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Rahul, Priyanka, Scindia roll out Mission UP with mega roadshow in Lucknow

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday made her formal debut in active politics with a massive road show in Lucknow, accompanied by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, enthusing party workers ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and General Secretaries Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia waving to the crowds that lined up the streets during their roadshow in Lucknow on February 11, 2019.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and General Secretaries Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia waving to the crowds that lined up the streets during their roadshow in Lucknow on February 11, 2019.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made her formal debut in active politics with a massive road show in Lucknow, accompanied by her brother and Congress President Rahul Gandhi and fellow General Secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia, enthusing party workers ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
The Congress President had, on January 23, appointed Ms. Vadra as the party's General Secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh East and Mr. Scindia as the General Secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh West. The two young leaders will oversee the party's efforts in the coming Lok Sabha elections in their respective areas, and will, therefore, be each responsible for roughly half of the 80 seats from the state.
 
The Gandhi siblings and Scindia were accompanied on the roadshow by UP Congress chief Raj Babbar and other senior party leaders. They were greeted all along the four-hour, 25 km drive from the airport to the party's office in Lucknow with rose petals, garlands, bouquets, banners and so on by huge cheering crowds on both sides of the road.
 
Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Scindia waved and smiled at the people throughout.
 
Congress volunteers distributed food packets, tea and water to people and patriotic songs were played on loudspeakers.
 
For Priyanka, on whom much of the hopes of the Congress workers in Uttar Pradesh now rests, this was the first time that she was campaigning outside the Lok Sabha constituencies of Amethi and Rae Bareli, held by Rahul Gandhi and their mother and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, respectively.
 
Speaking at the end of the roadshow, the Congress President said his party was committed to playing on the front foot, without any hesitation and without fear, in Uttar Pradesh and the rest of the country in the coming Lok Sabha elections, expected to be held in April-May.
 
He said Ms Vadra and Mr. Scindia would work to better the party's performance in the Lok Sabha polls, but, more importantly, they had been entrusted with the task of ensuring that the party was voted to power in the next Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
 
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"We will not rest until we establish a Congress government in Uttar Pradesh," he declared.
 
"This is an ideological battle. On the one  hand,  there is the Congress ideology of brotherhood, love and harmony. On the other, there is the ideology of the BJP, the RSS and of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi of dividing the people, speading hatred and weakening the nation," he said.
 
He said the people had seen the record of Modi in the past four and a half years. He said the Modi government had failed to provide jobs to the youth as promised, had written off loans worth lakhs of crores of rupees of industrialists but had refused to waive farm loans, and had worked for the benefit of a few industrialists. "This is the reality of the man who had said he wanted to be the nation's 'chowkidar' and not Prime Minister," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said he had decided to send Ms. Vadra and Ms. Scindia to help revive the party in the Uttar Pradesh. "The Congress began in Uttar Pradesh and cannot remain weak in this state," he said.
 
He told Ms. Vadra, Mr. Scindia, Mr. Babbar and the several other state Congress leaders present that it was their collective responsibility to work for the revival of the party in Uttar Pradesh. The party had managed to win only two of the 80 seats from the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
He said the party would work for the youth, women, farmers, workers and the poor. According to him, the people had tried all other parties and now wanted a progressive government. He said the people realised that the Congress was their only option now.
 
He said the party must make every effort to bring to the fore leadership from the grassroots, making it clear that leaders who parachuted into the state could not produce the desired results.
 
Mr. Gandhi spoke briefly about the latest revelations about the Rafale fighter jets deal which, according to him, strengthened the allegations about corruption at the highest levels.
 
About the BSP-SP alliance in UP, which had kept the Congress out, Mr. Gandhi said he had the greatest respect for BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. "But the Congress will fight with all its might for its ideology and for bringing about change in Uttar Pradesh," he added.
 
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Four held for Bulandshahr violence, police mum on killers' links

Four people have been arrested in connection with the killing of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a young man in violence in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh after cow vigilantes went on a rampage, police said on Tuesday.
Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh who was attacked and shot dead by a mob protesting against alleged cow slaughter in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr on December 3, 2018. (File Photo: IANS)
Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh who was attacked and shot dead by a mob protesting against alleged cow slaughter in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr on December 3, 2018. (File Photo: IANS)
Four people have been arrested in connection with the killing of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a young man in violence in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh after cow vigilantes went on a rampage, police said on Tuesday.
 
The police, however, maintained it would be too early to conclude about the involvement of any organisation in the violence although local officials linked the mayhem to right-wing Hindu groups.
 
The police said the main conspirator behind Monday's mob violence was Yogesh Raj, who is on the run and is said to be a Bajrang Dal activist. 
 
Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said those arrested were Chaman, Devendra, Ashish Chouhan and Satish, who have been named in the FIR, while the prime suspect was Yogesh Raj.
 
"Those arrested have been found to be leading the crowd after being identified in a video. About 40-50 others who are unidentified were involved in the incident and police is confident of identifying them with the video evidence," he said.
 
The official parried questions about the political links of the three key accused who are also said to include an activist each from the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
 
"Yes, Yogesh Raj is the main conspirator," he said, adding that he was yet to be arrested. 
 
He said six teams have been formed to probe the incident and an SIT has been constituted to investigate the matter.
 
On allegations that policemen fled the spot leaving the slain Inspector alone, Kumar said the circumstances in which police personnel left the place would be analysed and till then no action would be taken against anyone.
 
He said the Inspector was first injured by a stone.
 
"He fell unconscious and was taken in a vehicle which was attacked by a mob with stones and gunfire," he added. Videos which went viral showed the Inspector dead with a bullet wound near the vehicle and several activists running around in circles.
 
A .32 bore bullet was found lodged in the head of Subodh Kumar Singh.
 
Earlier reports said the Inspector was killed when he tried to reason with the Hindutva activists blocking a busy road with carcasses of animals they claimed were of cows.
 
About the death of the youth, Sumeet, only a probe can reveal whether he was killed in cross-firing or police firing, Kumar said.
 
A view of vehicles that were damaged after violence erupted on Monday in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr in violence by a mob protesting against alleged cow slaughter, on December 3, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
A view of vehicles that were damaged after violence erupted on Monday in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr in violence by a mob protesting against alleged cow slaughter, on December 3, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
He said a bullet had been recovered from the body of Sumit. 
 
The officer said the dead officer was being treated as a "martyr" and full state honour was given to him in Meerut in the presence of the police brass.
 
The body was taken to his village in Etah where he would be cremated with full honours.
 
In his village, his family broke down on seeing the mortal remains. His wife rued that he had sought leave but it was not granted. If he had been given leave, he would have been alive, she said.
 
His two teenage sons paid glowing tributes to their father, saying he never discriminated people on the basis of religion.
 
The officer's elder son Shreya is studying MBA while his younger son Abhishek is a student of engineering.
 
The uncle of the dead Inspector said the family won't accept the compensation of Rs 40 lakh announced by the government and instead wanted the presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the village. 
 
The government has formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the violence, the circumstances leading to it and to identify the people and groups involved. 
 
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati blamed the state government for the violence in Bulandshahr, saying the "lawlessness" in the state was a result of its "faulty and wrong policies".
 
In a statement, the four-time Chief Minister said that government was now faced with the same mobocracy it inculcated to make political gains over the past many years.
 
IANS
 

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Dust storm on Sunday night leaves 23 dead in Uttar Pradesh

Dust storms, hail and lightning have claimed as many as 23 lives in the last 12 hours in Uttar Pradesh, an official said on Monday.
A dust storm lashing Mathura in Uttar Pradesh on May 13, 2018.(Photo: IANS)
A dust storm lashing Mathura in Uttar Pradesh on May 13, 2018.(Photo: IANS)
Dust storms, hail and lightning have claimed as many as 23 lives in the last 12 hours in Uttar Pradesh, an official said on Monday.
 
The storm hit Etawah, Banda, Auriyya, Meerut, Kanpur rural, Kannauj, Farukkhabad and Orai districts.
 
Late on Sunday, gusty winds, followed by dust storm, had brought life to a standstill in many parts of the state. Many houses were razed to the ground, hoardings and trees uprooted and power outages reported from various cities and towns.
 
The relief commissioner's office, although, has confirmed only 18 deaths besides two dozen injuries in Sunday's dust storm. 
 
District officials have been asked by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to ensure prompt relief, a government spokesman said. 
 
Due to the uprooting of trees, vehicular traffic on the busy G.T. road near Orai was disrupted for more than four hours. 
 
A woman standing under a tree in Kannauj was killed as it fell on her while two persons have been reported dead from Barabanki. 
 
Three deaths, including a child have been reported from Bulandshahr due to a wall collapse.
 
Five persons have been reported dead in Kasganj and one in the temple town of Vrindavan. Two persons died in Saharanpur after being struck with lightning. 
 
One person died in Muzaffarnagar as he was hit by a tree branch when he was driving a bike. 
 
One person was killed in Ghaziabad's Lalkuan area after a tree fell on a car and a six-year-old died in Hapur after falling in a tube well tank due to the squall. 
 
A passerby was hit by a hoarding brought down by winds near the Stellar Jeevan Society in Noida and died while one woman was killed in Aligarh.
 
