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PM’s phone call to Patnaik signals thaw in frosty BJP-BJD relations

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New Delhi:The Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) likely support to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate in the election for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman on Thursday is the third sign in recent weeks of a new warmth in the otherwise frosty, even hostile, relationship between Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It is also a part of a larger ‘softening’ of ties between the two parties as their goals converge, said two leaders, one from each party.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Patnaik over phone to seek his support for the deputy chairman’s election, according to people familiar with the matter, and the two leaders cited above described the gesture as illustrative of a direct engagement between the top leaders of the two parties.
Even before that, the BJD did not support the Opposition’s no-trust vote against the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha on July 20— the message was communicated to MPs just minutes before the debate started — and stood with the government on the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
Patnaik had also supported Modi’s call in June for simultaneous assembly and parliamentary elections across the country. Odisha already votes simultaneously for the parliamentary and assembly elections.
Patnaik turned down Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s request for support to the Opposition’s candidate in election for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, telling him that he had already told Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar that he would support Janata Dal (United) leader Harivansh, according to people familiar with the development.
“There is a certain climbdown in position from both the sides — BJP and BJD,” one of Patnaik’s aides said on condition of anonymity. “There is a realisation on both sides that they may need each other after polls.”
“Naveen is least interested in politics of Delhi,” this person added. “He wants to be comfortable in Bhubaneswar. The changed equation brings that comfort.” Also, he added, it helps keep the door open in case he needs support from outside to run the state.
“Between the BJP and the Congress, the former will be the choice,” the aide said
The BJP pushed Patnaik’s traditional arch-rival, the Congress, to the third position and emerged as his principal challenge during the last year’s panchayat elections in Odisha. But the general sense in the party’s state unit and the central leadership is that while the BJP will strive to expand as much as it can in Odisha, it may not be able to replace the BJD as the number one party in the state in 2019, said a second senior BJP? leader who asked not to be named.


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National

Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs

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Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.

“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.

This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.

 

According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.

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Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara

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Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.

The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.

“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.

 
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Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.

With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.

Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.

 

Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.

However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.

The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.

The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.

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