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Kamal Nath to be new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh

Congress leader Kamal Nath was on Thursday chosen as the leader of the state Congress legislature party, paving the way for his swearing-in as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, after party President Rahul Gandhi decided on his name over the other aspirant Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi with Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia after their meeting during which a decision on the new Chief  Minister of Madhya Pradesh was taken, in New Delhi on December 13, 2018.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi with Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia after their meeting during which a decision on the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh was taken, in New Delhi on December 13, 2018.
Congress leader Kamal Nath was on Thursday chosen as the leader of the state Congress legislature party, paving the way for his swearing-in as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh after party President Rahul Gandhi decided on his name over the other aspirant Jyotiraditya Scindia.
 
Heralding Congress rule in the state after 15 years, Kamal Nath, who flew in here from Delhi, was formally elected the leader of the legislature party at a late night meeting here.
 
"Rahul Gandhi has chosen Kamal Nath as the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister," party observer A.K. Antony said at the legislature party meeting.
 
Kamal Nath told the gathering that he would fulfil all the promises made in the party's manifesto.
 
"I assure every voter of Madhya Pradesh that we will fulfil our promises. The people have stood with the truth," he said. 
 
He thanked the party workers for effectively taking the message to people in the Assembly elections. 
 
Later, talking to reporters, Kamal Nath said he would meet the state Governor Anandiben Patel on Friday morning to decide on the day and time of his swearing-in.
 
"I shall strive to be true to the trust that the people of Madhya Pradesh have reposed in me," he said. 
 
Kamal Nath was accompanied at the meeting by Scindia. Both Kamal Nath and Scindia flew to Bhopal late in the evening after four-hour-long consultations with Gandhi. 
 
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An apparent reason for Congress President Rahul Gandhi choosing Kamal Nath over Scindia as Chief Minster is the nature of verdict in the state where the party is short of majority by two seats.
 
The Congress won 114 seats, two seats short of majority, in a tight contest, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finished a close second with 109 seats in the 230-member House. 
 
The party is dependent on the Independents to cross the half-way mark even as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party have extended the support of their three MLAs. Kamal Nath is seen as someone who can deftly manage allies and supporting parties. 
 
The decision came two days after the election results were declared in Madhya Pradesh. 
 
Kamal Nath, a former Union Minister, was appointed Madhya Pradesh Congress chief only seven months back and immersed himself in preparations for the Assembly polls in the state where the BJP had been in power for 15 years. 
 
He is the senior-most member of the Lok Sabha, having won nine elections.
 
Although the Congress is also poised to form governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, no decision has yet been taken on the Chief Ministers in the two states. 
 
IANS

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Polling begins for Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram Assembly elections

Polling began amidst tight security on Wednesday morning to choose new legislative assemblies in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram -- two of five states where crucial elections are being held just months ahead of the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
MP Assembly Elections: 5 cr voters to decide fate of state as polling begins
Polling began amidst tight security this morning to choose new legislative assemblies in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram -- two of five states where crucial elections are being held just months ahead of the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
In Madhya Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office and the Congress is making a strong bid to return to power after a gap of 15 years.
 
In Mizoram, the Congress is looking for a third successive term in the face of a stiff challenge from the Mizo National Front.
 
Polling began at 7 a.m in three constituencies of Maoist-affected Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh amid tight security, while in the remaining 227 of the 230 Assembly seats polling began at 8 a.m.
 
The polling will end in the three constituencies -- Baihar, Lanji and Paraswada -- at 3 p.m, while it will continue till 5 p.m in all the other constituencies.
 
In Madhya Pradesh, though the contest is mainly between the BJP and the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are also in the fray. 
 
Among the 2,907 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has fielded candidates in all 230 seats, while the Congress is contesting in 229 seats leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for the Sharad Yadav-led Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
 
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the SP is contesting in 51 seats. There are 1,102 independent candidates.
 
In the last polls, of the 230 seats, the BJP won 165, Congress 58, BSP four and Independents three. 
 
Over five crore registered voters in Madhya Pradesh -- 2,63,01,300 men, 2,41,30,390 women and 1,389 of the third gender -- are eligible to vote in today's polls.
 
In Mizoram, polling began at 7 a.m. for all 40 seats in the Assembly and will end at 4 p.m.
 
According to senior police officials, around 11,100 security personnel comprising central paramilitary and state security forces have been deployed across the state to ensure smooth polling and prevent any untoward incident.
 
In all 768,181 voters, including 393,685 women, would decide the electoral fate of the 209 candidates in the state, of whom 15 are women. In 2013, only six women had contested and none were successful. 
 
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Besides the two national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), many regional and local parties have fielded candidates in most of the 40 assembly constituencies. They include the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), People's Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and Meghalaya-based National People's Party (NPP). 
 
