Hamas fires missiles at Tel Aviv, prompting sirens in Israel for first time in months

News Network
May 26, 2024

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Cairo/Jerusalem, May 26: Hamas said it launched missiles at Tel Aviv on Sunday, prompting sirens to sound in the Israeli city for the first time in four months as the Palestinian group sought to show military strength despite Israel's Gaza offensive.

The Israeli military said eight projectiles were identified crossing from the area of Rafah, the southern tip of the Gaza Strip where Israel kept up genocidal operation despite a ruling by the top U.N. court ordering it to stop attacking the city.

The Israeli military said a number of the projectiles were intercepted. Israeli emergency services said they had received no reports of casualties.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the Hamas al-Qassam Brigades said the rockets were launched in response to "Zionist massacres against civilians".

Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV said the rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip.

Rafah is located about 100 km (60 miles) south of Tel Aviv.

Israel claims it wants to root out Hamas fighters holed up in Rafah and rescue hostages it says are being held in the area, but its assault has worsened the plight of civilians and caused an international outcry.

On Sunday, Israeli strikes killed at least five Palestinians in Rafah, according to local medical services.

Israeli tanks have probed around the edges of the city, close to the main southern crossing point into Egypt, but have not yet entered the city in force.

Following the rocket salvo, Israel's hardline public security minister Itamar Ben Gvir - who is not part of Israel's war cabinet - urged the army to hit Rafah harder.

"Rafah with full force," he posted on X.

The development came amid a genocidal war that the Israeli regime has been waging against Gaza since October 7.

Nearly 36,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have died as a result of the brutal military onslaught that began following Al-Aqsa Storm, a retaliatory operation staged by the coastal sliver’s resistance movements.

Despite the unabated campaign of bloodshed and destruction, the regime has so far fallen short of realizing its goals.

These include defeating Gaza’s resistance, enabling liberation of those who were taken captive during Al-Aqsa Storm, and causing forced displacement of Gaza’s entire population to neighboring Egypt.

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News Network
June 10,2024

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New Delhi: The 71 Union ministers who were sworn in alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday include 10 Dalits, 27 from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), 21 from the ‘upper’ castes, five from tribal groups and five representing religious minorities. However, there are no Muslims. 

In the previous term of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was the minority affairs minister, but he resigned in 2022 after his term in the Rajya Sabha came to an end and was replaced by Smriti Irani. This time, no Muslim minister has been sworn in. No Muslim MPs from the NDA were elected to the Lok Sabha this time.

The five ministers from minority communities in the Modi Government 3.0 include Hardeep Singh Puri, Ravneet Singh Bittu, George Kurian, Kiren Rijiju and Ramdas Athawale. While Puri and Athawale are Rajya Sabha MPs and Rijiju won the Lok Sabha elections from Arunachal Pradesh, Bittu lost the elections from Punjab and Kurian, a Kerala BJP general secretary, did not contest.

After the 2019 general election, 57 ministers were sworn in, of whom 32 were from ‘upper’ castes, 13 from OBCs, six from Scheduled Castes and four from Scheduled Tribes. However, the Council of Ministers was subsequently expanded in 2021 and included 27 OBCs, 12 SCs, eight STs and 30 from the ‘upper’ castes. 

The share of representatives of the ‘upper’ castes is down after many ‘upper-caste’ candidates lost in Uttar Pradesh.

Dalit and tribal groups

In Modi’s second term, the late Ram Vilas Paswan, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Virendra Kumar were among the Dalit ministers. Kumar, who had succeeded Gehlot as the minister for social justice and empowerment, has made it to the cabinet this time, too, after winning his eighth Lok Sabha election from Madhya Pradesh. 

Besides him, Paswan’s son and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan, and former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, are among the new Dalit cabinet ministers.

Arjun Ram Meghwal from Rajasthan, who was serving as the law minister in the previous term, has been inducted this time as minister of state (independent charge). In addition, Athawale, S.P. Singh Baghel, L. Murugan and Kamlesh Paswan will be ministers of state.

 A senior BJP leader said, “More Dalit ministers have been added this time, which was necessary since the party lost a significant chunk of Dalit votes. Not just that, religious minorities ranging from Sikhs to Christians have been given representation.” 

There are also five ministers from tribal groups, same as the 2019-2024 term. Jual Oram from Odisha, who had also served as a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet and has won the Lok Sabha elections six times, has been elevated to the position of a cabinet minister. Arjun Munda, another prominent tribal leader from the party, lost the election this time.

Sarbananda Sonowal, Savitri Thakur and Durga Das Uikey are other ministers from tribal groups.

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News Network
June 7,2024

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President Droupadi Murmu on Friday invited Narendra Modi to form a government at the Centre after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) elected him as the parliamentary party leader. PM Modi met the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan to stake claim to form the government.

