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Varanasi

Modi attacks Congress on corruption at NRI, PIO convention

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attacked the Congress for allegedly doing little to curb corruption during its long years in power and claimed that his government had plugged the leaks and ensured that the fruits of development programmes reached the intended beneficiaries.

 
Modi inaugurates 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas at Varanasi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today attacked the Congress for allegedly doing little to curb corruption during its long years in power and claimed that his government had plugged the leaks through the use of technology and ensured that the fruits of various development programmes reached the intended beneficiaries.
 
Inaugurating the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the high-profile convention of Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) here, Mr. Modi referred to the famous remark by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 in which he said that only 15 paise of every rupee meant for the welfare of the downtrodden actually reached them.
 
Without naming Mr. Gandhi, the Prime Minister said the Congress government had identified the problem but did not do anything to plug the leakage of funds.
 
"At the peak of his party’s power, a former PM said that for every rupee, only 15 paise reaches the poor. Which was the hand that was siphoning off all funds?" he asked.
 
"For so many years, the party that ruled the country accepted this," he said.
 
He went on to say that the paradigm shift in governance brought about by the BJP-led NDA government had ensured that the fruits of development reached the intended beneficiaries.
 
"We have given about Rs. 5,80,000 crore to people, transferred amounts to their bank accounts through various schemes. Imagine, if the country was being run on the older system? Then Rs. 4,50,000 crore would have vanished," he said.
 
He said as many as seven crore fake names had been struck off the list of beneficiaries, which is almost equal to the population of Britain, France and, Italy.
 
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Mr. Modi called upon the NRIs and PIOs to join hands for building a New India.
 
He said that it was the love and affection of the diaspora for the land of their forefathers which had brought them to India.
 
He lauded the role of the Indian diaspora in keeping alive the tradition of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family). The NRIs are not only the Brand Ambassadors of India but also represent its strength, capabilities and characteristics. He urged the diaspora to participate in building a New India, especially in research and innovation.
 
“India is on course to become a global economic powerhouse. It has one of the largest start-up ecosystems and the world's largest healthcare scheme to its credit. We have moved on with great strides in ‘Make in India’. A bumper harvest production has been our major achievement.
 
“With its rapid progress, India is being seen on a high pedestal across the world and is in a position to lead the global community. International Solar Alliance is one such example. Local solution and global application is our mantra. The International Solar Alliance is a step in the direction of One World, One Sun, One Grid,” he added.
 
While the diaspora was equally important in the Government’s resolve for a new India,  their safety was also its concern. In this context, he referred to the challenge of evacuating more than 2 lakh Indians stranded in conflict zones.
 
Speaking about the welfare of Indians overseas, Mr Modi said the passport and visa rules have been simplified and e-visa had made it much easier for them to travel. All Pravasi Bharatiya are now being linked to Passport Sewa and efforts are on to issue chip-based E-passport. A Pravasi Teerth DarshanYojana was being taken up. 
 
He urged overseas Indian to invite five non-Indian families to visit the country. He also requested them to spread the values of Gandhiji and Guru Nanak Dev and become a part of their anniversary celebrations. “We feel proud that the global community has joined us in the compilation of Bapu’s favourite bhajan, Vaishnava Jan," he said.
 
Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, the chief guest on the occasion, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Mr Jugnauth invoked the memories of the Indian diaspora and their connection with the land of their forefathers. Speaking in Hindi and English, he said such gatherings reinforce the identity of overseas Indians as the members of one family with a shared history and culture. 
 
If India is unique, Indianness is universal. An educated and self-reliant diaspora can play a major role in nation building and the Diaspora connect can help multilateralism, he added.
 
While enthralling the crowd with his Bhojpuri dialect, he announced that Mauritius will organise the first International Bhojpuri Festival.
 
In her welcome address, Ms Swaraj said India today feels proud under the dynamic leadership of Mr Modi. She thanked the Indian diaspora for their linkages with the motherland. 
 
The Prime Minister also felicitated the winners of ‘Bharat ko Janiye’ (Know India) quiz competition for the young Indian diaspora.
 
The closing ceremony of PBD will be held tomorrow when President Ram Nath Kovind will confer Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to select overseas Indians for their contributions in various fields.
 
On January 24, the delegates will visit Prayagraj for Kumbh Mela. They will then proceed to New Delhi the next day to watch the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath on January 26.
 
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Modi to inaugurate 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas Convention in Varanasi on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention, the high-profile gathering of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) -- in Varanasi on Tuesday.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention, the high-profile gathering of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) -- here tomorrow.
 
The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mr. Pravind Jugnauth, will be the chief guest on the occasion, an official press release said.
 
Mr. Himanshu Gulati, Member of Parliament of Norway, will be the Special Guest while Mr. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Member of Parliament of New Zealand will be the Guest of Honour.
 
The theme of PBD 2019 is "Role of Indian Diaspora in Building New India". This is the first time that the convention, which got off to a start today with the Youth PBD, is being organized in Varanasi.
 
The convention dates have been chosen in such a way as to enable delegatess to visit the Kumbh Mela at Prayag Raj and then travel to Delhi for the Republic Day celebrations.
 
The valedictory session will be held on January 23, when President Ram Nath Kovind will present the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards to selected NRIs and PIOs for their contribution to various fields both in India and abroad.
 
The 1st PBD was celebrated on 9th January, 2003 in New Delhi. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate PBD as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, had returned to India from South Africa.
 
PBD, now held once in every two years, provides a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and reconnect with their roots.  
 
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Modi performs ‘Swachhta Shramdaan’ in Varanasi, visits ‘Pashudhan Arogya Mela’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday performed ‘shramdaan’ for the construction of a twin pit toilet at Shahanshahpur village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the national cleanliness campaign.

 
Governance is not about vote banks: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today performed ‘shramdaan’ for the construction of a twin pit toilet at Shahanshahpur village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the national cleanliness campaign.
 
Mr. Modi, who was on a two-day visit to his Lok Sabha constituency, interacted with the people, who have resolved to make the village open-defecation-free (ODF). He appreciated their initiative of naming the toilet "Izzat Ghar."
 
Mr Modi also visited a ‘Pashudhan Arogya Mela’ organised at the village. He was briefed on various health and medical activities being performed at the premises. These included surgeries on cattle, ultrasonography, and so on.
 
Addressing a gathering on the occasion, the Prime Minister congratulated Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the State Government for the successful setting up of the Pashudhan Arogya Mela. This is a new effort which would benefit the animal husbandry sector in the State, he said.
 
The increase in milk productivity will lead to economic benefit for the people. Cooperatives can help consolidate the gains in the dairy sector, as has been the case in other parts of the country.
 
Describing the well-being of people as the priority for governance, the Prime Minister reiterated the pledge to double farm incomes by 2022. He noted that soil health cards are benefiting farmers significantly. “Each one of us should resolve to make a positive contribution by 2022, to achieve the India that our freedom fighters dreamt of,” he added.
 
Mr. Modi said the feeling of "cleanliness being our responsibility" needs to be inculcated among all. He said this would go a long way towards ensuring wellness, and protecting the health of the poor. He said Swachhta is like a prayer for him and cleanliness a way to serve the poor.
 
