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Nirmala Sitharaman accuses previous Rajasthan govt of spreading lies on OPS

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Jaipur, April 16 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday lashed at the Congress government in Rajasthan for “spreading lies and creating confusion” on the Old Pension Scheme (OPS).

Addressing a press conference in Jaipur, the Finance Minister questioned the BJP workers as to why didn’t they advise the then Ashok Gehlot government that it was immature to introduce OPS in the state, as she asked the erstwhile regime why it implemented the scheme in a hurry.

“The Congress has not included the OPS/New Pension Scheme (NPS) in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls. A committee has been formed by the Central government which is looking into the scheme. So it will be immature to discuss it now,” said Sitharaman.

“But why was former CM Gehlot not told that it was immature to shift to OPS from NPS when he was implementing it in Rajasthan? What was the hurry,” Sitharaman questioned.

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She also accused Congress of being a habitual offender in making fake promises to get votes.

“But soon after getting the votes, the Congress forgets all its promises and leaves the people in limbo,” she said.

Giving an example, she said the Congress made one such improbable promise of implementing the OPS.

“Following the Rajasthan government, the Congress repeated the promise in Himachal Pradesh to the elections. Ashok Gehlot in fact demanded NPS money from the Central government after implementing the OPS in Rajasthan. As it was not feasible, we had to revert by saying that it was workers’ money which will go into their accounts, and not to any government account,” Sitharaman said.

She also accused Ashok Gehlot of creating hurdles in the implementation of the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP).

“Many efforts were made to build a consensus on ERCP between Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan governments, but the then CM Ashok Gehlot was not ready for the same due to which the fate of the project kept hanging for five years. While the project was implemented on January 24, it could have been implemented much earlier if not for Gehlot’s reluctance,” she claimed.

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“Any Chief Minister would have gone out of his way to save the state from a water crisis, but Gehlot continued creating hurdles for the project,” the Finance Minister said.

She also said the opposition is raising hues and cries about inflation for no reason, as inflation is in single digit against the double-digit figures during the Congress’ tenure.

“For 22 months under the UPA government, inflation was in double digits,” she said, adding that the inflation has been under 6 per cent in the last 10 years except for a month or two.

–IANS

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People's resentment will ensure BJP's defeat, says Akhilesh

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Lucknow, May 21 (IANS) Samajwadi Party (SP) National President Akhilesh Yadav said on Tuesday that the growing resentment against BJP’s politics of hate coupled with PDA’s resolve to protect the Constitution will spell defeat for the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The poll plank of SP — PDA, stands for ‘Pichhade’ (Backward classes), Dalits, and ‘Alpsankhyak’ (Minorities).

“People are breaking all barriers of caste and religion to vote against the BJP because of growing anger against the party’s politics of hate and negativity. If people spread negativity and hatred, it comes back to haunt them,” he said in a statement.

Akhilesh added that people were so peeved with the BJP that 140 crore people in the country would not even spare 140 seats for the BJP.

He said the BJP govt at the Centre will change and so will the Cabinet of Ministers.

The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister also said those who take pride in using bulldozers against the poor, have not used it against anyone involved in the paper leak.

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“Question papers of 10 recruitment exams have been leaked till now. This shows that these papers are being leaked as a part of a design because the government does not want to give jobs to the youth,” he added.

“The BJP wants to change the Constitution of India because it gives us the right to vote. It gives us the right to reservation. It provides for a right to equality which in turn provides equal opportunity to grow and prosper,” he said.

“The BJP has sidelined the PDA constituents, women and poor, and deprived them of their rights. SP and PDA have come forward to protect the Constitution and democracy in India,” Akhilesh said, adding that this urge to safeguard the Constitution will result in BJP’s defeat in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The SP National President said the BJP government held massive events to claim that investment was pouring into the state but nothing has emerged on the ground.

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No industry or factory came up anywhere in the state, he added.

“They promised to double the income of farmers by 2022, their loans have doubled instead and their incomes have been halved owing to rise in prices of fertilisers and logistics,” he said.

“The prevailing rural distress coupled with rising joblessness has left every section of the society depressed and angry. It is this anger that people are venting out against the BJP in the form of voting in favour of the INDIA bloc in large numbers,” Akhilesh added.

–IANS

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PM Modi to address women in Varanasi today

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Varanasi, May 21 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with 25,000 women at Kashi’s Sampurnanand Sanskrit University ground on Tuesday.

