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Governor invites Shiv Sena to form govt in Maharashtra after BJP pulls out

MUMBAI, Nov 10: The Shiv Sena has been invited by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Sunday to form the government in the state after leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party met him earlier in the evening and informed him of the party’s decision to pull out of the race.

The Governor has given the Shiv Sena time till 7:30 pm on Monday to respond to the invitation to form the government in Maharashtra.

Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut asserted on Sunday that if his party chief Uddhav Thackeray had said someone from his party would become the chief minister in Maharashtra, then there would be a Sena CM in any case.

Earlier on Sunday, caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and other senior BJP leaders met Governor Koshyari and informed him that the party could not stake claim to form the government as ally Shiv Sena was not willing to cooperate.

“We cannot stake claim to form the government as Shiv Sena is not willing to come with us. We have informed this to the governor,” State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil told reporters.

“In the state assembly polls, we contested as part of a grand alliance ‘Mahayuti’ and we got the mandate for this alliance. If Shiv Sena wants to insult this mandate and form the government with Congress and NCP, then we wish them all the luck,” Patil said after the BJP’s second core committee meeting to announce its stand on the Governor’s invitation to form government concluded.

With the political impasse continuing in the state, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has laid down a condition to support the Shiv Sena. Party leader Nawab Malik has said that Sena should first walk out of the NDA if it wants the support of the NCP.

“If the Shiv Sena wants our support, they need to break ties with the NDA. They need to dissociate from the BJP. Their minister in the Central Government (Arvind Sawant) should resign,” Malik said.

On being asked whether he would resign, Union Minister Arvind Sawant said he would abide by the directions given by party chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The newly elected Maharashtra Assembly is a hung house, where the BJP has 105 MLAs, the Shiv Sena has 56, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44 legislators.

Former chief election commissioner TN Seshan dies at 86

NEW DELHI, Nov 10: Former chief election commissioner TN Seshan died on Sunday, former bureaucrat SY Qureshi tweeted. He was 86 years old.

“Sad to announce that Shri TN Seshan passed away a short while ago. He was a true legend and a guiding force for all his successors. I pray for peace to his soul,” Qureshi, who is also an ex-chief of the poll watchdog, wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to condoled the former CEC’s demise, “Shri TN Seshan was an outstanding civil servant. He served India with utmost diligence and integrity. His efforts towards electoral reforms have made our democracy stronger and more participative. Pained by his demise. Om Shanti,” he said.

Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan was a 1955 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre and was known for his reforms in the Indian elections.

He had served as the 18th cabinet secretary and won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service in 1996.

SC rules in favour of Ram Temple on disputed Ayodhya site

NEW DELHI, Nov 9: The Supreme Court ruled on Saturday in favour of a Ram temple on a disputed 2.77-acre plot in Ayodhya, in a move cheered by hundreds of millions of people around the country although some Muslim parties questioned the verdict and said they may seek a review of the order passed by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, who retires on November 17.

The construction of the temple at the place several Hindus believe is the birthplace of Ram also ticks off another item on the checklist of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Many people believe the ruling is the beginning of the end of the festering dispute, if not the end itself.

The court told the Union government to set up, within three months, a trust to oversee the construction of the temple.

“The faith of Hindus has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court verdict. We had faith before the mosque. We had faith during the mosque and we had faith after the demolition of the mosque and there was continuous worship by the Hindus,” said PS Narasimha, who appeared for the child deity Ram Lalla Virajman in the title dispute. “We are grateful to the institution of judiciary for the extraordinary measures for restituting the historical belief,” he added.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s secretary Zafaryab Jilani, a lawyer, expressed his dissatisfaction over the verdict. “The Ayodhya verdict holds no value for us. We are dissatisfied with the verdict. It has a lot of contradictions. We will seek a review.”

Zufar Faruqi, the chairman of the UP Sunni Waqf Board, struck a different note: “I, as the chairman of the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, want to make it clear that the Board will not go in any review of the Supreme Court’s order or file any curative petition.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who on Wednesday, warned his ministers not to make extreme comments on the judgment, irrespective of which way it went, welcomed the court’s ruling. “The Honourable Supreme Court has given its verdict on the Ayodhya issue. This verdict shouldn’t be seen as a win or loss for anybody. Be it Ram Bhakti or Rahim Bhakti, it is imperative that we strengthen the spirit of Rashtra Bhakti. May peace and harmony prevail!,” he tweeted.

