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Tuesday,19-January-2021

National News

Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattoo joins Apni Party

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A day after getting elected as the Mayor of Srinagar Muncipal Corporation (SMC), Junaid Mattoo joined the Apni Party on Friday.

Apni Party was launched by Altaf Bukhari, a former minister in the PDP-BJP government, after the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year.

Mattoo had been removed as the Mayor of Srinagar Muncipal Corporation in June 2020 after he lost a no confidence motion moved against him.

Mattoo was a member of the Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference (PC). Later, he quit the PC in 2013 to join the National Conference (NC) and became the party spokesperson. He quit the NC and rejoined the PC in 2018. However, he quit the PC again and joined the Apni Party on Friday.

“Apni Party has come as a breath of fresh air and is the only credible alternative to the politics of exploitation heralded by the traditional parties,” Mattoo said.

While welcoming Mattoo into the party, Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari said that their endeavour would be to make Srinagar a world class city.

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Pinarayi Vijayan asks KSRTC MD not to issue public comments on corporation

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (File Photo: IANS)

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has come down heavily on Managing Director of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, Biju Prabhakar, and asked him not to issue public statements against officials and employees arbitrarily.

The IAS officer at the KSRTC helm will be meeting the trade union representatives on Monday and brief the Chief Minister after the meeting on the developments, sources in KSRTC told IANS.

Prabhakar last week in a press conference said that a section of officers and employees were not doing their duties properly and some of them have been indulging in turmeric and ginger farming while accepting huge salary from the corporation which is falling into deep debts.

The KSRTC managing director had also lashed out against the executive director of the corporation and said that this officer was responsible for misappropriation of huge funds from the organization. The officer, Sreekumar was transferred to Kochi immediately.

CITU leader and Member of Parliament Elamaram Kareem had come out against the KSRTC Managing Director and said that he should not speak on such matter in public.

The INTUC and BMS had also come out against Biju Prabhakar.

Prabhakar, it is learnt have communicated to the Chief minister that a section of employees are responsible for the crises faced by the corporation and that some officials who were working at the headquarters were responsible for scuttling all development plans to put the loss making body on track.

He said that even CNG buses were not used for plying as certain employees wanted to pilfer diesel from the vehicles.

The KSRTC is planning a subsidiary company SWIFT to fund the development of the corporation including purchases of buses.

The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) will be funding the formation of SWIFT and the required amount for the purchases of the buses. The unions are in collision course on this stating that this would lead to the KSRTC providing backdoor employment and to reduce the number of permanent workers.

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We will not quarrel, but celebrate R-Day: Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait

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The farmers protesting against the new Central farm laws have announced a ‘Tractor March’ on Republic Day. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard the petition of the Delhi Police on the issue. The apex court said it is for the Delhi Police to decide whether it would allow the farmers to enter Delhi or not.

The apex court asserted that it is the Delhi Police and not the judiciary which has the authority to decide on the issue.

Responding to this SC order, the National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Rakesh Tikait, said the highest court has taken cognizance of the matter, it is a good thing that the law and order situation must be looked into by the police. At the same time, the farmers leaders have said they would take out a parade on Outer Ring Road in the national capital so the police should come and talk to them and remove the roadblocks for the parade.

Tikait said the citizens of the country cannot be stopped by constitutional institutions or the police from celebrating Republic Day. “We are not going to the national capital to fight. We will celebrate the R-Day in Delhi, earlier we used to celebrate it in the fields and villages. Now we are here in Delhi so we will celebrate the day here,” the BKU spokesperson added.

The Delhi Police had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to ban the ‘Tractor March’ by the farmers on January 26. They had said that law and order could be affected if the march is allowed on Republic Day.

During the SC hearing, it said the entry of farmers into Delhi is a law and order issue and who are allowed to come to Delhi or not is for the Delhi Police to decide.

However, he farmers have said they would take out a parade on January 26 on Outer Ring Road. The parade would include tableaux in vehicles that would showcase the agricultural reality in various states in addition to historical regional and other protest marches.

