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Scrap the amendments to poll rules, DMK urges Election Commission

Stalin said the amendment also includes senior citizens, persons with disability, and persons employed in essential services as absentee voters.

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MK Stalin

Chennai, July 13 : The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Monday urged the Election Commission to recommend to the Centre to scrap the amendments made to The Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2019 and The Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules, 2020.

In a letter to the poll panel, DMK President M.K. Stalin also urged it to hold a consultative process with all political parties and relevant stakeholders across the country to find the best solution that can ensure the safety of citizens without compromising their statutory right to cast their vote independently.

Terming the amendments an attempt to bring an ocean of voters under the purview of a newly carved-out class of “absentee voters”, he said: “This exercise is done by the ECI without studying the ramifications of the move. The move will certainly destroy free and fair elections in the world”s largest democracy.”

Prior to the amendment of the rules, there were three classes of voters – service vote, special voters and voter on election duty and the old rules specified the persons who are entitled to vote by postal ballot.

“These voters are a definite class of persons who are identifiable and are less in number. The classification is reasonable and there are strong, valid and underlying reasons for providing with postal ballot in favour of these classes of persons,” Stalin said.

However, he said that the new amendments introduces a bunch of divergent groups of persons all rolled in to one group called “absentee voters”, all of whom would be entitled for postal ballot voting.

“These persons by no stretch of imagination can be called as a ”class of persons” to satisfy the mandate of Section 60(c) of RP Act (Representation of Peoples Act),” Stalin told the EC.

He also said the class of persons who are absentee voters could have been defined when the amendments was made instead of reserving it for a later date.

“This shows that there is a hidden agenda, to add class of persons from time to time, depending on the election schedule, and there is a total lack of transparency as to who all can be part of this ”class of persons”. The Rule therefore gives enormous power to notify the class of persons entitled for postal ballot by the Election Commission at a later date. Such a sub-delegation is illegal as it suffers from the vice of excessive delegation of powers,” the DMK leader said.

Stalin said the amendment also includes senior citizens, persons with disability, and persons employed in essential services as absentee voters.

“Here again the group of persons mentioned in the definition of absentee voters has no rational nexus with each other. The mischief which the amendment would cause is that any group of persons could be named as absentee voters without any rationale or without being a class by themselves which is contrary to the reasonable classification recognised by law,” he said.

According to Stalin, the amendment does not define a person with disability for postal vote. The reduction of the age to qualify as senior citizen from 80 to 65 to be eligible for postal voting is illegal, he added.

Election

Trump amplifies Kamala Harris ‘birther’ theory

For years, Mr Trump promoted a false “birther” theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the US.

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 Kamala Harris

President Donald Trump says he has heard Democratic running mate Kamala Harris “doesn’t qualify” to serve as US vice-president, amplifying a fringe legal theory critics decry as racist.

Ms Harris was born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in Oakland, California, on 20 October 1964.

But a constitutional law professor has questioned her eligibility.

For years, Mr Trump promoted a false “birther” theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the US.

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Election

Biden, Harris appear together for 1st time as running mates

Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant father and an Indian immigrant mother, later took to the podium saying she was “incredibly honored by this responsibility” of the vice presidency, and that she was “ready to work.”

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joe biden kamala harris

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 : U.S. presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden attended Wednesday a campaign event in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, together with Kamala Harris, his choice of Democratic vice presidential candidate, in what was the duo’s first public appearance as running mates.

Postponed for several hours due to power outage on site, the event, held in a basketball venue, finally saw the former vice president and the senator from California walk out side by side, both donning masks.

“I picked the right person to join me as the next vice president of the United States of America and that’s senator Kamala Harris,” Biden said, praising the first African as well as South Asian-American woman to be nominated for vice president in a major party as being “smart,” “tough,” “experienced,” and “a proven fighter for the backbone of this country – the middle class.”

Sitting next to the podium and keeping social distance with Biden as he spoke, Harris, however, took off the mask as she listened to Biden, who spoke without wearing the mask either.

Biden in his remarks pledged that a “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris administration will have a comprehensive plan to meet the challenge of Covid-19 and turn the corner on this pandemic,” adding that they will adhere to “masking, clear science-based guidance,” meanwhile “dramatically scaling up testing, getting states and local governments the resources they need to open the schools and businesses safely.”

Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant father and an Indian immigrant mother, later took to the podium saying she was “incredibly honored by this responsibility” of the vice presidency, and that she was “ready to work.”

She said she was “so mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me whose sacrifice, determination and resilience make my presence here today even possible.”

The California Democrat, who on Tuesday emerged from about 10 women finalists to become Biden’s vice presidential pick, bluntly blamed President Donald Trump for his “mismanagement” of the coronavirus, claiming that as a result of Trump’s failures, “our economy has taken one of the biggest hits out of all the major industrialized nations.”

Recalling how her parents met each other while protesting for civil rights in Oakland, California, in the 1960s, Harris said her mom and dad would bring her to protests as a little girl “strapped tightly in my stroller.”

Being someone who spent most of her political career as a prosecutor, Harris suggested that it was the family tradition that made her devote her life to “making real the words carved into the United State Supreme Court: Equal justice under law.”

While Biden said he and Harris “were in a battle for the soul of the nation,” Harris said the moment right now “is a moment of real consequence for America,” encouraging voters to “vote like never before because we need more than a victory on November 3rd.”

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Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new PM

According to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new parliament will convene on August 20.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa

Colombo, Aug 9: Leader of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party Mahinda Rajapaksa took oath as the nation’s new prime minister on Sunday after his party secured a landslide victory in the recently concluded parliamentary election.

Rajapaksa took oath during a grand ceremony at Kelaniya Temple, a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo in the presence of the diplomatic community and legislators from the ruling and opposition parties, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rajapaksa was sworn in as the prime minister of the country for the fourth time.

Rajapaksa’s party won 145 seats in the August 5 election which was held to elect new legislators in a 225-member parliament.

His new cabinet will take oath later this week.

According to the Elections Commission, the parliamentary election held last Wednesday was one of the most peaceful held in Sri Lankan history with a 71 per cent voter turnout.

The election was held under strict health guidelines due to COVID-19 pandemic which has infected over 2,800 people in the country.

According to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new parliament will convene on August 20.

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