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Gujarat

Kovind to pay two-day visit to Gujarat on January 21-22

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President Ram Nath Kovind will pay a two-day visit to Gujarat from tomorrow, when he will attend the 66th annual convocation of Gujarat University in Ahmedabad.
 
On January 22, the President will address the 66th annual convocation of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.  
 
On the same day, the President will grace the 150th anniversary celebrations of Akshar Deri at Gondal, before returning to Delhi, an official press release added.
 
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Anandiben Patel appointed as Governor of Madhya Pradesh

Anandiben Patel
Anandiben Patel
President Ram Nath Kovind today appointed former Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel as the new Governor of Madhya Pradesh.
 
A press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said the appointment would be with effect from the date she assumes charge of her office.
 
Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli is currently holding charge of the post of the Governor of Madhya Pradesh after Mr. Ram Naresh Yadav completed his tenure on September 7, 2016.
 
Ms. Patel, 76, had become the first woman Chief Minister of Gujarat in May, 2014, succeeding Mr. Narendra Modi, who moved to Delhi as the Prime Minister after ruling the state for more than 12 years. She had earlier served as Revenue Minister in Mr. Modi's cabinet.
 
On August 1, 2016, Ms. Patel sprang a surprise by offering to resign from her position, citing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) "tradition" of leaders quitting their posts when they attain the age of 75.
 
In a letter to BJP President Amit Shah, which she posted on her Facebook and Twitter pages, she said she had always abided by the party's ideology, principles and discipline. She said many leaders had established the tradition of voluntarily giving up their positions when they reached 75 years of age, which had set an example for everyone in the party.
 
She said this tradition had provided opportunities for younger leaders to work for the party and the country.
 
The offer of resignation served to end months of speculation about whether Ms. Patel would be able to complete her term, especially in the wake of criticism of the way her Government had handled the agitation by members of the influential Patidar community in the state as well the protests by Dalits.
 
Her resignation had been accepted by the party's leadership and Mr. Vijay Rupani was chosen to succeed her as Chief Minister of Gujarat.
 
Born on November 21, 1941, Ms. Patel has been a member of the BJP since 1987.
 
She studied as the only girl in a school with some 700 boys because there was no other school nearby. She went on to complete her M.Sc. and M.Ed. degrees. She joined a school in Ahmedabad as a teacher and went on to become its principal.
 
She came into prominence when, during a school excursion, she jumped into the Narmada river to save two of her girl students who had fallen into it, a feat for which she received a bravery award from the President. Following this, the BJP invited her to join the party and she went on to become the head of its women's wing in Gujarat.
 
She was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1994 and has been elected as a member of the State legislative assembly for four consecutive terms since 1998 and served as a Minister in the State Cabinet since then till she resigned as Chief Minister in 2016.
 
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IndiGo announces new flights on Ahmedabad-Kochi sector

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo today said it would launch new flights on the Ahmedabad-Kochi sector with effect from March 12.
 
A press release from the airline said it would also introduce additional flights on the Kochi-Hyderabad and Hyderabad-Ahmedabad sectors from that date, underscoring the tourism potential of Tier-II markets.
 
"Commencing on March 12, 2018, these new services will further consolidate IndiGo’s position as the fastest growing airline in India, with over 1000 daily flights connecting 48 destinations," it said.
 
IndiGo had recently announced its ATR operations and inaugural flights from Tirupati and Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh.
 
In March 2018, the carrier will also commence Vijayawada operations to Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, the airline said.
 
Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo said, “We are delighted to introduce new connections between Kochi, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. IndiGo has established itself as the fastest growing carrier with its extensive domestic network and we are hopeful that the introduction of the new service will further cement our place in the Indian skies.”
 
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SC stays ban by three States on screening of film "Padmaavat"

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a stay of the operation of the notifications and orders issued by three States against the screening of the film "Padmaavat" and also restrained other States from issuing similar orders in any manner prohibiting the exhibition of the movie.
A poster of the film Padmaavat
A poster of the film Padmaavat
The Supreme Court today ordered a stay of the operation of the notifications and orders issued by four States against the screening of the film "Padmaavat" and also restrained other States from issuing similar orders in any manner prohibiting the exhibition of the movie.
 
"We are sure, the concerned State authorities shall keep paragraph 27 of the judgment in the case of Prakash Jha (supra) in mind which clearly lays down that it is the paramount obligation of the State to maintain law and order," a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and D. Y. Chandrachud said in an interim order on a petition filed by Viacom 18 Media Private Limited, the producers of the film, and others against the ban imposed by Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana.
 
"It should always be remembered that if intellectual prowess and natural or cultivated power of creation is interfered without the permissible facet of law, the concept of creativity paves the path of extinction; and when creativity dies, values of civilization corrode.
 
"Keeping in view the fact situation, we have no hesitation in stating by way of repetition and without any fear of contradiction that it is the duty of the State to sustain the law and order situation whenever the film is exhibited, which would also include providing police protection to the persons who are involved in the film / in the exhibition of the film and the audience watching the film, whenever sought for or necessary," the judges said, listing the matter for March 26 for final disposal.
 
Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgri, submitted that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had issued a certificate under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 after constituting an Expert Committee which had seen the movie, critically examined it and suggested few excisions which had been carried out. The CBFC also directed the producer to file two disclaimers, which he had filed.
 
The CBFC had certified that the film is fit for public exhibition with an  endorsement of caution that the question as to whether any child below the age of 12 years may be allowed to see the film should be considered by the parents or guardian of such child, and also subject to excision and modification sought.
 
Directed by Sanjay Leela Bansali, Padmaavat has actors Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in the lead roles. The film is due for worldwide release on January 25. Apart from Hindi, the film will also be released in Tamil and Telugu.
 
The court noted that the notification issued by the Gujarat Government had said the ban was necessary in the public interest and to maintain the law and order situation in the state. The Rajasthan Government's order also said similar things, while the Haryana Government was yet to issue formal orders in this regard.
 
The court noted that the disclaimers made by the producers said that the film was inspired from the epic poem Padmavat, written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, which is considered a work of fiction. They said the film does not infer or claim historical authenticity or accuracy in terms of the names of the places, characters, sequence of events, locations, spoken languages, dance forms, costumes and/or such other details. They also said they did not intend to disrespect, impair or disparage the beliefs, feelings, sentiments of any person(s), community(ies) and their culture(s), custom(s), practice(s) and tradition(s).
 
The second disclaimer said the film did not intend to encourage or support "sati" or such other practices.
 
Counsel for the petitioners argued that, once a certificate had been issued by the CBFC, the States could not issue notifications or orders prohibiting the exhibition of the film in theaters. Citing the judgement in the case of Prakash Jha Productions & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. (2011), they said it was obligatory on the part of the State to maintain the law and order situation effectively because it is the responsibility of the State to maintain law and order as was laid down in the case of  Union of India v. K.M. Shankarappa (2001).
 
Mr. Salve and Mr. Rohatgi contended that the Act is a parliamentary legislation and the CBFC has been constituted under the said Act and once the CBFC exercises the power and suggests certain excisions and the producers without appealing against the said directions, accept the same and certificate is issued, the States, taking recourse to law and order, cannot prohibit the film from being exhibited. It was also contended by them, the term "being publicly exhibited" as has been interpreted in the case of Prakash Jha (supra) has to be appositely understood by the authorities. They said that the freedom of speech and expression and the creative potentiality through any medium including the medium of celluloid cannot be curtailed in this manner.'
 
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Mr. Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor General, appearing for Gujarat and Rajasthan, submitted that  the grant of Certificate by the CBFC cannot denude the the State of the power to prohibit the exhibition of a film. He also argued that State Governments could suspend the public exhibition of a film if they are of the opinion that it was likely to cause breach of the peace. He also said the CBFC was not in a position to take all aspects into consideration as it does not have the inputs regarding the law and order situation in the concerned States.
 
Stating that they were, for the present, considering the prayer for grant of interim relief, the judges said creative content was an insegregable aspect of Article 19(1) of the Constitution. 
 
"Needless to emphasise, this right is not absolute. There can be regulatory measures. Regulatory measures are reflectible from the language employed under Section 5B of the Act and the guidelines issued by the Central Government. Once the parliamentary legislation confers the responsibility and the power on a statutory Board and the Board grants certification, non-exhibition of the film by the States would be contrary to the statutory provisions and infringe the fundamental right of the petitioners. That apart, as we understand at present from paragraph 27 of the judgment in the case of Prakash Jha (supra), it is the duty and obligation of the State to maintain law and order in the State. We may also note here with profit that the guidelines are to be kept in mind by CBFC. 
 
