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Maharashtra health workers to go on strike today, demand better pay for Covid duties

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More than 72,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) have decided to go on strike across Maharashtra on Tuesday to demand better pay for Covid duties. The health workers have refused to continue with Covid work unless their monetary incentive is increased.

ASHA workers are the backbone of the healthcare system in rural areas, servicing at least 72 health programmes. They have been conducting surveys to screen symptomatic Covid cases for the last one year.

Nashik-based ASHA worker Maya Bholap had complained that they have paid little and we work eight hours a day. Government is paying Rs 33 per day for Covid surveys. Apart from Covid-related work, their duties include prenatal and postnatal care, immunisation drives for children, population-based screening for disease surveillance among others. Demanding more safety measures, Bholap said the ASHAs are not provided PPE and the sanitisers were given last year.

Vinod Zodge from All India Trade Union Congress said they had demanded Rs 500 per day for Covid work. The entire workforce will go on a day’s strike on Tuesday and has decided to stop doing Covid duty from now.

Last month, the state government asked ASHAs to conduct RT-PCR and rapid antigen testing. After strong opposition from ASHAs, who said they neither knew the technical skill nor had personal protective equipment (PPE), the state government withdrew the directive. Multipurpose health workers and auxiliary nurse midwives have now been tasked to conduct Covid tests.

The ASHA workers said their regular health programmes took eight hours every day, and that the additional Covid work took up more time. .

The ASHA workforce has demanded that beds must be reserved for them and their families if they contract Covid-19 and need hospitalisation. Unions have also demanded free treatment.

Across Maharashtra, at least 570 ASHA workers have been infected with Covid-19. M A Patil from Maharashtra Rajya ASHA Gatpravatak Karamchari Kruti Samiti said the demands by ASHAs had been pending for a long time.

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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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