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Rohan Gupta quits Cong citing insult to Sanatan Dharma, character assassination by senior

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New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) In more trouble for the Congress, its National Spokesperson, Rohan Gupta, resigned from all posts and the primary membership of the party on Friday, citing “constant humiliation” and “character assassination by one of the senior leaders in the Communication Department” of the grand old party and insult to Sanatan Dharma.

The resignation by Rohan Gupta comes a day after the Congress was left red-faced on Thursday by senior leader Anand Sharma castigating the party and opposing former party President Rahul Gandhi’s caste census promise. In a letter to party President, Mallikarjun Kharge, veteran leader Anand Sharma wrote that the Congress never engaged nor endorsed identity politics and hence it is detrimental to democracy.

Just a few days before his resignation on Friday, Rohan Gupta had withdrawn his candidacy from the Ahmedabad East Lok Sabha seat. Rohan Gupta’s father, Rajkumar Gupta, was once an MLA in Gujarat and had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2004.

In his resignation letter to Congress chief Kharge, Rohan Gupta said that he had served the party with honesty and sincerity with the support of the national leadership and it was the most “difficult decision of his life” to withdraw his candidature and put his personal ambitions aside.

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Without naming anyone, Rohan Gupta stated that even as he was going through a personal crisis due to his father’s illness, the same leader had continued his smear campaign against him “for the last three days with the support of his close aides in Gujarat and at the national level.”

He wrote that he was going through a lot of “mental agony” and “stress” due to the leader’s behaviour and this had compelled him to resign.

Apart from the resignation letter to the party chief, the leader also put out a post on micro-blogging site X, which gave a larger picture of the infighting within the Congress.

In his emotional post on X, Rohan Gupta wrote, “I spent the last 3 days with my father while he is battling serious health conditions, which has really helped me understand his perspective.

“He narrated the incidences of betrayal and sabotage for the last 40 years and how the leaders got away in spite of their ill-doings. The wounds of those incidences have still not healed, which I could see in his tears.

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“He doesn’t want me to pay the same price as the whole family has seen the mental trauma I have gone through in the last two years, which was caused by the senior leader connected with the Communication Department.”

He added, “I am not afraid of anything. But when there is a systematic conspiracy to betray me, I need to raise my voice. My humbleness should not be considered as my weakness. I have learnt my lessons the hard way. I took the most difficult decision of my life of withdrawing my candidature. Now I am taking another most difficult decision of leaving the party after serving it for the last 15 years because of constant humiliation and character assassination by the leader connected with the Communication Department.”

“The person who has humiliated me for the last two years, the person who has not budged from doing it in the last three days, I am sure that he will not refrain from doing it in future and nobody will be able stop him. But now I am not ready to take any more assault on my self-esteem,” he wrote in his post.

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He continued that the same leader had damaged the Congress party also with his arrogant and rude behaviour.

“Due to his extreme Leftist mindset he ensured the party’s silence on insult of Sanatan Dharma which hurt me personally and I was forcefully stopped from opposition (to) insult of Sanatan Dharma on national TV. “This has done serious damage to the party’s image and to the morale of the party’s leaders. The leadership should not ignore such activities by such leaders which leaves imprints of insult on the souls of honest workers and leaders and compels them to leave the party. Some might see conspiracy here but people close to me will understand my viewpoint,” he stated in the post.

–IANS

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Fire breaks out at baby care centre in Delhi, 11 infants rescued

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) At least 11 newborn babies were rescued after a fire broke out at a baby care centre in Delhi’s Vivek Vihar area, a fire department official said, adding that the rescue operation is underway.

Delhi Fire Service (DFS) chief Atul Garg said that a fire call from a baby care centre, near IIT, Block B in Vivek Vihar has been received.

“A total of nine fire tenders rushed to the site. Rescue operation going on and so far 11 newborn babies rescued,” said Garg.

–IANS

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Massive fire at Rajkot amusement park leaves 35 dead; 'extremely distressed’, says PM Modi (2nd Ld)

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Rajkot, May 26 (IANS) At least 35 people, including 12 children, were reportedly killed in a massive fire at an amusement and theme park in Gujarat’s Rajkot city on Saturday.

