India en Thu May 23 15:36:27 IST 2019 china-rules-out-india-nsg-membership-without-consensus-on-allowing-non-npt-nations <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>China on Friday said India's membership issue was not on the agenda of the Nuclear Suppliers Group's meeting in Astana as it declined to give a timeline to reach a "consensus" among member states on the participation of non-NPT members in the elite grouping.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>China has repeatedly blocked India's entry into the 48-member grouping which regulates the global nuclear commerce.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ever since India applied for the membership of the NSG in May 2016, China has been insisting that only those countries which have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should be allowed to enter the organisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India and Pakistan are not signatories of the NPT. After India's application, Pakistan too has applied for the NSG membership in 2016.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Answering a spate of questions whether any change of China's stand on India's entry into the NSG which is holding its plenary meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan on June 20-21, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here that the group will not discuss the entry of countries who have not signed the NPT "before reaching a specific plan".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"So there is no discussion on India's participation," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>China, while blocking India's entry into the NSG previously, has called for a two-step plan that stipulates the need for the NSG members to arrive at a set of principles for the entry non-NPT states and then move forward discussions of specific cases.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lu said that Beijing was not blocking New Delhi's entry and reiterated Beijing's stand that rules and procedures of the NSG should be followed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There is no blocking by certain members. Because there are procedures in the NSG and members make decisions according to the procedures and proceedings. As far as I know, this plenary meeting is being held and there will be discussions on the NPT non-parties participation and the political and legal issues concerning that," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Before reaching a specific plan, the NSG will not discuss on the participation of certain NPT non-party (countries who have not signed NPT). So there is no discussion on India's participation," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"As far China's position is concerned, we respect the NSG rules and regulations and we will seek non-discriminatory solution that can be accepted by all," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On India's assertion that majority of the NSG member states backed its entry while China continued to block it, Lu said, "I cannot say for India whether China is blocking it. But I must say that the NSG is a non-proliferation mechanism multilaterally and there are certain rules and procedures and all members must follow the rules and procedures. And the decisions must be based on consensus".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The entry of India or any other country I believe it is an internal affair of the NSG to discuss this. So we are doing it totally in accordance with rules within this mechanism," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"As for the plan, we still need more consultation and we cannot predict one year, two years whether any time period to have consensus but the decision must be based on consensus," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked whether there was any progress on this in the India-China bilateral dialogue on non-proliferation issues, he said, "I don't have any specific answer".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said that the foreign ministry officials from the disarmament departments of both the countries have been holding talks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I can check on more specific details for you. I would like to add that in the NSG meetings and in the working group meetings as we have said China's positionis not targeting on any specific country, but they are based on the NSG rules and procedures. Our goal is to uphold non-proliferation and the NPT which is the cornerstone of the international arms control system, he said.</p> Fri Jun 21 19:19:13 IST 2019 rahul-gandhi-shares-army-dog-squad-pic-to-mock-modi-new-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Congress president Rahul Gandhi has once again found himself on the receiving end of Twitter's wrath after he shared the pictures of Army's dog squad to take a sarcastic jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 'New India'.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rahul shared pictures of the dog squad imitating yoga postures done by their trainers on the International Yoga Day on Friday, with the caption 'New India'. Earlier, the official handle of the Defence spokesperson had shared the pictures of the dog unit practising yoga.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rahul's tweet has triggered a storm on the micro-blogging site with a lot of people accusing him of having insulted the Army and the dog squad.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Bharatiya Janata Party strongly reacted to Rahul's tweet, saying “life is one continuing joke for him”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Perhaps for him, life is one continuing joke for him and looking for opportunities to post pictures that remind him of his favourite Pidi (his pet dog),&quot; said BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also said while a new India is emerging under Prime Modi, a new Congress is coming up under Gandhi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier all the defence forces took part in the celebrations of the International Yoga Day at various locations across the country. The Indian Army personnel performed yoga in Siachen—the world's highest battlefield at the altitude of over 20,000 feet—in a temperature as low as minus 50 degree Celsius.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is the second consecutive day that the Congress chief has hit headlines for the wrong reasons. On Thursday, <a href="" target="_blank">Rahul was criticised on social media</a> after he was found busy with his mobile phone while President Ram Nath Kovind was addressing a joint session of the Parliament.</p> Fri Jun 21 19:02:32 IST 2019 fire-technical-glitch-hit-delhi-metro-magenta-yellow-lines <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Train services on a section of the Magenta Line of the Delhi Metro were suspended for an hour after a major fire broke out at a furniture market near Kalindi Kunj metro station in south Delhi on Friday morning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Magenta Line connects Janakpuri West in Delhi and Botanical Garden in Noida.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to fire officials, the flames from the blaze had spread to pillar numbers 205 and 206. Soon after the incident, train services were stopped temporarily between Jasola Vihar Shaheen Bagh and Kalindi Kunj metro stations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The furniture market is spread over 2,000 square yards and the fire had spread rapidly as a large amount of wood and plastic material was stored in the area. Several furniture shops were gutted. However, no one was injured as the fire broke out early morning and the shops were yet to open," a senior official told <i>PTI</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The reason for the fire is not immediately known.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Technical glitch hits Yellow Line</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, services on a section of Delhi Metro's Yellow Line was briefly affected due to technical snag. The Yellow Line, one of the busiest lines in the Delhi Metro network, connects Samaypur Badli in north Delhi to HUDA City Centre in Gurugram.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Normal services have resumed later.</p> Fri Jun 21 17:30:41 IST 2019 bjp-affection-for-muslim-women-but-opposes-hindu-women-rights-sabarimala-owaisi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>After the government introduced the Triple Talaq Bill in Parliament, many opposition voices raged against some of the provisions in the bill. Most prominent among them was All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen's (AIMIM) Asaduddin Owaisi, who claimed some of the provisions in the bill violated constitutional rights. He said the party has so much affection for Muslim women but is opposed to rights of Hindu women to enter Sabrimala Temple in Kerala. "<a href="">The Triple Talaq Bill violates constitutional rights</a>&nbsp;as it stipulates three-year jail term for guilty Muslim men while non-Muslim men get only one year of jail term for a similar offence," he said.</p> <p>MP Shashi Tharoor&nbsp;<a href="">of the Congress</a>&nbsp;said he was opposed to triple talaq (instant divorce) but was against this bill as it conflates civil and criminal law. He claimed it was a textbook example of class legislation as it was pointed at one community—Muslims—even though abandoning wives is not unique to it. Tharoor said there should be a law universally applicable to all in case of abandoning wives.</p> <p>Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there were 543 cases of triple talaq reported in the country.&nbsp;<a href="">After the Supreme Court judgment banning triple talaq practice</a>, more than 200 cases were reported, he said<br> </p> Fri Jun 21 17:46:33 IST 2019 telangana-cm-launches-kaleshwaram-irrigation-project <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Friday inaugurated Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation project, touted to be world's largest multi-stage, multi-purpose lift irrigation scheme, at Kannepalli village. Rao switched on the motor in the Medigadda Pump House in the presence of Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Rs 80,000 crore project was built on Godavari river, which originates in Maharashtra and flows through Telangana before merging with the sea in Andhra Pradesh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The project came to a reality after the Telangana government entered into an agreement with the Maharashtra government on March 8, 2016, putting an end to differences that existed for decades over the issue.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The project is expected to supply water to 70 per cent of districts in Telangana to meet agriculture, drinking water and the industrial needs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the state government, water from the Godavari at Medigadda, which is about 100 metres above sea-level, is lifted at six stages and supplied to Kondapochamma Sagar, which is at 618 metres height.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is estimated that for the lifting two TMC water from Kaleswaram, 4,992.47 MW power is required and arrangements are being made for the supply of adequate power.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;For the first time in the annals of country's history, the Telangana State Electricity organisations are using 139 MW pumps in the Kaleswaram project at package-8 Ramadugu. Nobody ever used such a capacity pumps in the country,&quot; an official release said last week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Medigadda is the first pumping station in a chain of 20 pumping stations of the mega project.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rao laid foundation stone at Kannepally for the Kaleswaram project on May 2, 2016.</p> Fri Jun 21 17:43:12 IST 2019 explainer-triple-talaq-bill-and-everything-you-need-know-about-it <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Triple Talaq Bill, which was presented in the Lok Sabha on Friday, was met with vehement opposition from leaders of the opposition parties. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there were 543 cases of triple talaq reported in the country. <a href="">After the Supreme Court judgment banning triple talaq practice</a>, more than 200 cases were reported, he said. The issue was a very controversial one, with MPs like Shashi Tharoor and Asaduddin Owaisi squaring up against the ruling party. Here, THE WEEK looks at how the controversy evolved over time, and what the Triple Talaq Bill entails.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The history:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 1984, <a href="">a divorced Muslim woman named Shah Bano</a> kicked up a storm when she approached the Supreme Court for maintenance from her former husband. The Supreme Court granted her the right, in a landmark verdict. However, under pressure from Muslim fundamentalists, the Raji Gandhi government buckled and legislated a new Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1985, which essentially negated the court's judgment. In 2017, another Muslim woman Shayara Bano approached the courts in a similar <i>talaqnama</i> case. “My husband was abusive,” <a href="">she spoke to THE WEEK's Rekha Dixit</a>. “He didn’t allow me to leave home. I had no access to contraception. Whenever I conceived, he would force me to have abortion pills,” said Shayara, a postgraduate in sociology from Kumaon University. “One day, he dumped me at the Moradabad railway station, and called my parents to collect me. Six months later, the <i>talaqnama</i> came through speed post.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The legal process:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="">The Supreme Court, in 2017, had dubbed the process of triple talaq unconstitutional</a>. The verdict was passed by a bench of five judges, each from a different faith—Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar (Sikh), U.U. Lalit (Hindu), Kurian Joseph (Christian), R.F. Nariman (Zoroastrian) and S. Abdul Nazeer (Muslim). Here is a brief timeline of the legal process: On October 16, 2015, while hearing a different case, a two-judge bench had requested the chief justice to suo motu set up a bench to examine discrimination against Muslim women, especially in divorce. The case picked up, with many Muslim women filing petitions. On February 5, 2016, SC asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to assist it on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy. Later in March, the SC asked the Centre to file a copy of the high-level panel on 'Women and the law: An assessment of family laws with focus on laws relating to marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance and succession'. On May 17, 2017, the SC asked the AIMPLB if it is possible to give women the right to decline instant triple talaq. On May 18, 2017, the AIMPLB informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to issue an advisory to Qazis to give an option to Muslim women to opt out of instant triple talaq before giving consent for nikaah (marriage).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Divisions within the community:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bill introduced in Parliament proposes a three-year jail term for a man divorcing his wife through triple talaq. Although most Muslim women feel it is time to end the practice, they are wary of the slipshod manner in which the government has passed the bill in the Lok Sabha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It has not been properly thought out,” says <a href="">Sainaba, a member of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI)</a>, told THE WEEK's Anjuly Mathai. “Neither is it practical. If the aim of the law is to protect the rights of women, how is that possible with their husbands in prison? If they have children under the age of 18, who will take care of their education, health, financial and other needs? The woman will not be protected but instead be vulnerable to more abuse.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Aysha Mahmood, who used to work as a criminal psychologist in Calicut and Viyyur prisons in Kerala, describes how her friend was divorced through triple talaq over Skype. “Her husband was from Dubai and she was from Calicut,” she says. “They lived together for 10 years and then they started facing problems in their marriage. Once, when she had come back home, he asked her to summon their families. When both their parents were assembled, he gave the triple talaq. Then he switched off the computer and walked off.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Naish Hasan, general secretary of Muslim Women League, a law to curb this social evil is a good move, but the stipulated jail term in it should be reduced. “If the husband is jailed then what will happen to his wife and children. The government should look into loopholes of this ordinance and take them into account.