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India designer sorry over ‘insulting’ sari remark

Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s remark, which shamed women who didn’t know how to wear a sari, angered many.

At forensic conf, students seek answer to unemployment

Where are the jobs for us? This was the question that several graduates as well as students of forensic science asked the panel experts during a discussion on the subject on the last day of the 24th All India Forensic Science Conference held in Gujarat University.Many students complained that despite the mushrooming of forensic colleges, there were not enough jobs for them, with the majority often finding employment outside their field.Anshumali Gaikwad, a forensic science graduate from Mumbai said even the recruitment rules were framed in such a way that forensic graduates would be at a disadvantage. “Even in Forensic Science Laboratories, when experts are recruited they ask for pure science graduates. Even the test papers for recruitment to these positions concentrate on pure science questions instead of forensic sciences,”said Gaikwad.A faculty said the the interesting thing is that many times pure science graduates were hired for positions in forensic laboratories and the organisations then spent six months training them when in fact students trained in the field were sitting unemployed. “It is because the despite the mushrooming of colleges, not many people understand the field and its importance,” said the faculty.Gujarat university vice-chancellor Himanshu Pandya said the matter was taken up with home minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to the conference and he has sought concrete suggestions to facilitate forensic sciences and practitioners.Pandya also urged the students to incorporate pure sciences in their studies if they were to compete in the job market. He also admitted that there was a demand supply gap in the field with supply being more than demand.Rukmini Krishnamoorthy from Maharashtra FSL reminded the students that there was scope for forensic students even in the private sector.”It is mandatory for banks and insurance companies to have one forensic expert in their risk department. We have often approached private sector and found takers for our students,”s aid Krishnamoorthy.She also called for a the need for a forensic expert in every police station as that would help the cops in better evidence collection.”In the future the forensic experts help will be mandatory even for prosecutor sin seeking forensic report readings in the court,” said Krishnamoorthy.The students also complained that apart from having to compete with pure science students for a jobs in field in which they have specialised, they said the universities were also not being proactive in urging the government to change the recruitment norms.

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Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan to throw a birthday bash for Randhir Kapoor
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Won’t join Rajini if he’s saffron: Kamal Haasan

Actor Kamal Haasan, who is all set to launch his political party later this month, said he was unlikely to have an alliance with his friend and superstar Rajinikanth if he has a “hue of saffron”, in an apparent reference to the latter’s promise of ushering in “spiritual politics” in Tamil Nadu.”If this is the route he (Rajini) is going to take and if the hue he is going to acquire is to be saffron, then I can’t see a clear understanding. Unless there is some other explanation that he gives convinces my rational mind,” Haasan said while addressing the India Conference 2018 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Haasan also launched his whistleblower website naalainamadhe.maiam.com.Haasan said that both their approach and general intent might be the good of the people but he believesd “there is a certain way in which the good will have to come to the people. I don’t like to take a detour.”He said that if his and Rajinikanth’s manifestos gel, then an alliance might happen for the betterment of the people but it was not likely.”I don’t think so because of the very fact that he in his first announcement made some statements which gave him a hue. Still I hope, it’s not saffron,” he said, referring to Rajinikanth’s promise to usher in spiritual politics in the state when he announced his decision on December 31 to float his own party to contest the next assembly election.When the moderator, journalist Barkha Dutt, asked whether Rajinikanth’s politics goes against his left leanings, Haasan, a self-proclaimed rationalist, said he did not lean on any side.”I like equipoise. That’s why my site is called Maiam (centre),” he said. He also ruled out a post-poll alliance.In his latest weekly column in a Tamil magazine, he hinted that he might not join hands with Rajinikanth due to ideological differences. Rajinikanth had on a couple of occasions said only time would tell if he would join hands with Haasan in his political journey.‘MEDIOCRITY IN TN’Haasan is all set to launch his party on February 21 in his native Rameswaram. Rajinikanth is busy appointing district level office-bearers for Rajinikanth Mandram (Forum). The two actors hope to fill the political vacuum created by the demise of AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa.

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B-Town mourns death of Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir
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RSS-affiliate BMS calls for nationwide protest against labour policies

RSS-affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has given a call for a nationwide agitation on February 20 to protest against “anti-labour policies” and is rethinking to attend Indian Labour Conference (ILC) later this month.The Kendriya Karya Samithi (national executive committee or KKS) meeting of BMS held at Ambaji in Gujarat on February 8 has called for “nationwide agitation against the central government’s anti-labour policies”, BMS General Secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said in a statement today.He said that the KKS has directed all its unions to observe February 20 as ‘Black Day’ and hold union-level protest demonstrations, wear black badges and hold gate meetings.The KKS strongly condemns the central government for not keeping any of its promises made to the BMS delegation on November 17, 2017, after the historical Delhi rally.The protest is against negligent attitude of the central government towards labour problems, the BMS said.Indian workers belonging to different central trade unions have put forth burning issues of labour before the government but the Union Budget 2018 was totally silent about any of the issues raised by unions, it added.After a gap of three years, the 46th Indian Labour Conference is scheduled to be held on February 26-27, 2018, at New Delhi which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The KKS has directed all its districts, states & industrial federations to hold dharnas, huge demonstrations at district headquarters, state capitals and industrial estates on February 26-27, 2018.In this connection, a huge demonstration before the ILC venue will also be organised at New Delhi on February 26 to mount pressure of the government to resolve labour issues.The BMS has been pressing for increasing honorarium to aanganwadi workers and bringing them under social security coverage; reimbursement of Cess amount to concerned labour welfare boards affected due to GST; enhancing EPS pension from Rs1000/per month to Rs5000 and providing special funds to Sick PSUs which can be revived.It has also sought a hike in income tax exemptions to salaried sections up to Rs 5 lakh; withdrawing anti-labour provisions bringing under the garb of Labour Law Reforms; hiking Unorganised Social Security fund up to Rs 2000 crore and implementation of Supreme Court verdict on Equal pay to Equal work.The BMS demands the central government to review the budget immediately and take steps to redress the grievances.If, the Union Government does not take any step before February 25, 2018, the BMS will rethink its participation in the forthcoming Indian Labour Conference, it added.

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Manzil Manzil: Looking For One Last Hurrah
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Mehbooba Mufti govt thwarts separatists’ march to Shopian, DM issues prohibitory orders

Jammu and Kashmir government has launched a major clampdown to thwart the separatists’ march to Shopian against the civilian killings on Friday.District Magistrate Shopian has imposed restrictions on the movement of public and transport in the territorial limits of district Shopian on Friday under Section 144 CrPC. However, the restrictions shall not be applicable to essential services including banks. Similarly, authorities have imposed restrictions in the sensitive old city of Srinagar to thwart separatists march.Also readShopian firing: Army says troops acted in self defenceRestrictions have been imposed in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of police stations of Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhatta, Safakadal, MR Gunj. However there will be partial restrictions in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of Maisuma and Kal khud police stations of civil lines area.Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of separatists had called for Shopian March on Friday to protest the civilian killings in Army firing last Saturday.Also readJ&K: Army files counter FIR in Shopian incident, says it only opened fire in face of ‘ultimate provocation’JRL is an amalgam of Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Geelani, Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who spearheaded the 2016 unrest in the Kashmir valley.Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani said police have detained dozens of separatist leaders and activists ahead of Shopian March. Also readFresh tension grips Shopian after another civilian succumbs to injuriesA spokesman of Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani said police have placed Tereekh-e-Hurriyat (TeH) general secretary Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai and senior leader Mohammad Ashraf Laya under house detention.”Many Hurriyat Conference leaders and activists including its spokesman Ghulam Mohammad Gulzar was arrested and lodged in police station Shergarhi, ” said a Hurriyat spokesman.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meet ‘Pad Man’ Akshay Kumar before the film’s release
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Rawat’s statement ‘acceptance of facts’ regarding Kashmir situation, say separatist leaders

Kashmiri separatist leaders today claimed that Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s statement on Kashmir was an “acceptance of facts”, but said there cannot be a military solution to the Kashmir issue.General Rawat said yesterday that the people in Kashmir had realised that it was very difficult to secede from India and they were also getting tired of militancy. “They have seen it for too long and they have realised (that) it hasn’t given them what they had desired for. Let me tell you…with a country like India, to seek independence from a nation where we have strong armed forces, where we have a strong democracy, and a very strong government, you cannot secede from India. This is what the people have realised,” the army chief said.Reacting to the statement, the separatists, at a joint press conference, said it was a clear indication that General Rawat had accepted the fact that the majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir “are demanding their right to self- determination and freedom”. “This statement is an admission of what the people of Kashmir want. This is a clear indication that he has accepted the fact that the majority of the people of J-K are demanding their right to self-determination and ‘azadi’ (freedom)…,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told reporters at his Nigeen residence here.Also readTerrorists using high-tech systems, need to put curbs on Internet: Bipin RawatThe Mirwaiz, the head of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, was flanked by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik. The hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, addressed the presser telephonically. The three have come together on a united platform under the name of Joint Resistance Leadership. The Mirwaiz said the Army chief’s statement was a clear indication of New Delhi’s policy on Kashmir.He said there cannot be a military solution to the Kashmir issue.”Let it be absolutely clear that the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved (and) Kashmiris cannot be pushed to the wall, thorough intimidation, force or coercion,” he said. On the NIA charge sheet against 12 people in connection with the funding of terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir, the Mirwaiz said it was an effort to mislead the people of the country. “There is an all-out effort on part of the government to mislead the people of India and the people of the world to give them an impression that this is a sponsored struggle and people are in this for money. We reject this. This is a mere propaganda…We are not scared and we won’t be cowed down,” he said.Also readWon’t allow anti-India activities in Kashmir, says Army chief General RawatSpeaking on the occasion, Malik said Pakistan was not involved with the 2016 agitation and dared the NIA to arrest the separatist trio who, he said, were behind issuing protest calendars that year. Geelani also said the NIA accusations have no basis and demanded immediate release of all the accused who are under the NIA custody. He said it was New Delhi’s policy to link the “struggle in Kashmir” with terrorism. “The struggle of Kashmiris is not terrorism, our struggle is different. We want a peaceful resolution of the issue,” he said.

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Israeli PM Netanyahu recreates viral ‘Oscar Selfie’ with Amitabh Bachchan and other B-Town stars
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Ram Nath Kovind inaugurates Dharma-Dhamma conference, calls for taking inspiration from Buddha’s life

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the Fourth International Conference on “State and Social Order in Dharma-Dhamma Tradition” at Rajgir in Bihar, and called for participants to take inspiration from the life and teachings of Lord Buddha, which he described as the “Light of Asia”.The three-day conference is being organised as a part of the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership by the Nalanda University, in collaboration with the Vietnam Buddhist University and the Ministry of External Affairs, and will witness the participation of scholars and delegates from 11 countries.”It is estimated that more than half the world’s current population lives in regions that have been historically influenced – and in many cases continue to be influenced – by the enlightenment that Lord Buddha attained and placed as a model before humanity. This is the thread that stitches us all together,” said Kovind, terming Buddhism, the basis for an early form of globalisation and interconnectedness in our continent.He said the spiritual, cultural and trade links that were created by the monks of Dharma and Dhamma, hundreds and thousands of years ago, were much more than a historical memory. “They are wired into society’s DNA. They are a living reality and as such, Dharma and Dhamma are both a continuous, eternal journey – and a destination,” Kovind said.Throwing light on India’s Act East Policy, the President said it is much more than a diplomatic initiative. “The Act East Policy aims at sharing not merely economic opportunities – but at an integration of the dreams and hopes of the hundreds of millions who live in India and in Southeast Asia, and in other parts of Asia that are covered by the Dharma-Dhamma footprint. Our past has a common source and inevitably, our destiny too is linked,” he said.Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, led Kovind’s welcome brigade. “Bihar is a land of knowledge. But, the pages of history are gathering dust,” the CM said at the conference and called upon the attention of archaeologists on the matter.

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Tanvi Shah to compere First Lady for Maneka Gandhi
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Suicides, accidents kill more people than terror in Kashmir

Forget militancy, suicide and road accidents are the biggest killers in Jammu and Kashmir. Figures presented in the Legislative Assembly revealed that 547 cases of suicides were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in the last two years. Similarly, 1749 people were killed in 10160 in road accidents in the last two years in Jammu and Kashmir. In a written reply to a starred question by former Speaker and National Conference MLA from Eidgah constituency Mubarak Gul Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who also holds the home portfolio, said 547 cases of suicides were registered in Jammu and Kashmir in last two years.Of which 275 cases of suicide were registered in 2017 and 272 cases in 2016. Handwara area of Kashmir witnessed 57 suicides in 2017 compared to 31 in 2016. Similarly, Baramulla recorded 41 suicides in 2017 compared to 23 in 2016. Kargil district of Ladakh region is the only place in Jammu and Kashmir which has zero suicide rate.Also readNational Conference and Congress stage walkout over civilian killings in Kashmir Data also revealed that 958 persons died in different road accidents in 2016. The fatalities in the accidents recorded a sharp fall in 2017 with 791 people losing their lives on state’s killer roads. On the other side, around 209 militants were killed in Kashmir during last year, which is highest since 2010. Around 24 civilians were killed during law and order problems near encounter sites last year. More than 75 security men were also killed in gunfights across Kashmir valley last yearAlso readKashmiri teen militant killed in Anantnag: Father had urged son to ‘come back and start again’Last year more than 117 local youth joined the militant ranks in the strife-torn Kashmir valley, which is the highest in last seven years

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Hear, Hear! This producer-duo wants to own the film industry
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J&K Congress chief GA Mir asks partymen to gear up for panchayat polls

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress president GA Mir on Wednesday asked party cadres to get ready to take on the PDP-BJP government in the state and expose their failures and misdeeds, and prepare for the panchayat polls.The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to hold the much-awaited panchayat elections from mid-February.”Although the state government has weakened the Panchayat Raj System, Congress cadre should get ready for taking on the PDP-BJP dispensation to expose their failures and misdeeds and prepare for electoral battles, especially panchayat polls,” Mir told party leaders and workers at Congress headquarters here.Mir said, “Our cadre should reach out to the people expose the failures and misdeeds of the present coalition government in order to educate them about the falsehood and double standards of the PDP-BJP dispensation on governance and security situation.”He said by weakening of Panchayati Raj System has taken away the basic right of the people and they would be exhorted to teach the coalition partners a lesson for their “failures, betrayals and falsehood”.Also readNational Conference and Congress stage walkout over civilian killings in Kashmir Extending hearty greetings to Insha Mushtaq, blinded by security forces — whose wounded face sparked an outcry against the use of pellets in Kashmir — on clearing the 10th standard board examinations Mir praised her hard work and confidence.

