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‘Ab ki baar, 10 lakh paar’ is Varanasi’s clarion call for PM Modi’s third victory

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Varanasi (UP), May 27 (IANS) The people of Varanasi have decided that they will gift Prime Minister Narendra Modi his third-straight victory from the Lok Sabha seat with a bigger margin of votes and they have given the clarion call of ‘Ab ki baar, 10 lakh paar.’

A young BJP worker, Aditya Singh, sums up the sentiments of the people of the constituency when he remarks, “The political heavyweights who are flocking to Varanasi, actually need not do so. They are here only to mark their attendance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not need any campaigning. Unka naam hi kafi hai.”

In the last few days, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Ministers Brajesh Pathak and Keshav Maurya, along with BJP President JP Nadda have campaigned here.

While these bigwigs have been interacting with students, traders, artisans, weavers etc. the people of Varanasi – on their own – are campaigning for PM Modi.

For instance, the Gujarati community held rituals that lasted several days to pray for a bigger victory margin for the PM.

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Music recitals and dance performances by artists from across the country, particularly southern India, serve as a reminder of the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam that the PM launched in 2022 to foster a cultural connect.

BJP spokesperson KK Sharma said, “Varanasi has witnessed a remarkable makeover in the last ten years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done much more than what he promised. The cultural scene is relatively vibrant. Infrastructure is better. Tourist footfall has increased manifold. The law and order has improved. It was a city that stayed indoors after dusk. Today, you will find people queuing up for the morning darshan and aarti from 2.30 A.M. onwards.”

A local SP leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told IANS, “PM Modi has turned Varanasi from a domestic tourist destination to an international tourist attraction. So many Heads of State have visited the city and the footfall of foreign tourists is increasing by the day. We are contesting against him because it is a democratic compulsion but nothing actually matters when he is in the fray.”

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The electoral battle in Varanasi, according to locals and political experts, is not about whether PM Modi will win for a third-successive time, but whether he will increase his share of the votes polled and his victory margin and to what extent.

“The people are chanting ‘10 lakh paar’ and everyone is excited to set this target for the Prime Minister this time. It will be our tribute to him,” said Lokesh Mazumdar, a local businessman adding that the people are treating the elections as a celebration of sorts.

PM Modi had secured 56.37 per cent of the votes polled in Varanasi in 2014 when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had challenged him.

In 2019, his vote share increased to 63.6 per cent. Interestingly, the number of contenders for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, which was 42 in 2014 and 26 in 2019, is only eight in 2024.

According to the Election Commission’s website, as many as 55 people filed their nominations, but only the papers of eight contestants were accepted.

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He further said, “People are keenly observing the political landscape. The Congress candidate Ajay Rai, who is a part of the INDIA bloc, and BSP’s Ather Jamal Lari, are merely working to put up a decent fight. They also know that they are nowhere near the victory post.”

The Opposition campaign in Varanasi is tepid. Their supporters claim that it was more vigorous in localities and nearby villages known to be supporters of the SP, BSP and the Congress.

The INDIA bloc is also trying its utmost on a seat where the result appears to be a foregone conclusion.

The Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi and the SP’s Dimple Yadav held a roadshow on Saturday. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi are scheduled to address a rally later this week, but though they are drawing crowds, it is unlikely to have any impact on the results.

The enthusiasm and excitement in Varanasi, in fact, is bound to have a cascading impact across Purvanchal.

–IANS

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Karnataka govt orders probe into MUDA land scam ahead of monsoon session

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Bengaluru, July 15 (IANS) The Karnataka government has ordered a probe into the Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) land case by a single-member commission headed by retired Justice of the High Court P. N. Desai, allegedly involving Chief Minister Siddaramaiah,

The government announcement has come ahead of the monsoon session which will begin from Monday and has asked the committee to submit its findings within six months after completing the probe.

The order said that the allegations regarding the allotment of sites have come to the government’s attention and have been reported by the media.

