China copter in Indian skies?

first_imgA Chinese helicopter has violated Indian air space in Barahoti area of Chamoli district along the India-China border in Uttrakhand on Sunday. Indian Air Force (IAF) has launched a probe to ascertain the details.“One chopper was sighted hovering over Barahoti area violating Indian airspace at 9.15 AM. It remained inside the Indian airspace for nearly four minutes,” Chamoli Superintendent of Police Tripti Bhatt told news agency PTI.According to PTI, the SP added that there have been similar incidents in the past and it has to be ascertained the latest incident was “a deliberate act of recce or an unintentional deviation.”IAF officials when contacted said that the incident has been taken note of and the “matter is being investigated.”(With inputs from PTI)last_img read more

Two Hizb militants killed in Sopore

first_imgTwo Hizbul Mujahideen militants who were behind a grenade attack on Wednesday were killed in a counter-militancy operation in north Kashmir’s Sopore on Thursday morning.A police spokesman said Aijaz Ahmad Mir and Basharat Ahmad Sheikh, residents of Sopore, were hiding in the house of Khazir Mohammad Mir.“The house was cordoned off by a joint party of the police, the Army and the CRPF at around 2:45 a.m. During a search operation, the militants opened fire. Both the militants were killed in retaliatory fire,” said the spokesman.Two AK-47 rifles and five magazines were recovered from their possession.The slain militants, according to the police, joined the Hizb in 2016. Police said they were the motivators of the militants who lobbed a grenade on a police station on Wednesday evening, injuring four policemen.“Two militants involved in the grenade attack have been detained,” said the spokesman.Two pistols and four grenades have been recovered from them.Arms haulPolice said a vehicle carrying militants and overground workers was stopped in Bandipora district. Arms too were recovered from the vehicle.last_img read more

BJP claims its supporter killed in Baduria clash

first_imgThe situation in Baduria and adjoining areas, where communal clashes had erupted over a Facebook post, remained under control, while tension mounted at Kolkata’s RG Kar Hospital and Medical College on Thursday after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership claimed that one of its supporters had died in the hospital from the injuries sustained in the communal clashes.Dilip Ghosh, president of the West Bengal unit of the BJP, said that 65-year- old Kartick Ghosh, a resident of Kakra in Basirhat area of North 24 Parganas, was stabbed to death.‘Stopped and abused’Mr. Ghosh alleged that when he and BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya set out to visit the family members of the deceased, they were stopped by hundreds of people who surrounded their vehicles and abused them. “Goons have taken control of West Bengal and now even of the hospital. They are beating our supporters and abusing us,” Mr. Ghosh said.The BJP leaders said the crowd that stopped them comprised mostly Trinamool Congress supporters.According to the BJP leaders, the victim was injured in communal strife on Wednesday and brought to the hospital late in the evening.Trinamool Congress secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said that if the BJP’s claim that one of their supporters had died in the clashes is true, then they must answer what their supporter was doing there in the first place.“Their claim indicates that it’s the BJP that has been fuelling communal strife in the area,” he said.last_img read more

