Telangana Chief Minister inducts son, nephew in cabinet

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao”s son K.T. Rama Rao and nephew T. Harish Rao were among the six ministers who were inducted into the state cabinet on Sunday.

The new ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan at a ceremony held at Raj Bhavan at 4.14 p.m.

The four other ministers who took oath are P. Sabita Indra Reddy, Gangula Kamalakar, Puvvada Ajay Kumar and Satyavati Rathod.

The Chief Minister, his ministers, leaders of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), MPs, state legislators and senior officials attended the ceremony.

Interestingly, Soundararajan administered oath to new ministers a few hours after she was sworn in as Governor.

Chandrasekhar Rao, who had no woman minister in his cabinet during the first term, inducted two women – Sabita Indra Reddy and Satyavati Rathod.

Three of the newly-inducted ministers had earlier served as ministers.

Rama Rao and Harish Rao were in the cabinet during the TRS” first term in power.

Meanwhile, Chandrasekhar Rao has distributed portfolios among new ministers and changed the portfolio of one minister.

Harish Rao will handle the key portfolio of finance. He was irrigation minister in the earlier cabinet.

Like in the previous cabinet, Rama Rao will look after urban development, municipal administration, industry, information technology and communication.

Sabita Indra Reddy will be the minister for education while Satyavati Rathod has been entrusted with the portfolio of tribal welfare, women and child welfare.

Ajay Kumar will handle the transport department. Kamalakar has been entrusted with the portfolio of backward class welfare, civil supplies and consumer affairs.

Jagdish Reddy, who was handling education portfolio, will now be the minister for energy.

Sabita Indra Reddy was one of the 12 Congress MLAs who had defected to TRS after the latter retained power. She had earlier served as minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh.

This is the second expansion in the state cabinet since TRS retained power in the elections held in December last year.

With this expansion, the strength of the cabinet has gone up to 18, the maximum permitted by the Constitution.

Chandrasekhar Rao had taken oath as the Chief Minister for the second term on December 13. Home Minister Mehmood Ali also took oath with him.

He expanded his cabinet on February 19 by inducting 10 ministers.


CM Yediyurappa awaits Shah”s nod to expand cabinet

The much-delayed cabinet expansion of the three-week-old BJP government in Karnataka is set to take place this week after party”s national president Amit Shah clears the names of legislators for inducting, an official source said on Sunday.

“If Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa receives the list of names by Monday night or early Tuesday from Shah, the cabinet will be expanded same afternoon after a meeting of the BJP legislature party at the secretariat before noon,” the source told .

Though Yediyurappa met Shah in Delhi at his office in North Block on Saturday evening and submitted him a list finalised by the party”s state leaders in consultation with BJP”s national general secretary B.L. Santosh in the national capital on Friday, there is no communique from Shah yet.

“As senior party leaders, including those who were ministers in the previous BJP government from 2008-13, are keenly waiting for Shah”s nod to get into the cabinet again, Yediyurappa will explain to those omitted the reasons for their exclusion at the meeting and call for restraint to prevent dissent, as expectations are high,” said the source on the condition of anonymity.

A party official, however, said in the first phase of cabinet expansion, over a dozen lawmakers would be sworn-in ministers, keeping in view their caste and community combination with fair representation from the state”s four regions — northern, coastal, central and southern.

“As the BJP won more seats from the northern, coastal and central regions in the 2018 assembly elections, emerging as the single largest party with 105 seats in the 225-member House, a lion”s share of the ministry and portfolios will go to those elected from there,” party”s state unit spokesman G. Madhusudana told here.

To fill the remaining cabinet posts in the 34-member ministry, Yediyurappa is likely to wait for 6 months in the event of by-elections to the 17 assembly segments from where the Congress and JD-S rebel legislators were disqualified by the previous speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar in July for defying their party whip to withdraw their resignations, attend the monsoon session and vote in favour of the confidence motion their former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy moved on July 18 but lost on July 23 due to their revolt.

“The admission of the Congress-JD-S rebels into the party and their inclusion in the ministry depends on the outcome of their petitions against their disqualification in the Supreme Court and their prospects of winning if the bye-elections are held,” added Madhusudana.

