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West Bengal

Mukherjee to visit Kirnahar, Mirati in West Bengal from Sep 30-Oct 3

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Kirnahar and Mirati in West Bengal from September 30 to October 3, during which he will perform "puja" and meet the local people.
 
On October 2, 2014 he will pay floral tributes at the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri at Kirnahar Shib Chandra High School. 
 
He will also mark the day by flagging off children's squads belonging to the school on ‘Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan’ cleanliness drive, an official press release added.
 
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21 hurt in fire at SAIL's IISCO Steel Plant at Burnpur in West Bengal

21 injured in explosion in IISCO steel plant in West Bengal
At least 21 people suffered injuries in a fire that broke out at public sector Steel Authority of India Limited's (SAIL) IISCO Steel Plant (ISP) at Burnpur in Bardhaman district of West Bengal today.
 
A spokesman for SAIL said the mishap occurred around 12.15 pm and preliminary inquiry revealed that the fire had broken out in the New Coke Oven Battery No.11. 
 
He said the fire was immediately extinguished.The incident occurred during a planned shutdown taken for carrying out rectification jobs in one of the pre-heaters of the coke oven battery, he said.
 
The spokesman said around 21 affected persons were provided immediate medical attention, both at the Plant Medical Unit and at Burnpur Hospital.
 
Of them, two employees of a contractor, BEC, had been admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital, he added.
 
Both company officials and the local police are investigating the cause of the fire, sources said.
 
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BJP suffers setback in UP, loses ground in Gujarat, Rajasthan in bye-elections

Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a setback in Uttar Pradesh and lost ground in Rajasthan and Gujarat as counting of votes got underway in bye-elections in ten states on Tuesday.

 
By-polls: Counting begins for 3 LS, 33 assembly seats
Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a setback in Uttar Pradesh and lost ground in Rajasthan and Gujarat as counting of votes got underway in bye-elections in ten states today.
 
In all, polling was held on September 13 for three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in the bye-elections, which were seen as a major test of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which completed 100 days in office recently.
 
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh won eight of the 11 Assembly seats for which bye-elections were held, while the BJP had to rest content with just three. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had earlier held all 11 seats.
 
The seats won by the SP in Uttar Pradesh were Bijnor, Thakurdwara, Nighasan, Hamirpur, Charkhari, Sirathu and Rohaniya, while the BJP won Saharanpur Nagar, Noida and Lucknow East.
 
The SP’s candidate, Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, also won from the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency in the state.
 
These results are significant because the BJP, riding on a Modi wave, had won as many as 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh in the April-May Parliamentary elections. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal held all 11 Assembly seats for which bye-elections were held.
 
In Rajasthan, where the BJP had made a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress won three of the four seats in the bye-elections -- Surajgarh, Weir (SC) and Nasirabad, while the BJP had to remain content with one, Kota South.
 
Similarly, in Gujarat, where Mr Modi was the Chief Minister for more than 12 years before becoming Prime Minister and where the BJP had won all 26 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress managed to win three of the nine Assembly seats in the bye-elections.
 
The Congress won Deesa, Khambhalia and Mangrol, while the BJP retained Maninagar, Tankara, Talaja, Anand, Matar and Limkheda. All nine seats were earlier held by the BJP.
 
The BJP also won the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, with its candidate and deputy mayor Ranjanben Bhatt winning by a huge margin of more than 3.29 lakh votes.
The BJP made its debut in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly when its candidate Samik Bhattacharya  won the Basirhat Dakshin seat today. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) won the other seat, Chowranghee, for which bye-elections were held.
 
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In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi's K Prabhakar Reddy won the Medak Lok Sabha seat.
 
In Tripura, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) won the lone assembly seat, Manu, for which bye-elections were held.
 
In Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won the Nandigama Assembly seat.
 
In Sikkim, an independent candidate, Rup Narayan Chamling, won the Rangang-Yangang Assembly seat.
 
In Assam, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won the Jamunamukh Assembly seat, while the BJP was leading in Silchar and the Congress in Lakhipur.
 
Counting of votes began in all the constituencies this morning and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
The bye-elections have assumed added significance because they took place about a month before crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, where Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a strong bid to wrest power.
 
Vadodara was one of the two seats won by Mr Modi in the April-May Lok Sabha elections. He had resigned from there after deciding to retain Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the other seat from where he had won.
 
Similarly, Mainpuri was vacated by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who retained Azamgarh, also in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Medak had fallen vacant when Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader K Chandrashekara Rao resigned to take over as the first Chief Minister of Telangana after it was carved out as India's 29th state out of Andhra Pradesh.
 
Polling was also held for two seats in West Bengal and one in Chhattisgarh.
 
Today's results have come as bad news for the BJP, which had won only eight of the 18 Assembly seats in four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab -- where bye-elections were held in August, while the Congress and its allies managed to win ten.
 
Apart from being a pointer to the extent to which the BJP has been able to hold on to its popularity, the bye-elections were also a major test for the SP.
 
These were the first elections in Gujarat under new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who succeeded Mr Modi when he moved to Delhi as Prime Minister.
 
Most of the 33 Assembly seats had fallen vacant after the sitting MLAs, mainly belonging to the BJP, had been elected to the Lok Sabha in the last general elections. Bye-elections in three assembly constituencies were necessitated by the deaths of the sitting members.
 
