India en Thu Dec 30 15:54:57 IST 2021 chhattisgarh-cm-baghel-keeps-promise-khairagarh-chhuikhadan-gandai-to-be-33rd-district <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Hours after the ruling Congress won the Khairagarh Assembly seat in a byelection, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel kept his party's promise and announced the creation of a new district of Khairagarh-Chhuikhadan-Gandai.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The state now has 33 districts. Within three hours after the election certificate was handed over to the winning candidate, the CM announced the formation Khairagarh-Chhuikhadan-Gandai district as per the poll promise," a government official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Last year four new districts had been created. Salhewara and Jaalbandha areas in Khairagarh constituency will be made tehsil and up-tehsil, the official added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Congress had promised that Khairagarh will be made a district within 24 hours if the party won the April 12 byelection. Congress's Yashoda Verma won the bypoll by a margin of 20,176 votes against her nearest rival Komal Janghel of the BJP. Verma got 87,879 votes while the BJP's Janghel secured 67,703 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Byelection was held following the death of incumbent JCC (J) MLA and former MP Devwrat Singh in November 2021.</p> Sat Apr 16 22:49:22 IST 2022 encounter-under-way-in-jks-anantnag-one-army-personnel-dead <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An Army personnel was killed in an encounter between security forces and terrorists in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, police said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Acting on a specific input about the presence of terrorists in Watnar area of Kokernag in the south Kashmir district, security forces launched a cordon and search operation there, a police official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said the search operation turned into an encounter after the hiding terrorists fired upon the forces, who retaliated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the exchange of firing, one army man was killed, the official said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said further details were awaited.</p> Sat Apr 16 22:40:18 IST 2022 prohibitory-orders-in-keralas-palakkad-after-back-to-back-political-murders <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The killings of a Popular Front of India (PFI) activist and an RSS office-bearer in the interval of just a few hours have shocked Kerala's Palakkad with the district administration imposing prohibitory orders till April 20. Gathering of five or more people, public meetings and processions have been banned.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Saturday, RSS leader S.K. Srinivasan, 45, was hacked to death by a six-member bike-borne gang at Melamuri. The CCTV visuals from the nearby shops showed that the assailants riding three motorbikes reaching the shop and three of them attacking Srinivasan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The incident followed the killing of PFI activist Subair, 43, at Elappully on Friday afternoon. Subair was returning home along with his father after offering prayers in a mosque when he was attacked. Four RSS activists have been taken into custody in connection with the incident.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As tension prevails in the district following the back-to-back political murders, police have enhanced security with three companies of Kerala Armed Police-1 (KAP-1) being deployed. Around 270 members of the armed police battalion will camp in Palakkad as part of security measures.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ADGP (Law and Order) Vijay Sakhare will also camp in Palakkad town to coordinate with the investigation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the opposition Congress came down heavily on the Left government alleging that the increasing number of communal and political murders happening in the state nowadays was a result of communal appeasement being done by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The police force have become mute spectators of violence and murders and people are living under fear as there is no protection for their life and property, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly V.D. Satheesan said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Apr 16 21:15:27 IST 2022 chhattisgarh-riding-on-new-district-promise-congress-wins-big-in-khairagarh-bypoll <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Riding on the promise to carve out a new district, ruling Congress comprehensively won the Khairagarh bypoll in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. Yashoda Verma defeated two-time former MLA of BJP Komal Janghel by 20,176 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Verma polled 87,879 votes, Janghel got 67,703 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Janta Congress Chhattisgarh, which held the seat earlier, forfeited deposit in the elections, as its candidate Narendra Soni could manage only 1,222 or 0.74 per cent of the total votes polled. In fact, NOTA polled more votes (2,616) than Janta Congress.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The seat had been vacated by the death of Janta Congress MLA and Khairagarh royal clan member Devwrat Singh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Celebrating the bypoll win, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel tweeted: “The people of Khairagarh have sent out a larger message to the traders of hate that people of Chhattisgarh are peace loving. If attempts are made to indulge in trade of hate here, people of Chhattisgarh will never forgive.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“People of Khairagarh have again expressed faith that it is only Congress which does what it says. Congratulations to Yashoda Verma for being elected as 71st Congress MLA in Chhattisgarh. It would not have been possible without the hard work of each of our workers.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The win takes the Congress tally in the 90-member state assembly to 71. It is the fourth straight win for the ruling party in bypolls. In 2018, Congress had won 68 seats while BJP had won 15. The BJP’s tally had been reduced to 14 after the loss in Dantewada in 2019. Janta Congress’s tally has now been reduced to 3 from 4.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the fact that the results of the bypoll could hardly impact the government in any way, the Khairagarh election was touted as a semifinal for the 2023 assembly elections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The loss is a shock to the BJP as Rajnandgaon is the home district of Raman Singh, who was the chief minister from 2003 to 2018.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both the Congress and BJP gave tickets to candidates of Lodhi community, which has a large presence in the constituency. While Congress decided to field Verma, a former district panchayat member and block president, BJP fell back on five-time candidate Janghel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ruling party’s charge was led by Baghel, who held multiple mass meetings in different parts of the constituency during the last six days of campaign.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The BJP, apart from its local leaders, roped in Union Ministers Prahlad Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste, apart from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for campaigning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the general perception is that the decision of the Congress to announce that Khairagarh-Chhuikhadan-Gandai will be carved out of Rajnandgaon as a new district, made a huge difference for the ruling party. CM Baghel repeatedly announced while campaigning that the Congress will get a new MLA on April 16 and local people will get a new district the next day. Also, the Congress brought in a special manifesto for the bypoll.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After it became clear on Saturday that the BJP was losing the poll, Raman Singh attacked the Congress. He said that it has become clear that the Congress won on the basis of its new promises, especially for a new district, and not on its work of the past three-and-a-half years. “At this rate, will the Congress promise 90 new districts during the 2023 assembly polls as it has no work to show in its tenure,” Singh asked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Losing candidate Janghel also said that he lost due to Congress’s ‘fake promises’. “The ruling party misused the administrative machinery, distributed money, liquor and sarees and resorted to all wrong means to win this poll,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Chhattisgarh Congress president Mohan Markam, however, attributed the win to people’s faith in Congress and its government. “People of Khairagarh have shown faith in the work done by our government, the leadership of the chief minister and the policies of the Congress party. I express gratitude to them,” Markam tweeted while congratulating Yashoda Verma for the win.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The polling was held on April 12, and saw a turnout of 78.48 per cent. In 2018 and 2013 assembly polls, the turnout was over 84 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Preparations on for announcement of new district</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Congress government has started preparations to announce the new ‘Khairagarh-Chhuikhadan-Gandai’ district by Sunday evening to keep its promise to the electorate of carving the district within 24 hours of the bypoll result. Sources said that officials of the revenue and general administration department were working overtime to ensure that the notification of the new district was announced in time. Objections and suggestions on the notification will be sought as per rules, and final notification on the district will be issued only after that.</p> Sat Apr 16 19:52:47 IST 2022 manipur--biren-singh-expands-cabinet--6-more-ministers-sworn-in <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Six new ministers joined the BJP-led government in Manipur on Saturday as Chief Minister N Biren Singh expanded his cabinet after returning to power last month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new cabinet ministers are BJP legislators Letpao Haokp (Tengnoupal), Sapam Ranjan Singh (Konthoujam), Thounaojam Basanta Singh (Nambol), L Susindro Meitei (Khurai) and H Dingo Singh (Sekmai), and NPF's Chingai MLA Khasim Vashum.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They were sworn in by Governor La Ganesan at the Raj Bhavan in Imphal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, their portfolios are yet to be announced.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With this, the cabinet's strength rose to 12 -- 10 from the BJP and two from the NPF.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Singh and five of his colleagues took oath as ministers on March 21 after the BJP won the Northeastern state for the second consecutive term.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BJP won 32 seats in the recently-held assembly polls, while the NPF bagged five seats. The Biren Singh government enjoys the support of National People's Party (NPP), JD(U), Kuki People's Alliance (KPA) and the Independent MLAs in the assembly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Congress, which won five seats, is the only opposition in the 60-member House.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Sat Apr 16 16:01:58 IST 2022 delhi-sees-461-fresh-covid-19-cases-2-deaths <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Delhi on Saturday recorded 461 fresh Covid-19 cases and two deaths, while the positivity rate stood at 5.33 per cent, according to the data shared by the city health department.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With this, the city's infection tally has increased to 18,68,033. The death toll stands at 26,160, according to the bulletin.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The daily Covid-19 cases and the positivity rate in the national capital have seen an upward trend in the last few days.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The city had on Friday recorded 366 Covid-19 cases and zero death, while the positivity rate stood at 3.95 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Thursday, the number of cases recorded was 325 and the positivity rate was 2.39 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A total of 8,646 Covid-19 tests were conducted the previous day, the bulletin stated on Saturday.&nbsp;</p> Sat Apr 16 22:01:30 IST 2022 after-asking-employees-avoid-anti-govt-posts-social-media-tifr-says-wording-notice-led-misinterpretation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Days after the city-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) issued a notice to its employees, asking them to refrain from making anti-government statements on social media, the institute on Saturday said the wording of its notice was such that it created a "great deal of misinterpretation".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>TIFR, an autonomous institution under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), also said that making public criticism against the institution or the government has always required prior permission.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It added that the rules mentioned in its notice already existed and the fresh communication was meant only to clarify that they are applied to social media as well as electronic media, such as TV, and print media.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It said it had issued instructions to its employees on April 13, imposing restrictions to them, following a notice to that effect by the DAE.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"On April 13, 2022, consequent to a notice issued by the DAE, the Registrar of TIFR had issued a notice to all TIFR employees, imposing restrictions on (1) posting pictures or videos of the Institute premises, and (2) making anti-government statements in posts on social media, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, etc," the TIFR said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It said the registrar's notice also requested the staff to apprise their family members of the same.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The notice also said that sharing photographs and videos of the institute will have serious security consequences.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Unfortunately, the wording of the notice was such that it has become subject to a great deal of misinterpretation," the TIFR said. It said photography on the TIFR premises (not in the residential part) has always been forbidden, and for government employees, making public criticisms against the institution or the government has always required prior permission.&nbsp;</p> Sat Apr 16 13:33:58 IST 2022 clashes-in-delhi-during-hanuman-jayanti-procession-amit-shah-speaks-to-top-cops <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Clashes broke out between two communities in northwest Delhi's Jahangirpuri area on Saturday evening after stones were allegedly pelted at a Hanuman Jayanti procession. Several people, including police personnel, have been injured.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Delhi Commissioner of Police Rakesh Asthana and Special Commissioner (law and order) Dependra Pathak over the violence and directed them to take necessary action. The home ministry is keeping a close watch on the situation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The situation is under control. We have deployed additional force where the incident took place,” Asthana told news agency <i>ANI</i>. He added that forces have been deployed in other sensitive areas as well across the national capital.