Addressing the nation later over the SC order, the Prime Minister said the verdict marked a new dawn and gave a message that even toughest issues can be resolved within the framework of the Constitution. “We should learn from this verdict that even if there is some delay, we should remain patient. This is in everyone’s interest,” he said.

An issue of faith for over a hundred years, the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid , or mandir issue, issue has been one of the two major shapers of the political landscape of the country over the past three decades. The other has been the Mandal movement, which has made Other Backward Classes a powerful political constituency. The mandir issue helped revive the BJP’s fortunes in the mid-1980s, and has found a mention in every one of the party’s manifestos since 1991. Given the sensitivity of the issue, and remembering the riots that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the response from most political parties was measured.

Home minister Amit Shah welcomed the verdict and appealed all communities to accept the SC order, maintain peace and remain committed for “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat”. Defence minister Rajnath Singh urged everyone to accept the verdict with equanimity and magnanimity.

The Congress said it respected the verdict and was in favour of the construction of a Ram temple. “It is the responsibility of each one of us to reaffirm our tradition of mutual respect and unity among all that has defined our society through the ages,” the Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, quoting a resolution passed by the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, at a meeting chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi.

However, there was fear among some Muslim parties that the ruling could strengthen the resolve of Hindus fighting for control of other disputed sites, including ones at Mathura and Varanasi.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi said the verdict was a “victory of belief over facts”. Owaisi said he was not satisfied with the ruling and quoted a former CJI to say the top court is “indeed supreme but not infallible”. National Commission for Minorities chairperson Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi, however, said that Muslims were happy with the order and condemned remarks made by Jilani on considering a review plea.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP, and also of most groups that actively worked for a temple at Ayodhya, said the dispute over the issue must be forgotten. “Forgetting all the things that happened in past, we all should come together to build a grand temple at Ram Janma Bhoomi in Ayodhya,” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said. “The decision should not be taken as victory or defeat,” he added.

“We believe that the government should take steps to end the dispute in the case after the SC decision.”

Several Hindus believe that a temple to Ram once stood at the disputed site. In the 16th century, one of the generals of Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, built a mosque at the spot. An Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report referenced by the court points to the existence of a Hindu structure below where the mosque stood (before its demolition in 1992), but the court added that it hasn’t been able to show that this structure was a temple, or that it was demolished to build the mosque.

The court’s ruling comes 136 years after the first case in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue was filed, and nine years after the Allahabad high court delivered a judgment that each of the three main parties, the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla Virajman get an equal portion of the disputed land measuring 2.27 acres. The court based its decision largely on the title claims to the disputed land, choosing to look beyond the ASI report on the matter, but sticking to its previously stated intent of viewing a case that the parties and much of India saw as a faith-based one through the strict legal lens of ownership and possession. As such, it found Ram Lalla Virajman (the personification of the Hindu god), whom it identified as a juristic person, and who is represented by Trilok Nath Pandey, as having a better claim to the title than the Sunni Waqf Board. The latter, it said, can’t exercise the right of “adverse possession” nor establish a “possessory title”.

Under the first, a person who is not the original owner of a property becomes the de facto owner by being in possession of it for at least 12 years during which the original owner did not seek legal recourse, and can, if dispossessed by the original owner, file a case seeing restoration of ownership under the right of adverse possession. The court held that this did not apply in the case because the Muslim parties never really lost possession. The second refers to the ownership of land or property by someone who does not hold a title deed or document that proves ownership – specifically because these documents do not exist, having been lost or destroyed. In this case, the court held that the Muslim parties were not able to establish a possessory title. The Hindus, the court found, had “unimpeded access” to the outer courtyard and, till 1857, even the inner courtyard.

“Hindu worship at Ramchabutra, Sita Rasoi and at other religious places including the setting up of a Bhandar clearly indicated their open, exclusive and unimpeded possession of the outer courtyard. The Muslims have not been in possession of the outer courtyard. On a preponderance of probabilities, there is no evidence to establish that the Muslims abandoned the mosque or ceased to perform namaz in spite of the contestation over their possession of the inner courtyard after 1858,” the SC order said.