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="">Darul Uloom Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, a renowned Islamic school in India</a> too, also reprimanded the government and described it as an interference in religious matters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, there are a few who have hailed the government's decision. Syed Wasim Rizvi, head of Shia Central Waqf Board, said that this ordinance is a victory for Muslim women and a defeat of conservative Muslim leaders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Arguments for and against the process:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zakia Soman of the BMMA (Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan), an independent organisation working for ensuring the rights of Muslim women in India, after the Centre filed an affidavit in court seeking to ban triple talaq, <a href="">told THE WEEK's Vaisakh E. Hari</a>: “For one thing, the AIMPLB is just an NGO and a self-appointed custodian of Muslim community in India. In more ways than one, they signify a lot of male-dominated thinking and are instrumental in women being denied their Quranic rights. A lot of Muslims feel that this kind of regressive stance (that triple talaq and polygamy should be allowed), is only helping the stereotypes about our community. When the Shah Bano case happened in 1986, the personal law board was able to fool large swathes of the Muslim population. But, the community has now understood that these people serve only their interests, to preserve their hegemony.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Parliamentarian E.T. Mohammed Basheer told THE WEEK during the time: “One of the arguments made against triple talaq is that the provision was being widely misused to discard women at will. India, however, is a country with one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. The rate will only go down further when more and more people gain access to education. So, that argument is not logical.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“According to Islam, divorce is most hated by the almighty. It teaches us that if the talaq is said from under a tree, the green leaves wilt away. The triple talaq is not meant to be served all at once. It should be done in stages, accounting for any and all chances of reconciliation between the two parties. There are numerous different schools of thought on this topic. It should be discussed among scholars of the religion and not by politicians.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Arguments against the bill in Parliament:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MP Shashi Tharoor <a href="">of the Congress</a> said he was opposed to triple talaq (instant divorce) but was against this bill as it conflates civil and criminal law. He claimed it was a textbook example of class legislation as it was pointed at one community—Muslims—even though abandoning wives is not unique to it. Tharoor said there should be a law universally applicable to all in case of abandoning wives. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM took a dig at the BJP, saying it has so much affection for Muslim women but is opposed to rights of Hindu women to enter Sabrimala Temple in Kerala.&nbsp;<a href="">The Triple Talaq Bill violates constitutional rights</a> as it stipulates three-year jail term for guilty Muslim men while non-Muslim men get only one year of jail term for a similar offence, he said.</p> Fri Jun 21 16:44:39 IST 2019 fresh-triple-talaq-bill-introduced-in-lok-sabha-opposition-members-protest <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The government on Friday introduced a fresh triple talaq bill in the Lok Sabha amid vehement protests by opposition members who claimed that it violated the Constitution.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019 became the first legislation to be tabled in Parliament by the Narendra Modi dispensation in its second term, with Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserting the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The <a title="Bill to ban triple talaq to be introduced in Parliament again" href="/content/week/news/india/2019/06/03/Bill-to-ban-triple-talaq-to-be-introduced-in-parliament-again.html#col_leftparaside_articletopheader">bill was introduced</a> following a division of votes, with 186 members supporting and 74 opposing it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“This is not a question of religion but about justice to women,” Prasad said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seeking to justify the need to bring in the legislation, Prasad said there were 543 cases of triple talaq reported in the country. After the Supreme Court judgment banning triple talaq practice, Prasad said more than 200 cases were reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“This is a question of dignity of women and we are committed to (safeguard) it,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said the job of Parliament was to legislate and it was up to courts to interpret the law.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As soon as Speaker Om Birla asked Prasad to move the bill, several opposition members rose in protest and Birla allowed them to put forth their point of view.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shashi Tharoor of the Congress said he was opposed to triple talaq (instant divorce) but was against this bill as it conflates civil and criminal laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He claimed it was a textbook example of class legislation as it was pointed at one community―Muslims―even though abandoning wives is not unique to it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tharoor said there should be a law universally applicable to all in case of abandoning wives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM took a dig at the BJP, saying it has so much affection for Muslim women, but is opposed to rights of Hindu women to enter Sabrimala Temple in Kerala.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The triple talaq bill violates constitutional rights as it stipulates three-year jail term for guilty Muslim men while non-Muslim men get only one year of jail term for a similar offence, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>N.K. Premachandran of the RSP also opposed the bill.</p> Fri Jun 21 15:50:55 IST 2019 Chhattisgarh-child-death-raises-scare-acute-encephalitis-syndrome <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The death of a four-year-old child in Dimrapal Government Medical College Hospital at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district raised a scare of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) emerging in the state on Friday. But the state health department claimed that the child's death was due to Japanese Encephalitis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Bihar, Acute Encephalitis Syndrome has <a title="Bihar: Encephalitis toll rises to 136; 16 districts affected" href="">claimed the lives of at least 136 children in 16 districts</a> since June 1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Niharika Barik, the Secretary, Health, told THE WEEK that the child who died was confirmed to have had Japanese Encephalitis (JE). Barik added an alert had been issued in the entire Bastar district.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though there were reports of two more children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome being admitted to the Dimrapal Medical College Hospital, Barik said they had tested negative even for JE and were found to be suffering from viral fever.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Barik said there was also an alert regarding Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Chhattisgarh, but this was a precautionary and preventive move in context of the disease outbreak in Bihar. “However, there has been no report of any AES case as of now in the state,’’ the officer said. Earlier in the day, a section of the media claimed the death of the child was a case of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Barik told THE WEEK that the deceased child—Bhuvane Nag (4) of Chalnaar village in Bakawand block of Bastar—had probably contracted the disease while on a visit to neighbouring Odisha with his mother earlier this month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“He had come in with fever from there. As a precaution, we have tested all 18 persons who came in direct contact with the child for malaria as well as JE and they have tested negative. Also an intensive door-to-door survey is being done in the village and a health team is camping there,” Barik said, adding that the entire area is on alert.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Barik said that three to four cases of Japanese Encephalitis are reported from Bastar every year since the past few years, particularly because of the prevalence of the disease in neighbouring Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.</p> Fri Jun 21 15:35:07 IST 2019 yoga-day-the-navy-way-from-sadhguru-to-submarine-to-aircraft-carrier <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders have tirelessly emphasised yoga is an integral part of Indian life. So, on Friday, the Indian Navy pulled out all stops to mark the fifth edition of International Day of Yoga.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>New Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh was among the enthusiastic participants at a yoga session organised at Chanakya Bagh in Delhi. Singh was seen performing yoga with scores of Navy personnel and their families, including children.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Southern Naval Command celebrated International Day of Yoga in all the seven states in which it operates. Vice Admiral A.K. Chawla, commander-in-chief of Southern Naval Command, participated in a yoga session at the hangar of the INAS 550 naval squadron in Kochi. The session also featured Navy personnel and their families as well as officers from friendly nations. Yoga sessions were held at the INS Dronacharya shore facility in Kochi, which was attended by more than 200 Navy personnel and their families.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Before one mistakenly thinks International Day of Yoga was an occasion for Navy personnel to relax on land, know that ships of the Southern Naval Command carried out yoga sessions while at sea! Approximately 450 personnel did yoga on board the INS Sujata, INS Magar and INS Sagardhawani, while deployed on maritime surveillance duties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Renowned yoga guru Jaggi Vasudev (popularly known as Sadhguru) led a yoga session at the Andaman and Nicobar Command. <a title="International yoga day: Sadhguru to lead session on Navy's floating dock" href="">Sadhguru led the session on a floating dock</a> of the Indian Navy. Sadhguru posted a number of tweets about his yoga session with the Indian Navy personnel, referring to them as “true heroes”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sadhguru noted the personnel, “miles away from their families &amp; the mainland, are putting their lives at stake to protect the nation. It's of utmost importance to equip them with the Yogic tools of transformation for inner-well being”. Sadhguru also noted the dedication and devotion of the forces to the nation was “overwhelming and inspiring”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Images of Navy personnel performing yoga on the deck of the INS Sindhudhvaj, a submarine, also went viral on Friday morning. The submarine, which uses diesel engines and electric batteries for propulsion, was purchased from the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1987.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Active Indian Navy ships and bases were not the only places where International Day of Yoga was celebrated. Navy personnel gathered on the vast flight deck of INS Viraat, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, in Mumbai to perform yoga. The Viraat, which was purchased from the UK in 1987, was decommissioned in 2017.</p> Fri Jun 21 14:47:14 IST 2019 midterm-polls-inevitable-congress-wanted-kumaraswamy-as-cm-gowda <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda on Friday delivered a jolt to the joint JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka by suggesting midterm polls are inevitable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interacting with reporters at his residence, Gowda claimed he had “no idea” how long the coalition government would last and there was “no doubt”midterm polls would happen. Gowda was quoted by news agency <i>ANI</i> as saying, “They (Congress) said they will support us for five years but look at their behaviour now. Our people are smart.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gowda criticised the Congress for “forcing” his son, H.D. Kumaraswamy, to become chief minister after the 2018 state polls threw up a hung assembly. Gowda declared the Congress came to the JD(S) “suddenly” because they “didn't want the BJP to form the government”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gowda reportedly claimed he had suggested the name of Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge for the post of chief minister and had even recommended it to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. Gowda alleged Ghulam Nabi Azad told him the Congress leadership wanted Kumaraswamy as chief minister.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ironically, Gowda's comments come as Kumaraswamy is starting a statewide tour to connect with the people to dispel the notion his coalition government was unstable. Responding to Gowda's comments about the longevity of his government, Kumaraswamy claimed his father had been misquoted by the media and declared his government would finish its tenure. Kumaraswamy has continued to accuse the BJP, the single-largest party in the Assembly, of trying to topple his government by poaching MLAs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The comments from Gowda follow reports that senior Congress leaders, including notably former chief minister Siddaramaiah, argued with the central party leadership that the <a title="Karnataka JD(S) chief quits, says coalition panel a puppet in Siddaramaiah's hands" href="">tie-up with the JD(S)</a> was a mistake.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 21 12:39:50 IST 2019 bihar-encephalitis-toll-rises-to-136-16-districts-affected <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Brain fever has afflicted more than 600 children across 16 districts of Bihar, of whom 136 have lost their lives since the beginning of this month, the state health department said on Thursday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to statistics released by the department, the total number of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) cases registered across the state since June 1 was 626, and the total number of deaths caused by the same has mounted to 136.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Muzaffarpur district has bore the brunt of the Encephalitis casualties, accounting for 117 deaths so far. Besides, deaths have been reported from districts like Bhagalpur, East Champaran, Vaishali, Sitamarhi and Samastipur.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The department also said that among the various complications that are covered under the umbrella term AES, hypoglycaemia or very-low blood sugar level was the most prevalent as it has afflicted 520 children and accounted for 110 deaths.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Experts have blamed the high incidence of hypoglycaemia on a toxin found in unripe litchi fruit, which is believed to be consumed by malnourished children from underprivileged backgrounds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There have been a few instances of Japanese Encephalitis and herpes, too, which are caused by viral infections, the health department said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Centre and the state government have taken a grim note of the alarming number of deaths caused this year, the highest since 2014.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited Muzaffarpur on Sunday, two days before <a title="Encephalitis in Muzaffarpur: Protests greet Nitish on visit to hospital" href="">Chief Minister Nitish Kumar toured the district</a> and held a meeting with officials to review the situation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The state health department has deputed additional medical officers, child specialists and nurses from other districts to Muzaffarpur to help the health officials in the district.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Health workers were being provided with packets of oral rehydration solution for free distribution in the affected regions, so that dehydration and electrolyte imbalance could be kept at bay in the event of onset of fever.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government has also announced that it would reimburse any expenses involved in getting children treated at private hospitals and nursing homes or hiring of ambulances.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many child health specialists, not associated with any government hospital, are holding free camps for the afflicted children.</p> Fri Jun 21 11:28:03 IST 2019 44-dead-as-overloaded-bus-falls-in-300m-deep-gorge-in-himachal-kullu <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>At least 44 people were killed and 34 others injured when an overloaded bus fell into a deep gorge in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh on Thursday, officials said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The private bus (bearing registration number HP 66-7065) fell into the over 300-metre-deep nullah near the Dhoth Morh in Banjar tehsil of the district, Kullu Superintendent of Police Shalini Agnihotri said, adding the vehicle was en route Gada Gushaini.