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As trends paint clear picture of BJP’s victory in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, this is how party celebrates

The trends have started emerging and as they move in the favour of the Bhartiya Janata Party recorded, party workers had already started celebrating. BJP recorded its first official win Gujarat and festivity at party offices across the country have begun. Party workers in Madhya Pradesh are already distributing sweets as the trends show the BJP winning both in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.Fire crackers and sweets have made entry in the BJP headquarters in New Delhi too. Bucking the initial trends, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani won the Rajkot West Assembly seat in the Gujarat Election results on Monday.The early trends had shown Rupani trailing to Congress’ Indranil Rajguru.Ahead of the Gujarat verdict, Rupani sounded confident and had said that the BJP will form the government in the state again.”The results are going to be in BJP’s favour and the party will form Government in Gujarat; people of the state have chosen development” Rupani was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.On Sunday, his supporters also started a ‘Havan’ for his victory.Pitted against Rajguru, one of the wealthiest leader in the fray, Rupani bucked the anti- incumbency factor and the Patel agitation that could have tilted the balance.Gujarat has 26 parliamentary constituencies and 182 assembly constituencies.A total of 977 candidates were in the fray in the first phase of elections, out of which 57 were women candidates and over 2.22 crore people took part in the election to decide their fate. While in the second phase, 851 candidates fought, out of which 69 women candidates contested.

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Gujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Vijay Rupani wins prestige battle in Rajkot West

Bucking the initial trends, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani won the Rajkot West Assembly seat in the Gujarat Election results on Monday.The early trends had shown Rupani trailing to Congress’ Indranil Rajguru.Ahead of the Gujarat verdict, Rupani sounded confident and had said that the BJP will form the government in the state again.”The results are going to be in BJP’s favour and the party will form Government in Gujarat; people of the state have chosen development” Rupani was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.On Sunday, his supporters also started a ‘Havan’ for his victory.Pitted against Rajguru, one of the wealthiest leader in the fray, Rupani bucked the anti- incumbency factor and the Patel agitation that could have tilted the balance.

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Development is the mantra of today’s polity, people are with Modiji: Prakash Javadekar

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said that the development is the mantra of today’s polity as the BJP headed for a victory in Gujarat and was set to retain power and also stayed on course to oust the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped out of his car, greeted the media with a ‘namastey’ and flashed a victory sign, while entering the Parliament.Also readWatch: PM Modi flashes victory sign as BJP gets unassailable lead in GujaratWith poll trends favouring the BJP in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the results were an approval of the Modi government’s policies.Asked if the results were an approval of the Modi government’s policies, the former party president said, “Of course. It is an approval of the government.” Seeking a sixth straight term, the BJP was ahead in 100 seats while the opposition Congress is leading in 70 seats, the Election Commission (EC) trends available for 175 of the 182 seats at stake showed.The BJP has been in power in the state since 1995, winning consecutive elections in the home state of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP was ahead in 42 seats while the ruling Congress is leading in 22.

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Watch: PM Modi flashes victory sign as BJP gets unassailable lead in Gujarat

As the trends show BJP getting solid lead in Gujarat Assembly Elections results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen jubilantly flashing victory sign outside Parliament.The stakes are high as the BJP looks for straight fifth victory in the Prime Minister’s home state.Though the initial trends showed a tough fight between the Congress and the BJP, the post-11 am leads show BJP topping the game.Top BJP leaders have already started reacting to the trends with many showing confidence in forming government both in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.”We will form government in both Himachal and Gujarat with clear majority,” Union Hom Minister Rajnath Singh said as election leads started trickling in.”The result is as per our expectations. BJP is leading in both the states. BJP will form a government with clear majority in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh,” the Home Minister added.The elections for 182-seat Assembly were held on December 9 and 14, after an acrimonious campaign, which was dominated by a face-off between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.In the 2012 elections, the BJP had won 115 seats while the Congress emerged victorious on 61 seats.The BJP has been in power in the state since 1995, winning consecutive elections in the home state of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.

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Election Results: Will form govt in both Himachal and Gujarat with clear majority, says Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will form the government in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat with a clear majority as the party took leads in both states.”Trends very clear, we will form the government in both states,” he said.The BJP is leading in over 100 seats while the Congress nominees are ahead in 70 seats, as per the latest trends.Also readGujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: PM flashes victory sign as BJP tops trending gameChief Minister Vijay Rupani, who earlier trailed behind his Congress rival Indranil Rajyaguru after the counting of postal ballots, is now leading in Rajkot West seat.In the 2012 elections, the BJP had won 115 seats while the Congress emerged victorious on 61 seats.In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP has crossed the halfway mark and is ahead in 42 seats while the ruling Congress is leading in 23 seats.However, Congress veteran and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh are leading from Arki and Shimla (Rural) respectively.Independents are leading in two constituencies while the CPI(M) is ahead in one.

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Himachal Pradesh Election Results 2017 LIVE: BJP takes early lead

The counting of votes for 68 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh that went to polls on November 9 began at 8 am on Monday.The results are expected to come out by afternoon.As many as 50,25,941 voters were eligible to cast their votes and 37,605 polling personnel were deployed at 7,525 polling booths. 983 polling stations were declared vulnerable and 399 critical to ensure free and fair elections in the state.The fate of 337 candidates including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal will be known. Both – the ruling Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – are confident of their victory.Himachal has a tradition of change in government after every elections and going by the trend, this time it is the turn of the BJP which is upbeat after exit poll results.Security personnel have been deployed outside the counting centres to avoid any untoward situation.8:39 IST Monday, 18 December 2017Counting has begun for Himachal Pradesh. BJP is leading in 9 constituencies, Congress in 4.

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Assembly elections 2017: Will Himachal Pradesh results throw up a surprise?

While exit polls have already given a sweeping victory to BJP in Himachal Pradesh, locals are keeping their fingers crossed in the hilly state, which has in last 24 years never re-elected an incumbent government.BJP, which made an impressive comeback in adjoining hill state of Uttarakhand early this year replacing the Harish Rawat-led Congress government, is confident to romp home in Himachal as well where Congress’ Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has been battling age and corruption charges.Singh, called Raja by locals is a popular face and it was his popularity, which apparently forced BJP to declare Prem Singh Dhumal its CM face towards the end of the election even as it has earlier decided not to project any face and had in fact given more prominence to Union Minister J P Nadda.While exit polls suggest, Dhumal forming the next government in the state with huge margin, for the locals the outcome will be more based on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Many feel that it could be close contest this time and Virbhadra Singh may not just sink into oblivion with as poor results as being predicted by the exit polls.While Congress is striving hard for ‘Mission Repeat’ in the hill state this time, BJP is confident that the swing state will live up to its tradition of not returning the ruling party to power. It has also taken steps to check dissension. It’s confidence is also due to the fact that it had won all the four Lok Sabha seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.Supporters of Singh say that exit polls had also predicted win for BJP in the last assembly elections in 2012, where Congress won 36 seats in comparison to BJP’s 26.Ask anyone to give two reasons to ousts Singh’s govt and the answers would come on predictable lines… One, no govt has ever been repeated since eighties.Two, the corruption case against sitting chief minister where he could be arrested soon.The Congress government had not rubbed the government employees the wrong way in Singh’s five-year-tenure, which could be the reasons its supporters feel that the employees will back it.Singh led Himachal campaign single-handedly despite falling health and that has also struck a chord with voters to bring him back for one last time before he calls it quits, his supporters argue.They argue that there is no such sympathy wave for Dhumal on the other side who is fighting a tough battle to win own seat Sujanpur, where the former Chief Minister is locked into a tough battle against Rajinder Rana, who has nurtured it for many years. Rana, a protege turned rival of Dhumal had contested the 2012 election as an Independent and defeated his nearest Congress rival Anita Verma by 14,155 votes.It’s an open secret in the state unit that Dhumal, who contested the last assembly polls from Hamirpur assembly segment, was not willing to contest from Sujanpur.BJP had projected Dhumal as its CM face, hoping it could give a boost to the party’s campaign in all five assembly segments in Hamirpur.An old slogan, which does rounds in Himachal is that whosoever wins Kangra valley forms a government in Himachal.Congress had 10 seats from this region while BJP had just three in the last assembly. This time around, the Congress has strong presence in this region and it could be a neck to neck results. BJP state Mahila Morcha chief Indu Goswami, who has openly faced backlash from party workers, is pitted against politically-established Butail family’s son, Ashish Butail.

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Gujarat and Himachal Elections 2017: Can Congress stop a saffron sweep?

Counting of votes will be held tomorrow for the Gujarat and Himachal polls. The Gujarat Poll is considered a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state and a litmus test for new Congress president Rahul Gandhi.While the BJP is seeking a sixth straight term in office, the Congress is aiming to stage a comeback in power after being in the opposition for over two decades.The results are expected to have a bearing on the 2019 parliamentary polls also as Modi had come to power in 2014, based on the Gujarat ‘model of development’.Also readGujarat Election 2017: Confident of bagging more than two-third seats, says BJPThe much-awaited results of the keenly fought elections will be announced tomorrow when the counting of votes will be held at 37 centres across the state’s 33 districts, amidst tight security.The voting was held following an acrimonious campaign, where both the main political parties indulged in no-holds- barred attacks on each other.Also readGujarat Election 2017: Exit polls are ‘nonsense’, BJP will definitely lose, says Jignesh MevaniModi led the campaign for the BJP, while Rahul Gandhi was the pivot of the Congress’ electioneering.During the campaign, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah trained guns on the Congress on issues like Ram Temple, alleged Pakistani interference in the Gujarat polls and (suspended Congress leader) Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks.Also readHimachal Elections 2017: Exit Polls predict BJP will oust Congress in the hill state Gandhi persistently attacked Modi and the BJP for “not talking about the future of Gujarat” and skipping key issues being faced by the people of the state.The Congress also stitched about a broad social coalition with prominent Patidar, OBC, and Dalit leaders – Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jigesh Mevani – in its bid to unseat the BJP in power for over two decades.Patel led a long agitation of his community for reservation, while Thakor led an counter protest against inclusion of Patidars in the OBC reservation list. Mevani raised his voice against Dalit atrocities.The influential Patidar community, which accounts for around 12 per cent of the state’s population, could prove to be the ‘X factor’ in the polls in which Patel pledged support to the Congress and appealed to people to “uproot the BJP” this time.As the campaign was nearing its end, “Vikas” (development) took a back seat, and caste and religious issues received prominence.The two main rival parties also tried to counter each other on social media, as the Congress and its supporters launched the campaign “Vikas Gando Thayo Che” (development has gone crazy), while the BJP launched a counter drive of “I am development, I am Gujarat”.An average 68.41 per cent polling was recorded in the two-phase Assembly elections in Gujarat.According to the final figures released by the Election Commission, the voter turnout in the second phase of balloting on December 14, for 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat, stood at 69.99 per cent.In the first phase of polls held on December 9 for 89 seats in Saurasthra, Kutch and South Gujarat, 66.75 per cent voting was recorded.The total voter turnout this time has seen a dip of 2.91 per cent, as compared to the 2012 polls when 71.32 per cent polling was registered.In terms of numbers, of the total 4.35 crore registered voters, 2.97 crore exercised their right to franchise in the elections held on December 9 and 14.According to the EC data, the tribal-dominated Narmada district witnessed the highest voter turnout of 79.15 per cent, while Devbhumi-Dwarka of Saurashtra region recorded the lowest at 59.39 per cent.The districts which recorded a high turnout are Tapi (78.56 per cent), Banaskantha (75.15) and Sabarkantha (74.97). The districts which saw a low turnout are Amreli (61.29), Bhavnagar (61.56) and Porbandar (61.86).Out of the total 33 districts, 15 recorded over 70 per cent polling, while 17 others clocked between 60 per cent and 70 per cent.Only Devbhumi Dwarka district registered polling below 60 per cent.Counting in Himachal The fate of 337 candidates including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal will be known tomorrow as counting of votes is taken up in Himachal Pradesh where traditional rivals BJP and Congress have contested all 68 seatsThe hill state witnessed a record 75.28 per cent turnout and pollsters have predicted a BJP vitory.Adequate security arrangements have been made for counting which would start simultaneously in all 68 constituencies at 42 counting centres.Corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns at Chief Minister Singh, while the Congress hit out at the BJP over the issue of GST and demonetisation.The BSP contested 42 seats followed by the CPI(M) 14, the Swabhiman party and the Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI-3.Out of 67 sitting MLAs, 60 MLAS, nine cabinet ministers, HPCC president Sukhvinder Singh Sukkhu, state BJP chief, Satpal Singh Satti, Deputy Speaker, Jagat Singh Negi and eight Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) contested the poll along with a dozen former ministers.Himachal has a tradition of change in government after every elections and going by the trend, this time it is the turn of the BJP which is upbeat after exit poll results.There are 25 Congress, 28 BJP and four independent MLAs in the outgoing house while one seat was lying vacant after death of former minister Karan Singh from Banjar.Sitting Rajya Sabha member Viplov Thakur(Congress), former Lok Sabha members, Chander Kumar(Congress and Dr Rajan Shushant (Independent) and former Rajya Sabha member Kripal Parmar(BJP) are also among key contestants.While the BJP is confident of winning the polls with a comfortable majority, the Congress has rejected the exit-polls and claimed that it was all set to repeat.The BJP ousted the Congress in 1990 and the Congress avenged defeat in 1993. The BJP formed the government with the help of Himachal Vikas Congress in 1998 and the Congress was back in power in 2003. The BJP made a comeback in 2007.2,820 counting staff has been deployed for tomorrow’s exercise which includes counting supervisors, counting assistants and micro observers.Chief Electoral Officer, Pushpender Rajput said three- tier security arrangements have been made at all counting centres.He said wire mesh barricading has been done at counting centers and there was a separate entry passage for counting staff and counting agents.Videography and CCTV coverage will be done in all counting centres.

