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With Taliban encircling Kabul, India urges its nationals to leave Afghanistan on special flight today

The Taliban has taken control of six Afghan provincial capitals. This has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes for the relative safety of Kabul and other centres.

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Taliban encircling Kabul

Amid escalating fight between Taliban and Afghan forces, India on Tuesday urged its nationals in Afghanistan to leave the country today on a special flight from Mazar-e-Sharif.

A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening, Consulate General of India in Mazar-e-Sharif said in a tweet.

It asked Indian citizens who want to leave by the special flight to submit the details like their full name and passport number, date of expiry to the consulate immediately. Around 1,500 Indians are currently staying in Afghanistan, according to government data.

The Taliban has taken control of six Afghan provincial capitals. This has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes for the relative safety of Kabul and other centres.

Last month, India had evacuated around 50 diplomats from its Kandahar consulate amid deteriorating security situation and the Taliban capturing new areas around the southern Afghan city.

A spokesperson of the militants on Monday announced on social media that they had launched a four-pronged attack on the city. They have already captured Sheberghan to its west and Kunduz and Taloqan in the east. Now, the insurgents now have their eyes on Mazar-i-Sharif, the biggest city in the north and fourth largest in the country, whose fall would signal the total collapse of government control in a region.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled.

Read Also: Rahul Gandhi says a bit of Kashmiriyat still in his veins on first Kashmir visit after Article 370 abrogation

Afghanistan witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US looked to complete the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan by August-end, ending a nearly two-decade of its military presence in the war-ravaged country.

In other India news, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the government for its Kashmir doctrine saying he had an old association with the Union Territory.

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Lok Sabha Elections: Voter turnout 62.02% in Tamil Nadu till 5pm

The voter turnout in Tamil Nadu stands at 62.02%, while Uttar Pradesh records a turnout of 57.5%. Meanwhile, in West Bengal, voter participation surges to 77.5% as of 5 pm.

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The Lok Sabha elections 2024 began today, marking the onset of the world’s largest electoral event. Voting ended in all 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu with a total voter turnout of 62.02%. State BJP chief and Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency candidate K Annamalai said, they were getting complaints from a large number of voters that their names were missing from the voters’ list.

This incident happened in many places. Annamalai said they are demanding re-poll in places where the names of a large number of voters were missing.He said they had a doubt that there was some political interference because the names of a large number of BJP caders were missing from the voters list.

 The voters in South Chennai showed lukewarm interest to participate in the election process and had a total voter turnout of 57.04% till 5pm. Although the overall percentage is poor, some areas like Thiruvanmiyur witnessed brisk polling from 7am onwards. Elderly, middle aged and young voters turned up and it was a family outing for many as they cast their vote.

Corporation volunteers assisted senior citizens with wheelchairs and guided them to their respective polling booths. The hot weather also had an impact on the polling as it reduced the voter turnout as many booths in the corporation school in MGR Nagar were seen deserted around noon. Senior citizens showed courage as they reached the polling booths in private vehicles to exercise their franchise.

Most of the polling booths had shamianas for voters so that they could wait in a queue. Some people even found refuge in the nearby buildings to save themselves from the scorching heat. The polling officials gave instructions to the voters to keep their phones switched off while they exercised their franchise. The security personnel at the polling booth also regulated traffic outside the polling booth in MGR Nagar.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Deserted by key supporters, the Kamal Nath story looks set to wind to an end in Chhindwara

Nath’s closest allies in his near 50-year reign—Deepak Saxena and Kamlesh Shah—have deserted him. His local team of corporators has also decided to jump ship leaving a gaping hole in Nath’s campaign trail.

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By Neeraj Mishra

The Congress has lost Chhindwara only once since Independence when the wily Sunderlal Patwa was sent there by Atal Bihari Vajpayee to test Kamal Nath’s hold on the constituency. Patwa won the 1997 by-election by a slim margin in the backdrop of Nath having forced his wife to first contest and later vacate the seat for him. Nath, however, returned to his winning ways the very next year and has won the seat nine times.

It seems possible that Chhindwara, the lone surviving Congress seat, will be lost again this time and may be forever. A day ahead of polling, the town was drowned in saffron. Not so much the effect of vigorous campaigning by Vivek Sahu of the BJP but the Ram Navami festival which brought out saffron flags on every rooftop.  The effect is likely to last since the polling is today. At 77, Nath is unlikely to contest another election here and his son Nakul seems like a pale shadow of his father unable to even make a forceful speech. The days of running Chhindwara from Shikarpur kothi are gone.

Nath’s closest allies in his near 50-year reign—Deepak Saxena and Kamlesh Shah—have deserted him. His local team of corporators has also decided to jump ship leaving a gaping hole in Nath’s campaign trail. Nakul had won by a margin of 37,000 votes in 2019 and the biggest lead had come from Kamlesh’s Amarwada Assembly segment. With Saxena in control of Chhindwara and forced to show his strength in his new party, it is highly likely that Nakul will not be depending on these segments. Instead, the Congress campaign was focused on Pandhurna, Parasia and Chaurai.

Amit Shah was in the region a couple of days ago and warned all BJP workers—old and new—against lethargy. His message was clear, the BJP wants all 29 seats this time. Cabinet Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya is camped here and using all his political acumen for the desired results. One such tactic was to raid the Shikarpur Kothi of Kamal Nath for his assistant Miglani who handles almost everything for him. With Miglani temporarily neutralised, BJP is best placed to repeat its win in Chhindwara in 1997.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Lok Sabha Elections 2024:  Nearly 40% voter turnout till 1pm

Chennai recorded an average voter turnout of 34% as of 1 pm on Friday. According data released by the Election Commission of India, Chennai (North) recorded 35%, Chennai (Central) recorded 32.3% and Chennai (South) recorded 34%.

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The first phase of voting for the 18th Lok Sabha elections started taking place in 21 states and Union territories on Friday. Nearly 40% voter turnout was recorded till 1pm across the states. Seats in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Puducherry go to elections on Friday.

There has been a substantial increase in the voter turnout charts across the Northeast states, with Tripura leading at 53.04% until 1 pm, as per the data released by the Election Commission of India. Other northeast states like Manipur (46.92%) and Meghalaya (48.91%) are also witnessing high voter turnout. After Tripura, West Bengal is experiencing a high voter turnout of 50.96%.

Chennai recorded an average voter turnout of 34% as of 1 pm on Friday. According data released by the Election Commission of India, Chennai (North) recorded 35%, Chennai (Central) recorded 32.3% and Chennai (South) recorded 34%.

Over 33% voter turnout was recorded in the first 6 hours of voting on Friday in 12 parliamentary constituencies of Rajasthan. According to the Election Commission, voting started at 7 am amid tight security arrangements and 33.73 % voting took place till 1 pm. The highest voter turnout of 40.72 % was recorded in the Ganganagar Lok Sabha seat while Karauli-Dholpur saw the lowest turnout of 28.32 %. Jaipur recorded a poll percentage of 39.35 %.

Over 37 % voter turnout was recorded till 1 pm in the Lok Sabha election being held for five parliamentary constituencies in Uttarakhand on Friday. Elections began at 7 am and the five constituencies recorded an overall poll percentage of 37.33 % up to 1 pm. The Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar seat recorded the highest turnout of 40.46 %, followed by Haridwar with 39.41%, Pauri Garhwal with 36.60 %, Tehri Garhwal with 35.29 % and Almora with 32.29 %.

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