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pathak told reporters that the police are trying to create a peaceful environment by holding talks with peace committees. He also claimed that adequate security personnel including senior officers have been deployed in the area to control the situation.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Centre is responsible to maintain peace in the national capital. ''I also appeal to the people to maintain peace and order,&quot; he told reporters.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some BJP leaders, including Kapil Mishra and Delhi's party unit spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor, alleged that it was the handiwork of illegal Bangladeshi migrants living in the area.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The clashes in Delhi followed similar incidents of violence in several states last week during the Ram Navami processions. One person each was killed in Gujarat and Jharkhand while clashes reported in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Delhi, two groups of students clashed at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) allegedly over serving of non-vegetarian food on Ram Navami in its mess, with police saying six students were injured.</p> Sat Apr 16 22:13:03 IST 2022 contractor-death-karnataka-cm-rejects-interference-inquiry <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Accusing the opposition Congress of wanting to be investigator, prosecutor and judge in the case relating to civil contractor Santosh Patil's death, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday dismissed allegations of interference by his government in the investigation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Following a political furore that erupted on the issue, senior BJP leader K S Eshwarappa, against whom police have booked a case of abetment to suicide, submitted his resignation as the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister on Friday night.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Santosh Patil's suicide is being investigated, postmortem has been done, FSL (forensic science laboratory) report will come. On the basis of it, what has happened will be scientifically known," Bommai said in response to Congress' questioning, as to why Eshwarappa has not been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking to reporters, he recalled that during Siddaramaiah-led Congress government's tenure in K.J. George (former Minister) case, the police, despite having video allegations against him and the death note, did not mention his name in the FIR, and there was an attempt to shut the case, and the court had to issue an order, when the deceased police officer M.K. Ganapathy's family approached it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"But, we have filed FIR [in Santosh Patil case] as per the complaint and accordingly the investigation is on....based on the progress of investigation, further sections may be added, let the investigation happen," he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>M.K. Ganapathy, who was Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mangaluru, had allegedly killed himself at a lodge in Kodagu on July 7, 2016. In a video message before suicide, he had named the then Home Minister K J George, and two top IPS officers responsible for his extreme step.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress wants to be an investigator, prosecutor and judge in the contractor's suicide case and it cannot happen, Bommai said people are aware how the national party shut several cases while in power.</p> Sat Apr 16 13:05:49 IST 2022 bulldozer-action-not-linked-to-ram-navami-violence-says-mp-minister <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Even as the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh faces questions on its action of razing properties of those allegedly involved in recent Ram Navami riots in the state without due prior process, Home Minister Narottam Mishra has now said that “there is no connection between the arrests (of alleged rioters) and the bulldozer action”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Arrests are a different process, bulldozer action is a different process. It is about razing encroachments, constructions done without permission and as per rules,” Mishra said on Saturday morning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When it was pointed out that some people are talking of approaching the courts on the issue, the home minister said, “I am repeating. Action is being taken only on constructions that are illegal, done without due permission from civic bodies and by violating rules. However, anyone can seek legal opinion. We have also taken action only after seeking legal opinion,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mishra’s statements assume importance since the action of bulldozing of properties of persons allegedly involved in riots, within hours of the communal incidents in Khargone and Barwani districts, got initially publicized as ‘quick justice’ by the MP government.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The action by district administrations to raze properties – mostly belonging to a particular community - had come immediately after the arrests of people allegedly involved in communal clashes and after the statement of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that rioters, who have been identified, will not be spared and strict action would be taken against them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, questions were raised on whether due process was followed before the properties – even if illegally constructed – was followed before razing them. Also questions were raised as to how large-scale encroachments were allowed by the government and action taken only when owners allegedly got involved in criminal acts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Total collapse of law and order: Congress</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress submitted a memorandum to the director general of police, alleging that the action of administration and police was partisan and amounted to running a parallel law and order system.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Former chief of MP Congress, Arun Yadav, while speaking to The Week on the issue and Mishra’s latest statement said that the government’s action indicated total collapse of law and order in the state, which was a direct failure of the chief minister and the home minister.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The action (of razing properties) started right on the next day of the riots and it also included innocent people. My question right from the beginning is why do you need bulldozers if law and order is fine in the state? No other state requires such action. This then means the biggest failure of law and order in MP,” Yadav said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also alleged that the government was pinpointing specific people and razing their properties. “Action was taken against a few, just on the next day. Similarly selective arrests were made. Were they the only encroachers? Action should be against all criminals, all those involved in riots, but it is not so. Pinpointing people shows it is a deliberate action. You want a communal situation in the state because you want to go for the elections now. All four districts where incidents happened have Congress MLAs, so it seems all planned.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yadav, a former Union minister, said it seemed two sets of rules were prevailing in the state or rather a total collapse of law and order as there was no action on Uma Bharti who pelted stone on liquor shop, against the Mahant accused of rape of minor or against the owner of the cow shelter where 100 cows died.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Govt to reconstruct homes of riot victims</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chouhan announced on Saturday that the state government will reconstruct the houses that were damaged during the riots in Khargone. He said that according to information with him, 10 houses have been totally destroyed in the riots, while 70 got partially damaged. “We will help in rebuilding the houses and even repairing them. We will also help people who lost livelihoods; we have identified 16 such persons. We are also providing free treatment to injured persons. At present, the government will pay for the purpose, but later damages will be recovered from the rioters,” the CM said.</p> Sat Apr 16 19:49:09 IST 2022 communal-violence-13-oppn-parties-issue-joint-appeal-for-peace-question-pms-silence <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the wake of the recent incidents of communal violence and hate speeches in the country, leaders of 13 opposition parties on Saturday issued a joint statement urging people to maintain peace and harmony and questioning the “silence” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Tamil Nadu counterpart M.K. Stalin, also raised concern over the manner in which food, dress, faith, festivals and language &quot;are being used&quot; to polarise society.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We are extremely anguished at the manner in which issues related to food, dress, faith, festivals and language are being deliberately used by sections of the ruling establishment to polarize our society,” they said. The leaders also raised concerns over the growing number of hate speeches by people “who appear to have official patronage and against whom no meaningful and strong action is being taken”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opposition parties pointed out reports which indicated a sinister pattern in the incidents of communal violence in the country. “Incendiary hate speeches preceded the aggressive armed religious processions unleashing communal violence,” they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Several states had reported violence during the Ram Navami celebrations last week with one person each killed in Gujarat and Jharkhand. Violent clashes were reported in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal also. In Delhi, two groups of students clashed at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) allegedly over serving of non-vegetarian food on Ram Navami in its mess, with police saying six students were injured.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The violence over Ram Navami celebrations took place days after Karnataka witnessed massive protests and clashes over the hijab row.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We are extremely pained at the manner in which social media and the audio-visual platforms are being misused with official patronage to spread hatred and prejudice,” the opposition leaders said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They alleged that the prime minister had failed to speak against those who propagate bigotry and incite violence. “This silence is an eloquent testimony to the fact that such private armed mobs enjoy the luxury of official patronage,” they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opposition leaders further appealed to all sections of people to maintain peace and foil the sinister objective of those who try to sharpen communal polarisation. They also called upon their respective party units across the country to independently and jointly work for maintaining peace and harmony.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We reiterate our collective resolve to work together to strengthen the bonds of social harmony that have defined and enriched India for centuries. We reiterate our commitment to combat and confront the poisonous ideologies which are attempting to entrench divisiveness in our society. We reiterate our firm conviction that our country will prosper only if it respects, accommodates and celebrates its many diversities in full measure,” they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other signatories of the statement included CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, CPI general secretary D. Raja, All India Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas, RSP leader Manoj Bhattacharya, IUML leader P.K.&nbsp; Kunhalikutty and CPI(ML)-Liberation leader&nbsp; Dipanker Bhattacharya.</p> Sat Apr 16 19:00:55 IST 2022 prashant-kishor-meets-congress-leadership-presents-roadmap-for-2024-polls <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Political strategist Prashant Kishor could be on the verge of joining the Congress after he made a detailed presentation on the party's preparation for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 in a high-level meeting convened by party chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday, and the discussions ended with a public declaration that a decision on Kishor's proposals and his role in the party would be taken within a week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishor made a detailed presentation about the road ahead for the Congress in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2024 at a marathon meeting that lasted around four hours at Sonia's Ten, Janpath residence, which was attended by senior leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Mallikarjun Kharge, K.C. Venugopal, Ambika Sonia, Digvijaya Singh and Ajay Maken.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishor made an elaborate presentation on what the plan of action for the grand old party should be as it attempts to revive itself and pose a serious fight to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party prior to the next Lok Sabha polls. According to party sources, the proposals put forth by Kishor include the changes that need to be made in the way the party approaches elections, enters into alliances and chooses its candidates. He is learnt to have suggested that the party focus its energy on around 370 seats, entering into alliances for the remaining constituencies. He is also understood to have prescribed a revamp of the party's communications strategy and set-up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AICC general secretary in-charge of organisation K.C. Venugopal said after the meeting that a small group of leaders will be formed by the party president to study the proposals put forth by Kishor. He said the panel will submit its report in a week's time. Asked if Kishor will join the party, he reiterated that a decision will be taken within a week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishor had following his successful engagements in the West Bengal and Tamil Nadu Assembly elections in 2021 entered into a discussion with the Gandhis about his proposed roadmap for revival of the Congress and it was speculated that he could even join the party. Kishor held multiple rounds of discussions with the party leadership, and his proposals were discussed with members of the Congress Working Committee. However, a final decision could not be arrived at with regard to Kishor's proposals and what his role would be in the party.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Kishor's subsequent tweets that appeared to be critical of the Congress leadership, more specifically the Gandhis, gave out the impression that there was a bitter falling out. Also, Congress leaders criticised him for his alleged role in party leaders switching over to his client party, the Trinamool Congress.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, it is now learnt that the talks between the two sides had not been called off for good and it was only decided that they will leave it for the time being. The discussions resumed in March, with Kishor meeting both Rahul and Priyanka.</p> Sat Apr 16 17:02:50 IST 2022 tmcs-babul-supriyo-wins-ballygunge-assembly-bypoll-cpim-finishes-second <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Trinamool Congress on Saturday made a clean sweep winning both the Asansol Lok Sabha and the Ballygunge assembly seats in West Bengal while the Congress and the RJD bagged one constituency each in Maharashtra and Bihar in the bypolls to these seats with the BJP drawing a blank.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Congress candidate Yashoda Verma was maintaining a significant lead over Komal Janghel of the BJP in the Khairagarh assembly bypoll in Chhattisgarh where counting was underway.