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Tejashwi Yadav+ Says Won 119 Seats, Alleges Pressure On Poll Body

The results of the Bihar election – the first major polling exercise amid the Covid pandemic – are still unclear, more than 12 hours after counting began this morning

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Manoj Jha

Patna: The RJD of opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav has accused Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy, Sushil Kumar Modi, of conspiring to put pressure on district and election officials to ensure verdicts in closely-contested seats are declared in favour of the ruling JDU-BJP alliance.

In a tweet posted late on Tuesday night – as the counting of votes crossed the 12-hour mark – the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) attached screenshots of a list of 119 Assembly constituencies the party claimed had been won by either itself or one of its allies. The tweet said that Returning Officers (RO) had initially congratulated these candidates on their “win” but later said they had lost.

The officials also refused to hand over election certificates – issued by each constituency to confirm a candidate’s victory in that electoral race, the RJD added.

“The Returning Officer congratulated them (the candidates) for their victory, but now they are not giving them the certificates and have said they have lost. These same candidates were shown as winning on the Election Commission website,” the RJD tweet read.

“Such looting will not work in a democracy,” the party added.

Less than an hour earlier the opposition party accused the JDU-BJP alliance of delaying counting and not handing over certificates to winning candidates in at least 10 seats.

“The Nitish Kumar administration is delaying counting in 10 seats. Candidates who won have not been given certificates. Sitting in the Chief Minister’s house, Nitish Kumar and Sushil Kumar are making the Chief Secretary exert pressure on officials for seats with close margins,” the party said.

The Congress has also made a similar allegation, with spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeting that the party’s candidate from the Rajapakar seat (Pratima Kumari) had been told she had won her race by 1,720 votes but officials later refused to give Ms Kumari a certificate.

“This is neither the practice of democracy nor legally correct. Where is the Election Commission?” Mr Surjewala asked in his tweet.

According to information from the Election Commission’s website at 9.45 PM, Ms Kumar is leading in her seat; she is 2,462 seats ahead of her BJP rival.

The RJD had earlier advised patience as the counting process is dragged out.

“We want to tell our leaders and candidates that they should leave only with the victory certificate in their hands,” Manoj Jha, a senior party leader, had said. Mr Jha later said the RJD would appeal to the Election Commission.

According to provisional data from the poll body at 8.30 PM, the lead margin in around 100 seats is less than 5,000 votes. The results of the election – the first major polling exercise to be held amid the Covid pandemic – are still unclear, more than 12 hours after counting began this morning.

The RJD, which is leading an opposition alliance that includes the Congress and some Left parties, was widely predicted as winning this election, according to several exit polls.

The mahagathbandhan began the day well, surging into an early lead. The BJP-led NDA, however, has fought back since then and is now marginally ahead in leads.

At 9.45 PM the NDA was ahead in 122 seats and the opposition in 114, with smaller parties leading in the remaining seven. The 243-member Bihar Assembly has a majority mark of 122.

The Election Commission said results have been delayed because of Covid restrictions but results were likely to be released late night.

The next update from the Election Commission is expected at 10 PM.

Election

Congress forms 5-party Mahagathbandhan to take on BJP in Assam

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

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BJP and Congress Flag Poster

Guwahati, Jan 20: The opposition Congress on Tuesday announced a five-party ‘Mahagathbandhan’ to take on the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam in the upcoming Assembly elections expected to be held in April-May.

Announcing the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), Assam Congress President Ripun Bora said that his party would contest the elections in alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the three Left parties – Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – and the Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

He said that regional parties are welcome to join the Mahagathbandhan to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party from power in the state.

“The Congress is always keen to oust all communal forces for the best interest of the country. People are ready to vote out the BJP as its misgovernance caused a lot of distress to the people, who have become fed up with the BJP,” he said.

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

AGM President Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, also a Rajya Sabha member, termed the formation of the grand alliance as a historic moment. He sounded optimistic that the grand alliance would defeat the BJP in the forthcoming elections.

