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Wayanad

Rahul urges Modi to install early warning system

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Following several deaths due to floods and landslides in many parts of Kerala, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to install early warning systems in the vulnerable areas.
 
Gandhi, on a visit to his parliamentary constituency since Sunday, said in his letter, "Wayanad has some of the most fragile parts of the Western Ghats and is home to 10 per cent of the biodiversity of the country."
 
The Congress leader said, in the past two days he had visited two major landslide sites -- Kavalapara in Malappuram and Puthumala in Wayanad districts -- where many people had lost lives, livelihoods and property.
 
"In this context, may I suggest the measure of installing early warning system for your consideration. Many lives can be saved if early warning systems are installed in vulnerable areas and specially-designed landslide/flood shelters with communication facilities be provided in such places," Gandhi wrote.
 
He also advocated a long-term strategy and action plan, supported through a special package of assistance, to protect life and livelihoods.
 
Stating that agriculture and animal husbandry are the mainstays of the people in Wayanad, he said, "Paddy cultivation that also sustained wetlands and has the capacity to hold excess rainwater and mitigate flood damage, has been on decline since 1970s. Large number of farmers have committed suicide in the last two decades due to the farm sector crisis." 
 
Destruction of forests and depletion of inflow into streams and rivers endangered farms and people in three states -- Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, he said. Mining and quarrying continued in the Western Ghats, he added.
 
"The depletion of the forests is rapidly increasing man-animal conflicts within and in the periphery of forests," he said.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul promises Kerala all help to rebuild after floods

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Rahul Gandhi, the Congress MP from Wayanad, has assured all help to the people of his flood-hit constituency rebuild their lives.
 
"We are all with you in this hour of crisis and I call upon not just Congress workers, but all the people to work to ease the suffering of the people. You don't have to worry about your future as we will help you rebuild your lives," said Gandhi while addressing a relief camp at Thiruvampady here on Monday.
 
"Today is Eid and though I know that the people are distressed, I take this opportunity to wish all of you 'Eid Mubarak'. We will use the spirit of Eid to help the people who are suffering," said Gandhi.
 
He also told the gathering that he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday seeking help for flood-hit Kerala.
 
Incessant rain and the consequent floods have caused widespread damage in Kerala. The flood fury has left 77 dead and displaced over 2.87 lakh people, who have taken shelter in over 1,654 relief shelters set up across the state.
 
The maximum deaths -- 18 -- have been reported from Wayanad, an area spread over three districts -- Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram. 
 
Rahul Gandhi arrived in the constituency on Sunday, and has been visiting relief camps here since Monday morning. He has so far visited camps at Nilambur in Malappuram district, Thiruvampady in Kozhikode district, Meppadi in Wayanad, besides attending review meetings called by the District Collectors of Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad.
 
Gandhi also visited relief camps at Kavalapara, where a mudslide on Friday wiped out an entire village. Over 50 people are still feared trapped under the debris. 
 
At the camps, he interacted with the people, asked them about their loss and the things they need. At Meppadi, he spoke to a young girl, with Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala playing the translator between them.
 
In all his interactions, Gandhi has assured all help to the flood-victims in rebuilding their lives. His next visits are to the camps in Munderi and Panamaram. 
 
"Tomorrow, Rahul Gandhi will take stock of the situation in Kannur from where he will return to Delhi," said a staff attached to Chennithala, who is accompanying the former Congress president.
 
"People have told me that they have nowhere to go as their homes have been damaged fully or partially. I have spoken to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Prime Minister and have told them that the affected people here must be compensated as soon as possible. I am also working on a report on the flood situation," Gandhi told the media.
 
Though there was no rain on Monday, the Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted more showers over the next three days.
 
"Starting tomorrow, rains will be heavy in Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Idukki till Wednesday, while on Thursday it's going to be isolated rains," said an IMD official, here.
 
Like in the past few days, Monday also saw some long-distance trains cancelled. A few trains, which were cancelled earlier, have started running.
 
According to preliminary estimates given by State Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar, more than 18,000 hectares of crop has been lost affecting about 81,000 farmers and resulting in a total estimated loss of more than Rs 800 crore. 
 
IANS
 

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Rahul arrives to visit his flood-ravaged Wayanad constituency

Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi
Wayanad Lok Sabha member and former Congress President Rahul Gandhi arrived here on Sunday afternoon for a tour of his constituency, Wayanad, which has been badly hit by rains and floodwaters.
 
Wayanad has been the worst-hit in Kerala and, so far, more than 40,000 people have taken shelter in more than 203 camps, with 18 deaths being reported.
 
According to his plans, Rahul Gandhi will be visiting relief camps in his constituency and the first stop would be in Malappuram district from where he will return to the state-owned guest house here.
 
The vehicle carrying him has been filled with relief material which are to be distributed to the camp inmates.
 
State Congress President Mulappally Ramachandran, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and local leaders are accompanying him on his visit.
 
On Monday, Rahul Gandhi will visit Wayanad district and interact with relief camp inmates. He will return, thereafter, from here on Monday evening.
 
IANS

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Rahul postpones Wayanad visit over floods in Kerala

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the grim flood situation in the state and said that he has postponed his visit to his parliamentary constituency of Wayanad as the flood relief work would be affected.
 
