Newletter 28th May, 2018




Four Lok Sabha seats and 10 state assembly constituencies are set to go to polls on Monday with both the Congress and BJP looking to assert their position in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Lok Sabha byelections will be held for Kairana constituency in UP, the Bhandara-Gondiya and Palghar seats in Maharashtra and the Nagaland constituency.

Assembly bypolls will be held in Bihar (Jokihat), Jharkhand (Gomia and Silli), Kerala (Chengannur), Uttar Pradesh (Noorpur), Uttarakhand (Tharali), Maharashtra (Palus Kadegaon), Meghalaya (Ampati), Punjab (Shahkot) and West Bengal (Maheshtala).

The results of today’s polls will be declared on May 31.





Virtually picking up from where he had left off in Cuttack a day earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mounted a scathing attack on the Congress Sunday, saying the party that has “worshipped only one family cannot worship democracy”.

“Unke liye unka parivaar hi desh hai, aur mere liye desh hi mera parivaar hai (For them their family is their country, while for me the country is my family), Modi said in Baghpat in western Uttar Pradesh, where he inaugurated the 135-km greenfield Eastern Peripheral Expressway.

The Congress, Modi said, had no faith in democracy and constitutional institutions, referring to the move to bring an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India. “We have recently seen how they put the faith in the country’s highest court in danger. The country has seen that they have suspected the Election Commission, EVMs, the even the RBI and its policy,” he said.

Speaking on what was the first day of the final year of his government, the Prime Minister seemed to be firmly in election campaign mode. “You can gauge the speed of our government’s work by this: in 10 years, the Congress could connect only 59 panchayats with optic fibre network. We have connected 1 lakh panchayats in just four years,” he said. The Congress, he said, had lost its bearings seeing the kind of development that his government was bringing.

In an apparent reference to opposition parties coming together against the BJP, Modi asked people to assess carefully those who stood on the two sides of the political divide. “You must see carefully what kind of people are there on the other side and who are there on this side,” he said.

The Congress was anti-poor, the PM said in Baghpat Sunday, and four years of development under the BJP was giving the party sleepless nights, so it was resorting to lies. “Now they are spreading a new lie that if farmers give their land on contract farming, the government will charge them 18 per cent GST. The party that did not learn from its defeat in elections is spreading so many lies and misleading the farmers,” he said.

The Congress was also spreading falsehoods about the government’s initiatives for Dalits, tribals and minorities “even at the cost of creating unrest in the country”, Modi alleged.

“They find development a joke… sanitation a joke… building toilets for women of our country a joke… opening bank accounts for women a joke… Only those with anti-poor mentality can find jokes in all these issues,” he said.

With neighbouring Kairana scheduled to vote on Monday, Modi praised the law and order situation in UP under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. “I want to congratulate the popular CM Yogi ji, that under his leadership, all criminals are surrendering to police and swearing that they will not commit crimes any more,” he said.




The Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday summoned Pakistan deputy envoy Syed Haider Shah and lodged a strongly worded protest against Islamabad’s Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018, which essentially gives people of Gilgit-Baltistan all rights enjoyed by the four provinces of Pakistan.

Asserting that the entire Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan areas, was an integral part of India, the MEA warned Islamabad of any move to declare it as the fifth province.

Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh are four provinces of Pakistan. “It was clearly conveyed that the entire state of J&K which also includes the ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ areas is an integral part of India,” MEA said in a statement.

It further said any action by Pakistan to alter the status of a territory by force or illegal occupation had no legal basis and it should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation. “Any action to alter the status of any part of the territory under forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan has no legal basis,” MEA conveyed to Shah.

The new order, which replaced the Gilgit Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order of 2009, essentially seizes the powers of Gilgit Baltistan Council and entrusts the Prime Minister of Pakistan with indisputable authorities. All powers exercised by the four provincial assemblies under Schedule IV of the Constitution of Pakistan has been entrusted to the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.

The ministry said it was also conveyed to the Pakistani deputy envoy that such actions could neither hide the illegal occupation of part of J&K by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations being perpetrated upon those residing there.




Veteran Congress man Digvijay Singh’s role in central Congress organisation ended today with party chief Rahul Gandhi divesting him of the charge of AICC general secretary incharge of Andhra Pradesh and appointing former Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy in his place.

Digvijay Singh was earlier removed as party general secretary for Telangana, Karnataka and Goa.  Singh is now involved in party affairs in a limited way as chairman of the election coordination committee in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. He has no AICC responsibility.

In another reshuffle, Gandhi has rested his confidant and senior leader CP Joshi as party general secretary for Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands appointing young MP from Assam Gaurav Gogoi in his place. Gogoi is also the son of former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Joshi has been facing tremendous heat from Congress cadres in Bengal and Assam where the party has lost out electorally.

