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A day after it was left high and dry by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) forging an alliance, the Congress on Sunday announced it will con- test all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh on its own strength. However, the Congress has kept the doors of a possible alliance open saying the Congress would accom- modate any secular force capa- ble of taking on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha election. The Congress has not been in power in Uttar Pradesh since the Babri Masjid demo- lition in 1992. The State has been governed alternately by Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. But the Congress plan to contest the bulk of Lok Sabha seats is expected to cut into the votes of the alliance. It is also expected to irk Mayawati and Akhilesh, who have lent sup- port to the Congress Governments in Madhya Pradesh. After a brainstorming ses- sion with senior party leaders, Congress general secretary and incharge of UP Ghulam Nabi Azad, said, “There was a demand from the party rank and file for contesting the elec- tions alone in UP, which had been accepted by the leader- ship and now the party will contest the elections with full strength.” Announcing that the Congress is ready to accom- modate some secular political parties in their alliance in UP, it said that very soon the lead- ership will start selecting the candidates and party presi- dent Rahul Gandhi will address public rallies at different parts of the State. Addressing a Press confer- ence here on Sunday Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “The Congress will contest on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, and defeat the BJP.” Azad also expressed hope that the Congress will double its tally of seats, which it had secured in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had bagged 21 seats. To a question whether his party will not forge a coalition with any political party, Azad said, “If any political party is willing to join hands, and the Congress feels that it can fight the BJP, then it will be definitely be accommodated.” On the Congress being left out of the SP-BSP alliance, the Congress general secretary said: “We wanted that Congress should have been a part of the grand alliance (against the BJP) in UP. But, if someone does not want to walk along, then noth- ing could be done.” On the post-poll alliance with the SP and BSP, Azad said that at the national level, the Congress welcomes all the secular regional parties. Replying to another ques- tion on SP-BSP alliance, Azad said, “The Congress workers are not at all disappointed on being left out of the alliance. On the contrary, they are say- ing that the party would have had to contest on 25 Lok Sabha seats, but now they would be contesting on all the 80 seats of the State.” On possibilities of an alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Azad said that he would not like to speak to the media on this issue. Announcing that very soon party president Rahul Gandhi will launch rallies at different places in the State on support of the party candidates, Azad, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said that some regional parties can too join them in the State thus predicting the inclusion of Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in their fold. Claiming that there is issue of leadership among the anti-BJP parties and the issue of the next Prime Minister will be decided after the elec- tions. On Saturday, BSP chief Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Singh Yadav announced their parties would contest 38 seats each and leave out two seats — Amethi and Rae Bareily — for the Congress. Mayawati said her party never gained from an alliance with the Congress and held it responsible for the plight of backward castes. “We do not gain from an alliance with the Congress, whereas the vote transfer is per- fect in an SP-BSP tie-up,” Mayawati had said. Drawing a parallel between the Congress and the BJP, she had said while the former had imposed Emergency in the country, the latter was respon- sible for the current state of “undeclared Emergency”. Azad on Sunday accused the BJP of dividing the coun- try for power and claimed that the saffron party had failed to fulfil any of its poll promises. “The coming Lok Sabha election is a battle to unite India and safeguard the democratic values,” he said. Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress leader said, “Modi is not con- cerned about the country, he is bothered about his own chair. One of the biggest scams has taken place during the tenure of this Government. The Government has not gone for a probe. Not going for a probe does not mean that the scam has not been committed.” Stating that the Congress had always put the country before everything else, he cited the examples of the party sac- rificing power in Jammu and Kashmir to strengthen Sheikh Abdullah and how it had sac- rificed power to put an end to terrorism in Mizoram. “The Congress has been fighting for the rights of the poor, farmers, backward castes and Dalits since even before Independence and after Independence, it is following the same ideology,” he said. On the possibilities of an alliance with the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Azad said he would not like to speak to the media about it. I n a clear indication that the BJP is now ready to accom- modate leaders in 75-year age category in important posi- tions, the party on Sunday appointed senior legislator Gulab Chand Kataria as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly. The 74- year-old Kataria was also select- ed as the leader of the BJP leg- islature party while seven-time MLA Rajendra Rathore was chosen as his deputy. Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who has now been completely marginalised in the BJP scheme of things, proposed the name of Kataria as the leader of BJP legislature party, which was seconded by the party MLAs unanimously. “There was only one pro- posal for the post,” the party’s national general secretary Arun Singh told reporters after the meeting. He said Rathore was chosen as the deputy leader by Kataria. Kataria’s elevation shows that the BJP has decided to downsize Raje, who is not on the best terms with the Central leaders. Though Raje herself proposed the name of Kataria, it’s well known that Kataria has been her nemesis in the Rajasthan politics for a long time. Kataria will also be the pro- tem speaker to conduct the first meeting of the newly elected Assembly. He is an eight-time MLA and was Home Minister in the former Vasundhara Raje Government. Kataria was first elected as MLA in 1977, then in 1980. He has won all Assembly elections since 1993, remaining a mem- ber of the House. Governor Kalyan Singh will administer him oath of office on Monday. Rathore has earlier served as the Parliamentary Affairs Minister in the State. Union HRD Minister and party’s poll incharge in the State Prakash Javadekar, national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi and party’s State president Madan Lal Saini were present in the meeting. T he Rajasthan police on Friday night arrested an Army jawan posted in Jaisalmer after he was alleged- ly honey-trapped by a Pakistan- based ISI operative whom he met on the Facebook. The jawan has been accused of passing crucial information to the Pakistani agent. The Pakistani agent under the assumed name of Anika Chopra claimed to be an Army Captain of the Military Nursing Corps and in her profile picture she is seen wearing a green saree with a pretty smile on her face. Fifty more jawans are under the scanner of intelli- gence agencies. The honey trapping incident comes even as the intelligence agencies had in the past flagged con- cerns over such tactics of the ISI. Sepoy Somveer Singh, posted with an armoured unit in Jaisalmer, was arrested after he was caught sharing sensitive information and pictures of his location and army exercises with the Pakistani agent. It was clear to both military intelligence and to Rajasthan Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) that Chopra was a Pakistani agent who had honey-trapped not just Singh many other fellow soldiers as well. Singh who is married claimed that he did not know of Chopra’s antecedents till she started blackmailing him. Singh had met Anika on Facebook in 2016 shortly after being commissioned into the Army. Singh, who hails from Rohtak, was flattered when a lady officer approached him with a friend request. The relationship between the two soon turned so inti- mate that Singh is said to have even made up his mind to divorce his wife and marry Anika. Oblivious from the sur- veillance on him, Singh was being tracked by the MI after regular phone calls on his number were being received from a Jammu number and continued for months, trigger- ing alarm bells in the covert agency. Subsequent tracking of Singh’s Facebook chats revealed that Anika was operating from Pakistan. S heila Dikshit, the three-time Chief Minister who ran the national Capital for 15 con- secutive years till getting a major drubbing in the 2013 Assembly election at the hands of Arvind Kejriwal, has come out of the political hibernation to head the Delhi unit of the Congress. Famous for not mincing her words, the veteran Congress leader believes her party will bounce back to power on its own strength, and is dead against stitching up any pre-poll alliance, ruling out any truck with the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. In an interview to The Pioneer’s Swarn Kumar Anand and Asad, Dikshit said Congress’ prospects are bright as people are growing weary of non-Congress Governments. Excerpts: For almost three years, you have been away from active politics. Now the Congress has entrusted you with an important task of steering the Delhi unit of the party. How do you feel? “I am related to Delhi in a very special way. I was educat- ed and brought up here. I have spent my entire political career here. So for me it is a come- back. Whatever I can do for my party and to Delhi, I will be very happy to do it. I didn’t seek it (the Delhi Congress chief post), I got it. And I didn’t reject it; in fact, I welcomed it.” Now, as head of the Delhi Congress, what future do you envision for the party in the Capital, say after one year, in 2020 Assembly polls? “You see, the future of the Congress is bright. In Delhi, one of the competitors is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). But it is a small party, and it has won just by making false promises to the people: free power, free water, etc. We have lost two elections to them. But I am certain that the Congress will make a comeback in Delhi, because even now people still remember 15 years of the Congress rule. As time goes by, they are remembering it more.” In the last two Assembly elections in Delhi, the BJP almost retained its vote per- centage, but the AAP ate into the Congress’ votes, and dent- ed its prospects. But recently, speculation about alliance with the AAP has been doing the rounds. And in fact, this is one of the covert reasons for Ajay Maken’s resignation from State unit chief post. What is your take on alliance? “I am not for any kind of alliance with the AAP at all. As a party we have lost one or two elections. But it doesn’t matter; as recently we won four elec- tions and I am sure we will make a comeback. It (Congress) is a tradi- tional old party of the country. We should not be discouraged by defeats by the AAP. We will pick up momentum on our own, without any alliance.” Despite opinion polls giv- ing the Congress a good chance in UP Assembly elections, you refused to accept CM candidature. Did you see the writing on wall that the party will not do well? “It was not about seeing the writing on the wall. I had taken a time out from active politics as I was the Governor of Kerala, and when I came back from there (to UP) I thought it was not the right time for me to enter active pol- itics. It was party’s decision to send me there. Yes, there was some assumption that the party will project me as CM candidate, but once they decided to go for alliance with the SP, I bowed down to that. We were doing good on our own, but the col- lective will of the party had to be honoured.” What makes you so con- fident that voters will again support the Congress? What is your plan? “We are going to come out with a policy, an all India policy. The immediate target is the Lok Sabha polls, not the city election. Right now, I am very enthused with the fact that peo- ple are showing confidence in the Congress. I have seen it in the last two days as there has been long queues here (her residence). This shows that people are again turning back to the Congress as they don’t have good experience with non- Congress Governments.” T he controversy surrounding the unceremonious removal of Alok Verma as CBI director by the Prime Minister- led panel refuses to die down. Justice AK Sikri, who backed Modi for removing Verma, on Sunday evening declined a plum post-retirement London posting even as the Congress sought “immediate removal” of the chief vigilance commis- sioner, alleging the Government had made him act like a “puppet” to “escape a probe” into the Rafale deal. After The Print portal reported that the Government has suggested to post Justice Sikri as member of London- based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT) after his retirement in March 6, 2019, social media was flooded with scandalous comments questioning the credibility of Justice Sikri for supporting Prime Minister for removing Verma as the CBI director within 24 hours of being reinstated by the Supreme Court. Retired Justice AK Patnaik’s revelations that the no corruption charges were found against Verma was also being flagged in the social media. Justice Sikri’s plum London tribunal posting was for five years and as per the rules of tri- bunal, the judges were allowed extension of another five years also. India is a member of this Tribunal and Sikri will be expected to be the president of this Tribunal by rotation of the posts among the member countries in the Commonwealth. In the evening, stung by the criticism, Justice Sikri, who enjoys a high reputation as an uncompressing judge, wrote to Law Ministry that he is declining this post retirement job in London. Meanwhile, attacking the CVC, the Congress demanded his immediate sacking. “We seek the removal, the depar- ture, the exit of the collabora- tor for violating the Constitution -- the CVC (chief vigilance commissioner). He must go. It is irrelevant whether he resigns or is sacked, but he must go,” Congress spokesper- son Abhishek Manu Singhvi said at AICC Press confer- ence. The Congress alleged that CVC KV Chowdary is being made to “act like a puppet” to avoid any probe into the Rafale case. “Till now, we have been told that only the CBI was the ‘caged parrot’ but we are now seeing a new ‘vigilant’ slave of the Government, a collabora- tor for violating the constitu- tion of the Central Vigilance Commission,” the Congress spokesperson alleged, taking a swipe at the Modi Government. “The CVC has been acting like an ambassador for Asthana (CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana), lobbying for Asthana, and acting as an agent and messenger for the Government, to do their hatch- et jobs,” Singhvi alleged. P rime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday attacked the previous Congress Government for its inability to bring Kartarpur Sahib under India during partition. Releasing a commemora- tive coin as part of the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of 10th Sikh guru Guru Gobind Singh, Modi also came down on the Congress for the 1984 riots that took place following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Referring to the Kartapur Sahib corridor, he said now devotees do not have to look at the shrine in Pakistan using binoculars and they could visit the place without visa using the corridor. A civil surgeon posted in Ujjain district hospital has been removed after a video purportedly showing him inti- mated with a nurse in an oper- ation theatre went viral on social media. District Collector Shashank Mishra told that the doctor has been removed from his post for the behaviour not expected from an officer. The undated clip purport- edly shows the civil surgeon (CS) kissing a woman in an operation theatre. "I have removed him from the post of civil surgeon of the district hospital," Ujjain district col- lector Shashank Mishra said, adding that he has also issued a notice seeking the senior doctor's explanation. The civil surgeon has been replaced with Dr PN Verma, he said. To a query, the Collector said he was waiting for reply of the civil surgeon who has been on leave for past two days. When contacted, District Chief Medical and Health Officer (DCMHO) Dr Mohan Malviya said Divisional Commissioner is expected to order an enquiry into the incident. Official sources said the woman seen in the video is a nurse with the district hospital while the operation theatre is believed to be the one in the same hospital. Dr Malviya refused to comment when asked if the clip was shot in the operation theatre. Local police said they have not received any complaint so far. RNI Regn. No. MPENG/2004/13703, Regd. No. L-2/BPLON/41/2006-2008

