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Chandrayaan 2 launched successfully

SRIHARIKOTA, July 22: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched its second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, from Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota on Monday, a week after the lift-off was aborted at the eleventh hour due to a technical snag.

Chandrayaan-2 lifted off onboard Isro’s most powerful launcher, the 640-tonne rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III), from the country’s only launch site Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Lakhs of people watched the launch in India and abroad as the heavy-lift rocket roared off into the skies.

The launcher of Chandrayaan-2, nicknamed ‘Bahubali’, measured 44 metres in height. The three-stage vehicle is capable of launching 4-tonne class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

The 20-hour countdown to the lift-off, a mission which has been described as one of the most complex ever undertaken by the space agency, had begun on Sunday at 6.43pm.

India deferred its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 for the fifth time last Monday, roughly an hour before blast-off after scientists noticed a glitch in the launch vehicle, delaying its bid to become only the fourth country. The lunar landing mission was rescheduled for July 22 after scientists corrected the snag.

The Rs 978 crore project will follow Chang’e-4, launched by China, which in January became the first spacecraft to successfully land on the far side of the moon. Only three countries, the United States, the erstwhile Soviet Union and China, have successfully landed missions on the moon.

The 3,850kg Chandrayaan-2 consists of an orbiter that will circle the moon for about a year, taking images and testing the atmosphere; a lander named Vikram, after India’s space pioneer Vikram Sarabhai; and a rover named Pragyaan, which means wisdom in Sanskrit.

The Rs 375 crore GSLV-Mk III carrying the orbiter, lander, and rover will launch the Rs 603 crore Chandrayaan-2 into an Earth parking orbit 16 minutes into its flight. The distance between the Earth and the moon is about 3.844 lakh km.

The mission will send the rover to the moon’s south pole and Indian scientists hope to directly observe the water ice on the lunar surface, evidence for which was gathered by spectrometers aboard India’s first moon mission in 2008.

Isro has said Chandrayaan-2 will be injected into an Earth parking 170x40400 km orbit. The spacecraft’s orbit will be raised by a series of manoeuvres to put it on Lunar Transfer Trajectory. On entering the Moon’s sphere of influence, on-board thrusters will slow down the spacecraft for Lunar Capture.

From its launch to the soft landing, the entire mission is set to take about 58 days. After the launch, it will take 16 days to raise the orbit and then five days to reach the moon’s orbit. Once there, it will make an orbit around the moon for 27 days, before the lander makes an attempt to de-orbit. After four more days, the lander will land in a difficult manoeuvre that lasts 15 minutes.

The landing of Chandrayaan-2 is Isro’s biggest challenge till now, the 15 minutes when the lander separates and before it soft lands on the moon have been called “terrifying moments” by the agency that has never undertaken such a flight.

Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to soft-land Vikram and Pragyan in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° south. Ample solar light for solar power, the nearly flat surface with good visibility for a safe landing and expected the higher presence of water and minerals are the main reasons why the space agency chose Moon’s south-pole for landing.

The rover and the lander will have a life of one lunar day (14 earth days) and for that lunar day, it will conduct scientific experiments. The orbiter, however, has a life of one year.

The first landing pictures may be available within 15 minutes of the lander touching down. However, it will take four hours from the time of landing to the time the rover comes out from the lander.

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) instrument for LASER ranging will be carried by the mission as a mark of cooperation between the two space agencies. India will use the Deep Space Network of the US space agency on payment basis for navigation and guidance.

The mission carries 13 Indian scientific instruments for experiments. Imaging of rock will be done to find elements like magnesium, calcium and iron and also for signs of water. Mission will also study the exosphere of the moon.

Isro is following the same launch strategy followed for Chandrayaan-1. However, Chandrayaan 1 was just an orbiter while Chandrayaan-2 has lander and rover components adding complexity to the mission.

During the countdown, the rocket and the spacecraft’s systems will once again undergo checks and fuel will be filled to power the rocket engines.

GSLV-Mk III will also be used for India’s manned space mission slated in 2022.

It is a giant leap in India’s space program and its success will solidify its place among the world’s spacefaring nations with Chandrayaan-2 aimed landing a rover near the unexplored south pole.

Sheila Dikshit cremated with state honours, hundreds pay homage

NEW DELHI, July 21: Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who died of cardiac arrest at a Delhi hospital on Saturday, was cremated with state honours at the Nigambodh Ghat on Sunday afternoon. She was 81.

Hundreds of people turned up to pay homage to former three-time Delhi CM as her body was brought to the Congress headquarters.

Congress workers jostled to have a glimpse of their leader as the body was brought in a glass casket from her Nizamuddin residence to the party headquarters. The truck carrying the casket moved slowly as the road was packed with supporters who chanted ‘Jab tak suraj chand rahega Sheila ji ka naam rahega’.

Several top Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel and chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath, paid their last respects to Dikshit at the Congress office.

“She was a friend...almost like an elder sister. This is a big loss to the Congress party,” Sonia Gandhi told reporters.

Dikshit’s body was also taken to the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee’s office for the last time, the place that was central to her politics since 1998.

Earlier in the day, leader form the BJP such as L K Advani and former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj visited Dikshit’s residence and paid homage.