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prima facie, it seems that overloading and negligent driving may have caused the accident, Banjar Patwari Sheetal Kumar said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Additional SP of Kullu Rajkumar Chandel said the toll in the accident has touched 44, and added that the injured were undergoing treatment at the Banjar Civil Hospital and the Kullu district hospital. Most of the victims were residents of various areas in Kullu district.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of the severely injured passengers have been shifted to PGI Chandigarh, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed grief over the tragic accident. In their condolence messages, they prayed for peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved family members, an official spokesperson said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The chief minister has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, the official said, adding that Thakur also asked the administration to provide best possible medicare to the injured passengers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, state Transport Minister Govind Singh Thakur left for Kullu from Shimla after learning about the accident.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Kullu district administration announced an immediate relief of Rs 50,000 to the kin of each of the deceased and the injured.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking to PTI, Piyush Tewari, founder of SaveLIFE Foundation said, “It's a shame that mass-casualty bus crashes have become a norm in India, especially in hilly states like Himachal Pradesh.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The state government must immediately order a summary audit of all roads, and engineers and contractors responsible for missing basic installations like crash barriers must be booked for causing countless deaths and injuries,” he said.</p> Fri Jun 21 11:15:57 IST 2019 ssc-gd-constable-result-2019-to-release-on-ssc-nic-in-how-to-check <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Staff Selection Commission will release the SSC GD Constable result 2019 on Friday, June 21. Candidates who have appeared for the exam can check the SSC GD Constable result 2019 from the official website of the SSC―<b><a title="Staff Selection Commission" href=""></a></b>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The results for the General Duty posts in forces like CAPFs, NIA, SSF and also for Riflemen (Assam) will be declared on the official website.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SSC GD Constable results 2019 were earlier expected to be announced by May 31. The date, however, was later revised to June 21. Candidates are advised to check the SSC's official website regularly for more updates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How to check SSC GD Constable Result 2019:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1. Go to the official site of the SSC―<a title="Staff Selection Commission" href=""><b></b>.</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2. Click on ‘SSC Constable GD 2019 Result’ link on the homepage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3. Enter required details such as registration number and date of birth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4. Your SSC GD Constable Result 2019 will be displayed on the screen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>5. Download the SSC GD Constable Result and take a print out for reference.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Candidates who have qualified the exam will have to appear for Physical Efficiency Test and Physical Standard Test. The SSC will release the schedule of PET/PST soon. Medical examination will be conducted by the SSC in the last stage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SSC GD Constable Exam 2019 was held from February 11 to March 11, 2019. Over 52 lakh candidates had registered for the exam this year. Out of the registered candidates, about 30 lakh appeared for the SSC GD Constable Exam 2019. The SSC GD Constable Exam 2019 was conducted over 18 days across 31 states in 125 cities. A total of 297 examination centres were allocated for the SSC GD Constable Exam 2019.&nbsp;</p> Fri Jun 21 10:35:03 IST 2019 yoga-is-above-region-above-faith-above-everything-modi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday performed yoga with around 40,000 enthusiasts at the Prabhat Tara ground in Ranchi and said everybody should practice the ancient Indian discipline lifelong.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Jharkhand capital was selected as the venue for the main event for the fifth International Day of Yoga.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Events to mark yoga day are being held across the country and several of them are being led by Union ministers, including Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi also said the government has been working to make yoga a pillar of preventive healthcare.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Expressing concern that young people are becoming vulnerable to heart ailments, Modi said, "yoga can play a huge role in tackling the issue and hence, this year's theme is 'Yoga for Heart'."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi also appealed to the people to take yoga to all sections of society.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We should make efforts to take yoga from cities to villages... tribal areas. Yoga is above region, above faith, above everything," Modi told the gathering.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi also stressed that for yoga to become popular, infrastructure for it must be strengthened and said the government was working towards it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Urging people to make yoga a part of daily life, Modi said, "Peace and harmony are related to yoga. People across the world must practice it."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi had arrived in Ranchi on Thursday night to participate in the main event on the International Day of Yoga.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since 2015, the <a title="Yoga postures light up UN Headquarters ahead of International Yoga Day" href="">International Day of Yoga</a> is celebrated annually on June 21.</p> Fri Jun 21 08:36:30 IST 2019 ima-jewels-case-ed-summons-main-suspect-mansoor-khan <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The ED has summoned Mohammed Mansoor Khan, the owner of IMA Jewels, for questioning in connection with its money laundering probe into the alleged ponzi scam perpetrated by his group that is said to have duped thousands of investors, officials said Thursday.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp; They said Khan has been asked to depose before the investigating officer in the case at the central agency's zonal office here on June 24.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agency wants to question and record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), under which a probe is underway in the alleged ponzi and investment fraud scam, the officials said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Khan is said to be absconding, with reports suggesting that he has crossed the Indian borders, the agency wants to give him a "fair chance" to present his side, they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ED has already sought permission from a court to interrogate the seven directors of the firm arrested by the Karnataka Police, they added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The central agency has recently filed a case of money laundering in this case which is said to have left thousands of gullible investors in the lurch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It has taken cognisance of a complaint registered by the Karnataka Police and the subsequent creation of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the alleged fraud.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agency is now gathering documents in the case and is looking for possible assets of the accused for attachment under the PMLA and also obtain an Interpol arrest warrant against Khan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SIT has already sought the CBI's help in obtaining an Interpol red corner notice against him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The team also raided the IMA Jewels showroom at Jayanagar here and seized 43 kg gold, worth Rs 13 crore, 5,864 carat of diamond, worth Rs 17.6 crore, 520 kg silver, worth Rs 1.5 crore, and precious gems worth Rs 1.5 crore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It also raided the office of the company and the premises of the third divorced wife of Khan, Tabassum Bano, and found 1.5 kg of gold, 1.5 kg silver and Rs 2.69 lakh cash. It said the SIT has identified 26 immovable properties, including commercial buildings, land, school property and apartments, which are said to be of Khan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has asserted that his government would bring to book the perpetrators of the ponzi scheme fraud, irrespective of how influential they were.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is feared that the size of the scam is around Rs 5,000 crore, with more than 30,000 people cheated by the ponzi scheme floating company.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>People not only from Bengaluru and Karnataka, but also from Hyderabad, the neighbouring Tamil Nadu and New Delhi are said to have invested in the company.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As many as 26,000 police complaints have been filed by the investors against the 'I Monetary Advisory (IMA) Jewels' store after an audio clip surfaced in which Khan was&nbsp; purportedly heard saying that he is going to commit suicide as he was fed up with corruption.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also alleged that Shivajinagar Congress MLA Roshan Baig took Rs 400 crore from him and was not returning it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Baig has, however, rubbished the charge, and alleged that his political adversaries had orchestrated the "series of events" to tarnish his character.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Police said that they have received thousands of complaints against IMA Jewels and Khan from investors, who are mainly vendors, small businessmen and from the middle and the lower middle class.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>State Home Minsiter M.B. Patil said that most of the investors in the now-feared defunct group were from the minority community. Since drawing interest is prohibited in Islam, Khan had turned the investors into shareholders and promised to distribute profits from his earnings, he added.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 22:38:40 IST 2019 fresh-triple-talaq-bill-to-be-introduced-in-lok-sabha-on-friday <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A fresh bill to ban the practice of instant triple talaq will be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, which has been listed in the Lok Sabha's agenda for Friday, will replace an ordinance issued in February by the previous BJP-led NDA government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month, the previous bill had lapsed as it was pending in the Rajya Sabha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Bill, which proposes to make the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a penal offence, had faced objections from the opposition parties which claimed that jail term for a man for divorcing his wife was legally untenable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new bill is a copy of the ordinance in force.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bills that are introduced in the Rajya Sabha and are pending there do not lapse with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. However, bills passed by the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha lapse with the dissolution of the lower house.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government had promulgated the ordinance on triple talaq twice -- in September 2018 and in February 2019 -- as the contentious bill remained pending in the Rajya Sabha, though it was passed by the Lok Sabha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, divorcing through instant triple talaq is illegal, void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision for bail for the accused during trial.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These amendments were cleared by the Cabinet on August 29, 2018.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the ordinance makes it a "non-bailable" offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself. A provision was added to allow the magistrate to grant bail "after hearing the wife", the government had said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, the new government plans to convert 10 ordinances, including the one to ban the practice of instant triple talaq, into law.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ordinances were issued in February-March this year by the previous government as these could not be converted into Acts of Parliament in the last session of the 16th Lok Sabha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the Narendra Modi government returned to power in the recently held elections, it has decided to give a fresh push to these proposed laws in the newly-constituted Lok Sabha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;These ordinances will have to be converted into laws within 45 days of the beginning of the session, else they will lapse.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 22:13:45 IST 2019 rahul-gandhi-busy-on-his-phone-as-president-kovind-speaks-in-parliament <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Congress president Rahul Gandhi courted controversy on Thursday after he was seen checking his mobile phone while President Ram Nath Kovind was addressing a joint session of the Parliament.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While all other senior leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, were keenly listening to the President’s speech, Rahul, seated next to his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, was seen with his head down on the phone, not paying heed to what Kovind was saying.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The President was talking about the achievements of the Modi government for the past five years. He also mentioned the post-Uri surgical strikes and the Balakot airstrike. When the entire audience including Sonia Gandhi gave a hand in the beginning of his speech, Rahul was seen with his hands folded.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even after leaving his phone, Rahul was seen chatting with Sonia Gandhi. This continued for some time, and once again the Congress chief failed to give a hand, while the entire parliament did. He was also seen holding his mother's hand, while she was clapping for the President’s speech. Even towards the last few minutes of the speech, Rahul forced himself to take his mobile out.</p> Thu Jun 20 21:04:50 IST 2019 our-goal-empower-every-person-president-kovind <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Laying the roadmap of the Narendra Modi government for its second term, President Ram Nath Kovind Thursday said empowering every person is the main goal for a 'New India' by 2022 on the back of a "stronger mandate" for continuing uninterrupted the journey of development started in 2014.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As he highlighted the Modi government's achievements and priorities in an hour-long address to the joint sitting of Parliament, Kovind also pushed for simultaneous elections, saying it is the "need of the hour."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asserting that the government was moving ahead to create a "strong, secure and inclusive" India, the president said national security was paramount for the government and touched upon surgical strikes and air strikes on Pakistan-based terror camps.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kovind also underlined the government's resolve to remove "social evils" of triple talaq and 'nikah halala' to ensure equal rights for women, take forward the campaign against black money at a faster pace and make the zero tolerance policy against corruption more comprehensive and effective.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On issues relating to economy, Kovind, dressed in a cream 'bandgala',&nbsp; said the government will soon announce a new industrial policy aimed at promoting growth and creating jobs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu and MPs of both Houses in attendance in the Central Hall of Parliament for the joint sitting after the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha, the President said the general elections had enhanced the credibility of Indian democracy as a record number of people--61 crore--voted, including the highest share of women.