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Watch: MNS activists attacks Nanar refinery complex office in Mumbai



Mumbai, April 16: A group of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists on Monday afternoon vandalized the offices of the proposed Nanar refinery project coming up in Ratnagiri district with Saudi Arabian collaboration, reported news agency IANS.

Around half a dozen MNS activists barged into the Nanar office in Tardeo, enquired whether they were at the correct address and then started vandalising the premises.

They targeted the furnitures and fitting, breaked glass doors, cabins and other things inside the office even as the security guards attempted to stop them.

After the brief attack lasting a few minutes, the MNS workers escaped, shouting the anti-Nanar slogans, even as a video on the incident went viral on social media networks.

The development came the day after MNS President Raj Thackeray categorically declared in a public meeting on Sunday night that his party would not permit the Nanar project to come up in the coastal Konkan region of Maharashtra.

He also questioned why Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was threatening that if protests against it continued, the project would be shifted to Gujarat.

“Why only Gujarat? Why not Goa or Kerala or Tamil Nadu or any other state in India? What is the reason for this?” he asked.

Earlier on Monday, the Shiv Sena also questioned Fadnavis’ “threats” and said instead of condemning the beautiful Konkan to such poisonous projects like earlier Enron, then Jaitapur and now Nanar, the state could consider setting it up in a backward region like Marathwada or Vidarbha.

On April 11, a consortium comprising three major Indian oil marketing companies – IOCL, BPCL and HPCL signed a MoU with Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Saudi Aramco) for setting up an integrated oil refinery and petroleum products complex in the eco-sensitive Ratnagiri.

When completed, the Rs 3 trillion complex at Nanar will be the world’s biggest single-location oil refinery project with a capacity to process 60 million tonnes annually.

The project however has elicited strong protests from locals united under the Konkan Refinery Shetkari-Machhimar Sangharsh Samiti and Refinery Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, who have secured backing of all major political parties in the state barring the ruling BJP.



Somen Mitra to head Congress in Bengal



Somen Mitra

Kolkata, Sep 22 : The Congress on Friday appointed Somen Mitra as President of its West Bengal unit, replacing Adhir Ranajan Chowdhury who was bitterly anti-Trinamool Congress and pro-Left. Chowdhury will be the Chairman of the campaign committee.

Immediately after the announcement, Mitra said he would work to strengthen the party in the state ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“If we fail to strengthen the party’s organisation, we will not be able to get people’s support. Therefore, my first aim will be to strengthen the party in Bengal. We need collaborative cooperation by party leaders, activists and general people to achieve that goal,” he said.

Mitra, who takes over the reins of the state Congress after over two decades, refused to say whether his party would join hands with the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress to counter the rising clout of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

“We cannot take a decision on that. Congress is a national party. So decisions taken by the state units do not have any value. If the party asks us, we will convey our opinion,” he said.

“I will talk to co-workers and party leaders and then take the call on this issue.”

“Party’s central leadership has given me this responsibility. They have shown confidence and belief on me. I have never asked for any post from any level of our party’s leadership,” he said responding to a query on the possible reasons for which he was handed over responsibility at the age of 75.

Mitra assured he would hold talks with the Congress MLAs who had been opposing Chowdhury’s leadership in the state.

Chowdhury had repeatedly claimed that he does not have any political understanding with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and argued in favour of an alliance with the Left in 2019.

Besides the appointments of Mitra and Chowdhury, Congress President Rahul Gandhi also named Pradip Bhattacharya as the Chairman of the Coordination Committee.

Shankar Malakar, Nepal Mahato and Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury have been named as Working Presidents.

Mitra, affectionately called “Chhorda” (youngest elder brother) by the Congress rank and file, has enjoyed a bitter sweet relations with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. The two became arch-rivals when Banerjee started rising in the party hierarchy by leaving behind veteran leaders in the mid 1980s and the 1990s.

It was after losing to Mitra’s organisational might in the state Congress presidential election that Banerjee quit the party and formed the Trinamool in 1997.

Mitra, on the other hand, left the Congress in 2008 to float his own party, Pragatisheel Indira Congress, which he merged with the Trinamool in 2009. He won the Lok Sabha polls on a Trinamool ticket in 2009, but rejoined the Congress in 2014.