Speaker free to decide but Congress can’t compel MLAs to vote in trust vote: SC

NEW DELHI, July 17: In an interim order passed to maintain ‘constitutional balance’, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said while no time frame can be set for the Speaker to take a decision on the resignations of Karnataka rebel MLAs, the lawmakers also could not be forced to attend the trust vote scheduled for Thursday.

“Speaker should be free to take a decision, should not be fettered by any court direction,” the top court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi said while adding ‘can’t compel MLAs to attend asembly’.

The imperative necessity, at this stage, is to maintain the constitutional balance and the conflicting and competing rights that have been canvassed before us, the top court added.

The Judges added that given the stage at which the case is poised right now “we are of the view that the aforesaid questions should receive an answer only at a later stage of the proceedings.”

Sixteen MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JD(S) — have quit since July 7, pushing the Congress-JD(S) coalition government to the brink of collapse.

The rebels had argued in court on Tuesday that their resignations must be accepted by the Speaker and that they could not be “forced to attend the assembly”.

If the resignations are accepted, the 15-month-old coalition would be reduced to a minority in the assembly and leave it poised on the brink of collapse in the climax of a crisis that began on July 6.

The Congress-JD(S) government led by HD Kumaraswamy will face a trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly on Thursday. Last week, Kumaraswamy had said he was ready to face a confidence motion after 16 coalition MLAs resigned.

Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar is yet to accept the resignations but if he does so the 15-month-old coalition would be reduced to a minority in the assembly. The strength of the 224-member Assembly would be reduced to 209 if the speaker accepts the 16 resignations

The ruling coalition would need support of 105 MLAs to retain the government but it has a strength on only 100, this excludes the speaker who can only vote in case of a tie. The BJP has the support 105 lawmakers and an independent lawmaker is also supposed to be on their side. One member of the assembly is nominated.

67 dead as red alert sounded in flood affected North-East, Bihar, UP

NEW DELHI, July 17: The death toll in floods in North-East, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh rose to 67 on Tuesday from 45 on Monday, even as the India Metrological Department (IMD) has predicted more rains in these regions.

Close to nine million people in the flood affected regions have been affected with nearly 300,000 living in relief camps.

Union water resources minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat who met chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday, announced the release of Rs 251 crore as first installment to the state disaster response fund, the Assam’s disaster management authority said.

“The floods in Assam are a concern for the entire country. I would like to assure that the Centre will extend all help to the state to tackle the situation effectively,” Shekhawat said.

Till Tuesday, 22 people have died in floods, including two in landslides in Guwahati, and five deaths were reported from Barpeta, Dhubri, Morigaon and Nagaon. There are 5.25 million people affected in 30 of the state’s 33 districts. Around with 147,000 displaced persons are taking shelter in 695 relief camps, the state disaster management authority said.

The ongoing floods have taken a toll on the animals residing within the Kaziranga National Park, the biggest habitat of one horned rhinos in the world. Four rhinos and an elephant died in the past 24 hours due to floods, according to divisional forest officer RB Saikia, taking the total animal death toll in the park till Tuesday to 30.

In Bihar where 12 of the state’s 38 districts are facing a deluge, chief minister Nitish Kumar told the state assembly that Rs 6000 will be given as relief to six lakh families affected by the floods, through direct benefit transfer Friday onwards.

“Bihar is hit by disasters, like floods or drought every year, but we don’t get adequate funds. The state only received Rs 500 crore (from the Centre)?in the 2017 floods,” he said.

With recovery of nine more bodies on Tuesday, the death toll has reached 33 in Bihar.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, six deaths were reported due to floods in rivers originating in Nepal. Hundreds of villages in Balrampur, Shravastri and Lakhimpur districts remained under water as Rapti and Sharda rivers continued to flow over the danger mark, the state’s irrigation department said.

Punjab’s Bathinda received 178 mm rainfall in eight hours on Tuesday morning — the city receives 375 mm in a year.

The IMD also issued a red alert (over 240 mm in 24 hours) for Kerala’s six districts, including Idukki, Wayanad, Kannur, Ernakulam and Thrissur, from July 18 onwards. These were some of the most affected districts in the 2018 floods, which were the worst that the state had experienced in a century.

Meanwhile, in Nepal, at least 78 people have died and 40 injured, with around 17,500 displaced due to floods and landslides, authorities said Tuesday.

Daughter accuses BJP MLA dad of witch hunt after marrying Dalit

LUCKNOW, July 11: Sakshi Misra (23) uploaded videos on social media on Wednesday announcing her wedding to Ajitesh Kumar (29) and alleging that her life was in danger from her father and asked the police for security.

Uttar Pradesh BJP legislator Rajesh Misra, whose daughter released a video accusing him of witch hunt after she married a Dalit man, said on Thurday that he was not opposed to the marriage but had other concerns.

“I am not opposed to the marriage of my daughter. My only concern is that the boy is more than nine years older than her. As a father I am also concerned about their future because the boy doesn’t earns much,” said the MLA the MLA from Bithari Chainpur in Bareilly district over phone.

“I can never even imagine to harm my daughter. I want them (the couple)to return home. I have also informed the party high command about the matter,” said Misra.

