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Governor invites Shiv Sena to form govt in Maharashtra after BJP pulls out

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The Shiv Sena has been invited by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Sunday to form the government in the state after leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party met him earlier in the evening and informed him of the party’s decision to pull out of the race.

The Governor has given the Shiv Sena time till 7:30 pm on Monday to respond to the invitation to form the government in Maharashtra.

Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut asserted on Sunday that if his party chief Uddhav Thackeray had said someone from his party would become the chief minister in Maharashtra, then there would be a Sena CM in any case.

Earlier on Sunday, caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and other senior BJP leaders met Governor Koshyari and informed him that the party could not stake claim to form the government as ally Shiv Sena was not willing to cooperate.

“We cannot stake claim to form the government as Shiv Sena is not willing to come with us. We have informed this to the governor,” State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil told reporters.

“In the state assembly polls, we contested as part of a grand alliance ‘Mahayuti’ and we got the mandate for this alliance. If Shiv Sena wants to insult this mandate and form the government with Congress and NCP, then we wish them all the luck,” Patil said after the BJP’s second core committee meeting to announce its stand on the Governor’s invitation to form government concluded.

With the political impasse continuing in the state, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has laid down a condition to support the Shiv Sena. Party leader Nawab Malik has said that Sena should first walk out of the NDA if it wants the support of the NCP.

“If the Shiv Sena wants our support, they need to break ties with the NDA. They need to dissociate from the BJP. Their minister in the Central Government (Arvind Sawant) should resign,” Malik said.

On being asked whether he would resign, Union Minister Arvind Sawant said he would abide by the directions given by party chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The newly elected Maharashtra Assembly is a hung house, where the BJP has 105 MLAs, the Shiv Sena has 56, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44 legislators.

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From ex-Prez Pranab Mukherjee, a message on dissent, protests and consensus

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The wave of peaceful protests that have gripped the country shall enable deepening India’s democratic roots, former President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday. Mukherjee’s remarks are seen in the context of protests that started after the ruling NDA coalition at the Centre pushed the Citizenship Amendment Act through Parliament last month. He did not specify the citizenship law in his address but hardly left anyone in doubt either.

“The last few months have witnessed people come out on the streets in large numbers, particularly the young to voice out their views on issues which in their opinion are important. Their (protesters’) assertion and belief in the Constitution is particularly heartening to see,” said Mukherjee.

Mukherjee was speaking at the first Sukumar Sen memorial lecture organised by the election commission. The lecture has been instituted in the memory of first Chief Election Commissioner of India.

The Constitution and the reading of the preamble has been a central and common thread across most protests that erupted in the country after the enactment of the citizenship law.

Critics of the law have stressed that the provision that grants citizenship on the basis of religion of the applicant violates the constitutional principles of equality and secularism. Many of them have also taken their battle against the citizenship law to the Supreme Court which has given the Centre four weeks to respond to the 160-odd petitions that have been filed.

Home Minister Amit Shah has made it clear that the government would not budge on the law. “We are not afraid of protests. In fact we were born amid protests, raised amid protests,” he told a rally in favour of the law in Lucknow.

At Thursday’s lecture, Mukherjee underlined the importance of consensus, describing it as the “lifeblood of democracy”.

“Democracy thrives on listening, deliberating, discussing, arguing, even dissenting,” the former President said.

“It is my firm belief that all these could be achieved because we fiercely upheld and maintained the sanctity and supremacy of elections and the electoral process,” he said.

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches, destroys rocket in astronaut escape test

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SpaceX completed the last big test of its crew capsule before launching astronauts in the next few months, mimicking an emergency escape shortly after liftoff Sunday.

No one was aboard for the wild ride in the skies above Cape Canaveral, just two mannequins.

The nine-minute flight ended with the Dragon crew capsule parachuting safely into the Atlantic, after separating and speeding away from the exploding rocket.

“I’m super fired up,” Elon Musk, the company’s founder and chief executive, told reporters. “It’s just going to be wonderful to get astronauts back into orbit from American soil after almost a decade of not being able to do so. That’s just super exciting.”

NASA astronauts have not launched from the U.S. since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. Musk and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the next Crew Dragon could launch with a pair of NASA astronauts in the second quarter of this year — as early as April.

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off as normal, but just over a minute into its supersonic flight, the Dragon crew capsule catapulted off the top 12 miles (20 kilometers) above the Atlantic. Powerful thrusters on the capsule propelled it up and out of harm’s way, as the rocket engines deliberately shut down and the booster tumbled out of control and exploded in a giant fireball.

