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Goa

Parrikar cremated with full military, state honours

The last rites of Goa Chief Minister and former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday after suffering from pancreatic cancer for over a year, were held with full military and state honours at the Miramar beach here on Monday evening.

Manohar Parrikar
Manohar Parrikar
The last rites of Goa Chief Minister and former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday after suffering from pancreatic cancer for over a year, were held with full military and state honours at the Miramar beach here on Monday evening.
 
Thousands of supporters and BJP workers accompanied the funeral cortege from the Kala Academy Arts and Cultural Centre, where the remains had been kept throughout the day for the public to pay last respects to the nearby Miramar beach.
 
The mortal remains of Parrikar, wrapped in the national tri-colour, were placed on a pyre amid a 21 gun salute at the beach and his elder son Utpal Parrikar consigned it to flames.
 
Parrikar, 63, is survived by two sons, two daughters in-law and a grandson.
 
Top BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani, Suresh Prabhu and Ramdas Athawale offered floral tributes to Parrikar.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also paid his last respects.
 
Parrikar was Chief Minister of Goa on four separate occasions, but could not complete a single term in office. He served as Defence Minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet from 2014-17 before returning to state politics.
 
IANS
 

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Goa CM Manohar Parrikar passes away after long battle with cancer

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar passed away at his private residence in Panaji on Sunday evening after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.

Manohar Parrikar
Manohar Parrikar
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar passed away at his private residence here on Sunday evening after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. 
 
He was 63.
 
The condition of Parrikar, diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February last year and in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since then, had turned "extremely critical" on Sunday, the Chief Minister's Office tweeted earlier in the day.
 
President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his grief.
 
"Extremely sorry to hear of the passing of Shri Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa, after an illness borne with fortitude and dignity. An epitome of integrity and dedication in public life, his service to the people of Goa and of India will not be forgotten," he said in a tweet.
 
Other leaders, cutting across party lines, mourned his death.
 
"Shri Manohar Parrikar is no more. A sincere, honest & sensitive political activist. Was simple and down to earth, I learnt a lot from Shri.Parrikar. As Raksha Mantri his contribution to making the armed forces a modernised, lean & mean fighting machine will remain unparalleled, tweeted Defence Minister Nirmala Sithraman.
 
"Extremely saddened by the untimely demise of my good friend Manohar Parrikar ji. An epitome of impeccable integrity, a down to earth personality, the first IITian to become CM of a state, great son of India gone too soon... RIP my dear friend...," Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said in a tweet.
 
"I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Goa CM, Shri Manohar Parrikar Ji, who bravely battled a debilitating illness for over a year. Respected and admired across party lines, he was one of Goa's favourite sons. My condolences to his family in this time of grief," tweeted Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
 
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi tweeted, "My condolences to the bereaved family of Shri. Manohar Parrikar. I met him only once, when he graciously visited my mother at the hospital two years ago. May his soul rest in peace."
 
The first Bharatiya Janata Party leader to be Goa Chief Minister, Parrikar headed the state from 2000-05 and 2012-14, before joining the Narendra Modi government as Defence Minister from 2014.
 
The country's first Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) alumnus to serve as Chief Minister of a state, he assumed the mantle on four occasions from 2000, but could not complete a single full term in office.
 
He returned to state politics in 2017 to lead a coalition government headed by the BJP and continued in office despite his protracted illness and amid criticism from the Opposition and civil society, which had repeatedly demanded his resignation on health grounds.
 
A widower, Parrikar is survived by his two sons, Utpal and Abhijat, their wives and a grandson.
 
IANS
 

Parrikar quits as Defence Minister, to be sworn in as Goa CM on Tuesday

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manohar Parrikar on Monday resigned as the Defence Minister and will be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Goa on Tuesday at the head of a BJP-led coalition government that will be formed by the party with the support of regional outfits and independent legislators.

Manohar Parrikar
Manohar Parrikar
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manohar Parrikar today resigned as the Defence Minister and will be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Goa tomorrow at the head of a BJP-led coalition government that will be formed by the party with the support of regional outfits and independent legislators.
 
"The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, has accepted the resignation of Shri Manohar Parrikar, from the Council of Ministers, with immediate effect, under clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution," a press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
 
Further, as advised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee has also assigned the charge of the Ministry of Defence to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in addition to his existing portfolios, the communique added.
 
Mr. Jaitley held the Defence portfolio as an additional charge in the initial months after the Narendra Modi government assumed office at the Centre in May 2014. He relinquished the charge in November 2014 when Mr. Parrikar, who was Chief Minister of Goa, was shifted to the Centre as the Defence Minister.
 
The Congress had emerged as the single largest party in the elections to the Goa Legislative Assembly, polling for which was held on February 4 and votes counted on March 11, with 17 seats in the 40-member house. 
 
The ruling BJP ended up with 13 seats, with Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and many of his Cabinet colleagues losing their seats. However, the BJP has managed to get support from two regional outfits -- the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward Party -- which won three seats each as well as two of the three independents. 
 
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The 13 BJP MLAs and the other eight legislators met Governor Mridula Sinha yesterday evening and she later invited Mr. Parrikar to form the new government.  
 
Mr. Parrikar will have to be elected to the State Assembly within six months in keeping with the Constitutional requirements. He is currently a member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament, from Uttar Pradesh.
 
For Mr. Parrikar, 61, this will be his third time as Chief Minister of Goa, having first served in that position from October 2000 to February 2005 and then from March 9, 2012 till Novemer 9, 2014. He had also served as Leader of the Opposition in the Goa Legislative Assembly from June 1999 to November 1999 and from June 2005 to March 2012. In all, he was elected six times to the Goa Assembly since 1994. 
 
He has a B.Tech. in Metallurgy from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai and was the first IIT alumnus to serve as the Chief Minister of a state.
 
