is among those named as likely candidates for the post.
3-The Congress, which won 78 seats in comparison to Mr Kumaraswamy's party's 38, is expected to get the lion's share of the ministries. The state leaders are eyeing 20 of the 33 cabinet berths.
4-"We have to believe on the give and take policy here if you want to keep BJP away from power," said Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy. "We can't satisfy everybody, there is limitation now, some people have to sacrifice," he added.
5-Mr Kumaraswamy left for Delhi following the morning's temple run to Holenarasipura in Haasan district. He will have separate meetings with the two Gandhis, starting with Rahul Gandhi. Later, he would meet ally Mayawati, the Dalit powerhouse from Uttar Pradesh.
6-Mr Kumaraswamy is likely to take oath alone. The floor test is expected to follow within 24 hours. The rest of his cabinet is likely to be sworn in after the trust vote, Congress leader DK Shivakumar has said.
7-Till the trust vote, the Congress and the JD(S) lawmakers will be confined to their hotels. The Congress legislators are at Bengaluru's Hilton and Embassy Golf Links under the care of senior party leader DK Shivakumar. The lawmakers of the JD(S) are at the Prestige Resorts in Devanahalli in the outskirts of Bengaluru.
8-The two parties had taken the precaution of keeping their legislators on the move to prevent poaching since the election results came in and the BJP was invited to form the government as the single largest party even though they were seven seats short of majority in the 224-seat assembly.
9-While the decision of Governor Vajubhai Vala was challenged by the Congress in the Supreme Court, the trust vote did not take place. Mr Yeddyurappa stepped down at the last moment, amid Congress allegations of coercion, abduction and bribery of lawmakers.
10-Leaders of 11 opposition parties and Chief Ministers of four states -- Andhra Pradesh's N Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana's K Chandrashekar Rao, Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal -- are expected to attend Mr Kumaraswamy's oath ceremony. The gathering is likely to give direction of the opposition gameplan to take on the BJP in the next year's general elections.


BS Yeddyurappa Will Win Karnataka Trust Vote: Yashwant Sinha's Jab At BJP
MMNN:19 May 2018

BENGALURU: Yashwant Sinha, a former union minister, has been critical of the central government and his former party's leadership for its attempt to form the government in Karnataka when the BJP did not have the numbers or an alliance to reach the majority mark. Mr Sinha had headed to a spot near parliament this week to protest Governor Vajubhai Vala's controversial invite to the BJP's BS Yeddyurappa that he said, had triggered an Indian Political League, quite like the Indian Premier League, or IPL in cricket, "Now, MLAs and MPs will be auctioned. They will support those who will give them maximum money," Mr Sinha said on Thursday, a reference to the governor giving Mr Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his majority. Soon after the Supreme Court gave Chief Minister Yeddyurappa just 24 hour notice to face the trust vote at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Mr Sinha tweeted another sharp attack on the ruling BJP. "I can predict that tomorrow's vote of confidence in Karnataka will be won by BJP by foul means. Just wait and watch," Yashwant Sinha, who formally quit the BJP on the birthday of his son Jayant Sinha, a minister in PM Modi's government, said. The jibe came less than 24 hours before Mr Yeddyurappa, sworn in as Chief Minister on the strength of his claim that the people of Karnataka had delivered the mandate to the BJP. The BJP has 104 seats in the state assembly that has an effective strength of 221 members. The Congress and Janata Dal Secular alliance won 78 and 37 seats respectively. Mr Sinha's tweet was a follow-up to his forecast a day earlier that the political developments in Karnataka was, in his words, "a rehearsal" of what would happen in the national capital after the 2019 general elections if the BJP-led coalition didn't get a clear majority. Yashwant Sinha held the Finance and External Affairs portfolios in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet between 1998 and 2004. 67 COMMENTSMr Sinha was one of the veteran leaders of the BJP to be marginalised along with senior leaders including Murli Manohar Joshi and LK Advani after PM Narendra Modi's stunning victory in 2014. It was seen as a punishment for opposing Mr Modi being named their party's presumptive prime minister. Unlike Mr Advani and Mr Joshi who have kept a low profile, Mr Sinha has been ruthless in his takedown of the central government. Last year, he had skewered his government's economic performance and has since then kept the barbs coming


15 Days Cut To 24 Hours: Yeddyurappa Has To Prove Majority Tomorrow At 4
MMNN:18 May 2018

The BJP's BS Yeddyurappa, who was sworn in yesterday as Chief Minister of a minority government in Karnataka, has to take a trust vote at 4 pm tomorrow, the Supreme Court said today, drastically slashing to 24 hours the time he has to win over more lawmakers. Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala had controversially given Mr Yeddyurappa 15 days for a test of strength. Mr Yeddyurappa's lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, the former top lawyer for the central government, asked for a week but the court rejected it. "Better that the floor test is on Saturday (tomorrow) so that nobody gets any time," said one of the three judges hearing the case. Mr Yeddyurappa's request for a secret ballot was also denied. The BJP is eight members short of the 112-majority mark in Karnataka. On Wednesday night, a day after Karnataka produced a hung verdict, the Governor decided to invite the BJP instead of the Congress-Janata Dal Secular combine, which claimed 117 lawmakers. The Congress challenged his decision in the Supreme Court the same night. After an all-night hearing, the court didn't stop Mr Yeddyurappa's oath ceremony, but said it would continue hearing the case and raised concerns about an "open invitation to horse-trading" When the court asked Mr Rohatgi how the BJP would get numbers, he said: "Support will come from Congress and JDS MLAs, more cannot be said at this point." In Bengaluru, Mr Yeddyurappa said in response to the ruling: "We will get a good majority. We will prove the majority." His party, the BJP tweeted: "Bring it on!" Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the court order vindicated his party's stand. "The BJP's bluff that it will form the Govt., even without the numbers, has been called out by the court. Stopped legally, they will now try money and muscle, to steal the mandate," he tweeted. After today's interim order, the court will later decide on the bigger question - whether in case of a split verdict, it is the single largest party without a majority or an alliance with a majority that gets first shot at power. A pro-tem or temporary speaker appointed by the governor, in this case BJP legislator KG Bopaiah, will supervise the floor test, and also vote if there's a tie. Mr Yeddyurappa has been ordered not to take any executive decisions until the floor test. The nomination of an Anglo-Indian legislator by the governor has also been scrapped. Fearing bribes and threats to engineer defections, the Congress-JDS combine shifted lawmakers around all of yesterday and past midnight, moved them out of Bengaluru in three buses. Their plan to fly them out in chartered flights failed as Congress leaders claimed they were not granted permission. 138 COMMENTSThe three buses drove into Hyderabad this morning and the lawmakers checked into a five-star hotel. They now have to double back for the floor test. The Congress and JDS allege that the lawmakers were threatened and also offered Rs. 100 crore bribes and ministries. One of the lawmakers, Anand Singh, was "kidnapped", the Congress claimed. Another Congress legislator also went MIA after putting down his signature on a list of party legislators.


Yeddyurappa's Low-Key Oath In Karnataka, Court Battle Still On: 10 Facts
MMNN:17 May 2018

BENGALURU, KARNATAKA: BJP's BS Yeddyurappa took oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka today after a rollercoaster day and a night-long court-room battle. The rare post-midnight sitting of the court took place after the Congress and ally JD(S) challenged Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to invite the BJP to form government despite the strength of alliance numbers. The BJP has 105 lawmakes, including an Independent, in comparison to the 117 lawmakers of the alliance in the 224-member assembly. Mr Yeddyurappa has 15 days to prove his majority. The court said while it is allowing the oath to proceed, it would be "subject to the outcome of the case".
Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
1-Mr Yeddyurappa took oath at a low-key function at the Governor's House in Bengaluru. His cabinet will be named only after he proves his strength in a floor test at the assembly. "I seek support of all 224 legislators. I am sure they will vote according to their conscience. I am sure of winning vote of confidence and will serve 5 year term," he later said.
2-Governor Vala had extended invitation to the BJP after meeting both sides during the day. The formal letter was delivered to BS Yeddyurppa's house late in the evening.
3-The Congress, which had been prepping a petition all through Wednesday in view of such an eventuality, immediately moved to court, calling Governor's decision "an encounter of constitution".
4-The party also requested a freeze on the oath ceremony and contended that the long time-frame encouraged horse-trading. "It is the biggest license to poaching if the governor gives 15 days to BJP to prove majority as in earlier such cases 48 hours were given by SC," said Abhishek Singhvi, who was representing the alliance in court.
5-KK Venugopal, the government's former top law officer, insisted that the court could not stay the governor's decision. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing two BJP lawmakers, said no injunction can be issued to the governor.
6-The top court has ordered the BJP to produce the letters submitted by BS Yeddyurappa to the governor to stake claim to form the government. "JDS and Congress outweigh the BJP. In a situation like this, on what basis has Mr Yeddyurappa claimed he has the numbers...Arithmetic defies the way he was invited," the court observed.
7-JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy alleged that the BJP promised people in his party 100 crores in cash and cabinet posts and 32 of his lawmakers have been approached by the party.
8-To prevent poaching, the Congress-JD(S) alliance is moving all their lawmakers out of Karnataka. Reports suggest they will be moved to Cochin.
9-The Congress had swiftly sealed the deal with JD(S) after being heavily outnumbered by the BJP during the counting of votes on Tuesday. The party had offered the regional JD(S) the big brother's role, offering unconditional support. On Wednesday, the alliance had staked claim at a meeting with the Governor, submitting a letter of support for JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy signed by 116 legislators.
10-The BJP contended that it should be allowed to form the government as it is the single largest party. The Congress disputed the claim, citing the precedent set by the BJP in Goa and Manipur last year. In both states, the Congress emerged the single largest party but the BJP cobbled up alliances and was invited to form the government.


After "Missing MLAs" Scare, Busload Of Congress Men Taken To Karnataka Governor
MMNN:16 May 2018

As five Karnataka lawmakers went "incommunicado" on Wednesday morning, an orange alert went out across the Congress-Janata Dal Secular (JDS) combine, which claims enough numbers to form government, with a few to spare, following a hung verdict in the state. Hours later, the Congress said all but one legislator of the party are on board. A busload of 77 lawmakers was driven to Governor Vajubhai Vala's home in Bengaluru on Wednesday evening. The bus-driver kept a headcount with a list that had details of the lawmakers. "All of them are with us, we will parade them before the government if necessary," said one Congress lawmaker. A meeting of the newly-elected Congress legislators was delayed in the morning as the party couldn't communicate with three of its lawmakers, Rajshekhar Patil, Nagendra and Anand Singh. Anand Singh and Nagendra are close to the Reddy brothers, who are linked to the BJP. Only Anand Singh is still missing. Two JDS members, Raja Venkatappa Nayaka and Venkata Rao Nadagouda, were also missing from their party's meeting at a five-star hotel in Bengaluru. Another Congress lawmaker claimed he had been approached by the BJP, which had yesterday asked the governor for a chance to prove its majority. "I got a call from the BJP leaders. They said come to us and said we'll give a ministry to you. We'll make you a minister. But, I'm going to stay here. HD Kumaraswamy is our chief minister," said Amaregouda Linganagouda Patil Bayyapur. A JDS lawmaker Sarvanna has reportedly said four or five of his colleagues were approached. Outgoing chief minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress, however, denied the "missing" reports. "All the Congress MLAs are intact. Nobody is missing. We are confident of forming the government," he said as he arrived at the Congress party headquarters for the lawmakers' meeting. Congress leaders say there are plans to sequester their legislators. "They (BJP) are poaching our MLAs, and we know that. Everyday, there is a lot of pressure. But it is not so easy as two parties have the necessary numbers. However, we are taking all necessary steps," said Congress leader DK Shivakumar. A BJP leader said on record that his party is in touch with Congress and JDS legislators. "The people of Karnataka have believed in BJP, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and Amit Shah. That is why the BJP will form the government here. A lot of people are angry within the JDS and within the Congress. They will come to BJP," said BJP leader KS Eshwarappa. The Karnataka verdict has left room for negotiations as the BJP is desperate for numbers, allege Congress and JDS leaders. The BJP emerged as the largest party in Karnataka but missed the magic number of 112 by eight seats. The Congress has won 78 seats and the JDS's 38. Along with two independents, the combine claims a comfortable majority. 57 COMMENTSThe fear of "MLA shopping" was raised yesterday by JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy, who is looking to become chief minister with the support of the Congress despite his party finishing third. Mr Kumaraswamy accused the BJP of launching "Operation Lotus Part 2". In 2008, in the manoeuvre that critics dubbed "Operation Lotus", at least six JDS and Congress resigned and crossed over when the party was short of a majority


Karnataka assembly election results: As majority mark eludes BJP, here’s what could happen
MMNN:15 May 2018

Karnataka’s political theatre has just drastically opened up in a matter of hours. If early leads in the assembly election results suggested a clear win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), enabling it to form a majority government, latest trends suggest that the BJP may fall short of the majority mark. The Congress has used this gap and extended support to the Janata Dal (Secular) with an offer of the chief minister’s post.
Here is what could happen in Bengaluru:
1. JD(S)-Congress government: With the second and third-largest parties coming together, at 3:15 pm, the Congress and JD(S) make it to 115 seats (EC data; out of the 222 seats which went to polls -- polling for two seats will be held later). This makes it the largest combine in the house. Together, they can stake claim to form the government, submit a list of signatures of all MLAs to the governor Vajubhai Vala, and on that basis, the governor could invite the JD(S) legislative party leader -- which will in all likelihood be HD Kumaraswamy -- to form the government and prove his majority on the floor of the house.
2. BJP government: The BJP is clearly the single-largest party in the Karnataka assembly. The BJP leader of the assembly, which will, in all likelihood be BS Yeddyuruppa, could stake the claim to form the government. The governor may decide that since the BJP is the single largest force, it deserves the first chance. Once Yeddyuruppa is sworn in, he will have to prove his majority on the floor of the house. In this scenario, it will be instructive to watch if the JD(S)-Congress coalition can stay together, or if a section of JD(S) splits and moves away to BJP, or if a section abstains. In the second and third situation, if BJP can win over a section of the MLAs from JD(s) and independents, the party is through.
3. BJP-JD(S) government: Given that the JD(S) is the key swing force, tables may turn if the BJP decides to make a corresponding offer to the JD(S). This could be of a rotational chief ministership; it could entail plum portfolios at the centre besides a stake at the level of the state. While this is not the most likely scenario at the moment, it cannot be ruled out entirely.


Shashi Tharoor Charged With Aiding Sunanda Pushkar's Suicide
MMNN:14 May 2018

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has been charged with abetting the suicide of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, who was found dead in a five-star hotel in Delhi in 2014. Mr Tharoor, a parliamentarian from Kerala, has also been accused of cruelty in his marriage by a police chargesheet submitted in a Delhi court today. Mr Tharoor, in tweets, called the charges "preposterous". Backing him, the Congress denounced what it called a "politically motivated chargesheet". Mr Tharoor is the only person named as an accused in the 3,000-page chargesheet. Sunanda Pushkar, 51, was found dead in her hotel suite on January 17, 2014, days after she publicly accused her husband of having an affair with a Pakistani journalist. A day before, she had called a prominent journalist and had talked about a big reveal. The police first claimed that Sunanda Pushkar was poisoned, and registered a murder case in January 2015 without naming any suspect. The AIIMS hospital had called her death "unnatural". The police now say they have no proof of murder but it was evident Sunanda Pushkar had been driven to suicide; she had not been eating or even leaving her room, the charge-sheet reportedly says. Police sources say the couple fought frequently and Sunanda Pushkar had been taking depression pills without prescription. 2 COMMENTSSince Mr Tharoor and Ms Pushkar married in 2010, their high-profile relationship was often in the media glare. The 62-year-old former union minister was questioned more than once by the police, who had asked him to describe the circumstances in which his wife checked into the hotel two days before her death. The couple had allegedly had a huge fight on a flight from Kerala to Delhi.


Govt mulling six-month jail term for those abandoning elderly parents
MMNN:12 May 2018

The Narendra Modi government is planning to increase the jail term for those who abandon or abuse their elderly parents, to six months from the existing three months, according to a senior official. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which is reviewing the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 , has also proposed widening the definition of children to include adopted or step children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, grandchildren and minors represented by their legal guardians, the senior ministry official said. Only biological children and grandchildren come under the provisions of the existing Act. The Ministry has drafted the the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Draft Bill, 2018, which once approved will supersede the existing act. The draft Act also proposes doing away with an upper limit of Rs 10,000 per month as maintenance amount, thus making it variable. “Those who earn well can and should of course shell out higher amount for the upkeep of their parents. Also the definition of the term maintenance should go beyond providing food, clothing, housing, health care and include safety and security of parents,” the official said. The Act in its current form makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens and parents, by monthly allowance of Rs 10,000. Elderly parents can approach a Maintenance Tribunal in case their children neglect or refuse to maintain them.


High Profile Mumbai Police Officer Himanshu Roy Allegedly Commits Suicide
MMNN:11 May 2018

Himanshu Roy, a senior Maharashtra police officer involved in many high-profile investigations, allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself at his home in Mumbai on Friday. A former chief of the Anti-Terror Squad of Maharashtra, Himanshu Roy was an Additional Director General of Police. The 1988 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) Officer allegedly shot himself using his service revolver around 1.40 pm. He was brought dead to hospital. The 54-year-old was believed to be battling cancer and had gone on long leave on medical grounds. His death has stunned his colleagues A charismatic officer, Himanshu Roy led investigations into several big cases including the 2013 Indian Premier League spot-fixing, the 2012 murder of lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha and the J Dey murder. While he was heading the anti-terror squad, he arrested software engineer Anees Ansari for allegedly planning to blow up the American School. "He was a very bright officer. Such a tragedy," said MN Singh, who was his superior once. The officer, regarded by colleagues as committed, sharp and popular, had seven years of service left. Arup Patnaik, one of his colleagues, said: "He was a fitness freak. He was at an advanced stage of cancer and couldn't take it anymore. It is very, very unfortunate." In 2015, Himanshu Roy was among police officers who were seen to be sidelined after they wrote to the Maharashtra home department alleging poor treatment by seniors and favouritism in transfers. He lost his elite posting as chief of the anti-terror squad and was moved to an insignificant role, the additional director general in charge of police housing. Months later, he went on medical leave. In recent months, his colleagues and journalists had heard him talk about retiring early from the police force.


Kidnappers Disguised As Students In Lodge As They Kept Bihar Teen Captive
MMNN:10 May 2018

PATNA: An abducted boy was rescued and five of his abductors were arrested on Thursday morning Patna the police said. Sunny Kumar, a Class 9 student was abducted in Saran district two days ago and the abductors had demanded a ransom of Rs. 60 lakh for his release from his father, a contractor, and threatened to kill the boy if the amount was not paid soon. Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said a joint police team of Patna and Saran rescued Sunny. "Police raided a lodge in Bahadurpur locality, rescued the boy, arrested five abductors and seized arms," said Maharaj. According to the police officials, the abductors had kept Sunny in a room of a lodge. Sunny was kidnapped when he was returning home after school. The abductors were living in the lodge disguised as students. Earlier this week a minor girl, a Class 3 student of a private school, was abducted in broad daylight by criminals in Purnea district. The abducted girl was the daughter of a businessman. However, the police rescued the girl within six hours and arrested the abductors. 0 COMMENTSOver a dozen cases of abduction have been reported in the state in 2018. In January, a 16-year-old boy, son of a property dealer, was kidnapped for ransom and was later found murdered.


Jinnah Portrait Row: Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Meets Rajnath Singh
MMNN:9 May 2018

NEW DELHI: Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Tariq Mansoor today met Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss issues concerning the premier academic institution, engulfed in controversy over a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah on its premises, an official said. Rajnath Singh assured Mr Mansoor of all help from the central government in restoring normalcy in the university, the official privy to the meeting told news agency PTI. Mr Mansoor later told reporters that the meeting was fixed long ago and had nothing to do with the current controversy. "I have requested the home minister to send Central government officials for the recruitment of students in central services like the engineering service," he said. The vice chancellor said the portrait of the Pakistan founder had been hanging in the Aligarh Muslim University students' union office since 1938 and it was a non-issue. BJP MP Satish Gautam had written a letter to Mr Mansoor objecting to the portrait, triggering a row that led to two youths being arrested in connection with incidents of violence and exams being postponed to May 12. The vice chancellor had yesterday told students on a sit-in over the issue to get back to their studies. In an open letter, he urged them "not to fall into the trap of certain forces which are bent upon destroying the image of our alma mater and are playing with your bright future". The university has formed a 16-member coordination committee of senior faculty members to talk with the protesting students. 0 COMMENTSSeveral Aligarh Muslim University students are on an indefinite 'dharna' after a clash with the police on May 2 when they were demanding action against right-wing protesters who had entered the campus, shouting slogans. They are asking for a judicial probe into the "police inaction" and the manner in which the row erupted after the BJP MP objected to the portrait.


CPI(M), BJP tie up to counter Trinamool in Nadia ahead of Bengal panchayat polls
MMNN:8 May 2018

Arch-rivals BJP and the CPI(M) have joined hands in Nadia district to defeat the Trinamool Congress in the upcoming panchayat polls in West Bengal. Describing it as a “formal seat sharing adjustment”, a district level CPI(M) leader said that the party had to opt for seat adjustment in many seats as several villagers wanted a one-to-one fight against the TMC. The CPI(M), which follows an ideology opposite to that of the BJP, has described the saffron party as a “divisive force”. The BJP’s north Nadia district unit president termed the development as an “isolated incident”. The bonhomie first came to light in the last week of April when both the parties organised a joint protest rally in Karimpur-Ranaghat area of Nadia district against the alleged violence of the TMC during the panchayat poll process. Cadre of both parties carried their respective flags during the protest programme. CPI(M) Nadia district secretary and state committee member Sumit De agreed that there have been adjustments at the grassroot levels in many seats as several villagers were in favour of a one-to-one fight. It has nothing to do with the party’s policy, he added. “Yes, there have been adjustments at the grassroot level. In many seats as the villagers had wanted one-to-one fight, we had to respect it and act accordingly. But it is not that there have been several rounds of discussions between parties and it is a formal seat sharing adjustment,” De told PTI. Senior CPI(M) leader and state committee member Rama Biswas, who was present at the joint rally of the BJP and CPI(M), admitted that a rally had been taken out by villagers against the violence of the TMC. West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh too admitted that supporters of the BJP and the CPI(M) were present at the rally “I have received information that we had called a rally against the violence of the TMC. CPI(M) workers also came and joined our protest rally as they too were attacked,” Ghosh told PTI. A senior state BJP leader who did not wish to be named, said in areas where the BJP could not field a candidate “it has given enough hints to the voters and party cadres to counter the TMC which has unleashed violence”. Agreeing that such “isolated incidents” had taken place, the BJP north Nadia district president Mahadeb Sarkar told PTI, “In some seats where we could not field candidates, our workers at the grassroot level have extended support to independent candidates”. “In most cases, these independent candidates are actually CPI(M) workers”, he said. In several gram panchayat seats of Nadia-Karimpur area, BJP candidates were asked to withdraw their nominations so that the CPI(M) could fight against the TMC and vice-versa, a district BJP leader said. In those seats, the party (either CPI(M) or BJP) which has not fielded any candidate is campaigning for the other one to defeat the TMC, the BJP leader of Nadia’s Karimpur area, who did not wish to be named, said. CPI(M) central committee leader Sujan Chakraborty said few “isolated incidents” should not to used to judge the CPI(M)’s political line against BJP. “We are the only party in India which has the most clear approach against BJP and its communal policies. We are not like the TMC which is not serious about fighting BJP. Our policies should not be judged based on isolated incidents. In panchayat poll such isolated incidents do happen. You will find it in other parties also”, Chakraborty said. The TMC claimed that the political development in Nadia only proves that the BJP and the CPI(M) are having a “tacit understanding in Bengal”. “We are not surprised at this development as we were aware of such developments in various districts. Only the TMC is serious about fighting the BJP and its anti-people policies,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said. According to West Bengal SEC (State Election Commission) sources, of the 48,650 seats in 3,358 gram panchayats, 16,814 were uncontested and of the 9,217 seats in 341 panchayat samitis, 3,059 were uncontested. In the 20 zilla parishads, 203 of the 825 seats were uncontested, they said.


Trial in Kathua Rape-Murder Will Be Held In Pathankot, Says Supreme Court: 10 Facts
MMNN:7 May 2018

NEW DELHI: The trial in the gangrape and murder of an 8-year-old in Kathua, which triggered global condemnation, will be held in Punjab's Pathankot, the Supreme Court said today. The call for transfer came from the child's family as the issue triggered a backlash in Jammu and Kashmir and rallies were held in favour of the accused. "Fear and fair trial can't exist together," the top court said, adding it would monitor the trial. The horrific assault was an attempt to terrorise and push out a nomadic Muslim community from Hindu majority areas of Jammu, the police have said.
Here are the top 10 updates in this big story:
1-The 8-year-old was kidnapped from Kathua's Rasana village in January while she was grazing horses. For a week, she was drugged, starved and gangraped before her head was bashed in with a stone.
2-The eight accused include a couple of policemen and a juvenile. The chargesheet said one of the policemen asked the killer to wait so he could rape the girl for one last time.
3-Ordering that the trial be fast-tracked, the Supreme Court said proceedings will be held every day and there will be no adjournment. The trial will be closed to the press and the public, the top court said in its order.
4-The Supreme Court said the trial will be held according to the provisions of Ranbir Penal Code, which is applicable in Jammu and Kashmir.
5-The accused in the case have sought a CBI investigation, which is pending in Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who was part of the three-judge bench hearing the case, however said, "No other court will hear any case on this issue as we are monitoring it".
6-Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said, "Security is the main concern... we have adequate security in Pathankot".
7-Two days before the court's verdict, the child's mother told NDTV that she feared that the family will be murdered if the accused get released. "People in four villages are after our lives. We are only four people... everything is gone; our house, our entire property is gone... If there is no justice, shoot all four of us," she said.
8-The murder had triggered a backlash in Jammu. Rallies were held to show support for the accused, which was attended by two ministers. They had to step down later. The lawyers in Jammu held protests at court premises and stopped police officers from entering the court for hours to file the chargesheet.
9-Deepika Rajawat, the advocate representing the child's family, said members of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association had threatened her, demanding that she does not appear in the case. The association denied the allegation.
10-Earlier, the Bar Council of India gave a clean chit to the Jammu lawyers. After an on-the-ground investigation, it told the Supreme Court that the Jammu lawyers did not obstruct justice and their demand for a CBI investigation into the matter is "justified".


After Criticism, Yogi Adityanath Cuts Karnataka Campaign Over UP Deaths
MMNN:4 May 2018

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will cut short his election campaign in Karnataka later today and head back to Uttar Pradesh where more than 73 people had died in a dust-storm followed by heavy rains on Wednesday night. The weather office has predicted more thunderstorms in parts of the country including Uttar Pradesh. The Chief Minister's Office said he would reach Agra later this evening and visit the most affected areas tomorrow morning. Agra bore the maximum brunt of the dust-storm that was accompanied by heavy rain, killing at least 43 people. Later on Saturday, he will travel to Kanpur. The Uttar Chief Minister was earlier scheduled to continue campaigning in Karnataka till Saturday noon and leave after addressing two more election meetings. His decision to stay put had been sharply criticised in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the target of his election speeches, had led the charge, expressing his condolences for the deaths. "I am sorry your CM is needed here in Karnataka. I am sure he will return soon and attend to his work there," he said. In Lucknow, former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav too had criticised Yogi Adityanath, the monk-politician who is seen as a Hindutva mascot. "People chose Yogi Adityanath to solve the issues of their state, not for politics in Karnataka. If he cannot return even in such circumstances, then he should form a math and stay in Karnataka forever," Mr Yadav had tweeted yesterday. 0 COMMENTSHours after the stinging barbs, Yogi Adityanath had tweeted that officials had been ordered to compile an estimate of the damage by Friday evening. This morning, the Chief Minister's office appeared to suggest on Twitter that the officials and the ministers responsible for the affected districts were doing fine on their own. To a tweet urging Yogi Adityanath to return, the official handle declared that "95.89 per cent" relief assistance had been disbursed within 24 hours.


In Handling Of Cauvery Water, BJP Could Boost "Secret Ally" Deve Gowda
MMNN:3 May 2018

For his onslaught of opprobrium against Rahul Gandhi this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the region of Old Mysuru as the venue. As anyone with even passing knowledge of Mr Modi's SOP will confirm, nothing he delivers while in campaign mode is not premeditated. In the last Karnataka election five years ago, the BJP, heavily impugned by rival factions, was in third place in this area. The Congress won most of the 82 seats, Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) was runner up. A year later, however, the region proved to be as susceptible to the high-voltage charisma of Mr Modi as other parts of the country. This time around, the BJP is keeping its fingers crossed for a replay, hopeful that the youth, in particular, will be influenced by Mr Modi's public meetings and choose his party But converting the 11 districts that form Old Mysuru into BJP turf is a tough ask. Which is why there is speculation that the party has an undeclared understanding with Mr Gowda that sees the BJP putting up weak or inconsequential candidates in areas where his contenders are strong. In 2013, Mr Gowda's party won 24 of its 40 seats from south Karnataka(including old Mysuru ) where the Vokkaligas, the community to which he belongs, is the dominant force. In an acknowledgement of the heavy lifting it needs in southern Karnataka, the BJP has "imported" CR Patil, a parliamentarian from Gujarat assigned last year to managing Surat, the bastion of the Patels, at a time when the community was seen as having turned against the party. He delivered a blockbuster result, which burnished his credentials as a close aide of the PM and BJP chief Amit Shah. "I am confident of reaching from zero to two digits in these 4 districts, Mysuru, Mandya, Hassan and Chamarajanagar, assigned to me," Mr Patil, who is in charge of development work in the PM's constituency of Varanasi, told NDTV. He refused to comment on whether his calculation factors in the secret understanding with Mr Gowda alleged by the opposition and bragged about by workers of both their parties. The pre-voting prater of the Mr Gowda and the BJP being undeclared allies could hurt the JD(S) when Karnataka votes on May 12; results will be declared on May 15. "We don't want to waste our vote on a party that is not in a position to form the government on its own and might join hands rather than take on anti-constitution and anti-minority forces,'' said a group of engineering students in Mysuru without revealing their caste or naming any party. But there are two formidable reasons that explain why Mr Gowda is seen as central to this election. First, the forecast of opinion polls that no party will win with enough numbers to form the government. This means Mr Gowda and his JD(S) will have to be annexed by either the Congress or the BJP. Second, the rural distress that is crushing farmers in the state. Mr Gowda, a former prime minister now 84 years old, continues to brand himself as "a son of the soil". As election season approached, he strategised, with his son HD Kumaraswamy, to appropriate the early support of farmers at a time when rural distress in Karnataka has leapt off the charts during a lengthy drought. Sugar cane cultivators account for the maximum number of farmer suicides in the state which have added upto 3,500 in the last four years. Karnataka is the second-driest state in the country after Rajasthan. Realising the emotive appeal of water at a time when farmers are really hurting, Mr Gowda fasted for a day in 2016 to draw attention to the decades-old and then unresolved dispute between Karnataka and neighbouring Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery river. When the Supreme Court in February delivered its verdict, according more water to Karnataka, the JD(S) was quick to claim credit. The centre's subsequent delay in creating an autonomous board to handle the distribution of the Cauvery waters, as ordered by the top court, is a play by the BJP for the support of farmers in the Cauvery basin. It is this area that is of unrivalled importance to Mr Gowda- it is home to the four districts of Mysuru, Mandya, Hassan and Chamarajanagar that are his strongest supporters. In north Karnataka, in comparison, the JD(S) has no real base of its own, and has been less aggressive than the Congress and the BJP in highlighting another huge water dispute, this one between Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa over the sharing of waters of the Mahadayi river. For nearly 1,000 days-since July 2015 - farmers in Karnataka who are desperate for more Mahadayi water have been on protest, holding rallies, sit-ins and strikes in the town of Nargund. From a small makeshift stage near the bustling bus-station, they have been demanding water from the Mahadayi river for drinking and irrigating their fields "In the summer months, we get drinking water just once in 15 days,'' says Yakub, a farmer whose crop has been obliterated for the last three years because of the drought. Last year, the Supreme Court ordered Karnataka to stop the construction of a canal for rerouting water from the river. In January, the Goa Water Resources Minister Vinod Palyekar said Karnataka was stealing water nonetheless and said it was a state full of "bastards." Meanwhile, the BJP's chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa produced a letter from Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar expressing his willingness to reach an agreement -which farmers were quick to dismiss as a political stunt. "If the BJP government in Goa was serious, the letter would have been addressed to the Karnataka government. Obviously, it was only a cheap gimmick by the BJP to corner votes of farmers in the region. No one was fooled," says Kodihalli Chandrashekar, one of the leaders of the agitation. 0 COMMENTS"The BJP has made it clear that the problem can be resolved only if it is elected to power in Karnataka as well, along with Goa, Maharashtra and the Centre. ...our aim is not to defeat or elect any one political party but to keep putting pressure on all three till our demands are met, " says Shrinivas, the 28-year-old son of a farmer who works as an IT professional in Bengaluru. The protesting farmers in Nargund point out that the Cauvery and Mahadayi disputes have, over time, made the political careers of many leaders across parties - none of whom have gone on to deliver the goods.


CCEA hikes financial aid to sugarcane farmers by Rs 5.50 per quintal
MMNN:2 May 2018

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has come to the rescue of sugar cane farmers by approving financial assistance of Rs 5.50 per quintal of cane crushed in sugar season 2017-18 to sugar mills to offset the cost of cane and help sugar mills clear cane farmers’ dues. The approval comes following higher sugar production against the estimated consumption during the current sugar season 2017-18 which has resulted in crash in sugar prices since the commencement of the season,leading to accumulation of cane price dues of farmers which have reached more than Rs 19,000 crore. Briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Law and Information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the assistance would be paid directly to the farmers on behalf of the mills and would be adjusted against the cane price payable due to the farmers against Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) including arrears relating to previous years. ‘Subsequent balance if any, shall be credited into the mill’s account,’ he said, adding that assistance shall be provided to those mills which will fulfil the eligibility conditions as decided by the Government. To stabilise sugar prices at reasonable level and improve liquidity position of mills thereby enabling them to clear cane price dues of farmers, the Government has taken a series of steps in the past three months including increased customs duty on import of sugar from 50 per cent to 100 per cent in the interest of farmers and imposed reverse stock holding limits on sugar producers for the months of February and March 2018. The Government has also fully withdrawn the customs duty on export of sugar to encourage the sugar industry to start exploring possibility of export of sugar. In view of the inventory levels with the sugar industry and to facilitate achievement of financial liquidity, mill-wise Minimum Indicative Export Quotas (MIEQ) have been fixed for sugar season 2017-18. Export quotas of 20 lakh tonnes of all grades of sugar; raw, plantation white as well as refined, have been prorated among sugar factories by taking into account their average production of sugar achieved by the sugar mills during last two operational sugar seasons and the current season (up to February, 2018). Further, to facilitate and incentivise export of surplus sugar by sugar mills, the Government has allowed duty free Import Authorisation (DFIA) scheme in respect of sugar.


PM Modi attacks ‘naamdar’ Congress, pitches ‘kaamdar’ BJP in Karnataka
MMNN:1 May 2018

Karnataka’s voters have to choose between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that works for progress and the Congress that has only the “name” of its top leadership, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. Modi, in his first formal election rally for the BJP in Karnataka, thanked labourers and workers for achieving his government’s target of bringing electricity to all villages and attacked the Congress party for allegedly disregarding working class people. “I want to dedicate the historical achievement of the country on 28 April, when all villages in India were electrified, to the workers and labourers of the country on this Labour Day,” he said in Santhemarahalli in Chamarajanagara district. “The Congress president is namdaar (dynast) so how does he know about the efforts of kaamdaars (people who work)” he said, referring to his rival Rahul Gandhi. “Perhaps due to over excitement, the newly elected Congress president forgets decency. He did not even bother to congratulate the hardworking ‘Mazdoors’ due to whom India’s villages are getting electricity.” Modi said Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi had failed in their promise of electrifying the entire country by 2009 when the Congress governed the country, but now were questioning his government’s achievement. Modi criticised Congress leader and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah for fighting elections from two seats and his son from another. “There is 2+1 formula which is being practised in Karnataka, it’s a version of the Congress’s family politics in Karnataka. Kabhi kabhi jaagnewale aur zadatar soonewale yahan ke CM ka yeh political innovation hai (This is the initiative of the chief minister, who is mostly sleeping).” “In Karnataka there is no law, there is no order. The Lokayukta is not safe, how can the common people be safe,” he said, referring to the attack on the state’s anti-corruption watchdog on March 7. Modi will address 15 rallies in five days across Karnataka, which votes for its 224-seat assembly on May 12, underlining the state’s importance for his government. Two opinion polls released on April 23 predicted a hung assembly in the elections, with both suggesting that a new government in the state would have to be formed in coalition with the Janata Dal (Secular).


Robbers loot newly-wed couple, kill bride on NH58 near Meerut
MMNN:28 April 2018

Criminals shot dead a newly married bride after looting her and her husband of cash and jewellery and took away their car near village Mataur on National Highway 58 on Friday night in yet another reminder that highway travel at night in western Uttar Pradesh remains dangerous. Shahjeb, a resident of Mimlana road of Muzaffarnagar and his bride Fahrana of Nahal village of Ghaziabad were returning home along with Shahjeb’s family members. They had stopped for food at a roadside restaurant near Partapur on NH-58. When they resumed their journey around 11 pm, four criminals in a car started chasing them and overtook their car near village Mataur, barely a km away from Daurala police station. The criminals held the victims at gun point and directed them to hand over cash and jewellery. One of the goons then approached Fahrana who was still sitting inside the car and asked to hand over her jewellery and shot her when she resisted. The criminals than dragged the injured bride out of the car and drove away with the loot and the car. Shahjeb and his family members then informed their relatives who were travelling in two more cars through a different route about the incident. They arrived on the spot and took Fahrana to the Muzaffarnagar medical college about 25 km away where doctors declared her brought dead. Police have launched a manhunt for the criminals and are examining CCTV footage of petrol pumps and Western UP toll roads to identify the robbers. Manzil Saini, senior superintendent of police, Meerut and other senior officials rushed to the spot and directed officials of crime branch and local police to identify and arrest the criminal. “We are investigating from all angles,” Saini said. The incident has raised question about safety and security of commuters on National Highway -58 which connects Delhi to Dehradun and Haridwar and Lakhan. Police had claimed of that security on highways in Uttar Pradesh had been tightened after the gruesome rape with a mother and her minor daughter off the highway in Bulandshahar in July 2016. But Friday’s highway robbery and murder have once again highlighted that safety on highways is still elusive at night.


Chief Justice Is The "Master Of Roster" In Supreme Court: Attorney General""
MMNN:27 April 2018

NEW DELHI: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Friday told the Supreme Court that the Chief Justice of India is the "master of roster" and he has full power to allocate cases and to maintain discipline. Mr Venugopal told a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan that vesting case allocation with multi-member collegium instead of the Chief Justice would create multiple authority and result in "conflict and chaos". Mr Venugopal said if all the judges of the top court or collegium decide the allocation, then "each judge would express preference" and the judicial system would "collapse". Mr Venugopal referred to many judgements to underline that the Chief Justice was the master of roster. If all judges or five-member collegium judges decide the allocation, "there will be conflict, there will be chaos if judges decide which case they should hear, which bench they should preside". The court had earlier sought Mr Venugopal's assistance on a plea by former Law Minister and senior counsel Shanti Bhuhan, seeking that the allocation of "important and sensitive cases" be done by the collegium of five senior-most judges and not by the Chief Justice alone. The court reserved its verdict on the plea. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Shanti Bhushan, told the bench that "sensitive cases" like those which directly touch upon the very "survival of democracy" should not be left to the discretion of the Chief Justice. In his plea, Mr Bhushan said the authority of the Chief Justice as a master of roster was not an "absolute, arbitrary, singular power" which may be exercised in his "sole discretion" and the Chief Justice must exercise his authority in consultation with other senior judges who are also part of the collegium. 0 COMMENTSThe collective opinion of a collegium was much safer than the opinion of the Chief Justice alone, it said.


Yogi Adityanath, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati To Tour Poll-Bound Karnataka""
MMNN:26 April 2018

LUCKNOW: The Karnataka ssembly polls are the new battle field for political stalwarts of Uttar Pradesh including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati, who will be criss-crossing the state to turn the tide in favour of their respective parties. Mr Adityanath will be seen in action, addressing as many as 35 rallies and road shows the saffron party has organised for him as the Nath sect, to which he belongs, wields considerable clout in coastal Karnataka, BJP sources said today. As per the party's plans, the chief minister's hectic Karnataka tour will begin on May 3 and he will be there holding rallies daily between May 7 and 10, BJP spokesperson Shalabh Mani Tripathi told PTI. Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav will also be touring the state to champion his party's cause in those constituencies where the Samajwadi Party is in the fray. "The SP has fielded over two dozen candidates in Karnataka. The party president will be campaigning there for our candidates. The tour details will be finalised in a day or two," party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury said. When asked specifically as to whether Akhilesh Yadav will campaign for the Congress too, Mr Chowdhury said, "He will campaign for SP candidates only as of now." The Congress and the Samajwadi Party had contested the UP Assembly polls last year jointly, but had contested the civic body polls in the state independently. BSP supremo Mayawati, whose party has entered into a pact with former prime minister HD Deve Gowda's JD(S), has already started working in the state with her rallies starting yesterday from Mysuru. She will be addressing a rally in Chitradurga today and Belagavi and Bidar on May 5-6 respectively. The BSP is contesting on 20 seats in Karnataka and is hoping to open an account there with the JD(S) support. Polling will be held in a single phase on May 12 for all the 224 Assembly seats in the Congress-ruled state, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes. Ahead of the UP chief minister's visit, a Congress leader had made certain derogatory remarks against him. BJP leaders here say that a counter offensive from the UP chief minister is very likely. "Expect a counter (attack) for sure," a BJP leader said. In mid-April, Karnataka Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao had set the tone for Mr Adityanath's visit by openly asking the people of Karnataka to boycott him. He later apologised for his remarks, describing them as an "emotional outburst." Earlier, during his February visit, Mr Adityanath had taken on chief minister K Siddaramaiah on the micro blogging site, which blew up into a twitter war between the two chief ministers. 0 COMMENTSIn between his rallies and road shows, Mr Adityanath is also expected to visit temples and mutts as the BJP looks to play the Hindutva card in a state where it is anxious to regain power it lost 10 years ago. In December last, while addressing a "Parivartan Yatra" rally in Hubbali, the UP chief minister had stoked passions by asking people to choose between Hanuman Jayanti and Tipu Jayanti - a remark aimed at questioning Congress' two-year-old decision to commemorate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler who hailed from the region.


Asaram Guilty Of Raping Schoolgirl, Gets Life Term In Jail: 10 Facts""
MMNN:25 April 2018

JODHPUR: Nearly five years after he was arrested, Asaram, a self-styled godman with a following that runs into lakhs, was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a 16-year-old girl whose family brought her to visit his ashram in Jodhpur. The verdict today was delivered inside a Jodhpur jail; authorities decided days ago that taking Asaram to court would risk the 77-year-old's followers from turning violent on the streets. Four states - Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat - were put on high alert.
Here are the top 10 updates in this big case
1-Asaram, who has 400 ashrams across the world, raped the young girl in 2013. He is also accused, along with his son, Narayan Sai, of raping two sisters in Surat in Gujarat between 2002 and 2004.
2-The Supreme Court recently set a five-week deadline for the Surat trial be completed.
3-Asaram received life term in jail, which will continue till his death, and was fined Rs. 1 lakh by the court.
4-Asaram was arrested in Indore in Madhya Pradesh for the Jodhpur case and moved to jail in the desert city. He appealed 12 times for bail but was turned down each time.
5-"We have got justice. I want to thank everyone who supported us in this fight. Now I hope he will get strict punishment. I also hope the witnesses who were murdered or kidnapped get justice," said the father of the rape survivor.
6-During the Jodhpur trial, nine witnesses who testified against him were attacked, three of them died.
7-Asaram, who has a long flowing white beard and used to dress in white robes, was accused of rape, and trafficking under POCSO, a stringent law on sexual crimes against children.
8-The young girl he raped was left alone with him by her parents because Asaram's aides said he would "cure" her of evil spirits that had possessed her. She testified later that he threatened to kill her if she revealed what he had done to her.
9-Of the four people accused along with him, two have been found guilty, two others have been acquitted.
10-"We will discuss the matter with our legal team and then decide on our future course of action. We have confidence in our judiciary," said Neelam Dubey, a spokesperson for Asaram.


Venkaiah Naidu Defends Decision To Reject Notice For Chief Justice's Impeachment""
MMNN:24 April 2018

NEW DELHI: Questioned by the opposition over the speed at which he dismissed a notice for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today told a group of lawyers his decision was "not hasty" and came after "over a month of due diligence". Venkaiah Naidu, who is chairman of the Rajya Sabha, yesterday rejected the notice submitted by the Congress and six other parties on Friday, saying it "didn't deserve to be admitted". According to sources present at the meeting, ten Supreme Court lawyers met Mr Naidu in the morning "to compliment him" and discuss the implications of the notice. "I don't think it warrants compliments as I only did what was expected of me and in the manner the Chairman of Rajya Sabha was expected to conduct in such matters. Some Members of the House had a point of view and the right to express it while I had a responsibility cast on me. I have done my job and am satisfied with it," Mr Naidu reportedly told the lawyers. Mr Naidu also referred to media reports for over a month about discussions on such a notice against the Chief Justice of India and said "I have since been working on the provisions, procedures and precedents in the matter given the serious nature of the proposal and its implications and the imperative need for a timely decision". 0 COMMENTSMr Naidu consulted legal and constitutional experts. "What was the tearing hurry?...This government is very keen that this must not be allowed to inquire into. Maybe they know what the CBI knows," said Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Monday.


Save The Constitution Congress' Campaign To Save Dynasty": Amit Shah""
MMNN:23 April 2018

NEW DELHI: BJP president Amit Shah today said the 'Save the Constitution' campaign launched by the Congress chief is an exercise to save the dynasty and that the opposition party's "Modi hatred" has turned into "India hatred". His statement came hours after Rahul Gandhi attacked the Prime Minister saying the latter was only bothered about becoming PM again, not about rapes or atrocities on Dalits. In a statement soon after Mr Gandhi launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah said if there is one political party that has trampled over the Constitution in letter and spirit, time and again, it is the opposition party. He made a mention of the Congress' move to impeach the Chief Justice of India and said it is part of a trend to demonise and weaken every institution that seeks to maintain its individual identity and does not "kowtow to the dynasty", a reference to the Gandhi family. The BJP chief also cited the Congress' alleged attack on the CAG, Election Commission, the Army and the Supreme Court at different points of time and its imposition of the Emergency in 1975 to hit back "Those who do not trust the Army, the judiciary, the Supreme Court, the Election Commission, EVMs, the RBI are now saying democracy is in danger. India has a vibrant democracy and a vibrant Constitution. "The Congress' Save the Constitution' campaign is nothing but a farce that seeks to perpetuate the rule of dynasty over the rule of democracy. Like in the past, we need to protect the Constitution from the Congress," the BJP chief said. 0 COMMENTSWhen Mr Gandhi says the Congress made the Constitution, he is continuing his family legacy of humiliating Bhimrao Ambedkar, Amit Shah said. "By repeatedly saying the Congress made the Constitution, Rahul Gandhi is carrying forward his family tradition of insulting Dr. Ambedkar. The Nehru-Gandhi family insulted him when he was alive and is humiliating him even more now. Shameful and petty," the BJP chief said.


Minister VK Singh Tweets #JusticeForAsifa, Says "Failed Her As Humans""
MMNN:12 April 2018

Union Minister VK Singh today added his voice to the spiraling outrage over the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, which has jolted India. "We have failed Asifa as humans. But she will not be denied justice," the junior foreign minister tweeted. He is the first minister in the BJP-led central government to talk about justice for little Asifa. His colleague Jitendra Singh, who represents a part of Kathua in parliament, had last month appeared to back the accused when he said, "those who have not done anything wrong should be given justice", and backed the demand of local BJP leaders for a CBI inquiry. Soon after, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, calling it a "crime against humanity." "How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil? What happened to Asifa at Kathua is a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished. What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child?" Rahul Gandhi said. Asifa was kidnapped from near her home on January 10, kept sedated and gang-raped repeatedly for days by a group that included police officers before being killed. She was drugged and not given food the entire time. Just before her head was bashed in with a rock, one of the police officers asked the killer to wait so he could rape the child one more time, according to the charge-sheet. One of the rapists is a student who travelled all the way from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh after being invited to "satisfy his lust". The child's mutilated body was found in the forests on January 17. As her community and locals protested, two policemen tried to help the accused by manipulating the evidence. Her family and relatives were not allowed to bury her body in what they believed was their land, by the Hindu families who dominate the region. Protests against the murder have deeply polarized the region and have become another point of conflict between ruling coalition partners Mehbooba Mufti and BJP. Yesterday, Ms Mufti, the Chief Minister, met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and accused the BJP's state leadership of creating trouble in state. 7 COMMENTSThe comment of General VK Singh, a former army chief, contrasts with the sight of two state BJP ministers attending a rally organised in support of the accused. Ministers Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga attended the event organised by Hindu Ekta Manch, an outfit that has been protesting against the arrests in the case. With the police charge-sheet revealing the sheer depravity of the crime and the horror of the girl's final days, #JusticeforAsifa and #RapeAndMurderOfHumanity became trending hashtags, widely posted by celebrities and other prominent voices. Eight people have been arrested. The main accused is a retired revenue department official who planned the crime to instill fear among the Bakherwal nomads - Asifa was one of them - and drive them out of the Rassana area where they were living. The others are special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Sanji Ram's underage nephew, his friend and Sanji Ram's son Vishal Jangotra.


IPL Matches Moved Out Of Chennai Amid Cauvery Protests: Sources"
MMNN:11 April 2018

CHENNAI: All six Indian Premier League matches that were to be held in Chennai, have been moved out of the city in view of yesterday's massive protests by Cauvery activists, said sources in Indian cricket body BCCI. The new venue for the matches will be announced soon. Political parties and fringe groups have demanded that all the IPL matches scheduled to be held in Chennai, be cancelled till the centre forms the Cauvery Water Management Board. The centre, they say, is playing politics over the issue and a blanket cancellation, they expect, will drive the message home. One group -- Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi or TVK -- even threatened to release live snakes into the stadium if no cancellation happened. Yesterday, thousands of activists descended on Anna Salai, the arterial road near the Chepauk Stadium, asking fans to boycott the cricket match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders. Though the match was held amid tight security, slippers were seen flying inside the stadium and yellow jerseys of Chennai Super Kings were burnt. Five spectators, who allegedly threw the slippers, were later detained by the police. In some areas, there were scuffles between the activists and fans. Fans were forced to take off the jerseys of their cricket teams, which were also set on fire. In some areas, policemen who tried to intervene, bore the brunt of the protesters' anger. Nearly 800 people were temporarily detained. While most political parties supported the protests, many condemned the violence. Today, actor-politician Rajinikanth uploaded the video of what appeared an attack on the police on Twitter. The accompanying message read: "The worst form of violence is the assault on uniformed personnel". Earlier, he said holding cricket matches when Cauvery protests are on, is an "embarrassment". COMMENTSIn February, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to form a body that will implement water-sharing between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry and Kerala by March 29 according to a formula it suggested. But no action was taken. As the deadline expired, the Centre filed an appeal in top court, asking for clarifications on the structure of the body. Cutting across party lines, political leaders from Tamil Nadu have accused the BJP of trying to score political points in Karnataka, where assembly elections will be held in May


Karnataka Dalits Livid With The Centre. Congress Not In Sweet Spot Either"
MMNN:10 April 2018

Just a half-hour drive from Bengaluru's IT hub of Electronic City, lies the town of Anekal - largely undistinguished and of no note to outsiders but known locally for its history of violence against Christians and its oppression of Dalits, who form nearly 30 percent of the population, but are divided between the "right hand touchables" or Chalavadis, who are traditionally Congress supporters, while the Madigas or the "Left Hand untouchables" have been associated with the BJP for the last decade. What has united them - and nearly 100 other sub-castes of Dalits - is last month's Supreme Court verdict on what is referred to as the SC/ST Act. Judges say their decision did not dilute the law, but ensures that its provisions do not violate individual rights - so, for example, arrests can no longer be made as soon as a Dalit files a police complaint of discrimination. "Dalits are seeing this as an injustice, which had the tacit approval of the BJP government at the Centre", said M Prakash, a school teacher in Anekal who is an activist of a Dalit rights organisation. Dalits believe that the SC/ST Act is sacrosanct because it is a powerful instrument in fighting caste humiliation and is as important for them as reservation as a tool of empowerment and upward mobility. The fear that these rights, safeguarded by the constitution, are under threat is fast gaining currency on the ground despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Dalit outreach which includes frequent ceremonies and monuments commemorating Dalit icon Dr B R Ambedkar, ensuring the election of Dalit politician Ram Nath Kovind as President of the country, and ordering MPs to spend nights in Dalit homes in their constituencies. Dalits, according to a leaked census which was conducted by the incumbent Congress government but never formally shared, form 19% percent of Karnataka's population. They influence the results of nearly 60 of the 224 seats that will be decided when the state votes on May 12. A countrywide bandh or protest on April 2 saw gigantic participation and left nine people dead. The centre then asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its verdict; judges refused to suspend the controversial ruling, but have agreed to hear the centre's case later this month. Four Dalit MPs from the BJP have insinuated that its response was neither strong nor fast enough, while also massaging the point that in appealing against the Supreme Court's verdict, their party acted counter-intuitively and not without some reluctance. This is also the impression in Anekal, where Dalits live in separate colonies and are discouraged from entering temples in areas dominated by upper castes. "The order has been welcomed by the upper castes who form the BJP's core constituency. It will help the party to further consolidate their vote before the elections," alleged R Shankar, a local Dalit activist. The BJP has for decades been the homestead of upper caste Hindus; its opulent victory in the last general election was facilitated by Amit Shah, the party chief, managing to weave together traditional supporters with an assortment of lower and backward castes including Dalits in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In Karnataka, the BJP has been the preference of Lingayats and other upper castes; even in 2014, when the triumphant 'Modi wave' fanned across India, the Dalits remained unpersuaded. Of Karnataka's 28 parliamentary seats, four are reserved for Dalit candidates; the BJP won just one of those. The PM has tried to persuade Dalits, who together with tribals form a quarter of the country's population, that Hindutva ideology is not hostile to their progress, but in 2016, nearly 41,000 cases of atrocities against Dalits were registered across India. 60% of those cases were from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, all states ruled by the BJP. "In Karnataka, crimes against Dalits have also shown an increase in the five years of Congress rule, so they cannot claim the moral high ground," former BJP chief minister Jagadish Shettar told NDTV. But if the Dalits in the state do desert the BJP completely, the buck will have to stop with his colleague, Anant Kumar Hegde, the MP from Uttara Kannada constituency. At a public function in December , Mr Hegde, a union minister, said "The Constitution needs to be changed from time to time and we have come for that", which was seen as a remark on doing away with reservation or guaranteed government jobs and college places for scheduled castes. To make matters worse, Mr Hegde, a Brahmin, then referred to the protests staged by a group of Dalits against his statement as "the barking of stray dogs". The BJP argued that Mr Hegde's views were personal and not those of the party and thought it was a closed chapter. Then, a fortnight ago, a meeting between Amit Shah and a group of Dalit leaders in Mysuru was marred by protests against the BJP bosses for failing to act against the minister. "The PM says that 'No government has given respect to Babasaheb the way our government has.' If this is true, then why doesn't he sack Mr Hegde? This can only mean that privately, the BJP's and its minister's views are the same," insists a Dalit activist who was one of the protestors at Amit Shah's meeting. "Since December, we have been warning our people to be vigilant, because even the poorest Dalit knows that his right to reservation is enshrined in the constitution and anyone who wants to rewrite it wants to snatch this right away from us." The derision that Amit Shah confronted was in Mysuru, the heart of South Karnataka, where the BJP won no seat at all in the last state election. It is crucial for the party to build support here. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress belongs to a shepherd community. He is backed by a cohort of Dalits, other backward castes, and minorities. He believes that crucial schemes that he introduced including give free grains to the poorest families, free milk for students up till Class 10, and interest-free loans for farmers have broadened his support to include economically backward sections of the upper caste Lingayats and Vokkaligas. He has also introduced Indira canteens serving subsidised food which are copied from the famous Amma canteens in Tamil Nadu. The BJP is hoping that the Dalit vote in Karnataka will be split by the big play made by Mayawati, the Dalit leader from Uttar Pradesh, who has partnered with Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal (S) in an arrangement which allows her own party to compete for 20 seats, though she did not win any in the last state election in 2013. But her workers say that her collaboration with Deve Gowda, seen as close to the BJP, lacks conviction. "She has not given us any clear-cut order to vote for Deve Gowda's candidates," claimed a BSP worker in Anekal. "Besides, JD(S) is a feudal party, supported by the dominant Vokkaliga caste which has always victimised Dalits." COMMENTSAs for the Congress, if it wants to win the Scheduled Caste vote in Karnataka, it will have to do more than ride the wave of Dalit anger erupting across the country and consolidate a significant section of the many sub-castes. Though the "left hand Dalits" are numerically stronger, the majority of the Congress leadership in the state including Mallikarjun Kharge and G Parameshwara, President of the Karnataka Congress, come from the "right hand Dalits" who have long been accused of helping their sub-caste to corner the larger share of government benefits. Tempering that sentiment is no less a challenge than what the BJP is encountering


Ahead Of PM Modi's Visit, JD-U Says, "He Should Grant Special Status To Bihar"
MMNN:9 April 2018

PATNA: The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) on Monday said it wanted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce granting of special category status to Bihar when he visits the state on Tuesday. PM Modi is slated to visit Motihari to participate in the concluding ceremony of Champaran Satyagraha centenary celebrations on Tuesday. "Modi should grant special status to Bihar as promised during his visit," JD-U General Secretary Shayam Razak told media persons. Last month, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said he had not given up the demand for special status to Bihar "for even one second" since he first raised it in 2005. COMMENTSLast week, Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav said: "If Nitish Kumar is a strong leader, he should directly demand special category status for Bihar from Modi." Tejashwi Yadav said Nitish Kumar should follow TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandra Babu Naidu, who had demanded special category status for his state from Modi and walked out from the NDA when it was not granted


Kolkata Woman's Body Kept In Freezer At Home; Husband, Son Lived With It For 2 Years
MMNN:5 April 2018

Two years ago when an elderly woman in West Bengal died, she wasn't cremated. Instead her son preserved her body in a commercial freezer and had been living with it till they recovered it, police said. The motive behind the act is yet to be known. The woman stayed with her husband and son in South Kolkata's Behala area. While the neighbours knew of the woman's demise, they wondered why the family didn't perform her last rites. "She was suffering from some illness... don't know the details. The family didn't socialise much. The man most probably worked in a big firm. The father would sometimes talk to us. But the son never spoke with anyone in the neighbourhood. When we asked the family about her funeral, they said her 'body is in heavens'," said Amal Kanti Guha, a neighbour. Yesterday, the body was retrieved and taken away for investigation. COMMENTS A few weeks ago, the decomposed body of a 70-year-old woman was recovered from her Kolkata residence after neighbours complained that the son was living with his mother's dead body for days without taking any steps to perform her last rites, police said. These incidents have brought back the memory of central Kolkata's Robinson Street, where a middle-aged man had lived for months with the skeletons of his sister and two pet dogs, while his father's charred body was found inside a bathroom.


No Other Government Honoured BR Ambedkar As We Did: PM Narendra Modi
MMNN:4 April 2018

NEW DELHI: Two days after massive nationwide protests by Dalit groups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today accused rival political parties of politicizing the legacy of BR Ambedkar and said no other government had honoured the Dalit icon like his. The prime minister said his government had given BR Ambedkar his rightful place by completing projects conceived in the memory of the iconic leader, who drafted the Indian constitution. The 26, Alipur Road house where Ambedkar died would be dedicated to the nation on April 13 on the eve of his birth anniversary, PM Modi said, addressing a gathering at the opening of the Western Court annexe to meant to house MPs. Everyone was using Ambedkar's name for political gains, said the Prime Minister, stating that it was his government that had completed the Ambedkar International Centre though the idea was conceived when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister. The previous Congress-led government had delayed the project for years, said PM Modi. The Prime Minister's comments come after Dalit protests over a Supreme Court order putting in place safeguards to prevent the misuse of a law to prevent atrocities against SC/STs (Scheduled Castes and Tribes). Dalit groups view it as dilution of the law. On the Centre's petition asking for a review of the order, the court yesterday refused to freeze its decision and said its intention was to protect individual rights. At least 11 died in the protests and hundreds were injured. COMMENTSEarlier, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had hit out at PM Modi and accused him of "not uttering a word" on the alleged atrocities on Dalits and tribals.


Probe Must Before Arrest; SC/ST Law Not Diluted, Says Supreme Court
MMNN:3 April 2018

NEW DELHI: No provision of the law that seeks to prevent atrocities on scheduled castes and scheduled tribes has been diluted, the Supreme Court has said. "We are not diluting any provisions. We are only safeguarding innocent persons from arrest," the court said while hearing a petition filed by the centre seeking a review of last month's order. On March 20, the Supreme Court had ruled that government servants should not be arrested under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act without prior sanction and private citizens too can be arrested only after an inquiry under the law. The centre filed the review petition on Monday, a day that claimed 11 lives across the country during an all-India strike called by Dalit groups that claimed the court order diluted the provisions of the law. Refusing to suspend its 'no immediate arrest' directive, the court said people who have been agitating may not have read the earlier order. As Attorney General KK Venugopal argued that there is tremendous discontent and agitation in the society against the verdict, the court said, "We are not in conflict. Agitations may be by vested interests". The preliminary probe will have to be done but within seven days, the court said, clarifying that a First Information Report (FIR) can be registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the provisions of the SC/ST law can be added if the probe establishes such an offence. "Our concern is to implement the constitutional rights of the underprivileged. Can liberty of innocents be taken away without a proper procedure," asked Justice AK Goel, one of the judges on the bench that delivered the March 20 order. COMMENTSClarifying that it wasn't against the law, the bench said "our approach is liberty can't be taken away without a preliminary inquiry. There shouldn't be any terror in society for innocent persons".


5 Dead As Violence Sweeps North During Bharat Bandh Protests: 10 Points
MMNN:2 April 2018

NEW DELHI: Protests that swept north India have cost five lives today as Dalit groups tried to enforce an all-India shutdown over a Supreme Court order. In Madhya Pradesh, four people died during clashes and a man was killed in firing in Rajasthan's Alwat. Violence was also reported from parts of Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. Punjab came to a standstill as the government put the army on stand-by and transport off the roads. The Dalits are protesting against a Supreme Court order, which, they say, dilutes a law meant to protect the community. The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to review the order.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet on Bharat Bandh called against Supreme Court's order on SC/ST Act
1-In Madhya Pradesh, a student leader and four others died during clashes between the police and protesters. Six people were injured in the district and the army was called into Bhind to control the situation. In Gwalior, prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were imposed as protesters blocked railway tracks and set fire to vehicles.
2-Clashes and arson were reported from cities in Rajasthan, including Jaipur, Barmer and Alwar. In Jharkhand capital Ranchi, the police lathicharged protesters.
3-Train services were hit in parts of Bihar, Odisha, Punjab and Rajasthan as protesters blocked railway tracks. In some areas, highways were blocked too.
4-In Punjab, hundreds of protesters carrying swords, sticks, baseball bats and flags forced shops to shut in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Bathinda. Traffic in and around Chandigarh was hit as protesters blocked highways and arterial roads.
5-The Punjab government has taken extensive security measures that include shutting of schools and colleges, postponing Board exams and suspending mobile internet services till 11 pm. Banks and offices are shut and transport is off the roads. Security has been stepped up in towns like Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur, which have the highest Dalit population.
6-The government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for a rethink on the order. "We have filed a very comprehensive review (petition)... senior lawyers will argue (the case) with all authority," Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
7-In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's party, a BJP ally, is supporting the strike. In state capital Patna, hundreds of Bhim Army workers took to the streets to enforce a shutdown. Protests were also held in various towns of Haryana and Bengal capital Kolkata.
8-In Uttar Pradesh, Meerut saw widespread arson and clashes between police and protesters. In Hapur, blocked the highway Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has appealed for calm, saying the Central and the state governments were are "dedicated towards the welfare of backward castes, SC & ST".
9-The shutdown has been called by Dalit groups against a Supreme Court order of March 20. Maintaining that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act law was being misused in certain cases, the Supreme Court changed two key provisions of the law, stopping the immediate arrest an accused and introducing a provision for bail.
10-Dalit groups said the court could have come to a different conclusion had the Union government highlighted the high rate of atrocities on the community and the abysmally low rate of conviction. Most opposition parties, including the Congress, have sided with the Dalits. Last week, a delegation of NDA lawmakers, led by Ram Vilas Paswan, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


"I Made Mistake, But...": On Gaffe, Amit Shah's Sharp Comeback For Congress
MMNN:30 March 2018

MYSORE: BJP president Amit Shah today spoke for the first time on his much-talked about slip in Karnataka, which embarrassed his party's chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, and turned it around to take aim at the Congress. "In a slip of tongue, I said that the Yeddyurappa government is corrupt instead of Siddaramaiah's, and the entire Congress party started to rejoice. I want to tell Rahul Gandhi that I might have made a mistake but the people of Karnataka will not," the BJP chief said, speaking to reporters in Mysuru, where he is campaigning today for the May 12 state election. Amit Shah had stopped to speak to reporters in the middle of a hectic tour of Mysuru, where he made several stops including the Ambavilas Palace or Mysore Palace, home to the former royal family. On Tuesday, Amit Shah had said: "Recently a retired Supreme Court judge said if there was ever a competition of the most corrupt government then the Yeddyurappa government is number one..." Mr Yeddyurappa was sitting next to him. Then Karnataka BJP leader Prahlad Joshi was seen whispering something to Amit Shah, who quickly corrected himself. Mr Yeddyurappa was chief minister of the first BJP government in Karnataka from 2008. He was forced to step down in August 2011 in a haze of corruption allegations by Karnataka's ombudsman or Lokayukta Santosh Hegde. He was accused in a mining scam. In 2016, he was acquitted of charges of accepting kickbacks worth Rs. 40 crores. COMMENTSThis was the second time Amit Shah made a blooper like this on Mr Yeddyurappa's name. After the polls on May 12, the results will be out on May 15.