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kovind, in his speech, which is prepared by the government of the day, said empowering every person in the country is the main goal of the ruling dispensation which, he added, wants to build a 'New India' by 2022 in which there is no discrimination on the grounds of caste or religion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"My government is giving residential, health facilities to poor as poverty can be removed only by empowering them," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Several NDA MPs thumped the desks when Kovind referred to the Modi government's philosophy of 'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The people of the country have given a very clear mandate in this election(2019 Lok Sabha polls). After assessing the performance of the government during its first tenure, people have given even stronger mandate for the second term. By doing so, they have given a mandate for continuing uninterrupted and at an accelerated pace the journey of development which started in 2014," he said. The BJP won 303 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats at stake compared to 282 in the 2014 polls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On parliamentary and assembly polls, Kovind said due to frequent polls in some part of the country or the other, the pace and continuity of development programmes have been impacted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Therefore, I urge all Members of Parliament to seriously ponder over this development oriented proposal of One Nation - Simultaneous Elections," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His suggestion came a day after Modi held deliberations with chiefs of 21 political parties over the issue and announced setting up of a panel for time-bound suggestions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kovind noted that half of the MPs in this Lok Sabha have been elected for the first time and the presence of 78 women MPs, the highest ever, presents the picture of a new India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also said penalties for crimes against women have been made "harsher" and the new penal provisions are being strictly enforced.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kovind flagged national security as a top most priority of the government, saying all possible steps will be taken to ensure this as it was done after the terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir in February in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"India has amply demonstrated both her intent and capabilities, first through surgical strikes and then through air strikes on terrorist hideouts across the border after the Pulwama attack.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"In the future too, all possible steps will be taken to ensure our security," he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The President said 'New India' will be sensitive and also, economically prosperous but for this to happen,"nation's security is of utmost importance".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Referring to infiltration, he said this posed a major threat to internal security.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This is leading to social imbalance in many parts of the country, as well as putting a huge pressure on limited livelihood opportunities," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"My Government accords top most priority to national security. Therefore, effective steps are being taken to tackle terrorism and naxalism," he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To fulfil its resolution of building a 'New India', the government in a short period of 21 days has taken many decisions aimed at welfare of farmers, soldiers, students, entrepreneurs, women and other sections of society and have also started implementing them, Kovind said, adding initiatives have been taken to enact several new laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He spoke about the decision to start pension schemes for farmers and small traders, and extending the scheme to give Rs 6,000 input subsidy to all farmers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Noting that a strong national economy can be built only on the foundation of a strong rural economy, he said an investment of Rs 25 lakh crore will be made in the coming years in order to enhance agriculture productivity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To double income of farmers by 2022, when India will complete its 75 years of Independence, several steps have been taken in the last five years, the President said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking about the federal structure of the country, Kovind said "strengthening the system and spirit of cooperative federalism, my government is taking the states along to achieve national goals."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asserting that the world supports India's position on terrorism, he said UN's declaration of JeM chief Masood Azhar as "global terrorist" is a proof of this.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Jammu and Kashmir, he said the central government is making all efforts to ensure a safe and peaceful environment for the people of the state.PTI JTR/KR DV GSN&nbsp; &nbsp;GSN GSN 06201806</p> Thu Jun 20 19:18:49 IST 2019 will-ensure-next-maharashtra-cm-from-our-party-sena <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Shiv Sena, which is an ally of the BJP-led Maharashtra government, has said the next chief minister of the state will be from Uddhav Thackeray's party.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Sena made the claim in its mouthpiece 'Saamana' on Wednesday, the day when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis attended its foundation day function here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It said even though it has a tie-up with the BJP, the "Shiv Sena is an independent political entity".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We have to resolve to turn the next Vidhan Sabha 'saffron' and ensure that a Shiv Sena chief minister will be seated on the dais at the party's 54th foundation day next year," the Marathi daily said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Taking stock of its 53-year-old history, the publication said the Shiv Sena's soul is its 'movement' - be it for Hindu pride, Marathi "asmita" (identity) or rights of sons of the soil.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Terming Thackeray as his "elder brother", Fadnavis during the function on Wednesday said the BJP-Sena alliance will have a thumping victory in the coming state Assembly polls, and that the issue of who will become chief minister and who will become deputy chief minister was secondary.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Last week, when state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar's claimed that the next chief minister would be from the BJP, Yuva Sena secretary Varun Sardesai said the post will be rotated between the two allies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Indicating that the Sena would drive a hard bargain before agreeing for an electoral tie-up, Sardesai claimed both the parties will share the chief minister's post for 2.5 years each.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sardesai, a cousin of Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray, also tweeted that BJP president Amit Shah had "approved" the decision to have rotational chief ministership between the saffron outfits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another Sena leader earlier said Fadnavis declared on February 19 that both the parties would share "responsibilities" and also the number of seats for the Vidhan Sabha polls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said in February that the next chief minister of Maharashtra would be from his party.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 18:32:37 IST 2019 section-144-imposed-in-west-bengal-bhatpara-after-clashes <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Authorities on Thursday imposed Section 144 in Bhatpara and Jagatdal areas of North 24 Parganas district, following clashes between two groups that left one dead and three injured.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Some anti-socials and criminals have been active in Bhatpara. Outside elements have now joined them, disrupting peace in the area. RAF personnel have been deployed," Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The West Bengal government has taken a serious note of the situation in certain areas under the Barrackpore Police Commissionerate, including Bhatpara, which has witnessed a series of clashes since May 19, when bypoll was held in the Assembly constituency.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ADG South Bengal Sanjay Singh has been given particular charge of the Barrackpore Commissionerate, the senior state government official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>DG Virendra has also been asked to rush to Bhatpara, Bandyopadhyay added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to reports, bombs were hurled and several rounds of bullets fired in the air by the members of the two warring groups near the newly-constructed Bhatpara Police Station, which was inaugurated by the home secretary earlier in the day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The deceased has been identified as Rambabu Shaw, while the details of those injured in the incident were yet to be ascertained, a police officer said.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 17:11:55 IST 2019 bjp-surgical-strike-on-tdp-may-be-just-the-beginning <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The impending strike on the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) finally took place on Thursday. And this just seems to be the beginning. For a long time now, the Bharatiya Janata Party's response to its former ally in Andhra Pradesh was awaited.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The relations between both the parties turned sour after TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu decided to break ties with the BJP over the special category status issue. The TDP, then, took up a sustained campaign against the BJP for over a year, badly damaging the latter's prospects in the state. In the recently held general and assembly elections, the national party did not win even a single seat. The political feud became a full-blown rivalry after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Naidu launched personal attacks against each other during campaigning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though it was widely speculated that one or two TDP Rajya Sabha MPs might switch sides and join the BJP, <a href="">what happened on Thursday</a> even surprised TDP’s own party men. Four out of six TDP MPs met Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, requesting him to allow the merger of the TDP Legislature Party with the BJP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In another development that took place on the same day in the coastal town of Kakinada, more than a dozen former legislators and senior leaders of the TDP met in a private property. It is learnt that they explored the idea of joining the BJP.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As far as TDP's Lok Sabha MPs are concerned, Naidu, who is currently in Europe, may be in for another shocker. According to sources, two of the three Lok Sabha MPs, who recently won on TDP ticket, have made up their mind to join the BJP.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If this was not enough, BJP leaders have claimed that at least eight TDP legislators are in touch with their high command. According to TDP sources, six MLAs may join the BJP before the budget session in July. Naidu may lose his leader of opposition status in the next assembly session if the TDP loses more than five MLAs as the party now has just 23 MLAs in the 175-member house.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Though the entire exercise may seem like a well-planned operation of the BJP, some of the YSRCP leaders are not entirely convinced. According to them, Chandrababu Naidu is quite capable of sending his men to the BJP to protect them from any unwanted trouble from the party at the Centre.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 22:25:32 IST 2019 dalit-deputy-sarpanch-killing-sparks-outrage-in-gujarat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The killing of a dalit deputy sarpanch, allegedly by a group of people belonging to an upper caste, on Wednesday afternoon has sparked off an outrage in the state, even as the family of the deceased and other dalit leaders have refused to accept his body until their demands are met. The autopsy of Manji Solanki, deputy sarpanch of Jalila village of Ranpur taluka in Botad district, was carried out on Thursday morning at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seven of the nine accused in the case have been arrested.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Solanki had been allegedly assaulted by the same gang of people on a number of occasions in the past. Dalit leaders alleged that no action was initiated to provide security to Solanki despite the fact that he had sought personal police protection.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Botad superintendent of police Harshad Mehta admitted that his office had received application for police protection from Solanki on June 6. The police were carrying out the threat assessment before taking a decision on protection, according to him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Solanki, who was returning to his village on a motorcycle from a nearby place, was knocked down by a car. People in the car, allegedly belonged to an upper caste, then assaulted him with iron pipes.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The deceased's son Tushar said that his father died on the way to hospital in Ahmedabad. According to him, the upper caste people were not able to tolerate the fact that dalits were getting elected as sarpanchs. Solanki's wife Geeta is the village sarpanch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the last couple of years, there has been several incidents of assault on dalits from Gujarat.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Martin Macwan of Navsarjan Trust, working for the dalits, told THE WEEK that the family of Solanki had not demanded compensation or a government job. “We are not beggars,” he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They have, instead, given their six-point demands to the chief minister. One of the major demands is that all the accused in the case should be arrested. They have also demanded that all the cases of atrocities on Solanki and his murder be transferred to Ahmedabad and be taken up in the court on a day-to-day basis as the family faces threat from those who killed him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The other demands included armed police protection for the family members of Solanki and giving them licence to keep fire arms for personal protection.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Immediate action against erring policemen, including officers, in the case and giving police protection to dalits across the state, who have asked for the same, also form part of the demands.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Macwan said that when Cyclone Vayu was to hit Gujarat, the state government made efforts for zero casualty. “The Vayu of atrocities has been going on for 3,000 years,” he observed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A dalit activist, Subodh Parmar, felt that the incidents of atrocities on dalits are happening because the education level among the dalits is increasing and they are reacting to discrimination. “Earlier, they used to tolerate. This is not the case now,” he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even though the state government did not make any statement on the issue on Thursday, at a meeting of the monitoring committee on atrocities against SC/ST, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani directed the police to take quick action against the accused in such cases. He also asked respective collectors to ensure that harmonious atmosphere is created in 32 villages and 20 mohallas where the dalits were staying under police protection.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Independent MLA from Vadgam, Jignesh Mevani, who was not called for the meeting, wrote a letter to the CM highlighting the plight of people from the backward community. He said police action comes after an incident has taken place but efforts should be made that there are no atrocities on dalits.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Five dalit leaders, including that of the Congress, and former BJP MLAs visited the Civil Hospital on Thursday to express solidarity with Solanki's family.