After the videos went viral, the BJP MLA also issued a statement saying that Sakshi was an adult and had a right to take decisions. ”Neither I nor any member of my family or any acquaintance has intimidated Sakshi... I am busy with my constituency work,” he added.

Sakshi Misra (23) uploaded videos on social media on Wednesday announcing her wedding to Ajitesh Kumar (29) and alleging that her life was in danger from her father and asked the police for security.

In an appeal to her father she asks him to back off and let the couple live peacefully while warning him to ‘stay off Ajitesh and his family’ or face the consequences.

“I have married of my free will and my father has sent out his goons for us… I am tired of running, I seek police protection,” she says in a video where Kumar can be seen sitting next to him.

“If they catch us, they will definitely kill us,” she adds. Kumar also speaks of the alleged goons following them, “We managed a narrow escape this morning after a group people landed at the hotel we were staying in.”

He alleged that Sakshi’s family was out to kill them for ‘honour’ as he was from a Dalit family. “If In another video, she has apprehended threat to her life from her father, brother and an associate, and urged the Bareilly senior superintendent of police to extend security to them.

Sakshi Misra has also appealed to the MPs and MLAs of Bareilly to not help Rajesh Misra as she alleged that her father and others were out to eliminate her.

“Through this video, I want to say that if in future anything happens to me, Abhi or his family, my father, Vicky Bhartol and Rajiv Rana will be responsible for it... Those who are helping my father, stop helping him because our lives are in danger.”

Deputy Inspector General R K Pandey said he had come to know of the video messages and had asked the SSP to extend security to the couple. The DIG said the police do not know where to give her security as she had not disclosed her location


They appoint CMs in bars: Ghulam Nabi Azad’s dig at BJP on Karnataka crisis

NEW DELHI, July 9: As the Congress fights to save its coalition government in Karnataka, the party’s leader in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday charged the BJP of orchestrating the resignation of MLAs and accused it of appointing chief ministers “in bars and restaurants”.

The Congress leader’s comments came after photos emerged of independent MLA H Nagesh, who quit the coalition government on Monday, barely a month after he was made minister, boarding a plane at the Bengaluru airport that flew him to Mumbai.

On the tarmac, Nagesh is seen in the photos with two men, one of whom is said to be the personal assistant of Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa. While the rank and file of the BJP have denied any involvement in the crisis in the Karnataka government, the Congress says that the photographs at the Bengaluru airport were proof the saffron party’s meddling.

“There is a BJP hand in the Karnataka crisis. Yeddyurappa’s PA was in the plane with rebel MLAs. BJP appoints Chief Ministers in bars and restaurants. They have done this before in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh,” Azad told reporters outside Parliament.

A total of 13 MLAs have flown to Mumbai since the resignation drama began last weekend,

Azad will be heading for Bengaluru to salvage the situation for the Congress after another MLA Roshan Baig submitted his resignation on Tuesday.

Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy’s embattled government got a breather on Tuesday with Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar’s office saying the resignation letters by 8 MLAs of the 13 MLAs were not in the prescribed format and would have to be submitted afresh.

Kumar also scheduled appointments on July 12 and 15 with five of the 13 MLAs to talk about their resignation letters.

70% job reservation in private sector for locals in MP: Kamal Nath

BHOPAL, July 9: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath Tuesday said the state government is mulling a law to ensure 70 per cent jobs to local youths in the private sector.

Speaking in the state assembly, Nath said the proposed law will ensure that unemployed youth of the state gets adequate representation in the private sector.

While intervening in a question related to increasing the age relaxation for those from outside Madhya Pradesh in the government jobs, the CM the administration will not allow any injustice to youth of the state, who were disappointed in the past due to high unemployment.

“We will bring the law to ensure 70% reservation for domiciles of MP in private jobs. The law will make it mandatory for both private and government sectors to give more employment to domiciles of MP,” he said.

“We have already made the changes in the Industrial Promotional Policy. Now, industries will get the incentives and other advantage for investment in MP only when they provide 70% employment to residents of MP. We are now going to make a law in this regard.”

The Congress in its manifesto for 2018 assembly elections has promised reservation for locals in jobs. After taking oath as chief minister, Nath had announced the change in industry policies, which provided financial incentives to reserving 70% of jobs in private sector for locals.

The BJP dismissed Kamal Nath’s announcement as a gimmick.

Former MP chief minister and BJP national vice-president, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, said the Congress had also promised to provide an unemployment allowance to youth of MP but did nothing.

This formulation of law is just a political gimmick to evade the questions related to rising unemployment or cheating with youth in the name of Yuva Swabhiman Yojana, which was an utter failure,” he said.

But the proposed law may not go down well with industries looking for specific skilled employees.

Rahul Sharma, director of a private recruitment agency in Bhopal, said the law could turn out to be deterrent.

“I am in this field for more than a decade and I know there is a huge dearth of skilled workers in Madhya Pradesh. Even for a job of a call centre, we recruited candidates from others states. The government should come up with industrial oriented course and develop a talent pool before introducing this law. Otherwise, the law will be act as a deterrent for industries,” he said.

Drunk on power: Priyanka Gandhi lashes out at BJP after assault incidents

NEW DELHI, July 7: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Sunday claimed some BJP leaders were “drunk on power” as they thrash government employees for doing their duty and asked if any action will be taken against them.

