A crushing defeat in the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly election has put former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in a precarious position. The Samajwadi Party supremo, who only months ago had displaced his father and party founder, Mulayam Singh Yadav, from the post of national party president, would have been left reeling after the recent setback. SP's performance in this election – winning 47 seats, down from 224 in 2012 – is its worst showing ever and has raised questions on Akhilesh's leadership ability. As expected, the banner of rebellion has started rising against him. File image of Samajwadi Party leader CP Rai, who spoke out against Akhilesh Yadav recently. File image of Samajwadi Party leader CP Rai. In conversation with Firstpost, SP leader and founding member CP Rai, the party's general secretary since its inception and known Mulayam aide, questioned Akhilesh's decision to form an alliance with Congress and his 'offer' to tie up with Mayawati's BSP following the exit poll results.

Rai said that BJP's deft handling of the election on multiple fronts worked in its favour and thus believes that Akhilesh should let Mulayam come back as party president to regroup the party. He said that all SP members need to united again and that Akhilesh should take his own time to evolve.

Excerpts from the interview:

What do you think propelled BJP to victory? And why did SP suffer such a crushing defeat?

We need to introspect on a few things. I told Mulayam to concede that in BJP, anyone could become anything at any point, irrespective of their surname. We don’t know Narendra Modi or Amit Shah’s caste. The BJP was successful in conveying that for SP, backward community meant Yadavs and for Mayawati, Dalit meant only Jatavs, and that both parties are trying to outbid support from Muslim community. Mulayam’s humiliation at the hands of Akhilesh also drove some Yadavs towards the BJP.

Mulayam had thrown Congress out of power in 1989 and had kept them on the margins since. Then how did Congress suddenly became an asset for SP?

It is part of the Congress culture to thrust the same old tired persons, who have been around for fifty years and done nothing, onto people – like they had done with Sheila Dikshitji in Delhi. The most unfortunate part is that they are now trying to make Rahul Gandhi a leader. As I have said earlier, Rahul is a true follower of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji had said in 1947 that the fight for Independence was over, so the Congress should be disbanded. Now Rahulji, being a true follower, is fulfilling Gandhiji’s words. Till the time Congress make an effort to pitch Rahul against Modi, BJP will consciously give importance to Rahul. Because they know that until he is around, no one can stop BJP’s onward march.

Then what do you make of Akhilesh's explanation, that theirs was an alliance between two youth, two mighty powers coming together?

That’s because Akhilesh is as political as Rahul. If SP had not fought in amongst ourselves, we would have done well. Even if we had lost elections, we would have got around 140 seats.

Are you suggesting that Akhilesh is not political?

See, when you suddenly come into power, the bureaucrats intoxicate you a lot. You can check the records, there would not have been a single day when Akhileshji wouldn't have attended at least three programs – at Indira Prathisthan, Taj Hotel and elsewhere – that had no connection with politics. This was done by the bureaucrats to keep him occupied with them. Those suit-tie wearing, English speaking guys were brought in to talk laudatory things about Akhilesh. As a result, he wouldn’t had no time to talk to his own people, his own party members.

News source: First Post

Published in Politics


It was around this time last year that Marcus Rashford was scoring the winner in his first Manchester derby and establishing himself as the main striker at Manchester United. Having already scored twice on both his United debut and his first start in the Premier League, Rashford _ a shy, 18-year-old local lad plucked from the under-19s to solve an injury crisis _ would soon be an FA Cup winner and earning an England call-up for the European Championship. He was widely regarded as a future star of English soccer. Fast forward 12 months and Rashford has drifted out of the spotlight, and is mainly found either on United’s substitutes’ bench or pushed out to the wing to accommodate the new striker sensation at Old Trafford, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Until now. With Ibrahimovic starting a three-match domestic suspension, Rashford is set to be back leading the line for United _ and his first game doesn’t get much bigger: An FA Cup quarterfinal at Chelsea on Monday. It’s a chance for Rashford to remind manager Jose Mourinho that he is a striker, first and foremost, and that he can still be the future at United when 35-year-old Ibrahimovic chooses to leave the club, which could even be as early as this summer.

“I want to become the ultimate center forward,” he said. Rashford was thrust from the academy and started 18 of United’s final 19 games last season, scoring eight goals. But he has only started 10 out of 26 league games this season, and just one as the striker. He has seven goals in all competitions, only three of which have come in 2017. Rashford has expressed his frustration at not getting as many starts this season but understands that Mourinho has a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal. Given the season Ibrahimovic is having in his first year, Rashford cannot expect to retain his place when the Swedish striker returns.