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BJP loses ground in UP, Gujarat, Rajasthan as counting of votes gets underway in bye-elecions

Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP on Tuesday appeared to have lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan as counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections to three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in 10 states.

 
By-polls: Counting begins for 3 LS, 33 assembly seats
Four months after it swept to power at the Centre with an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today appeared to have lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan as counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections to three Lok Sabha seats and 33 Assembly seats in 10 states.
 
The bye-elections are being seen as a major test of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which completed 100 days in office recently.
 
Early counting trends showed that the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) was ahead in eight of the 11 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh for which polling was held on September 13 along with the other states.
 
The SP was also leading in the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency, according to reports reaching here.
 
The BJP, which had captured as many as 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, had taken leads in just three seats. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had held all 11 seats in the Assembly.
 
The BJP's hold in Gujarat and Rajasthan, where it had won all the Lok Sabha seats in April-May, also appeared to be weakening. 
 
In Gujarat, where Mr Modi was the Chief Minister for more than 12 years before becoming Prime Minister, the Congress was ahead in at least two of the nine Assembly seats that went to the polls, while the BJP was leading in seven as well as in the Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency. All nine Assembly seats were previously held by the BJP.
 
In Rajasthan, the Congress and BJP were leading in two seats each as counting of votes progressed in the four Assembly constituencies that went to the polls.
 
Early trends from Assam showed that the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) was ahead in two seats, while the BJP was leading in one.
 
In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi was leading in the Medak Lok Sabha seat.
 
Counting of votes began in all the constituencies this morning and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
The bye-elections have assumed added significance because they took place about a month before crucial Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, where Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a strong bid to wrest power.
 
Vadodara was one of the two seats won by Mr Modi in the April-May Lok Sabha elections. He had resigned from there after deciding to retain Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the other seat from where he had won.
 
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Similarly, Mainpuri was vacated by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who retained Azamgarh, also in Uttar Pradesh. Medak had fallen vacant when Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leader K Chandrashekara Rao resigned to take over as the Chief Minister of Telangana.
 
Of the 33 Assembly constituencies that went to the polls last Saturday, 11 are in Uttar Pradesh, nine in Gujarat, four in Rajasthan, three in Assam, two in West Bengal and one each in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim.
 
The BJP had scored an overwhelming victory in the April-May Lok Sabha elections on the strength of a strong Modi wave, but it could win only eight of the 18 Assembly seats in four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Punjab -- where bye-elections were held in August, with the Congress and its allies managing to win ten.
 
The results of the bye-elections in Uttar Pradesh, apart from being a pointer to the extent to which the BJP has been able to hold on to its popularity, will also be a major test for the SP.
 
These were the first elections in Gujarat under new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who succeeded Mr Modi when he moved to Delhi as Prime Minister.
 
Most of the 33 Assembly seats had fallen vacant after the sitting MLAs had been elected to the Lok Sabha in the last general elections. Bye-elections in three assembly constituencies were necessitated by the deaths of the sitting members.
 
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Mukherjee opens first IIEST at Shibpur in West Bengal

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President Pranab Mukherjee has said that a culture of excellence mst be promoted in the country's higher academic institutions and core competencies nurtured.
 
"Academic cooperation between institutions must be encouraged," he said after inaugurating the first Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) of the country at Shibpur, Howrah, West Bengal yesterday.
 
Mr Mukherjee stressed that research and innovation must go hand in hand and should be focused on solving the country’s myriad developmental problems.
 
"It is also important that industry and academia operate in tandem and create the right synergies and environment for industrial growth and academic rejuvenation. Quality up-gradation of state-level institutions, which account for 96 percent of the higher education capacity, needs to be accorded high priority," he said.
 
The President praised IIEST Shibpur for significant advancements in several areas of human endeavour. He said the IIEST was actively seeking to address some of the global challenges today in areas as diverse as renewable energy, water technology, medical and environmental sciences. 
 
Some other important areas of engagement of the institute are Disaster Management; Clean coal technology; Power Electronics; Remote-sensing and GIS; Space Technology; Biochemical Sensors, Structural Engineering; VLSI and Embedded Systems.
 
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Ms Justice Manjula Chellur, Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court; Dr. Partha Chatterjee, Minister-In-Charge, Higher Education, Government of West Bengal; M. Anandakrishnan, Chairman, Board of Governors, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur; Mr Tarun Vijay, Member of Parliament, Prof. Ajoy Kumar Ray, Director, IIEST, Shibpur and Dr. Biman Badyopadhyay, Registrar, IIEST, Shibpur.
 
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GAIL says to begin work soon on Jagdishpur-Phulpur-Haldia natural gas pipeline

The public sector gas major GAIL (India) Limited today said it was all set to begin work soon on the 2050 km Jagdishpur-Phulpur-Haldia natural gas pipeline which will serve as the "energy highway" for carrying efficient and environment-friendly fuel to West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
 
The project will fulfill the commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech in Ranchi, Jharkhand last week for the overall development of Eastern India and meeting its energy requirements, a press release from GAIL said.
 
According to it, the pipeline will benefit millions of people in the four states and lead to setting up of city gas networks in 17 major cities of the region.
 