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Assembly elections: Counting of votes to be taken up on Saturday

Counting of votes will begin on Saturday morning in the crucial elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of five States -- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa -- and most of the results are expected to be out within a few hours after that.

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Counting of votes will begin tomorrow morning in the crucial elections to the State Legislative Assemblies of five States -- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa -- and the keenly-awaited results are expected to have far-reaching implications for national politics.
 
The elections in five States have taken place mid-way through the five-year term of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and just weeks after the sudden decision of the government on November 8 to demonetise Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 banknotes.
 
Polling in Uttar Pradesh -- India's most populous state -- was held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, while Manipur had polling in two phases on March 4 and 8. Punjab and Goa had single-phase polling on February 4 and Uttarakhand had single-phase voting on February 15.
 
The terms of the Goa, Manipur and Punjab assemblies are due to normally expire on March 18, Uttarakhand on March 26 and Uttar Pradesh on May 27.
 
The Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly has 403 seats, including 84 reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and two for Scheduled Tribes. Punjab Assembly has 117 seats (34 SC), Goa 40 (1 SC), Uttarakhand 70 (13 SC, 2 ST) and Manipur 60 (1 SC, 19 ST).
 
The Election Commission will give out counting trends and results of the elections through its website from 8 am tomorrow.
 
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Among other things, the website will give details such as the number of votes secured by the candidates round-wise and constituency-wise and political party-wise and candidate-wise trends.
 
The website can also be accessed through the main website of the Election Commission of India.
 
For the first time, the Commission will also provide analytics through interactive dashboard in the form of clickable infographics. Users can download data, crosstab, PDF and images for analysing the elections further at their end. It will include comparative analytics between 2012 and 2017. 
 
An official press release said users will get constituency analysis with respect to participation of electors (constituencies with more female electors, constituencies by slabs of voter turnout, turnout by poll days) and candidates (gender wise participants, winners and major competitors). To assess performance of political parties, analysis on seats won by them, the percentage vote-share in the State and the profile (age and social category)of candidates fielded by them have been included. Candidates have been mapped to their constituencies and the votes polled in their favour, it said.
 
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Punjab, Goa go to the polls to elect new legislative assemblies

Punjab and Goa went to the polls on Saturday to elect new state legislative assemblies -- the first two of five states holding crucial elections midway through the five-year term of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and two months after the November 8 demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes.

 
Voters queue to cast their votes amidst tight security
Punjab and Goa went to the polls today to elect new state legislative assemblies -- the first two of five states holding crucial elections midway through the five-year term of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and two months after the November 8 demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes.
 
Voters began queueing outside polling stations in both states from early morning and their numbers were steadily increasing as the day progressed. 
 
Voting, which began at 7 am in Goa and at 8 am in Punjab, will end at 5 pm in both states.
 
Polling also took place today for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant after the resignation of Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh.
 
The Punjab Assembly has 117 seats and the Goa Assembly 40 seats and both states have single-phase polling today.
 
Uttarakhand will have single-phase polling on February 15, Manipur will have polling in two phases on March 4 and 8 and Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state, will have polling in seven phases between February 11 and March 8.
 
Counting of votes in all the five states will be taken up on March 11 and all the results are expected by late evening that day.
 
The terms of the Goa and Punjab assemblies are due to expire on March 18.
 
The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for smooth, free and fair elections in both the states.
 
Punjab has a total of 19879069 voters, including 10503108 males and  9375546 females. There are 1145 candidates in the fray, including 81 women and one of the third gender. The Election Commission has set up 22,615 polling stations across the state.
 
In Goa, there are a total of  1110884 electors, including 546742 men and 564142 women. A total of 251 candidates, including 19 women, are in the fray.  The Commission has set up 1642 polling stations across the state.
 
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a determined effort for another term in office in Goa, while the Congress is hoping to come back to power in Goa. The three-party alliance forged by Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Goa Suraksha Manch and Shiv Sena is the other major player in the state.
 
Similarly in Punjab, the Congress is trying to wrest power back from the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine, which has been in office for a decade.
 
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The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling party in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, has gone all out to emerge as the alternative to the established players in both the states.
 
In Punjab, SAD leader and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 89, is seeking re-election for the sixth time. He will face Capt. Amarinder Singh, the chief ministerial candidate of the Congress, in the Lambi constituency. The Congress leader is also contesting the elections from his traditional seat of Patiala, where his opponent is former Army chief Gen J J Singh, a candidate of the SAD.
 
The Chief Minister's son Sukhbir Singh will face AAP's Bhagwant Mann, MP, who is his party's likely chief ministerial candidate, in Jalalabad.
 
Former Indian Test cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who joined the Congress weeks ahead of the polls, is contesting from Amritsar East, a part of the Amrtisar Lok Sabha constituency that he represented in Parliament as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for two terms.
 
Prominent candidates in Goa include Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar (BJP) and five former Chief Ministers -- Ravi Naik, Digambar Kamat, Pratapsinh Rane and Luizinho Faleiro (Congress) and Churchill Alemao (NCP). There have been indications that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar might return to Goa as Chief Minister if the BJP retains power.
 
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EVMs replaced at South Goa poll booth after complaint

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All EVMs at a polling station in Cuncolim Assembly constituency in South Goa have been replaced after reports of malfunctioning, Goa Chief Electoral Officer Kunal said on Tuesday.
 
"Entire set of EVMs has been replaced for Assembly constituency 34 (Cuncolim), polling station number 31, as per report from the district election officer South Goa," Kunal said.
 
Earlier in the day, Aam Aadmi Party convenor Elvis Gomes had complained about the malfunctioning electronic voting machines (EVMs) at polling station number 31.
 
Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar also expressed concern about malfunctioning EVMs.
 
"There are similar problems in polling stations in other constituencies in Betul (village)," Kavlekar told reporters, adding that the Congress would be taking up the matter before the Election Commission.
 