On the first day of his Varanasi visit yesterday, Mr Modi visited the historic Tulsi Manas temple in the evening. He released a postal stamp on “Ramayana,” on this occasion.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said stamps have a special place in society. “They are a wonderful way to preserve our history,” he added. The Prime Minister also spoke of how the life and ideals of Lord Rama continue to inspire everyone. He later visited the Durga Mata Temple and Durga Kund.
 
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Modi files papers from Varanasi; vows to clean up Ganga, serve weavers

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday filed his nomination papers for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and vowed to turn it into the spiritual capital of the world, clean up the mighty Ganga river and put its famed weavers back on the road to prosperity.

 
Modi files his nomination papers from Varanasi
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi today filed his nomination papers for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections from  Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and vowed to turn it into the spiritual capital of the world, clean up the mighty Ganga river and put its famed weavers back on the road to prosperity.
 
"Mother Ganga has called me to Varanasi. I don't think anyone has sent me here nor have I come here. Like a child returning to his mother's arms, I have come here to Ganga," he told mediapersons outside the district collectorate before filing his papers.
 
Mr Modi's main rivals in Varanasi are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and local Congress leader Ajay Rai.
 
Well-known classical vocalist Channulal Mishra, retired Allahabad High Court judge Giridhar Malaviya, a boatman Virbhadra Nishad and Ashok, a weaver, were among those who signed Mr Modi's nomination papers as proposers.
 
Senior BJP leaders Amit Shah, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Mr Modi is also contesting for a seat in the Lok Sabha from Vadodara in Gujarat, where his main rival is senior Congress leader Madhusudhan Mistry. 
 
Vadodara will go to the polls on April 30, while Varanasi will vote on May 12 in the final round of the nine-phase elections.
 
“The Modi wave in the country has turned into a tsunami after Mr Modi filed  his papers from here today and it will wipe out all other parties such as the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress in Uttar Pradesh,” Mr Shah, one of Mr Modi’s closest confidants, told reporters later.
 
Earlier, Mr Modi, 63, arrived in Varanasi this morning to a resounding welcome by thousands of his party's supporters who lined up both sides of the streets on his route to the collectorate. On the way, he paid tributes at the statues of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the renowned educationist, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister. Incidentally, Mr Giridhar Malaviya is a grandson of Madan Mohan Malaviya.
 
Mr Modi, who has been the Chief Minister of Gujarat since late 2001, told reporters that he had been able to change the fortunes of kite makers, who are mainly Muslims, in his state by modernising the industry and introducing new technology and marketing tools and was confident he would be able to achieve similar changes for the weaver community of Varanasi, again made up largely of Muslims.
 
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He also spoke about his success in cleaning up the Sabarmati river that flows through Ahmedabad, the main city of Gujarat, and building a modern waterfront there, and hoped to develop the Ganga in Varanasi in similar fashion.
 
"Varanasi is the cradle of India’s glorious culture, a confluence of tradition, history, culture and harmony. This is the blessed land of the Sankat Mochan temple. The spiritual power of this land is exceptional. It drew people from all over the world, who came to this land in search of peace and Moksha. It was in Sarnath, that Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining Enlightenment. Varanasi is the birthplace of the venerable Sant Ravidas. It was in Benaras that Mahatma Kabir was born, lived and shared his wisdom. Mirza Ghalib described Benaras as ‘Kaba-E-Hindustan’ and ‘Chirag-E-Dair’ or the light of the world.  When Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya had to select a place to set up a centre of learning, it was not a surprise that he chose Benaras. No mention of Varanasi is complete without remembering (shehnai player) Ustad Bismillah Khan, arguably the greatest symbol of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. Ustad Bismillah Khan Sahab’s love for Varanasi is legendary," Mr Modi said in his blog today before he reached Varanasi.
 
"We envision Varanasi as a World Heritage Site that is able to draw both devotees and those who wish to understand and absorb India’s culture. This means creating state-of-the-art tourist and infrastructure facilities for Varanasi. And it is my firm belief that once we are able to give the required impetus to tourism, it will not only bring more tourists but also enhance the livelihood of the poorest of the poor. More tourists means more income for those associated with temples, those who are living on the Ghats, those who ride the ferries on the Ganga…the entire town and surrounding areas will receive a much needed facelift," he said.
 
"Ganga is the lifeline of Varanasi and is at the core of our identity- She is our Mother. Unfortunately, governments have not been able to devote the attention that should have been given to Ganga. The condition of the Ganga in several parts of UP is pitiable. We can’t let this go on anymore! Need of the hour is to work towards cleaning the Ganga and restoring it to its previous glory. In 1986 the Government of the day brought the Ganga Action Plan but it merely remained a plan, the action was missing. Budgets were allocated but the money was never used for the intended purpose. The condition of the Varuna too is similar. Now is the time for urgent action to solve this anomaly!
 
"And when I talk about my commitment to clean the Ganga, it is not a mere promise. When I took over as CM in 2001 the condition of Sabarmati was similar. It was better known for hosting circuses and children playing cricket. Switch to 2014 and things are very different! We have brought water from the Narmada and now water flows through the Sabarmati. A world class Sabarmati River Front was created, which has emerged as a popular recreation and cultural spot in Ahmedabad. With the blessings of Baba Bholenath, this is what we intend to replicate in Varanasi.
 
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"It is not only the Ganga that has become the victim of sheer negligence. We are firm in our commitment to address the issues of cleanliness in Varanasi so that we can give the citizens of Varanasi a clean and green city. We will focus on solid waste management right from collecting the waste to treating it. Similarly, the poor waste disposal practices over the years have not served the people of Varanasi well. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that such occurrences are history within a very short period of time. Within a fixed timeframe, the problems of solid waste management, sewer and chemical waste will be successfully mitigated," he said.
 
Mr Modi said the weavers of Varanasi had suffered due to apathy of the governments in Delhi and Lucknow.
 
"It is my firm resolve to infuse this sector with latest technology and qualitative value addition so that the weavers of Varanasi become our pride at the world level. From ensuring that they get quality raw material to better marketing of their products, it is my resolve to ensure that they stand on their own feet with pride and their future generations have a bright future," he added.
 
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BHU student shot dead on campus, 4 arrested

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A Banaras Hindu University (BHU) student was shot dead on the campus in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi, leading to tensions, police said, adding that four men have been arrested.
 
On Tuesday night, four bike-borne men opened fire at Guarav Singh near the Birla A intersection on the university campus, Circle Officer, Varanasi Cantonment, Anil Kumar Singh told IANS.
 
"It was a case of personal enmity," Kumar said.
 
Immediately after the incident, police raided the BHU hostels and surrounding area and nabbed the accused, he added.
 
The slain student was pursuing Master in Computer Application (MCA) and was jailed in 2018 for his involvement in a fight in December 2017. He was expelled from the college later.
 
According to the students, Singh was talking to his friends when the bike-borne assailants gunned him down at around 7 p.m.
 
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BHU student murder: Tension on campus, 4 arrested

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A Banaras Hindu University (BHU) student has been murdered, leading to tension on the campus, police said, adding that four men have been detained so far.
 