The fire broke out at ‘TRP’ — an amusement and theme park — when it was teeming with children, causing chaos and panic.

It is suspected that the fire might have started due to a short circuit.

A Fire Department official said: “The reason for the fire has yet to be ascertained. The attempts to douse the fire are underway. We are facing difficulty in the firefighting operation because the temporary structure has collapsed and also due to the wind velocity.”

Rajkot District Collector Prabhav Joshi said: “The firefighters managed to control the fire, but fumes are still emanating from the debris, and we fear more people could be trapped beneath.”

Sources said the owner of the amusement park has been arrested.

The place was inundated with crowds because of the weekend. The intensity of the fire was so fierce that smoke was seen billowing from the shopping mall from a long distance.

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The state government has announced a compensation package of Rs 4 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for every injured person.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel expressed his condolences and assured swift action.

In a post on X, he said: “The state government will provide Rs 4 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured. In this regard, a Special Investigation Team has been formed and assigned to investigate the incident.

“Instructions have been given to the Municipal Corporation and the administration for immediate rescue and relief operations in the fire incident in the game zone in Rajkot. It has been instructed to prioritise arrangements for immediate treatment of the injured.”

Expressing grief over the tragic incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post on X: “Extremely distressed by the fire mishap in Rajkot. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their loved ones. Prayers for the injured. The local administration is working to provide all possible assistance to those affected.”

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“The fire tragedy in Rajkot has saddened us all. In my telephone conversation with him a short while ago, Gujarat CM Bhupendrabhai Patel Ji told me about the efforts underway to ensure all possible assistance is provided to those who have been affected,” the Prime Minister said in another post.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said: “I am deeply saddened by the accident that happened in the game zone of Rajkot (Gujarat). I have spoken to the Chief Minister Shri @Bhupendrapbjp ji and got information regarding this accident.

“The administration is making every possible effort for relief and rescue work and is providing treatment to the injured. I express my deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones in this tragic accident and wish for the speedy recovery of the injured.”

Mourning the incident, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a post on X: “The news of the death of many people including innocent children due to a massive fire in the gaming zone of a mall in Rajkot, Gujarat, is very painful. I express my deepest condolences to all the bereaved families. I hope that all the injured recover as soon as possible.”

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–IANS

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Over 61 per cent voting in LS polls' 6th phase, enthusiastic J&K voters set another record (Lead)

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Over 61 per cent turnout was recorded in 58 seats in 8 states/UTs that went to polls on Saturday in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha polls, ranging from 79.47 per cent in West Bengal (8 seats) to 54.03 per cent in UP (14 seats), while J&K’s Anantnag-Rajouri seat logged an impressive 54.30 per cent – the highest in several decades, the Election Commission said.

The approximate turnout, as of 11.45 p.m., was 61.20 per cent, the poll panel said.

“The same 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 earlier phases,” it said in a statement.

The EC noted that “in spite of hot weather in certain parts of the country, voters were undeterred in their enthusiasm as they were seen queuing up patiently to cast their votes across the country”, and a large number of voters were still in the queue at some polling stations at the prescribed time of closing of the poll.

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The turnout in other states/UTs was 69.56 per cent in Odisha (6 LS seats and 42 Assembly seats), 63.76 per cent in Jharkhand (4 seats), 60.4 per cent in Haryana (10 seats), 57.67 per cent in Delhi (7 seats), and 54.03 per cent in UP (14 seats).

A total of 889 candidates were in the electoral fray, including Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan from Odisha’s Sambalpur, former Union Maneka Gandhi from UP’s Sultanpur, former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangophadhyay from West Bengal’s Tamluk, industrialist Naveen Jindal from Haryana’s Kurukshetra (all BJP), Kumari Selja from Haryana’s Sirsa, Deepender Singh Hooda from Haryana’s Rohtak, J.P. Agarwal from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk (all Congress), PDP President and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti (Anantnag-Rajouri), and actor-politician Deepak Adhikari Dev from West Bengal’s Ghatal (Trinamool Congress).

