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Over 30 per cent voting in Telangana’s Huzurnagar bypoll




More than 30 per cent voting was recorded in the first four hours of the by-election to Huzurnagar Assembly constituency in Telangana on Monday amid tight security, officials said.

According to Election Commission officials, the polling was progressing peacefully and 31.34 per cent voters exercised their franchise by 11 a.m.

Polling began at 7 a.m. and will continue till 5 p.m. in 302 polling stations in the constituency in Suryapet district.

A total of 2,36,842 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the bypoll, the first since Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) retained power in the state in December 2018.

There are 28 candidates, including three women, in the fray. The main contest is between TRS candidate S. Saidi Reddy and opposition Congress’ N. Padmavati Reddy, wife of state Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy.

The bypoll was necessitated by the resignation of Uttam Kumar Reddy from the Assembly after he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Nalgonda.

The TRS has never won the seat since it was created after the delimitation of constituencies in 2009. Uttam Kumar Reddy won all three elections in 2009, 2014 and 2018.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has fielded Kota Rama Rao, is looking to increase its vote share, while Telugu the Desam Party (TDP), which is battling to maintain a toehold in Telangana politics, has fielded Chava Kiranmayi.

Saidi Reddy, who had lost to Uttam Kumar Reddy 7,466 votes in 2018, cast his vote at Gundlapalli village.

Tension prevailed at Uttam Kumar Reddy’s house on Sunday night after TRS filed a complaint with the election authorities alleging that the state Congress chief was a non-local and should leave the constituency. Uttam Kumar Reddy, however, argued that he is a local as he has his house in the town.

The District Collector and Returning Officer Amoy Kumar said the Congress leader can remain in the constituency as Huzurnagar is one of the Assembly segments in his Nalgonda constituency, but he will not be allowed to come out of his house.

Authorities have made elaborate arrangements for smooth conduct of the bypoll, deploying nearly 1,500 personnel and 965 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Officials said about 1,500 police personnel were deployed in the constituency as part of the security arrangements.

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‘Official work’: Sharad Pawar says amid speculation over meeting with Amit Shah




NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Tuesday met Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi, sparking off speculations.

Pawar himself sought to clear the air, terming it an official meet. “Had a brief meeting with Union Co-operation Minister Shri Amit Shah in New Delhi today along with Shri Jaiprakash Dandegaonkar, President of NFCSF (National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Ltd) & Prakash Naiknavre to discuss issues faced by the sugar co-operative sector,” he said.

The meeting gained significance as it came on the same day as Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule attended the breakfast meeting of opposition leaders hosted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress and the Shiv Sena, who are the Nationalist Congress Party’s allies in the Maharashtra, however, dismissed any political significance of the meeting.

The meeting came a day after Shiv Sainiks went on a rampage, tearing down a brand new hoarding erected by the Adani Airport Holding Ltd (AAHL) outside Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) to protest against what they alleged was AAHL’s unilateral move to abruptly ‘change’ the name of CSMIA and replace it with the Adani Group brand name.

Pawar has been meeting the ruling party leaders and ahead of monsoon session on July 17, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and talked for about 50 minutes, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The meeting took pace amid reports over fissures in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government in Maharashtra.

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Delhi Cabinet approves increased salary of MLAs




The Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday approved salary hike of the members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) after getting approval from the Centre.

With the approval from the cabinet, Delhi MLAs will now get a salary of Rs 30,000 per month.

As per a provision of the Bill cleared by the Delhi Assembly in 2015, the basic salary of legislators will increase from the current Rs 12,000 to Rs 50,000.

However, the AAP government said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has scuttled the proposal and restricted it and capped the salary of the MLAs to only Rs 30,000. They will be getting a total of Rs 90,000 per month including Rs 30,000 basic salary and other allowances.

The restriction imposed by the Centre has forced Delhi’s MLAs to be amongst the lowest paid among all states in the country.

“The salary of Delhi’s MLAs hasn’t increased since 2011 and the Delhi Government had requested the MHA that it should be at par with MLAs of other states, however the MHA refused to do so,” said Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in a statement.

The Delhi Government had proposed a salary of Rs 54,000 for the MLAs.

“Now the salary plus allowances of the MLAs of Delhi has been restricted by the MHA to Rs 90,000,” it said.

Proposal for an increase in salary and allowances of Delhi MLAs was pending with the MHA for the last 5 years.

The cabinet has also approved salaries and other allowances of Ministers of Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and MLAs under the Legislative Assembly of Delhi (Amendment) Bills, 2021.

“After Cabinet approval, the proposal and draft bills will be sent for MHA’s approval before being placed in the Delhi Assembly,” CMO said.

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Uttar Pradesh Congress plays caste game, woos Dalits




In order to regain its lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Tuesday observed a ‘Dalit Swabhiman Diwas’ to woo the community and highlight the atrocities on the weaker sections in the non-Congress governments.

While it is wooing Dalits and OBCs, the Brahmins are being ignored by the Congress, say state party insiders.

State head of the Congress Dalit cell, Alok Prasad, said that the significance of August 3 was that the proposal to appoint Dr B.R. Ambedkar as the Union Law Minister in the Nehru cabinet was passed on this day.

“We are taking out Dalit Swabhiman Yatras on this day to create awareness among Dalits and pay tributes to Ambedkar,” he said. The Congress also plans to hold a Dalit panchayat.

The state Congress has already held caste conferences for Nishad, Maurya-Shakya, Kushwaha and Pal-Gaderia-Dhanger caste groups.

The move by the state unit to focus on castes has irked the senior party leaders who feel that the Congress is simply following in the footsteps of the regional parties.

“We slam other parties for playing the caste and communal card but this is exactly what we are doing. Instead of focussing on issues, we are following the caste path which is detrimental to party interests,” said a former UPCC president.

Interestingly, the Congress state leadership has started criticizing other non-BJP parties instead of focusing its attention on the ruling BJP.

Uttar Pradesh Congress minority cell chairman Shahnawaz Alam has been attacking the Samajwadi Party for ignoring the victimisation of its leader Mohd Azam Khan and not opposing it.

Alam said that if anything untoward happens to Azam Khan, Akhilesh would be equally responsible for it.

A senior party leader said, “What exactly is the state leadership trying to do? We should be attacking the BJP but we are shooting down regional parties with whom we could have a post-poll alliance.”

While SP and BSP are trying to woo Brahmins who are disgruntled with the BJP, the Congress has chosen to ignore Brahmins completely-even those within the party.

A senior political analyst said, “The problem with Congress is that it is completely directionless. They have no strategy and policy for the elections and each one is pulling in a different direction.”

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