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In West Bengal, movie actor-turned politician Shatrughan Sinha of the TMC defeated BJP's Agnimitra Paul by 3,03,209 votes in Asansol. The BJP had won the seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by 1.97 lakh votes when Babul Supriyo who was then in the BJP beat TMC's Moon Moon Sen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Supriyo, who was nominated by the TMC from the prestigious Ballygunge assembly constituency, defeated CPI(M)'s Saira Shah Halim by a margin of 20,228 votes. BJP's Keya Ghosh managed to bag just 13,220 votes.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bypoll, which took place on April 12, was necessitated as state minister Subrata Mukherjee, who represented Ballygunge, died last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee thanked voters of Asansol and Ballygunge for giving a decisive mandate to the TMC candidates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I sincerely thank the electors of the Asansol Parliamentary Constituency and the Ballygunge Assembly Constituency for giving decisive mandate to AITC party candidates,&quot; she tweeted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We consider this to be our people's warm Shubho Nababarsho gift to our Ma- Mati- Manush organization. Salute to the voters for reposing faith in us, yet again,&quot; she added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Asansol, 'Shotgun' Sinha said he was &quot;grateful to Asansol's people and to Mamata Banerjee for this victory.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said it is a general trend that the party in power in the state generally wins the by-elections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a boost to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) combine in Maharashtra, the Congress won the bypoll to the Kolhapur North assembly constituency, retaining the seat by defeating the BJP by a margin of over 18,000 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Congress-MVA candidate Jayashri Jadhav bagged 96,176 votes, while BJP's Satyajeet Kadam polled 77,426 votes.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The by-election was necessitated because of the death of sitting Congress MLA Chandrakant Jadhav due to Covid in December 2021.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jadhav thanked the voters and said all three constituents of the MVA worked together to clinch victory.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole termed the party's win as &quot;victory of progressive thoughts&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opposition RJD in Bihar wrested the Bochahan assembly seat from the ruling NDA, with its candidate defeating the BJP nominee by a big margin of over 35,000 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>RJD candidate Amar Paswan, whose father Musafir Paswan's death had necessitated the by-election, polled 82,116 votes while his nearest BJP rival Baby Kumari got only 45,353.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Expelled state minister Mukesh Sahani's Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), on the ticket of which Musafir Paswan had won the seat in 2020, finished a distant third with 29,671 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>VIP was an NDA constituent till about a month ago.</p> Sat Apr 16 19:17:39 IST 2022 chhattisgarh-congress-leading-in-bypoll-to-khairagarh-assembly-seat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Counting of votes for the bypoll to Khairagarh Assembly seat in Chhattisgarh began on Saturday morning and as per the early trends, the Congress candidate is leading by a margin of 1,242 votes, officials said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both the ruling Congress and opposition BJP in the state are eyeing a win in the seat that falls in the Naxal-hit Rajnandgaon district, where by-election was necessitated after Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) MLA&nbsp; Devvrat Singh died in November last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The counting of votes in the bypoll held on April 12 in Khairagarh seat began at 8 am at the godwon of state seeds development corporation here," a poll official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As per the early trends, Yashoda Verma of the Congress was leading by a margin of 1,242 votes against his nearest rival Komal Janghel of the BJP after three rounds of counting, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Verma secured 4,436 votes, while Janghel bagged 3,194 votes after the initial rounds of counting. JCC (J) candidate Narendra Soni has secured 49 votes, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The voter turnout in the bypoll for the seat located in state's Naxal-affected Rajnandgaon district, was 77.88 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Postal ballots were first taken up for counting followed by votes cast in the EVMs, the official said, adding that the entire process will be done in 21 rounds. A total of 10 contestants were in the fray, but political experts feel that this time the fight is virtually between the ruling Congress and opposition BJP as the JCC (J) has lost its appeal after the demise of Ajit Jogi in 2020.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Devvrat Singh, who belonged to the erstwhile royal family of Khairagarh, quit Congress in 2017 and joined former JCC (J) the next year. He contested the 2018 Assembly polls on the JCC(J) ticket from Khairagarh. He defeated BJP candidate Komal Janghel by a thin margin of 870 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This time, the BJP has once again fielded Komal Janghel, a former MLA, for the bypoll, while Yashoda Verma, the Khairagarh block unit chief of Congress, is the ruling party's nominee.&nbsp; Janghel and Verma both belong to the Lodhi caste, a numerically powerful OBC community in the Khairagarh area.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, stakes are high for the ruling Congress, as it is fighting to retain this seat, which was once considered as its bastion. Congress has promised the people to make Khairagarh a district if it wins the seat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the 2018 assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, the Congress registered a landslide victory winning 68 seats in the 90-member House decimating the BJP to 15. The JCC (J) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had bagged 5 and 2 seats respectively. Subsequently, the state witnessed bypolls to three assembly seats which were won by Congress, improving its tally to 70 in the assembly. PTI COR TKP&nbsp; NP&nbsp; &nbsp; NP 04161045</p> Sat Apr 16 11:51:02 IST 2022 hospitals-advised-to-remain-alert-as-delhi-sees-rise-in-covid-19 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>All hospitals in Delhi have been advised to remain alert in view of the rise in coronavirus cases in the city, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said Friday, while asserting that they are fully prepared to tackle the situation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to an officials statement, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the government is keeping a close eye on the situation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Hospital admissions are not increasing, so there is no need to panic. Nothing to worry about as of now," he stressed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Delhi on Thursday reported 325 fresh COVID-19 cases with a positivity rate of 2.39 per cent. The Covid positivity rate in the national capital has jumped from 0.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent in a week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The Delhi government is closely monitoring the situation and the government does not want to take any risk. We have completely overhauled our health infrastructure. Along with this, all hospitals have been advised to remain alert amidst increasing cases of corona in Delhi," Health Minister Jain was quoted as saying in the statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also said the Delhi government is conducting contact-tracing of patients to prevent the spread of infection.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"At the same time, RTPCR testing will also be increased if needed. To prevent the spread of Corona, the Delhi Government is working on the principle of test, trace and treat," the health minister was quoted as saying.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The health minister also advised people to wear a mask while stepping out, and also get vaccinated at the earliest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Prevention is better than cure. All those who have not yet taken the vaccine or have taken only the first dose, should be taken to their nearest health facility as soon as possible for complete vaccination," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Noting that the XE variant has not been included in the list of ''Variants of Concern'' by the World Health Organization, he said that there is no need to panic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>About 37,000 Covid beds and 10,594 COVID ICU beds have been prepared in Delhi, the government statement said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"If the infection spreads, the government has planned to increase 100 oxygen beds in every ward of Delhi within two weeks. In such a situation, the Delhi government plans to prepare 65,000 beds, so that no person has to face shortage of beds in an emergency situation," said the government statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If cases rise again, the home isolation system will be implemented, it said.</p> Fri Apr 15 22:19:15 IST 2022 bypolls-tmc-pushes-ahead-rivals-asansol-ballygunge <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Trinamool Congress marched ahead of its rivals in the Asansol Lok Sabha constituency and the Ballygunge assembly segment bypolls after six rounds of counting, election officials said Saturday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Ballygunge, TMC candidate Babul Supriyo is ahead of CPI(M)'s Saira Shah Halim by 9,105 votes, while the ruling party's nominee Shatrughan Sinha is leading by 63,627 votes over BJP's Agnimitra Paul in Asansol, they said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Supriyo has so far bagged 18,874 votes and Sinha secured 1,61,441 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bypolls, which took place on April 12, were necessitated as Supriyo resigned as the MP of Asansol after switching over to the TMC from the BJP, while state minister Subrata Mukherjee, who represented Ballygunge, died last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A total of 15 lakh voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in Asansol in Paschim Bardhaman district, while 2.5 lakh people could vote in south Kolkata's Ballygunge.<br> </p> Sat Apr 16 13:45:56 IST 2022 shivpal-yadav-bats-for-uniform-civil-code-amid-speculation-over- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSPL) leader Shivpal Singh Yadav has called for a Uniform Civil Code, in remarks that are being seen as another indication of his growing closeness towards the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yadav, who fought the recent assembly elections on a Samajwadi Party ticket, has been throwing hints that he is upset with the opposition party led by his nephew Akhilesh Yadav.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an event held by his party on Thursday to mark the birth anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar, Shivpal Yadav said he will launch protests for a Uniform Civil Code, if needed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar raised the issue of Uniform Civil Code in the Constituent Assembly. Ram Manohar Lohia had raised the issue too in Parliament. And so, we are showing support for Uniform Civil Code.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"From here, we will do everything, even protest if needed, to fulfil the dream of Lohia and Ambedkar," Yadav added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Uniform Civil Code is a proposal to formulate and implement personal laws which will be applied equally to all Indians, regardless of their religion, gender and sex.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Senior PSPL leader Deepak Mishra told PTI that in 1967, Lohia had raised the issue of Uniform Civil Code and said that such a code is in line with socialist thinking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It should be implemented with consent so that everyone's feelings are respected. This is in line with the socialist ideals of our party," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Uniform Civil Code has been an agenda of the BJP. On Shivpal Yadav openly supporting it, Mishra said, "Uniform Civil Code was the dream of Lohia, Ambedkar and our great leaders. If we are supporting their dream, what is wrong in that?"</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shivpal Yadav mellowed his differences with Akhilesh Yadav ahead of the Assembly elections in the state. He won the election from the Jaswant Nagar seat on an SP ticket.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, after the assembly elections, Shivpal Yadav's distance with the SP has increased and he seems to be moving closer to the BJP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He recently met with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and started following him on Twitter, triggering speculations of his joining the BJP. The PSPL leader has not yet said anything about this.</p> Fri Apr 15 21:31:31 IST 2022 pm-modi-to-unveil-108-feet-statue-of-lord-hanuman-in-gujarat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a 108-feet statue of Lord Hanuman at Morbi in Gujarat on Saturday via video conferencing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As per the Prime Minister's Office, the statue is the second of the four statues being built in the four directions across the country, as part of the 'Hanumanji Char Dham' project.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The statue to be unveiled on Wednesday has been set up in the west, at the Ashram of Bapu Keshvanand ji in Morbi, the PMO said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The construction of the massive idol started in 2018 and cost Rs 10 crore. While Modi will take part in the event virtually, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and other leaders will remain present at the venue.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first statue of the series was set up in the north in Shimla in 2010. Work on the statue in the south at Rameswaram has been started, the PMO said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Apr 15 21:18:06 IST 2022 prashant-kishor-meets-with-top-congress-leaders-sparking-speculation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Election strategist Prashant Kishor met with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi, once again sparking speculation of him joining the party, multiple reports emerged. According to The Hindu, senior leaders Ambika Soni, Digvijaya Singh, Ajay Maken and Mallikarjun Kharge and K.C. Venugopal were also present.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2021, there was non-stop buzz that election strategist Kishor would be joining the Congress on an official basis. According to multiple reports, Kishor had, in May 2021—after the results of the West Bengal assembly elections were announced—sent feelers out on working for the party, not in the capacity of a political consultant, but as a member of the party. Kishor had, after his successful stints in the West Bengal and Tamil Nadu elections, declared that he wanted to quit the election consultancy space and do something else in life.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talks between the election strategist and the Congress high command had then failed. Several Congress leaders, including many from the G-23, were averse to Kishor managing things with a position in the party.