With the saffron party and Yediyurappa being strong believers in astrology and the position of their planetary stars, some in the party consider Tuesday inauspicious for cabinet expansion as per the Hindu calendar.

Yediyurappa, 76, took oath for the fourth time as the BJP chief minister on July 26, but could not expansion his cabinet for various reasons beyond his control, as the party”s high command was busy with the Parliament session, legislative bills on Jammu and Kashmir and heavy rains and floods across the state over the last three weeks.



Karnataka diverting more Mhadei water than allotted, will move SC: Goa CM

Accusing Karnataka of drawing more water than it was allotted by the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal in its award in 2018, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday told the state legislative assembly that his government would soon file a special leave petition before the Supreme Court in this regard.

“We are filing an SLP on Friday. We are not going to be quiet. They have diverted more water than what was allotted to them by the Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal. Mhadei is close to my heart. I have been following it up even at the time I was MLA,” Sawant told the state assembly on Wednesday during the ongoing monsoon session.

Mhadei is also known as the Mandovi river and is the lifeline of the northern parts of the State. It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through the territory of Maharashtra.

On August 14, the Tribunal which was hearing a dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, for nearly two decades over sharing of water from the Mhadei river, in its award had allotted 13.42 TMC (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) from the Mhadei river basin to Karnataka. Maharashtra has been allotted 1.33 TMC.




No proposal from Centre on atomic energy units: Punjab CM

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he was yet to receive any proposal from the Central government for establishment of atomic energy units at the Bathinda and Ropar power plants.

At the same time, the Chief Minister said he had never had any problems working with the Centre.

Cordial relations between the Central and state governments were important in a federal structure, and he had no issues dealing with any government at the Centre in the interest of Punjab, he told reporters here.

Talks on using atomic energy for power production had been going on for a long time but there was nothing concrete yet on the table, he said in response to a question.

“At the moment, I do not even have a power minister,” he said, in an apparent reference to Navjot Singh Sidhu’s resignation after his refusal to take over the Power portfolio allocated to him as part of a state Cabinet reshuffle post the Lok Sabha elections.

He said he has been personally monitoring the Power Department functioning on a day-to-day basis, in view of the ongoing paddy season which requires continuous power.

The state has been witnessing an unprecedented peak demand of power in view of the erratic monsoon which has led to a rain deficit in some areas.



BJD President and Odisha CM Naveen seeks performance report from party MPs

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) President and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday asked his party MPs to submit reports of their performance in the Parliament and on the steps taken by them to resolve issues in their respective constituencies every two months starting August.

In a letter to all the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs of the BJD, Patnaik asked them to apprise him on the issues raised by them in both the Houses and the steps taken by them to resolve people’s problems in their respective constituencies.

The MPs have been asked to submit the written reports every two months by the 10th.

Patnaik said he would review the reports regularly and give advice on how to work for the development and interest of Odisha.

Notably, Patnaik had asked his ministers on June 4 to submit monthly reports on steps taken by their departments for implementing the BJD’s election manifesto by the seventh of every month.

The BJD has 12 MPs in the Lok Sabha and eight in the Rajya Sabha.



Centre to start devlopment work on Sultanpur Lodhi: Punjab CM

The Centre will initiate work on the infrastructure development of Sultanpur Lodhi town as proposed by the Punjab government at the earliest, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri assured Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday.

The Chief Minister had called on Puri, the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, here to press for early approval for the Rs 321 crore infrastructure development projects proposed by the state government for Sultanpur Lodhi town.

The town holds historical significance due to its association with Guru Nanak Dev, whose 550th Prakash Purb is being celebrated this year.

Puri said he had already instructed the department to immediately vet the proposals and secure the necessary approvals to start work on priority, an official spokesperson told IANS after the meeting.

To the Chief Minister’s request for inclusion of the three Municipal Corporation towns of Patiala, Bathinda and SAS Nagar in the Smart Cities Project being assisted by the Central government on a sharing basis, Puri assured to consider the same as and when the project is expanded to cover new cities.

The Union Minister said he was committed to helping Punjab in any way he could and would look into the demands of the state.

