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Tripartite alliance in Andhra looks set to upset YSR Congress' apple cart

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Amaravati, April 7 (IANS) Cashing on the anti-incumbency, the grand alliance of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Jana Sena Party (JSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may upset the ruling YSR Congress Party’s apple cart in the next month’s polls to Andhra Pradesh Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The coming together of TDP, JSP and BJP appears to have given the alliance an edge in what is expected to be a close fight.

The return of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s sister Y.S. Sharmila Reddy to state politics and her joining of the Congress party may also play spoilsport for the ruling party.

With the JSP of Tollywood star Pawan Kalyan as their partner, TDP and BJP will be looking to repeat the success of 2014.

The forging of an alliance with BJP and JSP appears to have given a psychological edge to TDP supremo and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who has his eyes set on another term as the CM. With Pawan Kalyan ready to play second fiddle and a limited number of seats allotted to the two partners, 73-year-old Chandrababu Naidu is the face of the tripartite alliance.

Analysts say transfer of votes among the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners may prove to be the key to its success.

The alliance is likely to avoid a split of anti-incumbency votes.

In addition to this, if Congress under Sharmila manages to eat into Dalit Christian votes of YSRCP, this may further dent the prospects of Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu are leading the campaigns of their respective parties.

The Chief Minister, whose party has already completed two rounds of campaign, is currently on ‘Memanta Siddham’ (We are ready) bus yatra while Chandrababu Naidu is running the campaign titled ‘Prajagalam’ (people’s voice).

Interestingly, both the leaders started their campaigns from Rayalaseema, a backward region they come from. Both the leaders launched an offensive on each other’s strongholds.

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Raising the pitch, Chandrababu Naidu is asking at public meetings why not Pulivendula.

He was responding to YSRCP’s plans to wrest Naidu’s Kuppam seat.

Pulivendula in Kadapa district is considered a pocket borough of Jagan Mohan Reddy’s family for over four decades while Chandrababu Naidu has been representing Kuppam since 1989.

Pawan Kalyan is focussing on Godavari districts, where his party is contesting most of the 21 Assembly seats allotted to it under the seat-sharing formula.

The JSP has also fielded candidates for two Lok Sabha seats.

The alliance is taking on YSRCP over the issues of its destructive politics, corruption, unemployment, mounting public debts, alleged lack of new investments, U-turn on state capital Amaravati, failure to implement total prohibition, and law and order problems.

Allegations over former minister Vivekananda Reddy’s murder, attack by Jagan’s sister Sharmila, and cousin Sunitha Reddy that he was shielding the murder accused provided further ammunition to the opposition.

In what is seen as an embarrassment for Jagan, the YSR family stands vertically divided in its stronghold of Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency with Sharmila entering the fray as Congress candidate against cousin Y.S. Avinash Reddy, who is seeking re-election for a third consecutive term as YSRCP candidate.

Five years after the murder of Jagan’s uncle Vivekananda Reddy, the sensational case has again taken the centre-stage.

Terming Avinash Reddy a ‘killer’, Sharmila and Vivekananda Reddy’s daughter Sunitha have appealed to people to defeat Jagan and Avinash.

The YSRCP is banking on the welfare schemes implemented by it during the last five years to seek a fresh mandate.

Jagan Mohan Reddy claimed to have implemented 95 per cent of poll promises.

At election meetings, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy claimed that the YSRCP government has so far disbursed Rs 2.45 lakh crore under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes.

Claiming that his government has implemented 95 per cent of poll promises, he said people in all villages would only remember the village secretariats, volunteer system, Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs), door delivery of pensions, village clinics, family doctors, Mahila Police, Jagananna Aarogya Suraksha and free power supply to farmers ushered in by him.

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Jagan, whose party is contesting the polls on its own, is calling himself a lion who will single-handedly take on its opponents who have all ganged up.

“Despite working for 14 years as Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu has no achievements to his credit as he spent his entire tenure indulging in scams and pursuing the policy of plunder, stash, and devour. He has no political values and credibility except telling lies, cheating people, and backstabbing,” Jagan Mohan Reddy said at one of his public meetings.