The farmers would hoist the national flag on these vehicles and also carry the flags of the farmers organisations. No flag of any political party would be allowed in the parade.

There would be participation of the families of the martyrs of the farmer protests, defence service personnel, reputed sportspersons, women farmers etc. Several states are expected to be represented in the parade.

The farmers who can’t come to Delhi to participate in the parade will organise parades in various state capitals and district headquarters.

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Maharashtra CM’s tweet on border dispute: Karnataka CM warns not to politicise issue

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Leaders cutting across political lines in Karnataka, including Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, on Monday came down heavily on Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s tweet on “incorporating Marathi-speaking areas” in Karnataka into Maharashtra.

In a series of tweets, Yediyurappa through his official handle @CMofKarnataka declared that Mahajan Commission report’s recommendations on the border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is “absolute and conclusive”.

“Maharashtra CM’s raking up border issue with us is smacked with arrogance and audacity. His statement on Belagavi is a slap on the face of the country’s federal structure. He should realise this as it is a foregone conclusion when both states have agreed and implemented Mahajan Commission report’s recommendations long ago,” he said.

In another tweet, he said that it was painful to note that the person occupying CM’s post should have indulged in politicking over the border dispute.

“This is nothing but an attempt to disrupt the harmonious atmosphere in Karnataka. Marathas living in Karnataka assimilated with Kannada and Kannadigas very meaningfully, similarly Kannadigas living Maharashtra have assimilated with Marathas beautifully. Let this peaceful and affectionate coexistence not be disturbed by anyone including Maharashtra CM,” he urged and added that “the least I expect from Uddhav Thackerey is that he should respect our federal structure and laws that govern our land.”

On Sunday, Thackeray while paying tributes to the martyrs of the border hostilities asserted that bringing back Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka into Maharashtra was the only fitting tribute.

He also tweeted that “Bringing Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking areas into Maharashtra will be a true tribute to those who accepted martyrdom in the boundary battle. We are united and committed towards it.”

Asserting his commitment to solving the “border dispute”, Thackeray added he will fulfil his promise.

Thackeray had kicked off a row over the age-old border dispute between both states in December 2019, when he referred to Belagavi as “Karnataka-occupied-Maharashtra” in the Maharashtra Assembly.

Taking strong exception to these statements, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Siddaramaiah warned Thackeray to not “politicise the issue”.

Asserting that the Mahajan report on this issue is “final”, Siddaramaiah called out the Maharashtra CM for his “irresponsible statement”.

Siddaramaiah also appealed to Yediyurappa to give a befitting response to the “stupid comments” made by the Maharashtra CM.

Former Karnataka CM and JD-S leader H.D. Kumaraswamy also warned Maharashtra to not test the patience of peace loving Kannadigas by raking up “settled” border dispute long ago.

Kumaraswamy said Maharashtra CM’s statement shows nothing but the “expansionist mindset” of Uddhav Thackeray. “In order to prove that Belagavi is integral part of our state, culture and pride of our language, I had taken decision to hold Legislature Session in Belagavi by constructing Suvarna Vidhan Soudha there when I was the CM (2006 to 2008),” he said.

Karnataka Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi who is also Belagavi district in-charge minister said Thackeray’s remarks on Sunday on “incorporating Marathi-speaking areas” in Karnataka into Maharashtra is nothing but an attempt to create unnecessary confusion over the issue.

“Belagavi is an integral part of Karnataka. The Mahajan Commission report has already been accepted and there is no question of giving even an inch of land,” he asserted.

He accused the Maharashtra government of raising the issue to cover up its failures.

Kannada Development Authority (KDA) chairman T.S. Nagabharana too said that Thackeray has made the statement despite knowing that they will not be able to take even an inch of land from Karnataka.

Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj said instead of talking about Marathi-speaking areas, Maharashtra should give Solapur to Karnataka.

“Around 120 villages in the border district, where Kannada-speaking people are in majority, have been denied basic facilities. They want to be part of Karnataka,” Nagaraj claimed.

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