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Rajya Sabha passes Citizenship Bill with 125-105 votes

The Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB) on Wednesday with 125 members voting for and 105 against the Bill. Earlier the demand for referring the Bill to the Select Committee was negated.
The Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 (CAB) on Wednesday with 125 members voting for and 105 against the Bill. Earlier the demand for referring the Bill to the Select Committee was negated.
 
The members of Shiv Sena, the latest Congress ally, were absent at the time of voting. The Janata Dal (United) voted for the Bill.
 
The CAB paves the way for citizenship to lakhs of illegal immigrants living in various parts of the country, even if they lacked any document to prove their residency.
 
The cut-off date for being eligible for the Indian nationality is December 31, 2014, which means those applying for citizenship should have entered India on or before this date. The citizenship would be granted with retrospective effect.
 
The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill on Monday.
 
IANS
 

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Manufacturing downturn pulls Q2 GDP growth to 4.5%

A massive contraction in manufacturing, agriculture and mining activity pulled India's GDP growth rate down to 4.5 per cent in the second quarter ended September 2019-20.
 
A massive contraction in manufacturing, agriculture and mining activity pulled India's GDP growth rate down to 4.5 per cent in the second quarter ended September 2019-20.
 
This is the fifth successive quarter of decline and the slowest GDP growth rate over six years. The growth on a year-on-year basis during Q2 2018-19 had stood at 7 per cent.
 
On a sequential basis, the growth rate came lower than the 5 per cent in Q1 of 2019-20, 5.8 per cent in Q4 2018-19, 6.6 per cent in Q3 2018-19.
 
At present, India's economy faces a severe demand slowdown on account of high GST rates, farm distress, stagnant wages and liquidity constraints.
 
This trend of subdued consumption, referred to as slowdown, is being cited by economy watchers as the prime reason for the successive fall in GDP growth rate.
 
Consequently, all the major sectors including automobile, capital goods, banks, consumer durables, FMCG and real estate have been heavily battered.
 
In terms of production, the output of manufacturing, mining and electricity generation among others have plunged causing job losses.
 
IANS
 

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Uddhav Thackeray sworn in as new Maharashtra CM

Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra in a grand ceremony held at the Shivaji Park here on Thursday evening.
Uddhav Thackeray takes oath as the 17th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the swearing-in ceremony in Mumbai on November 28, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Uddhav Thackeray takes oath as the 17th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the swearing-in ceremony in Mumbai on November 28, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra in a grand ceremony held at the Shivaji Park here on Thursday evening.
 
Governor B. S. Koshyari administered the oath of office and secrecy to Uddhav Thackeray, 59, who sported a striking saffron coloured kurta-pyjama, the Sena party's colour.
 
In an unusual gesture, soon after completing the formalities, Uddhav Thackeray stepped to the front of the stage and knelt down, touched his hands and head on the floor to express his gratitude to the people of Maharashtra for the honour bestowed on him.
 
IANS
 

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Maharashtra floor test on Wednesday without secret ballot, to be telecast live

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave interim directions to conduct a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday after considering the competing claims of the parties.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave interim directions to conduct a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday after considering the competing claims of the parties.
 
Having heard the parties, the bench of the top court comprising Justices N. V. Ramana, Sanjeev Khanna and Ashok Bhushan was of the opinion that since oath-taking of the MLAs has not taken place, a floor test should be conducted as soon as possible on November 27, saying the exercise should be completed before 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
 
The court said a pro tem speaker would be appointed and the floor test would not be conducted by secret ballot and the proceedings would be telecast live.
 
The court said the oath to MLAs is to be administered before 5 p.m. on November 27.
 
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance, mentioned before the apex court an application seeking directions to restrain the Devendra Fadnavis government from taking important policy decisions.
 
The apex court has given eight weeks' time to the respondents to file a reply.
 
IANS
 

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Breather to BJP-Ajit govt, SC verdict on Tuesday

The Supreme Court on Monday gave a breather to the BJP-Ajit Pawar government in Maharashtra as it reserved its order on Governor B. S. Koshyari's decision to invite the BJP to form a government in the state for Tuesday.
The Supreme Court on Monday gave a breather to the BJP-Ajit Pawar government in Maharashtra as it reserved its order on Governor B. S. Koshyari's decision to invite the BJP to form a government in the state for Tuesday.
 
The top court said the order on Maharashtra will be pronounced on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the central government, told the court that he has "brought letters of support of the BJP, NCP MLAs on which the Governor's decision rested".
 
Mehta said: "Documents show that NCP leader Ajit Pawar submitted a letter of support of 54 Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs to the Governor with their signatures."
 
"According to letter of support of Ajit Pawar on November 22, Devendra Fadnavis staked claim to form the government, which also includes letters of support of 11 independents and other MLAs."
 
The BJP has 105 MLAs in the 288-member House while the NCP had won 54 seats. The BJP claimed that it has the support of 11 independents and others thus taking its number to 170. Mehta also raised preliminary objections to a judicial review of Governor Koshyari's decision on appointment of Fadnavis as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy in a surprise early morning move on Saturday.
 
Mehta said that "after this, the Governor sent information to the President. Citing this information, he requested the revocation of President's Rule in the state."
 
Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi appearing for the BJP submitted that the Governor had gone with the party with the support of 170 MLAs. Rohtagi said that the others have never claimed that the MLAs' signatures were forged.
 
The submissions were made in the apex court during the hearing of a petition of the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP against the surprise government formation by Fadnavis on Saturday morning. Fadnavis was sworn in along with NCP's Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar as his deputy.
 
Meanwhile, Kapil Sibal appearing for the Congress said that he has the affidavit of support of 150 MLAs. He informed the court that the pre-poll alliance fell out as BJP did not stick to its promises with the Shiv Sena.
 
Senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi also appearing for Congress and NCP said what has been done is a "fraud on democracy".
 
"How can the Governor rely on signatures of MLAs without covering letter?" Singhvi asked.
 
Singhvi further said that 148 plus seven independent MLAs gave support in the affidavit. Insisting that the signatures of the NCP MLAs were perjury, Singhvi said, "We want to have floor test today after 155 people are saying we support."
 
