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103 candidates, including 3 women, file nomination for 6 MLC seats in Karnataka



Bengaluru, May 17 (IANS) As many as 103 candidates, including three women, have filed their nominations for the June 3 election of MLCs from three graduates’ and three teachers’ constituencies in Karnataka, a State Election Commission release on Thursday said.

Thursday was the last date for the submission of nominations.

Among the total 103 candidates, as many as 83 are Independents.

Candidates of the BJP have filed nominations for five seats, and the JD-S for two seats, while the ruling Congress has fielded candidates in all six seats.

The BJP had declared that it would fight the election in alliance with the JD-S, but the latter made its displeasure clear with the BJP’s move to announce candidates for five seats and leave only one seat for it, by fielding two candidates.

It has fielded its candidates in Karnataka South and South-West Teachers’ constituencies. The BJP has also announced ABVP leader E.C. Ningaraju for the Karnataka South Teachers’ Constituency, which was held by the JD-S.

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JD-S leaders are hoping that the BJP candidate will withdraw.

The last date for the withdrawal of candidature is May 20.

Polls for the six MLC posts will take place on June 3, and counting of votes is scheduled for June 6.

The elections were necessitated by the coming retirement of sitting members. The tenure of sitting MLCs Chandrashekar B. Patil (Congress), Ayanur Manjunath (elected on BJP ticket, now joined Congress after resigning), A. Deve Gowda (BJP), Dr. Y.A. Narayanaswamy (BJP), S.L. Bhoje Gowda (JD-S), and Marithibbe Gowda (elected on JD-S ticket, now joined Congress) are ending on June 21.



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Braving rarefied air and cold, Himachal tribals gung ho over casting their votes on June 1




Shimla, May 29 (IANS) Braving rarefied air and cold temperatures, when plains in northern India are reeling under a debilitating heatwave, voters in high-altitude Himalayan hamlets of Himachal Pradesh are gung ho about exercising their franchise on June 1.

A testament to the dedication to keep democracy alive, the world’s highest polling station Tashigang, located at a height of 15,256 feet above sea level, in the Spiti Valley, which is part of the Mandi parliamentary constituency, has 52 registered voters, comprising 30 men and 22 women.

“We are excited to cast our vote for a better future and a better life for generations to come,” remarked Tashigang resident Tenzin Lundup.

“Like the last elections (2022 Assembly polls), the polling station in Tashigang would again record 100 per cent polling,” added first-time voter, Kalzang Rinchen, a postgraduate preparing for exams for a government job.

The Lahaul-Spiti District has the lowest number of electorate — 25,273 — in the state, while Kinnaur has 59,943 voters.

The climatic conditions in these districts are harsh as much of the land falls under a cold desert.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has set up 92 polling stations in Lahaul-Spiti, while in Kinnaur there will be 128 polling stations.

“Polling is a difficult exercise in Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur and Chamba as one-third of the polling booths are located at altitudes above 13,000 feet.

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“The polling material has reached almost all polling stations. In some stations, staff will be airlifted from district headquarters a day before polling,” an election officer told IANS.

He said a majority of polling stations in Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur are connected by road.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines for Kaza, some 320 kms from state capital Shimla, were dropped by a helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on May 27.

The Spiti Valley has 29 polling stations. Thirteen gram panchayats fall in the Spiti Valley, mainly populated by tribals, who are largely Buddhist farmers.

The gram panchayats are Losar, Kibber, Kaza, Langcha, Demul, Lalung, Dhankar, Tabo, Gue, Hal, Khurik, Kungri and Saganam.

Another remote place in the state is the landlocked Pangi Valley in Chamba District. The Saach Pass is the gateway to the picturesque Pangi Valley.

Located at an altitude of 14,500 feet in Chamba District, it’s still closed for motorists after the winter snowfall.

Resident Commissioner Ritika Jindal, the first woman officer to opt for the Pangi posting, told IANS the material for 39 polling stations has reached Killar, the subdivisional headquarters of Pangi, located in the Pir-Panjal range of the Himalayas, via an IAF helicopter.

The Saach Pass, the shortest road link between Chamba town, some 450 km from the state capital, and Killar is expected to reopen in the first week of July.

