Nirmala Sitharaman Chairs Delhi BJP Meet, Some Leaders Skip, Arrive Late

New Delhi: 

The first meeting of the BJP Delhi unit’s core group held on Saturday evening to stratagise on the Lok Sabha elections did not see the participation of two of its parliamentarians while others reached the event in the last minute.

The first such meeting was presided over by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharama, who has been appointed the party’s election in-charge in the national capital.

Party sources told IANS that north-west Delhi’s Member of Parliament Udit Raj and Union Minister Vijay Goel skipped the meeting while Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari reached minutes before Ms Sitharaman was about to end her speech.

The sources said the party’s west Delhi MP Pravesh Verma arrived after the meeting ended.

Besides Ms Sithraman, the meeting was attended by co-in-charge Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya, Shyam Jaju, Tarun Chugh and other members of the 16-member core group.

Vijay Goel, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, is a Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan.

Most of the attendees in the meeting whom IANS spoke said it was an organisational affair. But a senior party functionary said, “This shows their seriousness.”

Another party leader said Ms Sitharaman oversaw the party’s preparedness for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. She told them the BJP cannot afford to lose even a single parliamentary seat, the leader said.

In 2014, the BJP won all the seven Delhi seats with most of its candidates winning by a margin of over one lakh votes.

Sources said Ms Sitharaman will soon start district-wise meetings and her focus would be on looking into complaints by the party workers.

“She told party leaders to mobilise the workers at booth level. We have to reach every voter with the achievements of the Modi government and failures of the AAP government,” a party leader said.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has said it will contest all the seven constituencies without any alliance with Congress, which recently appointed former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as its state chief.

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US Senator Lindsey Graham Says Imran Khan An Agent Of Change, Will Urge Donald Trump To Meet Him

“Imran Khan is the agent of change that I’ve been looking for,” Senator Lindsey Graham said. (Reuters)


Leading US Senator Lindsey Graham vowed Sunday to urge President Donald Trump to meet Imran Khan to boost Washington’s Afghanistan peace efforts, calling the Pakistani prime minister an “agent of change”.

The Republican — an influential ally of Trump — made the comments in Islamabad after meeting with the Pakistani leader, saying Khan was a “new partner” who could potentially help with a peace deal in Afghanistan.

“I’m going to urge him (Trump) to meet with the prime minister as soon as practical,” Graham told reporters, saying he believed Khan and Trump would “hit if off” because they have “similar personalities”.

“Prime Minister Khan is the agent of change that I’ve been looking for,” he added.

Ties between Washington and Islamabad have soured recently, with US officials repeatedly accusing Pakistan of turning a blind eye to or even collaborating with the Afghan Taliban, which launch attacks in Afghanistan from alleged havens along the border between the two countries.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Pakistan’s alleged duplicity, saying late last year that Islamabad does not do “a damn thing” for the US.

Khan has been equally critical of Trump, saying before 2018’s election in Pakistan that a potential meeting with the US president would be a “bitter pill” to swallow.

The US lawmaker’s trip to Pakistan comes as American officials have held several rounds of talks with Taliban representatives.

Graham said a meeting between the two leaders was vital to carve out a potential deal in Afghanistan.

“They actually need to meet and come up with a agenda that will push a resolution to the war in Afghanistan,” the senator added.

Graham — once a potent critic of Trump — has transformed in recent months into an ardent defender and influential ally of the president.

The senator’s arrival also overlapped with an ongoing trip by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been shuttling around the region for months to build support for the peace initiative.

Khalilzad was in Kabul last week and then flew to Pakistan were he also met with the prime minister Friday as news reports in Pakistan suggested Islamabad was open to hosting the next round of talks with the insurgents.

The Taliban, however, have threatened to suspend the fledgling peace efforts, accusing Washington of changing the agenda of the talks and “unilaterally” adding new subjects.

Graham’s trip also comes after US officials announced in December that Trump intends to withdraw as many as half of the 14,000 US troops deployed in Afghanistan.

The meetings are the latest in a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at bringing the Taliban to the table for negotiations with the Afghan government on ending the conflict which began with the US invasion in 2001.

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

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4 Lawmakers Still Missing, Karnataka Congress Holds Legislature Party Meet At Bengaluru Resort

Congress lawmakers at the Eagleton Resort in Bengaluru.