The murder took place within the premises of the university late on Tuesday near the Birla A crossroads, when four men on motorbikes opened fire at Guarav Singh, Varanasi Cantt CO Anil Kumar Singh told IANS.
 
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Who let Nirav Modi escape, Priyanka asks BJP

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for describing the arrest of absconding PNB loan fraud case accused Nirav Modi in London as an achievement, asking who let him flee.
 
"Is it an achievement? Who let them escape from the country?" she said.
 
Speaking to reporters in Chandauli after visiting the family of Awadhesh Yadav, who was among the 40 CRPF troopers killed in February 14 suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, she said that her visit was not political.
 
"...I had spoken to the father of the trooper some days after the attack. He had said to me that 'you people come as we want to meet you'. Thus I had come. My visit to his house is not connected to politics," she said.
 
Asked about her three-day river ride campaign in eastern Uttar Pradesh, of which region she is the in-charge for her party, Vadra said, "It felt nice. And I feel that the organisation will be strengthened here and people will come to know that we believe in strong and new kind of politics."
 
Vadra's journey, which began in Prayagraj on Monday, ended in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Modi, on Wednesday. 
 
Asked when she is planning to kick off the second part of her Lok Sabha campaign, she said it will be "soon after Holi".
 
Before going to Chandauli, Vadra offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi for over half an hour.
 
It was her fourth temple visit since March 18, when she kicked off her river ride from Prayagraj.
 
On Monday, she visited the famous Hanuman Mandir in Prayagraj, followed by trips to the Sita Samahit Sthal temple in Bhadohi's Sitamarhi and the Vindhyavashini temple in Vindhyachal on the second day of her campaign. She also offered a 'chadar' at Kantit Sharif dargah on Tuesday.
 
She had arrived at the Vishwanath temple after deboarding from the motorboat at Dashavamedh ghat in Varanasi.
 
Reaching Ramnagar village, the ancestral village of late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, in Varanasi by road from Chunar in Mirzapur, where she had made a night halt on Tuesday, Vadra then went by boat to Assi ghat where she held discussions with the fishermen community.
 
She also paid floral tributes to the former Prime Minister at Shastri Chowk and visited his residence. 
 
A minor scuffle broke out between Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party workers after the latter raised pro-Modi slogans.
 
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Vadra later condemned the violence.
 
"When I was coming to Varanasi, few people raised slogans for the BJP... then people slapped them. We don't believe in such kind of politics. The Congress workers had been beaten by the Britishers. We took all the pain and didn't raise our hand (in return) but only tried to bring the truth," she said.
 
She also accused Modi of not fulfilling any of the eight promises made to the people of the city, citing the BJP's manifesto for Varanasi in 2014.
 
"This politics of advertisements is easy and it can be done by anyone," she said.
 
Vadra, before leaving Chunar in the morning, had also accused the BJP of systematically attacking every democratic institution in the country and advised the Prime Minister to "stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through all his antics".
 
She also said that she was not afraid.
 
"Even if anything is done, and we are harassed, we will not feel afraid. We will continue our fight against them. The more we are harassed, the stronger will be our fight," she said.
 
Vadra, who was followed by Congress workers raising slogans like "Gali gali me shor hai, chowkidar chor hai" and "Dahan karne Modi ki Lanka, aa gai behen Priyanka", also seemed to have struck a chord with locals, many of whom pointed out her resemblance to her grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
 
Sanjay Kumar said, "Her arrival augurs a change. People are looking for a new ideology. Now people want to get away from the politics of temple and mosque."
 
"We have felt helpless in the last five years, we feel cheated by the government," he added.
 
Shahnawaz told IANS, "The BJP has not lived up to our expectations. We see a hope in Priyanka Gandhi and the Congress."
 
IANS
 

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Priyanka to reach Varanasi on third day of river ride

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
On the third-day of her campaign along the river Ganga on Wednesday, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will visit former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's memorial in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, Varanasi.
 
Speaking to reporters before beginning her day, she said, "BJP has systematically attacked every institution in the country in the last five years. You all know it better than I do. So I think the Prime Minister should stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through all his antics."
 
According to party workers, Priyanka, who is also Congress in-charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, will interact with her party workers at a guest house in Chunar before leaving for Shastri Memorial by road in Ramnagar.
 
She will then arrive at Ramnagar ghat to take the boat ride to Assi Ghat, where she will interact with the fishermen, the Jain community as well as women.
 
The Congress leader will then reach Dashashwamedh Ghat by motor boat and go to the Vishwanath Temple to offer her prayers.
 
This will be Priyanka's fourth temple visit since March 18, when she kicked off her river ride from Prayagraj on Monday.
 
On Monday, she visited the famous Hanuman Mandir in Prayagraj, followed by trips to the Sita Samahit Sthal temple in Bhadohi's Sitamarhi on day two of her campaign and the Vindhyavashini temple in Vindhyachal thereafter. She also offered a chadar at Kantit Sharif dargah on Tuesday.
 
The Congress leader will then meet her party workers in Varanasi and leave to visit the homes of three Central Reserve Force Police (CRPF) troopers, who died on February 14 attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
 
She will meet the family members of Avadhesh Yadav in Chandauli district.
 
On her way back to Varanasi, she will meet the families of Vishal Pandey and Ramesh Yadav.
 
The Congress leader will then return to the Varanasi airport to leave for Delhi.
 
IANS
 

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Likened to Indira as people still love her: Priyanka

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (FIle photo: IANS)
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Tuesday said that people compared her looks with her grandmother Indira Gandhi as they still remember the late Prime Minister with respect for the work she had done for them.
 
She also countered the Bharatiya Janata Party's allegations about elections as a picnic for the Gandhi family, saying that she has not been to Italy in last three to four years. 
 
Reaching the Chunar ghat in the evening, she paid tribute to Nishad community leader Raj Nishad at the river bank.
 
Also holding a small road show for the party's Mirzapur candidate Lalitesh Pati Tripathi, the great-grandson of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Union Minister Kamalapati Tripathi, Gandhi hugged and interacted with several women party workers at the Chunar ghat before ending her second day's programme.
 
Earlier in the day, addressing a large gathering waiting for her since afternoon at the Sindaura ghat, she said, "Many people say that I look like my grandmother. You compare us because you have a lot of love and respect for her because she had done a lot of work for you all."
 
She also hit out at the Narendra Modi government for not fulfilling the promises it made to the people.
 
During her river journey from Bhatoli ghat to Sindaura, Gandhi even switched to a smaller boat so that she could interact with the people residing near the Ganga's banks.
 
As the sun was setting, the people switched on the flashlight of their mobile phones and she went to meet them by taking her motorboat near the banks.
 
The Congress leader, who also visited the Vindhyavasini Devi Temple, eight kilometres from here, earlier faced pro-Modi slogans from BJP supporters gathered outside as she reached there.
 
As Gandhi, who was clad in a red sari, got out of her car, hundreds of BJP workers started shouting the slogans and continued even as she entered the temple. Most of the people in the crowd were regular worshippers, who were stopped from entering the temple due to her visit.
 
Even shops and other establishments near the temple had to down their shutters.
 
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Gandhi, who spent some 20 minutes praying at the temple, however, remained unperturbed.
 
