Thackeray govt in trouble! A minister and 13 MLAs decamp to Surat – here're latest updates

News Network
June 21, 2022

 

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Mumbai: Maharashtra Minister and top Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde has reportedly moved to a hotel in Gujarat's Surat with 11 other party MLAs, setting off alarm bells in the Uddhav Thackeray government.

Latest developments 

>> Targeting the BJP, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said there is a conspiracy to topple the Uddhav Thackeray government in the "same pattern as in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan". "Shiv Sena is a party of loyalists. We won't let that happen," he said. 

>> Sources say Mr Shinde, who is reportedly upset, is "unreachable". Palghar MLA Srinivas Vanga, Aligarh legislator Mahendra Dalvi and Bhiwandi Rural Shantaram More are also "unreachable", it is learnt.

>> Opposition BJP's sources have claimed that besides the 12 MLAs from Sena, there are five Independent MLAs at the Surat hotel too.

>> This comes hours after the Maha Vikas Aghadi ruling alliance and the BJP won five seats each in the Legislative Assembly elections. Opposition BJP won all five seats it contested. Congress candidate Chandrakant Handore lost in a setback for the ruling alliance. 

>> Mr Shinde, it is learnt, may address the media at noon. The situation may turn into a major crisis for the ruling alliance of Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.

>> A prominent Sena leader in Thane, Mr Shinde has played a key role in strengthening the organisation in the region. His son, Dr Shrikant Shinde, is Sena's Member of Parliament from Kalyan.

>> Seen as a mass leader, Mr Shinde was named Leader of the Opposition in 2014 after the Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP. When the Maha Vikas Aghadi government was formed, he was appointed cabinet minister for Urban Development and Public Works (Public Undertakings).

>> Of late, there have been reports that Mr Shinde is upset with the leadership and has been feeling sidelined.

>> Former Sena leader Narayan Rane, who is now with the BJP, had a cheeky response. "No comments should be made on such things, else what is the point of being unreachable," he said.

>> Mahesh Tapase, spokesperson for the Nationalist Congress Party, said that the future of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is "absolutely safe".

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News Network
June 26,2022

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Chandigarh: The Aam Aadmi Party faced a huge setback in the Punjab by-elections on Sunday with the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate Simranjit Singh Mann defeating the ruling party's candidate on a Lok Sabha seat held last by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

Simranjit Singh Mann beat his AAP rival Gurmail Singh by a margin of over 5,800 votes from the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, after a close fight between the two.

Simranjit Singh Mann, 77, is a former MP and the president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) - not related to the larger Shiromani Akali Dal.

Congress candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy, BJP's Kewal Dhillon and the Akali Dal's Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana were at the third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively.

Counting of votes began at 8 am on Sunday amid tight security arrangements.

Sixteen candidates had appeared for the contest on June 23.

The bypoll to Sangrur Lok Sabha seat had witnessed a low turnout of 45.30 per cent as against 72.44 per cent polling in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and 76.71 per cent in 2014 polls.

There were 15.69 lakh eligible voters this time.

The bypoll was necessitated due to the resignation of Bhagwant Mann from the Lok Sabha seat after he was elected as an MLA in the state assembly elections earlier this year.

Bhagwant Mann, who is the state's chief minister now, had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections.

The bypoll was the first major electoral battle after the Aam Aadmi Party's resounding victory in the state assembly polls in March this year.

For the ruling AAP, the bypoll was seen as a battle of prestige for retaining its bastion, while for opposition parties Congress, BJP and SAD were looking to register a victory after being decimated in the assembly polls.

The AAP fielded Singh, 38, who is the party's Sangrur district in-charge, while the Congress placed its bet on former Dhuri MLA Goldy.

The BJP fielded former Barnala MLA Dhillon who joined the party early this month.

Sangrur parliamentary constituency is considered the bastion of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which won all the nine assembly segments -- Lehra, Dirba, Barnala, Sunam, Bhadaur, Mehal Kalan, Malerkotla, Dhuri and Sangrur in the 2022 assembly elections.

Bhagwant Mann had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls after defeating SAD candidate Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa with a margin of 2.11 lakh votes.

Mr Mann again contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Sangrur and won it by a margin of 1.10 lakh votes after defeating Congress party's Kewal Dhillon.

