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Punjab Polls: After rescuing labourers, Sonu Sood hits streets again

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Months after he came to the rescue of labourers walking back home in the days of Covid-19 lockdown, actor and philanthropist Sonu Sood is himself hitting the streets.

With folded hands and smile on his lips, he’s going from house to house event in scores of villages drumming up support for his sister Malvika Sood Sachar contesting the Punjab Assembly polls less than a fortnight away.

With villagers complaining of lack of basic infrastructure facilities like public toilets, sanitation, drainage, disposal of sewage and large potholes as several people have met with accidents, Sood, accompanying his younger sister who is born and brought up in this town in the Malwa region, is assuring improvement, if the Congress party retains the helm in the state.

Malvika joined the Congress just a week ahead of the pronouncement of the February 20 polls for 117 Assembly seats.

She has replaced sitting Congress legislator Harjot Kamal, who joined the BJP and is again in the fray to retain the seat that has been the Congress stronghold since 2007.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)leader and former minister Tota Singh, who was convicted in 2012 in a case of corruption and sentenced to a year of imprisonment, represented this seat for two successive terms — 1997 and 2002.

Malvika, 39, married and running her parental family business in Moga, told IANS that she has taken the political plunge to dedicate herself to serve the society like her brother.

Sonu Sood’s childhood friends in his hometown, some 175 km from the state capital Chandigarh, described him as the messiah of tens of thousands of desperate migrants amidst pandemic and supporting school educations of scores of underprivileged, while his family believes his philanthropy spirit comes from his ancestry.

Born to a business family, the siblings’ father was in the cloth business and mother was an English lecturer in town’s oldest D.M. College of Education.

Their eldest sister is settled in the US.

“Sonu is a household name in every village. We have seen him on news channels on several occasions when he himself was on the streets to help the migrants who were returning to their homes during the pandemic. If he has zeal for serving society, we expect his sister will also follow in his footsteps,” octogenarian Nachhatar Kaur of Rattian village told IANS.

She said the brother-sister duo came to the village last week and sought votes with promise to strengthen village streets and the sewage treatment system.

Sharing similar sentiments, another village elder Ajaib Kaur added, “Ahead of the elections, Sonu’s sister came to our village and sponsored the school fees of several poor students when she came to know that their parents have lost wages due to the pandemic. She has provided money to poor villagers for rebuilding their ‘kutcha’ houses.”

However, Malvika’s rival and AAP candidate Amandeep Kaur Arora believes Malvika’s identity is only her brother.

“Malvika has no identity of her own. She is known only as Sonu Sood’s sister. My identity is that of a doctor and served ex-servicemen and their families,” Amandeep added.

SAD candidate Barjinder Makhan Brar, a lawyer by profession, believes in the dynasty’s advantage.

“My father (Tota Singh) remained an MLA of Moga twice and did a lot of development work. Sonu Sood has just surfaced. He’s just trying to woo the voters by using money. If he has philanthropic initiatives to his credit, what is the contribution of his sister to society? After all, the legislator is the local representative in the Assembly. The voters can’t be befooled for the sake of Sonu’s philanthropy,” he added.

In 2017, Harjot Kamal, then with the Congress, won the seat by securing 52,357 votes, while AAP’s Ramesh Grover finished second with 50,593 votes. Barjinder Brar polled 36,587 votes.

Incumbent Charanjit Singh Channi, the chief minister face of the Congress, while campaigning for Malvika, who did Master of Computer Application, on Wednesday announced if the party returns to power she would be a minister in his Council of Ministers.

In December 2020, a road in Sonu Sood’s hometown was named after his mother, Prof Saroj Sood. At this the actor said he cannot contain his happiness and this will always be the most important chapter in his life.

“Sonu is deeply attached to hometown, his family and friends. He prefers to travel to Moga whenever he spares time from his hectic schedule in Bollywood, Malvika, who runs cloth and education business, told IANS.

Sonu’s grandfather Vidya Rattan Sood was also a known philanthropist.

Malvika’s neighbour Rakesh Khanna said the people in the town are proud of Sonu for bringing this town into limelight through his philanthropic spirit.

He said his parents wanted him to become an engineer. He did his engineering from Nagpur.

“Besides having no godfather in the film industry, he established himself,” Khanna said, adding even his sister has no ego with the fame of her brother.

