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Gross interference in EC’s working over poll dates, BJP looking at defeat in Gujarat: Congress

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New Delhi, Oct 13: The Congress on Friday accused the BJP of “grossest interference” in the working of the Election Commission, saying the decision not to declare the dates for the Gujarat elections cuts at the root of constitutional principles and was a “shameless tactic” to save itself from a thrashing at the hustings.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told media persons here that the BJP was trying to convert the “Election Commission into Election Omission” and its “shameless tactics” were “a last-ditch effort to save itself from the thrashing in Gujarat in the forthcoming elections”.

He said the decision was a “fundamental assault on the level-playing field concept”.

“It is not a small matter. It cuts at the root of several constitutional fundamental principles. It is grossest interference in a shameless manner. It violates the basic structure of the Indian Constitution as holding free, fair elections is part of the basic structure,” Singhvi said.

“It has denigrated the authority and power of the Election Commission. A drowning man is desperately clutching at a straw,” he added.

The Election Commission on Thursday declared assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh but not for Gujarat even as the term of assemblies in both states ends in January. However, it said the elections in the state will be held by December 18.

Singhvi claimed that the poll panel appeared to have handed a rope to the BJP to “somehow climb the cliff at a time when it is down and out and is looking to somehow lure the electorate with sops”.

He said the announcement had also cast “a serious shadow of suspicion on the working of the Election Commission”.

Singhvi said dates of the Gujarat polls should be announced immediately and the Model Code of Conduct be immediately enforced.

The Congress leader said the “BJP had forced this change” so as to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce various sops “like a false Santa Claus” in Gujarat on October 16.

Singhvi said that within 10 minutes of the poll panel’s presser, the BJP government in Gujarat announced sops worth hundreds of crores.

“The sops were aimed at wooing agitating Patidars, the Valmiki community, lakhs of government employees and the powerful builder lobby. Why was it in such a tiring hurry. Is it not an example of corruption. This is an attempt at collective bribery?” he said.

He said the BJP-ruled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) advanced its standing committee meeting by an hour and a half to clear proposals worth Rs 530 crore in just 10 minutes.

The Congress leader said that Modi has repeatedly talked of simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and assembly and the BJP too has been talking about it.

“But these were not conducted in two states simultaneously,” he said.

Singhvi said past practices, conventions and precedents were being “set aside to help the BJP”.

He said Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have gone to elections together since 1998 except in 2002-03 when Gujarat was hit by riots.

Singhvi said earlier this year, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand went to polls together and the poll schedule, spread over a month from February 4 to March 8, was all announced on January 4.

Referring to the Election Commission stating that it is supposed to conduct elections in a state within 46 days, Singhvi said this time limit has been broken in the past on numerous occasions including in elections in Delhi, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Arunachal and Andhra Pradesh.

He said people of Himachal Pradesh have been made to wait for results for over a month “just because PM has to announce sops”.

He said another reason being cited is of flood relief and said floods occurred in some parts of Gujarat in July 2017 but this reflected poorly on the state government which has not been able to complete the work in more than three months.

Singhvi also alleged that the Election Commission had not held a meeting with the Home Ministry to discuss security issues prior to its announcement.

IANS

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Policeman attempts to fire at Kamal Nath

Rajya Sabha MP and advocate Vivek Tankha posted two tweets informing about the incidence.

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Kamal Nath

As per Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tanka, a policeman tried to fire his rifle at senior Congress leader Kamal Nath at the Chhindwara airstrip in Madhya Pradesh. The policeman was overpowered by the security personnel present at the airstrip and has now been placed under suspension.

Rajya Sabha MP and advocate Vivek Tankha posted two tweets informing about the incidence.

Kamal Nath represents Chhindwara in Loksabha and is presently the longest serving member of the Indian Parliament. He has been elected nine times from Chhindwara.

He has won every election since 1980 with the sole exception of elections to 11th Loksabha in 1996.

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Activists seek political support on triple talaq bill, AIMPLB opposes

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New Delhi, Dec 15 : Women activists on Friday sought support of all political parties in converting the triple talaq Bill into law in Parliament, even as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) termed the Bill a “direct interference in religious matters”.

The women activists said the Bill to ban triple talaq — oral divorce by Muslim men — should be converted into law in Parliament’s Winter Session so that its victims can get justice.

The Union Cabinet on Friday cleared the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, to make the practice of triple talaq an offence.

The AIMPLB said it is against ‘Shariat’ and asked the Centre to consult the Muslim organisation before making any such law, after the Bill was approved by the Cabinet.

Activist Zakir Soman claimed the board and the Muslim community are not taking proper care of triple talaq victims, and such women should get justice from the law.

“If the community and the board were doing enough, why would triple talaq victims be approaching women’s organisations?” asked Soman.

“We will not give up our constitutional and legal entitlements. We are all citizens of a democracy and living in the 21st century. We are entitled, educated, and empowered, and want justice as per the law of the land…,” the activist said.

According to Soman, they have written to Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury for support in ensuring the passage of Bill in Parliament.

“It is not a matter of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress or any other political party. It is the responsibility of all political parties and their representatives and all women in this country,” she said.

Opposing the proposed law, AIMPLB member Maulana Khalid Rashid said: “As far as the divorced women’s rehabilitation is concerned, the Muslim community is already doing it. So, we consider the Bill as a direct interference in the religious matters of our community. It is an attack on our religious freedom…”

“Women are not being tortured in the name of triple talaq. Muslim women have said they do not want changes in the community’s personal laws, including on triple talaq. If certain people are misusing such laws it doesn’t mean you will completely end it. It is part of our ‘Shariat’. The government should at least have consulted Muslim organisations before making any such law.”

Woman activist Hina Zaheer said: “According to the Quran, there is no provision for instant talaq… So, it should not be a matter of prestige for the board. Since the board failed to resolve the issue, a lot of politics has been done on it.”

According to the draft Bill sent out to the states earlier this month, it was proposed that triple talaq be made a cognisable and non-bailable offence, attracting three years in jail.

The draft law was prepared in the backdrop of the August verdict of the Supreme Court that struck down the practice of “instant” divorce as illegal.

IANS

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Mehbooba’s brother quits as CM grievance cell head, likely to get cabinet berth

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Jammu, Dec 15 : Sayeed Tasaduq Mufti, brother of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, on Friday resigned as coordinator of CM’s grievance cell.

Tasaduq Mufti had given up his career as a Bollywood cinematographer and came back to the state after his father, Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed died on January 7, 2016, and was appointed as coordinator of CM’s grievance cell to address day-to-day problems of the people brought to his notice.

He is also the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate for the Anantnag Lok Sabha bypoll, which has not been held yet due to the challenging security situation in districts of Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama.

Informed sources said that decks have been cleared for Tasaduq Mufti’s nomination to the upper house of the state’s bicameral legislature.

The seat fell vacant after sitting legislative counsellor Vikramaditya Singh resigned from both the house and the PDP following differences with the party leadership over issues concerning the Jammu region.

Sources also said once he becomes a legislator, he would be inducted into the state cabinet and allotted the important Tourism portfolio that is presently held by the Chief Minister.

IANS

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