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, there are clear reasons for a reversal in the Congress position. The party had faced humiliating defeat in all the five states that went to polls, earlier this year.&nbsp; The grand old party has absolutely no reason to cheer as it lost Punjab, where it was in power to AAP, while in Uttar Pradesh, it wasn't even among the top four. The BJP outdid the Congress in Goa and Uttarakhand as well, while in Manipur, it fell behind the saffron party, and JD(U).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We will introspect on the causes of defeat, work on the organisation and will try to do better in future. We are definitely disappointed but not demoralised. We have only lost the election, not courage. We are not going anywhere—we will keep fighting until we win. We will reinvent and return and will come back with a new strategy,&quot; Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had told reporters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were the leading campaigners for the party in all the five states, but failed to find favour with voters. Priyanka Gandhi had addressed 209 rallies and roadshows, the maximum by any top leader during the UP election campaign.</p> Sat Apr 16 12:54:20 IST 2022 300-units-of-free-electricity-from-july-1-in-punjab <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government in Punjab announced 300 units of free electricity to households from July 1.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The announcement was made in advertisements published by the state's information and public relations department in various newspapers on Saturday.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was related to a 30-day report card of the AAP government in Punjab. A formal announcement is expected to be made later on Saturday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Giving 300 units of free electricity was one of the major poll promises of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Punjab assembly election.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had on Thursday said in Jalandhar that "good news" would be announced on April 16.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Punjab was already providing free electricity to the farming sector. It also provides 200 units of free power to all Scheduled Castes, backward castes and the below poverty line households.&nbsp;</p> Sat Apr 16 10:04:18 IST 2022 bypoll-results-rjd-takes-early-lead-bihar-bochahan-assembly-seat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A slew of bypoll results in West Bengal and Bihar will be announced today.&nbsp;Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate Amar Kumar Paswan on Saturday widened his lead over his nearest rival Baby Kumari of the BJP to 21,049 in the bypoll to Bihar's Bochahan assembly constituency. Paswan secured 46,307 votes, while Kumari got 25,258 after the 14th round of counting. Vikassheel Insaan Party's Geeta Kumari was in the third position with 15,757 votes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Polling for West Bengal's by-elections to Asansol Lok Sabha seat and for the prestigious Ballygunge assembly constituency in south Kolkata ended Tuesday evening at 6:30pm with relatively low voter turnout. The elections went off peacefully barring minor minor incidents of violence and saw around 52.5 per cent voter turnout till 5pm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The industrial town of Asansol Lok Sabha seat saw 64.03 per cent polling, while the Ballygunge Assembly constituency witnessed an even lower 41.10 per cent voter turnout till 5 pm, an official said. These figures are however expected to go up as polling went on for another one-and-a-half hour. Officials said they would release the final voter turnout percentages tomorrow after compiling data from various booths.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In contrast, the Asansol Lok Sabha seat witnessed a turnout of around 76.62 per cent in 2019 general elections, whereas the Ballygunge assembly saw a 61 per cent voter turnout in last year's assembly polls. While the Trinamool Congress blamed humid weather and the usual trend of lower voting percentages in by-elections, the BJP claimed there was `voter intimidation'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The voting was quite brisk in the early hours but slowed down later, may be due to humid weather and perhaps because it is a by-election. But we are confident of winning both Ballygunge and Asansol seats,&quot; TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The BJP, however, claimed that the TMC has unleashed a reign of terror in both the seats. &quot;TMC has unleashed a reign of terror in both the seats. The voters were not allowed to vote freely and fairly,&quot; BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh alleged.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Tuesday morning, stones were hurled at the vehicle of BJP's candidate for Asansol, Agnimitra Paul, leading to tension in a few localities of the industrial town.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stones were thrown when the candidate's personal security personnel baton-charged a group of TMC supporters who gheraoed Paul's vehicle alleging that she tried to enter a polling booth along with her security guards. Television grabs also seemed to show that her guards had tried to enter the booth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-Inputs from PTI</p> Sat Apr 16 12:11:11 IST 2022 will-become-minister-once-again-after-proving-my-innocence-eshwarappa-ahead-of-resignation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Ahead of his resignation, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister K.S. Eshwarappa on Friday told his supporters and party workers that he will come out clear as innocent from the allegations made against him as part of a conspiracy and will certainly become a minister once again.</p> <p>Eshwarappa, against whom police have booked a case for allegedly abetting the suicide of contractor Santosh Patil, will be submitting his resignation to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai later Friday evening.</p> <p>"An allegation is being made against me, should I come clear out of it or not?...for me to come clear as innocent, if I continue as minister when investigation is on, there will be a feeling that I may influence the investigation. So I am resigning as minister...I am telling you that I will come out innocent and will certainly become minister once again," Eshwarappa said.</p> <p>He told this to supporters and party workers in Shivamogga, who were shouting slogans asking him not to resign, before leaving for Bengaluru.</p> <p>As a political furore erupted, Eshwarappa had on Thursday evening announced his resignation as minister.</p> <p>Stating that party workers are pained and some were even crying asking him not to resign, later speaking to reporters he said, he has told them very clearly that this is a "agni pareekshe" (trial by fire), an allegation has been made against him, and that several people have conspired against him.</p> <p>"When I asked them whether I should come out clear from all the allegations or not, they said, I should come out clear...I am completely confident. From the blessings of our karyakartas (workers), seniors and several swamijis, who have called me. I will come clear out of the conspiracy against me," he said.</p> <p>Eshwarappa said he is emotional after getting support and love from leaders like B.S. Yediyurappa, CM Bommai, ministers, legislators, and karyakartas.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>"I am confident that I will get justice against the conspirators' allegations, from the love and affection of all these people," he said.</p> <p>Santosh Patil, a Belagavi-based contractor, was found dead at a hotel in Udupi on Tuesday, weeks after accusing Eshwarappa, who is also a senior BJP leader, of corruption.</p> <p>In a purported suicide note in the form of a WhatsApp message, Patil had blamed Eshwarappa for his death.</p> Fri Apr 15 18:41:54 IST 2022 you-will-see-owaisi-enter-after-raj-thackeray-ncp-chief-warns-of-communal-tension-in-maharashtra <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Maharashtra ruling party NCP chief Jayant Patil blamed Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi for trying to create communal tension in the state. &quot;There is a deliberate attempt to create communal tension in the state. In coming days, you will see entry of Owaisi in picture, after Raj Thackeray. It is an attempt to start communal rift, and untoward incidents in the state,&quot; he said, reported news agency ANI.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raj Thackeray, in his hawkish avatar, has been creating waves in Maharashtra. He had batted for the Uniform Civil Code and stressed the need for controlling population growth. He also reiterated his demand that loudspeakers on mosques be removed, giving an ultimatum to the Maharashtra government to act before May 3. If the Shiv Sena-led state government did not remove loudspeakers from mosques before May 3, MNS workers will play the Hanuman Chalisa in front of mosques, Thackeray threatened.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil on Thursday said the government has taken a &quot;serious&quot; view of it and it will not let anyone vitiate the atmosphere in the state. Walse Patil's comment came a day after NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar slammed Thackeray for raking up the issue and said the state government will &quot;think seriously&quot; over the MNS chief giving an ultimatum to removing loudspeakers from mosques by May 3.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The government has taken it seriously. The police are prepared for the upcoming festivals, including Hanuman Jayanti. We will not allow anyone to vitiate the atmosphere in this state,&quot; the minister told reporters. Walse Patil said a court decision is being referred to [by the MNS and BJP] while making the demand for removal of loudspeakers from mosques. &quot;The court decision being referred to says nobody should use loudspeakers from 10pm to 6am at higher volume. The decibel levels have been decided. Hence, the court has not given any decision on removing loudspeakers on temples or mosques or other places which were installed with permission,&quot; he added.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pawar said the people of the state must stand united to ensure communal harmony. Responding to a question, Pawar said Raj Thackeray, going by his recent speeches and statements, may be treading the path of Hindutva, but then went on add that one need not speak about a party that had been rejected soundly by people in polls.</p> Sat Apr 16 11:43:48 IST 2022 three-coaches-of-dadar-puducherry-express-derail-in-mumbai <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>At least three rear coaches of the Dadar-Puducherry Express derailed near Matunga station in Mumbai on Saturday night.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>No casualty has been reported in the incident which took place around 9.45 pm soon after the train departed the Dadar terminus.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reports said local services have been affected between CSMT and Kurla station.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier this month, ten coaches of the Lokmanya Tilak-Jaynagar Express (Pawan Express) had derailed near Nashik, leaving two passengers injured.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The incident had taken place between Lahavit and Devlali stations in Bhusawal division of the Central Railway.</p> Fri Apr 15 23:11:40 IST 2022 under-modi-govt-people-from-sc-st-communities-becoming-job-creators-from-job-seekers-bjp <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The BJP Friday cited a number of government welfare measures to claim that what was done for the empowerment of Scheduled Tribes in the last eight years is much more than what rival parties did during their nearly six-decade-long rule.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Modi government has eight members from the community in the council of ministers and they are in a position to lead society and ensure the community gets due support, respect and encouragement, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia told a press conference in Delhi.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He was highlighting the government's measures for the community as part of the 'Samajik Nyay Pakhwada' (fortnight dedicated to social justice) being observed by the BJP to mark its foundation day, which fell on April 6.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Out of the nearly 10 crore beneficiaries of the Mudra scheme, over 50 per cent are from the Scheduled Castes, ST and other backward classes, Bhatia said, adding this has effected positive change in their lives and boosted employment.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He also referred to the 'Stand Up India' programme in the context.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"In the truest sense, people from SC and ST communities have been able to become job creators from job-seekers," he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over Rs 1,100 crore was allocated for education among SC and ST members in the first budget of the Modi government, he said, noting that it has now been increased to Rs 6,000 crore.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said that over 36,428 villages with ST majority are being developed as "ideal villages" with an expenditure of Rs 7,300 crore.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Districts with big ST population have also been chosen in the the government's programme to develop "aspirational district".&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Eklavya Model Schools have received focus for good education for children from the SC and ST community, he said, noting 452 new schools will be built for them in next five years while 211 will be renovated.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While freedom fighters from the community were ignored by the earlier governments, the Modi dispensation has gone a long way in highlighting their contributions, Bhatia said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Previous governments have this mindset that if some basic facilities are given to the deprived sections of society, then their work is done, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ensured that giving them only basic facilities is not enough as his goal is to bring them into the mainstream, he said.</p> Fri Apr 15 18:06:47 IST 2022 bjp-ally-says-ram-not-god-but-a-character-created-by-tulsidas-an <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, whose Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) is a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, courted controversy on Friday as he claimed that the Ramayana is just a fictional story. Manjhi said Ram is not God, but just a character created by Valmiki and Tulsidas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I don't believe in Ram. Ram was not God. Ram was a character created by Tulsidas and Valmiki to spread their message," Manjhi was quoted as saying by the NDTV.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking at an event to mark the birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, the HAM chief raked up the issue of caste-divide and alleged wide-spread discrimination against dalits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“If you believe in Ram, then the story we always heard is that Ram ate fruit tasted by Shabari. You will not eat the fruit we bite into but at least eat what we touch," Manjhi said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Manjhi's comments came days after several states reported violence during the Ram Navami celebrations with one person each killed in Gujarat and Jharkhand. Clashes were reported in Madhya Pradesh where the administration launched a demolition drive against "illegal" structures of miscreants who pelted stones at a Ram Navami procession in Khargone.