These include Varanasi,  Allahabad, Patna,  Gaya, Chhapra,  Siwan,  Gopalganj, Mujaffarpur, Bettiah, Bhagalpur, Bokaro,  Dhanbad,  Ranchi,  Jamshedpur,  Asansol,  Durgapur and Kolkata. 
 
This means that residents of these cities can enjoy the convenience of piped natural gas (PNG) that directly reaches households and the economical compressed natural gas (CNG) for vehicles.
 
Besides city gas distribution, the pipeline will supply feedstock/fuel to fertilizer and power plants and major industries located in the region.
 
The estimated investment for the project is about Rs 10,000 crores. The first phase of the pipeline will have a capacity of 16 MMSCMD which would be augmented to 32 MMSCMD in the second phase.
 
The fertilizer plants which will benefit from the project include units at Gorakhpur, Barauni, Sindri and Matix Durgapur. In addition, the pipeline will also supply natural gas to refineries at Barauni and Haldia, steel industries, power plants and other large SME manufacturing units in the region. The pipeline will also boost agricultural and economic development and generate employment opportunities in the region, the release said.
 
The pipeline will consist of a 922-km main line (36 inch-diameter) and 1,128 km of spur lines and feeder lines (12 to 30 inch diameter). The compressor station will be located at Haldia in West Bengal.
 
GAIL has already started activities related to detailed survey of the pipeline route. The survey will include engineering survey (topography, population density index, soil resistivity and soil investigation survey) and cadastral survey (collection of revenue details of every village along the route along with ownership details). Actual construction activities will commence once the survey is completed, the release said.
 
It is estimated that the project will have 46 river crossings, 17 railway crossings, 14 State Highway crossings and 12 National Highway crossings, thus making it one of the most difficult engineering projects of its kind, it said.
 
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Pro Kabaddi: Patna defeat Bengal 36-32 to climb to second spot in table

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The much-talked about Bengal Warriors defence looked completely ordinary as Patna Pirates outplayed them 36-32 to claim the second spot in the table in the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League here tonight.
 
There were great expectations of a keen contest in the Sawai Man Singh Indoor Stadium here as the match kicked off under bright lights.
 
Patna launched the first assault as they captured Bengal’s star raider Nitin Madane in a spectacular ankle hold and followed it up by Ravi Dalal’s fierce raid which saw two Warriors ousted. 
 
Dalal continued his streak as he took down Shyam Kumar Sah, leaving Bengal a three-man outfit. As Nitin Madane exited the field yet again, captain Nilesh Shinde was left to fight alone. 
 
Leading from the front, he revived two Bengal players. Fighting hard, Bengal refused to give in easily soon, making it a four-a-side affair. However as Sandeep Narwal decide to join the party, Bengal conceded the first LONA points in 19th minute. At half-time the scores were 19-13 in favour of the Pirates. 
 
As the second half began, Bengal bounced back, as Madane earned them two crucial points, injuring his left knee in the process. With Rakesh Kumar cheering from the sides, Patna got back to their winning ways as Sandeep Narwal scored two points taking the lead to 9 points in the 29th minute.
 
In a ray of hope for the Warriors, Sandeep Narwal and Ravi Dalal got out, one after the other. But this hope was short-lived as Patna earned their second set of LONA points in the 32nd minute. The troubles ceased to end for Bengal as an injury to Mahendra Rajput saw him walking off the field as well. 
 
Keeping the last few minutes muted, the Pirates won the match by four points.
 
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SpiceJet to resume service to Bangkok with new daily flight from Kolkata

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced the resumption of services to Bangkok with a new daily flight from Kolkata from September 25.
 
This will also be SpiceJet's first direct international flight from Kolkata, a press release from the airline said. The airline used to earlier operate to Bangkok from Bangalore and Pune.
 
The release said the flights will be operating to Bangkok’s state-of-the-art Suvarnabhoomi airport, from where numerous onward domestic and international connections are available.
 
Mr Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Operating Officer, SpiceJet Ltd, said, “We believe there is tremendous opportunity in the Kolkata – Bangkok market, and this flight will also connect passengers to and from other Indian destinations to Bangkok via Kolkata.”
 
“We have timed the launch of this flight to co-incide with the start of the Puja holidays and festive season. With Thailand offering visa-on-arrival for Indians, and with our unbelievably low introductory fare, there is no excuse now to postpone that long planned Thailand holiday," he added.
 
SpiceJet will deploy Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft on this route, the release added.
 
The airline currently operates more than 340 flights to 47 destingations, including seven international cities.
 
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Mukherjee to visit West Bengal, Telangana on August 1-2

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit West Bengal and Telangana on August 1 and 2, an official press release said here today.
 
Tomorrow, Mr Mukherjee will inaugurate the new building of Ghani Khan Choudhury Institute of Engineering and Technology at Narayanpur, Malda. 
 
He will also inaugurate the International Conference on Natural Fibres organized by the National Institute of Research on Jute and Allied Fibre Technology at Kolkata on the same day. 
 
On August 2, the President will address the Annual General Meeting of Indian Chamber of Commerce at Kolkata. 
 
On the same day, he will attend the 12th convocation of NALSAR University of Law at Shameerpet, Telangana before returning to the national capital, the release added.
 
