Panaji: Petrol in Goa will cost nearly ₹64.50 per litre from Saturday, following the increase in VAT in the State budget.The VAT on petrol has been increased to 15%.While tabling the Budget recently, after forming a BJP-led State government, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar justified the hike by saying that petrol prices in Goa will be below ₹65 per litre, “one of the lowest in the country.” Mr. Parrikar had brought petrol prices down to below ₹60 per litre in 2012, following his promise to scrap VAT on petrol in the run up to the then Assembly polls.
Holi and Dola Purnima celebrations in rural areas of Ganjam district in Odisha provide a platform for folk dancers and theatre troupes to showcase their talents.According to Bighneswar Sahu, convener of Odisha Folk Foundation (OFF), the week-long celebrations keep folk traditions alive. At Badakusasthali, the celebrations are part of a biennial folk festival started 136 years ago. Every night during the festival, the deities from the Radha-Krishna temple are taken out for a procession.Troupes of Bharat Lila, Krushna Lila, Daskathia, Ghudki, Gahana, Radha Prem Lila, Prahlad Natak, Jodi Sankha, Parava dance and Bagha Mukha dance are now camping at Badakusasthali. All families in this village have at least a folk dancer or are patrons of folk art forms, said G. Krishna Reddy, a performer himself. Performers enjoy entertaining the audiences here because they do not have time limits, unlike in government-sponsored shows, said Mr. Sahu. Some performances go beyond two nights.
Odisha continues to remain in poll mode even though a month has passed since the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections were held in the State simultaneously in four phases in April.Elections were to be held for two Assembly seats — Patkura and Bijepur — and four Rajya Sabha berths in the State. Four Biju Janata Dal members of the Upper House of Parliament have contested and won the recent Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.The Patkura Assembly constituency was first scheduled to go to the polls on April 29. However, polling was adjourned following the death of BJD nominee Bed Prakash Agarwalla on April 20. Mr. Agarwalla’s wife Savitri Agarwalla filed the nomination as a BJD candidate when polling date was scheduled for May 19.Polling in Patkura was deferred again due to Cyclone Fani that devastated many coastal districts on May 3. The Election Commission of India is likely to announce the date of polling for the constituency shortly.On the other hand, the Bijepur Assembly seat in western Odisha has already been vacated by Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik. The bypoll will be held in Bijepur within six months after the ECI announces the schedule. Mr. Patnaik had won from two Assembly segments — Bijepur and Hinjili — in south Odisha.The Bijepur seat will witness a triangular contest involving the three major parties — the BJD, the BJP and the Congress. A triangular contest is also likely in the Patkura seat.Lobbying for seatsMeanwhile, lobbying has started in the BJD for the Rajya Sabha seats that were to fall vacant before completion of the term. While Rajya Sabha members Anubhav Mohanty and Achyuta Samanta have got elected from Kendrapara and Kandhamal Lok Sabha seats, two other members of the Upper House — Pratap Keshari Deb and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik — have got elected to the State Assembly from Aul and Khandapada seats.While the BJD, with 112 legislators in the 147-member Assembly, is certain to bag three of the four seats easily, election to the fourth seat will be crucial since the BJP, which has become the main Opposition party, does not have the required numbers to win a single seat comfortably. The BJP has won 23 seats in the Assembly and Congress has nine.
Sunday, February 13, 10.35 p.m., Chinnaswamy Stadium, BangaloreI was standing near the team bus, waiting for the Indian team to emerge from the dressing room. They had just thumped Australia in the warm-up game and I expected a bunch of beaming faces to board the bus. In a few minutes, the players started strolling out, excited at the prospect of a night-out. But the captain and the coach looked grim. Behind them was my man, Agent Viru. Our eyes met and a half-nod prompted me to stealthily walk closer to him. “Kya hua Viru,” I asked. He said something in English which, putting mildly, was somewhat incoherent. “There’s something black in the pulses,” he repeated under his breath. Just before boarding the bus, he turned around, and with his fingers, signalled me the number 7.Monday, February 14, 7.00 a.m., ITC Gardenia Hotel, BangaloreI saw Viru cringing at the sight of a bowl of cornflakes when I joined him at his table in the morning. He updated me on the situation. Apparently, Kirsten Kaku and Dhoni Babu were locked up till late night worrying about what had happened in the warm-up game. “What could be wrong?” I asked. After all, India’s batting had performed true to form, Munaf Patel had bowled fast and got dispatched faster, and Ashish Nehra had misfielded in ways more comical than his facial expressions. But Piyush Chawla and Sreesanth had bowled India to victory. “That is the problem,” Viru said, “how come the Australians made Sree look like Gillespie and Piyush Warne?” The Indian think tank is exploring the possibility of this being an Australian conspiracy to get these two in India’s playing XI. “That’s what I don’t understand yaar,” Viru said, “if you pick a lucky mascot, why play him?” “Lucky mascot?” I probed. And then, Agent Viru showed me a hitherto unknown facet of India’s selection process. Chairman Cheeka clashed with the captain over the 14th member of the squad, someone who wouldn’t play a game but would bring a lucky charm. Parthiv Patel, waterboy in the 2003 World Cup, and Piyush Chawla, benchwarmer in the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup, were the two top contenders. “If you play Piyush, it defeats the purpose,” Viru said, “in that case, they might as well have picked Joginder Sharma. At least, we could laugh at him.”advertisementMonday, February 14, 4.15 p.m., Bangalore AirportJust before boarding the flight to Chennai, Dhoni called Praveen Kumar to wish him on Valentine’s Day. An emotional Praveen broke down. “How could you do this to me?” he asked. “I compared you with Obama and you call me just street smart? Kamse kam Mulayam Singh toh bolna tha na.”Tuesday, February 15, 8.00 p,m., Chola Sheraton Hotel, ChennaiSelect players joined the coaching staff in the coach’s suite to discuss the first game against Bangladesh. Within 15 minutes, walked out a nonchalant Viru. “They don’t even know which team we are playing against,” he told me at the elevator. “They are talking about Abdur Razzak. Don’t they know he plays for Pakistan?” I reminded him of the Bangladeshi left-handed bowler by the same name. “Right handed, left handed, whatever handed he may be, the ball is going out,” he said before entering his room where a plate of aloo parathas waited for him.- The writer was formerly known as the Fake IPL Player. He will observe the 2011 World Cup through Agent Viru’s eyes.
