Congress will scrap Citizenship Bill forever: Rahul

File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
Launching his party's Lok Sabha campaign for the northeast here on Tuesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would be scrapped if his party came to power.
"The BJP has said it will bring the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 if it comes to power. But we are against it. We are not going to allow this Bill. It is against the interests of the people of northeast. We will scrap it forever," said Gandhi at a public rally in the Arunachal Pradesh capital.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, failed to get it cleared by the Rajya Sabha due to opposition by some of its own allies. 
BJP President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have defended the Bill and have said their party would revive it on return to power.
The Congress chief also promised to restore the special category status of northeastern states. "Some states require special status due to unique issues of connectivity, terrain and infrastructure. We will restore the special category status of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeastern states," said Gandhi.
Launching a scathing attack on the BJP, he said the RSS and the BJP wanted to push one political, cultural ideology and one thought process across the country, thereby destroying the unique cultural heritage and history of northeast.
"Just look at universities of the country. Merit is no longer the criteria to select the vice-chancellors. The determining criteria is their proximity to the RSS. The Planning Commission was replaced by the Niti Aayog, no one knows what this Aayog does," Gandhi said.
Slamming the five years of the National Democratic Alliance government, he said, "Prime Minister Modi wants a Congress-free India. Just see how much hatred he has in his heart. We do not want to spread hatred. We don't want to destroy the BJP and the RSS. But we will not allow them to impose their ideology on people." 
Accusing the BJP of politicising the martyrs' sacrifice, Gandhi said, "Modiji talks about patriotism, but he was busy in shooting (film) for over three hours after the Pulwama attack took place." 
"Before that, a few years ago, when the Chinese President came to India and Modiji was sitting with him in Gujarat, the Chinese army entered Doklam. But Modiji did not utter a word. On the contrary, he went to China after that without any agenda. This is Modi's patriotism," Gandhi said.
Criticising death of three people in February during protests against grant of permanent residence certificate (PRC) to the non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribal (APST) communities of Namsai and Changlang districts, he asked why the government did not talk to the agitators.
Large-scale violence against PRCs had resulted in death of three youths and a huge loss of public and private properties.

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Two BJP Ministers, 12 MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh join NPP

In a setback to the BJP in Arunachal Pradesh, 15 of its leaders including two ministers and 12 other sitting legislators joined the National Peoples' Party (NPP) on Tuesday.
The mass desertion followed the Bharatiya Janata Party's decision not to grant party ticket to state General Secretary Jarpum Gamlin, state Home Minister Kumar Waii and Tourism Minister Jarkar Gamlin and several other sitting legislators for the Assembly elections.
The BJP's Parliamentary Board had on Sunday released a list of 54 candidates for the polls to the 60-member-assembly, which are being held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in the state on April 11.
On Monday, Jarpum Gamlin dashed off his resignation letter to BJP's Arunachal President Tapir Gao. 
He was camping in Guwahati since Monday morning where Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma met him and other disgruntled leaders on Monday night.
"Jarpum, Jarkar, Kumar Waii and the 12 sitting MLAs of the BJP met the NPP General Secretary Thomas Sangma on Tuesday and joined the NPP," a senior NPP leader said in Guwahati, adding that the party is very hopeful that the inclusion of these leaders would strengthen the party.
Meanwhile, the NPP has decided to field candidates in all the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the northeast for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. While the party has released its list of candidates for Meghalaya, it is likely to release its list of candidates for the rest of the constituencies soon.

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LS polls: Ex-Arunachal CM Tuki to take on Rijiju

The Congress in Arunachal Pradesh has decided to field former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki against BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju in the Arunachal West constituency in the Lok Sabha elections.
Tuki's name features in the list of 27 candidates released by the Congress on Saturday night. Besides, former Arunachal Pradesh Minister James Lowangcha Wanglet has been fielded from Arunachal East constituency.
Rijiju represents the Arunachal West Lok Sabha seat while senior Congress leader Ninong Ering represents the Arunachal East constituency. 
While Tuki was the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh between 2011 to 2016, Wanglet had in the past served the state as Home, Finance and Civil Supplies Minister. 
Wanglet, who hails from the royal family known as the Lowang's of Namsang-Borduria, is the founding general secretary of Peoples' Party of Arunachal, a regional political party.
He was elected four times to the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
Tuki, a seasoned politician, replaced Jarbom Gamlin as the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh on November 1, 2011 and continued till January 2016. 
However, after a political crisis in 2016, President's Rule was imposed ending his tenure as the Chief Minister.