IANS
 

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Ahead of LS polls, CBDT detects unaccounted cash racket

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On the second day of its continued searches across Madhya Pradesh, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Monday detected a widespread and well-organised racket of collection of unaccounted cash, to the tune of Rs 281 crore, involving persons from different walks of life including business, politics and public service.
 
Apart from cash, the Income Tax officials have also recovered 252 bottles of liquor, some arms and tiger hides.
 
"A part of cash -- Rs 20 crore -- was also transferred recently to the headquarters of a major political party in Delhi through hawala channel from the residence of a senior functionary at Tughlak Road, New Delhi," a CBDT spokesperson said in a statement.
 
The statement, however, did not identify the political party or its "senior functionary".
 
Meticulous records of collection and disbursement of cash in the form of hand-written diaries, computer files and Excel sheets seized corroborate the findings, the spokesperson added.
 
Acting on a tip-off of largescale collection, possession and movement of unaccounted assets, the Delhi Directorate of Income Tax (Investigation) initiated search and seizure actions on a group active in the National Capital Region (NCR), Bhopal, Indore and Goa. More than 300 IT officials participated in the operation taking place at about 52 locations in four states.
 
The searches in Delhi on the group of a close relative of the senior party functionary have further led to seizure of incriminating evidence including cash book recording unaccounted transactions of Rs 230 crore, siphoning off money through bogus billing of more than Rs 242 crore and evidence of presence of more than 80 companies in tax havens, the CBDT said. 
 
"Several unaccounted or benami properties at posh locations in Delhi have also been detected. Instances of violations of model code of conduct are being brought to the notice of Election Commission," said the spokesperson.
 
The department had on Sunday launched raids at 52 locations of people and associates linked to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. 
 
Those searched included Nath's former Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Pravin Kakkar, former adviser Rajendra Miglani and Ashwani Sharma.
 
A report earlier in the day said that IT officials seized various materials, including cash and documents, from Sharma -- manager of a non-government organisation. He has office and residence in Platinum Plaza -- the building where the Chief Minister's Officer on Special Duty Kakkar also resides.
 
Huge amounts of cash, gold and silver jewellery were recovered from Kakkar's Indore house and Sharma's Bhopal residence, said the sources. The IT sleuths also seized from Kakkar's residence documents linked to transfer of government officials. 
 
Kakkar and Sharma were also interrogated by the officials in the night, the sources added.
 
It is suspected that the seized cash was meant to be used during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
 
IANS

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Two MGP MLAs split, merged into BJP: Goa Deputy Speaker

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In a late night and politically significant development, two out of the three Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party legislators early on Wednesday, split from the regional party and merged their two-member legislative unit into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo said.
 
"MGP MLAs Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar have merged with the BJP. They first split from the MGP and formed MGP-II and then merged with the BJP," the Deputy Speaker told IANS. 
 
The letter requesting merger into the BJP was handed over to Lobo at 1:45 am on Wednesday.
 
The development comes on the heels of a growing discomfort between the BJP and the MGP, which surfaced openly after the latter was given only two ministerial berths during last week's government formation, instead of three as demanded by party leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sudin Dhavalikar.
 
Dhavalikar and Ajgaonkar were sworn in as PWD Minister and Tourism Minister, respectively, at a swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan in the pre-dawn hours of March 19.
 
The repeated insistence of Dipak Dhavalikar, MGP president and Sudin's brother, to contest the upcoming bypoll from the Shiroda assembly constituency against the BJP, had also led to tension between the two political units, leading to Wednesday's development.
 
"We, Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar have agreed to merge with the BJP. In view of sub-clause (2) of clause 4 of the 10th Schedule, and in view of the fact that we constitute 2/3rds of the members of the legislative party, such merger shall be deemed to have taken place," a letter submitted by Ajgaonkar to the Deputy Speaker said.
 
BJP state president Vinay Tendulkar was present at the state legislative assembly complex, when the duo submitted the letter to Lobo and merged into the BJP in presence of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
 
The merger of the two-member legislative unit into the BJP brings the saffron party on par with the Congress with 14 seats each.
 
Speaking to reporters at the state legislative assembly complex, Ajgaonkar said that both he and Pauskar were kept away from the decision-making process in the MGP, which was the reason why the duo had decided to quit the regional party.
 
Ajgaonkar also said that this week's sacking of a bahujan samaj (OBC) leader from the MGP, which was engineered by the Dhavalikar brothers -- both of whom are Brahmin -- had put his status in the party in question.
 
"What is happening in MGP, the whole of Goa knows. They have harassed the bahujan samaj. What will happen to a Dalit like me? This is the question. After seeing this, I quit the local party and joined the national party," Ajgaonkar said.
 
Pauskar said that he had been assured a berth in the ministry by the Chief Minister and that he would be happy with "any ministry of the Chief Minister's choosing". His swearing-in ceremony was expected to be held later on Wednesday, he said.
 
When asked if Sudin Dhavalikar would be dropped from the cabinet to make way for Pauskar on Wednesday, Sawant cryptically said: "The decision to drop (a minister) will be taken and after that there will be a swearing-in".
 
Meanwhile, in a statement issued here, the state Congress said that the late night drama in Goa should send a signal to NDA partners that BJP does not care about allies.
 
"BJP has proved it is a threat to all its allies. This is a clear indication to all NDA partners all over the country just before Lok Sabha elections, that any partnershup with BJP will be detrimental to the existence of their own party," Goa Congress chief spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar said.
 
On paper, the BJP currently has the support of three MLAs from the Goa Forward party, three Independent legislators and one MGP MLA in form of Sudin Dhavalikar, which takes the tally of the treasury benches to 20 in the 36-member state legislative assembly.
 
Sudin Dhavalikar could not be contacted for comment.
 
