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Varied turnout in key bypolls to 13 Assembly seats in seven states (Night Lead)

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Varied turnout in key bypolls to 13 Assembly seats in seven states (Night Lead)

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) Bypolls were held in 13 Assembly constituencies across seven states on Wednesday in the first electoral contest since the Lok Sabha polls with the results likely to have an impact on the political fate of the state’s ruling and opposition parties.

The bypolls were held in West Bengal (4 seats), Himachal Pradesh (3 seats), Uttarakhand (2 seats), Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Punjab (1 seat each) to fill the seats falling vacant due to the demise or resignation of incumbent members.

In Himachal Pradesh, where bypolls were necessitated by the resignation of the sitting Independent members, who later joined the BJP, it was a straight contest between the Congress and the BJP. The stakes are high for Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu with his wife Kamlesh Thakur making her electoral debut from Dehra in Kangra district.

This constituency was carved out after delimitation in 2010 and the Congress has never won this seat.

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The Chief Minister campaigned aggressively in Dehra, compared to two other seats, to ensure victory for Kamlesh Thakur, who is in the fray against BJP nominee Hoshiyar Singh.

Election officials said that Himachal witnessed a voter turnout of over 71 per cent till 7 p.m. and polls were largely peaceful.

As per the Election Commission, the Nalagarh constituency recorded the highest polling of 78 per cent, followed by Hamirpur (67.7 per cent) and Dehra (65.42 per cent).

In Bihar, the Rupauli Assembly segment in Purnea district, where RJD candidate Bima Bharti the only woman among the 11 candidates, registered 52.75 per cent polling till 6 p.m.. Bharti, who had resigned from the Rupauli seat to contest the Lok Sabha elections, faces ruling JD-U’s Kaladhar Mandal (JD-U).

Several incidents of violence were also reported during the day leaving four persons, including an SHO, injured in clashes.

The people allege that the district police forcibly stopped them from polling their votes, leading to a scuffle that escalated into stone-pelting. The district police, however, have denied these allegations.

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Another incident was reported in Gorier village, where the wife of independent candidate Shankar Singh accused the police of carrying out a baton charge on voters. She sat on a dharna, but the situation soon stabilised while the voting resumed.

In West Bengal, the bypolls were held for Raiganj, Ranaghat-Dakshin, Bagda, and Maniktala seats amid violence and alleged malpractices.

The polling saw 62.71 per cent voter turnout by 5 p.m. – as per the last available figures. The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) office has said that the final polling percentage will be available only on Thursday after the completion of the tabulation of reports coming from different polling booths.

The maximum polling percentage was reported from Raiganj in North Dinajpur district at 67.12 per cent, while the lowest was reported from Maniktala in Kolkata at 51.39 per cent.

Over 51 per cent polling was recorded, till 5 p.m., in Punjab’s Jalandhar West (SC) constituency where Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had made the contest a prestige issue by campaigning extensively for his AAP candidate Mohinder Bhagat.

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In Madhya Pradesh, 78.38 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the Amarwara Assembly seat in Chhindwara district – the erstwhile bastion of senior Congress leader Kamal Nath – where the bypoll was necessitated by sitting Congress MLA Kamlesh Shah resigning and joining the BJP, which fielded him.

A low of 47.68 per cent turnout was recorded in Uttarakhand’s Badrinath seat, while Manglaur recorded a high of 67.28 per cent.

In Tamil Nadu’s Vikravandi Assembly seat, where the contest is between the state’s ruling DMK and NDA constituent PMK, with the AIADMK not contesting, 77.73 per cent turnout was recorded till 5 p.m.

An election official said that the results for all 13 seats will be declared on July 13.

–IANS

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Mamata Banerjee hikes Durga Puja donations for clubs to Rs 85,000

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Mamata Banerjee hikes Durga Puja donations for clubs to Rs 85,000

Mamata Banerjee hikes Durga Puja donations for clubs to Rs 85,000

Kolkata, July 23 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced a Rs 15,000 hike in donations for clubs organising community Durga Puja in the state, from Rs 70,000 last year to Rs 85,000 this time.

The Chief Minister also directed the two power distribution utilities — WBSEDCL and CESC Limited — to increase the concession for power supply to the community Puja committees from 66 per cent last year to 75 per cent this time.

This year, Durga Puja will be celebrated from October 9 to October 13.

As per initial estimates, the total outflow of the dole package will be to the tune of Rs 500 crore, including Rs 365 crore as donations to 43,000 puja committees, out of which around 3,000 are in Kolkata while the remaining are spread across the state.

CM Banerjee also announced that the donation amount will be increased to Rs 1,00,000 for each community Puja committee from next year.

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Some economic analysts feel that such enhancement in annual donations to the community puja committees is a wasteful expenditure, saying the state government should instead concentrate more on asset-creating capital expenditures besides reducing avoidable revenue expenditures.

The cash crunch in the state exchequer was evident in the recent decision of the state government to go for rationalisation of manpower instead of fresh recruitments.

In a report last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) expressed concern over the increase in revenue expenditure in West Bengal resulting in a sharp increase in revenue deficit.

The CAG report also raised questions about the budgetary management of the West Bengal government by pointing out the instances of huge excess expenditure under several grants.