He later told mediapersons that he would ensure maximum flights from Punjab to cater to the demand for global travel.

The Chief Minister said, in response to media queries after the meeting, that the Union Minister had promised to look into the state’s demands related to urban development and aviation.

Earlier, during the meeting, Amarinder Singh said Patiala, besides being an old heritage city, had also been declared a Counter-Magnet Town to the national capital region (NCR) by the NCR Planning Board.

Strengthening infrastructure in all the Counter-Magnet Towns would also help in reducing migration to Delhi, he pointed out.

The Chief Minister also urged Puri to approve early clearance for a NCR Planning Board loan for the Patiala Nadi Hydrology project, for which the state government would soon submit a formal proposal.

Bathinda, he said, was a fast growing and principal town in southern Punjab while SAS Nagar (Mohali) was a satellite town of Chandigarh with the highest growth potential in Punjab.

To strengthen the state’s global connectivity, the Chief Minister sought inclusion of Chandigarh under the Open Skies Policy for Asean countries, while asking for an urgent review of the current policy of bilateral spots to facilitate more international flights out of Chandigarh, especially to the Gulf countries and Turkey, thereby enabling greater connectivity with the rest of the world.

The Chief Minister also asked the Union Minister to consider the proposal to name Adampur Airport as Jalandhar Airport for easy booking of flights by tourists and NRIs.

On the occasion, Puri presented his book “Delusional Politics” to the Chief Minister.



Goa CM visits Amethi, Congress says he’s avoiding work

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday visited Baraulia village in Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh to pay condolences to the family of a BJP party worker who was shot dead in May, soon after the Lok Sabha polls.

Criticising the visit, the Congress in Goa accused Sawant of running away from pressing issues in the state, while at the same time promising to undertake developmental works instead in Amethi constituency, which was formerly represented by Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Sawant on Saturday arrived in Baraulia, a village adopted by former Defence Minister late Manohar Parrikar as part of a Parliamentary scheme, along with Union Minister for Textiles Smriti Irani, who is Lok Sabha MP from Amethi.

“We definitely feel like contributing something in the areas of education or development sector, especially to do with the youth… The (local) authorities should decide. If they allow us, we will do something in the memory of Manohar Parrikar,” Sawant told reporters in Baraulia.

The Chief Minister also said that he had worked as a party worker in Amethi in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and had come in contact with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker Surendra Singh, who was shot dead soon after the 2019 general elections.

“I am glad that I could meet Surendra Singh’s family. I felt bad about what has happened. The party lost a good worker. This loss cannot be made good. But at least we can condole his death. The party organisation is with its workers and their families,” Sawant said after meeting members of Singh’s family.

The Congress in Goa has however lashed out at Sawant, accusing him of running away from critical local issues like unemployment, contamination of fish with formalin and the mining ban.

“There is unrest everywhere in Goa. Chief Minister cannot find time for Goa and he has the time to go to Amethi to solve their problems. Our Chief Minister should first focus on solving issues which Goa is facing,” Goa Congress President Girish Chodankar said.




Punjab CM to call all-party meeting on depleting water table

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday announced an all-party meeting would be called soon to evolve a broad consensus to comprehensively address the problem of depletion of groundwater in the state.

The Chief Minister chaired a meeting of cabinet ministers, political leaders, senior officers, water experts, scientists and representatives of the farmer organizations and industry and discussed fast depleting groundwater table across the state.

Amarinder Singh said it was high time that the state tackled the problem for the future generations otherwise the fertile Punjab would soon be on the verge of becoming a desert.

“Posterity will not forgive us in case we fail to act now”, said the Chief Minister.

Sharing the underlying objective of calling the all-party meeting, the Chief Minister said it would provide a healthy platform for all parties to build a political consensus on the critical issue.

He said any complacency or laxity would virtually lead the state nowhere.

The Chief Minister also sought cooperation of all farmers and farmers’ organizations.

Narrating his personal experience while he was Agriculture Minister in the state way back in 1985-86, the Chief Minister pointed out the Eradi Commission constituted by the then Central Government assessed availability of water in the State at 17.1 MAF which has now reduced to 13.1 MAF in the past 30 years, adding that the climatic changes had reduced the glacier cover, causing a substantial fall in the groundwater level.

