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Maha: Eknath Khadse joining will help BJP garner OBC votes

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Mumbai, April 8 (IANS) BJP’s move to roll out a red carpet to former minister and NCP legislator Eknath Khadse ahead of Lok Sabha polling is a calculated move to play the OBC card and avoid backlash from the politically influential Maratha community especially against the backdrop of protests Manoj Jarange-Patil demanding reservation to the community.

The Central leadership’s green signal for Khadse’s “Ghar Wapsi” is aimed at giving Khadse, who is the mass leader in OBC, respect and thereby consolidate its position during Lok Sabha elections to achieve its Mission 45 plus and also in the state assembly for carrying out 200 plus target in Maharashtra.

Further, the Central leadership has given prominence and preference to the party’s victory instead of internal differences between Khadse and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the state minister Girish Mahajan.

Khadse after his entry is expected to be soon involved in the party’s campaigning across Maharashtra.

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Khadse, who is one of the prominent OBC leaders, had slogged for over four decades for BJP’s rise in Maharashtra along with Gopinath Munde before he parted ways in 2020 to join NCP criticising the state leadership. The party insiders strongly believe that Khadse’s entry will help make up for the possible loss in Maratha votes.

It is not Khadse who will be brought into the fold so that he can regain his past glory but the party took a cautious decision to nominate Pankaja Munde another OBC leader from the Vanjani community from Beed and party ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksh founder Mahadev Jankar from Parbhani.

Incidentally, Jankar hails from the Dhangar community and he has been accommodated in MahaYuti’s seat-sharing arrangement from the Ajit Pawar-led NCP’s quota from the Parbhani seat.

A senior party functionary said: “With Khadse’s entry, the party believes that the loss of Maratha votes can be compensated in Maharashtra. Khadse’s presence in the party will help in improving the party’s prospects not just in North Maharashtra but in Marathwada and other parts too. Besides, Khadse will also play a key role in the assembly constituencies comprising Muktainagar, Bhusaval, Jalgaon and Raver.”

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The timing of Khadse’s entry is crucial as he has already been granted bail in connection with a money laundering case related to a land deal in the Pune district involving his family members.

Khadse, who was the revenue minister in the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led cabinet, had to resign in 2016 following the corruption charges. He had openly staked claim over the CM’s post though the Central leadership chose Fadnavis.

Further, Khadse received another relief after the Maharashtra government last year issued a notice against him and his family members directing them to pay over Rs 137 crore as a fine for allegedly excavating minor minerals without permission.

–IANS

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Raising 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' slogan has become wrongful act under Congress rule: K'taka LoP

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Dakshina Kannada, June 12 (IANS) Senior BJP leader and the leader of opposition in the Karnataka Assembly, R. Ashoka, claimed on Wednesday that raising the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogan has become a wrongful act in the state under the Congress rule.

Speaking to the media after visiting two BJP workers who were stabbed for allegedly raising the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogan at a hospital in Dakshina Kannada, Ashoka said, “The Congress government has handed over the state to goons. If ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ or ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans are raised, people are stabbed.”

Stating that the BJP will ensure such incidents are not repeated, Ashoka said, “We will always stand with our party workers. The government should investigate the matter and also provide compensation to the victims.”

“Under this Taliban-like government in Karnataka, pro-Pakistan slogans are raised without any hesitation. The issue will be brought up during the Assembly session. Despite visiting the hospital, neither the Assembly Speaker nor the Minister for Health bothered to meet the stabbed workers,” Ashoka claimed.

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After the stabbing incident, the police lodged a case against some Hindu activists, alleging that they had issued statements referring to Pakistan.

“If this is true, let the police release the video or evidence in this regard. The attempt is being made to lodge a fresh case and hush up the case of stabbing,” Ashoka alleged.

The incident took place on the night of June 4 after the announcement of the Lok Sabha election results. The BJP workers were chased and attacked by a mob and later stabbed for allegedly raising the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogan.

–IANS

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Brothers in arms: Pawan Kalyan’s swearing-in makes Chiranjeevi proud

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Vijayawada, June 12 (IANS) It was a moment Jana Sena leader and actor Konidala Pawan Kalyan had been waiting for years.

Taking oath as a minister in the presence of his elder brother and megastar Konidala Chiranjeevi in front of thousands of people was a big achievement for the actor-politician.

‘Power star’, as Pawan Kalyan is popularly known in film circles, was the first minister to take oath after Nara Chandrababu Naidu was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.

There were loud cheers from his fans and supporters as the Jana Sena leader took oath.

