Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday appealed to voters in Gorakhpur to reject the “unholy and corrupt alliance” of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in the upcoming Lok Sabha bypolls to two seats. His remark came a day after BSP chief Mayawati said that though her party was not contesting the bypolls, her workers and supporters would vote for the “strongest candidate” in a position to defeat the BJP. The SP is the prime opponent of the BJP in the bypolls, and Ms. Mayawati’s call would mean that the BSP workers would support the SP candidates in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.Addressing a rally in Gorakhpur city, Mr. Adityanath said the SP and BSP had agreed on a “deal” to throw the State back into anarchy and corruption.Mr. Adityanath said the BSP was supporting the SP despite “the SP in the past promising to destroy the Ambedkar memorial in Lucknow if it came to power, and the State guest house incident [of 1995 in which SP leaders allegedly humiliated her]”.In another rally in Campierganj, Mr. Adityanath said the two rivals had been forced to come together to save themselves “just like the snake and the mole-rat take shelter in the same place to survive the floods”.”I pity them. But in reality, they are looteras (plunderers). They looted the State, messed with the future of the youth, pushed farmers to despair and defamed the State,” the Chief Minister said.Ms. Mayawati, however, has already clarified that her support to the SP in the bypolls or Rajya Sabha elections did not amount to a formal alliance with the party and the final decision in that regard would be taken after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are declared. Holi celebrationsIn his election rallies, Mr. Adityanath is also emphasising that on Holi festival, Muslims shifted their timings for Friday prayers so that the Hindu festival could be celebrated without any glitches.”Friday prayers come 52 times in a year, the timing can be changed. They changed it from noon to 2 p.m. And we gave full freedom to celebrate Holi with all the fun and frolic,” said Mr. Adityanath.The ruling BJP has picked its Gorakhpur region head Upendra Shukla, a Brahmin, to defend the political bastion of the Chief Minister, who held the seat from 1998 and exerts considerable influence in the region through the Gorakhnath temple of which he is head priest. The Gorakhnath Peeth has held the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat since 1989, with Mahant Avaidyanath, Yogi Adityanath’s guru, winning till 1998.If Mr. Shukla wins, Gorakhpur would get its first BJP MP in 28 years who is not directly from the temple. He faces a challenge from Praveen Nishad, the son of Nishad Party founder Sanjay Nishad. He is fighting on an SP ticket.
Though both the major political parties have been making tall claims for rejuvenation of water bodies in the “City of Lakes”, the voters here are disillusioned with their “restricted vision” which they say is unable to grasp the significance of the ecosystem that ensures protection of catchment areas. The lakes here are facing a major issue of pollution and reduction of submergence area.After the successful removal of water hyacinth about six years ago, the water bodies such as Pichola Lake, Swaroop Sagar and Udai Sagar are facing contamination caused by the discharge of pollutants from the phosphorite mines and chemical factories and the release of sewage and domestic waste from settlements and hotels.The residents of the city expect the two stalwarts pitted against each other – Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria (BJP) and former Union Minister Girija Vyas (Congress) – to resolve the lake pollution issue for saving the identity of Udaipur, on which the survival of tourism business depends.Udaipur district BJP president Dinesh Bhatt told The Hindu that the State government was making “serious efforts” for conservation of lakes. Mr. Kataria, contesting for the fourth consecutive term, has highlighted his achievements on the law and order front as the Home Minister and the city’s infrastructure development as the MLA during his election campaign. He has credited the jump in Udaipur’s rank as a tourist destination to the projects initiated by the BJP government.On the other hand, District Congress Committee general secretary Saddam Hussain said Ms. Vyas’ return to the constituency after serving in the Centre as the National Commission for Women’s chairperson was a challenge before Mr. Kataria which he would find difficult to face. On the lake front, the Jheel Sanrakshan Samiti and the Jheel Hitaishi Nagrik Manch have taken up the initiatives for educating the people and cleaning the water bodies. Manch’s founder Haji Sardar Mohammed said the community efforts for taking out pollutants and aquatic weeds through boats had led to an improvement in the situation. The activists working for conservation of lakes have demanded that the next government centralise the works currently undertaken by as many as five different agencies.
Story Highlights Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor, Brian Wynter, says the rate of inflation is projected to remain within the range of four to six per cent over the next 12 months. Noting that the Jamaican economy’s recovery has been “sluggish”, Mr. Wynter said the BOJ anticipates that growth will “remain below the economy’s capacity in the near term”. “The trajectory reflects the rise and then the fall in agricultural food prices as the impact of flood rains in the year started to dissipate and agricultural supplies improved. Over the course of the year, the Bank expects inflation to continue to track around the lower half of the four to six per cent target before rising to around five per cent,” the Governor said. Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor, Brian Wynter, says the rate of inflation is projected to remain within the range of four to six per cent over the next 12 months.This comes in the wake of data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), which show the out-turn falling from 5.2 per cent in December 2017 to 4.8 per cent in January.“The trajectory reflects the rise and then the fall in agricultural food prices as the impact of flood rains in the year started to dissipate and agricultural supplies improved. Over the course of the year, the Bank expects inflation to continue to track around the lower half of the four to six per cent target before rising to around five per cent,” the Governor said.Mr. Wynter said the projection took into consideration factors such as adverse weather “that is beyond anybody’s control”.He was speaking at the BOJ’s quarterly media briefing at the Bank’s auditorium in downtown Kingston on Wednesday (February 21).Noting that the Jamaican economy’s recovery has been “sluggish”, Mr. Wynter said the BOJ anticipates that growth will “remain below the economy’s capacity in the near term”.As such, he said the BOJ is of the view that this, along with continued fiscal consolidation and low-inflation expectations anchored around the Bank’s target, “calls for a more accommodative monetary policy stance”.Against this background, Mr. Wynter highlighted the BOJ’s first monetary policy decision under the new schedule, lowering of the policy rate by 25 basis points to 2.75 per cent, which was announced on Tuesday (February 20). The policy rate is the interest rate paid by the Bank on overnight deposits.The Governor explained that this adjustment reflects the BOJ’s assessment that inflation for the next eight quarters will remain within the target of four to six per cent, with the risks “slightly skewed to the downside”.Tuesday’s announcement is the first of eight monetary policy decisions that Mr. Wynter said the BOJ has scheduled for 2018 and is committed to making public.“This commitment is an important part of the Bank’s plan to improve the transparency of the monetary policy framework,” he added.