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RK Nagar By-poll: AIADMK distributrd Rs 100 crore among voters, alleges DMK’s Stalin; seeks ‘appropriate action’

DMK working president MK Stalin has alleged that the ruling AIADMK distributed over Rs 100 crore to voters ahead of the by-election in Chennai’s RK Nagar. In a letter to the Election Commission, Stalin claimed that the AIADMK paid Rs 6,000 to each voter.Stalin has asked the polls body to take appropriate action against AIADMK candidate E Madhusudhanan.”Take appropriate and necessary action against AIADMK and the erring officials and to ensure free and fair election RK Nagar Assembly Constituency,” he said in the letter.The RK Nagar Assembly constituency, which was represented by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, goes to the bypoll on December 21. DMK is going all out to wrest the seat from its arch rival after over two decades. AIADMK is also leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat. Also read RK Nagar by-poll: Madras HC dismisses plea to disqualify AIADMK and DMK candidates Chief Minister Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam and ministers are criss crossing congested lanes and by lanes of RK Nagar in Chennai. At the same time, AIADMK sidelined group, led by T T V Dhinakaran, is trying hard to prove to his rivals in mainstream AIADMK that he is the heir to Jayalalithaa’s welfare legacy. Also readRK Nagar Bypoll: 59 candidates in the fray for Jaya’s vacated seatDhinakaran, nephew of jailed leader V K Sasikala and contesting as an independent, is campaigning with vigour. Madusudanan, ruling AIADMK candidate, is also banking on his popularity in North Chennai, besides his party’s strength. Also readRejected, accepted, rejected: Drama unfolds over Vishal’s election nomination papers for RK Nagar bypollDMK nominee Marudu Ganesh, also a local up and coming party functionary, has accused the ruling regime of graft and assures he will address people’s issues, all of which have been left “unaddressed” by the ruling party. Jayalalithaa won the seat by a huge margin of 1.5 lakh votes in the 2015 bypoll. She retained it by a reduced margin of about 40,000 votes last year. From 1991 till the last year’s Assembly election, DMK has won the seat only once in 1996. In 2015, P Vetrivel (AIADMK) vacated the seat to pave the way for Jayalalithaa to contest after she was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in disproportionate assets case. (With PTI inputs)

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Jaitley calls for radical reforms in judicial and education systems

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today called for radical reforms in the judicial and education systems of the country, saying they were long overdue.He also said the youth needed to be adequately trained so that they became the future leaders in all walks of life.”Radical reforms are needed in our judicial and educational systems. Reforms have been very belated in these two areas,” Jaitley said, speaking at the 14th convocation ceremony of Symbiosis International (Deemed University) here.Without elaborating on the kind of reforms needed, he said every effort must be made to ensure that the millions of youth in the country were trained well, so that they became the future leaders in all walks of life.Jaitley advised the graduating students to prepare and train themselves to be eligible to serve those countries which were facing a crisis by way of population de-growth.”This is the best way to utilise our demographic dividend,” he said, adding that the government alone could not create enough jobs.In this context, Jaitley said the private sector needed to do more to train people and make them skilled and added, “Otherwise, our demographic dividend can become a liability.” Jaitley was, in fact, responding to the criticism and concern expressed by Symbiosis chancellor S B Mujumdar over a recent Supreme Court order, asking the University Grants Commission (UGC) not to allow any private institute to market itself as a university.Also readFirst time in history, govt to overtake disinvestment target, says Arun Jaitley In an order passed in early November, the apex court had directed the UGC to restrain all the deemed universities from using the word “university” in their names.Pointing towards the economic reforms of 1991, that had lifted the economy to its current heights, Jaitley said putting curbs had never worked in any sector and would not work going forward.”If the survival of the fittest is the rule, it has never been so true as it is today,” he said and urged the students to identify their key strengths and become the leaders of tomorrow as there was enough space for everyone to excel.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Constitutionally and financially ‘impossible’ to implement Congress manifesto, says Arun JaitleyIn his address, noted industrialist Rahul Bajaj, who was awarded an honorary D.Litt. degree by the institute, said there was a reason why industrialists and businessmen were hated by the public in general and the poor in particular.This was because the income inequalities had been on a steady rise, he said.The Bajaj group patriarch said this attitude was prevalent, despite the businessmen and industrialists being the highest taxpayers, creating wealth and generating jobs.He warned that if the inequalities were not looked at and arrested, “our country will not be far from the violent public protests seen elsewhere in the world”.”We should not continue to test the patience of the tens of millions of our poor people,” Bajaj said. Jaitley conferred doctoral, post-graduate and graduate degrees and diplomas to 3,450 students of 17 streams.

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Leaders at NDA meet seek all India judicial service

Some leaders of the BJP-led NDA have pitched for an all India judicial service on the lines of the civil services and sought a discussion on the matter in Parliament.The issue, which involves the demand for reservation in the judiciary for Dalits and backward classes, was raised in the meeting of top NDA leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, on Friday, the first day of the Winter Session, highly-placed sources said.A senior BJP leader told PTI that the matter was raised in the meeting by some members, who sought a discussion on the issue in Parliament.They said there should be all India judicial service like the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Police Service, he said on the condition of anonymity.The sources, however, declined to name the leaders who raised the issue at the meeting.A large section of politicians, especially those drawn from disadvantaged classes, has been vocal over the issue, citing minuscule presence of these communities, especially Dalits and STs, in the higher judiciary.The matter was in the limelight recently after President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his concern at a public event over “unacceptably low” presence of women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in the higher judiciary.Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha had demanded recently that gates of higher judiciary be opened for women and disadvantaged classes, claiming that most high court and Supreme Court judges have come from 250-300 families.”Not only for Dalits and backward castes, the door is closed even for people from general castes. Members of over 250-300 families have been becoming judges in high courts and the Supreme Court since Independence. Doors are closed for all others. They must be opened,” he had said at a public meeting to mark the death anniversary of B R Ambedkar.Dalit members of Parliament have long been raising the issue and saying that an all India judicial service will pave the way for reservation for the traditionally deprived sections of society in higher judiciary.

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Salman Khan set to push Nitin Gadkari’s e-cycles drive

You could soon see Bollywood superstar Salman Khan pedalling on the newly-built cycle track on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, promoting a healthy lifestyle as the brand ambassador of the government’s initiative to popularise e-cycles. Modi cabinet’s ‘go-getter’ minister Nitin Gadkari, a passionate advocate for electric vehicles, said the government wants to encourage cycling as a healthy mode of transportation. An e-cycle, which comes equipped with a small electric motor, can be used to cover greater distances than plain bicycles. “Salman Khan has discussed the issue with me. He is also looking into the aspects of manufacturing e-cycles. It will create huge awareness among the masses,” the road transport and highways minister told PTI. The ‘Being Human Foundation’ of Salman Khan, an avid cycler himself, is in talks with e-cycle manufacturers for a tie-up, sources said. The minister said some two to three years back when he started talking about environment-friendly fuel, people thought he was nuts, but now they are beginning to realise its advantages. “Bringing e-vehicles besides other environment-friendly fuel is my dream,” the minister said. Gadkari said the first leg of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, which includes India’s first 14-lane highway, has a 2.5-metre wide cycle track and is set for launch any day now after being completed in record 14 months as against the scheduled 30 months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31, 2015 had laid the foundation stone of the Rs 7,566 crore expressway, saying it will bring people “freedom from pollution”, the way Meerut showed the way towards freedom in 1857. The minister said almost all new highways and expressways will have separate cycle tracks and people will be encouraged to use those for last mile connectivity, thereby benefiting them health-wise as well. “I appeal to the countrymen to use bicycles as much as possible. It has huge health benefits and will go a long way in minimising vehicular pollution. “We have already proposed to make cycle tracks on all major roads across the country, including on highways. I am doing this in my constituency Nagpur also,” Gadkari said. He said cycling is the best form of transport to curb vehicular pollution and the government will not lag behind in creating world-class infrastructure for it, matching advanced countries. “In five years, I think we will be at par with advanced nations,” he said, adding when people in countries like Netherlands could do this, why not those in India. The image of a smiling Prime Minister Modi sitting on a bicycle, an unusual gift from his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, in June this year is still fresh in public memory. Rutte, 50, who usually pedals to work, had praised Modi for sustainable initiatives like ‘Clean India’ and ‘Make in India’. In Netherlands, known as the the flower shop of the world, cycling is a way of life with 18 million bicycles for just 16 million inhabitants, as per the Dutch government.

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BJP to contest Karnataka Assembly elections under Yeddyurappa’s leadership: Rajnath Singh

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will contest the upcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka under the “leadership” of former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, Union Minister Rajnath Singh announced today. Speaking at the BJP’s Parivartan Yatra in Bengaluru, the Union Home Minister said, “BJP to fight upcoming assembly elections in Karnataka under BS Yeddyurappa ji’s leadership.”Rajnath Singh was accompanied by BJP’s Karnataka unit chief Yeddyurappa, Union Ministers Ananth Kumar and Sadananda Gowda.Also readParesh Mesta death: BJP urges Karnataka Guv to intervene, Siddaramaiah says ‘unfortunate’ incident being politicisedThe elections for the 225-member house will be held in mid 2018 as the term of the Assembly expires in May.Earlier, BJP President Amit Shah had announced that Yeddyurappa would be the party’s chief ministerial face in the Assembly polls.Also readI am contesting assembly polls to prevent BJP coming to power: SiddaramaiahHe will face incumbent Siddaramaiah who has announced that this will be his last election. The Congress has announced Siddaramaiah would be the party’s face during the 2018 Assembly polls, and is yet to decide on the Chief Ministerial candidate.Yeddyurappa, 74, is an influential Lingayat leader, who had led the saffron party to its maiden victory in the southern state in 2008. He was forced to resign following charges of corruption against him. Also readKarnataka: Protest in Kumta turns violent over death of activist Paresh Mesta He floated his own outfit in 2011 which performed poorly in the 2013 Assembly polls but managed to wean away a substantial chunk of the BJP votes, leading to a rout of the saffron party. He returned to the BJP fold ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

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Bhagavad Gita Research Institute to be set up in Mathura

A research institute for the study of the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ will be soon set up by the Uttar Pradesh government in this temple town, a minister said.The Gita Research Institute has been proposed by the Yogi Adityanath government, Minister for Religious works and culture Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary said.”For research on Gayan (singing), Vadan (the art of music) and Nratya (dance) of the Krishna age, the government is setting up the institute,” the minister said.Speaking at the 144th anniversary celebration of the Government Museum, Mathura, the minister said no language in the world was as sweet as Brij Bhasha and no art was as gifted as the art of Mathura.Unfortunately, no efforts were made to promote these, he said.

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Muzaffarnagar riots: Non-bailable warrants against ex-Union Minister, BJP MP and MLA

A former Union minister, BJP MP and MLA are among 15 accused who have been issued non-bailable warrants (NBWs) by a Court in connection with 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in which about 62 people, including 42 Muslims were killed.The BJP MP Sanjeev Baliyan, who was former Union Minister for State for Agriculture and Food Processing and later moved to MoS for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is among the accused who have been issued NBWs by a Muzffarnagar Court.Prominent among others included BJP MP from Bijnore Kunwar Bhartendu Singh, BJP MLA from Budhana Umesh Malik, Sadhvi Prachi etc. Taking a serious view of their non-appearance in person, the Court has issued NBWs against them. The court has fixed January 19 as the next date for hearing the case.Also readNo ban on movie ‘Muzaffarnagar the Burning Love’ in UP: SC told In his defense, the former Union Minister Sanjeev Baliyan stated that he could not attend personally before the court as Lok Sabha session was on. “I have no intention to disrespect the court. I could not attend the hearing due to Lok Sabha session. My counsel will reply to the Court,” said Baliyan in a statement.Baliyan alleged that cases against him were politically-motivated. “I was not even present in the village and did not give any speech despite that Akhilesh government slapped fake cases against me other BJP leaders,” he charged.Also readHope floats for 18-year-old Muzaffarnagar riots survivorIn another case related to Muzaffarnagar riots, 11 accused including BJP Cabinet Minister for Sugarcane in Yogi Adityanath government Suresh Rana, BJP MLA from Sardhana Sangeet Som and Sadhvi Prachi are facing charges under different sections of the IPC.Described as the worst communal riots in recent times in the country, violent clashes took place between Hindus and Muslims over an alleged eve-teasing incident. The riots flared up following provocative and hate speeches by BJP MLAs and leaders on August 31, 2013, and September 7.Also readSangeet Som seeks ban on Jimmy Shergill-starrer ‘Shorgul’ based on Muzaffarnagar riotsHundreds of Muslims fled Mangla Nagaud and adjoining villages and have not returned home till date fearing a backlash. About 62 people, including 42 Muslims, were killed in the riots that broke out in the village.The Supreme Court had prima facie blamed the then Akhilesh government for its failure to curb riots which rendered hundreds of people homeless. When the communal riots broke out in Muzaffaranagar, then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his ministers were enjoying Saifai Mahotasav in their village in Etawah district.

