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Congress to take part in Jammu and Kashmir elections



Srinagar, Sep 19: The Congress will participate in the upcoming Jammu and Kashmir municipal and panchayat elections. 

Speaking to media G.A. Mir, President of Jammu and Kashmir Congress unit, said his party had decided to take part in the polls to “keep the communal forces away”.

“If Congress is voted to power, we will build consensus to address the concerns as per legislation of the state. We will safeguard Article 35A”, he added.

The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party have decided to boycott the elections.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) will also stay away from the polls.

While municipal elections for the two corporations of Srinagar and Jammu and 77 municipal committees are sated to be held in October, the panchayat polls across the state will take place in November-December.



Ahead of Bengal polls, snubbed Rahul Sinha hints at rebellion

With West Bengal set to go to the polls next year, the elevation of Roy and Hazra clearly hasn’t gone down well with Sinha.




rahul sinha

New Delhi, Sep 26 : Barely a few hours after being shunted out, BJP’s former National Secretary and ex-Bengal President Rahul Sinha hinted at rebellion on Saturday.

In a video message, Sinha claimed that he will articulate his ‘stand’ and ‘next step’ in view of Saturday’s announcement in the coming 10 to 12 days.

Earlier on Saturday, BJP national President J.P. Nadda announced the new team of the party’s national office-bearers, with former Trinamool Congress leader Anupam Hazra getting promoted as one of the national secretaries, while Sinha was removed from the post.

Hitting out at Hazra’s elevation without naming him, Sinha said, “For 40 years, I have served the BJP as a soldier, from the very beginning. Today I had to be removed because a TMC leader had to be accommodated. There can not be anything more sad than this.”

Taking a further dig at the BJP, Sinha sarcastically called it a “gift”.

He said that in the next 10 to 12 days, he will make his stand about his removal known. “In the next 10 to 12 days, I will make myself clear… I will also clear my next step,” he said, hinting at a rebellion.

Hazra was a young Trinamool lawmaker who had his allegiance to Mukul Roy. After Roy’s exit from the party, Hazra has been in touch with Roy.

In March last year, he along with Congress’ Dulal Chandra and CPM’s Khagen Murmu joined the saffron party in Delhi.

With West Bengal set to go to the polls next year, the elevation of Roy and Hazra clearly hasn’t gone down well with Sinha.

Now, it remains to be seen whether the central BJP reaches out to him or waits for his “next step”.

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‘Social media platforms will be held liable for failure to counter misuse’: CEC Sunil Arora

The Commission has also asked political parties and candidates to sensitise their representative not to indulge in ‘malpractices, malicious propaganda and instances of hate speech’.




Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Friday said that social media platforms will be held responsible if they fail to make adequate arrangements to counter misuse and don’t take prompt action against adverse posts ahead of the Bihar assembly elections.

“Adverse use of social media platforms has emerged as a new challenge in recent times,” Arora said. “If adequate arrangements aren’t made to counter the misuse of the social media then they will not be allowed to take pretext of being only a provider and shall be held responsible if necessary action is not taken promptly and adequately.”

The Commission has also asked political parties and candidates to sensitise their representative not to indulge in ‘malpractices, malicious propaganda and instances of hate speech’, as such actions will be dealt with ‘sternly’ and ‘harshly’.

“The commission would like to make it emphatically clear that anyone who misuses any such platform, such as for fomenting communal tensions, etc for electoral purposes, shall have to face consequences under the law of the land,” Arora said.

Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Commission and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp along with IAMAI had signed a voluntary code of ethics. According to the code, while the participants ‘recognise they are neither the author nor the publisher of such content’, they are ‘committed to helping support democratic processes by improving the integrity and transparency of electoral processes’.

Hindustan Times reached out to Facebook and Whatsapp for a comment but did not receive one until press time. Twitter declined to comment.

Arora’s statement also comes in the wake of the Wall Street Journal reports in August which alleged Facebook had selectively exercised its hate-speech policy to favour the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, wrote to CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that the platform allowed people to make posts against prime minister Narendra Modi, with BJP alleging that there was nexus between the Congress and Facebook.

