Tuesday, 6 May 2014

8th phase of Indian LS polls tomorrow: 1,737 candidates in fray but all eyes on Rahul Gandhi

Having won in 2009 nearly half of the 64 seats going to polls in the penultimate round on Tuesday, Congress appears to face a difficult task when people in the whole of Seemandhra, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand cast their vote in the Lok Sabha elections tomorrow.
Conversely its main rival BJP, which currently has only five seats in tomorrow’s round, may have everything to gain if it improves its performance in parts of heartland UP and Bihar that go to polls along with some constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.

Of the 64 seats in seven states, including West Bengal, Congress had won 31 in 2009 while BJP had five.
In all, voters in seven states will pick their candidates in the eighth of the nine-phased elections. Already elections have been completed in 438 of the 543 constituencies. 41 seats will go to polls in the last round on May 12.
Faced with complaints of large scale rigging in some places, the Election Commission on Tuesday said that it has increased videography of polling stations to ensure free and fair poll.
The fate of 1,737 candidates, including Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), his cousin Varun (Sultanpur), Union minister Beni Prasad Verma (Gonda), cricketer-turned-politician Md Kaif (Phulpur-all in UP), Ram Vilas Paswan (Hajipur), Rabri Devi and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Saran-all in Bihar) is in the hands of 18.47 crore voters who are eligible to cast their franchise.
Elections will also be held tomorrow in Mandi in Himachal Pradesh where Pratibha, wife of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, is contesting while Anurag Thakur, sitting MP and son of former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, is the candidate in Hamirpur. Seemandhra, comprising the areas of Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra, accounting for 25 parliamentary seats, will vote tomorrow for both Lok Sabha and Assembly. In the last two Parliamentary elections, Congress had done exceedingly well and had contributed overwhelmingly to the making of the UPA
governments at the Centre.
In 2009, the Congress had won 19 of the 25 seats in the region. It had also formed the government in Andhra Pradesh on both the occasions.
The demise of strongman Y S Rajashekhar Reddy shortly after the 2009 polls and the split in the party effected by his son Y S Jaganmohan Reddy coupled with politics over division of the state have combined to pose big hurdles for the party in the current elections.
Besides, Andhra Pradesh, elections will be held in seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, 15 in UP, six in West Bengal, five in Uttarakhand, four in Himachal Pradesh and two in Jammu and Kashmir.

Waqar Younis given second term as Pakistan coach

Former Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis has been appointed national coach for a period of two years. He will join the team in June, having previously served as bowling coach of the Pakistan side in 2006-07 and briefly in 2009, and as head coach in 2010-11.
"I am extremely pleased to have been selected as the head coach," Waqar said. "My immediate aim would be to prepare the team for the upcoming busy cricket season including the next year's ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand."

A committee comprising Intikhab Alam (director domestic cricket operations), Haroon Rashid (director game development) and Moin Khan (chief selector) met today in Lahore to review the applicants for the coaching job and "unanimously" recommended Waqar, a choice that was endorsed by the PCB chairman.
After Dav Whatmore's contract with Pakistan ended in February, Moin, who had been the team manager, was named coach and was in charge until the World Twenty20 in April, when the same PCB administration under Najam Sethi that had appointed him, gave him the dual roles of team manager and chief selector of the national team.
Waqar had previously quit as Pakistan coach reportedly because of personal reasons, but his differences with former captain Shahid Afridi were a factor during Ijaz Butt's term as PCB chairman. When asked last week if he was okay with working with Afridi, Waqar said: "Pakistan cricket is like my family and differences aren't the end of life, so things get better. I am here to serve cricket and want to return what I have learned from my playing career."
During Waqar's previous stint as Pakistan coach between March 2010 and August 2011, Pakistan endured several off-field controversies - the spot-fixing scandal in England and Zulqarnain Haider fleeing to the UK mid-way through a tour - but their performances were satisfactory. They drew a Test series against South Africa, won one in New Zealand and reached the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup. After his term came to an end, Waqar applied for the Australia job but did not make it past an interview with Cricket Australia.

