US-North Korea Summit Hangs On Kim Jong-Un Letter After Nuclear Talks Make Progress

Trump said he was “looking forward” to read the letter and Mike Pompeo said real progress had been made

New York, United States:  The United States and North Korea took a big stride Thursday towards holding a historic nuclear summit, as President Donald Trump awaited delivery of a letter from Kim Jong Un.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “real progress” had been made in New York talks with Kim’s right-hand man, while in Pyongyang the Korean leader re-committed to “denuclearization.”

Washington is looking for signs that Kim is ready to accept that talks must lead to him giving up his nuclear arsenal and if the letter is well received it will mark an extraordinary diplomatic turn-around.

US officials said the North Korea delegation would come to Washington to meet Trump and deliver the message on Friday, one week after Trump had abruptly called off preparations for the planned June 12 summit in a sharply-worded letter of his own.

Since that short-lived crisis, diplomats in both countries have conducted an intense flurry of negotiations, culminating on Thursday when Pompeo sat down in New York with Kim’s number two, Kim Yong Chol.

Simultaneously, Kim met Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and, according to official news agency KCNA, said the North’s “will for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula still remains unchanged and consistent and fixed.”

It is still not clear whether North Korea’s vision of “denuclearization” in exchange for security guarantees and sanctions relief can be brought into line with Washington’s demand for a “complete, verifiable and irreversible” end to its nuclear program.

But Pompeo suggested things are moving in the right direction.

“It will take bold leadership from Chairman Kim Jong Un if we were able to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to change the course for the world,” he said.

“President Trump and I believe Chairman Kim is the kind of leader who can make those kind of decisions, and in the coming weeks and months, we will have the opportunity to test whether or not this is the case.”

Strategic shift

Kim Yong Chol — the most senior official from Pyongyang to visit the United States in 18 years — is expected to head to Washington to present an eagerly expectant Trump with a letter from his young leader.

But Pompeo warned that this message in itself may not resolve all the issues standing in the way of the summit.  

“This is a difficult, difficult challenge. Make no mistake about it. There remains a great deal of work to do,” Pompeo said, citing ongoing talks in Singapore and in the demilitarized zone on the Korean border.

But he said that, after what has now been two meetings with Kim Jong Un and three with Kim Yong Chol, he believes the North is at least ready to consider meeting US demands for denuclearization.

“I believe they are contemplating a path forward. They can make a strategic shift. One that their country has not been prepared to make before. This will obviously be their decision,” he said.

US officials now expect the summit to go ahead, but they want North Korea to accept that nuclear disarmament be at the heart of the discussion — and warn that there can be no end to trade sanctions without it.

Asked whether the answer would come on Friday in the letter, Pompeo said he did not know but added “we have made real progress in the last 72 hours toward setting the conditions.”

“The conditions are putting President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un in a place where we think there could be real progress made by the two of them meeting,” he said.

Earlier, in Washington, Trump had said he was “looking forward” to reading the letter.

Russia urges caution

On his visit to Pyongyang, Lavrov warned against setting expectations too high, urging all sides to “avoid the temptation to demand everything and now.”

The veteran Russian envoy passed on greetings from President Vladimir Putin to Kim and invited him to visit Russia, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Russia is the latest major nation to reach out to North Korea since Trump accepted Kim’s proposal for a summit. Kim has already had two meetings each with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Anti-Kremlin Journalist Arkady Babchenko Smeared In Pig’s Blood To Fool The World

Make up artists covered Babchenko’s mouth, nose and the three bullet holes with pig blood

KIEV, Ukraine:  Anti-Kremlin journalist Arkady Babchenko, who has dismissed criticism of helping stage his own death, disclosed Thursday some details of the ruse that fooled the world for a day.

Babchenko made a shocking reappearance at a press conference in Kiev on Wednesday, more than 12 hours after the Ukrainian authorities reported he had been shot dead at his home in a contract-style killing.

Ukraine’s SBU security service said the ruse was meant to foil a real assassination plot against Babchenko ordered by Russia and has arrested the organiser of the crime.

“From what I know, planning for the special operation got under way two months ago,” Babchenko told journalists, adding he was brought into it one month ago.