Chiranjeevi, who was seated with superstar Rajinikanth and actor-politician N. Balakrishna on the adjacent dais, was seen clapping while his wife Konidala Lezhneva, who was present in one of the VIP galleries, was delighted.

Chiranjeevi, whose political tryst ended in a disaster 15 years ago, was proud to see his younger brother taking oath, and the centre stage of Andhra Pradesh politics.

After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chandrababu Naidu, and Governor Abdul Nazeer, Pawan Kalyan headed to the adjacent dais to take the blessings of Chiranjeevi by touching his feet, as the megastar hugged his brother to congratulate him.

Pawan Kalyan, after the completion of the swearing-in, went to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and requested him to meet his elder brother. The PM obliged and held the hands of the siblings and raised them in a show of bonhomie.

Pawan Kalyan in a way gifted his win to Chiranjeevi. The victory came after his hard work of the last 10 years and the big setback of 2019 when he lost both the Assembly seats he contested.

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Jana Sena, which had fought the elections in alliance with the BSP and the Left parties, could win just one seat in the 175-member Assembly and even the lone MLA had later defected to the ruling YSR Congress Party.

This time, Jana Sena changed its strategy to strike an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). By winning all 21 Assembly and both Lok Sabha seats it contested, Jana Sena had a 100 per cent strike rate in the polls.

Pawan Kalyan was elected from the Pithapuram constituency in Kakinada district with a margin of 70,000 votes to finally make it to the Assembly.

The Jana Sena led by Pawan achieved what the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) floated by Chiranjeevi could not in 2008.

The superstar had launched PRP amid much fanfare in 2008 when it was compared to legendary actor N. T. Rama Rao’s political plunge with the formation of TDP in 1982, which changed the course of Andhra Pradesh politics.

Pawan Kalyan was then the leader of the youth wing of PRP. The duo along with their brother and actor Naga Babu and other family members had actively campaigned during the 2009 elections. However, the party came a cropper, winning just 18 seats in the 294-member Assembly of united Andhra Pradesh.

Chiranjeevi himself suffered defeat from Palakollu in his home district of West Godavari, but was elected from Tirupati.

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The death of then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash in 2009, a few months after retaining power, and the subsequent developments altered the political scene in the state.

In 2011, Chiranjeevi merged PRP with Congress and the latter rewarded him with nomination to the Rajya Sabha and induction into the Union Cabinet as Minister of State for Tourism (independent charge).

The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 triggered huge public anger against the Congress in the Andhra and Rayalaseema region as the party drew a blank in simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

The elections also saw the two brothers in rival camps. While Chiranjeevi was leading the Congress campaign, Pawan Kalyan had vowed to finish off the party which ‘divided’ the state. He did not contest the elections but campaigned for the TDP-BJP alliance, which stormed to power in bifurcated Andhra Pradesh.

After the Congress’ complete rout, Chiranjeevi distanced himself from politics and started focusing on films once again. However, Pawan Kalyan was determined to play a long innings.

The Jana Sena leader later parted ways with both the BJP and TDP for failing to deliver on the promise to accord special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

The maverick star vowed to continue his fight for new-age politics and took up campaigns on some major public issues. He, however, came under criticism from rivals for being a part-time politician. Unfazed by this criticism, he continued his efforts.

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After the disaster of 2019, he revived the alliance with the BJP. He became active about two years ago and started working to bring together the TDP and the BJP, which had snapped ties in 2018 on the issue of special category status.

This time, he vowed to end the ‘misrule’ of YSRCP and took the initiative to align with the TDP. He finally succeeded in bringing the BJP on board and even sacrificed a few seats to avoid a split of anti-incumbency votes.

He made it clear to his supporters that he is not in a hurry and that he remained committed to bringing about a change and achieving his goal of new-age politics.

As someone who does not fear defeat, the ‘Power Star’ was determined to carry on his fight. The actor-politician, who connects well with people, especially the youth, started gaining acceptance.

His strategy paid rich dividends not only for the Jana Sena, but also for the alliance which stormed to power with a landslide victory.

Pawan, who made his film debut in 1996 with ‘Akkada Ammayi, Ikkada Abbayi’ and has a string of hits under his belt, is seen as a person yearning for some higher purpose in life.

He admitted on several occasions that sometimes, he used to feel completely out of place in the movies.

Now with his entry into the Assembly and as the Deputy Chief Minister, he is set to play a new real-life role.

–IANS

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Joshimath is now 'Jyotirmath', Uttarakhand government renames teshil in Chamoli

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New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) Joshimath tehsil in Chamoli district will now be known by a new name ‘Jyotirmath’, the Uttarakhand chief minister office announced on Wednesday.