However, the main contest is likely to be between the ruling Congress and the MNF. Both the parties have fielded 40 candidates each. 
 
The BJP, which is trying to make inroads in the state, has fielded candidates in 39 constituencies. 
 
Except for 10 years -- 1998-2003 and 2003-2008 -- the Congress has been in power in Mizoram since it became a full-fledged state in 1987. 
 
Counting of votes in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram will be taken up on December 11 along with Chhattisgarh, where polling was held on  November 12 and 20, and Rajasthan and Telangana, where voting will be held on December 7.
 
The term of the Assembly in Chhattisgarh is due to expire on January 5, 2019; Madhya Pradesh on January 7, 2019; Rajasthan on January 20, 2019 and Mizoram on December 15, 2018.
 
In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) decided to go in for early polls and, accordingly, the Governor of the State had dissolved the Assembly with immediate effect on September 6, 2018, nearly nine months before its term was to end.
 
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Man lynched in Madhya Pradesh for 'stealing peacocks'

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A 58-year-old man was beaten to death by a mob in Madhya Pradesh's Neemuch district on suspicion of stealing peacocks, police said on Saturday. Nine people have been arrested in connection with the case.
 
Police also said that they have recovered four peacock carcasses following the incident in Lasuriya Aatri village on Friday night.
 
Kukdeshwar police station's Inspector Anuradha Grewal told IANS that the mob thrashed three people for stealing peacocks, leading to the death of one of them -- Heera Lal -- on way to the hospital.
 
According to the police officer, the peacock carcasses were recovered from the three people, while nine of the 10 accused in the lynching had been arrested.
 
In recent days, three people were beaten in Neemuch and their motorcycle set ablaze after accusations they had stolen a goat. Police have arrested eight people in this connection.
 
Concerned at the rising incidence of mob violence in the state, Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Saturday said that his government is looking at bringing an anti-lynching law.
 
IANS
 

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Special court grants bail to Akash Vijayvargiya

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Madhya Pradesh BJP MLA Akash Vijayvargiya, who was arrested for assaulting a civic official in Indore with a cricket bat, was granted bail by a special court on Saturday.
 
Additional Sessions Judge Suresh Singh granted bail to Vijayvargiya, son of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, in two cases -- assault and leading a protest without permission, district court prosecution public relation officer (PRO) Yogesh Tiwari said.
 
Granting bail, the court asked the MLA to furnish a personal bail bond of Rs 50,000 in the assault case and Rs 20,000 in the other case. 
 
Seeking bail for their clients, Vijayvargiya's lawyers said according to a Supreme Court order, the offences which do not invite jail term of 7 years were bailable from police stations.
 
They contended that the MLA has been framed falsely. He has been falsely implicated with an aim to sully his image, they argued.
 
Opposing the bail plea, district prosecution officer Rajendra Upadhyaya said the MLA's act was pre-meditated and was unbecoming of a lawmaker. He countered the defence argument that it was an emotional outburst.
 
People have elected him to make laws not to take the law into his own hands in a public place, Upadhyaya said. "Bail to him will send a wrong signal to the society," he contended.
 
The prosecution said that, in fact, Parliament had made sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty)of IPC under which Vijayvargiya has been accused, non-bailable in 2005.
 
Besides, the MLA has been accused under sections 294 (abusing), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 147 (rioting), 148 (armed with deadly weapons) and 427 (causing damage to property) of IPC.
 
He was booked on Wednesday on different counts. Later Vijayvargiya was charged under two more sections 332 and 427 of IPC.
 
In another case for which he was officially arrested in judicial custody on Thursday, Akash has been charged under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the IPC. He had led and organised a protest against power cuts on June 4 without taking the permission from the authorities.
 
On Thursday, the Indore sessions court refused to hear his bail plea, saying it had no jurisdiction and he should approach the special court set up in Bhopal to hear the cases against MPs and MLAs.
 
On a notification of the Supreme Court, special courts have been set up in several states for a speedy hearing of cases against legislators.
 
IANS
 

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8-year-old's rape and murder stuns Bhopal

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Amid the ongoing furore over a child's rape and brutal killing in Aligarh, a similar incident was reported from Bhopal, where the body of an eight-year-old girl was recovered from a drain in Kamla Nagar area on Sunday.
 
Police said an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI), a head constable and four constables have been suspended for ill-treating the victim's parents when they went to lodge a complaint. 
 
According to the police, the minor, a resident of Mandwa Basti in Kamla Nagar Police Station area, left her home on Saturday evening to fetch some grocery. When she did not return till late night, her parents, who work as labourers, reached the police to lodge a report but they refused.
 
