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"Order-fixing' – Now Abhishek Banerjee lashes out at court ruling in school jobs case

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Kolkata, April 25 (IANS) After West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched a scathing attack against the judiciary over a recent ruling by the Calcutta High Court in the alleged cash-for-school jobs scam in the state, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee on Thursday accused a section of the judiciary of being biased with the BJP’s ‘agenda’.

In a crucial ruling on Monday, the Calcutta High Court cancelled 25,753 appointments in teaching and non-teaching posts made by the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) in 2016. The case is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Referring to the court order, Trinamool General Secretary Banerjee drew a comparison with ‘match-fixing’ in cricketing terms.

“The footprints of BJP are there in the nitty-gritty of the Calcutta High Court order. In cricket match-fixing, some people can predict in advance what will happen next in a match. That’s what happened in this case also. This is like ‘order-fixing’ and ‘court-fixing’.

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“A section of the judiciary in the Calcutta High Court has added a new dimension to betting. The BJP is betting and some people occupying judges’ chairs are becoming partners to it. But people will give a fitting reply in due course,” Banerjee said while addressing an election rally in Purulia on Thursday.

Indirectly referring to former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay, who is the BJP candidate from the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat, Banerjee said, “The judge who was hearing the school job cases earlier is a BJP candidate now. While occupying the chair of the judge, he admitted that the BJP was in touch with him for quite some time and he was also in touch with the party. Now since that judge has joined the BJP, the Calcutta High Court should cease to exist.”

Reacting to Banerjee’s comments, senior BJP legislator Mihir Goswami said the manner in which both the Chief Minister and her nephew are attacking the judiciary, it is high time the court takes suo motu cognizance against those who are resorting to contempt of court.

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–IANS

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Why waste votes by supporting Trinamool when formation of Modi govt is inevitable: PM

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Kolkata, May 28 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that when the formation of a Modi government at the Centre is inevitable, why waste votes by casting them for the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal?

Addressing an election meeting in Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency in support of BJP candidate Anirban Ganguly, the Prime Minister said, “If you ask anyone in West Bengal who will form the government at the Centre, everyone will say that it is going to be a Modi government again. If that is the case, why waste your votes by casting them in favour of Trinamool Congress?”

He also said that casting votes for the Left parties will only help the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal since Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already announced her support for the opposition INDI Alliance.

Stating that the CPI-M and Trinamool are two different parties with the same goal, PM Modi said: “Their shops are different. But the products displayed at both the shops are the same. Whatever they do or say are similar.”

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Referring to the recent order of the Calcutta High Court cancelling all OBC certificates issued in the state after 2010, the Prime Minister said the Trinamool first tried to ensure backdoor entry for Muslims under the reservation quota meant for OBCs.

“Now, when the Calcutta High Court has foiled that plot, the Trinamool leaders are saying they do not accept the verdict only to satisfy its dedicated vote bank,” the Prime Minister said.

He also said that Trinamool should be punished because of its failure to prevent events like what happened in Sandeshkhali.

“On the contrary, the Trinamool government is trying to shield the accused. It only pursues the politics of violence, corruption, and appeasement,” the Prime Minister said.

–IANS

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Bomb threat at Telangana Dy CM’s residence Praja Bhavan

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Hyderabad, May 28 (IANS) Hyderabad Police on Tuesday received a threatening call regarding a bomb at the Jyotirao Phule Praja Bhavan, which is serving as the residence of Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka.

Police teams carried out searches at Praja Bhavan, formerly Pragati Bhavan, in Begumpet area after an unknown person called the Police Control Room to say that a bomb had been planted at Praja Bhavan, which may go off anytime.

Special police teams including the Bomb Disposal Squad, Dog Squad and the disaster response force of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were pressed into action.

However, police did not find anything suspicious during the searches.

Praja Bhavan was the official residence of Telangana Chief Minister till November when the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) was in power.

After the Congress came to power, it is now serving as the official residence of Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka.

The Congress government is also using part of the premises for receiving petitions from the people.

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Meanwhile, reacting to the incident, state minister Seethakka said many people come to Praja Bhavan to submit petitions about their problems and everyone was being allowed to enter the complex. She added that they don’t suspect anyone.

–IANS

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ECI removes Sandeshkhali SDPO three days before LS polls

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Kolkata, May 28 (IANS) The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday ordered the immediate removal of the sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district, Aminul Islam, just three days before polling in nine Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal on June 1.

Sandeshkhali is one of the seven Assembly segments under the Basirhat Lok Sabha seat where polling is scheduled on Saturday.

The ECI also ordered the removal of Koteshwar Rao, the SP of Sundarbans in South 24 Parganas district, which covers parts of two Lok Sabha constituencies — Jaynagar and Mathurapur.

The Commission also ordered the replacement of Debasish Sarkar, the inspector-in-charge of Rahara police station, which comes under the Dum Dum Lok Sabha constituency in North 24 Parganas district.

Sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said that there are clear instructions from the poll panel that these officers cannot be assigned any election-related duty.

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The Commission has asked the state secretariat to send names for their replacements.

–IANS

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Tripura govt to set up Ayurvedic, homeopathy medical colleges soon: CM Saha

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Agartala, May 28 (IANS) Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha said on Tuesday that the state government is planning to set up Ayurvedic and homeopathy medical colleges in the state.

After visiting the State Ayurvedic Hospital here, the Chief Minister added that the state government has recently written a letter to the Centre proposing to set up an Ayurvedic medical college first, followed by the homeopathy medical college.

