BJP Lawmaker Harish Meena From Rajasthan Joins Congress Weeks Before December 7 State Election

Harish Meena was police chief in 2009-2013, among the longest for any top cop in Rajasthan.


Harish Meena, a BJP parliamentarian in Rajasthan and former top police officer, has quit his party and joined the Congress, weeks before assembly polls in the state.

Harish Meena, 64, is the MP from Dausa. A former Director General of Police, he had joined the BJP in 2014.

His exit is seen as a big blow to the BJP, which is fighting for another term in Rajasthan.  “I am happy that Harish Meena has decided to join the Congress in such times. I welcome him in the Congress fold,” senior Congress leader and former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said at a press conference.

Mr Meena’s brother Namo Narayan Meena is in the Congress. The Meenas are an influential community in Rajasthan and among the most significant voters in east Rajasthan. Meena voters dominate politics and government services.

Harish Meena was police chief in 2009-2013, among the longest for any top cop in Rajasthan.

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2 People In Madhya Pradesh Die Due To Zika Virus, 109 Affected In State

The virus has infected 109 people, out of which 34 are pregnant women, officials said.

New Delhi: 

Two persons, who tested positive for the Zika virus, died over the past 10 days in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal district, officials said Tuesday, as the number people suffering from the disease mounted to 109 in the state.

The two people — an 18-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman — were suffering from the virus and other “serious” diseases. Therefore, it cannot be said they died due to Zika, they clarified.

“We cannot say these deaths were due to the Zika virus as both the deceased suffered from multiple serious ailments, besides having tested (positive) for Zika,” a senior Health Ministry official said.

The virus has infected 109 people, out of which 34 are pregnant women, the officials said.

On November 5, an 18-year-old man died due to septic shock. He was suffering from dengue and encephalitis with brain herniation, besides being tested positive for the Zika virus, they said.

In the second case, the 23-year-old woman, who also died due to septic shock, was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, besides the virus. She died in the first week of November, the officials said.

Both the deaths were reported from the state’s Bhopal district, the officials said.

People have tested positive for the Zika virus in seven districts of Madhya Pradesh. This includes 44 cases were reported from Bhopal, 20 from Sehore, 29 from Vidisha, two each from Sagar and Hoshangabad, and one each from Narsinghpur and Raisen.

On Tuesday, a central team was sent to the state to review the situation and assist the Madhya Pradesh government to replicate measures and the action plan implemented in Jaipur and Ahmedabad to contain the disease, the senior official said.

In India, the first outbreak of the Zika virus was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district in July that year. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.

During the latest outbreak of the virus in the country, the first case surfaced on September 22, when an 85-year-old woman tested positive for the virus in Jaipur. Since then, the number of Zika cases have risen to 153 in Rajasthan.

In Madhya Pradesh an intensive screening exercise is being undertaken and vector control measures have been intensified. The government has also issued an advisory to district administrations to take steps to check mosquito breeding.

The state health department has advised pregnant women not to visit the affected areas.

The Zika virus, transmitted through the aedes aegypti mosquito, causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain.

It is harmful to pregnant women, as it can lead to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected, in newborn children.

The disease is under surveillance of the Union Health Ministry although it is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the WHO notification since November 18, 2016.

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Union Minister Ananth Kumar To Be Cremated With State Honours Today

Ananth Kumar’s body will be kept at National College grounds in Basavanagudi for last respects.


Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar, who died on Monday morning at a hospital in Bengaluru, will be cremated this afternoon. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, BJP President Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan are expected to attend the funeral.

“A state funeral with 21-gun salute and guard of honour will be accorded to the mortal remains of Ananth Kumar,” an official told news agency IANS.

Ananth Kumar was suffering from lung cancer and had returned from the US last month after treatment in New York. The minister’s wife Tejaswini and two daughters were with him in his last moments. His body was kept at his home in Basavanagudi for last respects.

Mr Kumar’s body will be taken to Jagannath Bhavan, the BJP’s state office in Malleshwaram and from there he will be taken to the National College grounds for public homage. He will be cremated around 1 pm at the Chamrajpet crematorium, state BJP General Secretary N Ravi Kumar said.

Despite a busy Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew into the city from Varanasi in the evening and met Mr Kumar’s family. He offered his condolences and laid a wreath on the glass casket draped in the tricolour.

PM Modi described him as a remarkable leader, an able administrator and a great asset to the BJP. President Ram Nath Kovind termed his death as “tragic loss”.

Ananth Kumar was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in June. He was initially treated at Sri Shankara Cancer Foundation following which he went to London and later taken to a hospital in New York.

“The cancer had spread to other parts of his body that resulted in his multi-organ failure and death,” the BJP’s state unit spokesman S Shantaram said.

Ananth Kumar was one of the few ministers to have also served in the earlier BJP-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In fact, he was the youngest minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet in 1998 and was minister for Civil Aviation, Tourism, Sports, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation.

