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Sushma Swaraj to be cremated with full state honours today, two-day mourning in Delhi



Sushma Swaraj

Former external affairs minister and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj will be cremated at Lodhi Road crematorium in New Delhi with full state honours today (Wednesday, Aug 7).

Swaraj was feeling fine till afternoon but around 9.30pm, she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. She was rushed to AIIMS at 9.45pm. However, Swaraj couldn’t be revived.

Swaraj had health complications arising from diabetes, but was not suffering from any immediate health emergency. She underwent a kidney transplant in 2016 and despite a few spells of hospitalisation, was understood to be getting better.

Sources at AIIMS told ANI that the 67-year-old leader was feeling restless at 9 pm and she was taken to the hospital at around 9:30 pm in an ambulance. A team of doctors tried to revive her for 70 to 80 minutes but failed in their attempt. At 10:50 pm, Sushma Swaraj was declared dead.

Just a couple of hours before the fatal heart attack, Swaraj had expressed her happiness at the removal of special status for Jammu and Kashmir thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making it possible “in her lifetime” to see the event.

Modi paid rich tributes to Swaraj, saying: “A glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end. India grieves the demise of a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and bettering lives of the poor. Sushma Swaraj Ji was one of her kind, who was a source of inspiration for crores of people.”

BJP working president JP Nadda termed Swaraj’s demise as a sad incident for the whole country. “Sushma Ji is no more with us, it is a sad incident for not only BJP but the whole country. She inspired us, her last tweet tells us how she was involved in serving the nation in an emotional way,” he said in a statement to ANI.

He added, “Her mortal remains will be kept at her residence for people to pay last respects. Around 12 pm tomorrow, her mortal remains will be brought to BJP headquarters. At 3 pm, she will be taken to Lodhi road crematorium, where her last rites will be performed with full state honours.”

BJP president Amit Shah condoled her death and called it an “irreparable” loss. He recalled her role as leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, saying she was a “forceful voice of BJP” in the House. “A powerful orator, she left an indelible mark as a popular leader,” he added.

Swaraj’s long-term colleague and former finance minister Arun Jaitley said he was “saddened, pained and broken on demise of Sushmaji”. “She was one of the most outstanding politicians in the present era. She distinguished in all positions. She leaves behind a void which is difficult to fill,” he added.

Other BJP leaders and those from the opposition expressed shock and grief. President Ram Nath Kovind also offered his condolences.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that there will be two days of state mourning, in a tweet. There will be no cultural events during this period in the state. All other govt business and programmes, including the Anganwadi programme at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, will continue as scheduled, according to news agency ANI.

Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal condoled her death, saying the country has lost a great leader.

“India has lost a great leader. Sushma ji was a very warm and remarkable person. May her soul rest in peace,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Swaraj who had earned a formidable reputation in helping overseas Indians in distress came across as someone who was the “People’s Foreign Minister”.

Known for her oratorical skills, Swaraj had started her career in politics with Janta Party. Swaraj was elected to the Haryana assembly in 1977 and, at 25 years, became the youngest-ever Cabinet Minister in the Haryana government led by the late Devi Lal.

With a socialist background and initially seen as “a late-comer” to BJP, her rise within the party, considered a party of conservatives, was a testimony to her political acumen, courage and mass appeal.

Swaraj was part of the legal team put together by the Opposition when socialist leader George Fernandes was arrested around the Emergency. Since she and Swaraj Kaushal, who was also involved with the Socialists, were part of the legal team and had to travel to Mumbai together, their law professor and later Chief Justice of India AS Anand suggested that they get married, a story later recounted by her with much relish.

She was seen as a key member of BJP’s Gennext after AB Vajpayee and LK Advani along with leaders like Pramod Mahajan, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar, Venkaiah Naidu and Narendra Modi in the 1990s.