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PIO Parliamentary Conference | World Bank, IMF and Moody’s are looking at India in very positive way, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the first Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Parliamentary Conference at New Delhi’s Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra on Tuesday.Addressing the lawmakers, the Prime Minister said that the world is looking at India with renewed focus. And the key is the fact that India has transformed. He also spoke about how global fionancial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Band and credit rating agency Moody’s are viewing India in a very positive manner.Elaborating about new India, the PM said that ‘India has moved way ahead of the ‘jaisa pehle tha vaisa chalta rahega, kuch badlega nahi’ thinking, aims and aspirations of our people are on an all time high & that is because of the transformation the country is going through.’PM Modi also detailed about new investments in the country. “Keeping in mind the needs of 21st century, the government is increasing the investment in technology, transportation,” he said.“More than half the investment in sectors like construction, air transport, mining, computer software, hardware, electrical equipment and many others, till now has happened in the last three years,” he added.As many as 124 Members of Parliament and 17 mayors from 23 countries are participating in the conference. Every year, January 9 is celebrated as Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD), an annual celebratory day that marks the contribution of overseas persons of Indian origin (PIO) towards their homeland.This is the first PIO-Parliamentary Conference and is a way of reaching out to the Indian community overseas by the government.The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in order to celebrate the spirit of the conference, has also organised an open competition to design a logo that would best reflect the spirit of the First PIO Parliamentarian Conference.

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Offer of unconditional support to PDP remains unchanged: National Conference

The National Conference on Wednesday said its offer of unconditional support to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir remained unchanged but maintained that so far no one from the regional party or Congress has contacted it for an alliance.”As stated by our working president Omar Abdullah, our offer of unconditional support to the PDP, which has emerged as the single largest party in the state stands and this remains unchanged. There has been absolutely no change in this,” NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said in Srinagar.He said the party had offered its support to the PDP for the benefit of the state and so that the party would not have to “compromise” on its “apparent regional agenda”.”As far as the premise of the support to PDP is concerned, it is based on the fact that PDP has emerged as the single largest party and we want to extend an opportunity to PDP to not have to compromise on its apparent regional agenda,” Mattu said.Asked about the idea of a “grand alliance” floated by Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, the NC spokesman said no party had approached them for any alliance.”The grand alliance seems to be a media creation. Nobody from the PDP or Congress has mooted the point (to us),” he said.

BJP hopes dialogue with PDP on government formation will start in a couple of days

Amid positive signals from PDP over government-formation in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP on Wednesday hoped a formal dialogue will be initiated by them within the next two days. BJP said it would be a part of the next government in the state following the public mandate in its favour and any arrangement that excludes it will be seen as negating it.A delegation of senior party leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including state unit chief Jugal Kishore Sharma and senior leader Nirmal Singh, will meet J&K Governor N N Vohra on Thursday and discuss with him their party’s plans over government- formation. The meeting will come a day after PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti met the state Governor on Wednesday and dropped hints of her party was not averse to joining hands with BJP as she invoked A B Vajpayee and said the mandate in the state was an “opportunity” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said “an initial contact has been established between the two parties” and her comments will help take forward formal discussions. “We appreciate Mehbooba Mufti’s gesture through the media. We await formal initiation of dialogue,” he said.He maintained that “all options are open” for BJP as its leaders have been in talks with lower-rung PDP leaders for government-formation after the polls produced a fractured verdict with PDP emerging as the single largest party with 28 seats in the 87-member Assembly closely followed by BJP with 25 seats. Sources said besides formal talks with PDP, informal talks with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti have also taken place over telephone.Party sources add the BJP leadership has also been in talks with leaders of National Conference, including outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. BJP sources said Mehbooba’s remarks will help take the state forward on the path of development by providing a stable government to the state. They said BJP expected the talks with PDP to begin in a couple of days.Madhav said “any arrangement that excludes BJP will be seen as negating the mandate given by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” Viewing Mehbooba’s talk today as a “positive gesture”, he said it will take some more time for BJP to hold formal talks for government-formation. Asked about the issue of rotational Chief Minister with PDP, he said “it is premature” as talks have not reached that far.On other contentious issues that are expected to crop up between BJP and PDP, he said “to find an amicable arrangement is not impossible. What will be the structure and shape, we will have to wait and see.” Sources said BJP is hopeful of a “positive outcome” after Wednesday’s initiative by PDP but leaders said the party has its own expectations and roadmap for the state that will be discussed with parties before aligning with them for government formation.After meeting the Governor, Mehbooba told reporters that whatever formation is firmed up, it should respect the mandate of the people and have the principle of “reconciliation”, adding that “till that is not taken along, forming any government will be useless”. Mehbooba said the mandate was a “challenge and opportunity” for national leadership, be it NDA or Congress.”For NDA government, it is a big responsibility. For Modi, it is a big responsibility. Jammu and Kashmir has been the biggest challenge for any PM right from Nehru till date,” Mehbooba told reporters in apparent signals to BJP that the two can discuss contentious issues that come in the way of the two parties coming together. Referring to Modi’s “dream” of development and addressing the problem of unemployment, the PDP leader said there cannot be “development till there is peace on the ground”.

Grand alliance with Congress and National Conference possible: PDP

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed

Giving a new spin to the negotionas on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday said the grand alliance of the Congress-National Conference-PDP can be one of the options.“Congress-NC-PDP grand alliance is one of the options which has been proposed by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad,” said Naeem Akthar, chief spokesman of the PDP.A few days ago Azad had proposed an alliance of the three parties with PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the chief minister. The development had come after both Congress and NC offered unconditional support to PDP to form the government.Akthar also ruled out a grand alliance of PDP-Congress-BJP saying it is not possible.However, the proposed grand alliance of three parties – Congress-National Conference-PDP – received a setback on Monday after NC ruled out being part of it.“Azad sahib has clearly said he has 12 MLAs of his own and support of four independents. Sixteen MLAs of Congress and 28 of PDP reaches the majority mark of 44. How many electoral weddings does Mufti sahib need to have? He needs one and let him have the one he wants. NC will not be part of three-party alliance,” Junaid Azim Mattu, NC spokesman, told dna.Junaid said if PDP and Congress go together, Kashmir, particularly the valley, will be devoid of a credible opposition. “We can’t leave the valley without the opposition. We are not looking for grand alliance. We have offered our support to PDP. They do not need anybody else. Now if they want somebody else, they are just playing to the gallery,” he said.

PDP sets tough conditions for BJP

PDP set tough conditions for BJP which is wooing it for the formation of the new government in Jammu and Kashmir, declaring that its stand against revocation of Art 370 was “non-negotiable”. Indicating that PDP, with the highest tally of 28 followed by BJP with 25, may find it hard to do business with the saffron party, it also said it remained committed to the revocation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). That is unlikely to be acceptable to BJP. With Governor N N Vohra setting a deadline of January 1 for PDP and BJP to come up with proposals for government formation, behind-the-scenes contacts among the principal players including the National Conference (NC) and the Congress intensified.For the record, PDP said that “all options are open and that no decision has been taken yet” but there were reports it was facing stiff opposition from a substantial chunk of its newly-elected MLAs to any tie up with BJP. PDP’s alternative option is to accept the support of the Congress party which has 12 MLAs and the NC, which has 15 in the 87-member Assembly. It is in touch with both the parties as it wrestles with the dilemma of joining hands with the BJP.There was speculation in political circles that if it is not able to reach an agreement with PDP, BJP may present the Governor with a list of 30 MLAs by January one to show that it had two more than PDP, raising the remote possibility of it being invited first to take a shot at ministry formation. In such a scenario, the PDP could show the support of at least 55 MLAs including those of the NC and Congress. BJP maintained on Saturday that it would be involved in government formation. “We have a crucial mandate in Jammu and Kashmir. We will be involved in government formation. Talks are going on. Let us see what happens,” party General Secretary Ram Madhav said in New Delhi. He said somehow they wanted to find a way to form a stable government. Things were at a very early stage and no conditions are being discussed.”The best combination will be a stable government in the state. We will explore what will be the best combination. Hesitation, if at all, is there on both sides. BJP has a very important mandate in the state and has secured the highest number of votes and second highest number of seats. Naturally, based on the mandate we are trying to give a good government to the state with the help of people who got mandate like PDP and NC. We have to find a way. There is a position where no government can be formed without the support of other parties”, Madhav said.Meanwhile, NC President and the outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, having verbally announced support to PDP, left for London this afternoon to be with his parents, who have undergone surgeries. He is expected to be back only after the New Year.

Jammu & Kashmir Governor calls PDP, BJP for parleys on government formation

Amid continuing suspense over government formation, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra on Friday invited for discussions PDP and BJP, the first and second largest parties in the elections, which threw up a highly-fractured verdict with no clear winner.Vohra has sent letters separately to PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and state BJP chief Jugal Kishore “for holding discussions on the proposal for government-formation,” a Raj Bhavan official said. The letter from the Governor has asked the PDP President to meet him on January one morning followed by the state BJP chief on the same afternoon.The letter to the two major parties said that the term of last Assembly was to end on January 18 and, therefore, both of them should come and discuss about the government formation, the sources said. The Governor apparently to avoid a repeat of 2002 when government could not be formed for 22 days pushing the state towards a spell of Governor’s rule. The parties have also been conveyed the message that if they are not able to cobble together numbers, then they could tell the Governor about their position when they meet him.BJP, which ended up with a tally of 25 in the 87-strong Assembly, and PDP, which secured 28 seats, have held discussions in the last two days to explore the possibility of coming together. There was no indication as to how the discussions have gone. Parallelly, two other key players, the National Conference (NC) which got 15 seats and Congress (12 seats), continued to make efforts to keep BJP out of power by offering support to PDP whose response remained a matter of speculation.NC Working President and outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who has already declared that there is no deal between his party and the BJP, tweeted tonight that only “a verbal offer of support” has been conveyed to the PDP. But it looks like “PDP is playing mind games with the BJP leaking about a letter of NC support that doesn’t exist”.Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad asked the BJP not to be “insensitive” and be seen indulging in “arm-twisting” tactics while “bulldozing” its way on government formation. “The way BJP is bulldozing regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir and that’s just being insensitive towards the mandate and people of the state, ” Azad, who is Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, told reporters in Delhi.

Don’t play mind games on support: Omar Abdullah to PDP

Outgoing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday asked PDP not to play “mind games” on the issue of support from his party, National Conference (NC), and said only a “verbal offer” had been conveyed.The tweet from Omar came after the Valley was agog with rumours that NC had extended a letter of support to the PDP, arch rival of his party. “Looks like PDP is playing mind games with the BJP leaking about a letter of NC support that doesn’t exist. Only a verbal offer conveyed,” he tweeted. Omar, who party has 15 MLAs, made a surprise offer after the election results were announced on December 23 by extending his party’s support to PDP, which has 28 MLAs, in government formation.National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu had earlier said, “We have conveyed our offer of support to the PDP through channels of communication with that party.” “We have not sent any letter but it is a serious and formal offer of support to the single largest party for government formation,” he added. PDP spokesman Nayeem Akhtar, however, said his party has not received any communication from the National Conference and will deliberate whenever it does so.In Jammu, National Conference’s provincial president Devender Singh Rana also said, “Our president has said and we still maintain that if PDP comes forward to form the government we are ready to extend our support to them.” “We will support them completely,” Rana, who has been elected as MLA from Nagrota Assembly seat, said. He said PDP was the single largest party and it must come forward to provide the people of the state with a stable government. “If they accept the support, a stable government can be formed in the state,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir government formation: Talks with PDP at initial stage, says Ram Madhav

BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav on Friday said his party was holding consultations with all important stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir for providing a stable government.The BJP leader, who has held a series of meetings with leaders of Valley-based political parties including PDP’s Muzaffar Hussain Baig, said the Prime Minister had a grand vision for development of the state.”To realise this dream, we have to provide a government that will put the state on development track,” he said.”We are meeting with all important stakeholders and our aim is to provide a stable and credible government,” he told reporters here.While PDP has secured 28 seats, BJP bagged 25 in the elections to the 87-member state Assembly.On his talks with PDP since his arrival here yesterday, Madhav said the talks were still at initial stages.”PDP is an important stakeholder and has got a major mandate. Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) has a five-decade long political career and is respected not only in the state but across the country.”National Conference also has got substantial number of seats. It was part of the NDA during (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s tenure (as Prime Minister),” he noted.Asked which of the two parties would BJP prefer to ally with, Madhav said it was not about the party but a choice of providing a stable and credible government.As the Jammu unit of the BJP is insisting on getting a shot at Chief Ministership, Madhav said the issue was not discussed with either PDP or any other stakeholder.”Talks have not reached that stage yet.We are still at the initial stages,” he insisted.In response to a question, Madhav said a meeting between the Prime Minister and PDP patron, Sayeed, was not on the cards yet.”No such this is on the cards right now,” he said.Asked how long the government formation is going to take, Madhav said no timeline can be set.

Jammu & Kashmir: BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav holds talks with PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig

PDP and BJP, which emerged as the top two parties in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, on Thursday night began talks in Srinagar on government-formation.BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, who arrived here this evening from Jammu, held two separate rounds of talks with senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig–the first round at Baig’s residence and the second round at a hotel where Madhav is staying. Madhav, who attended a meeting of a meeting of BJP’s newly-elected MLAs in Jammu earlier in the day, also held a series of meetings in Srinagar with leaders of other Valley-based political parties this evening as part of efforts to cobble up a government in the state.Baig, earlier in the day, said BJP and PDP leadership should talk to each other for forming the next government. While PDP has secured 28 seats, BJP bagged 25 in the elections to the 87-member state Assembly.PDP spokesman Samir Koul told PTI late tonight that lines of communication have been opened with PDP for government formation. “Talks are going on with BJP over government-formation in the state but we are still at infancy stage. It will take some time before we can make any announcements,” Koul said.Asked if PDP would agree to rotational chief ministership with BJP, Koul said “not at this moment”. He said there were certain issues like Article 370, that guarantees a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, on which PDP is not going to compromise. “There are differences on certain issues like the political agenda of PDP — Article 370, revocation of AFSPA from the state — which we cannot compromise on,” he said.The PDP spokesman said the situation will be clearer in the next three to four days. Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Ghani Lone, whose party has two MLAs, was the first to meet Madhav at a hotel here, sources in BJP said. The sources said Peoples Democratic Front chairman Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, who won the recent assembly polls from Khan Sahib segment in Budgam district, also met the BJP leader for nearly 30 minutes.Democratic Party (Nationalist) leader Ghulam Hassan Mir, a minister in the outgoing government led by Omar Abdullah, was another prominent leader to meet Madhav, the sources said. Mir was a minister in the National Conference-Congress coalition government from Congress quota.

