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Left Unity takes early lead in JNU student union polls

The counting of votes for JNU polls began after an 11-hour delay due to the stalemate between the students and the administration.

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Voting underway for JNUSU elections

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) The Left Unity was leading on all the major seats of the JNU student union polls as per initial trends.

After the counting of 550 ballots out of 1841, Aishe Gosh from Left Unity was leading for the post of President with 266 votes, much ahead of Jitendra Suna of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) Fraternity.

Saket Moon from Left unity was leading for the post of Vice President with 360 votes, Satish Chandra Yadav for the post of General Secretary with 261 votes and Mohammad Danish for the post of Joint Secretary with 353 votes.

The Left parties including All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) and All India Students’ Federation (AISF) are contesting the polls together.

The counting of votes for JNU polls began after an 11-hour delay due to the stalemate between the students and the administration.

The counting process which had begun at 11.55 pm on Friday had to be put on hold due to the deadlock between the students and the university’s Grievance Redressal Cell (GRC). The students demanded a written undertaking from the polling agents that the results would not be disclosed before September 17. It was then decided that apart from the initial trends, the final results will be declared later by the university.

The Delhi High Court on Friday restrained the JNU from notifying the election results till September 17.

The university’s EC chairman Shashank Patel said that the counting process began at 11.55 pm Friday. He said the process had to be put on hold due to a deadlock between the student community and the JNU’s Grievance Redressal Cell (GRC) over the latter’s demand that the counting agents give a written undertaking stating they would not disclose the results, he said.

“The EC tried its best to convince the GRC to change its stand based on the demands of the student community,” Patel said, adding that the deadlock led to an 11-hour delay in the counting process.

After the consensus wasn’t reached even after the passage of several hours, the EC decided to resume the counting of votes anyway with declaration of trends, the EC chairman said. The result, however, will be put on hold, he added.

The university saw a turnout of 67.9 per cent voters on Friday. This is believed to be the highest the university has ever seen in seven years.

Earlier, the results were supposed to be declared on Sunday. But the High Court ordered the results be put off till September 17 on the pleas by two students alleging that their nominations for election of councillor in the JNUSU were illegally rejected.

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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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Election

Chacko quits as Delhi Congress in-charge after poll debacle

This is not the first time that Chacko has offered his resignation from the Delhi in-charge post. Last year also he had put in his papers, but was asked to stay on till the elections.

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PC Chacko

New Delhi, Feb 12 : Congress Delhi in-charge P. C. Chacko tendered his resignation from his post on Wednesday to party interim President Sonia Gandhi. The resignation comes a day after the party’s dismal performance in the Delhi Assembly polls in which it scored a zero.

This is the second resignation in the party following its complete rout in the Assembly poll.

On Tuesday evening, party State chief Subhash Chopra quit after owning the defeat. He said that he could not do much for the party, and hence was leaving the post.

This is not the first time that Chacko has offered his resignation from the Delhi in-charge post. Last year also he had put in his papers, but was asked to stay on till the elections.

After Tuesday’s poor showing, the rift within the party is now out in the open with the first salvo coming from Sharmistha Mukherji on Twitter, who said “we should shut shop” while attacking former union minister P. Chidambaram after he expressed happiness about the BJP’s dismal show in the Delhi Assembly elections.

The Congress, which ruled the state for 15 years, could not perform well in the elections, and the local leaders were quick to put the blame on the central leaders.

Congress leaders from former chief minister late Sheila Dikshit’s camp attacked Chacko over leaking a letter written by her son Sandeep Dikshit, a two-time MP, in which he had alleged that “Chacko was responsible for the death of the former Chief Minister, who was under immense pressure from the Delhi in-charge”.

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