Mehta intervened in Singhvi's submissions, and said, "Twelve signatures were missing when a letter was submitted to the Governor to withdraw Ajit Pawar's authority."
 
IANS
 

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Total unanimity between Congress, NCP on Maharashtra: Chavan

The Congress on Thursday said that it has resolved all the issues on government formation in Maharashtra with its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and there is complete unanimity between the two parties.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar with Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, K C Venugopal, Prithviraj Chavan and Jairam Ramesh during a meeting of the two parties in New Delhi on November 20, 2019.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar with Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, K C Venugopal, Prithviraj Chavan and Jairam Ramesh during a meeting of the two parties in New Delhi on November 20, 2019.
The Congress on Thursday said that it has resolved all the issues on government formation in Maharashtra with its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and there is complete unanimity between the two parties.
 
The party also said that a meeting with the Shiv Sena will take place on Friday in Mumbai for the formal announcement.
 
Addressing the media at the residence of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said: "Congress and NCP have completed discussions on all issues."
 
"There is a complete unanimity between the Congress and the NCP and we will move to Mumbai tomorrow and have a meeting with our pre-poll alliance partners. After that we will follow up that discussion together with the NCP and the Shiv Sena. As soon as discussions are completed, the media will be briefed about the structure of the proposed alliance," he added.
 
The remarks of the Congress leader came after parleys with the NCP in the national capital in the last two days.
 
Earlier in the day, the Congress' top decision making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), met and gave a go-ahead for the alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, where President's rule was imposed on November 12.
 
The Congress and the NCP on Thursday also held meetings separately of their respective leaders and then arrived at the residence of Pawar.
 
On Wednesday, the two parties held marathon meetings lasting over five hours to discuss the common minimum programme in the state.
 
The BJP and its pre-poll alliance partner Shiv Sena contested the October 21 assembly elections together and they won 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member house.
 
The Congress and the NCP won 44 and 54 seats, respectively, in the assembly.
 
The Shiv Sena had a fallout with the BJP after Uddhav Thackarey demanded a rotational chief ministership, which was refued by the saffron party.
 
IANS
 

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Centre explains J&K curbs to Parliamentary Standing Committee

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday elaborated to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Kashmir about the reasons behind imposing restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, including the communication clampdown there, and the facts leading to the bifurcation of the region into two Union Territories.
File photo of Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla
File photo of Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday elaborated to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Kashmir about the reasons behind imposing restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, including the communication clampdown there, and the facts leading to bifurcation of the region into two Union Territories (UTs).
 
Following the abrogation of Article 370 in early August, the erstwhile state has been bifurcated into two UTs -- Jammu and Kashmir with legislature, and Ladakh without one.
 
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla informed the committee that the Centre took these measures to keep the situation contained in anticipation of violence in view of statements made by various leaders of the state.
 
Troublemakers have been rounded up and arrested till date, the Secretary said, adding that as many as 288 persons have been booked under the Public Safety Act, including former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.
 
The ministry said that no loss in human life by violence has been reported in Jammu and Kashmir and no pellets have been fired in the last one month, barring the first ten days.
 
The Home Secretary cited the instance of the 2016 killing of militant Burhan Wani when Jammu and Kashmir was put under restrictions and a communication blockade was imposed, adding "many lives were lost as social media was used to spread misinformation that time".
 
The Home Secretary informed the committee about the precautionary steps taken by the security forces to maintain peace in the Valley.
 
Noting that the terrorists have been targeting vulnerable sections to instil a sense of fear in the region, Bhalla said that no "major terror incident was reported in Jammu and Kashmir".
 
The committee was informed that five apple traders were shot dead by the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of its special status to destabilise the revenue of the region which despatches around 20,000 tonnes of apples every year.
 
A total of 16,000 tonnes of apples have already been transported from August 5 till date, Bhalla said, adding that landlines are functioning in the region.
 
According to sources, around 25 lakh post-paid mobile telephone connections are functioning in the Valley.
 
"There are no restrictions anywhere in the Valley," said the source quoting Bhalla.
 
Train services have resumed, public transport is operational, hospitals are functioning and the airport has been operating normally throughout, Bhalla told the committee.
 
Life in Jammu and Kashmir is returning to normal, while examinations have been conducted in 670 examination centres peacefully, he added.
 
IANS

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SC to pronounce Ayodhya judgment on Saturday

After seven decades of a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court on Saturday will pronounce the judgement in Ayodhya title dispute case at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday.
After seven decades of a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court on Saturday will pronounce the judgement in Ayodhya title dispute case at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday.
 
The notice on the judgement was uploaded on the website of the court late in the evening on Friday. 
 
Earlier, during the day, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had held a highly confidential meeting with Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police. It is learnt this meeting focussed on taking stock of the law and order situation in the state.
 
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Gogoi and comprising Chief Justice-designate Justice S. A. Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice S. A. Nazeer, had reserved the judgement on October 17, after 40 days of daily hearing on the matter, which began on August 6.
 
On the last day of the hearing, the Hindu parties urged the court to take into consideration faith of the millions of people attached with the birthplace of Lord Ram, and the Muslim parties pleaded to restore the Babri Masjid, as it was, before the demolition in 1992. Both sides were involved in intense arguments in the last phase of the hearing, and it appeared high-pitched arguments had led to chaos in the courtroom.
 
The court began the daily hearing after the court-appointed mediation panel headed by former Supreme Court Justice F. M. I. Kalifulla and comprising spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar along with senior advocate Sriram Panchu, failed to develop a consensus among the parties to arrive at an amicable solution.
 
On the last day of hearing the Muslim parties urged the court to allow the matter to be settled between parties without passing a judgement. A faction in the Sunni Waqf Board, Uttar Pradesh, had apparently conceded the title of the dispute to the Hindu side on terms and conditions. A representative of this faction told the media that the nature of dispute requires settlement and not judgement, which is essential to maintain peace in the country.
 
