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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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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. 
 
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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. 
 
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Kamal Nath expands Ministry, MP gets first Muslim minister in 15 years

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Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Tuesday expanded his cabinet inducting 28 ministers including Arif Aqueel, the lone Muslim face in the new council of ministers.
 
Aqueel, MLA from Bhopal North, is the first Muslim minister in the state after 15 years. 
 
Keeping the regional balance in view, Kamal Nath inducted nine MLAs from the Malwa Nivad region, six from central Madhya Pradesh, five representing the Gwalior-Chambal region and three from Bundelkhand in his cabinet. 
 
Governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath of office to the new ministers at the Raj Bhavan here. 
 
The ministerial team includes 11 loyalists of the Chief Minister, nine from Congress veteran's Digvijay Singh's camp, seven from Jyotiraditya Scindia's camp, and one from former state party chief Arun Yadav's camp.
 
There are only two females in the cabinet -- Vijay Laxmi Sadho from Maheshawr and Imarati Devi from Dabra.
 
The cabinet expansion was done after both Kamal Nath and Scindia held discussions with the party central leadership. 
 
Congratulating the new ministers, both Kamal Nath and Scindia asked them to work towards fulfilling the Congress' commitment of ensuring the progress and welfare of the state. 
 
The session of the newly elected Assembly is scheduled to begin from January 7.
 
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Kamal Nath expands his ministry, 28 legislators take oath

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Newly-elected Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath expanded his ministry on Tuesday with 28 new Ministers taking oath.
 
Governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath to the new ministers at the Raj Bhavan here.
 
Arif Aqueel, MLA from Bhopal North, is the only Muslim face in the Chief Minister's team. It is after 15 years that a Muslim has been inducted in the ministry. 
 
The ministerial team includes 11 loyalists of the Chief Minister, nine from Digvijay Singh's camp, seven from Jyotiraditya Scindia's camp, and one from Arun Yadav's camp.
 
Among those who have been inducted are Arif Aqueel, Sajjan Singh Verma, Bala Bachchan, Lakhan Sing Yadav, Vijayalaxmi Sadho, Hukum Singh Karada, Govind Rajput, Pradeep Jayaswal, and Imarti Devi, and others. 
 
The Congress returned to power in the state after 15 years.
 
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Kamal Nath defends his remarks on jobs for MP youth

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Unperturbed by the attack on him for his remark that youth from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are taking away the jobs in Madhya Pradesh, new state Chief Minister Kamal Nath defended his statement saying he has not said anything new.
 
"I meant to say that local people should get preference (in employment). And this is everywhere. I did not say anything new. It is everywhere. Is it not so in Gujarat (that locals get preference in jobs)?," he told reporters.
 
Kamal Nath was asked about the controversy over his statement that his government would give incentives for investors who provide 70 per cent of the jobs for youth from Madhya Pradesh in a bid to check outsiders from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh taking away jobs here.
 
The remarks triggered a storm with leaders including those belonging to Congress allies like SP and RJD attacking him saying it was wrong and unfortunate. BJP leaders also joined in the attack and demanded Congress President Rahul Gandhi's apology.
 
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Kamal Nath waives farmers' loans soon after taking over MP's rein

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Immediately after taking over as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath on Monday waived loans of farmers to the tune of Rs 2 lakh each, delivering on the Congress pre-poll promise of cancelling farm loans within 10 days of coming to power.
 
"The Madhya Pradesh government hereby takes the decision of waiving of loans taken by farmers up to Rs 2 lakh from nationalised and cooperative banks," read the letter signed by Rajesh Rajora, Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Horticulture and Food Processing.
 
Kamal Nath, who was instrumental in the Congress' victory in Madhya Pradesh, was on the day sworn in as its 18th Chief Minister, bringing to an end 15-year Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule in the central state. 
 
Riding on its promise of farm loan waiver, the Congress won 114 seats, two seats short of majority in the 230-member House. 
 
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Kamal Nath takes oath as MP CM, ends 15-year-old BJP rule

 
Kamal Nath takes oath as Chief Minister of MP
Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, who steered his party to victory in Madhya Pradesh, was on Monday sworn in as its 18th Chief Minister, bringing to an end 15 years of BJP rule in the state which had become the saffron party's stronghold.
 
