The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) impressive performance in 25 Zilla Parishads and 283 Panchayat Samitis has elevated it to number one position among the four major political parties in the State. It previously stood at number four.As per results made available by State Election Commission (SEC), BJP topped the chart by winning 406 seats out of 1,509 which went to polls. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) steps down to second position with 360 seats and Congress to third from its previous second with 309 seats.Despite the tough fight it offered the BJP in Mumbai and Thane, Sena finds itself at number four with 271 seats.In 2012, the seats won by NCP, Congress, Sena and BJP were 511, 419, 243 and 165 respectively.“Our wins have made us more humble than ever before. Now it is our responsibility to deliver on the promises that we made,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said after the victory on Thursday.Spectacular performanceThe BJP’s spectacular performance can be gauged from the fact that except for Jalgaon, Jalna, Beed, Wardha and Chandrapur the party could not reach double digit mark in 2012.While it retained dominance in Jalgaon, Jalna, Wardha and Chandrapur it wrested Congress strongholds Latur in Marathwada and Sangli in western Maharashtra.The BJP also managed to dent the Congress bastion of Kolhapur and Ahmednagar.For the Congress, the polls have turned out to be a forgettable affair. Except for senior leader Narayan Rane’s hometown of Sindhudurg and State unit chief Ashok Chavan’s home pitch Nanded, it does not enjoy any power on its own.Consolation win for NCPIn Pune, though the BJP all but routed other major political players in the municipal corporations, the NCP managed to retain the ZP, bagging 41 of the 75 seats. The Shiv Sena came second, winning 13 while the BJP secured only six seats.“The results of the ZP and Panchayat Samiti elections prove we still have the support of the rural voters in Pune district. Likewise, in the case of Satara and Ahmednagar,” said NCP MP Supriya Sule.The NCP coasted along in the Satara ZP, winning 34 of 64 seats. It emerged as the single-largest party in the Solapur ZP as well, winning 23 of the 68 seats. The BJP came second here, securing 15 seats.But the NCP’s brightest spot was a small upset it managed in Marathwada, by denting the BJP’s base in Beed, winning 25 of the 60 seats.This setback for BJP leader Pankaja Munde on her home-turf caused her to offer to resign soon after the results were announced.The chief architect of Ms. Munde’s defeat was her estranged cousin, NCP leader Dhananjay Munde, which made her defeat personal.In fact, both the NCP and the Congress made decent gains in Zilla Parishad elections in the Marathwada division. The NCP won the Osmanabad ZP, snaring 26 of the 55 seats.The Congress came off even worse than the NCP in the municipal polls. It performed abysmally in the Solapur Municipal Corporation and was routed in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, where it failed to open its account.Yet, as consolation, it emerged as the single-largest party in the Ahmednagar Zilla Parishad poll, winning 20 of the 72 seats. The NCP came a close second bagging 17 seats.Another commendable win was in the Konkan region, where the Congress scored an absolute majority in the Sindhudurg Zilla Parishad, winning 27 of the 50 seats.Century for GadkariIn Nagpur, the BJP has become the first party to get a clear majority in 40 years.Despite being at the helm of the Nagpur Municipal Council in the last two terms, and was dependant on other parties for outside support.“I was expecting 80 to 85 seats but 108 out of 151 is a great victory,” Union Minister and Nagpur MP Nitin Gadkari told reporters at his residence on Thursday.According to political observers, infighting in the Congress was one of the main reasons for the BJP’s victory.Until 2014, Nagpur was a Congress bastion. In the Lok Sabha elections that year Mr. Gadkari defeated seven-time Congress MP from Nagpur, Vilas Muttemwar, by 2,84,000 votes. In the Assembly elections four months later, the BJP defeated Congress in all six Assembly segments.
