Rajbhar removed from Yogi Adityanath Cabinet

Om Prakash Rajbhar removed from Yogi Adityanath Cabinet in Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday recommended Governor Ram Naik to sack Om Prakash Rajbhar from his Cabinet with “immediate effect.” Mr. Rajbhar holds the Backward Classes  portfolio in the Yogi Adityanath government.

This came a day after Mr. Rajbhar, an ally of the BJP who has turned rebel, predicted thFile photo of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar.e party would fare poorly in UP.  Mr. Rajbhar, on May 19, the last voting day, had predicted that the SP-BSP alliance would win a “large number” of seats in the seats and the BJP would suffer heavy losses, also because of his rebellion.

Mr. Rajbhar who has been on a warpath against the BJP after it denied him a ticket on his own symbol, said the BJP was “responsible” for its own losses as it did not take along its ally. Mr. Rajbhar is the president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party.

He suggested that the BJP would lose primarily due to his rebellion. “By not giving us one seat the BJP has damaged itself on 50,” said Mr. Rajbhar, who had been demanding the Ghosi seat for himself.

The BJP, however, wanted him to contest on its symbol. His party fielded over 40 candidates in the election, most of them from the OBC community including his own caste Rajbhars, and even supported the Congress on some seats.

Mr. Rajbhar had decided to go solo after months of acrimony with the BJP largely over his  demand of sub-categorisation of the OBC quota. He said he would continue to build his party with “full force” for the 2022 Assembly elections.

Governor accepts recommendation

Governor Ram Naik has accepted the recommendation and relieved Mr. Rajbhar of his post as Backward Class Welfare Minister. So, a day after voting for the last phase, Mr. Rajbhar is sacked from the government.

The action against Mr. Rajbhar also comes after he was caught on camera at a public meeting in Ghazipur days before voting hurling abuses at the BJP and asking his workers to thrash the BJP workers if they attempt to spread any misinformation about his party.

A BJP worker then filed a police complaint against Mr. Rajbhar, following which an FIR was lodged. The Yogi Adityanath government is also expected to sack his other colleagues as well who had got plum posts in the State government just before polls when the BJP had attempted to appease its disgruntled ally.

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Odisha Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda gets life sentence

Odisha Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda gets life sentence for ‘waging war against state’

Odisha Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda alias Sunil, who allegedly masterminded the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in 2008, was sentenced to life on Saturday for waging war against the state. This is the first time the former Maoist leader has been sentenced by a court.

Odisha Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda

Panda was sentenced to life by a sessions court in Berhampur town in connection with a case in 2014 when police arrested him from the Badabazar area. The police had seized a US-made Ruger revolver, around 800 grams of gold jewellery, 10 cell phones, and scores of mobile SIM cards, Rs 2 lakh, two external hard drives, several pen-drives and a laptop from him. Berhampur additional district judge – II, Sanjay Sahu pronounced Panda guilty under Sections 121 of the IPC for attempting to wage war against the state.

Panda, who has been behind bars since his arrest in July 2014 is accused in 135 cases. So far he has been acquitted in 52 cases. His lawyer Dipak Patnaik said he would challenge the order of the sessions court.

Panda, who was secretary of Orissa State Organising Committee of Maoists, joined the rebels in 1991. In 2001, the erstwhile People’s War Group formed the Andhra Orissa Border Special Zone Committee putting Panda as its head for Orissa. He earned notoriety in February 2008, when he planned and reportedly executed the attack on a police armoury in Nayagarh district which claimed 18 lives. The Nayagarh attack gave the rebels the much-needed firepower as the Maoists carted away truckloads of AK-47, SLRs, INSAS rifles and hand grenades from the police armoury.

In August 2008, he masterminded the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and 5 of his accomplices which led to a Hindu-Christian riot in Kandhamal district. More than 40 people were killed in the riot. In March 2012, he abducted two Italian tourists from the forests of Ganjam-Kandhamal districts and kept them hostage for 29 days. The hostage drama ended with the release of his wife Mili Panda, who was arrested for acting as Maoist courier.

Last month, Mili Panda contested as a Congress candidate from the Ranpur assembly constituency in Nayagarh district of Odisha.

-May 18, 2019 

Exit polls project majority for BJP-led NDA

Exit polls project majority for BJP-led NDA

And it’s time for Exit polls. Most exit polls forecast a majority for the ruling BJP-led NDA in Lok Sabha polls with varying numbers as the seven-phase polling in the general elections ended. Many exit polls predicted that SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh is likely to trump the BJP in the country’s politically most crucial State. The BJP had won 71 and its ally Apna Dal two of its 80 seats in 2014. However, many news channels are yet to give a final figure. The saffron alliance may not touch even half way mark of 40 in Uttar Pradesh this time, some exit polls said.

