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Haryana

29 killed, 250 injured in violence after Panchkula court convicts Dera Sacha Sauda chief in rape case

At least 29 people were killed and more than 250 others suffered injuries as thousands of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh went on the rampage after he was convicted in a rape case by a special CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana on Friday.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
At least 29 people were killed and more than 250 others suffered injuries as thousands of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh went on the rampage after he was convicted in a rape case by a special CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana today.
 
The quantum of punishment for the 50-year-old self-styled godman will be pronounced on August 28. Meanwhile, he was taken into judicial custody and flown in a helicopter from Panchkula to Rohtak, where he was lodged in a special jail.
 
Police officials said 28 people had died in Panchkula, which bore the brunt of today's violence, several of them in police firing. There were clashes between Ram Rahim's supporters and the police in Sirsa, where the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters are located.
 
One person died and four people suffered injuries in police firing in Sirsa, where the situation remained tense, with large numbers of Ram Rahim's followers gathered inside the Dera headquarters.
 
The officials said the police had been able to clear the mobs off the streets in all other towns in Haryana.
 
About 60 policemen also suffered injuries in today's incidents, including two senior superintendents of police and one deputy superintendent of police, they said.
 
In Delhi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who returned during the day from a visit to Kyrgyz Republic, spoke to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and discussed the situation with them. Mr. Rajnath Singh assured them of all necessary assistance from the Centre.
 
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said he had talked to the Chief Secretary of Haryana who had told him that the situation was being brought under control. "The situation is tense but under control," he said, adding that the Centre was monitoring the situation continuously.
 
Thousands of Singh's supporters had gathered at different points in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana and Punjab and violence erupted shortly after news of his conviction came.
 
 
29 dead as Dera followers bring Panchkula to its knees
In Panchkula, scores of vehicles, including fire tenders, outdoor broadcast vans of television news channels and two-wheelers were set ablaze. The mobs also attacked some government property. Police used teargas, lathi-charges, pellet guns and finally resorted to firing to disperse the mobs.
 
A former follower of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had accused him of repeatedly raping her inside the Dera campus near Sirsa in Haryana in 1999. The first information report in the case had been filed in 2002.
 
The mobs targetted media vehicles and attacked some journalists reporting from the scene.
 
Incidents of violence were also reported from various other places in Haryana as well as Punjab, Rajasthan and Delhi.
 
In Delhi, some buses in Jahangirpuri and other localities and two coaches of a train parked in the railway yard at Anand Vihar were partially burnt after they were set on fire by miscreants. Police said reinforcements had been rushed to all affected and patrolling had been stepped up all across the city. The situation was under control, they added.
 
Though thousands of policemen had been deployed in Panchkula and elsewhere in Haryana to prevent any untoward incident, they were unable cope with the wave of violence that started after the verdict was pronounced. Police used teargas shells to try and disperse the mobs. Curfew was imposed in some towns of Punjab.
 
Television pictures showed ambulances bringing scores of injured persons to the government hospital there.
 
The Railways had, as a precautionary measure, cancelled some 300 mail, express and passenger trains passing through  Haryana in the past few days.
 
The Centre had sent several companies of central armed police forces to Haryana at the request of the state government and the Army's assistance had been sought at some places.
 
Mr. Khattar urged people to stay calm and maintain peace. He said strict action would be taken against those who disturb the peace and took law into their own hands.
 
In Gurgaon, near here, the police staged a flag march which passed through Kherki Daula, IMT Manesar, Bilaspur, sohna, Bhondsi and Badshapur as a precautionary measure.
 
"A close watch is being kept on the anti-social elements and miscreants who try to take advantages of such situation," a press release from Gurgaon Police said.
 
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the "instances of violences" were "deeply distressing". He said he strongly condemned the violence and urged everyone to maintain peace.
 
"The instances of violence today are deeply distressing. I strongly condemn the violence & urge everyone to maintain peace," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"The law & order situation is being closely monitored. I reviewed the situation with the NSA & Home Secretary," he said.
 
"Urged officials to work round the clock to restore normalcy and provide all possible assistance that is required," he added.
 
In Delhi, the police has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, banning the assembly of five or more persons, as a precautionary measure in 11 districts, including New Delhi.
 
"Adequate police arrangements in place & Law & Order situation under control. Officers with reserve force on rounds to maintain peace," the Commissioner of Police said on Twitter.
 
"Appeal to all to maintain peace & order. #DelhiPolice on full alert. Strict legal action will be taken against miscreants for any violation," he added.
 
Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded the resignation of Mr. Khattar and urged the Prime Minister to put the interests and safety of Indians before his party's interests.
 
Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed grave concern and shock at the violence.
 
Ms. Gandhi spoke to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh about the situation. She urged the Governments of Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh to ensure the safety and security of citizens. She also appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony.
 
"Violence & brutality have no place in our society. Condemn the rampage and lawlessness in Haryana & appeal to restore peace and tranquility," Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter.
 
Mr. Amarinder Singh appealed to the people of Punjab to maintain peace and harmony. "We won't allow anyone to disturb the peace and tranquility of our state," he added.
 
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Rahul Gandhi blames Haryana govt. for Dalit killings in Faridabad

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday visited Sunped village in Haryana, where two children died and their parents suffered injuries in an arson attack on ther house on Tuesday, and blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state for the killings.
 
Rahul Gandhi says visit to Faridabad village no photo op
 
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today visited Sunped village in Haryana, where two children died and their parents suffered injuries in an arson attack on ther house on Tuesday, and blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state for the killings.
 
"Today, in India, those who are weak, those who are poor are facing such atrocities," he told newspersons after meeting the father of the children, Jitender, and other members of the family.
 
"They asked me, 'What was our fault, what wrong did we commit?'" he said.
 
"They did not commit any mistake. They are poor and weak and that is why they were attacked," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said that he was told that a group of people had met administration officials to convey their fears. The officials told them to go back to their homes because no one had actually died, he said.
 
"It is the Chief Minister's responsibility to protect the people of the state. Different incidents are happening, in Haryana and elsewhere around the country," he said, calling for strict action against those responsible for the attack as well as the policemen who were negligent in their duties. He said the family of the victims wanted a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
 
"The truth is that this is not a government of the poor and the weak. I have offered all possible help to the family. Whatever they need, they just have to ask," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said these incidents were the result of an "attitude" that is shared by the Prime Minister of the country, the Chief Minister of Haryana, the ruling BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), its ideological mentor.
 
"The attitude is that if somebody is weak, he can be crushed," he said. "What you are seeing is the result of this attitude."
 
"We don't want such incidents to happen, and we will fight to ensure this," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi reacted angrily when a reporter asked him about the BJP accusation that his visit was just a "photo op".
 
"It's insulting when someone says that when someone comes here. It's not insulting to me, but it's insulting these people. What do you men by 'photo op'? People are dying left, right and centre in this country. People are being beaten up in this country. What do you mean that it is just a photo op?" he asked.
 
"Absolutely, I will visit. I will visit again, again, and again," he added.
 
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Jitender's wife Rekha, four-year-old son Vaibhav and eight-month-old daughter Divya suffered burns in the attack. The children succumbed to their injuries yesterday, while their mother is battling for survival in a hospital. Jitender also suffered minor injuries while trying to save his family, souces said.
 
Angry villagers blocked the busy Faridabad-Mathura highway in protest against the incident and demanded the immediate arrest of those named in the police complaint. 
 
Seven policemen, including those tasked to guard the village, have been suspended by the authorities for alleged negligence. Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident.
 
