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Setback to BRS as its Nagarkurnool MP Ramulu joins BJP

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Hyderabad/New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) In a setback to Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Nagarkurnool MP Pothuganti Ramulu joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday.

Ramulu, also a former minister, joined the BJP along with his son and BRS youth leader Bharat Prasad and other leaders at the BJP headquarters in Delhi.

BJP parliamentary board member K. Laxman, national secretary Tarun Chugh, and Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar welcomed them into the party.

BJP national Vice president D. K. Aruna, Tamil Nadu co-incharge K. Sudhakar Reddy and BJP national spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam were also present.

Ramulu has not been on good terms with BRS Nagarkurnool district president Guvvala Balaraju and other leaders.

The 71-year-old was keen to get a ticket for his son this time. After the Congress came to power in telangana, he was reportedly in touch with Congress leaders and was planning to switch loyalties. However, after Congress leader and former MP Mallu Ravi staked claim for Nagarkurnool ticket, Ramulu started looking towards THE BJP and finally joined the saffron party.

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Ramulu had resigned as a government teacher in 1994 to join politics. He was elected to the Assembly in united Andhra Pradesh on A Telugu Desam Party (TDP) TICKET from Achampet constituency the same year. He retained the seat in 1999 and served as the sports and Youth Services Minister in Chandrababu Naidu’s Cabinet. He was re-elected from Achampet in 2009.

After the formation of Telangana, he quit the TDP and joined the TRS (now BRS). He was elected to Lok Sabha from Nagarkurnool in 2019. Ramulu is the second MP to quit BRS this month. On February 6, Peddapalli MP, B. Venkatesh Netha had resigned from the BRS to join the Congress.

The BRS had won nine Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2019. The BJP had bagged four seats and Congress three seats. The AIMIM had retained Hyderabad.

–IANS

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Has Agnipath Scheme been relaunched? Govt says fake WhatsApp message doing rounds

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) The government on Sunday dismissed reports that the Agnipath Scheme has been relaunched, terming the social media message fake and clarifying no such decision to this effect was taken.

“A #fake WhatsApp message claims that the Agnipath Scheme has been re-launched as ‘Sainik Saman Scheme’ after review with several changes including duty period being extended to 7 years, 60 per cent permanent staff & increased income… GOI has taken no such decision,” the Press Information Bureau clarified on its X handle.

The fake message doing rounds contained a number of spelling mistakes, making it appear questionable.

The opposition, which has been critical of the Agnipath Scheme from the outset, aggressively questioned its credibility during the Lok Sabha polls campaign with the Congress ‘promising’ to do away with the scheme if voted to power at the Centre.

The Agnipath Scheme is a “tour of duty style” scheme that was implemented in September 2022 for the recruitment of soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers into the three services of the armed forces only for a four-year period.

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Personnel recruited under this system would be called Agniveers.

–IANS

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'No consultation': Kharge slams relocation of Mahatma, Dr Ambedkar statues in Parliament complex

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday slammed the government for “arbitrarily” removing the statues of many great leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, from their prominent places in the Parliament House Complex and their relocation “to a separate corner”.

He termed the action, taken without any consultation, as violative of the “basic spirit of our democracy”.

“The statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar were situated in prominent locations and of other major leaders at appropriate locations after due deliberation and consideration. Each statue and its location across the Parliament House complex holds immense value and significance.”

“The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a meditative posture located right in front of old Parliament Building held immense significance for India’s democratic polity. Members paid their respects at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi imbibing within themselves the spirit of Mahatma. It is at this place that Members often conducted peaceful and democratic protests, drawing strength from their presence,” he said in a statement.

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“The statue of D. Babasaheb Ambedkar too had been placed at a vantage point conveying the powerful message that Babasaheb is extolling the generations of parliamentarians to steadfastly hold on to values and principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. Incidentally, during my student days in mid-60s, I was in the forefront demanding for installation of statue of Babasaheb in the precincts of the Parliament House,” Kharge noted.

“Such concerted efforts eventually resulted in installing of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue at the place where it was hitherto before placed. The prior placement of Babasaheb statue also facilitated seamless movement of people paying their tributes to him on his birth and death anniversaries,” the Congress chief said, adding that “all this has now been brought to a naught in arbitrary and unilateral manner”.