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Ram Naik named Governor of UP, Keshari Nath Tripathi of West Bengal

President Pranab Mukherjee today appointed new Governors for five states, including former Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Ram Naik in Uttar Pradesh, former UP Assembly Speaker Keshari Nath Tripathi in West Bengal and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Balramji Dass Tandon in Chhattisgarh.

Ram Naik
Ram Naik
Former Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Ram Naik was today appointed as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, while senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Balramji Dass Tandon was named as the new Governor of Chhattisgarh.
 
President Pranab Mukherjee also appointed former Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Speaker Keshari Nath Tripathi as the new Governor of West Bengal and BJP leader Om Prakash Kohli as the Governor of Gujarat, a press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
 
The appointments will take effect from the dates the incumbents assume charge of their respective offices, it said.
 
The President also accepted the resignation of Mr Vakkom Purushothaman, as Governor of Nagaland. 
 
In his place, Mr Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya has been appointed as the new Governor of the state. He will also discharge the functions of the Governor of Tripura, in addition to his own duties, until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor of Tripura are made, a separate communique said.
 
The five new Governors are the first gubernatorial appointments made by the new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after it assumed office on May 26.
 
Since the new government took over, the Governors appointed by the previous regime have reportedly been under pressure to quit. While some have resigned in the past few weeks, the others have not obliged.
 
Among the Governors who have quit are B L Joshi in Uttar Pradesh, M K Narayanan in West Bengal, Ashwani Kumar of Nagaland, Shekhar Dutt of Chhattisgarh and Bharat Vir Wanchoo of Goa. 
 
Keshari Nath Tripathi
Keshari Nath Tripathi
Last week, Mr Purushothaman became the sixth Governor to resign. He had refused to take charge as Governor of Nagaland in protest against his transfer from Mizoram without his consent.
 
His place in Mizoram was taken by Ms Kamla Beniwal, who was transferred from Gujarat. She had several differences with then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is now Prime Minister.
 
Several of the Governors, including Ms Margaret Alva of Rajasthan, Ms Beniwal, MrJanaki Ballabh Patnaik of Assam, Mr D Y Patil of Bihar and Mr Jagannath Pahadia of Haryana are due to retire in the coming months.
 
Others like Mr K Shankarnarayanan of Maharashtra, Mr Shivraj Patil of Punjab and Ms Sheila Dikshit of Kerala have longer tenures remaining. 
 
Ms Dikshit, who was Chief Minister of Delhi for 15 years, took over as Governor of Kerala only in March this year after she lost the Assembly elections in December 2013. 
 
Mr Naik, 80, a senior BJP leader, served as a Cabinet Minister in the government of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from October 1999 to May 2004.
 
Before that, he had handled the portfolios of Railways, Home Affairs, Planning & Programme Implementation and Parliamentary Affairs as Minister of State. He had decided not to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He had represented the North Mumbai constituency in the Lok Sabha for five terms. He has also served as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for three terms.
 
Mr Naik has done his B.Com. and LL.B. from the University of Mumbai. He has been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from his childhood.
 
Balramji Dass Tandon
Balramji Dass Tandon
Mr Tripathi, 79, is a former president of the UP unit of the BJP. A senior advocate, he has had five terms as a member of the UP Legislative Assembly and served as its Speaker from 1991-93, 1997-2202 and 2002-2004. He was a Cabinet Minister in the UP Government from 1977-1979 during the Janata Party regime. He has a B.A and an LL.B. degree from the Allahabad University.
 
Mr Tandon, 87, is a veteran leader of the BJP in Punjab and had served as the Deputy Chief Minister in the Gurnam Singh government in 1969-70. He also served as Minister in the Parkash Singh Badal ministries in 1977-79 and 1997-2002.
 
He was a founding member of the Jana Sangh, the precursor to the BJP, in 1951 and was the president of the Punjab BJP from 1995-97. He was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly from Amritsar in 1960,1962,1967,1969 and in 1977 and from Rajpura in 1997.
 
Mr Kohli is a former president of the BJP's Delhi unit and a former member of the Rajya Sabha.
 
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President accepts resignation of West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan

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President Pranab Mukherjee today accepted the resignation of Mr M K Narayanan as the Governor of West Bengal.
 
A press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said the President had appointed Dr D.Y. Patil, Governor of Bihar, to discharge the functions of the Governor of West Bengal, in addition to his own duties, until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor of West Bengal are made. 
 
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Pranab Mukherjee to visit West Bengal on June 5-6

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to Kolkata on June 5-6 during which he will inaugurate the 150th birth anniversary of Acharya Satis Chandra Mukherjee tomorrow.
 
He will also deliver the Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee memorial lecture to mark his 150th birth anniversary on the same day, an official press release said.
 
The President will return New Delhi in the afternoon of June 6, the release added.
 
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Former Union Minister, BJP leader Tapan Sikdar passes away

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Former Union Minister of State for Communications and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Tapan Sikdar passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here today.
 
He was 69 and a bachelor. He was suffering from kidney ailments and had been admitted to AIIMS for treatment on May 29.
 
Mr Sikdar, who had represented the Dum Dum constituency in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha twice, served as a Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
 
"Tapan Sikdar ji's demise is extremely saddening. May his soul rest in peace," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
 
"Mr Tapan Sikdar will be remembered for his rich contribution in building the BJP & his years of dedicated public service," he added.
 