The nine-time MP and former Union Minister was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Anandiben Patel at a function held at the Jambori Maidan on a day the Delhi High Court convicted Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, sparking calls that Kamal Nath should not be made Chief Minister. 
 
Accusing him of having had a hand in the riots in Delhi, the BJP and Akali Dal demanded that Kamal Nath should not be made the Chief Minister.
 
Asked about the demand, he told the media that he had been a Minister at the Centre in 1991 and later too but wondered why demands were being made now. "There has been no charge. There has been no case. Why now? I see a hidden hand."
 
The 72-year-old Kamal Nath, who represented Chhindwara for nine terms in the Lok Sabha, was the only one to take the oath even as the other contender to the Chief Minister's post, Jyotiraditya Scindia, was present. The ceremony was held an hour behind schedule at 2.30 p.m. 
 
The brief ceremony was attended by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H. D. Deve Gowda, outgoing Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, another former BJP Chief Minister Babulal Gaur and a galaxy of national leaders in a show of opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
Among the opposition stalwarts present were NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and his Karnataka counterpart H. D. Kumaraswamy, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi, JMM chief Hemant Soren, DMK leaders M. K. Stalin, T. R. Baalu and Kanimozhi, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and MP Raju Shetti.
 
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Congress leaders who were present included Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his deputy Sachin Pilot, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, Puducherry Chief Minster V. Narayanaswamy, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Minister D. K. Shivakumar, Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, UP Congress President Raj Babbar and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda 
 
BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, whose parties have extended support to the Congress government, were conspicuous by their absence. 
 
Earlier, Kamal Nath told the media that he had invited West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee personally but she expressed her inability because she was occupied with the rituals in connection with her mother's death anniversary.
 
Before the ceremony started, Kamal Nath greeted the leaders on the stage and held Shivraj Singh Chouhan's hand and greeted the people in which Scindia also joined. The scenes were lapped up by the hundreds of Congress activists and supporters gathered there. 
 
Representatives of various religions including saffron-clad saints were present at the function. Among them was the 'computer' baba who was offered a Minister of State status by the Chouhan government.
 
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Kamal Nath sworn in as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh

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Congress veteran Kamal Nath was on Monday sworn in as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh after his party won the Assembly elections, ending 15 years of BJP rule.
 
Attending the event were former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Rahul Gandhi as well as former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who warmly held Kamal Nath's hand as they waved to the crowds.
 
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Kamal Nath to be sworn in as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on December 17

File photo of Kamal Nath
File photo of Kamal Nath
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister-designate Kamal Nath will be sworn in at a ceremony here on December 17.
 
This was announced by the 72-year-old veteran Congress leader himself, outside Raj Bhavan here as he came out after meeting Governor Anandiben Patel.
 
The ceremony will be held at the Lal Parade Ground here.
 
The party won 114 seats in the 230-member House, two short of a simple majority, but secured support of a total of 121 MLAs, including Samajwadi Party - one, Bahujan Samaj Party - two, and four Independents.
 
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Rahul to decide on CMs in MP, Rajasthan

The newly-elected Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on Wednesday left to Congress President Rahul Gandhi the issue of deciding as to who will be the Chief Ministers in the two states.

Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi
The newly-elected Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on Wednesday left to Congress President Rahul Gandhi the issue of deciding as to who will be the Chief Ministers in the two states.
 
A resolution to this effect was passed at a meeting of the respective legislature parties in the presence of central observers and the Chief Ministerial aspirants -- Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh and Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan.
 
Congress leader Shobha Oza told reporters in Bhopal that the newly-elected MLAs passed a resolution urging Gandhi to take a call on the Chief Minister's name. The meeting was presided over by central observer A. K. Antony.
 
Similarly, the newly-elected legislators in Rajasthan also met in the presence of central observer K. C. Venugopal and adopted a resolution leaving the final decision to the party President.
 
While Gehlot and Pilot contested and won the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, both Nath and Scindia are members of Lok Sabha and did not contest the Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh.
 