Pakistan NA unanimously passes resolution to lift ban on YouTube

The resolution was tabled by Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) MNA Shazia Marri.
She said that every Muslim country of the world has lifted the ban on YouTube, adding that the video sharing website also can be accessed through proxy.
Marri asked in the National Assembly that why we adopting double standard on the issue.
During the session, State Minister Saira Afzal Tarar said the YouTube was banned during the PPP’s era, and that the government also wanted to re-open YouTube but in the light of court’s directives.
She stressed all the political parties to solve the issue with the consultation.
It is pertinent to mention here that the video sharing website was banned in Pakistan in September 2012.

BCCI suspends Rajasthan Cricket Association after it elects Lalit Modi as its president

Hours after Lalit Modi was on Tuesday formally elected as the president of the Rajasthan Cricket association, the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) suspended the state body indefinitely to form an ad hoc body.

Earlier, the votes, concealed in a sealed envelope, were opened under court observation, according to a Supreme court order last week. Modi’s election as the RCA president is not going to be a cake-walk because the BCCI and RCA chief Kishore Rungta are strictly opposed to his return.
It must be said that the BCCI has already conceded defeat in the Supreme Court, but the board, being an autonomous body, can challenge the controversial Rajasthan Sports Act that allowed him to contest for the post for the second time.
Modi predictably swept the polls, winning by an emphatic 24-5 margin after the Supreme Court cleared the decks for the announcement of the election results, more than four months after the acrimonious polls.
The result was announced by court-appointed observer Justice (retd) N M Kasliwal here today. The announcement of results is expected to trigger another round of legal tussle between Modi and the BCCI, which has made it clear that it would not accept the verdict.
Out of a total 33 votes, Modi’s opponent Rampal Sharma earned just five.
Within a couple of hours of the declaration of RCA poll results, the BCCI indefinitely suspended the RCA and decided to form an ad-hoc committee to run the affairs of the affiliated unit.
“As per Order dated 30/4/2014 the Hon’ble Supreme Court had directed that if it is found by BCCI that any person has acted against its rules, regulations or law, which is to be enforced by it, it would be open to it to take action against such a person,” BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel said in a statement.
“In pursuance of the order, under authority vested in him as per Regulation  32 (vii) of the Rules and Regulations of BCCI, Mr. Shivlal Yadav, Interim President, BCCI, has suspended the Rajasthan Cricket Association from the membership of the BCCI, pending disciplinary proceedings against it on charges of misconduct,” he added.
“Keeping in mind the interests of the sport of cricket and in order to safeguard the best interests and welfare of the cricketers playing the game in different age-groups and their future, an ad-hoc committee will be constituted shortly by the BCCI,” the statement read.
The RCA, on its part, vowed to challenge the suspension in court.
“We are mulling over the situation and would appeal in the High Court,” said Mehmood Abdi, the newly-elected vice-President and Modi’s lawyer.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Narendra Modi terms AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal as ‘agent of Pakistan’

Hiranagar: The head of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi has termed Arvind Kejriwal, head of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as agent of Pakistan.

Addressing a rally at Hiranagar near Jammu, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate attacked his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) opponent for “spawning” a party which has already handed over Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan.
Modi included Kejriwal among the “3 AKs” in Pakistan’s possession, the other two being AK-47 and Defence Minister AK Antony. 
 “The third AK is AK 49 as he only served 49 days as Chief Minister Delhi.This is the first time that the BJP’s putative prime minister has openly targeted the AAP leader, indicating a reappraisal of his assessment from the challenge posed by the rookie party.
In November, in a public meeting held in Seemapuri in the capital, Modi had launched a veiled criticism of Kejriwal, cautioning the voters against those who had “backstabbed” Anna Hazare.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Supreme Court recommends that Srinivasan step down

