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Jharkhand Cong minister Alamgir Alam arrested after ED grilling in Rs 35 crore cash haul case

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New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) Days after the recovery of mounds of cash, amounting to more than Rs 35 crore, Jharkhand minister Alamgir Alam was on Wednesday arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The Congress minister was arrested after two consecutive days of questioning by the ED sleuths in Ranchi — for nine hours on Tuesday and for six hours on Wednesday — in connection with the recovery of mountain of cash from the domestic help of his personal assistant.

After the cash seizure on May 6, the ED raids were also conducted at the residence of Alamgir Alam’s personal assistant Sanjeev Lal and his other associates.

During the raids, the ED also seized damning documents related to transfer-posting of bureaucrats.

Both Sanjeev Lal, PS to Alamgir Alam and his domestic help Jehangir Alam were arrested by the ED after recovery of whopping Rs 35.23 crore in cash from their premises in Ranchi.

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The duo were subsequently booked under the provisions of Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA) and arrested.

The seizure of staggering amount of cash, early this month, not just hogged national headlines but also spotlighted the ‘rampant’ corruption and loot of public wealth under JMM-Congress combine government.

Notably, Prime Minister Narnendra Modi also, in a public rally in state’s Koderma district on Tuesday, took a veiled dig at INDIA bloc government in the state and thundered from the rally that looters of public wealth will neither be spared nor will they be allowed to have a sound sleep.

–IANS

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Gujarat govt readies for monsoon with disaster management strategy

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Gandhinagar, May 20 (IANS) Gujarat Chief Secretary Raj Kumar on Monday presided over a review meeting to assess the state’s preparedness to tackle natural calamities during the monsoon season.

Fifteen National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and 11 State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) companies have been kept on standby, officials said at the meeting, adding that mock drills and training for disaster volunteers will be conducted at various locations across the state.

The Chief Secretary emphasised the “importance of proactive measures to prevent any loss of life” and stated that the “administration must be fully prepared well in advance to mitigate any potential damage”.

Kumar also met representatives from all the state departments, central security agencies, and the three branches of the armed forces, alongside officials from various central government departments to review and discuss pre-monsoon preparedness.

Kumar highlighted “the need to train disaster volunteers in the rural areas and to review preparations in regions that have historically experienced heavy rainfall”.

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He also stressed the “importance of inspecting and evacuating old and unsafe buildings in the urban areas to prevent casualties”.

Instructions were given to conduct mock drills and to gather water level details of the major dams such as Sardar Sarovar and Ukai in advance.

During the meeting, the Chief Secretary said the more prepared the state is, the more effective the relief and rescue operations will be, minimising the potential damage.

He also urged all the departments to have updated disaster management plans as he emphasised effective coordination between the state and Central government offices and security agencies.

The state will have 15 NDRF and 11 SDRF teams available for deployment as needed. These teams will have sufficient boats, life jackets, and advanced communication facilities. Officials shared that the Chief Secretary also called for checking facilities at the shelter homes and ensuring proper information exchange between taluka and village levels.

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An official from the meteorological department provided detailed information on the upcoming monsoon, predicting its onset around May 31 in Kerala, indicating an earlier-than-usual arrival in Gujarat. The weather department will provide weekly updates on rainfall.

–IANS

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'Earlier I was 'Lady Singham', but now I have become a 'BJP agent?' Swati Maliwal hits back at AAP leaders

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal said on Monday that until she filed a complaint against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s former PS Bhibav Kumar, she was the ‘Lady Singham’ and today she has become a ‘BJP agent’.

“Since yesterday, Delhi ministers are spreading lies that an FIR has been filed against me for corruption, hence I did all this on the instructions of the BJP. The FIR was lodged eight years ago in 2016, after which both the CM and the L-G appointed me as the Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women twice. The case was completely fake on which the high court put a stay for 1.5 years,” Maliwal wrote in a detailed post on X.

