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I am Hindu, why then RSS is hostile to me: Digvijaya Singh

Bhopal: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh asked on Thursday why the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was hostile to him, a Hindu. Singh, who is the Congress candidate from Bhopal, said he was a disciple of Shankaracharya, but he did not show off his faith.

“I have no dispute with the RSS. If the RSS is an organisation of Hindus, Digvijaya Singh too is a Hindu. Then why this hostility,” he said, when asked by reporters why the BJP dubs him as anti-RSS and anti-Hindu. “I am an anointed disciple of Dwarka and Jyotish PeethShankaracharya Swami SwaroopanandaSaraswati since 1983. Neither I tom-tom my faith from the rooftop nor do I exploit it during elections,” the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister said.

“Politics divides, it divides even families. Therefore religion should not be connected to politics,” the Congress leader said. To a question about BJP’s slogan of “Congress-Mukt Bharat” (Congress-free India), he said, “This was the mindset of Hitler…this mean no opposition. We are fighting this mindset.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised two crore jobs, but after note-ban, 27,000 jobs were lost every day, he claimed.

Lok Sabha elections 2019: Have sought ticket for Urmila Matondkar, says Milind Deora

Mumbai: Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora said on Thursday that the city unit of the party has requested the high command to give a Lok Sabha ticket to actor Urmila Matondkar. Matondkar joined the Congress Wednesday after meeting party president Rahul Gandhi.

It is likely that she would be nominated from Mumbai North, as the party has already announced candidates from other four seats in Mumbai which it would be contesting. Deora, who took charge as the new Mumbai Congress chief, replacing Sanjay Nirupam, said, “We have requested party chief Rahul Gandhi to nominate Matondkar as a candidate.” Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also said that Matondkar’s candidature will be declared soon. Speaking to reporters later, Matondkar said she wanted the politics of hatred which has grown by “leaps and bounds” in the last five years, to end. The money spent on “trolling and hatred” should have gone into development, she added.

Pulwama attack: Pakistan says no terror camps exist on 22 locations shared by India

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it has examined 22 “pin locations” shared by India but found no terror camps and claimed that there are no links to nail 54 people detained in connection with the Pulwama terror attack as it shared the “preliminary findings” with New Delhi.

Pakistan is willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations, the Foreign Office (FO) said. “While 54 detained individuals are being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama have been found so far,” it said. “Similarly, the 22 pin locations shared by India have been examined. No such camps exist. Pakistan is willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations,” the FO said.

It said that in consistent with its commitment to cooperate, Pakistan on Wednesday shared preliminary findings of its investigations with India along with a set of questions. India handed over the dossier to the Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan in New Delhi on February 27 with specific details of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)’s complicity in the Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel on February 14 and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan.

Lok Sabha elections 2019: All-women polling booths to be set up in 48 Maharashtra LS seats

Mumbai: An all-women polling booth will be set up in every Lok Sabha constituency of Maharashtra during the next month’s polls in a bid to encourage more female voters to exercise their franchise.

As per the Election Commission’s (EC) directions to set up polling stations entirely managed by women, such booths will be set up in all 40 Lok Sabha seats of the state, a release issued by the election office here said. “All those deployed at such polling stations – police, election officers and other employees – will be women. These booths, an initiative towards gender equality and involving women’s participation in the electoral process, will be called as ‘Sakhi Matdan Kendras’,” it said.

As per the EC’s guidelines, there would be no specific colour code for such polling stations, the release said, adding that their security will be a top priority. Sensitive polling stations will be kept out of this experiment while those near tehsil office or police stations will be considered to be managed by women, it said. Rangoli and other art forms would be used to make these booths more attractive and to lay emphasis on cleanliness, it added.

The number of women voters this time hasincreased to 911 per 1,000 men, as against 889 per 1,000 men in 2014, as per official figures. Out of the total 8,73,29,910 voters in the state, 4,57,01,877 are men, 4,16,25,950 women and 2,083 third gender voters. Lok Sabha elections will be held in Maharashtra in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29 and results will be declared on May 23.