Babchenko said that at first he was incredulous, and even angry at the SBU, but changed his mind when he saw the very detailed information the hit man had on him.

Babchenko left Russia in February 2017 after receiving threats, living first in the Czech Republic, then in Israel, before moving to Kiev.

He contributed to a number of media outlets including top opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and is an avid blogger, accusing Russian authorities of killing Kremlin critics and unleashing wars in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

After Babchenko agreed to cooperate, they needed to cut down on his leaving his apartment.

“To reduce the danger we came up with a cover story that I had broken a leg in order to explain why I wasn’t leaving home,” said Babchenko, who served as a soldier in both Russia’s campaign’s in Chechnya before becoming a war correspondent.

Despite the detailed planning the operation had to be rushed into action.

“They began to put pressure on the guy (the hitman) because they had given him three weeks to carry it out,” said Babchenko, adding they had planned to stage the killing on June 1.

The day of the operation the make up artist arrived at his apartment at six in the morning.

“We had already thought out how it would happen, that the murder would take place on the landing when I opened the door” to go inside, he said.

Moreover, Babchenko said he was instructed how to lay down like a dead person in order to fool any chance witness.

“I had real pig’s blood. They covered my mouth, nose and the three bullet holes with it. And behold, I’m dead,” said Babchenko.

Then began the operation to deceive the media, the public, and most importantly, the person who ordered the killing.

“My wife called the police, then the ambulance. The Berkut (police SWAT team) came in an instant, I didn’t expect that. I want to congratulate them, they immediately checked the rooms, the safety of the stairwells, like in a film. They didn’t know about the operation,” said the journalist.

Ukrainian authorities told the media that Babchenko had died in the ambulance, but he said the show continued until “they closed the door of the morgue behind me.”

“There, they resuscitated me,” said Babchenko.

Between the staged murder and his arrival at the morgue four hours had elapsed during which Babchenko successfully fooled the Ukrainian police and the world.

Then began the waiting: “I watched the news, how far they went in saying I was a nice guy.”

Eventually he was moved out of the morgue to avoid being caught by a persistent journalist.

“I was taken to a safe location. It finished only at five in the morning. Then I could go to sleep.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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True Indo-Singapore relations on terms of strategic relations: PM Modi

सिंंगापुर: पीएम नरेंद्र मोदी ने भारत और सिंगापुर के बीच नजदीकी और गर्मजोशी भरे रिश्तों की सराहना करते हुए गुरुवार को कहा कि भविष्य असीम संभावनाओं का संसार है और दोनों शेरों (देशों) को इसमें एक साथ कदम रखना चाहिए.

मोदी तीन देशों की अपनी यात्रा के अंतिम पड़ाव में गुरुवार को सुबह यहां पहुंचे. उन्होंने कहा कि दोनों देशों के बीच रक्षा संबंध सबसे मजबूत संबंधों में से एक हैं और दोनों पक्ष मिलकर नये दौर की भागीदारी निर्मित कर रहे हैं. उन्होंने यहां मरिना बे सैंड्स सम्मेलन केंद्र में एक कारोबारी एवं सामुदायिक कार्यक्रम में भारतीय मूल के लोगों को संबोधित करते हुए कहा , ‘‘ भारत और सिंगापुर के राजनीतिक संबंध सबसे नजदीकी और गर्मजोशी भरे रहे हैं. यहां कोई प्रतियोगिता या दावा नहीं है, कोई शक-सुबा नहीं है. ’’

मोदी ने गहरे रक्षा संबंधों का हवाला देते हुए कहा , ‘‘यह साझे दृष्टिकोण की नैसर्गिक सहभागिता है. हमारे रक्षा संबंध दोनों पक्षों के लिए सबसे मजबूत संबंधों में से हैं. हमारी सशस्त्र सेना सिंगापुर की सेना का आदर एवं प्रशंसा करती है. भारत के सिंगापुर के साथ सबसे लंबे और सतत नौसैनिक अभ्यास होते रहे हैं. ’’ उन्होंने कहा कि दोनों देश अंतरराष्ट्रीय मंचों पर नियम आधारित व्यवस्था, सभी देशों के लिए स्वायत्त समानता और वाणिज्य एवं संबंधों के लिए मुक्त एवं खुले रास्ते के मुद्दे पर एक सुर में बोलते हैं.