In both the states, the party had not named any chief ministerial candidate ahead of the elections.
 
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Kamal Nath stakes claim to form government in MP

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Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath met Governor Anandiben Patel on Wednesday and staked his party's claim to form the next government in the state.
 
"We have staked claim," he told reporters after the meeting at Raj Bhavan. Asked who would be the Chief Minister, Kamal Nath shot back: "I don't know."
 
Late on Tuesday, Kamal Nath wrote to the Governor urging her to give him an appointment so that he could stake claim as the Congress had emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly with "majority support". 
 
The Congress won 114 seats, two short of a majority in the 230-member house. 
 
After the meeting with the Governor, Lok Sabha member and Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said, "Of course it would be a privilege" when he was asked whether he would like to be the Chief Minister.
 
He said the Congress, which has won 114 seats, has the legislative majority with the backing of all four Independents and three MLAs of BSP and SP.
 
Scindia, one of the contenders for chief ministership, also attacked outgoing Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
 
"You were claiming that BJP is going to win 200 seats this time. Even if we count all the BJP seats in all five states, the party has not crossed the 200 mark," he said.
 
Earlier on Wednesday, Kamal Nath said the top priority of new Congress government will be to work for "farmers and unemployed youth".
 
He said this after meeting the outgoing Chief Minister.
 
He added: "We have to create a new environment of trust in Madhya Pradesh." 
 
Asked about the farm loan waiver promised by the party within 10 days of taking power, he said: "Let the government be formed first."
 
Before meeting the Governor, Kamal Nath described Chouhan as "my friend" and said "he fought a good election".
 
Meanwhile, Chouhan tendered his resignation to the Governor taking moral responsibility for the party's electoral loss in the state.
 
"Ab mai mukt hoon. (Now I am free)... The responsibility of defeat is totally mine," Chouhan said.
 
"No one has got the mandate. Since we have also not got the mandate, we did not stake claim to form the government," Chouhan added. 
 
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Congress to form MP government as BJP concedes defeat; CM resigns

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The Congress is all set to form the government in Madhya Pradesh with the support of three MLAs of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) and four Independents.
 
Madhya Pradesh Congress President Kamal Nath would be meeting Governor Anandiben Patel to stake claim to form the new government.
 
Earlier, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, conceded defeat and resigned from his position.
 
After submitting his resignation to the Governor, Chouhan said: "I have tendered my resignation to the Governor. The responsibility of defeat is totally mine."
 
The Congress fell two short of the halfway mark when it won 114 seats as the battle went to the wire on Tuesday, with the BJP securing 109 seats in the 230-member Assembly. 
 
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party, which contested on their own, bagged two and one seats, respectively, in the final tally in Madhya Pradesh. 
 
Four Independent candidates, most of whom were Congress rebels, also won the election.
 
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Shobha Oza told reporters that the party has the support of 121 MLAs, including two BSP, one SP and four Independent MLAs.
 
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Congress to form MP government as Shivraj Singh Chouhan resigns

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The path for the formation of a Congress government in Madhya Pradesh was cleared with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan resigning from the post on Wednesday declaring that the BJP was not going to stake claim.
 
"As we have not got clear majority, we are not going to stake claim to form the government. And I am going to the Governor to resign as the Chief Minister," Chouhan said here.
 
Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Governor Anandiben Patel has invited Congress leader Kamal Nath, who on Tuesday night wrote to her that his party has emerged as the single largest party in the state and has majority support in the 230-member Assembly, staking claim.
 
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, whose party won two seats in the state, announced its support to the Congress on Wednesday. 
 
The Samajwadi Party (SP) which won one seat in the state also extended its support to the Congress. The announcement was made by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.
 
"The Samajwadi Party extends its support to the Congress to form a government in Madhya Pradesh," Yadav tweeted in Hindi on Wednesday.
 
According to the Election Commission, the final tally for the 230-seat Madhya Pradesh Assembly showed Congress with 114 seats, while the ruling BJP came close with 109 in a battle that went to the wire on Tuesday.
 
