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# Rise of farmers will propel country’s growth, says PM
Offers financial support to those growing sugarcane, ahead of the Kairana bypoll
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said farmers are at the centre of his government’s growth and development vision.
After inaugurating the 135-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway in Baghpat, a day before the crucial byelection in neighbouring Kairana, he sought to woo farmers, a large chunk of the electorate in the Kairana Lok Sabha constituency.
Addressing a public meeting in Khekhda village, Mr. Modi said his government decided to provide Rs. 5.50 per quintal in financial support to cane farmers in the State struggling to get dues worth Rs. 12,000 crore from mills. “This money will not be given to the mills but transferred directly to the bank accounts of the cane farmers,” he said.
“My government is working on the concept of Bharat Uday [rise of India] through gramoday [growth of rural areas]. The farmers of my country, those who are food-providers, are at the centre of our concept of gramoday . This year, we made a budgetary allocation of Rs. 14,00,000 crore to strengthen the rural and agricultural infrastructure,” he said.
“I want to assure all cane farmers that the government is sensitive to their problems and we are committed to sorting out their troubles with all the commitment and promptness,” said the Prime Minister, hours after farmer Udayveer Singh died in the Baraut area of Baghpat while protesting against the delay in payment of cane dues.
Mr. Modi said the government was working on the Prime Minister’s Kisan Sampada Yojna, in which Rs. 6,000 crore would be invested. This scheme would ensure that the crop did not go waste while it waited to be sold after harvest.
He said that to clean up the air and ease congestion, the government was building expressways around Delhi. This was expected to cut back pollution by 30%.
Mr. Modi slammed the Congress and said the party was opposing development in the name of opposing the Prime Minister.
“Those who worship a family can never worship democracy. The Congress does not believe in institutions. When international agencies praise India, they raise questions even on that. These people questioned even the courage of the Army, which mounted surgical strikes,” he said.
# Naidu predicts fall of BJP in 2019
Karnataka poll proved limitations of BJP, Congress, he says
Asserting that the regional parties would play key role in 2019, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national president and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said on Sunday the BJP was daydreaming that it would retain power. The days of the Modi government were numbered, he said, addressing the inaugural session of the three-day Mahanadu, TDP’s annual conclave here.
“In 1996, the TDP steered the United Front to form government at the Centre. It will happen again. The regional parties will decide the government-to-be,” he said amidst thundering applause. “Neither the Congress nor the BJP would be able to form government on its own. The recent elections in Karnataka proved it. The TDP has power to change the political narrative in the country,” he said referring to the Telugu Desam’s role in the United Front (UF), which had the backing of the Congress and the Left and was a secular substitute to the BJP.
Referring to BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav’s assertion the alliance of the Opposition parties would not impact on the BJP’s fate in the 2019 elections, Mr. Naidu said, “The BJP will taste defeat and the regional parties will be king-makers.”
The Chief Minister termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “campaign PM, who raises only slogans, and has failed to deliver on promises.”
The NDA government failed to keep its promises and implement the provisions of the AP Reorganistaion Act forcing the TDP to part ways with the BJP. Not only Andhra Pradesh and Telangana but also all the southern States got a raw deal under the NDA government, he said.
Asserting that it was “historical necessity” for the TDP to retain power in the State and oust the BJP at the Centre, Mr. Naidu said, “It is is a crucial year for us. We need not be afraid of the injustice being meted out to us. Let us step ahead with self-respect, self-confidence and with the spirit of NT Rama Rao.”
But bear it in mind that the development came to a grinding halt for a decade in the combined AP when the TDP was out of power from 2004. It should not happen again for unhindered development of the State and to take construction of Polavaram and capital city Amaravati, to the logical conclusion, he said.
Underscoring the need for winning all 25 Lok Sabha seats, Mr. Naidu said, “It is not sufficient if the cadre has knowledge of polling booths and voting process. They should have a fair idea of the electronic voting machines (EVMs).”
This is fourth time that the party is organising the annual event in Vijayawada. Three mahanadus were organised during TDP founder president N T Rama Rao’s tenure. The party would adopt 32 resolutions: 20 relating to Andhra Pradesh, 4 on the failures of the Central government and 8 on Telangana State.