Apart from Mr. Gandhi, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat, former Union Minister and Haryana Congress leader Kumari Selja, Haryana Janhit Congress (Bhajan Lal) leader Kuldeep Bishnoi and National Commission for Scheduled Castes member Ishwar Singh visited the village to meet the bereaved family.
 
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Modi "deeply concerned", asks for report on Nadia nun's gang-rape, Hisar church attack

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
 
"PM is deeply concerned about the incidents in Hisar, Haryana and Nadia, West Bengal," the Prime MInister's Office (PMO) said on micro-blogging site Twitter today.
 
"PMO has asked for immediate report on facts & action taken regarding the incidents in Haryana and West Bengal," it added.
 
A 71-year-old nun was allegedly gang-raped by dacoits at a convent in Nadia district in the early hours of Saturday. The incident has triggered protests in West Bengal and the state government has ordered a probe by the CID in the case.
 
In the second incident, a church under construction at Kaimri village near Hisar in Haryana was vandalised by a group of people on Sunday.
 
Both the incidents have evoked widespread condemnation across the country, with the Christian community expressing serious concern about the safety of churches and other institutions.
 
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BJP leader Manohar Lal Khattar to be sworn in as Haryana CM on Sunday

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manohar Lal Khattar, a first-time member of the legislative assembly and former "pracharak" of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, will be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Haryana later on Sunday.
Manoharlal Khattar
Manoharlal Khattar
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manohar Lal Khattar, a first-time member of the legislative assembly and former "pracharak" of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), will be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Haryana later today.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony that will be held at Panchkula near here.
 
BJP president Amit Shah, former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states are also expected to be present at the function.
 
Mr Khattar, 60, was elected as a member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly from Karnal, winning his maiden election with a margin of more than 63,000 votes.
 
The elections, held on October 15, saw the BJP capturing power for the first time in the state, winning 47 seats in the 90-member house. 
 
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) of former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala came in second with 19 seats, while the Congress, which ruled the state for the last 10 years, had to rest content with third place, with 15 seats.
 
The Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) won two seats and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) one seat each. Independents won five seats.
 
Mr Khattar had been unanimously elected as the leader of the BJP Legislature Party by the party's newly-elected legislators here on October 21.
 
Later, senior BJP leader and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who was sent here as the party's Central observer for that meeting, accompanied Mr Khattar to call on Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki to apprise him of the party's decision.
 
Mr Solanki invited Mr Khattar to form the new government in the state. 
 
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Mr Khattar was born on May 5, 1954, in Nigana village of Maham tehsil in Rohtak district. His father Harbans Lal Khattar was a Punjabi shopkeeper who had migrated to India during the 1947 Partition.
 
After passing out of school, he moved to Delhi, where he ran a shop near Sadar Bazar while studying for a degree from the University of Delhi.
 
Mr Khattar joined the RSS in 1977 and became a full-time pracharak three years later. In 1994, he was deputed to the BJP. He was Organisational General Secretary of the BJP in Haryana between 2000 and 2014 and was the head of its campaign election committee in Haryana for the recent Lok Sabha elections. He was later made a member of the BJP's National Executive. He is a bachelor.
 
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ED questions former Haryana CM Hooda in land scam case

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Former Haryana Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Wednesday deposed before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Gurugram land scam case.
 
A senior ED official wishing not to be named said that Hooda is being questioned under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with the case.
 
He said the agency had registered a case against Hooda on the basis of the CBI first information report (FIR) filed in January this year.
 
In January 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a case against Hooda, senior bureaucrats and prominent builders for alleged cheating and forgery. The matter pertains to the sale of 95 per cent of 1,400 acres in Gurugram (sectors 58 to 63 and sectors 65 to 66) to private builders.
 
Hooda is also being investigated in another money laundering case involving Associate Journals Limited (AJL) for alleged irregularities in allotting land when he was Chief Minister.
 
The money laundering case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the re-allotment of a plot, located in Panchkula, to AJL by the then Hooda government.
 
The AJL is controlled by senior Congress leaders, including members of the Gandhi family. The group runs the National Herald newspaper.
 
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NCP youth leaders 'rescue' 4 missing MLAs from Haryana

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In a huge relief to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), four of its "missing" legislators were "rescued" from a hotel in Haryana's Gurugram, a party office-bearer said here on Monday.
 
The legislators are Narhari Zirwal (Dindori), Anil Patil (Amalner), Daulat Daroda (Shahapur), Babasaheb Patil (Ahmadpur) and a fourth whose identity is not yet available.
 
"The daring rescue operation was carried out by our local NCP leaders Dhiraj Sharma and Sonia Duhana They found that our legislators had been trapped in a hotel there, and got into the act. They have been brought back to Mumbai before the trust vote in the legislature," NCP National Spokesperson Nawab Malik told IANS.
 
Sharma said that the four wanted to stay with Sharad Pawar and take part in the Maharashtra assembly proceedings due to begin this week in Mumbai after the sensational political developments since Saturday.
 
However, state party leaders say it is not yet clear how the four MLAs landed in Haryana, who took them or when, but all this would be thoroughly enquired by the party.
 
With this, the NCP now claims it has the support of around 52 of the total 54 legislators, as the party gears up to tackle the challenge of forming the government with Shiv Sena and Congress.
 
Earlier today, the three parties submitted a letter with at least 160 signatures addressed to Governor B.S. Koshyari, staking claim to form the government since it had the majority.
 
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CBI raids multiple locations in Manipur, Mizoram, Haryana

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday carried out searches at nine locations in Manipur, Mizoram and Haryana in connection with its probe into misappropriation of government funds.
 
A senior CBI officer said here that several teams of the central probe agency were carrying out searches at nine locations including Aizawl, Imphal, and Gurgaon in the case of misappropriation of government funds.
 
The officer did not reveal the names of the people whose premises were raided by the CBI.
 
The CBI has registered a case against former Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh, who was the then Chairman of Manipur Development Society (MDS), Y. Ningthem Singh, former Project Director of MDS, D. S. Poonia, IAS (Retd), the then Chairman of MDS, P. C. Lawmuknga, IAS (Retd), the then Chairman of MDS, O. Nabakishore Singh, IAS (Retd), S. Ranjit Singh, Administrative Officer, MDS and others on the request of Manipur government and further notification from the central government.
 
The CBI said it was alleged that the accused while working as Chairman of Manipur Development Society from June 30, 2006 to July 2017, in conspiracy with others, misappropriated government funds to the tune of Rs 332 crore out of the total amount of Rs 518 crore which was entrusted to them for the purpose of executing works.
 
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Golf: Thailand's Itthipat leads, four Indians in joint 3rd place at Panasonic Open India

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The Indian foursome of Shiv Kapur, Arjun Prasad, M Dharma and Shankar Das carded identical of five-under 67 and were three shots behind clubhouse leader Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat on the first day of the ninth edition of the $400,000 Panasonic Open India here on Thursday.
 
Twenty-six--year-old Itthipat fired an opening round eight-under-par 64, with seven birdies and an eagle against one bogey during his eight-under 64.
 
His 64 was followed by a 66 from Indonesian Danny Masrin and they were followed by the four Indians along with Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao.
 
The trio of American Ben Geyer, Sri Lankan veteran Anura Rohana and Singaporean Jesse Yap, rounded off the Top 10 with cards of 68 each.
 
The round began at 11 am, four hours and 10 minutes behind schedule, due to poor visibility and the weather conditions. The 60 golfers in the first session of play completed their rounds while the 66 golfers in the second session will play their first round on Friday.
 
