Veteran leader Captain Satish Sharma cremated, Congress pays respect - The Daily Guardian
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Veteran leader Captain Satish Sharma cremated, Congress pays respect

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New Delhi [India], February 19 (ANI): The Congress party paid tribute to veteran leader Captain Satish Sharma who passed away on February 17. He was 73.
The former union minister was cremated at Lodhi Road Cremation Ground in Delhi on Friday.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was one of the pallbearers for the deceased leader.
“Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party pay their humblest tributes to Late Capt. Satish Sharma ji. His contributions towards the service of our people will always be remembered,” tweeted the official account of Congress.
Satish Sharma, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas from 1993 to 1996 was born on October 11, 1947, in Andhra Pradesh’s Secunderabad. He had pursued Airlines Transport Pilots Rating Course and was trained at Kansas City, the USA. (ANI)

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Union Minister Jitendra Singh mocks Priyanka Gandhi over plucking tea leaves in Assam during off-season

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By Aiman Khan
New Delhi [India], March 6 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region, Jitendra Singh on Friday ridiculed Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh stating that her recent visit to poll-bound Assam looked more like a film shoot as she plucked leaves at a tea estate there in the off-season.
“Priyanka Gandhi is choosing tea leaves in the off-season. It seems as if a film is being shot,” the BJP leader told ANI here on Friday. Recently, Gandhi had visited the tea gardens in Assam and got photographed while plucking tea leaves with a basket on her head.
The BJP leader said that people in the state have not forgotten the violence and the frequent strikes during the tenure of the Congress. “So the BJP government will be formed here for the second time.”

“There was news of violence, strike in Assam under Congress rule. Today, the children of the new generation have forgotten that there was such an atmosphere at that time. This became possible due to the personal interest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the union minister said.
Targetting the Congress party, the minister said: “The BJP works through a process, but in Congress, the candidate’s name is decided in the kitchen.”
“We have a specific slogan that our alliance will have more than 100 seats. I am confident that along with our alliance partner –Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), together will fulfill this promise and carry forward the work of development in the state,” he added.
The BJP leader also said that Congress has no leader in Assam now after Tarun Gogoi.
In the last assembly election in 2016, the BJP scripted history and formed the government for the first time in Assam ending Congress’ 15-year rule led by former chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
Meanwhile, on Friday BJP declared names of candidates for 70 seats ahead of Assembly elections in Assam.
“We are declaring the names of candidates on 70 seats as of now, out of the 126 seats in Assam Assembly. We are giving 26 seats to AGP and eight seats to UPPL,” said party National General Secretary, Arun Singh.
The term of the 14th legislative assembly of Assam is up to 31 May 2021. The Assembly elections for 126 seats will be held in three phases starting from March 27. (ANI)

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India on track to achieving climate goals: PM Modi

‘Indians are leaders in caring for environment,’ says the Prime Minister after receiving CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award.

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NEW DELHI: While receiving the prestigious CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the country is on track to achieving its climate goals well before the target date as it switches over to energy-efficient mediums and uses waste to generate energy.

Speaking after accepting the award for his commitment to energy sustainability and the environment, PM Modi said that climate change and calamity are major challenges facing the world. Both are interlinked, and one way to fight them is through policies, laws, rules and orders, and the other is bringing behavioural change, he said, listing measures taken by his government for sustainable energy usage.

While the target of mixing 20 per cent ethanol has been advanced to 2025, 5,000 compressed bio-gas plants will be set up to turn municipal and agriculture waste into energy, the PM said. While switch over to energy-efficient LED bulbs has helped save 38 million tonnes of carbon emission, modern techniques of irrigation as well as reducing the use of pesticides with greater awareness of improving soil health has greatly helped, he added. The share of non-fossil sources in India’s installed capacity of electricity has grown to 38%.

India has maintained that it is not a polluter and cause of climate change and has voluntarily committed to reducing greenhouse gas emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

On behavioural changes, Modi cited examples such as people embracing LED bulbs, voluntarily giving up LPG subsidy, increased cooking gas coverage and affordable transportation initiatives.