New Delhi: 

The Karnataka Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting began at Bengaluru’s Eagleton Resort this evening, a day after lawmakers from the party were shifted there amid fears of poaching by the opposition BJP to topple the coalition government in the state. The Congress rules the southern state in alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular).

The Congress legislators, who were moved to the resort directly from the Vidhana Soudha on Friday evening, are likely to remain there until all the BJP lawmakers return from the Gurugram resort they were staying in. “They were taken to the resort to keep them safe from the BJP,” Siddaramaiah, former Chief Minister and leader of the Congress legislature party, told NDTV back then. The party currently has 76 of its 80 legislators in the resort, with four still missing.

The four Congress lawmakers — Ramesh Jarkiholi, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli — had skipped a mandatory CLP meet called on Friday by their party leadership. Although two provided explanations for their absence, all of them have been sent notices and further action may follow.

Meanwhile, the BJP legislators have already started returning to Karnataka. While some — including state party chief BS Yeddyurappa — are already in the city, the rest should be back soon. Mr Yeddyurappa had said that Congress members skipping the CLP meeting and “deep differences” between the coalition partners were indications that the government could “erupt like a volcano” in the coming days.

Both Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) leaders have been accusing Mr Yeddyurappa of offering inducements to Congress lawmakers in a renewed plan to take power in Karnataka before the national election, due by May. They allege that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have masterminded the plan.

The JDS-Congress has a strength of 118 in the Karnataka Assembly, where 113 is the majority mark. The four MLAs have not resigned from the party, and the ruling coalition says it is confident about its survival.

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Chief Ministers Of Meghalaya, Mizoram Meet Rajnath Singh, Urge Scrapping Of Citizenship Bill

All coalition partners from Meghalaya are against the Citizenship Bill, said Conrad Sangma.

New Delhi: 

As the northeast stands united against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, two chief ministers from the region met Home Minister Rajnath Singh today to urge the centre to scrap the controversial bill. Conrad Sangma, who is heading the government in Meghalaya in alliance with the BJP, and Mizoram’s new Chief Minister Zoramthanga said there should not be any dilution of the 64-year-old Citizenship Act.

“We have expressed our concerns over the bill. All coalition partners from Meghalaya are against the amendment. We have urged the centre to reconsider its decision and not to go forward with the Bill,” Mr Sangma said.

All northeastern states are unhappy, and the Meghalaya cabinet has even passed a resolution opposing the bill, he added.

“It (amendments) should not be there. Let it be as it is. Let it not be amended as it is proposed. That’s what we want,” Mr Zoramthanga told reporters.

Mr Sangma said that the Home Minister has assured them that he will look into it and that he will also call a meeting with all chief ministers from the northeast.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has already made it clear that the coalition government in the state led by the BJP will not support the passage of the Bill unless there is a provision for protecting the indigenous people of the northeast.

Several allies of the BJP have also made their opposition to the “discriminatory” bill known to the ruling party, but it maintained that the “bill is not any state or region specific, it is for the entire country”.

“We’re reaching out to our alliance partners who have expressed concerns over the bill, we’ll reassure them that interests of each and every state will be taken care of. We’re confident that those who have left will come back,” BJP’s troubleshooter and general secretary Ram Madhav, said referring to the Asom Gana Parishad’s (AGP) exit from the NDA over the bill.

Even though Mr Madhav accepted that some of the concerns are valid, he accused those opposing the bill of spreading misinformation.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has triggered massive protests in the northeastern states, was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8. The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.

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Meet Ranveer Singh Ke ‘Do Anmol Ratan’. Oh, He’s Hilarious

Ranveer Singh with rappers Divine and Naved in Mumbai (Image courtesy: Instagram)

New Delhi: 

Ranveer Singh, we love you for several reasons and one among them is obviously your social media activities and posts. On Thursday, the 33-year-old actor, who is awaiting the release of Gully Boy, shared a video of himself recreating the famous song Mere Do Anmol Ratan from the film Ram Lakhan and introduced rappers Divine and Naved as his ‘do Anmol Ratan‘. Ranveer, you are so hilarious! In the video, Ranveer is lip-syncing the song and Divine and Naved also sing with him. “Mere do Anmol Ratan,” Ranveer captioned his video, which appears to be taken at a dubbing studio. The post got over 4 lakh views within minutes of posting it.

Here’s the video we are talking about.



Ranveer Singh’s Gully Boy, also starring Alia Bhatt, is inspired by the struggles and work of Divine and Naved (Naezy). The duo are closely associated with the film.

