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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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National

Accepted poll outcome with humility: PM as Cong takes 3 BJP states

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New Delhi: With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) likely to lose power in their strongholds, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the electoral outcome with humility and thanked the people of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for letting the BJP governments in these states serve them.

“We accept the people’s mandate with humility. I thank the people of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for giving us the opportunity to serve these states. The BJP Governments in these states worked tirelessly for the welfare of the people,” he tweeted.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister congratulated arch rival Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrashekhar Rao and the Mizo National Front (MNF) for their victories in the Assembly polls.

“Congratulations to the Congress for their victories. Congratulations to KCR Garu for the thumping win in Telangana and to the Mizo National Front (MNF) for their impressive victory in Mizoram,” tweeted PM Modi

Lauding the efforts put in by BJP workers, he wrote, “The family of BJP Karyakartas worked day and night for the state elections. I salute them for their hardwork.

Victory and defeat are an integral part of life. Today’s results will further our resolve to serve people and work even harder for the development of India.”

The BJP has lost power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and appears to have fallen short of the majority mark in Madhya Pradesh, in a major blow to the saffron party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, as per the latest figures by the Election Commission of India.

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Mayawati to back Congress in MP, Rajasthan to keep BJP out; SP too joins in

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New Delhi: Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will support the Congress and help it form the government in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in order to prevent BJP from returning to power in the two states. Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party has won 1 seat in Madhya Pradesh, too, has offered his party’s support to the Congress to form a government in the state.

With the BSP’s and SP’s support, the Congress will cross the majority mark in both the states. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has won 114 seats, two short of the majority and in Rajasthan, it has won 100 seats, the exact half of the 200-member assembly. The BSP has won 2 seats in Madhya Pradesh and 6 in Rajasthan.

“We contested the elections to keep the BJP out of power. To keep the BJP out of power, we have agreed to support Congress in Madhya Pradesh and if need be in Rajasthan, even though we don’t agree with many of their policies,” Mayawati said at a press conference in New Delhi.

Late last night, the Congress had written to Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel asking her for an appointment to stake claim to form the government. A delegation led by state Congress chief Kamal Nath will meet the Governor today at noon.

When the final assembly elections results came in early on Wednesday morning, the Congress at 114 seats in the 230-seat Madhya Pradesh assembly needed 2 more seats to be able to stake claim to forming a government.

In Rajasthan, the Congress had won the election with 100 seats – the exact halfway mark of the 200-member assembly – in its kitty. Elections in Rajasthan were held on 199 seats after elections were postponed on one seat following the death of one candidate.

With BSP and SP supporting the Congress, the final tally in Madhya Pradesh stands at 117 seats for Congress, 109 seats for BJP, and 4 seats for others.

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Sonia says Cong’s victory over BJP’s negative politics

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New Delhi: Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday described the party’s good showing in the assembly poll in three Hindi heartland states as a victory over the BJP’s “negative politics”.

Gandhi’s reaction came after the Congress ousted BJP governments in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Expressing happiness over the polls outcome, the UPA chairperson said it was a “Congress victory over the BJP’s negative politics”.

A resurgent Congress Tuesday made significant gains in the Assembly elections, dealing a body blow to the BJP in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, while emerging as the single largest party in Madhya Pradesh.

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