Opposition will have to set aside its differences: Tejashwi Yadav

first_imgIn a telephonic interview, former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and chosen successor to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Tejashwi Yadav speaks about the Opposition rally called by his father in Patna on Sunday and the possible shape of Opposition politics in the months ahead. Excerpts:What’s the aim of Lalu Prasad’s August 27 rally?With the BJP’s rise, the RSS and its sister organisations have set up systems to act as a parallel government without responsibility but with immense nuisance value…. in Delhi, the government employs right-wing propaganda to hide its failures. Every educational and constitutional body is systematically being infested with Sangh Parivar members and rightist ideology, to change the minds of the youth and the ethos of the nation beyond repair…The Opposition and those opposing the propaganda-driven high-handedness of the Sangh Parivar are being hounded…. If we stay mute,.. future generations will never forgive us. Our rally is to get the country’s populace to rally behind a unified and tolerant opposition for a better, vibrant and united future.Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, and Sitaram Yechury are skipping the rally. Is that a setback?The Desh Bachao, Bhajpa Bhagao Maharally is an RJD rally, not a rally of all Opposition parties. So too much must not be read into the inability of top leaders of other parties (to attend the rally).Those unable to attend… have conveyed their personal reasons … Soniaji personally spoke to me on Thursday; Rahulji has prior commitments, and we were aware of it. The party will be represented by other leaders. The CPI(M) is not coming, probably because of the political situation in West Bengal. (BSP chief) Mayawatiji is not coming but her talking about sharing of seats means she’s open to unity moves with the Samajwadi Party (SP).That’s a positive sign. U.P., Bihar and Jharkhand together have 134 seats of which the BJP holds 115 seats currently. If the RJD, SP, BSP, Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha get together, they can win over 100 Lok Sabha seats.All these parties are based on similar principles. All of us will have to respect each other’s concerns and set aside inter-party rivalry… Some new parties like the Biju Janata Dal, the Asom Gana Parishad and the Indian National Lok Dal are coming.The grand alliance government’s collapse was not just a setback for the RJD, but the entire secular Opposition. Your comment.The mahagatbandhan [grand alliance] was a perfect model to check the Sangh Parivar and BJP. But if someone, who was either being blackmailed or had a vested interest, decided to part ways … that doesn’t mean the idea was faulty or it can’t be replicated with more principled and stable partners. …Even in the so-called Modi wave, only 32% of the voters voted for the BJP… All we have to ensure is a united Opposition with an alternative positive narrative which can expose PM Modi, who has performed miserably on all fronts.Will the Congress lead the Opposition and, if so, who will head it — Sonia Gandhi or Rahul?As the biggest and the only national party in the Opposition with a pan-Indian presence, Congress can get the maximum seats and lead the Opposition. Who will lead Congress is for the Congress to decide.Is a United Front-type situation — in which H.D. Deve Gowda became PM in 1996, with the Congress supporting from outside — possible in 2019?Past experience shows this isn’t a good idea — it’s not good for stability. It’s better to have a United Progressive Alliance-I-type situation in which the Congress was supported by all major regional parties.Nitish Kumar recently said: “The mandate was for serving the people of Bihar and not for enriching one family”…After having ditched the mandate of the voters …he had to come up with baseless allegations to justify his unjustifiable action. Levelling accusations is easy, but what stopped him from coming up with facts to prove that I or my family had used the opportunity provided by the voters for our benefit in these 20 months?…Nitishji needed a reason to surrender in front of the BJP to maintain his credibility. The BJP was more than happy to comply. Thus we had a string of politically inspired accusations, cases and raids… His present cabinet has 75% tainted ministers.What then was Mr. Kumar’s real reason for returning to the BJP, given that he broke his association with the party in 2013?There is more to it than meets the eye! There must be some skeletons hidden in the closet of this U-turn specialist that he simply surrendered in front of the might of Narendra Damodardas Modi, whom he was accusing of causing all the hardships in the country not very long ago. One reason could be the threat that the murder charges against him would get fast-tracked by the BJP.last_img read more

Girl missing after arrest of Dera chief, claims family

first_imgThe family of a girl, who was living in the Dera Sacha Sauda complex in Sirsa, has claimed that she has been missing after the sect chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was sentenced for rape.The family from Haryana’s Tiwala claimed that they had not been in touch with Shraddha since 2008. Her cousin Parminder Singh said the last time they got information about her was from a Dera-run magazine which described her as a yoga practitioner.Search continuesThe family, along with other villagers are making frantic efforts to trace her, in Sirsa. “The caretaker of Sahe Baitiyan Baseera [home for minor girls], Poonam, said she had left the Dera after the sect head was convicted,” Mr. Singh said.Ram Rahim was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping two of his female disciples by a special CBI court on August 28. “Shraddha was left at the Dera long time back so that she could pursue her education. In 2008, we tried to meet her, but we were not allowed by the Dera functionaries,” he alleged. “I tried to contact the Dera officials on their phones, but it was futile,” he said, adding that as the area around the sect’s headquarters was under curfew, it was difficult to get inside.last_img read more

