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Rajasthan

Asaram Bapu convicted in minor rape case

Five years after charges of rape were levelled against Asaram Bapu, the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court on Wednesday convicted the self-styled godman and four others in a 2013 rape case.

File photo of Asaram Bapu. (Photo: IANS)
File photo of Asaram Bapu. (Photo: IANS)
Five years after charges of rape were levelled against Asaram Bapu, the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court on Wednesday convicted the self-styled godman and four others in a 2013 rape case.
 
Asaram was convicted under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) act and Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.
 
The judgement was pronounced by Judge Madhusudan inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is lodged.
 
Asaram Bapu was arrested in 2013 on the complaint filed by a teenage girl from Uttar Pradesh's Shahajahanpur. She had accused him of raping her at his Jodhpur ashram in August. The victim was a Class 12 student at his Chhindwara Ashram in Madhya Pradesh.
 
The 77-year-old godman is facing trial in two other sexual assault cases: one in Rajasthan here and the other in Gujarat. 
 
He was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He has been in judicial custody since September 2, 2013. 
 
He also faces multiple charges, including wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy and sexual harassment.
 
The chargesheet named Asaram and four others -- Sanchita alias Shilpi, Sharad Chandra alias Sharat Chandra, Prakash and Shiva alias Sava Ram Hethvadiya.
 
The quantum of punishment will be announced later.
 
IANS
 
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Salman gets bail against personal bond of Rs 50,000

After spending two nights in a Jodhpur jail, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was granted bail on Saturday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 by District and Sessions Court Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi.

 
Salman Khan convicted in black buck poaching case
 
 
After spending two nights in a local jail, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was granted bail on Saturday in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 by District and Sessions Court Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi.
 
Arguments on the actor's bail application, which had been taken up yesterday, continued this morning before the judge reserved his order for the post-lunch session.
 
While granting him bail, the judge asked Salman, 52, to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and two sureties of Rs. 25,000 each with guarantees that he will adhere to all the bail conditions.
 
The court said Salman would have to secure special permission from it to travel abroad.
 
He is expected to be released by this evening after completion of various legal procedures, sources said.
 
Salman had spent a second night in the Central Jail here last night because the arguments on his bail plea could not be completed yesterday.
 
The superstar was convicted by a local court on Thursday and was sentenced to five years imprisonment in the two-decade-old case.
 
Salman and other Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre and Neelam allegedly went hunting on October 1-2 in 1998 outside a forest reserve near Kankani village in Jodhpur while shooting for "Hum Saath Saath Hain" in 1998. 
 
While Salman was found guilty, the four co-stars and a local, Dushyant Singh, were acquitted.
 
Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri convicted Salman under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
 
(With  inputs from IANS)
 
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15 dead, 31 injured as high-tension wire falls on bus in Rajasthan

At least 15 people were electrocuted and 31 others suffered injuries when the bus they were travelling in came in contact with a high-tension electricity wire in the Tonk district of Rajasthan on Friday afternoon, official sources said.

 
At least 15 dead as high-tension wire falls on bus in Rajasthan
At least 15 people were electrocuted and 31 others suffered injuries when the bus they were travelling in came in contact with a high-tension electricity wire in the Tonk district of Rajasthan this afternoon, official sources said.
 
Police officials in Tonk told NetIndian over the telephone that the injured were initially taken to nearby hospitals from where they were referred to a hospital in Jaipur.
 
All the victims were men and were going to attend a marriage when the mishap occurred in the Malpura area of the district around 3 pm.
 
Senior district admininstration and police officials rushed to the spot to oversee the rescue and relief efforts, the sources said.
 
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje condoled the loss of lives in the incident and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the next-of-kin of those killed.
 
She also asked State Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria and other senior ministers and officials to rush to the spot and ensure the best possible medical care for the injured.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the incident. 
 
"The bus incident at Tonk, Rajasthan is very heart-rending. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
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Denied LS ticket by BJP, Jaswant Singh says will file nomination on Monday

Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, who is upset at being denied a ticket by the party to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from his home town of Barmer, confirmed on Sunday that he would file his nomination from there on Monday, presumably as an independent candidate.

