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Rahul Gandhi kicks off Telangana poll campaign with attack on Modi, KCR

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Rahul Gandhi

Hyderabad, Oct 20: Congress President Rahul Gandhi kicked off his party’s election campaign in Telangana by targeting both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao by accusing them both of indulging in corruption.

Promising to build ‘new Telangana’, he addressed a massive public meeting at Bhainsa town in Adilabad district, where he told people that five years were wasted as Chief Minister Rao shattered the dreams of the new state.

Gandhi said it was only KCR’s family which “cornered” all the benefits. He said only Congress could build a Telangana which is free from corruption and farmers’ suicides.

On his first visit to Telangana after the announcement of the poll schedule, Gandhi was scheduled to address public meetings in Kamareddy and Hyderabad later in the day.

The Congress chief told the gathering at Bhaina that governments of both Modi and KCR were on their way out.

He also alleged that KCR insulted B.R. Ambedkar by changing the name of an irrigation project in the state to Kaleshwaram.

He claimed that KCR was resorting to corruption in irrigation projects by redesigning them to benefit his family and friends.

“This project was named after Ambedkar and was to be built at a cost of Rs 38,000 crore but KCR has revised the cost to Rs 1 lakh crore. Other irrigation projects were also redesigned to hike their cost,” he said.

He promised that if voted to power Congress would implement the legislation brought by the UPA government to protect the lands of farmers and tribals and return the lands which were forcibly acquired by the KCR government.

He claimed that the purpose of the legislation was to ensure that the lands of farmers were not acquired without their consent and if the lands are acquired with their consent they should be paid compensation which is four times the market value.

Gandhi said if voted to power Congress would waive all farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh and pay Rs 3,000 unemployment allowance to youth.

He alleged that KCR failed to fulfil his promises to provide one job in each family, three acres of land to every Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe family, two bed-room houses for poor and drinking water to every household.

Gandhi said like KCR, Modi had also made false promises including Rs 15 lakh in every bank account, two crore jobs every year and remunerative prices for farmers.

On Modi’s charge that Congress did nothing for the poor, Gandhi claimed that it was Congress which pulled out many families out of poverty by brining MNREGA and providing right to food.

Gandhi said Modi had promised that he would work as a “chowkidar” but he did not mention whose “chowkidari” he would do. He alleged that Modi was doing “chowkidari” of the likes of Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi, Lalit Modi and Anil Ambani.

He reiterated that Modi snatched Rafale contract from public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and gave it to Anil Ambani to benefit him to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore. “India’s chowkidar has stolen people’s money,” he said.

The Congress leader also alleged that Modi spreads hatred. “He pits people of one religion against another, one caste against the other and one region against another.

“He is weakening the country. Congress believes in uniting people irrespective of their religion, caste and region and that the difference between BJP and Congress,” he said.

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Mamata’s opposition rally not enough to elevate her as face of opposition – News Analysis

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Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata, Jan 22 : Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went all out to bring leaders of 23 opposition parties on one stage and launched a stinging attack against the Narendra Modi regime at her ‘United India Rally’, political analysts said it might not be enough to catapult her as the prime face of anti-BJP politics as her party lacks a national presence.

Terming Banerjee “a national leader in her own merit”, political analyst Udayan Bandyopadhyay said the January 19 mega rally might have added more significance to Banerjee’s continuous tirade against the BJP government. But it is too early to predict whether she can emerge as the face of the opposition, with her party’s geographical limitation also being a hindrance.

“At the moment the rally might have added significance to her efforts. But her Trinamool Congress does not have any presence outside West Bengal so practically the party can’t have a lot of impact on national politics. But it is true that the more Lok Sabha seats Trinamool gets, the easier it would become for them to bargain in the post-election scenario,” Bandyopadhyay told IANS.

“She was rail minister under two governments and also a long term MP. She is a national leader in her own merit. But it is too early to say that she would be the face of the opposition. The alliance would need more time to materialise,” he noted.

The analyst claimed most of the opposition leaders attended Banerjee’s rally to fulfil their personal agenda and said Banerjee has to give these personal agendas suitable political articulation to lead them.

“Most of the leaders have come together to protect their self-interests. They want to save their parties from getting marginalised. Leaders like (former prime minister H.D.) Deve Gowda and (Karnataka chief minister H.D.) Kumaraswami of the JD(S) came here so that their government in Karnataka can be saved,” he said.

“If she can give a political articulation to these self-interests, it can be of a different significance but the parties have not reached that point yet. That would be a post-election phenomenon,” said Bandopadhyay, a professor of Political Science in Bangabasi College.

