The BJP-led central government suffered a setback on Thursday when the Uttarakhand High Court set aside President’s Rule in the state, restoring status quo ante with Congress leader Harish Rawat as the chief minister.
“I am glad that many reputed private schools have complied with the Delhi government’s directions and reversed the fee hike,” Sisodia, also Delhi’s education minister, said in one of his tweets.
GD Salwan School is the latest to have received Sisodia’s direction against “arbitrary” fee hike, he said.
“Almost 250 parents met me and complained about the arbitrary fee hike. I have issued directions to GD Salwan Public School in Old Rajinder Nagar to reverse the fee hike,” Sisodia tweeted.
“Private schools running on land allotted by the government cannot hike fees without the prior permission of the Directorate of Education,” he said in another tweet.
Last week, the education department served notices on two branches of Maxfort School asking why it should not take over their management for violation of norms governing admission of children of EWS (economically weaker sections), keeping false records and misappropriating funds.
Despite the vehicle restriction plan, there was a heavy rush of vehicles on the roads right from morning.
“At 11 a.m. I was stuck in heavy traffic near the Maharani Bagh flyover heading towards Noida,” Rashmi, a woman commuter told IANS.
According to several commuters there was heavy traffic between Lajpat Nagar to Ashram on the Ring Road and vehicles moved at a snail’s pace.
A similar situation was witnessed between Laxmi Nagar and Akshardham intersection in east Delhi where long lines of vehicles was seen between 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m..
Heavy traffic was also reported from Chirag Delhi to Nehru Place and between Dhaula Kuan to Safdarjung hospital in South Delhi during office hours as a truck and a DTC bus had breakdowns at the Savitri flyover and near Safdarjung hospital respectively.
According to Delhi traffic police, heavy traffic was reported during office hours, especially between 9 a.m. to 10.30 a.m., and it was heaviest at ITO, near Akshardham, Maharani Bagh area and Nehru Place in the morning hours.
The second phase of the odd-even scheme began on April 15 and will continue till April 30. The first phase was between January 1 and 15 this year.
Under the odd-even scheme, which is aimed at battling pollution, petrol and diesel driven vehicles with even registration numbers can ply only on even dates and those with odd numbers on odd dates.
The party sought the EC’s permission to hold the plenary and a public meeting in view of the model code of conduct for the May 16 by-election to Palair assembly constituency in Khammam district.
The main opposition Congress had urged the panel not to grant the permission as the TRS might influence the voters.
State Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal said the permission has been granted subject to the condition that all the expenses are met by the party and no official machinery is used or involved in making any arrangements.
The commission also laid down the condition that the chief minister and ministers do not undertake official visits to attend the event.
TRS is holding the plenary to commemorate the 15th anniversary of its founding. TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao will preside over the meeting.
Roads and Buildings Minister T. Nageswara Rao, who is the TRS candidate for the by-election, said the process to make arrangements for the plenary were in full swing.
A delegates session will be held in the morning while a public meeting is scheduled for the evening.
Meanwhile, opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has decided to field former MP N. NageswaraRao for the by-election.
The seat fell vacant due to the death of Congress legislator Ramreddy Venkatreddy last month.
“It is not a practical idea if the objective is to establish a viable population of tigers. If they do release tigers, they are more likely to get killed in incidents of conflict with local people rather than survive and establish a population,” tiger ecologist K. Ullas Karanth told IANS.
Eight tigers from India – six females and two males – would be translocated to Cambodia where the big cats have been declared extinct.
The Indian tigers would be “re-introduced” in two different locations in Cambodia over the next five years. This was discussed at the recently concluded 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on tiger conservation.
According to molecular ecologist Uma Ramakrishnan, known for her work in saving Indian tigers, behavioural issues and habitat challenges need to be addressed.
“As suggested by a recent study, the tigers in Cambodia are not that different from tigers in India. But looking at the genome could highlight more differences,” Ramakrishnan, associate professor at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, told IANS.
“Successful reintroduction is very difficult, more because of behavioural issues (will the new individuals adjust to a new place?) Additionally, it’s important to understand whether the habitat can support more individuals (is there enough prey?) and that the animals will survive (and not be hunted). From a genetic perspective, this is probably fine,” she said.
Karanth, who is one of the four experts who recently refuted a report claiming the world’s wild tiger population is on the rise, says he does not believe there is any site in Cambodia where certain conditions are met for the reintroduction.