Not furniture that BJP can adjust me: Jaswant
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh, who is upset at being denied a party ticket to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from his home town of Barmer in Rajasthan, today confirmed that he would file his nomination from there tomorrow, presumably as an independent candidate.
 
At the same time, he ruled out joining the Congress or any other party, saying it was insulting to him for any party to even think on such lines.
 
Reacting to media reports that the Congress might try and rope him in, Mr Singh, 76, told newspersons in his village that he had spent his entire political life in the BJP and had never thought of joining any other party.
 
"If the Congress is thinking along those lines, it is a waste of their time," he said.
 
But, despite repeated queries, he refused to confirm or deny whether the Congress had, in fact, made any overtures to him or not.
 
To another question, Mr Singh said he would go to Barmer tomorrow and file his nominations. "I will go to Barmer, will discuss the issue with others and act accordingly," he said.
 
Asked if he would resign from the party before filing his nomination, he said these things would be known tomorrow.
 
Mr Singh was particularly unhappy with senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley's statement that the party could not "adjust" Mr Singh in its list of candidates and that it would find other ways of using his abilities.
 
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"I saw on television a party leader saying that the could not 'adjust' me. The choice of words shows their way of thinking and their arrogant nature. It is insulting to me. I am not a piece of furniture, a chair or a table, which can be moved to some other part of the room if it does not fit in one place.
 
"I don't want to be 'adjusted'," he said. "All my life, I have worked for the party, in its best interests, to the best of my ability," he said.
 
About Barmer, he said it was the place where he was born and where he had grown. "All that I know today, I learnt from here," he said.
 
Asked about the caste equations in the area, Mr Singh regretted that the social fabric of the region was being torn by such considerations. He said he had never practised such politics. "You cannot divide society and people in this manner. If we persist in doing so, the state will end up as a second-rate UP, a third-rate Bihar," he said.
 
The BJP had, on Friday, announced that its candidate from Barmer would be Col Sonaram Chaudhary, a former MLA, who had recently joined it after resigning from the Congress, ignoring Mr Singh's claims and his wish that he be allowed to contest what could possibly be his last election from his home turf.
 
Reacting to the move, Mr Singh had hit out at the party yesterday, saying that it had been encroached upon by "outsiders", an obvious reference to the fact that it had given tickets to several people who had joined it in recent weeks, ignoring the claims of party loyalists.
 
He also made it clear to journalists at Jodhpur on his way to barmer that he would not indulge in any kid of bargaining with the party for post-election positions or any other officers from it.
 
"My sense of honour is not subject to trading," he said, even as Mr Jaitley and BJP President Rajnath Singh said that the party would utilise Mr Singh's abilities in some other way.
 
Mr Rajnath Singh said the importance that the BJP acccorded to Mr Singh could not be judged on the basis of an election ticket alone. "He is far above that," he said.
 
"The challenge today is between the real BJP and the fake BJP," Mr Singh said. "Only the people can decide on the difference between the two," he said.
 
He said he had lived and struggled all these years to uphold the principles on which the BJP was founded and it was important that he continued to do so.
 
He said it was for the BJP to realise what would add value to the party, to India and to the people of India.
 
The BJP's decision to deny the ticket to Mr Singh is being seen as yet another indication that the old order in the party is being forced to yield place to the new.
 
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According to media reports, Mr Singh had conveyed to the BJP leadership that he would contest the election from Barmer as an independent candidate if the party decided against nominating him.
 
He has never contested from Barmer, having been elected to the Lok Sabha from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan in 1991 and 1996, and from Darjeeling in West Bengal in the last general elections in 2009.
 
According to sources, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had pushed for a ticket for Col Choudhary, a Jat leader, after he joined the BJP some time ago.
 
Col Choudhary had lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from Barmer to Mr Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh, who now represents Sheo - a part of the Barmer Parliamentary constituency - in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.
 
The move to deny Mr Singh a ticket has also upset a section of BJP workers in Barmer, who staged protests and tore party posters to express their anger.
 
The denial of the party nomination to Mr Singh came just a day after the BJP had, on Thursday, managed to mollify its veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani into accepting the party's decision to field him from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, though he had expressed his wish to shift to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
 
Earlier, another party veteran, Murli Manohar Joshi, was reportedly upset after he had to make way for BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who wanted to contest the Lok Sabha elections from his constituency of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. He was persuaded finally to move to Kanpur.
 
