India

India seeks to buy 24 anti-submarine helicopters MH-60 ‘Romeo’ from US

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India has sought from the US 24 multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ anti-submarine helicopters for its Navy at an estimated cost of US $2 billion, defence industry sources here said Friday.

India has been in need of these formidable anti-submarine hunter helicopters for more than a decade now.

The deal is expected to be finalised in a few months, informed sources told PTI, days after US Vice President Mike Pence held a successful meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Singapore on the sidelines of a regional summit.

India has sent a letter of request to the US for an “urgent requirement” of 24 multi-role helicopters MH 60 Romeo Seahawk, sources said.

In recent months, there has been acceleration in defence ties between the two countries, with the Trump administration opening up America’s high-tech military hardware for India’s defence needs.

Bilateral defence relationship was on top of the agenda of the Modi-Pence meeting in Singapore on Wednesday.

The meeting is likely to be followed by a summit-level bilateral between Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump in Argentina on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting on November 30 and December 1. Neither side has confirmed the meeting yet.

According to sources, the MH-60 Romeo deal is expected to have an offset requirement. Sources indicated that India plans to follow up this urgent requirement with a long-term plan to manufacture 123 of these helicopters in India.

Currently deployed with the US Navy as the primary anti-submarine warfare anti-surface weapon system for open ocean and littoral zones, Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter is considered the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter.

According to industry experts, it is the most capable naval helicopter available today designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers. MH-60 Romeo Seahawks would add lethal capabilities of the Indian Navy, which experts say is the need of the hour given the aggressive behavior of China in the Indian Ocean region.

Lockheed over the years has emerged as a major American supplier of state-of-the-art defence military equipment.

“With this Seahawk deal the overall US-India defense trade will surpass USD 20 billion,” an industry source said.

“The pipeline of opportunities for US defense firms can result in another USD 5 billion of sales in the next few years,” the source added.

According to US Naval Air System Command, the MH-60R Seahawk missions are anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, communications relay, combat search and rescue, naval gunfire support and logistics support.

As the Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, the MH-60R Seahawk is considered to be the cornerstone of the Navy’s Helicopter Concept of Operations.

The MH-60R and its mission systems have replaced the US naval fleet’s legacy SH-60B and SH-60F aircraft.

India

India to develop 4 km stretch of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak

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India will develop 4 km stretch of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab to International Border with Pakistan, Parliament was informed Thursday.

The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of first Sikh guru Guru Nanak Dev – with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India.

“The government of India has decided to develop the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district up to the International Border (with Pakistan),” Minister of State for Highways Mansukh L Mandaviya said in a written reply to Lok Sabha. He was replying to a question whether the National Highways Authority of India has developed or plans to develop any project on the corridor.

Approximate length of the road project is about 4 km,” he said.

Work on determination of the alignment of road has been initiated, he added.

On November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone for the corridor. The decision to build the passage was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22.

Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, had spent more than 18 years of his life in Kartarpur. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the corridor in Pakistan on November 28.

The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims.

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India

Modi government has no plan for waiving farm loans

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Contrary to earlier reports Modi government denied any plan of waiving-off farm loans. The government told the Lok Sabha that it was not considering any loan waiver scheme as it would affect the credit culture, incentivise defaulters, create a moral hazard and perpetuate demands for further waivers.
In a written reply to Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali Patil, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala said “the Union government at present is not considering any loan waiver scheme for farmers.”
Earlier a Reuters report claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is likely to announce loan waivers worth billions of dollars to woo millions of farmers ahead of a general election.
Citing sources the report stated that the government might plan to waive off loans after BJP party suffered a rural drubbing in state polls.
To claw back support among India’s 263 million farmers and their many millions of dependents, PM Modi’s administration would soon start working out the details of a plan allocating money to write off farm loans, the sources said.
With a national election due by May 2019, Modi and the BJP have run out of time to announce other easy, popular measures such as raising the support, or guaranteed, prices for staples such as rice and wheat, farm analysts said.
The reports stated that if Modi government would have approved the farm loans waivers that would widen a fiscal deficit the government has aimed to cap at 3.3 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), or Rs 6.24 lakh crore. Even without the farm loan waiver, some credit rating agencies have estimated the country’s fiscal deficit at Rs 6.67 lakh crore – or 3.5 percent of GDP, on muted tax collections.
The loan waiver also risks deepening the malaise at public sector banks saddled with most of India’s $150 billion in stressed loans. If the government finds very limited fiscal space, it could go for loan waivers only in a few geographies that have suffered extreme weather conditions, sources and analysts said.