As the sloganeering continued, she drove off to offer a chadar at the Kantit Sharief dargah nearby where there was a huge crowd outside waiting to meet her. Most had arrived at 7 a.m., they claimed.
 
Meeting media in Bhadohi, Gandhi asked what the Modi government had done in the last five years.
 
"Be it farmers, youth or anybody, no one is satisfied with the government. Together they will change the government this year," she said.
 
Asked to comment on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's claim that since the Congress was to blame for the state's backwardness since it had ruled the state the most after Independence, she hit back, saying "this 'what they did in last 70 years' has an expiry date."
 
"Now the BJP should tell the people what it did in the last five years. Shiksha mitras and Anganwadi workers did not get anything. The BJP had announced Rs 17,000 per month for them.
 
"It is good to produce report cards but what has actually happened? There is nothing on the ground. I am meeting people daily, they are distressed," Gandhi said.
 
The younger sibling of party chief Rahul Gandhi is on a three-day boat ride on the Ganga as part of the Lok Sabha election campaign that will end on Wednesday in Varanasi, Modi's parliamentary constituency.
 
Having set out from Prayagraj on Monday in a specially-built vessel with supporters, Priyanka Gandhi, who is the party's in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, began the day after offering prayers at the Sita Samahit Sthal temple in Sitamarhi.
 
She also held a meeting with party workers and leaders at the Sitamarhi guest house, where she had halted for the night on Monday. She also met several other delegations including that of the weaver community, Shiksha Mitra, and Anganwadi workers in the area.
 
Shivam Dubey, a party leader who attended the meeting, told IANS: "We will work hard to ensure that the Congress is strengthened and wins with a huge majority."
 
She will again commence her river ride on Wednesday from Chunar ghat and arrive in Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi.
 
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Priyanka Vadra kicks off 2019 LS campaign from Prayagraj

Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra embarking on a boat ride from  Manaiya ghat in Kachnar tehsil of Prayagraj to Varanasi, on March 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra embarking on a boat ride from Manaiya ghat in Kachnar tehsil of Prayagraj to Varanasi, on March 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
With less than a month to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra kicked off her political campaign from here on Monday.
 
Vadra left Swaraj Bhawan, her ancestral home, and arrived at the Bade Hanuman Mandir, popular as 'Lete huye Hanuman Mandir' near Prayagraj Sangam.
 
She offered prayers at the temple, as well as to the river Ganga.
 
She then embarked on her much anticipated boat ride from the Manaiya Ghat in Kachnar tehsil of Prayagraj district, according to party leaders.
 
On the first day of her three-day river ride from Prayagraj to Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she will cover the distance up to Sitamarhi ghat in Bhadohi district.
 
On her way from Manaiya to Sitamarhi, she will make her first pit stop at Dumduma ghat and interact with the villagers.
 
The 47-year-old younger sibling of Congress President Rahul Gandhi will also hold discussions with students onboard the boat that are being called "Sanchi baat". 
 
Priyanka Gandhi is also supposed to meet the family members of a slain Central Reserve Police Force trooper, who died in the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
 
After leaving Dumduma ghat, the Congress leader will reach Sirsa ghat and then also visit the Lakshagrih ghat.
 
She is expected to reach Sitamarhi ghat in the evening.
 
On Sunday, she held marathon meetings with party workers at the Nehru Bhawan, the party's state headquarters in Lucknow. 
 
Congress had won only two seats from the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
IANS
 

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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.
 
IANS
 

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Modi launches development projects in Ghaziabad, Kanpur

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched various development projects in Ghaziabad and Kanpur and attended the National Women Livelihood Meet 2019 in his constituency Varanasi during a day's visit to Uttar Pradesh.
 
In Ghaziabad, Modi unveiled a plaque to mark the inauguration of the Civil Terminal of Hindon Airport. He then visited Sikandarpur and laid the foundation stone of Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System. 
 
He also launched various other development projects and distributed certificates to the beneficiaries of various Government schemes.
 
The Prime Minister visited the Shaheed Sthal (New Bus terminus) Metro Station in Ghaziabad and flagged off the metro rail service from Shaheed Sthal Station to Dilshad Garden. He also took a ride in the train.
 
Addressing a public meeting at Sikandarpur in Ghaziabad, he said Ghaziabad was today know by three Cs: Connectivity, Cleanliness and Capital. In this context, he mentioned about increased road and metro connectivity, the city’s 13th rank in Swachh Survekshan rankings and its stature as a business hub of Uttar Pradesh.
 
With the new Civil Terminal in Hindon Airport, people of Ghaziabad can take off to other cities from Ghaziabad itself, instead of going to Delhi. The new metro service from Shaheed Sthal will reduce the sufferings of travellers between Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
 
Being built at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore, the Delhi-Meerut RRTS system will be the first such transport system in India. Once completed, it will considerably reduce the travel time between Delhi and Meerut. 
 
About the benefits of the newly-launched Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana, he said the scheme will provide financial security for informal sector workers during their old age. More than two crore farmers have received their first instalment under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, he added.
 
During his visit to Kanpur, the Prime Minister inaugurated the Lucknow Metro Rail project and laid the foundation stone of Agra Metro Rail project. He also laid the foundation stone of Panki Thermal Power plant and unveiled plaques to mark the launch of various development projects at Niralanagar.
 
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Addressing the gathering, Modi said Kanpur was the birthplace of many brave leaders who have contributed immensely for the country. The Panki Thermal power plant, once completed, will end the power deficit situation in Kanpur and Uttar Pradesh. Under the Saubhagya scheme, more than 76 lakh free electricity connections have been provided in the State.
 
About the initiatives taken by the Union Government to clean the River Ganga, he said that it was earlier thought to be an impossible task. Due to several measures taken by the government, including the blocking of drains that discharged waste into the Ganga and treatment of sewage, the water quality has improved. 
 
Referring to the Defence Corridor coming up in Uttar Pradesh, he said it will greatly benefit the people of Kanpur. Major infrastructure development was taking place in the State in the form of roads, air and rail connectivity, besides the various metro rail projects in the cities. 
 
He reiterated that by 2022, every single family in the country will have a house. Under PM Awas Yojana, around 1.5 crore houses have been built in the country so far.
 
Modi paid respects to the brave soldiers from Kanpur who lost their lives in Pulwama attack and Budgam plane crash. He said the Union Government was taking strong action against terrorism.
 
The Prime Minister said that it is important to maintain an atmosphere of unity in the country. He appreciated the quick action taken by the Uttar Pradesh Government against those who had attacked Kashmiris recently. He urged all the State Governments to take stern action against anyone who perpetrated such acts.
 
Later, in Varanasi, Modi attended the National Women Livelihood Meet-2019, held at Deendayal Hastkala Sankul on International Women’s Day.
 
He visited the exhibition on products manufactured by Self Help Groups aided by Uttar Pradesh Rural Livelihood Mission. He distributed Electric Chaak, Solar Charkha and Honey Warp to women beneficiaries and appreciation letters to five women Self Help Groups. 
 
Various women Self Help Groups supported by Deendayal Anthodia Yojana, NRLM-Uttar Pradesh, handed over a cheque of Rs.21 lakh to the Prime Minister as their contribution towards ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ Fund.
 