Exit poll

The numbers

Times Now: NDA 306, UPA 132, Others 104

India News: NDA 298, UPA 118, Others 127

Republic: NDA 295-315, UPA 122-125, Others 102-125 (Republic TV has done two exit polls. According to CVoter NDA will get 287, UPA 128, others 127. Jan Ki Baat prediction is: NDA 305, UPA 124, Others 87, Mahagathbandhan 26)

NDTV’s poll of exit polls gives NDA 300, UPA 127 and Others 115

IANS CVOTER: BJP: 236, Congress: 80; NDA: 287 (BJP: 236, BPF: 1, JD(U)+LJP: 20, Shiv Sena: 15, NPP: 1, NDPP: 1, SAD: 1, SPM: 1, AIADMK+: 10, Apna Dal: 1)

Neta-News X: NDA 242, UPA 164, Others 136

News 18-IPSOS: NDA 332, UPA 82, Others 127

ABP-Nielsen:  NDA 267, UPA 127, others 148; (BJP 218, Congress 81)

India Today-Axis My India: NDA 339-365, UPA 77-108, Others 69-95

UTTAR PRADESH EXIT POLLS

Exit poll projections for U.P.

The all important U.P. numbers from different exit polls are here:

ABP-CSDS: NDA 22, MGB 56, UPA/others 2

Republic-C Voter: NDA 38, MGB 40, UPA/others 2

Republic-Jan Ki Baat: NDA 46-57, MGB 21-32, UPA/others 2-4

Times Now VMR: NDA 58, MGB 20, UPA/others 2

News18-IPSOS: NDA 60-62, MGB 17-19, UPA/others 1-2

NewsX-Neta: NDA 33, MGB 42, UPA/others 5

Exit polls gossip, don’t trust them: Mamata

Dubbing exit polls as “gossip”, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said she doesn’t trust such surveys, as the “game plan” is to use them for “manipulation” of EVMs.

“I don’t trust Exit Poll gossip. The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip. I appeal to all Opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together,” Ms. Banerjee tweeted. In West Bengal, some of the exit polls suggested the Trinamool getting 24 seats, the BJP bagging 16, the Congress two seats and the Left Front drawing a blank.

-MAY 19, 2019

Sidhu damaging Congress with ill-timed comments

Sidhu damaging Congress with ill-timed comments: Punjab CM

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday criticized his Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for damaging the Congress with his ill-timed comments against him and the party leadership in the state. If he was a real Congressmen, he should have chosen a better time to air his grievances instead of just ahead of voting in Punjab, said the Chief Minister in an informal interaction with reporters here before leaving for Patiala to cast his vote, along with other members of his family.

His wife and former Union Minister Preneet Kaur is contesting from the Patiala Lok Sabha seat on a Congress ticket, and Amarinder Singh expressed confidence that the party would sweep not just this seat but all the 13 constituencies in the state.

Sidhu damaging Congress with ill-timed comments: Punjab CM

On the recent controversial and rebellious remarks of Sidhu, who had accused the Chief Minister of being responsible for the denial of ticket to his wife Navjot Kaur from Chandigarh, Amarinder Singh said he was harming the party with such irresponsible actions.

If he was a real Congressmen, he should have chosen a better time to air his grievances instead of just ahead of voting in Punjab, said the Chief Minister in an informal interaction with reporters here before leaving for Patiala to cast his vote, along with other members of his family.

It was not his election but that of the entire Congress, said the Chief Minister. It was for the high command to decide on any action against Sidhu, but the Congress, as a party, does not tolerate indiscipline, Amarinder Singh said.

He said he personally did not have any differences with Sidhu, whom he had known since the latter was a child. Perhaps he is ambitious and wants to be the Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh said in response to a question.

Such irritants notwithstanding, the Chief Minister exuded confidence of a Congress victory in all the 13 seats, saying he was getting very positive reports from all the constituencies, with Congressmen having already started celebrating, indicating their level of confidence.

-IANS |19 May 2019 | Chandigarh

Modi says fortunate to visit Kedarnath

Modi says fortunate to visit Kedarnath; thanks EC to grant its nod to visit

Prime Minister  Narendra Modi Sunday thanked the Election Commission for granting him permission to visit the Kedarnath shrine at a time when the model code of conduct is in force.

