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PM Modi performs Ganga Pujan, visits Kaal Bhairav temple in Varanasi

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Varanasi, May 14 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday, performed ‘Ganga Pujan’ at Dashashwamedh Ghat in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi on the occasion of Ganga Saptami.

He then proceeded towards NaMo ghat on the cruise to offer prayers at the Kaal Bhairav temple and seek permission from the deity, also known as ‘Kashi Ke Kotwal’, to file his nomination papers for a third term.

It is believed that anyone who comes to Kashi needs to seek permission from Kaal Bhairav for his visit.

While talking to reporters on the cruise, the Prime Minister said that he had first come to Varanasi in 2014 when Maa Ganga called him.

“Now that my mother is no more, I feel Maa Ganga has filled that vacuum and I feel the same emotion for her,” he said on an emotional note.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will file his nomination around 11.30 a.m.

Twelve Chief Ministers from BJP-ruled states are expected to be present when PM Modi files his nomination for a third consecutive term from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.

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Besides, several Union Ministers, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah, and presidents of various NDA allies are also likely to be present there on the occasion.

–IANS

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J&K: Enthusiastic voters line up in Anantnag-Rajouri LS constituency as voting starts

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Anantnag, May 25 (IANS) Enthusiastic voters came out early Saturday morning to exercise their franchise in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency.

Voters were seen forming small queues since the morning as poll authorities said a large voter turnout is expected in the constituency.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, only a 9 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Anantnag while Rajouri and Poonch polled 72 per cent votes.

These statistics cannot be taken as the baseline to determine Saturday’s voter turnout in this constituency since after delimitation two districts of Jammu division, Poonch and Rajouri, were added to Valley’s Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency while Pulwama district was deleted from this constituency and was made a part of Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

South Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam and parts of Shopian have been the worst militancy-affected districts in the Valley.

Extensive security arrangements with the deployment of large numbers of CAPFs and the local police have been made in the constituency to provide a safe, free and fearless environment to the voters.

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The Election Commission has set up 2,338 polling stations for 18,36,576 voters, including 9,33,647 male, 9,02,902 female, and 27 third-gender voters. The voter list also includes 17,967 persons with disabilities and 540 individuals over the age of 100.

There are 25,000 migrant voters in the constituency for whom special polling stations have been set up in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi.

For uninterrupted communication with polling staff at remote booths, satellite phones and wireless sets have been provided.

As many as 19 polling stations are located along the Line of Control (LoC), where additional security deployment has been made.

There are 20 candidates in the fray in this constituency. The main contest is, however, between Mian Altaf Ahmad, senior Gujjar/Baksrwal leader of the National Conference (NC), Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister and president of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Zafar Iqbal Manhas of J&K Apni Party.

The BJP has unofficially supported the Apni Party candidate and has not fielded any candidate in this constituency.

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Pahari community living in Poonch and Rajouri districts form a significant number of voters in the constituency. The community was recently given ST status by the government.

In addition to the Pahari community, Gujjar/Bakarwal community also form a significant part of the constituency’s electorate.

Mian Altaf Ahmad of the NC has a predominant influence among the Gujjar/Bakarwal community which cuts across party lines since the Mian is considered to be the religious leader of this community.

Voting started at 7 a.m. and will end at 6 p.m.

–IANS

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Delhi L-G, AAP accuse each other of hatching conspiracy to trouble voters

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Delhi Lieutenant Governor V.K. Saxena and AAP leaders late on Friday accused each other of hatching a conspiracy to trouble voters and vitiate the polling process in the national capital, where voting started on Saturday morning.

In a post on X, AAP Minister Atishi said, “Information has been received that the Delhi Lt Governor today (Friday) ordered Delhi Police to slow down voting in areas where there are a large number of INDIA bloc voters so that people face difficulty in casting their votes. Any such attempt by the administration to make the BJP win is illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional. And I hope the Election Commission will take cognizance of this, and stop any such attempt.”

Replying to the post, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “This is shocking. EC should ensure smooth voting in Delhi.”