NAGPUR: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday rejected a petition filed by Nagpur Congress president Vikas Thakre demanding recognition of his nominated membership of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC).A Division Bench of Justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Arun Upadhyay refused to admit Mr. Thakre’s petition challenging the election of Congress leader Kishor Jichkar as a nominated member of the NMC.Mr. Jichkar’s nomination was supported by a rebel Congress group, which had revolted against the party’s city unit and appointed its own leader of Opposition in the NMC earlier this year. Seventeen of the 29 Congress corporators were recognised as the original Congress group by the Nagpur Divisional Commissioner. The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had also endorsed Tanaji Wanve’s appointment as the leader of Opposition by rejecting the city Congress’s petition challenging it.Mr. Thakre had alleged in his petition that his nomination to the NMC was the legal one as the rebel group was yet to be recognised by the Divisional Commissioner when he had filed his nomination. After Thursday’s ruling, he plans to move the Supreme Court. Both claim BJP hand“This is the BJP’s conspiracy to divide the Congress. They are scared that I would expose their scandals on the floor of the House. If this is allowed, everywhere people will walk away from the party and form their separate groups. The party will take action against the rebel group,” he told The Hindu.The rebel group, however, alleged that the revolt was forced because of Mr. Thakre and his mentor and former Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar’s “high-handedness”. “Under Mr. Thakre’s leadership, the party performed dismally in the NMC election earlier this year, and he lost his own seat. He was given a ticket to contest the Assembly election and lost, but still continues to be the city chief. How can one person be allowed to have a complete say in matters when he failed in elections continuously?” a corporator from the rebel group asked.He said, “Mr. Thakre has a secret understanding with the BJP and has weakened the Nagpur Congress. Our revolt has kept the real Congress alive in Nagpur.”
Pune: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday urged Congress president Rahul Gandhi to avoid making premature remarks about the prime ministership before the parliamentary polls. “There is a proverb in Marathi: bajaarat toori ani bhat bhatnila maari (the lentil pod is still in the market and the priest is beating up his wife). This means there is an argument about something that does not merit any discussion. So, let the ‘tur’ come first and then discuss,” Mr. Pawar said in Satara. “It is too early to talk or indulge in wishful thinking about future calculations. Let us first contest the elections and win a sizeable number of seats in order to be able to form a government,” Mr. Pawar said.At the same time, the NCP leader acknowledged that only the Congress, among all opposition parties, has a traditional presence in all states as opposed to the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, or the Telangana Rashtra Samiti. Mr. Gandhi on Tuesday had said he is ready for the PM’s job if the Congress wins the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Two Chinese nationals were arrested in Patna after liquor bottles were seized from their rooms in a guest house of the mobile company they have been working with for the past six months. Bihar was declared a dry State from April, 2016 after the new stringent excise and prohibition law was enforced in the State.The two Chinese nationals, W. Chuynagyong and Tiyandong, were taken into custody on Sunday night from a guest house running in a four-storey house located at Ali Nagar area of Anisabad under Gardanibagh police station in Patna. The local police seized three Indian Made Foreign Liquor bottles from two rooms they were living in. Both the Chinese nationals are said to be employees of a Chinese mobile phone company and the guest house was booked in the name of Oppo Mobiles (DS) Private Limited.“One IMFL bottle was seized from room no. 201/B and two bottles from room no. 220/B in which the two Chinese nationals were staying for last six months with others from their country,” said a Gardanibagh police officer. Altogether nine Chinese nationals have been staying in the guest house for past several months and their passports and visas are being verified, the police officer told journalists.Test negativeThe breath analyser test conducted on the accused reported negative but under the new excise and prohibition law even possession of liquor bottles draws stringent punishment. The Chinese embassy has been informed about the arrest of their nationals, the police added. The manager and other employees of the guest house are being questioned by the police.Over 1,27,000 people have been arrested in the State connection with more than 1,05,000 FIRs lodged for prohibition violations so far. “Only 8,123 persons are behind bars for liquor offences,” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had said on March 12 this year while addressing a function in Patna. Mr. Kumar, however, has hinted at some amendments to the new Bihar Excise and Prohibition Act, 2016 to stop its “misuse”.