Another senior leader, Lalji Tandon, had to give up his claim over Lucknow, the seat held by him, to accommodate Mr Rajnath Singh, who decided against contesting from Ghaziabad, the seat he had won the last time.
 
In Punjab, three-time MP and former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu had to make way in Amritsar for senior leader Arun Jaitley.
 
Yesterday, the BJP denied renomination to seven-time MP Harin Pathak from Ahmedabad East and fielded well-known actor Paresh Rawal as its candidate from the constituency. Mr Pathak is known to be close to Mr Advani and was reportedly not on very good terms with Mr Modi.
 
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Chris Gayle blasts 79, drives Punjab to 183/4 against Rajasthan Royals

Power-packed batting by Chris Gayle helped Kings XI Punjab post 183/4 in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Rajasthan Royals here on Monday.
 
Gayle was off to a slow start, taking his time to get his eye in before changing gears to smash the opponent bowlers all around the park. The West Indies star took just 47 balls to post 79 runs, hitting 8 boundaries and four sixes in his whirlwind innings.
 
It needed a blinder of a catch by R. Tripathi off Ben Stokes to finally stop the carnage.
 
Gayle's departure slowed downed the run rate before Sarfaraz Khan scored a quick-fire 46 off 20 balls lower down the order to ensure a strong finish to the Punjab innings.
 
Brief scores: KXIP : 184/4 (Gayle 79; Ben Stokes 2/48) vs Rajasthan Royals.
 
IANS
 

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Minor earthquake shakes Sikar region of Rajasthan

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Sikar region of Rajasthan early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.4°N and longitude 75.7°E, occurred at 0511 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Man portable anti-tank guided missile test-fired twice

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In a major boost for the Army, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired the indigenously developed, low-weight, fire-and-forget Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) twice in the last two days in the ranges of Rajasthan desert. 
 
MPATGM is incorporated with advanced features including state-of-the-art Imaging Infrared Radar (IIR) Seeker with integrated avionics, an  official press release said.
 
The first test was conducted yesterday and the second today, the release said.
 
"In both the missions, the missiles hit the designated targets precisely at different ranges. All the mission objectives have been met," it added.
 
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India successfully test-fires guided weapon system Pinaka twice from Pokhran ranges

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The Defence Research  and Defence Organisation  (DRDO) today successfully test-fired the guided weapon system, Pinaka, twice from the Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan.
 
The weapon system is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance kit comprising an advanced navigation and control system. 
 
"In both the missions, the weapon systems impacted the intended targets with high precision and achieved desired accuracies. Telemetry systems tracked and monitored the vehicle all through the flight path. All the mission objectives have been met," an official press release said.
 
The guided Pinaka, indigenously developed by DRDO, will significantly boost the capability of the artillery to make precision hits, the release added.
 
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Pakistani drone shot down in Rajasthan

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A Pakistani drone that intruded into Indian air space over Rajasthan  was shot down by Indian forces on Saturday evening, official sources said.
 
"Army authorities have reported a case of Pakistani UAV intrusion in Ganganagar Sect around 1930 h. The drone was engaged & brought down," the Ministry of Defence spokesperson said on Twitter last night.
 
Earlier on Saturday morning, around 5 am, another Pakistani drone had tried to intrude into Indian territory at Hindumalkot in the Ganganagar sector. It, however, returned when troopers of the Border Security Force (BSF) sighted it and opened fire.
 
IANS adds:
 
In last 11 days, Pakistan has sent four drones to the Rajasthan border. 
 
On February 26, a drone on the Barmer border was shot down, while on March 4, another UAV was shot down by a Sukhoi. 
 
Also on Saturday, security agencies arrested a suspected spy, identified as Fataan Khan, a resident of Sonu village in Jaisalmer, said Kiran Kang, Jaisalmer District Superintendent of Police.
 
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IAF's MiG-21 fighter jet crashes near Bikaner after bird-hit, pilot ejects safely

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A MiG-21 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed near Bikaner in Rajasthan this afternoon but the  pilot managed to eject safely, official sources said.
 
