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UP bypolls: Opposition hopes for big upset on many seats

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Akhilesh Yadav

Lucknow: Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh are hoping for a big upset in the bypolls in 11 Assembly constituencies, the campaigning for which came to an end on Saturday.

Elections are scheduled to take place on October 21. Out of the 11 seats, 9 were with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Rampur and Jalalpur seats were with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) respectively. It is the Rampur seat which has become a prestige battle for the BJP and the SP as both are claiming to be ahead of each other.

SP has fielded Tanzeen Fatima, wife of Azam Khan, who is facing a barrage of court cases. Azam Khan had won the Lok Sabha election with a huge margin defeating BJP’s Jaya Prada. However, the Muslim votes, quite significant here, are expected to be divided this time, as the BSP and Congress have given tickets to Muslim candidates, increasing the chances of the BJP, whose candidate Bharat Bhushan Gupta is banking on Modi factor and current nationalist surge sweeping across the country.

Jalalpur seat which is considered the stranglehold of the BSP, is this time witnessing a tough fight as it has fielded 27-year-old Chhaya Verma, the daughter of Lalji Verma.

Munquad Ali, BSP state President told IANS, “the result will surprise everybody. We will create history this time by winning all the bypolls. We are getting the support of all sections of the society.”

Gangoh Assembly seat in Saharanpur is another tough battle for the BJP. The Congress has fielded Imran Masood’s brother while BJP has given ticket to a new face Keerat Singh. SP is also claiming victory here.

The Ghosi seat which fell vacant following the resignation of MLA Phagu Chauhan after he was appointed the Governor of Bihar is another tough battle for the BJP.

Political analyst Ratanmani said that the opposition parties did not take campaigning seriously in the by elections, yet there are many seats such as Iglas (SC), Jalalpur, Rampur, Ghosi and Gangoh, which can throw up big surprises on October 24, the day of counting.

Lal said, “local issues sometimes get upper hand over nationalistic feelings in by elections. The campaigning and the personality of candidates play a big role in victory and defeat. BJP is focussing more on nationalism and Pakistan instead of on local issues. The opposition can hope to win these seats as people don’t vote in by elections to form the government.”

The Assembly bypolls were necessitated after some MLAs won the Lok Sabha elections and resigned as members of the Assembly.

India

Congress slams Centre for disallowing MPs to visit Kashmir

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adhir ranjan chowdhury congress

New Delhi, Nov 18 : Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday launched a scathing attack on the Centre for denying permission to members of Parliament to visit Jammu and Kashmir and giving access to members of the European Union in the region, making Kashmir an “international issue”.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Chowdhury demanded the release of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to attend the winter session of the Parliament which will culminate on December 13.

Abdullah has been in detention in Kashmir since August 5 when the Central government abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state.

The Congress leader also demanded the release of senior party leader P. Chidambaram, who is currently in Tihar jail in INX Media case.

The treasury bench raised objection when Chowdhury used a derogatory term for members of the European Union to which Speaker Om Birla assured to examine and expunge the remark.

“Our leader Rahul Gandhi was not allowed to visit the Valley, but European leaders were given permission. Kashmir is an internal issue, but this government has made it an international issue,” Chowdhury said.

Terming Centre’s move an “atrocity” not to allow Abdullah to attend Lok Sabha proceedings, the Congress leader accused Union Home Minister Amit Shah of lying on the whereabouts of Abdullah in monsoon session of Parliament.

“Four important leaders – Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister and External Affairs Minister – are not present in the House. Home Minister Amit Shah had assured us in August that Abdullah was not in detention, but 108 days later he is still not here. What is the reason?”, he asked.

Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla interrupted, saying “when Home Minister Amit Shah had informed the House in the previous session that Abdullah was not under detention, he was correct. The written information of his detention was received later by the Lok Sabha secretariat.”

The Congress along with National Conference, Nationalist Congress Party, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Dravida Munetra Kazhgam had raised the issue to release Abdullah during the Question Hour and also trooped near Speaker’s podium, sloganeering “stop dividing the country”.

