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Election

Digvijay Singh raises EVM issue

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Digvijay Singh

New Delhi, Feb 11 Congress leader Digvijay Singh has raised the EVM issue as vote counting began in Delhi. Early trends showed AAP leading, BJP in second spot with Congress a distant third.

The former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh said that EVMs are not tamper-proof and no developed country uses them.

Singh tweeted: “No Machine which has a Chip is Tamper-Proof. Also please do for a moment think, why no Developed Country uses EVM?

He has urged the Supreme Court and the Election Commission to look into the issue of EVM.

“Would CEC and Honourable Supreme Court please have a fresh look on EVM voting in India? We are the largest Democracy in the World, we can’t allow some Unscrupulous People to Hack Results and steal the Mandate of 1.3 Billion People.”

Digvijay Singh has emphasised that postal ballots should also be counted “If they match the Votes in the Counting Unit. Declare the result. If they don’t match then count the Ballots of all Polling Booths in the Assembly. It would convince every one and save time also as this has been the consistent argument of CEC in favour of EVM”.

The Congress which ruled the state for 15 years under Shiela Dikshit has been struggling to open an account in Delhi.

Election

Left, ultra-Left sweep Jadavpur University Elections

The Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), affiliate of the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress, fared poorly in each of the three faculties.

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Jadavpur University

Kolkata, Feb 20 : Ultra-left and Left organisations swept the students union elections in the Jadavpur University where the vote count was held on Thursday.

Contesting for the first time, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (AVBP), student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), finished second in the Engineering faculty ahead of the Students Federation of India.

Radical Left Democratic Students Federation retained all the four office bearers’ post in the Engineering faculty, while ‘We the Independent’ (WTI) – a consolidation of pro-Maoist and other Aextreme Left groups – kept intact their hegemony in the Engineering section.

The SFI, student wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) was onway to maintaining its hold over the Arts faculty, after a close fight with the Democratic Students Association, an extreme left group.

The ABVP trailed behind the DSF by a huge margin in the Engineering faculty, even though it finished second. The SFI took the third spot.

However, the ABVP failed to make any mark in the Arts faculty.

The Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), affiliate of the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress, fared poorly in each of the three faculties.

The union elections were held peacefully after a three-year break on Wednesday.

The elections were held for posts of 12 office bearers as also over 600 class representatives. However, majority of the posts went uncontested.

The humanities faculty has highest number of students – over 4,000. There are 2,000 students in the science faculty and 700 in the engineering faculty.

The ABVP fielded candidates for nine out of 12 office bearers of the union, adding a fresh dimension to the polls.

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Hardline Iran and aggressive nationalism

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s parliamentary polls are likely to elect a hardline Parliament when the country goes to the polls to choose a new Majlis on February 21. With an economy battered by renewed American sanctions and US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy, Iran will turn more conservative after the new Parliament is elected.

The Guardian Council, appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected more than half the candidates, leaving an electoral arena dominated by hardliners. The large scale disqualification of reformist candidates has led to public disinterest in the polls and demands from dissident groups to boycott the elections.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has appealed to the people to cast their ballot in the February 21 election, but there is growing concern in Tehran that polling levels may drop sharply due to the voters ire at the high level of disqualifications. The present Majlis has about 100 reformists in the 290-member house, while the rest comprise hardline conservatives as well as a sizeable number of independents.

The Guardian Council has vetted the candidates in all parliamentary elections, and has usually rejected from 15 per cent to 40 per cent of the candidates in any election. But this time the rejection rate is much higher than before, leading to general disenchantment with the forthcoming elections. More than half the candidates for the parliamentary elections have not been approved and the rejections include many members of the existing Parliament.

The Majlis enacts legislation, approves the budget and ratifies international agreements. The election of a conservative legislature would affect the functioning of the government led by President Rouhani. The election result would also act as an indicator for the next presidential elections that are due in just over a year in mid-2021.

Iran has suffered under the additional sanctions imposed by the US after Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018. The additional sanctions severely impacted Iran’s economy, which has led to increasing unrest among the people. Public anger erupted in November last year when thousands of Iranians staged street protests in different parts of the country over hikes in fuel prices. The protests were put down through harsh action by the security forces. Tensions with the US escalated after Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani was killed in a targeted US air strike in January. Soleimani, a leader and General was deeply admired in Iran and the region, and his assassination had shocked most Iranians. But in the confrontation with the US, Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet plane killing all 176 passengers near Teheran. There was outrage in Iran and angry protests as officials first sought to deny and cover-up the incident before admitting that the passenger aircraft had been shot down by mistake.

Iran has gone through economic and political crisis; the reformists have been under pressure ever since the US quit the nuclear agreement. Though there was widespread support for the nuclear agreement in Iran, many hardliners had opposed the agreement. Trump’s rejection of the agreement seemed to validate the objections of the hardliners. Rouhani’s government has been criticised by the reformists for failing to fulfil election promises of providing greater freedoms and easing social restrictions, while the hardliners have attacked him for negotiating with western powers on the nuclear agreement which collapsed after Trump targeted Iran and reimposed sanctions.

The current Parliament was elected in 2016 when the moderates gained ground after a spell of conservative rule under President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. In 2016, a combination of reformists, centrists and moderate conservatives had won about 41 per cent of the seats, while the hardliners won 29 per cent and 28 per cent went to independent candidates. In 2004, large-scale disqualification of candidates before the polls had marginalised the reformist sections for several years and created the conditions for the election of hardliner, Ahmedinejad.

The 2016 elections brought back the reformists and moderates to power. The 2016 election was seen as Iran moving towards a more open society with greater social freedoms. A conservative or hardline Parliament will set the path to a more aggressively nationalist policy towards the US, and make it increasingly difficult for any government to make any moves towards engaging with the US.

(Shubha Singh is a foreign policy and strategic affairs commentator. The views expressed are personal. She can be reached at [email protected])

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Election

Manoj Tiwari offers to quit as Delhi BJP chief

Manoj Tiwari, who was a key campaigner for the BJP in the run-up to Delhi elections, conceded defeat on Tuesday and said the party will evaluate reasons behind the loss.

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Manoj Tiwari

New Delhi, Feb 12: BJP’s Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari offered to resign from his post on Wednesday, just a day after the BJP faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi Assembly polls. The party, however, has refused to accept his resignation.

While it may be a reprieve for Tiwari, whose removal was being talked about ever since Tuesday’s election debacle, the BJP leadership is believed to be not in favour of a change of guard at the moment.

Informed sources told IANS that while refusing to accept Tiwari’s resignation, which was addressed to BJP President J.P. Nadda, the party leadership is said to have told Tiwari that a change of guard in Delhi will take place as and when “structural changes” are made in BJP’s Delhi unit.

The Delhi BJP unit has often been a problematic one because of the internal strife. While Vijay Goel has one set of followers, Tiwari has another set and so does Harsh Vardhan.

There have been demands within the party to remove Tiwari from the top post in Delhi for more than a year now. But then BJP President Amit Shah refused to entertain such demands with Delhi elections in mind, where Purvanchalis constitute a sizeable number. Tiwari often flaunts his Purvanchali origin as his political USP.

But after BJP managed to win just eight seats as against AAP’s 62 on Tuesday, the saffron party may seriously think of a complete rejig of the Delhi unit.

In fact, BJP President Nadda has convened a meeting on Wednesday evening to review Delhi poll results and to fix accountability.

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