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Aday after it was left highand dry by the SamajwadiParty (SP) and the BahujanSamaj Party (BSP) forging analliance, the Congress onSunday announced it will con-test all the 80 Lok Sabha seatsin Uttar Pradesh on its ownstrength. However, theCongress has kept the doors ofa possible alliance open sayingthe Congress would accom-modate any secular force capa-ble of taking on the rulingBharatiya Janata Party in theLok Sabha election.

The Congress has not beenin power in Uttar Pradeshsince the Babri Masjid demo-lition in 1992. The State hasbeen governed alternately byMayawati and Akhilesh YadavsSamajwadi Party.

But the Congress plan tocontest the bulk of Lok Sabhaseats is expected to cut into thevotes of the alliance. It is alsoexpected to irk Mayawati andAkhilesh, who have lent sup-port to the CongressGovernments in MadhyaPradesh.

After a brainstorming ses-sion with senior party leaders,Congress general secretary andincharge of UP Ghulam NabiAzad, said, There was ademand from the party rankand file for contesting the elec-tions alone in UP, which hadbeen accepted by the leader-ship and now the party willcontest the elections with fullstrength.

Announcing that theCongress is ready to accom-

modate some secular politicalparties in their alliance in UP,it said that very soon the lead-ership will start selecting thecandidates and party presi-dent Rahul Gandhi will addresspublic rallies at different partsof the State.

Addressing a Press confer-ence here on Sunday GhulamNabi Azad said, The Congresswill contest on all the 80 LokSabha seats in Uttar Pradesh,and defeat the BJP. Azad alsoexpressed hope that the

Congress will double its tally ofseats, which it had secured inthe 2009 Lok Sabha elections.During the 2009 Lok Sabhaelections, the Congress hadbagged 21 seats.

To a question whether hisparty will not forge a coalitionwith any political party, Azadsaid, If any political party iswilling to join hands, and theCongress feels that it can fightthe BJP, then it will be definitelybe accommodated.

On the Congress being left

out of the SP-BSP alliance, theCongress general secretarysaid: We wanted that Congressshould have been a part of thegrand alliance (against the BJP)in UP. But, if someone does notwant to walk along, then noth-ing could be done. On thepost-poll alliance with the SPand BSP, Azad said that at thenational level, the Congresswelcomes all the secularregional parties.

Replying to another ques-tion on SP-BSP alliance, Azad

said, The Congress workersare not at all disappointed onbeing left out of the alliance.On the contrary, they are say-ing that the party would havehad to contest on 25 Lok Sabhaseats, but now they would becontesting on all the 80 seats ofthe State. On possibilities of analliance with the Rashtriya LokDal, Azad said that he wouldnot like to speak to the mediaon this issue.

Announcing that verysoon party president RahulGandhi will launch rallies atdifferent places in the State onsupport of the party candidates,Azad, who is the Leader of theOpposition in the Rajya Sabha,said that some regional partiescan too join them in the Statethus predicting the inclusion ofRashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) intheir fold. Claiming that thereis issue of leadership among theanti-BJP parties and the issueof the next Prime Ministerwill be decided after the elec-tions.

On Saturday, BSP chiefMayawati and SP presidentAkhilesh Singh Yadavannounced their parties wouldcontest 38 seats each and leaveout two seats Amethi andRae Bareily for the Congress.Mayawati said her party nevergained from an alliance withthe Congress and held itresponsible for the plight ofbackward castes.

We do not gain from analliance with the Congress,whereas the vote transfer is per-fect in an SP-BSP tie-up,Mayawati had said.

Drawing a parallel between

the Congress and the BJP, shehad said while the former hadimposed Emergency in thecountry, the latter was respon-sible for the current state ofundeclared Emergency.

Azad on Sunday accusedthe BJP of dividing the coun-try for power and claimed thatthe saffron party had failed tofulfil any of its poll promises.

The coming Lok Sabhaelection is a battle to unite Indiaand safeguard the democraticvalues, he said.

Attacking Prime MinisterNarendra Modi, the Congressleader said, Modi is not con-cerned about the country, he isbothered about his own chair.One of the biggest scams hastaken place during the tenureof this Government. TheGovernment has not gone fora probe. Not going for a probedoes not mean that the scamhas not been committed.

Stating that the Congresshad always put the countrybefore everything else, he citedthe examples of the party sac-rificing power in Jammu andKashmir to strengthen SheikhAbdullah and how it had sac-rificed power to put an end toterrorism in Mizoram.

The Congress has beenfighting for the rights of thepoor, farmers, backward castesand Dalits since even beforeIndependence and afterIndependence, it is followingthe same ideology, he said.

On the possibilities of analliance with the Ajit Singh-ledRashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Azadsaid he would not like to speakto the media about it.

)*

In a clear indication that theBJP is now ready to accom-modate leaders in 75-year agecategory in important posi-tions, the party on Sundayappointed senior legislatorGulab Chand Kataria as theLeader of Opposition in theRajasthan Assembly. The 74-year-old Kataria was also select-ed as the leader of the BJP leg-islature party while seven-timeMLA Rajendra Rathore waschosen as his deputy.

Former Chief MinisterVasundhara Raje, who has nowbeen completely marginalisedin the BJP scheme of things,proposed the name of Katariaas the leader of BJP legislatureparty, which was seconded bythe party MLAs unanimously.

There was only one pro-posal for the post, the partysnational general secretary ArunSingh told reporters after themeeting. He said Rathore waschosen as the deputy leader byKataria.

Katarias elevation showsthat the BJP has decided todownsize Raje, who is not onthe best terms with the Centralleaders. Though Raje herselfproposed the name of Kataria,its well known that Kataria hasbeen her nemesis in theRajasthan politics for a longtime.

Kataria will also be the pro-tem speaker to conduct the firstmeeting of the newly electedAssembly. He is an eight-timeMLA and was Home Minister

in the former Vasundhara RajeGovernment.

Kataria was first elected asMLA in 1977, then in 1980. Hehas won all Assembly electionssince 1993, remaining a mem-ber of the House. GovernorKalyan Singh will administerhim oath of office on Monday.

Rathore has earlier servedas the Parliamentary AffairsMinister in the State.

Union HRD Minister andpartys poll incharge in theState Prakash Javadekar,national spokespersonSudhanshu Trivedi and partysState president Madan Lal Sainiwere present in the meeting.

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The Rajasthan police onFriday night arrested anArmy jawan posted inJaisalmer after he was alleged-ly honey-trapped by a Pakistan-based ISI operative whom hemet on the Facebook.

The jawan has beenaccused of passing crucialinformation to the Pakistaniagent.

The Pakistani agent underthe assumed name of AnikaChopra claimed to be an ArmyCaptain of the Military NursingCorps and in her profile pictureshe is seen wearing a greensaree with a pretty smile on herface. Fifty more jawans areunder the scanner of intelli-gence agencies. The honeytrapping incident comes evenas the intelligence agencieshad in the past flagged con-cerns over such tactics of theISI. Sepoy Somveer Singh,posted with an armoured unitin Jaisalmer, was arrested afterhe was caught sharing sensitiveinformation and pictures of hislocation and army exerciseswith the Pakistani agent.

It was clear to both militaryintelligence and to Rajasthan

Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS)that Chopra was a Pakistani agent who hadhoney-trapped not just Singhmany other fellow soldiers aswell. Singh who is marriedclaimed that he did not knowof Chopras antecedents till shestarted blackmailing him.

Singh had met Anika onFacebook in 2016 shortly afterbeing commissioned into theArmy.

Singh, who hails fromRohtak, was flattered when alady officer approached himwith a friend request.

The relationship betweenthe two soon turned so inti-mate that Singh is said to haveeven made up his mind todivorce his wife and marryAnika.

Oblivious from the sur-veillance on him, Singh wasbeing tracked by the MI afterregular phone calls on hisnumber were being receivedfrom a Jammu number andcontinued for months, trigger-ing alarm bells in the covertagency.

Subsequent tracking ofSinghs Facebook chats revealedthat Anika was operating fromPakistan.

Sheila Dikshit, the three-timeChief Minister who ran thenational Capital for 15 con-secutive years till getting amajor drubbing in the 2013Assembly election at the handsof Arvind Kejriwal, has comeout of the political hibernationto head the Delhi unit of theCongress.

Famous for not mincingher words, the veteranCongress leader believes herparty will bounce back topower on its own strength, andis dead against stitching up anypre-poll alliance, ruling outany truck with the Kejriwal-ledAam Aadmi Party (AAP) inDelhi for the forthcoming LokSabha elections. In an interviewto The Pioneers Swarn KumarAnand and Asad, Dikshit saidCongress prospects are brightas people are growing weary ofnon-Congress Governments.

Excerpts: For almost three years,

you have been away fromactive politics. Now theCongress has entrusted youwith an important task ofsteering the Delhi unit of theparty. How do you feel?

I am related to Delhi in avery special way. I was educat-ed and brought up here. I havespent my entire political careerhere. So for me it is a come-back. Whatever I can do for myparty and to Delhi, I will bevery happy to do it. I didnt seekit (the Delhi Congress chiefpost), I got it. And I didnt rejectit; in fact, I welcomed it.

Now, as head of the DelhiCongress, what future do youenvision for the party in theCapital, say after one year, in2020 Assembly polls?

You see, the future of theCongress is bright. In Delhi,

one of the competitors is theAam Aadmi Party (AAP). Butit is a small party, and it haswon just by making false

promises to the people: freepower, free water, etc. We havelost two elections to them. ButI am certain that the Congress

will make a comeback in Delhi,because even now people stillremember 15 years of theCongress rule. As time goes by,they are remembering it more.

