Towing agency hired at insistence of CM’s ex-secy: Nirupam

Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam today alleged that the agency awarded the contract to tow vehicles has been hired at the insistence of a former secretary to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

However, rubbishing Nirupam’s claims, a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office said neither the CMO nor Pravin Darade (CM’s former secretary) have anything to do with the towing contract awarded to Vidarbha Infotech Pvt Ltd.

Darade, an IAS officer, is currently the commissioner of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

“Vidarbha Infotech is connected to the CM’s office and one particular individual by the name of Pravin Darade. In this entire nexus, it is Darade, who is close to the CM and is instrumental in using his influence and allotting projects out of turn to Vidarbha Infotech,” Nirupam told reporters here.

He alleged that the agency was hired at the insistence of Darade.

The Congress leader said the company is a software firm and has no experience in towing vehicles.

“Vidarbha Infotech has no expertise in towing. Nine lakh registered four wheelers and 17 lakh bikers in the city are being harassed by traffic police and being made to pay higher towing fine and a bulk of that money is going to Vidarbha Infotech,” he said.

“It was announced that the tender was open only for the firms whose turnover exceeded Rs 50 crore, putting 1,000-1,200 youngsters from smaller agencies, which are regularly hired otherwise, out of jobs,” the Congress leader said.

Claiming that Darade is the chief promoter of the firm, Nirupam demanded an inquiry into the awarding of contract to the agency.

Nirupam also alleged that Vidarbha Infotech’s control room is set up on a 1,000 sq ft land which has been allotted to them free of cost for reasons unknown.

However, countering Nirupam’s claims, the CMO stated that the allegations against it and Darade were baseless.

“The process of awarding contract was done at the level of traffic police. For this, KPMG was appointed as a consultant. This agency suggested the use of ultra modern hydraulic cranes for towing operations and based on this suggestion, traffic police called for tenders,” the statement said.

It added that the Maharashtra Towing Association and other contractors have moved the high court over this contract and the government had also called for a report from Mumbai police.

The report is with the government and will be placed before the high court, the statement said.

Bigg Boss 11: Arshi Khan’s Parents Reveal All Truths About Her Grandfather And More

We all know that one person who always blows things out of proportion. And those in the house of Bigg Boss 11 know what we’re talking about. When you say your grandfather had 18 wives and came from Afghanistan when in reality he only married twice and came from Bhopal, you know you are that person. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, we are talking about Arshi Khan. The major headliner of the show had recently admitted the above in the house, and her family is displeased at the wrongful comments.

Talking about it to Dainik Bhaskar, Arshi’s father Armaan Khan claimed that what Arshi said is false and that her father (Arshi’s grandfather) passed away in 1945 when he was just 4 years old. He also said that his father married only twice (not 18 times) and he rarely spoke to Arshi about her father. Armaan said that his father, Mohammad Suleman Khan was a jailer at Bhopal’s Central Jail in the pre-Independence era. Her mother was also displeased at this, saying that it was unfair to drag in the family’s name for publicity and also remarked that her daughter is close to 32 and not 27 as she claims on the show.

Her mom also revealed that Arshi got herself enrolled in Bhopal’s Mayo Medical College where her year of birth is mentioned 1987. Her parents said they were not from Afghanistan as Arshi claims, but they belong to Jahangirabad, Bhopal. Now that we’ve read this up, does this mean that we know about Arshi Khan better than she knows herself?


‘With ferries Goa can be modelled after Venice’

Goa has the potential to become the Venice of the East if it taps its intricate network of inland waterways for commuting, suggests Rajiv Somani, chairman and managing director of Drishti Marine, promoter of the state’s first private ferry service.

Somani, whose agency also operates a private lifeguard service along Goa’s coastline, said that the ferry service also adds to the range of offerings, in terms of “things to do” in Goa.

“The only model really close to this is the one in Venice where one can travel through waterways all the time,” Somani told IANS in an interview.

“The ferry service is more of a leisure experience. The picturesque ferry service adds to the range of offerings in terms of things to do in Goa for the hundreds and thousands of tourists who visit the state. Additionally, it also acts as a premium transit service for tourists and local residents.

