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Constituency Watch: In Maha farm fields, Hatkanangale set for a 4-Musketeer-style duel

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Kolhapur (Maharashtra), April 30 (IANS) Situated in the progressive farming heartland, Hatkanangale Lok Sabha constituency in Kolhapur District of the erstwhile Chhatrapati royal kingdom, has undergone three avatars as a parliamentary seat and will now witness a fierce four-cornered contest.

In the fray are the ruling Mahayuti-Shiv Sena sitting MP Dhairyasheel S. Mane, the Maha Vikas Aghadi-Shiv Sena (MVA-UBT)’s Satyajeet Patil-Sarudkar, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA)’s Dadgonda C Patil and the two-term veteran Swabhimani Paksha’s Raju Shetti, a prominent farmers’ leader.

Shetti was the first MP elected in 2009 after the newly-carved Hatkanangale constituency came into being, and later he also pushed back the first BJP-wave of 2014 to sail through.

However, in 2019, the VBA entered the scene and the (undivided) Shiv Sena nominee easily won it, while ruining the prospects of Shetti.

At present, riding high on his credentials as a farmers’ messiah, Shetti is hoping for his third innings from Hatkanangale in 2024.

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Keen to get the Opposition MVA’s nomination or at least outside backing, he held negotiations with its leaders but there were serious differences on the poll symbol, after which he decided to go solo.

The current MP Mane shrugs off all competition and is preparing to win on the basis of the Mahayuti’s Shiv Sena-BJP-NCP combined strength, and the farmer-friendly policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which have boosted rural development.

Despite flexing the huge peasantry support base he commands, Shetti has willy-nilly admitted that the 2024 Lok Sabha battle won’t exactly be a cakewalk as the poll plank of all four rivals is common.

However, he feels that his own record as a two-time MP is a big plus, aided by the simmering anger in the farming community of Maharashtra and rest of India.

SS(UBT) leader Patil-Sarudkar’s nomination came after Shetti’s talks with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party failed and there was no response even from the other MVA allies Congress-NCP(SP) offering him support. As far as the VBA’s Patil is concerned, this time the party is not in alliance with the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and is likely to be relegated to the sidelines causing little or no damage to the other three contenders, local leaders opine.

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The predominantly rural constituency with a royal past was first established in 1962 as Ichalkaranji, later dissolved in 1977, and again sliced out in 2008 as the present day Hatkanangale.

The seat has six Assembly segments of which one, the Jan Surajya Shakti is supporting the ruling Mahayuti, one is with the Congress, two with NCP(SP) and two have elected Independents.

They are Shahuwadi (JSS MLA Vinay Kore); Hatkanangale-SC (Congress MLA Raju Awale); Islampur (NCP-SP state President and MLA Jayant Patil); Shirala (NCP-SP MLA Mansingh F Naik); and Independents in Shirol (MLA Rajendra Patil) and Ichalkaranji (MLA Prakash Awade).

The Kolhapur region is famed for its chief attraction, the Mahalakshmi Temple and one of the 18 MahaShakti Peethas in India, a reputed garment and uniforms hubs in the country, several forts, lakes and gardens.

–IANS

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

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Union Minister Kumaraswamy holds meeting with HMT officials in B'luru

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Bengaluru, June 22 (IANS) Union Heavy Industries and Steel Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Saturday held a meeting with the top officials of the ailing PSU Hindustan Machine and Tools (HMT) in Bengaluru.

During the meeting, the Minister had discussions with the company’s Chairman and Managing Director Rajesh Kohli, along with other senior officials.

The officials observed demonstrations and received comprehensive information about the company’s activities.

Chairman Rajesh Kohli outlined the various problems HMT was facing, including financial crises, lawsuits, and overall losses.

He stressed the need for the Union government’s intervention to resolve these issues.

In response, Minister Kumaraswamy promised to address these challenges.

Minister Kumaraswamy reviewed details on turnover, net profit, and other key metrics.

He discussed the financial, production, and operational conditions of the company with the officials.

The once-glorious HMT is currently facing significant challenges.

The Minister emphasised the need to strengthen the company and instructed Rajesh Kohli to submit a proposal to the Union government for necessary support.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self-Reliant India) initiative was highlighted as a framework for HMT’s revival.

Minister Kumaraswamy encouraged the officials to adopt this vision and lead the recovery efforts, assuring them of the Union government’s assistance.

The Minister noted that HMT produces tools for the Department of Defence and space programmes, and has manufacturing units across the country.

He suggested that the company should enhance its capacity.

–IANS

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Nine Bangladeshi nationals including 6 women held in Tripura

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Agartala, June 22 (IANS) A total of nine Bangladeshi nationals including six women have been apprehended at the Agartala railway station while they were trying to board trains destined to different parts of the country, including the national capital, the police said on Saturday.

An official of the Government Railway Police (GRP) said that all the nine Bangladeshi nationals, aged between 20 and 45 years, illegally entered Tripura and came to Agartala.

The detained individuals told the GRP officials that they intended to go to Delhi and Bengaluru in search of jobs.

Including the fresh detainees, a total of 55 Bangladeshi nationals have so far been arrested in Tripura in less than two months.

All of them had entered India through clandestine routes, in search of jobs in various parts of the country.

–IANS

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Pre-budget meeting: Rajasthan Dy CM seeks Centre's support for rail, road and energy sectors

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Jaipur, June 22 (IANS) Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister, Diya Kumari, sought the Centre’s support for rail, road and energy projects in the state during the pre-budget consultation meeting held in the national capital on Saturday.

The consultation meeting was chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in view of the forthcoming Union Budget 2024-25.

Deputy CM Diya Kumari urged for an early solution to the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP). She also put forth the proposal for further strengthening the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’, and sought support from the Centre for the project.

The Deputy CM presented the case of three major pending rail projects for the state, which would provide connectivity to remote areas. Besides, she sought construction of national highways in the state to strengthen surface transport.

She said it is important for the state to have a network of roads for connecting the far-off and remote villages.

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Diya Kumari further said that Rajasthan requires appropriate energy development in view of its agriculture, industries and infrastructure development.

The Centre’s intervention is necessary for the state to become self-reliant in the energy arena, she told the Union Finance Minister, urging the latter to provide special assistance to the energy companies in the state, so that their potential could be fully utilised.

The Union Finance Minister has assured that all the demands of Rajasthan would be considered favourably for facilitation, the Deputy CM’s office said in a statement.

–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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