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Allegations fly thick amid high voter turnout in Barmer

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Jaipur, April 26 (IANS) Allegations and counter-allegations flew thick and fast in the Barmer Lok Sabha constituency that went to the polls on Friday.

The constituency recorded the highest voter turnout among the 13 seats that went to the polls in the state on Friday at 69.79 per cent (provisional figure).

Barmer is witnessing a triangular contest between Union Minister Kailash Chaudhary of the BJP, Congress’ Umedaram Beniwal, and Independent candidate Ravindra Bhati, who is also the MLA from Sheo Assembly constituency.

Bhati made serious allegations against the administration. He said his polling agent was thrown out of the booth in Baytu Assembly. A label was put ahead of my name on the EVM so that I don’t get voted. The vehicles of migrants who came to vote for me were stopped. No matter how many such tactics are used to defeat me, I have made a place in the hearts of my voters. How will you get me out of those hearts?

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In his tweet, he said, “Inside Baytu Assembly, my agents are being thrown out of the booths and a label has been put in front of my name on the voting machine. What kind of democracy is this? After all, under whose pressure is the administration working,” said Bhati on his X account.

However, the Rajasthan police denied his allegations and said that they have received no such complaint.

Bhati questioned the silence of the administration, election commission and the police and said, “The government is trying its best to reduce polling. Many vehicles are being stopped. Many people are being stopped. Whatever we can do, we are doing it. I would like to tell them that the people of Barmer, Jaisalmer and Balotra are strong. You can’t do anything by stopping like this.”

Meanwhile, the Jaisalmer police banned Bhati’s brother from roaming in Jaisalmer constituency.

The police wrote in a post that “the brother of independent candidate Ravindra Singh Bhati, who is not a voter of Jaisalmer, is influencing the voters by roaming in Jaisalmer district. Jaisalmer District Police appeals to the brother of the independent candidate to immediately leave the district.”

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Congress candidate Ummedaram Beniwal said that some outsiders tried to disturb the peace and harmony of That.

“Sheo Vidhan Sabha constituency is known for peace and brotherhood. However the news coming in of manhandling and goondaism each minute is worrying. Outsiders who are miscreants are trying to demolish peace and spirit of brotherhood here,” he added.

Baytu MLA Harish Chaudhary alleged that a Congress agent was manhandled. He charged that a Rajasthan government official has been flouting all norms of democracy. Dalit women have been mistreated in the presence of the IG and were injured. Villagers kept demanding that fake voting should be stopped but no one intervened. He asked the Election Commission to investigate the matter and take action.

–IANS

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Raj Bhavan's communique on oath ceremony of 2 Trinamool MLAs creates confusion

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Kolkata, June 22 (IANS) Confusion has been created over the swearing-in ceremony of two newly elected Trinamool Congress MLAs in West Bengal following a communique from the office of Governor C.V. Ananda Bose.

In the communique sent by the Raj Bhavan to the two Trinamool MLAs, Reyat Houssen Sarkar and Sayantika Banerjee, June 26 has been mentioned as the date of the swearing-in ceremony, but there is no clear mention as to who will administer the oath.

West Bengal Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay claimed the fresh communique breaches the tradition followed for the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected MLAs.

“The message just says that anyone nominated by the Raj Bhavan will administer the oath. This is not only insulting, but also against the protocol,” Chattopadhyay said.

He also questioned the process of forwarding the communique directly to the two MLAs instead of sending it to the Assembly Speaker.

“We will discuss the matter and take decisions as per the directive of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” Chattopadhyay said.

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Although 18 days have passed since Sarkar and Banerjee got elected in the bypolls, their oath ceremony is caught in the middle of a communication gap between the state secretariat and the Raj Bhavan.

Earlier, two communiques were sent from the state Assembly to the Governor’s office for quick completion of the swearing-in process, but Raj Bhavan sources said there was a procedural error as such messages should come from the office of the state Parliamentary Affairs Minister.

–IANS

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Webcasting in all booths to ensure fair elections during Bengal bypolls

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Kolkata, June 22 (IANS) In an attempt to ensure free and fair polling during the Assembly bypolls in four seats in West Bengal on July 10, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to have webcasting facilities at all the polling booths across the four constituencies.

Sources in the office of the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said that in the recent Lok Sabha polls, complaints were received regarding malfunctioning of the webcasting system from some booths.

“Strict instructions have been received to make proper preparations so that the webcasting system remains full-proof at all the booths this time,” said an official in the CEO’s office.

The Election Commission also wants the entire polling process to be conducted under blanket security cover of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), for which 55 companies of CAPF are being deployed.

“The number is quite high considering that only four Assembly constituencies are going to the polls on July 10,” the official said.

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Of the 55 companies, 51 will be deployed at the polling stations while the remaining companies will be kept on reserve.

The maximum deployment (15) will be made in Bagda in North 24 Parganas district, followed by 12 each in Maniktala in Kolkata, Raiganj in North Dinajpur district, and Ranaghat Dakshin in Nadia district.

The results of the bypolls will be announced on July 13.

–IANS

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Meagre MSP may aggravate agrarian crisis in Maha, cautions farm leader

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Mumbai, June 22 (IANS) The recent hike in minimum support prices announced by the Centre is peanuts and could further worsen the agrarian distress in Maharashtra, cautioned a veteran farmer’s leader, here on Saturday.

Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Kishore Tiwari said that the MSP for 2024-2025 announced by the government for certain Kharif crops range from Rs 117/quintal to Rs 983/quintal, compared to the previous year (2023-2024).

Citing the official data of Ministry of Agriculture, Tiwari said that the difference in the new MSP for certain crops over the previous year is: Paddy Common and Paddy Grade A with an increase of Rs 117/quintal each; Moong (Rs 124/q); Bajra (Rs 125/q); Maize (Rs 135/q); Jowar Hybrid and Jowar Maldandi (Rs 191/q); Soyabean (Rs 292/q); Groundnut (Rs 406/q); Ragi (Rs 444/q); Urad (Rs 450/q); Cotton Medium Staple and Long Staple (Rs 501/q each); Tur (Rs 550/q); Sunflower Seed (Rs 550/q); Sesamum (Rs 632/q); and Niger Seed (Rs 983/q).

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“This is nowhere near the recommendations of Dr. M. S. Swaminathan Commission formula of cultivation costs plus 50 percent profits. The new MSP is just peanuts and will fuel the farmlands crisis, already serious with average 8 farmers’ suicides daily in the past few months,” warned Tiwari.

He said that the official figures released by the Centre has not only disappointed the farming community in Maharashtra and elsewhere but has also raised concerns with the fresh drought situation and their existing debt burdens.

Besides, Tiwari said that the farmers are suffering from the impact of global climate change, decline in production, doubling of cost of production and agricultural inputs in the past two-three years, hostile markets and import policy, and ignoring the panels or the farmers representatives before taking the decision on MSP.

He reiterated the demand to implement the Dr. Swaminathan Commission directives in toto to curb the farmland suicides, and announce the fresh MSP to avoid the peasants’ ire in the coming state assembly elections.

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–IANS

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Ahmedabad cops seize drugs valued at Rs 3.5 cr concealed in parcels

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Ahmedabad, June 22 (IANS) The Ahmedabad Crime Branch has busted an international drug smuggling network that used parcels containing clothes and toys to hide and transport narcotics, including liquid drugs and high-quality marijuana.

Officials recovered 58 packets of hybrid marijuana and two bottles of liquid drugs, valued at over Rs 3.5 crore, concealed ingeniously in books, teddy bears, and other children’s toys. The parcels, originating from the US and Canada, were identified and intercepted with the assistance of sniffer dogs and subsequent videography documentation during the unboxing process.

Additional Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Bharat Patel, highlighted the sophisticated methods employed by the traffickers, who leveraged social media platforms to promote and distribute their illicit products.

“The careful monitoring of social media and information from informants has played a crucial role in unmasking this new modus operandi,” said Additional ACP Patel. He also noted the collaboration with the Customs Department, which had suspected such activities.

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The investigation has revealed that the parcels were often addressed to non-existent people at incorrect addresses — a tactic used by the smugglers to evade detection. Known courier companies were manipulated into shipping these parcels. Once the parcels were in transit, accomplices would track them using a unique code, receive delivery details, and intercept the parcels before delivery.

“The operation has not only prevented significant quantities of drugs from circulating on the streets but also helped us identify several individuals involved in the operation, shedding light on a broader network,” added Patel.

The crime branch has registered an FIR and is continuing its investigation to apprehend everyone involved in this intricate smuggling ring.

–IANS

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Invisible foreign forces conspired to prevent PM Modi's third term in office: Shobha Karandlaje

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Bengaluru, June 22 (IANS) Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Shobha Karandlaje, on Saturday said that not only internal forces but “invisible foreign forces” had conspired to ensure that Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not a third term in office.

Addressing a gathering at the felicitation programme of Central ministers and MPs here, the Union Minister, who hails from Karnataka, said: “The foreign forces stood against the BJP during the election. Social media were against us. It was funded by foreign countries. Many countries did not want to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm as the country is set to become one of the powerful countries in the world. The conspiracy was hatched at the international level.”

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on to assume the PM’s office for the third term, defeating the conspiracies, despite the roadblocks and facing all charges against him, she said.

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“This is our strength. This was the conviction of the people of Bharat,” Shobha Karandlaje said.

“The win in the Lok Sabha election is a testimony that the people of the country will win over any war waged against them. The way was clear for us, and the government was formed. Prime Minister Modi’s conviction is to take NDA allies along with the BJP,” she added.

The Union Minister said that in Karnataka, the BJP and JD-S contested polls together and worked jointly.

“There was no difference of opinion in any constituency, and we got good results. We lost a few seats by low margins. In the Kalaburagi seat, the margin was just 25,000. The coming days belong to us,” she said.

“In Karnataka, there is an anti-people, anti-Hindu, and anti-poor government in place. We are constantly targeted here. Immediately after the Congress government came to power, electricity bills shot up, the registration fee was hiked, and there was inflation. The middle and lower-middle class who are paying power bills are made to pay double the amount,” the Union Minister said, criticising the Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government.

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“The government will not be able to pay the salaries of its employees in another two months,” she said.

Saying that the Congress government has already suffered a blow, referring to the tribal welfare board scandal, the Union Minister said: “We need to continue the agitation till we get the resignations of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy, D.K. Shivakumar.”

Talking on the performance of the BJD-JD(S) combine in the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka, the Union Minister said: “Winning 19 seats in Lok Sabha election was not an easy job as the Congress is in power in the state. It had claimed that the BJP wouldn’t cross the single digit mark. But the people of the state have ensured our victory.”

–IANS

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