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AAP drops Jitender Singh Tomar, wife given ticket

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Aam Aadmi Party

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has dropped its former law minister in Delhi, Jitender Singh Tomar, who was declared as the party candidate from the Tri Nagar Assembly constituency on January 14, and now has fielded his wife Preeti Tomar from the seat.

The former Minister told IANS that his wife is contesting from the seat.

“After the court verdict, I told the party that my wife will fight the election and the party agreed,” the former Minister added.

Preeti Tomar has filed her nomination on Monday.

A Delhi BJP delegation had on Monday met the Chief Election Commissioner demanding cancellation of Tomar’s nomination from the Assembly seat.

The Delhi High Court on January 17 held as “void” the election of Tomar to the Legislative Assembly in 2015 polls for furnishing false information of his educational qualification in the nomination papers.

The party’s list came on January 14 and Tomar was again fielded by the AAP from the same seat. Tuesday is the last date of filing nominations.

Election

BJP may ‘play a role’ in US poll, party top gun warns, then deletes

In the Howdy Modi event, PM Modi had used the phrase, ‘Abki Baar Trump Sarkar’.

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New Delhi, Feb 27 : Ever since the glitzy congregation at ‘Howdy Modi’ in the US last year there was a murmur, but now a senior functionary of the ruling BJP here has confirmed it with a tweet — India may “play a role” in the US Presidential election.

Though late on Wednesday minutes after the tweet was posted, it also was deleted, the man who posted it added “seriousness” to the matter.

That man was none other than B.L. Santosh, the national general secretary (Organisation) of BJP and among the top four influential members of the party.

BJP National General Secretary BL Santosh Tweet

After Democrat leader Bernie Sanders criticised US President Trump’s silence on the ongoing Delhi riots calling them an internal matter of India, Santosh spit fire.

He tweeted: “How much ever neutral we wish to be you compel us to play a role in Presidential election. Sorry to say so… But you are compelling us.”

That unusual and strongly worded tweet came in response to Sanders saying: “Over 200 million Muslims call India home. Widespread anti-Muslim mob violence has killed at least 27 and injured many more. Trump responds by saying, ‘That’s up to India’. This is a failure of human rights.”

The senior BJP leader’s anguish is believed to have stemmed from making the Delhi violence look like a one-sided, anti-minority pogrom, than Sander’s rant at Donald Trump.

While addressing a press conference in Delhi, on the second day of his tour, the US President was asked many times, both about the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act and the ongoing stir in North East area of Delhi. Speaking on the violence, President Trump had said, “As far as the individual attacks, I heard about it, but I didn’t discuss that with him (Modi). That’s up to India.”

Sanders, a left leaning democrat and a staunch critic of Donald Trump labelled the US President’s much publicised India visit that show rare bonhomie between PM Modi and him, as “failure of leadership”.

Sander’s barb, which was perceived by the BJP leader as against Indian government led by the BJP, comes in the wake of another Democratic presidential nominee — Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke out against the Delhi stir.

This is not the first time, Sanders hit out at Modi, either directly or indirectly. He criticised Modi just ahead of the “Howdy Modi” event that saw the two world leaders publicly bond. Though invited to the event, many Democrat leaders like Nancy Pelosi, and Brad Sherman had opted out of Modi’s mega show in Houston, citing prior commitments. At the end it turned out to be a Republican-dominated event, where Modi happily talked about ending Article 370 and Trump about “radical Islamic terrorism”. The entire stadium gave him Trump a standing ovation which seemingly did not go well with the democrats with a looming US presidential election.

In the Howdy Modi event, PM Modi had used the phrase, ‘Abki Baar Trump Sarkar’.

Now, with Sanders upping the ante, one of BJP’s most influential leader and increasingly seen as BJP President J.P. Nadda’s eyes and ears — Santosh’s public warning, though deleted, will surely not go unnoticed with the Democrats who have raised objections with Article 370, India’s decision to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir or the recent Citizenship Amendment Act.

