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Shatrughan Sinha chooses RJD’s Iftaar party over JD(U)’s

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Shatrughan Sinha

Patna | Disgruntled BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha on Wednesday attended an Iftaar party hosted by RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav here, triggering speculations about his future political move.

The Iftaar at Yadav’s 5, Circular Road residence coincided with a similar feast for “rozedars” held at the Haj Bhavan, which was organized by the ruling Janata Dal (United) in Bihar and where the actor-turned-politician remained conspicuous by his absence.

“It is an auspicious and happy occasion. Iftaar parties are a part of our composite culture. Lalu Prasad (RJD supremo) is my dear friend. I am delighted to be among my family friends,” Sinha told reporters.

Asked why he skipped the Iftaar hosted by the JD(U), the Patna Sahib MP claimed he did not have knowledge of the Haj House function.

Asked whether his presence at a function hosted by an opposition party leader while skipping the one hosted by an ally of his party could lead to bitterness, he asserted “iftaar only sweetens relationships”.

When pressed further by journalists, he responded with his trademark – Khamosh!

The actor-turned-politician spent close to half an hour at Yadav’s residence, where Lalu Prasad – sentenced for fodder scam cases and currently out on bail for medical treatment – was, however, not present.

Restrained by the Jharkhand High Court – which had granted him provisional bail – from interacting with the media and makig political statments, the former Bihar Chief Minister has avoided making appearances in the public.

Speaking on the occasion, Tejashwi Yadav – who is the RJD heir apparent – regretted his absence at the Iftaar hosted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi and said “our programme had been decided long ago so I could not be present there. But our Rajya Sabha member Manoj Jha is representing our party and I hope that the Iftaar at Delhi sends out a strong message in favour of opposition unity”.

Tejashwi’s elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav, MLA, and eldest sister Misa Bharti were also present at the Iftaar, seeking to put to rest recent speculations about sibling rivalry that was triggered by a tweet from Tej Pratap.

“Tej Pratap never said that he had a problem with his brother or sister. It was a creation of the media. Today all the mischief-mongers have got a reply seeing all of us together”, Misa Bharti told reporters.

At the JD(U) iftaar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, Union minister and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan and state JD(U) chief Bashistha Narayan Singh, JD(U) MLC Ashok Chowdhury – who made the prepartions – and state BJP president Nityanand Rai were among those who attended.

Dissident RJD MLA Maheshwar Yadav also turned up at the JD(U) iftaar and showered praises on the Chief Minister.

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Omar questions Army officials boasting about number of militants killed in J-K

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Omar-Abdullah

Srinagar | Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday questioned Army officials boasting about the number of militants killed in the state last year, saying it would have been a “great year” if no youth had joined militancy.

“I beg to differ, a great year would be one in which no young man would join militancy, no terrorists would be killed & no security personnel would lose their lives in encounters. The compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

He was responding to the remarks of Northern Army Command chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh in which he reportedly said that 2018 has been a great year for the security forces as more than 250 terrorists were killed, 54 were caught alive and four surrendered to the forces.

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Opposition rally will sound the death knell for BJP: Mamata Banerjee

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West Bengal;mamata

Kolkata | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said the mega opposition rally being hosted by her Trinamool Congress on January 19 would sound the “death knell” for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls and regional parties would be the deciding factor.

She also claimed that the BJP’s seat count in the general election will not cross more than 125.

The number of seats that the state parties will win will be much more than the BJP’s, further claimed.

“The federal parties, that is the regional parties, will be the deciding factor after the elections,” she told newsmen here.

“The rally will sound the death knell for BJP … Obviously, they (BJP) will not cross more than 125 seats,” she said in reply to a question.

Banerjee also visited the Brigade Parade grounds to check arrangements for the rally.

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20 lakh Bangladeshi Hindus to become Indians if Citizenship Bill is passed: KMSS

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Guwahati | Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), which is spearheading the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, claimed that around 20 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis would become Indians if the controversial Bill is passed.

Addressing a press conference, KMSS Adviser Akhil Gogoi slammed the BJP-led government for its attempt to get the Bill passed despite widespread protests across the North East.

“The BJP and Himanta Biswa Sarma is saying that only eight lakh Hindu Bangladeshis, who are already staying here, will get citizenship. But our assessment is that 20 lakh people are present in Assam at this moment and they will get citizenship as soon as the Bill is passed,” he added.

Elaborating on his claim, the prominent RTI activist said that a report of former Assam Governor Lt Gen S K Sinha had mentioned that over one crore people have entered India.

“When I met former Assam Assembly Deputy Speaker Dilip Kumar Paul, who is from BJP, he said around 15-20 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis are in Assam. Himanta Biswa Sarma himself had said that out of the 40 lakh excluded from the complete draft of NRC (National Register of Citizens), 22 lakh were Hindus.

“Saugata Roy had said in Parliament that 28 lakh Hindu Bengalis are excluded from NRC. So, these different figures by various sources clearly say that around 20 lakh Hindus from Bangladesh are living in Assam, not eight lakh as claimed by BJP,” Gogoi said.

He further claimed that as per Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, there are around 1.7 crore Hindus, which is 10.7 per cent of that country’s total population.

“If the Bill is passed, this will pave the ways for these 1.7 crore people in Bangladesh to come to Assam and get Indian nationality as there is no cut-off date in the Bill.

So, there is a possibility that a total of 1.9 crore people are likely to get Indian citizenship in coming years,” Gogoi said.

He claimed that if that happens, the entire demography of Assam will change irreparably.

Gogoi accused the BJP-led government for garnering votes in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls by bringing in three sensitive issues one after another.

“Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Committee on Clause-6 of Assam Accord and another committee on ST status were brought at this time only for polarising the society on communal lines for the votes. That is why we all should resist it. We will shed out blood, but will not allow the Bill to pass. We will do everything possible to stop it,” he said.

The Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, provides for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.

A large section of people and organisations in the northeast have opposed the bill saying it would nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.

Massive protests broke out across the state after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Silchar on January 4 that the legislation would be passed as soon as possible in Parliament.

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