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Modi to visit Guwahati, Itanagar and Agartala on Saturday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Guwahati in Assam, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh and Agartala in Tripura tomorrow as part of a one-day trip during which he will launch several development projects.
In Itanagar, he will unveil a series of development projects at IG Park in Itanagar. 
Among other things, he will lay the foundation stone for the construction of a greenfield airport at Hollongi. At present, the nearest airport to Itanagar is at Lilabari in Assam at a distance of 80 km.
The airport at Hollongi will reduce the distance by a fourth. In addition to providing better connectivity to the region, the airport will also unravel the tourism potential of the state. The airport will boost the economic growth of the region and will be strategically important to the nation. The airport will have various sustainability features like green belt along approach road to act as noise barrier, rain water harvesting, use of energy efficient equipment, and so on.
Modi will also lay the foundation stone of Sela Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh. It will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang Valley for civilians as well as security forces throughout the year. The tunnel will reduce travel time to Tawang by an hour and boost tourism and related economic activities in the region.
A new dedicated DD Channel, for Arunachal Pradesh, DD Arun Prabha, will be launched by the Prime Minister. It will be the 24th channel operated by Doordarshan. 
He will also dedicate the 110 MW Pare Hydroelectric Plant in Arunachal Pradesh to the nation. The project, constructed by NEEPCO, will harness hydro power potential of the river Dikrong (tributary of Brahmaputra) and provide cheap hydro electric power to the North Eastern states, thereby improving power availability in the region, an official press release said.
Modi will also lay the foundation stone for a permanent campus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) at Jote, Arunachal Pradesh. It will cater to film students especially those from the North Eastern states. 
He will inaugurate the upgraded Tezu Airport in Arunachal Pradesh. The airport has been retrofitted and a new terminal constructed for making it fit for commercial operations under UDAN, the regional connectivity scheme.
As many as 50 health and wellness centers in Arunachal Pradesh will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister. He will also declare 100% household electrification in Arunachal Pradesh under Saubhagya Scheme.
From Itanagar, the Prime Minister will return to Guwahati, where he will  lay the foundation stone of the North East Gas Grid which will ensure uninterrupted availability of natural gas across the region and boost industrial growth in the region. The grid is part of Government’s plan to provide cheap and quality gas to the entire North East Region. He will lay foundation stone of City Gas Distribution Networks in Kamrup, Cacher, Hailakandi & Karimganj districts.
He will inaugurate Hollong Modular Gas Processing Plant in Tinsukia, Assam. The facility will deliver 15% of the total gas produced in Assam. He will also inaugurate LPG Capacity Augmentation of Mounted Storage Vessel in North Guwahati. 
The foundation stone of NRL Bio Refinery at Numaligarh and a 729 km gas pipeline from Barauni to Guwahati, passing through Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam, will be laid by him on the occasion.
The last leg of the Prime Minister's visit will be in Agartala.  He will dedicate to the nation the Garjee - Belonia Railway Line through unveiling of plaque at Swami Vivekananda Stadium here. The line will boost Tripura as the gateway to South and Southeast Asia. He will also inaugurate the new complex of Tripura Institute of Technology at Narsingarh.
He will unveil the statue of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur at Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport, Agartala. Maharaja Bir Bikram is widely regarded as the creator of modern Tripura. He is credited with planning of Agartala city. Unveiling of his statue is in line with the Union Government’s policy of honouring the unsung heroes of India, who have contributed greatly to nation building, the release added.

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Modi calls for focus on HR, infrastructure, modern technology in health sector

