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Prominence accorded to Sunita Kejriwal at INDIA bloc rally sparks political buzz

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New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) The presence of – and prominence accorded – to Sunita Kejriwal, the wife of jailed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, at the INDIA bloc rally in the national capital on Sunday has triggered speculations about the possibility that she could take a political plunge in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

What made her presence at the rally more conspicuous was the message of her husband Arvind Kejriwal that she read out in what appeared to be an attempt to strike an emotional chord with the audience at the Ramleela Maidan.

Sunita Kejriwal, since the arrest of her husband, has released several video messages, which is being seen as a political strategy of the Aadmi Aadmi Party (AAP) to give her a broader political space.

The question doing the rounds in political circles is whether Arvind Kejriwal is planning to hand over the reins of power in Delhi to his wife. The BJP leaders are already saying that Sunita Kejriwal is preparing to be the next Chief Minister of Delhi ever since her husband was taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

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Recently, Sunita Kejriwal also initiated the ‘Kejriwal ko Aashirwad’ campaign sharing two Whatsapp numbers for his supporters to send their messages and extend their support.

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 by the ED in the alleged excise policy scam and is currently in the financial probe agency’s custody.

Sunita Kejriwal shared the dias with top opposition leaders including Congress chief Malliarjun Kharge, MPs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar, and Sitaram Yechury.

She began her address by posing a poignant question regarding the Prime Minister’s role in her husband’s arrest, asking whether it was justifiable.

“I want to ask a question. Is it justifiable that our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imprisoned my husband? Do you believe in the integrity and patriotism of Kejriwal Ji? Despite calls from BJP members for his resignation due to his incarceration, do you think he should step down?,” she said, before reading out the letter by the Delhi Chief Minister.

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“Remember, your Kejriwal is resilient like a lion; they cannot confine him for long. Kejriwal lives in the hearts of crores of people because of the bravery and courage with which he is fighting for the country. Many times, I feel that in the freedom struggle, he was a freedom fighter who was martyred while fighting for the country. Even in this birth, Kejriwal ji has probably been sent to fight for Mother India,” Sunita Kejriwal said.

Portraits of Bhagat Singh and B.R. Ambedkar alongside the Tricolour in the background of Sunita Kejriwal’s video messages garnered more attention than her speech itself.

Social media buzzed with discussions about Sunita Kejriwal’s speculated political debut. Many posts drew parallels with Rabri Devi, who assumed the role of Bihar Chief Minister in 1997 after her husband Lalu Prasad was jailed in a corruption case.

However, it’s worth noting that Sunita Kejriwal holds no official position within the AAP and her occasional appearances haven’t triggered significant political responses.

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Reacting to Sunita Kejriwal’s address, Union Minister Anurag Thakur sarcastically remarked that the AAP leader’s wife has now joined the list of aspirants vying to succeed Arvind Kejriwal.

BJP MP Manoj Tiwari questioned Sunita Kejriwal’s past actions, highlighting instances where she seemingly stood by as her husband “broke promises”. He also criticised her for assuming a position of power amid controversies surrounding Arvind Kejriwal’s governance.

The most noteworthy reactions, however, centred around Sunita Kejriwal delivering speeches from the same seat that her husband typically used to occupy during his addresses. While some interpreted this as a symbolic transfer of power within the AAP leadership, others questioned her right to occupy the “Chief Minister’s seat”.

The AAP has reiterated that Arvind Kejriwal will continue serving as the Chief Minister. Nevertheless, the party has refrained from commenting on speculations regarding Sunita Kejriwal’s possible foray into politics.

–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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60.09 per cent voting in fifth phase of LS polls, Baramulla turnout touches pre-turmoil levels (Lead)

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New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Voting in the crucial fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls, spanning 49 seats in 8 states/UTs, ended on Friday with an estimated 60.09 per cent polling, spanning from a high of 74.65 per cent in West Bengal (7 seats) to a low of 54.29 per cent in Maharashtra (13 seats), though the Bollywood brigade and top business honchos were out in full force to set an example for the electorate.

The figures for the other states/UTs, as of 11.30 p.m., were 69.62 per cent for Ladakh (1 seat), 67.59 per cent in Odisha (5 seats as well as 35 Assembly seats), 63.07 per cent in Jharkhand (3 seats), 57.79 per cent in Uttar Pradesh (14 seats), 56.73 per cent in J&K (1 seat), and 54.85 per cent in Bihar.

