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Election

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

Congress forms 5-party Mahagathbandhan to take on BJP in Assam

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

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BJP and Congress Flag Poster

Guwahati, Jan 20: The opposition Congress on Tuesday announced a five-party ‘Mahagathbandhan’ to take on the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam in the upcoming Assembly elections expected to be held in April-May.

Announcing the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), Assam Congress President Ripun Bora said that his party would contest the elections in alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the three Left parties – Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – and the Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

He said that regional parties are welcome to join the Mahagathbandhan to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party from power in the state.

“The Congress is always keen to oust all communal forces for the best interest of the country. People are ready to vote out the BJP as its misgovernance caused a lot of distress to the people, who have become fed up with the BJP,” he said.

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

AGM President Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, also a Rajya Sabha member, termed the formation of the grand alliance as a historic moment. He sounded optimistic that the grand alliance would defeat the BJP in the forthcoming elections.

Besides the AIUDF, a Muslim-dominated party in Assam, and the Left parties, state Congress leaders had held several meetings in the past few months with the ‘like minded parties’.

AIUDF President and Lok Sabha member Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has been stating that the two parties (Congress and AIUDF) have decided to contest the Assembly polls together since their tie-up for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls held last month.

Recently, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi had appointed three central leaders — Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh Chief Minister), Mukul Wasnik (AICC General Secretary) and Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Bihar MLA) — to oversee the election campaign in Assam in close coordination with the AICC general secretaries and the party in-charge for the state.

Baghel and other central leaders held meetings with the state party leaders in Guwahati before Assam Congress chief announced the Mahagathbandhan.

The Congress had suffered a setback in the recent elections to the BTC and the Tiwa Autonomous Council. Two of its MLAs – Ajanta Neog and Rajdeep Goala – had joined the BJP last month, delivering another blow to the party.

In the 2016 Assam assembly elections, the Congress had contested on its own without an electoral alliance with any party, securing 24 seats.

After the last Assembly polls, the BJP formed the government in Assam for the first time after winning 60 seats following the formation of an alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which won 14 and 12 seats, respectively. The ruling alliance also has the support of an Independent MLA.

The 126-member Assam Assembly is likely to go to the polls in April-May along with West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

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Election

Sonia forms 10-member election panel for Kerala chaired by Chandy

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi, Jan 20: Eyeing the assembly polls in Kerala, the Congress on Tuesday announced a 10-member Election Management and Strategy Committee under the leadership of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as its chairperson along with senior party members like Shashi Tharoor and K. C. Venugopal.

Venugopal, who is the party’s General Secretary (Organisations) in a statement said that party chief Sonia Gandhi has approved the appointment of Election Management and Strategy Committee of Kerala Congress for the upcoming assembly elections with immediate effect.

He further said that the Committee shall meet frequently to discuss matters related to electioneering, co-ordination and formulation of election strategies.

Besides Chandy, Tharoor and Venugopal, the party has also named Mullapallay Ramachandran, Ramesh Chennithala, Tariq Anwar, K. Muraleedharan, V.M. Sudheeran, K. Sudhakaran and Kodikkunnil Suresh as the panel members.

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Election

Bengal: Left, Congress leaders hold talks; to finalise candidates by Jan end

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Congress

Kolkata, Jan 18: Top leaders of the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress conducted a meeting here on Sunday to discuss the seat-sharing and other election-related strategies, leaders of both the parties said, adding that their candidates would be finalised by the end of this month.

However, both the Congress and Left leaders said that they would hold more such meetings this month to finalise the candidates’ list for the upcoming Assembly elections, expected to be held in April-May.

Both the party leaders would meet again on January 25 and 28 to settle the seat-sharing issue and other poll-related preparedness.

In 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, the two parties had forged an alliance and won 76 seats in the 294-member Assembly.

Post meeting, Left Front Chairman and CPI-M politburo member Biman Bose said that their discussion with the Congress was cordial and fruitful.

“To defeat the communal force BJP and the fascist TMC (Trinamool Congress), the Congress-Left parties’ alliance is must. The alliance would definitely thrash the binary rule in Bengal,” the veteran Left leader told the media.

Bose said that leaders and workers of Left parties and Congress should fight against the BJP and the TMC with shoulder to shoulder.

Party sources said that the Congress wanted to contest in 130 seats but the Left leaders did not concede the demand.

Bengal Congress chief and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury said that the seat sharing with the Left parties would not be completed in a single meeting, however, the seat sharing process would be concluded within this month.

CPI-M state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, Congress leaders Abdul Mannan and Pradip Bhattacharjee were present at the meeting.The Left and Congress parties are likely to hold a mega joint rally in Kolkata soon to kick start their election campaign.

The all important elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly are likely to be held in April-May along with Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.In the 2016 West Bengal polls,

Trinamool had retained its majority and won 211 seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party won three seats.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Left and Congress had fought separately with the Congress won two seats, the Left Front dominated by the CPI-M, which ruled Bengal for 34 years (1977-2011), drew a blank.

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