Modi, who spent around 17 hours at a holy cave near the shrine, offered prayers and performed puja at the temple. He told reporters he did not ask for anything while praying as it is not his nature. “God has given us capacity to give and not demand,” he said.Modi performs-puja-at-kedarnath

He said may the almighty bless not only India but the whole humankind with happiness, prosperity and welfare. “I am fortunate to visit the temple on multiple occasions,” he said while thanking the media for taking out time to visit Kedarnath at a time when the poll process is underway.

The media’s presence, he said, will send a message that the town has been developed well. Referring to the ongoing development works at the temple town, Modi said development should be a mission in which nature, environment and tourism should not be affected.

He said he has been reviewing the work through video-conferencing. Modi reached the temple town Saturday. Dressed in a grey traditional pahari attire, he offered prayers for about 30 minutes and undertook a circumambulation of the Kedarnath shrine situated at a height of 11,755 feet near the Mandakini river.

The prime minister then went inside a cave near the shrine to meditate. Draped in a saffron shawl, Modi was seen meditating at the holy cave.

The prime minister also took stock of development work in the temple town. Later in the day, he is expected to be in Badrinath, another temple in Uttarakhand’s ‘char dham’ religious circuit.

This is Modi’s fourth visit to the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in the last two years. The portals of Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines reopened for devotees earlier this month after the winter break.

The Election Commission gave its nod to the visit while “reminding” the Prime Minister’s Office that the model code of conduct is still in force.

–  PTI |19 May 2019 |Kedarnath

Remarks on Nathuram Godse is against BJP ideology

Remarks on Nathuram Godse is against BJP ideology, party has taken serious note: Amit Shah

BJP president Amit Shah Friday came out strongly against the controversial remarks of his party leaders, including Pragya Singh Thakur, over Nathuram Godse, saying the BJP has taken serious note of their statements, which are against its ideology.Nathuram Godse

Shah has asked the party’s disciplinary committee to submit a report on the issue in 10 days for further action.

In a series of tweets, he said the remarks made by Hegde, Thakur and Nalin Kateel are against the BJP’s ideology, and the party has taken serious note of their statements.

Amit Shah also said these comments were their personal statements and had no link with the party. “They have withdrawn their statements and have also apologised. However, their remarks are against the decorum of public life and the BJP, and also against the party’s ideology. “Taking serious note of their remarks, the party has decided to send them to the disciplinary committee,” Shah said.

Amit Shah also said these comments were their personal statements and had no link with the party. “They have withdrawn their statements and have also apologised. However, their remarks are against the decorum of public life and the BJP, and also against the party’s ideology. “Taking serious note of their remarks, the party has decided to send them to the disciplinary committee.” Pragya Singh Thakur had on Thursday said Godse was a “patriot”, while on Friday, Hegde tweeted that he was “happy” over the debate on Godse, but later claimed that his account had been hacked. Kateel, a BJP MP from Karnataka, in a tweet compared Godse with Rajiv Gandhi.

Pragya Singh Thakur had on Thursday said Godse was a “patriot”, while on Friday, Hegde tweeted that he was “happy” over the debate on Godse, but later claimed that his account had been hacked. Kateel, a BJP MP from Karnataka, in a tweet compared Godse with Rajiv Gandhi.

– PTI | 17 May 2019 | New Delhi

Article 370 and 35-A need review : Rajnath Singh

Article 370 and 35-A need review : Rajnath Singh

Senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says there is a need to review Article 370 and 35-A that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir to establish whether these Constitutional provisions have benefited or done damage to the militancy-hit state.

Singh’s remark comes against the backdrop of the BJP’s stand in its  manifesto pledging to abrogate Article 370 and 35-A of the Constitution. BJP President Amit Shah has also repeatedly spoken about scrapping these provisions during the Lok Sabha poll campaign.

Need to review Art 370 in J&K: Rajnath

The home minister also said a decision on holding assembly elections in the state was the prerogative of the Election Commission but indicated a decision could be announced after the completion of the Lok Sabha polls.

Singh was replying to a question during an interview to PTI recently as to whether BJP thinks that abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution will help resolve the Kashmir issue which he termed as challenging. “Kashmir ek chunauti hai lekin uska hal jaldi niklega (Kashmir is a challenge but it will be resolved soon),” said Singh, who was the chairman of the BJP manifesto committee.