The Supreme Court of India has asked BCCI president N Srinivasan to step down as the first move towards a fair investigation of the IPL corruption saga. A two-judge bench of India's top court, which made the observation, gave Srinivasan two days to take a decision before it resumes hearing the case on March 27.
While the recommendation is not a direct order, Justice AK Patnaik was unambiguous: "Mr Srinivasan should step down or else we'll be forced to pass an order." He questioned Srinivasan's position as BCCI president asking, "How did he stay on despite all the allegations? His staying on is nauseating for cricket." The other judge on the bench, Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla, told the counsel: "If there has to be a fair and dispassionate enquiry, Mr. Srinivasan must step down."
The development - and the strong language used by the court - is believed to have caught the BCCI by surprise and thrown it into some disarray. While Srinivasan has refused to comment, three vice-presidents of the board have said there was no option but for him to comply with the court's orders. A board meeting is likely to be convened on Wednesday, at which the BCCI's response will be formalised.
The hearing, the first case of the day to be taken up in Supreme Court's Court No. 5, began with the BCCI lawyers stating that the Board agreed with the findings of the Mudgal panel report and asking the court to allow the BCCI to take its own actions in the light of panel recommendations. That was turned down by the court.
A PTI report said that the court stated that while it could not divulge details of the sealed envelope given to them by the Mudgal panel, the BCCI's lawyers were shown certain portions of the report. When the counsel, CA Sundaram, said "We have not seen the contents of the report in the sealed cover", Justice Patnaik is believed to have summoned him to the bench and had him read a portion of the sealed envelope report.
Justice Patnaik said: "Though there is no definite finding in the report in the sealed cover, the allegations are so serious they require further investigation, which the BCCI can't do on its own and it has to be done by an outside agency. That's why we are saying that Mr. Srinivasan must step down for a fair probe....In view of this, I need some answers, come back with an answer."
In his early statements, Justice Patnaik questioned the wide divergence in the findings of the investigations conducted by the BCCI-appointed two-man probe panel and the Mudgal Committee panel. He wanted to know if the BCCI-appointed panel had been "managed." The BCCI counsel's reply was that the two-man BCCI panel did not have the "wherewithal" of the Mudgal panel, that the Mumbai and Delhi police investigations were under way and that the Mumbai police had refused to depose before their panel.
Srinivasan would not comment on the issue saying he had not "read" the court's recommendations. However Ravi Savant, a BCCI vice-president, said if the Supreme Court had issued a clear directive it would have to be followed. His words were echoed by Shivlal Yadav, who said he would be willing to take up any task he is given.
Another BCCI vice-president said no one was prepared for this scenario. "No one knows what can be done now. The court is yet to pass the order. But it is now up to him (Srinivasan). The court has asked him to step down. Otherwise it will pass an order. It is not good for the BCCI," the official said.
"We know what has happened to Subrata Roy [the Sahara chief]," the official said. "He defied the court's order and look where he is now."
The Supreme Court had appointed a three-member committee, headed by former High Court judge Mukul Mudgal and comprising additional solicitor general L Nageswara Rao and Assam Cricket Association member Nilay Dutta, in October 2013 to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations of corruption against Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, Super Kings owner India Cements, and Rajasthan Royals team owner Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Ltd, as well as with the larger mandate of allegations around betting and spot-fixing in IPL matches and the involvement of players. The committee had submitted its findings to the court on February 10.

Bangladeshis banned from flying rivals' flags

The Bangladeshi hosts of cricket's World Twenty20 threatened to ban local supporters on Tuesday from stadiums if they are seen carrying the flags of any of the other teams competing in the tournament.

The order came after an outcry over images of locals waving Pakistani flags during the recently concluded Asia Cup, also held in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh was part of Pakistan before the 1971 war of independence in which it says three million people were killed – most at the hands of the army of the Islamic republic and its allied militias.
A Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) spokesman said the board had issued a directive after it "noticed that some local fans were flying foreign flags flouting the country's flag rules".

"We've received instruction in this regard," the spokesman told AFP, without clarifying.
"As such we've ordered security officials and guards to make sure Bangladesh fans cannot carry or fly flags of foreign nations in the stadiums."

The BCB order came on the eve of Bangladesh's 44th Independence Day celebrations, marking the day when the nation went to war against Pakistan.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Pakistan hold on in high-voltage game

