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Delhi Police register FIR against JNU students protesting against fee hike

The Delhi Police lodged an FIR on Tuesday in connection with the protest by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students over a hostel fee hike, a senior police official said.

He said the FIR was registered under the relevant provisions of law at the Kishangarh police station, but did not divulge the details. There was no immediate reaction from the JNU Students' Union (JNUSU).

Hundreds of JNU students rocked the national capital on Monday, bringing several parts of the city to a halt. The students took out a protest march opposing the recent fee hike against which an agitation has been going on for over three weeks. During their clash with the police, the students alleged that they were baton-charged by the men in uniform. However, top police officials denied using force against the students.

According to the police, nearly 30 police personnel and 15 students were injured during the eight-hour protest, in which thousands of students from different universities across the national capital took part. There was a heavy deployment of police and paramilitary personnel outside the main gate of the JNU campus, even before the march commenced. Water cannons and PCR vans were also stationed outside.

Before the protest began, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry set up a three-member committee to recommend ways to restore the normal functioning of the university and initiate a dialogue with the students and the administration.

The protesters took out the march around noon, broke the first set of barricades at the main gate of the campus and proceeded towards Baba Gangnath Marg, where another set of barricades awaited them.

The police detained about 100 protestors, including JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, secretary Satish Chandra Yadav and former JNUSU president N Sai Balaji. The students were ultimately stopped outside the Safdarjung Tomb, where, they alleged, the police baton-charged them, an allegation denied by the men in uniform.

On Saturday, an FIR was registered against unidentified persons over an incident of "defacement" of the JNU's administration block.

Is the JNU students protest over the fee hike justified?

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PM Modi's Shout-Out To Sharad Pawar's NCP Amid Maharashtra Turmoil

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shout-out for Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in parliament, at a time the party is engrossed in all-out efforts to form a non-BJP coalition to take power in Maharashtra, drew much comment on Monday. PM Modi was speaking at a special discussion to mark the 250th session of the Rajya Sabha or upper house of parliament.

"Today, I want to appreciate two parties, NCP and BJD (Biju Janata Dal of Naveen Patnaik)," said the Prime Minister, opening the discussion.

"These parties have wonderfully adhered to parliamentary norms. They have never gone into the well of the house (to protest). Yet, they have made their points very effectively. Every political party, including my party, should learn from them," PM Modi said.

The Prime Minister was speaking on the practice of members rushing to the centre of the house and shouting slogans while raising protests in the house.

The praise for NCP stands out at a time Sharad Pawar is a key player in trying to stitch the unlikeliest of all alliances in Maharashtra, between the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress. And especially when the Shiv Sena, the BJP's oldest ally, today officially sat in the opposition benches after their falling out over power sharing in Maharashtra.

PM Modi's BJP opted out of the race to form a government, after long-term partner Shiv Sena refused to continue the alliance without a guarantee of equal partnership, including rotational chief ministership.

The Shiv Sena, which won 56 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, immediately pulled out its only minister from PM Modi's government and began talks with the NCP and Congress. The three together have 154 seats, nine more than the majority mark.

The Sena almost staked claim to power last Monday when it was forced to instead request the governor for more time, after the NCP held back its letter of support. The Congress said it needed more discussions.

Many in the NCP believe Sharad Pawar is under pressure from the centre to stall the alliance. Top NCP leaders like Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel have been booked in Enforcement Directorate cases.

Is Sharad Pawar's NCP compatible with the BJP?

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Sena-NCP-Congress Will Form Government in Maharashtra

The Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress will form a government in Maharashtra, which will complete a full term, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Friday, ruling out mid-term elections in the state that is under President's Rule after no party won a majority in polls last month. The three parties have agreed on a minimum agenda for getting together in a coalition government in Maharashtra, another senior leader said as the parties announced that they would meet with the Governor tomorrow in their first-ever joint outing.

"This government will be formed and it will complete five years. We all will ensure this government runs for five years," said Sharad Pawar, 79, a day after the three parties met to thrash out their basic differences and draft a common minimum programme.