The capsule reached an altitude of about 27 miles (44 kilometers) before parachuting into the ocean just offshore to bring the test flight to a close. Everything appeared to go well despite the choppy seas and overcast skies. Within minutes, a recovery ship was alongside the capsule.

Recycled from three previous launches, the SpaceX rocket was destroyed as it burst apart in flight and slammed in pieces into the sea. SpaceX normally tries to recover its boosters to drive down launch costs, landing them upright on a floating platform or back at the launch site.

NASA’s commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders, said the launch abort test was “our last open milestone” before allowing SpaceX to launch Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken to the International Space Station. Their launch date will depend, in part, on whether NASA decides to keep them for months at the orbiting lab, versus just a week or two. A longer mission will require more training before flight.

The astronauts monitored Sunday’s flight from the firing room. Hurley said it was “pretty neat to see” the capsule aboard the recovery ship within two hours. By all early accounts, the test was successful.

“We’ll see what the data show and go from there,” Hurley said. “But it certainly is a confidence builder from the standpoint if you ever got into that situation, that Dragon can get us away from the booster quickly.”

The astronauts also will have access to speed before liftoff. During a launch dress rehearsal Friday, Hurley and Behnken drove a white Tesla Model X from Kennedy Space Center’s crew quarters to the launch pad, their sleek white and black spacesuits matching the electric sports car with wing-like doors. Musk, who also runs Tesla, used the cars to get around the space center Sunday.

Delayed a day by bad weather, Sunday’s launch from Kennedy brought together hundreds of SpaceX, NASA and Air Force employees on land, at sea and in the air. Tourists and locals alike packed the adjoining visitor complex and nearby beaches to see the dramatic fiery spectacle of an out-of-control rocket. Musk brought along his own family, including his brother.

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing a decade ago to transport astronauts to and from the space station for billions of dollars. Both companies struggled with technical problems, adding years of delay and forcing NASA to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars extra for Russian rocket rides.

After multiple cargo deliveries for NASA, SpaceX successfully flew an enhanced crew capsule to the space station last March without anyone on board, but it exploded a month later during ground testing. The emergency escape thrusters — the kind used in Sunday’s test — had to be retooled. In all, SpaceX has tested these powerful Super Draco thrusters some 700 times.

Last month, meanwhile, Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule ended up in the wrong orbit on its first test flight and had to skip the space station. The previous month, only two of the Starliner’s three parachutes deployed during a launch abort test.

Lueders said it’s too soon to know whether Boeing will need to send another Starliner to the space station without a crew or go straight to launching astronauts later this year. An investigation team is still looking into why the Starliner’s automated timer was off by 11 hours during the December test flight.

The importance of launch escape was demonstrated in 2017 when two astronauts, an American and a Russian, were pulled to safety during a failed launch from Kazakhstan. They experienced up to seven times the force of gravity during the abort, but walked away from the accident.

The SpaceX in-flight abort system, Musk pointed out, should be gentler for the crew and is good from the launch pad all the way to orbit.

Musk said the Dragon’s escape system should work — in principle — even if the capsule is still attached when the rocket erupts in a fireball. He said that could look like “something out of ‘Star Wars’” with the capsule flying right out of a fireball.

“Obviously we want to avoid doing that,” he quickly added, taking note of all the NASA personnel around him.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Chandrayaan 2, India-Aus 2001 match in PM Modi’s Pariksha Pe Charcha message

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted the students of the country to learn from failure to become successful in life.

At the third edition of ‘Pariksha pe Charcha’ – Prime Minister’s interaction with students ahead of their exams – he gave the analogy of the unsuccessful launch of Chandrayaan 2, India’s moon mission, last year.

“Some people advised me against going to Chandrayaan mission launch saying ‘there is no surety’, ‘what if it fails?’ I said that is precisely why I should go there. Even I was disturbed by the failure of Chandrayaan 2, but then I went to talk to the scientists and motivated them. I expressed my feelings and praised their hard work and about nation’s dreams. The mood changed, not just there, but across the country,” PM Modi said.

“What happened after that, you all know. Sometimes you can learn from failure,” he added.

He also talked about the 2001 India vs Australia match at Kolkata. Citing the example of Anil Kumble, who was injured during the match but still played and won the match, he said that it depends on us how we deal with the troubles.

He also gave examples of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. “Our team was facing setbacks and the mood wasn’t great. But, we can never forget how Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman turned the match around. This is power of positive thinking and motivation,” PM Modi said.

The programme has been organised by the government as stress-buster for the students, where PM Modi is sharing tips to perform under pressure.

Around 2,000 students from all over the country are participating in the programme; 1,050 have been selected through short essays on five topics.

The programme is being moderated by two students.

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