2017 winner Shiv Kapur  returned a bogey-free 67. He birdied three of his first four holes adding two more birdies to his card on the sixth and 10th.
 
“I started off playing really well, Thought I played quite solid all day but I did not take advantage of the par 5s as I should have which was disappointing, Only birdied one of them and missed a couple of easy opportunities on the third hole and ninth here I was on the front edge of the green both times," Kapur said after his round.
 
“All in all, I’m pleased with the start, five-under is a solid start but given the way I played and the positions I put myself into, should have been a couple of shots lower, but all in all, it was a good day."
 
The 20-year-old Arjun Prasad was satisfied to have shot a low number after a long time.He  got on a roll from the ninth hole onward as he sank four birdies on the trot. The best of the lot was the birdie on the 10th where he hit a  shot from the fairway bunker, 130 yards out, to land it within a couple of feet of the flag. He thereafter picked up a bogey and a birdie each.
 
“Even though it’s not been a good season for me I know I have the game and still have the self-belief to turn it around. As I struggled with my game, I recently decided to change my approach during practice. I’m now playing more practice rounds and spending lesser time at the range as compared to what I was doing earlier," Prasad said 
 
M Dharma and Shankar Das too struck bogey-free rounds of 67. While Dharma missed a hole-in-one by a whisker on the 17th, Shankar landed it close through the day to set up four birdie conversions within four feet.
 
 Veteran Arjun Atwal made a promising start with a 69 to be tied 11th along with compatriots Viraj Madappa and Aadil Bedi. Jeev Milkha Singh  shot two-under 70 to be  tied 20th along with Om Prakash Chouhan and Gaurav Pratap Singh.  
 
Jyoti Randhawa, celebrating his 300th start on the Asian Tour, shot a 72 to be tied 33rd.
 
“Today was one of those rare occasions where we played in a four-tee start. I think the only other time when I played like this was during an ADT event. But it was okay. I just needed to wear a mask and apart from that, it was business as usual. There was a long wait and it was almost after four hours that I got to tee off,” leader Itthipat said,
 
Itthipat, who turned pro in 2014 revealed, “I fell asleep once during that wait. I couldn’t really see where the ball was beyond 250 yards as I’m short-sighted so I had to rely on my caddie’s advice. But overall, it was okay. I managed to play well despite everything and I’m very proud of myself.”
 
The score was still short of the course of record of 62, shot three times in the 2009 SAIL Open – twice by Chapchai Nirat and once by Anirban Lahiri.
 
Masrin, who like Itthipat started on the sixth, said, “It’s not usual to start my round in the middle of the golf course and I just take it as it is because I know the tournament organisers have to do whatever they can to get the tournament going. It turned out to be alright as I birdied that first hole and hit some good iron shots today. I managed to judge the rough pretty well today and made a few putts. The weather conditions didn’t really play up too much on my mind. It is what it is and I just played one shot at a time. We are in this together and trying to see where our balls end up.”
 
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Golf: Will Khalin Joshi be able to break the jinx at Panasonic Open India

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Will Khalin Joshi be able to break the jinx?
 
This is the big question being asked as no player has won the Panasonic Open India more than once and Khalin Joshi is the defending champion.
 
Joshi, who had a series of Top-10s before grabbing his first win at the Panasonic Open India, will be hoping to buck the trend and become the first repeat winner. A bunch of talented Indians from Shiv Kapur to Khalin Joshi, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Rashid Khan, Viraj Madappa, S Chikkrangappa, Aadil Bedi among others could lift that lovely trophy besides winning the Blue Jacket, that has become the tradition for winners of Panasonic Open India.
 
Joshi  will try to extend his lease on the title  among the select band to try and do it for the first time, when the event tees off at a new venue.  The $400,000 full-field Asian Tour event will be played from November 14-17 at the Classic Golf and Country Club here for the first time. The previous editions were held at the Delhi Golf Club.
 
The 2019 edition will see five of the eight previous winners return to the event with Joshi leading the way and Shiv Kapur, Mukesh Kumar, Chiragh Kumar and Digvijay Singh giving him company in the winners’ gallery.
 
Players from as many as 17 countries have entered for the event, which has become well-known for producing Indian winners. Seven of the eight winners going back to 2011 have been Indian, but no one has been able to repeat the success.
 
The international challenge will be led by Asian Tour winners like Rory Hie of Indonesia, who won the Classic Golf & Country Club Championship at the same course in September, Thais Suradit Yongcharoenchai, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit, Prom Meesawat and Danthai Boonma, Argentine Miguel Carballo, Filipino Miguel Tabuena and Australian Jason Norris, among others.
 
Another highlight of the event will be the presence of India’s ‘Big Three’ Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa, all of them now senior professionals. Between them they have won titles on every major Tour of the world, ranging from US PGA to European, Asian and Japan Tours. They have been the standard torchbearers of Indian golf for more than two decades and they, more than anyone else, would be pleased to see the revolution in Indian professional golf. It was they, after all, who set the wheels in motion.
 
The generation next to them now being led by Shiv Kapur, Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shubhankar Sharma, ply their trade on Asian, European and PGA Tours. And they, in turn, have inspired the current crop including Ajeetesh Sandhu, Khalin Joshi, Rashid Khan and many others.
 
An excited Joshi says, “It’s going to be exciting defending my first Asian Tour title. I like the golf course and my game is getting more positive and I’m confident. The win is still very fresh on my mind. I putted and drove the ball really well that week. There are positive signs now as I’m getting those similar feelings like last year. I just got to just block out unnecessary thoughts like I’m the defending champion and just play my own game.”
 
Joshi produced a dramatic finish when he fired four birdies in his closing five holes to sign for a four-under-par 68 and clinched his maiden Asian Tour title by one shot over Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman, who finished runner-up for the third time. “The Classic Golf and Country Club is a lovely course and it’s not very long. But it demands good driving and good putting as well. If you can put the ball on the fairway and putt well, you’re going to be up there on the leaderboard for sure,” said Joshi.
 
Joshi has not been as steady as he was a year ago, with his best finish this season being a tied-19th result in Chinese Taipei last month. “I have not enjoyed a great season so far, but I hope to play well every week and put myself in a good position so that I can put myself in a winning situation again,” said Joshi.
 
"The win last year at the Panasonic Open obviously helped me. I have been to every event this year but haven't really capitalised on all the opportunities, but looking forward to starting it from this week. The game is feeling good so looking forward to having a good week and finishing the year on a high.
 
"I have played well on this golf course throughout my career -- be it junior, amateur or professional, so I have good memories of this course. I really like the track so I'm looking forward to gaining some confidence. Overall this course really suits my game," the defending champion said.
 
With the 2019 season nearing its end, Indian golfers collectively need to ensure that their amazing streak of having won at least one international professional title is maintained. After six wins, including one on the Asian Development Tour, Indians have not won any in 2019.
 
Indians have also been formidable on home turf – their seven wins in eight stagings of the Panasonic being a solid proof of that – but the two events held earlier this year in India have not produced an Indian winner. Rashid Khan at T-10 with S Chikkarangappa at the Hero Indian Open, and Rashid again at second, was the best Indian in both the events held in India this year. With a strong Indian presence in the full field event, local fans will be hoping for another home win and that could well come from one of the new faces waiting for their breakthrough on the Asian Tour.
 
Another title contender Gaganjeet Bhullar also exuded confidence about  performing well. "I've never won so far in India and last year was really good when I got my first European Tour win in Fiji," he said, adding, "This year I started off really well but the second half of the European Tour was not as good as I was expecting. But right now I'm feeling good, the body is feeling good and I'm hitting the ball well. 
 