While one died in Sambhal, two persons were killed in Banjariya village when two minarets of a mosque were ripped off by high velocity winds and they fell on a house. One person was killed in Budayun.
 
IANS
 
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Modi says Defence Industrial Corridor will be set up in UP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that one of the two Defence Industrial Corridors announced in this year's Budget would be established in Uttar Pradesh with likely investments of up to Rs. 20,000 crore which would help in the development of the state, especially the Bundelkhand region.
 
Modi praises Yogi for bringing positivity in Uttar Pradesh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said one of the two Defence Industrial Corridors announced in this year's Budget would be established in Uttar Pradesh with likely investments of up to Rs. 20,000 crore which would help in the development of the state, especially the Bundelkhand region.
 
Delivering the inaugural address at the Uttar Pradesh Investors' Summit 2018 here, he said the corridor -- which will cover Agra, Aligarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi and Chitrakoot -- would provide jobs to nearly 2.5 lakh people.
 
Mr. Modi said that the organisation of such a major event in Uttar Pradesh, with the participation of so many investors, was indicative of the change that has come about in the state. He congratulated the State and its Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for establishing itself on the path of development and prosperity in such a short timeframe.
 
He said the State is blessed with an abundance of resources and capabilities. He noted its strengths in agriculture. He complimented Yogi Adityanath for changing the negative atmosphere in the State, to one of positivity and hope. He said the State is making appropriate policies for various sectors. He said the State Government is serious about fulfilling the promises made to farmers, women and youth.
 
He said the State is working on a “One District, One Product” scheme. He said the Union Government’s schemes such as Skill India Mission, Stand Up India, Start Up India and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, will prove useful in implementing the “One District, One Product” scheme.
 
He said the Union Government’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Scheme would help reduce wastage in the agriculture sector. He said the State had immense potential in ethanol production, due to large sugarcane cultivation.
 
The Prime Minister said that the Kumbh Mela to be organized next year at Prayag, would be the largest such event of its kind in the world.
 
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Mr. Modi referred to the many strengths and attractions of Uttar Pradesh -- the chikan work of Lucknow, jari and zardosi of Varanasi, brassware of Moradabad, glassware of Firozabad, pethas of Agra and the perfumes of Kannauj; its places of tourist importance such as Agra, Ayodhya, Mathura; its mighty rivers Ganga and Yamuna; and its educational institutions like IIT Kanpur, IIM Lucknow and Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
 
He pointed out that it was the number one state in production of foodgrains, sugarcane, milk and potatoes; number two in vegetables and number three in fruits; and among the top states in the small scale industries sector.
 
He stressed the need for the state to develop a better work culture and a business culture and introduce investment-friendly policies to take full advantage of its enormous potential.
 
Mr. Modi referred to the many projects under implementation, including plans for two new international airports at Khushinagar and Jhevar in the state, new airports at Agra, Kanpur, Allahabad, Bareily, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Moradabad, Aligarh and Azamgarh, and so on.
 
He said that when the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors as well as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and the Amritsar-Delhi-Kolkata Industrial corridor, all of which will pass through Uttar Pradesh, are completed, they will give a major boost to the state's economy.
 
Similarly, work was on on the Haldia-Varanasi national waterway and for metro rail projects in Meerut, Kanpur and Varanasi, and all these projects would help create a world class transport infrastructure in the state, he said.
 
Stating that Gujarat was the first state to host investor summits, a trend that has now spread to all the states, he stressed the importance of setting up a monitoring mechanism to ensure that MoUs are translated into projects on the ground.
 
Finland, the Netherlands, Japan, Czech Republic, Thailand, Slovakia and Mauritius are the partner countries at the two-day summit.
 
President Ram Nath Kovind will address the valedictory session of the summit tomorrow.
 
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Raj Babbar offers to quit, owns moral responsibility for Congress rout in UP

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Owning moral responsibility for the rout of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, state Congress President Raj Babbar has reportedly sent his resignation to Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
 
The Congress could win only one seat (Rae Bareli) in the state and Rahul Gandhi lost Amethi to Union Minister Smriti Irani.
 
Raj Babbar also lost the Fatehpur Sikri seat that he contested. He lost the seat to Raj Kumar Chahar of BJP by a margin of overt four lakh votes.
 
In a tweet, the actor-turned-politician said: "My best wishes to the winners. The UP Congress results have been disappointing. I have failed to discharge my responsibility effectively and I blame myself for this. I will meet the party leadership and place my views before them."
 
The BJP and its ally, Apna Dal, have won 64 of the 80 seats while the SP-BSP alliance got only 15 seats. The Congress won only one seat.
 