"For the sake of completeness, we reproduce the relevant part of the guidelines :
“2. In pursuance of the above objectives, the Board of Film Certification shall ensure that...
... ...
(vii) human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;
... ... ...
(ix) scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented;
... ... ...
(xii) visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented;
(xiii) visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitudes are not presented;
... ... ...
(xvii) public order is not endangered;'
 
"It has to be borne in mind, expression of an idea by any one through the medium of cinema which is a public medium has its own status under the Constitution and the Statute. There is a Censor Board under the Act which allows grant of certificate for screening of the movies. As we scan the language of the Act and the guidelines framed thereunder it prohibits use and presentation of visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups.
 
"Be that as it may. As advised at present once the Certificate has been issued, there is prima facie a presumption that the concerned authority has taken into account all the guidelines including public order," they said.
 
They disagreed with Mr. Mehta's contention that grant of an interim order would tantamount to final expression of an opinion on the merits of the case. 
 
"We do not think so. If a substantial ground is established in law by the States, there may be a different perception, for we are passing an interim order, considering the prima facie case and having due regard to the fundamental conception of right of freedom of speech and expression," they added.
 
Originally, the movie, then called Padmavati, was due for release on December 1 but the producers announced on November 20 that they had decided to defer the release in the face of continuing protests by Rajput and other groups against the period drama for allegedly distorting history.
 
The film has become the subject of a major controversy, with various groups accusing its makers of distorting Rajput history and the story of Rani Padmini. While some say that Padmini was only  a fictional character, there are others who insist she was a historical figure. In any case, she is widely revered in Rajasthan.
 
Fringe elements have issued death  and violence threats against Bhansali and actress Deepika Padukone, who plays the title role in the film. 
 
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Two injured, 26 rescued as fire breaks out on oil tanker near Kandla Port

Indian Coast Guard ships and tugs fighting a major fire that broke out on an oil tanker near Kandla Port in Gujarat, on January 18, 2018. Photo: Indian Coast Guard
Indian Coast Guard ships and tugs fighting a major fire that broke out on an oil tanker near Kandla Port in Gujarat, on January 18, 2018. Photo: Indian Coast Guard
At least two members of crew suffered serious burns and 26 others were rescued after a major fire broke out on board an oil tanker, M T Genessa, anchored 14 nautical miles off Kandla Port in Gujarat, today.
 
The injured persons were shifted to a hospital in Mundra, said sources in the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), which is fighting the fire with four ships at the scene and 11 tugs.
 
The Coast Guard said smoke was observed from the accommodation deck of Genessa and the fire was suspected to have broken out in the accommodation area or engine room. 
 
"Hot spots temperature of 68 degree Celsius on port & 25 degree Celsius on starboard side observed...Hot spots temperature brought down to 40 & 25 degree Celsius on port/stbd side respectively. Boundary cooling in progress," the ICG said on microblogging site Twitter.
 
It said an ICG hovercraft had been deployed for shoreline assessment for oil traces, if any.
 
The 183-metre long tanker is said to be carrying about 30,000 tonnes of high speed diesel.
 
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Modi hosts Netanyahu in home state Gujarat; the two PMs dedicate iCreate to nation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday told young Indians that Israel wanted to form partnerships with them in technology, water, agriculture, cyber space, drones, health, life scienes and many other fields.
 
Netanyahu visits Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today told young Indians that Israel wanted to form partnerships with them in technology, water, agriculture, cyber space, drones, health, life scienes and many other fields.
 
"I want young Israelis to come to India not just with a backpack but with a laptop," he said at a function at which he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the iCreate facilitated on the outskirts of the city to the nation.
 
"This is a century of boundless potential and that's why I've come here – to encourage young innovators from our two countries to work together," he said.
 
iCreate is an independent centre set up with the objective of facilitating entrepreneurship through a blend of creativity, innovation, engineering, product design and leveraging emerging technologies to deal with major issues such as food security, water, connectivity, cybersecurity, IT and electronics, energy, bio-medical equipment and devices etc. iCreate aims to develop an ecosystem in India to generate quality entrepreneurs.
 
The two leaders visited various stalls that highlighted technologies and innovations across diverse fields.
 
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Modi said that innovation has a key role to play in bringing the people of India and Israel closer to each other. He said the entire world had taken note of the technological prowess and creativity of Israel.
 
He said the youth of India had energy and enthusiasm. What they needed is a bit of encouragement and institutional support, he added.
 
The Prime Minister said that the Government is working to make the entire system innovation-friendly, so that intent can generate ideas; ideas lead to innovation; and innovation helps create a New India.
 
He said that the first pre-requisite of success is courage. He congratulated the courageous youth who are engaged in innovative activities at iCreate.
 
He urged the youth of India to innovate to overcome the challenges facing the nation today, and to improve the quality of life of the common man at lowest possible cost.
 
The Prime Minister spoke of cooperation between India and Israel for innovation in areas such as food, water, health and energy. He said this cooperation between the two countries would write a new chapter in the history of mankind in the 21st century. 
 
Also at iCreate are 36 startups, 18 from each country, that were chosen to find joint responses to global water, agriculture and health challenges. The plan is pursuant to an Israeli government decision that was made approximately two weeks before Indian Prime Minister Modi's visit in July last year to Israel.
 
Mr. Netanyahu issued certificates to the 18 Indian startups and Mr. Modi to the 18 Israeli startups.
 
Mr. Netanyahu also presented Mr. Modi with a Galmobile water purification vehicle via videoconference from the Rann of Kutch.
 
The Israeli Prime Minister said Mr. Modi was changing India "by the force and vision of his leadership. He is revolutionizing India, he is catapulting it into the future as one of the world's great powers. And he is doing it through the power of innovation."
 
"As you all know, I'm sure you know this – Prime Minister Modi and I are both very young and very optimistic. We're young in our thinking and we're optimistic about the future," he said.
 
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"Today, the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Israel, a historic visit, and my visit to India mark a new era of Israel-India cooperation. One of the areas we're most excited about is cooperation in technology and innovation. Prime Minister Modi is right when he says technology is central to development. He also rightly stresses – inclusive development. Inclusive development because all of us rise and fall together. 
 
"Half a year ago we launched the Israel-India innovation dream. The idea was simple: unite brilliant young Indians and brilliant young Israelis to help solve pressing global problems. Many entrepreneurs immediately recognized the potential of this idea. Over 600 companies applied to be part of the incubator. Several dozen were chosen but this is just a small sample of the scope of our cooperation," he said.
 
Earlier in the morning, Mr. Netanyahu and Mrs. Sara Netanyahu were received at the airport here by Mr. Modi. Hundreds of people, including music bands and dance troupes, lined the streets on the route from the airport to Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram, where the visitors spent some time. Among other things, Mr. Netanyahu tried his hand on the charkha, the spinning wheel.
 
Later, the two Prime Ministers visited the Centre of Excellence for Vegetables in Vadrad in Sabarkantha district of the state.
 
They were briefed on various achievements of the Centre. They also inaugurated, through a video link, the Centre of Excellence for date palms at Kukama in Kutch district. They interacted with farmers from Kutch district.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Modi said that Israel has shown the way on how to transform a nation with the agriculture sector at the core. He said it is important to use technology in the agriculture sector. He outlined how India is working towards doubling farmers' incomes by 2022. He said it is important to devote attention to irrigation and innovative methods of farming.
 
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Modi to receive Netanyahu in Gujarat on Wednesday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu when they reach Ahmedabad tomorrow on a visit to Gujarat.
 
The city of Ahmedabad will greet Mrs. and Mr. Netanyahu with a reception, as they proceed to Sabarmati Ashram from Ahmedabad Airport. They will pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram, an official press release said.
 
The two Prime Ministers will inaugurate the iCreate Center at Deo Dholera village in Ahmedabad. They will visit a Start-up Exhibition and interact with innovators and Start-up CEOs. They will dedicate a mobile water desalination van to Suigam taluka, of Banaskantha district, through a video link. Both leaders will also address a gathering there.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Modi will also visit the Centre of Excellence for Vegetables at Vadrad in Banaskantha district. They will be briefed on the work plan of the Centre. They will inaugurate the Centre of Excellence for Date Palms at Kukama, Bhuj District, through a video link. The two Prime Ministers will also interact with farmers.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu will later depart for Mumbai, the release added.
 