In a series of tweets, the Congress leader said, "The people of Wayanad, my Lok Sabha constituency, are in my thoughts and prayers as they battle raging floodwaters. I was to travel to Wayanad, but I've now been advised by officials that my presence will disrupt relief operations. I'm awaiting their OK to travel."
 
"Earlier today I spoke to the Kerala Chief Minister, P. Vijayan, drawing his attention to the serious flood situation in Wayanad. I've also spoken to the collectors of Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram to review relief measures being undertaken," he said.
 
The Congress leader urged party workers and leaders, citizens and NGOs working in Kerala to help with relief operations in flood-hit areas of Wayanad.
 
"I hope the state government will release a generous financial rehabilitation package to help those who have been impacted by the floods," he added.
 
His remarks came after the flood situation in most parts of the state turned grim. Eight people, including a one-year-old child, were killed and over 3,000 evacuated to over 60 relief camps after rains battered several parts of Kerala, officials said here on Thursday.
 
IANS
 

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8 killed, over 3,000 evacuated as rains batter Kerala

A view of a flood-hit area of Nilambur in Kerala on August 8, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A view of a flood-hit area of Nilambur in Kerala on August 8, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Eight people, including a one-year-old child, were killed and over 3,000 evacuated to over 60 relief camps after rains battered several parts of Kerala, officials said here on Thursday.
 
State Revenue Minister E. Chandrashekeran said Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad, Kasargode and Idukki districts were the worst affected areas.
 
"Three NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) teams have been deployed in Malappuram, Wayanad and Idukki. We have requested 10 more teams," he said.
 
Meanwhile, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy rains in the state till August 14. Red alerts have been issued in Idukki, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kozhikode districts.
 
In the morning, a 50-year-old woman died after a tree fell over her house at Attapady in the Palakkad district. A 24-year-old woman died after her house at Panamaram village in the Wayanad district got flooded. 
 
Residents of the Wayanad district said such heavy rains had never been witnessed, even during last year's floods.
 
Over 700 people were evacuated in the Nilambur area of the Malappuram district. A. P. Sunil, a police officer, said some people had refused to leave their houses. "If they don't shift on their own, they will be forced to leave," he said.
 
Kozhikode District Collector Sambhasiva Rao said the situation was under control. "If people cooperate, rescue becomes easy. But we are ready for any eventualities," said Rao.
 
Barring the state capital district and neighbouring Kollam, the remaining 12 districts have been affected by rains.
 
Fishermen have been asked not to venture out into the sea because winds were blowing at 40-50 km per hour.
 
University examinations in all the affected districts have been postponed.
 
IANS
 

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Rare reunion: Rahul meets Rajamma, his delivery nurse

Congress President Rahul Gandhi hugging Rajamma, who was his delivery nurse at a hospital in Delhi way back in 1970, in Wayanad, Kerala on June 9, 2019
Congress President Rahul Gandhi hugging Rajamma, who was his delivery nurse at a hospital in Delhi way back in 1970, in Wayanad, Kerala on June 9, 2019
It was a reunion after a gap of almost 49 years when Congress President Rahul Gandhi hugged Rajamma, who was his delivery nurse at a hospital in Delhi way back in 1970.
 
Rajamma told Gandhi it was neither Rajiv Gandhi nor Sonia Gandhi, but she who first cuddled him. Hearing this Gandhi hugged her again.
 
Rajamma met Gandhi on Sunday at the place where the Congress President had put up for the night in Wayanad. The moment was captured and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala posted the picture on Facebook.
 
Chennithala is accompanying Gandhi in his constituency on the roadshows which entered the third day on Sunday.
 
The Facebook post said Rajamma was a nurse at the Holy Cross hospital in Delhi where Gandhi was born.
 
Rajamma after her retirement, is now settled in Gandhi's constituency and had expressed her desire to various Congress leaders that she would like to meet him. That became a reality on Sunday.
 
IANS
 

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Modi won Lok Sabha polls by lying: Rahul

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi said here on Saturday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the Lok Sabha elections by telling lies.
 
"Modi won the election by telling lies and spreading hatred. But we will deal with him with truth, love and affection," Gandhi said while addressing a rally here in his parliamentary constituency of Wayanad, which he won with the highest ever margin recorded in Kerala.
 
He began his constituency tour by visiting the Wayanad Lok Sabha member's office at the Collectorate office where he spoke to several people.
 
"My doors are open to all the people in Wayanad and it's my responsibility to solve the issues of the people here," he told the people.
 
Gandhi was seen interacting with the people who came to see his road show at Kalpetta.
 
He arrived in Wayanad on Friday to thank the electorate. Gandhi will hold two more road shows on Saturday.
 
The Congress President is being accompanied by state party President Mullapally Ramachandran, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and AICC General Secretary (Organisational) K.C. Venugopal.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul writes to Kerala CM on farmer who committed suicide

File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
A week ahead of his visit to Wayanad in Kerala, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday requested Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to provide financial assistance to the family of a farmer who committed suicide allegedly due to non-repayment of loans.
 
The Congress chief, who won from Wayanad Lok Sabha seat, also asked the state government to conduct an inquiry into the incident.
 