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Delhi, two groups of students clashed at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) allegedly over serving of non-vegetarian food on Ram Navami in its mess, with police saying six students were injured.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Vishva Hindu Parishad has alleged that minority community leaders and Left liberals are to be blamed for "attacks" across the country on people celebrating Ram Navami and cautioned them against leading their followers on the path of violence.</p> Fri Apr 15 17:36:38 IST 2022 karnataka-contractors-death-eshwarappa-submits-resignation-cm-says-not-a-setback <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, on Friday, tendered his resignation to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai amid the row over the alleged suicide of contractor Santosh Patil. He met Bommai at his residence in Bengaluru and submitted the resignation letter.</p> <p>Eshwarappa is facing charges of abetment to suicide in connection with the death of the contractor in Udupi.</p> <p>Earlier in the day, Eshwarappa told his supporters and party workers in Shivamogga that he will prove his innocence and will become minister again. “An allegation is being made against me, should I come clear out of it or not?...for me to come clear as innocent, if I continue as minister when investigation is on, there will be a feeling that I may influence the investigation. So I am resigning as minister...I am telling you that I will come out innocent and will certainly become minister once again," he had said.</p> <p>As a political furore erupted over the death, Eshwarappa had, on Thursday evening, announced his resignation as minister. The opposition, Congress, has been demanding his arrest and an impartial investigation into the death under the supervision of a sitting judge of the Karnataka High Court.</p> <p>Bommai, meanwhile, said the resignation cannot be considered as a "setback" for the BJP government in the state, and clarified that Eshwarappa is voluntarily resigning. "He (Eshwarappa) has said that he is hundred per cent innocent. He has asked for an investigation to happen at the earliest and is confident of coming out clear from the allegations against him," the CM said.</p> <p>Responding to a question on the opposition parties demanding Eshwarappa's arrest, the CM said police should be allowed to investigate the case first.</p> <p>"Was K.J. George (minister during Congress rule who was blamed by a police officer before committing suicide) arrested by the Congress government? Neither the Karnataka police nor the CBI had arrested him, despite the NDA government at the Centre. Police will decide if they need to arrest or not," he said.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Apr 15 21:22:52 IST 2022 independent-mla-ravi-rana-asks-cm-to-recite-hanuman-chalisa-at-his-home <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Politics over 'Hanuman Chalisa' intensified in Maharashtra on Friday with state minister Aaditya Thackeray saying loudspeakers should be used to create awareness among people about reasons behind rising prices of essential items, while independent MLA Ravi Rana asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to recite the devotional hymns at his residence on Saturday.</p> <p>It all started when MNS president Raj Thackeray raised the issue of high-decibel loudspeakers atop mosques. Raj Thackeray has demanded removal of loudspeakers atop mosques before May 3 and warned the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government that MNS workers will play 'Hanuman Chalisa' in front of mosques if his demand was not met by the deadline.</p> <p>Reacting to the Hanuman Chalisa recital issue, Aaditya Thackeray avoided a direct reply and said issues like price rise should be discussed on loudspeakers. "Loudspeakers should be used to create awareness among people about reasons behind rising prices of essential commodities," he said.</p> <p>Wading into the issue, independent MLA Rana asked Chief Minister Thackeray to recite 'Hanuman Chalisa' at his private residence 'Matoshree' on Saturday on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, drawing criticism from the Shiv Sena.</p> <p>The MLA from Badnera in the Vidarbha region, who is affiliated to the BJP in the 288-member legislative assembly, said if the CM fails to do so, "we will recite 'Hanuman Chalisa' outside Matoshree". ''Uddhav Thackeray should recite 'Hanuman Chalisa' tomorrow on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti at Matoshree . If the chief minister has forgotten the thoughts and vision of (Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray, reciting 'Hanuman Chalisa' will help him remember them. If he doesn't do that, we will recite 'Hanuman Chalisa' outside Matoshree,'' Rana, with a saffron scarf draped around his neck, said in a video statement.</p> <p>Kishori Pednekar, a Shiv Sena leader, hit back at Rana for targeting the chief minister. ''We, Shiv Sainiks, are still alive. We dare you to come to Matoshree and then you will see what Shiv Sainiks are made of. Prayers should be done at home,'' the former Mumbai mayor said.</p> <p>Raj Thackeray will participate in a 'Hanuman Chalisa' recital programme in Pune on Saturday.</p> Fri Apr 15 17:34:03 IST 2022 agitating-anganwadi-workers-resentment-boils-over-after-death-of-a-colleague <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Resentment of agitating anganwadi workers boiled over at Sagar in Madhya Pradesh on Friday after the death of a protester on Thursday night.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The protesters clashed with police after the latter tried to stop them from paying last homage to Shahnaz Bano, an anganwadi worker from Lajpatnagar ward in Sagar city, who died on Thursday night after falling ill at the protest site.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agitating anganwadi workers claimed that this was the second death among their colleagues participating in the protest during the past month. On March 22, Rajkumari Ahirwar, an anganwadi helper from Shivaji Ward had also succumbed after falling sick during the agitation, Pappu Tiwari, patron of the Anganwadi Karyakarta evam Sahayika Sangh that is spearheading the agitation, told THE WEEK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agitation has been on for the past 40 days across 37 districts in the extremely hot weather, but neither the authorities concerned nor the three ministers of Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet who hailed from Sagar had paid any attention to them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Friday,&nbsp; the protesters announced that the body of Bano would be brought to the protest site before last rites, but the police changed the route of the burial procession. When the protesters tried to meet the procession, police tried to stop them, resulting in scuffle and also a cane charge by the police, Tiwari claimed.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The protesters have been demanding that the anganwadi workers, deputy anganwadi workers, helpers and the mini anganwadi workers be declared as government employees and given equal wages, they should get benefit appointment (for family members) on compassionate ground, should get retirement benefits of Rs 5 lakh for anganwadi workers and Rs 3 lakh for helpers, should get the arrears of hiked allowances pending since year 2019, mini anganwadi workers should be upgraded to anganwadi workers. Also, they are demanding that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan fulfill his promise of paying Rs 1 lakh to anganwadi workers and Rs 75,000 to helpers following retirement, Tiwari said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Later, state PWD minister Gopal Bhargava, one of the three ministers who hail from Sagar, met the protesters to pacify them and assured that their demands will be taken up during the cabinet meeting to be held next Tuesday (April 19).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from their long standing demands, the protesters, while talking to the minister,&nbsp; sought action against officials of the women and child development department whom they accused of mental harassment. They also demanded Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the families of the deceased colleagues, government job for their family members and sacking of the WCD officers and registration of a police case regarding the death of Bano.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During discussions with the minister at the protest site, the district president of the organization, Leela Sharma fell unconscious and was provided immediate treatment. Sharma said in a press statement later that on April 16, anganwadi workers from different districts will come to Sagar to pay homage to their deceased colleague. The agitation will continue till their demands are resolved, the organisation has said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Kamal Nath writes to CM</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier in the day, ex-chief minister Kamal Nath wrote a letter to Chouhan highlighting the demands of the protesting anganwadi workers and urging the latter to resolve them suitably. Nath’s letter came after he met the protesting workers in his hometown Chhindwara.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, Congress Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha also tweeted on the issue. “Yesterday, on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti, I had urged CM Shivraj Singh to give justice to anganwadi worker and helper sisters, through the media. Today, the news of the death of an anganwadi worker-sister in Sagar has upset me very much. How many more lives would this government take?” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Apr 15 20:02:44 IST 2022 if-harmed-india-wont-spare-anyone-says-rajnath-singh-in-a-strong-message-to-china <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a strong message to China, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said that if harmed, India will not spare anyone, as he asserted that India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a powerful country and is headed to be among the top three economies of the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Singh, in his address to the Indian-American community in San Francisco, also sent a subtle message to the US that New Delhi does not believe in a diplomacy of zero-sum game and its relationship with one country cannot be at the expense of the other.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The defence minister was here to attend the India US 2+2 ministerial in Washington DC. Thereafter, he travelled to Hawaii for meetings at IndoPACOM headquarters and then to San Francisco.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At a reception hosted in his honour by the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, the Defence Minister told the select gathering about the valour shown by Indian soldiers on the border with China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I cannot say openly what they (Indian soldiers) did and what decisions we (the government) took. But I can definitely say that a message has gone (to China) that India will not spare anyone, if India is harmed. (Bharat ko agar koi chherega to Bharat chhorega nahi," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Ladakh border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas. The face-off escalated after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15, 2020. As many as 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops were killed in the clashes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India and China have held 15 rounds of military talks so far to resolve the eastern Ladakh standoff. As a result of the talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Without making any direct reference to the American pressure with respect to Russia because of the Ukraine war, Singh said India does not believe in a zero-sum game diplomacy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If India has a good relationship with one country, it does not mean that its relationship with any other country will deteriorate, he said. India has never adopted this kind of diplomacy. India will never opt for this (kind of diplomacy). We don't believe in the zero-sum game in international relationships, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India, he said, believes in having a bilateral relationship which is based on win-win for both the countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>His remarks came amidst some disquiet in Washington over India's position on the Ukraine crisis as well as its decision to procure discounted Russian oil.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The image of India has changed. The prestige of India has improved. In the next few years, no power in the world can stop India from becoming the world's top three economies, Singh said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In his address to the Indian community, Singh said that in the past, if any country in the world wanted to develop and prosper, they always thought about establishing a vibrant trade with India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We should aim at establishing a similar ecosystem in India by the time we celebrate our 100th independence Day in 2047, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The defence minister said that during his last trip to the US in 2013, at a reception in New Jersey he had told a group of Indian Americans that "the success story of India is not over, it is waiting for the BJP to come into power. At that time, people were disappointed with the performance of the then Congress government."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In eight years, he said, the Modi government has "turned around" the country and the image of India has changed for the better.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(Globally) people have now realised that India is no longer a weak country. It is a powerful country of the world. Today India has the potential to lead the world. This potential of India is something that the world has now realised, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nothing else could be a grand achievement for a country like India in such a short span, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There have been several prime ministers in India who became the leader of the country after they occupied this post. But like Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi were the country's leaders even before they became the prime minister," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Today we have a new and confident Bharat, he said, adding that India is now headed towards becoming a self-reliant country and the Modi government is taking several important steps in this regard, including in the defence sector, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India has taken several key steps towards indigenisation of its defence sector, he said as he briefly described some of such decisions being taken by the government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Observing that India has a lot of faith and confidence in the country's IT sector, the defence minister said that Indian talents are playing a major role in the world's IT sector and the Modi government has taken steps towards massive digitisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India today, he said, is marching ahead to become an economic power and the government is not only working towards the welfare and prosperity of its people, but also helping people in other parts of the world as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India is now among the world's fastest growing economies. Our economy did suffer a setback due to the pandemic. But now we are having a fast recovery, he said.</p> Fri Apr 15 18:45:00 IST 2022 ayushman-bharat-teleconsultation-facilities-saturday <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Teleconsultation facility 'e-Sanjeevani' will start at 1 lakh Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) from April 16, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday.</p> <p>Mandaviya had chaired a virtual meeting on Tuesday with health ministers and senior officials of all the states and union territories to review the operationalisation status of AB-HWCs and tele-consultation services.</p> <p>"Now common citizens will also be able to consult the big doctors of the country!</p> <p>"On the occasion of the 4th anniversary of Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres, 'e-Sanjeevani Tele-consultation' facility will be launched at 1 lakh centres on April 16. These centres are realising PM @NarendraModi ji's resolve of 'Ayushman Bharat'," Mandaviya said in a tweet in Hindi on Friday.</p> <p>As many as 1,17,440 AB-HWCs had been operationalised across the country by the end of March against the target of 1.1 lakh, according to the health ministry.&nbsp;</p> Fri Apr 15 15:49:57 IST 2022 will-continue-to-give-100-to-congress-hardik-backpedals-after-outburst <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Gujarat Congress unit working president Hardik Patel had caused a flutter on Wednesday when he complained of <a title="Hope Congress doesn't search for a new Patel for 2027 polls: Hardik" href="">being sidelined</a> by his party.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Thursday, Hardik even complained that he had raised his concerns with Rahul Gandhi “many times”, but no action was taken against those leaders of the Gujarat Congress who had wanted him to leave the party. Hardik claimed he was not given work despite being the working president of the party. “I am not called to attend important meetings or not made part of any decision-making process,” Hardik Patel was quoted as saying by <i>NDTV</i>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, later on Thursday, Hardik dismissed speculation he would leave the party. At an event in Surat, Hardik was quoted by <i>ANI</i> as saying “There is a rumour that I am leaving Congress, I do not know who is spreading so... I have given my 100 per cent to Congress till now, and will give the same in the coming days. We will do better development in Gujarat. There will be small fights and blame games within the party, but we have to work together to make Gujarat a better place.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, Hardik indicated issues persisted. He was quoted by <i>ANI</i> as saying “If speaking truth is a crime, consider me guilty. The people of Gujarat have expectations from us, we have to stand up to them.”</p> Fri Apr 15 12:13:10 IST 2022 rising-india-is-vehicle-with-accelerator-but-no-brakes-mohan-bhagwat <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India has to grow big and its rise is incumbent upon the rise of 'dharma', RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has said, in remarks interpreted by some rivals of the BJP as a pitch for 'Akhand Bharat'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Likening India's progress to that of a vehicle that only has accelerator and no brakes, the RSS chief said those trying to stop it will either step aside or be eliminated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bhagwat made the comments at a gathering of saints and seers in Haridwar on Wednesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“<i>Bharat ko ab bada hona hi hai... Dharma ka utthan hi Bharat ka utthan hai... Bharat jo apne utthan ki patri pe chal pada hai usko paaye bina ab rukna nahin hai. Isko rokne wale ya toh hat jayengae ya mit jayengae... yeh nahin rukne wala. Yeh aisi gadi hai iska accelerator hai, break nahin hai </i>(India has to now grow big. The rise of 'Dharma' is the rise of India. There's no stopping India, which has launched itself on the track of rise and upliftment. Those who try to stop it will either step aside or be eliminated. This is a vehicle that has an accelerator but no brakes),” Bhagwat said amid chants of 'Jai Shri Ram'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the excerpts of his speech shared by the RSS, Bhagwat said RSS founder K.B. Hegdewar had assigned its workers the role of the <i>chowkidar</i> (watchman) for protecting the religion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Shiv Sena, a BJP ally until a few years ago, welcomed Bhagwat's comments, but said before realising the goal of 'Akhand Bharat', the BJP must take control of Pakistan and rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits in the valley.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut also demanded Bharat Ratna for freedom fighter V.D. Savarkar, a highly polarising pro-Hindutva figure, who has been revered and demonised in equal measure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“First take Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) under control, then take control of Pakistan, form an Akhand Hindustan, then take Afghanistan...(or) territories which you think were part of India. No one has stopped you. This is the desire of the country. But before that give Bharat Ratna to Veer Savarkar. You surely work on Akhand Hindustan, but before that ensure ghar wapsi of Kashmiri Pandits. Let that happen with dignity,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A section of the Hindu Right believes in the concept of Akhand Bharat, while referring to Pre-Partition India, which stretched to the present-day Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Myanmar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Raut said Bhagwat is a revered figure for the Sena and his thought of 'Akhand Bharat' is commendable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi wondered who stopped the RSS from making 'Akhand Bharat' a reality during the past eight years of BJP rule.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Who stopped you from creating an Akhand Bharat in eight years? And what will happen in the next 15 years? What is Akhand Bharat? Does he (Bhagwat) realise that it includes Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and China-occupied territory?” Owaisi told reporters in Ahmedabad.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a swipe at Bhagwat, Owaisi said instead of talking about Akhand Bharat, the RSS leader should raise the issue of Indian territory currently occupied by China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I want to tell Bhagwat Sahab to talk about areas... occupied by China. Our Army cannot even do patrolling in those areas. Instead of talking about that, you are talking about Akhand Bharat. You should have done that in eight years,” said Owaisi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil of the NCP said India is united even now and no attempt should be made to disintegrate it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“India is a country where people belonging to different castes and religious faiths live together. India is integrated even today and will remain so. Nobody should try to disintegrate it,” Walse Patil said, responding to Bhagwat's remarks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In his speech, Bhagwat said India of the dreams of Vivekananda and Maharishi Aurobindo is nearing realisation. “People say it may take 20-25 years, but from my experience I feel it will be realised in next 8-10 years. For this, the entire society has to work together. We will talk about non-violence, but we will carry a stick in our hand. We have no enmity in our mind, but world heeds to power. Therefore, we should have power that is visible,” Bhagwat told the gathering.</p> Fri Apr 15 11:31:47 IST 2022 aap-woos-hardik-patel-after-he-expresses-dissatisfaction-with-gujarat-congress-leaders <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Gujarat unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), on Friday, invited Congress leader Hardik Patel to join the party instead of "wasting his time" with the grand old party.</p> <p>On Thursday, Patel, who is the Gujarat Congress working president, had alleged that the leaders of his party's state unit were harassing him and want him to leave the party, a claim he retracted only a few hours later.</p> <p>Patel had said he is pained that he spoke to Rahul Gandhi about the situation in the state, but no action was taken against the Congress leaders.</p> <p>AAP Gujarat chief Gopal Italia extended a welcome to Patel saying, "If Hardik Patel is not liking in Congress, he should join a like-minded party like AAP."</p> <p>Calling Patel a "dedicated" person, Italia said a party like Congress has no place for him. "Instead of complaining to Congress, wasting his time, he should contribute here (AAP).</p> <p>Patel had clarified that he has no plan to leave the Congress and claimed that "there will be small fights and blame games within the party, but we have to work together to make Gujarat a better place.”</p> Fri Apr 15 17:56:31 IST 2022 active-covid-cases-increase-to-11191 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India logged 949 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 4,30,39,972, while the active cases rose to 11,191, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.</p> <p>The death toll climbed to 5,21,743 with six new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated. The active cases comprise 0.03 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate remained at 98.76 per cent, the ministry said.</p> <p>An increase of 133 cases has been recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded as 0.26 per cent and the weekly positivity rate as 0.25 per cent, according to the ministry.</p> <p>The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 4,25,07,038, while the case fatality rate was recorded as 1.21 per cent. The cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive has exceeded 186.30 crore.</p> <p>India's Covid-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.</p> <p>The country crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23 last year. The six new fatalities include five from Maharashtra and one from Mizoram.</p> <p>A total of 5,21,743 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 1,47,826 from Maharashtra, 68,402 from Kerala, 40,057 from Karnataka, 38,025 from Tamil Nadu, 26,158 from Delhi, 23,499 from Uttar Pradesh and 21,200 from West Bengal.</p> <p>The ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.</p> <p>"Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research," the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.&nbsp;</p> Fri Apr 15 11:04:53 IST 2022 india-to-get-record-number-of-doctors-in-10-years-due-to-govt-push-for-medical-education-pm <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday, said the country will get a record number of doctors in the next 10 years due to the central government's policy of establishing at least one medical college in every district.</p> <p>Speaking after dedicating to the nation a 200-bed KK Patel Mutli-speciality Hospital in Bhuj in Gujarat's Kutch district via video-conferencing, he said coronavirus is still lurking and people should not take it easy and be watchful.</p> <p>The modern health facility is the first charitable multi-speciality hospital in the Kutch region and it has been built by the Leuva Patel community of Bhuj with help from donors based in India and abroad.</p> <p>The goal of having at least one medical college in every district and ensuring that medical education was in reach of everyone will result in the country getting a record numbers of doctors after 10 years, the PM said.</p> <p>He said two decades ago, Gujarat had just nine medical colleges with around 1,100 MBBS seats, but the medical education scenario has improved vastly in the last 20 years.</p> <p>Now, the state has one AIIMS and over three dozen medical colleges. Earlier, only 1,000 students used to get admission in medical colleges of Gujarat, now around 6,000 students get admission in these colleges. AIIMS in Rajkot has started admitting 50 students from 2021, Modi said.</p> <p>Stressing that coronavirus has still not gone away and people should not take it easy, the PM said yoga and ayurveda, which have their origins in India, caught the world's attention during the pandemic.</p> <p>He said export of turmeric from India has increased after the advent of the pandemic as people across the globe learnt about its health benefits. To spread the message of healthy living, Modi urged the people of Kutch to set a world record by ensuring maximum participation of citizens in the district during the international day of yoga on June 21.</p> <p>To boost tourism in Gujarat and in the country, the PM sought help of people from Kutch living abroad in persuading foreigners to visit attractions like the White Rann of Kutch during Rann Utsav and 182-metre tall Statue of Unity in Narmada district dedicated to Sardar Patel. "This is my appeal to the Kutchi diaspora spread across the world. Every year, one such Kutchi family should persuade at least five foreigners to visit the Rann of Kutch and the Statue of Unity. This will definitely boost tourism activity and also help poor people such as auto drivers and tea sellers in earning livelihood" said Modi.</p> <p>The PM called for constructing 75 lakes per district to mark the 75th anniversary of India's independence.</p> <p>He urged the diaspora to contribute in building at least 75 large lakes in the arid Kutch region so that people do not face water shortage.</p> <p>Modi expressed concern about the Maldhari (cattle-rearer) community of Kutch whose members are forced to migrate to other districts with their livestock and family in search of water and fodder after the monsoon months get over and dry season sets in. "I want the people of Kutch to convince these Maldharis to stay back because Kutch is no longer water deficient. They must be made aware that there is no need to migrate because enough water and fodder is now available in Kutch. This migration also deprives their children of studies. This pains me a lot," said the PM.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Fri Apr 15 16:35:43 IST 2022 4-terrorists-killed-in-encounter-in-j-k-shopian <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists were killed in an encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian district on Thursday, while two Army personnel lost their lives as their vehicle met with an accident on the way to the site of the gunbattle, officials said.</p> <p>On receiving information about the presence of terrorists at Badigam in Shopian's Zainapora area, the security forces had launched a cordon-and-search operation, a police official said.</p> <p>During the operation, the terrorists fired upon the forces, which led to an encounter, he added.</p> <p>In the exchange of fire, four terrorists were killed, the official said.</p> <p>Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the slain ultras were members of proscribed terror outfit LeT.</p> <p>"LeT #terrorists neutralised in today's #encounter were active in Shopian &amp;amp; adjacent areas of Pulwama. They were involved in 6 #terror crimes including attacks on outside labourers. Hunt for their associates like Aijaz of Pulwama is on &amp; they will be neutralised soon," Kumar wrote on Twitter.</p> <p>Meanwhile, two Army personnel were killed and two injured when their vehicle met with an accident on the way to the encounter site, the official said.</p> <p>"An Army party of 44 Rashtriya Rifles was going towards the encounter site at Badigam, Zainapora in a Sumo, when the vehicle overturned near Chowgam, Shopian, due to which two Army personnel died and two got injured," he said.</p> Thu Apr 14 22:01:40 IST 2022 hindu-sena-puts-posters-jnu-gate-stringent-action-saffron-insulted <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Hindu Sena has put up posters and saffron flags near the main gate of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and surrounding areas almost a week after a clash broke out in a hostel over allegedly serving non-vegetarian food during Ram Navami.</p> <p>It also warned of "stringent steps" if there is an "insult to saffron".</p> <p>Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta said the posters reading "Bhagwa (saffron) JNU" have been put up by the right-wing outfit's national vice-president Surjit Singh Yadav.