The Hindustan Times – UP elections: Sonia steps in to revive SP-Congress alliance talks

New Delhi, 22 January 2017. As the parleys between the Congress and the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh appeared to collapse over seat-sharing, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday intervened and spoke to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on the phone.

Congress leaders meanwhile were quite hopeful on the talks, as was reflected in their comments to the media.

With the SP refusing to budge from its offer of around 100 seats and the Congress not agreeing to anything below 120, leaders in both camps had thrown up their hands that the prospects of the electoral tie-up were almost over.

Congress sources said Sonia’s intervention will surely boost the alliance prospects. “Everything will be clear by tomorrow (Sunday) morning. The Congress might agree on 100-103 seats. Both the parties know they need each other in Uttar Pradesh polls.”

Earlier, talking about the alliance, senior SP leader Naresh Agrawal said: “The alliance is almost over. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (Akhilesh Yadav) was offering Congress 100 seats but they were not agreeing to anything less than 120 seats.”

“We told them we can’t fight in less than 300 seats but the Congress was adamant as if they are a very influential party in the state,” he added.

Meanwhile, Congress General Secretary in charge of UP Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “You’ll get to know everything by tomorow (Sunday) morning.”

Congress state President Raj Babbar said during the day: “The talks will go on.”

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too are reported to be working on “some possibilities”.

The Gandhi family scion is said to be furious at the “slight and disrespect” shown to the Congress by the SP leadership.

Earlier, the sources said that the Congress Central Election Committee (CEC) had decided to go it alone in the first and second phases of the seven-phase assembly elections in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.

The Tribune – Will re-probe Quran sacrilege: AAP MLA

Sangrur, 21 January 21. AAP Delhi MLA and Punjab co-incharge Naresh Yadav, who is facing charges of Quran desecration in Malerkotla, today alleged those who implicated him falsely would face strict action if AAP came to power in the state.

“We will get the case reinvestigated through senior police authorities after winning the elections,” he said. The case was adjourned till February 13.

Halmaal – Bevingen – Sint-Truiden

16 December 2016


Tiensevest near Stapelstraat


SBPS shop
Sant Baba Prem Singh


Facility for low income-earners on Stationstraat


Stationstraat – New Delhi Bistro – Indian Restaurant

Stationstraat – New Delhi Bistro – Indian Restaurant


Sint-Truiden De Lijn Bus and NMBS Train station

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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

NDTV – Arun Jaitley’s 3 reasons for BJP-Akali winning Punjab factors in AAP

Amitoj Singh

Amritsar, 22 January 2017. The addition of the Aam Aadmi Party in a traditionally bipolar contest will help the ruling BJP-Akali Dal alliance in the upcoming Punjab assembly elections next month, Union Minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said, also taking shots at “absentee” representatives in an apparent jab at cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu who defected to the Congress from his party.

Speaking in Amritsar on the campaign trail, Mr Jaitley, “I have kept in touch with this city for a very long time not withstanding any election result. I do believe that Amritsar has had a very unfortunate experience over the past 12-and-a-half years of suffering from absentee MPs.”

The reference appeared to be a shot at Mr Sidhu, a three-time lawmaker elected from Amritsar who is often criticised by his opponents of abandoning the city for commercial interests in Mumbai.

But countered over the 53-year-old’s only recent separation from the BJP, Mr Jaitley said, “Yes, we share the guilt for that and I’m not referring to only one, I’m referring to at least two who abstained from the city, and the constituency, who also abstained from parliament.”

Despite the 10-year-old regime fuelling anti-incumbency sentiments, Mr Jaitley said, he had three strong reasons to believe why the BJP-Akali combine would return to power.

Besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s continuing appeal and a general appreciation for the state government’s performance, the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party would also help them divvying up the opposition to the ruling alliance, he said.

“Conventionally Punjab saw a direct election between Congress and the NDA (BJP-led National Democratic Alliance). This time there is a divided opposition to the NDA. Both the arithmetic and the chemistry will certainly dictate the election result,” he said.

The Hindu – Jammu & Kashmir: Before Zaira, there were sports champions and IAS topper

But just a week later, a picture with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made her a villain overnight

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar, 22 January 2017. On January 12, Dangal actor Zaira Wasim, 16, posted a message on Facebook, “I have also cleared [Class 10 exams]. Don’t know how!”. She was greeted with a torrent of congratulatory messages, with no trolling.

But just a week later, a picture with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made her a villain overnight.

The disenchanted and alienated population of Kashmir, besides religious extremists, suddenly saw Ms. Wasim as a target for their anger over the prolonged curfew and death of over 90 civilians in the unrest in the summer of 2016. It was easy and just a click away.

The young actor is not the first person to struggle to come to terms with this unpredictable behaviour.