IANS
 

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Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant wins trust vote

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday won the trust vote in the state Assembly, with 20 of the 36 membrs in the House voting for the BJP-led coalition government while 15 opposed the motion.

Pramod Sawant (Photo: IANS)
Pramod Sawant (Photo: IANS)
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday won the trust vote in the state Assembly.
 
Twenty of the 36 members in the House voted for the BJP-led coalition government while 15 opposed the motion.
 
The 20 legislators who voted for the motion included 11 from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 3 each of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party and 3 Independents while 15 MLAs (14 Congress and 1 NCP) opposed the motion in the Goa Assembly.
 
The 'magic number' for a simple majority in the 36-member House was 19. The trust vote was overseen by acting Speaker and BJP MLA Michael Lobo.
 
Addressing the Assembly after winning the trust vote, Sawant said that his government would carry forward his predecessor Manohar Parrikar's vision of "positive thinking".
 
"Manohar Parrikar had given a message before passing away about being positive. If we we go ahead with this message, we can build a bright future for Goa," Sawant said.
 
The 45-year-old Chief Minister also said that the philosophy of his government would be the Antodaya principle, which involves reaching out to the most marginalised sections of society.
 
"And for that to work, it is not just up to a CM or MLA, but every member of society. For this I would the need help of every Goan," Sawant said.
 
IANS
 

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Goa's BJP-led coalition government faces floor test on Wednesday

Newly appointed Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who heads a BJP-led coalition government, will face a floor test to prove his dispensation's majority in the 36-member state legislative assembly on Wednesday.

Pramod Sawant (Photo: IANS)
Pramod Sawant (Photo: IANS)
Newly appointed Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who heads a BJP-led coalition government, will face a floor test to prove his dispensation's majority in the 36-member state legislative assembly on Wednesday.
 
While Sawant told reporters on Tuesday that he is "100 per cent confident" of winning the floor test, the Congress has refused to divulge its floor plan for the crucial one-day session of the state assembly, which was summoned by Goa Governor Mridula Sinha on Tuesday.
 
The one-point agenda of the session, which is scheduled to begin at 11.30 a.m., is to facilitate the trust vote that will be overseen by Acting Speaker and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Michael Lobo.
 
The BJP-led coalition comprises of 12 BJP MLAs, three MLAs each from Goa Forward and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party as well as two Independent MLAs.
 
The Congress has 14 MLAs in the 36-member Assembly. One independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar was seen in both the BJP as well as Congress camps on Monday and has not clarified as to whether he supports the treasury or opposition benches. 
 
Lone Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Churchill Alemao had voted in favour of the previous BJP-led coalition government in 2017, but had participated in a press conference organised by the Congress party on Monday, amid the midnight government formation drama.
 
The 'magic number' for a simple majority in the 36-member House is 19.
 
According to Sawant he is confident of winning the vote. "I am confident we will win the test," Sawant told reporters on Tuesday.
 
Interestingly, political sources said that one of the BJP MLAs Pandurang Madkaikar, who suffered a brain stroke in 2018 and has not made a public appearance since, is expected to be present in the state assembly.
 
"Despite his physically debilitating illness, we have convinced Madkaikar to attend the session on Wednesday as every vote is crucial," a BJP official said on condition of anonymity.
 
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The BJP's anxiety to bring in a physically ailing Madkaikar for the floor test, could be indicative of some anxiety in its camp, especially since the party appears to have snubbed Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party supremo Sudin Dhavalikar, by not agreeing to several key demands, which includes three ministerial berths for its three MLAs and allotment of three major government corporations to its kitty.
 
Dhavalikar is a powerful local satrap and has ties across party lines, including with the Congress party, in whose coalition government he has served as a cabinet minister.
 
Meanwhile, the Congress, which had cried foul and accused Governor Mridula Sinha of being biased towards the BJP in the run-up to the government formation, is unwilling to drop hints about its floor strategy when the House meets in a few hours for the legislative test of numbers.
 
"Let's give the opportunity to legislators who are going to vote. If I tell you what the legislators are going to do tomorrow, I will be taking away their right... What is to be done in the assembly, I do not think I can predict it today," Chodankar said.
 
IANS

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Never a minister, Ayurveda doctor Pramod Sawant now Goa CM

Pramod Sawant (Photo: IANS)
Pramod Sawant (Photo: IANS)
BJP youth leader and former Speaker of the state legislative assembly Pramod Sawant, who on Tuesday was sworn-in as Goa's 11th Chief Minister, assumed the top political mantle despite never having served as a minister in the state cabinet.
 
Much like Sawant's mentor and immediate predecessor late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was sworn in as Chief Minister in 2000, without every having served as a minister in the state cabinet.
 
Sawant, 45, holds a Bachelor's degree in Ayurvedic Medicine from the Ganga Ayurvedic Medical College in Maharashtra's Kolhapur district and has practiced as a doctor of alternative medicine in Goa. He has completed his Masters in Social Welfare from the Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, a deemed university in Pune.
 
Sawant has been elected to the state assembly on two occasions in 2012 and 2017 from the Sanquelim assembly constituency.
 
Sawant, a Maratha by caste, served as a Speaker of the state legislative assembly from 2017.
 
He rose in the ranks in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) through the party's youth brigade and was one of the younger BJP leaders who was considered close to Parrikar.
 
Speaking to IANS, Goa BJP spokesperson Dattaprasad Naik, who had worked under Sawant's leadership, when the latter was the state president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, described the new Chief Minister as a "humble, down to earth person" who understood the aspirations of the youth.
 
"I definitely hope that people don't start fitting him in Parrikar's larger-than-life shoes. People should give him due time to perform," Naik said.
 
Sawant's wife Sulakshana is currently the state president of the BJP's Mahila Morcha and his daughter studies in Class 6.
 
