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Anantnag by-poll: Mehbooba’s 1st electoral challenge after father’s death

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Mehbooba

Srinagar, June 11 : Retaining her father’s assembly seat is the first major political challenge Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti faces after she took over the reins of power in the state on April 4.

Mehbooba, 57, has filed papers for the south Kashmir Anantnag assembly byelection. The seat fell vacant after her father and the then Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, died on January 7.

After procrastinating for nearly three months, Mehbooba decided to head the PDP-BJP coalition that her father headed before his death.

She is on record as saying her father ruled under tremendous pressure during his 10 months in power because the kind of support he had expected from New Delhi did not come forth.

At the same time, Mehbooba has asserted her father had taken an informed decision to align with the BJP because it had a massive mandate in the Jammu region.

“Had Mufti Sahib not formed the ruling alliance with the BJP, there would have been a tremendous problem regarding the regional unity of the state”, Mehbooba had said while justifying the decision to align with the rightwing BJP, a decision viewed as politically unpalatable in the Muslim majority Valley, where the PDP has its political base.

Of the 28 seats the PDP won in the 2014 assembly elections, 25 were from the Valley while the BJP won all its 27 seats from the Jammu region.

Mehbooba currently represents Anantnag in the Lok Sabha.

Under the state’s constitution of the state, she has to get elected to either house of the bicameral legislature within six months of taking over the chief minister’s post.

It is against this backdrop that Mehbooba is fighting the Anantnag assembly bypoll, voting for which is scheduled for June 22.

Besides Mehbooba, there are seven other candidates in the fray, including Hilal Ahmad Shah of the Congress and Iftikhar Hussain Misgar of the regional National Conference (NC).

Independent MLA from north Kashmir’s Langate constituency, Engineer Rashid, had also filed his papers from Anantnag but withdrew from the contest.

In the 2014 assembly elections, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had defeated his nearest rival, Hilal Ahmad Shah of the Congress, by around 6,000 votes.

The NC had suffered a jolt at the time because its known face against Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, Mehboob Beg, decided to join the PDP at the last minute – leaving the NC dresperately battling for someone to take on Sayeed.

Most of 84,081 electors (42,924 males, 41,156 females and one neutral gender) in Anantnag constituency live within the Anantnag town where separatists have been successfully calling protests and shutdowns during the last 26 years since violence started in the state.

Separatists have called for a boycott of the Anantnag polls and there has been a deadly hit-and-run attack by militants in the town earlier this month in which two policemen, including a lower rung officer, were killed.

While the opposition parties say a general boycott of the elections would help the PDP, the party argues the boycott would only prevent its supporters from coming out and exercising their democratic rights.

“A supporter of the ruling party is always the first target of a separatist-called poll boycott. Since we have a strong presence on the ground in the constituency, it is us and not they (the opposition) that stands to lose votes if the separatist boycott evokes response,” a senior PDP leader said.

The PDP leader, however, asserted that what he was talking about is Mehbooba’s victory margin and not even the remote possibility of her losing.

This confidence notwithstanding, elections are difficult to be foretold like arithmetical equations.

Election

Deferred due to coronavirus, elections to 18 Rajya Sabha seats to be held on June 19: Election Commission

After the last date of withdrawal on March 18, a total of 37 candidates were declared elected. Obviously, the states from where they got elected saw exactly as many candidates as the number of vacant seats.

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Parliament of India

New Delhi, June 1 : The Rajya Sabha biennial polls, which were deferred in March, will now be held on June 19. The results will be declared the same day.

The Election Commission had issued a notification on March 6 for filling 55 Rajya Sabha seats from 17 states. The polling was scheduled for March 26. The last date for filing nominations was March 13.

After the last date of withdrawal on March 18, a total of 37 candidates were declared elected. Obviously, the states from where they got elected saw exactly as many candidates as the number of vacant seats.

Those who made it to the Upper House in the first go included NCP President Sharad Pawar, Union Minister of State and RPI leader Ramdas Athawale (both from Maharashtra) and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.

The elections for the remaining 18 seats were postponed due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown and the curfew that followed.