In his letter to Vijayan dated May 28, Gandhi said, "I am deeply saddened by the suicide of V. D. Dinesh Kumar, a farmer in Neervaram, Panamaran panchayat in Wayanad."
 
The Congress leader said that after speaking to Kumar's wife, "I learnt that her husband had been under severe stress due to his inability to repay the loans he had taken and this pushed him to commit suicide".
 
According to Kerala Police, Kumar died after consuming some poisonous substance.
 
"Kumar's case isn't an isolated one. There has been a spate of farmer suicides in Wayanad," Gandhi said." What is disturbing is that while the government of Kerala has announced a moratorium on repayment of farm loans till December 31, 2019, yet farmers are still being pressured and hounded by loan collection agents," the letter said.
 
The Congress leader in his letter said that he was "writing to request him to order an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death and to extend financial support to his family".
 
The Congress chief said it was important to consider "long-term measures" to free farmers from the "vicious debt trap" given the devastating impact of the last year's floods.
 
"I offer you my fullest support and cooperation in finding concrete long-term solutions to the critical issues Kerala's farmers are faced with and in ensuring every farmer in Kerala lives a life of dignity," Gandhi said.
 
Gandhi, who contested on two seats in this election, won from Wayanad with a record margin of 431,770 votes. The Congress chief defeated his rival P.P. Suneer of the Communist Party of India who secured 274,597 votes. Rahul Gandhi received 706,367 votes.
 
Gandhi will visit Wayanad on June 7 and 8 to thank the voters.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul wins Wayanad in Kerala with record margin

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi won from Kerala's Wayanad constituency -- the second Lok Sabha seat he contested in the 2019 polls -- with a record margin of 431,770 votes.
 
Gandhi defeated his nearest rival P. P. Suneer of the Communist Party of India who secured 274,597 votes, while Gandhi got 706,367 votes.
 
This margin of victory is the highest in the state for any Lok Sabha constituency.
 
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who was the first person to announce the candidature of Gandhi expressed happiness at the huge victory .
 
"This result was a foregone conclusion , as right from the day his name was announced, we could sense that the people in Wayanad had accepted him. His visits to the constituency... first when he came to file his nomination and then for a day's campaign, really made every Congress worker excited," said Chandy.
 
"His presence as a candidate boosted the confidence of all the candidates and that's one reason, why we could register such a huge victory in Kerala," added Chandy.
 
In the 2014 polls, Congress candidate M. I. Shanawas won the seat with a margin of 20,970 votes. He passed away last year and since then the seat was lying vacant.
 
Gandhi, however, lost his traditional Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh, to Union Minister Smriti Irani, by over 50,000 votes.
 
IANS
 

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Modi regime didn't keep promises, says Priyanka in Wayanad

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday hit out at the Narendra Modi government for making false promises to people and ignoring the country's farmers.
 
Campaigning in Wayanad for her brother, Congress President Rahul Gandhi who is also contesting the Kerala seat in addition to his traditional Amethi constituency, she told a gathering that the Modi government has ditched the farmers but the Congress-led UPA government, if it comes to power, will take care of all their needs.
 
"In the five years, Modi has divided the country. He takes care of the rich and the mighty but ignores the needs of the huge farmer community in the country. 
 
"The BJP said they will double the income of the farmers and would deposit Rs 15 lakh into the bank account of every person, but for Rahul Gandhi, justice and truth matters," she said in Mananthavady, where she arrived in a helicopter after landing at Kannur airport.
 
She later met the family members of CRPF trooper Vasanth Kumar who was killed in the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
 
From there, Vadra went to Pulpally where a mammoth gathering was waiting for hours to see her.
 
"The Modi government has dashed the hopes of the farmers and has taken on the people who fought for their rights. The Congress will empower all of you and will never create any difficulty for you all," she said at her public meet there.
 
After winding up her day, she will rest at a resort at Vythiri near here, and will leave Kerala on Sunday.
 
This is Vadra's second visit to Wayanad. On April 4, she accompanied Rahul Gandhi when he filed his nomination papers.
 
Union Minister Smriti Irani, who is contesting against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, was also supposed to reach Wayanad on Saturday to campaign for NDA constituent Bharat Dharma Jana Sena Chairman and Wayanad candidate Tushar Vellapally but her trip was postponed for Sunday.
 
Apart from Vellapally, Rahul Gandhi is also facing P. P. Suneer of the Communist Party of India, who is the candidate of the ruling Left Democratic Front. State CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, also campaigned here on Saturday.
 
The state will vote on April 23 to elect its 20 Lok Sabha members.
 
IANS
 

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Congress' Wayanad message is appeasement: Modi

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Slamming Congress President Rahul Gandhi for contesting from Wayanad in Kerala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out that the only message that's being sent out is appeasement politics.
 
Modi arrived in the state capital on Thursday night to campaign for the NDA candidates contesting in Kerala.
 
Taking on Gandhi, Modi said what's happening now is not politics, it's only self-interest and opportunistic politics.
 
"The Congress says there is a message behind his (Rahul Gandhi) choosing to contest from Wayanad. But the message could have been sent if the contest was from Thiruvanathapuram. If not, the contest could have taken place in Pathanamthitta (where Sabarimala temple is located). Had it happened, an even bigger message could have been sent out," said Modi.
 