यह भी पढ़ें : सिंगापुर में होटल के बाहर भारतीय समुदाय के लोगों से मिले पीएम नरेंद्र मोदी

मोदी ने कहा, ‘‘यह भागीदारी भारत के वैश्विक संबंधों की अग्रिम कतार में है. सिंगापुर भारत के शीर्ष निवेशकों को निवेश रास्तों में से है. सिंगापुर पहला देश है जिसके साथ हमने विस्तृत आर्थिक तालमेल अनुबंध किया.’’ मोदी ने तालियों की गड़गड़ाहट के बीच कहा , ‘‘इस अद्भुत विरासत, साझे मूल्यों की ताकत और मानवीय संबंधों की नींव पर भारत और सिंगापुर मौजूदा दौर की सहभागिता निर्मित कर रहे हैं. यह एक ऐसा संबंध है जो सही मायने में रणनीतिक संबंधों की शर्तों पर खरा उतरता है.’’

प्रधानमंत्री ने कहा कि भारत क्षेत्रीय विस्तृत आर्थिक भागीदारी को किसी प्रारंभिक निष्कर्ष तक पहुंचाने के लिए सिंगापुर के साथ मिलकर काम करेगा. उन्होंने कहा कि भारत – सिंगापुर क्षेत्रीय विस्तृत आर्थिक अनुबंध की समीक्षा की जा रही है और दोनों पक्ष इसे आगे ले जाने के लिए साथ काम करेंगे. उन्होंने कहा , ‘‘जब भारत विश्व के लिए खुला और पूर्व की ओर देखा , सिंगापुर एक भागीदार और भारत एवं आसियान के बीच एक सेतु बन गया. भारत के संबंध क्षेत्र के साथ जैसे जैसे बढ़ते जाएंगे, सिंगापुर आसियान और विस्तृत पूर्व का द्वार बना रहेगा. आसियान का मौजूदा चेयरमैन होने के साथ सिंगापुर इस साल आसियान के साथ भारत के संबंधों को और आगे बढ़ाएगा.’’

VIDEO : इंडोनेशिया में भारतीय समुदाय से मिले पीएम मोदी

उन्होंने कहा कि भारत के विकास की प्राथमिकता के कई क्षेत्रों जैसे स्मार्ट शहर, शहरी समाधान, वित्तीय क्षेत्र, कौशल विकास, बंदरगाह, लॉजिस्टिक, विमानन और औद्योगिक पार्क आदि में सिंगापुर मुख्य भागीदार बना रहेगा. मोदी ने आगे कहा, ‘‘दोनों शेरों (भारत और सिंगापुर) को भविष्य में एक साथ कदम रखना चाहिए.’’ भारत की सफलता की कहानी पेश करते हुए मोदी ने कहा कि भारत की अर्थव्यवस्था अब स्थिर हो चुकी है और तेज गति से आर्थिक सुधार किए जा रहे हैं. उन्होंने कहा कि भारत कारोबार सुगमता के मामले में 42 पायदान ऊपर आ चुका है और 1400 पुराने कानून खत्म किए जा चुके हैं.

(इस खबर को एनडीटीवी टीम ने संपादित नहीं किया है. यह सिंडीकेट फीड से सीधे प्रकाशित की गई है।)

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From UP Ally, A Tip For Congress To Beat BJP In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh

The message from Kairana, Mr Chaudhary said, was that people wanted them to “work and stay together”

New Delhi:  The Congress will be the fulcrum of the joint effort by opposition parties to unite against the BJP at a national level in 2019, Jayant Chaudhary of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, or RLD, told NDTV on Thursday after his party’s Tabassum Hasan snatched the Kairana parliament seat from the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

The RLD, which traditionally counts the Jat community among its strongest supporters, had fronted the offensive in Kairana with firm support from other non-BJP parties such as Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress. The success of this loose alliance is seen as evidence that if the opposition parties do unite, the ruling BJP would have a real fight on its hands in 2019.

