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Congress demands probe into Haryana RS polls

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Anand Sharma

New Delhi, June 13 : Stung by the surprise defeat of party-backed candidate R. K. Anand in the Haryana Rajya Sabha polls, the Congress on Monday demanded an independent probe to June 11 elections, saying there was a “criminal conspiracy involved” and also demanded the poll be countermanded.

The Congress also demanded that if the “pen” used for the balloting was replaced, as was being alleged, then a complaint should be lodged in this regard.

The party sources said they might even move court on this issue.

The Congress delegation led by general secretary-in charge B.K. Hariprasad, R.K. Anand, Vivek Tankha, and Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar met the Election Commission and submitted a memorandum.

“It was a criminal conspiracy to undermine the electoral process by the BJP. We demand not only the contermanding of that election but also a thorough probe into it. Each vote under the law was seen by the authorized representative (B.K. Hariprasad).

“So all the Congress MLAs had marked their votes in favour of the candidate we were supporting,” said senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma.

Media baron Subhash Chandra — an Independent candidate supported by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Haryana, defeating Congress-backed Independent R.K. Anand. Chandra got 24 votes while Anand managed 15.

As many as 14 Congress votes were rejected in the 90-member assembly.

“Voters don’t take their own pens, even the mobile phones are kept outside… It is the responsibility of the EC to keep the pen, and not any political party. If it has been changed, then an FIR should be registered,” Sharma firmly added.

According to a party source, the pen was allegedly replaced by the last Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator, who took the original pen and left another pen there.

The replaced pen was used by the Congress legislators to mark the ballot, and their vote was later invalidated. The party source also added that the original pen was reportedly left at its original position by the last voter, who was an Independent MLA.

“Those whose votes were invalidated belong not to just one faction, but to the Congress and all… some of the staunch loyalists of Hooda’s (Bhupinder Singh Hooda) votes were found valid. All this must come through a probe and we also demand that an FIR must be registered for this criminal conspiracy against the BJP-supported candidate (Subhash Chandra). It’s a criminal act,” said Sharma.

“EC must ensure that the FIR is registered and the election is countermanded. It is the responsibility of the EC to ensure free and fair election. It’s a constitutional mandate. We will not let go off this situation,” he added.

Party sources also alleged that Hooda had left the ballot paper blank. The party High Command had also sought a report from Pradesh Congress Committee on the entire episode.

Asked if Hooda was give a clean chit, Sharma replied: “Congress has an internal mechanism where these issues are looked into. Congress has succeeded in getting the details to unearth the criminal conspiracy.”

Election

Gujarat Congress in trouble ahead of RS polls as 2 more MLAs resign

The Congress had earlier nominated Rajeev Shukla but was opposed by the state unit and party fielded Bharat Singh Solanki, a former Union Minister.

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New Delhi/Ahmedabad, June 4 : Ahead of Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, in a major setback to the Congress, two of its MLAs have quit the party, further reducing the numbers in the Assembly. It will now be tough for the party to get the second seat in the Rajya Sabha.

The two MLAs who resigned are — Akshay Patel from Karjan and Jitu Chaudhary from Kaprada constituencies.

Gujatat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi said, “Both the Congress MLAs came to me last evening with resignation letters. I verified them, identified their faces by asking them to remove their masks and then accepted their resignations. They are no longer members of the House.”

The Congress has fielded two candidates — Shakti Singh Gohil and Bharat Singh Solanki while Gohil will be getting the first preference vote and is sure to be elected for the Rajya Sabha but the fate of Bharat Singh Solanki whose father Madhav Singh Solanki had been the Chief Minister of the state hangs in limbo. Now only the management skills can get him elected.

Arjun Modwadia, senior leader of the Congress, speaking to IANS, said, “BJP is using money and intimidation to lure away MLAs. Akshay Patel has been lured away as he has business interest in mining.”

The Congress had earlier nominated Rajeev Shukla but was opposed by the state unit and party fielded Bharat Singh Solanki, a former Union Minister.

The Congress needs 71 votes to win both the seats but now the number has reduced after fresh resignations while the BJP needs 106 votes for its three candidates and has the strength of 103 in the Assembly. So the BJP has fished into the Congress to gain the third seat, a party leader said.

Congress sources say it will now depend on Solanki”s management skill, a veteran who can turn the tide in his favour. Last time Ahmed Patel won with his management skills despite Congress MLAs resigning and had said he defeated Amit Shah in numbers game.

The BJP has fielded Rameela Ben Bara, Abhay Bhardwaj and Narhari Amin for three of the Rajya Sabha seats.

Earlier, in March five Congress MLAs had resigned just days after polls were announced and before the lockdown was enforced. These include Somabhai Patel, Praveen Maru, J.V. Kakadia, Mangal Gavit and Pradyuman Singh Jadeja.

The exodus started after the ruling BJP fielded the fifth candidate, Narhari Amin, who is a former Congressman and also a businessman.

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Election

No asset details of Swamy, Swapan Dasgupta, Mary Kom with Rajya Sabha

Swamy was one of the petitioners in the 2G case. He was once a close adviser of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, but has been a trenchant critique of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi over the past decade and a half. He joined the BJP in 2013.