Modi assured the gathering that when votes are counted on May 23 and the new government assumes office, the faith, culture and traditions will be protected through democratic means.
 
"The BJP stand is very clear while the Congress is playing a double game. They say one thing in Delhi and another in Kerala. The CPI-M has no belief in faith, culture or tradition. What they have done here is to register false cases against those who protested to protect the culture and tradition. As long as I am the 'chowkidar', I will not allow these to be destroyed ," said Modi.
 
He also took on the Pinarayi Vijayan government and pointed out that it's a corrupt one.
 
"Even the Chief Minister is caught in the midst of the Lavalin case and so are other ministers. It has now come out that the floods that hit the state were manmade. Even the compensation for those affected has been diverted. Such a government cannot remain in office any more," said Modi.
 
He also reminded the people that his government in the past five years has put country on the fast track of development, be it in land, sea, air or space.
 
"The 'chowkidar' of the country has empowered the scientists of the country who have come out with technology which will ensure the country's protection. The Congress never had the courage to take such decisions and when it came to hounding scientists, they did that. Your own scientist Nambi Narayanan was a victim of the Congress party," said Modi.
 
He pointed out that the elections are not meant for just putting up a new government.
 
"This election will determine the aspiration of building a new India. It's whether India should pave the way forward or it should follow others," said Modi.
 
Modi said for a strong government which will protect the country, a 'chowkidar' is needed and for that, all should vote for the NDA.
 
Modi arrived almost two hours late and left after his speech.
 
The BJP does not have a single Lok Sabha member from Kerala. It is expecting to open its account this time: It has high hopes from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, where the party has fielded former Mizoram governor Kummanem Rajasekheran.
 
He is pitted against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor who is aiming for a hat-trick of wins. Also in the fray is senior CPI legislator C. Divakaran.
 
In 2014, BJP candidate O. Rajagopal finished a close second, while in all the remaining 19 constituencies , the NDA candidates finished a distant third.
 
IANS

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Seeking a 'forever' relation with Wayanad, says Rahul

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Reaching out to the people in Kerala's Wayanad, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday assured that them he will be with them forever.
 
In his first visit to the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency after April 4, when he came along with his sister Priyanka Gandhi to file his nomination, he earlier made a quick visit to the famed temple of Lord Vishnu at Thiruneli where he performed "beli tharpanam" in memory of his father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
 
Gandhi had on his previous visit to Kerala expressed his wish to visit the temple and perform the puja, but the Special Protection Group (SPG) did not allow it due to security reasons, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.
 
Dressed in white dhoti and wearing an angavastra, Gandhi walked to the temple from the Devasom Guest House in Thiruneli.
 
He took note of every detail told to him by the temple priests and then prayed to the deity. He, along with the priests, later walked some 700 metres to the spot where his father's ashes were immersed on May 30, 1991.
 
The Congress President then addressed three political rallies soliciting votes for himself and for United Democratic Front candidates.
 
"I stand here not as a politician, but as a son, brother and a friend. I decided to contest from here so as to project that south India is as important as other places. I seek a relationship with Wayanad that will be there forever," said Gandhi to a huge round of applause at Sultan Battery.
 
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"I have come to know all the problems that you are facing here and I am not like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will never give you a false promise. I wish to thank everyone here who gave me a chance to contest from here," he added.
 
In between, he met the 25-year-old Sreedhanya Suresh, who earlier this month, became the first person from the Scheduled Tribe community in the state to have cleared the Civil Services examination and secured 410th rank.
 
At Wandoor, despite heavy rains, a huge crowd had gathered to hear him.
 
Some people had a heated argument with the security officials, but the moment Gandhi arrived and started to speak, all became calm.
 
After his rally, Gandhi left from the Kozhikode airport and it would now be the turn of Priyanka Gandhi to arrive for a brief visit to round off the campaign.
 
In Wayanad, from where he is contesting along with his traditional seat, Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress chief faces the Communist Party of India's P. P. Suneer, who is the candidate of the ruling Left Democratic Front and Bharath Dharma Jana Sena Chairperson Tushar Vellapally, who is the National Democratic Alliance candidate.
 
Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency came into being in 2009 and it was won by senior Congress leader M. I. Shanawaz in the elections since then, but he passed away last year.
 
While he won his first election by a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes - the state's highest margin of victory in 2009, in 2014, his majority fell to around 20,000 votes.
 
The top brass of the state Congress is leaving nothing to chance and is determined to give their President a record margin of victory.
 
Elections to Wayanad will be held along with the state's other 19 seats in the third phase of the Lok Sabha polls on April 23.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul performs 'beli tharpanam' for father in Kerala

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday performed "beli tharpanam" in memory of his father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, at a Thiruneli temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
 
Gandhi had on his previous visit to Kerala expressed a wish to perform the "puja" and visit the temple, but the Special Protection Group (SPG) did not allow it due to security reasons, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.
 
Dressed in white dhoti and wearing an angavastra, Gandhi earlier in the day walked to the temple from the Devasom Guest house.
 
He took note of every detail told to him by the temple priests and then prayed to the deity. He along with the priests later walked some 700 metres to the spot where his father's ashes were immersed on May 30, 1991.
 