No deal or discussion with BJP on government formation: Omar Abdullah

Outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday night categorically said there is “no deal” or any “discussion” going on between his National Conference(NC) and BJP over the issue of government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.Omar took to Twitter to make this assertion amid speculation that the NC may support BJP in forming a new government in Jammu & Kashmir. “So many stories doing the rounds about a BJP NC deal. Let me say this as strongly as possible – THERE IS NO DEAL NOR ANY DISCUSSION going on,” he said.In another tweet, Omar hoped that someone from the PDP, BJP and Congress would form a govrnment quickly. “I hope someone from the PDP/BJP/Cong steps up & forms a government in J&K quickly. Denying stupid rumours is fast becoming a full time job,” he said.

BJP holds ‘veto power’ in Jammu and Kashmir: Arun Jaitley

Asserting that it has several options in government-formation in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP on Thursday said it holds the “veto power” in the state.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, BJP’s central observer for J&K, told reporters in Jammu that the party was actively in touch with independent and “unattached” MLAs. “Whoever forms the government, BJP must have a crucial role in it,” he said. Jaitley said BJP now holds the “veto power” in the state.”Earlier, the veto power was in the hands of Congress and now it’s in the hands of BJP,” he said. Addressing the media after a meeting of newly-elected BJP MLAs, Jaitley said the legislators authorised party President Amit Shah to decide the future course of action on government formation. “All options are open for us. The newly-elected MLAs of the party have decided that they will go with the decision of the party president Amit Shah who will take a decision which is good for the party, the state and the country,” he said.”The central leadership of the party will decide where it wants to sit in the assembly or how to form the government,” he said. On a question whether BJP would go with National Conference or Peoples Democratic Party, Jaitley said “we will go with the three principles–strengthening national sovereignty, development of this region and maintenance of regional balance.” Jaitley described as “inaccurate” media reports that BJP leadership had held discussions with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on government-formation.”Some inaccurate reports have appeared in this regard and I would only urge you not to go by the reports which are not accurate,” Jaitley said. He said even though PDP has got maximum number of seats in the assembly, BJP got the popular vote as its vote percentage was greater as compared to other parties.”The mandate is for a hung assembly but elections are held for the formation of the government. The newly-elected party members of the legislative assembly discussed the issue…. like what type of government can be formed in a hung assembly, who will lead the party in the assembly,” Jaitley said. He said the newly-elected MLAs reached a consensus that the central leadership of the party, led by Amit Shah, would take the final decision on these issues.

Omar Abdullah changes twitter bio, says ‘I’ll be back’

Omar Abdullah, who resigned as the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister on Wednesday, vowed to return to power and said that he would be back. Abdullah, changed his bio on twitter and took to the social networking site to express his feelings, posting a blank photograph with the legend ‘Keep calm, cause I’ll be back’, quoting the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger line. Despite losing from Sonawar seat and just about managing to cling on to Beerwah with a slender margin of 1,000 votes, Abdullah also took his party’s failure sportingly. “Incidentally, in 2002, Mufti became CM with 16 MLAs and NC with 28 sat in opposition so excuse me if I don’t oblige by rolling over to play dead,” he tweeted. “6 years ago I drove in stake my claim to form a government in J-K, now I’m driving in to resign. The wheel comes full circle,” he added. On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir gave a highly-fractured verdict in which the PDP emerged the single largest party throwing up different possibilities in government formation. The ruling National Conference suffered a defeat when it secured only 15 seats against 28 it had won in the last elections. Its partner in the government Congress slipped to the fourth position getting only 12 seats.

56 first-timers in 87-member Jammu & Kashmir Assembly

The 12th Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir will have nearly 65% new faces as only 31 of the 87 newly-elected MLAs have previously been member the House.As many as 56 winners have been elected to the Lower House of the state legislature for first time, while 26 MLAs managed to retain their membership. Five others have made a comeback to the House after staying out for six to 12 years. Two National Conference MLAs have managed to win the Assembly polls for a sixth time – equalling the record held by their colleague and former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather whose dream run of 37 years as MLA of Chrar-e-Sharief ended with his defeat to PDP’s Ghulam Nabi Lone on Tuesday.The BJP, which won 25 seats, has the highest number of first-timers. Twenty-two BJP MLAs will experience their stint in the Assembly for the first time, while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs, have 19 new faces. Six new faces will be part of the 12-member Congress Legislature Party in the new Assembly which will also have five new faces from NC and two from Peoples Conference including separatist-turned politician Sajjad Ghani Lone.Two Independent members – Pawan Kumar Gupta and Syed Bakir Rizvi – are also first-timers in the Assembly. Prominent among the first-time MLAs included banker- turned-PDP leader Haseeb Drabu (Rajpora), his businessman colleague Altaf Bukhari (Amirakadal) and outgoing Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s close confidant Devender Singh Rana (Nagrota). Omar was among the 31 MLAs from various parties who have earlier been elected to the Assembly.Although Omar lost the election from the Sonawar constituency of Srinagar district by a margin of over 4,700 votes to PDP’s Mohammad Ashraf Mir, he managed to win the Beerwah constituency in Budgam district defeating his nearest rival from Congress by a slender margin of over 900 votes.Omar had won the last Assembly elections in 2008 from the Ganderbal seat but decided to contest from Sonawar and Beerwah this time. Four legislators, Abdul Haq Khan, Basharat Bukhari, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah and Zulfikar Ali, retained their seats for PDP, while three each from Congress and National Conference won for a second time. They are Abdul Rashid, Usman Majid and Vakar Rasool Wani of Congress and National Conference’s Shameema Firdous, Javid Rana and Omar. Sukhnandan Kumar and Sham Lal Choudhary retained their seats for BJP while fire-brand Independent MLA from Langate Sheikh Abdul Rashid also contested successfully.Ten legislators, three each from National Conference, PDP and Congress and one from BJP, won a third term in the Assembly. Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Aga Ruhulla won it for National Conference, Mohammad Khalil Band, Zahoor Ahmad Mir and Javid Mustafa Mir retained their seats for a third time for PDP. G A Saroori, Aijaz Khan and Nawang Rigzin Jora won their seats for third time in a row for Congress, while Lal Singh who parted ways with Congress and joined BJP prior to the Assembly polls, registered his third win.The lone CPI(M) legislator, M Y Tarigami, staved off a stiff resistance and scripted his fourth straight win from the Kulgam constituency of south Kashmir.PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Abdul Rehman Veeri, also from PDP, are the other two leaders who will be in the Assembly for a fourth term.National Conference leaders – former Speaker Mubarak Gul and former forest minister Mian Altaf – along with Peoples Democratic Front leader Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen are the three legislators who recorded their fifth win in the Assembly polls. National Conference heavyweights – Mohammad Shafi Uri and Ali Mohammad Sagar – are the only two legislators who have won for the sixth time, equalling the record held by their party colleague Rather.Although the former finance minister failed to make it to the House for a seventh term, his name will still be heard in the next Assembly as his namesake from arch rival PDP has won the elections from south Kashmir’s Kokernag constituency.

Omar Abdullah resigns as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, says not in mood to make it easy for other parties to form government

Omar Abdullah, who on Wednesday resigned as Chief Minister indicated that his National Conference could play a part in government formation in Jammu and Kashmir after the election threw up a hung assembly.At the same time, the NC leader said the onus of government formation lies primarily on BJP and PDP and his party will adopt a wait and watch approach. Recalling that in 2002 NC with 28 MLAs had opted from first day to stay out of the government formation and “it became very easy for Mufti Sayeed with 16 MLAs to form the government”, he said, “Today I am not in any mood to make it easy for other parties to form a government. Let us see what happens.””It is the duty of PDP and BJP to form the government. Let us see what they will do,” he told reporters after submitting his resignation to Governor NN Vohra. He said the NC has had no discussions with anybody on government formation. “There is no reason for us to keep anyone in or out of power. As I have been saying since yesterday it is not the duty of National Conference (NC) to form the government nor it is duty of NC to help anyone form the government,” Omar gave similar hints with his tweets when he said, “Incidentally in 2002, Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) became Chief Minister with 16 MLAs and NC with 28 (MLAs) sat in opposition. So excuse me if I don’t oblige by rolling over to play dead.”While PDP emerged as the single largest party in the assembly with 28 seats, it fell way short of the 44-seat mark in the 87-member house needed for forming the government. BJP won 25 seats followed by National Conference (15) and Congress 12, while other parties and independents bagged seven seats.Omar also took a dig at PDP saying while his party was pleased with its performance, PDP which has more seats must be feeling defeated as its result did not match the “hype”. “NC has 15+2 (independents) and we are very pleased, PDP has 28 and Mufti Sb (sahib) hasn’t been seen, much less heard. Clearly the more you have the more you want,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.”Expectations were hyped and twisted to such an extent that now 17 feels like a victory and 28 a defeat. Go figure!” he added. Speaking to reporters, Omar said, “Remember in 2002, NC had 28 MLAs and we opted from first day to stay out of the government formation and it became very easy for Mufti Sayeed with 16 MLAs to form the government and stay in the power for three years and rest period to Congress-NC coalition. “Today I am not in any mood to make it easy for other parties to form a government. Let us see what happens.”

BJP captures Jammu, keeps ‘all options’ open to rule in Srinagar

The BJP, which recorded its best ever performance in Jammu and Kashmir yet fell short of its “Mission 44” by 19 seats, is keeping “all options” open on government formation in a hung assembly. The BJP is likely to first strive to explore the possibility of taking the lead in government formation as with the support of People’s Conference’s two seats and an independent, the BJP could equal the tally of the PDP.Having come the closest to power ever in the state, the BJP, which had won just 11 seats in the last assembly election, does not want to let go of the opportunity, party sources said.This could mean that, if necessary, it would not be averse to exploring a tie-up with the PDP, which has emerged the single largest party, or the National Conference. However, any support to the PDP, which the BJP once saw as being soft on secessionist forces, would not be unconditional, sources said.The BJP has won its 25 seats from the Hindu-dominated Jammu region but failed to open its account in the Muslim-dominated Valley, from where the PDP won 28 seats. However, the BJP has managed to capture seven of the 15 seats in Jammu’s Muslim-dominated Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley.”All options are open. The option of forming a BJP government is open. The option of supporting somebody is also open. The option of participating in a government is also open. All three options are open,” BJP chief Amit Shah said at a press conference.However, he refused to divulge which party – PDP or NC – the BJP would prefer to align with. Asked about the party’s “Mission 44” failing, he said “wait for some time. Something good will happen.”Shah said the BJP was now a relevant political force in the state and had the maximum vote percentage of 23.4, which was higher than that of the PDP. He said the results in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, where the BJP has got majority in a state where no party has ever got a clear verdict, was the endorsement of prime minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and his government’s performance in the past six months.Party leaders claimed that the BJP would be intrinsic to any government in the state. With the support of two seats of former separatist Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference and one independent from Udhampur, the BJP feels it has a chance of having a claim to its chief minister in the state. The People’s Conference won Handwara and Kupwara.The BJP, which made development its prime agenda, had targeted the Abdullah and Mufti families in the run-up to elections, while the NC and PDP had campaigned to “keep the BJP out”. In his rallies, prime minister Narendra Modi focused on the development agenda.In Jammu, Modi was a draw resulting in the party making big gains. In the Valley, the BJP was banking on the votes of the migrant Pundits, particularly in Habba Kadal. But, only around a third of them could vote.”Our responsibility is to fulfil our promise of providing a stable government. We will look at all options to ensure that,” said BJP leader Ram Madhav. As for the BJP not being able to win a single seat in the valley or in Ladakh, he said the party will introspect on this.

Magic of 28 in Jammu and Kashmir

National Conference secured bagged 28 seats twice – in 2002 and 2008 – and now PDP has emerged as the largest party with the same figure

PDP workers celebrate their party’s win, in Srinagar, on Tuesday

Since 2002 assembly elections, the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir gets 28 seats. The National Conferene, which was humbled in 2002 elections, secured 28 seats, though being the largest party, it chose to sit in opposition. Six years later, it again got 28 seats in 2008. But this time formed government in alliance with the Congress, which had secured 17 seats. Now in 2014, the PDP emerged as the single largest party, but with same magic number of 28.The BJP, which showed a spectacular performance, failed to send more than one Muslim nominee to assembly. The BJP had fielded 34 Muslim candidates in the state out of the 74 candidates in the assembly having the strength of 87 seats. However, except Abdul Ghani Kohli from Kalakote in Rajouri district, all other Muslim candidates of the party had to bite dust as most of them forfeited their deposits. Abdul Ghani Kohli of BJP has been declared winner in Kala Kote seat as he defeated Rachhpal Singh of National Conference with over six thousand votes. Rachhpal Singh had been winning this constituency for last two elections. Kalakote assembly seat, which was carved out to give representation to the far-flung areas of the state in the assembly in 1996, was twice bagged by National Conference and once by Congress. Rachpal Singh of National Conference and Ashok Kumar Sharma, who fought on the Congress ticket have dominated politics of this seat.The BJP’s gamble of fielding Muslim candidate from this seat paid dividends as the Kalakote assembly constituency has Hindu and Muslim voters in almost equal proportion. By fielding a Muslim candidate, the BJP was able to wean away some Muslim voters which in combination of the BJP’s Hindu voters ensure win for Abdul Ghani Kohli.The Muslim support to Abdul Ghani Kohli seems to have ensured an increase of around five thousand votes from the 2014 General Elections, when the BJP had secured only around 20 thousand votes.Abdul Ghani Kohli is the second Muslim MLA from the saffron party since independence. Earlier, Sheikh Abdul Rehman was elected from Jammu East seat on Bharatiya Jan Sangh ticket in 1972.