The court also seems to have gone by its understanding that namaz was not offered in the structure before 1857 or after 1949 on the basis of documentary and oral evidence. In contrast, similar evidence points to continuous worship by the Hindus, it added. However, its judgment did highlight the fact that both in 1949, when locks were broken and idols installed in the structure, and 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished, the Muslims were at the receiving end. To remit the wrong committed – to paraphase the court – the judgment said five acres of land must be given to the Sunni Waqf Board for a mosque, elsewhere in Ayodhya.

“We welcome and humbly accept the verdict of the Supreme Court,” the UP Sunni Waqf Board chairman said. Speaking about the decision on the five acres of land, AIMIM’s Owaisi said: “We have full faith in the Constitution, we were fighting for our right, we don’t need five-acre land as donation. We should reject this five-acre land offer. Don’t patronise us.”

Leaders linked to the Hindu parties welcomed the apex court’s order for an alternative land to the Muslim parties in the case. Ram Lalla deity lawyer CS Vaidyanathan said: “It is a great day for India. The Supreme Court has pronounced a verdict that has balanced the interest of all parties and also tried to ensure that unity and integrity of the nation are preserved and brotherhood is maintained.”

The court also directed that “in the scheme to be framed by the Central Government, appropriate representation may be given in the Trust or body to the Nirmohi Akhara in such manner as the Central Government deems fit”, even though it rejected the claim of the Nirmohi Akhara of being a ‘shebait’ (a devotee who serves the deity).

The Ram Janmabhoomi is not a juristic person, the SC held.

Mahant Dhinendra Das, head of the Nirmohi Akhara, said: “All members of the Nirmohi Akhara will meet and take a collective decision. Only after this meeting we will be able to say anything on the issue.”

Governor invites BJP to form government in Maharashtra

MUMBAI, Nov 9: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Saturday invited the single largest party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to form the government in the state.

The Maharashtra governor has asked outgoing chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to indicate the willingness and ability of his party to form the government in Maharashtra, a communication from the governor’s office stated. In a letter to Fadnavis, the leader of the elected members of BJP, the Governor asked Fadnavis to indicate willingness to form the next government.

With the tenure of the 13th Assembly in Maharashtra set to end on Saturday midnight, the move is a step forward to end the political impasse in the state.

Bickering allies -- the BJP and Shiv Sena had both said that they were ready to form the new government - with Uddhav Thackeray asserting that he wants to fulfil his promise to Bal Thackeray of forming government, which he can do without Shah and Fadnavis. The BJP and Shiv Sena, which had contested the polls in an alliance, secured 161 seats. But owing to a power-struggle between the two parties, they had not been able to stake claim to form the next government.

According to a statement from Raj Bhavan, the governor decided to explore the possibility of formation of government as 15 days have passed since the declaration of the results and no single party or an alliance has come forward to form the government.

Elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly were held on October 21 and the results were declared on October 24. However, even after 15 days had elapsed, no single party or alliance of parties had come forward to form the government.

Navjot Singh Sidhu thanks ‘yaar dildaar’ Imran Khan for opening Kartarpur Corridor

KARTARPUR, Nov 9: Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu regaled the crowds across the border in Kartarpur on Saturday with his urdu couplets as he thanked his ‘yaar dildaar’ Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan for making history and fulfilling the dream of four generations of Sikhs by opening the Corridor to Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 4.7 km-long Kartarpur corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in this Punjab district, Sidhu said “aaj jhappi rang le aayi” (today the hug has borne fruit). It was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the row he created by hugging Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa when he visited Pakistan for Imran Khan’s oath taking as the Prime Minister in 2018.

“For the first time since Partition, the fence has been broken down, ab border kholo, dil kholo,” said Sidhu in Punjabi amid slogans of ‘Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal’.

Imran Khan was seen applauding Sidhu’s speech, peppered with couplets in Urdu, several times.

Sidhu was part of the first batch of pilgrims that visited the shrine in Pakistan using the corridor, constructed to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The batch included among others former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee members and all the 117 MLAs and MPs from Punjab, including ministers were part of the first ‘jatha’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier inaugurated the passenger terminal building of the corridor on the Indian side, also known as the Integrated Check Post, where pilgrims will get clearance to travel through the newly-built 4.5 km-long corridor.