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‘FRDI Bill will take away people’s bank deposits’: Mamata writes to Jaitley for immediate withdrawal

Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley urging immediate withdrawal of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI Bill) saying, it will take away people’s bank deposits.Terming the FRDI Bill as “draconian”, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has said it will oppose it tooth and nail in the Parliament and launch a massive campaign against it in the state.”People will lose faith in the banking system if the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill is not withdrawn. The FRDI Bill will completely shatter the age-old faith and trust reposed by the people in the banking system of the country,” Mamata Banerjee said in a letter to Jaitley, reported News18.com.A report said that Banerjee felt if the FRDI came into being, it would ‘forcibly’ take away the hard-earned life savings of common people entrusted to the banks, for ‘bailing out one section of vested interests, who have siphoned off the loans given to them by the banks”.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the government is working to protect the interest of bank customers and their deposits, in a bid to scotch rumours regarding the proposed Bill.Industry body Assocham has also said that experts felt the “bail-in” clause in the draft FRDI Bill, 2017 can potentially harm deposits in savings accounts.The FRDI Bill proposes to create a framework for overseeing financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies, non-banking financial services companies and stock exchanges in case of insolvency.The Resolution Corporation, proposed in the draft bill, would look after the process and prevent the banks from going bankrupt. It would do this by “writing down of the liabilities”, a phrase some have interpreted as a “bail in”.The draft bill empowers Resolution Corporation to cancel the liability of a failing bank or convert the nature of the liability.

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I am contesting assembly polls to prevent BJP coming to power: Siddaramaiah

Indicating that the 2018 assembly polls could “most likely” be his last election, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said that he is contesting to stop the BJP from coming back to power.”Most likely the forthcoming assembly election will be the last election for me,” Siddaramaiah told reporters at Raichur in north Karnataka.However, Siddaramaiah maintained that he would remain active in politics, but not contest assembly polls.Earlier during the 2013 assembly polls, Siddaramaiah had said that it was his last election.Conceding that he had during the 2013 polls stated it would be his last election, the Chief Minister said he was contesting to stop BJP from getting back to power.”Looking at elections and the political system,I had felt it is enough, but looking at communal politics by BJP, I felt I should stand for election. Also, the high command said that I should contest,” he said.”I have the responsibility to see to that BJP does not come back to power, so I’m contesting,” he added.The Congress has announced Siddaramaiah would be the party’s face during the 2018 Assembly polls, and is yet to decide on the Chief Ministerial candidate.Stating that he would contest from Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysuru district, Siddaramaiah said there are 20 constituencies other than that or Varuna from where he could contest and win.”Chamundeshwari is the constituency that gave me political strength and rebirth, so I felt I should end from there,” he said.Making his debut in the Assembly in 1983,Siddaramaiah got elected from Chamundeshwari on a Lok Dal Party ticket. He has won from the constituency five times and seen defeat twice.Siddaramaiah represents Varuna in Mysuru after it came into existence in 2008 following the reorganisation of constituencies.Speculations are rife that the chief minister is keen on fielding his son Yatindra from Varuna.

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BJP will register comprehensive victories in Gujarat and Himachal: RS Prasad

Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad today asserted that the party will register comprehensive victories in the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.The law and justice, electronics and IT minister said voters have full faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during whose tenure the country has witnessed “all-round growth”.”The people of Gujarat have not forgotten the economic progress and the excellent law and order that prevailed while Modi was the chief minister. The BJP is all set to retain power in the state with a comfortable majority,” he told reporters here.The minister also expressed confidence that the BJP will “win a thumping majority in Himachal Pradesh and dislodge the Congress from power”.Counting of votes in both the states will begin on December 18.Prasad arrived here on his way to Rohtas district, where he is scheduled to address a four-day training camp for the party’s state-level office bearers that began yesterday.”The country has witnessed all-round growth and new benchmarks of progress have been set under Modi’s leadership,” he said.There has been effective action against terrorists and the PM’s diplomacy has been a huge success, placing India among the strong nations of the world, he added.

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Swati Maliwal: Call to speed up child rape executions in India

A leading women’s rights advocate says the government should take tougher action on rapists.

BJP rakes up Madhu Koda’s sentencing to target Rahul Gandhi on his first day as Congress President

The BJP today dubbed the Congress as a “corrupt thought process” as it shrugged off Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as its president, saying its working style and “corrupt ways” remained the same.BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra launched a sharp attack on the Congress after Gandhi attacked the ruling party soon after replacing her mother Sonia Gandhi as its president.Patra cited the sentencing of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, who was supported by the Congress, in a corruption case to hit out at the party, claiming it would remain corrupt despite the change in leadership.He said it was an irony that despite the Congress not being in power for four years, corruption cases were still tumbling out and people jailed for corruption they did when it was in power.”This speaks volumes about the thought process, the working nature of Congress party. So a new president or an old president, the working style of Congress party, the corrupt ways of Congress party still remain the same,” he told reporters.He said when the Congress talks about a change in leadership, the country is seeing how during its 10-year rule, corruption of ten to fourteen lakh crore rupees took place under their very nose.”Congress is not an ancient thought process as claimed by a few, rather Congress is a corrupt thought process and that has been proved by the judicial process today,” Patra added.After assuming the leadership of the party, Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP of spreading hatred and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to medieval times.Also readRahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul Supriyo”The BJP is spreading hatred and communalism… they break, while we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it,” Gandhi said.Asked about the ‘Aag laga ke’ (ignite fire) comment, Patra said this is “not a decent way” to react.”Elections are won not because of riots on streets, not because ‘sadak pe aag laga ke’. Elections are won because the mantra of reform, transform and perform works in the country under the able leadership of Narendra Modi,” he said.Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi He went on to add that elections are won as people compare how during the UPA days, the direct benefit transfer (DBT) was not there and the money could not reach the pockets of poor man.”Today because of DBT, what the poor man deserves, reaches his pocket. Elections are won by giving LPG cylinders to the last man standing in the queue, when electricity reaches every village.”So my simple request is we should not demean the basic nature of democracy in the country. Democracy is vibrant in the country because development is taking place as never before,” he added.Patra said that today is an important day as Madhu Koda, who was the chief minister of Jharkhand with the support of Congress party, has been sentenced to three years in jail because of his involvement in the coal scam.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with him”We all know that Madhu Koda was an Independent MLA, but because of the fact that the government was formed with the outside support of the Congress party, the government then was almost a Congress government run by10 Janpath, 24 Akbar Road by the help of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel,” he said.

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PM Modi announces Rs 90,000 Cr for improving roads, highways in North East

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced Rs 90,000 crore for improving roads and national highways in the Northeast in the next two to three years to facilitate better connectivity.The prime minister dedicated to the nation a 271-km two- lane national highway connecting Tura in western Meghalaya and Shillong.Meghalaya was the second stop of the prime minister after Mizoram during his day-long visit to the Northeastern region today.”Over the next 2-3 years, an investment of about Rs 60,000 crore is proposed under the Special Accelerated Road Development Project (SARDP) in the Northeast and an investment of Rs 30,000 crore under Bharatmala is proposed for development of national highways in northeastern states,” Modi said while addressing a BJP rally here.He said the central government has sanctioned around 4,000-km of national highway (NH) across the Northeast at a cost of Rs 32,000 crore.Also readPM Modi inaugurates hydropower project in Mizoram, says northeast development is a top govt agendaThe prime minister said that over 1,200 km of NH was constructed at an expenditure of nearly Rs 14,000 crore during the last three years alone.Union Minister K J Alphons was present on the occasion.

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‘Absurd’ to suggest Delhiites bought expensive cars after Metro fare hike, says Union minister Hardeep Puri

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri today dubbed as “absurd” the suggestions that Delhiites shifted to other modes of transport like cab services or started buying expensive cars due to the recent metro fare hike.The comments come in the backdrop of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal having written a letter to Puri, seeking a review of the hike and reiterating his offer to partially bear the cost of the proposed “claw back”.”Desire to create false narrative on #MetroFare taking an amusing turn. It s being suggested those who weren t able to afford India s cheapest metro can actually afford to buy & run expensive cars or use cabs. You don t have to be an economist to see absurdity of this argument,” the Union minister said on Twitter.Hitting out at the AAP-led Delhi government, the housing and urban affairs minister said if the metro had become an “expensive luxury liner”, the city government should increase the number of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses.He also claimed that there was a 35 per cent dip in the DTC ridership.”If #Metro is an expensive luxury liner then #DTC should immediately buy more buses to make up for shortfall of 7000 buses & drastic 35% drop in ridership. Who s responsible for this? Surely Delhi citizens deserve both – an efficient & reliable DTC & much better arguments!,” Puri said in another tweet.In response to Kejriwal’s letter, the Union minister had said neither the Centre nor the Delhi government has powers to rollback the fares fixed by the fixation committee headed by a retired judge, and claimed that metro ridership on three different days in October this year were higher than the last year.However, an RTI query, revealed last month that the Delhi Metro lost over three lakh commuters a day after the steep fare hike came into effect on October 10.Puri had said that the dip in ridership could not be linked to the fare hike, which, the metro said, was necessary for maintaining “efficiency”.The metro fare hike has led to a rise of around Rs 10 for nearly every distance slab. The decision had come barely five months after the previous hike of up to 100 per cent.

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My mother will continue to contest from Rae Bareli, not me: Priyanka Gandhi virtually rules out Sonia’s retirement

Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra today put to rest the speculation over her contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Rae Bareli, saying her mother Sonia Gandhi would again be in the fray from the Parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.Rae Bareli is currently represented in the Lok Sabha by outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who passed on the mantle of the top party post to her son Rahul Gandhi today.There is a speculation in the media over Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra assuming an active role in politics to assist her brother, Rahul Gandhi.The speculation arose after Sonia Gandhi indicated her “retirement” yesterday.The Congress had, however, clarified that Sonia Gandhi was only retiring as the Congress president and not from active politics.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with him”There is no question of me contesting (the 2019 polls)…My mother will contest from there (Rae Bareli),” Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra said after Rahul Gandhi assumed charge as Congress president at an event at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here.She also lauded her mother, calling her the “bravest” woman for overcoming huge difficulties during her record 19- year tenure as the Congress chief.Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi (from Amethi) are the only two Congress representatives from Uttar Pradesh in the current Lok Sabha. Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi Soon after taking charge as the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi today launched a frontal attack on the BJP, accusing it of spreading hatred and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to medieval times.Gandhi said the BJP is “fighting for itself”, while the Congress is “fighting for everyone” in the country.Also readRahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul SupriyoThe Congress chief said he wanted the party to be an instrument of dialogue with people from all corners of the country, “all religions, all ethnicities, all ages and gender and for our dialogue to be led by love and affection”.He lamented that politics “was being used today to crush the people and not lift them up”.”The BJP is spreading hatred and communalism… They break, while we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it,” Gandhi said.”The Congress took India into 21st century, while the prime minister today is taking us backwards to medieval past when people are butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat,” he alleged.”This ugly violence shames us in the world,” he said in his first address to party men after taking over as the Congress president.47-year-old Rahul Gandhi took charge of the Congress in the presence of his mother and outgoing president Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, her husband Robert Vadra, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior party leaders.Reaching out to the youth, he said as “it is stated that the Congress is a grand old party we will make it a grand old and young party… We will fight all hatred with love.”Rahul Gandhi said the Congress party is like a family to him and vowed to take it forward.

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Rapists of minors should be hanged within 6 months: Swati Maliwal

Lamenting the “delay” in carrying out sentence of December 16 gang-rape and murder incident, Delhi Commission for Women Chief Swati Maliwal claimed the long winding legal process allowed the criminals to feel they can get away with such henious crimes.She urged the prime minister to bring in a legislation wherein at least those convicted of raping minors are given death penalty within six months.Nirbhaya, a para-medical student, was brutally gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. The incident took place while she was returning with a friend after watching a movie.She died 13 days after the incident at a hospital in Singapore.Of the six men arrested in the case, one of the accused Ram Singh hanged himself in prison in March 2013, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted in August. Last year, he was released from the correction home after serve the maximum sentence of three years in a reform home.The other four — Akshay, Vinay Sharma, Pawan and Mukesh — were found guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in September 2013. The Supreme Court also upheld the high court’s decision.”It’s the fifth death anniversary of Nirbhaya incident and the fact is that nothing has changed in this country.Everyday girls and women are being brutally raped in this country,” she said.Maliwal also highlighted the need for having fast-track courts in the city so that rapists are punished forthwith.Also, there is a need to upgrade the delivery mechanism of the forensic department as well as the accountability of the police, she said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”The system has made the criminals confident enough to believe that they can get away with any crime perpetrated against a woman or a child.”It is very unfortunate that even Nirbhaya herself has not got justice in this country. Nirbhaya’s mother is still running from pillar to post in order to ensure that her beloved daughter can get justice,” Maliwal said.The DCW chief said that at least in case of rape of minor girls, there should be a law in this country in which such rapists should be punished and given death penalty within six months.She also made an appeal to the prime minister to constitute a high-level committee on women’s safety in Delhi, having the Union home minister, the lieutenant governor, the chief minister, the police commissioner and the DCW representatives as its members, to take effective decisions on issues of women’s safety.Drawing the prime minister’s attention to the Nirbhaya fund, which has remained unutilised till date, Maliwal urged him to devolve the fund immediately to the states failing which the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme will lose its relevance.