Later, the Lt Governor’s office issued a statement, saying: “Information has been received that on the orders of Arvind Kejriwal, who is out on interim bail till June 1, power and water minister Atishi Marlena has instructed the power companies and Delhi Jal Board to deliberately cut power supply and stop water supply tonight (May 24) and throughout the day tomorrow (May 25) so that the people of Delhi are troubled.”

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“The LG has directed that these orders of Kejriwal should not be followed. Information has also been received that Kejriwal is doing this so that he can habitually confuse and cheat the people of Delhi by blaming the Central government,” it stated.

In a post on X at 12.27 a.m. Saturday, the Lt Governor called Atishi’s statement unwarranted and false.

“You have made it a habit, Kejriwal sahab, to keep crying irrespective of the situation you may be in. I have taken a stern view of this unwarranted & false statement on the eve of election against a constitutional authority by a Minister, endorsed by you,” Saxena wrote.

–IANS

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Polling for 14 LS seats begins in UP; Maneka Gandhi, Nirahua in fray

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Lucknow, May 25 (IANS) Voting for 14 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh started at 7 a.m. on Saturday in the sixth and penultimate round of elections.

The Lok Sabha seats in the state on which polling is underway are Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Shrawasti, Domariyaganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Lalganj, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Machhlishahr and Bhadohi.

According to the Election Commission, 2.70 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

Sant Kabir Nagar has the highest number of 20.71 lakh voters, while the Allahabad (Prayagraj) constituency has the lowest 18.25 lakh registered voters.

Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Electoral Officer Navdeep Rinwa said that in all, 14 constituencies, including two reserved seats of Lalganj and Machhlishahr, there are 1.43 crore male voters, 1.27 crore female voters and 1,256 third gender voters.

A total of 162 candidates, including 16 women, are contesting in this phase with a maximum of 26 contestants from Pratapgarh and a minimum of six from the Domariyaganj seat.

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The key candidates in this phase include Maneka Gandhi in Sultanpur, who is seeking her ninth term in the Lok Sabha. She is contesting against Samajwadi Party’s Ram Bhual Nishad and Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Udraj Verma.

In Allahabad, Neeraj Tripathi, son of former West Bengal governor Kesari Nath Tripathi, is the BJP candidate competing against Ujjawal Raman Singh of the Congress. Singh is the son of Reoti Raman Singh, who represented the seat from 2004 to 2014.

In Azamgarh, incumbent MP Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua is seeking to retain his seat for the BJP, facing off against Samajwadi Party’s Dharmendra Yadav, who lost to Nirahua in the 2022 by-poll.

The seat was previously held by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in the 2019 elections.

Jaunpur will see former Maharashtra minister Kripa Shankar Singh of the BJP competing with Samajwadi Party candidate Babu Singh Khushwaha and the incumbent MP Shyam Singh Yadav of the BSP.

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In Bhadohi, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi of the Trinamool Congress is in the race, while in Ambedkar Nagar, BJP’s Ritesh Pandey is up against former minister Lalji Verma of the Samajwadi Party.

In Sant Kabir Nagar, BJP incumbent Praveen Nishad is contesting against Samajwadi Party’s Pappu Nishad.

Meanwhile, police have made elaborate security arrangements for the sixth phase of polling taking place in the state.

DGP Prashant Kumar said, “To ensure successful conduct of voting, 8,840 inspectors/officers, 68,191 head constables/constables, 48,091 home guards, 49 companies of PAC, and 229 companies of Central Armed Police Force (BSF/ITBP/CRPF/CISF/ SSB/RPF) have been deployed. Additionally, 18,862 village guards and 443 PRD personnel have been mobilized as force multipliers.”

–IANS

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Polling for all 10 Lok Sabha seats begins in Haryana

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Chandigarh, May 25 (IANS) Polling started across all the 10 Lok Sabha seats of Haryana amid tight security on Saturday morning in the sixth and penultimate phase of the general elections.

Electors across the state could be seen reaching polling stations even before voting started at 7 a.m. The voting will be held till 6 p.m.

A total of 2,00,76,786 voters, comprising 94 lakh women, will decide the fate of 223 candidates, after weeks of heated campaign barbs.