</p> <p>In a video circulated on WhatsApp, Gupta is purportedly heard saying in Hindi, "Saffron is being insulted in the JNU campus on a regular basis. We want to warn those who are doing this. Mend your ways. We won't tolerate this."</p> <p>"We respect your ideology and every religion. But insult to saffron will not be tolerated and we might take stringent steps," he said.</p> <p>Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Manoj C said, "On Friday morning, it was noticed that a few flags and banners have been put on the road and adjoining areas of JNU. Those were promptly removed because of the recent incident and suitable legal action is being taken."</p> <p>In a statement, the Hindu Sena said the police should not be in a hurry to take down the flags. "Saffron is not a symbol of terror that the police is showing haste. It is a right under the law to protect saffron and Hindutva," the outfit said.</p> <p>Two groups of students clashed at JNU's Kaveri Hostel on Sunday allegedly over serving non-vegetarian food in the mess on Ram Navami, with police saying 20 students were injured in the violence. The two groups, however, claimed that over 60 students from both sides were injured.</p> <p>The JNU Students' Union alleged that Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members stopped students from eating non-vegetarian food in the hostel mess and "created a violent atmosphere".</p> <p>However, the right-wing ABVP denied the charge and claimed that "Leftists" obstructed a puja programme organised at the hostel on Ram Navami.&nbsp;</p> Fri Apr 15 15:10:51 IST 2022 told-ratan-tata-once-that-rss-does-not-discriminate-on-basis-of-religion-gadkari <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Union minister Nitin Gadkari, on Thursday, said he once told industrialist Ratan Tata that the RSS does not discriminate on the basis of religion.</p> <p>The senior BJP leader inaugurated a charitable hospital in the Sinhagad area in Pune.</p> <p>Speaking on the occasion, he related an anecdote from the time when he was a minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra.</p> <p>"A hospital named after late RSS chief K.B. Hedgewar was being inaugurated in Aurangabad. I was a minister in the state government then. A senior RSS functionary expressed wish that the hospital be inaugurated by Ratan Tata, and asked me to help," Gadkari said.</p> <p>He then contacted Tata and persuaded him to inaugurate the hospital citing Tata Cancer Hospital's contribution in providing cancer care to the poor in the country, he said.</p> <p>"Upon reaching the hospital, Tata asked if the hospital is only for people from the Hindu community. I asked him 'why do you think so'. He immediately replied, 'because it belongs to the RSS'. I told him that the hospital is for all communities, and no such thing (discrimination on the basis of religion) happens in the RSS," the Union minister said.</p> <p>He then explained several things to Tata and the latter "became very happy", Gadkari said.</p> Thu Apr 14 20:49:02 IST 2022 congress-seeks-action-against-kailash-vijayvargiya-for-posting-misrepresentative-video <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Madhya Pradesh Congress demanded probe into a social media post of BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and legal action against him if the video that the BJP leader used in the post claiming it to be from violence-hit Khargone in the state, turned out to be misrepresentative as pointed out by fact checkers and some users who commented on Vijayvargiya’s post.</p> <p>The demand of Congress comes two days after FIRs were registered against party leader Digvijaya Singh in multiple cities of Madhya Pradesh for posting a misrepresentative video (from Bihar) claiming it to be from Khargone. Singh had later deleted the video from his Twitter timeline, but FIRs were registered against him on complaints from BJP workers in multiple cities.</p> <p>Congress said if action was not initiated against Vijayvargiya by the state government, it will file FIR against the BJP leader.</p> <p>The controversy erupted over a post of Vijayvargiya on Thursday afternoon on Twitter and Facebook, in which he used a video of a man in beard and skullcap making some provocative remarks. Vijayvargiya said in the post (in Hindi) “this is the messenger of peace of chachajaan Digvijaya Singh in Khargone. What should the police do but take action on them? Whoever is the snake in the sleeve, it is necessary to crush their hoods.”</p> <p>Soon after Vijayvargiya’s post on Twitter, fact checkers like Alt News and Webqoof (Quint Fact Check) posted reports in the comment section that claimed that the video in question was from Nizamabad in Telangana from the year 2019, which was also circulated as that from Karauli in Rajasthan where communal clashes erupted on April 2. The reports also mentioned that action had been initiated by Nizamabad police against the man seen in the video.</p> <p>Other users also pointed out to Vijayvargiya that the video was not from Madhya Pradesh and some also asked the BJP leader to delete it. However, the video and the posted continued to be on Vijayvargiya’s timeline at the time of filing of this report.</p> <p><b>Digvijaya Singh takes a dig</b></p> <p>Digvijaya Singh took a dig at Vijayvargiya, citing the latter’s Facebook post on Twitter to say “Kailash ji, the video you have posted is not from Khargone. The language you have used is provocative. Why shouldn’t Shivraj ji (CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan) and Narottom ji (Home Minister Narottam Mishra), who are your special well-wishers, register a case against you? I will not do so, because I know that it’s not ‘acche din’ (good days) for you currently.”</p> <p>However, MP Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja quoted Vijayvargiya’s post to say “BJP national general secretary has tweeted this video, claiming it to be from Khargone. Is this video from Khargone?.. Perhaps not? If this video is not from there (Khargone), then a case should be registered against him too on the basis of this fake video. This is an action to disturb harmony.”</p> <p>Later, in a video statement, Saluja said case was registered against Digvijaya Singh despite him deleting a controversial video (from Bihar, which Singh had claimed to be from Khargone), so there should be a probe to find out whether the video used by Vijayvargiya was from Khargone and if not, similar action should be taken against the BJP leader.</p> <p>Later, talking to THE WEEK, Saluja said the Congress will file a complaint against Vijayvargiya if the government fails to initiate action against him.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Thu Apr 14 17:46:25 IST 2022 on-his-birth-anniversary-ambedkars-statue-disfigured-in-noida-probe-launched <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A statue of B.R. Ambedkar, the key architect of India's Constitution, was found disfigured in Uttar Pradesh's Noida on his birth anniversary on Thursday, prompting police to launch a probe into the matter.</p> <p>The disfigured statue is located in Chhijarsi village under the Sector 63 police station limits area and the incident was reported by locals in the morning, officials said.</p> <p>A police spokesperson said a new statue was being installed to replace the disfigured one with the help of residents.</p> <p>Police force has been deployed in the area and the matter is being investigated. All angles are being probed and action will be taken accordingly, the spokesperson said.</p> <p>There was no law and order-related situation in the area due to the incident, the police said.</p> <p>Born in a Dalit family in Maharashtra in 1891, Ambedkar, a Bharat Ratna, was a jurist and economist who played an important role in India's freedom movement and became the country's first law minister.</p> <p>Ambedkar championed the cause of the Dalit community which faced deep-rooted discrimination. He is regarded as a Dalit icon for his relentless work for social reforms and the empowerment of the disadvantaged sections of society.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Thu Apr 14 16:24:34 IST 2022 congress-neednt-act-as-judge-investigator-bommai-backs-eshwarappa <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday morning adopted a combative tone even as the Congress continues protests demanding the arrest of Minister K.S. Eshwarappa.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Eshwarappa announced on Thursday evening he would be resigning on Friday, after he was booked on charges of abetment of suicide over the death of Santosh Patil, a contractor. Patil had allegedly committed suicide earlier this week; he had accused Eshwarappa of demanding bribes from him and threatening him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Friday, Bommai told mediapersons “Eshwarappa has decided to resign on his own and will tender his resignation today evening,” <i>ANI</i> reported. Bommai argued “Congress need not act as judge, prosecutor and investigator. The police know how they should go ahead with the case," <i>Deccan Herald</i> reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bommai said Eshwarappa had assured him he had no involvement in the death of Santosh Patil, but decided to quit on moral grounds as the BJP could be uncomfortable. “He (Eshwarappa) is 100% confident of coming clean of all the charges. The question of conspiracy will be revealed once the police go to the bottom of the issue,” Bommai was quoted as saying by <i>Deccan Herald.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bommai also questioned the Congress over its handling of a similar case involving a minister in the Siddaramaiah government. In 2016, deputy superintendent of police M.K. Ganapathy committed suicide in Madikeri. He had accused then home minister K.J. George and two IPS officers of harassing him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bommai asked on Friday whether George had been arrested by the state police or the CBI in the case. George was given a clean chit by the CBI in the case of M.K. Ganapathy's death in 2019.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Apr 15 10:48:38 IST 2022 bengal-gang-rape-bjp-team-in-hanskhali-today <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A five-member team formed by the BJP to inquire into the gang-rape and murder of a minor girl in Hanskhali area of West Bengal will visit the incident spot on Friday morning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The panel, constituted by BJP chief J.P. Nadda, consists of “BJP's vice president and MP Rekha Verma, Uttar Pradesh government minister Baby Rani Maurya, Tamil Nadu MLA Vanathi Srinivasan, who is also BJP women wing head, Kushbu Sunder and West Bengal MLA Sreerupa Mitra Choudhury,” <i>The Times of India</i> reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>ABP Live</i> reported that Rekha Verma demanded imposition of President's Rule in West Bengal before she left for Hanskhali on Friday. She argued the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh had quickly arrested the suspects in rape cases in Unnao and Hathras.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>News 18</i> reported the TMC attacked the BJP over the formation of the panel to inquire into the Hanskhali incident. The party alleged it was an attempt to influence the CBI probe into the incident.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Friday, the CBI searched the residence of the prime accused in the Hanskhali gang-rape incident. The house is where the alleged crime was committed on April 4 and the investigating agency collected samples from there before locking the house, an official said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CBI sleuths were accompanied by personnel of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory and the entire search operation and evidence collection were videographed, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The search continued till late on Thursday night due to a power cut in the area. During the CBI search, local residents approached its sleuths and claimed that the men and boys of the area are being threatened by the family and accomplices of the accused. They also requested protection.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The district police has already arrested the prime accused, Sohail Goyali, and his friend Prabhakar Poddar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CBI team, which has two woman officers, is expected to conduct another round of search operations at the residence of the accused and its surrounding area on Friday in connection with the investigation in the crime.</p> Fri Apr 15 09:10:49 IST 2022 gujarat-congress-suffers-jolt-as-saurashtra-strongman-switches-to-aap <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Congress in Gujarat on Thursday suffered yet another jolt when one of its prominent leaders from Saurashtra, Indranil Rajguru, joined the Aam Aadmi Party.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rajguru, a Brahmin, figured in the list of vice presidents appointed by the party for Gujarat. He, however, was not happy because many of his supporters had not figured in the list of vice presidents and general secretaries appointed by the party.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sources said that state Congress president Jagdish Thakor had promised that Rajguru’s men would be included later on, but that did not happen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A former Congress MLA, Rajguru has influence in Rajkot and Saurashtra region. In 2017, he had contested, unsuccessfully, against former Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani of the BJP. He was one of the richest candidates to contest the assembly elections in 2017.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Along with Rajguru, two corporators—Vasrambhai Sagathia and Komalben Barai—also joined AAP. In Rajkot Municipal Corporation, the Congress had only four corporators, of whom two have now joined the AAP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In mid-2018, Rajguru had resigned from the party and later re-joined it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking to the media after joining the AAP, Rajguru said that he joined the party because Arvind Kejriwal works for society. He said that he finds the AAP as the best option among the three main parties to work for society. He met with Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi on Wednesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rajguru said that he had no personal problems with the Congress, but he joined the AAP because he found something lacking in the Congress that was needed to topple the BJP.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Thu Apr 14 15:58:32 IST 2022 ed-questions-charanjit-channi-in-sand-mining-case <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Former Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi was questioned for over six hours by the ED in a money laundering investigation linked to an alleged sand mining case in the state, officials said on Thursday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The federal agency recorded the statement of the 59-year-old Congress leader under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and he left the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) zonal office in Jalandhar late on Wednesday night.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Channi's nephew, Bhupinder Singh alias Honey, was arrested in this case by the agency days before the February 20 Punjab assembly polls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A charge-sheet was filed against him and others before a special PMLA court in Jalandhar on March 31. Honey, currently lodged in judicial custody, had recently applied for bail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to sources, the agency questioned Channi, who had earlier skipped a few summons, about his links with Honey and others and about certain visits his nephew made to the chief minister's office.