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Gujarat: AAP, Cong reach seat-sharing deal; Ahmed Patel's son misses out on Bharuch

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Gandhinagar, Feb 24 (IANS) Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have reached a seat-sharing agreement ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, causing a stir in Gujarat, especially over the contentious Bharuch seat. The pact, announced on Saturday, to give the Bharuch seat in Gujarat to AAP, has sparked debates.

Outlining the broader strategy, Congress General Secretary and MP, Mukul Wasnik, stated, “Gujarat has 26 Lok Sabha seats. Congress will contest on 24, leaving Bharuch and Bhavnagar for AAP.” This arrangement is part of the INDIA bloc’s efforts to consolidate opposition unity and challenge the ruling party in the upcoming elections.

The decision has not gone down well with all, particularly by members closely associated with the Bharuch constituency. Earlier on Friday, Mumtaz Patel, the daughter of the late Ahmed Patel, a veteran Congress leader with deep ties to Bharuch, voiced her concerns, saying, “This seat traditionally belongs to Congress, and its potential reallocation has demoralised many within our party.”

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Bharuch is an important seat, here’s why:

The efforts to protect the seat were also done by Faisal Patel, Ahmed Patel’s son. He expressed his discontent in a letter to the party leadership, highlighting the emotional and political significance of the Bharuch seat to his family and the Congress party. He pointed out the demographic composition of Bharuch and the electoral history, including his father’s victories from 1977 to 1984, to argue against the seat-sharing decision. Faisal Patel warned that ceding Bharuch to AAP could replicate the adverse impacts seen in Delhi and Punjab, where Congress’ presence has waned.

The Bharuch seat has been a stronghold for the BJP since 1989, with Mansukh Vasava securing it for the party in six consecutive terms. The AAP’s performance in the region, particularly their win in Dediapada during the 2022 Gujarat polls, has been cited as a factor in the seat-sharing discussions.

However, concerns about diluting Congress’s traditional support base and jeopardising its chances of reclaiming the seat have led to calls for a reconsideration of the agreement. As the Congress-AAP alliance navigates, these internal disputes, the outcome of their deliberations on the Bharuch seat remains a focal point of interest in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

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–IANS

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Bengal train collision: Preliminary findings suggest combination of human, procedural lapses

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Kolkata, June 20 (IANS) Preliminary investigation by a joint observation committee in the Kanchanjunga Express–goods train collision on Monday morning suggests that a combination of two procedural lapses was the reason behind the accident, sources said on Thursday.

Sources said that the first procedural lapse was that the “absolute block system” was not followed in the case of the goods train that had hit Kanchanjunga Express from behind.

The absolute block system (ABS) is followed by railways in case the automatic signalling system is inactive within a particular area between two stations. In that case, a train will not be allowed to leave one station unless the preceding train in the same line (the ‘block’) leaves or crosses the next station ahead. However, as per a preliminary report, the goods train was given permission to leave the Rangapani station before the Kanchanjunga Express, which was moving in the same line, crossed the next station which was Chatter Hat.

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Had the ABS been strictly followed in this case the accident, which has taken 11 lives so far, could have been avoided.

While this was the first procedural lapse, as per the preliminary findings, the next human error was on the part of the loco-pilot (now deceased) of the goods train, where he overshot the prescribed speed limit while crossing a distance where the automatic signalling system is non-functional. As per norms, for the trains passing through such a distance, the speed should never exceed 15 km per hour, to maintain a reasonable distance between the two trains passing on the same line.

Preliminary findings suggest that the collision occurred due to the violation of the speed limit between the Rangapani and Chatter Hat stations.

At the same time, sources said, from the impact of the collision on the last four coaches of Kanchanjunga Express, the last two being the parcel coach and guard’s compartment, it was clear that the speed was well above the prescribed limit of 15 km an hour.

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–IANS

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Madhya Pradesh Police arrest over 1K involved in cattle smuggling in 6 months

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Bhopal, June 21 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh Police have claimed to have registered as many as 575 cases in the last six months related to cattle smuggling and arrested a total of 1,121 people in this connection.

Besides, more than 7,000 cows were rescued from illegal possession during the same period.

The police said that most cases of cattle smuggling were reported in Balaghat, Seoni, Chhindwara, Barwani, Khargone, Burhanpur, Ujjain, Ratlam and Neemuch districts.

A source said the operation against cattle smuggling was carried out extensively following the direction received from Chief Minister Mohan Yadav.

“Several teams of police were formed across the state and the routes that were used frequently for cow trafficking were identified. Sources were developed in particular regions to get real-time information and the cases of 10 years were examined,” a police source said.

The BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government has been strict on cattle smuggling and the sale of meat in open places for the last several years.

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Notably, Chief Minister Mohan Yadav, in one of his initial orders after taking over charge of the CM Office, directed the police to take strict action against cattle smuggling.