The six-time MP from Karnataka was the first person to speak in Kannada in the United Nations.

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said Mr Kumar was a “friend beyond politics” and a value-based politician. “Our families had a friendship beyond politics. He always valued and had given priority to friendship. I have lost a great friend in his death,” the chief minister added.

Karnataka has announced a three-day state mourning and educational institutions and offices were closed on Monday.

A graduate in Arts and Law, Mr Kumar was associated with the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student organisation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), before joining the BJP in 1987.
As a student activist, he was also jailed along with other ABVP leaders during the Emergency of 1975.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996. In 1998, he became the youngest member of the Vajpayee cabinet and he returned as minister in 1999.

In 2003, he became the BJP’s Karnataka chief. The party won the highest number of seats in the assembly and the Lok Sabha under his stewardship.

The parliamentarian from south Bengaluru constituency held charge of two ministries in the Narendra Modi government — Chemicals and Fertilisers since May 2014 and Parliamentary Affairs since July 2016.

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State BJP Chief Dilip Ghosh

Amit Shah has set a target of 22 seats for the BJP in West Bengal, Dilip Ghosh said.


The BJP in West Bengal wants party president Amit Shah to contest the 2019 elections from Kolkata. “It will dramatically change the political atmosphere in the state,” Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said.  “If Mr Narendra Modi can contest from Puri, why not Mr Shah from Kolkata? Remember what happened in Uttar Pradesh after Mr Modi stood from Varanasi?”

The Trinamool Congress dismissed the “kite flying” by Mr Ghosh as attempts to “create hype” in Bengal. “An open challenge. Come and contest from any one of the 42 seats,” sources in the party said.

There is nothing official about Mr Shah’s candidature from Kolkata or Mr Modi’s from Puri but, according to Mr Ghosh, party workers have expressed the desire and that has been conveyed to central ‘karyakartas’ who have visited Kolkata in recent weeks.

“I hope our message will be conveyed to Mr Shah. I am sure he will give it the most serious consideration. After all, Bengal is very important for the BJP in this election,” he added.
Indeed, some months ago, Mr Shah set a target for the BJP in Bengal which currently has just two out of 42 Lok Sabha seats. Mr Shah said, minimum 50 per cent or 22 seats must be won.

With that in view, the BJP is hitting the campaign train in Bengal in the first week of December with three ‘rath yatras’ from different parts of the state that will congregate in Kolkata mid-January.

The ‘rath yatras’ will be flagged off from Tarapith in Birbhum district, Cooch Behar district and Sagar in South 24 Parganas district on the December 5, 7 and 9 respectively.

“No, they won’t be raths exactly but tableaus of our (central) government’s achievements and the failures of the Mamata Banerjee government,” Mr Ghosh said.

“We are calling them ‘save democracy yatras’ because there is no democracy in the state. We have applied for police permission but have not heard back from them yet,” he added.

The Trinamool Congress has dismissed BJP’s claims about its increasing sphere of influence in the state. “In vikas, which is the NDA’s big ticket (slogan), Mamata Banerjee wins hands down,” said a Trinamool Congress leader, adding, “so the BJP is only trying to fan communal trouble in the state. It will not be allowed to.”

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Number Of Dead Reaches 29 In California Wildfire, Deadliest In State

Search teams scoured the carnage of California’s most destructive ever wildfire for victims on Sunday.


The death toll from a devastating California wildfire has matched that of the deadliest to hit the state, with 29 people killed, a local sheriff said Sunday.

“Today, an additional six human remains were recovered, which brings our current total to 29,” Sheriff Kory Honea told a news conference.


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

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Haryana Ex-Chief Minister Denies Factionalism Within State Congress

We are requesting people to have faith in Congress, says former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda

New Delhi: 

Denying reports of any factionalism in Haryana Congress, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the “party’s face” for the next year’s assembly election in the state will be decided by the Congress high command and he will abide by it.

The assembly elections in the state will be held few months after the 2019-parliamentary elections.

“Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are our leaders. All the Haryana leaders are working to strengthen the Congress in the state and the party will take appropriate decision at the appropriate time,” Mr Hooda told PTI-BHASHA, denying reports of any infighting in the Congress.

“I will abide by the party high command’s decision,” he stressed, when asked what would be his role in the forthcoming elections.

The reports of growing factionalism in Haryana Congress are regularly coming in the media, however, both the state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar and Mr Hooda have been denying any infighting or differences between them.

On the internal rift in the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Mr Hooda said he did not want to comment on their “family matter”, but said true face of the INLD has come before the people.

Terming the BJP-led central and state governments as “failed” dispensations, he hoped the “old days” will return after the elections. “We are requesting people to have faith in Congress. Old days will return,” he quipped on the BJP’s promise of “good days” before the 2014-Lok Sabha polls.

