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Pradhan asks Odisha CM to implement Ayushman Bharat scheme

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Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

Khurda (Odisha) [India], Dec 16 (ANI): Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should implement Ayushman Bharat scheme at the earliest, said Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan here on Sunday.
“Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should ‘forget his pride’ and implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme at the earliest,” he told ANI.
“By not implementing the world’s largest healthcare scheme, Patnaik is depriving medical services to both Odia and non-resident Odia people,” Pradhan further told ANI.
“If the Chief Minister has some sentiments for the Odia people, I request him to forget his pride, and implement the Ayushman Bharat in Odisha,” Pradhan added.
On the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the mega health scheme from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
The Prime Minister later launched the programme in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi on September 23 this year.
Pradhan claimed that Patnaik was afraid of Prime Minister Modi’s popularity, adding that he did not do anything for the overseas Odia people in the last 19 years.
Pradhan is in Khurda for reviewing the preparations of Prime Minister Modi’s upcoming visit to Odisha on December 24 on account of celebrating 200 years of the first war of Independence against the British rule.
Talking about the visit, Pradhan said: “The Prime Minister is coming to Odisha on December 24. Various development projects would be inaugurated. He will address a public rally as well.”
“For the people of Odisha, Khurda is an important place. This is because Odia people here revolted against the British 200 years ago, what we call as the first war of Independence. Hence, to celebrate 200 years of the first war of Independence, the Prime Minister is visiting the state,” he added. (ANI)



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Farmers suffered when Cong was in power: PM Modi

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PM Narendra Modi interacting with BJP workers of Tamil Nadu via video conferencing on Saturday

New Delhi [India], Dec 15 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday fired a fresh salvo at the Congress party, accusing them of not fulfilling promises made to farmers and ignoring them when the party was ruling the country or any state.
Interacting with BJP’s booth-level workers from Tamil Nadu via video conferencing, the Prime Minister said: “Farmers asked for urea, but all they got was sticks. Farmers asked for higher minimum support prices (MSPs), but all they got was empty promises.”
“Farmers asked for increased income, but all they got was insensitivity. We are not like Congress, which will only pay lip service to the farmers but ignore their well-being. Wherever Congress is in power, farmers suffer. They have suffered when the Congress was in power,” he added.
The Prime Minister ridiculed the Congress, saying that they took national security and defence sector either as a “punching bag or funding source.” “Sadly, for the Congress, national security and defence sector is either a punching bag or a funding source,” he said.
“On the one hand, Congress leaders called Army chief names and mocked surgical strikes. On the other, they looted the defence sector, from the jeep scam back in 40s and 50s to Bofors in the 80s to the AgustaWestland scam and the submarine scam, among many others. All they see are ways to make money, even if it means the morale of our forces is diminished. Thankfully those days are gone,” Prime Minister Modi told the BJP workers.
He said that when it comes to national security, the morale of the national security forces is important. “Among the first things that we did after coming to power, we have conveyed to the soldiers that we value them. The soldier, who is standing at the border, knows that the country is standing behind him,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister further said that the BJP believed that the country can only develop when north, south, east and west all develop together. Stressing that a healthy India is a pre-condition for a prosperous nation, Prime Minister Modi said: “If we want to ensure the growth of India, we need to ensure that healthcare is affordable.” (ANI)



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PM Modi to visit UP tomorrow

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi (file photo)

New Delhi [India], Dec 15 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a day-long visit to Uttar Pradesh to inaugurate multiple projects in the state.
Prime Minister Modi will inspect the Modern Coach Factory at Rae Bareli. At a public meeting, he will flag off the 900th coach, and a Humsafar rake of the Factory. The Prime Minister will also address the gathering.
The Prime Minister will then proceed to Prayagraj, where he will inaugurate a state-of-the-art Command and Control Centre for the Kumbh Mela. He will perform Ganga Pujan, and visit the Swachh Kumbh exhibition. Prime Minister Modi will also visit the ‘Akshayvat’ in the city.
According to an official statement, Prime Minister Modi will next visit Andawa, where he will inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of various development projects. The Prime Minister will also address a gathering there.
Prime Minister will inaugurate a new terminal at Bamrauli airport in Prayagraj before returning to New Delhi. (ANI)



