Minister Nagesh resigns, withdraws support to coalition government

The beleaguered ruling JD-S-Congress alliance in Karnataka was on the brink on Monday after Small-Scale Industries Minister H. Nagesh resigned and withdrew support to its 13-month-old coalition government in the southern state.

“I have this day, tendered my resignation from the council of ministers, headed by (Chief Minister) H.D. Kumaraswamy,” said Nagesh in a letter to state Governor Vajubhai Vala.

Nagesh, who handed over the letter to Vala at Raj Bhavan in the city centre, also mentioned that he was withdrawing his support to the 13-month-old government.

“I would by this letter, inform your good self that I withdraw my support to the government, headed by Kumaraswamy,” said Nagesh.

Nagesh also informed the Governor that he was elected as an Independent from the Mulbagal (SC) Assembly constituency in Kolar district.

Nagesh’s resignation comes barely a month after he was inducted into the 34-member Cabinet, along with R. Shankar of the regional party KPJP (Karnataka Pragyavantara Janata Paksha) to ensure their support to his fledgling government facing revolt from a dozen Congress rebel legislators since December.

Shankar, who is Municipalities Minister, also tendered his resignation letter to Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah along with 20 other Congress ministers to pave way for a dozen of its rebels from withdrawing their resignations and making them ministers to save the coalition government from collapsing ahead of the 10-day monsoon session of the state legislature from July 12.

This is the second time Nagesh and Shankar, who represents the Rannebennur Assembly segment, have withdrawn support to the coalition government. They earlier did so on January 15 after being dropped from the ministry on December 22 in a minor cabinet reshuffle-cum-expansion to ensure the government’s stability.

The Congress accused the BJP of wrecking its government in Karnataka. “BJP’s national leaders are behind this political crisis in the state. They do not want any government or any opposition party to rule in any state. They are destroying democracy,” Congress MLA D.K. Suresh told reporters.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in New Delhi were quick to retort. “The BJP has nothing to do with the political crisis in Karnataka,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament.



Punjab lawmakers assure support to Sikhs in Meghalaya

A high-level delegation, which has been rushed to Shillong by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, on Wednesday assured the Punjabi settlers there of full support to protect their fundamental rights.

The delegation, led by Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, met many members of the Sikh community settled in Meghalaya and is scheduled to meet Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Thursday.

“The Punjab government will take all possible steps to bring the current dispute to an amicable settlement,” said Randhawa, adding that infringement of the civil rights of the Sikhs settled in Shillong for over 200 years would not be allowed at any cost.

Randhawa added that Amarinder Singh was personally in touch with his Meghalyan counterpart and was monitoring the situation closely.

Appreciating Chief Minister Conrad Sangma for his efforts to diffuse the tension, Randhawa said Amarinder Singh had taken serious view of the media reports of threats being issued to Sikhs in Shillong, and had spoken to Sangma urging him to ensure foolproof security and safety of all the families.

The local Sikhs told the delegation that the administration had dubbed the area where they were settled as a slum and wanted them to evict the place.

The local Sikhs had contributed immensely to the state of Meghalaya and should be integrated, the delegation felt.

The delegation also visited Gurdwara Nanak Darbar, where gurdwara President Gurjeet Singh apprised them of the lease status of the premises and complained that attempts were being by the incumbent government in Meghalaya to forcibly evict them.

The gurdwara management had filed a contempt petition in the Meghalaya High Court, Gurjeet told the delegation.

Apart from Randhawa, the delegation includes MP Jasbir Singh Dimpa and MLAs Kulbir Singh Zira and Kuldeep Singh Vaid and Special Secretary (planning) D.S. Mangat.



Democratic support for Trump impeachment rises: CNN Poll

Democrats are increasingly in support of impeaching US President Donald Trump and removing him from office but the majority of Americans remain opposed to the prospect, according to a new CNN Poll.