Sawant in his political career has generally managed to steer clear from controversy and was handpicked by Parrikar to assume the Speaker's post in 2017.
 
Sawant, who is a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteer, hails from the Sanquelim constituency, which is one of the key regions in the North Goa mining belt, where the BJP in recent times has found itself unpopular, especially after the state as well as Central government failed to work towards resumption of mining operations, which were banned by the Supreme Court last year.
 
Apart from his proximity to Parrikar and the fact that he has been a member of the BJP for a long spell of time -- unlike several other sitting MLAs -- Sawant's lineage as an MLA from the mining belt was one of the reasons why he was picked by party seniors, according to a BJP leader, who was involved in the process of selecting the chief minister candidate.
 
"Apart from choosing a Chief Minister from the cadre, we also had to send a signal to the mining regions, which have been severely impact by the mining ban, that we are serious about their concerns. We hope that this outreach will convince them to vote for the BJP during the Lok Sabha and assembly bypolls," the BJP leader requesting anonymity said.
 
It is perhaps ironic that Sawant, an alternative medicine professional has succeeded Parrikar, who died after suffering from pancreatic cancer for over a year.
 
Whether he will actually be able to fill in Parrikar's larger than life and trademark sandals, remains to be seen.
 
IANS

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Pramod Sawant sworn in as 11th Chief Minister of Goa

Former Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly and BJP MLA Pramod Sawant was sworn in here as the 11th Chief Minister of Goa in the early hours of Tuesday.

Pramod Sawant (Photo: IANS)
Pramod Sawant (Photo: IANS)
Former Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly and BJP MLA Pramod Sawant was sworn in here as the 11th Chief Minister of Goa in the early hours of Tuesday.
 
Vijai Sardesai from the Goa Forward Party and Sudin Dhavalikar from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, both alliance partners, have been inducted as Deputy Chief Ministers, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik told reporters on the sidelines of the oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan here.
 
Sawant, 45, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Mridula Sinha at a formal ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan.
 
Apart from Sawant and the two deputy Chief Ministers, nine other MLAs, all of them who were part of the previous BJP-led coalition cabinet headed by Parrikar, were also administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor and inducted as ministers in the state cabinet. 
 
The Chief Minister said portfolios would be allotted to his ministers within eight days.
 
Sawant succeeds Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday due to complications arising from advanced pancreatic cancer.
 
The new Chief Minister heads a coalition government which has the support of 12 MLAs from the BJP, three each from the Goa Forward and MGP, and two independent MLAs, taking the tally of the treasury benches to 20 in the assembly, which has an effective strength  of 40.
 
"Parrikar is not among us now and this responsibility has been given collectively to me by my party, alliance partners and independent MLAs. This is a big responsibility," Sawant told reporters soon after he was sworn in.
 
"I am committed to the development of Goa and to take forward the teachings of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with a positive outlook," Sawant also said, adding that he would focus on completing all infrastructure-related projects started by his predecessor.
 
He was sworn in after a marathon session of hectic negotiations anchored by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP national president Amit Shah who, over a series of meetings, spanning more than 24 hours, with legislators from regional parties and independent MLAs forged a coalition together.
 
Newly-inducted Minister Nilesh Cabral said the delay in organising the swearing-in ceremony was caused due to unrealistic expectations from some BJP MLAs as well as legislators from the alliance camp, which dragged the negotiations.
 
"The number of years you spend as an MLA does not make you senior. Everytime you get elected you are there for a five-year term. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues with us (BJP) or in the alliance were expecting something else better... That is what delayed the whole thing," Cabral said.
 
Earlier, ahead of Sawant's swearing-in ceremony, the Congress had accused Governor Sinha of allowing BJP time to indulge in "horse trading" and being biased against the party. 
 
The party's spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar maintained Congress was the single largest party in the 36-member state legislative assembly. The Congress has 14 MLAs as against the BJP's 12.
 
"We strongly condemn the undemocratic action of Governor Sinha for not allowing our single largest party to form the Government and allowing BJP to carry on horse trading, despite BJP not having sufficient numbers to form the government," Kawthankar had said.
 
Sawant assumed office later in the morning, after paying a courtesy visit to the family of his predecessor late Manohar Parrikar. He met Parrikar's sons Utpal and Abhijaat.
 
"Parrikar's sons Utpal and Abhijaat are my friends. It is my duty to visit them after I become CM. I have not gone to office yet," Sawant told reporters outside Parrikar's residence. 
 
"Parrikar has been my political ideal and guru. He has been a fatherly figure for me. I became MLA, Speaker and CM because of him. It is my courtesy visit," Sawant said.
 
Sawant also said the 11 cabinet ministers will soon be allocated their portfolios. 
 
Meanwhile, BJP sources said the crucial floor test to prove the majority of the BJP-led dispensation will be held on Wednesday. 
 
"Our BJP MLA and Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo will be the Pro Tem Speaker who will conduct the proceedings of the floor test," a party leader said requesting anonymity. 
 
IANS
 

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Pramod Sawant to be new Chief Minister of Goa

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Goa Assembly Speaker Pramod Pandurang Sawant will be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of a BJP-led coalition government on Monday evening by Governor Mridula Sinha, a senior BJP leader said.
 
Sawant, who will be the 11th Chief Minister of the coastal state, will succeed his mentor Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. The last rites of Parrikar were held here on Monday evening with full state honours.
 
"The BJP had finalised Sawant's candidature last night. But we only managed to convince alliance partners today (Monday) evening in the presence of our national President Amit Shah and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. He will be sworn in as Chief Minister later today," said the BJP leader who did not want to be identified.
 
IANS
 

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PM in Goa, pays homage to Parrikar, meets family

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here on Monday and paid floral tributes to Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
 
Modi met the family of the 63-year-old former Defence Minister at the Kala Academy where his body lay in state. 
 