The Prime Minister noted that over the last seven years, India’s forest cover has grown significantly, the population of lions, tigers, leopards and waterfowls has grown. These, he said, are great indicators of positive behavioural changes.

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Mamata releases TMC list for Bengal polls, to contest from Nandigram

Over 20 MLAs, ministers dropped from TMC candidacy for upcoming Assembly polls.

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KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday confirmed her candidature from the Nandigram seat as she released the list of Trinamool Congress candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls.

The incumbent TMC has announced a list of 291 candidates for the 294 seats in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly and left three seats for its ally, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). “We are the first political party to announce the candidate list… On three seats of north Bengal, we are not putting up our candidates. In the three seats—Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong—GJM will contest the elections and whoever wins will support us,” she informed.

Affirming her candidature, Banerjee said, “I will contest from Nandigram as I stick to my words.” In January this year, Banerjee had announced that she would contest elections from the Nandigram seat in Purba Medinipur district.

She will vacate her traditional Bhowanipore seat in Kolkata, where she has been the sitting MLA since 2011. “From Bhowanipore constituency, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay will be contesting in the upcoming Assembly elections,” Banerjee said while releasing the TMC candidate list.

Her move to Nandigram is being seen as a challenge to her protégé-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari, who crossed over to the BJP in December.

When asked about Adhikari probably being pitted against her in the constituency, she declined to comment on it.

Banerjee and Adhikari were prominent figures during the anti-land acquisition movement in Nandigram in 2007 that ultimately catapulted the firebrand Trinamool Congress supremo to power in West Bengal in 2011, ending the 34-year-old rule of the Left Front.

Though Suvendu Adhikari has time and again expressed his desire to take on his former boss directly in Nandigram, the saffron party leadership is yet to take a decision on it.

“On 9 March, we will release our manifesto. On 10 March, I will file my nomination for the Nandigram seat,” Banerjee told reporters.

Listing out names of candidates, Banerjee further said, “This time we have stressed on more youths and women candidates. Around 23-24 sitting MLAS have been dropped and there are names of about 50 women, 42 Muslims, 79 SC and 17 ST candidates on the list,” she said.

Big names like the West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, Land Minister Abdul Rajjak Molla. Agriculture Minister Purnendu Basu and veteran legislator Jatu Lahiri have been dropped, owing to their age and the threat of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

:After we come to power, we will create Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council) to accomodate senior and experienced leaders. We could not accommodate everybody, especially those above the age of 80 years,” she said.

Mitra, who belonged to the Khardaha constituency in North 24 Parganas, has been replaced by Kajal Sinha, while Rajjak Molla has been replaced by Mohammad Rezaul Karim in Bhangar constituency of South 24 Parganas. Basu has been replaced by Aditi Munshi in the Rajarhat Gopalpur constituency in North 24 Parganas. Mitra has said he will make a comeback in future polls, adding that he could not afford to take a risk during the pandemic.

Among other candidates, TMC leader Madan Mitra will contest from Kamarhati in North 24 Parganas and state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim will contest from Kolkata Port. 

Furthermore, actress Sayantika Banerjee will contest from Bankura, actor Chiranjeet Chakrabarti will contest from Barasat, cricketer Manoj Tiwary will contest from Shibpur and former Congress leader and Jadavpur University professor Om Prakash Mishra will contest from Siliguri.

Exuding confidence in returning to power for the third consecutive term, Banerjee termed it the “easiest” election the TMC has ever faced. “This would be a smiley election for us. We would win it,” she said when asked whether this will be the toughest election the party has fought since its inception in 1998.

Banerjee also challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to deploy as much central force as they want, saying that the TMC will still emerge victorious.

The BJP had won 18 Lok Sabha seats in the last Parliamentary poll out of the total 42 constituencies in Bengal, only four less than TMC’s tally of 22.