In 2019, YSR Congress wrested power from TDP with a landslide victory, bagging 151 seats in the 175-member Assembly.

It polled 49.95 per cent votes. The TDP was a distant second with 23 seats and 39.17 per cent votes.

Jana Sena, which had contested the polls in alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left parties, had polled 5.53 per cent votes.

Jana Sena had contested 137 seats but could win just one seat.

Pawan Kalyan himself suffered defeat in both the seats he contested.

The BJP went alone in 2019 and drew a blank.

It polled a mere 0.84 per cent votes.

As caste plays a key role in Andhra Pradesh elections, the alliance is hoping to wean away the sections that predominantly voted for the YSR Congress in 2019.

The TDP is hoping to get the support of Backward Class voters in addition to their traditional supporters Kammas.

Reddys, another socially and politically influential community, may be divided in their support for Jagan.

Jana Sena is hoping to get the support of Kapus, a numerically strong and influential community in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Accounting for over 20 per cent of the state’s 5 crore population, Kapus had overwhelmingly voted for the TDP-BJP combine in the 2014 general elections, for which Pawan Kalyan had campaigned extensively.

In the 2014 elections, the difference in the vote share between the victorious TDP-BJP combine and the opposition YSRCP was a mere 1.6 per cent.

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The TDP-BJP combine got 46.69 per cent votes against YSR Congress’ 45.01 per cent.

The TDP won 102 and the BJP bagged five seats to emerge with a clear majority in the 175-member state Assembly, while YSRCP bagged 67 seats.

In Lok Sabha, the difference between the two sides was slightly higher at 2.34 per cent.

While the TDP-BJP combine got 47.95 per cent votes, the YSR Congress came close second with 45.61 per cent.

But this was enough to almost double the seats of the TDP-BJP, which bagged 17 Lok Sabha seats against eight of the YSR Congress.

This time, the TDP has left six Lok Sabha seats for the BJP and two for the JSP.

It has also allotted 10 Assembly seats to the BJP and 21 to the JSP.

Political analysts say for Chandrababu Naidu keeping BJP on his side will give him some psychological advantage.

It was for this reason that the TDP chief was keen on reviving ties with the BJP.

The BJP was cautious given its past experience with Naidu but Pawan Kalyan persuaded the BJP leadership to join the alliance to end the ‘anarchic’ rule of YSRCP. The TDP is also trying to woo voters with its ‘Super Six’ guarantees.

These promises are free bus travel to all women, three free gas cylinders to every household per year, Rs 15,000 per year to every school-going child, 20 lakh job opportunities or unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000 per month, Rs 1,500 per month to every woman above 18 years, and financial assistance of Rs 20,000 per year to every farmer.

The YSR Congress, on the other hand, is highlighting the ‘poor track record’ of Naidu in fulfilling the promises and cautioning the beneficiaries of various welfare schemes that if they fall for his guarantees, they will lose even the existing benefits.

–IANS

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Fan's murder: Actors Darshan, Pavithra not cooperating, hiding facts

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Bengaluru, June 13 (IANS) The Karnataka Police are investigating the murder of 33-year-old Renukaprasad allegedly by Kannada superstar Darshan, his ‘second wife’ Pavithra Gowda and others who have told the court that Darshan and Pavithra Gowda were not cooperating with the investigation, sources said on Wednesday.

The remand application was submitted before the court on Tuesday.

The remand application also mentions that Darshan and Pavithra were also hiding the facts.

Considering the petition, the court had sent the accused to a six-day custody to the police.

Meanwhile, the investigation has revealed the involvement of 17 persons in connection with the murder of Renukaswamy.

Among the 17, four persons are absconding according to the police and a hunt has been launched against them.

The accused are identified as Jagadish aka Jagga, Anu, Ravi and Raju.

The police have named 33-year-old Pavithra Gowda as the main accused and 47-year-old actor Darshan alias D Boss as the second accused.

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The other accused is Puttaswamy aka Pavan. K (29), Raghavendra (43), Nandeesha (28), Vinay (38), Nagaraju (41), Lakshmana (54), Deepak (39), Pradoosh (40), Karthik alias Kappe (27), Keshavamurthy (27) and Nikhil Nayak (21).

