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Polling continued in few places in Andhra Pradesh till midnight

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Amaravati, May 14 (IANS) Voting in few places in Andhra Pradesh continued till midnight in simultaneous polls to the state Assembly and Lok Sabha while the final voter turnout figure is likely to cross 80 per cent.

According to the Election Commission, 78.36 per cent voters cast their votes but this figure may go up further and surpass the 2019 turnout of 79.64 per cent.

In places like Chintala colony in Tiruvuru (SC) Assembly segment in NTR district, Gotivada Agraharam in Madugula mandal of Anakapalli district, and in Bheemunipatnam in Padmanbham mandal of Visakhapatnam district, polling continued till midnight.

Enthusiasm among voters marked the polling in the southern state as thousands of people living in neighbouring states of Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country came to their native places to cast their votes. Some even came from abroad to participate in the polling process.

More than 4.14 crore voters were eligible to cast their votes in the elections for 175-member Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the single-phase polling.

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Election authorities had set up 46,389 polling centres across the state. The voters decided the political fortunes of 2,841 candidates.

Chief Minister and YSR Congress Party President Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, Jana Sena leader and actor Pawan Kalyan are among 2,387 candidates for 175 Assembly seats.

For 25 Lok Sabha seats, 454 contestants are in the fray and prominent among them are former Union Minister and state BJP chief D. Purandeswari, state Congress President Y. S. Sharmila Reddy and former Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.

The polling, which began at 7 a.m. on Monday, concluded in the Left-Wing Extremist (LWE)-affected segments of Araku, Paderu and Rampachodavaram at 4 p.m. and in three other LWE-affected segments of Palakonda, Kurupam and Salur at 5 p.m.

When the polling came to an end at 6 p.m. in 169 Assembly segments, there were long queues at several polling stations. According to officials, 100 to 200 voters were waiting at about 3,500 polling stations.

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While the process was completed in most of the polling booths by 10 p.m., it continued in a few centres till midnight. Similar scenes were witnessed at some places during the 2019 elections.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) M. K. Meena assured the voters standing in queues when the polling ended at 6 p.m. that no matter how long it takes, they will be allowed to cast their vote. “Anticipating such a situation, we had made necessary arrangements like lighting to continue the process,” he said.

The state had recorded a turnout of 68.04 per cent till 5 p.m. With the reports pouring in from different parts of the state, the Election Commission kept updating it.

On Tuesday morning, the polling figure was revised to 78.36 per cent for Assembly elections. Dharmavaram Assembly constituency recorded the highest turnout of 88.61 per cent while Paderu was the lowest at 55.45 per cent.

The voter turnout was 78.25 per cent for Lok Sabha polls. Amalapaluram constituency recorded the highest polling percentage of 83.19. The lowest was 68 per cent in Visakhapatnam.

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–IANS

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Support AAP to save democracy, says Kejriwal in Punjab

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Hoshiarpur, May 26 (IANS) Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, campaigning in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur, on Sunday appealed to the people to support his party to save the country’s democracy and Constitution.

Addressing a public meeting in support of AAP candidate Rajkumar Chabbewal, Kejriwal said this election “is to save the country’s democracy and Constitution. This is an election to end dictatorship”.

Noting that during the farmers’ movement in 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not allow farmers of Punjab to enter Delhi, he said: “This time you press such a button that Modi is out of power in Delhi. In this election, you take revenge for the farmers’ agitation from Narendra Modi.”

Kejriwal claimed that right after the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP got “me arrested so that I could not campaign”.

“They were afraid that if Kejriwal campaigns, the BJP will suffer huge losses in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and many states of the country. But God heard my voice and released me from jail for 20 days to end the dictatorship of the BJP,” he asserted.

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“The way you strengthened the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab by giving it 92 MLAs, similarly, make us strong at the Centre by giving 13 MPs this time. Then no one will be able to stop Punjab’s funds and even the Governor will not be able to stop any bills of Punjab,” he said.

“Right now the central government has stopped about eight and a half thousand crore rupees of Punjab. Roads and other development works of Punjab’s villages were to be done with that money,” he added.

Kejriwal said that even now, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has to fight alone with the Central government and the Governor. “When our 13 MPs win from Punjab, they will all become Bhagwant Mann’s hands and voice and will fight with the Central government and the Governor for the rights of Punjab along with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann,” he added.

Punjab will go to the polls on June 1 in the seventh and last phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

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–IANS

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Four killed, seven injured in road accident in UP's Kheri

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Lakhimpur Kheri (UP), May 26 (IANS) Four people, including a child, died in a road accident in UP’s Lakhimpur-Kheri district on Sunday, police said.

The accident occurred when a mini vehicle and a roadways bus collided on the Nakaha-Shankarpur highway under the Kheri police station area.

According to the police, seven people have also been injured in the tragic accident, six of whom are in critical condition.

CO, City, Ramesh Tiwari said that the accident took place near Nakaha where a UP roadways bus was going towards Bahraich while the mini vehicle was going on the opposite side towards Lakhimpur.

The injured are being taken to the hospital, he said.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officials to provide proper treatment to the injured persons.

–IANS

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Tejashwi Yadav slams PM Modi for ‘Mujra’ remarks

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Patna, May 26 (IANS) Bihar Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Tejashwi Yadav on Sunday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his ‘Mujra’ remarks, saying the PM should use dignified language against the opposition parties.

Tejashwi Yadav said that PM Modi came to Bihar and said baseless, factless and false things publicly on Saturday where he once again tried to “confuse everyone” but was unsuccessfully in his attempt.

“Such things are not expected from you. We expect a healthy discussion from you as you must take care of the dignity of the post you are holding. The usage of terms like Mujra and Mangalsutra does not suit the Prime Minister of this big-hearted country. To be honest, we are worried about you,” said Tejashwi Yadav, in a letter addressed to PM Modi.