Trump’s approval rating, meanwhile, holds exactly even with where it was in late April — 43 per cent approve and 52 per cent disapprove of the President, the poll revealed on Sunday.

Trump’s overall approval rating is about on par with Ronald Reagan’s rating at this point in 1983, and above Jimmy Carter’s 32 per cent at this point in 1979.

Meanwhile, support for impeachment rose slightly from 37 per cent last month to 41 per cent now.

The shift on impeachment stems mostly from a rebound in support for it among Democrats — 76 per cent favour it currently, up from 69 per cent in April. Whites who hold college degrees have also increased their support for impeachment.

In surveys in April and March, fewer than three in 10 in that group favoured proceedings, but that number has now climbed to 41 per cent.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has resisted calls to open an impeachment inquiry into the President, sees her approval rating hold mostly steady in the new poll (40 per cent view her favourably, 48 per cent unfavourably).

About two-thirds of all Americans (67 per cent) have said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller ought to publicly testify before Congress, including majorities of Democrats (88 per cent) and independents (62 per cent) and about half of Republicans (49 per cent).

The CNN Poll was conducted on May 28 through 31 among a random national sample of 1,006 adults.


Social Media

Tech giants pledge support for Christchurch Call  

Tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Amazon have come out in support of Christchurch Call which aims to address terrorist and violent content online via a nine-point plan.

“The terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March were a horrifying tragedy. And so it is right that we come together, resolute in our commitment to ensure we are doing all we can to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence,” the tech companies said in a joint statement on late Wednesday.

The White House, however, announced that it would not be endorsing a call from international leaders to combat online extremism as a response to Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand.

In a statement, the White House said that it “was not currently in a position to join the endorsement.”

After the New Zealand attacks at two mosques in Christchurch city that claimed 51 lives in March, Facebook claimed it removed 1.5 million videos of the attacks within the first 24 hours itself. It also said it blocked 1.2 million of them at upload, meaning they would not have been seen by users.

Facebook’s Vice President for Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg joined G7 government and industry leaders on Wednesday for a meeting in Paris on how to curb the spread of terrorism and extremism online.

At the meeting, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Facebook along with Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Amazon signed up to the Christchurch Call to Action.

“We are sharing concrete steps we will take that address the abuse of technology to spread terrorist content, including continued investment in technology that improves our capability to detect and remove this content from our services, updates to our individual terms of use, and more transparency for content policies and removals,” said the companies.

As part of collaborative actions, the companies would develop a shared understanding of the contexts in which terrorist and violent extremist content is published and to improve technology to detect and remove terrorist and violent extremist content more effectively and efficiently.



Modi files nomination from Varanasi, NDA stands in support

Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed his nomination papers for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on Friday.

Modi won the Varanasi seat in 2014 with a massive margin of 3.37 lakh votes.

In an impressive show of strength, the entire top leadership of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was present at the nomination.

BJP President Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Ram Vilas Paswan and Piyush Goyal, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Assam Chief Minister Sarvanand Sonowal and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray were among those present.

AIADMK leader M. Thambidurai and Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam were also present.

The Prime Minister, in a touching gesture, touched the feet of Akali Dal leader Prakash Singh Badal, one of the senior-most politicians in the country, and sought his blessings.

Union Minister Anupriya Patel said: “There is no doubt that the Modi government is returning to power with full force. The road show in Varanasi shows the kind of support that the Prime Minister has got from the people.”

Paswan also reiterated that the NDA would return to power with a greater majority and asserted that the elections were a mere formality.

Jagdish Chaudhary, a member of the Dom Raja family, which helps perform the last rites at Varanasi’s Manikarnika Ghat, Subhash Gupta, a veteran BJP leader, and Nandita Shastri, the principal of a women’s college were among those who proposed Modi’s name.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister held a meeting with party workers in which he is said to have laid down the strategy for campaigning.

“All party workers must take it upon themselves to get the Modi app on the phones of all first time voters and ask them to look at the positive news surrounding our government,” he said.

