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Raja Warring To Take On ‘Deserter’ Ravneet Singh ‘Bittu’, As Cong Names 4 More LS Candidates From Punjab

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Amrinder Singh Brar 'Raja Warring'

 

Releasing a fresh list of four party candidates from Punjab, the Congress high command has put its state party president Amrinder Singh Brar ‘Raja Warring’ through an acid test by fielding him from Ludhiana constituency against two time running party MP Ravneet Singh ‘Bittu’, who caused a huge embarrassment to the party by deserting it and joining the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

With this the party has named candidates to 12 of the 13 parliamentary constituencies in the state, leaving its options for Ferozepur seat still open.

Others named in the list released on Monday (29.04.2024) are former Punjab deputy chief minister and three times running Dera Baba Nanak MLA, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa from Gurdaspur; former Sangrur Lok Sabha member and ex-cabinet minister Vijay Inder Singla from Anandpur Sahib; and former Zira MLA Kulbir Singh Zira from Khadoor Sahib, replacing incumbent party MP Jasbir Singh Gill ‘Dimpa’, who had opted out of the race, preferring to concentrate on state politics.

Immediately after the announcement of his candidature from Ludhiana, Raja Warring took to X (formerly Twitter) to attack Ravneet Singh Bittu without naming him. While expressing his readiness to “embark on another battle after my party leadership posed confidence in me to contest from Ludhiana”, he commented, “Those individuals, once entrusted with responsibilities and showered with support by the party, turned out to be deserters.”

The three-times running MLA from Gidderbaha assembly segment, which falls under Faridkot parliamentary constituency, and former cabinet minister further said, “First, it was against the power of the Badals in Bathinda, and now it’s against these deserters. Counting on the unwavering support of the people of Ludhiana.”

Raja Warring had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Bathinda against former Union minister and then two time incumbent MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), giving her a good fight. The latter had won a third straight term in the Lok Sabha by a margin of less than 22,000 votes.

The other candidates from major parties in the fray are Ludhiana (central) MLA Ashok Prashar (Pappi) of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and ex-MLA Ranjit Singh Dhillon of the SAD.

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, named the party candidate from Gurdaspur, is contesting Lok Sabha elections for the first time.

A four-time MLA from Dera Baba Nanak assembly segment which falls under the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency, Randhawa, who was elevated from the post of cabinet minister to deputy chief minister after the party high command decided to replace Capt Amarinder Singh with Charanjit Singh Channi as Punjab Chief Minister months ahead of the March 2022 assembly elections in the state, is up against former Vidhan Sabha deputy speaker and three-times MLA from Sujanpur assembly segment Dinesh Singh ‘Babbu’ of the BJP.

Gurdaspur has been a stronghold of the BJP as part of its now broken long standing alliance with the SAD. Film star, late Vinod Khanna had won the seat four times in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2014, and Sunny Deol is the party’s incumbent MP. In between though, Pratap Singh Bajwa of the Congress won the seat in 2009 and Sunil Jakhar, then with the Congress won a by-election necessitated by Vinod Khanna’s death in 2017. After switching over to the BJP, Jakhar is now state party president of the saffron party.

The other candidates in the fray from Gurdaspur are Batala MLA Amansher Singh ‘Sherry’ Kalsi of the ruling AAP and senior SAD leader and former cabinet minister Daljit Singh Cheema.

Cheema, who represented Rupnagar assembly segment, falling under Anandpur Sahib parliamentary constituency, from 2012-2017, and became Education minister in the SAD-BJP government led by Prakash Singh Badal, had earlier unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 from Anandpur Sahib constituency, and had lost to then rookie Congress  candidate and assassinated Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s grandson Ravneeet Singh ‘Bittu’.

Cheema’s home village by the same name falls in Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency.

Vijay Inder Singla

Moving to the Anandpur Sahib constituency, Vijay Inder Singla, who has been named the party candidate, has represented the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat in 2009-2014, though in the next election in 2014 he lost badly to the current Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann. In 2017, he won the Sangrur assembly seat and became a cabinet minister in the Capt Amarinder Singh led Congress government. He however, lost the seat by a big margin in the AAP wave which swept the state in 2022 assembly elections.

This is the second time in recent times that the Congress has moved former MPs from other constituencies to Anandpur Sahib. In 2019, former MP from Ludhiana Manish Tewari was fielded from this constituency, and he won. He has finally been granted the party ticket from Chandigarh, his birth place, to which he had been staking claim all along.