“There has been no report of any delay in starting the poll process,” an electoral officer told IANS here.

The main contest is between the Congress and the state-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The polling will see some high-profile contestants in key battles. Among them are two-time Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who is contesting his first Lok Sabha election from Karnal, Congress leader Deepender Hooda from Rohtak, and Union Ministers Rao Inderjit Singh from Gurugram, against whom the Congress has pitted actor Raj Babbar, and Krishan Pal Gurjar.

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Besides the Lok Sabha polls, there is a bypoll for the Karnal Assembly seat, the seat vacated by Khattar, where Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, the outgoing Lok Sabha MP from Kurukshetra, is among the nine candidates in the fray. Saini had replaced Khattar as the Chief Minister in March.

Votes will be counted on June 4.

“Police are on high alert for any anti-social elements spreading rumours on social media. Strict action will be taken against offenders, who will face severe legal consequences,” said Director General of Police Shatrujeet Kapur.

Chief Electoral Officer Anurag Agarwal has appealed to the voters to exercise their franchise and ensure their participation in the biggest festival of the country.

A total of 20,031 polling stations have been set up in the state. These include 19,812 permanent and 219 auxiliary polling stations. As many as 5,470 polling stations have been set up in urban areas and 14,342 polling stations in rural areas.

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Agarwal said that 176 model polling stations have been established. There are 99 polling stations which will be operated entirely by women staff. Besides, 96 polling stations are manned by youth staff and 71 polling stations by persons with disability.

All basic facilities and necessary arrangements have been put in place in view of the heat wave.

He said that apart from the returning officers, more than 96,000 officers and employees (except security forces) will be on duty in the polling stations.

Also, flying squads, observers along with micro observers will be present at different polling stations.

In 2019, the BJP won all 10 constituencies, with a vote share of 58 per cent, improving its tally from 2014 when it managed to win seven out of the eight constituencies it had contested.

However, the BJP’s vote share slipped to 22 per cent in the Assembly polls in October 2019.

–IANS

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Voting begins for penultimate phase of Lok Sabha polls

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Voting began at 7 a.m. on Saturday for the penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha polls with over 11 crore voters in 58 seats across eight states/UTs eligible to seal the fate of the 889 candidates in the fray.

Polling is being held in all the 10 seats in Haryana and seven constituencies in Delhi, eight seats in Bihar, four in Jharkhand, six in Odisha, 14 in UP, and eight seats in West Bengal, apart from the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency in Jammu and Kashmir, where the election was deferred from the third phase on May 7.

Voting for 42 seats of the Odisha Assembly is also being held in the state’s third phase of simultaneous polling.

Among the prominent BJP candidates in this phase are Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan from Odisha’s Sambalpur, former Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar from Karnal, late Union Minister Sushma Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj making her electoral debut from New Delhi, former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi from UP’s Sultanpur, and former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangophadhyay from West Bengal’s Tamluk.

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Kumari Selja from Haryana’s Sirsa, Raj Babbar from Gurgaon, former JNUSU chief Kanhaiya Kumar from North East Delhi (all Congress), PDP President and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti from Anantnag-Rajouri, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav from UP’s Azamgarh and actor-politician Deepak ‘Dev’ Adhikari of the Trinamool Congress from West Bengal’s Ghatal are also in the fray.

The Election Commission said that 11.4 lakh polling officials have been deployed to facilitate voting by 11.13 crore voters – 5.84 crore male, 5.29 crore female and 5,120 third-gender – across 1.14 lakh polling stations.

In view of the soaring temperatures, the poll panel said that CEOs and state machinery concerned have been directed to take adequate measures to manage the adverse impact of hot weather or rainfall wherever predicted, while assured minimum facilities like shade, water, toilets, volunteers, and wheelchairs have been arranged.

The Election Commission has called upon voters to turn out in greater numbers, with the electorate of urban centres like Delhi, Gurugram, and Faridabad especially reminded about their right and duty to vote and break the trend of urban apathy.

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With this phase, Delhi, Haryana, and J&K will join the 25 states/UTs where polling has already been concluded in the earlier five phases and contests will be over in 486 constituencies.

–IANS

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