When pointedly asked whether abrogation of Article 370 and 35A was a solution, Singh said, “muje yeh lagta hai ki sameksha kee jani chahiye ki dhara 370 ya 35-A ke karan Kashmir ko laab hua hai ya haani (I feel that a review should be done whether Article 370 or 35-A has benefited Kashmir or damaged it).”

The statement of Singh also comes close on the heels of the statement made by another senior BJP leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari that the BJP is committed to abrogating Article 370.

Gadkari also went on to say during a TV interview that “because of the sensitive situation, it’s not appropriate to implement that (abrogation of Article 370)”. “We were in power with full majority this time, still we did no go ahead. However, as far as the party’s philosophy, policy and approach to the issue is concerned, we are firm on it,” Gadkari had said.

While Article 370 gives special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35-A empowers state’s legislature to define “permanent resident” of the state and reserve their right to employment besides other privileges.

Asked about the timing of assembly elections in the state, Singh said that no doubt the polls should be held. “The need for security forces for assembly elections is huge and there was a need for deployment in other states as well for Lok Sabha polls. Now that the parliamentary polls are nearing end, the Election Commission can decide on the dates.”

The state was placed under Governor’s rule on June 19 last year after the BJP unceremoniously withdrew support from the PDP led by Mehbooba Mufti. The assembly was dissolved on November 21 by Governor Satya Pal Malik who claimed that he took the step to prevent horse trading.

After six months of Governor’s rule, the state was brought under President’s rule on December 19, 2018 for a period of six months as elections could not be held within six months of imposition of Governor’s rule.

The current spell of the President’s rule will have to be extended again on May 19. The extension of President’s rule must also be ratified by Parliament once the new Lok Sabha is constituted.

-PTI | 17 May 2019 | New Delhi

EC bars campaigning Post-violence in West Bengal

EC bars campaigning Post-violence in West Bengal from Thursday night

In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission of India (EC) on May 15 put a blanket ban on political parties from campaigning activities in the nine parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal in view of the “growing incidents of disruption and violence”, beginning 10 p.m. on May 16.

The decision came a day after violent clashes during a roadshow taken out by BJP chief Amit Shah in Kolkata, following which the party lodged a complaint with the poll panel. Trinamool Congress had also approached the Commission seeking intervention.Scene at Vidyasagar College, Bidhan Sarani Campus, Kolkata, where Students belonging to TMC wing alleged that BJP supporters attacked and vandalized their campus while Amit Shah's roadshow passed this area, on Tuesday evening, May 14, 2019

Polls in these constituencies are scheduled to be held during the last phase on May 19 and the 48-hour silence period was to kick in on May 17 evening. The order bars campaigning activities till conclusion of the elections on May 19.

Exercising its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution, to ensure the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections, the ECI directed that no person would convene, hold, attend, join or address any public meeting or procession in connection with an election.

The order also states that no one can display to the public through movies and television or propagate any election matter by holding any event, including musical concert, theatrical performance or any other entertainment or amusement with a view to attracting people in connection with the elections.

Fear psychosis

A ban has also been placed on sale and distribution of liquor or “other substances of a like nature” in hotels, eating joints, shops or any other place, public or private, within the polling areas.

The Commission said the decision was taken based on a report from the Deputy Election Commissioner in-charge of the State.

In the report, the officer said: “During the review with the Observers, it clearly came out that…there is distinct resistance and non-cooperation from the district administration and district police when it comes to providing level playing field to all candidates from campaigning and in providing a fearless threat-free environment to the voters.”

The Observers pointed out that, while on the surface everything looks fine, but in their frank interactions with the public, the fear psychosis that is widely prevalent comes out. “They pointed out that utterances of the AITC senior leaders on the lines of ‘Central Forces will leave after the elections while we will remain’ sends a chilling message among the officers as well as voters alike,” said the order signed by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and the two Election Commissioners.

Additional Director-General of Police relieved

The ECI also received reports from Special Observers, Ajay Nayak and Vivek Dubey, who gave accounts of other incidents of violence during political campaigning on May 14, for which cases were registered.

During investigations, about 100 persons were detained. Of these, 58 persons were arrested in two cases. “During the last 24 hours, representatives of various political parties have met the Commission and expressed their concerns on the prevailing conditions of law & order…these campaign related violent incidents are creating an atmosphere of fear and hatred in the polling areas which is affecting the overall electoral environment,” said the order.

In a separate order, the Commission relieved the State Additional Director-General of Police (CID) Rajeev Kumar from his post with immediate effect and directed him to report to the Union Home Ministry at 10 a.m. on May 16.