Morning After CBSE "Stain", Minister Says, "Am Parent, Couldn't Sleep"
MMNN:29 March 2018

NEW DELHI: Union minister Prakash Javadekar today said the leak of question papers was a "stain" on the CBSE, but the government is tackling the issue and the culprits would not be spared. The minister, who spoke to the media this afternoon, said the Central Board will take a call on the fresh exam dates soon and an "announcement will be made by Monday or Tuesday". The students of Delhi, however, are demanding a re-examination of all papers. Alleging that not just two or three, almost all papers have been leaked, many students are holding a protest at Jantar Mantar -- the designated protest site at the national capital. The minister tried to connect with anxious parents, whose children will have to take two papers of the CBSE exam afresh following a leak of the question papers. "I can understand the pain and anguish of the students and parents...I also could not sleep. I am also a parent," said Mr Javadekar, a father of two sons. Though there was no fresh update on the investigation, Mr Javadekar said he hoped the police would crack the case, as they did in the case of the government recruitment exams. 2 COMMENTSThe question papers for Class 12 economics and Class 10 maths were leaked on WhatsApp ahead of the exams, which took place this week. Earlier, students had alleged another paper, accounts, had been leaked. Admitting to the leak last evening, Mr Javadekar said, "2-3 papers had been leaked around 30 minutes before the exam". Ad The police, however, indicated that was not quite the case. Quoting sources, news agency Press Trust of India reported that the question papers were doing the rounds on WhatsApp the evening before the exams.


PM Modi Unhappy With CBSE Exam Leak That Played Out On WhatsApp
MMNN:28 March 2018

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed unhappiness about the leak of Class 10 and 12 CBSE papers, which is forcing students to take the exams again, sources told NDTV. Coming a month after the paper leak in SSC exams, the CBSE leak has placed the government in face of Congress allegations of mismanagement. PM Modi dialled the education minister after the Central education board CBSE decided to set fresh tests for Class 10 Maths and Class 12 Economics following reports of a leak of question papers, sources said. The paper leak allegations surfaced on Sunday, a day before the Class XII Economics exam, when many students found a hand-written question paper making the rounds on WhatsApp. The next day, they found a huge overlap when they saw the actual question paper. Those who took the exam, however, said the paper was not too difficult. "PM Modi has always given a lot of importance to fair examinations," said Mr Javadekar, whose HRD ministry handles education. Admitting that parts of the paper were leaked on WhatsApp, the minister said the government has deployed a special Delhi police team to investigate the matter. "We are sure that whoever has done this will be caught soon. They have no right to play with the lives of children," he said. In future, the government will devise a method to avoid paper leaks with the help of technology, the minister assured, adding, "I just want to tell the parents and children that it is extremely unfortunate that this incident happened." With four arrests reported this morning in the other huge paper leak case, the SSC exam -- through which recruitment is made for clerical level government jobs -- the Congress hit out at the government. COMMENTS"Aabki baar paper leak Sarkar (Go for a paper leak government)" jeered Congress' Randeep Singh Surjewala. "First, the SSC paper leak put a question mark on the future of 2 million young people and now the CBSE tenth and twelfth paper leaked! The future of millions of youth in jeopardy!" the Hindi tweet read. The arrests made last evening had confirmed the allegations of paper leak. Lakhs of students had held a week-long protest across the country in February, till the government ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.


Sure, We Are Friends, But... How Mayawati Gave Akhilesh Yadav A Message
MMNN:27 March 2018

Mayawati's failure to snag a Rajya Sabha seat means her newfound friend Akhilesh Yadav can forget about any help in two more bypolls ahead in Uttar Pradesh. After losing a white-knuckled race for one Rajya Sabha seat to the BJP on Friday, Mayawati declared that her alliance with the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav was very much intact and the BJP should be under no false hope that she could divide the two before the 2019 national election. At the same time, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief made two significant comments that telegraphed her disappointment with Akhilesh Yadav, whose party had won two seemingly impossible bypoll contests in BJP strongholds of Gorakhpur and Phulpur with the BSP's support. One, Mayawati has said her party won't take part in any other bypoll in the run up to the national election. "The Lok Sabha polls of 2019 are approaching and so we want to concentrate on that. In any Lok Sabha bypoll or otherwise in the interim, we will not ask our workers to leave everything and work for the bypolls for anyone else," she said This means Akhilesh Yadav cannot count on a Gorakhpur victory redux in the crucial parliamentary bypoll in Kairana and the assembly bypoll in Bijnore, both in western UP. Juhi Singh, a Samajwadi Party leader, said: "Kairana is just a bypoll. We will take it as it comes. Mayawatiji has clearly said the tie up is intact and the next big election for all of us is the Lok Sabha 2019 poll." In her second loaded message, Mayawati said in her press conference that Akhilesh Yadav, a former chief minister like her, was politically inexperienced and in his place, she would have helped the BSP candidate win even at the cost of the Samajwadi's candidate Jaya Bachchan. Based on their numbers in the UP assembly, the BJP took eight Rajya Sabha seats and the Samajwadi took one. On the 10th seat, Mayawati had fielded her candidate and was banking on the Samajwadi Party, Congress and Ajit Singh's party to make up the numbers needed to win a Rajya Sabha place. But the BJP made it a fight and snatched the seat in a suspenseful contest. The Samajwadi's eight lawmakers were not enough to win Mayawati her seat. There was talk of Akhilesh Yadav sacrificing his candidate Jaya Bachchan and asking his lawmakers to support Mayawati's candidate instead, but that did not happen. The BJP, smarting at its by-poll loss, seized the chance. COMMENTS"Akhilesh Yadav had promised 10 solid votes to the BSP in the Rajya Sabha election. They never got those votes. So Mayawati and her party members feel extremely cheated. As far as Akhilesh is concerned, he now has two Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha seat for himself. But Mayawati got a blank. Mayawati, 62, realises that she cannot let her resentment get the better of an alliance that proved its might against the BJP and its chief minister Yogi Adityanath. If the opposition has any hope of outsmarting the BJP in 2019, a larger alliance has to work.


"Did Ram Say Carry pistols?" Mamata Banerjee Livid As Clashes Dot Bengal
MMNN:26 March 2018

KOLKATA: Clashes broke out in Bengal's Murshidabad and Raniganj over Ram Navami processions, continuing the chain of violence that flared up yesterday in various pockets of the state. As the violence in Murshidabad, which continued for the better part of the morning, was followed by reports of arson from Raniganj, a livid Mamata Banerjee said the matter will be dealt with strongly. Ram Navami has never been a major festival in Bengal but over the last two years, the BJP has been especially active, holding rallies where participants are often armed with traditional weapons like swords and tridents. In Murshidabad's Kandi, an armed crowd barged into a police station, at which the police had to retaliate. Batons were used to control the situation. Visuals from the area showed frenzied mobs rushing around, their faces smeared with red. In the afternoon, two communities clashed in Raniganj, a town in the coal belt. Motor bikes were set on fire and policemen were attacked at a local market. Some policemen were injured. "Did Ram tell anyone to carry pistols? So many hooligans defaming Ram," fumed Ms Banerjee. Invoking the state's peacuful traditions, she said, "We Bengalis hold Kali puja.. Durga puja... all peacefully... not with weapons and hooliganism.I will speak to the authorities on this. We will have to deal with it A-Z... we have to deal with this strongly." Even after strengthened security in the state, clashes were reported yesterday from Purulia district after a group allegedly tried to organise a rally without prior permission from police. One villager was killed and three police officers were injured in the clash. Clashes were also reported from Bardhaman, where a puja pandal was attacked. In state capital Kolkata, more than 60 rallies were organized - some of them by the ruling Trinamool Congress and led by the party's senior leaders like Firhad Hakim, Sadhan Pande. But most of the violence have centred armed rallies - held in many cases without prior police permission despite a stern warning from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. COMMENTSState BJP president Dilip Ghosh, participated in one, held in West Midnapore, armed with a sword. So did the party's women wing president Locket Chatterjee and national secretary Rahul Sinha. "We are celebrating this festival for years, no one should resist us. It is the government's duty to maintain the peace. Our groups have got permission to celebrate, this is a religious festival," Dilip Ghosh had said.


Fodder Scam: Lalu gets 14-year imprisonment
MMNN:24 March 2018

A special CBI court on Saturday awarded a total of 14 years’ of imprisonment to former Bihar Chief Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad and also imposed a fine of Rs 60-lakh in the Fodder Scam. The special CBI judge Shivpal Singh awarded seven years of imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 30-lakh under sections 120 (B), 409, 420, 467,468, 471 and 477 (A) in case number RC38A/96 which is related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.76-crore from Dumka treasury of unified Bihar between 1991 to 1996. The CBI court also awarded seven-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 30-lakh under PC Act sections 13 (2) read with 13(1)(c)(d). Both the punishments would run ‘consecutively’, the judge said in his judgement which means Lalu would have to undergo imprisonment of 14 years and he would have to pay a fine of Rs 60-lakh. Failing to pay the fine he would have to undergo additional imprisonment of two years. The court had on March 19 convicted a total of 19 accused in the case including Lalu while 12 others including former Bihar Chief Minister Dr Jaggananth Mishra were acquitted. The arguments on quantum of sentencing were made on March 21, 22, and 23 after which the court had fixed March 24 as the date for announcement of the sentencing. The CBI had filed a chargesheet against a total of 49 accused on May 11, 2000. Out of these 49, three became government witnesses and among them one has died. The higher court has quashed the charges against the then Dumka Commissioner S N Dubey in the case while 14 others died during the course of the trial.


Anna Hazare Begins His Hunger Strike In Delhi: What Are His Key Demands
MMNN:23 March 2018

NEW DELHI: Kisan Baburao Hazare, better known as Anna Hazare today started an indefinite hunger strike with a demand for the government to set up a Lokpal. He began his strike at Ramlila Maidan this morning - the same ground where his stir for an anti-corruption body seven years ago caught the country's imagination. In 2011, Anna Hazare sat on a similar hunger strike for Lokpal or a national ombudsman. This time he has a new target. Previously, he targeted the then UPA government at the centre, and his anti-corruption movement had caught the imagination of millions of Indians. This time Anna Hazare's target is the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, which has not been able to finalise a Lokpal to investigate cases if corruption. On August 31, Anna Hazare had written to PM Modi stating that he would launch an agitation over the appointment of Lokpal and Lokayukta as well as implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report. Anna Hazare wrote, "Since there has been no response from your side, I have decided to launch an agitation in Delhi. I will continue with the protest until the demands are met". He also mentioned that in his next letter he would inform him about the place and the date of his agitation. Key demands of Anna Hazare's indefinite hunger strike this time are setting up of the Lokpal at the centre and Lokayuktas in the states and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report that assures fair pay for farmers. The Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year. COMMENTSThe Lokayuktas is an anti-corruption ombudsman organisation in the states. Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly. Swaminathan Commission report: The National Commission on Farmers, chaired by Professor MS Swaminathan, submitted five reports through the period December 2004 - October 2006. Following from the first four, the final report focused on causes of farmer distresses and the rise in farmer suicides, and recommends addressing them through a holistic national policy for farmers. The findings and recommendations encompass issues of access to resources and social security entitlements


Apollo Hospital Chief Dr Prathap Reddy's Big Reveal About ICU, Cameras During Jayalalithaa Stay
MMNN:22 March 2018

More than a year after her death, the last days of iconic Tamil Nadu leader J Jayalalithaa remains the subject of intense debate between political leaders who lay claim to her legacy. Days after VK Sasikala, the longtime companion of the former Chief Minister, told an inquiry commission about Ms Jayalalithaa's being videographed during her last days, Chennai's Apollo hospital chairman Dr Prathap Reddy gave an account that's seen as contradicting her version. The 69-year-old had died at the hospital in December 2016 after 75 days of treatment. All CCTV cameras at the hospital were switched off for the entire duration, Dr Reddy said today. He also said the 24-bed intensive care unit was emptied and she was the only patient there. Ms Sasikala -- jailed in a corruption case -- had said Jayalalithaa was videographed in a lucid state four times in hospital and senior AIADMK leaders, including O Panneerselvam and M Thambidurai, had met her. Both leaders have said they were not allowed to meet Jayalalithaa at any point during her hospitalization. Their claims have added to the questions that mushroomed over the secrecy during Jayalalithaa's hospitalisation and treatment. The Apollo hospital has already released detailed accounts of the treatment of the former Chief Minister. Today, on the sidelines of a medical press conference in Chennai, Dr Reddy was asked by reporters if the hospital had also released the CCTV footage. "I am sorry. Unfortunately, they switched off all the CCTVs for all the 75 days. They removed the camera because they did not want everyone to be watching," Dr Reddy said. The veteran doctor added that as soon as the then Chief Minister got admitted, access to the Intensive Care Unit was shut off. "All patients were diverted to another ICU. This ICU was occupied only by her. Only one out of 24 rooms in the ICU was used," he said. No visitors were allowed to meet her, Dr Reddy added. The hospital, he said, had done its best, but unfortunately they lost the iconic leader after she suffered a massive heart attack. COMMENTSThe questions regarding Ms Jayalalithaa's death partially led to the split within the ruling AIADMK within three months. They fuelled the blame game between two factions, led then by Ms Sasikala and O Pannerselvam. The factions subsequently patched up after months of intense rivalry. Ms Sasikala -- who was ousted as part of the deal along with TTV Dhinakaran -- is set to be back in the political game after her nephew launched a new party following his huge victory at Chennai's RK Nagar. The constituency was represented by Ms Jayalalithaa till her death and his victory is seen as a successful bid for her legacy. Mr Dhinakaran has named his party Amma Makka Munnetra Kazhagam after Jayalalithaa, called Amma by millions of her supporters.


Rajya Sabha Election 2018: Amit Shah's Big Gains In The Last 24 Hours Over Mayawati
MMNN:21 March 2018

In the last 24 hours, BJP president Amit Shah has made all the right moves towards sweet revenge after losing two important bypolls in Uttar Pradesh. Seven Samajwadi lawmakers skipped an important party meeting today ahead of the Rajya Sabha election - bad news for Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav and also for Mayawati's party, which stands to lose the race for one seat in the upper house. Days ago, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati set aside their 25-year rivalry and pulled off an incredible win for Samajwadi Party candidates in two BJP strongholds. As part of the quid pro quo, Akhilesh Yadav's lawmakers are to support Mayawati's party in the Rajya Sabha polls. On Friday, Uttar Pradesh will decide on 10 of 31 Rajya Sabha seats. There are nine BJP candidates and one each from the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati's BSP. Each candidate from UP will require the support of 37 legislators. The BJP is confident of winning at least eight seats, with 311 members in the assembly, and the Samajwadi Party, with 47 members, should be able to snag one. Akhilesh Yadav's party said it would give its surplus 10 to help Mayawati's BSP, which is short of votes with only 19 members. Along with one more from Ajit Singh's party, the BSP would make it. Not if Amit Shah has his way. The Samajwadi Party is struggling to keep its flock together. Seven lawmakers, including party chief Akhilesh Yadav's uncle Shivpal Yadav, skipped a meeting this morning in Lucknow. The absentees include the lawmaker son of Naresh Agrawal, a serial defector who quit the Samajwadi Party and shifted to the BJP after being denied a place in the Rajya Sabha. A party leader was confident that these members would show up at a dinner organized later at a luxury hotel. "The Samajwadi Party is united under Akhilesh Yadav's leadership. Those who did not turn up right now will turn up later. On the day of voting, all of our MLAs will be together," said Parasnath Yadav, an SP legislator. But party sources say they have given up on the vote of Naresh Agrawal's son. As for the rest, one member is in jail. "Azam Khan and son did not attend but their support is with us. Shivpal Yadav and two other MLAs are in touch with us and likely to vote for us," said sources. At least seven legislators close to Shivpal Yadav had voted in favour of the BJP's nominee Ram Nath Kovind in last year's presidential elections. The BJP is trying its best to defeat Mayawati's candidate by backing a western UP businessman, Anil Agarwal, on a seat the BSP could have won otherwise. With the BJP putting up a fight, there are chances of cross voting and even horse trading in UP. COMMENTSThe BJP also has a meeting this evening of all its lawmakers and Rajya Sabha candidates. Since yesterday, Amit Shah has made winning moves - he was able to persuade an upset ally in UP to fall back in line and get his four lawmakers to support the BJP candidate for Rajya Sabha. And today, an Amit Shah role was seen in the absence of seven lawmakers from the Samajwadi Party meeting


SC/ST Act: Public servant ‘cannot be automatically’ arrested, says SC
MMNN:20 March 2018

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Maharashtra state government official “cannot be automatically” arrested on a complaint filed under the SC/ST Act because sanction of the appointing authority is mandatory before taking such an action against a public servant. The Supreme Court, in its judgement, held that there was no absolute bar for granting the anticipatory bail in atrocities matter. The apex court said that the preliminary investigation by police was necessary now and sanction by competent authority would be required in cases against public servants. “A public servant can be arrested after grant of approval by the superior officer. In case of registration of any offence, the DSP shall conduct a preliminary enquiry,” the bench of the apex court said in its judgement. A division bench of the top court, headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and also comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit passed the judgement. The apex court had earlier appointed Amarendra Saran, senior Supreme Court lawyer as the amicus curie (friend of the court) who submitted his opinion on it.The Court had also issued notice to the Union of India for its detailed reply on the issue.Maninder Singh represented the Union who had also submitted his opinion.


CBI Challenges Acquittal Of A Raja, Kanimozhi, Others In 2G Case: Report
MMNN:19 March 2018

NEW DELHI: The CBI has challenged the acquittal of former telecom minister A Raja, DMK leader Kanimozhi and others in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases, news agency PTI reported. In December last year, Mr Raja, Kanimozhi and all other accused were acquitted in the politically-sensitive 2G spectrum allocation scam cases by a special court in Delhi which held that the prosecution "miserably failed" to prove the charges. The judge OP Saini had said the CBI could not prove that Mr Raja, along with officials from companies that won the licenses for telecom services, had conspired to receive kickbacks from the sale of phone permits, causing a loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the government. "I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any charge against any of the accused, made in its well choreographed chargesheet," the judge had said. COMMENTS"The genesis of the case lies not so much in the actions of A Raja but in the action/inaction of others. There is no material on record to show that A Raja was mother lode of conspiracy in the instant case. The "2G" trial began in 2011, a year after the national auditor CAG said in its report that there had been massive irregularities in the allocation of second generation or 2G licences when Mr Raja was minister. In 2010, Vinod Rai was the Comptroller and Auditor General or CAG. He alleged in a scathing report that Mr Raja, as telecom minister, caused the tax payer a loss of 1.76 lakh crore by allotting 2G spectrum licenses at throwaway prices. Mr Raja was forced to resign in 2010 just before the CAG report was to be tabled in parliament and later was jailed for 15 months in the case.


Chandrababu Naidu Quits NDA Alliance, Blames PM For 'Injustice To Andhra'
MMNN:16 March 2018

N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) walked out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's coalition on Friday over financial support for Andhra Pradesh, delivering a huge blow to the BJP ahead of the 2019 national election. Mr Naidu's party will also ask for a no-confidence vote against the government in parliament, deciding against playing second fiddle to rival Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress, which submitted its notice on Thursday. "I took the decision not for selfish reasons but for the interests of Andhra Pradesh. For four years I made all efforts, went to Delhi 29 times, asked many times. This was the centre's last budget and there was no mention of Andhra Pradesh," Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said in the Andhra assembly. Later, in the assembly, Mr Naidu directly blamed PM Modi, saying "He is responsible for injustice to Andhra Pradesh." The TDP, which was the first party to extend its support to the BJP in 2014, has 16 members in the 545-member parliament; its exit hits the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) not by numbers but in perception. "Far from being a threat, TDP's exit is a timely opportunity for the BJP to grow in Andhra Pradesh," said the BJP's GVL Narasimha Rao, declaring that his party would replicate its Tripura success in Andhra Pradesh, where elections will be held next year. Last week, the TDP pulled its two ministers out of the central government but had stopped short of walking out of the alliance. Mr Naidu had said he tried to reach out to PM Modi but he "did not come on the line". But he left a door open for reconciliation. Jagan Reddy's no-trust motion, which threatened to eclipse his party, is seen to have accelerated his exit. The BJP had been resigned to divorce - keeping up efforts to placate its largest ally in the south even as it was seen to flirt with Jagan Reddy's party - but the pullout adds to its troubles after its Uttar Pradesh and Bihar bypoll debacle. In UP, the party suffered an unthinkable defeat in Gorakhpur, the long-term base of its Hindutva mascot Yogi Adityanath. The Shiv Sena, another partner which announced separation recently, declared that "the Modi wave is over". Yesterday, Mr Naidu reportedly told his party leaders that the bypoll results reflected an anti-Modi and anti-BJP wave. COMMENTSThe Chief Minister also said the BJP was trying to use Jagan Reddy and Jana Sena boss Pawan Kalyan against the TDP. The four-year BJP-TDP alliance crashed as Mr Naidu escalated his campaign for special category status to Andhra Pradesh as promised after Telangana was carved out of it in 2014. Special status would mean a large infusion of central funds to help with the state government's plans to develop its new capital Amaravati


Prime Minister, President To Get Their Own Planes By Early 2020
MMNN:13 March 2018

NEW DELHI: India's first set of brand new planes for the prime minister, president and vice-president will be customised and be ready for use by early 2020, senior government officials said. Two Boeing 777-300 ERs, bought by Air India recently, will be retrofitted to have VIP enclosures, a press conference room and a patient transport unit for medical emergencies. The aircraft will also be equipped with Wi-Fi on board and have anti-missile protection, a senior official said. A Boeing 777 unlike the older Boeing 747, which were borrowed from Air India as and when a VVIP visited overseas, can fly non-stop to the US, thereby dispensing with the need to halt for refuelling. In February and March, Air India inducted three Boeing 777 aircraft, completing an order of 68 planes placed with the aerospace major in 2006. Two of these three planes will be set aside exclusively for VVIP use. "The government will buy these aircraft from Air India," a senior official told PTI on the condition of anonymity. An aircraft exclusively for VVIPs -- such as the president, vice-president and prime minister -- will mean that Air India will no more have to ground aircraft from its fleet for special flights and re-configure them to include VIP enclosures, a press conference room etc for these operations. Earlier, during the budget announcement for the next fiscal, the government had set aside an amount of Rs. 4,469.50 crore for the purchase of these aircraft from Air India. Officials say that the amount would cover the cost of the plane, their retro-fitment, the cost of a spare engine as well as a special equipment box list or spare parts that need to be mandatorily on-board an aircraft. The two planes will return to Boeing's facility in the US on June 1 and June 30 to undergo overhauling which will take 18 months. The Indian Air Force is also negotiating with the US government for a special protection suite or anti-missile protection for these planes, a reliable source confirmed. COMMENTSAir India will prepare a pool of 44 pilots for VVIP operations, four of whom will always be on standby and stationed in Delhi. There will also be a dedicated team of engineers and cabin crew. To a question on how would privatisation of Air India effect deployment of pilots and cabin crew for the VVIP flights, a senior airline official said that the government is yet to finalise its decision on the matter.


Maharashtra Government Agrees To Farmers' Demands, Says Minister: 10 Facts
MMNN:12 March 2018

MUMBAI: The Devendra Fadnavis government of Maharashtra has agreed to the demands of thousands of protesting farmers who have been pouring into Mumbai for the last two days. The demands have been accepted in writing, said state minister Chandrakant Patil, after a delegation of farmers met government representatives this afternoon. Nearly 50,000 distressed farmers, demanding loan waiver and updated minimum support price, had assembled in Mumbai after a grueling five day march.
Here is a 10-point lowdown on the farmers' demand:
Farmers have been demanding an unconditional loan waiver scheme after some of them failed to qualify for any financial relief under the Maharashtra government's initiative last year. The Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), which spearheaded the march, wants the implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission that mandates farmers be paid one-and-a-half times the cost of production and the Minimum Support Price be fixed for their produce. The adivasis or tribal cultivators, who joined the march in huge numbers, want the land they have been tilling for years to be transferred to their names and implementation of the Forest Rights Act, which they say will benefit them. Inter-linking of rivers and to discontinue sharing of waters with Gujarat is among another concerns that they want to discuss. The farmers want the state government to stop forceful acquisition of farm lands for projects such as super highways and bullet trains. They want compensation of Rs. 40,000 per acre to farmers hit by hailstorm and pink bollworm. As farmers across the state reportedly failed to benefit from the loan waiver scheme of the government, they decided to cover the 180 km distance between Nasik and Mumbai on foot to register their dissent. The scorching sun, blistered and cracked feet and sparse meals didn't deter the debt-ridden farmers. Even though the farmer had planned to begin their march towards the Vidhan Sabha after 11 am, they chose to walk at night so that the students appearing for their Board exams weren't affected and the traffic ran smoothly. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said his government was "sensitive and positive" towards the demands of farmers and tribals. "A ministerial committee has been formed to discuss their demands. We will take a decision to resolve their issues in a time-bound manner," he said. Poonam Mahajan appreciated their long march and said the government in looking into them. "But the farmers had accepted that the farm loan waiver was implemented. I respect these farmers but what has bothered me the most is that these farmers are holding communist flags. I hope farmers will not be used for political agendas in the future," she said.


HM directs CAPFs to launch spl recruitment drives for
MMNN:10 March 2018

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday called upon the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to launch Special Recruitment Drives for Women to achieve the goal of 33 per cent reservation for women. Addressing the 49th Raising Day Parade of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in Ghaziabad, he also asked the Force to prepare and strengthen its Cyber Security Plan. Quoting CISF motto ‘Duty with smile’ the Home Minister said air travelers have heaped lavish praise on the CISF personnel for their politeness while ensuring foolproof security at airports. He, however, called upon the CISF personnel not to lower guard and always remain vigilant. “India’s economy will surpass the five trillion doller mark in a few years. We will need to boost critical infrastructure including airports, metro and high-speed railways and providing security to such vital, strategic installations including space research and nuclear power plants that lies in the hands of CISF”, Rajnath said. The Home Minister asked the CISF to roll out its Mission 2020 ahead of the “Amrut Mahotsav” (75th Anniversary) celebrations of India’s Independence in 2022. As the CISF enters its Golden Jubilee Year, he lauded the world’s largest industrial security force for its multi-dimensional roles including Internal Security in combating Left Wing Extremism. On the occasion, the Union Home Minister presented awards and medals to CISF personnel and took the salute of an impressive parade.


Karti Chidambaram Sent To CBI Custody For 3 More Days In Corruption Case
MMNN:9 March 2018

NEW DELHI: Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, has been sent to the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI for three more days by a court in Delhi. He will presented in court on Monday. The CBI had sought his remand for six more days. Karti has been in the custody of the CBI since his arrest on February 28. He was was arrested by the CBI last week on charges that he facilitated investment approvals for the INX media group back in 2007 and 2008, using the influence of his father, then Finance Minister P Chidambaram. In return, Karti is alleged to have been paid 700,000 dollars by the two former co-owners of the media house, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. Karti Chidambaram was arrested on his return from the UK at the Chennai airport. He has repeatedly said he was being framed by the agencies at the instance of the government. Earlier in the day, the Delhi High Court had said that he cannot be arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the INX Media money laundering case till March 20, the next hearing of the case. The interim relief to the 46-year-old businessman came a day after the Supreme Court transferred to the Delhi High Court his plea for cancelling summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate. Karti's lawyers had argued that the ED has no jurisdiction to conduct any investigation unrelated to the allegations in the FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI on May 15, 2017. 1 COMMENTSSalman Khurshid, Karti Chidambaram's lawyer and former minister, had said they had asked the Supreme Court, and now the High Court, to cancel the summons by the ED because they anticipated "sequential arrests". "What we did in the Supreme Court was to anticipate sequential arrests, that when you get bail in one matter, then you are picked up in another matter... We wanted that to be clear... because the law doesn't allow that to be done," he had explained.


Karnataka Ready With Its Flag, To Ask Centre to Clear 'Tricolour'
MMNN:8 March 2018

BENGALURU: A red, white and yellow flag designed for Karnataka was revealed at a meeting of the state government today, before activists, ministers, and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. The "tricolor" also features an emblem, "Ganda Bherunda", which is a two-headed mythical bird. The design of the flag or "Naada Dwaja" was cleared by the state government and will be forwarded to the central government. Ahead of elections due in a few months, a separate flag has been linked to Kannada pride by the state's ruling Congress. A member of the flag committee, Mukhyamantri Chandru, said, "There is nothing in the Constitution that says states should not have a flag. So the Siddaramaiah government decided to give some sanctity to the Karnataka state to fix a regional flag. This is no damage to the national flag." The Kannada flag plan and the committee set up by the state fueled sparring between the Congress and the main opposition BJP, whose leaders, including Shobha Karandlaje, had accused the government of practising divisive politics. The BJP, however, went silent after public anger over its stand. Mr Chandru said there would be rules for the use of the state flag. "I don't think they will reject this. This is what people want with their hearts," he said. COMMENTSWith an eye on polls, the state government has been pushing a pro-Kannada agenda for months. A few months ago, a Hindi Beda or 'No to Hindi' agitation drove the removal of all Hindi signboards from the Bengaluru Metro. Only Kannada and English signboards remain in the Namma Metro now. Senior Kannada writer and activist Chandrashekhara Patil said, "Today is a historical occasion for Kannadigas because the government has responded very positively to this demand from the people of Karnataka."


High Court Reserves Order On Plea Of 20 Disqualified AAP Lawmakers
MMNN:28 February 2018

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its order on 20 Aam Aadmi Party lawmakers plea challenging their disqualification in office-of-profit case. A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar kept its decision pending after the MLAs, Election Commission of India and other parties concerned concluded their arguments. "Arguments heard. Judgement reserved," the bench said. The lawmakers had on Tuesday told the court that EC's order disqualifying them for allegedly holding office-of-profit was passed in "complete violation of natural justice" as they were not given the opportunity to explain their stand before the poll panel. The bench was also requested by the legislators to remand their case back to the poll panel with a direction to hear the matter afresh. The lawmakers had approached the high court challenging their disqualification after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his nod to the EC's recommendation. Backing its recommendation to the President for AAP lawmakers' disqualification, the poll panel had submitted that the legislators cannot claim that they were not holding office-of-profit. The EC had earlier claimed that the disqualified lawmakers' plea was not maintainable and was liable to be dismissed. The high court was hearing the plea on a day-to-day basis since February 7. The high court had on January 24 refused to stay the Centre's notification disqualifying them, but had restrained the poll panel from taking any "precipitate measures" such as announcing dates for by polls to fill the vacancies. COMMENTSThe EC had on January 19 recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs - Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gahlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal Khufiya, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh.


aa India owes its spiritual prosperity to Swami Jayendra Saraswati: CM Shri Chouhan
Bhopal:MMNN: 28 February 2018

Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that Swami Jayendra Saraswati, the 69th Mathpramukh of Kanchi Kamkothi Peeth, who is responsible for the prosperity of spiritual heritage of India has also propagated the glory of Sanatan Hindu Dharma and culture among the people. Shankaracharya Parampujya Swami Jayendra Saraswati passed away today. This is a very sad moment for Sanatandharmi devotees and the entire India. The Chief Minister said that today the whole Hindu community is motivated by Swamiji’s Divya darshan and his revolutionary speeches. Swamiji not only showed the way to deep spiritual awareness but was the living symbol of spiritual prosperity besides being a protector of Indian culture. India’s spiritual and cultural aura will forever remain lit due to the efforts of divine and energetic Yugpurush like Swami Jayendra Saraswati. The society will continue to benefit from his penance till eternity. The Chief Minister paid his tributes to Swamiji on behalf of the people of the state.



Protests In Bihar Assembly Over Leader Who Mowed Down 9 Children
MMNN:27 February 2018

PATNA: The death of nine children in last week's hit-and-run case in Muzaffarpur -- allegedly by a drink-driving BJP leader -- found resonance in the state assembly today. Led by Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal, the opposition parties held a protest, demanding immediate action against the absconding Manoj Baitha. The opposition has accused the Nitish Kumar government of trying to shield Mr Baitha because of his political affiliations - a claim the government has denied. Bihar Deputy Chief Minister, BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi has said the police have been asked to take the "sternest possible action" against Mr Baitha irrespective of his political affiliations. The BJP -- which is part of the state's ruling alliance -- suspended Manoj Baitha from the party last evening. In a statement, the party said,"Manoj Baitha, a district level worker of Sitamarhi, has been suspended from the primary membership of the party for a period of six years". The move followed a sarcastic tweet by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who claimed Mr Baitha was driving drunk despite the alcohol ban in the state. The ban, the brainchild of Mr Kumar, was imposed by the government with much publicity two years ago. He has even received praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the implementation. COMMENTSManoj Baitha was behind the wheels of an SUV that had run over nine children outside a school in Muzaffarnagar. The family that filed a complaint with the police, said CCTV footage from the area showed that him getting off the car and running away. The police are trying to trace the leader, who is still absconding.


6 Teens Run Over By Train In UP; They Were Walking On Track, Say Locals
MMNN:26 February 2018

Six teenagers died instantly and another is battling for his life after a speeding train hit them, in Hapur on Sunday night. Eyewitnesses claim the boys were apparently, casually, walking across the track when the train hit them at Sadikpura in Pilkhuwa. Seven boys between 14 and 16 years of age were daily wage labourers and worked as painters and helpers. All seven of them, who were friends, were supposed to take a train from Ghaziabad for a painting contract in Hyderabad. But they missed their train and returned to Pilakhua a little after midnight.. Six of them, Vijay, Akash, Rahul, Sameer, Arif and Salim died on the spot as the train hit them while another boy who has not yet been identified is battling for his life in the ICU. All of them had ear phones and were listening to music, say locals. 2 COMMENTS After the incident local residents blocked the railway track in protest, they claim the area is poorly lit at night and there is continuous movement of people who reportedly take a shortcut by crossing the train tracks. Residents claim there is no warning when trains arrive and even the elderly and children on their way to school often cross the tracks at that spot. A large contingent of police force has been sent to tackle the situation in Sadikpura. The superintendent of police Hemant Kutiyal and the District Magistrate Krishna Karunesh have rushed to the spot after tension erupted in the area.


Delhi CS assault case: Bail plea of AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan, Prakash Jarwal nixed
MMNN:24 February 2018

Metropolitan Magistrate Shefali Barnala Tondon on Friday dismissed the bail application of Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal, who were arrested on the allegation of assaulting Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash. It was alleged that the two AAP lawmakers assaulted Mr Prakash at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on Monday night. Mr Prakash had filed a complaint that he was beaten up by the two AAP MLA when he was sitting on a sofa during the course of a meeting. He said he was flanked by Amanatullah Khan and the other AAP MLA during the Monday night meeting and without provocation the two legislators “started hitting and assaulting” him “with blows on head and temple”. He further alleged that the assault was “premeditated” and a “conspiracy” of all those present. A case was registered at the Civil Lines Police Station after the complaint filed by the Chief Secretary. Police had registered an FIR on the charge of criminal conspiracy and other provisions defined under Indian Penal Code. Amanatullah Khan, who surrendered before the police, had alleged that the Chief Secretary was acting at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party and “the incident was a pretext to dismiss the AAP government”. He further submitted that there was no proof that Mr Prakash was beaten up. Jarwal was also arrested in connection with the case.


Schoolgirl On Way To Exam Beheaded Outside Madhya Pradesh School, Stalker Suspect
MMNN:23 February 2018

BHOPAL: A Class 11 student on her way to an exam was beheaded right outside her school in Madhya Pradesh, allegedly by a stalker. The girl was attacked on Thursday afternoon with a sword at a village in Anuppur, around 540 km from state capital Bhopal. The student was about to enter her school for a biology practical exam around 12.30 pm. According to the police, no one but a teacher saw the attack. The teacher reportedly saw a man rushing towards the girl from behind and striking her thrice with a sword. The man then dropped the sword and ran away. The school is a little out of town and there weren't too many people around. The 63-year-old teacher who witnessed the crime says she could not see clearly as she wasn't wearing her glasses and was at some distance from the spot. The school called the police, who took away the body and the sword. COMMENTSThe police questioned a suspect based on her family's information, but the investigation turned on its head when the police received news of another death. A young man was found hanging near the girl's village. The gruesome killing in a public place in broad daylight has left the town horrified and afraid.


Army Chief Bipin Rawat's Comment "Not Political Or Religious", Say Sources Amid Row
MMNN:22 February 2018

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat's comments on the rise of a political party that champions the cause of Muslims in the northeast have set up a controversy. At a seminar on Wednesday, General Rawat also warned against the influx of people from Bangladesh, calling it proxy war by Pakistan with help from China. Sources in the Army say there is "nothing political or religious" in what General Rawat said. In comments that have provoked political reactions, the Army Chief referred to reports of an increase in Muslim population in several districts of Assam and talked about the rise of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by Badruddin Ajmal. "There is a party called AIUDF. If you look at it, they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years," he said, adding that the BJP won only two seats in the 1984 national election. "The AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in Assam." The AIUDF, formed in 2005, has three members in parliament and 13 legislators in the Assam assembly. "I do not think you can now change the population dynamics of the area. If it was five districts to eight to nine, inversion has taken place whichever be the government," Gen Bipin Rawat said, referring to districts in Assam that have a Muslim majority. The Army Chief also said the influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast was "planned" and part of proxy warfare by Pakistan with support from China. "A planned immigration is taking place because of our western neighbor. They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare. I think the proxy game is very well played by our western neighbour, supported by our northern border (China) to keep the area disturbed. We will continue to see some migration happening. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it," he said. To check the influx of Bangladeshis, Assam is developing a national register of citizens. General Bipin Rawat said the centre was "seriously taking several measures to ensure development of the region", which would "take care of a lot of things". Efforts should be to "amalgamate" the people living in the region, he said, and then try and "start identifying those creating trouble for us". "We will have more problem in segregating people. Yes, some people will have to be identified who are creating trouble for us." 17 COMMENTSArmy sources said there was nothing controversial in what the General Bipin Rawat said, that he had just mentioned "amalgamation and development". Badruddin Ajmal, reacting to the Army Chief's comments on his party, had tweeted: "General Bipin Rawat has made a political statement, shocking! Why is it a concern for the army chief that a political party, based on democratic and secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties."


Ishrat Jahan Case: Ex-Gujarat Police Chief PP Pandey Discharged By Court
MMNN:21 February 2018

AHMEDABAD: Former top Gujarat police chief PP Pandey will no longer be an accused in the 2004 Ishrat Jehan fake encounter case, a court in Ahmedabad said today. Mr Pandey has been charged along with other former police officers with conspiracy, illegal confinement and murder in the Ishrat Jehan case by the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI. Mr Pandey is the first accused to be discharged in the case. He spent 19 months in jail before being let out on bail in February 2015. 19-year-old Ishrat Jehan and three others were killed in June 2004 near Ahmedabad by Gujarat police officers who said they were Lashkar terrorists planning to assassinate Narendra Modi, who was then Chief Minister. Mr Pandey is currently out on bail. He had argued in his petition for discharge that the statements of two witnesses against him are contradictory. He had also referred to his reinstatement in the police force and promotion as Director General of Police. He had claimed that none of the 105 witnesses examined by the court had named him and he had no "direct or indirect involvement in the case". COMMENTSMr Pandey resigned last year in April after his promotion was challenged in the Supreme Court. The CBI's first charge-sheet in 2013 named seven Gujarat police officers including Mr Pandey, DG Vanzara and GL Singhal.


Maharashtra Pilot Gets 35,000 Crore-Deal For India's First Plane Factory
MMNN:20 February 2018

The dream of a commercial pilot to set up an aircraft manufacturing company is set to take wings with the Maharashtra government today signing a Rs. 35,000 crore pact with him to build aircraft. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was present when the MoU, which envisages Rs. 35,000 crore investment in the project, was signed at the "Magnetic Maharashtra" global investors summit in suburban Bandra. The MoU, between Amol Yadav and MIDC, will lead to generation of around 10,000 jobs in the project, which will be spread over 157 acre land in Palghar district. Last year, Mr Fadnavis had assured all help to Mr Yadav, 42, who hails from Satara district, to start manufacturing facility for indigenous 6-seater and 19-seater aircraft. "I have to make planes. I have demonstrated the capabilities. Fadnavis wants the first plane making factory of the country to be in Maharashtra. The 157-acre plot was identified in Palghar. The MIDC will provide us land and support facilities like roads," Mr Yadav told PTI. "My responsibility is to build the plane and create the factory which will be producing more, and also to look after factories to be set up henceforth. This will be an aerospace hub to make planes," he said. Maharashtra government will help in getting the required funds, Mr Yadav said. "The government expects Rs. 35,000 crore investment for not my company alone, but also for the ancillaries which will be a part of the hub," he said. "Rs. 35,000 crore is the total amount of funds which will be required to achieve the broader targets. The target is to create employment for 10,000 people. The investment figure is included in the MoU agreement but it will not be coming from me alone," he said. "In the first phase, I am required to build a prototype 19-seater plane and three more similar planes for production. The investment required for this will be Rs. 200 crore, which is the immediate requirement and will be spent in the next six months," he said. "Our target, from the Rs. 35,000 crore investment, is very simple. We want to make 600 19-seater planes in the next 2-3 years and then take it to 1,300 planes after that. We are planning for 1300 19-seater planes at present," he said. "We have already identified many potential investors," Yadav said. The government will also help, he added. "Pratt & Whitney is supplying me the engines at present. The engine supplied to me is 30 years old and tested one," he said, adding he "fully owns" the company. Mr Yadav, senior commander with Jet Airways, has promoted Thrust Aircraft Private Limited company for manufacturing aircraft. 29 COMMENTSHis six-seater aircraft was the centre of attraction during the Make In India exhibition held in Mumbai in 2016. The aircraft, that was assembled on the terrace of a Charkop building, got the certificate of registration from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) last year.


Narendra Modi to address national conference on doubling farmers’ income by 2022
MMNN:19 February 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address here on Tuesday national conference on Doubling of Farmers Income by 2022. The two-day conference in which top officials from states, experts and agriculture scientists are participating, was inaugurated on Monday by Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh. Emphasising the government’s attention on doubling farmers income by 2022, Mr. Singh said there was more focus on irrigation projects for “har khet ko paani’’, provision of quality seeds to farmers, investment in warehousing and cold chains, promotion of value addition through food processing, creation of e-market, Fasal Bima Yojna and more funding for animal husbandry, horticulture and bee keeping, sources said. According to the sources, Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat spoke about his experiences in zero budget natural farming which involves integrated approach to soil fertility, animal husbandry, bee-keeping and cropping. Deputy Chairman of Niti Aayog Rajiv Kumar urged states to come up with success stories of farmers from good farm practices.


Cauvery Water Dispute Verdict: A Timeline Of Events
MMNN:16 February 2018

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court pronounced a landmark verdict in the decades-old Cauvery water dispute on Friday, reducing Tamil Nadu's share of water from the river Cauvery 177.25 TMC or thousand million cubic feet instead of 192 TMC. The 2007 tribunal allocation of 30 TMC to Kerala and 7 TMC to Puducherry remains unchanged. The top court acknowledged Bengaluru's needs as a "global city" and allotted it 4.75 TMC for drinking water out of Karnataka's increased share. The 765-km long Cauvery river is considered the lifeline for Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Livelihoods of lakhs of farmers and farm labourers are dependent on release of Cauvery water in Tamil Nadu but Karnataka has maintained that it was "not in a position" to release Cauvery water to its neighbouring state. Here's a timeline of events in the Cauvery Water Dispute: The origins of the dispute over the sharing of Cauvery waters date back to the agreements of 1892 and 1924 between the then Kingdom of Mysore and the then Madras Presidency. In 1990, the central government created a tribunal to examine the conflict and address the water shortage. 17 years later in 2007, this tribunal delivered its verdict on how water should be shared between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka Kerala and Puducherry. All states challenged the share assigned to them. An appeal was filed against the 2007 order of the Cauvery Water Tribunal that allocated, in a normal year, 270 TMC, or thousand million cubic feet, 192 TMC to Tamil Nadu at its Mettur Dam, 30 TMC to Kerala and 6 TMC to Puducherry. Karnataka wanted Tamil Nadu's share to be slashed by half and had made a strong case on drinking water needs of Bengaluru and Mysuru. In 2012, the Supreme Court intervened and ordered Karnataka to increase the supply of water to Tamil Nadu. Later when Tamil Nadu filed a suit against the dip in water supply, Karnataka government said that there wasn't enough water supply in the four dams on the Cauvery to cater to the drinking needs of Bengaluru and Mysuru and it was unfair on part of Tamil Nadu to ask for more water. As situation became tense between the two states, the Supreme Court intervened again in 2016 and directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water daily for a period of 10 days (September 7 -September 16) to Tamil Nadu. After Karnataka's interim petition, it modified the order on September 12 and directed Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs of water daily till September 20. This triggered massive protests in Karnataka. COMMENTSAfter Karnataka ignored the Supreme Court's order, the state was asked by the top court to explain its repeated defiance of orders. In what was seen as a "token gesture", Karnataka released some Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for its farmers. In October, 2016, after attempts to resolve dispute through arbitration failed, the Supreme Court had asked the centre to form the Cauvery Management Board but the government declined, insisting that only parliament could create such a body. The top court asked Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu till further orders. On July 5, 2017, the Supreme Court allowed Tamil Nadu to file a fresh plea alleging that Karnataka was not giving its due share of Cauvery water. In January 2018, the Supreme Court indicated that it would deliver its verdict within a month on the decades-old Cauvery water dispute, saying enough confusion has been created on it for over two decades. The top court said that any forum could touch the matter relating to the Cauvery basin, only after it gave its verdict in four weeks.


Stage set for Modi’s rallies: Electorate clamour for change
MMNN:15 February 2018

Stage is set for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s key election rallies at Santirbazar and Agartala on Thursday with an overwhelming crowd gathering at the Swami Vivekananda ground here. “Looking forward to campaigning in Tripura today. I would be addressing rallies in Santirbazar and Agartala,” Mr Modi tweeted.Among the gathering those came in at Swami Vivekananda ground, several voters including women and from minority community said that the public mood in the state is for change and hence everyone seems to endorse the slogan ‘Chalo Paltai’ (Come, Let us Change)’. “The CPI-M government is last few years turned into a regime of self-seeking leaders as ministers and Left leaders only ensured job for their relatives and children. They simply forgot the common people of the state,” said Moinul Islam, a voter from Bordwali assembly segment. Endorsing his views, another voter Asheem Pal, a trader by profession, hoped once BJP government is installed in the state, Tripura will see an atmosphere of booming business. He further said, “The BJP’s promise of creating job avenues has attracted me most. I also welcome the assurance given by the BJP that there will be a comprehensive CBI inquiry into the Rose Valley Chit Fund scam”. Prime Minister is arriving in Agartala for the second time in a week as he addressed two rallies one at Sonamura and the other at Kailashahar on February 8. The BJP vote share in 2013 assembly polls was near negligible at 1.57 per cent and in 2014 parliamentary polls had hardly risen to 5.7 per cent.However, the saffron party strategists now claim that they have enhanced the party base and will now give a befitting fight to the CPI (M) in their own citadel.


Indian Mujahideen Terrorist, On The Run Since Batla House Encounter, Arrested
MMNN:14 February 2018

NEW DELHI: Ariz Khan, the bomb maker of terror group Indian Mujahideen that carried out serial bombings in Delhi and elsewhere a decade back has been arrested, a senior Delhi Police officer announced on Wednesday. Khan, an engineering dropout, had helped put together bombs that went off in between 2007 and 2008 in Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. In all, the police said, these explosive devices had killed 165 people and injured 535. Khan was present at Batla House, along with four others, on 19 September 2008 in Delhi's Jamia Nagar, in which two Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed and as many arrested. Encounter specialist and Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who led the police action, was killed during the operation. Khan had, however, managed to escape after shifting places for a month, had headed to Nepal. He got hold of a Nepali citizenship card and passport in the name of Salim. Initially, he tried his hand at running a restaurant but later started teaching in different schools in Nepal. He again came in touch with Riyaz Bhatkal, the Indian Mujahideen founder, who motivated him to travel to Saudi Arabia to raise money to revive the group in September 2014. "For a cover, he worked as a labourer and also met with many sympathizers there," senior police officer PS Kushwah said. COMMENTSHe returned to Nepal from Saudi Arabia in March 2017 and would occasionally travel to India also.


Alarmed Congress Leader Wants Rahul Gandhi To Expel Mani Shankar Aiyar Over Pakistan Remark
MMNN:13 February 2018

NEW DELHI: An alarmed senior Congress leader and former lawmaker Hanumantha Rao has said he will write to party president Rahul Gandhi requesting him to expel Mani Shankar Aiyar, who was suspended by the party late last year after his "neech" slur against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The latest provocation is Mr Aiyar saying in Karachi that while most political parties in Pakistan want cordial relations with India, those in India are "still caught in a partially 1947 situation". "All political parties except the Jamaat-e-Islami say they want peace with India. Now this change in mindset that is taking place in Pakistan is not reflected in India," Mr Aiyar said. His comments came two days after Pakistan-based terrorists attacked an Army camp in Jammu, killing five soldiers and one civilian and injured 10 people, including women and children. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman warned on Monday that "Pakistan will pay for its misadventures". "Mani Shankar Aiyar should stop giving such remarks, he has already been suspended. He should stay quiet," said Mr Rao told news agency ANI, adding, "I am writing to Rahul Gandhi ji asking him to expel Aiyar from the party." Mr Rao worried that Mr Aiyar's remarks - he called them "weird" - can damage the party's prospects in Karnataka, where assembly elections will be held soon. "The BJP can take advantage of this," Mr Rao fumed, also stating, "He has earlier given such kind of a wrong statement during the Gujarat election campaign and we have suffered a lot because of that. Later Congress President Rahul Gandhi ji even suspended him but still he said that I have got lot of love and affection from Pakistan. What nonsense is he really talking about?" The BJP's Sambit Patra said Mr Aiyar is a "repeat offender," pointing out that "we have seen him in the past also going to Pakistan and saying 'Modi ko hatana hoga'." Mani Shankar Aiyar, said Mr Patra, was not the only Congress leader to do this. "We have also seen Salman Khurshid going in the past to Pakistan and praising Pakistan and demeaning India. Such is the culture of the leaders of the Congress party, where P Chidambaram speaks about azaadi, in the sense that it means autonomy... where they, in fact, speak against the Indian Army, saying that Indian Army chief is like 'sadak ke goonde', " the BJP leader said. Just before Gujarat voted in assembly elections in December last, Mr Aiyar had called PM Modi a "neech aadmi," a comment that earned him a reprimand and a suspension order from Rahul Gandhi. But the damage was done and the BJP did not let the Congress forget it for a moment thereafter. PM Modi said Mr Aiyar had insulted not him but his entire home state of Gujarat and urged voters to punish the Congress. The Congress posted its best performance in Gujarat in years, narrowing the margin, but it was the BJP that won the state for the fifth time in a row. Mr Aiyar's self goal was seen to have played a considerable role in that result. COMMENTSAnd not for the first time. Ahead of the 2014 national election Mani Shankar Aiyar had derided Mr Modi as a tea seller who could never be Prime Minister. In his campaign, Mr Modi offered his credentials as a self-made leader, stressing that he sold tea on trains as a young boy to help support his family and contrasting his modest origins with those of the Congress' Gandhi family. In the BJP's sweep of the 2014 elections, Mr Aiyar was seen has having made significant contribution.


13-Year-Old Girl Set On Fire For Resisting Sexual Assault, Boy Detained
MMNN:12 February 2018

RAJGARH: A 13-year-old girl was set on fire allegedly by a boy when she resisted his attempt to sexually assault her in a village in Madhya Pradesh, a police officer said today. Police said the girl has suffered severe burn injuries and has been admitted to a hospital in Rajgarh district, 115 km from state capital Bhopal. Her condition is said to be critical as 50 per cent burn injuries is challenging for doctors to treat if infection sets in. The boy had gone into hiding on Saturday night. He was detained a day later after the police combed the district. She was alone at her house in Rajgarh's Sustani village on Saturday as her family members were out working at a field. Seeing that the girl was vulnerable with no one around, the boy sneaked into her house and tried to sexually assault her, police officer Indraraj Singh said. The girl fought back furiously as he also beat her up, Mr Singh said, adding the boy then suddenly took some cooking kerosene which he found in the house, poured the flammable liquid on her and set her on fire. COMMENTSRajgarh senior police officer Simala Prasad confirmed that the boy was taken into custody on Sunday night. A case has been filed under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act against the accused, police said.


Two Army jawans martyred, 4 injured in Jammu Fidayeen attack on Military Station
MMNN:10 February 2018

Jammu and Kashmir Government on Saturday said that two Army personnel were martyred while four others, including a girl, were injured in the ongoing Fidayeen attack on Sunjwan Military Station here on city outskirts. Minister for Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs Abdul Rehman Veeri said in the Legislative Assembly that at about 0410 hrs, a group of Fidayeens attacked Sunjwan Military Station (36 Brigade) resulting in death of one Subedar (JCO) Madan Lal Chowdhary and Subedar Mohammad Ashraf Mir. Four others, including a civilian, were injured in the incident and have been shifted to GMC Jammu for treatment. The Minister informed the House that the whole area has been cordoned off by the Army and the security forces and operation is underway as militants have taken refuge in JCO quarters in the area.


Protests At Kolkata School Over Sexual Assault On Class 2 Girl By Teacher
MMNN:9 February 2018

KOLKATA: A large number of parents protested outside a convent school in Kolkata this morning after learning that a Class 2 student had been allegedly sexually assaulted by a dance teacher for nearly a year. Policemen were called in to control the crowd and one officer was also hurt. The teacher has been arrested. According to the police, the Class 2 student suffered repeated assault in school. She was warned against telling her family by the teacher, who allegedly threatened to bury her alive. The horror surfaced after she stopped going to school recently. Yesterday, the little girl confided in her mother, after which her parents went to the school and demanded the teacher's arrest. Several parents gathered outside the school today and demanded tough action against the school's principal and administrators, accusing them of negligence. One of the protesting parents alleged that the school had tried to downplay the allegations. "It was then we decided to stage a protest outside the school," he said. 1 COMMENTSThe school has denied the attack. Parents alleged that the school had not installed CCTV cameras despite outrage and protests last year over the sexual assault of a student by two teachers at another private school in Kolkata.


BJP Developing Northeast India, Tripura Backward Due To Left: PM Modi
MMNN:8 February 2018

SONAMURA, TRIPURA: Saying his government was working to develop northeast India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that Tripura was lagging behind the rest of the country due to 25 years of "misrule" by the Left. "The BJP government at the Centre is working with all sincerity for all round progress of northeast India. But Tripura lagged behind due to misrule of Left parties for the past 25 years," the prime minister said at an election rally in Tripura's Sonamura, which is located around 50 km south-west of Agartala. He said that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had set up the Development of North Eastern Region Ministry to develop the region. His government also gave top priority to develop the infrastructure of the region and to improve the lives of the people. Prime Minister Modi also said that the Rs. 1,300 crore National Bamboo Mission had been launched to utilise the huge bamboo resources in the northeast. Chief Minister Manik Sarkar's Dhanpur Assembly constituency falls in the Sonamura Sub-Division. Giving the slogan "Cholo Paltai" (Go for Change), the Prime Minister urged the people to vote the BJP to power to transform Tripura. "Voting for BJP's lotus symbol will be a punishment for the Left Front government in the February 18 Assembly elections as during its 25 years of misrule people did not get anything, poverty went up and backwardness widened." Criticizing Mr Sarkar, Prime Minister Modi said: "under his (Sarkar's) white kurta there is a dark side. His government cheated people by giving poor wages when the people of other parts of the country got higher wages and the government employees got higher salaries. "In the past 25 years, the Left parties hypnotized the people. People could not understand how backward they are. Now the time has come to change the future of the state and the fortune of the people." PM Modi went on to say: "Out of every Rs. 100 spent in Tripura, the central government is giving Rs. 80. The Manik Sarkar government is unable to spend Central money properly. The Left government is also looting the money of the poor." "If the Left government is allowed to govern (further), there will be no development in the state." COMMENTSThe Prime Minister said that if the BJP took power in the state, corruption will end. "People are committing suicide in Tripura. Youths are not getting jobs... The time has come to throw out the Left.


A Rajiv Gandhi Story on "Telugu Pride" In PM Modi's Parliament Offensive
MMNN:7 February 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again showed that he is most certainly a smart politician. That is why while he was still being heckled by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and other parties in parliament over unfulfilled promises to Andhra Pradesh, he spoke about "Telugu pride". Hitting two targets with one stone, PM Modi made a reference to a widely known incident in which Rajiv Gandhi, the father of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, called then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister T Anjaiah of the Congress a "buffoon" at Hyderabad's Begumpet airport in 1982. Rajiv Gandhi, who was then Congress general secretary and had arrived in Hyderabad for a private visit, had reportedly lashed out at Mr Anjaiah publicly for bringing a large number of party men to the airport tarmac. PM Modi said it was in reaction to this insult of a "Dalit chief minister" that legendary actor NT Rama Rao left films and decided to start the TDP to save "Telugu atmagouravam" or Telugu pride. Raising that episode in parliament to demonstrate what he repeatedly called the Congress's arrogance and patchy record with democracy, PM Modi ripped into the opposition party for "dividing" Andhra Pradesh, likening it to the 1947 partition. "This is your character. You divided India. Even after 70 years of Independence, 125 crore people of India continue to suffer because of the poison you sowed. Not a single day passes when people of India are not punished for your sins," PM Modi said, speaking in the Lok Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address. As he was speaking, there was slogan-shouting by some MPs demanding a financial package for Andhra Pradesh as promised by the government when Telangana was carved out of it. The Prime Minister said the Congress "hastily" divided the southern state for political gains. COMMENTSPM Modi's comments are significant at a time the TDP, his party's biggest south ally, has been displaying its anger at what it feels the centre's neglect. TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, is deeply upset that his state didn't get a special consideration in the Budget. It took phone calls from Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh to calm him on Sunday, when he met with top party leaders to decide on the future of the alliance.


"In Debut Parliament Speech, Amit Shah's Sharp Rebuttal To Pakoda Jibes
MMNN:5 February 2018

NEW DELHI: BJP chief Amit Shah ripped into the Congress for its criticism of the government's economic policies as he made his debut speech in parliament today. As the first speaker in a discussion in the Rajya Sabha, Mr Shah spoke for over an hour, telling those from the opposition who interrupted his speech, "well, you will have to listen to me for the next six years." Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the Rajya Sabha and sat next to Mr Shah as the BJP chief listed at length the government's achievements and what he called its "historic work" in its almost four years in power, contrasting that with the Congress's governments, which he said had suffered from "acute policy paralysis." Mr Shah, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha a few months ago, was initiating the discussion in the house on the motion of thanks on the President's address to parliament. The BJP chief attacked the Congress over its chief Rahul Gandhi's mockery of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the "Gabbar Singh Tax" and also former finance minister P Chidambaram's recent comment on jobs. "Chidambaram compared pakoda-selling with begging. Those selling pakodas are self-employed. Can you compare them with beggars?" he said, pointing out that a "chaiwala's (tea-seller's) son has become the Prime Minister today." Mr Chidambaram had made a dig at PM Modi, who said in a TV interview that a person selling pakodas is employed, rejecting criticism that his government has failed to create jobs. "I accept there is unemployment in the country. It is a problem. It is the Congress that ruled the country for so many years," said Mr Shah. COMMENTSOn Rahul Gandhi dubbing GST as the "Gabbar Singh Tax," Amit Shah said, "Is this (GST) dacoity? How much do those who have named this as Gabbar Singh Tax understand," and also asserting, "GST is the biggest reform and it was possible under the strong leadership of PM Narendra Modi." He appealed to all parties to assist the government in making the implementation of the new national tax a success, stating, "there are lots of other places to do politics


"Rajasthan Shock Wave For BJP Leaves Its MPs Elsewhere Worried
MMNN:3 February 2018

The first day of February in Delhi brought with it the first hint of spring as well as the Union Budget, and a flurry of crucial by-election reverses that raise serious questions about the electoral health of the BJP. That the counting day for the by-elections happened to coincide with the Budget was I'm sure nothing but an innocent coincidence. After all, why would the Election Commission, an independent constitutional authority meant to safeguard our democratic processes, want to help the ruling party of the day bury the news of significant electoral losses in the media maelstrom that customarily accompanies the Budget? Why indeed? There were by-elections for two Lok Sabha seats and one assembly seat in Rajasthan, all BJP-held seats. In the Alwar Lok Sabha constituency, the Congress won the seat with a margin of nearly 2 lakh votes, overturning a large BJP majority of 2.83 lakh. In the Ajmer Lok Sabha constituency, the Congress won the seat with a margin of over 84,000 votes overturning a comfortable BJP majority of 1.7 lakhs. Most extraordinary of all was the Mandalgarh assembly seat, where the Congress candidate won by nearly 13,000 votes despite a Congress rebel taking away a whopping 23% of the vote. The Congress won 58% of the vote in Alwar, 52% in Ajmer, and would have conceivably won a similar vote-share in Mandalgarh had there not been a Congress rebel in the field. What's more, the Congress ran ahead in all 17 assembly segments that voted, with the Lok Sabha constituencies representing eight segments each, which represent 8.5% of the 200-seat strong state assembly. There was a tectonic swing in the vote-share of more than 15%. The fundamental reversal of fortune in terms of the vote and seeing it as an augury of the BJP's future electoral prospects are beyond argument. Many in the media are trying to portray this decisive verdict against the BJP in Rajasthan as solely a reflection of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia's poor performance, and to a considerable extent, it is a fair assessment. But any Lok Sabha by-election, especially when the ruling party holds the seat with large majorities, is by default a referendum on the central government as well. And BJP leaders may not admit this in public, but in private, they are definitely worried, if not panicked. What was the Budget if not a desperate attempt to assuage the widespread anger prevalent in rural India, so much so the PM felt the need to give a second Budget speech outside the parliament just in case we had not gotten the message already? Rajasthan is not only a large and electorally important state, it is also where the BJP swept all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the Modi wave of 2014 that traversed north and west India, the "north-west monsoon" as Rajdeep Sardesai famously described it. The by-election result comes after a highly polarised campaign with the controversy around "Padmaavat" dominating the conversation, but also the lynching of Pehlu Khan by cow vigilantes looming like a spectre in the background. The BJP candidate in Alwar was also accused of making overt comments that put the Hindu-Muslim issue front and centre. That the voters firmly rejected this poisonous manner of campaigning should be a lesson to the Modi Government that the only thing that can save them in the coming general election is pure performance and not divisive agendas designed to distract from the main issue of governance or lack thereof. However, I won't hold my breath for this moment of enlightenment. There was a consolation of sorts in the West Bengal by-elections for the BJP, leap-frogging to a distant but vastly improved second to the electoral behemoth that is Trinamool Congress. In the Uluberia Lok Sabha constituency, the Trinamool held their seat with a staggering victory margin of 4.74 lakhs. In the Noapara assembly seat, the Trinamool snatched this Congress-held seat with an impressive victory margin of a little over 63,000 votes. The BJP's vote-share did improve, but so did the Trinamool's with its dominance ever more evident and it looking ever more likely to sweep the state in the general election despite the BJP's best efforts. The CPM vote-share seems in freefall and the Congress footprint in the state continues to contract. With the CPM rejecting any talk of an alliance with the Congress, the latter may have no choice but to go hat in hand and be satisfied with whatever seat-sharing alliance Didi deigns to offer them. The Budget may have succeeding in diverting the spotlight from the by-election result in the media, but in the minds of BJP MPs, it hit home like an electric shock. It is assumed that the PM and Amit Shah will replicate their strategy, tried and tested in Gujarat, to ward off anti-incumbency by replacing a large percentage of sitting MPs with new candidates. There is a sense of foreboding within the BJP parliamentary party, oscillating between fear of facing the axe from their leaders before the election and, surviving that, the fear from ominous electoral precursors signalling a tough fight ahead. Budget Day ended with the general consternation that major announcements like the much-vaunted new healthcare plan, predictably christened ModiCare, and the increase in Minimum Support Price for crops had been presented with almost no details about how they would work on the ground and how they would be paid for; these and other questions put by journalists and experts to North Block mandarins were left largely unanswered. It was reminiscent of what followed demonetization and the GST roll-out. A complete disregard for the finer intricacies of competent administration in exchange for an obsession for flashy and fleeting publicity could ultimately be what decides the fate of the Modi Government. The voters of Rajasthan may well have already given us a preview of the general election to come.