During the hearing, the judges had asked piercing questions, specifically focussed at the complexity involved in faith and its legal outcome, to both parties. Senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan, representing the Muslim parties, had objected to  this line of questioning specifically targeting them but later, he apologised to the court on the same.
 
Dhavan also shot to the headlines, after shredding a pictorial map, submitted by one of the Hindu parties associated with the disputed site. Dhavan had objected to this submission. He was also the only lawyer who argued for two weeks, establishing the possession of Muslim parties on the disputed site, before the court.
 
The Allahabad High Court in 2010 through a judgement equally partitioned the dispute 2.77 acre land between - Ram Lalla Virajman, Nirmohi Akhara and Sunni Waqf Board. A total of 14 appeals were filed in the apex court in four civil suits.
 
IANS
 

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German Chancellor Merkel arrives in India, to hold talks with Modi

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Delhi last night on a two-day visit to India during which she and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will co-chair the fifth biennial Inter-Governmental Consultations between the two countries.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel being received by Minister of State in PMO Jitender Singh on her arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on October 31, 2019.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel being received by Minister of State in PMO Jitender Singh on her arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on October 31, 2019.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived here last night on a two-day visit to India during which she and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will co-chair the fifth biennial Inter-Governmental Consultations between  the  two countries.
 
The two countries are slated to sign around 20 agreements after the talks between the two leaders. This will be the fifth meeting between Modi and Merkel in the past one year, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Merkel was received on her arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here by Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh.
 
The German Chancellor is accompanied on the visit by several Ministers and business leaders.
 
The agreements between the two sides are likely to be in the fields of agriculture, green urban mobility, Ayurveda, and artificial intelligence, among others.
 
Merkel was accorded a ceremonial reception in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning after which she will visit Rajghat and lay a wreath at the "samadhi" of Mahatma Gandhi. She will then attend a meeting with Indian women leaders from various fields such as business and law.
 
Merkel will meet Modi at Hyderabad House here after which the two sides will hold their 5th Inter-Governmental Consultations. This will be followed by the exchange of agreements and press statements by the two leaders.
 
She is also slated to hold a meeting with business leaders from both countries in the afternoon.
 
After  a visit to Gandhi Smriti later in the afternoon, Merkel will call on President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Later, she will hold a meeting with the Prime Minister at his residence.
 
Tomorrow, Merkel will meet a business delegation and visit the Continental Automotive Components India Pvt Ltd at Manesar near Gurugram. She will also visit a Metro station at Dwarka in Delhi before flying out.
 
NNN

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Girish Chandra Murmu named Lt. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir

Girish Chandra Murmu, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1985 batch (Gujarat cadre), has been appointed as the Lt. Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Girish Chandra Murmu
Girish Chandra Murmu
Girish Chandra Murmu, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1985 batch (Gujarat cadre), has been appointed as the Lt. Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
 
Murmu, 59, is currently the Expenditure Secretary in the Ministry of Finance at the Centre.
 
A press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan also said Satya Pal Malik, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, has been transferred and appointed as Governor of Goa.
 
Murmu, who has an MA in Political Science from Utkal University and an MBA from the University of Birmingham, had earlier served as Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Gujarat when Narendra Modi, now the Prime Minister, held that position.
 
Parliament had in early August this year passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019 and approved the resolution to abrogate the Constitution's Article 370. The Bill, which was passed by Rajya Sabha on August 5, was approved by the Lok Sabha on the following day.
 
The Jammu and Reorganisation Act bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature, and Ladakh without a legislature.
 
Murmu will, thus, be the first Governor of the new UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
 
Former Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur, 65, a retired IAS officer of the 1977 batch (Tripura cadre), will be the first Lt. Governor of the new UT of Ladakh. Mathur had served earlier as the Secretary, Defence Production and as Secretary,  Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. After his tenure as Defence Secretary, he had also served as Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).
 
The communique also said P S Sreedharan Pillai had been appointed as the Governor of Mizoram.
 
The appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices, the communique added.
 
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PM Modi leaves on packed, week-long US visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday left for a week-long visit to the US, voicing confidence that his visit would present India as a vibrant land of opportunities, a reliable partner and a global leader, and also help impart new energy to bilateral ties with the US.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday left for a week-long visit to the US, voicing confidence that his visit would present India as a vibrant land of opportunities, a reliable partner and a global leader, and also help impart new energy to bilateral ties with the US.
 
In a statement, Modi said he looks forward to meeting US President Donald Trump in Houston as well as in New York, in a span of a few days.
 
Both sides will review bilateral relations "in order to bring even more benefits to our two nations and peoples", he said, terming the US "a vital partner for our national development" and that their "shared values, convergent interests and complementary strengths provide the foundation for natural partnership between the world's oldest and largest democracies".
 
Modi will also address the UN General Assembly session.
 
He is slated to hold around 20 bilateral meetings during his New York visit, including with President Trump. During his UNGA speech he will focus on India's role towards development and peace and security, with no mention of Article 370 which is an "internal issue", the Ministry of External Affairs had said on Thursday.
 
India will also host at the UN an event to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi that will see the participation of several heads of state and government along with the UN Secretary-General to "pay our collective tribute to Gandhiji and underscore the significance of his message".
 
On the Houston leg of his visit, Modi will interact with CEOs of leading energy companies in the US with the aim to enhance India-US energy partnership.
 
The highlight there will be the 'Howdy Modi' event for the diaspora on September 22, where Trump and over 60 American lawmakers will be present.
 
The New York leg of the visit will also cover important elements of bilateral relations and he will also addressing the opening plenary of the Bloomberg Global Business Forum and receive the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Goalkeepers Goals Award 2019.
 
IANS

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FM announces tax bonanza for corporates, exchequer to take Rs 1.45 lakh crore hit

In a major bonanza for corporates as part of measures to promote growth and investment, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday slashed the corporate tax rate to 22 per cent for domestic companies and 15 per cent for new domestic manufacturing companies, besides other fiscal reliefs.

