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BJP releases 148 names for Bengal elections, Mukul Roy to contest

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday released its second list of candidates for the upcoming Bengal elections, naming 148 candidates for the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth phases.

BJP vice president Mukul Roy will contest from the Krishnanagar Uttar assembly constituency. He will be facing off against TMC candidate Kaushani Mukherjee. Roy’s son will contest from Bijpur.

As per the list, the BJP is fielding a fifth MP, Jagannath Sarkar, who will contest from Shantipur. 

Former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahiri is also expected to be among the candidates and might be fielded from Balurgat. He had been named as the candidate from Alipurduar in the first list, but was later replaced with a local candidate.

Veteran Bengal unit leader Rahul Sinha will contest from Habra.

The name of Dilip Ghosh, the party’s state unit chief, is not on the list. Sources said he would not contest the assembly elections.

The party has also continued with fielding celebrities in this round, naming folk artiste Ashim Sarkar from the Haringhata assembly seat, popular actor Sravanti Chatterjee from Kolkata’s Behala East, footballer Kalyan Choubey from Kolkata’s Maniktala, and actor Rudranil Ghosh—said to be close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee once—from her safe seat, Bhowanipore.

Scientist Gobhardhan Das will be fielded from Purbasthali Uttar.

Additionally, the party has fielded Bidhan Parui from the Falta assembly seat, Paapia Adhikari from Uluberia Dakshin, Anupam Ghosh from Jagatballavpur and Chandan Mandal from the Baruipur Purba assembly seat.

There are also at least six Muslim candidates in the latest list.

On Wednesday, the BJP had announced the names of four more candidates for the polls.

After the announcement of the BJP candidates, protests broke out in the state against the fielding of a large number of former Trinamool Congress leaders as BJP candidates. Sources said that the seats in question had strong local contenders, whose supporters rebelled at the entry of outsiders. The BJP called it a “temporary situation”.

The party’s first list of candidates, issued last week, had also triggered huge protests which continued for two days and had to be quelled by the police with a lathi charge. Angry supporters had gathered at the party’s election office in Kolkata and heckled senior leaders Mukul Roy, Arjun Singh and Shiv Prakash.

They had been joined by protestors from Udaynarayanpur in Howrah. In the evening, people had swarmed in from Raidighi in South 24 Parganas. Agitated BJP workers had ransacked the party office at Singur and the BJP’s district headquarters office at Chinsurah, both in Hooghly district.

Overall, the BJP has announced 157 names for the state’s 294 seats. Five seats are yet to be declared, namely, Balurghat, Rashbehari, Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.

Elections to the 294-member state assembly will be held in eight phases, starting from 27 March with the final round of voting taking place on 29 April. The counting of votes will take place on 2 May.

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INDIA RECEIVED HELP FROM 52 NATIONS DURING SECOND WAVE

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NEW DELHI: International community came forward with offers of solidarity and assistance for specific medicines and equipment that were not immediately available in the country during the second wave of COVID-19 and material from 52 countries have been received till date, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan said in a written reply that India has imported 31.5 lakh units of Sputnik Component 1 and 4.5 lakh units of Sputnik Component 2 vaccine till date.

“During the unprecedented crisis of the second wave of COVID pandemic, the International community came forward with offers of solidarity and assistance for specific medicines and equipment that weren’t immediately available in country till such time our own domestic production improved,” he said.

“Foreign materials from 52 countries have been received till date including from government to government, private to government, private to private, Indian community associations and companies,” he added.

ANI

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NHRC CHIEF BATS FOR LAND RIGHTS OF TRIBALS

Ashish Sinha

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NHRC chairperson Justice Arun Kumar Mishra on Thursday, while chairing a webinar with HRDs, said: “No tribal should be evicted without the settlement of his/her claim on land rights.”

Justice Mishra further assured that the Commission will look into what best it can do with regards to the policy on the adjudication of the claim of tribal people on their lands and distribution thereof. He was chairing a webinar organized by the Commission with the Human Rights Defenders & Civil Societies on human rights issues during Covid-19 and future responses. He also said that the Commission is committed to the review of various laws from human rights perspectives.

Justice Mishra said that the Commission intends to continue its dialogue with human rights defenders and civil society organizations to collaborate on the efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, more so at a time when the country faces a challenge in the form of Covid-19 pandemic.

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ABHISHEK BANERJEE TO ARRIVE IN TRIPURA ON TWO-DAY VISIT

Visit follows high drama over Prashant Kishor’s IPAC team being held ‘prisoners’ by Tripura police in an Agartala hotel.

