The Hindustan Times – In Shiv Sena leader’s new dart at BJP, a warning on options before Uddhav Thackeray

Raut’s warning comes just hours after he met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar at his house on Thursday evening.

Swapnil Rawal

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, Picking up from where Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray had left it yesterday, his party continued to play hardball over its initial demand for the chief minister’s post on Friday and delivered a sharp warning to the BJP that it could look at other political formations if its demand for the chief minister’s post wasn’t accepted.

“If Shiv Sena decides, it’ll get the required numbers to form a stable government in the state,” senior party leader, Sanjay Raut, told reporters on Friday amid the ongoing, and increasingly bitter, tussle with the BJP over the Sena’s demand for equal sharing of posts and responsibilities, including the chief ministership.

Raut also dared the BJP to go ahead and form the government if it had the numbers. “The mandate was for the alliance, why didn’t they come forward to discuss on the day results were announced?” he asked.

The BJP, which contested the state elections in alliance with the Shiv Sena, had emerged as the single largest party with 105 seats in the 288-member assembly. Its ally, the Shiv Sena, was the second largest with 56 seats. The Congress has 44 MLAs and the NCP 54.

A strength of 145 is needed for a simple majority.

Raut’s warning comes just hours after he met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar at his house on Thursday evening. Raut later told reporters that he had gone to extend Diwali wishes to Pawar but they did discuss, as Raut later put it, “the politics in Maharashtra”.

That meeting, followed up with Friday’s warning, is seen as an effort to counter the narrative that the Shiv Sena, despite the many stinging barbs that it directs at its alliance partner, would eventually come around. It is also designed to rebut the BJP argument that the Sena did not have the numbers to claim the CM’s post and was only using the demand to seek more cabinet portfolios.

“People have given mandate to form government on basis of 50-50 formula that was reached in front of people of Maharashtra. They want chief minister from Shiv Sena. There will be a Shiv Sena chief minister,” Sanjay Raut said.

Shiv Sena boss, Uddhav Thackeray, has been particularly upset with the BJP after chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, told reporters this week that there had been no decision on the 50-50 power-sharing formula that Sena leaders talk about.

At a meeting of party lawmakers to elect their leader in the assembly, Uddhav Thackeray told his MLAs that Fadnavis’ assertion was untrue and uncalled for. The Sena chief also told his party that the talks on government formation could proceed only after the BJP admits that there was a 50-50 formula.

BJP leader and finance minister in the outgoing cabinet, Sudhir Mungantiwar, responded to the latest warning from the Sena but insisted that the rift between the two allies was just a ‘hurdle’.

“We are willing to take the initiative and start the talks to end this impasse. This is just a small hurdle. The mandate is for both of us. It would be unfortunate if we can’t form the government by November 8,” said Mungantiwar.

“It would be unfortunate if we let one-up-manship derail the talks,” he said, underscoring that the BJP would approach the Sena to initiate talks later in the day.

Political analyst Prakash Bal sees Friday’s statement by Sanjay Raut as a pressure tactic. “It is unlikely that the Shiv Sena will go with the Congress-NCP to form the government.

It will be an unstable government. Also, Sharad Pawar is not likely to support a Sena-led government. This seems to be pressure tactics of the Shiv Sena. We will have to wait and see how the BJP reacts to it,” said Prakash Bal.

The Tribune – Digital drive to apprise youth of Gurbani

Tribune News Service

Bathinda – Panjab – India, 31 October 2019. Sikhs have launched the first-of-its-kind digital campaign to introduce Guru Nanak’s teachings to a younger audience in India and abroad. Marketing firm MSL based in New Delhi has been engaged to create awareness about the Guru’s philosophy ahead of his 550th birth anniversary.

As per a release issued today, Dr Rajwant Singh, co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign in the US, said, “An online portal named ‘The Script of Life’ has been designed to present Guru Nanak’s ideas of enriched life to all. Guru Nanak did not belong to one community.

We want people to discover Guru Nanak as a world teacher whose thoughts can bring people together and spark the joy that the world needs today. Polarisation and hate is on the rise and we need more messaging which builds harmony and love among all people.”

According to the release, the campaign will focus on driving conversations among younger audiences in the age group of 18-35 by revisiting Guru Nanak’s instructions on equality, environment, women’s empowerment, tolerance of religions and service to others. The portal will be available on social media platforms.

Gentbrugge – Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugse Meersen
20 October 2019

Ink mushrooms

Gentbrugse wilderness

Alter the autumn rains the Meersen are marshy again

An old path

Variation of grasses shrubs and trees


More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Indian Express – Delhi nagar kirtan to Nankana Sahib enters Pakistan, but Sarna denied

A major attraction of the procession was a golden palanquin in which Guru Granth Sahib was placed. A bed of flowers was created on the last stretch of the road in India touching the zero line.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 01 November 2019. A 1277-strong nagar kirtan (religious procession) from Delhi to Nankana Sahib, in connection with the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, entered Pakistan through the Attari border on Thursday.