A-SAT missile project began two years ago, went into “mission mode” in last six months, says DRDO Chairman

New Delhi: After successfully conducting an A-SAT or anti-satellite missile test yesterday, the Chairman of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) revealed in an interview with ANI that the project to develop this rare missile capability was green-lit two years ago.

“The NSA (Ajit Doval) whom we report to on strategic matters gave the direction to go ahead with the test and he had the concurrence from the Prime Minister. The development started a few years back and we went into mission mode in the last 6 months,” said DRDO’s Chairman G Satheesh Reddy in an exclusive interview to ANI. Reddy also added that in the last 6 months when the A-SAT missile programme entered “mission mode” level, about 100 scientists worked round-the-clock to reach the intended launch date target that was set.

The A-SAT missile was launched at approximately 11:16 AM on Tuesday from Odisha’s Balasore and within three minutes of launch, it successfully hit the intended target, a de-commissioned Indian satellite, in a “Low-Earth Orbit” at roughly 300 km from the Earth’s surface. “Some time ago, our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 kilometres away in space, in Low-Earth Orbit… It was conducted under Mission Shakti, which was completed in three minutes,” PM Modi said in his 10-minute televised address.

India enters elite space club by successfully testing anti-satellite missile A-SAT, announces PM Modi

When asked the reason behind choosing a 300 km-altitude range for the target, Reddy said that protecting nearby space assets had to be considered. “As a responsible nation we wanted to be sure all space assets were safe and all the debris decayed fast,” added DRDO Chairman Reddy. Shortly after PM Modi’s televised address announcing the success of “Mission Shakti”, India’s Ministry of External Affairs released a detailed note informing the World that India’s actions were only to augment its deterrence capabilities and did not intend to trigger an arms race in space.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement responding to India’s A-SAT test which read, “We have noticed reports and hope that each country will uphold peace and tranquillity in outer space.” With the success of “Mission Shakti”, India has now entered an elite club of three nations – United States, Russia and China, with similar missile technology. This sort of missile application enables a country to attack and disrupt enemy satellites, thereby affecting communication networks.  India’s A-SAT missile was an indigenous build.

“We have hit the target by ‘Kinetic kill’- that means by directly hitting the satellite. This calls for many technologies which we have developed completely indigenously in the country and we have achieved accuracy within a few centimetres…a very high level of accuracy,” said Reddy in an exclusive interview to ANI.

Will contest Lok Sabha elections if Congress asks: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Amethi: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said she will contest the elections if her party asks her. However, she said her own wish is to work for the party’s organisation.

“If my party asks me to contest the polls, I will definitely do so. But my personal wish is to work for the party’s organisation as a lot of work needs to be done,” the Congress leader told reporters. She said, “I have told party workers that it is very important you campaign properly this election. You should go to each and every house, and tell people that this election is to save the nation. Not Rahul Gandhi, but the nation should win this election.” Taking on UP Chief Minister’s Yogi Adityanath’s jibe that she visits temples only during elections, Priyanka Gandhi  asked whether he knows anything about her.

The Congress general secretary in-charge of the state’s eastern districts kicked off second leg of her campaign on Wednesday with the visit to Amethi, her brother Rahul Gandhi’s constituency, and is scheduled to reach Ayodhya, where the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site is located, on Friday. When asked whether she will visit the makeshift temple which houses the idol of Lord Ram or “Ram Lalla (infant Ram)”, Priyanka Gandhi said, “I haven’t checked my schedule.”

‘Chowkidars’ only working for rich and do not care about poor: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
In an oblique reference to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dig at the Congress’ minimum income promise, she said her party preaches what it practices. “See the Congress had said that it will waive off the loans of farmers, and within 10 days of coming to power in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, it was done,” Priyanka Gandhi said. Hitting back at BJP’s criticism of previous Congress governments failing to remove property, she said, “Obviously all the problems have not been solved. Obviously some people are still poor. A large number of people are suffering. But there is a lot of work that has been done.”

