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Election

Rajya Sabha polls: Suspense over Karnataka outcome, Sibal’s fate

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kapil sibal

New Delhi, June 10 : All eyes will be on the voting on Saturday for biennial elections for 27 Rajya Sabha seats in seven states even as suspense remains on the fate of senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal and the outcome of polls in Karnataka, where charges of large-scale horse-trading have surfaced.

With 30 candidates from eight states already elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha, voting for the remaining 27 seats will take place on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.

Voting for 11 seats in Uttar Pradesh, four each in Rajasthan and Karnataka, three in Madhya Pradesh, two each in Haryana and Jharkhand and one in Uttarakhand will be on Saturday.

Amid charges and counter charges of horse trading, fierce contests are on the cards especially in Karnataka, where a sting by TV channels has indicated that parties have big stakes in the polls for the upper house.

In an effort to increase its own numerical strength in the Upper House, where the government lacks majority, the BJP has supported some independent candidates to ensure that the Congress is not able to win any extra seat. It has also fielded its candidates in some states to grab seats from others.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh seems to be more keen to give a strong fight to Congress nominee Kapil Sibal, who also has the support of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

“We will be indulging in strategic voting and will ensure defeat of Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party nominees,” said BJP spokesman in Uttar Pradesh, Vijay Bahadur Pathak.

The Congress, however, remained confident of winning the seat for former union minister Sibal from UP.

“We remain confident that both in Karnataka as well as in UP the Congress party will triumph,” party spokesman Manish Tewari said here.

Interestingly, the nomination of Preeti Mohapatra as independent candidate in Uttar Pradesh has been proposed by some BJP legislators making it clear that the saffron party does not want to give a cakewalk to Sibal.

In Uttar Pradesh 12 candidates are in the fray for the vacant 11 seats where the ruling Samajwadi Party has fielded seven candidates while the Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded two. The BJP and the Congress have fielded one candidate each.

With support of Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, SP is likely to easily win all the seven seats. The BSP’s two and BJP’s one candidate would also probably sail through easily.

In Karnataka, five nominees, including three from Congress and one each from the BJP and Janatal Dal-Secular (JD-S) are in the fray.

The candidates are Oscar Fernandes, Jairam Ramesh and K.C. Ramamurthy (all Congress), Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of BJP and B.M. Farooq of Janata Dal-Secular.

The contest in Karnataka is basically between Congress’s third nominee Ramamurthy and JD-S’ B.M. Farooq. While Ramamurthy will need 12 more votes, Farooq will need five more votes to win as his party has only 40 lawmakers in the house.

Polling for four Rajya Sabha seats in Rajasthan was necessitated as no candidate withdrew their nomination. Four BJP candidates and one Independent candidate, supported by opposition Congress have filed nominations for the four seats.

Nomination by former Union minister and business tycoon Kamal Morarka on the last day has added more flavour to the contest.

Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, BJP national vice president Om Prakash Mathur, former RBI official Ramkumar Verma and member of the erstwhile Dungarpur royal family Harsh Vardhan Singh are the BJP nominees.

In Haryana, where the BJP does not have adequate numbers to get two candidates elected, the party has nominated Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh as its candidate. With extra votes in hand, the BJP has supported media baron Subhash Chandra, who has filed nomination as an Independent candidate.

Senior lawyer R.K. Anand has also filed nomination in Haryana as an Independent candidate and is banking on support of Congress and opposition Indian National Lok Dal.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has nominated Anil Madhav Dave and M.J. Akbar as its two candidates for the three vacant seats.

With an eye to the third seat, BJP has fielded Vinod Gotiya, a state BJP office bearer, as an Independent candidate. This move of the BJP is seen as a ploy to thwart the election of Congress candidate Vivek Tankha, who is short of only one vote.

With eight votes short for Gotia’s victory, the BJP is aiming to garner support of BSP and Independent members.

In Jharkhand, where the BJP is assured of Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi being elected to the first seat, it has chosen its second nominee as Mahesh Poddar, an industrialist.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has fielded Basant Soren, son of its chief Shibu Soren. The Congress, which has not fielded any candidate has given support to Soren.

Two of the six Rajya Sabha seats in Jharkhand are getting vacant this time with BJP’s M.J. Akbar and Congress’s Dheeraj Sahu completing their respective terms.

In Uttarakhand, where the BJP’s move to dislodge the Harish Rawat government did not pay off, it has not nominated any candidate. However, its two leaders Gita Thakur and Anil Goel have filed nominations as Independents against Pradeep Tamta, the joint candidate of the Congress and PDF (Peoples Democratic Front).

Despite BJP’s efforts to win extra seats in these polls, the Congress will continue to remain the single-largest party in the 245-member House.

The biennial elections were necessitated as 55 members from 15 states are retiring between June and August. One seat each from Rajasthan and Karnataka have also been vacated — by Anand Sharma (Congress) and Vijay Mallya (Independent), respectively — and will also go for polls.

Thirty candidates from various political parties were already declared elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from their eight respective states in the absence of more contenders.

Election

Congress ropes in Prashant Kishor for Madhya Pradesh bypolls

By-elections are due in 24 seats following the demise of two MLAs and rebellion by 22 MLAs from the Congress.