Bhima-Koregaon clashes: Pune police conduct raids in several cities

first_imgThe Pune police on Tuesday carried out searches at the residences of prominent human rights lawyers and activists across Nagpur, Pune and Delhi to probe their alleged links with Naxals and their role in the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ to commemorate the bicentenary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in December last year.The searches, which commenced early morning, include the residences of activist Rona Wilson in New Delhi, lawyer Surendra Gadling in Nagpur, who has fought on behalf of former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, and those of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) activists – Sudhir Dhavale, Harshali Potdar, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Ghaichor and Deepak Dhengle in Pune.While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in Mumbai that the searches were not conducted in view of the Bhima-Koregaon clashes but were a nationwide operation against those believed to be associated with Naxalism, KKM activists decried the State’s ‘pressure tactics’, stating they were being “unjustly targeted” for demanding the arrest of octogenarian Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide ‘Guruji’, who is prime accused in the January 1 riots.“Why are we being searched now months after the FIR was lodged against us? Each time, we are ‘soft targets’ for the government and the police machinery, who insinuate us of promoting Maoist-Naxalite ideology,” said Jyoti Jagtap of the KKM.She said that the police began conducting searches since 6 a.m. and that they went till noon.“The search team especially marked out literature which included pamphlets on Ambedkar’s thoughts and those of progressive activists like Annabhau Sathe. There is nothing sinister about these tracts, nor have we attempted to hide, print or distribute anything inflammatory at the time of the ‘Elgaar Parishad’,” said Ms. Jagtap.She further said that the KKM was not the only outfit that had participated in the ‘Elgaar Parishad’, which saw a massive congregation of more than 200 liberal and Ambedkarite outfits.While authorities who conducted the searches refused to comment, police sources said that they were to probe whether those who participated in the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ in Pune held just before the Koregaon-Bhima riots of January 1 had or retained Naxal/ Maoist links.On January 8, the Vishrambaug Wada police station in Pune had lodged an FIR against six KKM members, including five of those whose residences were searched, for making allegedly ‘provocative’ speeches and presentations calculated to promote enmity between two groups at the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ held at Pune’s Shaniwarwada Fort on December 31 last year as part of the bicentenary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.The complaint had accused the KKM activists of making a number of “inflammatory” speeches and delivering “socially divisive” presentations during the course of the troupe’s performance and recitals at the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ which lasted nearly eight hours (form 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.) on December 31.On January 3 this year, the Vishrambaug police had similarly lodged a case against Gujarat Assembly MLA Jignesh Mevani and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Umar Khaled for allegedly promoting enmity between two groups with their supposedly provocative speeches at the Parishad.Mr. Mevani, Mr. Khalid, Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar and Radhika Vemula were among the speakers at the event held at Shaniwarwada Fort on December 31, 2017 to commemorate the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which 500 soldiers of the untouchable Mahar community fought alongside the English to defeat the vastly superior forces of Peshwa Bajirao II.A day later, on January 1, violent clashes between two groups marred the bicentenary celebrations of the battle at the Koregaon Bhima village, resulting in the death of one person, Rahul Phatangale of Sanaswadi village.The KKM- a radical Dalit and working-class cultural troupe – has alleged the outfit was being made “a scapegoat” in order to divert attention from the real perpetrators of the January 1 clashes at Koregaon Bhima village which resulted in the death of one person.last_img read more

CWG gold medallist Rahul Aware gets hero’s welcome in Pune

first_imgWrestler Rahul Aware, who won a Gold medal at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Austalia’s Gold Coast, received a hero’s welcome on Tuesday as hundreds of fans crowded the Pune International Airport to greet him.Aware, who hails from Patoda tehsil in Beed district, bested Canada’s Steven Takahashi in men’s freestyle 57 kg wrestling final to clinch the top prize in a humdinger of a finale.A protégé of renowned wrestler Harishchandra Birajdar, the 26-year-old shed tears of joy as he was feted with a Puneri pagadi and hoisted on the shoulders of his enthusiastic fans as he stepped outside the airport.“It was Birajdar mama’s dream that at least one of his students should win a gold medal at an international event… It was a difficult time for me when he [Mr. Birajdar] passed away in 2011,” said an emotional Aware, who underwent rigorous training with Arjuna awardee Kakasaheb Pawar at the latter’s wrestling academy in Katraj.Birajdar had scored a Gold way back in the 1970 British Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh in Scotland. An influential figure in the State’s wrestling scene with a deft eye for budding talent, he was responsible for helping several promising wrestlers realise their potential. “While his [Birajdar’s] death left a void in my life and he was not present to witness my success, Kakasaheb Pawar helped bridge this long journey from despair to success …I am everything today because of mama and Kaka,” said Aware.This was his second gold medal in Australia, having bagged one at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships held in Melbourne in 2011.Aware moved to Pune in 2007 to receive instruction under Birajdar at the city’s Gokul Vastad Talimm, which dates from the early 19th century and is situated in the bustling, run-down Bhawani Peth area.Under Birajdar’s guidance, Aware’s talents soon blossomed, as he bagged the gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games held in Pune in 2008. Since, then it has been a relentless thrust towards the top prize in the international sporting arena. “Expectations naturally ran high and there was tremendous pressure on me to win the gold at the CWG…the semi-finals and finals, too, became progressively difficult. But I didn’t lose sight of the final goal,” said the modest wrestler, adding that “respecting one’s Guru and imbibing instruction with sincerity” was the surest path to a gold medal.Aware said his sights were set on the Asian Games to be held in Indonesia in August this year. “His achievement is extremely commendable… While there have been many good and aggressive wrestlers from Maharashtra, Rahul is the only one to have realized Harishchandra Birajdar’s dream of winning a gold at an international event. He never compromised on his commitment towards his sport,” said an exultant Mr. Pawar.Reminiscing on his early potential, Aware’s father, Balasaheb Aware, who was present to receive his son, said: “His talent and skill at wrestling was evident since he was seven years of age. While he used to perform well at local events, a turning point came when Birajdar mama, recognizing his potential, urged us to enroll in his talim and we readily consented.”last_img read more

Why are migrants insecure in Gujarat?