Other prominent contests included Union Minister Sushma Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj making her electoral debut from New Delhi against Aam Aadmi Party’s Somnath Bharti, Congress’ Raj Babbar taking on Union Minister and sitting MP Rao Inderjit Singh in Gurgaon, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav against sitting BJP MP Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirhua’ in Azamgarh.

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In Delhi, President Droupadi Murmu, CJI D.Y Chandrachud, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leaders Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi, CEC Rajiv Kumar and ECs Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, cricketer Kapil Dev, and actress Chitrangda Singh were among those who cast their votes.

Polling in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat, where elections were deferred from the third phase on May 7, in Jammu and Kashmir was completely peaceful, with enthusiastic voters taking the turnout to the highest in many decades. The other two seats of the Kashmir Valley – Srinagar (38.49 per cent), and Baramulla (59.1 per cent) – also recorded turnouts which were highest in many decades.

With this phase, Delhi, Haryana, and J&K joined the 25 states/UTs where polling has already been concluded in the earlier phases and the number of parliamentary seats where the fate of the candidates has been sealed in the EVMs reached 486.

Polling for the remaining 57 seats, in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha, as well as Punjab, Chandigarh, and Himachal Pradesh, will be held on June 1.

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–IANS

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Meghalaya set to attract investments worth Rs 8K cr, says CM Conrad Sangma

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Shillong, May 25 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Saturday said that the state is projected to attract substantial private investment worth Rs 8,000 crore.

“The possible investment in Meghalaya is an outcome of the new industrial policy that has created an ecosystem for ease of doing business,” the Chief Minister said while addressing a workshop on “Human Development Leadership Programme” in Tura.

Talking about policies that “previously discouraged investors”, he said: “The system was tedious and time-consuming. Our new industrial policy has provided a framework to give clearance to different statutory requirements within a specified time frame, which is facilitating investors.”

He said that close to Rs 4,000 crore investment has come through in the last one year, which includes a Rs 2,500 crore thermal power plant to generate 450 MW electricity, ethanol plant, beverages and a five star hotel chain.

Sangma also said that the government was taking steps to boost Internet connections in the state.

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“The optical fibre connection will further boost the IT-enabled service sector,” he said.

The Chief Minister also spoke about the new five-star hotel projects that are coming up in Shillong, Sohra and Umiam, and a three-star hotel in Tura, all through private investment, adding the hotel would promote business environment and job opportunities to the youth.

“Hotels, air connectivity, and high-speed Internet would encourage more IT companies to set up their enterprises in the state. The Shillong IT Park has provided jobs to more than 3,000 youths directly and indirectly and many more companies have expressed their keen desire to set up BPOs in the state,” CM Sangma said.

He further said: “Companies are now shifting their focus from cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad to our state, as they know that we have the human resources and the capacity. Our people have good command over languages and work ethics, which is an added advantage.”

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–IANS

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Sizzling Rajasthan: Phalodi hottest in country at 50-degree C

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Jaipur, May 25 (IANS) Phalodi in Rajasthan recorded the maximum temperature in the country on Saturday at 50-degree Celsius.

Jaisalmer at 48.9-degree Celsius was the second hottest place in Rajasthan on Saturday, followed by Barmer (48.8), Bikaner (47.2), Churu (47), Jalore (46.9), Fatehpur (46.7), Kota (46.3), Ganganagar (46.2), Chittorgarh (45.8), Karauli (45.2), and Vanasthali (45.2).

The intense heatwave forced people indoors on Saturday as around 16 districts in the state witnessed a maximum temperature of over 46-degree Celsius.

The Jaipur Meteorological Centre has predicted a drop in the maximum temperature by 2-3 degrees in some parts of eastern Rajasthan from May 29 onwards, and in Western Rajasthan from May 30 onwards.

In the first week of June, the maximum temperature in most parts of the state is expected to be recorded near normal.

–IANS

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