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INDIA 2024 India News Politics

Triangular contest on cards in Tamil Nadu

DMK alliance aims to replicate 2019 success, while BJP vigorously campaigns with new allies. AIADMK faces pivotal test post-NDA split…reports Asian Lite News

Tamil Nadu goes to polls for all its 39 parliamentary constituencies in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls with a triangular contest on the cards in the southern state.

While DMK-led alliance is hopeful of repeating its 2019 performance, the BJP has put all its might in the polls and has held hectic campaign after stitching an alliance. The polls are also crucial for AIADMK which came out of BJP-led NDA in September last year.

The state is witnessing interesting battles on several seats with some key leaders in the contest.

In Coimbatore, state BJP chief K Annamalai is pitted against DMK’s Ganapathy P Rajkumar, a former mayor, and AIADMK’s Singai Ramachandran. Jharkhand Governor CP Radhakrishnan, who was the BJP candidate from Coimbatore in the past two Lok Sabha elections of 2019 and 2014, had suffered back-to-back defeats. The seat is held by CPI’s PR Natarajan.

K Annamalai released a manifesto for the Coimbatore constituency for the Lok Sabha elections. The promises include the establishment of the Indian Institute of Management, the offices of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Coimbatore city.

Ganapathy P Rajkumar has also exuded confidence of his victory and alleged that the BJP has done nothing for Coimbatore.

DMK’s Kanimozhi is contesting against AIADMK’s R Sivasami Velumani in the Thoothukudi Lok Sabha seat. Kanimozhi comfortably won the seat in 2019 Lok Sabha polls and defeated former Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan by over 3.47 lakh votes.

Tamilisai Soundararajan is contesting this Lok Sabha poll from Chennai South Lok Sabha seat. DMK leader Thamizhachi Thangapandian is the sitting MP from the seat. AIADMK has fielded Jayavardhan, who came a distant second in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Vidhya Rani, the daughter of slain sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, is in the fray from Krishnagiri constituency and has been fielded by Naam Tamilar Katchi. She is facing BJP’s C Narasimhan and Congress leader K Gopinath, a three-time MLA.

Congress’ Dr A Chellakumar won the previous two Lok Sabha elections from Krishnagiri constituency.

Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran is recontesting from Chennai Central seat. He is facing BJP’s Vinoj P Selvam and DMDK’s B Parthasarathy.

DMK’s A Raja, a former union minister, is in the fray from Nilgris, He is up against Union Minister and BJP leader L Murugan. AIADMK has fielded Lokesh Tamilselvan.

Nilgiris has six assembly segments – Udhagamandalam, Cuddalore, Coonoor, Mettupalayam, Avanashi, and Bhavanisagar and has 14,18,914 voters.

Sivaganga constituency will witness three-cornered contest with sitting Congress MP Karti Chidambaram taking on BJP’s Devanathan Yadav, a businessman, and A Xavierd of AIADMK.

Karti, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, is seeking victory from the seat for the third time.

In 2019 general elections, the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance, comprising the Congress, VCK, MDMK, CPI, CPI(M), IUML, MMK, KMDK, TVK, and AIFB, registered a landslide victory, winning 38 of the 39 seats in the state.

In Ramanathapuram, BJP is supporting former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who is contesting as an independent candidate against AIADMK’s Jayaperumal and K Navaskani from the Indian Union Muslim League, an ally of the DMK. Naam Tamilar Katchi has fielded Chandraprabha.

The contest in Virudhunagar constituency is between incumbent Congress MP B Manickam Tagore and two high-profile candidates- actor and producer Radikaa Sarathkumar of the BJP; and V Vijayaprabhakaran of the DMDK, who is the son of late actor Vijayakant.

The constituency known as the birthplace of K Kamraj, one of the tallest leaders in Tamil Nadu politics, lies adjacent to Madurai and is home to many cracker manufacturing units, matchbox and handloom units as well as offset printing presses. Tagore has won twice from the constituency. Radikaa and Vijayaprabhakaran have conducted an intense campaign to wrest the seat from him.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held roadshows and rallies in Tamil Nadu to boost prospects of party candidates.

INDIA bloc, which includes DMK and Congress, is hoping for a repeat of 2019 performance. (ANI)

ALSO READ: ‘Fight to protect Constitution and democracy begins today’

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INDIA 2024 India News Kerala

Rival political fronts in Kerala on high ahead of polls

The Congress-led UDF is relying heavily on the anti-incumbency factor against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan…reports Asian Lite News

With just a week left to elect 20 Lok Sabha members from the state, the three rival political fronts in Kerala are in a buoyant mood as each expects to perform better than they did in 2019. Kerala goes to polls on April 26.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress-led UDF had an easy walkover by getting 47.48 per cent of the total votes polled and 19 seats, CPI-M-led Left secured 36.29 per cent votes and just one seat, while BJP-led NDA got 15.64 per cent and the best they could do was to finish at second place in Thiruvananthapuram and a distant third in the remaining 19 seats.