Arup Kali

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Trinamool Congress All India General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee may arrive in Tripura on Monday on a two-day visit. If all goes well, he can take a morning flight from Delhi to Agartala. TMC Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien said Abhishek Banerjee could reach Tripura by 12:30 pm on Monday.

After seizing power in Bengal for the third time, the ruling party of Bengal has chosen Tripura to expand its organization outside the state. That is why the TMC has tied up with Prashant Kishor’s IPAC. But an entire IPAC team visiting Agartala to carry out surveys for Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in BJP-ruled Tripura where elections are due in 2023, complained of being held “prisoners” by the police at the Woodland Park Hotel in Agartala for the past few days.

The TMC has alleged that the Tripura police detained them in an undemocratic manner at the behest of the BJP government. Not only that, the police administration has also received a letter to interrogate them. Ashish Lal Singh, president of the Tripura state Trinamool Congress, said, “The schedule is being arranged keeping in mind the two-day visit of our all-India leader who is coming to the state.” So even though Abhishek Banerjee has been in Agartala for two days, the TMC leadership of Tripura has not been able to hold any public rally with him. Abhishek Banerjee will meet important leaders of the state in those two days and find out about the status of the organisation. In that case, there will be a two-day meeting programme in two different places.

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Thought I had won: Mary Kom on ‘unfair’ defeat at Olympics

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Six-time world champion Mary Kom was “shocked and upset” to learn about her Tokyo Olympics exit on Thursday. Mary Kom faced a shocking defeat—split decision—at the hands of Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia to bow out from the tournament. Valencia won bout 3-2.

However, Mary Kom thought she had won since the ace boxer had clinched two rounds after going down in the first essay. “I thought I have won but after some time I saw Kiren Rijiju’s tweet, I was shocked and upset at the same time (to know that I have lost the match),” Mary Kom told reporters two hours after the bout.

After Mary Kom’s defeat, Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of Law and Justice, said the boxer was a clear winner but judges had their “own calculations”.

“Dear Mary Kom, you lost in Tokyo Olympics by just one point but for me you are always a champion! You have achieved what no other female boxer in the world has ever achieved. You are a legend. India is proud of you BOXING & OLYMPICS will miss you @MangteC,” Rijiju tweeted.

Mary Kom slammed the International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force for “poor judging” in her Flyweight (51kg) pre-quarterfinal at the Tokyo Games which she lost despite winning two of the three rounds. The Task Force is conducting the boxing competition at the Tokyo Olympics after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) was suspended by the IOC for alleged mismanagement and financial wrongdoing. “I don’t know and understand this decision, what’s wrong with the Task Force? What’s wrong with the IOC?” she asked in a telephonic interview to PTI after the 2-3 loss to Colombian Ingrit Valencia in the pre-quarters in Tokyo. “I was also a member of the Task Force. I was even giving them suggestions and supporting them in ensuring a clean competition. But what have they done with me?” she said.

“I was happy inside the ring, when I came out, I was happy because in my mind I knew I had won. When they took me for doping, I was still happy. Only when I saw the social media and my coach (Chhote Lal Yadav repeated it to me), it sunk in that I have lost,” she said. “I had beaten this girl twice in the past. I couldn’t believe that her hand was raised by the referee. I swear, it hadn’t struck me that I lost, I was so sure,” she added.

“The worst part is that there is no review or protest. Honestly I am sure the world must have seen, this is too much what they have done,” she said. “I should have got the second round unanimously, how was it 3-2? What happened was totally unpredictable,” she reasoned.

The IOC’s Boxing Task Force had promised a more transparent judging system after amateur boxing’s credibility took a hit during the 2016 Rio Olympics judging fiasco which led to suspension of 36 officials.

Mary Kom is part of the BTF’s 10-member athletes ambassadors group.

Valencia advanced to the quarter-finals of the showpiece event after defeating Mary Kom in the women’s flyweight (48-51kg) category event.

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NEW NEP MAJOR FACTOR IN ‘MAHAYAGNA’ OF NATION BUILDING: PM MODI

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As the new National Education Policy (NEP) completed one year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that it is one of the major factors in the grand exercise of nation-building and assures the youth that the country supports their aspirations. He said that in the last one year, teachers, principals and policymakers of the country have worked very hard in implementing the National Education Policy on the ground.

