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President's Address on the eve of 68th Republic Day of India

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  • Polling for third phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 69 seats passes off peacefully ; Over 61 per cent voter turnout recorded.
  • Campaigning for 4th phase of UP assembly elections gains momentum; Star campaigners of major political parties address rallies in favour of their candidates; Polling on Thursday.
  • BJP Vision Document released in Imphal stresses on raising a Highway Protection Force for ensuring a blockade free  Manipur.
  • Nagaland Chief Minister T. R. Zeliang announces his decision to quit amid political crisis.
  • India sanctions soft loan of 34 crore US dollars to Nepal for infrastructure development programmes.
  • A US Navy aircraft carrier strike group begins patrols in South China Sea, despite China's warning not to interfere in the area.
  • In CRICKET Indian women's team advances to the finals of ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Colombo after beating Pakistan by 7 wickets.


In Uttar Pradesh, polling for third phase of Assembly elections in 69 seats spread over 12 districts passed off peacefully this evening barring some minor incidents. Briefing reporters in New Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Vijay Dev said, over 61 per cent voter turnout was recorded in this phase till 5 PM. He said, the poll percentage is expected to go upto 63 percent as several voters were in the queue even after 5 pm.


"We also calculated the previous figures specifically for these areas, these assemblies constituencies. In 2012 it was 59.9 percent and 2014 58.4 percent. We expect to reach or even cross probably 63 percent."

Mr Dev said, 38.4 crore rupees in cash and over 2 lakh litres of liquor were seized  by election authorities during this phase. He said, preventive actions were taken against 2.7 lakh troublemakers.

The fate of 826 candidates in this phase has been sealed.

The districts where polling was held today are Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Kannauj, Mainpuri, Etawah, Kanpur, Kanpur  Dehat, Auraiya, Lucknow, Unnao, Sitapur and Barabanki.

Meanwhile, Campaigning for 4th phase of UP assembly elections has gained momentum with star campaigners of major political parties addressing rallies in favour of their candidates.

Senior BJP leader and Prime Minister Narenda Modi today said that development is must in Uttar pradesh. Addressing an election rally in Fatehpur district, Mr Modi said, 14 years of lack of development in the state should end now.


Attacking the Samajwadi-Congress alliance, Mr Modi said, these parties have made the  alliance for their own interests. He said, lack of development and job opportunities in the state compelled people to migrate. He criticsed Samajwadi Party government for expending huge amount on media and publicity and said people are sharp enough to judge the right and wrong for themselves.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav today criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation, saying BJP has put common man in queue for their own money. Both leaders were addressing a rally in Jhansi.

Mr Gandhi said, Mr. Modi claims that he wants to fight corruption but turned peoples' hard-earned money into paper. He said, voters of UP will not forgive BJP for their suffering.


Mr Akhilesh also attacked BSP Chief Mayawati and cautioned people not to vote for BSP as it had joined hands with BJP earlier.

Meanwhile, addressing rallies in Hamirpur and Jalaun, Ms Mayawati dubbed the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance as corrupt. She said people were aware of the misdoings of the Akhilesh Yadav-led government. She said, Samajwadi Party and BJP were scared to disclose the chief ministerial candidate as they were aware of their reputation in the state. In the 4th phase, elections will be held on Thursday for 53 assembly seats.


 In Manipur, election campaign is gradually picking up momentum for the two-phased Assembly elections to be held on the fourth and eighth of the next month. At Imphal, senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today released the Vision Document of BJP for Manipur ahead of the state assembly elections. The 24-page vision document, the Manipur BJP stresses on raising a Highway Protection Force for ensuring a blockade free  Manipur  in days to come. Mr. Singh said, the NDA Government at the Centre and the BJP will never compromise the territorial integrity of Manipur in any eventuality.

More from our Imphal Correspondent:

"Senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that Manipur is nowhere mentioned in the framework agreement signed between the Centre and NSCN(IM) to resolve the decades old Naga insurgency problem.Regarding the indefinite economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council on the two National Highways of Manipur, the Union Home Minister also charged that the Congress Government in Manipur would have managed a political conspiracy to divert the attention of the people from its 15 years’ misrule to economic blockade. Ibomcha Sharma, AIR News, Imphal."


Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang today decided to step down from office in a dramatic turn of events in the violence-hit state. A statement from the Chief Minister's Office confirmed that Mr. Zeliang was stepping down and a consensus leader will be chosen tomorrow at Naga People's Front Legislature Party meeting. The NPF meeting will be followed by a meeting of Democratic Alliance of Nagaland.

Yesterday, a new political crisis started in the state of Nagaland. Over 40 legislators of Naga People’s Front (NPF) party were moved to a resort in Kaziranga National Park in the neighbouring state of Assam. The MLAs wanted to replace Chief Minister T R Zeliang by former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. Mr Zeliang was facing criticism for handling protests against the quota for women in urban local bodies which was then followed by violence.


In Tamil Nadu, an FIR has been filed against DMK working president MK Stalin for holding a protest at Marina beach in Chennai. Stalin sat on a protest yesterday at the Marina along with his party MLAs against the alleged attack on them during the trust vote in the Assembly. Police said an FIR has been filed against them for unlawful assembly and violation of public order. Besides Stalin, 63 MLAs, three MPs and several DMK cadres, who participated in the protest have been named in the FIR.


