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Two-stage assembly by-elections advantage for AIADMK

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The two-stage by-elections for 22 vacant assembly seats in Tamil Nadu is advantageous for the ruling AIADMK as the pie has grown bigger now for a safe bite, while it is going to be an acid test for DMK President M.K. Stalin, political analysts said.

They also said in the present situation, there is no threat for the stability of the AIADMK government led by Chief Minister Palaniswami.

There are 22 assembly seats currently vacant in Tamil Nadu. The Election Commission had earlier announced by-elections on April 18 along with the Lok Sabha polls for 18 seats.

On Tuesday, the poll body announced by-elections for four more seats on May 19.

“The two-stage by-election for the 22 vacant assembly seats is advantageous for the ruling AIADMK. In the second phase, all the ministers can spend time in the four assembly seats and see to it that AIADMK wins them all,” Raveendhran Dhuraiswamy told IANS.

According to him, holding the by-elections for four assembly constituencies on May 19 is also good for the T.T.V. Dhinakaran-led AMMK party.

According to analysts, AIADMK may not find it difficult to win eight seats out of 22 to continue comfortably in power.

In the 234 member Tamil Nadu assembly, the ruling AIADMK has 114 members (including the Speaker), DMK-88, Congress-8, and the IUML and Independents one each.

To attain a simple majority, the AIADMK has to win just four seats in the by-elections. Factoring in the switching of camps by some of the lawmakers, the AIADMK has to win seven or eight seats in order to be safe.

On the other hand, the DMK has to win all the 22 seats to take the tally, along with its allies -Congress and IUML – to 119, just one number more than the simple majority.

Analysts are of the view that even if Chinkara’s AMMK wins a couple of seats, the DMK’s dream of coming to power by toppling the AIADMK government may not come true.

“Even if DMK wins all the 22 seats, it still needs the support of Congress to capture power. Congress, then, will demand its pound of flesh like being part of the Ministry.
The Congress can even demand the post of Deputy Chief Minister. The DMK has not shared power with Congress earlier,” political strategist John Arokiasamy told IANS.

On the other hand, if Dhinakarana’s AMMK wins a couple of seats, then the equation changes in favour of ruling AIADMK, analysts said.

“It will be an acid test for Stalin’s leadership. Assuming Dhinakaran’s AMMK wins some seats, what action Stalin will take will have to be seen,” Dhuraiswamy said.

He said that Dhinakaran may not join hands with the DMK if he emerges as a leader in his own right by winning seats, and the state government would survive.

“If Dhinakaran partners with DMK then he would fail as a leader,” Dhuraiswamy added.

“Why would Dhinakaran partner with DMK now knowing well that the latter will be in power when the assembly elections are held next year?” Arokiasamy asked.

“The AIADMK can comfortably manage the elections and win the needed number of seats to remain in power. It has to be seen whether Dhinakaran would allow DMK to get into power, if AMMK wins good number of seats, say four or five,” writer and political Commentator Maalan Narayanan told IANS.

According to Narayanan, the AMMK leader may go for a compromise with AIADMK.

There is also a possibility of Dhinakaran remaining solo and building his base to face the next assembly polls.

“If the BJP wins power at the Centre and the political situation in Tamil Nadu turns fluid, then the former can suspend the assembly for sometime to stall the DMK,” Narayanan said.

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Delhi a city of opportunities: Manish Sisodia to investors

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Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday asserted that capital’s GDP has doubled in the past seven years and its per capita income is three times the national average.

Addressing the ‘Invest India Exclusive Investment Forum’, Sisodia said that the national capital offers a plethora of opportunities for retail and e-commerce firms. “Delhi is a city of opportunities,” he said.

“Our state GDP has doubled in the past seven years and we have a per capita income of Rs 3,89,000 which is three times the national average. The highest growth on all economic indicators had been made possible due to the honest and progressive government,” the leader added.

The aim of the ‘Invest India’ forum was to bring the state government and potential investors on a common platform to share ideas and to showcase favourable policies, ready infrastructure, and other details of the industrial ecosystem of Delhi.

The adverse financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be more long-lasting than the health effects, he said, adding that the city is gearing up to revive its economy.

Sisodia said that Delhi has a substantial land bank for investment in sectors like tourism and hospitality, automobile parts, handloom and handicrafts, gems, jewellery and perfumes, packaged foods, leather goods and garments, steel fabrication, e-commerce, retail, Information Technology.

“The upcoming industrial hubs in Ranikhera Mundka, Baprola and Kanjhawala along with the Mundka North Warehousing Cluster has ample capacity available and makes Delhi an ideal destination for companies looking to set up retail or sourcing operations.”

The forum was attended by investors from 30 countries across the globe. Twenty industry sectors, including apparels, automobiles, e-commerce, healthcare, sportswear; from countries across the world like the USA, Japan, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, and Australia participated in the webinar.