After posting the video, Ranveer shared a picture with Divine and Naved. “Wolfpack,” he wrote.



Ranveer plays the role of a street rapper, who later becomes a sensation in the world of hip hop while Alia stars as his love interest.

Of Gully Boy‘s plot, director Zoya Akhtar told news agency PTI, “It is not a biopic on Divine and Naezy. It is a fictional story. It is inspired by them and their music. They worked with us on the script to make it authentic. There are lot of things from their life but it is not a biopic.”

Kalki Koechlin is also a part of Gully Boy, which releases on February 14.

(With PTI inputs)

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Karnataka Crisis Abates, But Congress’ Fingers Crossed Till Friday Meet

The Siddaramaiah-headed Congress is confident that all its 80 legislators will attend the meet.


After days of worrying about the stability of its coalition government in Karnataka, the state Congress can finally breathe a sigh of relief. It appears safe for now.

The party held a protest against the BJP, whom they have accused of trying to poach ruling legislators, at the Maurya Circle in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Several Congress lawmakers appeared to be missing in action over the last few days but things brightened up when two of those on the list – Anand Singh and Bheema Naik – turned up at the party’s informal meeting venue of the Kumar Krupa guesthouse. Congress leaders maintain that the remaining MLAs will also make an appearance at the legislature party meet on Friday. “All the 80 MLAs will be present at the meeting,” said Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee working president Eshwar Khandre.

Despite this show of confidence, doubts remain about some MLAs such as Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav and B Nagendra. Mr Jarkhiholi was recently dropped from the Karnataka cabinet.

The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in Karnataka has a strength of 118 in the 224-member house. Even if two or three MLAs choose to leave the Congress, the coalition will still remain above the halfway mark of 113. Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has made it clear that attendance at Friday’s legislature party meet is compulsory, and action would be taken against lawmakers who fail to come.

Karnataka Home Minister MB Patil said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were possibly involved in creating the crisis by offering Congress legislators “ministerial positions and cash” in return for jumping ship.

The BJP has responded to taunts about its “failed attempt” to bring down the government by claiming that there was no such move on its part. “This is what I want to ask the Congress: What operation were we performing? They were the ones who claimed that many BJP MLAs were in touch with them. The Chief Minister himself offered money to one of our MLAs and promised him a ministry,” claimed state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa, adding that there was no truth in the “rumours” about his party.

Mr Yeddyurappa has already returned to Bengaluru from Gurugram, where he had been camping with 100-odd BJP lawmakers in an apparent bid to prevent them from joining the ruling side. He paid a visit to the ailing Dr Shivakumar Swamiji, seer of the Siddaganga Mutt at Tumakuru, soon afterwards.

The rest of THE BJP legislators are expected to return soon, and Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao has rolled out the proverbial red carpet for them with a sarcastic tweet. “We extend a hearty welcome to all Karnataka BJP MLAs who are returning home after an extended holiday at a luxury resort near Delhi. Now that they are sufficiently rejuvenated, let us hope they begin working in the constituencies they have neglected for so long,” he said.

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PM Narendra Modi To Open Gujarat Investor Summit, Meet Foreign Leaders

Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit is being held in Gandhinagar from January 18 to 20.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a three-day visit to Gujarat from Thursday during which he will inaugurate the ninth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.

The summit is being held in Gandhinagar from January 18 to 20. PM Modi will take part in a series of other programmes during his January 17-19 visit which will also cover Silvassa, the capital of the neighbouring Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, according to the state government.

Upon his arrival on January 17, PM Modi would first inaugurate the ”Vibrant Gujarat Global Trade Show”, an integral part of the biennial investor summit.

Later in the afternoon, he would inaugurate a newly built hospital in Ahmedabad, according to the schedule.

The 1,500-bed hospital has been built in the premises of VS Hospital, run by the BJP-ruled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).

In the evening, the prime minister would inaugurate a shopping festival on the Sabarmati Riverfront. PM Modi would address gatherings at both these places.

On the morning of January 18, PM Modi will inaugurate the three-day summit. In the afternoon, he will have one-to-one meetings with some of the heads of state who would be attending the event.

Heads of five countries and over 30,000 national and international delegates, including CEOs of major companies from India and abroad, are expected to attend the 9th edition of the summit, according to organisers.