“We are only targeting less than five percent of the population arriving at the airport. We understand that there are people willing to pay the fee for the trip,” he said, adding that the service would begin later this month, when the tourism season begins to peak in the coastal state.

The daily ferry service will function with the help of two 40-seater, high-speed catamarans, which will ferry commuters between designated pick-up points like the state capital Panaji, heritage centres like Old Goa, beaches like Baga, Aguada and Sinquerim and the Dabolim airport.

The Airport Ferry Terminal is located at Baina beach, Vasco da Gama, and is approximately five kilometres from the Goa airport in Dabolim. A free shuttle service will be available between the ferry terminal and the airport for the convenience of passengers arriving at the airport.

Fares for the ferry service range from Rs 100 for a ride between Old Goa and Panaji to Rs 800 for a trip between the Airport Ferry Terminal (AFT) at Baina and Panaji.

The ferry will operate from 22 temporary jetties spread across the state, including tourism vantage points.

“In Phase 1 and 2 we are looking at a mix of about 22 jetties. Of these, 11 are existing jetties and 11 will be floating jetties which will be constructed by us. The present government jetties exist at Panaji, Old Goa, Chapora and Sinquerim, among other places,” he said.

Asked if the service would be competing with the state’s aggressive taxi lobby, which has been combative vis-a-vis introduction of alternative modes of mass transport, Somani said: “We are not competing with the taxi operators. One thing we were always clear about: We will not do anything which is competition to the local community”.

Somani also said that ferry services had immense potential in Goa, which is criss-crossed with waterways.

“Goa has an excellent network of waterways; what’s needed is the right kind of infrastructure. One doesn’t need to erect concrete jetties everywhere; a floating jetty like the one we are currently building in Baina works just as effectively,” he said, adding that the ferry would help better water-related experiences for visitors.


‘CM misleading Goa about river nationalisation’

PANAJI: Stating that chief minister Manohar Parrikar was misleading Goans on the river nationalization issue by playing with the words used in the National Waterways Act 2016, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Shantaram Naik on Monday said Section 3 of the Act specifies that the Union government would take over “control of waterways for the purposes of shipping and navigation.”

Parrikar had recently said that Goa’s rivers have been given national importance, but their control would remain with the state government, a statement Naik called “shocking.”

“Section 14 empowers the Inland Waterways Authority (IWAI) to take control of the land next to rivers. The law allows IWAI to remove or alter any structure in the national waterways and the appurtenant land,” Naik said.

Naik also wondered why the state had not conducted a social impact assessment prior to the Centre’s move to notify the six rivers as national waterways. “No clearances from the coastal authority or under the Environment Protection Act, 1985, were acquired. I challenge the chief minister to publish the clearances,” Naik said.

Naik said that the Congress would support any move to grant voting rights to non-resident Indians, but added that NRIs should also be able to apply for Aadhaar cards. “Since the Centre is contemplating introducing a bill to the amend the Representation of People’s Act, giving Aadhaar card to Indian citizens temporarily staying abroad, is comparatively a minor matter,” Naik said.


Bigg Boss 11: Arshi Khan threatens to throw her shoes at Priyank Sharma after he slut-shames her in a task!

The nomination process for this week in Bigg Boss 11 is over and now it’s time for the luxury budget task. This time, the Bigg Boss house has been converted into a courtroom, and the task is called BB Court where Hina Khan and Vikas Gupta will be seen enacting lawyers. Sapna Choudhary and Bandagi Kalra will be seen presiding as the judges.

The case that is being fought is that of the divorce between Hiten Tejwani and Arshi Khan. During the course of the case, Hina accuses Arshi of flirting with others and says that it bothers her brother Hiten a lot, hence he seeks a divorce.

As a witness, Hina calls Priyank in the witness box and asks him to narrate what happened in the gym in detail. On this, Priyank reveals that Arshi does her exercises in the gym in a very provocative manner and ends up commenting on the time when she tore her clothes. Priyank and Hina’s accusations leave Arshi infuriated and she lashes out at them. Arshi says that she’ll tear her clothes because they belong to her and nobody’s father bought them for her. A huge fight follows during which Arshi even threatens Priyank of throwing her shoes at him and kicking him if he comes anywhere near her.