In the last two Assemblyelections in Delhi, the BJPalmost retained its vote per-centage, but the AAP ate intothe Congress votes, and dent-ed its prospects. But recently,speculation about alliancewith the AAP has been doingthe rounds. And in fact, thisis one of the covert reasons forAjay Makens resignationfrom State unit chief post.What is your take on alliance?

I am not for any kind ofalliance with the AAP at all. Asa party we have lost one or twoelections. But it doesnt matter;as recently we won four elec-tions and I am sure we willmake a comeback.

It (Congress) is a tradi-

tional old party of the country.We should not be discouragedby defeats by the AAP. We willpick up momentum on ourown, without any alliance.

Despite opinion polls giv-ing the Congress a good chance in UP Assemblyelections, you refused toaccept CM candidature. Didyou see the writing on wall that the party will not dowell?

It was not about seeing thewriting on the wall. I hadtaken a time out from activepolitics as I was the Governorof Kerala, and when I cameback from there (to UP) Ithought it was not the righttime for me to enter active pol-itics. It was partys decision tosend me there.

Yes, there was someassumption that the party willproject me as CM candidate,

but once they decided to go foralliance with the SP, I boweddown to that. We were doinggood on our own, but the col-lective will of the party had tobe honoured.

What makes you so con-fident that voters will againsupport the Congress? Whatis your plan?

We are going to comeout with a policy, an all Indiapolicy. The immediate target isthe Lok Sabha polls, not the cityelection. Right now, I am veryenthused with the fact that peo-ple are showing confidence inthe Congress.

I have seen it in the last twodays as there has been longqueues here (her residence).This shows that people areagain turning back to theCongress as they dont havegood experience with non-Congress Governments.

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The controversy surroundingthe unceremoniousremoval of Alok Verma as CBIdirector by the Prime Minister-led panel refuses to die down.Justice AK Sikri, who backedModi for removing Verma, onSunday evening declined aplum post-retirement Londonposting even as the Congresssought immediate removal ofthe chief vigilance commis-sioner, alleging theGovernment had made him actlike a puppet to escape aprobe into the Rafale deal.

After The Print portalreported that the Governmenthas suggested to post JusticeSikri as member of London-based CommonwealthSecretariat Arbitral Tribunal(CSAT) after his retirement inMarch 6, 2019, social mediawas flooded with scandalous

comments questioning thecredibility of Justice Sikri forsupporting Prime Minister forremoving Verma as the CBIdirector within 24 hours ofbeing reinstated by theSupreme Court.

Retired Justice AKPatnaiks revelations that the nocorruption charges were foundagainst Verma was also beingflagged in the social media.

Justice Sikris plum Londontribunal posting was for fiveyears and as per the rules of tri-bunal, the judges were allowedextension of another five yearsalso.

India is a member of thisTribunal and Sikri will beexpected to be the president ofthis Tribunal by rotation of theposts among the membercountries in theCommonwealth.

In the evening, stung by thecriticism, Justice Sikri, whoenjoys a high reputation as anuncompressing judge, wroteto Law Ministry that he isdeclining this post retirementjob in London.

Meanwhile, attacking theCVC, the Congress demandedhis immediate sacking. We

seek the removal, the depar-ture, the exit of the collabora-tor for violating theConstitution -- the CVC (chiefvigilance commissioner). Hemust go. It is irrelevant whetherhe resigns or is sacked, but hemust go, Congress spokesper-son Abhishek Manu Singhvisaid at AICC Press confer-ence.

The Congress alleged thatCVC KV Chowdary is beingmade to act like a puppet toavoid any probe into the Rafalecase.

Till now, we have beentold that only the CBI was thecaged parrot but we are nowseeing a new vigilant slave ofthe Government, a collabora-tor for violating the constitu-tion of the Central VigilanceCommission, the Congressspokesperson alleged, taking aswipe at the ModiGovernment.

The CVC has been actinglike an ambassador for Asthana(CBI Special Director RakeshAsthana), lobbying forAsthana, and acting as an agentand messenger for theGovernment, to do their hatch-et jobs, Singhvi alleged.

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Prime Minister NarendraModi on Sunday attackedthe previous CongressGovernment for its inability tobring Kartarpur Sahib underIndia during partition.

Releasing a commemora-tive coin as part of the 350thbirth anniversary celebrationsof 10th Sikh guru Guru Gobind

Singh, Modi also came downon the Congress for the 1984riots that took place following the assassination ofthe then Prime Minister IndiraGandhi. Referring to theKartapur Sahib corridor, hesaid now devotees do not haveto look at the shrine in Pakistanusing binoculars and theycould visit the place withoutvisa using the corridor.

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Acivil surgeon posted inUjjain district hospital hasbeen removed after a videopurportedly showing him inti-mated with a nurse in an oper-ation theatre went viral onsocial media. District CollectorShashank Mishra told that thedoctor has been removed fromhis post for the behaviour notexpected from an officer.

The undated clip purport-edly shows the civil surgeon(CS) kissing a woman in anoperation theatre. "I haveremoved him from the post ofcivil surgeon of the districthospital," Ujjain district col-lector Shashank Mishra said,adding that he has also issueda notice seeking the seniordoctor's explanation.

The civil surgeon has beenreplaced with Dr PN Verma, hesaid. To a query, the Collectorsaid he was waiting for reply ofthe civil surgeon who has beenon leave for past two days.When contacted, District ChiefMedical and Health Officer(DCMHO) Dr Mohan Malviyasaid Divisional Commissioneris expected to order an enquiryinto the incident.

Official sources said thewoman seen in the video is anurse with the district hospitalwhile the operation theatre isbelieved to be the one in thesame hospital. Dr Malviyarefused to comment whenasked if the clip was shot in theoperation theatre. Local policesaid they have not received anycomplaint so far.

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Important documents andfurniture were gutted in shortcircuit borne fire which brokeat Bhopal MunicipalCorporation (BMC) Zoneoffice in Mangalwara late in theevening on Sunday.

The fire which erupted inthe evening soon turned mas-sive. The documents in theroom of zone chairman weredamaged in the fire whichbroke at around 8 pm. The fireerupted at office of Zone num-ber 4 which is situated atMangalwara.

Soon after the fire brokefire brigade was informed andon the receipt of the informa-tion fire tender vehicles werepressed into service.

Fire fighters told that thefire broke out due to short cir-cuit in the room of Zone officelocated at the second floor ofthe building which was con-trolled and pacified before itcould spread to other nearbybuildings.

The fire tenders took morethan two hours to pacify thefire. The loss and other detailswould be provided BMC offi-cials.

The fire was later dousedby around one dozen fire fight-ing vehicles were pressed intoservice on recipient of infor-

mation.The fire caused damage to

the furniture only and no offi-cial papers or any other docu-ment related to wards weredamaged in the fire claimedBMC employee.

Ward officer Amit Tiwariit was short circuit borne firebut no other damage was doneexcept for the furniture in theoffice of zone chairman SanjeevGupta. The area which usual-ly remains crowded in week-days was deserted due toSunday and made the rescuework easy.

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A35-year-old man wasrobbed of 25,000 in cashby two bike-borne miscreantsby attacking him with sharpedged weapon nearGovindpura electricity officelate in the evening on Saturday.

According to police, thevictim Dinesh Sahu of AshokaGarden was on his way tohome after work at around 7 inthe evening.

The victim works as asalesman of private telecomcompany and after collectionof payment for SIM cards andrecharge vouchers, when he

reached near MPSEBGovindpura, he was attackedby two miscreants who tried torob him and when he resisted,they attacked him with sharpedged weapon injuring him inhis hand.

The victim managed toescape and approached theMP Nagar police and lodgedcomplaint. He stated that hesells SIM cards and rechargevouchers at mobile shops inBhopal and nearby areas and isassigned to collect money forthe same later. On Saturday ataround 7 pm when he was onhis way to home after collec-tion in Anna Nagarh, he was

waylaid by two masked mis-creants riding a black colourPulsar bike without registra-tion number and after stoppingtheir vehicle in-front of hisbike, they started beating himand one of them snatched bagcarrying 25,000 cash, SIMcards and recharge vouchersfrom him and when heopposed, one of the miscreantattacked him injuring victim inhis hand.

Based on complaint, policehave registered a case undersection 392 of the IPC. TheCCTV footages of camerasinstalled near the spot wouldbe investigated.

>> -#

In order to maintain the phys-ical fitness along with men-tal fitness Bhopal branch ofICAI organised premier leaguecricket tournament (tennisball) for its member at Ankurground Bhopal on Saturdayand Sunday.

The tournament is Bat,Ball and Masti. In the tennisball cricket tournament, morethan 120 CharteredAccountants participated.Aruneshwar Singh Deo,Chairman, Sports PromoterGroup inaugurated the eventon Saturday and concludedhere on Sunday. MLA AlokSanjar was present on theoccasion. He appreciated

chartered accountants on theirmultiple abilities to performwith computers and bat too.

Tournament had somespecial features including 1female player and one seniorplayer above 40 was manda-tory to partiipate in everyteam.

There is a new concept ofmagic over in which runsscored by bat shall be doubledwhile in case of any wicketwhen shall be subtracted by 5runs. If player scores 40 runs,then he shall be declaredretired.

There were as many asEight Teams who participatedin the tournament. DISA-11won the championship bydefeating ICDS-11. Man of the

Tournament title went to CAKrishnendra Kochar, CAGovind Rinwa was awarded asBest bowler of the tourna-ment, CA Rishi Loya wasawarded as best Batsman of

the tournament, CA AbhishekJain was awarded as bestFielder of the tournamentwhile CA Jayshree Dewani asbest female player of the tour-nament.

This is the first time everthat a closed tournament inBhopal has been held in whichsuch a large number of CAparticipated. MLA AlokSanjar felicitated the winners.

>> -#

The Bhopalites witnessedPunjabi tadka underUttaradhikar series. The tradi-tional music and dance per-formance of Punjabi culturewas beautifully presented onSunday at Madhya PradeshState Tribal Museum.

The evening was adornedwith Punjabi Folk Dance andMusic. To begin with theevening, the Punjabi folkdance took over the floor.Notably, Mohammad Irshadand Punjabi Folk Art CentrePatiala gave a splendid per-formance before theBhopalites.

The presentation startedwith Sameer Mahi singing'Hallah hoo' with his fellowartists. After this, Nishat Bano,with fellow artists, performedMere Aala Jat. After this,Nishat Bano presented 'SuhareChere Walia' and 'Surma' infront of the audience.

Artists presented songssuch as 'Mundri' and 'Jugni'.Nishat Bano at the end of his

presentation, singing a num-ber of songs centered on thefestival of Lohri and DullaBhatt, wrapped up his pre-sentation.

Lohri is a famous festivalof north India. It is celebratedone day before MakarSankranti. Lohri is also linkedto a story of Dulla Bhatti.

In the midst of singingperformances, the artists alsopresented an enchanting danceperformance with the dancesperformed on the festivals,festivals and rituals of Punjab.In which the Bhangra andGidda remain prominent.

In this presentation, NishatBano along with 15 artistspresented the performance.During singing and folk danceperformances, Pragati Singh,Jagtar Singh, Pamma, Sandeep,Gagandeep, Harpreet Kaurand Ishaan danced the dancewith their dance skills.

Sameer Mahi accompa-nied Nishat Bano in thesinging, Fakirya on the drum,Bobby on tabla, Vinay on thekeyboard and Harman accom-panied on the octopad.