India had signed an agreement with the neighbouring nation on October 24 on the modalities for operationalisation of the corridor at ‘Zero Point’ of the international boundary at Dera Baba Nanak.

Supreme Court to deliver verdict in Ayodhya title suit on Saturday

NEW DELHI, Nov 8: The Supreme Court will deliver its highly-anticipated verdict on the decades-old dispute over the 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya on Saturday as authorities enhanced security across the country, especially in the temple town in Uttar Pradesh.

The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions challenging the judgment of Allahabad High Court on September 30, 2010, trifurcating the disputed land in Ayodhya into three equal parts among Ram Lalla, Central Sunni Waqf Board, and Nirmohi Akhara.

These three parties, however, moved the top court challenging the high court verdict and sought the modification of its judgment.

The bench completed the daily hearings in the matter on October 16 and reserved its verdict that has been among India’s most sensitive and divisive political issues, which will now be delivered before Gogoi retires on November 17.

Hindus believe the 16th-century mosque, Babri Masjid, was built over a temple dedicated to Hindu god Ram, whose birthplace is also considered to be at the site.

The mosque was demolished by a mob of thousands in 1992, triggering a cycle of violence and riots across India.

Various religious organisations and political leaders cutting across party lines have appealed for peace and asked both communities to honour the verdict, irrespective of the way the top court rules.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath have also ordered party leaders not to issue provocative statements.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi met top officials of the Uttar Pradesh government on Friday ahead of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.

Several states across the country have increased security before the Supreme Court rules on the disputed site and thousands of paramilitary force members and police have been deployed in Ayodhya.

Thousands of Hindu monks and devotees have been arriving in Ayodhya for the judgment.

Police are conducting mock drills, flag marches and drone surveillance in town to prepare for any possible fallout of the judgment.

The district magistrate Court had already imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in Ayodhya in October. Ayodhya’s district magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha had said in an order that Section 144 will be in effect till December 10.

Adityanath has also asked officers to station helicopters in Ayodhya and Lucknow for patrolling and transportation of security personnel. An aircraft will be stationed in Lucknow, he said.

A senior state police official said initially 52 companies of armed police, including 37 PAC and 15 central paramilitary companies, were deployed. Another 40 companies of central paramilitary forces were added later.

Extra deployment of civil police, including 11 additional SPs, 20 deputy SPs, 150 inspectors, 250 sub-inspectors, and 1200 constables, had been done in Ayodhya, the official said adding around 1,500 home guard personnel too were moved to Ayodhya.

“We have deployed forces as per the requirement. Our officers are holding meetings with locals, leaders to maintain peace. Drone cameras were successfully tested to keep a watch on every activity in the region,” additional director general (ADG) of police Ashutosh Pandey, who is in charge of security arrangements in Ayodhya, said.

More than 200 schools near Ayodhya have been chosen to accommodate the forces and for setting up temporary jails, if such a need arose, said a district administration official.

Another police official in Ayodhya said central paramilitary forces will be deployed in red and yellow zones around the disputed site.

He said the red security zone comprised the disputed site, the yellow zone the five-mile (panch koshi) periphery of Ayodhya and the green zone covered the 14-mile (14 Koshi) periphery of the town. The blue zone comprised the adjoining districts of Ayodhya, he said adding this was an old system used to maintain law and order there.

The police were also using its network of 16000 social media volunteers’ in Ayodhya district to keep an eye on activities which could spur trouble, said inspector general of police (law and order), Praveen Kumar.

Saumitra Yadav, superintendent of police of the Government Railway Police (GRP) in Lucknow, said in addition to the existing strength of policemen at stations, 10 sub-inspectors (SI), more than 50 constables and circle office (CO) have been deployed at the Ayodhya junction.

“Besides, we have also established our quick response team (QRT) to meet any exigency ahead of the verdict,” said Yadav.

Yadav said the GRP had chalked out an elaborate plan for Ayodhya junction as well as Faizabad railway station as they were the most sensitive stations.

He said the GRP security plan included round-the-clock checking of unattended vehicles at the parking lots at these stations, frequent checking drives at the stations, trains and in the circulating areas.

