The allies of the BJP in Meghalaya, led by Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday to convey their opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.Meghalaya and the other north-eastern States are opposing the Bill that seeks to legitimise the stay of non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who came to India till December 31, 2014, because of religious persecution.Mr. Sangma, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, told Mr. Singh that all the six coalition partners in the State felt that the Bill would affect Meghalaya’s social fabric and cause a serious law and order problem in the region. “Everybody in Meghalaya is opposed to the Bill. I urge your good office to reconsider the decision..,” BJP leader and Health Minister Alexander L. Hek told Mr. Singh. Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga too voiced concern over the Bill.
The odds are stacked against the Opposition in Lucknow. The BJP has won the seat consecutively since 1991 with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee winning five terms while his lieutenant Lalji Tandon was elected in 2009. In 2014, Rajnath Singh, now Union Home Minister, won handsomely, defeating his nearest rival by 2.72 lakh votes.But Poonam Sinha believes the “euphoria was different” then and says the BJP government has “absolutely wasted” the last five years in matters of governance.“That is one of the main reasons why our Gathbandhan (alliance) has become so strong. Whenever I talk to people, I can see they want a change,” Ms. Sinha told The Hindu.Picked by the Samajwadi Party, rather to the surprise of both locals and observers, to fight the BJP in one of its strongest urban bastions, Ms. Sinha is making her electoral debut. She joined the SP just a fortnight ago to become the face of the alliance on this prestigious seat. Ms. Sinha brings along with her a mix of Sindhi and Kayastha identity — her husband Shatrughan Sinha, a Congress candidate from Patna Sahib in Bihar, is a Kayastha — and the communities have a fair share of members here.‘No shortcoming’But she faces the challenge of familiarising herself with the city with which she has little political connection. Her opponent, Mr. Singh, though from Chandauli in Purvanchal, has served as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, providing him plenty of personal linkages in the State capital. Ms. Sinha says the outsider tag is not at all a shortcoming. “I am really touched by the warm welcome and the acceptance that they (people) are giving me. I really feel great and I’m happy I chose Lucknow,” she said.The SP candidate also hopes to cash in on the image of her party chief Akhilesh Yadav and the work done here under his tenure as CM from 2012 to 2017. “Our leader thinks forward. He doesn’t think backward, unlike this government which is trying to undo whatever good work Akhilesh ji has done in his tenure,” Ms. Sinha said.While Lucknow’s sizeable Muslim population would offer Ms. Sinha a decent share of base votes, a real challenge to Mr. Singh would rely on her cutting into the majority community votes, especially her own Kayasthas and Sindhis and the Brahmins and Banias. So what arithmetic does she have with her? “The Gathbandhan. That’s the biggest thing I have,” she says, avoiding references to any caste. Ms. Sinha says among her top priorities would be women’s safety and security and to provide accommodation like hostels to working women who come from rural U.P. to the city. Pramod Krishnam, the seer-politician fielded by the Congress in Lucknow, said he, and not Ms. Sinha, was going to defeat Mr. Singh as the Congress and BJP were locked in an ideological battle.‘Nuisance value’ Ms. Sinha, however, dismissed him saying his candidature was “just nuisance value” and the she was the “main challenger”.Fighting from his home district of Sambhal as a Congress candidate in 2014, Mr. Krishnam had secured only 16,000 votes. In 2014, the Congress was runner-up in Lucknow with 2.88 lakh votes, but its candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi shifted to the BJP later and is now a Cabinet Minister in the Yogi Adityanath government.The SP-BSP also have a steep climb. In 2014, SP’s candidate Abhishek Mishra and the BSP’s Nakul Dubey, both Brahmins, had managed only 56,771 and 64,449 votes, respectively.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday told State legislators that democratic dissent should not eclipse democratic decency under any circumstances.Addressing the inaugural session of a two-day orientation programme for legislators, Mr. Patnaik said that democratic dissent is “a right, however, while exercising this right, legislators must not forget democratic decency”.“The roots of our successful democracy lie in our people and their unflinching faith in democratic values,” added Mr. Patnaik.“Every elected representative must understand this: whatever position you may be in, the people are supreme. Elected representatives should keep the common people at the centre of all their initiatives,” said the CM. Stating that the primary function of the legislature is to make laws, Mr. Patnaik said an appetite for information and education on legislative procedures, and understanding of socio-economic issues and policies is beneficial.“All our Acts and policies are essentially directed towards the greater public good. Legislators should endeavour to bring the Acts and policies to the public domain so that the people can be partners in the process of change,” he added.‘Lead by example’Stating that the legislators must lead by example. Mr. Patnaik said: “Simplicity should be at the core of our public behaviour. Leading a simple life can help us stay connected to the people.”Odisha Assembly Speaker Surjya Narayan Patro presided over the inaugural session of the programme., which was organised by the Odisha Legislative Assembly in collaboration with the Lok Sabha Secretariat. Deputy Speaker Rajanikanta Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Nayak and Government Chief Whip Pramila Mallick also attended the event.
The new air traffic control tower at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James, was officially opened and commissioned into service by Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague, on Thursday, May 17.The tower is one of two built at Jamaica’s two major international airports, at a cost of $2.5 billion.Speaking at the opening ceremony, Director General of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), Nari Williams-Singh, outlined some of the features of the state-of-the art facility.“The tower is fitted with an industry-leading air traffic management system. This has positioned Jamaica as a leading air traffic management environment, with the most advanced equipment available on the market to improve the safety of air operations nationally and globally,” he said.“The system includes a new Voice Communications Control System; a Time Control System, an Automatic Terminal Information System, microwave, fibre-optic and copper infrastructure; a Meteorological System; a Fire Detection and Signaling System and an Airport Lighting system, with remote control functionalities” he added.Mr. Williams-Singh pointed out that the new technology will allow the Authority to satisfy international requirements and to remain apace with improvements to technology in aviation.“As we carefully manage the risks and complexities of new systems and technologies, we continue to foster the adoption of advanced avionics and satellite-based procedures, performance-based navigation (PBN) and other fail-safe mechanisms, procedures, systems and structures, which make our industry safer, more resilient, incident-proof and efficient,” he saidThe new towers were built under the JCAA’s comprehensive modernisation programme to upgrade and replace major components of its communications, navigation and surveillance systems.