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said there was neeed to focus attention on human resource development, infrastructure and use of modern technology in the health sector.
Speaking after inaugurating the Dorjee Khandu State Convention Centre here during a day's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, he said the Union Government was working towards building medical colleges in all parts of the nation. He said this is because, when one studies in a particular area, one becomes better acquainted with the local health challenges.
Mr. Modi said healthcare had be of good quality and must be affordable. He said the prices of stents had been brought down so  that the poor and middle class families benefit. 
He said the Ayushman Bharat announced in the Budget recently would help provide quality and affordable healthcare.
The convention centre inaugurated by Mr. Modi has an auditorium, conference halls and an exhibition hall.
He also dedicated the State Civil Secretariat Building to the nation, and laid the foundation stone of the academic block of the Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Science.
He noted that most of the key departments are based in the new Secretariat, which would make it easier for people coming from distant villages.
He expressed happiness at the inauguration of the Convention Centre. "This is more than a building, it is a vibrant centre that will further the aspirations of Arunachal Pradesh,: he said. He said that conferences and cultural activities will draw government officials and private companies. He said he would personally suggest to people that they could go to Arunachal Pradesh, and hold important meetings at this Convention Centre. 
He recalled that he had visited Shillong for a North-East Council meeting, and an important meeting related to agriculture was held in Sikkim.
The Prime Minister said Union Ministers, and officials from the Union Government are visiting the North-East regularly.
Mr. Modi complimented State Chief Minister Pema Khandu for his good work in the State. He said the Chief Minister has prepared a top quality roadmap on how Arunachal Pradesh should be in 2027. He added that inputs for this plan were taken not just from officials but also from people from all walks of life.
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Kovind tells legislators they must help achieve aspirations of people

President Ram Nath Kovind today told members of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly that they must remember that they had been elected to achieve the aspirations of the people of the State and to render public service.
Addressing a special session of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly here today, he said that, after election, they represented all citizens of their constituency, including those who may not have voted for them.
He said that, as legislators, they are guardians of public interest and trust. It is their responsibility to make laws that improve the lives of people and to resolve issues of public concern.
The President said they were all citizens of a culturally rich and diverse country. "There is such variety in food, clothing, customs and even religious traditions in India. And yet, this diversity is our strength and unites us. Whether it is Tirupati or Tarnetar or the Buddhist monastery of Tawang, it inspires every Indian and is a matter of pride for each of us," he said.
The President said that Arunachal Pradesh’s experience of “unity in diversity” expressed the country's traditions beautifully. There are many ethnic and religious communities in the state, and they live together in harmony. This is an ideal for all Indians, he said.
The President said that, being a border state, Arunachal Pradesh offers a unique opportunity to trade and do business with neighbouring countries. He expressed hope that Arunachal Pradesh would become a driver of India’s trade and economic relations with ASEAN countries under the Act East Policy.
Earlier in the day, the President attended the valedictory function to mark the completion of 40 years of the Vivekananda Kendra in Itanagar.
Speaking on the occasion, the President praised the Vivekananda Kendra for commendable work in Arunachal Pradesh in the field of education. He was happy to note that the Vivekananda Kendra’s schools had kept alive the guru-shishya tradition through the Gurukul system. They have maintained Indian culture through yoga, pranayama, meditation, Sanskrit and other legacies of the country's past.
The President noted that the Vivekananda Kendra schools are a happy synthesis of India's traditional knowledge and values and of modern science and technology.

Cabinet nod for transfer of Hotel Jaipur Ashok, Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel to State Governments

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave its approval for the transfer of Hotel Jaipur Ashok, Jaipur and Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, Mysore, units of India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (ITDC), to the Government of Rajasthan and the Government of Karnataka, respectively, and disinvestment of ITDC's shares in Donyi Polo Ashok Hotel Corporation, Itanagar.
An official press release said that, as per the disinvestment policy of the Government of India, it had been decided to lease/sub-lease the ITDC hotels/ properties jointly with the States and where States have not agreed to the proposal of leasing/sub-leasing, the properties may be returned back to the States at their officially valued price. 
The policy has been formulated keeping in view that running and managing hotels on professional lines is not the job of Government or its entities, it said.
In pursuance of this policy, the Ministry of Tourism has to date transferred the properties/units of Hotel Lake View Ashok, Bhopal, Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok, Guwahati and Hotel Bharatpur Ashok, Bharatpur to the concerned State Governments. In addition, ‘in principle’ approval for transfer of Hotel Janpath, New Delhi to the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India has also been accorded by the CCEA.
The release said the transfer of the properties of Hotel Jaipur Ashok and Hotel Lalitha Mahal Palace was in continuation of the policy.
As far as Donyi Polo Ashok Hotel Corporation, the joint venture company running Hotel Donyi Polo Ashok, Itanagar, is concerned, the Cabinet decided that ITDC would disinvest its 51% equity in favour of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, the release added.

