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After Karnataka, acid test of Maharashtra Legislative Council polls awaits BJP

Mumbai: After having quit ahead of the floor test in Karnataka assembly, elections to six local authorities constituencies in Maharashtra legislative council will prove another acid test for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). For the BJP, it will be a matter of prestige to wrest the Osmanabad-Latur-Beed local authorities constituency seat, while for the Shiv Sena winning Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg local authorities seat will be a matter of prestige. It will be a direct contest in almost all the six local authorities constituencies between Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena.

The stakes have been raised higher in the direct contest between Aniket Tatkare (NCP) and Rajiv Sable (Sena) in the Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency after Narayan Rane, Rajya Sabha MP of Maharashtra Swabhimani Paksha (MSP) leader extended his support to Tatkare of NCP. As the Sena hijacked BJP candidate in the Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll, the BJP has backed independent candidate Parvej Kokani in Nashik. There is a triangular contest between Narendra Darade (Sena), Shivaji Sahane (NCP) and Konkani.

In Wardha-Chandrapur-Gadchiroli constituency, it is yet another direct contest between Ramdas Ambatkar (BJP) and Indrakumar Saraf (Congress). In Parbhani-Hingoli constituency, although it is a direct contest between Suresh Deshmukh (Congress) and Viplave Bajoria (Sena), the BJP has kept its rebel candidate Suresh Nagre in the fray just to upset the Sena’s poll calculations.  In Amravati, it is a direct contest between Pravin Pote-Patil (BJP) who is minister of state for Industries and Anil Madhogarhia of Congress.

Besides the Raigad seat, the stakes are higher in the elections to the Osmanabad-Latur-Beed, where it is a battle of prestige between minister Pankaja Munde Dhanajay Munde, leader of opposition in Legislative Council. There is direct contest between Suresh Dhas, former NCP minister and now BJP candidate and NCP backed Independent candidate Ashok Jagdale. Out of the six local authorities constituencies that are going to polls on May 21, three seats are currently held by NCP, 2 by BJP and 1 by Congress.

Karnataka elections 2018: HD Kumaraswamy wants Gandhis to keep leaders with ‘wish list’ at bay

Bengaluru: With pressure for plum portfolios mounting from Karnataka Congress leaders, chief minister designate and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy is rushing to Delhi on Monday for an urgent meeting with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

Sources in the JD(S) said Kumaraswamy is besieged with demands for portfolios — not from the Karnataka PCC chief but from top local leaders. These leaders are demanding key portfolios like Home, Finance, Power and PWD. Clearly fed up with the demands, Kumaraswamy wants either Sonia or Rahul to give a list of leaders to be included in the Cabinet and their respective portfolios.

The sources said Kumaraswamy has made up his mind on the JD-S portfolios and there would be no compromise on these. On Sunday, he met his father and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda at his residence and had a detailed discussion on government formation. The senior Gowda has reportedly ticked the portfolios that the JD(S) will keep.

HDK will have detailed discussion with Sonia and Rahul on the modalities of the power sharing agreement. In the new dispensation, the state may have not one but two deputy chief ministers with one position going to Congress leader G Parameshwara. Two Deputy Chief Ministers will help strike a balance between the two parties. HDK will also be extending an invitation to the two leaders to attend the swearing in ceremony. In all probability, the chief minister designate will take oath alone. The rest of his cabinet is likely to take oath only after the trust vote, which is likely on Thursday.

Based on the outcome of the discussions with the Gandhis, a decision will be taken on the number of Congress and JD(S) MLAs who will become ministers, Kumaraswamy told the media. HDK, however, made it clear that there will be no rotational chief minister and power-sharing formula of 30 months each between the parties. This is speculation and “bogus,” he said.

There was a power-sharing formula earlier between the JD(S) and BJP in 2007 which collapsed when Kumaraswamy refused to go by the agreement and hand over power to Yeddyurapppa. After meeting the governor, Kumaraswamy had said on Saturday the swearing-in ceremony would take place tentatively between 12 noon and 1.50 pm at Kanteerava stadium on May 21. But, later he announced that the event would be held on May 23 as May 21 happens to be the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The venue of the swearing-in is also likely to be changed, with party sources now saying it is likely to take place at Vidhana Soudha (the seat of the state legislature).