The Chief Minister also announced a committee under Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Viswajeet Khanna and Vice Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University B.S. Dhillon to explore the possibility for changes in the existing cropping pattern.



Karnataka CM H.D. Kumaraswamy travels in train for village stay

Catching fellow passengers unawares, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday night boarded an express train to Yadgir town for his village stay in the states northern district on this weekend, an official said.

“Instead of flying by a chartered aircraft or a helicopter, Kumaraswamy boarded Karnataka Express from the city main station to reach Yadgir on Friday morning for his village stay at Chandraki near Gurmitkal in the district to reach out the rural people,” the official told IANS.

The backward district headquarters (Yadgir) is about 490km from Bengaluru in North Karnataka.

This is the second time Kumaraswamy is starting to stay overnight in a village to interact with its people and know their problems first-hand to address them on the spot.

“Kumaraswamy’s village home stays during his tenure as chief minister of then JD-S-BJP coalition government in 2006-07 was popular as the people were able to meet him freely and air their grievances or seek his help in solving their problems,” the official recalled.

The chief minister will stay overnight in a government-run school than at a farmer’s home during the 2006-07 village stay programme.

On Saturday, Kumaraswamy will drive to Herur hamlet near Afzalpur in the adjacent Kalaburagi district for an overnight stay at a state-run school.

On the following weekend (June 28-29), the Chief Minister will stay for overnight at Basavakalyan in Bidar district and Sindanur in Raichur district in the state’s northern region.



Chandigarh, Punjab CM orders closure of all open borewells

Five days after an infant got was trapped in a 150-foot-deep abandoned borewell in a Punjab village, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has asked the officials to ensure that no open borewell existed in any district and sought a report in 24 hours.

“Constantly monitoring the rescue operations by @NDRFHQ, local administration and outside experts, which has reached the required depth & are locating Fatehveer,” Singh tweeted.

Stating that was constantly monitoring the operation to recue the child, who turned two on Monday, at Bhagwanpura in the Sunam subdivision, the Chief Minister has directed Deputy Commissioners to ensure no open borewell existed in any of the districts and asked them to submit a report within 24 hours.

The child, Fatehveer Singh, stumbled into the borewell that was covered with cement bags at around 4 p.m. on June 6, according to his mother Gagandeep Kaur. The rescue team, comprising 26 members of the NDRF, the army and the district administration staff, is conducting the operation.

There was no official update on the health of the child. A movement in the child’s body was noticed at 5 a.m. on Saturday, almost 40 hours after he fell into the borewell. After that no movement has been spotted.

Lack of expertise and technical snags were blamed for the delay in the rescue operation.

A team of doctors and ambulances are stationed at the spot to provide emergency aid.



Punjab CM asks Chief Justice for speedy trial of rape cases

Expressing concern over the delay in the trial of rape cases, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday urged Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Krishna Murari to put in place a fast track trial mechanism.

He also sought an advice to the subordinate courts, under his jurisdiction, to complete the trial in such cases speedily.

In a letter to the Chief Justice that comes days after police in Sangrur filed a charge sheet in a Dhuri minor’s rape case within seven days of the incident, Amarinder Singh said speedy trials were essential to ensure that all culprits in such cases are brought to justice at the earliest.

He drew the attention of the Chief Justice to the amended provisions of Section 173 (1-A) of the Criminal Procedure Code, wherein a time limit has been prescribed for investigation of the cases registered under Sections 376, 376-A, 376-B, 376-C, 376-D, 376-DA, 376-DB and 376-E of the Indian Penal Code.

The state police have been time and again directed to ensure that investigation of cases involving such crimes is completed within the prescribed limit, Amarinder Singh wrote.

However, he said, it had been observed that even though investigation of such cases is completed on time, trial by the courts of competent jurisdiction takes much longer than the desired time.

“Since delayed justice to the victims hurts the common man, it is felt that trial of such cases, particularly those involving rapes, should be expedited without any further delay,” said the Chief Minister.



Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy to have five deputy CMs

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on Friday said he will have five deputy chief ministers.

