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From sops for senior citizens to affordable housing schemes: Top announcements by PM Modi on New Year’s Eve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the nation on New Year’s Eve on the impact of demonetisztion and the roadmap ahead for the economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India has gone through a massive cleansing process and purification drive (Shuddhi Yatra). In a 43-minute-long address to the nation, he said the citizens of the country were desperate to break free of corruption, but had never been given a chance to do so earlier, and had in fact gotten used to the idea of offering extra money to get their jobs done.Prime Minister Modi said India has set a new example for the world through this 50-day-long demonetisation exercise, adding that their commitment and discipline to tackle the cash crunch would be a living example for generations to come. ‘This is the first instance in India’s history when the government and the people have fought shoulder to shoulder. I got thousands of letters from the people who shared their pain, but they reaffirmed their resolve to stick with the process to root out corruption and black money,’ he said.He further stated that “125 crore Indians have proved that they are willing to wait in line at banks, but do not wish to be even one step behind in the drive against corruption.” He said that what would me most surprising to a majority of the citizens would be that, “Just 24 lakh Indians had admitted to having an income of more than Rs.10 lakhs,’, which was indicative of the very high level of tax eva sion being perpetrated by those not abiding by the law. Expressing confidence that the New Year would see lesser queues outside banks and things returning to normal, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘Banks have never before seen this sort of influx of cash’, and he would like to see personnel of these institutions focusing on helping the middle class and the poor.Here are the top highlights of speech: 8% interest rate will be guaranteed on deposits of up to Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years for senior citizens; interest will be paid monthlyRs 6,000 to be put into accounts of pregnant women in 650 districts for vaccination and other medical useTwo new schemes under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to provide 4% interest waiver on loan of up to Rs 9 lakh and of 3% on loan up to Rs 12 lakh.Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit to small business to 25% from 20%Government to stand guarantee for loans up to Rs 2 crore from current Rs 1 crore, to small businesses3% interest waiver on loan up to Rs 2 lakh for construction of houses in rural India.Government to pay interest for 60 days on loans taken by farmers for rabi season from district cooperative banks and primary societies

Jagannath temple reform panel gets final submissions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, Dibyasingha Deb, has submitted an affidavit before Justice BP Das Commission of Inquiry suggesting reforms in rituals and management of Shree Jagannath Temple. The Commission Secretary collected the copy of the affidavit from Deb’s residence in Bhubaneswar today, which was the last date for submission of affidavits. The Puri district administration through its Collector and Shree Jagannath Temple Administration through its Chief Administrative Officer too submitted their respective affidavits before the Commission during the day. The Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth at Puri had earlier conveyed his suggestions to the Commission on the reforms for Shree Jagannath Temple. A whopping 10,344 affidavits collected from across the state were submitted to the Commission on Monday. Hundreds of holy men and devotees under the aegis of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) marched in a massive rally and submitted these affidavits at the Commission’s office here. The holy men also submitted a seven-point proposal for reforms in the temple. The Commission had extended its deadline for submission of affidavits twice, the last one being on December 3. The Commission had then claimed that it was extending the deadline since it had only received 350 affidavits.The judicial Commission had been instituted by the state government to suggest measures for better security of the temple, safety of the visiting devotees, timely conduct of temple rituals, and welfare of deities and servitors.It was set up in July this year after the Niladree Bije fiasco which took place at the concluding ritual of the nine-day Rathayatra festival this year when the servitors allowed devotees to climb the chariots defying a ban by Orissa High Court. The state government had announced the formation of the one-man judicial commission in September after the Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal was manhandled by servitors during the incident when the matter reached a tipping point.Television cameras had zoomed in to show a young girl climbing down the chariot of Lord Balabhadra, in the last leg of the Rath Yatra 2016 at Puri. Moments later a few servitors got into an ugly scuffle with the district collector of Puri and other media personnel. The Jagannath Temple has since become a battle ground for control between the servitors, the political class and the temple administration.Rath Yatra, the annual chariot festival is the most prominent religious temple festival of India, and holds a special place in the hearts of the Odia people. At this year’s Rath Yatra, major deviations in rituals resulted in a ruckus in full glare of TV cameras, angering millions of devotees. After a prolonged debate last year and intervention by Odisha High Court, the climbing of devotees atop chariots was banned. A similar diktat was issued by the Shankaracharya and an understanding between Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and servitors to ensure the ban was reached. However, a few relatives of the servitors defied the ban. When Arvind Agarwal, district collector of Puri intervened, servitors manhandled members of district administration and media personnel. The ritual of Niladri Bije, that of the deities returning to their temple after a nine-day-long sojourn at their aunt’s place, was delayed causing anguish to many devotees. Following legal action, some servitors were suspended; others arrested. The state government, whose law minister, Arun Sahoo was present on the occasion, constituted a one-man judicial commission, headed by retired judge of Odisha High Court, Bimal Prasad Das, to suggest reforms in management of Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri. On July 25 it was alleged that the state government paid Rs 2 crore to servitors as compensation for the loss that prevention of taking devotees atop chariots brought about to honour the Odisha High Court verdict. There are nearly 6,000 servitors in 119 categories that help run the Jagannath Temple.

Pot calling the kettle black: Mayawati says Modi running away from responsibility by blaming oppn

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi charged opposition parties with trying to “suppress” truth by blocking debate in Parliament on the note ban issue, BSP supremo Mayawati said it was a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. “By blaming opposition parties, the prime minister is running away from government’s responsibility and answerability…But his remarks are totally wrong. ‘yeh ulta chor kotwal to dantey jaisa hai’ (it is like pot calling kettle black),” she said in a statement.Mayawati said Modi was harping on the same tune and his speech at BJP’s Parivartan Yatra in Bahraich, addressed through mobile phone from Lucknow, was no different. The BSP chief was referring to Modi’s remark that since he was not allowed to speak in Parliament by opposition parties, he was compelled to speak outside on demonetization. “It is absolutely wrong on the part of the prime minister to say like this,” she said. “This is a wrong statement and does not behove the leader of the party in majority in Parliament to speak like this and mislead people,” she said.Mayawati said when the prime minister of a country accuses the opposition of not allowing him to speak in Parliament, it is a charge against him and not against the opposition. As Parliament remained deadlocked over demonetization, Modi came down heavily on opposition on Sunday, describing them as “discarded” parties trying to “suppress” truth. “Parliament is not being allowed to function for 20 days. We are ready for debate (on demonetization), but we are not being allowed to present our view point by those very parties that have been discarded by the electorate,” he said.”They (opposition) come to the Well of the House…throw paper at the Speaker, we want to put forth government’s view point…by they are not allowing us to do so…in a way they are trying to suppress the truth,” Modi said, and also accused rival parties SP and BSP of talking in similar refrain against note ban.