The aircraft had taken off this afternoon from Nal near Bikaner on a routine mission and crashed soon after getting airborne, they said.
 
The sources said initial information suggested the aircraft had suffered a bird hit. A Court of Inquiry has been set up to investigate the cause of the accident, they added.
 
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Robert Vadra, mother Maureen appear before ED officials in Jaipur

Robert Vadra (Photo: Facebook)
Robert Vadra (Photo: Facebook)
Businessman Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, and his mother Maureen Vadra appeared before officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) here in connection with its investigations into an alleged land scam in Bikaner district of Rajasthan.
 
Vadra and his mother had arrived in Jaipur yesterday afternoon. They were joined late in the evening by his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the sister of Rahul Gandhi, who flew in from Lucknow, where she had made her debut in active politics with a massive roadshow earlier in the day.
 
Ms. Vadra accompanied her husband and mother-in-law to the ED's office before leaving the city, just as she had done when he had made his first appearance before ED officials in Delhi last week in another case related to alleged money laundering.
 
Vadra, 50, was grilled by ED officials in Delhi for long hours on three days last week in connection with a case of money laundering, in which he is alleged to own illegal properties in London bought with amounts received as kickbacks in defence and petroleum deals during the tenure of the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.
 
Rajasthan High Court had asked Vadra and his mother to cooperate with the ED in the Bikaner case after they had approached it to ensure that no coercive action was taken against them by the agency.
 
In the money-laundering case, Vadra has been granted anticipatory bail until February 16 by a Delhi court.
 
The ED had registered a criminal case in connection with the Bikaner land deals in 2015 on the basis of FIRs and chargesheets filed by the Rajasthan Police. The tehsildar of the area had filed a complaint about alleged forgery in the allotment of land in the area.
 
Sources said Vadra will be questioned about the role of one of his firms which had reportedly purchased land in the area.
 
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Earlier this morning, before reaching the ED office here, Vadra posted a picture of himself with his mother and alleged that the Government was being vindictive by harassing a senior citizen.
 
"So here we are my 75 year old mother n me in Jaipur to depose in front of the Enforcement Directorate. Not understanding the lows of this vindictive government to be harassing a senior citizen, who the world knows has lost her daughter in a car crash, her ailing son to diabetes, and her husband as well. Three deaths n all I did was to ask her to spend time with me in my office, so I can look after her and we both could grieve on our losses, while spending time together. 
 
"Now she is being accused, maligned and called to be interrogated, for spending time in my office. Since I have already been interrogated for 3 days in Delhi’ headquarters, of the Enforcement Directorate. If there was any issue or any illegality, which was found by government, why did it take them 4 years n 8 months, to call me a month before campaigning begins for the General elections. Do they think people in India do not view it as an election gimmick ?! As I always have adhered to rules and overall being a disciplined person, I have the ability to sustain any amount of hours of questioning and having nothing to hide, I will answer every question with respect n dignity.
 
"This too shall pass and will make me stronger.  What goes around comes around. God is with us !!" he said.
 
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Vadra, mother reach Jaipur to appear before ED in Bikaner land deal case

Robert Vadra (Photo: Facebook)
Robert Vadra (Photo: Facebook)
Businessman Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, arrived here today along with his mother Maureen to appear before officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with their investigations into an alleged land scam in Bikaner, Rajasthan.
 
Vadra, 50, was grilled by ED officials in Delhi for long hours on three days last week in connection with a case of money laundering, in which he is alleged to own illegal properties in London bought with amounts received as kickbacks in defence and petroleum deals during the tenure of the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.
 
Rajasthan High Court had asked Vadra and his mother to cooperate with the ED in the Bikaner case after they had approached it to ensure that no coercive action was taken against them by the agency.
 
In the money-laundering case, Vadra has been granted anticipatory bail until February 16 by a Delhi court.
 
The ED has registered a criminal case in connection with the Bikaner land deals in 2015 on the basis of FIRs and chargesheets filed by the Rajasthan Police. The tehsildar of the area had filed a complaint about alleged forgery in the allotment of land in the area.
 
Sources said Vadra will be questioned about the role of one of his firms which had reportedly purchased land in the area.
 
