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Election

64.44% votes cast in Ist phase of Jharkhand polls

Several constituencies in the first phase fall in Naxal-affected areas such as Latehar, Lohardaga, Chatra, Gumla, Manika, Panki and Daltonganj.

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Ranchi, Nov 30 : Jharkhand witnessed 64.44 per cent polling in the first phase of the vote in the 13 Assembly constituencies on Saturday, which is one per cent more than 63.29 per cent recorded in these seats in the 2014 elections.

Defying the Maoist boycott call, voters queued up in large numbers at polling stations since morning to caste their votes.

According to Election Commission final data, the polling per cent was 64.44. The highest polling 71.47 per cent was recorded at Lohardagga and the lowest 56.59 per cent at the Chatra seat.

There was no major incident reported in the first phase. Maoist rebels tried to create fear among people by triggering four landmine blast in Gumla and blew up a bridge.

Minor clashes were reported between workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in the Daltanganj Assembly seat. Congress candidate K.N. Triptahy waved his licenced revolver in the air after he was stopped from entering a polling booth.

The Election Commission has sought report on the incident and has cancelled his licence.

The 13 seats that went to polls are: Chatra, Latehar and Chattarpur (reserved for SC), Gumla, Bishunpur, Lohardaga, Manika (all ST seats), Panki, Daltonganj, Bishrampur, Hussainabad, Garhwa and Bhawnathpur.

Of the 37,78,963 voters in this phase, 19,79,991 were men, 17,98,966 women and five belonged to the third gender. 189 candidates are in the race, including 15 women. A maximum of 28 candidates were in Bhawnathpur, and a minimum of nine in the Chatra seat.

According to Election Commission, of the 4,892 booths in the first phase, 4,585 were located in rural areas and 307 in urban areas. Of this, 121 were Sakhi booths and 417 model booths. In the first phase, webcasting facility was provided at 1,262 booths.

Heavy security arrangements had been made and helicopters were used for airlifting and dropping of the poll officials in difficult terrain and Maoist-hit areas.

The leading candidates, whose fate had been sealed in the first phase, included Jharkhand Health Minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi, Congress state chief Rameshwar Oraon and former Minister and BJP candidate Bhanu Pratap Shahi.

The BJP is fighting 12 seats and supporting Independent on one seat. The Jharkahnd Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress, the RJD fighting poll in alliance have fielded candidates in four, six and three seats, respectively.

On nine seats, it was direct contest between the BJP and the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance.

Of the triangular on three seats, the contest in Lohardagga where between Congress state president Rameshwar Oraon, former state Congress chief, sitting MLA and now BJP candidate Sukhdeo Bhagat, and the All Jharkhand Students Union candidate Niru Bhagat.

In Hussainabad seat, the fight is four-cornered. Here former Minister and NCP candidate Kamlesh is drawing attention of voters. He was Minister in the Madhu Koda government and have spent time in jail in different cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Raghubar Das appealed voters to vote in large number.

Election

Congress forms 5-party Mahagathbandhan to take on BJP in Assam

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

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Guwahati, Jan 20: The opposition Congress on Tuesday announced a five-party ‘Mahagathbandhan’ to take on the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam in the upcoming Assembly elections expected to be held in April-May.

Announcing the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), Assam Congress President Ripun Bora said that his party would contest the elections in alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the three Left parties – Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – and the Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

He said that regional parties are welcome to join the Mahagathbandhan to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party from power in the state.

“The Congress is always keen to oust all communal forces for the best interest of the country. People are ready to vote out the BJP as its misgovernance caused a lot of distress to the people, who have become fed up with the BJP,” he said.

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

AGM President Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, also a Rajya Sabha member, termed the formation of the grand alliance as a historic moment. He sounded optimistic that the grand alliance would defeat the BJP in the forthcoming elections.

Besides the AIUDF, a Muslim-dominated party in Assam, and the Left parties, state Congress leaders had held several meetings in the past few months with the ‘like minded parties’.