Taking to Twitter, she said while one thrashes a government employee using a cricket bat and another fires and uses lathis to hit a toll employee.

Her reaction came after security men accompanying BJP MP and scheduled castes commission chairman Ram Shankar Katheria on Saturday opened fire in the air and allegedly thrashed employees at a toll post here.

“BJP leaders were supposed to serve the people of the country after winning elections, but they are instead thrashing employees,” Priyanka Gandhi said.

“Drunk on power some leader uses a bat to beat up an employee, while another resorts to firing and uses lathis against a toll employee for demanding toll fee. Are there any chances of strict action against these people,” she tweeted in Hindi. The Congress general secretary was referring to the incident on June 26 when BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya’s MLA son Akash was arrested in Indore for allegedly assaulting a municipal corporation official with a bat.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, Mumbai Congress chief Deora resign from party posts

NEW DELHI, July 7: Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia on Sunday announced that he has submitted his resignation to Rahul Gandhi, hours after the party’s Mumbai chief, Milind Deora, stepped down from his post.

“Accepting the people’s verdict and taking accountability, I had submitted my resignation as General Secretary of AICC to Shri @RahulGandhi,” Scindia tweeted. “I thank him for entrusting me with this responsibility and for giving me the opportunity to serve our party.”

Scindia, 42, later clarified that he met Gandhi about 10 days ago and submitted his resignation.

“I am not a leader who gives orders to others. I think when there is a responsibility, there comes accountability as well. I am responsible if performance is not good and therefore I took the decision to resign,” he said.

Scindia and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were appointed general secretaries incharge of western and eastern Uttar Pradesh, respectively, on January 23 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Deora, 42, quit his post and said he looked forward to playing a role at the national level to help stabilise the Congress. He, too, expressed his desire to quit shortly after meeting Gandhi in New Delhi on June 26. “The same has been conveyed to party general secretaries Mallikarjun Kharge and KC Venugopal,” Deora said in a statement.

Deora was named the Mumbai Congress chief on March 25 in place of Sanjay Nirupam. His appointment was then seen as an attempt to end an infighting within the party.

Deora suggested the formation of a three-member panel to lead the party’s city unit for the assembly polls in Maharashtra due this year. “I had accepted the position in the interest of the party. I felt I should resign after meeting Rahul Gandhi. I suggested a panel and am being consulted by leaders to identify names. I look forward to playing a national role to help stabilise the party,” he said.

Nirupam opposed the idea of appointing the panel, saying it is “not at all appropriate” and will “ruin the party further”. He took a swipe at Deora. “A resignation is done when someone wants to reject something. But here a moment later, a national level position is being sought. Is this a resignation or a ladder to climb up? The party should be cautious with such ‘hard-working’ people,” Nirupam tweeted.

Gandhi, 49, brought finality to his decision to step down as the party president last week when he tweeted a four-page farewell note listing the reasons why he resigned. He went public with the letter after the party refused to accept his resignation. The Congress Working Committee is expected to meet soon to take a call on Gandhi’s resignation and his possible successor.

A series of resignations have followed since the Congress’s rout in April-May elections in which it managed to win 52 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. So far, general secretaries Harish Rawat and Deepak Babaria, foreign affairs department office-bearer Partap Singh Bajwa, legal cell head Vivek Tankha, farmer cell chief Nana Patole and Scheduled Castes department chairman Nitin Raut have resigned.

State chiefs Raj Babbar (UP), Niranjan Patnaik (Odisha), Ashok Chavan (Maharashtra) and Girish Chodankar (Goa) have also put in their papers.

Cong-JD (S) coalition in Karnataka on verge of collapse after 12 MLAs resign

BENGALURU, July 6: The Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) government of Karnataka plunged into a crisis on Saturday after 12 MLAs of the ruling coalition handed their resignations to the assembly speaker in a new headache for the grand old party, which is still trying to recover from its heavy defeat in the general election and the resignation of its president Rahul Gandhi.

Out of the 12 legislators who submitted their resignations to Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, nine were from the Congress and three from the JD(S). They submitted papers to quit the House five days after Congress MLA Anand Singh submitted his own resignation over differences he had with the government over the sale of mining land. Singh’s resignation hasn’t been accepted by the Speaker so far.

On Saturday, the legislators were not able to meet the Speaker, who was not in his chamber, and left their resignations with aides in his office.

If the 13 resignations, including that of Singh, are accepted, the effective strength of the 224-member House would be reduced to 211. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with 105 MLAs, will fall just two short of a simple majority. The coalition’s strength will come down to 106, including the Speaker.

Seven-time MLA Ramalinga Reddy told reporters as he entered Vidhana Soudha that he felt he had been sidelined and that’s why he had decided to resign.

“Congress working president {of Karnataka} Eshwar Khandre met me and tried to convince me {not to resign}. I have said in the past that I feel I’m big being sidelined and discriminated {against}. I have nothing against the Congress or the party high command,” he said.

The Congress-JD (S) coalition has been restive since it was formed in May last year after assembly elections from which the BJP emerged as the largest party in the House, but lacked a majority on its own. Reports have frequently surfaced of differences between the two partners, which came together to forestall a BJP bid for power in the only southern state it has ever ruled.