He announced this while addressing newly-elected legislators of the YSR Congress Party on Friday, a day before cabinet expansion.

Jagan Reddy, who took oath as the Chief Minister on May 30, will have deputy chief ministers from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, minorities and Kapus.

The move is aimed at giving proper representation to major social groups, party sources said.

This will be the highest ever number of deputy chief ministers in the state. Jagan Reddy’s predecessor N. Chandrababu Naidu had two deputies.

The YSRCP chief told the Legislature Party meeting that he will induct 25 ministers in the cabinet. He declared that half of them would be from SCs, STs, BCs and minorities. He also said there will be cabinet reshuffle after two-and-half years to give an opportunity to new ministers.

The swearing-in ceremony of ministers will take place on Saturday at 11.49 a.m. near the state secretariat, Velagapudi. Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan will administer the oath of office to the ministers.

Jagan Reddy said he would bring many reforms in administration to ensure all-round development and welfare. He asked the MLAs to ensure that there is no scope for corruption at any level.



Rahat Indori shares ‘power cut’ pain with MP CM

Frustrated with long power cuts in Madhya Pradesh amid the ongoing heat wave, Urdu poet Rahat Indori on Sunday shared his pain with Chief Minister
Kamal Nath and state Power Minister Priyavrat Singh on Twitter.

“Electricity failures are a routine nowadays. There has been no power for three hours today. It’s Ramzan and hot, and noone’s picking the phone in Indore Power company (@mppkvvclindore). Please help,” Indori tweeted tagging the post to the office of the Chief Minister Kamal Nath and state Power Minister Priyavrat Singh.

Replying to the tweet, Higher Education Minister Jitu Patwari said: “The power supply has been affected due to the sandstorms over the past few days. But it has been rectified. Electricity staff should be rewarded for the hours they spent fixing the faults.”




Criminal charges against 29 candidates in Arunachal, CM richest

As many as 29 (16 per cent) of total 184 candidates contesting the Assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh have declared criminal cases against themselves as compared to nine (6 per cent) in 2014, reveals a report by election watchdog – Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh is the richest candidate in the fray with total assets of worth Rs 163 crore while Congress candidate Dayum Para has declared zero assets.

As many as 26 (14 per cent) candidates have declared criminal charges of serious in nature in 2019 as against seven (5 per cent) in the last elections, when 148 candidates had contested, as per the report released on Thursday.

Party-wise, 12 per cent — seven out of 60 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contestants — have declared criminal cases while it is 20 per cent (nine of 46 candidates) of Congress, 27 per cent (eight of 30 candidates) of National Peoples’ Party (NPP), 13 per cent (two of 15 candidates) of Janata Dal-United (JD-U), 8 per cent (one of 12 candidates) of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and 9 per cent (one of 11) independents have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

Similarly, seven per cent of BJP candidates, 20 per cent of Congress candidates, 27 per cent of NPP candidates, 13 per cent of JD- U, eight per cent of JD- S and nine per cent of independents have declared serious criminal cases against them.

Out of the 184 candidates, 131(71 per cent) are ‘crorepatis’ while the number was 88 (60 per cent) in 2014.

JD- S candidate Takam Paleng has declared lowest asset of Rs 5,000.

Among the major parties, 54 (90 per cent) of BJP candidates are crorepaties while the number is 30 (65 per cent) for Congress, 21(70 per cent) for NPP, 11(73 per cent) for JD(U), seven (58 per cent) for JD(S) and five (46 per cent) of 11 independent candidates.

The average of assets per candidate is Rs 9.86 crores while it was Rs5.04 crores in 2014.

Congress candidate Nabam Tuki has declared highest liabilities of Rs 20 crores.

None of the candidates has declared their Income Tax return details while only two have declared their PAN details.

As per section 10 (26) of IT Act 1961, a member of Scheduled Tribe residing in the specific area of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura or Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir is exempt from paying Income Tax.

As many as eight (37 per cent) candidates have declared their educational qualification to be between 5th and 12th, while 106 (58 per cent) have declared having educational qualification of graduate or above. Two said they are literate while five are illiterate.