Meanwhile, Vikas tries to stop them from fighting and to calm them down. The other housemates simply seem to enjoy the show except Shilpa who can be seen trying to calm Arshi down.

Egg prices jump by up to 40% in 1 month, broiler chicken cheaper by 25%

In the last one month, egg prices in the country recorded a huge jump, soaring as much as 40 per cent while the prices of broiler chicken eased 25 per cent during the same time on account of ‘added inventory’.

In Pune, the wholesale rate of 100 eggs moved up from Rs 380 on October 12 to Rs 530 on November 12. The retail price of eggs in Pune was over Rs 6 apiece. In Delhi, the wholesale egg prices went up from Rs 375 to Rs 525 (for 100 pieces) during the same period, data aggregated by online agency Poultry Bazaar said.

While the egg prices have gone up significantly, the price of broiler chicken has dipped owing to added supply from the poultry farms. According to Poultry Bazaar, the price of 1 Kg broiler chicken in the wholesale market came down from Rs 120 on October 28 to Rs 90 on November 12. The average wholesale rate of 1 Kg broiler chicken in Punjab is Rs 132 around this time of the year.

Every year, egg prices witness a rise due to increase in demand during the winters. However, this year prices have moved up remarkably.  “When vegetables turn costly, people switch to eggs, pushing up its rates as well. This is simple substitution effect,” Raju Bhosale, executive member of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) told The Indian Express.

This year, the spike in egg prices is largely being attributed to the rise in prices of vegetables such as beans, cauliflower, cabbage, brinjal, etc.

Hit by tight supply, egg prices have jumped to Rs 7-7.50 apiece in retail markets in most parts of the country, Poultry Federation of India President Ramesh Katri told PTI.

The upward trend would continue in coming months as egg production is likely to be lower by 25-30 per cent this year, Katri said.

“Egg prices have increased significantly as many poultry farms have reduced production for the current year because they did not get better rates last year,” Katri added.

Retail inflation, which touched a seven-month high in October, is expected to rise further and cross the 4 per cent mark this month, driven by rise in vegetable and oil prices. According to global financial services majors like Nomura, BofAML and Morgan Stanley, price pressures are likely to build further in the coming months following a cyclical recovery in the economy and rise in vegetable and oil prices.

“We expect CPI inflation to rise above 4 per cent in November and stay above the RBI’s target of 4 per cent through 2018,” Nomura said in a research note.

Inflation based on the monthly Wholesale Price Index (WPI) rose to six-month high of 3.59 per cent in October as compared to 2.6 per cent for in September. The retail inflation rose up to seven-month high to 3.58 in October due to the high prices of food items. According to BofAML, November CPI inflation is likely to be around 4.5 per cent.


BJP in hot water as Maharashtra minister caught peeing in open

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra was left red faced on Monday after a video of a senior minister urinating in public went viral, with many raising questions on the government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

A video clip showed Maharashtra Water Conservation Minister Ram Shinde urinating in public on the Solapur-Barshi Road while on an official tour on November 18.

Ironically, the video hit social media on Sunday, which was celebrated as World Toilet Day, causing major embarrassment to the ruling alliance.

However, Shinde defended himself on the grounds that he was unwell and had to relieve himself in the open while he was on a tour to see the implementation of the Jalyukt Shivar, a water conservation programme designed to make the state drought free.

“I was on a tour to check the programme implementation of Jalyukt Shivar and running a temperature. There was no toilet in the vicinity and so I relieved myself in the open,” Shinde said, justifying his action.

However, the opposition parties pounced on the minister, while social media attacked him for his indiscretion in full public view.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the minister’s act showed that the government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was a failure.

“How does the prime minister expect the common people to follow discipline when his own leaders are an undisciplined lot? If the minister could not locate a toilet on the highway, it proves the government has been looting the masses in the name of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan cess on fuel,” Malik said.

Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Preeti Sharma-Menon also castigated the minister for relieving himself in public and asked why the police arrested ‘RightToPee’ activists outside the state chief minister’s home recently.

“They are fighting for your own minister, Ram Shinde, who was relieving himself in public. By the way, will your officers garland and shame him like they do to poor women?” Sharma-Menon asked in a terse tweet.