Besides the AIUDF, a Muslim-dominated party in Assam, and the Left parties, state Congress leaders had held several meetings in the past few months with the ‘like minded parties’.

AIUDF President and Lok Sabha member Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has been stating that the two parties (Congress and AIUDF) have decided to contest the Assembly polls together since their tie-up for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls held last month.

Recently, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi had appointed three central leaders — Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh Chief Minister), Mukul Wasnik (AICC General Secretary) and Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Bihar MLA) — to oversee the election campaign in Assam in close coordination with the AICC general secretaries and the party in-charge for the state.

Baghel and other central leaders held meetings with the state party leaders in Guwahati before Assam Congress chief announced the Mahagathbandhan.

The Congress had suffered a setback in the recent elections to the BTC and the Tiwa Autonomous Council. Two of its MLAs – Ajanta Neog and Rajdeep Goala – had joined the BJP last month, delivering another blow to the party.

In the 2016 Assam assembly elections, the Congress had contested on its own without an electoral alliance with any party, securing 24 seats.

After the last Assembly polls, the BJP formed the government in Assam for the first time after winning 60 seats following the formation of an alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which won 14 and 12 seats, respectively. The ruling alliance also has the support of an Independent MLA.

The 126-member Assam Assembly is likely to go to the polls in April-May along with West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

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Election

Sonia forms 10-member election panel for Kerala chaired by Chandy

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi, Jan 20: Eyeing the assembly polls in Kerala, the Congress on Tuesday announced a 10-member Election Management and Strategy Committee under the leadership of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as its chairperson along with senior party members like Shashi Tharoor and K. C. Venugopal.

Venugopal, who is the party’s General Secretary (Organisations) in a statement said that party chief Sonia Gandhi has approved the appointment of Election Management and Strategy Committee of Kerala Congress for the upcoming assembly elections with immediate effect.

He further said that the Committee shall meet frequently to discuss matters related to electioneering, co-ordination and formulation of election strategies.

Besides Chandy, Tharoor and Venugopal, the party has also named Mullapallay Ramachandran, Ramesh Chennithala, Tariq Anwar, K. Muraleedharan, V.M. Sudheeran, K. Sudhakaran and Kodikkunnil Suresh as the panel members.

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Election

Bengal: Left, Congress leaders hold talks; to finalise candidates by Jan end

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Congress

Kolkata, Jan 18: Top leaders of the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress conducted a meeting here on Sunday to discuss the seat-sharing and other election-related strategies, leaders of both the parties said, adding that their candidates would be finalised by the end of this month.

However, both the Congress and Left leaders said that they would hold more such meetings this month to finalise the candidates’ list for the upcoming Assembly elections, expected to be held in April-May.

Both the party leaders would meet again on January 25 and 28 to settle the seat-sharing issue and other poll-related preparedness.

In 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, the two parties had forged an alliance and won 76 seats in the 294-member Assembly.

Post meeting, Left Front Chairman and CPI-M politburo member Biman Bose said that their discussion with the Congress was cordial and fruitful.

“To defeat the communal force BJP and the fascist TMC (Trinamool Congress), the Congress-Left parties’ alliance is must. The alliance would definitely thrash the binary rule in Bengal,” the veteran Left leader told the media.

Bose said that leaders and workers of Left parties and Congress should fight against the BJP and the TMC with shoulder to shoulder.

Party sources said that the Congress wanted to contest in 130 seats but the Left leaders did not concede the demand.

Bengal Congress chief and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury said that the seat sharing with the Left parties would not be completed in a single meeting, however, the seat sharing process would be concluded within this month.

CPI-M state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, Congress leaders Abdul Mannan and Pradip Bhattacharjee were present at the meeting.The Left and Congress parties are likely to hold a mega joint rally in Kolkata soon to kick start their election campaign.

The all important elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly are likely to be held in April-May along with Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.In the 2016 West Bengal polls,

Trinamool had retained its majority and won 211 seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party won three seats.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Left and Congress had fought separately with the Congress won two seats, the Left Front dominated by the CPI-M, which ruled Bengal for 34 years (1977-2011), drew a blank.

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