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India

Supreme Court extends term of Punjab, Haryana DGPs

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The police chiefs of Punjab and Haryana, who were due to retire on December 31, were given a one-month extension by the Supreme Court on Wednesday. This order came as an interim arrangement in the police reforms case pending in the apex court, where the respective states have challenged the requirement of consulting the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) to appoint the Director General of Police (DGP).

The two states were aggrieved by the order passed by the Supreme Court in the police reforms case, making it compulsory for states to submit a panel of names to UPSC three months prior to the vacancy of the DGP post. The UPSC will then approve and recommend names based on merit and seniority such that the recommended candidate has a two-year fixed tenure.

Punjab and Haryana passed laws that nullified SC’s direction. They held that UPSC should not be consulted; the selection of the police chief should be the state’s discretion. Senior advocate P Chidambaram appeared for Punjab, while senior advocate Shyam Divan represented Haryana.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph reminded the states that on July 3, the apex court had issued a further direction that any law which is contrary to Court’s directions shall be kept in abeyance. “Effectively, you want our July 3 order to go but we are not inclined to change our order,” the Bench told Chidambaram.

Chidambaram urged the Court that Punjab DGP Suresh Arora is due to retire on December 31, as is BS Sandhu of Haryana. The bench replied that an urgent hearing cannot be given until they heard the objections from the original petitioner and former DGP Prakash Singh, who was represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan. The Court fixed the hearing on January 8 and extended the term of the serving DGPs till January 31.

Besides Punjab and Haryana, the two states, Bihar and West Bengal have also moved applications requiring exemption from going to the UPSC. In Bihar, the incumbent DGP is due to retire only by January 31. In West Bengal’s case, its formal application challenging the Court’s order is yet to be filed, thus the Court did not grant it any hearing.

 

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Shivraj Singh hopes that Rahul Gandhi fulfils the farmers loan waiver assurance in 10 days time in Madhya Pradesh

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The outgoing chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Shiv Raj Singh who had ruled the state for fifteen long years, maintaining his popularity amongst all sections of the society and also famous for hindu appeasement by inducting five saints as cabinet ministers in his previous government has expressed the hope that the new Congress chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi would live up to their pre election promises and fulfill the farmers loan waiver assurances within ten days of assuming the office as CM.

Mr. Shiv Raj Singh was addressing the press conference after congratulating the Congress leader Kamalnath for the victory who’d also visited his house in person to seek his cooperation in the near future.

Whole heartedly accepting his defeat at the hands of the Congress party Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan smilingly said that now his duty as the state chowkidar has begun and he is not the one to take even a day’s rest but will start working from now onwards as an opposition leader keeping tab n checks on the wrong doing of the new government.

Shiv Raj Singh assured the new Congress chief minister and the government of his fullest cooperation in the future in all the developmental works and projects of the state and assured of his total support and cooperation in all the peoples’ developmental initiatives.

He disclosed that he has urged the Congress leader Kamal Nath to continue to carry forward the ongoing schemes and initiatives introduced during the BJP government under his tenure pertaining to various developmental projects and reliefs given to dalits, farmers and the people of the lowest ebb of the society.

Chouhan said he is totally free from today after the dedicated services of the last 15 years as the state’s chief minister despite securing 40% of the largest vote chunk.

This is the decency of our democratic system that people go for change despite voting in good percentage. We have to honour the peoples’ verdict as governments n heads of the state change in democracy but the developmental works should go on uninterrptedly added Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan.

He added that though we’ve lost but the opposition in the state is very strong and this is a healthy trend in a viable democracy.

We will keep a vigilant eye and apply regulation on the government’s wrong doungs but would also cooperate fully in all the pro people developmental works irrespective of our ideological differences.

He repeated in a humorous tone : let’s see if the farmers loan are remitted and chief minister changed after 10 days after assuming office by the new Congress CM if he fails to do the needful. After all Rahul Gandhi has made a public pledge in front of the state’s populace during his public meetings in this regard.

In response to a question Shiv Raj Singh said that his maximum focus now would be on working extremely hard to ensure that the party wins maximum number of lok sabha seats from the state in the general elections of 2019 to ensure the historic victory of BJP under the dynamic and pro people leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi.

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Mumbai

BMC employees with disabled child to get 730 special leaves

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Employees of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will be entitled to 730 days of special leaves to look after their disabled child. The move comes in to benefit Central and State government staff. The proposal was submitted to the BMC for its final approval after receiving a nod from the standing committee in October.