IANS
 

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Om Prakash Rajbhar dismissed from Yogi government

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Governor Ram Naik on Monday dismissed Uttar Pradesh Minister Om Prakash Rajbhar from his ministerial position on the recommendation of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
 
Five other leaders of the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), who were holding ministerial ranks in commissions, have also been removed with immediate effect.
 
Talking to reporters immediately after his dismissal, Rajbhar said that he welcomed the decision.
 
"I welcome the decision but I wish that Yogi Adityanath had shown the same haste in dealing with issues related to my demand for implementing prohibition in the state, granting scholarships to poor children and other such issues," he said.
 
He said that he would now work towards exposing the BJP.
 
"I will continue to consolidate my community and tell them how the BJP has cheated the OBCs and Dalits. The BJP never addressed issues raised by me and kept me waiting till the elections were over. 
 
"Surely Yogi Adityanath could have dismissed me even during elections but they did not want to suffer OBC backlash by doing so. However, this is not the end of elections -- there will be more elections in the future," he stated. 
 
Rajbhar had claimed that he had sent his resignation to the Chief Minister on April 13 but BJP sources claim that the resignation was "nowhere to be found".
 
"If he had to resign, he should have sent his resignation to the Governor," said Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma.
 
Rajbhar had used unparliamentary language for the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leaders during the campaign and had even campaigned for opposition candidates.
 
According to sources, the BJP is now ready to get rid of Om Prakash Rajbhar and would now promote its own Minister of State Anil Rajbhar, a legislator from Sakaldiha Assembly segment in Chandauli district.
 
"We can win over the Rajbhar community through Anil Rajbhar. There are three years to go for the Assembly elections," said a BJP leader
 
Though Rajbhar claimed to have resigned from the Yogi government last month, he continued to enjoy the perks, including bungalow, car and staff, that were given to the cabinet minister.
 
IANS
 

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After Rahul meet, Naidu talks to Mayawati, Akhilesh in UP

Continuing his campaign to meet various leaders and sew up a non-BJP front before the announcement of Lok Sabha results on May 23, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu met Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati here on Saturday.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu meeting BSP chief Mayawati in Lucknow, on May 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu meeting BSP chief Mayawati in Lucknow, on May 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Continuing his campaign to meet various leaders and sew up a non-BJP front before the announcement of Lok Sabha results on May 23, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu met Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati here on Saturday.
 
He held talks with Akhilesh Yadav for about 70 minutes at the Samajwadi Party office.
 
Akhilesh Yadav later tweeted: "It is a pleasure to welcome Hon'ble chief minister Shri Chandrababu Naidu ji to Lucknow."
 
Later, Naidu went to Mayawati's Mall Avenue residence. Senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra was also present there.
 
Mayawati greeted him with a bouquet while he gifted her a box of mangoes. He had also gifted mangoes to Akhilesh Yadav.
 
His meeting with Mayawati also continued for over an hour.
 
In his meetings held separately with the two leaders, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister is believed to have impressed upon them the need to keep the BJP out of power, if it did not get a majority on its own.
 
Sources said that he convinced both the leaders that their stature and respect would not be compromised in the proposed front. 
 
Naidu had arrived in Lucknow after meeting Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Delhi earlier on Saturday.
 
He had met CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury and Aam Admi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal on Friday and had discussed with them the possibility of a tie-up in the post-result scenario.
 
Naidu's efforts come ahead of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi's proposed meeting of opposition leaders on May 23, the invitations for which have already been sent out.
 
IANS
 

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'Woman in yellow sari' wants to go to 'Bigg Boss'

Reena Dwiwedi, who works as an assistant officer in the PWD department, snapped while reporting for election duty in  Lucknow, carrying an EVM, earlier this month. (Photo: IANS)
Reena Dwiwedi, who works as an assistant officer in the PWD department, snapped while reporting for election duty in Lucknow, carrying an EVM, earlier this month. (Photo: IANS)
For Reena Dwiwedi, the PWD officer who became an Internet sensation after her photograph went viral on social media, now wants to add an element of permanence to her newly-found celebrity status.
 
Reena has said that she would love to participate in the next season of reality show ‘Bigg Boss' if she gets an invitation.
 
"My family is supportive and they are happy that I am getting some recognition. Bigg Boss would be a great opportunity if I get it," she said.
 
Reena's photograph in a bright yellow sari was clicked by a colleague while she was on election duty and going to the polling station with electronic voting machines (EVMs).
 
Known as the ‘woman in yellow sari', she became a sensation on the social media and her life has not been the same ever since.
 
Her son Adit, a student of Class 9, has made her respond to video calls of his friends so that they can know that his mother is the ‘woman in yellow sari'.
 
Reena said that she loves dressing up and sees nothing wrong in being well turned-out.
 
