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Rajnath Singh, Anurag Thakur, Parshottam Rupala in TN today to campaign for BJP candidates

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Chennai, April 8 (IANS) Senior BJP leaders and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Anurag Singh Thakur and Parshottam Rupala will hit the campaign trail in Tamil Nadu on Monday.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be attending a roadshow at Keerabur at noon to campaign for K.P. Ramalingam, the party’s state vice president and candidate from the Namakkal Lok Sabha constituency,

Rajnath Singh will attend a public programme at 2 p.m. at Therku Veedhi in Tirivarur to campaign for BJP’s candidate S.G.M. Ramesh.

The Union Defence Minister will wind up his programme for the day by attending a roadshow at 4.45 p.m. for the BJP candidate B.John Pandian at Ilanji in Tenkasi.

Union Minister, Anurag Singh Thakur will inaugurate the Tamil language Janam Television operations at 9.30 a.m. He will address a meeting of the Rajasthan Youth Association at the Madras Trust auditorium for the election campaign of BJP leader Tamilisai Soundararajan at 1.45 p.m.

Anurag Singh Thakur will attend a roadshow at 4 p.m. in Avadi for the campaign of BJP leader, V.Pon Balaganapathy. The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting will attend a rally at 6.30 p.m. for party contestant Paul Kanagaraj at Srinivasa Nagar in Kolathur.

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BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Animal Husbandry Parshottam Rupala will meet the fishermen community members at 11 a.m. at Kasimedu in Indira Nagar for the election campaign of BJP candidate Paul Kanagaraj. At 1.30 p.m. he will attend a public event at Kuppam, Kovalam for the election campaign of Tamilisai Soundararajan.

The BJP after snapping ties with AIADMK is aiming to win seats in the state and senior leaders of the party, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah will be in the state for campaigning.

–IANS

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Centre sacks NTA chief amid NEET, UGC-NET row

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The Centre on Saturday sacked National Testing Agency (NTA)’s Director General (DG) Subodh Kumar Singh amid the ongoing row over alleged irregularities in the NEET and UGC-NET.

India Trade Promotion Organization’s Chairman and Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola, a retired IAS officer, has been given the additional charge of the post of the DG, NTA.

The decision was taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

The services of Singh have been placed on compulsory wait in the Department of Personnel and Training, according to a notification issued by the Appointments Committee.

Earlier in the day, the Education Ministry constituted a high-level committee of experts to make recommendations on reform in the mechanism of the examination process, improvement in data security protocols, structure and functioning of the NTA.

Recently, the UGC-NET was cancelled just a day after the examination were conducted. Also, the NTA on Friday announced the postponement of Joint CSIR-UGC-NET, which was scheduled for June 25-27.

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–IANS

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Raj Bhavan's communique on oath ceremony of 2 Trinamool MLAs creates confusion

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Kolkata, June 22 (IANS) Confusion has been created over the swearing-in ceremony of two newly elected Trinamool Congress MLAs in West Bengal following a communique from the office of Governor C.V. Ananda Bose.

In the communique sent by the Raj Bhavan to the two Trinamool MLAs, Reyat Houssen Sarkar and Sayantika Banerjee, June 26 has been mentioned as the date of the swearing-in ceremony, but there is no clear mention as to who will administer the oath.

West Bengal Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay claimed the fresh communique breaches the tradition followed for the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected MLAs.

“The message just says that anyone nominated by the Raj Bhavan will administer the oath. This is not only insulting, but also against the protocol,” Chattopadhyay said.

He also questioned the process of forwarding the communique directly to the two MLAs instead of sending it to the Assembly Speaker.

“We will discuss the matter and take decisions as per the directive of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” Chattopadhyay said.

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Although 18 days have passed since Sarkar and Banerjee got elected in the bypolls, their oath ceremony is caught in the middle of a communication gap between the state secretariat and the Raj Bhavan.

Earlier, two communiques were sent from the state Assembly to the Governor’s office for quick completion of the swearing-in process, but Raj Bhavan sources said there was a procedural error as such messages should come from the office of the state Parliamentary Affairs Minister.

–IANS

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Webcasting in all booths to ensure fair elections during Bengal bypolls

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Kolkata, June 22 (IANS) In an attempt to ensure free and fair polling during the Assembly bypolls in four seats in West Bengal on July 10, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to have webcasting facilities at all the polling booths across the four constituencies.

Sources in the office of the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said that in the recent Lok Sabha polls, complaints were received regarding malfunctioning of the webcasting system from some booths.