Gujarat elections: Hardik Patel’s Rajkot rally cancelled, cloud over alliance with Congress

In an indication that all is not well between the Congress and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Patidar leader Hardik Patel cancelled on Monday a rally in Rajkot, where he was expected to make an announcement whether or not his outfit would extend support to the opposition party in the Gujarat assembly elections.

Though the two sides claimed to have reached a deal, the official announcement about the reservation formula and the PAAS’s stand on supporting the Congress was expected to come from Patel at a public gathering in Rajkot on Monday.

But trouble hit both the camps with Patidar supporters vandalising the Congress office in Surat hours after the Congress released its first list for candidates accommodating just three PAAS names. The Congress’ first list of 77 candidates, announced on Sunday, include 20 Patidars.

Out of power for more than two decades, the Congress is aiming to wrest power from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state with the help of caste leaders such as Patel and Jignesh Mevani.

Here are the live updates:

1:15pm: After protests by PAAS leaders against the Congress on Sunday night, Hardik Patel says in a tweet: “Don’t plunge so deep in politics that you forget martyrs. Also remember the promises’”. He, however, did not make it clear who it was addressed to.

1.06pm: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani files nomination for Gujarat assembly elections in the presence of Union minister Arun Jaitley in Rajkot. Rupani is the BJP candidate from Rajkot West constituency.

12.40pm: The BJP has dropped three ministers from Patidar community– Nanu Vanani, Jayanti Kavadiya and Vallabh Vagahsia.

12.25pm: The BJP releases its third list of 28 candidates on Monday. The party drops 15 sitting legislators, including three ministers in the third list. So far, the ruling party has announced nominations for 134 of the 182 seats and dropped 30 MLAs.

12.06pm: Dinesh Bambhania tells media an anonymous caller threatened him they would kidnap his son from the school. Bambhania says he has not registered a police complaint in this regard.

12.03pm: PAAS Mehsana convener Narendra Patel, who earlier had alleged that the BJP offered him Rs 1 crore to switch loyalty, says Dinesh Bambhania has made a secret deal with either the BJP or the NCP.

12.01pm: Hardik Patel’s Gondal rally, some 25 km from Rajkot, has been cancelled. At the end of rally, Hardik was expected to make announcement over the PAAS’s possible alliance with the Congress.

11.40pm: The NCP is reportedly upset with the Congress, which has announced a candidate on Kutiyana assembly constituency currently held by the NCP.

11.35pm: The NCP says it will contest the Gujarat assembly elections on its own and expressed confidence it would bag the maximum number of seats in the “solo fight”.

10.30am: Ashok Gehlot, Congress’ in-charge in Gujarat, condemns violence by PAAS workers. “Hardik Patel and his workers should show patience, issues can be sorted out by talking,” news agency ANI quoted Gehlot as saying.

10.20am: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani accuses PAAS leaders of working as agents of the Congress. “Now, they have been totally exposed,” Rupani tells ANI on clash over ticket distribution.

* The PAAS, which which appears to be playing hardball with the Congress, had demanded around 20 seats. The Alpesh Thakor-led OBC bloc wanted 12 seats. Thakor had joined the Congress recently.


Gujarat election 2017: Chhotubhai Vasava demands his pound of flesh from Congress for saving Ahmed Patel

Bharuch: Cruising on the smooth Mumbai highway from Ahmedabad, one road turns left near the chemical hub Ankleshwar in south Gujarat to suddenly hit the sharp contrast of a bumpy tribal terrain. The road snakes through to Maljipura, and cuts across thin interior roads to enter the sprawling compound of a mansion with several cars of all sizes parked inside.

There, in the backdrop of a mango orchard, under a wide tin-shed sat uncrowned tribal king Chhotu Vasava, the man who pulled Congress veteran Ahmed Patel from the jaws of defeat in the 8 August Rajya Sabha election with his sole vote.

“I am myself the symbol,” he smiled nonchalantly looking up and not at this author, when told that the Janata Dal-United symbol, on which he won the last elections, was in dispute after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s alliance with the BJP.

Well, he is not wrong, for it is the party—whichever it is—that needs Chhotu Vasava, not the other way round. “I have my own party,” he puts his right hand on his chest, “It is the Bharatiya Tribal Party, so the JD(U) symbol does not matter for me.”

