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Jharkhand Land Scam: Hemant Soren Named Prime Accused, ED Chargesheet Says Files Labelled ‘CMO’ Seized

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Former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren being produced by the ED in a special PMLA court in Ranchi. (Image: PTI/File)

The ED has filed a 5,700-page chargesheet that has details of all ‘relied upon documents’, including those from the CMO that were seized from the office of another accused directly managing the land deals

In a 5,700-page chargesheet, the Enforcement Directorate has named Jharkhand’s former chief minister Hemant Soren as the prime accused along with five of his associates, in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam. It includes ‘relied upon documents’ labelled as being from the chief minister’s office, seized from the office of another accused who directly managed the land deals.

The chargesheet, known as the prosecution complaint, was filed on March 30 with an attachment order for the land parcels worth Rs 30 crore. News18 has learnt that it has 218 pages with operative details of the case, including 5,500 pages of ‘relied upon documents’.

At least five to six files have details of the land deals, other documents and deeds as well as the money that came from the land, which the ED recovered from the office of a person under arrest in the case. A source in the central agency said the files have notes referring to the chief minister’s office (CMO) and are even labelled ‘CMO’. These have been attached in the chargesheet, which includes payment receipts for the land deals and the plans for building an integrated banquet hall complex.

Hemant Soren was arrested on January 31 after a seven-hour interrogation and high drama over nominating his successor. Following a family feud – opposition from his sister-in-law Sita Soren and brother Basant Soren, both JMM MLAs – he handed over the charge to his loyalist Champai Soren, who was holding the charge of the state’s transport minister. Sita later joined the BJP and has now been fielded as a candidate from Dumka in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

It had taken eight ignored summons, a disappearance from his official residence and choosing to be “untraceable” for more than 40 hours while officers waited to question him, and an FIR against senior ED officials under the SC/ST Act, to take the former chief minister into custody.



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Kaziranga Lok Sabha Election 2024: 6 Facts You Need to Know About Assam’s Newly Formed Constituency

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Voting for Lok Sabha Election 2024 in Kaziranga will take place on April 19. (Image: Shutterstock)

Voting for Lok Sabha election in the Kaziranga constituency will take place in the first phase of polls on April 19. The counting of votes will take place on June 4.

Kaziranga (erstwhile Kaliabor) Lok Sabha constituency is one of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam. It was newly created during delimitation in August 2023. Voting for Lok Sabha election in the Kaziranga constituency will take place in the first phase of polls on April 19. The counting of votes will take place on June 4. The Kaziranga seat consists of Kaliabor, Barhampur, Binnakandi, Hojai, Lumding, Golaghat, Dergaon and Khumtai, Bokakhat and Sarupathar assembly segments.

Key Facts About the Kaziranga Seat

The Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency was struck down during the delimitation process by the Election Commission in August 2023 and was replaced by Kaziranga. Here are some interesting facts about this Lok Sabha seat.

  1. Right from Tarun Gogoi (Former Assam CM) to his brother Deep Gogoi and his son Gaurav Gogoi, Kaliabor had been the domain of the Congress (with occasional upsets by the Ahom Gana Parishad).
  2. But the delimitation exercise has seen the nature of the constituency change considerably. It has changed the voter demography of the constituency making it a viable proposition for the BJP in 2024.
  3. With considerable tea gardens in the constituency and sizeable tea garden voters, state government policies on worker wages have given the BJP a leading edge.
  4. The Kaliabor constituency has 17,34,938 registered voters. There’s a nearly even split between genders with 690,698 males and 657,673 females registered to vote. Kaliabor has a sex ratio of 952 females per 1000 males (2011 census).
  5. The literacy rate of Kaliabor is 69.59%. Kaliabor Circle faces a literacy gap, with males having a literacy rate of 65.17% compared to females at 53.72%.
  6. Hindus form the largest religious group at 73.03%. Muslims comprise a significant minority at 21.67%. Christians make up a smaller minority at 4.67%.