On the caste census, the Bihar LoP said that PM Modi must remember that leaders of all political parties of Bihar met him in August 2021 and demanded the caste census.

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“Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was also in favour of caste census. The proposal for caste census was passed unanimously in the Bihar Legislative Assembly on my initiative. We all demanded a caste census but PM Modi rejected it,” Tejashwi Yadav wrote.

He said that as soon as the JD-U and RJD government came to power in Bihar, it conducted a caste-based survey at the state’s own expense and then in light of that survey, increased the scope of the reservation to 75 per cent.

“We kept you (PM Modi) requesting, again and again, to include it in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution but he always had an anti-backward and anti-Dalit mentality,” Tejashwi Yadav wrote.

He said that the Prime Minister did not consider Bihar’s important requests, which had a Bahujan voice in its favour.

“We had also appealed to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the Eastern Regional Council meeting held in Patna on December 10, 2023,” he said.

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On reservation, Tejashwi Yadav wrote, that PM Modi has found a unique way to end Babasaheb’s reservation which is available for government jobs under Section 15 and Section 16 of the Constitution.

“If you end government jobs in railways, army and other departments then what will be the concept of reservation? Shockingly, this serious concern is not in your priorities. We have urged you (PM Modi) many times in Parliament to make arrangements for reservation in the private sector so that a wide Bahujan population, Dalit community and other deprived groups get their due constitutional rights,” he said.

On reservation of Gujarati Muslims, Tejashwi Yadav said that all Dalits, extremely backward and tribal people know that BJP and PM Modi are staunch ideological enemies of Babasaheb, Birsa Munda, Kanshiram, Ram Manohar Lohia and Mandal Commission.

“I am also attaching the list of Muslim castes under the OBC category in Gujarat. Perhaps you are not aware that 25 castes of the Muslim community also get reservations in Gujarat. You were the Chief Minister of Gujarat for more than 13 years. So, refrain from spreading confusion and politics of hatred in the people,” he wrote.

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He said that instead of fighting a democratic battle, PM Modi is threatening to send a 34-year-old youth (Tejashwi Yadav) to jail.

“Are you not tearing the Constitution into pieces by making such threats? Elections will come and go but do not harm the Constitution and the country’s social structure anymore,” Tejashwi Yadav wrote.

–IANS

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Congress yet to properly apologise for Operation Bluestar: Hardeep Puri

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Chandigarh, May 26 (IANS) Union Minister for Urban Housing, Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri on Sunday said that the Congress was yet to apologise properly for Operation Bluestar at the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple, even after 40 years of operation.

Addressing the media here on the occasion of the release of the BJP’s “Chandigarh Manifesto”, the Union Minister said the Congress was responsible for the massacre of Sikhs which took place after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

Hardeep Puri said the Congress had been describing it as anti-Sikh riots whereas it was a massacre and “not a riot because in a riot, two sides are involved. In the massacre, only one community, i.e. Sikhs were targeted”.

The Union Minister also ridiculed the Congress’ promise of putting Rs 1 lakh in the bank accounts of a woman member of every family.

“This will be a drain of around Rs 32 lakh crore and is practically impossible to implement. It was clear that the Congress was trying to push a false narrative. AAP’s scheme of supplying 300 units of free electricity was also part of the same ‘revdi’ culture about which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had frequently spoken.

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“PM Modi believes that good governance is good politics,” added Hardeep Puri.

The Union Minister also targetted Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal over the corruption charges.

Under PM Modi-led government, there has been a manifold increase in capital expenditure which in turn has led to a spurt in the economic growth rate of the country, he said, adding: “The Indian economy now occupies the fifth place in the world and will soon become the third largest economy in the world.”

Hardeep Puri also said Chandigarh was among the top cities of not only India but also of the world and it must be represented in the Parliament by a person of the calibre of Sanjay Tandon, who was familiar with the city’s ethos and its problems.

Referring to a suggestion that India should open trade with Pakistan, Hardeep Puri said Pakistan had been using terrorism against India as an instrument of state policy.

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“India had now sent a clear message to Pakistan that it would not accept terrorism and that it would kill terrorists in their homes,” he added.

Punjab will go to the polls for its 13 Parliamentary seats along with the lone Chandigarh seat on June 1.

–IANS

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Goa accident: All accused, including contractors, will be prosecuted, says CM Pramod Sawant

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Panaji, May 26 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Sunday said that all the accused persons, including contractors, in the road accident that claimed four lives, will be prosecuted.

Four Bihar labourers were killed and four others injured after a bus rammed into their hutments along the roadside at Verna Industrial estate in the coastal state on Saturday night.

CM Sawant said: “The accident at Verna Industrial estate causing death and injuries is unfortunate. The procedure has been started to prosecute the driver of the bus who drove under the influence of alcohol, along with the contractor and subcontractors who accommodated the labourers dangerously in the huts at the spot. All accused are being charged for causing injuries and death. Government shall also blacklist the contractors and subcontractors. No one shall be spared.”

According to the chief minister, these labourers who were engaged in the work of pavement were provided accommodation along the roadside, which was dangerous and hence contractors would be blacklisted.

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Superintendent of Police (South) Sunita Sawant told media persons that the accident occurred after a bus driver carrying workers of a private company lost control of the steering.

“While negotiating to take a turn, the driver rammed the bus into hutments, where around eight labourers were sleeping. Four of them have died, while four are undergoing treatment at Sub District Hospital in Margao,” CM Sawant said.

She said that these workers, all natives of Bihar, were engaged in construction work of pavement.

Police said that the bus driver has also sustained injuries and is undergoing treatment.

Police are further investigating the case.

–IANS

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