But Mr Chaudhary had some advice for India’s grand old party that is often seen to be too over-bearing in states by regional players,

There are states where regional parties can take on the BJP on their own might. But there are several states where it is a fight between Congress and BJP. This is where, he said, the Congress is going to “have to strike a fair balance” and involve parties from other states as well.

“There is no reason why Congress can’t involve regional parties in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and other states where the Congress is the principal opposition parties,” he said.

Mr Chaudhary did elaborate on this template but it is being seen as a suggestion that the Congress should tie up with regional players such as the BSP and his own, RLD, even in states where it has traditionally gone alone.

“They (Congress) are going to have to collaborate. There are several regional parties and leaders who are willing to work with the congress. They just need to be given the right samman (respect) as they call it, the right manch (platform, or in an election, seats),” Mr Chaudhary said.

It is a sentiment that Mayawati had also alluded to last week when she held out a warning for potential allies that the BSP was willing to go solo in the general elections if a “respectable seat-sharing” agreement could not be worked out.

But would the Congress be willing to take the back seat, if needed in the interest of the grand alliance of non-BJP parties?

Yes, asserts Congress leader Manish Tiwari, underlining the Congress’s unconditional support for the Janata Dal Secular’s HD Kumaraswamy to be the Chief Minister in Karnataka despite.

Mr Chaudhary said the grand alliance of non-BJP parties would require all organisations to “let go of their own individual aspirations and their own organisational needs” to be part of the larger emerging story.

The message from Kairana, he said, was that people wanted them to “work together and stay together”.

“I have confidence that the opposition is also going to learn from their past mistakes… It is not a question of personal egos and the results are good,” he said, confident that the public pressure for them to unite would be the “biggest pressure”.

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I Didn’t Want To Share Sergei Skripal’s Fate

A day later, Babchenko walked to the podium at a televised news briefing about his death

KIEV, Ukraine:  Dissident Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko said on Thursday he collaborated in a plot to fake his own death because he feared being targeted for assassination like former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday night that Babchenko, a Kremlin critic, had been gunned down in his apartment building in Kiev. Pictures of his body in a pool of blood were published and officials suggested Russia was behind the assassination, something Moscow flatly denied.

A day later, Babchenko walked to the podium at a televised news briefing about his death. Ukrainian security officials said they staged his apparent murder to thwart and expose a Russian plot to assassinate him.

That drew criticism from some media defenders and commentators who questioned whether the ruse and the false outpouring of grief and finger-pointing at Russia it generated had undermined credibility in journalism itself and in Kiev, handing the Kremlin a propaganda gift in the process.

Babchenko hit back in a joint interview in Kiev on Thursday, saying that he had gone along with the ruse, organised by Ukrainian security officials, because he feared for his life.

“Everyone who says this undermines trust in journalists: what would you do in my place, if they came to you and said there is a hit out on you?” Babchenko said, saying concerns about his life had to take precedence over worries about journalistic ethics.

Babchenko said he was exhausted after playing out the elaborate ruse. When Ukrainian security officials had approached him with information about a Russian plot to kill him, “my first reaction was: ‘To hell with you, I want to pack a bag and disappear to the North Pole.'”

“But then I realised, where do you hide? Skripal also tried to hide,” he said.

British authorities say that Skripal, a former Russian double agent, was poisoned in March with a military-grade nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury where he lived after leaving Russia in a spy swap.

Britain says Russia is culpable for the poisoning, an allegation Moscow denies.

Babchenko said he now lived in a secure location and felt safe for now.

His reported murder kindled a war of words between Ukraine and Russia, which have been at loggerheads since a popular revolt in Ukraine in 2014 toppled a Russian-backed government in favour of a pro-Western one.

It also produced international condemnation, in part because several prominent Russians critical of Putin have been murdered in recent years, three of them in Ukraine. Opposition groups and human rights organisations say the Kremlin is behind the killings. The Kremlin denies this.


Babchenko disclosed for the first time details of how he had helped fake his own death.

