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All should cooperate for a peaceful election: Punjab CM

(Chandigarh, Jan 4, 2016): With Punjab set to go to polls on February 4, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal appealed to political parties to cooperate with the Election Commission (EC) in conducting the elections in a peaceful and fair manner.

In a statement issued here today, the Chief Minister said that Punjabis have always upheld the lofty ideals of peace, communal harmony and brotherhood and hoped the glorious tradition would be maintained.

Punjab, together with Goa, will go to polls on February 4, the Election Commision announced today.

Irrespective of political differences, every party has a right to disseminate their ideology, the chief minister said, adding that Punjab government fully respected this and was committed to carrying out elections in a peaceful, free and fair manner.

The Chief Minister also said the state government would fully cooperate with the Election Commission in strictly implementing the Model Code of Conduct. (PTI)

Hazare is part of 'RSS conspiracy', alleges NCP

(Mumbai, Jan 4, 2016): With Anna Hazare moving the Bombay High Court seeking a CBI inquiry into the alleged "Rs 25,000 crore sugar cooperative factories scam", the NCP today dubbed the social activist as an "agent of the RSS".

NCP spokesman Nawab Malik alleged that Hazare was playing a role in the "RSS conspiracy" to defame senior NCP leaders like Sharad Pawar.

"Why is Hazare not protesting over any issue in the BJPruled Maharashtra," Malik asked.

Hazare recently moved the Bombay High Court seeking a CBI inquiry into what he termed a "Rs 25,000 crore sugar cooperative factories scam".

He filed two civil PILs and a criminal PIL seeking a CBI probe into the issue. The criminal PIL is listed for hearing on January 6 before a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka.

The petitions alleged that fraud had been committed in governance by first burdening sugar cooperative factories with debts and thereafter selling these sick units at a throwaway price, causing loss of Rs 25,000 crore to the government, cooperative sector and members of public.

The petitions also demanded an inquiry by a Special Investigating Team (SIT) into alleged role of "politicians into the sugar cooperative scam, including NCP president and former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and his nephew and former irrigation minister Ajit Pawar". (PTI)

Arvind Kejriwal helping forces who want to disturb Punjab's peace, says Rahul Gandhi

SANGRUR, Feb,2,2017: Launching an allout attack against Arvind Kejriwal in the backdrop of the Maur Mandi blast+ , Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused him of "helping" forces who want to disturb Punjab's peace and push it back to the dark days of militancy.

On the last day of the poll campaign in Punjab, Rahul addressed a gathering in Ballian village here and referred to the Tuesday night's car explosion in Maur Mandi+ , which left six dead.

The blast had occurred shortly after the "jansabha" of Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi, who is contesting the February 4 elections from Maur assembly seat.

"The most important thing is the atmosphere you live in. If that atmosphere gets spoiled, violence starts or anger prevails, then the work of farmers, labourers, weaker sections suffers, entire state suffers," Rahul said.

Taking a veiled dig at the ruling Akalis and the AAP, Rahul said, "from one extremist thinking, Punjab should not go to other extremist thinking. Congress is one such party which takes all sections along. We want that Punjab should rapidly progress."

"But if violence breaks, anger prevails+ , then everything will be destroyed. We have to understand that those forces, which destroyed Punjab earlier (referring to militancy period in the state), because of whom violence broke, such forces are yet again raising their head."

" Bomb blast took place+ and six people died (Maur). Arvind Kejriwal, who is Delhi's Chief Minister, is helping these forces and helping them raise their head. And this is most dangerous thing for Punjab.

"If these forces raise their head again, then entire agenda will be hijacked and Punjab will look in some other direction," he warned.

Rahul said, "So, it is necessary all of us together, be from any religion, caste or creed, we all should again stand up so that we can build a Punjab, which was known for its spirit of giving, a path as shown Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh."

Addressing the gathering while sitting on a cot with villagers and farmers of Ballian here, Rahul also talked about farmers issues, saying during UPA's time loans of farmers amounting to Rs 70,000 crore were waived off and promised that if Congress forms the next government in the State, the burden of state's farmers will be

Rahul is also scheduled to address poll rallies in Malwa belt later in the day, which constitute bulk of the seats in the 117member Punjab assembly.

