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Sunday,07-March-2021

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Day 56 of protest: Centre, farmers to hold 10th round of talks

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Even as the protest by farmers on the Delhi borders continued for the 56th day on Wednesday, leaders of farmers were slated to hold the 10th round of talks with the Centre on their unfulfilled demands here in the afternoon.

The farmers are sticking to their demand for the repeal of three new central farm laws and a legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at Minimum Support Price (MSP) whereas the Union government is ready to bring about amendments in these laws.

Over 40 representatives of farmer organisations present in the previous rounds of talks would meet with three Union Ministers at 2 pm at the Vigyan Bhavan here. The meeting was earlier scheduled to be held on January 19 but was postponed by a day.

Punjab farmer leader Kirpa Singh said that farmer leaders would first like to deliberate on their core demand for the repeal of the three laws during the latest talks.

Punjab-based farmer leader and Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) General Secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal said: “In the previous talks, we urged the Union government to discuss the MSP issue. We will again discuss it in this meeting as well.”

He also said that the issue of “harassment” of those supporting the farmers’ agitation by the National Investigation Agency would again be brought up in Wednesday’s meeting.

As for differences between farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni and Shiv Kumar Sharma Kakaji, Harinder Singh said that the two had buried the hatchet and stand united.

He asserted that all farmer unions and others spearheading the farmers’ movement were united and would continue the agitation till their demands were not accepted.

As for Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s remark that the farmer unions should discuss the new farm laws clause-wise, farmer leaders said that much discussion has been done on this issue for many days and they would rather like to discuss their core demand on repeal of the laws.

The farmers are demanding the repeal of The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020, and a law on procurement of crops at MSP.

The farmers have been sitting on Delhi’s borders since November 26, 2020.

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Amit Shah kicks-off BJP poll campaign in Tamil Nadu

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday kick-off the election campaign of BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan, who is contesting from the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat, by conducting a road show.

Shah started his campaign after offering prayers at the Hanuman Temple in Sucheendram.

The Union Home Minister then launched the Vijay Sankalp Mahasampark Abhiyan at Sucheendram by canvassing votes conducting door-to-door campaign.

He campaigned at 11 homes in the town as part of the initiative.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is contesting the elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly and the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat in alliance with the AIADMK and PMK.

The ruling AIADMK has allotted 20 Assembly seats and the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat to the BJP.

The PMK is contesting from 23 seats in the Vanniyar strong holds.

While speaking to IANS, Radhakrishnan, also a former Union Minister, said: “The BJP ,AIADMK combined is formidable in Tamil Nadu and even after 10 years, there is no anti-incumbency factor against the state government. The visit of the Union Home Minister will create wonders and we are on track.”

However he had lost Kanyakumari in the 2019 general elections to H. Vasanthakumar off the Congress by a margin of 3 lakh votes.

The by-election is taking place in the wake of Vasanthakumar’s death due to Covid.

While the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha segment has six Assembly seats, the BJP is not contesting in any, while the AIADMK is contesting from the alliance.

The BJP is strong in Killiyooor, Vilavankode and Padmanabhapuram assembly constituencies and party workers were expecting to contest in the party symbol.

However the party is not contesting in any Assembly constituency.

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Mithun Chakraborty joins BJP rally in Kolkata

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National Award winning Bollywood actor Mithun Chakraborty on Sunday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s mega show at Kolkata’s iconic brigade parade ground.

Chakraborty arrived at the ground at around 12 noon and was welcomed by the BJP’s National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargi and other state leaders.

Sources said while coming to the rally, Chakraborty’s car was stopped midway near Bowbazar as BJP supporters spotted the superstar sitting in his white SUV.

Former Trinamool Congress leader and former Union Minister Dinesh Trivedi, who had joined the saffron camp recently, also arrived at the mega show.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to arrive at the ground at 1.45 p.m. aboard a chopper from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) airport.

Kolkata has been virtually covered with a tight security blanket by the city police and security agencies coming from the Centre.

The rally will mark the culmination of the BJP’s state-wide Parivartan Yatra that covered Bengal’s 294-assembly constituencies.

Security agencies put up four-layered barricades in front of the podium from where Modi is slated to address crowds.

As many as 1,500 CCTV cameras were installed in and around the brigade parade ground area.

A central monitoring control room was also set up behind the main stage.

The entire ground was barricaded with wooden logs to control the crowd movements.

Restrictions were imposed on vehicular movements, especially on goods vehicles, and traffic was diverted in busy stretches like Hastings, Cathedral Road, Khidirpur, AJC Bose Road and Hospital Road.

The 294-member West Bengal Assembly will go to the polls in eight phases between March 27 and April 29. The counting will take place on May 2.

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Kerala Assembly speaker summoned by Customs

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P-Sreeramakrishnan

Senior CPI-M leader and Kerala Assembly Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan has been summoned by the Customs department to appear before it on March 12 in connection with the gold smuggling case.

The news came as a second blow to Sreeramakrishnan on Friday after he came to know that he won’t be fielded as a candidate in the Assembly elections to be held on April 6.

In December last year, the prime accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case had given a statement in court saying ‘big sharks’ had a role in helping the accused persons in the case, including Swapna Suresh. Sreeramakrishnan had to face the wrath of the Opposition when it moved a motion demanding his removal in January this year. Howevern, the proposal was rejected after it was put to vote.

A statement filed by the Customs in the Kerala High Court on Thursday said, “Her (Swapna Suresh’s) close connection with the Chief Minister and his principal secretary and a personal staff was also revealed by her. She has also stated with clarity about smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of the Chief Minister and the Speaker with the help of the Consulate. She has also clearly stated about the improper and illegal activities of three ministers of the state cabinet and the Speaker. She has further stated about the involvement and the kickbacks received by high profile persons from various deals.

“She has stated that she is aware of all these transactions and was a witness to the same as she is well versed in the Arabic language and hence was forced to act as the translator between the above said persons and the persons of Middle East origin in all their crucial interactions.

“The role of the former principal secretary (M. Sivasankar) in acting as the link between the high profile politicians of Kerala and the UAE Consulate officials as well as some others and in coordinating the illegal financial dealings under the cover of various activities and projects of the state government was also revealed by her.”

The Left has called for a statewide protest on Saturday against the statement of the Customs.

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