"Siddaramaiah Irresponsible," Says BS Yeddyurappa Over BJP Worker's Death
MMNN:2 February 2018

BENGALURU: Former Karnataka Chief Minister and state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa today visited the family of the BJP worker who was murdered in Bengaluru on Wednesday. The BJP workers blamed the ruling Congress in the state for the murder and protested in the city. "A number of deaths have taken place. Santhosh was murdered. The Congress government is responsible for all these murders. I condemn this murder. Siddaramaiah is an irresponsible Chief Minister," Mr Yeddyurappa said. 28-year-old Santhosh was reportedly stabbed in the thigh and rushed to the hospital where he bled to death soon after. The police have arrested four men -- Wasim, Phillips, Umar and Irfan - in connection with his murder. The police are citing personal enmity between Santhosh and Wasim as the reason behind the killing. "They had various issues, one of them was the sale of ganja (marijuana) by the accused," said Deputy Commissioner of Police C Rathore. The BJP, however, has called it "political terrorism". "The same kind that we see in Pakistan," tweeted the BJP's Karnataka unit. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological mentor, is also suspecting the killing to be politically-motivated. "Santosh had organised a kabaddi match a fortnight ago and had put up a number of saffron flags around the ground, something that Wasim had objected to," said senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister R Ashok. The Congress attacked the BJP for "politicising Santhosh's death" at a time when the state prepares to vote for the new government. Dinesh Gundu Rao, working president of the Congress in Karnataka, said, "It is unfortunate that Santhosh was killed. The police have made arrests. But the BJP is trying to politicise the incident. It is neither communal nor political. It shows how desperate the BJP is and what extent they can go to." 1 COMMENTSHe added that the accused person is the son of a ward Congress president but it doesn't make any difference. "Action will be taken against the guilty," he said. The RSS and BJP claim that 23 of their workers have been killed during the years of Congress rule. The state government denies this and says personal enmity or other reasons were behind at least some of those murders.


PM’s Statement on Union Budget 2018-19
MMNN:1 February 2018

I congratulate the Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley for this budget. This budget strengthens the foundation stone of New India. The budget focus is on issues ranging from agriculture to Infrastructure. On one hand, budget covers aspects such as health plans to address the concerns of the poor and middle class, while on the other hand it has plans to increase the wealth of small entrepreneurs in the country. Other aspects range from food processing to fiber optics, from road to shipping, concerns of youth and the senior citizens, from rural India to Ayushman India and Digital India to Start up India. This budget is expected to give a boost to hopes and aspirations of 125 crore people of the country. It is expected to accelerate the development process of the country. It is farmer friendly, common man friendly, business environment friendly as well as development friendly. Ease of Doing Business as well as Ease of Living are in focus in this budget. More savings for the middle class, new generation infrastructure for 21st Century India and better health assurance - all are concrete steps towards Ease of Living. Our farmers have contributed in a big way towards the progress of the country with a record production of fruits and vegetables. Several steps have been proposed in this budget to give a boost to the farmers and enhancing their income. A record allocation of Rs. 14.5 lakh crores has been made for rural development and agriculture. Dalits, oppressed and disadvantaged sections of the society will be benefited with out of 51 Lakh new homes, more than 3 lakh kilometers of roads, about 2 crore toilets, electricity connections in 1.75 crore households. These initiatives will create new opportunities especially in the rural areas. I appreciate the decision to provide for one and a half times remunerative price for the cost incurred by the farmers for his produce. Center will put in place a sound system in consultation with the states to ensure that the farmers can avail full benefits from this decision. 'Operation Greens' will prove to be an effective instrument in this direction especially for the farmers engaged in producing vegetables and fruits. We have seen how Amul was instrumental in ensuring of fair price to the farmers engaged in the dairy sector. We are also familiar with the cluster based approach for the development of the industry in our country. Now, keeping in mind the agricultural produce in different districts, agricultural cluster approach will be adopted in different districts across the country. I welcome the plan to develop the storage, processing and marketing facilities for a particular agricultural produce after identifying the districts. In our country, the cooperative societies are exempted from paying income tax. But the 'Farmer Producer Organization' -FPO, that is similar to the cooperative societies, does not get this benefit. Therefore, income tax exemption for the 'Farmer Producer Organization' -FPO, which mint for the welfare of the farmers, is a welcome step. By providing the linkages between the Self Help Groups for women engaged in organic, aromatic and herbal cultivation and the 'Farmer Producer Organizations' the income of the farmers will be increased. Similarly, the Gobar-Dhan Yojana will help in keeping the village clean, while increasing the income of farmers and cattle herders. In our country farmers take up different occupations along with the farming. Some are associated with pisciculture, animal husbandry, poultry or bee-keeping. Farmers have faced difficulty in accessing loans from banks for such additional activities. Arranging loan for pisciculture and animal husbandry by Kisan Credit Card is a very effective step. There are about 7000 blocks in more than 700 districts of India. In these blocks, emphasis has been laid on modernization of infrastructure of 22 thousand rural business centers, on innovation and on increasing connectivity in the villages. In the days to come, these centers will be able to increase the income of farmers, creates employment opportunities and will become new hubs of agro based rural and agricultural economy. Under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna, now the villages will be connected to rural haats (markets), higher education centers and hospitals. This will make life easier for the people in the villages. We have seen an extension of the spirit of the Ease of Living in Ujjwala Yojana. The scheme has not only provided a relief to the poor women from the smoke but also become a huge source of their empowerment. I am happy to note that the target for Ujjawala has been enhanced from 5 crore families to 6 crore families. A large number of dalit, tribal and backward class families have been benefited from this scheme. This budget provides for allocation of about Rs 1 lakh crores for the welfare of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Medical treatment and its cost has always been a cause of concern for the lower middle class and poor sections of the society. The new scheme 'Ayushman Bharat', presented in the budget, will address this serious concern. This scheme will be available to nearly 10 crore poor and lower middle class families of the country. It means it will provide coverage to 45-50 crore people. Under the scheme these families will get free treatment up to Rs. 5 lakhs per annum in the identified hospitals. This is by far, the world's largest health insurance plan for which government will bear the cost. The idea of setting up 1.5lakh Health Wellness Centers spread over all the major panchayats of the country is commendable. This will provide easy access to health care services to the people living in the villages. Establishment of 24 new medical colleges across the country will not only facilitate the treatment of the people but also help to impart medical education to the youngsters. It is our endeavor to have at least one medical college for covering three parliamentary constituencies across the country. Several important decisions have been taken in this budget keeping in mind the concerns the Senior Citizens. Now the Senior Citizens will be entitled to have minimum interest of 8% on amount up to Rs 15 lakh under the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandan Yojana. No tax will be levied on interest up to Rs 50,000 on their Banks and Post Office deposits. Health insurance premium worth Rs 50,000 will exempt from the Income tax. Besides, relief from the Income Tax has been provided on expenditure up to Rs 1 lakh incurred on treatment of serious diseases. For a long time, the small and medium enterprises or the MSME in our country had to pay higher taxes than the big industries. In a bold in this budget, the government has reduced the tax rate for MSME by 5% now they will have to pay 25% tax in place of 30% which was the practice earlier. Credit seeking facility from the banks and NBFCs has been eased to ensure the required working capital for MSME industries. It will give a boost to the mission of Make in India. MSME sector has been experiencing stress due to NPA in big industries. The small entrepreneurs must not suffer because of the fault of others. Therefore, the government will soon announce corrective measures to resolve the problems related to NPA and Stressed Account in the MSME sector. In order to promote the employment and to provide social security to the employees the government has taken a far reaching decision. This will give impetus to the shift from the informal to formal sector and it will generate new job opportunities. Now the government will contribute 12% in the EPF Account of the new laborers for a period of 3 years. Besides, the contribution of new women employees in the EPF for a period of 3 years is being reduced from the existing 12% to 8% so that their take home salary increases and more employment opportunities are available for the women. However, the employer contribution will be maintained at 12%. This is a major step towards empowerment of working women. In order to realize the dream modern India, to enhance the Ease of Living of the common man and to ensure stability in development, India requires a Next Generation Infrastructure. Special emphasis has been given to the development of infrastructure related to Digital India. Allocation of Rs. 6 lakh crores has been made which is Rs. 1 lakh crore more than the previous year. These schemes will enhance the employment opportunity manifold in country. I congratulate the Finance Minister for the tax concession to the salaried and the middle class. This budget will live up to the expectation of every Indian Citizen. The budget has ensured the following – remunerative price of the crop to the farmer, upliftment of the poor with the welfare schemes, respecting the honesty of the tax paying citizen, support to the spirit of entrepreneurs with a right tax structure and hailing the contribution of senior citizens for the country. Once again my heartfelt congratulation to the Finance Minister and his team for presenting a budget which enhances the ease of living and laying a strong foundation for the New India.”


BUDGET GLOSSARY
MMNN:1 February 2018

1.Union Budget
Union Budget is the most comprehensive report of the Government's ?nances in which revenues from all sources and outlays for all activities are consolidated. The Budget also contains estimates of the Government's accounts for the next ?scal year called Budgeted Estimates.
2.Direct and Indirect Taxes
Direct taxes are the one that fall directly on individuals and corporations. For example, income tax, corporate tax etc. Indirect taxes are imposed on goods and services. They are paid by consumers when they buy goods and services. These include excise duty, customs duty etc.
3.GST
The constitution de?nes "Goods and Services Tax" means any tax on supply of goods, or services or both except taxes on the supply of the alcoholic liquor for human consumption. “goods” means every kind of movable property other than money and securities but includes actionable claim, growing crops, grass and things attached to or forming part of the land which are agreed to be severed before supply or under a contract of supply “services” means anything other than goods, money and securities but includes activities relating to the use of money or its conversion by cash or by any other mode, from one form, currency or denomination, to another form, currency or denomination for which a separate consideration is charged
4.Customs Duty
These are levies charged when goods are imported into, or exported from, the country, and they are paid by the importer or exporter. Usually, these are also passed on to the consumer.
5.Fiscal Deficit
When the government's non-borrowed receipts fall short of its entire expenditure, it has to borrow money form the public to meet the shortfall. The excess of total expenditure over total non-borrowed receipts is called the fiscal deficit.
6.Revenue Deficit
The difference between revenue expenditure and revenue receipt is known as revenue de?cit. It shows the shortfall of government's current receipts over current expenditure.
7.Primary Deficit
The primary deficit is the ?scal de?cit minus interest payments. It tells how much of the Government's borrowings are going towards meeting expenses other than interest payments.
8.Fiscal policy
It is the government actions with respect to aggregate levels of revenue and spending. Fiscal policy is implemented though the budget and is the primary means by which the government can in?uence the economy.
9.Monetary Policy
This comprises actions taken by the central bank (i.e. RBI) to regulate the level of money or liquidity in the economy, or change the interest rates.
10.Inflation
A sustained increase in the general price level. The in?ation rate is the percentage rate of change in the price level.
11.Capital Budget
The Capital Budget consists of capital receipts and payments. It includes investments in shares, loans and advances granted by the central Government to State Governments, Government companies, corporations and other parties.
12.Revenue Budget
The revenue budget consists of revenue receipts of the Government and it expenditure. Revenue receipts are divided into tax and non-tax revenue. Tax revenues constitute taxes like income tax, corporate tax, excise, customs, service and other duties that the Government levies. The non-tax revenue sources include interest on loans, dividend on investments.
13.Finance Bill
The Bill produced immediately after the presentation of the Union Budget detailing the Imposition, abolition, alteration or regulation of taxes proposed in the Budget.
14.Vote on Account
The Vote on Account is a grant made in advance by the parliament, in respect of the estimated expenditure for a part of new ?nancial year, pending the completion of procedure relating to the voting on the Demand for Grants and the passing of the Appropriation Act.
15.Excess Grants
If the total expenditure under a Grant exceeds the provision allowed through its original Grant and Supplementary Grant, then, the excess requires regularization by obtaining the Excess Grant from the Parliament under Article 115 of the Constitution of India. It will have to go though the whole process as in the case of the Annual Budget, i.e. through presentation of Demands for Grants and passing of Appropriation Bills.
16.Budget Estimates
Amount of money allocated in the Budget to any ministry or scheme for the coming ?nancial year.
17.Revised Estimates
Revised Estimates are mid-year review of possible expenditure, taking into account the rest of expenditure, New Services and New instrument of Services etc. Revised Estimates are not voted by the Parliament, and hence by itself do not provide any authority for expenditure. Any additional projections made in the Revised Estimates need to be authorized for expenditure through the Parliament's approval or by Re-appropriation order.
18.Re-appropriations
Re-appropriations allow the Government to re-appropriate provisions from one sub-head to another within the same Grant. Re-appropriation provisions may be sanctioned by a competent authority at any time before the close of the ?nancial year to which such grant or appropriation relates. The Comptroller & Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee reviews these re- appropriations and comments on them for taking corrective actions.
19.Outcome Budget
From the ?scal year 2006-07, every Ministry presents a preliminary Outcome Budget to the Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for compiling them. The Outcome Budget is a progress card on what various Ministries and Departments have done with the outlays in the previous annual budget. It measures the development outcomes of all Government programs and whether the money has been spent for the purpose it was sanctioned including the outcome of the fund usage.
20.Guillotine
Parliament, unfortunately, has very limited time for scrutinising the expenditure demands of all the Ministries. So, once the prescribed period for the discussion on Demands for Grants is over, the Speaker of Lok Sabha puts all the outstanding Demands for Grants, Whether discussed or not, to the vote of the House. This process is popularly known as 'Guillotine'.
21.Cut Motions
Motions for reduction to various Demands for Grants are made in the Form of Cut Motions seeking to reduce the sums sought by Government on grounds of economy or difference of opinion on matters of policy or just in order to voice a grievance.
22.Consolidated Fund of India
All revenues raised by the Government, money borrowed and receipts from loans given by the Government ?ow into it. All Government expenditure other than certain exceptional items met from Contingency Fund and Public Account are made from this account. No money can be appropriated from the Fund except in accordance with the law.
23.Contigency Fund of India
A fund placed at the disposal of the President to enable him/her to make advances to the executive/Government to meet urgent unforeseen expenditure.
24.Public Account
Under provisions of Article 266(1) of the Constitution of India, Public Account is used in relation to all the fund ?ows where Government is acting as a banker. Examples include Provident Funds and Small Savings. This money does not belong to government but is to be returned to the depositors. The expenditure from this fund need not be approved by the Parliament.
25.Corporate Tax
This is the tax paid by corporations or ?rms on the incomes they earn.
26.Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT)
The Minimum Alternative Tax is a minimum tax that a company must pay, even if it is under zero tax limits.
27. Disinvestment
By disinvestment we mean the sale of shares of public sector undertakings by the Government. The shares of government companies held by the Government are earning assets at the disposal of the Government. If these shares are sold to get cash, then earning assets are converted into cash, So it is referred to as disinvestment.


By-Election Results 2018 Live: Congress Wins Mandalgarh Seat And Leads in Ajmer, Alwar
MMNN:1 February 2018

The Congress is leading in two crucial parliament seats, Alwar and Ajmer, for which bye-elections were held in Rajasthan. Both seats were held by the BJP. The BJP is leading in the Mandalgarh assembly seat. Two Rajasthan Lok Sabha constituencies and one Assembly constituency went to the polls on Monday, January 29. Simultaneously, the Lok Sabha constituency of Uluberia and the Assembly constituency of Noapara - both of which are in West Bengal also went to polls on Monday. Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress is ahead in by-elections to the parliamentary seat of Uluberia, which it held, and also in the Noapara assembly seat, held by the Congress In Rajasthan these elections are seen to test of the popularity of the BJP government, which hopes to win a second straight term in assembly elections later this year. The by-elections were held four days after the release of controversial Bollywood film "Padmaavat" and the Rajputs, nearly two lakh voters in Ajmer, had declared that they will vote against the BJP. The Congress hopes an anti-incumbency sentiment and the anger of the Rajputs against the ruling party will help it win all three - the Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha seats and the Mandalgarh assembly seat. All three are BJP seats. They fell vacant due to the death last year of the BJP lawmakers who held them. The counting of all the three seats have begun


Man Arrested For Killing In UP's Kasganj, He Shot From Balcony, Say Cops
MMNN:31 January 2018

The man who shot dead 22-year-old Chandan Gupta during communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh's Kasganj has been arrested, the police said today. Saleem, who runs a cloth store in Kasganj, has been accused of firing the shot that killed Chandan Gupta on Friday. "(Saleem) fired from either the roof or the balcony of his house, as per statements of some witnesses. Some weapons were recovered in the last two days and we are hoping to do a ballistics match between them and the bullet found in Chandan's body," said Anand Kumar, a senior police officer in charge of law and order. It is not clear if Saleem has a criminal record. Two of his brothers have also been named in the killing that took place after a "Tiranga Yatra" to mark Republic Day in the town around five hours from state capital Lucknow. ​Chandan Gupta's father has alleged in his police complaint that the accused stopped his son, snatched and threw away his national flag, tried to make him shout pro-Pakistan slogans at gunpoint and shot him in the head when he refused. A total of 20 people have been named by the police. Chandan was among the bikers who participated in the "Tiranga Yatra" organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Various accounts suggest that the violence broke out when the "Yatra" - featuring bikers and others holding up the national flag and saffron flags - tried to go through a Muslim-dominated area. The police are investigating a video in which young men are seen on a road armed with guns, sticks and clubs, apparently from the part of the town where the clashes took place. They say the video was shot from a rooftop around the time when Chandan was killed. 3 COMMENTS"We are trying to reconstruct the sequence of events," said Anand Kumar, an Additional Director General with the UP police. On the "Tiranga Yatra" and criticism of the police for allowing it, Mr Kumar said: "The Tiranga (tricolor flag) is a national symbol and should not evoke any controversy." He added that all district administrations were taking steps to ensure that the atmosphere was not vitiated during any "Tiranga Yatra".


BJP Alleges Heckling At Meeting With Arvind Kejriwal, Complains To Cops
MMNN:30 January 2018

NEW DELHI: A meeting at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's home to discuss the controversial sealing drive in the national capital lapsed into chaos today as a team of BJP leaders walked out and later alleged they had been "heckled and attacked" by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lawmakers who were egged on by the chief minister. "This is urban Naxalism. I cannot this kind of gundagardi (hooliganism) can happen in a chief minister's house," said Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, who led the BJP team. The party has filed a police complaint against five AAP legislators. Mr Kejriwal is heard in a video saying, "Dekho, dar ke bhaag gaye (they ran away)" as the BJP team walked out of a packed conference hall. Other AAP lawmakers shouted "Sharam karo (shame)". The chief minister accused the BJP leaders of "walking out" of the meeting because they didn't want the media around. "I accepted the BJP's request for a meet so that it happens in a transparent manner. I arranged for everyone to come, including the media. I arranged for them to sit down, have snacks with us... they just walked out," Mr Kejriwal told NDTV. Visuals showed jostling and slogan-shouting outside the chief minister's residence as the BJP leaders made their way through a large crowd. Three BJP MPs, three legislators and two mayors had come for the meeting with Mr Kejriwal and AAP lawmakers. The plan was to meet and then go in a joint delegation to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's house with a request to stop the sealing drive, but that was not to be. The BJP accused Mr Kejriwal of trying to turn the meeting into a "rally" to draw political capital out of an issue that affected thousands of traders. 8 COMMENTSAfter the aborted meeting, the chief minister declared that his government would appeal to the Supreme Court for a temporary ban on the sealing. "We also want the sealing to stop," he said. Delhi's BJP-led municipal corporations have been sealing establishments that allegedly use residential properties for commercial purposes


3 States Get Contempt Notice From Supreme Court On Cow Vigilantism
MMNN:29 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Three states -- Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh -- have received contempt notice from the Supreme Court for allegedly failing to prevent incidents of cow vigilantism despite an order last year to do so. The states will have to reply to the notice by September 3. The notice from the Supreme Court came following a petition by Tushar Gandhi, who has been pursuing the matter since last year. It was in response to his petition that the top court, on September 6, had asked 26 states to maintain law and order and prevent violence by cow vigilantes. The states had been asked to depute nodal officers and highway patrol and keep the court oinformed about their progress. The top court also asked the Centre -- which had pleaded that law and order was a state subject -- whether under the Constitution, it had the responsibility to ask states to crack down on cow vigilantism. Days later, on September 26, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra further underscored that compliance reports should be filed. "Nobody can wash off their hands (from their duty). We will give directions to all the states," the court said. The first incident of cow vigilantism was reported from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh in 2015, in which an elderly man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death after allegations that he had killed a cow. 2 COMMENTSIn July last year, four Dalit men were stripped, tied to a car and flogged in Gujarat. In Alwar, a 55-year-old dairy owner, Pehlu Khan, was beaten to death on suspicion of cattle smuggling. The video footage of Pehlu Khan being yanked by the neck, thrown to the ground and kicked by cow vigilantes had sparked nationwide outrage. As reports of similar incidents from other states piled up, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers condemned cow vigilantism. "I have seen that some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of gau rakshaks in the day," PM Modi had said


Violence Again Erupts In Uttar Pradesh's Kasganj, Buses, Shops Set On Fire
MMNN:27 January 2018

LUCKNOW: Fresh violence erupted in western Uttar Pradesh on Saturday when groups of people went on a rampage in the state's Kasganj town after the cremation of a young man killed yesterday. One group burnt down a few shops in the town's main market, others vandalised shops at an intersection a short distance away and burnt down two buses. Chandan Gupta, 22, had died in clashes in the town 170 km from national capital Delhi that broke out during a "Tiranga bike rally" by activists of the RSS-backed students' group ABVP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Another person injured in the clashes, Naushad, is admitted to hospital. According to reports, both had bullet injuries. After the violence on Saturday, the Kasganj police went on an overdrive to make arrests for yesterday's riot. RP Singh, the Kasganj district magistrate said 49 people have been arrested for yesterday's violence, according to news agency ANI, Also, the district's borders have been sealed and restrictions prohibiting assembling of a large group of people imposed. A short video clip of yesterday's bike rally that has emerged shows hundreds of young men, many of them holding the National Flag and saffron flag, standing on the streets in one of the streets of the town. This is where they had been reportedly told by local residents from another community to take a different route In the background, some voices can be heard saying that they would not change their route. Someone else raises the slogan that everyone would have to say Vande Mataram if they want to stay in India. 1 COMMENTSThe violence started soon after; it started with hurling stones with each other and ended with gunshots being fired. In between, motorcycles were set on fire, stones thrown at passing vehicles and a place of worship set on fire. Saturday morning's vandalism is seen as a revenge for Chandan Gupta's death and this attack. There were images of groups of young men, holding bricks in hand, on the streets heading towards their target till they ran into the police who pushed them back


PM felicitates bravery award winners, says their brave acts serve as inspiration for others
MMNN:25 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Felicitating 18 children from across the country with Bravery awards for their acts of valour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the acts by them serve as an inspiration for others across the country. ‘Today , when we remember the acts done by these children, the people for whom they have given their life, it is very heart touching. For the others, the acts of bravery by these children serve as a source of inspiration,’the PM said after felicitating the children.At the same time, the PM said, the honour bestowed on these children adds to their responsibility. ‘These children have shown their bravery and people have noticed and appreciated their acts. It also gives an added responsibilty to these children to prove themselves at each and every step. I wish that this award serves as an opportunity for these kids so that they can grow further and do more tougher jobs easily in future,’the PM said. Eighteen children from across the country have been selected for the National Bravery Award 2018 .These include Nazia – Uttar Pradesh, Karanbeer Singh – Punjab, Netravati M Chavan (Posthumous) – Karnataka, Betshwajohn Peinlang – Meghalaya, Sebastian Vincent – Kerala, Laxmi Yadav – Chhattisgarh, Mansha N – Nagaland, N Shaungpan Konyak – Nagaland, Yoknai – Nagaland, Chingai Wangsa – Nagaland, Samridhi Sharma – Gujarat, Zonunthuanga – Mizoram, Pankaj Somwal – Uttarakhand, Nadaf Ejaj Abdul Rauf – Maharashtra, Lokrakpam Rajeshwari Chanu (posthumous) – Manipur, F Lalchhandama – Mizoram (posthumous), Pankaj Mahant – Odisha and Mamata Dalai – Odisha, While three of these were honoured posthumously, eight of these brave kids are from northeastern states. Among these 18 children is 6-year-old Mamata Dalai from Odisha, who fought a five-feet crocodile to save her elder sister’s jaws. Mamata, who hails from the Kendrapara district of Odisha, has won the Bapu Gaidhani award. Karanbeer Singh, 16, from Punjab saved the lives of 15 children after their school bus fell into a drain in Amritsar. Fourteen-year-old Netravati M Chavan from Karnataka lost her life while trying to save two young boys from drowning. 17-year-old F Lalchhandama from Mizoram and 15-year-old Loukrakpam Rajeshwori Chanu from Manipur will also be awarded posthumously. Fifteen others honoured will be participating in the Republic Day Parade on January 26 in the national capital. The selection was made by a high-powered committee comprising representatives of various ministries, departments, NGOs as well as office bearers of ICCW. The awards carry a medal, a certificate and a cash prize.


Need To Propagate India-ASEAN Special Ties Among Youth: Sushma Swaraj
MMNN:24 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Highlighting the strong cultural bonds between India and ASEAN countries, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said there is a need to propagate this "special relationship" amongst the youth of both the regions. There are mainly two things that connect India with ASEAN, one is Buddhism and the other is Ramayana, Ms Swaraj said. "From the Government of India's side, we would like to institutionalise the relationship through a permanent mechanism so that the youth of ASEAN countries can partake our cultural and religious ethos and become true ambassadors of India in their countries," the External Affairs Minister said on Monday. The minister also said that India cannot become a member of ASEAN because of geographical reason as this grouping is of South East Asian nations while India lies in the South Asia. Ms Swaraj was addressing the India-ASEAN Youth Awards function in New Delhi on Monday. She also highlighted the strong cultural ties that bind India and the ASEAN countries. COMMENTSMs Swaraj said the cultural bonds between India and ASEAN countries were centuries old and the "onus was on us to propagate this special relationship amongst the youth in both the regions". ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is a multilateral body whose member countries include Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.


Body Of Kerala Fisherman, Who Died At Sea, Will Be Sent Home: Devendra Fadnavis
MMNN:23 January 2018

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Government is making arrangements for sending the body of a Kerala fisherman, who died at sea off the Maharashtra coast, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said today. "Ratnagiri collector already in touch with Thiruvananthapuram collector since yesterday afternoon. All necessary arrangements being done to transport body of Kerala fisherman," Chief Minister Fadnavis, who is in Davos for the World Economic Forum meet, tweeted. "Total 9 persons were on the boat. One lost life, 5 left with the boat and three (are) with the body," the chief minister said, in response to Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram lawmaker Shashi Tharoor's tweet seeking help. Mr Tharoor had tagged Mr Fadnavis in his tweet yesterday saying that fisherman Rajumon's boat was near the Maharashtra coast, and sought help to bring the body onshore and transport it by air to Thiruvananthapuram Mr Tharoor posted an update today, saying Rajumon's body has been brought ashore at Ratnagiri and taken to a local government hospital. It will be transported to Thiruvananthapuram after autopsy, he said, thanking the Maharashtra government for co-operation. Rajumon, whose boat was fishing off the Maharashtra coast, died after suddenly taking ill, reports said.


AAP MLAs Withdraw Plea Against Disqualification, Will File New Petition: 10 Points
MMNN:22 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Aam Aadmi Party legislators have withdrawn a petition they had filed in the Delhi High Court against the Election Commission's recommendation that they be disqualified for holding offices of profit. Party sources said they will file a fresh petition after President Ram Nath Kovind signed off on the disqualification of the 20 AAP legislators. If the High Court rejects AAP's appeal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's party has said it will move the Supreme Court.
Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
1-The Election Commission recommended to the President on Friday last that the 20 AAP legislators, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries between March 2015 and September 2016, had held offices of profit and should be disqualified.
2-The MLAs immediately moved the High Court against the EC's recommendation, alleging that they were not given an opportunity to defend themselves by the Election Commission.
3-The High Court was to have heard that petition at 4 pm today. The AAP legislators withdrew the earlier petition and will now file a fresh petition.
4-AAP leaders had requested the President to hear their side before accepting the poll panel's recommendation, but President Kovind did not entertain their request and signed off on disqualifying the party's MLAs yesterday.
5-"President's order to disqualify AAP MLAs is unconstitutional and dangerous for democracy," said senior AAP leader Ashutosh. Parliamentary secretaries assist ministers with their work. AAP insists that despite holding the post, its MLAs did not take salary or perks and so they cannot be seen as having held offices of profit.
6-If courts do not stop the disqualification, by-elections will be held for the 20 seats. Even the loss of all 20 will not impact AAP's majority in the Delhi assembly. The party has 65 seats in the 70-member assembly. If it is reduced to 46, it will still have many more MLAs than the majority mark of 35.
7-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted an open letter to the people of Delhi today, stating, "Is it justified to disqualify elected leaders in such an unconstitutional and illegal way? Is it fair to force elections? Is this not dirty politics?"
8-Delhi's opposition parties Congress and the BJP have said Mr Kejriwal should quit on "moral grounds". The BJP has four members in the Delhi assembly, the Congress has none and a by-election will give both parties a chance to win a few seats.
9-Allowed to appoint only a limited number of ministers, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had, after AAP's sweep of the Delhi assembly elections, appointed 21 legislators as parliament secretaries. He did so after AAP pushed an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly Act to exempt the post from the definition of office of profit with retrospective effect.
10-In September 2016, the High Court had cancelled their appointment, saying it was done without the approval of the Lieutenant Governor, the administrative head of Delhi. The Congress had appealed to the Election Commission to disqualify the AAP legislators for holding offices of profit. One of the AAP legislators quit last year.


PM should spell out plans in ‘Mann Ki Baat’ to get Chinese out of Doklam: Rahul
MMNN:20 January 2018

Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his monthly radio talk show ‘Mann Ki Baat’, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the PM should spell out in his programme his plans to create jobs for the youth, get the Chinese out of Doklam and stop the rapes in Haryana. ‘Dear narendramodi, since you’ve requested some ideas for your MannKiBaat monologue, tell us about how you plan to: 1. Get our youth JOBS 2. Get the Chinese out of DHOKA-LAM 3. Stop the RAPES in Haryana,’ Mr Gandhi said in a post on the social media. The Prime Minister has sought suggestions from people for his first ‘Mann Ki Baat’ for 2018, scheduled to be aired on January 28.


100 ACCESSIBLE WEBSITES OF VARIOUS STATE GOVERNMENTS/UTs UNDER ACCESSIBLE INDIA CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED
MMNN:19 January 2018

In a path breaking initiative to empower Persons with Disabilities, 100 Accessible websites of various State Governments/UTs under Accessible India Campaign were launched by the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot on the occasion of ‘National Conference on Improving Accessibility’ here today. Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Vijay Sampla and Shri Krishna Pal Gurjar were present. Secretary, DEPwD Shri Shakuntala D. Gamlin and the officials from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development participated in the conference and submitted their valuable inputs on implementation of accessibility in various walks of life. Accessible Websites are those websites into which Persons with Disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) initiated a “Website Accessibility Project” for State Government/Union Territories under Accessible India Campaign through ERNET India, an autonomous scientific society under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), to make total 917 websites accessible and providing funds for the same. Now 100 accessible websites are made accessible under the project. The aim of the conference was to sensitize and bring awareness among different stakeholders including the officials of state government on accessibility in the context of recently enacted Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2016. The Accessible India Campaign has three important components viz Built Environment; Transport and Information and Communication Eco-system accessibility.     In his address, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment said that the Divyangjans are an integral part of our society and we have to play an active role for their welfare. He said that Accessible India Campaign is a nationwide flagship campaign of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The aim of the campaign is to make a barrier free environment for persons with disabilities all over the country for safe, dignified life of Persons with Disabilities. He said that around 5800 ADIP camps had been organised nationwide by his ministry for distribution of assistive device to Divyangjans. He opined that such Accessible websites will play an important role in proper dissemination of Governments policies and schemes for the welfare of Divyangjans. 2 Shri Vijay Sampla in his address said that today we have moved ahead are more step towards Accessible India campaign by launching 100 Accessible websites of various State Governments/UTs under Accessible India Campaign. He said that DEPwD is doing a commendable job in this regard. In his address Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar said that during past three and a half years many revolutionary steps have been taken by DEPwD, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment for the welfare of Divyangjans. He said that we need to empower the Divyangjans so that they can lead a normal life. Addressing the gathering, Mrs. Shakuntala D Gamlin urged the Central and State Government Departments to adopt accessibility standards while providing any service be it physical, infrastructural and IT etc. Mrs. Dolly Chakrabarty Joint Secretary, DEPwD emphasised on ensuring rural access as there is substantial difference in planning accessibility in rural areas and it is a less talked about topic in the growing era of urbanisation. ERNET India (MEITY) is executing the project which is funded by DEPwD under Accessibility India Campaign so far 917 websites across 27 States & UT have been chosen from the list of websites which have been provided by the State Social Welfare Departments through DEPwD. Accessible Website Design Principles: - Provide appropriate alternative text, Caption video; Provide transcripts for audio; All documents (e.g., PDFs) to be accessible; Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning; and Make sure content is structured, clearly written and easy to read. Current Status of Accessible Websites: -Total no. of websites: 917; Under Development: 244; Developed and Internally Audited: 208; and Live: 100 Web content accessibility guidelines –WCAG 2.0 :- Websites are made accessible by complying it as per Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standard organisation for the World Wide Web. The guideline establish three levels of accessibility on basis of which websites are designed, namely:-  Level A: This Indicates the basic level of accessibility that any web page must have  Level AA: This indicates an intermediate level of accessibility that any web page should have  Level AAA: This indicates the highest level of accessibility that any web page can achieve The founding principles of the guidelines state information and user interface components must be presentable to user in ways they can perceive, user interface components and navigation must be operable and information and the operation of user interface must be understandable. Moreover, content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.


Disqualify 20 AAP Lawmakers For Office Of Profit, Says Election Commission
MMNN:19 January 2018

In a massive blow to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Election Commission has recommended to the President that 20 legislators of his Aam Aadmi Party be disqualified for holding offices of profit as parliamentary secretaries, sources said today. Once the President approves the recommendation, by-elections will have to be held for the 20 assembly seats. The ruling AAP has a giant majority in the 70-member Delhi assembly with 66 seats and the disqualification will not endanger the Arvind Kejriwal government. It will come down to 46 seats, still comfortably across the half-way mark at 35. AAP will challenge the poll panel's decision in the Supreme Court. The party's Saurabh Bhardwaj said, "Office of Profit is when someone benefits. I want to ask do they use official bunglow or car? None of them can be accused of earning any salary or official facility. This entire matter was to be presented before the Election Commission. Till now there has been no hearing in this case before the Election Commission. The basic principle of justice is that the accused in the matter is given a chance to explain their point of view. No MLAs were summoned; they were not given chance to explain their version." Mr Kejriwal and his party have insisted that the appointments violate no rules as none of the AAP legisators draw salaries as parliament secretaries. But rival parties have argued that the posts allowed them perks like offices and cars and so were offices of profit. In 2015, soon after AAP swept the Delhi elections, Mr Kejriwal had appointed 21 legislators as parliament secretaries. A lawyer Prashant Patel had appealed to the President against the move alleging that it violated constitutional provisions and the President had sent it to the Election Commission for examination. In 2016, the Congress petitioned the Election Commission to disqualify the 21 MLAs and had been pressing upon the panel since to act on its request. Later that year, the High Court had set aside the appointments noting that Delhi's Lieutenant Governor had not cleared them. Last year, the Election Commission had rejected a petition by the MLAs to drop the office of profit case. One of the 21 MLAs had resigned last year. 1 COMMENTS"Kejriwal has no right to continue. Half of his cabinet ministers removed on corruption charges! 20 MLAs who were enjoying ministerial perks would be disqualified! Where is Lokpal? The MLAs and Ministers enjoying perks of power and foreign travel-Where is political probity,'" tweeted Congress' Delhi chief Ajay Maken, who had petitioned the Election Commission against AAP. The BJP's Vijay Jolly said he welcomed the Election Commission's decision and called it the "final nail in the coffin of the Delhi government." He added, "this should be an eye-opener for the misgovernance of the Aam Aadmi Party in the capital. They have subverted the constitutional norms of the government in the capital and misused the official machinery appointing the Parliamentary Secretaries and total disregardance of the laid down norms, rules and regulation concerning the government. Election Commission verdict is final nail in the coffin of the Delhi government and also in the tall claims of AAP and its deliverance of the Justice to people of national capital


National Bravery Awards 2018: 16 Courageous Children To Be Awarded On Republic Day
MMNN:17 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Ahead of 69th Republic Day, 16 courageous have been selected from different parts of the country to be given the National Bravery award 2018. Of the 16 children, four would be awarded posthumously. The children have been selected from 13 states, namely, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Mizoram, Karnataka, Punjab, Meghlaya, Odisha, Nagaland, Gujarat, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. The National Bravery Awards are given every year under the aegis of the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) who scrutinize the applications and select the National Bravery Award winners. The award winners will also take part in the Republic Day march
The National Bravery Awards are divided into five categories: Bharat Award Sanjay Chopra Award Geeta Chopra Award Bapu Gaidhani Award General National Bravery Awards The recipients, selected from across India, are given a medal, certificate and a cash prize. They also receive financial assistance to complete their schooling. COMMENTSLast year , 25 child received the national bravery award. Among them were two school girls who helped police bust a cross-border human trafficking racket, leading to the arrest of suspects in the cases of missing girls from both India and Nepal. Shivani Gond, 17, and Tejasweeta Pradhan, 18, were honoured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "showing exemplary courage" when acting as decoys to gain the trust of the traffickers, allowing police catch them red-handed. The first National bravery Award was presented to two children in 1958 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Among the recipient was Harish Chandra who, using his presence of mind, saved the lives of hundreds of people trapped in tent that caught fire due to a short circuit in at Delhi's Ramlila ground at the Red Fort when Mr Nehru was watching a performance. The Sanjay Chopra Award and the Geeta Chopra Award were established in 1978 in memory of two Chopra children who lost their lives while confronting their kidnappers. The Bharat Award was established in 1987 and the Bapu Gaidhani Award was established in 1988. The Sanjay and Geeta awards are given to a boy and a girl for acts of bravery.


Chief Justice Met 4 Judges, Ice Has Begun Melting, Say Sources: 10 Points
MMNN:16 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today met the four judges who had criticised him publicly, and discussed "all issues", top sources have told NDTV. "The ice has started melting," said the sources, delivering another twist in the story after Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the dispute remained unresolved. One of the main triggers of the unprecedented rift, the case related to judge BH Loya's death, was taken up today by the Supreme Court.
Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
1-The Chief Justice had a "long discussion" with Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph on issues they had raised in a press conference last week.
2-The judges will continue their discussions tomorrow, sources said, adding that "things are moving in the right direction".
3-The four judges -- who are the senior most after the Chief Justice -- have been kept out of a constitution bench announced yesterday for eight important cases. It is not clear if that will change after the talks.
4-The judges had also chatted during an informal meeting at the Supreme Court lounge, where judges usually spend some time before going to court. Later, Mr Venugopal told reporters that everything "had been settled".
5-But this morning, Mr Venugopal amended: "From what has been reported in The Hindu, I accept that the judges' conflict is not settled."
6-The Hindu newspaper quoted sources close to the four judges as denying any reconciliation and saying that there had been "no attempts so far to resolve the issues raised by the judges".
7-The judges went public against the Chief Justice after the judge Loya case was assigned to Justice Arun Mishra, who is number 10 in the Supreme Court hierarchy. Speaking to the media on Friday, they criticised the way sensitive cases were being assigned "without rationale".
8-Judge Loya died of a cardiac arrest on December 1, 2014, while attending a wedding in Nagpur. At the time, he was handling the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which BJP president Amit Shah was an accused. Mr Shah was discharged by the judge who replaced judge Loya.
9-Last weekend, judge Loya's son Anuj denied that there was anything suspicious in the death and said it was being politicised.
10-Justice Arun Mishra reportedly "broke down" at the informal meet at the lounge and complained that he had been unfairly targeted. Justice Chelameswar was seen with his arm around Justice Mishra as he was led by the Chief Justice to his chamber, reported news agency IANS


Read: Full Text Of PM Narendra Modi's Statement In Press Conference With Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
MMNN:15 January 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PM Narendra Modi today held delegation-level talks and delivered a joint statement. Later in the day, Mr Netanyahu will call on President Ram Nath Kovind. Mr Netanyahu will end the day with the India-Israel Business Summit. Following is the full text of PM Narendra Modi's statement: Your Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Members of the media, It is a great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on his first ever visit to India. Your visit, Prime Minister, is a long-anticipated moment in the journey of friendship between India and Israel. Your visit is also a fitting climax to the comemoration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel. As our first honoured guest in 2018, your visit marks a special beginning to our New Year calendar. It comes at an especially auspicious time as people all over India are rejoicing the arrival of spring, renewal, hope and harvest. The festivals of Lohri, Bihu, Makar Sankranti, and Pongal celebrate the splendour of India's diversity and unity. Friends, Last year in July, I carried the greetings and friendship of 1.25 billion Indians during my momentous journey to Israel. In return, I was overwhelmed by the generous affection and warmth of the Israeli people, led by my friend, Bibi. In that visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu and I promised each other and our people to build a strategic partnership: of hope and trust and progress of diverse and cutting-edge cooperation, and of joint endeavours and shared successes. Such a promise flows as much from the natural affinity and friendship that have linked us for centuries as it does from the compelling win-win case for engagement in almost all spheres. And it is a measure of our shared ambition and commitment that six short months after that visit; your extraordinary visit is taking place to India. Today and yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and I reviewed the progress in our relations and renewed our conversation on the possibilities and the opportunities that beckon us and need to be seized. Our discussions were wide-ranging and intensive. They were marked by the desire to do more. Prime Minister, I have a reputation of being impatient in getting results. If I may let out an open secret, I know that so are you. Last year in Tel Aviv, you had expressed the intent to cut down bureaucratic red tape with a machete and forge ahead with speed. Prime Minister, I am happy to tell you that in India, we are well on our way to doing just that. We have imparted our shared impatience to the implementation of our earlier decisions. The results are already visible on the ground. Our discussions today were marked by convergence to accelerate our engagement and to scale up our partnership. We will pursue this in three ways: - First, we will strengthen the existing pillars of cooperation in areas that touch the lives of our peoples. These are agriculture, science and technology, and security. We exchanged views on scaling up the Centers of Excellence that have been a main-stay of agricultural cooperation by bringing in advanced Israeli practices and technology. In defence, I have invited Israeli companies to take advantage of the liberalised FDI regime to make more in India with our companies. - Second, We are venturing into less explored areas of cooperation, such as oil and gas, cyber security, films, and start-ups. You will find this reflected in the agreements that were just exchanged. Several of these areas are indicative of our desire to diversify and broad-base engagement. - And third, We are committed to facilitating the flow of people and ideas between our geographies. It requires policy facilitation, infrastructure and connectivity links and fostering constituencies of support beyond Government. We are working with Israel to make it easier for our people to work and visit each other's countries, including for longer work duration. To bring people closer on both sides, an Indian Cultural Center will soon open in Israel. We have also decided to start an annual exchange of bilateral visits by 100 young people from science-related educational streams. Friends, Thriving two-way trade and investment is an integral part of our vision for a strong partnership. Prime Minister Netanyahu and I agreed on the need to do more in this direction. After the meeting in Tel Aviv last year, we will interact for the second time with our CEOs under the bilateral Forum. I welcome the large business component that Prime Minister Netanyahu has brought along with him. Prime Minister Netanyahu and I also exchanged perspectives on the regional and global situation. We reviewed our cooperation as a factor for stability and peace in our regions and the world. Friends, Yesterday, as his first stop after touching Indian soil, Prime Minister Netanyahu joined me at the re-named Teen Murti Haifa Chowk to pay homage to the memory of the brave Indian soldiers who laid down their lives a century ago in the Battle of Haifa in Israel. We are both countries that have never forgotten our history and our heroes. And we deeply appreciate this gesture by Prime Minister Netanyahu. As we look to the future of this exciting partnership with Israel, I am filled with hope and optimism. In Prime Minister Netanyahu, I have a counter-part who is equally committed to taking the India-Israel relationship to soaring new heights. Finally, I am delighted to have the chance to be with you, Prime Minister, in my home state, Gujarat, day after. There, we will have another opportunity to see the fulfillment of the promise, which our mutual cooperation holds in diverse areas such as agriculture, technology, and innovation. COMMENTSI wish Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mrs. Netanyahu and the delegation a memorable stay in India


Mumbai Chopper Crash Live Updates: 4 Bodies Recovered, Search And Rescue Operations Continue
MMNN:13 January 2018

NEW DELHI: A Pawan Hans helicopter crashed off the Mumbai coast with seven people on board, including two pilots. The helicopter lost contact with the air traffic control today shortly after take-off from Juhu Aerodrome at 10:20 AM this morning. The chopper, Dauphin N3 with registration number VT PWA, last contacted the Air Traffic Control at 10:35 AM when it was about 30 nautical miles off the Mumbai coast. Among those on board were officials from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation or ONGC who were headed for the Offshore Development Area in the north fields of Mumbai High. The Indian Coast guard has launched a search operation for the helicopter. Choppers and Immediate Support Vessels or ISVs have been deployed


Democracy At Stake, Things Not In Order: 4 Supreme Court Judges - 10 Points
MMNN:12 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Democracy in India is at stake, said four senior Supreme Court judges today as they went public with complaints against the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. The "rebel" judges - the four most-senior at the top court after the Chief Justice - said that "things are not in order" with what they described as "the administration of the Supreme Court". An independent judiciary is essential for a functioning democracy, they said. Asked if they believed the Chief Justice should be impeached, they said, "Let the nation decide."
Here are the 10 latest developments in this big story:
1-The judges have blown the lid off a growing rift with Chief Justice Dipak Misra at their news conference, the first of its kind ever held by sitting judges of the top court. "The four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country," Justice J Chelameswar said on the lawns of his residence. He is the second most-senior judge of the Supreme Court.
2-The judges said that their concerns include cases of "far-reaching consequences" being allocated without transparency. They made available a letter written by them to the Chief Justice two months ago, alleging "selective assignment of cases to preferred judges" and that "sensitive cases were being allotted to junior judges".
3-Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph said repeated attempts to alert the Chief Justice to their concerns - including a meeting with him this morning - had failed to make any progress which is why they decided to voice their complaints publicly.
4-When asked if their complaints include the case of the death of a CBI judge, BH Loya, "yes" said Justice Gogoi. He however declined to elaborate.
5-Judge Loya was hearing a case that accused BJP president Amit Shah of murder when he died in Nagpur in December 2014. His family has alleged that his death was unnatural and came after he was offered 100 crores as a bribe to rule in favour of the BJP leader. Medical records show Judge Loya died of a cardiac arrest. Within weeks of his death, Amit Shah was acquitted.
6-The Supreme Court has been asked to order an independent inquiry into Judge Loya's death. This morning, the case was assigned to a bench that does not include the four senior judges who held today's press conference.
7-The Chief Justice in December was backed by four other top judges in asserting that he is the "master of the roster" and is alone authorized to allocate cases. The four judges who met the press today said that the rules make him "only the first amongst the equals, nothing more or nothing less."
8-The public confrontation today comes amid growing calls for the judiciary to show more transparency including in how judges are selected for promotion and assignment to the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
9-The Law Ministry says that the explosive trading of charges today is being seen as "an internal matter of the judiciary" on the administration of the Supreme Court and the government sees no reason for it to intervene.
10-In December, the Chief Justice was accused by some lawyers of inappropriately involving himself in hearing a case that alleges judicial corruption even though he was involved in earlier hearings of a linked matter - about whether bribes were paid by a medical college to reverse its blacklisting by the government.


Arvind Kejriwal To Address Rally In Maharashtra Tomorrow On Rajmata Jijau Jayanti
MMNN:11 January 2018

MUMBAI: Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal will address a rally at the birthplace of Jijabai, mother of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji, in Maharashtra tomorrow. Mr Kejriwal will address the rally at Sindkhed Raja in Buldhana district, and pay tribute to the matriarch on her birth anniversary, party sources said. Every year, lakhs of people, mostly from the politically dominant Maratha community, gather at the place to pay their respects to Rajmata Jijabai. Police had initially denied permission for the rally citing law and order issues, but the rally, scheduled for tomorrow morning, will be held as planned after AAP leaders took up the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and senior police officials, sources said. After the permission was granted, Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted in Marathi saying, "On the occasion of Rajmata Jijau Jayanti on January 12, I am coming to Sindkhed Raja to have a dialogue with the people of Maharashtra." Marathas, who comprise approximately 32 per cent of the state's population, had taken to the streets last year, demanding reservations in education and job sectors. The choice of the venue also underlines the agenda of the party, particularly in the backdrop of the recent turmoil in Maharashtra, where Marathas were pitted against Dalits after the Bhima-Koregaon violence. Mr Kejriwal is expected to induct Brigadier (Retd.) Sudhir Sawant, a former Congress MP from Konkan region, into the party, at the rally tomorrow, AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon said. Brig (retd.) Sawant is a Maratha. COMMENTSHowever, the AAP spokesperson said her party does not believe in wooing the Maratha community or any other community. "We do not believe in the politics of caste," she added. "We chose this venue because we believe in the values of Jijabai which she imbibed in Shivaji Maharaj," she said


New Team To Look Into 186 Anti-Sikh Riots Cases, Says Supreme Court
MMNN:10 January 2018

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe 186 cases relating to the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. This comes after a supervisory panel appointed by the court submitted a report that 186 cases were closed without a probe. Last year, the top court had formed a body comprising two of its former judges -- Justices JM Panchal and KSP Radhakrishnan -- to look into 293 cases. S Gurlad Singh Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, had moved court demanding that a special probe team be set up. He had argued that neither has the probe been completed by an earlier probe team in any of these cases, nor any chargesheet filed. COMMENTSAn SIT was formed by the Narendra Modi government in 2015 after a special committee appointed by the centre recommended such a move to examine anti-Sikh riots case pending since 1984. The team was headed by IPS officer Pramod Asthana and had ex-district judge Rakesh Kapoor and additional DCP Kumar Gyanesh as its members. As per today's court order, a retired high court judge, one serving and one retired IPS officer will be on the new probe team. The court will name the members tomorrow


BSP Leader Mukhtar Ansari Suffers Heart Attack In UP Jail, Hospitalised
MMNN:9 January 2018

LUCKNOW: Jailed BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari, who was lodged in Banda jail in connection with various criminal cases against him, today suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the district hospital in Banda. "I have talked to the SSP, Banda, and he told me about it (heart attack). I have sought a report from both the SP and the DM, Banda. The legislator will be provided the best treatment," Principal Secretary Home Arvind Kumar said. About reports in a section of media that Mukhtar Ansari's wife too suffered a heart attack, Mr Kumar said he cannot confirm it immediately. "I can confirm it only after I get a report from there," he said, adding that directives have been issued to provide best possible treatment to the legislator. COMMENTSThe gangster-turned-legislator Mukhtar Ansari from Mau constituency had been in various jails in the state since 2015 under various sections of the IPC.


Supreme Court To Revisit 2013 Verdict Criminalising Gay Sex: 10 Points
MMNN:8 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Whether homosexuality should be a crime in India will be reexamined by the Supreme Court, which had in 2013 restored a controversial British-era ban on gay sex. No one should have to live in fear because of their sexuality, said three Supreme Court judges including Chief Justice Dipak Misra today, asking a larger group of judges to review Section 377, the 1861 law that criminalises sexual activities "against the order of nature". Responding to a legal challenge by five high-profile petitioners who say they are living in fear of being punished, the judges said: "What is natural to one may not be natural to others
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
1-Top government sources told NDTV they would "go by the court" and not push for criminalising gay sex, commenting that decriminalisation is a global trend.
2-Gay rights activists across the country exulted over the Supreme Court ruling that said "societal morality changes from age to age. Law copes with life and accordingly change takes place".
3-The "section of people who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear", said the judges.
4-The Supreme Court also noted that "choice can't be allowed to cross the boundaries of law but the confines of law can't trample or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under Article 21, the right to life and liberty."
5-Under the law, those convicted under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code face up to 10 years in jail.
6-The top court acted on the petition by Aman Nath, the owner of Neemrana hotels, Navtej Johar, a classical dancer, celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia, former editor Sunil Mehra and restauranteur Ayesha Kapur.
7-In 2013, the Supreme Court had cancelled a Delhi high court order that had decriminalized homosexuality by overturning the outdated law and said it was the job of parliament to decide on scrapping laws.
8-That decision needs to be reconsidered because of constitutional issues, said the Supreme Court.
9-In 2009, the Delhi High Court had described Section 377 as a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. It had responded to a petition by Naz Foundation, which has fought for almost a decade for gay rights.
10-Although prosecution under section 377 is not common, gay activists say the police use the law to harass and intimidate members of their community.


Lalu Yadav Sentenced To 3.5 Years In Jail In Fodder Scam: 10 Updates
MMNN:6 January 2018

RANCHI: Bihar's veteran politician Lalu Yadav, who was convicted in a second case of fodder scam -- involving the embezzlement of more than Rs. 84.5 lakh in government funds -- was given three-and-a-half-year's jail term and a fine of Rs. 5 lakh by a special court in Bihar today. In Patna, Lalu's son Tejashwi Yadav, who held an emergency meeting to discuss the party's strategy, said, "The judiciary performed its duty. We will go to the High Court after studying the sentence and apply for a bail". The former Chief Minister, who was in Ranchi's Birsa Munda Jail, received his sentence through video-conference.
Here are the top 10 updates in this bog story:
1-Lalu Yadav was convicted on December 23 for criminal conspiracy, forgery, use of forged documents and under the prevention of corruption act, sources said. This case relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs. 84.5 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury between 1990 and 1994.
2-The sentencing, which was expected last week, had been deferred twice. On Wednesday, the judge said they would proceed with the arguments on the sentencing in an alphabetical order.
3-At the emergency meeting of the party today, Tejashwi Yadav said the people were with Lalu Yadav. "He was chosen (by the people of Bihar in an election) and he's in jail," said the former Deputy Chief Minister in the Grand Alliance government. Last year, Nitish Kumar dissolved his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress and partnered with the BJP instead.
4-Taking a dig at the BJP, Tejashwi Yadav said, "those who had not been elected is now in government... Amit Shah was scared of Lalu-ji".
5-Lalu Yadav has said his conviction was a fallout of political vengeance. After his conviction, he tweeted: "Truth can be made to appear as a lie, as ambiguous or a half lie by concerted onslaught of bias driven propaganda. But blurred layer of bias and hatred will still be removed, come what may! In end Truth will win."
6-The fodder scam involved the embezzlement of more than Rs. 970 crore in government funds in the 1990s during Lalu Yadav's term as the Chief Minister of undivided Bihar from 1990 to 1997. He has been accused in five cases of fodder scam and convicted in two.
7-Four years ago, Lalu Yadav was convicted in the first case of fodder scam and was given a five-year jail term. After being in jail for two months, he got bail from the Supreme Court.
8-The court had acquitted another former Bihar Chief Minister, Jagannath Mishra, and five others in the case. There were initially 34 accused, of whom 11 died during the trial. One admitted to the crime and turned approver. The other 15 people convicted include three former IAS officials.
9-With ally Hemant Soren as Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Lalu Yadav was given VIP treatment during his last jail stint in 2013. A guesthouse had been converted into a jail for him and even the chief Minister came to meet him there.
10-The state has a BJP government now with Raghubar Das as chief minister, who has ignored Mr Yadav's request that he be allowed more visitors as he is a political leader. He has, however, been allowed a cook for his special diet and has access to a television and newspapers.


PM Modi Reaches Out To Manmohan Singh, With A Warm Handshake
MMNN:5 January 2018

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh greeted each other and shook hands in the Rajya Sabha after the winter session of parliament ended on Friday. The show of cordiality comes weeks after PM Modi, in the middle of an acrid campaign for the Gujarat election last month, appeared to insinuate that Manmohan Singh had conspired with Pakistan to attempt the BJP's defeat in the state. The Congress, aided by other opposition parties, had blocked parliament for days to demand that PM Modi apologise to the former prime minister for the insinuation. "I am deeply hurt by the falsehood being spread, everyone knows my track record," Dr Manmohan had said in the video statement. PM Modi didn't apologise but the ruling party bought peace in parliament by a statement from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that the Prime Minister did not question, nor meant to question Dr Manmohan Singh's commitment to the country. As soon as Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the House sine die on Friday, PM Modi walked over to the opposition benches and reached out to the former prime minister as well, warmly shaking hands with Dr Manmohan Singh and speaking with him for a bit. There was no word on what they spoke about. But later, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar asserted that the session had gone off much better than what many people had expected. COMMENTSThe Lok Sabha did work for almost twice as much as the Rajya Sabha in terms of the number of bills passed. But the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling BJP is in a minority, did pass 9 bills, just a little short of the 13 passed by the Lok Sabha. "This is the first time this is happening," Mr Kumar said. PM Modi also shook hands with some other senior leaders too including Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien and veteran Congress leader Karan Singh, whose tenure ends before parliament reconvenes for the Budget session


No Benefit To People From Hiked Oil Prices: Congress
MMNN:4 January 2018

NEW DELHI: The Congress today accused the government of not passing on to consumers the benefits of revenue it has earned by hiking excise duty on oil products, saying it garnered over Rs. 5.5 lakh crore and should tell the people what it has done with the money. Party leader Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue in the Lok Sabha, noting that the price of crude was USD 110 per barrel in March 2014, two months before the BJP came to power, which had come down to USD 40 in June 2016. It was USD 60 yesterday, he said. He said petrol and diesel prices were not reduced in line with the falling price and instead, excise duty on diesel was hiked by 386 per cent and on petrol by 126 per cent. "You have earned Rs. 1.62 lakh crore annually and Rs. 5.50 lakh crore in total so far. No benefit has reached the people so far, while the extra revenue has gone to public exchequer," Mr Kharge said during the Zero Hour. He claimed that the government has instead reduced the benefits of welfare schemes, including those meant for Dalits. "You should tell the people under which scheme this money has been used," he demanded of the government


After Many Rejections, AAP Finds Nominees For Rajya Sabha
MMNN:3 January 2018

The Aam Aadmi Party today nominated Sanjay Singh, Sushil Gupta and N D Gupta as its Rajya Sabha nominees. While Mr Singh has been associated with the party since its inception, Sushil Gupta is a Delhi-based businessman and ND Gupta a chartered accountant. The decision was taken at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence in a meeting attended by around 56 party lawmakers. The party's highest decision making body, the Political Affairs Committee or PAC, met soon after and formally approved the decision. "Sushil Gupta has made big contributions in the education and health sectors in Delhi and Haryana. He provides free education to 15,000 children. Narayan Das Gupta is the former president of the ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountant of India)," Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said. Kumar Vishwas, who was angling for a Rajya Sabha slot, did not attend the PAC meeting although he is a member of the committee. Elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Delhi would be held on January 16. The AAP, which enjoys a brute majority in the 70-member Delhi Assembly, is set to win all three seats.


Join Congress: Hardik Patel's Offer To Sulking Nitin Patel, With A Rider
MMNN:30 December 2017

GANDHINAGAR: Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader who had fiercely campaigned against the BJP in the Gujarat elections, today attempted to exacerbate the birth pangs of the state's new government led Chief Minister Vijay Rupani who is struggling with a sulking deputy, Nitin Patel. The 61-year-old Deputy Chief Minister is learnt to be feeling slighted at his boss taking away key portfolios such as finance and urban development, and replacing them with health and education, among others. Nitin Patel hasn't spoken about his disappointment in public but he is learnt to have dropped clear hints to his close supporters that he might contemplate quitting the government too. On Saturday, Hardik Patel waded right in the middle of the political drama playing out in Gujarat around Nitin Patel. "If the BJP does not respect him, he should leave the party," the 24-year-old face of the Patidar campaign for quotas in jobs and education told reporters, according to news agency ANI. Hardik Patel also offered to get the Deputy Chief Minister a good deal from the Congress. But this offer came with a rider. "If Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel along with 10 MLAs is ready to leave BJP, then I will talk to Congress to get him a good position," Hardik said, an offer that is seen as an attempt to emphasise that the BJP did not give its most prominent Patel face a fair deal either. Nitin Patel, who first became the state's health minister back in 1995, was upgraded as a Deputy Chief Minister in 2016 when the BJP decided to drop Anandiben Patel as Chief Minister. The upgrade was meant to signal that the Patel community would continue to get a good deal from the BJP


15 die, 23 injured in Mumbai pub fire
MMNN:29 December 2017

At least 15 people, including 11 women, were killed and 23 others injured when a major fire broke out in a pub in the Kamla Mills Compound here late Thursday night, an official said. The blaze was reported around 00:30 hrs from Mojo’s Bistro, a rooftop restaurant pub in the Kamla Trade House, in Lower Parel area of south Mumbai and quickly spread to an adjacent pub and restaurant, official of BMC Disaster Control said here. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis have condoled the deaths.As per as the official, more than 12 fire tenders were rushed to fight the blaze which was finally brought under control around 06:30 hrs. While the majority of the victims are reported to have perished on the spot, the firemen could rescue ten others safely from the leaping flames. The injured have been admitted in the KEM Hospital, Bhatia Hospital, Airoli Burns Hospital, while two in Sion Hospital who suffered minor injuries were treated and discharged. Autopsies of the victims have revealed that a majority of the casualties occurred due to asphyxiation more than the burns, said Dr Avinash Supe, Dean, KEM Hospital. The entire pub and the surrounding complex was full of patrons, including several women and tourists, thronging the fashionable area to unwind. Mumbai Police has booked the owner of the pub for negligence, culpable homicide not amounting to murder and other charges for the fire, preliminarily suspected to be triggered by an electric short-circuit. There are many major corporates, TV-Radio-print media offices, more than three dozen high-end restaurants, pubs, etc, which suffered damage in the fire in the posh Kamla Mills Complex whose working is likely to be affected Friday. The blaze comes as a huge setback to the government’s recent plans to make nightlife attractive by permitting all shops/malls to function round-the-clock, to generate more employment. Barely nine days ago, the state government had notified the amendments, though it was not made applicable to bars, pubs, discotheques and wine shops.However, these were expected to come under the ambit of the new laws in due course, with the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation recently initiating measures in this direction. Blaming the BMC for the fire, Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said that stringent action should be initiated against those responsible for allowing the eateries to function despite rules being flouted. BJP MP Kirit Somaiya also attacked the Shiv Sena-controlled BMC for lapses on its part which led to the fire and demanded a complete fire-audit of all buildings in the city immediately.
KEM hospital identified the victims as –
Jeet (49), Preeti (36), Tejal (4) Khushboo Bansal (28), Pramila (6) Vishva- (23), Veena (28), Kavita (36), Paroli (30), Dhairya (26), Manisha (30), Yash (27), Shefali, Kinjal and Manisha. The majority of those killed were women attending a birthday party at a rooftop restaurant, police said. Twenty-eight-year-old woman Khushboo celebrating her birthday was among those who died.


