Bihar polls: 'BJP's Covid-19 vaccine promise not a poll violation,' says EC | WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs Bihar polls: ‘BJP’s Covid-19 vaccine promise not a poll violation,’ says EC – WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs
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Bihar polls: ‘BJP’s Covid-19 vaccine promise not a poll violation,’ says EC

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while releasing the party’s manifesto for the Bihar polls, announced that the Covid-19 vaccine is all but ready and will be provided for free to everyone in the state.

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Nirmala Sitharaman

The Election Commission of India has said that the free Covid-19 promise made by the BJP in the run-up to the Bihar election is not a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

In its 28 October response to a representation from activist Saket Gokhale that sought action under the model code of conduct, the EC has cited three provisions from the MCC which include that the “state election manifestos should not contain anything repugnant to the Constitution; should avoid making promises that vitiate the purity of the electoral process or exert undue influence on the voter and trust of the voters should be sought only on promises that can be fulfilled”. HT has seen the communication.

Gokhale had alleged the promise was discriminatory and misleading as India’s vaccine policy had not been announced yet.

The EC letter adds that manifestos are always issued by particular parties for a particular election. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while releasing the party’s manifesto for the Bihar polls, announced that the Covid-19 vaccine is all but ready and will be provided for free to everyone in the state. Sitharaman’s declaration has caused immense outrage, with the opposition asking the Election Commission to take suo-moto cognizance of the matter since the polls are barely a week away.

“In view of the above, no violation of any of the provisions of Model Code of Conduct has been observed in the instant matter,” states the EC’s reply to Gokhale.

People familiar with the matter had earlier told Hindustan Times that there is precedent for the Commission to exclude what constitutes “welfare schemes”.

“There is a precedent to exclude welfare schemes,” said a person familiar with the matter.

The person added that a 2019 case against the Indian National Congress for announcing the NYAY Yojana, that promised a universal basic income of Rs 72,000 annually, the Commission had held that the manifesto promises “are not repugnant to the ideals and principles enshrined in the constitution and are not inconsistent with the letter and spirit of other provisions of the MCC”.

The Commission, in its order dated 5 May 2019, had further used the same three provisions to strike down the case. It had said that the “directive principles of the state policy enshrined in the constitution enjoin the state to frame various welfare measures for the citizens and the said scheme seems to be a welfare scheme which is not likely to vitiate the purity of the election process or exert undue influence on voters”.

“In view of the position mentioned above, there appears to be no violation of the MCC and said scheme does not fall under corrupt practices,” the Commission had said then.

Hindustan Times on 23 October had reported that experts believed a manifesto provides political parties the freedom to make announcements they can’t make as the government.

“The political parties have a right to make such promises,” former chief election commissioner VS Sampath had said. “Whether it is undue influence or not is for the voter to decide. One can’t take exception to parties making poll promises.”

Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami said that if a government in office makes such a declaration, it cannot be construed as undue influence, but not when a political party says it in its manifesto, it is kosher. “Manifesto allows you to say things you otherwise can’t say,” Gopalaswami said.

Election

Around 52% Polling recorded in 1st phase of DDC Polls in Jammu and Kashmir

The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role for development at the grass-roots level.

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Jammu: State Election Commissioner (SEC) K.K. Sharma said on Saturday that the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir has been conducted successfully with a voter turnout of 51.76%.

The polling was by and large peaceful in the 43 constituencies of DDC that went to the polls on Saturday in which 3,62,766 voters, including 1,93,375 males and 1,69,391 females, out of 7,00,842 voters, exercised their franchise to choose their representatives in their respective councils, the SEC said in a press conference.

Sharma said that Reasi district recorded the highest polling at 74.62 per cent, followed by Rajouri (70.52 per cent), Poonch (68.69 per cent), Samba (68.61 per cent), Doda (64.49 per cent), Kathua (62.82 per cent), Jammu (61.49 per cent), Ramban (64.21 per cent), Udhampur (57.13 per cent) and Kishtwar (55.16 per cent) — all in Jammu division.

