Veteran political leader Sharad Pawar, in a contentious battle with his nephew Ajit Pawar over the name and symbol of the party he founded, has faced defeat. The Election Commission has favored Ajit Pawar's faction within the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), attributing the decision to the faction's larger numerical strength, holding a majority of the party's 53 MLAs in the Maharashtra Assembly.
This outcome grants Ajit Pawar's faction control over the party's assets and financial accounts, potentially imposing significant financial constraints on the opposing faction led by Sharad Pawar. With only 12 MLAs supporting Sharad Pawar, while 41 stand with Ajit Pawar, the latter's alliance with the BJP-Eknath Shinde coalition further solidifies his position.
Sharad Pawar's faction has been instructed to choose a new name and symbol for their faction ahead of the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, with a deadline set by the Election Commission for February 7.
Ajit Pawar's actions, including his alignment with the BJP last year, have underscored his aspirations for power within the party, leading to a public split and subsequent struggle for control. Despite objections from the Sharad Pawar faction, Ajit Pawar has accepted the decision "with humility," while critics decry the perceived erosion of democratic principles within the party.
The Uttarakhand Assembly is set to introduce legislation on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) today, with Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami spearheading the initiative. Dhami emphasized that the proposed UCC aims to benefit all sections of society and aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of 'Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas' and 'Ek Bharat, Sreshtha Bharat.'
The government-appointed panel, led by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, has meticulously drafted a comprehensive report spanning four volumes and totaling 749 pages. The panel extensively gathered feedback, receiving 2.33 lakh pieces of written input online and organizing over 70 public forums, engaging with approximately 60,000 individuals to inform the draft.
Key proposals in the UCC include a ban on polygamy and child marriage, standardization of the marriageable age for girls across all faiths, and a uniform divorce process. These recommendations aim to promote gender equality and social harmony and will be deliberated upon during the special four-day assembly session, which commenced yesterday and will continue until Thursday.
The UCC draft encompasses various aspects of civil life, including inheritance rights, mandatory marriage registration, and an elevated marriageable age for girls to facilitate their education before marriage. Additionally, couples failing to register their marriages will be ineligible for government benefits, emphasizing the importance of legal documentation.
While the specifics of the draft remain undisclosed, reports suggest that it will establish a legal framework covering marriage, divorce, land, property, and inheritance laws, irrespective of religious affiliations. If enacted, Uttarakhand will become the first state in post-Independence India to adopt the UCC, following in the footsteps of Goa, where it has been operational since the Portuguese colonial era.
Renowned Tamil actor Vijay has made a significant announcement, revealing his entry into politics by launching a new political party named "Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam." He declared his intention to contest the 2026 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, emphasizing his belief that politics is a sacred form of public service rather than merely a profession.
Vijay's decision to enter politics has sparked widespread celebrations among his fans, who have eagerly awaited this move. Speculations had been circulating for some time about the actor's potential venture into politics, given Tamil Nadu's history of actors transitioning from cinema to political roles, such as the late M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa.
The newly formed "Tamizhaga Vetri Kazhagam," loosely translated as "Tamil Nadu Victory Party," aims to actively engage in public service and represent the interests of the people. Vijay clarified that his party will not participate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and will remain neutral in its approach.
Despite his political commitments, Vijay affirmed his dedication to completing his current film projects without compromising his party responsibilities. He expressed gratitude towards the people of Tamil Nadu for their support and pledged to wholeheartedly engage in serving their needs through his political endeavors.
Thousands of residents in Ladakh staged a complete shutdown, demanding statehood and constitutional protections under the sixth schedule for the Union Territory. Organized by the Leh Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance, protestors marched through Leh's main city despite freezing temperatures, calling for Ladakh's statehood, sixth schedule implementation, and separate parliamentary seats for Leh and Kargil districts.
The shutdown occurred despite the Centre's announcement of a second round of talks with representatives. A high-powered committee, led by Minister of State (Home Affairs) Nityanand Rai, was also formed to address Ladakh's demands.
Ladakhis expressed discontent with bureaucratic rule, emphasizing their desire for full statehood to elect representatives for governance. In December, the Centre held its initial meeting in Ladakh, requesting demands from both Leh and Kargil bodies.
Following the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019, Ladakh became a separate Union Territory. However, within two years, residents felt politically marginalized and united in opposition against the Centre's administration. The protests underscore a growing sentiment of disillusionment and the aspiration for greater political autonomy in the region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today that veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani will be honored with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award. Describing it as an "emotional moment," PM Modi hailed Advani as one of the most respected statesmen of contemporary times, emphasizing his monumental contribution to India's development.
In a statement shared on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), PM Modi expressed his joy in informing the public about Advani being conferred with the Bharat Ratna and personally congratulated him on the prestigious honor. Advani's illustrious political career includes serving as the Deputy Prime Minister during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government, in addition to heading various ministries. His parliamentary journey spanned nearly five decades, from 1970 to 2019, encompassing membership in both Houses of Parliament.