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Channi was also questioned about the allegations of certain transfers and postings of officials in the state as part of the illegal sand mining operations, the sources said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Channi is understood to have been summoned again for questioning. Without naming anyone, former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu tweeted, “My fight was for Punjab and not for sand Those who ran the land, sand and liquor mafia let down Punjab for selfish vested interests by looting the exchequer. It is either Punjab or the Mafia in the present financial scenario! The fight continues.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Channi resigned as the Punjab chief minister after the counting of votes on March 10 as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) swept the state polls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Congress leader also lost the electoral battle from both the assembly seats he contested—Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ED action in the case began on January 18 after it conducted raids against Honey and others and seized about Rs 7.9 crore cash from his premises and about Rs 2 crore cash from a linked person identified as Sandeep Kumar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The agency had said that it recorded statements of Kudratdeep Singh, Honey, his father Santokh Singh and Sandeep Kumar during the searches and it was “established” that the seized Rs 10 crore “belonged to Bhupinder Singh”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Further, Bhupinder Singh accepted that he received the seized cash in lieu of facilitation in sand mining operations and transfer/postings of officials,” the ED had claimed in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It had said Honey had appeared before it for questioning before his arrest and gave his statement, wherein he stated that he is involved in the mining-related activities but took an evasive approach when confronted with incriminating data.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Honey, Kudratdeep Singh and Sandeep Kumar are stated to be the directors of a company called Providers Overseas Consultants Pvt Ltd that was raided by the ED in January.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The money laundering case was filed by the ED in November last year after taking cognisance of a Punjab Police (Rahon police station, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar) FIR of 2018 that pressed charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Mines and Minerals (Regulation of Development) Act, 1957 to probe allegations of illegal sand mining.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In this police FIR, the ED said, it was mentioned that a team comprising officials of mining department, civil administration and police conducted a surprise check in March 2018 based on a complaint received at the Rahon police station regarding illegal sand mining.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Consequently, it was found that several mines were being excavated by various machines and mining was being carried out beyond the designated area. Accordingly, several tippers/trucks, porcelain machines, JCB machines etc., were captured and seized by the investigating team. The seized tipper or trucks were also found to be overloaded with sand,” the ED said, quoting the police FIR.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The seized weighment slips having office stamps had not been issued by the office concerned and were forged. Subsequently, the mining operation at Malikpur mining site (belonging to Kudratdeep Singh) and the approval of weighment slips were stopped by the team, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the FIR, the ED said, apart from Malikpur, illegal mining activities were also carried out at Burjtahl Das, Barsal, Lalewal, Mandala and Khosa.</p> Thu Apr 14 15:02:51 IST 2022 karnataka-contractors-death-fallout-eshwarappa-steps-down-as-minister <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>K.S. Eshwarappa resigned as the rural development and panchayat raj minister on Thursday. The resignation is in the wake of charges of abetment of suicide of a civil contractor Santosh K Patil who allegedly ended his life in a hotel suite in Udupi on Tuesday weeks after accusing Eshwarappa of demanding 40 per cent commission on a public works ahead of a village festival in 2021.</p> <p>Based on a complaint filed by Patil's relative, Udupi town police have booked Eshwarappa for abetting the suicide.</p> <p>Eshwarappa said he will hand over his resignation letter to the chief minister on Friday.&nbsp;“I trust god, I am confident I will come out clean. I will cooperate with the probe. I am grateful to the Central and state party leaders for giving me an opportunity to serve as minister,” he said.<br> </p> <p>Earlier, the minister had refused to step down saying he was in no way involved in the incident as there were no documentary evidences to prove that the work order was issued in the first place. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai too had said Eshwarappa would not be asked resign. The CM said Patil's suicide case will be thoroughly investigated and the truth will come out, and only based on the preliminary inquiry the government will decide on taking action against Eshwarappa.</p> <p>Following the allegations against the minister, the Congress has been demanding his resignation. On Thursday, hundreds of Congress workers led by opposition leader Siddaramaiah, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, AICC general secretary and Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala took out a march in Bengaluru demanding Eshwarappa's arrest under the Prevention of Corruption Act.</p> <p>The Congress is holding a 24-hour dharna demanding the arrest of Eshwarappa. Shivakumar, B.V. Srinivas and other senior leaders are symbolically holding a dharna in front of Vidhana Soudha to overlooking the Karnataka High Court building to remind government about the sanctity of both the legislature and judiciary in democracy.</p> <p>The Karnataka State Contractors Association (KSCA) had threatened that its members will stop civil works for a month starting from May 25 to protest against corruption in various government departments.</p> <p><b>—With inputs from&nbsp;Prathima Nandakumar, PTI</b></p> Thu Apr 14 18:54:41 IST 2022 hope-congress-doesnt-search-for-a-new-patel-for-20-27-polls-hardik <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Expressing displeasure over the Gujarat Congress's “style of functioning”, party leader Hardik Patel on Wednesday claimed that he was sidelined in the state unit and the leadership is not willing to utilise his skills.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, Hardik, who is the state Congress working president, expressed his grouse a day after he hinted at contesting elections after the Supreme Court stayed his conviction in a 2015 rioting and arson case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hardik had spearheaded the Patidar community campaign in Gujarat in 2015, seeking reservations under the OBC category.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Hardik questioned the Congress leadership over the “delay” in inducting popular Patidar leader Naresh Patel into the party fold.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The kind of talks that are doing rounds regarding the induction of Naresh Patel in Congress is insulting for the entire community. It's been over two months now. Why has no decision been taken yet? Congress high command or local leadership should take a quick decision about Naresh Patel's induction,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hardik claimed that the Patidar quota agitation helped Congress win a significant number of seats in the elections to local bodies in 2015 and the 2017 assembly polls when the opposition party had won 77 constituents in the 182-member House.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“But what happened after that? Many in Congress also feel that Hardik was not properly utilised by the party after 2017. It may be because some people in the party would think that I would come in their way after 5 or 10 years if I am given significance today,” claimed Hardik Patel, who became working president of Gujarat Congress in 2020.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Assembly elections in Gujarat are due in December this year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Congress benefited because of us (Patel community) in the 2017 polls. Now, as I am seeing on television the party wants to induct Naresh Patel for the 2022 polls. I hope they do not search for a new Patel for the 2027 elections. Why does the party not utilise the people they already have?” asked Hardik.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He asked the party leadership to not “insult” him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When asked about Hardik's comments about Naresh Patel, Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor said the party is ready to welcome him.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The Congress is ready to welcome Naresh Patel. The ball is now in Naresh Patel's court. We held discussions with him in the past too and urged him to join the party. But, ultimately, the final decision will be taken by him only,” he told reporters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thakor also said a meeting will be held with Hardik to understand his grouse.</p> Thu Apr 14 12:43:51 IST 2022 no-pm-cm-has-right-to-demolish-buildings-of-accused-without-probe-ashok-gehlot <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, on Thursday, pointed out that neither the prime minister nor the chief minister of any state has the right to demolish buildings of people accused in criminal cases.</p> <p>The chief minister was speaking about the incident of violence in Karauli in the state on April 2. Over 30 people were injured in the violence after a bike rally being carried out to mark Hindu new year was pelted with stones.</p> <p>Gehlot said in other states where riots broke out, houses were demolished by governments.</p> <p>In Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, the district administration demolished at least 50 "illegal" structures of people accused of pelting stones at a Ram Navami procession. The state government had also said damage caused to public and private properties during the violence will be recovered from rioters.</p> <p>"Neither PM nor CM has a right as such where without any investigation such an action (demolition) can be taken. Only the law has prerogative to do so and it should take its own course," the Rajasthan CM said.</p> <p>He accused BJP MP Tejasvi Surya of trying to create further tension in the state. Surya, BJP's Rajasthan chief Satish Poonia and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) workers were stopped from visiting violence-hit Karauli town on Wednesday.</p> <p>“The name is Tejasvi Surya but look for what they came here. Incident in Karauli is unfortunate, I already said these people came to further provoke the situation. We were worried that Karauli-like incidents shouldn't happen in other places,” he said.</p> Thu Apr 14 17:17:45 IST 2022 mushtaq-zargar-who-was-released-after-kandahar-hijack-designated-as-terrorist <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, who was involved in a series of terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, has been designated as a terrorist by the Union government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He is the fourth individual to have been designated as a terrorist by the Centre in the last one week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a notification, the Union Home Ministry said Zargar alias Latram (52) belongs to Nowhatta in Srinagar and is the founder and chief commander of terror group Al-Umar-Mujahideen and had been affiliated with Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zargar is currently based in Pakistan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He had gone to Pakistan to obtain illegal arms training and was one of the terrorists released in exchange for the hostages during the 1999 hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The home ministry said Zargar has been running an incessant campaign from Pakistan to fuel terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He has been involved in various terror crimes including murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, planning and execution of terrorist attacks and terror funding, it noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The home ministry said Zargar is a threat to peace, not only to India but across the world, with his contacts and proximity to radical terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Central government believes that Zargar is involved in terrorism and he is to be notified as a terrorist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He is the 35th individual to have been declared a designated terrorist by the government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On April 8, the government had designated Hafiz Talha Saeed, a key leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the son of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, a terrorist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Three days later, on April 11, Pakistani national Mohiuddin Aurangzeb Alamgir, who was involved in the terror attack on a CRPF bus in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, was designated as a terrorist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On April 12, Ali Kashif Jan, the Pakistani handler of the 2016 terror attack on the Pathankot airbase, was designated as a terrorist by the government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The act empowers the Central government to notify the name of an individual in its Fourth Schedule if it believes that he is involved in terrorism.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Thu Apr 14 11:28:30 IST 2022 will-send-them-to-gujarat-tn-ev-israel-mann-on-officials-meet-with-kejriwal <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has been attacked by opposition parties after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal <a title="Punjab to adopt 'Delhi model'? Here's why Kejriwal met Punjab officials" href="">met senior officials</a> of the Punjab State Power Corporation earlier this week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The opposition parties alleged the meeting in Delhi confirmed their suspicion Kejriwal, as AAP chief, was running affairs in Punjab. They pointed to the fact Mann was absent during the meeting. Former chief minister Amarinder Singh had alleged Arvind Kejriwal had “taken over Punjab much before it was expected to happen” and Mann is a “rubber stamp”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Thursday, Mann rejected the criticism strongly. Mann was quoted by <i>The Times of India</i> as telling reporters “They [officers] were sent there for training. If required, I shall again send my officers to Delhi or to other states like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu or wherever we feel there is something good to see and learn. If I feel like, I can send them to Israel also...”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He argued “They (Delhi government) are specialists in education, power, health. Why shouldn't I send the officers?” <i>NDTV</i> reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mann dismissed talk of him being sidelined by Kejriwal. “Who is the opposition? Where is the opposition? Don't criticise for the sake of criticising. It was I who sent the officers to Delhi, for training. They can go anywhere to learn good things? I allowed it,” Mann was quoted as saying by <i>NDTV.</i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite Mann's spirited defence of the meeting, the Congress was not impressed. Congress MLA from Bholath Sukhpal Singh Khaira tweeted Mann's response was on the “instructions” of Kejriwal. Khaira tweeted, “This is not only a belated after thought cover up by @BhagwantMann but definitely on instructions from @ArvindKejriwal who felt the opposition heat for summoning Pb officers directly to Delhi. All we want is that our Cm shouldn’t be a dummy &amp; remote controlled.”</p> Thu Apr 14 15:39:57 IST 2022