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The Chask Bhatori and Kulal polling stations are the remotest in the Pangi Valley, where election officials will have to walk a distance of at least 14 km to conduct the poll. The valley last saw snowfall on May 2.

Lahaul-Spiti, along with other remote areas of Kinnaur District and Pangi and Bharmour subdivisions of Chamba District, are part of the sprawling Mandi constituency that covers almost two-thirds of the state.

In Mandi, Congress legislator Vikramaditya Singh, the scion of the erstwhile royal family, challenges actress Kangana Ranaut of the BJP.

A majority of the booths are scattered over rugged, cold and inhospitable terrain and poll officials have to trek hours to reach there.

Locals are largely Buddhist farmers who grow barley, potatoes, wheat and black peas.

Before 2019, the highest polling station was Hikkim (14,400 feet) located close to Tashigang. But in 2019, Tashigang was made a polling station.

The state Election Commission has also decided to set up one of the state’s remotest polling stations at Bara Bhangal in Kangra District at an altitude of over 2,800 metres not accessible by road. It falls in the Baijnath Assembly constituency that is part of the Kangra parliamentary seat.

Situated between the mighty Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges of the Himalayas, Bara Bhangal is considered to be the remotest village with 469 electorates.

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An official with the Election Commission told IANS the polling station of Bara Bhangal has been set up in Bir, where now 310 voters will exercise their franchise.

Owing to the difficult geographical conditions of the area, an auxiliary polling station will also be set up in Bara Bhangal where the remaining 159 voters will cast their votes.

The election official said since most trekking routes leading to Bara Bhangal are blocked by winter snow, helicopter is the only mode of transportation to reach there. However, Bara Bhangal is accessible on foot through the Thamsar Pass, located at an altitude of 4,700 metres.

The state ruling Congress has fielded its veteran and four-time Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma in his new battleground Kangra, the largest Lok Sabha constituency in terms of voters, against Rajiv Bhardwaj of the BJP, which ignored the sitting MP, Kishan Kapoor.

The Swar polling station in Mandi’s Chuhar Valley is located at a distance of 12 km from the road. The valley is infamous for cultivation of opium.

Polling for the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh — Shimla (Reserved), Kangra, Mandi and Hamirpur — is scheduled for June 1.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at



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VK Pandian terms ECI action against top cops as 'unfortunate'




Bhubaneswar, May 29 (IANS) V.K. Pandian, former bureaucrat and close aide of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on Wednesday termed the Election Commission’s action against two senior IPS officers, D.S. Kutey and Ashish Kumar Singh, as “unfortunate”.

On Tuesday, ADGP D.S. Kutey, the Special Secretary to the Chief Minister, was suspended by the ECI for unduly interfering in the conduct of elections in the state.

The ECI also asked the director of AIIMS Bhubaneswar to constitute a special medical board to conduct a health check-up of IGP Ashish Kumar Singh, in charge of the Chief Minister’s security, who has been on medical leave since May 4, 2024.

“It’s very unfortunate that the ECI has taken action against certain officers working in the Chief Minister’s office. The two officers in question are both outstanding officers. Both played key roles in controlling Maoist trouble in Odisha by risking their lives, be it in Gajapati, or Malkangiri. They have been awarded by the highest authorities in the country for their commitment, dedication, and sacrifice,” Pandian said.

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“This is very unfortunate and as per the design of the BJP, which can’t digest its imminent defeat in the hands of the BJD. It can’t stand against the popularity of CM Naveen Patnaik and his sway over the people of Odisha,” he added.

He also accused the ECI of taking action against the two officers at the behest of local BJP leaders.

Voting for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections is being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases from May 13 to June 1.



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Kerala HC rules child must receive love, support from both parents




Kochi, May 29 (IANS) A division bench of the Kerala High Court has said that it is in the best interest of the child to receive love and support from both parents unless proven that one parent is unworthy of custodial rights.

The court while considering a matrimonial appeal first interacted with the minor child (an 11-year-old girl) and found that she had no issues spending time with her father.