Triple Talaq And Other Forms Of Muslim Divorce Explained
MMNN:28 December 2017

NEW DELHI: Instant "Triple Talaq" or "Talaq-e-Biddat" is an Islamic practice that allows men to divorce their wives immediately by uttering the word "talaq" (divorce) thrice. The pronouncement could be oral or written, or, in recent times, delivered by electronic means - telephone, SMS, email or social media. In a landmark ruling in August, the Supreme Court had said that instant "Triple Talaq" or "Talaq-e-Biddat" was unconstitutional and violated the fundamental rights of women. A bill has been tabled in Lok Sabha today that proposes a three-year jail term and a possible fine for any Muslim man who divorces his wife through instant "Triple Talaq". This law would be applicable on the entire country except Jammu and Kashmir. Also, the proposed law will be applied to only instant "Triple Talaq" or "Talaq-e-Biddat" which is irrevocable divorce and not on "Talaq-e-Sunnat" which is a revocable divorce.
Here's an explanation on types of talaq in Islam:
Muslim Personal Law says that a talaq can either be given by the husband or by the wife. It can also be a mutual divorce.
Talaq given by husband are of following types:
"Talaq-e-Sunnat" or "Talaq-ul-Raje" is a revocable divorce that can be pronounced in Hasan or Ahsan forms. "Talaq-e-Ahsan" is the 'most proper' form of talaq in which the husband expresses divorce in single sentence - "I have divorced thee" - during the period of tuhr (when the wife is not menstruating) and then has to wait till the iddat period is over. During iddat period, which is usually three monthly periods of a woman, the man can revoke the divorce. If before the completion of iddat, the husband resumes co-habitation with his wife or says that "I have retained thee", the divorce is revoked. In case the woman is pregnant, the iddat period lasts until she gives birth. The waiting period for a woman after menopause is three months. "Talaq-e-Hasan" is the 'proper' form of talaq. In this form, three successive pronouncements of talaq are made by the husband in three successive tuhrs (when the woman is not menstruating). In case of a non-menstruating woman, its pronouncement may be made after the interval of a month or thirty days between the successive pronouncements. This form of talaq can be revoked any time before the third pronouncement. "Talaq-e-Biddat" or "Talaq-ul-Bain" (Irrevocable divorce) is instant Triple Talaq and is effective as soon as the word "Talaq" has been pronounced thrice. In this form of talaq, three pronouncements can be made during a single tuhr (when the woman is not menstruating) by saying "I divorce thee" thrice at the same instant. The other ways in which a husband can divorce the wife are Ila and Zihar. In Ila, he husband takes an oath not to have sexual intercourse with his wife. In this case, the husband does not co-habit with his wife for a period of four months and after the expiry of four months, the marriage is dissolved. In Zihar, the husband compares his wife with a woman within his prohibited relationship (like mother or sister). In this case, the wife can approach the court of law.
Divorce given by wife are of following types:
In Islam, only husbands can pronounce the talaq on his wife, and not vice versa. However, he can delegate this power to his wife or a third person by agreement - absolutely or conditionally, temporarily or permanently. This is called "Talaq-e-Tafweez, a delegated divorce. The other type of divorce by wife is called lian. If the husband levels false charges of unchastity or adultery against his wife then this amounts to character assassination and the wife has got the right to ask for divorce. This practice is called lian.
A mutual divorce:
A divorce by mutual agreement is called Mubarrat or Khula. In Mubarrat, the aversion is mutual and both sides desire separation. In this mode of divorce, the offer may be either from the side of wife or from the side of husband. When an offer Mubarrat is accepted, it becomes an irrevocable divorce and iddat is necessary. In Khula, however, wife initiates the divorce. This is effected by the return of her husband's wedding gift called Mahr.
A judicial divorce:
Before 1939, a Muslim wife had no right to seek divorce except on the ground of false charges of adultery, insanity or impotency of the husband, but then came Muslim Marriage Act. Under Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, there are several grounds in which judicial divorce can be pronounced. A woman can seek divorce in the court of law under following circumstances: If the whereabouts of the husband are not been known for a period of four years, if the husband neglects or fails to provide for her maintenance for a period of two years, is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of seven years or upwards, has failed to perform his marital obligations for a period of three years, was impotent at the time of marriage or has been insane for a period of two years or is suffering from leprosy or virulent venereal disease. The divorce can also be initiated by the wife in the Muslim court if the husband treats the wife with cruelty, even if such conduct does not amount to physical violence. The other conditions are if the wife has been given in marriage by her father or guardian before she attained 15 years of age, if the husband associates with women of evil repute or leads an infamous life or attempts to force her to lead an immoral life or disposes of her property, obstructs her in the observance of her religious practice or if he has more wives than one and does not treat her fairly


Vijay Rupani Swearing-In Ceremony LIVE: Gujarat Chief Minister Takes Oath For Second Term
MMNN:26 December 2017

GANDHINAGAR: Vijay Rupani swore in as Gujarat Chief Minister today in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and several other senior party leaders, including chief ministers of other NDA-ruled states. Mr Rupani, a confidante of BJP national chief Amit Shah, will hold the post for a second term. Mr Nitin Patel also took oath as his deputy. The BJP retained power in Gujarat for the sixth consecutive term by winning the recently-held Assembly polls with a lower margin of victory than last time.


PM Modi Asks People To Use Public Transport; Save Fuel Costs, Benefit Environment
MMNN:25 December 2017

NOIDA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today advised people to use public transport and help save fuel and costs associated with the import of petroleum. The prime minister, who launched a 12-km section of the Delhi Metro's Magenta Line connecting Noida and south Delhi said, traveling on a metro train should be a matter of pride. Speaking at a public function after flagging off the metro train, PM Modi said governments spend a lot in creating good infrastructure, which, once ready, benefits generations to come. Addressing a public meeting, Prime Minister Modi said that by 2022, when India celebrates its 75 years of Independence, the country should cut down on imported petroleum products. He said a multi-modal transportation system will ensure that the use of fuel is cut down, which will help the common man save money and also be useful for the environment. On December 24, 2002 then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a ride on the metro, Prime Minister Modi recalled. "It was a historic moment. Since then, the Metro network in NCR (National Capital Region) has expanded considerably," he said. We live in an era in which connectivity is all important, the prime minister said. "Without connectivity, life comes to a standstill. This Metro is not only for the present but also for future generations," he said. There was need to change the mindset so that people prefer using public transport than their private vehicles. He said travelling on a metro should be a "matter of pride


aa Every House to be Illuminated by Pradhan Mantri Soubhagya Yojana
Bhopal:MMNN: 24 December 2017

Minister for Public Relations, Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Narottam Mishra inaugurated Pradhan Mantri Soubhagya Yojana at Datia today. Dr. Mishra on the occasion, said that Pradhan Mantri Soubhagya Yojana has been implemented in the entire country. Electricity connection will be provided to every house under the scheme. Free electricity connections will be provided in the houses of people belonging to scheduled caste and tribe category. Other categories will get electricity connection in just Rs. 500. He further mentioned that target has been set to give electricity connections to about 30 thousand families of Datia district. Programme was presided over by the President Jila Panchayat Smt. Rajni Prajapati. Other Public Representatives were present on the occasion.
Minister Dr. Mishra Interacts with Hammals (Porters) and Traders
Public Relations Minister Dr. Mishra reached Datia mandi and met hammals and traders there. He also held discussions with the hammals and tulavatis. He deliberated with the hammals about the wheat, rice and salt being provided by the government at the rate of Re. One per k.g. besides scholarship for their children and other facilities. Moreover, Dr. Mishra held talks with the traders about the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana. President and Vice President Mandi and the traders accorded welcome to the Minister Dr. Mishra. President Jila Panchayat, President Nagar Palika and other Public Representatives were present on the occasion.


32 Killed After Bus Falls Off Bridge In Rajasthan, Driver Was 16
MMNN:23 December 2017

At least 32 people were killed and several others injured when a bus fell into the Banas river from an 100-foot high bridge in Rajasthan's Sawai Madhopur district today. The bus was ferrying passengers from Lal Soth to Sawai Madhopur, about 65 km away. It was being driven by a 16-year-old conductor who was speeding and lost control over the vehicle which fell off the bridge near Dubi. The driver, police say, was sleeping at the time. Both of them died in the accident. "There were around 50 passengers in the bus. The injured have been taken to nearby hospitals," a senior police officer said. Emergency workers equipped with steel cutters rushed to the scene of the accident to rescue those trapped inside the bus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, anguished by the tragedy, has offered his condolences to the families of the affected. Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje also tweeted that the state government has been closely monitoring the situation and rescue operations are on. Congress president Rahul Gandhi also asked the Rajasthan unit of the party to help in rescue ops. He tweeted, "Saddened by the tragedy. My condolences are with the families of the deceased. I would appeal to the state government to offer immediate help to the affected." The passengers belonged to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam. Several of them were going to offer prayers at a temple in Malarna Chour in the district, Sawai Madhopur Superintendent of Police Mamman Singh told news agency Press Trust of India. Police said the death toll may rise.


Parliament Being On And Off Not Good For Country: Venkaiah Naidu"
MMNN:22 December 2017

NEW DELHI: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today made his displeasure known about frequent adjournments during the ongoing session of Parliament, saying the House being "on and off" these days is not good for the country. Today, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day as the Congress insisted on resolving the impasse over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks against Manmohan Singh. The virtual stalling of the Rajya Sabha proceedings due to the Congress protests over PM Modi's remarks against his predecessor denied cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar his maiden attempt to speak in the House yesterday. "Parliament is in session... these days, it is on and off. It is not a good thing for the country," said Mr Naidu, who is also the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The constant endeavour, Mr Naidu said, is to make India the global economic leader by adopting a holistic approach towards inclusive economic growth, highlighting that progress must be made to achieve double-digit economic growth at the earliest. He was speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the International Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (IECC) and the Integrated Transit Corridor Development Project here. Referring to various territorial invasions in the past, the vice president said: "This country with its over 10,000-year-old civilisation has no record of attacking any country at any time because we want to live in harmony with all." "Before the invasion, 27 per cent of world GDP was from India alone. So, let us all remember that, and we must all work towards making further progress in crossing 7.5 per cent to double digit at the earliest," he added. Observing that the world economy is slowing, Mr Naidu said: "Even our powerful neighbour (in an apparent reference to China) has gone a little negative. The only economy which is moving forward is India, thanks to the reforms and thanks to the leadership of the country as well as contribution made by people in various sectors." He outlined a series of reforms such as GST, Digital India, liberalisation of foreign direct investment regime and Start Up India that have significantly improved domestic business and investment climate, which have led to huge investment inflows. Development and good governance should be the focus of everybody, including the public sector and the government, the vice president stressed. Pointing to the lack of "proper convention centres" in a country as large as India, Mr Naidu said world-class infrastructure in terms of international convention facilities is very essential to promote trade and commerce and "a growing economy like ours needs high quality venues to host events". Calling on stakeholders for speedy completion of the IECC, he said, "I hope that this project will be completed at the earliest. I would like to see that before the deadline (September 2019). The deadline that you have set for yourself should not be confined to a headline one day." He observed that such a complex was long overdue in Delhi without adding to the congestion and the IECC project will be a landmark state-of-the-art structure. He also spoke of the need for such convention centres in other cities of the country, including Smart Cities and state capitals. On the proposed decongestion plan around Pragati Maidan's redevelopment, the Vice-President asserted that the traffic interventions being implemented will not just significantly improve access to the new complex, but also benefit the public


Congress Taking 2G Judgement As A Badge Of Honour, Says Arun Jaitley"
MMNN:21 December 2017

NEW DELHI: After a Delhi court today acquitted all the 17 accused in the 2G spectrum case, including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK leader M Kanimozhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pointed out that the Supreme Court had in 2012 held that the 2G policy of the Congress-led government was "corrupt and dishonest" and cancelled all 122 licences handed by Mr Raja. A judge today said no evidence had been found against the accused. "I have no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the charges and all the accused are acquitted of the charges," said the judge. Congress leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, say the verdict proves that the charges of massive corruption against the UPA government were unfounded. Mr Jaitley scoffed that the Congress was taking today's ruling as a "badge of honour" that the 2G policy of the UPA government was honest policy. "That this was a corrupt, dishonest policy was upheld by the Supreme Court in February 2012. Each and every case of spectrum allocation was quashed by the Supreme Court as unfair and arbitrary." Mr Jaitley said a first-come-first-serve policy, with a "huge amount of arbitrariness" was followed by the UPA, intended at serving only a selective few. "The first come first served policy was converted to the first pay first served policy and a chosen few were informed about the change of policy...the favourites had their bank drafts prepared," he said. "On the basis of all this, in February 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the challenge and cancelled the policy of first come first served and the government was directed to have a fresh policy through auction," he added. Ripping into the Congress for interpreting todays acquittal as a "certificate", the Finance Minister question: "From this entire scam, who is liable? I am sure investigating agencies will have a close look at it and decide... The fact that this was a corrupt policy intended to promote corruption and there was a loss goes by the Supreme Court verdict and subsequent auctions." While cancelling all licences issued by Mr Raja, the Supreme Court had said that the licences had been allotted in "an unconstitutional and arbitrary manner." At the time, the Congress-led government had called it an indictment of the previous BJP government's legacy of allotting licenses on a first-come-first -served basis


PM In House As Congress Shouts "Apologise To Dr Sahab(Manmohan Singh)"
MMNN:20 December 2017

NEW DELHI: The curtailed winter session of parliament lost yet another day as the opposition pressed for an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his allegations that his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, had colluded with Pakistani officials to influence the Gujarat elections. The Lok Sabha -- where the Prime Minister was present today for the Question Hour -- was adjourned temporarily, the Rajya Sabha for the rest of the day, as slogan-shouting members of the opposition refused to relent. Senior Congress leaders later said they would prefer an explanation. "When did we ask for an apology? We want a clarification from the PM. Let him say he had given this allegation to win the Gujarat election and withdraw the statement," said Ghulam Nabi Azad. "We want nothing less than a discussion and an explanation why such remarks were made," added Mallikarjun Kharge. The government has made it clear that there will be no apology or explanation. Prime Minister was present at the Lok Sabha since today's Question Hour was on his office. But no work was conducted. As the Question Hour started, the members assembled in the Well of the House, shouting "Dr sahab se maafi maango" (apologise to Dr Manmohan Singh). Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the proceedings of the House till noon. In Rajya Sabha, chairman Venkaiah Naidu's repeated appeals for calm went unheeded. "This is not the way. Nobody is going to give apology. Nothing happened in the House. The statement was not made here," Mr Naidu was heard saying amid the uproar. PM Modi's accusation, made at a pre-election rally in Gujarat last week, has triggered a huge controversy. Dr Singh has made an unusually sharp rebuttal, accusing the Prime Minister of trying to win "political points" through "canards" and demanding that he apologise to the nation. That demand is being hotly pursued by the Congress in parliament. Little was done over the three days since the shortened Winter Session started. Yesterday, Mr Naidu said he had met senior leaders from both sides to try and address the problem. He said he also met Dr Singh. There was an agreement that a joint committee will be formed to find a solution. "PM Modi must either apologise to Manmohan Singh-ji or give a valid proof why he accused him in that speech. He can't carry out such calumny... Our protest will continue till we get what we want," Congress leader Rajiv Shukla later said.


Congress Lost Gujarat Election, But Defeated The BJP": Shiv Sena
MMNN:19 December 2017

NEW DELHI: The BJP victory in Gujarat has been dismissed entirely by its fractious ally, the Shiv Sena, which has issued fulsome praise for the performance of the Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi. The drop in the BJP figures, Sena said, was an indication of Gujarat's disappointment with the BJP and its development model. The nail-biting counting session yesterday eventually saw the BJP win 99 seats in the 182-member assembly -- 16 less than their figure in 2012. The Congress gained 19 seats to reach 80. "Although you see the BJP coming to power, the real winner is the Congress party. They may have lost, but have defeated the BJP," senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said. Sena has made its change of stance on Rahul Gandhi clear. It had said the Gujarat campaign saw him emerge as a leader in his own right and criticized the BJP for failing to acknowledge it. On the morning of counting, an editorial in Saamna, the Sena mouthpiece had heaped praise on the 47-year-old, who took charge of the Congress from his mother Sonia Gandhi two days ago. "When the faces of bigwigs (in the BJP) were turning grey due to fear of defeat, Rahul Gandhi was in the poll arena without bothering about the result. It is this confidence that will take Rahul forward," the editorial read. Mr Raut said the BJP victory was a "foregone conclusion" given its "22 years of rule in the state, the use of money power and deployment of 14 Chief Ministers for the campaign. But the BJP has not won the victory it expected". The Gujarat results happened "none of the dreams you (BJP) showed the state and the country were realised," Mr Raut said. The BJP, he indicated, should take lessons from Gujarat and gauge the mood of the country. "If people in Gujarat are not happy (with the BJP) today, then understand their psyche, understand what people in the country feel," he said. The Sena, which had been at odds with the BJP since forging afresh alliance after the Maharashtra assembly elections of 2014, has recently spoken of pulling out. Elections will have to be held within a year, Aaditya Thackeray, the son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray has said. The Sena boss's meetings with NCP chief Sharad Yadav and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee have already triggered speculations of a political realignment. The Saamna editorial had also taken a dig at the BJP allegations about the Congress governance. "Are those who think that nothing happened in the previous 60 years and that India progressed only in the last three years, humans or epitome of foolishness


Girl, 21, Commits Suicide After Being Allegedly Stalked by Man in UP
MMNN:16 December 2017

BANDA (UTTAR PRADESH): A 21-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh's Banda district committed suicide on Thursday evening after being allegedly harassed and stalked for days by a man from her locality. The woman's father has claimed that he went to the local police station regularly over the few days to try and register a case but the police refused to do so. Angry relatives of the girl staged a demonstration outside the district police chief's office on Friday alleging negligence by the police. The woman's family alleged that the boy was initially friends with the girl and had some of her phone conversations and a secretly recorded video, which he was threatening to make public. The girl had informed her parents about this. The family alleges that the police did not help them. "My daughter called police many times but nothing happened. I was out of town, I went to a police station on December 12 when I came back, but I was not given any answers," the girl's father said. Police, however, refuted allegations. "He was not interested in filing a case. He only wanted to know who was behind this, we had put the number under surveillance," the district police chief said adding, that the girl's brother had also shouted at her for speaking to the man, which could also have been a trigger


Cabinet Clears Bill That Proposes To Make "Triple Talaq" Criminal Offence
MMNN:15 December 2017

NEW DELHI: A bill that proposes to make the "triple talaq" a criminal offence has been cleared by the union cabinet and the government hopes to get parliament clearance for it during the short winter session that began today. In August, the Supreme Court said in a landmark ruling that the practice of Muslim men uttering "talaq" three times for an instant divorce is unconstitutional. Judges agreed with Muslim women that "triple talaq", often delivered by their husbands over Skype or WhatsApp, violates their right to equality and leaves them destitute. Despite the court's order, however, "triple talaq" still continues to be practiced, the government has said. The proposed bill, called the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, is a "priority agenda" for the government, people familiar with the matter said. Home Minister Rajnath Singh led a group of ministers to draft the bill. The government's seeking of a ban against "triple talaq" because it is derogatory and discriminatory against women has created an unlikely coalition between Muslim women and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration as they took on Muslim groups which say the state has no right to interfere in religious matters The West Bengal subcommittee of the Muslim Personal Law Board met in Kolkata yesterday and has said that the proposed bill has been drafted without consulting any Islamic scholars and amounts to an interference in the personal law of the community. The members have urged the government to initiate consultations saying it would otherwise be a "handicapped" bill that would create discord. Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the Trinamool Congress, who count on Muslim voters, have argued against a ban, and said reform should be encouraged from within the community and not imposed on it. However, they have endorsed the Supreme Court verdict. Many Muslim countries have banned "triple talaq", including Pakistan and conservative Saudi Arabia. It survived in India because religious communities are allowed to apply their own laws in personal matters such as marriage, divorce and property inheritance.


BJP Brings Up "Kissing Competition" Issue In Jharkhand Assembly
MMNN:13 December 2017

RANCHI: The BJP today raised in the Jharkhand Assembly the issue of some Jharkhand Mukti Morcha legislators organising a "kissing competition" at a village fair, claiming that hosting such an event was an "insult" to women. But the JMM launched a counterattack by raising land acquisition and domicile policy of the state government, forcing adjournment of the House twice, and subsequently for the day. Chief Minister Raghubar Das was present in the House. Two JMM MLAs - Simon Marandi and Stephen Marandi - courted controversy by organising a "kissing competition" for tribal couples during a traditional village fair in Pakur district in Santhal pargana of Jharkhand on Sunday. "It is an insult to women. Half of the population is women. JMM MLA says it is a tradition. Let there be a debate over it," BJP's chief whip Radhakrishna Kishore said after BJP MLAs Ram Kumar Pahan, Biranchi Narayan, Raj Sinha and other ruling party MLAs waved newspapers reporting the event soon after the House convened. They resumed in their seats on the request of Speaker Dinesh Oraon. However, slogan-shouting JMM MLAs trooped into the well of the House, protesting land acquisition and domicile policy of the Raghubar Das government, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House twice during the morning session. With the chaos refusing to die, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day. The "kissing competition" event has hogged the limelight for the past few days. JMM president Shibu Soren yesterday served a show-cause notice to its MLA Simon Marandi following newspaper reports about the event at Jhumaria in his Littipara constituency in Pakur district on December 10. Shibu Soren, a former chief minister of Jharkhand and JMM patriarch who hails from Santhal pargana region, directed the party MLA to reply in writing within seven days. Today was the second day of the winter session of the Jharkhand Assembly. The BJP has made a scathing attack on its rivals over the event, demanding that the two MLAs be suspended from the assembly as they had "insulted" the local culture. Simon Marandi, the organiser, has argued that the "kissing competition" was held to stop the increasing number of divorce in the tribal society. Party MLA Stephen Marandi was also present at the fair. A video of the "kissing competition" had gone viral on social media on Monday. In the video, tribal couples could be seen locked in a kiss while the crowd cheered


Rahul all set to be declared Congress President today
MMNN:11 December 2017

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is all set to become party president on Monday, stepping into the shoes of his mother Sonia Gandhi. Tomorrow is the last for withdrawal of candidature for the post of congress president. With Rahul being the only candidate in the race, the announcement of his elevation to the party’s top post is likely to be made tomorrow evening when The deadline for withdrawal of nominations ends. The Congress’s Central Election Authority chairman Mullapally Ramachandran, and CEA members Madhusudan Mistry and Bhubaneswar Kalita will announce that Mr. Gandhi’s was the only nomination for the top job tomorrow, marking his elevation to the top post. Sources, however, said that Mr Rahul Gandhi is likely to assume the reins as Congress president later in the week when he would be handed over the certificate appointing him the party president in the presence of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders. He will be stepping in the shoes of his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has been the longest-serving president of the party. The process for election for Congress president was kickstarted on December 1 with issuance of notification. December 4 was last date for filing of nominations while December 5 was the date for scrutiny. Altogether 89 nominations received in his favour were found to be valid during scrutiny. The announcement of his election as congress president will come three days ahead of voting for second phase of polling for Gujarat assembly elections.


Gujarat Election 2017: 397 'Crorepati' Candidates In Poll Fray, Congress' Pankaj Patel Richest
MMNN:9 December 2017

AHMEDABAD: Ahead of the Gujarat Election 2017, an interesting figure has come out from the analysis of election affidavits. Two NGOs have found that of the 1,828 candidates who have filed nominations this time, as many as 397 are crorepati candidates. The report also found that 1,098 nominees have passed class 12 or below. The report by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Gujarat Election Watch (GEW) also showed that there are only 118 women candidates in the poll fray this time. The Gujarat Election 2017 is a high-stake political contest where two leading parties the BJP and the Congress are battling against each other. The BJP has been in power from the last 22 years in Gujarat and the Congress aspires to break the ruling party's winning spree by wooing the voters from the Patidar community. While 198 out of the total 977 candidates of the first phase have declared assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore, 199 nominees out of the total 851 of second phase have emerged as 'crorepati' as per the analysis of their affidavits conducted by the NGOs. The report said that 131 of these 397 'crorepati' candidates have declared assets worth over Rs. 5 crore, while 124 others have shown movable and immovable assets in the range of Rs. 2 crore to Rs. 5 crore. While the ruling BJP has given tickets to 142 'crorepati' candidates, the opposition Congress has fielded 127 such nominees. The NCP has given tickets to 17 crorepati candidates, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded 13 such candidates and the BSP to five. The report said that 56 independent candidates also fall under this category. The remaining 'crorepati' candidates belong to lesser known parties or outfits. Congress candidate for Daskroi seat, Pankaj Patel has emerged as the richest candidate with declared assets worth Rs. 231.93 crore, it said. He is followed by another Congress nominee Indranil Rajyaguru of Rajkot-West seat who has declared assets worth Rs. 141.22 crore. Mr Rajyaguru is followed by BJP candidate for Botad seat Saurabh Patel, who is former Gujarat finance minister, and has declared assets worth Rs. 123.78 crore, the report said. BJP candidate and prominent businessman Dhanjibhai Patel of Wadhwan seat is in the fourth place with declared assets of Rs. 113.47 crore. Contrasting to these figures, six independent candidates have declared that they have 'zero' movable or immovable assets. As many as 13 candidates have declared that their annual income is more than Rs. 1 crore, based on the last Income Tax returns filed by them, the report stated. At educational front, the report said that as many as 1,098 nominees have either passed only 5th, 8th, 10th or 12th class. 119 candidates mentioned that they were only literate, while 23 others declared that they were illiterate. According to the report, of the 1,828 candidates, 118 were women. 658 candidates were in the age group of 25 and 40 years, 889 between ages of 41 and 60, while 193 of them were between 61 and 80. Voting for the first phase of the polls began this morning, while polling for the second phase will be held on December 14. Counting of votes for both the phases will be held on December 18.


Licence Of Delhi's Max Hospital That Declared Newborn Dead Suspended
MMNN:8 December 2017

The licence of an upscale Delhi hospital that found itself in the middle of a huge backlash after it incorrectly declared a newborn dead was suspended today. Max Hospital in Shalimar Bagh cannot take new patients for now, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said. "The negligence in the newborn death case was unacceptable," he said. On Wednesday, the baby boy found alive after being declared dead along with his still-born twin and handed over to his parents in a plastic bag last month by Max Hospital died after nearly a week of treatment. The twins were being taken for burial when a movement in one of the packages shocked the family. When the wrapping was opened, the baby boy was found breathing and squirming. The baby was taken to another hospital and placed on life support. A three-member panel asked by the Delhi government to investigate the shocking mistake has found Max Hospital guilty of not following rules while dealing with newborns. The panel reports that the hospital failed to carry out ECG tracings to check if the child was alive. Electrocardiogram tracing or ECG tracing helps evaluate heartbeats. Mr Jain said the hospital can continue the treatment of patients who were currently admitted but cannot admit new patients. Patients in the hospital can shift to a different hospital if they wish, he added. Mr Jain said last month they had issued a notice to Max Hospital Shalimar Bagh for problems in the treatment of poor patients as mandated by law. Max Hospital, facing anger and protests, had earlier sacked the two doctors in charge of the twins' case - AP Mehta and Vishal Gupta. Survival in extreme pre-term births is rare, Max Healthcare said in a statement today, expressing grief over the baby's death. The other twin, a girl, was declared still-born after birth. The well-known private hospital had told the parents that the other baby needed critical medical care and had to be kept in an incubator. "The hospital said for three days, it will cost Rs. 1 lakh each and after that, it would cost Rs. 50,000 each day, and he had to be kept for three months," a relative said. But when the parents were debating the costs, they were told that the infant had died


Gujarat Election 2017: On 'Safe' BJP Seat, CM Vijay Rupani To Face Stiff Challenge From Congress' Indranil Rajyaguru
MMNN:7 December 2017

RAJKOT: Gujarat's Rajkot-West seat has traditionally been a BJP fortress and considered safe for the ruling party, which has been representing it since 1985. This time, however, the elections in this constituency could get exciting with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani facing a challenger in Congress' Indranil Rajyaguru, the sitting MLA from Rajkot-East and the richest candidate in Gujarat election. Mr Rajguru -- who has declared assets of Rs. 141 crore, in comparison to the Chief Minister's 7.4 crore -- left his Rajkot East seat to contest against the chief minister. "I have money and I can help people," said the legislator, whom the locals have dubbed "dhankuber" -- roughly an equivalent of King Midas. Vajubhai Vala, incumbent Governor of Karnataka, had won the seat seven times for the BJP - from 1985 to 2012. Mr Vala vacated the seat for Narendra Modi in 2002 after the latter was then nominated as the chief minister. Later, when Mr Modi moved to Maninagar constituency, Mr Vala continued his undefeated run till 2012. After Mr Vala was shifted to Karnataka, Vijay Rupani won the bypoll from the seat in 2014. To rework the caste combination in party's favour, the Congress has fielded Mr Rajyaguru. Mr Rupani has to surmount the angry Patidars and the trading community, which is smarting under the impact of demonetisation and rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Rajkot West is the largest constituency in the Saurashtra region. Out of 3.15 lakh voters in the constituency which goes to poll on December 9, the number of Kadva and Leuva Patidars is the highest at 62,000, followed by Brahmins, Lohana and Jain communities. Dubbed "CM seat" by many, Rajkot West has given Gujarat three chief ministers - Keshubhai Patel, Vijay Rupani and Narendra Modi, who went on to become the Prime Minister. PM Modi had contested his first elections from this seat in 2001. The Congress is trying to direct the anger among Patidars who are angry over lack of reservation in education and government jobs. The quota agitation and Hardik Patel joining hands with Congress may dent the BJP's base among the Patidars, who till now were considered as the foundation of the BJP's support base in Gujarat. Mr Rajyaguru believes that he has won the "initial battle" against Mr Rupani by keeping him busy in the constituency since the poll schedule was announced. "I wanted to keep the chief minister busy in Rajkot-West constituency and morally I have won the initial battle as the chief minister has to visit his constituency more than once in a week," Mr Rajyaguru was quoted as saying. Mr Rupani, however, remains unfazed and is confident of his victory. "I will win the seat easily,"Mr Rupani had told PTI in an interview recently, citing the work done by him in his constituency, especially bringing the Narmada river water to Rajkot. "As the CM, he has done well and because of his tireless efforts, Rajkot could get the Narmada water in less than five years of the project announced by then chief minister Narendra Modiji," BJP's Saurashtra and Kutch spokesperson Raju Dhruv said. The 182-member Gujarat Assembly will go to the polls in two phases -- on December 9 and 14 -- and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 18.


'Why Link Ram Mandir And Elections', Says PM Modi In Sharp Attack On Congress: 10 Points
MMNN:6 December 2017

DHANDHUKA, GUJARAT: After BJP chief Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today attacked the Congress over its leader Kapil Sibal's plea in the Supreme Court to defer hearing in the Ayodhya case till after the 2019 parliamentary elections. The Prime Minister said that while he has "no problems with Kapil Sibal representing Muslims," he questioned his plea to postpone hearing till 2019, asking, "Why does he have to link Ram Mandir with elections. Is this thinking proper?" The row comes four days before the first phase of assembly elections in Gujarat, where the BJP has accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of visiting temples to draw Hindu votes.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet to the story:
1-PM Modi was addressing an election rally in Gujarat's Dhandhuka, when he hit out at the Congress over Mr Sibal's remarks. "Now the Congress links the Ram Mandir with elections. They are least bothered about the nation," he said.
2-25 years ago today, the 16th century Babri mosque was demolished in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, by Hindu karsevaks or volunteers who claimed that it was built where a temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram had stood. The Supreme Court is hearing the claims of Hindu and Muslims to the disputed site.
3-Kapil Sibal, who is also a lawyer, was representing the Sunni Waqf Board in the Supreme Court on Tuesday when he requested judges to postpone hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute till after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, arguing that the BJP has said "the Ram temple will be built before 2019 through legal means... They want to make it part of their election manifesto and the court should not fall into the trap."
4-The Supreme Court rejected his appeal and said it would begin final hearings from February 8 on a batch of petitions that have challenged a 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict which divided the disputed site in three parts -- one each for Hindu group Nirmohi Akhara, the Ram Lalla or infant Lord Ram represented by the Hindu Mahasabha, and the Sunni Waqf Board which handles properties owned by Sunni Muslims.
5-All the parties have challenged the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court.
6-The Congress has distanced itself from Mr Sibal's comments, saying "who he represents in court is Kapil Sibal's personal matter. The Congress has nothing to do with it." Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also said his party's stand "has always been clear, that the Ayodhya case will be decided by Supreme Court."
7-Mr Surjewala was responding to BJP chief Amit Shah, who said the Congress and its boss Rahul Gandhi must clarify their stand on the Ram temple. The BJP, Mr Shah said, is clear it wants the dispute resolved at the soonest. "The Supreme Court should give a judgment and a grand Ram temple should be built in Ayodhya," he said.
8-Mr Shah also referred to Rahul Gandhi's frequent visits to temples during his Gujarat campaign. "On the one hand, temples are being visited ahead of elections. On the other hand, they are trying to delay hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi case. The Congress has double standards on the issue," the BJP chief alleged.
9-The BJP, whose political growth was powered by its Ram temple campaign in the 1990s, has in recent years relegated the issue to the back pages of its election manifestos. But the appointment of saffron-robed priest Yogi Adityanath as UP chief minister earlier this year was seen to indicate that the party could again bring back the Ram temple issue to the forefront of its agenda as it preps for the 2019 national election.
10-Yogi Adityanath has asserted that building a Ram temple is a key agenda, including in his campaign for the BJP in Gujarat, which votes for a new government on December 9 and 14. Votes will be counted on December 18. The BJP has ruled the state for the last 22 years.


Staff Of Another Kolkata School Arrested For Alleged Sex Abuse Of 3-Year-Old
MMNN:5 December 2017

KOLKATA: Protests by parents in Kolkata continued as the staff member of another school was arrested last night in connection with the sexual assault on another student. Manoj, the staff member of MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School, had allegedly sexually abused a three-year-old child twice -- in June and September. The parents had lodged a complaint with the police in September, but the arrest was made only after parents of other students held demonstrations following the rape of a four-year-old in G D Birla Centre for Education. The principal of G D Birla Centre for Education is being questioned by the police since morning after the parents of the four-year-old filed a complaint with the police alleging that she had revealed the identity of their daughter in violation of law. In a letter sent to nearly 4,000 parents of the school, principal S Nath jad named the student. The issue concerning [name of the child] is under investigation by the police," read the letter, which has shocked the parents. "This is unethical and illegal," said a parent who got the letter. "The naming of the girl demonstrates how callous the school is about the whole thing," said another parent. The school's communication came after two of its teachers were arrested for the assault and it was shut down indefinitely. But lawyers say the principal's letter further exposes the school's callousness towards its students. The letter, they said, violates every legal norm and the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which prohibits naming of minor sexual assault survivors. Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, the chief of the child rights body in the state, said it would showcause Ms Nath for identifying the girl. "This is absolutely illegal. She cannot name the child. We will show cause the Principal for violating the POCSO Act. How can she do it? She has violated the basic tenets of humanity," she was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India. The father of the student in GD Birla has demanded the resignation and arrest of the principal. Otherwise, he said activists would march to Lalbazaar, the police headquarters. He has also threatened to sue GD Birla, the corporate group that runs four schools in Kolkata and has several other business interests


Vijay Mallay's Extradition Trial Begins In London Court After Fire Alarm Hiccup
MMNN:4 December 2017

LONDON: Tycoon Vijay Mallya appeared before a court in London today that will decide whether he would be extradited to India to stand trial for fraud and money laundering. The 61-year-old, who arrived with a team carrying four large boxes of evidence, stuck to his "not guilty" stance. The hearing for the liquor baron's extradition will take place over eight days and continue till December 14, after which the date for the verdict will be announced. Ahead of the hearing at the Westminister court, Mr Mallya told reporters, "I have said repeatedly that the charges are false, fabricated and baseless. I have nothing to say, submissions in court will be self-evident". The 61-year-old, who has been out on a 650,000-pound bail bond following his arrest by Scotland Yard in April, told the reporters to "Please hear the proceedings". A four-member team from the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is pursuing the case, was at the court. The Crown Prosecution Service -- led by barrister Mark Summers -- is arguing on behalf of the Indian government. The defence team is led by barrister Clare Montgomery, known as an expert in criminal and fraud law. The opening of the trial, however, was delayed as a fire alarm went off and the courtroom had to be evacuated. Trial resumed after nearly 40 minutes. Mr Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines owes Rs. 9,000 crore to a consortium of banks. He left the country in March 2016 when the banks united to scale up their efforts to recover the money. On May 9, he was found guilty of contempt by the Supreme Court, after he was found to have sent his children millions of dollars.


BJP Set For Big Win In Uttar Pradesh Civic Elections: 10 Points
MMNN:1 December 2017

LUCKNOW: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has delivered in his first big test, with the BJP set to win mayoral elections in 14 of 16 municipal corporations in Uttar Pradesh. The state's ruling party is also leading in municipal councils and nagar panchayats. "The BJP's historic win in the UP civic polls is because of PM Modi's development policies and Amit Shah's strategies," said the Chief Minister, who conducted a turbo-charged campaign with his party's performance being watched closely after its massive sweep of the UP assembly polls in March this year.
Here are the top 10 updates on UP civic polls:
1The BJP's candidates for mayor are leading in state capital Lucknow, Moradabad, Ghaziabad, Chief Minister Adityanath's home town Gorakhpur and ten other municipalities. The BSP is leading in two, up from the one municipality that an Independent backed by the party won last time.
2Lucknow looks set to get its first woman mayor in the BJP's Sanyukta Bhatia, who said this morning, "I don't consider anyone my competitor. I will be number one, no matter who is second or third."
3In 2012, the BJP had won 10 of 12 municipal corporations, one each were won by Independents backed by the SP and BSP. There are four new municipalities this time, Ayodhya, Saharanpur, Firozabad and Mathura.
4The BJP is also leading in Ayodhya-Faizabad. Chief Minister Adityanath began his campaign with a rally in Ayodhya, which, along with twin city Faizabad, has just been upgraded to a municipal corporation. The 45-year-old Chief Minister addressed 26 rallies, travelling to all 16 districts where civic elections were held.
5The BJP is leading in most of the 198 municipal councils and 428 nagar panchayats or notified area councils with the Samajwadi Party in second place. Independents backed by the Samajwadi Party and the BSP had won a majority of these in the last elections, with the BJP trailing.
6This time, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, crushed in the assembly elections, contested on their symbols, but in sharp contrast to Yogi Adityanath's high-powered campaign, neither Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav, nor Mayawati campaigned.
7Yogi Adityanath asked voters to support the BJP just the way they did in the 2014 national election and this year's assembly election. The party swept both, winning 73 of the state's 80 parliament seats three years ago and over 300 of 400 seats in the assembly elections.
8The Chief Minister has to both thank his party and prove his worth with a big win. After the BJP's humongous win in March, party leaders unexpectedly picked the saffron-robed priest-politician over several front-runners for the top post.
9A powerful local leader in eastern UP and the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple in his home town Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath served as a BJP lawmaker for 19 years and is leading the party in an election across the state for the first time ever.
10The Samajwadi Party, which lost power in UP to the BJP in March, has accused the ruling party of "misusing government machinery to fix the elections" alleging that it tried to rig electronic voting machines. The BJP has called the allegations baseless.


Aadhaar To Work As Big Weapon Against Benami Property: PM Modi
MMNN:30 November 2017

NEW DELHI: Noting that Aadhaar is helping in bringing about an "irreversible change" in the interest of the people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Unique Identification Number will work as a "big weapon" in the fight against benami property too. Aadhaar has a played a "big role" in ensuring that ration at proper rates, scholarships, pension and government subsidies reached the poor, he said. The Prime Minister made the remarks at the inaugural session of the 'Hindustan Times Leadership Summit - 2017' in New Delhi. "Linking Aadhaar with mobile and Jan Dhan accounts have evolved such a system which was not even thought of till some years ago -- a system which is irreversible," PM Modi said. "Earlier, pension money was distributed in crores of fake accounts. All that has been addressed with the help of Aadhaar in the last three years," he said. PM Modi said Aadhaar will now be used against benami property. "It is going to be a big weapon (in the fight against benami property)," he said. Referring to the notes ban, he said it had brought about a "behavioural change" in the country. Corrupt people, for the first time after Independence, were scared of making illicit money, he said. "The day the country will have a technical and digital address for all monetary transactions, organised corruption will be checked to a great extent," he said. Black money coming into the banking system had also brought along with it massive data, a "treasure trove" that would enable the government take action against wrong-doers, he said, adding that ill-gotten wealth earlier funding a parallel economy was now a part of the formal economy. Recently, Union Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had reportedly said that property transactions would be linked to Aadhaar to eliminate black money from the real estate sector and help in addressing the issue of benami property.


Hardik Patel's Show of Strength 30 km Away From PM Modi Rally In Gujarat
MMNN:29 November 2017

MORBI, GUJARAT: Hardik Patel has tweeted photos to show the kind of crowd he mobilised at a public rally today in Morbi, about 30 km away from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was campaigning in the same district in the heart of Gujarat's Saurashtra for next month's assembly elections. "This crowd of thousands at a public meeting to discuss reservation and farmers' issues in Morbi district is encouraging," tweeted the 24-year-old, who led the massive Patel agitation for reservation against PM Modi's party, the BJP. Hardik Patel strategically timed his Morbi tour to coincide with the Prime Minister's rally. A comparison of the audiences the two rallies drew was expected after reports of a sub-par turnout for the Prime Minister's public meetings in Saurashtra on Monday. Morbi, a town famous for ceramic tiles and seen as an influencer for surrounding areas, has voted for the BJP for two decades. But it also has a significant Patel population and was one of the epicentres of the community's agitation for reservation in government jobs and colleges in 2015. Hardik Patel, who was jailed for sedition during the agitation and was exiled on court orders from Gujarat for six months, is too young to contest elections. But he has vowed to ensure the BJP's defeat, accusing the party of betraying the Patels, loyal to it for years, by not including them among castes that benefit from affirmative action. He is asking his community to vote for the Congress in the assembly elections after assessing as satisfactory, the party's formula for reservation for Patels if it comes to power. PM Modi told a capacity crowd today that "in good times and bad, we have stood with Morbi," which he said was not true of the Congress. Morbi, he said, was typical of the Gujarat model that he is credited with developing when he was the state's Chief Minister. Indira Gandhi of the Congress, the PM said, "held a handkerchief to her nose against a foul smell when she came to Morbi." Morbi district has three of Gujarat's 182 assembly seats. In 2012, when then Chief Minister Modi led his party to yet another victory in Gujarat, the BJP had won two seats in Morbi and the Congress one. But in panchayat or rural body elections held in 2015, the Congress won most seats in worry for the BJP. Morbi is filled with small traders who have traditionally not just voted for the BJP, but have also funded the party. Congress vice president Rahul Ganhdi has been urging the traders to punish the BJP for a chaotic roll-out of new national tax GST, which he has alleged has brought small businesses to their knees. Rahul Gandhi too is in Saurashtra today and will address three rallies. PM Modi is addressing three in Saurashtra and one in south Gujarat.


Hafiz Saeed Files Petition In UN Seeking Removal Of His Name From Terror List
MMNN:28 November 2017

LAHORE: Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed has filed a petition in the UN seeking removal of his name from the list of designated terrorists on the ground that none of the allegations against him - either related to terrorism or otherwise - has been proved in the Pakistani courts. The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head, who carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, walked free on Friday after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under house arrest since January this year. Lahore-based law firm - Mirza and Mirza Law Associates - has filed the petition on behalf of Saeed in the UN. Supreme Court Advocate Navid Rasul Mirza, the owner of this law firm, told PTI today that his law firm had recently filed the petition in the UN. "My law firm has filed the petition on Hafiz Saeed's behalf at the UN seeking removal of his name from its list of designated terrorists. My son Haider Rasul who is director of this firm is looking after this case," he said. Saeed, who is accused of having masterminded the November 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, was placed on the terrorism black list by the United Nations under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008. To a question about any progress in the case so far, Mr Mirza said: "We have just filed the petition." Mr Mirza was Additional Advocate General of Punjab Government (1993-1996) and Prosecutor General for the National Accountability Bureau, a government anti-graft body (2000-03). This is the first time that Saeed has hired a law firm other than that of his permanent counsel Advocate AK Dogar. "In Pakistan, all cases of the JuD chief are being handled by Dogar. This firm to pursue his case in the UN has been hired in consultation with Dogar," a Jamaat-ud-Dawah office-bearer told PTI. The office-bearer said Saeed has decided to challenge the UN's decision on the basis of different court decisions since 2009 in which no allegation - either related to terrorism or otherwise - has been proved in the Pakistani courts. He said the UN's decision to place Saeed's name on the list of terrorists had caused harm to his reputation as it appeared that this had been done on international pressure. "We have enough ground to fight our case in the UN. The UN should take up our petition and remove Hafiz Saeed's name from the designated terrorists list," he said. LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was also placed on the terrorism black list along with Saeed. According to the UNSC's sanctions committee, the LeT leaders were "subject to the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo," set out in Security Council resolution 1822. The UNSC website says: "Saeed is proscribed for being associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al-Qaeda for participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts of activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of both entities." India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attack case and also demanded trial of Saeed and Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Islamabad. A Lahore High Court's Judicial Review Board last week unanimously ordered Saeed's release after the Punjab government failed to provide any evidence related to terrorism or otherwise before it. After his release, Saeed said the US, on India's request, pressured Pakistan to detain him. "I was detained on the pressure of the US on the Pakistani government. The US did so on the request of India," he claimed. India had expressed outrage over the decision of the judicial board to release Saeed, calling it an attempt by Pakistan to mainstream proscribed terrorists and a reflection of its continuing support to non-state actors. The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned LeT which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai terror attack in 2008. Saeed was put under house arrest after the Mumbai attack in November 2008 but he was freed by a court in 2009. Nine of the Mumbai attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and executed after a trial.


Request Congress Not To Mock My Poor Origins,' Says PM Narendra Modi In Scathing Attack
MMNN:27 November 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested the Congress "not to mock my poor origins," extending his scathing attack on the opposition party and its leader Rahul Gandhi from one rally in Gujarat to another, as he begins a campaign blitz his home state, which votes early next month for a new government. "The Congress dislikes me because of my poor origins. Can a party stoop so low? Yes, a person belonging to a poor family has become PM. They do not fail to hide their contempt for this fact. Yes, I sold tea but I did not sell the nation," PM Modi said in Rajkot, adding, "I request the Congress not to mock the poor and my poor origins." The PM's comments referred to the latest controversy the Congress landed itself in last week, when the party's youth wing mocked the Prime Minister as a "chai-wala" in a meme it later deleted, but not quickly enough. The BJP has since resurrected its "chai" campaign strategy that it had successfully deployed ahead of the 2014 general election, highlighting the Prime Minister's childhood when he sold tea at railway stations to stress that he is a self-made leader in contrast to the Gandhis' dynastic control of the Congress. The chai campaign was constructed as a result of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar infamously deriding Mr Modi as a tea-seller who could never become Prime Minister The BJP has said the repeated attacks on the PM over his humble origins exemplify the Congress' elitist mindset and that an enraged public will punish it by ensuring the BJP sweeps the Gujarat election. Gujarat, the Prime Minster, said at his first rally in Bhuj today, will not forgive the Congress for making "baseless allegations against the son of the soil," as he pitched the election as a battle between "vikas(development)" and "vanshwaad (dynasty)," in an attack on Rahul Gandhi, who is set to take over from his mother Sonia Gandhi as Congress president before Gujarat votes. "When Keshubhai Patel, a son of Saurashtra became the CM the Congress tried everything to dislodge him. They repeated the same disruptive tactic with Anandiben Patel, a daughter of the Patel Community. Congress has defamed Gujarat always," the Prime Minister said, also accusing the opposition party of learning from the Aam Aadmi Party "whose style is to keep abusing and running away. I thought the Congress, being an older party would not indulge in such politics but they have also taken this short cut in the past two months and only hurled abuses and lies


Rahul Trains Guns On Modi Over Rafale Deal, Jay Shah Issue
MMNN:25 November 2017

DAHEGAM (GUJARAT): Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi in poll-bound Gujarat today and alleged that the latter did not want the "truth" behind the multi-crore Rafale deal and Jay Shah issue to come out before the Assembly election in his home state. He also alleged that the NDA government was delaying the Winter Session of Parliament as Modi was not ready to discuss the Rafale and Jay Shah issues in the House before the Gujarat polls. "I would ask Modiji three questions (on the Rafale deal). First, is there a difference in the cost of planes in the first and the second contract (signed with a French firm) and did India pay more or less money as per the second contract? "And, has the industrialist (whose company has formed a joint venture with the French firm), who was given the contract, ever manufactured planes?," he asked while addressing a public gathering here in Gandhinagar district. The Congress leader also sought to know if the due procedure was followed while inking the deal with France last year to procure the Rafale fighter jets. "And a more important question, did you follow the due government procedure? Why the (then) defence minister was seen catching fish in Goa? And, was an approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security taken (for the mega deal)?," he asked. Gandhi alleged that the prime minister was avoiding answering these questions due to the fear that the "truth" would come out before the crucial polls in his home state. "Narendra Modiji is not replying to these questions because he wants that the truth of Rafale and Jay Shah should not come before the public ahead of the Gujarat elections," he said. "Rafale is a matter related to the Indian Air Force, national security, martyrs. Modiji will have to answer these questions before the people of the country and Gujarat," he said. The 47-year-old Amethi MP said while the mediapersons asked him a lot of questions, they did not do the same with the prime minister over the Rafale and Jay Shah issues. "Modiji will make many tours of Gujarat. Press reporters ask me various questions. Why don't you ask Modi about the Rafale deal and Jay Shah? The people should also ask Modiji about Rafale and Jay Shah when he comes to Gujarat," he said. The prime minister is scheduled to address a series of poll rallies in Gujarat in support of the BJP candidates next week. The 182-member Gujarat Assembly will go to the polls in two phases -- on December 9 and 14. Counting of votes will be taken up on December 18. "Generally, Parliament's (Winter) session is held every year in November and discussions (on crucial issues) take place in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. But, due to two reasons, Parliament is opening after the Gujarat polls this time. "First, (BJP chief) Amit Shah's son (Jay) converted Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 80 crore in three months. Second, and a more important reason, is the Rafale deal. The entire procedure went on for the purchase of the planes and after all the discussions were over, Narendra Modi himself went to France to change the contract," he alleged. In September last year, India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs. 58,000 crore. The Congress had recently raised questions over the deal and accused the Modi-led BJP government of compromising on national interest and security while promoting "crony capitalism" and causing a loss to the public exchequer. However, the BJP had rubbished the allegations. In an article published on news portal The Wire, it was alleged that the turnover of a company owned by Jay Shah grew exponentially from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 8 crore after the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014. Both Amit Shah and his son have denied any wrongdoing by the company. Jay Shah has filed a criminal defamation case against the news portal


Bilkis Bano Case: Gujarat Government Given Time To Explain Action Against Cops
MMNN:24 November 2017

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today granted six weeks time to the Gujarat government for apprising it on whether any disciplinary action has been initiated against policemen convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gang-rape case. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, considered the submission of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the state government, that some more time be given to get instruction on the authorities concerned in the case. The bench listed the plea for hearing in the first week of January. The bench, however, made it clear that the separate plea, seeking enhancement of compensation to be awarded to Bilkis Bano, would be taken up next week for hearing. The Supreme Court had already granted time, on October 23, to the state government to apprise it whether any departmental action had been initiated or taken against police officers whose conviction was upheld in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case. The Bombay High Court had on May 4 upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the gangrape case, while setting aside the acquittal of seven people including policemen and doctors. Bilkis Bano, who was gang-raped in March, 2002, while she was pregnant, lost seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning incident. The bench had convicted seven persons, including five policemen and two doctors, for not performing their duties (sections 218) and tampering of evidence (section 201) under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The convicted policemen and doctors are Narpat Singh, Idris Abdul Saiyed, Bikabhai Patel, Ramsingh Bhabhor, Sombhai Gori, Arun Kumar Prasad (doctor) and Sangeeta Kumar Prasad (doctor). A special court had on January 21, 2008, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men in the case. They later approached the Bombay High Court challenging their conviction and sought for the trial court's order to be quashed. The CBI had also filed an appeal in the high court seeking harsher punishment of death for three of the convicted on the grounds that they were the main perpetrators of the crime. According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano's family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the post-Godhra riots and seven members of her family were killed. The trial in the case began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bilkis Bano expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and CBI evidence tampered, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004


Hardik Patel-Congress Formula For Patidars Not Legally Tenable, Says BJP
MMNN:22 November 2017

AHMEDABAD: For Hardik Patel it was never about ensuring reservation for the Patidars, alleged Gujarat's deputy chief minister Nitin Patel of the BJP today, accusing the 24-year-old activist of a sell-out after he announced his support for the Congress in next month's Gujarat elections. "The people of the state have seen in the last few days that reservation was a facade and it was all about the political ambition of Hardik Patel," said the Deputy Chief Minister, who too is a Patidar and was appointed last year by the ruling BJP as number 2 in the government to signal to the powerful caste its importance for the party. On the pact between Hardik Patel's Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and the Congress on reservations, Nitin Patel said that the two were fooling the Patidar community. ''The judgements that they are quoting, one delivered by a nine-judge bench clearly states no reservation above 50 per cent. They are fooling the Patidars offering a formula which is not legally tenable,'' he said. Hardik Patel, who led a massive agitation two years ago demanding that Patels or Patidars be included in castes that get reservation in government jobs and colleges, today vowed to work with the Congress to oust the BJP as punishment for not meeting the Patels' demand. The Congress, he said, has offered a solution for how to include Patels in castes that benefit from affirmative action and will detail it prominently in its manifesto for the assembly elections, to be held on December 9 and 14, before votes are counted on December 18. Hardik Patel's announcement came after days of negotiations as the Congress attempts to cash in on the recent Patel anger with the BJP. The community, 14 per cent of Gujarat's voters, have for decades supported the BJP, which has been in power in the state for the last 22 years. Hardik said his one-point agenda is "doing my utmost to defeat the BJP." The BJP has sent out strong signals to the Patels too. Patidars make up more than a fourth of the BJP's candidate list announced so far for the assembly elections. A third of the ruling party's current legislators in Gujarat are from the community, including nine ministers. After previous chief minister Anandiben Patel was seen to mishandle the Patel agitation, the BJP effected damage control replacing her with Vijay Rupani and appointing Nitin Patel as his deputy. Nitin Patel has been meeting the different Patidar groups that have been involved in the agitation to try and address their concerns and Hardik Patel had attended such a meeting last month.


With Triple Talaq Still Taking Place, Government Ready With New Plan
MMNN:21 November 2017

A new bill to ban "triple talaq" will be presented by the government lawmakers when they meet for the next session of parliament. In August, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court said the practice of Muslim men uttering "talaq" three times for an instant divorce is unconstitutional. Muslim women say they have been left destitute by husbands divorcing them through "triple talaq", including by Skype and WhatsApp. Judges agreed that it violates their right to equality and abolished the practice. Government sources said that despite the ban, triple talaq is still in effect; they pointed to the recent controversy over a professor from the famous Aligarh Muslim University or AMU who has been accused by his wife of divorcing her by text. The winter session of parliament has not been scheduled yet because Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top ministers are busy campaigning in Gujarat, which votes next month. Amid fierce criticism from the opposition which has alleged "sabotage" by the PM in delaying the winter session, which usually begins in November, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said yesterday that the dates for it would be finalised shortly. The government's seeking of a ban against triple talaq because it was derogatory and discriminatory against women created an unlikely coalition between Muslim woman and PM Modi's administration as they took on Muslim groups which say the state has no right to interfere in religious matters. Parties like Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the Trinamool Congress, who count on Muslim voters, argued against a ban, and said reform should be encouraged from within the community and not imposed on it. However, they later endorsed the Supreme Court verdict. Many Muslim countries have banned triple talaq, including Pakistan and conservative Saudi Arabia. It survived in India because religious communities are allowed to apply their own laws in personal matters such as marriage, divorce and property inheritance.


Veteran Congress Leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, In Coma Since 2008, Dies At 72
MMNN:20 November 2017

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader and former union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, in coma since 2008, died at a hospital in Delhi today. He was 72. Mr Dasmunsi had been critically ill over the past month, according to the Apollo hospital, and died at 12.10 pm, in the presence of his wife Deepa Dasmunsi and their son. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and and former president Pranab Mukherjee were among those who expressed grief at Mr Dasmunsi's death. "Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi was a popular leader with rich political and administrative experience. He did notable work to popularise football in India. Saddened by his demise," tweeted PM Modi. Sonia Gandhi called his death an irreparable loss to the Congress and described him as a "devout political activist and one of the tallest leaders of Bengal". The former union minister fell into a coma after suffering a massive stroke that left him paralysed and unable to speak. One of the Congress's most popular leaders in West Bengal, Mr Dasmunsi enjoyed a good rapport with leaders across the political spectrum. He was union Parliamentary Affairs Minister when he went into coma. The blood supply to a part of his brain was cut off, which caused irreversible damage, according to doctors. The politician was on life support for over a decade. His family even took him to Germany for treatment. Over the years, his wife became active in Congress politics. Deepa Dasmunsi was also a union minister in the Congress-led UPA government. Former president Pranab Mukherjee, who worked with Mr Dasmunsi in the Congress government, said: "Deeply saddened at the passing away of Shri Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi. His loss will be felt forever. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends." In 2006, Mr Dasmunsi was the first Indian to be a match commissioner in a FIFA World Cup game between Australia and Croatia. He was heading the Indian football governing body at the time of his stroke in 2008, which led to Praful Patel taking over as president.


Ram Temple-Babri Masjid Case: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Meets Muslim Leaders In Lucknow
MMNN:17 November 2017

LUCKNOW: All issues can be resolved through dialogue, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said in Lucknow today after meeting Muslim leaders as part of his efforts to mediate a solution to the protracted Ram temple-Babri Masjid dispute. Ravi Shankar, who was in Ayodhya yesterday and met various leaders across the religious spectrum, said he respected the courts but they cannot connect hearts. "Even after 100 years, the judgements of courts will remain but if we find a solution through our hearts it will be recognised through the ages," Ravi Shankar told reporters after meeting the rector of the Farangi Mahal Islamic Centre of India, Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangimahli, and other community leaders. Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangimahli is also a senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board or AIMPLB. "We accept that it is a little late for such efforts but we want that the issue should be resolved soon," Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said. "I am confident we will achieve something big for the country through this," he added. According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a new message of brotherhood needs to be taken forward. Asked if his efforts are aimed at a settlement before the court decision on the issue or even after that, he said, "We are not leaving any possibility... we are not working on an agenda but trying to find a way." The Art of Living founder asked for time and said there was no hurry, religious heads would come together and talk. Giving his take on the talks, Maulana Farangimahli said differences will be removed if leaders of both sides sit together and talk regularly. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar yesterday met Dinendra Das of the Nirmohi Akhara as well as Muslim intellectuals in Ayodhya and Faizabad. His efforts to mediate have found favour only with a section of both communities with major parties, including the AIMPLB and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, expressing their reservations. A day before visiting Ayodhya, he had met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow and said he wanted "unity and amity.




BJP Leader Shiv Kumar, Security Guard Shot Dead In Greater Noida
MMNN:16 November 2017

A BJP leader and his security guard were shot dead by attackers in bikes in Greater Noida near Delhi this evening. Shiv Kumar was in his Toyota Fortuner car when the bikers reportedly drove up and fired shots at the car in the Bisrakh area. The BJP leader died instantly. Apart from a security guard who was also killed, there were two more in the car.




Will Help Arvind Kejriwal To Prevent Smog Crisis In 2018, Says Haryana
MMNN:15 November 2017

One down, another to go. Haryana has pledged its assistance to Delhi in fighting the toxic smog that has covered the city for over a week, leading doctors to declare a public health crisis. Punjab, the other state whose actions impact the filthy air, has so far ignored Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's entreaty for a meeting to discuss possible solutions. Mr Kejriwal met this morning with his counterpart from Haryana, ML Khattar, who is from the BJP, to toss around ideas on how to protect Delhi in the future from the sort of filthy air that has left residents complaining of headaches, watering eyes and dizziness, and forced the shutdown of all schools last week. The two leaders said in a statement "We agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at predicting its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018." The levels of poisonous airborne particles, known as PM 2.5, have been off the charts in Delhi, often crossing 500. How dangerous is that? The upper limit of "good" quality air is 50. "We accept that pollution in Delhi is a concern for the whole country...it is the national capital," acknowledged Mr Khattar who has recently accused Mr Kejriwal of trying to "politicize" the issue to distract from his own government's failures in preventing the toxic smog. The Chief Ministers said they have "jointly identified action points" and are committed to "quick action on a number of fronts." The crisis is a combination of vehicular exhaust, dust from construction sites, and stubble-burning in the agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana which border Delhi. Every year, at this time, farmers set the remnants of their harvested crop on fire to prep their fields for the sowing of the winter crop. The fires send smoke streaming into Delhi Mr Kejriwal flew to Chandigarh to meet with Mr Khattar after the latter refused to make time for him during a two-day trip to Delhi at the start of the week. The Delhi leader asked to meet while in Chandigarh with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is from the Congress, but was brusquely refused. Captain Singh said a consult would be pointless as the issue of stopping farm fires needs to be resolved by either the centre or the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions that ask for its intervention in the fight against Delhi's pollution. Farmers are a substantial vote group and no party wants to risk angering them by enforcing a ban on crop burning. Mr Kejriwal has said he understands and accepts that farmers must be given financial aid if they are ordered to stop farm fires for more environment-friendly options.


Children's Day 2017: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Was A Prolific Writer. A Look At The Books Authored By Him
MMNN:14 November 2017

NEW DELHI: Children's Day is celebrated across India on November 14, the birth date of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, who was very fond of children. Children fondly call him Chacha Nehru. Mr Nehru, under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi, turned out to be a leader of India's struggle for independence. For laying the foundation of independent India as sovereign, socialist, secular and a democratic republic, he is credited as the architect of modern India. He was a prolific writer in English and wrote a number of books. His speech on the eve of India's Independence, towards midnight on 15 August 1947, is considered to be one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century.
Here's a look at the books Jawaharlal Nehru has authored:
1. The Discovery of India: Jawaharlal Nehru wrote this book while he was in jail for his participation in the Quit India movement. He wrote the book during 1942-46 and dedicated it to the prisoners who provided him a stimulating environment to pen down his thoughts and experiences of living in the country he loves. The book is a mix of personal essays and reflections and provides a broad view of Indian history, philosophy and culture, as viewed from his eyes. The book is seen as one of the finest writings on Indian history.
2. Glimpses of World History: This book is a collection of 196 letters that Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to his daughter Indira when he was in various prisons in British India between 1930-1933. The letters were meant to introduce her to world history. In the first few letters, Mr Nehru expresses his sadness for not being able to be around his daughter and give her the materialistic gifts that other parents could, but he promises to give her a gift that he could afford; in the form of knowledge and wisdom through words that come from the core of his heart. The book contains the history of humankind from 6000 BC to the time of writing of the book. He talks about the histories of every significant place ranging from Greece in the far West to China in the east. The book talks about the wars that were fought during these years and the greatest revolutions that overthrew established dynasties. He has also written about the legendary leaders and kings like Alexander the Great and Mahatma Gandhi.
3. An Autobiography, also called Towards Freedom: This book is an autobiography written by Jawaharlal Nehru during his time in the prison. In the book, he mentions about why he took the path of civil disobedience and ended up being in the prison. The book begins with anecdotes of how his ancestors had to flee Kashmir. He writes about how his life history, from even before his father was born, seems to have led him naturally to where he was. The book depicts the political realisation of an upcoming giant of a nation and the battle for its freedom. The book was published in 1936 and ran nine editions in the first year alone. 4.
Letters From A Father To His Daughter: This book was published in 1929 and has a collection of 30 letters written by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1928 to his daughter Indira Gandhi when she was 10 years old. In the letters, written in English, he is teaching her about natural history and the story of civilisations. At the time of the writing of the letters, Mr Nehru was in Allahabad, while Indira was in Mussoorie.


UP Government Spreading Hatred In Name Of Development: Akhilesh Yadav
MMNN:11 November 2017

LUCKNOW: Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav today accused the government in Uttar Pradesh of spreading hatred in the name of development, saying there was no one better than the BJP in creating a "vertical divide". The former UP chief minister also alleged that the projects of the earlier Samajwadi Party government were being inaugurated by the Yogi Adityanath government. "BJP people are very wise in instigating problems, spreading hatred, and there is no one better than them in creating a vertical divide, be it in a family or political party... you can see Gujarat, Bengal or Uttar Pradesh," Mr Yadav said at a newspaper event in Lucknow. "Who is better than them in creating a divide in the name of Hindu-Muslim or castes... People charge us for being casteist but don't call them casteists," he claimed. Mr Yadav also claimed that he had never asked for votes on the basis of caste and religion. The former chief minister also asked, "Was the UP government made for spreading hatred in the name of development. It is only the development of hatred," he alleged. On the rift within the Samajwadi Party, Yadav said that with his party losing power, the problems in his family have also come to an end. "There can be no tiff now as there is no power...when there is no power there is no tiff," Mr Yadav said. Taking a dig at the BJP government in UP, the former chief minister said that during his tenure, he had never inaugurated projects which had been inaugurated previously. "The works done by the Samajwadi Party government are being inaugurated by this government," he claimed. "If they have done anything on their own for the state, they should tell people," he said. The Samajwadi Party president, who had struck an electoral alliance with the Congress before the UP Assembly polls, also stated that his "friendship with Rahul Gandhi will continue". "I am not the one who changes friends and this fact should be clear. On the political front, we were friends and will remain as such...the alliance as it is today, will continue," he stressed. Asked about Congress not asking him to campaign in Gujarat, he said, "It does not matter...Who will stop me from going there for candidates of my party in fray." On his equation with Patidar leader of Gujarat, Hardik Patel, Mr Yadav said that though he has not been introduced to him yet but can be friends with him whenever he wants to. Mr Yadav, however, refused to comment on any possibility of a tie-up with the BSP. Referring to demonetisation, Mr Yadav said that though former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who is an economist, and all other economists say that it has harmed the economy, it is sometimes difficult for people to accept the truth and they ignore many things due to caste and religious considerations. Making a reference to the amendments in the GST, he said more such steps will be undertaken as the elections draw closer. The former UP chief minister said that those who used to talk about digital India are today talking about 'gobar' (cow dung) and cow. On the works done during his government especially his pet project of Agra-Lucknow Expressway, Mr Yadav said, "I still maintain that those who have travelled on it will say that this is how the roads in the country should be made." "The Prime Minister and UP Chief Minister can make roads better than the expressway, but they do not have the intention to do so..officials tell them that there are shortcomings in the River Front and other such projects. And the same officials come to me and say that CM does not know anything," he alleged.


