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Not Raghubar Das, Modi-Shah will lead Jharkhand campaign




New Delhi, Nov 14 : With the formal divorce between the AJSU and BJP in Jharkhand, the saffron party has its strategy ready: Don’t make Raghubar Das the party face; let PM Modi and Amit Shah take the lead and harp more on national issues than focus on achievements of the state government.

After November 13, the last day of nomination for Jharkhand, the split between the two warring allies in Jharkhand became official. Even the JD-U and LJP — two NDA constituents — decided to go solo. Hence, the BJP has decided to mount an aggressive campaign, confident of an advantage in a 3-way fight.

But the biggest roadblock for the party remains its chief ministerial face: Raghubar Das whose unpopularity even within the state BJP has reached the ears of both BJP working president J.P. Nadda and President Amit Shah.

Sources say a conscious decision has been taken to keep the BJP’s CM face not in the foreground. “We know there is disenchantment with him. But accepting that before election will be suicidal. He is our ‘Ram Chandra'”, joked a senior BJP leader.

But there are enough hints to suggest that, in spite of having a CM face, it’s the Prime Minister Narednra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah who will take the lead in Jharkhand campaign. When asked how many rallies the PM will address, a BJP leaders told IANS, “All I can say at this point is that from booth presidents to the Prime Minister, all will be active in the campaign”.

But sources say, the PM will hold more rallies in Jharkhand than he held in either Maharashtra or Haryana.

The BJP will make abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and development of the two Union territories as the main issues which may find frequent mention in Modis’ campaign speeches in the state, sources said.

A BJP insider said the party has evaluated that it is more likely to benefit in the eastern state from national muscular issues than by talking about local concerns. The abrogation of the contentious Article also found mention in Maharashtra and Haryana elections. But this time, both PM and Shah are likely to talk about J&K’s economic rejuvenation, growing apple trade and growing connect with the mainland, which may find emotional resonance in Jharkhand.

“Our findings say people of Jharkhand feel “connected” with the issue of abrogation of Article 370″, said a BJP general secretary requesting anonymity.

The other issue that Prime Minister Modi, Shah and top Central and state leaders would talk about will be how the BJP has been able to deliver a “stable government” in the state, said a BJP source.

Despite Jharkhand being the country’s hub for coal mining and minerals, the state’s governance in the past was held to ransom because of frequent political instability.

Till 2013, Jharkahnd saw eight governments and four chief ministers — Babulal Marandi (Nov 2000 to March 2003), Arjun Munda (2003/2005/2010), Shibu Soren (2005/2008/2009) and Madhu Koda (2006) from November 15, 2000 when it came to existence. Small parties and independents who would switch sides and bring down government hampered growth of one of India’s most mineral-rich states.

When PM Modi will deliver his speeches, he is likely to stress the contrast a BJP government has provided where it ran a full term without any glitches. It is the ‘stability vs instability’ card that both Modi and Shah are likely to play throughout their campaign, say sources.

However, many BJP leaders accept that winning Jharkhand would not be as easy as it was in 2014. But the party also knows that there is a growing young population inclined towards it and also a generation tired of witnessing governments falling easily. To exploit that advantage, the BJP is keen to put its most trusted man forward: Narendra Modi.


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.



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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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.




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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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.




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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