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Everyone will be happy if Ram Mandir is built: Rajnath Singh

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Singh’s statement comes a few days before Shiv Sena chief UddhavThackeray’s rally to Ayodhya to hold up the Ram Mandir debate.

 

New Delhi| As the Ram Mandir construction fire gets more fuelled, several politicians are jumping in the fray to comment on the issue. On Wednesday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh weighed in on the issue. Talking to media, he said that everyone will be happy if Ram Mandir is built in Ayodhya.

However, he quickly added that the construction of the temple should be undertaken in a good atmosphere. His statements come a few days before BJP‘s ally in state and centre Shiv Sena’s rally to Ayodhya to hold up the Ram Mandir debate. VHP is also supporting and participating in the rally.

Shivsena Chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said, “Har Hindu ki Yahi pukaar, Pehle Mandir Fir Sarkar.” The new slogan coined by Uddhav Thackeray ahead of his Ayodhya visit calls for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya before the formation of government in 2019.

With this slogan, the Shivsena has taken another jibe at its ally in the state and central government-BJP. Uddhav Thackeray’s Ayodhya visit is largely seen as an attempt to bring the Ram Temple issue to the table once again before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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2019 Lok sabha polls: BJP yet to release its first candidate list

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Amit Shah; BJP

New Delhi| The BJP’s central election committee (CEC) met Wednesday for a third time to deliberate on the names of its candidates for the Lok Sabha elections and is believed to have finalised candidates for most of the seats going to the polls in the initial few phases.

 

It has so far not released any list of candidates for the seven-phase polls starting from April 11.

 

The party is likely to field Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, R K Singh and Giriraj Singh from Patna Sahib, Arrah and Begusarai seats in Bihar respectively.

 

It may repeat Union ministers V K Singh and Satyapal Singh from their seats in western Uttar Pradesh. In Odisha, the party is considering fielding its spokesperson Sambit Patra and its vice president Baijayant Panda, sources said.

 

While the party is set to drop a sizeable number of its sitting MPs from UP to take on the formidable SP-BSP alliance, it is set to bank on its sitting members in Bihar.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to recontest from Varanasi and the party is also deliberating on whether to field him from one more seat.

 

The CEC, whose meeting was attended by Modi, party president Amit Shah and its other members, held a long meeting with top BJP leaders from Uttar Pradesh. It later met leaders from other states.

 

The party sources said names of candidates for a large number of seats is final and could be announced soon.

 

On Tuesday evening, the CEC had held a seven-hour-long discussion to deliberate upon the names of the party’s candidates in various states.

 

Though the Congress has announced candidates for 146 Lok Sabha constituencies so far, the BJP is yet to officially make any announcement on its nominees.

 

The sources in the party suggested that most of the ministers in the Union Cabinet, who are sitting Lok Sabha MPs, are likely to be fielded from same seats.

 

On Tuesday, the party had announced that it will drop its all 10 incumbent MPs from Chhattisgarh and replace them with new faces, a decision that comes in the wake of the party’s drubbing in the recent assembly elections. The state’s former chief minister Raman Singh may not contest elections, the sources said.

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Nirav Modi’s arrest a got-up match: Mamata

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Kolkata| West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday refused to give credit to the Narendra Modi government for the arrest of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, saying it was a “got-up match” and the arrest may have been fixed by the Centre beforehand.

Talking to reporters here, she termed the development a “strike” by the Modi government to reap electoral dividend.

 

Nirav Modi (48), the main accused in the USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank scam case, was arrested in London and was on Wednesday remanded to custody there till March 29. He has been absconding from the country for over a year.

 

“I think the Nirav Modi arrest is a got-up match. It is one of the ‘strikes’ by the Modi government to reap electoral dividends. I have been told by some people that two to three more such ‘strikes’ are in the offing and will take place in between the seven phases of Lok Sabha polls,” Banerjee said.

 

Stating that the Modi government should not claim any credit for the arrest of the fugitive, the Trinamool Congress supremo said, “One journalist of a UK media found out where he stayed. What were the government agencies doing all these times?

 

“Those hiding behind the curtains please come out, your game is up,” she added.

 

Stating that the Modi government was past its “expiry date”, the chief minister said, “They are branding those asking uncomfortable questions as ‘traitors’. We are not traitors, we are protectors, we love the country. But you (Narendra Modi) are selling off the country by shielding the corrupt.”

 

In a dig at Modi for addressing ‘chowkidars’ (watchmen)over the radio and calling himself one, Banerjee said, “From ‘chaiwala’ (tea seller), he has now turned into a chowkidar. But the true chowkidar does not flaunt such fashionable dresses.”

 

She also criticised the Modi government for announcing projects just before the announcement of the parliamentary elections.

 

“When the unemployment figures in the country have reached its highest level in 45 years, when two crore people have lost jobs in recent times, he is promising the moon to the people of the country. The people are not fools,” she said.

 

The TMC leader said the condition of blue chip public sectors like Air India and BSNL have deteriorated, while the farmers are in distress and dying.

 

“Demonetisation ripples are still being felt, but Narendra Modi is making tall claims at meetings after meetings,” she said.

 

Demonetisation was announced in November 2016.

 

Accusing Modi of playing the religion card ahead of the polls, Banerjee said, “We see him attending meetings with a ’tilak’ on his forehead,” referring to his recent address in Varanasi.

 

She had on Tuesday lashed out at the BJP for questioning her religion and challenged the prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah to compete with her in chanting ‘mantras’ (hymns).

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BJP hails Samjhauta Express blast verdict as historic

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 New Delhi| The BJP Wednesday described as “historic” the acquittal of Samjhauta Express blast accused, saying it is an indication of how the previous Congress-led government played politics with terror.

Twelve years after a blast on Samjhauta Express killed 68 people, mostly Pakistanis, a special court Wednesday acquitted Swami Aseemanand and three others in the case.

 

“The historic verdict in the case is an indication as to how the previous UPA government sought to play politics with terror. It was based upon very imperfect evidence. This has to be seen in conjunction with the saffron terror issue raised by the then Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and also echoed by P Chidambaram,” BJP leader and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

 

The investigative agency had claimed that the accused were upset with terror attacks on Hindu temples and then conspired to seek “revenge”.

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