Vadra flew to Jaipur with his mother even as his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, made her debut today in full-time active politics with a massive roadshow in Lucknow, along with Rahul Gandhi and senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia.
 
Ms. Vadra and Mr. Scindia have been appointed as the General Secretaries of the party in charge of Uttar Pradesh East and Uttar Pradesh West, respectively.
 
"My Best wishes to you P, on your new journey of working in Uttar Pradesh and serving the people of India," Vadra said in a message on his Facebook page.
 
"You have been my best friend, a perfect wife and the best mother to our Children. 
 
"There is a very Vindictive and vicious political atmosphere... But I know, it’s her duty to serve the people and Now we hand her to the people of India. Please keep her safe," he 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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Rajasthan: Gehlot allots portfolios to his Ministers, keeps Home, Finance

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Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh on early Thursday allocated portfolios to the Council of Ministers, three days after 23 ministers took oath, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot keeping key departments including Home, Finance and Personnel.
 
The allocation of portfolios took place at 2 a.m., a statement said. 
 
Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot gets PWD and Rural Development, the statement said.
 
General Administration, Information Technology and Telecommunications are also with Gehlot while Science and Technology, and Statistics have been allotted to Pilot.
 
B.D. Kalla has been given Power, Public Health Engineering, Culture and Archaeology, while Pratap Singh Khachariyawas got two departments -- Transportation and Soldiers' Welfare. 
 
Shanti Dhariwal has been given the Urban Development, Housing and Legal departments.
 
Raghu Sharma has got the Medical and Health, Ayurveda, ESI, Information and Public Relations departments. 
 
Parsadi Lal was allotted Industries and State Ventures while Master Bhanwarlal has been given Social Justice and Empowerment and Disaster Management. 
 
Lalchand Kataria gets Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, while Pramod Jain Bhaya has received Mining and the Cow Ministry.
 
Vishwendra Singh will look after Tourism Ministry, while Harish Chaudhary has got Revenue and Irrigation.
 
Ramesh Chand Meena has been given the Food and Civic Supplies department, Udailal Anjana has got Co-operative and Indira Gandhi Canal Project while Saleh Mohammad gets the Minorities and Waqf departments.
 
Govind Singh Dotarasa has got Education, Mamta Bhupesh has been allotted the Women and Child Development department and Arjun Sungh gets the Bamania Tribe Regional Development Department. 
 
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Bhanwar Singh Bhati has got the Higher Education department (independent charge), Sukhiram Vishnoi has Forest department (independent charge), Environment, Department of Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs. 
 
Ashok Chandna gets the Youth and Sports department, Tikaram Juli has been given the Labour department (independent charge), Bhanjanlal Jatav gets the Department of Home Defence and Civil Defence (Independent charge) and Department of Printing and stationery (Independent Charge).
 
Rajendra Singh Yadav has been allotted Planning (Manpower), (Independent Charge), State Motor Garage Department (Independent Charge) Language Department (Independent Charge), Social Justice and Empowerment and Disaster Management and Assistance. 
 
Earlier, throughout Wednesday, the files related to portfolios were being transferred from Delhi to Jaipur and vice-versa due to difference of opinion between the Congress members. 
 
On Wednesday morning, Pilot met Congress President Rahul Gandhi while in the later half, Gehlot went to Delhi with the files. 
 
After an eight-hour long meeting in Delhi, the portfolio distribution process was eventually completed around 2 a.m. on Thursday.
 
IANS
 

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Rajasthan Cabinet portfolios allocated, Gehlot keeps Home, Finance

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Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh on early Thursday allocated portfolios to the Council of Ministers, three days after 23 ministers took oath, officials said.
 
The allocation of portfolios took place at 2 a.m., a statement said. 
 
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has kept key departments including Home, Finance and Personnel with him, while Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot gets PWD and Rural Development, the statement said.
 
General Administration, Information Technology and Telecommunications are also with Gehlot while Science and Technology, and Statistics have been allotted to Pilot.
 
IANS
 

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Right wing protestors force Naseeruddin Shah to give Ajmer Literature Festival a miss

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Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah on Friday gave the Ajmer Literature Festival a miss due to strong protests by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and other right wing associations for his controversial statements.
 