“Whenever Sonu is in his hometown, you can see him riding on his scooter from his college days. He also prefers to spend time in his father’s shop located in the main market,” Khanna added.

National News

NIA detains 8 PFI members from Bihar’s East Champaran

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 The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has conducted a raid in Bihar’s East Champaran district following which it detained eight operatives of the banned group Popular Front of India (PFI), an official said on Saturday.

The searches were carried out at Kuawan village on Friday night.

Among the detainees, Riyaz Maroof is considered as the main operative of the PFI.

They were facing charges of hatching a conspiracy to carry out an explosion at the under-construction Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya.

According to sources, the NIA had intercepted a message wherein an “explosion at the temple” was mentioned. The operatives were also planning to hold a meeting to discuss their plan of action.

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Union Budget fails to address core issues of inflation, unemployment: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind

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After the Union Budget for 2023-24 was presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has criticised the budget for not addressing two important core issues of price rise and unemployment.

Issuing a statement, the JIH said, “The Budget falls short of addressing the core issues of inflation (price rise) and severe unemployment. The Budget has been insensitive to the call of the Prime Minister of ‘Sab ka Vikas’ as it has reduced the budgetary allocation to the minorities from Rs 5,000 crore to around Rs 3,000 crore.”

It said that the decision to reduce the tax on income above Rs 5 crore from 37 per cent to 25 per cent is not correct. This will further increase wealth inequality as pointed out by the latest Oxfam report. Overall the Budget appears to cater to the interest of corporates and not the informal economy and the common man.

However, the JIH further said that the budget can be credited to being focused on economic growth and fiscal consolidation bridging the negative gap between revenue and expenditure. Now, those having income up to Rs 7 lakh per annum will not have to pay any income tax. This change will help the salaried class. One more positive is the boost given to capital expenditure which is now budgeted at Rs 13.7 lakh crore i.e. 4.5 per cent of GDP. This will help in easing the funding of infrastructure projects.

“Despite these positives in the Budget, it appears as if it is aimed at benefiting only one class of society while ignoring the country’s poor and those living in rural areas. While the push for fiscal prudence is good, it has squeezed government expenditures even further resulting in a decrease in allocation for the social sector. For example, the MGNREGA scheme allocation has been slashed by 33 per cent when unemployment is historically high,” the JIH added.

“Another worrying aspect of the Budget is that various subsidies have been cut. For example, food subsidy has been cut by Rs 90,000 crore, fertilizer subsidy by Rs 50,000 crore and petroleum subsidy by Rs 6,900 crore. Also, Rs 9,255 crore remained unspent in the health sector and Rs 4,297 crore remained unused in the education sector. This non-utilization of allocated funds happened at a time when both these sectors required special focus in the post-pandemic era,”, the JIH said.

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Morbi bridge collapse: Section of Patidar community throws weight behind Oreva’s MD

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Umiyadham Sidsar, a section of Patidar community, has pledged its support to Oreva Group’s Managing Director Jaysukh Patel in the �Morbi bridge collapse case. �

Jaysukh Patel is the prime accused in the Morbi suspension bridge collapse accident, in which 132 persons, including 35 children had lost their lives. Police in its charge sheet, filed before a court on January 27 had named him as prime accused.

Patel surrendered before the court on January 31, and was sent to judicial custody. On �Wednesday, the First Class Judicial Magistrate court granted his police remand till February 8.

On February 4, The Umiya Sidsar trustees issued an open letter addressing the community members defending Jaysukh Patel. According to the appeal, “Jaysukh Patel is a ‘Bhamasa’, who had taken up the suspension bridge repair work as a social responsibility. He did not have any commercial interest and knew that he was not going to recover the full cost incurred in repairs work.”

The appeal further states, if such people, who have only worked for society’s development are harassed, no entrepreneur will come forward for social cause.

Former BJP MLA Bavanji Metaliya has extended his support to Jaysukh Patel accusing the social media of portraying him in a bad light. “I stand with Umiya Sidsar trusts’ decision to extend support to Jaysukh Patel. Let the law take its own course, but we condemn all comments made on social media against Jaysukhbhai. To protect the Morbi’s heritage, he had taken the responsibility of bridge repair work.”

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