As many as 35 (19 per cent) candidates have declared their age to be between 25 to 40 years while 130 (71 per cent) candidates have declared their age to be between 41 to 60 years.

There are 19 (10 per cent) candidates who have declared their age to be between 61 to 80 years.

There are 11 (6 per cent) female candidates in the frey against five (3 per cent) in 2014.

As many as 50 candidates in 2019 polls are those who are incumbent MLAs.

ADR said it has analysed 47 of these candidates while three could not be analysed due to the unavailability of properly scanned affidavits of 2014.

The growth in average assets of re-contesting MLAs is Rs 7.96 crore – an increase of 76 per cent.




Modi compares CM Naidu to Bhallala Deva of ‘Baahubali’

Stepping up his attack on Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday compared him to blockbuster “Baahubali” movie’s primary antagonist Bhallala Deva and accused him of trying to keep power with his family by hook or crook.

Addressing a BJP rally in this town in East Godavari district, Modi repeatedly called the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief ‘U-turn Babu’ and alleged that the TDP has been involved in stealing people’s data.

“I was told that the TDP started a new work which is related to cyber crime through Seva Mitra App, which is neither doing Seva (service) nor is a Mitra (friend), instead, it is stealing people’s data,” said Modi referring to the data theft case booked in Telangana in March against an IT company providing services to the TDP.

Modi alleged that lies, frustration and U-turn have become the identity of the TDP government.

“See the statement he made two years ago and see what he is saying today. He could not do anything but blame others. Such leadership can’t be trusted by the people,” he alleged.

Modi claimed that the BJP wanted to save Andhra Pradesh’s heritage which was under threat from ‘U-turn Babu’. “He is bothered about his own heritage,” Modi said in an obvious reference to Heritage Foods, the dairy company owned by Naidu’s family.

“Standing by one’s word is Andhra’s heritage but U-turn Babu’s heritage is betrayal. Honesty and transparency is Andhra’s heritage but dishonesty and corruption is the heritage of U-turn Babu.”

The BJP leader also alleged that the Polavaram project has become an “ATM” for the TDP government which kept increasing the project’s cost. Stating that the project was hanging fire for four decades, he said the previous governments and the present TDP were partners in the crime.

Claiming that his government declared Polavaram a national project in its very first cabinet meeting, Modi said his government has removed all hurdles and so far released Rs 7,000 crore but “the TDP government had no intention to complete the project”.

Listing out the steps taken by his government during the last five years, Modi pointed out that his government’s decision to make income tax zero for those earning up to Rs 5 lakh has already come into effect from Monday.

He said the government executed many works at a rapid pace without imposing any new tax on people.

He urged people to bring BJP to power both in Andhra Pradesh and at the Centre so that it can continue the good work.

Elections to 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state are scheduled on April 11.



Development not Ram temple to be key poll issue; UP Dy CM

The BJP invariably raises the Ram temple issue before a general election but not so this time around as it’s “not an issue” as it would await the Supreme Court’s verdict. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be fought on the plank of development, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said.

“Ram temple is not an election issue for us because it is the issue of our faith which is bigger than any issue,” Sharma told IANS in an interview.

Sharma said the BJP, in its 2014 election manifesto had made it clear that it will follow the wishes of the different parties in the Ayodhya dispute or follow the Supreme Court’s guidelines.

He pointed out that many times, people had sat together to mediate on the dispute but “unfortunately it has failed in the past.

“And that is the reason why we are looking at the Supreme Court to give its verdict on the Ram temple issue,” the former Lucknow Mayor, who is also a professor, said.

Commenting on the SP-BSP-RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal) alliance in the state, Sharma said: “These parties look different from the outside but they are the same from inside. Their only motive is to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from returning to power.

“They (SP-BSP and the Congress) have not announced their alliance publicly but are performing as alliance partners from the inside,” he maintained.

Sharma also accused Congress of acting as a “dummy” for the SP-BSP to cut into the BJP’s vote share.

The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had won 73 of the state’s 80 seats in 2014. The Congress had won two and the SP five.

Taking a jibe at recently-appointed Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s meeting with Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, Sharma said, “The Congress, by supporting caste parties like Bhim Army and others is trying to again breathe air into such parties which were curbed by Modi and (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister) Yogi Adityanath.”