“A pro-incumbency wave has been seen in country for the first time after independence. People across the nation are saying, ‘Fir ek baar.. Modi Sarkar’. Political pundits will analyze this pro-incumbency wave later,” he said.

He told party workers to respect all candidates contesting the elections as they are also part of the democratic process.

“Don’t get influenced by our fights in election rallies. No candidate is our enemy. They are all part of the democratic process. Respect them all,” he stated.

He added: “We need to break some records in Varanasi. I have always wished that a number of women voters’ turnout will be more than men. I couldn’t do this in Gujarat, but you can do it Varanasi. I have faith in you.

“Kashi has been won. Kashi was won by the party and party workers on Thursday night. Now, the polling booths are the only thing left to be won in Kashi.”

Modi then visited the Kaal Bhairav temple and offered prayers.

Varanasi will go to polls on May 19 in the last phase of elections.


IMB News Room

Public support for Kanhaiya Kumar looks very good as of now

Kunal Kamra and Actor Prakash Raj, who reached Begusarai in support of Kanhaiya Kumar



BJP failed to support farmers, job seekers: Congress

Calling BJP’s manifesto as “Jumlafesto 2.0”, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi on Thursday attacked the Narendra Modi government for “failing to alleviate farm distress and generate jobs” as the country went to polls for the first phase.

“It will take 28 years to double farmers’ incomes at this GDP growth rate. For farmers’ income to double by 2022, it will have to grow by 12 per cent every year,” Singhvi said in a statement commenting on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s promise to double farm incomes by 2022.

Listing down BJP’s promises made in 2014 and in 2019, and stating how they were broken or were un-implementable, he said agriculture growth under the Modi government was abysmal at 2.9 per cent as against 4.2 per cent under the 10 years of UPA government.

After promising minimum support price (MSP) at 150 per cent of the cost of farm produce to farmers, the Modi government “shockingly” filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on February 20, 2015, stating that it was not possible to pay that much MSP.

The BJP has repeated its promise of pension to farmers in 2019 as it failed to take steps on welfare measures of farmers above 60 years of age in the last five years despite making a promise in 2014, he said.

Further, PM Modi’s farm insurance scheme for crop loss — Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana — only benefited the private insurance companies as they earned a profit of Rs 21,731 crore in the past four seasons, Singhvi said.

On economy and employment fronts, the Congress spokesperson said the government failed in carrying out banking reforms, encouraging household savings, reducing non-performing assets (NPAs) and creation of employment.

“Twenty-eight economic offenders like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya looted Indian banks of Rs 1 lakh crore and fled India under PM Modi’s watch. Half of the public sector banks are under PCA framework, i.e. no new loans can be given,” he said.

NPAs of scheduled commercial banks rose from Rs 2,51,054 crore as on March 31, 2014 to Rs 10,36,187 crore as on March 31, 2018 during the Modi government, he said, adding that experts are of the view that it will cross Rs 12 lakh crore by March 31, 2019.

Finally, Singhvi said the government failed to create 2 crore jobs per year and that there is no mention about employment generation in the 2019 manifesto. Citing the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), he said 4.7 crore jobs have been lost and that unemployment is at its highest in 45 years.

Three crore jobs of farm labourers have been lost, as per the NSSO, and 77 per cent of Indian workers will have vulnerable employment by 2019, according to the International Labour Organisation, he said.



China won’t support US draft to blacklist Masood Azhar

China on Thursday indicated that it won’t support the unilateral draft resolution circulated by the US to the UN Security Council (UNSC) to declare Masood Azhar, chief of the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), as an international terrorist and slammed Washington for its move.

Beijing also accused Washington of “bypassing” the UN 1267 Committee and eroding its authority.

Last month, China for the fourth time put on hold the resolution seeking a UN ban on Azhar, a terrorist wanted in India for plotting several deadly attacks including the February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing that killed 40 CRPF troopers in Kashmir.