There have been reports of infighting within the Bengal Congress for some time, with several state party members writing to the central leadership seeking Chowdhury’s removal to revive the Congress in the state.

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16 Congress MLAs issue notice for removal of Goa Speaker



Pramod Sawant
Picture Credit : Youtube

Panaji, Sep 21 : In a fresh bid to pressure the BJP-led coalition government in Goa, several of whose ministers have been hospitalised due to severe ailments, 16 Congress MLAs on Friday issued notice to the State legislature Secretary demanding removal of Speaker Pramod Sawant.

The notice, which is signed by Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said: “We the undersigned MLAs of Goa do hereby propose to move the following motion for removal of Dr Pramod Sawant as Speaker of legislative assembly of Goa on expiry of 14-day notice period.”

THe notice was filed under rule 243 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business of the Goa legislative assembly read with article 179(C) of the Constitution.

The move comes at a time when the BJP-led coalition government is hamstrung by the absence of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the ruling coalition is keen to avoid a test on the floor of the House.

While the motion moved by the Congress to remove the Speaker would facilitate a floor test, an Assembly session for it can be summoned by the Governor.

While the BJP has 14 MLAs, three legislators — Parrikar, Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza and Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar — are suffering from severe ailments, which puts their appearance in the state legislative assembly in case of a vote in doubt.

Ever since Parrikar’s hospitalisation at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences last week, its ten allies, which includes three MLAs each from the Goa Forward and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and four Independent legislators have stepped up pressure on them, seeking bigger portfolios.

Goa Forward’s Vijai Sardesai as well as MGP’s Sudin Dhavalikar have also hinted about their aspirations for the Chief Minister’s post in Parrikar’s absence, which has put the BJP on the back foot.

The ruling coalition had to postpone its decision to replace Manohar Parrikar, who is suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, with a new CM in order to avoid a mandatory floor test which is required to ascertain whether the Chief Minister has the confidence of the House.


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‘Surgical Strike Day’ stirs row, West Bengal defies UGC circular



kapil sibal partha chatterjee

New Delhi, Sep 21 : A controversy erupted on Friday after the University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a circular asking universities to celebrate September 29 as ‘Surgical Strike Day’, with the Congress calling the move politically motivated and West Bengal government refusing to follow the decision, terming it “BJP’s agenda”.

A decision to celebrate the day was announced on Thursday when the UGC in a letter to all Vice Chancellors had asked them to observe the day in their institutions through special parades by National Cadet Corps, and with a pledge of support by students to the armed forces by writing letters and cards.

“It is a part of BJP’s agenda before the 2019 elections which they are trying to push through UGC. The BJP is trying to politicise the Indian Army. It is a matter of shame and we do not support it,” West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee told the reporters here.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal called the decision a ‘jumla’ (gimmick) and in an oblique reference termed the demonetisation also a surgical strike on the country’s poor.

“UGC directs VCs of all universities to celebrate September 29 as Surgical Strike Day. Is this meant to educate or to serve BJP’s political ends? Will UGC dare celebrate November 8 as Surgical Strike Day depriving the poor of their livelihood? This is another jumla!,” Sibal tweeted on Friday.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also suggested that instead of celebrating the surgical strikes, the government should be visiting family of Narender Singh, the BSF soldier who was killed after coming under unprovoked fire from Pakistan on Wednesday along Jammu border.

“The best way to celebrate surgical strike would be for the PM to visit the family of Narender Singh, who was tortured to death by Pakistan this week.

“PM should assure the nation that Pakistan would be given such befitting reply that it won’t dare do it again,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Congeress’s student wing NSUI criticised the decision as “government propaganda” and “militarisation of university space”.

“This is not celebration of Army valour but government propaganda. At the same time, the increasing militarisation of the university space is specially worrisome,” it said in a statement.

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar replied to the charges saying that there was no politics behind the decision and that it is only meant to enhance the prestige of the nation.

“This is only meant to increase the prestige of the Army. There is no politics in it. I must denounce the Congress charge that we are politicising the surgical strike. No, we are not doing that,” Javadekar said.

“We are telling the students how the armed forces defend our country, how they conducted the surgical strike on September 29, 2016, and how they also perform civilian duties whenever necessary,” he added.


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