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Focussing on last-mile delivery essential for improving Ease of Doing Business: PM Modi

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Visuals from the meeting chaired on Thursday (Source: Narendra Modi twitter)

New Delhi [India], Dec 14 (ANI): Focussing on last-mile delivery and simplifying systems and procedures are key to improving India’s ‘Ease of Doing Business,’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday.
“Emphasised on the need to focus on last mile delivery, simplifying systems and procedures, which will improve both ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and ‘Ease of Living.’ We are devoting all possible efforts to further improve our ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings,” the Prime Minister told officials at a meeting held to review steps being taken to enhance India’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.
Discussions were also held regarding construction, power, resolving insolvency and other areas that will make business easier in the times to come, the Prime Minister tweeted after the meeting was held.
Earlier in the year, India leapfrogged 23 places to the 77th spot on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. Furthermore, the country saw a 53-place jump in the last two years, making it the largest improvement by any country since 2011.
India was also recognised as one of the top ten improvers for the second time in a row. (ANI)



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Congress congratulates Kamal Nath, welcomes 'era of change' in MP

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File photo of Kamal Nath

New Delhi [India], Dec 13 (ANI): The Congress Party on Thursday congratulated Kamal Nath on being elected as the new chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, saying an ‘era of change’ is upon the state under his leadership.
“Our best wishes to Shri @OfficeOfKNath for being elected CM of Madhya Pradesh. An era of change is upon MP with him at the helm,” read a tweet posted by the party from its official Twitter handle.

The 72-year-old leader will assume the office of chief minister for the first time in a distinguished career in politics.
A nine-time Member of Parliament (MP) from Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara constituency, Nath served as the pro-tem Speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha (elected in 2014). He also served as the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry in former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s first term and the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways from May 2009 to January 2011 in the second term of the UPA government.
Nath was elected as Congress’ Madhya Pradesh president in May this year. Having been elected as the chief minister of the state government, the challenge that lies in the days ahead for the senior leader is to consolidate the voter base for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, slated to be held in April-May next year. (ANI)



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MP polls: Shivraj Chouhan wins from Budhni

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File photo of Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) [India], Dec 11 (ANI): Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan won the Assembly poll from Budhni constituency, although uncertainty looms over the formation of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state.
Chouhan, who contested against Congress’ Arun Subhashchandra, gathered a total of 1,23,492 votes.
As many as 12 ministers from the current Madhya Pradesh Council of Ministers have lost the poll in their respective constituencies, including Antarsingh Arya (Sendhwa), Deepak Joshi (Hatpipliya), Jai Bhan Singh Pawaiya (Gwalior), Rustam Singh (Morena), Jayant Malaiya (Damoh), and Sharad Jain (Jabalpur North), to name a few.
As per the current details provided by the Election Commission of India, the Congress has won 73 seats and is leading on 41 seats, while the BJP has won 72 seats and is leading on 37 seats.
The Congress’ Madhya Pradesh unit will meet the Governor and stake claim to form the government as soon as they win 116 seats in the state. (ANI)



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BJP set to lose Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh; Likely to meet same fate in MP