In a TV interview, Shah had said that he fears for his children in this country. He has reportedly said, "In some areas killing of a cow receives more importance than lynching of a police officer..."
 
Meanwhile, the Bollywood actor told the media that he loves the country he resides in. "What mistake did I make by expressing my thoughts," he asked.
 
Police officials in Ajmer confirmed that right wing demonstrators did protest against Shah. However, no FIR has been lodged. 
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Gehlot sworn in as Rajasthan CM, Pilot as Deputy CM

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Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot was sworn in as Chief Minister of Rajasthan for a third time while Sachin Pilot took oath as Deputy Chief Minister at the Albert Hall here on Monday.
 
Governor Kalyan Singh administered the oath of office and secrecy to them in the presence of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
 
Among those who were at the venue were NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Chief Ministers N. Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), H.D. Kumaraswamy (Karnataka) and V. Narayanasamy (Puducherry), former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, DMK leader M. K. Stalin, JMM leader Hemant Soren and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha chief Babulal Marandi.
 
Former Rajasthan Chief Minister and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje also attended the event along with Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kumari Selja, Jitin Prasad and Navjot Singh Sidhu.
 
The Congress rode to power in Rajasthan after five years, defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party in Assembly elections.
 
IANS
 

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Gehlot sworn in as Rajasthan CM, Pilot Deputy CM

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Congress leader Ashok Gehlot was sworn in on Monday as the 12th Chief Minister of Rajasthan, while the party's state president Sachin Pilot took oath as his deputy at a ceremony here.
 
It is Gehlot's third innings as Chief Minister.
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nationalist Congress Party's chief Sharad Pawar were some of those who attended the ceremony in Albert Hall.
 
Former Chief Minister of Rajasthan and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje was also present at the event.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Farm loans waiver soon in MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgrah: Rahul

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With the Congress coming to power in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, party President Rahul Gandhi on Friday affirmed his party's commitment to waive off farm loans in all the three states.
 
"We are going to waive farm loans," Gandhi told the media here asserting that his party would fulfil the promise of waving loans of farmers in all the three states within 10 days of coming to power. 
 
His comments came on a day when party veterans Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath were chosen as the new Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, respectively. 
 
The Congress is soon expected to announce the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh where the race for the post is primarily between state party chief Bhupesh Baghel and Ambikapur MLA T. S. Singh Deo.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Ashok Gehlot to pilot Rajasthan again, Sachin to be his deputy

Congress President Rahul Gandhi with Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, after their meeting in Delhi on December 14, 2018.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi with Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, after their meeting in Delhi on December 14, 2018.
Ending the intense jockeying for power in Rajasthan, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday picked party veteran Ashok Gehlot as the leader of the Congress legislature party in Rajasthan and Sachin Pilot, who had put up a strong claim, as his deputy.
 
This paves the way for the swearing-in of Gehlot as the new Chief Minister of the state and Pilot as the Deputy Chief Minister.
 
The formal announcement of Gandhi's decision was made at a press conference at the party headquarters by K. C. Venugopal, observer for the legislature party leader's election, after an over hour-long meeting between Gandhi and the two contenders, Gehlot and Pilot, at his residence.
 
Informed sources said Gandhi is said to have convinced Pilot to become Gehlot's deputy as the party is keen to keep the Gujjar community, to which he belongs, on its side ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The Gujjars are a dominant community in Rajasthan. 
 
This was the third meeting of Gehlot and Pilot in two days with Gandhi as their respective camps strongly staked their claim for the Chief Ministerial post.
 
"Gandhi has chosen Ashok Gehlot as the Chief Minister and Sachin Pilot will be the Deputy Chief Minister," Venugopal announced here adding it will be a mix of experience and dynamism. 
 
This is the third time the 72-year-old Gehlot will assume the reins of Rajasthan as Chief Minister while the 41-year-old Pilot, who won his maiden Assembly election, will be making a debut in the state.
 
Expressing his gratitude over being chosen as Chief Minister, Gehlot assured the people of Rajasthan that the party would fulfil all its commitments including waiver of farmers' loans, generating employment for the youth and providing good governance. 
 
"My colleague Sachin Pilot and others will get together to fulfil the vision and promises of Rahul Gandhi," he said. 
 