China’s repeated blocking of such requests by India, the US and the UK and others have frustrated these countries.

The latest technical hold on the resolution by Beijing prompted the US to turn directly to the Security Council and unilaterally circulate a draft of such a request to declare Azhar an international terrorist.

“The US has bypassed the 1267 Committee and directly filed the draft of the resolution to the Security Council. This is not in line with the resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

He was responding to a question about the US circulating a draft banning Azhar in the UNSC outside the 1267 committee framework.

“This has reduced the authority of the committee as the main anti-terrorism body of the Security Council. This is not conducive to the solidarity and will only complicate the issue. We urge the US to act cautiously and avoid forcefully moving forward this resolution draft,” Geng added.

“I shall say that China has never denied such a draft… We just put a technical hold.”

While putting a hold on the resolution, which was proposed by the UK, US, and France, China sought time to explain the rationale behind the move. Its time runs out this week.

Beijing shields its ally Pakistan where it has billions of dollars of investments as part of its massive Belt and Road project.

“The relevant country filed an application to list Masood at the committee 1267. Since China needs more time to conduct an in-depth and comprehensive review, we put forward a technical hold on the listing on March 13. This is in line with the rule of procedure of the committee and there are some precedent cases of such technical holds,” Geng said.

“The listing of Masood involves a series of complex factors and China has also been working seek a proper solution through dialogue.

“Under the current circumstances, the Security Council should act in a prudential way to play a constructive role and create necessary time and space for the relevant parties to conduct dialogue and negotiations,” Geng added.



UK NSA promises support to India in countering terrorism

The UKs National Security Advisor (NSA) Mark Sedwill spoke to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on Thursday and expressed solidarity with India in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.

Sources said Sedwill conveyed that all assistance will be extended to India bilaterally in dealing with any form of terrorism through counter-terrorism cooperation, intelligence sharing and by bringing the perpetrators of terrorist attacks to justice.

Earlier in the week, US NSA John Bolton had spoken to Doval over the prevailing situation between India and Pakistan following the February 14 Pulwama attack and the retaliatory Indian air strikes on terror camps in Pakistan.



CPI-M to support Congress where it is in direct contest with BJP

The CPI-M on Monday said that in order to defeat the BJP-led alliance and ensure an alternative secular government is formed at the Centre, it would lend support to the Congress in states where it is in direct contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The party said that in West Bengal, it won’t go for mutual contest in the present six sitting Lok Sabha seats which are currently held by Congress and the Left Front.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist’s Central Committee had earlier decided that the party will adopt suitable tactics to ensure the maximization of the pooling of anti-BJP and anti-Trinamool Congress votes.

At a meeting of its Central Committee here on Monday, it reiterated that its electoral tactics in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections will be based on defeating the BJP alliance, increasing the strength of the CPI-M and the Left in the Lok Sabha, and ensure that an alternative secular government is formed at the Centre.

“In order to ensure the maximum pooling of anti-BJP votes, state level electoral tactics are being worked out. In states where the direct contest is between the Congress and BJP, the CPI-M will contest one or two seats and campaign generally for the defeat of the BJP,” it said in a statement.

The party added that in Tamil Nadu, discussions were on for seat sharing with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra for contesting Dindori or Palghar seats where it “independently polls around a lakh votes each”.

In Bihar, talks are being held with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) for contesting Ujiarpur seat in Samastipur district, it said.

“In Odisha, where simultaneous elections will be held, the CPI-M will contest the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha and a few Assembly seats including its sitting seat Bonnai. It calls upon the people of Odisha to defeat the BJP,” it added.

It said the Left Front was meeting on March 8 to finalise the other seats.



Putin calls Modi, conveys support in fight against terrorism

Russian President Vladimir Putin called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi over phone on Thursday and conveyed solidarity of the Russian people with India’s people in the fight against terrorism.