The remand application submitted to the court by the police states that the case has been registered against the accused under the IPC Section 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence and giving false information to screen offender), sources said.

The accused Raghavendra, Karthik, Nikhil Nayak and Keshavamurty had surrendered before the police on June 10 at 7 p.m. and claimed that they had killed Renukaswamy and disposed of the body near a gutter.

After being questioned all the four accused revealed the role of other accused persons, including Darshan.

The police have arrested 13 persons in connection with the murder case.

–IANS

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Gujarat govt introduces new safety rules to prevent Rajkot gaming zone-like fire incidents

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Ahmedabad, June 13 (IANS) The Gujarat government on Wednesday announced new safety measures to prevent incidents like the Rajkot gaming zone fire incident, in which at least 27 people were killed.

Gujarat Cabinet Minister Rushikesh Patel announced the launch of “The Gujarat Amusement Rides and Gaming Zone Activities (Safety) Rules-2024” by the Home Department, aimed at ensuring the safety of citizens visiting amusement rides and gaming zones.

This initiative, which directly responds to the tragic Rajkot TRP game zone fire, aims to prevent any similar incidents statewide.

Rushikesh Patel also said that the government is seeking public input on these new safety regulations.

Citizens can email their objections and suggestions regarding the rules to the Home Department at home@gujarat.gov.in by June 25.

“Once finalised, the new regulations will be officially published. With these measures, the Gujarat government aims to enhance safety protocols and ensure that incidents like the Rajkot TRP (game zone) fire are never repeated,” Patel added.

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The proposed rules have been published on the Home Department’s website, where citizens can review them and provide feedback.

These rules mandate that an amusement ride intended for operation for at least three months can be installed with prior permission from the licensing authority.

Upon receiving the application, the licensing authority will forward it to relevant authorities for No Objection Certificates (NOCs) related to fire safety, building use, structural stability, health, sanitation, and electrical installations.

The licensing authority will then consider recommendations from the City Ride Safety and Inspection Committee or the District Ride Safety Committee before granting permission, which will be issued in Form B with specific terms and conditions, or the application will be refused in writing.

Any major changes in design, specifications, or installation methods must receive prior approval.

The licensing authority will issue a written direction specifying the approved deviations and any conditions to be complied with.

Furthermore, the installation of amusement rides must be supervised by a qualified person, ensuring that all work and tests adhere to the authorised designs, specifications, installation methods, and conditions of the installation permit.

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Regular inspections must be conducted to maintain compliance with these standards.

–IANS

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15 Himachal products get GI tag

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Shimla, June 13 (IANS) Fifteen products from Himachal Pradesh have been registered under the Geographical Indication (GI).

This fact came to light in an exhibition featuring registered and potential GI products at the Indira Gandhi State Sports Complex here.

State Chief Secretary Prabodh Saxena inaugurated the event that would continue till June 16.

The exhibition showcases about 15 GI products which include Kullu shawl, Kangra tea, Chamba rumal, Kinnauri shawl, Kangra painting, Himachali kala jeera, chulli oil, Chamba chappal and Lahauli socks and gloves.

Additionally, potential GI products identified for registration include Chamba metal craft, Kinnauri jewellery, Spiti chharma, Bharmour rajma, Pangi ki thangi, Chamba chukh, red rice, dasangru and Sirmauri loia, Karsog kulthi, Himachali dham, Himachali musical instruments, Kinnauri apple, and sepu badi.

An application has been made for the registration of Chamba metal craft.

Saxena, while emphasising the importance of GI tags, said these tags were given to products with a specific geographical origin such as Chamba rumal, Chamba chappal, Kangra tea and Kangra painting.

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He said the registration of GI products provides legal protection, enhances their export potential and promotes the economic prosperity of producers in specific geographical areas.

The exhibition offers an opportunity for both locals and tourists to learn about GI products and purchase valuable traditional items.

–IANS

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POCSO case: Victim's brother moves K'taka HC seeking Yediyurappa’s arrest, govt appoints SPP (Ld)

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Bengaluru, June 13 (IANS) In a setback to former Chief Minister and BJP Parliamentary Board member B.S. Yediyurappa, a writ petition was submitted in the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday seeking his arrest in a POCSO case lodged against him in Bengaluru before the Lok Sabha elections.