Discarded Oppn stalling parliament, vote for BJP to end ‘goonda raj’: PM Modi via phone at Parivartan Rally

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing concern over virtual washout of the Winter Session of Parliament amidst continued opposition protest on demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said parties “discarded” by the people have stalled proceedings in both the Houses. “Parliament has not been allowed to function for 20 days. We are ready for a debate (on demonetization) but we are not being allowed to present our view point by those very parties that have been discarded by the electorate,” he said. Modi was addressing BJP’s Parivartan Yatra through mobile phone from Lucknow after the IAF chopper carrying him failed to land in Bahraich due to poor visibility.”They (opposition) come to the Well of the House…throw paper at the Speaker. We want to put forth the government’s view point…but they are not allowing us to do so,” he said.On demonetization, he said, “You must have seen that the government is after people who have stashed black money. The government is committed to empowering the poor. The people are also taking pain to ensure the country moves on the path of development.”Attacking Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, Modi said both the parties are talking in the “same tone”. He said both the parties are facing “hardship” due to note ban.Modi said only BJP could fulfil aspirations of the people of Uttar Pradesh and appealed to the electorate in Awadh region to vote for the party in the coming Assembly polls in the state.”For Uttar Pradesh to progress, poverty and goonda raj need to be removed,” he said. “Police are also helping those who are indulging in hooliganism. We have to crush those patronising ‘goondagardi’ (hooliganism). BJP will fulfill aspirations of the people of the state,” he said.Asking people to learn to use mobile banking, Modi said, “I am addressing you through mobile. You can turn your mobile into your bank. You have to learn it slowly.” Modi was national general secretary of BJP when he visited Bahraich in 2001 for the first time, and later in November 2013 for the second time.This was BJP’s 5th Parivartan Yatra to be addressed by the Prime Minister in the state. Modi has earlier addressed four parivartan rallies at Ghazipur, Agra, Kushinagar and Moradabad. His next rally is scheduled to be held in Kanpur on December 19. State BJP President Keshav Prasad Maurya said, “The Prime Minister Narendra will try to come again to Bahraich when his schedule and weather allow.”

Use free WiFi to download books, not movies: Nitish Kumar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Friday his government has decided to provide free WiFi facility in all colleges and universities by February and asked youths to use the facility for downloading books and knowledge materials and not for watching films. Free WiFi is part of programmes under “seven resolves” which the state’s Grand Alliance government has adopted to promote good governance, Kumar said while addressing a meeting here.Kumar said the facility has been conceived as it was realised that for doing good in life, youths should be “digitally” smart.However, it seemed that the facility was used more for downloading films than for literary works in Patna and officials in the secretariat were also not lagging behind. Giving an example of how free WiFi was being misused, he said, “It came to our knowledge that one gentleman has downloaded 300 movies in the 22 km of main city street where the facility is available.” “Downloading 1-2 movies is OK but the free WiFi facility in colleges and universities is conceived to help students download books and knowledge materials,” he said in the meeting, a part of his ‘Nishchay Yatra’.The Bihar CM is criss-crossing the state as part of ‘Nishchay yatra’ in a phased manner to take feedback on prohibition and preparations for implementation of ‘seven resolves’. Purnea stop is part of third phase of the yatra that began from Araria on Wednesday. Kumar said implementing total prohibition in the state since April this year has ushered in a “social revolution” particularly in rural areas. He also talked of the human chain that would be formed across the state on January 21 and sought more people’s participation in it.

If protests are bad, PM should reveal his idea of democracy: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader and former foreign minister Salman Khurshid has said that if Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks that protests organised to highlight the inconvenience caused to the people by demonetization is a bad thing, then he should explain his idea of democracy.”He (Prime Minister Modi) thinks protest is a bad thing and democracy should not have a protest, then he should better explain what his idea of democracy is. If he does a good job, then he will get support, and, if he does bad job, then he will be criticised. Whoever is right will ultimately prevail,” he said.”I don’t think Prime Minister needs to worry about the issue of corruption, as he will get 100 percent support, but the issue of corruption must be handled with honesty. Now, if you handle in a corrupt manner, obviously you will be opposed, handle it in an honest manner and the country and every party will support you and stand by you,” he added.On Sunday, in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Modi took a swipe at the opposition over their plans to organise a country-wide protest against demonetization.”We talk about ending black money and corruption, they (opposition) talk about shutting down the country,” he said.He was addressing the BJP’s Parivartan Yatra rally.Saying that his government is dedicated to the poor, Modi thanked the public for their support in granting him 50 days to normalise the cash crunch situation.On November 14, he was in Ghazipur district to inaugurate various government projects. Prime Minister Modi used the occasion to speak on demonetisation and asked the public to give him 50 days to improve the cash crunch situation.

UP Polls: BJP to launch third Parivartan Rath Yatra from Sonbhadra today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP will launch its third Parivartan Rath Yatra from Sonbhadra on Monday, which will be flagged off party president Amit Shah in the presence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh. MoS Dr Mahendra Pandey, MoS Anupriya Patel and state party chief Keshav Prasad Maurya among others. Ramlila Maidan in Sonbhadra has been decked up for the occasion, where Amit Shah will flag off Rath Yatra. While from nearby Railway Maidan in Sonbhadra, the leaders will address the gathering. Among other places, this Rath Yatra will also visit the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi in coming days.One more Parivartan Rath Yatra is scheduled to be flagged off tomorrow from Ballia by Amit Shah, whereas two Rath Yatras flagged off from Saharanpur and Jhansi earlier, are already visiting the constituencies mobilising the support in favour of BJP.All these four Rath Yatras will visit all the 403 assembly constituencies of the state where hundreds of public meetings and thirty-six mega public meetings will be organised by the party. Out of it, six mega rallies will be addressed by the Prime Minister including one in Lucknow on December 24th, when these Rath Yatras will culminate.

Akhilesh govt has no achievement to share in its ‘rath yatra’: BSP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Thursday downplayed the ‘Vikas rath yatra’ being carried out by the Samajwadi Party, saying such processions are taken out to tell the masses the achievements of the party whereas the Akhilesh Yadav led-Uttar Pradesh government has done nothing in the last five years.BSP leader Sudheendra Bhadauria said that Uttar Pradesh under the governance Akhilesh Yadav has suffered a lot. Speaking to ANI, Bhadauria said the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has nothing to tell the people of the state, while adding that the yatra is an effort to camouflage the real face of the party. “When apolitical person takes out a yatra, it is in order to tell people the achievements of the past few years. The law and order in state is brittle. There have been spates of communal violence and riots and carnages in UP, the most heinous one in Muzaffarnagar riots, and all this has happened under the raj of Akhilesh Yadav,” said Bhadauria.”The liquor mafia, the land mafia, mine mafia all have strengthened under the rule of the ruling SP government. He has nothing to tell to the people of UP. The people of UP know what he has done in his tenure. All this rath yatra is an effort to make over their image,” he added.
ALSO READ Akhilesh Yadav’s ‘Vikas Rath Yatra’ starts today; suspense over presence of Mulayam, ShivpalLaunching his bid for a second term as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav will on Thursday started a state-wide rath yatra named ‘Vikas Rath Yatra’. The ‘Vikas Rath Yatra’, which will be flagged off from the state capital, is organised to convey a message of unity in the ruling party and to discuss the agenda of development and other social welfare schemes ahead of the state assembly elections.Akhilesh is all set to travel 75 km in Lucknow and neighbouring Unnao atop a modified Mercedes bus, which can also be called a Mercedes “rath” from Lucknow.All schools in the state capital and Unnao have been shut owing to the “VVIP movement”, which is all set to bring the state capital and the Lucknow-Kanpur highway to a grinding halt.According to report, a cavalcade of over thousands SUVs and trucks will seek to send a message to the party leadership that Akhilesh is the “most acceptable” face of Samajwadi Party.

