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Samajwadi Party throws a spanner even as its allies stay undecided

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The Samajwadi Party (SP) has thrown a spanner in the Presidential elections by announcing that it will neither support a BJP candidate, nor a Congress nominee in the upcoming polls.

SP’s national spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said, “Our party president and quite a few senior leaders feel that SP should maintain equal distance from the BJP and the Congress in the Presidential elections.”

In political circles, SP’s decision is being seen as a clear message to the Congress to not to mess with its internal matters.

Sources said that Akhilesh Yadav had taken a strong exception to Acharya Pramod Krishnam’s recent meeting with senior SP MLA Mohammad Azam Khan in jail.

While the BJP seems to be in a comfortable position to see its nominee through in the polls, for the Congress, the Presidential elections will be a major opportunity to position itself as the main challenger to the saffron brigade in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

For this, the Congress would need the support of all the BJP rivals, and SP’s latest stance could leave the Congress strategists eyeing SP votes a bit concerned.

As the electoral college which elects the President comprises all members of both Houses of the Parliament and MLAs from all the states, SP will be a noticeable player. Presently, SP and its allies have 125 MLAs, 16 MLCs and 8 MPs (both Houses).

Interestingly, none of the SP allies have so far made any comment on SP’s decision on Presidential elections.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), according to sources, is �uncomfortable’ with SP’s posture.

“You need to take a stand in politics and cannot always queer the pitch. We do not understand what SP wants but we will take a decision at the appropriate time,” said a senior RLD leader.

The RLD has eight MLAs in the UP Assembly.

The Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) is also a Samajwadi ally with six legislators and its President Om Prakash Rajbhar is also maintaining a studied silence on the issue.

Meanwhile, according to sources, a section of senior legislators in the SP is also against the decision announced by Akhilesh Yadav.

These legislators are apparently waiting for Shivpal Singh Yadav to decide his stand on the issue and may eventually go with him.

A senior SP MLA told IANS, “In politics, we cannot build castles in the air. We have to go either with the Congress or the BJP because we are not in a position to influence the outcome of the Presidential elections. Our leadership is not even negotiating with other non-BJP parties on the issue.”

The Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), meanwhile, have been reduced to the status of non-players in the Presidential polls from Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress has just two members in the state Assembly, while the BSP has one.

Maharashtra

Western Railway extends trips of 2 pairs of special trains

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For the convenience of passengers and with a view to meet the travel demand, the Western Railway has extended the trips of 2 pairs of special trains.

According to a press release issued by Sumit Thakur, Chief Public Relations Officer of Western Railway, the train services which are extended are as follows.

Train No. 09435 Ahmedabad – Okha Weekly Superfast Special has been extended upto 25th March, 2023.

Train No. 09436 Okha – Ahmedabad Weekly Superfast Special has been extended upto 26th March, 2023.

Train No. 09007 Valsad – Bhiwani Weekly Special which was earlier notified up to 23rd February, 2023 has been extended from 02nd March to 30th March, 2023.

Train No. 09008 Bhiwani – Valsad Weekly Special which was earlier notified up to 24th February, 2023 has been extended from 03rd March to 31st March, 2023.

The booking of extended trips of train Nos. 09435, 09436 & 09007 will open from 30th January, 2023 at PRS counters and on the IRCTC website, the WR said.

For detailed information regarding timings of halts and composition, passengers may please visit www.enquiry.indianrail.gov.in, the WR said.

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Maharashtra

BJP may lose K’taka in next Assembly polls: Sharad Pawar

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Karnataka is slipping out of the ruling BJP’s control and may see a change of power after the next Assembly elections, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar said here on Saturday.

“There are clear indications that the BJP will not retain power in Karnataka after the upcoming state electionsa We are making attempts to unite the Opposition parties and forge a united front, but all states have different local issues which need to be tackled,” said Pawar.

Addressing mediapersons in this erstwhile royalty town, Pawar said that the results of a recent public opinion survey have revealed that the mood of the masses is going against the BJP and it could suffer major setbacks in the next elections.

“The people will no longer vote on religious issues. The masses are being divided on religious lines, which will not work anymore.”

Commenting on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY), Pawar pointed out that it has secured the support of the ordinary citizens, as can be seen from the response he is getting.

Besides, the misleading image of the Congress leader (Rahul) that was sought to be created has been shattered through the nationwide march, he said.

Slamming the Centre’s decision to ban the BBC documentary, the NCP supremo and the leading light behind the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) termed it as an “assault” on democracy.

Referring to the comments of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) President Prakash Ambedkar that the Centre is not misusing federal probe agencies like ED, CBI, Pawar countered that the government is targeting Opposition leaders and peoples’ rights are being crushed.

Reacting to the VBA, which recently allied with the Shiv Sena (UBT), having any talks on joining the MVA, Pawar shot back, saying that as “there’s no proposal, where’s the question of holding any discussions”, and reiterated that the MVA will contest the upcoming elections unitedly.

Pawar added that with Parliament session starting in New Delhi next week, the efforts to forge a national united Opposition front will resume with all the leaders.

“I am personally in touch with many Opposition leadersa There are some ticklish aspects issues as the different parties are on opposing sides in some states owing to their local or regional issues. We have to sort them out first.”

He made it clear that the MVA is fighting the upcoming MLC biennial elections and the MLA bypolls unitedly in the state and will continue in the same spirit in future.

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Maharashtra

Mumbai: Estimated hike in electricity rates Proposal to increase electricity rates around 40% (MSEDCL)

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The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) has proposed a 30%-40% tariff hike for residential and commercial consumers,

This means that consumers in the city are likely to pay more for electricity in the coming financial year.

A petition filed by MSEDCL before Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) to propose the hike for customers across the state from April 1 was made public recently.

Electricity consumers to pay more

At present, MSEDCL’s residential consumers currently pay a fixed cost of ₹105 per month, which is proposed to be hiked by ₹13.

The company has also suggested increasing the wheeling charge (the fees paid to transport electricity from a power plant to end customers) for residential consumers from ₹1.25 per unit to ₹1.43 per unit.

President of the state electricity consumers’ organisation Pratap Hogade said the main reason behind the tariff hike is the increase in thermal power costs.

The MERC has invited objections and suggestions to through a public notice.

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