PM Modi commended Advani's journey, which began with grassroots work and culminated in national leadership roles. He praised Advani's contributions as Home Minister and Minister of Information and Broadcasting, highlighting his exemplary parliamentary interventions enriched with profound insights. Additionally, PM Modi lauded Advani for setting an exemplary standard in political ethics, acknowledging his significant role in shaping the political landscape of India.
In Ranchi, Champai Soren was sworn in as Chief Minister of Jharkhand on Friday afternoon, following the dramatic and controversial arrest of Hemant Soren by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case just two days prior.
In preparation for the upcoming Budget session of Parliament, the government held an all-party meeting where they assured readiness to address all issues. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi characterized the meeting as "very cordial" and affirmed the government's willingness to engage in discussions on various matters during the brief session, which marks the final one before parliamentary elections.
Key government representatives including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, among others, attended the meeting alongside leaders from different parties such as Congress, TMC, DMK, and others.
During the meeting, Congress MP Pramod Tiwari raised concerns regarding the recent "violent attack" on a rally led by Rahul Gandhi in Assam and alleged misuse of investigative agencies by the central government to target opposition figures.
This pre-session gathering is a customary practice where parties express their concerns and the government outlines its agenda, seeking cooperation.
The Budget session, scheduled from January 31 to February 9, will feature an interim budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, with the new government slated to present a comprehensive budget thereafter. The session will commence with President Droupadi Murmu's address to both Houses of Parliament.
In the Chandigarh mayoral elections, Manoj Sonkar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious, defeating Kuldeep Kumar of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). This contest marked the first showdown between the newly formed Opposition coalition, comprising the Congress and AAP, and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), following Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's switch to the latter.
Securing 16 votes, Sonkar outpaced Kumar, who garnered 12 votes. However, eight votes were deemed invalid, sparking protests from AAP and Congress councillors. Despite having fewer councillors than AAP's 13 and Congress's seven, the BJP's 14 councillors propelled Sonkar to victory.
Arvind Kejriwal, AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister, accused the BJP of cheating and criticized the electoral process, expressing dissatisfaction with the outcome. He voiced concerns about the implications of such actions in national elections, stating, "If these people can stoop to this level in a mayoral poll, they can go to any extent in the national elections."
Kejriwal's remarks underscored the contentious nature of the Chandigarh mayoral elections and highlighted the heightened political tensions between the BJP-led NDA and the Opposition coalition
Nitish Kumar took oath today as the Chief Minister of Bihar for a record ninth time, at the head of a fresh government formed in partnership with the BJP. BJP leaders Samrat Chowdhury, Vijay Sinha and several others also took oath along with him at the Raj Bhavan.
This is also the fifth time in a decade the 72-year-old has changed camp -- the frequency of the process having earned him the pejorative "Paltu Kumar".
Mr Kumar had parted company with the BJP last in 2022.
In a long social media post, the Delhi Chief Minister alleged, "Recently, they [BJP] has contacted 7 of our MLAs of Delhi and said - 'We will arrest Kejriwal after a few days. After that, we will break the MLAs. Talks have been held with 21 MLAs. Talking to others also. After that, we will topple the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi. You can also come. Will give ? 25 crore and contest the elections on BJP ticket.'"
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of attempting to "buy" seven Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs with an offer of ? 25 crore each in a bid to destabilise his government in the national capital.
Mr Kejriwal claimed that the BJP engaged in talks with the AAP legislators and purportedly threatened imminent arrest for the Delhi Chief Minister in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. The alleged conversation involved a sinister plan to topple the AAP government in Delhi.
Despite the claim of contacting 21 MLAs, Mr Kejriwal insisted that the information available to the AAP suggests that only seven MLAs have been approached, and all of them have firmly declined the tempting offer.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently emphasized the collaborative efforts of the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in enhancing the central bank digital currency (CBDC) for cross-border transactions. The RBI initiated a pilot project for wholesale CBDC involving nine banks: State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, YES Bank, IDFC First Bank, and HSBC.
Additionally, the RBI introduced a pilot for the retail version of CBDC, known as e-rupee, on December 1, 2022. The e-rupee functions as a digital representation of legal tender, mirroring the denominations of paper currency and coins. Distributed through financial intermediaries like banks, users can transact using e-rupee through digital wallets provided by participating banks.
Sitharaman highlighted the benefits of CBDC in cross-border payments, citing increased transparency, traceability, and efficiency. She noted its potential to expedite transactions at reduced costs, benefiting both inward and outward remittances. The government and regulator are actively involved in further developing CBDC to harness these advantages.
Regarding India's development priorities, Sitharaman identified manufacturing and agriculture as key focus areas. In agriculture, the emphasis lies on modernizing post-harvest practices and strengthening the sector's overall infrastructure. For manufacturing, the government has identified 13 sunrise sectors, including renewable energy, semiconductor, machine learning, earth sciences, and space. These sectors are deemed crucial for India's growth trajectory, aligning with the vision of a developed nation ("Viksit Bharat").
Sitharaman's remarks underscore the government's commitment to leveraging digital innovations like CBDC to enhance financial inclusion, streamline processes, and bolster key sectors vital for India's socio-economic advancement.