The police got active only after receiving a call from the area's corporator around 11 p.m. The girl's body was recovered from a drain on Sunday morning. The post-mortem report revealed the child was strangled to death after the rape. 
 
Public Relations Minister P. C. Sharma who visited the hospital after the incident admitted the child's life could have been saved had the police acted promptly.
 
Additional Superintendent of Police, Akhil Patel said the police personnel have been suspended for not taking immediate action on the complaint. 
 
State Home Minister Bala Bachchan said a suspect who lived near the victim's house has been identified. But since he was absconding, his family members have been detained. All out efforts are being made to arrest him. 
 
This is the second such incident in Madhya Pradesh in two days. Another minor girl was raped and killed in Ujjain on Friday. The accused was arrested on Saturday.
 
Newly-elected MP Pragya Thakur visited the victim's family and expressed grief over the tragedy. She also demanded strict action against the accused.
 
Chief Minister Kamal Nath has assured quick action and all help to the family.
 
IANS
 

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Madhya Pradesh farmers begin 3-day stir, supplies affected

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Milk and vegetable supplies in Madhya Pradesh are likely to be affected with farmers in the state holding a three-day protest to press the Kamal Nath government to fulfil its loan waiver promise.
 
Madhya Pradesh's Congress government had promised to waive farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh ahead of the Assembly elections. 
 
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) state chief Anil Yadav said the promise was yet to be fulfilled, as many farmers were still getting notices from banks threatening to declare them defaulters. 
 
The farmers are also asking for implementation of the Swaminathan panel recommendations and minimum support price (MSP) for their produce.
 
Protesters said supplies were disrupted in Dewas, Dhar, Ujjain and Rajgarh on the first day of the stir on Wednesday. 
 
State Agriculture Minister Sachin Yadav met the protesting farmers on Tuesday evening, but failed to persuade them to end the demonstration. BKU leaders insisted that they wanted to meet the Chief Minister to discuss their demands. 
 
IANS
 

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BJP hands crushing defeat to Congress in MP

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The Congress humiliation is complete. Madhya Pradesh joined the other heartland states in bowing to the Modi brand of "nationalism" by handing all but one of the 29 Lok Sabha seats to the BJP. Barring Chhindwara that returned the sole Congress candidate Nakul Nath, the BJP swept all including the Guna seat.
 
The Congress had won the two seats of Chhindwara and Guna in 2014. In the next year's bye-election, Congress leader Kantilal Bhuria wrested back the Ratlam-Jhabua seat to take the tally to three.
 
It will be the first time that Lok Sabha will be without a member from the Scindia family from erstwhile Gwalior state. Even more humiliating for the Scindias is the defeat of a scion at the hands of a former worker of the Congress and old fan of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Krishnapal Yadav. 
 
Scindia was projected as a popular choice as a youthful Chief ministerial candidate in the run-up to the assembly elections last year. He failed to vindicate that tag. 
 
Kantilal Bhuria, the former Union Minister who had won a bye-election in 2015 to raise the Congress tally to 3 out of 29, seems to have lost his hold on the constituency. This would be Bhuria's second defeat in his career.
 
Kamal Nath, who retained the PCC chief's post even after becoming the chief minister, is now being accused of focusing on personal interest. Kamal Nath now makes a debut in the assembly. But the BJP is already baying for his blood. The state BJP chief who just retained his Jabalpur Lok Sabha seat has already demanded Kamal Nath's resignation on moral grounds. 
 
There are murmurs within the Congress too on why Kamal Nath was allowed to retain two posts. But given the frictions in the Congress, it would be hard to believe the results would be any different particularly after the Modi undercurrent swept all states.
 
Chhindwara had remained loyal to the Congress bastion even during the earlier sweep that was witnessed 42 years ago. In the elections held in 1977 to mark the end of the Emergency, the undivided Madhya Pradesh had returned 39 Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) candidates while Congress had to be content with only Chhindwara. The winner for the Congress in that poll was Gargi Shankar Mishra. 
 
After the carving out of Chhattisgarh, which got 11 of the 40 seats from the mother-state, the sole Madhya Pradesh seat going to Congress out of 29 is Chhindwara. With an improved performance over 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has tossed up quite a few questions about the Congress' strategy and its execution in Madhya Pradesh. Nakul, son of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has defeated his BJP rival Nattanshah Kawreti in Chhindwara.
 
The Congress owes its supporters an explanation for frittering away in less than six months the advantage of returning to power after 15 years. Chief Minister Kamal Nath showed a lot of restraint to turn an unruly organisation into a fighting unit. But he has apparently fallen short of expectations in an election that was fought on emotive issues rather than political logic and public issues. The current election will be remembered for polarisation, acrimony and unprecedented tension.
 