File photo of Nirmala Sitharaman
File photo of Nirmala Sitharaman
In a major bonanza for corporates as part of measures to promote growth and investment, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday slashed the corporate tax rate to 22 per cent for domestic companies and 15 per cent for new domestic manufacturing companies, besides other fiscal reliefs.
 
The effective tax rate for these companies would now be 25.17 per cent, inclusive of surcharge and cess. Also, such companies shall not be required to pay Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT).
 
The total revenue foregone for the reduction in corporate tax rate and other relief is estimated at Rs 1,45,000 crore. This is the biggest announcement so far by the Modi 2.0 government to fight the slowdown, which dragged down the GDP growth to a six-year low of 5 per cent in the April-June quarter of the current fiscal.
 
The government has brought in the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2019 to effect lower tax for corporates.
 
A company, which does not opt for the concessional tax regime and avails the tax exemptions, would continue to pay tax at the pre-amended rate. However, these companies can opt for the concessional tax regime after expiry of their tax holiday/exemption period.
 
"After the exercise of the option they shall be liable to pay tax at the rate of 22 per cent and option once exercised cannot be subsequently withdrawn. Further, in order to provide relief to companies which continue to avail exemptions/incentives, the rate of Minimum Alternate Tax has been reduced from existing 18.5 per cent to 15 per cent," a Finance Ministry statement said.
 
In order to stabilise the flow of funds into the capital market, the government has said that the enhanced surcharge introduced by the Finance (No.2) Act, 2019 will not apply on capital gains arising on sale of equity share in a company or a unit of an equity oriented fund or a unit of a business trust liable for securities transaction tax.
 
"The enhanced surcharge shall also not apply to capital gains arising on sale of any security, including derivatives, in the hands of Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs). In order to provide relief to listed companies, which have already made a public announcement of buy-back before July 5, 2019, it is provided that tax on a buy-back of shares in case of such companies shall not be charged," the statement said.
 
The sharp tax rate cut has been announced even as revenue collection on account of both direct and indirect taxes are far below expectations.
 
IANS

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Mamata meets Modi with sandesh, seeks his help

Meeting the Prime Minister in New Delhi on Wednesday after a 15-month gap amid heightened political speculations, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged Narendra Modi to revive certain stalled projects in the state.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee calling on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on September 18, 2019.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee calling on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on September 18, 2019.
Meeting the Prime Minister here on Wednesday after a 15-month gap amid heightened political speculations, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged Narendra Modi to revive certain stalled projects in the state.
 
Terming the meeting with the Prime Minister good, Mamata said changing the name of the state topped her agenda. "We discussed changing the name of West Bengal to Bangla and he promised to do something about it."
 
The state has been trying to change the name of the state primarily to get central assistance early as West Bengal's turn comes right at the end.
 
The stalled projects taken up at the meeting related to railways and mining, and disinvestment of certain public sector units also figured at the meeting.
 
She also invited the Prime Minister for inauguration of the coal project in Birbhum.
 
Mamata carried a bouquet of yellow flowers and multiple packets of sandesh for Modi from a well known Kolkata shop.
 
Interestingly, during the heat and dust of the 2019 general elections, she had said, "I'll send Modi roshogollas made of mud, pebbles so that he loses his teeth".
 
The meeting comes at an interesting time, just a day after Modi's 69th birthday that drew criticism and formation of a 14-member Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) crack team to trace Rajeev Kumar, former Kolkata top cop and Mamata favourite, in the Rs 2,500 crore Saradha chit fund scam.
 
Bengal Congress chief Somen Mitra has accused Banerjee of making desperate attempts to ensure an "escape route" for Kumar.
 
"It's anybody's guess as why is she seeking a meeting with Modi all of a sudden," Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP's Bengal in-charge, said, recalling Banerjee's sharp criticism of Modi during the 2019 general elections.
 
IANS
 
 

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Ace lawyer, ex-Minister Ram Jethmalani passes away

Veteran criminal lawyer and former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani passed away on Sunday at his residence in Delhi.
Ram Jethmalani (File photo: IANS) 
Ram Jethmalani (File photo: IANS) 
Veteran criminal lawyer and former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani passed away on Sunday at his residence here, confirmed advocate Ashish Dixit. 
 
Jethmalani was 96.
 
He had also served as the Minister of Urban Development in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government. In 2010, he was elected as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
 
Born on September 14, 1923 in Sindh, Pakistan, Jethmalani completed his LL. M. from the S. C. Shahani Law College, Karachi.
 
He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977. He took charge as Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs in October 1999 until July 2000 in the Atal Bihari  Vajpayee government.
 
A noted criminal lawyer, Jethmalani has been part of legendary cases including the famous multi-crore 2G allocation case.
 
He had appeared for Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, convicted for the assassination of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict V. Sriharan alias Murugan; Harshad Mehta in the stock market scam; underworld don Haji Mastan in smuggling cases; and had argued for senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L. K. Advani in the Hawala case.
 
Jethmalani has also written various books including the "Conflict of Laws", "Justice: Soviet Style" and "Big Egos and Small Men".
 
A specialist in Criminal and Constitutional Law, he was also a part-time professor in Government Law College (Mumbai), Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) and Wayne State University in the US.
 
He also was made Chairman of the Bar Council of India in 1970 and member of International Bar Association in 1966.
 
IANS
 

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Ex-Finance Minister Chidambaram sent to judicial custody in INX Media case

A Delhi court on Thursday sent former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to judicial custody in the CBI case related to INX Media.
P. Chidambaram (File photo: IANS)
P. Chidambaram (File photo: IANS)
A Delhi court on Thursday sent former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to judicial custody in the CBI case related to INX Media.
 
Special CBI Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar sent Chidambaram to 14 days in custody after he was produced in court on Thursday. The court also allowed applications moved by Chidambaram seeking medicines and a western-style toilet in jail along with Z-category security and a separate cell with a cot and a bathroom. The same were allowed by the court.
 
Chidambaram has also moved another application in the court seeking permission to surrender in the Enforcement Directorate case relating to INX Media. The court had issued a notice to the financial watchdogs and the hearing on it would take place on September 12.
 
