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Congress' 'Nyay' strikes a chord in Maharashtra's 9 SC/ST seats; MVA bags 8, MahaYuti one

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Mumbai, June 6 (IANS) The Congress’ ‘nyay’ (justice) narrative apparently struck a chord among Maharashtra’s Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes voters as the Maha Vikas Aghadi won 8 out of 9 reserved Lok Sabha seats while the ruling MahaYuti bagged one in 2024 elections.

The reserved LS constituencies in Maharashtra are — Amravati, Ramtek, Latur, Solapur and Shirdi (all SC), and Nandurbar, Palghar, Dindori and Gadchiroli-Chimur (all ST).

In the 2024 LS polls, the Congress bagged Solapur-SC (Praniti Sushilkumar Shinde), Amravati-SC (Balwant Wankhade), RAmtek-SC (Shyam Barve) and Latur-SC (Dr. Shivaji Kalge); plus Gadchiroli-Chimur-ST (Dr. Kirsan Namdeo) and Nandurbar-ST (Govaal Padavi).

The MVA allies Shiv Sena (UBT) bagged the prestigious Shirdi-SC (Bhausaheb R. Wakchaure) and Nationalist Congress Party (SP) won Dindori-ST (Bhaskar Bagare).

On the MahaYuti, the Bharatiya Janata Party could trump only in Palghar-ST (Dr. Hemant Savara) — down from the five reserved seats it had won in 2019.

The Nandurbar (ST) was a prestige seat as it was once an all-time Congress stronghold which was swept in the BJP waves in (2014-2019) and in 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi campaigned here.

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Incidentally, in 2014 and 2019, the Congress had scored a zero in the nine SC-ST seats in the state but this time the party’s narrative of ‘nyay’ and potential Constitution change hugely turned the tide in its favour, while Rahul Gandhi had passed through Nandurbar in March during his second Bharat Jody Nyay Yatra.

The Nandurbar seat has always remained important for the Congress which used to launch its state poll campaigns here, starting with the late PM Indira Gandhi and then her son Rajiv Gandhi.

Later, Sonia Gandhi addressed her maiden rally as the Congress ‘Top Boss’ here in 1998, while Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi have regularly campaigned here.

When the UPA came to power in 2004, the then PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi had zeroed in on the tiny Tembhli village of Nandurbar to launch the Unique Identification Authority of India on September 29, 2010, and a local villager was assigned the first Aadhaar Card – which is now a mandatory document for all citizens.

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The Amravati (SC) win was also crucial as the Congress defeated BJP’s sitting (earlier, independent) MP Navneet R. Rana in a tough fight, and ditto in Gadchiroli-Chimur (ST) where the Congress dislodged 2-time BJP MP Ashok Nete.

In Ramtek (SC), the Congress experienced hiccups when its original nominee Rashmi Barve’s nomination was rejected owing to a Caste Certificate issue, and her husband Shyam Barve was forced to contest, but he vanquished ruling Shiv Sena’s Raju D. Parve.

Similarly, the Dindori (ST) win was a morale-booster for NCP (SP) which defeated the sitting BJP MP and Union Minister Bharti Pawar — who was among the 3 Central BJP ministers who were trounced in the state.

The famed pilgrim town of Shirdi (ST) proved a sweet revenge for Shiv Sena (UBT), which wrested it from ruling Shiv Sena’s two-time sitting MP Sadashiv K. Lokhande.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

–IANS

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Approve and allocate funds for Chennai Metro Rail Phase 2 project: TN Finance Minister

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Chennai, June 22 (IANS) Approval of the Union government for the second phase of the Metro rail project, allocation of more infrastructure projects and funds to the state, permission to borrow more, and release of funds towards disaster relief are what Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu urged the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday.

Thennarasu speaking at the pre-budget meeting of the State Finance Ministers called by Sitharaman in Delhi said the Chennai Metro Rail Phase 2 was announced by the Union Finance Minister in her Budget speech of 2021-22 as a Central sector project for Rs 63,246 crore.

“While this project has been recommended by the Public Investment Board (PIB) on August 17, 2021, it is awaiting approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for the last three years. Pending this approval, the entire expenditure is being borne by the state from its funds. The delay in approval is making a severe impact on our state finances and has slowed the pace of implementation of this project, causing hardships to the people of Chennai,” the State Finance Minister said.

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He urged the Union government to immediately give its sanction for the project as originally envisaged and provide adequate funds in the Union Budget 2024-25.

Referring to the two memoranda submitted to the Union government seeking Rs 37,906 crore as disaster relief, Thennarasu said the Union government has released a meagre Rs 276 crore.

He said the releases from the National Disaster Relief Fund are legitimate dues to the states and requested an allocation of Rs 3,000 crore in the upcoming budget to Tamil Nadu to undertake necessary restoration works.

Thennarasu also said the Union government’s various cesses and surcharges, as a percentage of gross tax revenue, have increased from 10.4 per cent in 2011-12 to 20.28 per cent in 2022-23.

He requested the Union government to merge them into the basic rates of taxation so that the states receive their legitimate share in devolution.

