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‘Lengthy march’ helps India’s Rahul Gandhi shed playboy picture



NEW DELHI: 5 months spent traversing his nation on foot helped the scion of India’s most well-known dynasty shed his playboy picture — however the highway to reviving his dismal political fortunes shall be a more durable journey.

Rahul Gandhi has for years struggled to problem the electoral juggernaut of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Celebration (BJP) holds a near-monopoly on energy by nationalist appeals to the nation’s Hindu majority.

Modi has revelled in casting his chief opponent, dubbed an “empty go well with” in leaked US embassy cables from 2005, as an out-of-touch princeling extra excited about luxurious and self-indulgence than combating to helm the world’s greatest democracy.

His Congress social gathering, a once-mighty drive with a proud function in ending British colonial rule 75 years in the past, is now a shadow of its former self, stricken by infighting and defections.

However a choice to invoke considered one of India’s best-known protest traditions, flanked by abnormal individuals, has given him an air of authority that had to date eluded him in public life.

“Rightly or wrongly, the BJP’s marketing campaign of him being an incompetent particular person was the dominant notion — he has managed to vary that,” impartial political analyst Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Junior advised AFP.

Since his lengthy trek started on India’s southernmost tip final September, Gandhi has struck a chord with fiery speeches and affectionate interactions with the 1000’s of bystanders which have lined streets to observe his procession.

The marketing campaign harkens again to the well-known 1930 trek by Rahul’s unrelated namesake Mahatma Gandhi, whose march to protest a salt tax imposed by British rulers was a seminal second in India’s independence battle.

It has bypassed the nation’s conventional media in an effort to succeed in the general public instantly, with an in-house social media equipment and interviews with on-line influencers.

Footage of Gandhi on the highway reveals him with a newly commanding posture, sporting an unkempt salt-and-pepper beard grown throughout the march and trailed by smiling kids.

His 3,500-kilometre (2,175-mile) journey — not all by foot — concludes on Monday within the frosty Himalayan foothills of Kashmir, after months spent finessing each his frequent contact and a voter pitch capitalising on widespread financial insecurity.

“The job of the nation is to just remember to really feel protected,” he mentioned this month, whereas sharing kebabs and playfully joking about his candy tooth in a YouTube interview with a preferred meals blogger.

‘Unite India’

The “Bharat Joro Yatra” (“Unite India March”) has original Gandhi right into a extra credible inheritor to the legacy of his father, grandmother and great-grandfather, every one a former prime minister, starting with independence chief Jawaharlal Nehru.

However Gandhi has already steered Congress to 2 landslide election defeats towards the seemingly unconquerable BJP, whose victory in subsequent yr’s nationwide polls is nearly universally thought-about a foregone conclusion by specialists.

“He has managed to redefine his public picture,” Rao mentioned. “Whether or not it should translate into votes, I’m not very certain.”

Congress was dominant throughout the first half-century after Indian independence however now governs in simply three of India’s 28 states.

The social gathering weathered a messy and public inside brawl final yr over who would take workplace as its president after the resignation of Sonia Gandhi — Rahul’s mom, widowed when her husband Rajiv was assassinated in a suicide assault in 1991.

A number of leaders of different opposition events traditionally aligned with Congress spurned Rahul’s entreaties to hitch his countrywide trek, an uncharitable estimation of his prospects subsequent yr.

His exhortations of non secular tolerance and India’s secular traditions have prior to now didn’t dent the BJP’s muscular advocacy for the Hindu majority at a time of rising intolerance towards Muslims.

‘He had no selection’

However his resolution to undertake the march additionally displays his greatest hurdle: the enduring energy of Prime Minister Modi, whose ability in cultivating a populist public picture properly outclasses his personal.

“Rahul Gandhi himself has mentioned he had no selection however to go for the (march) to be able to join with individuals and report it by social media,” Zoya Hasan, an instructional and political scientist primarily based in New Delhi, advised AFP.