Addressing a programme on the completion of one year of the NEP, the PM said what new heights “we will achieve in the future will depend on what kind of education we are giving to our youth at present”. He added, “India’s new National Education Policy is one of the major factors in the ‘mahayagna’ (great exercise) of nation-building.”

PM Modi also launched multiple educational initiatives including Academic Bank of Credits, National Digital Education Architecture and other initiatives to mark the completion of one year of NEP 2020.

He was addressing the policymakers in the domain of education and skill development, students and teachers across the country through video conferencing. While addressing the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The development of the nation will depend on the quality of education we provide to our youth. I believe that India’s new national education policy is one of the big factors in the development of the nation.”

The Academic Bank of Credit will provide flexible multiple entries and exit options for students in Higher education. “Multiple entry/exit will help students break away from the shackles of sticking to one stream. One can select their course and can exit if they are not interested. This is a revolutionary change,” said PM Modi in a virtual address.

Speaking about the changed scenario of education during the Covid-19 pandemic, PM Modi said, “Our youth is ready to bring a transformation; it does not want to wait anymore. We have witnessed how Covid changed the entire scenario, but students adapted to these situations quickly and online education is becoming the order of the day.”

“The new National Education Policy assures the youth that the country is complete with them and with their spirits. The program of artificial intelligence (AI) launched now will also make our youngsters future-oriented and will create a way for AI-driven economy,” he said.

The event was also attended by the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

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DEOGHAR PRIESTS SEEK SC NOD FOR SYMBOLIC KANWAR YATRA, SHARAVNI POOJA

Ashish Sinha

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Panda Dharam Rakshini Sabhat, a registered association for priests and pandas of Deoghar at Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple, on Thursday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the authorities and permitting the priests/pandas of the Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple at Deoghar and limited number of devotees (5,000 per day) to perform the customary and symbolic Kanwar Yatra and Sharavni Pooja at the Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga and Baba Basukinath Temple in terms with the latest Covid-19 guidelines issued by the State of Jharkhand, Bihar and Union of India for the Holy Month of Shrava.

The petitioners also sought direction to allow a select and limited numbers priests/pandas of the Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple at Deoghar to collect the Holy Ganges water from Sultanganj, Bihar, and offer the same to the deities at Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple and Baba Basukinath Temple and perform the customary pooja for the Holy Month of Shravan in terms of the latest Covid-19 guidelines issued by the authorities.

The petitioners in their petition stated that not holding the annual Kanwar Yatra and eventual offering of Ganga Jal collected from Sultanganj in Bihar to the Baba Baidyanath shall have a profound effect on the faith of crores of individuals who are devouts of Baba Baidyanath and the Hindu faith. It is one of the utmost and sacred Hindu pilgrimage centres with the Baidyanath Temple being one of the twelve Shiva Jyothirlingas spread across the country and one of the 51 Shakti Peethas in India and holds very a important place for the worshiper of Lord Shiva. It is only the second Jyotirlinga where the shaktipeeth is located. The Shiva and Shakti reside together at the Baba Baidyanath Temple, it added. The Baba Baidyanath Temple board has a strict mechanism in place to avoid Covid-19 spreading in the area. The temple has developed a system under which around 5,000 individuals can be allowed to visit the temple for darshan in 24 hours, by following proper social distancing and sanitization as per the general Covid-19 pandemic protocol and as set by the Centre and the state government.

The petitioners further stated that Hindu devouts and Kanwars of the Baba Baidyanath believe that offering of Ganga Jal to Baba Baidyanath frees Shiva from the negative effect of the poison which he drank in order to save the entire cosmos. The poison which released as a result of churning of the ocean by the Devatas and Danavs was consumed by Bhagwan Shiv and held in his throat. The interruption in the holy ritual will cause deep agony and pain to the Hindu devouts, the plea said.

Compared to the Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh, the Kanwar Yatra in Jharkhand and Bihar is less risky and dangerous in the state of present pandemic. The yatra takes place from collecting Ganga Jal at Sultanganj Ganga, where the river runs north, and ends at Deoghar. It is a pilgrimage of approximately 105 km, whereas, in Uttar Pradesh, the Yatris/Kanwars usually collects Ganga Jal from Gaumukh and Haridwar and the Ganga Jal is then offered at local temples. Thus, the Kanwar Yatra in Uttar Pradesh is comparatively difficult to manage, it added.

The petitioner body is not seeking opening of the temple for public darshan or offering. The petitioner body has limited its prayer seeking permission for the Kanwar Yatra by the pandas or priests only, the plea said.

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