The Bombay High court, around two years ago, had directed the state coordination committee under the Disability Act, to advise the government on the formulation of a policy with regard to Child Care Leave (CCL). The verdict was given over the petition of a lower court staffer whose eight-year-old daughter had cerebral palsy. Eventually, the state and now, even the BMC is ready to grant leaves to women employees, who have children with special needs. Widowed male employees can also seek benefits of the scheme.

Civic employees was allowed to take long-term leaves for reasons related to education, sickness, maternity, child adoption, and so on. However, a provision of CCL was not made available to them until now.

BMC staff, who have children with blindness, low vision, leprosy — cured, hearing impairment, loco motor disability, mental hearing impairment, mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities can avail the benefits of CCL.

An employee can take as many as 730 days in his or her entire service of up to 22 years, if he or she has a disabled child. CCL does not involve any age restriction as long as the case is about 40 per cent disability. The scheme is admissible for up to two children.

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Delhi

May limit wedding guests, Delhi government tells Supreme Court

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The Delhi Government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it is in the process of formulating a policy to put curbs on “vulgar” display of food at lavish weddings organised at the Capital’s farmhouses and motels.
The submission came in response to a Court order on December 6 raising questions over how farmhouses were allowed storage capacity of one lakh litres water when residents in the city bared got water to drink. The Court even commented on food being wasted in excess at these functions and wondered if the state favoured the mighty and the rich.
Appearing before a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur, Delhi’s Chief Secretary Vijay Dev told the Court about a two-pronged strategy being contemplated by the government. He said that the state government and the office of the Lieutenant Governor were equally concerned about how there is “vulgar display” of water and food, which are otherwise scarce, at functions held at farmhouse and motels. Due to these artificially enhanced demands, the public needs suffer, he said.
He shared certain highlights from the policy under preparation which could include a guest control order, caterers who supply food at these venues to link up with NGOs for supplying excess food, and regular inspections to ensure the food served at these events is not stale or leftover of the previous day. This fact even shocked the bench, also comprising of Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta. The bench asked the Chief Secretary to ensure proper inspections are conducted by Food Inspectors to prevent such instances of caterers serving stale food.
As a second step to achieving this end, Dev pointed out that the Government is contemplating changes to the farmhouse policy requiring the owners of these motels/farmhouses to conform to strict conditions.
He said that most of these farmhouses have permanent pandals erected throughout the year when the season of marriage is restricted to few months in a year. He admitted that the previous policy of October 20, 2007, was considered effective even by the Delhi High Court. But the policy was changed by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) in 2018. Amicus curiae and senior advocate Ranjit Kumar requested the Court to revive the 2007 policy but the counsel for SDMC objected.

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India

Choice of CMs of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh left to Rahul Gandhi

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The issue of electing the leaders for the post of chief ministers in Rajasthan as well as Madhya Pradesh has been referred to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as the warring factions of Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot, Kamal Nath n Jyotiraditya Scindhya and their supporters raising slogans since morning, demanding selection of their respective leaders as chief ministers of these states are not relenting and nor are either of these leaders.

There has been total confusion at Jaipur since morning as vociferous slogans shouting supporters of Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot looked in a mood to physically scuffle with each other and the slogan shouting continued till evening.

Meanwhile two observers from Delhi namely Venugopal and Avinash Pandey, the party’s national general secretary arrived at the venue at Jaipur and held one to one meetings with all the MLAs.

The senior Congress leader in the race of the chief minister Ashok Gehlot whose chances seem more bright in view of his long term experience as the former CM of the state got a single line resolution passed in the meeting, passing the responsibility of selecting the CM nominee on the Congress high command and Rahul Gandhi which was duly consented by every MLA.

After the deliberations for several hours the observers recommended their findings to the Congress president leaving on him to take the final decision unilaterally.

The MLAs were asked to leave and so were the slogan shouting crowd. It’s expected that since the matter of selection of Rajasthan chief minister became bit tough as none of the two i.e. Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot ready to relent, the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will reveal the name of the chief minister either at late midnight or tomorrow perhaps after due consultation with his mother Sonia Gandhi or other senior functionaries of the party.

Similarly in Madhya Pradesh the supporters of Scindia and Kamalnath raised slogans demanding their leaders to be chosen as CM of Madhya Pradesh. The senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and the former CM MP n AICC general secretary met the governor Maniben Patel and handed her the letter n list of 121 lawmakers with the BSP n SP support, requesting her to call them to form the government in the state. Meanwhile the Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia held a meeting of his supporting MLAs and so was the meeting of Kamalnath faction in progress to mobilise the maximum numbers.