Wreckage of missing IAF helicopter found in Arunachal Pradesh, three bodies recovered

Search and rescue teams have located the wreckage of an advanced light helicopter (ALH) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) which went missing over Arunachal Pradesh on July 4 with four persons on board and recovered the bodies of three of them.
The ALH, belonging to the helicopter unit based at Tezpur in Assam, had gone missing while carrying out a humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) mission near Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh.
An official press release said here today that the helicopter had carried out five sorties to evacuate people stranded near Itanagar after landslides between naharlagun and Sagalee.
There were three crew members and a Arunachal Pradesh police personnel on board, when the aircraft was reported missing at approximately 1550 hours.
Search and rescue operations were initiated immediately, but the process was hampered frequently due to bad weather in the area, the release said.
"Joint rescue teams of Army, NDRF, Arunachal Pradesh Police and IAF were launched to locate the helicopter. The Arunachal Pradesh Police team spotted the wreckage of the helicopter in the evening of 05 Jul 17. On 06 Jul 17 morning, rescue parties comprising IAF Garuds and medical team, Army, NDRF were able to reach the crash site alongwith the Arunachal Pradesh Police team who had sighted the wreckage. The bodies of three personnel have been recovered so far. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident," the release added.

Arunachal Pradesh’s first Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi store opened

Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers  Mansukh Mandaviya inaugurated Arunachal Pradesh’s first Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Store at Naharlagun here on Monday.
State Chief Minister Pema Khandu was also present on the occasion.
The two dignitaries witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Health & Family Welfare Department of Arunachal Pradesh and Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI), an agency under Department of Pharmaceuticals.
As per the MoU, 84 Jan Aushadhi Stores will be opened in Arunachal Pradesh, an official press release said.
Congratulating Arunachal Pradesh for taking the initiative, Mr Mandaviya said that the Union Government was committed to development of the border state.
He said the scheme is for the poor and needy, and hence the Ministry is working hard to open more and more stores under the scheme. He called upon the doctors to prescribe generic medicines, which cost a fraction of the branded drugs.
Making quality medicines available at affordable prices has been a key challenge for the Government. The prices of branded medicines are much higher than generic medicines in the market due to various reasons.
With a view to achieve the objective of making available quality medicines at affordable prices, the Government has been taking several regulatory and fiscal measures from time to time, he said.
In order to provide further relief to the common man in the area of healthcare, a countrywide campaign was started for ensuring availability of generic medicines at affordable prices to common man, he said.
The Government has decided to open 3,000 stores under Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana (PMJAY) during 2016-2017 and to reinvigorate the supply of generic drugs.
Jan Aushadhi scheme is being implemented in the country through Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) under the administrative control of Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. As many as 423 Jan Aushadhi Stores are functional across the country.
In order to promote the campaign of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana, a one-time financial assistance to the extent of Rs.2.50 lakh (Rs 1 lakh for furnishing, Rs 50000 for computer and peripherals, refrigerator etc and another Rs 1 lakh worth medicines to commence operations) is given to those who open shops in Government Hospitals and also to those who are individual entrepreneurs, NGOs and Charitable Trusts.

Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Kalikho Pul found dead

Former Arunachal Pradesh CM Kalikho Pul found dead at his residence
Former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, who held office for about four and a half months from February to July this year with the support of rebel Congress MLAs as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before being unseated by a Supreme Court verdict, was found dead at his residence here this morning.
Sources said Mr. Pul, 47, was found hanging at the official residence of the Chief Minister, which he had not vacated, by a servant around 9 am today.
Police officials suspect it to be a case of suicide and the circumstances suggested he had taken the extreme step late last night.
Police took possession of the body and sent it for a post-mortem examination, the sources said.
Arunachal Pradesh had plunged into a political crisis in November 2015 after 21 of the 47 Congress MLAs turned against then Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, reducing the ruling party to a minority with just 26 members in the 60-member assembly.
President's Rule was imposed in the state on January 26 and Mr. Pul, who led the rebel MLAs, was sworn in as the new Chief Minister on February 21 this year. Apart from the rebel Congress MLAs, he had the support of 11 BJP MLAs.
The Supreme Court restored Mr. Tuki's government in a landmark verdict on July 13 this year by which it scrapped all decisions taken by Governor J P Rajkhowa that led to the fall of the government and restored status quo ante in the state as on December 9, 2015.
However, hours ahead of a trust vote Mr. Tuki had been asked to seek in the legislative assembly by the Governor on July 16, the Congress Legislature Party met here and elected Mr. Pema Khandu as its new leader and he was sworn in as the new Chief Minister on July 17 with the support of 45 members, including two independents, in the 60-member assembly, which had an effective strength of 58.
Mr. Pul also returned to the Congress fold with the other dissident MLAs on July 16 and was present at the meeting in which Mr. Khandu was elected as the new leader.
"Shocked to hear of untimely demise of promising young leader Kalikho Pul whose contributions shall always be remembered," President Pranab Mukherjee said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi expresed shock at the "untimely and tragic demise" of Mr. Pul and extended her condolences to his family.
"Shocked and deeply saddened at the untimely demise of Kalikho Pulji. My heart goes out to his family & loved ones," Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter.
Born on July 20, 1969, Pul hailed from Hawai in Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh and belonged to the Kaman Mishmi ethnic group. He represented the Hayuliangconstituency in the state legislative assemby. He served as Finance Minister in the Gegong Apang Ministry from 2003 to 2007.