The voting percentage “shall continue to be updated by the field level officers as polling parties keep returning and will be available PC wise (along with respective AC segments) live at VTR App, as was the case in the earlier phases,” the Election Commission said.

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It also said that the “data displayed here are as per the information being filled in the systems by the field officers. This is an approximate trend, as data from some polling stations (PS) takes time and this trend does not include Postal Ballot. The final account of votes recorded for each PS is shared in Form 17 C with all polling agents at the close of polls”.

Baramulla, witnessing a multi-cornered contest, saw a multitude of enthusiastic voters, and the turnout, provisionally pegged at 56.73 per cent, was the highest since 1984 in the pre-insurgency era, and the 46.65 per cent recorded in 1996, as per the EC.

Election officials of the UT said that it could touch 59 per cent.

Around 9 crore voters, braving the heat in several parts of the country, headed for the polling booths through the day after polls opened at 7 a.m. to decide the fates of 695 candidates.

However, the Election Commission rued that constituencies in cities like Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, and Lucknow continued the trend of urban apathy as noticed in the 2019 polls. On the other hand, voters and leaders also complained of the slow pace of polling which deterred some voters.

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However, in Mumbai, Bollywood and, to a lesser extent, television stars turned up to exercise their franchise, including Amitabh Bachchan, who showed up with wife Jaya, Deepika-Ranveer, Sanjay Dutt, Kajol, Tabu, and Shah Rukh Khan, who happily posed for the shutterbugs with his wife Gauri and son Aryan.

Most of the stars were happy to simply flash their inked index finger, but some, notably Dharmendra, Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpayee, and Rajkummar Rao gave statements to the media, urging Mumbaikars to vote.

Top industrialists and corporate leaders, including Ratan Tata, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, and Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, accompanied by daughter Ananya Birla, also cast their vote.

The fifth phase may have been the smallest in number but contained a large number of high-profile seats from where top Union Ministers, including Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Piyush Goyal (Mumbai North) and Smriti Irani (Amethi) and leaders of national and regional parties, including Rahul Gandhi (Raebareli), Omar Abdullah (Baramulla), and Chirag Paswan (Hajipur) were contesting.

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Other key contests were in Kalyan where Shiv Sena’s Shrikant Shinde, son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, is in the fray, UP’s Kaiserganj, where sitting BJP MP and former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh stood aside for his son Karan Bhushan Singh.

In Bihar’s Saran, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter Rohini Acharya is facing BJP candidate and former Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, while in West Bengal’s Hooghly, Trinamool Congress candidate and actress Rachna Banerjee is up against actress-turned-politician Locket Chatterjee of the BJP.

With the end of the fifth phase, polling has been completed in 428 Lok Sabha seats across 25 states/UTs with Maharashtra and Ladakh joining those where the poll process has concluded.

The next and penultimate phase, comprising 58 seats, is slated to be held on May 25, with Haryana and Delhi joining in for a single-phase polling.

–IANS

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605 complaints in Gurugram resolved after being received on C-Vigil app

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Gurugram, May 21 (IANS) The Gurugram district administration has resolved 605 online complaints related to the Lok Sabha elections in the district which were lodged on the C-VIGIL app, a top poll officer said.

District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav said that the C-VIGIL app is one of the major mobile apps of the Election Commission, on which any citizen can make a complaint regarding a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in an election.

“As of now, 654 complaints have been received on this app, of which 605 have been settled. Whereas 49 complaints were not found related to the Model Code of Conduct,” he added.

He said that 22 teams have been formed in the district to follow the MCC.

Of these, seven teams are working in the Sohna Assembly constituency and five teams each in Gurgaon, Badshahpur and Pataudi constituencies.

Whenever any complaint is received on C-VIGIL, it is immediately sent from the control room to the flying squad teams of that area.

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According to instructions of the Election Commission, a complaint is required to be resolved within 100 minutes.

“On average, every complaint is being resolved in Gurugram in 83 minutes. The toll-free number ‘1950’ was activated in the Gurugram Secretariat only after the elections were announced by the Election Commission. As many as 6,725 calls have been received on this number since March,” Yadav added.

Most of these complaints were regarding making voter cards and inquiring about polling booths and voter identity cards, he said.

He added that of the 6,725 nearly 6,591 queries were resolved satisfactorily, while 134 calls were found not related to Gurugram district.

–IANS

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