With the UDF starting at pole position, if they need to improve their performance, as they claim, they will have to retain all the 19 seats and regain the Alappuzha seat, which they lost in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Congress Acting President M. M. Hassan, confidently manning the campaign activities, sitting in the state party headquarters, is expecting a clean sweep.

“The voters know that both, the state government under the corrupt leadership of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and the Centre under Prime Minister Narendra Modi have turned out to be a complete failure. Hence, we are confident of a clean sweep,” said Hassan.

The UDF is relying heavily on the anti-incumbency factor against CM Vijayan and the policies of the Modi government, especially the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Meanwhile, CM Vijayan, who is on a whirlwind tour of the 14 districts, is bubbling with confidence.

“In comparison to the 2019 polls, this time, we are going to do well and that’s what we could gauge. Congress is silent on the vexed issue of CAA and it shows that they are aligned to the Sangh Parivar forces,” said Vijayan.

Currently, the Chief Minister is hoping against hope that the 24 per cent of Muslim voters have by now understood that it’s only the Left that can be trusted and that voting for Congress means an indirect vote for BJP, given that more than 100 former Congress MP’s are now with BJP.

If one were to make any assessment based on the ‘noise’ created during the election campaign, then BJP is the clear winner, but whether it will translate to votes is the bigger question.

The one person who continues to believe that BJP will emerge a winner is state BJP President K. Surendran, contesting against sitting Congress MP Rahul Gandhi from the Wayanad seat.

“This time, things are going to be different and BJP will be doing well,” said Surendran.

BJP is harping that the Left and Congress are partners in Delhi under INDIA bloc, while they are engaged in shadowboxing here.

The BJP is also trying to spread the word that a vote for the party here is a vote for a stable and forward-looking Modi government that is certain to retain power.

As matters stand, there is a fierce triangular fight in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and possibly in Attingal seats.

Likewise, a keen battle between the traditional rivals – Left and Congress – is currently on at Badagara, Palakkad, Alathur, Kannur, Mavelikara, Chalakudy, Kozhikode, Pathanamthitta and Kasaragod. A slight swing could turn the tides for either of them.

However, the Congress party seems to have a clear edge in Wayanad, Kollam, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Ponnani, Malappuram and Alappuzha.

ALSO READ: ‘Fight to protect Constitution and democracy begins today’

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Festival of democracy returns to J&K

The elections to the five seats in Jammu and Kashmir, barring the Union Territory of Ladakh, which will poll separately on May 20; will be held across five phases, with Udhampur going first today….reports Asian Lite News

Almost five years to the historic abrogation of Article 370, stripping the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special constitutional privileges, the Union Territory is taking its first steps towards the restoration of statehood as polling is underway for the five Lok Sabha seats today.

Polling in the UT is happening after suspected terrorists shot dead a migrant worker from Bihar in the Anantnag district, in a reminder of the tag that the erstwhile state is desperate to shed.

However, the polling this time is unlike anything that the erstwhile state had seen in its history, with the UT administration and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) pushing the narrative of a ‘Naya Kashmir’, highlighting all the work towards the development of public infrastructure over the last few years as well as the surging footfall of tourists.

The elections to the five seats in Jammu and Kashmir, barring the Union Territory of Ladakh, which will poll separately on May 20; will be held across five phases, with Udhampur going first on Friday.

Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah expressed his displeasure over the scheduling of the polls in the erstwhile state, saying it was disheartening that the EC decided not to conduct the parliamentary and assembly polls simultaneously.

“This government is pushing for ‘One Nation, One Election’ and holding state elections and parliamentary elections in four states simultaneously. Why then is Jammu and Kashmir being denied simultaneous general and assembly elections? When every party here is asking for it, why are simultaneous elections not being held here?” the NC patriarch said.

With the historic passing of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 by the Parliament, Article 370, through which a special constitutional status was accorded to the erstwhile state; ceased to exist.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir was split and reorganised into two UTs–Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh–in October 2019.

The BJP has given a fresh ticket to sitting Udhampur MP and Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who has been representing the constituency in the Lok Sabha since 2014 when he defeated then-Congress leader and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The Congress has fielded Choudhary Lal Singh from Udhampur. Six years after being forced to resign his membership of the party after allegedly leading a rally in favour of the accused in the rape of a minor girl in Kathua, Lal Singh was ushered back into the grand old party.

The Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is not contesting the Lok Sabha polls in the UT as a partner in the INDIA bloc, has extended their support to the Congress candidate.

As part of the seat-sharing agreement reached between the INDIA bloc partners, the Congress will contest Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh parliamentary constituencies, while the National Conference (NC) will contest the Anantnag-Rajouri, Srinagar and Baramulla Lok Sabha seats.

Addressing a mega rally at Udhampur recently in favour of Jitendra Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a huge statement, saying the day isn’t far when full statehood will be restored to Jammu and Kashmir and assembly elections will be held.

Underscoring the ‘change’ that has come to the erstwhile state, PM Modi said for the first time, terrorism and cross-border infiltration wouldn’t be poll issues going into an election in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, prominent Opposition forces in the UT, including the Congress, have alleged suppression of rights by the Centre while demanding the restoration of Article 370 and the special privileges for the erstwhile state that it guaranteed.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, PDP chief and former CM Mehbooba Mufti accused the BJP-led NDA at the Centre of turning the state into an ‘open jail’.