The former Prime Minister was killed in a bomb blast by the LTTE in Sriperumbudur during a late evening election rally on May 21, 1991, in the Tamil Nadu town near Chennai.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul to be on two-day whirlwind campaign in Kerala

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who arrives here on Monday night, will campaign across the state for two days, where he will also cover his constituency -- Wayanad -- on Wednesday.
 
Kerala goes to the polls on April 23 to elect 20 Lok Sabha members.
 
Releasing details of Gandhi's tour programme, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee on Friday said he will arrive here on the night of April 15.
 
The following morning, he travels to Pathanapuram in Kollam district to address a party rally in the constituency where Kodikunnil Suresh, a former Union Minister and the sitting member from the Mavelikera Lok Sabha constituency, is seeking re-election.
 
At 11.30 a.m. on Tuesday, Gandhi is scheduled to reach Pathanamthitta district -- where the famed Sabarimala temple is located -- to campaign for Anto Antony, who is seeking a hat-trick of victories from the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha constituency.
 
At 4 p.m., he will arrive in Alappuzha to campaign for Shanimol Usman, a former Mahila Congress Chairperson, from where he returns to the state capital to solicit votes for party candidate Shashi Tharoor.
 
Gandhi travels thereafter to Kannur in north Kerala, and the following day he will reach his constituency Wayanad.
 
His election campaign programme in Kerala concludes with a road show on Wednesday.
 
Of the total representation from Kerala in the outgoing Lok Sabha, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has 12 seats, while the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has eight. 
 
IANS
 

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Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Wayanad, thousands cheer him

Thousands of people gave a rousing welcome to Congress President Rahul Gandhi who filed his Lok Sabha nomination from Wayanad in Kerala on Thursday morning.
Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi
Thousands of people gave a rousing welcome to Congress President Rahul Gandhi who filed his Lok Sabha nomination from Wayanad in Kerala on Thursday morning.
 
Arriving in a helicopter from Kozhikode, Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra drove to the Wayanad Collector's office some 500 meters away, all the time cheered by people packing both sides of the road.
 
Amid tight security, only a few persons were allowed to go in with them.
 
The Gandhis later boarded an open jeep for a road show in Wayanad, one of the economically backward regions of Kerala, accompanied by Congress General Secretary Oommen Chandy.
 
Police personnel found it tough to handle the surging crowds. The situation became more difficult whenever Rahul Gandhi shook hands with supporters.
 
Rahul Gandhi will be contesting from both Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, his traditional Lok Sabha constituency, as well as Wayanad.
 
Kerala goes to the polls on April 23 to elect 20 MPs.
 
At one time, there were heated exchanges between Congress leaders and Special Protection Group (SPG) officials after the latter insisted that the proposed road show might not happen due to security concerns.
 
But in the end the Congress leadership won the tussle.
 
The crowds were delirious. 
 
"I have seen Indira Gandhi when she came to Kozhikode many years back. Now I am excited that I have seen her grandchildren. I am very happy," beamed a 78-year-old Muslim woman.
 
Another group of Congress activists shouted: "Rahul will win with a massive margin never seen in Kerala."
 
IANS
 

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Rahul Gandhi files nomination from Wayanad

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday filed nominations for his second seat of Wayanad in Kerala.
Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday filed nominations for his second seat of Wayanad in Kerala.
 
Gandhi was accompanied by his sister and party in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
 
He is contesting from Wayanad in addition to his traditional stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. 
 
 
 
 

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Huge crowd greets Rahul, Priyanka at Kozhikode airport

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who arrived here on Wednesday, were greeted by hundreds of UDF supporters, who had been waiting three hours to see them.
 
Gandhi had sprung a surprise when the Congress announced that he will also contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala, apart from the traditional seat of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh that has been home to Gandhi family for long, in these elections.
 
Thursday is the last date for filing of nominations from Wayanad, with polling for all of Kerala's 20 Lok Sabha constituencies to be held on April 23.
 
Senior Congress leaders including Mukul Wasnik, K. C. Venugopal, Oommen Chandy, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and several others turned up at the airport, which was taken over by the police but found it tough to keep the crowd under check.
 
Rahul Gandhi spent some time at the VIP lounge with the leaders and he came out of the lounge and waved at the supporters before leaving through the VIP gate.
 
Reacting to the tumultuous response of the workers, Congress veteran Aryadan Mohammed told the media that in his long political career, he has contested 12 times but never seen such a response as what was witnessed at the Congress President's visit.
 
"He is going to win with a record margin, you just wait and see," said Mohammed.
 
"The UDF workers are on a high and it's going to be Gandhi wave, not just in Kerala, but in South India," said Chennithala.
 
From the airport, the Gandhis drove to Kozhikode to spend the night.
 
Around 9 a.m. on Thursday, both of them are expected to take a helicopter to Wayanad, even as Gandhi has expressed his desire to take the road route, but this was opposed by the SPG.
 
A final decision would be taken on Thursday morning, as according to present plans, he is expected to file the nomination papers before 12 noon.
 
IANS
 
 

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Congress seeks Modi's apology for remarks on Rahul

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The Congress party on Monday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's apology for his remarks over party chief Rahul Gandhi choosing to contest also from Wayanad in Kerala apparently because the Congress is "scared" that Hindus will punish them for "Hindu terror" remarks and therefore running away to minority-dominated seat.
 