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Five years of Nirbhaya case: Mamata Banerjee calls for keeping society safe

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today urged people to resolve to keep the society safe, recalling the brutal gang-rape and murder of a paramedic student in Delhi five years back.”Remembering #Nirbhaya on the 5th anniversary of brutal Delhi incident. We cannot compensate her loss but let us resolve to keep our society safe,” Banerjee wrote on Twitter.The 23-year-old woman was gang-raped on December 16, 2012 in a moving bus in Delhi, and later died in hospital.Earlier in the day, Delhi Commission for Women Chief Swati Maliwal lamented the long-winding legal process allowed the criminals to feel they can get away with such henious crimes.She urged the prime minister to bring in a legislation wherein at least those convicted of raping minors are given death penalty within six months.Nirbhaya, a para-medical student, was brutally gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. The incident took place while she was returning with a friend after watching a movie.She died 13 days after the incident at a hospital in Singapore.Of the six men arrested in the case, one of the accused Ram Singh hanged himself in prison in March 2013, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted in August. Last year, he was released from the correction home after serve the maximum sentence of three years in a reform home.The other four — Akshay, Vinay Sharma, Pawan and Mukesh — were found guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in September 2013. The Supreme Court also upheld the high court’s decision.”It’s the fifth death anniversary of Nirbhaya incident and the fact is that nothing has changed in this country.Everyday girls and women are being brutally raped in this country,” she said.Maliwal also highlighted the need for having fast-track courts in the city so that rapists are punished forthwith.Also, there is a need to upgrade the delivery mechanism of the forensic department as well as the accountability of the police, she said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”The system has made the criminals confident enough to believe that they can get away with any crime perpetrated against a woman or a child.”It is very unfortunate that even Nirbhaya herself has not got justice in this country. Nirbhaya’s mother is still running from pillar to post in order to ensure that her beloved daughter can get justice,” Maliwal said.The DCW chief said that at least in case of rape of minor girls, there should be a law in this country in which such rapists should be punished and given death penalty within six months.She also made an appeal to the prime minister to constitute a high-level committee on women’s safety in Delhi, having the Union home minister, the lieutenant governor, the chief minister, the police commissioner and the DCW representatives as its members, to take effective decisions on issues of women’s safety.Drawing the prime minister’s attention to the Nirbhaya fund, which has remained unutilised till date, Maliwal urged him to devolve the fund immediately to the states failing which the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme will lose its relevance.

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Coal scam: Ex-Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda sentenced to 3-year imprisonment

A special court on Saturday sentenced former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and ex-coal secretary HC Gupta to three years imprisonment in a coal scam.Ex-Jharkhand chief secretary AK Basu and Madhu Koda’s close aide Vijay Joshi were also awarded 3-year jail term.The court imposed fine of Rs 25 lakh on Madhu Koda and Rs one lakh on HC Gupta, and also convicted Kolkata-based company, Vini Iron and Steel Udyog LtdHowever, the court granted statutory bail for two months to convicts to enable them to challenge the conviction in the high court.Also readThose used to 2G, coal scam will have trouble with genuine taxes: Jaitley on Rahul’s Gabbar remarkThe court had held Koda and other accused persons, including ex-Jharkhand chief secretary A K Basu and private company Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd ( VISUL) guilty of corruption and other charges.The court had, however, acquitted four persons VISUL’s Director Vaibhav Tulsyan and two public servants Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan of all charges.Also readFresh CBI case in coal scam; FIR against Monnet IspatThe CBI alleged that the firm had applied for allocation of Rajhara North coal block on January 8, 2007.It said although the Jharkhand government and Steel Ministry did not recommend VISUL’s case for coal block allocation, the 36th Screening Committee recommended the block to the accused firm.The CBI said that Gupta, who was chairman of the screening committee, had allegedly concealed facts from then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who then headed the Coal Ministry too, that Jharkhand had not recommended VISUL for allocation of a coal block.Also readSupreme Court pulls up CBI for transferring coal scam head Investigator

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Five years of Nirbhaya case: DCW chief writes to PM on things remaining stagnant

Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal on Friday expressed the need to increase the punishment of rape cases of children to death penalty within six months of the crime. Maliwal wrote a detailed letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which she also stressed on the need to increase resources for police and forensic labs across the country.Mariwal’s letter to the prime minister comes on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the December 16 Delhi case in which a physiotherapy student was gang raped and murdered by a group of six people onboard a bus. The victim was accompanied by a friend who was also beaten up. Both of them were thrown out of the bus on the roadside.Maliwal also tweeted on the victim late Friday. “At the time of the incident, the nation cried for change, but in all this time things remain the same,” she said, further alleging that the money from the Nirbhaya fund that was established has not been used properly.”A report in UK’s The Guardian said that 24,923 rapes reported nationwide, 3,035 occurred in the large cities. “The number of reported rapes elsewhere in the country was more than seven times higher (despite some cases arguably going unreported) than the number of those reported in the main cities. But the police seem to be selective about what they investigate,” the report added.So why are so few rape cases reported? Studies suggest that women report crimes if female police officers are present. In March this year, the government admitted a shortage of women in the force, saying that only 7% of the total police strength in India comprised women.Secondly, the Indian police is short-staffed. A 2013 Indian Express report said that the rural police in the country did not even meet the 1960 standard, while a revelation in the Lok Sabha in 2016 showed that India was short of half a million police officers across the country.

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Rahul Gandhi to take charge as Congress president today: 10 updates

Rahul Gandhi will take over the reins of the Congress party on Saturday. This marks the beginning of the new era in the Grand Old Party, which has so far seen the leadership of Sonia Gandhi for 19 years.Ahead of the official elevation, here are the major updates on this political story:1: Rahul Gandhi will receive a formal certificate of being elected as the Congress president unopposed from the party’s central election authority at a function at the party headquarters in New Delhi today.2: The 47-year-old will take the charge from his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has been the longest serving president of the Congress.3: Sonia Gandhi, who became Congress president in 1998, steered the 132-year-old party for 19 years.Also readSonia Gandhi ‘retires’ as Rahul Gandhi takes the reins today4: Sonia Gandhi’s two-decade long stint saw the Congress-led UPA winning two successive Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and 2009 and formed UPA-I and UPA-II governments.5: On Friday, the media was abuzz with stories about Sonia Gandhi’s retirement.Also readIt’s official! Rahul Gandhi is new Congress president, to assume office on December 166: Congress, however, clarified that she is retiring from the post of party president and not from politics.7: The reluctance shown by Rahul Gandhi in his initial years of politics is now a thing of past.8: The Gujarat Assembly Election saw him in an alll-new aggressive avatar. Be it going to temples or questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter, Rahul Gandhi managed to infuse new energy in the party’s poll camapign.9: Though all major exit polls are showing the BJP victory in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the fact remains that this would be solely seen in comparison with Rahul Gandhi’s aggressive campaigning.10: At a time when the Congress has been reduced to limited political presence across India, Rahul Gandhi will have huge responsibility on his shoulders.

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Col Ashok Kumar Tara, a 1971 hero, who saved a young Sheikh Hasina, recounts Bangladesh liberation war

A battle-hardened veteran, who was in the midst of heavy action in Dacca (now, Dhaka) during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Colonel (retired) Ashok Kumar Tara, is no stranger to limelight.During the war, Colonel Tara was told to rescue Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s wife and family, which included his 24-year-old daughter Sheikh Hasina (current prime minister of Bangladesh) and her child.The family was held hostage by a dozen trigger-happy, heavily armed Pakistani troops at a fortified house in the Dhanmondi area in East Pakistan (now, Bangladesh).Tara, then a 29-year-old Major, managed to rescue the Bangabandhu family, in a do-or-die situation as he himself puts.”During this operation I had to face trigger-happy, heavily-armed Pakistani forces, who just killed a media person who had tried to reach to them. I was alone. And unarmed. I took this bold decision to win over them psychologically, because asking an extra force would have taken a lot of time. I knew chances were very bleak, but I went ahead, in what can be known as ‘The Battle of Guts and Wits’,” Colonel Tara tells ANI.He added, “Reaching the house where Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s family was under housearrest, they threatened to kill me. Their commander even ordered his men to load the weapon and was ready to shoot, but I stood my ground and repeatedly told them to surrender. However, I gave them an assurance of safe passage, so that they could go to their HQ. And from there to Pakistan to meet their families waiting for them. I finally got them surrendered and rescued the family. This was a do-or-die situation.”Colonel Tara, who retired in 1994, had already been awarded the Vir Chakra in the Battle of Gangasagar a few days ago.Elaborating on the above-mentioned battle, he said, “It was a railway station in East Pakistan (now, Bangladesh) opposite Agartala (in Tripura). It was an attack in file formation along the railway lines and was ‘Hand To Hand’, ‘Bunker to Bunker’. The battle went for about two hours. During the attack, I had to use maltove cocktail (patrol bomb), threw a hand grenade and pulled enemy medium machine gun from a bunker to destroy the enemy. For this, I was awarded the Vir Chakra.”Colonel Tara got recognition for his valour in 2012, when Dhaka announced it was conferring the ‘Friend of Bangladesh’ Award to him.Indira Gandhi, India’s Prime Minister in 1971, was conferred the award in her time.Earlier this year, Colonel Tara featured with Hasina and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the “Sommanona Ceremony” in New Delhi to honour the 1971 war martyrs.

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Don’t demolish jhuggies till winter is over: Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked all land-owning agencies in the capital to not demolish jhuggies and instead take a humanitarian approach till winter is here.The AAP chief told agencies to stop any demolition activity going around in the city even in future without organising ways to relocate or rehabilitate people.”Please do not demolish jhuggis till winters are over, say around February 28, next year. It’s very cold and take a humanitarian approach. Besides, no demolition should take place immediately without following the framework of the demolition policy,” said the CM in a statement issued by the Delhi government.However, the statement comes at a time when a number of homeless could be spotted sleeping on pavements in the open in the absence of enough night shelters in the city.The CM has also asked the land owning agencies to follow the protocol set for demolition in letter and spirit.”No demolition should be done in future also without proper rehabilitation or relocation of the slum dwellers. DUSIB will lay down the norms for demolition according to the notified Slum Policy and it will be applicable across the city and for all agencies,” Kejriwal said in the statement.The decision was taken in a meeting over slum policy on Friday, with the concerned departments including Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), Urban Development, Delhi Development Authority, and the three municipal corporations.The slum policy notified recently lays down guidelines for demolition and has made DUSIB the nodal agency for relocation/rehabilitation of the jhuggi-bastis.HomelessThe statement comes at a time when a number of homeless can be spotted sleeping on pavements in the open in the absence of enough night shelters in the city.

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INLD MP enters Parl complex on a tractor

The security staff at Parliament on Thursday was puzzled to see a tractor approaching the entry gate meant for members on the first day of the Winter Session. Soon, they realised the one who was driving the heavy vehicle was no intruder, but a Member of Parliament.The 29-year-old MP from Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) Dushyant Chautala chose to ride a tractor to Parliament to protest against a government’s decision that will put tractors in the category in the normal transport vehicles.”You can call this a protest. If the government thinks a tractor is like any other vehicle, then what’s wrong in driving it on the roads,” Chautala, the youngest Member of Parliament, said. Chautala represents Hisar in Haryana, an agrarian state, with a high farmer population.The young MP believes putting it in the category of any other vehicle will lead to heavy taxes on purchasing a tractor. “This will be a big burden for thousands of farmers who are already in distress,” he said. There was drama as he sat atop a green tractor and wanted to drive into to the parliament premises from the entry meant for MPs.He was asked to use another entry and park the tractor in a different parking. Chautala claimed he gave the vehicle number of the tractor to Parliament security as per protocol and he got the clearance.Garima Bhatnagar, Joint Commissioner of Police, said, “As per rules, tractor and trolley for commercial purposes is not allowed in the National Capital. However, in this case it was only a tractor and moreover there was prior permission from the parliament security.”While leaving Parliament, Chautala was stopped by Delhi Police from driving through the Rajpath. He offered to pay a fine and face any punishment if he was violating any rule. The amendment in the Motor Vehicles Act that Chautala was protesting against also intends to put a limit on loading farm produce in tractor which will further increase the farmers’ woes, Chautala said. He claimed to have red flagged the issue at an all-party meeting whcih was held ahead of the session on Thursday and with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

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Sonia Gandhi ‘retires’ as Rahul Gandhi takes the reins today

A day before Rahul Gandhi takes over the Congress, the outgoing party president and his mother, Sonia Gandhi, said on Friday that her role is to “retire” now, indicating she is taking a backseat in the party’s affairs.The party, in which a number of senior leaders are more comfortable with Sonia, rushed to add that she had retired as Congress chief and not from politics, reflecting the unease with the idea of her taking a complete break.There has been speculation whether Sonia will continue to hold the posts of UPA chairperson as well as Congress Parliamentary Party chief after Rahul’s elevation.Gandhi told mediapersons in the Parliament complex: “My role is to retire”. She was asked what role she will assume after Rahul’s elevation.Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala soon tweeted, “Would sincerely request friends in the media to not rely upon innuendos.” He said Sonia has retired as Congress president and not from politics. “Her blessings, wisdom and innate commitment to Congress ideology shall always be our guiding light,” he said.Former Union Minister Renuka Chowdhury said it was not easy for party members to accept that Sonia was going to quit politics. She said the leader would always be there to steer the party in the right direction.”(She) may say. It is part of her nature, her personality… she has never aspired for a post or clung to power”, Chowdhury said but added “for those of us who are around, it is not something that we can accept easily.”When Rahul replaces Sonia on Saturday, this will bring to an end her interrupted leadership in the party for 19 years, starting from 1998 during which the Congress-led UPA won two successive Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and 2009 and formed UPAI and UPAII governments.The party also recorded its worst-ever electoral performance in 2014, winning a mere 44 Lok Sabha seats.

