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Govt dismisses Cong’s accusation; Says train fares not being charged from migrants.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday accused the central government of charging train fares from migrant workers. She said her party was willing to bear the train fare expenses of migrant workers. The Central government has started special trains to ferry migrant workers home.

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday accused the central government of charging train fares from migrant workers. She said her party was willing to bear the train fare expenses of migrant workers. The Central government has started special trains to ferry migrant workers home. Reacting sharply to Sonia Gandhi’s allegations, the government said Congress was politicising the migrant travel issue. It said “sometimes facts are counter-intuitive to emotions”. The BJP said no tickets are being sold and the cost of journey is being borne by the Indian Railways and the respective state governments.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s direction to state party units to bear the cost of tickets for migrants to return home across India on Monday triggered a political row with the Railways and the BJP saying the Centre would pay 85 per cent of the cost of migrant return.

The Congress president attacked the government for not giving stranded migrants free train rides home, flagging “100 crores” spent on just one event in Gujarat during the Trump visit and Rs 151 crore contributed by the railways to the PM-Cares fund.

“When our Government can recognise its responsibility by arranging free air travel for our citizens stranded abroad, when the government can spend nearly Rs. 100 crores on transport and food etc. for just one public programme in Gujarat, when the Rail Ministry has the largesse to donate Rs. 151 Crores to the PM’s Corona fund, then why can’t these essential members of our nation’s fabric be given a fraction of the same courtesy, especially free rail travel, at this hour of acute distress,” Sonia Gandhi said in a statement.

The centre, she said, barely gave a four-hour notice of the lockdown, so workers and migrant labourers were denied the opportunity to return to their homes. “Post the partition of 1947, this is the first time India witnessed a tragedy with such a massive human cost as thousands of migrant workers and labourers were forced to walk home several hundred kilometres on foot – without food, without medicines, without money, without transportation, without anything except for the desire to return to their families and loved ones,” she wrote.

Calling it “disturbing”, the Congress president declared that every state unit of her party would pay for the train travel of “every needy worker and migrant labourer”. Soon after, Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government said it would pay the fare for those returning to the state by special trains.

Stung by the Congress’s move, official sources said the government was already subsidizing 85 per cent of the train journey and it was up to the states to bear the remaining cost of the ticket. Official sources rebutted the Congress and said the centre was already bearing the cost of running the trains half empty to ensure social distancing, and also of doctors, safety and railway staff.

States like BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh are paying the remaining 15 per cent of the cost, which is the ticket price, the sources said. “States have been paying for the migrants’ food and shelter in the past 40 days. It is better that they should also give them the train fare. But states are not coming forward to do so,” the sources said.

The government started running special trains on Friday for migrants to travel to their home states with the lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 extended by two weeks.

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Rahul Gandhi spotted in Delhi pizzeria in viral video while PM Modi, others attend Anant Ambani-Radhika Merchant wedding

Lalu Prasad Yadav and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also attended the wedding.

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Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi, was spotted at pizzeria restaurant in Delhi, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other politicians were attending Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s wedding in Mumbai.

The undated viral video has been shared widely on social media platforms with a claim that the Congress leader did not attend the high-profile wedding of Ambani in the dream city, instead chose to spend time at a Delhi restaurant.

Sharing the video on X, formerly Twitter, wrote that while all the political leaders attended the Ambani family wedding, Rahul Gandhi was at a restaurant ordering pizza.

Visuals shared online show that the Raebareli MP, wearing a light blue t-shirt, sitting across from someone and engaging in a lively chat.

PM Modi attended the “Shubh Aashirwad” ceremony of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on Saturday night at the Jio World Convention Centre.

The Ambani family welcomed the Prime Minister and escorted him to the stage. Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant took blessings from the PM.

Before that, the Prime Minister was in Mumbai to lay the foundation stone for multiple projects related to roads, railways, and ports, worth more than Rs 29,400 crore.

Among the prominent leaders who attended the Ambani family wedding ceremony in Mumbai on Saturday were Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Deputy Chief Minister Pawan Kalyan, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar.

From the INDIA bloc Samajwadi Party Chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, along with his family, was spotted at the ceremony.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also attended the wedding on Friday.