Mr Sikdar was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1998 and was re-elected in 1999. After serving as Minister of State for Communications, he later also handled the portfolios of Chemicals and Fertilisers; Small Scale Industries; and Development of North-Eastern Region.
 
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CBI arrests Superintendent of Central Excise, two others in bribery case

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a superintendent and an inspector, both of Central Excise, Purulia (West Bengal) and a private person for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs.15,000 from a businessman.
 
The arrested accused were produced before the Special Judge, Asansol (West Bengal), who remanded the superintendent and private person to judicial custody till June 4. The inspector was granted bail on medical grounds.
 
A case was registered against the accused under sections 7 & 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on the allegation that the superintendent had demanded an illegal gratification of Rs 18,000 from the proprietor of a proposed bdi manufacturing unit at Purulia for issuing a registration certificate to the unit.
 
According to the complaint, the inspector and the private person had allegedly actively abetted the demand.
 
A CBI press release said the amount of bribe was reduced by the superintendent subsequently.
 
The CBI laid a trap near the Central Excise office, Purulia, where the amount was received by the private person, acting as a conduit, from the complainant on the alleged instructions of the superintendent and the inspector.
 
Searches were conducted at the residential and office premises of the accused. Further investigation is continuing, the release added.
 
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Livid Mamata Banerjee calls Modi an "architect of riots"

Livid after BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi levelled a series of allegations against her, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee on Monday described him as an "architect of riots" and said she did not need "gyan" on development from him.

 
Modi must apologise or face defamation
Livid after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi levelled a series of allegations against her, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee today described him as an "architect of riots" and said she did not need "gyan" on development from him.
 
"He has no right to be in politics," she said in response to Mr Modi's statements which were made at a campaign meeting for the Lok Sabha elections at Serampore in the state last night.
 
Ms Banerjee described Mr Modi's remarks as "inflammatory" and said he was triving to divide Bengalis and non-Bengalis in the state.
 
"Modi is a devil. He has already presided over riots in his own state and has turned his attention towards Bengal now. He wanted to separate Darjeeling. Now he wants to divide the Hindus and Muslims in the state. My Bihari and Marwari friends have protested against his statement. People will not give him a single vote," she said.
 
"Everyone is our brother and sister, whether they belong to Gujarat or Bihar. We do not discriminate between people based on whether they speak Gujarati, Bihari or Tamil. We don't do casteism and dirty politics," she said.
 
Mr Modi had launched a scathing attack on Ms Banerjee and the TMC at the Serampore meeting, accusing them of complicity in the Saradha chit fund scam.
 
He also alleged that Ms Banerjee was practising vote bank politics in the matter of infiltrators from Bangladesh and declared that all of them would be sent packing if he is voted into power after May 16, when the results of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections will be out.
 
Mr Modi said he would initiate strong action against all beneficiaries of the Saradha scam if he became Prime Minister.
 
He asked Ms Banerjee to make public the details of all those who had bought her paintings for huge sums of mone, alleging that one of her paintings had been sold for Rs 1.8 crore.
 
Ms Banerjee said Bangladeshis had migrated to India after the 1971 Indira-Mujib agreement. "You cannot throw out legal immigrants from this country," she said.
 
She said Mr Modi was divisive and if he actually became the Prime Minister the country would "plunge into darkness".
 
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Ms Banerjee also claimed that West Bengal had done better than Gujarat on many parameters of development.
 
"Infant mortality rate in Bengal is 31 out of 1000 births. For Gujarat it is 42. When we took over two and a half years ago, 3 crore mandays were lost in Bengal. The figure is nil now. Bank lending to MSME, which is a good reflection of the health of the economy, grew by 106% in Bengal while the growth in this parameter in Gujarat was only 34%. We have provided toilets in 92% schools in Bengal," she added.
 
Earlier, the TMC had last night launched a vitriolic attack on Mr Modi soon after the Serampore meeting, calling him the "butcher of Gujarat".
 
 "The butcher of Gujarat has air-dropped into Bengal. He has no answers to Bengal's development model. So, he is making personal attacks," TMC spokesman Derek O'Brien said, in remarks which indicated that the two parties had reached a point of no return in their ties.
 
The description used by Mr O'Brien was a reference to Mr Modi's alleged failure to control the 2002 post-Godhra violence in Gujarat, in which more than a thousand people, mainly Muslims, were killed.
 
"The butcher of Gujarat says Didi pocketed Rs 1.8 crore by selling one painting of hers. He should prove it or face defamation. The money was used for good causes as well as to fund elections. Poll reforms are a priority for Trinamool," Mr O'Brien said, referring to allegations by Mr Modi at an election meeting in Serampore last night that Ms Banerjee had sold her paintings for huge sums in questionable deals.
 
"Making these wild personal accusations without any basis is not what elections are made of. Fight politically, not personally. Otherwise we too can ask personal questions. The butcher of Gujarat could not take care of his own wife. How will he take care of this great nation?" he asked.
 
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Trinamool Congress reacts angrily to Modi attack, calls him "butcher of Gujarat"

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) has reacted angrily to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's attack on her yesterday, calling him the "butcher of Gujarat".
 
