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India’s over two-month-long acrimonious election campaign concludes

India began voting in seven phases in the world’s largest election on April 19

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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Mumbai (Reuters): More than two months of gruelling and acrimonious campaigning in India’s general election that played out in sweltering heat ended on Thursday, two days before the final phase of polling, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency will cast its votes.

India began voting in seven phases in the world’s largest election on April 19 and it is set to conclude on June 1. Votes will be counted on June 4 although television channels conduct exit polls and project results after voting ends.

Modi, who is seeking a record-equalling third straight term and is widely expected to win, began his re-election campaign by focusing on his achievements over the last 10 years but soon switched to mostly targeting the opposition by accusing them of favouring India’s minority Muslims.

This change of tack, analysts said, was likely aimed at firing up his Hindu nationalist base after a low turnout in the first phase sparked concerns that supporters of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were not voting.

India’s election rules stop campaigning about 36 hours before voting begins.

Modi addressed one rally in the northern state of Punjab on Thursday, while his main opponent, the Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi, spoke at rallies in the states of Odisha and Punjab.

“It is clear from the overwhelming support of people … that there is going to be an unprecedented victory” for BJP and the alliance it leads, Modi posted on X minutes before campaigning ended.

Modi will spend the next two days meditating at the southernmost tip of India at an island memorial for Hindu philosopher Swami Vivekananda, located at where the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean converge.

Opposition parties criticised his decision, saying it was a form of campaigning as his meditation would be shown on TV and so was in breach of the rules, with the Congress complaining to the Election Commission.

“This is a blatant violation of the code of conduct. We don’t mind if he goes to meditate anywhere after June 1,” Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said.

Modi meditated at a cave in the Himalayas two days before the last phase of voting in 2019, an election BJP won resoundingly.

While opinion polls say his popularity has not waned, his opponents have criticised him for his divisive politics and on issues such as unemployment, inflation and rural distress.

“No PM, in the past, has uttered hateful, unparliamentary, and coarse terms … meant to target either a specific section of society or opposition,” former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a letter to voters in Punjab on Thursday.

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Entertainment

Gary Lineker, Jemima Goldsmith spotted on cozy dinner date in London

The 63-year-old Match Of The Day presenter and Goldsmith, who is 13 years his junior, appeared jovial as they laughed and joked throughout the meal, accompanied by a female friend

Published by Hussnain Bhutta

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London: The speculation about a budding romance has ignited as former England football captain Gary Lineker and socialite Jemima Goldsmith were spotted sharing a cozy dinner at a Notting Hill restaurant.

The 63-year-old Match Of The Day presenter and Goldsmith, who is 13 years his junior, appeared jovial as they laughed and joked throughout the meal, accompanied by a female friend.

After their dining experience, Lineker was seen leaving the restaurant carrying leftover boxes, with Jemima by his side, laughing and maintaining a low profile.

Their enjoyable evening in west London has fueled further speculation about the nature of their relationship.

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Pakistan

KP CM approves action plan to combat narcotics use in province

Ali Amin Gandapur decides to establish a special task force dedicated to fighting narcotics

Published by Hussnain Bhutta

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Peshawar: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur on Thursday approved a action plan to combat narcotics use in the province.

During a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, the roles and responsibilities of the relevant departments were delineated, and it was decided to establish a special task force dedicated to fighting narcotics.

The action plan included collaborating with private institutions to rehabilitate approximately 2,000 addicts. It was highlighted during the meeting that drug use is increasingly prevalent in educational institutions.

To address this issue, there will be secret and mandatory screenings of students, with the results shared exclusively with their parents.

Additionally, the meeting sanctioned measures to crack down on drug traffickers.

Chief Minister Gandapur stressed that the rising drug usage has reached an alarming level, necessitating serious and coordinated efforts for effective prevention. He emphasized the urgent need for decisive action to curb this growing menace.

 

 

 

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