He will address an election rally in Prayagraj too.

Kashi region BJP Spokesperson Navaratan Rathi said: “There are 1,909 booths in Varanasi Lok Sabha and 10 women from each booth have been invited for Prime Minister Modi’s interaction with women. All preparations for the event have been completed.”

Doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, chartered accountants, and teachers have also been invited to the programme that will start around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, he added.

BJP’s state unit secretary and Mahila Morcha in-charge Archana Mishra said: “Our enthusiastic participation at his Kashi roadshow on May 13 made the Prime Minister very happy and that is why he is coming here again to share his happiness with us.”

She said BJP’s women wing members have gone door-to-door in Varanasi to invite women for the Tuesday event.

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Lok Sabha coordinator and MLC Ashwini Tyagi said: “Prime Minister has done many things for the upliftment of women during his 10 years in office. It was because of him that 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies under the Nari Shakti Vandan Act could become possible.”

After the event, Prime Minister Modi will spend the night at the BLW guest house in Varanasi.

The Prime Minister will address a meeting at the Government Polytechnic Ground on Wednesday (May 22), said Basti Superintendent of Police, Gopal Krishna Chowdhury.

He said that members of SPG security had already reached Basti and inspected the rally venue and added that no flying zone had been declared in nearby areas.

He said from May 20 to May 22, flying drones or balloons in the region have been banned due to security reasons.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister Anupriya Patel, too, would share the stage with Prime Minister Modi.

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–IANS

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65 more refugees from Bangladesh take shelter in Mizoram

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Aizawl, May 20 (IANS) At least 65 more refugees, including 27 women and 24 children, entered Mizoram’s southern Lawngtlai district from Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) during the past two days, officials said on Monday.

Officials said that the fresh refugees came to Mizoram after troubles following the conflict between the Bangladesh Army and armed ethnic outfits in the mountainous areas of the southeast region of the neighbouring country.

The refugees have taken shelter at Vathuampui village and the villagers are providing them with food.

With this, the number of refugees from CHT in the state has risen to 1,433.

On May 10, 127 refugees from CHT entered Mizoram and took shelter in 6 villages.

The newcomers belong to the Bawm and Pang communities of tribals who called themselves the Kuki-Chin.

Refugees from CHT first fled to Mizoram in November 2022 after an armed confrontation started between the Bangladesh Army and the ethnic armed outfits, who are fighting for a separate state for the tribal people in the CHT.

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Meanwhile, after the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, over 34,350 people from the Chin state of the neighbouring country fled to Mizoram and are now staying in all 11 districts of the state.

Mizoram shares a 510 km and 318 km unfenced border with Myanmar and Bangladesh, respectively

–IANS

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Three persons rescued after fire breaks out at showroom in Karol Bagh

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Three men were rescued after a fire broke out at a garment store in Delhi’s Karol Bagh area on Monday evening, a fire department official said.

Director of Delhi Fire Service (DFS), Atul Garg, said that a call regarding the blaze at a clothing showroom on Ajmal Khan Road in Karol Bagh was received at 5:28 p.m.

Initially, three occupants were seen stuck on the top floor of the building.

“They were taken out of the building with the help of the public using a ladder,” said a senior official.

“Around 15 fire tenders were rushed to the spot. While no one is reportedly stuck inside, a search is being carried out to ensure the safety of the occupants,” a police officer said.

–IANS

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TN health officials directed to prepare for medical emergencies amid forecast of heavy rain

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Chennai, May 20 (IANS) The Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPH) in Tamil Nadu on Monday issued a circular to the district health officials to stay prepared for any medical emergencies after the weather department warned of continuous rain in the state and the arrival of southwest monsoon in Kerala on May 31.

The DPH directed the district medical officials that the southwest monsoon would bring moderate to heavy rain in various parts of Tamil Nadu due to a cyclonic circulation.

The circular also instructed the concerned authorities to make available an adequate number of health officials round the clock in view of the weather department’s forecast.

Rapid Medical Response Teams (RMRT) should also be made available in the vulnerable areas, which must consist of doctors, staff nurses, village health nurses, and health inspectors.

The state health department has also directed the district medical officers to store adequate quantities of medicines required for any emergency situation.

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The department urged the officials to provide on-the-spot medical care for minor ailments like fever, minor injuries, and skin diseases.

The circular also called upon the district medical officials to make available ambulance fleets with adequate fuel for any emergency situation.

–IANS

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