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Pravin Togadia found unconscious in Ahmedabad park: VHP

 
VHP leader Pravin Togadia found unconscious in park in Ahmedabad
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said tonight that its international president Pravin Togadia was found in an unconscious state in a park here after he had been reported missing from the city since this morning when a team from the Rajasthan Police came to arrest him in connection with an old case.
 
A statement from the VHP said that Dr. Togadia was found lying unconscious in the park in the Shahibaug area of the city, because of hypoglycemia, and was rushed to the Chandramani Hospital in the city, where he was under treatment.
 
Dr. Roop Kumar Agrawal, who is treating him, told television channels that Dr. Togadia had been brought to the hospital around 9.15 pm in an unconscious state. He said his condition was better now, though he continued be in a "confused" state.
 
Dr. Agrawal said Dr. Togadia was suffering from hypoglycemia and had been given sugar to help stabilise his condition. "He is in a confused state, he cannot talk properly, cannot recognise," he said. He said Dr. Togadia was brought to the hospital in an 108 ambulance. His personal doctor and son were with him at the hospital now, he added.
 
Earlier, in the day, the Ahmedabad Police had launched a massive search to locate Dr. Togadia, who was last seen leaving in an autorickshaw from outside the VHP office at Paldi here in the company of an unidentified person. He had told his security personnel that they need not accompany him and that he would return in about half an hour.
 
Meanwhile, there were reports that he had been placed under arrest by either the Rajasthan Police or the Gujarat Police but this was denied by them.
 
Police officials said that a team from Rajasthan Police did reach the Sola Police Station here with a warrant for Dr. Togadia's arrest but they did not find him at his residence in the Thaltej locality.
 
VHP workers, who thought their leader had been arrested, staged protests in the city.
 
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Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu arrives on six-day state visit to India

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Delhi on Sunday on a six-day state visit to India during which he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold discussions on shaping bilateral relations between the two countries for the next 25 years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi receiving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Delhi airport on January 14, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi receiving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Delhi airport on January 14, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived here today on a six-day state visit to India during which he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold discussions on shaping bilateral relations between the two countries for the next 25 years.
 
In a special gesture, Mr. Modi drove to the Delhi Airport to receive Mr. Netanyahu, who is accompanied by his wife Sara Netanyahu.
 
The two Prime Ministers greeted each other with a warm hug and a shakehand.
 
Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Modi drove from the airport to Teen Murti Chowk to attend a ceremony at which it was renamed as Teen Murti Haifa Chowk in memory of the supreme sacrifice by Indian soldiers to liberate Haifa in Israel in 1918. The two Prime Ministers laid wreaths at the memorial.
 
The three bronze statues at Teen Murti represent the Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers who were part of the 15 Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade that carried out the victorious assault on the city of Haifa on September 23, 1918 during World War I. 
 
Later, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on the Israeli Prime Minister, when they discussed various aspects of the bilateral ties and ways of strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries.
 
During his stay in India, Mr. Netanyahu will also travel to Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, Gujarat and Mumbai before flying back home.
 
This is Mr. Netanyahu's first visit to India. The two countries had, on the  occasion of commemoration of 25 years of establishing diplomatic relations, it was decided to exchange the visits of both the Prime Ministers. Accordingly, Mr. Modi had visited Israel in July 2017, and during that visit, India's relations with Israel were upgraded to a strategic partnership with special focus on agriculture and water. 
 
Both the sides are expected to conclude memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and agreements in the aeas of cyber security, space, film production and energy, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs added.
 
In Delhi, apart from holding bilateral talks with Mr. Modi tomorrow, Mr. Netanyahu will call on President Ram Nath Kovind. The two Prime Ministers will attend the 2nd India-Israel CEOs Forum. The first CEOs Forum was held during Mr. Modi's visit to Israel.
 
 
Modi, Netanyahu visit Teen Murti Chowk
Mr. Netanyahu will also inaugurate the Raisina Dialogue, organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
 
Both the sides are expected to conclude MoUs/Agreements in the area of cyber, space, film production and energy.
 
In Gujarat, the two Prime Ministers will visit the Center of Excellence in Vadrad and inaugurate a Center of Excellence for date palms in Bhuj via video conference. They will also visit the iCreate innovation campus and center.
 
In Mumbai, Mr. Netanyahu will meet with Jewish community leaders and select members of the Indian business community. He will also reach out to Bollywood in an exclusive “Shalom Bollywood” event.
 
Ahead of the visit, the Israeli Ambassador to India, Mr. Daniel Carmon said, “The Prime Minister’s visit to India is the grand finale to the celebrations of 25 years of growing partnership between India and Israel. The visit will focus on the progress made between India and Israel since Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Israel last summer, and on shaping the next 25 years of relations between our countries and our peoples.”
 
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Three girls dead, 15 injured in fire during Rashtriya Katha Shibir near Rajkot

 
Three girls dead, 15 injured in fire near Rajkot
Three girls died and at least 15 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out at the Rashtriya Katha Shibir organised by Swami Dharambandhu at Pransla in Upleta area of Rajkot district in Gujarat late last night.
 
Rajkot District Collector Vikrant Pandey told NetIndian over the telephone that the injured girls were admitted to a local hospital for treatment.
 
The fire broke out around 11.40 pm yesterday on the last day of the week-long camp, which  had begun on January 6. More than 15,000 students -- boys and girls as well as their teachers and officials -- from all over the country had participated in the event.
 
The fire, which appeared to have been caused by an electrical short-circuit, quickly spread and destroyed more than 50 tents at the camp, which was located about 100 km from Rajkot city.
 
Dr. Pandey, the District Superintendent of Police and other senior officials rushed to the scene immediately.
 
Dr. Pandey said fire brigade men, posted at the camp as a precautionary measure, as well as reinforcements and other emergency personnel saved more than 300 girls from the affected tents.
 
The students had attended a cultural programme at the camp and finished dinner before retiring for the day when the fire suddenly broke out, he said.
 
He said the victims were in the 12-15 years age group.
 
Dr. Pandey said most of the students attending the camp had left for their homes and the rest would be leaving shortly. He said arrangements were also made for those who were rescued from the flames, because some of them appeared to have been scared by the experience.
 
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Four of family die in fire in grocery store in Ahmedabad

 
Four die in fire at grocery store in Ahmedabad
Four members of a family died of asphyxiation after a fire broke out in a grocery store located on the ground floor of a residential tower in the Shastrinagar of the city early this morning.
 
The family, which hailed from Rajasthan, was living in the tiny store, which they owned, and did not have a chance to escape as the flames and smoke quickly engulfed the premises.
 
A seven-year-old daughter of the family escaped the fire because she had left for school before it broke out.
 
Fire brigade personnel who rushed to the scene had to break open the shutters of the store to get inside and control the flames.
 
The cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained and will be investigated, sources said.
 
Fire brigade officials said the store had only a single entry and exit and did not have any ventilation.
 
The victims were identified as Sunil Chaudhary, 40, Mohan Chaudhary, 32, Leela Chaudhary, 27, and 3-year-old Arjun Chaudhary.
 
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CCI imposes penalties on two druggists associations in Gujarat

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed penalties on the Chemists and Druggists Association of Baroda (CDAB) and Federation of Gujarat State Chemists and Druggists Association (FGSCDA) after finding them to be in contravention of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002.
 
An official press release said the Commission had imposed a monetary penalty of Rs. 1,08,588 and Rs. 11,11,549, calculated at the rate of 10% of their average income, on CDAB and FGSCDA, respectively, under the provisions of Section 27 of the Act. 
 
Penalties of Rs. 34,048 and Rs. 62,144, calculated at the rate of 10% of their respective average incomes, have also been imposed upon Mr. V.T. Shah (President, CDAB) and Mr. Jashvant Patel (President, FGSCDA).
 
The release said that one of the stockists based in Vadodara (Baroda) had filed an information alleging that despite an earlier order of the Commission in the year 2012, CDAB, through its practices, had continued to limit and control the supply of drugs and medicines in the market by mandating ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC/LOC) prior to appointment of stockists and payment of Product Information Service (PIS) charges prior to introduction of new products in the market by pharmaceutical companies.
 