Singla is up against veteran SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra, who won the seat in 2014 but lost in 2019 to Manish Tewari.

For the ruling AAP, its spokesperson and former senior student leader Manvinder Singh Kang is in the race.

The BJP’s search for a suitable candidate to field from Anandpur Sahib is continuing.

Kulbir Singh Zira

Kulbir Singh Zira, the candidate named by the Congress from Khadoor Sahib, replacing incumbent party MP Jasbir Singh Gill (Dimpa), is a former MLA (2017-2022) from Zira assembly segment of the parliamentary constituency. However, he lost badly in the 2022 assembly elections, finishing third behind the AAP, which swept the polls, and the SAD.

He will face a formidable challenge from cabinet minister Laljit Singh Bhullar of AAP and senior SAD leader and two-time MLA – from Valtoha and Khem Karan – Virsa Singh Valtoha. The BJP has fielded its Amritsar District (Rural) President Manjit Singh ‘Manna’ Mianwind, who has been a three-time MLA during his earlier innings with the SAD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress

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Kumari Selja to contest LS 2024 elections from Sirsa (SC) constituency as Congress candidate
Apart from Kumari Sejla from Sirsa (SC) and Deepender Hooda (Rohtak), others do not inspire much confidence

After seemingly endless deliberations over choice of candidates for nine of the 10 lok sabha seats in Haryana being contested by the Congress in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the first list of eight candidates released by the party high command late on Thursday (25.04.2024) clearly stamps the dominance of party heavyweight from the state Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Barring former Union minister and four time Lok Sabha member Kumari Selja, all the other candidates are considered to be from the Hooda camp. Selja herself has not been fielded from the constituency of her choice, which was Ambala (SC), but from Sirsa (SC) seat. She has represented both seats twice each in the Lok Sabha.

Varun Chaudhary is Congress candidate from Ambala (SC) seat

From Ambala (SC) seat, the party has bet its money on a young face, sitting Mulana (SC) MLA Varun Chaudhary, son of former long standing state party chief and Haryana minister Phool Chand Mulana.

Rao Dan Singh to contest from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh seat

For the Bhiwani-Mahendragarh seat, which has been dominated for decades by Haryana stalwart Bansi Lal’s family, the party has denied the ticket to Bansi Lal’s paternal granddaughter and former MP from the seat Shruti Chaudhary. It has preferred four times, and also sitting MLA from Mahendragarh Rao Dan Singh.

After making a giant kill in her first lok sabha elections in 2009 from the seat, when she defeated prominent Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Ajay Chautala, Shruti Chaudhary lost to BJP’s Dharambir Singh in 2014 and 2019 by big margins. BJP has once again reposed faith in Dharambir Singh from the seat.

Deepender Hooda again pitched against Arvind Kumar Sharma of the BJP from Rohtak LS seat

Congress has again pitched the only party Rajya Sabha member from the state and Hooda’s son Deepender Singh Hooda against BJP’s incumbent MP Arvind Kumar Sharma from Rohtak seat. Deepender, who won the seat thrice since 2005, lost narrowly to Arvind Kumar Sharma in the 2019 elections, when the BJP swept all 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Jai Prakash it is from Hisar

Brijendra Singh, incumbent BJP MP from Hisar, who recently resigned from the party and joined the Congress, was widely believed to get the party ticket to contest the seat again, but instead the party decided to go with Jai Prakash, former three-time MP from the seat (1989-Janata Dal, 1996-Haryana Vikas Party of Bansi Lal, 2004-Congress) and former Union deputy minister in Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar ministry.

Incidentally in his latest attempt at contesting elections, Jai Prakash could not even win an assembly byelection. He lost the 2022 byelections to the Adampur assembly segment of the Hisar parliamentary constituency to rookie BJP candidate Bhavya Bishnoi, son of then incumbent MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, who quit the Congress and the seat to join the BJP.

Punjabi vs Punjabi: Haryana Youth Congress president Divyanshu Budhiraja is the party candidate against former chief minister Mahohar Lal of the BJP from Karnal

Springing a surprise, the Congress has played a gamble, pitching a young rookie Divyanshu Budhiraja (31) against former Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal of teh BJP, who quit the post to contest the Lok Sabha elections from his home turf Karnal. He represented Karnal as MLA when he was chief minister. In fielding Budhiraja, who is state youth Congress president, from Karnal, the party has tried to match Manohar Lal, who belongs to the Punjabi community, with a candidate from the same community.