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Claiming that matters offaith donot come under thepurview of courts, the VishwaHindu Parishad (VHP) onSunday reiterated that theCentre should enact a law forconstruction of Ram temple inAyodhya.

While talking to mediapersons here on Sunday, VHPinternational president VishnuSadashiv Kokje also said asolution to the Ayodhya disputethrough court procedures wasnot in sight at the moment,given the prevailing scenario.

Kokje further said the mat-ters related to religious faithdonot come under the juris-

diction of courts which are runby laws. That is why, we wantthat the Central Governmentshould get a law enacted for theconstruction of a grand Ramtemple soon.

We have a hunch that inthe coming days, the Ayodhyadispute will linger on in theSupreme Court as in the past,"Kokje, a former judge of theHigh Court of MadhyaPradesh and Rajasthan, added.

He further said that nocourt can decide whether LordRam was born in Ayodhya ornot. That is why, from thebeginning, we have beendemanding a law to constructthe Ram temple, otherwisethe issue will linger on till eter-

nity.Kokje added that the VHP

would hold talks with spiritu-

al leaders to chalk out a strat-egy on the Ram temple issueat the "Dharam Sansad" to be

held at the Prayagraj Kumbhbetween January 31 andFebruary 1.

The VHP internationalchief also alleged that theCongress's "vote-bank poli-tics" was responsible for cre-ating hassles in the construc-tion of the Ram temple.

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A13-year-old girl wasmolested by a 22-year-oldyouth while victim was playingnear her home at Berasia in theafternoon on Saturday.

According to the police, thevictim was cycling near herhouse when the accusedJitendra Rajput obstructed herway and took her to a seclud-ed place where he tried tomolest her. The victim raisedalert after which locals and herfather rushed to her rescue. Theaccused was nabbed and hand-ed over to the police. Thepolice have started investiga-tion and registered case ofmolestation.

Meanwhile, a 15-year-oldgirl was molested by 34-year-old man at Qazi Camp underHanumanganj police stationarea on Saturday; accused wasfriend of victims father andused to harass her for long, saidpolice.

Police said that the minorvictim lives at Qazi Camp withher parents was molested andharassed by Nafees Khan of thesame area and frustrated overthe constant teasing by the

accused, the victim lodged acomplaint with theHanumanganj police.

The victim lives at homealong with her step-motherand father. The accused used tovisit the home frequently andwould tease and molest herwhich the victim faced forpast few months and recentlyshe reported the act to the hermother after which they lodgeda complaint with the police.

In her complaint the victimstated that on Saturday whenshe was at home accusedarrived and started to molesther. Based on the complaintpolice have registered a case ofmolestation against the accusedand started to search for theaccused. Police suspect that theaccused has crime record andhas been booked for molesta-tion which would be investi-gated.

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Valuables worth 50,000were burgled fromTreasure Apartment underJehangirabad police stationarea on Friday.

According to the police,the victim Rehan Khan alongwith his wife had gone to hisrelatives place on January 10and when they returned onSaturday they found that thevaluables were missing.

A complaint was made bythe vict im with theJehangirabad police and inthe complaint the victim hadclaimed that on his return hefound that the locks werebroken and on entering thehouse was found ransacked.The victim claimed that Rs42000 cash and goods werefound burgled. In the bur-glar y loss was around50,000.

In the burglary the almi-rah which was having thevaluables was targeted and theother valuables were not dis-turbed. The lock of the almi-rah was found broken and thecash which was kept werefound burgled.

The police have regis-tered a case under sections

457 and 380 of the IPC andhave started further investi-gation.

Meanwhile, two womenwho created ruckus andraised allegations against doc-tor and staff of Sanjeevani andDay Care hospital underShahjehanabad police stationare still at large; the twocould be spotted tearing theirclothes in the CCTV footage.

Shahjehanabad policehave started investigation onthe complaint of the hospitalstaff. In the CCTV footages itcould be spotted that thewomen have torn their clotheson their own while theythreatened Dr Arvind Joshiand other staff of raising com-plaint of rape against them.

Police said that one of theaccused Neelofar was operat-ed for kidney stone and latershe was reported with infec-tion and referred to Chirayuand on the next day she cameback to demand refund andwhen the hospital refused theycreated ruckus and threat-ened to lodge complaint.

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Bhopal: Minister for PublicRelations PC Sharma said thatthe personality of Savitri BaiPhule is always inspirational forwomen community. He wasaddressing the Savitri Bai PhuleJyanti Samaroh held at HindiBhavan, Bhopal.

Sharma further mentionedthat works being carried out byJyotiba Phule in the field ofsocial reforms and for eradi-cation of untouchability are stilluseful for the society. Sharmaalso described the ideals ofJyotiba Phule as relevant forsocial development.

On this occasion, Sharmahonoured women for theirremarkable works in the fieldof politics, education, socialworks, sports and arts etc.Eminent citizens and people inlarge number were present onthe occasion.

>> -#

Minister for PublicRelations PC Sharmaunveiled bust of the Iron Manof India Sardar Vallabh BhaiPatel at Jawahar Chowk,Bhopal today. He alsolaunched a website of thePatidar community on theoccasion.

Sharma said that contri-bution of Sardar Vallabh Bhai

Patel in building United Indiais incomparable.

He also played an impor-tant role in the freedommovement of the country andthis can never be forgotten.

He stated that effortsmade by the Iron Man ofIndia to make the unity of thecountry everlasting will alwaysbe remembered.

On this occasion, PRMinister Sharma honoured

Prakash Patidar, who hasmade the Statue of Unity andMahi Patidar, whose namehas been registered in theGuinness Book of WorldRecord for tattoo making.President of Gujarati SamajSanjay Patel, Former MandiPresident Bhagidar Patidar,Corporators and eminentmembers of the communitywere present in the pro-gramme.

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The Congress party in factwill achieve the target ofwinning all 11 Lok Sabha seatsin Chhattisagrh set by BJP,commented Chief MinisterBhupesh Baghel while citingclaims of former ChiefMinister and BJP's NationalVice President Raman Singhtargetting to winning all the 11Lok Sabha seats in state in theupcoming polls.

Baghel while speaking ata Convention of SwarnkarSamaj here on Sunday saidthat BJP's National PresidentAmit Shah had earlier set atarget of 65 plus seats for theparty for recently held assem-bly polls but the target wasachieved by the Congressparty instead of them, he said.

And now when they(BJP) are setting the target ofwinning 11 Lok Sabha seats,the Congress will achieve thetarget rather than BJP, hesaid.

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The Bharatiya Janata Partysimmediate goal is to win all11 Lok Sabha seats inChhattisgarh in the upcoming

polls, former Chief MinisterRaman Singh said on Sunday.

On his arrival at the SwamiVivekananda Airport here afterbeing appointed BJPs NationalVice President, the former

Chief Minister said the respon-sibility of Leader of Oppositionwas given to the State BJPPresident so soon the selectionof partys new State Presidentis expected.

At present I am MLAand as MLA, I will be fulfillingmy responsibility handed overby party organization, he said.

Notably, BJP is likely tohold the State- level Core

Committee meeting onJanuary 16 in Raipur. Newlyappointed National VicePresident of the party RamanSingh is likely to preside overthe meeting.

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Followed bycomplaintfrom formerHome Ministerand senior BJPl e g i s l a t o r ,N a n k i r a mKanwar, theS t a t eG ove r n me nthad orderedprobe againstsenior IPS offi-cer MukeshGupta.

Director General (Jails),Girdhari Nayak would be head-ing the probe Committee.

The Committee will sub-mit its report within twomonths.

Notably, Kanwar duringrecently concluded assembly

session was called on by ChiefMinister Bhupesh Baghelwhere he (Kanwar) handedover a seven-page detailedcomplaint to Chief Ministeragainst the police official anddemanded impartial probe intothe matter.

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With changein politicalscenario afterBahujan SamajParty-SamajwadiParty alliance inUttar Pradesh,Janata CongressC h h a t t i s g a r h(JCC) Jogi (J)Supremo Ajit Jogiwould be in NewDelhi for two daysstarting Mondaywhere he will also meet BSP Supremo Mayawati.

Jogi, who is actually going for regularmedical check-ups at Medanta Hospital inNoida, will also meet Mayawati on Tuesdaywhich would also be the occasion of birthdayof BSP Supremo and a decision regarding con-tinuing the current alliance in Lok Sabha polls

too could be taken in the meeting, JCC (J)sources said.

Although JCC (J) was benefitted with thealliance with BSP in recently held assembly pollsin the state, Mayawati was reportedly not sat-isfied with the performance of her own partycandidates in the polls.

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Only 73 judges out of the670 judges serving in var-ious High Courts are women,the Government has informeda Parliamentary Committee. AtPresent 26 Judges comprisingSupreme Court is having onlythree women judges. TheGovernment also pointed outthat against the sanctionedstrength of 1,079 judges as onMarch 23, 2018, only 670judges are working in 24 HighCourts of the country, leaving409 vacancies.

There are 73 womenjudges working in differentHigh Courts as on March 23,2018, which in percentageterms is 10.89 per cent of theworking strength, the depart-ment of Justice in the LawMinistry informed the depart-ment-related StandingCommittee on Law andPersonnel.

Responding to the con-cerns of the Parliamentarypanel on inadequate represen-tation of women and peoplefrom marginalised communi-ties, the ministry said theCentre had been requestingchief justices of High Courtsthat while sending proposalsfor appointment of judges,

due consideration be given tosuitable candidates belongingto scheduled castes, scheduledtribes and other backwardclasses, minorities and women.

This is being done toensure a fair representation ofdifferent sections of the societyin the higher judiciary, theGovernment said. It, however,made it clear that there was noproposal to amend Articles124 and 217 of the Constitutionto allow reservation in thehigher judiciary.

The committee feels thata timeline of six weeks given toChief Minister/Governor maybe reduced to expedite theprocess of appointment ofjudges. It also feels since there

is no proposal to raise theretirement age of judges inhigher judiciary by theGovernment, unnecessarydelay in recruitment of judgesshould be avoided at any cost,it said.

As of now, Governors andChief Ministers are given sixweeks to recommend propos-al received from the chief jus-tice of the High Court toappoint a candidate as a judge.

There were 24 High Courtswhen the committee had pre-pared its report.

From January 1, the num-ber of high courts have gone upto 25 with Andhra Pradesh andTelangana getting separateHigh Courts.

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The Government will con-struct 44 strategic roadsalong the border with Chinaand over 2,100 km of axial andlateral roads in Punjab andRajasthan, abutting Pakistan, aCPWD document shows.

According to an annualreport (2018-19) released ear-lier this month by the CentralPublic Works Department, theagency has been asked to con-struct 44 strategically impor-tant roads along the India-China border to ensure quickmobilisation of troops in caseof a conflict.

The nearly 4,000-km-longLine of Actual Control (LAC)between India and Chinatouches areas from Jammu &Kashmir to Arunachal PradeshThe report comes at a timeChina is giving a priority toprojects along its India borders.

Last year, Indian andChinese troops engaged in aface-off at the Doklam tri-junction after the neighbouringcountry had begun building aroad in the area. The standoffended on August 28 followinga mutual agreement underwhich China stopped con-struction of the road and India

withdrew troops. The reportstated that these 44 strategicallyroads along the India-Chinaborder will be constructed at acost of nearly 21,000 crore.

The CPWD has beenentrusted with construction of44 strategically important roadsalong the Indo-China Borderspanning 5 states of J&K,Himachal Pradesh,Uttarakhand, Sikkim andArunachal Pradesh, the reportstated.