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Congratulating Gehlot, Pilot described the elections in the three Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh as a game changer in national politics and said the results had given hope to the people as regards economic development and harmony. He exuded confidence the party would win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 
 
Venugopal said a delegation of leaders including Gehlot and Pilot would be meeting Governor Kalyan Singh to convey the decision of the party. 
 
Thursday was marked by dramatic developments when Gehlot was chosen to lead the Congress Legislature Party and was headed for Jaipur when he was called back from the airport as Pilot supporters launched street protests, embarrassing the party after a tough election win.
 
Gandhi wanted that, like in Madhya Pradesh, the power struggle should be halted and a picture of consensus should go to the people. He called for fresh consultations late on Thursday night and on Friday morning when the two leaders met and the issue was sorted out.
 
In a sign of the tussle being resolved, Gandhi on Friday tweeted his photograph with a smiling Gehlot and Pilot with a caption "United Colours of Rajasthan!".
 
Ahead of the meeting, Gehlot took a veiled dig at Pilot saying that the party unit had already left the decision on Gandhi and it was not the time to express individual choices. 
 
"We have given the duty to the High Command. Let it decide who is to be given what responsibility. If I say my choice is this, it is not time for that. The time is to strengthen the Congress, see how its graph goes up. 
 
"If Congress is strong, everyone will be empowered and we prove to be useful in meeting the objectives of the 2019 elections. This alone should be our thinking," Gehlot said. 
 
In Madhya Pradesh, too, the party went for the old guard, preferring veteran and state party chief Kamal Nath as the Chief Minister over the youthful parliamentarian Jyotiraditya Scindia. But as of now, there is no sign that Scindia will be a Deputy Chief Minister.
 
Jyotiraditya Scindia is the son the late Congress veteran Madhavrao Scindia while Sachin Pilot is the son of the late Union Minister Rajesh Pilot. 
 
IANS

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Gehlot to be Rajasthan CM, Pilot Deputy CM

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The Congress on Friday declared that Ashok Gehlot will be the leader of its legislature party in Rajasthan and state Congress chief Sachin Pilot its deputy leader, paving the way for their swearing-in as the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of the state.
 
This brings to an end the three-day impasse on the question of leadership in the state.
 
The announcement was made by party observer for the state K. C. Venugopal.
 
He said the decision was taken by party President Rahul Gandhi.
 
IANS

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Gehlot emerges top choice for Rajasthan CM, Pilot puts up spirited claim

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Veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot on Thursday emerged Rahul Gandhi's pick as the Chief Minister in Rajasthan, but suspense continued with state party chief Sachin Pilot putting up his claim strongly as the two leaders had late night meetings with the Congress President.
 
Both Pilot and Gehlot had separate meetings with Gandhi, unlike in Madhya Pradesh where the two aspirants -- Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia -- had met him together. 
 
Party observer for Rajasthan K. C. Venugopal, who was also at the meetings, told the media later that taking decision on leadership was not easy but it will be announced on Friday.
 
"Taking decision on CM is not an easy job. The final decision will be taken tomorrow in a meeting to be held here around 10 a.m.," he said. 
 
Pilot, who had a meeting with Gandhi earlier in the day, reached Gandhi's residence at 10.30 p.m on Thursday.
 
The meeting came hours after the leadership issue was settled in Madhya Pradesh, with Gandhi tweeting his picture with Kamal Nath and Scindia, who were both chief ministerial aspirants. The smiling picture carried the line "The two most powerful warriors are patience and time - Leo Tolstoy."
 
Kamal Nath was chosen as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and both he and Scindia flew down to Bhopal to announce the decision.
 
Party sources said Gandhi is keen to give a similar message for Rajasthan as well.
 
Both in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress missed the majority mark by two seats and is now dependent on some external support. 
 
Pilot, who stayed put in Delhi, appealed to party workers to maintain peace and saying that he would "welcome" any decision that will be taken by the party. 
 
He issued the appeal on Twitter as reports emerged that Gehlot has been picked by the party leadership to lead the government and that his (Pilot's) supporters were protesting on the streets demanding that Pilot should be made the Chief Minister. 
 