“It is the third election for Priyankaji. Earlier, she had campaigned in two Lok Sabha elections. If you look at her election campaign in 2014 you will find that she covered 46 seats and of these the Congress lost in 44 seats. At many places many of their candidates lost their deposit,” he noted.

Sharma said that due to the BJP’s ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ mantra in 2014, and its policy to move away from caste or community politics, there had been no communal riot in the state in the last three years.

“The main issue for the BJP is development,” he said.

Asked if there was a Modi wave in the country, Sharma said: “There is an atmosphere for Modiji across the country.”

Hitting out at opposition parties for questioning the Indian Air Force strikes across the border in Pakistan, he said: “Few opposition parties are using such language which are making headlines in Pakistan,” he said, adding: “And by doing so, they question the strength and valour of our country and the security forces,” he said.

Urging the opposition parties to refrain from such comments, the BJP leader said: “I want to advise them that elections are meant to strengthen the democratic system and not to demean the pride and respect of the country. And the opposition should refrain from such utterances.”

The Deputy Chief Minister noted that elections for the Congress’ first family had now become more of a picnic.

On the Nehru-Gandhi family, the deputy chief minister said: “The family has a history of participating in elections. Now it seems that for them elections have been reduced to a picnic. They can be seen campaigning during elections, but after the elections are over they go on vacation to foreign countries,” he said.

On Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s prospects for contesting from south India, Sharma said: “It is his party’s matter. He can contest from anywhere, from the east or northeast or west India. It’s his party’s decision.”

“He is fearing (something) and I don’t have any cure for his fear,” he said.





Pollachi sex abuse case; Kamal Haasan hits out at Chief Minister

Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) leader Kamal Haasan on Friday lashed out strongly at the AIADMK government led by Chief Minister K. Palaniswami for its silence on the Pollachi sexual abuse-cum-blackmail case.

In a video clip uploaded in his Twitter account, Kamal Haasan attacked the state government for its inaction and threatening the complainants/victims.

Kamal Haasan charged the government with revealing the name of the victim and scaring away the students who protested on the road by manhandling them.

The students who came to register their just anger in an honest manner were removed forcibly by the police. The students are asking whether this police force would ensure their safety, Kamal Haasan said.

“Don’t you hear Mr.CM?” Kamal Haasan said.

Recalling late Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa’s statement that sexual assault on women will be considered as a serious crime and will be probed by senior officials, Kamal Haasan said the government has not done anything to protect the victims.

He said the police officer investigating the case had revealed the name of the victim in a press meet. The current AIADMK claiming to run the government on the footsteps of Jayalalithaa has not taken any action and wondered how it can be so careless and lethargic in this regard.

Two days after that a video of the victim comes out and how, he wondered.

He also wondered why the government does not show the same alacrity in saying that the culprits will be punished as it does in saying that the accused in the sexual abuse case are not connected to the AIADMK.



DMK wants action against TN CM for misuse of Secretariat

The DMK on Saturday urged Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to take legal action against Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and others for using the State Secretariat for political purposes.

DMK’s Organising Secretary R.S. Bharathi issued a statement here saying that the party objected to the use of the Secretariat to re-admit former Member of Parliament K.C. Palanisamy into the AIADMK on Friday and demanded action against Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan.

The State Secretariat should be used only for official purposes, Bharathi said.

Contrary to the rules and the oath taken by the Chief Minister, who is also the Joint Coordinator of the AIADMK along with Panneerselvam, they had misused the secretariat for their party activity, Bharathi charged.

Bharathi said Purohit should seek an explanation from the three and take necessary action.



Centre, Telangana behaving like ‘economic terrorists’; Andhra CM

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday accused the Centre and the Telangana governments of behaving like “economic terrorists”.

He said both governments were targeting the opponents, including those from the corporate sector, by threatening them or by fabricating false cases against them.

Addressing a news conference here, he said both the Narendra Modi-led government and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government were creating an atmosphere of fear by targeting the opponents through raids or by causing mental agony to them.