Taking the matter seriously, the Congress government has appointed special public prosecutor (SPP) Ashok N. Nayak to represent the prosecution in the case. According to sources, the Congress government has decided to initiate legal action against Yediyurappa.

The victim’s brother filed the writ petition before the high court, claiming that the police did not take any action though it has been months since the complaint was filed against the veteran BJP leader.

The victim’s mother, who passed away on May 26, had filed a case against Yediyurappa in March this year under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, alleging harassment of her daughter when she went to the former CM’s residence seeking help in a 2015 case of assault.

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The petitioner claimed that the CCTV footage from Yediyurappa’s residence was not seized, and neither was a notice served to the BJP leader under Section 41A, which is a basic step in a POCSO case.

Meanwhile, Yediyurappa had also approached the high court seeking quashing of the POCSO case against him.

He submitted in his petition that he did not indulge in any unlawful act, and alleged that the complainant had a habit of filing complaints.

“I had attended the interrogation after the FIR was lodged. The police had collected voice samples but did not record my statement,” Yediyurappa claimed.

In March, the victim’s mother had filed complaints against 53 persons, including senior police officers, politicians, and bureaucrats.

Commenting on the case, Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara said on Wednesday that the investigation is going on and the police are gathering more evidence.

Earlier, the Congress government in Karnataka handed over the case to the special wing of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

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–IANS

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Kuwait fire tragedy: Around 40 Indians killed, says MEA; Jaishankar speaks to Kuwaiti FM

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New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Wednesday spoke to his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya about the fire tragedy in Kuwait City in which around 40 Indians are feared to have died.

According to reports by Kuwaiti media, the fire broke out in a six-floor building that was crammed with migrant workers in the city’s al-Mangaf area.

EAM Jaishankar, in a post on X, said: @Spoke to Kuwaiti FM Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on the fire tragedy in Kuwait. Apprised of the efforts made by Kuwaiti authorities in that regard. Was assured that the incident would be fully investigated and that responsibility will be fixed.”

S. Jaishankhar said that he urged the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister for the early repatriation of the mortal remains of those who lost their lives.

“He emphasized that those injured were getting the requisite medical attention. We will review the situation after MoS Kirtivardhan Singh reaches Kuwait tomorrow,” he added.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier on Wednesday chaired a review meeting on the fire tragedy in Kuwait at his residence.

PM Modi also announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of deceased Indian nationals from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

The Prime Minister expressed his deep sorrow at the unfortunate incident and extended condolences to the families of the deceased. He also wished speedy recovery for those injured.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the External Affairs Ministry (EAM) said: “In an unfortunate and tragic fire incident in a Labour housing facility in Mangaf area of Kuwait, around 40 Indians are understood to have died and over 50 injured. The Embassy is ascertaining the full details from the concerned Kuwaiti authorities and the company. We offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families.”

The EAM statement mentioned that those injured are presently admitted to five government hospitals in Kuwait and receiving proper medical care and attention. According to hospital authorities, most of the admitted patients are stable.

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The EAM statement further said: “Following the incident, Ambassador of India in Kuwait, Adarsh Swaika, immediately visited the location of the incident and also the hospitals to ascertain the welfare of the Indian nationals. The Embassy continues to coordinate with local authorities to assist Indian nationals who have been injured in this unfortunate incident and extend all possible support. The Embassy is receiving full cooperation from the Kuwaiti authorities.”

The statement also said that the Indian Embassy in Kuwait continues to remain in touch with local authorities to provide relief to those affected.

“The Embassy has established a helpline +965-65505246 (WhatsApp and regular call) for family members to get in touch. Regular updates are being provided through the helpline,” the EAM said.

The fire broke out while the workers were asleep, and some residents had to jump from the building in an attempt to survive, Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas reported, citing witnesses.

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Kuwait’s Emir Meshal Al Ahmad has ordered investigations to determine the cause of the blaze and bring to account those found responsible, Kuna said.

–IANS

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