100 Suggestions' But You Always Pick Odd-Even, Delhi Government Scolded
MMNN:10 November 2017

NEW DELHI:Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's government confronted resounding criticism today from the country's top environmental court for ordering "odd-even" traffic restrictions in the capital next week. In an attempt to reduce the thick and hazardous smog hanging over Delhi, Mr Kejriwal said that the odd-even scheme, used twice before in the capital to check pollution, will apply from 8 am to 8 pm for Monday to Friday. It limits cars with license plates ending in even numbers to run on one day and odd numbers on the next. "The odd-even formula can't be imposed like this. Nothing has been done from your end for the past one year," the National Green Tribunal rebuked the Delhi government. It said that "100 measures" have been suggested to curb pollution, "but you always opted for odd-even. Delhi government will have to justify the implementation of this scheme The government is expected to present evidence in court tomorrow of why the traffic restrictions are needed. It does not have the support of the centre. "What was the use of the odd-even formula last time? Did it even have any effect?" asked union minister Mahesh Sharma. Thick smog this week swathed Delhi, where pollution readings in some places peaked at 500, the most severe level on the government's air quality index that measures poisonous particles. All 6,000 schools in Delhi have been closed till Monday with the Chief Minister saying the city has turned into a "gas chamber". He has urged Haryana and Punjab to stop farmers from setting existing crop waste on fire - "stubble burning" what's left after fields have been harvested - as they prep to sow the winter crop. Other major contributions to the filthy air are vehicle emissions and dust from construction sites. Trucks have been banned from entering the capital for now; a stop to all construction activity has also been ordered. The problem has been compounded this year by still conditions, the weather office said


Reconstructing Pradyuman Murder, CBI Takes Student To Knife Shops, School
MMNN:9 November 2017

NEW DELHI: A 16-year-old schoolboy accused of slitting the throat of Pradyuman Thakur, his junior at the Ryan International School in Gurgaon, was today taken by a CBI team to knife shops and will also be taken to school in an attempt at reconstructing the crime. The CBI, which started questioning the Class 11 student in custody today, took him to select shops to find out where the murder weapon - a knife - may have been bought. Sources say in the next two days, he will be taken to his school so he can explain his actions on September 8, when seven-year-old Pradyuman was found murdered in a toilet near his classroom. Investigators have told a Juvenile Court that the teen confessed to the crime in the presence of his father and independent witnesses. The motive, apparently, was to delay an exam, but the CBI is yet to find clinching evidence to seal the student's guilt. The agency, for the first time investigating a child for another child's murder, was yesterday granted custody of the student for three days. Pradyuman, a Class 2 student, was found murdered some 15 minutes after he was dropped off by his father, along with his older sister at 7.55 am. Seven hours later, the police told the media that they had the killer. Schoolbus conductor Ashok Kumar, they said, murdered Pradyuman after trying to sexually assault him. They claimed that they had recovered the knife from him. The botch-up, according to the CBI, started from there. "Gurugram Police claimed that Ashok had taken the bus driver's knife with him to the toilet to clean it. There he saw Pradyuman alone and tried to sexually assault him, and when he shouted for help, he slit his neck," an official said, referring to the police theory. Two days after the arrest, the driver said there was no knife in the bus. The police said they would file a charge sheet in seven days. Before that charge sheet, however, the case was handed to the CBI as Pradyuman's family insisted that the police was in a hurry to solve the case and the killer was not Ashok The CBI took over on September 29 and went to the school the next day. The arrested bus conductor, questioned afresh by the CBI, repeatedly denied killing the child. The child's autopsy report didn't mention sexual assault, which made the CBI wonder about the police investigation. The gardener, who was among the first to see Pradyuman's body, told the CBI that he saw Ashok Kumar entering the toilet but didn't see a knife. He also told officials that two students told him Pradyuman was lying in a pool of blood in the washroom. When the students were questioned, they mentioned a Class 11 student who was seen with a knife earlier. The investigation changed course. The CBI then turned to a careful analysis of CCTV footage from near the toilet and saw the teenager near the toilet. The officer says during investigations, a background check of the student revealed that he had received psychiatric counselling for a year and had anger management issues. "When we were questioning him, we realized that he used to pick up fights in school and was termed rowdy by many of his classmates," the officer adds. More inquiries revealed that a day before Pradyuman was killed, he had told a few classmates that they shouldn't prepare for exams as there would be a school holiday next day (September 8). But there is no solid evidence connecting the teen student to such a brutal murder. The agency claims the teenager was not good in studies and wanted to postpone school exams and a parent-teacher meeting. Without proof, none of this will wash in court as motive. It is still not clear whether the crime was planned or spur-of-the-moment. Officials are questioning why Pradyuman was killed so violently without any sexual assault involved. The CBI says after committing the crime, the teenager flushed the knife down the pot. But no forensic evidence links him to the weapon so far. The CBI says that they cannot rule out the possibility of the Haryana police planting evidence (the knife) on Ashok Kumar. "Our probe is going on we will investigate this also and then take a call whether it was deliberately amateur probe or was it all done at someone's instance," reveals the officer.


Parking Fee Hiked By 4 Times In Delhi To Curb Air Pollution
MMNN:7 November 2017

NEW DELHI: People in Delhi will have to pay four times the usual parking fee after severe pollution levels today prompted tougher measures. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) to discourage people from using private vehicles. The capital struggled with the worst smog and pollution this year, worse than a day after Diwali, as a brown haze hung heavy. The green panel has recommended reduced fares in the Delhi metro for off-peak hours and the return of the odd-even scheme to regulate the number of cars


A Year After Demonetisation
MMNN:7 November 2017

November 8, 2016 would be remembered as a watershed moment in the history of Indian economy.  This day signifies the resolve of this Government to cure the country from “dreaded disease of black money”.  We, the Indians, were forced to live with this attitude of “chalta hai” with respect to corruption and black money and the brunt of this attitude was faced particularly by the middle class and lower strata of society.  It was a hidden urge of the larger section of our society for a long period to root out the curse of corruption and black money; and it was this urge which manifested in the verdict of people in May 2014. Immediately after taking up responsibility in May 2014, this Government decided to fulfil the wish of the people in tackling the menace of black money by constituting SIT on black money.  Our country is aware that how even a direction from the Supreme Court on this issue was ignored by the then Government for number of years.  Another example of lack of will to fight against black money was the delay of 28 years in implementation of Benami Property Act. This Government took decisions and implemented the earlier provisions of law in a well-considered and planned manner over three years to meet the objective of fight against black money.  These decisions span from setting up of SIT to passing of necessary laws for foreign assets to demonetisation and to implementation of GST.  When the country is participating in “Anti-Black Money Day”, a debate was started that whether the entire exercise of demonetisation has served any intended purpose.  This narrative attempts to bring out positive outcomes of demonetization in short-term and medium-term with respect to stated objectives. RBI has reported in their Annual Accounts that Specified Bank Notes (SBNs) of estimated value of Rs.15.28 lakh crore have been deposited back as on 30.6.2017.  The outstanding SBNs as on 8 th November, 2016 were of Rs.15.44 lakh crore value.  The total currency in circulation of all denominations as on 8 th November, 2016 was 17.77 lakh crore. One of the important objective of demonetisation was to make India a less cash economy and thereby reduce the flow of black money in the system.  The reduction in currency in circulation from the base scenario reflects that this intended objective has been met.  The published figure of “currency in circulation” for half year ending September, 2017 is Rs.15.89 lakh crore.  This shows year on year variation of (-) Rs.1.39 lakh crore; whereas year on year variation for the same period during last year was (+) Rs.2.50 lakh crore.  This means that reduction in currency in circulation is of the order of Rs.3.89 lakh crore.  2 Why should we remove excess currency from the system?  Why should we curtail cash transactions?  It is common knowledge that cash is anonymous.  When demonetization was implemented, one of the intended objectives was to put identity on the cash holdings in the economy.  With the return of Rs.15.28 lakh crore in the formal banking system, almost entire cash holding of the economy now has an address.  It is no more anonymous.  From this inflow, the amount involving suspicious transactions based on various estimates ranges from Rs.1.6 lakh crore to Rs.1.7 lakh crore.  Now it is with the tax administration and other enforcement agencies to use big data analytics and crack down on suspicious transactions. Steps in this direction have already started.  Number of Suspicious Transaction Reports filed by banks during 2016-17 has gone up from 61,361 in 2015-16 to 3,61,214; the increase during the same period for Financial Institutions is from 40,333 to 94,836 and for intermediaries registered with SEBI the increase is from 4,579 to 16,953. Based on big data analytics, cash seizure by Income Tax Department has more than doubled in 2016-17 when compared to 2015-16; during search and seizure by the Department Rs.15,497 crore of undisclosed income has been admitted which is 38% higher than the undisclosed amount admitted during 2015-16; and undisclosed income detected during surveys in 2016-17 is Rs.13,716 crore which is 41% higher than the detection made in 2015-16. Undisclosed income admitted and undisclosed income detected taken together amounts to Rs.29,213 crore; which is close to 18% of the amount involved in suspicious transactions.  This process will gain momentum under “Operation Clean Money” launched on January 31, 2017. The exercise to remove the anonymity with currency has further yielded results in the form of         56 lakh new individual tax payers filing their returns till August 5, 2017 which was the last date for filing return for this category; last year this number was about 22 lakh;         Self-Assessment Tax (voluntary payment by tax payers at the time of filing return) paid by non-corporate tax payers increasing by 34.25% during April 1 to August 5 in 2017 when compared to the same period in 2016.           With increase in tax base and bringing back undisclosed income into the formal economy, the amount of Advance Tax paid by non-corporate tax payers during the current year has also increased by about 42% during 1 st April to 5 th August.           The leads gathered due to data collected during demonetisation period have led to identification of 2.97 lakh suspect shell companies.  After issuance of statutory notices to these companies and following due process under the law, 2.24 lakh companies have been de-registered from the books of Registrar of Companies. 3           Further actions were taken under the law to stop operation of bank accounts of these struck off companies.  Actions are also being taken for freezing their bank accounts and debarring their directors from being on board of any company.  In the initial analysis of bank accounts of such companies following information has come out which are worth mentioning:         Of 2.97 lakh struck off companies, information pertaining to 28,088 companies involving 49,910 bank accounts show that these companies have deposited and withdrawn Rs.10,200 crore from 9 th November 2016 till the date of strike off from RoC;         Many of these companies are found to have more than 100 bank accounts – one company even reaching a figure of 2,134 accounts; Simultaneously, Income Tax Department has taken action against more than 1150 shell companies which were used as conduits by over 22,000 beneficiaries to launder more than Rs.13,300 crore. Post demonetization, SEBI has introduced a Graded Surveillance Measure in stock exchanges.  This measure has been introduced in over 800 securities by the exchanges.  Inactive and suspended companies many a time are used as harbours of manipulative minds.  In order to ensure that such suspicious companies do not languish in the exchanges, over 450 such companies have been delisted and demat accounts of their promoters have been frozen; they have also been barred to be directors of listed companies.  Around 800 companies listed on erstwhile regional exchanges are not traceable and a process has been initiated to declare them as vanishing companies. Demonetization appears to have led to an acceleration in the financialisation of savings.  In parallel, there is a shift towards greater formalisation of the economy in the near term aided by the introduction of Good and Services Tax (GST).  Some of the parameters indicating such shift are given below:         Corporate bond market has started reaping the benefits of additional financial savings and transmission of interest rate reduction.  The corporate Bond market issuance grew to Rs. 1.78 lakh crore in 2016-17, the year on year increase was Rs.78,000 crore. With other sources of issuance in capital market the incremental variation is almost Rs.2 lakh crore in 2016-17 while that was Rs.1 lakh crore in 2015-16.         This trend is further substantiated by the surge in primary market raising through public and rights issues.  There were 87 issues of public and rights for raising equity involving amount of Rs.24,054 crore during FY 2015-16; in the first six months of 2017-18 itself there are 99 such issues amounting to Rs.28,319 crore.         Net inflow into Mutual Funds during 2016-17 increased by 155% during 2016-17 over 2015-16 reaching 3.43 lakh crore; Net inflows in mutual funds during November 2016 to June 2017 was about Rs.1.7 lakh crore as against Rs.9,160 crore during the same period in the year before; 4         Premia collected by life insurance companies more than doubled in November 2016; the cumulative collections during November 2016 to January 2017 increased by 46 per cent over the same period of the previous year.  The premium collections witnessed 21% growth for year ending September 2017 over the corresponding period of previous year. With a shift to less cash economy, India has taken a big leap in digital payment during 2016-17.  Some of the trends are given below:         110 crore transactions, valued at around Rs.3.3 lakh crore and another 240 crore transactions, valued at Rs.3.3 lakh crore were carried out through credit cards and debit cards, respectively.  The value of transaction for debit and credit card was Rs.1.6 lakh crore and Rs.2.4 lakh crore respectively during 2015-16.         Total value of transaction with Pre-Paid instruments (PPIs) have increased from Rs.48,800 crore in 2015-16 to Rs.83,800 crore in 2016-17.  Total volume of transactions through PPIs have increased from about 75 crore to 196 crore.         During 2016-17, National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) handled 160 crore transactions valued at Rs.120 lakh crore, up from around 130 crore transactions for Rs.83 lakh crore in the previous year. With higher level of formalisation, it has brought out related benefits to workers who were denied of social security benefits in the form of EPF contribution, subscription to ESIC facilities and payments of wages in their bank accounts.  Large increase in opening of bank accounts for workers, enrolment in EPF and ESIC are added benefits of demonetisation.  More than 1 crore workers were added to EPF and ESIC system post- demonetisation which was almost 30% of existing beneficiaries.  Bank accounts were opened for about 50 lakh workers to get their wages credited in their accounts.  Necessary amendment in Payment of Wages Act was done to facilitate this.  The reduction in incidences of stone pelting, protests in J&K and naxal activities in LWE affected districts are also attributed to the impact of demonetisation as these miscreants have run out of cash.  Their access to Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) was also restricted.  During 2016-17, the detection of FICN for Rs.1000 denomination increased from 1.43 lakh pieces to 2.56 lakh pieces.  At the Reserve Bank’s currency verification and processing system, during 2015-16, there were 2.4 pieces of FICNs of Rs.500 denomination and 5.8 pieces of FICNs of Rs.1000 denomination for every million pieces notes processed; which rose to 5.5 pieces and 12.4 pieces, respectively, during the post-demonetisation period.  This shows almost doubling of such detection. In an overall analysis, it would not be wrong to say that country has moved on to a much cleaner, transparent and honest financial system.  Benefits of these may not yet be visible to some people.  The next generation will view post November, 2016 national economic development with a great sense of pride as it has provided them a fair and honest system to live in.


In Gujarat, Team Of 40 'Chhupa Rustams' Informing Rahul Gandhi Decisions
MMNN:6 November 2017

As Rahul Gandhi moves through Gujarat, visiting temples, addressing small neighbourhood gathering and much larger rallies, taking the occasional selfie with a young fan who climbed to the top of his mini-van for a selfie, there's a far more media-shy contingent that's assessing what voters want. You can call them by different names - in Hindi, we refer to them as 'Chhupa Rustom' - but it's crucial that they remain anonymous, unrecognizable," said one of these secret agents. "They source information, then give this information to a boss who is one level above them, and that rung conveys the material to Rahul Gandhi," he said, agreeing to be filmed but in silhouette so that his identity is concealed. The secrecy is not unwarranted, said more than one of these Chhupa Rustoms that we spoke to. On reconnaissance missions, they gauge public mood to help shape what narrative the campaign should follow; more crucially, they try to evaluate which candidates the Congress should shortlist for the 182 seats in Gujarat that will be decided when the state votes next month. As Rahul Gandhi attempts to drive a wedge Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his home state, which has been governed by the BJP for 22 years, his decision to use a secret council of advisors is based on recent experience in Goa and Punjab where the Congress leader's official aides were supplemented by another similar secret council that helped determine candidates. The Congress won the most seats in both states. The "intel agency"of the Congress works like this, explained the source who is part of it. "Rahul Gandhi handpicks the top tier which then chooses the foot soldiers who conduct low-profile surveys of voters and party workers to identify which candidates are likely to be winning acts. He said that senior Congress leaders - like Gujarat president Bharatsinh Solanki and Ashok Gehlot - are "partially in the know" about the role of the Chhupa Rustoms. If there were full disclosure, he said, "they will drive us out...they will finish us in the womb before we do something. But they are not able to that means they have a message". "Any information can only help the party," said Mr Solanki to NDTV, "they are secret stars to allow them to collect unbiased facts." Whether he's fully in on the secret was unclear - he was unable to explain the exact count of "secret agents" but said they have been brought in "from Maharashtra, from Rajasthan, so it's hard to track details." Sources said there are about 40 Chhupa Rustoms deployed in Gujarat, some of whom are covering upto 14 constituencies. Candidates must be formalised by the 20th of this month, but so far, no names have been released by the Congress, which is why there's a voluptuous crowd of aspirants, CVs in hand, at the party office in Ahmedabad. Earlier, in a power play typical of the Congress' centralized leadership, they would have to travel to Delhi, said contenders. Now, a screening committee of four aides to Rahul Gandhi interview them. Its' not clear how much the committee is influenced by the Chhupa Rustoms; its members didn't want to talk to NDTV. But an aspirant, Chamanji Thakor, who has twice been elected as a law-maker, told NDTV that "the party conducts a survey...who does it is a secret...but we are told it is carried out on the instructions of Rahul Gandhi. It is a top secret affair." Congress sources who work closely with its Vice President said that for years, Mr Gandhi has been trying to create a team of young leaders across India whose motivation is not to run for office themselves but to help the party identify and promote deserving talent and candidates. For all the effort that the Congress is putting into determining its candidates, equally crucial will be its strategy in deciding how to handle those it rejects. As Shankersinh Vaghela proved before quitting the party, it's easy to move disgruntled Congressman towards the BJP -at least six Congress law-makers switched teams at that point, in total 43 stayed loyal. Perhaps the secret ops should focus on uncovering other likely defectors, say some Congress sources wrly.


Those Who Were In World Bank Now Question Ranking: PM Narendra Modi Slams Opposition
MMNN:4 November 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a swipe at the opposition Congress for questioning the country's improved ranking in the World Bank's ease of doing business report, saying those who had worked with the World Bank previously too were raising questioning India's ranking. Speaking at a session on India's business reforms, PM Modi listed the initiatives and reforms that his government had pushed through "in all sectors" that led to an improvement in the ease of doing business ranking from 142 to 100. "But there are some people who cannot understand this... They don't want to work, but are quick to question those who do," PM Modi said at the conference in the presence of World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva. "This is not just an ease of business ranking... it is also an ease of living life," PM Modi said at the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, responding to the primary criticism from the Congress camp that there was a wide gap between the improvement in rankings and the plight of small businesses. Leading the opposition attack has been Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi who has accused the government's decision last year to ban high value currency notes followed by the Goods and Services Tax of having devastated businesses. "Ask small traders about ease of doing business," Rahul Gandhi has said, describing the two measures as "twin torpedos" that sunk entrepreneurs into losses. The quantum improvement on this ranking means that life has become easier for the common people, the middle class, he said. "Because most of the parameters selected for this ranking are linked to the day-to-day life of people too," PM Modi said, counting efforts to simplify filing tax returns, train reservations and gas bookings as some areas PM Modi said ease of doing business is "critical for small businesses including small manufacturers" that provides the bulk of employment, makes them more competitive and reduces the cost of doing business. He also attempted to blunt the criticism over GST, telling traders that the government had been listening to their concerns with an open mind and was making amends. He announced that the group of finance ministers appointed to smooth out the rough edges had met and "almost all points" flagged by businesses were being "positively addressed". This ranking takes into account reforms initiated only till May-end and does not reflect the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which was implemented from July 1, he said, confident that India would occupy the pride of place in the ranking when GST and other reforms are also accounted for. World Bank chief Kristalina Georgieva had earlier called India's jump of 30 places in World Bank's ease of doing business ranking as "very rare". "In reforms what pays off is persistence, what we are seeing is extraordinary achievement by India," Ms Georgieva said


In Gujarat Election, Why The Role And Influence Of ASHA Workers Matters
MMNN:3 November 2017

VADODARA, GUJARAT: The day before the election for Gujarat was called, the state government announced a 50% raise for ASHA workers in the state, part of an assortment of well-funded schemes introduced quickly to win public favour. Along with the raise, a free sari was promised for the 43,000 women who are trained to provide basic health care in rural areas. ASHA - Accredited Social Health Activists - assist in childbirth, provide first aid, help with vaccinations and educate communities on birth control measures and issues of sanitation as part of the National Rural Health Mission introduced in 2005, which envisaged planting at least one ASHA worker in every village by 2012. For over two years, ASHA workers in Gujarat have been demanding fixed wages, permanent employment with regularized working hours and social security benefits like maternity leave and health insurance. In a state that prides itself on development, prosperity and three terms of Narendra Modi's governance, they say, the basics - education, health, clean drinking water - are far more inadequate here than in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In a sign of their relevance, Rahul Gandhi met with ASHA workers yesterday during his tour of South Gujarat. "Our numbers are not small. Together, we are a formidable vote bank. So the government had to make a token gesture. But they have not addressed a single demand we made," said Tanuja Makwana, an ASHA worker in the Nadiad district of Central Gujarat. ASHA workers are well aware of their influence in the communities they visit, and of their status as government workers. They are also often from families where men work as farmers or are small traders, groups that have been reeling from the impact of the new national sales tax or GST and demonetization. Tanuja points out that ASHA workers are paid for every assignment and are guaranteed no minimum monthly income. In addition, they have to be available around the clock to travel to remote areas. "Presently, for every delivery we are paid Rs. 300 and an additional Rs. 250 for a week of follow-up visits and writing up the delivery report. But this is only if the woman is a BPL card holder (below poverty line); otherwise, we get nothing. For collecting samples for various tests, we get Rs. 15. Our income depends entirely on the number of cases we handle. So when there are fewer cases, we barely earn anything. So how does a 50% hike and a free sari help us?" she asked while giving an insulin shot to a young diabetic patient who has turned up at her house. Each ASHA worker is meant to handle 1,000 people. Very often, she is required to carry out door-to-door visits to check the spread of malaria or a flu. "We spend several days, walking from home to home in the hot sun and in heavy rain, but we are not paid a single paisa for our effort. They make us work for free," said Tanuja. Now in her early 30s, she says that even if spends nearly every day of the month in the field, she barely makes Rs. 2,500 a month despite nine years of experience. "I should be earning at least Rs. 10,000," she says. "The same work is twice as difficult for ASHAs covering Adivasi dominated districts where the terrain is hostile and the infrastructure is limited", says Meena Rathwa, who is based in Chhota Udaipur in South Gujarat, which has a large tribal population. "Often, the distance between one hamlet and the next is several kilometres. We have to make our own transport arrangements and sometimes spend the night in the village. But we have to pay for all these expenses. The government does not reimburse us." That's one reason why the epicenter of the two-year long protest by the ASHAs has been Vadodara with its proximity to the Adivasi belt of South Gujarat. Their peaceful struggle turned aggressive in recent days with members heckling and chasing senior government officials and national and state law-makers from the area. The conflict escalated when a few women leaders were arrested for allegedly throwing bangles at the motorcade of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he campaigned in Vadodara last month. The ruling BJP has accused the ASHAs of upping the ante at the urging of the Congress before the election. It's a charge they deny. "They are undermining our battle for survival", said Meena. "We are sensitive to their demands and in fact have made announcements recently increasing there wages. As far as the government is concerned, they are satisfied with our response; only a handful could be protesting for reasons best known to them," said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. Congress workers allege that it is in the vacuum created by Mr Modi's departure for Delhi that protests have begun to take shape and erupt - among farmers, health care workers, the Patels who want affirmative action policies. The Gujarat government has been reducing its spend on health care; in the last three years, it has fallen from 5.6 percent of the state's budget to barely 5%. Of this, barely a third was allocated to rural healthcare, with the bulk reserved for urban areas. The neglect shows, particularly in villages. The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of Gujarat, an economic powerhouse, is 35 per 1,000 births; Kerala's is 10. In rural areas of Gujarat, the IMR is 43, nearly double that of urban areas. Similarly, the state registered a Maternal Mortality Rate of 112 per I lakh deliveries as compared to 68 in neighbouring Maharashtra. One reason for these poor figures is an acute shortage of government doctors in Gujarat. More than half the sanctioned posts of 1,500 doctors in primary health centres located in rural areas are vacant. More shockingly, for a state that prides itself on world class infrastructure, the National Rural Health Mission Data for 2015-16 reveals a shortfall of 12 district and 5 sub-district hospitals, 36 community health centres, 113 primary and 20 sub- primary health centres. For its public health schemes to start taking effect, the salaries of frontline workers like ASHAs and anganwadi workers, who staff women and child care centres in rural areas, has to be improved. Earlier this year, about 1.5 lakh anganwadi workers in Gujarat went on a 3-day strike demanding Rs. 4,000 a month. An anganwadi worker is paid Rs. 3,000 in Gujarat making it the 14th lowest-paying state, while states like Haryana and Tamil Nadu pay them between Rs. 8,000 - 10,000 a month. These issues don't decide a voter's preference of party or candidate. But ASHAs and others like them hope to raise awareness of how their low wages create a cycle of negligence


Setback For Arvind Kejriwal As Court Says Delhi Needs Lt Governor's Nod
MMNN:2 November 2017

NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi needs the Lieutenant Governor's nod to govern the national capital but the city's administrative head cannot sit on files beyond a reasonable period, a top bench of the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday. The observation came on a petition by the AAP government against a court verdict that held the Lieutenant Governor was the national capital's boss. During the day, senior lawyer Gopal Subramaniam, representing the AAP government, told a five-judge bench that "an elected government cannot be without any power".


Hit A Button On Your Phone, And A Chinese Youth Gets A Job: Rahul Gandhi
MMNN:1 November 2017

The morning after India was recognised for vast self-improvement making it an easier place to do business, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that "it is just a handful of businessmen who have found the going easier" as he accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of encouraging crony capitalism and failing to create jobs. Mr Gandhi's criticism was made at a public meeting in Gujarat, where he is leading his party's campaign for December's election in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state. He reiterated his criticism of the new national sales tax or GST, reminding his audience in Jambusar, "I have called it the Gabbar Singh Tax". Gabbar Singh is one of India's best-known fictional villains from the blockbuster movie "Sholay". Yesterday, the World Bank said that India has improved its ranking by 30 places and is 100th out of 190 countries for doing business. Mr Gandhi said that the PM and his administration are congratulating themselves over an assessment by "foreigners and not by our poor." "Ask small traders about ease of doing business," he said, alleging that GST and demonetisation - described by him in an earlier speech as "twin torpedos" - have sunk entrepreneurs into losses. In retort, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted that the difference between this government and its predecessor, which was led by Mr Gandhi's party, is "The ease of doing corruption has been replaced by the ease of doing business" India was ranked 142 for ease of doing business during PM Modi's first year in office in 2014. He has declared a target to place India among top 50 and in the last two years has attracted record foreign direct investment. The new ranking of 100 "indicates India's endeavour to further strengthen its position as a preferred place to do business globally," Annette Dixon, World Bank vice-president for South Asia, said at a media conference in New Delhi. India's economic growth slid to a three-year low of 5.7% in the last quarter, the result in part of PM Modi's sudden ban of high-denomination notes a year ago and this July's hurried rollout of the GST. The World Bank rankings didn't take into account impact of demonetisation and the goods and services tax, reported Bloomberg. The BJP has governed Gujarat for 22 years and its campaign is being fronted by PM Modi, who in his speeches emphasizes that GST and the notes ban are key structural reforms that will increase transparency, reduce prices through increased competition, and further economic growth while checking black money and corruption The "transitory" disruptive effects of both reforms are over and India's economic growth will see a "sizable turnaround" when September quarter numbers are out next month, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg said in an interview recently to Bloomberg. 65% of Gujarat's' population is younger than 35, so concerns over unemployment run high and this election has been overtaken by a tug-of-war between different castes demanding affirmative action policies that would entitle them to government jobs and seats in state-run colleges. Mr Gandhi said that in comparison to China, where "50,000 jobs are provided by the government for the youth every day, in India, only 450 people get jobs every 24 hours". This, he alleged, exhibits the failure of the PM's "Make In India" initiative to promote manufacturing. "Just take you phones and see the back... does it say 'Made in India'? No. It says 'Made in China'. Every time you click a button on your phone, a youth in China is getting a job," he said. Gujarat votes on December 9 and 14; results will be counted on December 18


President Ram Nath Kovind And Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Pay Tributes To Sardar Patel
MMNN:31 October 2017

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 142nd birth anniversary. President Kovind remembered Sardar Patel as "India's Man of Iron, of Integrity and of Integration" in the tweet he posted after paying floral tribute at Patel Chowk. Mr Naidu too, paid floral tribute to Sardar Patel, who is credited for the ensuring integration of the nation post Independence. Born on October 31, 1875 in Nadiad, a small village in Gujarat, Sardar Patel became the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. He died on December 15, 1950. Popularly known as the 'Iron Man' of India, Sardar Patel was conferred with the highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, in 1991 for his services to the nation.


Bring Hadiya Here: Supreme Court To Father In Kerala 'Love Jihad' Case
MMNN:30 October 2017

Hadiya is 24 years old, her consent as an adult is "prime" and her version of how and why she married a Muslim man in Kerala last year will be heard on November 27, the Supreme Court today as it examined the landmark "love jihad" case that has become the subject of an investigation by the country's top counter-terror agency. Her testimony next month will be made in open court, judges said today, which means the hearing can be attended by the public. 24-year-old Akhila Ashokan took the name Hadiya after converting to Islam, married a Muslim man she met on an Islamist matrimonial site, and was then taken to court by her father, who alleged that the marriage was a form of recruitment by ISIS that is gaining currency in Kerala. In May, the Kerala High Court annulled Hadiya's marriage and ordered her to return to live with her parents in the Kottayam district. Her husband, Shafin Jehan, has appealed against the annulment as well as the sanction given in August by the Supreme Court to the National Investigating Agency to determine if his marriage is part of an emerging pattern which sees vulnerable Hindu women being lured by Muslim men who are agents of terrorist groups including ISIS. "Get me out of here. Today or tomorrow, I am going to die. I am sure about this. My father is getting angry, I can make out. He pushes me," Hadiya said in a video released last week by an activist who met her family and her in August. Akilha's father, Ashokan KM, has denied his daughter's allegations. The activist Rahul Easwar, says he will submit his recording to the Supreme Court. "While I am a Hindu activist, I believe Hadiya's voice must also be heard," Mr Eashwar told NDTV. The National Investigating Agency or NIA told judges today that it has evidence of nearly 90 "similar cases" of indoctrination and radicalization in Kerala, according to news agency Press Trust of India. The Kerala government earlier this month told the Supreme Court that its police had conducted a "thorough investigation" into Hadiya's conversion and marriage and did not find any merit for the involvement of the NIA.


Ahead Of Rahul Gandhi's Visit, Hardik Patel Sets A Deadline For Congress
MMNN:28 October 2017

Hardik Patel, the 24-year-old face of the Patidar community's campaign for reservation that has locked horns with the ruling BJP in Gujarat, seems to be playing hardball with the Congress over his support to the party for the state elections to be held in December. A day after Congress sources indicated that Mr Patel would share the stage with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Surat on November 3, he tweeted that the party must first come out with a clear stand on the reservation issue. "If the party doesn't not clear its stand on the issue by November 3, it could face the same fate as Amit Shah did during his rally in Surat," tweeted Mr Patel. BJP chief Amit Shah's meeting with leaders of the Patidar community in Surat last month descended into chaos as supporters of Mr Patel went on a rampage, chanting his name and vandalizing the furniture. Though the Congress party has openly expressed its support to the Patidar leader in the past, it is yet to make its stand clear on a separate reservation quota for the community. A separate quota for the Patels in government jobs and colleges could take the reservation percentage beyond the 50 per cent currently allowed by a Supreme Court ruling. The Congress party has still to react to Mr Patel's threat. Mr Patel has been indirectly expressing his backhanded support to the Congress party, making announcements at recently rally like: "If you have to bring down a maha chor (mega thief) it doesn't matter if a chor (thief) is helped". The BJP on its part has been alleging that Mr Patel was nothing but a B-Team of the Congress. A CCTV clip leaked by the Gujarat Police had shown how despite vehemently denying to do so, Mr Patel did apparently meet Rahul Gandhi in a city five star hotel. Both Mr Patel and the Congress have denied any such meeting


Decide On Alliance,' Devendra Fadnavis Tells Shiv Sena After New Attack
MMNN:27 October 2017

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has warned partner Shiv Sena that its "dual stand" will not wash and that its chief Uddhav Thackeray must decide if he wants to continue the alliance with the BJP. "The Sena opposes all our decisions. They can give their suggestions, but cannot simultaneously play the roles of a ruling party and an opposition at the same time," Mr Fadnavis said at a function, even as the Sena's Sanjay Raut delivered another set of jibes at the BJP, asserting that the "Modi wave has faded". The Chief Minister said, "As a party, Uddhav-ji has to decide. People do not like the picture they are portraying. Balasaheb (Sena founder and Uddhav's father Bal Thackeray) never saw every decision with negativity, neither does Uddhav-ji. But some of his leaders think they are bigger than the party chief and make statements." Sanjay Raut was participating in television discussion when he also declared that Rahul Gandhi is now capable of leading the country. "People want to hear what he is saying...It is wrong to call him 'Pappu'," the Sena lawmaker said, referring to a name used by BJP supporters to mock Mr Gandhi. "The biggest political power in this country is the people... the voters. They can make a Pappu of anyone," Mr Raut added in an apparent dig at the BJP. The Shiv Sena has not always been kind to Rahul Gandhi, who is expected to take over as Congress president from his mother Sonia Gandhi soon. Just two years ago, the party had said that "even 100 Rahul Gandhis cannot match Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'mega wave'". But the BJP-Shiv Sena relationship has gone steadily downhill since, with a splenetic Sena now taking regular pot shots at PM Modi and his party and threatening to dismantle their alliance, though it has not done so yet. A break-up will mean that the Devendra Fadnavis government will be in a minority in Maharashtra and will have to take the support of Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Mr Fadnavis said given a choice, he would choose to work with the Shiv Sena as the two parties have been together for 25 years and have the same ideology. "But I will give Pawar credit for one thing. He never opposes beyond a certain point when it comes to development. He is never against development," Mr Fadnavis said, again asserting, "but our differences with the NCP will continue". On comparisons with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the young chief minister said, "It is difficult for me to become Modi, he being a great communicator, a master administrator who has changed the country and the way politics is done. However, he should be the role model for every chief minister


Rajnath Singh, In Meet With Mehbooba Mufti, Asks About Jobs For Pandits
MMNN:26 October 2017

AGRA: At their first meeting after former intelligence chief Dineshwar Sharma's appointment as the centre's interlocutor for Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Home Minister Rajnath Singh today discussed how the take the initiative forward. They also reviewed the implementation of a special package for the state. One of the key issues that Mr Singh flagged at the 60-minute meeting was the delay in rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, particularly jobs for them in the Kashmir Valley. A senior government official said the Home Minister was particularly concerned about a delay in offering Kashmiri Pandits jobs that they had been promised. The government had earlier announced setting aside 6,000 jobs for the Hindu community in Kashmir who were driven out of the Valley by terrorists. But the Jammu and Kashmir government had reported to the centre that only 3,000 jobs have been given. Ms Mufti has promised to restart making the appointments for the remaining appointments that had been held up due to "legal issues". Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a 80,000 crores package for the state in 2015. In two years, the government has sanctioned projects totalling 78 per cent of this package and 28 per cent money has also been disbursed. Much of their 20-minute one-on-one meeting that followed the official meeting focused on the steps needed at the government and political level to consolidate the gains expected to accrue due to the centre's outreach attempt that the opposition Congress has called a "publicity exercise". Following up on the initiative, Ms Mufti yesterday told the state police to stop retaliatory attacks on families of terrorists, prefer surrender of terrorists over killing them and follow the law themselves before enforcing it among people. "You will have to follow the law and not compete with militants by doing what they do," she told them. Interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma and Army Chief General Bipin Rawat have, separately, made it clear that the appointment of an interlocutor to engage in dialogue with stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir would neither impact the Army operations nor the crackdown on terror funding by the National Investigation Agency.


Hizbul Chief Syed Salahuddin's Son, Who Is Government Employee, Arrested
MMNN:24 October 2017

Syed Shahid Yousuf, the son of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen's chief Syed Salahuddin, has been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a 2011 terror funding case. Yousuf, 42, works in the state government as a village agriculture assistant and has a family home in Budgam. "He was summoned for questioning to Delhi on Tuesday after initial rounds his role was conclusively established in the case and so we arrested him," NIA spokesperson Alok Mittal told NDTV. The case involves funding through hawala channels by terrorists based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to the top anti-terror agency, Yousuf was in touch with Saudi Arabia-based Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Aijaz Ahmad Bhat and had received money to fund secessionist and terror activities in the Kashmir Valley. Sources say Yousuf accepted money transferred through Western Union by Aijaz, who is on the run, and investigators have documents from Saudi Arabia and India confirming the transfers. The money allegedly meant to fund the Hizbul Mujahideen's terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir, was sent in four instalments to Yousuf between 2011 and 2014. The NIA also has call records of multiple conversations between Aijaz and Yousuf. "We have all the documents on money transfers as well as call details. It is on the basis of this irrefutable evidence that we have gone ahead with Yusuf's arrest," said a senior officer. Four accused in the case are in Delhi's Tihar jail while two are missing. The case had been dormant after the four arrests. The NIA revived the investigations recently and questioned Yousuf a few days ago. Yesterday, the central government announced a new interlocutor, former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma, for a "sustained dialogue" with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir. Yousuf's arrest is a clear sign that the centre does not plan to go slow on its crackdown on separatist leaders. Syed Salahuddin was in June declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of State.


Centre To Start New Dialogue In Jammu And Kashmir Led By Ex-Intel Chief
MMNN:23 October 2017

NEW DELHI: Dineshwar Sharma, a former intelligence bureau chief has been appointed by the NDA government as its interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced on Monday, declaring that the retired officer would have "complete freedom" to talk to all groups and individuals" including Kashmiri separatists. "There is no bar on him to talk to one group and not another... We want to understand aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir," the minister said. This is the first concrete attempt by the NDA government in three years to reach out to Kashmiris and comes after a particularly-focussed offensive by security agencies anchored from Delhi to crack down on foreign funding for separatists. In Srinagar, police and army teams have taken out dozens of local commanders of terrorist groups active in the Kashmir Valley. It also addresses recurring criticism of the central government's approach in handling the problems in Kashmir from the prism of security operations without a matching political outreach. At the government's meetings with political parties, the Union Home Minister said, there had been suggestions that the government from across the political spectrum that there should be dialogue. In 2010, the Manmohan Singh government too had appointed a group of three interlocutors led by eminent journalist Dilip Padgaonkar who had given their final report in two years. But most of their recommendations were not accepted. Asked if the government really needed another report, the Home Minister didn't refer to the initiative by the UPA but underlined that the Modi government's policy and intentions were clear: "To understand aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir and the problems that people are facing, how they can be resolved and the challenges". He also explained the government's decision to go for the intelligence chief as its interlocutor, saying the centre wanted someone who did not have any political affiliations as he would be most-suited to reach out all individuals and organisations concerned


Taj Mahal A Hindu Temple Called Tejo Mahal: BJP Lawmaker Vinay Katiyar
MMNN:18 October 2017

LUCKNOW: The Taj Mahal is originally a Hindu temple and should be renamed as "Tejo Mahal", BJP parliamentarian Vinay Katiyar has said, asserting that a temple was destroyed to build the world-renowned marble monument. "Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple. There are many symbols of Hindu gods and goddesses in Taj. It was known as Tejo Mahal and water used to drip from its ceiling but that was removed from there,"Mr Katiyar, a Rajya Sabha member, today said. The BJP leader went on to buttress his theory on the 17th century mausoleum and said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath "should go into the Taj Mahal and should see the Hindu signs inside it". "If this was only a grave then why are so many rooms built here? There is no need to demolish any structure anywhere. Its name should be changed to Tejo Mahal...The British did not demolish our structures but the Mughals did,"Mr Katiyar said. His remarks add another facet to the controversy over the Mughal-built monument, which was recently left out of an Uttar Pradesh government tourism brochure. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will travel to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal next week for damage control after a legislator of the BJP, Sangeet Som, supported the shocking omission in the tourism booklet and described the Taj Mahal as "blot on Indian culture", a monument built by traitors and a symbol of slavery. Sangeet Som, one of the politician accused of inciting riots in 2013 in Muzaffarnagar, also said Mughal history should be erased. Yogi Adityanath, who had months ago commented that the Taj did not represent Indian culture, said yesterday that the monument was built by the blood and sweat of Indian workers and "it does not matter who built it


Prime Minister Narendra Modi Promises Ayurveda Hospital In Every District
MMNN:17 October 2017

NEW DELHI: Underscoring the importance of Ayurveda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said time has come for a "health revolution" led by the traditional medicine system and pitched for affordable and accessible healthcare. Addressing a gathering after dedicating the country's first All India Institute of Ayurveda to the nation, the prime minister noted that the world is heading "back to nature and wellness". Marking 'Ayurveda Divas' today, he described the medicine system as India's strength and urged those working in the sector to revive it. He also asked experts from the field to find medicines which can, like allopathy, give immediate relief to people but without side-effects. The prime minister also urged private players to use part of their corporate social responsibility funds to help strengthen Ayurveda "We have seen the IT revolution in last 30 years. Now, time has come for a health revolution under the aegis of Ayurveda. Let's pledge to strengthen, revive Ayurveda," PM Modi said. Listing steps being taken by his government to revive and strengthen the system, PM Modi said Ayurveda-related hospitals should be set up in each district of the country. He said the Ayush Ministry would ensure that there was a good Ayurveda hospital in each district. Noting that people across the world were getting attracted towards good health as well as wellness, the prime minister suggested that time was ripe for an atmosphere of Ayurveda to evolve. He said there was need for a relook of the Ayurveda syllabus and underlined the requirement for standard guidelines and treatment in the medicine system so it is not overpowered by Allopathy. The government, PM Modi added, respects all health and medicine systems. He said the Ministries of Ayush and Agriculture can guide farmers to sow medicinal plants. This will also help farmers boost their income in line with the government's plan to double their income by 2022, when India attains 75 years of independence.


Narendra Modi Bihar Visit LIVE: PM Attends Patna University Function, Will Launch Projects Worth Rs. 5,000 Crore
MMNN:14 October 2017

PATNA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Bihar today to launch and attend the centenary celebrations of Patna University. The country's seventh oldest university, standing on the banks of the river Ganga, completed 100 glorious years on October 1 and the administration held a simple function to mark the historic occasion. PM Modi will also launch projects worth Rs. 5,000 crore including a bridge across the Ganga which costs about 1,200 crores. Soon after the celebrations, PM Modi will head to Mokama, about 96 km from Patna, to launch about half-a-dozen schemes including projects under the 'Namami Gange' programme. It will also be the first time since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's exit from the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar and return to the NDA, that he will share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bihar.
PM Narendra Modi's Speech At Patna University For Its Centenary Celebrations
Here are the highlights of PM Modi's speech at Patna University: Nitish Kumar's dedication and commitment towards to progress of Bihar is commendable. Bihar has the capability to be one of the most developed states in India If the people of Bihar decide to put an effort and work towards it. Bihar has the blessing of goddess Saraswati... it can also get the blessings of goddess Lakshmi if it works towards it... Patna has contributed to knowledge and the civil services for many years. It should now move towards wealth creation and innovation. I am sure this won't be a difficult task for the people of Bihar, who have given us some of India's brightest minds. Today, we cannot imagine that at least one in the top five posts in India isn't an alumni of this grand institution. The seed of education was sowed in Patna a century ago... It has created this iconic institution. Technology is changing the way of life... It is giving a new meaning to the way we live... It is important we embrace it. Sometimes we are rigid and not open to change, but the key to success in life is to learn, unlearn and then relearn. We must look at any situation and any circumstance with an open mind... Universities today must work towards helping students have an open mind... Being rigid only hampers growth and slows us down. Someone told me during a visit to a village once that when we were young we used to play with snakes, but today's children are playing with the mouse (computer)... Times are changing. Technology should be made available to the poorest of the poor and should be user-friendly. India already ranks fourth among all nations in terms of startups... The time is not far when India will rank number one in the world. Another area of utmost importance to Bihar, and India at large is skill development. 12:17 (IST) Soon after the celebrations, PM Modi will head to Mokama, about 96 km from Patna, to launch about half-a-dozen schemes including projects worth 5,000 crores including a bridge across the Ganga under the Namami Gange Programme which costs about 1,200 crores. The four national highway projects for which foundation stones will be laid include four-laning of Aunta-Simariya section of NH-31 and construction of six-lane Ganga Setu. The other three projects are four-laning of Bakhtiyarpur-Mokama section of NH-31, two-lane construction of Maheshkhunt-Saharsa-Purnea section of NH-107 and two-lane construction of Biharsharif-Barbigha-Mokama section of NH-82. 12:16 (IST) PM Modi will launch a special centenary souvenir. The management is hopeful that PM's visit will allow them to request for central university status for the Patna University. 12:11 (IST) Vice-Chancellor Ras Bihari Prasad Singh had also invited the former finance minister, who graduated from the institution with a degree in political science and also taught here, but Mr Sinha has not indicated whether he will attend. The Vice Chancellor said that even if Mr Sinha attends the function, he may not be seated near the PM whose office and security clear all arrangements including seating plans for the stage. 12:10 (IST) But today while welcoming PM Modi to "his Patna University", the former actor tweeted, "...even I got an invitaion, alas very late and with a very short notice...delayed by the 'more loyal than the King's people' involved in the affair. So, though 'Muhabbat Karne waale kam na honge...Teri mehfil mein lekin hum na honge'. However, my best wishes." 12:09 (IST) PM Narendra Modi is attending the centenary celebrations of Patna University. The country's seventh oldest university. Governor Satya Pal Malik, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also participate in the celebrations. The university's famous alumni and BJP leaders-turned-critics Shatrughan Sinha and Yashwant Sinha, however, might not attend the event. Lawmaker from Bihar Shatrughan Sinha had told ndtv.com that he had not been invited to attend the celebrations. The actor-turned-politician, who is "very emotionally attached to my alma mater", said, "I'm pained over being denied invitation on such an occasion." 12:03 (IST) PM Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will attend Patna University's centenary celebrations following which they will travel to Mokama where the Prime Minister will launch several projects. 12:02 (IST) As Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the Patna airport for his day-long visit to the state, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar welcomed him with a red rose. The two leaders are meeting in Bihar for the first time since JD(U)'s exit from the Mahagathbandhan and return to the NDA fold. Soon after they shook hands, PM Modi expressed his desire to visit the newly opened Bihar Museum, to which Mr Kumar said, "why not". Governor Satya Pal Malik presented him a book in line with directions that no bouquet be presented to the PM during his tours in India. Soon after the celebrations, PM Modi will head to Mokama, about 96 km from Patna, to launch about half-a-dozen schemes including projects under the 'Namami Gange' programme. It will also be the first time since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's exit from the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar and return to the NDA, that he will share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bihar. 12:00 (IST) Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Bihar today to launch and attend the centenary celebrations of Patna University. The country's seventh oldest university, standing on the banks of the river Ganga, completed 100 glorious years on October 1 and the administration held a simple function to mark the historic occasion. PM Modi will also launch projects worth Rs. 5,000 crore including a bridge across the Ganga which costs about 1,200 crores.


Have Documents? Go To Court': Amit Shah Rejects Allegations Against Son Jay Shah
MMNN:13 October 2017

Amit Shah today responded to allegations that his son Jay Shah, an entrepreneur, enjoyed a big upswing in his business after the BJP came to power in 2014. The question of corruption does not arise, the BJP chief told the news channel Aaj Tak. "If you have documents to prove your allegations, bring them to court," Mr Shah said, emphasizing that none of his son's companies "did even one rupee worth of business" with the government or "received kickbacks like in the case of Bofors". Jay Shah has sued news website The Wire for 100 crores for reporting that his firm's revenues escalated by 16,000 times after the BJP came to power. The report also questioned allegedly unsecured loans given to Jay Shah's firms, including from a state-run firm that reports to the Power Ministry. NDTV cannot independently verify the allegations, which, according to the Congress, is an "excellent example" of crony capitalism. "Please understand this is not corruption. Many allegations of corruption were made against the Congress. Did it ever file a civil suit or defamation suit? No. Why they lacked such courage? Today Jay has filed a defamation as well as civil suit and is demanding a probe himself," Mr Shah stressed, responding to questions. He added: "The business was of commodity trade which is a high value low profit venture. If a company's turnover becomes Rs. 1 crore, its profit does not become Rs. 1 crore...It is unfair to say there was an over 16,000 times jump in profit...say what the turnover was...It makes it seem like the turnover was huge but it wasn't." The BJP president also said after achieving a turnover of Rs. 80 crore, his son's company suffered a loss of Rs. 1.5 crore. "All the payments were made through cheques. There is no question of money laundering." The loans, he said, were not unsecured but a line of credit. On Thursday, the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said there must be enough evidence for the allegations to be worth investigating.


Talwars Acquitted Of Daughter Aarushi's Murder By Allahabad High Court: 10 Points
MMNN:12 October 2017

ALLAHABAD: Dentist couple Nupur and Rajesh Talwar are innocent of killing their teen daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj in 2008, the Allahabad High Court said today, stressing that it was giving them the benefit of the doubt. Aarushi, 13, was found dead in her bedroom; Hemraj was the main suspect till his body was found hours later on the roof of the Talwar home in Noida. The CBI has said it will study today's verdict before deciding whether to appeal against the Talwars' acquittal.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this big story:
1- The judges today said that the CBI had been unable to prove the Talwars' guilt. "There is no irresistible conclusion that accused did the murders," they said.
2-The Talwars were in jail in Dasna in Uttar Pradesh when they were acquitted. A jail official said that they had been anxious this morning and were happy to hear of the verdict. "They said they got justice," he told NDTV.
3-Aarushi Talwar was found with her throat slit in her bed, just days before she turned 14. Their live-in help Hemraj was discovered dead the next day on the terrace of the apartment building in Noida.
4-The case was mishandled by the Noida police and after lapses that included reporters to trample all over the scene of the crime, it was transferred to the CBI.
5-The Talwars were arrested in 2013; in 2015, a court found them guilty and sentenced them to life in prison. The CBI wanted the death penalty.
6-That conviction came after the CBI said it wanted to close the case as an unsolved mystery; the agency said it believed Rajesh Talwar was guilty, but did not have the evidence to prove it. That statement was seen by many legal experts as irresponsible. But the CBI was told to continue its probe.
7-AP Singh, who then headed the CBI, told NDTV today, "There were loopholes in our investigation, that's why we had closed the case saying it was inconclusive." He said today's verdict "does not say that the Talwars didn't do it" but that there's not enough evidence against them.
8-The court that convicted the couple accepted circumstantial evidence offered by the CBI. Investigators said the double murder was an inside job because the apartment had not been broken into and that the "last seen" principle indicts the Talwars because the victims were in their presence before they were killed.
9-The police had alleged that the Talwars were furious after finding their daughter in a compromising position with Hemraj, but offered no evidence to substantiate this premise.
10-The Talwars have described their portrayal in the media as a witch-hunt and have repeatedly offered to assist the investigation.


RSS worker attacked, bombs hurled at BJP office in Kannur district
MMNN:11 October 2017

A 36-year-old RSS activist was injured in an attack, while bombs were hurled at BJP office in separate incidents of violence in the district, the police said on Wednesday. The activist KM Suresh, an auto driver by profession, was injured in the knee when some unidentified persons attacked him at Thalassery Tuesday evening. He has been admitted to a hospital here and his condition is stated to be serious, they said. A case has been registered against unknown assailants, police said, adding, they suspect it to be a fallout of political rivalry. Police had recovered some swords, knives and iron rods near the BJP district committee office here Tuesday. In the other incident, police said bombs were hurled at the BJP party office at Patyam around 12.30 am today but no one was injured. Some furniture was damaged in the attack, police said. A complaint has been received from BJP area committee president K Ajeesh and a case has been registered, they said. The incidents come two days after a hartal was observed at Panur in the district on October 9 by CPI (M) to protest the crude bomb attack on its workers allegedly by RSS men. As many as 14 persons, including four police personnel, were injured in the attack on Sunday during a procession taken out by CPI(M) activists at Kaivellikal. The BJP had on October 3 launched its ‘Jana Raksha Yatra’ from Kannur to highlight “Left’s atrocities” in the state. Addressing the Delhi leg of the yatra’ on Sunday, BJP chief Amit Shah had slammed Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, alleging that the maximum killings of BJP and RSS workers have taken place in the latter’s home district of Kannur.


Huge 2014 Defeat Knocked Sense Into Us, Admits Rahul Gandhi
MMNN:10 October 2017

NEW DELHI: On his campaign tour in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi explained today that a humiliating defeat at the hands of the BJP in the 2014 national election helped him "a lot". The brief concession stood out as Mr Gandhi took generous digs at the ruling party and the Jay Shah controversy on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf. "The BJP helped me a lot. They have really helped me. We lost 2014 but the defeat could not have helped us more. Itni buri tarah haraya ki pit pitkar humein akal aagayi (They beat us so badly in 2014 that it drilled sense into us)," the Congress Vice President said, expressing "gratitude" to the BJP for his party's virtual wipeout after 10 years in power. "They helped me a lot by by pitai karke, gaali deke, maar maarke (they beat me, abused me, thrashed me). They opened my eyes." Ahead of polls in Gujarat later this year, Mr Gandhi is touring the BJP's strongest citadels in the state where the Congress has been out of power for nearly 20 years. Speaking before a gathering of students last evening, he referred to the allegations reported in the Wire website, that BJP president Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's fortunes rose 16,000 times after the BJP came to power -- from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 80 crores. "Have you heard of start-up India? The most successful is Jay Shah's start up... it's a very interesting story," Mr Gandhi said, going on to sum it up for his audience. Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: "The chowkidaar of India is quiet, he doesn't like to comment on these things." In Mr Gandhi's sharp and pointed attacks, his party men see signs of the new, more savvy and confident leader set to take over as Congress president. Not long ago, on a visit to an American university, the 47-year-old had conceded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a "better communicator" than him. Participating in a Q&A session at the University of California, Berkeley, last month, he said, "I am an Opposition leader, but Mr Modi is also my Prime Minister. He has certain skills; he's a very good communicator, probably much better than me.


In Godhra Train Blaze, Alleged Mastermind And 62 Others Acquitted Again
MMNN:9 October 2017

The Gujarat High Court has decided a set of appeals challenging convictions and acquittals in the case of the burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra in 2002, which triggered massive communal riots across the state of Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people were killed. A total of 94 people, all Muslims, had stood trial on charges of murder and conspiracy. In 2011, a court acquitted 63 of them. The High Court today has refused to change that verdict. Those acquitted include Maulvi Umarji, accused of being the mastermind behind the fire. 31 people were convicted of murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. The death sentence for 11 of them has today been changed to life imprisonment. The others remain sentenced to life in jail. In February 2002, 59 people, most of them 'kar sevaks', Hindu devotees returning from Ayodhya, died after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire at the Godhra station, around 130 km from Ahmedabad. The Muslims who were tried have always denied setting the train ablaze on February 27, 2002. The train was returning with passengers from the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya that had been demolished by lakhs of right-wing workers and volunteers in 1992. The special court, in 2011, in Gujarat ruled that the accused had conspired to torch the train.


Woman, 30, Allegedly Gang-Raped In Front Of Husband, Child In UP's Muzaffarnagar
MMNN:7 October 2017

A 30-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh was allegedly gang-raped by four men in front of her husband and their three-month-old baby, the police said. The woman and her husband, 35, had taken their baby to a pediatrician and were returning home on a motorbike in Muzaffarnagar when they were waylaid by four men, who were carrying weapons, in a car. They stopped them, snatched the baby from her and beat up the man. Then they dragged the woman to a sugarcane field. The men took turns to allegedly rape her after tying up her husband. They threatened to kill the infant who cried through her ordeal. After they were done, they warned the couple against raising an alarm and fled, police said. "Four men dragged me to a sugarcane farm and raped me at gun-point. They threatened to kill my child, also tied and beat up my husband," the woman alleged according to news agency ANI. The family screamed for help and a few farmers from a nearby village rushed to rescue them. The police were informed and the cops took the family to the hospital for treatment and her medical examination. A search for the accused is on, a senior police officer said. "We are waiting for her medical report. A case has been registered against the four and investigation is underway," said Ajay Sahdev, SP Rural, Muzaffarnagar.


How Judges Are Appointed By Supreme Court To Be Made Public
MMNN:6 October 2017

NEW DELHI: How judges are appointed or transferred will be open to the public, the Supreme Court has decided, for the sake of transparency. The Supreme Court collegium - a panel of senior most judges that decides on appointments and transfers - has decided that all its recommendations will be put up on the top court's website. The collegium system of judges appointing judges has been strongly criticized by the government, which has often called for transparency and accountability in judicial transfers and appointments. Many eminent jurists have also said that how judges are appointed needs reform because the process lacks transparency. In 2015, parliament cleared a National Judicial Appointments Commission which would include the Law Minister and two eminent persons selected by a separate panel including the Chief Justice, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition. But the new procedure was cancelled by the Supreme Court, which felt the government would have too great a say in deciding judges and the independence of the judiciary would be eroded.


Amit Shah Skips Kerala In Abrupt Sked Change, Meets PM Modi, Arun Jaitley In Delhi
MMNN:5 October 2017

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: BJP chief Amit Shah today skipped a visit to Kerala, opting out of a walk through Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's village as part of the party's 15-day yatra in the state. He flew instead to Delhi from Mangalore this morning for a key meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Mr Jaitley has just returned from an official visit to Bangladesh. Sources said the leaders are expected to discuss the economy and also possibly the Gujarat assembly elections due later this year. PM Modi had in a speech yesterday refuted criticism of the government's handling of the economy and promised steps to reverse the current economic slowdown. He also promised to identify and remove hurdles faced by small traders after the launch of the new national tax GST. Amit Shah's abrupt change of plans meant that state BJP leaders led thousands of party workers through Pinarayi village, roads to which were lined with BJP flags and posters to welcome the BJP chief. The party had said earlier that he would walk nine km and address a public rally today. Senior BJP leaders dismissed speculation that the party chief had decided to skip today's Kerala visit because response to the yatra he launched two days ago has been tepid. There is no question of a poor response, they asserted. In Kerala's Kannur, state BJP chief Kummanem Rajasekheran said Mr Shah's presence was not required as he himself could take the party's fight into Mr Vijayan's home base. Chief Minister Vijayan's party, the CPM, had called for a shutdown of the town, amid massive security, in anticipation of Mr Shah's second visit for the yatra, which aims to highlight what the BJP has called the "murder politics" of the ruling CPM. Party spokespersons confirmed Amit Shah will now only join the BJP yatra when it wraps up in Kerala capital Thirvananthapuram on October 17. The BJP chief had launched the Jan Raksha (protect the people) yatra on Tuesday, with prayers at a Kannur temple and a searing attack on the CPM and the Chief Minister, stating, "More than 84 BJP and RSS workers have been killed in Kannur district alone. I want to ask Pinarayi Vijayan...Who has killed them? If he does not have answers, then I am saying that the chief minister is responsible for the killings." Mr Vijayan hit back accusing the BJP of "trying to break the secularism of the state," and alleged, "Amit Shah came and became like a wet cracker here." He said the state government will "not be scared away by the weapons and wealth you have collected. Nobody should think that you can scare us away."


Honeypreet, Ram Rahim's Aide, Arrested On The Highway Near Chandigarh
MMNN:3 October 2017

Honeypreet Insan, the "adopted daughter" of self-declared guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was arrested today after being hunted for weeks by the police. She was arrested from the highway near Chandigarh by the Haryana police. The 36-year-old had been seen on various media channels since morning, though the police had been unable to track her down. Honeypreet Insan has been charged with sedition and trying to help the Dera Sacha Sauda chief escape after he was sent to jail for rape. She has also been accused of inciting the rioting by mobs of Dera supporters after Ram Rahim was declared guilty on August 25. Thirty-eight people were killed in the violence. She will be produced before a court tomorrow. Hours before her arrest, she told the News 24 channel that she was "devastated and depressed" by the allegations against "Papa" and her. "When Papa went away (was jailed), my world came crashing down," she said. Honeypreet Insan went missing after she accompanied Ram Rahim in a special chopper taking him to a Rohtak jail on August 25. "Have you heard me saying a word where I instigate people? I had gone there (to CBI court in Panchkula) with a hope that my father will return by evening, but when he was held guilty, I went into depression, How could I think about anything else? I was totally devastated," she said. Reacting indignantly to her ex-husband Vishwas Gupta's allegations that her father-daughter relationship with Ram Rahim is fake, she said: "I cannot understand how anyone can point fingers at pious relations that are there between a father and his daughter. What proof do they have? Please don't believe such people." On her vanishing act, Honeypreet said: "Try to understand what my condition was. The woman who used to make patriotic films with her father (Ram Rahim), the woman in whom her father had infused the spirit of patriotism over the years...he goes to jail, which was unthinkable for me. I was completely shaken to hear of sedition charges when I haven't even killed an ant." Honeypreet Insan went on: "I was there with my Papa (Ram Rahim) and discharging my duty as a daughter (on August 25). Every daughter remains with her father, I went with him." She also rubbished the rape charge against Ram Rahim. "We call him 'papa coach'. Crores of women and girls have been empowered by Papaji. You believe two women and not millions others?" Honeypreet, whose real name is Priyanka Taneja, calls herself "Papa's Angel" on social media. She has been by Ram Rahim's side since 2009 and has co-starred with him in five films he made.


Over 50 Dead, 200 Wounded In Las Vegas Shooting, Deadliest In US History
MMNN:2 October 2017

A gunman killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 200 others at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, raining down rapid fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel for several minutes before he was killed by police. The death toll, which police emphasized was preliminary and tentative, would make the attack the deadliest mass shooting in US history, eclipsing last year's massacre of 49 people at an Orlando night club. Thousands of panicked people fled the scene, in some cases trampling one another as law enforcement officers scrambled to locate and kill the gunman. Shocked concertgoers, some with blood on their clothes, wandered the streets after the attack. The suspect was a local Las Vegas man who acted alone and was not believed to be connected to any militant group, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters. The gunman has been identified by the police as Stephen Paddock. The shooter's 62-year-old companion, an Asian-American woman identified as Marilou Danley, has been located, the police added. "We have no idea what his belief system was," Lombardo said. "Right now, we believe he was the sole aggressor and the scene is static." Police had located two cars that belonged to Paddock. They said that rumours of other shootings in the area were false. Las Vegas's casinos, nightclubs and shopping draw some 3.5 million visitors from around the world each year and the area was packed with visitors when the shooting broke out shortly after 10 p.m. (0400 GMT). Witnesses on social media said the shooting broke out on the last night of the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival, a sold-out event attended by thousands and featuring top acts such as Eric Church, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean. The spokeswoman for the University Medical Center hospital said 14 of the wounded were in a critical condition. All had suffered gunshot wounds, she said. US media, including Fox News, reported that Aldean was performing around 10:45 p.m. local time on Sunday when the rampage began but that he had been bundled safely off stage at the event outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in the Nevada gambling mecca. CNN reported all the artists were safe. Lombardo said the gunfire came from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, where the gunman was killed. The gunman, who was a local man, was killed after police "engaged the suspect," Lombardo told reporters. Police said on Twitter that at this time they did not believe there are any more shooters. Toll May Rise Police warned the death toll may rise. "I don't want to give you an accurate number because I don't have it yet," Lombardo said. At least one police officer was hospitalized with critical injuries, Lombardo said. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city, known primarily for its gambling, shopping and entertainment. Video on the festival's website showed stage set up outside the front of the Mandalay Bay. The hotel is near McCarran International Airport, which said on Twitter it had temporarily halted flights after the shooting. Later, the airport said that some flights had resumed. One Twitter user posted that the casino hotel was on lockdown, while another, citing police scanners, said two gunmen who had shot at a bodyguard and police were on the 32nd floor, although there was no confirmation from police. Video clips posted online showed what sounded like automatic weapons as panicked concertgoers fled, dropped to the ground screaming. Witnesses heard numerous gunshots at the hotel, where police tactical teams were searching for the attacker, according to reports on CNN and in the New York Times. Police have disclosed no information that would suggest a motive for the shooting or revealed the identify of the suspect. Even so, the rampage was reminiscent of a mass shooting at a Paris rock concert in November 2015 that killed 89 people, part of a coordinated attack by Islamist militants that left 130 dead. A witness named Christine told CNN both she and her husband had separately taken shooting victims to two hospitals, the University Medical Center and the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. "The shots just kept coming," she said. "Everyone was telling us 'run, run as fast as you can'." Off-duty police were believe to be among the victims, the sheriff said. The concert venue was in an outdoor area known as Las Vegas Village, across the Strip from the Mandalay Bay and the Luxor hotels. The United States has seen a series of deadly mass shootings in recent years. Prior to Orlando, the deadliest occurred in April 2007 when a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech university and in December 2012 a man killed 26 young children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.


22 Dead, Many Injured In Stampede Near Mumbai's Elphinstone Station
MMNN:29 September 2017

Twenty-two were killed and over 30 seriously injured in a rush-hour stampede in Mumbai this morning, when a crowd tried to leave a narrow railway bridge connecting two stations after heavy rain. Heart-wrenching visuals showed a crush of bodies on the bridge, straining against the railing. Screams were heard from those trying to escape the weight of the bodies and some were seen jumping off the bridge. The stampede broke out around 10.30 am on the bridge between the busy Parel and Elphinstone Road stations. According to witnesses, four trains came at the same time and due to the rain, a few commuters slipped, which led to the tragedy. There were more than the usual people on the bridge at the time, waiting for the rain to end. Many were waiting in the rain. There were too many people in a cramped space. When people were trying to rush to their trains, the stampede happened," said railway spokesperson Anil Saxena. Visuals after the incident showed people on the ground, many not moving at all, and attempts to revive them. Passengers and local people were seen carrying bodies down the bridge. Footwear was scattered next to the bridge and rescuers cleared out more from the stairs. The police are investigating reports that a short-circuit with a loud sound near the bridge led to panic and people started running. The incident took place hours before Railway Minister Piyush Goyal arrived to launch new services. "Just landed in Mumbai. Deeply grieved at tragic loss of innocent lives due to an unfortunate stampede at Elphinstone Road foot over bridge," he tweeted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted condolences. The two stations are used by much of Mumbai's local train commuters as there are a large number of offices in the area. Angry commuters and residents said the bridge is too old and narrow and not strong enough to take the busy sector. "It was a disaster waiting to happen," remarked a local resident, saying that the bridge has been overcrowded for years and there have been multiple demands for more railway bridges for the area. "I have been travelling for five-six years. It has always been like this. We have no choice but to use this bridge...where else can we go? No one listens to us," said a woman commuter.