He offered his condolences to the two sons and daughters-in-law of the late leader. Parrikar would be accorded a state funeral with full military honours later in the day.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Bengaluru beat FC Goa, win maiden ISL title

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Full-back Rahul Bheke scored in the second half of extra time as Bengaluru FC edged past FC Goa 1-0 to lift their first Indian Super League (ISL) title here on Sunday.
 
Local boy Bheke headed in from a Dimas Delgado corner in the 118th minute after both teams were locked goalless in regulation time at the Mumbai Football Arena.
 
This is Bengaluru FC's sixth trophy in as many seasons. "We feel on top of the world," skipper Sunil Chhetri said after the match. 
 
"We topped the league table like last year. We lost the final that time, but this year's story is different. We knew our power was in attack. Had to work hard in defence as they attacked very well," striker Miku said.
 
"We pushed so much in extra time, got a red card and that changed the game. We did really well throughout the season. We deserved to win but it was our bad luck," a dejected Goa skipper Mandar Rao Desai said.
 
After no goals separated the teams at the end of normal time, Bheke headed home as Goa were left to rue the red card Ahmed Jahouh picked up in the first half of extra-time. Their wait for the first ISL title continue. 
 
Bengaluru came well prepared and threatened the Goa defence as early as the sixth minute. Nishu Kumar and Chhetri combined well on the left flank before the latter found Miku at the edge of the box. The Venezuelan striker shimmied his way past a crowd of defenders inside the box but an unsteady touch at the end of his spectacular solo run allowed goalkeeper Naveen Kumar to block his efforts. 
 
Minutes later, Jahouh picked out Jackichand Singh's run down the right flank with a delightful diagonal as Goa countered from their own half. The Indian wingers delivered a brilliant cross to the far post where an onrushing Ferran Corominas skied his volley wide. 
 
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Bengaluru had the better of the early exchanges as the trio of Miku, Chhetri and Udanta Singh found joy in the attacking third.
 
But Goa were dealt a blow before the break as Mandar Rao Dessai, in an attempt to get to a through-ball by Edu Bedia, succumbed to a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by young Saviour Gama at left back. 
 
After a sluggish start to the second half, FC Goa slowly took control of the game and started to dominate possession. They created chances at will and one such move saw Jackichand's effort from a tight angle go straight into the gloves of Gurpreet Singh.
 
A few minutes later, Jackichand found Jahouh at the edge of the box. The Moroccan midfielder's first-time shot, however, was saved by Gurpreet in goal. Cuadrat responded to Goa's growing influence by making an attacking change as Luisma replaced Alejandro Barrera. 
 
The Blues went ever so close in the 81st minute when Chhetri's layoff inside the box was cleverly heeled into the path of Miku by Xisco Hernandez. The striker, with just the goalkeeper to beat, curled his strike onto the bar before seeing another strike blocked by Mourtada Fall in injury time.
 
The tempo slowed as the game moved onto extra time with both teams unwilling to take risks going forward. Bengaluru did, however, get their first shot on the target when Xisco found space and time on the ball to hit a piledriver from outside the box.
 
Goa were reduced to 10 men in the 105th minute when Ahmed Jahouh retaliated to a challenge by Miku. The midfielder picked up a second yellow and had to take the lonely walk back.
 
That turned out to be a game-changer as Bengaluru assumed control of the game. They got the precious goal they were looking for in the 116th minute. Dimas delivered a corner-kick into the box for Bheke who produced a spectacular looping header that Naveen Kumar could only push on to the post and inside the goal as the Bengaluru supporters went into delirium. 
 
IANS
 

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National mourning declared for Parrikar

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The Centre has announced national mourning on Monday following the death of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and declared that the national flag will fly half mast across the country.
 
A state funeral will be also be accorded to Parrikar, who was also a former Defence Minister, the Union Home Ministry announced soon after Parrikar passed away at his private residence in Panaji on Sunday evening after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. 
 
A meeting of the Union Cabinet has also been called at 10 a.m. on Monday.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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A paradox called Parrikar, India's first IITian CM

Manohar Parrikar (File photo: IANS)
Manohar Parrikar (File photo: IANS)
It will take a while for Goans to come to terms with the fact that 63-year-old Chief Minister and former Defence Minister Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar died on Sunday after a protracted battle with pancreatic cancer for over a year.
 
And the disbelief need not necessarily stem from unadulterated love for the country's first IITian CM. 
 
In recent years, after several unpopular, controversial decisions, questions were being asked whether Parrikar, who won overall adulation for nearly two decades for his wit, bluster, charm and audacity, was really a salt-and-pepper-haired political rockstar or just a closet groupie clinging to the coat-tails of the casino, mining and real estate industry. 
 
The shock is also rooted in the belief that the trained metallurgist was simply too omnipresent and omnipotent to melt away, just like that. The very fact that he continued in office for a year after he was diagnosed with cancer and occasionally attended office as well as public functions with medical paraphernelia strapped to his person, testified his penchant for not giving up and appearing infallible in the small, but closely followed cosmos of Goan politics. 
 
While Parrikar was undeniably the weave which determined the quality of Goa's political fabric for nearly 30 years, there was very little about Parrikar's public persona which wasn't a paradox. 
 
He appeared sloppy, but was meticulous in political strategy. He promised much, but actually delivered very little. As Defence Minister, he was obsessed with Goa politics. In 2012, he promised to retire and never contest elections again, but ended up clinging to power from a hospital bed until his end. 
 
He swore to end casinos, illegal mining when in opposition, but failed to crack down on them when in power. 
 
But paradoxes apart, the young boy born in a nondescript town called Mapusa, to a Gaud Saraswat Brahmin family of grocers in Portuguese-held Goa, rose to be India's Defence Minister and was partly credited with carrying out cross-border surgical strikes along the country's eastern and western borders. 
 