He also expressed his deep condolences on the Pulwama terrorist attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

An official release said that Modi thanked Putin for Russia’s steadfast support for India’s efforts to protect its interests against cross-border terror attacks.

He renewed India’s commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism as a pillar of privileged and special strategic partnership.

Both leaders agreed that all concerned should stop all support to terrorism.

Both the leaders also agreed that the growing cooperation between the two countries will take their Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership “from strength to strength”.

President Putin reiterated the invitation to the Prime Minister to attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok later this year.

Modi welcomed the invitation and underscored the significance of growing economic cooperation, including in the Russian Far East, between the two countries.



Jammu and Kashmir parties rise in support of Article 35A

All mainstream politicians in Jammu and Kashmir have come out in defence of Article 35A that gives the state legislature powers to define the residents of the state and their privileges.

Amid intense speculation that the central government might favour abrogation of Article 35A when the petition challenging its constitutional validity comes up for hearing in the Supreme Court later this week, Kashmiri politicians say any tinkering with the Article would be “playing with fire”.

The state government has said its stand on Article 35A remains unchanged as it would seek an adjournment in the apex court when the matter comes up for hearing.

Rohit Kansal, state government’s spokesman said on Sunday the state had sought adjournment of the hearing on February 11 and it would do the same when the petition comes up for hearing later this week.

Reacting to speculations, former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah said, “We owe it to our future generations to safeguard our political identity and special status that our ancestors and our founding leaders fought for. “The forces that are sponsoring these elaborate assaults on the state’s special status have been inimical to its interests and political identity from the very first day, but we fought them then and will fight them now.”

Another former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, “Article 370 is the constitutional connection between J&K & the Indian Union. Instrument of accession is contingent on Article 370, which is inextricably linked to Article 35A. Any tampering will render the Treaty of Accession null & void.”

State Congress chief G.A. Mir told IANS, “Special status granted to J&K is a settled issue and any misadventure with regard to Article 35A would further deepen the alienation among the people, the fires of which will engulf the entire J&K state.”

Former CPI-M legislator Yusuf Tarigami has filed an interventional application in the apex court thereby becoming a party to the legal proceedings regarding Article 35A.

“The special status guaranteed to the state of J&K under the Constitution of India, which has assumed the permanent feature of the Constitution, requires protection as any alteration would be against the policy of federalism envisaged by the framers of the Constitution,” Tarigami’s application in the Supreme Court has said in defence of the Article.

However, the strongest views have come from former Minister and Peoples Conference (PC) president Sajad Lone. “Any tampering with the special constitutional character of J&K would mean the death of mainstream thought in the state. If the Centre wants to slaughter the mainstream thought they are most welcome, and that is what they will be doing by tinkering with Article 35A,” Lone said.

Lone’s party is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and he was inducted into the PDP-BJP cabinet as a minister from the BJP quota. The alliance, however, collapsed in June last year when the BJP withdrew from the ruling coalition.

He also took strong exception to the recent arrests of Jamaat-e-Islami cadres in the Valley. Arresting people with dissenting voices would only create another generation of separatists in Kashmir as jails had been training schools for separatists in the past, he said.

“The first, second, third and fourth line of separatist leadership evolved from those who were jailed. Now they are aged. This crackdown would give rise to a new generation of separatist leadership in the Valley for the next 30 years,” he said.

Article 35A empowers the J&K legislature to define permanent residents of the state and give them special rights and privileges. It was added to the Constitution through a Presidential order on May 14, 1954.


India Science & Technology

Twitter asked to support free and fair Lok Sabha polls, ensure no bias

A parliamentary panel on Monday asked Twitter executives to ensure that the content on their platform supports “free and fair” Lok Sabha elections and it does not face allegations of bias or politically motivated practices.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, also told Twitter to talk to Election Commission officials and ensure “real-time compliance” with the guidelines concerning free and fair elections.

