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Era of Dhoni’s captaincy in Indian cricket comes to an end

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New Delhi, Jan 5: Talismanic Mahendra Singh Dhoni stumped every cricket fan on Wednesday when he informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that he is stepping down as the skipper of India’s One-Day International (ODI) and T20 International sides, ending a trophy-filled era.

The 35-year-old had already retired from Test cricket in December 2014 but continued to lead the national team in the shorter formats of the game.

Dhoni, who had led India to the International Cricket Council (ICC) World T20 title in 2007, to the World Cup victory in 2011 and lifted the Champions Trophy in 2013 also took India to the zenith of the Test rankings during his tenure. He is the only captain in world cricket to win each of the ICC trophies.

The Ranchi wicketkeeper-batsman will, however, be available for selection for the three ODIs and T20Is against England, starting January 15, the BCCI informed.

“Mahendra Singh Dhoni has informed the BCCI, that he wishes to step down as the captain of the Indian Cricket Team from the One Day Internationals and the T20 Internationals formats of the game,” a statement from the board read.

“He will be available for the selection for the One Day and T20I series against England and the same has been conveyed to the Senior Selection Committee.”

The BCCI’s senior selection committee will meet on Friday to select the team for the limited-overs series against England.

Commenting on the development, BCCI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rahul Johri said: “On behalf of every Indian cricket fan and the BCCI, I would like to thank M.S. Dhoni for his outstanding contribution as the captain of the Indian team across all formats.”

“Under his leadership, Indian team has touched new heights and his achievements will remain etched forever in the annals of Indian cricket,” he added.

Dhoni, who had captained India to 110 wins from 199 ODIs and 41 wins from 72 T20Is, made his international debut in 2004.

He immediately stamped his authority at the international stage when he smashed 148 in only his fifth match, against a Pakistan attack that didn’t know what had hit them.

He quickly rose up the ranks in Indian cricket to take the reins of the national T20I side in 2007, before becoming the ODI captain after Rahul Dravid relinquished the post.

He eventually ascended to full-time Test captaincy once the then Indian captain and current India coach Anil Kumble retired.

Dhoni’s biggest triumph was winning the World Cup in 2011, which India won after 28 years owing to his exemplary batting display in the final and calm and methodical leadership, despite the added pressure of playing at home.

He also led the side to the final of the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh, in which India lost to Sri Lanka. Dhoni successfully led India to the 2015 World Cup semi-final, where they lost to hosts and eventual champions Australia, effectively ending India’s 11-match winning streak in the World Cups.

During the course of the tournament, he also became the first Indian captain and third overall to win 100 ODI matches.

In 2016, Dhoni led India to the Asia Cup T20 title by beating hosts Bangladesh in the final and also guided the side to the semi-finals of the World T20, where hosts India lost to the eventual champions — the West Indies.

He also holds the record for most matches as captain of an international side, with 331 games across formats.

His last series as captain came against New Zealand at home, where he led the Indian side to a 3-2 series win.

Dhoni also led the now-defunct Chennai Super Kings (CSK) franchise, one of the most successful teams in the history of Indian Premier League (IPL), to win back-to-back titles in the years 2010 and 2011 and also the Champions League T20 in the years 2010 and 2014.

Although the next captain was not announced, Virat Kohli, currently captaining the Test team, is the likely front-runner to replace Dhoni.

Meanwhile, former BCCI president Anurag Thakur hailed Dhoni as “one of the finest leaders”. “Hey @msdhoni yuv been one of the finest leaders of Indian Cricket @BCCI, led the team to great heights & inspired so many across countries!,” Thakur wrote on Twitter.

Thakur was joined by noted cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle and 2012 Olympic bronze medal-winning shooter Gagan Narang in highlighting Dhoni’s achievements as India captain.

Bhogle said: “World T20, World Cup, Champions Trophy, Test No 1, IPL titles, Champions League titles. Everything in the game. #Dhoni.”

Bhogle also commented that this was a selfless move. “Clearly Dhoni thinks the moment has come. Thought he would quit after the Champions Trophy, but this is a selfless move.

“Trying to think like #Dhoni. Kohli most likely 2019 World Cup captain, so best that he leads in the Champions Trophy so best he starts now.”

 

India

Lok Sabha adjourned till noon

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New Delhi, Dec 18: The Lok Sabha witnessed an adjournment minutes after it met on Monday amid an uproar, and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till 12 noon.

While opposition members were seen standing at their seats and protesting, from the treasury benches — BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who had the first question listed against his name, said the Bharatiya Janata Party was headed for victory in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

“Congress has lost Himachal Pradesh, and I want to thank the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) for the unprecedented victory in Gujarat,” Somaiya said.

The Speaker then adjourned the house till noon, amid ruckus from both the ruling and opposition benches.

IANS

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EC sets up panel on changes in election law, withdraws notice to Rahul

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Himachal Pradesh election result

New Delhi, Dec 17: A day before counting in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections, the Election commission on Sunday decided to set up a committee having representation from three union ministries to examine provisions of Representation of People Act and the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) about provisions relating to last 48 hours before polling in the wake of challenges posed by fast-changing technologies.

The poll panel also simultaneously withdrew its notice of December 13 to Congress President Rahul Gandhi for allegedly giving election-related interviews to TV channels a day prior to the second phase of polling in Gujarat. It wrote to the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat to “abate” further action on its letter of December 13.

In letters to both Congress and BJP, the Election Commission told them about the committee it has decided to set up and advised them to not mention henceforth any election matter pertaining to area going for poll during the prohibited period of 48 hours.

