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Congress asks Centre to bring back Lalit Modi

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www.theguardian.com

New Delhi: Alleging that former IPL supremo Lalit Modi enjoyed backing from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Congress on Friday asked the central government to specify a time frame for bringing him back to India.

The Enforcement Directorate has said it wishes to question the former Indian Premier League chief on money laundering charges.

“The government should tell us when it will get Lalit Modi back to the country,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters.

He said the Congress would raise the issue inside and outside parliament.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram wrote to the British authorities two years ago, calling for the deportation of Lalit Modi over money laundering charges, Surjewala said, adding that the then UPA government wanted Lalit Modi to be brought back to face the law.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Himachal Polls: It will be do-or-die battle equally for Congress and BJP CM faces

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It will be a do-or-die battle equally for Congress and BJP CM faces (Himachal Polls) (Anonymous Poll Photo)

Shimla, Nov 2, 2017, 1:00 IST:  It’s literally a do-or-die battle for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief ministerial faces in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly polls. Both veterans — one in his eighties and the other in his seventies — are struggling for their political survival.

One is veteran Congress leader and incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, who is pushing hard to get to the helm for the seventh time. The other is the BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, who is making a strong bid to ensure the party’s victory with a record margin to silence his detractors within the party.

 For almost two decades, both the parties in the state have fought almost every assembly and parliamentary polls under their leadership.

“This time, Virbhadra Singh is fighting on two fronts — one is to establish his son Vikramaditya Singh, who is contesting his maiden assembly election, and the second is to ensure the party’s repeat as he forced the Congress to announce him as the chief ministerial candidate despite all odds,” a political observer told IANS.

For Dhumal, it’s simply the battle for “self-survival” after facing a humiliating defeat in the 2012 assembly polls. Since then, he was almost marginalised by the BJP faction led by Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda.

After thwarting foes within, Virbhadra Singh donned his battle gear much ahead of this arch rival Dhumal, whose name was cleared by the BJP as its chief ministerial candidate just days ahead of the polling for the 68-seat assembly on November 9.

“The announcement of Dhumal as the chief ministerial candidate was part of the BJP’s strategy to boost the morale of the cadres as the party for long was divided in two camps — one led by Dhumal and the other by Nadda,” a senior state BJP leader admitted.

Interestingly, both Virbhadra Singh and Dhumal are seeking re-election from new seats and that is not going to be easy for them.

The Congress leader is in the fray from Arki in Solan district, the BJP’s pocket borough that he chose himself, while Dhumal is contesting from Sujanpur, the seat he was asked to contest from.

The Sujanpur contest seems interesting as the Congress has fielded Rajinder Rana, who knows the Dhumal family well.

Virbhadra Singh knows the assembly poll will be a vote on the performance of his five-year-old government.

“We are seeking votes on the basis of development by our government, especially in the education, health and connectivity sectors,” a confident Virbhadra Singh, who first became the Chief Minister in 1983, told IANS.

The Chief Minister, who has been in active politics for over 50 years, is a regular target of the top BJP leadership, who point to his being out on bail and facing corruption charges in the Delhi High Court during the time he was the Union Steel Minister 2009-11.

But against all odds, he alone tours across the state seeking votes for the Congress. Party leaders said the Chief Minister is single-handedly campaigning and he is conducting 15 to 20 meetings in two to three constituencies every day.

He starts his campaign at 9 a.m. and continues till late into the night. He holds closed-door meetings with party workers in the evening for their feedback.

The only saving grace for the Congress is that its Vice President, Rahul Gandhi, will tour the state on November 6, a day before the campaigning comes to an end.

Contrary to this, the BJP has fielded its entire top brass — from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his cabinet colleagues, including Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and J.P. Nadda.

Even party President Amit Shah is aggressively touring the hill state.

“The Congress has failed to handle even sensitive cases like gang-rape of a schoolgirl. Our focus on coming to power will be eliminating forest, mining, liquor and transfer mafias that are active in the state for long. This will greatly help restoring the faith of the public,” Dhumal told IANS.

Political observers say issues like development have been pushed to the background as personal attacks dominate most of the election rallies.

“Apart from mudslinging, there is no public-specific agenda with both the leaders. They are just trying to woo voters by raking up personal issues,” an observer said.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Singh is the main “star” of the party campaign in the state.

“Virbhadra Singh is campaigning on the ground and the BJP is baffled at the response he is getting. We don’t have to be loud to impress the people, like the BJP is doing,” Surjewala told reporters in Shimla on Thursday.

Virbhadra Singh is targeting Dhumal by saying he has always worked with a political vendetta against him.

But a confident Dhumal believes there is a favourable wind prevailing for the BJP’s return as the present government has wasted much time in the ongoing corruption cases against Virbhadra Singh and his family rather than focusing on development.

The future of the arch rivals will be pronounced on December 18, the day the votes cast will be counted along with those in Gujarat.

