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Bihar’s Grand Alliance leaders meet, pledge to contest polls together

The main contention among alliance partners is on seat-sharing as the Congress is eyeing around 75 seats as against 41 seats it contested last time and the RJD contested 100 seats.

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New Delhi: Even as the BJP and its allies are stepping up efforts to woo voters ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections, the Grand Alliance partners in the state held a virtual meeting to discuss their poll preparation and pledged to fight the battle unitedly.

Representatives of the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), Vikashsheel Insan Party (VIP), and Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) participated.

Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, KC Venugopal, and state Congress affairs incharge Shakti Singh Gohil attended the meeting.

Sources said it was a preliminary meeting and the issue of leadership was not discussed.

After the meeting, Gohil said: “Leaders of the Grand Alliance have decided to contest the coming Bihar Assembly elections together. The alliance will form the next government in Bihar as the people there are suffering while the ruling JD-U and BJP are overlooking their pain.”

The leaders decided to meet again to chalk out the lectoral strategy and decided to set up a committee to ensure smooth functioning of the alliance.

The meeting went on for more than one hour. On Tuesday, HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi and RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha had met Patel to red flag the issues.

RJD leader Manoj Jha said: “It was a preliminary meeting. All is well within the Grand Alliance. Bihar elections will be fought together.”

The main contention among alliance partners is on seat-sharing as the Congress is eyeing around 75 seats as against 41 seats it contested last time and the RJD contested 100 seats.

Former Bihar Minister and Congress leader Shakiluzaman Ansari claimed that there would be amicable seat-sharing and it was a non-issue.

In the last elections held in October–November 2015 to the 243-member Assembly, the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal-United was part of the alliance and contested 100 seats. Now these 100 seats have to be distributed among the Grand Alliance partners.

Election

Lalu seeks bail ahead of Bihar Assembly elections

Lalu Prasad has applied for bail in the Jharkhand High Court. Earlier, he had been granted bail in three fodder scam cases.

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Lalu Yadav

Ranchi, July 4 : Jailed former Bihar Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad has applied for bail in the Chaibasa treasury fraudulent withdrawal case in the run-up to the Bihar Assembly polls.

On Saturday the RJD chief met political leaders at the paying ward of Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) where he is undergoing treatment.

Lalu Prasad has applied for bail in the Jharkhand High Court. Earlier, he had been granted bail in three fodder scam cases.

According to Lalu”s lawyer, he has applied for bail on the ground that he has spent half of the prison term in jail. Lalu has been in custody since December 23, 2017, after his conviction in three different cases related to the fodder scam. He was granted provisional bail for treatment in May 2018 which was later cancelled by the Jharkhand High court. He has been undergoing treatment in RIMS since August 2018.

“The Bihar Assembly polls are crucial for the RJD”s survival. Lalu cannot bank on his two sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi Yadav for the elections. The RJD did not manage to secure a single seat in Bihar in the Lok Sabha polls which was humiliating for the party,” said a RJD leader to IANS.

In 2015 Nitish Kumar, currently Chief Minister of Bihar, and Lalu Prasad had joined hands for the Assembly polls and won more than 150 of the 240 seats. Nitish Kumar, however, parted ways from the RJD after one and a half years in 2017.

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‘Moon expects Trump to meet Kim Jong-un before Nov polls’

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Seoul, July 1 : South Korean President Moon Jae-in believes that his US counterpart President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un need to meet again ahead of the American presidential election in November in order to reactivate the Korea peace process, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The South Korean presidential office has already conveyed Moon”s idea to the White House in their “close communication” especially following the North”s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong last month, Yonhap News Agency quoted the official as saying.

“The US side understands (Moon”s position), and it”s making efforts (for that), as far as I know,” he told reporter.

In a virtual summit with EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday, Moon reaffirmed his resolve to strive “with patience” to maintain the momentum of dialogue involving the US and the two Koreas, the official added.

Moon stressed that the two Koreas should not revert from hard-won “progress and accomplishments” in their relations.

It remains unclear whether Trump and Kim will be able to hold another round of summit talks within the coming months, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun, Washington”s point man on Pyongyang, expressed doubt about the possibility.

“I think it”s probably unlikely between now and the US election,” Biegun told a forum, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic would make such an in-person summit more unlikely.

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ECI’s ‘tearing hurry’ to change rules due to Bihar poll: CPI-M

But now, with the Bihar election on the horizon, Yechury feels the “tearing hurry” in which the age bar was brought down was “unilateral”.

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Sitaram Yechury

New Delhi, June 30 : The CPI-M has shot off an angry letter to the Election Commission over the poll panel “altering” electoral procedures, which the party claims is being done without political consultations.

Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, in his letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, has said how he is “greatly disturbed” by the news.

“We are greatly disturbed by the media reports that the Election Commission of India, bypassing the established practice of consulting political parties, is unilaterally initiating measures to provide voters, aged over 64 years, the use of postal ballots,” he said.

The age limit for voters to can opt for postal ballot in Lok Sabha and assembly polls has been reduced to 65. Earlier, that age bar was 80. This decision was taken in view of the coronavirus outbreak as the Centre has repeatedly asked those above 65 to stay indoors since they are vulnerable to the disease.

But now, with the Bihar election on the horizon, Yechury feels the “tearing hurry” in which the age bar was brought down was “unilateral”.

“In the past, the ECI, despite the wide ranging and comprehensive powers under Article 324 for ”control and superintendence” of elections mandated by the Constitution, has always insisted that they will not exercise this power unilaterally. This had created an extremely healthy precedent of recognising the political parties, representing the people, as principal stakeholders,” he noted.

He said that the “current changes in the Rules, both in October 2019 and that on June 19, 2020 have not been preceded by any consultation with the political parties whatsoever”.

“From the media reports, we are constrained to infer that the tearing hurry that the ECI displays is on account of the impending Bihar Assembly elections scheduled to be held in November 2020,” he alleged.

Highlighting how the move may help the ruling BJP-JD-U alliance, Yechury wrote: “A consensus among political parties and ECI is necessary for introducing new voting practices which will adversely affect the verifiability of a large number of voters, thus, transparency and integrity of the process; not to mention, the leverage available to the incumbent administration in organising the postal ballots.”

The CPI-M demanded that the poll panel should not “unilaterally proceed further” in implementing these changes without “proper and transparent consultation” so that a “level playing field” is ensured.

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