“Reintroduction of tigers is justified only if there is evidence that problems why it went extinct originally have been fully addressed and as a result 3,000-4,000 square km of forests, with sufficient densities of wild prey is available, there are no human settlements and minimal or no impacts from resource extraction by people and livestock presence and of course no illegal hunting,” said Karanth, director for Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society.
“If the introduced animals do not survive, the issue of genetics is not relevant. If one is talking about genetic viability, an even larger area would be needed,” he added.
“In the hope of we can all breath free air,” said British High Commissioner Dominic Asquith.
“May the environment continue to be in our conciseness and we act to improve it,” said Ravi Singh from World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) -India
School children and envoys of US, Russia, Britain, EU, Canada, Japan, China, Australia, Belgium, Israel, Netherlands, Portugal, Philippines, Surinam, Tunisia, Guatemala, Belarus, Mexico and other countries planted over 200 saplings at a park near Nehru Place in south Delhi.
Officials from UNESCO, WWF, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) also marked the earth day.
“It’s a historic day. The signing of Climate Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of Parties is the most important deal ever signed after the second world war,” said AdityaPundir from The Climate Reality Project, an organisation founded by former US vice president and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, which organised the event.
On the ocassion, painting competitions were organised by the Delhi government and National History Museum. Hundreds of organisations have pledged to work with the Earth Day Network-India to plant 36 million trees over the next five years.
“This is a small yet strong appeal for tree plantation. This year’s theme for the earth day is ‘trees for earth’ and we had pledged with hundreds of groups and organisations across nation that they will plant tree by monsoon. This is the first step towards a clean and pure future,” said Ranjana Saikia from Earth Day Network.
The first earth day was observed as an environmental movement across colleges and schools in the US on April 22, 1970. Now, it is marked across the world with volunteers urging people to plant trees, to go paperless, promote car pooling, buy organic food and in other ways.
This year, 171 countries have for the first time come together to sign and adopt the Paris Climate Agreement at the UN, New York, to create an ‘Environment Democracy’, in commemoration of the 46th ‘International Mother Earth Day’.
The Indian government, also syncing perfectly with this year’s theme for Earth Day ‘Trees for Earth’, had pushed to release the CAMPA Bill (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) in parliament, that would see the release of $5.3 billion across the country to promote afforestation and regeneration activities.
Interacting with members of the All India Muslim Majlis Mushwarat, an apex body of various Muslim groups at Abul Fazal Enclave, the high commissioner said that despite the terror attack on the airbase in Pathankot, communication links between the two countries did not get snapped.
“There is a need to work together to carry forward the peace process so that the South Asian region is rid of terrorism, hunger and poverty,” he said.
Basit’s statement on Friday comes after he last week stated that the “peace process is suspended”, which was contradicted by the Pakistan foreign ministry on the same day.
On Friday, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup, said at a briefing, that “talks with Pakistan are not suspended”.
Earlier, Basit was welcomed by Mushawarat Chief Navid Hamid, Secretary General Mujtaba Farooqi and other members.
Basit said it is strange that SAARC had not achieved the desired goal of regional cooperation like other regional blocs in the world due to various disputes among the member countries. “It is time for us to resolve these issue amicably and peacefully,” he said.
He added that the efforts to this end of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif “are highly laudable”.
Referring to the condition of minorities in Pakistan, the envoy claimed that they are not facing any discrimination or victimisation.
In fact Pakistan faces more sectarian violence and clashes than attacks on minorities, he said.
The high commissioner said that adequate representation is given to minorities in legislative assemblies and the national assembly. He acknowledged that the Blasphemy Law is “misused” by some forces. However, he said that more Muslims were held guilty under this law than non-Muslims.
He said that there is only three percent minorities in the country. “A bogey has been raised that at the time of creation of Pakistan there was more than 23 per cent minorities, and now only three per cent. No one understands the fact that bulk percentage of minorities werelivng in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh,” he said.
He praised the progress achieved by Muslims in all fields in India. He also mentioned the role of Indian religious leaders and others in their secular approach.
Basit said that “some elements are trying to malign Islam for their own vested interests”.
“We need to work together for unity among Muslims who are divided today on the basis of sect, ideology and region.”
He said that India is the second largest Muslims nation in the world and the country’s secular and democratic system enables them to get opportunities in development of the nation.
The high commissioner said that Pakistan has also made strides in various fields.