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Congress disrupts Rajya Sabha over PM Modi’s remark

Parliament’s Winter Session got off to a fiery start with frequent disruptions in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, as the Congress demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his insinuation that his predecessor Manmohan Singh conspired with Pakistan to meddle in the Gujarat elections.The Opposition protested and raised slogans. There were three adjournments as Opposition leaders did not allow the proceedings to continue before the House was adjourned at 3 pm. The ruckus followed the Prime Minister’s comment earlier in the day that he hoped for a constructive debate in the Winter Session. The Lok Sabha was adjourned after obituaries.Modi had alleged during an election rally in Gujarat that some Pakistani leaders met Singh at a dinner hosted by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on December 6, suggesting they were hatching a conspiracy to influence the Assembly elections in the state.”This is not an ordinary allegation… against a former PM, Vice-President and Army chief,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said. He gave a notice under rule 267, seeking suspension of the listed business to discuss the issue.Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, presiding over his first full session after being appointed Vice-President, rejected the notice and asked the member to sit down. With more commotion, the House was adjourned.Naidu, known for his wit, did not hold himself back as there was continuous shouting by agitated members who also protested against the disqualification of JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar of the same party.”I don’t appreciate the conduct of coming to the Well. … There is a saying that all is well, not well. Try to understand this.”Amid the shouting, Naidu said there cannot be any discussion on the decision of the Chair. “There is no discussion on the ruling of the chairman. Please sit down.” “This is a political issue which you are raising, which you discuss outside the House.”When the House met again, Azad raised the issue amid uproar and it was adjourned again till 3 PM by Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien.Several Congress members, including Oscar Fernandes, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Renuka Chowdhury and Sanjay Singh, trooped into the Well of the House, shouting slogans.Kurien pleaded with members to take up the private members’ business but Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agarwal raised the issue of the Centre’s move to set up special courts for cases against MPs and MLAs, questioning the move.When Kurien said it was a decision of the Supreme Court, Agarwal said he had not criticised the top court but his questions were directed at the government.Congress leader Anand Sharma also got up and in support of Agarwal. Amid the chaos, Congress members once against tried to corner the government by shouting slogans demanding an apology from the Prime Minister.This is when the House was adjourned for the day.Private members’ bills including ‘The Educational Innovations Commission Bill 2017’ by Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and ‘The Prevention of Enforced Disappearance Bill 2017’ by V Vijayasai Reddy were introduced.

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Winter Session | Rather than demanding apology, Congress should say sorry for Pak meeting: NDA goes on counter-attack

The ruling NDA today decided to take a tough stand against the Opposition in Parliament after the Congress and other parties stalled the Rajya Sabha demanding an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remarks against former prime minister Manmohan Singh.At a meeting of top NDA leaders here, Modi asked the ruling alliance to strongly push the government’s legislative agenda in the Winter Session of Parliament, sources said. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that instead of attacking the prime minister, the Congress should apologise for the meeting held between its leaders, including Manmohan Singh, and Pakistani officials without informing the government.His remarks indicating a counter-offensive by the NDA in Parliament came after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till Monday following the opposition’s protests over Modi’s remarks at a Gujarat election rally in which the prime minister had accused Singh of colluding with Pakistan to influence the state polls. “Rather than demanding apology from Prime Minister, they (opposition) should apologise for what they have done…. Without informing the government their leaders met Pakistani officials,” Kumar said.Also readWinter session of Parliament: Amit Shah gets royal welcome from BJP MPs on first day in Rajya Sabha NDA sources said Modi referred to India’s progress on a host of issues, including its jump in the ease of doing business ratings and reform measures like the GST, to underline his government’s “able” handling of economy. A leader, who attended the meeting, said the prime minister also pointed out the government’s legislative agenda for the Winter Session and asked them to work together for pushing it in Parliament. The Prime Minister cited various important legislations listed in the session including a bill to to grant the constitutional status to National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) and muslim women protection of rights on marriage bill, and asked the leaders to ensure their passage in the session.Also readWinter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remarkModi also asked them to ensure presence of ruling alliance members in both the Houses. Earlier speaking in the BJP’s parliamentary party executive meeting also, the prime minister stressed on maximum attendance of the MPs in both the houses, BJP MP Sharad Tripathi, who was present in the meeting, said.Modi also emphasised that people should be made aware of the rates of the consumer goods which have come down following the reduction in GST rates, Tripathi added. The prime minister also spoke about the law enacted by his government that raised the maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks. He noted that Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, had praised the progressive law in her comments during her visit to India and said that even many developed countries do not have such a legislation.

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Mumbai: Government, Opposition at loggerheads over Shiv Jayanti at state assembly

The state assembly witnessed uproars with members from both Opposition and the Treasury benches rushing to the Well of the House when a BJP MLA raised the issue of birth date of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It was BJP MLA Suresh Halwankar who raised the issue soon after the question hour. Raising the issue through point of propriety, Halwankar said that despite the fact that Shivaji Maharaj is revered to every person of Maharashtra, his birth anniversary is celebrated on two different days. Halwankar said that state Government should decide it for once and all by appointing a committee of expert historians so that birth anniversary is celebrated on a single day through out the state. Soon Halwankar raised the issue, NCP MLA Jitendra Avhad and Veerendra Jagtap objected to it and rushed to the Well of the House. Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walase-Patil and leader of Opposition in state assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil also rose from their seats and Vikhe-Patil demanded removal of Halwankar’s remarks from the proceedings of the House.It was senior MLA Yogesh Sagar who was in the Chair but soon after pandemonium, Speaker Haribhau Bagade took charge and maintained that Halwankar’s remarks would not be removed from the proceedings. Avhad and Nitesh Rane said that the state would not tolerate any insult to Shivaji Maharaj and Halwankar was trying to create yet another controversy. Walse-Patil and Vikhe-Patil said that raising such issues would result in fomenting communal tension. MLAs from both the sides rushed to the Well of the House and started giving slogans. Members were in the Well of the House for almost 15 minutes and House could not transact any business during this time. It was Ajit Pawar who made a brief speech and said that Halwankar has expressed his views and Speaker has made it clear that every member has right to express his opinion, he has done it. Pawar said, `every year Chief Minister of the state pays his tribute to Shivaji Maharaj on February 19’th, the birth anniversary which was decided by an expert’s committee appointed by Government. If Halwankar has any issue, he can talk to Chief Minister since Halwankar is a BJP member. But I appeal everyone not to raise issues which would lead to controversy.’Speaking to media persons outside state assembly Halwankar alleged that committee was appointed during the tenure of Chief Minister Manohar Joshi but Congress-NCP Government which came to power started celebrating Shiv Jayanti on February 19’th. He said that there was no consensus among the historians on the issue of accurate birth date of Shivaji Maharaj and there are people who celebrate birth anniversary on April 8’th since they believe that birth date of Shivaji Maharaj falls on April 8’th, 1627. Sena MLA Sunil Prabhu made it clear that Shiv Sena would continue to celebrate Shiv Jayanti on his birth date as per Hindu calendar.

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Will complete full term with Sena support: Maha BJP plays down Aaditya Thackeray’s words

Ridiculing Shiv Sena next generation leader and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray’s statement that Shiv Sena would quit the Maharashtra government next year and would come to power on its own, senior Minister and BJP leader Chandrakant Patil said that the government will complete its five-year term. Currently BJP-Sena alliance is running government in the state. Patil also said that Sena will continue to be their alliance partner till the end of the term. Addressing a public meeting at Ahmednagar on Thursday, Aaditya Thackeray had said that next year Sena would pull out of the Fadnavis government and come to power on its own. Aaditya had said, `The exact timing of pulling out of government would be decided by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.’ Speaking to media persons outside Vidhan Bhavan, Patil said, `What I know is Shiv Sena would not pull out of government for five years.’ After much insistence on answering about the speculation that Narayan Rane will become minister by year-end, Patil said, ‘Yes, it will happen.’ Patil also said that post-Gujarat election results, he and CM Fadnavis will go to Delhi to discuss details about state cabinet expansion.

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Winter session of Parliament: Amit Shah gets royal welcome from BJP MPs on first day in Rajya Sabha

BJP president Amit Shah today made his parliamentary debut, occupying a front row seat in the Rajya Sabha on the opening day of the winter session.Shah, 53, who was elected to the Upper House of Parliament in August, walked in just minutes before the proceedings began. Members of the treasury benches, including several ministers, stood up to welcome him. Some thumped desks and others clapped as a smiling Shah greeted them with folded hands. He then went straight to his assigned seat in the front row.Shah has been allocated the aisle seat right next to the two-seat block were Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Prime Minister Narendra Modi sit. Rajya Sabha members sit in a semi-circle, facing the Chair. The semi-circle is divided into six blocks of seats separated by aisles. The ruling side is seated on the one side of the semi- circle and the principal opposition party, Congress on the other. Other parties including allies of the ruling party or those in the opposition occupy the middle blocks.Also readWatch: Pained by falsehood and canards spread by PM Modi, says Manmohan; Amit Shah hits back Jaitley and Modi have seats in the front row of the first block. Shah has been allotted the seat in the next block where he has the company of Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan and Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot. When Shah walked in ministers including Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar and I&B Minister Smriti Irani thumped and clapped to welcome him.After he was seated, some members walked up to him to greet him.Also readWinter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remarkThe seat allotted to Shah was previously occupied by M Venkaiah Naidu, who after being elected Vice President in August is now the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The front row seats in the block next of his has AIADMK and TMC leaders.The seats in the next block used to be occupied by Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), rebel JD-U leader Sharad Yadav and BSP’s Mayawati till the last session. However, with the CPI(M) deciding against giving Yechury a third term, his seat is now occupied by his fellow-comrade T K Rangarajan. While JD-U members have moved near treasury benches since Nitish Kumar broke ranks with Lalu Prasad’s RJD and joined the NDA, its rebel leader Sharad Yadav has been disqualified. The BSP supremo quit the Rajya Sabha in July, complaining that her voice was being muzzled. After her resignation, her seat has been given her confidante and BSP leader Satish Mishra

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‘All in Well, not well’: When Chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s one-liners livened noisy RS proceedings

It was Day One of the Winter Session for Venkaiah Naidu as Rajya Sabha Chairman and the VP didn’t disappoint regaling the Upper House with his witty one liners. However, Congress MPs still fuming over PM Modi’s Pakistan remark during Gujarat campaign might have been too livid to see the funny side. On not finding Tiruchy Siva, a DMK MP from Tamil Nadu in RS, the VP quipped that Siva was missing and made a joke about Lord Shiva’s omnipresence as he remarked, that ‘Shiva was everywhere but not here in the house’.Also readNo need to beg, we are independent: RS Chairman Venkaiah Naidu asks members to get rid of colonial terms Another funny repartee came when SP’s Naresh Agarwal tried to raise a point regarding the disqualification of two former JD(U) members of the House.The Chairman did not agree with him saying there is no “point … in your point of order”. He also said the matte cannot be discussed as it is a decision of the Chair.Also readManmohan Singh meets Venkaiah Naidu on eve of Parliament sessionJoining the issue, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the opposition was not challenging the decision taken by the Chair and wanted to say something more, but Naidu repeated that it was not a matter up for discussion.Meanwhile, when Naidu asked A Navaneetha Krishnan (AIADMK) to go ahead with his Zero Hour mention regarding cyclone in Tamil Nadu, Congress and SP members trooped into the Well raising slogans.Also readPM Modi attacks Congress, Kapil Sibal for linking Ram Mandir with Lok Sabha electionsThis angered the VP no end, as he asked them to return to their seats but they continued to raise slogans. “You want to do like this on the first day…All in Well not well…,” he said and adjourned the House till noon. And that ended a nondescript day in Rajya Sabha where no work was done but the mood was certainly livened up by our quirky new Chairman who has a way with words. Opp leaders protest rejection of notice to discuss PM Modi’s Pakistan remarkOpposition leaders today protested the rejection of their notice in the Rajya Sabha demanding an explanation and apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “conspiracy with Pakistan” remark involving his predecessor Manmohan Singh.The leaders termed the comment “unfortunate” and told reporters outside the House it was “disappointing” that Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu did not allow a discussion on the notice.They also objected to the “illegal disqualification” of rebel Janata Dal (United) leaders Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari.In place of Yadav and Ansari, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar should be disqualified for breaking away from the grand alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, they said.”We gave a notice, but the chairman adjourned the House and did not let us raise the issue. We are disappointed. The chairman should have given us permission. This is a national… international issue,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.At an election rally in Gujarat on Sunday, Modi had suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the state assembly polls.He had claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house over dinner on December 6.Azad said the prime minister should come to the Rajya Sabha and explain his remarks to its members.His party colleague Anand Sharma, Naresh Agarwal of the SP and D Raja of the CPI said the people concerned should be punished if the allegations levelled by Modi were true.”But if it is false, if he levelled such a big allegation to polarise the people in view of the Gujarat polls, then he should apologise not only to the House but also to the people of the country,” Azad said.Raja said it was “not correct” on Modi’s part to cast aspersions on Singh.The CPI national secretary said Modi should have called up his predecessor if he had any information on the “conspiracy” issue.”He should have done it, but the way he raised the issue in an election campaign… It is highly objectionable. It is not good for democracy,” Raja said, asking the government to respect the Opposition.Sharma said it was “undemocratic” that the Opposition’s voice was being “muzzled”.He said the prime minister was “aware” of the notice and could have “used the opportunity to clarify his remarks, express regret and apologise”.”But the prime minister and the dispensation are arrogant and confrontational. And this is most unfortunate. This attitude does not augur well for democracy. It is an ominous development on the first day itself,” Sharma said.With inputs from PTI

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No show on Day 1 of Winter Session as RS and LS adjourned