Thennarasu also urged the Union government to provide 50 per cent of the cost for centrally sponsored schemes as the unit cost has gone up and the state governments have to bear the remaining cost.

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The Tamil Nadu Finance Minister also said the Union government should exclude the loans taken by state governments for taking over losses of state power distribution companies from the calculation of fiscal deficit and borrowing ceilings of the state, similar to the UDAY scheme of 2015.

According to him, the calculation of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) to fix the borrowing ceiling is repeatedly underestimated resulting in a loss of borrowing space of around Rs 8,500 crore in the last four years.

Amid a situation where the fiscal autonomy of states to raise resources through taxes is curtailed after GST and when the burden of expenditure is being shifted onto states, restrictive control over borrowing can have a debilitating impact on state finances, Thennarasu said.

According to him, the Union government should make suitable adjustments for any underestimation or overestimation in the calculation of GSDP in the subsequent year.

–IANS

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J&K L-G chairs security review meeting ahead of Amarnath Yatra

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Jammu, June 22, (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday chaired a high-level security and review meeting in Jammu with the senior officials of all 10 districts of the division.

“The Lt Governor reviewed the overall security scenario in the region. He called for close synergy between the security forces, civil and police administration to dismantle the entire terror ecosystem. He said the terrorists and those aiding and abetting them should be neutralised on priority,” an official said.

The Lt Governor also took stock of the development projects and the progress achieved on saturation of social welfare and other government schemes.

The meeting also discussed the preparations ahead of the Amarnath Yatra and important matters related to security, traffic management, essential facilities for yatris on the route, lodging, among other subjects.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary, Atal Dulloo, on Saturday visited Yatri Niwas Bhagwati Nagar in Jammu and sought a detailed review of all the arrangements for the forthcoming yatra.

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During the visit, the Chief Secretary also chaired a meeting with senior officials of district administration.

“During the meeting, the Chief Secretary passed on specific directions to heads of various departments to make elaborate arrangements in advance for the successful conduct of the yatra.

He emphasised the importance of maintaining a high level of sanitation as well as cleanliness in the camp for a safe and comfortable experience for the devotees,” an official said.

“The Chief Secretary underlined that Amarnath holds immense religious significance, and it is our responsibility to provide a secure and comfortable environment for the pilgrims. He urged all the stakeholders to work in close coordination to ensure smooth conduct of Yatra and extend all possible support to the devotees,” the official added.

He further directed all concerned departments to take every possible measure to make Amarnath Yatra smooth, safe and hassle-free for devotees.

During his visit, the Chief Secretary took stock of logistics, food and lodging for the pilgrims, security, langer stalls, power and water supply, health facilities, sanitation, transportation, deployment of health and sanitation staff, and emergency services and other facilities for the smooth facilitation of pilgrims.

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–IANS

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Tripura police rescue three 'missing' minors

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Agartala, June 22 (IANS) Three minors, who reportedly fled from their homes, were rescued by the police on Saturday a day after they went ‘missing’ in Tripura’s Khowai district.

The police in Dharmanagar in North Tripura district said that after getting a tip-off from their counterparts in Khowai district, a search operation was launched and the three minors, including a girl, were rescued while they were trying to reach neighbouring Assam by road.

The police have handed them over to their parents after completing the formalities.

The three minors, all under the age of 16, reportedly had some issues with their parents due to which they fled from their homes in Khowai district.

–IANS

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Punjab CM announces to set up Bhagat Kabir Dham

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Hoshiarpur (Punjab), June 22 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday announced to set up Bhagat Kabir Dham to conduct extensive research on the life and philosophy of the doyen of the Bhakti movement.

Addressing the gathering during the state-level function to mark 626th Parkash Utsav of Bhagat Kabir here, the Chief Minister said the 15th century mystic poet and saint Bhagat Kabir had shown a way of life to the people, adding this ‘dham’ would act as a pivotal for research on his life.

He said the life and philosophy of the great mystic poet has always inspired people towards rightful living, adding that people should follow in the footsteps of Bhagat Kabir for carving out a progressive, prosperous and harmonious society.

Mann said the need of hour is that unity, communal brotherhood and peace should be maintained by all means by following the ideals of Bhagat Kabir.

Mann said the government is making concerted efforts for rejuvenating the health and education system in the state.

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He said till now sending his child to a government school was the compulsion of the common man but within six months it will be his wish to do so as the education system is being revamped.

The Punjab Chief Minister said the Schools of Eminence have been set up across the state to impart quality education to students.

–IANS

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NEET-PG postponed amid paper leaks row

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The Centre on Saturday announced the postponement of NEET-PG, which was scheduled to be held on June 23, amid the recent allegations regarding the integrity of certain competitive examinations.

The fresh date of the examination will be notified at the earliest, the Union Health Ministry said.

“Taking into consideration, the recent incidents of allegations regarding the integrity of certain competitive examinations, Ministry of Health has decided to undertake a thorough assessment of the robustness of processes of NEET-PG Entrance Examination, conducted by National Board of Examination for medical students,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said that the decision has been taken in the “best interests of the students and to maintain the sanctity of examination process”.

–IANS

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