The name of 67-year-old Gehlot, a two-time Chief Minister, is expected to be announced by the party on Friday.
 
Earlier, Gehlot and Pilot met Rahul Gandhi. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is understood to have counselled Rahul Gandhi over relying on "experience" as it was a verdict with a narrow margin of victory and a seasoned leader would be better equipped to deal with a situation in which the party would need the backing of MLAs belonging to BSP and Independents, who won 13 seats. Most of them are Congress rebels. 
 
The party won 99 seats and with its pre-poll alliance partner it managed to touch the halfway mark in the 200-member Assembly. 
 
Pilot reportedly put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief.
 
Gehlot, who was planning to leave for Jaipur but was asked to stay back in Delhi, also appealed to workers to maintain peace and said any decision taken by the leadership will be acceptable to all. 
 
Asked by the media why he returned from the airport, he said he could leave at night or on Friday accompanied by central party observer K.C. Venugopal and Avinash Pande, who is the party in charge in the state.
 
About the delay in announcing a decision, Gehlot said: "Such decisions take time because three states are involved. It is good that the leadership has decided to consult various leaders and workers."
 
Replying to another question, he said, "What right BJP has to question us on the decisions? A signal has gone from the elections to the country that those who created an atmosphere of hate have been wiped out from the Hindi heartland. And this is what will happen in the Lok Sabha elections too."
 
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the central Congress observers met the newly elected MLAs in a bid to find out who they would prefer as Chief Minister.
 
The MLAs authorised Gandhi to take the call on the Chief Minister's name.
 
Both Gehlot and Pilot had also called on Governor Kalyan Singh on Wednesday evening and staked claim to form the government. Both contested the Assembly elections and won their seats.
 
IANS
 

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Scindia, Gehlot, Pilot meet Rahul ahead of CM decision

Hectic parleys were on at Congress President Rahul Gandhi's residence on Thursday to choose the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where the party dislodged the BJP from power in the Assembly elections.

Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi
Hectic parleys were on at Congress President Rahul Gandhi's residence on Thursday to choose the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where the party dislodged the BJP from power in the Assembly elections.
 
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were also present during the consultations when party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is a contender for the Chief Minister post in Madhya Pradesh, met Rahul Gandhi.
 
Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, who are aspirants in Rajasthan, also met Rahul Gandhi.
 
Gehlot and Pilot reached Gandhi's residence one after the other to apprise the party chief of their views. Central party observer for Rajasthan K.C. Venugopal also met Gandhi. 
 
The meetings came a day after newly-elected Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh passed unanimous resolutions authorising Rahul Gandhi to take a decision on who will lead the legislature party in the these states.
 
Scindia and Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath are contenders for the post of Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh.
 
The Congress, which fell two short of the majority mark in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, has staked claim to form the government with the support of Independents 
(Congress rebels), Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party MLAs. 
 
In Rajasthan the party got 99 seats and crossed the halfway mark with its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal in the 200-member Assembly
 
The Congress has registered a landslide victory in Chhattisgarh.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul to announce MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan CM names

Amid intense negotiations, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that he will soon announce the names of Chief Ministers for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi
Amid intense negotiations, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that he will soon announce the names of Chief Ministers for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
 
"We are taking inputs from different people in the party -- from party workers, MLAs... 
 
"We are getting a comprehensive answer to what the Congress party and others feel... of course you have to see a Chief Minister soon," he told reporters outside Parliament, as he left for his party office to meet Rajasthan contenders Sachin Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who reached New Delhi earlier in the day. 
 
In Madhya Pradesh, state Congress chief and veteran MP Kamal Nath and Jyotiradhitya Scindia are the two contenders for the hief Ministerial post, while Bhupesh Baghel has emerged as the front-runner in the race in Chhattisgarh, where the Congress won a landslide victory.
 
On Wednesday, Gandhi through an audio message, congratulated the party workers for the victory in the assembly elections in the three states and urged them to reveal their choice of Chief Minister.
 
"I want to ask you an important question: Who should be the chief minister? Please mention just one name. I'm the only person who would know whom you are naming. No one in the party will know. Please speak after the beep," he was heard saying. 
 
IANS
 

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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.
 
IANS
 

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