The proceedings of the Lok Sabha on the first day of the Winter Session were adjourned today after the House paid tributes to three sitting and seven former members who died during the inter-session period.Rajya Sabha also adjourned for the day as uproar by Cong members continued. Opposition leaders protested the rejection of their notice in the Rajya Sabha demanding an explanation and apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “conspiracy with Pakistan” remark involving his predecessor Manmohan Singh.The House would now meet on Monday.Also readWinter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remarkAs soon as the House assembled, newly-elected Congress member from Gurdaspur Sunil Kumar Jakhar was administered the oath, which he took in Punjabi.Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted Jakhar with a handshake when the former greeted him with folded hands after taking oath.Also readManmohan Singh meets Venkaiah Naidu on eve of Parliament sessionThe Gurdaspur bypoll was necessitated following the demise of BJP member and cine star Vinod Khanna.After the oath of the new member, Modi introduced new ministers to the House. These included Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman who were elevated as Cabinet ministers in the September 3 rejig of the council of ministers.The new faces are ministers of state (independent charge) R K Singh, Hardeep Puri, K J Alphonse and ministers of state Shiv Pratap Shukla, Virendra Kumar, Ananth Hegde, Gajendra Shekhawat and Satyapal Singh.Making obituary references, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan informed members that three sitting Lok Sabha MPs — Sultan Ahmed (TMC), Chand Nath (BJP) and Tasleem Uddin (RJD) had passed away recently.Seven other former members — Vikram Mahajan, Ram Singh, R Keishing, P C Barman, Dhanraj Singh, Amal Datta and Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi also died during the inter-session period.The House was also introduced to the new Secretary General, Snehlata Shrivastava, who took over on December 1. A former IAS officer, she is the first woman Secretary General of the Lok Sabha.Before the proceedings began, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met leaders of various parties.When the Prime Minister entered the House, he greeted the members from the opposition benches with a ‘namaste’ and bowing his head.Rajya Sabha also adjourned for the day as uproar by Cong members continued. Opposition leaders today protested the rejection of their notice in the Rajya Sabha demanding an explanation and apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “conspiracy with Pakistan” remark involving his predecessor Manmohan Singh.The leaders termed the comment “unfortunate” and told reporters outside the House it was “disappointing” that Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu did not allow a discussion on the notice.They also objected to the “illegal disqualification” of rebel Janata Dal (United) leaders Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari.In place of Yadav and Ansari, Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar should be disqualified for breaking away from the grand alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, they said.”We gave a notice, but the chairman adjourned the House and did not let us raise the issue. We are disappointed. The chairman should have given us permission. This is a national… International issue,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.At an election rally in Gujarat on Sunday, Modi had suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the state assembly polls.He had claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house over dinner on December 6.Azad said the prime minister should come to the Rajya Sabha and explain his remarks to its members.His party colleague Anand Sharma, Naresh Agarwal of the SP and D Raja of the CPI said the people concerned should be punished if the allegations levelled by Modi were true.”But if it is false, if he levelled such a big allegation to polarise the people in view of the Gujarat polls, then he should apologise not only to the House but also to the people of the country,” Azad said.Raja said it was “not correct” on Modi’s part to cast aspersions on Singh.The CPI national secretary said Modi should have called up his predecessor if he had any information on the “conspiracy” issue.”He should have done it, but the way he raised the issue in an election campaign… It is highly objectionable. It is not good for democracy,” Raja said, asking the government to respect the Opposition.Sharma said it was “undemocratic” that the Opposition’s voice was being “muzzled”.He said the prime minister was “aware” of the notice and could have “used the opportunity to clarify his remarks, express regret and apologise”.”But the prime minister and the dispensation are arrogant and confrontational. And this is most unfortunate. This attitude does not augur well for democracy. It is an ominous development on the first day itself,” Sharma said.

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Techfest 2017: IIT-Bombay gears up for its biggest event; Hamid Karzai, Pranab Mukherjee to address students at the fest

Hamid Karzai, Former President of Afghanistan along with Pranab Mukherjee will address thousands of students of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) on like various topics including the Indian Economy, Sustainable Development and Digitalisation during its annual science and technology festival between December 29-31.Along with them, Manohar Parrikarl, Chief Minister of Goa and Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation will also address the students at the convocation hall of IIT-B. While Mukherjee, Parikar and Sinha will address on December 29, Karzai will address on December 31.”The themes of the festival are Digitalisation, Sustainability and Biotechnology as we identified that technological advancement in these segments need to be stressed upon considering the current nation’s scenario and the world at large, said IIT-B in a statement.”Apart from futuristic exhibits coming from all over the world, Techfest will have the honour to host some of the best machines and equipment from Indian Army, Indian Navy and DRDO,” IIT-B said in a statement. Techfest is scheduled to take place on 29th, 30th and 31st December this year, that will see many international students participate in various events of the festival. Students from USA, Canada, UK, China, Italy, Afghanistan, UAE will participate for the festival, however students from Pakistan will not be among participating country for techfest this year too.

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Winter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remark

Day after the final phase of Gujarat Assembly Elections, the Winter Session of Parliament will begin today.The session will witness a stormy start with the Congress demanding apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his Pakistan remark.During an election rally in his home state, PM Modi had alleged that former PM Manmohan Singh and other senior members of Congress were colluding with Pakistan for Gujarat Assembly polls.Talking to reporters, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday said, “For the first time a Prime Minister has accused Former PM, former Vice President and diplomats of conspiring with Pakistan for Gujarat elections. PM must clarify in the Parliament.”Ahead of the session, PM Modi said that he expected a ‘fruitful session.” He also said that, “I hope for positive and innovative arguments.”Also readDay after Gujarat polls, Parliament’s Winter Session to begin todayOn Thursday also, after an all-party meeting, the Congress had demanded PM’s apology.Also readWinter Session: As Congress sulks over Pak allegations, PM seeks cooperation at all-party meet”Either the government should prove the claim or the Prime Minister must apologise… Nothing short of an apology will satisfy us,” Congress leader Anand Sharma had said.The BJP, however, has already rejected the demand. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in fact, termed the dinner at now-expelled Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence as a ‘political misadventure’.Interestingly, BJP president Amit Shah will make his Parliamentary debut in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session today.The Winter Session will provide a total of 14 sittings spread over a period of 21 days including four Private Members’ days. Further, 25 Bills are pending in the Lok Sabha, while 39 Bills are pending in the Rajya Sabha

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Big Q on sarkari schemes raises brows

One may find controversy in everything if the intent is inquisitive. And that is what happened on Thursday after questions regarding various plans of the Centre and the state government were asked to students in an examination regarding “Samajopyogi Yojnain”(Social beneficiary Schemes).This question paper was meant for the half-yearly examinations which is currently underway in government schools across the state. Fifteen out of 17 questions were related to the plans of the Central and State Government in the paper.Questions related to the Modi government’s flagship scheme Swachh Bharat Mission, Make in India, Prime Minister Skill Development Scheme were asked. Similarly, the state government’s flagship scheme were also included in the question of Chief Minister’s Jal Swavalamban Scheme and Bhamashah Yojana. In this paper, only questions related to the plans of Modi and the Raje government were put forth. The paper did not include questions related to any scheme of the UPA government and the Ashok Gehlot government. After the examination, the question paper was posted on social media for the usual banters and barbs.Congress stood in opposition to this paper. Expressing concern over the move of the Education Department, Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, President of Jaipur District Congress Committee, said, “There is no achievement of the State Government. Education is being politicised. This is how the government wants the students to ‘know’ about the current schemes.”Congress, he said, will take every possible step against this “Bhajpaikarn” of education.Several teahcers who spoke on condition of anonymity also condemned such a move but could not come out in the open due to occupational hazards.It may be noted that this question paper was made available to the DNA by one such teahcer.“The name of the subject itself is social schemes. Hence the questions of the Central and State Government schemes were included in it. This will enable students to get an overview of the schemes when they study about it and hence be capable of utilising the same to their own benefits,” Daya Shankar, District Education Officer(Secondary), Bikaner. Tough nut to crack?This question paper was meant for the half-yearly examinations which is currently underway in government schools across the state. Fifteen out of 17 questions were related to the plans of the Central and State Government. The state government’s flagship scheme were also included in the question paper.

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CM Nitish Kumar calls for community partnership for effect liquor ban enforcement

A day after BJP-ally and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi alleged that liquor was freely available to bureaucrats, officers and those who could “afford” it in dry Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday also expressed concern over bootlegging and sought community partnership to bring an end to it.Addressing the general public in Sitamarhi district on the third day of his “Vikas Karyon Ki Sameeksha Yatra,” Nitish conceded that illicit liquor trade was thriving in dry Bihar. “Everyone needs to remain vigilant and the whistleblowers will get protection. Their identities will not be revealed,” he said.The CM said that local police helpline and control room numbers were displayed at public places and urged women and youngsters to support their efforts in ban implementation. Total alcohol prohibition was enforced in Bihar on April 5, 2016, “especially on the strong demand made for it by the womenfolk of the state.”Nitish said there were few people who had made it a lucrative business but the state government was in process of establishing a special cell for ensuring effective prohibition.Earlier on Wednesday, Manjhi, also the leader of Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular, had dared the state to use breathalyzers on its senior officials, to expose who all were still consuming alcohol. “I have said it as a friend of Nitish. Everyone knows that the poor are targeted whereas the higher rung of the society is easily getting away despite defying the ban,” Manjhi reiterated on Thursday.Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has also continuously made charges of liquor ban “failing” in Bihar. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has alleged “home delivery” of liquor, which is smuggled in the state through Nepal and Jharkhand, though the government has denied it.

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Gujarat elections 2017 | BJP to form govt with record-breaking number: Vijay Rupani

Exit poll trends, predicting a clear win for Bharatiya Janata Party, led to celebratory mood in BJP camp. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state BJP president claimed BJP was on course to break many records in the state.Rupani said people of Gujarat had celebrated the festival of democracy with great enthusiasm. “All the exit polls have showed that BJP is forming the government. Gujarat has shown path to entire nation and has always preferred value-based politics. The BJP never followed nepotism or vote-bank politics. The BJP will win with the maximum seats in Gujarat by creating a history,” he said.”The Congress has conceded defeat and therefore they desperately made complaints before Election Commission. They did this as a part of face saving exercise for Rahul Gandhi. This is the chariot of victory that has passed through Gujarat after other states like UP and now this will proceed towards other seats,” Rupani further said.Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani said, “I thank all Gujarati voters for showing continuous support in BJP as the party is forming government in Gujarat for sixth consecutive time. This is a start of new era and these moments will be written in golden words in pages of political history of Gujarat. People have rejected casteism and nepotism, but embraced development. People have shown faith in PM Modi who is the pride of Gujarat. I should also acknowledge that our leader Amit Shah guided entire organisation in great manner.”CM CONFIDENTAll the exit polls have showed that BJP is forming the government. Gujarat has shown path to entire nation and always preferred value-based politics. BJP never followed nepotism or vote-bank politics, CM said.

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BJP exudes confidence after Exit Polls predict wins in Gujarat and Himachal, Congress says wait for D-Day

The BJP looks headed for facile victories in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, exit polls by various media houses concluded unanimously after a rancorous campaign which saw sharp exchanges between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress’s president-elect Rahul Gandhi.Almost all exit polls predicted more than 100 seats for the BJP in Gujarat where the party has been ensconced in power for close to two decades now.In Himachal Pradesh, where the electorate has chosen the Congress and BJP alternately in Assembly elections, the exit polls projected a clear majority for the saffron party, unseating the Congress.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Congress files anticipatory complaint with EC against PM Modi’s ‘roadshow’Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman claimed that the BJP was always confident of its victory and the exit polls have predicted the same.”We have been confident from the beginning that we will be able to work with the voters in Gujarat, we will be able to communicate with them. Our good work in the last several governments that we have had, has been repeatedly called by the voters themselves. We have more work to do towards development which is ‘sab ka sath, sab ka vikas’,” she said.Also readGujarat elections 2017: ‘Modi, Modi’ chants and 500-metre walk – When PM Narendra Modi stood in queue to cast his vote The minister, a former BJP spokesperson said, Gujarat was a state which was very conscious about development. It was aware of what was happening around the globe and would want to be aligned with international financial markets, she said.Also readAs Gujarat campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP: Rahul Gandhi in Kerala Sitharaman said the state valued the importance of peace and harmony, and of good governance.”I think our plank that only development can bring in equality-based development has been acceptable for the people.And that s what exit polls show. We will wait for the 18th, we are confident we will make it,” she said.The Congress was, however, sceptical about the predictions, with party spokesperson Shobha Oza insisting exit polls have proved wrong in elections before, and claiming it will emerge victorious.”I don’t know how much you trust the exit polls. We have seen exit polls in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Punjab. All of them proved to be wrong. So, how much can one trust the exit polls.”We will wait for the 18th for the real results. Let’s not take these exit polls too seriously. We have seen them go wrong in many states in the past,” Oza said, adding “definitely, we are winning in Gujarat.”Today’s Chanakya gave BJP 135 seats in Gujarat and predicted a measly 47 for the Congress, 14 less than the opposition party has in the current Assembly. It predicted a voteshare of 49 per cent for the BJP and 38 per cent for challenger Congress.A party or an alliance has to win at least 92 seats in the 182-member House to form government in Gujarat.In the 2012 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 115 seats, the Congress 61 and others six.The Times Now-VMR Exit poll predicted 113 seats for the BJP and 66 for the Congress, with the remaining going to others.The Republic-C Voter Exit Poll gave the BJP 108 seats and the Congress 74.The ABP-CSDS exit survey by ABP News predicted a BJP victory in 117 seats as against the Congress’s 64.The NDTV said the BJP was likely to clinch 112 seats and the Congress 70.A survey by India Today’s ‘Aaj Tak’ news channel also predicted that the BJP would retain power in the state, winning anywhere between 99 and 113 seats. Aaj Tak’s was the lone survey that said the BJP’s tally could slip under 100.It projected 62 to 82 seats for the Congress.India TV-VMR survey also forecast a BJP win, with the party likely to clinch anywhere between 108 and 118 seats. The Congress, it said, could win 61 to 71 seats.The survey said the BJP could garner 48 per cent of the votes polled, the Congress 41 and others 11 per cent.The News X Exit polls gave 110-120 seats to BJP and 65 to 75 seats to the Congress, leaving 2-4 seats for others, while the News Nation exit polls gave the BJP as many as 124-128 seats and the Congress between 52 to 56 seats and 1-3 for others.In Himachal Pradesh, the exit polls predicted the BJP’s return to power with a comfortable majority.Today’s Chanakya gave the BJP 55 seats and to the ruling Congress 13 seats, with the remaining to others. It also predicted a margin of plus/minus 7 seats.The Aaj Tak-Axis exit poll gave 47-55 seats to the saffron party, 13-20 to the Congress and 0-2 to others.The ABP News-CSDS exit poll predicted 38 seats for the BJP and 29 for the Congress, with one to others.Among other exit polls, the News X survey predicted 42-50 seats for the BJP and 18-24 for the Congress.Congress had returned to power in Himachal Pradesh in 2012 pocketing 36 seats, marginally more than the half-way mark, while the BJP secured 26. The others had bagged the remaining six.