Rashtriya Janata Dal successfully managed to bring the issue of alleged mass rape at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar at the centre stage with a joint opposition protest at Jantar Mantar on Saturday.RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav was joined by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D. Raja and Atul Kumar Anjan, Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and Trinamool Congress’ Dinesh Trivedi.Mr. Gandhi said that the country had made up its mind against the BJP government. Pointing out that the Opposition was united on the stage, Mr. Gandhi said, “On one side is the BJP/RSS and on the other is the rest of the country. Indians are saying that they do not like what happened in the last four years.”Mr. Gandhi said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar must immediately act against the culprits in the sexual assault case in the Muzzafarpur shelter.In a 12-minute speech, Tejashwi Yadav accused the Nitish Kumar government of turning a blind eye to the crime. “Nitish ji says he is hurt and is sad. Then why did he get the prime accused Brajesh Thakur’s name removed from the FIR… why did he take this long to act on social audit by TISS?” he questioned.He said that Bihar was living under ‘Rakshas Raj’, giving references from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. “In Bihar, Raavan is kidnapping Sita every minute. Every minute, a Duryodhan is de-robing a Draupadi,” he said. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said fast track courts should be set up to award the death sentence to the accused for such a heinous crime.”I demand that this case be probed in three months and the accused be hanged,” he said.He also sought to remind the JD(U)-BJP government in Bihar that the foundation of the UPA government had been rocked following the protest over Nirbhaya’s rape.This was the first political protest where Mr. Gandhi shared the stage with Mr Kejriwal. During Mr Kejriwal’s protest at the Delhi Lieutenant Governor’s office, the Congress had refused to support AAP. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said BJP’s slogan “beti bachao” needed reworking. “We need to change this government… the slogan of ‘beti bachao’ is now ‘save beti from BJP’,” he said. Former JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said the BJP was not saving the daughters of the country but was busy saving cows.
As the row over Dhangar reservation continues to stall Assembly proceedings, fearing encroachment on their constitutional reservation, tribal MLAs across all parties have decided to open up a new front to counter the possible inclusion of Dhangars in their quota.An all-party meeting of tribal MLAs has been called on Wednesday by K.C. Padvi (Congress) to discuss the possible encroachment on their reservation. “One of the major issues we will discuss is the demand for tabling of report on Dhangar reservation by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. We will also discuss the recommendations of this report as it will have direct impact on our constitutional right,” Mr. Padvi said.The Assembly has 26 tribal MLAs, from 25 seats reserved for ST candidates and one from the general category seat. While the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena have 12 and two MLAs respectively, the Congress has six, Nationalist Congress Party four, and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi and Communist Party of India (Marxist) one each. “All tribal MLAs are united on this issue. There is nothing wrong in demanding that TISS report be made public. We also need to analyse it and study,” said Mr. Padvi, who is also one of the senior most tribal MLAs in the current Assembly. Other issues likely to be discussed at the meeting include action on bogus enrolment in government jobs by securing fake Scheduled Tribe certificate, holding two meetings of Janjati Sallagar Parishad (a body formed of tribal MLAs headed by state governor which takes policy decisions on tribal issues) annually. “If the bogus tribals are shunted out, there will be a vacancy of around one lakh posts. This needs to be addressed at the earliest,” he said. Asked whether ruling party MLAs would also join the meeting, Mr. Padvi said they will, as any encroachment on tribal reservation would hurt them as well.