Talking to reporters here, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also sought action against him by the Election Commission (EC). 
 
Surjewala said Modi has committed a "corrupt practice" under Section 123 of the Representation of People's Act besides violating the dignity of the office he holds and every other yardstick that is necessary and impeccable in public life. 
 
"He must apologise to the nation. He has insulted the freedom movement, he has insulted entire southern India, he has insulted the composite culture of India, he has insulted the India that is unified by its multiple cultures as also languages, religions, castes and creeds. The Election Commission must take note of this and take action against Narendra Modi," Surjewala said. 
 
He said Modi is frustrated at his imminent defeat in the elections. 
 
"Looking at the imminent defeat, a frustrated and flustered Prime Minister has shed all sense of responsibility of the high office he holds, and broken every constitutional norm and every norm of the public life that a person holding such a high office should uphold by alleging that Rahul Gandhi is contesting Wayanad seat as people of a particular religion live there," Surjewala said.
 
He said Modi must understand that this country thrives on its all encompassing behavior.
 
"Prime Minister must understand that caste, creed, religion, way of life, culture, language, looks and colour of skin are not considerations in our society to differentiate between men and men or women and women. Prime Minister has no sense of history, he has no sense of geography, he also has no knowledge of the struggle of Independence and he does not understand the composite culture of India," he said. 
 
Surjewala said Modi does not know that Wayanad is famous for struggle for freedom against the British by the ruler of Kottayam Royal Dynasty, who not only fought the Britishers but also waged a guerrilla war defeating the British on multiple occasions till he sacrificed himself for India. 
 
"Does he even know that Wayanad is also known for the temple of 'Love-Kush' - the sons of Lord Ram and Sita? Does the Prime Minister even know that in Wayanad, particularly in Vythiri, the glass temple of the Jains is famous? Does the Prime Minister know that Wayanad has a large tribal population of eight different Scheduled Tribes? 
 
"Does the Prime Minister even know that Wayanad has nearly 50 per cent Hindu population besides the population of backwards, Scheduled Tribes, Dalits and of many-many other religions where Christians are about 20-21 per cent and Muslims are about 28 per cent? So, it is an ideal ground of combination of various communities and religions who thrive together and live together," he said. 
 
Modi had said at an election rally at Wardha in Maharashtra that the Congress is running scared that the Hindus will punish them now with the recent court verdict. 
 
He said the Congress lacks courage to stand in Hindu-dominated constituencies and is running around other minority-dominated seats for elections, in an obvious reference to Gandhi's plans to contest from Wayanad in Kerala apart from his traditional seat of Amethi.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala: BJP pits BJDS chief Vellappally against Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad

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The BJP on Monday announced that Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) President Thushar Vellappally would be the NDA candidate against Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Kerala's Wayanad constituency.
 
"I proudly announce Thushar Vellappally, President of Bharat Dharma Jana Sena as NDA candidate from Wayanad. A vibrant and dynamic youth leader, he represents our commitment towards development and social justice. With him, NDA will emerge as Kerala's political alternative," Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah tweeted.
 
The BDJS is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance in Kerala and Vellappally is also the NDA's state convenor.
 
Thanking Shah for giving him the opportunity, Vellappally said in a tweet: "This behind the curtain drama of the left and congress we will expose to our country men. I am with you in this fight to eradicate foreign rule from our motherland."
 
The Congress had on Sunday announced that Gandhi would also contest from Wayanad, apart from his traditional constituency Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, acceding to the demands of party workers in south India.
 
IANS

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CPI-M slams Rahul's Wayanad foray, vows to defeat him

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The CPI-M, the main force in Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Alliance (LDF), on Sunday reacted sharply to the Congress's announcement that party President Rahul Gandhi would contest from the state's Wayanad parliamentary constituency and vowed to defeat him.
 
Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) former chief Prakash Karat said the Congress's decision went against the party's "stated commitment" to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 
 
"In Kerala, it is the LDF, which is the main force that can fight the BJP. And Rahul Gandhi is going to Kerala to fight the LDF, which means we have to take on the United Democratic Front (UDF), of which he will be a candidate.
 
"The UDF consists of not only Congress but Muslim League and other parties which have a dubious reputation. And we shall work to defeat the UDF in all constituencies including Wayanad," he said in a video message.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also said that Gandhi's contesting from Wayanad was not "symbolic".
 
"In Kerala, as we all know, the fight is between the Left and the Congress, with the BJP not in the picture at all. He should have fought against the BJP. Now that he has decided to contest from Wayanad, we, the Left will see to defeat him," he told the media in Thiruvanthapuram.
 
State CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Gandhi's move to Wayanad will ensure a Left victory on all the 20 seats in the state. 
 
"He is coming here because he is not confident of his win in Amethi. And the Left will show Gandhi what our power here is," he said, adding that the Left was confident of repeating its 2004 performance when they won 18 out of the state's 20 seats.
 
The Wayanad seat has been allocated to the Communist Party of India (CPI) and its candidate P.P. Suneer said that he was not alarmed by the stature of his opposing candidate.
 
