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Lok Sabha elections 2019: 17% polling till 11 am on final voting day; clashes in West Bengal

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Nearly 17% voters cast their votes in the first four hours of polling in the final round of the seven-phase elections, which began on April 11, for electing the 17th Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi is among the 59 parliamentary seats voting across 7 states.

At 11 am, the Election Commission website put the overall voting figure at 17.01 per cent, with Jharkhand reporting highest turnout of 23.86% and Punjab lowest of 10.40%.

The PM , as he did in all the earlier phases too, tweeted an appeal in the morning, urging voters to come out and vote in huge numbers. “Your one vote will shape India’s development trajectory in the years to come. I also hope first time voters vote enthusiastically,” he wrote.

West Bengal, which has witnessed high-decibel campaign and also violence during voting, witnessed clashes on Sunday too with Trinamool and BJP blaming each other for violence. Crude bombs were hurled at two places in Gilaberia area in Deganga of North 24 Parganas district under Barasat constituency and in Raidighi of South 24 Parganas district under Mathurapur constituency came in as voters queued up in polling booths.

There were allegations that BJP supporters were beaten up and its camp office vandalised allegedly by TMC workers in Kultoli in Jaynagar Lok Sabha . Sayantan Basu, the BJP’s candidate for Basirhat constituency, alleged rigging in several areas and said police was doing nothing to stop it.

BJP candidate in Diamond Harbour constituency, Nilanjan Roy, alleged that his car was vandalised in front of police in Budge Budge area.

“Bike-borne goons came and vandalised by car. We have informed the EC and police super about the incident. The EC has failed to utilise the police and security forces. The poll panel has become a mute spectator. I had told the police that trouble would take place here on polling day,” said Roy.

Mala Roy, the TMC’s candidate in Kolkata South constituency, alleged that central force personnel did not allow her to enter booth number 72 in a polling station in Mudiali under her constituency. Roy said she went after learning that polling was stopped for 45 minutes. She said she will lodge a complaint with the poll watchdog.

Early morning queues were seen at several polling booths in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar was among the early voters and batted for shorter poll schedules: “Elections should not be held over such a long duration, there was a long gap between each phase of voting. I will write to leaders of all parties to build a consensus on this.”

Among the early voters were BJP’s Yogi Adityanath, Sushil Kumar Modi, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rahul Sinha; Congress’s Pawan Kumar Bansal, Trinamool’s Abhishek Banerjee and cricketer Harbhajan Singh.

More than two months of official campaigning for the 2019 general elections ended on Friday. The Election Commission of India (ECI) had announced the schedule on March 10.

Three states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal — had constituencies scheduled for polling in each of the seven phases in the elections. In addition to these states, Sunday’s polling will include all PCs in the northern states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Three PCs in Jharkhand are also scheduled to vote.

Of the 59 setas where voting will take place, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 33 in the 2014 elections. Its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had won an additional seven seats. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had won just five of these seats.

Varanasi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the BJP’s candidate, will be voting in Sunday’s phase. Gorakhpur, a seat that was held by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath for a long time, and which the BJP lost in a by-poll, will also vote. West Bengal, which has nine PCs voting in the final phase, has seen large-scale poll-related violence in these elections. The ECI cited this as a reason to cut short the campaign period in the state by a day. To be sure, opposition parties have questioned the impartiality of the ECI over the manner in which this decision was taken.

Among the northern states, the BJP is running the government in Himachal Pradesh, while the Congress is in power in Punjab. In Madhya Pradesh, eight PCs in the agriculturally prosperous Malwa region are voting in the last phase. Considered to be a BJP stronghold, it has seen rural unrest and agitations against the previous BJP government in the state.

BIHAR
ArrahRajkumar Singh, BJP
BuxarAshwini Kumar Choubey, BJP
SasaramChhedi Paswan, BJP
KarakatUpendra Kushwaha, RLSP
JahanabadArun Kumar, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party
NalandaKaushalendra Kumar, JD(U)
Patna SahibShatrughan Sinha, BJP (now with Congress)
PatliputraRam Kripal Yadav, BJP
PUNJAB
Amritsar:Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Congress
Anandpur SahibPrem Singh Chandumajra, SAD
BathindaHarsimrat Kaur, SAD
Faridkot (SC)Sadhu Singh, AAP
Fatehgarh Sahib (SC)Harinder Singh Khalsa, AAP
FerozepurSher Singh Ghubaya, SAD
GurdaspurSunil Jakhar, Congress
Hoshiarpur (SC)Vijay Sampla, BJP
Jalandhar (SC)Santokh Singh Chaudhary, Congress
Khadoor SahibRanjit Singh Brahmpura, SAD (SAD-Taksali)
LudhianaRavneet Singh Bittu, Congress
PatialaDharamvira Gandhi, AAP
SangrurBhagwant Mann, AAP
CHANDIGARH
ChandigarhKirron Kher, BJP
HIMACHAL PRADESH
KangraShanta Kumar, BJP
HamirpurAnurag Thakur, BJP
MandiRamswaroop Sharma, BJP
ShimlaVirender Kashyap, BJP
JHARKHAND
GoddaNishikant Dubey, BJP
DumkaShibu Soren, JMM
RajmahalVijay Hansdak, JM

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PM Modi to deliver keynote address at inaugural function of Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2020

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver the keynote address at the inaugural function of Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2020 on 19 October at 7:30 PM via video conferencing.