# Chengannur all set for byelection today
Proceedings to be webcast from sensitive polling booths
All arrangements are in place for the Chengannur Assembly byelection on Monday.
The voting will commence at 7 a.m. and go on till 6 p.m. Officials said that polling officers had collected polling materials from Chengannur Christian College and reached the 181 polling booths, including 17 auxiliary booths. Of the total booths, 22 have been identified as sensitive.
In order to ensure transparency and monitoring of any untoward incidents, measures have been taken to webcast all proceedings from the sensitive polling booths on the election day. The security has been tightened in the constituency, officials said.
The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used at all polling stations. Additional EVMs and VVPAT machines have been kept as reserve in case of malfunctioning. To exercise franchise, electorates should produce the Electoral Photo ID Card (EPIC) or any of the 12 documents prescribed by the election commission, officials said. The Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) for service voters will be used for the first time in the State in the Chengannur Assembly bypoll. There are 797 service voters in the constituency. The system enables a service voter to exercise his/her franchise using an electronically received postal ballot from anywhere outside their constituency.
The main candidates are Saji Cherian (LDF), D. Vijayakumar (UDF) and P.S Sreedharan Pillai (NDA). The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) is eyeing to retain the seat, while the United Democratic Front (UDF) is trying to wrest the seat it had lost in 2016 Assembly poll, after several years of dominance. Making it a triangular fight, the NDA, which came a close third in 2016 is hoping for a surprise victory.
Although the election result will not have any impact on the LDF’s majority in the Assembly, the outcome is significant for the ruling front as it is seen as an assessment of the two-year-old State government.
Counting of votes will take place on May 31.
# Minister faces victims’ ire
Thoothukudi police firing victims, kin grill him at hospital
Tamil Nadu Information Minister Kadambur C. Raju faced embarrassing moments on Sunday when some of those injured in the police firing in Thoothukudi and their relatives confronted him on the police action and assurances on closing down Sterlite Copper, a Vedanta group company, against which they have been protesting.
Following this, Mr. Raju, the first senior representative of the government and the ruling AIADMK to visit Thoothukudi since Tuesday’s police firing, hurriedly moved away from the ward at the Government Medical College Hospital.
As the Minister visited the ward to enquire about the patients, a woman asked him, “Has the Tamil Nadu government issued an official order [permanently] closing down Sterlite? Have you issued a legally binding order?” While Mr. Raju and district officials tried to assure her that the company would be shut down, she shot back, “Sir, you don’t try to again and again fool the people. If this had happened to your children, what would you have done? What has my son done (pointing to her injured son)? Don’t talk about humanitarianism. You only gave the orders [for firing]. Isn’t it?”
Notwithstanding explanations from the Minister, her son, who was lying on the hospital bed, intervened, saying, “How much money did Sterlite give to open fire at us? I will give double that money in 30 days. You shut down the company.”
Later, speaking to reporters at the Collectorate, Mr. Raju said those who took out a procession against Sterlite on May 22 had torched 98 vehicles.
Meanwhile, the prohibitory orders clamped under Section 144 of the CrPC in Thoothukudi were lifted on Sunday morning.
Normal life has resumed in the city. Commercial establishments have started functioning and bus services are also back in full swing. Other vehicular movement in the city is also gradually increasing.
# Panel to assess State’s finances
15th Finance Commission is visiting from May 28 to 31
Kerala is all set to stake its claims before the 15th Finance Commission, which is visiting the State from May 28 to 31. The visit assumes greater importance owing to the differences expressed by the State to the terms of reference of the commission and the lead it took to mobilise public opinion against it.
The commission, led by its chairman N.K. Singh and members Shaktikanta Das, Anoop Singh, Ashok Lahiri, Ramesh Chand and secretary Arvind Mehta will hold discussions with the Chief Minister, Ministers and other officials of the State, which will be the first destination of the panel in South India.
Detailed presentations will be made on the finances of the State government. The commission will also meet leaders of various political parties, representatives of trade and industry. There will also be an interactive session with representatives of urban local bodies and panchayats.
An official statement said here that the Finance Commission will assess the state of the finances of Kerala and the progress made in socio-economic field. Ahead of this visit, the commission held discussions with the Accountant General of Kerala in New Delhi.