She also thanked Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Sharad Pawar of NCP for extending their support to TMC. Though electorally not much relevant in Bengal, the prominent opposition parties RJD, SP, Shiv Sena, JMM and NCP of Sharad Pawar have prefered the TMC to Congress-Left parties and announced their support to Banerjee in the battle royale for Bengal.

Banerjee released her party candidate list from the lucky room in her Kalighat residence from where she had done the same before the 2011 and 2016 Assembly elections.

Banerjee also sought the blessings of the people of the state and urged them to have faith in her. “I seek the blessings of people. I appeal to maa, maati, manush for your faith. Have faith in me, will protect the state and take it to new heights,” she said, turning to the slogan that first brought her to power in 2011.

The West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in eight phases starting from 27 March with the final round of voting on 29 April. The counting of votes in the state will take place on 2 May.

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INDIA SLAMS US WATCHDOG’S ‘PARTLY FREE’ REPORT, CALLS IT ‘DISTORTED, INACCURATE’

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A report by ‘Freedom House’ claiming India’s status as a free country has declined to “partly free” is “misleading, incorrect and misplaced”, the government said on Friday in a sharp rebuttal to the assessment of the US-based watchdog.

That the ranking was faulty was evident from the fact that “many states in India are ruled by parties other than the one at the national level, through an election process which is free and fair and which is conducted by an independent election body,” said the government in a point-by-point rejoinder.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “Political judgement of Freedom House are as inaccurate and distorted as their maps, example on the covid situation there is widespread appreciation of the response of our recovery rate and low fatality rate.” Freedom House, which is also funded by the US government, also drew criticism for showing a distorted India map on the cover of its report.

The government in a press release on Friday denied the report’s findings saying it was evident from the fact that many states in India under its federal structure were ruled by parties other than the one at the national level, through an election process “free and fair and which is conducted by an independent election body.” According to the Centre, this reflected the working of a “vibrant democracy”, which gave space to those who held varying views.

Freedom House put attention to the Northeast Delhi riots, increase in use of sedition laws against the government’s critics, Internet shutdowns and the migrant crisis post the nationwide lockdown announcement in its report.

Responding to these findings, the government said, “Government of India treats all its citizens with equality as enshrined under the Constitution of the country and all laws are applied without discrimination. Due process of law is followed in matters relating to law and order, irrespective of the identity of the alleged instigator.”

“With specific reference to the Northeast Delhi riots in January 2019, the law enforcement machinery acted swiftly in an impartial and fair manner. Proportionate and appropriate actions were taken to control the situation. Necessary legal and preventive actions were taken by the law enforcement machinery on all complaints/calls received, as per law and procedures,” the government said.

The government also rebutted the allegation in the report that the Covid-19-induced lockdown “left millions of migrant workers in cities without work or basic resources” and “resulted in the dangerous and unplanned displacement of millions of internal migrant workers”.

The government said that the lockdown was announced to control the spread of Covid-19 and the period allowed the government to ramp up production capacity of masks, ventilators, personal protection equipment (PPE) kits, etc, and thereby effectively prevent the spread of the pandemic. India has, on per capita basis, registered one of the lowest rates of active Covid-19 cases and pandemic-related deaths globally, the statement added.

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Man linked to explosive-laden SUV near Ambani home found dead

Preeti Sompura

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Ambani

MUMBAI: The case of an abandoned car laden with explosives near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house has taken a twist after the owner of the vehicle was found dead under mysterious circumstances on Friday.

On 26 February, about 20 gelatin sticks—which is used in explosives—along with a handwritten threat letter had been recovered from a suspicious Scorpio SUV parked 1.4 km from the Ambani residence on Mumbai›s Altamount Road, sending security agencies into a tizzy.

The registration number on the vehicle›s number plate was the same as that of an SUV in Ambani›s security detail, the police had said. The police had later identified the owner of the SUV as Hiren Mansukh, a spare car parts businessman, who had told the investigating teams that his vehicle had been stolen. 