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Congress seeks meeting with Governor in MP to stake claim

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In a bid to outwit possible BJP moves, the Congress in Madhya Pradesh moved swiftly, seeking a meeting with the Governor claiming it has got majority support and should be invited to form the next government.
 
Madhya Pradesh Congress President Kamal Nath wrote a letter to Governor Anandiben Patel late on Tuesday and sought an early response from her. 
 
In his letter, he has said the Congress party as emerged as the single-largest party with majority support. "All the Independents have in addition assured support to the Congress party," he said.
 
"As President of the Pradesh Congress Committee I seek an appointment with your excellency late tonight as soon as the results are officially declared along with my senior leaders to apprise you and seek your permission to form the government in the state of Madhya Pradesh. I would be grateful for an early response to this communication."
 
In the 230-member Assembly, the Congress has won 77 seats and was leading in 37 seats. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 74 seats and was leading in 35 others. 
 
The Bahujan Samaj Party was leading in two seats and the Samajwadi Party won one seat. Independents, most of whom are Congress rebels, have won in three seats and leading in one. 
 
IANS
 

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IndiGo adds Bhopal and Jabalpur as new destinations

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo has announced plans to introduce non-stop flights on the Bhopal-Hyderabad and Jabalpur-Hyderabad routes with effect from January 2019.
 
A press release from the airline said it would also introduce a fourth daily return flight between Hyderabad and Tirupati.
 
Bhopal and Jabalpur will be the airline's 65th and 66th destinations and the third city in Madhya Pradesh after Indore that it will fly to.
 
Mr William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to announce Bhopal and Jabalpur as our 65th and 66th destinations effective January 2019. We will operate daily non-stop flights from Bhopal and Jabalpur to connect these cities with Hyderabad. We will also be introducing a 4th daily return flight between Hyderabad and Tirupati.” 
 
“IndiGo will continue to expand its network to meet the requirements of both business and leisure travellers wherever they demand it. It is our constant endeavour to provide more flexibility of choice to our customers...," he added.
 
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Assembly polls: Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram witness 75% polling

 
MP Assembly Elections: 5 cr voters to decide fate of state as polling begins
More than 75 percent of the electors in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram voted amidst tight security today to choose new legislative assemblies in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram -- two of the five states where crucial elections are being held just months of the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
 
Election Commission of India (ECI) officials said in New Delhi that 75% polling was recorded till 6 pm in 227 of the 230 constituencies as compared to 72.13% in the 2013 Assembly elections.
 
In the three Left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected constituencies of Baihar, Lalji and Paraswada, where polling was held from 7 am to 3 pm, the percentage of polling was reported as 78%, 79% and 80.06%, respectively.
 
The officials said that Mizoram recorded 75% voting by the close of polling at 5 pm. The state had recorded 83.41% polling in 2013.
 
The final voting figures in both states could go up slightly after information from all the polling booths in all the constituencies become available, they said. 
 
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, 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. 
 
According to senior police officials, around 11,100 security personnel comprising central paramilitary and state security forces were deployed across the state to ensure smooth polling and prevent any untoward incident.
 
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. 
 
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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.
 
IANS adds:
 
Officials said the highlight of the day in Mizoram was that over 10,000 elederly voters exrcised their franchise with a 108-year old man, 106-year old woman on wheel chair and 103-year-old man coming out to vote. 
 
In the case of Madhya Pradesh, violence was reported in a few places in Bhind district. 
 
Two persons were arrested in a firing incident near an election booth in Bhind, police said. 
 
Several Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) malfunctioned, which were replaced by the poll panel officials. The Election Commission also announced that Rs 10 lakh each would be paid to its officials who died during the voting exercise. 
 
The highlight of the day in Madhya Pradesh was the voting by a 101-year-old woman, who exercised her franchise in Agar Malwa district.
 
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Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram to vote on Wednesday

Madhya Pradesh will vote on Wednesday to either give the BJP a fourth successive term in power notwithstanding anti-incumbency or give a chance to the challenger Congress to break the saffron party's monopoly over power for the last 15 years.