In the April-May general election, the two parties won just one Lok Sabha seat each. The BJP swept 25, contributing to the party’s landslide win. Rahul Gandhi, whose party was reduced to just 52 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, confirmed his resignation as the Congress president this week.

After the resignations, if they are accepted, the coalition will have the support of 106 MLAs – 69 from the Congress, including the Speaker, 34 from the JD(S), one Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA and two independents.

The nine Congress MLAs who submitted their resignations were Reddy (a former home minister), Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathahalli, ST Somashekhar, BA Basavaraj, BC Patil, Pratapgouda Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, and Munirathna, the Speaker’s office said. The three JD(S) MLAs were AH Vishwanath, who resigned as the party’s state president just last month, K Gopalaiah and Narayana Gowda. The MLAs flew to Mumbai in the evening on a chartered flight.

Addressing reporters after the meeting of senior party leaders in New Delhi on Saturday evening, Congress media incharge Randeep Surjewala said: “We deprecate the efforts of the BJP to buy our legislators, to pressurise legislators into resigning in order to bring down an elected government in Karnataka.” The Congress alleged that the BJP was “orchestrating the defections”.

BJP leader DV Sadananda Gowda said the MLAs decided to resign as they thought it was not in the interest of the people of the state and their constituency to be part of the current government. “If the Governor calls us, certainly we are ready to form the government as we are the single largest party. We have got 105 people with us,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

The latest development came at a time when both chief minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy and Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao are out of India. Kumaraswamy is in the US and Gundu Rao in Europe on personal visits.

Congress’s Karnataka minister and local troubleshooter DK Shivakumar met the MLAs outside the Governor’s house. All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal arrived in the city to hold talks with senior Congress leaders, including former chief minister Siddaramaiah, who dismissed talk of a crisis.

“Nothing will happen... Venugopal will come (to Bengaluru)...nothing will happen, government will continue,” Siddaramaiah said earlier in the day.

“How will it (government) be unstable? Resignations have to get accepted, right? They have not been accepted yet.”

JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda said the ball was in the Speaker’s court.

The BJP, which has come under attack from the Congress-JD(S) combine for allegedly trying to destabilise the government by luring MLAs to its fold, said it had nothing to do with the resignations.

State BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa said the party would take an “appropriate decision at the appropriate time”. Asked if BJP would move to stake a claim before the Governor for forming government, Yeddyurappa said: “We will not do such things. We will wait and watch the developments that are unfolding.”

A senior BJP leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said more such resignations could follow next week. “We will most likely move a no-confidence motion in the upcoming session,” the leader said. The monsoon session of the assembly is set to begin on July 12.

Cong attacks BJP over Karnataka, says efforts to denigrate democracy won’t work

NEW DELHI, July 6: The Congress on Saturday accused the BJP of trying to bring down its coalition government in Karnataka by “buying” MLAs and asserted that the new word for the ‘aaya ram gaya ram’ phenomenon is “MODI -- mischievously orchestrated defections in India”.

The strong reaction of the party came after 13 legislators of the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka submitted their resignation to the Speaker.

The ruling coalition, which has 118 members, faces the risk of losing majority in the 224-member Assembly if the resignations are accepted.

“The new word for ‘aaya ram gaya ram’ is MODI -- mischievously orchestrated defections in India. The Karnataka government which is a joint government having complete majority under our democratic setup is now being sought to be pulled down by defections and resignations,” Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters here.

“MLAs are being bought in broad daylight. We deprecate the efforts of the BJP to buy over legislators, to pressurise legislators, to bring down an elected government in Karnataka,” he said, asserting that the BJP has made such moves in other states in the past as well.

The ‘aaya ram, gaya ram’ phenomenon refers to the practice of MLAs defecting to other parties.

The JD(S)-Congress coalition’s total strength, including those who have put in their papers, is 118 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37, BSP-1 and Independents-2), besides the Speaker.

The BJP has 105 MLAs in the House.

Sure to form govt, says Amit Shah as 12 Cong-JDS MLAs quit in Karnataka

HYDERABAD, July 6: Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah on Saturday expressed confidence that the party would certainly conquer the southern states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala in the near future.

“The BJP is already the single largest party in Karnataka. If not immediately, we are sure to form the government there. And in the coming years, we have the potential to come to power in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala as well,” Shah said, addressing a huge gathering of party workers at Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Shah, who visited Hyderabad for the first time after the party returned to power for the second successive time at the Centre, kicked off the party’s membership drive in Telangana.

Among those who joined the BJP was former chief minister of combined Andhra Pradesh Nadendla Bhaskar Rao, who was instrumental in setting up the Telugu Desam Party along with N T Rama Rao in 1982 and later in dethroning the latter in a coup in August 1984. Retired IAS officer R V Chandravadan also joined the party.

Expressing happiness over the way the BJP had strengthened its position in Telangana by winning more than 19 per cent of votes in the recent general elections, the party president recalled that in as many as 17 states in the country, the BJP had secured more than 50 per cent vote share in the elections. “I am sure by next elections, the BJP would win 50 per cent votes in Telangana as well,” he said. Shah welcomed experienced and good leaders from other parties into the BJP.

