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Haryana govt drops charges against IAS officer Ashok Khemka

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New Delhi: In a major relief for whistleblower IAS officer Ashok Khemka, the Haryana government on Wednesday dropped charges against him.

Khemka was charge-sheeted in May 2013 by the Congress government of Bhupinder Singh Hooda and accused of administrative misconduct while cancelling the mutation of the Rs 58-crore land deal between Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s company and DLF.

Khemka, however, said he was yet to receive official confirmation in this regard.

Despite the BJP government taking over in October 2014, the charges had not heretofore been dropped.

On April 1 2015 Khemka was once again transferred to an inconsequential posting by the BJP government in Haryana. This was Khemka’s 45th transfer in 24 years.

Khemka, as per the latest orders of the Haryana government, had been posted as Secretary, Archaeology and Museums Department and Director General, Archaeology and Museums.

He was appointed as transport commissioner and secretary, Transport department, last year after Manohar Lal Khattar assumed office as chief minister of the first BJP government in Haryana.

At that time, Khemka, who had blown the lid off from the controversial multi-million-rupee land deals of Vadra, was touted to get an important assignment. However, he was posted in the transport department.

(With inputs from agencies)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Continues To Stay Mum On The #MeToo Movement. Wikimedia Commons

“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
Modi Appeals For A Regional Front Against Terrorism, flickr

Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)