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Bihar polls: Rahul Gandhi to join electioneering from Oct 23

So far, six rallies have been planned for Gandhi as part of the party’s election campaign in Bihar.

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Rahul Gandhi Farmers

New Delhi: Congress leader and former party chief Rahul Gandhi is likely to address six election rallies as part of the party’s election campaign in Bihar.

Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief Madan Mohan Jha said that Gandhi is slated to launch his campaign for the party nominees at Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur and Hisua in Nawada on October 23.

“So far, Rahul Gandhi has given his consent to address six rallies, two each in the three-phased elections. More rallies may be planned if the situation arises,” said Jha.

The former Congress chief’s rally is set to coincide with the programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also scheduled to start his public address for the assembly elections, the polling for which is to start on October 28. The BJP had planned as many as 12 rallies by PM Modi during the electioneering for NDA candidates in Bihar.

Jha said that the schedule and the venue for next round of public address by Gandhi would be decided later. It is believed that RJD leader and chief ministerial face of the Grand Alliance (GA) Tejashwi Prasad Yadav may share the stage with the Congress leader. However, it is not yet clear if AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would also address election meetings in Bihar.

Also read: Officials work overtime to dispatch Covid-19 kits to lakhs of polling booths in Bihar

The Congress has fielded as many as 70 candidates in the fray for the three-phased elections in Bihar. This is the maximum number of seats the party managed to contest after 2005. In November 2005 polls, the Congress got 51 seats to contest in alliance with the RJD and 41 during the last assembly elections under the GA, then consisting JD(U) also.

Former director of AN Sinha institute of social studies DM Diwakar said the issues taken up by the top leaders were more than the number of rallies during the elections. “PM Modi had addressed 31 rallies during 2015 assembly elections which was more than double attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Still, the BJP had to be contented with only 53 seats,” said Diwakar.

Diwakar added that people are not taking the PM Modi’s rhetoric very seriously now. “Modi is seldom seen talking about serious issues such as the state of the economy, which is in shambles, or about shrinking jobs, auctioning of public sector undertakings, measures to tide over the social impact of the lockdown, health and education, among other pressing issues. Anti-incumbency is there against Nitish Kumar-led dispensation. The GA may capitalise on the issues people of Bihar are grappling with,” he added.

Election

JAP chief’s stage collapses in Muzaffarpur, sustains hand fracture

Stage collapses at Jan Adhikar Party leader Pappu Yadav’s campaign rally in Muzaffarpur’s Minapur Assembly Constituency.

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JAP Pappu Yadav

Patna Nov 1 : Jan Adhikaar Party (JAP) president Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav sustained hand fracture after his stage collapsed during a rally in Meenapur, Muzaffarpur.

Yadav sustained multiple injuries including a fracture in right hand. He was taken to the hospital by his supporters soon after the incident.

After being discharged from the hospital, he alleged that the state government did not provide proper security to leaders of the opposition parties.

“Security is being provided to the leaders of the ruling parties only. No opposition leaders are being given proper security. We demand proper inquiry into the matter as there is a huge threat to me and my supporters. Anything could happen with us,” Yadav said.

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Karnataka Legislative Council polls: EC defers counting from Nov 3 to 10

There are 2.35 lakh voters in these four constituencies who exercised their franchise in as many 549 polling stations set up across these constituencies.

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BJP and Congress Flag Poster

Bengaluru: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday announced that it had decided to postpone the counting of votes for four Legislative Council seats in Karnataka from November 2 to 10.

The decision was taken following a memorandum submitted by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee on Saturday, appealing that any outcome of Legislative Council polls will have a direct impact on Assembly by-polls to Rajarajeshwari Nagara constituency in Bengaluru and Sira in Tumkuru district which are going to polls on November 3.

The biennial polls to four Legislative council (two graduates and two teachers) seats were held on October 28 amid pandemic fears. Wherein of the total 2.35 lakh voters, nearly 70 per cent electorates had turned up defying pandemic fears.

Conceding to the Congress party’s demand, EC said in its statement that the counting of Council polls can be held after any day after November 3 but it has now decided to hold counting of these Council seats along with counting of two Assembly seats – Sira and RR Nagar – on November 10.

It may be worth noting here that the Council polls took place as these constituencies fell vacant due to the retirement of R. Chowda Reddy Thoopalli of JD(S), S. V. Sankanur of BJP, Sharanappa Mattur of Congress and Puttanna of JD(S) respectively. Of these four recontesting candidates, Puttanna has crossed over to BJP and is contesting on this party ticket.

Despite pandemic, voters’ response was overwhelming in 2020 when compared with 2014 elections held in these seats. Voting percentage rose anywhere between 13.5 per cent to 24 per cent in the constituencies.

As many as 40 candidates’ fates are sealed in ballot units who are in fray from these constituencies. Among them are the four whose retirement on June 30 warranted the elections.

There are 2.35 lakh voters in these four constituencies who exercised their franchise in as many 549 polling stations set up across these constituencies.

In the council with strength of 75 members Congress has 28 members, BJP has 27 members, Janata Dal (Secular) has 14 members, one independent, one chairman and four vacant seats.

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Election

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.

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