first_imgWhat happened?Early this month, migrants working in several districts of Gujarat, and hailing mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, began fleeing, fearing for their lives.What was the trigger?On September 28, a 14-month-old was raped allegedly by a migrant labourer in a small village in Sabarkantha in north Gujarat. The incident sent shock waves in the region and triggered a massive backlash against the growing number of migrants in a rapidly industrialising Gujarat. Immediately after the incident, Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena, headed by Congress legislator Alpesh Thakor, reportedly issued threats against migrants, blaming them for the deteriorating law and order situation in north Gujarat districts. And within a few days, dozens of attacks on migrants were reported from 10 districts.What did the government do?So far, the police have filed 60 cases and arrested 500 people for alleged involvement in assaults/attacks on migrants. In addition, the Ahmedabad police arrested more than 100 people for spreading hate messages on social media platforms. According to data from trade and industry bodies, 40,000 migrants fled the State after the attacks.Why the backlash?Three days before the alleged rape, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced that the State would enact a law to make it mandatory to provide 80% jobs to locals. “Those who set up business in Gujarat, including in the services sector, will have to ensure that 80% of the jobs are given to Gujaratis. The government is working on the law,” Mr. Rupani said.How big is the migrant population?With growing industrialisation and urbanisation, Gujarat, with 43% urban population as per the 2011 Census, has emerged as a major hub for migrant population, particularly from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar. Today, a substantial chunk of the State’s labour force in construction sites, security guards, drivers, domestic workers, factory workers in ceramic, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, automobiles and ancillary units and food processing units are Hindi-speaking migrants. Though the exact number of the total migrant population is not available with any government agency, according to industry and trade bodies, migrants account for 35% of the labour force. Surat, Gujarat’s diamond city, has a massive migrant population from more than a dozen States. Migrants dominate textiles and allied units, construction, and heavy industrial factories in Hazira. Other places where migrants work are Ahmedabad, Rajkot, the ceramic hub of Morbi, the chemical and petrochemical hubs of Vadodara and Dahej, Alang, where ships are dismantled, and Sabarkantha.Are any initiatives in place?As migrants began fleeing the State, the authorities scrambled to arrest the exodus by launching initiatives. At the district level, officials held meetings with migrant labourers and contractors to assure them of help. Officials held meetings with representatives of trade bodies and industrial associations to ensure that migrant labourers were given security at the work place and in areas where they live. Initially, the government deployed more police forces in industrial estates and in localities where migrants live. However, the forces have been withdrawn after normalcy was restored. “We have told the officials and industry representatives that migrants are here to work and make a living. If some elements try to commit a crime, they should be dealt with as per the law but others should not be made to suffer for an isolated crime,” said Ramprasad Gupta, a labour contractor at the Naroda Gujarat Industrial Development Corporate estate.What is in store?The government will have to ensure the safety of migrants and give them medical and housing facilities and education to their children. So far, the government’s approach to arresting the exodus may have succeeded, but the Chief Minister’s statement on jobs for locals has added to the uncertainty.last_img read more

Odisha BJP pins hope on PM to boost party’s prospects

first_imgThe leaders of Odisha BJP are working overtime to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the State on December 24 a success.Mr. Modi’s visit is likely to give a boost to the sagging morale of the BJP workers in the wake of their party’s defeat in the recently concluded Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.Apart from dedicating IIT-Bhubaneswar campus to the nation, laying foundation for the campus of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Berhampur, and inaugurating the Archaeological Museum, Lalitgiri, Mr. Modi is scheduled to address a public meeting at Khurda to commemorate the Paika rebellion.Mr. Modi is visiting the State a few days after a three-day-long visit by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to Bhubaneswar to strengthen his organisation ahead of the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State.As the BJP’s national leadership expects a better performance in the forthcoming general elections in eastern India, Mr. Modi is likely to visit Odisha twice next month – Baripada on January 5 and Berhampur on January 16.Rural polls successAfter coming second in the panchayat elections in February 2017, the BJP had pinned high hopes on Odisha. But after that the party failed to register any noticeable electoral victory. The BJD has wrested control from the BJP in all the bypolls held after the panchayat elections. The disillusionment among cadres with top-rung leadership seemingly not working in cohesion has added to the problem and the party remains a divided house with its leaders leading their different camps. A viral video clip in which former IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi, who joined the party recently, was purportedly seen trying to instil discipline among cadres indicated the cracks in the State BJP. Although several Congress leaders have joined the BJP in the past few months, the party has suffered a jolt with senior leaders – Bijoy Mohapatra and Dilip Ray – quitting it weeks ago. As the BJD remains strong, the new-found energy in the State Congress after its State polls victory has also sounded alarm bells for the saffron party, which is realising that the going may not be smooth in the coming elections.last_img read more