The BJP leader, Smriti Irani, who recently lost her Amethi seat in the Lok Sabha election, was spotted along with her husband, also attending the wedding ceremony.

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Puri Jagannath temple’s Ratna Bhandar reopens after 46 years

Also among them were four servitors, Patjoshi Mohapatra, Bhandar Mekap, Chadhaukarana and Deulikaran, who took care of the rituals, they said.

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The Ratna Bhandar, the revered treasury of the 12th-century Jagannath temple in Odisha’s Puri, was reopened on Sunday after 46 years for an inventory of valuables and the repair of its structure.

According to officials, an eleven-member committee set up by the State government for the purpose entered the temple around 12 pm, and after performing rituals, the treasury was reopened.

Former Orissa HC judge Biswanath Rath, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Arabinda Padhee, ASI Superintendent DB Gadanayak and a representative of Puri’s titular king ‘Gajapati Maharaja’ were among the 11 people present when the treasury was reopened, officials added.

Also among them were four servitors, Patjoshi Mohapatra, Bhandar Mekap, Chadhaukarana and Deulikaran, who took care of the rituals, officials said.

Though the treasury was reopened, the inventory of valuables will not be carried out immediately, an official said.

Taking to X, the Chief Minister’s Office said, “On the wish of Lord Jagannath, the Odia community, with the identity of ‘Odia Asmita’, has started making efforts to move forward.”

The CMO further mentioned that the four gates of the Jagannath temples were earlier opened. Today, on people’s wishes, the Ratna Bhandar was opened after 46 years for a greater purpose, adding that, which was shared at 1.28 pm, the auspicious moment decided to reopen the treasury.

On the Ratna Bhandar, the Inspection Committee Chairman Justice Biswanath Rath said that, as scheduled, and as known to everybody, the government has already come out with the required SOPs in three parts. He said one is for the opening of the Ratna Bhandar, then taking custody of ornaments and valuables stacked in both the ‘bhandars’ section-wise to pre-allocated rooms inside the Garbha Griha.

He added that the team convened a meeting in which they decided to go ahead with the opening and taking care of the ornaments. As per the discussion in the meeting and suggestions of the ‘Purohits’ and the ‘mukti mandap’, the right time for opening of the Ratna Bhadar is 1.28 pm, he said.

Rath also shared the process, which will be carried out with two sets of video recordings and there will be two certifications. It will be a challenge since the committee does not know the position inside since it last opened in 1985, he added saying, they will open the locks today, in any case.

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Congress appoints Gaurav Gogoi as Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha

Kodikunnil Suresh has been appointed as the Chief Whip.

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The Congress has appointed Gaurav Gogoi as the party’s Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha. Kodikunnil Suresh has been appointed as the Chief Whip, while Manickam Tagore and Md. Jawaid have been appointed as Whips in the Lower House.

Taking to X on Sunday, Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal announced the decision and said CPP Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi has written to the Lok Sabha Speaker informing him about the appointment of the Deputy Leader, Chief Whip, and two Whips for the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha.

Congratulating the new appointees, he wrote, “Guided by LOP Shri Rahul Gandhi ji, the Congress and INDIA parties will energetically champion the people’s causes in the Lok Sabha.”

The decision comes barely two weeks before the Union Budget is set to be presented in the Lok Sabha.

Speaking to the media on July 14, Congress leader P Chidambaram detailed his expectations from the Union Budget scheduled to be presented on July 23 and said that the Prime Minister must address unemployment and price rise. He further drew attention to retail inflation as per the government data is 5.1%, and go towards rural areas, it is more than that.

The former Finance Minister said food inflation is 10% and if the budget addresses unemployment and price rise, he will give it 50 out of 100. The remaining 50 will depend upon what policies they follow, the Congress leader added.

The first Union Budget (2024-25) will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha on July 23, with the Parliament session commencing a day earlier and scheduled to conclude on August 12.

Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju said that the President of India, on the recommendation of the Government of India, has approved the proposal for summoning both Houses of Parliament for the Budget Session, 2024, from July 22, 2024, to August 12, 2024, (subject to exigencies of Parliamentary Business). Union Budget 2024-25 will be presented in Lok Sabha on 23 July, 2024, he said in a post on X.

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