The National Conference and the Congress on Tuesday alleged that the Election Commission had decided to cancel the Anantnag Lok Sabha byelection to saving the BJP-PDP coalition government in the State from embarrassment.J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president G.A. Mir, the joint candidate of the two parties for the seat, said the failure of the Union and the State governments to conduct the elections showed “how grim and out of control the situation in Kashmir is”.The Congress candidate alleged that the Centre could not provide the security required and adopted dilly-dallying tactics “to save the already dented image of the PDP-BJP government in the State”.Slams alliance“Scrapping of the byelections is a blot on the face of both the State and the Central governments. The PDP-BJP alliance has no moral right to remain in power,” he said. National Conference general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said the cancellation had “put a question mark on EC’s credibility”.At PDP’s bidding“The EC has taken this decision on the recommendation of the coalition government in the State. Earlier, everybody urged the EC to postpone the bypolls keeping in view of the unfavourable atmosphere but they went ahead and later the PDP’s candidate urged the Commission to postpone the election, which was agreed to by the EC,” Mr. Sagar alleged.Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and NC working president Omar Abdullah, blamed Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for the EC’s decision.“This is your legacy Ms. Mufti. Your ‘5% of the people’ have brought J&K back to the early 1990s; yet shamelessly you cling on to power! It’s depressing to see how far we have regressed in Kashmir from the highs of the Assembly polls of 2014 to the cancelled election of 2017,” Mr. Abdullah said.The leader said that in many ways, this was similar to the symbolic victory against India scored by the release of militants for Ms. Mufti’s sister in 1990. “The only things keeping Ms. Mufti in office are her shamelessness and a misplaced sense of pride in Delhi preventing admission of mistake,” Mr. Abdullah said.The EC on Tuesday cancelled the byelections, citing “unfavourable conditions”.Earlier, PDP candidate Tassaduq Mufti had also suggested to the ECI to cancel the upcoming polls. The byelection to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat witnessed violence on April 9, leaving nine civilians dead.Later, the EC postponed the bypolls for Anantnag seat, scheduled for April 12, to May 25. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah won the Srinagar byelection, defeating PDP candidate Nazir Khan by 10,766 votes in an election marked by a low turnout.The constituency, comprising 15 Assembly segments across Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts, saw just 80,000 of the 12.5 lakh voters exercising their franchise.
Saina Nehwal has now set her sights on the World Championship title.”I am now targeting a win at the World Championship. The Worlds is one of the biggest tournaments on the Badminton World Federation ( BWF) circuit,” Saina said, who won the Hong Kong Open on Sunday.The triumphant shuttler returned to Hyderabad from Hong Kong on Monday night.Saina also said that 2011 would be an important year for her. “That’s not only because of the World No. 1 ranking but also due to the fact that it will be an Olympic qualification year. One has to be at one’s best in order to make the cut for the London Olympics,” she said.However, the Indian ace recognises the tough job on her hands. ” I will be playing in a lot more Super Series events in the coming year. This is so since I have to play more often in order to aim for the top ranking,” she said.As regards her ranking, Saina said the world No. 1 spot was not on the top of her agenda. “To become world No. 1 is not my priority right now. I want to win the majors. I will be satisfied even if I am ranked in the top four”.Saina is pretty satisfied with whatever she achieved in 2010. “I won three Super Series titles, one Grand Prix title and the Commonwealth Games gold. I was also conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Padma Shri awards,'” she said.Coming to her lows, Saina said she was disappointed at her quarter- final loss at the Asian Games. “I had trained very hard for the Games and was very disappointed at the loss to Pui Yin Yip. I thought I stood a good chance to win especially after leading in the decider,” she said.advertisementShe also gave credit to coaches Gopi Chand and Baskar Babu for her success in Hong Kong.”The wins over Pui Yin Yip and Wang Shixian were very satisfying. Beating a Chinese in the final is always a happy feeling,” she said, adding, “out of the three Super Series titles, the Hong Kong Open was the toughest and most challenging.” She described her loss at the Asian Games as a result of one of her off days. “It was one of the most disappointing moments of my career,” she said.She said she was ready for the challenge from the Chinese shuttlers. “I have improved my strokes, my smashes are very hard and my overall game has improved a lot,” she said.Chief coach Pullela Gopi Chand said it has been a fantastic year for Saina. “Winning the Hong Kong Super Series, where the best players were playing, is a huge achievement, particularly after coming after the Asian Games. I think it was a great victory,” he said.Gopi warned that there will be more challenges next year. “The Chinese will be waiting to beat her. It will be a tough year. We have to get her ready with more workouts. But what I like about her is that she is ready to take the workload. She has proved we can beat the Chinese. She has shown the way for other Indians,” he said.Baskar Babu, who accompanied Saina to all the three Super Series tournaments, said he was happy to be part of a winning unit. “It was one of the toughest tournaments.I always like her attitude. I was there when she won her first title in the Philippines and now the latest one,” he said.Indian Open inauguratedMeanwhile, the Indian Open, which gets underway in Hyderabad on Wednesday, was inaugurated.While Saina is the top seed on the women’s side, Indonesian Dlouys Rumbyaya gets the top billing in the men’s section.
While most of the cricketing action is happening in Sri Lanka at the World T20, former Australia spinner Stuart MacGill’s surprise presence at a hockey event here on Tuesday turned a few heads.MacGill was here with his long-time friend and Australian hockey captain Jamie Dwyer as the leg-spinner foresees a possible career in managing the Aussie players during the Hockey India League (HIL).MacGill, whose big turning leg-breaks foxed many batsmen during his playing days, is keeping a tab on the action in Sri Lanka and said that if India wins the title for the second time, their spinners, particularly Harbhajan Singh, will have to come good.However, the West Indies, loaded with power-hitters and all-rounders, remain his pick for the World T20 title.”India have a dynamic batting. If India have to win the title, it has to be on the back of their spinners. Harbhajan will be the key because people who can turn the ball are very essential in T20 cricket,” said MacGill, who was part of the Sydney Sixers team which won the T20 Big Bash League last year.MacGill, 41, ruled out any chance of Australia winning their maiden World T20 title as he did not think they have a good enough team to make it to the final. “West Indies have some very dangerous players and they can shake a few people.”Australia, I don’t think, have a good enough team for this format. If they make it to the last four, they should feel they have done enough. They are not as good as other countries,” said MacGill, who played in an era when there was tough competition for a spinner’s place in the Australian team with Shane Warne in the ranks too.advertisementHaving finished his international cricket career, MacGill now wants to associate himself with a sport that he says he has grown up watching. Dwyer, one of the most decorated players in modern hockey, has given him an opportunity to look at avenues other than cricket. “Currently, I am here with my friend Jamie and I am somewhat managing him. My father and most of the members of my family have played hockey at some level or the other,” said MacGill.”I want to help other Australian players during the Hockey India League (HIL).”India’s poor show at the London Olympics came as a huge disappointment for its fans but MacGill believes that India has a lot to give to the world of hockey and HIL will be an opportunity. “At least India’s performance was better than the Beijing Games. Indian hockey isn’t just about India but international hockey as well. Sharing the dressing room with players like Jamie and other top stars will only benefit the Indian players,” said MacGill.