Indian business tycoons who are expected to attend include Mukesh Ambani, Uday Kotak, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Gautam Adani, Adi Godrej and Pankaj Patel.

CEOs and top executives of global companies like BASF, DP World, Suzuki, Vanguard and Maersk would also be present.

In the evening, the prime minister will take part in a “round table interaction” with the heads of global sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and institutional investors. This will be followed by a dinner with VVIP guests.

On January 19, PM Modi is scheduled to visit Hazira industrial area near Surat as well as Silvassa.

PM Modi “will visit Hazira in Surat on January 19 to mark the setting up of the Hazira Gun Factory”, the government said in a statement Wednesday.

From Hazira, he will go to Silvassa “to inaugurate as well as to lay foundation stone for various projects”, the statement said.

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Amid Political Turmoil, Karnataka Congress Calls Legislature Party Meet

According to Congress sources, few ministers from the party have even offered to step down. (File)


The Congress has called a meeting of its Karnataka legislature party on January 18 amid efforts to keep its flock together as it accused the BJP of indulging in horse-trading to destabilise the state government.

Asserting that the Congress MLAs were “intact,” the party leaders dismissed reports claiming that some legislator were ready to quit and said that there was no threat to H D Kumaraswamy-led government.

“Congress Legislature Party meeting presided by CLP leader Siddaramaiah is scheduled for 3:30 pm on January 18 at the Conference Hall of Vidhana Soudha (state secretariat),” Siddaramaiah’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The meeting assumes significance following attempts by the Congress to reach out to its disgruntled MLAs, who are allegedly ready to jump ship to the BJP side.

According to Congress sources, few ministers from the party have even offered to step down in the larger interest and to keep the coalition intact. The party leadership is also looking into the option, they added

There are reports that a few of the MLAs have gone incommunicado, with at least three to five of them camped in Mumbai along with a couple of BJP leaders.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Chikkamagaluru, Siddaramaiah lashed out at the BJP, calling it “shameless”.

“They (BJP) don’t have any belief in democracy. People have given them a mandate in the election to sit in the opposition.

“People have not given them the verdict to govern. In the last six months, they have been trying to destabilise this government,” he said.

“Yeddyurappa (BJP President) has grown old, but has no brain. He is around 76 years of age, but still he wants to become the chief minister through wrong means by offering crores of rupees to our MLAs. This is a threat to our democracy and BJP doesn’t believe in democracy and Constitution,” he alleged.

Accusing the BJP of keeping its MLAs confined to a hotel in Haryana, Mr Siddaramaiah charged the party leaders with furnishing false information to media about forming the government.

Congress General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal, who has been camping in the city since Monday night and holding a series of meetings with party leaders, said that all the Congress MLA’s are “fine and intact.”

He termed the media reports about a few party MLAs planning to resign as “baseless”.

“Nothing is going to happen. All the Congress MLAs are intact, we are in touch with all of them,” he told reporters.

Asked about MLAs camping in Mumbai, Mr Venugopal asked, “Are you sure that they are in Mumbai only?

“That was day-before yesterday, just verify now,” he said.

Mr Venugopal asserted that the coalition government “will continue for next four-and-half years”.

“We have nothing to worry, we have contact with every MLA, all will be okay.

“We are also calling CLP meeting on January 18,” he said and accused the BJP of making repeated attempts to destabilise the government by trying to poach MLAs.

Pradesh Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said there is not going to be any “Sankranthi-kranti, or Deepawali-damakha or New Year-blast” as claimed by the BJP.

“It will be flop show by BJP… our government is stable, there is not even an inch of threat to the government and we are relaxed,” he said.

Speaking to reporters here, Rao also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, accusing them of ”attempting to lure” MLAs, and called it “unfortunate”.

“There is no need to worry or discuss our government”s stability. What needs to be discussed is unconstitutional attempts by the BJP government at the centre and its use of government machinery to threaten MLAs,” he added. 

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For The Budget Session, Parliament To Meet From January 31

It will be the last session of the sixteenth Lok Sabha. (File)

New Delhi: 

Parliament will meet from January 31 to February 13 for the Budget session with interim budget to be presented on February 1, it was officially announced on Wednesday.

The session will begin with address by President Ram Nath Kovind to the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 

It will be the last session of the sixteenth Lok Sabha as the elections are likely to be held in April-May. 

The brief session will have 10 sittings and the government is expected to make another push for getting the triple talaq bill passed in the Rajya Sabha, where it is pending.

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