"The candidate does not matter, as elections are fought on issues. By now I have already completed three rounds of my campaign and I am on a strong footing as the backing that I have is of the Left forces, which has a good chemistry with the electorate in the Wayanad constituency," he said.
 
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Gandhi's contesting from Wayanad was greeted with excitement in Malappuram, the stronghold of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), UDF's second biggest constituent in Kerala - and where three of Wayanad's assembly segments fall in. 
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has given the Wayanad seat to ally Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), however, poked fun at the Congress President's shift to the southern state. 
 
"It's a shame for the Congress chief to run away from Amethi and seek solace in the arms of the IUML, which is strong in Wayanad," said state BJP President P. S. Sreedharan Pillai.
 
Senior Congress leader and former Defence Minister A. K. Antony on Sunday announced Gandhi's decision to contest from Wayanad.
 
Making the announcement in New Delhi, Antony said Gandhi was not keen to contest on a second seat. "But there was a tremendous pressure from the south Indian states, the Congress party as well as from the allies that he should contest."
 
Wayanad became a Lok Sabha constituency in 2009, and M. I. Shanawaz of the Congress won it that year by a margin of 1,53,439 votes. However, his margin dropped to 20,870 in 2014, and last year he passed away after a long illness. The seat has been lying vacant since then.
 
Considered a safe seat for the Congress, there was a scramble between the party's various factions for a ticket to Wayanad and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had even managed to swing it in favour of his close confidante T. Siddique.
 
However, Chandy was the first to speak of the possibility of Gandhi contesting from Wayanad last week. 
 
Wayanad will vote on April 23 and Amethi on May 6. The counting of votes for the country will be held on May 23.
 
IANS

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Rahul Gandhi to contest LS elections from Wayanad in Kerala, too

In a significant move, the Congress on Sunday announced that its president Rahul Gandhi, who has been elected to the Lok Sabha for three consecutive terms from the family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, would contest the coming Parliamentary elections from Wayanad in Kerala, too.
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
In a significant move, the Congress today announced that its president Rahul Gandhi, who has been elected to the Lok Sabha for three consecutive terms from the family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, would contest the coming Parliamentary elections from Wayanad in Kerala, too.
 
The decision was announced by senior Congress leader A. K. Antony, who hails from Kerala, and party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, who said it was taken in order to respect the several requests from Congress workers and allies in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that Gandhi contest from a seat in South India, apart from Amethi.
 
Antony said that the choice of Wayanad constituency, uniquely located at the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, would, in a way, honour the wishes of the party's supporters in all three states.
 
"All of us are together here today to inform you about one of the happiest news," the former Defence Minister said.
 
He said the requests received from the three states had been considered by senior leaders of the party who then advised Gandhi that it would not be correct on his party to ignore such sentiments and that he must accept the demands.
 
"Finally, he has given his consent. I am happy to inform you that Rahulji will contest from Wayanad in Kerala also," he said.
 
Surjewala said Gandhi had always stressed that Amethi is his "karmabhoomi". "He is not just an elected representative from Amethi, he is a part of the Amethi family," he said.
 
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Asked about the BJP's and its Amethi candidate Smriti Irani's remarks that Gandhi had opted to contest from a second constituency because he was scared of losing from Amethi, Surjewala said whether then Gujarat Chief Minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh as well as Vadodara in Gujarat had been taken because of he was afraid of losing in his home state.
 
He said it would be better if the BJP, instead of indulging in such immature politics, concentrated on the real issues facing the people and the country. He also said Union Minister Irani, who had lost to Gandhi in 2014 and from Chandni Chowk in Delhi in 2009, would record a "hat-trick" of defeats this time.
 
Surjewala said Gandhi's decision to contest from South India also was a strong message to the people of the region that they and their way of life mattered to the Congress and the entire country. He said it was also a "befitting response" to those who sought to divide the nation on the basis of religion, caste, community, region, language, and so on.
 
Gandhi, who has been representing Amethi in the Lok Sabha since 2004, won the seat by a reduced margin in the last elections in 2014 against Irani.
 
Asked which seat Gandhi will retain if he wins both in Amethi and Wayanad, Surjewala said that when the Congress forms a government following the polls, the party president will represent the entire country. 
 
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Congress MP from Kerala M. I. Shanavas passes away

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M. I. Shanavas, Congress Lok Sabha member from Wayanad in Kerala and the Working President of the party's state unit, passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Wednesday, a party leader said.
 
He was 67. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
 
"The party has lost a stalwart. I have lost a dear brother," Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said.
 
Shanavas, a two-time Member of Parliament (MP) , was ailing for sometime and was admitted at a hospital in the Tamil Nadu capital. 
 
"His body will be brought to Kochi today. It will lie in state for the public to pay their last respects and the final rites will take place tomorrow," said Chennithala.
 
A long-time close aide of former Kerala Chief Minister K. Karunakaran, Shahnavas along with Chennithala and former Kerala Speaker late G. Karthikeyan in the 1980s parted ways with Karunakaran and formed their own faction, 'the reformist'.
 
Shanavas won the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Wayanad, which he retained in 2014.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his cabinet colleagues condoled the passing away of Shanavas.
 
IANS

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Two Kerala officials arrested for embezzlement of flood relief material

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Two Kerala government officials were arrested on Friday in Wayanad district for the alleged embezzlement of flood relief material, police said.
 