Female journalist groped by bike-borne youth in Colaba, molester arrested

Mumbai: A Delhi-based female journalist, who was in the city last week with her two colleagues on an office assignment, was groped by a bike-borne youth in upscale Colaba in the wee hours of May 16. The police have arrested the molester, identified as Love Anand Kule (19), who lives in Sundar Nagar area of Colaba.

The visiting group of scribes had booked a hotel in Colaba where they reached late night on Monday in taxi. The female scribe was on a phone call when the youth reached nearby and groped her, said a senior police officer. “I was in Mumbai with my two colleagues and we were staying in a hotel. After completing part of our work, we returned to Colaba late on Monday night. Both of my colleagues entered the hotel premises while I was busy talking to someone over phone. Suddenly a bike-borne youth came close to me and groped me.

For a fraction of a second, I did not realise what was happening but immediately I shouted for help. The security guards, standing nearby, ran to help but the bike-borne youth managed to give them a slip. The same night I reached registered an FIR at Colaba police station,” the victim said, narrating her ordeal to the Free Press Journal. A police officer said the crime scene was not under the surveillance of CCTV camera. The investigators nonetheless vetted footage of over two dozen CCTV cameras installed in other shops and in the by-lanes that led to the crime scene.

“In CCTV footage, we saw one biker doing the rounds. He was seen following the victim who was busy on her phone; however, the registration number of his motorcycle was illegible. We sent the grab of CCTV footage to different WhatsApp groups of beat chowkies and got the lead as his (molester’s) body language was confirmed by one local resident of Colaba,” the senior officer said. A team of police reached his house in plain clothes and arrested Kule, who has been booked under section of 354 (molestation) of the IPC. The police have also seized his motorcycle. The senior officer added that he could also be booked for stalking, that is 354 (D), in the charge-sheet of the case.

103 residents of Girgaon, facing eviction, threaten to end lives

Mumbai: The residents of Krantinagar area in Girgaon have threatened to end their lives after the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority pasted notices asking them to vacate buildings which are over 100-years-old.

The residents have alleged that the planning authority, which looks after land related matters, had pasted the notices asking residents living in 19 buildings to vacate without prior notice. Out of these 19 structures, residents living in three buildings, which house more than 103 families, have aired their grievance through a local citizen group named Amhi Girgaonkar and propose to petition Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis.

These residents are primarily affected by the Metro 3 corridor which connects Colaba to Bandra and Seepz. The work is going on in the area for past one and a half year. On Sunday, at least 40 people took to streets armed with a letter to be sent to Fadnavis. They have threatened to end their lives, in case they are not provided with proper rehabilitation. They have also requested the authority to personally look into the matter and sort it out before it is too late.

The residents have alleged that the notice was pasted on April 24, after which several meetings were held with the authorities. “After the notice was pasted by the MMRDA, there were meetings with us wherein they provided a provisional agreement stating that rehabilitation will be given to project affected persons. We, in turn, requested the authority to provide residents with a registered agreement. But there is no clarity till date on the rehabilitation of these 103 families,” said Dattaram Gawde, a member of the local citizen group.

The members from this group also alleged that the officials kept changing the area to be earmarked for construction. “The officials now say they need to work in a 1200 square meters area, instead of the earlier 90 square  meters area. There are families which have shops on the ground floor; senior citizens also live in the area. Their demand is for rehabilitation within a 500 meters radius of the area,” said Shilpa Nayak, Secretary of Amhi Girgaonkar. MMRDA officials were not available when contacted.

BJP government sleep walks into UPA era as petrol, diesel prices touch all-time highs

New Delhi: The BJP government seems to be sleep walking into the UPA era of high petrol prices, oblivious to the fact that rising prices of petrol and diesel were among the reasons that brought down the UPA government of Manmohan Singh.

In May 2012, the UPA government had approved the steepest ever hike in petrol prices across the country. Petrol price in New Delhi had then reached Rs 73.18 a litre. On Sunday, petrol was available at Rs 76.24 in New Delhi and at Rs 84.07/litre in Mumbai. Caught in its own false assumptions about the future, the government seems to be also blind to the effect this is having on core inflation and GDP numbers.

With global prices rising quickly, only excise can be reduced to cushion the blow, feel economists. But the fiscal situation may not permit such generosity. The fiscal situation is also getting stretched, especially at the state level due to extra fiscal obligations. These include farm loan waivers and additional burden of running centrally sponsored schemes. Sunday was the 7th consecutive day of price spike since oil PSUs on May 14 resumed daily price revision after a 19-day pre-Karnataka poll break.