Omar Abdullah’s National Conference hit historic low

National Conference (NC), the grand old political party of Jammu and Kashmir, has hit the historic low by wining only 15 seats against 28 it won in 2008 elections.Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who was contesting from two seats won from Beerwa but lost to Sonawar constituency toPDP’s Ashraf Mir who emerged as ‘giant killer’.Even in Srinagar, which has traditionally supported NC, the party lost five out of eight seats, all to PDP. This is for the first time that any party has wrested Srinagar from NC. The only saving grace for NC was the victory in Habba Kadal where Shameema Firdous defeated Moti Koul of BJP.Some heavy weights of NC who lost include veteran leader and former financé minister Abdul Rahim Rather from Charar-e-sharief, Omar’s uncle Mustafa Kamal from Gulmarg, the only woman minister Sakina Ittoo from Noorabad, Nasir Aslam Wani, a close aide and friend of Omar from Amira Kadal and CAPD minister Chowdhry Ramzan from Handwara.The party was banking big on the Srinagar and north Kashmir. Both have proved to be a disappointment. However, the party can take some relief from victories on a few seats in PDP’s bastion of south Kashmir like Pahalgam and Homeshalibugh.It was, however, PDP and BJP which gained the most from the elections. PDP, which had only 21 members in 2008, improved their tally and emerged as single largest party with 28 MLAs. BJP, which had 11 members in 2008 rode high on Modi wave and won 25 seats and all of those from Jammu.Congress too was decimated with winning only 12 seats out of 17 it had won in 2008. Deputy chief minister Tara Chand and urban development minister Raman Bhalla were among the prominent losers.”We have not done that badly as was being projected by the exit polls. Congress is in a better position though we have lost some seats. Our performance is better. We are placed at second in several seats”, said GN Monga, senior vice president of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee.PDP victory too had some glitches with top leaders losing their seats from their traditional bastions. Mehbooba Mufti’s maternal uncle and stand in speaker Sartaj Madni lost from Devsar while Rafi Mir lost from Pahalgam.”The mandate is not decisive and probably not to our expectations. We were expecting more in which we have not succeeded”, said Mehbooba Mufti, PDP president.Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has hinted to hand over his resignation to governor NN Vohra on Wednesday. “Photo changed because the party logo was only being used till the elections & my bio will change once I’ve called on the Governor tomorrow,” Omar tweeted

Man who defeated Omar Abdullah is a first-generation politician

PDP candidate Mohammad Ashraf Mir celebrates his win over chief minister Omar Abdullah

A long alley from the gate to lawn was filled with women singing wanwun (Kashmiri folklore sung mostly during marriages). A stream of men waving green PDP flags was jostling to garland Mohammad Ashraf Mir who stood quiet in the middle of his lawn to welcome the guests personally.An MBA from Bangalore University, 44-year-old Mir became the man of the match on Tuesday when he defeated Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is also the working president of National Conference, in his own backyard.”It is the victory of my people. All credit goes to my people who worked hard for my success. I give it to my supporters who stood by me and with the result I uprooted Omar Abdullah from this constituency,” Mir told dna.Mir landed in the wonderland of politics in 2009 when he contested against National Conference leader Mohammad Yasin Shah in the byelection from Sonawar constituency. The seat was vacated by Omar’s father Farooq Abdullah after he was elected to Rajya Sabha.”I had won the seat at that time but then I was shown the migrant voters. They first announced my victory and later said I have lost (because of migrant voters). I should thank Allah because I learned from that experience and started from the ground level,” he said.Father of son and a daughter, Mir did his schooling from Srinagar before moving out of the state for higher education. Destiny took him to Bangalore where he completed his MBA before returning to Kashmir.Unlike his rival Omar, Mir is the first generation politician in his family. A scion of a prominent business family of Athawajan, he joined People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and rose to the rank of its district president for Srinagar.Seeing his political acumen and skills, PDP made him the Member of Legislative Council (MLC). But his heart was lying somewhere and he wanted to avenge the defeat of 2009 when he lost by a whisker.”I took politics as a challenge because Sonawar constituency had been neglected. I did not belong to political family. We are a business family which had no connection whatsoever with politics,” he said.Come September 2014, Mir was again in the spotlight as Sonawar was badly hit by the floods. His own house was submerged but he did not stop here. Mir took the floods as a challenge and worked hard to provide succour to the affected people.”I was with the people providing them relief. We did not play politics with relief unlike National Conference. We roped in Masjid Intizamia (mosque management) and gave relief to poor,” he said.Mir smelled the victory when shaky Omar deserted Ganderbal and chose Sonawar in Srinagar and Beerwah in Budgam to save his political fortunes. “They were not sure where from they will win and lose. We were pretty sure that we will win Sonawar,” he said.No sooner the results were announced Omar took to twitter to congratulate Mir for his success. “Congratulations to Ashraf Mir for his victory in Sonawar. I wish him & the people all good luck for the next six years. He’s now my local MLA,” he tweeted.

Omar Abdullah to tender resignation tomorrow

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will submit his resignation on Wednesday when he will make a customary call on state Governor N N Vohra.The chief minister, whose party National Conference won 17 seats, including two independents from Zanskar and Udhampur supported by his party, gave the indication about his resignation on microblogging site Twitter.”…my bio (biodata) will change once I’ve called on the Governor tomorrow,” he tweeted.The 44-year-old Omar recalled his previous election and said that he was very nervous a day before counting in 2008. “6 years ago I was nervous as hell the night before counting, this time I’m strangely calm. What will be will be & I’ll be a happy person,” he said.

India played an active role in representing the voice of developing countries at Lima Conference, says Prakash Javadekar

Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said that the recently held Climate Change Conference, which was held in the Peruvian capital Lima, decided that the needs of all nations need to be addressed in a balanced manner, adding that India played an active role in representing the voice of the developing countries. “India was able to play an active role in representing the interest of developing countries by constructive cooperation with like-minded developing countries and effective and persuasive presentation of its national position,” Javadekar said, while giving a suo-motu statement in the Lok Sabha. “The conference decided that the new agreement will be under the convention and will reflect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances. It was also agreed that the new agreement will address all elements that is mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building and transparency of action and support in a balanced manner,” he added. Javadekar further stated that the conference had decided to not allow member nations to not back out of pledges given. “It was decided that countries should not backslide from current pledges. This is especially relevant in view of the action of some countries, which had gone back on their Kyoto Protocol commitments,” he said. “The Lima Conference agreed that the contribution of countries has to be more than their current commitments,” he added. The minister further stated that it was decided that developed countries will provide and mobilise enhanced financial support to developing country parties for ambitious mitigation and adaptation action. “The Green Climate Fund has been set up and over US $10 billion have already been pledged to it. However, the goal of mobilising US $100 billion per year by 2020 is still a far cry,” he said.”It was also decided to urge contributors to confirm pledges in the form of fully executed contribution agreements taking note of the fact that at least 50% of pledges made till November, 2014 should be reflected as fully executed contribution agreements by 30th April, 2015,” he added. Javadekar also said that many countries appreciated India’s aggressive efforts on climate change under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Climate Change Conference of Parties, which falls under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol were this year held in Lima, with Javadekar representing India.

Omar Abdullah hints at possibility of NC backing PDP

The outgoing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday hinted at an intriguing possibility of supporting his party National Conference’s (NC) bitter political rival PDP in forming a government in the state after the hung verdict in the Assembly polls.Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s PDP has emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats, 16 short of a majority in the 87-member legislature. BJP got 25 seats and NC 17, including two Independents supported by it, followed by the Congress with 12 seats. PDP’s options are either to align with BJP or cobble together a government with the support of Congress and some independents. Support from NC has never been considered as an option by political observers.Introducing a new element in the scenario, Omar told PTI that it was for PDP to approach him. “I don’t rule out or rule in anything thereafter,” he said. Reminded that NC’s support to PDP has never been envisaged, Omar said, “was Mr Nitish Kumar’s coming together with Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar ever thought of?” He virtually ruled out any support to the BJP, saying that there was only one per cent likelihood of that. “I am leaving one per cent crack open.” Omar, however, maintained that he would not be approaching anyone. “But that does not stop anyone from approaching me,” he said. Putting the onus on PDP, BJP and Congress to cobble up a government, Omar said it was not for him to unilaterally extend support to any formation.Asked about BJP Chief Amit Shah’s remarks at a press conference that he was keeping all options open on government formation, Omar said he had not got any call from Shah. Acknowledging that he was earlier today not sure of returning as an MLA, he said now he was going to sit back and leave it to other parties to form the new government. There is only one road for the NC and that is upwards and “we have an important role to play in coming days.” Omar, however, said that he had expected the PDP to do much better.The Chief Minister said the BJP had done well but had become victim of its own propaganda. “If before elections they had projected themselves to do better than the past, they would have been a relaxed lot today.”However, their slogans like Mission 44 and Mission 52 only punctured their happiness,” he said.Earlier during his victory run at Beerwah, Omar said NC would play the role of a good and constructive opposition. “NC is satisfied with its own performance. We went further than what people expected from us. Opinion polls were not giving us so many seats. And I feel that given the situation, if we get 17 seats, no one in the NC should feel bad.”We are ready to play the role of a good and constructive opposition. And we will see later as to what will happen,” Omar told reporters here. Asked about Congress general secretary and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s reported offer of support to the PDP, Omar said the national party had time and again proved that there were no permanent friends or foes in politics.”Congress has this quality that they time and again prove that in politics there can be no permanent friends or foes. Azad, perhaps would be ready to do everything to go to Rajya Sabha again and for that even if he has to fall at Mufti’s feet, he will,” he said.Commenting on the possibility of PDP allying with the BJP, Omar said, “I cannot say anything on that. It is for the PDP and the BJP to see”. The NC leader, who lost from Sonawar seat, said he had known that retaining all the eight seats in Srinagar would be difficult. “I had known that Srinagar district would be difficult for us this time. We had all the eight seats and Sonawar was a constituency which we had won three times out of the last four and there was anti-incumbency against NC. And we had to bear the brunt of the destruction caused by the floods there.”

Rajnath Singh delighted with BJP performance in polls

Expressing his delight with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance in assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, Union Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that one must wait for the final result. “Let’s wait for the final result, but the BJP’s performance is very nice,” said Singh.So far in Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah has lost from Sonawar assembly constituency but won from Beerwah.Also Read: Jammu & Kashmir assembly election results: PDP emerging as single largest party; BJP close secondMeanwhile, PDP’s Altaf Bukhari has defeated BJP’s Hina Bhat in Amirakadal, Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference has won from Handwara and PDP’s Mufti Mohd Sayeed has won from Anantnag.National Conference’s Devender Singh Raina has won from the Nagrota assembly constituency and party’s Ali Mohammad Sagar has won from the Khanyar constituency. Also Read: Jharkhand assembly election results: BJP set to form government

Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather’s defeat ends record 36-year stint in Jammu & Kashmir Assembly

Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather’s record run in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly ended on Tuesday when he lost from Charar-e-Sharief while his National Conference colleague Ali Mohammad Sagar equalled his feat of sixth consecutive victories by winning Khanyar seat.Rather, who represented Charar-e-Sharief constituency for a record 36 years in the Assembly, lost to PDP candidate and former Legislative Council chairman Ghulam Nabi Lone. Rather, who last lost an election in 1972, was defeated by Lone by over 5,000 votes. Rather had won six consecutive assembly elections from Charar-e-Sharief constituency in central Kashmir Budgam district.It was third time lucky for Lone who unsuccessfully contested against Rather in 2002 and in 2008. While Rather won by 3,755 votes in 2002, he emerged victorious by 6,375 votes in 2008. Born at Badipora village of Chadoora, Rather (59) was first elected to the assembly from the constituency in 1977.A law graduate, Rather was a practising lawyer from 1971 to 1982 and held important portfolios in the National Conference governments including the post of Speaker. He also served as Finance Minister several times besides holding Agriculture, Rural development, Law and parliamentary affairs portfolios.Earlier, the constituency was represented by National Conference leader Bakshi Abdul Rashid in 1957 and 1962 and Congress leader Abdul Quyoom in 1967 and 1972. National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar won the Khanyar assembly seat by over 1200 votes, staving off stiff competition from PDP candidate and former trade union leader Khurshid Alam. This is Sagar’s sixth consecutive win in the assembly polls, equalling the record held by Rather.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) hope to establish base in Jammu and Kashmir

PDP had expressed confidence about forming the government, stating the same via a tweet from their official twitter handle.

Sajjad Lone

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday said that the decision of choosing an ally to form the government is a ‘hard one’, adding that such a decision has to be taken without ‘compromising on the ideology and agenda of the party’. “This is a very complicated situation. Jammu and Kashmir is a very complex state and we need to reach out to every region, every community to have an inclusive government. How we do that without compromising on our ideology and agenda is a great challenge,” PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar told ANI. Earlier on Monday, the PDP had expressed confidence about forming the government, stating the same via a tweet from their official twitter handle. “PDP will get majority of seats to form govt. and will work on the agenda it has promised to voters,” it wrote.Also Read: PDP breaches National Conference’s stronghold in SrinagarMeanwhile, former separatist and People’s Conference chairman, Sajjad Lone, expressed ‘happiness’ on the current trends but held back on commenting on lending support to either the BJP or the PDP.”These are just early trends. The counting still in progress, but I am happy. Let us see what happens,” he said. With the counting of the votes underway, the latest reports indicate that the BJP and the PDP are running neck to neck in the state. Meanwhile, the NC seems to have lost ground since the 2008 assembly elections.

All eyes riveted on Jammu- Kashmir, Jharkhand for assembly poll results

RNA Research & Archives
Counting of votes will be held on Tuesday in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand which witnessed a record turnout in the multi-cornered contests to elect their assemblies.The five-phase election in the two states which stretched for nearly a month saw 66% voting with authorities making massive security arrangements to prevent any attempts by militants or Maoists to disrupt the polls. “The counting will begin at 8 AM and the first trends are expected to trickle within an hour or so. All security arrangements are in place at the counting centres,” an Election Commission official said on Monday. In Jammu and Kashmir, where polling was held for 87 seats, the turnout was the highest after 1987 despite boycott calls by separatists and militants.The militancy-hit state has seen a quadrangular fight among ruling National Conference, main opposition PDP, BJP and Congress, which parted ways with NC ahead of the polls. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who led NC’s bid to retain power, and Opposition PDP’s chief ministerial candidate Mufti Mohammad Sayeed are among the 821 candidates. While Omar contested from Beerwah seat in Budgam district and Sonawar seat in Srinagar, Sayeed is seeking re-election from Anantnag Assembly segment in the south Kashmir district.Most of the observers will keenly watch the result of Handwara Assembly constituency in north Kashmir Kupwara district where separatist-turned mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone is trying his luck. Jharkhand, which has been battling Maoist violence, registered an overall 66% turnout for the 81 assembly seats. The state, which was carved out of Bihar in 2000, bettered the previous mark of 54.2% in the 2004 assembly polls.Altogether 1,136 candidates, including 111 women, contested in Jharkhand an eligible electorate of 2,08,52,437, including 98,93,540 female voters. Out of the total seats, 28 are reserved for the Scheduled Tribes and nine for the Scheduled Castes. Jharkhand, which has seen nine governments and three stints of President’s rule in 14 years, saw fractured mandates in both 2005 and 2009 assembly elections. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) headed by Chief Minister Hemant Soren is seeking to retain power in the face of challenge by BJP. Most political observers and opinion polls are predicting a hung Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir. There are speculations about various political parties trying to work out an alliance, depending on the numbers thrown up on TuesdayOmar’s National Conference, which was the single-largest part in 2008 polls winning 28 seats, is facing an uphill task to retain its position. PDP, which had 21 members in the 11th Assembly, is expecting to be the single-largest party, riding on the anti-incumbency and anger among the flood victims. However, the party leadership is silent about any post-poll alliance so far. The ongoing elections will be a litmus test as much for BJP, which is making its first serious foray in Jammu and Kashmir to form a government, as for Congress, which will be hoping to stay relevant in the state politics following the massive rout in Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. BJP launched an aggressive campaign as part of its ‘Mission 44+’ — the magic number required for simple majority in the state Assembly — during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top leaders of the party addressed election rallies across the state. The election outcome will also judge BJP’s assessment of its chances of making inroads into the only Muslim-majority state of the country. The party did not name a chief ministerial candidate. BJP had 11 MLAs and any increase in the tally this year will be claimed as a Modi victory. The party is hoping to make gains in the two states after wresting Haryana and Maharashtra two months ago. While the NC is already claiming a victory, some party leaders are giving away a sense of uneasiness over the results.Sheikh Mustafa Kamal said National Conference will sit in the opposition if it did not get the numbers to form the next government. Congress, which had 17 MLAs, on the other hand has softened the election rhetoric. Instead of claiming to be the single-largest party, the party leaders are maintaining that no government formation will be possible without Congress involvement.National Conference and Congress, which were coalition partners for the past six years in the state but decided to go alone in the Assembly polls, fought a bitter war of words during the election campaign. In 2008 polls, NC had won 28 seats, Congress 17 and PDP 21. BJP had 11, Panthers’ Party 3 and CPM had one. Independents had bagegd six seats. In Jharkhand, BJP and JMM had won 18 seats each in the last election. Congress had 13, JVN(P) had 11, AJSU had six, RJD five snd JD(U) two.”All arrangements have been made for the counting at 24 centres across the state,” an EC official said in Ranchi. Chief Minister Hemant Soren (Dumka/Barhait) and ex chief ministers Arjun Munda (Kharsawan), Madhu Koda (Majhgaon) and Babulal Marandi (Dhanwar/Giridih) are among the total 1,136 candidates, including 111 women, whose fate will be known tomorrow. Other prominent candidates in the fray were Speaker Shashank Sekhar Bhokta (Sarath), ex-Speaker C P Singh (Ranchi) and all the ministers in the Hemant Soren cabinet, besides several sitting MLAs and ex-ministers.BJP, which contested in 72 seats, has a pre-poll alliance with the AJSU party which was in the fray in eight seats and Lok Janshakti party contested one seat. Ruling JMM contested in 79 seats. Congress contested in 62 seats, RJD in 22 and JDU in 11. Despite their pre-poll alliance, the three partners clashed in some of the constituencies. This is the third assembly elections in Jharkhand in 14 years of its existence but the state has seen nine governments interspersed with three periods of central rule.The state has so far been ruled by five tribal chief ministers — Babulal Marandi, Arjun Munda (thrice), Shibu Soren (thrice), Madhu Koda (once) and Hemant Soren (incumbent). BJP had formed the first coalition government under Babulal Marandi and Arjun Munda had been the head of BJP-led coalitions thrice. The term of Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir assemblies ends on January 3 and January 19 respectively.