On Friday, Hiren›s body was found near a creek in the Reti Bandar area of Thane. According to reports, he had been missing since Thursday night and was going to meet some ‹sahab›. A case of accidental death has been filed.

The BJP, which sits in the opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, demanded that the probe be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis described the whole chain of events as ‘fishy’ and accused the Uddhav Thackeray-led government of taking the case lightly and ignoring Mukesh Ambani’s security.

“The CM and the home minister must make a statement in the Assembly regarding the incident. A car filled with explosives was found outside Ambani’s house, this shows how serious the government is regarding the safety and security of people,” Fadnavis said in the Assembly.

Fadnavis also mentioned Hiren in his speech, saying, “The person who had lodged a missing complaint for the car made some phone calls to a number that is registered in the name of a person called Sachin Hindurao Vaze.”

“Sachin Vaze was the first police officer to reach the spot and then he was appointed as the Investigation Officer (IO). Three days ago, he was removed as the IO and I fail to understand why he was removed,” he added.

Maharashtra Police officer Sachin Vaze, also known as the ‘encounter specialist’, was last seen inside his cabin on Friday and has not been taking any visitors.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader and minister Aditya Thackeray told reporters, “We just learnt about this. It is a very big incident and the police are investigating.” When asked whether the state government would hand over the investigation to the NIA, he said, “We can, according to the rules. It will be more appropriate for the state home minister to speak on this.”

Significantly, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said that Hiren was not the owner of the car and had been commissioned to work on it.

According to police sources, CCTV footage showed the car moving through the city, followed by an Innova which is also being investigated, and being parked by a man in a mask and a hoodie.

Sources have also shared that the gelatin found in the car is of the commercial kind, which is usually used in construction, digging or mining.

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‘MADE-IN-INDIA’ COVID VACCINES PROVIDED TO 50 COUNTRIES: PM MODI

Swedish PM Lofven appreciates India’s role as ‘pharmacy of the world’.

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CSIR

Reiterating India’s massive contribution in fighting the coronavirus pandemic across the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that ‘Made in India’ Covid-19 vaccines have been provided to more than 50 countries.

Speaking at a virtual India-Sweden summit alongside Sweden Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, PM Modi said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, on a regional and on a global level, we have understood the importance of collaboration. India has provided medicines and other essential items to over 150 countries. Along with this, with the help of online training programmes, we shared our experiences with frontline workers and lawmakers of Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa.”

The Prime Minister added, “We have provided ‘Made in India’ vaccines to around 50 countries so far. We are committed to supplying vaccines to even more countries in the days to come.”

As New Delhi has supplied ‘Made-in-India’ Covid-19 vaccine to countries around the world, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has appreciated India’s role as the pharmacy of the world. “Swedish Prime Minister greatly appreciated India’s role as the pharmacy of the world,” Secretary (West) in Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Vikas Swarup said during a briefing on India-Sweden Summit.

India, a world pharmacy, is at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.India has so far supplied 476.26 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccine globally, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Swedish PM Lofven announced his country’s decision to join the International Solar alliance, Swarup said, adding that Prime Minister Modi has welcomed the decision. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a treaty-based inter-governmental organisation working to create a global market system to tap the benefits of solar power and promote clean energy applications.

“Welcoming the decision, Prime Minister Modi said that Sweden expertise and experience in clean and renewable energy will contribute significantly to the solar alliance and our collective effort to meet the challenge of climate change,” he said.

PM Modi and Lofven held India-Sweden virtual Summit on Friday, which lasted for nearly an hour, said Vikas Swarup. They held a “wide-ranging discussion” during the summit.

This was the fifth interaction between the two leaders since 2015. PM Modi had visited Stockholm in April 2018 for the first India Nordic Summit. Lofven had visited India in February 2016 for the special ‘Make in India’ week. Earlier, the two leaders had met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2015. In April 2020, the two Prime Ministers had a telephonic conversation to discuss the situation arising out of the pandemic.

With agency inputs

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