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Congress blinks, Maharashtra MLC polls to see no contest

With the MLC elections, Thackeray – who was unanimously elected the MVA Chief Minister on November 28 – will make his debut as a legislator.

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Mumbai, May 10 : With the Congress deciding to withdraw its second candidate late on Sunday, the stage is set for all nine candidates – including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray – in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections to be elected unopposed in the May 21 elections, official sources said here.

The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress will get five seats, while the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party will get four, without a contest.

Late on Saturday evening, the Congress had unexpectedly fielded a second nominee – Rajkishor Modi alias Papa Modi – as the 10th candidate in the fray, besides senior Jalna leader, Rajesh Rathod, which would have necessitated an unwanted election.

But none of the parties including the Sena-NCP and the BJP were keen on a contest and efforts started late on Saturday to convience the Congress to take back the name of Papa Modi, a highly respected leader from Beed.

Late this evening, after a long meeting among the MVA partners, state Congress President and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat announced that the party has decided to withdraw the candidature of Papa Modi.

Now, the 9 candidates left in the fray are Sena’s Thackeray and Deputy Chairperson of Legislative Council (Dr.) Neelam Gorhe, NCP’s Shashikant Shinde and Amol Mitkari plus Congress’ Rathod.

From the BJP, the four nominees are: Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil, Praveen Datke, Gopichand Padalkar and Ajit Gopchhede.

With the MLC elections, Thackeray – who was unanimously elected the MVA Chief Minister on November 28 – will make his debut as a legislator.

He will also become the second member of the state’s numero uno political clan to enter the legislature as an elected member after his son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray.

“The election to 9 MLC seats will be unopposed. Taking into view the nomination of Chief Minister and the Covid-19 situation, the Congress has decided not to field its second candidate,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, expressing his gratitude to the ruling ally for its decision.

The state’s upper house has a total of 9 vacancies which will be filled up in the biennial poll through the electoral college comprising 288 legislators of the Legislative Assembly.

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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