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 20:00:45 IST 2019 congress-infighting-out-in-open-in-west-bengal-several-leaders-skip-rally <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The infighting in the Bengal Congress came to the fore on Thursday, as several prominent members of the party's state unit skipped a protest march called by senior leader Abdul Mannan in the wake of alleged deterioration in the law and order situation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Leader of Opposition in the assembly led the march from Esplanade area in central Kolkata to city police headquarters Lalbazar, seeking an end to political clashes in the state and alleged attack on party workers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>State Congress president Somen Mitra, legislator Sankar Malakar and senior leader Deepa Dasmunshi were among those who were conspicuous by their absence at the rally.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to sources in the party, the protest march was organised without the permission of the state leadership.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The march had nothing to do with the state Congress. Had it been called by us, we would have surely participated in the rally," said a senior Congress leader.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reacting to the allegation, Mannan said "those keen on fighting the TMC misrule participated in today's rally".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, a scuffle broke out between party workers and the police personnel during the march, following which some of the agitators were detained.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The jostling protesters, who were stopped by the police at Waterloo street in the city, clashed with some personnel. Several of them have been detained," a police officer said.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 17:02:58 IST 2019 at-least-four-tdp-mps-likely-to-support-bjp-in-rajya-sabha <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Telugu Desam Party is likely to split in the Rajya Sabha with at least four of its six MPs tipped to break away and back the ruling BJP, sources said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These MPs are likely to write to Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu about their decision, they added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their decision to back the BJP will give a boost to the saffron party in the Upper House as the ruling National Democratic Alliance does not have a majority there yet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The sources said the breakaway faction may merge with the BJP and added that a final decision on the process is still being deliberated.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The TDP, which is led by former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, has six members in the Rajya Sabha. If four of them break away, then it will meet the legal requirement of anti-defection law, which mandates the support of at least two-third members for a split to be recognised in Parliament.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245 members and the BJP is the single largest party with 71 MPs.</p> Thu Jun 20 17:01:47 IST 2019 big-blow-to-tdp-as-four-rajya-sabha-members-join-bjp <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Four of the six Telugu Desam Party members of Rajya Sabha Thursday joined the BJP and sought merger of the TDP Legislature Party with the saffron party.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Y.S. Chowdary, C.M. Ramesh, Garikapati Mohan Rao and T.G. Venkatesh met Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and handed him a letter of a resolution passed by the legislature party urging its merger.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BJP's working president J P Nadda and leader of the BJP in Rajya Sabha Thawarchand Gehlot also met Naidu and submitted a proposal from BJP president Amit Shah saying the party has no objection to the merger of the TDP Legislature party with the BJP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Three of the four MPs later met Nadda and Gehlot at the party headquarters and joined the BJP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I assure them that the BJP believes in politics of positivity and inclusiveness," Nadda told a press conference in the presence of TDP MPs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Their decision to back the BJP will give a boost to the saffron party in the upper house as the ruling National Democratic Alliance does not have a majority there yet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The TDP, which is led by former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, also has three MPs in the Lok Sabha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245 members and the BJP is the single largest party with 71 MPs.</p> Thu Jun 20 19:05:27 IST 2019 madhya-pradesh-4-women-kid-feared-dead-as-boat-capsizes-in-narmada <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Four women and a child were feared drowned in the river Narmada after the hand-rowed boat that they were travelling in capsized midstream on Thursday morning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The incident occurred between Bakhari Ghat in Seoni district and Mohgaon Ghat in Mandla district around 7am. THE WEEK correspondent reached the spot of the accident on the Mohgaon side within three hours of the incident and found the families of the missing persons wailing even as rescue boats were conducting searches in the Narmada.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Superintendent of Police of Mandla, R.R.S. Parihar, confirmed to THE WEEK over the phone that five persons were missing and feared dead. Sarpanch of Sikrosi in Narayanganj block in Seoni, Manmohan Singh, who was present at the Mohgaon Ghat, said that there were 15 persons in the ill-fated boat including the oarsman.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He informed that the persons feared dead were Kalabati Jaisingh (32), Lalbati (30) and Lalbati's son Devraj (8), all from Dagla village in Bijrandi, and Dhaniabai and Buddhobai, both of whom were 50 and hailed from Ghotkheda in Narayanganj. Ten persons including the oarsman and a woman were rescued by another boat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shivji (45) of Ghotkheda, who was in the ill-fated boat and saved two children—Sandeep and Santosh—while escaping himself, said that the boat appeared to be overloaded and possibly had a breach from where water started filling up. It suddenly capsized midstream, before anyone could understand what was happening, he recalled. “These two children held on to me and I asked them to keep using their feet and free hand to be afloat. Later, a boat rescued us,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I saved myself somehow, but my daughter-in-law (Kalabati) died,” a wailing Rambati, a resident of Dagla, told THE WEEK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Manmohan Singh said the initial rescue work was done by two youth—Dassu and Akal Singh of Mohgaon—who were working in nearby fields. The rescue work was continuing till the time this report was filed, with no sign of the missing persons or the boat.</p> Thu Jun 20 18:11:14 IST 2019 rahul-congress-to-decide-successor-reiterates-rafale-theft-charge <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As speculation continues on his next steps, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said his party will decide on who his successor will be and not him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He is not the person to take a decision on his successor, Gandhi told reporters when asked who will succeed him as Congress president. Gandhi is <a title="Rahul firm on resigning, asks Congress leaders to find his replacement: Reports" href="">adamant on stepping down</a> as party president following the debacle in the elections, but the CWC, the highest decision-making body of the Congress, has rejected his offer to resign and asked him to restructure the party at all levels.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress chief also maintained that there was "theft" in the Rafale fighter jet deal. Gandhi was responding to a question about the Rafale finding a mention in President Ram Nath Kovind's address to the joint sitting of both houses of Parliament.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I maintain my stand that there has been theft in the Rafale jet deal," Gandhi told reporters outside Parliament. He has been maintaining that there has been corruption in the Rafale deal and that there should be a thorough probe into the deal</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress has already petitioned the CVC for a probe into alleged corruption in the Rafale deal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Narendra Modi government has denied any corruption, wrongdoing or favouritism in the deal.</p> Thu Jun 20 14:24:40 IST 2019 modi-jaishankar-didnt-say-india-ready-to-talk-mea-rejects-pak-report <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India on Thursday rejected a Pakistani media report claiming New Delhi is ready for talks with Islamabad, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made no such reference in their responses to congratulatory messages from their counterparts in that country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A report in the <i>Express Tribune </i>on Thursday claimed that Modi and Jaishankar responded to Islamabad's renewed call for dialogue by conveying New Delhi's desire to engage with all countries, including Pakistan, for the prosperity of the region.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Responding to the queries regarding the replies to congratulatory messages by Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, "As per the established diplomatic practice, PM and EAM have responded to the congratulatory messages received from their counterparts in Pakistan."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In their messages, they have highlighted that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"In his message, PM said 'for this, it is important to build an environment of trust, free of terror, violence and hostility'. EAM also emphasised the need for an 'atmosphere free from the shadow of terror and violence'," Kumar said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked whether there was any reference to holding talks in the letters, the ministry of external affairs said there was no such reference.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Khan <a title="PM Modi, Imran Khan exchange pleasantries during SCO Summit in Bishkek" href="">exchanged pleasantries last week</a> during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Bishkek.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is also learnt that Khan congratulated Modi on his election victory during their first face-to-face interaction, which took place in the leaders' lounge at the SCO venue. However, there was no meeting between the two leaders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The exchange of pleasantries came more than two weeks after Khan and Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian counterparts, pushing for restarting the bilateral talks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in January 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Khan also made a telephone call to Modi on May 26 and expressed his desire to work together for the betterment of people of the two countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On his part, Modi said creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.</p> Thu Jun 20 13:15:26 IST 2019 sacked-cop-sanjiv-bhatt-gets-lifer-1989-custodial-death-case <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sacked IPS officer of Gujarat cadre Sanjiv Bhatt was on Thursday awarded life imprisonment in an old custodial death case by Jamnagar Sessions Court. Another cop, Pravinsinh Jhala, has also been given a lifer in the case. District sessions court judge D.M. Vyas gave the verdict.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhatt had shot into limelight when he deposed before various inquiry commissions after the post-Godhra riots of 2002 against the then Narendra Modi-led BJP government in Gujarat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Jamnagar Sessions Court's decision comes after the Supreme Court last week rejected Bhatt's plea of fresh examination of witnesses in the case. Bhatt in his plea had contended that the examination of the witnesses was crucial to arrive at a fair decision. He had challenged the Gujarat High Court's order that had denied permission.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Gujarat government had informed the Supreme Court that a trial court in Gujarat had reserved the judgment in the case for June 20.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhatt was posted in Jamnagar as additional superintendent of police during the custodial death case of 1989. According to reports, Bhatt had detained over 100 people in connection with communal violence and one of the persons detained died after his release.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A fitness freak, Bhatt was suspended in 2011 for not attending office, without necessary permission and allegedly “misusing” official vehicle. He was later on <a title="Unkindest cut" href="" target="_blank">sacked from the service</a> in 2015. Bhatt has been behind the bars for over eight months now in connection with another case, which is about 22 years old. It involved alleged planting of drugs for arresting a lawyer. Bhatt was superintendent of Banaskantha district in 1996 when the incident happened.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While lawyer Sumersinh Rajput was arrested on the charges of possessing around one kilogram of drugs, Rajasthan Police concluded that the lawyer was falsely implicated to transfer a disputed property in Pali, Rajasthan. Bhatt had time and again written at various levels about <a title="Former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's security withdrawn" href="" target="_blank">withdrawal of his security cover</a>. Few months ago, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation had demolished a portion of his house in Ahmedabad terming it as illegal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His <a title="Never seen 'khakhi' so helpless: Sanjiv Bhatt's wife on his arrest" href="" target="_blank">wife Shweta</a>, who unsuccessfully contested assembly election against Narendra Modi from Maninagar in Ahmedabad, could not be reached for her comments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 13:16:15 IST 2019 earthquake-of48-magnitude-hits-mahas-satara-district <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An <a title="Earthquake" href="">earthquake</a> of magnitude 4.8 shook parts of Satara district in Maharashtra on Thursday morning, an official said.<br> </p> <p>The epicentre of the quake, which occurred around 7.47 am, was recorded at a depth of 10 km, the official at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) centre here said.</p> <p>No casualty or damage to property has been reported so far, an official from Satara district administration said.</p> <p>Satara is located around 120 km from Pune.</p> Thu Jun 20 11:37:51 IST 2019 kovind-lauds-clear-mandate-for-modi-speech-to-parliament <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday delivered his first joint address to both Houses of Parliament to mark the formal beginning of the first legislative session of the new Narendra Modi government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The president's address to the joint session of Parliament is considered a key platform for a new government to highlight its priorities and principles for the five-year term.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Beginning his speech, Kovind congratulated all the newly elected MPs and affirmed he was happy to address the joint session of Parliament in the year that marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kovind lauded the fact that 77 women were elected to the Lok Sabha, the largest-ever number. Kovind highlighted the philosophy of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas" that the Modi government had espoused in its work in the past five years. He affirmed people had recognised the Modi government had worked to improve their "ease of life". Kovind lauded the mandate received by the Modi government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Describing the "vision for New India", Kovind declared it was inspired by the philosophy of Keralite social reformer Sri Narayana Guru who envisaged a land where "all people, free from caste and religious discrimination, live as brothers".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Highlighting key focus areas of the new Modi government, Kovind referred to the continuation of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, which transfers an amount of Rs 6,000 to marginal farmers annually. Kovind also referred to the pension scheme for small shopkeepers and retail shop owners, noting it would "benefit 3 crore such small shop owners".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Referring to the newly formed Jal Shakti Ministry, Kovind said it would work towards making "water conservation and management arrangements more effective", which would help save water for coming generations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kovind highlighted large-scale investment to boost development in rural parts of India. "To increase the productivity of the agriculture sector, another Rs 25 lakh crore will be invested in the coming years," Kovind declared. Kovind affirmed the government had taken “several steps in the last five years to double the income of the country's farmers by 2022.