2019 Election Results and 2024 Candidates

Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress won the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Kaliabar with 7,85,014 votes, defeating AGP’s Moni Madhab Mahanta.

For the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, BJP has fielded Rajya Sabha MP and tea community leader Kahakhya Tassa in Kaziranga. The Congress has fielded Roselina Tirkey, a woman leader from the tea garden community, to counter BJP’s strategic move.

Key Issues

Kaziranga is central to wildlife preservation. It is home to one of the most significant National Parks in the country. Hence, wildlife forms the core of all issues on this seat.

  1. Disguised unemployment is a major issue in Kaliabor, as it is in the new constituency Kaziranga. There are reports of unemployed youths joining ULFA.
  2. Kaziranga National Park, under the present BJP led Assam Government, has witnessed almost no poaching, which during the Congress government was a major issue and state concern.
  3. Tiger conservation efforts have also achieved major success, and the park has received major international recognition.
  4. Man-Elephant conflicts are common. There are allegations of encroachments into the elephant corridor. General encroachment into forest land has been a major concern in the constituency.
  5. Perennial problem of flood erosion has been bane for Kaziranga National Park.
  6. Other issues include primary education, impurities in river water and problems faced by farmers and public health infrastructure. Other constituency issues include anemia and malnutrition rates which are one of the highest in the country.
  7. Border issues with Nagaland and permanent settlement of migrants is another issue.
  8. Charges of corruption by the INC on Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma has been the highlight of the opposition. It was mentioned recently by Rahul Gandhi in Kaliabar in his East to West Bharat Jodo Yatra.



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JDS Will Disappear, Says DK Shivakumar on Party’s Tie-Up With BJP; Slams Centre’s Step-Motherly Treatment Towards Southern States

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DK Shivakumar said HD Kumaraswamy contesting from Mandya would have no impact on Congress’ fortunes in neighbouring seats. (PTI)

Karnataka’s deputy chief minister questioned the tax devolution and delay in releasing drought relief funds to Karnataka

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar is hopping from one constituency to another in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, especially with a special thrust on the old Mysuru region, where the Congress wants to counter the BJP-JDS alliance.

Shivakumar also has to focus on Bengaluru Rural where his brother and MP DK Suresh is up against a formidable challenge in the form of Dr Manjunath, the NDA candidate. On his way to campaign for his brother, the KPCC president spoke exclusively to News18 about the BJP-JDS alliance, PM Modi’s guarantee and his chief ministerial ambitions.

The BJP-JDS alliance had been a hot topic of discussion, with political pundits keenly watching whether the JDS will successfully transfer its votes to BJP and if Congress can hold on to the Vokkaliga votes it gained in the assembly election last year, especially in the Old Mysuru region. Shivakumar argues that the BJP-JDS alliance won’t work and the Congress, in fact, will gain more Vokkaliga votes this election.

“JDS has no ethical values. Their alliance won’t work. They might have joined together at national level, but it is not so easy. Some of the votes may transfer but alliance may not work. Many will join BJP and JDS will disappear. We will add more Vokkaliga votes,” said Shivakumar.

He also said HD Kumaraswamy contesting from Mandya would have no impact on Congress’ fortunes in neighbouring seats. “Kumaraswamy did a blunder by contesting from Mandya,” he added.

“What is Modi’s Guarantee? Educate me”

The Congress government has based its campaign on its five guarantees that it rolled out after coming to power in the state last year.

The Gruha Lakshmi scheme, which provides Rs 2,000 to every woman household head, and the free bus travel for women have been a hit and party leaders don’t forget to mention them in campaigns. With the BJP countering it with the ‘Modi Ki Guarantee’ slogan, the Congress state president questioned what the guarantee was.