The Commission said that investigations carried out by its Director General (DG) revealed involvement of the State Level Association, FGSCDA, besides CDAB, in the alleged conduct. After detailed enquiry, the Commission has found that CDAB and the Gujarat Federation were indulging in the anti-competitive practice of insisting NOC prior to the appointment of new stockists by pharmaceutical companies. Further, the Gujarat Federation was found to be carrying on the practice of making introduction of new products in the market subject to payment of PIS charge and its approval. 
 
These practices were held to be limiting and controlling supplies of drugs/medicines in the market, in contravention of Section 3 (3) (b) read with Section 3 (1) of the Act. Further, the Commission has held Mr. Shah and Mr. Patel to be responsible under Section 48 of the Act, for their involvement in the anti-competitive practices.
 
Accordingly, CDAB, Gujarat Federation and their office bearers, have been directed to cease and desist from indulging in the aforesaid anti-competitive practice.
 
"This case is yet another example of how competitive markets and fair-play in the distribution of drugs/medicines are being compromised by the persisting anti-competitive behaviour of the chemist and druggist associations at the Regional as well as State level. It is indeed a serious matter that despite various orders by the Commission in similar cases and specific directions through a press notice, chemist and druggist associations have not mended their ways and have continued to indulge in such anti-competitive conduct. Considering the larger public interest involved in the distribution of drugs/medicines, the Commission deprecates such a conduct and its perpetration in any form by those responsible, be it the Associations, Stockists/ Distributor/ Wholesaler/ Retailer and the Pharmaceutical Companies. Given the widespread and continuing indulgence in the anti-competitive practices, the Competition Commission of India will be keeping a close watch on the conduct by all such entities in various parts of the country and would not hesitate to take action, wherever deemed necessary," the release added.
 
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RIL commissions world’s largest refinery off-gas cracker at Jamnagar

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said it had successfully commissioned and achieved design throughput of the world’s first ever and largest Refinery Off-Gas Cracker (ROGC) complex of 1.5 MMTPA capacity along with downstream plants and utilities. 
 
The ROGC complex is a core component of RIL’s most innovative and world-scale J3 project at its integrated Refinery-Petrochemicals complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat, a press release from the company said.
 
"With the commissioning of ROGC complex, the largest ever expansion of RIL’s petrochemicals portfolio comes to a flawless completion. This is one of the largest capital expenditure programmes globally in the sector in recent times. It epitomises RIL’s core strategy of continuously pursuing opportunities for cost optimisation and efficiency enhancement through vertical integration across the value chain," the release said.
 
The ROGC complex has a unique configuration as it uses off-gases from RIL’s two refineries at Jamnagar as feedstock, the release said.
 
"This innovative approach of integration with refineries provides a sustainable cost advantage, making ROGC competitive with respect to the crackers in Middle-East and North America which have feedstock cost advantage," the release said.
 
"ROGC design is highly flexible and energy efficient. Given the complexities of such a plant, the start-up has been flawless adhering to the most stringent safety and technical integrity standards globally.
 
"ROGC is the latest addition to RIL’s existing cracker portfolio, consisting of cracker facilities at Nagothane in Maharashtra and Hazira, Dahej and Vadodara in Gujarat," it said.
 
There are nearly 270 ethylene plants globally with a combined capacity of over 170 MMTPA. RIL’s combined ethylene capacity is now close to 4 MMTPA at five of its manufacturing sites. With ROGC and imported Ethane, RIL has one of the most competitive and flexible cracker portfolios.
 
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Ethylene from ROGC is used in downstream plants to produce Mono-Ethylene Glycol (MEG) and Polyethylene (LLDPE and LDPE). Similarly, Propylene from ROGC has enhanced output of the existing Polypropylene (PP) plants at Jamnagar complex to produce high-value co-polymers.
 
"The commissioning of MEG plant marks completion of all-round expansion of the polyester value chain post successful commissioning of Para-Xylene (PX), Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA), Polyester filament and Poly Ethylene Terephthalate (PET) plants over last three years.
 
"With the commissioning of LLDPE and LDPE plants at Jamnagar along with its existing PE plants at other manufacturing sites, RIL has capability to produce entire range of PE grades covering all end-uses in the Indian market.
 
"The ROGC complex is built in a record time with approximately 40% lower capital cost compared to the similar projects globally. The unique configuration with sustainable cost advantage, competitive project schedule, lower capital cost and incident-free flawless start-up makes ROGC complex as one of the best executed project globally from concept to commissioning," the release said.
 
Mr. Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited said: “The world’s first ROGC and downstream plants mark a paradigm shift in the profitability and sustainability of RIL’s petrochemicals business. The ROGC complex is built on our core philosophy of deep feedstock integration to establish industry leading cost and efficiency benchmarks. This world scale petrochemicals expansion, once again showcases RIL’s unique competitive advantage in efficient execution of complex projects and flawless commissioning capabilities, adding yet another jewel to its crown. This is a fitting tribute to RIL’s visionary Founder Chairman Shri Dhirubhai H. Ambani."
 
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Ahmedabad Space Application Centre developing new remote sensor camera

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The Space Application Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, is all set to develop a new advanced hi-tech remote sensor camera with a capacity to capture images/pictures from a height of over 300 km.
 
This was disclosed by the Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh after a visit to the Remote Sensor Unit of the SAC here yesterday.
 
An official press release said Dr Jitendra Singh held a detailed update meeting with Director, SAC, Dr Tapan Misra and other members of the scientific fraternity at the Centre. He also went around different sections of the Instrument Manufacturing and Upgrading Unit.
 
The Minister was informed that the new remote sensor camera will be fully indigenous, living up to the Make in India concept and could be available by early next year. The new gadget will be an improvement on the existing application used for infrastructure development works, soil management and even security-related tasks.
 
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Essar Oilfields commences drilling in Cambay Basin on contract with Mercator Petroleum

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Essar Oilfields Services (India) Limited (EOSIL), a part of the Essar Group, today said it had commenced a contract awarded by Mercator Petroleum to drill two firm oil wells plus one optional oil well in the Cambay Basin in Gujarat.
 
With the company commencing a few other drilling contracts in this fiscal, EOSIL is expecting to clock revenues of $ 48 million in this financial year, a press release from Essar said. 
 
Mr Rajeev Nayyer, CEO, EOSIL, said: “This contract bears testimony to Essar’s 25-year expertise in the contract drilling business that is backed by world-class assets. Along with the other drilling contracts that we have commenced this fiscal, the Mercator contract will add substantially to our topline growth. We are well placed to capitalise on the upswing that we see in the oil & gas exploration sector and drive sustainable growth.”
 
Essar Rig MR01 (1000 HP), the latest addition to the EOSIL fleet of rigs, has started drilling the first well for Mercator. A trailer-mounted mechanical rig that is capable of drilling up to a depth of 11,000 ft, it has proved to be an outstanding performer during its six exploratory well contracts with Bharat Petro Resources Limited, which were part of its previous assignment, the release said.
 
In addition to its 15 land rigs, EOSIL also operates the offshore rig, Essar Wildcat, which is a semi-submersible rig capable of drilling in water depths of up to 1,600 feet and drilling depth of up to 25,000 feet. Since May 2017, this rig has been deployed on a three-year contract with ONGC on the east coast of India. After completing its work programme in the first location, it is currently at ONGC’s second location and is drilling a deeper exploratory well.
 
Essar said the Oilfields Services business provides contract drilling services to oil and gas companies across the globe. The company was incorporated in 2006 with a focus on providing quality onshore and offshore drilling services to domestic, as well as international clients. 
 
"With a diverse mix of rigs in its fleet, EOSIL continues to win and execute projects for prestigious clients, such as ONGC, Oil India, HOEC, IOC and GAIL. All EOSIL rigs are equipped with advanced equipment and have a proven track record of achieving high drilling efficiencies. The company also has a pool of talented engineers and managers who have earned the confidence of clients through their ability to find solutions to problems during every stage of the well drilling process," the release added.
 
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Rupani sworn in for second term as Gujarat CM, Patel continues as Deputy CM

 
Vijay Rupani takes oath as Gujarat CM
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Rupani was today sworn in as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for a second consecutive term after his party was returned to power in the recent elections to the state legislative assembly, though with reduced numbers.
 
Mr. Rupani was administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor O. P. Kohli at a ceremony here.
 
Mr. Nitin Patel, who was Deputy Chief Minister in the previous Rupani Cabinet, was the next to take oath and he will hold the same position.
 
