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Sidhu takes a U-turn, says went to Pakistan on Imran Khan’s personal invite, not Rahul’s command

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New Delhi: Barely hours after claiming party president Rahul Gandhi sent him to Pakistan, Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu took a U-turn and denied his statement.

“Get your facts right before you distort them, Rahul Gandhi Ji never asked me to go to Pakistan. The whole world knows I went on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s personal invite,” he tweeted.

Sidhu had attended the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in Pakistan on November 28.

 

Earlier, the cricketer-turned-politician sought to clarify his recent visit to the neighbouring country despite Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s objection it the visit. Sidhu claimed that Rahul Gandhi had sent him to Pakistan for the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on November 28.

“My captain is Rahul Gandhi, he has sent me everywhere. Rahul Gandhi is also the captain of Captain Amarinder Singh (Mere captain Rahul Gandhi hain, unhone toh bheja hai har jagah. Hamare Captain sahab ke bhi Captain Rahul Gandhi ji hain),” Sidhu said.

He had added that the central leadership and atleast 20 Congress leaders had asked him to go to Pakistan. “Atleast 20 Congress leaders asked me to go, Central leadership asked me to go. Punjab Chief Minister is like my father, I told him that I had already promised them (Pakistan) that I will go,” said Sidhu.

Later, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi backed Sidhu and hit out at the Centre for trying to divert people’s attention from the real issues. “It was his private visit (to Pakistan), Congress party has clarified, Sidhu has clarified, Punjab Govt has clarified. This rudderless Govt (Centre) is desperate and trying to divert attention from real issues,” Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan had inaugurated the opening ceremony of the facilities on November 28. Kartarpur corridor promises to help Sikh pilgrims from India offer prayers at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of Ravi river in Pakistan.

The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as the Prime Minister. During his visit, he was seen hugging Pakistan Army chief Bajwa, leading to a massive controversy. At the time, Sidhu had defended himself by saying that the Pakistan Army chief had told him about the opening of a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib, which led to the hug.

Earlier, the Indian government said it will develop and build the corridor from Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur.


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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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