Photo: AFP  (AFP )
Photo: AFP
(AFP )

Political updates: Assembly elections take centre stage

Voting begins for the third phase of West Bengal assembly elections, when 62 constituencies go to polls

New Delhi: With the second half of the budget session set to begin in less than a week, the Congress party on Wednesday revived hopes of passing the goods and services tax (GST) bill. In other developments, 62 constituencies of the West Bengal state assembly go to polls on Thursday. This phase has constituencies from the politically important districts of Murshidabad, Nadia, Bardhaman and seven constituencies in Kolkata.

Hopes of early passage of GST revive

Prospects of the constitutional amendment bill being passed in the upper House of Parliament to allow the introduction of GST were revived on Wednesday after the Congress officially gave the draft law its support. However, the party caveated its support by reiterating its three demands. The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has signalled its willingness to go along, except for one of the three conditions—writing in an 18% cap into the law. Read more

Voting begins for third phase of West Bengal polls

Polling began for the third and largest phase of the six-phase West Bengal assembly elections on Thursday, when 62 constituencies go to polls. The phase is crucial for the incumbent Trinamool Congress as some of the politically important districts, including seven constituencies in Kolkata, Murshidabad, Nadia and Burdwan, will vote today.

Govt says 33 crore people suffering from drought

About 33 crore people are suffering from drought in India, the government has said, as the country reels under severe water shortages and desperately poor farmers suffer crop losses. One of the government’s senior lawyers P.S. Narasimha told the Supreme Court that a quarter of the country’s population, spread across 10 states, have been hit by drought after two consecutive years of weak monsoons. Read more

UDF promises to make Kerala alcohol-free

Journey towards an alcohol-free society is the main promise of the Congress-led ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) for Kerala’s voters, who will decide their next administrators on 16 May. Continuation of the present liquor ban, along with stricter restrictions, tops the UDF’s election manifesto released on Wednesday.

Narendra Modi’s wax figures installed in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday joined the league of global leaders at Madame Tussauds with three of his wax figures installed in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. In eight days, a fourth will be installed in London, where it will join the statues of US President Barack Obama, British prime minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Francoise Holland, among others. Read more

Modi expected to visit US in June

Prime Minister Modi is expected to visit the US in June, a bipartisan group of top American lawmakers have said while calling on the House of Representatives speaker to invite him to address a joint session of the Congress during his fourth trip to the US in two years.

Cabinet nod to amend afforestation fund bill

The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015, which will facilitate the distribution of around 42,000 crore among all states to encourage them to plant forests. The cabinet also approved the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of Parties held in Paris in December. The signing will take place in New York on 22 April. Read more

Educationist Vasanthi Devi to fight Jayalalithaa

Former Manonmaniam Sundaranar University vice-chancellor Vasanthi Devi will take on Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa from Chennai’s R.K. Nagar constituency for the 16 May assembly election, contesting on a Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) ticket. Thol. Thirumavalavan, founder of VCK, said Devi is a well-known educationist who has fought for women’s issues. M. Karunanidhi-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has already fielded Shimla Muthuchozhan, a political novice, to contest against Jayalalithaa. Read more

Delhi government to set app-based cab fares

The Delhi government on Wednesday decided to introduce a policy under which app-based cab companies will have to charge fares set by the state transport department. The details of the policy are still being worked out, transport minister Gopal Rai said. Read more

NIT Srinagar agrees to many demands of students

The management of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar, will consider formation of a students’ council and all national festivals will be celebrated in the institute, it said a day after outstation students put forth their demands at a meeting in the wake of clashes with local students. Read more

Karnataka govt to file appeal against B.S. Yeddyurappa’s acquittal in graft cases

Spelling fresh trouble for former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa within days of his appointment as state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief, the Congress government in Karnataka has decided to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against his acquittal in corruption cases by the high court. Read more

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