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Presidential Poll: Lawmakers can’t use own pens to vote



Rashtrapati Bhavan

New Delhi, July 16:  Parliamentarians cannot use their own pens and will have to mark their preferences in the Presidential poll on Monday with a specially-designed writing instrument.

Voting by using any other pen will be held invalid, the Election Commission said on Sunday.

The violet ink pen, procured from Mysore Paints that supplies indelible ink to mark voters’ fingers, carries a unique serial number and will be handed over to the voter before they enter the voting chambers in Parliament and state assemblies.

The move — a first by the Election Commission — comes in the wake of a row that erupted in the Rajya Sabha polls in Haryana last year.

Votes of 12 MLAs from the Congress and its allies were declared invalid in September 2016 because they had marked their preferences with a pen other than the one officially supplied by the poll staff.

The specially designed pens are being supplied “so as to ensure that only instrument supplied by the EC is used for marking the ballot”, a statement from the poll panel said.

“Before entering (a) voting chamber, one polling staff will collect personal pens, if any one is possessing, and will give (the) special pen to MPs and MLAs for marking ballot,” the statement said.

The special pen will have to be returned to the polling staff.

“Voting by using any other pen may lead to invalidation of the vote at the time of counting,” the statement said.

The poll panel has also prepared special posters for dos and donts so as to “ensure peaceful poll”. The instructions include maintenance of secrecy and non-issuance of whip.

A total 32 polling stations — one in Parliament House Room No 62 and rest one each in state legislative assemblies — have been set for the election that will see NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind pitted against opposition candidate Meira Kumar.

Ballot papers will be available in two colours – green for use of MPs and pink for MLAs.

A total of 776 MPs and 4,120 MLAs are eligible to vote on Monday. The ballot boxes will be brought to Delhi for counting on July 20.

The Election Commission has appointed 33 observers to conduct the election. Two observers will be in Parliament and one each in 31 legislative assemblies.

The panel has also permitted 14 Rajya Sabha members including Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien and Mukul Roy to vote in legislative assemblies.

Forty-one Lok Sabha members including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have been allowed to vote in their state assemblies.

Similarly, the panel has permitted five MLAs to exercise their vote in Parliament and four other MLAs to vote in other state legislative assemblies.



Rs 3.5 lakh crore needed for internal security in 2020-25: MHA



New Delhi, April (IANS) The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday said it had informed the 15th Finance Commission about its budgetary requirement of more than Rs 3.5 lakh crore for internal security and other responsibilities between 2020-25.

“The budgetary requirement is meant for internal security, Central Armed Police Forces, police modernisation, border security, disaster management and Union Territories,” a Ministry statement said.

A detailed memorandum will be submitted later to the panel, it said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with Finance Commission Chairman N.K. Singh on Thursday whereing the Ministry made a presentation to say that its responsibilities vis-a-vis diverse and varied internal security challenges have increased, even though ‘public order’ and ‘police’ are constitutional responsibilities of the states.

“The capabilities of the states alone are not adequate to meet the threats of insurgency and terrorism which have national and international links,” the Ministry added.

The MHA said it also faced other challenges like improving the sense of security among the public, making vulnerable sections like women and children safer, meeting cyberthreats and providing immediate relief and rehabilitation during natural disasters.

There is a steady improvement in the overall security situation in the hinterland, northeastern states and Left-Wing Extremism-affected areas due to concerted efforts of the Centre and the states but relentless efforts are needed to consolidate the gains, the MHA said.

The Finance Commission was briefed on various schemes being implemented by the MHA, which require continued capital expenditure, such as modernisation of police forces crime and criminal tracking network and systems, immigration, visa, foreigners registration and tracking, coastal security, border infrastructure, and integrated check posts.

Capital investment is also required to make appropriate use of new technologies for cybersecurity and border management, it said.


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Is operating ratio of Indian Railways the worst: Chidambaram



P Chidambaram

New Delhi, April 21: Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Saturday asked if the operating ratio of Indian Railways is the worst and added that if the ratio is close to 100 per cent or has exceeded it, that indicated a “comprehensive failure of management.”

He also asked if it was true that the accounts are being “dressed” to show an Operating Ratio just a little less than 100 per cent.

“What is the Operating Ratio of Indian Railways in 2017-18? Is it the worst ratio in recent years,” Chidambaram tweeted.

“Is it correct that the true Operating Ratio has exceeded 100 per cent? Is it correct that the accounts are being ‘dressed’ to show an Operating Ratio just a little less than 100 per cent,” he asked.

“If the Operating Ratio is close to 100 per cent or has exceeded 100 per cent, that indicates a comprehensive failure of management of the Indian Railways,” Chidambaram said.


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No parole for mafia don Abu Salem to get married



A file photo of gangster Abu Salem being taken to jail after a Mumbai court sentenced him life imprisonment in the Pradeep Jain murder case in 2015.

Mumbai, April 21: The Maharashtra government on Saturday rejected an application by incarcerated mafia don Abu Salem seeking 45 days parole for getting married, official sources said here.

Among the grounds cited by the authorities are that parole is not permitted for those accused or convicted of terror charges under the revised parole rules of the Maharashtra government in 2016, an official, who declined to be identified, told IANS.

Abu Salem, who is currently undergoing life imprisonment in Taloja Central Jail, Navi Mumbai, had applied in March to the Konkan Divisional Commissioner for parole for his second marriage with Sayed Bahar Kauser alias Heena.

The marriage was scheduled for May 5 in Mumbai and he had also provided the names and details of two of his cousins who were willing to stand guarantee for him.

He planned to stay temporarily at the Mumbai home of his prospective wife Heena during the parole duration.

In his application, Abu Salem cited how he was in jail continuously since the past more than 12 years without stepping out on parole/furlough even once.

In September 2017, Abu Salem – a close confidante of absconding mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar – was convicted and sentenced to a life sentence for his role in the March 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai which killed 257 and wounded over 700 others.


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