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Trinamool, AIADMK to retain power, upsets in Assam, Kerala

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Trinamool Congress AIADMK

New Delhi, May 19 : West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress and Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK were set to retain power on Thursday as the BJP was on the road to victory in Assam and the Left made a comeback in Kerala.

On expected lines, the Trinamool was sweeping all across West Bengal as officials counted the millions of votes polled in the staggered assembly elections. Its candidates led in 199 of the 289 places where trends were available two hours after the vote count began at 8 a.m.

The Left and the Congress were at a distant second spot, leading in 37 and 41 constituencies respectively. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was leading in 12 places. The West Bengal legislature has 294 members.

In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK proved exit polls wrong as it appeared on the course to retaining power. Its candidates led in 132 constituencies, with the DMK-Congress alliance in the lead in 69.

The PMK was ahead in four places. The Tamil Nadu assembly has 234 seats.

As an AIADMK win appeared certain, boisterous celebrations erupted outside the residence of party leader and Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa in Chennai.

Unlike in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the governments were set to change in Assam and Kerala.

The BJP was on the road to victory in Assam for the first time. Its alliance candidates led in 65 constituencies, followed by the Congress in 28 seats. The AIUDF led in 17 places.

Assam has a 126-member legislature.

As widely expected, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) was set to dethrone the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

LDF candidates led in 85 seats and those of the UDF in 53 as trends were available from all the 140 constituencies. The BJP was leading in one seat and a smaller party in another.

The DMK-Congress alliance and the All India N.R. Congress were in close contest in Puducherry, leading in 10 and nine constituencies respectively. The union territory has a 30-member assembly.

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‘Moon expects Trump to meet Kim Jong-un before Nov polls’

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south-korea moon

Seoul, July 1 : South Korean President Moon Jae-in believes that his US counterpart President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un need to meet again ahead of the American presidential election in November in order to reactivate the Korea peace process, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The South Korean presidential office has already conveyed Moon”s idea to the White House in their “close communication” especially following the North”s demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong last month, Yonhap News Agency quoted the official as saying.

“The US side understands (Moon”s position), and it”s making efforts (for that), as far as I know,” he told reporter.

In a virtual summit with EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday, Moon reaffirmed his resolve to strive “with patience” to maintain the momentum of dialogue involving the US and the two Koreas, the official added.

Moon stressed that the two Koreas should not revert from hard-won “progress and accomplishments” in their relations.

It remains unclear whether Trump and Kim will be able to hold another round of summit talks within the coming months, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun, Washington”s point man on Pyongyang, expressed doubt about the possibility.

“I think it”s probably unlikely between now and the US election,” Biegun told a forum, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic would make such an in-person summit more unlikely.

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ECI’s ‘tearing hurry’ to change rules due to Bihar poll: CPI-M

But now, with the Bihar election on the horizon, Yechury feels the “tearing hurry” in which the age bar was brought down was “unilateral”.

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Sitaram Yechury

New Delhi, June 30 : The CPI-M has shot off an angry letter to the Election Commission over the poll panel “altering” electoral procedures, which the party claims is being done without political consultations.

Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, in his letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, has said how he is “greatly disturbed” by the news.

“We are greatly disturbed by the media reports that the Election Commission of India, bypassing the established practice of consulting political parties, is unilaterally initiating measures to provide voters, aged over 64 years, the use of postal ballots,” he said.

The age limit for voters to can opt for postal ballot in Lok Sabha and assembly polls has been reduced to 65. Earlier, that age bar was 80. This decision was taken in view of the coronavirus outbreak as the Centre has repeatedly asked those above 65 to stay indoors since they are vulnerable to the disease.

But now, with the Bihar election on the horizon, Yechury feels the “tearing hurry” in which the age bar was brought down was “unilateral”.

“In the past, the ECI, despite the wide ranging and comprehensive powers under Article 324 for ”control and superintendence” of elections mandated by the Constitution, has always insisted that they will not exercise this power unilaterally. This had created an extremely healthy precedent of recognising the political parties, representing the people, as principal stakeholders,” he noted.

He said that the “current changes in the Rules, both in October 2019 and that on June 19, 2020 have not been preceded by any consultation with the political parties whatsoever”.

“From the media reports, we are constrained to infer that the tearing hurry that the ECI displays is on account of the impending Bihar Assembly elections scheduled to be held in November 2020,” he alleged.

Highlighting how the move may help the ruling BJP-JD-U alliance, Yechury wrote: “A consensus among political parties and ECI is necessary for introducing new voting practices which will adversely affect the verifiability of a large number of voters, thus, transparency and integrity of the process; not to mention, the leverage available to the incumbent administration in organising the postal ballots.”

The CPI-M demanded that the poll panel should not “unilaterally proceed further” in implementing these changes without “proper and transparent consultation” so that a “level playing field” is ensured.

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Congress leader files petition against Scindia’s Rajya Sabha Election

In September 2017 in the Vyapam scam, Shyamala Hills police had registered a case against Scindia, then in the Congress, as well as his then party colleagues Digvijaya Singh, and Kamal Nath, and IT expert Prashant Pandey on the orders of Bhopal Special Judge Suresh Singh.

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Jyotiraditya Scindia

Gwalior, June 28 : A pro-Digvijaya Singh Congress leader on Saturday filed a petition against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, alleging that the nomination papers filed for the recent Rajya Sabha election concealed a criminal case pending against him.

The petition was filed before Gwalior district court by Gopi Lal Bhartiya through his counsel Kuber Bouddh.

Judicial Magistrate first class Pawan Patel, however, asked the petitioner to move special court at Bhopal designated to hear cases against public representatives.

In September 2017 in the Vyapam scam, Shyamala Hills police had registered a case against Scindia, then in the Congress, as well as his then party colleagues Digvijaya Singh, and Kamal Nath, and IT expert Prashant Pandey on the orders of Bhopal Special Judge Suresh Singh.

They were all booked under various sections including production of fraudulent documents, but Scindia has not mentioned the case, said Bouddh.

The petitioners will now take the matter to a Bhopal court.

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