Policemen carry seized computer hardware and other items after a press conference at a police station in Noida on November 29, 2018. Alleged fraudsters are presented before the media at a police station in Noida on November 29, 2018. | Photo Credit: AP | Photo Credit: AP Those arrested were mostly people in their 20s and early 30s who quit their jobs in call centres. Police recovered hard drives, servers, laptops, cellphones and computers from them, Mr. Sharma said. In 2016, 70 people were arrested in Mumbai for allegedly cheating thousands of Americans. They would call their victims from call centres in Mumbai and tell them that they owed unpaid taxes and should buy prepaid cash cards to settle the debts or face jail. Noida Police have said that that they have arrested nearly two dozen people on suspicion of defrauding people around the world by sending fake pop-up messages warning them that their computers were infected with a virus and offering to rectify the problem at a price. Noida Police officer Ajay Pal Sharma said those arrested on November 27 and November 28 posed as representatives of Microsoft and other companies and used their logos. The arrests were made after input from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol, Mr. Sharma said. Microsoft was the complainant in the case.The pop-up messages prompted victims in the United States, Britain, Australia and other countries to call a phone number shown on their computer screens, he said. They would then be scammed out of money in exchange for supposedly fixing the problem.
The Yogi Adityanath government remains silent on the report submitted by a four-member social justice committee formed to review the situation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the State. However, a political discussion has already ensued, as the report suggests limited quota for dominant castes like Yadavs and Kurmis.Poll tactic The move is being seen as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) tactic to unite the Most Backward Castes against the Yadav community, as the party prepares to to face, most likely, a joint Samajwadi Party (SP)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) force in 2019. While the report has still not been made public or tabled in the Assembly, despite being sent to the government in October, according to an allegedly leaked copy of the report, the panel has recommended a split of the 27% OBC quota into three categories. They would be the Pichda Varg (Backward Class) at 7%, the Ati Pichda (More Backward) at 11%, and the Atyant Pichda (Most Backward) at 9%.The panel, headed by retired Allahabad High Court Justice Raghavendra Kumar, has listed 79 sub-castes under the OBC category. Of these, nine fall under Backward Class, 37 under More Backward and 33 under Most Backward categories. Significantly, listed under the Backward Class, who may then be restricted to 7% quota, are castes like the Yadav, Kurmi and Jat. The panel says that these castes are politically, socially, economically and culturally “strong” and have secured employment in government jobs at a ratio higher than their population, while also enjoying influential political representation. “They have not been socially oppressed and feel proud in telling their castes,” reads the over 400-page report.‘Specific castes’The More Backward category would include castes like Gurjar, Kushwaha-Maurya-Shakya, Prajapati, Gaderia-Pal, Baghel, Sahu, Kumhar, Teli and Lodh. The panel says that though these castes may not face cultural exclusion, they have poor representation politically and economically. Their employment rate is only 50% in comparison to their population, while some specific castes among them have been securing more employment in comparison to other castes, leading to the emergence of a new middle class, says the report. The third category, the Most Backward, consists of the most deprived castes, who are backward in all respects, while mostly employed either in lower levels of services (Grades 3 and 4), and having zero representation. Their political drawing power is also limited, the report notes. They include the riverine castes like Mallah, Nishad, Kewat, Kashyap and Kahar, apart from Bind, Rajbhar, Bhar, Loniya Chauhan, Dheevar and Ghosi.The committee was set up by Mr. Adityanath in May to explore the sub-categorisation of the OBC quota, amid demands from the BJP’s ally in U.P., the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP). The SBSP’s leader, Cabinet Minister Om Prakash Rajbhar, has been demanding the implementation of the report and touring various districts of U.P. to raise his voice for it. On December 24, the SBSP will stage demonstrations at all District Headquarters, demanding the implementation of the report and the sub-categorisation of the OBC quota. Mr. Rajbhar says only a few dominant castes are enjoying the benefits of the OBC quota. “We will sit on a dharna till the report is implemented,” he said.Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav held two back-to-back meetings with Backward Caste leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday, warning them of “conspiracies” to divide and mislead the 85%. “The BJP has lost on all issues. It is doing the politics of divide and rule. The BJP always says that the number of OBCs should be counted. We say everyone should be counted, because the BJP itself believes in sabka saath sabka vikaas — everyone gets rights and honour as per their population,” Mr. Yadav told reporters on Tuesday. A similar report was released under the Rajnath Singh government in 2001, which divided the OBC into three categories, isolating the Yadavs to a mere 5% quota.However, it could not get implemented as the BJP soon lost power in the State and it was also stayed in court.
The Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) school near Pune Airport was on Monday transformed into a beehive of activity as 1,700 adolescents gathered in the school premises to attempt a Guinness World Record on generating awareness on menstrual health and hygiene.Organisers of the event claimed that this was the largest ever group of adolescent girls and boys “under one roof” for such a awareness session. on menstrual health and hygiene.The programme was the joint initiative of the Bengaluru-based Motherhood Hospital, a leading healthcare chain specialising in women and children’s health and the Pune-based Spherule Foundation, an NGO that works on women’s empowerment and health-related issues.“We were recently approached by the Records Committee of the Guinness Book of World Records who encouraged us to conduct this event on a larger scale as we had been specializing in the field of women and children’s health. Hence, we tied up with the Spherule Foundation to conceptualize this event of educating adolescent girls and boys on the importance of menstrual health and hygiene,” said Dr. Rajeshwari Pawar, consultant, gynaecologist and obstetrician, Motherhood Hospitals.In her 40-minute address, Dr. Pawar addressed the students in a lively 40-minute speech in which she spoke of the importance of menstrual hygiene and busted stereotypes and myths associated with the subject.She said the unique initiative was aimed at dispelling the many doubts faced by young girls regarding menstruation.“The point of this gathering is to spark awareness among girls and boys on a subject often swept under the carpet,” said Dr. Pawar.She observed that a 2016 survey conducted by UNICEF in the Indian hinterland showed that 80% of the subjects stored their menstrual cloth in an unsanitary place for further use while 50% failed to dry their menstrual rags outside and in full sunlight which is an essential condition required to kill bacteria. “Our joint initiative is trying to help our society understand the importance of menstruation and how to overcome the stigma around it,” remarked Dr. Pawar.“The global silence and shame around menstruation is alarming. In India alone, 23 million girls drop out of schools annually. This translates into one in every five girls owing to lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities, like availability of sanitary napkins and a logical awareness of menstruation,” said Dr. Geeta Bora, Founder, Spherule Foundation.Speaking on the initiative, Vijayarathna V, CEO, Motherhood Hospitals, said: “There is a huge societal gap and lack of knowledge on menstrual hygiene. In India barely 18% of 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins with the rest unable to afford them, often resorting to using unhygienic substances such as newspapers, sand, leaves, mud or unsterilised clothes leading to vaginal and urinary tract infections, infertility and other reproductive health complications.”
Days after two tourists from Kashmir sustained injuries following a brawl with locals in Shimla’s tourist spot Kufri, the Himachal Pradesh police on Monday denied the “mob lynching angle” in the case. The police said initial investigation has revealed that a fight broke out between Zaffar Iqbal and Arshad Aziz and a group of people who ply horses at Kufri. An FIR regarding the incident was registered at the Dhalli police station on January 10. The police are yet to make any arrests in the case. “Zaffar Iqbal and Arshad Aziz from Poonch district of J&K, who had come to Kufri on a trip, got into a confrontation with a group of horse owners. Following an argument, blows were exchanged from both sides,” Investigating Officer Dharam Singh said. “Investigation is under way. The initial probe revealed that there was no mob lynching angle or use of any racial slurs against them. We are waiting for the final opinion on the medical report. Once we receive the report, we will make arrests if required under the law,” he said, adding that one of the horse owners also got injured during the fight. “We recovered the licensed revolver of Zaffar, which, the horse owners alleged, was used to fire in the air. Both men were later released on bail,” Mr. Singh added. For his part, Iqbal said he and his two friends reached Shimla on January 9. They planned to drive down to Kufri from Shimla, about 16 km away, but were not allowed to use their private vehicle.“We later booked a cab. However, the cab organisers kept jumping the queue and delayed our journey without furnishing any reasons. When we raised the matter, a furious mob comprising drivers and ponywallas started beating us up. We were told ‘this is not Kashmir’. We feared for our lives. I pulled out my licensed pistol and fired in the air to save our lives. We were bleeding and were again beaten up while being taken to the police station,” said Mr. Aziz, who runs his own business in New Delhi.‘Disheartening’ Mr. Aziz said such acts of mob violence at a tourist place like Shimla was disheartening. “I appeal to the police to act against those who attempted to kill us,” he said.