“They (the central government) have converted Jammu and Kashmir into an open jail.

“You must have heard how militants shot at a tourist guide in Shopian recently. It was an unfortunate incident. Thousands of youth from Jammu and Kashmir are being jailed across the country,” she said.

National Conference leader and former CM Omar Abdullah alleged earlier that the BJP’s manifesto was aimed at the ‘destruction’ of the erstwhile state, adding that he still hadn’t lost hope of the restoration of Article 370.

“BJP manifestoes have always brought destruction to Jammu and Kashmir,” the former CM said, adding, “We still haven’t lost hope of restoration of Article 370. There are many like-minded parties such as the DMK and TMC, which are with us on Article 370.”

Earlier, elections to the District Development Councils (DDCs) in Jammu-Kashmir were held in 2020, with the BJP emerging as the single-largest party with 74 seats. The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), led by Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference, won 110 seats.

Also, crucially, the elections to the Lok Sabha on Friday will be the first since the passage of two key legislations–the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023–in Parliament.

While the former legislation proposes changes in the constituencies of the UT, the latter provides for reservation in jobs and professional institutions to members of SC, ST, and other socially and educationally backward classes.

The first Bill was drafted after redrawing the boundaries of Anantnag and Jammu Lok Sabha seats. The Pir Panjal region, which comprises Poonch and Rajouri, was previously a part of the Jammu seat but has now been added to the Anantnag seat in Kashmir. Similarly, another region in Srinagar constituency has now been made a part of the Baramulla constituency.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP won three seats while the National Conference won the remaining three. (ANI)

ALSO READ: ‘Fight to protect Constitution and democracy begins today’

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India News Sport Sports

MI Survives Sharma Assault for Thrilling Win

For MI, Gerald Coetzee and Jasprit Bumrah took three wickets each as the visitors’ managed to get a win despite a real scare from Ashutosh…reports Asian Lite News

Ashutosh Sharma almost single-handedly won Punjab Kings the game out of nowhere, but Mumbai Indians survived his stunning assault to win by nine runs in a thrilling match at the Maharaja Yadavindra Singh Cricket Stadium in Mullanpur on Thursday evening.

PBKS were in real trouble of getting their net run rate being hit by a massive margin when they were 14/4 and later on at 77/6 in the chase of 193. After Shashank hit a 25-ball 41, Ashutosh continued dishing out good finishing knocks with a whirlwind 25-ball 61, also his first fifty in the IPL.

But once he fell, PBKS were eventually dismissed for 183 in 19.1 overs, as the hosts’ were consigned to their fourth defeat of the competition coming in the final over. For MI, Gerald Coetzee and Jasprit Bumrah took three wickets each as the visitors’ managed to get a win despite a real scare from Ashutosh, in what was a match fitting enough to celebrate the 17th birthday of IPL.

Chasing 193, PBKS were plunged into trouble from the word go. Prabhsimran Singh gloved a pull down the leg side to Ishan Kishan off Coetzee. Bumrah left Rilee Rossouw’s stumps in a mess with his trademark yorker, before strangling Sam Curran down leg on review.

Liam Livingstone miscued a pull, and on seeing that, Coetzee made a slide to his left to complete a low catch. Impact Player Harpreet Bhatia couldn’t keep the punch down and gave a caught-and-bowled dismissal to Shreyas Gopal. Jitesh Sharma missed a full toss from Akash Madhwal and was trapped lbw.

The first signs of counter-attack were shown by Shashank in punching fours off Coetzee and Madhwal, before swinging Gopal for six. He took a liking to Gopal’s bowling by cleanly striking him for sixes down the ground and over long-on, before being deceived by a slower ball from Bumrah.

From the other end, Ashutosh began by swinging Madhwal for six, before slashing and pulling Romario Shepherd for four and six respectively. When Hardik Pandya strayed down leg, Ashutosh was quick to whip it for six.

But the standout moment of his knock was Ashutosh staying low and sweeping a Bumrah yorker for a six over fine leg, followed by pulling Shepherd for another maximum. He would swing a Coetzee full toss for another four and with Harpreet Brar taking back-to-back fours off him, PBKS felt they were in the hunt to do the impossible.

Ashutosh reached his fifty in 23 balls by drilling Madhwal over mid-off for six, and then scooped a free-hit over the keeper for another maximum. Harpreet then hit Madhwal for six down the ground as PBKS now needed 28 runs off last four overs, with the crowd chanting Ashutosh’s name.

After Bumrah gave away only three runs in the 17th over, Ashutosh pulled the first ball of the 18th over from Coetzee straight to deep mid-wicket, falling for a whirlwind 28-ball 61. In the next over, Harpreet flicked to deep backward square leg off Hardik. Kagiso Rabada’s six made the equation 12 runs off the final over, but his run-out by Mohammad Nabi ensured relief for MI and heartbreak for PBKS.