In 2016, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) filed a charge sheet against Maliwal, accusing her of making unlawful appointments in the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and alleging that she showed favouritism towards AAP workers.

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“According to them, until I filed a complaint against Bibhav Kumar, I was ‘Lady Singham’ and today I have become a BJP agent,” Maliwal asked.

“The entire troll army was deployed against me just because I spoke the truth. Everyone in the party is being called and told to send Swati’s personal video if they have one, as it has to be leaked. They’re putting my relatives’ lives in danger by tweeting their details, including their car numbers,” she alleged.

“Well, lies don’t last long. But in the intoxication of power and in the passion to bring someone down, it should not happen that when the truth comes out, you are not able to look even your family in the eye. I will take you to court for every lie you spread,” she wrote.

Last week, Maliwal filed an FIR against Bibhav Kumar for allegedly assaulting her when she had gone to meet Arvind Kejriwal at his residence in Delhi’s Civil Lines area on May 13. The police have taken Kumar into custody.

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–IANS

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Telangana government plans to felicitate Sonia Gandhi on June 2

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Hyderabad, May 20 (IANS) The Congress government in Telangana plans to felicitate top party leader Sonia Gandhi at Telangana state formation day celebrations on June 2.

As the state is set to complete 10 years of its formation, the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy, at the state Secretariat on Monday, decided to organise the celebrations on a grand scale.

It proposed to invite and felicitate Sonia Gandhi, who played a key role in the formation of the state.

Ministers Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy and D. Sridhar Babu told media persons after the Cabinet meeting that in view of the model code of conduct for Lok Sabha elections, the government will write to the Election Commission of India, seeking permission to organise the celebrations.

The government also plans to felicitate all those who worked for the formation of the state.

In another major decision, the Cabinet resolved to pay a Rs 500 bonus per quintal for fine rice cultivated by farmers from the forthcoming Kharif season. It decided to encourage farmers to increase the cultivation of super-fine varieties of paddy. The Cabinet also decided to speed up the procurement of Rabi foodgrains.

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District Collectors have been entrusted with full responsibility to ensure the smooth procurement from farmers.

The paddy soaked due to unseasonal rains will also be procured at Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Officials concerned have been asked to enumerate losses incurred by farmers in some parts of the state due to unseasonal rains. The ministers said the government has already purchased 35 lakh metric tonnes of grain across the state and money credited to farmers’ accounts within three days. They claimed that the Congress government had set a new record by making the payments within three days.

The Cabinet decided to take strict measures to prevent the sale of spurious seeds. It directed officials to keep stocks of seeds, fertilisers and other requirements of farmers ready as the Kharif season was set to commence soon.

It approved an allocation of Rs.600 crore for improving the infrastructure of government schools. The maintenance of schools has been handed over to self-help societies through the Amma Adarsh Schools Scheme.

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The Cabinet discussed issues of emergency and urgent in nature as per the direction of the Election Commission, which, on Sunday, gave a conditional nod to the Cabinet meeting. It had made it clear that issues relating to the common capital of Hyderabad and crop loan waiver shall be deferred till completion of Lok Sabha elections.

The Cabinet meeting scheduled on Saturday was postponed as permission for it was not received from the Election Commission.

–IANS

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Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal have more supporters in Pakistan than in India: Amit Shah

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Monday that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have more supporters in Pakistan than in India.

Addressing an election rally in support of BJP candidate from South Delhi Ramvir Singh Bidhuri at Sangam Vihar on Monday, Amit Shah came down heavily on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Congress, and the opposition alliance.

Referring to the alleged assault on AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal at Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence recently, Amit Shah said that a Chief Minister at whose home a female MP was beaten up cannot ensure the safety of women in Delhi.

Amit Shah also alleged that CM Kejriwal falsely boasts about his work worldwide, but the truth is he spends the largest part of Delhi’s budget on advertisements.