During the course of hearing, Chidambaram's counsel Kapil Sibal said, "There is nothing found against me. If I am a powerful person and I can influence the witness, they should bring some evidence of at least an attempt of tampering of evidence or influencing of witness."
 
"Potential of, likely to, apprehension of, can't be the reasons for me going to the judicial custody," he added.
 
Responding on the submissions, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said, "Are you arguing on bail?"
 
Sibal replied, "I am arguing on the grounds you are seeking judicial custody for."
 
"It is bascially humiliation. There must be proof that has to be given," Sibal said.
 
Mehta replied "So far as the ED case is concerned, Supreme Court has accepted the chance of tampering. There is a strong possibility of tampering with the evidence."
 
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ADB President meets Modi, pledges $12 billion for new flagship initiatives

Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday and pledged $ 12 billion in support of the government's new flagship initiatives over the next three years.
ADB President Takehiko Nakao meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on August 29, 2019.
ADB President Takehiko Nakao meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on August 29, 2019.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today and pledged $ 12 billion in support of the government's new flagship initiatives over the next three years.
 
This was the third meeting between Modi and Nakao since Modi assumed the office of Prime Minister in 2014.
 
Nakao also met with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Nitin Gadkari, and Minister of Railways and Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal.
 
A press release from the bank said Modi and Nakao discussed how to further enhance the partnership in areas such as the promotion of new technologies and innovation, renewable energy, solar-pump irrigation, electric vehicle and battery, fintech, sustainable tourism, and the recycling of plastics.
 
Nakao commended the government’s vision to make India a $5 trillion economy during Modi’s second term, which began in May this year, and reaffirmed ADB’s commitment to helping bolster the country’s inclusive growth and rapid economic transformation to achieve this vision.
 
“India is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia and the Pacific, maintaining a growth rate of about 7.5% on average in the last 5 years. ADB expects the country’s growth in 2019 at 7.0% and in 2020 at 7.2%, despite downside risks in the global economy,” said Nakao at his meetings with the Indian leadership. “The government needs to maintain prudent macroeconomic management, sustain its reform efforts, enhance industrial competitiveness and job creation, and rejuvenate the rural economy.”
 
Nakao also commended the government’s key reforms, such as the introduction of goods and services tax to make India a single market, the implementation of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016, capital infusion for banks, the improvement of business regulation, and its further opening to foreign direct investment, which are yielding results. He encouraged the government to sustain the momentum of reforms in areas such as labor laws, land acquisition, and consolidating various welfare schemes.
 
ADB’s sovereign lending to India in 2018 reached a record $3.0 billion, in transport, urban, irrigation, skills development, and intermediary finance for public-private partnerships. 
 
Nakao said he appreciated the country’s speedier implementation of projects. He emphasized the bank’s commitment to catalyzing private sector investments and announced a $100 million investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund. In May 2019, ADB made its single largest non-sovereign loan to date by committing $750 million to the Indian Railways Finance Corporation to support the electrification of existing railways tracks.
 
Nakao said ADB stood ready to commit more than $12 billion lending in the next three years, 2020–2022, averaging annually over $3 billion for sovereign operations and $1 billion for nonsovereign operations.
 
ADB’s sovereign and non-sovereign operations will focus on the government’s major initiatives, including (i) the Jal Jeevan Mission (extending drinking water for all, water conservation, and more crop per drop); (ii) the East Coast Economic Corridor program; (iii) promoting competitiveness of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises by connecting to global value chains; (iv) supporting national road safety programs; and (v) constructing a rapid rail transit system to connect Delhi with neighboring satellite cities, starting from Delhi to Meerut. ADB will also expand assistance in secondary education and the universal health system, the release said.
 
Nakao lauded the government’s “Act East” policy, particularly its thrust to integrate the northeastern region with neighbouring economies, including countries in Southeast Asia. India also actively participates in the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program—a partnership initiated in 2001 by ADB now including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. India is hosting the first SASEC Finance Ministers’ meeting in March 2020.
 
Nakao will travel to Kolkata, where he will attend the launch of an ADB publication tomorrow that showcases ADB’s 20-year partnership with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. The partnership has been helping improve the city’s water supply, sewerage, and drainage systems, while also building resilience through the introduction of early flood warning system.
 
India is an ADB’s founding member since 1966 and is now its biggest borrower. ADB has committed $39.7 billion in sovereign lending and $5.7 billion in nonsovereign lending and investment by June 2019.
 
"ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.5 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region," the release added.
 
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Kashmir is India's internal issue: Rahul slams Pakistan

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday supported the government's stand that Kashmir was India's internal issue and said there was no room for any other foreign country to interfere in it.
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday supported the government's stand that Kashmir was India's internal issue and said there was no room for any other foreign country to interfere in it.
 
The Congress leader, in a series of tweets, said: "I disagree with this government on many issues. But, let me make this absolutely clear: Kashmir is India's internal issue and there is no room for Pakistan or any other foreign country to interfere in it."
 
"There is violence in Jammu and Kashmir. There is violence because it is instigated and supported by Pakistan, which is known to be the prime supporter of terrorism across the world," he added.
 
IANS
 

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Confident that changes in Kashmir will benefit people: President

President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday expressed confidence that the government's moves on Kashmir would be of "immense benefit" to the people of J&K and Ladakh and enable them to access the same rights and privileges as the rest of the country.
File photo of President Ram Nath Kovind
File photo of President Ram Nath Kovind
President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday expressed confidence that the government's moves on Kashmir would be of "immense benefit" to the people of J&K and Ladakh and enable them to access the same rights and privileges as the rest of the country.
 
In his Independence Day eve address, that comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation on Kashmir, President Kovind said: "I am confident that the recent changes made in Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh would be of immense benefit to those regions. They will enable the people to access and enjoy the same rights, same privileges and same facilities as their fellow citizens in the rest of the country."
 
On August 5, the Government of India revoked the special status for Kashmir and divided the state into two Union territories - J&K and Ladakh -- for better governance.
 
Referring to the Lok Sabha elections, he said the 17th general election was the largest democratic exercise in human history. "For this I must congratulate our voters. They turned up at polling stations in large numbers and with much enthusiasm."
 