IANS
 

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EC finds Smriti's charge of booth capturing false

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The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Uttar Pradesh, Lakku Venkateshwarlu, has said that the allegations of booth capturing levelled by Union Minister Smriti Irani in Amethi are false.
 
Talking to reporters here on Monday evening, the CEO said the charges levelled by an elderly woman in a video clip that went viral on social media were found to be "baseless".
 
"Following the complaint, the sector officer, senior officials and even observers rushed to the booth and spoke to the polling agents of the political parties, other officials in the polling booth following which it was conclusively found that the charges in the video clip were fabricated. Due to prima facie allegations in the clip, the presiding officer was summarily removed while the probe was going on," he said.
 
The video clip had created a huge controversy with Smriti Irani claiming that booth capturing was being done at the behest of Congress President Rahul Gandhi who is seeking re-election in Amethi.
 
Smriti Irani, who is the BJP candidate in Amethi, had tagged the video in her tweet and alleged that polls were being rigged.
 
IANS
 

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Smriti Irani alleges booth capture in Amethi

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Union Minister Smriti Irani on Monday alleged that the Congress workers were capturing booths and forcing voters to cast their vote for the Congress.
 
Irani tweeted a video of a woman who claimed that she was made to vote for the Congress. The woman said that one of the officials forcibly put her finger on the Congress button.
 
"Alert @ECISVEEP Congress President @RahulGandhi ensuring booth capturing," her tweet said.
 
She told reporters that Rahul Gandhi was now resorting to stealing votes. "They said that 'chowkidar chor hai', but they are the ones who are stealing votes. Rahul Gandhi will have to answer for such acts and the administration must look into the matter," she said.
 
Her supporters said that they would soon lodge a formal complaint with the returning officer in this regard.
 
Irani is the BJP candidate in Amethi and is contesting against Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The two are locked in a fierce battle.
 
Gandhi is seeking a re-election from Amethi against Irani, who lost the 2014 polls by just over a lakh votes.
 
IANS
 

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Mayawati appeals to vote for Congress in Amethi, Rae Bareli

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Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Sunday appealed to the workers of the Samajwadi Party (SP)-BSP alliance to vote for the Congress in Monday's election when people in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi and Rae Bareli will cast their ballots.
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi is fighting from Amethi while his mother and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is the candidate from Rae Bareli.
 
In a statement, Mayawati said: "The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are alike. We have not done any coalition with the Congress but to defeat the BJP, our coalition will vote for the Congress in Amethi and Rae Bareli.
 
"In the four phases of elections, the public has supported the SP-BSP coalition, which is disturbing the BJP. This alliance will not only make a new Prime Minister at the Centre but also a new government in Uttar Pradesh." 
 
On May 23, India will be liberated from autocratic and egoistic rule, she added.
 
IANS
 

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Lighting kills eight in Uttar Pradesh

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Lightning during a thunderstorm killed eight persons in two districts of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday. Four persons were killed in Chandauli, while one person died in Sonebhadra.
 
In the wake of cyclone 'Fani' in the Bay of Bengal, thunderstorms and rains lashed these two districts late on Thursday night. The Met Department has already sounded a weather alert in Uttar Pradesh for the next two days.
 
According to reports, four persons were killed when lightning struck and five others were seriously injured in Chandauli district. They have been admitted to the district hospital. The incident took place in Ram Mado village under Sahebganj police station.
 
One elderly person also died here when a tree fell on him.
 
In the second incident which took place in Pannuganj in Sonebhadra district, a youth died after being struck by lightning. Two brothers standing nearby received serious burn injuries. The brothers later succumbed to the injuries on Friday morning.
 
IANS
 

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Sonia campaigns in Rae Bareli, keeps it short

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Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday asked people to teach a lesson to those who had failed to fulfil their promises.
 
Addressing her first election meeting in Rae Bareli, Gandhi said farmers were given a raw deal and women were facing the brunt of inflation. "Demonetization and GST have destroyed small traders and the youth are facing massive unemployment," she said.
 
Gandhi also blamed the Centre for stalling development project in the constituency.
 
"Your vote is your biggest weapon and you must go out and vote," she said in her brief speech.
 
IANS
 

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Fire at gas stove store in Lucknow, 5 killed

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Five people, including a six-month-old baby, were killed in a fire that broke out in a gas stove warehouse at Mayawati Colony in Indira Nagar here on Wednesday.
 
Indira Nagar Police Station In-charge Amarnath Vishwakarma said, "T.N. Singh, a resident of Pratapgarh, used to run a gas stove warehouse from his house in Ram Vihar Phase II. Last night around 1.30 a.m., the air-conditioner at his house caught fire due to a short circuit." 
 