AIUDF President and Lok Sabha member Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has been stating that the two parties (Congress and AIUDF) have decided to contest the Assembly polls together since their tie-up for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls held last month.

Recently, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi had appointed three central leaders — Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh Chief Minister), Mukul Wasnik (AICC General Secretary) and Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Bihar MLA) — to oversee the election campaign in Assam in close coordination with the AICC general secretaries and the party in-charge for the state.

Baghel and other central leaders held meetings with the state party leaders in Guwahati before Assam Congress chief announced the Mahagathbandhan.

The Congress had suffered a setback in the recent elections to the BTC and the Tiwa Autonomous Council. Two of its MLAs – Ajanta Neog and Rajdeep Goala – had joined the BJP last month, delivering another blow to the party.

In the 2016 Assam assembly elections, the Congress had contested on its own without an electoral alliance with any party, securing 24 seats.

After the last Assembly polls, the BJP formed the government in Assam for the first time after winning 60 seats following the formation of an alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which won 14 and 12 seats, respectively. The ruling alliance also has the support of an Independent MLA.

The 126-member Assam Assembly is likely to go to the polls in April-May along with West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

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Sonia forms 10-member election panel for Kerala chaired by Chandy

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi, Jan 20: Eyeing the assembly polls in Kerala, the Congress on Tuesday announced a 10-member Election Management and Strategy Committee under the leadership of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as its chairperson along with senior party members like Shashi Tharoor and K. C. Venugopal.

Venugopal, who is the party’s General Secretary (Organisations) in a statement said that party chief Sonia Gandhi has approved the appointment of Election Management and Strategy Committee of Kerala Congress for the upcoming assembly elections with immediate effect.

He further said that the Committee shall meet frequently to discuss matters related to electioneering, co-ordination and formulation of election strategies.

Besides Chandy, Tharoor and Venugopal, the party has also named Mullapallay Ramachandran, Ramesh Chennithala, Tariq Anwar, K. Muraleedharan, V.M. Sudheeran, K. Sudhakaran and Kodikkunnil Suresh as the panel members.

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Bengal: Left, Congress leaders hold talks; to finalise candidates by Jan end

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Kolkata, Jan 18: Top leaders of the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress conducted a meeting here on Sunday to discuss the seat-sharing and other election-related strategies, leaders of both the parties said, adding that their candidates would be finalised by the end of this month.

However, both the Congress and Left leaders said that they would hold more such meetings this month to finalise the candidates’ list for the upcoming Assembly elections, expected to be held in April-May.

Both the party leaders would meet again on January 25 and 28 to settle the seat-sharing issue and other poll-related preparedness.

In 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, the two parties had forged an alliance and won 76 seats in the 294-member Assembly.

Post meeting, Left Front Chairman and CPI-M politburo member Biman Bose said that their discussion with the Congress was cordial and fruitful.

“To defeat the communal force BJP and the fascist TMC (Trinamool Congress), the Congress-Left parties’ alliance is must. The alliance would definitely thrash the binary rule in Bengal,” the veteran Left leader told the media.

Bose said that leaders and workers of Left parties and Congress should fight against the BJP and the TMC with shoulder to shoulder.

Party sources said that the Congress wanted to contest in 130 seats but the Left leaders did not concede the demand.

Bengal Congress chief and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury said that the seat sharing with the Left parties would not be completed in a single meeting, however, the seat sharing process would be concluded within this month.

CPI-M state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, Congress leaders Abdul Mannan and Pradip Bhattacharjee were present at the meeting.The Left and Congress parties are likely to hold a mega joint rally in Kolkata soon to kick start their election campaign.

The all important elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly are likely to be held in April-May along with Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.In the 2016 West Bengal polls,

Trinamool had retained its majority and won 211 seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party won three seats.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Left and Congress had fought separately with the Congress won two seats, the Left Front dominated by the CPI-M, which ruled Bengal for 34 years (1977-2011), drew a blank.

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