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Opposition seeks ban on EVMs for Maharashtra polls

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Mumbai, Aug 2 ) All Maharashtra Opposition parties on Friday unanimously demanded a ban on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and a return to the ballot paper voting for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections.

Addressing a joint press conference here top leaders of the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and other smaller parties alleged that there were many discrepancies in the EVMs in the last Lok Sabha elections which have raised serious doubts in the minds of the people.

In the interest of bringing in transparency to the peoples’ mandate, it was imperative to bring back the ballot paper system of voting, the leaders added.

However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is on a state-wide ‘Mahajanadesh Yatra’, hit out at the Opposition parties for their demand and asked them to “introspect” instead of attacking EVMs.

The Opposition parties also announced a massive peoples’ procession on August 21 in support of their demand to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat said the results of the last Lok Sabha elections were shocking and the anti-EVM agitation was to bring back honesty and transparency in the electoral process.

Former deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar said developed countries in the world had stopped using EVMs and returned to ballot paper voting, and so should India.

“Let the people decide whom to vote for and let them know whom they have actually voted for without having any doubt in their minds. But this is not so in the case of the EVMs. Even the common masses and the NGOs are making the same demands,” Pawar said.

MNS President Raj Thackeray said “US-made chips are used in the Indian EVMs” but even the US President has expressed reservations over the EVMs.

“On August 21, people will fill up forms opposing EVM, which will be submitted to the Maharashtra State Election Commission. We have appealed to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena to also join the anti-EVM movement in the interest of democracy,” Thackeray said.

Another NCP leader and ex-deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal said that the election process must remain “completely transparent, but to ensure this, return to ballot paper was imperative”.

“When advanced democracies like the US and Japan have discarded this technology, why must we stick to it? People have lost faith in EVMs, so it must be changed,” Bhujbal urged.

Swabhiman Shetkari Sanghatana President Raju Shetti said that a return to the ballot paper was imperative for bringing total transparency in the electoral process.

“We appeal to all village panchayats to pass a resolution on August 15 for banning EVMs and reintroducing the ballot paper system,” Shetti said.

Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader and retired Bombay High Court judge Justice B.G. Kolse-Patil said people have lost faith in the EVMs and “we shall boycott it in the elections”.

Others, including Brigadier (Rtd) Sudhir Sawant, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Prakash Reddy, Peasants and Workers Party Chief Jayant Patil, said ballot papers must be brought back to “save democracy”.

Lashing out at the demand, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Wardha said that it would be better if the Opposition parties introspect and accept their loss (in the polls) instead of blaming EVMs.

“Instead of launching agitations targeting EVMs, the Opposition must dwell on their performance, accept the realities, and go back to the people to get their sympathy,” Fadnavis said dismissively

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‘Moon expects Trump to meet Kim Jong-un before Nov polls’

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south-korea moon

Seoul, July 1 : South Korean President Moon Jae-in believes that his US counterpart President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un need to meet again ahead of the American presidential election in November in order to reactivate the Korea peace process, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The South Korean presidential office has already conveyed Moon”s idea to the White House in their “close communication” especially following the North”s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong last month, Yonhap News Agency quoted the official as saying.

“The US side understands (Moon”s position), and it”s making efforts (for that), as far as I know,” he told reporter.

In a virtual summit with EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday, Moon reaffirmed his resolve to strive “with patience” to maintain the momentum of dialogue involving the US and the two Koreas, the official added.

Moon stressed that the two Koreas should not revert from hard-won “progress and accomplishments” in their relations.

It remains unclear whether Trump and Kim will be able to hold another round of summit talks within the coming months, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun, Washington”s point man on Pyongyang, expressed doubt about the possibility.

“I think it”s probably unlikely between now and the US election,” Biegun told a forum, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic would make such an in-person summit more unlikely.

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ECI’s ‘tearing hurry’ to change rules due to Bihar poll: CPI-M

But now, with the Bihar election on the horizon, Yechury feels the “tearing hurry” in which the age bar was brought down was “unilateral”.

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Sitaram Yechury

New Delhi, June 30 : The CPI-M has shot off an angry letter to the Election Commission over the poll panel “altering” electoral procedures, which the party claims is being done without political consultations.

Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, in his letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, has said how he is “greatly disturbed” by the news.

“We are greatly disturbed by the media reports that the Election Commission of India, bypassing the established practice of consulting political parties, is unilaterally initiating measures to provide voters, aged over 64 years, the use of postal ballots,” he said.

The age limit for voters to can opt for postal ballot in Lok Sabha and assembly polls has been reduced to 65. Earlier, that age bar was 80. This decision was taken in view of the coronavirus outbreak as the Centre has repeatedly asked those above 65 to stay indoors since they are vulnerable to the disease.

But now, with the Bihar election on the horizon, Yechury feels the “tearing hurry” in which the age bar was brought down was “unilateral”.

“In the past, the ECI, despite the wide ranging and comprehensive powers under Article 324 for ”control and superintendence” of elections mandated by the Constitution, has always insisted that they will not exercise this power unilaterally. This had created an extremely healthy precedent of recognising the political parties, representing the people, as principal stakeholders,” he noted.

He said that the “current changes in the Rules, both in October 2019 and that on June 19, 2020 have not been preceded by any consultation with the political parties whatsoever”.

“From the media reports, we are constrained to infer that the tearing hurry that the ECI displays is on account of the impending Bihar Assembly elections scheduled to be held in November 2020,” he alleged.

Highlighting how the move may help the ruling BJP-JD-U alliance, Yechury wrote: “A consensus among political parties and ECI is necessary for introducing new voting practices which will adversely affect the verifiability of a large number of voters, thus, transparency and integrity of the process; not to mention, the leverage available to the incumbent administration in organising the postal ballots.”

The CPI-M demanded that the poll panel should not “unilaterally proceed further” in implementing these changes without “proper and transparent consultation” so that a “level playing field” is ensured.

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Congress leader files petition against Scindia’s Rajya Sabha Election

In September 2017 in the Vyapam scam, Shyamala Hills police had registered a case against Scindia, then in the Congress, as well as his then party colleagues Digvijaya Singh, and Kamal Nath, and IT expert Prashant Pandey on the orders of Bhopal Special Judge Suresh Singh.

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Jyotiraditya Scindia

Gwalior, June 28 : A pro-Digvijaya Singh Congress leader on Saturday filed a petition against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, alleging that the nomination papers filed for the recent Rajya Sabha election concealed a criminal case pending against him.

The petition was filed before Gwalior district court by Gopi Lal Bhartiya through his counsel Kuber Bouddh.

Judicial Magistrate first class Pawan Patel, however, asked the petitioner to move special court at Bhopal designated to hear cases against public representatives.

In September 2017 in the Vyapam scam, Shyamala Hills police had registered a case against Scindia, then in the Congress, as well as his then party colleagues Digvijaya Singh, and Kamal Nath, and IT expert Prashant Pandey on the orders of Bhopal Special Judge Suresh Singh.

They were all booked under various sections including production of fraudulent documents, but Scindia has not mentioned the case, said Bouddh.

The petitioners will now take the matter to a Bhopal court.

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