As petrol price climbed to a new high, Mumbaikars were fretting and fuming in the social media, more so since they cough up more for fuels than their counterparts in other metros. Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg refuses to say whether the government will cut excise duty on auto fuel to ease the burden on consumers. The government is watching the situation developing from oil prices hitting $80 a barrel — the highest since November 2014, and adequate steps will be taken, is all he said without elaborating. “Just watch,” was his cryptic comment when pressed for a response.

A fair share of the blame for higher excise duties lies at the doorstep of the Centre. The BJP government has raised excise duty nine times — totalling Rs 11.77 per litre on petrol and Rs 13.47 on diesel — between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell, but then cut the tax just once in October last year by Rs 2 a litre.

It is not as if the Centre can’t absorb the higher cost. While Karnataka was in poll mode, there was a freeze on oil prices, even though international crude prices were spurting. Result: In the nearly 19-day freeze, Oil PSUs are estimated to have lost about Rs 500 crore by absorbing the higher cost resulting from the spike in international oil rates and fall in rupee against the US dollar. Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has, however, assured citizens that the government will soon find a solution to tackle the situation.

Talking to media, Pradhan said, “I accept that citizens of India, especially the middle-class, has to suffer a lot due to price hike of oil. It is not in our hand. There is less production of oil in OPEC countries. The Indian government will soon come out with a solution.”

In spite of heavy rains and stormy winds, in the Vikas yatra, the mass population: To understand the definition of development, see Chhattisgarh: Dr. Raman Singh

55 lakh families in three month smart phone in communication revolution plan

Chief Minister addressed the people in Kharagwan, Akrandand, Dukhola and Chirmiri

Chirmiri sub-tahsil will get tehsil status from July 1

The ground in which the grounds will be built, the best stadium

114 crore for expansion of Nagpur-Chirmiri railway line

Work on the project will start soon

Every project of SECL for public convenience

State government will give clearance to three days

Community health center status of Kharagwan Primary Health Center

Born between heavy rains and stormy winds, the people welcomed the historic welcome of Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh in KOREA district yesterday. The Chief Minister visited Chirmiri after addressing the reception of Kharagwana, Akrandand and Daqhola of the district in the development chariot and addressed the huge general meeting there. He said, "What is the definition of development, if anyone has to understand and see it, then the activities that are going on in Chhattisgarh should be looked at. Dr. Singh said that our government has made a new history through development works and schemes with the support of public for the development of Chhattisgarh in the past nearly 15 years. The Ganga of development has started flowing in every area of ​​the state. There has been a positive change in the life of the people of the village, the poor and the farmers as well as the last line of society. In the Korea District the network of roads has been laid.

           The Chief Minister accepted the greetings of the people by reaching out to the public in Charmiri's public meeting. Speaking to the people from the forum, Dr. Singh said that under the Communication Revolution scheme, 55 lakh families will be provided free smart phones in the next three months, through which the benefits of those schemes along with information of all the major schemes of the government Will be able to meet. He inaugurated the construction work of Bais Bhusujan and Shilanyas in the Chirmiri, about 457 crores for the development of the Korea district. In addition to this, Dr. Singh distributed 25 thousand 645 beneficiaries under various schemes of the government and distributed more than 68 crores 77 lakh rupees.

           Dr. Singh announced the development of this ground as a great stadium by addressing thousands of people in the vast field of Chirmiri. He also said that the sub-tehsil office of Chirmiri will be made a tehsil office from July 1. He said - one July ie one July. The board of sub-tehsil will be removed in Chirmiri and the board of tehsil office will be replaced at its place. I have instructed the District Collector to make necessary arrangements for this. The Chief Minister assured to get the work of Rs. 114 crore rail line expansion project from Nagpur to Chirmiri from Korea district. He said that 50% of the sanctioned amount will be given by center and 50% by the state government for expansion of this railway route. The Chief Minister also announced to sanction one crore 50 lakh rupees for tourism facilities in Chirmiri area. He said that in the field of Coal Mines, in this area, projects of development will be given to the state government within clearance of three days from the point of view of the convenience of public by South Eastern Coal Field Ltd (SECL). The Chief Minister is working on a water milling scheme at Chirmiri at a cost of 50 crores. Livelihoody College was also established here today, which would be very useful in terms of skill upgradation of the unemployed youth of the region. In the public meeting of Kharagwan, the Chief Minister announced the upgradation of primary health center of the community as a community health center.