The official statement, while giving a brief overview of the State’s GDP growth, referred to Kerala’s high wages which had a bearing on cultivation and other economic activities, its over dependence on the service sector in the absence of substantive pick up in agriculture and manufacturing, and the declining trend in foreign remittances, which, it said, continued to sustain its economy, but has weakened trade, construction and real estate sectors.
The social security spending of the State government on account of an ageing population will be a matter of concern. Kerala’s literacy level is the highest amongst all the States at 94% of the population, but its learning outcome is not commensurate, the statement said.
In the transport sector, Kerala was somewhat different from the other South Indian States because of the preponderance of private sector.
The commission needs to make an in-depth study of the recent developments and future possibilities of economic growth and development of Kerala, based on its meetings and interactions. Mainstream political parties are reportedly preparing separate memorandums to be submitted to the commission.
# Where bats are guardian angels
In Nagaon district of central Assam, a group of villages worship at a cave of bats
Bats, nocturnal and silent, scare many people. And now the Nipah virus outbreak has added to the fear, as one way the infection spreads is through the excrement of bats.
But in the another corner of the country, tribal and non-tribal residents of a group of villages revere the creatures. They worship at Baduli Kurung (bat cave) in the Bamuni hill, 17 km south of Nagaon town in central Assam, which is home to a number of colonies of both fruit- and insect-eating bats.
There are several local legends about the cave. One says an ascetic strayed into a kingdom of women and was held captive until his disciple traced and rescued him, and punished the women by turning them into bats.
Another says residents of a village over-exploited nature, so the gods punished them by turning them into bats and their village into a labyrinth of stones. Whatever the origin, the people agree the bats watch over the hills that provide them firewood and a life-saving spring (much of the groundwater in the area is contaminated with fluoride), which flows out of the cave.
As interesting is that the folklore had been almost forgotten until just after the turn of the millennium, when Abdur Rahman was posted as the head of a government-run sericulture farm at Kondoli, a village in the area.
Reba Bora, adviser to the Badulithaan Mela Committee, says, “We did not give much thought to the legends until he fished out British-era records and told us why we need to worship this place as god’s gift to us.” (Mr. Rahman, incidentally, was a staunch Muslim who became a maulvi after he retired.)
In 2001, locals built a small temple, Badulithaan, near the cave entrance. “A stone inside represents the god or goddess of one’s choice,” says Khoru Sing, its caretaker. “It also represents the bats, who the gods created for our good.”
In the same year, locals began hosting the three-day Badulithaan Mela, starting 24 hours after Sivaratri. So holy is the ground now that visitors are only allowed inside the cave on special occasions, and even then, must take off footwear, make no noise and carry no lights. “I am not an educated person,” says Mangra Mura, an Adivasi. “But I know the bats can never harm us. They don’t need us, we need them to protect our source of water.”
# Deadlock over Karnataka Cabinet continues
Rahul leaves for U.S. as Cong., JD(S) bicker over portfolios
Four days after JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy took the oath as Chief Minister of Karnataka, there is no clarity yet on how long it will take to expand his two-member Cabinet.
State Congress leaders held meetings with the party high command in New Delhi on Saturday and Sunday, but the discussions on Cabinet expansion remained inconclusive, sources said.
With Congress president Rahul Gandhi leaving for the U.S. on Sunday night with his mother Sonia Gandhi, the process of Cabinet formation is likely to be delayed by four to five days. “Will be out of India for a few days, accompanying Sonia-ji to her annual medical check-up,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.
Waiting for Rahul
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi on Sunday, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, who was part of the discussions, said the Cabinet would be expanded and portfolios allocated between the coalition partners only after Mr. Gandhi’s return.
“We could not discuss allocation of portfolios with Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Once he returns, we will discuss with him again. It will not take a week… Maybe, three-four days will be required,” he said.
Fight for Finance
The Cabinet expansion has also been delayed over differences in the distribution of portfolios between the coalition partners, with a tussle for key Ministries including Finance, Public Works, Water Resources and Energy.
The Finance portfolio has assumed significance for both parties, given the crop loan waiver issue. The JD(S) had promised in its poll manifesto to waive crop loans within 24 hours of coming to power.