In the Kashmir division, Budgam district recorded the highest polling at 56.96 per cent, followed by Kupwara (50.74 per cent), Ganderbal (48.62 per cent), Bandipora (43.57 per cent), Anantnag 43.32 (per cent), Shopian (42.58 per cent), Kulgam (34.35 per cent), Srinagar (33.76 per cent) and Baramulla (32.51 per cent).

The SEC further said that large number of people came out to cast their votes in the first phase of DDC polls and panch/sarpanch bypolls. Long queues could be seen despite severe cold conditions in the Kashmir division and the hilly areas of the Jammu division, Sharma added.

The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role for development at the grass-roots level.

He also appreciated all the stakeholders for their tireless efforts for the successful conduct of the polling process. Adequate security personnel were deployed at all the polling stations to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls, he said.

The SEC further informed that arrangements for the second phase of polling — to be held in 43 constituencies, 25 in Kashmir division and 18 in Jammu division — have been put in place.

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Ahead of DDC polls, BJP targets Abdullahs over ‘land grab’

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Farooq Abdullah

New Delhi: Ahead of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad trained his guns on the Abdullahs for their alleged role in the Roshni scam.

Prasad alleged that the key leaders of the erstwhile state, including Farooq Abdullah, used their “influence and power for land grabbing”.

“In 1998, Farooq Abdullah had purchased 3 kanals of land but he encroached upon 7 kanals of land which were double the size of the purchase,” Prasad alleged while speaking to the media. He further said that under the Roshni scam, the name of Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Mattu has also appeared, who, the minister alleged, is also a beneficiary of 3 kanals of land.

“There was a conscious land loot by the powerful people of J&K who were getting benefits under the Roshni Act which was declared unconstitutional by the J&K High Court. This is low level politics by the powerful people of J&K and we condemn it,” alleged Prasad.

Prasad said the J&K High Court has declared the Roshni Act as unconstitutional and has stated that the names of people who have acquired land under this Act should be listed and made public.

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CPI-M and Cong holding talks, to rally in Kolkata on Nov 23

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has accused AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi of trying to benefit the BJP. Owaisi has denied the charge and maintained that he was running a political party and contest elections wherever the party wishes.

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New Delhi: A joint rally of the Congress and CPI-M slated to be held on Monday in Kolkata on Monday is a step towards an alliance ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections as informal talks on the issue are on, Congress sources said on Sunday.

The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) and the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) will rally on November 23 to protest against the alleged ‘anti-people’ policies of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.

The BJP has already started preparation to take on the ruling Trinamool Congress. The Congress and the Left will face challenges from the TMC, BJP and AIMIM in the state polls.

Party insiders said that both parties will chalk out joint political programmes across various Bengal districts to emerge as a third political alternative in the Assembly polls.

“Both the parties met to prepare the road map for the coming Assembly polls,” the sources said.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury has said that defeating the TMC and the BJP is a priority for his party as he blames the TMC for BJP inroads in the eastern state. The West Bengal could see three-cornered contest with AIMIM giving an edge to the BJP, as was seen in Bihar Assembly polls.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has reportedly offered an alliance with TMC and awaiting a response. Howver, it’s unlikely that the TMC will join hands with AIMIM, considering it will give the BJP an advantage, the sources pointed out.

As many as 90 seats in the 294-member West Bengal Assembly have sizeable Muslim voters, who can be a deciding factor in any poll battle. Even if the AIMIM may not win many seats in Bengal, it can surely play a Bihar-like spoilsport for the TMC and the Congress.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has accused AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi of trying to benefit the BJP. Owaisi has denied the charge and maintained that he was running a political party and contest elections wherever the party wishes.

Muslims in West Bengal account for 27 per cent of the total voters, a majority of them going along with the TMC and the Congress in the past.

The BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections and any further division of Muslim votes in Assembly elections will only benefit it.

The districts of Murshidabad, Malda, and North Dinajpur have more than 50 per cent Muslim population while Birbhum, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Nadia have more than 25 per cent Muslims.

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