 "The butcher of Gujarat has air-dropped into Bengal. He has no answers to Bengal's development model. So, he is making personal attacks," TMC spokesman Derek O'Brien said, in remarks which indicated that the two parties had reached a point of no return in their ties.
 
The description used by Mr O'Brien was a reference to Mr Modi's alleged failure to control the 2002 post-Godhra violence in Gujarat, in which more than a thousand people, mainly Muslims, were killed.
 
"The butcher of Gujarat says Didi pocketed Rs 1.8 crore by selling one painting of hers. He should prove it or face defamation. The money was used for good causes as well as to fund elections. Poll reforms are a priority for Trinamool," Mr O'Brien said, referring to allegations by Mr Modi at an election meeting in Serampore last night that Ms Banerjee had sold her paintings for huge sums in questionable deals.
 
"Making these wild personal accusations without any basis is not what elections are made of. Fight politically, not personally. Otherwise we too can ask personal questions. The butcher of Gujarat could not take care of his own wife. How will he take care of this great nation?" he asked.
 
Mr Modi had launched a scathing attack on Ms Banerjee and the TMC at the Serampore meeting, accusing them of complicity in the Saradha chit fund scam.
 
He also alleged that Ms Banerjee was practising vote bank politics in the matter of infiltrators from Bangladesh and declared that all of them would be sent packing if he is voted into power after May 16, when the results of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections will be out.
 
Mr Modi said he would initiate strong action against all beneficiaries of the Saradha scam if he became Prime Minister.
 
He asked Ms Banerjee to make public the details of all those who had bought her paintings for huge sums of money.
 
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Modi says infiltrators from Bangladesh will be sent back after May 16

BJP Prime Ministerial Narendra Modi tore into West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress on Sunay night, accusing them of complicity in the Saradha chit fund scam, and declared that all infiltrators from Bangladesh would be sent back after May 16 if his party is voted to power in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing an election meeting at Serampore in West Bengal on April 27, 2014.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing an election meeting at Serampore in West Bengal on April 27, 2014.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial Narendra Modi tore into West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress last night, accusing them of complicity in the Saradha chit fund scam, and declared that all infiltrators from Bangladesh would be sent back after May 16 if his party is voted to power in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
 
Counting of votes for all 543 Lok Sabha seats will be taken up on May 16 and all results are expected by that evening. Most opinion polls have placed the BJP as the front-runner in the elections.
 
Addressing an election meeting at Serampore in West Bengal, Mr Modi said he would initiate strong action against all beneficiaries of the Saradha scam if he became Prime Minister.
 
He alleged that Ms Banerjee was indulging in "vote-bank politics" and had caused more harm to West Bengal in the past 35 months than had been caused by the Left Front in 35 years of its rule.
 
"The people of Bengal had great expectations from you, you could have done a lot for them, but you have frittered away all the goodwill and betrayed the people. You have taken the path of the Left and have not given up the bad habits of the Congress," he said.
 
"I am announcing this...that after coming to power, I will take the strongest steps against all those who conspired in and benefited from the Saradha scam," he said.
 
Mr Modi, who is the Chief Minister of Gujarat since late 2001, said the Congress and the Trinamool Congress were afraid of him and doing everything they could to stop him from coming to power because they know they will end up behind bars.
 
He asked Ms Banerjee to make public the details of all those who had bought her paintings for huge sums of money.
 
Hitting out at Ms Banerjee's style of functioning, he said she could only think of fighting and agitating. "She has forgotten she is no longer in the opposition and is the chief minister now. A chief minister has to perform," he said.
 
He said the times had changed and Ms Banerjee should know that she could not remain in office by using the police force. "I respect you and have affection for you, that's why I am telling you that you have strayed from your path," he said.
 
Mr Modi urged the people to rescue Bengal from the "clutches of the Trinamool Congress, the Left Front and the Congress. All three have conspired to ruin Bengal," he said.
 
He said Ms Banerjee practised "vote-bank politics", as was evident from the way she treated migrants from Bihar and Odisha as "outsiders" but welcomed infiltrators from Bangladesh.
 
"People from Odisha and Bihar are outsiders for you but Bangladeshis come and see the shine on your face," he said.
 
"After May 16, all these Bangladeshis will have to pack their bags and leave," he said, to loud cheers from the crowds.
 
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On the criticism of the Gujarat model of development, Mr Modi said many jute mills that were lying closed in and around Serampore. He said the Left had brought the state to industrial ruin and Ms Banerjee had failed to keep her promise of reviving the mills.
 
He said that, on the other hand, he had been been able to reopen all the closed textile mills in Gujarat, which were shut down during Congress rule, and they were all flourishing again.
 
He said such steps could easily be taken in West Bengal, too. He said potato farmers in the state were throwing away their produce because they do not get good prices, whereas a farmer in Gujarat recently created a world record for achieving the highest productivity in his farm.
 
He said that farmers in Gujarat got advances from companies for potatoes. He said all this was possible only because of the "good governance" provided by his government.
 
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CCI imposes penalty of Rs 18.38 crore on Bengal Chemist and Druggist Association

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a penalty of Rs. 18.38 crores on Bengal Chemist and Druggist Association (BCDA) and its office-bearers for anti-competitive practices. 
 
This has been done vide a common order in a suo motu case and a reference case filed by Dr. Chintamoni Ghosh, Director, Directorate of Drugs, West Bengal. 
 