However, a controversy erupted after Shiromani Akali Dal Delhi (SADD) president Paramjit Singh Sarna, who was leading the religious procession, was not allowed by the immigration authorities to enter the neighbouring country citing a cheating case registered against him in Delhi.

Earlier in the day, the procession performed an ardas (prayer) at the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs in the Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib]. At the Attari border, unprecedented arrangements had been made by the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers to welcome the procession.

A major attraction of the procession was a golden palanquin in which Guru Granth Sahib was placed. A bed of flowers was created on the last stretch of the road in India touching the zero line. Sources said, Amritsar Improvement Trust had arranged for 52 quintal of flowers for the purpose.

Meanwhile, Paramjit Singh Sarna, who had earlier claimed that only his party had the permission to take the nagar kirtan to Nankana Sahib, was not allowed to cross over to Pakistan. His brother Harvinder Singh Sarna, was however, allowed to enter the neighbouring country.

“I have been stopped citing a seven-year-old FIR in which police has not even filed a chargesheet against me. I traveled abroad several times in the last five years. In fact, I went to Pakistan two weeks back to make arrangements for this religious procession. But today, suddenly the old FIR has come into play to stop me,” Sarna said.

He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Badal family of Shiromani Akal Dal of hatching a conspiracy against him. “They were shocked at the response that this procession got from the Sikh sangat. I have been stopped due to political reasons. This is violation of right of a Sikh who wants to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.”

About the FIR he claimed that Delhi police officials had told him that they were going to file a closure report “as they couldn’t find anything against me”.

Sarna claimed that several obstacles were created “by BJP and SAD” to stop the procession. “We had sought permission to take the specially modified bus on which gold-plated palanquin carrying Guru Granth Sahib was kept to Pakistan, but it was denied.

Even the permission to carry the palanquin (weighing around 2 quintals, and which is to be placed at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Karartpur) was given at the last moment. The Badal family failed to stop the procession, so they stopped me”.

Delhi nagar kirtan to Nankana Sahib enters Pakistan, but Sarna denied

The Hindu – Lieutenant Governors take charge in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh

Amit Baruah

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 31 October 2019. Girish Murmu sworn in as J&K’s first Lieutenant Governor; R K Mathur takes over as Ladakh Lieutenant Governor.

Jammu and Kashmir became the first State of the Indian Union to be reduced to a Union Territory (UT), with former IAS officer Girish Murmu being sworn in as its first Lieutenant Governor (LG) on Thursday .

Bifurcated from the former State, Ladakh also became a UT, with former civil servant R K Mathur taking over as its Lieutenant Governor in Leh.

The Kashmir Valley saw a complete shutdown, as Mr Murmu, a Gujarat cadre IAS officer handpicked by the Centre, became the new executive authority of the UT, which will now be directly administered by the Union Home Ministry.

Former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti continue to be under detention from August 4, a day before the Rajya Sabha voted to end special status to J&K.

The Indian Union now has 28 States and nine UTs. J&K’s State Constitution has also ceased to operate.

Hours before the swearing-in ceremony at the Raj Bhavan, on the outskirts of Srinagar, this correspondent saw all roads leading to it being sealed off by security forces. There was heavy security in the area.

All shops and business establishments downed their shutters and no private vehicles could be seen plying in the city. In the weeks gone by, shops were open in the morning hours and their shutters were downed by 10 am. But on Thursday, all of them were all closed.

Residents of the Kashmir Valley continue to have no access to both fixed-line and mobile Internet services, which were snapped on the midnight of 04 August.

Anger on the streets

There was palpable anger on the streets. A bunch of people told this correspondent on Residency Road that ending their special status was an “act of betrayal” by the BJP government at the Centre.

“No bandh call has been given by separatists or militants, but people have spontaneously downed the shutters in protest against the ending of our special status. It is the people who have taken over as leaders of this movement,” one shopkeeper, who took this correspondent to his shuttered shop, said.

“How can we believe that full statehood will be restored to us when so many promises made to us on autonomy have been flouted by the Government of India?” another shopkeeper, who preferred anonymity like his colleague, said.

Both the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party expressed their anguish over the change in J&K’s status. “Forcible division will neither change the unity and collective character of J&K, nor will it solve the Kashmir problem,” the NC said in a statement.

On 05 August, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in the Rajya Sabha that the government would consider restoring full statehood to J&K if the Union Territory model worked well.

Interestingly, while the J&K UT will have a 114-member elected Assembly, up from 107 earlier, and a Chief Minister, the Ladakh UT will be controlled directly by the Lieutenant Governor.

Soon after being sworn in, Mr Mathur said, “We will chalk out a blueprint to push development in different sectors. Health and education will remain a key focus.”

With inputs from Peerzada Ashiq