The complete failure of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi to make an impact in the state may have surprised even the BJP supporters. Rahul Gandhi had made seven trips to the state and Priyanka one over the past two months.
 
The Congress had many chinks in its armour. It was said the Congress had won the assembly elections in spite of itself because factionalism was rampant when it squared up against a considerably weakened BJP -- thanks to Shivraj Singh's inept third stint. 
 
Now the even the ruling party members privately concede the Congress markedly benefited from the BJP's incumbency. Many faces of the BJP had put off the voter. The strategy to replace most of the old hands, including some sitting MPs, seems to have worked wonders for the BJP. But many pollsters say the candidates of the party did not matter this time around. It was just brand Modi that counted.
 
IANS
 

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BJP spokesperson calls Gandhi 'father of the nation of Pakistan', suspended

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The BJP on Friday suspended party spokesperson from Madhya Pradesh Anil Soumitra from its primary membership for calling Mahatma Gandhi the "father of the nation of Pakistan".
 
In a Facebook post earlier in the day, Soumitra wrote: Mahatma Gandhi was the father of the nation, but of Pakistan. India has had crores of sons like him, some worthy, some unworthy."
 
Quizzed about the post, Soumitra told reporters: "Nobody known or unknown has the honour of being the father of India. So Mahatma Gandhi could be the father of the nation, but of Pakistan. Everyone is proud to be the son of the Indian motherland." 
 
Soumitra's remark came a day after BJP candidate from Bhopal, Sadhvi Pragya told reporters during a road show in Agar-Malwa: "Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot and will remain a patriot. People calling him a terrorist should instead look within. Such people will be given a befitting reply in these elections." 
 
She later apologised for her "personal remarks". "I respect Mahatma Gandhi, his contribution to the country cannot be forgotten. If my statement has hurt anyone, I apologise for it. My intention was not to hurt anyone, I was misquoted," she said.
 
IANS
 

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Pragya calls Godse 'deshbhakt', BJP seeks public apology as Congress attacks

BJP's Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur on Thursday kicked up a major row by describing Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse as a "deshbhakt" (patriot), a comment which her party immediately condemned and asked her to apologise for her remark.
Pragya Singh Thakur  (Photo: IANS)
Pragya Singh Thakur (Photo: IANS)
BJP's Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on Thursday kicked up a major row by describing Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse as a "deshbhakt" (patriot), a comment which her party immediately condemned and asked her to apologise for her remark.
 
In response, Thakur only said: "Apne sangathan BJP mein nishtha rakhti hun, uski karyakarta hum aur party ki line meri line hai (I have faith in my organisation BJP, am its worker and the party's line is my line." 
 
The comment by Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blast case, provided fodder to the Opposition Congress to target the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
"Nathuram Godse was a 'deshbhakt', is a 'deshbhakt' and will remain a 'deshbhakt'. People calling him a terrorist should instead look within. Such people will be given a befitting reply in these elections," Thakur told reporters in Bhopal.
 
She was commenting on the recent remarks of actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) president Kamal Haasan who called Godse the first Hindu terrorist of Independent India. "The first terrorist post-Independence was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu. It started from there. He killed Mahatma Gandhi," Haasan had said.
 
Unhappy over Thakur's controversial comment, the BJP immediately condemned it.
 
"We completely disagree with the statement she has made with regard to Mahatma Gandhi and we strongly condemn it. The BJP will ask her why she made such a statement. It would be proper for her to tender a public apology for this objectionable statement," BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narsimha Rao told reporters at the party headquarters in Delhi.
 
BJP media cell in-charge for Madhya Pradesh Lokendra Parashar said: "The BJP does not agree with her statement. The party will find out about the circumstances in which she made this statement. One who killed Mahatma Gandhi can't be a patriot."
 
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Slamming the BJP for Thakur's comment, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala called it an "insult to the country" and said "India's soul is under attack from the successors of Nathuram Godse, the BJP ruling dispensation."
 
He said the "BJP leaders are describing the murderer of the Father of the Nation as a true nationalist. This is an insult to the country and an attack on Gandhi's ideology."
 
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who is pitted against Thakur in Bhopal, termed her comment as "sedition" and demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.
 
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in a tweet, asked: "If the killer of the father of the nation is a patriot does that make Gandhi an anti-national?"
 
It is not the first controversy that Thakur has been embroiled in. She had earlier said that Maharashtra ATS officer Hemant Karkare, who had interrogated her in the Malegaon case and was later killed during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, had died due to her "curse."
 
Thakur had also said that she was happy for her role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Her comments had earned her a 72-hour-long ban on campaigning ahead of polling for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat on May 12.
 