Along with them, 18 other Ministers -- eight of Cabinet rank and ten Ministers of State -- were also sworn in today.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled States, former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, former Gujarat Chief Ministers Keshubhai Patel, Shankarsinh Vaghela and Anandiben Patel and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
 
Mr. Rupani, 61, and Mr. Nitin Patel, also 61, were elected as the leader and deputy leader of the BJP Legislature Party at a meeting in Ahmedabad on December 22.
 
In the two-phase polling held on December 9 and 14, the BJP retained power for the sixth consecutive time, winning 99 seats in the 182-member legislative assembly. This was lower than the 115 it had won in the 2012 Assembly elections. The party has since also received support from one independent MLA, Ratansinh Rathod.
 
The opposition Congress won 77 seats, a significant improvement from its 2012 tally of 61.
 
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Mr. Rupani became the Chief Minister of Gujarat for the first time on August 7, 2016 after the resignation of Ms. Anandiben Patel, who had succeeded Mr. Narendra Modi in 2014 after he became the Prime Minister and moved to Delhi. 
 
He was until then the Minister for Transport, Water Supply, Labour and Employment in the Anandiben Patel government.
 
Mr. Patel, who was widely tipped to be chosen as the successor to Ms. Anandiben Patel, served as Deputy Chief Minister in Mr. Rupani's Cabinet.
 
Mr. Rupani is a prominent Jain leader and is considered to be close to both Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah. He was re-elected from the Rajkot West constituency in the recent elections.
 
Born on August 2, 1956, in Yangon, Myanmar (then Burma), Mr. Rupani started his political career as a student activist and later joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Jana Sangh, the precursor of the BJP, in 1971.
 
He has served as a municipal corporator in Rajkot and as mayor of the city. He also served one term as member of the Rajya Sabha from 2006 to 2012. He was elected to Gujarat Assembly in August 2014 in a bye-election. He was inducted as a Minister by Ms. Patel when she expanded her Cabinet.
 
Mr. Rupani has a B.A. and an LL. B. from the Saurashtra University.
 
Mr. Patel, who was involved with his family business for some time, was first elected to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly in 1990 and has handled various portfolios, including Finance, Urban Development, Urban Housing, Roads and Buildings, Narmada and Petrochemicals, as a Minister since 1995-96. 
 
Earlier, he served as a member of the Kadi Municipality for 15 years and as its  president during 1988-90. He was president of Mehsana district BJP during 1997-98. He was re-elected to the legislative assembly from Mehsana in the recent elections.
 
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Secular foundations of country must be strengthened further: Naidu

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Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today said the secular foundations of the country must be strengthened further and any attempt to create differences in the name of religion by vested interests and religious extremists must be nipped in the bud.
 
Mr. Naidu was addressing the members of Parsi community on the occasion of Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2017, in this village where the Atash Bahram, one of the eight fire temples of the Zoroastrian religion is located.  
 
“Unless there is social cohesion, communal harmony and religious tolerance, the progress and development of the country will suffer. With robust macroeconomic fundamentals in place, India is projected to be the third largest economy in the world by 2028.
 
“However, to achieve rapid economic growth and the New India of prosperity and peace, every Indian should work shoulder-to-shoulder in eradicating the evils like corruption, black money, castism and criminalization of politics as also in eliminating impediments such as illiteracy, gender discrimination and atrocities on weaker sections,” he added.
 
The Parsi community has made an invaluable contribution to the country’s growth and progress in diverse fields from atomic energy to pharmaceuticals, he said.
 
India’s syncretic culture and ethos form the basis of the country’s secularism. Secularism was in the DNA of every Indian much before it was enshrined in the Constitution. ‘Sarva Dharma Sama Bhava’ epitomizes India’s secular ethos. India is a land of diverse cultures and religions, he added.
 
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The association of the holy fire with this historic town dates back to 1742 when the then ruler Damaji Gaikwad permitted the Sanjana Priests to settle in Udvada along with their revered fire, the Iranshah.
 
“The town with its focus on Iranshah is distinctly planned and comprises a large number of houses dating back to 250 years, reflecting the unique heritage and cultural characteristics. I am told that the Iranshah is maintained by nine priestly families who settled in the town,” he said.
 
“As part of promoting pilgrimage throughout the year to this place, the Gujarat Government has appropriately named it as Pavitra Yatradham,” he added.
 
The Vice-President said the values of tolerance and respect for all religions have been part of Indian ethos from times immemorial. 
 
Keeping the tourist potential of the town in mind, the Gujarat Government has initiated Destination Development Project and put in place some basic infrastructure in and around Iranshah Fire Temple.
 
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Rahul Gandhi says Congress lost Gujarat elections, but won in reality

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi held region-wise "introspection" meetings here today to review his party's performance in the just-concluded elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly and asserted later that, though it had lost the polls, it had won in reality.
 
Addressing party leaders and workers here, he asserted that the party, which ended up with 77 seats in the 182-member assembly as compared to 99 bagged by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), would win 135 seats in the next Assembly polls in 2022.
 
While the BJP won the elections for the sixth time in a row and extended its 22-year reign in Gujarat, for the Congress it was its best ever performance in the state since 1985.
 
Mr. Gandhi said that, three months ago, when the Congress began its campaign, there were questions about its ability to even fight the elections, leave alone winning. 
 
"The BJP said they would win 150 seats and that the Congress would have to rest content with 20 to 25 seats. The Gujarat Congress has shown that the party, if it fights united and stays true to its ideology, cannot lose," he said.
 
"We lost the elections, but we won. That is the reality. We won because they fought with anger, hatred, they had all the resources, money, police, Chief Ministers of different states, the support of big industrialists. We had truth on our side and we showed the entire country that the Congress, when it fights with love, it can win," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi, who took over as the president of the Congress two days after polling ended, congratulated all the newly-elected party MLAs, the state leadership of the party and the AICC representatives for running a strong campaign and putting up an impressive show in the polls. He felt that the selection of party candidates had also been done well, broadly.
 
According to him, the Congress had been able to "expose" the BJP during the elections. He said the ruling party was unable to answer any of the questions raised by the Congress during the campaign and pointed out that, towards the end of the campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked only about himself and made baseless allegations against former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Congress leaders.
 
He said Mr. Modi had stopped talking about development after the Congress had dismantled the so-called "Modi model" in Gujarat.
 
Mr. Gandhi said that the review of the party's campaign and discussions with its workers had shown that, while 90 percent of the leaders and workers had worked very hard during the elections, there were about 10 percent who did not do their bit.
 
"We will act against them," he said, to loud cheers. "We want to send a clear message. No matter how big you are, if you do not work for the party in elections, there is no future for you in the Congress."
 
"A lot of people put their everything into the elections. Everybody saw that. They will be taken forward in the organisation, but those who did not support the party fully, we will act against them, with love," he said.
 
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Mr. Gandhi said a new Congress leadership had emerged in Gujarat after the elections and they would lead the party in the next elections and form the next government in the state in 2022. "The Congress will win 135 seats," he said.
 
He told the party's newly elected MLAs that they were its ambassadors and that the people of Gujarat would be watching them. "You have to show that the Congress MLAs will fight for the people, their issues and will not step back," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said the struggle begun by the party had not ended. "Farmers voted for us, youth, women voted for us, our struggle of the past 3-4 months must be taken forward," he said.
 
He said the BJP government would work for just a few industrialists during its tenure. "It is our responsibility to protect the interests of the Gujarati people, farmers, youth. We will do it," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said the BJP had been able to win the elections mainly because it had, over the last two decades, maligned the Congress leadership with a campaign of lies.
 
"My main challenge in the elections was to  convince the Gujarat Congress that it could win. I am happy to say that we achieved our goal 70 percent, but not 100 percent. You have seen the results. Gujarat Congress now has the confidence. The difference was ten seats. You now know that the Congress can win. You will see in the next Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, what kind of results there will be. They will be very good. All these (MLAs) will be in Government then," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi also used the opportunity to congratulate the BJP and the Chief Minister for their win in the elections. "They will run the government for the next five years, we will do the work of the Opposition," he added.
 
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Young Indian minds are bubbling with bright ideas

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Nail polish which can indicate presence of drugs or alcohol in soft drinks to prevent molestation, a guiding system for Alzheimer’s patients if they get lost, foot-operated tea making table for differently abled persons and a mechanism for unlocking car during fire.
 