But Rashford will become a firm favorite of Mourinho’s if he can score the winner on Monday at the Portuguese coach’s former club and then help United win upcoming league games against Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion in its push for Champions League qualification. Rashford also needs to stay on the radar of England coach Gareth Southgate ahead of next year’s World Cup in Russia. He won’t find it easy against Chelsea, though. The London club is the Premier League leader and has the joint-best defense in the league with Tottenham. If Rashford does get behind center backs Cesar Azpilicueta or Gary Cahill, he’ll have sweeper David Luiz _ enjoying an excellent season back at Stamford Bridge _ to beat. Chelsea’s only loss at Stamford Bridge this season came in September against Liverpool, when the team was a few weeks away from switching to a three-man defense _ a tactical change that has reignited its season.

News source: Indian Express

Published in Sports


First day of the main draw matches at the All England Badminton Championships proved to be a mixed day as far as Indian shuttlers are concerned. There were wins for singles players in PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy but there were early exits for other singles players Ajay Jayaram and Kidambi Srikanth. In the doubles department, Meghana Jakkampudi/Ram Poorvisha (women’s doubles) and Manu Attri/B. Sumeeth Reddy (men’s doubles) lost early on in the Superseries Premier event in Birmingham on Wednesday. PV Sindhu, seeded sixth, had an easy time dispatching Mette Poulsen of Denmark 21-10, 21-11. However it was Saina’s win that stole the attention. Former World No 1, now on the recovery trail after surgery and injury layoff, got the better of defending All England champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan. The Hyderabadi won 21-15, 21-14. With the win, Nehwal also exacted revenge for her loss in 2015 to Okuhara and extended her head-to-head over the Japanese to 5-1.

Srikanth foot tooth and nail but could not get the win over Jungpeng Zhao of China, losing 19-21, 21-19, 12-21 in a nearly an hour long contest. Jayaram’s exit, though, was in straight games to Yuxiang Huang (19-21, 13-21). Another Indian pairing of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy take the court last on the day in the mixed doubles event. Sindhu now takes on Dinar Dyah Ayustine of Indonesia while Saina faces German qualifier Fabienne Deprez. For Prannoy, seventh seeded Chinese shuttler Houwei Tian awaits in the second round.

News source: Indian Express

Published in Sports


BENGALURU: Always aiming to be the best in the business since his early days, India captain Virat Kohli says he very well knew that he has to consistently perform in all three formats of the game to realise his dream. Kohli, who won the Polly Umrigar award for BCCI's International Cricketer of the Year at the Cricket Board's annual awards on Wednesday night, said he always wanted to be one of the top players in the world. "I always wanted to be one of the top players in the world for sure. So I understood what it would take for me to maintain my form in all three formats. It is very important in transition phase to be available in all three formats and take the country forward," Kohli said. Kohli also took a dig at his detractors and said he always believed in his abilities although there were many doubters around him. "All along in my career, there were many people who had doubted the way I have gone about my game. Even now there are doubters and haters all around, but one thing is for sure that I have always believed in myself," he said. "I always believed in my heart that if I work 120 per cent every day in my life I am answerable to no one." Kohli also became the first Indian cricketer to receive the Polly Umrigar award for the third time.

Hailing his teammates for their support and contribution in helping India reach the pinnacle of Test cricket, Kohli said the last 12 months have been a breakthrough year in his career. "It is been quite unbelievable in the last 10 to 12 months. As cricketers you always have a breakthrough year for everyone. Starting late 2015 to the end of 2016, probably I could term is as the breakthrough year in my career. All the hard work, all the training on a daily basis, all the sacrifices, came together nicely. It could not have been possible without the help of the teammates throughout," he said. "At times you don't do well but when the champion players in your side step up and everyone delivers what when you start producing results. "That is why we are the top side in the world at the moment, and it is testimony to the kind of talent we have in the team and how players have stepped up on occasions which helped the team pull through different situations. I thank my teammates for their support, trust and effort," Kohli said.

The Indian skipper said the mantra behind the team's success in the last one year is it's care-free attitude and belief. "We play with a kind of attitude, we don't care about what happens outside that change-room door," Kohli said. "That is the attitude I have adopted since late 2015 when I stopped putting pressure on myself. I told myself I am working hard enough, I have the talent and I have the ability. I am going to go and express myself, but if I get an opportunity I make sure that I win games," he added. Kohli also thanked the Cricket Board (BCCI) for being given an opportunity to lead the Indian team. "I am thankful to BCCI for the kind of position it has put me in. I take this as an opportunity. I don't take this as a job. It is an opportunity and a responsibility. I need to do right things, set right examples and follow certain path that the whole team believes in," he said.

