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Tuesday,02-March-2021

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Narendra Modi and Shah to visit poll-bound Assam on Saturday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah will visit poll-bound Assam on Saturday to attend different government events to campaign for the assembly polls, likely to be held in April-May.

Officials and BJP sources said that Modi and Shah do not have any common programme in the Bharatiya Janata Party ruled state.

The Prime Minister on Saturday would launch a mega programme of the Assam government to distribute land “patta” (land allotment permit) to over one lakh landless indigenous people at a function at Jerenga Pothar in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who visited the PM’s meeting venue to review the preparations, said that the Prime Minister would ceremonially start the distribution of land ‘patta’ to more than one lakh indigenous people who have been living uncertain lives for decades. “No government in Assam has carried out such a people-friendly initiative in the past.”

He said many pieces of government land were encroached by suspected illegal settlers and the BJP government would evict those illegal encroachers and provide the land rights to the indigenous people, comprising tribals, ex-tea garden labourers and other backward communities.

According to the officials, the state government headed by the Chief Minister Sonowal has already issued “land patta” to more than one lakh landless indigenous families.

Officials said Shah would launch the Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme for central paramilitary force personnel in Guwahati in presence of Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan here on Saturday.

After attending the Guwahati event, Shah would go to Shillong where he would chair the 69th plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC), the nodal agency for the socio-economic and infrastructural development of the eight states of the region.

Shah would come back again in Assam on Sunday and attend a programme to celebrate the first anniversary of the signing of the Bodoland Territorial Region Accord, which facilitates political autonomy and address a gathering in western Assam’s Kokrajhar, bordering West Bengal.

In all, 1,615 cadres of four National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) factions had laid down their arms on January 30 last year after the signing of the Bodo peace accord with the central government on January 27, 2020 in New Delhi in the presence of Union Home minister Amit Shah.

Shah would also address an election rally at Kendukuchi in Nalbari district.

Crime

Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi caught in sex scandal

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A CD allegedly featuring Karnataka water resources minister Ramesh Jarkiholi seeking sexual favours was released to news channels on Tuesday.

In this regard a social activist, Dinesh Kallahalli lodged a complaint with the Bengaluru city police commissioner seeking protection for the victim.

After filing the complaint Kallahalli told reporters that this CD contained visuals of the minister allegedly seeking sexual favours from a victim. “Complaint is filed by me and not by the victim as she is fearing for her life,” he said.

Jarakiholi comes from one of the most powerful political families in the state and is a sugar baron from Belagavi district.

He is one of the 17 defectors from the Congress and the JDS whose defection resulted in the collapse of the Congress-JDS government in the state in 2019.

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National News

JP Aggarwal to head Congress screening committee for Bengal

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Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday appointed former MP and ex-Delhi Congress chief JP Aggarwal as the chairman of the steering committee for West Bengal with Rajasthan leader Mahesh Joshi and Maharashtra leader Naseem Khan as the members of the panel.

Congress in-charge for Bengal, Jitin Prasada, state unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, CLP Abdul Mannan and Secretary B.P. Singh have been named ex-officio members of the committee.

The screening committee will select a panel of candidates for the ensuing Assembly polls in Bengal that will be finalised by the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress is contesting 92 seats in the state in alliance with the Left and the Indian Secular Front (ISF).

Congress leader Anand Sharma had raised objection to the Congress-Left-ISF alliance in Bengal, following which Chowdhury and Prasada defended it.

Sharma said the core ideology of the party cannot be compromised, adding that the Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations.

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Shiromani Akali Dal demands two-day debate on farmers’ issues

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The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday requested the Vidhan Sabha Speaker to allocate two days for an exclusive discussion on issues concerning the farmers during the ongoing budget session. It also demanded that the Congress government announce a minimum support price (MSP) for vegetables and fruits.

The SAD legislative wing, which handed over a representation in this regard to Speaker Rana K.P. Singh under the leadership of Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, said the two-day discussion, besides covering the issues of the farm loan waiver promise, farmer suicides and the Congress government’s failure to take up the issue of repeal of the three agricultural laws with the Centre, should also spell out the way forward.

The representation said one such way ahead was announcing MSP for all vegetables and fruits immediately.

It said this measure would provide much needed security to vegetable and potato growers as well as kinnow growers, among others.

The SAD legislators, while informing the Speaker that the state was in the midst of an agrarian crisis, said “the major reason for this is the complete loan waiver promise made by then Pradesh Congress President Amarinder Singh in January 2017.”

They said Amarinder Singh had clearly promised that in case the Congress party forms the government in Punjab it would waive off all farmer loans be it from government or private banks, cooperative societies or arhatiyas or commission agents.

The legislators said the Congress government’s failure to implement the loan waiver scheme had resulted in 1,500 farmer suicides and indebtedness had increased because the people believed the Chief Minister and did not pay their loan instalments.

They said the Congress party had also promised Rs 10 lakh compensation and a government job to the families of all the farmers who committed suicide due to indebtedness but even this promise was not kept.

The SAD legislators said similarly farmers were very perturbed at the failure of the Punjab government to come to the aid of those protesting against the farm laws.

They said the Punjab government participated in meetings in which the three agricultural Ordinances, which later took the shape of laws, were finalized.

The lawmakers added that the Punjab government had also amended the Agricultural Produce Marketing Act (APMC) in 2017, months after it formed the government in the state.

“The amended APMC has the same provisions as contained in the three central Acts and that is why farmers are demanding it be scrapped.”

They said the Punjab farmers were also angry that their government had not defended them against persecution by Delhi Police and that the Chief Minister had failed to take up the issues of farmers with the Centre.

The SAD legislators also pointed out that other agricultural issues which needed a resolution included timely release of hundreds of crores owed to sugarcane farmers and ensuring an increase of the state Assured Price on the pattern of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The members, while requesting the Speaker to allow this discussion on priority, said not doing so would be tantamount to betraying the ‘annadaata’.

“We are confident that you will not disappoint the peasantry and will go down in the annals of history as the custodian of the House who put the ‘annadaata’ first”, they told the Speaker.

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