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Rahul to campaign in Karnataka, CM confident of victory



New Delhi, Jan 13: Rahul Gandhi will launch the first leg of his election campaign in Karnataka from February 10-12, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday claiming that there was no anti-incumbency feeling against his government and the Congress will win a comfortable majority in the assembly polls due in a few months.

“He (Gandhi) will be addressing meetings and interacting with various groups of intellectuals, farmers, women and students during his visit to Karnataka,” state Congress chief G. Parameshwara said.

Gandhi decided on the campaign after meeting with party leaders from his state, including Siddaramaiah, state party unit president G. Parameshwara, working president Dinesh Gundu Rao, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, senior leaders Veerappa Moily, K.H. Muniappa, Oscar Fernandes and party in charge of Karnataka K.C. Venugopal.

“We, senior leaders including the KPCC President and General Secretary in charge and secretaries, are confident that the Congress party will come back to power on its own with a comfortable majority,” Siddaramaiah told reporters after the meeting here.

“Rahul Gandhi is very happy with the functioning of the government. He is very happy that our our government has no anti-incumbency. He is very happy to know that all promises made to the people in the (last election) manifesto have been fulfilled,” Siddaramaiah told reporters here.

The Chief Minister refused to apologize for his alleged attack on the BJP calling them terrorists. He also trashed the BJP campaign and its President Amit Shah’s description of his government as anti-Hindu, saying they had nothing to talk about “and are raising irrelevant issues”.

Asked about the BJP’s attack on him on Hindutva issues, Siddaramaiah said: “The BJP has no issues. They are raising irrelevant issues. (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister) Yogi Adityanath is also raising the same issue. Amit Shah is also raising the same issue. (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi may also raise the same issue because they have no issues there.”

To a question about his alleged attack on the BJP and its leaders as terrorists, he said: “I did not say terrorists. I have only said they spread hatred in the name of Hindutva. I said I am also a Hindu but a humane Hindu. Hindu dharma means humane Hindu and not hatred. That is Hindutva.”

Asked if he would apologise for his remarks as demanded by the BJP, he asked “why”.

Venugopal said the leaders gave an assurance that they would all work united for the success of the party in the Assembly elections.

The meeting came in the wake of a verbal duel between Siddaramaiah and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah. Karnataka is likely to witness election in April-May.

Siddaramaiah had called the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) “Hindutva extremists”, while Shah had termed his government in Karnataka “anti-Hindu”.

Gandhi had earlier warned his party leaders from making remarks which are unwarranted and personal.



Bihar polls: ‘BJP’s Covid-19 vaccine promise not a poll violation,’ says EC

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while releasing the party’s manifesto for the Bihar polls, announced that the Covid-19 vaccine is all but ready and will be provided for free to everyone in the state.




Nirmala Sitharaman

The Election Commission of India has said that the free Covid-19 promise made by the BJP in the run-up to the Bihar election is not a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

In its 28 October response to a representation from activist Saket Gokhale that sought action under the model code of conduct, the EC has cited three provisions from the MCC which include that the “state election manifestos should not contain anything repugnant to the Constitution; should avoid making promises that vitiate the purity of the electoral process or exert undue influence on the voter and trust of the voters should be sought only on promises that can be fulfilled”. HT has seen the communication.

Gokhale had alleged the promise was discriminatory and misleading as India’s vaccine policy had not been announced yet.

The EC letter adds that manifestos are always issued by particular parties for a particular election. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while releasing the party’s manifesto for the Bihar polls, announced that the Covid-19 vaccine is all but ready and will be provided for free to everyone in the state. Sitharaman’s declaration has caused immense outrage, with the opposition asking the Election Commission to take suo-moto cognizance of the matter since the polls are barely a week away.

“In view of the above, no violation of any of the provisions of Model Code of Conduct has been observed in the instant matter,” states the EC’s reply to Gokhale.

People familiar with the matter had earlier told Hindustan Times that there is precedent for the Commission to exclude what constitutes “welfare schemes”.

“There is a precedent to exclude welfare schemes,” said a person familiar with the matter.

The person added that a 2019 case against the Indian National Congress for announcing the NYAY Yojana, that promised a universal basic income of Rs 72,000 annually, the Commission had held that the manifesto promises “are not repugnant to the ideals and principles enshrined in the constitution and are not inconsistent with the letter and spirit of other provisions of the MCC”.

The Commission, in its order dated 5 May 2019, had further used the same three provisions to strike down the case. It had said that the “directive principles of the state policy enshrined in the constitution enjoin the state to frame various welfare measures for the citizens and the said scheme seems to be a welfare scheme which is not likely to vitiate the purity of the election process or exert undue influence on voters”.

“In view of the position mentioned above, there appears to be no violation of the MCC and said scheme does not fall under corrupt practices,” the Commission had said then.

Hindustan Times on 23 October had reported that experts believed a manifesto provides political parties the freedom to make announcements they can’t make as the government.