Paying his respect to all women on International Women’s Day, Modi said the women have an important role in creating a New India. He expressed happiness that more than 65 lakh women from around 75,000 locations were participating in the event through video conference. He added that Varanasi was a shining example of women empowerment.
 
Reiterating the Government’s total commitment towards the empowerment of women, he listed the various schemes initiated by the Union Government for the welfare of women and girl children. These covered the fields of health, nutrition, sanitation, education, skill development, self-employment, new gas connections and also on ensuring the safety and security of women. The maternity leave of six months introduced by the government is one of the best in the world.
 
Women were being given priority in all Union Government schemes. They have been beneficiaries in 11 crores out of the 15 crores Mudra Loans given so far, he added.
 
Appreciating the exceptional work done by Self Help Groups (SHGs) in India, he said their work was not only resulting in the betterment of their family but also leading to the development of the nation. The government was giving new energy to the SHGs in terms of better bank loans and support systems. Around 50 lakh SHGs covering around six crore women were now present in the country. He said that the vision of his government was to connect at least one women member in every family with an SHG.
 
The Prime Minister urged the SHGs to be innovative and understand their market better. He asked them to utilize the GEM portal to sell their products to the Government. 
 
He asked women to fully utilize the recently launched Pradhan Mantri Shram Maan-Dhan Yojana, as it provides financial security during old age. He mentioned about the benefits of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi and Ayushman Bharat Yojana. Later, he also interacted with the members of the Self Help Groups in Varanasi.
 
During the visit, Modi offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Addressing a gathering at the temple after a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony, he said he was blessed to be associated with the project of Kashi Vishwanath Dham. 
 
He complimented the officers involved with the project, for performing their task with devotion. He thanked all the people who had property around the temple, and have allowed its acquisition for the project.
 
He said the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has survived the vicissitudes of centuries. He praised Queen Ahiyabai Holkar for her work on the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, over two centuries ago. Since then, not much thought had been given by those in power, to the entire area around the temple.
 
About 40 temples near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple had encroached upon over time, have now been freed of that encroachment. The entire Temple complex is now in the process of rejuvenation, and the results are becoming visible. A direct link is being established between the River Ganga and Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
 
This project will become a model for similar projects elsewhere and provide a new global identity to Kashi, he added.
 
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Modi unveils development projects worth Rs 3350 crore in Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled development projects worth Rs. 3350 crore in Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, today. 
 
These projects pertain to various sectors such as health, sanitation, smart city, connectivity, power, housing and others. Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were present on the occasion.
 
At the outset, Modi paid tributes to Ramesh Yadav from Varanasi, who was among those killed in the Pulwama terror attack.
 
Addressing a public gathering at Aaure village on the outskirts of the city, he said the Government was working on two fronts to give a boost to development. The first one relates to building infrastructure like Highways and Railways while the other is to ensure that the benefits of development reach the people. Several announcement were made in the Budget to this effect, he said.
 
Speaking about the projects unveiled here, he said this was an effort towards making Varanasi an important centre of New India. In this context, he mentioned the locomotive flagged off at DLW, earlier in the day and said this initiative under Make in India will help in strengthening the capacity and speed of Indian Railways. 
 
He said that, over the last four and half years various steps were taken to transform Railways, and India's first semi High-Speed Train, Vande Bharat Express that runs between New Delhi and Varanasi, is one such example. 
 
These projects will not only ease transportation but also lead to setting up of new enterprises in Varanasi, Purvanchal and nearby areas.
 
He distributed certificates to the beneficiaries of various schemes. He also released a commemorative postage stamp on completion of 100 years of IIT BHU.
 
The Prime Minister said BHU Cancer Centre and Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Lahartara will provide advanced treatment to patients from Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and other nearby states.
 
About Ayushman Bharat, he said around 38,000 people have already availed the benefits in Uttar Pradesh. Around 1.20 crore families in the state will benefit from the scheme.
 
The PM Kisan Samman Nidha Yojana will benefit about 2.25 crore poor farmers in Uttar Pradesh. Yet another scheme for farmers was the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Ayog, for conservation protection and development of cows and their progeny.
 
He expressed appreciation for on time completion of projects for which foundation stones were laid earlier in Varanasi. He distributed Aids & Assistive Devices to Divyangjans.
 
Modi visited the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) where he unveiled a statue of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya along with the murals of Varanasi Ghats. He offered floral tributes at statue of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya.
 
He also inaugurated Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Hospital and Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Lahartara. These Hospitals will provide comprehensive treatment to the patients from UP and neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar.
 
The Prime Minister dedicated to the nation, Bhabhatron, the indigenous telecobalt machine, one of the successful products developed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai for cancer treatment.
 
He visited Day Care Unit & OPD and interacted with the patients. Mr Modi also interacted with the beneficiaries of PMJAY- Ayushman Bharat.
 
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India, Mauritius discuss ways of expanding cooperation

 
Modi meets Mauritius PM Pravind Jugnauth
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Jugnauth for bilateral talks on the sidelines of the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention and discussed ways of expanding cooperation between the two countries in areas such as the Blue Economy and collaboration in Africa.
 
Mr. Jugnauth is the chief guest at the convention, which was formally inaugurated earlier in the day by Mr. Modi.
 
"The discussions were very warm and cordial given the extremely close and friendly relations between both countries," a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said.
 
The two Prime Ministers reviewed the entire gamut of the long-standing and time-tested strategic relationship between both countries, based on deep emotional bonds of kinship and culture. 
 
The leaders noted with satisfaction that India and Mauritius have always stood by each other and will continue to do so in the decades to come. 
 
The discussions focussed on initiatives to further strengthen the bilateral ties, including finalization of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Partnership Agreement (CEPCA). The various ongoing bilateral development cooperation projects were discussed and new proposals for critical partnership projects in health, disaster management and energy were agreed upon. 
 
Mr. Modi hosted a lunch in honour of Mr. Jugnauth and other foreign dignitaries participating in PBD 2019.
 
Mr. Jugnauth is accompanied on the visit by his spouse Mrs. Kobita Jugnauth as well as an official delegation comprising Cabinet Ministers including Minister of Information Technology Yogida Swamynaden, Education Minister Leela Devi Dookun, Culture Minister Prithvirajsing Roopun and other senior officials including the Cabinet Secretary of Mauritius.
 
Over three hundred and fifty other Mauritian delegates are also participating in PBD 2019.
 
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Yesterday, Mr. Jugnauth had received Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi. The Minister reiterated that India accords great importance to the steady development of umbilical relations between our two countries. 
 
Mr. Prabhu noted that the early finalization CECPA would pave the way for giving a strong impetus to our close bilateral economic partnership.
 
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also called on the visiting dignitary in Varanasi. She noted that India-Mauritius bilateral cooperation was comprehensive and multi-faceted and that our bonds date back centuries. 
 
"Our close multifaceted relations have steadily developed over the years, based on the secure foundations of kinship and family ties, and of shared values of democracy, tolerance, peace and development," she said.
 
Mr. Jugnauth will call on Indian President Ram Nath Kovind here tomorrow.
 
