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TRS rejects exit polls, says May 23 results will be different

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Telangana CM KC Rao

Hyderabad, May 19 (IANS) With most exit polls on Sunday predicting a comfortable victory for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) said they were not accurate and did not reflect the true picture.

The TRS, which is trying to bring together the regional parties under the Federal Front, believes the results on May 23 would be different and in line with its expectations.

TRS spokesman Abid Rasool Khan told IANS the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were very polarised and people had not come out openly to say which party they voted for.

“Small samples are taken to conduct exit polls and they don’t reflect true picture. The results on May 23 will be different and we are confident about it,” he said.

“These were highly polarised election. People were afraid to speak truth for fear of reprisals. They were keeping quiet and voting according to their thinking,” he said.

Most exit polls predicted about 300 seats for the BJP-led NDA.

Khan, however, was confident that the regional parties would do very well and form a non-BJP and non-Congress government.

He said once the results were declared, TRS President and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s idea of Federal Front would get crystalised. “The regional parties will come together for a greater say in the government and for the rights and due share of their respective states,” he said.

“In Telangana, the TRS was confident of winning 16 seats, while All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will retain Hyderabad,” Khan said.

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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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Bernie Sanders mulls ‘Make Billionaires Pay Act’, zones in on Bezos, Musk, Zuckerberg

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Bernie Sanders

New York, Aug 8 :J Three Senators, led by Bernie Sanders, have attracted global attention for introducing the “Make Billionaires Pay Act,” aiming to tax US tech’s top leaders tens of billions of dollars in wealth made during the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Make Billionaires Pay Act” would impose a one-time 60 per cent tax on wealth gains made by billionaires between March 18, 2020, and January 1, 2021.

Riding growing global despair about inequity, the Senators suggest that funds would be used to pay for out-of-pocket health-care expenses for all Americans for a year. Besides Sanders, the Senators are Ed Markey and Kirsten Gillibrand.

“Over and over again, we have been told that we cannot possibly afford to guarantee healthcare as a right by moving to a Medicare for All system – even on a temporary basis during the worst public health emergency in over a hundred years. Well, it turns out that is not quite accurate,” a post on Sanders’ Senate page argued.

“While a record-breaking 5.4 million Americans recently lost their health insurance, 467 billionaires in our country increased their wealth by an estimated $731.8 billion during the pandemic. Incredibly, as a result of the Trump tax giveaway to the rich, these billionaires currently pay a lower effective tax rate than teachers or truck drivers.”

Citing the Americans for Tax Fairness and Institute for Policy, Sanders said: “If we taxed 60 per cent of the windfall gains these billionaires made from March 18th until August 5th, we could raise $421.7 billion. That’s enough revenue to allow Medicare to pay all of the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for everyone in America over the next 12 months (based on an estimate from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget).

“Yes, that’s right. By taxing 60 per cent of the wealth gains made by just 467 billionaires during this horrific pandemic, we could guarantee healthcare as a right for an entire year. And billionaires would still be able to pocket more than $310.1 billion in wealth gains during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

Illustrative examples cited include Jeff Bezos, whose wealth has gone up by 63 per cent or $71.3 billion during the pandemic, paying a one-time wealth tax of $42.8 billion; Elon Musk, whose wealth has nearly tripled during the pandemic from $24.6 billion to $70.5 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $27.5 billion; Mark Zuckerberg, who is now worth $92.7 billion, up from $54.7 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $22.8 billion and the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America, which has seen their wealth grow by $21.5 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $12.9 billion.

“At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when so many of our people are hurting, it is time to fundamentally change our national priorities. Instead of more tax breaks for the rich while more Americans die because they cannot afford to go to a doctor, let us expand Medicare and save lives by demanding that billionaires pay their fair share of taxes.”

Aiming to distinguish the not-so-super-rich from their moves, those with net worth of less than $1 billion wouldn’t pay more in taxes. While Zuckerberg, Bezos and the Waltons haven’t yet reacted, Musk took the challenge head on, with a meme. “Everytime the Bernster mentions a free government program, chug somebody else’s beer”, the irrepressible billionaire tweeted back.

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Rahul Gandhi Says Bihar Seat Sharing Formula With Allies Set to be Finalized Soon

For the seat sharing formula, Congress state in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil will travel this week to Bihar to hold talks with all the stakeholders, Rahul told the party workers while addressing a virtual meeting.

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has held a meeting with party workers of Bihar through video conferencing where he told them that the situation due to Covid-19 is pathetic and unemployment is rising in the country. He said that the Congress should prepare for the elections in the state with “positivity”.

Rahul Gandhi in his speech said that a seat sharing formula with alliance partners will be finalized in 15 to 20 days and asked Congress leaders to respect the allies and their leaders, sources said.

For the seat sharing formula, Congress state in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil will travel this week to Bihar to hold talks with all the stakeholders, Rahul told the party workers.

Leader in the Bihar Assembly Sadanand Singh requested Rahul Gandhi to finalise the alliances soon so that they get time to prepare for the elections. Many Congress leaders including former Minister Shakiluzzaman Ansari raised the issue of outsiders being given party tickets and asked the leadership to give tickets only to dedicated party workers in the wake of the recent rebellions in many states, said sources.

The Congress is set to contest the Bihar assembly elections in alliance with the RJD and other non-NDA constituents.

Chief National Media Coordinator of the Congress, Sanjiv Singh said that over 1000 Congress workers participated in the virtual meeting.

He said, “Rahulji said that he will be present in Bihar as and when the state unit desires.”

But the Congress has a tough task ahead on seat adjustment with the RJD which had bulldozed the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when Kirti Azad had to contest from Dhanbad in Jharkhand and Shakil Ahmed fought as an Independent.

In the 2015 Assembly elections, the RJD, JDU and the Congress contested the polls together and won handsomely. But the JDU later went over to the BJP.

There are about 100 seats which were contested by the JDU which are yet to be distributed amongst the alliance partners and the Congress too wants a major chunk from the pie, but sources say that the party may settle for 70 seats.

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