He expressed happiness that the recently concluded session of Parliament saw lengthy and productive sittings of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. "Many important Bills were passed, in a spirit of cross-party cooperation and constructive debate. I am confident this is only an indicator of what the coming five years have in store. I also urge that this culture percolates to all our legislative assemblies."
 
Commenting on governance, he said the state and the government have an important role to play as facilitator and an enabler. "As such, it is critical for our key institutions and the policy makers to study and appreciate the message being sent by citizens and to be responsive to the thoughts and wishes of our people."
 
"Indians can be very different in their tastes and habits, but Indians share the same dreams. Before 1947, the dreams were for a free India. Today, the dreams are for accelerated development; for effective and transparent governance; and yet for a smaller footprint of government in our everyday lives."
 
IANS

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Sushma Swaraj cremated with full state honours

The last rites of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who passed away on Wednesday night, were held at the Dayanand crematorium on Lodhi Road in New Delhi with full state honours on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays his last respects to former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at her funeral in New Delhi on August 7, 2019. (Photo: IANS/PIB)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays his last respects to former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at her funeral in New Delhi on August 7, 2019. (Photo: IANS/PIB)
The last rites of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj were held at the Dayanand crematorium on Lodhi Road here with full state honours on Wednesday.
 
The 67-year-old veteran BJP leader Sushma Swaraj passed away on Tuesday night following a cardiac arrest. Her body was kept at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters in the heart of the capital for the public to pay homage. 
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, BJP stalwart L. K. Advani, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah and senior leaders of other parties were among those who attended the funeral.
 
The mortal remains of the former Minister were brought to the crematorium amid heavy deployment of NSG and Black Cats commandos, and hundreds of armed Delhi Police personnel.
 
Earlier, her admirers were in tears as her body was taken from her residence to the BJP headquarters in the heart of the national capital.
 
It was a short journey but scores of admirers who sprinted along with the vehicle transporting her body ahead of the last rites kept shouting slogans hailing the veteran politician -- and frequently breaking down.
 
The two slogans chanted most were "Sushmaji amar rahe" and "Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Sushma tera naam rhega".
 
So shrill was the sloganeering that the sirens in the convoy carrying the BJP leader's body had to get louder to clear the path.
 
Before the body draped in the national flag was taken out of her residence, where it was kept since her death overnight, a large number of people, neighbours included, thronged the house close to Jantar Mantar monument.
 
Guided by a police pilot, the convoy included a white Ambassador car followed by the ambulance carrying the mortal remains. Her family was in another vehicle.
 
A bus at the end carried some of her supporters and close friends.
 
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SC seeks personal appearance of CBI officers probing Unnao cases in court

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider transfer of the trial in the Unnao rape case to Delhi.
The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will consider the transfer of the trial in the Unnao rape case to Delhi.
 
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the CBI officer supervising the cases connected with Unnao rape victim to make personal appearance before the court on Thursday at 12 noon.
 
The court sought full details of the status of investigation into the rape case along with the accident case from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by Thursday noon.
 
Justice Gogoi said the court will consider the transfer petition in connection with transfer of trial of cases to Delhi.
 
Solicitor General (SG) informed the court that the CBI officer probing the case is out of town due to the ongoing investigation.
 
The SG told the court that they can bring case records earliest by evening, and sought adjournment of the hearing till Friday 10.30 a.m.
 
The CJI replied that the CBI chief can take instructions or gather details telephonically, and brief the court on Thursday.
 
The apex court on Wednesday took suo motu cognisance of a letter written by the family of the Unnao rape victim alleging threats from Uttar Pradesh MLA Kuldip Sengar's men. The court will hear the case on Thursday.
 
The top court also summoned for the medical report of the victim. The court has also asked the Secretary General of the court to explain the reason for the delay in placing the letter before the Chief Justice, if it was indeed received on July 17.
 
The Chief Justice observed that the reports had emerged as if nothing was done on the letter received in the Supreme Court Registry on July 17.
 
Gogoi said the court will try to do something constructive "amid this highly destructive environment".
 
On Wednesday, the Chief Justice asked the court Registry to file a reply within a week as to why there was a delay in placing before him the July 12 letter written by the rape victim and her family seeking security. 
 
In the letter to the CJI, the young rape victim, her mother, sister, uncle and aunt alleged that the henchmen of the accused, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, were threatening to implicate them in false cases if they did not settle the case.
 
The letter also contained a video recording of the criminal intimidation and the photographs of the accused.
 
On Sunday, the rape victim, who had accused Sengar of raping her in 2017, was travelling to Rae Bareli with her lawyer Mahendra Singh and two aunts when a truck being driven on the wrong side hit them. 
 
IANS
 

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India's Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission launched into orbit by GSLV Mk III

India's ambitious Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission, that will attempt a soft landing on the hitherto unexplored dark side of the moon, was injected into its planned orbit by the GSLV MkIII-M1 on Monday, a week after an earlier planned launch was aborted due to a technical glitch.
 
India launches second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2
India's ambitious Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission, that will attempt a soft landing on the hitherto unexplored dark side of the moon, was injected into its planned orbit by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV MkIII-M1) this afternoon, a week after an earlier planned launch was aborted due to a technical glitch.
 
The Rs. 603 crore spacecraft was injected into its planned orbit by the Rs. 375 crore GSLV-Mk III-M1 with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.7 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 45475 km, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
 
The launch took place from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, on India's east coast, as scheduled at 1443 hours IST in near perfect conditions.
 
After the injection of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, a series of manoeuvres will be carried out using its onboard propulsion system to raise its orbit and place it in the Lunar Transfer Trajectory, a statement from ISRO said.
 
On entering Moon's sphere of influence, onboard thrusters will slow down the spacecraft for lunar capture. Subsequently, the orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the moon will be circularised to a 100x100 km orbit through a series of orbital maneuvers.
 