An 18-month-old child fell into a 60-feet-deep borewell in Haryana’s Balsamand village on Thursday and a massive operation is underway to rescue him, officials said. The child is safe, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in Hisar, Joginder Singh, said. Oxygen tubes have been dropped to help the child breathe, the officials said, adding that biscuits and juices have also been sent down the borewell. Nadim, fell into the borewell when he was playing with his friends outside his house, according to a villager.“The rescue operations are on. NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) personnel and experts from the army, assisted by local authorities are on the job. As of now, the child is safe,” he said. Earthmovers and other equipment have been pressed into service to rescue the child, and a medical team is also at the site, the officials said. On how long could it take to rescue the boy, the DSP said, “Massive operation is on, but these are technical issues and hence, no definite time-line can be given.”Police were informed about the incident by the boy’s family members and villagers. The child’s father is a labourer. Hisar Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Meena said legal action will be taken against the person who dug the borewell without taking permission from the department concerned. The accident has again brought to the fore the dangers posed by uncovered borewells, which have turned into death traps for children.
The Enforcement Directorate informed a Delhi court on Wednesday that it has summoned Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, for interrogation in a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam. ED told Special Judge Arvind Kumar that Mr. Puri, Chairman of Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt Ltd, was summoned for confronting him with Sushen Mohan Gupta, an arrested middleman in the case, whose custodial interrogation was on Wednesday extended by three more days by the court. Seeking the extension of Mr. Gupta’s custody, ED told the court that he was required to be confronted with various people including Mr. Puri in the case pertaining to the now scrapped ₹3,600 crore chopper deal. Mr. Puri, who was summoned to join the probe on Wednesday, denied having “any connection or involvement of any kind in defence or the case”.In a statement, his company said: “He would be fully cooperating with the ED investigation and provide any clarification or information as may be required.” Middleman’s statementAccording to ED sources, Mr. Puri’s name appeared in the statement recorded by middleman and Dubai-based businessman Rajeev Saxena, who recently turned approver in the case. ED’s special public prosecutors D.P. Singh and N.K. Matta also told the court that the agency wanted to identify one “RG”, in whose name entries of over ₹50 crore were made in Mr. Gupta’s diaries.“The custodial interrogation of Gupta is required as he is misguiding the probe by deliberately giving wrong explanation of abbreviations in his diaries wherein abbreviation ‘RG’ finds mention in many pages as well as pen drive data.“More than ₹50 crore shown to have been received from ‘RG’ between 2004 to 2016, whereas the ‘RG’ identified by Mr. Gupta, i.e., Rajat Gupta, had admitted to have cash transactions with Sushen from 2007 onwards and the same are being quantified,” the agency told the court. The agency submitted that Sushen said he only knew one ‘RG’ who was Rajat Gupta, whereas Rajat denied the transactions made in the name of RG and said he not the person being referred to.
Collectors, superintendents of police (SP) and candidates contesting elections in the Maoist-prone districts were alerted by Odisha Director-General of Police (DGP) B.K. Sharma in the wake of the Maoist landmine blast in Dantewada district in adjoining Chhattisgarh on Tuesday that killed five persons including a BJP MLA.Polling will be held on April 11 in Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi, Berhampur Lok Sabha constituencies and 28 Assembly seats. The parliamentary constituencies include Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi, Nuapada and Gajapati districts that have Maoist presence and border Maoist-prone regions of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The Maoists have given a call for poll boycott.After the Dantewada violence ahead of the first phase polling, Mr. Sharma also issued safety directives for candidates. He advised them not to move out during night and to inform security personnel about their travel during the daytime.Two landmines foundOn Tuesday, a CRPF team unearthed two landmines planted by Maoists under a culvert in the Andharghati area of Adava police station limits in Gajapati district. These landmines contained around 50kg explosives.On April 11, a total of 60,03,707 voters will exercise their franchise at 7,233 polling booths, of which 2,375 have been identified as critical. Personnel of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) will be deployed at 777 booths, which are mostly in Maoist-infested areas.The Border Security Force (BSF) has been entrusted with election security duty in Odisha for the first time. Inspector-General (IG) Ashwini Kumar Singh pointed out that paramilitary force has been deployed for safe conduct of polling in major Maoist-hit areas of Nabarangpur and Koraput parliamentary constituencies and 14 Assembly seats.