Following this, the BJP had to keep restraining her and insulate her from direct media interactions. 
 
IANS
 

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Stray dogs kill minor boy in Bhopal

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A six-year-old boy was attacked and killed by stray dogs while he was playing near his house in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal, police said.
 
The incident took place on Friday evening when the child was playing near his house in Sangam Colony. When he did not return home, his mother got worried and went out to search for him and found that stray dogs were clawing at him.
 
While the mother was trying to save the boy, she also got injured but was successful in shooing away the dogs. 
 
But the child was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
 
Awadhpuri Police Station in-charge M. L. Bhati told reporters that police is taking strict action on the complaint of the victim's family. 
 
IANS
 

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Sadhus hold rally in MP in support of Digvijaya Singh

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Sadhus in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday took out a roadshow in support of former Chief Minister and Congress candidate from this Lok Sabha constituency Digvijaya Singh.
 
Singh also took part in the roadshow which covered Peer Gate and Sankari lanes in old Bhopal. 
 
Namdeo Das Tyagi alias Computer Baba, who was leading the group, said that sadhus from across the country have come to ensure Singh's victory in the elections to be held here on May 12. 
 
On Tuesday, a group of sadhus performed 'hatha yoga' and did 'havan'. 
 
Singh is contesting against Bharatiya Janata Party's Pragya Thakur. The BJP has been winning the Bhopal parliamentary seat since 1984, while the Congress has won six out the 16 elections held here so far. 
 
IANS
 

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'Saffron terror' documentary banned in Bhopal

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The Election Commission on Monday banned the exhibition of a documentary film titled "Bhagva Atankvad ka Bhramjal (The Delusion of Saffron Terror)", featuring Malegaon blast accused and BJP's Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.
 
The order by the Chief Electoral Officer came on a complaint by the Congress.
 
Social organisation Bharat Vichar Manch had announced that the documentary, made by Mumbai-based Rajeev Pandey, would be launched at a local hotel here on Monday. 
 
The film purportedly shows Swami Aseemanand, the accused in the Ajmer shrine and Samjhauta Express blasts, and Thakur in police custody and how the previous Congress-led Central government had sought to "implicate" them in terror cases.
 
The Congress had on Monday afternoon approached the CEO against the film, and the poll panel ordered a ban. Police from the M. P. Nagar police station reached the hotel and stopped the screening.
 
IANS
 

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EC serves notice on Pragya Thakur for remarks about Hemant Karkare

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The Election Commission in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday served a notice on BJP's Lok Sabha candidate Sadhvi Pragya Thakur over her controversial remarks about Hemant Karkare, the senior police officer who was killed in the terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
 
The Commission served the notice even after she had withdrawn the remarks and asked why action should not be taken against her for breach of election code. Thakur has been given 24 hours to respond. 
 
The District Returning Officer Sudam Khade was asked if the notice could be served despite her withdrawal of the remarks. He said the commission would take a call on receiving her reply.
 
Pragya Thakur had on Thursday bragged that Karkare died during the attacks as she "cursed" him for torturing her. But once the statement caused a furore among the BJP's supporters and adversaries alike, she apologised for the remarks. She said those were personal observations since she was tortured while facing trial for alleged involvement in the bomb blasts in Malegaon.
 
State chief electoral officer V. L. Kanta Rao said, "We took suo motu cognisance of the statement and sought a report from the assistant returning officer (ARO) on the matter. We got the report this morning and we have issued notice."
 
The organisers of the meeting addressed by Thakur were also served the notice, said the commission. Can the commission act against the candidate if she failed to respond to the notice? The commission was apparently unsure, but said that it would be decided once the deadline for the candidate's response passed.
 
One of the officials attached to the Election Commission said the candidates and the organisers are granted permission for meeting certain conditions while the Model Code of Conduct is in force.
 
Use of objectionable language to defame a person was prohibited and the candidate could even face disqualification.
 
The BJP has been facing the supporters' flak for fielding Pragya who has embarrassed the leadership.
 
But the Sadhvi found an unexpected supporter in Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was asked why Pragya was given the ticket despite charges of violence against her. Modi said if the person responsible for 1984 riots against Sikhs could be made the Prime Minister what was wrong in fielding Sadhvi. 
 
Pragya's rival Digvijaya Singh has refused to speak about her comments. He has, however, questioned the BJP leaders of their comments about 'Hindu terrorism'. He said the BJP president owes an answer on how a home secretary to the Union Government who first officially used the term Hindu terror was made a party member and subsequently made a minister. 
 
Pragya, meanwhile, took a cue from the PM's remarks and launched an offensive against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. She said Kamal Nath was involved in the 1984 carnage after Indira Gandhi's death. He should know how she was tortured in custody.
 