Parrikar has explained his fabled transition well. The way only the former IIT-Mumbai alumnus can; with an anecdote. 
 
"So I have done my duty (as Defence Minister) for the nation. Probably, that was a loan that Goa owed, that needed to be paid back. The Indian Army (had) liberated the State," he said in July last year, while speaking about his stint as Defence Minister. 
 
There is no doubt that Parrikar will go down in history as Goa's most successful politician ever. 
 
Working in tandem with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh veteran Subhash Velingkar, Parrikar was the cornerstone of BJP's rise in Goa, from a party whose candidates routinely lost poll deposit fees in the late 1980s through early 1990s, to a powerful outfit which won a simple majority in 2012. 
 
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But somewhere along the meteoric rise, says his mentor-turned-foe Velingkar, the BJP became Parrikar and Parrikar became BJP in Goa. 
 
"He (Parrikar) has ensured that there are no second-rung leaders. Laxmikant Parsenkar (former CM), Rajendr Arlekar (Speaker), Naik (Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik) have been systematically sidelined," Velingkar told IANS. 
 
Sanjeev Verenkar, who authored a character sketch of Parrikar in his book 'Hada Masachi Devla' (Temples of Flesh and Bone) credits his stunning rise to several unique qualities. 
 
"His memory was as astounding as his vision. He was sharp, incisive at analysing situations could take quick decisions and I have never seen him tire... He had one fatal flaw. It was his disregard for another person's opinion. He underestimated others," says Verenkar. 
 
Vijai Sardesai, Parrikar's critic-in-chief as a legislator from 2012-17 and now a ruling coalition ally, recalls his first meeting with Parrikar in the 90s. 
 
Just out of agricultural college, Sardesai had pitched Parrikar for help in winning university student elections. The latter turned him down point-blank. 
 
Sardesai later went on to win the polls, but thirty years later, his nostalgia has traces of irony. 
 
"It is ironical, that decades after he dismissed my plea, I now played a part in bringing Parrikar back to Goa. I insisted with the central BJP leadership that my party, Goa Forward, will join the coalition only if Parrikar is CM," said Sardesai. 
 
Parrikar's first stint as CM was in 2000, after he staged an internal coup against a coalition government of Congress rebels supported by his BJP MLAs, when then CM Francisco Sardinha was in Australia. 
 
In the turbulent 1990s, when Goa saw 13 CMs in 10 years, coups were routine and according to political observer Trajano D'Mello, Parrikar had mastered the art of the perfect coup. 
 
"Goa had seen coups before, but Parrikar's political signature was clinical ability to prey on the greed of MLAs. He tempted them much, but actually gave them little," D'Mello says.
 
Incidentally, Parrikar served as CM on four occasions, but could never complete a full term in office. 
 
In his first stint he dissolved the assembly mid-way. His regime was toppled during the second term as CM. In his third term, he was elevated as Defence Minister. In his fourth term, death snatched him away. 
 
IANS

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Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar passes away

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was in critical condition, passed away in Panaji on Sunday evening.

Manohar Parrikar
Manohar Parrikar
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was in critical condition, passed away here on Sunday evening.
 
The condition of Parrikar, diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February last year and in and out of hospitals, in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since then, turned "extremely critical" on Sunday, the Chief Minister's Office tweeted.
 
President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his grief.
 
"Extremely sorry to hear of the passing of Shri Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa, after an illness borne with fortitude and dignity. An epitome of integrity and dedication in public life, his service to the people of Goa and of India will not be forgotten," he said in a tweet.
 
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Parrikar's condition 'extremely critical': CMO

Manohar Parrikar
Manohar Parrikar
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's health is "extremely critical", the Chief Minister's Office tweeted on Sunday.
 
"Chief Minister @manoharparrikar's health condition is extremely critical. Doctors are trying their best," it said.
 
Parrikar was diagnosed for advanced pancreatic cancer in February last year and has been in an our of hospitals, in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since.
 
He is currently being treated at his private residence.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Congress stakes claim to form government in Goa

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On a day when reports suggest that ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's condition has worsened, the Congress in Goa in a letter to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha on Saturday staked claim to form government in the coastal state.
 
In a letter addressed to Sinha, Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said that the Parrikar-led coalition government is in a minority and its numbers may "dwindle". He demanded that she dismiss the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led dispensation and invite the Congress -- the single-largest party in the state Assembly -- to form the government.
 
"Consequent upon the sad demise of Francis D'Souza, MLA, who belonged to the BJP, it is humbly submitted that the incumbent BJP-led state government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar, which has long lost the trust of the people and now also lost the strength of the House," Kavlekar said in the letter to the Governor.
 
"Also, we anticipate that numbers of the BJP may dwindle," he wrote requesting that such minority government be not allowed to continue even for a moment. 
 
"It is therefore incumbent upon you to dismiss the state government led by the BJP to ensure that the Indian National Congress, which is the single-largest party in the august House and is presently enjoying the majority, be called to form government," Kavlekar also said.
 
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Never thought that I will make world record: Saurabh

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India’s youngest 10m Air Pistol champion Saurabh Chaudhary  on Sunday said he never thought of creating a world record while shooting in the final of the event in the World Cup Shooting.
 
“To be honest, while shooting I never thought that I will make a world record,“ he told mediapersons after the event, adding “I never thought of quota, just wanted to do my best."
 
“I never think about the record. If I think about it, I will never be able to make a world record,“ he said. 
 
The 16-year old champion admitted that he was pumped up after this win. “It was great to win at home. The crowd was good."
 
Asked about the final, the teenager talked like a seasoned athlete, saying the “Final requires different practice and qualifying requires different practice. You have to do accordingly."
 
“I knew I had a big lead but didn't bother about it. I kust  kept doing as I was till the end."
 
