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




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.



KC Tyagi says, Cambridge Analytica has no links with JD(U) nor his son



New Delhi, March 22: Senior Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi on Thursday rejected any links with the Cambridge Analytica (CA).

Speaking to Media, he stated that JDU has no relation with Cambridge Analytics, neither has its CEO ever met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish nor me. In any case, JDU is a Socialist outfit and we stay away from such things, except for maybe Prashant Kishore ji helping us during last assembly polls.

There was only a work relation between my son Amrish’s company and Cambridge Analytics , there is no financial transaction or shareholding, everything is open to probe. JDU also has no links with this, neither did they promote us in 2010 polls”, he added.

KC Tyagi’s son Amrish Tyagi owns Ovelina Business Intelligence (OBI), which was Cambridge Analytica’s associate in the country.

OBI in association with CA parent company SCL Group had formed a firm, SCL India.

Meanwhile hitting out at Janata Dal (United), RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, said the name of the company coming out in this matter is in the BJP client list, run by KC Tyagi’s son.

“JD(U) General Secretary’s son is involved and JD(U) is saying that we do not know anything”, he further asserted.

The alleged involvement of the data analytics company and Facebook has erupted a massive political debate across the world as well as in India with a big war-of-words breaking out between the ruling BJP and main Congress.


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Congress hits out at BJP, says Sabse bade data chor macha rahe hai zyada shor




New Delhi, March 22: Lashing out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for levelling charges over the alleged data theft, Congress on Thursday said the ruling government has become a manufacturer of fake news.

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said the BJP Govt has become a manufacturer of fake news. Sabse bade data chor macha rahe hain sabse zyada shor”.

Taking a jibe the BJP-led government, he said, “Hitler had an associate called Goebbels, Narendra Modi has an associate called Ravi Shankar Prasad.”

His reaction comes soon after, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad retaliated his allegations of Congress’s links to political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) and claimed that the firm was involved in Rahul Gandhi’s social media campaign and there had been meetings too in this regard.

The minister, accepting full responsibility, said that CA had been managing the social media campaign for Rahul Gandhi and there had been meetings also in this connection.

“The Congress cannot run away from this fact. If the Congress maintains a conspicuous silence on such an important news of the involvement of a dubious social media company and does not counter it, then I am sorry. They don’t have any right to run the country,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday also, the Congress denied links to CA that has been accused of data theft to allegedly influence the electoral process.


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Death of 39 Indians in Iraq: Congress to move Privilege Motion against Swaraj



New Delhi, March 22: The Congress will move a Privilege Motion against EAM Sushma Swaraj for misleading the kin of the Indians killed in Iraq by the Islamic State.

Speaking to media, Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni said: “We are going to bring a Privilege Motion against the External Affairs Minister for misleading the families of the 39 Indians as well as the House”.

EAM on Tuesday confirmed the death of missing 39 Indians who were abducted by ISIS in June 2014.

Former MoS for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, too, had cornered the ruling government for giving false hope to the families of the hostages all these years.

“Giving falsehood to people is actually cruel and suggests a certain level of lack transparency on part of the government, Tharoor asserted.

Echoing on similar views, another Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday asked the Central and State governments to provide financial assistance to the families of deceased and job opportunities in government sector.

The thirty-nine persons, most of them hailed from Punjab, were working on projects near Mosul, when they were abducted during their evacuation.


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