India to be pro-active in enhancing energy efficiency: Prakash Javadekar

India will be pro-active in enhancing energy efficiency and expanding renewable energy in the fight against climate change, government told Parliament on Monday while giving details of its role in a recent UN-led global meet on the issue.Making a suo-moto statement in Lok Sabha on UN Climate Conference held in Peruvian capital Lima this month, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said there were efforts by some developed countries to undermine the basic tenents of the UN Convention. “The recognition that all elements need to be addressed in a balanced manner is a key outcome of the Conference as there were efforts by some developed countries to undermine the basic tenents of the Convention,” the Minister said.Javadekar said the key focus of the current negotiations were finalisation of elements of the draft negotiating text for 2015 Paris Agreement in view of the Durban (COP 2011) decision to finalise “a protocol, another legal agreement or an agreed outcome with legal force,” applicable to all, by December, next year. He said India was guided by the vision of the Government and Cabinet mandate and “our stand in the negotiations was also guided by the principle of Equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities,” which is the bedrock principle of the UNFCCC. “The Conference decided that the new agreement will be under the Convention and will reflect the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities in the light of different national circumstances. “It was also agreed that the new agreement will address all elements that is mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building and transparency of action and support in a balanced manner,” Javadekar said. Javadekar said some Parties were endeavouring to impose an ex-ante assessment of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in the process. It meant that the INDCs would be mitigation centric and that after countries submit their INDCs, these would be aggregated to ascertain whether the sum total of contributions is adequate to achieve the global goal of containing temperature rise to below 2 degree Celsius by the end of the century from pre-industrial levels, he said. Any gap between the two could mean pressure on countries to re-submit their INDCs or enhance their contributions. However, India and many other countries of the developing world were not in favour of such externally imposed review as it would compromise the sovereignty of Parties in determining their targets as per their national circumstances,” the Minister said.”We have been able to successfully ensure that countries can include adaptation, finance, technology transfer etc also in their INDCs in addition to mitigation and there is no “ex-ante assessment” to be undergone. “Now countries have be submit quantifiable information on the reference point (base year), time frames, scope and planning process, assessments etc. related to the INDCs. “This would only be published on the UNFCCC website and a Synthesis Report of the aggregate effect of the INDCs of those Parties that have communicated their INDCs by 1st October, 2015 will be prepared by November 1, 2015,” the Minister said. Javadekar said the enhancement of action in the pre-2020 period was another important issue.He said the Conference decided to accelerate action on enhancing the pre-2020 actions like early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period, revisiting of targets and conditionalities associated with it and provision of finance, technology and capacity building support by developed countries to developing countries in consonance with Warsaw decisions. “The Parties also agreed to organise further technical expert meetings to examine options for further action in the period 2015-2020,” the Minister said.

Ali Anwar trashes exit polls, claims BJP won’t come to power in Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir

Refusing to give any credence to the exit poll predictions in regards to Jharkhand and in Jammu and Kashmir, Janata Dal (United) leader Ali Anwar on Sunday claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would not be able to form governments in any of the two states. “This is just an exit poll; the exact poll is yet to come. I do not think whether it is in Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi or Jharkhand the BJP would be able to form government,” he said. However, the JD-U leader acknowledged that the people were distraught about the local governments and there was no strong alliance within the opposition which he said could help the BJP. Various exit polls have reportedly predicted clear majority for the BJP in Jharkhand Assembly elections, and a hung assembly in Jammu and Kashmir. According to all exit polls, the BJP appears all set to form next government in Jharkhand, ABP News-Nielsen says the BJP will get about 52 seats in the 81-member Jharkhand assembly. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) is predicted to win 10 seats, Congress 7, and RJD and JDU 1 each. Today’s Chanakya has predicted a landslide victory for the BJP in Jharkhand with the party projected to win 61 seats. It predicts a debacle for the Congress with the party projected to win just 4 seats. JMM is predicted to win 12 seats, while others winning 4. ITG-CICERO exit poll suggests the BJP will get 43 to 51 seats in Jharkhand, while the JMM with 14 to 18 seats will emerge the second-largest party. The Congress is predicted to win 7 to 11 seats while others are also predicted to win 7 to 11 seats. In Jammu and Kashmir, C-Voter predicts no clear majority for any party with the PDP emerging as the single-largest party. It has predicted 32 to 38 seats for the PDP, 27 to 33 for the BJP, 8 to 14 for the National Conference and 4 to 10 for the Congress. The five-phase voting in the two states concluded on Saturday. While Jharkhand witnessed the highest ever poll percentage of over 66%, Jammu and Kashmir recorded a voter turnout of about 66%, the highest ever in 25 years.

Exit polls predict BJP to win Jharkhand but to fall short of majority in Jammu and Kashmir

BJP is projected to get a majority in Jharkhand while Jammu and Kashmir may return a hung verdict with PDP emerging as the single largest party followed by BJP in assembly elections in the two states, according to two separate exit polls on Saturday. As curtains came down on polling in the two states, India TV-CVoter exit poll has predicted 37-45 seats for BJP and ally AJSU in 81-seat Jharkhand Assembly while Todays Chanakya has projected a saffron sweep, giving the party 61 seats. Its overall tally may go up or come down by eight seats, it added.BJP is, however, likely to fall much short of its mission-44 target in the 87-member J and K Assembly. India TV has put its likely tally in the state at 27-33 seats with a lion’s share, 25-31, coming from Jammu region. Ruling National Conference may register its worst-ever performance and is predicted by India TV poll to come third.India TV has projected 32-38 seats for Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP. National Conference will come third by winning only 8-14 seats, followed by Congress with 4-10 seats. Others may get 2-8 seats. PDP is projected to put up a remarkable show in the Kashmir valley and expected to win 29-35 of 46 seats in the region. The poll has projected 7-13 seats for NC and 0-2 for Congress in the Valley. BJP, which had run an aggressive campaign in Kashmir with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing rallies, could draw a blank in the Valley. Its expected tally is 0-1.Both BJP and Congress are forecast to pick 1-3 seats in Ladakh, which has four Assembly constituencies. In previous J & K Assembly polls in 2008, NC had won 28, PDP 21, Congress 17 and BJP 11 seats while others triumphed in 10 places. In Jharkhand, ruling JMM has been projected by India TV to win 15-23 seats while Todays Chanakya has given it 12 seats with a margin of four on either side. Congress is expected to get 3-7 seats and 4 seats, India TV and Todays Chanakya respectively said. In the last Jharkhand elections, BJP and JMM had won 18 seats each followed by Congress with 14. Former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi-led JVM, which had won 11 seats in previous polls, is projected to fare poorly.

Navjot Singh Sidhu blames ‘insecure’ Parkash Singh Badal for attack on convoy

Parkash Singh Badal

Former cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday blamed Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for the attack on his convoy in Jammu and Kashmir and claimed the latter was insecure about his (Sidhu’s) popularity. “My popularity in Punjab and J-K is making Badal Sahib insecure; he cannot say anything on Sidhu politically…….just go and ask Badal Sahib who is responsible for the drugs sale? Who is responsible for stalling the development in Amritsar? We have to stop dynasty politics. I openly invite Badal Sahib to come on any national channel for a discussion,” Sidhu told media persons here. “Sending 15 people will not end rallies, I have addressed more than 50 rallies…I can even lay down my life for my party…. When I used to campaign for Badal Sahib to make him win, then everything was fine. Now, the people of Punjab are demanding a change. He feels insecure when I utter one line,” he said. Earlier in the day, unknown assailants attacked Sidhu’s convoy, pelting the cars with stones. In the melee, the windscreens of some cars were damaged. On Wednesday, Sidhu had reportedly appealed to the people of Jammu to ‘disband’ the Congress, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) from the state, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had envisaged a vision for the state in which Jammu and Kashmir would compare favourably with Gujarat. This attack is the second that Sidhu has faced after the former Amritsar MP was reportedly roughed up earlier this week by unidentified Sikh youths after he had addressed a rally.

Jammu and Kashmir polls: FIR against BJP candidate

An FIR was filed on Sunday against BJP candidate from Shopian Javed Ahmad Qadri, who was caught on camera thrashing a man in a polling booth, while another party nominee Hina Bhat allegedly slapped an election official claiming irregularities.The two incidents involving the BJP nominees were reported as polling in the fourth phase of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections involving 18 constituencies remained by and large remained peaceful.An FIR has been lodged after an election agent of an Independent alleged that he was manhandled by a BJP candidate in Shopian district inside the polling station, Election Commission officials said in Srinagar and Delhi.With regard to alleged slapping of a polling official by BJP’s Amirakadal candidate Hina Bhat, Chief Electoral Officer Umang Narula said he has asked the district election officer to investigate the matter and submit a report. “Once the report is submitted, we will decide the next course of action,” he told reporters in Srinagar.Qadri was booked after he thrashed an unidentified man claiming he had entered the polling booth without a voter slip at Moochwad in Shopian district where polling was underway. The BJP candidate accused the PDP and National Conference workers of committing malpractices in the elections. “The workers of the PDP and National Conference have been doing this for the last 60 years,” he alleged after the incident which was caught on tape.In the second incident, Bhat entered into a heated argument with polling staff at a voting booth in Chanapora area of Amirakadal constituency. Eyewitnesses alleged that Bhat slapped a polling official but she denied it and claimed that she had sought action against the official as he was indulging in alleged election malpractices inside the booth. “Our polling agents were not allowed inside the premises for nearly two hours. I visited the polling station to seek an explanation from the officials.”When I reached the Chanapora polling station, I found the presiding officer was near the EVM with a woman voter to which I objected, leading to an argument,” she said. Bhat claimed the polling officials beat up one of her workers, who has been hospitalised. Bhat said that she has complained to the Election Commission over the conduct of the presiding officer and sought repolling. “I am not apologising if they are doing something wrong.I think I should have slapped him,” she said, as National Conference and PDP leaders condemned the incidents. “The BJP candidate in Srinagar who earlier threatened to pick up a gun over (abrogation of) Art(icle) 370 now slaps a polling officer. Well done,” Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said the BJP candidates had no right to assault anyone.

Thoughts with parents undergoing surgery in UK: Omar Abdullah

As polling was underway in Sonawar assembly constituency in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who is contesting from the seat, said his thoughts were with his parents who are undergoing an organ transplant in the UK.”My thoughts are with my parents as they both prepare for surgery today. I wish I could be there with them but that wasn’t to be,” Omar wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.The Chief Minister reminisced about his father’s presence during the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.”Seven months ago when dad came out after voting for himself he quipped that he’d done a selfie. I guess now I’ve done a selfie as well,” he said in another tweet.Farooq Abdullah was National Conference’s candidate for the Lok Sabha polls but had to taste his first electoral defeat at the hands of PDP candidate Tariq Hamid Karra.For the first time in nearly four decades, the 77-year-old President of the ruling NC, who is in the UK for treatment of failing kidneys for the last four months, has been unable to lead his party’s campaign in an assembly election.Taking to reporters after casting his vote, Omar said he was not worried about anti-incumbency as incumbency has its advantages too.”There were number of good works which were completed in last six years. I am sure people will recognise them and reward with votes,” he said.On the reported praise lavished by PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally in Jammu yesterday, the Chief Minister said it was surprising as the PDP leader had opposed the BJP leader during the first four phases of elections.”Suddenly, Sayeed goes to Jammu and discovers virtues in the Gujarat model. People of Jammu and Kashmir are not fools.They have seen his unique brand of politics and he will be justly rewarded for that too,” Omar said. On the additional focus on polling in Srinagar district, Omar said it was due to the fact that it was the capital of the state and the National Conference had won all the eight seats in 2008 assembly elections.”There is an additional interest in how Srinagar votes because the media was highly critical of the flood aftermath and linked it to the election results. We will wait and see what happens in Srinagar,” he said.The Chief Minister said his satisfaction over the work done over the past six years was not of importance as it was the perception of the voters that matters as they will make the decision.”The change works both ways. At the moment we have 28 seats and if they (people) want change at best I will lose some of the seats I hold. But then, I should pick up seats that I haven’t held for 18 years plus. There are seats where National Conference has won for last 12 years,” he said.Omar said NC was not looking at any post poll alliance as the results will be surprising.”We will discuss this after December 23 (when counting of votes will be held),” he said.Omar is contesting from Sonwar Assembly segment of Srinagar after he chose not to contest from his family stronghold of Ganderbal constituency. He was also in fray from Beerwah seat, in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, which went to polls in the third phase.