These are some of the ideas selected for the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE 2017 awards which were given to children on Friday in Ahmedabad. This year the award has been to 56 school kids from 16 states who came up with 29 innovative ideas. Overall, 65,000 submissions from all over the country were received for the competition. The competition is held annually by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The awards were conferred by former President Pranab Mukherjee.
 
Speaking to India Science Wire, Rechuma Manas, who has given the idea guiding system for Alzheimer patients if they get lost, said, “We live in a small place near Guwahati where healthcare facilities are not well developed. I saw my grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s so I thought there should be some guiding system for patients like her if they get lost."
 
Another awardee Sayan Chaudhry from Delhi said he was part of IGNITE workshop last year where he went on field trip and met a tailor. An interaction with the village tailor made Sayan realized the problem and from there he thought of a stapler-like device for stitching buttons.
 
Other award winning ideas are : smart device for rag picking, expiry date stamping on eggs, wearable indicator to ensure body hydration, pothole detector in flooded conditions, currency note sterilizing machine in ATM, washing machine that can use recycled soap water, detection system in vehicles for speed breakers much in advance and school bag with foldable wheeled legs to distribute load.
 
IGNITE is a national competition of original technological ideas and innovations by children up to class 12 or those out of school up to the age of 17 years. In this competition, children have to just think of new ideas and innovations. NIF then takes up the best ones and develops prototypes, and ultimately, actual devices and products. The objective is to promote creativity and originality among children. The awards are announced every year on October 15, the birth anniversary of former President A P J Abdul Kalam.
 
The competition is organized by NIF in association with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Honey Bee Network, and other partners. A number of other State Educational Boards such as Board of School Education Haryana, Nagaland Board of School Education, Directorate of Higher Education, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Lok Sikshan Sanchalanalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, Department of School Education, Government of Chhattisgarh and Mizoram Board of School Education also actively promoted the IGNITE campaign.
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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Vijay Rupani to continue as Gujarat CM, Nitin Patel as Deputy CM

Vijay Rupani (R) and Nitin Patel (L)
Vijay Rupani (R) and Nitin Patel (L)
Incumbent Vijay Rupani was set for a second term as Chief Minister of Gujarat after the newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators chose him as the leader and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel as the deputy leader of the BJP Legislature Party here today.
 
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was the party's central observer, told journalists that the legislature party had unanimously elected Mr. Rupani as their leader.
 
He said Mr. Bhupendra Singh, an MLA, had proposed Mr. Rupani's name, which was seconded by five more MLAs and then put to vote. No other name was proposed, he said. Mr. Patel was similarly elected the deputy leader, he said.
 
Mr. Jaitley said Mr. Rupani, 61, would now meet Governor O. P. Kohli and stake claim to form the next government. The date of swearing in of the new Ministry would be finalised soon, he said.
 
He also said that Mr. Rupani would consult other members of the state leadership to finalise his Ministerial team.
 
In the two-phase polling held on December 9 and 14, the BJP retained power for the sixth consecutive time, though with reduced numbers, winning 99 seats in the 182-member legislative assembly. This was lower than the 115 it had won in the 2012 Assembly elections. The party has since also received support from one independent MLA, Ratansinh Rathod.
 
The opposition Congress won 77 seats, a significant improvement from its 2012 tally of 61.
 
Mr. Rupani became the Chief Minister of Gujarat on August 7, 2016 after the resignation of Ms. Anandiben Patel, who had succeeded Mr. Narendra Modi in 2014 after he became the Prime Minister and moved to Delhi.
 
He was until then the Minister for Transport, Water Supply, Labour and Employment in the Anandiben Patel government.
 
Mr. Patel, 61, who was widely tipped to be chosen as the successor to Ms. Anandiben Patel, served as Deputy Chief Minister in Mr. Rupani's Cabinet.
 
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Mr. Rupani is a prominent Jain leader and is considered to be close to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Shah. He was re-elected from the Rajkot West constituency in the recent elections.
 
Born on August 2, 1956, in Yangon, Myanmar (then Burma), Mr. Rupani started his political career as a student activist and later joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Jana Sangh, the precursor of the BJP, in 1971.
 
He has served as a municipal corporator in Rajkot and as mayor of the city. He also served one term as member of the Rajya Sabha from 2006 to 2012. He was elected to Gujarat Assembly in August 2014 in a bye-election. He was inducted as a Minister by Ms. Patel when she expanded her Cabinet.
 
Mr. Rupani has a B.A. and an LL. B. from the Saurashtra University.
 
Mr. Patel, who was involved with his family business for some time, was first elected to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly in 1990 and has handled various portfolios, including Finance, Urban Development, Urban Housing, Roads and Buildings, Narmada and Petrochemicals, as a Minister since 1995-96. 
 
Earlier, he served as a member of the Kadi Municipality for 15 years and as its  president during 1988-90. He was president of Mehsana district BJP during 1997-98. He was re-elected to the legislative assembly from Mehsana in the recent elections.
 
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Cabinet okays establishment of National Rail and Transportation University at Vadodara

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The Union Cabinet yesterday approved a proposal to set up the first National Rail and Transport University (NRTU) at Vadodara in Gujarat to skill its human resources and build capability.
 
An official press release said this transformative initiative of the Ministry of Railways would be catalyst for transformation of the rail and transport sector towards "New India".
 
The University will be set up as a Deemed to Be University under de novo category as per the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016. Government is working towards completing all approvals by April 2018 and to launch the first academic program in July 2018, it said.
 
The release said a not-for-profit company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 would be created by the Ministry of Railways which shall be the Managing Company of the proposed university. The company will provide financial and infrastructural support to the university, and appoint Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the university. 
 
Its Board of Management, comprising professionals and academics, shall be independent of the Managing Company with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities, it said.
 
The existing land and infrastructure at National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) (formerly Railway Staff College) at Vadodara will be utilized, and suitably modified and modernized for the purpose of the university. In its full enrolment, it is expected to have 3000 full-time students. The funding of the new University/Institute will entirely come from the Ministry of Railways, it said.
 
"This university will set Indian Railways on the path of modernisation and help India become a global leader in transport sector by enhancing productivity and promoting 'Make in India'. It will create a resource pool of skilled manpower and leverage state-of-the-art technology to provide better safety, speed and service in Indian Railways. It will support 'Startup India' and 'Skill India' by channeling technology and delivering knowhow, and foster entrepreneurship, generating large scale employment opportunities. This will lead to transformation of railway and transportation sector and enable faster movement of people and goods. Through global partnerships and accessing cutting edge technologies, India will emerge as a global centre of expertise," the release said.
 
According to it, the university plans to use latest pedagogy and technology applications (satellite based tracking, Radio Frequency Identification and Artificial Intelligence) to improve on-the-job performance and productivity. Close collaboration with the Indian Railways will ensure that the stakeholders have access to Railways' facilities, which will work as 'live labs' and they will be able to work on solving real life problems. It will have 'Centres of Excellence' showcasing high-end, niche technology like High Speed Train.
 
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BJP retains Gujarat with reduced numbers, wrests HP from Congress

The BJP on Monday extended its 22-year reign in Gujarat for another term and wrested power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh as counting of votes progressed in the crucial elections to the legislative assemblies of the two states, the results of which are expected to have a huge bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
BJP workers celebrate as party heads for wins in Gujarat, HP
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today extended its 22-year reign in Gujarat for another term and wrested power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh as counting of votes progressed in the crucial elections to the legislative assemblies of the two states, the results of which are expected to have a huge bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
In Gujarat, the BJP ended up with 99 seats in the 182-member assembly, lower than the 115 seats it had won in the last elections in 2012 and the 111 seats that the mean of alll exit polls had given it and much below the party's oft-repeated claim through the campaign that it would win 150 seats.
 
The Congress finished with 77 seats, and drew satisfaction from the fact that it had significantly improved its tally from 61 in 2012 and more than the 70 seats that the exit polls had given it.
 
Of the remaining six seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won one seat, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) two seats and Independents three.
 
The BTP, headed by former JD (U) MLA Chotubhai Vasava is an ally of the Congress, while one of the Independents, Jignesh Mewani, a Dalit activist, was backed by the Congress.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, where power has, in the last few decades, alternated between the two parties every five years, the BJP bagged 44 seats in the 68-member House. The ruling Congress won 20 and was ahead in one more, making a total of 21. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) won one seat and one Independent candidate had won a seat and another was in the lead.
 