News source: The Times of India

Published in Sports


Defending champion Novak Djokovic was knocked out in four hours and 48 minutes by world No 116 Denis Istomin in the second round, losing 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. It was the first time that Djokovic had been beaten in the second round of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2008. Andy Murray's hopes of winning a first Australian Open title ended with a shock defeat to world number 50 Misha Zverev. Murray, the world No 1, dropped serve eight times as his German opponent won 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in the upset of the season. A few hours after Murray's exit, the defending champion and world No 2 Angelique Kerber was beaten in the fourth round by unseeded Coco Vandeweghe, ranked 35 in the game. German Kerber, 29, won Grand Slam titles at Melbourne and New York last year, but went down to Vandeweghe 6-2, 6-3. 

Britain's Dan Evans, ranked 51, came from a set down to upset seventh seed and former US Open winner Marin Cilic 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-3 in the second round. This was the 26-year-old's biggest career victory, and came after he struggled with an eye problem while Cilic breezed through the first set in 31 minutes. The British No 3's next victim was the home favorite Bernard Tomic, a victory which put him into the last 16. Evans beat the 27th seed 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and 48 minutes in another great display of his handskills, holding his nerve in both tiebreakers. There was even arguments with the officials after a rain shower disrupted play at a crucial time in the third set.

This was a high-intensity match which Italian Andreas Seppi won, but made headlines for yet another Nick Kyrgios meltdown that sent him crashing out of the tournament. Perennial bad boy Kyrgios was accused of tanking, or giving up, during his 1-6, 6-7 (1/7), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 loss to Seppi. Australian Kyrgios won the first two sets, then lost two, before the final went back and forth in riveting manner. 

News source: The Times of India 

Published in Sports


The high-pitched Assembly elections conclude on Wednesday with last phase

Published in Politics


A victory for Samajwadi Party in the election would be vindication of Akhilesh Yadav. A loss would unleash many dark possibilities and critical challenges for him. It was a rather stormy entry into the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections for Akhilesh.

He was still fighting a serious battle on many fronts when the election commission sounded the poll bugle. The in-house challengers had to be neutralised and many conspiracies to destabilise him needed to be smothered. The Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav had to be eased out with every ounce of his dignity intact. He had landed in a direct, no-holds-barred conflict with the party’s powerful nuts and bolts man Shivpal Yadav. The party was on the brink of a vertical split before the other side gave up the fight.

The possibility of a split drove him into a hurried alliance with the Congress. According to poll observers and party insiders, it was an unwise alliance where the Samajwadi Party conceded a quarter of the 403 seats in the state to a party with negligible presence on the ground. It led to heartburn and mini revolts within party ranks and it didn’t help that party elders were reluctant to offering the soothing touch.

Under him the party had made a definitive generational shift but the new leadership had to find wider acceptance among the party’s followers and sympathisers. Father Mulayam, the party’s founder, was the natural leader of a social coalition that stood him in good stead all through his active political career. Akhilesh had to prove he was a genuine claimant to that position. He not only had to woo the Yadav’s, the traditional backers of the Samajwadi Party, but also the other caste groupings that aligned well with party. With election so close, time was too short for him.

Akhilesh’s biggest challenge, however, was to find a counter to the resurgent BJP. The general election of 2014 was a shocker. The saffron surge under Narendra Modi, had disturbed the traditional poll arithmetic in the state. The accepted caste equations in relation to voting behaviour had gone for a toss. The fact that the party had secured a whopping 43 percent of the vote share called for drastic rethink on poll strategy from others, particularly the ruling Samajwadi Party which had to deal with the incumbency factor too. Akhilesh shifted the debate to performance with some deliberateness. It was risky but Modi had forced a change in the poll idiom and language; others had no other option but to follow.

A victory for Akhilesh would thus be a vindication of whatever moves, political or otherwise, he has made in the recent months. A loss would mean going back to the drawing board and starting from the scratch. Lost constituencies may not be easy to get back. It would be a long, arduous task to be back as a political force.

News source: http://www.firstpost.com

Published in Politics


They were heralded just months ago as "the only people" Pauline Hanson could trust with the task of engineering One Nation's resurgence in Western Australia. Within weeks, the plan was in tatters. Ron McLean and wife Marye​ Louise Daniels, associates of Senator Hanson for 20 years, were unceremoniously dumped as state president and secretary of One Nation, and expelled from the party. Two axed One Nation officials intend to take legal action against Pauline Hanson for alleged age discrimination. Now, as the party implodes just days out from the election, the pair have engaged a lawyer to file an anti-discrimination claim against Senator Hanson for allegedly telling Mr McLean he was "too old" to run for a seat.