An unprecedented welcome seen for the first time in the past 15 years.

           Referring to the presence of a large number of people despite heavy rains and storms in Khargwana and Chirmiri, Dr Raman Singh said that this region also could not prevent the storm and hurricanes of the people of the region. Dr. Singh expressed gratitude to all the people while expressing it the love and faith of the people. In the Chirmiri, he also greeted the general public on road shows. Dr. Singh said in a huge public meeting - I was told that it has been raining for two hours and the tent has become so wet. Despite this, the road shows of fifty thousand people in Chirmiri and such a large number of such public gatherings and unprecedented welcome were seen for the first time in the past 15 years. The Chief Minister specifically mentioned various schemes of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in the public meetings of Vikas Yatra. He said - The Prime Minister has initiated the Ujjwala scheme to provide crores of poor families of poor families with the help of stove smoke. Under this scheme, Chhattisgarh is being provided free of cost for only Rs.200, LPG connections, double burner stove and first filled silencer. Ayushman Bharat Scheme launched by Shri Narendra Modi is the biggest health insurance scheme in the country and the world, under which the poor will get assistance of up to five lakh rupees for the treatment of serious diseases. Minister of Commerce and Industry in the Khadgawan and Chirmiri programs along with Chief Minister and Shri Amar Agarwal, in-charge of Korea district, Public Works Minister, Mr. Rajesh Murat, Minister of Labor, Sports and Youth Welfare Shri Bhaiya Lal Rajwada, Parliamentary Secretary Smt. Champdavevi Padale and MLA Mr. Shyam Many senior public representatives of the district along with Bihari Jaiswal, representatives of panchayats and various institutions Treachery were also present.

Karnataka Elections 2018: Governor’s order calling BJP to form government shameful, says Ram Jethmalani to SC

New Delhi: Senior lawyer and noted jurist Ram Jethmalani on Friday told the Supreme Court that Karanataka governor’s Vajubhai Vala decision to call BJP for formation of government was “shameful” and “gross abuse of the constitutional power”.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan which had earlier refused to entertain any intervention application in the case allowed Jethmalani to speak on the matter. Jethmalani said “the governor’s order is a gross abuse of the constitutional power and this has brought disrepute to the constitutional office he is holding. His action is shameful”.

He said the order of governor allowing BJP to form government and prove its majority in 15 days was an “open invitation to corruption”. “I no longer have the physical energy but the intellectual energy keeps me going. I am not for any party in the case, but for myself. The Supreme Court must set the law right and uphold the majesty of law,” the 94-year old veteran lawyer said. To this, Justice Sikri said “Governor is a constitutional authority and court will decide on his action at the later stage”. Jethmalani had yesterday mentioned the matter for urgent listing after which the Chief Justice had listed the case before the bench headed by Justice Sikri.

Karnataka Elections 2018: Section 144 imposed in Mangalore ahead of floor test

Mangalore (Karnataka): Amid the political ruckus in Karnataka, section 144 has been imposed in Mangalore as a precautionary measure ahead of the Supreme Court’s order directing Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) B.S. Yeddyurappa to prove majority in the state assembly on Saturday.

The Supreme Court directed Yeddyurappa to prove the majority in the assembly at 4 p.m. on May 19. The decision was taken after the apex court heard the arguments for and against the petition filed by the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) following Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R. Vala’s invitation to the BJP to form the government in the state. Though the BJP emerged as a single largest party with 104 MLAs, they are short of the halfway mark of 112 by seven MLAs. The Congress and the JD(S) have entered into a post-poll alliance and together with 115 MLAs they are staking claim to form the government.

BMC urges 7,500 residents to vacate risky buildings before monsoon

Mumbai: The BMC has urged around 7,500 residents living in 619 dilapidated buildings across the city to vacate their homes before monsoon strikes. The civic body has identified 619 buildings in C-1 or “dangerous to live” category and issued notices to residents to vacate them. In 2017, the BMC had identified 791 dilapidated structures across the city. Buildings in the C-2 category require major structural repairs while those in the C-3 category need minor repairs.