“The political parties have a right to make such promises,” former chief election commissioner VS Sampath had said. “Whether it is undue influence or not is for the voter to decide. One can’t take exception to parties making poll promises.”

Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami said that if a government in office makes such a declaration, it cannot be construed as undue influence, but not when a political party says it in its manifesto, it is kosher. “Manifesto allows you to say things you otherwise can’t say,” Gopalaswami said.

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Bihar Dy CM Sushil Modi continues campaigning despite being COVID positive, draws ire

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has landed in a controversy after it emerged he was involved in election campaigning despite testing COVID positive 9 days ago




Sushil Modi

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has landed in a controversy after it emerged he was involved in election campaigning despite testing COVID positive 9 days ago.

Modi was involved in road show in Danapur in favour of the BJP candidate on Friday evening and he is also campaigning in Peerpaiti, Bhagalpur, Bakhtiyarpur-Khusrupur and Fatuha in Patna district on Saturday.

Modi tested Covid positive on October 22 and was admitted in Patna AIIMS. As per COVID norms of health department any person found infected should undergo isolation for 14 days.

RJD leader and state spokesperson Chitranjan Gagan countered Sushil Kumar Modi and said: “Was he realy infected with coronavirus or he was admitted in hospital to gain sympathy of voters? BJP leaders are one by one infected with coronavirus.”

“As he claims that he was having coronavirus and hospitalised in Patna AIIMS. The doctors have asked him to under go home quarantine for 14 days. Why he is doing election campaign and spreading the virus to others? Who gives him freedom to roam in public and put others’ lives in danger?” Gagan said.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) went a step ahead and alleged that the BJP-led NDA government is responsible for “murder” of devotees of Durga and its leaders are spreading coronavirus to “kill” common people.

“This is bizarre to know that a person at a responsible post is involved in spreading coronavirus in public. Sushil Modi doesn’t care about common people. His irresponsible act is completely unacceptable. He himself declared that he had tested Corona positive. NCP urges the Election Commission to take cognisance in this matter and initiate immediate action against him,” said Sudip Pandey, Bhojpuri super star and NCP general secretary of Mumbai Mahanagar.

“He is a Deputy CM of Bihar and if he falls ill during campaign, he will get best medical facilities. But what about common people who may get infected after coming in contact with him? Everyone knows the kind of medical facilities available for common people,” Pandey said.

“During lockdown, the NDA government where he is holding Deputy CM’s post had refused migrant labouers to enter into the territories of Bihar. On that occasion, he along with other NDA leaders were apprehensive about COVID-19 virus spreading in Bihar if they would allow them to enter inside,” he alleged.

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UP CM Yogi stirs communal sentiment, issues warning on ‘Love Jihad’ in bypoll rally

The chief minister made the remarks while addressing a rally for the November 3 byelections for the Malhani assembly seat in Jaunpur and that of Deoria



yogi adityanath

Welcoming the Allahabad High Court ruling that declared the conversion for the sole purpose of marriage as null and void, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday said his government would deal with love jihad with a firm hand.

If the people do not stop playing with honours of daughters and sisters by concealing their identities, “the Ram Naam Satya journey will start”, said the chief minister in a stern warning.

The Allahabad High Court had on Friday said the conversion should not be resorted to solely for the marriage and it should not be given validity, said Adityanath, adding his government is also taking a decision to check love jihad sternly .

The chief minister made the remarks while addressing a rally for the November 3 byelections for the Malhani assembly seat in Jaunpur and that of Deoria.

We will bring an effective law. It is my warning to those who play with the honour and dignity of sisters and daughters by hiding their real names and identities, if they do not mend their ways, the Ram Naam Satya journey will start, said Adityanath.

“The posters of those involved in love jehad will be put on all road crossings,” he said

Referring to the Mission Shakti programme of his government, the chief minister said the programme is meant to ensure the safety, security and honour of women, but if anyone still dares to indulge in any misadventure, the Operation Shakti is underway.

The court’s verdict will be followed and the honour and dignity of women will be ensured, he declared.

In Deoria, he said, an attempt was made to illegally grab the ashram of renowned saint Devraha Baba following which he was forced to shift to Vrindavan.

This has prompted the BJP government to start building a hospital there in his name, he said, adding the academic work too will start there from the next session and the people of the area will also get expert medical treatment.

Claiming that the rule of mafia and goonda elements has come to an end in the state, the chief minister said the Samajwadi Party chief is today worried because he had sympathy for such elements but the government has launched a drive against them.

Attacking the Congress, SP and Bahujan Samaj Party, the chief minister said their governments had worked on the basis of caste while the BJP government is working for all sections of the society with complete sincerity, honesty and devotion.

The chief minister said seeing the massive support to his party, the Samajwadi Party, out of desperation, is conspiring to instigate riots in the state where no such incident has taken place for the past three and half years nor would it be allowed at any cost.

Asserting that the government jobs are no longer up for sale in Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister said in three and half years during his governance, over 3.50 lakh youths have got government jobs.

Those who try to sell jobs are now promptly sent to jail, he added.

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