L A T E S T      N E W S

AAP says it is BJP’s responsibility to form govt

Ghaziabad: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday maintained that it will not stake claim to form government in Delhi and will play the role of a constructive Opposition.

The party also said it was the responsibility of the BJP, which is the single largest party, to form the government.

After a meeting of top party leaders at party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s residence in Ghaziabad, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said even if Lt Governor Najeeb Jung invites the party to form the government, it will decline such an offer citing lack of majority.

“We are not going to form the government. We will sit in the opposition and play the role of a constructive Opposition. As per the Constitution, the largest party has to take the responsibility of forming government,” Yadav said.

“We have not got majority, so it is very surprising that the number one party (BJP) is not ready to form the government and telling us to do so,” he said.

Yadav also strongly ruled out taking support of the Congress to form government.

The BJP has also expressed its reluctance to stake claim, saying it did not have the numbers to provide a stable government.

BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan had said on Sunday night that he will not stake claim to form a government as his party is short of a clear majority and would prefer to sit in the opposition than indulge in any “horse trading”. — PTIBack







Congress retains power in Mizoram

AIZAWL: The Congress retained power in Mizoram for the second consecutive time, winning 22 of the 40 seats as the vote count progressed on Monday.

Congress leader and Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, 71, was elected to the state Assembly for a record ninth time. He contested from two places in central Mizoram and won both seats.

This is for the fifth time the Congress has come to power in the northeastern state of Mizoram, which shares borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. In the outgoing Assembly, the Congress had 32 seats.

"Congress candidates are leading in six more seats over their Opposition nominees," Mizoram Joint Chief Electoral Officer H. Lalengmawia told IANS.

Thousands of Congress activists celebrated here and across the state as election results began to pour in.

According to election officials, Congress candidates won 21 seats and were leading in six seats while the opposition three-party alliance Mizo National Front (MNF)-led Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA) has won two seats and was ahead in three seats in this state of over one million people.

Chief minister Lal Thanhawla, also state Congress chief, contested from two constituencies and won both Serchhip and Hrangturzo seats defeating his nearest MNF and Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) rivals.

Lal Thanhawla, who with this election has been elected to the state Assembly for a record nine times since 1978, defeated his nearest MNF rival C. Lalramzauva, a lawyer and a three-term former legislator, in Serchhip, by a margin of 734 votes while he retained Hrangturzo seat beating MPC opponent Lalthansanga by 1,628 votes.

State Industries and Tourism Minister S. Hiato lost his Saiha constituency to MNF nominee K. Beichhua by a narrow margin of 222 votes.

Officials said Mizoram Home Minister and Congress candidate R. Lalzirliana won the Tawi seat defeating MNF nominee Lalmalsawmi by 947 votes.

Mizoram's Law and School Education Minister and Congress nominee Lalsawta retained his Aizawl East II seat defeating his nearest MNF candidate Sailothanga Sailo by a margin of just 177 votes.

Food, Civil Supplies, Environment and Forest Minister and Congress candidate H. Rohluna retained his Lengteng seat in southern Mizoram defeating MNF candidate L. Thangmawia by a narrow margin of 167 votes.

Only non-Mizo Congress candidate and Chakma tribe leader Buddha Dhan Chakma won the Tuichawng seat in southern Mizoram beating MNF nominee Rasik Mohan Chakma by a big margin of 8,726 votes.

"In the South Tuipui seat, sitting Congress legislator John Siamkunga retained the seat defeating opposition ZNP (Zoram Nationalist Party) nominee J. Lalchhuana by a margin of 1568 votes," officials told reporters.

Senior Congress leader S. Laldingliana retained his Lunglei South seat defeating his nearest MNF candidate K. Pachhunga by 450 votes.

Unlike the last Assembly poll in 2008, the Congress did well in both southern and northern Mizoram which shares borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

MNF candidate Lalrinawma wrested the Tuikum seat defeating Congress aspirant K. Lianzuala by a thin margin of only 14 votes.

Monday's vote count would decide the political fate of 142 candidates, including six women.

Over 81 per cent of the total 6,90,860 voters exercised their franchise across the state on November 25 to elect a new 40-member Assembly.

The main poll battle was between the ruling Congress and Opposition coalition MDA, comprising Mizo National Front (MNF), Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) and Maraland Democratic Front (MDF), all regional and local parties.

MDA's constituents MNF, MPC and MDF have fielded candidates for 31, eight and one seat, respectively.

With little base in the Christian dominated northeastern state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) put up 17 candidates, Zoram Nationalist Party named 38 candidates and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had two aspirants.

Of the 40 Assembly seats, 39 are reserved for tribals. One seat is for the general category.

Reang tribal refugees, sheltered in seven camps in Tripura for the past 16 years, have cast their votes in Tripura through postal ballots for the Mizoram Assembly polls.

During the last Assembly elections in December 2008, the Congress won 32 seats, the MNF three and the MDF one. The MPC and ZNP got two seats each.

The MNF, which ruled the state for 10 years till 2008, is the principal Opposition party.

With a total population of 1,091,014, Mizoram is the only state in India, where women voters outnumbered men by 9,806 in the total electorate of 6,90,860. — IANSBack









Indian worker's death sparks worst riots in Singapore

SINGAPORE: A crowd of around 400 people set fire to vehicles and clashed with police in the Indian district of Singapore late on Sunday after a man was hit and killed by a bus, the first major riot in the city-state for more than 40 years. Police said they had arrested 27 suspects after the riot,
which started after a private bus hit and killed a 33-year-old Indian national in the Little India area.