Colin Crowell, global Vice President of Public Policy of Twitter, deposed before the Parliamentary Committee headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur.

The meeting lasted about three-and-a-half hours. Sources said he answered a few questions and assured to get back with answers to others in 10 days.

“The Lok Sabha elections should be free and fair. There should not be the kind of complaints as in the US,” Thakur told reporters later.

Thakur said that Twitter officials have been asked to meet Election Commission officials.

“There should be real-time compliance,” he said.

The meeting comes after a complaint was submitted to the panel alleging an “anti-rightwing” bias on Twitter.

Technology executives have appeared before US lawmakers over allegations of political influence activity on their sites as also that relating to user privacy.

Thakur said that public policy heads of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have been called to appear before the parliamentary panel on March 6.




Pulwama terror attack; INC pledges Opposition support to Govt

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday asserted that terrorism cannot divide India and pledged the support of the entire Opposition to the government in the wake of Thursday’s terror attack in Pulwama that killed 45 CRPF troopers.

Strongly condemning the attack, the worst-ever in Jammu and Kashmir, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too said that the day was for mourning and not raising politically contentious issues. 

“This is a terrible tragedy and this type of violence done against the most valuable Indians – our soldiers – is absolutely disgusting. We want to make it clear that the aim of terrorism is to divide this country and we are not going to be divided for even one second,” Gandhi told the media here.

Gandhi promised not to raise any contentious and political issues over the next two days and said, “The entire opposition stands together with our soldiers and the government. No force, no amount of hatred or anger can affect even one inch of the love and affection that the country is built on.

“Those who committed the violence should not believe that they can hurt us. They should realise that this country doesn’t forget such things.”

Manmohan Singh too expressed his grief over the tragedy and said, “We shall never compromise with terrorist forces and we will work together as one united nation to deal with terrorism.

“Terrorism is a scourge, it is something with which we can never compromise. Today is not a day to raise contentious issues. Our role is to convey our heartfelt condolences and the Congress party stands in full support of our soldiers. We will do all that is necessary to keep this nation united in support of anti-terrorist measures.”



Vietnam offers support to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh; UN

United Nations World Food Programme in Bangladesh said it welcomed a new contribution of $50,000 from Vietnam to support operations in Coxs Bazar – home to nearly one million Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.

“We are very grateful to Vietnam for stepping up to assist people living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director, in a statement.

“This remains a serious humanitarian emergency, and continued support from the international community is vital if we are to keep providing the humanitarian assistance that is so badly needed.”

Vietnam’s new aid was announced by the Special Envoy of Prime Minister, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Quoc Dzung, during a visit to Bangladesh, according to WPF.

“Although this is a modest contribution, we are hopeful that our support will advance the response to this crisis situation,” he said.

Vietnam joins dozens of other states who have pledged their support to the Cox’s Bazar response since the August 2017 refugee influx, said WFP, which provides food assistance to more than 870,000 refugees per month at the sprawling refugee settlement.

The UN agency also provides nutritional and livelihood support to the host community at Cox’s Bazaar, with the aim of helping the most vulnerable, WFP said.

Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned.

Over 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Cox’s Bazar since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence by Myanmar’s military in Northern Rakhine State. Thousands of other Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh during previous periods of repression in Myanmar.

Vietnam offers support to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: UN



Meghalaya CM flies to Delhi to seek support against Citizenship Bill

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Sunday flew to New Delhi to seek support of various political parties in opposing the Citizenship Bill, which is likely to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

“I am leaving for New Delhi to meet leaders of those political parties who have promised us of their support… to oppose the Bill if it is tabled in the Rajya Sabha,” Sangma told IANS.

He said the national general body meeting of his National People’s Party (NPP) on Saturday had resolved to snap ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, if the bill is tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to remove hurdles for eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in getting Indian citizenship.