Naidu also came down heavily on the Centre for threatening to file cases against “The Hindu” and N. Ram, Chairman of the publishing group, under the Official Secrets Act. He termed this as a serious threat to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief referred to the raid conducted by the Telangana Police on an information technology firm providing services to the party. He alleged that the TRS government took away the data of his party and gave it to the YSR Congress to help it in the coming elections.

Naidu said 160 people who were working with the company ran away from Hyderabad as the TRS government created fear through the raid.

“They also filed a false case against us that government data was stolen. In what way are you concerned with this? Do you have so much love for Andhra Pradesh,” he asked.

The Chief Minister said Andhra Pradesh would take all steps, including legal recourse, to protect its sovereign rights.

He alleged that the TRS, BJP and YSR Congress had colluded to create chaos in Andhra Pradesh which was on the path of development and prosperity thanks to the efforts of his government during the last five years. He also claimed that they were trying to get the names of eligible voters deleted from the electoral rolls.

Stating that the Central and the Telangana governments forced many opponents, including some industrialists, to surrender before them, he said there was no question of compromising with them.

“They are threatening me of using the CBI, the ED and other agencies, but they can’t do anything. I have done nothing wrong in my 40-year-long political career and I will continue to fight,” Naidu said.



TN CM launches Rs 2,000 special assistance for BPL families

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palanswami on Monday launched financial assistance of Rs 2,000 for 60 lakh below the poverty line (BPL) families in the state affected by cyclone Gaja, drought and failure of rains.

At the state secretariat, Palaniswami handed over to 32 families the administrative sanction to deposit Rs 2,000 in their bank accounts.

On Feb 11, Palaniswami had announced in the assembly the special assistance of Rs 2,000 to the 60 lakh BPL families in the state affected by cyclone, Gaja, drought and failure of rains.

He had said the outlay for this will be Rs 1,200 crore and will be made in the supplementary demands for grants to be made this fiscal.

Palaniswami had said 35 lakh families in villages and 25 lakh families in cities will be benefited by this financial assistance.

According to him, the financial assistance will be of great help especially to agricultural workers, fishermen, workers in firecracker units, handloom weavers, tree climbers and others.

The government had paid Rs 1,000 as a cash gift and gift hamper to ration card holders-BPL and non-priority household with sugar-only ration card to celebrate Pongal festival.



Aren’t you ashamed to come empty-handed; Andhra CM to Modi

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Visakhapatnam on Friday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu asked him if he was not ashamed to visit the state empty-handed.

In an open letter to Modi, Naidu slammed him for visiting the state without according it the special category status and fulfilling other commitments made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief told Modi that 5 crore people of the state were seething with anger over his betrayal.

Naidu, who has given a call for black-flag protests against Modi’s visit, questioned him over the failure to fulfil the assurances even after five years.

He said Modi owed an explanation to the Andhra people.

The Chief Minister said he visited Delhi 29 times seeking fulfilment of the assurances but in vain.

He wanted to know why the Centre failed in the last five years to accord the special status as per the assurance given on April 20, 2014, by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha.

“Is it not deceiving people of AP by releasing Rs 3,979 crore against the revenue deficit of Rs 16,000 crore after state bifurcation,” he asked.

The TDP leader recalled Modi’s promise to develop a state capital more attractive than Delhi but said only Rs 15,000 crore were released during the past four and half years.

“The central government failed to set up steel plant at Kadapa, though the state government came forward to provide necessary facilities including land, water, power and subsidies.”

He said while Andhra Pradesh allotted 2,909 acres of land for 11 national educational institutions, the Centre released Rs 895 crore against Rs 12,825 crore required.

Naidu raised a total of 17 issues relating to the commitments made by the Centre at the time of bifurcation of the state and also provisions of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

On Railway Minister Piyush Goel’s announcement for creation of South Coast Railway with Visakhapatnam as its headquarter, Naidu said the split of 172-years-old Waltair division and causing a revenue loss of Rs 6,500 crore to Andhra Pradesh reveals the revenge of the Centre towards the state.

“The central government once again hurt the sentiments of North Andhra people by hurriedly announcing South Coast railway zone without mentioning the railway recruitment board,” he said.