Akhilesh Yadav’s ‘Vikas Rath Yatra’ starts today; suspense over presence of Mulayam, Shivpal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Utter confusion prevailed in ruling Samajwadi Party camp over presence of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal when Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav embarks on his highly-publicised ‘Rath Yatra’ on Thursday.Seen as a showdown or show of strength just two days ahead of another gala event to mark SP’s silver jubilee, all eyes are on party patriarch Mulayam and Shivpal, the state unit chief, as their presence or absence would reflect as to how far SP was united before UP Assembly polls early next year.When Shivpal was specifically asked whether he would be present at the rath yatra flagging off event, he ducked the question adding to the suspense.”I am engaged in preparations for silver jubilee celebrations. If there is yatra on November 3, there is silver jubilee show on November 5,” he said, leaving everyone guessing about his participation.There was no categorical word either on reports that Mulayam will flag off the ‘Vikas Sey Vijay Tak Yatra’.To a question, Shivpal said, “Party workers should read history of socialism. There is importance of discipline in the party. You have seen that on October 24 those who were not invited, also came to the party meet.”In the light of the statement, Mulayam’s presence at the ‘rath yatra’ will be keenly observed.”It depends on to what extent Akhilesh is able to convince his father Mulayam to attend the yatra,” an SP leader said.Expelled SP MLC Sunil Yadav Sajan, who is close to Akhilesh, told PTI that all arrangements have been made.”The yatra will be flagged off by ‘Netaji’ (Mulayam) and senior party leaders including party state president Shivpal Yadav will also remain present,” he said.Sajan, who is also incharge of first leg of the yatra, said at every second kilometre, the CM will be welcomed and he will also address gatherings at various locations. During the yatra, dozens of roadside meetings and a few rallies would be held at different places.A cavalcade of over 5,000 SUVs and trucks will seek to send a message to the party leadership that 43-year-old Akhilesh is the “most acceptable” face of SP.The over 60-km yatra route from Lucknow to Unnao is dotted with hoardings, banners and colourful arches to welcome the chief minister.A hoarding put up by a youth leader close to Shivpal says “Shivpal kahey dil se, Akhilesh ka abhishek phir se” (Shivpal says from his heart to make Akhilesh CM again), while some others only highlight Akhilesh’s achievements.”The hoardings put up by the leaders show the state of confusion in the party. It’s visible on roads. We wish this confusion to end with the start of this yatra,” a senior SP leader said.The yatra comes at a time when Mulayam is seeking to cobble together a ‘mahagathbandhan’ and has sent out invitations to all “secular and like-minded” leaders of various parties like RLD, RJD and JD-U.

Explain rationale behind imposition of President’s rule: Harish Rawat to BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Tuesday said BJP owes an explanation to the people of Uttarakhand for causing defections in the ruling Congress and imposing President’s Rule in the state before it goes to them seeking votes.Taking a dig at BJP for its proposed ‘Parivartan Yatra’ in the state from November 12, he said “Before it embarks on any yatra, BJP should offer an explanation to people why it brought the state under president’s rule and why it withheld the state’s annual budget passed by the state assembly.” Advising the party to “atone for its sins” before embarking on any yatra, the CM said BJP should also explain to people why it caused defections in the ruling Congress in a premeditated manner.”It (defections) was a pre-planned move by the BJP to destabilise a democratically elected government and the party will have to explain to people if it goes to them seeking their votes,” Rawat told reporters here.President’s Rule was imposed in Uttarakhand in March this year after momentous political developments saw nine party MLAs rebel against Rawat and join hands with the BJP. Their membership of the state assembly was later revoked by the Speaker under the anti-defection law.However, President’s rule was withdrawn in May and Harish Rawat put back in the saddle after he won a court monitored floor test in the state assembly. Gearing up for next year’s assembly elections, BJP will launch a ‘Parivartan Yatra’ in Uttarakhand on November 12 with party chief Amit Shah scheduled to address three rallies across the state in the course of the yatra one each in Dehradun, Almora and Haldwani.

UP polls 2017: Akhilesh Yadav’s ‘Vikas’ rath yatra to start from November 3

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday finalised its Vikas rath yatra, which will leave from Lucknow to Kanpur on November 3.”Lakhs of youths will participate in the yatra, which will prove to be the turning point of politics. At every halt, Akhilesh will be welcomed by youths, farmers, minority and he will also address the gathering,” Cabinet minsiter Rajendra Chowdhury said.”The yatra will be a sort of catalyst for a change in politics. Akhilesh will try to break communalism and casteism through the yatra in which he will be highlighting development works done by his government,” he added.Stating that the yatra will establish new identity of Akhilesh “leadership” and will also ensure success for 2017 assembly polls, Chowdhury said it would reach every corner of the state. A lot of arrangements have been made by Team Akhilesh for the success of the yatra, in which besides video titled ‘Kaam Bolta Hai’ (Work speaks), showing the CM working tirelessly will also be shown.Arrangements are being made to ensure huge success of the yatra, amidst family tussle to establish Akhilesh as “indisputed” political heir of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.