According to Twitter’s recently updated civic integrity policy, a person may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes. This includes posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process. It, however, makes no mention of propaganda, hate speech and malicious content.

According to people familiar with the matter, the Commission draws its reservoir of power from Article 324 of the constitution. “Elections are conducted under Constitution and the Supreme Court in its judgment has held on a number of occasions that Article 324 gives vast powers to the Commission subject of certain restrictions such as fairness and transparency,” said such a person on the condition of anonymity. The person added that the EC would decide what course to take on a case-to-case basis.

Article 324 allows the Election Commission the “superintendence, direction and control of elections”. The EC had invoked this provision in West Bengal in May last year, curtailing campaigning in the state ahead of Parliamentary elections after clashes between cadres of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Kolkata.

Experts, however, say the ECI’s powers to regulate the social media platforms are limited.

“Their authority to regulate platforms is not clearly provided,” global cybersecurity lead and Asia Pacific policy director at Access Now Raman Jit Singh Chima said. “They are stretching authority they have to regulate electronic media and threatening companies by proposing to further regulate or prosecute them.”

“It’s commendable that the CEC is speaking about this, however, the ECI has failed to advance any reforms to protect electoral democracy in the digital age in India. Prior to the 2019 general elections, many groups working on electoral reforms, democracy and fundamental rights issues wrote to the ECI and went public with their suggestion on how the ECI can take steps in this area. They also recommended they engage all stakeholders on this important issue and should not only consult political parties in Delhi, web companies and their industry lobby group. This has not yet occurred, which is deeply disturbing,” he added.

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Bihar Polls: Grand Alliance to decide on CM face after talks with allies, says Congress

The Congress, RJD, RLSP, VIP and Left parties are set to challenge the NDA in Bihar if things go on track.




Shaktisinh Gohil

New Delhi, Sep 25 : After the Election Commission announced dates for the three-phase elections in Bihar, the Congress has claimed that talks with allies are on the right track on the seat-sharing deal which has not yet finalised.

Congress Bihar in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil said,”There is no harm in any party propagating its leader’s name for Chief Minister but we will sit and decide on the issue that which way we will go with CM face or no face.”

The comments come after the RJD pushing Tejashwi Yadav as the CM face ahead of elections which is not going well with the allies, specially the RLSP.

Alliance partner RLSP is upset over the delay in the seat-sharing agreement and has conveyed it to the Congress leadership. Gohil said that there is no problem within the alliance and everything is going on smoothly.

But the RLSP, in its resolution on Thursday, said that there are differences over the leadership in the alliance and the delay in seat sharing is not good for the health of the alliance.

The party has authorised Upendra Kushwaha to take decisions on the alliance.

But sources say that there are major hiccups within the alliance as the RJD is claiming all the seats which could be won by the alliance leaving seats which are tough-to-win for its partners.

The RJD is keen to contest 145 out of the 243 seats leaving the burden on the Congress to adjust the RLSP, Left parties,JMMA and other smaller parties.

The Congress is likely to contest 70 seats and the RLSP is claiming more than 40 seats. But the bone of contention is not the number of seats but the quality of seats which are considered a stronghold of the alliance.

The fate of the alliance depends on how fast the final agreement is reached on both the issues since HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi has already joined the NDA citing differences.

The Congress, RJD, RLSP, VIP and Left parties are set to challenge the NDA in Bihar if things go on track.

Elections for the 243 Assembly seats in Bihar will take place in three phases between October 28 and November 7. The counting of votes will be on November 10, the Election Commission said on Friday.

The term of the Bihar Assembly comes to an end on November 29. According to the poll panel, there are 7.29 crore voters in the state, including 3.85 crore male and 3.4 crore female voters and 1.6 lakh service voters.

In the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) emerged as the largest party by winning 80 seats while the ruling Janata Dal-United won 71 seats, the Congress 27. The BJP managed to win 53 seats, followed by two seats by the LJP and one seat by Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular, even as other candidates emerged victorious on 10 seats.

The BJP, despite winning only 53 seats, got the maximum percentage of vote share with 24 per cent, followed by the RJD with 18 per cent and JD-U 17 per cent. The Congress managed to get seven per cent vote share and the LJP around 4.8 per cent.

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