Congress leader Pema Khandu sworn in as CM of Arunachal Pradesh

Pema Khandu takes oath as Arunachal Pradesh CM
Congress leader Pema Khandu was sworn in today as the ninth Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, bringing the curtains down on weeks of political drama in the crucial north-eastern state.
Mr. Chowna Mein was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister.
Mr. Khandu, 36, the eldest son of late Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, who had died in a helicopter crash on April 30, 2011, is now the youngest Chief Minister of a state in India.
He and Mr. Mein were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Tathagata Roy at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan here. Mr. Roy is the Governor of Tripura who is holding additional charge as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh in the absence on leave of incumbent J. P. Rajkhowa.
Mr. Khandu has succeeded Mr. Nabam Tuki, whose government was restored by the Supreme Court in a landmark verdict on July 13.
However, hours ahead of a trust vote he had been asked to seek in the legislative assembly by the Governor yesterday, the Congress Legislature Party met here and elected Mr. Khandu as its new leader.
Mr. Khandu then staked claim to form a new government in the state, claiming the support of 45 members, including two independents, in the 60-member assembly, which has an effective strength of 58 at present.
Mr. Khaliko Pul, a rebel Congress leader, who had been sworn in as Chief Minister in February this year with the support of rebel members of the ruling party as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before being unseated by the Supreme Court verdict, also returned to the party fold with 30 dissident MLAs yesterday.
Mr. Khandu, who had served as Minister of Tourism, Urban Development and Water Resources in the state government, was among the MLAs who had turned against Mr. Tuki.
The Supreme Court's verdict, by which it restored the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh after scrapping all decisions taken by Governor Rajkhowa in the run-up to the fall of the Nabam Tuki ministry, came as a major embarassment for the ruling BJP at the Centre.
A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court concluded that the order of the Governor dated December 9, 2015 advancing the sixth session of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly from January 14, 2016 to December 16 2015 was violative of Article 163 read with Article 174 of the Constitution of India, and as such, is liable to be quashed.
"The same is accordingly hereby quashed," the main judgement written by Mr. Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar said.
"The message of the Governor dated 9.12.2015, directing the manner of conducting proceedings during the 6th session of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, from 16.12.2015 to 18.12.2015, is violative of Article 163 read with Article 175 of the Constitution of India, and as such, is liable to be quashed. The same is accordingly hereby quashed," it said.
"All steps and decisions taken by the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, pursuant to the Governor’s order and message dated 9.12.2015, are unsustainable in view of the decisions at (i) and (ii) above. The same are accordingly set aside," it said.
"In view of the decisions at (i) to (iii) above, the status quo ante as it prevailed on 15.12.2015, is ordered to be restored," the bench said.
The verdict, restoring status quo ante in the state as on December 9, 2015, implied that the decisions on dismissal of the Congress government, imposition of President's Rule in the state on January 26 this year and the formation of a new government in the state by rebels from the Congress with the support of the BJP were all rendered invalid.
This was the second such blow to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre. On April 26, the Uttarakhand High Court had quashed the imposition of President's Rule in the hill state and restored the government headed by Congress leader Harish Rawat back in office.
In circumstances very similar to what had happened in Arunachal Pradesh, the Narendra Modi government at the Centre had imposed President's Rule in Uttarakhand on March 27, just a day ahead of a trust vote that Mr. Rawat was scheduled to seek in the assembly. The Centre stated that the Rawat governmnt had lost its majority and was continuing in office illegally.
The political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh began in November 2015 after 21 of the 47 Congress MLAs turned against Mr. Tuki, reducing the ruling party to a minority with just 26 members in the 60-member assembly.
President's Rule was imposed in the state on January 26 and rebel Congress leader Kalikho Pul was sworn in as the new Chief Minister on February 21. Apart from the rebel Congress MLAs, he had the support of 11 BJP MLAs.
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