“I have impressed upon the Central government about the northeast’s people opposing the Bill. The party cannot go against the wishes of the people. Moreover, the citizenship bill, once it becomes a law, will change the demography of the region and ethnic communities in the region will be reduced to a minorities,” Sangma said.

He and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga had earlier met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to express their opposition to the Bill.

Sangma’s NPP, along with other northeast-based regional parties including the Asom Gana Parishad – which had already severed ties with the BJP in Assam – had sought support of several political parties to prevent passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Sangma had earlier hinted at snapping ties with the BJP if the latter goes ahead with the bill. The NPP is supporting the BJP-led government in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and the People’s Democratic Alliance government in Nagaland and has the BJP’s support in Meghalaya.

Meghalaya CM flies to Delhi to seek support against Citizenship Bill



‘Chrome 73’ to support commands from keyboard multimedia keys

The next version of Google’s search browser “Chrome 73” would come with support for multimedia keys on desktop and laptop keyboards, the media reported.

The feature would initially support “play”, “pause”, “previous track”, “next track”, “seek backward”, and “seek forward” keyboard commands as part of “Google Chrome 73”, that is scheduled to release next month, Engadget reported on Friday. 

The support for multimedia is being added at the browser level rather than the tab level, hence the multimedia buttons would work even when Chrome is operating in the background or is minimised.

“If you’re watching a YouTube video and you pull up another app while the video is playing, hitting the pause button will still stop it,” the report explained.

The feature would first be made available for Chrome OS, macOS and Windows and reach Linux users later this year.

The new addition would also ship with a “Media Session API” that would enable developers to customise how their sites and apps interact with multimedia keys.

Chrome would be the first browser to offer such support, the report added.



Kanimozhi extends support to Mamata’s sit-in on Monday

Tamil Nadu MP Kanimozhi on Monday extended her support to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s sit-in protest over the CBI’s attempt to question the Kolkata Police chief in connection with a ponzi scheme scam.

In a tweet, Kanimozhi said: “Anyone who cares for Democracy, Federalism and Constitution must stand with Ms @MamataOfficial.”

Banerjee started her protest on Sunday night in Kolkata’s Dharamtala area after Central Bureau of Investigation officers showed up near the residence of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.

The Trinamool Congress supremo has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah of attempting a coup to destabilise her state, saying there is a “constitutional break-down”.

On Sunday night, DMK President Stalin also extended his support to Banerjee.

“The independence of every institution has been compromised under this fascist BJP Government. I stand with @MamataOfficial Didi in her fight to protect the federal structure of this country and to save democracy,” he said in a tweet.

Kanimozhi extends support to Mamata's sit-in



Rahul speaks to Mamata, expresses support to sit-in against Centre

Congress President Rahul Gandhi and several other opposition leaders on Sunday extended their full support to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in her sit-in against the Centre over CBI move in the state, saying the happenings in Bengal were part of the unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and DMK leader M. K. Stalin were among leaders who expressed their solidarity with Banerjee in tweets.

However, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury attacked both Banerjee and the BJP accusing both of “drama”.

Gandhi, who spoke to Banerjee, said in a tweet that the “entire opposition will stand together and defeat these fascist forces.”

“I spoke with Mamata Di tonight and told her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her. The happenings in Bengal are a part of the unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Modi and the BJP. The entire opposition will stand together and defeat these fascist forces,” he said.

Kejriwal called Modi-Shah duo’s action is against democracy.

“Spoke to Mamta didi and expressed solidarity. Modi-Shah duo’s action is completely bizarre and anti-democracy,” Kejriwal said.

Yadav, who also spoke to Banerjee, extended RJD’s support, “BJP has not only venomous and nefarious agenda against opposition leaders but Indian Administrative Service and Police Officers. Might visit Kolkata tomorrow,” he said.

Naidu said that, the Modi led BJP is losing all hope after opposition parties started uniting and started to fight together to save democracy.