The Congress, which took time to come around to supporting an ideologically contrasting party like the Shiv Sena, had insisted on a common agenda.

Deriding Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP for predicting that a Sena-NCP-Congress government would not last more than six months, Mr Pawar said: "I know Devendra ji for some years. But I did not know he is a student of astrology too."

The veteran also joked about another statement by Mr Fadnavis, who quit as chief minister last week: "I will come again."

Asked about the Shiv Sena's reported insistence on having the chief minister's post for the entire term, Mr Pawar said: "If anybody demands the chief minister's post we will think about it."

Sharad Pawar, a former Maharashra chief minister, is believed to have called for rotational chief ministership as a condition for partnering with the Shiv Sena.

Another NCP leader, Nawab Mallik, indicated that the Sena may get its wish. "On this issue the Sena separated from the BJP. Taking care of their prestige is our job. Chief Minister will be theirs," said the NCP leader.

"The draft common minimum programme has been sent to the leadership of each party for approval. Our focus will be on farmers' issues and unemployment... We are trying to make a government as soon as possible," he added.

Mr Malik refused to confirm reports that the Shiv Sena would have chief ministership for the entire five years and the NCP and Congress would share deputy chief ministership.

"Talks are still on," he said, adding, "There are no controversial issues in the draft."

The three parties will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at 3 pm tomorrow on what they call "governance failure" in issues related to farmers and job losses. They have had discussions over the past three days - since President's Rule was imposed in Maharashtra on Tuesday -- on power sharing after the Sena ended its alliance with the BJP over its demand for rotational chief ministership.

Will they be able to form a government?

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Ayodhya set to develop into a far bigger tourism destination after SC verdict

After the landmark Supreme Court judgement on the disputed Ayodhya land, hotel and tourism players are assessing opportunities in the city. The apex court on Saturday ruled that Hindu parties would get 2.77 acres of disputed land, and a trust would be set up by the central government in three months to monitor the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Vibhas Prasad, director at homegrown hotels brand Leisure Hotels says that he's planning to pick a heritage property in Ayodhya city which he would like to convert into a boutique hotel with about 25 rooms. "We have been operating as an upscale operator in Uttarakhand, and specifically in tourist destinations like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. We would like to expand this portfolio as things are looking up in Ayodhya. I am sure the government wants to make it as big as Gujarat's Statue of Unity or even bigger from the tourism standpoint," says Prasad who currently operates 26 properties, including in partnership with Taj Hotels and Club Mahindra Holidays.

Experts say that the tourism sector in the city is expected to get a leg-up after the SC verdict. It's believed that initial investments would come from the tourism sector, and once the temple is constructed, there will be a plenty of business activity which would further boost tourism. While there's some bit of Hindu tourism in Ayodhya, Varanasi and Prayagraj (especially during the Kumbh mela), central and eastern Uttar Pradesh is largely dependent on Buddhist pilgrimage. But that's set to change after the temple is built.

"If you look at mass tourism, the largest segment is spiritual and pilgrimage travel across the country. In Ayodhya, while the market is expected to be skewed towards domestic travelers but there would be some inbound [foreign] tourist potential as well. We expect the city to develop into a far bigger tourism destination with potential for spiritual, social events, business, luxury and MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions] travel over the next three-four years," says a travel consultant.

Of late, the state government has been allocating large funds to develop the tourism market in the city. Recently, the UP government sanctioned about Rs 446 crore for the construction of 725-feet tall Ram statue on the banks of the Saryu River as part of Ram Nagri project. The state government has already approved Rs 640 crore for the development of an international airport over 285 acres at Ayodhya to attract domestic and foreign tourists in large numbers. Having an airport would not only uplift the city's economy but generate higher number of jobs. According to ministry of tourism 2017 report, Uttar Pradesh was the second-most visited state by the domestic tourists after Tamil Nadu.

