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Amritsar Lok Sabha by-poll to be held on Feb 4

Amarinder was elected from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in May 2014 general election, defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Arun Jaitley in a high-profile election.

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Chandigarh, Jan 6 : The Election Commission on Friday announced that the by-election for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat would be held on February 4 along with the assembly elections in the state.

The by-election has been necessisated following the resignation of sitting member and Congresss leader Amarinder Singh in November last year after a Supreme Court ruling on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue went against the stand taken by the Punjab government of not sharing more river waters with neighbouring Haryana.

Amarinder was elected from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in May 2014 general election, defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Arun Jaitley in a high-profile election.

The Congress leader won comfortably by a margin of over 100,000 (one lakh) votes over Jaitley, causing embarrassment to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance government in Punjab.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu had remained the BJP MP from Amritsar, winning the seat in 2004, 2007 (by-election) and 2009.

Sidhu was overlooked by the BJP for the 2014 general election for this seat and his political mentor in the BJP, Jaitley, was fielded instead. Sidhu did not enter the Amritsar constituency even once during Jaitley’s campaign despite being part of the BJP at that time.

The main fight this time will be between the Congress, BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party.

Election

Congress gave clean administration in Karnataka, says Rahul Gandhi

Karnataka is ahead of most states in empowering women. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunities.

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rahul gandhi

Athani (Karnataka), Feb 24 : Invoking the teachings of 12th century social reformer Basavanna, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday claimed that his party’s government in Karnataka gave a clean administration in the last five years.

“Following the teachings of Basavanna, our party has given a clean administration over the last five years in Karnataka. We have developed rapidly and did not make any fake promises,” said Gandhi at a public rally here in Belagavi district.

Gandhi, who is on a three-day visit to the state’s erstwhile Bombay-Karnataka region, said the Congress government in the southern state had truly imbibed the philosophy of Basavanna’s teachings — follow what you preach.

“Basavanna said: ‘Do not harm’. But under the Modi government, atrocities against Dalits, Adivasis and minorities have been on the rise. We started celebrating Akka Mahadevi Jayanti and Kittur Rani Chennamma Jayanti. The BJP only talks, it didn’t do anything when it was in power in the state earlier (2008-13),” asserted Gandhi.

Noting that women’s empowerment is an integral goal of the state’s development, Gandhi said the Congress government had implemented many schemes, which helped the women improve their life and unlock their potential.

“For the benefit of women, our government has launched ‘Anila Bhagya’ scheme to provide free cooking gas connection and stove to about 30 lakh families. ‘Mathrupoorna’ scheme meets the nutritional needs of pregnant women,” reiterated Gandhi.

Participating in the “Jana Ashirwade Yatra” (seeking people’s blessings) to return to power in the ensuing assembly election, the party chief repeatedly quoted Basavanna.

“Basavanna had said five things — don’t indulge in theft, don’t indulge in violence, do not lie, do not boast about yourself and don’t spread anger,” recalled Gandhi in a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.

“Basavanna’s first sermon is ‘don’t indulge in theft’. Modi says the Congress government in Karnataka is corrupt. When he says it, on his right side is his chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa who had gone to jail, on the other side, four more ministers who too had gone to jail,” pointed out Gandhi.

“He (Modi) banned high currency notes, implemented GST (Gabbar Singh Tax) and destroyed lakhs of businesses, but Jay Shah’s (BJP President Amit Shah’s son) business turned into Rs 80 crore from Rs 50,000 within three months. But Modi does not speak about it,” recalled Gandhi.

Quoting Basavanna’s other sermon — don’t indulge in violence, Gandhi accused the Modi government of dividing society on communal lines.

Interacting with hundreds of women at Tikota in the neighbouring Vijayapura district, Gandhi said Karnataka was the first state in the country to have an industrial park for women entrepreneurs.

“Karnataka is ahead of most states in empowering women. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunities,” added Gandhi.

State Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, party’s state unit president G. Parameshwara, other state leaders and cabinet ministers from the state’s northwest region accompanied Gandhi on his day-long visit to the districts of Belagavi, Vijayapura and Chikkodi.

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Bijepur bypoll in Odisha records 72% voter turnout

The by-poll was necessitated following the death of Congress MLA Subal Sahu in August 2017.

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 24 : Around 72 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise in the bypoll to Bijepur Assembly seat in Odisha’s Bargarh district on Saturday, an Election Commission official said.

The voting process largely remained peaceful as heavy deployment of security personnel was made across the constituency.

The voters have locked the fate of 13 candidates even, though it is primarily being seen as a triangular fight between the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. The results of the bypoll would be declared on February 28.

Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar informed that the Presiding Officer of Booth No.-193 had been placed under suspension as he was found trying to influence voters to vote in favour of a particular candidate.

The voters queued up outside polling booths much before 8.00 a.m when the voting was to start officially, said the EC official.

About 2,21,144 voters were slated to exercise their franchise which would decide the fate of 13 candidates, including BJD’s Rita Sahu, BJP’s Ashok Panigrahi and Congress’ Pranaya Sahu.

The by-poll was necessitated following the death of Congress MLA Subal Sahu in August 2017.

There were 281 polling booths, out of which 155 marked as ‘sensitive’ or ‘critical’.

While the voting was largely peaceful, reports of technical glitches in the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines came from some booths.

Tight security measures were in place to ensure smooth and peaceful polling, with five platoons of central paramilitary forces, 36 platoons of the state police deployed at various strategic points in the constituency.

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75% votes cast in Madhya Pradesh bypolls

Votes will be counted on February 28 and the results will be declared the same day.

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Repolling Gujarat election

Bhopal, Feb 24 : Heavy polling was recorded in the bypolls for two assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, with 77.25 per cent voting recorded in Mungaoli constituency and 72.82 per cent in Kolaras at the end of polling, the Chief Election Officer (CEO) of Madhya Pradesh said. Average voting for the two seats stood at 75 per cent.

The by and large peaceful polls also saw some sporadic clashes — especially one in Digoda village of Kolaras in Shivpuri district — between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers, a poll official said.

Police station in-charge of Mungaoli in Ashoknagar district, Kushal Singh Bhadoria, was removed on the instruction of Election Commission (EC), the official said.

There were also some complaints of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) developing snag at some places. Fifteen EVMs in Kolaras and 17 in Mungaoli had to be replaced.

Chief Election Officer Saleena Singh said that there was enthusiasm among the voters, which translated into high polling percentage. The voting started at 8.00 a.m in both Kolaras and Mungaoli, which continued until 5.00 p.m.

She had appealed to voters to remain calm and exercise their right to vote without fear. Public holiday was declared at both places in view of the bypolls.

A total of 22 candidates in Mungaoli and 13 in Kolaras were in the fray.

Some 3,000 poll officials conducted the election process at 575 polling stations, the EC official said.

The assembly seats fell vacant following the death of sitting Congress MLAs Mahendra Singh Kalukheda (Mungaoli) and Ram Singh Yadav (Kolaras).

These bypolls are being seen as a prestige battle for Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who is in his third term as the Chief Minister, and his arch-rival Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress.

The two assembly segments are part of Scindia’s Guna Lok Sabha constituency.

Votes will be counted on February 28 and the results will be declared the same day, the EC said.

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