Satyapal Brahamchari is the surpirse Congress candidate from Sonipat

Another surprise is the party candidate named to contest from Sonipat, from where Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who belongs to the Jat community, had suffered a shock defeat in 2019 at the hands of Ramesh Chander Kaushik of the BJP, who hails from the Brahmin community.

The party this time has shown faith in a Brahmin, Satpal Brahamchari, who manages multiple dharamshalas, ashrams and temples in Haryana, and in Haridwar, and lost his first big elections as a Congress candidate from Haridwar assembly seat in 2022.

Mahendra Pratap returns to active electoral politics as Congress candidate from Faridabad

Former two-time Haryana cabinet minister and five-time MLA Mahendra Pratap is making a comeback in electoral politics, having been given the party ticket to contest from Faridabad.

The party has reserved its decision on fielding a candidate from Gurgaon.

Under the INDIA alliance, Congress has left the Kurukshetra seat to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has already announced state party president and its former Rajya Sabha member Sushil Gupta as its party candidate.

In announcing the first list of party candidates from Haryana, Congress, which commands a considerable Jat vote bank in the state, has tried to counter the BJP’s attempts at consolidating the non-Jat votes.

Apart from naming two jats – Deepender Singh Hooda from Rohtak and Jai Prakash from Hisar, and dalits to the two reserved seats – Kumari Selja from Sirsa and Varun Chaudhary from Ambala, the party has taken care to accommodate a Brahmin – Satpal Brahmchari from Sonipat, a Punjabi – Divyanshu Budhiraja from Karnal, and two members from the other backward classes (OBCs) – Rao Dan Singh from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh and Mahendra Pratap from Faridabad.

Polling to the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana will be held in the sixth and penultimate phase of the elections on May 25. The final phase will be held on June 1 and counting for all seven phases of the elections will start on June 4.

SC Rejects Pleas For 100% Verification Of EVM Votes With VVPAT slips

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LiveLaw.in
However, two directives issued to allay the apprehension of candidates and strengthen the existing mechanism

The Supreme Court of India on Friday (26.04.2024) dismissed a clutch of petitions seeking the complete cross-verification of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) votes with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs). It also rejected pleas for return to the ballot paper system for elections.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, delivering separate but concurring judgment, said that the court had elaborately discussed the protocols and technical aspects before rejecting the request for 100 per cent verification of EVM votes with VVPAT slips. Expressing confidence in the current electoral mechanisms, the bench emphasised that mere suspicion is not enough to question a system pivotal to the democratic process of the world’s largest democracy.

However, it observed that “One suggestion which can be examined by the Election Commission of India would be whether there can be electronic machines for counting paper slips and whether there can be a bar code along with the symbols as regards which party.”

The court issued two directives to allay the apprehension of the candidates in the fray and strengthen the existing mechanism.

It said that the containers carrying the symbol loading unit should be sealed in the presence of the candidates or their polling agents and be kept secured for 45 days – the period for which the control unit, ballot unit, and VVPATs candidates are preserved for enabling candidates to file election petitions against the poll result.

Second, the court ordered that if any candidate files a written complaint within seven days of the poll results, casting doubt on the process’s dependability, the control unit, ballot unit, and VVPATs would be examined by the engineers of the EVM manufacturing companies following the results announcement.

During the hearing, Justice Datta said that while maintaining a balanced perspective is crucial in evaluating systems or institutions, blindly distrusting any aspect of the system can breed unwarranted scepticism and impede progress.

The petitions filed by the non-profit Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and activist Arun Kumar Agarwal had sought a more comprehensive approach to casting and counting of votes.

Agarwal advocated the counting of all VVPAT slips to ensure transparency. ADR’s petition focussed on enabling voters to confirm that their votes are accounted for as they are cast. The petitions also sought that voters be permitted to physically deposit their VVPAT slips in ballot boxes.

JioCinema Premium @ Re 1 Per Day Poses Direct Challenge To Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

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Reliance Jio, known for its disruptive marketing strategies, has slashed the price of its JioCinema premium plan to as low as Re 1 per day. Coming into immediate effect, the JioCinema premium plan will start at just Rs 29 per month, a massive drop from the previous Rs 99 per month, or Rs 999 a year subscription fee (for streaming on up to four devices, ads included).