The BJP had won 115 seats and the Congress 61 in the last Assembly elections in Gujarat in 2012, when the Chief Minister of the State was Mr. Narendra Modi, who went on to become the Prime Minister of the country in May, 2014.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress had won 36 of the 68 seats in the 2012 elections and the BJP 26.
 
For the Congress, though it ended up on the losing side, the Gujarat performance will considerably boost the confidence of its new president Rahul Gandhi and the entire party as it begins preparations for equally important elections in various states before the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.
 
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani won from Rajkot (West) with a huge margin of 53,755 votes over Indranil Rajyaguru of the Congress, the richest candidate in the elections, while Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel won by 7137 votes over his nearest rival, Jivabhai Patel of the Congress in Mehsana. 
 
Gujarat BJP chief Jitendra Vaghani won from Bhavnagar West by a margin of 27,185 votes against Dilipsinh Gohil of the Congress but his colleague and former Minister Jayanarayan Vyas lost to Chandanjit Thakor by 17,260 votes in Sidhpur.
 
Senior Congress leaders Shaktisinh Gohil lost from Mandvi, Arjun Modhvadia from Porbandar and Siddharth Patel, son of former Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel, from Dabhoi.
 
Alpesh Thakor, the OBC leader who joined the Congress just ahead of the elections, won from Radhanpur, while Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani, who contested from Vadgam as an independent candidate with the support of the Congress, also sailed through.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, while the BJP scored a resounding win, its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost to Rajinder Rana of the Congress by 2933 votes in Sujanpur.
 
Outgoing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh won from Arki and his son Vikramaditya Singh emerged victorious from Shimla Rural.
 
Counting of votes began at 8 am in the two states.  The BJP took an early lead, but it had a scare for a brief while around mid-morning when the Congress suddenly surged ahead before the ruling party regained its lead.
 
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Polling was held for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly in two phases on December 9 and 14, while voting for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly was held on November 9.
 
In Gujarat, 68.41 percent of the 4.35 crore electorate had exercise their franchise in the two phases of polling. In the first phase of polling, 66.75 percent of the electors had voted in 89 constituencies in the Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat regions of the state. In the second round of polling, 69.99 percent of the voters had exercised their franchise in 93 constituencies of North and Central Gujarat.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, more than 74 percent of the 50.25 lakh voters had turned out to exercise their franchise.
 
The elections were seen as a crucial test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and the policies and programmes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre and in Gujarat. In particular, the Congress kept up the focus on demonetisation and the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) as well as on issues like jobs, education and healthcare.
 
The elections are also the first major challenge for Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who took over as the new president of his party on December 16. Mr. Gandhi can look back with satisfaction on a fairly well-crafted campaign that seemed to have rattled the BJP at one stage before Mr. Modi flew in for the last few days and managed to garner considerable support for his party by citing alleged insulting remarks made by Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar of the Congress against him, a son of Gujarat, and also a dinner hosted by the former Union Minister for former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. Mr. Modi suggested at election meetings that there was something conspiratorial about the gathering at which dignitaries like former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari, former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, former Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor, several former diplomats and senior journalists were also present.
 
Questions were also raised about Mr. Gandhi's visits to dozens of temples across Gujarat during the campaign and whether he is a Hindu or not, and when the Congress President asserted that he indeed was one, the BJP promptly accused him of practising "soft Hindutva". 
 
As the Congress and its spokespersons tied themselves up in knots on these and other issues, the campaign was over. On the last day of the campaign, the local authorities denied permission for road shows planned in Ahmedabad by both Mr. Modi and Mr. Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi addressed a press conference, and Mr. Modi took a much-publicised seaplane ride to the famous Ambaji temple from the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad.
 
On the eve of the second phase of polling on December 13, the Election Commission stepped in and stopped television channels from telecasting interviews with Mr. Gandhi. On the day of polling, Mr. Modi seemed to stage a short road show and the Congress protested loudly to the Election Commission. By then, of course, the elections were over.
 
An average of the results of the exit polls telecast by various television channels soon after polling ended in Gujarat on Thursday gave 111 seats to the ruling BJP and 70 to the Congress.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, the exit polls gave 48 seats to the BJP and 19 to the ruling Congress.
 
Mr. Modi and Mr. Gandhi led a galaxy of leaders from their respective parties in the often-bitter campaign, addressing scores of meetings in the two states.
 
While the BJP made every effort during the campaign to extend its 22-year reign in Gujarat, the Congress, which has been in the political wilderness in the state for more than two decades, made a determined bid to win this time, with Mr. Gandhi leading from the front.
 
The Congress was buoyed in its efforts in Gujarat by the support received from three popular youth leaders -- Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakore. 
 
With today's win, the BJP or its allies are now in power in 19 states across the country, while the Congress has only two major states -- Karnataka and Punjab -- in its kitty, apart from Union Territories such as Puducherry.
 
Many of these states, including Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Assam, have been won since Mr. Modi became Prime Minister in May 2014 and Mr. Amit Shah took over as BJP President. It is sharing power with senior partner PDP in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
It lost Delhi and Bihar, but then managed to get back JD (U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar back on its side after he ended the ruling alliance with the RJD and the Congress. The BJP and JD (U) are now in a coalition government in Bihar.
 
The party is now in power in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Goa, though it could not make any progress in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal. Earlier this year, it lost Punjab after sharing power with senior partner Shiromani Akali Dal for ten years.
 
Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram are some of the states that will go to the polls ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
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BJP leads in Gujarat, heads for big win in HP

The BJP was poised to extend its 22-year reign in Gujarat for another term and set to wrest power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh as counting of votes progressed on Monday in the elections to the legislative assemblies of the two states, the results of which are expected to have a huge bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
BJP workers celebrate as party heads for wins in Gujarat, HP
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was poised to extend its 22-year reign in Gujarat for another term and was set to wrest power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh as counting of votes progressed today in the crucial elections to the legislative assemblies of the two states, the results of which are expected to have a huge bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
As counting trends poured in all 182 constituencies in Gujarat, the BJP had won 84 seats and was ahead in 15 more, adding up to 99 seats. The Congress, which has been in the political wilderness in the state for more than two decades, had won 70 and was leading in 7 more, taking its likely tally to 77 seats.
 
Of the remaining six seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had won one seat, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) two seats and Independents had won one seat and were ahead in two others. The BTP, headed by former JD (U) MLA Chotubhai Vasava is an ally of the Congress, as is independent Jignesh Mewani, a Dalit activist, who was backed by the Congress.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, where power has, in the last few decades, alternated between the two parties every five years, the BJP had won 23 seats and was ahead in 21 more, adding up to 44. The ruling Congress had won 14 and was ahead in seven more, making a total of 21. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) won one seat and one independent candidate had won and another was in the lead.
 
The BJP had won 115 seats and the Congress 61 in the last Assembly elections in Gujarat in 2012, when the Chief Minister of the State was Mr. Narendra Modi, who went on to become the Prime Minister of the country in May, 2014.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress had won 36 of the 68 seats in the 2012 elections and the BJP 26.
 
The trends so far have made it clear that the BJP is nowhere close to achieving its 2012 tally of 115 seats in Gujarat or the average figure of 111 projected by various exit polls on Thursday, at the end of the second and final phase of polling in the state. The tally is also much lower than the 150 seats that its leaders claimed they would win during the election campaign.
 
For the Congress, though it ended up on the losing side, it has improved its 2012 tally significantly and, to that extent, the Gujarat performance will considerably boost the confidence ot its new president Rahul Gandhi and the entire party as it begins preparations for equally important elections before the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.
 
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani won from Rajkot (West) with a huge margin of 53,755 votes over Indranil Rajyaguru of the Congress, the richest candidate in the elections, while Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel was leading by more than 8,000 votes over his nearest rival, Jivabhai Patel of the Congress in Mehsana. 
 
Gujarat BJP chief Jitendra Vaghani won from Bhavnagar West by a margin of 27185 votes against Dilipsinh Gohil of the Congress but his colleague and former Minister Jayanarayan Vyas lost to Chandanjit Thakor by 17260 votes in Sidhpur.
 
Senior Congress leaders Shaktisinh Gohil lost from Mandvi, Arjun Modhvadia from Porbandar and Siddharth Patel, son of former Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel, from Dabhoi.
 
Alpesh Thakor, the OBC leader who joined the Congress just ahead of the elections, won from Radhanpur, while Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani, who contested from Vadgam as an independent candidate with the support of the Congress, also sailed through.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, while the BJP scored a resounding win, its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost to Rajinder Rana of the Congress by 2933 votes in Sujanpur.
 