As SP squirms, Rahul Gandhi launches Dalit outreach in UP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Congress is seriously watching the developments in the Samajwadi Party (SP), vice-president Rahul Gandhi is set on another ‘yatra’ focused on Dalits to drum up support in the hinterland ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections next year. Encouraged by this ‘Kisan Yatra’ where he covered 3,500km and 48 districts in 26 days, Gandhi’s second round of tour to focus entirely on Dalits is scheduled to start from November 11 to last till January next year.At a recent meeting of party strategists, it was conveyed that farmer focus was not enticing the urban population as well as landless downtrodden. There was also a concern that Congress cadres are not able to keep up the tempo, generated by road shows and street. To keep up energy levels, it was decided to carry out “Rahul Sandesh Yatra”. The second phase of this yatra will start from November 2 to 10 to cover all districts across the state. During Gandhi’s Dalit outreach, suggestions have come to arrange block-level meetings, intensive mass-contact programmes to come up with local manifestos.Contours of the Congress strategy after Diwali festival were discussed by the senior party leaders in a meeting chaired for the first time by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (44) and a decision was taken to focus on the urban voters and Dalits not touched by Rahul during his Kisaan Yatra. Party leaders say, Dalits together with Brahmins and Muslims used to be party’s traditional combination to win elections. In a bid to woo back the Dalits lost by the Congress to Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, the party has identified 8,500 villages that have at last 1,000 Dalits or have more than 50% Dalit population. The plan is to send 200 teams of three members each fan out to these villages and organise a day-long “Dalit Sabha” to mobilise the people. The plan also included door-to-door campaign with the slogan “Shiksha, Suraksha, Swabhiman, Congress ke saat, Daliton ka Utthan.” A similar Dalit overreach programme is planned in Punjab as well as a counter to the Jat community aligned with the Akali Dal of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.Insiders said that leaders at the meeting chaired by Priyanka said that their ground reports suggest that people were asking them to forge a Bihar-type alliance to give confidence to its voters that it was in a winning combination.The meeting was attended by senior leaders from Uttar Pradesh, in addition to general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and state chief Raj Babbar, chief minister candidate Sheila Dikshit and party secretaries. “The secretaries and a few senior vice-presidents conveyed to Priyanka that people felt the Congress should forge an alliance as standing up alone all of a sudden would be difficult,” they said. Meanwhile, the Congress has refuses to comment on the SP feud, even as many leaders have been arguing to approach the chief minister Akhilesh for an alliance to take advantage of his good image.

UP polls: Amit Shah to address Dalits, OBCs at Buddhist event in Kanpur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP chief Amit Shah will attend a Buddhist event on Friday which will witness large presence of Dalits who have converted to Buddhism, seen as yet another attempt by the party to reach out to the community in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Shah will attend the closing ceremony of the six-month long Dhamma Chetna Yatra at Palika Stadium and felicitate 110 monks at the event. Kanpur BJP president Surendra Maithani said the Yatra, which was held in Uttar Pradesh, will reach Kanpur tomorrow. 30,000 people are expected to participate in the event. “The programme aims at reaching out to the Dalit community and understanding the problems faced by them,” he added. Maithani said the Yatra is not related to the upcoming elections in the state. “Shah is expected to arrive at Palika Stadium around 11 AM where he will address the crowd,” he said. A big stage has been set up in the stadium for the event which will also be attended by state BJP leaders, he said.

Rahul, Sonia Gandhi may visit Gujarat for tribal yatra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi are likely to visit Gujarat but address separately the party’s tribal-focused ‘Navsarjan Adivasi Adhikar Yatra’ to be held later this month. The 12-day yatra, likely to begin on October 20 or 21, will start from Ambaji in Banaskantha district of north Gujarat and conclude at Umbergaon, Valsad in southern part, covering state’s tribal-dominated eastern belt, state Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said. “We have requested Rahul Gandhi to address a gathering at the beginning of the yatra at Ambaji on October 20 or 21. Party president Sonia Gandhi is also likely to address a gathering at the end of the about 12-day yatra. These are subject to confirmation,” he said. The yatra is an attempt of the opposition to woo tribals through direct meetings along the course of the 1200-km journey covering around 100 kilometres on each day. “Through the yatra, party leaders and workers will cover 38 Vidhan Sabha seats across 13 tribal-dominated districts where meetings will be held at regular intervals with locals and their problems, grievances will be taken a note of,” Doshi said. Assembly elections are due in the state in later part of 2017.

Surgical Strikes | Modi playing politics with blood of soldiers, Rahul Gandhi’s hits out at Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday created a stir by accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “playing politics over the blood of Indian soldiers”. Rahul’s scathing attack has come as a big surprise for his party as well, as earlier this week he had praised Modi saying that the cross-LoC (Line of Control) action was the first PM-like decision taken by Modi in two-and-a-half years.The BJP reacted immediately, calling the statement highly irresponsible and a new low in Indian politics. “It also proves that Sanjay Nirupam had backing of Rahul Gandhi and therefore no action has been taken against him,” said BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh. He said Congress has got unnerved because of the courage shown by Modi govt in backing the armed forces. He said while the surgical strikes were launched across LoC, Rahul Gandhi has struck on his own party.Singh reminded Rahul of his mother and Congress president’s description of Modi as ‘Maut Ka Saudagar’ and ‘Zaher Ki Kheti’ on eve of the 2007 assembly elections in Gujarat, which backfired.Rahul delivered the salvo at Modi at Jantar Mantar in the evening at the end of a Kisan Yatra across poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The yatra started from Deoria on September 6, travelling 3,468km in 48 districts, covering 141 Assembly constituencies with typical 26 ‘Khat Sabhas’ (cot meetings) and as many road shows. He addressed the rally after paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.”Jo hamare jawan hain jinhone apna khoon diya hai, Jammu and Kashmir mein khoon diya hai, jinhone Hindustan ke liye surgical strike kiye hain, unke khoon ke peechhe aap chhupe hain. Unki aap dalali kar rahe ho. Yeh bilkul galat hai.” (You (Modi) are hiding behind the blood of soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir and those who carried out the surgical strikes for India. You are hiding behind their blood. You are playing politics on their sacrifices. It is absolutely wrong.)He even accused the Prime Minister of dividing the nation and trying to encash the sacrifices of the jawans for political gains. “Jawano ne apna kaam kiya hai, aap apna kaam keejiye. Aap sarkar chalane ke liye chune gaye hain (Jawans did their job, you do yours. You have been elected to govern),” he said amid loud cheers from the crowd with majority of them being the farmers from UP, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.Rahul also attacked Modi for failing to deliver on his poll promises. “Modi ji promised bank accounts to everyone, but there is no money in those accounts. All his promises were fake. Yeh desh Modi ji se insaaf chahta hai, aur ye unki zimmedari hai,” (nation demands justice from Modi and it is his responsibility) he said with a taunt that the PM has delivered only two things- dividing the people and making one Indian fight against another.

How to single out terrorists from people, a major cause of worry for security forces

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security agencies and forces are facing a tough time in the valley to track down terrorists and militants who crossed over the line of control (LoC) during the last six months and mingled among the protestors during the period of unrest.According to sources in the agencies, the counter insurgency operations that came almost to a halt during the two months of unrest impacted the security grid severely allowing terrorists to find safe havens among the protestors across the valley.Collated analysis of different agencies put the number of terrorists and militants at around 200 to 220 who managed to cross over from Pak-Occupied Kashmir during the last six months. Most of these terrorists sneaked in during the period of unrest and Amarnath Yatra when troops had to be deployed on vantage points to maintain the law and order. The presence of terrorists was not more than 120-150 before the current influx, said sources.Moreover, the frequent clamp down on telecom services by the government to stop protestors from making use of social media and SMSes to spread their agitation also added to a massive drop in intelligence gathering through eavesdropping.A senior officer said due to this practice, inputs have dropped significantly. The security and anti-militancy grid relies on inputs by people but that is hampering due to telecommunication blockade. In the past many top militants have been tracked and eliminated by monitoring their mobile network. Indian agencies can today listen in on VHF conversations, mobile phones and satellite phones.With accurate interception and monitoring of these devices, intelligence agencies, the Army and the BSF have been very effective in neutralising several militants, especially when they infiltrate into India.A senior official deployed in Jammu and Kashmir conceded that the massive scale of the unrest has made their human assets either to break free or go underground that has slowed down crucial information that they used to gather though human intelligence.”The unrest has given a big blow to our well established intelligence network and will take several months of effort to get back the normal flow of intelligence. Until then it will give an edge to the terrorists and militants over security forces for which they need to be extra vigilant,” said the official.

