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PM Modi puts BJP juggernaut in pole position ahead of Lok Sabha elections

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New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Shifting BJP’s election campaign into top gear by addressing multiple rallies across India – from Udhampur to Vellore, and Barmer to Rishikesh – Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the past week not only took on the opposition parties on several fronts, but also made it clear that his ambitions remain ‘vast’ as far as maintaining India’s growth trajectory is concerned.

On the other hand, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has raised the pitch ahead of the Lok Sabha elections by urging the voters to vote for the INDIA bloc, asserting that an “ideological battle” is taking place in the country.

Efficiently maneuvering from national to local issues while addressing rallies in various states, PM Modi is not just highlighting his government’s various achievements and initiatives, but is also cautioning against the “divisive agenda of opportunistic alliances”.

Insisting that the INDI Alliance has pushed the country into instability, PM Modi in Chandrapur on Monday mentioned the “transformative initiatives” for Maharashtra’s development, which include reinstating the stalled projects for rapid progress.

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As he addressed a rally in UP’s Pilibhit the next day – the first day of Navratri – PM Modi launched a scathing attack against the opposition, especially the Congress, for having an “anti-Ram mindset” and insulting ‘Shakti’, the divine force.

“Congress leaders have no qualms in insulting Shakti. You should remember that the INDI Alliance is trying to destroy Shakti. The Congress has grossly insulted the power which is being worshipped in the country today. These Congress leaders are talking about uprooting the power before which we bow our heads. These people only have hatred for Lord Ram,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said that the Congress manifesto reads like the manifesto of the Muslim League and follows the policy of appeasement.

“Today, the Samajwadi Party is standing with the Congress, but do you remember the 1984 riots when Sikhs were targeted? The BJP, which opened the Kartarpur Corridor, has always stood by the Sikhs. We celebrate the ‘Parv’ of various Sikh gurus,” he said.

Addressing a massive rally in Vellore on Tuesday, PM Modi attacked the DMK’s brand of politics, saying that “corruption is the party’s copyright”.

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He not only batted for promoting the Tamil culture and language, but also spoke on the “significant contributions” made by the people of Tamil Nadu as India achieves paramount success across arenas.

PM Modi insisted that the 21st century is crucial for a ‘Viksit Bharat’ and a ‘Viksit Tamil Nadu’.

“Our government has laid the foundation for unprecedented development over the last 10 years to enable this. We have taken big and bold decisions amid a weak economy and plethora of scams,” he said.

As he addressed more rallies in Karauli, Udhampur, and Barmer, the Prime Minister raised the issues of terrorism, abrogation of Article 370, border security, and BJP’s respect for the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who was on a campaign trail in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu this week, lambasted the Centre for its “pro-rich focus” while reiterating the party’s five big poll guarantees – caste census, Mahalaxmi Yojana, apprenticeship scheme, MSP for crops, and repealing the Agnipath scheme.

Addressing a rally in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla, which is reserved for ST candidates, the Congress MP from Wayanad said: “The BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi call you ‘Vanvasi’, which means you live in the forest and you will not get possession of your land. Congress calls tribals ‘Adivasi’, which means the first owner of the land and forest.

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“The upcoming electoral contest is between two contrary ideologies. On one side is the BJP and RSS’ ideology of ‘difference’, and on the other is the Congress’ ideology of ‘uniformity’. The people have to decide which one is right.”

In Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli on Friday, Rahul Gandhi took on the BJP for using the ED, CBI, and the Income Tax Department as “political weapons” and also raised the issue of unemployment in the country.

“We are going to take drastic action for employment. As many as 30 lakh government jobs are lying vacant. We will give these 30 lakh jobs to the young people of the country and that will be just the starting point,” he said.

–IANS

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Security beefed up in Kanyakumari ahead of PM Modi's visit

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Chennai, May 30 (IANS) Security has been beefed up in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit who is scheduled to arrive at around 4.45 p.m. in a helicopter from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

The Prime Minister is visiting Kanyakumari for a three-day meditation at Vivekananda Rock Memorial from May 30 to June 1.