On the day of landing, the Lander (Vikram) will separate from the Orbiter and then will perform a series of complex manoeuvres comprising rough braking and fine braking. Imaging of the landing site region prior to landing will be done for finding safe and hazard-free zones. Vikram will attempt to make a soft landing in a high plain between two craters — Manzinus C and Simpelius N — at a latitude of about 70° South on 7th September 2019, it said.
 
Subsequently, the Rover (Pragyan) will roll out and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of 1 lunar day which is equal to 14 Earth days. The mission life of Vikram is also 1 lunar day. The Orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year.
 
The 20-hour countdown for the rescheduled mission had begun at 1843 hours yesterday.
 
The mission was originally scheduled to be launched in the early hours of July 15 but it was called off about an hour before take-off due to a technical snag.
 
"Chandrayaan - 2 launch scheduled on 15th July 2019 at 2:51hrs was called off due to a technical snag noticed at around one hour before launch. An expert committee was constituted to analyze the issue and suggest remedial action," a statement posted by ISRO on its website had said on July 18.
 
"The expert committee identified the root cause of the technical snag and all corrective actions are implemented. Thereafter, the system performance is normal," it said.
 
On July 15, ISRO had said that a technical snag had been observed in the launch vehicle system at T-56 minute. It said it had called off the launch for that date as a "matter of abundant precaution".
 
Minutes before the mission was called off on that day, the countdown to the launch was suddenly put on hold, 56:24 minutes before the scheduled take-off.
 
Chandrayaan-2 is a space mission that aims to go where no country has ever gone before and conduct a soft landing on the Moon's south polar region.
 
The three-stage 44-metre tall, 640-tonne GSLV Mk-III is India's most powerful launcher to date and has been completely designed and fabricated from within the country. It is capable of launching 4-tonne class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). 
 
The Lander of Chandrayaan 2 is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space Programme. It is designed to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days. Vikram has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Rover. The Lander is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface.
 
Chandrayaan 2's Rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to 'wisdom' in Sanskrit. It can travel up to 500 m and will leverage solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the Lander.
 
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Thousands bid farewell to Sheila Dikshit

Amid chaotic scenes, three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was cremated here on Sunday as VIPs and thousands of commoners watched, a day after the veteran Congress leader suffered cardiac arrest and died.
Sheila Dikshit (File photo: IANS)
Sheila Dikshit (File photo: IANS)
Amid chaotic scenes, three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was cremated here on Sunday as VIPs and thousands of commoners watched, a day after the veteran Congress leader suffered cardiac arrest and died.
 
Security personnel forced most journalists from the print and electronic media to stay away as Dikshit's mortal remains were consigned to a crematorium powered by compressed natural gas at Nigambodh Ghat near the Yamuna river.
 
Family members broke down as the mass of men and women, mostly Congress supporters, raised full throated slogans of "Sheila Dikshit Amar Rahe" amid light rains.
 
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, former Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her daughter and party leader Priyanka Gandhi as well as a string of other Congress veterans witnessed the last rites.
 
So thick was the crowds that security personnel had to push back people trying to surge ahead. 
 
The cremation came after a large number of people, including BJP stalwart L. K. Advani and former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, paid homage to Dikshit, 81, at her residence at Nizamuddin before the body was taken to the Congress headquarters in the heart of Delhi.
 
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too visited Dikshit's residence.
 
From there, Dikshit's final journey to Nigambodh Ghat began in a van. Her sister Rama sat with the body.
 
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid his tribute to Dikshit, who was also briefly the Kerala Governor, at her residence. 
 
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and senior leaders Ahmed Patel and Raj Babbar were among others who joined the emotionally charged crowds. 
 
Many other Congress leaders and activities followed the van carrying Dikshit's body in cars and two-wheelers.
 
Congress activists explained why they had gathered at the spot.
 
"For over 15 years, we saw Delhi flourishing every day. The amount of greenary and infrastructure that Delhi has today is because of Dikshitji," said Jagdish Sharma, a party worker.
 
Added Mubeen Firoz, another Delhiite: "Every day in the morning she used to have a public meeting at her home. I remember her listening to every citizen and working hard to make their lives easy."
 
Dikshit was the Congress President in Delhi when she suffered cardiac arrest and died on Saturday, months ahead of Assembly elections in the national capital which is now governed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
 
The Delhi government has announced a two-day mourning and a state funeral for Dikshit.
 
Dikshit was first elected the Chief Minister of Delhi in 1998 and re-elected for two more five-year terms before the AAP washed out the Congress in the 2015 Assembly elections.
 
Dikshit lost her own seat to Kejriwal.
 
IANS
 

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SC says rebel MLAs can't be compelled to participate in trust vote

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that 15 Congress MLAs, who have tendered their resignations, cannot be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the House.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that 15 Congress MLAs, who have tendered their resignations, cannot be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the House.
 
The top court also said the Speaker is free to decide on the resignation of the MLAs as per the Constitution. 
 
According to the order, MLAs are free to skip the trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly slated for tomorrow.
 
The court was hearing petitions filed by 15 rebel MLAs, seeking directions to the Assembly Speaker to accept their resignations.
 
"The Speaker should decide freely, as the court will not come in the way of this process....," said the court, citing the trust vote which is scheduled on July 18 in the House. 
 
The rebel MLAs are free to not participate in the trust vote, said the bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. It said the decision of the Speaker should be placed before the court. 
 
The court said it was passing interim orders in facts and circumstances of the case and to maintain "constitutional balance" and "competing rights" of the parties."
 
The court also said the Speaker should be allowed to pass appropriate orders on the resignation of the MLAs within parameters of Article 190 of the Constitution and relevant the Rules.
 
During the day-long arguments on Tuesday, the parties involved pointed out to the bench the implications of the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka on the state as well as elsewhere, and also questioned the apex court's jurisdiction power to entertain the rebel MLAs' petition.
 
Hearing rebel MLAs counsel senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, the bench said: "We cannot say, in which way, the Speaker should decide the resignation or disqualification of MLAs. We cannot fetter him. Although, the important question is, is there any constitutional obligation for the Speaker to decide upon the resignations before the disqualification of the MLA or to club his decisions on both?"
 