The Mauritian Prime Minister will visit Prayagraj on January 24 for the  Kumbh Mela and then proceed to Mumbai. He is scheduled to inaugurate the wholly owned subsidiary of the State Bank of Mauritius (SBM). 
 
In December 2018, SBM became the first foreign bank to receive a license from RBI to set up universal banking business in India through Wholly Owned Subsidiary (WOS) mode, rather than as a foreign bank branch. He will attend a bilateral business forum on January 25 in Mumbai.
 
Prime Minister Jugnauth will also be the Guest of Honour at the official celebrations to mark the Republic Day in Mumbai.
 
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PM inaugurates Centres of Excellence at Deen Dayal Hastkala Sankul in Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated Centres of Excellence at the Deen Dayal Hastkala Sankul, a complex dedicated to the handicrafts of the region. 
 
Arriving at the venue directly from the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations, the Prime Minister unveiled a plaque to mark the inauguration of 55 outlets which would serve as Centres of Excellence. 
 
He walked through the various galleries of the Textiles Museum, before arriving at the amphitheatre in the complex.
 
Here, he released two books titled ‘Kashi: The Universe of Crafts and Textiles’ and ‘Indian Textiles: History, Splendour, Grandeur.’
 
He also unveiled a plaque to mark the inauguration of an Integrated Textile Office Complex, at Chowkaghat in the pilgrim city.
 
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Special arrangements for “Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas” delegates at Kumbh Mela

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Special arrangements have been made for delegates attending the “Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas”-- the high-profile convention of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) -- at the Kumbh Mela here.
 
The 15th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas is scheduled to commence in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on January 21. Around 10,000 participants are expected to attend the convention. 
 
The delegates will arrive in Prayagraj on January 24 to be the part of ongoing largest spiritual gathering on earth, the Kumbh, where arrangements are in place for holy bathing at Sangam. 
 
From there the delegates will travel to Delhi to witness the 70th Republic Day event.
 
Ganga Mahotsav, an annual cultural event showcasing culture and heritage, is being also organised during January 21 to 23 at Ganga Ghats by the Uttar Pradesh government. 
 
Ganga Arti at Ghat of Kashi is well known among tourists. A special area has been reserved for PBD guests to enable them to witness and enjoy various events at the venues.
 
Varanasi has geared up to welcome delegates from all over the world who will participate in “Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas”.
 
"This vibrant and colourful convention is meant to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Union Government and reconnect them with their roots," an official press release said.
 
This will be the 15th edition of the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas (PBD) organized at an interval of two years now, though it was originally an annual event.
 
During the Convention, selected overseas Indians are also honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to recognize their contributions to various fields both in India and abroad.
 
The theme of PBD Convention 2019 is "Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India". The venue will be the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) and Craft Museum at Bada Lalpur in Varanasi. 
 
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We pursue development-oriented politics, says Modi in Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called for development-oriented politics and said that the people were now voting on the basis of development and were no longer interested in vote-bank politics.
 
Addressing a gathering at Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, after inaugurating several development projects, the Prime Minister said the governments run by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) focused on development.
 
Announcing that he would be present at the UP-NRI Diwas in Varanasi in January, Modi pointed out that the face of Varanasi was changing fast, with its ancient culture intact. 
 
"Next-generation infrastructure projects are being introduced in Varanasi and I assure the people that in times to come the entire region will prosper," he said. 
 
"Everyone has a spiritual connect with Varanasi but now the links are being strengthened for Jal-Nabh-Thal (water, air and ground).
 
"Being the Pradhan Sewak and also the MP from Varanasi, I am happy to inform you that it is a matter of double joy for me that the first inland port has been inaugurated in Varanasi," Modi said. 
 
The inland waterways will not only make the people in Varanasi and Poorvanchal prosperous but also the people in Poorvottar Bharat and West Bengal.
 
Modi said that underground wire cabling was being done in the cities and the first phase of the inner ring road had been completed and inaugurated. 
 
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Sewage treatment plants (STPs) have been set in motion to ensure that the filth of the city does not fall into the Ganga and the road from the Babatpur International Airport had been widened, he added.
 
He also rued the fact that previous governments had failed to tap the potential that water bodies in the country offered. 
 
Modi informed the cheering crowd that work was underway on more than 100 waterways in the country. With the start of the Kolkata-Varanasi waterway, states like Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal will benefit immensely.
 
Other than making cleaner, environment-friendly transport possible, the use of waterways will also give a big impetus to the tourism sector. 
 
The widening of the Babatpur airport road, he underlined, will make travel to Jaunpur, Sultanpur, Lucknow much more convenient. 
 
The inauguration of the first phase of the inner ring road in Varanasi, built at a cost of Rs 760 crore, would ensure that there are fewer traffic congestions.
 
"In the last four years, modern infrastructure has been developed and it's before the people to see it... new airports, entry of rail network in north-east, places where Adivasis live, national highways, expressways network, better roads...our aim is all- round development to transform India," he said. 
 
The Centre has also worked on other needs of the people like cleanliness, health, and hygiene. 
 
He announced that in the first 40 days of the launch of the medical insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat, more than 40 lakh poor people had availed free treatment.
 
IANS
 

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Modi to inaugurate Multi-Modal Terminal on Ganga, sewage infra projects at Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation the newly constructed Multi-Modal Terminal on River Ganga in Varanasi on November 12.
 
This will be the first of the three Multi-Modal Terminals and two Inter-Modal Terminals being constructed on the river, an  official press release said.
 
The Prime Minister will receive India’s first container vessel that sailed from Kolkata on October 30, carrying cargo belonging to Pepsico (India).
 
In a separate event the same day, Mr Modi will inaugurate two National Highways projects – the Babatpur-Varanasi Airport road and Varanasi Ring Road. He will also inaugurate some sewerage projects in the city and lay the foundation stone for a project under the Namami Gange programme of National Mission for Clean Ganga.
 
The MMTs are being built as part of the Government’s Jal Marg Vikas project that aims to develop the stretch of River Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels up to 1500-2000 tonnes weight, by maintaining a drought of 2-3 metres in this stretch of the river and setting up other systems required for safe navigation.  
 
The objective is to promote inland waterways as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly means of transport, especially for cargo movement. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the project Implementing Agency.
 
The Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) is being implemented on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW-1) with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank, at an estimated cost of Rs 5,369.18 crore ($ 800 million, of which $ 375 is IBRD loan) on a 50:50 sharing basis between the Union Government and the World Bank. 
 
The project entails construction of three multi-modal terminals (Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia); two inter-modal terminals; five Roll On – Roll Off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs; new navigation lock at Farakka; assured depth dredging; integrated vessel repair & maintenance facility, Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS), River Information System (RIS), river training and river conservancy works.
 
Operation, management and further development of the Multi-Modal Terminal is proposed to be entrusted to an Operator on PPP model. Selection of the PPP Operator through an International Competitive Bidding is at an advanced stage and expected to be completed by December 2018.
 
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The project of the multi-modal terminal and proposed Freight Village at Varanasi are expected to generate 500 direct employment and more than 2000 indirect employment opportunities.
 
Mr Modi receiving the first container vessel also marks the first time post-independence container movement is taking place on an inland waterway in India. 
 