Normally, there shouldn’t have been any reason for uncertainty. Her challengers are the hastily-formed Left-Congress combine and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which can hardly be said to have a stable base in the state. Therefore, it should really be a cakewalk for the Trinamool Congress.
However, if it still feels uneasy, the reason is no different from the factors which let down its predecessor, the Left, five years ago – an atmosphere of lawlessness spread by the rampaging Trinamool cadres and the fact that there has been no development worth the name in agriculture and industry.
It is the uncontrollable cadres, which once even made policemen cower in fear inside a police station, which has given Trinamool a bad name, especially in urban areas, where the party chief’s slogan of “ma, mati, manush” has been mockingly changed in public parlance to “ma, mati, mafia”.
After the collapse of a flyover in the heart of Kolkata, claiming 21 lives, Narendra Modi added the word, “maut” (death), to the “ma, mati” slogan.
To those familiar with West Bengal, the disturbances attributed to Trinamool near polling stations are easily recognized as part of an incendiary political culture which began in the state with the rise of the communists in the 1960s when they organized violence-prone two-day bandhs against P.C. Sen’s government and the gherao of businessmen when the Left itself came to occupy Writers Building in 1977.
To the hapless people of West Bengal, there has been virtually no respite since then. The quiescence during the three decades of Left rule from 1977 to 2011 was the stillness of a graveyard as there was no dissent or development.
It has been the same under Mamata Banerjee where even humour on the Internet with a tangential reference to her has brought policemen to the door of the “culprit” while her attempts to attract investment have fallen flat since the fear aroused among industrialists by her ousting of the Tatas from Singur hasn’t died out.
It is the realization that her promise of poriborton (change) has been seen as being for the worse by the urbanites which has made the chief minister speak in defiance of the Election Commission and her followers to run amok.
The belief that she has lost much of her earlier popularity has induced the two former adversaries – the communists and the Congress – to come together. They have nothing to lose, for both have been politically weakened by Mamata Banerjee’s combative brand of politics and their own inadequacies. But if they can now make some headway by exploiting the urban disillusionment with her, it can mark a process of revival for them.
But the possibility of gains does not hide the fact that neither the Left nor the Congress has a capable, let alone inspirational, leader. The former chief minister, BuddhadevBhattacharjee, continues to live in “dushsamay” or bad times, to quote the name of a play he wrote when in power. It is evident that he hasn’t yet recovered from either the drubbing of 2011 or the internal fights against party hardliners which he carried out in support of his pro-private sector initiatives before they were scuppered by Mamata Banerjee.
The Congress, on the other hand, has been left with second-rankers after nearly all the senior leaders migrated to the Trinamool. Although the two allies still hope to gain from the anti-incumbency factor working against the Trinamool, they cannot expect to unseat her.
For all practical purposes, therefore, Mamata Banerjee may still win, but it will be a pyrrhic victory, for the euphoria she had generated five years ago as an honest, hard-working “David” who had wrested power by sheer grit and determination from an insolent and powerful “Goliath” has been dissipated.
Her victory or defeat will make no difference, therefore, to a state which is expected to remain mired in economic stagnation with unemployment making the youth cannon fodder in the hands of crafty politicians.
West Bengal will continue to produce fine poets, painters and films – Satyajit Ray would have been proud of some of the recent productions – but these are expressions of individual talent where the dismal political scene and middle class angst provide the artistes with the relevant material.
There has also been a revival of sorts in the restaurant scene, recalling the Calcutta of the 1950s and 1960s, as the city was known then. But that, again, is the result of individual enterprise.
The political class remains, as a whole, a burden and a curse.
Coimbatore, about 500 km from Chennai, has been selected under the central government’s Smart City programme.
“Coimbatore as a whole and my constituency Coimbatore South is facing several civic issues. The outer ring road project is getting delayed. I am pointing out that the civic issues will be solved under the Smart City programme,” Vanathi Srinivasan, who is vice president of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit, told IANS.
“I will also come out with a manifesto for my constituency. We are getting the feedback from the people. They are being studied now,” she said.
According to her, there are around 250,000 voters in the Coimbatore South constituency.
“I am appealing to the middle and the upper middle class to come out in large numbers and vote in the elections,” she said.
The ruling AIADMK instead of fielding the sitting legislator has fielded Amman K. Arjunan.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Srinivasan is one of the strong hopefuls to enter the state assembly this year.