In the reference filed by Dr. Ghosh, it was alleged that BCDA is inter alia engaged in issuing anti-competitive circulars directing the retailers not to give any discount to the consumers. The CCI after considering the entire material had directed the Director General (DG) to cause an investigation into the matter and to submit a report. 
 
The CCI observed that the activities of BCDA inter alia to direct its members to sell drugs only at their maximum retail price (MRP) is a palpable anti-competitive conduct which cannot be justified on the ground that most of the members of the BCDA would be ruined if competitive forces are allowed to operate in the market. The CCI accordingly concluded that the activities of the BCDA are in conflict with the objects of the competition law as they cause restraint of trade, stifle competition and harm the consumers. 
 
Holding that BCDA and its District and Zonal Committees were engaged in anti-competitive practices of directly or indirectly determining the sale prices of drugs and controlling or limiting the supply of drugs through concerted and restrictive practices, the CCI directed the BCDA and its office bearers and executive committee members to seize and desist from indulging in practices found to be anti-competitive in terms of the provisions of the Act. 
 
After giving due consideration to the issue, the CCI decided to impose a penalty on the BCDA and its those office bearers who were directly responsible for running its affairs and play lead role in decision making at the rate of 10 per cent and on the executive committee members at the rate of 7 per cent of their respective turnover/income/receipts. 
 
The BCDA has been further directed to file an undertaking within 30 days that the CCI’s directions to cease and desist from indulging in anti-competitive practices have been complied with. The amount of penalty imposed was directed to be deposited within 60 days of the receipt of the order, the release added.
 
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BJP gets GJM support in West Bengal, two AGP leaders join it in Assam

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got a boost today, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when two leaders of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam joined the party and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) offered its support to its candidates in West Bengal, including for the Darjeeling seat.
 
BJP President Rajnath Singh said the AGP leaders are former state AGP president and former Assam minister Chandra Mohan Ptowary and former minister Hitendra Nath Goswami.
 
He also thanked GJM president Bimal Gurung and other leaders of the outfit for the support extended by them to the BJP in West Bengal.
 
The GJM had supported senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in the Darjeeling constituency, which he had won.
 
The BJP is yet to decide on its candidate from the Darjeeling seat in the 2014 elections.
 
The Trinamool Congress has named well-known footballer Bhaichung Bhutia as its candidate from Darjeeling. The GJM has decided not to support Bhutia because he is not from Darjeeling, but from Sikkim.
 
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Congress names candidates for West Bengal Assembly bye-elections

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The Congress has named is candidates for bye-elections to six seats in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, which will be held along with the coming Lok Sabha elections.
 
The candidates are: Clement Cyril (Kumargram-ST), Puranjan Sarkar (Maynaguri-SC), Kumaresh Chakraborty (Santipur), Samarlal Singha Roy (Chakdaha), Akshay Santra (Katulpur-SC) and Swapan Kumar Malick (Galsi-SC).
 
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Mukherjee attends foundation stone laying ceremony of KKM Memorial Sports Academy

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President Pranab Mukherjee attended the foundation stone laying ceremony of KKM Memorial Sports Academy and Wellness Centre at Sagardighi in Murshidabad district of West Bengal yesterday.
 
The President felicitated 12 sports personalities including P. K. Banerjee (Football), Gurbux Singh (Hockey) and Akhtar Ali (Tennis) on the occasion.  The felicitation was organized by Allsport Foundation to coincide with the foundation stone laying of KKM Memorial Sports Academy.
 
Lok Sabha member Abhijit Mukherjee unveiled the foundation stone of the sports academy and wellness centre, which is named after freedom fighter and educationist late Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee, father of the President.
 
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Mukherjee lays foundation stone of Berhampore Military Station

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President Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation stone of the Behrampore Military Station at Nabagram in West Bengal today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, he said that the Indian Army had a very long history of commitment and dedication in the service of the nation. 
 
He hoped that the Berhampore Military Station would carry on this glorious tradition. 
 
Mr Mukherjee saluted the soldiers who have laid down their lives in the line of duty. He also deeply appreciated the contribution made by the Ministry of Defence, the Indian Army and the Government of West Bengal in connection with the Berhampore Military Station. 
 
In addition, he appreciated the contribution of the local people in providing land for the Military Station. 
 
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Kolkata Group says healthcare should be recognized as fundamental human right

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Doctors, public health experts, policy makers, development practitioners and activists who gathered for the eleventh Kolkata Group workshop here over the past three days have stressed that healthcare should be recognized as a fundamental human right.
 
"Furthermore, there is an essential need for (i) an integrated approach to healthcare, with guaranteed access for all to qualified doctors trained in modern medicine, and (ii) a comprehensive understanding of healthcare that must, among other things, include the provisioning of clean water, nutrition, sanitation and waste disposal," the 50 participants from different walks of life said in a statement at the end of the worshop.
 
The three-day event was held from February 17-19 at the National Library here on the theme, "Curing India's Health System: Learning from Asian Experiences".
 
The workshop was chaired by renowned economist Amartya Sen and was held to discuss the dismal state of health services in India and to learn from the experiences of other Asian countries in introducing health systems reforms.
 
