WATCH – Will Rajnath Win Lucknow?

Contrary to SP-BSP and Congress claims, locals believe Lucknow is, and will remain, a BJP bastion, thanks to Vajpayee style of politics that was inclusive and appealed to the cosmopolitan electorate.

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China Calls For Talks On Masood Listing

Reiterating its stand, China on Tuesday called for “political consultation within the framework of 1267 Committee” to resolve the issue of listing Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.

China also underlined that “positive progress” has been made in the issue so far.

“Support issue of the listing (of Masood Azhar), which should be resolved through political consultation within the framework of 1267 Committee. We think that is also the consensus of the overwhelming majority of the members of the Council,” said Chinese foreign ministry, in a statement.

“At present, the relevant consultations are underway in the 1267 Committee. Within the framework. And positive progress has been made. Thirdly, we believe in the joint efforts of all parties. This problem can be properly solved,” it added.

The remarks come two-days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The statement also follows Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale visit to China on April 20 to discuss the listing of Azhar, on which Beijing emerged as the sole hurdle so far.

On March 13, China, for the fourth time, had blocked a proposal by the US, the UK and France, among others, to enlist Azhar as a global terrorist before the UNSC committee.

A day after, Beijing had defended its technical block on the proposal, saying it needed “more time” as it is “conducting a comprehensive and in-depth review” on the listing request put forth by the countries.

ALSO READ: France Freezes Masood’s Assets

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang had told reporters at a regular briefing that China will continue “coordinating” with all the relevant parties to find a “lasting solution” to the issue if it is to be resolved in a “responsible and sustainable way”.

India had expressed disappointment over China’s move but vowed to continue to pursue “all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens” are brought to justice.

The United States had also said that the failure to designate Azhar as a global terrorist “runs counter” to Washington and Beijing’s goal of regional stability and peace.

A global terrorist tag under the UN’s 1267 committee would have led to a freeze on Azhar’s assets and a ban on travel and keeping weapons. (ANI)

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Rahul Citizenship Row A Plot: Priyanka

The controversy over the citizenship of Congress president Rahul Gandhi is rubbish and drama, said party general secretary and in-charge for East Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Amethi on Tuesday.

“The controversy about Rahul’s citizenship is rubbish and drama. The whole of India knows that Rahul Gandhi is an Indian,” she said.

“He was born, raised and grew up in India. What sort of rubbish is this (controversy) regarding his citizenship,” Priyanka said when asked to comment.

Priyanka was here to address election meetings in support of Rahul, who is seeking re-election from Amethi.

The Congress party on Tuesday said the Home Ministry’s notice to Rahul regarding his citizenship was a ploy to divert the people’s attention from the real issues plaguing the nation.

ALSO READ: Rahul Will Win With Record Margin

The party accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of resorting to “a fake narrative to divert the attention of the people as he has no answers for unemployment, farmer distress, and tax terrorism unleashed on the traders of the country.”

Talking to ANI, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said: “The electoral boat of PM Modi and BJP has completely sunk. The bankruptcy of new ideas is now making them lose the political balance by resorting to such malicious allegations against Gandhi.”

“The entire country knows that he is a citizen of India. Rahul Gandhi complained to the Ethics Committee of Parliament regarding the same issue one and a half years ago. The truth is that there is no truth in the allegations,” said Surjewala.

“PM Modi raised the same issue in 2015 and again in 2017 when it approached the Home Ministry with a complaint against Rahul Gandhi. For the last five years, were the BJP leaders sleeping? Why is this topic being raised during the election season only,” he asked.

D Raja, CPI leader, said: “Rahul Gandhi has been issued a voter ID. Then why is there confusion on his citizenship? The timing of issuing this notice to the Congress president is questionable.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday issued a notice to Gandhi regarding his citizenship after receiving a complaint from Rajya Sabha MP Dr Subramanian Swamy.

Dr Swamy has alleged that a company named Backops Limited was registered in the United Kingdom in the year 2003 and that Gandhi was one of the Directors and Secretary of the company.

Dr Swamy has also stated that the Congress president had declared his nationality as British in a UK-based company.

“It has been further brought out in the complaint that in the Company’s Annual Returns filed on October 10, 2005, and October 31, 2006, your date of birth has been given as June 19, 1970, and that you had declared your nationality as British. Further, in the Dissolution application dated 17/02/2009 of the above-referred company, your nationality has been mentioned as British,” the notice said.