He said that a make-up artist had come to his apartment to give him the appearance of a shooting victim, that he was given a T-shirt with bullet holes in it to wear, and that pig’s blood was poured over him.

He played dead, he said, while medical teams – who were in on the ruse – took him to hospital in an ambulance and then certified him as dead and sent him to a morgue.

“Once the gates of the morgue closed behind me, I was resurrected,” Babchenko said, saying he had then washed off the fake blood and dressed himself in a sheet.

“Then I watched the news and saw what a great guy I had been,” he said, referring to media tributes to him after his death was widely reported.

Asked about his next steps, he said: “I plan to get some decent sleep, maybe get drunk, and then wake up in two or three days.”

He quipped that nobody had shown him a letter from President Vladimir Putin ordering his murder, but that despite initial scepticism he now believed assertions from the Ukrainian security service that he had been targeted in a Russian plot.

While saying he did not know why Russian authorities would want to kill him, he said he personally loathed Putin, whom he accused of starting several wars and being responsible for thousands of deaths.


Late on Thursday a Kiev court ordered the detention of a man who Ukrainian prosecutors say was involved in the plot and who had handed over $15,000 to a would-be killer.

The suspect Borys Herman, the co-owner of a weapons manufacturer, said he had been contacted by someone in Russia about plans to kill Babchenko but instead turned this information over to the Ukrainian authorities and worked on counterintelligence operations with them.

“I got a call from a longtime acquaintance who lives in Moscow, and in the process of communicating with him it turned out that he works for the fund of Comrade Putin precisely to orchestrate destabilisation in Ukraine,” he said.

“We knew perfectly well that there would be no killing,” he said, adding his work was done “only for the benefit of Ukraine.”

The Kremlin, which had called accusations of Russian involvement “the height of cynicism”, said on Thursday it was glad Babchenko was alive, but found the staging of his death strange.

Ukrainian politicians robustly defended the ruse.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said he was surprised and shocked by “pseudo-moral” criticism from abroad, while Anton Gerashchenko, a prominent lawmaker and adviser to the minister, said the operation had been vital in order to trace the trail from the would-be assassin to his handlers.

They had to believe the plan to kill Babchenko had succeeded “and force them to take a number of actions that will be documented by the investigation,” he wrote on social media.

“After all, Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero Sherlock Holmes successfully used the method of staging his own death for the effective investigation of complex and intricate crimes. No matter how painful it was for his family and Dr. Watson.”

Some remained unconvinced.

“Relieved that Arkadiy #Babchenko is alive!” tweeted the office of Harlem Desir, media representative of the European security and rights watchdog OSCE. “(But) I deplore the decision to spread false information on the life of a journalist. It is the duty of the state to provide correct information to the public.”

A senior EU diplomat in Kiev said Ukraine’s actions were understandable, but hoped the authorities would provide more information about what had happened.

“No one is angry, unlike some in other places, but we hope(Ukraine) understands that international goodwill is a finite resource – even if they are right and it’s a war against a superior enemy,” the diplomat wrote to Reuters in a message.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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IT Giants To Bring Online Education To Jammu And Kashmir

Education in Kashmir is adversely affected by the frequent curfews and shutdowns. (Representational)

New Delhi:  Three IT majors – Microsoft, Tech Avant-Garde and Efee Online – have come together to help Kashmiri students make up for academic losses due to frequent shutdowns and curfews.

The three firms have partnered with the Private Schools Association of Kashmir (PSAK) in starting an online education system in Jammu and Kashmir.

“PSAK is partnering with ‘Tech Avant-Garde, Microsoft and Efee online companies to bring Information Technology (IT) which is going to permit solutions to the education system especially during the frequent closure of education institutes of Kashmir,” PSAK head G.N. Var said in a statement.

Microsoft’s Aspire School Program Suite (MASP Pro) will be used to equip schools with innovative learning solutions and technology. This programme combines the benefits of Microsoft’s technology and e-payment solutions from Efee Online to empower teachers and students to be future-ready.

“This is an integrated learning online system in which a student will be given a software, ‘Lycee’ worth Rs 25,000 free with MASP Pro,” said Ali Sait, CEO, Tech Avant-Garde.

