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Eight civilians killed as violence mars Kashmir by-poll

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Srinagar, April 9

We least eight civilians were killed and scores injured in firing by security forces as mobs tried to attack some polling stations in Srinagar parliamentary constituency that on Sunday recorded a poor seven per cent voting in a by-poll — the lowest in the state in three decades, officials said.

The by-poll to the Lok Sabha constituency — spread across three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal — was marred by widespread violence with police claiming that nearly 200 incidents of violent protests took place in central Kashmir.

As the day began with small queues of voters outside polling booths, slogan shouting mobs attacked polling stations in Budgam, damaged EVMs and prevented voters from exercising their franchise.

Security forces tried to disperse the crowds with warning shots initially and opened fire at them when they didn’t relent, a police officer said.

Seven persons were killed at three places of Budgam district and one in Ganderbal, where protestors clashed with security forces.

“The security forces opened fire to protect the polling staff,” the officer said, alleging that mobs tried to storm many polling stations and destroy EVMs.

The seven per cent voter turnout is the lowest in 27 years in the state. The constituency had in the 2014 general elections recorded 26 per cent turn out.

The by-poll was the first after the 2016 unrest, triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July last. Over 100 people were killed in five months of the unrest — the worst in six years of the troubled valley.

“It was an unfortunate day. Over 100 security personnel were injured. The turnout was 7.09 per cent,” Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu told media persons.

He also said that re-polling will be held at 100 polling stations that witnessed early closure due to violence.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said it was the worst poll-related violence he had seen in his 20 years of political career.

“Have contested six elections over 20 years and have never seen this level of violence in elections in Kashmir,” Abdullah tweeted.

Abdullah hit out at the state government over the violence and accused Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of failing to provide a conducive atmosphere for voting.

“Mehbooba Mufti is responsible for this situation. There is mismanagement,” he said.

Security was stepped up after separatists extended shutdown call till April 12 — election day in south Kashmir, the authorities also decided to suspend the internet services and postphoned the university examinations scheduled.

The stakes were high for opposition National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s Nazir Ahmed Khan who were the main contestants in the constituency. In all, nine candidates were in the fray.

The seat fell vacant after then PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra resigned to protest alleged atrocities on people during the 2016 agitation.

 

IANS

Election

Nitish, Tejashwi to campaign in Karnataka assembly polls

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Tejashwi Yadav and Nitish Kumar

Patna, April 26 (IANS) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will be the star campaigner for his party Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in the Karnataka assembly polls, a party leader said here on Thursday.

Besides Nitish, Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is one of the star campaigners for the Congress in the Karnataka assembly elections. He will also campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Nitish, also the JD-U President, will campaign for 35 candidates of his party who are contesting the polls.

“Nitish Kumar is the party’s star campaigner in Karnataka polls. He will visit Karnataka either at the end of this month or in first week of May,” Vashisht Narayan Singh, JD-U’s Bihar unit President, said here on Thursday.

According to Singh, JD-U’s Rajya Sabha MP, the party has announced the names of 20 star campaigners for the Karnataka polls. The party has already announced the names of its candidates.

Former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, younger son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, has been made the star campaigner by party ally Congress for the Karnataka polls.

Tejashwi, 27, is likely to visit Karnataka soon to campaign for Congress candidates, RJD spokesperson Shakti Yadav said.

IANS

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Karnataka Election: 3,374 candidates have filed nomination

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Karnataka Election

Bengaluru, April 25 : A whopping 3,374 candidates have filed nominations for the May 12 Karnataka assembly elections, as per the revised figures from the Election Commission released on Wednesday.

According to the ECs data, of the total nominees, 250 were from the ruling Congress, 282 from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 231 from Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), 1,673 from Independents and 938 from regional parties and fringe outfits.

Nominations, which began on April 17 after the elections in a single phase across the state was notified, ended on Tuesday.

Congress has fielded a total of 16 women, BJP 17 and JD-S 14. In addition, 90 women have filed their nominations as Independents from various constituencies.

Among the nominees, five belong to the age group of 81-90, the EC said.

Congress leaders Kagodu Thimmappa, 87, who filed his nomination from Sagar in Shivamogga district, Shamanur Shivashankarappa, 86, from Davanagere South assembly segment, A.B. Malakareddy, 82, from Yadgir, JD-S leader Mallappa Channaveerappa M., 82, from Sindgi constituency in Vijayapura district and BJP’s nominee from Hangal in Haveri district C.M. Udasi, 82, are the oldest among the nominees.

As more than 224 candidates have filed from the Congress, BJP and JD-S, their spokesmen told IANS earlier that the additional 26 from the Congress, 58 from the BJP and seven from JD-S would have filed without the mandatory B-Form from their respective parties and hence were likely to be rejected after the EC’s scrutiny on Wednesday or if they pullout by the last date of withdrawal on April 27.

The EC is yet to release the list of accepted nominations after its scrutiny on Wednesday.

Polling will be held in a single phase for all the 224 seats, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 15 for Scheduled Tribes (STs). Votes will be counted on May 15.

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Karnataka polls: Congress names Sonia, Manmohan, others as campaigners

In a letter to the Election Commission (EC) written by senior party leader Motilal Vora on Tuesday, the 40 leaders have been chosen as the “star campaigners” for the Congress.

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Rahul-Sonia-Manmohan

Bengaluru, April 25 : The Congress party will have 40 of its senior leaders including the party’s former chief Sonia Gandhi, senior leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and current President Rahul Gandhi, to campaign ahead of the May 12 Karnataka Assembly polls.

In a letter to the Election Commission (EC) written by senior party leader Motilal Vora on Tuesday, the 40 leaders have been chosen as the “star campaigners” for the Congress.

To ensure the ruling Congress’ success in the ensuing polls, the party will also fly in to the southern state its leaders like Lok Sabha lawmaker from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, Rajasthan unit Congress chief Sachin Pilot, the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, the party’s Lok Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia and former cricketer and party leader Mohammad Azharuddin among others.

In addition, Congress leaders from Karnataka like the state incharge K.C. Venugopal, state unit chief G. Parameshwara, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Lok Sabha lawmaker and former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily and state unit working President Dinesh Gundu Rao, among others, will also be a part of the campaign.

The party said it will also bring in popular faces from the film industry for campaigning like actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, actor and party spokeswoman Kushboo Sundar, renowned Kannada actor and sitting MLA from Mandya M.H. Ambareesh and former Kannada actor and Congress social media incharge Ramya.

In a related development, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is also contesting in a few of Karnataka’s 224 constituencies, has also named its “star campaigners”.

The AAP President and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and other party leaders like its Rajya Sabha lawmaker Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and actor and party member Gul Panag among a few others, are expected to visit the poll-bound state in the coming days.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will have Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a host of Union Ministers and senior leaders campaigning for the party in Karnataka.

Besides Modi and BJP national President Amit Shah, Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs), Smriti Irani (Information and Broadcasting), Nirmala Sitharaman (Defence), Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law and Justice), Piyush Goyal (Railways) and the party’s Lok Sabha lawmaker and veteran actress Hema Malini will soon be making a beeline to the state for campaigning.

Modi is expected to visit each of the state’s four regions — coastal, north, central and south — besides Bengaluru and Mysuru, starting May 1, addressing two-to-three rallies a day till May 10.

Polling will be held in a single phase on May 12 for 224 Assembly seats, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes. The votes will be counted on May 15.

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