Modi is the beneficiary of a media setting largely in thrall to the BJP’s agenda, with Indian press freedoms declining considerably since he took workplace in 2014, in line with worldwide watchdogs.

Whereas the prime minister’s each day actions are reported on frantically by cable information broadcasters, Gandhi’s exploits have largely didn’t function until they solid him in a adverse gentle.

“Something that undermines the opposition is prime information,” Hasan added. “Something that’s optimistic which truly brings individuals collectively, because the Bharat Jodo Yatra is searching for to do, shouldn’t be.”

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Donor convention seeks to rally quake help for Turkey, Syria



BRUSSELS: The EU on Monday will host a convention in Brussels aimed toward ramping up funds from worldwide donors to assist the victims of the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria.

Final month’s catastrophic 7.8-magnitude quake flattened whole cities, killing greater than 50,000 individuals throughout southeastern Turkey and components of war-torn Syria.

Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and a preliminary estimate from the United Nations says the injury in Turkey alone may quantity to over $100 billion.

Flash floods within the area final week solely added to the distress, killing 14 individuals dwelling in non permanent shelters.

The United Nations Improvement Programme complained earlier this month in regards to the poor degree of response to a name made in mid-February for pressing funding.

Assist organisation Worldwide Rescue Committee (IRC) urged donors to at the least make sure the UN’s emergency attraction for $1 billion for Turkey and $397 million for Syria are absolutely funded.

The UN says the attraction for Turkey has thus far solely been 16 % fulfilled, whereas the determine for Syria stands at 72 %.

“Over a month for the reason that earthquake, the scenario in affected areas stays determined,” mentioned Tanya Evans, IRC Syria Nation Director.

“With many properties broken or destroyed, many individuals are left with no alternative however to sleep in overcrowded and under-resourced collective shelters.”

The EU — which is internet hosting the convention in coordination with Turkey’s authorities — has mentioned it plans to make a “important pledge” for additional reduction, restoration, and reconstruction.

It has known as on the remainder of the worldwide neighborhood to commit funds “in step with the size and magnitude of the injury”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has admitted shortcomings within the authorities’s preliminary response as he bids for re-election in Might, will name in through video hyperlink.

Turkey is a key associate for the EU, even when ties are sometimes strained, and the bloc already provides billions in help to assist its jap neighbour home refugees from Syria’s 12-year warfare.

Assad, Russia excluded

However the authorities of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sanctioned by the West for the reason that brutal crackdown that sparked the continued civil warfare, is not going to be concerned.

Whereas worldwide rescue groups and help flowed rapidly to Turkey, humanitarian organisations confronted main hurdles reaching stricken areas in northern Syria.

UN investigators say the world turned the “epicentre of neglect” because the warring factions and hesitancy by the worldwide neighborhood have held up desperately wanted help.

EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell mentioned the catastrophe had solely “additional exacerbated the struggling attributable to the prevailing battle throughout Syria”.

“A rustic at peace would have been significantly better ready to face this tragic occasion, and geared up to deal with its penalties,” he mentioned.

Assist has belatedly begun reaching the stricken areas in northern Syria.

The EU and the USA eased sanctions to attempt to pace up deliveries, and the Syrian authorities opened two new border crossings.

Assad has been receiving calls and humanitarian help from Arab leaders within the aftermath of the quake, in a transfer analysts say might be the beginning of improved ties.

He arrived Sunday for his second go to for the reason that quake to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has already pledged greater than $100 million in help.

The donor convention in Brussels is open to international locations from the Center East and throughout the globe, however Assad’s key backer Russia is excluded resulting from its warfare on Ukraine.

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Activists change Indian flag with Khalistan banner at London excessive fee



LONDON: In a show of solidarity for the vote in Brisbane, Australia for a separate Sikh homeland, greater than two dozen activists converged exterior the Indian Excessive Fee in central London and changed the nation’s flag with the Khalistan flag, whereas chanting Sikh non secular slogans and calling for the creation of a sovereign Sikh state.