From 27-year-old cricketer Pervaiz Rasool, who has played for India, to IAS topper Shah Faesal and eight-year-old kick-boxing wizard Tajamul Islam, who has been trained by the Army, there has been an attempt by a sizeable number to use such achievers as targets for their their disenchantment with the State and to score a political point.

Several people set on fire a calendar featuring young Tajamul recently. Cricketer Rasool is often confronted with a barrage of questions on the nature of politics.

‘Getting mixed up’

Mr. Faesal, whose house resounded with firecrackers burst by the local people to celebrate his success in the IAS examinations in 2010, said, “My feat was celebrated again and again.

However, of late, people’s achievements get mixed up with local politics. There is a vocal minority that undermines peoples’ achievements and questions whether to celebrate it.”

Lampooned online often for his political views, Mr. Faesal said, “I have thousands of followers on social media with whom I engage through my posts … In Zaira’s case, many people rallied behind her.

So, it’s a new beginning where people have started celebrating success. Earlier, there was an overriding thought of the State sponsoring the talent. The paradigm is shifting.”

Gowhar Geelani, a columnist and political commentator, blames the narratives emanating from mainland India for reactions here.

“We stood for our young achievers in every field. We stood for pellet-hit Insha and others who died in 2016 … But we refuse to be part of the crafty grand narratives and hollow ‘surgical strikes’ of the Indian liberal class that only wake up when it suits them,” Mr. Geelani said.

Separatist leaders like Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have maintained a distance from the controversy, only saying “We have nothing to do with it”

Focus on Mehbooba

Hameeda Nayeem, a Professor of English at Kashmir University and wife of Hurriyat leader Nayeem Khan, sees no role of separatists in the Zaira controversy.

“The media is grossly misrepresenting the case. Nobody is against Zaira acting. Some youngsters have shown displeasure with her meeting the CM, who is using any opportunity to bolster her own position after what happened in 2016,” said Ms. Nayeem.

“The Zaira episode is symbolic of how the Indian apparatus sees every little Kashmiri endeavour, be it in education, entertainment or sports, as a tool to be used to show how Kashmiris are “integrating”.

The Indian Express – Separate homeland demand for Pandits gets right wing backing

At a convention here to mark the 27th anniversary of exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley due to militancy, all the delegates endorsed the demand of Panun Kashmir organisation.

Several right wing organisations from various states today backed the demand for creation of Union Territory in Kashmir valley for displaced Kashmiri Pandits for their rehabilitation and breaking the state into four parts.

At a convention here to mark the 27th anniversary of exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley due to militancy, all the delegates endorsed the demand of Panun Kashmir organisation for creation of UT in Kashmir valley to the North and East of River Jhelum along with rehabilitation of all Kashmiri Hindus living all over India, Pramod Muthalik, founder of Sri Ram Sena, told reporters here.

Muthalik, who had shot to limelight after an attack on a pub in Mangalore a few years back, addressed a joint press conference along with Tapan Ghosh, a firebrand nationalist ideologue from West Bengal, Charu Dutt Pingale, a social and cultural activist from Maharashtra, Ramesh Shinde, founder of Hindu Jagruti Samiti, Murli Sharma of Odisha-based Bharat Raksha Manch, Radha Krishen of Shiv Sena and Agnishekher, convener of Panun Kashmir.

“We demand the Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir into 4 parts, separating Jammu and Ladakh and creating a union territory of Panun Kashmir,” Karnataka-based Muthalik said.

He said that all leaders who attended the three-day convention will carry forward the “Ek Bharat Kashmir Kee Aur” and educate people about the struggle of Kashmiri Hindus and goal of Panun Kashmir.

All delegates resolved to mobilise the whole nation at the grassroots level in support of creation of Union Territory of Panun Kashmir, said a statement issued after the meet.

The delegates have taken stock of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and are alarmed by the drift which is taking place in the state away from India, the statement said.

“Separatist sentiment is pervading the entire political class and mainstream political parties are now brazenly supporting the separatist objectives one way or the other,” it said.

It further said that the Situation has drifted to the extent, that even the state legislative assembly is being used for giving flip to separatist interests.

The delegates wanted to remind the whole nation that more than 6 million Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are living in J & K and there is a grave conspiracy to present their numbers far less than the actual, the statement said.

“We all will mobilise opinion against the demographic assault in the whole nation and in rest of the world,” it said. – India scapegoats Sikhs again by suggesting attacks during Punjab elections

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi, 20 January 2017. The intelligence services of India appear to be attempting to drag the reputation of it’s Sikhs through the mud again by accusing them of being potentials in perceived attacks during the upcoming Punjab elections.

Listing Kashmir fighters and unnamed Sikh organizations in a threat report, law enforcement agencies have been told to step up patrols at all events in anticipation of an attack.

Despite the fact that Sikh freedom fighters have not instigated any such attacks for nearly two decades, the authorities still enjoy using the turbulent period of state persecution of the 80s and 90s to fire up fear and resentment.