“The misuse of institutions by the union government to victimise political opponents in States is reaching dangerous proportions. We strongly condemn the incidents happening in Kolkata, a glaring example of how Modi-Shah duo are destroying the institutions. Attacking political opponents in different States, few days before the Parliament elections commence, will have disastrous consequences in the country.”

Abdullah said he spoke to Banerjee to to convey the support of National Conference to her protest.

“The use of the CBI as a political tool has crossed all limits as has the Modi government’s misuse of institutions. A former CM having such little regard for India’s federalism is shocking,” he said.

Stalin said he stood with Banerjee in her fight to protect the federal structure of this country and to save democracy. “The independence of every institution has been compromised under this fascist BJP Government.”

Yechury said that corruption cases against TMC government in chit fund scam have been public for years but Modi government chose to stay quiet as top mastermind of the scam joined BJP.

“It does a drama to act now, after 5 years, and TMC leadership responds by staging a drama to protect its corrupt. This drama in Kolkata by BJP and TMC is not a fight for any principle but only to save their corrupt and hide their corruption. CPI(M) has fought both these undemocratic, corrupt, communal and dictatorial regimes in the Centre and the state and will continue to do so,” he said.

In an unprecedented confrontation with the Modi government, Banerjee began a sit-in on Sunday in Kolkata accusing the Centre of trying to run a parallel administration in states, saying there is a “constitutional break-down” after an ugly face-off between the CBI and the state police.

The showdown started after the federal probe agency’s officers showed up near the residence of Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, who has been under the scanner in connection with the CBI probe into the ponzi scheme scam case.

The events are expected to cast a shadow on the budget session of parliament on Monday with the opposition expected to vociferously raise the issue.

Rahul speaks to Mamata, expresses support to sit-in against Centre



Narendra Modi urges Trinamool to support Citizenship Bill

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress to support the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament to give the refugees living in India the right to citizenship.

Addressing a rally in West Bengal’s Thakurnagar, home to the Dalit Matua community, Modi said India is the only place that can provide shelter to thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and refugees of other communities, who came from neighbouring countries to save themselves from communal violence.

“After the country was divided during independence, thousands of people including the Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis had to take shelter in India due to communal violence.

“These refugees should get the right to citizenship. India is the only place that can provide them shelter,” Modi said addressing a packed ground here in North 24 Parganas district.

“That’s why our government has come up with Citizenship Amendment Bill. I urge the Trinamool Congress leaders to support the Bill and help the refugee brothers and sisters to get their rights,” he said.

The Lok Sabha has already cleared the Bill, which is now pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Taking a swipe at Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Modi said the massive gathering at his rally shows why Banerjee and her party were resorting to violence to stop the Bharatiya Janata Party here.

“After seeing the crowds and the enthusiastic scenes, I understand why didi (elder sister — as Banerjee is affectionately called) is resorting to violence.

“This is your love, which has scared those who are doing drama of saving democracy and are bent on killing innocent people,” he said.




Rs 64,587 cr budgetary support for railways in 2019-20; Goyal

Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said the government has allocated Rs 64,587 crore for railways in the Interim Budget for 2019-20.

Presenting the Interim Budget in Parliament, Goyal said: “Indian Railways has experienced its safest year in history. We are introducing container cargo movement to the North East.

“All unmanned level crossings on broad gauge network have been completely eliminated,” he said.

Speaking about the manufacture of engineless Train 18, Goyal said: “Vande Bharat Express will give Indian passengers world class facility, with speed, safety and service. This major leap developed by our engineers will give an impetus to Make in India programme and create jobs.”

He said: “Capital support from Budget for railways is proposed at Rs 64,587 crore for railways in 2019-20.

“In fact, railways’ overall capital expenditure programme is historic at Rs 1,58,658 crore.”

Goyal also said that the operating ratio of railways will come down to 95 per cent in 2019-20 from 96.2 per cent in 2018-19.

Rs 64,587 cr budgetary support for railways in 2019-20: Goyal