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Modi’s leadership qualities ‘unmatched’, he will be BJP’s PM face: Keshav Prasad Maurya

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Kolkata | Narendra Modi will be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate even if the ruling NDA falls short of a majority in the Lok Sabha elections as his leadership qualities are “unmatched”, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has said.

He, however, asserted that the BJP will improve upon its performance in the 2014 polls and cross the 300-seat mark. The NDA, he claimed, will clinch over 400 seats.

Speaking on the Ram temple issue, Maurya said its construction in Ayodhya was only a matter of time and that the Centre will “remove all the hurdles” coming in the way.

“In 2014, we had won 282 seats. But in 2019, the BJP alone will cross 300 seats. With our NDA partners we will cross the 400 mark under the leadership of Modi,” Maurya told PTI in an interview during his recent West Bengal visit.

When asked will the BJP plump for Modi even if he failed to lead the NDA to a straight victory and a second successive stint in power, he replied in the affirmative, insisting “people trust only him”.

“That the BJP won’t get a majority is a figment of imagination. Those who are trying to pitch themselves as PM candidate like Mamata Banerjee can only dream that Modi won’t be getting a majority. The fact is that Modiji will be elected as PM again with a massive majority,” he said.

When asked does the BJP have any other candidate for the post, Maurya said, “People only trust Modiji. He is the founder of a new era. His leadership is unmatched.”

Maurya’s comments come at a time when speculation is rife that Union minister Nitin Gadkari, considered close to the RSS and who has acceptability across party lines, might replace Modi in the event of the NDA failing to cross the majority mark in order to enlist the support of small parties and regional players averse to backing the current prime minister.

Speaking about the construction of Ram temple in Ayodha, Maurya said bricks inscribed with Babur’s name won’t be allowed at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi.

Referring to the Centre seeking permission of the Supreme Court to return the excess land aquired around the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site to original owners, Maurya said he is hopeful that the verdict will be in favour of the government.

“We are hopeful that the verdict will be in our favour. But in case the verdict is not in our favour, then there are other legal options. But only a Ram temple will be built there,” he said, asserting that its construction is a matter of faith and not politics for the BJP.

On whether the government will take steps for construction of Ram temple ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, he said building the shrine is the decision of the sadhus and devotees of the Lord and that the government will only “remove all the hurdles in the way”.

Facing growing pressure to move swiftly on the Ram temple issue, the Modi government last month asked the Supreme Court to allow it to return the non-disputed surplus land acquired around the place where the disputed structure in Ayodhya stood before its demolition to a Hindu trust and other original owners, in a significant move ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The move could see some form of construction of a Ram temple by Hindu groups, if the handover is allowed. The RSS and other Hindutva protagonists may pressure the Centre to facilitate such a step.

When asked whether the appointment of Priyanka Gandhi as Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh would be factor in the Lok Sabha polls, Maurya said it won’t have any impact and the opposition party will not be able to open its account in the state.

Maurya said ideologically incompatible Samajwadi Party and the BSP have formed an alliance in Uttar Pradesh out of “fear” of Modi. “We will win all the 80 seats in UP. Those who have formed the alliance in UP are actually suffering from fear psychosis. Those who have formed the alliance have some allegations (corruption charges) against them and they are only calculating when they will have to go to jail and when will they come out.

This alliance doesn’t have a mass base. The masses are with Modiji,” he said. “If elections were to be held today, we would have won 74 seats. But three months down the line, l am sure, we will win all the 80 seats,” he asserted.

The SP and BSP had announced a poll pact last month under which each would contest 38 seats leaving two for smaller parties and Rae Bareli and Amethi for UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

When asked why the BJP lost by-elections to Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seats in March last year if the SP-BSP alliance lacked mass base, Maurya said it was a “nightmare” that was over. “They won’t be able to open their account this time,” he said.

In a major political upset, Samajwadi Party candidates supported by the Bahujan Samaj Party had defeated BJP nominees in the two seats. Gorakhpur is considered a pocket borough of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while Maurya represented Phulpur. The two had quit their Lok Sabha seats in March 2017 to take up new assignments in Uttar Pradesh.

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Pulwama attack: Shiv Sena MLC wants boycott of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir

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CRPF

Mumbai | Against the backdrop of the Pulwama terrorist attack that claimed lives of 40 CRPF personnel, a Shiv Sena MLC wants people from other parts of India to boycott tourism in Jammu and Kashmir for two years.

Sena legislator and spokesperson Manisha Kayande said boycotting tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, “where youth, women and children pelt stones on security forces”, would hurt the economic resources of the northern state. “The need of the hour is to counter the mentality of keeping the state on tenterhooks by targeting Indian jawans,” she said in a statement issued on Saturday.

Noting that Jammu and Kashmir is a beautiful state that attracts visitors from across the globe, Kayande said, “Tourism benefits the local people. If these resources earned are used against the country and the security forces, Indians should boycott tourism in the state for next two years.”

“Whenever there is an encounter between militants and security agencies, locals pelt stones on jawans to help militants get away,” she claimed. The Sena leader also demanded boycott of all Chinese goods, saying that country was supportive of Pakistan, which has been fomenting trouble in India.

China on Friday condemned the Pulwama terror attack carried out by a Jaish suicide bomber but declined to back India’s appeal to list the Pakistan-based terror group’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.

At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.

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Rajinikanth and his party won’t contest 2019 Lok Sabha polls

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Chennai | Actor turned politician Rajinikanth has announced that he along with his party Rajni Makkal Mandram won’t be contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in 2019.

In an issued Press release Rajinikanth stated that his party Rajni Makkal Mandram (RMM) will not support any party and added that its focus will on next assembly elections. The Tamil actor also appealed to his supporters to that he wants them to vote for a party which will solve Tamil Nadu’s water issues.

Rajinikanth further mentioned that his photo or party symbol should strictly not be used for any propaganda. On 31 December 2017 Rajinikanth had announced his entry into politics with the intention to contest in the 2021 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections in all 234 constituencies.

Out of the 2014 Lok Sabha election held on the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK won 37 seats while PMK and BJP managed to win 1 seat each. DMK and Congress failed to win even a single seat in Tamil Nadu.

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Lok Sabha polls: Mumbai Congress promises jobs, unemployment allowance

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Mumbai | The Mumbai Congress is set to roll out a campaign aimed at providing employment to youth in the megacity and a monthly allowance to unemployed people if the party is voted to power in the Lok Sabha polls.

The campaign, titled ‘Chalo Ward Abhiyaan’, taken up in view of the “rising unemployment in the country”, will commence from Monday, Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said in a statement. The city Congress unit has already started working on the plan and printed around six lakh forms, he said.

The Youth Congress workers will be visiting every house in all the Assembly segments in Mumbai to ensure that every youngster fills these forms, Nirupam said. “Those who fill the forms will be given allowance cards. If we are voted to power, the allowance card holders will be given preference in employment, or else they will provided unemployment allowance,” he said.

Nirupam said people between 18 and 40 years of age would be eligible for the unemployment allowance. The new Congress-led governments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have already announced unemployment allowances of Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,000 per month respectively, he noted.

Nirupam also said that unlike the ruling BJP, the Congress will “actually walk the talk”, if it is voted to power in the Lok Sabha elections.

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