He goes on, “In any case, the JD(U) is remote-controlled by Amit Shah. But I don’t care, as my BTP has a mind-boggling eight lakh members together with the Bhilistan Tiger Sena.”

Bhilistan Tiger Sena is an organization run by his son Mahesh Vasava that has been demanding separate statehood for the tribal belt.

So, now that he has become the acting president of the Sharad Yadav-led splinter Janata Dal-United and has also bailed out Ahmed Patel, Vasava wants to call the shots in the projected alliance with the Congress. He wants a lion’s share among the 27 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes, in which the Congress has 16 sitting MLAs, BJP 10 and one JD-U, that is Vasava himself. The seat share was similar in 2007 with Congress having 16, BJP 9 and Vasava one when there were 26 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.

“We have demanded 25 seats. The influence of our Bhilistan Tiger Sena and our Bharatiya Tribal Party spreads across the entire belt of Gujarat. How long will parties run by Baniyas, Brahmins and Kshatriyas dictate the tribals?,” he asserts.

With the director of an upcoming feature film on him and a music composer watching, Vasava says, “In an ideal situation, seats reserved for tribals should be decided by tribals and only tribal parties should be allowed to field candidates there. Here, the people giving the mandate to tribal candidates are all non-adivasis.”

Sources close to Chhotubhai say he feels the Congress has a good chance to win this time and so is flexing his muscles to have a larger share of the cake. He has actually asked for 19 seats and is adamant on nothing less than 15.

It is precisely for this reason that the Congress is in no mood to relent in a hurry. “The tribal belt is our strongest base, while Chhotubhai has an influence over only a limited number of seats. We may give him those seats, but not 19 or even 15,” a senior leader, who is part of the negotiations with Vasava told Firstpost.

“Besides Chhotubhai’s own Jhagadia seat, we can at best leave four to five constituencies for him,” he said.

He is not wrong. Besides Jhagadia, Chhotubhai’s influence is limited to the five odd seats of Mangrol and Mandvi in Surat district, Dediapada and Nandod in Narmada and to some extent in Dahod. And then, despite fielding more than 15 candidates during the 2012 elections, the JD(U) could win only one seat of Vasava.

“A sizeable population of adivasis is a traditional Congress votebank. Through the RSS and the VHP, the BJP is making attempts to make inroads in the tribal belt, but that has met with limited success,” says Ashok Gamit, who is a veteran journalist with the Sandesh Gujarati daily in Vyara, 65 km from Surat. He says if the Congress gives in to Vasava’s demands and concedes more than four seats, it will anger its own ranks and this will prove counterproductive.

Hardik Patel’s Group In Turmoil After Reported Pact With Congress

AHMEDABAD: Hardik Patel’s group seems to have been plunged into turmoil hours after its reported deal with the Congress for the Gujarat elections next month. The fragility of the truce was laid bare when members of Hardik Patel’s PAAS or Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti attacked Congress offices in Surat, alleging that two of their leaders had been included in the list without their consent, sending signals to their base that a deal had been struck when none had.

This morning, the crisis worsened for the group after one of those two candidates, Lalit Vasoya, filed his nomination papers as a Congress candidate despite being told by his leader Dinesh Bhambania not to do so.

Hardik Patel has not commented since yesterday and his rally in Rajkot today stands cancelled.

Yesterday, after an hour-long meeting, the Congress announced a list of 77 candidates for the Gujarat polls featuring 19 members of the community that is campaigning for quotas in government jobs and colleges, including two aides of Hardik Patel.

When angry Patidar activists targeted Congress offices later, a large number of policemen were brought in to protect the Congress headquarters in Ahmedabad and other places in the state.

“Congress announced the names without our permission. We will launch a state-wide agitation against the Congress,” said Dinesh Bhambhani, who is a member of the core committee of the PAAS.

Apart from Lalit Vasoya, the Congress list features Nilesh Patel. The Congress had declared that the two sides have come to a consensus on the reservation formula and a formal announcement of the PAAS backing the Congress will be made by Mr Patel in Rajkot on Monday. The 24-year-old Patidar leader did not attend the meeting.