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File photo of Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi [India], Dec 11 (ANI) The BJP on Tuesday lost power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and appeared to fall short of majority in Madhya Pradesh, in a major blow to the saffron party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and providing a significant boost to the Opposition camp.
The BJP was ousted from power in Chhattisgarh after three terms and lost Rajasthan after one term in the Assembly elections which were dubbed by the Opposition as semi-final before the Parliamentary polls due by May next year.
The saffron party also appeared to fall short of the majority figure of 116 seats in Madhya Pradesh, according to the latest results and trends available.
Among two other states which went to the polls, Telangana saw the TRS retaining power with a sweeping majority while in Mizoram, the Mizo National Front won with a thumping majority.
A buoyant Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the drubbing faced by the BJP was a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he had failed to fulfill his promises and asserted that a “resurgent” Congress, along with a united opposition, will defeat BJP in the next year’s Lok Sabha polls as well.
The Congress was set to form government in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and was close to majority in Madhya Pradesh as well.
In Rajasthan, where elections were held for 199 out of 200 seats, the Congress won 81 seats and was leading at 18, making a total of 99.
The ruling BJP was behind, winning 67 seats and leading at 6.
The majority mark is 100 seats and the Congress is poised to cross it with the support of RLD, whose one candidate won, and some Independents.
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) will meet in Jaipur tomorrow at 11.30 AM to pass a resolution empowering the high command to choose the chief minister.
Former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Union Minister Sachin Pilot are front-runners for the post.
In Chhattisgarh, where 90 seats were at stake, the Congress won 15 seats and was leading at 53, making a total of 68 seats, way past the required majority mark of 46.
The BJP was left struggling with 3 seats won and 13 leading.
Chief Minister Raman Singh, who ruled the state for three consecutive terms, tendered his resignation, taking “moral responsibility” for the defeat.
In Madhya Pradesh, where 230 seats were up for grabs, the ruling BJP and the Congress were neck-and-neck throughout the day.
According to the latest tally, the BJP won 31 seats and was leading at 79, taking the total to 110.
On the other hand, the Congress was victorious at 29 seats and was leading at 84, making a total of 113.
BSP was leading at 2 seats, Samajwadi Party at 1 seat and Independents at 3.
The majority mark is 116 seats. (ANI)



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Assembly polls: Counting of votes begins in Mizoram, Telangana

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Counting centre in Mizoram

Aizawl/Hyderabad [India], Dec 11 (ANI): Amid heightened security, the counting of votes for the Assembly elections in the states of Mizoram and Telangana has begun.
In Mizoram that went to polls on November 28, there are 40 Assembly constituencies spread across eight districts, out of which 39 seats are reserved for scheduled tribes, while one seat is for general category people.
The state saw a voter turnout of about 80 per cent. As many as 7,70,395 lakh voters were eligible to cast their vote in the state including 3.75 lakh males and 3.95 lakh females.
The Congress party, which has been in power in Mizoram since 2008, is eyeing a third consecutive term in the state.
In the previous election in 2013, Congress had fielded 40 candidates while it won 34 seats, whereas Mizo National Front (MNF) secured only five seats after contesting 31 seats. Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) had contested on eight seats but it managed to bag only one.
Both Congress and MNF are contesting all 40 constituencies this time, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting in 39 seats.
It is to be noted that Mizoram is the last northeastern bastion for the Congress.
Though the exit polls indicated that the MNF will emerge as the single largest party in the 40-member Assembly, it may still not be able to cross the halfway mark to form majority. There are strong indications for a hung Assembly, for the first time ever since the state was formed in 1987.
Times Now-CNX has predicted 18 seats for MNF, 16 for the Congress and 6 for others. Similarly, India-Today-My India Exit Polls have predicted 16-22 seats for MNF, 8-12 for Congress and Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) alliance and 1-4 for others. The majority mark is 21.
The BJP in the state, according to the exit polls, will not make any dent to the big players in the northeastern state.
Coming to Telangana, the country’s youngest state that went to polls on December 7, there are 119 seats are up for grabs.
The major players in the southern state are the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM), BJP and a grand alliance called ‘Praja Kutami’, that comprises Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and the Communist Party of India (CPI).
A total of 1,821 candidates were in the fray for the Assembly elections in Telangana. The state recorded a voter turnout of over 73 per cent.
The ruling TRS is confident of winning the polls. While the Congress-led alliance, on the one hand, is aiming to dethrone the TRS, the BJP, on the other hand, is striving to make inroads in the southern state.
As far as the exit polls are concerned, most of them have given a clean sweep to incumbent K. Chandrashekhar Rao-led TRS government.
Times Now-CNX projected a clean sweep for TRS with 66 seats and gave 37 to Congress, 7 to BJP and 9 to others. Republic TV-Jan Ki Baat gave TRS 50-65 seats, 38-52 to Congress, 4-7 to BJP and 8-14 to others. The majority mark is 60.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made for counting of votes that will be done under tight vigil and CCTV camera surveillance. (ANI)