Earlier, Suryakumar Yadav brought out his trademark shots to make a fine 78 in powering MI to a daunting 192/7. On a two-paced pitch, Suryakumar hit seven fours and three sixes, showing impeccable wrist-work and collecting boundaries behind the square to hit his highest IPL score against PBKS.

He was also supported by handy knocks of 36 and 34 not out from Rohit Sharma and Tilak Varma respectively, as MI scored 77 runs in their last six overs. For PBKS, Harshal Patel and Curran were the pick of the bowlers with spells of 3-31 and 2-41 respectively.

Electing to bowl first, Kagiso Rabada drew first blood as Ishan Kishan slashed a short ball straight to backward point in the third over. Suryakumar got off the mark by using his wrists to flick and steer Rabada for back-to-back fours, followed by taking another boundary off Harshal with a whip.

Rohit brought out his trademark pull to hit an 80-m six off Arshdeep Singh, before being trapped lbw by a dipping slower delivery from Harshal. He took a very late review, with replays showing the ball missed the stumps, thus earning him a reprieve. Rohit and Suryakumar would take a four and six each off Curran as MI ended power-play at 54/1.

Curran continued to rotate his bowlers, which ensured MI weren’t let off the hook in the middle overs. But Suryakumar continued his shot-making spree by whipping, sweeping and lofting with elan to get his fifty in 23 balls. Rohit didn’t get much of the strike after power-play, despite hitting Harshal for a six down the ground, and was even struck on the helmet by Curran, needing a concussion test.

A ball later, he reached out to drive off a slower delivery from Curran, but sliced to backward point in the 12th over. PBKS dried up boundaries in the 12th, 13th and 14th overs, before Tilak broke the boundary drought by lofting and driving Arshdeep for successive fours. Suryakumar then drilled a drive through extra cover to collect another boundary as 15 runs came off the 15th over.

Suryakumar survived an lbw appeal off Rabada in the 16th over, and followed it up by lofting inside-out and scooping over keeper for four and six respectively. Tilak then came in to end the 18-run over with a pulled six off Rabada at deep mid-wicket. But Suryakumar fell in the next over, slicing to backward point off Curran and fell for 78 off 53 balls.

Pandya’s poor form continued as he muscled a slower short ball from Harshal to deep mid-wicket. Tim David injected some momentum by hitting two fours and a six in the 19th over yielding 18 runs. But Harshal had a solid final over, taking out David and Shepherd, with Mohammad Nabi being run-out on the final ball to keep MI eight short of 200, which was enough for them to get crucial two points.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 192/7 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 78, Rohit Sharma 36; Harshal Patel 3-31, Sam Curran 2-41) beat Punjab Kings 183 in 19.1 overs (Ashutosh Sharma 61, Shashank Singh 41; Jasprit Bumrah 3-21, Gerald Coetzee 3-32) by nine runs

ALSO READ: DC Rolls Over GT, Secures Win with Ease

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Business Economy India News

Nestle Baby Food Study Rattles India, Shares Dip

The Indian government is reportedly looking into the issue of sugar being added to baby food…reports Asian Lite News

The baby-food brands sold by global giant Nestle in India contain high levels of added sugar, unlike the same products in the UK, Germany Switzerland, and other developed nations, revealed an investigation by Swiss organisation Public Eye and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), sparking concern in the country at the violation of health guidelines.

The Indian government is reportedly looking into the issue of sugar being added to baby food.

Meanwhile, the share price of Nestle India Ltd went down in the bourses on Thursday following the study.

At the BSE, on Thursday, Nestle India’s shares opened at Rs 2,539 (Wednesday closing price Rs 2,547.15) and went down to close at Rs.2,462.75.

Findings showed that in India, all Cerelac baby products contain an average of nearly 3 grams of sugar per serving. The same product is being sold with no added sugar in Germany and the UK, while in Ethiopia and Thailand, it contains nearly 6 grams, the study said.

The report said that Nestle adds sugar to infant milk and cereal products in several countries which is a violation of international guidelines aimed at preventing obesity and chronic diseases. Violations were found only in Asian, African, and Latin American countries.

However, a Nestle India Ltd spokesperson said the company has reduced the total amount of added sugars in its infant cereals portfolio by 30 per cent over the past five years and it continues to “review” and “reformulate” products to reduce them further. “We believe in the nutritional quality of our products for early childhood and prioritise using high-quality ingredients.”

On Wednesday, the leading UK paper The Guardian reported that the Swiss food giant adds sugar and honey to infant milk and cereal products sold in “poorer countries”. It cited data from Public Eye and IBFAN that examined Nestle baby food brands sold in these markets. Public Eye examined 115 products sold in Nestle’s main markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America across two key brands — Cerelac and Nodi.

In India, all Cerelac baby cereal products examined by Public Eye contained added sugar — on average nearly 3 gm per serving.

“Almost all the Cerelac infant cereals examined contain added sugar — nearly 4 grams per serving on average, equal to roughly a sugar cube — although they are targeted at babies from six months of age. The highest amount — 7.3 grams per serving — was detected in a product sold in the Philippines,” the report said.