“Strict instructions have been received to make proper preparations so that the webcasting system remains full-proof at all the booths this time,” said an official in the CEO’s office.

The Election Commission also wants the entire polling process to be conducted under blanket security cover of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), for which 55 companies of CAPF are being deployed.

“The number is quite high considering that only four Assembly constituencies are going to the polls on July 10,” the official said.

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Of the 55 companies, 51 will be deployed at the polling stations while the remaining companies will be kept on reserve.

The maximum deployment (15) will be made in Bagda in North 24 Parganas district, followed by 12 each in Maniktala in Kolkata, Raiganj in North Dinajpur district, and Ranaghat Dakshin in Nadia district.

The results of the bypolls will be announced on July 13.

–IANS

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Meagre MSP may aggravate agrarian crisis in Maha, cautions farm leader

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Mumbai, June 22 (IANS) The recent hike in minimum support prices announced by the Centre is peanuts and could further worsen the agrarian distress in Maharashtra, cautioned a veteran farmer’s leader, here on Saturday.

Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Kishore Tiwari said that the MSP for 2024-2025 announced by the government for certain Kharif crops range from Rs 117/quintal to Rs 983/quintal, compared to the previous year (2023-2024).

Citing the official data of Ministry of Agriculture, Tiwari said that the difference in the new MSP for certain crops over the previous year is: Paddy Common and Paddy Grade A with an increase of Rs 117/quintal each; Moong (Rs 124/q); Bajra (Rs 125/q); Maize (Rs 135/q); Jowar Hybrid and Jowar Maldandi (Rs 191/q); Soyabean (Rs 292/q); Groundnut (Rs 406/q); Ragi (Rs 444/q); Urad (Rs 450/q); Cotton Medium Staple and Long Staple (Rs 501/q each); Tur (Rs 550/q); Sunflower Seed (Rs 550/q); Sesamum (Rs 632/q); and Niger Seed (Rs 983/q).

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“This is nowhere near the recommendations of Dr. M. S. Swaminathan Commission formula of cultivation costs plus 50 percent profits. The new MSP is just peanuts and will fuel the farmlands crisis, already serious with average 8 farmers’ suicides daily in the past few months,” warned Tiwari.

He said that the official figures released by the Centre has not only disappointed the farming community in Maharashtra and elsewhere but has also raised concerns with the fresh drought situation and their existing debt burdens.

Besides, Tiwari said that the farmers are suffering from the impact of global climate change, decline in production, doubling of cost of production and agricultural inputs in the past two-three years, hostile markets and import policy, and ignoring the panels or the farmers representatives before taking the decision on MSP.

He reiterated the demand to implement the Dr. Swaminathan Commission directives in toto to curb the farmland suicides, and announce the fresh MSP to avoid the peasants’ ire in the coming state assembly elections.

ALSO READ:  Uttar Pradesh witnesses searing campaign amid scorching heat

–IANS

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Ahmedabad cops seize drugs valued at Rs 3.5 cr concealed in parcels

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Ahmedabad, June 22 (IANS) The Ahmedabad Crime Branch has busted an international drug smuggling network that used parcels containing clothes and toys to hide and transport narcotics, including liquid drugs and high-quality marijuana.

Officials recovered 58 packets of hybrid marijuana and two bottles of liquid drugs, valued at over Rs 3.5 crore, concealed ingeniously in books, teddy bears, and other children’s toys. The parcels, originating from the US and Canada, were identified and intercepted with the assistance of sniffer dogs and subsequent videography documentation during the unboxing process.

Additional Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Bharat Patel, highlighted the sophisticated methods employed by the traffickers, who leveraged social media platforms to promote and distribute their illicit products.

“The careful monitoring of social media and information from informants has played a crucial role in unmasking this new modus operandi,” said Additional ACP Patel. He also noted the collaboration with the Customs Department, which had suspected such activities.

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The investigation has revealed that the parcels were often addressed to non-existent people at incorrect addresses — a tactic used by the smugglers to evade detection. Known courier companies were manipulated into shipping these parcels. Once the parcels were in transit, accomplices would track them using a unique code, receive delivery details, and intercept the parcels before delivery.

“The operation has not only prevented significant quantities of drugs from circulating on the streets but also helped us identify several individuals involved in the operation, shedding light on a broader network,” added Patel.

The crime branch has registered an FIR and is continuing its investigation to apprehend everyone involved in this intricate smuggling ring.

–IANS

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