The riot is likely to fuel concerns about discontent among low-paid foreign workers. Last year, Singapore saw its biggest outbreak of labour unrest in years when around 170 bus drivers from mainland China went on strike illegally.

Several videos posted online showed a crowd of people smashing the windscreen of the bus while the victim remained trapped under the vehicle.

Police said the 27 arrested were of South Asian origin and that they expected to make more arrests in coming days. About 300 officers were sent on to the streets to quell the riot. A statement by the Civil Defence Force (CDF), which oversees ambulances and fire fighting, said rescuers trying to remove the body had "projectiles" thrown at them when they arrived on the scene.

Footage showed police cars being flipped over and several vehicles on fire. The CDF said an ambulance, three police cars and a motorbike were burnt.

The Singapore Police Force said the violence started following the bus accident. "Shortly after, a riot broke out involving a crowd of about 400 subjects", it said in a statement, adding that around 10 police officers were injured.

Singapore Police Force Commissioner Ng Joo Hee said: "As far as we know now, there was no Singaporean involved in the riot."

"The unwanted violence, rioting, destruction of property, fighting the police, is not the Singapore way," Ng said. Little India is usually packed with people on Sundays, with many construction workers from Bangladesh and India gathering there to spend their day off.

Singapore has not seen a riot of this scale since 1969, when Chinese and Malay residents clashed violently. The country has tough laws on rioting that carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison and possible caning.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a Facebook post, called the riot a "very grave incident". "Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour. We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law," he wrote.

The riots came on the same day that Singapore's ruling political party adopted a new resolution, the first since 1988, about its social aims.

The eight-point mission statement from the People's Action Party included a resolve to strengthen the Singaporean identity where people of different races, religions and backgrounds "live harmoniously together, embrace one another as fellow citizens and work together for a better Singapore".

Footage on Channel NewsAsia showed several vehicles in flames and debris strewn across Racecourse Road, one of the main thoroughfares in Little India. Many other private cars were reported to have been damaged as well.

Police said they had the incident under control within an hour of receiving their first call. — ReutersBack








Sensex hits all-time high

MUMBAI: The BSE Sensex rose to a record high on Monday and the rupee hit a four-month high after the main opposition party BJP, widely seen by investors as being more business friendly, swept three out of four key state elections held since last month.

The Sensex rose more than 2 per cent to surpass its previous all-time peak hit on November 3, capping a remarkable turnaround from a few months ago when the country was gripped by its worst market crisis since 1991.

The results were seen bolstering the chances of the BJP and its Prime Minister candidate Narendra Modi in general elections due May next year, and were widely seen as a blow to the ruling Congress Party. 

Despite recent policy action by Congress, including moves to attract foreign investments, markets have been clamouring for more measures to bolster an economy growing at its slowest in a decade and to ease infrastructure bottle necks that keep inflation high.

Investors, for now, have concluded that the BJP is the most likely to deliver change, analysts said.

"The BJP is considered more right-of-center, pro-business and reform-oriented," Nomura said in a note to clients.

"The fact that runaway spending by the ruling party has not won any votes could be taken as a very positive signal by the markets in terms of voter preference for the kind of policy favoured by the electorate."

The Sensex gained as much as 2.3 per cent to a record high of 21,483.74 points, while the broader Nifty rose as much as 2.5 per cent to an all-time high of 6,415.25, surpassing its previous peak hit in January 2008.

Sectors such as infrastructure and construction, seen as most benefitting from a potential BJP victory in elections next year, did especially well.

Builder Larsen & Toubro, for example, rose 4.1 per cent. Lenders, which would benefit from a business cycle recovery, also surged, with ICICI Bank up 5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the partially convertible rupee rose to as high as 60.84 to the dollar, its strongest level since August 12, when the currency was headed to a series of record lows.

Still, analysts warned a BJP victory next year is far from guaranteed and the market rally could be capped by worries about an economy expected to grow below even the decade low of 5 per cent hit in the previous fiscal year.

The Federal Reserve could also move soon to end its massive stimulus after signs of an improving US economy.

Only a few months ago India was badly roiled by fears of an early end to the Fed tapering, ushering the worst market crisis since the balance of payments turmoil two decades ago.

Although India is seen as being in a stronger position after its current account deficit has narrowed to a more than four-year low, the prospect of foreign selling is a concern.

Foreign investors have bought 1 trillion rupees so far this year in shares, making these capital flows vital for India's current account balance.

Furthermore, high inflation has forced the Reserve Bank of India to raise interest rates by half a per centage point over the previous two months. A continued spike in consumer prices in data due out on Friday could bolster views the central bank will again tighten monetary policy again this month.

"There should not be such excitement around new high. It is not understandable in context of growth and valuations." Sanjeev Prasad, executive director and co-head of Kotak Institutional Equities in Singapore. — ReutersBack








SC issues contempt notice to Sahara chief Subrata

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy as to why criminal contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for allegedly interfering in the investigations into the money trails in 2G scam.

The notice has also been issued to journalist Upendra Rai and another person.

The apex court Bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi issued the contempt notice while upholding the maintainability of the contempt plea by Enforcement Directorate (ED) official Rajeshwar Singh.

The court has given Subrata Roy and the other two people four weeks to respond to the contempt notice. 

Rajeshwar Singh in his plea said that the alleged contemnors were interfering in his investigations by putting up questions camouflaged as journalistic pursuit. — IANS




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