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Modi ‘favourite’ PM candidate of Muslims for 2019 Lok Sabha polls: Hussain

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New Delhi: Narendra Modi is the “favourite” prime ministerial candidate of Muslims for next year’s Lok Sabha polls as he has dispelled the “fear” that several parties instilled in the community using his name, senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said.

He said the faith in Modi among Muslims had increased, especially among the women. “The favourite prime ministerial candidate for Muslims in the 2019 polls is Narendra Modi, because he sees all 132 crore people of the country just as Indians. Other parties have seen them as a vote bank,” Hussain said.

Muslims account for around 14 per cent of India’s 130 crore population and the community plays a key role in the electoral outcome in a sizeable number of Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir.

Hussain blamed the Congress for the poverty and backwardness of the Muslims in the country, saying the party had done injustice to the community and Modi had given them justice.

“Some people in 2014 used to scare others using Narendra Modi’s name. Today, a large number of people from the Muslim community also feel that he is a man who works day and night. Narendra Modi treats all 132 crore Indians alike,” he said.

Other parties used to take votes from Muslims by spreading the “fear” of Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the prime minister had taken out that fear, Hussain said. Now they see that Modi is in power but there is no problem, the BJP leader added.

Not a single statement was made by Modi against Muslims, he said, adding that the prime minister’s “shamshan-kabristan” statement in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls last year was “wrongly interpreted” as he had advocated taking care of both.

“In our party, some people may be making (certain) statements, but Muslims have full faith on the statements made by BJP chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the former Union minister said.

“Our party president and our prime minister have never given any statement that would hurt Muslims,” he claimed, asserting that the community would back the saffron party big time in the 2019 general election.

Hussain also said Allahabad’s name was changed to Prayagraj as “injustice” was done in the past” and now, “justice” had been restored. “The earlier name was Prayagraj that was changed. To correct that mistake, is it wrong? Earlier also, Bangalore’s name was changed to Bengaluru, Madras was changed to Chennai. So, how does history come into this,” he said, rebutting the Congress’s charge that the Modi government was trying to rewrite history.

On the Ram temple issue, Hussain said for the BJP, it was a matter of faith and not a poll plank. “From October 29, there will be day-to-day hearing (in the Supreme Court). We are hopeful that this issue will be resolved soon and it will be acceptable to all the people in the country.

“Some people are also demanding that a law be made (for the construction of the temple). Everybody has a right to demand, how can anybody stop that? The government has the right to decide and it has not taken any decision in this regard,” he said.

Talking about the upcoming Assembly elections in five states, the BJP spokesperson exuded confidence that his party would win in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

“In Mizoram, the government will not be formed without our support and in Telangana, we will emerge as a big party,” he claimed.

Hussain also asserted that the BJP, the Janata Dal (United), the Lok Janshakti Party and the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party will fight the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar together.

He said the alliance with the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) had boosted the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) prospects in Bihar and the coalition was focussed on “Mission 40” — to win all the Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Asked if anti-incumbency would be a factor in Bihar, Hussain said, “I had lost from Bhagalpur by 8,000 votes and Nitish Kumarji’s candidate was third, getting 1,60,000 votes. Now those votes will be added to the BJP’s kitty…We will fight together and this time, it is Mission 40 — that we win all the 40 seats.”

He also claimed that issues such as rising petrol and diesel prices will not hamper the BJP’s poll prospects, saying the people were aware that the fuel problem was a global one.

The Modi government will come to power with a bigger mandate in 2019, Hussain asserted.


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PM Modi embraces Maldives as new leader Solih takes office, China out of favour

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Male/New Delhi: Maldives’ President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih takes office , seeking help from India and the United States to climb out from under a mountain of Chinese debt that his predecessor racked up in a breakneck development of the coral islands.

The surprise defeat of pro-China strongman Abdulla Yameen has opened a window for India, the strategic outpost’s traditional political partner, to regain ground lost to Beijing in their tussle for regional dominance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the highest ranking visitor at the inauguration at the national soccer stadium in the capital Male. By contrast, China’s highest-ranking attendee will be Culture and Tourism Minister Luo Shugang.

“I will convey to the new Maldivian government … the desire of my government to work closely for realisation of their developmental priorities, especially in areas of infrastructure, health care, connectivity and human resource development,” the Prime Minister said in a post on Facebook.

PM Modi’s presence signals the end of years of frosty relations because of Yameen’s embrace of China, a relationship that had deepened India’s anxieties about being encircled by countries leaning towards Beijing.

In Sri Lanka, an island nation to the southeast of India, the rivalry between New Delhi and Beijing has been one of the triggers for a political crisis in recent weeks.

The low-key Solih, a veteran lawmaker, has promised an “India first” policy in the Maldives, saying the small nation of a little over 400,000 people needs solid ties with its immediate neighbour.

