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Local issues to overshadow national polls in TN?

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Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam start hunger hunger strike over Cauvery Mangement Board issue on April 3, 2018.

Chennai, March 28 (IANS) With 18 Assembly constituencies falling under 13 Lok Sabha constituencies set to go for bypolls, local issues will have an impact on the voting pattern in electing the parliamentarians in Tamil Nadu, said political leaders.

There is also a contrary view: this time around the elections in Tamil Nadu is distinctive, materialistic and will not be dominated by issues while perception may play an important part.

The polls for 39 Lok Sabha seats and Assembly byelections are slated to be held together on April 18 in the state.

“While holding elections for both Lok Sabha and Assembly together saves cost, majority of the people do not distinguish between the two polls while voting. So the local issues will play a major part in their voting pattern,” C. Ponniayan, spokesperson for AIADMK and former Finance Minister told IANS.

According to Ponnaiyan, the state government has taken several proactive steps in managing the drinking water problem that may arise by repairing the borewells motors, deepening the borewells and other steps.

He also said the issues raised by the DMK have also been addressed by the government.

“There is no anti-incumbency sentiment against the AIADMK government in the state,” Ponnaiyan claimed.

Refuting him was DMK’s former Member of Parliament R. Thamaraiselvan. He told IANS: “There is dual anti-incumbency factor at play-one against AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu and one against the BJP-led government in New Delhi.”

According to Thamaraiselvan, lots of state-centric issues are being raised by the DMK and it will echo in the voting for both Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Thamaraiselvan said: “People have expectations from DMK and the sentiments are in our favour.

“The GST and demonetisation has affected common man very much. The state is facing a severe drought situation. The voters will look at the issues that affect them and vote.”

According to him, the AIADMK alliance is banking on electoral arithmetic, which will not work in their favour this time. The AIADMK has split and the breakaway group led by T.T.V. Dhinakaran is expected to garner sizeable chunk of the ruling party votes.

“In respect of the Vanniar party PMK, even the Vanniars themselves are disappointed with the party’s decision to align with AIADMK. So, the five per cent vote share of PMK may not actually be there now,” Thamaraiselvan added.

The ruling party may try to purchase votes but loyalty factor to vote for the party that is giving money is no more there in the people.

“‘It is our money coming back to us’ is the view that people now hold,” Thamaraiselvan added.

In his campaign, DMK President M.K. Stalin spends good number of minutes in criticising the PMK and its leadership for aligning with the AIADMK.

“The vote share arithmetic is in favour of AIADMK-led alliance even in the constituencies where by-elections are slated for Assembly. Even if it is true that the sentiment is in favour of DMK, only a small percentage of votes may switch leaving the arithmetical advantage for our alliance,” PMK spokesperson Vinoba Bhoopathy told IANS.

Bhoopathy said several other parties like Samathuva Makkal Katchi and others have extended support to the AIADMK alliance and they will also contribute good number of votes.

He said the AIADMK and others are seriously working to capture the Assembly and Lok Sabha seats.

“While campaigning, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami is focusing on the issues faced by people in each constituency and the government’s plans. He also touches upon the national security and how Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a strong person to lead the nation,” Bhoopathy remarked.

Both Thamaraiselvan and Bhoopathy said it will take some more time to judge the people’s mood.

“There is a likelihood of a BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government also influencing the voting pattern. Whether this election is issue-based or money-based is not known now. This time the elections in Tamil Nadu is extremely unpredictable,” Jhon Arokiasamy, a political strategist, told IANS.

Arokiasamy is of the view that the voters, instead of looking at issues raised by the parties or the poll symbols, may even compare and contrast the candidates and vote for one whom they think is better.

“People have lost faith in the causes raised by AIADMK and DMK as both have contributed to the emergence of the issues at one point or other,” Arokiasamy said.

“They repeat the same things in the manifestos. All things being the same, majority of the voters will look at ‘what is in it for me’ and cast vote to a party they perceive that would fulfil that promise. The election will be driven by materialism and money,” he concluded.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at [email protected])

Election

Scrap the amendments to poll rules, DMK urges Election Commission

Stalin said the amendment also includes senior citizens, persons with disability, and persons employed in essential services as absentee voters.

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MK Stalin

Chennai, July 13 : The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Monday urged the Election Commission to recommend to the Centre to scrap the amendments made to The Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2019 and The Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2020.

In a letter to the poll panel, DMK President M.K. Stalin also urged it to hold a consultative process with all political parties and relevant stakeholders across the country to find the best solution that can ensure the safety of citizens without compromising their statutory right to cast their vote independently.

Terming the amendments an attempt to bring an ocean of voters under the purview of a newly carved-out class of “absentee voters”, he said: “This exercise is done by the ECI without studying the ramifications of the move. The move will certainly destroy free and fair elections in the world”s largest democracy.”

Prior to the amendment of the rules, there were three classes of voters – service vote, special voters and voter on election duty and the old rules specified the persons who are entitled to vote by postal ballot.