Another political analyst, Anil Kumar Jana, claimed that Banerjee’s effort to lead an anti-BJP front may fail as most leaders have come to the alliance to put pressure on the BJP and might go the other way if they are helped out by the ruling regime.

“Except Mamata Banerjee and the DMK in Tamil Nadu, most of the other leaders are busy bargaining with the BJP to solve their own crisis. The alliance for them is a pressure tactics on the BJP. They are more interested in bargaining with the BJP than forming an opposition front. So the picture of the opposition alliance is still not clear,” Jana told IANS.

“It cannot be said that Mamata successfully projected herself as the face of opposition. The absence of (BSP Chief) Mayawati, who is another prime ministerial aspirant, is also significant in this regard,” he said.

“It is very much possible that the likes of Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party and H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal-Secular, might backtrack on their anti-BJP stand and even form an alliance with them if the BJP negotiates with them. Banerjee’s anti-BJP rally and her efforts will lose its significance at that point,” Jana said.

However, Banerjee’s party leadership was convinced that she is now the face of the anti-BJP opposition.

“This rally in terms of attendance, duration and number of leaders is a record. She not only provided a common platform to the anti-BJP forces, but her efforts were also roundly appreciated by the leaders present on the dais.

“It’s a big achievement. Not only our party, the entire country now holds her as the prime anti-BJP face,” Trinamool Secretary General and state minister Partha Chatterjee told IANS.

The Bengal BJP leadership, on the other hand, said the people would reject Banerjee.

“She brought all corrupt leaders on one stage. Her party is the pinnacle of corruption in Bengal. It is a meeting of the corrupt, who are talking about destabilising a stable and honest government led by Modi ji. People will not like it. They will reject her,” BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha said.

State CPI-M legislator Sujan Chakraborty claimed Banerjee’s “utopian dream” of becoming the Prime Minister would remain a dream as she has failed to convince the people about her credibility as an anti-BJP face due to her party’s “constant but secret understanding” with the saffron outfit.

(Milinda Ghosh Roy can be contacted at [email protected]))

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New Google policy to reveal political ad-spend in India

The updated election ads policy will require advertisers to provide a “pre-certificate” issued by the Election Commision of India (ECI) or anyone authorised by the ECI, for each ad they wish to run.

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New Delhi, Jan 22 : As India gears up for the Lok Sabha elections, Google on Tuesday announced an updated election ads policy that will provide comprehensive information about who is purchasing them on Google platforms and how much money is being spent.

The updated election ads policy will require advertisers to provide a “pre-certificate” issued by the Election Commision of India (ECI) or anyone authorised by the ECI, for each ad they wish to run.

Google will verify the identity of advertisers before their election ads run on its platforms, the company said in a statement.

“In 2019, over 850 million Indians are expected to cast their vote to elect the country’s next government. We’re thinking hard about elections and how we continue to support democratic processes in India and around the world,” said Chetan Krishnaswamy, Director-Public Policy, Google India.

“In line with this, we are bringing more transparency to election advertising online, and surfacing relevant information to help people better navigate the electoral process,” Krishnaswamy added.

The advertiser verification process will begin on February 14.

Google would introduce an India-specific “Political Advertising Transparency” report and searchable “Political Ads Library” in March.

“For the Lok Sabha Election 2019, Google will make electoral information from the ECI and other authoritative sources easily discoverable on Search,” the company said.

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Gopinath Munde’s Nephew seeks probe after Cyber expert’s Claim

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Dhananjay Munde

Mumbai, Jan 22: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Dhananjay Munde has sought a probe into the death of his uncle and former union minister Gopinath Munde after a US-based cyber expert claimed that the BJP leader was “murdered” as he was aware of hacking of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the 2014 general elections.

Dhananjay Munde told media ” This is a shocking revelation for us. The probe should be done again”.

Former Union Minister died in a road accident in New Delhi in 2014.

Yesterday, Dhananjay Munde, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, in a series of tweets said “A cyber expert has made a sensational claim that former Union Minister Late Gopinathrao Munde saheb was murdered. This claim needs immediate attention and investigation from RAW/Supreme Court, as it is directly linked to the death of mass leader”.

“Everybody who followed Munde saheb’s leadership and loved him had raised questions about his death. After today’s revelation, the doubt has been addressed. If the claim of EVM Hacking is true, then it also violate the norms of the biggest democracy of the world”, he wrote in another tweet.

Self-claimed cyber expert Syed Shuja on Monday stated the 2014 Lok Sabha polls were “rigged” and even claimed that BJP leader Gopinath Munde was “killed” because he was aware of Electronic Voting Machines hacking.

However, the Election Commission of India has refuted the revealations made by Shuja.

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