Narendra Modi is expected to be sworn in as the Prime Minister for the third time at 6 pm on June 9 (Sunday).

Addressing the media after his meeting with the President, Narendra Modi said that President Murmu gave him the letter to designate him as the Prime Minister and sought details of a suitable time for the swearing-in ceremony. She also sought the list of ministers to take the oath with him, the PM-designate said.

"The NDA meeting was held earlier today, where friends from the alliance have chosen me for this responsibility. All the NDA allies informed the President about this, and the President called me and appointed me as PM-designate. She informed me about the swearing-in ceremony and list of Cabinet ministers. I have informed her that evening of June 9 will be suitable for us," Narendra Modi told reporters.

The NDA, consisting of the BJP, Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, and Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena among others, has 293 MPs, comfortably above the majority mark of 272 in the 543-member Lok Sabha. The alliance has submitted its list of MPs to the President today.

Earlier today, the NDA leaders assembled here at the Central Hall of the old Parliament Building. Besides NDA MPs, senior leaders of the alliance, including chief ministers, were present. Besides Chandrabadu Naidu, Nitish Kumar and Eknath Shinde, Chirag Paswan, Jitan Ram Manjhi, Anupriya Patel, Pawan Kalyan were among the NDA leaders present on the main dais, alongside senior BJP leaders.

Senior leader Rajnath Singh proposed a resolution in support of Modi's leadership and the NDA MPs endorsed it. Later, the list of parliamentarians supporting Narendra Modi was submitted to the president.

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News Network
June 5,2024

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Riding on the Hindutva wave and replacing sitting MPs with new candidates, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has succeeded in retaining its strongholds in coastal Karnataka — Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, and Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha constituencies.

Although the victory margins have decreased in all constituencies, a strong organizational network and the Hindutva factor seem to have helped the BJP overcome anti-incumbency sentiment. All three elected MPs will enter the Lok Sabha for the first time.

The Congress appears to have failed in mobilizing its grassroots volunteers and strengthening its organizational networks in these regions. Even the party's guarantee schemes did not seem to significantly influence the election outcomes.

Dakshina Kannada

In Dakshina Kannada, which faced a notable anti-incumbency sentiment, BJP’s Brijesh Chowta defeated Congress’ Padmaraj R. Poojary. Brijesh’s efforts to placate discontented BJP and RSS workers, his focus on the Hindutva factor, development, and local leaders’ efforts to unite various factions within the BJP contributed to his victory with a margin of 1,49,208 votes. In 2019, the BJP had won by a margin of 2,74,621.

Prime Minister Modi held a roadshow in Mangaluru to bolster support for the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi-Chikmagalur candidates, particularly after dissatisfaction with three-time MP Nalin Kumar Kateel’s unfulfilled promises became apparent.

Udupi-Chikmagalur

In Udupi-Chikmagalur, the BJP responded to the 'Go Back, Shobha' campaign by fielding former minister Kota Srinivas Poojary, who won with a margin of 2,59,175 votes against Congress candidate Jayaprakash Hegde. In 2019, the BJP’s margin was 3,49,599 votes. Poojary’s clean image, emphasis on Hindutva politics, the Modi wave, and support from majority communities were likely key factors in his victory.

The BJP appeared to be more effective than the Congress in strategizing to win over the Billavas and Bunts, two major communities in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi-Chikmagalur constituencies. Modi’s gesture of garlanding the statue of social reformer Narayana Guru, revered by the Billava community in Mangaluru, also resonated with voters.

Uttara Kannada

In Uttara Kannada, BJP’s Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri defeated Congress’ Anjali Nimbalkar by 3,37,428 votes. In 2019, the BJP’s victory margin was 4,79,649 votes. Despite local leaders’ demands to field a younger candidate, the party chose the six-time MLA and former state minister. The Modi appeal and Hindutva politics were significant factors, along with the outsider tag of the Congress candidate.

The Congress had won five out of eight Assembly segments in Uttara Kannada in last year’s elections, indicating potential for a competitive race. However, a rally by Modi in Sirsi shifted the momentum in favor of Kageri, who campaigned heavily on Modi's popularity rather than his own track record.

Public discontent

Udupi-based political analyst Rajaram Tallur noted that the reduced victory margins signal public discontent with the BJP. However, the Congress failed to capitalize on this sentiment due to a lack of charismatic leaders, insufficient organizational efforts, and a defeatist attitude regarding their chances in these seats.

Yellapur-based political analyst Sriranga Katti highlighted that Kageri’s reliance on Modi's appeal rather than his own achievements was a decisive factor in Uttara Kannada.

Overall, the BJP's combination of new candidates, a strong organizational framework, and leveraging the Hindutva narrative helped it retain its coastal Karnataka strongholds, while the Congress struggled to make significant inroads.

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