Akhilesh Yadav's Invitation To Father Mulayam At First Meeting In Months
MMNN:28 September 2017

LUCKNOW: Akhilesh Yadav today visited his father Mulayam Singh Yadav at his Lucknow home and invited him to a key meeting next week of the Samajwadi Party, which he now heads after a bitter tussle for power early this year. It is believed to be the first meeting between the two in many months. The Samajwadi Party's national executive will meet in Uttar Pradesh's Agra on October 5. Akhilesh Yadav's visit is seen as a sign that a patch-up could be in the works between the estranged father and son. Another such signal came three days ago, when Mulayam Singh did not, as widely expected, announce a new party. He declared instead that it was Akhilesh who quit the Samajwadi Party and that "He is my son and so has my blessings but I do not agree with his decisions." He recalled that his son had promised to return the post of party chief within three months of the UP elections in March, but that was yet to happen. "A big leader of this country said one who can't honour promises to his father, how can he be there for the people," Mulayam Singh said cuttingly. Akhilesh Yadav merely tweeted in response, "Netaji zindabad, Samajwadi Party zindabad!" Mulayam Singh founded the Samajwadi Party over 25 years ago, but early this year, before assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, was sidelined by his son who was then the state's Chief Minister. Akhilesh Yadav replaced his father as party chief and consigned him to a mentorship role. A bitter Mulayam Singh did not participate in the UP elections, in which his son suffered a massive loss at the hands of the BJP. Relations since then have remained frosty, marked by periodic public takedowns of Akhilesh Yadav by his father. Both Mulayam Singh Yadav and his younger brother and Akhilesh's bitter rival Shivpal Yadav had pointedly stayed away from a recent Samajwadi Party meeting saying they were not invited. They were expected to announce a new party, but that did not happen and Mulayam Singh said, "I am not forming any new party as of now."


Yashwant Sinha Fails Arun Jaitley Big Time, Praises Nitin Gadkari
MMNN:27 September 2017

NEW DELHI: After a complete takedown of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Indian Express today, senior BJP leader and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha spoke to NDTV and expanded on his view that the economy will not recover by 2019 when the next national election is due. The only exception to his targeted missiles was Nitin Gadkari, the Minister for Road Transport and Water Resources. The government "did not try seriously" to remove the bottlenecks which had led to policy paralysis during the previous Congress-led UPA rule, he said. "Big projects remained stalled as except Nitin Gadkari, no other minister took urgent steps to remove the bottlenecks," noted the 84-year-old, whose son Jayant Sinha is a union minister. Describing demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the "two major disruptions that have slowed down the economy", Mr Sinha said GST - pitched as the biggest tax reform since independence - should have been implemented in October instead of July. "The government hurried through GST," he said, sounding a lot like several opposition leaders. Yashwant Sinha also suggested that demand had weakened, making it difficult to revive growth sentiment in the economy. "The economic slowdown has had a negative impact on employment generation as well. It is making it difficult for the Modi government to create jobs as promised." New private investments had not happened as expected, he added In the Indian Express article that has set the cat among the pigeons - titled "I need to speak up now" - Mr Sinha grimly notes what he calls "the mess the Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) has made" of the economy and comments that many are silent out of "fear". "I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now against the mess the Finance Minister has made of the economy. I am also convinced that what I am going to say reflects the sentiments of a large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear," writes the veteran sidelined by the BJP after the Narendra Modi government took charge in 2014. Bluff and bluster is fine for the hustings, it evaporates in the face of reality. The Prime Minister claims that he has seen poverty from close quarters. His Finance Minister is working over-time to make sure that all Indians also see it from equally close quarters." Reacting to the sucker-punch, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: "India's record is well-known across the world. It is one of the fastest growing economies and its role is acknowledged well." The Congress seized on the article to put out a series of I-told-you-so tweets, with Rahul Gandhi sneering: "Ladies & Gentlemen, this is your copilot & FM speaking. Plz fasten your seat belts & take brace position. The wings have fallen off our plane." Mr Sinha broadly paints a bleak picture of the economy: "Private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane, exports have dwindled, sector after sector of the economy is in distress, demonetisation has proved to be an unmitigated economic disaster, a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them and countless millions have lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market."


No baton charge, eve-teasing incident a conspiracy against me: BHU vice chancellor
MMNN:26 September 2017

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) vice chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi said police didn’t baton-charge female students, but only used force to drive away anti-social elements who hurled stones and vandalised the campus on the night of September 23. The vice-chancellor also dubbed the eve-teasing incident as part of a larger conspiracy to instigate female students against him. “I will not tolerate this,” he said. Since the day I took over as vice-chancellor, I have been treating the students, professors and other faculty members of BHU as my own family. However, some anti-social elements couldn’t digest my honest way of working. These people – in association with anti-social elements – hatched this conspiracy against me,” he said. Defending the police in a press statement issued late on Monday, Tripathi said: “There was no baton-charge on any girl on the varsity premises during the intervening night of September 23 and 24. Action has been taken against criminal and anti-social elements who (vandalised) varsity property.” “They tried to create anarchy at the VC residence by pelting it with stones. In the garb of conducting a dharna near the BHU main gate, some anti-social elements tried to paint the statue of Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya black,” he said, adding that such an attempt is “nothing less than sedition Tripathi said that the molestation victim and her friends had called him to say that unknown people were conducting a dharna in front of the gate. “She also said that they were not allowing her or her friends to leave the protest venue. They were, in a way, holding her hostage.” The vice chancellor went on to claim that the victim requested him to visit Triveni hostel to conduct a dialogue on the matter. “So I decided to go there. However, many anti-social elements waylaid me at the gate and began hurling stones as well as petrol bombs,” he said


GST Biggest Economic Reform Since Independence, Says BJP At Big Meet: 10 Points
MMNN:25 September 2017

NEW DELHI: BJP chief Amit Shah this morning thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for resolving the Doklam standoff with China and praised Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj for her speech attacking Pakistan over terrorism at the United Nations General Assembly on the weekend, as he highlighted the BJP government's achievements at a meeting of the party's national executive in Delhi. A resolution adopted at the meeting said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is the biggest economic reform since Independence, union minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet to the BJP National Executive:
1-PM Modi, who is attending the entire day-long meet, will speak this evening and is expected to counter critics of his government's economic policies and address worries over jobs and a slowdown in economic growth, blamed by the opposition on last year's notes ban and what it alleges was a faulty implementation of GST.
2-About 2,500 members of the BJP, including 13 Chief Ministers and all its elected lawmakers - 1,400 legislators and 280 parliamentarians - are attending today's meet, Day 2 of the national executive, at the capital's Talkatora stadium.
3-Amit Shah, in his opening address, attacked Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on dynastic politics in the US last week, saying the BJP believes in the politics of performance while the Congress banks on the"politics of appeasement and dynasty," pointing out that the current president, vice president and PM Modi have reached their positions due to their hard work, despite their humble origins.
4-Mr Shah said the BJP government led by PM Modi demonstrated patience, perseverance and confident politics in its resolution of the Doklam standoff with China. He also praised the government on its handling of Naxalism and terrorism in its three years of rule.
5-The BJP chief cited figures to say that the economy is stronger under the BJP-led NDA government than it was under the previous Congress-led UPA government.
6-PM Modi is expected to highlight his government's pro-poor measures and other policy decisions. He will also highlight, sources said, the government's success in boosting transparency and curbing black money.
7-The Prime Minister's agenda of development will be a key feature. The PM's address is also expected to provide broad guidelines on how the party can revitalise its connect with the people.
8-A political resolution will be adopted with a road map for crucial state elections ahead and then the 2019 national election, party sources said. Strategy for elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year is expected to be discussed.
9-Sources said the party decided to open its convention to the media after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological parent, alerted it about signs of a shift in public mood over the government's performance. Even some of the Sangh's economic fronts have announced a protest in November to flag the BJP-led government's failures.
10-The BJP's national executive is usually a closed-door meeting attended by about 120 top leaders. Today's meeting, however, is being called an "extended" National Executive as the party wraps up year-long celebrations to mark the birth anniversary of its founder Deendayal Upadhyaya. It is also for the first time that the BJP's legislators and lawmakers have been invited for the meet.


PM Modi Meets Deadline For Disclosing Assets, Top Ministers Don't
MMNN:22 September 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has disclosed that he has assets worth Rs. 1,00,13,403. He has shared details on a government website in keeping with a rule he introduced after taking office. The PM ordered that all his ministers must, by August 31 ever year, share their assets and liabilities to illustrate transparency and a commitment to fighting systemic corruption. Out of the 92 ministers in PM Modi's cabinet, only 15 have met the August 31 deadline for disclosure. But this year, only 15 of 92 union ministers have met with the deadline. Among those who have defaulted for this year are Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Maneka Gandhi and Ravi Shankar Prasad. So have Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju. It was, in fact, the Home Ministry that was tasked with coordinating with different ministers to collate the statements of their finances. Ministers are required to provide financial details of their immediate family members as well


Terrorist Dawood Ibrahim 'In Talks' With Centre For His Return, Alleges Raj Thackeray
MMNN:21 September 2017

Raj Thackeray dropped a bombshell today as he claimed that India's most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim is trying to negotiate his return with the central government as "he wants to spend his last days" in his home country. The Maharashtra politician claimed that the ruling BJP wants to bring the don back to score in elections. Dawood is "very sick and crippled", said the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief at a function to mark his Facebook debut. "He is currently in talks for a 'setting' with the government for this and this could happen," he said, commenting that the BJP government would try to take credit for the gangster's return even though he wants to return to India. "It is he (Dawood) who is keen to return... But, the BJP will claim credit for this to win the next elections," Mr Thackeray predicted. Last week, reacting to reporters' questions on the news that Dawood Ibrahim's properties in the UK have been seized, union minister VK Singh had commented that "things are happening". "We will not talk about Dawood at all. Certain things are happening. We can't let the cat be let out of the bag," Mr Singh, the Minister of State for External Affairs, had told reporters in Kerala. Dawood Ibrahim is the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in which 257 were killed. India says there is proof he has been living in Pakistan's Karachi for decades, which has been confirmed by the UN. In more validation of New Delhi's stand that the man it has hunted for over two decades has been sheltered by Pakistan, Britain's list of Financial Sanctions Targets refers to the gangster's three recorded addresses in Karachi.


Part Of Rs. 389-Crore Bihar Dam Crashes Hours Before Launch by Nitish Kumar
MMNN:20 September 2017

PATNA: Hours before its grand launch by Nitish Kumar, a portion of a Rs. 389-crore dam in Bihar crashed during a trial run and left parts of a town in Bhagalpur flooded. The Chief Minister was forced to cancel the inauguration today of the Ganga canal project that was completed after a 40-year delay. Last evening, Mr Kumar's office cited "technical reasons" for dropping the launch of the Bateshwarsthan Ganga Pump Canal Project, which has been set up to irrigate land in Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand. Ads in newspapers had announced that Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan would also be present at the event. The wall of the canal collapsed when water from the river Ganga crashed into it after the pump was switched on for a trial. The water gushed into Kahalgaon village and inundated areas that are part of a thermal power project. The Principal Secretary of the Water Resources department, Arun Kumar Singh, and top Bhagalpur officials are overseeing efforts to drain out water from the submerged areas around 3 km from the canal. "Sandbags are being placed to check the flow of water," Mr Singh told reporters. Experts blame the collapse on the negligence of officials. A joint scheme by Bihar and Jharkhand, the project aims to irrigate 18,620 hectares of land in Bhagalpur and over 4,000 hectares in Jharkhand, a government brochure on the project said. The Planning Commission had originally approved the project in 1977 at an estimated cost of nearly Rs. 14 crore. In a series of tweets, Mr Kumar's former deputy and Lalu Yadav's son Tejashwi Yadav snarked: "One more dam has been sacrificed to corruption...The Water Resources department is a den of corruption...wonder why the Chief Minister is silent on that?" Mr Yadav didn't take names but appeared to be hinting at Mr Lallan, the Water Resources Minister.


Dawood's Brother Was Watching KBC, Eating Biryani When Cops Picked Him Up
MMNN:19 September 2017

THANE, MAHARASHTRA: When Iqbal Ibrahim Kaskar, the brother of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, was picked up from his home in south Mumbai late on Monday, he was busy watching the "Kaun Banega Crorepati" show and eating biryani, Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh said today. Kaskar was picked up from the home of his sister, Haseena Parker, late on Monday by a crack team of the Thane Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) and later placed under arrest. He will be produced before a court later today. "Iqbal Kaskar demanded four flats and Rs. 30 lakh as ransom from a builder. The names of some other builders and politicians have also emerged during the investigation," Mr Singh told reporters. The police are now examining whether the dreaded Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) can be applied to Iqbal Kaskar and his brother Dawood, believed to be in Pakistan. Mr Singh said that Iqbal Kaskar has been running the extortion racket for quite some time and on Monday night the AEC finally arrested him. The police chief said he has threatened and made extortion calls to several builders in Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.


Amit Shah Testifies In Riots Case In Which Maya Kodnani Is Accused Of Murder
MMNN:18 September 2017

BJP president Amit Shah told a Gujarat court today that he had seen Maya Kodnani, a leader of his party, in the state assembly and then at Ahmedabad's Sola Civil Hospital on the morning of February 28, 2002. Mr Shah appeared as a defence witness in a riot case in which Kodnani is accused of murdering 11 Muslims on that day in Naroda Gam, an Ahmedabad suburb. Ms Kodnani, who is a gynaecologist and was a legislator at that time, has pleaded in court that she was not in Naroda Gam when the rioting happened. She has claimed that she was in the state assembly that day and then went straight to the Sola Civil Hospital, where Amit Shah was present. She had sought that Mr Shah, who was a Gujarat legislator too then, testify to help prove her alibi. "Maya Kodnani was inside the state assembly at 8.30 am," Mr Shah told the court today, adding that he had then left the assembly and reached the hospital at about 9:30 or 9:45 am. He said he met Kodnani while leaving the hospital between 11 and 11.15 am and that they were escorted out together, after which they went their separate ways. Asked by lawyers whether he knew where Maya Kodnani was between the time that he saw her at the assembly and in the hospital, Mr Shah said he did not know. He also said he did not know where she went from the hospital. Witnesses have alleged in court that Maya Kodnani led the rioters who attacked Naroda Gam on February 28, 2002. They have said they saw her in the area between 9.30 and 10 am on that day. The judge had said last week that Amit Shah must appear today either in person or assign a lawyer to respond to Kodnani's claim that she was not present when 11 Muslims were killed during the riots in Naroda Gam. Kodnani had complained that she was unable to reach Mr Shah. Maya Kodnani is one of 79 people facing trial in the case. The Supreme Court had last month asked the Ahmedabad court to conclude trial within four months. Naroda Gam is one of nine major 2002 riots cases investigated by a Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court. In another case, Maya Kodnani was found guilty of the massacre of nearly 100 Muslims in a neighbourhood called Naroda Patiya, about 10 km from Naroda Gam, on the same day in 2002. She was sentenced to 28 years in jail, but was granted bail in 2014 after pleading that she is very unwell. Kodnani became Gujarat's Minister for Women and Child Development in 2007 and served in that post till her arrest in 2009.


Ryan school murder: SC notice to Centre, states on plea over safety of students
MMNN:15 September 2017

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the Centre and state governments on a petition seeking comprehensive guidelines and a monitoring process for safety and security in schools. The top court has asked for replies to be filed in three weeks. It has also asked solicitor general to assist the court in the case related to school security. Two lawyers had moved the petition after last week’s murder of an eight-year-old inside the toilet of Ryan International School in Gurgaon. Earlier, a bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, said it has already issued a notice on a similar plea filed by the father of the child, who was killed at the Ryan International School. The Supreme Court earlier had issued notice to the Centre, the Haryana government and the state’s Director General (DG) of Police, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the CBI on a plea seeking a probe by the central agency into the murder of a seven-year-old boy inside the Ryan International School. After this, the CBSE issued a circular mentioning guidelines to be adopted by all schools for ensuring the safety of the students. The CBSE, in its circular, directed schools to install CCTV cameras, ensure police verification of staff and regulate entry of outsiders in school building


Prime Minister Modi On Bullet Train Critics Then And Now
MMNN:14 September 2017

AHMEDABAD: Critics who earlier dismissed the bullet train as "big talk" are now asking what use it is, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi today after inaugurating work on India's first bullet train in collaboration with Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly launched the project in Gujarat's Ahmedabad. "When I was in Gujarat and used to speak about the bullet train, they said Modi only talks of bullet trains in India... They kept asking when will he get it. Now that they see I have actually got the Bullet Train to India, they ask why are you getting a Bullet Train?" the Prime Minister said. "It's a new India which has to fly high," PM Modi said. He said the ambitious project would bring pace to development in the country and that no country can grow if they don't dream big. "To grow one needs to expand his dreams and decide his strength to achieve that," the Prime Minister said. The bullet train is not India's priority," said Congress leader Anand Sharma, adding that the strategic partnership between Japan and India is very important and there are more crucial issues to be discussed. "Our prime minister should not limit it to the photo opportunity and theatrics. There are serious issues on the agenda. Prime Minister Modi has misplaced the priority," Mr Sharma said. Sharp criticism also came from the BJP's Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena, which described the new bullet train project as PM Modi's "expensive dream" alleging that it will "loot the nation of Rs. 1,08,000 crore". Among the problems that the Shiv Sena listed in an article in its magazine the Saamna, is that the bullet train will have eight stops in Gujarat and only four in Maharsahtra. And that Maharashtra will "have to shell out Rs. 30,000 crore" for it. It compared the project to those launched by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress, like the Bhakra-Nangal Dam, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and other schemes, saying, "All those projects were needed by the country. Is the bullet train a project of national importance for which such a huge amount is being spent to cover the 508-km distance at 350-kmph speed?" The bullet train, which is expected to halve the travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, would be a ride for the rich, the Sena alleged, arguing that the money could've been spent to write off loans to distressed farmers. It has also asked why the bullet train project has been speeded up while existing infrastructure for the Railways is yet to be upgraded. The ally has also questioned the timing of the launch, alleging that the bullet train is aimed at giving "something new to the industrialists of Gujarat where elections are coming up shortly." The Congress has asked why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being hosted by the Prime Minister in Gujarat and not in national capital Delhi. "We do not want to transgress propriety by commenting on a state visit but it is rather quixotic that the Prime Minister of a country as important as Japan, who is almost India's strategic partner in many respects, is strangely not even being hosted in Delhi," aid Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, and added that he hoped the visit is not being used for "political purposes" in view of the elections in Gujarat.


Can't Let Cat Out Of Bag': On Dawood Ibrahim, Minister VK Singh's Hint
MMNN:13 September 2017

NEW DELHI: Amid reports that the properties of India's most wanted Dawood Ibrahim have been seized by the UK government, union minister VK Singh commented today that "things are happening" but added: "We can't let the cat out of the bag". Reports say Dawood's properties worth nearly seven billion dollars have been seized by the British government. "We will not talk about Dawood at all. Certain things are happening. We can't let the cat be let out of the bag," Mr Singh told reporters in Kerala. Dawood, the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts in which nearly 260 were killed, appears on UK's latest list of Financial Sanctions Targets. He has been based in Pakistan's Karachi for years. He is listed as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council's ISIS and al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the UK in 2015, had reportedly handed over a dossier on the terrorist and gangster to his then British counterpart David Cameron. According to the British media, Dawood owns a hotel and other residential properties in the country. Known to be one of the richest gangsters in the world, Dawood allegedly has business interests in more than a dozen countries spread over Europe, Africa and South Asia.


Cabinet Nod Soon For Rs. 75,000 Scholarship For Bright Students: HRD Minister Javadekar
MMNN:12 September 2017

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet will soon give its nod to Rs. 75,000 monthly scholarship scheme for bright students in higher education institutes to arrest brain drain and encourage innovation, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar today said. The scholarship, the minister said, is meant for bright sparks at institutes like IITs and universities where required infrastructure is being provided under the Vishwajeet project and Uchchatar Avishkar Yojana. "We are also starting PM Scholarship. I have already signed the Cabinet note. That is under circulations. It will come to the Cabinet very soon," Mr Javadekar said after inaugurating 'Sumant Sinha ReNew Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Energy and Environment' at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here. The minister further said the scholarship will be for the best of the best brains who innovate. "It will be Rs. 75,000 per month scholarship, which would be given to 1,000 students (in higher education institutes and universities). Rs. 75,000 per month (per head) is not a small thing. This is happening first time in India. I want to stop the brain drain," Mr Javadekar asserted. The minister expressed hope that this will further push Make in India and help retain talent in the country. He expressed confidence that the proportion of girl students in IITs will increase to 20 per cent by 2022, from the current 8 per cent. About other initiatives, he said: "We have already started three major things on the Vishwajeet project through other agencies. The Higher Education Financing Agency is already operational. With Rs. 2,000 crore budget support, we are leveraging.... can improve debt market creating Rs. 20,000 crore or USD 3 billion. We want to push research in the higher education system." The rationale behind the CoE is to establish a world-class research and development facility to develop cutting-edge renewable energy solutions. It is expected to foster exchange of ideas among the industry, the academia and policy makers from across the world to promote faster adoption of renewable energy. Besides, it looks to offer research and internship opportunities for undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph.D students in the industry. Developing research reports on renewable energy policy also forms part of the mandate. The CoE is carrying out research in three broad fields - integration of large scale solar rooftop capacity with the electricity distribution network using battery storage technology, strengthening of the transmission grid to accommodate flow of renewable energy and development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Chairman and CEO, ReNew Power, Sumant Sinha told reporters that the CoE would also take up more research projects in addition to the three in-hand projects. Professor V Ramagopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi, said: "The CoE will bring together knowledge and research on clean energy, facilitate clean energy investments, and help deploy clean energy technology solutions to establish India as a rising leader in the world of renewable energy."


Supreme Court To Decide CBI's Appeal Against Karti Chidambaram On September 18
MMNN:11 September 2017

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today fixed on September 18 the appeal of the CBI challenging the Madras High Court order staying government's look out circular against Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, in a corruption case. The FIR lodged by the CBI on May 15 had alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs. 305 crore in 2007 when Karti's father was the Finance Minister. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said that its direction staying the Madras High Court order on lookout circular will remain in force in the meantime and as a result, Karti will not be able to leave India. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Karti, alleged that allegations levelled his client are baseless and challenged the probe agency to bring out the details of any property which the Chidambarams cannot account for. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, vehemently countered the submission and said that the probe was at a very crucial stage and substantial information have been given to the court in a sealed cover. The bench then fixed the matter for final disposal next Monday. On September 1, the CBI had told the top court that there were "good, cogent" reasons for issuing look out circular against Karti. On August 18, the court had asked Karti to appear before the investigating officer at the CBI headquarters here for questioning in the case. The bench had given the probe agency the liberty to question Karti as many times it wanted. Prior to this, the apex court had said that Karti would not be allowed to leave India without subjecting himself to investigation in the case. The court had then stayed the Madras High Court order putting on hold the LOC issued by the Centre against Karti. The CBI had claimed that the FDI proposal of the media house, cleared by Chidambaram, was "fallacious". The FIR was registered on May 15 before the special CBI judge here and the registration of the case was followed by searches at the residences and offices of Karti and his friends on May 16.


Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Objects To UGC Letter On Viewing PM's Speech
MMNN:9 September 2017

KOLKATA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver a special address to the nation on Monday to mark the centenary celebration of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and 125 years of Swami Vivekananda's address at the Chicago World Parliament of Religions. The theme of the event is Young India, New India - A Resurgent Nation: From Sankalp to Siddhi. The speech will be broadcast from the Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi at 10:30 am, and the University Grants Commission or UGC, the apex body for hundreds of varsities across the country, wants all students to listen to the address. The UGC has written to all vice chancellors saying they must "provide an opportunity and facility to teachers and students to view the PM's address", which UGC chairman VS Kaushal says, "could be life changing." But the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is not amused. "This is a clear attempt to saffronise education. They are taking decisions on their own without consulting us," West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said, hours after he was made aware of the letter Friday. Mr Chatterjee also objected to the clubbing together of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, a politician and head of BJP's fountainhead - Bharatiya Jan Sangh - and Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk and philosopher seeking to raise interfaith awareness. Just last month, ahead of August 15, the Mamata Banerjee government had attacked PM Modi for sending out instructions on how to observe Independence Day in schools


Gauri Lankesh Dealt With Naxals, Why Did She Not Have Security, Asks BJP
MMNN:8 September 2017

NEW DELHI: Did the Karnataka government know of Gauri Lankesh's work to rehabilitate Naxals, and if it did, why was she not provided adequate security, union minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad asked today, also attacking Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for declaring RSS ideology guilty without an investigation having even begun into the journalist's murder. Mr Prasad said the BJP condemned Gauri Lankesh's "dastardly killing", but also attacked what he called the "hypocrisy" of liberals. "Why is it that all my liberal friends who speak so eloquently and so strongly against the killing of a journalist, perfectly so entitled to, or even maoists and naxalites, maintain a conspicuous silence when so many RSS workers are killed in Karnataka or BJP workers in Kerala?" the minister said. He asked the Congress government in Karnataka to "honestly investigate, without politics" the murders of BJP and RSS workers in the state. Rahul Gandhi, he said, had made "prejudiced and malafide" comments soon after Gauri Lankesh was shot dead at her Bengaluru home. "Even before the I of investigation could start, great leader Rahul Gandhi who always speaks without any homework, publicly alleged that the RSS and the right wing ideology is responsible... In the light of this unilateral, malafide comment, should we expect a fair investigation by the SIT of a Congress-led government (sic)? Rahul Gandhi had tweeted after Gauri Lankesh was murdered, "Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked & even killed. They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India." Ms Lankesh, a fierce advocate of secularism and a frequent critic of right-wing ideology, was shot dead at pointblank range as she was entering her home after returning from work on Tuesday night. She worked extensively to rehabilitate Maoists as part of her Communal Harmony Forum Her family has said they believe there was no personal motive behind Ms Lankesh's murder and that she was "killed for her views." A day after her death her brother Indrajit Lankesh said Gauri Lankesh had got hate messages from Naxals. Asked yesterday if he suspected that Naxals could be behind her sister's death, he told NDTV, "It might be, it might not be. It might be the right wing extremists or it might be the Maoists because of the background." But Gauri Lankeshs sister Kavitha said she did not see a Naxal link. "I think basically...I would like to say right-wing activism because her own ideology was dead against them. I don't know, I don't know, it is not personal I know. It is basically killing a thought. They wanted to kill a thought, kill a movement. I don't want to pinpoint right now,"


Hotels-for-land scam: Lalu Yadav to appear before CBI on Sept 11, Tejashwi on Sep 12
MMNN:7 September 2017

The CBI on Thursday issued fresh summons to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad and his son Tejashwi in connection with irregularities in awarding the maintenance contract for two IRCTC hotels to a private firm during the former’s tenure as the railway minister. The RJD leader has been asked to appear for questioning at the agency headquarter on September 11 and Tejashwi the next day, agency officials said It is alleged that Yadav as railway minister had handed over the maintenance of two Railways hotels-- BNR Ranchi and BNR Puri-- to Sujata Hotel, a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, after receiving a bribe in the form of three acres of prime plot of land through a benami company. The FIR alleged that Yadav, as a railway minister, abused his official position for extending undue favours to Kochhars and acquired the “high-value premium land” through a benami company Delight. It alleged that Yadav, “dishonestly and fraudulently”, managed the award of leasing out BNRs at Ranchi and Puri to the company of Kochhars in quid pro quo transactions. Reacting to the CBI summon, RJD spokesperson Shakti Singh Yadav that the government was adopting different yardstick in dealing with Prasad and those guilty of swindling public money in the Rs 1,300 crore Srijan government fund transfer scandal in Bihar. He questioned why the Central government did not show the same alacrity in acting against the accused in the Srijan scam. He said there was no point raising brouhaha over a CBI notice to Prasad. The CBI has registered the case against Lalu Yadav, wife Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi, and Sarla Gupta, the wife of former union minister Prem Chand Gupta. Others named as accused in the FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar, both directors of Sujata Hotels and owner of Chanakya Hotel; Delight marketing company, now known as Lara Projects and the then Managing Director P K Goel.


'India Signs 11 Agreements With Myanmar To Bolster Ties
MMNN:6 September 2017

NAYPYIDAW: India and Myanmar today signed 11 agreements in a range of sectors, including one on maritime security cooperation, to further strengthen their multifaceted partnership. The MoUs were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. India and Myanmar signed an MoU to strengthen maritime security cooperation. The two sides also signed an agreement for sharing white shipping information to improve data sharing on non-classified merchant navy ships or cargo ships. The 11 MoUs also include one between the Election Commission and Union Election of Myanmar, the national level electoral commission of Myanmar. An MoU was also signed to organise cultural exchange programme for the period 2017-2020, according to a statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs. The two countries also signed agreements on cooperation between Myanmar Press Council and Press Council of India, extension of agreement on the establishment of India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT skill. They also signed agreements to cooperate in 'Medical Products Regulation' and in the field of health and medicine. An MoU on enhancing the cooperation on upgradation of the women's police training centre at Yamethin in Myanmar was also inked. Prime Minister Modi arrived in Myanmar on the second leg of his two-nation trip during which he travelled to southeastern Chinese city Xiamen where he attended the annual BRICS summit and held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders. This is PM Modi's first bilateral visit to Myanmar. He had visited the country in 2014 to attend the ASEAN-India Summit. Myanmar is one of India's strategic neighbours and shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern states.


'Teachers Have Central Role In Realising New India Dream: PM Modi
MMNN:5 September 2017

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today greeted the teaching community on Teacher's Day and said they had a central role in realising the vision of a new India. The prime minister also paid tribute to former president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan on his birth anniversary today. The day is celebrated in his honour. "On Teachers' day, I salute the teaching community that is devoted to nurturing minds and spreading the joys of education in society. Teachers have a central role in realising our dream of a 'New India' that is driven by cutting edge research and innovation," PM Modi said. He added that the next five years should be about teach to transform, educate to empower and learn to lead. "My tributes to Dr S Radhakrishnan, an outstanding teacher and statesman on his birth anniversary," PM Modi, who is in China for the BRICS summit from where he will be going to Myanmar, said his message.


'Arvind Kejriwal Fined Rs. 5,000 By Court In Arun Jaitley Defamation Case
MMNN:4 September 2017

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today imposed another Rs. 5,000 as cost on Arvind Kejriwal over delay in filing his reply to a fresh Rs. 10 crore defamation suit filed by Union minister Arun Jaitley over use of an objectionable word allegedly by the CM's former lawyer. Joint Registrar Pankaj Gupta directed Mr Kejriwal, who was earlier slapped with Rs. 10,000 as cost, to deposit Rs. 5,000 in the 'Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties'. The cost was imposed after Mr Jaitley's counsel Manik Dogra informed the court that the chief minister's written statement to the suit was filed beyond the time of two weeks granted by this court on July 26. The counsel further submitted that these were delayed tactics on the part of the chief minister. Advocate Rishikesh Kumar, appearing for Mr Kejriwal, urged the court to condone the delay on the ground that the written statement could not be filed due to certain technical objections raised on two occasions by the High Court Registry. Taking note of this submission, the Registrar condoned the delay on behalf of the chief minister and said the same is "subject to deposit of Rs. 5,000 costs." The court has now fixed the matter for October 12. Meanwhile, Mr Kejriwal, in his reply to the defamation suit, filed through advocate Anupam Srivastava submitted that the union minister's suit "is liable to be dismissed as no civil action for damages for slander lies for any statement in pleadings or during the conduct of a suit against a party or a witness in it." The high court had on May 23 sought response of Mr Kejriwal on why defamation proceedings should not be initiated against him. Mr Jaitley had filed the second defamation suit after Mr Kejriwal's then lawyer Ram Jethmalani allegedly "abused" him in open court during proceedings of another defamation suit he had filed against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and five other party functionaries. During the cross-examination of the Union minister on May 17 before the Joint Registrar in the High Court, Mr Jethmalani had allegedly used a term Mr Jaitley had found objectionable. A day after, another high court judge, who was hearing a connected matter, had termed as "scandalous" the remarks allegedly made by Mr Jethmalani against Mr Jaitley before the Joint Registrar


'PM Modi To Pick New Team In Cabinet Rejig Tomorrow: 10 Points
MMNN:2 September 2017

NEW DELHI: More than 10 new ministers will be inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's council of ministers will be sworn in tomorrow morning at 10 am in a big cabinet revamp. Sources says in short while from now the new minsters will start receiving phone calls and they have to be in Delhi by this evening. Since late Thursday night, at least eight ministers, including Uma Bharti, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Sanjeev Balyan, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Kalraj Mishra and Bandaru Dattareya have resigned and sources say that more resignations are expected to make way for new faces.
Here are 10 updates in the story:
1- A new Defence Minister is expected to be appointed as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who took on the extra job after Manohar Parrikar shifted to Goa as Chief Minister, will retain the Finance Ministry and shed off defence portfolio, sources said; he currently handles both key departments.
2- Rail minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to get a new assignment, possibly defence, while his junior minister Manoj Sinha could be elevated in the ministry. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too could get a new ministry.
3- The new team will also have at least two members from the BJP's new partner in Bihar, Nitish Kumar's the Janata Dal United. Ram Chandra Prasad Singh and Santosh Kushwaha are tipped to be ministers.
4- The cabinet reshaping - the third in as many years - has been due for months now, especially in the scenario of vacancies and shifting alliances. Evictions from the cabinet are based only on performance after a review, the sources said, with PM Modi clear he wants ministers who perform and work hard.
5- A performance review of ministers and their rating was reportedly submitted to PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, and it was the reference point when decisions were taken on changes to the cabinet.
6- Sadananda Gowda, who was demoted from Law to Statistics and Programme Implementation in the last reshuffle, and who has not been among the best performers, is unlikely to lose his place in the cabinet because of elections in his state Karnataka next year. Two more BJP leaders from Karnataka could become ministers as the BJP tries to wrest the state back from the Congress. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh could be asked to go, sources said, though he denied any knowledge of an imminent exit.
7- Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti did not deny that she has quit when asked, only saying, "I haven't heard that question, will not hear it and will not answer." Sources said though her ministry's performance on the gigantic Clean Ganga project, was found sub-par but she is likely to be retained in the cabinet.
8- The move is expected to fill key cabinet vacancies and also bring into the council of ministers, leaders from states where elections will be held soon. Bhupendra Yadav, who is the BJP's man in-charge of Gujarat, is among those likely to be made a minister. BJP chief Amit Shah has set a target of winning 150 of the 182 seats in assembly elections due in the state by the end of the year and an A-list central team led by Mr Jaitley will shape election strategy.
9- Prahlad Singh Patel, who is from Madhya Pradesh, another state where elections will be held next year, could also be made a minister. The name of BJP Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra Vinay Sahasrabuddhe who is a party idealogue is doing the rounds as a possible new minister. As is that of Satyapal Singh, former police commissioner of Mumbai who defeated Uttar Pradesh politician Ajit Singh in his bastion Baghpat in the 2014 national election.


'Rabba (God), What's My Fault?' Ram Rahim Kept Saying In Jail
MMNN:1 September 2017

NEW DELHI: When he was taken to a jail in Haryana's Rohtak following his conviction for rape, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the self-appointed spiritual leader, kept muttering - "Rabba (God), mera kya kasoor hai (what is my fault)?" Another prisoner, who is now out on bail, has also said that the Dera Sacha Sauda chief refused to eat proper meals and couldn't sleep the entire night on the first day. "The five days I was in the jail, he didn't eat anything. We just had milk, tea, biscuits," said Swadesh Kirad, who was also at the Sunaria jail. Swadesh Kirad said when two days later, a judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison for raping two followers, Ram Rahim kneeled down and shouted - "Hang me, I don't want to live anymore." He also sat on the floor and wept loudly, refusing to leave the courtroom until he was led out by commandos. Swadesh Kiran said the flashy and controversial Baba would have been attacked by fellow prisoners had he not been kept separately. "Prisoners were angry due to the violence that caused so many deaths. Had he not been kept separately, they would've attacked him." Over 30 people died and nearly 200 wounded in violence by Dera followers after Ram Rahim was declared guilty by a court in Panchkula. He was later flown by a special government chopper to the Rohtak jail. His "adopted daughter" Honeypreet Insan accompanied him. "He couldn't sleep the entire night. Also, there was no VIP treatment to #RamRahimSingh in jail, treated like every prisoner," Swadesh Kirad insisted


Arun Jaitley's Quip, Amit Shah's Meeting With 8 Ministers Fuel Reshuffle Buzz
MMNN:31 Aug 2017

NEW DELHI: Amid strong buzz around a cabinet reshuffle any day now, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was today asked by reporters how long he would continue as Defence Minister. "At least I hope not very long," he replied, chuckling. Mr Jaitley took on the extra job after Manohar Parrikar shifted to Goa as Chief Minister earlier this year. Sources say he is likely to shed one of the two ministries before he leaves next month for Japan, where he is to attend the annual defence ministers' conference. The possibly last major reshuffle before the 2019 national election is expected before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves on Sunday for a Brics summit in China. Amit Shah, the chief of the ruling BJP, has held several meetings over the past few days and today held discussions with eight ministers including Mr Jaitley. "It was about the Gujarat polls, nothing else was discussed," said minister Nirmala Sitaraman. Many expect a change in the Railways Ministry after a series of accidents. For the first time after two derailments within four days, Minister Suresh Prabhu met PM Modi and indicated that he had offered to quit but was "asked to wait". A rejig of the government has been due for months now, especially in the scenario of vacancies and shifting alliances. The ruling BJP may also accommodate leaders like Bhupendra Yadav, the in-charge of Gujarat, with an eye on elections in the state later this year. Two key ministries opened up and were re-alloted after M Venkaiah Naidu was named Vice President of India. The Environment ministry was reassigned as additional charge after the death of minister Anil Dave. The Centre is widely expected to reward Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), which is back to sharing power with the BJP in Bihar after a dramatic break-up with Lalu Yadav's RJD and the Congress in July. Former union minister Praful Patel has denied reports that his NCP or Nationalist Congress Party will join the Modi government. "There is no basis for speculation that the NCP is joining the government in Delhi," Mr Patel tweeted on Monday. Many are not convinced after Sharad Pawar's party has been telegraphing its detachment from the Congress-led opposition. The NCP skipped a meeting of the opposition called by Sonia Gandhi earlier this month, despite Mr Pawar claiming he would depute a representative. It was speculated that Mr Pawar was upset about the Congress suggesting he had betrayed the party in the recent Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat.


Mumbai's Civic Body BMC Lists Priorities For Restoring Rain-Ravaged City
MMNN:30 Aug 2017

MUMBAI: A day after copious rains, the civic authorities have moved to clear roads which have become slushy and strewn with garbage, and are also gearing up to tackle rush of patients in municipal hospitals. Cars and other vehicles left behind by their owners due to flooding of streets, running out of fuel and breakdowns are causing traffic snarls and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is tackling this issue on a priority basis. "Our first and foremost task is to clear the road traffic which is facing hurdles owing to silt and garbage which has got collected on street several places "People have left their cars on roads, so (removing) them is among our first priority," said Sudhir Naik, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, today. The police have taken note of cars and other vehicles left behind and offered free towing service. "If your car is out of fuel/stranded #Diall100 or 8454999999 or tweet us for free towing till the nearest fuel pump or garage #mumbairains," the Mumbai police tweeted. "Then our second priority would be to attend the flow of patients in civic hospitals and dispensaries which usually see a spurt in their number after a spell of heavy rains," he said. Also, the civic personnel are removing trees and branches which have fallen on roads and housing colonies, said the officer. The civic body is making arrangements for 'visarjan' (immersion) of Lord Ganesh idols in the next few days, the officer said. "We are also repairing non-functional pumps installed at critical locations to flush out rainwaters." Leaves of municipal staff have been cancelled and they have been asked to report to their respective work sites, the commissioner said. He said over 25,000 civic staffers reported for work this morning and they have been immediately deployed for various tasks. Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta was present in the BMC's Disaster Management Cell till late last night and reviewed the situation and the civic body's efforts to deal with heavy rains, Mr Naik said. The officer admitted that a few places like Khar, Linking Road and SV Road in Bandra, Parel, Kalina, Hindmata (Dadar) and Sion were still water-logged. However, water level at these places had receded in absence of overnight rain. Meanwhile, traffic jams on roads and subways at Andheri, Santacruz and Khar continued to cause hardships to motorist. Long-distance passengers were a harried lot after some of the trains were cancelled. Savita Kumari, a stranded passenger at LTT, said, "I had to go to Varanasi yesterday but my train was cancelled due to rains. Now I am clueless what to do and I don't know how long can I survive here without food and water." Central and western railways have short-terminated, diverted or cancelled a number of trains due to submergence of tracks and signal failure


Gurmeet Ram Rahim sentencing LIVE: Dera chief gets 10-year jail term for rape, two vehicles set on fire in Sirsa
MMNN:28 Aug 2017

Self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Monday sentenced to 10 years in jail in a rape case. The court slapped a fine of Rs 65,000 on the Dera Sacha Sauda chief. Authorities are on high alert in Punjab and Haryana, as his followers went on the rampage that left 38 dead after his conviction of Friday. Ahead of the Monday’s court proceedings, the two states ordered schools and colleges shut, suspended mobile services, stepped up security and threw a five-tier cordon around a Rohtak jail, where a judge handed out punishment to the Dera chief for raping two disciples 15 years ago. This (sentence) must be accepted by the people and peace must prevail, ANI quotes Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh as saying. “There is total normalcy, our forces are on their toes. Will not let any untoward incident happen Meanwhile, Dera chairperson Vipassana Insaan appealed for peace amid reports that two vehicles have been set on fire in Sirsa, the headquarters of the sect. The 50-year-old Dera Sacha Sauda leader was on Friday found guilty in the 15-year-old case. Within minutes of the verdict, his followers ran riot and clashed with security forces, leaving 38 people dead and 250 injured. While 32 people were killed in Panchkula, where the case was heard, six died in Sirsa, the headquarters of the sect. The medical examination of Ram Rahim Singh is being done. After this, he will be given a jail uniform and will be allotted a cell in jail. Three ambulances are seen entering the jail premises. Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh sentenced to 10 years in jail for rape. Reports of arson from Sirsa’s Phulkan village, located within 1 km radius of Dera headquarters, say sources. Two vehicles reportedly set on fire by dera followers Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh holds security review meeting with DGP, chief secretary and other senior officials Back in Delhi, an official said there were no Metro rail diversions or restrictions. “...these are just rumors to propagate false stories,” ANI quoted Delhi Police PRO Madhur Verma saying. “Delhi Police have made proper arrangements and deployment. Additional forces have been mobilised.” The deployment of undercover policemen to guard sensitive locations across the national capital is among a slew of measures devised at a high-level police meeting to protect the city on Monday. Miscreants had set on fire two train coaches at Anand Vihar railway terminal, torched a few buses in parts of west and east Delhi and pelted stones at least in 12 locations across the city after Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s conviction
Tough talk and assurance
Ahead of the sentencing, the deputy commissioner of Rohtak has said that those creating trouble should expect bullets if they defy warnings. “We will not allow anyone to create any sort of trouble in Rohtak. Anyone breaking law or indulging in acts of violence or arson will himself be responsible for his fate. Anyone creating trouble will be given a warning first and if he still pays no heed, then he will have to face the bullet,” Atul Kumar told reporters in Rohtak, where the army has been kept on standby. Kumar also said people do not have any reason to be afraid as stringent security measures have been taken and the situation in the district was “completely under control”.
Lockdown and high alert
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge Jagdeep Singh, who had on Friday held the Dera chief guilty of rape and criminal intimidation of two female disciples in 2002, will be flown to Rohtak for announcing the sentence. The district jail premises, about 10 km from Rohtak town, has been completely cordoned off by security forces, including para-military forces and Haryana Police. The Army has been kept on stand-by. No movement of people, other than those authorised, will be allowed within a distance of 10km from the prison premises. “We are fully prepared for any situation. The army has been kept on stand-by,” Haryana director general of police (DGP) BS Sandhu said. Rohtak range Inspector General (IG) Navdeep Singh Virk said that 28 companies of para-military forces, along with Haryana Police, have been deployed in Rohtak. Security forces were on high alert again on Monday in Haryana and Punjab as both states braced for the sentencing. Curfew was reimposed in Haryana’s Sirsa town, where the sect’s headquarters are located, on Sunday. The curfew will continue on Monday. The sect has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana


High Court Slams Haryana CM For Alleged 'Political Patronage' To Dera Chief
MMNN:26 Aug 2017

CHANDIGARH: Criticising Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for allegedly "protecting and extending political patronage" to self-styled godman and rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today told the state government to file a case against those who instigated the large-scale violence in parts of Haryana, Punjab and New Delhi. The high court told the state to verify a newspaper report on alleged instigation by leaders of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, and file a police complaint against the instigators "if the reporter stood by his report". A high court bench of Justices SS Saron, Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhingan, in its resumed hearing, asked the state about its plans to sanitise the Dera Sacha Sauda at Sirsa town, some 260 kilometres from Chandigarh, where hundreds of followers are reportedly still inside. Getting tough, the judges criticised Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma for recently granting Rs. 51 lakh to the sect. The judges told the Deputy Commissioners of Punjab and Haryana to provide a list of the sect's properties and not to sell or transfer the assets, besides seeking a report on the violence. A Central Bureau of Investigation court in Haryana's Panchkula town, adjoining Chandigarh, yesterday held Ram Rahim guilty of raping two women followers in 2002, sparking violent protest by his followers. The security forces opened fire to control the mob. Thirty-one people, 29 of them in Panchkula, died while 250 others were injured.


DMK Urges Tamil Nadu Governor To Ask Chief Minister Palaniswami To Prove Majority
MMNN:25 Aug 2017

CHENNAI: The DMK today urged Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to immediately direct Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami to prove his majority in the Assembly in the wake of revolt by 19 AIADMK MLAs, saying any delay could lead to "horse trading". DMK working president and leader of the opposition in assembly MK Stalin, who had earlier this week written to the Governor seeking a floor test, dubbed the Palaniswami regime as a "minority government". In a statement released in Chennai, he also questioned assembly Speaker P Dhanapal's action in issuing notices to the 19 MLAs yesterday on a memorandum by the Government Chief Whip seeking their disqualification for alleged anti-party activities. Mr Stalin said had earlier written to the Governor urging him to immediately ask Mr Palaniswami to prove majority in the assembly. Mr Rao should have immediately convened the assembly to ascertain the government's present strength after the MLAs loyal to sidelined AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran met him and sought Palaniswami's removal on Tuesday, he said. Mr Stalin said the Governor should ensure that Mr Palaniswami does not continue in power by "creating a constitutional crisis and misusing anti-defection law Referring to the Speaker's action, Mr Stalin said the notices had been issued in connection with an episode that did not happen in the assembly. While the Speaker had not acted against present Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerslvam-led faction for voting against the government in the February 18 trust vote as the then rebel faction, he had issued notices to the 19 MLAs from Dhinakaran camp now, the DMK leader said. "It is clear the Speaker has done so to save Palaniswami's minority government. During such times, every day's delay by the Governor in directing a confidence vote will pave the way for horse trading and other political manoeuvres," he alleged. Mr Stalin's remarks come even as the 19 MLAs remained in a resort in Puducherry and have dismissed the disqualification demand as a "planned drama" and "intimidation" tactics. The Dhinakaran camp MLAs raised the banner of revolt a day after the AIADMK factions led by Mr Palaniswami and former chief minister O Panneerselvam merged on August 21.


Ahead Of Ram Rahim Verdict, Court Says Haryana Government Has Failed
MMNN:24 Aug 2017

Barely two kms from where a court will tomorrow declare whether self-styled guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is guilty of rape, formidable groups of his followers have gathered on both sides of the road. The police estimates a lakh all and in this part of the town of Panchkula, it is easily out-numbered. Groups of followers who are called "Premis" gathered on the side of the highway near the court said ''hundreds more of us will come by truck today." Naresh Kumar Insan arrived from Delhi three days back and is staying on the footpath, such is his devotion. There is restricted entry now for Panchkula, a small town in Haryana about 15 kms from Chandigarh. A spokesperson for Ram Rahim's sect, called the Dera Sacha Sauda, says in what seems to be an exaggerated claim that there are at least 20 lakh "premis" in Panchkula for tomorrow's big ruling. As tension swells, their leader has called for peace on Twitter while disclosing that he will appear in person in the courthouse tomorrow. That's likely to throw the crowds into a frenzy. "If that happens, we will ensure that proceedings happen peacefully and there is absolutely no disruption," said BS Sandhu, the top police officer in Haryana. "We intend to seal the entire court premises and shall not allow anybody to enter it, or from nearby." The Punjab and Haryana High Court isn't impressed with the arrangements. It rebuked the Haryana government today for failing to maintain law and order, given the large presence of premis in Panchkula. But clusters of hundreds of premis have already taken position near the courthouse. Sahil Insan, an 18-year-old who travelled by bus from Patiala and then walked 11 kms along with his friends, says the whole point of his journey is to get a glimpse of the 50-year-old guru who has starred in two movies called Messenger of God ('MSG") and its sequel in which he jiu jitsus the bad guys into the air. Ram Rahim's cult of personality includes rhinestone-heavy costumes, some of them in leather, and the odd appearance on a high-end motorbike. He travels largely in a convoy of bullet-proof cars, part of the perks of the Z+ security given to him by the government of Haryana, where his sprawling campus is located in the town of Sirsa. From Sirsa to Panchkula is a five-hour journey by road; many premis we spoke to said their travel was impelled by the need for solidarity at a time when their chief is fighting "fake charges." The case, filed in 2002, accuses Ram Rahim of sexually exploiting two women followers at his ashram; he has denied any wrongdoing. Separately, a court has asked the CBI to investigate whether he encouraged 400 men to undergo castration, promising it would benefit them spiritually. Chandigarh, which has a large prayer centre that doubles up as a major organizational office of the sect, is in total lockdown. Schools and colleges are closed, major roads are being patrolled by the police and buses are being stopped from heading towards Panchkula. Those who have already made it into the town are using the local Ghaggar river to wash; some are cooking on its banks and helping new arrivals to settle in.


Air India chief Ashwani Lohani appointed chairman of Railway Board
MMNN:23 Aug 2017

New Delhi: The appointments committee of the cabinet on Wednesday appointed Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani as chairman, Railway Board. Lohani takes over from A.K. Mittal, whose resignation was accepted by railway minister Suresh Prabhu. Lohani is an officer from the 1980 batch of the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME).
Mittals resignation came as a surprise because the appointments committee of the cabinet had just given him an extension. The extension was cleared by the Prime Ministers Office. The committee had approved Mittals continuation as chairman till he attains the age of 62 in 2018.
A senior government official, on condition of anonymity, said, Appointment of Lohani is a good move and his name was already doing the rounds, especially after his performance in Air India.


Will Win Panaji By-Poll With Better Margin, Says Manohar Parrikar
MMNN:23 Aug 2017

PANAJI: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday expressed confidence of winning the Panaji assembly by-poll with a bigger margin as there was "virtually no opposition" in the contest. He said 98 per cent of his party's voters would be stepping out to cast their ballots. "My lead will increase," Mr Parrikar said. When asked about his chances of winning the Panaji assembly seat for the sixth time, he said, "I can't see any opposition." Asked about putting in more than usual effort in the by-poll campaign, than he and the BJP had in the past, Mr Parrikar replied: "Shouldn't one campaign?" "There were general elections when I would campaign all over Goa. Now we are campaigning only here," Mr Parrikar said, after casting his vote at the Masson de Amorim polling booth. "From my side we'll get 98 per cent... Two per cent may not be able to ...for some technical, medical reason," said Mr Parrikar, who is contesting against Girish Chodankar of the Congress and Anand Shirodkar from the Goa Suraksha Manch. Speaking to reporters here, former state RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, who is the mentor of the Goa Suraksha Manch said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh volunteers would not support Mr Parrikar. "RSS workers will not vote for him and our Anand Shirodkar will win this election, with a small margin," Mr Velingkar said.


Triple Talaq Verdict: Muslim Personal Law Board AIMPLB To Plan Future Action At Bhopal Meet
MMNN:22 Aug 2017

LUCKNOW: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board or AIMPLB will chalk out its future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court's verdict on triple talaq in its working committee meeting slated on September 10 in Bhopal, an official of the body said. The meeting was convened earlier and its agenda was issued yesterday, member of the Board's working committee Zafaryab Jilani said. "The working committee meeting in Bhopal on September 10 will take a decision on the future course of action on today's Supreme Court verdict after studying it in detail," he said. Besides, other issues will also be taken up in the meeting with the verdict being the most prominent one, said Mr Jilani, who is also a senior counsel. He said that the hearing on the Babri mosque case is also on the agenda of the Bhopal meeting. When asked to comment on today's verdict on Triple Talaq, Mr Jilani said it will not be appropriate to comment on the Supreme Court's decision without studying it in detail


Lt Col Purohit, first Army officer arrested for terrorism, claims innocence
MMNN:21 Aug 2017

When Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit was arrested in late 2008, it shocked the country. He was the first Army officer to be arrested on charges of terrorism, accused of being a conspirator in the Malegaon blast. Here are key facts about Purohit, who was given bail on Monday. At around 9.30 pm on September 29, 2008, a bomb kept on a motorcycle exploded near Hamidia Masjid in Malegaon, a communally sensitive textile town in Nasik district of north Maharashtra. Six persons were killed and 101 injured in the blast that was probed initially by the Maharashtra Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and then, taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2011. Purohit, 45, was a member of Abhinav Bharat, a trust formed to promote Hindu values but allegedly was a front to carry out attacks against Muslims. He collected funds to buy arms and explosives for the trust and organised meetings where the Malegaon attack was planned, investigators allege. “Purohit was also accused of floating an organisation by the name of Abhinav Bharat in year 2007 with the intention to propagate a separate Hindu Rashtra with their own constitution with the intent to threaten unity, ­integrity and security of India,” says the NIA’s chargesheet in the Malegaon case . The NIA says Purohit hid his association with Abhinav Bharat, but he claims he was gathering intelligence and his senior officers were aware of his work. “I have said everything before the (Army’s) court of inquiry. I have infiltrated Abhinav Bharat. I can only say that I have done my job properly and kept my bosses in the loop. Everything is in the Army records,” Purohit told Outlook magazine in an interview in July 2012. “Having a particular ideology does not make me a terrorist or anti-national,” said Purohit when he was asked in the interview about allegations that Abhinav Bharat was involved in the Malegaon blast. According to the NIA, Purohit held meetings in Faridabad on January 25 and 26, 2008, where the formation of a Hindu Rashtra was discussed. Purohit allegedly read the constitution of Abhinav Bharat and discussed the formation of a “Central Hindu government in exile in Israel and Thailand. An NDTV profileof Purohit in March 2011 notes Purohit was commissioned into the Maratha Light Infantry after passing out of the Officers’ Training Academy at Chennai. He was serving in Jammu and Kashmir when he fell ill and was medically downgraded. He was then shifted to Military Intelligence. The same NDTV report says Purohit was posted at Deolali in Maharashtra when he allegedly came in contact with Ramesh Upadhyay, a retired Major, and a founder of Abhinav Bharat. Upadhyay too is accused in the Malegaon case.


Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) passes resolution to join NDA
MMNN:19 Aug 2017

The Janata Dal (United) on Saturday passed a resolution to join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during the party’s national executive meeting chaired by leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. The political move that makes the ruling party in Bihar officially an ally of the NDA at the Centre comes weeks after Nitish broke ties with the Grand Alliance parties - Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal - in the state and re-formed the government in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Earlier in the day, JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said that senior leader Sharad Yadav has every right to put forward his points of disagreement with the alliance, but he shouldn’t attend Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s programme as it will break their trust. “Sharad Yadav is invited for the JD(U) national executive meet and he can sort out differences, but he shouldn’t attend Lalu Yadav’s programme. We will lose our faith in him, if he does so. He is one of the founders of the party, therefore, he can put forward his views in the meeting,” Tyagi told the media here. He added that although Sharad Yadav does not agree with party’s decisions, there is no rift in the party. Meanwhile, ahead of the national executive committee meeting of the JD(U), the two factions of the party - one led by Nitish Kumar and the other by former party president Sharad Yadav - put up striking publicity material in Patna, leading up to a poster war in the city. Incidentally, both factions claim to be the “real JD(U)”. The poster put up by Sharad Yadav’s faction showcased him with “Jan Adalat ka Faisla - Mahagathbandhan jari hai (decision of the people’s court - the grand alliance continues)” written on it. The other has Nitish with party leaders - state JD(U) chief Basistha Narayan Singh, RCP Singh and others. “Nitish Kumar hi zindabad (hail only Nitish Kumar),” said the poster. Sharad Yadav was sacked as JD(U)’s Rajya Sabha leader when he made his chagrin against Nitish Kumar snapping ties with the Lalu Yadav-led RJD and forging an alliance with the BJP, to form the next government in Bihar, quite evident. Yadav also asserted that Nitish’s flip-flop, as far as his views on the BJP were concerned, was an insult to the 2015 mandate of the people given to the “Mahagathbandhan” and that he was still a part of the grand alliance in the state. In the aftermath, the Nitish-led JD(U) even suspended 21 party leaders for participating in Yadav’s recent three-day Jan Samwad Yatra, wherein he interacted with the people of the state, indicative of a widening rift in the party. Lalu Yadav had also come out in support of Sharad Yadav, leading up to the Nitish faction, reportedly, warning the latter that if he attended the August 27 “Desh Bachao, BJP Bhagao” rally of the former, he would be sacked from the party. Sharad Yadav will hold a parallel convention in the state under the title ‘Jan Adalat’ later on Saturday.


Not Seeking Power, Positions For Children: Narayana Murthy Responds
MMNN:18 Aug 2017

NEW DELHI: Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, singled out by the board of the software giant for the abrupt resignation of CEO Vishal Sikka, today said he is "anguished" by the allegations and is not seeking money, position for children or power." The 70-year-old reiterated that his chief concern has been "the deteriorating standard of corporate governance". Mr Sikka quit Infosys three years after he became the first non-founder to be named the CEO of Infosys. His resignation comes after a protracted clash with Mr Murthy and other founders over his own pay as well as severance packages provided to top executives. The board has promoted Chief Operating Officer U.B. Pravin Rao as the interim CEO till a replacement is named. A recent letter by Mr Murthy which allegedly attacked the integrity of the board was named by the company in its statement on Mr Sikka's exit. "Murthy's continuous assault, including his latest letter, is the primary reason for the resignation of Sikka despite strong Board support," said the IT major in a statement after it accepted Mr Sikka's resignation and appointed him as Vice-Chairman till the new Chief Executive is appointed by March 31, 2018. "Murthy's letter contains factual inaccuracies, already disproved rumours, and statements extracted out of context from his conversations with Board members," asserted the company. Mr Sikka has blamed "unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks" for his decision.


Uttar Pradesh Police Detain Akhilesh Yadav On Way To Attend Protest Rally
MMNN:17 Aug 2017

UNNAO: Akhilesh Yadav was today detained by the police in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district when he was on his way to Auraiya to attend a protest rally. The Samajwadi Party or SP president, who was later released and allowed to go to Lucknow, attacked the Yogi Adityanath government in the state alleging that it was misusing state machinery. The former chief minister was stopped near an under-construction toll plaza in the Hasanganj police station area on the Lucknow-Agra expressway and taken to the agriculture research centre in Dhaurhara from where he was allowed to return to Lucknow, Circle Officer Dhirendra Kumar Singh said. "I was going to Auriaya to meet my party workers who were subjected to barbaric police action. The state government wants to win the zila panchayat post by misusing official machinery. My workers did not do anything wrong in Auraiya," Mr Yadav said. "This dictatorial attitude with the help of police will not be tolerated. The BJP is only doing politics over cow," he added. On a question about the tragic death of several children in a state-run hospital in Gorakhpur, he said it was a result of the government's failure. Yesterday, the police had detained some senior SP leaders after workers allegedly turned violent at not being allowed to accompany their candidate for the zila panchayat chairperson's post to the nomination room in the Auraiya collectorate.


Supreme Court stays HC order that put on hold lookout circular against Karti Chidambaram
MMNN:14 Aug 2017

The Supreme Court stayed on Monday the Madras high court order that had put on hold the lookout circular issued by the Centre against Karti Chidambaram, son of former minister P Chidambaram, and others in connection with an alleged corruption case. A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and D Y Chandrachud also issued notice to Karti Chidambaram and others on an appeal filed by the Centre challenging the high court’s order staying the look out circular. The bench, during the hearing, repeatedly observed that Karti had not joined the investigation in the case and, moreover, he has not sought grant of anticipatory bail in the matter. The bench, meanwhile, asked the high court to decide the petition seeking quashing of the FIR lodged by the CBI. The case is related to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds when Karti’s father was the Union finance minister in 2007. The CBI had claimed that the FDI proposal of the media house was “fallacious”, but Chidambaram had cleared it. The FIR dated May 15 was registered before the special CBI judge in Delhi. It was followed by searches at the residences and offices of Karti and his friends on May 16.


Chandigarh stalking: Vikas Barala, friend sent to judicial custody till Aug 25
MMNN:12 Aug 2017

The main accused in Chandigarh stalking case Vikas Barala, son of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Haryana unit president Subhash Barala, and his friend Ashish Kumar were sent to judicial custody till August 25 on Saturday. On August 5, Barala and Kumar were arrested on charges of stalking and harassing IAS officer’s daughter Varnika Kundu in Chandigarh. But he was granted bail on the same day. The two appeared before duty magistrate Gaurav Datta at the Chandigarh district court on Saturday. The police cops submitted an application asking for their judicial remand for 14 days. The court allowed the application and the two will now be produced in court on August 24. After massive outrage on streets and in the Parliament, the accused appeared before a Chandigarh court on Thursday. The two, were then remanded in two-day police custody and charged with bid to kidnap the 29-year-old woman. However, the accused have denied before police that they either stalked or made any bid to kidnap her. They, however, have admitted that they were in a car seen in the CCTV footage procured for the case. Confronted with the footage, Barala recently also admitted he was driving the vehicle and that he - along with Kumar - had consumed beer before hitting the road when Kundu was allegedly stalked.


PM Narendra Modi Welcomes 'Farmer's Son' Venkaiah Naidu to High Post, Congress Defensive
MMNN:11 Aug 2017

Welcoming M Venkaiah Naidu, India's new Vice President as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning noted that "people from a humble, rural background today occupy the highest positions in India." It showed the "maturity of Indian democracy and the strength of India's Constitution," said PM Modi, who sold tea at a stall in Gujarat when he was a young boy. He talked of how Mr Naidu, a farmer's son, rose to hold top positions in government, always in touch with his roots. "I always felt that he touched more on villages and farmers ...with a greater interest...it has been close to his heart." Mr Naidu, the Prime Minister said, had risen from the grassroots and would lead Indian polity to greater heights, PM Modi said. The inference was not lost on the Congress, for decades led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. "Rich and poor is not the question," said the party's Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House. There were many people, he said, in high posts who came from families of limited means, but added, "salute the society who made this possible but also those who were rich back then. Jawaharlal Nehru was a big lawyer; by today's standards he might have been earning up to 10 crore a day. Gandhiji had a good family background, that is why he reached South Africa. But people like these sacrificed everything for the nation." The Congress leader then reeled off a string of names of leaders who he said "were well-off but sacrificed everything and gave us a nation where anybody can be the President, Vice-President, Army Chief. " Mr Naidu, 68, walked into the Rajya Sabha today to loud cheers and a standing ovation. He was elected earlier this month as Vice President, defeating former West Bengal Governor Gopal Gandhi who was fielded by a joint opposition. A seasoned parliamentarian, Mr Naidu was, till he resigned to contest the vice presidential election, a senior Union Minister. He has also served as the BJP's president. PM Modi, who welcomed Mr Naidu as soon as the Upper House convened today, the last day of the monsoon session, said "Mr Venkaiah Naidu is the first Vice President to be born in Independent India. He is the the only VP according to me who has been for years in this (Parliament) complex, among all these people. He is acquainted with all nitty-gritties of all procedures and functions of the House." Ghulam Nabi Azad too referred to Mr Naidu's experience as a parliamentarian and hoped that "the legacy of not allowing any Bill to be passed in a jiffy will continue." "You as an MP and a minister have been witness to a custom, that everybody has the freedom to express themselves here. This is the forum given to us by our Constitution... MLAs are elected by crores and they send us here...So this House has a dual responsibility, towards the public and the state legislatures," the Congress leaders said. The Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav said bills must not be passed amid shouting and chaos, and wished Mr Naidu luck saying, "Hope after Vice President you will move to the next top post," referring to post of President of India.