The Grand Challenges Annual Meeting, for the last 15 years, has fostered international innovation collaborations to address the biggest challenges in health and development.

The Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2020 will convene virtually from 19-21 October, bringing together policymakers and scientific leaders, calling for deepened scientific collaborations in solving global health problems, with great emphasis on COVID-19 with an “India for the World” framing.

World leaders, eminent scientists and researchers from across the globe will join this annual meeting to discuss key priorities for accelerating progress across the Sustainable Development Goals in the post-pandemic world and elaborate on addressing the challenges to manage COVID-19.

The three-day program will feature leaders talks, panel discussions and virtual informal conversations on topics ranging from scientific interventions for fighting the pandemic, managing the pandemic and accelerating the development and implementation of global solutions to combat this pandemic and prevent the next one. Approximately 1600 people from 40 countries will participate in this Annual meeting.

The Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2020 will be co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India, the Indian Council of Medical Research and NITI Aayog, along with the Grand Challenges Canada, the United States Agency for International Development and Wellcome.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences will deliver the opening remarks. Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will present the plenary framing conversation.

Grand Challenges India was set up as a partnership of the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2012, and Wellcome also joined the partnership. Grand Challenges India works across a range of health and developmental priorities ranging from agriculture, nutrition, sanitation, maternal and child health to infectious diseases.

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Possibility of Dawood Ibrahim’s involvement in Kerala gold smuggling case: NIA to court

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In a sensational revelation made by the National Investigating Agency (NIA), the name of most-wanted underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s gang may name surfaced in the Kerala gold smuggling case.

As reported by NDTV, a top cop of the anti-terror agency said that the Intelligence inputs suggest that proceeds from the gold smuggling were used for anti-national and terror activities.

NIA opposed bail for the accused in the case involving smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels.

The probe agency told that court that links to diplomatic channels need to be examined further.

According to the agency, one of the accused, Ramees, had said that he had a diamond business in Tanzania and he sold that gold in the UAE.

The NIA quoted the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee’s narrative summary on Dawood Ibrahim and the fact sheet published by the US Department of Treasury on his gang’s activities in Africa.

In August, the Pakistan government had finally accepted to shelter the fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

India’s most wanted underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim, was blamed for the barbarous bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993.

Pakistan’s admission comes after strict a  financial sanction has been imposed on the country for helping terrorists.

It has released a list of 88 banned terror groups as part of its efforts to wriggle out of tough financial sanctions.

The list names Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim, and Pakistan has said it has imposed tough financial sanctions on the terror groups and their leaders.

Pakistan’s admission came in a list of 88 banned terror groups disclosed as part of its efforts to wriggle out of tough financial sanctions for helping terrorists.

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China ‘warns’ US after its warship sails through Taiwan Strait

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A US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait in what the American military described as a “routine” passage Wednesday, but enraging China, which claims sovereignty over the island and surrounding seas.

Ties between Beijing and Washington have deteriorated in recent months, over issues including trade and Hong Kong, with the self-ruled island of Taiwan a long-running source of tension.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry passed through the Strait on October 14, according to a statement by the US Pacific Fleet.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement said.

“The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” it added.

Any US Navy operations in the Taiwan Strait, which separates China from the island, provoke a strong response from Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be an inviolable part of its territory.

In an angry riposte, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said it tracked the USS Barry by sea and air “throughout the entire process.”

“We warn the US to stop its words and deeds that provoke trouble and disturb the situation in the Taiwan Strait,” Eastern Theatre Command spokesman Colonel Zhang Chunhui said.

The island has been governed separately since the end of a civil war in China in 1949.

Taiwan has its own flag, currency and military, but it is not recognized as an independent nation by the UN.

Washington ended its diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 in order to improve ties with China, but the US remains the island’s most powerful ally and its main arms supplier.

The Chinese have threatened to use force if Taipei proclaims independence or if there is foreign intervention.

Beijing views the passage of foreign vessels through the Strait as a violation of its sovereignty.

Washington and many other countries, on the other hand, see the waterway as part of international waters and therefore open to all.

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