The Home Minister also accused the AAP government of numerous scams during its tenure in Delhi, including those related to liquor policy, the Jal Board, fake medicines, panic buttons in DTC buses, etc.

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He said the list of scams is quite long, and only the liquor scam has been investigated so far while the rest are yet to be probed.

Criticising the AAP government, Amit Shah said the Kejriwal regime consists of three Gs — Ghotala (scams), Ghooskhori (bribery), and Ghaplebaji (swindling).

Calling Kejriwal a ‘U-turn’ person, Amit Shah said he has never seen a man who takes as many U-turns as the AAP supremo.

“Kejriwal used to say he would never support corrupt individuals, but today he sits with all the corrupt parties such as the Congress, DMK, Trinamool Congress, and RJD,” said Amit Shah.

The Home Minister also targeted the AAP-Congress alliance, saying Kejriwal used to claim that he would remove the Congress government from Delhi and imprison its leaders, but today he is sitting on Congress’ lap and contesting the elections together.

Criticising the AAP chief for not resigning from the CM’s post despite being sent to jail, Amit Shah said that leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jayalalithaa had resigned from their chairs before going to prison.

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He sarcastically added that Kejriwal is stuck to his chair with Fevicol, but this Fevicol will come off on June 4 as the BJP will win all the seven seats in Delhi.

–IANS

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57.47 per cent voting in fifth phase of LS polls, Baramulla witnesses record turnout

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Voting in the crucial fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls, spanning 49 seats in 8 states/UTs, ended on Friday with an estimated 57.47 per cent polling, spanning from a high of 73 per cent in West Bengal (7 seats) to a lowly 48.88 per cent in Maharashtra (13 seats), though the Bollywood brigade was out in full force.

The figures for the other states/UTs were 67.15 per cent for Ladakh (1 seat), 63 per cent in Jharkhand (3 seats), 60.72 per cent in Odisha (5 seats as well as 35 Assembly seats), 54.49 per cent in J&K (1 seat), 57.79 per cent in Uttar Pradesh (14 seats), and 52.6 per cent in Bihar.

The voting turnout was as of 7.45 p.m., but subject to revision, as according to the Election Commission, there were still voters in queues at the formal closing of polls at 6 p.m

These included various villages in J&K’s Baramulla, as per election officials of the UT, who pegged the likely turnout in the seat at nearly 59 per cent, which would be the highest since 1984 in the pre-insurgency era, and the 46.65 per cent recorded in 1996.

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Around 9 crore voters, braving the heat in several parts of the country, headed for the polling booths through the day after polls opened at 7 a.m. to decide the fates of 695 candidates.

However, the Election Commission rued that constituencies in cities like Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, and Lucknow continued the trend of urban apathy as noticed in the 2019 polls.

The fifth phase may have been the smallest in number but contained a large number of high-profile seats from where top Union Ministers, including Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Piyush Goyal (Mumbai North) and Smriti Irani (Amethi) and leaders of national and regional parties, including Rahul Gandhi (Raebareli), Omar Abdullah (Baramulla), and Chirag Paswan (Hajipur) were contesting.

Other key contests were in Kalyan where Shiv Sena’s Shrikant Shinde, son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, is in the fray, UP’s Kaiserganj, where sitting BJP MP and former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh stood aside for his son Karan Bhushan Singh.

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In Bihar’s Saran, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter Rohini Acharya is facing BJP candidate and former Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, while in West Bengal’s Hooghly, Trinamool Congress candidate and actress Rachna Banerjee is up against actress-turned-politician Locket Chatterjee of the BJP.

With the end of the fifth phase, polling has been completed in 428 Lok Sabha seats across 25 states/UTs with Maharashtra and Ladakh joining those where the poll process has concluded.

The next and penultimate phase, comprising 58 seats, is slated to be held on May 25, with Haryana and Delhi joining in for a single-phase polling.

–IANS

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