IANS
 

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Karkare died because of my curse, says Sadhvi Pragya

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BJP's Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate and 2008 Malegaon bomb blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on Friday sparked off a controversy by saying that Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who lost his life in the 26/11 attack, had died due to "her curse".
 
The statement by Thakur, who had joined the BJP on Wednesday and was hours later named its candidate against former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal, drew flak from opposition parties like the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, who demanded that that the party apologise for it.
 
At a public meeting in Bhopal, Thakur, recounting the episode of her arrest and interrogation in the Malegaon case, said that she was in a Mumbai jail and the head of the probe had called Karkare and said that she should be released as there was no evidence against her.
 
"Then Karkare asked me various questions and I replied 'God knows'. At this, Karkare said would he have to go to God to get the answers. Then, I told him that he would be destroyed and he was cursed... within a month and a half he fell victim to the terrorists' bullets. 
 
"Hindus believe that that a period of one and a half month after anyone's birth or death is of ritual impurity. When Karkare asked me these questions, this period started for him and ended with him being killed by terrorists," she said. 
 
Condemning the comments, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party came out demanding that the BJP should apologise for the comment.
 
Congress leader Sanjay Jha accused Thakur of mocking Karkare's death.
 
"I live in Mumbai. We saw 26/11 at close quarters. ATS Chief Hemant Karkare stood up to save us from Pakistani terrorists. He was killed by them. BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur mocks his death," Jha said in a tweet.
 
The AAP said the nation is proud of Karkare who laid down his life fighting against the Pakistani terrorists during the 26/11 attack. "BJP must apologize for insulting Hemant Karkare."
 
AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal called the comments "disgraceful" and said her comment needed to be condemned in strongest terms.
 
"BJP is showing its true colours and it must be shown its place now," he tweeted.
 
MIM President Asaduddin Owaisi also questioned the BJP for Thakur's comment.
 
"Hemant Karkare died fighting people not very different from yourself. He didn't die because a terror accused 'felt bad' and 'cursed' him. The man died fighting to protect our rights to vote and elect a government. How dare BJP insult our martyrs like this?" he asked.
 
IANS
 

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BJP fields Sadhvi Pragya against Digvijaya Singh of Congress

Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur at the BJP office in Bhopal, on April 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur at the BJP office in Bhopal, on April 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday fielded Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, against senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh from the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to the polls in the sixth phase on May 12.
 
The announcement was made hours after Sadhvi Pragya joined the BJP and said that she would "fight against those who are conspiring against the nation."
 
After joining the party, she said: "I have formally joined the BJP; I will contest the elections and will win. We will fight against those who are conspiring against the nation. We will work together against those people to save our nation." 
 
According to a report, she met former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other senior BJP leaders at the party office here on Wednesday. 
 
There was speculation that she may be pitted by the BJP against former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, who is the Congress candidate from Bhopal. 
 
Bhopal's sitting BJP MP Alok Sanjar welcomed the decision and said that the party members would support Sadhvi Pragya and work hard to ensure her victory in the Lok Sabha polls. 
 
Sadhvi Pragya, along with Lt Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, was charged in the Malegaon blasts that killed seven people and injured 80 others in a Muslim locality in Maharashtra in September 2008. She spent nine years in jail in connection with the case and is presently out on bail. 
 
Sanjar said the charges levelled against Sadhvi Pragya were false. "A woman was harassed. Now it's time for revenge," Sanjar told reporters. 
 
Sadhvi Pragya has always remained in the news for making controversial remarks. She had been associated with the RSS-linked youth outfit Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the 'Durga Vahini', the women's wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
 
At the time of her arrest, Sadhvi Pragya was charged with allegedly planning the Malegaon blasts and providing a two-wheeler that was used to plant a bomb.
 
A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Maharashtra has dropped the charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Sadhvi Pragya but framed charges under the provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against her.
 
The BJP has been holding this seat since 1989. The Congress had last won the seat in 1984 when K .N. Pradhan defeated Laxminarayan Sharma of the BJP by over 1 lakh votes. 
 
IANS
 

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IT raids on MP CM's aides continue for third day

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Income Tax Department officials here on Tuesday continued to search for a third day the premises of close aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
 
The officials had on Monday recovered Rs 14.6 crore in cash, informed sources said.
 
The department has seized cash and documents from Ashwini Sharma, manager of an NGO. He has his office and residence in the Platinum Plaza building in which the Chief Minister's Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Praveen Kakkar resides. 
 
A huge amount of cash, gold and silver jewellery were recovered from Kakkar's Indore house and Sharma's Bhopal house, the sources said. 
 