The BJP is contesting in all the 10 assembly constituencies in Coimbatore district and is confident of winning seven seats.
“We are focusing on prohibition, corruption in the AIADMK rule and local issues,” said C.R. Nandakumar, the BJP candidate for Singanallur constituency of the district.
However AIADMK’s Arjunan, 58, dismisses BJP’s hopes of winning seven seats as wishful thinking.
“In 2011 assembly elections BJP got over 5,500 votes in Coimbatore South. The party is not in my reckoning at all,” he said.
He said Srinivasan is running a hi-tech campaign whereas his style is a down-to-earth door-to-door campaign.
“The people themselves list out the schemes like free fan, mixer/grinder, laptop (computer) to students and others wherever I go for campaigning. This time we are confident of doubling the victory margin to around 54,000 votes,” Arjunan said.
Tamil Nadu votes on May 16 to elect the 234-member assembly.
Around 3,000 Panchayati Raj representatives from across the country are expected to attend the conference at the Tata Sports Stadium, Jamshedpur, on Sunday.
Along with them, Modi will address 2,58,000 gram sabhas of the country live through radio and Doordarshan.
According to a state government official, the campaign aims to generate nationwide efforts to strengthen Panchayati Raj, and through it increase social harmony across villages, promote rural development, and foster farmers’ welfare and livelihoods of the poor.
The topics discussed in these gram sabhas are about gram panchayat development plans for local economic development, optimum utilization of funds available with panchayati raj institutions, clean drinking water and sanitation, role of women in villages, rural development and social inclusion.
Security has been beefed up in view of the prime minister’s visit and programme.
The main opposition party of the state, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has called a shutdown in Kolhan under which Jamshedour falls.
The JMM has called a shutdown on three issues: to oppose the Domicile Policy announced by the BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) government in the state; on a case related to elected panchayat in a scheduled area; and also that Modi will address panchayat representatives from the Tata Sports Complex, which belongs to a corporate house.
“Modi is using the Panchayati Raj system for corporate houses. Why is Modi not holding the programme at a government stadium? Modi wants to facilitate corporate houses in the state to set up industries,” Supriyo Bhattacharya, JMM general secretary, told IANS.
The JMM will attempt to disrupt the prime minister’s programme and stop the panchayat representatives. The district administration has made it clear that stern action will be taken if any problem is created during Modi’s programme.
“A government’s job is to provide you with health, education and jobs; this government did not do that. But this government snatched all your money, all your savings through the Saradha chit fund scam,” Gandhi said at an election rally in Howrah district.
He said the government had failed in bringing jobs to the state.
“Earlier, people used to come to Bengal in search of jobs but now they go to other states because everyone has realised that the Mamata government can not bring jobs in the state,” Gandhi said.
He also took pot-shots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said: “Here, Mamataji does fake promises, there (in Delhi) Modiji does the same.”
He told the gathering that if voted to power, the Congress’ top focus would be to provide jobs to the youth of the state.
The opposition leader in the national assembly Khursheed Shah, called on Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday to discuss several options to investigate the scandal involving the offshore accounts of Sharif family and other Pakistanis, Dawn online reported.
Sirajul Haq suggested that while Pakistani government was writing a letter to the supreme court chief justice to set up an inquiry commission, opposition parties should send a similar request to the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) urging him not to turn down the government’s request.
The CJP should be requested not only to probe the scandal, but also help bring back the looted money from abroad and announce exemplary punishment for those who committed the offence.
The Pakistani People’s Party on Friday rejected Sharif’s proposed mechanism for the investigation into the scandal.
According to the party, the speech by Sharif while addressing the nation, further strengthened the arguments of his opponents instead of clearing his family’s position.
“There was no clear line in the speech. I am sorry to say but the speech fell short,” said Senator SaeedGhani.
He said Sharif’s speech had made matters more confusing and raised more doubts about his family.
“It is the time to address the Panama Papers revelations, not to go for counter allegations.”
A few hours after the prime minister’s address to the nation in which Sharif said he would resign if proven guilty by the Panama Papers probe, Muttahida Qaumi Movement member of national assembly FarooqSattar said the first mistake made by Sharif was to address the nation without any consultations.
Qureshi said the party had no issues if the investigations were conducted in a transparent manner.
“After today’s development and success in the assembly, I would advise the opposition to come to the same table to constitute unanimous terms of reference,” he said.