He said he strictly follows the coach’s instructions. “Like  other shooters, I also do what the coach instructs  me to do."
 
On the other hand, Manu Bhaker said she tried her best. “There was a lot of support, but I am really sorry I couldn't make it. I'll try harder next time."
 
"I shot as I normally do, never looked back at the crowd. There was not much pressure (considering I was) playing at home. 
 
Asked what she thought went wrong, she said, “I don’t think I did any mistakes as such, actually my monitor was (facing) the other side, so I didn't look at it properly. Shooting is basically about technique. I have done my best. It's unfortunate that things didn't happen as I would have liked."
 
“Let me be honest, my performance in 25m was throughout the last year 4th-5th, 5th-6th. In the Asian Games also I was sixth. In Mexico I was 5th. But I am trying very hard.”
 
“I had some problem (pain in the arm) around 20th or 21st (of February), but  it is fine now. But it had nothing to do with today's performance. Better luck next time," she said.
 
Talking about her coach, Manu said, "He (Jaspal Rana) said 'okay, you have a lot of calibre, you will go very far, don't worry, no need to cry, just keep  going. You have more matches to play, long journey in shooting'."
 
“Yes, the next World Cup for quotas is in China, and the focus remains on quota and performance.
 
“I have to practice equally to balance both 10m and 25m (performance). I don't think it will affect my performance in 10m tomorrow. The qualification today was very satisfying. Now I will focus on 10m," she added.
 
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Model building bye-laws amended for establishing EV charging infrastructure

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The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has made amendments to the Model Building Bye-laws 2016 and Urban Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation Guidelines 2014, in order to facilitate the availability of Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Infrastructure. 
 
The Ministry of Power has issued guidelines and standards for charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, which have also been considered while making these amendments, an official press release said.
 
The guidelines will act as a guiding document to the State Governments and Union Territories to incorporate the norms and standards of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in their respective Building Bye-Laws. 
 
The guidelines on Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure have been circulated to all the State Governments and UT Administrations with the request to amend their Building Bye-laws and Master Plan Regulations.
 
Cities and towns in the country are facing the problems of environmental pollution thereby severely impacting the health of the urban residents. India is committed to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Change of the United Nations to take urgent action to combat climate change. 
 
The Government has initiated several steps to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. One of such steps is to encourage Electric Vehicles (EVs), which are environment-friendly. At least 25% of the total vehicles on roads should be EVs by 2030, the Government is hoping.
 
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Rahul Gandhi meets ailing Manohar Parrikar in Goa

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi met ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in the state assembly here today to enquire about his health and wish him a speedy recovery.
 
"This morning I visited Goa CM, Manohar Parrikar, to wish him a speedy recovery. It was a personal visit," Gandhi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Gandhi was on a private visit to Goa, where his mother and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is on a holiday. 
 
He later left for Kochi in Kerala, where he was due to address polling booth committe members of the party from across the state.
 
Congress sources said the meeting between Gandhi and Parrikar lasted for about five minutes. He also spent some time with Congress MLAs.
 
The meeting took place a day after Gandhi had said on Twitter yesterday that it had been 30 days since the "Goa Audio Tapes" on the Rafale fighter jets deal were released.
 
He was referring to an audio file, released by the Congress on January 2, which purportedly featured Goa Minister Vishwajit Rane claiming that  Parrikar had all the files on the Rafale deal, in which the Congress has alleged corruption. Among other things, the party has alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had agreed to pay a much higher price than what was negotiated by the previous Congress-led UPA government and also that he had prevailed upon the French government to give a lucrative offsets contract to a company owned by industrialist Anil Ambani while keeping the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) out.
 
The Congress had, while releasing the tape, demanded that the files be made public and also asked Modi to submit all the documents related to the purchase of the fighter jets from France to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) for a probe. 
 
"30 days since the Goa Audio Tapes on Rafale were released. No FIR or enquiry ordered. No action against the Minister either! 
 
"It's obvious that the tapes are authentic & that Goa CM, Parrikar, is in possession of explosive Rafale secrets, that give him power over the PM," Gandhi said in his tweet yesterday.
 
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Gadkari to inaugurate cable stay bridge over Mandovi in Goa

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Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari will inaugurate the newly-built, 5.1 km-long, four-lane, cable-stayed bridge over river Mandovi in Goa tomorrow.
 
The bridge will support and sustain the burgeoning traffic in Panaji and It facilitate routing of Mumbai-bound traffic, coming in from Bangalore via Ponda route and Old Goa, towards National Highway (NH)-17, bypassing the city, an official press release said.
 
It will also help overcome the bottlenecks at Panaji KTC Circle and Panaji Entrance as the same route is currently being used by local traffic as well as NH-17-bound traffic. 
 
About 66,000 vehicles use this route every day, leading to hours of congestion, especially during the peak tourist season in Goa. The bridge will also be an aesthetically pleasing landmark for tourism development in the state of Goa, the release added.
 
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IPL 2019 to start March 23 despite general elections

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The hugely-popular two-month-long Indian Premier League (IPL) will be played in India from March 23 despite the Lok Sabha elections due in April-May, ending the uncertainty over whether it would be shifted to some other country.
 
The announcement on the commencement of the 12th edition of IPL was made by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) here on Tuesday after a meeting of the committee headed by Vinod Rai. 
 
"Based on the preliminary discussions with the appropriate central and state agencies / authorities, it was decided that the 12th edition of the world's most popular and competitive T20 tournament will be scheduled to be played in India," an IPL release stated.
 
"It is proposed that the IPL 2019 will commence on March 23. The detailed schedule will be finalised in consultation with the appropriate authorities. The CoA will then have a detailed discussion with all the stakeholders before releasing the IPL 2019 Schedule," it added.
 
In 2009, the cash-rich tournament was held in South Africa due to the general elections while the 2014 edition was partly played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before returning home for the latter half.
 
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