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Winter Session of UP Assembly starts on a stormy note

The Winter Session of the UP Assembly began on a stormy note on Thursday when opposition created ruckus disrupting proceedings and forcing several adjournments.Opening day’s proceedings began on stormy note when the Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary raised and sought a debate on steep hike in power tariff and demanded its rollback during the question hour.Following refusal from the Chair, members of the Samajwadi Party, carrying placards for rollback of hike in power tariff, stormed the Well and raised anti-government slogans. The house was adjourned thrice following disruption by the opposition members.“We will not allow the House to run till our demand is met. Power hike was causing a blow to farmers, poor and middle class at a time when prices of essential commodities are spiralling due to the wrong policies of the Central government,” charged the Leader of Opposition.Despite request from the Speaker HN Dixit to maintain calm and let the proceedings continue, unruly Samajwadi Party members continued to stage prorest in front of the Well and staged a boycott. The Congress too supported the issues raised by the SP members. The question hour in both houses of the State Legislature could not be taken up due to opposition disrupting proceedings.Also readUP CM Yogi Adityanath to trim 94 government depts to 37The House was adjourned for most of the day when Speaker’s plea went unheeded. The Parliamentary Minister Suresh Khanna said that after losing 2014 Lok Sabha, 2017 Assembly and now urban local bodies’ polls, the opposition is taking out its frustration on the floor of the house by creating ruckus to draw attention of the people who voted them out. “They are rendered unemployed by the people of the state. They have no work but noise to make,” charged the minister.Similar unruly scenes were witnessed in the Upper House (UP Council) when Samajwadi Party launched an attack on the ruling BJP on deteriorating law and order and shortage of seeds and fertilizers for the farmers. Carrying placards and donning sports caps with anti-government slogans written on them, Samajwadi Party and BSP members also raised the issue of faulty and rigged EVMs used during recently-concluded elections. Repeated requests from the Chairman Ramesh Yadav to maintain order were ignored the noise and din created by the opposition members forced the Chairman to adjourn the Upper House for the day.

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INS Kalvari, Scorpene-class Make in India submarine, commissioned into Indian Navy; all you need to know

INS Kalvari, the Scorpene-class submarine and a Make in India initiative, was commissioned into the Indian Navy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday in Mumbai.“To dedicate this submarine to the nation is an equal proud moment for me. After a gap of nearly two decades India has got this kind of a submarine and Kalvari is a fine example of the Make-in-India testimony. It is also a good model for international collaboration,” Modi said at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.<</p>Here is all you need to know about INS Kalvari:1. Designed by French naval defence company DCNS, INS Kalvari is a silent diesel electric attack submarine.2. The submarine has superior stealth features like low radiated noise levels, advanced acoustic silencing techniques, hydro-dynamically optimised shape and it has precision-guided weapons to launch a deadly attack on the enemy.3. INS Kalvari has the ability to carry out various type of missions like anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, laying mine, gathering intelligence and surveillance of areas.4. Submarine Tactical Integrated Combat System (SUBTICS) of INS Kalvari has the ability to gather and process information from onboard sonars which helps to detect hidden targets and enemies.5. The submarine has infrared or low level cameras and laser range finders to locate enemy targets on sea surface.6. INS Kalvari, named after deep-sea tiger shark, has a speed of 20 knots with SM-39 Exocet missiles and heavy-weight torpedoes. 7. With height of 12.3 metres and length of 67.5 metres, it weighs 1,565-tonne.8. INS Kalvari is the first conventional submarine to be commissioned in the Indian Navy after 17 years. The first time ever a submarine was inducted in the Indian Naxy was from Russia in 1967.9. After being inducted in Indian Navy, INS Kalvari underwent extensive trials and checks for 120 days.10. The first of the six Scorpene-class submarines, is part of the Indian Navy’s ‘Project-75’ costing Rs 23,652.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | In Behrampura, lack of parking near polling booths pushes people away from voting

Residents of Behrampura in Gujarat that goes to polls today in the second phase of the assembly elections stated a strange reason for not casting their votes.According to Nasir Mirza, a local in the area, the residents have an issue with the traffic jams and the lack of parking facilities near polling booths. “The streets have been crowded as if India and Pakistan are playing an ODI match. There is no space to move or park vehicles,” he said.Earlier in the day, voting began in the second and final phase of the Gujarat Assembly Elections . Over two crore voters are casting their ballots to seal the fate of 851 candidates contesting for 93 seats across 14 districts in Gujarat.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 LIVE UPDATES: Polling for second phase underway, 7% turnout recorded till 9 amSome of the prominent names who cast their vote included BJP President Amit Shah, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother Heeraben.

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India-South East Asia links have been deep: Dharmendra Pradhan

A conference titled India-ASEAN [email protected] was held on December 13 at the Taj Mansingh. The event was organized by Kalinga International Foundation (KIF), a think tank that brings together the east and north-eastern region of India with our neighbours, the ASEAN states and the wider Indo-Pacific region. The Conference started at 2 PM and had as its Chief Guest Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, at the inaugural session.There were five thematic sessions that included the inaugural and valedictory, with the participation of distinguished scholars, former diplomats and ambassadors of the ASEAN states.The inaugural session called the India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership and the Act East Policy was followed by a session on Economic Co-operation with ASEAN, Regional and Bilateral Co-operation, Security Challenges, and The Importance of the North East and Eastern Region of India for the Act East Policy. Pradhan spoke of Odisha’s deep interactions seeped in history with South-East Asia.“Our interactions over centuries have extended beyond Indonesia to include expressions of shared heritage and culture that are dotted across the region and find expression in strains of the everyday life of the people. Historically and culturally, the links between India and South-East Asia have been deep and profound,” Pradhan said.CONFERENCEThe Conference started at 2 PM and had as its Chief Guest Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, at the inaugural session. There were five thematic sessions.

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Global Partnership Summit: Japan relaxes visa norms for Indians

Former Japanese foreign minister Nobuo Kishi, who is also younger brother of current PM Shinzo Abe on Wednesday said his country was relaxing visa procedures for Indians from January 2018 to further cement people-to-people relations between the two countries. Speaking at the Global Partnership Summit (GPS) Kishi pitched for greater Indo-Japan cooperation in the strategically key Indo-Pacific region and praised PM Modi’s Act East policy that encompasses a robust outreach to East Asian nations. Experts believed that by connecting India and Pacific, Japan was quietly challenging China’s aggressive plans in the South China Sea and want India to emulate its strategy to eliminate any threat to the energy lane that sustains economy of both energy started nations.He said Tokyo will relax rules for multiple entry visas for short term stay for Indian passport holders. India has already announced visa-on-arrival facility to Japanese nationals. Japan has extended the validity period of such visas from a maximum of three years to five years. The duration of visit on multiple entry visas, including tourism and business, has also been increased to 30 days from 15 days. India and Japan had agreed to ease visa restrictions during Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India in December 2015. The eligibility for multiple-entry visas has been expanded to include people with travel records to Japan for short-term visit in the past three years.Kishi stressed on the importance of facilitating exchanges between people of the two countries. India and Japan have also been seeking to enhance cooperation among the businessmen of both countries. Tough visa norms were often cited as a hindrance by businessmen of both countries.Japan has already extended the validity of visas for business purposes and also for cultural and intellectual figures from 5 to 10 years. Earlier Japan had introduced multiple-entry visas for Indian nationals in July 2014. It had also increased duration of visit on multiple entry visas, including tourism and business, to 30 days from the earlier 15.Earlier in a written message, Japanese PM also stressed need for cooperation, saying it was now an utmost necessity in view of current developments across the world. He said the relationship has immense potential, while recalling his meeting with Indian PM in Gujarat.

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Will follow my mind, Amruta Fadnavis to trolls

“I will do what exactly my mind tells me. I will not be swayed by disruptive criticism. I have a mind of my own and I will work as per that,” said Amruta Fadnavis, spouse of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday, after she was trolled on social media for promoting a Christmas-themed charity event.Trouble began when Amruta tweeted and posted photographs of a Christmas event organised by a FM radio station on December 12. She was assailed by an array of abusive posts, some of which questioned her faith before marriage.Shefali Vaidya, a columnist with the right-wing website Swarajya and RSS-mouthpiece Tarun Bharat, tweeted, “As a private individual, you are free to do what you want. As the First Lady of Maharashtra, your actions will always be open to scrutiny and criticism.”When Amruta tweeted in reply, “Love, sharing & empathy have no religion – lets accept positivity around us & stay away from negative thoughts & demotivating energies”, Vaidya amped the criticism with a caustic, “DO get your SM (Social Media) team to read all the replies to this tweet. Respect the will of the people who elected your husband rather than sounding like a writer of ‘Chicken Soup For The Evangelical Soul'”Amruta replied that she would continue to attend such charity events.”The motive behind attending the function was to give Christmas gifts to poor children,” she told this newspaper, “I was approached by this professional radio channel. During any festival, we have to do something good. We have to share happiness, whether it is Diwali, Janmashtami or any other festival.”She clarified that unlike her husband, she is not a political person. “I never mix politics with my personal interests,” she said. “I never use his (Fadnavis’) position as a tool for my work. I take my own personal decisions. They (the channel) may have called me as wife of the Chief Minister. However, as a human being, I try to bring happiness to others and hence I attended this program.”When asked whether she had discussed the incident with Fadnavis, Amruta said she had not yet done so.X’mas trollAmruta Fadnavis has attended a charity event organised by a radio station on Dec 12 Some trolls even questioned her faith before marriage

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Election Commission notice to Rahul Gandhi on poll code breach

A day before the final phase of polling in Gujarat, the Election Commission cracked the whip on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and certain television channels that aired his interviews even after the end of campaigning.The BJP and the Congress traded charges against each other for trying to influence the voters in the mandatory no-campaign period.Within hours of the filing of three complaints by the BJP, the EC served a showcase notice to Rahul on Wednesday and ordered FIR against certain Gujarati television channels.The EC asked Rahul to explain by December 18 why he violated the poll code of no campaign within 48 hours of the conclusion of the final day of polling.The EC also instructed the Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to stop the display of such matter in districts going to the polls on December 14. Following the EC’s step, the Congress reacted sharply and called it partisan. The party demanded from the EC that an FIR be filed against BJP leaders. At the EC’s doorstep, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala described it as an attempt to strangle the press.”In 2014 Mr Modi had given a television interview just a day before the polling, and on the day of polling, he had even displayed the BJP symbol, but EC did not act then. On December 8, a day before the first phase, the BJP finance minister released the manifesto but EC did not issue a show cause,” he said.In his first interview, Rahul said the “BJP is not scared of him but of the voice of Gujarat.””In the last three months, I have just raised the voice of Gujarat. They are not scared of me. They are scared of the voice of Gujarat. This election is not about Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi. This is about the voice of Gujarat,” Rahul told TV channels.He also accused the BJP of distorting his image by putting huge money.”There was no (image) makeover. BJP workers used money to distort the reality of Rahul Gandhi… a lot of money was put into this,” said Rahul.Reacting to the BJP’s oft-repeated line that Rahul is BJP’s biggest ally as he makes it win wherever he goes, he termed Prime Minister Narednra Modi his biggest help.The second phase of Gujarat is today, on December 14.Hitting out, Cabinet Minister Piyush Goyal said, “Congress is so scared and Rahul Gandhi is desperate to save his face. That is why he violated the Model Code of Conduct and gave interviews. We don’t think such interviews are allowed in the 48 hours prior to polls. We have never given such interviews.”He also claimed that the undercurrent which Rahul said was present in Gujarat, will work against the Congress, and the BJP will win over 150 seats in the 182-seat Assembly.In a strong retort, the Congress alleged that the BJP was threatening journalists in Gujarat for airing Rahul’s interview and urged the EC to take notice of it.Surjewala claimed that some journalists were receiving threats from high-level state BJP functionaries who were telling mediapersons that they would be jailed for violating the poll code.