Since in Rajasthan n Madhya Pradesh there are two claiments in each state with MLAs and supporters wanting their leaders to be sworn in as the chief ministers respectively, the matter of the selection of the chief ministers have been recommended to the Congress high command n the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

The hectic meeting is in progress in the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee right now and the result is expected any moment. Hundreds of followers of both the factions raising slogans against each other n in favour of their leaders have gathered outside the Party headquarter at Jaipur with heavy police bandobast fearing any untoward incident or scuffle between the suppoerters of Gehlot n Pilot.

However till now, the names of party veterans Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath are on the top for the Chief ministership of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile according to a survey carried out by Aaj Tak about 57% Congress supporters want Ashok Gehlot to take the cudgels as CM in Rajasthan while 53% supporter favour young Jyotiraditya Scindia while in Chattisgarh 38% Congress supporters favour T. K. Singh as CM than Baghel.

Meanwhile as per the latest development n reliable sources the Congress leader n MP Jyotiraditya Scindia has recomended the name of Kamalnath for the chief ministership in Madhya Pradesh ending all speculations. Kamal Nath has emerged as the next chief minister of the state waiting for the official stamp of the Congress High Command.

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Mumbai

In Mumbai, Google Leases Office Space Of One Lakh Sq. Ft. Area

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The Internet giant Google Inc picked more than 1 lakh sq. ft. office space in the First International Financial Centre (FIFC) Tower, located in the Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai. This tower is partially owned by the US private equity major Blackstone Group via a long-term lease, the sources said.

This office space is spread across two floors in FIFC and this will attract monthly lease rental of Rs. 275 per sq ft. There will be an elevation in rental every three years and this includes the total time period of the lease is nine years incorporating the contract clause of 15 percent.

According to the sources, the lease transaction was finalized almost a month ago and Google is planning to makeshift the office in new and capacious office space at the earliest. The company has a total of four offices in India and it’s headquarter in the country is located in Hyderabad.

The present office of Google Inc in Mumbai is spread over 20,000 sq. ft. area and is located at BKC’s North Avenue Maker Maxity. The new office space in the First International Financial Centre (FIFC) Tower is five times bigger than the current office.

The First International Financial Centre (FIFC) Tower in the Bandra Kurla Complex is a 12-storey FIFC Tower having offices of various reputed global companies that include Oracle and McKinsey & Company, and the Citigroup acquires a total of six floors in the tower. The company’s headquarter is also located here only.

Back in 2013, the software giant Oracle India signed a nine-year lease deal contract for 50,000 sq. ft. of office space in the same building. Apart from this, the US technology company Apple also leased around 12,000 sq. ft. office space in the same tower.

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Have Modi’s and Yogi Adityanath’s oratorical skills failed as compared to Rahul’s speeches in the 3 states’ assembly elections

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After the victory of the Congress in three states of the hindi heartland, two questions are being prominently asked by the politival analysts. One: is the prime minister Narendra Modi’s charisma fading out gradually n two, is the Nehru Gandhi scion who’d just a year ago taken the party’s cudles in his hand as its president being accepted by the masses of the country as a prospective alternative?

The questions seem to be quite relevant as prime minister Modi who’s leadership led to the saffron party’s incessant victory in 20 states of the country after the 2014 polls since he assumed office as prime minister jas this time lost the three BJP rule states at the hands of Congress which the saffron party considered as a non entity till now.

The speed, zeal and enthusiasm with which Rahul continued his attack on prime minister Modi n the BJP on issues of national significance particularly Rafale, unemployment, agrarian crisis, demonetisation, inflation, corruption, farmers loan waivers and his rhetorics and finally won three states, it seems that over two dozen public meetings of Prime minister Modi n over 100 meetings of star campaigner UP CM Yogi Adityanath could not exhibit any positive impact on the voters mind and hearts leading one n all to believe that the charisma of the BJP’s topmost leaders is fading out expeditiously.

Not only this but the defeat also makes it unambiguously apparent that the oratory skills of leaders like Modi, Shah and Yogi Adityanath have not been recognised and accepted by the electorates of these three states thus giving a huge rebuff to their various claims of development and so called achievements on various fronts. On the other hand Rahul Gandhi who was once branded as an immature leader as Pappu by the BJP has through his oratorical skills and eloquence given an impression of his being the leader with integrity and transparency, particularly when he repeatedly assured the crowds of these states that if his party’s chief ministers will not waive the loans of farmers within 15 days of coming to power he will change him or her immediately.