The Ministry has asked Gandhi to respond within a ‘fortnight’ to the allegations.

On April 20, BJP MP GVL Narasimha Rao had also raised a similar objection to Gandhi’s citizenship at a press conference here.

(ANI)

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Jet Employees Stage Protest

Can Jet Airways Learn from Singapore Airlines?

If Indian carriers do not learn from the troubles of Jet Airways, there will be more airline failures to come in the near future, writes Lee Kah Whye

After almost 27 years in business, it looks increasingly likely that airplanes painted with the Jet Airways livery have made their final touchdowns.

On April 17, Jet Airways suspended all domestic flights following its inability to obtain interim funding necessary to continue operations. Just five days before, it announced the “temporary” cessation of its international routes as a stop-gap measure to give itself some breathing space from creditors which are owed some $1.2 billion.

In its heyday, it flew to 22 international cities and over 50 local airports. It was once India’s most valuable airline, had the largest market share in India and admired by Indians for breaking the monopoly of state-owned Air India and bringing into the market better services, reliability, and nicer airplanes.

Although there are talks of a rescue being mounted, led by SBI (State Bank of India), the longer Jet Airways stays out of operation, the more difficult it is for it to be revived. In the meantime, staff – pilots, aircrew and ground staff who have not been paid for months have been leaving and joining other airlines. Competitors like SpiceJet and Indigo have also been using the landing slots in airports that have been vacated by Jet.

So, is there something that Jet Airways and the airline industry in India can learn from Singapore? Following are some generic suggestions. It is not meant to be an analysis of how Jet Airways got into trouble.

DECIDE ON YOUR BUSINESS MODEL AND STICK TO IT

When budget carriers started to emerge in the early 2000s, Jet Airways flirted with the new business model. Initially acquiring Air Sahara for $200 million and re-branding it JetLite and later on merging it with another of its brands Jet Konnect. JetLite was positioned somewhere between a low-cost carrier and a full-service carrier. Jet Konnect had similar branding as its parent company but a lower level of service. This brought much confusion into the market.

In the aviation business, there is no mezzanine level of service, no middle ground. You are either a premium airline or a cost leader.

In 2004, when Singapore regulators approved the operations of budget airlines out of Changi, Valuair was one of the few who jumped into the fray. Valuair jointly owned by a Singaporean businessman Dennis Choo and Qantas offered lower fares together with assigned seating and meals. After just slightly over a year it merged with Qantas’s Jetstar Asia.

Budget airlines by definition appeal to the budget-sensitive travellers and especially in the cost sensitive Indian market must be prepared for a fight to the bottom. This means embracing the all the features of budget carriers like flying point to point, using a single aircraft type, landing in airports that charge the least for landing rights, high aircraft utilisation and charging for everything like booking fees, meals, luggage, blankets and even hand baggage if possible.

INNOVATE

Innovation is not just about introducing fancy movie and entertainment experiences onboard,sophisticated and luxurious seats or offering blockchain powered digital wallets and a comprehensive frequent flyer programme. Singapore Airlines (SIA), being a premium airline, offers all of the above.

However, if a decision is made to operate as a discount carrier, then Ryanair, the leading budget airline in Europe is a good example of being innovative. Led by its charismatic founder and CEO Michael O’Leary, it always comes up new ways to shave dollars off air tickets. Whether for publicity purpose or whether they really meant it, there was talk about Ryanair introducing fees for the use of toilets in planes, charging overweight people more for their flights and even making passengers carry their own luggage to the plane. Ryanair has become synonymous with cheap tickets because they go out of their way to save costs, so travellers are somewhat assured they are getting the best deal when flying with them.

Recently, when Italian seat manufacturer Aviointeriors introduced ” standing seats”, at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2019 (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany, travellers instantly connected this idea with Ryanair.

BUILD CODE SHARE ALLIANCES

For full-service carriers, connectivity is key. This is especially so for the more lucrative international routes. No airline can fly to every city. Domestic routes might provide the base passenger load, but it is the international ones that earn the most profits. It is thus important to build strong partnerships. SIA has more than 30 codeshare partners and many of them are not part of the Star Alliance group which it is a member of.

Jet Airways was not decisive enough in this regard. initially it thought about joining Star Alliance and for reasons which are not clear, then started working more closely with airlines belonging Sky Team. When Etihad took a 24 percent stake, it started to work more closely with Etihad and routed its flights through Abu Dhabi.