Habba Kadal constituency crucial for BJP in Jammu-Kashmir assembly elections

As the battle for Srinagar heats up, the BJP seems to be giving sleepless nights to its opponents in Habba Kadal constituency. This is the place where Muslims and Pandits lived side by side before militancy struck the region. Be it thye congested neighbourhoods of Ganpatyar or Kak Sari, Habba Kadal or Chinkral Mohalla, the Pandits would follow their muslim neighbours to temples after the Azan was recited in mosques. Bhajan and naat (praising Prophet Muhammad) would reverberate. The constituency was a typical microcosm of Kashmiryat that ruled supreme when Kashmir was peaceful. Habba Kadal is the only 100 per cent urban population constituency with history of boycott and the highest migrant voters. A test case for the BJP to open its account in the Muslim majority valley, Habba Kadal is at the heart of battle between the saffron party and the rest (mostly National Conference). It is however the migrant pandits’ votes that could tilt the balance in BJP’s favour. The constituency, which has not gone beyond 12 per cent of turnout in two decades, could spring a surprise. “BJP has promised three seats to be reserved for pandits in the valley. It is very positive about our settlement in the valley. I am astonished to notice that NC and PDP have not given a single mandate to pandits. Therefore we have appealed pandits to vote for the BJP”, said Ashwani Chrangoo, president of Panun Kashmir, an apex body of migrant pandits. BJP has fielded Moti Kaul, a Kashmiri pandit from Habba Kadal apparently keeping in view the past history of the constituency. National Conference has fielded sitting MLA Shameem Firdous while PDP has reposed faith in journalist turned politician Zaffar Mehraj. Congress and Lok Janshakti Party have field two pandits, Raman Mattoo who was acquitted in sex scandal case and Sanjay Saraf respectively. Habba Kadal has an electorate of 54852 of which 16271 migrant votes which can prove a decisive in the event of less polling. In 2008 only 11.62 per cent polling was recorded in the constituency with only 5769 voters mustering courage to go to polling booths to vote. “Migrant votes are important but they are a very small number. We are expecting good voter turnout for us. I am hoping they (Muslim) will (come to vote) in spite what may be the situation. I I have got connected to youth and weaker section of society and they are yearning for change”, said Moti Kaul, BJP candidate from Habba Kadal constituency National Conference candidate from the constituency Habba Kadal Shameema Firdous, who is chairperson of State Women Commission, said BJP is trying to polarise the elections on communal lines. “We have worked hard in the constituency. We are seeking votes on the work that we have done. BJP candidate has been living outside. We have been on ground. I am hopeful that people this time around will come out and vote”, Shameema said.

PM Narendra Modi attacks Congress, National Congress, PDP, calls them offenders who must be punished

Projecting BJP as a fresh option in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said Congress “sneaks” into every government that is formed in the state but attacks these dispensations just before elections.Blaming Congress, NC and PDP for the problems in the state, he asked people to punish all “three offenders” in the Assembly polls.Addressing a poll rally here, Modi took a dig at Congress saying the party “jumps” into every government that is formed in the state, be it led by PDP or NC, but withdraws from it just before the elections and starts attacking these dispensations. “If you punish them once, they will realise their mistakes. Has BJP ever formed the government in Jammu and Kashmir? Did we ever commit any mistake? Don’t you know who are the first, second and third offenders,” he asked the people who cheered back in response.Maintaining that the people of the state knew who the “three offenders” were, Modi said they would not mend their ways unless they were punished by the voters. “Congress sneaks into the government whenever one is formed and gets away with all the benefits. Then they say that they are against this government and that the government has done all wrong.”Whether PDP comes or NC to power, they join hands with them and come out of the government whenever elections near.” Attacking the National Conference and PDP for “dynastic politics and nepotism”, the Prime Minister asked the people: “Are there no more sons and daughters in J and K? Will only one father-son and father-daughter run the governments here? Do you have to always remain in their tangle?” “Don’t look at those father-son, father-daughter duos.Look at your own sons and daughters. Herein lies your benefit.”

Award goes to 16 crore children across the world still deprived of their childhood, says Kailash Satyarthi

Uday Mohite
Till Friday morning, it was like any other day at the Bachpan Bachao Andolan office in Govindpuri, where Kailash Satyarthi had tea with some of the rescued children and co-workers. By afternoon, as news spread of his getting the Nobel Peace Prize, he was the most sought after man.Amidst the frenzy that broke out after the declaration of the Nobel Peace Prize, between obliging the media, friends and well-wishers who swarmed his office, he suddenly went into another room where US president Barack Obama was on the phone to congratulate him. Satyarthi spoke to Obama for ten minutes. This was followed by a call from the Peace Prize Committee. He was to meet prime minister Narendra Modi a little later.”As you gather around me to click my pictures, take bytes from me, I recall all those children who are still working for some family, or are breaking away stones in a mine, or are taking out hot bricks from a kiln. They remain invisible and unnoticed,” he told reporters dedicating his award to the 16 crore child labourers who are still stuck in collieries. “This award also goes to those 16 crore children across the world who are still languishing in various jobs and are deprived of their childhood, their education, their health-care and their fundamental right to freedom,” said Kailash Satyarthi.Satyarthi, a pioneer of the fight against child labour, has till now been responsible for freeing of more than 83,000 children from over 144 countries, is the first Indian to have won the prize and shares it with the Pakistani child activist who took a bullet to her head in her defiance to go to school.A release from the Nobel Peace Prize Committee said the prize was given to Satyarthi and Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.60-year-old Satyarthi, who gave up his job as a civil engineer to take up the cudgels against child labour, said that a young boy of 5 had inspired him to take up the fight. “When I started going to school at the age of 5 or 6 in my hometown Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, I saw a boy of my own age who used to work at the doorstep of my school. I asked my teachers why did he have a life so different than mine, and they said that it was because he was poor. Then I asked his father, who said that we are born to work,” said Satyarthi, adding it is a big myth that poverty perpetuates child labour. “Let me also tell you that it is an absolute myth that poverty causes and perpetuates child labour. Child labour causes poverty and perpetuates poverty and illiteracy. We cannot hide behind the argument of poverty and rob a child of his childhood. It is unacceptable.”Satyarthi was responsible for two of the largest civil society movements — the Global March Against Child Labour, a worldwide coalition of NGOs, Teachers’ Union and Trade Unions, and the Global Campaign for Education.He is also the co-founder and member of the High Level Panel on Education along with Kofi Annan, Gordon Brown, Graca Michel, Queen Rania and other world leaders. He has addressed the UN General Assembly, UNHRC, UNESCO, International Labour Conference and several Parliamentary hearings.As the news of his win broke on social media, it turned away the tide of Indian and Pakistan tweeters who were fighting with each other given the situation in the border areas. Satyarthi felt that it was a huge statement by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to have given the award to him and Yousafzai at the same time. “It is a big statement from the Nobel Committee, and the statement has to be read in between the lines not just by the governments but by the people of both countries, too. I have been working in Pakistan for many years, have travelled there and have rescued labourers there, too. We have to believe in peace. It is humankind’s curse that children need to be born free. Peace in inevitable. We talk of prosperity and rights, we cannot ignore the fundamental principle of peace,” said Satyarthi.Originally published on October 11, 2014

PM Narendra Modi envisions an Android Kashmir; skips Article 370, other controversial issues

Prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday skipped the sensitive issue of Article 370 and instead tried to strike a chord with the people of the Valley promising development in exchange of their love and affection.”As Pradaan Sewak (prime servant) your sorrow is mine, your pain is mine and your problem is mine. That is why we have to take Kashmir to new heights of development… I have come to share your sorrow. You have given me so much. There is nothing bigger than love. It is now my responsibility to return this love,” Modi said in his emotional address at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium here.Intelligence reports put the turnout at the rally at around 10,000. However, BJP spokesperson Khalid Jahangir said more than 30,000 people attended the rally.Earlier addressing a rally in Samba Jammu, Modi said people have created a new history by voting in huge numbers and reposing faith in democracy. “You have shown to the world that ballot is more powerful than bullet. Finger on AK 47 trigger can kill people but the finger that presses EVMs can change the life of the country,” he said.Modi said the misguided youth are now feeling the burden of AK 47 and wants to try android one. “Times have gone and the misguided youth have realized that AK 47 is a burden. Now he thinks to get rid of 10 kg and wants android in hand. We have to create the power of android one. We want to give computer in hands so that they can live theirdreams,” he said.Invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Srinagar rally, Modi said he would fulfil the dream of former prime minister to restore aan baan and shaan (grace, glory and grandeur) of Kashmir.”Atal Bihari Vajpayee had made a good beginning. The process Atalji started I have to take it forward. The dream Atalji had seen and I will have to fulfil it. I consider it my duty. Atalji had talked about insyanat, Kashmiriyat and jumorhat (humanity, pluralistic culture and democracy). These are the three pillars on whose support our Kashmir will attain aan. baan and shaan,” he said.Referring to Chattergam killings, Modi said for the first time the army gave a press conference admitting its mistake. “A case has been registered against those who did it. It is the proof of my good intentions. I have come to give justice,” he said.Lashing out at Congress and dynastic politics, Modi said he has came to Kashmir with a development mantra of sabka saath sabka vikas. “You have seen Congress, baap beti (father daughter of PDP) and baap beta (father son of National Conference) government. What did they give you? They did everything for themselves. Get rid of these three and give me chance to serve. I will make your dreams mine,” he said.Modi promised to boost the tourism and bring the tourists from all over the world to Kashmir in a bid to generate employment and help the economic development of the people. “For India what better than Kashmir to showcase to the world. We have to take Kashmir to the heights of development so that our Dal Lake remains busy with tourists,” he saidTouching the hearts of people, Modi said Kashmir has also lost the children of innocent families and it is no mean a loss. “In Kashmir army jawans too have died and police men had also attained martyrdom. Kashmir has also lost the children of innocent families. This loss is no mean. No word has the power to fill this loss. By sharing the sorrow we can lessen the pain,” he said.

Narendra Modi tries to get BJP ‘unthinkable’ win in Jammu & Kashmir

When prime minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in the Muslim-dominated Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, he spoke of how he had travelled to the area by bus while working for the party. Modi is now trying to give a final push by addressing a first ever rally in Srinagar to woo the people in Muslim majority valley. Why is Modi focusing on Jammu and Kashmir? Jammu and Kashmir has been the centre of BJP’s strategy since Jan Sangh days. Coming to power in the only Muslim majority state of country has been the dream of the party. After holding three rallies in Jammu, two of them in Muslim majority areas of Poonch and Kishtwar, the BJP is now trying to test waters in Kashmir and that is why Modi is holding his first rally in the separatist stronghold of Srinagar on Monday. The party, which has never won any of the eight assembly seats of Srinagar, has put up candidates in seven of the constituencies. They are hoping to win some of them particularly Habba Kadal where they have put up a Kashmir pandit candidate hoping to cash in on 16000 migrant pandit votes. Is BJP confident to form government? Since he took over as prime minister, Modi has already visited the state five times. BJP sources said the prime minister’s frequent visits were to send a message that the party was “very serious” about its battle for Jammu and Kashmir. The party also tried to make its presence felt during the floods, when the organisation was active in relief and rehabilitation. Though BJP says they would achieve the Mission 44 yet they are not averse to post poll tie up to keep Congress, National Conference and PDP out of power. Can BJP make dent in the Muslim majority Kashmir? Aware of its limitations in the valley, the BJP is counting on “restructuring” of the voting pattern and what it describes as “disillusionment” with the National Conference and PDP to open its account.Having entered an understanding for a post-poll tie-up with around four smaller outfits, including Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference and Hakeem Yasin’s PDF, the party is hoping to become an anchor for an alternative front. Sources said some of these outfits were claiming to be chief minister in the post-poll alliance and the “floating vote” could go in the favour of parties which had a chance of being in power. Why is Kashmir a tough ask for BJP? Valley has an overwhelming Muslim population. It has been the laboratory of separatists who have been always trying to cash in on the sentiments of people. Plus the article 370 is a touchy issue in the valley. BJP has a strong opinion over it though off late it has tried to avoid racking up this issue with an eye on the Muslim voters.. However, the high voting percentage in the first two phases could pose a challenges to the saffron party. Modi, who has a total of nine rallies planned in the state, has been promising development and seeking a decisive mandate as he takes on both NC and PDP.The party’s silence on Article 370, which has been on its core agenda, is an apparent bid to avoid polarisation in the valley. However, it is yet to be seen what tactical line it takes on the issue during the last phases of polling when the Hindu-dominated seats of Jammu region go to the hustings.

For his mobile-farming, Thane engineer receives Priyadarshini Indira Gandhi Award

People from rural areas often come to cities for employment leaving behind their untilled farms. And in their daily race to make ends meet, they often forget about farming. To help such people, Sandeep Kesarkar, 49, made a software through which one can do automated farming. It is thus no surprise that he has been awarded the Priyadarshini Indira Gandhi Award for technocratic business excellence and social work in Konkan belt.Kesarkar, a mechanical engineer, who stays in Kolbad is into automation business. He has designed numerous softwares and hardwares and his efforts have been recognised. On November 25, he received the prestigious award at India Habitat Center, New Delhi. “It feels good to have efforts recognised. In past, my works have been recognised by the Mumbai University, the Thane Municipal Corporation among others,” says Kesarkar. The award is given by All India Unity Conference to men and women from various fields for their outstanding services, achievements and contributions.Under the automated farming system, one can do farming right from the city with the help of a mobile device or a tablet. It also needs less labour on field. “A mobile network at the farm is necessary. There is a data processing unit at the form which has a SIM card. The card will acquire data like, weather conditions, humidity, water required, among others, from the processor and transmit it to your mobile phone,” says Kesarkar. Folowing which, based on your command sent from the network, the irrigation system starts at the farm. “You only need two people at the farm to do the required work. If you install CCTV, then you can even see what is happening at the farm on your phone,” he adds.His social work includes working tirelessly for the upliftment of the Konkan belt through his NGO, Kokan Bhumi Pratishthan. “We have introduced co-operative agriculture and milk production in Chiplun and Kasarda village respectively, to help farmers be self-sufficient so that they do not have to come to cities for employment,” he says. This concept is different from forming co-operative societies. Here, a group of people who come to city for work can leave the farm to one’s relative at their native, who can do farming and the produce can be shared by everyone equally.Besides being an entrepreneur and a social worker, Kesarkar is also a voluntary lecturer at various engineering colleges. “I have seen that many students of mechanical and instrumentation engineering have the academic knowledge of various concepts, but no practical understanding. So to help such students, I give voluntary lectures,” says he.