“The teachers will be given a device by which they will remain connected with the students especially during the internet shutdowns”, he added.

Ali Sait said the service was launched in Kashmir first because they wanted the state to become the centre of educational transformation in India.

The PSAK has appealed for special internet services for the education system.

Mr Var said restrictions, curfews and violence had become a part of everyday life in Kashmir.

“We are unable to provide quality education to students as our schools get shut. At times, we cannot even operate buses due to fear of violence. We cannot help the fact that we live in a conflict zone. What we are trying to do is to isolate the education sector in a way that it remains largely unaffected”, Mr Var added.

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Quora Now Available in Hindi, Support for Other Indian Languages Coming Soon

Aiming to expand its user base in India, popular question-and-answer platform Quora on Thursday launched in Hindi and promised the roll out of the platform in several other Indian vernacular languages soon.

“The launch of Quora Hindi is an expansion of our mission to share knowledge. We will soon launch the platform in other Indian languages within a few months,” Gautam Shewakramani, India Country Manager at Quora, told IANS.

“We are preparing the launch of the platform in several languages and the next launch may be in more than one language,” Shewakramani said.

Quora was founded in 2009 by Adam D’Angelo, a former Chief Technology Officer at Facebook.

The Mountain View, California-headquartered company currently has 200 million monthly unique visitors. Its English language version started generating revenues through advertisements from May 2017.

Besides English, the platform is available in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and starting May 2018 Indonesian too.

“There is currently no plan to monetise Quora Hindi. The focus now is on maintaining quality and credibility of information shared on the platform,” Shewakramani said.

“The idea of knowledge-sharing has a universal appeal. India fits well into our mission as this country has always valued knowledge and shared them with the greater world community,” he added.

Quora launched a beta version in Hindi to a small group of people in April 2018 before making it available to all.

“Quora has been popular in India for many years, and now that we are opening Quora up in Hindi we hope to have even more participation from people in India. I’ve been excited to see the engagement throughout the beta of Quora in Hindi,” Shewakramani said.

“During the past few months, we’ve already seen thoughtful answers on diverse subjects, such as the relevance of Ram and Sita to couples today, the best places to visit in Delhi, advice for people traveling outside India who do not speak English, gender equality at home, among many others,” he added.

Since its launch in English in 2010, Quora has attracted leading personalities and experts who have answered all kinds of questions asked by people on Quora, and shared knowledge that was not available before.

People like former US President Barack Obama, Flipkart Co-Founder Sachin Bansal, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and social sector expert Smarinita Shetty are just a few examples.

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CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy

The Left is seen to be yielding political space to the BJP in West Bengal, Mr Reddy said

Hyderabad:  Veteran Communist leader Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy hailed CPI(M)-led LDF’s victory in Chengannur Assembly bypoll in Kerala but said a “deeper introspection” is needed in West Bengal, where the Left is seen to be yielding political space to the BJP.

The CPI General Secretary termed the win in Kerala a “very good positive” response from the people, who reposed their confidence in the Left government.

“The victory margin (20,956 votes) is fantastic,” Mr Reddy told PTI.

The ruling CPI(M)-led LDF’s Saji Cheriyan won the Chengannur seat, polling 67,303 votes. The Congress-led UDF candidate D Vijaykumar got 46,347 votes and BJP’s P S Sreedharan Pillai came third with 35,270 votes.

“That’s true,” he said on perception that the BJP is gaining ground in West Bengal at the cost of the Left. “We need to do deeper introspection on this issue (in West Bengal).”

Like in some of the recent elections in West Bengal, the BJP pushed the CPI(M) to third spot in Maheshtala assembly bypoll, where the TMC emerged victorious.

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Serious Fight If Opposition Unites For 2019, Says BJP’s Chandan Mitra

Chandan Mitra said he was confident that the party leadership would take steps for course correction

New Delhi:  The kind of opposition unity displayed in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana seat that led to the BJP’s defeat in the bypolls is a “serious setback”, said senior party leader Chandan Mitra.