Health experts from China, Thailand and Bangladesh shared their experiences with participants of the workshop.
 
Thailand has generated several health innovations like the universal insurance system and regular Health Assemblies for public discussion. Bangladesh has shown the importance of drawing on women’s agency through female community health workers as well as school teachers and the constructive role of NGOs. China has embarked on a massive reform of its national health care system, not only involving near universal coverage but also showing the possibility of rapid change given public commitment.
 
The statement said single payer national health insurance must be an essential component of healthcare financing. Current financial allocations are massively inadequate. In addition, the recently introduced public subsidization of expensive hospital care (private or public), without guidance from primary care doctors, could be both wasteful and injurious to the health of patients subjected to such procedures without assessing the exact medical need. New avenues of public support such as the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) should be incorporated within an integrated healthcare system, it said.
 
Relying on private medical care, without the availability of public health services, allows extensive exploitation of vulnerable and under-informed patients and their families, because of the asymmetric nature of healthcare knowledge, it said.
 
The statement said this had been noted across the world both by professional economists and by public health experts. In fact, no country in the world has achieved universal health coverage based on private healthcare only or even on private commercial health insurance, it said.
 
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"There is an imperative need to ensure responsible behaviour by public servants in terms of presence and engagement throughout the full working hours in healthcare facilities," it said.
 
"Professionalism with ethics is required among doctors and other healthcare workers in a labour-intensive industry where the technical, social, and geographic attributes of health workers matches health service delivery needs. Medical education, a national subject in India, should be revamped to produce workers suited to achieving comprehensive primary healthcare," it said.
 
The statement said healthcare reform is a complex, long-term process that requires sustained leadership and attention. Arbitrary transfer of well-performing senior public servants leading the necessary reforms of healthcare jeopardizes effective long-range planning and implementation. Sustained leadership is needed, it said.
 
The Kolkata Group participants included Isher Ahluwalia, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Sabina Alkire, Sudhir Anand, Louis-Georges Arsenault, Shabana Azmi, Pranab Bardhan, Afsan Bhadelia, Sugata Bose, Achin Chakraborty, Anirban Chattopadhyay, Lincoln Chen, Seema Chishti, Abhijit Chowdhury, Mushtaque Chowdhury, Asim Dasgupta, Antara Dev Sen, Jean Dreze, Dilip Ghosh, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Shaibal Gupta, Raunaq Jahan, Pratik Kanjilal, Suneeta Krishnan, Manabi Mazumdar, Surjya Kanta Mishra, Nachiket Mor, Poonam Muttreja, Vikram Patel, Asadur Rahman, N Ram, Mariam Ram, S Ramadorai, Kumar Rana, Tejinder Singh Sandhu, Sujatha Rao, Ram Manohar Reddy, Srinath Reddy, Sunanda Reddy, A. K. Shiva Kumar, Shantha Sinha, Rehman Sobhan, Samrit Srithamrongsawat, Ramya Subrahmaniam, Min Yang and Winnie Yip. 
 
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Anna Hazare backs Mamata, rules out supporting Kejriwal, Modi

2014 Lok Sabha Polls: Anna announces support for Mamata
Veteran social activist Anna Hazare today announced his backing for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections, but ruled out extending support to his former protege and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal or the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
 
Addressing a press conference here with Ms Banerjee at his side, Mr Hazare, 76, said that he had never, in the past, declared his support for any political party but had decided to make an exception this time for Ms Banerjee.
 
He said that he was impessed by Ms Banerjee's views on various issues and had understood her life and work.
 
"As Chief Minister, she could have lived a lavish life, like many other Ministers. But she lives in a small house. She does not have a bungalow or car and does not take a salary. It is this spirit of sacrifice that impressed me," he said.
 
Mr Hazare, who had led a nationwide agitation for a strong Lokpal Bill more than two years ago and launched an indefinite fast in the capital on that issue, said he had written a 17-point letter to all politicial parties about what he thought should be done for the nation. According to him, only Ms Banerjee had written back to him, saying that she would implement those ideas if she gets into a situation where she can do it.
 
He said he realised that the country was crying for a change and, therefore, had decided to change his long-time policy of not supporting any party. "I am doing it for the good of the nation," he said.
 
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He said Ms Banerjee had lived a life of struggle throught and had suffered a lot of pain and suffering in her keenness to serve the people.
 
"I won't support Narendra Modi or Arvind Kejriwal, I will do what I can for the betterment of nation," he said.
 
Mr Hazare and Mr Kejriwal, who worked together in the agitation for the Lokpal Bill, fell apart later after the latter decided to form a political party and go into electoral politics.
 
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Mukherjee to pay two-day visit to West Bengal on February 20-21

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Kolkata, Nabagram, Dhamua, Sagardighi and Jangipur in West Bengal on February 20 and 21, an official press release said here today.
 
Mr Mukherjee will lay the foundation stone of Berhampore Military Station at Nabagram and attend the foundation stone laying ceremony of KKM Memorial Sports Academy and Wellness Centre at Dhamua tomorrow.
 
He will also attend the renaming ceremony of Sagardighi Mahavidyalaya as ‘Sagardighi Kamada Kinkar Smriti Mahavidyalaya’ at Sagardighi and inaugurate the campus of Aligarh Muslim University Centre at Jangipur on the same day. 
 
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