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Narendra Modi slams Congress, Biju Janata Dal over poverty




Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday slammed the Congress and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for keeping people poor in the country for their personal gain and vote bank politics.

“In fact, the Congress and BJD see their political crop in poverty. This is the reason a large part of India including Odisha has remained impoverished for so many decades,” said Modi at an election rally in Sonepur.

He said generation after generation the Congress was able to give only raised slogans for the eradication of poverty. While people got poorer, their leaders got richer. Poverty will automatically vanish if Congress disappears, he added.

Modi said Congress has planned to implement a policy that will lead to inflation with the increase of the price of essential commodities.

“This election will decide whether our India’s heroes will emerge strong or those who take Pakistan’s side,” said the Prime Minister.

“Do you want a majboor sarkar (dependent government) or a majboot sarkar (strong government),” Modi asked the gathering at Sonepur.

Attacking the Naveen Patnaik led BJD government in the state, he said farmers have been selling their produces in distress even though the Centre has hiked the minimum support price to 1.5 times of the production cost.

Besides, people are migrating to other states in search of jobs.

“Odisha is rich with abundant natural resources. Then, what is the reason for the state to lag behind in terms of development,” asked Modi.

“Once our government is formed in the state and the Centre, Odisha will be recognised for tourism instead of migration of masses,” he added.

He also raised the water scarcity issue in the region in spite of the presence of the Mahanadi and Tel rivers in the region.

Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will be held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases beginning on April 11 for 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats.

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Sachin Pilot incommunicado, Congress trying for truce to save Rajasthan government



With Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot in Delhi to meet Congress high command and his camp claiming support of 25 MLAs, the Congress is trying to pacify factions led by him and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to save itself more embarrassment as well as the party’s government in the state, sources said on Sunday.

The MLAs from the Pilot camp are said to be lodged at different places, with about a dozen at ITC Grand in Gurugram, and a few others are at ITC Maurya in Delhi.

Meanwhile, Sachin Pilot has gone incommunicado since he is not taking phone calls from any Congress leader, including his friends in the party.

Sources said he spoke with Congress Treasurer Ahmed Patel late Saturday night, adding that the Congress was trying to pacify both the camps to save the party from embarrassment.

On the other hand, the Gehlot camp claims that the Chief Minister has the support of 103 MLAs and his government the required numbers in the state Assembly.

An earlier report had said that Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot had arrived in Delhi on Saturday to meet party high command and had sought an appointment with Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi.

According to the sources, MLA P.R. Meena, considered to be from the Pilot group, had sought to meet Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of the “stepmotherly treatment given to them by the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan”.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Gehlot called a meeting of his Ministers at his official residence in Jaipur late Saturday and asked all party MLAs to give a letter of support to him. Senior ministers have been roped in this regard.

However, ministers from the Pilot camp did not attend this meeting.

Gehlot, sources said, has spoken with Sonia Gandhi, Rajasthan party affairs incharge Avinash Pandey, and Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal to apprise them of developments in his state.

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No lockdown on Saturdays in Karnataka, clarifies Deputy CM



Amid the rising Covid-19 cases across Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru, Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan on Saturday said no lockdown will be imposed on Saturdays.

“There is no move to impose lockdown in the state or Bengaluru on Saturdays although total lockdown only on Sundays will continue till August 2,” Narayan told reporters amid speculation that the state government was mulling a lockdown on weekends to prevent crowding in public places.

A complete lockdown is being observed only on Sundays since July 5 to ensure that people remain at home and avoid going out and contracting the coronavirus by crowding in public places.

Essential services and supplies and shops selling milk, vegetables, fruits, groceries and medicines are exempt from the lockdown but close at 8 p.m. for the night curfew, which is in force till 5 a.m. daily till July 31.

The state government also declared a holiday for its employees on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Its offices are already closed on the second and fourth Saturdays.

Weddings fixed in advance on Sundays are allowed to be performed under the lockdown guidelines such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and limiting guests to 50 people.

Under Unlock 2.0 since July 1, the state government allowed re-opening of industrial units in shifts and movement of people and goods on state and national highways.

Admitting that lockdowns restrict people’s movement and prevent crowding in public places like markets and shopping areas, Narayan said the chief minister (B.S. Yediyurappa) would decide after consulting experts.

“Lockdowns can only postpone the spread of virus but not eradicate it. It may be one of the solutions to fight the disease but not stop it,” said Narayan, a medical doctor by profession.

With a record 2,313 new cases on Friday, the southern state’s Covid tally shot up to 33,418, including 19,035 active cases after 13,836 were discharged till date, while 543 have succumbed to the infection so far.

Of the total fresh cases in the state, Bengaluru accounted for 1,447, taking its tally to 15,329, including 11,687 active cases after 3,435 were discharged, while 206 died of the virus since March 9.

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Hardik Patel made Working President of Gujarat Congress



In a major boost to the party in Gujarat, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday appointed Hardik Patel as the Working President of the state unit.

In a statement, Congress General Secretary K.C. Venugopal said: “Sonia Gandhi has approved the appointment of Patel as Working President of Gujarat Congress with immediate effect.”

Patidar leader Patel, who launched a movement for reservation for his community in the state in 2015, had joined the Congress in 2017 ahead of the assembly polls.

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