“There is a need for Sajjan Sanghatan (consolidation of good people) in the party. We welcome leaders from other parties having faith in our party philosophy and the leadership. In fact, there is a need for all sections of people joining the BJP to strengthen the hands of the leadership,” he said.

The BJP president called upon the leaders and cadre in Telangana to expand the party network in the entire state by enrolling more members. “At present, the BJP has 12 lakh members in Telangana, but it is not sufficient. I told the party leaders to take it up to 30 lakh by enrolling another 18 lakh members in the coming months,” he said.

He suggested that the BJP should have its presence in every polling booth, village, block and district. “They should actively take the programmes of the party as well as the Narendra Modi government such as Swachch Abhiyan and tree plantation to the people. Each worker should plant at least five trees, so that by next elections, there should be greenery in every village,” he said.

Shah said the BJP was the only political party in the country which was founded on a strong philosophy, ideology and commitment to make India an economic super power in the world, while all the other parties, including the Congress were based on personalities, families and caste and communal theories.

“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is going to be the third largest economy in the world with five trillion dollars by 2022,” he said.

Earlier, Shah went to the house of a tribal woman, Sony Naik at Ranganayaka hamlet of Mamidipalli block in the outskirts of the city and enrolled her as a BJP member. She offered tea and snacks to the BJP president, who accepted the same and spent some time with her family.

Is the British Raj back in India? asks 82-yr-old ‘stopped’ from boarding train

LUCKNOW, July 6: An 82-year- old train passenger draped in ‘unstitched cloth’ and ‘dhoti’ was denied entry into Delhi-bound Kanpur-New Delhi Shatabdi Express on Thursday morning, despite having a confirmed ticket.

The passenger Ram Awadh Das accused the Government Railways Police (GRP) of not letting him board the train as he was dressed ‘differently’. However, he did not mention it (that he was denied entry because of his dress) in the written complaint to North Central Railways (NCR).

“I am shocked. It seems as if we are still living in the British era. Though I had the ticket, still the GRP personnel and the coach attendant denied me entry into the train as I was dressed differently. I am aghast and pained at their behaviour,” said Ram Awadh Das, a seer who hails from Barabanki and was going from Etawah to Ghaziabad.

Das said he kept on insisting that he had a confirmed ticket but to no avail.. “They said ‘Baba tum galat train mein chadh gaye ho (you have stepped into a wrong train). Your train is in Kanpur and will reach Etawah in next couple of hours’,” he added.

The incident was reported at Etawah station from where Ram Awadh Das, whose PNR no. was 2164371556 and who had a confirmed seat (No 71) in C2 coach, was supposed to board. Das had a reservation from Etawah to Ghaziabad, where he was going to see his followers.

“Baba visits our residence in Etawah every rainy season to carry out a religious ceremony and then he was supposed to board Shatabdi to leave for Ghaziabad,” said Sujata Dubey, a staunch follower of Ram Awadh Das. She said Das originally belonged to Barabanki district.

In the written complaint, the seer blamed the GRP personnel and an attendant for not letting him board the train.

“By the time I reached another coach, the train left,” states the seer’s complaint filed at Etawah station.

Chief public relation officer (CPRO) NCR Ajit Kumar Singh said as per the inquiry the elderly passenger had wrongly boarded power car and was told to board another coach. Since the train had just two-minute stoppage at Etawah station, it left by the time he managed to reach another coach.

However, Singh said there was need to counsel the staff at the station and to sensitise them towards elderly train passengers. They should have guided him to the right coach.

Few have the courage: Priyanka Gandhi on Rahul’s decision to step down

NEW DELHI, July 4: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday tweeted her admiration of brother Rahul Gandhi, a day after he brought finality to his decision to step down as party president by writing a farewell note to party workers and supporters.

“Few have the courage that you do @rahulgandhi. Deepest respect for your decision,” wrote Priyanka who was appointed Congress general secretary days before the Lok Sabha elections.

The 49-year-old Congress president went public with the letter on Wednesday after party colleagues refused to accept the resignation he offered at the May 25 meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making committee, after its general election defeat.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi told reporters in the Parliament House complex that he had already resigned and the CWC should find a replacement for him soon.

“I am no longer the Congress president. I have already resigned. The CWC should convene a meeting immediately and decide on the new Congress president,” he said, when asked about the future course of the party.

Congress must change radically: Rahul Gandhi says will fight, not lead

NEW DELHI, July 3: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi brought finality to his decision to step down as party president on Wednesday when he tweeted a four-page farewell note listing the reasons why he resigned. The 49-year-old went public with the letter after party colleagues refused to accept the resignation he offered at the May 25 meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making committee, after its back-to-back general election defeat.

Soon after sending the tweet, Gandhi changed his Twitter bio and removed its description of him being the Congress president. It now describes him as a member of the party and a member of Parliament. The note also paves the way for others in the top leadership of the 134-year-old party to be held accountable, along with him, for the election rout.

“It would be unjust to hold others accountable, but ignore my own responsibility as President of the party,” Gandhi, who succeeded his mother Sonia as the party president in December 2017, wrote in the signed note he posted on Twitter.

“Many of my colleagues suggested that I nominate the next Congress president. While it is important for someone new to lead our party, it would not be correct for me to select that person,” he added.