10% reservation for EWS will be implemented in Bihar too, says Nitish Kumar

first_imgBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections will be implemented in Bihar too and his government has been seeking legal opinion over it.“Our government is seeking legal opinion over 10% reservation to the Economically Weaker Section people… it will be implemented in Bihar too”, said Mr. Kumar while addressing media persons on the sideline of his weekly Lok Samvad (interaction with people) programme.When asked about the proposed rally of NDA in Bihar, Mr Kumar said, “talks are on for this but whenever it will be finalized we’ll let everyone know about it.”When asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the rally, Mr. Kumar said: “I expect that.”Party sources told The Hindu that the proposed rally will be held either on February 24 or March 3 in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.Mr Kumar further said that his party has been in favour of EVM and VVPAT at every poll booth during election.JD(U) firm on opposing Citizenship (Amendment) Bill On his party’s decision to oppose Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Mr. Kumar said that his party has communicated its decision to the Central government that “it is (the bill) is not proper.”“The Union Homer Minister too has been apprised about our party’s stand on the issue,” he added.“But, if the Congress party will abstain on the issue in Rajya Sabha too, it means they’re in support for the passage of the Bill”, said Mr. Kumar. The Congress had staged walk-out before the Bill was taken up for voting in Lok Sabha.Earlier on Sunday, Janata Dal (United) had formed a high powered committee comprising party national general secretary K C Tyagi, Prashant Kishor and others to visit Assam and meet leaders of Asom Gana Parishad and All Assam Student’s Union and local people to express JD(U)’s solidarity with their cause.At the Sunday meeting of party’s national executive committee, JD(U) also formed a three-member committee comprising party leaders Basistha Narayan Singh, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh and Bijendra Prasad Yadav to start the process of shortlisting names of party candidates for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections.last_img read more

BJP, AAP came to power because of my stir: Anna

first_imgLashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, anti-graft activist Anna Hazare on Monday said the party used him and exploited his Jan Lokpal agitation to come to power in 2014.Speaking to reporters in his Ralegan Siddhi village on the sixth day of his hunger strike, Mr. Hazare said both the BJP and AAP could come to power only by riding the crest of his agitation for the Lokpal and the Lokayukta Bill and that they had betrayed him by not appointing ombudsmen.“The BJP and AAP are in power because of my agitation over the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill. But now, the ruling BJP leaders are silent on the issue. They seem to have developed an allergy towards getting ombudsmen appointed,” Mr. Hazare said.Targeting the Modi government, the 81-year-old activist said it did not adhere to constitutional norms and that the Prime Minister was transforming the Central government into a dictatorship.Stating that he had lost all faith in the Ministers of both the Central [Narendra Modi] and State [Devendra Fadnavis] governments, he said: “The State government says that 90% of the demands have been approved. What sort of a deception is this? If it had indeed accepted all my demands, then what reason was there for me to go on a hunger strike?”He further said that it did not make any difference whether the Modi government was replaced by the Congress in the upcoming general election. “Even if this government falls, I don’t see any great change happening. One [read BJP-led NDA government] is a graduate in corruption and non-implementation of the Lokpal and it would be replaced by someone with a doctorate [read Congress-led UPA government],” he said.Mr. Hazare said he had dissuaded Ministers from the Centre and the State, including the Chief Minister, from visiting him as they had nothing concrete to offer. “I have told them that unless they come with a concrete proposal that the Centre would appoint a Lokpal and immediately look into the interests of farmers, it is pointless trying to persuade me to give up my fast,” he said.Fadnavis appealChief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has urged Mr. Hazare to give up his fast while stating that certain individuals were playing politics over his stir. Talking to newsmen in Satara, he said: “We have acceded to his [Anna’s] requests and the Centre too has communicated that it taken his demands seriously. We are in constant communication with him and urge him to end his fast,” he said.Mr. Fadnavis said a number of parties and individuals, who had no concern whatsoever about his health, were now supporting his fast and misleading the people about the role of the State and Central governments.In a rebuke to the opposition as well as the Shiv Sena, Mr. Fadnavis said individuals who had criticised Mr. Hazare in the past were suddenly expressing their support for him.last_img read more

‘Delay may put BJP on the back foot’