The total Cost of work asper DPRs (Detailed ProjectReports) is 21,040 crores(approx.), the report stated Itsaid the process of approval ofDPRs by the CabinetCommittee on Security (CCS),headed by Prime MinisterNarendra Modi, is underway.

The CPWD report alsostated that lateral and axialroads measuring over 2,100kilometers will be built with acost of around 5,400 crore inRajasthan and Punjab along theIndo-Pakistan border. TheDPRs for this project are underpreparation in CPWD, whichis a major construction agencyof the Central Government.

A total of 945 km of later-al roads and 533 km of axialroads lie in Rajasthan (tentative

cost 3,700 crores) and 482 kmof lateral roads and 219 km ofaxial roads in Punjab (tentativecost 1,750 crores), it stated.

The road projects will

secure the vast and remote bor-der areas of Rajasthan andPunjab, it stated. Indias borderwith Pakistan runs throughfour States Jammu and

Kashmir (1,225 km, whichincludes 740 km of Line ofControl), Rajasthan (1,037km), Punjab (553 km) andGujarat (508 km).

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Terror is rising in India asthe country slipped to 7thrank in 2018 from 8th rank inthe previous year, according tothe 2018 Global TerrorismIndex of the prestigiousInstitute for Economics &Peace.

Iraq figures at the top in thelist followed by Afghanistan,Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan andSomalia which stands at thesixth position, all in the veryhigh category in terms ofimpact. Yemen, Egypt andPhillippines are the three othernations in the worlds top ter-ror hit countries of the worldwhich are in the high impactcategory.

Total deaths in India due toterrorism since 2001 have been8,123 and the CommunistParty of India (Maoist) remainsthe most potent terror groupresponsible for most number ofdeaths followed by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba andJaish-e-Mohammad. WhileUnited Nations has bannedthe JeM, the global bodysefforts to ban the Pakistani out-fits chief Maulana MasoodAzhar have been repeatedlyblocked by China.

Chinas move is morecurious in view of the fact thatits operatives are increasinglytargeting Chinese assets in theChina-Pakistan EconomicCorridor. The JeM leadershipfeels China is aiding Pakistanin anti-Islamic activities bypressurizing it to take actionagainst jehadis in CPEC. Jehadis considered holy and Islamicby the terror group, counter-terrorism expert Dr RiturajMate told The Pioneer.

Police and military per-sonnel figure at the top in termsof attacks by target category fol-lowed by private citizens andproperty, Government and

business. This implies that the terror

groups have devised strategiesto hit the uniformed personneleven as the police and militaryare yet to devise effectivecounter strategies to deal withthe terrorists.

The deadliest group inIndia is the countrys CPI(Maoist). Maoists were respon-sible for 205 deaths and 190 ter-

ror incidentsin India, or 53 percent of the deaths in 2017. TheMaoistsdirectly opposePrime Minister NarendraModis administration and thenationalist Bharatiya JanataParty (BJP). Maoist assailantsfrequently stage attacks againstthe Central Reserve PoliceForce (CRPF) and other armedforces throughout the countrysnorthern and central territo-ries, says the report.

The north Indian state ofJammu and and Kashmir hadthe most deaths in 2017, with102 deaths committed by fivedifferent terror groups, mostnotably LeT, JeM and HizbulMujahideen.

The CPI (Maoist) also fig-ures at the 8th position in theIndex of top 10 perpetratorsorganisations that staged 1416major attacks between 1970 to2011 killing 1889 people.

Other groups in the cate-gory include Irish RepublicanArmy, Revolutionary ArmedForces of Columbia, Talibanand Liberation Tigers of TamilEeelam (LTTE) among others.

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The Centres ambitious planto set up 750-bed AIIMS-like institute at HimachalPradeshs Bilaspur district hashit a roadblock with a Centralpanel of the UnionEnvironment Ministry ques-tioning the need for diverting40 acres of forest land for itsconstruction, of which atl easteight acres of forest patch hasbeen allocated for dumpingsites.

While the StateGovernment has sought 40acres of forest land, it hasalready provided 59.724 acresof non-forest land for the pro-ject to be spread over 100acres of area.

The project worth 1,351crore will have a medical col-lege with an intake capacity of100 seats and a nursing collegewith 60 seats, 20 specialty andsuper specialty departmentsincluding 15 operation theatres

to be completed in 48 months.Prime Minister Narendra Modihad laid its foundation stone inOctober 2017 at Bilaspur, thenative town of Union HealthMinister JP Nadda.

However, the Forest

Advisory Committee (FAC) ofthe Ministry in its meeting onDecember 19, 2018 deferredthe proposal asking theHimachal PradeshGovernment to justify need fordiverting such a huge patch of

green land. It also expressed itsreservations over the projectproponents plan to use eightacres of forest area for twodumping sites (4.5 hactres and3.5 hactres areas respectively).Sources in the Union

Environment Ministry saidthat the proposed area hasaround 8430 trees, of whichmajority are likely to be felled.

The proposal will now bediscussed by the FAC in ameeting on January 15, 2019.Interestingly, the StateGovernment has proposedcompensatory afforestation inthe forest land itself in lieu ofthe forest land it is seeking forthe construction of the project.

However, officials from theState Government have justi-fied their move, claiming thatthere is no non-forest govern-ment land available in the dis-trict Bilaspur as all governmentland or land over which gov-ernment has proprietary rights,has been classified as forestland. As such, no non-forestland is available for raisingcompensatory afforestation inlieu of the forest land proposedfor the construction of theproject, an official argued.Consequently, compensatory

afforestation has been pro-posed over the forest land, hesaid.

Regarding use of forestland for dumping site, the offi-cial said that as majority of thenon-forest land is existing onthe hill side i.e. above theNational Highway which iscrossing the proposed site inthe middle, it is not possible todevelop dumping sites on theupper side of the non-forestland.

Moreover, the slope of thenon-forest site is not suitablefor a dumping site, the officialpointed out.

The AIIMS-like institutesare being developed by theCentre across the States underPradhan Mantri SwasthyaSuraksha Yojna (PMSSY) withan aim to correct regionalimbalances in the availability ofaffordable healthcare servicesand also to augment facilitiesfor quality medical educationin the country.

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AParliamentary panel hasslammed the Union AyushMinistry for adopting lack-adaisical approach in takingconcrete action against default-ers in order to ensure effectiveregulation of the alternate tra-ditional medicines ofAyurveda, Siddha, Unani andHomeopathy (ASU&H). It haspitched in for a new stringentlaw to strictly deal withunscrupulous herbal drugmanufacturers for misleadingand duping innocent patientsand playing with their lives.

The panel headed by RajyaSabha MP Ram Gopal Yadavwas of the view that merelyissuing show cause notices,departmental action etc wasnot sufficient to check themenace of spurious drugs ofASU&H.

In its report submitted toParliament, the panel said,Despite repeated recommen-dations of the Committee tohave stringent measures totackle the problem of failedsamples, the Ministry (Ayush)seems not to have done any-thing in this regard. TheCommittee takes serious noteof the lackadaisical approach ofthe Ministry in not takingconcrete action against default-ers in order to ensure effectiveregulation of ASU&H drugs.

The Committee wouldlike to emphasize that sucherring manufacturers need tobe brought to book and dealtwith strictly for misleadingand duping innocent patientsand playing with their lives.

The Committee, accord-ingly, recommends to theMinistry to lay down stringentregulations which can act as adeterrent for erring manufac-turers.

The panel emphasised thatthe Ministry must focus onincreasing the credibility of

AYUSH systems by promotingscientific research and uphold-ing strict quality control ofAYUSH drugs. The panel alsocalled for increased funds toatleast 5 per cent of the totalHealth Budget of the HealthMinistry to help boost thepotential of the Ayush sector.

The Ministry last year in awritten reply in Lok Sabhahad stated that increasing num-ber of misleading advertise-ments of AYUSH products arebeing reported in recent years.

About 809 complaints ofadvertisements pertaining toAYUSH and herbal medi-cines/products have beenreceived during the periodfrom April, 2015 to March,2018. Advertising StandardsCouncil of India (ASCI), withwhom Ministry has signed aMoU for suo moto monitoringof AYUSH advertisementsappearing in the media, report-ed 732 complaints fromJanuary 20th, 2017 to January19, 2018.

The Ayush Ministry inDecember last year had issuednotification prohibiting themanufacturers and agents ofASU &H drugs to not floatadvertisements related to anydrug that are used for diagno-sis, cure, mitigation, treatmentor prevention of any diseases ordisorders without validatingfrom the competent authorities.

As per the notification,the manufacturers of thesedrugs have to apply for theUnique Identification Numberfor the publication of adver-tisements. They will not beallowed to publish advertise-ments within the period ofthree months from the date ofapplication of this notifica-tion.

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The former Marine CorpsGeneral, James Norman Mattis,had acquired mythic and cult-like folklore while still in theuniform. The image had gotcaricaturised into monikers like MadDog and Warrior Monk, with many trueand even fabricated bravado attributed tothe chronic bachelor. The Marine Corps-inspired Oorah battle-rattle personalityhad led to popular memes like was oncebitten by a Black Mamba the BlackMamba died instantly, fear of spiders iscalled arachnophobia, fear of tight spacesis called claustrophobia fear of Mattisis called logic and Saint Mattis ofQuantico, patron saint of chaos. Impressedwith the legendary warriors popular per-sona, Donald Trump had described himan a true generals general and inductedhim as his Secretary of Defence. Theappointment was in line with the alpha-muscularity of Trumps America First andJames Mattis became the second man afterGeorge Marshal to get a waiver thatrequires a seven-year cooling off periodbefore assuming Secretary of Defence.

Behind the image lurked the wisdomof 44 years of combat service in the GulfWars and Afghanistan, which culminatedin the four-star General with responsibil-ities like the command of Marine CorpsCombat Development Command, USJoint Forces Command and US CentralCommand overseeing operations in Iraq,Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Iran.Besides his operational heroics, he wasknown to be a voracious reader and stu-dent of military history with a personallibrary of over 7,000 books. The accom-panying experience, maturity and gravitashad in recent times led to the more bal-anced perception as the only grown-up leftin the fast depleting administration ofDonald Trump.

He was often seen assuaging, nuanc-ing and balancing the more intemperateand outrageous statements made by the USPresident. The straight-speaking former-combatant remained insulated from thewhimsicalities that typified Trump, andunlike the President, Mattis stood up forhis fellow-combatant Senator John McCainin describing his passing away in a mov-ing way: We have lost a man who stead-fastly represented the best ideals of ourcountry. As a Naval Officer and defiantprisoner of war, John McCain stood withhis brothers-in-arms until they returnedhome together.

The mass exodus of top officials fromthe Trump Administration has so farincluded Secretary of State, Director CIA,Director FBI, Secretary of Interior,Secretary Homeland Security, two WhiteHouse Chiefs of Staff, two NationalSecurity Advisors, three Deputy NationalSecurity Advisors, Homeland SecurityAdvisor, White House Chief Strategist,

Senior Counselor to thePresident, three Attorney-Generals and countless othersto record the highest turnoverratio of over 60 per cent amongthe White House positions.The latest to join the bandwag-on is Mattis, owing to a veryfamiliar reason of irreconcil-ability with the outlandishapproach of Trump.

In a tellingly drafted resig-nation letter, James Mattis hasalluded to the sharp differ-ences and suggested to thePresident to appoint someone,whose views are better alignedwith yours. A clear note of dis-sent, frustration and resigna-tion rides on the back ofPresident Trumps suddenannouncement to withdrawUS troops from Syria some-thing that the professionalsensibilities of James Mattiswould have militated against.