Spiritual tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the domestic tourism. The role of India as a religious hub for different cultures has helped it attract millions of tourists every year. In 2014/15, the central government launched a dedicated National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) scheme that aimed towards strengthening the infrastructure for tourism across the country.

After the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir that opened up the tourism opportunities in the hilly state, the latest order from SC is going to galvanise Ayodhya into a tourist hotspot.

Do you think so?

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President's Rule In Maharashtra Recommended By Union Cabinet

Maharashtra is set for President's Rule after a report from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to the centre that none of the three parties he had invited since Saturday - BJP, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) - could produce enough numbers to stake claim to power even 20 days after the October 24 state election results. The Governor sent the report after the NCP spoke to him at 11 am, hours before its 8.30 pm deadline, and asked for more time. President's Rule was recommended in the middle of meetings between allies Congress and NCP to discuss support to the Shiv Sena. The NCP of Sharad Pawar received an invite last evening after the Shiv Sena failed to get a three-day extension to stake claim. The Sena has gone to the Supreme Court against the Governor's refusal to give it more time.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

1. The Shiv Sena's attempts to form a government with its sworn rivals NCP and Congress reached a dead-end yesterday after a call from Congress president Sonia Gandhi gave a glimmer of hope to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

2. At the last minute, when the Shiv Sena was to meet the Governor with letters of support, the Congress said it had taken no decision and would have discussions with NCP chief Sharad Pawar. "From 10 am to 7:30 pm on Monday, our leaders including Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel were waiting for (Congress's) letter," said NCP's Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar's nephew.

3. The Shiv Sena went to the Supreme Court complaining that the Governor had refused to grant it even an extra day even though the BJP was given two days to prove its numbers. Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, a Congress leader, is representing the Sena.

4. Sonia Gandhi sent her top party leaders to Mumbai for discussions on government formation after speaking to Sharad Pawar on the phone this morning. The Congress leaders had earlier put off their visit. Ajit Pawar had told NDTV that his uncle Sharad Pawar had been asked to meet Sonia Gandhi in Delhi instead. Mr Pawar had declined, citing a meeting of NCP MLAs in Mumbai.

5. Though Congress MLAs in Maharashtra favour forming a government with the Sena, the party leadership, especially Sonia Gandhi, is extremely wary of a tie-up with an ideologically different party, a traditional enemy and one with which it was in direct contest in Mumbai and many regions in Maharashtra in the polls. The Congress is also concerned that the Sena's divorce with the BJP, its partner of nearly 30 years, may not be permanent.

6. The Shiv Sena yesterday pulled out its only minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government at the centre to signal its exit from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The Sena's separation from the BJP was the NCP's prerequisite for talks between the Maharashtra rivals for a non-BJP alliance.

7. The NCP says it will not take any step without its ally Congress. "Whatever decision will be taken will be taken collectively, so we were waiting for Congress response yesterday but it didn't come, we can't decide on it alone. There is no misunderstanding, we are together. The Congress is taking time because we didn't contest with the Shiv Sena," said Ajit Pawar.

8. The Congress says it was Sharad Pawar who wanted more time. Sources say Mr Pawar told Sonia Gandhi yesterday that there was a need to discuss the contours of support to the Sena. "NCP is just two seats short of Sena," Mr Pawar reportedly pointed out, indicating a rethink on whether the Sena should have a full term for its chief minister.

9. On Saturday, as the term of the Maharashtra legislative assembly ended without any resolution, Governor Koshyari invited the BJP to form government. But the BJP opted out of the race accusing the Sena of "betraying the people's mandate".

10. The BJP won 105 seats in the Maharashtra polls and the Sena 56, which placed them comfortably ahead of the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member assembly. But the allies fell out over the Sena's demand for rotational chief ministership, in a "50:50" deal it said was discussed with BJP chief Amit Shah. With the NCP's 54 seats and the Congress's 44, the Sena will have 154 MLAs on its side. Congress MLAs remain at a resort in Rajasthan's Jaipur as the leadership wants to avoid a repeat of Goa, where its members crossed over to the BJP.

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