“We are also checking the trains stationed at the yard and washing lines and are sensitising the local vendors, coolies and railway staff to immediately report anything lying unattended,” said Arun Kumar Singh, CO GRP Lucknow, who is camping at the Ayodhya junction.

In addition, GRP has also shortlisted some sensitive trains, including Mankapur-Ayodhya passenger train, Varanasi-Lucknow passenger, Gorakhpur-Ayodhya passenger, Lucknow-Varanasi passenger train and other short-distance trains which it said were more sensitive as compared to the other long-distance trains.

“We are carrying out checking drives in all the passenger trains. Also, we would be deploying our escorts on the trains,” said Singh.

Ayodhya verdict won’t be anybody’s victory or loss: Modi

NEW DELHI, Nov 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged people to “further strengthen the great tradition of peace, unity and goodwill of India” and not see the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit on Saturday as victory or loss.

“The Supreme Court’s decision on Ayodhya is coming tomorrow. For the past few months, the matter was being heard continuously in the Supreme Court, the whole country was watching eagerly. During this period, the efforts made by all sections of the society to maintain an atmosphere of goodwill are greatly appreciated,” the Prime Minister said on Twitter in Hindi.

“Keeping the honour of the judiciary of the country paramount, all the sides of the society, socio-cultural organisations, all the parties who have made efforts to create a harmonious and positive atmosphere in the past are welcome. Even after the decision of the court, we all have to maintain harmony together,” he said.

“Whatever decision of the Supreme Court will come on Ayodhya, it will not be a victory or defeat for anyone. My appeal to the countrymen is that it should be the priority of all of us that this decision should further strengthen the great tradition of peace, unity and goodwill of India,” he added.

The Supreme Court is expected to pronounce its verdict at 10:30am on Saturday.

The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions challenging the judgment of Allahabad High Court on September 30, 2010, trifurcating the disputed land in Ayodhya into three equal parts among Ram Lalla, Central Sunni Waqf Board, and Nirmohi Akhara.

These three parties, however, moved the top court challenging the high court verdict and sought the modification of its judgment.

The bench completed the daily hearings in the matter on October 16 and reserved its verdict that has been among India’s most sensitive and divisive political issues, which will now be delivered before Gogoi retires on November 17.

Congress says Modi, Shah blinded by revenge by withdrawing SPG cover of Gandhi family

NEW DELHI, Nov 8: The Congress on Friday hit out at the Centre after it decided to withdraw the Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover to the party president Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of a top security review panel that carries out a threat perception analysis of protected persons. A formal order to accept this panel’s recommendation was issued on Thursday.

The three Gandhis will now be protected by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), people familiar with the development said.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah have been blinded by revenge and personal vendetta,” Congress general secretary in-charge of organisation KC Venugopal.

“They have murdered every democratic tradition today by withdrawing the SPG security cover to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra,” Venugopal said during a press conference.

He pointed out was former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had amended the law to give cover to the family members of the two former PMs.

Venugopal said former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior leaders of the party had written a letter to the cabinet secretary, urging him not to withdraw the SPG cover to the Gandhi family.

“The government is playing with the lives of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi,” Venugopal said.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Modi and Shah should have read a few lines from the Justice JS Verma commission’s report in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Modi and Shah have shown their political level by taking away the Gandhi’s SPG cover, he said.

Congress workers staged a protest near Union home minister Amit Shah’s residence against the government’s decision to withdraw SPG cover of the Gandhi family.

Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut meets Pawar as Fadnavis quits, says can have Sena CM

MUMBAI, Nov 8: Around the time that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was walking out of his meeting at Raj Bhavan, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut reached out to Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar for their third meeting in a fortnight. It didn’t go on for very long.

Raut emerged from Pawar’s residence in South Mumbai long before Fadnavis wrapped up his detailed statement after handing over his resignation letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. The governor has asked Fadnavis to continue as acting chief minister till he makes alternative arrangements. There is no clarity what this might be. There has been a buzz that the Sena might just stake claim, quite like the speculation its party leaders have fuelled for days.

Sanjay Raut did not clarify what the Sena’s next step would be.

But what was he doing at Pawar’s residence, a reporter asked him. Raut said they were watching TV; Fadnavis’ press conference. “Both of us heard the entire press conference of Devendra Fadnavis,” Raut, among the most visible Sena face in recent days who used the ally BJP as a dartboard over the last fortnight. He hurled one more.