first_imgWith the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party taking a lead in announcing candidates for all the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, political analysts and a few BJP leaders fear that the delay in announcing its candidate could put BJP’s election campaigning on the back foot.The ruling Congress in Punjab and AAP, which made a spectacular debut in 2014 Lok Sabha polls have both announced the names of their nominees for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.The BJP on Sunday announced to field Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri from Amritsar constituency. The party, however, is yet to decide on its candidates for two seats – Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are alliance partners and out of total 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, SAD is contesting on 10 while the BJP is fighting on three seats.Amid speculation that BJP could field a celebrity from Gurdaspur seat, actor Sunny Deol met BJP national president Amit Shah in Pune recently. However, Mr. Deol termed the meeting a “courtesy meeting” and nothing else.“Party needs to announce the candidates soon and aspirants are getting restive. The filing of nomination papers for the elections will start (tomorrow) on April 22. The delay would leave very less time for canvassing. Candidates of opposite parties have already kicked-off their campaigns, more delay will put our candidates on the back foot,” said a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity.SAD is also yet to announce its candidates for the two key constituencies – Bathinda and Ferozepur. Both these seats are considered to be stronghold of Akali’s but the indecisiveness on candidates, according to political analysts gives an impression that party is still searching for “winnable” candidates.Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the MP from Bathinda while from Ferozepur constituency Sher Singh Ghubaya, is the sitting MP, who successfully contested the 2014 general election as SAD candidate but later joined the Congress.Badal from Ferozepur?The Congress has fielded Mr. Ghubaya from Ferozepur while from Bathinda the party has announced Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, MLA from Gidderbaha seat as its candidate. Speculation is rife over Harsimrat Kaur Badal being renominated from Bathinda and SAD president and Punjab’s former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal contesting from Ferozepur.“One reason of the delay in announcing candidates could be due to too many aspirants in the fray. But the indecision in clearing the names gives an impression that the party is still searching for ‘winnable’ candidate. In a small State like Punjab selecting candidates should not have been a tedious exercise unless the party is not able to find ‘winnable’ candidate,” Ashutosh Kumar, professor of Political Science at Panjab University told, The Hindu.Meanwhile, AAP and Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) – the coalition of Bahujan Samaj Party, Punjabi Ekta Party, Lok Insaaf Party, Nawan Punjab Party, Communist Party of India (CPI), Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) and Marxist Communist Party of India (U) have announced its candidates for all parliamentary seats.last_img read more

ScienceShot: Could You Repeat That Click?

first_imgHumans aren’t the only ones who lose their hearing as they grow older. Scientists report that wild Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis), which can live 40-plus years, also have trouble picking up sounds as they age. Other researchers had noted that the hearing of captive bottlenose dolphins and a captive false killer whale declines over time, but this had never been observed in the wild. In the new study, a team learned that a male humpback dolphin about 40 years old had been rescued after stranding itself in a river near Foshan, China. The scientists took the opportunity to test the animal’s hearing after its health stabilized. Using electrodes attached with suction cups to the dolphin’s head and back, the scientists produced audiograms (barcodelike images) that showed the animal’s auditory response to a range of tone pips, like those used in the Greenwich Time Signal, varying their frequency and loudness. By comparing the audiograms, the researchers were able to determine the softest noise the cetacean could detect. They also recorded the dolphin’s echolocation clicks, which the creatures use to navigate, hunt, and communicate, as it swam freely in a pool. In 2011, the researchers had collected similar data from a 13-year-old male humpback dolphin that had also been rescued after being stranded. Compared with the younger dolphin, the 40-year-old had trouble hearing high-frequency sounds; he also made echolocation clicks that were of a lower frequency than those of the 13-year-old, suggesting that the older dolphin had shifted his clicks into a range that he was able to hear, the team reports today in The Journal of Experimental Biology. Perhaps the dolphin’s hearing had been affected by the shipping and boating noises in his habitat; but more likely, the researchers say, his auditory sensitivity had declined for the same reason it does in humans, and likely most mammals: He had lived a long life.See more ScienceShots.*Correction, 1 November, 3:10 p.m.: Researchers collected data from the 13-year-old male humpback dolphin in 2011, not 2007, as was previously reported.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

ScienceShot: Gold Mining and the Damage Wrought

first_imgThere’s a gold rush going on in the Peruvian state of Madre de Dios, resulting in deforestation, runoff, and, as Science reported last month, mercury pollution. But because most of this mining is small-scale, clandestine, and illegal, researchers have had a hard time calculating its true extent. Now, a team of scientists has collaborated to accurately map Madre de Dios’s gold mines in space and time. The image above, created with new high-resolution satellite mapping techniques, shows the spread of gold mining along the Madre de Dios River between 1999 and 2012. Pink represents mines present before 1999; blue and green illustrate the spread during the middle of the 2000s; and yellow, orange, and red capture the mining that has sprung up since 2008. In 13 years, small-scale mining operations increased by 600% and the amount of land in the state affected by gold mining quadrupled, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Today, gold mining gobbles up an average of 6145 hectares of rainforest per year in Madre de Dios—more than three times the rate before the 2008 financial crisis drove up the demand for gold. And as another paper in PNAS this week shows, it’s nearly impossible to clean up after gold mining: Mercury pollution from the 19th century California gold rush will likely persist in the environment for more than 10,000 years.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