Chowdhury also raised the issue of withdrawal of Special Protection Group cover of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Gandhi family and reminded how late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee remained under SPG protection during UPA rule.

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India

NC to fight for release of Farooq Abdullah, says party MP

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Farooq Abdullah

Srinagar, Nov 18 : The National Conference (NC) will relentlessly work for the release of its party president Farooq Abdullah from detention so that he can participate in the ongoing Parliament session.

This was stated by National Conference MP from Anantnag and former Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Hasnain Masoodi in an interview to IANS.

Abdullah is one of the several politicians, including his son and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who have been detained since August 5 after the abrogation of Article 370 which conferred a special status on the former state.

Abdullah has been detained at his residence on Gupkar Road here, which has been declared as a sub jail.

“Dr Abdullah represents two million people of Srinagar, how can the people’s voice be choked,” Masoodi told IANS.

There was uproar in the Lok Sabha on Monday, the first day of the winter session of Parliament, as the Opposition demanded Abdullah’s release. The Congress said it was an atrocity not to allow Abdullah to attend Parliament.

“Members from the Congress, DMK and other parties joined our protest against the detention of Farooq Abdullah,” Hasnain Masoodi said.

The NC MP said the members requested the Speaker to intervene in the matter.

“We asked the Speaker that Abdullah’s preventive detention must be revoked by the government so that he can participate in the Parliament session,” he said.

Masoodi also said that the issue was raised during the all party meeting on Sunday.

Lending support to Masoodi in Parliament were several parties from the Opposition. The Central government has said that it is ready for a discussion on Jammu and Kashmir.

Last month, a National Conference delegation met Farooq Abdullah after some of the detained leaders from the party in Jammu were released.

Meanwhile, Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) MPs in the Rajya Sabha, Mir Fayaz and Nazir Ahmad Laway, also staged a protest in the Parliament premises.

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Election

Will win Jharkhand due to BJP’s ‘non-performance’: Congress

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New Delhi, Nov 17 : Congress’ Jharkhand Working President Sanjay Paswan claimed on Sunday that the Congress-JMM-RJD ‘Mahagathbandhan’ will come to power in the mineral-rich state as the people have now seen the BJP government failing to deliver on any front in the last five years.

Asked why being a national party the Congress is contesting on a lesser number of seats than a regional party like the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Paswan told IANS: “Congress has always believed in coalition dharma. Wherever we think we are strong, we are contesting. We share the same ideology.”

The JMM is contesting 43 seats in the 81-member Assembly, the Congress 31 and the Rashtriya Janata Dal the remaining seven.

“If they think we are afraid of the BJP, it is their misunderstanding. People of Jharkhand have seen them in the past five years. In fact, the BJP itself is afraid of losing and that is why elections are being held in five phases. Once they said they will remove ‘Naxalism’ (Maoism) from our state… When they claim it has been removed, then why are the elections being held in four-five phases,” Paswan asked.

At a time when the BJP has lost its coalition partner — Shiv Sena — in Maharashtra, the same is on the cards in Jharkhand where its long-term partner All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) has decided to contest against it on 19 seats.

Paswan, however, said the Mahagathbandhan will not go with the AJSU even if they break with the NDA.

“They (AJSU) are more or less the same. I feel after the results, they will again shake hands with them (BJP). We have seen them for last 19 years… We know about them,” he added.

When asked about the Mahagathbandhan’s roadmap if it wins the elections, Paswan said that it will focus on Jharkhand’s development.

“Firstly, we will provide employment to the youth of Jharkhand so that they don’t have to go away from the state. The present BJP-led government did nothing for the youth except for looting them. They have given all the mineral-rich lands to the industrialists who are getting benefits, while our youth are struggling for jobs.

“We will change whatever has happened. Every single person in Jharkhand will be happy when we take charge,” he said.

The five-stage polls in Jharkhand will begin on November 30 and end on December 20. Counting will take place on December 23.

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