It then ruled, “While the court’s duty and responsibility in custody disputes is to ensure that both parents maintain a healthy relationship with the child. Non-custodial parents should have sufficient visitation rights to prevent the child from losing social, physical, and psychological contact with either parent. Only in extreme circumstances should one parent be denied contact, and reasons must be clearly stated if this occurs. Courts are responsible for defining the nature, manner, and specifics of visitation rights to safeguard the child’s continuous connection with both parents. The child’s need for both parents’ company takes precedence over the individual rights of the parents. In assessing custody, the court distinguishes between the child’s wishes and what is genuinely in the child’s best interest, taking into account all relevant circumstances,” said the court.

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The court thus upheld the Family Court’s order of granting visitation and contact rights to the father of the girl besides affirming the overnight custody given to him, who is in the Merchant Navy, for a few days during vacations and during his leave.

Incidentally, it was the mother of the child who approached the High Court after being upset by the Family Court’s decision in the overnight custody rights given to the father, as she pointed out that the child’s emotional and mental well-being will be affected by the execution of the Family Court’s order.

But the child’s father submitted that the daughter is entitled to the love, care and protection of both the parents and argued that the mother has no justifiable reasons to refuse custody rights to the father.

The High Court after going through all aspects pointed out that a child requires love, affection, and company of both parents, which is a basic human right for the child.

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The court further pointed out that children facing parental conflicts could have detrimental effects and long-lasting psychological effects.

“Such action of the fighting parents is unhealthy and deplorable, as it undermines the child’s sense of security and stability, fostering feelings of confusion, guilt, and emotional distress. The child who becomes embroiled in parental conflicts suffers long-lasting psychological effects. It is crucial for parents to recognise the detrimental impact of their disputes on their children and strive to present a united front, prioritizing the child’s need for love and support from both parents,” ruled the court and the matrimonial appeal was dismissed.



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After June 10, special panel to probe Naveen Babu's failing health: PM Modi at Odisha rally




New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday declared that the BJP government, when formed after the election results, will constitute a special committee to probe the failing health of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and also hinted at some conspiracy behind ‘sudden deterioration’ in his condition.

Addressing a public gathering in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj, PM Modi said, “Nowadays, all the well-wishers of Naveen Babu are worried. They are worried to see how Naveen Babu’s health has deteriorated so much in the past one year.”

“After 10th June, when BJP comes to power in Odisha, a special committee will be formed to investigate why Naveen Babu’s health has been on a downslide,” PM Modi told the gathering.

The announcement of a special probe panel comes in the backdrop of a viral video where Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik was seen trembling at a recent poll rally. Patnaik’s video spread like wildfire not because of his speech but because of his shaky demeanour. In the video, BJD leader VK Pandian, believed to be his political heir, was seen grabbing his trembling hand and hiding it from the cameras.

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PM Modi added that people of the state have a right to know what was happening behind the curtains and who was responsible for Naveen Babu’s ill health.

PM Modi also told the crowd that in the last few days, a couple of people close to Naveen Babu met him and expressed serious concerns and added, “They told me that Naveen Babu is no longer able to do anything on his own. Those with old ties with Naveen Babu for a long time believe that there could be a conspiracy behind his deteriorating health.”

The PM also blamed the BJD’s misrule for the state’s laggardness on various parameters of growth and urged the public to put a full stop to its reign.

“I have come here to invite you to attend the swearing-in ceremony of a new BJP chief minister in the state on June 10,” PM Modi said.

He also accused the BJD government of looting public money and sending it to foreign lands.

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“Those who are engaged in looting public money will spend the rest of their lives in jail. This is Modi ki guarantee,” he roared at the rally.



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Army denies scuffle with cops in J&K’s Kupwara (Ld)




Srinagar, May 29 (IANS) The Army on Wednesday rebutted allegations that its soldiers had beaten up some policemen in Jammu & Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

An Army statement said, “An altercation between police and Army personnel and beating up therein of police personnel are misfounded and incorrect. Minor differences between the police personnel and a territorial army unit on an operational matter have been amicably resolved.”

Officials earlier in the day said that a team of soldiers accompanied by an officer had barged into the Kupwara police station and beat up four policemen, including two SPOs and two constables.

The officials also said that the four injured policemen were later admitted to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura in Srinagar city for specialised treatment.

Officials had alleged that the raid of a police team at the house of a Territorial Army soldier had angered the Army after which they barged into the police station.

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Doctors at SKIMS hospital have said the injured policemen are stable, officials added.



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