Natural to express grief over mistreatment of Dalits: LK Advani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Veteran BJP leader LK Advani on Monday said the Dalits have been suffering atrocities for a long time and it is natural to lament the mistreatment meted out to them. “Atrocities on Dalits is not today’s phenomenon. It is natural to express grief over the way the Dalits have been mistreated across the country,” he said, when asked about recent flogging of the Dalits at Una.Advani, who is a Member of Parliament from Gandhinagar, was in Ahmedabad for the ongoing Tiranga Yatra and visited Sabarmati Ashram and a school during his visit. He praised the development works done by the BJP Government in the state.”I am really happy to see the development of the art gallery and garden in Jodhpur municipality ward,” Advani told a gathering during the Tiranga Yatra. “It is a matter of great happiness to see unprecedented development works done in Karnavati (Ahmedabad) and in my constituency, first under the leadership of Narendra Modi and then by Anandiben Patel (who succeeded Modi as the CM),” Advani said. He also addressed the students of a municipal school where he talked about the origin of the tricolour.

Should take over PoK if Pak doesn’t stop interfering: Union Minister Athawale

Sun, 21 Aug 2016-08:55pm , Indore , PTI

Speaking to reporters, during Tiranga Yatra, Athawale said that India should take control of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) if the neighbouring country did not stop its mischief <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale on Sunday said India should take control of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) if the neighbouring country did not stop its mischief.”We do not need a war with Pakistan. But if Pakistan interferes in our internal matters, I think we should take control of PoK,” Athawale said, speaking to reporters during the ‘Tiranga Yatra’ here. “Forces like Pakistan are conspiring against India by spreading terrorism. Pakistan should stop anti-India activities as the Indian army is far stronger than Pakistani army,” the RPI (A) chief said.”We appeal to Pakistan to give up its control of PoK. The part of Kashmir which is occupied by Pakistan is India’s integral part,” the minister stressed.China too should not encroach upon Indian territory, Athawale added.

Nationalism being questioned in the name of freedom of expression: Amit Shah

Mangaluru: BJP President Amit Shah on Sunday said nationalism was being questioned in the name of freedom of expression and “propaganda” against nationalism could not be considered as freedom of speech.

BJP president Amit Shah. PTI

BJP president Amit Shah. PTI

“It has become a fashion for some people nowadays to question nationalism. This is being done in different places and new theories are being planted.

“Nationalism is being questioned in the name of freedom of expression,” he said, addressing a gathering at Mangalore University auditorium as part of BJP’s ‘Tiranga Yatra’ and ‘Balidana Smarane’ (honouring martyrs) campaign in Mangaluru.

Shah said, “Some people were also campaigning on social media on whether nationalism was necessary or not” and that he would like to tell them that independence would not have taken place if there was no love for the national and patriotism.

“The propaganda against nationalism could not be considered as freedom of speech,” he said.

“The entire nation should unite to uphold patriotism. Freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and many more sacrificed their lives for the country,” he said.

Shah appealed to the youth to read the history of the country and understand how many people sacrificed their lives for it.

The programmes were being organised to pay tribute to the freedom fighters, to inspire the youth to follow in their path and to remind the youth that the independence the country achieved was because of the sacrifice of lakhs of people, he said.

“This should be an inspiration to the youth to live their life for the country. To live for the nation was the message of this Yatra,” he said.

Shah also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his foreign policy has emphasised on trade along with culture. The economy of the nation was moving in the right direction, he added.

Gujarat: Jignesh Mevani, face of Dalit protest against Una flogging, resigns from AAP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Activist Jignesh Mevani, a face of ‘Dalit Asmita Yatra’ in Gujarat, resigned from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday.According to Times of India, his resignation comes after a series of allegations were levelled by the BJP, Dalit rights activists and NGOs that the protest over Una incident was driven by AAP.”I have resigned from AAP as people of the BJP, some Dalit rights activists and NGOs had started a negative campaign against the Dalit agitation just because of my AAP membership,” Mevani said.Mevani also stated that he knows the BJP will suffer because of these yatras and that it should suffer. “It was under BJP that Dalits suffered most. It is under their rule that atrocities against socially-backward communities have increased sharply. Cow vigilante groups are a gift of Modi,” he said at a press conference. “I want to preserve the sanctity of the movement we’ve just started. We don’t want the movement to suffer because of my association with any party,” he added.Demanding justice for their community following the Una flogging incident, hundreds of Dalits and members of various civil rights organisations participated the ‘Dalit Asmita Yatra’, a foot march that was undertaken from Ahmedabad to Una town of Gir Somnath district.On July 11, four Dalit youths were beaten up by cow vigilantes at Mota Samadhiyala village in Una taluka when they were allegedly skinning a dead cow. Though the youths pleaded that they were from the skinner community, the gau-rakshaks’ thrashed them alleging that they were involved in cow slaughter.The idea of the foot march from Ahmedabad to Una was floated by former IPS officer Rahul Sharma at a mass gathering of Dalits held in the city on July 31.

Amarnath Yatra: Rajnath Singh to visit Jammu and Kashmir to review security arrangements

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visit Jammu and Kashmir to take stock of the security arrangements for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra on Friday.As per reports, the Home Minister had yesterday chaired a high-level meeting during which he discussed the security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had earlier this month conducted mock exercises at Baltal and Pahalgam base camps to assess the preparedness and response mechanism of all those involved in management of the Yatra.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first mock exercise, which was conducted along the route from Baltal in Ganderbal district between June 23 to 25, dealt with simulated scenarios involving a cloudburst and a fire. The second mock exercise was conducted along the camp sites on the Chandanwari route from June 26-28 and covered both natural as well as man-made disasters.After the drills, post-exercise analysis was carried out by the NDMA experts in which they discussed the entire operation and underlined the areas that needed improvement. The annual Amarnath Yatra to the cave shrine in south Kashmir will begin from July 2.

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy CM flags-off first batch of Amarnath Yatris

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh flagged-off first batch of 1282 Amarnath Yatris, who left for the holy cave shrine from Jammu amid tight security on Friday morning. The batch of pilgrims, comprising of 900 men, 225 women and 13 children, left from Bhagwati Nagar at 5 a.m.The authorities have made elaborate arrangements for boarding and lodging of yatris in Jammu and other parts of the State.Jammu and other parts of the State. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will today visit Jammu and Kashmir to take stock of the security arrangements for the Amarnath Yatra.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had earlier this month conducted mock exercises at Baltal and Pahalgam base camps to assess the preparedness and response mechanism of all those involved in management of the Yatra. The pilgrims will reach the base camps of Nunwan Pahalgam in Anantnag District and Baltal in Ganderbal District this evening.