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Prashant-Kishor

Gwalior, May 22 : The Congress has roped in political strategist Prashant Kishor to lend edge to its by-election campaign in Madhya Pradesh. The state will witness by-polls to 24 seats in the next four months due to the rebellion by former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia who bolted with 22 MLAs into the BJP.

The unprecedented situation has put doubts in the minds of both Congress and BJP supporters

It took the Kamal Nath-led government just 15 months to spill the power it earned through 15 years’ struggle. Prashant Kishor played a crucial role even during 2018 assembly elections to help the party return to power. The Congress is weighing the proposal from three advertising and image-building firms to take charge of its campaign.

First thing, the party plans to take the battle to the Scindia stronghold of Gwalior-Chambal region by setting up the war-room in Gwalior. This is to overcome logistic issues during the lockdown. Some former close associates of the Gwalior scion like Ramniwas Rawat and Anil Singh who have stayed back in the Congress will lead the charge. They believe Scindia’s desertion has not gone down well with his constituents and he is no longer invincible given his miserable failure to retain the Guna Lok Sabha seat in May 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Former Leader of Opposition, Ajay Singh, is likely to be fielded in Surkhi against Govind Singh Rajput whom Shivraj Singh Chouhan had included in the first lot of ministers.

Congress is also seriously considering pitting former MP Premchand Guddu against another minister Tulsi Silavat. Guddu has been an MLA in the past, from the Sanwer seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes. He had joined the BJP in the last elections, but claims to have left it in February while the party served a notice on him for anti-party activities.

Congress leaders are also persuading former MP Meenakshi Natarajan to contest the by-elections from Suwasra against her former supporter Hardeep Singh Dung, who left the Congress to join the BJP.

The Congress is also considering former minister Ramnivas Rawat, Ashok Singh or a Brahmin leader from Badnawar against Pradyuman Singh Tomar in Gwalior.

The Congress has made strategic organisational changes to take on the twin challenge of Scindia supporting ex-members of Congress as also the BJP rivals. It appointed 11 district Presidents on Wednesday. The party hopes to harness the anger among the people over the way the BJP has handled the recent Corona crisis and its aftermath among the workers.

By-elections are due in 24 seats following the demise of two MLAs and rebellion by 22 MLAs from the Congress.

Of these, 16 seats are Gwalior-Chambal division. These by-elections will decide the political future of the Chouhan government and Congress.

In Gwalior Rural, Congress has appointed Ashok Singh as district President. Ashok Singh, once an ardent supporter of Scindias, believes the royalty lost much of its influence by submitting before the BJP. The party has also appointed a new district President in Guna district, a stronghold of Scindia.

Chief Minister Chouhan has the unenviable task of balancing the aspirations of old BJP hands who will have to make sacrifices for the recent arrivals from the Congress. They would also have to seek support for the former adversaries.

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Election

Governor’s rule in Tripura autonomous tribal body

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Ramesh Bais

Agartala/Guwahati, May 18 : After the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam, Governor’s rule was imposed in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) on Monday as the polls have been postponed indefinitely due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of novel coronavirus, officials said.

Chief Executive Officer of the TTAADC Balin Debbarma said that G.K. Rao, former Tripura Chief Secretary and a retired IAS officer, has been appointed as the Administrator of the autonomous body. Tripura Governor Ramesh Bais appointed Rao, who of late was the member of the Tripura Police Accountability Commission, to run the politically important tribal autonomous body on his behalf.

The 30-member TTAADC, until Sunday, was governed by the opposition CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and its five-year term expired on May 17. An official of the TTAADC said that within the next six months, the elections to the council would have to be conducted as per the mandate of the Constitution.

Opposition CPI-M state Secretary Gautam Das and Tripura Pradesh Congress President Pijush Biswas separately asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government to conduct the elections of the TTAADC within the stipulated period. The politically important TTAADC, which was constituted under the sixth Schedule of the Constitution in June, 1985, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km are, home to over 12,16,000 people, mostly tribals.

In Assam, on the recommendations of the state government, the State Election Commission recently put off the 40-member BTC polls for an indefinite period. Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi, who is the constitutional head of the Sixth Schedule areas like that of BTC, had also earlier suggested postponement of the council polls.

Mukhi on April 27 appointed Rajesh Prasad, a 1995-batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, as the administrator of the BTC following the promulgation of Governor’s Rule.

The politically important BTC, which started functioning in December 2003, comprises four districts of western Assam — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri and is home to over 31,00,000 people, the majority of whom are tribals. Before the Governor’s rule in BTC, since 2003 it was governed by the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), a local party and an ally of the BJP-led Assam government.

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Election

Supreme Court’s relief for Gujarat minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, High Court order stayed

Supreme Court issues notice in the matter. Justice Shantanagoudar says that the Gujarat High Court order has to be stayed.

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Bhupendrasinh Chudasama

New Delhi: Supreme Court stays Gujarat High Court order which had nullified the election of BJP leader Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on the grounds of malpractice and manipulation.

Supreme Court issues notice in the matter. Justice Shantanagoudar says that the Gujarat High Court order has to be stayed.

Senior Lawyer Kapil Sibal, “When have your Lordships stayed matter’s like this which are based on corrupt practices?”

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