"I'm playing on this golf course after a gap of ten years. Last time I played here, I shot 22-under and I lost the tournament by ten shots. It is a great golf course and I'm feeling confident to play well this week."
 
Shiv Kapur, the other hopeful, admitted that he had a lacklustre season thus far. "Last week, was at a golf course where I've had success in the past. Two years ago Gaganjeet and I tied for second place there and obviously I had my first Asian Tour win there. So anytime you go to a golf course where you've had some success, it gives you a lot of confidence. And hopefully, I can carry that confidence that I gained last week into this week. It was obviously disappointing not to win, but standing on the 14th tee in the final round, I was five or six shots back. So, didn't really think I had a shot. So to even get into the playoff was a bonus."
 
Indonesian Rory Hie said, "I feel I have been learning a lot since my win here. I have got into events that I normally wouldn't have gone into without the win and getting to play with good golfers and good courses. The course is definitely playing differently than six weeks ago. You can now actually see the ball from fifty yards out and it seems to be a really good condition."
 
The Panasonic Open India is the second leg in the third edition of the Asian Tour’s 2019-20 Panasonic Swing, which is a ranking based on an aggregate points race that spans five events with the final top-three players chasing a share of a lucrative bonus pool.
 
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Golf: Joshi bidding to create history at Panasonic Open India

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Khalin Joshi will make a determined bid to become the first player to defend his title when the ninth edition of the $400,000 Panasonic Open India is held at the Classic Golf and Country Club from November 14-17.
 
So far no defending champion has been able to repeat the feat since the tournament started in 2011 but Joshi is hoping to be the first to do that.
 
“It’s going to be exciting defending my first Asian Tour title. I like the golf course and my game is getting more positive and I’m confident.
 
“The win is still very fresh on my mind. I putted and drove the ball really well that week. There are positive signs now as I’m getting those similar feelings like last year. I just got to just block out unnecessary thoughts like I’m the defending champion and just play my own game,” said Joshi.
 
Last year, Joshi produced a dramatic finish when he fired four birdies in his closing five holes to sign for a four-under-par 68 and clinch his maiden Asian Tour title by one shot over Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman.
 
 “The Classic Golf and Country Club is a lovely course and it’s not very long. But it demands good driving and good putting as well. If you can put the ball on the fairway and putt well, you’re going to be up there (leaderboard) for sure.
 
As the 2019 Asian Tour season nears its climax, the Indian hopes to end his year on a high note having struggled to reach the heights of 2018 where his best finish this season was only a tied-19th result in Chinese Taipei last month.
 
“I have not enjoyed a great season so far, but I hope to play well every week and put myself in a good position so that I can put myself in a winning situation again,” said Joshi.
 
The Panasonic Open India will also kick off the third edition of the Asian Tour’s 2019/20 Panasonic Swing, which is a ranking based on an aggregate points race that spans five events with the final top-three players chasing a share of a lucrative bonus pool.
 
Golfers from  16 countries, will be seen in action in this full-field Asian Tour event, making it an international event.
 
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10 hurt as double-decker bus overturns near Manesar

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As many as 10 passengers were injured after a double-decker bus overturned on the Jaipur-Delhi National Highway near Manesar on Thursday.
 
According to eyewitnesses, the Gold Line double-decker bus, on its way to Delhi from Jaipur, lost control at a sharp turn around 5 p.m. It jumped the divider and overturned on the other side of the road. The bus was moving at more than 80 kmph speed.
 
A Gurugram Police officer said the bus was carrying over 25 passengers. Of them, 4 suffered serious injuries. The locals broke the windshield to rescue injured passengers before the PCR reached.
 
Subhash Bokan, PRO of the Gurugram Police, said, "The investigation is underway and the accused driver will be arrested soon."
 
IANS

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Delhi chokes: PM's Principal Secretary holds emergency meet

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The Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister has reviewed the grave situation of severe air pollution in Delhi, its adjoining National Capital Region (NCR) and other parts of North India on Sunday.
 
P. K. Mishra, on Sunday, reviewed at a high-level meeting the situation arising out of the severe air pollution. Senior officials from the States of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi -- the three states most affected, joined the meeting through video conferencing.
 
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba will monitor the situation with these States on a daily basis and instruct necessary action to facilitate better coordination. The three states are ruled by different political parties which resulted in a lot of politicking and blame game.
 
Chief Secretaries of these States have been asked to monitor the situation right at the district level in their respective States, on a 24x7 basis.
 
This is the first of its kind emergency intervention that has taken place this season with unprecedented air pollution which hovered over 625 AQI in over all Delhi on Sunday and hitting the 999-mark at parts of the national capital like Bawana. The capital woke up to thick layers of smog and near-zero visibility that forced diversion of many flights to Delhi airport on Sunday.
 
Interestingly, the much needed move came on a day the Aam Aadmi Party held a press conference demanding an answer from the union environment minister Prakash Javadekar in the "next one hour" on when he intends to convene an emergency meeting of state environment ministers of North Indian states.
 
The move also comes in the backdrop of Punjab Chief Minister  Amarinder Singh writing to the Prime Minister on Saturday, asking him to intervene.
 
IANS

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Punjab, Haryana farmers caught in vicious time-cycle web

File photo of paddy stubble on  the outskirts of Amritsar, Punjab (IANS)
File photo of paddy stubble on the outskirts of Amritsar, Punjab (IANS)
Farmers in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, that are considered the granaries of India, are forced to burn paddy residue in the open owing to lack of technology for its management and no cash incentive to dispose it off scientifically, believe agricultural experts.
 
But citing helplessness in terms of burning being the only way, the governments are blaming one another for failure to check the stubble burning.
 
The farmers are caught in a vicious time-cycle as they have to harvest rice from mid-October to mid-November each year and cultivate wheat in a space of 10-15 days.
 
"Rice straw is not used for fodder, so we have to dispose it off after every harvest. Since the government is not coming up with any cash incentives, most of the farmers prefer to burn it despite the ban," Ajaib Singh, a 65-year-old farmer who owns 10 hectares on the outskirts of Punjab's Khanna town, the biggest grain market in Asia, said.
 
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has been seeking cost compensation of Rs 100 per quintal of paddy from the Centre to motivate the farmers against the burning of residue in the fields.
 
A sum of Rs 100 per quintal of paddy should be given to farmers so that they can arrange to manage the stubble without resorting to its open burning by using the compensation money to meet the paddy straw management cost, the Chief Minister said in his letter to the Prime Minister on September 25.
 
Agriculture officials told IANS that, every year after post-paddy harvest, Punjab faces the challenge of managing nearly 20 million tonne of paddy straw.
 
Going by estimates, about 85-90 per cent of this paddy straw is burnt in the fields.
 
On its part, the state is doing all it can to check the problem of stubble burning by providing around 28,000 paddy straw management machines to the farmers last year on subsidy ranging from 50 to 80 per cent.
 
Another 26,000 machines would be supplied to them this year, in addition to vigorous campaigns at the grassroots to sensitize farmers against stubble burning, and its ill effects on environment and human health.
 
The situation is a far cry as a majority of farmers struggle for survival in Punjab and Haryana.
 
There is an additional cost of using the machines, that is between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 per acre, which the farmers can not afford.
 
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday directed authorities to apprise the farmers about options for the management of crop residue to conserve the environment.
 
Thirty-four per cent decline of field fires has been registered in Haryana till October 22 compared to the corresponding period in last year.
 
Last year, crop residue burning was reported on 57,000 hectares compared to only about 38,000 hectares this year.
 
