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Festival of democracy enters second leg with 88 Lok Sabha seats across India set to vote

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New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) The election festival is gathering pace in the world’s largest democracy with the stage set for the second phase of voting in the Lok Sabha polls on Friday, covering 88 constituencies across 13 states and Union Territories, spanning the hills of West Bengal to the lush green landscapes of Kerala to the sandy deserts of Rajasthan.

While 89 constituencies were slated to go to polls in the second phase, as per the initial announcement by the Election Commission, voting in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul was advanced to the third phase on May 7 following the death of the BSP candidate in the fray.

Out of the 88 constituencies in the second phase, 73 are general seats, while 6 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 9 for Scheduled Castes (SC).

The voting is slated to commence at 7 a.m. on Friday and will continue until 5 p.m. However, in some places, the polling time for voting may vary as per the local weather. Due to the hot weather conditions, the polling time at several polling centres in several Bihar constituencies has been extended until 6 p.m. to facilitate the voters.

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Among the notable candidates contesting in this phase are Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from Kerala’s Wayanad, where he faces the CPI’s Annie Raja and state BJP chief K. Surendran, Congress’ Shashi Tharoor vs BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar in Thiruvananthapuram, Hema Malini from UP’s Mathura, former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel from the state’s Rajnandgaon, Congress leader D.K. Suresh from Bangalore Rural, and BJP youth leader Tejasvi Surya from Bangalore South, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat from Rajasthan’s Jodhpur, his ministerial colleague Kailash Choudhury from Barmer, and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla from Kota.

This phase will mark the completion of elections in Kerala, where polling will be held for all 20 seats, Manipur, where the remaining part of Outer Manipur will vote, as well as Tripura and Rajasthan, where polling was also held in the first phase on April 19.

It will mark the commencement of elections in Karnataka, where half of the state’s 28 seats, mostly in the southern part of the state, will vote. The seats going to polls in the first phase of elections in the state are Udupi Chikamagalur, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Bangalore Rural, Bangalore North, Bangalore Central, Bangalore South, Chikballapur, and Kolar

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Elections will continue in Assam (Karimganj, Silchar, Mangaldoi, Nawgong, Kaliabor), Bihar (Kishanganj, Purnia, Katihar, Bhagalpur, Banka), Chhattisgarh (Rajnandgaon, Mahasamund, Kanker), Madhya Pradesh (Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Satna, Rewa, Hoshangabad), Maharashtra (Buldhana, Akola, Amravati, Wardha, Yavatmal Washim, Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani), Rajasthan (Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, Ajmer, Pali, Jodhpur, Barmer, Jalore, Udaipur, Banswara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Bhilwara, Kota, Jhalawar-Baran), Tripura’s Tripura East, Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, and Mathura, and West Bengal’s Darjeeling, Raiganj, and Balurghat.

Polling will also be held in J&K’s Jammu seat.

According to the Election Commission, in this phase, more than 1.6 lakh polling officers have been deployed at 167,000 polling centres to facilitate the casting of ballots by 15.88 crore voters.

These include 3.48 lakh first-time voters, and 3.28 crore young voters aged between 20 and 29.

On the other hand, there are 14.78 lakh registered voters aged 85 years or above, 42,226 voters aged over 100 years, and 1.47 lakh differently-abled voters, who have been provided with the option to cast their votes comfortably from their homes.

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Out of 1,202 candidates in the fray, 1,098 are male, 102 are female, and 2 are of the third gender.

To facilitate the movement of polling and security personnel, four helicopters, three special trains, and around 80,000 vehicles have been deployed.

Along with the deployment of micro-observers at all polling centres, webcasting will be done at over 50 per cent of the polling centres, with more than 1,00,000 polling centres expected to be webcasted.

A total of 251 observers (89 general observers, 53 police observers, and 109 expenditure observers) have already arrived in the constituencies they were deployed to a few days before the polling day.

–IANS

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Rajasthan: Hospital's registration cancelled after doc removes wrong kidney

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Jaipur, May 29 (IANS) The Rajasthan government on Tuesday took action in a case in which a doctor removed the functional kidney of a patient instead of the non-functional one by cancelling the registration of the hospital with immediate effect.

The state government has also initiated the process to cancel the empanelment of the hospital in various government health schemes.

Additional Chief Secretary in the Medical and Health Department, Shubhra Singh, said that a serious case of removal of the left kidney of a female patient instead of the right kidney had come to light at the Dhankar Hospital in Jhunjhunu.

“Taking the matter seriously, the Medical and Health Department has taken strict action against the hospital. The clinical establishment registration of the hospital has been cancelled with immediate effect.

“Action is being taken to cancel the empanelment of the hospital from different schemes of the Rajasthan government. Besides, the action to seize the hospital is also under process,” Singh said.

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She added that as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court, a five-member investigation team has been formed to probe the matter.

–IANS

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Mani Shankar Aiyar stirs new row by terming 1962 Chinese invasion 'alleged', BJP hits out at Congress

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Tuesday landed his party in a fresh row by terming the 1962 Chinese invasion “alleged”.

“In October 1962, the Chinese allegedly invaded India,” he said at the release of Kallol Bhattacherjee’s book ‘Nehru’s First Recruits: The Diplomats Who Built Independent India’s Foreign Policy’ at the Foreign Correspondents Club here.

The BJP hit out at the Congress over the latest gaffe of its senior leader, who has frequently left his party embarrassed with his outspoken remarks against PM Narendra Modi to his views on Pakistan, asking it to explain its “love for the Chinese”.

BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya said in a post on X: “Mani Shankar Aiyar, speaking at the FCC, during the launch of a book called Nehru’s First Recruits, refers to Chinese invasion in 1962 as ‘alleged’. This is a brazen attempt at revisionism.

“Nehru gave up India’s claim on permanent seat at the UNSC in favour of the Chinese, Rahul Gandhi signed a secret MoU, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation accepted funds from the Chinese Embassy and published reports recommending market access for Chinese companies, based on them, Sonia Gandhi’s UPA opened up Indian market for Chinese goods, hurting MSMEs and now Congress leader Aiyar wants to whitewash the Chinese invasion, post which the Chinese have been in illegal occupation of 38,000 sq km of Indian territory.

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“What explains Congress’s love for the Chinese?”

Later, in a brief statement, Aiyar, who had also recounted that his entry into the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) was reversed after reports that he, studying in the UK then, was engaged in fund collection for the Chinese making him rush to India to clarify matters, said, “I unreservedly apologise for having mistakenly used the word ‘alleged’ before ‘Chinese invasion’ at the Foreign Correspondents Club this evening.”

–IANS

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Incessant rain hits normal life, connectivity in Manipur; multiple areas flooded

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Imphal, May 28 (IANS) Incessant heavy rain, triggered by Cyclone Remal and the deep depression over the Bay of Bengal, inundated several areas, including cropland, in Manipur and disrupted movement on several important highways on Tuesday, officials said.

Officials said that at least five districts – Imphal East, Imphal West, Kangpokpi, Senapati, and Jiribam – were badly affected by the non-stop rains and landslides in multiple locations.

Major roads, including the Imphal-Silchar National Highway (NH 37), were also inundated or blocked due to huge landslides, paralysing traffic.

According to officials, a goods-laden truck was swept away and fell into a deep gorge on the NH-37 while several other trucks were stranded, waiting for excavators to clear the debris, officials said.

Many rivers, including the Imphal River, are overflowing and flood waters have entered several localities, homes and important institutions including the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal.

However, no death or injury has been reported in the heavy rain, which may continue till Wednesday.

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Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, in a post on his X handle, said: “One gate of the Ethai Barrage has been opened for 30 cm. We are closely monitoring the situation, and any further openings will be done in consultation with the Water Resources Department (WRD) and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC). Our official teams are working tirelessly around the clock to manage this situation effectively and ensure the safety of the people.” The barrage impounds the Manipur River just below the confluence of the Imphal River and the Tuitha River south of Loktak Lake and is part of the Loktak Hydroelectric project that supplies hydropower to the seven Northeast states.

In view of the prevailing bad weather, the Manipur government has ordered all schools to be closed for three days from Wednesday.

“In view of the widespread destruction and inconveniences caused to many households and installations across the state due to incessant rain and floods that followed and in anticipation of the same in the following days, and keeping in mind the safety of the students and teachers of the state, all schools of the state would remain closed,” an official order said.

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It said that during this period, all activities at the schools, including the admission process, should not be taken up.

–IANS

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72.44 per cent polling in Telangana MLC by-election

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Hyderabad, May 28 (IANS) The final voter turnout in Monday’s by-election to the Telangana Legislative Council from the Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda graduates’ constituency was 72.44 per cent, election officials said on Tuesday.

Out of 4,63,839 voters, 3,36,013 cast their votes in the constituency spread over 34 Assembly segments in 12 districts.

Among the districts, Yadadri Bhongir recorded the highest polling at 78.59 per cent. The lowest, at 67.62 per cent, was in Khammam district.

According to poll officials, 68.65 per cent of voters cast their votes by 4 p.m., when the polling came to an end. However, those standing in queues were allowed to cast their votes.

The Election Commission had set up 605 polling centres with the highest (118) in the Khammam district.

A total of 52 candidates were in the fray for the by-election but the main contest was among the Congress, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates.

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The vacancy arose after Palla Rajeshwar Reddy of the BRS resigned following his election to the Assembly from the Jangaon constituency in the November 2023 polls. He was elected as MLC in the election held in 2021.

The ruling Congress, which has 33 out of the 34 MLAs in the graduates’ constituency, fielded Chintapandu Teenmaar Mallanna, who had contested as an independent and finished second in the 2021 election. He is locked in a three-cornered contest with Rakesh Reddy of the BRS and G. Permender Reddy of the BJP.

Counting of votes will be taken up on June 5, a day after counting of votes polled in Lok Sabha elections.

–IANS

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Sizzling Rajasthan: Churu breaches 50-degree C mark, Pilani reels at 49-degree C

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Jaipur, May 29 (IANS) Pilani in Rajasthan on Tuesday recorded the highest ever maximum temperature at 49-degree Celsius, while Churu sizzled at 50.5-degree Celsius to become the hottest place in the state on Tuesday.

The previous highest maximum temperature recorded in Pilani was 48.6-degree Celsius on May 2, 1999. Churu’s all-time highest maximum temperature recorded so far is 50.8-degree Celsius on June 1, 2019.

Many cities in the state recorded a maximum temperature of over 45-degree Celsius. In Ganganagar, the mercury soared to 49.4-degree Celsius, followed by Phalodi (49), Bikaner (48.3), Kota (48.2), Jaisalmer (48), Jaipur (46.6), and Barmer (46).

Meanwhile, Met department officials said that the maximum temperature is likely to drop by 2 to 4-degree Celsius in most parts of the state in the next 48 hours. There is a strong possibility of relief from the ongoing severe heat wave in the state from May 31 onwards.

–IANS

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