Footage of the incident confirmed a turbaned man scaling the entrance of the constructing and reaching the highest balcony, the place the tricolour Indian flag was hoisted. Inside seconds, he removes the Indian nationwide flag and replaces it with the yellow Khalistan banner, with none hindrance from any safety personnel.

In the meantime, the supporters on the bottom take away the Indian flag utterly, because the Khalistan flag is raised.

Two members of the workers appeared on the balcony from inside, and a standoff between them and the Sikh man ensued for a number of minutes earlier than the person finally got here off the balcony.

The London police mentioned two safety guards had been injured and an investigation has been launched, in accordance with BBC.

The incident marked the primary time that the Indian flag has been taken off the diplomatic constructing. Citing the PA information company, BBC reported crowd members had been believed to be supporters of the Khalistan motion.

Responding to the incident, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, mentioned he condemned “the violent dysfunction and vandalism that occurred”.

“There is no such thing as a place in our metropolis for this sort of behaviour”, he mentioned in a tweet.

The British excessive commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, described the incident as “disgraceful” and “completely unacceptable”.

Responding to the occasion, New Delhi demanded that London take “quick steps to establish, arrest and prosecute every a type of concerned in in the present day’s incident, and put in place stringent measures to stop the recurrence of such incidents,” The Wire reported.

Tensions between the extremist authorities of Narendra Modi and Sikhs worldwide have been rising over complaints of worsening human rights violations of Sikhs in India.

Again house, regulation enforcement companies within the northern Indian state of Punjab are conducting a “manhunt” for Amritpal Singh, a distinguished self-styled Sikh preacher who says he helps the motion, and have suspended cell and web companies throughout the area.

With over 11,000 Sikhs collaborating within the second part of the Khalistan Referendum, the newest incident highlights the battle for Khalistan’s creation and the help it has garnered among the many Sikh group.

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Posters with greeting messages on Pakistan Day seem in IIOJK



SRINAGAR: In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, posters have appeared in Srinagar and different areas of the valley with greeting messages forward of the Pakistan Day to be celebrated on March 23.

In keeping with Kashmir Media Service, the posters, displayed by Kashmiri youth, Troopers of Islam, additionally carrying the well-known slogan coined by martyred veteran Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Gilani ‘Hum Pakistani Hain, Pakistan Hamara Hai’, and  Jammu and Kashmir Wariseen Shuhada have been pasted on partitions, pillars and poles in Srinagar and a number of other different areas of the Kashmir valley.

The posters with Pakistan flag and film of Military Chief Common Syed Asim Munir greeted the Pakistanis on their nationwide day.

The posters stated:  “Individuals of Jammu and Kashmir demand an finish to Indian unlawful occupation and need freedom”, “Go India Go Again”, “Jammu and Kashmir is a part of Pakistan.”

The posters learn, India has turned Kashmir right into a army garrison. It learn, Kashmiris need freedom from Indian unlawful occupation and can by no means compromise on their simply reason behind proper to self-determination. Additionally they learn, ‘it’s the time to get united and lift voice in opposition to the Indian occupation.’

The hope was expressed that the folks of the nation would proceed to work for a robust and steady Pakistan as steady Pakistan is the assure to peace within the area.

The posters have been additionally shared on social media platforms, together with Fb and twitter.

A number of college students injured as car falls into gorge in Poonch

In the meantime, 14 folks, together with six lady and 7 male college students, have been injured when an “overloaded” eco-vehicle skidded off the street and rolled down right into a gorge within the Poonch district of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday.

In keeping with Kashmir Media Service, officers stated the accident befell close to Keri Kangra in Mendhar, Poonch, when the driving force of the Eco Van misplaced management over it and the car rolled down many toes right into a gorge, resulting in the accidents to 14 folks.

The injured, 13 of them being minors and one main, have been instantly rushed to the native hospital by the rescuers, together with native volunteers.



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