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Election

55 Rajya Sabha seats to go to polls on March 26

The prominent leaders whose term will end in April are Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Ramdas Athawale, Delhi BJP leader Vijay Goel, Congress veteran leader Digvijay Singh and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

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Parliament of India

New Delhi, Feb 25 : The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that polling for 55 Rajya Sabha seats set to be vacated in April will be held on March 26.

According to the election schedule announced by the Election Commission, 55 Rajya Sabha seats are falling vacant from 17 states. Voting will be conducted between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 26 and the counting of votes will take place at 5 p.m. on the same day.

The seats going to polls include seven seats from Maharashtra, five from Bihar, four in Odisha, six in Tamil Nadu, five in West Bengal, four in Andhra Pradesh, two in Telangana, three in Assam, two in Chhattisgarh, four in Gujarat, two in Haryana, one in Himachal Pradesh, two in Jharkhand, three in Madhya Pradesh, one in Manipur, three in Rajasthan and one in Meghalaya.

According to the election schedule, the last date for filing nomination is March 13. While the scrutiny of nomination papers will be held on March 16. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is March 18.

The Rajya Sabha seats that have fallen vacant include Home Minister Amit Shah and late BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s seats. After being elected the Lok Sabha MP, Shah resigned from the Rajya Sabha membership.

The Rajya Sabha MPs, whose tenure will end later this year, include BJP leader R.K. Sinha, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, JDU leader Kahkashan Parveen, Ram Nath Thakur, BJP MP Prabhat Jha among others.

The prominent leaders whose term will end in April are Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Ramdas Athawale, Delhi BJP leader Vijay Goel, Congress veteran leader Digvijay Singh and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

At present, in the upper house of the Parliament, BJP-led NDA and other allies is 106 BJP has only 82 membersthe strength of the BJP-led NDA and other allies have 106 MPs, including BJP’s 82 members, well-short of the half-way mark in the 425-member Rajya Sabha.

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Election

VVPAT data destroyed before stipulated period, NGOs tell SC

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGOs, submitted before the court that “shocking fact” had emerged in an RTI response, and the parties will file application on this matter.

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EVM VVPAT

New Delhi, Feb 24 : Two NGOs — the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Common Cause – Monday alleged in the Supreme Court that the Election Commission has violated election rules by destroying data pertaining to VVPAT of the last general election, while the statutory one-year period for this process to conclude is yet to get over.

Citing the poll panel’s response received through an RTI application, the NGOs contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant that it is mandatory to retain the VVPAT data for a period of one year — under the Election Rules.

The court replied that at this moment it is not willing to examine the matter.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGOs, submitted before the court that “shocking fact” had emerged in an RTI response, and the parties will file application on this matter.

The top court had earlier issued notice to the poll body on the plea seeking a probe to examine the alleged discrepancies between the voter turnout figure and the number of votes counted in 347 constituencies. The poll body is yet to file response on this matter. The court has scheduled this matter for further hearing after four weeks.

The ADR, backing its claim on the research conducted by experts, said serious discrepancies apparently appear between the number of voters in different constituencies, which involves voter turnout data collated and provided by the poll body and the number of votes counted.

The NGOs, in the plea, seek direction to the poll body to develop a robust procedure to probe these discrepancies in future elections. “The Master summary of 542 constituencies shows discrepancies in 347 seats. 195 seats are without discrepancies whatsoever. The discrepancies range from 1 vote (lowest) to 101,323 votes @ 10.49 per cent of the total votes (highest),” said the NGO in the plea.

The plea also claims there were six seats where the discrepancy in the number of votes was higher than the winning margin. The petition has sought accurate reconciliation of data before poll results are declared and seek direction to the EC to bring in public domain the information in the statutory forms — 17C, 20, 21C, 21D and 21E — for general election held last year and all future elections.

“That in order to uphold and preserve the sanctity of elections, it is undeniably imperative that election results are accurate. It is not only sufficient that election results are accurate; the public must also know that the results are accurate. The entire electoral process is damaged if elections are not credible even in the absence of a demonstrable scam,” said the plea.

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