The revised subscription plans now provide “ad-free” access to online and offline viewing of Hollywood movies, TV series, and children’s programming in 4K quality across any device, in five different languages. This poses a direct challenge to popular rival platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

JioCinema is also offering a “family plan” @ Rs 89 per month, providing all the premium benefits simultaneously on up to four screens. Existing premium subscribers of JioCinema will be automatically moved to the family plan at no extra cost, Jio has announced.

Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and other sports content remains freely accessible as part of the platform’s ad-supported model, premium members gain exclusive access to a vast array of global series and movie premieres.

Through strategic partnerships with major studios like Peacock, HBO, Paramount, and Warner Bros Discovery, JioCinema has access to high-profile titles such as “Game Of Thrones”, “House Of The Dragon”, Oppenheimer”, “Barbie”, “Succession” and “The Last of Us.”

All of this content will also be available in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and Marathi to JioCinema premium users.

Online Credit Card Spending Crosses Rs 1 Lakh Cr For First Time in March 2024

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Credit card spending online has surpassed the Rs 1 lakh crore mark (Rs 1.04,081 Cr) for the first time in March 2024, with the total credit card spends during the month, including through point-of-sale machines, standing at Rs 1,64,586 crore.

According to the latest data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the online credit card spends of Rs 1.04 lakh crore+ are 20 per cent higher than Rs 86,390 crore recorded in March 2023. From month-to-month, this marks an increase of 10 per cent from Rs 94,774 crore in February 2024.

Offline credit card transactions (through point-of-sale machines), in the month of March 2024, stood at Rs 60,378 crore, up 19 per cent from Rs 50,920 crore during the same period a year ago.

Comparing the entire financial year period, the credit card spending of Rs 18.26 lakh crore in FY 2023-24 was up 27 per cent from nearly Rs 14 lakh crore in FY 2022-23.

The number of credit cards in the country, which crossed 10 crore for the first time in the month of February 2024, increased further to 10.2 crore in March, up 20 per cent from 8.5 crore a year ago.

With five credit card issuers holding 75 per cent of market share in the country at the end of FY 2023-24, the largest share is with HDFC Bank (20.2 per cent), followed by SBI (18.5 per cent), ICICI Bank (16.6 per cent), Axis Bank (14.0 per cent) and Kotak Mahindra Bank (5.8 per cent).

The top 10 card-issuing banks account for 90 per cent of the total credit cards issued in India.

The data reveals that the increased penetration of credit cards has resulted in a surge in the number of transactions. While the point-of-sale transactions rose 28 per cent year-on-year to 18 crore in March 2024, the online payments rose 33 per cent to 16.4 crore.

However, data also indicates that customers are increasingly using cards for low-value payments. With card transactions made possible on UPI network, average value of transactions is expected to fall further.

The gains in credit cards transactions have come at the expense of debit cards, the volume of transactions of which have declined by 30 per cent in stores to 11.6 crore in March 2024 and 41 per cent in online transactions to 4.3 crore.

 

RBI Restrains Kotak Bank; No Issuing Of New Credit Cards & Onboarding Clients Digitally

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Bank loses its status as fourth largest banking stock on Dalal Street to its rival Axis Bank in market value terms

Fearing potential repercussions of the Reserve Bank of India’s latest action against Kotak Mahindra Bank, one of the top private lenders in the country, directing it to halt the issuance of fresh credit cards and onboarding new clients through digital channels, the bank’s share plunged as much as 10% during early trading on Thursday (25.04.2022). This decline marks the sharpest single-day drop for the stock since March 23, 2020.

RBI Chief General Manager Yogesh Dayal stated in a press release issued on Thursday (24.04.2024): “These actions are necessitated based on significant concerns arising out of Reserve Bank’s IT Examination of the bank for the years 2022 and 2023 and the continued failure on part of the bank to address these concerns in a comprehensive and timely manner.”

He further informed: “In the absence of a robust IT infrastructure and IT Risk Management framework, the bank’s Core Banking System (CBS) and its online and digital banking channels have suffered frequent and significant outages in the last two years, the recent one being a service disruption on April 15, 2024, resulting in serious customer inconveniences. The bank is found to be materially deficient in building necessary operational resilience on account of its failure to build IT systems and controls commensurate with its growth.

