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Arunachal row rocks Rajya Sabha again, house disrupted

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Proceedings of the Rajya Sabha were again disrupted by the opposition Congress on Thursday over the crisis in Arunachal Pradesh, forcing two adjournments in the pre-lunch session.

Soon after the house met at 12.37 p.m. after the first adjournment, Chairman Hamid Ansari tried to conduct question hour but Congress members started shouting slogans from their seats.

Amid the din, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani answered a question on mid-day meal in schools.

After a few minutes, Congress members trooped near the chairman’s podium, forcing Ansari to adjourn the house till 2 p.m.

The winter session of the Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly was held at a community hall on Wednesday with participation of only 34 legislators, including the deputy speaker in chair. Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and 26 Congress legislators, including the speaker, boycotted the session, terming it unconstitutional.

Governor J.P. Rajkhowa had convened the winter session from Wednesday instead of its normal schedule of January 14 next year.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the Arunachal Pradesh issue at zero hour, questioning the conduct of the governor.

“How can the sitting of the house be done outside the assembly and in a private house? It has never been done in the history of independent India,” Azad said.

Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said the notice given by Azad was under consideration of the chairman, so the matter could be discussed only after his ruling.

Janata Dal-United member Sharad Yadav and Communist Party of India-Marxist member Sitharam Yechuri also demanded the matter should be discussed immediately as it was urgent.

Congress members trooped near the chairman’s podium and started shouting slogans.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the house when the opposition members raised slogans against him too.

Chairman Hamid Ansari then took the chair and requested the agitated members to allow the house to take question hour.

He then adjourned the house at 12.07 p.m. for 30 minutes.

Wefornews Bureau

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Dates for Gujarat local body polls declared

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The Gujarat State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday announced the local body elections in the state, involving six municipal corporations, 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats. The terms of these seats had ended last year, but the elections were postponed due to Coronavirus pandemic. With Saturday’s announcement, the model code of conduct (MCC) becomes effective in these constituencies.

The State Election Commission (SEC) has declared the dates for the polling for the local bodies like Municipal Corporations, municipalities, the district and Tehsil Panchayats in Gujarat.

The notification for the Municipal Corporation elections will be February 1, the last date of filing nominations will be February 6, scrutiny of nomination forms will be February 8, the last date of withdrawal of nominations will be February 9 and polling on the February 21. If repolling is required, then it will be carried out on February 22. The counting and the results are scheduled for February 23.

The notification for the Municipality, District Panchayat, Tehsil Panchayat elections will be February 8, the last date of filing nominations will be February 13, scrutiny of nomination forms will be February 15, the last date of withdrawal of nominations will be February 16 and polling on February 28. If repolling is required, then it will be carried out on March 1. The counting and the results will be on March 2.

“After the latest electoral roll, we have 4.09 crore voters in the state. There will be 47,695 polling stations, out of which over 11 thousand are sensitive and over 6 thousand extremely sensitive, but these are not final figures and they are dynamic. The total areas for which the elections will be held will be 6,577 and total elected seats will be 9,049,” said Sanjay Prasad, the State Election Commissioner.

“For these elections, more than 91,700 Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) will be utilised. The Voter Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) won’t be used in these elections, as the standing Committee constituted technical Committee had recommended that as the EVM are tamper-proof, the VVPAT are not required. So none of the state election Commissions are using them,” added Prasad.

According to the programme, polling for Municipal Corporations will take place on Sunday, February 21 from 7 am to 6 pm while that for municipalities and panchayats, polling will take place on February 28th from 7 am to 6 pm. Counting for the Municipal Corporation polls will take place on February 23 while that for municipalities and panchayats will take place on March 2.

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‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan angers Mamata during Netaji’s birth anniversary

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
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West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre are engaged in a tussle over the celebration of Netajis 125th birth anniversary that is taking place in Kolkata on Saturday.

But at Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee came together along with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar to attend the programme. Everything was going fine till Mamata was requested to deliver her speech on the podium and a section of people from the audience shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans which clearly made the West Bengal CM angry.

“This is not a political programme. I think there should be some dignity in a government programme,” the CM said, adding that as a protest she will not speak on the occasion.

Banerjee said that It doesn’t suit to invite someone and then insult her at the event. She also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Culture Ministry for inviting her to the government event.

Protesting the incident, Trinamool Congress’ Lok Sabha MP from Basirhat Nusrat Jahan strongly condemned shouting of political and religious slogans at government functions.

“I strongly condemn the shouting of political and religious slogans at government functions to celebrate the legacy of freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary celebrations,” Jahan Tweeted.

The optics of Saturday’s events in Kolkata over Netaji’s birth anniversary celebration were significant in the context of the upcoming state Assembly elections that are just a few months away.

Earlier in the day, Banerjee paid a surprise visit to Netaji’s ancestral residence on Elgin Road where she criticised the Centre’s decision to announce January 23 as ‘Parakram Diwas’.

“I don’t understand the meaning of Parakram Diwas. We celebrate the day as Deshnayak Diwas,” Banerjee said. She further said that Netaji doesn’t require anyone’s mercy at all.

On the occasion of commemorating 125th birth anniversary of Netaji, the Centre had already declared January 23 as ‘Parakram Diwas’ to honour the boundless courage and valour of Netaji.

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Somnath Bharti gets 2 years imprisonment for assaulting AIIMS staff

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A special MP/MLA court in Delhi on Saturday sentenced Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Somnath Bharti to two years imprisonment for assaulting AIIMS security staff in a 2016 case.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey also imposed a fine of Rs 1 Lakh on the AAP leader. In the conviction judgement, the court said the prosecution has proved the case beyond all reasonable doubt against Bharti regarding charges of offence punishable U/s 323/353 read with Section 149 IPC and charge of offence punishable U/s 3 of The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 and charge of offence punishable U/s 147 IPC read with Section 149 IPC.

“He is held guilty and convicted for the same”, said the magistrate. The offences carry a maximum punishment of five years in jail.

However, Bharti was granted bail to file an appeal before the High Court to challenge his conviction in the case and jail term. The magistrate noted that key witnesses specifically stated that accused Bharti was leading the mob, which broke the fence at the boundary wall of the AIIMS with the JCB machine as well as manually.

The prosecution had said that on September 9, 2016, Bharti, along with nearly 300 others, demolished the fence of a boundary wall at AIIMS in Delhi with a JCB operator.

The magistrate observed that Bharti’s defence did not hold any merit in view of the other corroborating evidence regarding the presence of JCB machine, instruction given by him to the driver for the JCB machine and manual action of the mob demolishing the fence.

The court noted that the injuries suffered by witnesses during the incident while protecting the demolition of fence and boundary wall of the AIIMS and due to stone pelting by the mob is also duly proved by prosecution.

However, the court acquitted Bharti’s associates and co-accused – Jagat Saini, Dileep Jha, Sandeep Sonu and Rakesh Pandey – due to lack of evidence. The case was registered following a complaint from RS Rawat, Chief Security Officer, AIIMS.

Bharti had submitted before the court that he was falsely implicated in the case by police officials and other witnesses, who deposed against him.

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