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Modi to visit Paravur Puttingal temple in Kerala following fire accident

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Image source: indianexpress.com

April 10,2016: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be arriving here on Sunday to visit the Paravur Puttingal temple where 96 people lost their lives following an accident caused by a firework display.

The temple is located in the coastal town of Paravur here in Kollam district, about 60 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

More than 350 people have been injured in the ghastly accident and being treated in 12 hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts.

Prime Minister Modi spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who is on his way to the accident site.

“I will be reaching Kerala soon to take stock of the situation arising due to the unfortunate fire tragedy in Kollam,” Modi tweeted.

The prime minister has announced Rs.two lakh each as compensation to the next of the kin of the dead and Rs.50,000 to the injured.

Governor of Kerala P. Sathasivam has expressed deep sense of sorrow, shock and concern over the tragic deaths in the accident.

“Such tragic incidents are also a grim reminder of the urgent need to adhere to safety measures during festivals,” Sathasivam said in a statement.

Chandy told IANS that an emergency cabinet meeting will be held at Kollam on Sunday afternoon to decide on how to go about the investigation into the tragedy and related matters.

The chief minister tweeted that he had asked the chief secretary to write to the Election Commission seeking permission to help the victims as it is election time in the state.

Kerala’s Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told reporters at the accident site that the government is focussed on ensuring that all necessary help is provided to the victims who are suffering.

“On things like whether necessary permissions were obtained for the firework display and such issues will be dealt with when the cabinet meets later in the day at Kollam. Now our priority is to see all help is provided to the grieving,” said Chennithala.

The incident occurred around 3.30 a.m. on Sunday.

Speaking to IANS, Lallu S. Pillai, a journalist covering the temple festival for Asianet News TV, said it only took a few minutes for the disaster to take place.

“I was watching the event unfold about 150 metres from the terrace of my friend’s home. The firework display was about half an hour to finish when a spark of an already lit cracker landed in the concrete building that stored the high potency crackers. In few minutes, the building came crashing down and we felt the place shaking,” said Pillai.

“Then it was absolute chaos and pieces of concrete were scattered all over the place and some of it were found about 500 metres away in a taxi stand,” Pillai added.

Numerous homes within half a kilometre radius of the accident site have been damaged.

Thiruvananthapuram Medical College principal Thomas Mathew said about 100 people are being treated at the hospital.

“Forty five of them have been admitted and most of them are being treated for broken bones in their hands and legs. Eleven of them were brought dead, while another two died after reaching here,” said Mathew.

All the leading political parties have as a mark of respect cancelled all their election programmes for the day.

“We have asked our party workers to see that they provide all the help and solace to the victims,” CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters after visiting the injured in the hospital in the capital city.

The BJP has cancelled all the programme of its national president Amit Shah, who was to launch his party’s election campaign on Sunday at Pathanamthitta and is reaching the state capital to visit the injured.

The state Congress party president V.M. Sudheeran has asked his party workers to call off all election related work planned for Sunday.

The fire has been brought under control and heavy equipment machineries are now working to clear the debris.

Kollam Lok Sabha member N.K. Premachandran who visited the site demanded that all those who have been injured should be given free treatment with adequate compensation. (IANS)

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As The Election Nears, India’s Opposition Promises Several Economic Steps

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a "desperate alliance," while the BJP would give a "strong government."

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Rahul Gandhi, Election
Rahul Gandhi, president of India's main opposition Congress Party, speaks at a rally ahead of October's 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

India’s main opposition Congress Party will simplify the goods and services tax (GST) and make “rational economic decisions” to attract foreign investment if voted back to power in a general election due by May, leader Rahul Gandhi said Saturday.

Launched in 2017, the GST was initially hailed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest economic reform as it replaced more than a dozen federal and state levies and unified Asia’s third-largest economy.

But its chaotic implementation and complexities — months after a shock ban by Modi on high-value bank currency aimed at unearthing untaxed wealth — badly hurt small businesses and led to millions of job losses in the cash-driven economy, presenting the biggest challenge to Modi’s re-election chances.

India,India, elections, BJP
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents in New Delhi, India. VOA

 

Gandhi, scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, said during a visit to Dubai that foreign investment was at a multiyear low in India because of the “ill-advised and badly thought out economic moves” such as the currency ban and a “poorly designed GST.”

Quick growth promised

“We will take some rational economic decisions,” he told a press conference, which was broadcast live on Twitter. “We will restructure the GST and we will embrace investments from the Middle East and other parts of the world. We are the party of [India’s economic] liberalization; we are the party that gave the fastest economic growth in the first decade of the century, and will do that again.”

He said his main priority would be to create jobs, simplify the GST, rebuild confidence in institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India — whose governor resigned recently after a fight over autonomy with the government, and the Supreme Court.

Modi, election
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

 

Four Supreme Court judges held a rare press conference early last year, saying that “unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country.”

Modi told a BJP convention in New Delhi on Saturday that for Congress “every institution was wrong and only they were right.”

The Congress press conference was organized by the Indian Overseas Congress, which is present in about 35 countries, as Gandhi tries to reach out to rich Indians living abroad for funds and social media support for the party that has dominated the country’s politics for decades before being nearly decimated in the last general election in 2014 by Modi.

But back home, Gandhi received a jolt when bitter rivals, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), announced an election tie-up without Congress in Uttar Pradesh state, which sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament.

Narendra Modi, India, election
Elaborate preparations for PM’s election rally. VOA

“The BSP and SP have made a political decision,” Gandhi said. “It’s on us on how to strengthen the Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity. Whether we do or their alliance does, the BJP is not winning there.”

Also Read:China, India Keen on Joint Ventures For e-vehicles

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a “desperate alliance,” while the BJP would give a “strong government.”

The Hindu nationalist BJP lost power in three key states recently, forcing the government to announce a flurry of measures to woo small businesses and the less well-off since then. (VOA)