Jyotirmath is the ancient name of Joshimath and the state government’s proposal to effect a name change for the tehsil was approved by the Centre on Wednesday.

The move is being hailed by the local residents of Joshimath as they believe that the restoration of tehsil after its original name will not just showcase its ancient roots but will also honour its rich cultural and historical heritage.

Notably, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami publicly announced his government’s decision to rename the tehsil and restore its ancient glory at an event in Chamoli district last year.

The locals had been demanding the name change for a long time. Taking into consideration the sentiments of people, Dhami government moved a proposal to the Centre to rename the tehsil.

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This was approved by the Centre on Wednesday.

Locals believe that Adi Guru Shankaracharya visited this place in 8th century. He is understood to have practiced penance under Amar Kalpa tree and attained divine knowledge and light here.

The place was then known as Jyotirmath but as time passed by, it became popular by another name, Joshimath.

–IANS

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Amaravati farmers end four-year-long protest as Naidu govt sworn-in

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Amaravati, June 12 (IANS) With the formation of the Chandrababu Naidu-led government in Andhra Pradesh, farmers of Amaravati on Wednesday called off their four-year-long protest against three capitals move of the previous YSR Congress government.

Hours after Naidu and his Council of Ministers took oath at a ceremony at Vijayawada, the farmers removed their protest camps in villages.

The farmers, including women, had been protesting for 1,631 days, demanding the YSR Congress government to develop Amaravati as the sole capital.

The protest started in December 2019 after Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy announced that his government would develop three state capitals, reversing the decision of the previous TDP government to develop Amaravati as the only state capital.

The Jagan Mohan Reddy government planned to develop Visakhapatnam as the administrative capital, Kurnool as the judicial capital, and keep Amaravati only as a legislative capital.

The farmers of 29 villages, who had given 33,000 acres of their land under a land pooling system when the TDP was in power, came out on the streets. They had been continuing the protest in different forms.

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The Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi (APS), which was spearheading the movement against three capitals, undertook two padyatras during the last two years to mobilise public support for their demand.

Earlier in the day, the farmers watched on specially installed screens the live telecast of the swearing-in of Chandrababu Naidu and his Cabinet colleagues. At the meeting of newly-elected MLAs of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Tuesday, Naidu declared that Amaravati will be developed as the sole state capital. He said Visakhapatnam will be developed as a financial capital and Kurnool will also be developed in all respects.

TDP’s allies Jana Sena and BJP are also for developing Amaravati as the sole state capital.

The return of Naidu to power has given new hopes to farmers and others, who were fighting for justice. The TDP chief had envisioned Amaravati on the banks of the Krishna river as a dream capital and a world-class city about a decade ago. The works on residential quarters and other components of the mega project had come to an abrupt halt in 2019 a few months after the YSRCP came to power.

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The foundation stone for Amaravati was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2015 when TDP was part of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. Naidu had got the master plan for Amaravati prepared by Singapore. With nine theme cities and 27 townships, it was planned in an area of 217 square kilometres with the development in three phases – seed area or core capital, capital city, and capital region.

–IANS

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UP govt to turn Ranipur Tiger Reserve into eco-tourism hub

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Lucknow, June 12 (IANS) The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh will transform the Ranipur Tiger Reserve in Chitrakoot into a premier eco-tourism destination.

A detailed action plan has been devised to realise this vision, and the Forest Department has already commenced project implementation.

According to a government spokesman, the plan includes allocating an estimated Rs 38 lakh for upgrading tourist facilities within the reserve and enhancing infrastructure in the surrounding buffer zone.

To facilitate these efforts, directives have been issued by the office of the Deputy Director of the Ranipur Tiger Reserve/Divisional Officer in Chitrakoot.

Spanning over a 230 sq km area, Ranipur Tiger Reserve is the fourth tiger reserve in Uttar Pradesh and the 53rd nationwide.

Situated 150 km from Madhya Pradesh’s Panna Tiger Reserve, it serves as a haven for tigers and a diverse array of wildlife, including leopards, bears, sambar deer, and chinkara.

Recognising the significant tourism potential of this region, the Yogi Adityanath government has intensified development efforts in the tiger reserve.

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Adhering to stringent environmental standards, the area is being meticulously developed to ensure sustainable growth.

The primary focus of tourist amenities, currently under development in the Ranipur Tiger Reserve, is the luxury tent area. This space aims to allow visitors to immerse themselves in the unparalleled beauty of nature while enjoying top-notch amenities.

In addition to upgrading civic amenities within the forest, the plan entails developing lawn areas and designated parking spaces.

–IANS

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