“In the past two years, the Reserve Bank has been in continuous high-level engagement with the bank on all these concerns with a view to strengthening its IT resilience, but the outcomes have been far from satisfactory. It is also observed that, of late, there has been rapid growth in the volume of the bank’s digital transactions, including transactions pertaining to credit cards, which is building further load on the IT systems.”

Maintaining that the action was in the larger interests of the customers, Dayal shared: “The Reserve Bank, therefore, has decided to place certain business restrictions on the bank in the interest of customers and to prevent any possible prolonged outage which may seriously impact not only the bank’s ability to render efficient customer service but also the financial ecosystem of digital banking and payment systems.”

Kotak Bank reassurance to customers

Despite the specific regulatory directives, Kotak Mahindra Bank remains confident that they will not significantly impact its overall business.

In a filing to the stock exchange, the bank is reported to have stated that it has taken concrete steps to adopt new technologies to strengthen its IT systems and will continue to work with RBI to swiftly resolve balance issues at the earliest.

The bank has reassured its existing customers of uninterrupted services, including credit card, mobile and net banking. The bank’s branches will continue to onboard new customers and provide all services except for the issuance of new credit cards.

Axis dislodges Kotak from No. 4

While Kotak Mahindra Bank’s shares were trading 10%, lower, those of its rival Axis Bank were trading 4% higher.

According to Economic Times, Kotak Mahindra Bank has now lost its status as the fourth largest banking stock on Dalal Street to private sector rival Axis Bank in market value terms.  Resultantly, Kotak’s market capitalisation fell to Rs 3.3 lakh crore while that of Axis Bank was higher at Rs 3.4 lakh crore.

Amitabh Chaudhry re-appointed Axis MD & CEO

Meanwhile, Axis Bank’s board has approved the re-appointment of Amitabh Chaudhry as MD & CEO for three more years, effective January 2025, subject to RBI approval. He had joined in 2019.

 

 

Why So Long For Harsimrat! Kaypee Among 6 More SAD Candidates; Congress Names 2 Women

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The six Shiromani Akali Dal candidates announced in the party's second list on 22.04.2024

Panthic party’s unease evident in delaying most obvious choice

Given the drought of winnable candidates within its ranks, one would have thought that the re-nomination of three-time Member of Parliament and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal should have been Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)’s most obvious choice for re-nomination as its candidate from Bathinda.

But in not naming her in the first list of seven candidates, the party had exposed its sense of unease over her electoral prospects. However, left with no other choice, the party had to eventually declare her the party candidate from her traditional seat in its second list of six candidates for Punjab and lone Chandigarh seat, released on Monday (22.04.2024).

The reasons are not far to seek.

SAD was already facing a backlash especially in its rural strongholds because of the incidents of desecration of the holy ‘birs’ (forms) of Guru Granth Sahib during the last party government in the state, as well as the duplicity of its stand on the now repealed farm laws, which were called ‘black laws’ by the agitating farmers. It reflected in the party’s dismal performance in the 2022 assembly elections, which were swept by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The party, for the first time in decades, is facing an election in the state with its trusted ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) joining the ruling AAP and the Congress as its major electoral adversary. This has dealt a double blow to the party. Once drawing strength from the BJP’s hold in the urban areas, the party stands to lose this vote bank to the saffron party.

SAD’s top leadership has been depleting gradually ever since its tallest leader in recent times, Parkash Singh Badal made way for his son Sukhbir Singh Badal to take over reins of the party in 2008. The longest serving chief minister of the state and former union minister was Punjab’s Atal Behari Vajpayee of sorts, popular and always eager to take everybody along. The junior Badal has not quite acted like his father, resulting in many aggrieved senior leaders distancing themselves from the party. Though, after the 2022 electoral reverses, and his father’s death, he has tried to woo them back.

Not finding a winnable candidate from its own ranks for the Jalandhar (SC) seat, SAD in its second list of candidates, announced former senior Congress Dalit leader, Punjab Pradesh Congress president and Punjab minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee as its party candidate. Kaypee quit the Congress and was welcomed into the SAD by Sukhbir Singh Badal at the former’s residence. His candidature was declared there and then.

Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal welcoming former senior Congress Dalit leader Mohinder Singh Kaypee into the party fold in Jalandhar.

Putting a stamp on his decision not to seek re-election from Ferozepur constituency, Sukhbir Singh Badal announced Nardev Singh Mann @ Bobby Mann as the party candidate from the seat. He is the son of three-time MP Zora Singh Mann, who won the seat in 1998, 1999, 2004. SAD has held the seat since 1998.

Among other candidates announced, former Punjab minister and four time MLA Sohan Singh Thandal has been fielded from Hoshiarpur (SC) and ex-MLA Ranjit Singh Dhillon from Ludhiana.

For the lone lok sabha seat in Chandigarh, the party has named its Chandigarh state party president Hardeep Singh Buterla as the party candidate. He is a three times running councilor of the Municipal Corporation Chandigarh and former senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor.

With this the SAD has named candidates to 12 of the 13 lok sabha constituencies in Punjab. A party candidate for the only remaining constituency, Khadoor Sahib is expected to be made soon.

Congress names 2 women candidates

Meanwhile, treading cautiously in the wake of continuing poaching attempts in the state, the Congress has bet on women candidates, in its second list of just two candidates from Punjab, taking its tally of candidates fielded in the elections so far to eight. It is still deliberating on the remaining five constituencies.

As per the fresh list, which also includes candidates for Bihar, the Congress has fielded Yamini Gomar from Hoshiarpur (SC) Lok Sabha seat while Amarjit Kaur Sahoke is the party candidate from Faridkot, replacing incumbent party MP and noted Punjabi folk singer/actor Muhammad Sadique.

This is surprising as the seat is going to witness an absorbing contest between stars from the Punjabi music and entertainment industry – famous Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans (BJP) and popular Punjabi singer/actor Karamjit Anmol (AAP).

Yamini Gomar

Yamini Gomar is a former AAP leader, who unsuccessfully contested the 2014 general election from Hoshiarpur. A Dalit social activist, Gomar had received over 2.13 lakh votes, finishing third on the seat which was won by BJP’s Vijay Sampla. She had quit AAP in 2016 and joined the Congress. Though she did not get the Congress ticket in 2019, she was apparently rewarded for remaining loyalty towards the party.

Amarjit Kaur Sahoke

Amarjit Kaur Sahoke, a former SAD leader, switched to the Congress ahead of the 2022 assembly elections in the state. She remained chairperson of Moga Zila Parishad from 2013-2018. Later she contested the assembly elections from Jagraon (SC) in 2017 as SAD candidate but finished third behind AAP and Congress candidates. After her switchover to the Congress, her husband Bhupinder Singh Sahoke was given the party ticket from Nihal Singh Wala, but he too lost by a big margin to the AAP, which swept the elections across the state.

Tirupati Temple Breaks Its Own Record, Invests Rs 1,161.08 Cr In FDs During 2023-24

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Lord Venkateshwara
This eclipses previous highest of Rs 1,153.26 Cr; trust’s cumulative fixed deposits across banks stand at Rs 13,287.62 crore as of March 31, and gold reserves have swelled to 11,329.67 kg, valued at over Rs 8,400 crore at current rates

The world’s richest Hindu temples trust, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which runs the world-renowned Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple dedicated to the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver or protector of the universe, in Tirupati town of Chittor district in Andhra Pradesh state, has recorded a new financial high.

Deccan Chronicle has reported quoting sources that the trust has invested Rs 1,161.08 crore in fixed deposits during 2023-24, eclipsing its previous highest of Rs 1,153.26 crore set in 2015-16. It also received a staggering 1,031 kg in gold offerings worth around Rs 773 crore from devotees during the financial year. The trust’s cumulative fixed deposits across banks stand at Rs 13,287.62 crore as of March 31, and gold reserves have swelled to 11,329.67 kg, valued at over Rs 8,400 crore at current rates.

The report said over the past 12 years, from 2013 to 2024, barring the Covid-impacted years of 2021 (Rs 270 crore) and 2022 (Rs 274 crore) along with 2019 (Rs 285 crore), TTD has consistently made fixed deposits exceeding Rs 500 crore annually.

TTD’s various trusts amassed Rs 5,529.51 crore from devotee contributions till March 31. The average annual earnings from interest alone amounts to Rs 1,600 crore. Now the total investments, including fixed deposits and donations received by various trusts, together have reached Rs 18,817.13 crore as on March 31, 2024.