Pampore attack: Such incidents ‘defaming’ J&K, setback to religion we practise: Mehbooba Mufti

Paying tributes to the CRPF jawans killed in the Pampore attack, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday said such incidents are only “defaming” Kashmir while keeping potential investors and tourists away from the state.The Chief Minister laid floral wreaths on the coffins of the eight CRPF personnel killed in the militant attack on their convoy at Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway on Saturday. She said targeting security forces personnel who were only doing their duty was “condemnable”. “This is a fasting month when people should be seeking forgiveness and expiation for past sins. This is the time when we should be making sure not to hurt others. This kind of attack where you are affecting families by snatching their bread earner is condemnable.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Nothing can be achieved by this…. We are only defaming Kashmir and the state by these acts. We also deal a setback to the religion we practice,” Mehbooba told reporters. She said the militants were also giving a setback to tourism of Kashmir. “People from many countries have started arriving but this would send a wrong signal about the situation here,” she said.The Chief Minister said such attacks also deprived Jammu and Kashmir from its share of development witnessed in the rest of India. “Today there is atmosphere of development. India is attracting lot of investments in infrastructure development and healthcare but when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, the investors shy away because of these incidents. The worst sufferers of these attacks are people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar downplayed suggestions that the CRPF casualties could have been avoided in view of prior intelligence inputs and said the attackers were neutralised due to alertness of the jawans and intelligence inputs.”It is a desperate act by the terrorists. You must have seen over the past few days the attacks at Anantnag, Bijbehara or Pampore, these are desperate acts. Over the past six months, many terrorists and their leadership have been eliminated,” he said. “The CRPF personnel were returning after doing their duty and in such cases they become sitting ducks. In earlier attacks, the militants managed to escape but yesterday, our jawans were alert, there were intelligence reports which led to neutralising of terrorists. They could not escape,” Kumar said.Asked if there was any militant involved in yesterday’s attack on the loose, the DGP said, “We are investigating the case. We are looking at all possible angles and links and we will get them, we will get the perpetrators to the book.” On the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra which begins on July 2, Kumar said, “We will take all steps necessary for safe and secure environment for smooth conduct of the yatra.” On infiltration of militants from across the Line of Control, the DGP said while “some infiltration has taken place, JK police and security forces are all prepared and geared up to handle any sort of situation”.

Sangeet Som’s yatra for Kairana: Bring back people who fled during Gujarat riots, says Shivpal Yadav

Uttar Pradesh PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav on Friday attempted to corner Prime Minister Narendra Modi over BJP MLA Sangeet Som’s ‘Paidal Nirbhay Yatra’ across Uttar Pradesh to assure safety to the Hindu families from Kairana village of Shamli district and said that the duo must worry about bringing back the people, who fled during the 2002 Gujarat riots. “Many people migrated after the Gujarat riots. Sangeet Som and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should first worry about them. Prime Minister Modi must first bring back the people, who fled during the Gujarat riots,” Yadav told a press conference here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He claimed the Uttar Pradesh Government has intelligence reports which suggest that there was no exodus from Kairana. “The people have left the place in search for jobs. We will not let the BJP vitiate the atmosphere here. We have intelligence reports to prove that there was no exodus in Kairana,” he added.Yadavb further said the BJP MLA was attempting to vitiate the atmosphere in Uttar Pradesh, adding strict action would be initiated against such elements. Som, who kicked off his “Paidal Nirbhay Yatra” earlier in the day, urged his supporters not to violate the law and maintain peace. “The moment administration tells us that we are in violation of Section-142, we will stop the rally,” he told the media in Meerut. Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, however, said this rally is ‘uncalled for’, adding that the party has not yet given a green signal in this regard. “The BJP has not said anything to push this forward. Sangeet ji has been insisted that there’s no need for this right now. We will think about it and wait for the party’s instructions,” he said.

Kairana: BJP MLA Sangeet Som begins ‘yatra’ in Meerut, says won’t let UP turn into Kashmir

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Sangeet Som on Friday embarked on a week-long ‘Paidal Nirbhay Yatra’ across Uttar Pradesh amid claims and counter claims of exodus of Hindu families from Kairana village of Shamli district and said that he would not let the state turn into Kashmir.”Senior officials have stopped us here saying Sec 144 is imposed here on, so we are stopping our “yatra” here. We have given a 15-days notice to state government to bring back families who’ve migrated or we’ll be forced to come on streets,” says Som. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Som had carried out the yatra reportedly even after being told by the UP’s BJP unit to not do so. “To the people who are migrating from Kirana, I just want to give them a message that they are safe in Uttar Pradesh. And we will not let Uttar Pradesh turn into Kashmir,” Som said. “I want to tell them that they should stay here and not migrate. The people, who have already migrated, should realize that the atmosphere in the state is becoming better,” he added. Som said that he would not do anything against the law. “I won’t do anything against the law. I am a BJP leader. I always work according to the law. And even today I will abide by the law,” he added.An eight-member BJP team visited Kairana earlier this week to review the situation in the village. Hukum Singh, who had earlier reportedly said that the Hindus were being forced to leave their homes in the Muslim-majority town in Kairana, has backtracked from his claims.Singh said earlier on Wednesday that the “migration” of Hindus from Kairana was “not communal” in nature, adding that people are leaving the region due to law and order problems and threats by goons.According to reports, the police have ordered a probe into the alleged migration after Singh presented a list of 346 families from the Muslim-majority village while claiming that they had to leave their homes after attacks and extortion attempts. With agency inputs.

The monk who is selling his PM to Dalits

An 87-year-old monk is on a journey through the Bodh viharas of Uttar Pradesh with a message for the Dalit followers of Buddhism to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Dhamma Viriyo, the Akhil Bharatiya Sangha Nayak of the Bharatiya Bhikku Maha Sangha, is telling the people that while BSP supremo Mayawati refused to give him time, Modi went out of his way to honour him at Mhow, the birth place of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar. Traveling in a bus, which has Modi’s images on it, Viriyo is his devoted emissary describing the Prime Minister as the messiah for the poor.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accompanied by around 50 Bhikkus (Buddhist monastics), he holds between ten to 60 meetings in a district, reaching out to nearly 5000-7000 people each day. At the BJP headquarters, detailed reports of the Dhamma Chetna Yatra are received on a daily basis.BJP leaders deny the party’s involvement in the programme, being held under the banner of the Akhil Bhikku Sangha. However, eight meetings were held between party leaders and Viriyo before the yatra was flagged off in April at Varanasi, Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, by home minister Rajnath Singh, according to sources.”BJP workers welcome anyone who is working for manav kalyan (wellbeing of people). We have a lot of respect for Dr Viriyo,” said BJP general secretary Arun Singh.During his yatra, which ends in October, Viriyo is likely to cross around 1400-1500 Bodh Viharas, which fall in the midst of Dalit-dominated areas. According to sources, there are nearly 40-50 lakh followers of Buddhism, most of whom are Dalits and some are OBCs like Mauryas, in the state. The yatra is expected to cover Purvanchal, the OBC-dominated politically crucial region in UP.The BJP is trying to wean away the Dalit vote from Mayawati and targeting the non-Yadav OBC vote in UP. Several Dalits and other backward caste people in the state have adopted Buddhism, freeing themselves from the clutches of caste-based discrimination like untouchability. Dalit icons like Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram, Mayawati’s mentor, have shown the way. While Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, Kanshi Ram died just a week before he was to convert to the religion from Hinduism. Mauryan emperor Ashoka had converted to Buddhism after the Kalinga war.The home minister, while flagging off the yatra, promised a statue of Buddha taller than the ones in Bamiyan in Afghanistan if BJP came to power in UP. Modi has invoked Buddhism in foreign policy, particularly in East Asia, and indicated his regard for it as a religion propagating peace.

