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Bhiwani-Mahendragarh sees highest turnout in Haryana

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Chandigarh, May 25 (IANS) Haryana on Saturday registered an approximate turnout of 8.31 per cent in the first two hours of polling.

As per the Election Office, the Bhiwani-Mahendragarh seat saw the state’s highest turnout of 10.26 per cent, whereas Faridabad recorded the lowest turnout at 5.46 per cent, followed by 6.20 per cent in Gurugram and 6.92 per cent in Ambala.

A total of 2,00,76,786 voters, comprising 94 lakh women, will decide the fate of 223 candidates, after weeks of heated campaign barbs.

“There has been no report of any delay in starting the poll process,” an electoral officer told IANS here.

The main contest is between the Congress and the state-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The polling will see some high-profile contestants in key battles. Among them are two-time Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who is contesting his first Lok Sabha election from Karnal, Congress leader Deepender Hooda from Rohtak, and Union Ministers Rao Inderjit Singh and Krishan Pal Gurjar.

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Congress has pitted actor Raj Babbar against Rao Inderjit Singh from Gurugram.

Besides the Lok Sabha polls, there is a bypoll for the Karnal Assembly seat, the seat vacated by Khattar, where Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, the outgoing Lok Sabha MP from Kurukshetra, is among the nine candidates in the fray. Saini had replaced Khattar as the Chief Minister in March.

Chief Minister Saini and his predecessor Khattar were among the early voters who cast their votes at their respective polling stations.

While Saini cast his vote in his hometown Naraingarh in Ambala district along with his wife after paying obeisance at a Sikh shrine, Khattar exercised his franchise in Karnal city.

BJP leader and richest Indian woman with $33 billion net worth, Savitri Jindal, whose youngest son Naveen Jindal is also in the fray, cast her vote in her hometown Hisar.

After casting the vote, Savitri told the media that the country has developed at a fast pace under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

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Seemingly confident about the BJP’s prospects in the general elections, she added, “Prime Minister Modi will be elected for a third consecutive term.”

Savitri’s youngest son Naveen Jindal (54) is the BJP’s candidate from Kurukshetra, the seat he represented between 2004 and 2014. Savitri and her son switched from the Congress to the BJP in March, ending their nearly two-decade association with the Congress.

Jindal is taking on AAP candidate and former Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Gupta. The AAP is contesting the Lok Sabha elections in Haryana in an alliance with Congress and has been given Kurukshetra.

–IANS

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Goa reeling under Rs 27,489 crore debt: CM replies in Assembly

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Goa reeling under Rs 27,489 crore debt: CM replies in Assembly

Goa reeling under Rs 27,489 crore debt: CM replies in Assembly

Panaji, July 23 (IANS) With the state reeling under a debt of Rs 27489 crores, the Goa government has decided to restrict expenditure within budgeted revenues, said Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday.

The opposition parties on many occasions have attacked the BJP government for increasing the debt of the state.

While replying to the Legislative Assembly Question (LAQ) by BJP MLA Krishna Salkar, the finance department said that the current total public debt of the state as on June 30, 2024 was Rs.2748904.53 lakhs.

“Restricting expenditure within budgeted revenues, restricting borrowings within FRBM limits and restructuring of high interest loans are the three measures being taken by the finance department to reduce the debt,” Pramod Sawant, who also holds the finance portfolio, said.

According to the data provided by the finance department, the total debt of the state for the financial year 2019-20 was Rs 16894 crore, 2020-21 Rs 20729 crores, 2021-22 Rs 23271 crores, 2022-23 Rs 24619 crore, and 2023-24 Rs 27382 crores.

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To counter the attacks by the opposition parties over borrowings, Sawant had said last year that “We have done such a planning and financial management that after two years, we will not require to take loans. We will have mining revenues, GST collections, excise revenues, and 36 per cent share from the Manohar International Airport at Mopa,”

–IANS

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Budget 2024-25 'exceptional and empowering': Jitendra Singh

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Budget 2024-25 'exceptional and empowering': Jitendra Singh

Budget 2024-25 'exceptional and empowering': Jitendra Singh

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The Union Budget 2024-25, presented on Tuesday in the Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is “exceptional and empowering”, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said.

Calling measures such as “ending of angel tax and introduction of paid internships” as “bold and innovative proposals”, Jitendra Singh said it will boost startups and start-up ecosystem.

“In order to boost the Indian Startup ecosystem, the Union Budget 2024-25 abolished angel tax for investors,” said Singh.

Other proposals like the “increase in Mudra loan limit to Rs 20 lakh, Rs 1 lakh crore for Anusandhan National Research Foundation and planning five times increase in the next 10 years while earmarking Rs 1,000 crore venture fund for space startups all supplement each other to further strengthen India’s startup ecosystem”, he added.

The Union Minister also said that the third term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has nine priority areas as mentioned by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament on Tuesday.