The EC also removed State Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya form his post for interfering in the process of conducting elections. The Chief Secretary was given additional charge and compliance report sought by 10 p.m. on May 15.

Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan said the poll panel expressed deep anguish over the desecration of the bust of 19 century educationalist and reformer Ishwar Chandra Bandopadhyay and hoped that the local authorities would identify and take action against the culprits at the earliest.

NEW DELHI , MAY 15, 2019 

WPI inflation slips to 3.07% in April

WPI inflation slips to 3.07% in April

Wholesale price-based inflation slipped to 3.07% in April on cheaper fuel and manufactured items, even as prices of food articles remained high, according to an official data released on May 14. The Wholesale Price Index- (WPI-) based inflation was at 3.18% in March. It was 3.62% in April 2018. Inflation in food articles hardened with steep rise in prices of vegetables during April. Vegetables inflation was at 40.65% in April, up from 28.13% in the previous month.Related image

Inflation in food articles basket was 7.37%, up from 5.68% in the previous month. Inflation in ‘fuel and power’ category cooled to 3.84%, from 5.41% in March. Manufactured items too saw easing of prices with inflation at 1.72% in April, against 2.16% in March.

The Wholesale Price Index-based inflation was at 3.18% in March. It was 3.62% in April 2018.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which mainly factors in retail inflation for monetary policy decision, had last month cut interest rate by 0.25 percentage points.

Retail inflation inched up to a six-month high of 2.92% in April due to a spike in food prices, including vegetables, meat, fish and eggs, data released on Monday showed.

For April-September period, the RBI has projected retail inflation at 2.9-3%, mainly due to lower food and fuel prices as well as expectation of a normal monsoon.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which mainly factors in retail inflation for monetary policy decision, had last month cut interest rate by 0.25 percentage points. Retail inflation inched up to a six-month high of 2.92% in April due to a spike in food prices, including vegetables, meat, fish and eggs, data released on Monday showed. For April-September period, the RBI has projected retail inflation at 2.9-3%, mainly due to lower food and fuel prices as well as expectation of a normal monsoon.

The Monetary Policy Committee headed by the RBI Governor would be meeting early June for second monetary policy review for the fiscal.

NEW DELHI, MAY 14, 2019

Kashmir Valley erupts against alleged rape of 3-yr old

Kashmir Valley erupts against alleged rape of 3-year old

Protests erupted on Monday in parts of the Kashmir Valley against the rape of a three-year-old, allegedly by a local youth in north Kashmir, forcing the authorities to close all educational institutes. Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan appealed to people to maintain peace, brotherhood and law and order. “Justice will be done and the culprit will be given severe punishment as per law. It will be investigated on a fast track,” he said.Image used for representational purpose.

On Thursday, the youth allegedly lured the child with a candy and raped her in Sumbal area’s Trehgam locality. A medical report is yet to be produced. The child’s family said she was sexually assaulted by the youth who lives in their neighbourhood.

On Thursday, a local youth allegedly lured the child with a candy and raped her in Sumbal area’s Trehgam locality.

Violent protests broke out for the second consecutive day in parts of Baramulla, Srinagar and Bandipora districts. Protesters closed the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. The authorities decided to close schools and colleges as a precautionary measure. A spontaneous shutdown was observed across the Valley over the incident. A police official said the youth had been arrested, and a special investigation team constituted to investigate the case. The head of a local school who issued a birth certificate to the accused, declaring him a minor, has been arrested. A medical team is likely to determine the accused’s age through scientific measures.

All political parties, religious and social groups have condemned the incident. “Mortified to hear about the rape of a three-year-old in Sumbal. What kind of a sick pervert would do this? Society often blames women for inviting unwanted attention but what was this child’s fault? Times like these, Shariah law seems apt so that such paedophiles are stoned to death,” Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir said in a tweet.

People’s Conference general secretary Imran Reza Ansari described the incident as a crime against humanity and demanded severe punishment to the accused. “The need of the hour is to set up a fast track court for punishing the accused. Action should be taken against the school for issuing a fake date of birth certificate to show that the accused is a minor,” said Mr. Ansari.

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq appealed for unity and vigil against some elements who want to divide people on sectarian basis. “A fervent appeal to all the people of Kashmir to maintain unity and vigil, especially in view of mischievous forces waiting to create a sectarian divide out of this most reprehensible crime against a child which is indeed a crime against all humanity. All of Kashmir stands in unison,” said Mr. Farooq.

SRINAGAR, MAY 13, 2019