Massive forest fire engulfs 10 kilometer area near Vaishno Devi shrine

Massive fire has engulfed the dense pine forests near the revered Shri Mata Vaishno Devi (SMVD) shrine in Katra town of Reasi district in the Jammu division.Spread over 10 kilometres, fire started from Banganga ridge on the Trikuta hills and spread quickly to other areas prompting the authorities to shut the helipad for sometime as a precautionary measure to avoid any mishap.SMVD shrine board authorities later requisitioned the Indian Air Force for help to douse the flames. Indian Air Force has pressed two choppers into service which are fetching water from the Salal dam in Reasi to sprinkle on the affected areas in a bid to douse the flames.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Fire fighting operations were conducted by the two Mi-17V5 helicopters of the 153 Helicopter Units, Udhampur. Till 2.30 pm the helicopters conducted five sorties using Bambi Bucket. Over 18,000 litres of water was dispensed (to douse the flames)”, Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command, told dna.Police said the yatra however, remained unaffected and pilgrims had dharshan at the holy cave shrine without any hassles as the fire was controlled to a large extent.”It was a natural fire which broke out yesterday in the 10 kilometer area. Yatra, Yatries and chopper services remained unaffected. Fire has been controlled at the areas near the public places. Smoke is billowing from few places on the upper ridges. IAF choppers are sprinkling water to control the fire,” Sujit Kumar, senior superintendent of police, Reasi, told dna.Experts said the reasons for the fire could be either man made or natural given the prevailing heat wave in the area.”When pine needles fall from the trees it creates a carpet like layer on the ground. A small spark by a cigarette bit can cause massive fires. Another reason could be that in the scorching heat, the stones start rolling down which sometimes create sparks. This too ignites the forest fire,” said Mohinder Singh, deputy director of Forest Protection Force (FPF).Located at the altitude of 5,200 feet in the Tirukta hills, the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the holiest pilgrimage places in Indian sub continent. The pilgrims have to trek around 12 kilometres from the base camp to the Holy cave.Millions of devotees visit the shrine every year to perform puja at the sanctum sanctorum. Official data reveal 77.76 pilgrims visited the shrine in 2014 against 78.03 lakh in 2014. Around 93.24 lakh pilgrims visited the shrine in 2013.”We have controlled the fire to a large extent. There has been no damage to the life or property. The chopper operations at the helipad has also resumed,” said Jagdish Singh, sub divisional magistrate at SMVD.

Sonia, Rahul Gandhi to take out ‘save democracy’ yatra on May 6

Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah of “murdering democracy” in Uttarakhand, Pradesh Congress president Kishore Upadhyay on Friday said party workers will take part in a save democracy yatra to be led by AICC chief Sonia Gandhi in Delhi on May 6.Congress workers in large numbers will take part in the ‘Loktantra Bachao Desh Bachao Yatra’ to be led by Sonia Gandhiji and Rahul Gandhiji from Jantar Mantar to PMO on May 6, Upadhyay told reporters here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming that the yatra will “shake the foundations” of the Narendra Modi government, he said people will never forgive those responsible for evicting an elected government in the state.

Uttar Pradesh elections 2017: Rajnath Singh promises Buddha statue if voted to power

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday promised to build a Buddha statue taller than the ones in Bamiyan in Afghanistan which were blown up by the Taliban, if BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in next year’s polls.Flagging off a ‘Dhamma Chetana Yatra’ in Varanasi in Sarnath organised by All India Bhikkhu Sangha to mark the 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, Singh said he had made an announcement in this regard in 2001 when the Bamiyan statues were destroyed by Taliban forces.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If BJP forms government in Uttar Pradesh, then we will construct a huge Buddha statue in UP, even bigger than Afghanistan’s giant Bamiyan Buddhas which were destroyed by terrorists,” he said at a religious gathering in Mulagandhakuti Vihara in Varanasi.”When terrorists destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, I was the Chief Minister and BJP was in power in the state. I was deeply hurt and announced constructing statue of Budhha even bigger than the Bamiyan statues. Even the foundation stone was laid at Kushinagar, but unfortunately our government was ousted from power and the project was put on backburner. No successive state government took interest in building the statue,” he said.The Dhamma Chetna Yatra, aimed at spreading Buddha’s message of ‘peace’, began today. It will tour various places and conclude in Lucknow on October 14.Drawing a parallel between Sardar Patel and B R Ambedkar, the Union Home Minister said Sardar Patel helped in integrating princely states to make a united India, whereas Ambedkar was instrumental in binding the country by drafting the Constitution.

Uttarakhand crisis: BJP flags off yatra against Congress

Stepping up attack on Congress, BJP on Sunday launched a yatra here to “expose” alleged corruption during Harish Rawat’s rule and horse-trading of legislators.”The ‘Remove corruption, save Uttarakhand’ yatra which will travel across the state will make the people aware of the deeds of Congress and the attempt to buy legislators by the ousted Chief Minister,” state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The yatra will reach Haldwani on April 18 and Dehradun the next day. In the next stage, the yatra will go to other parts of the state where the flag will be handed over to the district chiefs, he said. A CD of the purported ‘sting’ video which allegedly shows Rawat trying to bribe legislators will be shown to people during the journey.

West Bengal: Man taken to police station by ASI as son sprays colour on cops’ vehicle

A school teacher was allegedly beaten up and dragged to a police station by an ASI after the former’s minor son ‘accidentally’ sprayed colour on the latter’s official vehicle at Kalyani in Nadia district, following which an inquiry has been initiated.Manoranjan Sasmal, a teacher of a government-aided school here, in his police complaint said he was beaten up by Assistant Sub Inspector Suman Ghose for his seven-year-old son’s act during Holi celebration known as Dol Yatra yesterday, Nadia ASP Ajay Prasad said on Thursday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His son was reportedly trying to fix a malfunctioning sprinkler when the colour in it accidentally jetted onto the vehicle, Prasad said.Sasmal alleged that angered by this, the ASI beat him up with a stick, injuring him on his hands and legs, and dragged him to the nearby police station. However he was released after a while, the ASP said.The accused ASI, however, denied beating up Sasmal and claimed it was because of the teacher’s arrogant attitude that he had been taken to the police station. Sasmal was treated for his injuries at a local government hospital.