His team is also reviewing millions of dollars of investments from China, as well as the related debt that the country has run up from Chinese lenders and how to restructure it.

Solih has said investigations will be launched to find out what happened and fix accountability, Adam Azim, a member of his transition committee, told reporters.

“We were led to believe it’s about USD 1.5 billion, the Chinese debt, but it could be worse,” said another member of Solih’s top economic team, which has been holding discussions with finance ministry officials during the transition following the election in September.

He said the team had already reached out to India, the United States and Saudi Arabia for financial assistance so it could tackle the debt.

“We straightaway need 200-300 million dollars to kick start the budgetary support,” the adviser said.

Debt of USD 1.5 billion would be more than a quarter of the country’s annual gross domestic product. Another member of the incoming president’s economic team said firm proposals for assistance had been discussed with Indian and US officials.

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Cyclone Gaja hits Tamil Nadu, 30 killed, many homeless

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Chennai: When ‘Gaja’ hovered over the Bay of Bengal near Nagapattinam district for the past one week, the public and all government stakeholders did little realise its ferocity.

With 30 persons dead, heavy winds uprooting thousands of trees in the delta districts and collapsed power lines, ‘Gaja’ tore into districts like Nagapattinam, Cudd-alore, Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai and Tiruvarur districts. Nagapattinam district bore the major brunt of the storm.

‘Gaja’, played hide and seek for over a week and finally struck with winds speeds touching 110 kmph, as earlier warned by the Indian Meteorological Department and Regional Meteorological Centre, which were closely monitoring the situation throughout the day. Both agencies kept updating revenue officials about ‘Gaja’ trail.

Revenue officials who have had kept their eyes peeled over the stormy development, had quickly evacuated around 81,000 people to safety across the delta districts. The storm did not spare livestock, as a huge numbers of cattle were killed across these districts.

The IMD, in its bulletin, said that the cyclone made landfall between 12.30 am and 2.30 am, after which it trundled on its way westwards, and is slowly poised to weaken.

Further, districts like Pudukkottai, Tiruchy and Ramanathapuram had on Thursday and Friday mornings, received mild rain.

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LED TV, coconut water and more: Inspection reveals Unitech directors ‘enjoying’ Tihar jail

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New Delhi: LED TV, coconut water, crates of mineral water, badminton rackets and household items were among the prohibited things found in the prison cell of Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay, lodged in Tihar Jail for allegedly cheating home buyers.

This was communicated to the Delhi High Court by Additional Sessions Judge Ramesh Kumar, who carried out inspection on September 4 following complaints from other inmates that Chandra brothers and others jailed for white collar crimes were enjoying “luxurious lifestyle”.

He said in a report that the circumstances indicated “corruption” and “grave misuse of power” on the part of DG Prisons and Tihar Jail officials.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao on Friday issued notice to the AAP government, Director General (DG) Prisons and senior officials of Tihar Jail seeking their stand on the matter by February 1, 2019.

In the report, Kumar-II has recommended that an FIR be registered against DG Prisons and officials of Tihar Jail as such activities also pose an “extra burden on the public exchequer”.

He has said that apart from household amenities, including mattresses, mustard oil, foot-mats and stools, in their cell, the brothers also enjoyed a separate “office” room having a computer with internet, a printer as well as eatables and Aquafina mineral water.

On the brothers’ claim that they had bought the Aquafina mineral water from the jail canteen, the judicial officer found that only Bisleri was sold there.

Apart from that, the steel nets in the barracks housing the Chandra brothers were covered with blankets and boards “to avoid smell or outer air” from going into their cell, the report said.

It also said that such facilities cannot be provided to any inmate without the “involvement” and “knowledge” of the DG Prisons and other officials of Tihar Jail and proved as “positive” the complaint made by 25 inmates of Tihar Jail in their letter.

The report also indicates that the jail officials had told the ASJ that the letter was written by the inmates to pressurise them into providing extra facilities to the other prisoners which was not permissible under the jail manual.

The report also said that some of the complainant inmates were shifted to Mandoli Jail after they had sent the letter.

The High Court took suo motu cognisance of the report and the letter written by the inmates and turned it into a public interest litigation.

The inmates in their letter had claimed that while those arrested for financial crimes, like the Chandra brothers, were “enjoying an extra luxurious life in Tihar Jail” with a “separate VIP ward” for them, other prisoners were allegedly not getting sufficient food, drinking water, fruits and other necessities, including medical treatment.

However, those arrested for white collar crimes were getting specialised medical treatment for even minor ailments, had access to smart phones, could regularly communicate and meet with family members without hindrance, have home cooked meals, watch TV, play badminton and enjoyed a “luxurious life”, the letter said.

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