Kusheshwar Bhagat, 48, has been running a ‘pav bhaji’ stall off Jharsa Road in Part-II of Sector 15 here for more than a decade now. But don’t mistake him for an ordinary street food vendor by the roadside.One of the seven Independent contestants in the fray for the Lok Sabha election in Gurugram, Mr. Bhagat is contesting for the third consecutive time from this parliamentary constituency. He fought two Vidhan Sabha elections earlier. But could never save his deposit.Voters disillusioned“I polled 7,821 votes in 2014 LS election, the highest so far in the four elections,” says Mr. Bhagat, who has moveable assets of around ₹2.5 lakh, besides a Nano car and a house in Delhi. “The voters seem disillusioned with all parties this time. I hope to get around 3 lakh votes… they will vote me to power one day,” says Mr. Bhagat, contesting on the plank of health and education to all.Like him, affordable health and education, development, agrarian crisis, corruption and unemployment are high on the agenda of the Independent candidates in Gurugram. Pawan Kumar, 34, a resident of Gurugram, says he decided to fight the election to raise his voice against lack of jobs and the plight of government schools. “The local youth are not getting employed in the industries in the area. The government schools are in a pitiable condition. Farmers are in distress and the soldiers are dying,” says Mr. Pawan, a graduate, claiming the support of a dozen villages. He says his election symbol, a bucket, will help him strike an instant chord with the voters. He hopes to win with a margin of around one lakh votes.A mini-worldBikaner’s Virender, who claims to have contested five Rajasthan Assembly elections, says that Gurugram is a mini-world with people having come and settled from across the globe. He wants to make it a truly “Millennium City”.Sudesh Kumar of Pataudi, a Scheduled Caste, took the plunge to prepare for the Assembly election later this year. Self-employed, Mr. Sudesh says this Lok Sabha election is a “mock test” for him as he wants to acquaint himself with the election process.Most of these Independent candidates, coming from humble backgrounds, are contesting on shoestring budgets with little money to spare for the canvassing. Mr. Pawan says he is yet to get his campaign material printed and has sought financial support from his father and relatives. He carries his visiting card along and distributes it during his door-to-door campaign.Mr. Bhagat says he spent around ₹15,000 on his campaign in the previous election, but this time he is pinning his hopes on the free publicity through the media. “Every day an article is carried on me in the newspapers. It is enough publicity.I need not spend much on the campaign this time.” says Kusheshwar.Mr. Virender says that he will reach the voters through door-to-door campaign, distributing handbills and send text messages. Mr. Sudesh is active on all popular social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, and updates all his canvassing pictures online for the maximum reach.