BJP’s mask has slipped with Sadhvi’s comment, says Omar Abdullah

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday said the BJP’s real face has been exposed by the comments of Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and its “mask” has slipped.”It is a good thing that Kashmiris have seen the real face of the BJP. Sometimes they come (here) wearing masks but these masks keep on slipping,” Omar told reporters after addressing an election rally in Tral town of south Kashmir Pulwama district. Omar said he was not worried about the comments made by the Union Minister but it is important that people understand what BJP is all about.Jyoti stoked a controversy on December 2 by allegedly making communal remarks and using an expletive in an election rally in Delhi. “This is the BJP which wants ‘Mission 44’ here (in JK), this is the BJP that wants people of Kashmir to follow them. This is the BJP that people need to be warned about,” he said. Omar said National Conference was the “only force that can stop BJP from achieving its divisive agenda. That is the message we are taking to people.”Asked about reports that one lakh people are expected to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden poll rally in Kashmir on December 8, Omar said he cannot comment on the numbers but felt that so many people will not vote for BJP. Replying to a question about high voter turnout in the first two phases of the elections in the state, Omar said people want to get their problems resolved as they have realised that boycott does not benefit them.”I feel, particularly in Kashmir, people have realised that boycott will not benefit them, it will benefit BJP. “Perhaps, due to the ‘Mission 44’ of BJP, the result is that those who were not willing to vote till yesterday, are today turning out to vote,” he said. The working president of NC said the BJP’s maximum effort will be in the areas where the effect of boycott is more. “Three to four seats in Srinagar, and Sopore they are supporting some candidate. Our efforts will be that people take part in the elections in large numbers and cast vote for us and defeat the BJP mission,” he said.

Will fight for Jammu region’s honour, dignity, says Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma

Accusing the leaders hailing from the Kashmir Valley of showing disregards for the people of Jammu, Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma on Thursday said he would continue to struggle for honour and dignity of the region.On the campaign trial in the Akhnoor border constituency of Jammu district, state minister Sharma told the electorate that “my struggle for Jammu’s cause will continue”. The minister said he would continue to fight for ensuring that the state has a chief minister from the region and the youths gets migrants reservations in professional colleges in other states.Addressing a series of rallies in Sungal and Bhardal Khurd panchayats, Sharma said he always fought for the rights of the Jammu people but “our misfortune is that our destinies are ruled by Kashmiri rulers who show no regards for us”. He claimed that even within his own Congress party he had to taken a firm stand to impress upon the leadership to support his voice for Jammu.Reaching out to the rural Akhnoor, the minister promised to carve out ‘Bhardal Khurd-Sungal Sumah’ as a Satellite Town if Congress forms the next government in the state.Sharma said, “People from all three regions believe that the Congress alone has the commitments towards the people who are suffering from multiple problems and rehabilitation challenges… Above all the state needs political stability which no other outfit even bothered to talk about while seeking popular mandate.”The minister said his sincere efforts in the past 12 years have ensure development of Sumah Dev Sathan which is now being visited by thousands of disciples. Criticising National Conference over its stand on Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India, Sharma said the ruling party’s old ploys will no longer help it survive the certain rout it faces in the ongoing Assembly elections.Sharma also slammed the BJP for its alleged bid to create uncertainties in the state. He said the environment of political stability, which was established by nationalist forces led by Congress, was being sacrificed by BJP and NC for their lust for power.

Jammu and Kashmir: 28 school drop-outs, 55 crorepatis contesting in 2nd phase

Out of the 175 candidates in fray in 18 constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir which are going to polls in the second phase on Tuesday, 97 or more than 50 % are not graduates and nine have criminal cases against them.The affidavits submitted by the candidates along with their nomination papers suggest that nine of them are illiterate while 28 are school drop-outs, according to Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).A total of 55 candidates or 31% are crorepatis and have declared their properties to be worth over Rs one crore. There are only eight women candidates in the fray.Kuldeep Raj Dubey, BJP candidate from Gool Arnas has declared highest assets worth Rs 14.10 crores, while five other candidates, including separatist-turned-mainstream Sajad Gani Lone, have declared more than Rs 10 crores worth of assets in their affidavits.Lone, who is contesting on Handwara seat, has assets worth Rs 13.98 crores including moveable assets to the tune of Rs 38.45 lakh.Interestingly, a total of 11 candidates have declared zero assets in their affidavits, while five candidates have declared liabilities of Rs one crore and above.”Nine candidates are illiterate, two are class five pass, while 26 are class eight pass and 30 have listed their educational qualification as class 10,” ADR said.While 30 candidates have passed class 12, 18 are simple graduates and 26 professional graduates.”There are 25 post-graduate candidates, two have a doctorate degree and five have not listed their qualifications,” the analysis by the ADR said.Nine, a total of five per cent, candidates have declared criminal cases against them, while six of them have serious criminal cases, including kidnapping, rioting and forgery registered against them.Balwant Singh Mankotia of National Panthers Party from Udhampur constituency, in Jammu regions, has declared a case related to kidnapping (IPC Section 363) against him in his poll affidavit.Mankotia is also facing the charges of rioting, along with his colleague from Reasi constituency, Balwan Singh, BJP’s Mendhar assembly segment candidate Zulfqar Hussain Khan and an independent candidate on Handwara seat Ajaz Ahmad Sofi.Cheating and dishonestly, criminal intimidation, forgery for purpose of cheating, voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means and charges related to Act of endangering life or personal safety of others are the other cases the contesting candidates are facing.109 candidates or 62% have not declared their income tax details.Though some candidates may be exempted from filing income tax returns under rules, there are 20 candidates with assets worth more than Rs 1 crore, who have not declared such details.Party-wise the National Conference (NC) has the lowest number of such candidates who have not filed their IT details – five, while Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) and National Panthers Party (NPP) have the highest of 12 and 11 respectively.Nine candidates of Congress, nine of BJP, eight of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and four out of five Peoples Conference (PC) – headed by separatist-turned-mainstream Sajad Gani Lone – have not filed their I-T returns.There are 74 candidates who have not submitted their PAN details.Party-wise, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the highest number of crorepatis – nine out of 16 (56%), while Congress too has nine but out of 18. National Conference (NC) has eight crorepati candidates, BJP has seven and 12 out of 52 Independent candidates have declared assets worth more than Rs 1 crore.The average value of assets per candidate contesting in the second phase of the polls is Rs 1.41 crore.Among major parties, the average assets per PDP candidates is Rs 2.01 crore, for Congress candidates it is Rs 1.78 crore, while for NC Rs 1.74 crore and for BJP it is Rs 1.54 crore.There are five candidates who have liabilities of over Rs one crore. Meenakshi Sharma, an independent candidate from Reasi. has the highest liabilities of Rs 4.79 crore.103 candidates are in the age group of 25 to 50 years, while 68 are in the age group of 51 to 80.Nine assembly segments each are going to polls in the second phase in both Jammu and Kashmir regions of the state.They are spread over five districts of Kupwara, Kulgam, Reasi, Udhampur and Poonch.The electorate in the constituencies of Gulabgarh, Reasi, Gool Arnas, Udhampur, Chenani, Ramnagar, Surankote, Mendhar and Poonch Haveli in Jammu region and Karnah, Kupwara, Lolab, Handwara, Langate, Noorabad, Kulgam, Home-Shalibugh and Devsar in Kashmir Valley will vote on December 2.

Dance of democracy in the terror heartland

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In the terror heartland, drumbeats have replaced the deafening gun roars. Thanks to elections, this terror sanctuary is reverberating with the music and dance to cheer up the candidates. Nested in the gigantic mountains with dense forest cover, the area, over 100 kilometers from Srinagar, has been the terror corridor for more than two decades.Jungles in the upper reaches had been providing an apt cover to militants. This area used to be the transit camp for the militants who used to infiltrate from across the Line of Control (LOC). This area has witnessed fiercest encounters between army and the ultras in the last 24 years of militancy.Come elections and it is carnival time for the people to celebrate the biggest festival of democracy here. Drummers are busy cheering up the crowds and women are busy singing the songs for candidates as the convoy of electioneers pass by.From bhumroo, bhumroo to famous wanwun (Kashmiri folklore mostly sung during marriages), the women are singing everything to welcome the candidates. Even men are dancing to the drum beats in a traditional way to signal a new beginning in this terror corridor.”This area is quite peaceful now. You can see how enthusiastic people are here. Those preaching poll boycott are living in palatial houses in Srinagar without realising our plight. We are for vote,” said Syed Tariq, a local resident here.Enter Sajjad Lone, former separatist turned mainstream leader, the villagers are now looking for a new dawn. The 47 year old Cardiff educated is making no qualms about meeting prime minister Narendra Modi during his canvassing.”I will go to any extent for your sake. We will do everything for bringing prosperity to this area,” said Lone, who is contesting from Handwara constituency on People’s Conference ticket.Travelling by Pajero and surrounded by his security men and close aides, Lone does not mind mixing with the crowd. Kids, women and men follow him and cheer for his every word. And for a change selfies are popular in this remote part of Kashmir too. Young boys and girls jostled for having selifes with Lone who has attained a celebrity status in the area.”Did you see the area and what sort of condition they live in? It (Kashmir issue) is something which is to be debated in Delhi or Srinagar. These places need other things,” he said.Lone’s connect with the people stems from the fact that he wants to cash in on the goodwill of his father and slain Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone who had considerable support in Kupwara belt when he was both a mainstream and a separatist leader.”I have come to seek your vote. It is a vote for change and for getting back our rights. It is a vote against zulm (tyranny),” he roared.

Militants gun down sarpanch in Kashmir

In an audacious attack, militants on Sunday night shot dead sarpanch of the ruling National Conference in Shopian district of Kashmir near his residence.Mohammad Sultan Bhat was in his car when, about 500 metres from his residence in Nazneenpora in Shopian when the ultras stopped his vehicle and pumped bullets at him from close range at around 9.30 pm, police said. Bhat died on the spot while the assailants managed to escape, it said.Extending condolences to the sarpanch’s family, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Bhat’s death “will only spur us on to remain steadfast and committed to our mission of a peaceful, prosperous new Jammu & Kashmir.” “He joins the many hundreds of NC cadre killed for their political beliefs,” Omar tweeted. Omar said the National Conference will tomorrow formally request the Election Commission to review security in this area. “We are concerned about gaps in the security grid,” he said.”The EC code forbids me from any engagement with the security forces so the EC is now responsible for plugging any loopholes,” he said. The killing comes a day after a grenade attack in Srinagar in which eight people were injured. On November 28, ten people had lost their lives in militant attack in Arnia sector, while yesterday militants had also triggered a blast targeting an army vehicle near LoC in Poonch, but the troops escaped unhurt.

BJP compromising with its stand on Article 370, alleges Congress again

Senior Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma on Sunday alleged that the BJP leadership lacked political vision and was “compromising with its last sixty years’ stand on Article 370″ of the Constitution which accords special powers to Jammu and Kashmir.”The Jammu and Kashmir BJP leadership lacks any political vision. They are compromising with their last sixty years’ stand on Article 370 to even betray the people of Jammu region,” Sham, who is seeking re-election from the Akhnoor constituency, said addressing rallies.”BJP has indeed hijacked Hurriyat Conference’s political Agenda,” he said and accused BJP of talking in the language of Kashmiri separatists who “have ultimately been rejected by the people”.He assured the people of Jammu to fight for their cause and highlighted works done by him as their representative in the assembly for the past 12 years. “Development will remain my sole agenda,” he said.Sham promised to continue the development works taken up during his tenure like construction of roads and bridges, upgrading and opening of schools and degree colleges, and modernisation of medical and health facilities.Sharma said Akhnoor got several administrative units during his tenure as MLA. Sharma promised balanced and equitable development with the people’s active participation.He cautioned the people to remain vigilant against divisive elements such as BJP and RSS who, he said, “exploit the innocent masses on communal lines” and urged them to maintain Akhnoor’s historical fraternity and peaceful survival.

Mumbai, Kolkata most vulnerable to climate change: Government

India’s populous coastal cities Mumbai and Kolkata are most vulnerable to loss of life and properties due to coastal flooding in the second half of the century, the government has said quoting a UN report ahead of a key global climate conference in Peruvian capital Lima.The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned against extreme weather events like occurrence of heatwave, heavy precipitation, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfire that cause damage to ecosystems and human systems in various regions, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said.”India is among the top 20 countries and regions most at risk based on analysis of climate risk and coping ability. Mumbai and Kolkata will have the greatest population and assets exposure to coastal flooding in 2070,” he said.The minister’s statement assumes significance at a time when representatives of governments are scheduled to meet in Lima from tomorrow for the Climate Change Conference to lay the foundation for an effective, new and universal climate change agreement in Paris in 2015.Last week, the UN Environment Programme had underscored the need for global emissions to peak within the decade and then to rapidly decline so that the world can reach climate neutrality also termed zero net emissions in the second half of the century.With climate change impacts worsening and affecting the poor and most vulnerable, governments urgently need to scale up adaptation to climate change, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).”Never before have the risks of climate change been so obvious and the impacts so visible. Never before have we seen such a desire at all levels of society to take climate action,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Convention.Figueres said “it is hugely encouraging” that “countries have already been outlining what they intend to contribute” towards the climate action, referring to the recent agreement between China and the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Climate expert Chandra Bhushan, however, said the deal signed between China and the US “was not in line with the principals of the UN Convention”. In Lima, India must work harder with developing countries and push for an ambitious global deal which is equitable and saves the world from catastrophic climate impacts, he said.”India must push for a principle-based emissions reduction target for all countries. This is the only way the world can remain within the planetary limits,” Bhushan said.

After promising the sky, CM Omar Abdullah did nothing for his constituency: PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday attacked ruling National Conference leader Omar Abdullah for doing nothing for his Ganderbal constituency as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir after “promising the sky” during polls.”He (Omar) was particularly lavish when he addressed campaign meetings in 2008 (polls) in Ganderbal and promised sky to the people there. “People want to know where is the much-parroted Truth and Reconciliation Commission on human rights violations, where have the one lakh jobs that were to be given in the first three months of the new government gone and what happened to the promise of one job to each family?” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti asked while addressing election meeting in Beerwah constituency.Omar had won from Ganderbal constituency in 2008 polls. However, he has decided to contest from Beerwah and Sonawar constituencies this year.”Last, but not least, there is also no word from Omar about removing the electricity metres, slashing the power tariff, making electricity available round-the-clock and subsidising the LPG and rations,” Mehbooba said. The PDP president said that Omar is now so much panicked by the prospects of a PDP government taking shape in Jammu and Kashmir that he is once again “seeking refuge in the lap of BJP by offering to align with them in a post-poll arrangement.””I challenge Omar to show one single project anywhere in the state which he can claim was pioneered and accomplished by his government during the past six years,” she said.”No wonder after having destroyed not just Ganderbal, but the entire State, Omar had to run away in pursuit of a safe place,” she said.