“The decision was made under Sub-rule 1 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. The inquiry commission is empowered to investigate under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, and the Code of Civil Procedure,” the government order reads.

The opposition has been demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and to handover the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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“The Urban Development Department and MUDA are directed to provide all documents and information to the commission and also to provide the services of technical, economic, and administrative experts,” the order reads.

It further underlines that the concerned officers attached to the Urban Development Department and MUDA must be present during the investigation and provide all documents, files, and other required materials, ensuring full cooperation.

Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Steel H.D. Kumaraswamy has made an appeal to the legal fraternity to seek consent for the prosecution of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah from Governor T.C. Gehlot in connection with the alleged irregularities in Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) and the tribal welfare Board.

Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Pralhad Joshi had accused Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of being “directly involved” in the Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) land scam.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had said that he is being targeted regarding the MUDA land case as he hails from a backward class.

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“I am being targeted as I hail from the backward class. The agitation against me is political but I am capable of countering it,” the Chief Minister had said.

The MUDA controversy is primarily over the purchase, de-notification, gifting, encroachment, and awarding of alternative sites in connection with 3.16 acres of land owned by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s wife B.M. Parvathi.

The BJP has alleged a loss of about Rs 4,000 crore to the government by alleged fraudulent allotments.

–IANS

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Telangana launches distribution of safety kits for toddy tappers

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Hyderabad, July 14 (IANS) The Telangana government on Sunday launched the distribution of safety kits for toddy tappers from the Goud community.

Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy launched the distribution of the ‘Katamayya Raksha Kavacham’ or safety kits at Lashkarguda village at Abdullapurmet on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

As many toddy tappers are losing lives or sustaining serious injuries after falling from trees while extracting toddy, the government has come out with a scheme to distribute safety kits.

Under the initiative by the Telangana State BC Corporation, specialised safety kits have been designed specifically for toddy tappers. These kits, developed in collaboration with IIT Hyderabad and a private company, integrate modern technologies to prevent accidents. With advanced safety features tailored to the specific needs of rope climbers, each kit includes six essential devices: ropes, clips, handles, a sling bag, and leg loops.

Revanth Reddy said that the government is committed to extending assistance to people who rely on traditional occupations. He claimed that the Goud community supported and campaigned for Congress to come to power in the elections. “Goud brothers also propagated that the respect of weaker sections will be enhanced only if the Congress comes to power in Telangana. Gouds are known for their fighting spirit and their robustness,” he said.

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The Chief Minister also said that the government will not object to growing palm and Indian date palm trees on the government lands.

He suggested to Excise Minister Jupally Krishna Rao to take up the plantation of palm and Indian Date plam under the Vanamahotsavam programme. An initiative is also proposed to plant such trees on the banks of water bodies, roads, ponds, and canals.

The Chief Minister claimed that the Congress government is striving for the upliftment of the weaker sections. “YSR regime introduced the fee reimbursement scheme for weaker sections. Our government is committed to continuing the fee reimbursement scheme,” he said, adding that the government is committed to protecting the culture of the Goud community.

Appealing to the community to provide higher studies to their children to make them reach higher levels, he said: “They should also participate in rebuilding the Telangana state. Your children should grow as lawmakers. Education is the only weapon for weaker sections to become rulers.”

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The Chief Minister, Assembly Speaker G. Prasad, and ministers also participated in a community lunch with the Goud community.

–IANS

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Coast Guard recovers body of missing fisherman from Bay of Bengal

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Kolkata, July 14 (IANS) The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has carried out a successful operation and recovered the mortal remains of a fisherman who recently went missing from a trawler in the deep seas off the West Bengal coast.

Fisherman Mohan Majhi (50) was on board the Indian Fishing Boat (IFB) ‘Jai Baba Lokenath’ that is registered at Diamond Harbour in the South 24-Parganas district of West Bengal.

He went missing on Thursday before the trawler returned to the harbour. The boat owner approached the ICG District Headquarters in Haldia around 7:30 p.m. on that day and requested officials to carry out a search for Majhi.