Despite the ostensiblebravado, Mattis is also believedto have disagreed with thePresident on the hasty decisionto withdraw from the Iraniannuclear deal. The prevailingsituation harks back to thefamous anonymous op-ed inthe Washington Post, attributedto a senior official, who speakson behalf of those who work inthe Trump administration bynoting, The root of the prob-lem is the Presidents amoral-ity. Anyone who works withhim knows he is not mooredto any discernible first princi-ples that guide his decision-

making. This rings eerily truein the curious case of therevolving-door in the WhiteHouse, this time by JamesMattis. The piece had capturedthe impetuosity and pettinessthat had to be managed in theWhite House, as the staff wasworking to insulate their oper-ations from his whims.Obviously, the situation andequation would have reacheda point of no-return, as JamesMattis slammed DonaldTrumps boorish rants andfickleness in treating allies andenemies alike by stating: Myviews on treating allies withrespect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actorsand strategic competitors arestrongly held and informed byover four decades of immer-sion in these issues.

James Mattis resignationhas re-triggered the whispersof the uncontrollable and reck-less decisions emanating fromthe White House. Trump isperennially on the short fusewith the media which asksprobing questions, and nowwith the exit of the only per-son who could raise contrari-an views from within the sys-tem, the most important officein the world is dangerouslybereft of specialist alternativesand sagely views.

The clash between the twowas in the offing with BobWoodwards bestselling book,Fear, depicting an irate JamesMattis freezing Trumps wild

plan to assassinate SyrianPresident Bashar al-Assad andapparently telling some peoplethat the President had a poli-cy understanding of a 10-11year-old. A few months ago theUS President had rued aboutMattis saying, I think hes sortof a Democrat, if you want toknow the truth. However, it isnow becoming increasinglydifficult for even Trumps ownRepublican Party to defend hisdecisions and the usually ret-icent Senate majority leaderinsisted that the Presidentmust now select a leader whoshares Secretary Mattis under-standing of these vital princi-ples and his total commit-ment to Americas servicemembers.

James Mattis will exit withthe grace, sobriety and digni-ty that come naturally to war-riors, as the daughter of fellow-combatant and fellow-Republican, John McCain, hadsaid for her father (whilst con-textualising Trump): We gath-er here to mourn the passingof American greatness. Thereal thing, not cheap rhetoricfrom men who will nevercome near the sacrifice hegave so willingly. Nor theopportunistic appropriationof those who live lives of com-fort and privilege while he suf-fered and served.

(The writer, a military vet-eran, is a former Lt Governorof Andaman & Nicobar Islandsand Puducherry)

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Theres no need to practisebleeding, as the soldiers say,but the British Governmentdidnt get the message. On January7, it paid 89 truck-drivers 550 each($700) to simulate the immense traf-fic jam that will happen in Kent ifBritain crashes out of the EuropeanUnion (EU) without a deal at the endof March.

The drivers had to bring theirvehicles to Manston, a disussedWorld War Two-vintage airfield inKent, where the Government isplanning to park 4,000 big trucks ifa no-deal Brexit on March 29 leadsto new customs checks on trucksheading for Europe. Every extra twominutes delay at customs, say theexperts, would mean another 15 km

of trucks backed up on the roadsleading to the cross-Channel termi-nals. So the drivers parked theirtrucks on the airfield, then drovedown to the port in convoy while thetraffic-control experts counted thevehicles. This wasnt the 10,000-truck gridlock jamming the roadsthat might happen in late March, itwas a single file of 89 trucks drivingsedately along an uncrowded road.It looked like an exercise in futility,a Potemkin traffic-jam.

Yet it did have a rational purpose a political purpose. It was beingstaged to persuade the British pub-lic, and especially the BritishParliament that Prime MinisterTheresa Mays ConservativeGovernment really will take the UKout of the EU without any deal ifParliament does not accept her deal.Mays deal is almost universally dis-liked. The Remainers hate it becausethey dont want to leave the EU at all,and the Brexit hardliners in her ownparty hate it because it keeps Britaintoo closely tied to the EU. Nevermind the details they are almost

theological but the upshot is thatMay cannot get Parliament to passthe exit deal she made with the EU,which would at least keep the tradeflowing. She just doesnt have thevotes. And she cant get the EU toamend the deal either.

The opposition to her deal inParliament is so strong that she can-celled a scheduled vote on it amonth ago because she was boundto lose it. She is now committed toholding the vote on January 15 butshe still doesnt have the votes. So she

is threatening to jump off a bridge,and take everybody else with her, ifthey dont back her deal. It hasbecome a game of chicken. The cha-rade in Kent is part of a governmentshow-and-tell campaign to prove thatshe really means it. So are the pre-dictions that the chaos at theChannel ports will be so bad thatBritain will have to charter planes tobring scarce medicines in, and thatsupermarket shelves will be bare(Britain imports 30 per cent of itsfood from the EU), and that zombies

will rule the streets. (I made that oneup, but you get the picture.)

The problem is that nobodybelieves her. May has manipulatedthe parliamentary rules and sched-ules to make it appear that there areno legal alternatives except her dealor a catastrophic no-deal Brexit, butshe just doesnt convince as a suicidebomber. Indeed, there was a vote inParliament last week that blocked theGovernments ability to make taxchanges connected with a no-dealBrexit without Parliaments explic-it consent. That doesnt actuallymean that it cannot happen, unfor-tunately. Parliament can block herdeal but unless it can agree on someother course of action, Brexit hap-pens automatically without adeal. And that really would be nasty.

How nasty? William Hague, aformer leader of the ConservativeParty, summed it up well in the DailyTelegraph: I dont know what willfollow a rejection of [Mays] deal...aconstitutional shambles, a second ref-erendum shambles, a no-deal exitshambles, a Corbyn [Labour

Government] shambles. I just knowthat it will be an abysmal shambles.

People who say that the deal isthe worst of all worlds havent under-stood how bad things might get,Hague concluded. As May herselfadmits, a no-deal Brexit is unchart-ed territory.

So what will really happen whenParliament starts voting later thismonth? There will almost certainlybe more than one vote, as the 650members of the House of Commons,no longer constrained by party loy-alty its too important for that swing this way and that. But theremay not be a majority for any spe-cific course of action, in which caseParliament will probably end up vot-ing for a second referendum. Mayhas sworn that she will never allowthat, because it would be a betrayalof the 52 per cent who voted Leavein the first referendum in June2016. But in the end she probablywill allow it, because she is not a sui-cide bomber.

(The writer is an independentjournalist)

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With no let-up in the grow-ing friction between theruling saffron alliance partnersahead of the Lok Sabha polls,Shiv Sena president UddhavThackeray on Sunday hit out atBJP president Amit Shah, say-ing that no party should con-sider the Sena as weak andthat no one is either born yetor will ever take birth who candefeat my party.

Addressing a conference ofthe Senas Sthaniya LokadhikarSamiti (SLS) Mahasangh here,Uddhav also ridiculed theCentre's decision to keep theannual income limit of Rs 8lakh for reservations for eco-nomically weaker sectionsunder the general category andwondered if the Modi govern-ment would simultaneouslyraise the basic income taxexemption limit to the samelevel.

In a rhetorical rebuff toShahs recent statement that ifthe Sena preferred to go it alonein the Lok Sabha polls, it faceddefeat at the hands of the BJP,Uddhav said: Some people aretalking about defeating theShiv Sena. I should tell them:

no one is either born yet or willever take birth who can defeatthe Shiv Sena. No one shouldconsider us weak. So manywaves have come and gone. Weare never scared of high or lowtides. We defeat the waves. It isthe Shiv Sena wave that is onnow.

Uddhav was referring toShahs dig at the Shiv Sena andsubsequent exhortation to hisparty workers -- made at Laturrecently -- to prepare them-selves to go it alone in the LokSabha polls. Yuti hogi tohsaathi ko jeetayenge, nahin tohpatak denge ( If we contestthe elections together, we willensure victory for their candi-dates, otherwise we willtrounce them), the BJP presi-

dent had said.Alluding to the new Rs 8

lakh as the annual incomelimit for reservations for eco-nomically weaker sectionsunder the general category,Uddhav said: On one handyou consider all those whoseannual income is below Rs 8lakh as economically back-ward class. On the other hand,you keep Rs 2.5 lakh as thebasic income tax exemptionlimit. I would like to know ifthe Modi government will doaway income tax for all thoseearning less than Rs 8 lakh ayear. If Modi does this, we willnot hesitate in accepting thatModi has a chest of not just 56inches but he has chest of 256inches.

Slamming the Modi gov-ernment for its failure to keepits promises made during the2014 polls, Uddhav said: Somepeople fail to deliver on theirpromises. But, they never fallshort when it comes to havinga dig at others. Mere promiseswont help matters. It is not thequestion of victory or defeatbut what is importance is con-fidence. Once you lose confi-dence, you will not win anywar. He went onto lampoon

the BJP leaders for raising theissues like the caste of LordHanuman or other Gods.

However, justifying theSenas decision to Ram Mandiran issue in the polls, Uddhavsingled out Prime MinisterNarendra Modi for attack onthe Mandir issue. Heres themost powerful man in thisworld and who is considered byhis party workers as the rein-carnation of Maha Vishnu.But, he says he cannot build thetemple at this juncture. If thatis the case, why is the BJP mak-ing Ram Mandir an issue in thepolls. Modi should realise thatthe Sena and BJP had cometogether on the Hindutvaplank. As far as Shiv Sena isconcerned, we want RamMandir.

Daring Bihar chief minis-ter Nitish Kumar and LokJanshati Party to come clean onthe Ram Mandir issue, Uddhavasked the BJP leadership tobring all its constituents on oneplatform and seek clarificationfrom them if all them wantedRam temple or not.

You people are comingtogether on a common mini-mum programme. DepositingRs 15 lakh in the bank accounts

of people was a jumla. AchheDin was a jumla. Is RamMandir promise also a jumla.The BJP should clarify. Mereaccusing the Congress of cre-ating hurdles on the RamMandir temple issue wonthelp. The Ram Mandir issuewas before the court even ear-lier. Then why was the BJPseeking votes in the name ofRam Mandir?, Uddhav asked.

Uddhavs remarks are areiteration of the Senas standthat his party would go it alonein the Lok Sabha polls.

While interacting withparty workers at Latur inMarathwada region, Shah hadsaid last week that even with-out an alliance with the ShivSena, the BJP would win atleast 40 out of 48 seats in thestate.

It may be recalled that inthe 2014 Lok Sabha polls whichthe two saffron parties had con-tested as an alliance, the BJPand Shiv Sena had contested 26and 22 seats respectively in thestate.

The two parties had put upa spectacular performance inthe polls by together winning40 seats (BJP-22 and Sena-18seats) out of total 48 seats.

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The Trinamool Congress onSunday hit back at PrimeMinister Narendra Modi for hisremarks that people have tochose between a 'majboor'(helpless) or a 'majboot'(strong) Government in thegeneral elections, and said the2019 Lok Sabha polls would bea fight between dictatorshipand democracy.

Criticising Modi for hisassertion at the BJP nationalconvention in New Delhi onSaturday, senior TMC leaderAbhishek Banerjee wonderedwhether the saffron party-ledNDA government from 1999-2004 or various coalition gov-ernments that it was a part ofwere "majboot" or "majboor".