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kovind declared the Mudra Yojna, which provides loans for self-employment, would be expanded to 30 crore people. He added the government plans to introduce loans of up to Rs 50 lakh for entrepreneurs without guarantee.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Referring to the Modi government's legislative priorities, Kovind called on MPs to support passage of bills to end the <a title="Triple Talaq Bill, Aadhar Bill to be introduced in upcoming Parliament session" href="">practices of triple talaq</a> and nikah halala. “To ensure equal rights for every sister and daughter in the country, eradication of malpractices like triple talaq and nikah halala is necessary,” Kovind told Parliament.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Budget Session of Parliament had begun on Monday with all newly elected Lok Sabha MPs taking oath in the intervening days. Om Birla, the BJP MP from Kota-Bundi in Rajasthan, formally took over as the Lok Sabha Speaker on Wednesday. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the first budget of the new Modi government on July 5; the economic survey will be released the preceding day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Budget Session of Parliament will conclude on July 26. The Lok Sabha will have a total of 30 sittings until that time, while the Rajya Sabha will meet 27 times.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Key legislative priorities for the Modi government in the Budget Session include a renewed push to pass the triple talaq bill as well as introduction of the Aadhaar amendment bill and the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Bill, 2019, which is aimed at the inclusion of 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections. The first Modi government had announced reservation for economically weaker sections in the general category just before the Lok Sabha elections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 20 11:37:28 IST 2019 speaker-om-birla-says-he-wont-allow-religious-chants-sloganeering-in-parliament <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Newly elected Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has said that he won't allow chanting of religious slogans or heckling in Parliament as seen on Tuesday when some opposition MPs were being sworn in.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Birla said that he didn't think Parliament is the place for sloganeering and displaying placards, and members can take to the streets if they want to demonstrate. “Whatever people want to say here, whatever allegations they have, however they want to attack the government they can, but they can’t come to the gallery and do all this.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The speaker added that he can't give any assurances that such heckling would not happen again. He said that it was a different case when there are debates, but he will try to run the House by the rules. “During a debate, it is different. Every time there are different circumstances. What are the circumstances is decided by the person sitting in the speaker’s chair.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury urged Birla to be impartial and give enough opportunities to the opposition to raise matters of public concerns. Chowdhury decried raising of religious slogans in the House during oath-taking of members, saying there was a need to strengthen the social fabric of the society. Birla assured the members that he will run the House in an impartial manner and everyone will be heard.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MPs in the House <a title="'Jai Shri Ram' to 'Allahu Akbar': Frenzied slogans in LS as MPs take oath" href="/content/week/news/india/2019/06/18/jai-shri-ram-to-allahu-akbar-frenzied-slogans-in-lok-sabha-as-mp-take-oath.html#col_leftparaside_articletopheader">caused disruptions by chanting religious slogans when several members took oath</a> on Tuesday. Chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ were heard during the swearing in.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When BJP's Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj took his oath, members heard yelling ‘<i>mandir wahi banayenge</i>’, referring to the demand for constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Maharaj took his oath in Sanskrit and in the end, uttered ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Sri Ram’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi was also greeted by chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ as he proceeded to take oath. He gestured the crowd to raise their voices and continue yelling. He took his oath, ending it with ‘Jai Bheem’, ‘Takbir’, ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Jai Hind’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>(With inputs from agencies)</i></p> Thu Jun 20 12:33:38 IST 2019 Mumbai-court-orders-zakir-naik-to-appear-before-it-on-july-31 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A special court in Mumbai on Wednesday ordered controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, accused of laundering money to the tune of Rs 193 crore, to personally appear before it on July 31. The court deals with cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The PMLA court warned that if Naik fails to appear before it by July 31, a non-bailable warrant will be issued against him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>PMLA court judge Prashant P. Rajvaidya gave the order on Naik after taking cognisance of the supplementary charge-sheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against one of the accused in the case, Abul Sathak.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Naik himself is absconding and is in Malaysia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Naik was booked by the ED in 2016 based on a National Investigation Agency (NIA) FIR that was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an <a title="Zakir Naik exclusive interview: 'Won't come back to India if BJP is in power'" href="">exclusive interview with THE WEEK</a> in May, Naik, who is in Malaysia, claimed he would not return to India if the BJP was in power.</p> Thu Jun 20 10:24:28 IST 2019 congress-out-of-power-as-nehru-indira-heirs-did-not-honour-yoga-ramdev <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi performed yoga in private and their heirs did not honour it which is why power has eluded them as those who do yoga are "directly blessed by god", Ramdev Wednesday said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also expressed confidence that "big work" will be done on issues such as Article 370 and triple talaq under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ramdev, who will be attending an International Yoga Day event in Maharashtra's Nanded on June 21, which will be attended by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, was talking to reporters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi is the first prime minister who performs yoga among people, he said, adding that all central ministers, chief ministers, MPs and MLAs of the BJP perform yoga.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This has given 'gaurav' (prestige) to it. Isse pehle luke chhupe yog karte the Indira Gandhi ji aur Nehru ji (earlier, prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Nehru performed yoga secretly)," Ramdev said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"But their (Nehru-Gandhi family's) subsequent generations perhaps did not honour yoga. Is liye unke raj-yog mein bhi thoda sa gadbad ho gaya (hence political power eluded them)," the yoga guru added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Those who perform yoga are "directly blessed by god", he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I have confidence that under the leadership of Modi and Amit Shah, big work will be done on Article 370, 35A (which give special status of Jammu and Kashmir), one nation-one-law, one-nation-one-election and triple talaq. Because those who are yogi think well of all," Ramdev added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yoga is our "big legacy" and "beyond politics, caste, faith and religions", he said, adding that everybody accepts that yoga is "rashtra dharma (national religion)".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To a question on food adulteration, Ramdev, whose Patanjali group has a big presence in packaged food segment, said regulatory bodies should be more alert and transparent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also called for laws such as those in China, US and Europe which limit use of fertilisers and pesticides.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The laws on adulteration are weak here (in India). In China, death penalty is recommended for adulteration of milk and other foods. There should be at least life imprisonment here," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When asked whether he would seek death penalty for food adulteration, he said, "I demand hanging till death for adulteration of ghee, medicines, edible oil...The government should seriously think about it."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maharashtra school education minister Ashish Shelar, who accompanied Ramdev during the press meet, said the state government would organise Yoga Day events in 322 tehsils.</p> Wed Jun 19 22:22:21 IST 2019 bihar-encephalitis-deaths-protesters-delhi-demand-resignation-cm <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Protesters gathered outside the Bihar Bhawan here Wednesday demanded the resignation of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the state's health minister Mangal Pandey over the death of more than 100 children due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in the state.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp; Fresh deaths due to AES were reported in the state's Muzaffarpur district, taking the total number of casualties to 113. The deaths took place at the Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), where 20 fresh cases were brought since Tuesday night.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Torab Niazi, National Youth General Secretary of Jan Adhikar Party that organised the protest demanded that Rs 25 lakh pe given to the families of the deceased children.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Nitish Kumar and Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey should step down. We are holding protest here because in Bihar, they have imposed section 144," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Opposition in Bihar is quiet and not asking any questions about the death of innocent children, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier this week, Kumar had visited SKMC hospital in Muzaffarpur where he faced protests by angry people over the deaths.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Niazi said the hospital was only 70 kilometers away from the Bihar chief minister's residence but it took him 15 days to pay a visit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Danish Khan, Professor in Urdu Department in Delhi University, who also joined the protesters said, "Around 156 children have died so far according to the official data but the Bihar government is hiding the exact number of casualties". PTI NIT&nbsp; &nbsp;RHL RHL 06192130</p> Wed Jun 19 22:19:00 IST 2019 goa-finalise-authority-soon-penalise-beach-drinkers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Goa government will soon finalise the authority for penalising the people who are found drinking and littering on beaches, state Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) chairman Dayanand Sopte said Wednesday.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As per amended Registration of Tourist Trade Act, drinking and littering on beaches is prohibited.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The act prescribes Rs 2000 penalty and imprisonment up to three years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There is a law and now we have to find out how to implement it," Sopte said, adding that a few tourists are spoiling the reputation of Goa by indulging in littering and drinking at sea-shores.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The GTDC chairman also said he would soon visit all hotels run by the corporation, and if required they would be taken up for renovation. PTI RPS NSK&nbsp; &nbsp; NSK 06192120</p> Wed Jun 19 22:05:13 IST 2019 seers-demand-ram-temple-ayodhya-repeal-art-370 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Several Hindu seers Wednesday renewed the demand for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and abolishing Article 370 of the Constitution, saying it is the time for Modi government to honour people's mandate to it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The seers raised the demand during a Vishwa Hindu Parishad's Marg Darshak Mandal meeting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The seers attending the meeting expressed satisfaction at the Lok Sabha poll verdict.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They said the poll outcome symbolised the victory of nationalism, Hindutva and development over the politics of dynasty, casteism, appeasement and corruption.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Addressing the meeting, VHP president V.S. Kokje spoke at length on Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution and said the poll outcome was a reflection of people's overwhelming support for some important decisions taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his last tenure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is time for the Modi government now to honour the mandate given to it by the people, he added.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking to reporters later, Parmanand ji Maharaj of Akhand Paramdham Ashram said the steps taken in the national interest during Modi's last tenure such as creation of a separate 'ayog' for the protection and safety of cows need to be taken to their logical conclusion now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The saints and seers reminded the BJP of its promises in the vision document for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and said it was time for the party to act on those commitments, including the creation of a National Register of Citizens, abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A of the Constitution, resettling Hindus in the Kashmir valley and construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.</p> Wed Jun 19 21:48:46 IST 2019 gujarat-set-celebrate-international-yoga-day-june-21 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Gujarat is all set to celebrate International Yoga Day on June 21 in a big way. Mass yoga gatherings will be organised at religious, cultural and historical locations including Ambaji, Somnath, Lothal and World Heritage sites like Rani Ki Vav. Yoga will also be performed at Kirti Mandir in Porbandar, Mahatma Gandhi's birth place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gujarat Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said that 150 such places have been identified where yoga will be performed. Overall in Gujarat, yoga will be performed at more than 50,000 places.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Governor O.P. Kohli and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani will lead the celebrations from the main function to be organised at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. The minister said that an estimated 1.51 crore people are expected to take part in the state-wide programmes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>More than 1,000 saints and heads of various religions will take part in a programme to be held near the Statue of Unity near the Sardar Sarovar Dam site in Kevadia Colony.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This time, the theme will be “Yoga for Heart Care”, Chudasama said, adding that representatives of voluntary organizations and industrial units will also take part.&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 19 21:46:16 IST 2019 karnataka-congress-to-undergo-total-revamp-after-lok-sabha-polls-debacle <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Congress party in Karnataka, which is still recovering from the drubbing it faced in the Lok Sabha polls where it won a lone seat out of the 21 seats it had contested, will undergo a total revamp in the party structure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The All India Congress Committee on Wednesday dissolved the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) while retaining only party president Dinesh Gundu Rao and working president Eshwar Khandre.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The announcement of the dissolution by AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal comes a day after the party <a href="">suspended rebel MLA R. Roshan Baig</a> for &quot;anti-party&quot; activities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The AICC president has given his approval for a revamp. There will be changes in the district and block levels too,” said Rao.