Khattar directed officers of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Department to visit top 10 villages of the state where the maximum crop residue burning have been reported to ascertain the reason behind the activity.
 
He announced a cash incentive of Rs 1,000 to those who provide information about the stubble burning and the identity of that person would be kept secret, apart from exploring possibilities of utilization of residue in sugar mills for power generation.
 
Terming the AAP's protest against stubble-burning in the national capital an obvious political stunt with an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections there, the Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder lashed out at his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal over his "brazen lies on the grave issue of air pollution".
 
"The air pollution in the capital was directly related to the rampant construction activity, widespread industrialisation and total mismanagement of the city traffic," he said, hitting out at Kejriwal for "trying desperately to divert public attention from his own government's failures by indulging in such outright lies".
 
"By blaming others for his own lapses, Kejriwal was showing signs of his poor leadership," Amarinder Singh said.
 
Kejriwal's claim that "stubble burning in neighbouring states was responsible for the horrendous situation in Delhi was absolutely ludicrous", especially considering that the number of farm fires in Punjab had actually been the same as last year, he said.
 
If stubble burning is the primary cause of Delhi's air pollution, as Kejriwal claims, then how can he explain the atrociously high AQI (air quality index) in the national capital even during December and January, Amarinder Singh asked.
 
Taking a jibe, six-time BJP legislator and former state Health Minister Anil Vij asked Kejriwal that he should find causes of air pollution in Delhi itself instead of blaming the neighbouring states.
 
"When there is no burning of stubble, at that time why the pollution level of Delhi is alarmingly high," he said, adding Kejriwal should look into the causes of pollution in Delhi itself rather than blaming farmers of Haryana and Punjab.
 
"This is the style of Kejriwal's politics that he blames the entire world for everything," added Vij, who is quite popular with his action-oriented style of functioning and for his no-holds barred comments, including on his own government and colleagues.
 
IANS

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Khattar takes oath as Haryana CM for second term

Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Haryana where the BJP formed a government, the state's first non-Congress government at the helm for a second consecutive term.
Manohar Lal Khattar (File photo: IANS)
Manohar Lal Khattar (File photo: IANS)
Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Haryana where the BJP formed a government, the state's first non-Congress government at the helm for a second consecutive term.
 
The saffron party formed the government in alliance with the newly formed Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) led by Dushyant Chautala, who took oath as Deputy Chief Minister.
 
Khattar, 65, will be heading the second Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of the state, which was formed on November 1, 1966.
 
A low-profile organisational man with an active RSS background, Khattar was chosen by the newly elected BJP legislators as their leader at a meeting here on Saturday.
 
"My government will be transparent," Khattar told the media ahead of taking the oath.
 
Five-time Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, whose party Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD) had an alliance with BJP's rival Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) during the assembly elections despite being an NDA partner, attended the ceremony along with son and Member of Parliament Sukhbir Badal.
 
Earlier, the BJP, which won 40 seats and was six short of a majority in the 90-member Assembly, announced an alliance with the JJP led by Dushyant Chautala, a great grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.
 
IANS

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Priyanka flays govt over furlough to Chautala after BJP-JJP deal

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Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday took a pot shot at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government over the release of Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Chautala's father Ajay Chautala from Tihar Jail on a two-week furlough, saying the "system to clean corruption charges are on".
 
"System to clean corruption charges are on," Priyanka Gandhi tweeted in Marathi, targeting the BJP over the grant of furlough to Ajay Chautala, a day after his son clinched a deal with the BJP to form government in Haryana.
 
Dushyant clinched the deal after meeting BJP President Amit Shah at his residence on Friday night. As per the deal, the JJP, which won 10 seats in the 90-member Assembly, will have a Deputy Chief Minister in the new government.
 
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Chandigarh the BJP would form the new government in Haryana with the JJP and the independent MLAs.
 
In February 2013, former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, his son Ajay Chautala and three government officials were sentenced to 10 years in prison by a special CBI court on charges of illegally recruiting over 3,000 teachers by using forged documents.
 
The scam came to light after a 1989 batch IAS officer Sanjeev Kumar filed a writ in the Supreme Court alleging that the O.P. Chautala government had resorted to corrupt practices to recruit 3,208 junior basic trained teachers in 2000.
 
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Ajay Chautala given furlough for 2 weeks

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A day after Dushyant Chautala clinched an alliance with Manohar Lal Khattar to form the new government in Haryana, his father Ajay Chautala, who has been lodged in Tihar Jail in a corruption case, was given furlough for two weeks.
 
Sandeep Goel, the Director General of Tihar Prisons, told IANS: "We have given two weeks furlough to the convict Ajay Chautala. He had applied for the furlough a few days ago to attend a ritual to be held in remembrance of his mother's death."
 
Goel added that this was the second time that Ajay Chautala had applied for a furlough. Earlier this year, he had gone for a three-week furlough.
 
A convict is entitled to seven weeks of furlough in a year. The Director General of Tihar Prisons is the final authority to grant it to the convicts.
 
However, it was reported that Ajay Chautala wants to attend his son Dushyant's swearing-in ceremony as Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana.
 
The Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) clinched an alliance yesterday with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a new government in Haryana.
 
The JJP, which has won 10 seats in the 90-member Assembly, has reached a deal with the BJP to form the government in the state wherein the Chief Minister will be from the BJP, while the post of Deputy Chief Minister will go to JJP.
 
The coalition was announced by BJP president Amit Shah at a press conference held with JJP leader Dushyant Chautala on Friday.
 
In February 2013, former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, his MLA son Ajay Chautala and three government officials were sentenced to 10 years in prison by a special CBI court on charges of illegally recruiting over 3,000 teachers in the state by using forged documents.
 
The scam came to light after a 1989 batch IAS officer Sanjeev Kumar had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court alleging that the Om Prakash Chautala government had resorted to corrupt practices to recruit 3208 junior basic trained teachers in 2000.
 
IANS
 

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Khattar to take oath as CM on Sunday, Dushyant his deputy

BJP leader Manohar Lal Khattar and Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leader Dushyant Chautala will take oath as the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Haryana on Sunday.
Manohar Lal Khattar (File photo: IANS)
Manohar Lal Khattar (File photo: IANS)
BJP leader Manohar Lal Khattar and Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leader Dushyant Chautala will take oath as the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Haryana on Sunday.
 
The swearing-in ceremony will be held at Raj Bhavan here at 2.15 p.m.
 
"We have staked claim to form government in Haryana. The Governor has accepted our proposal and invited us (to form the government)," Chief Minister-designate Khattar told the media.
 
He said he has tendered his resignation which has been accepted.
 
"Tomorrow at 2.15 p.m. oath-taking ceremony will be held at Raj Bhavan. Dushyant Chautala will take oath as Deputy CM," he added.
 
Dushyant was present along with Khattar when he met Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya to stake the claim for the government formation. Seven independent legislators were also present there.
 
His father Ajay Chautala, who is lodged in Tihar Jail for conviction in a teacher recruitment scam, was granted furlough of two weeks on Saturday. He is to attend the oath-taking ceremony.
 
At his furlough, Dushyant said: "Can't my father celebrate Diwali with his family."
 
BJP, which won 40 seats and was six short of a majority in the 90-member Assembly, announced an alliance with the JJP led by Dushyant Chautala, a great grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, on Friday evening.
 
Earlier, Khattar was unanimously elected as leader of the BJP Legislature Party at a meeting here.
 
His name was proposed by legislator Anil Vij and seconded by the rest of the 38 legislators.
 