Union Minister for information and Broadcasting Venkaiah Naidu has said, eradication of poverty and bringing about equality among all sections of people in the country is the top priority for the government. He was addressing a gathering after inauguration of Skill Development Centre at Swarna Bharat Trust at Shamshabad near Hyderabad today. The minister said, as part of Digital India - a DigiGaon initiative will be launched soon to provide tele-medicine, education and skills through digital technology. 


India has sanctioned a soft loan of 34 crore US dollars to Nepal for various infrastructure development programmes. Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae handed over the approval papers to Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister of Nepal Ramesh Lekhak in the presence of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in Kathmandu. Under this programme Mahakali bridge and 15 roads will be constructed in various parts of Nepal. Expressing India’s commitment for strengthening infrastructure in Nepal, Mr Prabhu said, it is just a beginning. More from our Kathmandu correspondent:

"Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu termed infrastructure as  a pre-requisite of development. Delivering his key note address at Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017 at Kathmandu this evening he said that since Shri Narendra Modi took over the charge of prime minister infrastructure in India has increased many fold. Shri Prabhu said that Nepal has abundance of human and natural resources but due to lack of infrastructure it is not able to accelerate growth. Referring to strong bilateral relations he said that India and Nepal are like twin brothers. Prime Minister of Nepal, Vice President of Asian Development Bank, President of Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) and other dignitaries also expressed their views at the summit. Raj Kumar AIR News Kathmandu."


South Asian Speakers Summit concluded today with signing of “Indore Declaration” comprising  implementation of Sustainable Development Goals-SDGs. At the valedictory session in Indore, Lok Sabha Spealer Mrs. Sumitra Mahajan said, the achievement of SDG’s itself will address most of the problems like gender inequality, climate change and poverty, that are holding back  peace and prosperity in South Asia.

"The adverse effect of population pressure and over exploitation of the limited natural resources are clearly visible everywhere. On one hand, there is a need for development while on the other, we must protect environment . An imbalance between the two can trigger massive negative consequences."


Vice President Hamid Ansari reached Rwandan capital of Kigali this evening on a five-day visit to Rwanda and Uganda as part of efforts to build diplomatic relations with the African countries. President of Rwandan Senate welcomed Mr. Ansari. Our correspondent reports that the visit will help in building the contemporary relationship between these two countries and India.


A US Navy aircraft carrier strike group has begun patrols in the South China Sea, despite a warning from China on Wednesday not to interfere with Chinese sovereignty in the area. The US Navy said the group, which includes Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, began routine patrols yesterday. The area, where the US group is patrolling, is a disputed area. China has been asserting its rule over the waterway despite territorial claims from a number of other east Asian nations, including Cambodia and Indonesia.


The Indian women's cricket team advanced to the finals of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Colombo today after beating Pakistan by 7 wickets. The win made India the only undefeated team in the tournament so far and it now tops the Super six table. In the final, India will take on South African women in Colombo on Tuesday.

 In today's match, India bundled out Pakistan for a meagre 67 in 43.4 overs after asking them to bat upon winning the toss. The Indian eves  then achieved the target in just 22.3 overs, scoring 70 for three. Ekta Bisht had  an impressive five-wicket haul giving away  just  8 runs. Deepti Sharma and Harmanpreet Kaur put on a solid 42 runs together for the third wicket in the chase for the modest target of 68.


In Himachal Pradesh, the light spell of snowfall continued in several higher reaches of tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti and Kullu district. Several other parts including capital Shimla witnessed intermittent light showers in the day. The met department has issued warning of heavy rain in some parts of mid and lower hills and heavy snowfall in some higher areas of the state during next 24 hours.

More from our Correspondent

"The higher hills in tribal districts are experiencing snowfall while mercury continues to rise in plain areas of the state. The snow clearing from interior roads in Lahaul-Spiti have been affected due to this fresh snowfall and people once again are reeling under severe cold wave conditions. On the other hand the maximum temperature recorded 32 degree Celsius in Una town. Shishu Sharma Shantal, AIR News, Shimla."


The News Services Division of All India Radio in its weekly bilingual live phone-in programme “PUBLIC SPEAK” tomorrow will bring you a discussion on “Indhan Sanrakshan Mein Jan Bhagidari” This can be heard on FM Gold Channel and additional frequencies from 9.30 p.m. Listeners can ask questions to the experts sitting in our Studio on Toll Free Telephone No: 1800-115767 (Repeat 1800-115767).  You can also ask questions on telephone number: 011: 2331-4444 (Repeat 011: 2331-4444) and post queries on our Twitter handle @airnews alerts by #tag Askair.

This programme  is also available on Doordarshan DTH.


Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore today flagged off Swachh Paryavaran Walk at Rajpath in New Delhi. Over four thousand students and youth from institutions and organizations participated in the event with the message of conservation of water resources and clean environment. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Rathore said, students and youth are the agents of change. The Minister said, they can take the message of cleanliness and clean environment to the parents, families and society.


In Haryana, Jat community led by Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti  today observed Balidan Diwas amid tight security and paid tributes to Jaat youth killed in the Jat Quota agitation earlier.

As per reports, large gathering of Jat community was witnessed at various Dharna points. Barricades were set up by the Central Reserved Police Force, Rapid Action Force, and police at every entry point in sensitive areas.


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