With Gandhi going public with the letter, a meeting of the CWC is expected soon to decide its future course of action.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi told reporters in the Parliament House complex that he had already resigned and the CWC should find a replacement for him soon.

“I am no longer the Congress president. I have already resigned. The CWC should convene a meeting immediately and decide on the new Congress president,” he said, when asked about the future course of the party.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used Gandhi’s move to take a swipe at the Congress. “It is a brand new drama of the party and we have nothing to do with it,” Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Gandhi stunned the top Congress leadership at the May 25 meeting of the CWC when he first conveyed his decision to quit after the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha polls, in which it managed to win just 52 seats in the 543-member House against the ruling party’s tally of 303.

He asked the CWC to appoint a new chief, but the decision-making body rejected the offer and passed a resolution authorising him to revamp the organisation.

Since then, Gandhi has had limited interactions with party colleagues and in all his meetings remained adamant on stepping down.

Even the party’s five chief ministers -- Amarinder Singh (Punjab), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry) -- failed to persuade Gandhi to reconsider his decision during their nearly two-hour-long meeting with him on Monday.

Several Congress functionaries too submitted their resignations to put pressure on him to change his mind, but to no avail.

As questions about his status continued, Gandhi finally turned to the social media to get his farewell message out.

“It is an honour for me to serve the Congress Party, whose values and ideals have served as the lifeblood of our beautiful nation. I owe the country and my organisation a debt of tremendous gratitude and love,” he said.

This time, the Congress Twitter handle also amplified his message.

In this, Gandhi signalled that he wasn’t going to be the only one without a leadership role when the exercise of rebuilding the party starts. “Rebuilding the party requires hard decisions and numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019,” he said.

Gandhi also took a sharp dig at his party colleagues for the electoral drubbing the Congress received, saying he had stood completely alone in the fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

“I personally fought the Prime Minister, the RSS and the institutions they have captured with all my being. I fought because I love India. And I fought to defend the ideals India was built upon. At times, I stood completely alone and am extremely proud of it,” he wrote.

“I have learned so much from the spirit and dedication of our workers and party members, men and women who have taught me about love and decency,” he added.

Gandhi has been upset over the party’s dismal performance in the general elections and spoken about the lack of support from party colleagues.

At the fractious May 25 meeting, Gandhi slammed the veterans for “placing the interests” of their sons above the party. He also mentioned that some leaders had even lost the election from their strongholds even as he criticised a section of the so-called GenNext for hankering for posts.

In his note, Gandhi said the BJP used state institutions to help it win the polls.

“We didn’t fight a political party in the 2019 election. Rather, we fought the entire machinery of the Indian state, every institution of which was marshalled against the opposition.”

He also stressed the importance of institutional neutrality in conducting elections. “A free and fair election requires the neutrality of a country’s institutions; an election cannot be fair without arbiters – a free press, an independent judiciary, and a transparent election commission that is objective and neutral. Nor can an election be free if one party has a complete monopoly on financial resources,” Gandhi wrote.

‘It is now crystal clear that our once cherished institutional neutrality no longer exists in India.”

Attacking the RSS, he said its stated objective of capturing the country’s institutional structure had been met. “Our democracy has been fundamentally weakened. There is a real danger that from now on, elections will go from being a determinant of India’s future to a mere ritual.”

In an apparent reference to alleged wrongdoing in the Rafale jet fighter deal on which he ran his election campaign, Gandhi said the Prime Minister’s win “does not negate the breadth of corruption allegations” against him. “No amount of money and propaganda can ever hide the light of the truth,” he said.

The BJP and National Democratic Alliance government have denied any corruption in the deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from French military plane maker Dassault Aviation.

Not guilty, pleads Rahul Gandhi in Mumbai court in RSS defamation case

MUMBAI, July 4: Rahul Gandhi appeared at a court in Mumbai on Thursday morning for a defamation case hearing, filed against him by a Mumbai-based lawyer and RSS worker. Rahul Gandhi pleaded not guilty and has been released on a surety of Rs 15,000, said advocate Kushal Mor representing Gandhi.. Former MP Eknath Gaikwad has given the surety.

The court had issued summons against Rahul Gandhi and CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury for their alleged defamatory comments linking journalist Gauri Lankesh’s killing with the “BJP-RSS ideology”.

Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in September 2017, allegedly by members of a right-wing extremist group.

In his complaint, Dhrutiman Joshi alleged that after the murder, which took place on evening of September 6, 2017, Rahul Gandhi said that “anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP, against the ideology of the RSS is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed".

The complaint alleged that Yechury said that it was “RSS ideology and RSS men” who killed the journalist.

The defamation complainant was filed in September 2017. The court has observed that the Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury should not have made such statements without verified facts.

The court issued summons against Rahul Gandhi and Yechury but dismissed the complaint against Sonia Gandhi and the CPI(M), saying a party cannot be held liable for comments made by individuals.

Rahul Gandhi is facing another defamation case at Bhiwandi in neighbouring Thane district, filed by a local RSS worker, for allegedly blaming the Sangh for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

Sack them, says Modi after Indore BJP MLA, workers beat municipal official

NEW DELHI, July 2: Akash Vijayvargiya, the BJP’s Indore legislator who thrashed a municipal official, received a tongue lashing in-absentia from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday who made it clear that he had taken a very dim view of his conduct.