WHO expert Nigel Rollins was cited in media reports as saying that “this is a double standard that cannot be justified.”

ALSO READ: IMF Pins Global Growth Hopes on India

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Business India News Tech Lite

Altos India amps up ‘Make in India’ with high-end tech

Altos India’s strategic entry into high-end manufacturing marks a significant milestone, underscoring its commitment to promoting domestic production…reports Asian Lite News

In a fillip to the government’s local manufacturing push for IT hardware, technology company Altos India on Thursday said it has expanded its manufacturing portfolio to include high-end ‘Make in India’ workstations and servers.

The company has added two India-made servers, designed to meet the evolving needs of large-scale IT and cloud data centres in the country.

“In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, there is a growing demand for advanced solutions that cater to the needs of large IT and cloud data centres. These products not only meet these demands effectively but also align seamlessly with government initiatives, highlighting our dedication to local manufacturing,” said Sanjay Virnave, Country Head and General Manager at Altos Computing.

The Centre’s PLI 2.0 for IT hardware scheme, with its increased budgetary outlay of Rs 17,000 crore and expanded tenure to six years, is expected to generate an incremental production of Rs 3,35,000 crore.

The government has set a target of achieving $300 billion worth of electronics manufacturing by 2025-26, with $100 billion to come from exports.

Altos India’s strategic entry into high-end manufacturing marks a significant milestone, underscoring its commitment to promoting domestic production. Through the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Altos launched ‘Rack and Tower Servers’ that delivers server-class features with flexible expansion options and management capabilities.

“We have launched a ‘Dual socket 2U’ system ideal to handle any workloads. This system can function as a Database Server for Big Data analytics, a computing node for your high-performance computing (HPC) environment or for virtualisation purposes in cloud infrastructure,” said the company.

Meanwhile, the electronics industry in India saw a massive 154 per cent growth in hiring and skilling in the last financial year (from March 2023 till March this year) and the telecom domain led the industry, a report showed on Thursday.

The telecom vertical accounted for 64 per cent of hiring, closely followed by lighting and automotive sectors, according to research conducted by Quess Corp Ltd, a workforce management solutions provider.

The electronics industry also witnessed a significant deployment of women in various roles, particularly in manufacturing.

“Women are increasingly being deployed as operators, quality assurance professionals, and in testing roles,” the findings showed. Women constitute 78 per cent of the industry’s workforce.

In terms of geography, Tamil Nadu leads the states with a significant 33 per cent share of electronics hiring demand, followed by Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.

“The Indian electronics manufacturing sector is on a growth trajectory fuelled by innovation and transformation. Industry experts forecast the creation of 1 million jobs by 2025-2026, and the market size is expected to reach $400 billion by 2025,” said Lohit Bhatia, President of Workforce Management at Quess Corp.

This growth is not only fueled by increasing consumer demand but has also received a boost from government initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme.

The surge in women’s employment within electronics manufacturing can be attributed to several factors.

The nature of the work, which often involves intricate assembly and precise handling of small parts, complements women’s skill in dexterity and attention to detail.

“Additionally, women demonstrate a strong ability to learn quickly and adapt, enabling them to thrive in fast-paced production settings,” the report noted.

Several key roles are in high demand, such as electronic engineers, instrumental engineers and electronic design engineers. The average salaries for these roles range from Rs 18,000 per month to Rs 32,000 per month.

The research also showed that flexible staffing has emerged as the preferred mode of employment in the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry.

ALSO READ: Samsung’s Bold Bet on AI TV

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INDIA 2024 India News Politics

Polling begins in Bengal under tight security cover

Reports of tension had started surfacing from certain pockets in the Cooch Behar constituency, which is under the scanner of the Election Commission of India…reports Asian Lite News

Polling for Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal started on Friday morning under tight security cover.

However, in the first 30 minutes since the polling began, reports of tension had started surfacing from certain pockets in the Cooch Behar constituency, which is under the scanner of the Election Commission of India.

Voters were seen lining up in front of the polling booth in all three constituencies in the early hours.

Interacting with the media persons, early voters said that the two reasons that prompted them to reach polling stations early were to avoid the heat as well as the long queues in the latter part of the day.

The polling began with a tragedy at Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar district, where a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan, who was admitted to a hospital, died early Friday morning. The said jawan, identified as Nilesh Kumar Nilu (42), was admitted to a local hospital on Thursday night after he complained of uneasiness. He was a resident of Bihar.

Governor C.V. Ananda Bose on Friday told media persons that he will be keeping a watch on the developments throughout the day from the Peace Room within the premises of the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata.

Polling is continuing in 2,043 booths at Cooch Behar, 1,867 in Alipurduar and 1,904 in Jalpaiguri.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held a public meeting in Cooch Behar earlier this month and attacked the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal for “protecting the accused” in the Sandeshkhali incidents that rocked the state.

He asserted that only BJP can stop atrocities against women, adding that the party has resolved to ensure punishment for the accused in the Sandeshkhali incidents.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP marked a strong improvement, taking its tally from 2 in 2014 to 18 against the TMC’s 22. The Congress’s tally dropped to just 2 seats, while the Left scored a blank.