Assembly polls- Record turnout of 71.28% in Jammu and Kashmir, 62% cast their votes in Jharkhand

Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday registered a record 71.28% turnout in the first phase of incident-free Assembly elections when people ignored boycott calls by separatists and cold conditions to cast their votes in 15 constituencies.Jharkhand also recorded a high turnout of nearly 62% in the 13 Naxal-affected constituencies in the opening phase of the five-phased polls in both the states. In Jammu and Kashmir, a 61.23% voter turnout was recorded in the 2008 Assembly polls for these 15 seats–6 in Jammu division, 5 in Kashmir Valley and four in Ladakh. Today’s polling was spread over seven districts. The overall turnout in the state in the Assembly elections in 1996 and 2012 was 53.92% and 43.69% respectively.”Polling has gone off absolutely peaceful without any incident. It was 100% flawless polls and there was not a single incident which vitiates poll process,” Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi told reporters in Delhi. Dealing a serious blow to separatist politics, thousands of voters had lined up before polling stations. Nearly 10.52 lakh voters were eligible to vote. Separatist groups like all the factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls and a general strike as well in the state which has been affected by militancy for over 25 years. A total of 123 candidates including seven ministers were in the fray with the ruling coalition partners National Conference and Congress and the Opposition People’s Democratic Party(PDP) and BJP fighting for the spoils.In five Kashmir Valley constituencies, two in Ganderbal district recorded 68% turnout — an increase of 13% from 2008 assembly polls — while three in Bandipora district recorded 70.30%, registering an increase of 11%.Sonawari consituency in the Kashmir Valley recorded a turnout as high as 80.10%. A total 61.92% votes were cast in 13 of the 81 assembly seats in Jharkhand as the polling in the Maoist-hit state passed off by and large peacefully. “The percentage (of votes) could be updated later,” an official with the Election Commission here said. The constituencies which went to polls in Jharkhand on Tuesday are Chatra(SC), Gumla (ST), Bishunpur (ST), Lohardaga (ST), Manika (ST), Latehar (SC), Panki and Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Chhatarpur (SC), Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhawanathpur. In six seats of Jammu division, two constituencies in Doda district recorded a turn out of 76% while it was 70% each for the four seats in Kishtwar and Ramban districts. While there was increase of eight% in Doda district and nearly four% in Ramban district, Kishtwar district recorded a drop of over 3%. The four constituencies of Ladakh region, which normally witnesses high voter turnout, marked a decrease in number of voters exercising their franchise.In two constituencies of Leh district, the turn out was 57%, down from 61.88% in 2008 assembly polls and substantially down from 68.23% registered during the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. In Kargil district, 59% voters cast their votes against 72.90% in 2008 elections. Early morning chill and fog failed to dampen the spirits of the voters who had assembled at the polling stations an hour before the scheduled start of voting. The voting time had to be extended in several polling stations to allow those voters, who were already inside the polling station premises, to cast their votes.

AFSPA withdrawal key to ending gender-based violence

A national plan action, the withdrawal of the armed forced from conflict areas, revised curriculum in schools, eradication of manual scavenging and legal acceptance to same sex marriages are some of the recommendations of UN Women to end gender-based violence in India.Twenty-years ago, in 1995, the United Nations adopted the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) at the Fourth World Conference for Women. The agenda of BPfA was women’s empowerment and to ensure that women get equal opportunities to participate in all areas — social, economical, cultural and political decision-making. To mark its anniversary, the UN invited 171 activists and policy-makers, activists, academics and government officials from the country to in August draft recommendations for the faster implementation of the BPfA. Last week, Union Minister of Women and Child Development was in Bangkok to be a part of the Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review, organised by UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), where she stressed the need for gender equality to to be a sustained effort to be seen as “something more than a slogan”. The committee looked at sustainable development goals for women, the end of gender-based violence, strengthening women’s voice and agency and the development of women’s institutions and budget. The two-day event, held on 11th and 12th August, was attended by Asha Kowtal of All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, former Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, Jagmati Sangwan of All India Democratic Women’s Association, Suneeta Dhar of Jaagori, Ruth Manorama of National Alliance of Women, amongst others.The recommendations entail that the government must make efforts to recognise, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid work and ensure that workplaces follow measures such as day care centres and maternity leaves, etc. In the field of education, the panel recommended inclusion of sexuality education. To ensure safe health, the panel recommended the prevention of sex-biased selection with strict implementation of the PC-PNDT Act, and end discriminations against sex workers and people who are HIV positive, disabled or belong to the LGBTQ community. The panel called for the immediate demilitarisation of the civilian spaces of Kashmir, Northeast India, Chhattisgarh and affected areas of Andhra and Odisha, and the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 in operation in the North East and Kashmir.The panel also recommended the strengthening of the efforts to ensure the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill. And in the areas of media and communications, the panel called for the access to the internet and digital technologies to be seen as a basic right, and not a privilege of a few.

Jammu and Kashmir: Polling for first phase in 15 constituencies tomorrow

The stage is set for the first of the five-phased Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir as 12 sitting MLAs, including seven ministers, are among 123 candidates trying their luck in 15 constituencies that will go to polls on Tuesday in all three regions of the state.While six constituencies in Jammu division will vote to elect their representatives, electorate in five segments in Kashmir and four in Ladakh will seal the fate of the aspirants in the polling that is scheduled to begin at 8 AM.The Assembly segments going to polls tomorrow include Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhaderwah, Ramban and Banihal (in Jammu division); Gurez, Bandipora, Sonawari, Kangan and Ganderbal (in Kashmir), Nobra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar (in Ladakh).A total of 10,502,50 voters, including 5,49,698 males and 5,00,539 females, besides 13 transgenders are eligible to exercise their right to franchise in the first phase of the polls. Bhaderwah has the largest number of 1,04,354 voters among the 15 constituencies, while Nobra constituency in Ladakh region has the lowest number with 13,054 voters.Nearly 1900 polling stations have been set-up by the election authorities in these 15 constituencies. While Bandipora, Ganderbal and Bhaderwah have the highest number of candidates, 13 each, in fray, Leh has the lowest number of candidates with a direct fight between Congress and BJP.There are four candidates in fray in Gurez, seven in Sonawari, 10 in Kangan, six each in Nobra and Banihal, four each in Kargil and Zanskar, 10 in Kishtwar, 12 in Inderwal, 11 in Doda and eight in Ramban.Seven ministers are seeking re-election in the first phase – Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi (from Gurez), Mohammad Akbar Lone (Sonawari), Mian Altaf (Kangan), Sajad Kichloo (Kishtwar), Abdul Majid Wani (Doda), Nawang Rigzin Joa (Leh) and Vikar Rasool Wani (Banihal).Besides the ministers who are all sitting MLAs, five legislators will be seeking a re-election in the first phase of polls.PDP’s Nizamudding Bhat (Bandipora), Congress candidates Ghulam Mohammad Saroori (Inderwal), Sharief Niaz (Bhaderwah), Ashok Kumar (Ramban) and National Conference’s Tsetan Namgyal (Nobra) are the sitting MLAs seeking another term.Many star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi campaigned for their party candidates for the first phase of polls.While Modi addressed a rally in Kishtwar, Rajnath tried to garner support for BJP candidates in Leh and Bhaderwah constituencies and party president Amit Shah campaigned in Ramban.Sonia addressed two rallies in Bandipora and Ramban, while Bollywood actor-turned politician Raj Babbar addressed rallies in Bandipora, Sonawari and Ganderbal constituencies.The other star campaigners include Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for his party the National Conference (NC), PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and party president Mehbooba Mufti, Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad for Congress.The campaigning for the first phase remained by and large peaceful. However, there were minor clashes in Sonawari, when the PDP candidate Yasir Reshi was pelted with stones by some miscreants.There was no militancy-related incident reported from any of the 15 constituencies going to polls tomorrow.The separatist groups like all factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls tomorrow and called for a general strike as well.

Polling for first phase in 15 constituencies tomorrow in Jammu and Kashmir

The stage is set for the first of the five-phased Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir as 12 sitting MLAs, including seven ministers, are among 123 candidates trying their luck in 15 constituencies that will go to polls tomorrow in all three regions of the state.While six constituencies in Jammu division will vote to elect their representatives, electorate in five segments in Kashmir and four in Ladakh will seal the fate of the aspirants in the polling that is scheduled to begin at 8 AM.The Assembly segments going to polls tomorrow include Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhaderwah, Ramban and Banihal (in Jammu division); Gurez, Bandipora, Sonawari, Kangan and Ganderbal (in Kashmir), Nobra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar (in Ladakh).A total of 10,502,50 voters, including 5,49,698 males and 5,00,539 females, besides 13 transgenders are eligible to exercise their right to franchise in the first phase of the polls.Bhaderwah has the largest number of 1,04,354 voters among the 15 constituencies, while Nobra constituency in Ladakh region has the lowest number with 13,054 voters.Nearly 1900 polling stations have been set-up by the election authorities in these 15 constituencies.While Bandipora, Ganderbal and Bhaderwah have the highest number of candidates, 13 each, in fray, Leh has the lowest number of candidates with a direct fight between Congress and BJP.There are four candidates in fray in Gurez, seven in Sonawari, 10 in Kangan, six each in Nobra and Banihal, four each in Kargil and Zanskar, 10 in Kishtwar, 12 in Inderwal, 11 in Doda and eight in Ramban.Seven ministers are seeking re-election in the first phase – Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi (from Gurez), Mohammad Akbar Lone (Sonawari), Mian Altaf (Kangan), Sajad Kichloo (Kishtwar), Abdul Majid Wani (Doda), Nawang Rigzin Joa (Leh) and Vikar Rasool Wani (Banihal). Besides the ministers who are all sitting MLAs, five legislators will be seeking a re-election in the first phase of polls.PDP’s Nizamudding Bhat (Bandipora), Congress candidates Ghulam Mohammad Saroori (Inderwal), Sharief Niaz (Bhaderwah), Ashok Kumar (Ramban) and National Conference’s Tsetan Namgyal (Nobra) are the sitting MLAs seeking another term.Many star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi campaigned for their party candidates for the first phase of polls.While Modi addressed a rally in Kishtwar, Rajnath tried to garner support for BJP candidates in Leh and Bhaderwah constituencies and party president Amit Shah campaigned in Ramban.Sonia addressed two rallies in Bandipora and Ramban, while Bollywood actor-turned politician Raj Babbar addressed rallies in Bandipora, Sonawari and Ganderbal constituencies.The other star campaigners include Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for his party the National Conference (NC), PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and party president Mehbooba Mufti, Ambika Soni and Ghulam Nabi Azad for Congress.The campaigning for the first phase remained by and large peaceful. However, there were minor clashes in Sonawari, when the PDP candidate Yasir Reshi was pelted with stones by some miscreants.There was no militancy-related incident reported from any of the 15 constituencies going to polls tomorrow.The separatist groups like all factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls tomorrow and called for a general strike as well.

Parties use radio to woo voters in Jammu and Kashmir

Radio has emerged as the most favoured medium for politicians in election-bound Jammu and Kashmir to woo voters as the first-phase of Assembly polls in the state draw closer.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is making its first serious bid to get into power in Jammu and Kashmir, is using an audio clip of Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s address at a rally in Kargil during the inauguration of a power project there.”Jammu and Kashmir can become a model of development for the entire country,” Modi says in the clip which is being repeatedly aired on a private FM radio station since elections were announced in the state last month.Even in other media like newspapers, the BJP has made Modi the face of its campaign as it has embarked on its ‘Mission 44+’, a reference to the number of seats required for a simple majority in the state Legislative Assembly.Congress is also using the same Radio station but instead of using any particular leader as the face of the campaign, the party which ruled the state in coalition with National Conference for last six years, is banking on development works to garner support for its candidates.”Which party constructed the four-lane road from Lakhanpur to Ladakh? Congress. Which party constructed tunnels at Chenani and Zojila to provide round the year road connectivity in the state? Congress. My vote only for Congress,” the Congress advertisement says.Opposition PDP had so far not taken to radio advertisements at party level but some party candidates from the urban constituencies were using the medium to woo the voters.Khurshid Alam Wani, the PDP candidate from Khanyar constituency in Srinagar district, is making a pitch for votes on the promise of development of the old city. His campaign on radio is seeking a “vote for change”.The party candidate for Amirakadal constituency of the city Altaf Bukhari is also running the radio campaign along same lines.However, the premier political party of the state – National Conference – has been late in using the airwaves to drum up support for its candidates.”We have submitted the campaign material to the Election Commission and we should be on air from today (Monday),” National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu told PTI.Although Mattu did not cite any reasons for the delay, it seems the party wanted to hit the airwaves just in time ahead of the first phase of polling tomorrow.National Conference had used the medium in 2008 Assembly elections with an aggressive campaign which was based around resolution of problems faced by the people.Whether the radio campaign paid any dividends to the party six years ago cannot be quantified in the absence of an emperical study, National Conference managed to win 28 seats in the elections then, arresting the slide in party fortunes.From more than 55 seats in 1996 elections, it had been reduced to 28 in 2002 polls.In addition to radio, BJP has been targeting the mobile telephone subscribers through pre-recorded calls and SMSes as well.However, there have been some complaints too about the unsolicited calls and SMSes from the BJP campaign as even those subscribers, who are registered for ‘Do Not Disturb’ service have been receiving the calls and SMSes.”There has been some error and we will look into it to ensure that it does not happen again. We respect the privacy of the people,” BJP spokesman for Kashmir Khalid Jehangir said.

BJP trying to unbalance political stability in Jammu and Kashmir, says Omar Abdullah

Slamming BJP, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday said it was confused on how to sell its policy in the state and was trying to unbalance the political stability here by falsifying facts.”BJP is fully confused on how to sell its known anti-Jammu and Kashmir policy in the state… as such, indulges in making contradictory statements misleading people by falsifying facts,” Omar said, adding that people of Jammu and Kashmir are well versed with the divisive, sectarian and regional bias nurtured by BJP since its inception.Addressing rallies in Kishtwar district, Omar cautioned the people, saying that some six months earlier BJP fought Lok Sabha election in Jammu on abrogation of Article 370 and on its policy of One Flag, One Constitution and One President (Ek Nishan, Ek Vidaan, Ek Pradhaan) and today BJP leadership is saying that these are no issues. He said this is only to foolpeople for vote bank politics.”Their anti-government and anti-NC propaganda is nothing but a poll plank to make inroads into the secular and pluralistic ethos of the state and materialise its hidden agenda ofunbalancing the political stability and regional solidarity of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.Omar said National Conference represents the aspirations of people of all regions, sub-regions and all sections of the society, and does not require any certificate from BJP or any otherparty, as its popularity and faith of masses in NC’s policy programmes are its strengths and credentials.He said work done by National Conference-led government in the last six years speaks loud and clear across the state.

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