The searches were started at the residences and offices of Kakkar, Sharma and a person called Prateek Joshi on Sunday. 
 
IT officials interrogated Kakkar till late on Monday. 
 
IANS
 

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Ahead of LS polls, CBDT detects unaccounted cash racket

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

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IT raids premises of MP CM's OSD, others; seizes cash

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In a major crackdown on alleged hawala money, Income Tax Department teams on Sunday carried out raids at over 50 places in Madhya Pradesh's Indore and Bhopal, including the residence of Chief Minister Kamal Nath's Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Praveen Kakkar, and in New Delhi and seized a huge amount of cash.
 
A senior IT department source told IANS: "About 300 IT Department personnel from New Delhi were given the task after receiving a credible information about the hawala money."
 
The IT officials raided Kakkar's office on the sixth floor of Platinum Plaza building and his residence in Nadir Colony in Bhopal. Kakkar's house and office in Indore were also searched, sources said.
 
Kakkar, an ex-police officer and President's Medal recipient, had also served as OSD to former Union Minister Kanti Lal Bhuria.
 
Similarly, the residence of NGO manager Ashwini Sharma on Platinum Plaza's fourth floor was also searched. The official also identified luxury cars reportedly belonging to Sharma.
 
It was for the first time that the IT teams were accompanied by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers.
 
The source said that the searches are linked to suspected movement of hawala money during the ongoing polls season and tax evasion.
 
Sources said that besides Kakkar and Sharma, premises of Kamal Nath's former adviser Rajendra Miglani and executives linked to his brother-in-law's firm Moser Bayer and his nephew Ratul Puri's company were also searched.
 
The sources said that the documents seized during the searches were being scrutinised in detail and then it will summon officials later for questioning.
 
Official sources also said that searches were also being conducted against Kolkata-based businessman Paras Mal Lodha.
 
Last week, Puri was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in the national capital in connection with the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal case.
 
The source said that the IT Department also got tips from Puri's questioning and thus planned a series of raids in the state.
 
IANS
 

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Former MP Chief Minister Babulal Gaur hospitalised

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Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur was admitted to a hospital after he complained of uneasiness, family sources said on Sunday.
 
Gaur was taken to a private hospital on Saturday night where his condition was said to be stable. 
 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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IT raids properties in MP linked to Kamal Nath's OSD

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Income Tax officials from Delhi on Sunday raided several properties in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal and Indore which were linked to Praveen Kakkar, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
 
The raids which are still underway, were conducted simultaneously at the private residences of Kakkar and Kamal Nath's other aides, at Bhopal's Platinum Plaza building's sixth floor, and at a office in Nadir Colony in Vijaynagar area of Indore, informed sources said.
 
Kakkar is a former officer of the Madhya Pradesh Police. He has also been conferred the Rashtrapati Award. 
 
He has previously served as OSD to former Union Minister Kantilal Bhuria.
 
IANS
 

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Congress announces 9 candidates in Madhya Pradesh

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The Congress has announced its candidates for nine of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh, fielding former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal.
 
The announcement was made on Saturday night.
 
Former Minister and Lok Sabha member Kantilal Bhuria was given the ticket to contest on Ratlam (reserved) seat.
 
Meenakshi Natrajan will contest from Mandsaur, Ramu Tekam from Betul (reserved), Kavita Singh from Khajuraho, Kiran Ahirwar from Tikamgarh (reserved), Pramila Singh from Shahdol, Shailendra Diwan from Hoshangabad and Madhu Bhagat from Balaghat.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh get new NCLT benches

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The Government has approved the establishment of two new benches of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), one at Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh and the other at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. 
 
The step has been taken keeping in view the increasing caseload, especially under the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code 2016, an official press release said.
 
The jurisdiction of the Bench at Amaravati will be the state of Andhra Pradesh and that of Indore will be the state of Madhya Pradesh. At present Andhra Pradesh comes under the Jurisdiction of NCLT Bench at Hyderabad and Madhya Pradesh comes under the jurisdiction of NCLT Bench, Ahmedabad.  
 
It is expected that the creation of new benches will enable faster disposal of cases, the release said.
 
The NCLT, which has been set up under the Companies Act, 2013, has provided an effective and time-bound adjudication mechanism to deal with matters related to the Companies Act, 2013, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 and the LLP Act, 2008.  
 
The Act provides for the appointment of a President and such number of Members as the Government may deem necessary. As on date, there are 17 Judicial Members and 10 Technical Members.  Presently, 14 numbers of NCLT Benches have been established, including the Principal Bench in New Delhi, and three recently set up benches at Jaipur, Kochi and Cuttack.
 