These transitions in the Congress are part of a slow and steady overhauling of the party organisation under Gandhi who is installing his own team across states and is revisiting old power equations. A certain coterie called the shots under his mother Sonia Gandhi as Congress chief. Sonia Gandhi was mostly status quoist in party affairs and would not easily punish people.

Gandhi is experimenting by disturbing the status quo while striking a balance between old and new leaders.

In MP for instance, Gandhi named veteran Kamal Nath as state chief when a younger Jyotiraditya Scindia was seen to be a favourite for the post. In Himachal, Gandhi just posted former Rajya Sabha MP Rajni Patil as state incharge relieving former minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as general secretary.








US President Donald Trump said on Sunday his team arrived in North Korea to arrange for his possible meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In a message on Twitter, Trump said: “Our United States team has arrived in North Korea to make arrangements for the Summit between Kim Jong Un and myself. I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this. It will happen!”

Earlier on Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had reaffirmed his commitment to “complete” denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and to a planned meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Moon and Kim agreed at a surprise second meeting on Saturday that a possible North Korea-US summit, currently planned for June 12 in Singapore, must be held successfully, Moon told a news conference in Seoul.

Moon, who returned to Seoul on Thursday morning after meeting Trump in Washington in a bid to keep the high-stakes US-North Korea summit on track, said he delivered Trump’s “firm will” to end the hostile relationship with North Korea and pursue bilateral economic cooperation.





China will host Iranian President Hassan Rouhani next month at a regional summit in a Chinese coastal city, the country’s foreign ministry said on Monday, as major power scramble to save Iran’s nuclear deal after the United States pulled out.

Rouhani will pay a working visit to China and attend the summit of the China and Russia-led security bloc the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the ministry said.

It did not give exact dates for his visit, but the summit is scheduled to be held on the second weekend of June in the northern Chinese city of Qingdao. Iran is currently an observer member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, though it has long sought full membership.

Russia has previously argued that with Western sanctions against Tehran lifted, it could finally become a member of the bloc which also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics, Pakistan and India.






Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir have clearly rejected the Indian government’s gesture to cease operations in the state during the holy month of Ramzan, conducting their first strike since the announcement by attacking an Indian Army camp located in the Pulwama district of South Kashmir and killing an Army jawan and a civilian.

Police told news agencies that the terrorists attacked the 50 Rashtriya Rifles’ camp on Sunday night at Kakapora in the Pulwama district. Authorities told news agencies that Army personnel retaliated to the firing unleashed by the terrorists.

The attack left a jawan seriously injured.


On a day Tamil Nadu authorities lifted prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, Chief Minister K Palaniswami doubled the aid to families of the 13 people killed in police firing last week during anti-Sterlite plant protests from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. Moreover, Tamil Nadu DGP TK Rajendran said internet services would also be restored from Sunday night in Thoothukudi, the nerve centre of the protests.

On Sunday, the district limped back to normalcy as hoteliers, restaurateurs and private bus operators commenced their services.

The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered a stay on the expansion of the copper plant.

Meanwhile, retorting to opposition charge and media reports that he had a hand in granting clearance to the Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin, former Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said the factory was given nod before he assumed charge. “The facts speak for themselves. I became Minister of Environment and Forests on May 31, 2009. The Sterlite project received three rounds of clearances on March 30, 2007, August 9, 2007 and January 1, 2009 – all before I assumed charge as the Minister concerned”, he said.


While the Uttarakhand police recently rewarded Sub Inspector Gagandeep Singh of Uttarakhand’s Ramnagar police station for rescuing a Muslim youth from being assaulted by a mob comprising right-wing outfits in the premises of the Garjiya temple in Uttarakhand’s Ramnagar town, BJP MLA Rajkumar Thukral, warned that the right-wing outfits will fight the “destroyers of the Hindu culture”.

Members of right-wing outfits, comprising of the VHP, had spotted Irfan (23) with a 19-year-old Hindu girl near the temple and began thrashing him when SI Singh, who was posted in the temple premises, shielded Irfan from the angry mob. Singh had safely taken Irfan out of the temple premises, for which he received admiration from all around.

However, speaking to the media, the BJP MLA objected to the presence of a Muslim youth in the temple premises. “It is time to teach a lesson to the people who want to destroy the atmosphere of Ramnagar. If (Ramnagar) police and the administration does not wake up then the Hindu Sena will have to come out and fight the people who wish to destroy Hindu culture,” Thukral said.


Low-cost carriers IndiGo and Air India Express have been ranked among the top five cheapest airlines in the world, according to Global Flight Pricing report.

Air India Express, the wholly-owned subsidiary of state-run carrier Air India, was ranked second, while the budget carrier IndiGo was placed at fifth position in the report prepared by Melbourne-based Rome2rio — a multimodal travel planning site.