“There are some issues relating to setting up these colleges in the state and I have directed the concerned authorities that these matters, including land-related issues be resolved, as soon as possible. We are hopeful that these issues will be resolved soon,” he told the media.

“The government is also planning to expand the infrastructure of the State Ayurvedic Hospital here,” said Saha, who himself is an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon and served in a key position at the Tripura Medical College and B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Teaching Hospital in the state’s capital before becoming the Chief Minister in May 2022.

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Accompanied by Health Secretary Gitte Kirankumar Dinkarrao, Chief Minister Saha, who also holds the Health portfolio, said that the people have high expectations regarding the State Ayurvedic Hospital and a significant number of patients, including outpatients, visit daily.

The state government with the support from the Union government has been trying to develop the state’s health infrastructure significantly, he said.

–IANS

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BJP adopts ‘tough stand’ against growing farmers’ clamour in Punjab

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Chandigarh, May 28 (IANS) With clamour growing in Punjab against the BJP nominees in all the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state over a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), the party seems to have adopted a ‘tough stand’ on the issue.

Besides a BJP delegation led by its state unit chief Sunil Jakhar approaching the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Punjab to express concerns over the safety of the party candidates during campaigning, BJP nominees like Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the former Indian Ambassador to the US who’s making his electoral debut from Amritsar, seem to have adopted a tough posture.

“Disheartening to see farmers’ groups silent on drug abuse by Punjab’s youth, especially in the rural belt, worsening law and order, and Amritsar’s sewerage issues while raising slogans against the BJP leaders,” Sandhu said on Monday.

The former diplomat faced the farmers’ ire when he visited the houses of two scheduled caste families to express sympathy and hear their concerns.

The farmers assembled there raised slogans against Sandhu, who in turn questioned the protesters if they had ever visited the families that have been impacted by the scourge of drugs.

“It is a shameful act on the part of the farmers,” added Sandhu, whose vision includes alternatives for agricultural development and sustainability.

Punjab has been the epicentre of protests since the beginning of the farmers’ agitation in November 2020.

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The BJP’s campaign in Punjab revolves around the overall development of the border state, jobs for the youth, ending the drug menace, a robust law and order system, and the betterment of farmers.

The Sikhs constitute 58 per cent of the total population in Punjab, out of which Jat Sikhs are 20-25 per cent, the largest landowners.

Addressing a public gathering in Patiala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said recently, “Punjab is blessed with five rivers. The farmers here have been turning soil into gold. But these INDI Alliance people lie even to the farmers.

“They haven’t fulfilled a single promise made to the farmers. It is the BJP that prioritises the welfare of farmers. In the past 10 years, there has been record procurement of wheat and rice from Punjab. We have increased the MSP by two-and-a-half times in these 10 years.”

Meanwhile, the ruling AAP and the Congress, despite being INDIA bloc partners, are fighting against each other in Punjab.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP, one of the oldest constituents of the NDA which parted ways over the 2020-21 farm law protests, are contesting the elections solo on all seats.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), a Sikh hardliner outfit led by Simranjit Mann, have also fielded candidates on their own.

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Responding to the ongoing farmers’ protests, a senior BJP leader told IANS that the agricultural states, especially Punjab, need more market-driven outcomes that require investments in infrastructure so that the farmers can expand their options to sell and operate in a level-playing field.

“The MSP system will remain an integral part of the agricultural economy that includes subsidised inputs meant to incentivise farmers to adopt new technologies and enhance farm productivity,” he said.

“Daily protests by the farmers have become a pain in the neck for the common man. We are fed up, it’s impacting our business,” Balraj Thukral, a trader in Barnala, told IANS.

This month, Barnala witnessed a clash between traders and farmers as the business community observed a day-long shutdown to protest against the frequent ‘diktats’ of farmer unions over ‘petty issues’.

Besides Sandhu, other BJP candidates, including sitting MP Preneet Kaur from Patiala, former IAS officer Parampal Kaur from Bathinda, sitting MP Ravneet Singh Bittu from Ludhiana, Hans Raj Hans from Faridkot, and Manjeet Singh Manna from Khadoor Sahib are been facing protests, mainly in the rural areas.

Hans Raj Hans was encircled by the farmers when he was enroute Prime Minister Modi’s rally in Patiala on May 23.

Hans later claimed the farmers told him to speak against PM Modi.

“I said I could die for him, but won’t speak against the Prime Minister. Even if you take my life, I will not speak ill of my friend,” he said.

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Stating that the BJP is not anti-farmer, state BJP chief Jakhar told IANS that under the Centre’s Kisan Credit Card scheme, nearly 22.5 lakh farmers in Punjab received a whopping Rs 56,754 crore in the past 10 years.

And under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, Rs 4,758 crore was provided and 24.50 soil health cards were made in Punjab, he said.

Hitting out at the Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government, he said Punjab is reeling under a collapse in leadership that is responsible for the state’s ignominy with kangaroo courts taking roots here.

To recall, in the 2019 general elections, the BJP’s vote share in Punjab was just 9.63 per cent.

Riding on the Ram Temple wave, the BJP this time aims to notably add to its vote share by banking largely on the urban Hindu vote bank, which constitutes 38.49 per cent of the state’s population with a sizeable influence in 34 Assembly segments.

The 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state will go to the polls in the seventh and final phase on June 1. The results will be out on June 4.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at gulatiians@gmail.com)

–IANS

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