"The smoke caused by the blaze soon engulfed the house leaving five members of the family dead," he said. The dead include Sumit Singh, his wife Julie, their six-month-old daughter, Dablu Singh and Vandana Singh. 
 
IANS
 

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Seven killed in UP truck-bus collision

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At least seven people were killed and 30 others injured on Sunday when a Varanasi-bound passenger bus collided head-on with a truck in Uttar Pradesh's Mainpuri district, police said.
 
Rakesh Pandey, the incharge of the Karhal police station, said: "The accident took place on the Agra Lucknow Expressway while the bus, en route to Varanasi from New Delhi, tried to overtake and collided head-on with the truck coming from the opposite direction.
 
"The victims included the bus driver and the injured have been shifted to a hospital in Saifai town."
 
Yadav said that the police had great difficulty in taking out the bodies since the impact of the accident left the bus badly mangled.
 
IANS
 

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Naqvi booked for calling Azam 'Mogambo'

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Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been booked for calling Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan ‘Mogambo, a popular villain character from Bollywood.
 
The Union Minister of Minority Affairs referred to Azam Khan as Mogambo during a rally in Rampur on Monday, after Khan in a Sunday event made slanderous remarks against BJP candidate Jaya Prada.
 
Rampur Additional Superintendent of Police, Arun Kumar Singh told the media that the magistrate who was monitoring the rally had given a complaint and, on that basis, a case has been registered against the Minister for violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
 
Magistrate M. K. Gupta said in his complaint that Naqvi's statement could cause animosity and was a violation of the poll code. 
 
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Notice issued to Maneka Gandhi for communal remarks

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Union Minister Maneka Gandhi was on Friday issued a show-cause notice after she kicked off a major controversy when she told the Muslims in Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh to vote for her if they wanted her to get their work done after she wins from the constituency.
 
According to sources, Sultanpur's District Magistrate issued the notice after the Election Commission took cognisance of the matter and asked Gandhi to explain her remarks.
 
Addressing an election rally in Turab Khani village, the BJP leader said that she would not give jobs to Muslims if they did not vote for her. She also said that she would not like it if she won without the support of the Muslims.
 
Gandhi's three-minute speech went viral on social media, leading to outrage for its allegedly blatant communal content. The Congress has termed Gandhi's statement "scandalous".
 
However, Gandhi later maintained that her remarks were quoted out of context.
 
Gandhi is contesting from Sultanpur, a seat won by her son Varun Gandhi in 2014. Varun Gandhi is contesting from Pilibhit, from where his mother had won in 2014.
 
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Akhilesh to contest from Azamgarh for LS polls

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The Samajwadi Party (SP) on Sunday announced that its chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest the coming Lok Sabha polls from the Azamgarh parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
 
In the 2014 elections, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav had won the Mainpuri and Azamgarh parliamentary constituencies. Azamgarh is considered a strong belt of the party.
 
Besides Akhilesh Yadav, the party also fielded former state minister Azam Khan from Rampur.
 
So far, the SP has announced 19 candidates for the general elections.
 
The SP, which won five seats in the 2014 elections, has announced to contest the 2019 elections in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
 
The SP will contest on 37, the BSP on 38 and the RLD on three out of the 80 seats in the state.
 
The seven phased Lok Sabha elections are scheduled from April 11 to May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.
 
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BSP leader Mayawati not to contest LS elections

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BSP chief Mayawati on Wednesday declared that she will not contest the Lok Sabha elections and asked party activists not to get disheartened over her decision as there were legal provisions for her to get elected within six months.
 
"When I became Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister first time in 1995, I was not a member of either the Uttar Pradesh Assembly or Council," she tweeted.
 
The Bahujan Samaj Party leader added that similar provisions existed at the Centre too where a person could get elected to the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha within six months of holding office as Minister or Prime Minister. 
 
"Don't get disheartened at my decision not to contest the Lok Sabha election now," she said.
 
The BSP, which scored a nil in the 2014 Lok Sabha battle, is fighting the elections in Uttar Pradesh in alliance with the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal.
 
The BSP is contesting in 38 seats, the SP in 37 and the RLD in three seats, leaving two seats (Rae Bareli and Amethi) for the Congress.
 
The Lok Sabha elections are scheduled in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. The results will be announced on May 23.
 
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Congress not to field candidates in 7 seats in UP

File photo of Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar/ (Photo: IANS)
File photo of Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar/ (Photo: IANS)
The Congress on Sunday announced it will not contest seven Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh to return the favour of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alliance, which has left two seats for the party in the state.
 
Addressing a press conference at the Nehru Bhawan here, Congress state unit chief Raj Babbar said, "The SP-BSP-RLD have not fielded any candidates from Rae Bareli and Amethi (represented by Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi) and so our party has also decided not to contest seven seats."
 