While the opposition parties -- Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP - assailed the AAP for an alleged deteriorating law and order situation, murder of popular singer Sidhu Moosewala and "unfulfilled" poll promises, the ruling party focused on its promises of eradicating corruption, creating jobs, improving the condition of schools and hospitals, and paving the way for a "Rangla (vibrant) Punjab" again.

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News Network
June 17,2022

Secunderabad, June 17: One person has died and over 15 have been injured in Telangana's Secunderabad as violent protests against the new military recruitment policy, Agnipath, spread to the southern state after entering the third consecutive day in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. Protests have also been reported in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.

Telangana police resorted to aerial firing to disperse the angry crowd at the Secunderabad railway station as protests escalated into large-scale violence and arson, news agency PTI reported.

Protestors are demonstrating on railway tracks and have halted all train movement for the last three hours. Security forces are outnumbered as the railway station has been overrun by angry youth, who have already set three trains on fire.

Suman Kumar Sharma, an AC Power Car mechanic, narrated the horrifying scenes while the trains were being vandalised. He said there were around 5,000 people at the station and around 40 of them entered the train he was in. 

"They tried setting fire in the coach. They desperately tried to set fire to the power car, but we saved it. The passenger's things have been left behind and broken. Two gates were open, so we let the passengers go from one side. We told them, that the Railway Protection Force will keep them safe. We took the passengers out from here," he said.

Elderly people were also terrified. Some have left behind suitcases, spectacles, Aadhaar cards, and half-eaten packets of mixture strewn around inside the train, he added.

The railways are diverting trains so that they don't go through the Secunderabad station. The disruption began at 9 am when over 350 protestors took over the railway station. 

East Coast Express, Rajkot Express, and Ajanta Express were set on fire by violent mobs. 71 trains - 65 from Hyderabad Multi-Modal Transport System and six express - have been cancelled so far.

In Bihar, where the protests entered the third day, the house of Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi was attacked as the new recruitment scheme that has set off a firestorm. "Such type of violence is very dangerous for the society. The protesters should remember that this is a loss for the society," Ms Devi, who is currently in Patna, said.

Two coaches of the Jammu Tawi Express train were set on fire in Bihar's Samastipur district, officials told NDTV, adding no one was hurt in the incident. A BJP office was also attacked in the Lakhisarai district. A mob set fire to the Islampur-Hatia express train which was stationed at the Islampur station in Nalanda. Three AC coaches are completely burnt down and several other coaches have been damaged.

In Uttar Pradesh, a mob entered a railway station in Ballia this morning and set a train coach on fire, and also damaged railway station property before the police used force to disperse them.

Over 200 trains have been affected - 35 trains have been cancelled while 13 short-terminated- since the protests erupted on Wednesday, according to the Railways.

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News Network
June 16,2022

New Delhi, June 16: Amid protests against the Centre's Agnipath scheme, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to listen to the voice of unemployed youths and don't take 'agnipareeksha (trial by fire)' of their patience by making them walk on 'Agnipath'.

Protests against the Centre's 'Agnipath' scheme for hiring jawans on a short-term contractual basis were reported from various parts of the country on Thursday.

"No rank, no pension, no direct recruitment for 2 years, no stable future after four years, no respect shown by the government for the army," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, attacking the Centre over the scheme.

"Listen to the voice of unemployed youths of the country, don't take 'agnipareeksha' of their patience by making them walk on 'Agnipath', Mr. prime minister," the former Congress chief said.

Attacking the government over the 'Agnipath' scheme, Gandhi had warned on Wednesday that it will reduce the operational effectiveness of the armed forces whose dignity and valour must not be compromised.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had also hit out at the government and asked why it was making recruitment in the army its "laboratory".

The government unveiled "Agnipath" on Tuesday -- calling it a "transformative" scheme-- for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force, largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis, in a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process to bring in fitter and younger troops to deal with future security challenges facing the nation.

Under the scheme, around 46,000 soldiers will be recruited this year between the ages of 17-and-a-half years and 21 years into the three services, the Defence ministry said.

The recruitment will be based on an "all India, all-class" basis that is set to change the composition of several regiments that recruit youths from specific regions as well as castes such as Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs.

After the completion of the four-year tenure of the recruits, the scheme provides for retaining 25 per cent of each specific batch for regular service, based on organisational requirements and policies promulgated by the armed forces from time to time. 

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