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Tulsi Gabbard, first Hindu member in US Congress, to run for President in 2020

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New York: Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu ever elected to US congress, is running for the White House in 2020, and could end up vying with Kamala Harris, who is likely to run also, for the affection, support and, most importantly, the financial backing of the country’s richest ethnic community, Indian Americans.

“I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week,” Gabbard told a CNN TV news anchor for a show that airs Saturday.

Gabbard, 37, is a US army veteran and a three-term member of the US House of Representative from Hawaii, where the 44th president of the United Sates Barack Obama was born and raised and where he would vacation with his family every major holidays.

 

Obama, now the elder statesman of the Democratic party has not endorsed Gabbard or Harris or any one of the 15 or more Democrats considering a presidential run, to go up against President Donald Trump in 2020.

Indian Americans have been keenly following both Gabbard and Harris in anticipation of their run for the White House with mixed feelings: Gabbard is a white American but as a practicing Hindu is an icon among Hindu Americans.

And Harris is an Indian American from her mother’s side and African American from her father’s.

There has been some disquiet among Indian Americans about Harris as she has sought to project herself as an African American.

“Not sure if the country is ready for another African American,” said an Indian American Republican donor and strategist, who said he would like Harris to devote more time burnishing her credentials as an Indian American.

Gabbard will become the first Hindu to run for the White House when she announces formally next week. Though not Indian American, Gabbard is often considered one by the community because of her professed religion — a Hindu — and there stories that Hindu temples in the Washington-Maryland-Virginia region chimed their bells to coordinate with her swearing in in 2012.

Gabbard is not Indian American, once again, but is often thought of one, being a Hindu. And if she does decide to run, as she has indicated she will next week, she will make history as the first Hindu, from a tiny religious minority.

Bobby Jindal, the former Republican governor of Louisiana state, became the first Indian American to run for the country’s top job in the 2016 cycle, but lost spectacularly. He had converted to christianity while still in college and, to the disappointment of the Indian American community, he had sought to distance himself from the community on the campaign trail, playing down his Indian heritage.


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31 dead, over 20 lakh affected as flood wreaks havoc in 12 districts of Bihar

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PATNA: At least 31 people have died and over 20 lakh people have been affected due to flood which has has wreaked havoc in northern districts of Bihar. The flood has forced scores of people to abandon their submerged homes and run for safety, even as water levels of rivers in the area continue to rise.

The worst-affected districts are Araria, Kishanganj, Supaul, Darbhanga, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, East Champaran, Madhubani, and Muzaffarpur. A total of 10 people have died in Sitamarhi, 11 in Araria, four in Kishanganj, two in Madhubani, and one each in Sheohar and Darbhanga due to flood.

The Principal Secretary of Disaster Management Department, Pratyaya Amrit, said that the flood has affected 64 blocks in 12 districts across North Bihar. He added that several roads have broken due to flood which is making it tough for the administration to provide relief materials to the flood-hit people. He said that the government is running 350 community kitchens to provide food to the affected people.

 

State Water Resources Department spokesman Arvind Kumar Singh on Monday said the Bagmati, Kamala and Mahanandra rivers are flowing over the danger mark at various places. Government sources that 13 teams of National Disaster Relief Force and State Disaster Relief Force have been deployed to carry out relief and rescue operations in the affected districts.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday convened a meeting to review the flood situation and he also conducted the aerial survey of flood-affected areas of Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sheohar, Sitamarhi and East Champaran districts to review the situation.

Water Resources Minister Sanjay Jha, Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Water Resources department) Arun Kumar and Disaster Management Department Principal Secretary Pratyaya Amrit accompanied Kumar during the aerial survey. During the meeting, the Bihar chief minister instructed the government officials to remain on high alert and ensure that flood-hit people are getting proper facilities at the camps set up by the state government.

Several control rooms have been set by the state government in affected districts to help the people who are affected by the flood.

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha has slammed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, terming the aerial survey as an annual show of pretence. He said that instead of reviewing the situation by sitting in an aircraft, the chief minister should take measures to ensure that the situation does not get repeated. Kushwaha further alleged that the funds meant for such work were embezzled and the government had failed in its duty to ensure that people did not get affected by floods.

It is feared that the situation would remain grim for few more days as Patna Meteorological Centre has forecast rain with thunderstorm at several places in the state in the next four days.