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Winter Session to mull over 25 bills

The government and Opposition are warming up to face each other in Parliament Winter Session to be held from December 15, a day after the end of Gujarat polls. While Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has called a meeting of the leaders of various parties on Thursday evening, Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has also convened a meeting of Opposition leaders to evolve a joint strategy. With 14 sittings, a heavy agenda awaits the session — there are 25 bills to be tabled for discussion. 14 bills are scheduled to be introduced, one is listed for withdrawal.To ensure a smooth session, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has also convened a meeting of party leaders in the Lok Sabha.The first actual working day of the Winter Session will be Monday as the Houses will adjourn on Friday as a mark of respect to the members who died since monsoon session. The working day coinciding with Gujarat and Himachal poll results is expected to be heated as the ruling BJP and the Congress-led Opposition has several issues to lock the horns.The agenda of the session is to discuss crucial bills including the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, Good and Services Tax (Compensation to State) Amendment Bill, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, to name a few.While the Centre has been keen on passing the bill to outlaw triple talaq, the Opposition has been rallying under the Women’s Reservation Bill that has not been passed for decades. The Bill provides reservation of one-third to women, and was introduced by the UPA in May 2008. Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that the Opposition will not leave the Centre with any chance of not passing the bill.”You (government) will have to give the women reservation. The Congress party will not leave you with any choice,” Gandhi said while meeting members of the Mahila Congress.Gandhi’s mother, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi had met the Prime Minister in September, urging him to pass the bill. While Sonia said that the bill had been passed in the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010, when the UPA was in power, the Centre said that the Congress was aiming for the optics.The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has come under attack from the Opposition for delaying the dates of the Winter Session to accommodate the Gujarat Assembly elections. Usually, the Winter Session convenes from the last week of November and ends in the third week of December. A two-day holiday for Christmas has been approved.

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Bank NPAs biggest scam during UPA regime: PM Narendra Modi

On the eve of the second and final phase of polling in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly defended his government’s economic policies — including GST — and launched a scathing attack on the previous UPA regime, saying rising bank NPAs were the biggest scam of its time.Modi alleged that banks were pressured to give loans worth thousands of crores of rupees to select industrialists, in a scam bigger than 2G, coal and Commonwealth Games. “The biggest scam of UPA government is related to business in banks. In a way, the hard-earned money of people was looted through industrialists,” he said. He also assured people that their bank deposits are safe, amid worries over a “bail-in” provision in the proposed Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill that actually “seeks to strengthen the banking system.”Speaking at a FICCI event on Wednesday, he said the objective behind GST was not to increase revenue but to connect traders with the formal system. BJP has been grappling with traders’ protesters in Gujarat over the new tax rolled out in July.The PM said it was the demand of Indian industries that GST should be implemented, and urged the trade body to spread awareness about the key economic reform.”Measures like GST do not get a solid footing all of a sudden. We are trying to change a system which has been there for 70 years. Our effort is that maximum traders register,” he said.”This was not brought because the government had to earn more tax. The more formal the system becomes, the more benefit will accrue to the poor. Traders will have more ease and they will be able get bank credit more easily,” the PM said. GST will reduce logistics costs, thereby enhancing competitiveness of businesses, he said.The PM said the hopes and aspirations of people are to rid the country of internal problems like corruption, and black money. Political parties and industry chambers should keep in mind the country’s requirements and feelings of people, and work accordingly, the PM said.Attacking “those who are making much noise on NPAs nowadays”, the PM said that this is the “biggest liability” handed over to this government by the “economists” in the previous regime.The PM made repeated references to the work done by his government. He said that 87 important reforms in key sectors, including defence, finance and food processing, have been taken up in the last three years. He said that fuel inflation has dropped in rural areas after more than 3 crore women were given free cooking gas connections under the Ujjwala scheme, while over Rs 4 lakh crore guarantee-less loans were given to about 9.75 lakh youth for business, leading to 3 crore new entrepreneurs being created since the launch of the Mudra scheme.He rued that rumours are being spread about the FRDI Bill, while the government is working to protect the interests of account holders.

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Rajya Sabha: Amit Shah to be in the front row, 3 senior opposition leaders bid adieu

BJP president Amit Shah will join Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Arun Jaitley in the front row of the treasury benches, adding weight to the NDA’s voice in the Rajya Sabha.With M Venkaiah Naidu at the chairman’s seat in the upper house of Parliament, the front row position he occupied as a senior leader will now be taken up by Shah. The seating arrangements have been issued by the Rajya Sabha secretariat for new members. Shah will be in the front row, on the other side of the aisle from Prime Minister Modi and BJP’s leader of the house, Arun Jaitley.While Shah will add to the strength of the ruling party, the opposition side will be weakened with the absence of three leading and vocal occupants of its first row — rebel JD(U) member Sharad Yadav, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and Mayawati of the BSP. With Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) joining the NDA, its members will move from the opposition to the treasury benches. Yadav was recently expelled from the party and disqualified by Rajya Sabha chairperson Naidu. JD(U) leader RCP Singh will now occupy what would have been Yadav’s seat as the party leader in the House.Also readWatch: Pained by falsehood and canards spread by PM Modi, says Manmohan; Amit Shah hits back The opposition voice will lose some of its strength with the absence of CPI(M) general secretary Yechury, whose tenure in the Rajya Sabha came to an end after his party decided not to give him a third term in Parliament. Yechury’s front seat now will be taken by fellow-comrade T K Rangarajan. The BSP will miss its chief Mayawati, who resigned from Parliament in a huff during its last session. The BSP supremo had in July quit the Rajya Sabha, complaining that her voice was being muzzled. After her resignation, her seat was occupied by her confidant, BSP leader Satish Mishra.

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Dalit student refuses to take gold medal from President Ram Nath Kovind

A meritorious dalit student of the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU), who topped in the MCA program, has refused to take topper’s Gold medal from the President Ram Nath Kovind during the university’s convocation to be held on December 15 in Lucknow.Ramendra Naresh has topped in the Master of Computer Application (MCA) program and has been selected for the topper’s Gold medal. But he has refused to take the Gold medal from the President to lodge his protest against spurt in atrocities on dalits in Uttar Pradesh and across country.After topping the MCA (2013-2016) Ramendra had taken admission in the BBAU in B.Ed in 2017 but was rusticated from the university along with 8 other students in a case involving violent clashes with other students in the campus.“I am pained at dalit students and faculty members being harassed in state and central universities. Being dalits, we are forced to live in with low self-esteem. Dalits in general are still being treated as low cast and are subjected to mental torture and physical assaults across country,” charged he.“I am refusing to accept the Gold medal as a mark of protest against dalit atrocities and show solidarity with our brethren,” said Ramendra.The dalit student said that he will accept the Gold medal only when the President and Prime Minister ensure to check atrocities on dalits and they are treated equally with other castes in the country.Earlier, three dalit students had showed black flags and raised slogans against the Prime Minister Nadrendra Modi when he had visited the university in 2015 in protest against Rohith Vemula suicide case.In view of the past incident, the district administration has tightened security in view of President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit following intelligence input that Dalit students might protest during Prez visit on December 15 to distribute medals to meritorious students in the BBAU Convocation.

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‘Chintan Shivir’ not an excursion, blueprint of ‘new Haryana’ to be prepared: ML Khattar

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today said the ‘Chintan Shivir’ (brainstorming session) at the Timber Trail resort in Himachal Pradesh would not be an “excursion” and asserted that a blueprint of a “new Haryana” would be prepared.The session, set to be held from December 15 to 17, faced flak from the opposition, which dubbed it as “holidaying in the hills”.”Blueprint of a new Haryana would be prepared through deliberations on development at the Shivir,” Khattar said here, adding, “Various ongoing development works and other schemes will also be reviewed.”The BJP government is making all out efforts to bring a positive change in the system, the chief minister said.”A blueprint to take the state and the society further ahead on the path of economic development in the next two years would be prepared during the Shivir. Various welfare policies and laws would also be deliberated upon in the Shivir,” he said in Rohtak.Asked about the opposition’s criticism that the session to be held at a luxury private resort was a waste of public money, Khattar said, “The chintan shivir is not being organised for the purpose of excursion.”Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the ruling BJP’s concern should have been the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and not “holidaying in the hills”. He alleged that the government was wasting public money.Taking a dig at Hooda, Haryana Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister O P Dhankar said it was a tradition in the BJP to take collective decision from ‘chintan’ (brainstorming).Meanwhile, speaking to reporters about the claim made in a new show of a US-based science channel that the ‘Ram Setu’ between India and Sri Lanka was man-made, Khattar said “Shri Ram Setu’s existence has been confirmed, but it is unfortunate that the leaders of the Congress party are refusing these facts.”Khattar attacked the opposition parties in Haryana, saying they dub organising festivals like Gita Jayanti as futile exercises.He also hit out at the opposition for negating the existence of mythical Saraswati river. “The Congress has always been negating the mythological, literary and historical facts,” he said.”The leaders of the Congress party should think twice before making any statement. It seems that they have no interest in spreading the values in the society and it has become their habit to make comments on our mythological and literary heritage which have earned recognition at international level,” he added.

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Over 1200 farmers committed suicide in 5 months: Maharashtra govt

Over a thousand farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in a matter of five months between June and October 2017, the state government said today.Subhash Deshmukh, Minister for Cooperation in the Devendra Fadnavis government, said there were 1254 farmers’ suicides in the state in five months.Giving a written reply to a starred question asked by 102 MLAs in state assembly, Deshmukh admitted that only 9.43 lakh eligible farmers have been provided with benefits of loan waiver scheme till December 5, 2017.MLAs across the parties had asked the question on farmers’ suicides and government’s loan waiver scheme.Legislators who asked the question included the Leader of Opposition Radhhakrishna Vikhe Patil, NCP leader Ajit Pawar, Tripti Savant, Sunil Prabhu, Amin Patel, Prakash Fatarpekar, Sunil Raut, Sada Sarvankar, Ashish Shelar, Amit Satam, Subhash Bhoir and others.Deshmukh informed that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanmaan Yojana was started from October 18, 2017 and till December 5, 2017, a total loan worth Rs. 8,610.63 crore has been waived for 13.49 lakh farmers and the money has been deposited to concerned banks.He, however ,made it clear that the banks are now doing the procedure of depositing the money into farmers’ accounts. Out of this amount, Rs 5,142 crore has been deposited in to the accounts of 9.43 lakh eligible farmers till December 5, he said.Speaking to mediapersons outside the Assembly, Mr. Patil said, “Chief Minister Ffadnavis has announced that 41 lakh farmers are provided with benefits of loan waiver package and I have challenged him to provide these names on stamp paper. With Cooperation Minister’s reply, it is evident that only 9.43 lakh farmers have received money so far. This proves my allegation that government is misleading people and cheating farmers by providing wrong information every now and then.”

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BJP accuses Gandhi family of meddling in UPA govt decisions, says Rahul instructed minister to stall project in Gujarat

Hours ahead of voting for the second phase of Gujarat Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday accused the first family of Congress of interfering in governmental decisions during the UPA tenure and stalling development projects in the poll-bound state. Citing e-mail exchanges between former Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan and Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister Piyush Goyal accused the Congress president-elect of meddling in government decisions. Goyal said Rahul Gandhi stalled the Nirma project in Gujarat by instructing Natarajan to not give environmental clearance to it.”We have accessed e-mail in which Jayanti Natarajan when UPA minister was even willing to go home to meet personal secretary of Rahul Gandhi. This was how people not a part of government interfered in governance during the UPA?” asked Goyal.”In UPA, how projects were stalled and environment ministry was used is evident in the email. Rahul Gandhi opposed Nirma project and instructed Jayanti Natarajan to not give environmental clearance. He was willing to kill jobs in Gujarat to undermine and to hurt development agenda of Narendra Modi,” Goyal added.The minister also attacked former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, calling him a “mere titular head” who was controlled by the mother-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.”Email exchanges between Rahul Gandhi and Jayanthi Natarajan show that all decisions were directly taken by the family and PM Manmohan Singh was just a titular head. Knowledge of Rahul Gandhi was such that he did not know that there was no proposal on Amethi-Rae Bareilly Highway, but he was instructing Jayanthi Natarajan to clear it,” he said. The charges by the BJP, which is trying to retain power in Gujarat, comes on the eve of the final phase of Gujarat Assembly elections. While the voting for 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions took place on Saturday, tomorrow’s polling will take place on 93 seats spread across 14 districts in north and central Gujarat. The counting of votes for all 182 seats will be taken up on December 18. (With inputs from ANI) Watch: Congress official emails: “Non-state players” ran the government and overruled Manmohan Singh

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INS Kalvari, first Scorpene-class submarine, to be commissioned by PM Modi tomorrow

Kalvari, the first of the six Scorpene-class submarines handed over by shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Limited, will be commissioned into the Navy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here tomorrow.The prime minister will unveil its plaque at the commissioning ceremony tomorrow, an official told PTI.This will be preceded by reading out the commissioning warrant, hoisting of colours and breaking of commissioning pennant with national anthem, the official said.Pennant is a tapering flag on a ship, especially one flown at the masthead of a vessel in commission.Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding of the Western Naval Command, and top defence officials will attend the commissioning ceremony.”Kalvari underwent around 120 days of extensive sea trials and tests for various equipment,” the official said, adding the vessel is expected to bolster Indias maritime prowess.The submarines, designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS, are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai as part of Project-75 of the Indian Navy.”The technology utilised in the Scorpene has ensured superior stealth features such as advanced acoustic silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels, hydro-dynamically optimised shape and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons,” an official of the MDL said.Kalvari is named after the dreaded tiger shark, a deadly deep sea predator of the Indian Ocean.The first Kalvari, commissioned on December 8, 1967, was also the first submarine of the Indian Navy. It was decommissioned on May 31, 1996 after nearly three decades of service.

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