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MDMK loses 'top' symbol as it is contesting in only one seat in LS polls

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Chennai, March 28 (IANS) The MDMK’s decision to contest only one seat in Tamil Nadu, as part of the INDIA bloc in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, has led to it losing the opportunity to contest under the “top” symbol.

The party has fielded Durai Vaiko, the son of party founder leader Vaiko, from the Tiruchi Lok Sabha seat.

It had moved the Madras High Court, seeking allotment of the symbol, but the EC on Wednesday told the court that the party’s plea for the symbol could have been considered if it had contested in at least two seats in this Lok Sabha polls.

The high court subsequently disposed of the MDMK’s writ petition, observing that it was too late in the day to consider the request since the last date for filing nominations ended on Wednesday and there was no chance of the party’s fielding one more candidate.

A bench of Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy recorded the submission of ECI counsel Niranjan Rajagopalan that the Commission had considered the party’s representation, but rejected since the rules do not permit such an allotment.

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Rajagopalan informed the court that the MDMK lost the right to the exclusive use of the symbol after it lost its recognition in 2010 when it failed to secure the minimum number of votes required.

Counsel also told the court that the ‘top’ was neither in the list of reserved symbols nor had it been pushed to the list of free symbols because there was no provision in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968 for a reserved symbol to be automatically shifted to the free symbols category on account of a party’s de-recognition.

He said that the MDMK could have sought the allotment of the ‘top’ symbol by utilising a concession that could be extended to de-recognised political parties, under Para 10B(B)(i), if it had decided to contest in at least two Parliamentary constituencies in Tamil Nadu this year.

Since the party had given a representation indicating that it intends to contest in the Tiruchi Parliamentary constituency alone this year, even such a concession was not possible, the EC lawyer said.

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–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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J&K L-G chairs security review meeting ahead of Amarnath Yatra

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Jammu, June 22, (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday chaired a high-level security and review meeting in Jammu with the senior officials of all 10 districts of the division.

“The Lt Governor reviewed the overall security scenario in the region. He called for close synergy between the security forces, civil and police administration to dismantle the entire terror ecosystem. He said the terrorists and those aiding and abetting them should be neutralised on priority,” an official said.

The Lt Governor also took stock of the development projects and the progress achieved on saturation of social welfare and other government schemes.

The meeting also discussed the preparations ahead of the Amarnath Yatra and important matters related to security, traffic management, essential facilities for yatris on the route, lodging, among other subjects.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary, Atal Dulloo, on Saturday visited Yatri Niwas Bhagwati Nagar in Jammu and sought a detailed review of all the arrangements for the forthcoming yatra.

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During the visit, the Chief Secretary also chaired a meeting with senior officials of district administration.

“During the meeting, the Chief Secretary passed on specific directions to heads of various departments to make elaborate arrangements in advance for the successful conduct of the yatra.

He emphasised the importance of maintaining a high level of sanitation as well as cleanliness in the camp for a safe and comfortable experience for the devotees,” an official said.

“The Chief Secretary underlined that Amarnath holds immense religious significance, and it is our responsibility to provide a secure and comfortable environment for the pilgrims. He urged all the stakeholders to work in close coordination to ensure smooth conduct of Yatra and extend all possible support to the devotees,” the official added.

He further directed all concerned departments to take every possible measure to make Amarnath Yatra smooth, safe and hassle-free for devotees.

During his visit, the Chief Secretary took stock of logistics, food and lodging for the pilgrims, security, langer stalls, power and water supply, health facilities, sanitation, transportation, deployment of health and sanitation staff, and emergency services and other facilities for the smooth facilitation of pilgrims.

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–IANS

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Tripura police rescue three 'missing' minors

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Agartala, June 22 (IANS) Three minors, who reportedly fled from their homes, were rescued by the police on Saturday a day after they went ‘missing’ in Tripura’s Khowai district.

The police in Dharmanagar in North Tripura district said that after getting a tip-off from their counterparts in Khowai district, a search operation was launched and the three minors, including a girl, were rescued while they were trying to reach neighbouring Assam by road.

The police have handed them over to their parents after completing the formalities.

The three minors, all under the age of 16, reportedly had some issues with their parents due to which they fled from their homes in Khowai district.

–IANS

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Punjab CM announces to set up Bhagat Kabir Dham

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Hoshiarpur (Punjab), June 22 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday announced to set up Bhagat Kabir Dham to conduct extensive research on the life and philosophy of the doyen of the Bhakti movement.

Addressing the gathering during the state-level function to mark 626th Parkash Utsav of Bhagat Kabir here, the Chief Minister said the 15th century mystic poet and saint Bhagat Kabir had shown a way of life to the people, adding this ‘dham’ would act as a pivotal for research on his life.

He said the life and philosophy of the great mystic poet has always inspired people towards rightful living, adding that people should follow in the footsteps of Bhagat Kabir for carving out a progressive, prosperous and harmonious society.

Mann said the need of hour is that unity, communal brotherhood and peace should be maintained by all means by following the ideals of Bhagat Kabir.

Mann said the government is making concerted efforts for rejuvenating the health and education system in the state.

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He said till now sending his child to a government school was the compulsion of the common man but within six months it will be his wish to do so as the education system is being revamped.

The Punjab Chief Minister said the Schools of Eminence have been set up across the state to impart quality education to students.

–IANS

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