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Rajasthan CM bats for phased withdrawal of lockdown

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Ashok Gehlot
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New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) A day after Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao made a strong case for the continuation of the ongoing lockdown, Rajasthan Chief Minister has called for its phased withdrawal.

Calling both lives and livelihood important, Ashok Gehlot said on Tuesday, “After the video conference with PM, I have constituted two task forces as life is important. Another task force to see the lockdown issue which should be exited in a phased manner.”

This balance of life and livelihood has become the central point for all chief ministers, many of whom seem to favour a phased withdrawal of the lockdown.

Contrastingly so, earlier Rao advocated for the extension of the current shutdown saying, “The Centre and all other state governments have lost revenue during the lockdown period. The only positive outcome of this is that we are able to protect our people”.

The Centre on Tuesday also held a meeting of group of ministers at Rajnath Singh’s residence which has not taken any decision on ending the lockdown as yet. The biggest question in front of the government is weighing in two options — loss of livelihood versus loss of life.

However, any decision in this regard will come after PM Modi’s interaction with floor leaders and chief Mmnisters where a common exit plan is to be discussed.

India is under a 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus that has so far infected more than 4400 in India and killed at least 114 people.

India

India walks out of UN General Assembly as Imran begins attack

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Imran Khan at UNGA

United Nations, Sep 25 : The Indian delegate at the UN General Assembly Session on Friday walked out when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan began his diatribe in his speech.

First Secretary Mijito Vinito, who was at the second seat on the first row of the Assembly chamber, got up and left as Khan began his attack on India by focusing on the RSS before bringing up Kashmir.

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CPM cadres protest farm bills across Andhra Pradesh

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CPIM Worker Protest Farm

Amaravati, Sep 25 : Thousand of Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) workers in Andhra Pradesh are protesting the new farm bills which the Parliament cleared recently, accusing them of being anti-farmer and in favour of business corporations.

“The farm bills will cause great injustice to farmers. Though many political parties opposed their passage, the government still passed them forcibly,” senior AP Communist Party leader Gorla Ramakrishna told IANS.

He said that earlier when people used to hoard agriculture products to manipulate market prices, the government used to raid such hoarders to bring order and protect the farmers.

However, he said these farm bills will create massive asymmetry, pitting ordinary farmers against corporate giants armed with the wherewithal, cold storage, transportation facilities and others to literally rule the market.

The Left leader said that a farmer always strives to sell his produce and repay the debts he has incurred while cultivating the crops.

“A farmer does not have infrastructure to even store his produce for even 10 days. He will be in a hurry to repay his debts. With these new bills, all the powers will now go into the hands of middlemen and corporates,” said Ramakrishna.

He said the corporates can easily move massive amounts of farm produce from state to state to cash in on market uncertainties.

“A real farmer will not benefit with these bills. Not only a farmer, even a buyer will suffer as the middlemen and corporates will create artificial shortage of farm produce to make a killing,” the CPM leader observed.

Importantly, Ramakrishna alleged that middlemen and other market forces who used to stealthily hoard farm produce until now which do it legitimately with these bills allowing them.

“Before the introduction of these bills, hoarders used to illegally store farm produce with fear which will now get legitimised. Now all the people with financial muscle will do it deliberately. Ordinary farmers and buyers will be the losers,” he lamented.

The senior leader said CPM started resisting these bills right from the time they were proposed.

Farm bills aside, Ramakrishna has also expressed his displeasure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policies which according to him are benefiting the rich corporates and cronies.

“Especially during the Coronavirus time, we have seen how a person rose up in the billionaire rankings. What does it show? See how the fuel prices have increased. It is our anguish that this government is not caring for the farmers and the common man,” he said.

He disapproved of the farm bills, saying that corporate companies, foreign entities and others will take advantage of the privileges they accord them.

He said the country will have to contend with corporate farming in the future when small farmers will be forced to give up their profession for large corporates to emerge and carry out corporate farming.

“Nowadays labourers are increasing. There is no truth in the claims made by some people that labourers are not available. What will happen to the farmer who gives up agriculture? He is becoming a labourer,” he said.

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Javed Akhtar takes a dig at news channels for ignoring farmers’ protests: ‘If Karan Johar had invited some farmers to his party…’

Javed Akhtar took a dig at news channels and sarcastically remarked that if Karan Johar had invited farmers to his party, they would not have to choose between covering Bollywood and the farmers’ protests.

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Javed-Akhtar

Javed Akhtar took a dig at news channels prioritising Bollywood’s alleged drug links over the farmers’ protests in their coverage. The lyricist sarcastically remarked that if Karan Johar had invited farmers to his party, ‘life would have been easier’ for the channels, as they would not have to choose between Bollywood and the farmers’ protests.

“If Karan johar had invited some farmers too for his party life would have been easier for our TV channels.They would not have had to choose between farmers protest and Karan’s party!. it seems that Karan’s do is the second most favourite PARTY of our channels,” he wrote.

On Friday, more than 200 farmers’ groups across the country blocked roads and organised rallies in protest against three controversial farm bills passed in the monsoon session of the Parliament. The farmers worry that the new laws could potentially dismantle the current Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and leave them vulnerable to exploitation by agribusinesses.

Meanwhile, a video taken at one of Karan’s house parties last year has been under fresh scrutiny amid an investigation into Bollywood’s alleged drug links. Politician Manjinder Singh Sirsa renewed his claims that it was a ‘drug party’ and filed a complaint with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) earlier this month.

The video featured a number of prominent Bollywood personalities, including Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Vicky Kaushal, Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora, Shahid Kapoor, and filmmakers Zoya Akhtar and Ayan Mukerji. However, none of them were seen consuming drugs in the clip.

The NCB found evidence of a potential drug racket in Bollywood, while investigating the drugs angle in Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. His girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, was arrested earlier this month on charges of procuring drugs. She has been remanded to judicial custody till October 6.

Names of several Bollywood celebrities have come up in the investigation. The NCB has issued summons to Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Rakul Preet Singh and Shraddha Kapoor. Reports suggest that 39 more Bollywood celebrities are under the scanner.

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