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Lok Sabha polls 2024: AAP and Cong announce seat sharing tie-up for Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat

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New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Confirming their alliance, the INDIA bloc constituents AAP and Congress on Saturday announced their seat sharing tie-up for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections for Delhi, Gujarat, and Haryana.

Out of the seven seats in Delhi, the AAP will contest on the four Lok Sabha seats of New Delhi, West Delhi, South Delhi and East Delhi while the Congress has been allocated three seats, namely Chandni Chowk, North East and North West Delhi.

Though an agreement couldn’t be reached in Punjab, the AAP has been given one seat, Kurukshetra in Haryana while the Congress will be contesting on nine seats in the state.

During the last Lok Sabha elections, the AAP and Congress did not win a single seat in Delhi. Out of the seven seats, the Congress was the runner up on five while the AAP was runner up on two seats, i.e. North West and South Delhi.

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Addressing a joint Press conference with AAP minister Atishi, Congress General Secretary and MP Mukul Wasnik stated that there were seven seats in the Delhi Lok Sabha and the AAP would contest on four seats while the Congress would fight on three.

As an agreement couldn’t be reached between the two parties regarding Punjab, both will contest the polls separately there.

In Gujarat, the Congress is contesting on 24 out of 26 Lok Sabha seats, while the AAP has been given the two seats of Bharuch and Bhavnagar.

In Goa, the Congress candidates will contest on both Lok Sabha seats.

Addressing the media, Atishi said that the AAP has been an important pillar of the INDIA bloc from the beginning.

“We have been working for the success of the INDIA bloc. While negotiations and seat distribution with the Congress took time, the AAP has consistently made it clear that we are part of the alliance and will contest elections together,” she said.

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–IANS

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Bihar EOU submits NEET paper leak probe report to Education Ministry

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Patna June 22 (IANS) The Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of Bihar Police probing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) paper leak case submitted its report to the Union Education Ministry on Saturday.

Nearly 24 lakh students appeared for NEET-UG 2024 for undergraduate medical programmes on May 5. The results were released ahead of schedule on June 4. However, controversy arose with claims of question paper leak and the awarding of grace marks to more than 1,500 students, leading to widespread protests and legal actions, particularly in Bihar.

Nayyar Hasnain Khan, the Additional Director General of EOU, met the officials of the Education Ministry in Delhi on Saturday and submitted the report, which includes the statements of 13 arrested persons, admit cards, partially burnt question papers, booklets, and booking records of the NHAI guest house where the aspirants memorised the answers after the papers were allegedly leaked a day before the test.

As per sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is likely to do a hold review meeting with the officials, including Khan, on Monday.

ALSO READ:  K'taka Deputy CM Shivakumar hints at contesting Channapatna Assembly bypoll

–IANS

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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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