“We can form the government if we want, and we can install a chief minister from Shiv Sena,” said Sanjay Raut, his response to Fadnavis who had just resigned as chief minister but prophesied that the next chief minister of the state would be from the BJP.

The BJP, Raut said, should try. If the chief minister says that his government will come back, then it must go ahead. Because in a democracy, those with the numbers can form the government.

Raut ducked questions around the possibility of the Shiv Sena staking claim with the support of Sharad Pawar’s party NCP and the Congress. But delivered a sharp counterattack at the BJP when he was asked about Devendra Fadnavis’ charge that Sena leaders had stooped low to mount personal attacks at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Fadnavis had said he was hurt by these attacks on Modi and didn’t expect such attacks from opposition leaders, much less an ally at the Centre and the state.

Raut countered him, asking people to check the records for the last fortnight to spot one statement against Modi or Amit Shah.

“We have not made any statements against PM Modi and Amit Shah. But BJP has a history of forging alliances with those who have been critical of both the leaders,” Sanjay Raut said. He did not elaborate but the barb is seen as a reference to Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala who had been a sharp critic of Modi before he tied up with BJP to join the Manohar Lal Khattar government. Uddhav Thackeray made the same point during his press conference that followed. Thackeray even played out some of the comments that Chautala had made.

Karnataka disqualified MLA claims Yediyurappa gave him Rs 1,000 crore

Nov 6: Disqualified Karnataka MLA Narayana Gowda on Tuesday claimed that Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had promised him Rs 1,000 crore for the development of his Krishnarajpet constituency and the money was being spent for development works.

“Somebody came to me and took me to BS Yediyurappa’s residence at 5 am (before the HD Kumaraswamy government fell). When we entered his home, Yediyurappa was worshiping. Once I entered, he asked me to sit and asked me to support him so that he can become the chief minister once again,” he said while speaking to his supporters here.

“I asked him to allot Rs 700 crores for the development of Krishnarajpet constituency. He said he will give Rs 300 crores more and will give Rs 1,000 crores. He also provided that money afterwards. Don’t you think I should support such a great person, I did it. Right after Yediyurappa said we got nothing to do with disqualified MLAs,” Gowda added.

He also claimed a former JD-S MLA, who was also disqualified, has made a statement in Mandya that “ he supported the Yediyurappa government for the funds to develop his constituency”.

Women can’t progress till ghoonghat exists: Ashok Gehlot

JAIPUR, Nov 6: Stressing on the importance of women empowerment for nation-building, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday said the custom of ‘ghoonghat’ must be eradicated at the earliest.

Expressing displeasure at the practice of covering women’s faces with a ‘ghoonghat’ or veil in some rural areas, Gehlot said the custom belongs to a bygone era.

“Time has changed now but the practice of ‘ghoonghat’ is still there in villages. What is right in confining a woman to ‘ghoonghat’? Women cannot progress till the ‘ghoonghat’ exists,” he said at a programme on women empowerment in Jaipur organised by an NGO.

Gehlot said women will be able to come forward and play a constructive role in nation-building only when they are not forced to cover their faces.

“Women are empowered. They have the capacity to bring changes in society and their role is very crucial,” he said.

“You (women) move forward with strength, the state government is with you,” he said.

Gehlot also emphasized the importance of completely eradicating the practice of child marriages, saying it destroys the lives of children.

The chief minister said his government is serious about crime against women and therefore decided earlier this year to depute a senior police officer at the district level to monitor cases of crime against women.

“The officer will look after all such cases and will ensure that justice is done,” he said.

Gehlot also said that while the state government has been providing self-defence training to school girls, he has now directed officials to extend the programme to all girls willing to join it.

He also highlighted schemes and programmes of his government and launched a book based on women’s struggles.

State Women and Child Development Minister Mamta Bhupesh was present at the event.

Talking to reporters later, Gehlot praised former prime minister Indira Gandhi as a great leader and cited the Green Revolution and bifurcation of Pakistan among her achievements.

“Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to say that she was ‘Durga’,” he said.

The chief minister also tried to take a political potshot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming he has not mentioned Gandhi “even once in five-six years”.

“She was a woman who raised the honour of women all over the world. But the prime minister is hesitant in taking her name,” he said.