Khattar arrived here from New Delhi on Saturday morning to attend the BJP Legislature Party meeting, which was attended by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and BJP General Secretary Arun Singh.
 
Prasad told the media that since the BJP is the single largest party, it would meet the Governor and stake claim to form the government.
 
On the post of Deputy Chief Minister, Prasad clarified that there would be only one.
 
"It will be the prerogative of the Chief Minister to take a decision on the formation of the Cabinet and its composition," he replied to another media query.
 
The Union Minister, who was here as a party observer, also clarified the party would not be taking any support from Haryana Lokhit Party MLA Goyal Kanda.
 
He said the government is going to form the government with the support of the JJP, which has 10 legislators, and all seven Independents.
 
"All are united," he said, adding the BJP would give clean and stable government and this is "our assurance to the people of Haryana".
 
Khattar said all 40 MLAs of the BJP have unanimously elected him as their leader.
 
"I thank all of them and the people of Haryana. I would like to assure them as well as all those friends who are supporting us that I shall take all of them along for the next five years and all of us shall work together for the betterment and upliftment of our state of Haryana," Khattar said.
 
On Thursday, after the announcement of the results of Haryana Assembly elections, in which the BJP fell short by six seats from the magical figure of 46 needed for a majority, the businessman-turned-politician extended unconditional support to the BJP for forming the state government.
 
There were also reports of the BJP's top leaders meeting Kanda. However, the party had to back track in the face of massive criticism as Kanda is accused of abetting to suicide Geetika Sharma, an air hostess with his now-defunct MDLR airlines.
 
Geetika, 23, committed suicide in 2012 alleging harassment by Kanda and one of his aides, and her mother, Anuradha, also killed herself a few months later apparently unable to bear the loss of her daughter.
 
Kanda was then a minister in the Congress-led Haryana government. He remained in jail for a year and a half and was granted bail in March 2014, and the charge of rape was dropped by the Delhi High Court.
 
He later formed the Haryana Lokhit Party, on a ticket of which he has won the Assembly election from Sirsa constituency.
 
The criminal case against him is still pending in New Delhi's Rouse Avenue court.
 
IANS

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BJP-JJP seal deal for Haryana govt, Dushyant to be Deputy CM

BJP President  Amit Shah at a press conference in New Delhi on October 25, 2019 along with Jannayak Janata Party chief Dushyant Chawla, BJP Working  President J P Nadda, Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, Union Minister Anurag Thakur and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
BJP President Amit Shah at a press conference in New Delhi on October 25, 2019 along with Jannayak Janata Party chief Dushyant Chawla, BJP Working President J P Nadda, Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, Union Minister Anurag Thakur and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) on Friday sealed the deal for government formation in Haryana, with the latter's Dushyant Chautala as the Deputy Chief Minister.
 
In a day of fast-moving developments, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur first arrived at the residence of Dushyant Chautala at 18 Janpath here and then took him along in his vehicle to Home Minister and BJP President Amit Shah's residence.
 
At Shah's residence, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was also present with BJP working President J.P. Nadda. After initial talks, the leaders addressed a joint press conference where Shah made the announcement.
 
"The two parties have decided to form the government to respect the mandate of the people. It has been decided that the Chief Minister will be from the BJP and the Deputy CM from the JJP," he said.
 
On his part, Dushyant Chautala said that his party has decided to support the BJP "for the stability of the government in Haryana".
 
Khattar said that the party has called a meeting of the legislators and will meet the Governor on Saturday to stake their claim.
 
The BJP won 40 seats in the October 21 Assembly elections, seven down from its 2014 total and six short of a simple majority in the 90-member House. The JJP, which is less than a year old, won 10 seats.
 
The BJP, which had secured the support of seven Independents as well as former minister Gopal Kanda, has now decided not to include the latter's name in the list of MLAs supporting it, after the party faced large-scale ire on social media for taking his support. Kanda is accused abetting the suicides of his then airline's employee, Geetika Sharma, in 2012, and her mother early in the following year.
 
With Dushyant Chautala's decision to align with the BJP, the Chautala clan is making a comeback to power after 15 years, when the JJP leader's grandfather Om Prakash Chautala was defeated by the Congress in the 2004 elections.
 
IANS
 

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Congress, BJP not untouchable for us: JJP

Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Chautala addressing a press conference in New Delhi on October 25, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Chautala addressing a press conference in New Delhi on October 25, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Jannayak Janata Party chief Dushyant Chautala, who appeared as a kingmaker in Haryana politics after his party won 10 seats in October 21 polls, on Friday kept his options open on aligning with the Congress or the BJP, saying both parties are not "untouchable."
 
"We haven't spoken to anyone... the key still lies with the JJP for a stable government in Haryana," said Dushyant at a media briefing at his residence at 18 Janpath in the national capital, insisting that his party had taken "no decision on support to anyone yet".
 
"For us, neither the Congress and nor the BJP is untouchable. We will support the party which agrees to implement our agenda of common minimum programme," said Dushyant.
 
He said any party which would agree to "implement a farm loan waiver, 75 per cent reservation to youths in the private sector and Rs 5,100 pension for senior citizens, we will support it".
 
Speaking after the JJP national executive, Dushyant said some members of his party wanted a tie-up with the BJP while others favoured the Congress. "If somebody wants to be our partner on the issues that we fought this election and give us due respect, we will support them," he said.
 
He said his MLAs would decide the alliance issue.
 
On Thursday, as the counting of votes took place, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda appealed to the independent MLAs as well as other parties to join hands to keep the ruling BJP at bay. However, the Congress won only 31 seats, falling short of the majority by 14 seats in the 90-member Assembly.
 
The BJP, on the other hand, won 40 seats and on Friday appeared to have stitched together an alliance with eight independents to form the government. These independents have pledged their "unconditional support" to the saffron party led by Manohar Lal Khattar.
 
However, the party leadership is keen to have Dushyant Chautala-led JJP on board. The JJP led a bitter campaign on the Jat plank, targeting the BJP.
 
To a question over which party the JJP will ally with, Dushyant's borther, Digvijay Chautala told IANS, "The Congress first needs to show the numbers as to how they are going to form the government."
 
Digvijay said the party's national executive appointed Dushyant and Sardar Nishant Singh to speak to both (BJP and Congress) on the common minimum programme and that "whosoever agrees" with it, the JJP would go with it.
 
IANS
 

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JJP chief Dushyant Chautala keeps options open

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Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Chautala, who positioned himself as kingmaker in Haryana politics after his party won 10 seats in the October 21 polls, on Friday kept his options open on aligning with the Congress or the BJP.
 
"For a stable government, the key still lies with the JJP," Dushyant said at a media briefing in the national Capital.
 
He said the national executive of the JJP would decide which party to support.
 
"We will support any party in Haryana that accepts our common minimum programme," he said.
 
The BJP, with 40 seats, appeared to have stitched together an alliance with eight independents to form the government.
 
"No one is untouchable for us. We have not decided who to support," he said.
 
"I leave it to to my MLAs to decide," he added.
 
Eight independents have pledged their "unconditional support" to the saffron party led by Manohar Lal Khattar. However, the party leadership is keen to have the JJP on board. The JJP fought a bitter campaign on the Jat plank, targeting the BJP.
 
IANS
 

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Haryana: BJP wins 40 seats but almost all ministers lose

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The ruling BJP in Haryana led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday won 40 seats but failed to cross the half-way mark in the 90-member Assembly.
 
Also, all the party's state ministers, except two, lost the poll
 
The rival Congress won 31 seats, while the less than 12-month-old Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), which broke away from the state's once major regional Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) owing to family disputes, won 10 seats.
 