The BJP, on the other hand, is aiming to make further inroads in the state after rising to the rank of main Opposition party in the state in the Assembly elections in 2021.

‘People of Bengal deserve peace, harmony’

After an alleged incident of stone pelting at a Ram Navami procession in East Medinipore district, West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose on Friday said that the people of Bengal want and deserve peace and harmony.

He said that it is the responsibility of the Election Commission to book and stern actions against the perpetrators.

“Peace and harmony are something that the people of Bengal want and the people of Bengal deserve. It is after the authorities to ensure that there is law and order in the state, especially during the elections. Any perpetrators of violence should be booked and stern action should be taken, that is the responsibility of the Election Commission,” the Governor said.

The Governor, on Friday, visited the iconic Kalighat Kali Temple in South Kolkata and offered prayers for peaceful polls in the three constituencies of the state.

While coming out of the temple, he told the media that throughout the day he would be at the Peace Room within the premises of Raj Bhavan in Kolkata keeping a watch on the developments of the day.

Initially, the Governor had plans to camp at Cooch Behar on the polling day considering that this constituency had the maximum records of poll-related violence. However, following the insistence of the Election Commission as well as a complaint filed by the Trinamool Congress with the Commission, the Governor shelved his plans to camp at Cooch Behar.

BJP candidate from Medinipore, Agnimitra Paul, and party workers also staged a protest against the alleged stone pelting incident by putting up a road blockade.

“Hindu brothers and sisters in the Ram Navami rally got attacked by Jihadis in EGRA tonight but those who attacked got spared but the ones who were attacked got arrested by EGRA PS Entire night the Bjp karyakartas protested. Our fight against @MamataOfficial APPEASEMENT POLITICS is ON,” the BJP leader posted on X on Thursday.

State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had slammed the BJP for linking her party to the clases in Murshidabad, “”I am challenging and saying that BJP orchestrated the incident that happened the other day… If I ask the BJP commission why they removed their DIG one day before Ram Navami,? Was it to plan this?”

ALSO READ: ‘Fight to protect Constitution and democracy begins today’

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INDIA 2024 India News Politics

Will I.N.D.I.A. stop BJP juggernaut in Northeast?

As the Bharatiya Janata Party has continued to expand its footprint in the north-east, it will be looking forward to continuing with its dominance, while the INDIA bloc which is aiming to stop the BJP juggernaut from seeking a third consecutive term, will try to inflict as much damage as possible to the ruling party in the region.

The eight north-eastern states — Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh – are currently in the first phase of polls, either fully or in phase.

Assam

The north-eastern state that sends the maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha — 14, undergoes polls in three phases starting on April 19. Out of 14, five seats will go to polls tomorrow namely: Dibrugrah, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Kaziranga and Sonitpur.

BJP is contesting on 11 out of 14 seats in Assam, while its ally parties, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), are contesting in two seats (Barpeta and Dhubri) and UPPL in one seat (Kokrajhar), respectively.

Among the seats going to poll in the first phase Jorhat and Dibrugarh are of most significance because of high-profile contests on the seats.

While in Jorhat, Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi has decided to challenge BJP MP Topon Kumar Gogoi, the Dibrugarh presents another big clash with former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal taking on INDIA candidate Lurinjyoti Gogoi.

Notably, the BJP has expanded its footprint in the state. From winning 5 seats in Assam in 2009, it has risen to 7 in 2014 and 9 in 2019. The party is also in power in the state since 2016.

Mizoram

Voting to elect the only MP Mizoram sends to the Parliament is taking place in the first phase on April 19.

Mizo National Front (MNF), which currently holds the seat, has fielded Vanlalvena this time from the only seat the state sends to the Parliament.

In 2019, MNF’s C Lalrosanga won the seat against the INC’s Lalnghinglova Hmar by a margin of 8140 votes.

Candidates of several major parties in the poll fray in the state, eyeing the sole LS seat; including Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM)’s Richard Vanlalhmangaiha, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lalbiakzama, Mizo National Front’s K Vanlalvena and Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC), which has fielded Rita Malsawmi.

The election comes in wake of issues of border fencing with Myanmar and suspension of Free Movement Regime between New Delhi and Naypyidaw.

These issues are expected to play big role as in February, the Mizoram Assembly unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Centre’s decision to fence the India-Myanmar border and scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with the neighbouring country.

Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced for “immediate suspension of Free Movement Regime (FMR)” between India and Myanmar to ensure the internal security of the country and to maintain the demographic structure of India’s north-eastern states bordering Myanmar.

In this regard, Union Home Minister Amit Shah also announced that the government has decided to construct a fence along the entire 1643-kilometre-long Indo-Myanmar border to facilitate better surveillance and ensure a patrol track along the border.

The assembly polls were also conducted recently in the state, in which ZPM-led by Lalduhawma overthrew the MNF rule by registering a massive victory winning 27 out of 40 seats.

Tripura

The state of Tripura is another crucial front in the north-east, where the BJP will be looking forward to continue its recent momentum.

