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New Delhi: Last week saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) celebrate its second anniversary across the country- overall it has been an eventful period of policy change and fierce political exchanges amid global economic turmoil. While the BJP created history by winning a mandate in the just concluded elections in Assam, the forecast of an above normal monsoon by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has boosted economic sentiments. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory in Assam became concrete on Tuesday when Sarbananda Sonowalwas sworn in as the party’s first chief minister in the state. Sonowal’s swearing-in followed a similarly spectacular history made in Tamil Nadu by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief J. Jayalalithaa who took oath as the state’s chief minister on Monday. It was for the first time in three decades that the state voted the incumbent government back to power. Wednesday saw Pinarayi Vijayan take oath to become the next chief minister of Kerala, after engineering its revival in the Kerala assembly elections, winning 90 of the 140 seats and unseating Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF). The last chief minister to take oath was Mamata Banerjee, who was sworn in as West Bengal’s chief minister on Friday for the second consecutive time. The ceremony, which was , attended by regional political heavyweights such as National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), chief Nitish Kumar, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, raised hopes of a possible non-Congress and non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance across the country, which would play a decisive role not just in regional politics but a crucial role in the floor management in Parliament.

After scripting history in Asaam, PM Modi’s focus shifted to Uttar Pradesh where assembly elections are due next year. On the occasion of the second anniversary of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on Thursday, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his government’s pro-poor and pro-farmer ideology in a rally in Uttar Pradesh, he also virtually launched the ruling coalition’s campaign for the state assembly election in 2017. It was Modi’s fourth visit to Uttar Pradesh in 50 days, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 71 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.

Modi govt at 2: What’s there to like, and dislike

Narendra Modi remains a popular prime minister with an approval rating of 74%, and despite what a certain section of the polity and the liberal intelligentsia wants to believe about Nitish Kumar, there is no alternative—at least, none that is evident. So, what’s there to like about this government and this Prime Minister? Mint’s editor R. Sukumar writes.

PM Modi’s approval rating remains high 2 years into term: poll

Two years into his term as prime minister, Narendra Modi’s approval rating remains high at 74%, a poll by instaVaani has found. This is based on a survey of 10,897 respondents across the country, who were polled using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. While the approval rating of the government is also high, it remains lower than the prime minister’s approval rating—an artefact that has remained constant over the last few surveys:Read more

Narendra Modi kicks off Uttar Pradesh poll campaign

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday flaunted the pro-poor and pro-farmer credentials of his two-year-old government in a speech that virtually launched the ruling coalition’s campaign for the Uttar Pradesh assembly election next year.

The location Modi picked to make his second anniversary speech was Saharanpur in India’s most populous state, where BJP won 71 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. It was Modi’s fourth visit to Uttar Pradesh in 50 days. Read more

After swearing-in as CM, Jayalalithaa shuts 500 liquor stores in Tamil Nadu

AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the second consecutive term on Monday and started off with measures to curb the consumption of liquor in the state. Immediately after taking oath on Monday, Amma, as she is popularly known, signed off on a few key populist measures. For instance, she ordered the closure of 500 state-run liquor outlets and cut the working hours of existing outlets by two hours. The remaining state-run liquor shops will now open at noon, versus 10am before. She also waived crop loans of small farmers and ordered 100 units of free power for all households. She also signed off on eight grams of gold for women from poor families who are about to be married and said primary school children will now get free breakfast along with the existing noon meal scheme. Read more

Pinarayi takes Oath today: LDF austerity drive—ministers’ houses won’t be refurbished

On the eve of swearing-in, the LDF on Tuesday decided to implement some austerity measures in Kerala. It has decided that the official residences of the ministers will not be refurbished. Moreover, the size of the ministers’ personal staff will be reduced from 30 to 25.

Further, there won’t be live webstreaming of the chief minister’s office and chamber, which outgoing chief minister Oommen Chandy had started.

CM-designate Pinarayi Vijayan, meanwhile, said that his government will act strongly against corruption in the state. Read more

Sarbananda Sonowal takes charge as Assam’s first BJP chief minister

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) etched its name in the electoral history of Assam on Tuesday when Sarbananda Sonowal took the oath of office as the first BJP chief minister of the state. Ten other ministers were also sworn in at a ceremony following elections that gave Assam its first majority government of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Read more

Mamata Banerjee’s swearing-in ceremony

Mamata Banerjee took oath as chief minister for the second time along with 41 ministers on Friday. The swearing-in ceremony was attended by National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, thus raising hopes of a non-BJP, non-Congress front. Read more

NEET ordinance gets its first challenge in court

Health activist Anand Rai, known for exposing the Vyapam scam, an admission and recruitment scandal in Madhya Pradesh, on Thursday filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Centre’s decision to promulgate the ordinance. President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday signed an ordinance to keep states out of the ambit of a uniform medical entrance examination NEET for this year. Earlier this month, the apex court refused to exempt state government medical colleges from NEET this year. The ordinance, cleared by the Union Cabinet last Friday, is aimed at “partially" overturning a Supreme Court verdict that said all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET. Read more

High court stays Jat reservation, Haryana fears fresh stir

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday stayed reservation for the Jat community, reviving a politically divisive issue for the BJP government in Haryana.