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This includes boosting startups, generating employment, skilling, MSMEs and the middle class.

Another priority area is “employment and skilling” which got a major boost under Prime Minister’s package of five schemes, Jitendra Singh said.

The schemes include innovative initiatives for employment, skilling, and other opportunities for 4.1 crore youth over 5 years. He further added that the first scheme under the PM’s package will provide one month’s wage to all persons entering the workforce.

“The 5th scheme launches a comprehensive scheme for providing internship and apprentice opportunities to youth in top 500 companies to 1 crore youth in five years, in order to promote skilling and apprentice culture,” the Science and Technology Minister said.

Jitendra Singh also noted that nearly 20 lakh youth will be skilled over 5 years, while 1,000 industrial training institutes will be upgraded in hub and spoke arrangements in collaboration with state governments and industries for skill development.

Further, to carry forward the acquired skills and promote self-employment, the model skill loan scheme will be revised to facilitate guaranteed loans up to 7.5 lakh which will help nearly 25,000 students annually, he said.

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Increasing the limit of Mudra loans to Rs 20 lakh from the current Rs 10 lakh for those who have successfully repaid previous loans under the ‘Tarun’ category “marks a revolutionary step to promote entrepreneurship”.

Jitendra Singh noted that to promote women-led development, the Budget allocated more than 3 lakh crore for women’s welfare schemes.

–IANS

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Mamata Banerjee hikes Durga Puja donations for clubs to Rs 85,000

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Mamata Banerjee hikes Durga Puja donations for clubs to Rs 85,000

Mamata Banerjee hikes Durga Puja donations for clubs to Rs 85,000

Kolkata, July 23 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced a Rs 15,000 hike in donations for clubs organising community Durga Puja in the state, from Rs 70,000 last year to Rs 85,000 this time.

The Chief Minister also directed the two power distribution utilities — WBSEDCL and CESC Limited — to increase the concession for power supply to the community Puja committees from 66 per cent last year to 75 per cent this time.

This year, Durga Puja will be celebrated from October 9 to October 13.

As per initial estimates, the total outflow of the dole package will be to the tune of Rs 500 crore, including Rs 365 crore as donations to 43,000 puja committees, out of which around 3,000 are in Kolkata while the remaining are spread across the state.

CM Banerjee also announced that the donation amount will be increased to Rs 1,00,000 for each community Puja committee from next year.

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Some economic analysts feel that such enhancement in annual donations to the community puja committees is a wasteful expenditure, saying the state government should instead concentrate more on asset-creating capital expenditures besides reducing avoidable revenue expenditures.

The cash crunch in the state exchequer was evident in the recent decision of the state government to go for rationalisation of manpower instead of fresh recruitments.

In a report last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) expressed concern over the increase in revenue expenditure in West Bengal resulting in a sharp increase in revenue deficit.

The CAG report also raised questions about the budgetary management of the West Bengal government by pointing out the instances of huge excess expenditure under several grants.

–IANS

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BJP appoints TV journalist Pradeep Bhandari as national spokesperson

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BJP appoints TV journalist Pradeep Bhandari as national spokesperson

BJP appoints TV journalist Pradeep Bhandari as national spokesperson

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday appointed TV journalist Pradeep Bhandari as its national spokesperson.

“BJP President J.P. Nadda has appointed Pradeep Bhandari as the party’s national spokesperson with immediate effect,” said the party in a statement.

Pradeep Bhandari also runs a psephology firm named ’Jan Ki Baat’, which has conducted Opinion and Exit polls during Assembly and general elections.

Bhandari joins the list of 30 BJP national spokespersons headed by Lok Sabha MP Anil Baluni, as mentioned on the party website.

Bhandari, in his previous stints, worked with many news organisations including Republic TV, India News, and Zee News.

–IANS

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Encounter starts in J&K’s Kupwara District

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Encounter starts in J&K’s Kupwara District

Encounter starts in J&K’s Kupwara District

Srinagar, July 23 (IANS) A gunfight started in the forest area of Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) Kupwara District between the security forces and terrorists on Tuesday.

Officials said that the security forces started a CASO (Cordon & Search Operation) in Trumkhan forests of Kupwara District after receiving Intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists there.

“As the security forces came closer to the hiding terrorists, they fired at the security personnel triggering an encounter which is now underway”, officials said.

Earlier on Tuesday, one Army soldier was martyred in Battal area of KG sector in Mendhar Tehsil of Poonch District where the Army foiled an infiltration bid by the ultras.

The operation against the militants is still going on in Battal.

Security forces are aggressively carrying out anti-terror operations after the ultras made their presence felt in the mountainous areas of Jammu Division.

Over 4,000 soldiers including those drawn from the elite Para Commandos and those trained in mountain warfare have been deployed in the hilly areas of Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Reasi and Kathua districts of Jammu division.

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–IANS

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