Chief Minister Kumaraswamy on Sunday admitted that “there are some issues on portfolio allocation, particularly the Finance portfolio…” “However, all issues would be sorted out amicably,” he said. He also clarified that he had not heard from Mr. Gandhi on the talks for allocation of portfolios. He had spoken to Mr. Rahul and Ms. Sonia on the phone, he added.
Meanwhile, the Congress has chalked out criteria for choosing Ministers. Caste calculations and representation of different regions are expected to play a decisive role.
# Admissions under RTE Act today
The draw of lot for admissions to the 25% seats reserved under Right to Education (RTE) Act in schools for the entry-level classes will happen in all the matriculation and elementary schools in Madurai district on Monday. The district has 5,895 seats in 157 matriculation and 302 nursery and primary schools. Through the online system of application, a total of 9087 applications have been received in the district for these seats.
# Exam postponed
Belagavi-based Rani Channamma University has decided to postpone all degree examinations in the wake of the Karnataka bandh on Monday.
Registrar Rangaraj Vanadurga said that the revised schedule would be announced later.
Deputy Commissioner S. Ziyaullah has announced that there would be no holidays for schools and colleges on Monday and that they would function normally.
# Modi taking credit for UPA projects: Rahul
‘Prime Minister is ignoring plight of sugar cane farmers’
Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a roadshow to inaugurate two expressways and addressed a public rally at Baghpat in Western Uttar Pradesh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday alleged that the Prime Minister ignored the plight of the protesting sugar cane farmers and was busy taking credit for projects initiated by the previous United Progressive Alliance regime.
Mr. Gandhi’s tweet mentioned Udayveer Singh, a farmer who died on Saturday at the Baraut tehsil office, during a protest against non-payment of sugar cane dues even as the crushing season was coming to an end and the increase in power tariffs.
Mocks U.P. roadshow
“U.P.’s sugar cane farmers are thinking that as the Prime Minister’s roadshow went past their fields to claim credit for UPA projects, why did he not pay attention to them? Unfortunately farmers like Udayveer who had to give up his life fighting for their rights can’t even expect such a thing,” the Congress president tweeted.
At a press conference, party spokesperson and Bihar in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil said, “During the the U.P. election campaign, he had promised that sugar cane farmers would get their entire dues in 14 days. Now it is not 14 days but over 14 months and the dues to the farmers have only increased.”
“When the BJP came to power, the dues were to the tune of Rs. 5,500 crore but now they are over Rs. 12,000 crore,” he said.
“The place where Modi ji was speaking, was just a little distance from where Udayveer Singh passed away protesting against the policies of the BJP government. Why did he [the Prime Minister] not visit his family or, at least, express sympathies,” Mr. Gohil asked.
Only partly ready
He said the Delhi-Meerut expressway had four sections and only one of them was now ready.
Even land acquisition had not taken place in the last section. “It is like holding someone else’s baby and claiming it as your own. As for the section inaugurated by Modi ji today [Sunday], former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram not only announced it in his Budget speech but even earmarked funds for it. And Dr. Manmohan Singh had set up a steering group to oversee it,” Mr. Gohil added.
# Modi ignores farmers: Rahul
Hours after Narendra Modi opened two expressways and addressed a public rally at Baghpat, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday alleged that the Prime Minister ignored the plight of sugarcane farmers and was busy taking credit for UPA projects.PAGE 10
# Techie from Bengaluru drowns in Ramanagaram
A weekend trip ended in a tragedy for a young software engineer from Bengaluru when he drowned in Hosakere at Avverahalli near the historical Revanasiddeshwara Hills on the outskirts of Ramanagaram on Saturday evening.
The body of Chethan (24) of Bhojana Hosahalli, near Whitefield, was retrieved on Sunday morning.
According to the Ramanagaram Rural police, Chethan and seven others had gone to the lake in the afternoon. They took selfies, had food and later ventured into the waters. However, within minutes the victim drowned in the lake while his friends watched helplessly.
None of them knew swimming, the police added, quoting his friends who were in a state of shock.
The Fire and Emergency Services Department personnel launched a search on Saturday night and retrieved the body with the help of local youths at 8.30 a.m. on Sunday.
The Ramanagaram Rural police have registered a case.
Source:- The Hindu