The BJP’s Hukum Singh had won in 2014, netting over 50 per cent of the vote share. But this time there was a four per cent swing away from the party that led to the defeat of his daughter who was pitted against a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate backed by the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress.

“If the opposition unites, which they hadn’t all this while, the BJP has a really serious fight on its hands in the run-up to 2019,” Mr Mitra told NDTV.

In a constituency where sugarcane is the main cash crop for farmers, the RLD had raked up big time the issue of dues pending on sugar mills, cashing in on the disenchantment within the farming community.

Last year, ahead of the UP assembly polls that the BJP swept, the party had promised to ensure payment to farmers within two weeks of selling their produce.

BJP did not pay adequate attention to the issue of sugarcane farmers. Farmers are very unhappy and it was palpable,” admitted Mr Mitra.

On the eve of polling, at a public event in western UP’s Baghpat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought to allay concerns, saying the government was sensitive towards issues faced by sugarcane farmers and was working to resolve them.

Something has to be done so that farmers get a better price for their produce, said Mr Mitra.

He also referred to other “mistakes” made by the party, referring to the spike in fuel prices that has drawn sharp criticism from the opposition. After a daily hike in prices for 16 days, prices were slashed by one paisa a couple of days go. “That was a cruel joke,” said Mr Mitra.

He said he was confident that the party leadership would take steps for course correction.

Better ally management ahead of next year’s general elections was another issue flagged by the BJP leader. It comes against the backdrop of Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP quitting the BJP-led coalition at the centre earlier this year and a constant war of words between the BJP and its oldest ally Shiv Sena.

The BJP has to realise that it may get get 300 or 330 seats but allies are crucial, reasoned Mr Mitra. “Why did the TDP leave? It was an important ally. Why is Shiv Sena making threatening noises? You need to examine that,” he said.

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Jio Offers Rs. 2,750 Cashback, 100GB Additional Data With Samsung Galaxy J2 (2018), Galaxy J7 Duo

Jio and Samsung India have partnered to introduce exclusive offers on the purchase of two Samsung Galaxy devices, the Galaxy J2 (2018) and Galaxy J7 Duo, bundling them with cashbacks and other benefits for Jio users. Since last year, Jio has offered cashbacks on a number of smartphones and this is just the latest in a number of partnerships it has forged with smartphone brands to lure subscribers to its network. The Mukesh Ambani-promoted telco is the fourth biggest operator in India and has over 180 million subscribers across the country. 

As part of the scheme, Jio subscribers buying the Samsung Galaxy J2 (2018) can avail instant cashback vouchers up to Rs. 2,750 (55 cashback vouchers worth Rs. 50 each) along with 100GB additional 4G data (10 vouchers for 10GB additional data each) benefit. The offer is valid till September 30, 2018, and users will be able to avail the cashbacks and benefits with the Rs. 198 and Rs. 299 prepaid plans.

Similarly, Jio subscribers buying the Samsung Galaxy J7 Duo can avail instant cashback vouchers up to Rs. 2,750 (55 cashback vouchers worth Rs. 50 each), and double data for a maximum of four recharges. Once again, the offer is valid till September 30, 2018. Cashbacks are applicable on for Rs. 198 or Rs. 299 prepaid plans, while double data is valid on prepaid plans of Rs. 198 or above.

To recall, the Samsung Galaxy J2 (2018) was launched in India back in April, and came with pretty much the same launch offers. It appears the partnership has been extended for a longer time – up till September in this case. The Galaxy J2 (2018)’s highlight feature is the preloaded Samsung Mall app that is claimed to use artificial intelligence (AI) to let users shop online by clicking a picture of their desired product. A ‘Device Maintenance’ feature is also present to optimise the smartphone’s performance. Similarly, there is a storage-saving proprietary ‘Move to Memory Card’ feature that automatically directs content from social media apps to the external memory card.

The Samsung Galaxy J2 Duo was also launched in April, but didn’t come with any launch offers – meaning the Reliance Jio cashbacks and data benefits are now a selling point for the smartphone. Highlights of the Galaxy J2 Duo include an App Pair feature, Bixby Home, and a dual rear camera setup.

Written with inputs from IANS

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