Around 3,000 police personnel are in place for the Prime Minister’s visit.

PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to reach the government guest house in the district from the helipad and after that, he will visit the Kanyakumari Devi temple where he will offer prayers.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to travel to the Vivekananda Rock memorial on a ferry and will be in the meditation hall of the Rock memorial for close to 45 hours.

Restrictions are in place in the district and in the Kanyakumari Devi temple where the Prime Minister will reach in the evening for prayers.

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Meanwhile, Congress has opposed the Prime Minister’s three-day stay for meditation. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K. Selvaperunthagai wrote a letter to the Election Commission of India not to grant permission for the visit as it violated the model code of conduct. The Congress leader said that this was a silent election campaign.

–IANS

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Seychelles patrol vessel leaves for home after GRSE completes refit in record time

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Kolkata, May 30 (IANS) There was cheer all around as fast patrol vessel SCG PS Zoroaster set sail from the Rajabagan Dockyard of Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd in Kolkata on Wednesday after completion of its maiden short refit.

The refit was to last 90 days but GRSE added yet another feather to its cap by completing the process in just 60 days. SCG PS Zoroaster was built by GRSE and handed over to the Seychelles Coast Guard by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 8, 2021.

In keeping with modern shipbuilding practices, GRSE — a Defence PSU that has delivered over 100 warships to the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard — not only builds warships but carries out refits, repairs and upgrades on them as and when required.

Accordingly, the refitting of SCG PS Zoroaster began on March 22 this year and was completed on May 24. According to a senior GRSE official, this was possible through meticulous planning and an advanced execution strategy.

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“This is in keeping with India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) vision. Undertaking such a refit for a foreign nation was a unique endeavour for GRSE that will go a long way in strengthening collaborative efforts between India and Seychelles towards enhancing regional stability and security,” the official added.

An Indian Navy team of experts from the Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam carried out sea safety checks after the refit. River trials of the ship’s machinery were also successfully carried out. The team will continue with the checks at sea till the SCG PS Zoroaster stops by at Visakhapatnam before sailing for the Seychelles.

“The ship’s stay at Kolkata was supported by the Indian Navy through INS Netaji Subhas. The crew of the vessel was seen off by the Indian Navy and GRSE and will carry fond memories of their stay in the City of Joy,” the Navy has posted on X.

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–IANS

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J&K: 7 killed, 28 injured after bus falls in gorge in Akhnoor

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Jammu, May 30 (IANS) Seven people were killed and 28 injured on Thursday after a bus carrying pilgrims fell into a deep gorge in J&K’s Akhnoor area on the Jammu-Poonch highway.

Officials said that seven people have died and 28 others were injured after a bus carrying pilgrims went out of the driver’s control near Chungi Morh at Chowk Choura in the Akhnoor area on the Jammu-Poonch road.

The bus was reportedly carrying pilgrims from Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.

The injured have been shifted to Akhnoor Hospital from where those with critical injuries have been referred to the government medical college hospital in Jammu city, officials added.

A massive relief and rescue operation is underway.

–IANS

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Local issues, not national, dominated campaigning for 42 LS seats in Bengal

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Kolkata, May 30 (IANS) With campaigning in the last and seventh phase of polls for nine Lok Sabha constituencies set to end within a few hours, a quick look back shows that local issues took precedence over national matters during the campaigns for the 42 seats in West Bengal.

Although the electorate is voting to elect the government at the Centre, the focus of all political parties in the fray is still on state-centric issues and how the results of the Lok Sabha polls in Bengal will determine the longevity of the ruling government in the state, which is officially scheduled to continue till 2026.

For instance, the BJP has focussed on issues like corruption cases against the state government and Trinamool Congress leaders, charges of sexual harassment of women at Sandeshkhali and misuse of funds released under centrally-sponsored projects.

Interestingly, this line of campaigning has not just been followed by prominent BJP leaders in the state like President Sukanta Majumdar or the Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, but even by the party’s national leadership.