The bench asked counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi what stopped Speaker K. R. Ramesh Kumar from deciding on whether to accept or reject the resignations tendered by the MLAs on July 6.
 
"You were silent on the resignations till the MLAs came to the Supreme Court. Why? If you have decided on the resignations, then where is the scope for disqualification?" the Chief Justice asked Singvhi. 
 
Singhvi replied that the Speaker had filed an affidavit in the apex court explaining what had happened. 
 
Asked why wasn't a decision taken when the MLAs went to the Speaker with their resignations, Singhvi said it was a written communication, and the Speaker was not available on that day. "But the decision was communicated to him on July 6," the court added.
 
Singhvi argued that the first condition of a genuine resignation tendered by an MLA was that "he has to be personally present before the Speaker" and added that the MLAs first met the Speaker on July 11.
 
Reacting sharply to the argument, the court said that the provision did not negate resigning by letter, but if the MLAs did make a personal visit to the Speaker then he was expected to decide on their resignations immediately. "Why didn't it happen on July 11?" the bench further queried. 
 
Asking if the Speaker was challenging the Supreme Court's jurisdiction power, the Chief Justice said: "For your benefit, the court had ordered a floor test (referring to the last year's floor test) and appointed a pro tem Speaker in a midnight hearing. The exercise of jurisdiction of our power depends only on self-restraint."
 
Singhvi said the Speaker was in no way questioning the court's jurisdiction and added: "Suppose a Speaker goes crazy, then Your Lordships can intervene." 
 
The Chief Justice also heard senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who was representing Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, and questioned the veracity of the petition filed by the rebel MLAs.
 
Asking the Supreme Court to look at the notice behind the petition, Dhawan said: "The court should have not entertained this petition." 
 
IANS

Jaishankar joins BJP, nominated to contest RS seat from Gujarat

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who was nominated to contest from a Rajya Sabha seat in Gujarat hours after he joined the BJP on Monday, landed in Ahmedabad in the evening to file his nomination on Tuesday.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar joining the BJP in the presence of its Working President J. P. Nadda in New Delhi on June 24, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar joining the BJP in the presence of its Working President J. P. Nadda in New Delhi on June 24, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who was nominated to contest from a Rajya Sabha seat in Gujarat hours after he joined the BJP on Monday, landed in Ahmedabad in the evening to file his nomination on Tuesday.
 
Along with Jaishankar, who was inducted into the Union Cabinet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, the BJP has nominated Jugalji Thakore, an OBC leader from North Gujarat, to contest another Rajya Sabha seat in the state.
 
The two seats fell vacant after Union Ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha in the April-May election.
 
The 64-year-old former Foreign Secretary was earlier welcomed into the party by BJP Working President J. P. Nadda at the party headquarters in New Delhi.
 
BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan and BJP MP Bhupender Yadav were also present.
 
Jaishankar was inducted into the Cabinet and given the crucial portfolio of External Affairs on May 30, when the new Council of Ministers was sworn in.
 
As of now, he is not a member of either House of Parliament.
 
The 1977-batch officer has served in various capacities in the Ministry of External Affairs and as Indian envoy in important countries such as the US and China at crucial times.
 
He was Foreign Secretary from January 2015 to January 2018 and played a key role in shaping Modi's foreign policy during his first term, which saw a significant growth and expansion of India's ties with key countries, particularly the US and Arab nations.
 
Prior to that, during his tenure as India's Ambassador to the US from September 2013 till taking over as the Foreign Secretary, Jaishankar played a major role in bringing the US administration and the Modi government closer.
 
He also planned and executed the maiden visit of Prime Minister Modi to the US in September 2014 and his address to the Indian diaspora at the Madison Square in New York.
 
A major highlight of his diplomatic career was his tenure as Joint Secretary in-charge of Americas Division from 2004 to 2007, during which he was involved in negotiating the historic civil nuclear agreement which was finalised in 2006.
 
He also led the Indian team of negotiators for the subsequent 123 Agreement with the US, which was linked to the civil nuclear deal and concluded in 2009.
 
Jaishankar, who was honoured with India's fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri in January this year, also played a key role in improving the defence cooperation between India and the US in the shape of a new framework.
 
Jaishankar's tenure as India's Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2013, which was the longest by any IFS officer, coincided with several major developments in relations between the two countries.
 
It was his briefing to the Cabinet Committee on Security in 2010 regarding China's refusal to issue a visa to the Northern Army Commander which led to suspension of Indian defence cooperation with China and military exercises, before the matter was resolved in April 2011.
 
Also in 2010, Jaishankar negotiated an end to the Chinese policy of issuing stapled visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir.
 
Born on January 15, 1955, Jaishankar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1977.
 
IANS
 
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Making India 5-trillion-dollar economy challenging but can be achieved: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that the goal to make India a five-trillion-dollar economy is challenging but can be achieved and asked the states to recognise their core competence and work towards raising GDP targets.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, in New Delhi on June 15, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, in New Delhi on June 15, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that the goal to make India a five-trillion-dollar economy is challenging but can be achieved and asked the states to recognise their core competence and work towards raising GDP targets.
 
In his opening remarks at the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, the Prime Minister said that empowerment and ease of living have to be provided to each and every Indian.
 
"The goal to make India a five-trillion-dollar economy by 2024 is challenging but can surely be achieved. The states should recognise their core competence and work towards raising GDP targets right from the district level," he said.
 
He noted that the export sector was an important element in the progress of developing countries and said both the Centre and the states should work towards growth in exports, in order to raise per capita incomes.
 
"There is immense untapped export potential in several states, including the north eastern states. A thrust on export promotion at the state level will provide a boost to both income and employment," he said.
 
Describing Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana as illustrations of what the Centre and the states can accomplish together, the Prime Minister urged the states to focus on collective responsibility for achieving short-term and long-term goals.
 
"Empowerment and ease of living have to be provided to each and every Indian. Everyone at this platform has a common goal of achieving a New India by 2022," he said.
 
The meeting was attended by the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Ministers, Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and other delegates.
 
IANS
 

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