"She said: 'Ron, I'm sacking you from the position on [the] agriculture [ticket], I believe you're too old and you'll be 91 when the term's finished'," Mr McLean, 87, told reporters at a shambolic media conference on Thursday. She also took aim at Senator Hanson's chief of staff James Ashby, who is resented by many One Nation operatives for the power he wields in the party. "Oh, James Ashby's present everywhere," Ms Daniels said.

Mr Ashby told Fairfax Media the party did not want to comment on matters that could be subject to legal proceedings, but conceded the pair's age had been a factor in them being rejected for pre-selection.
"If that's the path they want to go down, so be it," he said. "Pauline did say it's not a good look having an 88-year-old run as a candidate. I know they were upset and disappointed but Pauline still thinks the world of them." The couple's lawyer John Hammond said proceedings had been filed in the WA Equal Opportunity Commission and a full explanation about the dismissal had been sought in writing from Senator Hanson. "We do not agree that anyone should be told that they're too old to stand for Parliament," he said, citing Bernie Sanders, who was 74 when he sought the Democratic nomination for US president last year. WA One Nation leader Colin Tincknell did not return Fairfax Media's calls on Thursday, but told Sky News the party had found "a younger, more virile candidate" to take Mr McLean's position on the ticket.

"We were concerned for his health," Mr Tincknell said. The pair were sacked for disloyalty and not their age, he said. It came as rumours spread that up to a dozen furious One Nation candidates were preparing to denounce the minor party over Senator Hanson's preference deal with Colin Barnett's Liberal Party. One former candidate, retired bricklayer Ray Gould, last week declared he had "had enough" and abandoned his candidacy. "Nothing has been up front. We haven't been told the truth from day one," he said. One Nation was expected to be a potent force at Saturday's election, but polling by Fairfax Media has put the minor party on a primary vote of just 8.5 per cent - ahead of The Nationals but behind The Greens.

News source: http://www.smh.com.au

Published in Politics


New Delhi: Mint brings to you your daily dose of political news reported by newsrooms across the country.

Missing VIPs in Uttar Pradesh poll campaign

Congress president Sonia Gandhi was conspicuous by her absence from the campaign for assembly elections in five states, especially in Uttar Pradesh, which she skipped for the first time since her election as party leader in 1998. Seven months ago, she held a roadshow in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, in a symbolic launch of the Congress campaign in UP, India’s largest and most populous state.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s low poll profile raises questions about his relevance

During the 2012 assembly elections, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav addressed over 300 election rallies. In the current one, he addressed just three. The low profile maintained by the patriarch in the party’s election campaign has raised questions about his relevance in the party. The political sidelining of the 77-year-old Mulayam Singh Yadav, which began with him being replaced as national president by son and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav following a bitter family feud in January, was accentuated in the just wrapped-up elections, with Mulayam Singh playing only a limited role in the Samajwadi Party campaign.

Education, health main focus in Delhi budget

Education and health remained the key focus areas for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government in its Rs48,000-crore third budget, presented by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday. Education accounted for 24% of the budget and health for 12%. For the first time, the AAP government presented an outcome budget to increase accountability. In line with the Central government, the Delhi government has done away with the plan and non-plan component.

Shiv Sena’s Vishwanath Mahadeshwar is new Mumbai mayor

Shiv Sena nominee Vishwanath Mahadeshwar was on Wednesday elected the new mayor of Mumbai in an election which had turned predictable after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of the contest. Mahadeshwar’s election as the 76th mayor of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, India’s richest civic body, comes as the culmination of a fierce battle between the Sena and the BJP for the political reins of the country’s financial capital.

Winds of change in Odisha?

On the face of it, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president and state chief minister Naveen Patnaik still holds sway over Odisha. In the just-concluded 2017 three-tier panchayat elections, BJD remained the lead party with 473 zila parishad seats out of 853. Dig deeper, however, and the cracks in the BJD edifice are beginning to show. First, its tally has dropped from 651 seats in 2012. Second, this has come because of a stunning surge in the number of seats won by the BJP—growing from 36 to 297 zila parishad seats in the same period.

News source: http://www.livemint.com

Published in Politics


New Delhi: Mint brings to you your daily dose of political news reported by newsrooms across the country.

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UP elections: Yadav family feud erupts on eve of last day of voting

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News source: http://www.livemint.com


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