The INLD won a lone seat against 19 in 2014 Assembly election. Eight independents have also won.
 
While Khattar retained his Karnal seat with a comfortable margin, two-time Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda too managed to win in his bastion of Garhi Sampla-Kiloi in Rohtak district.
 
Khattar won by 45,188 votes over his nearest rival Tarlochan Singh of the Congress.
 
BJP's outgoing ministers Captain Abhimanyu, O. P. Dhankar, Ram Bilas Sharma, Kavita Jain, Krishan Lal Panwar, Manish Grover, and Krishan Kumar Bedi, all ended up with humiliating defeats.
 
But  Public Health and Engineering Minister Banwari Lal won the Bawal seat. Also Health Minister Anil Vij retained his seat from Ambala Cantonment.
 
Two sitting ministers, Rao Narbir Singh and Vipul Goel, were denied tickets and fresh faces were brought in.
 
Sitting Congress legislator Kuldeep Bishnoi, whose hotel worth Rs 150 crore in a prime location of Gurugram has been attached by the Income Tax department, retained his stronghold of Adampur by defeating his nearest rival and TikTok celebrity Sonali Phogat of the BJP by over 29,000 votes.
 
JJP chief Dushyant Chautala and his mother Naina Chautala won the Uchana Kalan and Badhra seats, respectively.
 
Outgoing Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu, who lost to JJP candidate and BJP rebel Ram Kumar Gautam in the Narnaud constituency in Hisar district by a margin of 12,029 votes, admitted his defeat during counting.
 
With it becoming clear that the BJP would not form the government on its own, its state unit chief Subhash Barala also lost the Tohana Assembly seat in Fatehabad district by more than 20,000 votes to JJP's Devender Singh Babli.
 
BJP candidate and former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh defeated Congress' Mandeep Chatha in Pehowa. This was the BJP's first win in the constituency.
 
While BJP candidate and international wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt faced defeat, another of its candidates, wrestler Babita Phogat, emerged third in the Dadri constituency in Bhiwani.
 
Another prominent defeat for the BJP is its sitting legislator Prem Lata, 59, wife of former Union Minister Birender Singh, who was defeated by JJP chief Dushyant Chautala, great grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.
 
Congress' national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, who lost by a mere 1,246 votes to BJP's Leela Ram, conceded defeat from Kaithal.
 
Surjewala, a two-time MLA, was seeking his third term from Kaithal, once a known stronghold of the Surjewala family.
 
Congress leader Kiran Chaudhary, however, retained her Tosham seat by over 12,000 votes.
 
The Congress candidate from Ferozepur Jhirka in Mewat, Mamman Khan, defeated BJP's Naseem Ahmed, an INLD defector. Ahmed had won this seat in the 2014 and 2009 Assembly elections.
 
BJP's Zakir Hussain, who was the sitting legislator in Nuh constituency, lost his seat to Congress' Aftab Ahmed as the latter won by a margin of 4,038 votes.
 
BJP's Pramod Vij and Mahipal Dhanda won Panipat City and Rural seats, respectively.
 
The JJP appears set to play kingmaker in the state. Dushyant Chautala said he has called a meeting of the party executive at 11 a.m. on Friday in Delhi to discuss the party's strategy.
 
JJP candidate Ram Niwas won from Narwana (reserved). He contested against BJP's Santosh Rai. JJP candidate Ram Karan won from Shahbad (reserved) by a margin of 37,127 votes against BJP's Krishan Kumar.
 
Another JJP candidate Amarjeet Dhanda has won from Julana beating the incumbent Parminder Singh Dhull, who switched to the BJP from the INLD.
 
Independent candidate Nayan Pal Rawat won from Prithala.
 
INLD's Abhay Chautala won the party's lone seat of Ellenabad.
 
Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP) President Gopal Kanda registered a win from Sirsa seat. He extended unconditional support to the BJP.
 
After winning his seat, Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the mandate is against the BJP government.
 
"The mandate is against the current government of Haryana, and all parties should come together to form a strong government whether it's JJP, BSP, INLD or independent candidates," Hooda told reporters.
 
IANS
 

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Hung in Haryana, BJP-Sena set to retain power in Maharashtra

Haryana was set for a hung Assembly on Thursday with no party appearing in a position to cross the half-way mark in the 90-member House, but in Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena was well placed to retain power.
Voters waiting in a queue outside a polling booth in Maharashtra, on October 21, 2019.
Voters waiting in a queue outside a polling booth in Maharashtra, on October 21, 2019.
Haryana was set for a hung Assembly on Thursday with no party appearing in a position to cross the half-way mark in the 90-member House, but in Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena was well placed to retain power.
 
Counting of the votes cast in the October 21 polls began this morning and, according to the latest trends available with the Election Commission, the ruling BJP won 15 seats and was leading in 23 other constituencies in Haryana, still 8 short of the majority mark.
 
Close on its heels was the  Congress, winning 12 seats and leading in 21.
 
Newcomer Jannayak Janata Dal (JJP) was victorious in 5 constituencies and was ahead in 5 others, making it a possible kingmaker, along with 6 Independents, one of whom won and 5 were leading.
 
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which ruled the state for four times in the past, was leading in merely 1 seat.
 
The outcome of the Assembly polls held on October 21 is a setback for the BJP, which had won 47 seats in the last state elections in 2014. The party had been expressing confidence about raising its tally beyond 75 this time, using the nationalist pitch of abolition of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the Balakot air strike.
 
The results and the trends come as a shocker for the saffron party, particularly since it had won all the 10 seats in the Lok Sabha elections held just five months back.
 
The BJP had formed the government in Haryana for the first time in 2014, when it improved its tally from 4 in the previous elections.
 
The Congress, on the other hand, improved its performance substantially in these Assembly elections as it had managed only 15 seats the last time and had failed to open its account in the April-May Lok Sabha elections.
 
The INLD, which ruled the state the last time from 2000 to 2004, stood second with 19 seats in the last Assembly elections and was the main Opposition party in the outgoing House.
 
JJP was formed in December last year after Dushyant Chautala, the grandson of four-time Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, split from INLD following a bitter fight in the family.
 
The Congress has already begun efforts to woo JJP leader Dushyant Chautala but he has refused to spell out his future course of action, saying it will be decided after the party's meeting on Friday.
 
In Maharashtra, where 288 seats are at stake, the BJP won 35 seats and was leading in 66 while its ally Shiv Sena bagged 24 seats and was ahead in 34 constituencies, taking their combined lead tally to 159, 15 more than the half way mark.
 
From the Opposition camp, the Congress won 16 seats and was leading in 29 while its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won 18 seats and was leading in 35 seats.
 
Going by the results and trends in Maharashtra, the BJP's tally is lesser by 22 seats compared to its performance in the last Assembly elections held in 2014. Shiv Sena had won 63 seats last time.
 
The NCP appears to have improved its performance significantly as it had got 41 seats in the last Assembly elections, while the Congress had managed 42 seats.
 
IANS
 

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BJP, Congress neck-and-neck in Haryana; NDA set to return in Maharashtra

Haryana on Thursday looked set for a hung Assembly as the latest trends showed the ruling BJP and the Congress leading in 37 and 34 seats, respectively, in the 90-member House.
Voters waiting in a queue outside a polling booth in Maharashtra, on October 21, 2019.
Voters waiting in a queue outside a polling booth in Maharashtra, on October 21, 2019.
Haryana on Thursday looked set for a hung Assembly as the latest trends showed the ruling BJP and the Congress leading in 37 and 34 seats, respectively, in the 90-member House.
 