The law was challenged by petitioner Murari Lal Gupta through a public interest litigation (PIL). A two-judge bench of justices S.S. Saron and Gurmit Ram issued notices to the Haryana government to respond by 21 July.

The Jat community had threatened to re-launch the protest if the assembly failed to pass the bill before the last day of the budget session on 31 March. Read more

Stalin appointed as the leader of opposition in Tamil Nadu

M.K. Stalin, treasurer of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and son of party patriarch M. Karunanidhi, was on Tuesday elected leader of the DMK legislative party, a day after AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa assumed office as chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

Stalin will also be the leader of the opposition as the DMK is the single largest opposition party with 89 members, including Stalin and Karunanidhi, in the 234-member house. The AIADMK won 134 seats in the 16 May assembly election. Read more

Modi, Jaitley pitch for Kerala’s support for GST in meeting with Pinarayi Vijayan

The Centre on Saturday sought the support of the new communist party led government in Kerala for the passage of the goods and services tax bill.

Just days after taking over, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley and other Union ministers in his first visit to the national capital. Read more

Rajya Sabha elections: Congress nominates P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal

Former Union finance minister and veteran Congress leader P. Chidambaram has become the party’s nominee to Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra. Party president Sonia Gandhi nominated seven other leaders to the Upper House on Saturday, including former telecom minister Kapil Sibal from Uttar Pradesh and former rural development minister Jairam Ramesh from Karnataka. Read more

Panel on new education policy suggests doing away with no-fail rule

A government panel has recommended the creation of an education service cadre along the lines of the Indian Administrative Service and suggested partially doing away with the no-detention policy in school.

The education service cadre suggestion was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March during a review of the working of the human resources development (HRD) ministry. Read more

Regional parties spend more than they collect

Regional parties across India spent more than the total funds collected by them in 71 assembly and three Lok Sabha elections over the past 11 years, according to a report released on Monday by think-tank Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). While Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) spent Rs.24.79 crore despite a collection of Rs.8.86 crore, K. Karunanidhi-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) spent Rs.15.17 crore on a collection of onlyRs.5.97 crore in the state assembly elections. Read more to find out the funds and expenditure of different regional parties. ‘Read more

PM Narendra Modi wraps up two-day visit to Iran

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday wrapped up his two-day visit to Iran during which the two countries signed 12 agreements, including a “milestone" pact on developing the strategic Chabahar port and pledged to combat terrorism and radicalism. “Khuda Hafez Tehran! A busy day of diplomacy ends as PM @narendramodi emplanes for Delhi," ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted. Read more

13 cities included in Phase 1 of Smart Cities Mission

Thirteen cities, including Lucknow, Warangal, Bhagalpur, Raipur and New Town Kolkata, have been included in the first phase of the government’s smart cities mission that had already selected 20 urban centres in January.

The other cities that have been selected in the latest round are Port Blair, Imphal, Ranchi, Panaji, Agartala, Faridabad, Chandigarh and Dharamsala. Read more

Loyalty test: Congress MLAs in Bengal asked to sign affidavit in support of Sonia, Rahul

Struggling to keep its flock together in many states, the Congress has now asked all the newly elected lawmakers in West Bengal to sign a bond of allegiance that will stop them from defecting to other parties, especially the Trinamool Congress. According to Congress insiders, all the recently elected 44 party MLAs were made to sign a bond at a closed-door meet presided by Bengal state party committee chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Read more

BJP nominates Piyush Goyal from Maharashtra for Rajya Sabha election

The BJP has nominated Union power minister Piyush Goyal as its candidate from Maharashtra for the Rajya Sabha (RS) election slated on 11 June. Goyal filed his nomination for the RS polls at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Tuesday evening. In Maharashtra, six RS seats are up for grabs. Read more

Government releases draft model rules for Juvenile Justice Act

Based on the philosophy of reformation, rehabilitation and social integration, rather than retribution, the rules of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, released on Wednesday, lay procedures for the functioning and composition of juvenile justice boards, adoption, determining the age of the child wherever a claim of juvenility is raised, and offences against children, among other things.Read more

HRD ministry sets new rules for award of MPhil, PhD degrees

The human resource development (HRD) ministry has set new rules for award of research degrees such as MPhil and PhD at Indian universities. The HRD ministry has also relaxed several rules for women candidates, including allowing a 240-day maternity break from their studies. The new rules are aimed at putting in place a “proper system" for doctoral studies and streamline their administration, duration and quality, said higher education secretary V.S. Oberoi. The rules are also intended to allow women greater flexibility in pursuing research.Read more

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