Of the 18 outstanding seats, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat account for four each, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan three each, Jharkhand two and Manipur and Meghalaya one each.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, who defected to the BJP along with 22 MLAs and paved the way for the overthrow of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, is in the Rajya Sabha fray on a saffron party ticket from MP.

Also pitted in the contest is senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh. While both are expected to sail through comfortably, Sumer Singh Solanki of the BJP and Phool Singh Baraiya of the Congress will fight it out for the third seat. Congress” prospects are marred by defections and continuing factionalism.

Similarly, Gujarat has four seats, while a total of five people are in the race, three on behalf of the BJP and two as the nominees of the opposition Congress. The BJP is working hard to pick up three seats, leaving only one for the Congress.

The ruling YSR Congress may make a clean sweep of all four seats in Andhra Pradesh. The Telugu Desam Party, with barely 23 people in the 175-member Assembly, is not in a position to garner the 36 votes needed for winning a single seat.

The JMM has fielded party patriarch Shibbu Soren in Jharkhand. The party has left the second seat for its ally, Congress. The BJP has put up its state president Deepak Prakash. The Congress may end up putting up a token fight.

AICC General Secretary K.C. Venugopal is the Congress nominee in Rajasthan. The BJP nominee is Rajendra Gehlot, senior party leader from Jodhpur.

In Manipur, the BJP has fielded former royal Leisemba Sanajaoba. The Congress has put up T. Mangi Babu. The BJP is certain to win the solitary seat.

In Meghalaya, ruling National People”s Party candidate Wanwei Roy Kharlukhi is expected to win by defeating Congress nominee Kennedy Cornelius Khyiem.

–IANS

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Election

Lalu Yadav gives 18 names to Nitish regime in own style

Presently, he is admitted in the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi. But he is continuously targeting the state government through Twitter.

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Lalu Yadav

Patna, June 1 : The Assembly elections are expected in Bihar this year and almost every political party is gearing up for this. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, who is currently in jail after being convicted in Fodder scam, is also constantly targeting the state government and its regime in his own style on social media.

On Monday, a tweet from his account gave 18 names to the Nitish regime and appealed to the public to remove this government in the next election.

A satirical tweet in Hindi said: “Pandrah saal se Bihar mein chhal-bal raj, daladal raj, anargal raj, vaakchhal raj, nishphal raj, viphal raj, amangal raj, kolaahal raj, halaahaal raj, akushal raj, bandal raj, adiyal raj, mariyal raj, ghaayal raj, illegal raj, anaitik raj, dushaasan raj, vishvaasaghaatee raj. Ise ukhaadane ka karo kaaj, lao gareeb-gurabe ka raj.

Significantly, Lalu Prasad, the former chief minister of Bihar, is serving a jail term following his conviction in the fooder scam. Presently, he is admitted in the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi. But he is continuously targeting the state government through Twitter.

–IANS

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India

Uttarakhand minister Covid positive, Congress asks cabinet to go into quarantine

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Suryakant Dhasmana
Uttarakhand Congress state Vice President Suryakant Dhasmana

Dehradun, May 31 : Hours after Uttarakhand Minister Satpal Maharaj tested positive for coronavirus, the state’s opposition Congress on Sunday sought that the state cabinet should go into quarantine as he had attended a cabinet meeting earlier this week.

“Very disturbing news, the whole Uttrakhand Cabinet including the Chief Minister may be quarentined (sic) as a Cabinet Minister who attended the Cabinet Meeting found Corona positive,” Congress state Vice President Suryakant Dhasmana said in a tweet.

Satpal Maharaj and at least two dozen of his family members and staff also tested positive, state officials said. This came a day after the minister’s wife Amrita Rawat, who had fever for the past few days, tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday.

What is worrying is that Satpal Maharaj, the state Tourism Minister, had attended a cabinet meeting on Friday where Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and other ministers of the BJP government were present.

In a video on his Twitter handle, Dhasmana said: “I think the whole cabinet should go into quarantine and get themselves checked at the earliest as it is a matter of public welfare, of public health, of people’s health… so many of the state’s people, party leaders and officials, ministers come in contact.”

“I pray to God that no one else turns out to be infected… to stop this happening, this (quarantining) is necessary. We pray that the Chief Minister and his colleagues stay healthy, and Maharaj ji and his family come out victorious.”

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