In Maharashtra, however, the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena combine appeared comfortably ahead of the Opposition Congress-NCP alliance and looked all set to retain power.
 
According to the latest counting trends available with the Election Commission from all the 90 seats, no party seemed to be in a position to cross the halfway mark of 45 in Haryana.
 
While the BJP and the Congress were ahead in 37 and 34 seats, respectively, newcomer Jannayak Janata Dal (JJP) was leading in 9 constituencies and could possibly play the role of a kingmaker, along with Independents who were leading in 6 Assembly segments.
 
INLD, which had ruled the state for four times, was leading in merely 2 seats.
 
The BJP, which had won 47 seats in the last Assembly elections in 2014, had been expressing confidence about raising its tally beyond 75 seats this time, which looks a far cry at the moment.
 
The trends indicate a shocker for the saffron party, particularly since it had won all the 10 seats in Haryana in the Lok Sabha elections held just five months back.
 
The BJP had formed the government in Haryana for the first time in 2014, when it improved its tally from 4 in the previous elections.
 
The Congress, on the other hand, seems to have improved its performance substantially this time as the trends showed it leading in 34 seats. In the last Assembly polls, it had managed 15 seats while it failed to open its account in the April-May Lok Sabha elections.
 
The INLD, which ruled the state the last time from 2000 to 2004, stood second with 19 seats in the last Assembly elections and was the main Opposition party in the outgoing House.
 
JJP was formed in December last year after Dushyant Chautala, grandson of four-time Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, split from the INLD following a bitter fight in the family.
 
The Congress has already begun efforts to woo JJP leader Dushyant Chautala.
 
In Maharashtra, where 288 seats are at stake, the BJP was ahead in 102 constituencies and its ally Shiv Sena was leading in 61 seats, taking the combined tally to 163 seats.
 
From the Opposition camp, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was leading in 54 seats and its coalition partner Congress was ahead in 41 constituencies. Independents were ahead in 14 constituencies.
 
Going by the trends, the BJP's tally is lesser by 20 seats, compared to its performance in the last Assembly elections held in 2014. Shiv Sena had 63 seats last time.
 
The NCP appears to have improved its performance significantly as it had got 41 seats in the last Assembly elections, when the Congress had managed 42 seats.
 
IANS

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65% polling in Haryana, 60% in Maharashtra Assembly elections

About 65 per cent of the electorate in Haryana and 60 per cent in Maharashtra turned out to exercise their franchise in elections to the legislative assemblies of the two states held on Monday.
Voters waiting in a queue outside a polling booth in Maharashtra, on October 21, 2019.
Voters waiting in a queue outside a polling booth in Maharashtra, on October 21, 2019.
About 65 per cent of the electorate in Haryana and 60 per cent in Maharashtra turned out to exercise their franchise in elections to the legislative assemblies of the two states held today.
 
Bye-elections were also held today for two Lok Sabha seats -- Samastipur in Bihar and Satara in Maharashtra -- and 51 Assembly seats spread over 17 states.
 
Polling was held for all 288 seats in the Maharashtra assembly and all 90 seats in the Haryana legislature
 
Bye-elections were held for 11 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, six in Gujarat, five each in Kerala and Bihar, three in Sikkim, four each in Punjab and Assembly, two each in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh and one seat each in Odisha, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Pudducherry and Arunachal Pradesh.
 
Voters braved heavy rains in Kerala and in many parts of Maharashtra to turn out in large numbers to cast their votes.
 
At many places, voters had formed queues outside polling stations even before voting started at 7 am.
 
A total of 8,97,22,019 voters, including 4,68,75,750 men, 4,28,43,635 women and 2,634 others were eligible to vote in the elections in Maharashtra and decide the fate of 3,237 candidates, including 235 women.
 
In Haryana, a total of 1,82,82,570 voters -- including 97,74,543 men, 85,07,775 women and 252 others -- were eligible to vote in the 90 Assembly constituencies where 1,169 candidates -- including 104 women --- were in the contest.
 
Counting of votes in the Assembly elections and the bye-elections will be taken up on October 24.
 
IANS adds:
 
A total of 69.74 per cent of voters had cast their votes in Haryana in the Lok Sabha election in May, while in the 2014 Assembly polls, the state recorded the highest-ever turnout of 76.54 per cent.
 
The state with 19,578 polling stations used 27,611 voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPATs) machines. While the BJP and the Congress contested all 90 seats, the BSP was in the fray in 87 constituencies and the INLD in 81. There were some 375 candidates contesting as independents.
 
Another official said that minor scuffles among supporters of different political parties were also reported from Dabwali in Sirsa Uchana Kalan in Jind district and Nuh in Mewat, but the situation was under control.
 
In Muslim-dominated Nuh in Mewat region, a woman was injured in a clash between two groups outside a polling booth in Malaaka village.
 
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, tribal areas in different parts of the state such as Thane, Palghar, Chandrapur and Nandurbar recorded a higher turnout while most other parts of the state, especially the urban and semi-urban areas, lagged behind. State capital Mumbai recorded around 46 per cent while the second capital - Nagpur - registered 56 per cent turnout.
 
Exclusive facilities were provided to senior citizens and persons with disabilities, Sinha said.
 
"In Maharashtra, more than 5,300 polling stations, which were on the first or second floor in earlier elections, were brought down to the ground floor.
 
"More than Rs 25 crore were allocated to provide for such temporary polling stations created. Voters with disability and senior citizens were provided special facility to eliminate any discomfort to them."
 
Sinha said that special attention was paid for providing adequate CPF component for Maoist-affected areas.
 
"The Naxal (Maoist)-affected area of Gadchiroli and Gondia was totally peaceful this time."
 
As other places were also "peaceful", the official said it was a"silver lining" for the election.
 
NNN
 

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Polling begins in Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, bye-elections in 17 States

Polling began on Monday morning amidst tight security in the elections to choose new state legislative assemblies in Maharashtra and Haryana along with bye-elections for two Lok Sabha seats and 51 Assembly seats in 17 States.
Voters at a polling station in Karnal, Haryana on October 21, 2019
Voters at a polling station in Karnal, Haryana on October 21, 2019
Polling began this morning amidst tight security in the elections to choose new state legislative assemblies in Maharashtra and Haryana along with bye-elections for two Lok Sabha seats and 51 Assembly seats in 17 States.
 
The two Lok Sabha seats for which bye-elections are being held are Samastipur in Bihar and Satara in Maharashtra.
 
Bye-elections are also being held for 11 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, six in Gujarat, five each in Kerala and Bihar, three in Sikkim, four each in Punjab and Assembly, two each in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh and one seat each in Odisha, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Pudducherry and Arunachal Pradesh.
 
In Maharashtra, voting began on a peaceful note across all 288 assembly constituencies. Voters braved rain in many parts of the state, including Mumbai and turned to exercise their franchise.
 
At many places, voters had formed queues outside polling stations even before voting started at 7 am.
 
A total of 8,97,22,019 voters, including 4,68,75,750 men, 4,28,43,635 women and 2,634 others are eligible to vote in the elections in Maharashtra. They will decide the fate of 3,237 candidates, including 235 women, who are in the fray.
 
In Haryana, a total of 1,82,82,570 voters -- including 97,74,543 men, 85,07,775 women and 252 others -- are eligible to vote in the 90 Assembly constituencies where 1,169 candidates -- including 104 women --- are in the fray.
 
Queues had formed outside many polling stations long before voting began at 7 am. Polling will end at 6 pm.
 
Counting of votes in the Assembly elections and the bye-elections will be taken up on October 24.
 

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