WATCH THE BOTTOM LINE

SIA may be famous for the Singapore Girl, pampering their passengers and promoting the romance and glamour or air travel, but the management keeps a close eye on costs and are not afraid to cut back when required.First of all, SIA also does not hesitate to terminate routes that are not profitable. Cebu, Chicago, Washington DC, Vienna, Istanbul, and Sao Palo among the almost 50 cities it has stopped flying to in recent years.

After the global financial crisis in 2008, there was a severe softening of demand for air travel and Singapore Airlines went through a brutal cost-cutting exercise, suspending recruitment, and letting go of staff including almost 80 pilots.

In April 2017, after it reported its first quarterly loss in five years for the fourth quarter which ended in March, SIA underwent a review of its operations and came out with a three-year transformation programme. The review included ways of managing costs more efficiently, new pricing policies, ways to improve aircraft usage and the consolidation of some departments. As a result, it was decided to merge its regional brand Silkair with the main airline. Much earlier, it had already merged Tigerair, it’s a no-frills carrier with another of its low-cost brand Scoot.

Within a year, it recorded its highest profit in seven years and regained the coveted Skytrax best airlines award from Qatar after last winning it nine years ago.

One of the financial structural problems Jet Airways faced was that it was heavily reliant on leased aircraft. While leasing allows a new airline to get off the ground quickly, as it expanded and grew its fleet, it made it’s operating expenses very high. The fact that Jet leases most of its aircraft made it vulnerable to the planes being taken away by leasing companies when it could not pay them and that is what happened. Globally, on average, airlines own half its fleet and leases the rest.

In India, demand for air travel has seen an unprecedented boom. Passenger growth in recent years has been in double digits year on year. By mid-2020s India is forecast to be the world’s third largest market for air travel. If, however, airlines do not learn from the troubles at Jet Airways, there will be more airline failures to come in the near future.

(ANI)

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EVMs In Kashmir

Bengal Polls Highest In Fourth Phase

The polling percentage in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections was the highest in West Bengal – around 76.44 per cent till 5 pm, said the Election Commission of India (ECI) here on Monday evening.

Eight seats of the state went to the polls in the fourth phase. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the polling percentage for these seats was 83.38 per cent.

Jammu and Kashmir recorded the lowest turnout with just 10.5 per cent votes polled till 5 pm. Polling for Anantnag seat is scheduled to be held in three phases. On Monday, Kulgam district went to polls.

In 2014, the polling percentage for Kulgam alone was 36.34 per cent, according to Election Commission of India.

Talking to media persons, Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha along with other senior officials said that in Odisha, where six Lok Sabha seats went to polls in the fourth phase along with 42 Assembly constituencies, 68 per cent votes were polled till 6 pm.

In 2014, the polling percentage in Odisha stood at 73.75 per cent.

In Rajasthan, where 13 out of 25 seats went to polls on Monday, the voter turnout was recorded at 64.5 per cent till 5 pm. The polling percentage for the same seats in 2014 stood at 64.48 per cent.

The rest 12 seats of the states will go to polls in the fifth phase on May 6.

Voting was held for five seats of Bihar as well. In these seats, around 58.92 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 6 pm.

In 2014, the polling percentage for these five seats was recorded at 56.18 per cent.

Seventeen seats of Maharashtra went to polls in the fourth and final phase of polls for the state. The voter turnout was recorded at 58.23 per cent till 6 pm.

In 2014, the polling percentage for the same seats was recorded at 55.58 per cent.

In Uttar Pradesh, 13 Lok Sabha seats went to polls on Monday. The polling percentage stood at 57.58 per cent. In 2014, the final turnout for these seats was recorded at 58.39 per cent.

In Jharkhand, where three seats went to polls on Monday, around 63.39 per cent voters exercised their franchise. This was slightly lower as compared to 2014 when the polling percentage stood at 63.82 per cent.

In Madhya Pradesh, where polling was held for six seats, the voter turnout was recorded at 66.14 per cent.

The first three phases of elections were held on April 11, 18 and 23.

The polling percentage in the first phase was recorded at 69.50, 69.44 in the second phase and 68.40 in the third phase.

The EC stated that the polling in the first three phases was 0.675 per cent higher as compared to the last Lok Sabha election in 2014.