There are two parliamentary seats in Tripura. The West Tripura parliamentary constituency will go to the polls on April 19 and polling for East Tripura is slated on April 26.

Notably, BJP won both seats in the 2019 elections. The party is also in power in the state since 2018, when it formed the government under the leadership of Biplab Deb.

The party decided to change the Chief Minister in 2022, and Manik Saha took over the post. BJP also won the 2023 assembly elections in the state winning 32 out of 60 seats.

This time, BJP has fielded a strong face in former Chief Minister Biplab Deb from West Tripura. He is up against Congress’ Asish Kumar Saha, who left BJP in 2022 and was made party’s state chief.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha said this week that 2024 Lok Sabha elections holds high significance in re-electing Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister for a third term and in making a corruption-free and developed nation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recently emphasised the importance of north-east region and said that it is an issue of ‘priority’ for him and not just ‘poltiics’.

“North East plays a major role in making India ‘Viksit’. After years of Independence and during the rule of Congress justice was not done with the capabilities of the states in North East.

Communists ruled in Tripura and they just destroyed the people of Tripura. But, today in Delhi there is a government that continuously thinks about North East and Tripura. North East ‘mere liye politics ka nahi, prem aur prathmikta ka vishay hai,” he said during a rally in Agartala.

Arunachal Pradesh

The state of Arunachal Pradesh also presents a high-profile contest with Union Minister Kiren Rijiju in the poll fray.

The state has two parliamentary constituencies, Arunachal East and Arunachal West. The Assembly elections will be held concurrently with the Lok Sabha elections for these two seats in Arunachal on April 19. The votes will be counted on June 4.

The Minister of Earth Sciences is up against Nabam Tuki from the Indian National Congress (INC).

Rijiju, a prominent figure in Arunachal Pradesh politics, has held this seat since 2014. Meanwhile, Nabam Tuki, a veteran leader and former state chief minister, is the candidate representing the Congress.

BJP won one seat in 2014 while upped its tally and came out victorious on both seats in 2019.

The state is going to polls at a time when neighbouring China has came up with its co-called renaming of 30 places in the state.

Beijing’s action has received strong condemnation from New Delhi. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar have repeatedly asserted that irrespective of what China does, Arunchal Pradesh is and will remain an ‘integral’ part of India.

Sikkim

Sikkim is another state which undergoes Lok Sabha elections and assembly polls simultaneously on April 19.

In 2019, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM)’s Indra Hhang Subba won the lone Lok Sabha seat from the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The SKM also won 17 out of 32 seats in the Assembly polls while the Sikkim Democratic Front won 15 seats.

This time, SKM has repeated Subba from the seat. BJP has fielded Dinesh Chandra Nepal while the Congress candidate from the seat is Gopal Chhetri. SDF, on the other hand, has fielded Prem Das Rai.

Meghalaya

Meghalaya has two Lok Sabha constituencies: Shillong and Tura, and polling is underway in both the places.

Key political parties and alliances in Meghalaya include the INDIA bloc represented by the Indian National Congress, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the Regional Democratic Alliance.

The state will witness a multi-cornered contest for its two Lok Sabha seats, with 10 candidates vying for victory. The BJP is not contesting and NDA will be represented by National People’s Party (NPP).

In 2019, Congress’ Vincent Pala and National People’s Party candidate Agatha Sangma won the two seats in the state.

This time Congress has repeated Pala from Shillong and fielded Saleng Sangma from Tura.

NPP has repeated Agatha Sangma from Tura and fielded Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh from Shillong.

TMC has also fielded its candidate Zenith M Sangma from the Tura constituency.

Nagaland

The state of Nagaland sends only one MP to the Lok Sabha. In 2019, the NDPP-BJP coalition secured a significant victory over the Indian National Congress, emerging as the winner.

The seat is currently being held by Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tokheho Yepthomi.

However, he has not been repeated from the seat. NDPP has fielded Chumben Murry as the NDA candidate from the seat. The Congress party has fielded Supongmeren Jamir from the seat.

Earlier, BJP exuded confidence that their alliance would register a huge victory from the lone seat.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had visited Kohima as part of his Bharat Jodo Naya Yatra in January this year.

Manipur

The north-eastern state, which has been grappling with ethnic violence for close to a year, will also participate in the country’s festival of democracy, but in a special manner.

Manipur will poll in two phases, with Inner Manipur voting on April 19 and Outer Manipur in both phases, on April 19 and 26.

While there is no official word on the rationale behind holding the polls in Outer Manipur in both the phases, it is believed that the decision was taken after assessing security concerns in the violence-hit state.

A total of 15 assembly segments will see polling for the Lok Sabha on April 19, while another 13 assembly segments will poll on April 26.

Significantly, the district of Churachandpur, which was epicentre of the ethnic violence that erupted last year, leaving many dead while displacing still more in the face of rampant violence and arsoning, will also go to polls in the opening phase on April 19.

Currently, the two constituencies are held by Minister of State Rajkumar Ranjan Singh (Inner Manipur) and Naga People Front’s Lorho Phoze (Outer Manipur).