Polling officials checking Electronic Voting Machines on the eve of Mizoram Assembly elections, at a distribution centre at Pachhunga University College in Aizawl, Mizoram on November 27, 2018.
Polling officials checking Electronic Voting Machines on the eve of Mizoram Assembly elections, at a distribution centre at Pachhunga University College in Aizawl, Mizoram on November 27, 2018.
Madhya Pradesh will vote on Wednesday to either give the BJP a fourth successive term in power notwithstanding anti-incumbency or give a chance to the challenger Congress to break the saffron party's monopoly over power for the last 15 years.
 
Similarly, voters in Mizoram will also exercise their franchise on Wednesday to elect a new Assembly in which the Congress is striving for a third successive term against a stiff challenge from the Mizo National Front headed by former Chief Minister Zoramthanga. 
 
Mizoram, one of the four states where the Congress is in power at present besides Punjab and the Union Territory of Puducherry and part of a coalition in Karnataka, is the last remaining bastion for Congress in the northeast.
 
The campaign has been high decibel, often marked by bitter personal attacks, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi leading the charge of their parties. 
 
In Madhya Pradesh, the contest is mainly between the BJP and Congress though the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party are also in the fray. 
 
Apart from Modi's appeal, the BJP is banking on the image of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and its organisational structure. Party President Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley campaigned in the state. 
 
The Congress put up a spirited fight by raising issues concerning people and putting up a united fight by keeping the issue of leadership at bay. 
 
Rahul Gandhi sought to rejuvenate the state unit by appointing Kamal Nath as the party chief in April this year and naming Jyotiraditya Scindia, MP, as the campaign chief. 
 
Congress leaders have sought to highlight the problems of farmers, the poor, middle class and youths in their rallies holding, especially holding demonetisation and GST as the reasons for the agrarian distress and traders' plight. 
 
Rahul Gandhi attacked Modi and his government on issues of corruption and promises made in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and by Shivraj Chauhan in the 2013 elections. He has promised a farm loan waiver within 10 days of Congress coming power. 
 
National issues issues like surgical strike, construction of Ram temple, caste and dynasty were raised with the campaign barely revolving around the issue the development. 
 
Modi attacked the Congress on corruption, dynasty politics and several other issues and gave accounts of the achievements of the state and his own government.
 
Among the 2,907 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has fielded candidates for all 230 seats while the Congress is contesting in 229 seats leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for Sharad Yadav-led LJD.
 
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the SP is contesting 51 seats. There are 1,102 independent candidates.
 
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The keenly watched constituency will be Budhni, the home turf of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Congress has pitted former Union minister and former Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee chief Arun Yadav against him. 
 
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 comprising the third gender -- will decide the fate of the candidates. 
 
In Mizoram, the fight is largely between the Congress and the Mizo National Front though the BJP is also seeking to make its presence felt. The BJP has made deep inroads in the northeast since the Modi government came to power at the Centre in 2014 and its performance in the Christian majority state will be keenly watched. 
 
In the battle for supremacy in the election to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla of the Congress is seeking a hat-trick. He claims there is no incumbency against his government.
 
A total of 209 candidates are in the fray in Mizoram. 
 
The Congress has fielded 40 candidates while the BJP and MNF are contesting in 39 and 40 constituencies, respectively.
 
The Chief Minister is contesting from two seats -- Serchhip and Champhai South. The Congress has been in power since Mizoram became a full-fledged state in 1987, except for 10 years from 1998 to 2008. 
 
Around 7.7 lakh voters will decide the fate of 209 candidates.
 
Counting of votes in both the states, along with three other states -- Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana -- will be held on December 11.
 
IANS
 

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Chouhan's son files defamation case, Rahul says he got confused

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Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's son Kartikey on Tuesday filed a defamation case against Rahul Gandhi who linked his name to the Panama papers, but the Congress President clarified he got "confused" due to "scams" in BJP state governments and was referring to the son of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh.
 
Gandhi's faux pas during a rally in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh on Monday has become a political issue with Chouhan and BJP leaders commenting on it. 
 
The Congress President told reporters during an informal interaction in Indore on Tuesday that he had made allegations against the son of the Chief Minister in relation to the Panama papers, but it actually related to the alleged charges against the son of the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister. 
 