She said the issues on which her party is fighting this elections are farm distress and lack of jobs. “I think the defining issue is that farmers are suffering. They have got no help from the government, they say that they do not get seeds and fertilisers on time. In some places, seeds are costing them more than their crop. They are in debt, and there is nobody to support them and nobody to help them,” she said.

“There is gross unemployment. Jobs were promised, they were not given. There are thousands of young people who are unemployed. I see them everywhere, I see them everywhere I go. When I ask have you got a job, they say ‘no’,” Priyanka Gandhi said, adding that no government has performed as badly on employment as the NDA has. She also said that a number of issues have been politicised, which should not have been done. The Congress leader also congratulated DRDO scientists for successful testing of India’s anti-satellite missile capabilities. “I am very very proud of DRDO, which is one of India’s great institutions founded by Jawaharlal Nehru,” she said.

Congress workers in Nagpur support me even though they are not campaigning for me: Nitin Gadkari

Nagpur: Union minister and BJP candidate from the Nagpur Lok Sabha seat Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday claimed that he is getting phone calls from Congress workers pledging support to him.

The BJP stalwart kick-started his campaigning and said he will seek votes on the basis of development work done by him in the constituency, which will vote on April 11. Gadkari said he is getting best wishes from non-BJP parties, including the opposition Congress. “I have worked for all irrespective of their caste, religion, language and party affiliation. A huge number of Congress workers and office-bearers phone me and tell me not to worry,” claimed Gadkari.

Water problem main issue in Maharashtra, says Nitin Gadkari
“They say though we are physically there (in the Congress), our hearts are with you (Gadkari) and hence I have support from all,” he added. He asked the BJP workers to reach out to the people with confidence and advised them to be humble in their conduct. He also told them to understand the difference between confidence and arrogance. “One should have confidence but not arrogance. Hence, reach out to the public with humility and tell them about the work done by the party,” he said.

Seeking re-election from Nagpur, Gadkari said he will win the upcoming poll with a bigger margin than in 2014 and announced that he had initiated developmental projects worth Rs 70,000 crore in the constituency. “I have decided not to take the name of opposition candidates and not criticise any party. I will tell the people about the work that I have done and will seek the votes on the basis of work done by me,” said Gadkari.

“We have completed the works promised in the last manifesto. We should not give false assurances to public. We will do what we have assured. We will say what we have done,” said the Union minister. The Union minister inaugurated the Central Election Campaigning Office of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in Nagpur and asked the workers not to comment on anyone’s statements. “The public is intelligent and knows everything. We have done our work and won the trust of people. People love us irrespective of caste, religion, community and party and this love for us will ensure our victory,” said Gadkari.

Nawaz Sharif walks out of prison after 3 months on medical grounds

Lahore: Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was released from jail on Wednesday, a day after the Supreme Court granted him six weeks’ bail to receive medical treatment within the country.

Sharif, 69, was lodged in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail since December last year, serving a seven-year imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills graft case. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo, who denies wrongdoing, has suffered four angina attacks in recent weeks, according to his daughter Maryam Nawaz. On Tuesday, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa accepted Sharif’s appeal and allowed him to get medical treatment from any health facility of his choice within the country.

Sharif is barred from leaving Pakistan. The deposed prime minister’s supporters and party workers gathered in large numbers outside the jail and showered his car with flowers as he left the area. Some PML-N party workers moved along with Sharif’s car till his residence. The three-time prime minister was received by PML-N leaders and his family at his house in the Jati Umra Raiwind area here.

Pakistan court orders government to remove Shehbaz Sharif’s name from no-fly list
Sharif’s release got delayed as the court order and other required documents could not reach the jail for more than 10 hours after the bench’s direction. The Supreme Court observed in its order that several senior doctors had suggested that Sharif’s history of hypertension, cardiac and renal ailments may present a “mild-moderate risk” if he is to undergo angiography. Therefore, granting him relief for a limited period is a “reasonable” request, the top court said.