"I want to ask themwhether the BJP-led NDA gov-ernment of Atal BihariVajpayee from 1999-2004 was

a strong government or a help-less one? I would like to askthem whether the governmentsthey had formed in Kashmirwith the PDP or in the northeastern states, were strong orhelpless," Banerjee said.

The national president ofAll India Trinamool YouthCongress and the nephew ofWest Bengal Chief MinisterMamata Banerjee, was speak-ing at a rally here.

"The upcoming Lok Sabhaelections will be fight betweenan authoritarian rule, and fightto save democracy and consti-tution of this country," he said.

At the BJP national con-vention, the prime minister hadsaid that the opposition partieswere coming together as theywanted to form a "majboor"government to promote nepo-tism and corruption, whereasthe saffron party wanted a"majboot" dispensation for anall-round development of thecountry. Several allies havedeserted the BJP-led NDA inthe last four-and-a-half-years,the TMC MP said.

"The BJP should stop lec-turing us and others on dynastypolitics when several top lead-ers of their party have sons anddaughters as MPs and MLAs...The TMC doesn't believe indynasty politics. Those who areefficient get elected," he added.

00)

AGovernment medical offi-cer and his aide werenabbed by the ACB Sunday inMaharashtra's Parbhani dis-trict for allegedly accepting Rs8,000 in bribe for conducting asurgery on an elderly woman,an official said.

Dr Gajanan Kale, theMedical Officer with theParbhani district hospital, hadallegedly demanded the moneyto insert a rod in one of the leg'sof the woman who had metwith an accident, the Anti-Corruption Bureau official said.

Consequently, the son ofthe woman approached thelocal ACB unit in Parbhani,around 500 kms from here, fol-lowing which a trap was set.The official said Dr Kale, whois an MS in Orthopaedics,

asked the complainant to handover the money to his aidePandurnag Dukre (27), a pri-vate person when the ACBteam nabbed them this morn-ing. Further investigation isunderway.

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Defence Minister NirmalaSitharaman Sundayreached Portblair on a two-dayvisit to Andaman and NicobarIslands where she will witnessa joint military drill involvingthe Army, the Air Force, theNavy and the Coast Guard,officials said.

Sitharaman will witnessthree exercises -- general sur-vival exercise, amphibious drilland a joint drill, an official said.

Andaman and Nicobar isalso the armed forces' tri-ser-vice command.

At least two drills will seeparticipation of the threearmed forces, the officialadded. "Smt @nsitharamanarrives in Port Blair to overseea major joint excercise involv-ing the @adgpi , @indiannavy

, @IAF_MCC [email protected] during her2 day visit," the defence minis-ter's official handle tweeted.

Andaman and Nicobararchipelago is straddled strate-gically near the mouth of theMalacca Straits.

The Malacca Straits isalso an important Sea Lane ofCommunication and used bythe navies of several coun-tries, including China whichhas been stepping up its mili-tary infrastructure in theIndian Ocean Region.

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Karnataka Water ResourceMinister DK ShivakumarSunday said the BJP'sOperation Lotus to topple theStates coalition Governmentwas for real, alleging that threeCongress MLAs were campingin a hotel in Mumbai in thecompany of some BJP leaders.

Horse trading is going onin the State. Three of our MLAsare in Mumbai in a hotel withsome BJP MLAs and leaders.We are aware of what has tran-spired there and how much hasbeen offered to them, he said.

Operation Lotus is a refer-ence to the BJP allegedly luringseveral opposition MLAs todefect to ensure stability of itsthen-government headed by BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka in2008.

Shivakumar, who hadearned the reputation of beinga trouble-shooter in theCongress for bailing out the

party from many crises in thepast, accused Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy of being"lenient" towards the BJP.

"Our chief minister is bitlenient towards the BJP. By'lenient', I mean he is notexposing the facts he knows.All the MLAs have conveyed tothe chief minister about theongoing conspiracies. They

have also told Siddaramaiahabout it. "The chief minister isadopting a policy of wait andwatch. If I was in his place, Iwould have exposed it within24 hours," Shivakumar said.

The minister said formerchief minister Siddaramaiahand Congress state presidentDinesh Gundu Rao were awareof the development.

Shivakumar, however,exuded confidence that theBJP would not succeed in itsattempt. "You have been sayingthat a 'kranti' (revolution) mayhappen after Makar Sankranti.Let us see. It is not so easy

because there is already anti-defection law in place, but weare aware of what you are hint-ing at," he said in an apparentreference to the oppositionBJP in the state. The waterresources minister also won-dered why the income taxdepartment and the anti-cor-ruption bureau failed to initi-ate any action on a complaintby Dinesh Gundu Rao on thematter.

"We do not know whatprogress these two agencieshave made so far, but sitting onthe complaint by a politicalparty is not good," he said.Many Congress MLAs in thesouthern state have allegedthat they were approached bythe BJP leaders to quit theirparty and join them. The saf-fron party has trashed thecharges, saying the coalitionpartners were hiding theirshortcomings and internalstrife by making false accusa-tions at the opposition.

'

RJD national president LaluPrasad launched a veiledattack on the BJP on Sunday byissuing a "humble appeal" to thepeople of the country to be onguard against hate politics,rumour mongering and falsepropaganda to divide the youthahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The ailing former Biharchief minister, who is servingsentences in fodder scam casesand is currently lodged in aRanchi hospital, shared hisviews on the political situationprevailing in the country on hisofficial Twitter handle.

"It is a humble appeal to thepeople of the country thatelections are round the cornerand those practising hate pol-itics will provoke the youth andyour children to sacrifice theirlives by raising false alarms, giv-ing rise to misconceptions and

spreading rumours," Prasadwrote on the microbloggingwebsite.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) supremo has been awayfrom active politics sinceDecember 2017, when he wasconvicted in the Deoghar trea-sury case, which was followed

by convictions in two morefodder scam cases.

He has, however, beensharing his views on his Twitterhandle. "While your childrenwould be slaying each otherand wasting their lives in thename of cow and cow dung, thekids of the hypocritical jumle-

baaz would be busy studying inesteemed schools and collegesand securing their ownfutures," Prasad said.

"Therefore, all parents andguardians are requested to beon guard themselves, besidesguarding their children againstrumour mongering sanghs(organisations) and their falsepropaganda. A beginning hasbeen made by them in UP andBihar," the RJD supremoadded.

Prasad's remarks came inthe backdrop of mob violenceand cow vigilantism reportedin many parts of the Hindiheartland, often spurred byfake social media messagescirculated by people withalleged links to Sangh Parivaroutfits.

A staunch opponent of theruling Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) and the Sangh Parivar,Prasad had endeared himself to

the minorities when as thechief minister of Bihar, he hadordered the arrest of BJP vet-eran LK Advani during his"rath yatra" in 1990.

He had also succeeded inweaning away the minoritiesfrom the Congress during the15 years when the state wasruled by him and subsequent-ly by his wife Rabri Devi, aperiod which saw virtually nomajor communal incidents,despite an overall soaring crimegraph.

Now an ally of theCongress, the RJD is miffed atthe quota for the economical-ly backward sections broughtby the Narendra Modi gov-ernment at the Centre.

The party has held that itis a step in the direction ofdiluting affirmative action forthe socially and educationallybackward segments of the society.

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Bengal intelligentsia and thenon-BJP Opposition partiesof the State have stronglydenounced the heckling ofBangla poet SrijataBandopadhyay at a Silcharhotel by a group rowdiesallegedly sent by the saffronpoliticians.

Coming down heavily onthe BJP and Banjrangdal forcreating an atmosphere of com-munal hatred and disharmonyin India Bengal MinisterChandrima Bhattacharya said,such incidents are not onlyunfortunate but also con-demnable. We do not allowsuch things in Bengal.

Accusing the BJP andBajrangdal for Saturdays inci-dent the Minister said the BJPhas paid the price of such divi-sive politics in Rajasthan, MPand Chhattisgarh. Now theywill see the consequence of dis-turbing communal harmony inother parts of the country too.

CPI(M) general secretarySitaram Yechury too con-demned the incident sayingthe incident aned many oth-ers like that taking place in therecent past prove that theIndia is passing through daysworse than that ofEmergency, adding such fas-cist attacks were in fact a pre-lude to attack on the veryessence of the Constitution ofIndia.

Congress MP PradipBhattacharya said, if suchpre-orchestrated attacks onBengali intellectuals are notstopped then one is afraid

this feeling of hatred mighttravel to other States and thenit will be very difficult forthem (BJP) to control it.

Srijato was on Saturdaygheraoed and allegedly heck-led at a literary function atSilchar and had to be rescuedby the police.

Some people raided thevenue in the hotel where I wasstaying and was to attend a lit-erary programme. They wereprotesting against one of mypoems written three years ago.I was holed up in the hotelwhich was vandalised any-way. Subsequently I was res-

cued by the police and had tofly back, the poet said addinghow gradually the right tofreedom of expression andthe space to talk is shrinkingin India. Thankfully we live inBengal where the people canatleast talk.

Senior dramataistRudraprasad Sengupta saidif similar situations continuedthen one cannot but say thatbad days are ahead of us.Writer Shirshendu Mukherjeesaid such incidents demandedcountry-wide protests.

Meanwhile, anotherBengali poetess MandakrantaSen on Sunday reported howshe was being badmouthedby some senior State BJP lead-ers including State BJP presi-dent Dilip Ghosh.

The poetess she even hadreceived threats of gang-rapefrom some people on the Net.The State BJP president how-ever denied reports of speak-ing against her and invited herto file a case against him.

Hyderabad: Vice President MVenkaiah Naidu on the eve ofMakar Sankranti urged theyouth to understand the richand diverse traditions of Indianfestivals and called for pro-tecting, promoting and enrich-ing our exceptional cultureand folk art forms. Speakingafter inaugurating the fourthInternational Kite Festival andsecond International SweetFestival at Parade Ground inSecunderabad Sunday, Naidusaid festivals are occasions forsocial bonding and inculcate aspirit of communal harmonyand national integrity. "Theysymbolise renewal, rejuvena-tion, and revival of our tradi-tions and heritage and bring ina sense of togetherness, unity,love, and brotherhood intoday's fast-paced world,"Naidu was quoted as saying inan official release.

"We witness the comingtogether of families and com-munities during such festivals.They are also occasions forsocial bonding," he said.Calling the harvest festivalMakar Sankranti a celebrationof life and vitality, Naidu saidit holds great historical and reli-gious significance.

It is the festival of the sungod who is often regarded asthe symbol divinity and wis-dom and those who celebratethis occasion of thanksgivingand merrymaking revel inanticipation and joy, he said.

The vice president alsotried his hand at kite-flying andsaid it was a tremendous expe-rience which transcends age,class, and community.

Observing that kite-mak-ing was an art form, the vicepresident said it required skill,precision, devotion, and inven-tiveness.

As many as 42 profession-al kite fliers from abroad and 60from India are participating inthe Kite Festival. PTI

'

Union Minister Ram VilasPaswans estranged daugh-ter Asha on Sunday staged a sit-in here along with RJD womenactivists to protest her fathersangootha chhap jibe alleged-ly targeted at party leader RabriDevi.

Paswan had at a Press con-ference on Friday attacked theOpposition Rashtriya JanataDal (RJD) for opposing theNDA-led Governments Bill toprovide 10 per cent reservationfor the economically backwardin general category.

They (RJD) believe inmerely raising slogans andmaking angootha chhap (illit-erate person) the ChiefMinister, he had said, withoutnaming anybody.