After interacting with local villagers, Rahul also sat on a mat and shared food with them.

From Sangrur constituency, Congress has fielded its former MP Vijay Inder Singla, who was also present.

AIADMK crisis: Palaniswami set to seek vote of confidence in TN Assembly amid uncertainty

(Chennai,Feb 17, 2017): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami is all set to seek a vote of confidence on Saturday in the state assembly that is likely to see some tightrope walk, with the rival AIADMK faction led by O. Panneerselvam joined by opposition parties to vote against the government.

The southern state, that has not seen a day without hectic political developments since the past 10 days, is poised for another day of intense political activity with the scene shifting to the state assembly.

Palaniswami, 63, a senior leader in the ruling AIADMK of the VK Sasikala camp, was sworn in on Thursday. He needs the support of 117 legislators to continue in the post.

The AIADMK party commands the support of 124 legislators, including the Speaker, while the breakaway group led by former Chief Minister Panneerselvam has 11 legislators.

The other opposition includes DMK with 89 members, Congress eight, Indian Union Muslim League with one, and one seat is vacant. The DMK has said it will vote against the government, while the Congress has said it will wait for the party high command's directive. However, the Congress has indicated it will vote against the Palaniswami government.

The DMK (minus its President M. Karunanidhi who is unwell has 88 legislators to vote), Along with the Congress and Indian Union of Muslim League, the opposition group comes to 97.

The Panneerselvam camp has the support of 11, taking the tally against Palaniswami to 108. If there is some crossvoting to the tune of 10 legislators from Sasikala's camp then it could be the end for Palaniswami.

The Assembly has a total strength of 234 of which one seat is vacant.

On Friday, the Chief Minister's support base suffered erosion by one legislator.

AIADMK legislator representing Mylapore constituency and former Director General of Police (DGP) R. Nataraj said he would vote against Palaniswami.

Following Nataraj's aboutturn at the last minute, Palaniswami's support base is down to 124 legislators.

Meanwhile, a week after he was sacked from the AIADMK, former party Presidium Chairman E. Madhusudanan on Friday in turn "dismissed" General Secretary VK Sasikala, Chief Minister Palaniswami Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran, Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha M.Thambidurai, A. Navaneethakrishnan, Thangamani, N.Dalavai Sundaram, Valarmathi, R.B. Udhayakumar, C.Ve. Shanmugam and S. Venkatesh from the party's primary membership.

The vote of confidence is being held following a split in the AIADMK party after Panneerselvam revolted against General Secretary VK Sasikala charging her of forcing him to quit.

Sasikala is now in a jail in Bengaluru after being convicted in a corruption case.

On Thursday, Palaniswami was sworn in as Chief Minister and 30 ministers also took oath.

Majority of legislators belonging to Sasikala camp are housed in a beach resort around 90 km from here and Panneerselvam hopes to get some votes from those legislators.

After holding hectic discussions at Panneerselvam's residence on Friday morning, a small group of AIADMK leaders met the Speaker in the Secretariat and demanded secret ballot.

Speaking to reporters, S. Semmalai, part of the Panneerselvam camp, said they have urged the Speaker for a secret ballot to decide on the motion of confidence.

"Panneerselvam and the legislators supporting him should openly vote against the motion of confidence and to build on the credibility in the people's mind space," KC Palaniswamy, a former MP of AIADMK, told IANS on Friday.

On the other hand if secret ballot on the confidence motion is allowed and a whip is issued the issue before the Panneerselavam camp is whether to abide by the whip or disobey.

"In case if they disobey, whether they could be disqualified as legislators under the antidefection law is a point to ponder," an AIADMK leader said.

"The party whip has to take orders from the leader before issuing any whip on the way in which legislators are to vote. In AIADMK's case the appointment of Sasikala as General Secretary is under dispute and also the appointments made by her. So that question would have to be decided before any legislator can be disqualified," Palaniswamy said.

Sasikala had recently dismissed Panneerselvam and former Minister K. Pandiarajan from the primary membership of the party and both are outside the purview of the antidefection law.

DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan has predicted the government will not survive.