She served in the government variously as minister for Information and Broadcasting, Parliamentary Affairs and Health Minister in the Vajpayee government and also served as Delhi Chief Minister in 1998, a position she lost to Sheila Dikshit who also passed away recently.

In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, Sushma Swaraj jumped into the electoral fray against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, heading to Bellary in Karnataka. Though she was pitchforked by the BJP at the very last moment to contest against the Congress president, she learnt a smattering of Kannada to connect with the electorate in Bellary, forcing a keen contest.

When the BJP-led NDA lost the 2004 elections — it was the start of the BJP’s decade-long political wilderness — and Congress-led UPA staked claim to form government, Swaraj had raised the political stakes by declaring she would shave her head if “Italy-born” Sonia Gandhi was elected as Prime Minister. It defined her political contest with the Congress leadership.

Swaraj was a very effective orator and she delivered for BJP as leader of opposition in Lok Sabha during UPA-2. She raised the scams that hit the Manmohan Singh government — from Commonwealth Games to coal and 2G — with verve and passion, leading protests that led to the government finally conceding a parliamentary committee on the telecom scam.

Sushma Swaraj became the external affairs minister in 2014 when Narendra Modi’s first cabinet was sworn-in on May 26. Swaraj was the second woman to take charge of the foreign ministry after Indira Gandhi. Her stint as foreign minister saw her bring a popular touch to her assignment in the first Modi government, coming to aid of Indian citizens facing problems abroad. She was known for her prompt response on Twitter to address grievances of overseas Indians.

Swaraj did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls having ruled herself out of electoral politics. Her health and the decision to bid goodbye to the electoral arena were seen to be reasons for her exclusion from the new Modi cabinet that took oath after the BJP repeated its feat of scoring a majority.

India News

PM Modi says change in government certain in Chhattisgarh

According to PM Modi, the second Parivartan Yatra was launched from Jashpur in north Chhattisgarh on September 15 while the first one left Dantewada in south Chhattisgarh on September 12.



PM Modi

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the closing ceremony of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) two Parivartan Yatras in Bilaspur. This is PM Modi’s third trip to the state, which is governed by the Congress and will host assembly elections later this year.

The Prime Minister attacked the Bhupesh Baghel-led governance during a public rally by claiming that Chhattisgarh is steeped in corruption and misrule. Every plan of the Congress government contains a fraud.

According to PM Modi, the second Parivartan Yatra was launched from Jashpur in north Chhattisgarh on September 15 while the first one left Dantewada in south Chhattisgarh on September 12.

Before reaching their conclusion in Bilaspur, both yatras covered a distance of more than 3,000 km over 87 assembly segments (out of the total 90), he said, and included 83 Swagat Sabhas (welcome gatherings), four roadshows, and several public meetings.

The Maoist-affected districts of Bijapur, Sukma, and Antagarh are not on the schedule, although residents from these districts participated in the yatra when it went through their neighbouring districts.

The party officials and employees spirits were unaffected by the rain, he said, and they joyfully took part in the two yatras, which attracted a large number of people.

According to Sao, who expressed confidence that the Congress will be defeated in the 2019 elections, the two yatras, in which almost 50 lakh people participated, have converted the tide of change into a storm.

The program’s location has been heavily fortified with security, according to the police. There will be a total of 1,500 security personnel deployed, including police officers, members of the Special Protection Group (SPG), members of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force, and members of the National Security Guard (NSG).

According to a police, a three-kilometer radius around the city has been designated a no-fly zone, and anti-drone weaponry have also been deployed in anticipation of the PM’s visit.

The Congress gave the BJP, which had been in power for 15 years under Raman Singh, a crushing loss in the 2018 assembly elections. The BJP had only won 15 seats, while the Congress had won 68. There are 71 seats in the current Congress.

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India News

Punjab: Farmer’s rail roko protest enters 3rd day, disrupts train services

Many trains have been cancelled, short-terminated, or diverted as a result of the unrest, according to railway officials.