Outgoing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh won from Arki and his son Vikramaditya Singh emerged victorious from Shimla Rural.
 
Counting of votes began at 8 am in the two states and all the results are expected to be in by late this evening. The BJP took an early lead, but it had a scare for a brief while mid-morning when the Congress suddenly surged ahead before the ruling party before it regained its lead.
 
Polling was held for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly in two phases on December 9 and 14, while voting for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly was held on November 9.
 
In Gujarat, 68.41 percent of the 4.35 crore electorate had exercise their franchise in the two phases of polling. In the first phase of polling, 66.75 percent of the electors had voted in 89 constituencies in the Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat regions of the state. In the second round of polling, 69.99 percent of the voters had exercised their franchise in 93 constituencies of North and Central Gujarat.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, more than 74 percent of the 50.25 lakh voters had turned out to exercise their franchise.
 
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The elections are being seen as a crucial test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and the policies and programmes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre and in Gujarat.
 
The elections are also the first major challenge for Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who took over as the new president of his party on December 16.
 
An average of the results of the exit polls telecast by various television channels soon after polling ended in Gujarat on Thursday gave 111 seats to the ruling BJP and 70 to the Congress.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, where the Congress and the BJP have alternated in office every five years for a long time now, the exit polls gave 48 seats to the BJP in the 68-member House and 19 to the ruling Congress.
 
Mr. Modi and Mr. Gandhi led a galaxy of leaders from their respective parties in the often-bitter campaign, addressing scores of meetings in the two states.
 
While the BJP made every effort during the campaign to extend its 22-year reign in Gujarat, the Congress, which has been in the political wilderness in the state for more than two decades, made a determined bid to win this time, with Mr. Gandhi leading from the front.
 
The Congress was buoyed in its efforts in Gujarat by the support received from three popular youth leaders -- Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakore. While Mr. Thakore formally joined the party during the campaign and contested the election, Mr. Mewani was also in the fray as an independent candidate.
 
While the BJP has repeatedly said it would win at least 150 seats in Gujarat, a confident Mr. Gandhi asserted at a press conference in Ahmedabad last Tuesday that his party would score a big victory. 
 
In Himachal Pradesh, five-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, a veteran Congress leader, is seeking a second straight term in office in these elections. The BJP has named former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, as its chief ministerial nominee. Mr. Dhumal has served as Chief Minister twice in the past. 
 
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BJP leads in Gujarat, heads for comfortable win in Himachal Pradesh

The BJP had established a comfortable lead in Gujarat and was poised to wrest power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh as counting of votes progressed today in the crucial elections to the legislative assemblies of the two states, the results of which are expected to have a huge bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
BJP workers celebrate as party heads for wins in Gujarat, HP
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had established a comfortable lead in Gujarat and was poised to wrest power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh with a big win as counting of votes progressed today in the crucial elections to the legislative assemblies of the two states, which are expected to have a huge bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
In Gujarat, the BJP, which has been ruling the state for 22 years, was ahead in 99 of the 182 seats, while the Congress was leading in 71.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, where power has, in the last few decades, alternated between the two parties, the opposition BJP had surged ahead in 37 of the 68 seats, while the ruling Congress was leading in 22 constituencies.
 
The BJP had won 115 seats and the Congress 61 in the last Assembly elections in Gujarat in 2012, when the Chief Minister of the State was Mr. Narendra Modi, who went on to become the Prime Minister of the country in May, 2014.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress had won 36 of the 68 seats in the 2012 elections and the BJP 26.
 
Counting of votes began at 8 am in the two states and all the results are expected to be in by this evening.
 
Polling was held for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly in two phases on December 9 and 14, while voting for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly was held on November 9.
 
In Gujarat, 68.41 percent of the 4.35 crore electorate had exercise their franchise in the two phases of polling. In the first phase of polling, 66.75 percent of the electors had voted in 89 constituencies in the Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat regions of the state. In the second round of polling, 69.99 percent of the voters had exercised their franchise in 93 constituencies of North and Central Gujarat.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, more than 74 percent of the 50.25 lakh voters had turned out to exercise their franchise.
 
The elections are being seen as a crucial test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and the policies and programmes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre and in Gujarat.
 
The elections are also the first major challenge for Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who took over as the new president of his party on December 16.
 
An average of the results of the exit polls telecast by various television channels soon after polling ended in Gujarat on Thursday gave 111 seats to the ruling BJP, which has been ruling the state for 22 years, and 70 to the Congress.
 
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In Himachal Pradesh, where the Congress and the BJP have alternated in office every five years for a long time now, the exit polls gave 48 seats to the BJP in the 68-member House and 19 to the ruling Congress.
 
Mr. Modi and Mr. Gandhi led a galaxy of leaders from their respective parties in the often-bitter campaign, addressing scores of meetings in the two states.
 
While the BJP made every effort during the campaign to extend its 22-year reign in Gujarat, the Congress, which has been in the political wilderness in the state for more than two decades, made a determined bid to win this time, with Mr. Gandhi leading from the front.
 
The Congress was buoyed in its efforts in Gujarat by the support received from three popular youth leaders -- Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakore. While Mr. Thakore formally joined the party during the campaign and contested the election, Mr. Mewani was also in the fray as an independent candidate.
 
While the BJP has repeatedly said it would win at least 150 seats in Gujarat, a confident Mr. Gandhi asserted at a press conference in Ahmedabad last Tuesday that his party would score a big victory. 
 
In Himachal Pradesh, five-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, a veteran Congress leader, is seeking a second straight term in office in these elections. The BJP has named former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, as its chief ministerial nominee. Mr. Dhumal has served as Chief Minister twice in the past. 
 
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Counting of votes begins in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections

Counting of votes began on Monday morning in the crucial elections to the Legislative Assemblies of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the results of which are expected to have a major bearing on national politics in the run-up to the all-important Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
 
Counting of votes began this morning in the crucial elections to the Legislative Assemblies of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the results of which are expected to have a major bearing on national politics in the run-up to the all-important Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
 
Officials at counting centres across the two states began the process of counting of the votes at 8 am and all the results are expected to be out by this evening.
 
Polling was held for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly in two phases on December 9 and 14, while voting for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly was held on November 9.
 
In Gujarat, 68.41 percent of the 4.35 crore electorate had exercise their franchise in the two phases of polling. In the first phase of polling, 66.75 percent of the electors had voted in 89 constituencies in the Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat regions of the state. In the second round of polling, 69.99 percent of the voters had exercised their franchise in 93 constituencies of North and Central Gujarat.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, more than 74 percent of the 50.25 lakh voters had turned out to exercise their franchise.
 
The elections are being seen as a crucial test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and the policies and programmes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre and in Gujarat.
 
The elections are also the first major challenge for Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who took over as the new president of his party on December 16.
 
An average of the results of the exit polls telecast by various television channels soon after polling ended in Gujarat on Thursday gave 111 seats to the ruling BJP, which has been ruling the state for 22 years, and 70 to the Congress.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, where the Congress and the BJP have alternated in office every five years for a long time now, the exit polls gave 48 seats to the BJP in the 68-member House and 19 to the ruling Congress.
 
Mr. Modi and Mr. Gandhi led a galaxy of leaders from their respective parties in the often-bitter campaign, addressing scores of meetings in the two states.
 
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While the BJP made every effort during the campaign to extend its 22-year reign in Gujarat, the Congress, which has been in the political wilderness in the state for more than two decades, made a determined bid to win this time, with Mr. Gandhi leading from the front.
 
The Congress was buoyed in its efforts in Gujarat by the support received from three popular youth leaders -- Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakore. While Mr. Thakore formally joined the party during the campaign and contested the election, Mr. Mewani was also in the fray as an independent candidate.
 
While the BJP has repeatedly said it would win at least 150 seats in Gujarat, a confident Mr. Gandhi asserted at a press conference in Ahmedabad last Tuesday that his party would score a big victory. 
 
In Himachal Pradesh, five-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, a veteran Congress leader, is seeking a second straight term in office in these elections. The BJP has named former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, as its chief ministerial nominee. Mr. Dhumal has served as Chief Minister twice in the past. 
 
In the last elections, the Congress had won 36 seats and the BJP 27. 
 
Of the 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly, 17 are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and three for Scheduled Tribes (STs).
 
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