Dol Yatra celebrated in West Bengal, politicians use festival to connect with masses

Holi was on Wednesday celebrated with gaiety and fervour in West Bengal as revellers took to the streets with sprinklers since morning.Click Here For LIVE SCORE: India vs Bangladesh, ICC World T20Streets took rainbow hues as people played with colours to mark the festival, known as ‘Dol Yatra’ in this part of the country. The revellers, a majority of them youngsters, broke into jigs and some sang songs as they smeared “gulal” on the faces of friends, relatives and even complete strangers.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The festival, which marks the advent of Spring, was celebrated as traditional “Basantotsav”, (Spring festival) in the university town of Santiniketan in Birbhum district, where Visva-Bharati students and professors participated in the customary ‘prabhat pheri’ (morning procession).A large number of tourists from all over the country who gathered there also listened to recitals of Rabindranath Tagore’s songs and saw dance performance on the occasion. The day was celebrated with religious fervour at the Vaishnav shrines of Nabadwip in Nadia district and also at the ISCKON headquarters in nearby Mayapur.Holi played in Kolkata (PTI)Monks of Ramakrishna Mission celebrated the day with the traditional ‘prabhat pheri’ inside the premises of the order’s global headquarter Belur Math. They also smeared each other with “gulal”.With the Assembly poll round the corner, political parties of all hues used “Dol Yatra” or Holi as a tool to reach out to the masses. Kolkata mayor and TMC candidate Sovan Chatterjee, panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee and other leaders were seen smearing gulal on people’s faces to celebrate Holi. Some of them were even seen taking selfies with young voters.”Playing Holi has no connection with election. Every year, I play Holi with the people of my constituency and my supporters. So this year it is nothing new,” Sovan Chatterjee said. Leaders also took to the streets to celebrate Holi with people of their respective areas and supporters and colourful processions were organised in their respective areas.Rupa Ganguly playing Holi (PTI)”It is a festival which resembles the ethos and culture of our country and reminds us that irrespective of various caste, religion and creed India is one,” said Congress state president Adhir Chowdhury. BJP leader Rupa Ganguly also played Holi with voters of her constituency.

Smriti Irani stresses on society’s role in women safety

The safety of women can be a reality only if society accepts the need to have it and works together with the government, Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday. She said government can bring forward a legislation to end female foeticide and harassment against women, but all these would become operational only if society accepts the need for women’s safety.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This will become a reality only if relation between government and society is good,” she said.Irani was speaking at the valedictory function of the ‘Sthree Swabhimaan Yatra’, organised by Mathrusamithy, the women’s wing of Kerala Kshetra Samrakashan Samithi (Temple Protection Committee).Pointing out that the NDA government has initiated many women’s welfare schemes with focus on their safety, she said the initiative under ‘Mudra’ scheme to extend bank loans up to Rs 10 lakh to them without security would benefit women and also empower them.Similarly, the Jan Dhan yojana for women would also ensure their upliftment, she said. Irani also said government wanted to expand the Sthree Swabhimaan Yatra to other parts of the country.The yatra, led by Mathrusanithy State President Prof V T Rama began at Kasargod on January 24 and culminated on Sunday. Former BJP state president V Muraleedharan was among those present on the occasion.

Hindutva apostles to take on atheists in God’s own country?

A meeting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates last week in Thiruvananthapuram discussed a range of election related issues from Kerala’s Hindu population to improvement in BJP’s vote share.Mainly addressed by a senior Sangh functionary, the three-hour meeting, attended by around 300 workers including those of the BJP, deliberated on matters like wooing minorities and the need to restrain cadre from skirmishes with the CPM.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sangh functionary, A Gopalakrishnan, a former Pranth Pracharak, has also toured all districts of the election-bound state and held district-level meetings. A party leader said that in the past too the RSS has provided manpower to help in elections, but this time it was also involved in delineating the BJP’s campaign strategy.There will be parallel RSS and BJP in-charges in every assembly constituency to oversee the campaign and core committees at district levels, according to party sources. A mechanism is also being worked out for the RSS and BJP workers to contact every house in the state. From working behind the scenes, the RSS is now openly in the forefront of the electoral battle in a state, which has the highest number of shakhas, but where the BJP has failed to win a Lok Sabha or assembly seat so far.While the RSS has made it clear that the selection of candidates would be left to the party, at the local level all cadres will be brought under a single command, sources said. Right from involvement in deciding on Kummanam Rajasekharan, a Pracharak and VHP leader, as state unit chief to preparation for election from the booth level, the RSS is engaged in the election machinery in the state and is even calling the shots in some areas.Despite a strong organisational network, the BJP has been unsuccessful in creating a space for itself in the state’s political arena dominated by the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led UnitedDemocratic Front (UDF). State BJP leaders, however, claim that things have changed and this would reflect in the assembly election. Emboldened by the 12.1 per cent vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and the results of local body polls, the BJP has set itself an ambitious target of “70 plus” in the 140-strong assembly.BJP president Amit Shah is expected to join Rajasekharan, who is leading a 20-day Vimochana Yatra across state assemblies, at Kottayam on February 4. Rajasekharan, who was in the capital a day before he began the Yatra from Kasargod, said the main election issues of the party would be “food, water, soil and justice.”The BJP, which faces the disadvantage of a high minority population of 48% in the state, has set its eyes on Hindu consolidation, sources said. As part of its strategy, the BJP is trying to capture the votes of “ezhavas”, an OBC community, which has leaned towards the Left, and bring all Hindu outfits under its umbrella. The BJP has joined hands with Vellapally Natesan’s Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, an ezhavas organisation, which has floated the Bharath Dharma Janata Sena (BDJS) party. The BJP, which is trying to reach out to the Nair Service Society (NSS) to get the support of the Nair community, wants to fill the vacant post of the general secretary (Organisation) in the state unit with a Nair, sources said. The BJP was also attempting to reach out to a section of the Christians.With chief minister Oommen Chandy facing corruption allegations, the BJP is of the view that the Congress would have to deal with the incumbency disadvantage, and is hoping to cash in on what it describes as “discontentment” with the LDF and UDF.The RSS, the BJP’s ideological mentor, is pulling out all the stops to bring the BJP out of oblivion on Kerala’s electoral map, hoping that this election will change the state’s political hues.Target of 70 plusEmboldened by the 12.1% vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and the results of local body polls, the BJP has set itself an ambitious target of “70 plus” in the 140-strong assembly.A state BJP leader pointed out that unlike workers of a political party, the RSS cadre was trained to work voluntarily without any expectations and given the large force of Sangh workers, it would come as an advantage for the BJP.

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