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Congress demands CBI probe in Kerala gold smuggling case

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After the seizure of 30 kg Gold at Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Congress has upped the ante and demanded CBI inquiry into the case to probe collusion of CPI-M and BJP leaders.

Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a statement said, “Indian National Congress demands a thorough inquiry by the CBI into the extent of this crime, and individuals in the ruling parties, the CPI-M at the State Level and the BJP at the Central Level.”

It is also likely that the individuals involved could not have done what they did, vis-a-vis the “audacious smuggling” of gold under the watch of the authorities and using diplomatic cargo which enjoys diplomatic immunity, without the support or knowledge of those not just in the state government but also in the central government, said Surjewala.

The matter relates to seizure of 30 kg gold from a diplomatic consignment at the Trivandrum International Airport on Sunday which snowballed into a major political controversy in Kerala as the prime suspect, Swapna Suresh, a high-profile woman who wears many hats, happens to be close to the ruling Left Democratic Front government in the state.

Surjewala in the statement said that given the magnitude of the criminal activity, the influential nature of those involved and the wide net of individuals across the Central and State Governments, it is only fitting that the investigation into the entire affair be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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PM Narendra Modi’s visit to his village Nimo, comforts 1962 war veteran

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In a quaint little village with tall poplars swinging gently in the summer bloom against the bare lofty mountains, 1962 war veteran Tsering Tashi giggles with exuberance over the thought that Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited his village just a week ago.

“I did not know that he, the Prime Minister of India, was right here in my village, talking to soldiers. Got to know after he left,” Tashi laughs.

Tashi quickly adds, “His visit to Nimo was really required. It has boosted the morale of our soldiers. He could not have gone to the forward posts but it was very good that he gave a speech here. It uplifted the spirits of the soldiers. I think the Army is happy too.”

The Prime Minister’s visit to Nimo, after India lost 20 soldiers, including a Colonel on June 15 during a violent clash with Chinese troops, has a deep significance for the 80-year-old Tashi.

Even 58 years after India’s defeat in the 1962 war with China, the regret and grief has not faded from the Havildar’s voice as he recalls how India lost the war and territory to the Chinese.

Describing the then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai’s approach to India, prior to the 1962 war, “Muh mein Ram Ram, bhagal mein chhuri” (stabbing someone in the back), Tashi drifts into the memory lane when he had joined the Army in 1959 as a young soldier.

“The war began at night around 1 a.m. (October 20, 1962). Both India and China used to have military posts near DBO (Daulat Beg Oldi), one of the world’s highest airstrip at an altitude of over 16,600 feet.

“We used to patrol on foot; the Chinese on horses. Our vehicles could not reach our posts but theirs did. They had outnumbered us. We were very few.

“There were only two units of Army at the time — one was at Chushul and the other at DBO. So we airlifted our soldiers of Jat regiment from Pathankot, direct to the DBO airstrip,” Tashi recalls.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had assaulted Indian military posts in Chip Chap valley, Galwan valley and Pangong lake and other numerous small posts. The Chip Chap river flows to the south of Daulat Beg Oldi from east to west.

In October, winter is in full swing in Ladakh, and extremely harsh at high altitude areas like DBO. The temperature dips to freezing point.

“Our troops got no time to acclimatize but they chose to fight. Their hands froze; they lost their limbs. So we had to retreat,” the war veteran says with a lump in his throat. He repeatedly mentions how the soldiers died in the cold.

As his wrinkles droop at the memory of that night, he remembers that the Army lost another 20 to 30 men at the nearby post. “They (People’s Liberation Army) took some of our soldiers prisoners of war too. One of them, however, escaped; don’t know how he came back,” he says.

Around 2 a.m., Tashi went from DBO in a Shaktiman truck to bring more soldiers for support.

“I got 30 to 40 soldiers. But our vehicle got stuck in the snow in a frozen stream. Perhaps, our lives got saved because our vehicle got stuck. Once, we were able to move, it was already morning. Since we could see because of the morning light, our commandant was able to move us up the ridge a little bit. I was the guide. But by that time we got there, the PLA troops had occupied our side. So we had to withdraw,” the ex-serviceman says.

Tashi remembers the martyrdom of Major Shaitan Singh, of the Kumaon Regiment, who had been instrumental in holding on to the Rezang La Ridge, which was important to prevent the airstrip from falling into the Chinese hands.

The 1962 war veteran, who retired from the Ladakh Scouts regiment of the Indian Army in 1975, however, brightens up at the mention of the 1971 war with Pakistan. “That is when we were able to regain Turtuk, Dhothang, Tyakshi and Chalunka of Chorbat valley,” he says with a certain smugness.

By that time, he adds smilingly, “We had got new arms and weapons, the strength of our units had been hugely increased. We took their top strategic posts; both Pakistani Army and civilians had to flee.”

China, Tashi believes, cannot defeat India now.

“India is very strong. During our time, India was like dust on the ground but now its touching the skies. Now whatever our soldiers ask for, it is immediately fulfilled on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.”

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