The Congress won 36 of the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh in 2012 with a 42.81 per cent vote share, while the BJP bagged 26 seats with a 38.47 per cent vote share.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in) –IANS

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Congress is ‘laughing club’, losing everywhere: Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Kangra(Himachal Pradesh), November 2, 2017: Terming the Congress a “laughing club”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said it was losing its hold in every corner of the country.

 “We all need to look at the Congress. We should appreciate them. Nothing is left for them and they have lost their hold from every part of the country,” Modi said in his first election rally in Kangra ahead of the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.
“Wherever people have a chance, they have voted for change. They (Congress) have become a laughing club,” he said.
Assembly polls in Congress-ruled Himachal will be held on November 9.
Attacking the Himachal Pradesh government, Modi said Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was talking of action against corruption when he himself was out on bail on a corruption case.
“Despite the case, Singh ‘saheb’ is claiming there will be zero tolerance against corruption if the Congress is back in power. Can anyone believe him?” asked Modi.(IANS)

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Will the exciting lineup of new IPL Players get to play in the 2019 Cricket World Cup?

The bench strength looks impressive, but it has to be tested sooner than later.

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When will the exciting IPL stars get a chance if others are allowed to consolidate their positions playing at home? Pixabay

-by Veturi Srivatsa

New Delhi, October 23, 2017 :
 So much of cricket is being played around the world — Tests, One-Day Internationals and Twenty20s. The so-called pecking order is going for a toss with each passing series.

India, who got to the No. 1 position in the One-Day Internationals after beating Australia, vacated it for South Africa who went up beating Bangladesh.

Bangladesh are still playing in South Africa, Sri Lanka in the Gulf, home of Pakistan, and New Zealand are in India for a series each in the two shorter formats. Australia are getting ready for the Ashes and the South Africans will be looking forward to settling a score with India.

Every international side is seriously looking to the 2019 World Cup, building their core component, or is it rebuilding with less than two years for the mega event. Some top cricketers around the world are happy playing in the shorter formats to prolong their careers and with an eye on the pay packages.

There was a time good Test cricketers used to move into the One-Day format on the strength of their technique and fitness. Players now look to get into the Test squad on the weight of their performance in the ODIs. Both the players and the selectors are striking a blance between the long duration domestic cricket and the Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL).

India are going through a peculiar renaissance of sorts. Players who are thought to be indispensable not long ago are being rested, rotated and dropped whichever way one wants to take the selectors’ and team management’s perspective.

Not one or two players, practically the entire Test attack is banished to domestic cricket. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajay Jadeja, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are playing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy just to keep them in the loop. Jadeja is, with a vengeance, scoring hundreds and taking wickets.

The captain and chief coach Ravi Shastri seem to be calling the shots. Virat Kohli, like his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is slowly seeing the back of senior cricketers who he feels are slow coaches in the field, Jadeja being the exception. Both Jadeja and Ashwin had to go out for their inability to take wickets in the middle-overs on a regular basis.

Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal are providing the variety in the attack and importantly they are taking wickets bowling at any stage of the match. Axar Patel is doing the backup job. If Ashwin and Jadeja are in consideration for 2019, then they should also get to bowl a lot of overs before their fate is decided once and for all.

If there are four players good enough to open the innings, none of them is being considered for a middle-order position. Actually, Lokesh Rahul is the man the team management wants to keep him in the squad. He also prefers to open the innings and he just couldn’t adjust at No.4 behind Kohli. Hardik Pandya was tried at four and looked good in one match and then he became a floater, pushing Dhoni up and down.

Ajinkya Rahane continues to be a stop-gap opener, getting an opportunity whenever Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan are out through injuries. Strangely, he is not seen as a middle-order bat after an impression was created that he cannot rotate the strike, though it was during his early years in international cricket.

The other middle-order slots are now with Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey, both have good performances and the powers that be think the two should to be nursed, particularly Jadhav who is not only a handy bowler but also a decent wicket-keeper in an emergency. Rahul is another who keen keep wickets. Amazingly, the squad to play New Zealand has a regular wicket-keeper, Dinesh Karthik as a batsman. He is also seen as a contender for the No.4 position.

Kohli continues to be the man to hold both the top order and in the middle, more so while chasing. His record is amazing going into his 200th match on Sunday against New Zealand in Mumbai. He has 12 hundreds more than Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly who had 18 each at the very stage of their careers.

Kohli’s faith in Dhoni as his onfield consultant gives a totally different connotation to captaincy. None of the Fab Four or Five ever looked demonstrably carrying the side as Dhoni looks today. The arrangement is working out perfectly fine. The two are pulling the the youngsters in the side with them to give them confidence.

When will the exciting IPL stars get a chance if others are allowed to consolidate their positions playing at home? When will Rishab Pant, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana or someone like all-rounder Washington Sundar and fast bowler Mohammad Siraj get a look in?

The bench strength looks impressive, but it has to be tested sooner than later.

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Veturi Srivatsa, a senior journalist and was first published at IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at sveturi@gmail.com)