“What is Modi’s guarantee? They were supposed to get black money from abroad and put it in Jan Dan Account that they operated. Is that the guarantee? They said 2 crore jobs for youth, is that the guarantee? They said farmers’ incomes will be doubled. Is that the guarantee? Have they been implemented? Please educate me on this,” said Shivakumar.

“South Ignored”

Apart from the five guarantees, the Congress campaign revolves around the Union government’s step-motherly treatment towards Karnataka and southern states in tax devolution and delay in releasing drought relief funds to Karnataka.

“I congratulate Nirmala Sitharaman for having agreed that there was a delay in providing drought relief. We have given the representation in time. The Union government knows the state’s situation and how the drought has affected the common man. We declared 200 taluks as drought-hit according to norms given by the Centre and then sent them a request. Home Minister Amit Shah said he will call a meeting, and PM Modi said they will release funds that they were supposed to give. Even in the last budget they assured a lot of funds. Under MGNREGA, 50 more man days had to be added. The Centre has completely neglected the state government. They are just looking at politics, not the state,” he said.

Defending his brother’s comments about tax devolution and southern states, Shivakumar argued that Suresh had not spoken about dividing the country but was trying to highlight the step-motherly treatment.

“The entire South India has spoken in the same tone. We are getting only around 13 per cent (of taxes contributed). We don’t expect 100 per cent tax contributed. We haven’t been treated well. The entire world is looking at Karnataka through Bengaluru. We should get our right. Suresh is not a mad man to speak about dividing the country. Congress has always kept the country united. The Gandhi family has kept the party and country united. He said nothing has been given to South India and Karnataka in the budget. Others are politicising the issue,” he argued.

The deputy chief minister refused to comment on his chief ministerial dreams and also hit out at the BJP, saying that the saffron party was claiming the Congress government would collapse after the assembly election just to keep its flock together.

“This is not the right time to speak about it (becoming CM). BJP is saying Congress government will fall just to keep their flock together. Nothing of that sort will happen. Karnataka has a strong government,” he said.



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How PM Modi’s ‘Health Insurance for 70+’ Scheme Will Cushion Middle Class, Benefit BJP in Battle 2024

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BJP MP Manoj Tiwari told News18 that PM Modi himself is 70-plus and has thought of those of his age in an immensely humane gesture. (PTI)

A Union minister told News18 that the BJP went by widespread public feedback to extend medical insurance coverage under Ayushman Bharat to all Indians above the age of 70 years

Over six crore senior citizens in India will benefit from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to extend medical insurance coverage under Ayushman Bharat to all Indians above the age of 70 years if the BJP is voted to power.

The BJP went by widespread public feedback to include this point in the manifesto, a Union minister told News18. “Most medical insurance companies don’t offer medical insurance to those above 70 years of age, as they anticipate a high number of claims from this age group. The few insurers who do offer medical insurance to those above 70 years of age have extremely high annual premiums that many middle-class families can’t afford,” the minister explained to News18.

Another government source said there are also pre-ailment clauses that don’t cover existing ailments for two-three years. “In short, the policy is not effective for two to three years despite paying a heavy premium,” the source explained. He said incidentally, this age group above 70 is the one that needs medical insurance the most as they are prone to falling sick or already suffering from serious ailments like heart disease, kidney ailments and lung or brain diseases.

“The situation is even more precarious post the Covid-19 pandemic as immunity of those above 70 years of age is more vulnerable after the pandemic,” another government source said. “Many 70+ age people suffering from serious ailments require costly medical treatment but the middle class has no option to pay for it from their pocket or cough up heavy premiums that upset their budget,” the source said.

A BJP leader said: “Over six crore people in India are above 70 years of age. They will be appreciative of this move, plus their families will be thankful for such a big step.”

BJP MP Manoj Tiwari told News18 that the PM himself is 70-plus and has thought of those of his age in an immensely humane gesture. The Ayushman Bharat Yojana offers free medical insurance of Rs 5 lakh per year to a poor family. BJP has promised that every person above 70 years of age will now be covered under the scheme.



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