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Deported from UAE in terror case, 14 men flown to Chennai by NIA

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New Delhi: Fourteen persons, deported from the United Arab Emirates and apprehended by the National Investigation Agency for suspected association with men linked to an alleged terror outfit, were flown from New Delhi to Chennai on a special flight.

It is learnt that the men were produced before a NIA court which granted their custody to the agency. Sources claimed that the men — they were said to be from Chennai, Tirunelveli, Theni, Nagapattinam and Ramanathapuram — were members of Wahdat-e-Islami Hind, a religious organisation in Tamil Nadu.

They were deported after intelligence agencies received credible inputs that they had been in touch with individuals in Tamil Nadu who have now been placed under arrest by the NIA for suspected links to alleged terror outfit Ansarulla.

 

On Saturday, the NIA searched premises linked to three individuals in connection with its probe into activities of Ansarulla. One among them was Chennai resident Syed Bukhari, president of the Wahdat-e-Islami Hind. On Sunday, the NIA arrested two of the three individuals — Hassan Ali

Yunusmaricar and Harish Mohammed, both from Nagapattinam — “based on incriminating facts revealed during searches and subsequent investigations”. Along with Bukhari, the two men are already accused in a NIA case registered on July 9 against Ansarulla.

The Wahdat-e-Islami Hind has maintained it is a religious organisation with no connection to radical Islam. Established in 2009 in Chennai as a religious organisation, it had earlier denied links to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

While booking Bukhari and his associates, the NIA, in a statement, said they had been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act “based on credible information received that the accused persons, while being within and beyond India, had conspired and conducted consequent preparations to wage war against the Government of India by forming the terrorist gang Ansarulla”.

The NIA claimed that it had “learnt that the accused persons and their associates had collected funds and made preparations to carry out terrorist attacks in India, with the intention of establishing Islamic rule in India”.

During the searches Saturday, the NIA claimed to have seized nine mobile phones,15 SIM cards, seven memory cards, three laptops, five hard disks, six pen drives, two tablets and three CDs/DVDs besides documents including magazines, banners, notices, posters and books.

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If Navjot does not want to do his job, there’s nothing I can do: Amarinder

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New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh took a jibe at Navjot Singh Sidhu and said that if he was unwilling to discharge his duties as a minister, there was nothing he could do about it.

The Punjab chief minister asserted that Sidhu was given a new portfolio after much deliberation and instead of accepting his new portfolio, he decided to shun the work in the middle of the crucial paddy season.

“If Sidhu doesn’t want to do the job, there is nothing I can do about it,” said Captain Amarinder, questioning how a soldier could refuse a job assigned by the General. There has to be some discipline in the government if it is to function effectively, added Amarinder Singh.

 

Asked if Sidhu had got in touch with him to resolve the issues, the Punjab CM said there was no need for it. “I do not have any issues with him. If Sidhu has any issues with me, you’ll have to ask him about them,” he added.

Singh, however, noted that he did not see any harm in Sidhu’s decision to send his resignation papers to the Congress president. The cabinet was decided in consultation with the Congress high command so there was nothing wrong in Sidhu’s decision to send his resignation to the party president, said the Chief Minister. He was talking informally to reporters at Parliament House after a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Punjab chief minister said that he came to meet PM Modi since he had not met him so far during the latter’s second term. However, he took the opportunity to discuss the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji. The prime minister confirmed his participation in the mega event and assured of all possible help to make the programme a grand success, befitting the historic occasion, said Singh.

The legacy issue of the Rs 31,000 crore food debt also came up for discussion and the prime minister said that he was aware of the matter, said Punjab CM.

The Punjab CM said that the portfolios of 13 of the 17 ministers in his cabinet were reshuffled after the recently held Lok Sabha election and Sidhu was the only member who had problems with his new portfolio. The reshuffle was decided on the basis of the performance of the ministers and Sidhu should have accepted his new department, he stressed.

It is to be noted that Sidhu was given the crucial Power Ministry after the reshuffle and according to Singh the portfolio was particularly important at this time in view of the paddy season, from June to October. With many parts of Punjab not receiving adequate rainfall, the power situation was critical, requiring day to the day monitoring, said the Chief Minister, adding that he was himself doing this job now.

Singh said that he was unhappy with the statements made by Sidhu and his wife regarding the latter’s candidature for the parliamentary elections. He clarified that he had never opposed Sidhu’s wife’s candidature and had suggested she should contest from Bathinda but the couple rejected the offer.

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