Asha, who is Paswansdaughter from his first mar-riage, had on Saturdaydemanded an apology fromhim. His remarks were seen asa reference to the events of 1997when RJD chief Lalu Prasadhad to step down as Bihar ChiefMinister as he faced arrest inthe fodder scam cases and hiswife, Rabri Devi, who has lit-tle formal education, wasappointed as his successor.

Married to Arun Sadhu,who is the state president of theRJDs SC/ST cell, Asharefrained from storming theheadquarters of Paswan's LokJanshakti Party (LJP) here,which she had threatened to doon Saturday. Instead, she stagedthe sit-in at Gardanibagh, bare-ly a kilometer away from theLJP headquarters. She wasjoined by women RJD activists,who carried placards and raisedslogans demanding that theUnion minister "apologise" and"take his words back"Talking toreporters at a different location,Sadhu reiterated that his wifewould like to contest the

upcoming Lok Sabha pollsfrom Hajipur seat, which isconsidered Paswan's pocketborough, "if the RJD gives hera ticket". Paswan has declaredthat he will not be contestingfrom the seat in the upcominggeneral elections and wouldtake the Rajya Sabha route toenter Parliament.

Speculations are rife thatone of Paswan's close familymembers may be given theticket in his place.

"Ram Vilas Paswan hastalked a lot about 'neeti' (poli-cy) and 'neeyat' (intention)and has failed on both counts.Having learnt the ropes underthe tutelage of socialists likeLohia, JP and Karpoori Thakur,he ended up sitting in the lapof the BJP-RSS combine,"Sadhu said. "My fight withhim is, however, not personal,but political," he said. "I treathim with the same respectwhich I have for my father. If Imeet him on any social occa-sion, I will greet him by touch-ing his feet," he added.

The RJD leader allegedthat Paswan and his son,Chirag Paswan, sought votes inthe name of Dalits but turnedtheir backs on the depressedclasses when it came to fight-ing for their rights.

Chirag, who is an MP fromJamui and heads the LJP's par-liamentary board, is Paswan'sson from his second marriage.

Asked if Asha would stillcontest from Hajipur if theNDA fields Chirag from theseat, Sadhu replied in the affir-mative. "Relationship does notmatter in political battlefield,"he said. When reportersapproached Chirag at the air-port here, he said, "This is nota political matter but a disputeconcerning my family and Ihave never been comfortabletalking about personal mattersin public."

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The Travancore DevaswomBoard, which manages thetemple shrine at Sabarimala inKerala, said it was all set for theannual Makaravilakku festivalon Monday.

TDB president APadmakumar Sunday metmedia after the evaluationmeeting of the Board and saidall arrangements for the festi-val have been completed atSabarimala.

Thiruvabharanam (sacredjewels of the deity) will reach

pathinettampadi (holy 18steps) at 6 pm on January 14.At 6.30 pm, the deeparad-hana (worship with lamps)will take place with the Lordadorning the jewels. All facili-ties for the devotees to witnessthe 'Makaravilakku' and'Makarajyothi' are in place," hesaid.

'Makarajyothi' is a starwhich is worshipped by pil-grims on Makara Sankranti onJanuary 14 every year.

It is the star Sirius locatedin Canis Major constellation.

It is believed that LordAyyappa asserts himself as theMakarajyothi to bless his devo-tees. The flame appears on thePonnambalamedu hill which isaround 8 km from the shrine.

The lighting of the lamp bythe Kerala government with thesupport of the TravancoreDevosom Board and forestdepartment, at

Ponnamabalamedu, is the con-tinuation of the practice fol-lowed by tribal families wholived near the hilltop.

Padmakumar also said thestate health department andpolice at Sabarimala and near-by areas were ready to deal withany untoward incident.

"The temple will close onJanuary 20. Only the membersof the royal family of Pandalamare allowed on that day. The lastday for other devotees isJanuary 19," he said.

However, compared to lastyear, Sabarimala has witnessed

a lean crowd for the annual fes-tival this time. Devoteesare apprehensive over chancesof violent protests in case anymore women of menstrual ageattempt to trek the hill duringthe festival.

Owing to the earlier vio-lence witnessed at the hilltopshrine over the issue of entry ofwomen, the police havestrengthened security atSabarimala, Pampa and its basecamp at Nilackal.

Meanwhile, the three-member monitoring commit-tee appointed by the KeralaHigh Court, comprising formerHigh Court Justices P RRaman, S Sirijagan andAdditional Director General ofPolice A Hemachandran,inspected Nilackal, Pampa andSannidhanam.

They expressed satisfac-tion over the facilities arrangedfor the devotees.

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After the potential part-ners of a RainbowAlliance to be led by his partycold shouldered his proposalto project Congress presidentRahul Gandhi as the primeministerial candidate for the2019 Lok Sabha election,MK Stalin, the DMK chief ison a mission to mobilise vil-lagers in Tamil Nadu to ensurethey vote for his party.

The DMK president is busywith Ooratchi Sabai ( a kind ofGram Sabha) where he visitsvillages and interacts with vil-lagers, especially women.

Stalin has been enthused bythe response he received dur-ing the Namukku Naame (WeFor Ourselves) campaign heheld prior to the 2016Assembly election by touringall the 234 assembly con-stituencies in which he met thevoters and discussed with themtheir grievances.

Though the DMK couldnot cross the magic figure of118 to form the government,the party finished the contestwith 88 seats, a commendableperformance despite the factthat the partys then presidentM Karunanidhi did not cam-paign because of advanced age.

This time, Stalin is the starcampaigner for the DMK asthere are no charismatic lead-ers in the party.

He may be depending onhis son Udhayanidhi Stalinwho is waiting in the wings totake the plunge into activepolitics. But how farUdhayanidhis popularity as afilm star would help the DMKto win the election is notknown.

Stalins focus during theinteraction with the villagers isthe all- round failure of theAIADMK government and theanti-Tamil Nadu and anti-sec-ular Narendra Modi govern-ment at the Centre.

Stalin said he would pre-pare the election manifesto ofthe DMK for the Lok Sabhaelection by incorporating theissue highlighted by the vil-lagers. The Gram Sabha meet-ings are drawing good crowd,especially women who pourout their grievances to theDMK chief.

Chief Minister EdappadiPalaniswamy was quick topoint out the fallacy behindStalins claim that he wouldaddress all issues concerningthe villagers.

Stalin was the minister forlocal administration and ruraldevelopment during 2006 to2011. Had he taken the troubleof visiting the villages thosedays, we would not have facedthis much issues, Palaniswamytold a public meeting onSaturday.

The chief minister saidthere were many villages in theState which do not have anysanitation or drinking watersupply schemes.

These issues could haveaddressed by Stalin had hebeen serious in his words,said Palaniswamy. He also lam-basted the DMK chief for hislocus standi to address the vil-lagers.

He is a product of dynastyand family politics.Karunanidhi was the partypresident for 50 years and he

was succeeded by son Stalin.Karunandhi has also promot-ed his other children M KLagiri and Kanimozhi besidesgrand nephew DayanidhiMaran. Now Stalin is groomingUdhayanidhi to be his succes-sor. AIADMK is the onlydemocratic party in TamilNadu and you have seen anordinary villager being swornin as chief minister, saidPalaniswamy.

Political commentators inTamil Nadu are not impressedby Stalins mass contact pro-gramme.

He is lucky that there areno powerful second rung lead-ers in the DMK to challengehim. These kind of pro-grammes are not new in TamilNadu, said G Satyamurty, vet-eran columnist. He said situ-ations may undergo big changein the State as the election fevercatches up in days to come. Itis not going to be a cake walkfor the DMK or the AIADMKas Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhiare not there this time, saidSatyamurty.

The line-up for 2019 LokSabha election is far from overas there is discontentmentamong some of the partieswhich have declared their alle-giance to the DMK. TheAIADMK knows well that theycannot repeat the dream run ithad in 2014 election.

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Top Al-Badr commanderZeenat-ul-Islam was amongthe two militants killed in anencounter with security forces inKulgam district of Jammu andKashmir, police said on Sunday.

The two terrorists killedin the Katpora encounter havebeen identified as Zeenat-ul-Islam and Shakeel AhmadDar. Both were involved inseveral terror crimes, a policeofficial said.

Islam, a category A++ mil-itant, was a top commanderwho had switched over to Al-Badr from Hizbul Mujahideenin November last year follow-ing consensus between the twooutfits to strengthen the Al-Badr, he said.

The official said securityforces launched a cordon andsearch operation in Katporaarea of Yaripora in southKashmir's Kulgam districtSaturday evening after receiv-ing specific information aboutthe presence of militants there.

He said as the forces wereconducting the searches, themilitants fired upon them.

As per policy, the militantswere given an opportunity tosurrender, but they continuedto fire upon the forces, the offi-cial said.

The forces retaliated, ensu-ing an encounter in which twothe militants were killed, hesaid. Meanwhile, a policespokesman said both the killedmilitants were affiliated withAl-Badr and were wanted bythe law for "their complicity ina series of terror crimes includ-ing attack on security estab-lishments and civilian atroci-ties". "Islam, according to policerecords had a long history ofterror crime records since 2006when he got affiliated with Al-Badr and was later arrested," hesaid.

The spokesman said afterIslam was released, he again gotrecycled in 2016 and subse-quently affiliated with HM andthen recently joined the Al-Badr outfit in Shopian District.

"Consequently, he becamethe chief of the said outfit.Several terror crime cases wereregistered against him. He wasalso involved in a weaponsnatching case at TukrooShopian. Similarly, ShakeelAhmad Dar was also involvedin terror related crimes aswell," the spokesman said.

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Filmmaker Rajkumar Hiranihas been accused of sexualassault by a woman whoworked with him on his 2017film Sanju.

Hirani has categoricallydenied the allegations. Hislawyer Anand Desai termed theallegations false, mischievous,scandalous, motivated anddefamatory.

In an article on HuffPostIndia, the woman, who callsherself as an assistant, allegedthat Hirani sexually abusedher more than once betweenMarch and September 2018.

She gave details of her alle-gations in an email datedNovember 3, 2018, to Hiranislongtime collaborator andSanju co-producer VidhuVinod Chopra.

The woman said that on

April 9, 2018, the director firstpassed a sexually suggestiveremark to her and later sexu-ally assaulted her in his homeoffice.

I remember forming thesewords on my lips Sir, this iswrong. Because of this powerstructure. You being theabsolute power and me beinga mere assistant, a nobody. Iwill never be able to expressmyself to you, she wrote of theApril 9 incident in the email toChopra, as quoted by HuffPostIndia.

The woman said thatHirani was a father figure toher. My mind, body and heartwere grossly violated that night

and for the next 6 months, theemail read.

Chopras wife, film criticAnupama Chopra, who is adirector at Vinod Chopra FilmsPvt Ltd, Sanju scriptwriterAbhijat Joshi and filmmakerShelly Chopra, Vidhu Vinodssister, were also marked on theemail. The complainant latertold HuffPost India that she wasintimidated by Hirani, whowas her reporting superior atthe time.

She said she maintained afacade of normalcy regardingHiranis behaviour as sheneeded to hold on to her jobas her father was sufferingfrom a terminal illness. I hadno choice but to be polite tohim. It was unbearable but thereason I endured it all, until Icouldnt, was because I didntwant my job to be taken awayfrom me, and work to bequestioned. Ever. She said: Iwas worried that if I left mid-way, it would be impossible tofind another job in this indus-try if he were to speak badlyabout my work. Because ifHirani said I wasnt good,everybody would listen. My

future would be in jeopardy. Anupama Chopra had

confirmed that the womanhad shared an account with her,and t