About Lord Venkateswara

Venkateshwara is another form of Lord Vishnu. According to the Hindu scriptures, Vishnu, out of love towards his devotees, incarnated as Venkateswara and appeared for the salvation and upliftment of humanity in this Kali Yuga age. It is considered the supreme form of Vishnu in this age. The Venkateswara swami temple is also called Kaliyuga Vaikuntam.

The sacred spot on the hill about 2,800 feet above sea level is known as Tirumala, the abode of Lord Venkateswara in Tipupati town. The hill forms part of the Eastern Ghats and is also known as Venkatachala and Seshachala.

Big Blow For Mamata, Calcutta HC Nullifies 2016 Recruitment Process, Effectively Dismissing 2500+ School Teachers

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In a body blow to the Mamta Banerjee government in West Bengal, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Monday (24.04.2024) nullified the process of State Level Selection Test-2016 (SLST) for recruitment of teachers in state government-sponsored and aided schools, and ordered cancellation of all 25,000+ appointments made through it.

The bench comprising justices Debangsu Basak and Md Shabbar Rashidi, constituted by the Chief Justice of the high court on directions of the Supreme Court, also ordered that all teachers who were recruited illegally (blank Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheets) to return their salaries drawn thus far within six weeks.

It had heard numerous petitions and appeals relating to the selection of candidates for appointment by the SSC in the categories of teachers of classes 9, 10, 11 and 12 and group-C and D staffers through the SLST-2016. Hearing in the matters concluded on March 20 and judgement was reserved by the bench.

Over 23 lakh candidates had appeared for the SLST-2016 for 24,640 vacant posts. A total of 25,753 appointment letters were issued against the vacancies.

The bench further directed the West Bengal School Service Commission to initiate a fresh appointment process, as well as CBI to further investigate the appointment process and submit a report in three months.

Earlier, on writ petitions by some candidates who appeared in SLST-2016, but did not get jobs, a single bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay had ordered a CBI investigation into alleged irregularities in the recruitment process.

The high court had also ordered termination of appointments of a number of teaching and non-teaching staff after finding irregularities.

Disposing of petitions before it in connection with the matters, the Supreme Court had on November 9, 2023, requested the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court to constitute a division bench to hear all the petitions and appeals pertaining to the recruitment process through SLST-2016 for early adjudication.

The apex court had in its order accorded protection to the appointees, whose appointments were quashed by the high court, for a period of six months to enable the division bench to adjudicate on the disputes.

The CBI had completed the investigation into the matters and submitted a report before the high court in accordance with the direction of the Supreme Court to do so within two months from the date of its order.

The central probe agency has arrested former state education minister Partha Chatterjee and some functionaries of the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC).

Following the high court verdict today hundreds of school job aspirants, including petitioners, rejoiced outside the court premises.

Mamata Banerjee

Reacting to the verdict, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is already feeling the heat of the Sandeshkhali episodes involving sexual atrocities on women and land grabbing, called it “illegal” and alleged that BJP leaders have been influencing the judiciary and judgments.

“We will stand by those who lost jobs,” she asserted, promising them that the Trinamool government will challenge the Calcutta high court order in the Apex Court.

In A Very Rare Event, Sextuplets (6 Babies) Born To Pakistani Woman

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TV grab of the sextuplets born to a Pakistani woman in a Rawalpindi hospital on 19.04.2024

In a very rare occurrence, a 27 years old woman in Rawalpindi, Pakistan has given birth to six babies (sextuplets) – four male and two female – in the nursery of the district hospital on Friday (19.04.2024) via a complicated C-section surgery.

According to media reports, quoting attending doctors, the babies were delivered one after the other in an hour and that both the babies and the mother were keeping well.

The woman, Zeenat Waheed, wife of Mohammad, developed slight complications after the multiple childbirths, but doctors assured that she would be fine after a few days of care.

The babies, though their weights are normal, are being kept in an incubator as a precautionary measure.

The parents and the hospital medical team were elated at the development.

Though birth of sextuplets happens one in every 4.5 million pregnancies, and live births of such a high number of babies are a rare occurrence, there have been even more rare instances on record of the world witnessing birth of septuplets (7 babies), octuplets (8 babies) and nonuplets (9 babies) as well.