He said the Congress will not contest in Mainpuri, the seat from which SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting the polls.
 
The Congress will also not contest in Kannauj, a seat represented by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav's wife Dimple and Firozabad, represented by Akhilesh's cousin Akshay Yadav.
 
Babbar said the Congress will also not field candidates from those seats that the BSP Chief Mayawati, RLD Chief Ajit Singh and RLD Vice President Jayant Chaudhary want to contest.
 
He, however, said the name of the seventh seat will be announced in a few days.
 
According to party leaders, Congress may give up the Azamgarh seat, from where Akhilesh Yadav is expected to contest.
 
The BSP is contesting 38 seats in the state, the SP 37 and the RLD three.
 
The UP Congress chief also announced an alliance with the Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) for seven seats in the state.
 
He said the JAP will contest five seats on its own symbol and two seats on the Congress symbol.
 
The JAP will contest on its own symbol from Jhansi, Etah, Chandauli, Basti and one more seat, which will be decided in a day or two.
 
It will contest on the Congress symbol from Chandauli and one more seat, which will be declared in a few days, Babbar added.
 
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 73 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014.
 
Uttar Pradesh will vote in all seven phases of the Lok Sabha elections scheduled from April 11 to May 19. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.
 
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Priyanka Vadra in Lucknow to meet party workers

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Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday arrived here to meet party workers and office bearers ahead of her boatride from Prayagraj to Varanasi.
 
Gandhi's flight arrived at 10.20 a.m. and she reached Nehru Bhawan, state headquarters on Mall Avenue, in another half an hour.
 
Several delegations who have been protesting against the Yogi Adityanath's Bharatiya Janata Party government's administration here were likely to meet her, party leaders said.
 
There were at least 12 to 13 groups who have sought audience with her separately. each group having about 30-40 members.
 
The meetings were expected to last till 5 p.m. and then she will leave for Prayagraj to kickstart her campaign heading towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi.
 
Priyanka Gandhi returned to Mall Avenue office a month after she embarked on her poll journey on February 11 along with her brother and party President Rahul Gandhi and her western UP counterpart Jyotiraditya Scindia. 
 
She had at that time held marathon meetings with the party workers for over 40 hours till February 14.
 
The Congress in 2014 had won only Amethi and Rae Bareli seats -- traditional Nehru-Gandhi family boroughs.
 
The SP, the BSP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal are contesting the 2019 elections in alliance.
 
The BJP-led NDA alliance won 73 out of 80 seats in the state in  2014.
 
Uttar Pradesh will vote in all seven phases of the Lok Sabha elections scheduled from April 11 to May 19. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.
 
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JD-S leader Danish Ali joins BSP ahead of LS polls

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Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader Danish Ali on Saturday joined the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), ahead of the coming Lok Sabha elections.
 
Ali joined the BSP in the presence of the party's national general secretary Satish Mishra at the BSP office here.
 
According to BSP sources, Ali, who was considered as a top leader in former Prime Minister H. D. Devegowda's JD-S, is likely to contest from Amroha in western Uttar Pradesh.
 
The BSP which scored a nil in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls is contesting the general elections this time in the state in alliance with the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
 
The BJP-led NDA alliance had won 73 out of 80 seats in the state in 2014.
 
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Priyanka to kick off steamer poll campaign on Monday

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With less than a month to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will kick off a three-day poll campaign from her great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru's birthplace Prayagraj to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi by a steamer on March 18.
 
According to Congress leaders, during her three-day programme, she will cover a distance of over 140 km through four districts of the state -- Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), Bhadohi, Mirzapur and Varanasi -- by steamer as well as car.
 
Priyanka's journey will commence from Prayagraj on Monday and conclude at Varanasi's Assi Ghat and Dashashwamedh ghat on Wednesday evening.
 
She will take the steamer ride from Chhatnag in Prayagraj on March 18 and en route meet elderly citizens of Dumduma in Prayagraj and the family members of Mahesh Raj Yadav, who was killed in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama on February 14 in a suicide bombing.
 
Priyanka Gandhi will be back on her steamer ride from Rampur ghat in Bhadohi. From there, she will also visit Vindhyachal temple in Mirzapur and meet the carpet weavers before a night halt there.
 
She will commence her journey on Tuesday from Vindhyachal and visit the Dargah of Maulana Ismail Chisti in Bhadohi's Kantit area and interact with people there.
 
The Congress leader will then again be back on the steamer ride from Mirzapur. She will interact with advocates at Kachahri Ghat in the district and then visit Bhatauli village and meet people there.
 