If ever proof was needed that Pakistan are world cricket's most mercurial side, take this match as exhibit A. Bilawal Bhatti's first over cost 30 runs, Pakistan dropped two catches in three balls, they conceded an 18-ball half-century to Glenn Maxwell and in their own innings stumbled to 25 for 2 in their fifth over. Oh, and they won. Comfortably, in the end. So relaxed was Mohammad Hafeez by the end that he trusted Bhatti with the final over, with Australia needing 23. They managed six.
This really was a split personality of a game. The fielding from both sides was poor, as was some of the bowling. But the striking from Umar Akmal and Maxwell was breathtaking, and a couple of wonderful overs from two of Pakistan's spinners, Zulfiqar Babar and Saeed Ajmal, meant more than Bhatti's dirty 30-run over. Perhaps the most important feature of the match was the lopsided nature of Australia's scorecard; nobody but Maxwell and Aaron Finch reached double figures.
And yet while they were at the crease together, Australia rocketed into favouritism. Chasing 192, they had come together at 8 for 2 at the end of the first over, after Babar's quicker ball rattled David Warner's stumps and his turner caught the edge of Shane Watson's bat on the way through to Kamran Akmal. But from there, Maxwell and Finch lifted Australia to 126 for 2 in the 12th over, a position from which they could have and should have won.
Had Maxwell stayed there they would have. As he struck six after six with conventional strokeplay, it was hard to work out why he had tried to reverse-sweep Hafeez from the first ball of his innings. Nerves, perhaps. But when he stood still and played the ball on its merits, he was almost impossible to stop. He clubbed Hafeez over midwicket and square leg for two sixes in an over and struck another as Shahid Afridi leaked 15 in his first over.
Afridi seemed Scrooge-like compared to Bhatti, who was thumped for two consecutive sixes that brought Maxwell his half-century, the equal fastest in a T20 international by an Australia player. The record was set by David Warner, who struck an 18-ball fifty against West Indies in 2009-10 at the SCG, where the Arizona Diamondbacks and the LA Dodgers are playing Major League Baseball this week. Some of Maxwell's strikes belonged there.
He was put down on 70 by Ajmal in the deep - two balls earlier Kamran had failed to glove Finch's edge behind off Ajmal's doosra - but on 74 Maxwell fell when he picked out deep midwicket off the bowling of Afridi. And magically, the runs dried up. The rest of the Australians struggled to force the pace against Pakistan's spin; George Bailey was bowled by Afridi for 4 off nine balls and after Brad Hodge was well caught in the deep by Ajmal off Umar Gul, Ajmal got rid of the other main danger, Finch.
Australia needed 31 off the final three overs when Ajmal was given his last over, and it was a brilliant one. Finch, settled but still a little scratchy, was bowled by an Ajmal straight ball for 65 off 54 balls, and the over brought one run and one wicket. And, more or less, one Pakistan victory. Because 30 off two overs was too much for Australia's lower order; Gul and Bhatti picked up wickets and there was a run out, and Australia were bowled out from the last ball for 175.
It meant that Umar Akmal's batting had not been in vain. That Pakistan reached 191 for 5 was a remarkable effort given that they were struggling at 25 for 2 in the fifth over. But the Akmal brothers combined to give Bailey a headache for the next three quarters of an hour.
They scored at 11.29 during their 96-run partnership and although Kamran has an excellent record against Australia it was Umar who really did the damage this time. Powerful through and over midwicket, especially during an 18-run over from part-time spinner Finch, who was twice dispatched dismissively over deep midwicket, Umar was also able to rocket the ball down the ground straight back past the bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Kamran struck four fours during his run-a-ball 31 but the partnership ended when he tried to lift a cut over deep point off Coulter-Nile but was well taken by Warner running around on the boundary. Coulter-Nile picked up a second wicket when he yorked Sohaib Maqsood for 5, but Umar remained at the crease and seemed destined to become the first Pakistan batsman to reach a century in a Twenty20 international.
That was not to be. In the final over of the innings, on 94 from 53 balls, he tried to clear the long-on boundary off Mitchell Starc and was caught in the deep by Maxwell. A quick unbeaten 20 from Afridi helped Pakistan to 191 for 5, but the Australians were left wondering what could have been had they been a little less sloppy in the field.
Umar had been dropped on 22 when he lifted Coulter-Nile to deep square leg and Brad Hogg put down a catch that was coming to him at pace, but should have been taken comfortably. Afridi was also put down by Hodge at point and Kamran was grassed by Doug Bollinger at short fine leg, although the umpire called a no-ball against the bowler Shane Watson in any case.
Bollinger's first international for two and a half years had started more promisingly - he struck in the second over of the match when Ahmed Shehzad top-edged a pull and was caught by Bollinger himself. When Hafeez played on off Watson in the fifth over, Australia could dream of a small chase. In their dreams.