Akash’s father and BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya was present at the meeting, occupying a seat in one of the back rows.

Modi did not name either of them at the meeting of BJP’s parliamentary party that has lawmakers from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. But he left no one in doubt what had provoked the sharp reprimand.

PM Modi referred to the video clip of the assault . “I see people hitting them… Did people vote us for this,” Modi said.

He told the party to identify local BJP leaders who had participated in the assault and the celebrations that followed Akash’s release from jail and remove them. BJP president JP Nadda, who was also present, made a note.

“The PM in BJP parliamentary party meeting today said any kind of misbehaviour that brings down party’s name is unacceptable. He said that action should be taken if someone has done something wrong. He also said that is applicable on everyone,” BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

Modi’s assessment of Akash’s conduct is at sharp variance with that of his father Kailash Vijayvargiya who told reporters yesterday that it wasn’t such a big issue. “Both Akash and IMC (Indore Municipal Commission) commissioner are novices,” the BJP general secretary had said.

Akash was arrested on June 26 after he allegedly hit a municipal officer who was leading a team to demolish a structure which belonged to a BJP worker, with a cricket bat.

Akash Vijayvargiya who spent a few days in jail before getting out on bail, later pledged to follow “Mahatma Gandhi’s path of non-violence” and never pick up a bat “for such an act”.

But Akash Vijayvargiya isn’t the only lawmaker to have landed in the middle of a huge controversy for beating up officials.

Also in Madhya Pradesh, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader and his associates allegedly assaulted the Satna chief municipal officer after he allegedly resisted pressure to hush up financial irregularities.

19 dead in Mumbai after highest rain in 24 hours since 2005 flood

MUMBAI, July 2: Officials said on Tuesday the death toll in the wall collapse incident in Mumbai’s Malad went up to 19 as the city received the second highest July rain over a 24-hour period in 44 years after the 2005 flood.

The heavy rains have disrupted road, rail and air traffic in the financial capital, prompting officials to shut schools and offices, though financial markets were open.

Six more people were killed in Maharashtra’s Pune after a wall of an educational institute in collapsed on Tuesday and three others died in a similar incident in Thane district, taking the death toll in rain-related accidents in the state to 27.

Officials in Mumbai said the compound wall of BMC’s reservoir at Pimpri Pada near Shivneri High School on Rani Sati Marg in Malad (East) collapsed on a few shanties late on Monday night, trapping several people. The incident was reported at around 1am on Tuesday after which the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) and NDRF officials reached the spot.

Indian Govt launches drive for water conservation

NEW DELHI, July 1: With some parts of the country reporting water shortage, Union Jal Shakti Minister on Monday launched a conservation campaign, with an emphasis on 1592 stressed blocks in 256 districts.

The 'Jal Shakti Abhiyan' will focus on five aspects, water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies, reuse of water and recharging of structures, watershed development and intensive afforestation, Drinking Water Sanitation Secretary Parameswaran Iyer said.

Officers from the central government, led by additional secretaries and joint secretaries, have been assigned to these 256 districts, he said. The district administration will also nominate two members to join these teams.

The conservation efforts will be supplemented by initiatives like developing block and district water conservation plans and 'krishi vigyan kendra melas' to promote efficient water use for irrigation and better crop choices.

In urban areas, plans with time-bound targets will be developed for wastewater reuse for industrial and agricultural purposes. Plans will be developed for at least one urban water body for groundwater recharge in the block or the city. Scientists and IITs will also be mobilised at the national level to support the teams, he said.

The government plans to run water conservation, similar to the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan with Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday pitching for the conservation of rainwater, saying there is a pressing need to make it a mass movement on the lines of the cleanliness drive.

In his first address in the second edition of the monthly show 'Mann ki Baat', the prime minister also said 'one-size-fits-all' approach is not required in the conservation of water.

35 killed after bus plunges into gorge in J-K’s Kishtwar

JAMMU, July 1: At least 35 people were killed and 17 others were injured when an overloaded mini bus veered off the road and fell into a deep gorge in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday morning.

“Thirty five people have died and 17 others were injured when a mini bus bearing registration number JK 17/6787 met with an accident in Keshwan area Kishtwar district on Monday. The accident occurred near Sirgwari,” said Kishtwar deputy magistrate Angrez Singh Rana. He said the exact cause of the accident remains a subject of investigation but the mini bus was overloaded. Helicopters have been requisitioned from Jammu to evacuate the seriously injured for specialised medical treatment at GMC Jammu, he added.

Kishtwar is around 230 Kms from Jammu.

Kishtwar SSP, Shakti Pathak said, “The condition of road was bad and the vehicle was apparently overloaded. It seems driver lost the control on a curve and the vehicle rolled down into a gorge. Twenty of the passengers died on the spot and there were more deaths of the injured at district hospital.”

Locals were the first responders to the accident. The injured have been shifted to District Hospital Kishtwar, the local added.

On June 27, 11 students from Poonch died in a road accident on Mughal Road when an overspeeding Tempo Traveller skidded off the road and plunged into a gorge. Among the 11 dead, nine were girls.

The students were on an excursion from Surankote tehsil in Poonch district to Mugal road.


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