Punjab Farmer

The rail roko protest of Punjabi farmers demanding MSP legal protection, a broad debt relief, and compensation for crops damaged in the recent floods began its third day today.

Many trains have been cancelled, short-terminated, or diverted as a result of the unrest, according to railway officials.

As part of their three-day agitation, the farmers have been blocking railway tracks at various locations in Faridkot, Samrala, Moga, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Tarn Taran, Sangrur, Patiala, Ferozepur, Bathinda, and Amritsar since Thursday.

In Punjab and Haryana, the protest has halted hundreds of rail passengers.

A train passenger at the Ludhiana station claimed that he had travelled by road from Jalandhar City in order to board a train to Gorakhpur, but the arrival time of the train was unknown.

Another passenger at the station claimed that the Amritsar-bound train that was scheduled to carry 12 members of his family to Bihar had to be cancelled due to the unrest.

Later, they discovered that the family had journeyed by road from Amritsar and that the train would leave from Ludhiana. He continued, however, there has still been no update on the train.

According to officials, the Ambala and Ferozepur railway divisions have suffered specifically as a result of the farmers’ unrest.

The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Bharti Kisan Union (Krantikari), Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Azaad), Azaad Kisan Committee, Doaba, Bharti Kisan Union (Behramke), Bharti Kisan Union (Shaheed Bhagat Singh), and Bharti Kisan Union (Chottu Ram) are among the farmer organisations taking part in the three-day demonstration.

The angry farmers have stated that the three-day protest will end on Saturday.

Their requests include a financial aid package for those in north India hit by floods, a statutory guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP) for all crops, and a farmer debt forgiveness programme.

The Swaminathan Commission report’s proposals for MSP and a 50,000 crore flood relief package for the states of northern India are what the farmers are asking for.

In addition, they want the debt of all farmers and labourers to be forgiven, as well as compensation of Rs 10 lakh and a government job for the families of each farmer killed during the protests against the three farm laws that have since been repealed.

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India News

Sankalp Saptaah: PM Modi today launches week-long initiative for aspirational blocks at Bharat Mandapam

The country’s Sankalp Saptah programme, which is being implemented in 500 aspirational blocks throughout 329 districts, seeks to increase block-level government while also improving civilian quality of life.



Sankalp Saptaah

At Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced a week-long project named Sankalp Saptaah for the country’s aspirational groups.

He also conversed with attendees, including members from the panchayat and the block level.

The week-long programme, which is described in an official news release, is closely correlated with the national Aspirational Blocks Programme (ABP), which Modi introduced in January of this year.

The country’s Sankalp Saptah programme, which is being implemented in 500 aspirational blocks throughout 329 districts, seeks to increase block-level government while also improving civilian quality of life.

Chintan Shivirs were held nationwide at the village and block levels to help with the effective execution of the ABP and to create strong block development strategies. The result of these careful considerations, which will be seen in each of the 500 aspirational blocks, is Sankalp Saptaah.

On October 9, the final day of the seven-day event, a celebration of the week’s worth of effort will take place under the banner of Sankalp Saptaah – Samavesh Samaroh.

Speaking at the inaugural function, the prime minister claimed that more than 25 crore people’s lives in 112 districts throughout the nation had been improved by the aspirational districts plan. He asserted that the quality of living had changed. Now, the aspirational blocks programme will be built on the success of the aspirational districts programme, he said.

According to the statement, about 3,000 panchayat and block level functionaries and representatives of the people are expected to attend the inaugural event at Bharat Mandapam, in addition to about two lakh farmers, block and panchayat level functionaries, and people from other walks of life who will participate virtually.

Starting on October 3 and running through October 9, each day of Sankalp Saptaah is devoted to a distinct development subject on which all aspirational blocks will focus. Sampoorna Swasthya, Suposhit Pariwaar, Swachhta, Krishi, Shiksha, and Samridhi Diwas are some of the themes for the first six days, according to the statement.

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