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While some party leaders insist that there is nothing unusual about the revamp, the sudden move indicates that the party is gearing up for a change in the old guard and infuse new blood.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rao, who took charge as the new president in July 2018, was supposed to choose his new team. But he had to put it off due to elections and the office-bearers appointed during his predecessor and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara's tenure were retained. However, the infighting and open revolt by senior leaders, and the JD(S)-Congress alliance bagging only one seat each in the Lok Sabha polls have prompted the high command to call for an overhaul.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The revamping of KPCC, which has more than 250 office bearers posts at the state level, will see appointment of new faces and perhaps scaling down the size of the &quot;jumbo&quot; committee, too, as some leaders put it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The move is a stern warning to all senior leaders to fall in line as the exercise is also intended to weed out non-performers, while rewarding party loyalists.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Lok Sabha polls debacle has been a shocker to the party since it reflected a total collapse of the party structure as the Congress lost even the constituencies which they previously held.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While, it was being speculated that Rao would be replaced owing to the party's poor performance in the polls, insiders say that Rao managed to retain the post as he had the backing of former chief minister Siddaramaiah. Other top contenders for the post including Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar, who was camping in Delhi, failed to impress the high command. In fact, Shivakumar's proximity to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, besides his reputation as a master strategist was expected to work in his favour as the Congress is keen that the coalition government survives. However, the high command seems to have thought it is wise to retain a more amicable leader like Rao to lead the party, as Shivakumar's elevation might not go down well with Siddaramaiah.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The coalition in the state is on a rough patch owing to the differences between the JD(S) and Siddaramaiah, who is heading the coordination committee. It remains to be seen if the party calls for a revamp of the coordination committee, too, as the panel is now left with only four members (Siddaramaiah, Kumaraswamy, Parameshwar and K.C. Venugopal) after Danish Ali quit the JD(S) to fight the Lok Sabha polls from Uttar Pradesh on a BSP ticket. JD(S) state president A.H. Vishwanath, who resigned from his post recently, has insisted that the party presidents of both the coalition partners should be taken onboard to implement the common minimum programme.</p> Wed Jun 19 21:49:00 IST 2019 online-sale-of-e-cigarettes-to-be-banned-in-gujarat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Gujarat government is mulling a ban on online sale of e-cigarettes considering its health hazards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja said in Gandhinagar on Wednesday that the state government would ban the online sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). He said that necessary changes would be made to the prevailing laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently, e-cigarettes are banned in 12 Indian states and 36 countries, according to the Gujarat government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jadeja said that various researches have established that e-cigarettes contain chemicals that damage the lungs. Certain other materials in the e-cigarettes can also cause cancer, he said, adding that these type of cigarettes also contain nicotine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Youngsters get addicted to it and would hamper the growth of those around 20 years of age, said Jadeja. Smoking e-cigarettes has become a hobby and it is a cause of concern, the minister added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jadeja said that since there is no ban, e-cigarettes can be easily purchased online. In the United States, only people above the age of 18 years can purchase e-cigarettes. However, in India since there is no such ban, e-cigarettes can be purchased easily, he pointed out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Jadeja did not mention the time line for making changes in the existing laws, he said that the state government was committed towards taking strict action against those indulging in sale of narcotics.</p> Wed Jun 19 20:30:48 IST 2019 one-nation-one-election-modi-govt-to-set-up-panel <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Moving ahead with the idea of holding simultaneous elections in the country, the Narendra Modi government has decided to set up a panel for further consultations even as some of the opposition parties have expressed their apprehensions over the issue.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Out of the 40 political parties which were invited by the prime minister to discuss the issue on Wednesday, 21 parties participated in the meeting while three parties sent their opinion on the subject in writing.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the meeting, the prime minister laid stress upon the need to hold simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies. He said a committee would be set up for wider consultations and to come up with suggestions in a time-bound manner. Modi noted that the issue of holding simultaneous elections was not a single party’s agenda, but it was an issue of national importance and the views of all parties would be considered and given due importance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Defence Minister Rajnath Singh conducted Wednesday's all-party meeting. Official sources said presidents of various parties appreciated the initiative of the prime minister to convene such a meeting and seek their views on these important matters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of the opposition parties like the BJD and the YSR Congress supported the 'one nation, one poll' concept. However, several parties were of the view that all aspects of this proposal needed to be examined carefully.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rajnath Singh later told media that most of the parties gave their support to 'one nation, one election' idea. He said the Left parties had a difference of opinion, still they had opposed not the idea, but just the implementation of it.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many of the opposition leaders did not attend the meeting held at the Parliament House.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Among the absentees were Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, BSP chief Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav, DMK's M.K. Stalin, Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the concept of simultaneous elections is “fundamentally anti-federal and anti-democratic” which “strikes at the root of the parliamentary democratic system, as ordained in the Constitution.”&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CPI also said the 'one election' proposal looks good but is not practicable. “This goes against the spirit of federalism. Countries like Sweden, Belgium and South Africa have such 'one election' system. They are small. So small like some of the big districts of India. Uttar Pradesh population is equivalent to the combined population of Europe,” the CPI said in a statement.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mayawati said she would have attended the meeting, had the issue been about the EVMs. She alleged that the issue of 'one election' was to divert attention from the real issues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Among the leaders who attended the meeting were NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference MP Farooq Abdullah.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Aam Aadmi Party, which was represented by Raghav Chadda, said the government should first bring out a draft proposal or a white paper on the issue so that there would be a clarity. The Trinamool Congress also wanted a clear policy on the issue to debate it.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The issue of simultaneous elections is likely to generate enough political heat in the coming days as the government will now set up a committee and then come out with a report.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Wednesday's all-party meeting was called to also discuss other issues like celebration of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, increasing the productivity of the Parliament and an agenda for new India.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The AAP raised concerns over keeping the state assemblies or Lok Sabha in suspended animation in case of loss of majority or otherwise, terming the practice as anti-democratic.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, referring to one of the suggestions in the NITI Aayog paper that if the dissolution of the Lok Sabha cannot be avoided, then a provision can be made for the President to carry out the administration of the country, Yechury said this is an outrageous proposal aimed at executing Presidency through back door.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the issue of increasing the productivity of the Parliament, various party chiefs expressed their concern over the frequent adjournments and disruptions. They said that an atmosphere of discussion and dialogue must prevail in the House, as disruptions rob the members of the opportunity to express their views on the issues of the day.&nbsp; Participants in the meeting also expressed hope that since approximately half of the members of the 17th Lok Sabha are first time MPs (267), they would take this opportunity to carry forward the spirit of constructive dialogue in the House. PM Modi, too, called for increasing the productivity of the Parliament through meaningful discussions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the issue of the development of Aspirational Districts, Modi said all the state governments must work in coordination with the Centre to bring the most backward districts in their states at par with the best performing districts. This way the goal of a ‘New India’ would be achieved by 2022, he added.</p> Wed Jun 19 22:00:43 IST 2019 with-cm-indisposed-meeting-on-tn-water-crisis-postponed-yet-again <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>At a time when Tamil Nadu is facing one of the worst water crises in the last few decades, a review meeting scheduled to be held on Wednesday to take stock of the situation has been postponed once again. Sources say the meeting was postponed as Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami is unwell and has been advised rest, for at least a day, by the doctors. It is the second time in the past three days that the high-level meeting, which was to be held at the state secretariat, has been postponed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Tuesday evening, as the officials from various departments were set to get back home, there came an informal instruction from the state’s top most official. All the department secretaries were asked to be present in their offices at 10 am sharp on Wednesday as the chief minister would preside a meeting to discuss the water crisis in Chennai and rest of the state. It was a planned meeting where the chief minister will interact with all the district officials through video conferencing to take stock of the water crisis situation in every district. While all arrangements in the district headquarters were made for the video conferencing, the meeting was postponed as the chief minister is reportedly unwell.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier, a similar meeting convened on June 17 had also been cancelled. The chief minister was scheduled to hold a meeting with the local administration minister S.P. Velumani, metro water department officials, department heads and other officials at the secretariat and then inform through the media the actions taken by the government to address the water woes. Apparently, on June 17, Velumani, well ahead of the scheduled time of the meeting, summoned all officials to Chennai Corporation headquarters and took stock of the situation. Later, talking to media at the Rippon building, he dismissed the reports on water crisis and said they were “fabricated”. He said: “The government is ensuring supply throughout the city and we are addressing the shortages. We have given Tamil Nadu 2,470 MLD extra water in the last four years. Many schemes have been implemented by the state government.” He also dismissed reports of hotels cutting down the meals, IT companies asking their employees to work from home and malls resorting to rationing of water.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Incidentally, Velumani stole the show on Monday as addressing the water woes was his department’s job. As the chief minister was forced to cancel the meeting, his cabinet colleague sought to explain the reasons for the water shortage and how the government was managing it. On Tuesday, while visiting his late leader Jayalalithaa’s memorial at the Marina beach, Palaniswami echoed Velumani on the issue and said: “The municipal administration minister had already conducted a meeting with the department officials and reviewed the situation. The government is taking steps to tackle the water crisis in the state. The media is blowing up the issue.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, an informal instruction was sent to all the department heads and secretaries and district administration heads to be present in their offices at 10 am on Wednesday for a review meeting with the chief minister. It was planned to be a meeting through video conferencing with the authorities, so that the chief minister could take stock of the situation and make arrangements to meet the demands on a war footing. Unfortunately, the meeting had to be cancelled as the chief minister is reportedly unwell.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 19 19:48:30 IST 2019 kerala-cop-who-burnt-alive-woman-colleague-dies <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The accused in a brutal killing of a woman police officer that shook Kerala last week died at a hospital in Alappuzha on Wednesday. N.A. Ajaz, a policeman who hacked and set ablaze his woman colleague Soumya Pushpakaran in broad daylight on Saturday, succumbed to his own burn injuries at the medical college hospital around 6 pm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ajaz had suffered over 50 per cent burns while setting 34-year-old Soumya on fire.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to police, Soumya was killed on her way back home in Mavelikkara on Saturday evening when Ajaz followed her in a car and knocked down her two-wheeler. The policeman then allegedly hacked her with a sharp weapon and as she tried to seek refuge at a nearby house, he chased, poured petrol over her and set her ablaze.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>She died on the spot while the policeman, who also suffered burn injuries, was taken into custody. He was later admitted to the government medical college hospital in Alappuzha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, Ajaz was suspended by the Ernakulam rural district police chief K. Karthik.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Police had said the motive behind the killing could be ascertained only after detailed interrogation of the accused and others. However, Soumya's mother told the investigating officers that Ajaz had been insisting her daughter to marry him though she was already married and had three children.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to local media reports, Soumya's husband Sajeev, who works in Libya, will reach home on Wednesday night and her funeral will be held on Thursday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 19 19:03:53 IST 2019 captain-likely-to-take-up-sidhu-defiance-with-rahul-gandhi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh is slated to visit the national capital and meet up with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other senior party leaders. The chief minister, who calls on the party leadership from time to time, officially has no specific agenda.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sources, however, indicated that the matter pertaining to defiant legislator Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has not assumed office post the reshuffling of portfolios in Punjab, is one issue he will take up with Rahul.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sidhu, who has remained incommunicado, last tweeted a photo of himself with Rahul Gandhi&nbsp; and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and said he had presented his version of the story. With this, he has sent out a message of his proximity to the first family of the Congress, and also a message of hope that his view will count with them, and also hinted that he may get his way with the chief minister.