According to the Election Commission, polling was largely “incident-free” except in West Bengal. In Jharkhand, the last voter in one of the polling stations in Chatra damaged the ballot unit.

“In West Bengal, BJP candidate from Asansol Babul Supriyo went inside a booth with his security guard alleging that his polling agent was not allowed to sit,” an EC official said during the press conference.

“When the CRPF ASI in-charge protested the entry of security guards with the arms inside the booth, he pushed him physically and entered the booth along with his security guard,” he added.

“A case was also registered against Babul Supriyo and against unknown persons for breaking the glass of Babul Supriyo’s car,” he said.

The remaining three phases of Lok Sabha polls will be held on May 6, 12, and 19. The counting of votes will be done on May 23.

(ANI)

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Narendra Modi In Varanasi

PM Disclosed Horse Trading Plan: TMC

Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday filed a complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the Election Commission over the alleged horse trading of party leaders.

“The complaint against Modi for horse-trading has been filed with ECI on Monday at 7 pm,” TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien tweeted.

Earlier in the day, the TMC leader had hit back at Prime Minister Modi for his remark that 40 TMC MLAs are in touch with him, asking if he is campaigning or is indulging in horse trading.

Taking to Twitter, O’Brien called Modi “Expiry Babu PM” and tweeted, “Expiry Babu PM, let’s get this straight. Nobody will go with you. Not even one councillor.”

“Are you election campaigning or horse trading! Your expiry date is near. Today, we are complaining to the Election Commission. Charging you with horse trading. #LokSabhaElection2019.”

Addressing a public rally in Serampore in West Bengal, Prime Minister Modi had said that 40 TMC MLAs are in touch with him and there is nothing that can save Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Related News: Mamata Slams BJP For Ignoring Elders

“Didi, on May 23, when the results will come, the lotus will bloom everywhere and your MLAs will leave you. Didi, your 40 MLAs are in contact with me even now,” he said at the public meeting.

Eight parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal — Baharampur, Krishnagar, Ranaghat, Burdwan East, Burdwan-Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur and Birbhum, went to polls under the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha election.

There are 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.

(ANI)

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Amethi Voter Speaks

Amethi Seat – 'Rahul Cannot Lose Here'

Munna, 64, a timepiece shop owner in Jayas, a small town in Amethi Lok Sabha seat, says he finds immediate recognition as a voter of Rahul Gandhi’s constituency. Jobs and development are minor worries; dignity is important, he says

Identity. This is what the people of Amethi have got from electing Rahul Gandhi as our leader for the Lok Sabha, over and over again. Yes, I agree that not much has changed in this area over the last many years.

But Amethi waalon ko ek pehchaan toh mili hai (Amethi voter has a distinct identity these days). Whenever I travel to other parts of the country, I identify myself as a resident of Amethi. People immediately respond by saying, “Arrrey, Rahul Gandhi ki Amethi.” This gives me – and of course the same must be true for other citizens of this constituency – a sense of pride. If Rahul ji goes away, what will Amethi be remembered for?

Development will happen at its own pace. If Congress forms government at the Centre, it will be easy for them to set up industrial projects here, improve the basic infrastructure. Already, the power situation has completely transformed in last one decade.

Jobs remain a worry for the youth here. This is not a fertile belt. So people for ages used to migrate in search of work to big cities nearby like Lucknow; my own two sons work there. Many have migrated to Gulf countries as skilled labour and send petro dollars home. Lord has provided livelihood to all of us, and with dignity.

There was a time when riots would occur in response to communal tension in other parts of the state. But law and order has improved. And I believe the reason for this is that if something happens in Amethi, it will be flashed on TV news channels immediately. You know why? Because this is Rahul Gandhi’s constituency.

For this reason, police and administration are more vigil in this district. They know if something untoward happens to the people in Amethi, the issue will reverberate in Parliament. This gives us reassurance. This gives us a sense of safety. This gives us a sense of power. What else do you require from your leader?

Smriti Irani in Amethi has no chance of toppling Rahul ji. She may get a fraction of votes from Brahmin voters here and there. Also there are RSS and a couple of new Hindu outfits who will support Modi. Rest of the people will cast their vote in favour of Congress president. Rahul ji raja aadmi hain (Rahul Gandhi is a royal personality). Even during Modi wave in 2014, he had remained deeply entrenched in Amethi. This time the margin of his victory will be bigger, you watch.

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