A senior police official told IANS that the arrests were made based on a complaint received from another senior government official.
 
According to the complaint, the two accused, S. Thomas and M.P. Dinesh, were stopped by residents at a relief camp Panamaram village while they were loading the relief material into a vehicle.
 
Thomas and Dinesh said that they were moving the material to another camp in the village. But the residents called the police and upon interrogation it was found that they had lied.
 
Meanwhile, a similar incident was also reported from Chengannur where the accused was a temporary government official.
 
Relief materials have been coming into Kerala from various places ever since the heavy monsoon rains hit the state on May 29 followed by subsequent floods leading to some 370 deaths and displacement of more than a million people from their homes.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood toll 368, over 58,000 rescued, red alert in 3 districts

The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and a red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
 
More rain hits Kerala's flooding devastation
 
 
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and a red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while giving the latest figures, told the media late on Saturday that the flood relief work is going on in full swing and things are slowly coming under control and more helicopters and personnel would be engaged in the rescue and relief operations on Sunday.
 
The 33 deaths reported during the day occurred in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts.
 
Rejecting a demand from the Congress-led opposition and Kerala BJP to hand over the rescue operations to the Army, he said: "In a rescue operation, the most important thing is that it should be done only by the local authorities who are well-versed with the locality, and the Army and other agencies' help is sought and a combined operation is done."
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Saturday afternoon forecast that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, are likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.
 
While more than 58,000 people were rescued in areas like Ernakulam, Chengannur, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur, there are still many more waiting to be rescued.
 
Vijayan said that the red alert has now been limited to Ernakulam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts only.
 
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
 
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in the affected areas.c
 
Earlier in the day, Vijayan told Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a review meeting in Kochi that the death toll since May 29 had climbed to 357 and over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps.
 
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas.
 
Vijayan in the morning told the media that the situation is "very serious and grave".
 
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of the calamity.
 
"There are many people waiting to be rescued in areas like Pandanad (near Chengannur) and I saw two bodies floating in the water. If there is any more delay in, things will take a turn for the worse. We are drinking rain water to keep us going...," said a resident of Pandanad.
 
On Saturday night, a 150-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team started rescue operations in and around affected areas of Chengannur.
 
Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan, who was spearheading the rescue operations in Paravur in Ernakulam district, said that he stood before a rescue boat team with folded hands and they obliged and rescued several people.
 
National award winning actor Salim Kumar, after remaining holed up in his house along with 45 others for three days, was finally rescued by a fishing boat on Saturday evening.
 
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Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
 
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
 
Alappuzha District Collector S. Suhas said since morning 150 boats including house boats have been engaged in rescuing people and "today (Saturday) we evacuated about 75 per cent of people who were waiting to be rescued".
 
"Around two lakhs people are now in various camps. This could well be the biggest rescue operation," Suhas said.
 
Journalist-turned-CPI-M legislator Veena George on Saturday turned critical "due to the way the government machinery in Pathanamthitta has been working".
 
"None has a clue of how many people have been rescued and how many are left to be rescued. There seems to be a disconnect in coordination of the operations," said George.
 
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting to return home.
 
However, a landslide near Nelliyampathy in Palakkad district has left around 1,000 people cut off from the mainland and the Army is working to clear the debris.
 
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff failed to report for the duty due to flooding.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
 
A special train will be back on the Kottayam sector on Sunday, after all services on this route were suspended for the past two days.
 
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad-Aluva highway were cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood death toll 357, 11 districts still on alert

The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 357 this monsoon season, as 22 more deaths were reported on Saturday and red alert continued in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
 
More rain hits Kerala's flooding devastation
 
 
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 357 this monsoon season, as 22 more deaths were reported on Saturday and red alert continued in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
 
The death toll due to torrential rains since August 9 -- the third spell during this year's monsoon in the southern state -- reached 194 with the casualties reported on Saturday in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Chengannur districts.
 
The India Meteorological Department forecast on Saturday afternoon that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, is likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and the neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.
 
Barring Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kasargode, the remaining 11 districts of Kerala continued to be on red alert following prediction of more rains.
 
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
 
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in affected areas.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi. In a memorandum submitted to the Centre, Vijayan said that the death toll in rain-related incidents since May 29 had climbed to 357. Over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps, he said.
 
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the affected areas.
 
Vijayan told the media here that the situation is "very serious and grave". 
 
"The death toll would have been higher, but for the work we did. Things are under control," said Vijayan, whose government was flayed by Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala for failing to take up rescue and relief work effectively.
 
Food Minister P. Thilothaman, camping at Chengannur, told the media: "The need of the hour is to provide food packets and drinking water to the people. About 15 small boats of the Navy are expected to join rescue and relief work. But, after dusk, no rescues are possible. Helicopters are also needed for faster evacuation."
 
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of calamity.
 
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Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
 
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
 
Alappuzha Superintendent of Police A.P. Surendran said: "Things are moving fast on Saturday. Helicopters and more boats have been pressed into service. We are confident we will be able to rescue more stranded people."
 
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting return to their homes.
 
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff faied to report for duty due to the flooding.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday, with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
 
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad highway though were cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
 
IANS
 

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