Replying to a question on the coming civic body polls, Gehlot asserted, “We will win the elections.”

Walk out of NDA if alternative in Maharashtra is to be found: NCP to Sena

NEW DELHI, Nov 5: A political alternative can be worked out in Maharashtra if the Shiv Sena declared that it had snapped the ties with the BJP, the Nationalist Congress Party said here on Tuesday.

It also wanted Arvind Sawant, the lone Sena minister in the Union government, to resign, NCP sources said.

Maharashtra is witnessing a stand-off between the Sena and its ally BJP over power sharing after the two parties won simple majority in the October 21 assembly elections.

“Nothing like it if the BJP gives the Shiv Sena chief minister’s post. But if the BJP is refusing, an alternative can be given. But the Sena should declare that it is no longer associated with the BJP and NDA. Alternative can be provided after that,” NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said here.

Sources in the Sharad Pawar-led party also said that it told the Sena leadership on Tuesday morning that Sawant, the lone Sena minister in the central government, should resign before a new political alignment for government formation can be explored.

“Sawant should walk out of the government. Only then NCP will open its cards,” the sources said.

No party or alliance has staked claim to form government in Maharashtra after the October 24 poll results, as the BJP and Sena are bickering over chief minister’s post.

The NCP will be forced to think about alternative if the BJP-Shiv Sena combine fails to form government, state NCP chief Jayant Patil had said earlier on Tuesday.

Malik, meanwhile, also hit out at BJP leaders for claiming that some Sena MLAs were in touch with the BJP for a possible switching of loyalties.

“If the BJP wants to play this game of poaching, those who had crossed over to the BJP (before the elections) are now ready to return to their original parties. Some are in touch with us...only 25-30 MLAs will remain in the BJP if poaching begins,” he said.

Message delivered, cops end 11-hour-long protest outside Delhi Police headquarters

NEW DELHI, Nov 5: Nearly 11 hours and many appeals later, hundreds of Delhi police personnel who spent the larger part of the day outside the police headquarters in the national capital after their colleagues were assaulted by lawyers over the past few days ended the unprecedented protest late on Tuesday evening.

When it started just a little after 9 am on Tuesday, there were just about 30-35 policemen, many in their uniform, who stood outside the Delhi Police headquarters. It was a symbolic gesture. They wouldn’t raise slogans but let their silent protest drive home the message.

But that number rose to a few hundred in just a matter of two hours, and kept swelling, witnesses said, to a peak of 2,000 or so around the time Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik stepped out to address them. The protests also grew louder.

Patnaik appealed to them to disperse, reminding them about their responsibility to uphold the law and ask them to trust the judicial inquiry that had been ordered into the violence at Tis Hazari court complex on Saturday over a lawyer parking his car.

Nearly 20 policemen and many lawyers were injured. Two senior police officers were shunted out by the high court the next day and two policemen suspended.

Lawyers had chased and attacked policemen, journalists and civilians in and around south Delhi’s Saket on Sunday. A video showing lawyers slapping a policeman in south Delhi was circulated widely including by senior police officers.

The image of a policeman being humiliated and assaulted had struck a chord, a police officer said. It was so powerful that subordinate police officials stood before television cameras to speak up, occasionally even against their superiors.

“If you want to suspend us, do it. We’ll sit at home. But we haven’t joined this profession to get kicked around,” said Mahendra Singh, a policeman at the protest.

Police chief Amulya Patnaik tried to pacify the protesters. “The last few days have been testing for us. A judicial enquiry is underway and I request you to have faith in the process,” he said, telling them to return to their assignments. It was early afternoon.

Over the next several hours, there were more such appeals, many of them accompanied by a status report on their demands. Like a Rs 25,000 compensation to the injured policemen or a promise to ask the high court to review its order suspending the two policemen.

As the protesters stayed on well after dusk, senior police officers figured it a problem was that this wasn’t really an organised protest. And there were no leaders to negotiate and the list of demands that the protesters spoke about appeared to be getting longer and wider.

So it helped that senior police officers went around to individually ask protesters to leave.

By then, Lt Governor Anil Baijal had held one round of review meeting with the police brass and apart from announcing compensation for the injured policemen, decided to file a review petition in the high court against its order on Sunday.


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