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BJP Well-placed To Capture Maharashtra, Haryana

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BJP Well-placed To Capture Maharashtra, Haryana

BJP Well-placed To Capture Maharashtra, Haryana

New Delhi/Mumbai/Chandigarh: The BJP was within striking distance of power in both Haryana and Maharashtra, exit polls said Wednesday at the end of keenly fought assembly elections that pitted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party against all key players in the two states.

Various exit polls gave the Bharatiya Janata Party a margin of 42-54 seats in the 90-member Haryana assembly and 124-151 seats in the 288-strong Maharashtra legislature.

The Congress, which had ruled Haryana for the last 10 years, was predicted to end up with just 10-18 seats. In Maharashtra, the exit polls gave the Shiv Sena, the BJP’s former ally for 25 years, 51-77 seats, Congress 27-48 seats and Nationalist Congress Party 28-41 seats. The last two had ruled the state for three terms since 1999 before their alliance ended last month.

While some exit polls predicted BJP getting a majority in the two states, others projected it as the single largest party, a few seats short of a simple majority.

The bitter battle for Maharashtra ended Wednesday evening with over 64 percent of the 8.35 crore electorate voting. Polling also took place for the Beed Lok Sabha seat where a bypoll was necessitated following the death in June of central minister Gopinath Munde.

Sena youth leader Aditya Thackeray asserted that not only would his party form the government, but its president (his father) Uddhav Thackeray would be the next chief minister.

On the other hand, senior BJP leader and MP Poonam Mahajan confidently declared that “the people would support the vision of development propounded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

Stray incidents of violence marred an otherwise peaceful election.

In Gadchiroli district, Maoists attempted to disrupt the polls by firing at a polling booth but security personnel returned fire and voting continued peacefully. Some incidents were also reported from Yavatmal, Thane and Mumbai.

Mumbai saw celebrities, including industrialists, Bollywood stars, television actors and cricketers, queueing up to vote and urging people to follow suit. Among those seen were industrialists Anil Ambani and Adi Godrej, and film personalities Rekha, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Jaya and Abhishek Bachchan, Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Sonali Bendre, Anupam Kher, Hema Malini, Amol Palekar, Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao-Khan, Esha Deol, Nana Patekar, Prem Chopra, Govinda, Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Rishi Kapoor and family, and Jeetendra and his family.

In Haryana, the voters Wednesday set a new record with over 75.5 percent of the 1.63 crore electorate exercising their franchise, perking up the BJP’s hopes to come to power on its own.

This is the highest voting in Haryana assembly polls since 1967, chief electoral officer Shrikant Walgad said.The previous record of maximum polling was 72.65 percent in 1967. In 2009, Haryana recorded nearly 72.29 percent voting.

The BJP was confident of victory. “The BJP is all set to form the next government in Haryana on its own. We will get a clear majority and end scams and corruption,” party leader Abhimanyu said.

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Nawaz sharif

Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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Temple

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