It directed Sharif to deposit two bail bonds worth Rs 5 million Pakistani rupees (USD 35,423) each, receive medical treatment and surrender after six weeks. PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif thanked the court for “meeting the merits of justice”. “We thank the SC for considering gravity of the situation in the light of the medical reports of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. We also thank the nation and workers of the PMLN whose prayers had made this day possible,” he said.

He said that Sharif’s health and well-being is the utmost priority of the party and that would be their primal focus. The Sharif family has been complaining that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan was not providing adequate treatment to the three-time former premier who has serious health complications. Three corruption cases – Avenfield properties, Flagship investment and Al-Azizia steel mills – were registered against the Sharif family by the anti-graft body in 2017 following a judgment by the Supreme Court that disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case in 2017.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the Avenfield corruption case in July 2018 which was related to his properties in London. Later he was given bail in September. In December, the accountability court convicted him in the Al-Azizia graft case but acquitted him in the Flagship corruption case. The Al-Azizia Steel Mill case is related to setting up steel mills in Saudi Arabia allegedly with corruption money.

Would not have entered Pakistan if IAF had Rafale: Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said there would have been no need for the IAF to enter the Pakistani airspace to hit the Balakot terror camp if it had Rafale aircraft.

Addressing a rally in northeast Delhi’s Yamuna Vihar, he said the “miracle” would have been possible from Indian territory. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the results would have been different if India had Rafale fighter jets, as he attacked the Congress for its tirade against his government over the aircraft deal. “During the UPA government’s tenure, the Indian Army would hoist a white flag whenever the Pakistani forces violated the ceasefire at the border. During my tenure as home minister, I gave orders that if Pakistan fires one bullet, then you fire as much as you can,” Singh said.

Responding to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s jibe ‘chowkidar chor hai’ against Modi, the senior BJP leader said the prime minister was “pure and the only cure” for all problems of the country. Gandhi has often used the slogan ‘chowkidar chor hai’ to hit out at Modi over alleged corruption in the Rafale jet deal. “Chowkidar is not a thief, but pure. He is the only cure for all problems of country. He will become prime minister again for sure,” Singh said and asked “for whom will our prime minister take money?”

India getting Islamic countries’ cooperation in fighting terror: Rajnath Singh
Referring to the Balakot air strikes, he said, “Had Rafale been there, there was no need for our air force personnel to go to Pakistan. And that miracle would have taken place from Indian territory. And these people (the Congress) level baseless allegations against us.” Targeting the previous Congress governments for stalling defence modernisation, he said the Indian Air Force did not get any new aircraft for 30 years despite repeated requests.

He also asked if Prime Minister Modi committed any crime by finalising the Rafale deal with France when the armed forces were in dire need of fighter jets. “Our armed forces kept asking for fighter jets for 30 years. They should be modernised,” Singh said. Singh said the Congress did not take action against the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack, but the attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district was avenged.

“Now the Congress is asking how many (terrorists) were killed in Pakistan. The brave armed forces don’t count bodies. This is for the others to do,” he said. Over reports of Kashmiri-origin people being attacked in different parts of country following the Pulwama attack, he asked people to protect Kashmiri students.

Election Commission issues notice to makers of PM Narendra Modi’s biopic seek comments on delaying release

New Delhi: The Election Commission would seek comments from the makers of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modion the Opposition’s demand to postpone its release till the Lok Sabha elections get over.

The film is slated for release on April 5. The Delhi chief electrical officer had already issued a notice to the producers in this regard. “Since parties had approached the EC, it will also issue a notice,” a functionary said. The EC would seek their comments on delaying the release.

On March 20, East Delhi Returning Officer K Mahesh suo motu issued notices to the production house and music company behind the film “PM Narendra Modi” and two leading newspapers for publishing advertisements of the film. Opposition parties have alleged that the film is violative of the model code and would act like an advertisement for the BJP.