Scientists Fix Errors in Controversial Paper About Saturated Fats

first_imgWhen a paper published on 17 March questioned whether fats from fish or vegetable oils are healthier than those in meat or butter, it quickly made headlines around the world; after all, the study seemed to debunk a cornerstone of many dietary guidelines. But a new version of the publication had to be posted shortly after it appeared on the website of the Annals of Internal Medicine to correct several errors. And although the study’s first author stands by the conclusions, a number of scientists are criticizing the paper and even calling on the authors to retract it.”They have done a huge amount of damage,” says Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “I think a retraction with similar press promotion should be considered.”Health officials have long argued that so-called saturated fatty acids, which are found in butter, meat, chocolate, and cheese, increase the risk of heart disease, and that people should instead eat more unsaturated fatty acids, the type that dominates in fish, nuts, or vegetable oils.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In the new study, a meta-analysis, scientists from Europe and the United States pooled 72 individual studies to gauge how different fats influence the risk of a heart attack or other cardiac events, such as angina. These included trials in which participants were randomly assigned to different diets, as well as observational studies in which participants’ intake of fatty acids was determined by asking them about their diet or by measuring the fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream.When the researchers compared people with the highest and the lowest intake of saturated fats, they found no clear difference between the risk of heart disease or other cardiac events. Similarly, they found no significant difference between those consuming high or low amounts of the supposedly healthy unsaturated fats. “Current evidence does not clearly support guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats,” the authors concluded.But even before the paper was published, other scientists began pointing out errors, says first author Rajiv Chowdhury, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. For instance, the authors took one study on omega-3 fats, one type of unsaturated fats, to show a slightly negative effect while, in fact, it had shown a strong positive effect. The correction means that the meta-analysis now says people who report eating lots of this particular fat have significantly less heart disease; previously, it said there was no significant effect.Critics also pointed out two important studies on omega-6 fatty acids that the authors had missed. The errors “demonstrate shoddy research and make one wonder whether there are more that haven’t been detected,” writes Jim Mann, a researcher at the University of Otago, Dunedin, in New Zealand, writes in an e-mail. “If I had been the referee I would have recommended rejection.”Mann and others say the paper has other problems, too. For instance, it does not address what people who reduced their intake of saturated fats consumed instead. A 2009 review concluded that replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates had no benefit, while replacing them with polyunsaturated fats reduced the risk of heart disease. Several scientists say that should have been mentioned in the new paper.Chowdhury says the paper’s conclusions are valid, however, even after the corrections. Randomized clinical trials are the “hardest” kind of evidence, he says, and they don’t show a significant effect of saturated or unsaturated fats. But even one of the paper’s authors, Dariush Mozaffarian, of the Harvard School of Public Health, admits that he is not happy with the key conclusion that the evidence does not support a benefit from polyunsaturated fats. “Personally, I think the results suggest that fish and vegetable oils should be encouraged,” he says. But the paper was written by a group of authors, he points out. “And science isn’t a dictatorship.”Another study author, Emanuele Di Angelantonio of the University of Cambridge, says the main problem is that the paper was “wrongly interpreted by the media.” “We are not saying the guidelines are wrong and people can eat as much saturated fat as they want. We are saying that there is no strong support for the guidelines and we need more good trials.”Willett says correcting the paper isn’t enough. “It is good that they fixed it for the record, but it has caused massive confusion and the public hasn’t heard about the correction.” The paper should be withdrawn, he argues.The controversy should serve as a warning about meta-analyses, Willett adds. Such studies compile the data from many individual studies to get a clearer result. “It looks like a sweeping summary of all the data, so it gets a lot of attention,” Willett says. “But these days meta-analyses are often done by people who are not familiar with a field, who don’t have the primary data or don’t make the effort to get it.” And while drug trials are often very similar in design, making it easy to combine their results, nutritional studies vary widely in the way they are set up. “Often the strengths and weaknesses of individual studies get lost,” Willett says. “It’s dangerous.”last_img read more

South Africa hears bid to ground graft-accused family’s jet

first_imgCanada went to court in South Africa Friday to ground a private jet used by the Gupta business family which has been accused of corruptly influencing former president Jacob Zuma. Export Development Canada (EDC), the country’s state-run trade credit agency, alleges the controversial family’s businesses defaulted on a $41 million loan for the Bombardier Global 6000 which subsequently disappeared.Read it at Arab News Related Itemslast_img

With Indian Rupee Plumbing Depths, 25 Million Expatriates To Script New Remittance Record

first_imgThe rupee plunged further on Wednesday, setting a new record low of 73.42 against US dollar. The continued hammering the Indian rupee received was owing to a combination of factors — robust US dollar, rising crude prices, India’s widening trade deficit, the expectation that the US central bank may raise rates further and the increasing risk aversion in emerging market investors.Read it at IBT Related Itemslast_img