–IANS

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BJP appoints TV journalist Pradeep Bhandari as national spokesperson

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BJP appoints TV journalist Pradeep Bhandari as national spokesperson

BJP appoints TV journalist Pradeep Bhandari as national spokesperson

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday appointed TV journalist Pradeep Bhandari as its national spokesperson.

“BJP President J.P. Nadda has appointed Pradeep Bhandari as the party’s national spokesperson with immediate effect,” said the party in a statement.

Pradeep Bhandari also runs a psephology firm named ’Jan Ki Baat’, which has conducted Opinion and Exit polls during Assembly and general elections.

Bhandari joins the list of 30 BJP national spokespersons headed by Lok Sabha MP Anil Baluni, as mentioned on the party website.

Bhandari, in his previous stints, worked with many news organisations including Republic TV, India News, and Zee News.

–IANS

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Encounter starts in J&K’s Kupwara District

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Encounter starts in J&K’s Kupwara District

Encounter starts in J&K’s Kupwara District

Srinagar, July 23 (IANS) A gunfight started in the forest area of Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) Kupwara District between the security forces and terrorists on Tuesday.

Officials said that the security forces started a CASO (Cordon & Search Operation) in Trumkhan forests of Kupwara District after receiving Intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists there.

“As the security forces came closer to the hiding terrorists, they fired at the security personnel triggering an encounter which is now underway”, officials said.

Earlier on Tuesday, one Army soldier was martyred in Battal area of KG sector in Mendhar Tehsil of Poonch District where the Army foiled an infiltration bid by the ultras.

The operation against the militants is still going on in Battal.

Security forces are aggressively carrying out anti-terror operations after the ultras made their presence felt in the mountainous areas of Jammu Division.

Over 4,000 soldiers including those drawn from the elite Para Commandos and those trained in mountain warfare have been deployed in the hilly areas of Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Reasi and Kathua districts of Jammu division.

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–IANS

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Over 4,300 students crossed over to India from B’desh in last 4 days

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Over 4,300 students crossed over to India from B’desh in last 4 days

Over 4,300 students crossed over to India from B’desh in last 4 days

Kolkata, July 23 (IANS) Border Security Force (BSF) on Tuesday said that over 4,300 students, including a Canadian and two Maldivian nationals, have crossed over to India from Bangladesh in the last four days.

“Since Friday, 4,315 students have crossed over the Indo-Bangladesh Border (IBB) and have been provided assistance by the BSF. Of those students who have crossed over, 3,087 are Indians, 41 Bangladeshis, 1,118 Nepalese, 66 Bhutanese, two Maldivians and a Canadian,” an official of the BSF’s Eastern Command said.

He said that these students have undergone medical check-ups and have been provided food.

“Special counters have also been set up for documentation, as and when the need arises. Transportation is also being provided to the students by the BSF to their nearest destinations,” the official said.

Eastern Command ADG BSF Ravi Gandhi has issued an ‘Operation Alert’ – all along the IBB – after nationwide violence erupted in neighbouring Bangladesh.

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“While security has been tightened to prevent any illegal immigration from across the IBB, special care is being taken to ensure the safe return of students from India as well as other countries,” the BSF official said.

BSF’s Eastern Command is entrusted with the responsibility of guarding the IBB passing along 32 districts of five Indian states that adjoin 30 Bangladeshi districts. The IBB stretches for 4096.7 km, 23 per cent of which is riverine and unfenced. This is the fifth-longest land border in the world.

“We are closely monitoring the situation across the IBB while facilitating in safe return of students, in close coordination with sister agencies and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB),” the official said.

He said that the BSF has made all operational and administrative arrangements at the Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) and Land Customs Stations (LCSs) for refreshments, food packets, transportation and health check-ups.

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–IANS

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Budget to create opportunities, unlock multipliers for economy: BSE MD and CEO

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Budget to create opportunities, unlock multipliers for economy: BSE MD and CEO

Budget to create opportunities, unlock multipliers for economy: BSE MD and CEO

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Sundararaman Ramamurthy, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) lauded the Union Budget and its nine priorities for thrust on the middle-class and inclusiveness of all segments including poor, youth, women and farmers – the four pillars of ‘Viksit Bharat’, as often underlined in PM Modi’s speeches.

The MD and CEO of the country’s leading stock exchange said that he finds the Budget “forward-looking, equitable, middle class-oriented, all-inclusive budget covering poor, women, youth, and farmers.”

In a video message, Sundararaman Ramamurthy said, “The Finance Minister’s seventh straight budget has its objective ‘Viksit Bharat’. With clear emphasis on nine priorities, it lays down the road map for infrastructure development, startups, SMEs, job creation and skill development, innovation.”

The BSE MD and CEO expressed confidence that the government’s focus on jobs creation across various segments will set new benchmarks and also have multiplier impact on the economy.

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“This will usher in new opportunities, uplift demand, and unlock multipliers for the economy, including long-term capital formation with fiscal products,” he said.

The nine priority areas that were spotlighted in Finance Minister Sitharaman’s Budget included – productivity and resilience in agriculture, employment and skilling, improved human resources, social justice, manufacturing and services, urban development, energy security, infrastructure, innovation, research and development, and next-gen reforms.

–IANS

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