The report compared 200 major airlines across continents by the average price per kilometre, with Air Asia X taking the pole position.

Air India Express, mostly connecting Gulf countries and Singapore, has an average cost of USD 0.08 per km and IndiGo USD 0.10 per km. The latter connects Indian cities with Gulf countries besides Bangkok, Colombo and Kathmandu.

According to the report, four out of the top five cheapest airlines are in Asia, while none of the carriers from US and UK could make it to the list this year.

Etihad, Ryanair, Qantas, Wow Air and Virgin Australia were among the top ten affordable airlines.


Australian Shane Watson overcame a slow start on his way to an unbeaten 117 to guide Chennai Super Kings to their third Indian Premier League title with an eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.

Chasing 179 for victory at the Wankhede Stadium, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai eased to the target with nine deliveries to spare to complete a fairytale comeback to the popular T20 tournament.

Chennai, easily the most consistent side in the tournament with four runners-up trophies, returned to the 11th edition having served a two-year ban along with the Rajasthan Royals following an illegal betting scandal in 2013.

Put in to bat first, Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson top-scored for his side with a 47 off 36 balls while Yusuf Pathan scored a brisk unbeaten 45 off 25 deliveries to take Hyderabad to 178/6.


Pakistan completed a convincing nine-wicket victory over England to win the first Test at Lord’s with more than a day to spare on Sunday.

Set just 64 for victory on the fourth morning, Pakistan finished on 66 for one before lunch to go 1-0 up in this two-match series ahead of next week’s second Test at Headingley.

What made this loss—just England’s third defeat in a home Test starting in May—all the more galling for Joe Root’s side was that they were outplayed in classic English conditions by a youthful Pakistan side, who displayed far greater discipline with both bat and ball.

Scores: England 184 &n 242; Pakistan 363 & 66/1


The second Grand Slam of the tennis calendar – and the only major on clay – begins on Sunday.

Spain’s 16-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal is still the man to beat in Paris, while 23-time major winner Serena Williams is the star attraction in the women’s draw.

However, two of the biggest names will not be playing in the French capital – 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and Britain’s former world number one Andy Murray.

Beating Nadal on a clay court is the ultimate challenge in tennis – a notion both 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic and three-time Grand Slam champion Murray agree on. And, once again, the 31-year-old Spaniard is the favourite to win at Roland Garros.

Nadal triumphed in Paris last year, becoming the first player – male or female – to win the same Grand Slam tournament 10 times in the Open era.

For the second year running, Federer – who turns 37 in August – has decided to skip the entire clay-court season. When announcing his decision last year, he spoke about the need to be smart with his scheduling to prolong his career, and the French Open – on his least favourite surface and a tournament which he has won only once in 2009 – has been sacrificial.

The decision proved to be a sensible one last year as a refreshed Federer returned to the court for the grass season, going on to lift a record eighth Wimbledon title.

The Swiss maestro regained the world number one ranking in February after a blistering start to the year in which he claimed the Australian Open during a 17-match winning run. But successive defeats – by Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final, followed by a shock loss against injury-hit Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis – preceded the announcement Federer would again skip Roland Garros.

A flustered Jelena Ostapenko became only the sixth female Grand Slam champion to fall at the first hurdle of her title defence when she lost to Kateryna Kozlova. Never at ease on the Roland Garros main show court, the world No. 5 slumped to a 7-5 6-3 defeat to a Ukrainian opponent who had won both the pair’s previous meetings. Not since Anastasia Myskina went down in the opening round in 2005 has the French Open lost its women’s champion so early, and the 20-year-old slipped off court, her head bowed, ruing what she called a “terrible day”.

Venus Williams slumped out 6-4 7-5 to China’s Wang Qiang. The loss marked the first time 2002 runner-up Williams has lost her opening match here since 2001, and the only time in her career she has lost consecutive Grand Slam opening round matches.


Daniel Ricciardo brought back memories of Formula One great Michael Schumacher in his prime on Sunday as the Australian nursed a wounded Red Bull to Monaco Grand Prix victory in the team’s 250th race.

Winning from pole position for the first time in his career, Ricciardo drove for nearly two thirds of the race with a car down on power due to problems that emerged on lap 28.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, last year’s race winner, finished second to cut Lewis Hamilton’s overall lead to 14 points after six of 21 rounds. Hamilton, the reigning world champion, was third for Mercedes.


The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds. – Will Durant


A Hyderabadi couple is silent in bed.

Wife is thinking thus: Why is he not talking to me? Is he thinking of another woman? Is he seeing someone? Don’t I appeal to him anymore? Are wrinkles showing on my face? Is he trying to dump me? Have I put on weight at the wrong places? Does my make up repel him these days. Is he upset with my nagging? Why?

Husband in thinking:  Why the hell did Kane Williamson not bowl Rashid Khan in middle overs!

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