Like many freshwater turtles, the slider Trachemys scripta can spend the whole winter resting at the bottom of a cold lake with no oxygen. Are they totally comatose, or do they keep a bit of a light on in their brains? To find out, researchers inserted electrodes into anesthetized turtles’ heads. The reptiles’ neurons responded to light and vibration—even when the turtles were deprived of oxygen, the group reports online today in Biology Letters. The team also placed nonanesthetized turtles in cold, oxygen-free water in a dark lab for 2 weeks, to make them think it was winter. When the researchers turned on the lights, the turtles started moving around in their tanks. Warming the water had the same effect. (Oxygen and vibration didn’t.) The team concludes that the turtles aren’t actually comatose in winter; they’re waiting for signs of spring in a state of “slow vigilance.”See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)
Afraid of falling from a great height? Maybe snakes are, too. New research shows that several species of these legless reptiles, when climbing a wrist-thick pole, grip it more tightly than strictly necessary to keep from plummeting to the ground. In lab experiments, researchers first had 10 snakes from five different species (including Morelia spilota, the carpet python, shown) slither across a flat, sensor-studded surface covered with a textured fabric to determine the force they typically used to move forward. Then, the researchers had the snakes climb a vertical, 2.4-meter-tall pole covered with the same fabric and sensors. (All snakes scaled the pole using a “concertina” movement, gripping with one section of the body while pushing or pulling other sections upward. Click here to see a video of a carpet python climbing, annotated with bars that show the pressure it exerted on the pole moment by moment.) On average, the snakes clung to the pole with at least three times more force than they actually needed to counteract gravity and move up the surface, the researchers report online today in Biology Letters. The exertion needed to generate this “safety factor,” which often exceeded five times the necessary force, requires substantial muscular effort in the short term but generally yields an evolutionary benefit to the snake because the consequences of failure (i.e., falling out of a tall tree) are so dire, the researchers say.
Scores of patient groups, scientific societies, and university coalitions devote much of their time to lobbying the U.S. Congress for more funding for biomedical research and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This week another group, ACT for NIH: Advancing Cures Today, joined their ranks.The organization stands out for a few reasons: It was launched with largesse from a new face, New York City and Houston, Texas, real estate investor Jed Manocherian, whose time on the Board of Visitors of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston stoked his concern about NIH’s past decade of flat funding. Its all-star advisory board includes Nobel Prize winner David Baltimore and MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho. And it is headed by biomedical science lobbying veteran Patrick White, who has spent more than 2 decades working on Capitol Hill, in government, and for various research interest groups. Until 3 months ago, White was the top legislative aide to NIH Director Francis Collins.White discussed his organization’s plans with ScienceInsider. (The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity).Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Q: Why now?A: The U.S. biomedical research enterprise is in crisis. NIH has lost 25% of its purchasing power since 2003 due to flat budgets and cuts. We are losing a generation of young scientists. People are shutting down their labs. They’re laying people off and delaying equipment purchases. This is hurting our economy and job creation and growth. And we are doing this to ourselves at a time when other countries are making serious efforts in terms of upping their investments in biomedical research.Q: Lots of other groups make those same arguments. Why not just throw in with them? A: A lot of other groups do very good work but they also have a broader agenda. We are trying to bring a laserlike focus to the issue of NIH funding. What we aim to do is work directly with key lawmakers [in Congress] who are interested in trying to address this challenge. And what we’re doing is complementary to what the rest of the community is doing.I haven’t talked to a single member of Congress who is opposed to more biomedical research funding. There’s been a shift in the tone in the last 2 years where more and more members of Congress are willing to have an open discussion about our disinvestment in NIH.And so in what is overall a quite bleak picture, I think some members now are realizing we need to do something. That’s the opportunity that I’m trying to seize.Q: Talk a little bit about tactics. A: The idea is to identify and work with members on both sides of the aisle who over the last 3 to 5 years have either done or said important things about the state of NIH funding and essentially to open a dialogue with them and see if there isn’t some sort of possibility of a consensus to try and address the funding crisis.Do we have a plan? Do we have a legislative proposal for how we’re going to fix this? We do not. But there have been amazing conversations in NIH’s appropriations hearings over the last couple of years, where members have started talking about other sources of revenue. There’s even been discussion of perhaps some kind of mandatory funding. We’re not endorsing or pushing anything. We just want to see something good and something significant happen to turn this around.Q: Does your group have a planned lifespan? A: We actually don’t intend to be in business for a long time. We’re sort of looking at this as an 18-month to maybe 2-year process. My charge is to succeed or fail, and do so quickly.
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