The IWAI vessel, MV Rabindranath Tagore is transporting 16 containers equivalent to as many truckloads of food and snacks and is expected to reach Varanasi on November 11. It will make its return journey with fertilizers from IFFCO.
 
In a separate function, Mr Modi will inaugurate a 140 MLD Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Dinapur built at a cost of Rs 235.53 crore. The project includes a 10-years Operation & Maintenance agreement.
 
The second project comprises three sewage pumping stations at Chaukaghat (140 MLD), Phulwaria (7.6 MLD) and Saraiya (3.7 MLD). The total cost is Rs 34.01 crore. 
 
The third project involves the construction of a 28 km-long relieving trunk sewer, rising mains and interceptor sewers along Varuna and Assi at a cost of Rs 155.87 crore.
 
The Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for Sewerage Management Scheme for Ramnagar at a cost of Rs 72.91 crore. This will include a10 MLD STP intersecting and diverting four drains.
 
The newly inaugurated sewerage projects will increase the sewage treatment capacity in the city from 102 MLD to 242 MLD. The long-term O&M provision will ensure that the STP will be operated and maintained properly. These projects will ensure treatment of 140 MLD the sewage before getting released in the river thereby reducing the pollution of the river Ganga.
 
These projects along with two other ongoing projects of 120 MLD at Goitha and 50 MLD STP at Ramana will take the sewage treatment capacity in the city to 412 MLD,  which will be adequate for the sewage treatment requirements till the year 2035.
 
There is no sewage treatment facility in the Ramnagar town. The Ramnagar project for which the foundation stone is being laid will intercept the four main drains of the town. The intercepted wastewater will be treated at the proposed 10 MLD STP, the release added.
 
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Two killed, two injured in Varanasi mall firing

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Two persons were killed and two others injured when a man opened fire at them at a mall here on Wednesday evening, police said. The assailant fled the crime scene as frightened people ran for cover.
 
The deceased have been identified as 26-year-old Gopi Kanaujia (salesman) of a showroom in the JHV Mall where the incident took place and Sunil Gaur (tailor), 45. Their bodies have been sent for post-mortem examination.
 
According to eyewitness accounts, the assailant was a student from a local educational institution and he was drunk. He, along with two of his friends, had first gone to a pizza outlet in the mall and then to a shoe store brandishing a pistol.
 
He warned the showroom manager about a person and threatened to kill him if he did not mend his ways. The shopkeepers around tried to overpower him as he was waving a pistol and there were hundreds of people in the mall. In the melee, his pistol was snatched by shopkeepers but he whipped out the pistol of another friend and opened fire, which killed the two persons.
 
The police have started a probe and are checking CCTV footage of the mall located in the Cantonment area of city. They got the mall immediately vacated and sealed the main entry and exit points in the locality.
 
The police also raided the student's hostel room but it was locked. 
 
The injured persons have been identified as Vishal Singh, 28, and Chandan, 31. They have been admitted to a medical facility where their condition is stated to be serious.
 
"A probe is underway on how weapons found their way inside the mall despite frisking at the entry point... Certainly, the security was lax," Varanasi Inspector General of Police Vijay Singh Meena said. 
 
Based on details provided by the people present at the mall, the police are trying to track down the assailant, Meena added.
 
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IWAI begins container movement on inland waterways

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The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) started transporting container cargo belonging to the food and beverage giant PepsiCo (India) from Kolkata to Varanasi for the first time on river Ganga (National Waterway-1) on Tuesday.
 
This marks post-independence India’s first container movement on an inland vessel and a milestone moment in the history IWT sector, an official press release said.
 
The 16 containers, equivalent to 16 truckloads, in the vessel MV RN Tagore will reach Varanasi in 9-10 days. MV RN Tagore will make its return journey with fertilizers belonging to IFFCO that will be procured from its Phulpur plant near Allahabad.
 
Secretary (Shipping), Gopal Krishna along with Chairman, IWAI, Pravir Pandey and other senior Government officials flagged off the vessel carrying the consignment in the presence of PepsiCo representatives.
 
The event coincided with another momentous day for IWT in India as IWAI’s first foray into Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model will become a reality with the handing over of operation and management of its terminals in Kolkata to Summit Alliance Port East Gateway (India) Pvt Ltd. (SAPEL) on a supply, operate and maintain (SOM) model.
 
"Container cargo transport comes with several inherent advantages. It reduces the handling cost, allows easier modal shift, reduces pilferages and damage, it also enables cargo owners to reduce their carbon footprints," the release said.
 
The government is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under JMVP from Haldia to Varanasi (1390 Km) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs 5369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with a capacity of 1500-2,000 DWT.
 
Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari had flagged off a consignment of Maruti cars from Varanasi to Haldia in August 2016. Since then pilot movements on National Waterways are currently being done on various stretches. More than 15 of them have already been successfully completed, including integrated movements through NW-1 (Ganga), Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route and NW-2 (Brahmaputra), the release added.
 
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Modi inaugurates key development projects in Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated or laid the foundation stone for several important development projects at a public gathering in Banaras Hindu University (BHU) here yesterday.
 
Among the projects inaugurated were the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) for Puraani Kashi; and an Atal Incubation Centre at BHU. Among the projects for which the Foundation Stone was laid, is the Regional Ophthalmology Centre at BHU.
 
The cumulative value of all these projects is more than Rs 550 crore. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Modi said the efforts to bring about change in Varanasi, were also aimed at preserving the city’s rich heritage.
 
He referred to the various projects in the power, road and other infrastructure sectors, which have progressed significantly, and brought about an improvement in the lives of the people in the city of Varanasi, and nearby areas.
 
He said he felt very happy when he saw citizens post pictures of Varanasi Cantonment Station online. He mentioned the work being done towards modernization of transport infrastructure. He also spoke of the work being done towards cleanliness and enhancing the visual appeal of the city. This move, which will transform tourism, was a continuing effort. In this context, he also mentioned the work being done in Sarnath.
 
The Prime Minister said basic facilities such as roads, electricity and water, were being extended to the rural areas surrounding Varanasi as well. Kashi is now emerging as a health hub. Referring to the Atal Incubation Centre that was among the newly-inaugurated, he said startups were already beginning to get connected with It. Varanasi was also among the select cities in the country where Piped Cooking Gas was being made available.
 
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Modi turns teacher for school children at Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who turned 68 on Monday, donned the hat of a teacher during his visit to Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency, as he interacted with students at a primary school in Narur village here and gave them tips on life.
 
Soon after his arrival at the Babatpur airport where he was received by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and senior BJP leaders, he went on a chopper to Dereka from where he drove straight to the primary school and told children that sports is an integral part of development in formative years and that they should "go out and play".
 
He also told the students, who gifted him red roses, that they should not shy away from asking questions as doing so "is a key aspect of learning". 
 
Greeting students on the Vishwakarma Puja, the Prime Minister also told the neatly dressed school children that it is important for them to understand the significance of skill development.
 
"It is important to learn various skills as this will help you for ever," Modi told the wide-eyed students who appeared elated at the fact that the Prime Minister was amidst them. 
 
After spending some 30 minutes with the children, he drove back to Dereka where he would be spending the night at a guest house.
 