“These voters are a definite class of persons who are identifiable and are less in number. The classification is reasonable and there are strong, valid and underlying reasons for providing with postal ballot in favour of these classes of persons,” Stalin said.

However, he said that the new amendments introduces a bunch of divergent groups of persons all rolled in to one group called “absentee voters”, all of whom would be entitled for postal ballot voting.

“These persons by no stretch of imagination can be called as a ”class of persons” to satisfy the mandate of Section 60(c) of RP Act (Representation of Peoples Act),” Stalin told the EC.

He also said the class of persons who are absentee voters could have been defined when the amendments was made instead of reserving it for a later date.

“This shows that there is a hidden agenda, to add class of persons from time to time, depending on the election schedule, and there is a total lack of transparency as to who all can be part of this ”class of persons”. The Rule therefore gives enormous power to notify the class of persons entitled for postal ballot by the Election Commission at a later date. Such a sub-delegation is illegal as it suffers from the vice of excessive delegation of powers,” the DMK leader said.

Stalin said the amendment also includes senior citizens, persons with disability, and persons employed in essential services as absentee voters.

“Here again the group of persons mentioned in the definition of absentee voters has no rational nexus with each other. The mischief which the amendment would cause is that any group of persons could be named as absentee voters without any rationale or without being a class by themselves which is contrary to the reasonable classification recognised by law,” he said.

According to Stalin, the amendment does not define a person with disability for postal vote. The reduction of the age to qualify as senior citizen from 80 to 65 to be eligible for postal voting is illegal, he added.

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Election

Joe Biden wins Louisiana primary

The state is not likely to be competitive in 2020, with President Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton by about 20 points in 2016.

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Joe Biden

Washington, July 12 : Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has won the primary in the state of Louisiana, a media report said.

The former Vice President won with 82.2 per cent of the vote, leading Senator Bernie Sanders, who received 5.3 per cent, with 1 per cent of precincts reporting, The Hill news website quoted the New York Times as saying on Saturday.

The win on Saturday comes as he continues to march toward his formal nomination at the Democratic convention in August.

The Louisiana primaries were delayed twice from their original April 4 date, first to June 20 and finally to Saturday, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Louisiana will award 54 pledged delegates.

The state is not likely to be competitive in 2020, with President Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton by about 20 points in 2016.

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Election

Like 2018, Kamal Nath starts MP poll campaign from Ujjain

Asked about the “Tiger zinda hai” comment from Scindia and Chouhan, Kamal Nath said the public will soon hand its verdict on who is a tiger or a cat or a mouse, as it knows everything.

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Kamal Nath INC

Ujjain/Badnawar/Bhopal, July 8 : Blowing the traditional conch before the war cry and whispering “earnest wishes” for public welfare in the ears of Lord Shiva’s vehicle Nandi, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath tried to reach out to devout Hindus as he on Tuesday launched the campaign for the mini-midterm elections involving 24 assembly seats.

In Badnawar, Kamal Nath, who is also the state Congress chief, visited the Baijnath Temple before addressing the first Loktantra Bachao rally.

Barbs and counter-barbs between the Congress and the BJP have gone on for quite some time in Madhya Pradesh. By picking on Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the BJP’s recent acquisition Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath seems to have focussed on voter’s sympathy for a “wronged party.”

The BJP’s quick reaction through virtual rallies intensified the battle. Leader after leader from the BJP kept blaming the Congress of spreading lies and indulging in corruption.

About the BJP’s allegations of corruption, Kamal Nath said his party would welcome a thorough investigations into the 15-month rule of his government. “We have the public as our witness. The farmers will decide if our government was true to the promise or not.”

Asked about the “Tiger zinda hai” comment from Scindia and Chouhan, Kamal Nath said the public will soon hand its verdict on who is a tiger or a cat or a mouse, as it knows everything. He said people of Madhya Pradesh are straightforward and sensible. They know who the betrayer is and where the state is headed under the new government which earned the power under a deal and is still haggling with the wheelers and dealers.

There are striking similarities between his present campaign and the one he led in 2018 to bring the Congress back into power after 15 years. Kamal Nath had started the campaign with a pooja at Ujjain. The key difference of course is the absence of Scindia, who blindsided him and his departure with a big chunk of the party caused the current campaign. Scindia was the campaign convenor then.

Though Kamal Nath and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh were the senior leaders in the party, Scindia was presented as the youth face to draw the electorate. Digvijaya Singh was asked to bring about a patch up between various factions. Kamal Nath was thus the key campaigner. He retains that status.

Kamal Nath who drew good crowds in 2018 under Chouhan’s rule has made a striking start with Ujjain Congress leaders responding in large numbers despite the lockdown curbs. The temple town responded with hundreds of billboards greeting him.

Kamal Nath also held a one-on-one discussion with prospective candidates to set the selection process rolling. The party plans to have 24 call centres, one in each constituency that will witness the by-elections. The party workers will receive voters’ feedback and inputs for the prospective candidates and the agenda will be set on local issues.

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