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Friday,14-May-2021

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26% turnout in Assam Assembly polls

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Voting-begins

Around 26 per cent voters have cast their ballots so far on Saturday in the first phase of the Assam Assembly polls which is underway amid heavy security in 47 constituencies, according to election officials.

Saturday’s voting is being held in the Assamese heartland comprising the south and north banks of the Brahmaputra river.

After casting his vote at a school in Dibrugarh, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who is contesting from Majuli, told the media that that Bharatiya Janata Party (Bjp) would get more than 100 seats in the 126-member Assembly.

The first phase of polling will decide the fate of 264 candidates.

Besides Sonowal, the other prominent faces in the fray are state Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami (Jorhat), state Congress chief Ripun Bora (Gohpur), Asom Gana Parishad chief Atul Bora (Bokakhat), Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia (Nazira), jailed Raijor Dal President Akhil Gogoi (Sivasagar) and Assam Jatiya Parishad President Lurinjyoti Gogoi (Duliajan).

At least 23 female aspirants are also contesting these elections.

Voting began across 11,537 polling stations mostly covering the eastern Assam’s 12 districts at 7 a.m.

It will continue till 6 p.m as the Election Commission extended the time by an hour in view of the Covid-19 induced situations.

A total of 8,109,815 voters, including 4,032,481 females, are eligible to cast their ballots.

Covid-19 protocols for the voters, including social distancing and thermal screening, are being maintained.

Election officials said that to avoid crowding, the number of voters for every booth has been brought down to a maximum of a thousand.

As a result, the number of polling booths has been augmented by 34.71 per cent to 33,530 from 24,890 in 2016.

To avoid direct contact with the Electronic Voting Machine, every elector is being given a hand glove.

In the 2016 elections, the ruling BJP-led alliance secured 35 of the 47 seats, while the Congress won nine and the remaining three seats by other parties.

According to the election officials, over 30,000 Central Armed Police Forces along with thousands of state security forces have been deployed to maintain law and order during this phase.

No untoward incident has been reported so far from any of the 12 districts where balloting is underway.

In a unique gesture, the election officials donated saplings to the voters in the model polling stations, which were decorated with colourful balloons.

The 126-member Assam Assembly will go to the polls in three phases.

The other two phases will be held on April 1 (39 seats) and April 6 (40 seats).

Results will be declared on May 2.

National News

Governor Jagdeep Dhankar hits back at Mamata Banerjee

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Jagdeep-Dhankar

A day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked Governor Jagdeep Dhankar to limit his travel according to the recommendations of the state government, Dhankar hit back at the chief minister and the government reminding her that no one is above the constitution and a constitutional post like that of the governor cannot be under the grip of the administration.

“What did the chief minister write to me? That I shall have to follow the recommendations of the state. This will bring the post of the governor under the grip of the administration,” Dhankar said after landing in Coochbehar in a BSF helicopter on Thursday.

“The governor will only go places recommended by the state. Should the constitution of India come under the administrative decisions of a government?” the governor questioned.

The Governor’s reaction comes after Banerjee wrote to him on Wednesday asking him not to take abrupt and unilateral decisions regarding his visit to any place and to follow the recommendations made by the government.

The chief minister also wrote: “The programme for the Governor’s visits to places in the districts is finalised by the Secretary to the Governor … on recommendation.., whether it is from a private party or a Government Institution, the Secretary to the Governor consults the Government and the Commissioner of the Division and the District Officer who are in charge of the proper execution of the overall programme.”

The chief minister also asked him not to go to Coochbehar without the recommendations of the state government.

“I find from social media that you are unilaterally proceeding to the district of Coochbehar on 13-5-2021 and, sadly, I find that to be violative of the long-standing norms as evolved over several decades. I, therefore, would expect that you will kindly follow the well-established norms of protocol, as stated above, and desist from abrupt decisions with regard to field visits,” she said.

After reaching Coochbehar to take stock of situation of post-poll violence in the district, the governor said, “There was election in four states and one union territory. There was no problem anywhere. Why is there a bloodbath only in Bengal? The rights of the people who have not given their support in favour of the party have been butchered. They had to pay the price with their lives.”

The governor blamed the chief minister for all this violence in the state. “It all started after she said openly that central forces will not stay forever and I was hurt when I saw that what she had said during the election ignoring the law and the constitution and law started from May 2,” he added.

Dhankar also criticized the Calcutta High Court for giving clean chit to the state government so far as post-poll violence is concerned. “I have seen a narrative in the media where the Calcutta High Court has given clean chit to the government. I have not seen it anywhere. I have investigated it,” he said.

Trinamool Congress, however, reacted sharply alleging that the governor has ignored the constitution.

“The Governor has crossed all limits. I would ask him to read the constitution where it has been specifically mentioned that the governor should work on the recommendations and suggestions given by the state,” a senior Trinamool Congress leader said.

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National News

Narendra Modi to release 8th instalment of Rs 19,000 cr for PM-KISAN scheme on Friday

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Narendra-Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the 8th instalment of financial benefits worth Rs 19,000 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme on Friday to benefit more than 9.5 crore farmers.

The Prime Minister will release the instalment through video conferencing at 11 a.m.

“The instalment will enable the transfer of more than Rs 19,000 crore to more than 9.5 crore beneficiary farmer families,” said a statement issued from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister will also interact with farmer beneficiaries during the event. The Union Agriculture Minister will also be present on the occasion.

Under the PM-KISAN scheme, a financial benefit of Rs 6,000 per year is provided to the eligible beneficiary farmer families, payable in three equal 4-monthly instalments of Rs 2,000 each.

The fund is transferred directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. In this scheme, Samman Rashi of over Rs 1.15 lakh crore has been transferred to farmers’ families so far.

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Yogi Adityanath becomes 1st CM to visit AMU

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Yogi-Adityanath

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday visited Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) that has seen a number of faculty members losing their lives to Covid. He is the first Uttar Pradesh chief minister to do so.

The chief minister took stock of the arrangements made to prevent corona infection and held discussions with vice chancellor Tariq Mansoor, and other officials.

Two days ago, Adityanath had spoken to the vice chancellor on phone and had expressed his concern over Covid deaths, including 16 serving and 18 retired faculty members, on the campus.

He had assured all possible assistance in terms of medicines and oxygen cylinders for Covid treatment.

According to an official release, the chief minister also inquired about activities in the university.

The Aligarh Muslim University was established in 1920 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and became a central university in 1921.

Adityanath will travel to Agra and Mathura later in the day to review the Covid situation there. He will hold meetings with district officials and issue necessary instructions.

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