Uttar Pradesh: 50 students injured after HT wire falls into school

first_imgAbout 50 students were injured on Monday when a high-tension wire fell into a primary school in Naya Nagar Vishnupur area here, prompting Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to order a probe into the incident. The students are stated to be out of danger, officials said.When the wire fell, the students were at a distance but water had collected in the compound after rainfall due to which they came into contact with electricity, District Magistrate Karun Karunesh said.They were shifted to nearby hospitals, he said. Taking a serious note, the Chief Minister ordered the District Magistrate of Balrampur to provide medial aid to the children while directing officials to probe the matter and take action against the guilty within 24 hours.He also directed Principal Secretary Energy and MD, UP Power Corporation to run a campaign to safeguard people from high-tension wires and repair them wherever needed.“Strict action will be initiated against those showing laxity in this regard,” Mr. Adityanath said. Two employees of the Power department were suspended and a departmental inquiry was ordered against the junior engineer concerned. Mr. Karunesh said the basic education officer and the executive engineer of the Power department were directed to conduct a survey of schools and remove any such wires passing over them.last_img read more

Two warkaris killed, 15 hurt in road mishap near Pune

first_imgTwo warkaris were killed and 15 injured after a JCB earthmover mowed down a group of pilgrims at Dive ghat near Saswad, 25 km from Pune city.The deceased included Sopan Namdas (35), said to be the 17th descendant of the 14th century Saint Namdev (a significant figure in the Bhakti movement) and his disciple, Atul Alashi (23).The warkaris had set out from the temple town of Pandharpur carrying a palanquin bearing footprints of the poet-saint Namdev, and were heading towards the holy city of Alandi when the tragedy occurred. A pall of gloom descended among the pilgrims with the passing away of Sopan Namdas.According to police authorities, the driver of the JCB machine, which was heading to Pune from Saswad, lost control after the brakes of the machine allegedly failed, causing it to crash into the group of warkaris near Dive ghat.The driver was later arrested under section 304 (2) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a police official said. “Despite the frequency of such accidents, police have not provided us with adequate protection. We request that the authorities take serious note of this during the wari (the annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Vithoba in Pandharpur),” said a pilgrim.The injured were rushed to Noble multi speciality hospital in Hadapsar.“Two warkaris were brought dead while two others, one of whom suffered head injuries, have been admitted to the ICU and are critical. The others suffered minor injuries and will be discharged soon,” said Dr. H.K. Sale, Director, Noble Hospital.Offering his condolences, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State chief Chandrakant Patil, after a visit to the hospital, said the party would bear the expenses of those undergoing treatment from a special party relief fund. “The BJP has formed a special relief trust from which they will give ₹5 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased and bear the medical expenses of those under treatment. A persistent refrain from the warkari fraternity is that they ought to have adequate police protection. We will work on this immediately once a government is in place,” said Mr. Patil.District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, who also visited the hospital, said a proposal to provide financial aid for the deceased and injured is being forwarded to the State administration.last_img read more

BJP says it will make short work of floor test in Maharashtra

first_imgNewly elected members of the BJP Legislature Party on Sunday unanimously passed a motion congratulating Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. The 105 MLAs met at the party office at Dadar in central Mumbai to discuss a strategy for the upcoming floor test and expressed confidence in winning the vote with a thumping majority, after the party dramatically revived its fortunes following support from the Ajit Pawar-led faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).Senior BJP leaders said they were confident of proving their majority whenever a floor test was held.“We have unanimously passed the motion congratulating Mr. Fadnavis and Mr. Pawar for being sworn in as the new CM, DCM, respectively. The BJP is confident of giving Maharashtra a stable government for the next five years under their able leadership,” said senior party leader and former Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar. Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Fadnavis expressed confidence that the BJP would come out on top during the floor test. “Thankful for the warm welcome and wishes from karyakartas (workers), MLAs and leaders at BJP office this afternoon, during the first meeting after taking oath as the Maharashtra CM,” he tweeted following the meeting.“A unanimous resolution was passed by BJP and Independent legislators in support of the appointment of Mr. Fadnavis and Mr. Pawar. This unity is the foundation on which Maharashtra will prosper, backed by strong, stable governance which is committed to its people,” said party leader and former Cabinet Minister Vinod Tawde. The party’s lawmakers also said the NCP’s decision to sack Mr. Ajit Pawar as head of the party’s legislative unit on Saturday was unconstitutional. Mr. Ajit Pawar was removed by the NCP’s parliamentary board after he joined hands with the BJP amid allegations that he did not have the authority to submit letters of support from NCP MLAs to the Governor. However, the BJP said the election of Jayant Patil as head of the NCP Legislature Party was unconstitutional on several grounds, including that fact that it did not have the approval of the Governor. “The NCP submitted on October 30 a letter authorising Ajit Pawar’s election as the head of the Legislature Party to the honourable Governor. So his removal must also be approved by the Governor,” said Mr. Shelar.last_img read more