Fear, unease growing among Muslims in India, says outgoing vice president Hamid Ansari
MMNN:10 Aug 2017

In his parting interview to Rajya Sabha TV, vice president Hamid Ansari ruled out possibilities of Indian Muslims getting influenced by ISI and such other elements but mentioned that it would be a correct assessment to say that the Muslim community is feeling insecure. A feeling of unease and insecurity is creeping in among Muslims in India, vice president Hamid Ansari said, joining a growing number of leaders who have expressed concerns over attacks on minorities. Ansari, who completed two terms as vice president on Thursday, said that there is a breakdown of Indian values and of the abilities among authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work. “Overall, the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought,” he said in his parting interview to Rajya Sabha TV, released on Thursday On Wednesday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi raised similar concerns during a speech in Parliament where she urged people to not let “dark forces” diminish India’s core values. Neither Ansari nor Gandhi named any party or individual in particular, but their statements can be seen to allude to the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which the Congress party and other opposition outfits often accuse of pandering to right-wing Hindu ideologies. Ansari was a member of the Congress before being nominated Vice President in 2007. In his interview, Ansari said that he shared his apprehensions to the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers, but refused to divulge details of their interaction on the plank that “what passes between the vice president and the Prime Minister in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged conversation.” Ansari was asked a question on his lecture at the National Law School in Bengaluru earlier this month where he said rejuvenating secularism’s basic principles was becoming a challenge. “Yes, it is a correct assessment. From all I hear from different quarters, the country. I heard the same thing in Bengaluru, I have heard from other parts of the country, I hear more about in north India. There is a feeling of unease, a sense of insecurity is creeping in,” he told journalist Karan Thapar during the interview after being asked to reflect on his statement in Bengaluru. The outgoing vice president also ruled out the possibility of Indian Muslims being influenced by militant outfits. Ansari, the only two-term vice president after S Radhakrishnan, also voice advice for Muslim community. “Do not create for one self or one’s fellow beings an imaginary situation which is centuries back, when things were very different. I mean the whole idea was that what are the challenges today... The challenges today are challenges of development, what are the requirements for development; you keep up with the times, educate yourself, and compete...” He said the issue of Triple Talaq is a social aberration and the reform has to come from within the community. “The religious requirement is crystal clear, emphatic, there are no two views about it but patriarchy, social customs has all crept into it to create a situation which is highly undesirable.” Former union minister Venkaiah Naidu has been elected as his successor and Ansari thinks that the nature of the job (chairman of Rajya Sabha) will dictate the response and there is no reason why the Opposition will not get a fair deal under Naidu’s chairmanship.


Parliament Live: Rajya Sabha resumes after adjourning again over MPs protesting BJP
MMNN:9 Aug 2017

Parliament began its Wednesday session with a commemorative discussion on the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement in Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoed Mahatma Gandhi’s “Karenge ya marenge” (do or die) slogan, saying India needs to tackle its challenges of poverty, lack of education and malnutrition. Congress president Sonia Gandhi recalled the Quit India Movement struggle and added that secularism and free speech are in danger today. The lower house was expected to introduce the National Sports University Bill, while it will also consider the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill, the State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill and the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill. The Rajya Sabha is expected to take up for consideration the Indian Institutes of Management Bill. MPs still argue about which to take first – opposition’s currency issue or the NDA’s Banking Ordinance. Few MPs ask to not pass the Banking Ordinance without discussion


‘Sultanate gone, but we behave like sultans’: Jairam Ramesh admits Congress in deep crisis
MMNN:8 Aug 2017

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said it was wrong for the Congress party to think that anti-incumbency will work automatically against the Modi-led government in the states being ruled by the BJP in the elections The Congress is facing an “existential crisis”, senior party leader Jairam Ramesh on Monday said, pitching for “a collective effort” by party leaders to “overcome” the challenges it faced from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. Ramesh also said that business as usual approach will not work against Modi and Shah and advocated for a flexibility in approach to make Congress relevant. “Yes, the Congress party is facing a very serious crisis,” Ramesh told PTI in an interview. He said the Congress had faced “electoral crisis” from 1996 to 2004 when it was out of power. The party had also faced “electoral crisis” in 1977 when it lost the elections held soon after the emergency. “But today, I would say that the Congress is facing an existential crisis. It is not an electoral crisis. The party really is in deep crisis,” he said, when asked whether the threat of “poaching” of MLAs posed by the BJP in Gujarat had forced the party to transport its MLAs to Karnataka to ensure party leader Ahmed Patel’s victory in the Rajya Sabha polls. He, however, justified the Gujarat Congress’s decision to send 44 of its MLAs to a resort in party-ruled Karnataka on July 29 to fend off the alleged “poaching” attempts by BJP, saying the saffron party had also “transported” MLAs in the past. He said it was wrong for the Congress party to think that anti-incumbency will work automatically against the Modi-led government in the states being ruled by the BJP in the elections. “We have to understand we are up against Mr Modi, Mr Shah. And they think differently, they act differently, and if we are not flexible in our approach, we will become irrelevant, frankly,” the Congress leader said. He said the Congress party must also recognise that India has changed. “Old slogans don’t work, old formulas don’t work, old mantras don’t work. India has changed, the Congress party has to change,” he said. The former union minister hoped that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi would end the uncertainty over his taking over as the Congress president to make the party ready for crucial electoral battles in key states in 2018 and the Lok Sabha polls scheduled a year later. “I think in all probability, Rahul Gandhi will take charge (as Congress president) before the end of 2017,” he said. The senior leader lamented that he had been proved wrong in the past about his prediction about Rahul’s assuming charge of the top party job. “I thought it will happen in 2015, it didn’t happen. I thought it will happen in 2016, it didn’t happen. So I am the wrong person to ask this question. I feel that it may happen before the end of 2017,” Ramesh said. He said he had “no” indication about appointment of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president. “I have only expectation. That’s all. In 2018 and 2019 you will be busy with elections. State elections, national elections...and this type of thing ...uncertainty is not good,” and urged the Gandhi scion to “finish it off.” Asked if there is anyone in the Congress party to give a strong challenge to Modi in 2019 elections, Ramesh said, “I have always maintained that it is the collective strength of the Congress that will overcome Mr Modi not some individual magic wand”. “It has to be a collective effort,” he said. Ramesh took a potshots at party leaders who still behave as if the party is still in power. “The sultanate has gone, but we behave as if we are sultans still. We have to completely redo the way of thinking, the way of acting, the way of projecting, the way of communicating. “I think there is a lot of goodwill for the Congress, a lot of support for the Congress but people want to see a new Congress. They don’t want to see old mantras, old slogans. We must recognise this is a big challenge. Huge challenge for us,” he said. He said Nitish Kumar’s return to the Indian fold was a big setback for anti-BJP coalition in the country, describing it as a “completely betrayal of the mandate” given to the Mahagathbandhan by the people of Bihar. Ramesh, who shares a personal rapport with Kumar, said, “personally, I was aghast, astonished, deeply disappointed, but we have to move on and we don’t have time.” Ramesh, representing Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha, expressed hope that the “revival” of Congress will happen in Karnataka next year as it had happened 40 years ago in 1978 in Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat in the state which gave political rebirth to Indira Gandhi who faced defeat in Rae Bareli in the elections held after the Emergency.


Dialogue and debate, Asia’s oldest traditions, needed to resolve conflicts: Modi
MMNN:5 Aug 2017

PM Narendra Modi said the ancient Indian concept of “Tarka Shastra” (debate) is founded on dialogue and debate as the model for exchange of views and avoidance of conflict Dialogue is the only way to cut through deep-rooted religious stereotypes and prejudices that divide communities across the world and sow seeds of conflict between nations and societies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday. “As the inter-connected and inter-dependent world of 21st century battles a number of global challenges, from terrorism to climate change, I am confident that the solutions will be found through Asia’s oldest traditions of dialogue and debate,” he said. Modi said he is a “product of the ancient Indian tradition that firmly believes in dialogue on difficult issues.” He stated this in a video message to the 2nd edition of ‘Samvad- Global Initiative on Conflict Avoidance and Environment Consciousness’ being held in Yangon. The prime minister said the ancient Indian concept of “Tarka Shastra” (debate) is founded on dialogue and debate as the model for exchange of views and avoidance of conflict It is only natural that the search for answers be led by the humanity’s longest traditions of thought, rooted in various religions, civilizations, and multiple streams of spirituality, he said. Giving examples of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Buddha and Bhakta Prahlada, he said the purpose of each of their actions was to uphold ‘dharma’ (duty), which has sustained Indians from ancient to modern times. Talking about the environment, he said man must relate to nature and revere it and not merely consider it a resource to be exploited. If man does not nurture nature, then nature reacts in the form of climate change, he said. Environmental laws and regulations, while essential in any modern society, afford only an inferior protection to nature, he added, calling for “harmonious environmental consciousness.


For the first time, BJP is largest party in Rajya Sabha; Cong pushed to second spot
MMNN:4 Aug 2017

It is also the first time that the Congress – the grand old party of India – has been pushed to the second spot in the Upper House, reflecting the downswing in its fortunes across the country For the first time ever, the ruling BJP has become the largest party in the Rajya Sabha and is set to add a few more to its tally next year, potentially giving the ruling NDA a chance to push through key legislations in the Upper House. It is also the first time that the Congress – the grand old party of India – has been pushed to the second spot in the Upper House, reflecting the downswing in its fortunes across the country. Madhya Pradesh tribal leader Sampathiya Uikey took oath as a Rajya Sabha member on Thursday, taking the number of BJP lawmakers to 58, one more than the Congress. The BJP already has a brute majority in the Lok Sabha after the party’s stunning success in the 2014 Lok Sabha seat. The BJP also is in power in 18 states, either on its own or in alliance with other parties The Congress’ power base is now reduced to just six out of 29 states. Even during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s tenure, the BJP was mostly below 50 seats in the Upper House. Though the BJP-led NDA is still far short of the majority mark in the 245-member Rajya Sabha, it is likely to change from mid-2018 when it might hope to outnumber the opposition grouping with help from friendly parties. In April next year, 57 Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant. Of the 10 seats falling vacant from Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is expected to get as many as nine, a gain of eight seats for the ruling party. It will also reap rich harvest in other states, such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Haryana, where the party is in power While the Modi government may not get a majority in the Rajya Sabha during its current tenure, it is likely to have enough numbers to overcome the opposition with support from like-minded parties including Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), who revived an old alliance with the BJP this month.


Income Tax raids continue at Congress minister DK Shivakumar’s properties
MMNN:3 Aug 2017

Sources said cash was recovered from the operation, but the value was still to be determined. Officially, the department has not said if it retrieved any money. Income Tax department officials continued for the second day on Thursday their raids on properties linked to Karnataka energy minister DK Shivakumar, who is in charge of hosting Congress MLAs from Gujarat shifted outside to avoid a break in their ranks. Officials said 39 locations in Karnataka were being searched, in addition to some in Chennai and Delhi. IANS identified the Delhi properties to be located in Safdarjung and RK Puram. According to sources, cash was recovered since the searches began at 7am on Wednesday, but there was no indication of the value. The department has not officially confirmed if it retrieved cash. The raids on Shivakumar escalated into a political confrontation between his Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress raised the issue in parliament, forcing multiple adjournments in the upper house, and the BJP of carrying out “an unprecedented witch-hunt”. The Congress legislators taken to Karnataka are crucial for the party’s prospects in a close Rajya Sabha election scheduled next week in which Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi, is seeking re-election. The party saw a string of defections from its Gujarat cadre, prompting it to accuse the BJP of using money and muscle power to gain an advantage in the RS polls. The raids on Shivakumar triggered protests by Congress members. On Wednesday, youth Congress leaders protested near Shivakumar’s residence in Bengaluru and outside the I-T office in Mangaluru. Senior Congress leaders in the state were quick to condemn the raids, especially the use of paramilitary forces at the residence of the minister. “I-T raids targeting energy minister D K Shivakumar is completely politically motivated and central government’s role behind it is well known,” chief minister Siddaramaiah said in a statement. He said, “It is not right on the part of central government to use I-T department for its political conspiracies. We will not bow down to such intimidation.”


Note ban had positive impact on incidents of violence, stone-pelting in J-K: Govt
MMNN:2 Aug 2017

Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir has been sponsored from across the border. The demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes had a “significant positive impact” on most “theatres of violence” in the country, including stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday. Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said since illegally held cash forms a major chunk of terror funding, after the Centre’s note-ban decision on November last, most of the cash held by terrorists turned worthless. He said demonetisation led to instant extinguishment of Pak-printed high quality fake Indian currency notes and also adversely affected the hawala operators. “As per reports of agencies, the demonetisation of bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations resulted in significant positive impact on most theatres of violence in the country including stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir,” Ahir said in reply to a question. The minister said the demonetisation caused disconcert among the Maoists, who tried to minimise their losses by having the money deposited in the accounts of sympathisers or of simple villagers on the basis of coercion. Replying to another question, Ahir said terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir has been sponsored from across the border. Giving statistics, he said in 2017 up to July 23, there were 184 incidents of violence in Jammu and Kashmir in which 109 terrorists, 38 security personnel and 19 civilians were killed. During the same period in 2016, there were 155 incidents of violence in the state in which 86 terrorists, 31 security personnel and five civilians were killed, Ahir said.


‘Our Gujarat MLAs threatened by cops, offered bribe ahead of RS polls: Congress in Parliament
MMNN:31 July 2017

The Congress has accused the BJP of threatening and trying to “buy” MLAs in Gujarat ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha election Opposition Congress on Monday forced a brief adjournment of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, alleging the Gujarat police abducted and threatened its MLAs in the state in order to influence their votes in the upcoming elections to the Upper House. Congress members marched to the Well of the House, raising anti-government slogans, which were matched by counter-sloganeering by the Bharatiya Janata Party benches. Amid the pandemonium, deputy chairman PJ Kurien adjourned the proceedings for 10 minutes during the Zero Hour soon after it met in the morning. Raising the issue, Congress’ Madhusudhan Mistry alleged his party’s legislators were being “kidnapped” and offered a bribe of “Rs 10-15 crore” in order to influence their vote in the August 8 elections to send three members from the BJP-ruled western state to the Rajya Sabha. The BJP has fielded three members, including party president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and a rebel Congress MLA Balwantsinh Rajput for the election. Ahmed Patel, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political adviser, is seeking a re-election for the fifth time from the state. The saffron party has rejected the Congress’ charge and countered tongue and cheek whether the rival lawmakers were “purchasable”. Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Kurien said he was not allowing Mistry’s notice under rule 267 seeking setting aside of the business to take up the issue as the same matter was raised on Friday as well. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi charged the Congress with “kidnapping” its own MLAs and lodging them in a holiday resort in Karnataka at a time when the people of Gujarat were facing miseries after flash floods. “You should be ashamed,” he said, daring the Congress party to debate the matter in the House. As slogan-shouting Congress members entered the Well, some BJP members moved into the aisles and raised counter slogans. Kurien said he was forced to adjourn the proceedings on Friday as well after members from both the sides came into the Well. He said he has heard Naqvi say the government was ready for a discussion. “If you want discussion, give separate notice. We will consider it,” he said. Congress members were unmoved but that did not prevent Kurien from calling members to raise their Zero Hour mentions. “If you have something against the government, why do you obstruct other members,” Kurien said adding that Zero Hour was members’ business and their rights are being obstructed. “By slogan shouting, you will achieve nothing,” he added. In the melee, AIADMK’s AK Selvaraj raised the issue of hydrocarbon exploration in Tamil Nadu and asked the government to cease all such activities as it would impact ground water table and crops. His colleague S Muthukaruppan sought the government’s intervention for the release of 75 Tamil fishermen and their fishing boats from Sri Lankan captivity. But Congress members remained unrelenting and continued to raise slogans, forcing Kurien to adjourn the proceedings for 10 minutes. In the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue, saying: “The Congress MLAs are being put under pressure.” Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia too alleged that each of the Congress MLAs in Gujarat was offered Rs 15 crore in return for supporting the BJP. Both Kharge and Scindia wanted a discussion on the issue in the House. However, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected the demand, saying it was a subject relating to a state and cannot be discussed in the House. The Congress flew most of its Gujarat MLAs to Karnataka, which it rules, after six of its 57 lawmakers in the Gujarat assembly resigned on Friday and Saturday. The defectors are believed to be close to former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, who quit the Congress on June 21, his 77th birthday, alleging some party leaders were conspiring against him. The defections reduced the party’s strength in the assembly to 51, but Patel still has the numbers to sail through. Patel will need the votes of 45 lawmakers. The party hopes two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) lawmakers will vote for him. Besides, rebel BJP lawmaker Nalin Kotadiya could switch sides. Congress strategists fear more desertions, considering that 11 party MLAs allegedly cross-voted for the BJP-led NDA candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, in the July 17 presidential election. But with each resignation, the number of required votes for Patel will go down too.


‘Terrorists wear Pathan suits’: How tribunal justified bail for Machil soldiers
MMNN:29 July 2017

The so-called Machil encounter saw three men - Shazad Khan (27), Shafi Lone (19) and Riyaz Lone (20) –killed in a staged shooting in the early hours of April 30, 2010 at Sona Pindi in Machil sector of the LoC. Wearing a Pathan suit in Kashmir can be dangerous, so much so that one can be taken for a terrorist and killed by security forces. A military tribunal, which granted bail this week to five army soldiers convicted of killing three people in a staged shooting in 2010, said it believed the dead were terrorists because they wore Pathan suits. In its bail order, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), said, “The fact that the accused persons were terrorists… cannot be ruled out because they were wearing Pathan suits which are worn by terrorists.” The flowing Pathan or Pathani suit is a common men’s clothing across Kashmir. HT has a copy of the order. The extra-judicial shooting came to be known as the Machil fake encounter in which three civilians were killed in cold blood by soldiers looking to collect a bounty on militants. Subsequently, an army court sentenced six soldiers, including a colonel, to life in jail but five of them went into appeal before the AFT in New Delhi. The AFT also said they believed the three young men killed were not civilians because they had ventured too close to the de facto border between India and Pakistan, which is often used by militants to travel between the two countries. “There was absolutely no justification for a civilian to be present at such a forward formation near LoC, that too during the night when infiltration from across the border was high,” the AFT bench said, referring to the heavily militarised de facto boundary or the Line of Control (LoC). The tribunal is being presided over by Justice V K Shaili and Lt General SK Singh In granting bail to the five soldiers, the court also imputed motive behind a delay in filing of a police complaint by the parents of the dead men. The bench said, “Complaint was belatedly filed only to garner some sympathy or getting material monetary compensation on account of the alleged killing of their child.” The so-called Machil encounter saw three men - Shazad Khan (27), Shafi Lone (19) and Riyaz Lone (20) –killed in a staged shooting in the early hours of April 30, 2010 at Sona Pindi in Machil sector of the LoC. Later, investigations found the three were lured with the promise of jobs to an army camp in Kupwara where they were shot dead by soldiers looking to claim a reward for killing militants. The bodies were buried in a local graveyard. The staged gun battle was later exposed by the state police after the families of the victims filed a missing report. A subsequent army inquiry also upheld the police findings and court-martialed the soldiers. The Machil killings triggered a cycle of violent street protests in Kashmir that left more than 100 people dead that year. It was also the first time in Kashmir that army personnel, including a colonel, were given life terms for extra-judicial killings. The bench also questioned why three civilians would be in “combat Pathan fatigue with ammunition belts around their waists and carry firearms”. “If a person is a civilian, he would certainly not be in combat uniform, much less he would carry fire arms and ammunition with him,” the bench concluded in its bail order.


SC dismisses abortion plea for 10-year-old rape survivor who is 32 weeks pregnant
MMNN:28 July 2017

The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking its nod for terminating the 32-week-old pregnancy of a 10-year-old rape survivor after taking note of a medical report that abortion was neither good for the girl nor for the foetus. A bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the report of the medical board set up by PGI (Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research) Chandigarh to examine the rape survivor and the consequences if the termination of pregnancy was allowed. The bench expressed satisfaction over the medical care being provided to the rape survivor at present and dismissed the plea seeking abortion. The bench asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who was present in the court room, to consider its suggestion to set up a permanent medical board in every state to take a prompt decision on prospects of early abortion in view of the fact that such cases are reaching the apex court in a big way. The PIL was filed after a Chandigarh district court on July 18 refused to let the girl undergo the abortion. Courts allow medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and can make an exception if the foetus is genetically abnormal. The petition, filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, has sought appropriate guidelines be framed by the top court to set up a permanent medical board in each district of the country for expedient termination of pregnancies in exceptional cases involving child rape survivors under the best-possible medical facilities.


Bihar game of thrones: Nitish Kumar’s journey from Modi-baiter to BJP ally
MMNN:27 July 2017

Nitish Kumar has been a pivotal figure in Bihar politics even before he became the chief minister for the first time in 2000, a short term that lasted merely barely a week in a hung assembly. Since then, he has been in charge for many years, growing in stature and even being seen as the opposition’s challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. But four years after challenging Modi, political compulsions forced Nitish to take the support of the same BJP to stay in power. A timeline of Nitish Kumar’s political journey... 1994 February: Internal revolt in ruling Janata Dal in Bihar. Nitish Kumar joins the faction opposed to then chief minister Lalu Prasad. “We seek our rightful share, not charity, a government that ignores our interests cannot be allowed to remain in power,” he says. June: Nitish quits Janata Dal and floats Samta Party with George Fernandes. 2000 March 3: Nitish becomes chief minister for the first time after assembly elections throw up a hung house. But he lasts only till March 10, barely a week 2003 October 30: Janata Dal, led by Sharad Yadav, merges with Samta Party, forming Janata Dal (United). 2005 November 24: CM Nitish’s begins second term that lasts till November 24, 2010. Ahead of taking charge, Nitish says: “People are anxious for a change and would throw Lalu out forever…” 2010 November 26: Returns to power for third term. 2013 June 16: Breaks alliance with BJP after BJP names Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He says defiantly, “We decided not to compromise on our basic principles and whatever happens I am not worried about the consequences.” 2014 May 17: Resigns as CM a day after the Modi-led NDA wins a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections. The NDA bags 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar and Nitish’s JD (U) manages just two. “I take moral responsibility for the defeat…I should,” he says. May 20: Nitish annoints colleague Jitan Ram Manjhi as Bihar CM. Nitish and Manjhi fall apart after 276 days. 2015 June 5: Nitish Kumar named CM candidate of the JD (U)-led grand alliance (GA) that includes RJD and Congress November 8: Nitish-led alliance wins 178 out of 243 assembly seats, forms government. 2016 January 21: First signs of trouble in GA with RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh blaming Nitish for law and order situation in Bihar September 10: Former Siwan MP and controversial RJD politician Shahabuddin released from jail. He praises Lalu Prasad and terms Nitish a “chief minister of circumstances”. September 11: Nitish hits back at Shahabuddin, saying people of Bihar know whom they have pledged support to. “Everybody knows what (the) mandate of the people of Bihar is. Should I go by the people’s mandate or pay attention to what someone is saying?” September 29: Nitish praises surgical strike by army across LoC November 9: A day after demonetisation, Nitish and Lalu differ on Modi’s step. Nitish calls it as a move to wipe out black money, while the RJD chief calls it a “fraud” 2017 January 5: Prime minister Narendra Modi shares stage with Nitish Kumar in Patna. Modi praises Nitish on total prohibition and says it will inspire others May 26: Nitish skips lunch hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss joint Opposition candidate for presidential post May 27: Nitish attends lunch hosted by Modi in honour of visiting Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. Nitish also holds private meeting with PM. June 21: Nitish pledges support to former Bihar governor, Ram Nath Kovind, NDA’s candidate for president’s poll. July 7: CBI raids 12 locations related to Lalu Prasad in connection with the alleged land-for-hotel scam. His son and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, wife Rabri Devi and business associates named in FIR. July 8: Residence and properties of Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti in New Delhi raided. July 10: RJD rules out Tejashwi’s resignation July 11: Nitish breaks silence, tells Tejashwi to reply “fact-wise” in public. He says : “I shall not compromise with my principles. I am firm on my resolve of zero tolerance against corruption.” July 15: Tejashwi skips an official function in Patna chaired by Nitish. His nameplate on the dias is first covered with a cloth and later removed. July 18: Tejashwi meets Nitish after Cabinet meeting to explain his stand on the CBI charges. July 26: Lalu reiterates Tejashwi will not resign, says Nitish has not asked him to quit. Nitish meets governor after JD(U) legislature party meeting, submits resignation. BJP extends support to Nitish for forming next government. July 27: Nitish sworn in as chief minister. “Whatever decision we have taken will be in the interest of Bihar and of its people. It will ensure development and justice. It will also ensure progress. This is a collective decision. I ensure that our commitment is towards the people of Bihar,” he says after taking oath.


PM Modi’s ‘largesse’ for Gujarat floods outrages ‘ignored’ Assam
MMNN:26 July 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aerial survey of flood-affected areas in his home state Gujarat on Tuesday and the announcement of Rs 500 crore as relief haven’t gone down well in Assam. Many in Assam, where floods wreaked havoc in 29 of the state’s 32 districts this month and claimed 77 lives till date, have vented ire on social media accusing the Centre of neglect. The state government has estimated that the total damage caused by the recent floods is nearly Rs 2,939 crore. The Centre is yet to announce any interim flood-relief package for Assam. “Over 70 died in Assam flood. Modi sends junior minister (Kiren) Rijiju. Flood in Gujarat. Modi flies himself. Why two separate standards?” questioned journalist Atanu Bhuyan on Twitter. While Modi conducted an aerial survey of two flood-ravaged districts in Gujarat, a seven-member central team led by Union home ministry joint secretary VS Sekhar arrived in Guwahati to assess the situation. “Forget the announcement of an aid package, the PM didn’t even consider visiting Assam himself or sending a senior minister. It clearly shows Centre’s biased attitude to our state,” farmers activist Akhil Gogoi told media on Wednesday. Nearly 1.32 lakh people were displaced by the floods and had to seek shelter in 363 relief camps. Over 15,700 flood affected people were evacuated by rescue teams in 21 districts. Flood waters have receded in many areas due to clear skies in the past week, but 9 districts still remained inundated and 4,716 people continue to take shelter in relief camps in five districts. While the state government claims adequate relief was provided to all flood affected, there are accusations of laxity in rescue and relief efforts. Ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government were heckled by affected residents at several places for their late response. The so-called step-motherly attitude of Centre towards Assam has given fodder to opposition parties in the state as well. “Assam floods claimed 76 lives, Narendra Modi never visited and his government has not released adequate funds,” former Congress chief minister Tarun Gogoi tweeted on Tuesday President of the opposition All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) Badruddin Ajmal also requested the PM to “spare some time for the people of Assam” and visit the state. Many on social media connected Modi’s decision to visit Gujarat instead of Assam with the upcoming assembly polls in the western state. “Floods killed many in BJP ruled Gujarat and Assam. Where will Modi go, announce relief for? The state going to elections, where else,” Rajnath Kashmiri tweeted.


Iraq says has ‘no substantial information’ on whether 39 Indians abducted in Mosul are dead or alive
MMNN:24 July 2017

Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has said his government has “no substantial information” on the 39 Indians kidnapped by the Islamic State in Mosul in June 2014. The Iraqi government has “no substantial information” on the fate of the 39 Indians who were taken hostage by the Islamic State terror group in Mosul in 2014, foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Monday. “We have no substantial evidence that they (the Indians) were killed or they are still alive, so we cannot give anything in that regard,” al-Jaafari, who is an official visit to India, told reporters here. The Iraqi government, he said while speaking through an interpreter, was as concerned about the fate of the 39 Indians as the Indian government and their families. Al-Jaafari said the Iraq government will continue with its efforts to trace the men, all construction workers, who were kidnapped by militants more than three years ago. Ahead of al-Jaafari’s arrival in New Delhi, the Iraqi embassy had said “search operations are on and there is high-level coordination between Iraqi and Indian authorities to locate” the Indian nationals. The matter of the kidnapped Indians is believed to have figured in al-Jaafari’s talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj. On July 16, Swaraj had told reporters that information gathered by minister of state VK Singh during a recent visit to Iraq suggested the 39 Indians were possibly being held in Badush prison, located a short distance from Mosul. She said she was hopeful of getting more information when al-Jaafari visited New Delhi. However, the Hindustan Times reported on Saturday that the Badush prison is a desolate and abandoned structure that has been unoccupied for weeks, if not months. Harjit Masih, the sole Indian who managed to escape from the group of 40 men kidnapped in Mosul, has told several media outlets the others were gunned down in the desert near Badush on June 15, 2014. His account has been rejected by the government.


Railways food unfit for eating: 5 things CAG said about edibles served on trains
MMNN:22 July 2017

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has hit out at Indian Railways for serving food “unfit for human consumption” such as recycled, contaminated and expired items and unauthorised water brands. In a joint inspection conducted in collaboration with officials of Indian Railways at 74 stations and 80 trains between July and October 2016, the country’s top audit body observed grave deficiencies in the food hygiene standards.
Here are five things the CAG said about the substandard food served to train passengers:,
1. An iron nail was found in a plate of cutlets offered to a passenger on the Lucknow- Anand Vihar double decker in 2016. 2.Fungal growth was found around petha (sweets) served to passengers. 3.Cockroaches, rats, insects and dust was noticed in pantry cars of the premier Duronto trains. 4.Around 100 unsold parathas were found in the base kitchen of the North Central Railways for reuse and recycling, while uncovered food items were found on the floor at the Chapra station in Bihar 5.Buckets of drinking water and beverages were found in the vestibule near the toilet area in the Paschim Express.


President-elect Ram Nath Kovind’s vote share lowest since 1974: EC data
MMNN:21 July 2017

Ram Nath Kovind, the ruling NDA coalition’s candidate, may have won the presidential election comfortably, but his vote share is the lowest since 1974, figures reveal. Kovind received 2,930 votes with a value of 7,02,044, while his rival Meira Kumar, the joint opposition candidate, secured 1,844 votes with a value of 3,67,314. This comes to a vote share of 65.65% for the President-elect. However, the victory margin is the lowest since the 1974 presidential poll. According to Election Commission data, Kovind’s immediate predecessor Pranab Mukherjee (2012) secured 69.31% votes while Pratibha Patil (2007) got 65.82% of the total votes, marginally higher than the share secured by Kovind. KR Narayanan (1997) and APJ Abdul Kalam (2002) bagged 94.97% and 89.57% respectively, the highest victory percentages since 1974. Only Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, in 1977, was elected unopposed to the top constitutional post. Gyani Zail Singh (1982) got 72.73% votes, while R Venkatraman (1987) bagged 72.28%. Shankar Dayal Sharma (1992) got 65.87%. Besides Narayanan, only two presidents -- Rajendra Prasad (98.99%) in 1957, and Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan (98.24%) in 1962 -- secured over 90% of the votes.


Presidential election results: Ram Nath Kovind’s village all prepared for celebrations
MMNN:20 July 2017

Villagers are glued to TV sets and radios so that they begin celebrations the moment news flashes the NDA presidential candidate’s victory Paraunkh and Jhinjhak in Kanpur Dehat district are all set to celebrate as the village and the town are confident that Ram Nath Kovind will become the next President of India shortly. Villagers are glued to TV sets and radios so that they begin celebrations the moment news flashes the NDA presidential candidate’s victory. (Live result updates) Paraunk, Kovind’s village, comes under Derapur tehsil, 110 kms from Kanpur. Paraunkh has a population of nearly 9,000. Jhinjhak is a very small town (a kasbah) where Kovind’s brother Pyarelal lives. Kovind’s another brother, late Shivbalak, also lived there. Shivbalak was the one who educated Kovind. Shivbalak’s widow, Vidyawati, is fasting in Jhinjhak since Wednesday wishing Kovind’s victory. People will play ‘Holi’ during the day and celebrate ‘Diwali’ at night. In Paraunkh, villagers have called a ‘Bhangra band’ with dhols (percussion instrument) for the Holi and dance that they would do once Kovind is declared President. There’s a Pathri Devi temple in Paraunkh, where puja and rituals have been going on since the day Kovind’s candidature was announced. At the Jhinjhak house of Pyarelal (Kovind’s brother), a marquee has been put up to host all those who will come in to congratulate. Sweets will be distributed among them. Kovind had visited Paraunkh village in July 2016, when he became the governor of Bihar. He had converted his village house into ‘community hall’ for his village people. Late Maikulal, the father of Kovind, ran a small general store in the village and was known as a religious person. It is through his religious bent of mind that he first came in touch with RSS, in which Kovind later became a member.


165 people arrested in sedition cases in last 3 years: govt
MMNN:19 July 2017

The data for 2016 excludes Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal because figures were not available from these two states. As many as 165 people were arrested on the charge of sedition in the last three years across the country, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday. Citing data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Minister of State for Home Gangaram Ahir said that 58 people were arrested in 47 such cases registered in 2014. “73 people were arrested in 30 cases registered in 2015 and 34 people arrested in 28 cases registered in 2016 under the offence of Sedition (Section 124A of IPC),” he said. The 2016 figure excludes Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal as data from the two states were not available. Ahir said the names those arrested and the current status of cases were not recorded in the NCRB data. The data related to 2017 are being collected by the NCRB


Two minor girls among 4 of a family burnt to death over property dispute in Bihar’s Katihar district
MMNN:17 July 2017

Four people of a family were burnt to death over an alleged property dispute between siblings in Katihar district on Sunday night. A couple and its two daughters were burnt to death in sleep at Coundi village under Barsoi police station, 60 km east of district headquarters Katihar and 305km east of Patna. The charred bodies of the victims were sent for post mortem examination to the district hospital. The victims have been identified as Kedar Singh (45), his wife Pratima Devi (40), and their two daughters Dimple Kumari (15) and Soni Kumari (17). Son Laxman Kumar Singh (12), who was sleeping in the other room, managed to escape in the nick of time. The police have lodged an FIR on the basis of his complaint. The boy has named his uncle Manoj Kumar, younger brother of victim Kedar Singh, as an accused. He is since absconding. Laxman said, “My uncle used to threaten my parents over a piece of ancestral land, which he wanted to grab and sell. On Sunday, he threatened my father of dire consequences and later at night he set the house ablaze, killing my parents and sisters, who were asleep.” Laxman’s mother and his sisters died on the spot while his father Kedar died at the Katihar Medical College Hospital (KMCH) during treatment. Kedar was initially taken to the Katihar sadar (district) hospital, where doctors referred him to the medical college. Locals said the accused Manoj was a habitual gambler and used to invest money in lottery. “He wanted to sell a chunk of land, held as a joint property with his brother Kedar. Manoj killed his brother when Kedar resisted,” said some villagers. They even alleged that Manoj was a habitual drunkard and often spent time gambling in West Bengal. Confirming the incident, Katihar superintendent of police Siddharth Mohan Jain said, “The accused escaped soon after the incident.” The police said it was in contact with the West Bengal police and confident of arresting the accused. Katihar has been infamous for killings over property dispute. Two years ago a family of four, including two minor children, were burnt to death over a land dispute. They were sleeping when some villagers locked them from outside and set their house ablaze.


Amarnath terror attack: PDP MLA’s driver arrested for questioning
MMNN:15 July 2017

A policeman serving as a driver of PDP MLA has been arrested in connection with investigations into the terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims this week, police sources said on Saturday. Touseef Ahmad, a policeman from the security wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police and Wachhi legislator Aijaz Ahmad Mir’s driver, was detained for questioning two days ago. Wachhi is in Shopian district of south Kashmir. Ahmad was formally placed under arrest on Friday as part of investigations into militancy-related violence in south Kashmir, police sources said. The sources said two other people, suspected to be overground workers for militants, have also been detained for questioning. It was not immediately clear whether Ahmad, who was posted as Mir’s driver seven months ago, has any direct link to the attack on Amarnath pilgrims at Anantnag on Monday that left seven pilgrims dead and 21 others injured. A police official, on the condition of anonymity, said things are expected to be clearer about the involvement of the driver in the July 10 attack and other militancy-related activities later Saturday.


Missing India? There’s nothing to miss, says fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya
MMNN:14 July 2017

The Supreme Court on Friday is scheduled to pronounce a quantum of sentence against liquor baron and businessman Vijay Mallya in connection with a contempt of court case. However, the flamboyant businessman says he is ‘enjoying the fruits’ of his labours and is planning high-flying Force India’s next decade. In the last hearing, the apex court had convicted him for contempt of court and summoned him to personally appear on July 10. Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till July 14. Consequently, Mallya is fighting a high-profile Indian extradition request to the UK, where he is currently based. Missing India, and pining for a pit lane he can visit only once a year? Not a bit of it, says the embattled Formula One team owner. He is also, despite the court appearances and travel restrictions, still living the good life and enjoying a summer of sport. Horse racing at Royal Ascot, the Wimbledon tennis championships and Champions Trophy cricket have all been on his social diary, along with Wednesday’s Formula One promotional event in London. “There’s nothing to miss,” the 61-year-old told Reuters at the British Grand Prix when asked if he missed India. “All my immediate family is either in England or the US. Nobody in India at all. As far as my step-siblings are concerned, they are all UK citizens. So there’s nothing family-wise to miss.” India is seeking Mallya’s extradition over $1.4 billion that the authorities say he owes as a result of loans tied to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya has dismissed the charges against him. “This witch hunt against me has been going on for a while,” said Mallya, who has lived in Britain since 1992 and considers it a second home. “So it isn’t as if I have any emotional ups and downs. I have done absolutely nothing wrong. In fact I am glad that it is finally before a UK court and an impartial court. So we wait and see how it plays out.” The full extradition hearing has been provisionally listed to start on December 4 and to last two weeks. Until the issue is resolved, Mallya cannot leave Britain but he said that was no hardship, even if Silverstone is likely to be his first and last appearance in the Formula One paddock this year. Novelty value “I enjoy this atmosphere ... I enjoy meeting all the guests and sponsors and walking around the paddock. But while I enjoy it, there’s no novelty value any more,” he said. “I’ve been there and done it. “ “When I first started I went to every single race to the point where it was getting a bit exhausting, going to 20 races in a year. So it’s not as if I am missing something. If you look at my role in the team, there’s nothing for me to miss. I am participating in all the decision making and I’ve got a virtual pit wall at home.” “I miss being around but I’m also happy in my space. My time will come and I’ll go back to the tracks.” Mallya took over the failing Jordan team a decade ago and renamed it Force India as a measure of his pride in setting up India’s first Formula One entry. The talk now is of taking India out of the name to attract the sort of big name sponsors who want a global reach rather than a regional focus. “Things have changed. Force India is getting very limited in terms of potential. The Indian Grand Prix is gone, sadly. There are no Indian sponsors who’ve come to the table. They seem to be spending all their money on cricket,” said Mallya “And I need, for the continuing financial stability of this team, to reach out to more international sponsors. We have to think about positioning the team for the next 10 years,” he said, adding that he intended to be around as well. Force India are currently fourth overall in the constructors’ standings, the position they finished in last year. “When the team is doing well, then I am able to enjoy the fruits of my labour over so many years,” said Mallya. “Getting the right people and culture in place and motivating them and developing a car that has fought in the world championship – that’s no coincidence or stroke of luck. This is proper performance. “This is the time I’m enjoying the fruits of my 10 years of ownership.”


Cow vigilantes strike again, beat up Muslim man in Nagpur for ‘carrying beef’; 4 arrested
MMNN:13 Jul 2017

A 36-year-old Muslim man was hospitalised with serious injuries after he was assaulted in a Maharashtra town on Wednesday evening allegedly by self-styled cow protectors who accused him of carrying beef. The Nagpur police have arrested four men for the assault in Jalalkheda town, the latest in a series of violent incidents involving cow vigilante groups. “We have arrested all the four accused and they would be produced before the court for police custody,” Jalalkheda police station in-charge Vijay Tiwari said on Thursday. The four are the members of Prahar Sanghatana, which describes itself as a social and cultural body. Sanghatana is led by Bacchu Kadu, an independent MLA from Amravati. According to reports, Ismail Shah was pulled off his two-wheeler by four men, who accused him of carrying cow meat. Shah kept telling them it was goat meat and not beef but the men won’t listen to him. Police identified the alleged attackers as Ashwin Uike, Janardan Chowdhury, Rameshwar Tayde and Moreshwar Tandulkar. A Delhi youth was stabbed in a train last month after an argument, as the crowd accused him and his brothers of being “beef eaters”. The killing sparked nationwide protest, forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to say “killing people in the name of protecting cows is not acceptable”. There has been a rise in incidents of mob violence in the name of cow, considered holy by many Hindus. Cow slaughter and smuggling is banned in most states of the country. The BJP-ruled states, which includes Maharashtra, have come out with stringent punishment for these offences. To curb cow vigilantism, the Maharashtra government plans to provide beef-detection kits to police for on-the-spot meat tests.


CBI raids 23 premises in Bengal, Jharkhand in graft case against Income Tax commissioner
MMNN:12 Jul 2017

The CBI on Wednesday conducted raids at 23 locations in West Bengal and Jharkhand in connection with a corruption case registered against the principal commissioner of Income Tax and others, an official said. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took the step against principal commissioner Tapas Kumar Dutta, posted in Ranchi, and three of his colleagues following allegations of criminal conspiracy. They were accused of favouring private persons and companies in the matter of taxes and for taking illegal gratification. “It is alleged that Dutta and three other Income Tax officials conspired with six private persons, including a chartered accountant, and some unidentified persons,” the official added. The CBI raids took place at 18 residential and office premises of the accused in Kolkata and five places in Ranchi in Jharkhand, a CBI official said. The CBI officers questioned Dutta at the IT office in Ranchi. Sources in the know of things said the raids were related to hawala transactions.


‘The firing did not last for more than 20 seconds’: Amarnath Yatra survivors recount deadly attack
MMNN:11 Jul 2017

It didn’t take much time for the terrorists to create the mayhem in south Kashmir’s Anantnag on Monday night when seven pilgrims were killed and several others injured while returning from the Amarnath cave shrine. Survivors of the terrorist attack said had it not been for the driver of the bus they were travelling in, many more would have lost their lives. Recounting the attack, the survivors said they did not realise what was happening as many were sleeping and the gunmen fired indiscriminately in the dark. “The firing did not last for more than 20 seconds. And, we could not see who was firing as it was dark outside,” said Amit Kumar, a Rajasthan resident who works as a cook for the pilgrims from Gujarat. “People just rolled on the bus floor one over another,” he said. The bus carrying over 50 pilgrims mostly from Gujarat and Maharashtra was attacked around 8.20pm near Batengoo area on Monday. Police said the terrorists initially attacked a bullet proof bunker in the area and later a check post near Khanabal. “Phataphat marne lage goli, andhere mein kuch samaj nahi aaya (They started firing indiscriminately. We could not fathom anything in the dark),’’ Baghimani Thakur, another traveller from Palgad Maharastra, added. Kumar said he survived the attack as he was sitting in the back seat. “The people sitting near the driver’s cabin bore the brunt but the driver survived,” he said. He added the bus driver Saleem’s presence of mind saved many lives as he did not stop the vehicle even amid the hail of bullets. “Malik (the owner of the bus) told the driver Saleem: ‘Bhai, just rush the bus. Don’t stop’. And the driver just drove the bus at full speed and only stopped when we reached an army camp,” he said. A policeman from Anantnag, who was keeping a watch over two of the injured at the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar, also corroborated Kumar’s account. He said the bus stopped in Khanabal Chowk and the injured were immediately taken to the army hospital. “After basic treatment at the army hospital, the injured were taken to the district hospital in Anantnag after which the seriously wounded were rushed to Srinagar hospitals,” he said. Prakash Wadani, another survivor, said that the pilgrims had planned to visit Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra the next day. Kumar said that they left their hotel in Srinagar at 5:30pm and as fate would have it, the bus had a flat tyre. “It took an hour for us to replace the tyre and that caused the delay,” he said. Daksha, a pilgrim from Dahnu in Maharashtra, said the passengers spent the time chatting on the roadside while the tyre was being changed “unaware of what lay in store for them minutes later’’. All the survivors and injured were airlifted to Delhi on Tuesday morning. Only two of the injured - Pushpa and Lalita – are being treated at the state’s tertiary care hospital Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar. Kumar is looking after them at the hospital. Pushpa was hit on her right hip and is recuperating in the emergency ward and Lalita, doctors said, was in the intensive care unit. Police have blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba of the attack, however, the militant outfit denied the charges and its spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznavi called it a “highly reprehensible act’’ and blamed “Indian agencies’’ for the attack. “Islam doesn’t allow violence against any faith. We strongly condemn such acts,’’ a LeT statement said. Police insisted that the bus came under fire and was not the “actual target of the militants’’. A senior police officer, who did not want to be named, refused to call the incident a security lapse saying “the bus had flouted all norms’’. “The Amarnath yatris escorted by security cross the Banihal tunnel around 2pm, on Monday the yatris had crossed the area by 1pm. The highway is secured but high security can’t be 24 hours. We don’t allow any movement of yatris or tourists in the area after 5pm,’’ he added. “Technically, they were tourists and not yatris so we could not stop them,’’ the officer said. Police have said the bus was a private vehicle and not registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board. The passengers had completed the darshan on July 8 and stayed back in Srinagar for sight seeing. Over 2.20 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance at the Amarnath cave shrine - situated at a height of 3,880 metres in south Kashmir Himalayas - during an unrest in 2016 after Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani’s killing in July last year. The number was lowest since 2003. This year the numbers have already crossed 1.5 lakh. The state government has not stopped the pilgrimage and a fresh batch of more than 3000 pilgrims left Jammu for base camps in Kashmir on Tuesday.


Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping ‘did not have a bilateral meeting’ at G20 summit in Germany: China
MMNN:10 Jul 2017

Technically, China is correct but the fact is the Indian side didn’t claim the two leaders held a bilateral meeting, which is usually a structured and previously agreed engagement. China on Monday appeared to play down a brief conversation Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping had on the sidelines of the recent G20 summit, saying the two “did not have a bilateral meeting”. Technically, China is correct but the fact is the Indian side didn’t claim the two leaders held a bilateral meeting, which is usually a structured and previously agreed engagement. “I can tell you there was no bilateral meet between President Xi and PM Modi in Germany,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a regular media briefing when asked about the meeting. The brief conversation the two leaders had during an informal gathering of BRICS leaders on the margins of the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7 made headlines. It came at a time when the two countries were locked in a tense standoff along India’s northeastern frontier. China’s denial of something that didn’t happen is being seen as yet another attempt by Beijing to make its displeasure over the Doklam row known. “According to my information, the two leaders did not hold any bilateral meeting (on the sidelines of the G20 summit),” Geng said, adding Xi presided over the informal meeting of the BRICS leaders that was attended by Modi and others. While repeatedly denying the bilateral meeting, Geng also didn’t mention the conversation the two leaders had. External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay had on July 7 tweeted a photo of the two leaders smiling and shaking hands. He said Modi and Xi had a “conversation on a range of issues”. The border standoff link was not hard to draw, as Geng again said the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Donglang, as Chinese refer to the region, was the precondition for a resolution of the military impasse. To a question about Indian media reports that the soldiers were prepared for the long haul in Doklam, Geng said if those were true, it revealed India’s true intentions. “If they (the reports) are true, they are only prove that the Indian trespass was organised and elaborate….and the intention was to damage the status quo at the (Sikkim) boundary,” Geng said. “So, how can diplomatic solutions happen under such circumstances? We have said that the Indian troops withdrawal is the pre-condition (for a resolution),” he said. China has accused Indian soldiers of trespass and preventing its soldiers from building a road in Doklam, which is close to the Sikkim border on India’s northeast, and is claimed by Bhutan. The Doklam region is located at the narrow but strategically important tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan, with the three countries barely separated by mountains and passes. Chinese-state media has also said that India planned the trespass to coincide with Modi’s meeting with US President Donald Trump to convey to the US that New Delhi was ready to check China’s rise. Modi met Trump on June 26, 10 days after the standoff started.


Govt, BJP have no role in CBI raids on Lalu Prasad Yadav and family: Venkaiah Naidu
MMNN:7 Jul 2017

The government and the BJP have no role in the CBI raids against Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Friday. The information and broadcasting minister said the Central Bureau of Investigation was doing its duty and acting in accordance with the mandate given to it by law. “What is political vendetta? Where is BJP in this? I am not able to understand. Do you mean to say that anybody against whom any charge is there, it should not be inquired into at all?” Naidu asked. “CBI is doing its duty and it is allowed to do so. Earlier it was not allowed... after our government came there is no interference and that is why CBI is free and acting as per the mandate given to it...,” he told reporters. The raids against the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and his family started at 7 am today and were conducted at 12 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Gurugram after the investigating agency registered a corruption case. It is alleged that Yadav as railway minister handed over the maintenance of two railway hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land of three acres through a benami company.


After Amit Shah meet row, Goa Cong leader seeks nod to host his wedding at airport
MMNN:6 Jul 2017

Goa Congress general secretary Janardhan Bhandari has written to AAI for permission to host his wedding reception on Dabolim airport premises in September. Barely days after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah's meeting at Goa's Dabolim international airport triggered a row, a state Congress leader has written to the Airports Authority of India to be allowed to use the premises as his wedding venue. In his letter, also marked to Dabolim airport director BC Negi, on Thursday, Goa Congress general secretary Janardhan Bhandari said he should be granted permission to host the wedding at the airport on the lines of Shah’s meeting on July 1, which was attended by more than 2,000 people. Bhandari wrote he would adhere to all rules and regulations, including ban on photography, during his wedding and not allow guests to bring cars to airport premises. His letter states, “I am very pleased to inform you that I have been engaged recently and planning to get married soon. Since my guests will be coming from various states and landing at Dabolim airport and as such I cannot afford to make arrangements for the stay and travel of so many guests. “It would be nice if you could permit me to use your airport for my wedding reception in September 2017. I will fix the date as per the availability of the airport as per your convenience.” Shah’s meeting at the airport, which is operated from an Indian naval base, triggered allegations of violation of rules and regulations by the BJP, including putting a defence ministry installation at risk. While the airport director claimed no permission was given for the meeting, the BJP said it was an unplanned event and people came on their own to greet Shah. Congress national secretary Girish Chodankar said Shah’s meeting was illegal and demanded an FIR be registered. City based lawyer-activist Aires Rodrigues has complained in writing against Shah’s meeting to secretary of Civil Aviation, Goa Chief Secretary, and Director General of Police. No action has been initiated so far.


PM Modi’s Israeli flag-themed attire catches attention
MMNN:5 Jul 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent choice of apparel that grabbed eyeballs was what he wore on the first day of his three-day visit in Israel. The Prime Minister alighted from Air India One at Tel Aviv, in an immaculate white bandhgala. Also quite noticeable was the blue pocket square. Significantly, blue and white are the colours of the Israeli flag; and white is PM Modi’s preferred colour for solemn occasions, such as the visit to Yad Vashem on Tuesday, where he added to his look a traditional Himachali cap. He is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. Terming it to be a historic visit, PM Modi tweeted, “Hello Israel! Today I begin a special & historic visit with the aim of further strengthening the relations between India and Israel.” His Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu donned a blue-and-white suit with a red tie, as he welcomed PM Modi at Tel Aviv airport.


UP govt to ‘probe’ welfare grant sanctioned to NGO run by Akhilesh Yadav’s sister-in-law
MMNN:4 Jul 2017

Aparna Yadav’s NGO Jeev Ashraya reportedly received 86% of the funds sanctioned by the previous government for organisations working for cow welfare in the state Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is planning to initiate a probe into the grant sanctioned by the previous Samajwadi Party-led dispensation to an NGO run by former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s sister-in-law Aparna Yadav. An indication to this regard was given by state’s dairy development minister Lakshmi Narayan Chaudhary while addressing a programme at Sahibabad industrial area on Monday. Nearly 86% of the grant sanctioned by the previous government for organisations working for cow welfare in the state went to Aparna Yadav’s Jeev Ashraya, an RTI reply has revealed recently. Aparna is the wife of Prateek Yadav, the step-brother of Akhilesh Yadav. Her NGO runs a gaushala, Kanha Upvan, at Amausi on the outskirt of Lucknow, which Adityanath visited in March, days after taking over as chief minister. He also lauded the facilities provided to bovines there. To a query by activist Nutan Thakur, the UP Gau Sewa Aayog replied that during the tenure of the previous government, it sanctioned Rs 9.66 crore, of which Rs 8.35 crore (86.4%) went to Jeev Ashraya. During 2017-18, till now, Rs1.05 crore has been given to various gaushalas. But Jeev Ashraya was not one of the recipients. “During the Samajwadi Party regime, criminals and mafias were given political protection. In this case, the former CM sanctioned 86% funds meant for organisations working for cow welfare to only one NGO being run by his sister-in-law,” Chaudhary said. “The issue cannot be taken lightly as it indicates an organised loot of public money,” he said, hinting the government is contemplating to probe the charges of nepotism. The development comes at a time when several projects launched by the Akhilesh government are under scanner. “There have been reports of misappropriation of Waqf properties. We have referred the probe to the CBI,” Chaudhary said. Talking to a news agency, Aparna Yadav denied getting any undue favour, there was nothing wrong if works of an active NGO were recognised by the government. “If an organisation is doing good work, it should get 100 per cent funds,” she said. “There are approximately 462 ‘gau shalas’ (cow shelters) in UP and of them Jeev Ashray is the most active. Anyone can go there and check,” she said. Stating that the RTI should not be used to “terrorise” people, Aparna said she would give a befitting reply to the people who were trying to malign her image.


EC can extend voting rights to NRIs in 3 months if govt gives go-ahead
MMNN:3 Jul 2017

The decision to allow over 10 million NRIs — of whom 24,348 are registered with the EC — to vote through a postal ballot will offer expatriates a chance to participate in the country’s electoral process without having to be physically present. The Election Commission has informed the Centre that it can pull off the process of introducing voting rights for non-resident Indians (NRI) within three months of the law being introduced. The decision to allow over 10 million NRIs — of whom 24,348 are registered with the EC — to vote through a postal ballot will offer expatriates a chance to participate in the country’s electoral process without having to be physically present at the polling stations. If it comes to fruition, NRIs from states such as Kerala, Punjab and Telangana -- which have large populations of NRIs -- will stand to be benefit. Chief election commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi, who demits office on July 5, told HT that the poll panel is ready to implement the one-way postal ballot system for allowing NRIs to vote, if the government gives the go-ahead. The one-way postal ballot system involves sending e-ballot papers to the voters, which are retuned by post after the voters have marked their choice. The system was introduced for armed forces personnel and service voters in October last year. “Voting rights to NRIs is a long term vision and is under evaluation,” Zaidi told HT. He said the commission has proposed a one-way e-postal ballot system for NRIs, but is awaiting for word from the law ministry. “We have written to the Law ministry, we are ready and have been saying it, we only need a law. It will be on the similar lines as the one-way postal ballot that was started for the service personnel. The moment we have the law we will be ready to implement it within three-months” he said. The Centre has told the Supreme Court, where petitions have been filed to allow NRI voters to participate in the electoral exercise, that it is willing to accept the poll panel’s recommendation to allow NRIs to vote through e-postal ballots or proxy voting. “We have proved that the technology works,” Zaidi said. The proposal can only be implemented after Parliament amends the Representation of the People Act and the Conduct of Election Rules. The CEC said the proposal to allow voting rights for domestic migrants, is also pending. “A committee report (on the issue) has also been given, the government has to take a call,” the CEC said. After amendments were made to the RP Act to make provisions for NRIs, the EC undertook an awareness campaign last year to familiarise expatriates with their voting rights.


Patna GPO completes 100 years, special stamp likely
MMNN:1 Jul 2017

Though officials have planned to commemorate the centenary year of the GPO on July 1, the celebration will continue for a whole year with a number of events and activities The General Post Office (GPO), Patna, completed 100 years of its existence on July 1. The Patna GPO, which earlier housed Bankipore post office, is built in the British Gothic architectural style. It is among the four buildings that came up during the pre-Independence era in the state around the same time. The other three are Patna high court, Patna museum and the old secretariat. Though officials have planned to commemorate the centenary year of the GPO on July 1, coinciding with the launch of first day cover on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the celebration will continue for a whole year with a number of events and activities, which might include release of a special postal stamp as well. Post master general, Bihar circle, Anil Kumar, said Bihar had showed the way in terms of development of postal services in the country. Besides the grand structure with 1.93 lakh square feet built-up area, Patna happens to be the first postal unit in the world to have evolved a prepaid system for postal services,” he said. In 1774, Patna had come out with a copper ticket with a face value of one anna and half anna. “Copper tickets are now rare and available barely at four or five locations in the world, including the National Museum, New Delhi, Postal Museum, London, and in a private collection of a Jabalpur resident,” said Kumar. The Department of Posts (DoP) had issued a commemorative stamp on copper tickets in 1980. The ticket had ‘Azimabad Ekanni’ imprinted on the obverse and ‘Patna Post One Anna’ on the reverse. In those days, Patna was known as Azimabad. Some of the noted philatelists claimed that the ticket was introduced as a prepaid arrangement to do away with the growing loss of revenue due to the return of undelivered letters, as the persons addressed refused to accept them. “Charges for delivery were decided by the distance, known as stages, at that time,” added Kumar. The work on the GPO building, on sprawling 22 acres, began after Bihar was carved out of Bengal. The construction cost was around Rs 2.69 lakh and it was formally opened in 1917. It used to handle both postal and telecom operations then. The building underwent renovation in 2000 at the cost Rs 1.25 crore, which saw five gardens, including one having medicinal herbs, being added to its landscape. At a time when information technology services underwent a sea change, the GPO is still delivering around 25,000-30,000 accountable articles, including those of speed post, parcels, registered and insured letters, every day with 96 postmen. Daily transaction of ordinary letters is estimated to be around 30,000-40,000. Besides, the GPO operates more than 12 lakh accounts of its savings bank equipped with core banking solutions (CBS).


Pilgrim dies as landslide hits Vaishno Devi track
MMNN:30 Jun 2017

One pilgrim died and five others were injured after a landslide hit between Himkoti and Adhkuwari enroute the cave shrine on Friday morning. A woman has died and five others have been injured. One of them is critical, SSP (Reasi) Tahir Sajjad Bhat told Hindustan Times. He said the landslide hit at about 11.30am. Bhat said the identities of the victims, who are being brought down to Katra, are yet to be ascertained.


Minister Radha Mohan Singh caught urinating in public, says there was no urinal nearby
MMNN:29 Jun 2017

Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh draws criticism with many trolling him saying his act shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat programme in poor light. An undated picture of Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh urinating in public has put the BJP in a spot as the picture went viral on social media on Thursday. The minister, however, defended himself, saying there was no urinal for long distances on National Highway 28 near Pipara when he wanted to relieve himself. Stating that his intention was not wrong, he said the photograph was of a dhaba (roadside eatery) on the NH. The photograph showed the minister urinating on a wall, believed to be in his home constituency Purvi Champaran (East Champaran), as two security personnel stood guard. Netizens trolled the minister for his act, saying it showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat programme in poor light. The photograph was also shared on RJD’s Twitter handle, with a sarcastic comment, “Amid tight security, the Union minister of agriculture gives the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan a boost, as he inaugurates an irrigation project in a drought-affected state.” State BJP spokesperson, Rajib Ranjan, however, found nothing wrong in the minister’s act. “One cannot suppress nature’s call for long. What do you do if you are travelling long distances and there are no public urinals on the way?” he asked HT, adding “There is absolutely nothing wrong in what the minister did.” He further said the photograph was “six months to one year old” as the minister’s SUV had a red beacon, which the government had banned from May 1. Ranjan came down heavily against the ruling coalition in Bihar for deriving vicarious pleasure in sharing the minister’s photograph. “They are part of the corrupt combination in state,” he said. The party, however, believed that the photograph was taken by an insider who was part of the minister’s cavalcade and subsequently leaked.


Presidential poll: Sonia, Yechury, Pawar accompany Meira Kumar as she files nomination
MMNN:28 Jun 2017

New Delhi: Opposition candidate Meira Kumar filed her nomination for the Presidential election on Wednesday, the last date for submitting the papers. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and other senior Opposition leaders were present when Kumar handed over the papers to Anoop Mishra, Secretary General of the Lok Sabha, who is the returning officer of this prestigious election. Kumar’s competitor, NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind had filed his nomination last week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for his foreign tour.


3 activists of Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini arrested on rape charge
MMNN:27 Jun 2017

Three activists of the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), an organisation floated by Yogi Adityanath, were arrested in Bareilly on charges of gangrape and thrashing a police officer. The incident took place on Monday night following a dispute between one Deepak and Avinash over playing of loud music in Ganeshnagar locality, Superintendent of Police (City), Rohit Singh Sajwan said on Tuesday. Avinash called his friends, who were HYV workers, and barged into Deepak’s house and allegedly misbehaved with the women. Deepak, who later reached with his brother Gaurav, allegedly beat up Avinash and handed him over to the police. When the news spread, HYV regional President Jitendra Sharma and city unit President Pankaj and a number of other HYV activists reached the police station to protest the arrest. BJP city unit chief Umesh Katharia also reached the police station and in presence of police, HVY activists allegedly misbehaved with the BJP leader and allegedly beat up sub-inspector Mayank Arora. The city SP said that two FIRs have been lodged in this connection. One FIR was lodged by Arora against Avinash, Jitendra and Pankaj for allegedly beating him and the other by a woman against the three and another person Anil Saxena for allegedly gangraping her. Avinash, Jitendra and Pankaj have been arrested, police said, adding that a probe is on in the matter.


Five STF jawans wounded in gunbattle with Maoists in Sukma
MMNN:24 Jun 2017

The gunfight is underway between a joint team of security forces and Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Five special task force (STF) personnel were on Saturday injured in a fierce gunbattle with Maoists in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, the police said. The encounter is still going on, they added. The exchange of fire is underway between a joint team of security forces and ultras in the interior forests of Chintagufa police station area, deputy inspector general of police (Dantewada range) Sundarraj P told PTI. “As per the preliminary information, five STF jawans have sustained injuries in the encounter,” he said. The joint team, comprising personnel from STF, district reserve guard (DRG) and CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), was carrying out anti-Maoist operation in Chintagufa area, around 500 km from Raipur, he said. The team members were cordoning off a forest patch in southern part of Chintagufa when they came under fire from a group of Maoists, the IPS officer said. The security forces retaliated, triggering an exchange of fire, he said. The DIG said on getting information about the gunbattle, reinforcement was rushed to the spot and efforts were on to evacuate the injured jawans. Further details were awaited, he added. On April 24, 25 CRPF personnel were killed in a rebel ambush in Burkapal area under Chintagufa police station of limits of Sukma, the worst Maoist-affected district in the state.


Muslim man arrested in Jharkhand for allegedly making anti-Modi remarks in video
MMNN:23 Jun 2017

In the video clip Sameer Ansari is seen allegedly heard backing Pakistan cricket team and also voicing his desire to see India humiliated Police arrested a 20-year-old Muslim man on Thursday night in Jharkhand for a viral video clip where he is allegedly heard making derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India. The clip was shared widely in the state’s Sahibganj region before India’s shock loss to Pakistan in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy last Sunday. In the video clip -- HT has a copy of it -- Sameer Ansari is allegedly heard backing Pakistan but also voicing his desire to see India humiliated. “The video was circulated in many WhatsApp groups. His statements were provocative and against the country, so, we had to arrest him, “said Sahibganj superintendent of police P Murugan. Local residents said Ansari was a student but police refused to confirm.


RJD to question Nitish Kumar’s support for NDA presidential nominee Kovinda
MMNN:22 Jun 2017

Nitish Kumar took initiative to form a united opposition, but sidelined them to supported the NDA nominee, RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad said. Questioning Nitish Kumar’s extension of support to Centre’s nominee for President, its ally Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Thursday said that it was a very good opportunity for the secular front to counter the saffron party but the Bihar Chief Minister’s change of side has put the united opposition’s future in jeopardy. Asserting that it was Nitish who had initiated the whole idea of an united opposition and grand alliance to oppose the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at national level, RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad said that his party will be questioning the JD(U) in this regard. “It was an opportunity for the secular parties to stand united in at the time of Presidential elections. We will be questioning JD(U) for the stand Nitish ji has taken. We would like to ask JD(U) what is their take on the secular party group which was formed to counter the BJP,” Prasad told ANI. “We were very happy when Nitish ji had taken the initiative to form a secular front of united opposition on the national level, but now he sidelined us and supported the BJP’s candidate. Now the ball is in his court, he will have to think that now how will we oppose the BJP?,” he added.


Police knew about Karnan’s hiding place for 3 days before arresting him
MMNN:21 Jun 2017

CS Karnan, who was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Supreme Court for contempt but was untraceable, was arrested near Coimbatore. A police team searching for Calcutta high court’s former judge CS Karnan knew about his hiding place in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu for three days before moving in to arrest him, the West Bengal police chief said on Wednesday. “We knew about his (Karnan’s) whereabouts three days back. We were tracking phone calls of people close to him and we also have our own sources,” director general of police Raj Kanojia told IANS in Chennai. Kanojia spoke at the Chennai airport before boarding a flight to Kolkata. According to him, this was a unique case he handled in his entire service and “maybe no other police officer will be handling such a case in a long time to come”. “Tracking Karnan was difficult. It was a difficult case,” Kanojia said. Karnan, who was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Supreme Court for contempt but was untraceable, was arrested on Tuesday near Coimbatore, around 500 km from Chennai. Karnan was eluding arrest for more than a month.