As a part of a monsoon-preparedness initiative, the civic body identifies buildings at risk of collapse during rain every year. Of the 619 structures, the BMC has already had 72 buildings evacuated and is demolishing them, while a proposal to demolish 41 others has been tabled. Nidhi Choudhari, deputy municipal commissioner, said most buildings that require major repairs and are in a dangerous condition are from Kurla and Ghakopar, with 106 and 51 structures,

respectively. “Electricity and water connections of around 120 buildings have been snapped so far. We have also informed the police department about structures that need to be vacated,” Choudhari said, adding that a similar process is being followed for other dilapidated structures as well. Civic officials, however, point out that getting residents to leave their homes is difficult, as residents often go to court and get a stay on demolition. “A structural audit is carried out to check the condition of the building and declare the level of danger, a senior civic official said.

Following an evacuation notice from the BMC, around 70% of the residents of Chouhan building in Andheri (West) had vacated their houses fearing that the structure may collapse. Some residents who still occupy the homes fear that the building can collapse any moment and are of the opinion that the civic body should make some provision for residents.

Karnataka Elections 2018: BJP strategy is to induce abstention

Bengaluru: It was a day of political kite-flying and the rumour mills in IT city were in overdrive, spurred by mother of all jet fuels — claims, counter claims, allegations of abduction and a ‘bribe’ audio tape. Among all these imponderables, there will be a throw of dice with the numbers clearly stacked against the BJP.

In the heightened sense of uncertainty, one things is for sure – this weekend is going to witness a political drama, a thriller in which fair can be foul and foul fair. But the most controversial move, which muddied the waters, came in the evening with Governor Vajubhai Vala appointing 3-term BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as the pro tem speaker. Convention has it that the senior-most MLA should be the pro tem speaker — in the current situation, RV Deshpande, an 8-term lawmaker and former minister from the Congress.

The pro tem speaker can play a crucial role in the way the trust vote is conducted. He can interpret the rule books the way he thinks is right. And the rule book have many grey areas. The BJP strategy is not to provoke defections but to secure abstentions – by convincing MLAs to either refrain from voting, or steering them away from the Assembly. If the BJP gets Opposition lawmakers to abstain from voting, it brings down the effective strength of the house and the majority mark; the majority is decided on the basis of those present and voting, not the strength of the house. The other option is to get the Congress-JDS lawmakers to defy the party whip and vote in its favour.

But the problem here is that cross-voting comes under the ambit of Anti-Defection Law, and will be challenged by the Cong-JD-S combine. Incidentally, the Supreme Court reportedly turned down the attorney general’s request for a secret ballot, so we will know who has backed whom. However, when the final court order came out, there was no mention of the method of voting. As per rules, it is the speaker, not the courts, who will decide on the method of voting.

Hence, Bopaiah, if he continues to be the pro tem speaker, can decide if the voting is to be held by secret ballot. Moreover, if a member seeks division, the speaker is bound to call for secret voting. That’s what the BJP wants as there is a possibility of Congress-JD(S) MLAs either abstaining or cross-voting. Strictly speaking, the BJP is eight short of the majority mark of 111 (it won 104 seats but one of its lawmakers has been picked as Pro Tem Speaker for Friday, who can cast a vote only if there is a tie). The Congress and the Janata Dal Secular of HD Deve Gowda have 115 lawmakers.

Away from the noise and din, a dispassionate view is that the BJP does not have the numbers, the Congress-JD(S) combine has. Will Yeddyurappa end up as a 2-day Chief Minister?  But in politics, especially in a state like ‘Kar-nataka’, anything can happen. If the BJP fails to make it, Yeddyurappa has to resign and the Governor will invite the other group to prove their majority.

12 MLAs ARE IN TOUCH: BJP: On the ground, the Congress and the JD(S) whisked away their MLAs by bus late Thursday night to Hyderabad. But after the Supreme Court ordered the trust vote for Friday, the Congress made arrangements to bring them back. They have reportedly left Kurnool for Bengaluru in cars. The BJP claimed that 12 Congress MLAs and 8 JD(S) MLAs “are in touch” and that they will not vote for the Congress-JD(S) combine. But who these MLAs are was not clear.

The BJP also alleged that the Congress-JD(S) MLAs had been ‘‘kidnapped, brainwashed, mentally tortured and kept in isolation”. The Congress retaliated by putting out live pictures of 77 of the 78 MLAs having coffee in Hyderabad. The missing MLA was Anand Singh, a one-time BJP supporter and mining baron who switched sides to the Congress before elections. He is likely to sail with the BJP. JD(S) Karnataka CM candidate HD Kumaraswamy has said that the BJP had “hijacked” two of his MLAs. “But I’m certain they will come back,” he said.