Thereafter, the newly-appointed General Secretary will reach Chandrika Devi temple and interact with people after offering her prayers there.
 
After leaving Chandrika Devi temple, Priyanka will reach Devri in Mirzapur and interact with local villagers there before arriving at Chunar for the night halt.
 
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In the last leg of her three-day journey on Wednesday, she will visit road Varanasi's Sheetla Mandir by  road and meet women groups there.
 
From Sheetla temple, Priyanka will again take the steamer ride till Ramnagar and interact with the fishermen community there.
 
She will also visit the house of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in Varanasi's Ramnagar before arriving at Assi Ghat by the steamer. There she will interact with the local people, people from Jain communities and offer prayers at Vishwanath temple.
 
After performing rituals at the Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, she will again take the steamer ride to Dashashwamedh ghat.
 
After that, she will leave for the Congress office in Varanasi and interact with party workers during a Holi Milan programme.
 
She will then leave for Delhi on Wednesday evening from Varanasi airport.
 
The Congress is contesting the Lok Sabha polls alone in Uttar Pradesh which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal are contesting in alliance.
 
In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Apna Dal had won 73 seats while the Congress had managed to win only two. The Samajwadi Party had won five seats and the BSP had drawn a blank in the state.
 
The Congress has to date announced 26 candidates for Uttar Pradesh. Her brother Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Amethi, while her mother Sonia Gandhi will contest from Rae Bareli seat.
 
Polling in the Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.
 
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Cabinet approves Rs. 11,076 crore Kanpur Metro Rail Project

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The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the Kanpur Metro Rail Project with two corridors that will connect major public nodes and city cluster areas of Kanpur.
 
The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 11,076.48 crore and the project will be completed in five years, an official release said.
 
 
According to the release, the length of the ITT-Naubasta corridor will be 23.785 km, partly elevated and partly underground, and comprise 22 stations (14 elevated and 8 underground).
 
The length of the Agriculture University-Barra 8 corridor is 8.60 km, comprising four elevated and four underground stations, it said.
 
The IJT Kanpur - Naubasta corridor will pass through the heart of the city and cover several prominent educational institutions, railway and bus stations, including IIT Kanpur, CSJM University, GSYM Medical College, Jhakarkati Bus Station and Kanpur Central Railway Station.
 
The Agriculture University - Barra 8 corridor will provide connectivity to various densely populated residential areas such as Kakadeo and Govind Nagar.
 
About 40 lakh population is expected to be benefitted by the project directly and indirectly once commercial operations begin, the release said.
 
The proposed corridors will have multi-modal integration with railway stations and will have feeder network of bus, intermediate public transport (IPT) and non-motorized transport (NMT). The project will have non-fare box revenue from rental and advertisement as well as Value Capture Financing (VCF) through mechanism of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR).
 
Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation, a 50:50 jointly owned company of the Government of India (GoI) and the Government of Uttar Pradesh (GoUP) will be reconstituted as Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) for implementation of the project.
 
The financing of Kanpur Metro Rail Project will be partly from GoI and GoUP on equal equity basis and partly as soft loan  from bilateral and multilateral international funding agencies.
 
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has already allocated Rs. 175 crore for this project during the financial year 2019-20.
 
Kanpur is one of the largest cities in Uttar Pradesh with an estimated population of around 41 lakh. It has historical importance with large scale industrial and commercial activities. Urbanization and rapid growth of vehicular traffic has led to severe stress on the urban transport system in the city resulting also in a deterioration in air quality. 
 
"In this backdrop, it is imperative to strengthen the public transport system in Kanpur and the Metro project will be able to meet this need.  While approving the project, the Cabinet has also stipulated that city bus services in Kanpur should be strengthened within one year of the approval of the Metro Project," the release added.
 
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Kovind inaugurates Apollomedics Super Specialty Hospital in Lucknow

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The President of India Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the Apollomedics Super Specialty Hospital here on Sunday.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the President emphasised the importance of quality and affordable healthcare in the country, and particularly in Uttar Pradesh. He pointed to the successes in meeting the challenges of traditional infectious and communicable diseases, and also to the changing disease patterns in the country that are giving rise to greater cases to non-communicable or lifestyle ailments. 
 
In this context, the President said, the Ayushman Bharat programme, launched in 2018, would go a long way in providing medical cover, especially to underprivileged citizens.
 
Kovind said that quality health for everybody was a shared goal. As such, he was happy the government, civil society, private and charitable institutions and other stakeholders were working together. He expressed confidence that the Apollomedics Super Specialty Hospital would provide state-of-the-art medical care to the people of the state and the region at a reasonable cost.
 
Others who were present and spoke on the occasion included Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, and Dr Prathap C. Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group.
 
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