Saturday December 15, 2018

Thousands take holy dip in Godavari

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Khammam/Rajahmundry: Tens of thousands thronged the banks of the Godavari in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to take a holy dip on Saturday, the last day of Godavari maha pushkaralu, a de facto Kumbh mela. Amrit Nectar of Immortality

People queued up at the ghats along the river as the 12-day event is set to conclude.

Authorities have taken extra measures for the safety of the pilgrims in view of the massive rush on the last day.

The administration is on high alert in Rajahmundry in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh where 27 pilgrims were killed in a stampede on the first day of the festival on July 14.

Policemen, firefighters and expert divers have been deployed at Pushkar Ghat, where the stampede had occurred and five other ghats in Rajahmundry.

In Telangana, the authorities were on high alert in view of the rise in water level. Additional precautionary measures were taken in temple towns of Bhadrachalam, Dharampuri and Kaleshwaram.

Pilgrims were cautioned against crossing the barricades at the ghats.

Officials claimed that nearly 10 crore people have so far taken the dip.

While 5.12 crore people took a dip in the river in the five districts of Telangana till Friday, this number crossed 4.50 crore in East Godavari and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh on Saturday morning.

More than one crore people are expected to participate in the event in the two states on the last day.

The festival will end on Saturday evening with rituals including ‘pushkar jyothi’ and grand ‘arathi’ at various pilgrim centers.

Though pushkaralu take place once in 12 years, this time it is considered very auspicious. Priests say such an event comes once in 144 years.

People from across the country took the holy dip in the Godavari, known as the southern Ganga. Naga Sadhus had ‘shahi snan’ or royal bath in the temple town of Bhadrachalam in Khammam district of Telangana.

While Telangana constructed 106 bathing ghats in five districts, Andhra made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims at 280 ghats in the two districts.

The chief ministers of the two states had flagged off the festival by taking the dip along with their family members in their respective states on July 14.

In Rajahmundry, the event began on a tragic note as minutes after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu took the dip at Pushkar ghat, a stampede broke out killing two pilgrims.

Shaken by the tragedy, Naidu decided to camp in the town for the entire duration of the festival to monitor the proceedings.

The authorities subsequently improved the crowd management and ensured smooth conduct of the festival.

Telangana Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao also directed his cabinet colleagues and top officials to stay in the towns assigned to them till the last pilgrim takes the dip.

(IANS)

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Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi Among Top Names To Start Telangana Campaign

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India, elections, vietnam, BJP
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Top Congress and BJP leaders, Narendra Modi and Rahul gandhi are all set to plunge into the electioneering in Telangana for the next month’s Assembly polls even as the ruling TRS has had a head start.

With the deadline for withdrawal of nominations coming to an end on Thursday, all major contenders were finalising their schedules for their star campaigners.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu, several central ministers and top leaders of the two national parties were set to hit the campaign trail.

Sonia Gandhi will be addressing an election meeting at Medchal on the outskirts here on November 23. The meet was expected to give a headstart to the party’s campaign as it heads a four-party ‘Mahakutami’ or grand alliance ahead of the single phase December 7 polls.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will share the stage with his mother on Friday at the meet.

As this is Sonia Gandhi’s first visit to Telangana after the formation of the state, the party leaders were holding it as a thanksgiving event in her honour for carving out the state.

Rahul Gandhi will again visit Telangana on November 28 and 29 and later on December 3 to address a series of rallies in different parts of the state.

"He can throw up a serious challenge to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019," the Sena cautioned in an editorial in the party mouthpieces "Saamana" and "Dopahar Ka Saamana".
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Modi was expected to give boost to the Bharatiya Janata Party campaign by addressing a few rallies on November 27 and December 3. State BJP leaders say Modi may participate in the campaign in four districts, including here, covering the constituencies where the party is considered strong.

BJP chief Amit Shah, who addressed a couple of public meetings during September and October, plans to visit Telangana for three days soon to address 12 rallies.

Party’s Telangana unit president K. Laxman said Amit Shah will address the meetings on November 25, 27 and 28.

BJP is contesting all 119 seats on its own. Several union ministers are also likely to campaign for the party candidates. Health Minister J.P. Nadda and party general secretary Ram Madhav have already addressed a few meetings.

In his first-ever election in alliance with Congress party, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is likely to address a few rallies. Party leaders say he may share the dais with Rahul Gandhi.

TDP, a constituent of ‘Mahakutami’ is contesting on 14 seats. Popular actor and TDP MLA N. Balakrishna may also address a few meetings, especially in Kukatpally constituency here, where his niece N. Suhasini is a candidate.

Suhasini is the granddaughter of TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao. Her actor brothers Junior NTR and Kalyan Ram are also likely to campaign for her.

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Modi, Rahul among top names to start Telangana campaign.

Meanwhile, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is racing ahead in the campaign with party president and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao addressing series of rallies. He is criss-crossing the state in a helicopter, seeking fresh mandate.

KCR, who had already addressed few meetings after dissolving the state assembly in September, plans to address 90 meetings in 15 days.

KCR’s son K.T. Rama Rao is another key campaigner for the party. He has hit campaign trail here and in surrounding districts, focusing on constituencies with sizeable number of voters who have their roots in Andhra Pradesh.

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Besides, KCR’s daughter and party MP K. Kavitha and nephew Harish Rao were the other key campaigners for the party.

The campaign of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is being led by its president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi. He is addressing public meetings and conducting foot march for his party’s candidates in the eight constituencies here. (IANS)