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The campaign speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were full of references of state-specific issues.

Although both PM Modi and HM Shah touched upon national issues like India’s social and economic progress in the last 10 years, the time allotted for the same was too less compared to the references to state-specific issues.

For instance, in the campaigns for the last two phases, PM Modi focussed on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s observations, accusing a section of the monks of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission and ISKCON of acting on behalf of the BJP.

On the other hand, Trinamool Congress leaders, especially Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the party’s General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee devoted most of the time in either defending the allegations made by the BJP or in explaining how the saffron party has deprived the state government of its legitimate dues under different centrally-sponsored schemes.

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In addition, both leaders have dedicated much time on how the NRC, CAA and UCC will be against the interest of the Muslim community and how determined the Trinamool Congress is to block these in West Bengal.

Similarly, in the campaign meetings for the last two phases, CM Banerjee has devoted substantial time in explaining that her comments on the iconic religious institutions were being misinterpreted and she had never been against such entities.

However, one interesting similarity in the campaigns of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress has been their take on the CPI(M) and the Congress.

Both BJP and Trinamool Congress have accused the CPI(M) and the Congress of having a covert understanding with their political rival in the state.

This slur war was kicked off by CM Banerjee when she started describing CPI(M) and the West Bengal unit of the Congress as clandestine partners of the BJP in the state.

Soon the BJP leadership, including PM Modi launched a counter-campaign describing CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress as “enemies in Bengal but partners in Delhi.”

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Surprisingly, even the Congress-Left Front alliance in West Bengal has focussed on state- specific issues while campaigning.

The alliance leaders have mainly talked about three issues, namely cases of corruption, clandestine understanding between BJP and Trinamool Congress and attempts to polarise voters in the state on religious lines by the BJP and Trinamool Congress.

An interesting factor in the Trinamool Congress’ campaign for these General Elections has been the constantly-shifting stand of CM Banerjee on the INDIA bloc.

After claiming that the INDIA bloc will end the tally with over 300 seats, with the BJP stopping at a little over 200, the CM said that she would give outside support to any probable Union government formed by the Opposition alliance.

Within days she shifted her stand and claimed that she is very much a part of the INDIA bloc and will take the lead role in any probable Opposition-led government at the Centre.

–IANS

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Now, a 3-day 'Dharavi Premier League' cricket tourney to kickstart on May 31

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Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) The Dharavi Redevelopment Project Pvt Ltd (DRPPL), a joint venture of Maharashtra Government and Adani Group, will unveil the first three-day cricket tournament, Dharavi Premier League (DPL) to salute the spirit of over one million souls residing in Asia’s largest informal settlement, as per an official statement here on Thursday.

The tourney will be divided into six phases, with the first featuring 14 teams and over 200 players from Sector 1 of Dharavi, which is the largest geographically and population-wise, covering areas of Matunga Labour Camp, Shahu Nagar, Sat Chawl, Valmiki Nagar and Kamala Nagar.

The matches will be played in a 10-over format on a knockout basis at the RPF Grounds in Dharavi under floodlights and shall be governed by the ICC rulebook for T20 cricket, including a third umpire and an equal number of referrals available to both competing teams, on the lines of the professional matches.

The 14 teams from Sector 1 are: Thunder Boltz, Strikers, Valmiki Giants, Team Spirit, Vicky Panthers, Matunga Warriors, Young Boyz, Shahunagar Singhams, Hibah Ke Fighters, Meghdoot Blasters, Ashtavinayak Squad, Morya Boyz, Samrat and Lions Cricket Club.

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The match, with replays, including decisions referred to the third umpire, will be broadcast live on big LED screens and on DPL’s YouTube handle @dharavipremierleague.

The DPL is being organised by the people of Dharavi, who will also provide in-match entertainment, music and food.

Apart from the players, the match referees, umpires, and groundsmen are all residents of Dharavi.

There will be cash prizes for the lucky winners and runners-up, and categories like the man of the match and the player of the series, besides spot prizes for the viewers who come to cheer their favourite teams.

–IANS

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