The committee will have representation from the Election Commission, the Law, Information and Broadcasting and Electronics and Information Technology Ministries besides the National Broadcasters Association and Press Council of India to examine the relevant provisions in “the prevailing context of communication technologies and suggest required changes”.

The Election Commission said that the matter will be taken up with all stakeholders including political parties and media houses for their views to recommend appropriate modification in law and the commission’s instructions.

In its notice to Rahul Gandhi, the commission had said that it had received complaints that “on some TV channels interview given by you has been/is being displayed about elections” to Gujarat assembly. It had asked him to respond by December 18. It has also instructed the Gujarat CEO to lodge FIR against the TV channels that telecast his interview.

The Congress had on December 14 complained to the Election Commission about “a road show” undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he cast his vote here during the second phase of the Gujarat Assembly polls.

In its letters to the Congress and BJP, the poll panel said it believes that “due to multi-fold expansion of digital and electronic media, the extant Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 of RP Act, 1951 and other related provisions require revisiting to cater to the requirement and challenges of the present and emerging situations” and that it will seek suggestions for necessary modification in existing provisions.

The poll panel’s letter to the BJP referred to Congress allegations against Modi, Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Piyush Goel, BJP chief Amit Shah and party leader chief Jitu Baghnani for alleged violation of MCC. The commission noted that report of Gujarat CEO was obtained on the allegations and BJP leaders had also given point-wise reply.

It noted that there was no time limit in the MCC for release of election manifesto by political parties.

IANS

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EC yet to rule on complaints against Modi, BJP in Gujarat

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Gandhinagar, Dec 17: The Gujarat election verdict will be delivered on Monday but the Election Commission is still looking into a plethora of complaints against the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress feels that little was happening to all its complaints against the Bharatiya Janata Party while things moved quickly when it came to grievances against others in the fray.

The stock reply of the Gujarat Chief Election Officer (CEO) to all queries is: “We are looking into it.” The CEO’s office could not tell IANS for two days the number of complaints it got for violation of the model code of conduct. The Congress has made 20 applications.

Since the announcement of the Gujarat elections on October 25, the code of conduct came into effect, preventing the government from making any policy announcements related to new schemes and preventing all parties from invoking communal and caste tensions.

The parties were also barred from using official machinery to influence voters.

The key instances of allegations of violation of the code of the conduct were against Modi.

The first was during a public meeting he addressed in Palitana in Bhavnagar district on November 29 where he allegedly incited hatred between the Patidar and Rajput communities over a conflict that occurred more than 30 years ago.

In 1982, three members of the Rajput community of Chomal village near Mangadh were killed and 19 Patels were charged with murder but were acquitted.

In an alleged reprisal in 1984, the Rajputs killed nine Patidars in Mangadh. After that, Mangadh village remained embroiled in caste conflict. But time healed matters and since then the area has seen peace.

But Modi stirred passions: “Gujarat cannot forget those days when (Patidar) farmers were looted by a handful of strongmen (Rajputs) who had the blessings of the Congress. Now it is for the people to decide whether they want those days back. Do you want to bless those who carried out murders of innocents in Mangadh?” He repeatedly asked these questions.

Through the Bhavnagar District Collector, the Gujarat Khedut Samaj filed a complaint against Modi and urged the poll panel that he be banned from campaigning further as he was inciting hatred.

Although Election Commission rules prohibit aggravating existing differences or creating mutual hatred or tension, Gujarat CEO B.B. Swain said: “We are looking into it.”

The rules also bar campaigners and candidates from appealing to caste or communal feelings. Mosques, churches, temples and other places of worship cannot be used for election propaganda.

But at an event at the Vadtal Swaminarayan sect temple on November 4, the chief administrator of the shrine, Maharaj Ghanshyam Prasad Das, appealed to the devotees to vote for the BJP — in the presence of Modi and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

Asked about this, Swain said: “The Commission is looking into it.”

But the Commission acted swiftly and issued a notice to the Archbishop of Gandhinagar through the District Collector, asking him to explain the intention and aim in writing a letter in which he asked Christians to organize prayer services so that those elected in Gujarat remain faithful to the Indian Constitution.

Chief Minister Rupani announced a ban on controversial film “Padmavati”. Asked if this not a violation of the code of conduct, Swain said: “The Commission is looking into it.”

The code of conduct clearly states that once elections are announced, ministers and other authorities shall not lay foundation stones of projects or schemes.

But on the last day of campaign on December 12, Modi flew off in a seaplane from the Sabarmati riverfront to Dharoi Dam reservoir to announce the launch of the seaplane service by the central government.

When pointed out that this was a clear violation of the code of conduct, Swain maintained: “The Commission is looking into it.”

In sharp contrast, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was swiftly slapped with a notice for giving interviews to Gujarati TV channels on the eve of polling for the second and last phase on December 14.

But on the day of polling, Modi, a voter from Ranip in Ahmedabad, while returning from the voting booth, openly displayed his finger during a veritable roadshow.

The Congress complained to the Election Commission. Swain said: “The Commission is looking into it.”

The code of conduct prohibits parties and candidates from canvassing within 100 metres of polling stations.

The Congress complained, backed by video evidence, that an outgoing BJP MLA paid money to voters coming out of a polling booth. Swain’s comment: “The Commission is looking into it.”

The Congress asked the Election Commission to bar three tainted officials from conducting poll duty. One of them, Mahendra Patel, had made personal comments against then Congress President Sonia Gandhi on his Facebook page.

And two police officials were involved in alleged controversial encounter killings and were out on bail — Rajkumar Pandian (and Abhay Chudasama.

Mohan Jha, the Additional Director General of Police and the nodal officer for the Election Commission’s police deployment plan, said: “Since there is no ongoing departmental inquiry against these officials, there is no breach or violation of any rules.”

IANS

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