This time, however, the NPF is going into the polls as a partner in the BJP-led NDA. The BJP, earlier, announced its support for NPF candidate for Outer Manipur, Kachui Timothy Zimik.

Zimik is up against Congress MLA Alfred K Arthur, who is the joint Opposition candidate of the INDIA bloc.

BJP has fielded Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh from Inner Manipur and decided against repeating its MoS Rajkumar Ranjan Singh. He is up against Congress’ Angomcha Bimol Akoijam.

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha will be held in seven phases, from April 19 to June 1. The results will be announced on June 4.

The Bharatiya Janata party will aim to hold and expand its dominance in the north-east while seeking a third consecutive term at the Centre.

In its election manifesto, the party has said that it will continue its effective efforts to establish peace in the North-East and phase out the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

“We will continue our efforts to address the issues in the disturbed areas and remove AFSPA in a phased manner. We will further work towards the resolution of inter-state border disputes amongst Northeastern states through sustained efforts,” the party said in its manifesto.

Meanwhile, the INDIA bloc, mainly led by Congress, will be looking to inflict some damage to NDA in these states riding on regional issues especially the situation in Manipur. (ANI)

ALSO READ: ‘Fight to protect Constitution and democracy begins today’

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Shah holds massive roadshow in Gandhinagar

Home Minister Shah, who is scheduled to file the nomination paper on Friday, advised the crowd to vote in the first half, before 10:30 a.m., to avoid the heat….reports Asian Lite News

Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a massive roadshow through Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar on Thursday.

The roadshow began with chants of “Jai Shri Ram” and concluded on the same note. Thousands of people gathered just to get a glimpse of the Home Minister.

Highlighting achievements of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi such as the construction of the Ram Mandir, the abolition of Triple Talak, and “enhanced” national security, he said: “We aim to win all 26 seats in Gujarat.”

“People gave Narendrabhai Modi 10 years, and today, you can see the Ram Mandir, the removal of the Triple Talak, the Uniform Civil Code, and above all, the country is protected under him… under the Sonia-Manmohan government, daily anyone would enter our country from Pakistan… But now, Gujarat’s son, Narendra Modi, leads the country. Narendrabhai worked to protect the country,” he added.

Home Minister Shah, who is scheduled to file the nomination paper on Friday, advised the crowd to vote in the first half, before 10:30 a.m., to avoid the heat.

He traversed significant areas of Gandhinagar, including Sanand, Kalol, Sabarmati, Ghatlodiya, Naranpura, and Vejalpur, to bolster support within the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency — a pivotal seat in Gujarat’s political landscape. His son and BCCI Secretary Jay Shah was also present at the Sanand event.

Historically, Gandhinagar has served as a launching pad for notable political figures such as former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani.

Since its establishment in 1967, the constituency has evolved into a BJP stronghold, witnessing the electoral battles of various distinguished leaders.

ALSO READ: ‘Fight to protect Constitution and democracy begins today’

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‘Fight to protect Constitution and democracy begins today’

Congress National President Mallikarjun Kharge emphasised that voters hold the power to decide India’s destiny…reports Asian Lite News

With the voting for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024 underway in 102 seats spread across 21 states and Union Territories on Friday, Congress National President Mallikarjun Kharge urged voters to cast their votes “carefully,” stating that the “fight to protect our Constitution and democracy begins today.”

The voting began at 7 am.

“The fight to protect our Constitution and Democracy begins today. My dear citizens, from 21 States and UTs who are voting in the First Phase of the Lok Sabha elections, I request you to carefully cast your vote,” he said in a post on X.

He emphasised that voters hold the power to decide India’s destiny.

“When you push that button on the EVM, pause and reflect for a second — Do you want our Institutions to be subverted through dictatorship, or do you want to protect DEMOCRACY? YOU are now the decider of India’s destiny,” he added in the post.

He also extended warm welcome to the new voters, saying, “I extend a warm welcome to all the first-time voters. Please come out and vote in large numbers.”

‘Vote for a secure, developed, and self-reliant India’

Appealing to the voters to vote in large numbers in the first phase of elections, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said that every vote of the public has the power to create a secure, developed, and self-reliant India.

“It is an important day today, as the first phase of voting is taking place in the country. I appeal to all the voters who are voting in this phase to vote in large numbers because every vote of yours has the power to create a secure, developed, and self-reliant India. Your vote is not only meant to determine the fate of a Lok Sabha or a candidate but also to shape a bright future for India,” Amit Shah posted on X.

“My appeal is to choose a strong and decisive leadership that has shown the determination to free the country from corruption, nepotism, and appeasement while fulfilling its promises,” Shah said.

Amit Shah is the BJP candidate from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, a constituency he won in 2019.

Earlier the Prime Minister also called upon the people to vote in large numbers saying “2024 Lok Sabha Elections Begin Today! As 102 constituencies across 21 states and UTs are going to polls, I appeal to all those voting for these constituencies to vote in record numbers. I especially appeal to young and first-time voters to vote in large numbers. After all, every vote counts and every voice matters!”

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