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Congress ex-MLA joins BJP, ex-minister Walia threatens to quit

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New Delhi, April 3 : Former Delhi legislator Amrish Gautam on Monday quit the Congress and joined the BJP, while former Congress Minister A.K. Walia threatened to quit over distribution of party tickets for the April 23 civic polls in Delhi.

While AICC spokesperson Manish Tewari refused to comment on matters related to civic polls, senior Delhi Congress leader and former Delhi assembly Speaker Subhash Chopra admitted to “some resentment”, but said “true Congressmen will not desert the party”.

Chopra also said Walia did not threaten to quit and that words were put in his mouth.

Former Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely and former Minister Haroon Yusuf also expressed concern over functioning of Delhi Congress headed by former Union Minister Ajay Maken.

Gautam, a three-time legislaor from Kondli in east Delhi, accused the Congress of not consulting him on candidates. His son Avinash Gautam too joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“We were feeling cornered. Nobody was willing to listen to our concerns. My self-respect was hurt by senior party leaders like Anand Sharma, P.C. Chacko and Ajay Maken,” Amrish Gautam told IANS after joining the BJP.

The Congress had formed a committee headed by Sharma to select candidates for elections to Delhi’s three municipal corporations. Chacko is in charge of the Congress affairs in Delhi.

“I requested Maken many times to respect the workers’ sentiments and to take decisions in the interest of the Congress and its workers. But he ignored me,” Gautam told reporters.

“I quit because my area and supporters were ignored. I felt neglected.”

Senior Delhi Congress leader Walia too threatened to resign. “I am deeply pained… we keep trying their (leaders) phone numbers for two-three days but there is no reply.”

He told media persons: “Today (Monday) was the final day (of filing nominations) and things have not been finalised yet. If they think they don’t need us, they should tell us. Earlier, such things never happened in our party.”

Walia said he had conveyed his anguish to the Congress high command.

Walia, a legislator from Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi for four consecutive terms, remained a minister in the Sheila Dikshit government.

Lovely said: “It is very unfortunate that Amrish Gautam left the Congress while senior leader like Walia has threatened to quit. We need to respect senior leaders. If Walia leaves the Congress, it will be a major setback.”

He said the party high command needs to address the issues.

Yusuf said: “I will also raise my concerns with the party high command. Whatever I feel, I’ll speak on the party fora.”

“The local Congress leadership, including me, was ignored during ticket distribution. However, Walia ji can never go against the party,” he added.

All India Congress Committee spokesperson Manish Tewari said: “It is an issue concerning the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee. We do not deal with corporation elections from this podium. All queries on MC elections should be addressed to the DPCC.”

Senior Delhi Congress leader Subhash Chopra said: “There is some resentment, which is natural. Those who did not get tickets, or senior leaders whose candidates were not given tickets, are bound to feel somewhat unhappy. But that does not mean they are quitting.”

He said Walia did not speak even once of quitting the Congress. “I have spoken to him just now and he said he did not say anything about quitting,” the Congress leader said.

Chopra said Amrish Gautam quit as his son was not given a Congress ticket.

“A candidate’s winnability and workers’ choice were the criteria (for giving tickets). As many as 39,000 Congress workers were contacted over phone before making the final choice,” he said.

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DMK to hold black flag protest against farm laws on Saturday

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Mk Stalin

Chennai, Dec 4 : DMK President M.K. Stalin on Friday said that his party will hold a black flag protest against the three farm laws passed by the Central government.

In a letter to party members, he said the protest will be held in solidarity with the farmers protesting against the laws in Delhi.

Stalin said party leaders will hold the black flag protest in all the district headquarters following the Covid-19 safety precautions.

Reacting to the DMK’s protest, Tamil Nadu BJP’s agriculture wing head G.K. Nagaraj said Stalin, who is supporting the protesting middlemen in Delhi, should tell what he has done for the welfare of the farmers.

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Bengal government to provide tabs to 9.5 lakh students to facilitate online education

There are around 36,000 government and government-aided secondary schools, around 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasahs in the state.

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Mamata Banerjee

The state government will provide tabs to around 9.5 lakh students in government schools and government aided schools, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday.

“Because of the pandemic students are suffering. We will provide tabs to 9.5 lakh students studying in class 12 in government schools, government-aided schools and madrasahs. Computers would also be also provided to every secondary school to facilitate online education during pandemic,” Banerjee said at the state secretariat.

There are around 36,000 government and government-aided secondary schools, around 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasahs in the state.

“Many students are not being able to follow the online classes. The tabs would help the students even when they are pursuing their graduation,” said Banerjee.

With an eye on the crucial 2021 Bengal assembly elections, the chief minister also announced 3% dearness allowance for 10 lakh state government employees from January 1, 2021. This would cost the state exchequer Rs 2200 crore.

Speaking in another program during the day Banerjee said that Information Technology (IT) firms in West Bengal have registered 133% growth in the last eight years and IT exports have gone up by 175%.

“Many more investments are coming. On December 1, we cleared 20 proposals of setting up IT offices at Bengal Silicon Valley Hub with a proposed investment of Rs 3000 crore. They would directly employ 9000 IT professionals,” Banerjee said at a program

At present over 1500 IT companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant and IBM among others, have their offices in West Bengal. The state has around 2.1 lakh IT professionals.

The chief minister while listing out a series of expansion plans of some of the top IT firms in the state said that while Nxtra Data of Bharti Airtel has come up with a proposal of Rs 350 crores, Wipro has an expansion plan worth Rs 500 crores in the state.

“Tata Consultancy Services is expected to increase their employment from the present 44,000 to around 61,000. Very soon their operation in West Bengal would be larger than their Bengaluru operation,” she said.

The chief minister added that while Cognizant Technology Solutions is also expected to expand further, ITC Infotech has almost completed their project in New Town and will employ around 3000 IT professionals there.

IT services giant Infosys will start construction of a proposed software development centre in the state by July 2021. They have been allotted 50 acres of land.

“Our youth will not have to roam in other states and across the world looking for jobs. They can work here,” Banerjee said.

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Farmers try to force their way into Delhi at Ghazipur border, stopped

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Delhi UP Ghazipur Border

New Delhi: Agitated farmers on Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border near Ghazipur on Thursday failed in their attempt to enter the national capital by breaking the barricades after the police pacified the situation.

“If a decision is not taken in 24 hours, we will break all the barricades at different locations and enter Delhi,” Pawan Khatana, Bharat Kisan Union’s Delhi-NCR President, told IANS after attempting to break the barricades.

Thousands of farmers protesting against the Central farm laws have laid siege at Ghazipur border and on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway in a bid to enter the national capital. The crowd swelled after around 100 tractors reached the protest site at noon.

The border points in the area continue to remain under heavy police cover with multilayered barricades in place.

In the morning, when the farmers had blocked the expressway, Gayendra Singh, SP (City), Ghaziabad, had said that the police were hopeful that the blockade will end soon on the key road leading to Delhi.

All eyes are now on the ongoing fourth round of talks between the farmers’ unions and the Centre. The third round talks had failed to break the deadlock on Tuesday.

The farmers have been sitting on protest for the last eight days at Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders. Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu border, while several other groups have blocked entry at the Delhi-Haryana border in Tikri, the Delhi-UP border in Ghazipur and the Delhi-UP border in Chilla.

The farmers are demanding that the three farm laws passed by the Parliament in September be repealed, expressing apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the mercy of the big corporates.

The government has, however, maintained that the laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of “misleading” the farmers.

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