ICG Ship (ICGS) Kamla Devi was immediately deployed to the area where the fisherman went missing.

Braving rough seas, ICGS Kamla Devi carried out a sustained search operation in the area and sighted Majhi’s decomposed body. The body was taken on board the Coast Guard vessel where a medical team inspected it, officials said on Sunday.

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The ship then left for Haldia. After berthing there, the body was handed over to the local police on Saturday in the presence of family members and the boat owner, they added.

The recovery of the body will bring closure to the case for the bereaved family and allow them to overcome several legal hurdles regarding insurance claims and compensation.

–IANS

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Maha issues notification on free travelling facility to senior citizens

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Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) The Maharashtra government on Sunday issued a notification on free travelling facilities to important pilgrimage sites across India by senior citizens of all faiths.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde recently announced that the Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojana will be implemented for the senior citizens of the state to visit various pilgrimage sites across the country.

The scheme includes 73 pilgrimage sites in India and 66 from Maharashtra state. Nearly all the important pilgrimage sites are included in the scheme.

The eligible senior citizens will get the benefit of this scheme to visit one of the pilgrimage sites mentioned under this scheme. Similarly, the maximum amount per head towards travelling allowance will be Rs 30,000. This will include actual travelling, meals, lodging and other important expenses.

The annual income of the beneficiary should be less than 2.50 lakh and the beneficiary should be a resident of Maharashtra state and should be a senior citizen above 60 years of age.

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For taking the benefit of the scheme the applicant will have to apply online.

The beneficiaries will be selected by the committees appointed at the district level. The quota will be decided on the basis of the population of the district and the beneficiaries will be selected by a lottery method from the applications received. Beneficiaries who are above 75 years of age will be permitted to travel with their spouse or any assistant.

A 17-member committee led by the Social Justice Minister had been formed to monitor and review the scheme at the state level.

A seven-member committee under the chairmanship of the guardian minister will be looking into the matter at the district level.

The Assistant Commissioner of the Social Welfare Department will be the member secretary, whereas at the state level, the Social Welfare Commissioner will be working as the Nodal Officer.

“The state government is leaving no stone unturned for fulfilling the dreams of the poor, downtrodden and destitute citizens of the state. We are satisfied that we will be getting the blessings of the senior citizens. This will definitely provide energy and inspiration to the government,” the Chief Minister said.

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–IANS

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Assam slowly emerging out of flood crisis, two more deaths, 6 lakh people still affected

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Guwahati, July 14 (IANS) With waters receding, the overall flood situation in Assam improved on Sunday even as two more deaths were reported from the Karimganj district and over 6 lakh people remain affected in 18, or over half, of the state’s 35 districts, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said.

According to ASDMA officials, with the two fresh deaths, as of Sunday, at least 93 people died due to the current flood in 23 districts and around 10 more people died due to landslides and other calamities after the monsoon rain started early last month.

The highest number of deaths (22) were reported from Cachar district in southern Assam.

According to the ASDMA officials, the number of flood-affected people has sharply come down from over 24.20 lakh in 30 districts as of July 5.

Flood water is still submerging 5,367 hectares of crop area in 1,342 villages in 18 districts while over 2.83 lakh domestic animals have also been badly affected.

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Of the 18 flood-affected districts, Dhubri, Cachar, Dhemaji, Darrang, Goalpara, and Golaghat are still badly hit.

The Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level at Neamatighat, Tezpur, and Dhubri, while Burhidihing and Disang rivers are also flowing above the danger level in a few areas.

ASDMA officials said over 30,000 people are sheltered in the 172 relief camps set up by the district administrations, while 32 relief distribution centres are functioning in different districts.

The flood water also submerged the vast areas of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR). The Forest and Wildlife Department workers have so far rescued 143 wild animals while more than 196 animals, including deer, rhinos, and hog deer, have drowned in flood waters.

–IANS

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