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Cabinet nod for AAI surrendering its encroached land at Bhopal Airport to state government

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The Union Cabinet has cleared a proposal of Airports Authority of India (AAI) for surrendering its encroached land, measuring 106.76 acres situated at Gandhi Nagar, Bhopal to the State Government of Madhya Pradesh.
 
It is in lieu of 96.56 acres of land already handed over by the Government of M.P. The remaining 10.20 acres (approximately) of land will be handed over by the state government to AAI, an official press release said.
 
In lieu of AAI’s 106.76 acres encroached land, the Government of M.P. has agreed to provide land measuring 96.56 acres approximately, which is contiguous to the existing land of Bhopal Airport and can be utilized by AAI for aviation purposes. 
 
This will help in freeing up AAI’s land measuring 106.76 acres which is already being utilized by the state government for various purposes such as establishment of government offices, public amenities services, and for rehabilitation of migrated Sindhi families. 
 
"In lieu of this land, as of now, the State Government has agreed to provide 96.56 acres of land, contiguous to Bhopal Airport, to AAI, for aviation purposes. Further, the land offered by State Government in lieu of this land can be judicially utilized by the AAI for aviation-related activities. Hence, the approval will benefit people at large," the release added.
 
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Congress governments in MP, Rajasthan to withdraw cases against Dalits

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Heeding to BSP chief Mayawati's ultimatum, the Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on Tuesday said they will withdraw cases filed against Dalits during the 'Bharat Bandh' last year that witnessed large-scale violence.
 
The decisions were announced by the two governments a day after Mayawati threatened to take back the BSP's support to them if they did not withdraw the cases filed against the Dalits during the 'Bharat Bandh' called by Dalit groups.
 
The Madhya Pradesh government will withdraw all the "political cases" filed by the previous BJP government against workers of political parties and Dalit activists, Law Minister P. C. Sharma said.
 
"We (Congress) have been fighting (against the BJP government). Irrespective of any party, those who have been fighting the BJP government which had sent people to jail... those political cases will be withdrawn," he said. 
 
Last week, Sharma had indicated that the government was drafting a proposal to withdraw "politically motivated" cases against political and trade union leaders filed during the BJP's rule during the last 15 years. 
 
In Jaipur, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said his government will revoke cases registered against Dalits during the Bharat Bandh of April 2 last year after reviewing them.
 
Speaking to the media at the Congress office, Gehlot said: "Our government will review all such cases to ensure that innocents are released."
 
He said that Mayawati's demand was valid. The previous government had framed cases against many people "and hence our government will review all such cases".
 
"In fact, I am thankful to Mayawati for giving support to our party. She herself took the initiative to extend support to the Congress and hence I am thankful to her."
 
The BSP has two members in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly in which the Congress has 114 MLAs and is two short of the majority mark.
 
The Samajwadi Party has one MLA and has also extended support to the government. There are four independents. 
 
In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 99 members and its pre-poll ally Rashtriya Lok Dal has one MLA. There are six BSP MLAs and 13 independents. 
 
The Congress had supported the protest in April 2018 against the changes to the SC/ST Act brought in by the Supreme Court which were later nullified by a legislation passed in Parliament. 
 
IANS
 

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MP to withdraw 'political cases' after Mayawati's threat

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The Madhya Pradesh government will withdraw all the "political cases" filed by the previous BJP government against workers of political parties and Dalit activists, Law Minister P.  C. Sharma said on Tuesday.
 
The announcement came a day after BSP chief Mayawati issued an ultimatum to new Congress governments in the state and in Rajasthan that her party will withdraw support to them if they do not revoke cases filed against "innocent people" during the April 2 Bharat Bandh of last year called by Dalit groups. 
 
"We (Congress) have been fighting (against the BJP government). Irrespective of any party those who have been fighting the BJP government which had sent people to jail... those political cases will be withdrawn," Sharma said. 
 
On Monday, Mayawati issued a statement saying if the newly elected governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan do not act swiftly and withdraw the cases against innocent persons framed in Bharat Bandh, the Bahujan Samaj Party may have to reconsider extending outside support to the Congress governments. 
 
Last week, Sharma had indicated that the government was drafting a proposal to withdraw "politically motivated" cases against political and trade union leaders filed during the BJP's rule during the last 15 years. 
 
The BSP has two members in the 230-member Assembly in which the Congress has 114 MLAs and is two short of the majority mark.
 
The Samajwadi Party has one MLA and has also extended support to the government. There are four independents. 
 
In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 99 members and its pre-poll ally Rashtriya Lok Dal has one MLA. There are six BSP MLAs and 13 independents. 
 
The Congress had supported the protest in April 2018 against the changes to the SC/ST Act brought in by the Supreme Court which were later nullified by a legislation passed in Parliament. 
 
IANS
 

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