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sidhu, who had initially kept out of campaigning in Punjab during the Lok Sabha polls, returned, ostensibly at the behest of Priyanka Gandhi.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The chief minister reshuffled the portfolios of most of his cabinet colleagues on June 6. Sidhu, who was the minister for local bodies, panchayats, tourism and culture was divested of these and allocated the charge of energy. The state government has proposed tariff hikes for power, and the energy minister will have to deal with the response.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The energy portfolio itself is not insignificant. Union Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal's brother and then Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh's brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia held the power portfolio all through the Akali regime. But Sidhu feels miffed over the circumstances in which he was shown out of the local bodies ministry—after the chief minister blamed him for the electoral losses in the urban areas leading to the BJP winning all the three Parliamentary constituencies they contested.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another minister whose portfolio was changed to his anger and hurt is O.P. Soni, who was the education minister. He was allocated medical education and research, and felt undermined enough to stay away from Chandigarh, and not assume office. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh called him up about 10 days after the rejig. But Soni brushed aside his anger, and said he could not join because he was busy with byelections in a municipal corporation!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Punjab is possibly the only state where the Congress performance was good and it has a stable government not dependent on external support. What Singh will tell Rahul about Sidhu is not clear. But it is unlikely that the Congress high command will choose Sidhu over Singh, given they will not want to rock the party boat in the Land of Five Rivers.&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 19 16:58:26 IST 2019 bhopal-police-accused-of-custodial-death-judicial-probe-ordered <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The kin of a youth, who died after being detained by Bairagarh police of Bhopal in an accident case, have alleged custodial death after being beaten up by police in the wee hours of Wednesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The deceased, Shivam Mishra, is son of a policeman posted as clerk with the cyber cell of Madhya Pradesh Police.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The state government has ordered a judicial probe in to the matter after the demand by ex-chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The inspector general of police (IG) of Bhopal, Yogesh Deshmukh confirmed to THE WEEK that the police have requested for a judicial probe and process has been initiated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, five cops including Bairagarh police station in-charge Ajay Mishra and sub-inspector Rajesh Tiwari were suspended in the matter. IG Deshmukh said cops in question have been suspended and further suitable action would be initiated after the probe report.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The family members and Govind Podel, friend of deceased Shubham who was accompanying him during the incident, have alleged that Shubham and Govind were beaten up badly by the cops after a Dial 100 vehicle took them to the Bairagarh police station after their four wheeler hit the railing of the BRTS corridor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Govind said the cops had beaten them up at the police station, took them for medical test and brought them back to the police station and thrashed them again. Shubham allegedly succumbed to death at the police station itself. He also alleged that the cops looted a gold chain of Shivam. Govind himself got admitted at a private hospital, though with minor injuries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Family members of the deceased have demanded an FIR against the involved cops and strict action against them. Things heated up at the Hamidia Hospital, where Shivam’s body was taken, after local MLA Rameshwar Sharma reached there to support the kin’s demands.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Later, former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan demanded judicial probe while accusing the cops of getting out of control. He said that he would have to take steps if such incidents continue. Home Minister Bala Bachchan ordered a judicial probe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile a CCTV footage, supposedly of the Bairagarh police station campus, was circulated in the media, where a man, purportedly Shivam, is seen collapsing while talking to a group of cops. The cops later take him to a vehicle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Additional Superintendent of Police (Crime) Nishchal Jharia told THE WEEK that another youth had lodged a complaint against the deceased in the accident case as the broken railing of the BRTS corridor fell on the complainant’s car. The officer said that the complainant has said that the duo in the vehicle that hit the corridor were heavily drunk and abused everyone who tried to talk to them. “A case has been registered and probe is underway,” he said.</p> Wed Jun 19 16:54:36 IST 2019 two-men-arrested-for-possession-of-Rs-1-7-crore-worth-whale-vomit <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Two men were arrested in Mumbai for possessing and attempting to sell 1.3kg of ambergris or whale vomit worth Rs 1.7 crore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ambergris is a solid waxy substance originating as a secretion in the intestine of the sperm whale. It is found floating in tropical seas and widely used in perfume manufacturing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Ghatkopar police arrested 53-year-old Nagpur resident Rahul Tupare on Saturday after receiving a tip off. Tupare had come to Mumbai to sell the rare commodity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Police also revealed that after questioning Tupare, another person from Gujarat was picked up in the city. Lalit Vyas had allegedly given Tupare the ambergris. Both Tupare and Vyas have been remanded in police custody till June 20.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The police said that they seized 1.3 kg of the prohibited item and have registered a case under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act. They added that experts have confirmed that it is ambergris.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The police said that more arrests can be expected as there may be a racket involved. They further added that they suspect sperm whales are being killed off to obtain the ambergris. Investigation is on to find more on the matter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Officials said that ambergris rackets are active in India and abroad. Agents based in coastal areas usually facilitate the procurement of the ambergris and and supply it illegally because of its high demand.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Thane Crime Branch had seized ambergris worth Rs 20 crore last year and arrested three persons in connection with the case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The sperm whale was declared an endangered species in 1970 and is protected under the Wildlife Act. The police have said that the Act clearly defined that any part of an endangered animal is illegal for sale.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also called floating gold or treasure of the sea, ambergris is formed inside the intestines of a sperm whale and is secreted as vomit or as part of the feces. Fresh ambergris gives out a pungent odour of feces. Once dried, the ambergris has a more pleasant fragrance. Ambrein, an odourless alcohol, is then extracted from the ambergris and used to make perfume's scent last longer.</p> Wed Jun 19 17:54:50 IST 2019 iit-bombay-iit-delhi-best-indian-institutes-qs-world-rankings <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has once again emerged as the top Indian institute in the QS World University Ranking 2020. Ranked at 152, IIT Bombay has improved its position by ten places compared to the 2018 QS World University Ranking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Among <a title="Best colleges: THE WEEK-Hansa Research Survey 2019" href="" target="_blank">Indian institutes, IIT Bombay was followed by IIT-Delhi</a> and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore at 182nd and 184th position, respectively. The three premium institutes are the only Indian ones in the top 200 rankings. Improved research performance catapulted IIT Bombay to improve its performance this year, QS rankings observed in its report.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It is a matter of great pride that IIT Bombay, Delhi and IISc Bangalore have been included in the top 200 institutions in the prestigious QS ranking of the world,” tweeted HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Notably, while four of the 23 <a title="Best Colleges 2019: Course control" href="" target="_blank">Indian institutes</a> featured in the rankings improved their position, seven dropped in their ranks, compared to last year. OP Jindal Global is the only new entrant from India this year.</p> <p><a title="Best Colleges 2019: Getting real" href="" target="_blank">READ:&nbsp;Best Colleges 2019: Getting real</a></p> <p>Five of the top 10 universities in the 16th edition of the QS World Ranking are based in US. For the eighth year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) topped the global list of the 2019 QS World Ranking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Stanford University emerged the second, Harvard University and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) stood at third and fourth position in the list, respectively. Among Asian universities, National University of Singapore emerged the top at 11th position.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 19 16:23:08 IST 2019 international-yoga-day-sadhguru-to-lead-session-on-navy-floating-dock <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Renowned yoga guru Jaggi Vasudev (popularly <a title="How to live a meaningful life? Sadhguru explains" href="">known as Sadhguru</a>) will be participating in the International Day of Yoga on June 21 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. And Sadhguru will be leading a yoga session at a unique venue—a floating dock of the Indian Navy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Providing details about the event, the Indian Navy said yoga sessions would be held in “various clusters on June 20 and 21 at Birchgunj, Minnie Bay and INS Utkrosh.” For the yoga day celebrations, the Andaman and Nicobar Command is tying up with the Isha Foundation of Sadhguru.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sadhguru will be leading the yoga session on board the Indian Navy's FDN-2 floating dock. Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, head of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, as well as up to 800 personnel of the Army, Navy and Air Force are expected to participate in the event.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sadhguru has been a keen participant at events of the International Day of Yoga, which was first observed on June 21, 2015. In 2018, Sadhguru led a yoga session for jawans on the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lauding the role of the Andaman and Nicobar Command before his visit, Sadhguru said, “Andaman and Nicobar Islands are one of nation’s most desolate and vulnerable terrains. The effort of the military’s tri-service command to guard the nation’s sovereignty is truly invaluable. It is paramount to equip these soldiers with yogic tools for transformation.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Indian Navy, too, has enthusiastically held sessions on International Day of Yoga, including on its ships. In 2018, International Day of Yoga was observed by personnel on board the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. Yoga day sessions have also been held on the deck of the aircraft carrier INS Viraat, which was decommissioned from the Indian Navy in 2017.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Andaman and Nicobar Command is the only 'tri-service' command of the Indian armed forces. The Andaman and Nicobar Command, constituted in 2001, comprises personnel and resources from the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A floating dock has a wide hull meant to embark other ships for urgent repair work. FDN-2 was designed and built at L&amp;T Shipyard, Kattupalli. This floating dock was inducted into the Indian Navy in 2018 and is based in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. “It has the capability to lift ships up to 8,000 tonnes including frigates and destroyers of the Indian Navy,” an Indian Navy press release said.</p> Wed Jun 19 15:49:40 IST 2019 amid-no-shows-modi-meets-party-chiefs-on-simultaneous-polls <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met leaders of various political parties having representation in Parliament to explore possibilities of holding Lok Sabha and assembly elections together amid no show by various opposition parties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi had invited the heads of all political parties which have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha for the meeting to discuss several issues, including the &quot;one nation, one election&quot; idea, celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D Raja, Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar, SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik and National People's Party leader Conard Sangma were among those who attended the meeting at the Parliament House library building.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah also attended the meet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Among the notable absentees were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav, DMK's M.K. Stalin, TDP chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal. &nbsp;</p> <p>Mayawati tweeted on Tuesday morning saying she would have attended the all-party meeting if it was on electronic voting machines (EVMs).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sources said that the Opposition parties are wary of the meeting convened by the prime minister as they feel this might be a &quot;trap&quot; set by the BJP and needs proper discussion before going ahead.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Last August, the Law Commission had recommended holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies to save public money.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The draft, submitted to the Law Ministry, however, cautioned that &quot;holding simultaneous elections is not possible within the existing framework of the Constitution&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Centre has been toying with the idea for quite some time now.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The Prime Minister called for widespread debate and consultations on simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas, keeping in view various aspects such as the resulting financial savings and consequent better utilisation of resources,&quot; an official release said last week after Modi addressed a NITI Aayog meeting here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government think-tank, NITI Aayog, had last year suggested synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and Assembly polls from 2024 to ensure minimum campaign-mode disruption to governance.&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 19 17:23:12 IST 2019 congress-to-skip-modi-all-party-meet-on-simultaneous-polls <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Congress will skip the all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the <a title="Modi revives idea of simultaneous national elections. Will he succeed?" href="">'one nation, one election' issue</a> as it is opposed to the idea of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections, sources said on Wednesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The decision was taken at a meeting of the party's top leaders in the Parliament after consultations with various other parties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Leaders of a number of other parties have already decided to skip the meeting as a majority of them are opposed to the idea.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee and <a title="Would've attended Modi's all-party meet if it was on EVMs: Mayawati" href="">BSP chief Mayawati</a> are among the host of opposition leaders who will skip the all-party meeting on the issue of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Samajwadi Party is also opposed to the idea and will skip the meeting, a source said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and DMK supremo M.K. Stalin will also not attend the meeting, sources said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>NCP president Sharad Pawar and TDP president Chandrababu Naidu are likely to skip the meeting of party chiefs, while the Left parties are likely to attend, the sources said.</p> Wed Jun 19 14:32:55 IST 2019