Tripura girl, whose head swelled to over three times its normal size, dies
MMNN:20 Jun 2017

Her condition caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches), putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright An girl who made international headlines when a rare condition caused her head to swell to more than twice the normal size has died, days before she was to undergo corrective surgery. Roona Begum’s family said she died Sunday at her home in a village in the remote northeast after complaining of breathlessness. “She was otherwise fit and fine. But on Sunday she started having breathing problems and I rang up my husband asking him to come back home,” said Fatima Begum. “He rushed home and gave her water but before we could take her to the hospital she died,” she told AFP. The five-year-old was born with hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal condition that causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up on the brain. Publication of pictures taken by an AFP photographer in the remote state of Tripura prompted a New Delhi hospital to treat her for free in 2013. Her condition caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches), putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright. After several round of surgery at the Fortis Hospital, her head circumference shrank to 58 centimetres. Pictures showed the distraught parents sitting next to her body, wrapped in a cream towel as her younger brother looked on.


Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, US lawmakers ask India to rethink price cap on stents
MMNN:19 Jun 2017

The Narendra Modi government has in recent years capped prices of hundreds of life-saving drugs to make them more affordable. A group of US lawmakers has backed medical device makers by urging India to reconsider its decision to cap prices of heart stents, raising the issue ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States later this week. In a letter sent to the Indian ambassador to Washington last month, and seen by Reuters, 18 members of Congress said they were “troubled” by the price cap, warning that it could deter firms from launching new medical products in India. Modi’s government has in recent years capped prices of hundreds of life-saving drugs to make them more affordable. And in February, it imposed a 75% price cut for certain heart stents - wire mesh tubes used to treat blocked arteries. The government justified its action by citing “huge unethical markups”. But global medical device makers have protested the new cap, with some saying it would force them to sell below cost. The US lawmakers warned that people would be denied access to the latest medical advances if companies backed away from India’s $5 billion medical-technology market. “The sudden and unprecedented nature of the decision threatens citizens’ access to the newest and most innovative medical technologies and raises strong concerns about the business environment in India,” they said in the May 22 letter, which has not previously been made public. The Indian embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. The US Department of Commerce is likely to raise the issue with Modi during his visit on June 25-26, according to an industry source aware of the plans. “It’s one of the biggest pain points,” the source said.


Soldier killed, another wounded in Pakistani shelling in Nowshera
MMNN:16 Jun 2017

Pakistan has been continuously violating the 2003 ceasefire agreement with India, and the firing and shelling has left the hapless villagers in a precarious situation A soldier was killed and another injured in Pakistani shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district on Friday morning, officials said. The dead soldier was identified as Naik Bakhtawar Singh of 8 Sikh Light Infantry, and a resident of Hajipur village in Punjab’s Hoshiyarpur district. “Pakistan Army opened heavy fire around 4am and the exchange lasted for around 20 minutes. During brief exchanges, two Indian soldiers were injured at Kalsian. One of them died around 5am,” an intelligence official said. Nowshera sub-divisional magistrate Harbans Lal Sharma and Nowshera police station head Kuldip Krishan confirmed that the soldier died around 5am when he was hit by a mortar shell at a forward post in Kalsian area of Nowshera sector. However, the army was yet to issue a statement on it. The identity of the injured soldier has not been ascertained yet.


Another farmer commits suicide in Madhya Pradesh, seventh in 7 days
MMNN:15 Jun 2017

Seven deaths have been reported from Madhya Pradesh in seven days as angry farmers have torched vehicles and ransacked property demanding loan waiver and fair price. A farmer killed himself in Madhya Pradesh’s Hoshangabad district on Thursday morning, news agency ANI reported, the seventh such suicide in seven days in a region rocked by violent farmer protests over plummeting crop prices. Narmada Prasad was a resident of Hoshangabad’s Babai village and was being pressurized by local moneylenders, ANI added. The details of his death couldn’t be immediately ascertained.


Opposition’s choice of president likely today; Meira Kumar, Gopal Gandhi in focus
MMNN:14 Jun 2017

The move to pick the Opposition’s candidate comes two days after the ruling BJP announced its committee to talk to all parties in an effort to build consensus for a candidate to succeed President Pranab Mukherjee. The opposition will likely name its candidate for the next President of India on Wednesday, with Congress leader Meira Kumar and Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopal Krishna Gandhi among the possible nominees. The meeting of the Opposition’s 10-member selection panel is slated for 4pm. The move to pick the Opposition’s candidate comes two days after the ruling BJP announced its committee to talk to all parties in an effort to build consensus for a candidate to succeed President Pranab Mukherjee, who demits office on July 24. The Opposition panel comprises Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge from the Congress, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, JD(U) veteran Sharad Yadav, NCP leader Praful Patel, Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek o’Brien, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra, RJD leader Lalu Prasad and DMK’s RS Bharathi.


Monsoon session of Parliament likely to begin on July 12, say sources
MMNN:13 Jun 2017

The monsoon session of Parliament will begin from July 12 and conclude on August 11. The month-long monsoon session of Parliament is likely to commence from July 12. According to one of the proposals before the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA), the session will begin from July 12 and conclude on August 11, according to government sources. The final call on the dates will be taken by the committee, headed by Union home minister Rajnath Singh, after June 20, the sources said. Sources told IANS the session was being convened earlier due to the presidential election in which MPs and MLAs are voters. A session at that time will ensure that all the MPs are in Delhi for the polling. An MP can also vote in his home state where MLAs generally vote.


Doyen of Telugu literature C Narayana Reddy dies in Hyderabad
MMNN:12 Jun 2017

Doyen of Telugu literature and Jnanpith awardee Dr C Narayana Reddy passed away in Hyderabad on Monday following a brief illness. Doyen of Telugu literature and Jnanpith awardee Dr C Narayana Reddy died of brief illness in Hyderabad on Monday morning. He was 86. He is survived by four daughters. Reddy complained of chest pain in the morning and was rushed to a private hospital where he breathed his last. Popularly known as Cinare, the noted litterateur was born at Hanumajipet village of Rajanna Sircilla district (which was part of Karimnagar district till recently) of Telangana on July 29, 1931. Though he studied in Urdu medium school, Reddy mastered Telugu literature and joined Osmania University as a Telugu professor. He also served as vice-chancellor of the Telugu University. Known for his excellent rhyming skills, Reddy wrote several books, including composition of poems like Karpoora Vasantha Rayalu and Nagarjuna Saagaramu. His magnum opus Vishwambhara, which was translated into several other Indian languages, fetched him Jnanpith award in 1988. He was honoured with several literary awards like Kala Prapoorna and doctorates by various universities. In 1992, he was honoured with India’s third highest civilian award Padma Bhushan. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha in August 1997. Reddy became more popular among the common people with his lyrics in Telugu films. He had penned more than 3,000 songs for various Telugu films, and all of them were big hits. Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao and several literary personalities and lyricists from Telugu film industry condoled Reddy’s death.


MP CM Shivraj on indefinite fast, says pained to see violence in state
MMNN:10 Jun 2017

Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s decision to observe a fast comes in the wake of violence in several parts of the state during the agitation by farmers and the killing of five farmers in Mandsaur in police firing. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday announced the setting up of commission which would assess the input cost of agriculture produce, and said he was pained to see the violence in the state during the farmers’ agitation. Chouhan, who began an indefinite fast on Saturday in his bid to restore peace in the violence-hit state, appealed to the farmers for peace, saying when his door was always open for talks, where was the need for violence. A pandal was erected at BHEL, Dussehra Maidan in state capital Bhopal from where Chouhan will run his government. Chouhan’s decision to observe a fast comes in the wake of violence in several parts of the state during the agitation by farmers and the killing of five farmers in Mandsaur in police firing a few days back. He announced his decision at a press conference on Friday evening. Chouhan was flanked by his ministerial colleagues and BJP leaders. Many party workers too gathered to listen to the chief minister on the occasion. A number of farmers were brought by the party for interacting with the chief minister. Government officials were also present on the occasion. Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Ajay Singh termed the fast as a “Kejriwal drama”, which, he alleged, would involve an expenditure of crores of rupees. He was referring to Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal who had gone on an indefinite fast, promising 24-hour power at half the existing rate and up to 20 kilolitres of free water for all when his party comes to power in the national capital. Congress workers in Indore sat on a dharna and prayed for “wisdom” for the chief minister. Without taking the name of the Congress, Chouhan said he was pained when he heard words like “Thaane me aag laga do” (Set the police station on fire) or “Patthar maro” (Pelt stones). “The Mandsaur incident is the most unfortunate. I was deeply pained. I will get this inquired into as to who were behind the violence and what was their motive. Those who spread violence during the agitation will not be spared,” he warned. Chouhan said it was “unfortunate that children are being given stones in their hands. This is painful. Where do they want to the push the state? Where will the state go with such attitude of people?” he asked. He said that during the violence, more than 100 police personnel sustained injuries. Of them, six were seriously injured. As many as 197 buses and 127 government vehicles were damaged. Chouhan said that since he assumed his office 11 and a half years back, his first and foremost priority has been welfare of farmers. The irrigation area has been increased from 7.5 lakh hectares in 2003 to 40 lakh hectares now, he said. The rate of interest on loan to farmers has been reduced from 18% to zero percent. Further, it was minus 10% because if a farmer took a loan of Rs 1 lakh, he was supposed to return Rs 90,000 only. Chouhan said if facilities to farmers had grown manifold, the bumper crop led to sharp fall in prices. That was why a Rs 1,000-crore price stabilisation fund was created to allow farmers to get adequate return on their produce. Thousands of tonners of onion has been purchased at Rs 8 per kg by the government. From June 10, tur daal would be purchased at Rs 5,500 per quintal whereas the market rate was Rs 3,400-3,500 per quintal. Similarly, moong and urad would be purchased at Rs 5,225 per quintal across the state, he said.


In new Rajasthan textbooks, Veer Savarkar overshadows Gandhi and Nehru
MMNN:9 Jun 2017

The class 10 textbook reduces Mahatma Gandhi’s historical significance during India’s freedom struggle to a passing mention while the country’s first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru is missing from class 8 textbooks. New textbooks for Rajasthan state board schools being taught from this year have an extra dose of nationalism, with Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar pushing to the margins the role of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. One of the textbooks introduced in the BJP-ruled state even describes the first crop of Congress leaders as mostly moderates who were prosperous, middle-class intellectuals hailing from big cities and having no connection with the masses. The revised textbooks for classes 10, 11 and 12 also bring students up to speed on current “hot topics” such as the Uniform Civil Code, Hindi as the country’s contact language and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policies, especially with reference to Pakistan. But what is bound to raise more eyebrows is Savarkar getting a big chuck of space, even edging out Jawahar Lal Nehru from the social science textbook of Class 10 and decimating Mahatma Gandhi to a passing reference. Education experts are calling these history “revisions” as Hinduisation of the country’s freedom struggle. Last year, India’s first Prime Minister Nehru was erased from the Class 8 textbook. The government, however, defends the revisions saying that Nehru has been given ample space in the Class 9 textbook. “Every hero can’t be included in every book,” says Vasudev Devnani, state education minister.


Army foils infiltration bid in J-K’s Nowgam, soldier and 3 militants dead
MMNN:8 Jun 2017

The infiltration bid took place along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowgam sector. A soldier was killed as the army foiled an infiltration bid on Thursday along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowgam sector, a spokesperson said. Three militants were also killed during the infiltration bid, the spokesperson said, adding that operations are on in the area. Weapons and warlike stores were recovered from the slain militants. On Wednesday, three militants were gunned down in Machhil sector near the LoC in north Kashmir. Three weapons were recovered from them.


Team India Players Attend Virat Kohli’s Charity Ball And Once Again Absconding Businessman Vijay Mallya Spotted At The Event
MMNN:6 Jun 2017

Ahead of Team India’s next encounter against Sri Lanka in Champions Trophy, cricketers took part in Virat Kohli’s charity ball on Monday. Along with the Indian players in attendance was absconding businessman Vijay Mallya. Mallya made his presence felt once again after he was spotted enjoying the India’s match against Pakistan from the VIP stand in Edgbaston on Sunday.


Five Pakistani nationals detained in Rajasthan; being interrogated by intelligence agencies
MMNN:5 Jun 2017

Jaipur: Five Pakistani nationals were detained in Barmer district of Rajasthan for violating visa norms.
Khojo Bhil (60), Chandu Bhil (75), his wife Dhai Bai Bhil (70), and two minors — Naresh Bhil (10) and Dharmi Bai (12) — had a visa for Jodhpur but travelled to Barmer. They were detained from Gadra road railway station in the district when they were waiting for a train to Jodhpur on Sunday. Khojo and Naresh came to Jodhpur two years ago and the other three entered India around 20 days back, Station House Officer (SHO) of Gadra road police station Karan Singh said. They were staying at their relatives' house in Barmer for two days. The place where they stayed is restricted for foreigners, the SHO said. They are being interrogated by intelligence agencies. Barmer is among four districts in western Rajasthan which lies along the border with Pakistan.


Infiltration down 45% since surgical strike, Kashmiri youth the future: Rajnath
MMNN:3 Jun 2017

Rajnath Singh reaffirmed the Narendra Modi government’s commitment to bringing peace in Kashmir and how the administration had thwarted Islamic State
"There is no dispute within the family. There is no reason for dispute. Whatever, problems are there, they are due to sycophancy and backbiting. Our first priority will be to unite the family", Shivpal said. "If family is united everything will be well. I ask everyone to sit with Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav), who is head of the family. I want him to get due respect and honour as he is the one who made Samajwadi Party. Whatever we are is due to him", he said. On his decision to form the 'Samajwadi Secular Front', which will be headed by Mulayam, Shivpal said that it will bring the party on the "right track". Maintaining that he is still in the party and will only try to strengthen it, Shivpal said, "if Mulayam gets due respect in the party, I am ready for any placement". Shivpal, who has been at odds with nephew and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, however had made it clear that he was forming just a "front" and not a political party. "We will constitute the Samajwadi Secular Front on July 6 to bring the SP on the right track. We will formally announce it at a meeting in Lucknow", Shivpal had said.


Indian cricket team upset before Champions Trophy tie vs Pakistan - This is why
MMNN:2 Jun 2017

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble had reservations as the practice arena was small in size. The main issue was the run-up for fast bowlers. India will begin their ICC Champions Trophy 2017 campaign against Pakistan in Birmingham on Sunday.
The Indian cricket team was unhappy with the practice facilities at Edgbaston with captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble making their displeasure known, according to a report on PTI. (ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY FULL COVERAGE) The report added that both Kohli and Kumble had reservations as the arena was small in size. The main issue was the run-up for fast bowlers.


Backbiting, sycophancy responsible for SP woes: Shivpal Yadav
MMNN:1 Jun 2017

LUCKNOW: Sidelined Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav on Thursday said he was ready for any "placement" in the party provided Mulayam Singh Yadav got "due respect" even as he held "sycophancy" and "backbiting" responsible for the party's woes. Mulayam's brother insisted that all will be well if the family is united.
"There is no dispute within the family. There is no reason for dispute. Whatever, problems are there, they are due to sycophancy and backbiting. Our first priority will be to unite the family", Shivpal said. "If family is united everything will be well. I ask everyone to sit with Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav), who is head of the family. I want him to get due respect and honour as he is the one who made Samajwadi Party. Whatever we are is due to him", he said. On his decision to form the 'Samajwadi Secular Front', which will be headed by Mulayam, Shivpal said that it will bring the party on the "right track". Maintaining that he is still in the party and will only try to strengthen it, Shivpal said, "if Mulayam gets due respect in the party, I am ready for any placement". Shivpal, who has been at odds with nephew and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, however had made it clear that he was forming just a "front" and not a political party. "We will constitute the Samajwadi Secular Front on July 6 to bring the SP on the right track. We will formally announce it at a meeting in Lucknow", Shivpal had said.


Narendra Modi four-nation tour Live: PM meets President of Spain Mariano Rajoy
MMNN:31 May 2017

Narendra Modi will hold discussions with his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy on ways to deepen bilateral engagement, including in the high-tech sector
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Madrid in the Spanish capital on Wednesday on the second leg of his six-day, four-nation tour aimed at boosting bilateral economic engagement with them and inviting more investment for India’s transformation. Modi’s visit to Spain is the first visit by an Indian prime minister since 1988. “Hola Espana! Prime Minister Modi arrives in Madrid, first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in nearly three decades, is received by Spanish FM in a special gesture,” said Gopal Baglay, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs in a tweet.


Police may have reached UP highway robbery victims sooner if they called 100
MMNN:27 May 2017

Officials say they have the ability to track people based on their mobile connections, and could have saved time looking for family that lost a member to robbers near Yamuna Expressway if they made the 100 call themselves
The UP police say they could have reached the victims of the highway robbery near Greater Noida within minutes if they had called 100 instead of their relatives back home, an official in the department said. A family of eight was attacked by robbers at around 1.30am on Thursday when they were on their way to Bulandshahr from Jewar on a desolate stretch close to the Yamuna Expressway. One of the men in the group was shot dead and the women said they had been raped. The case triggered fresh criticism of law and order in the country’s most populous state. Officials said the victims first called a relative in Jewar, who made the call to police. “A police response vehicle (PRV) located the relative in minutes, but since he had no idea where the victims were, we had to start canvassing the highway,” said additional director general (ADG) Anil Agarwal, in-charge of the UP-100 programme. PRVs, Agarwal explained, are equipped with devices that can relay the approximate location from where an emergency call was made to 100. The call lands at a centre in Lucknow, which gets the approximate location of the caller based on the mobile network towers from where he or she was connected. This information is passed on to screens in the PRVs, which are supposed to reach a victim with 30 minutes in rural areas and 15 in cities, the ADG said. In Thursday’s incident, the victim’s relative in Jewar was far from the crime scene. “The mobile phone of the victims was switched off, making it difficult for the UP-100 team to locate them,” said Agarwal. In the region, each PRV patrols a 30-km area and several were deployed to look for the family. When a team found the victims, the suspects had fled leaving one person dead and the others tied up. UP-100, an integrated emergency service, was launched by the previous government headed by the Samajwadi Party in November. The project began with 1,500 squad cars deployed across the state, managed from a control room in Lucknow that receives all calls made to 100 from within the state. Agarwal said that since its launch, UP-100 teams have rescued and attended to scores of people involved in accidents and crimes on highways. Highways are typically a blind spot for local police in India, and emergency response is complicated by matters of jurisdiction. The UP programme earned praise from the Union government’s Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), which urged governments in other states to replicate the model. During a presentation by police and home department in April, UP’s new chief minister Yogi Adityanath too stressed on the strengthening the UP-100 service.


3 years of Modi govt: Terrorism claims more lives in Kashmir, situation mixed in Northeast
MMNN:27 May 2017

As the BJP government completes three years in office this week, IndiaSpend is analysing five of its key electoral promises–on employment, Swachh Bharat, roads, access to electricity and terrorism.
Eight members of a family were travelling to Bulandshahr from Greater Noida’s Jewar when they were waylaid by the gang at about 1.30am. The six looted cash and valuables from the family and then raped the women, the police said, quoting the victims . When the man tried to resist, he was shot dead. “It’s a heinous crime. An FIR has been registered. A man has been murdered. Four women have alleged gang rape. Police teams are working on the case,” said Love Kumar, senior superintendent of Gautam Budh Nagar. “The women are being taken for medical examination. The post-mortem is being done. Two other teams are hunting for the suspects.” Police said the robbers first targeted the wheels of the vehicle, a Maruti Eeco van. “After crossing Sabota village, two tyres got punctured. The driver of the car stopped at 1:30am to check the wheels when six men armed with country-made pistols surrounded the vehicle,” said IG Meerut, Ram Kumar. The suspects snatched jewellery and Rs 47,500 in cash before tying the male passengers up with dupattas and taking the women to a field nearby, police said, quoting the victims. “Several teams have been formed to nab the criminals. We are also seeking help of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force,” said Kumar. Doctors tending to the victims were set to issue a statement on Thursday. Read | Noida woman, daughter raped near Bulandshahr highway, 15 detained Last July, a mother and her 13-year-old daughter were waylaid and raped by a group of highway robbers also in Bulandshahr. A Noida-based family of five was headed to Shahjahanpur when miscreants attacked them about 1.30 am on the Ghaziabad-Aligarh highway at Dostpur village, near Bulandshahr. The incident sparked a political slugfest ahead of the assembly elections and had brought under focus India’s largest state’s notorious reputation of being unsafe for women. The BJP swept to power two months ago on a promise of tighter law and order. Read | I want to punish attackers with my own hands: Bulandshahr rape victim Uttar Pradesh has the longest network of highways among all states, according to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) data. National Crime Records Bureau’s data for 2014 show the state also accounts for the highest number of highway crimes — 80% of the 84,000 cases of dacoity and thefts on highways across the country were recorded in Uttar Pradesh. “The victim’s family is from Jewar. They were travelling in Eeco car and going to Bulandshahr. The criminals threw something on the tyre and it got punctured. However, the driver of the car didn’t stop and drove for quite a distance and stopped near a hut,” Jewar MLA Thakur Dhirendra Singh said.


Women ‘gang-raped’, man killed: Police launch hunt for suspects in highway robbery near UP’s Bulandshahr
MMNN:25 May 2017

Family travelling to Greater Noida attacked by gang of robbers late night.Senior police officer confirms ‘heinous crime’.
Eight members of a family were travelling to Bulandshahr from Greater Noida’s Jewar when they were waylaid by the gang at about 1.30am. The six looted cash and valuables from the family and then raped the women, the police said, quoting the victims . When the man tried to resist, he was shot dead. “It’s a heinous crime. An FIR has been registered. A man has been murdered. Four women have alleged gang rape. Police teams are working on the case,” said Love Kumar, senior superintendent of Gautam Budh Nagar. “The women are being taken for medical examination. The post-mortem is being done. Two other teams are hunting for the suspects.” Police said the robbers first targeted the wheels of the vehicle, a Maruti Eeco van. “After crossing Sabota village, two tyres got punctured. The driver of the car stopped at 1:30am to check the wheels when six men armed with country-made pistols surrounded the vehicle,” said IG Meerut, Ram Kumar. The suspects snatched jewellery and Rs 47,500 in cash before tying the male passengers up with dupattas and taking the women to a field nearby, police said, quoting the victims. “Several teams have been formed to nab the criminals. We are also seeking help of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force,” said Kumar. Doctors tending to the victims were set to issue a statement on Thursday. Read | Noida woman, daughter raped near Bulandshahr highway, 15 detained Last July, a mother and her 13-year-old daughter were waylaid and raped by a group of highway robbers also in Bulandshahr. A Noida-based family of five was headed to Shahjahanpur when miscreants attacked them about 1.30 am on the Ghaziabad-Aligarh highway at Dostpur village, near Bulandshahr. The incident sparked a political slugfest ahead of the assembly elections and had brought under focus India’s largest state’s notorious reputation of being unsafe for women. The BJP swept to power two months ago on a promise of tighter law and order. Read | I want to punish attackers with my own hands: Bulandshahr rape victim Uttar Pradesh has the longest network of highways among all states, according to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) data. National Crime Records Bureau’s data for 2014 show the state also accounts for the highest number of highway crimes — 80% of the 84,000 cases of dacoity and thefts on highways across the country were recorded in Uttar Pradesh. “The victim’s family is from Jewar. They were travelling in Eeco car and going to Bulandshahr. The criminals threw something on the tyre and it got punctured. However, the driver of the car didn’t stop and drove for quite a distance and stopped near a hut,” Jewar MLA Thakur Dhirendra Singh said.


Saharanpur Dalit-Thakur violence: 5 things about UP’s caste-communal cauldron
MMNN:24 May 2017

Saharanpur in western UP has a history of caste and communal violence, fuelled by religious diversity and political attempts at polarisation
A wave of caste clashes at the westernmost tip of Uttar Pradesh spanning the past two weeks has killed two Dalits and injured scores. But this is only the latest of many such caste and communal conflagrations in Saharanpur. Here are five things to know about UP’s cauldron of sectarian violence:
1. The current flare-up began on May 5 when Dalits objected to a procession carried out by Thakurs and Rajputs to commemorate 16th century king Maharana Pratap. The ensuing clashes killed one Thakur youth. Hours later, around 50 Dalit houses were torched.
2. Earlier this month, A BJP rally held to mark Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary in Sadak Dudhali village near Saharanpur sparked angry protests from locals. The dispute turned violent and injured 15 people, before the police stepped in and stopped the procession for being organised without permission. Hours later, members of the BJP — including MP Raghav Lakhanpal, his MLA brother Rahul Lakhanpal — barged into the house of the senior superintendent of police and their supporters allegedly vandalised the premises.
3. In July 2014, Saharanpur was rocked by pitched battles between the Sikh and Muslim communities over a property dispute. Three were killed, more than 50 injured and police had to issue shoot-at-sight orders to control mobs.


Indian national Uzma, who was forced to marry in Pak, allowed to return home
MMNN:24 May 2017

Uzma had travelled to Pakistan earlier this month. She had said that Pakistani national Tahir Ali “forced” her to marry him at gun point.
The Islamabad high court allowed on Wednesday an Indian woman, who has sought refuge at the Indian mission here after accusing a Pakistani man of forcibly marrying her, to return to India, a media report said. Uzma, in her early 20s, had travelled to Pakistan earlier this month. She had said that Pakistani national Tahir Ali “forced” her to marry him at gun point. Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani was hearing pleas filed by Uzma and Ali. While Uzma had requested to be repatriated to India, Ali had asked to be allowed to meet his wife. The HC assured Uzma, who hails from New Delhi, that she was free to return to India at any point and would be escorted to the Wagah Border with police security, Dawn newspaper reported. During the hearing, the judge asked Uzma if she wished to speak to her husband but she refused. She has alleged that her travel documents were stolen by Ali. Uzma had petitioned the court on May 12 with the request and had submitted a medical report, showing that her daughter was suffering from thalassemia - an inherited blood disorder characterised by abnormal hemoglobin production - and she urgently needed to return to India. Uzma and Ali reportedly met in Malaysia and fell in love, after which she travelled to Pakistan on May 1 via the Wagah Border. The two contracted nikkah (marriage) on May 3.


Centre renames maternity benefit scheme, adds Pradhan Mantri to it
MMNN:24 May 2017

Government sources say the name of the scheme, which was cleared by the Union cabinet last week, was changed to make it more appealing.
The Centre has renamed the Matritva Sahyog Yojana - a scheme under which pregnant and lactating mothers get Rs 6,000 to for the first live birth - as Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) in yet another instance of the Prime Minister’s name being prefixed to a government programme. Government sources said the name of the scheme, which was cleared by the Union cabinet last week, was changed to make it more appealing. “The earlier name did not ring a bell. Many targeted beneficiaries were not even aware,” said a senior women and child development (WCD) ministry official. This is the second time that the scheme’s name has been changed. When it was launched in 2010 it was called the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana. After coming to power in 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government dropped “Indira Gandhi” from the scheme.
PMMVY is the latest to be affixed with Pradhan Mantri. Since 2014, over a dozen schemes have been launched or re-launched across ministries and have been affixed with PM. These include the PM Dhan Yojana, PM Awas Yojana, PM Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, PM Mudra Yojana, PM Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, PM Gram Sinchai Yojana, PM Suraksha Bima Yojana, PM Fasal Bima Yojana, PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, PM Khanij Kshetra Yojana, PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana among others. The BJP’s political adversaries have accused the ruling dispensation of centralising everything around Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who remains the party’s most popular face. The saffron party, however, said Pradhan Mantri is a “neutral term” and is connected with development. “Unlike UPA era when programs were named after the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, the BJP led NDA government has mostly done away with the practice. Instead of naming schemes after some person, they are using Pradhan Mantri, which is a neutral term. The idea is to project the PM as the face associated with development,” said a senior BJP leader. It is a similar strategy that the BJP has used in a string of state assembly elections in the last 3 years. “Be it Bihar or the recent Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand polls, the party did not project a CM face. In the recent state assembly elections, for instance, the campaign revolved around PM Narendra Modi and his style of development oriented, corruption free governance. And the strategy worked,” said another BJP leader, who did not want to be named.


Indian taxi driver ‘racially’ abused, beaten up in Australia: Report
MMNN:22 May 2017

The cab driver Pardeep Singh was beaten at the Sandy Bay McDonald’s drive-through in Australia’s island state of Tasmania.
A 25-year-old Indian taxi driver in Australia has been assaulted and knocked unconscious by two passengers, including a woman, who yelled racial slurs at him, a media report said on Monday.
Pardeep Singh, who is studying hospitality in the country, was beaten at the Sandy Bay McDonald’s drive-through in Australia’s island state of Tasmania on Saturday night.
Singh said he was attacked when he asked his passenger to step outside the cab because she was going to vomit, The Mercury reported.
“If you mess up the car you have to pay a cleaning fee,” Singh told the passengers. Singh alleged the woman passenger told him in an expletive-filled rant that she wouldn’t pay the fare or the cleaning fee. “They punched me too many times and kicked me,” Singh said. “[They said] ‘You f.....g Indians deserve this’.” Singh was admitted to the Royal Hobart Hospital.
Inspector Ian Whish-Wilson said a man and a woman have been charged in relation to the assault on Singh. They will appear in the Hobart Magistrates Court on June 26. “It is alleged that the driver asked the passengers to leave his taxi after one of them was sick,” Wilson said. “There was a dispute over payment and it is alleged the passengers assaulted the driver and damaged the vehicle.
“It was alleged a racial comment was made during the assault but it does not appear that the incident was racially- motivated,”Wilson said. It is the third attack on an Indian taxi driver in Australia in less than a year. Indian cabbie Li Max Joy was assaulted by four teenagers in the Argyle St McDonald’s in the early hours of March 25 and a third driver was assaulted by four men in June last year. Wilson said charges have also been laid in relation to the March assault on Joy but no “special investigative unit” has been established. Singh said he will not drive taxis again “because it’s so dangerous”.


PM Modi’s fourth visit to Gujarat begins today, Congress calls it ‘political compulsion’
MMNN:22 May 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will preside over annual general meeting of African Development Bank (AfDB), among other programmes. Congress described Modi’s visits to Gujarat, which goes to polls this year, as “a political compulsion to bolster a weak state BJP leadership”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to home state Gujarat, where elections are expected by the end of the year, is scheduled to begin on Monday afternoon. This will be Modi’s fourth visit to Gujarat in this year. Congress state unit chief Bharatsinh Solanki said the PM’s “frequent visits” to Gujarat were “a political compulsion to bolster a weak state BJP leadership”. Modi will preside over a couple of inauguration ceremonies and also attend the annual general meeting (AGM) of African Development Bank (AfDB). He is scheduled to land at Bhuj around 2.30 pm and head to a foundation ceremony for two general cargo berths at Kandla Port. Later, he will inaugurate Narmada water pumping station at Bhachchau for Kutch and address a public meeting. On Tuesday, the PM will attend the 52nd AGM of the AfDB at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. ‘Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa’ is the central theme of the five-day meet. Apart from 54 African region members, this financial institute has 24 non-regional members. Nearly 3,000 delegates, several heads of state, and finance ministers from 80 countries are expected to participate in the AGM. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is India’s governor to AfDB, will be the chairperson at the event. Seminars, exhibitions by private companies, and the release of African Economic Outlook 2017 are among the programmes at the event. On the eve of Modi’s visit, Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel and 50 of his community youths tonsured their heads, raising the political heat in Gujarat. Patidars, a financially and politically influential community and BJP supporters for three decades, are up in arms against the state government seeking OBC status.




‘Enough negative politics’: Shatrughan takes on critics targeting Lalu, Kejriwal
MMNN:22 May 2017

BJP leader wants critics of Delhi CM Arvind Kejrwal and RJD chief Lalu Prasad to substantiate allegations.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and RJD boss Lalu Prasad, facing corruption allegation, have received a support from an unusual ally: BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha. “Enough of negative politics & mudslinging by opponents on our political leaders, be it Kejriwal, Laloo Yadav (sic) or Sushil Modi,” Sinha tweeted on Monday. The actor-turned-politician said the allegations must be substantiated. “High time to substantiate your claims..or pack up! Can’t just keep feeding media with one night stories & sensationalising. Enough is enough!” A Lok Sabha member from Bihar, Sinha said he holds all political leaders, especially Kejriwal, in high esteem for their “credibility, struggle & commitment” towards society. “Our BJP surely believes in honesty & transparency, which seldom go together, but must go together. An allegation is ONLY THAT unless proved!” he wrote on the micro blogging site. Kejriwal’s former colleague Kapil Mishra has accused him of giving undue benefits to a relative and taking Rs 2 crore in cash from another minister, Satyendra Jain. Lalu Prasad’s family members have been accused of amassing wealth disproportionate to their known income. In both cases, the Bharatiya Janata Party is one of the most prominent voices calling for action against the two leaders. Sinha’s tweet triggered an outrage in the BJP. “Jis Lalu ki benami sampatti ke bachav mein Nitish nahi utare, uske bachav mein bhajpa ke shatru kood pade (BJP’s ‘shatru’ came to the defence of the benami properties of that Lalu who is not being defended by even Nitish),” Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi wrote on Twitter. Sinha is known for airing views contrary to the party’s stand and has been sidelined by the BJP. He has praised Kejriwal and Lalu in the past as well.




President, Union ministers may soon have to give speeches only in Hindi
MMNN:18 April 2017

All dignitaries, including the President and Union ministers, may soon start giving speeches in Hindi if a parliamentary panel's recommendations accepted by President Pranab Mukherjee are implemented.
Mukherjee has accepted most of the recommendations made in the ninth report of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language. The report was submitted in 2011.
The panel's recommendation that all dignitaries including the President and ministers, especially those who can read and speak Hindi, may be requested to give their speech/statement in Hindi only, has been accepted, as per an official order.
The President has accepted many other recommendations, including making announcements on civilian flights in Hindi followed by English.
On flights, half the reading material should consist of Hindi newspapers and magazines as "Hindi is grossly neglected by airlines", as per the panel's recommendation, was accepted by the President.
The ministry of civil aviation has been asked to ensure implementation of these recommendations.
Mukherjee has accepted another recommendation of the committee that maximum usage of Hindi should be ensured on all tickets of Air India and Pawan Hans helicopters.
The recommendation favouring 100% availability of training material in bilingual at the Mussoorie-based Lal Bahadur Shashtri National Administrative Academy, the premier institute to train civil servants including those in Indian Administrative Service (IAS), has also been accepted.
The panel had asked the ministry of human resource development to make serious efforts to make Hindi language compulsory in curriculum. "As a first step, Hindi should be made a compulsory subject up to tenth standard in all schools of CBSE and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan," it had recommended.
"This recommendation is accepted in principle. The Union government should form a policy in consultation with state governments," the order said.
Another recommendation accepted by the President is that universities and higher educational institutes situated in non-Hindi speaking states, where the students are not given an option for Hindi to appear in exams/interviews, must be given an option to answer in Hindi.
In Guwahati on Tuesday, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu urged people to use Hindi daily along with regional languages.
"The Centre is using more and more Hindi in government programmes and policies and we have to make the habit of using the Rashtrabhasha in our day-to-day life, along with the regional languages," Naidu said while presiding over a meeting of the Joint Hindi Advisory Committee.



Average monsoons: Analysts see farm GDP clipping at 3-4 per cent
MMNN:18 April 2017

A normal monsoon season, as projected by the Met department (IMD) could help the agricultural GDP grow by 3-4 per cent this year, a tad lower than last year's, says a report. The IMD today said there would be good distribution of rainfall across the country and it will receive 96 per cent of the long period average. "We believe that the agricultural GDP is most likely to be in range of 3-4 per cent, a tad low compared to 2016-17, if rainfall remains normal," an SBI Research said. It said even in case of deficit rainfalls there are instances where agri-GDP has in fact expanded and smartly grew in slightly more than normal rainfall in 2010 and 2011.
In 2009, despite a 22 per cent decline in rainfalls, agri-GDP expanded by 0.8 per cent. The report said the current year's forecast is majorly important for the farm sector with initial reports pointing fingers at the El Nino which may happen during the later part of the year.
The IMD, however, says weak EL Nino and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are currently combining to give a positive monsoon scenario in 2017. The report said an analysis of monsoon forecast (1st and 2nd stage) since 2008 indicates that IMD has only once increased its 2nd stage forecast (in 2014), else the forecast remained same or slightly less than the first.
"With a 38 per cent probability of normal rainfalls, we believe rainfall is most likely to be higher than 96 per cent of LPA," the report said.
Meanwhile, Icra in a report said the timing of rainfall will be crucial as higher rainfall in the early part of the monsoon may support sowing while adequate rainfalls in the second half is important for yields. Its principal economist Aditi Nayar said if rainfall is around 96 per cent, our baseline expectation is that growth of agricultural GVA will moderate from above 4 per cent in fiscal 2017 to 3.6 per cent in fiscal 2018.
Partly due to unfavourable rainfalls and reservoir levels, the GVA for crops contracted by 2.2 per cent in 2016, she pointed out.



Modi hints at laws to push doctors to prescribe affordable, generic drugs
MMNN:17 April 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday indicated that his government may bring in a legal framework under which doctors will have to prescribe generic medicines, which are cheaper than equivalent branded drugs, to patients.
Modi said his government brought in a health policy after 15 years and capped the prices of medicines and stents, which has angered some pharmaceutical companies.
Speaking at the inauguration of a charitable hospital here, he exhorted the wealthy people to come forward and contribute towards health care of the needy people.
This country has not been built by the kings and leaders alone but by the power of the people, he said.
"Doctors write prescriptions in such a way that poor people do not understand the handwriting, and he has to buy that medicine from private stores at high prices," Modi said.
"We will bring in a legal framework by which if a doctor writes a prescription, he has to write in it that it will be enough for patients to buy generic medicine and he need not buy any other medicine," he said.
"In our country doctors are less, hospitals are less and medicines are expensive. If one person falls ill in a middle class family, then the financial health of the family gets wrecked. He cannot buy a house, cannot conduct the marriage of daughter," he pointed out.
"It is the government's responsibility that everybody should get health services at minimal price," the PM said.
"We have recently declared a health policy. The health policy has been brought in after 15 years," he said.
"Earlier, the health policy was brought when Atalji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) was the Prime Minister. Nothing happened in between (in health sector), which I have to do (now)," Modi said targeting the previous UPA government led by the Congress.
"When I was in Gujarat, I used to attract the wrath of many (by my decisions). Now when I have gone to Delhi, I have been instrumental in making many people angry, everyday I do some work which makes some or other person sulk," he said.
"See these companies which are manufacturing medicines, they used to charge Rs 1,200 for an injection. We called everyone (pharma companies) and ensured that the prices are reduced.
"The prices of 700 medicines were capped so that poor people get medicines at reasonable rates when they face grave diseases," Modi said.
"We have also capped the prices of stents used in heart ailments," he said.
"We have done this work, and you can imagine how angry the manufacturers of medicines will be. Despite the wrath of a very powerful lobby, the government is taking one step after another so that poor people and middle class get quality health services," the Prime Minister said.
He said the government has implemented the 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna', where people get generic medicines from stores at reasonable rates.
Modi also stressed on preventive health care saying if people adopt it, they will not have to visit hospitals.
"Preventive health care is very important. My Swachhta Abhiyan (cleanliness campaign) is aimed at preventive healthcare as it has been proved that many diseases are contracted if we live in an unclean environment," he said.
"Yoga is also very important for wellness and I am running a campaign to make it popular across the world," he said.
He exhorted the well-off people to come forward and provide health care to the poor and middle class people.
"We require a jan andolan, jan shakti to provide effective healthcare to every person in the country," he said.
"Our country has a different mentality, our country was not made by governments, our country was not made by kings, neither by leaders, our country was built by the service oriented approach of our countrymen," he said.
"'Seva permo dharma' has been the motto of our people," the PM said.
"You tell me the dharmshalas outside every important pilgrim town, were they built by the government? Who used to build wells and lakes in villages? Did the government build it? he asked.
"The cow shelters in villages are not built by the government, libraries are not built by government," he said asking people to come forward to build and run hospitals in the rural areas.
Prior to his speech, Modi inaugurated the Rs 400 crore Kiran Multi Super Speciality Hospital and Research Centre, built by Samast Patidar Arogya Trust in Katargam area here.
He had also laid the foundation stone of the hospital when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.



Budget Session most productive; 18 bills passed by both houses: Ananth Kumar
MMNN:17 April 2017

Uttar Pradesh's BJP chief minister Adityanath today compared those who are silent and don't speak out against triple talaq to those who stood by silently while Draupadi was being stripped in the Mahabharat myth.
"I'm reminded of everyone staying silent when Draupadi was being disrobed. Those who stayed silent were as guilty and at fault as those who disrobed her. Similarly, the people who are silent on the issue of triple talaq are equally guilty," he said at a Lucknow event.
"I'm surprised over the silence over a burning issue of triple talaq by certain individuals," he added, while speaking at an event to release a book on late politician Chandrashekhar, who was once India's Prime Minister.
"Even Chandrashekhar was in favour of a common civil code," the UP CM said, adding that everyone should speak out against oral talaq.
The Supreme Court (SC) is currently hearing a case on the constitutional validity of triple talaq+ , the Islamic practice some Muslims follow of divorcing their wife by saying the word 'talaq' three times.
The Centre and some NGOs, who are a party in the case in the SC, have submitted that triple talaq violates the right to gender equality. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and other clerics have argued that triple talaq has the sanction of the Quran, forms part of Muslim Personal Law, and therefore, falls squarely outside the purview of the judiciary. It also said declaring it unconstitutional is akin to "rewriting the Quran."
"Those who give triple talaq without reasons+ prescribed by the Sharia (religious law) will face social boycott," said the AIMPLB yesterday.
"There has been misunderstanding on this issue, we will issue a code of conduct on it," it added.
Adityanath also chose to touch on Kashmir - which has been wracked with violence lately - and said he agreed with Chandrashekhar that Kashmir must remain a part of India.
"Chandrashekhar had said that if Kashmir is separated, India will lose its belief," Adityanath said at the book launch.



EVM tampering: Opposition parties have failed to take defeat sportingly, put EC image in dock
MMNN:12 April 2017

Senior Congress leader M Veerapa Moily's statement taking on his own party the Indian National Congress for showing a "defeatist" mindset on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is indicative of the deep divide that exists in the main opposition party's ranks on the issue. It also shows the kind of anxiety that is there among a section of its leaders over the party leadership's rent-a-cause attitude, irrespective of the veracity of the issue, its degree of popular support and potential pitfalls.
The shrillness with which the 16 political parties including Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), All India Trinamool Congress (TMC), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Aam Aadmi Party and the Left parties are alleging EVM tampering essentially suggests they have not reconciled to the defeat in recent rounds of Assembly and local bodies elections.
Finding fault at the EVM, which have been delivering credible and fast results for over 35 years, is an easy alibi to take the attention away from the concerned parties leadership failure to win public trust and votes. Unfortunately, the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Mamata Banerjee, D Raja, Sharad Pawar, Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav have chosen to fight a flimsy, fictitious battle against trustworthy voting machines when they should have been fighting a political battle against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on policies and issues through varied programmes.
It should be noted that Rahul Gandhi has not held a single review meeting with his party leaders after Congress's rout in UP and Uttrakhand. The UP election results have thrown a situation where Mayawati would not remain a Member of Parliament (MP) in Rajya Sabha after March 2013. With zero seats in Lok Sabha, staring at a zero in Rajya Sabha in times to come and with negligible numbers in the UP assembly, Mayawati, like Congress, is facing an existential crisis. It is anybody's guess why Mayawati came out with EVM tinkering theory even as the results were still coming out. Anyone who had covered UP elections with open eyes could sense a wave-like situation for BJP.
The Congress party is even unmindful of the fact that it was Rajeev Gandhi government with its brute majority in Parliament in 1988 that had amended Representation of the People Act and inserted a new section 61A to empower the Election Commission of India to use voting machines. Since the year 2000, EVMs have been successfully used in 107 Assembly elections and three Parliamentary elections.
Elections of all kinds - Parliamentary, Assembly, Presidential and local bodies (rural and urban included) in the country - are held by ECI and by the election commissions of respective states. All officials, central and state engaged for poll-related works function during election period under the strict supervision of ECI. By alleging that BJP has been tinkering with EVMs, election after election, at whim in whichever part of the country it so wishes is actually a charge against the ECI, a Constitutional Body which is recognised across the world as the finest impartial institution India has created to hold free and fair elections.
The sixteen political parties have not only latched on to Mayawati's accusations on EVMs recording most votes to BJP in the recently concluded UP Assembly election but they stretched it to all recent municipal and panchayat elections in the recent past. The ECI has given a detailed point-by-point rebuttal to charges made by these parties. The poll panel also clarified that there are multi-layered check processes where representatives of political parties participate in testing and sealing of the EVM machines from the point it is released from the factory to polling stations. The parties, candidates and their representatives have multiple occasions to point out a malfunction if they find one.
The EC has also clarified in Bhind and Dholpur incidents.
Those raising a hell against the ECI, the Modi government and BJP on flimsy claims of EVM tinkering should spare some minutes to read various judicial pronouncements. Since 2001, the matter has been settled by five high courts - Madras High Court in 2001, Delhi High Court in 2004, Karnataka High Court in 2004, Kerala High Court in 2002 and Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) in 2004. The verdicts of the high courts concluded that EVMs are credible, reliable and totally tamperproof. In some of these cases, even the Supreme Court dismissed appeals filed by some petitioners against the high court orders.
it's worth noting what the Karnataka High Court had to say on the matter: "This invention is undoubtedly a great achievement in electronic and the computer technology and a national pride." The Madras High Court observed: "There is also no question of introducing any virus or bugs for the reason that the EVMs cannot be compared to personal computers. The programming in computers, as suggested, has no bearing with the EVMs. The computer would have inherent limitations having connections through the Internet and by their very design, they may allow the alteration of the programme but the EVMs are independent units and the programme in EVM is entirely a different system."
Supposing for a moment that the charges levelled by the Opposition parties are true then one also has to appreciate the kind of invisible army of thousands and even lakhs of well-trained people that the BJP has created to stealthily manually tamper every single sealed EVM that is kept in polling stations. Not just that, the BJP has compromised the entire system - the ECI, its state subsidiaries, poll officials at all levels, security officials and personnel at all levels, parties' candidates and their representatives in all constituencies - without the world getting an inkling of it. They have done it without getting noticed at any level of the multi-tiered checks. Going by that assumption, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have to be geniuses of the highest order who could create and an army of invisible "Mr Indias" whose stealth acts - breaking and reassembling of lakhs of EVMs - would not be seen by anyone or captured by any camera.
In 2014, when BJP registered an emphatic victory in the Parliamentary elections, Congress was ruling at the centre and the party and its new-found 16-party EVM brigade were ruling the two-third of the states in India. When BJP won UP in March 2017, the state was under the rule of SP while Uttrakhand was ruled by Congress. AAP won Delhi in 2015, winning 67 out of the 70 seats when BJP was ruling at the centre and the state was in Lt Governor's rule. BJP lost Bihar and Punjab but then the EVM brigade said that BJP consciously didn't tamper polling machines there.



Budget Session most productive; 18 bills passed by both houses: Ananth Kumar
MMNN:12 April 2017

The Budget Session of Parliament has been one of the most productive sessions in its history, Union Minister Ananth Kumar said today, adding that as many as 18 bills were passed by both the houses during the session. The productivity of Lok Sabha during the Budget Session was 114 per cent while that of Rajya Sabha was 92 per cent. As many as 23 bills were passed in the Lower House and 14 legislations in the Upper House, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said.
While in both houses 18 bills were passed, he said. The major highlight of the session was the passage of four Goods and Services Tax (GST) bills to enable the implementation of the new indirect tax regime from July 1, he said.
"I think this was one of the most productive budget sessions and it will go down as the golden chapter in the Parliament's history," Kumar told reporters here.
It is for the first time in the Indian legislative history that all financial business of government, including passage of finance bill and demand for grants and appropriation bill, was completed before the start of next fiscal, he said.
Besides, some other important legislations including Maternity Benefit (Amendment) bill, Enemy Property bill and Mental Health Care bill were passed by both the houses. The Budget Session started from January 31 and came to a close today.



Kulbhushan Jadhav's death sentence: Sushma Swaraj warns Pak, Parliament speaks in one voice; top 10 developments
MMNN:11 April 2017

A united parliament stood in protest on Tuesday against the death sentence to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan. Jadhav was sentenced on charges of espionage and destabilising peace in Pakistan. Pakistan's Inter-services public relations office issued a statement confirming the news on Monday. Here is how things unfolded since his sentencing:
1. Kulbhushan Jadhav was tried though Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of of?cial Secret Act of 1923 and awarded death sentence. The charges levelled against him included destabilising peace in Pakistan's Balochistan region and Karachi in Sindh. He was also charged with waging war against Pakistan. The trial was conducted secretly.
2. Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations office issued a press statement announcing his death sentence. The statement named him as Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)India's external intelligence agency.
3. Hours after the announcement of Jadhav's death sentence, India summoned Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and a demarche was issued terming the sentence as farcical.
A warning was also issued by the Indian government that if the execution was carried out by the Pakistani government, India would consider it as a premeditated murder.
4. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke in Parliament on Jadhav's sentencing. Swaraj issued a stern warning to Pakistan threatening if they go ahead with the death sentence of Jadhav, it will have consequences. The minister cautioned Pakistan that the execution will have a serious impact on bilateral relations between the two neighbours.
5. Swaraj assured that the government will make sure Jadhav gets the best legal support to fight his case. The minister, replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, said: "Our position is very clear, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Kulbhushan Jadhav," Swaraj also said that the government would raise the matter at different levels indicating that it may resort to applying diplomatic pressure by raising the matter in the United Nations.
6. Earlier, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Shashi Tharoor and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi had raised the issue in parliament demanding a reaction and response from the government. Kharge said: ""If we fail to save Kulbhushan Jadhav, then it will be government's weakness." While Owaisi added that the Pakistani military court was a banana court and the Indian government should use all its clout and influence to bring back Kulbhushan Jadhav. The parliament spoke in a united voice against Pakistani action backing the government to take the sternest measures.
7. Support came from all quarters of the government machinery. Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed his ministry's support to Kulbhushan Jadhav in his address to Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Rajnath said that the government of India will do all it takes to save the life of Kulbhushan Jadhav.
8. Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif came out in defence of the military court's decision to grant Kulbhushan a death sentence. He said that all laws of the land were followed and that the sentencing was done only after a three-month trial. In November, Pakistani Prime Minister's advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had said that there was insufficient evidence on Jadhav. However, he recently retracted his statement and thereafter his trial resulted in a death sentence.
9. Jadhav was charged with carrying out counter-intelligence and subversive operations in Pakistan. Asif also said in his statement that this sentencing should serve as a warning to all those who were "plotting" against Pakistan. "Those plotting against Pakistan will not be spared," he said.
10. Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 from Mashkel, Balochistan region in Pakistan. After an interrogation of three weeks, a video was released by ISPR where Jadhav was seen giving a confession of being an agent of the R&AW. Indian government denied the validity of the video alleging coercion, tutoring and doctoring of video. According to Indian government, Kulbhushan, 46, is not a serving Navy officer and he left service in 2002. The government states he is a businessman and was in no way related to any government activities.



Work like Hanuman, PM Modi tells BJP MPs for govt achievements
MMNN:11 April 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed satisfaction on a successful budget session, which he said had been "very meaningful and useful", and advised BJP MPs to work like Lord Hanuman to publicise the government's achievements. Addressing Bharatiya Janata Party MPs here, Modi told them not to wait for his instructions before carrying out government work among the people.
"When Lakshman went into coma, Hanumanji went to find a cure without any prodding. Similarly, MPs must go ahead without waiting for instructions.
They need to carry forward the government's work among the masses," a BJP MP who attended the meeting quoted Modi as saying.
Modi's remarks came after he greeted people and MPs on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti. Modi urged the MPs to get inspiration from Hanuman.
"Take inspiration from Hanuman. He never took anything from anyone but he kept giving. You also need to give to people like him," Modi said.
Asking MPs to go their parliamentary constituencies, Modi they too needed to establish their own identity despite banking on him (Modi). Later, talking to reporters, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar said the Prime Minister dubbed the budget session as 'Vijay Prapti Satra' (Winner Session) for the government.
"Modiji said the budget session was very meaningful and useful. It was a 'Vijay Prapti Satra'," Kumar quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
BJP sources said Modi also spoke about the positive mood among people reflected in the sweeping win for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the just held assembly elections.
"This is a golden opportunity for us to lift the lives of the poor, the deprived. This is the time for doing more development and reforms," Modi said.
He congratulated the MPs for the passage of 21 bills in the Lok Sabha and 14 in the Rajya Sabha including the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST). The Prime Minister said there was an environment in the country in favour of the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) it leads.
"This is a golden opportunity to move on the path of development."
Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also addressed the MPs and hailed Modi for providing the country a tranformative leadership.
Naidu said in just three years, Modi had emerged as the messiah of the poor. Naidu also gave tasks to MPs for the third anniversary celebration of the Modi government. This was the last BJP parliamentary party meeting of the budget session which ends on Wednesday.



Kulbhushan Jadhav, accused by Pakistan of being a RAW spy, sentenced to death
MMNN:10 April 2017

Pakistan said on Monday that a military court has sentenced to death former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav for allegedly spying and stoking violence in Balochistan, drawing an angry response from New Delhi which described it as "premeditated murder" if carried out.
India summoned the Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit and handed over a demarche describing the court proceedings as "farcical" and also put on hold the release of several Pakistani prisoners, scheduled for Wednesday.
Jadhav was arrested on March 3 last year in Balochistan and accused of being a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) agent who was fuelling the Baloch separatist movement and attempting to sabotage the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. India denies the charges.
A statement by the Pakistani military's publicity wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said Jadhav was declared guilty by an army court of waging war against the country.
"The spy was tried through field general court martial under the Pakistan army act and awarded the death sentence. Today chief of army staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed his death sentence awarded by FGCM," the ISPR said.
"He confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi."
Relations between the neighbours are at their lowest in several years following a string of militants on defence installations in India, which New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based groups.
Shorty after the Pakistan army statement, Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar summoned Basit - whose successor was incidentally named on Monday and handed over the demarche.
"If this sentence (is) against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the government and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder," the demarche said.
"The proceedings that have led to the sentence against Jadhav are farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him. It is significant that our high commission was not even informed that Jadhav was being brought to trial."
Last December, Pakistan's foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz told the upper house of Parliament that the "dossier on Jadhav contained mere statements" and didn't have any conclusive evidence. Hours later, Pakistan denied the statement.
Pakistan Army had also released a "confessional video" of Jadhav who is purportedly heard saying that he was serving the Indian navy. In the video, Jadhav allegedly says he arrived in Iran in 2003 and started a small business in Chahbahar.
Islamabad also repeatedly refused India's request for access to Jadhav, who allegedly held an Iranian residency permit and a passport in the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel. The place of birth given in this passport was apparently Sangli, Maharashtra.
Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of fomenting unrest in Balochistan, the country's largest province, but it has never offered any evidence to back up its claims. India last year launched a new offensive by highlighting Pakistan's human rights abuses in Balochistan.
Though several suspected Pakistani spies were arrested in India over the years, none had been sentenced to death.
In 1999, Pakistan had hanged an Indian, Sheikh Shamim, also on charges of spying.
In 2013, another Indian national, Sarabjit Singh, who was sentenced to death for spying in Pakistan, was killed in jail after being attacked by fellow inmates. Singh was on death row for 16 years. However, previous cases have largely gone through civilian courts.
Months later, a Pakistani prisoner was killed by inmates in the Jammu jail.



India, Australia ink pact to expand counter-terror cooperation
MMNN:10 April 2017

A pact to significantly expand counter-terror cooperation was among six agreements India and Australia inked today as the two countries called for strong action against those financing and providing sanctuary to terror groups.
However, no breakthrough was achieved on a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull who merely decided to direct their respective officials to hold an early round of negotiations for the free trade deal.
During their talks, the two leaders decided to significantly expand their ties in several key areas including defence, trade, energy and education.
While Modi thanked Turnbull for passage of a legislation by the Australian parliament with bi-partisan support paving way for the country to export uranium to India, Turnbull said he was looking forward to starting the supply "as soon as possible".
Both the prime ministers felt that commercial export of Australian uranium could begin soon, opening up a new avenue for Australia to support Indias energy requirement.
The entire expanse of bilateral ties was reviewed at the talks including issues relating to Indian students studying in Australia and ways to deepen maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.
"We took a number of forward-looking decisions to further strengthen our partnership, including the decision to soon hold the next round of negotiations on a CECA," Modi said at a joint media event with Turnbull.
Using cricket analogy, Modi, in a lighter vein, said "I am, of course, glad that our decisions are not subject to the DRS review system." Decision Review System (DRS) is a technology-based mechanism in cricket to review controversial umpiring decisions.
Referring to martime issues, the joint statement said both leaders recognised the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with the international law. It is seen as a reference to Chinas growing assertiveness in South China.
Modi and Turnbull also welcomed "continued and deepened" trilateral cooperation and dialogue among Australia, India and Japan.
In the talks. Turnbull noted Australias strong support for Indias membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. He also said Australia supports Indias entry into the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement, the two key export control groups.
On CECA, Turnbull did not give a timeline for the deal but said, "I think its fair to say that progress has not been as fast as either of us would have liked."
The two prime ministers have now asked negotiators on both sides to find a way out and list their priorities soon so that talks on it can move forward. There were indications that sticking points on the pact included issues relating to agriculture.
On the threat of terrorism, the two leaders asserted that the fight against terrorists, terror organisations and networks should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against those who encourage, support and finance terror, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues.
"They emphasised the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism and radicalisation and expressed their determination to take concrete measures to step up cooperation and coordination among the law enforcement, intelligence and security organisations," a joint statement said.
The MoUs signed provided for deeper cooperation in areas of health and medicine, sports, environment, climate and wildlife, civil aviation security and cooperation in space technology.
Expressing happiness over cooperation in the energy sector, Modi said, "With the passage of a legislation in the Australian parliament with bi-partisan support, Australia is now ready to export uranium to India."
He also thanked Turnbull for Australias decision to join the International Solar Alliance. Referring to cooperation in the maritime sphere, Modi said peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific was key for economic growth.
"We, therefore, agree on the need for a secure and rule- based Indo-Pacific. We are also aware that in this globalised world, challenges like terrorism and cyber security extend beyond the boundaries of our region and, therefore, require global strategy and solutions," he said.
Modi said cooperation between the two countries in the area of defence and security has reached new heights.
The two prime ministers highlighted their shared desire to ensure that Indian Ocean architecture keeps pace with regional issues and addresses emerging threats and challenges in the region.
Noting that both the countries have been victims of terrorism, Modi and Turnbull said the signing of the MoU on cooperation in combating international terrorism and transnational organised crime will help both countries to address global and regional security threats.
"Our strong and vibrant strategic partnership is of course important for the security and well-being of our societies. But, it is also a major factor for peace, stability and security in our region," Modi said.
He said student exchanges are an important element of bilateral education cooperation and referred to more than 60,000 Indian students studying in the country.



As PM Narendra Modi Welcomes Sheikh Hasina, An Outreach To Mamata Banerjee Too
MMNN:6 April 2017

"A visit without water" is how some officials are describing the visit to India of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, because a crucial water-sharing agreement, negotiated over nearly 20 years, is unlikely to progress during the three-day trip that begins tomorrow. That's because West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remains opposed to the agreement.
Yesterday, she said to officials in West Bengal, "There is a water crisis in Teesta River. Water levels are drying up in Teesta as well as in the Mahananda. Just imagine what will happen during peak summer."
The Teesta is one of nearly 50 cross-boundary rivers between India and Bangladesh. A water-sharing agreement exists only for one of them.
The latest draft of the agreement was prepared by Dr Manmohan Singh's government. It divides the waters of the Teesta equally between India and Bangladesh. Teesta originates in Sikkim and flows through West Bengal into Bangladesh.
In 2011, Dr Singh was prepping to sign the treaty on a trip to Dhaka, but at the last minute, Ms Banerjee pulled out of the visit, stating that the terms were damaging for her state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has not revised that draft. As part of the outreach to Ms Banerjee, she will be included at his lunch for the Bangladeshi premier on Saturday, and attend the launch of two new trains and a bus between Kolkata and Bangladesh.
This is Sheikh Hasina's first bilateral visit to India in seven years. She has been criticised at home for failing to close the Teesta deal.
During her visit, Bangladesh and India are likely to sign up to 35 agreements and memoranda of understanding for bilateral trade and investment and cooperation in the energy sector as well as better security along the highly-porous border between the two countries.
India is also expected to announce a fresh credit worth about $5 billion for infrastructure projects like railways, roads and waterways as Delhi moves to counter China's influence in neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh. Last year, Dhaka bought two submarines from China. India expects to sign a defense deal with Bangladesh during Sheikh Hasina's trip.



Babri case: SC for concluding joint trial, including one against Advani and other top BJP leaders, in 2 years
NEW DELHI: MMNN:6 April 2017

The Supreme Court on Thursday indicated that it will use its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to transfer the Babri Masjid demolition related trial in Rae Bareilly against top BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to Lucknow, where a CBI court is hearing conspiracy and other serious criminal charges against "lakhs of unknown kar sevaks" for the actual act of razing down the 15th century mosque.
A Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Rohinton Nariman, while reserving the judgment on the CBI's appeal to revive the conspiracy charges against BJP leaders, indicated during the morning hearing that it plans to order for a joint trial in Lucknow.
Terming the 25-year pendency in the Babri demolition trials an "evasion of justice," Justice Ghose said the Supreme Court plans to order the joint trial to be completed in two years.
"Kindly notice that this is a matter of 1992. Twenty-five years have passed. Our answer is have it on a day-to-day basis and finish it off in the next two years," he observed.
Justice Nariman at one point remarked how "many of the accused are dead and some will die now."
'Evasion of justice'
As far as the Rae Bareilly case is concerned, the court has examined 57 witnesses and have to examine another 105. In Lucknow, in the case against kar sevaks, 195 witnesses had testified before the trial court and it has to examine a whopping 800 more. The court said the pendency of the trial itself for so long was by itself an "evasion of justice".
Arguing for Mr. Advani, senior advocate K.K. Venugopal countered that the Allahabad High Court had set aside the transfer of the Rae Bareilly case to Lucknow in February 2001. The Supreme Court had accepted the Uttar Pradesh government's discretion to continue the trial separately in Rae Bareilly and not club it with the Lucknow one.
A transfer of the Rae Bareilly trial to Lucknow will negate all the past orders. "Your Lordships' use of Article 142 should be in accordance with law and due process of law as guaranteed in Article 21. Your recent order on the highway liquor ban has rendered lakhs of people jobless," Mr. Venugopal hit back.
Additional Solicitor General and CBI counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul said the February 2001 order of the High Court did not negate the joint charge sheet filed against Mr. Advani, Dr. Joshi and some known leaders of BJP and Hindutva groups.
The CBI said the High Court order of 2001 had said that a prima facie case of conspiracy has been made out against the leaders and it still stood against them.
"The HC had never said that the charge of criminal conspiracy introduced in the Lucknow FIR cannot be applied to the accused [Advani, Joshi, etc] in the Rae Bareilly FIR. The CBI has found an overarching conspiracy. Conspiracy as a charge still remains against them," Mr. Kaul argued.
When asked by the Bench about the practical difficulties of a joint trial in Lucknow, Mr. Kaul said witnesses have to recalled and trial may have to start "de novo [afresh]".
But senior advocate Kapil Sibal, arguing for petitioner Haji Mehboob, said the trial need not start anew. A joint trial would require only the granting of the right to an accused to recall and cross-examine witnesses. It does not require fresh charge sheet and framing of charges all over again.
On March 6, the Supreme Court indicated it may consider reviving the conspiracy charge against Mr. Advani, Dr. Joshi and other BJP leaders in the demolition case.
The sudden development came on an appeal filed by the CBI in 2011, during the UPA era, in the Supreme Court against the dropping of conspiracy charge against Mr. Advani and leaders such as Uma Bharti, Dr. Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Giriraj Kishore and Vishnu Hari Dalmia.
Noting that "there is something very peculiar going on in this case" , the Bench of Justices Ghose and Nariman said it would examine in detail why the conspiracy charges against the BJP leaders were dropped on mere technical grounds and never revived all these years.
"We prima facie do not approve of the way these people have been discharged... And no additional charge sheet filed so far? See, people cannot be discharged like this on technical grounds," Justice Nariman had observed orally.
"We will allow you (CBI) to file supplementary chargesheet by including the conspiracy charge. We will ask the trial court to conduct a joint trial in a Lucknow court," he had said.



Shia Personal Law Board for Triple Talaq Ban, Issues Fatwa Against Cow Slaughter
MMNN:5 April 2017

The All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) has adopted three resolutions including a fatwa against cow slaughter, a move to ban Triple Talaq and a call to solve the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute through an out-of-court settlement.
The fatwa banning the slaughter of cows in India was issued at its executive meeting in Lucknow on Wednesday after the AISPLB sought a clarification from Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain Najafi, a top Shia cleric from Iraq. It said communal tensions arise often in the country over cow slaughter.
Seventy five-year-old Hussain Najafi is one of the five Grand Ayatollahs in Iraq and is entitled to issue a fatwa for the community members.
Maulana Yasoob Abbas, member of the All India Shia Personal Law Board told News18 that how this fatwa aims to put an end to communal riots.
"For us Shias, horses are considered an important animal and likewise cows are considered holy by the Hindus. Hence, we need to respect other religions as well. If due to the death of one cow, a hundred humans are killed, I think it is best to save that cow," said Abbas.
This move from the Shia community comes just a day after the Dewan of Ajmer Dargah and an influential Sunni Islamic spiritual leader came down heavily on the practice of triple talaq and called it "un-Islamic" and something which was against the Holy Quran. He also called for a legislation which would ban the slaughter of all the bovine species in India and announced a personal decision to have given up beef along with his famil