Leader of the opposition in the assembly Syed Khursheed Shah said he would apologise to Sharif if the allegations made against him regarding the Panama leaks proved to be false.
“We don’t have any personal enmity with the prime minister. We want to improve the system,” said Shah on Friday evening.
“Writing a letter to the CJP is not the solution. Only an international forensic audit can settle this issue.”
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari retweeted old footage of Sharif asking former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to resign and said: “PM is yet 2 (to) present himself b4 (before) parliament & explain himself. He should follow his own advise& resign #panamapapers.”
PM Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, took to social media to show how proud she was of her father and tweeted: “Good to see a confident, resolute & daring Prime Minister taking liars & conspirators head on. Well Done Mr. Prime Minister, well done!”
She also tweeted: “No person guilty of wrongdoing could’ve taken such a courageous decision. Shows his faith in Allah & righteousness of cause.Am proud of my PM.”
When PPP leader contacted Qureshi, the PTI leader said his party would take a decision after going through contents of the proposed letter.
In a move to put more pressure on the government not to back out of its promised probe, the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rashid, visited Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid e Azam Group leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
Both the leaders demanded that instead of repeatedly addressing the nation, Sharif should resign before setting up the proposed commission.
“Modiji comes to Bengal and says I am opposed to Mamataji. Don’t forget that Mamataji’s party had an alliance with the BJP in Bengal,” Gandhi said at an election meeting here in Howrah district.
Attacking Banerjee for not keeping the “big promises” she had made before the 2011 assembly polls in Bengal, Gandhi said “She had declared she would usher in poriborton (change). But five years down the line there has been no change in the state.”
The Congress leader said the jute industries which provided jobs to lakhs have now closed down one after the other, while 50,000 people who used to work in brick kilns are now unemployed.
Gandhi said if the Congress-Left coalition government comes to power it would provide alternative employment to workers of closed jute mills and brick kilns.
Gandhi said earlier people used to come to Bengal to look for jobs, but now the youth have to venture out to other states, and even to the Middle East in search of employment. “Everybody knows, Mamataji’s government cannot provide jobs,” he said.
Gandhi regretted that Howrah, which earlier used to be called Sheffield of the East, was now dubbed “graveyard of the East”.
Bringing up the Saradha chit fund scam, he said under the Mamata regime, money was “looted from the people” by the perpetrators of the scandal.
The Congress leader then turned to the collapse of the Vivekananda flyover in north Kolkata last month, and said the injured and the families of the dead told him that the structure came down as the contract was given to a Trinamool worker “who used inferior quality cement and steel” and did not complete the work even in five years.
“But none of Mamataji’s party workers suffered. It is the common people whose dear ones died or were injured.”
Gandhi said the survivors told him of the “‘syndicate raj and mafia raj. “They implored me to eradicate mafia raj.”
Comparing Banerjee with Modi, he said both had the habit of making false promises.
“Modi promised two crore jobs. Mamataji promised 70 lakh jobs in Bengal. But have Modiji, Mamataji given employment to a single person? No.”
Taking a dig at both, Gandhi said: “Modi promised to bring back black money stashed abroad, and then unveiled a Fair and Lovely scheme where people could make black money white by paying some tax. Similarly, Mamataji promised to fight corruption, and then gave you Saradha.”
Gandhi said his party has entered into an alliance with the Left Front in Bengal against the syndicate raj, and to ensure jobs, development and progress for the people.
He said the coalition government will take strong action against those responsible for the Saradha scam and the Trinamool leaders seen accepting money illegally in a sting operation.
“We will take strong action and give your money back”.
“The time has come to remove the corrupt government of Mamataji, and root out the syndicate raj,” he added.
Ajay Kumar and Vijay Kumar, both aged around 20-22 years, were killed on Friday night when five members of a neighbouring family attacked them with rods and sticks in Vikas Nagar area, the police said.
The victims’ mother Longshree, elder brother Dharmender Kumar and younger brother Raj Kumar were critically injured and admitted to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi.
“Victims’ family was building a house and a tractor carrying dust broke a roof slab kept outside the house of accused family. Victims were attacked after short heated arguments,” Assistant Commissioner of Police Hawa Singh told IANS.
A case under sections of murder, attempt to murder and common intent was registered by the police.
“We are conducting raids, accused will be arrested soon,” Singh said.
The bodies of the victims were handed over to their relatives after autopsy.