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Empire State Building, New York Lights Up In Orange To Celebrate Diwali 2018

Happy Diwali 2018: This was the first time that Diwali celebration lit up the Empire State Building

New York: 

For the first time, the iconic Empire State Building was lit orange in celebration of Diwali. The world famous structure turned orange on Wednesday night as Indians across the world celebrated the festival of lights. The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), the largest non-profit umbrella organisation in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut of the Indian community, lit up the monument in a special ceremony.

It was organised by the FIA in cooperation with the Empire State Realty Trust and attended by key members of the Indian diaspora. A special dance performance and cultural show was also presented on the occasion.

Federation of Indian Associations President Srujal Parikh said this was the first time that Diwali celebration lit up the iconic building and was “witnessed by thousands of people, including tourists from all over the world.”

At the November 7 ceremony, Miss America 2014 Nina Devuluri and popular singer Jay Sean along with Srujal Parikh flipped the switch to turn on the orange lights on top of the Empire State Building.

The Empire State Realty Trust or ESRT and the FIA have been illuminating the Empire State Building in August every year in the colours of the Indian tricolour – orange, white and green – for the past two decades to mark India’s Independence Day.

The FIA said such gestures by the ESRT help in spreading the ancient Indian philosophy of Vasudeva Kutumbakam (the world is one family) and also demonstrates a great harmony in spirit and deeds between people of the world’s largest and oldest democracies.

For Srujal Parikh, that was the central message when he organised the India Day parade this year, bringing together for the first time communities from other South Asian and Caribbean nations.

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Election Commission Orders Removal Of State Officer In Mizoram Ahead Of Elections

EC directed Lalnunmawia Chuaungo be relieved of responsibilities with immediate effect (Representational)


The Election Commission or EC on Friday directed the Mizoram government to remove a principal secretary-level officer on charges of interfering with the poll process.

Shortly after this, an umbrella organisation of major civil societies and student bodies of the state demanded the removal of Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer or CEO SB Shashank, claiming that he has lost the trust of the people.

The NGO Coordination Committee also asked the CEO to leave the state by Monday evening.

Election to the 40-member Assembly will be held on November 28 and the EC issued the notification for it earlier in the day. The results will be out on December 11.

“… the Election Commission is satisfied that the continuance of Mr Lalnunmawia Chuaungo as Principal Secretary (Home), in State Government of Mizoram will have adverse impact on conduct of smooth, free and fair election process in Mizoram,” the EC order said.

The EC also directed that Mr Chuaungo be relieved of his present responsibilities with immediate effect and his services placed at the disposal of Ministry of Home Affairs.

He would not be assigned any work relating to Mizoram, or deputed to Mizoram till the process of elections is over, the EC’s order No. 23/MIZ/2018 said.

The order came after reports appeared in a section of the media that state Chief Electoral Officer SB Shashank had complained to the EC that Mr Chuaungo was interfering with the election process.

Mr Chuaungo has been working in Mizoram on inter-cadre deputation on loan from Gujarat since April this year.

The EC said the order followed “a series of incidents” that took place in Mizoram “causing concern to the commission regarding the successful completion of summary revision of Electoral Rolls and also successful conduct of free and fair election in Mizoram.”

It mentioned six incidents mainly related to the arrangements to enable Bru refugees staying in camps in Tripura take part in the voting process. Thousands of Bru community people had fled Mizoram in the late 1990s following ethnic clashes.

“The NGO Coordination Committee requested Shashank not to continue his job by leaving his post as CEO and also leave the state of Mizoram before dusk on November 5,” a statement issued by the umbrella organisation said.

Accusing Mr Shashank of working against the spirit of free, fair and peaceful polls, the committee urged the authorities to replace him with an official who had the confidence of the people.

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Xi Jinping Hopes For Stable Relationship With US: China State Media

Xi Jinping was also quoted as saying that he is willing to meet Trump in the upcoming G-20 summit. (File)


Chinese President Xi Jinping hopes China and the United States will be able to promote a steady and healthy relationship, Chinese state media reported on Thursday, as the world’s two largest economies engage in a bitter trade dispute.

In a phone call with US President Donald Trump, Xi also said he and Trump hoped to expand bilateral trade cooperation, Xi was quoted as saying on CCTV state television.

“The two countries’ trade teams should strengthen contact and conduct consultations on issues of concern to both sides, and promote a plan that both can accept to reach a consensus on the China-US trade issue,” Xi said.

The Chinese president was also quoted as saying that he was willing to meet Trump in Argentina during the G-20 summit.

Xi’s comments came after Trump said in a tweet that trade discussions with China were “moving along nicely” and that he planned to meet Xi at the upcoming G-20 summit, after the two had a “very good” talk.

China and the United States are locked in a trade war, and both countries have already placed tariffs on some of each others’ imports.

During Thursday’s phone call, Xi also said he hoped the United States and North Korea will push for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula to ensure regional stability.

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

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