The only reference for the report appears to be suspicion that Sikh organizations have not been happy with the Chief Ministers of Punjab, the Badal father and son. Citing no reference to evidence based information, the Indian media has been headlining the unfounded accusations nationwide.

Halmaal – Bevingen – Sint-Truiden

16 December 2016


Bevingen N80
I decided to turn left ….

16 December 2016


Sint-Truiden – Naamsesteenweg


Sint-Truiden – Naamsesteenweg – Poonam shop


Sint-Truiden – Naamsesteenweg – Poonam shop


Sint-Truiden – Naamsevest


Sint-Truiden – Tiensevest

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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Navjot Singh Sidhu has joined Congress without any pre-conditions: Amarinder Singh

Amritsar, Panjab, 19 January 2017. Coming together for the first time after cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the Congress, Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh on Thursday said that Sidhu had joined the party without any pre-conditions.

“He is a foot soldier of the party, and has joined without any conditions. He never put forth any conditions,” Amarinder said, expressing happiness at Sidhu’s joining the Congress fold.

He made it clear that “Sidhu had joined the Congress without any preconditions and would be the party’s star campaigner in these polls”.

Amarinder later tweeted a photo of the two together: “Addressing our first Press Conference together. @sherryontopp (Sidhu) is like my son, and I’m glad we’re together in our #BattleForPunjab.”

There was speculation that Amarinder, who was conspicuous by his absence at Sidhu’s formal joining of the Congress in Delhi on Sunday, was upset that Sidhu was being projected as a chief ministerial probable by the Congress high command.

Amarinder had, on Tuesday, told the media: “I do not know if I am the CM (chief minister) candidate. It is up to the Congress President (Sonia Gandhi) to decide.”

Responding to media queries, Sidhu rubbished all speculation on his vying for a post in the next Congress government, saying “son is son, and father is father”.

Declaring that he was in the Congress because of Amarinder, Sidhu asserted that he would go to Lambi constituency as campaigner to campaign against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Sidhu tweeted: “Line-up is ready, boys are enthused, the captain @capt_amarinder formidable. Time to knock Badals out of the park! #TeamPunjab #BattleForPunjab.”

Amarinder said there was no truth in allegations by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders that he was being “soft” on Badal.

“I am contesting from Lambi to defeat Badal,” Amarinder said.

Amarinder Singh said if the Congress came to power, he would order reinvestigation into the SIT (special investigation team) clean chit in the drugs racket case in which the name of Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia figured.

Dawn – PM urged to address KP parties’ reservations over CPEC

Khaleeq Kiani

Islamabad, 20 January 2017. The federal government has requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to address reservations of various political parties over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at an all-party conference (APC) and remove ‘misunderstandings’ about the mega project.

This was decided on Thursday at an inter-provincial meeting on the CPEC held to follow up on the corridor’s joint coordination council (JCC) meeting held in Beijing a few weeks ago.

The APC was proposed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister who explained that although his government was on board the project, several other political parties in his province had reservations over it.

Speaking at a news conference with KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haidar Khan and Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said the prime minister would convene an all-party conference to address reservations by some political parties in KP.

Mr Khattak said most of the province’s reservations had been addressed. However, some parties had political reservations and the government should satisfy them, he added.

Federal minister insists corridor will have a positive impact on South Asia, believes China has rebuffed India’s objections to the project

Mr Iqbal insisted that the CPEC would have a positive impact on South Asia. “India is suffering from CPEC phobia…this would surely lead to its isolation in this region,” he said, adding that China had rebuffed India’s objections to the project.

“How will India stay away from a project everybody wants to be a part of?” The minister said that several countries, including the United Kingdom, had expressed thier inclination to join the CPEC and advised India to be a part of it too.

Mr Iqbal said that several Indian think tanks had been pressuring their government to benefit from the project.

All provinces expressed full support for the CPEC and agreed to complete their homework on projects approved by the sixth JCC to ensure its speedy and timely implementation. The Pakistani side of the joint working groups would meet soon to finalise new projects in energy, infrastructure and other sectors, he said.

He praised the provincial governments, KP in particular, for expediting work on the CPEC. He said the participants of the meeting had agreed that along with projects in the infrastructure and energy sector, a procedure of industrialisation would be finalised to ensure maximum benefits from the CPEC.

Mr Iqbal said certain elements were trying to spread misconceptions about the project and were hatching conspiracies to derail the harmony between Pakistan and China. “All reservations by federating units have been addressed and everyone is now working for success of this project,” he added.

In reply to a question, he said it was illogical to assume that a large number of expensive Chinese workers would come to Pakistan and fill up the job market. He said Pakistani labourers and engineers would get more than half of the jobs under the CPEC. Thousands of Pakistani engineers and workers already had jobs in various CPEC projects, he added.

The KP chief minister said his government would organise a road show in March in China to attract investment in agriculture, mining and tourism sectors.