"So many scams have taken place in BJP state governments that I got confused. The name of son of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister is not there in Panama papers. But Vyapam and e-tendering scams have taken place in his rule," Gandhi said. 
 
Panama Papers refers to the leak of millions of files from the database of the world's fourth biggest offshore law firm Mossak Fonseca that helped in setting up off-shore entities. 
 
Kartikey on Tuesday filed a defamation case against Gandhi in a special court in Bhopal. His lawyer Shirish Shrivastava told reporters that case has been filed because Rahul Gandhi has attempted to defame Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his son during his remarks at a rally in Jabhua. He alleged that it was part of a plan and Gandhi wanted to reap political benefit from his remarks. 
 
Shrivastava said that Chouhan and his son have nothing to do with the Panama papers leak case. He said media clippings and a video of Gandhi's remarks have been submitted with the complaint. 
 
Addressing the rally, Gandhi had said that the name of Chouhan's son is there in the Panama papers leaks. He had said that a Prime Minister of Pakistan lost his post on this issue "but nothing happened here despite name of son of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister being there". 
 
Chouhan told reporters on Tuesday that Gandhi would not have made the comments without giving it a thought.
 
"Rahul Gandhi is not a small or a street-level leader. Hence the remarks would not have been made without thought," he said. 
 
Asked about Rahul Gandhi accepting his mistake and if the matter of defamation will be pursued, he said if Rahul Gandhi accepts the mistake publicly only then would they think about it. 
 
IANS
 

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Cabinet approves Bhopal Metro Rail Project comprising two corridors

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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved implementation of the Bhopal Metro Rail Project comprising two corridors of total length 27.87 km which will connect major public nodes and city cluster areas of Bhopal.
 
The corridors are Karond Circle to AIIMS (14.99 km) and Bhadbhada Square to Ratnagiri Tiraha (12.88 km), an official press release said.
 
The Karond-AIIMS corridor will be mostly elevated and partly underground (at Bhopal Railway Station & Bus Station) with 16 stations (14 elevated and two underground).
 
The Bhadbhada-Ratnagiri Tiraha corridor has 14 stations and the entire line is elevated.
 
The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 6941.40 crore. It will be completed in four years.
 
The population of 23 lakh of Bhopal agglomeration area is expected to be benefitted by Bhopal Metro Rail Project directly and indirectly. The corridors will be having multi-modal integration with railway stations and BRTS Stations and will have feeder network of bus, Intermediate Public Transport (IPT) and Non-Motorised Transport (NMT). 
 
The project will have non-fare box revenue from rental and advertisement as well as Value Capture Financing (VCF) through the mechanism of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR).
 
The Karond-AIIMS corridor will pass through the heart of the city and connect densely populated areas with Bus Station, Railway Stations and AIIMS. The Bhadbhada-Ratnagiri corridor will connect upcoming Smart City's Area Based Development (ABD) with BFIEL and surrounding industrial areas. 
 
A special purpose vehicle (SPV), namely Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Co Ltd. (MPMRCL), has been constituted for implementation of the project. The financing of Bhopal Metro Rail Project will be partly from the Centre and the State on an equal equity basis and partly as a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
 
DB Engineering & Consulting GmbH, in consortium with Louis Berger SAS and Geodata Engineering S.p.A has been appointed as General Consultant (GC) for the project. The tenders for first civil work package have been invited and work will start soon, the release added.
 
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ADB to provide $150 million loan for Global Skills Park in Madhya Pradesh

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The Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $150 million loan agreement here today to establish a Global Skills Park (GSP) in Madhya Pradesh.
 
The GSP will be the first Multi-Skills Park in India and will enhance the quality of Technical and Vocational Education And Training (TVET) System in the State and create a more skilled workforce, an official press release said.
 
The signatories to the Madhya Pradesh Skills Development Project were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (Fund Bank and ADB), Ministry of Finance, who signed on behalf of the Government of India, and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed for ADB.
 
Mr Khare said that the project would help improve the quality and relevance of the State’s TVET programs and help impart advanced job-ready skills training of international standards that can meet the employment needs of the State’s emerging sectors.
 