The recent action in Mandala where 11 houses were demolished was as part of action against the illegal beef trading in the state, a police officer said.

The action was taken after a tip-off was received that numerous cows had been held captive for slaughtering.

–IANS

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BJP and Congress conspiring to privatise Singareni Collieries, alleges BRS

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Hyderabad, June 21 (IANS) The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) on Thursday alleged both the BJP and the Congress were conspiring to privatise Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) through the auction of coal mines.

BRS Working President K.T. Rama Rao said the BJP government at the Centre and the Congress government in Telangana were undermining Singareni by opting to auction coal mines in Telangana instead of allocating them directly to Singareni.

He slammed the state government for participating in the auction of mines instead of demanding direct allocation to Singareni.

“The Central government is auctioning more than 60 mines in the country, including Singareni, starting tomorrow. The state government’s participation in the auction contradicts their previous stance of opposing the auction and seeking direct allocation from the Central government to Singareni,” he said.

He also reminded the public that the present Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy had written a letter to the Central government seeking the cancellation of the Singareni mines auction and requesting direct allocation to Singareni.

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KTR, as the BRS leader is popularly known, questioned Revanth Reddy’s silence now over the Central government’s auction of mines in the Singareni area, considering his opposition earlier.

He claimed that BRS and its government had stalled the auctioning of coal mines in the Singareni area for the past nine years to safeguard Singareni’s future.

“With 16 MPs, neighbouring state’s Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is trying to halt the privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant and safeguarding their state’s interests. In contrast, the 16 elected MPs from Telangana, both from Congress and BJP, remain silent despite the Central government’s attempt to harm the state’s prospects through the mines auction,” he said.

KTR demanded that all MPs and the two Union Ministers from Telangana should immediately take steps to cancel the Singareni mines auction. He also accused the Central ministers from Telangana of harming the state’s interests by remaining silent on this matter. KTR stated that the same Central government made the Vizag Steel Plant incur losses by not allocating dedicated mines.

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The BRS leader also said that even if companies participate in the auction and get the mining rights, the BRS would cancel the leases “once they come into power after four and a half years”.

–IANS

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Railway to resume Garib Rath Express between Kolkata, Guwahati, Agartala

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Guwahati, June 21 (IANS) The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) would resume the services of two pairs of Garib Rath Express on the Agartala-Kolkata and Guwahati-Kolkata routes from next month, officials said here on Thursday.

NFR’s Chief Public Relations Officer Sabyasachi De said that the Garib Rath Express would run on the Agartala-Kolkata route every Wednesday from July 3 and it would run on the Kolkata- Agartala route every Sunday from July 7.

The CPRO said that the Garib Rath Express would run on the Guwahati-Kolkata route every Saturday from July 6. Similarly, the train would run on the Kolkata-Guwahati route every Thursday from July 4.

De said that resuming the services of these express trains would fulfil the long-standing demand of the people of the region. Rail connectivity in the northeast would be strengthened with West Bengal and its capital by these services. This would highly benefit the patients, students, and other commuters of the adjacent states, apart from promoting economic growth and commerce, the CPRO added.

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–IANS

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No proposal to monetise 25,000 acres around Bengaluru, says Siddaramaiah govt

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Bengaluru, June 21 (IANS) The Karnataka government on Thursday denied reports it was considering monetising 25,000 acres of land around Bengaluru to fund its guarantee schemes, saying there was no such proposal.

“At the outset, there is no proposal to monetise 25,000 acres of land around Bengaluru as suggested in the news reports. It is the fundamental responsibility of the government to optimise resource mobilisation without putting undue burden on the citizens. Our state has greater potential to raise additional non-tax revenues from sectors such as mining, advertisements in urban areas, naming rights, etc. Better tax compliance is also another measure that is being explored. Some of the recommendations also include a limited extent of monetisation of non-strategic assets, but that does not have to mean disposal or outright sale of government lands,” a government statement said.

There are several creative and intelligent ways to raise resources without selling government land and raising taxes, it added.

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“The idle land parcels of the state government and other government entities, which are prone to encroachment, would be developed to generate a continuous stream of revenue to the state without selling these lands. Instead of an outright sale of public lands, innovative value-capture financing methods would be employed to generate revenue to the state which does not involve the outright sale of public assets. The various successful value capture financing methods deployed in other states and countries would be carefully studied and the best methods would be adopted in the state,” the statement said.

It also said that the focus of the global consultant is on the rapid development of large industrial townships and urban amenities by tapping private investments. The Finance Department is looking into all the measures and any proposal to raise resources will be in the public domain once it is properly fleshed out. There is no reason for anyone to jump to hasty conclusions based on preliminary ideas that are on the table,” the statement added.

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–IANS

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