The Prime Minister earlier had a brief interaction with Aanganwadi workers who carried banners to thank Modi for increasing their daily wages. He mingled with them freely and enquired about their work, families and their issues. He also told them that they should become "Yashoda Maiyya" for thousands of children who need attention and better healthcare.
 
Modi is scheduled to meet some students of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) late in the evening. Some local party leaders and workers are also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister, apprise him of some local issues and wish him on his 68th birthday. He will also be paying a late-night visit to the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple and seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
 
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Prime Minister Modi has been a regular visitor to the temple.
 
He is scheduled to gift many projects worth over Rs 500 crore to the people of his parliamentary constituency on Tuesday. 
 
The entire city has been decked up on the occasion. A large 68-kg cake of "laddoos" was cut by burqa-clad women at the Azam Park in Lahurabir locality here. Many of the women were from the minority wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
The women also sang the happy birthday song for their MP and prayed for his long and healthy life. The intellectual wing of the ruling party held a 108-litre "Kesar Jal" "Rudrabhishek" along with milk of the holy Ganga river at the Ahilyabai Ghat and prayers were held for a long life of Modi.
 
A "68-Kundalini Mahayajna" was also organized at the Panini Girls Degree College.
 
Girls took part in this yajna and offered "Aahutis" as they said Prime Minister Modi has done a lot of things for empowerment of girls. Girl students also held a birthday bash for the Prime Minister at the Agrasen Kanya PG College's Bulanala campus. Cake was distributed on this occasion.
 
Some schools and colleges have undertaken a cleanliness drive and programmes of Yoga to mark the birthday of Modi. Tea parties have also been organized in some localities.
 
IANS
 

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Modi to visit Varanasi on September 17-18

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a two-day visit to his Parliamentary constituency Varanasi from tomorrow.
 
On arrival in the city tomorrow afternoon, Mr Modi will head directly for Narur village, where he will interact with children of a primary school who are being aided by the non-profit organisation "Room to Read."
 
Later, at the DLW campus, the Prime Minister will interact with students of Kashi Vidyapeeth and children assisted by them.
 
The next day, at the BHU Amphitheatre, he will inaugurate or lay the foundation stone for various development projects, cumulatively worth more than Rs. 500 crore.
 
Among the projects to be inaugurated are Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) for Puraani Kashi; and an Atal Incubation Centre at BHU. Among the projects for which the Foundation Stone will be laid, is the Regional Ophthalmology Centre at BHU. The Prime Minister will also address the gathering, an official press release added.
 
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2019 Indian diaspora conclave to be bigger affair

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The 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the External Affairs Ministry-organised conclave of Indian diaspora, to be held in Varanasi from January 21 to 23, 2019, will be a bigger affair than all the past editions with a couple of more programmes being added, it was announced on Saturday.
 
Speaking at the launch of the official website for the event here, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that in addition to attending the three-day PBD in Varanasi, the participants will also be taken to Allahabad where the Kumbh Mela will be going on then and then brought to New Delhi for the Republic Day celebrations.
 
Giving details of the programme, Sushma Swaraj said that on January 21, a Youth PBD will be held where Himanshu Gulati, an Indian-origin member of parliament of Norway will be the chief guest and Kanwaleet Singh Bakshi, also an Indian-origin member of parliament of New Zealand will be the guest of honour.
 
On January 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the main event with Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth, who is also of Indian-origin, attending as the chief guest.
 
The event will conclude on January 23 with a valedictory session that will be addressed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
 
During the session, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman will be conferred on 30 Indian-origin individuals for their exceptional and meritorious contributions in their chosen fields or professions. 
 
"On January 24, we will take the participants to Prayagraj (as Allahabad is also known) for the Kumbh Mela, which has been inscribed on the Unesco's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity," Sushma Swaraj said.
 
Following this, the participants will be brought to New Delhi by special trains to take part in the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
 
After being an annual event for 13 consecutive years starting in 2003 at the initiative of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, PBD was turned into a biannual affair after the 2015 edition in Gandhinagar.
 
After the 2017 edition held in Bengaluru, the External Affairs Ministry has now roped in Uttar Pradesh as the partner state with Varanasi as the host city.
 
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Giving the rationale behind turning PBD into a biannual affair, Sushma Swaraj said that after the 2015 edition, she realised that PBD was not yielding much in terms of results as an annual affair.
 
"So, I suggested to the Prime Minister that it should be held every two years with the intervening year being used to hold meetings with groups of diaspora members on various issues and he agreed," she said.
 
Though the earlier editions were three-day affairs ending on January 9, the day Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa, on January 9, 2019, PBD will be observed in Indian missions across the world.
 
With the launch of the website, registration for PBD 2019 has started effective from September 15 and will continue till November 15 when the process will close.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said that more participation is expected in the Varanasi event than the last one in Bengaluru.
 
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was also present, recalled his participation in the mini PBD held in Mauritius in 2012 and said that with the 2019 PBD being held in Varanasi, many participants will be able to trace their roots back in India.
 
Many of the people of Indian origin in Mauritius are descendants of people taken from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the time of the British Raj to work as indentured labour on the sugarcane plantations on the Indian Ocean island nation.
 
IANS
 

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Ganga floods Varanasi ghats, 20 dead in UP rains

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A swelling Ganga river has inundated the temples on Varanasi ghats and forced cremations at the Manikarnika to be shifted to upper platforms, a Uttar Pradesh official said on Thursday.
 
The river rose by over two metres in the last 24 hours. The famous Ganga aarti from the boats has also been banned.
 
It is flowing just two metres below the danger mark at 69.91m. The Sheetla temple and Ratneshwar Mahadev temple were submerged. 
 
The water level of Varuna river here has also increased. It has flooded the old bridge area, Konia, Kazzakpur and many other low-lying areas. 
 
Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been pressed into service to keep a tab on the rising waters and brace for any eventuality.
 
An NDRF team consisting of 20-25 personnel has been posted on the Assi Ghat, Dashvashmedh Ghat and Rajghat. 
 
Waters of the Varuna river increased due to increased monsoon activity and release of five lakh cusecs of water from the Matateela dam in Lalitpur a few days back, a district official said as rains continued to wreak havoc in many parts of Uttar Pradesh. 
 
In the last 24 hours, 20 persons have been killed in rain-related incidents, including wall collapses, house cave-ins and lightning.
 
According to the office of the Relief Commissioner, three persons have died in Gonda, two in Mirzapur, one each in Meerut, Sitapur and Bahraich while three persons have died in Kushinagar, one in Unnao, two in Bijnore, one in Auraiyya, one in Jaunpur and one in Etah.
 
Sports Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Chetan Chauhan would be visiting Farukkhabad later in the day to distribute relief and other material in the district. 
 
He told IANS that he will be taking a boat ride to meet the marooned villagers and give them relief material, food items and medicines. 
 
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is also scheduled to undertake an aerial survey of flood-hit districts of Barabanki, Basti, Sitapur and Gonda.
 
Heavy rains have been battering most parts of the state for the last 10 days, leading to flooding of many regions and water logging in major cities and towns. 
 
There was, however, a clear sky in Lucknow on Thursday, though the Met forecast two more days of heavy rains in the city and areas around it.
 
IANS
 

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