Mr. Yokoyama said that the project would engage international TVET partners to support advanced training at the GSP who will bring global best practices in TVET management, training infrastructure, industry cooperation, and quality assurance.
 
The new GSP campus, which will be established in Bhopal will consist of core Advanced Training Institutes including the Centre for Occupational Skills Acquisition and the Center for Advanced Agricultural Training as well as other support services focusing on entrepreneurship, training of trainers, and skill-related research. The campus will have training facilities focusing on skills for manufacturing, service, and advanced agricultural jobs, benefitting about 20,000 trainees and trainers. 
 
The project will also help in modernizing 10 industrial training institutes across the state by renovating training infrastructure and upgrading skills courses to align with industry and market needs, the release added.
 
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Will waive farm loans within 10 days of coming to power: Rahul

File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
Wooing farmers in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, party President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday promised to waive farm loans within 10 days of coming to power.
 
The Congress chief also said that once his party comes to power at the Centre, changes would be made to GST to reduce rates on items. 
 
"You remember that the Congress has waived the farm loans worth Rs 70,000 crore. You saw how we waived the farm loan of farmers in the state within 10 days after coming to power in Karnataka," Gandhi said addressing a public meeting here.
 
"If voted to power, we shall waive the farm loans of farmers within 10 days," he said.
 
Gandhi also said that he could never even think of lying and making false promises to people like depositing Rs 15 lakh in every account. 
 
He also said that the Congress after coming to power in the state would change the Gabbar Singh Tax to real GST.
 
"As soon as we come to power, we will change the 'Gabbar Singh Tax' into the real GST. We will implement one tax at lowest rates," he said, adding that the government would use its power to generate employment in the state," Gandhi said, who is on a two-day visit to Madhya Pradesh, where the elections are slated later this year.
 
Earlier in the day he visited the Kamta Nath temple, dedicated to Lord Ram, which is located in the forested hills of Kamadgiri and performed 'puja'. Gandhi had earlier also made a visit to the state on September 17 and held a road show in the state capital Bhopal. 
 
He also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi government over the Rafale fighter jet deal and dared him to break his silence in any of his public rallies. 
 
"The UPA government started the talks for 126 Rafale fighter jets from France. The UPA government gave the contract to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) so that the youths of the country would have got employment," he said. 
 
Slamming the Prime Minister, Gandhi said, "The UPA government negotiated the deal to buy per Rafale aircarft for Rs 526 crore. But then our Prime Minister, who is a chowkidaar (watchman) goes to France and changes the contract. He removes HAL and gives it to his friend who has a debt of Rs 45,000 crore to banks and who has not built a single aircraft in his life."
 
"And few days ago, even the former French President (Francois Hollande) said that the name of the Indian private firm was not taken by French government or the company which manufactures Rafale. But it was said to us by the Indian government and their Prime Minister that the contract needs to be given to the private firm," he alleged.
 
"The watchman let the theft of Rs 30,000 crore happen. The watchman is thief," he thundered. 
 
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Slamming the Prime Minister for his silence over the Rafale deal, Gandhi dared him to speak up why the offset contract was not given to HAL, why the deal was not discussed with the Defence Minister and why the ex-French President was now accusing him as a thief?
 
Gandhi also accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of speaking "untruth" on the Rafale deal issue. 
 
"In Parliament, the defence minister said the price of Rafale fighter plane cannot be disclosed due to secret pact. I met the French president (Emmanuel Macron), who said there is no such pact and the price can be disclosed," he said. 
 
Gandhi said that the prime minister spoke for one-and-a-half hours in Parliament but he did not speak on the Rafale issue. 
 
He also accused Modi of disregarding the hard work of people of India from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15 when he said "he changed the country in last four years".
 
The Congress chief also charged Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of helping fugitive businessman, Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in India for defrauding banks to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore escape from the country.
 
"Mallya escapes from country with Rs 9,000 crore. And before escaping the country he meet Finance Minister in Parliament and says to him that I am going to London," he said.
 
"But the Finance Minister did not inform the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate and let Mallya escape from country. And Modi also remains silent on that," he added. 
 
IANS
 

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