He noted that there is a dedicated Committee called the “Committee on the Installation of Portraits and Statues of National Leaders and Parliamentarians in the Parliament House Complex,” which includes MPs from both Houses, but this had not been reconstituted since 2019.

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“Such decisions made without any proper discussion and deliberation with relevant stakeholders are against the rules and traditions of our Parliament,” he said.

The Congress President’s reaction came as Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, inaugurated the newly constructed Prerna Sthal at the Parliament House Complex, where all the statues of eminent Indian leaders and freedom fighters, previously dispersed across different places in the Parliament House complex, have been brought at one place.

–IANS

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EVM row: Silicon Valley's bigtech billionaires should not meddle in India's democracy, says Milind Deora

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Amid raging controversy over Tesla and X boss Elon Musk’s “EVM can be hacked” claim, Shiv Sena MP and former Union Minister Milind Deora on Sunday said Silicon Valley’s bigtech billionaires should not meddle in India’s democracy.

In a post on X, Milind Deora said: “I’m a fan of @elonmusk as an innovator, but not of Silicon Valley’s #BigTech billionaires meddling in India’s democracy. Still, I asked #ChatGPT — co-founded & funded by Musk — about EVMs.

He also added ChatGPT’s take in this regard.

The ‘conversation’ reads like: “Do India’s EVMs use a SIM card?” Replying to Deora’s question, the chatbot answered: “No, India’s Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) do not use SIM cards. They are standalone devices that are not connected to any network, making them immune to remote hacking. The design and function ability of EVMs ensure that they operate independently without the need for any external connectivity, which enhances their security and reliability in conducting elections.”

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Deora’s observations on the matter came after opposition parties including Congress, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena UBT raised concerns over the reliability of EVMs.

–IANS

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J&K: Trial run begins on world's highest railway bridge in Chenab, rail services to begin soon (Ld)

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) In a major advancement towards its ‘dream project’, the Indian Railways on Sunday conducted the first train trial run from Sangaldan to Reasi, including crossing the Chenab bridge in Jammu and Kashmir — the highest railway bridge in the world.

The railway officials also conducted an inspection of the newly constructed line and also took stock of the railway stations between Sangaldan in Ramban district to Reasi in Jammu and Kashmir.

Situated at about 359 metres above sea level, the Chenab bridge not only makes for a breathtaking view but also shows how the engineering marvel continues to surprise the world.

Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw took to his social media handle and shared a video of the first trial run passing through the Chenab bridge.

“All construction works for the USBRL are nearly finished, with only Tunnel No 1 remaining partially incomplete,” he wrote.

The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) will see trains plying on the 272 km stretch while also passing the picturesque Chenab bridge.

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The USBRL, expected to be completed by the end of the year, will provide all-weather connectivity to the valley.

The engineering marvel will not only cut down the geographical obstacles to the region but will also bring it at par with modern and multi-pronged infrastructure.

The 1.3 km Chenab rail bridge, located 35 meters higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, forms a crucial part of the project.

The Jammu and Kashmir Administration has already revealed its plans to develop the bridge as a ‘tourist spot’.

The ambitious project was expected to be completed by February this year, but it missed the deadline.

The Railways under Ashwini Vaishnaw’s stewardship has kept this project on a high focus and as reports suggest, it has also been listed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s first 100 days of work.

–IANS

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Act tough to save youth from drug menace, Punjab BJP chief tells CM

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Chandigarh, June 16 (IANS) Expressing shock and anguish over 14 deaths reported in Punjab in 14 days owing to drug abuse, Punjab BJP President Sunil Jakhar on Sunday urged Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann to act tough to save Punjab’s youth from this menace.

“These tragic deaths have shaken the people and a Chief Minister, who every other day sells fake dreams of making a ‘Rangla Punjab’, must be forced to understand his duty towards the state,” Jakhar said in a statement.

“Punjab today needs an effective and urgent crackdown against those directly responsible for this heinous crime of killing our youngsters,” he said, adding the government has failed miserably to control drug menace with daily reports of drugs being available easily in villages and towns.

Jakhar reminded Bhagwant Mann of his own AAP MLAs publicly disclosing names of those under whose direct patronage drug trade is flourishing in the state and yet no action had been taken ever in the past two years.

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“What more information does the CM need to at least order a probe and bring those, however powerful, behind these deaths to book,” Jakhar asked.

–IANS

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