Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Political updates: BJP to ride on anti-incumbency in Assam

In the first phase, Assam saw a high voter turnout with 82.2%

New Delhi: With just one phase of polling left in Assam, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is using the anti-incumbency factor against Tarun Gogoi and the message of development to give a fight to the Congress. In the first phase, Assam saw a high voter turnout with 82.2%. Separately, in a cabinet decision, the Central government signed off on the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission allowing states committing to greater fiscal discipline to borrow from the markets.

Assam elections: Will BJP pull off an upset?

The BJP which is trying to make inroads in Assam is using the anti-incumbency factor against the 15-year-old Tarun Gogoi government along with the message of development. The second and last phase of polling in the state will be held on 11 April. The youth is the key voter base in the state, driven by aspirations of jobs, power and roads. Read the ground report here.

Assam recorded one of the highest-ever turnout in the first phase of polling for the state assembly elections on Monday at 82.2%, according to the state chief electoral officer’s website. Election officials are not calling it a record turnout because of the lack of comparative data for previous years. Elections were held for 65 constituencies in the initial phase.

Fiscal rules relaxed for some states

States committing to greater fiscal discipline have been accorded more freedom to borrow from the markets. Formally signing off on the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, the Union cabinet on Wednesday allowed conforming states to relax the existing cap on fiscal deficit of 3% of gross state domestic product by half a percentage point. In 2014-15, the combined borrowing of state governments was 2.4 trillion. Read more

India’s potable water crisis is set to worsen

The acute water shortage in several parts of India has moved on, after denuding farmland and sparking a drinking water crisis, to threatening the much-loved game of cricket. The Bombay high court on Wednesday heard a public interest litigation questioning whether Indian Premier League (IPL) matches should be held in Mumbai at a time when the state is going through a prolonged period of drought for the second year in a row. Read more

3,679 crore National Hydrology Project gets cabinet clearance

The cabinet on Wednesday cleared the 3,679-crore National Hydrology Project that aims to collect hydro-metrological data across India and use it for efficient water management in the country. The scheme will help address the water crisis in the country. The project will inform the public about how much water is available and assist farmers in planning their crops and other farm-related activities. Data would be collected using various information systems and technologies, including remote sensing. It will also help develop a real-time flood forecasting model so that it does not result in sudden opening of gates which inundates the downstream area.

Assembly elections prompt Kerala parties to decide stance on liquor ban

If voters in Kerala bring back the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) for a second time, the ongoing alcohol ban in almost all bars will continue, according to a Congress leader who attended a meeting to finalise the election manifesto of the UDF on Wednesday. The alternative, the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), will promise to curb alcohol consumption in a phased manner, instead of a total prohibition, according to a CPM leader who attended a similar meeting of the LDF on Tuesday. Read more

NIT Srinagar: HRD team meets agitating students, CRPF deployed

Tension prevailed at National Institute of Technology (NIT) campus in Srinagar with outstation students on Wednesday making a slew of demands, including shifting the institute out of Kashmir and action against the policemen involved in lathicharge on Tuesday, as a Human Resources Development (HRD) team rushed to Srinagar from Delhi to resolve the crisis being witnessed since the last six days. The developments at the prestigious engineering institute also triggered politicking even as the state government assured that safety will be ensured for the students hailing from other states at the campus where CRPF has been deployed to instill a sense of security. Read more

Odd even: Women drivers to be exempted again

Ahead of the second phase of the odd-even driving restriction scheme, the Delhi government on Wednesday said that women drivers and cars carrying children in school uniform will be exempted from the scheme but the 2,000 fine will continue to apply. The government is implementing the scheme for the second time between 15 and 30 April to control pollution and growing traffic congestion in the capital. These decisions were taken in a meeting between Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, other ministers and members of the scheme’s coordination committee.

Stand Up India is NDA’s outreach to socially disenfranchised

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Stand Up India scheme, in a bid to expand the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s outreach to the socially disenfranchised sections of the society, including Dalits, women and tribals, analysts welcomed the step, but added an enabling environment beyond financial assistance needs to be put in place to implement it. Read more

Kamla Advani, wife of L.K. Advani, dies

Kamla Advani, the wife of BJP veteran L.K. Advani, died on Wednesday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) due to heart failure. Kamla Advani, 83, had been suffering from age-related problems for some time and was on wheelchair for the last few months.

Rahul Gandhi backs jewellers, says govt strangulating small businesses

After Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi backed protesting jewellers and called the 1% excise duty on non-silver jewellery items as an “assassination attempt" on traders by the BJP government and alleged it was being done to benefit big industrialists.

HCU professor resigns seeking removal of VC, students held

Tension prevailed near the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on Wednesday after scores of students belonging to different organisations held protests demanding the arrest of the vice-chancellor and tried to forcibly enter the varsity even as police took them into preventive custody. In another development, controller of examination professor V. Krishna, expressing solidarity with the protesting students against Rao’s removal, resigned from the post and walked out of the Academic Council Meeting going on in the varsity. Read more

HC seeks response from ED over attachment of Virbhadra Singh’s properties

The Delhi high court on Wednesday sought the response of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over the provisional attachment of properties of Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, accused in a case of money laundering and disproportionate assets. Read more