On Thursday, MPs belonging to the Panneerselvam camp had met Election Commission officials and petitioned to disqualify Sasikala's appointment as General Secretary.

'UP Does Not Need An Adopted Son,' Priyanka Gandhi Hits Back At PM Narendra Modi

(Raebareli,Feb 17, 2017):Priyanka Gandhi, seen as the chief architect of her party the Congress' alliance with the Samajwadi Party for the Uttar Pradesh elections, offered a riposte today to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attacks on Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and her brother and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, the faces of their partnership.

"UP doesn't need an adopted son to do good for the state, Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav are two sons of UP," said Ms Gandhi, in a short speech in Raebareli, her mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi's parliamentary constituency. It was in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said at an election rally yesterday that he is the "adopted son of UP," drawing parallels with Lord Krishna.

"Krishna was born in Uttar Pradesh but made Gujarat his karma bhoomi. I was born in Gujarat but Uttar Pradesh has adopted me," said the Prime Minister, who represents UP's Varanasi in parliament. He said UP was like "maibaap" or parents to him and he felt privileged, vowing not to let down the state.

"What have you done for Varanasi," Ms Gandhi asked, also invoking her father when she said, "Rajiv Gandhi developed Amethi, what a prime minster can do for a constituency everyone knows."

Her brother too attacked PM Modi with a Bollywood reference, saying he promised "achhe din" like Shah Rukh Khan in "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" but ended up being villain Gabbar Singh of "Sholay."

The BJP, led by the PM and party chief Amit Shah, has labeled Mr Gandhi and Mr Yadav the "two shehazade or princes," accusing them of a direct and privileged access to power because they belong to political dynasties.

Anita Srivastava, the BJP candidate from Raebareli said, "the Gandhis have done nothing for this area, that is the truth."

In a crowd of over 5,000 women waiting for a glimpse of Priyanka Gandhi, 45yearold Kalluri Devi said she had a few months ago handed an application to Sonia Gandhi personally requesting for a grant to build a house and for a hand pump to be installed at her house. "Sonia Gandhi told me she would pursue it.... If I met her again I will tell her that her people just don't listen to the poor," she said.

Ms Gandhi made her first public appearance in these elections only a day after Smriti Irani, union minister and Rahul Gandhi 's opponent in the 2014 national election in neighbouring Amethi, alleged that she was missing in action because she had no answers for the people.

Priyanka Gandhi has so far restricted her campaigning to her mother and brother's constituencies and there is no indication so far that she will change in the ongoing UP assembly elections being held in seven phases. Two phases of polling have already been held.

Supreme Court to examine making National Anthem mandatory, not National Song

(NEW DELHI,Feb 17, 2017): The Supreme Court on Friday did not go into the debate for making singing of the National Song mandatory in schools while clarifying that it has "kept alive" such a plea only for the National Anthem without expressing any view on it.

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra referred to Article 51 A (a) of the Constitution and said it deals only with the National Anthem and the National Flag and not the National Song.

"Therefore, we do not intend to enter into any debate as far as the National Song is concerned," the bench, also comprising Justices R Banumathi and Mohan M Shantanagoudar, said.

The bench, which was hearing a plea seeking a direction for framing of a policy to promote and propagate the National Anthem, the National Flag and the National Song, tagged the petition with another similar plea on the issue which is pending before it.

Regarding the prayer seeking a direction to ascertain the feasibility of singing or playing the National Anthem and the National Song in Parliament or a state Assembly, public offices, courts and schools on every working day, the apex court said it would keep alive the prayer regarding schools only.

"In the earlier writ petition, a contention was advanced by the Attorney General pertaining to schools and, therefore, as far as the prayer relating to 'schools on every working day' is concerned, it is kept alive," the bench said.

"We may hasten to clarify when we have kept the prayer alive, that does not mean that we have expressed any opinion on the same," the apex court said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Vikas Singh, who was appearing for petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, said that one of the prayers in the plea for framing of a national policy was similar to the matter which is pending before the apex court.

The bench, which persued the order passed by it in the similar matter earlier, said that its order does not relate to the National Song or the National Flag.

"Be it clearly noted, Article 51A(a) of the Constitution of India does not refer to the National Song. It only refers to the National Flag and the National Anthem," it noted.

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