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Intelligence was passed on to Centre just before Kargil conflict: AS Dulat

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Former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief AS Dulat

Chandigarh [India], Dec 8 (ANI): Former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief AS Dulat on Saturday said the “intelligence reports pointing to the intrusion of Kargil heights were submitted to the Central government just ahead of the Kargil conflict.’
Participating in a discussion on ‘Wisdom of Spies’ at the Military Literature Festival here, Dulat said, “The intelligence reports were shared with the Centre with all the pointers gathered by the Army before the war started.”
Dulat, who was with the Intelligence Bureau at the time of the Kargil conflict, said the vital information was shared with then Union Home Minister LK Advani, who was also holding the charge of Deputy Prime Minister.
Earlier, Lt Gen Kamal Davar highlighted the importance of putting all the three defence wings physically under one unified command, with convergence in decision making ensured. Cautioning against the current trend of NSA being the ‘Intelligence Czar’ of the country, Davar said it was one thing to have information but totally another to act on all available inputs.
Lt General Sanjeev K Longer, however, differed on the issue of collective unified command and said in a country like India we need different heads who come together to contribute towards a crucial decision.
Earlier sharing their views during an interactive session on ‘Valour, History, Politics, and Media’ on the second day of Military Literature Festival-2018 here, defence experts were of the opinion that there should no politicisation of the defence forces, which was gradually creeping into the system.
The panelists included Lt Gen (Retd) N S Brar, Lt General (Retd) T S Shergill, UK based Brig. Justin Maciejewski, NDTV channel head Arati Singh, besides Actors Sonu Sood and Gurmeet Chaudhary.
Lt Gen (Retd) T S Shergill that the media should play a pro-active role in boosting the morale of the armed forces to enable them to discharge their duties diligently with a sense of utmost professional commitment to safeguarding the integrity, security, and sovereignty of our country. He cited the 26/11 Mumbai attack, when the media was telecasting real-time, which led the perpetrators to know about the counter insurgency operations.
Lt Gen (Retd) N S Brar underlined the need for general debates in the public domain on matters related to National Security and defence forces. “Thus, the intimate interface was required more frequently between the government and defence forces on issues of higher defence management,” he added. (ANI)



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J-K panchayat polls: Voting for eighth phase begins

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Representative image

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Dec 8 (ANI): Voting for the eighth phase of panchayat elections has begun across the state amidst heightened security. Polling is scheduled to end at 2 PM today.
While 43 sarpanch and 681 panch have been elected unopposed, polling will take place for 331 sarpanch and 2007 panch seats, with 6304 candidates in the fray. An electorate of 5,15,121 will be voting for sarpanch constituencies and 4,19,775 for panch constituencies.
In this phase, 2633 polling stations have been set up – 550 in Kashmir division and 2083 in Jammu division. Of these, 361 have been categorised as ‘hypersensitive’, including 171 in Kashmir division and 190 in Jammu division.
As per the Election Commission, Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations for facilitating the voters. Security arrangements have also been made including the deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
In the seventh phase of polling, an overall voter turnout of 75.3 per cent was recorded in the state, with Jammu division witnessing a voter turnout of 84.8 per cent and Kashmir division recording a voter turnout of 30.3 per cent.
Polling took place on Tuesday in as many as 30 blocks in 15 districts of the state. These include 14 blocks of six districts in Jammu region and 16 blocks falling in nine districts of Kashmir Valley.
Reasi district witnessed the highest voter turnout of 86.7 per cent followed by Poonch (86.6 per cent) and Rajouri (84 per cent). More than 5,550 candidates contested for 341 sarpanch and 1,798 panch seats in this phase.
The ninth and last phase of polling is slated to be held on December 11. (ANI)



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