Moreover, his assurance for employment and resolving the agrarian crisis including developments prospects have also been taken extremely seriously by the electorates of the states who comprised of minorities, the farmers, the youths, women, the dalits and peoole of the lowest ebb of the society. The massive loss of BJP in the cities n towns of these states was the result of the negative impact n implications of GST and demonetisation that made millions of poor jobless and petty entrepreneurs bankrupt.

In addition to this, the three term rule of fifteen years in states like MP, Chattisgarh n in Rajasthan as well has made the BJP ministers and lawmakers over confident and proudy thinking that they are invincible who will again come back victorious in view of the Modi charisma or wave including on the Ram Mandir issue through polarisation on majoritarianism which was their wrong perception.

There is always a saturation point and 15 years period is too much which usually enthuse the voters to go for change particularly when the governments in power forget to give results as happened in all these three states of Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Now, this victory has given Rahul Gandhi and the Congress a new lease of life which was reduced to mere two states due to the thundering impact of Modi’s juggernaut. While the BJP is trying to again raise the Ram Mandir bogey to polarise the entire country in the name of Hindu saffronisation, the Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi has to playa bigger role as a chief anchor n a nucleus of the larger non BJP opposition unity with minimum basic programmes in the run up to the general elections of 2019.

He will have to show humility, sobriety, affableness and kindness while forging a grand alliance at the national level with the secular, democratic n left parties including with all the regional satraps and convince them to stand united at all costs even if the Congress party is constrained to lose their regional seat share to fight the mighty BJP led NDA. The victories of the byelections of Gorakhpur, Sitapur, Bihar, Kairana, UP, Karnataka, Maharashtra n the three states have amply made it unambiguous that if the non BJP parties unite no power on the earth can stop them replacing BJP led NDA in 2019.

Therefore, forging of a grand alliance keeping the vested political interests aside is the only and sole is the only alternative that can pave the way for a new government replacing the present one. But the way is too challenging n full of thorns? What’s your take friends?

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Delhi

We’ll defeat BJP in 2019 as we defeated it in three states

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The elections of 2014 were very significant for me as it’s during these election that I leart lot of things, particularly from Modiji.

I learnt humility, the nerve of the country, the peoples’ mind, the problems of farmers, unemployed youths, women and the people of the lowest ebb. I learnt to connect with the masses and how to deal with them. I also learnt as to how these people were betrayed by the incumbent government.

This was what I told to my mother yesterday while interacting with her but unfortunately our prime minister Narendra Modi has failed to learn n fulfill his promises given to the people of the country.

It was indeed a very important period for me to have learnt so many hard facts of the political life. The main issues on which the Congress fought were employment, farmers’ crisis and corruption and will continue to make them our election plank in 2019 as well. We defeated the BJP in three states, the main hindi heartland and will further defeat them in 2019 as well added Rahul.

The Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said that prime minister Narendra Modi won the elections in 2014 on three main points viz corruption, employment and farmers welfare but after being elected he failed on all these fronts that ultimately led to the Congress’s victory in the three states of Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. He added that corruption was committed on Rafale.

He showed the ample courage of saying on camera about Modi’s alleged complicity in corruption and added that the whole country knows about it.

Rahul Gandhi was today evening addressing a press conference after the Congress Party’s victory in three states at the party’s headquarter in New Delhi.

He looked completely relaxed, jubilant and confident and answered to number of questions of senior journalists.

Rahul said we’ll defeat the BJP in 2019 as done in the three states now. While congratulating the party leaders of the state as well as the Congress workers Rahul Gandhi pronounced them as Babbar Sher ( Lions) and appealed them to exhibit the same unity and spirit in the general elections.

On the question of BSP Supremo Mayawati criticizing the Congress leadership and going for a minus Congress alliance with Ajit Jogi’s party in the assembly elections Rahul Gandhi said : there can be differences on forming state alliances but in the context of the anti BJP’s national opposition unity to the run up for the 2019 general election we are all together and will move ahead unitedly to pose a formidable challenge to BJP in 2019.

He catagorically said that the prime minister Narendra Modi betrayed the youth, farmers and the people of the country on issues of employment, farmers well being and ridding the country of corruption and its because of these failures that the BJP has lost in the three states.

The Congress party headquarter in New Delhi was full of jubilant Congress workers bursting fire crackers and raising pro Congress and pro Rahul Gandhi slogans. Congress workers were seen dancing and merry making to the tunes of drum beats n sprinkling rose petals all around.

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