The focus of the global sporting community will soon be on India as they host and play their first ever FIFA tournament come October. The FIFA U-17 World Cup is set to kickstart with two matches on October 6 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi where India will be taking on USA.India will then take on Colombia on October 9 and will face Ghana on October 12 at the same venue.Current senior World Cup champions Germany are placed in Group C while Brazil and Spain are both in Group D.Group F can be considered the group of death with Iraq, Mexico, Chile and England pitted against each other.The final will be played on 28th October at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.Photo Credit: FIFA The preparations for the tournament are in full swing. With just a little over a month to go, the excitement is building up and tournament director Javier Ceppi talked exclusively to IndiaToday.in regarding the preparations, ticket sales and more.WATCH VIDEOExcerpts:Q: Take us through the preparations of the U-17 World Cup.A: It’s only a little over one month left for the tournament now but we started a long time back in November 2014. We did an analysis of all the venues. We are extremely happy to say at this point of time, the core infrastructure is in place. The things that are not in place were never going to be, like painting of the stadiums because we don’t want the monsoon to ruin the paint, gardening and landscaping but most of the areas are complete. It looked hard at one point of time but all the stakeholders stepped up their game and it’s looking good as of now.advertisement????Wow, New Dehli!???250,000 visitors to the #FIFAU17WC Trophy Experience!???We can’t wait till the real action kicks off on 6 October pic.twitter.com/6XAU12L1dK- FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 20, 2017Q: What were the reasons for choosing Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata as the venue for the final?A: To be the venue of a final, you have to comply with a number of things. For example, the final is also hosting the referees and for them, two extra training grounds are needed side by side. Kolkata was the only one that could provide us with that. You need five-star hotels close to the stadium because that’s where the FIFA headquarters is going to be and Kolkata hired hotels right next to the stadium. Another thing that we consider very important is the full and unrestricted support of the state government and we got that from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She said that ‘for us FIFA U-17 World Cup is the single most important thing that has happened in the city in terms of sporting events and we will make sure that the tournament happens correctly’. That was the level of support. When they were going for the renovations in the stadium, they didn’t allow the ISL to happen there because it would have impacted the work. Also, the passion of Kolkata was of course taken into consideration and no wonder, that all the seats for the final have been sold out.Q: What about the ticket sales in New Delhi since India is going to be playing here?A: The sales have been good. I don’t think that any other sporting event that has happened in this country has been able to say that three months before the tournament, a 100,000 tickets have been sold. The pattern of purchase of the Indians is much closer to the event. We have kept the ticket prices very affordable because we want the people to come to the stadium. The sales have shaped up nicely but we still appeal to the people of Delhi and Indian football fans to keep purchasing tickets for India matches because there might not be tickets available soon. India are playing in a FIFA World Cup for the first time and it will be a first when the Indian national anthem plays in a FIFA World Cup. We need full stadium for the India matches. Chile won the Copa America because they were playing at home and 47,000 people sang the national anthem before the match. Chile may not have been better player to player but had the drive and the Indian national team needs that drive. It needs to draw from its 12th man, needs that passion from the crowd.Q: How is the Indian team shaping up?advertisementA: India drew against Chile (in the four-nation series of an exposure trip) and that is a massive result. That is the best result of an Indian national team in a long time. Chilean senior side are ranked 7th in the world and they were the runners up from South America. India drawing against them with one player less makes a huge statement. However, results are secondary. It is the first time that India will participate in any FIFA event and the most important thing will be for the team to make the country proud. They need to give their best on the pitch because then even if they lose they’ll know they have given their all.India U-17 national team (Photo Credit: AIFF) Q: Your inputs on the request by the Indian government for an opening ceremony and the reports that FIFA have declined it.A: I want to clarify that it’s not like FIFA has asked the Indian government to not conduct an opening ceremony. What we have said that it’s not a part of the protocol of the U-17 World Cup. We have got the request from the government and we are trying to see how, if at all, it can be accommodated. We have only said that it’s not a usual part of the tournament but the government considers it important so let’s see if we can make it happen. It’s operationally complicated because for the senior World Cup, it’s a single match on the day whereas U-17 have double headers. So it is extremely complicated to match everything with team warm-up sessions and with the matches one by one.In 50 days, ????India will host its first ever FIFA tournament! #FIFAU17WC We can’t wait! https://t.co/18fTgOtGjt pic.twitter.com/n4dZ3oAyGD- FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 17, 2017Q: Your thoughts on the refereeing panel, which will be seeing female referees for the first time but there are no Indians.A: I can’t comment on the choosing pattern because that doesn’t fall under my capabilities I would say. What I can say is it’s historical that there are women referees and it works quite well for the tournament. It’s a huge innovation and we are extremely grateful to FIFA for making it happen.