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Subramanian Swamy

New Delhi, June 3 : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy, journalist Swapan Dasgupta and five-time world amateur boxing champion M.C. Mary Kom are among the nine nominated members of the Rajya Sabha whose assets and liabilities” details are not available with the House.

Others are Roopa Ganguly, Sonal Mansingh, Raghunath Mohapatra, Ram Shakal, Rakesh Sinha and Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi.

It was revealed in a reply by the Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha to a Right to Information (RTI) plea filed by one Saket Gokhale.

In the reply on May 25, the RTI cell of the Upper House said since all the members mentioned by the applicant were nominated by the President of India, the information sought by the applicant was not available.

“Under Rule 3 of the Members of Rajya Sabha (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Rules, 2004, only elected members of the council are liable to furnish the declaration of their assets and liabilities, and assets of their spouse and dependent children,” it said.

Dasgupta, 65, is a well-known journalist and was conferred with Padma award in 2015. Gopi is a popular action hero, and actress Ganguly is best known for her rendition of Draupadi in B.R. Chopra”s television series Mahabharat.

Mansingh is an eminent Bharatanatyam and Odissi classical dancer, and Mohapatra an architect and sculptor from Odisha. Sinha is an author and an associate professor at the University of Delhi, and Shakal a senior politician.

President Pranab Mukherjee on the recommendation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government nominated them to the Rajya Sabha.

While nomination of 37-year-old Kom was aimed to burnish the government”s image of inclusive nationalism and its ambitions to make political inroads in Manipur, others have been supporters or members of the BJP.

The NDA is not only in minority in the Rajya Sabha, but often struggles to find good speakers to field on crucial debates against a constellation of articulate and experienced members in the opposition.

Although nominated, Swamy and Dasgupta gave the government two effective speakers in the Upper House.

Swamy, 81, was a Jan Sangh member of the Rajya Sabha in 1974-76. His six-year term was cut short as he was disqualified from the House during the Emergency. His second term in the Rajya Sabha was from 1988 to 1994. He has also thrice been member of the Lok Sabha. He was elected twice from Mumbai — in 1977 and 1980 — and once from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Swamy was a cabinet minister in the Chandra Shekhar government.

Swamy was one of the petitioners in the 2G case. He was once a close adviser of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, but has been a trenchant critique of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi over the past decade and a half. He joined the BJP in 2013.

–IANS

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Bihar polls: To thwart RJD and capitalise on Hanuman, BJP picks next ‘Tuesday’

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New Delhi/Patna, June 1 : When the Prime Minister said Indians need to learn to live with the coronavirus, BJP took it to heart. Now, notwithstanding the lockdown 5.0, the ruling BJP will sound its Bihar poll bugle next Tuesday.

A BJP functionary says, it has two reasons to choose June 9 for the purpose – it is a Tuesday which is considered auspicious for Hindus since it is the day of Lord Hanuman, a deity who is popular in the Hindi heartland. Another reason being, on June 9, RJD”s Tejaswi Yadav has announced to hold a ”Gareeb Adhikar Diwas”, where his party is expected to raise the offensive against BJP-JDU alliance”s handling of the migrant situation.

Tejaswi Yadav has said that he will appeal to all that on June 9, everyone should come forward and protest with a plate, bowl or banana leaf. “Lalu ji used to say that if we can”t have ”aata” (flour) in our stomach, then what will people do with ”daata”?” Yadav is clearly up for an offensive to harp upon the hunger and light of the poor and marginalized during the subsequent lockdowns.

But to thwart that, the BJP ”Chanakya” himself is likely to sound the poll bugle with his Facebook live on the very same day, where Amit Shah is likely to give a white paper on what the Centre has done for people of Bihar during the pandemic.

Though the central BJP hasn”t either confirmed or denied about the event, the Bihar BJP has already started its work. Sources say, it is likely to be a live stream of Amit Shah which will be broadcast through different social media platforms of the BJP on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and its website.

There are 243 assembly constituencies in the state. Bihar BJP has already started working to ensure one giant screen in each of the 243 assembly constituencies at least where people can be arranged to watch the address of Shah. Given maintaining social distancing is a concern for the party, most of these arrangements will take place not in party offices but in auditoriums, community halls of gram panchayats to ensure there is “do gaz ki doori” among those sitting there.

BJP”s National Chief of Social Media Amit Malviya said that his department hasn”t been notified about the address, so far. But BJP”s Bihar chief Sanjay Jaiswal confirmed that Shah will indeed be the first among many faces who will hold such digital rallies and it will be on June 9. While he claims, more than 1 lakh people will watch that, it includes 38,000 of its cadres who the Bihar BJP expects to connect their phones with Android TVs and arrange a small group of people to watch.

According to the BJP website, Shah’s last rally in Bihar was on January 16, in Vaishali, which was part of a series of such rallies to make a case for the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Meanwhile, the election commission hasn”t taken any decision on whether to hold the Bihar polls, which are scheduled for later this year, on time or defer it due to the pandemic. But that hasn”t stopped BJP from sounding the poll bugle on a ”Tuesday”, considered as the ”day of Bajrang Bali” in this part of India, which state BJP leaders claim will put the party at an advantage.

–IANS

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