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West Bengal Panchayat Election: Overall 56% polling recorded till 3 pm

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Kolkata, May 14: Voting for electing 38,616 representatives across three tiers to West Bengal Panchayat (rural) bodies started at 7 a.m. on Monday.

Reports of clashes and booth capturing were reported from pockets of South 24 Parganas, Durgapur, West Midnapore and Cooch Behar districts.

At least 20 people were injured in Cooch Behar district while another 20 have been reported to sustain injuries after a crude bomb exploded in Amdanga’s Sadhanpur in North 24 Parganas.

Meanwhile, At least six people were killed during polling as violence and clashes between supporters of different parties.

“We have, so far, received telephonic complaints of six deaths. We are awaiting written confirmation,” news agency IANS quoted State Election Commission Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya, as saying.

A youth was beaten to death as he tried to enter polling premises in Nadia district while a Trinamool Congress activist was shot dead in South 24 Parganas district’s Kultali, police said.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist claimed one of their activists was killed in North 24 Parganas district bombing.

Two deaths were reported from Murshidabad district, and another from Nadia.

“Three youths were beaten up by locals in Nadia district’s Shantipur area on Monday morning. Police rescued and got them admitted to a local hospital. One of them, Sanjit Pramanik, succumbed to his injuries,” Nadia district Superintendent of Police Santosh Pandey told IANS.

“TMC worker Arif Ali Gazi was shot in the chest while coming out of a polling booth. He died in a hospital,” an officer from Kultali police station said.

Though CPI-M’s North 24 Parganas leaders claimed their party activist lost his life in Amdanga after he was attacked with crude bombs, there was no police confirmation.

“We have heard of the incident but it is not confirmed yet. We are going to the spot,” an officer from Amdanga police station told news IANS.

Long queues were seen outside several booths as people from all social and economic backgrounds patiently waited for their turn to showcase democratic right.

The election is being held after weeks of bitter legal battles and is the last major poll in the state ahead of upcoming general elections 2019.

According to the Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of rural local bodies, 20,076 seats or 34.2 percent have already been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats, IANS reported.

These seats include 16,814 of the total 48,650 panchayats, 3,059 of the total 9,217 panchayat samitis and 203 of the total 825 zila parishads.

The Supreme Court has now asked the state poll panel not to issue winning certificates in case of the uncontested seats.

Updates : 

 

Around 41.51% turnout was recorded till 1 pm

26.28% voter turnout recorded till 11 am

A clash broke out between BJP and CPI(M) workers in Durgapur

According to ANI, a TMC worker named Arif Gazi shot dead in Kultali area of South 24 Parganas district.

While, five local journalists injured after violence, following booth capturing incident in Birpara.

Ballot papers were thrown in a pond after clashes 

BJP Candidate attacked with a knife

A 102-year-old woman casts her vote in Dantan

Visuals from a polling booth in Cooch Behar

Voters standing in a queue outside polling booth in Purulia’s Chakra

Visuals from Jalpaiguri’s Ashighar

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Election

‘Social media platforms will be held liable for failure to counter misuse’: CEC Sunil Arora

The Commission has also asked political parties and candidates to sensitise their representative not to indulge in ‘malpractices, malicious propaganda and instances of hate speech’.

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Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Friday said that social media platforms will be held responsible if they fail to make adequate arrangements to counter misuse and don’t take prompt action against adverse posts ahead of the Bihar assembly elections.

“Adverse use of social media platforms has emerged as a new challenge in recent times,” Arora said. “If adequate arrangements aren’t made to counter the misuse of the social media then they will not be allowed to take pretext of being only a provider and shall be held responsible if necessary action is not taken promptly and adequately.”

The Commission has also asked political parties and candidates to sensitise their representative not to indulge in ‘malpractices, malicious propaganda and instances of hate speech’, as such actions will be dealt with ‘sternly’ and ‘harshly’.

“The commission would like to make it emphatically clear that anyone who misuses any such platform, such as for fomenting communal tensions, etc for electoral purposes, shall have to face consequences under the law of the land,” Arora said.

Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Commission and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp along with IAMAI had signed a voluntary code of ethics. According to the code, while the participants ‘recognise they are neither the author nor the publisher of such content’, they are ‘committed to helping support democratic processes by improving the integrity and transparency of electoral processes’.

Hindustan Times reached out to Facebook and Whatsapp for a comment but did not receive one until press time. Twitter declined to comment.

Arora’s statement also comes in the wake of the Wall Street Journal reports in August which alleged Facebook had selectively exercised its hate-speech policy to favour the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, wrote to CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that the platform allowed people to make posts against prime minister Narendra Modi, with BJP alleging that there was nexus between the Congress and Facebook.

According to Twitter’s recently updated civic integrity policy, a person may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes. This includes posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process. It, however, makes no mention of propaganda, hate speech and malicious content.

According to people familiar with the matter, the Commission draws its reservoir of power from Article 324 of the constitution. “Elections are conducted under Constitution and the Supreme Court in its judgment has held on a number of occasions that Article 324 gives vast powers to the Commission subject of certain restrictions such as fairness and transparency,” said such a person on the condition of anonymity. The person added that the EC would decide what course to take on a case-to-case basis.

Article 324 allows the Election Commission the “superintendence, direction and control of elections”. The EC had invoked this provision in West Bengal in May last year, curtailing campaigning in the state ahead of Parliamentary elections after clashes between cadres of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Kolkata.

Experts, however, say the ECI’s powers to regulate the social media platforms are limited.

“Their authority to regulate platforms is not clearly provided,” global cybersecurity lead and Asia Pacific policy director at Access Now Raman Jit Singh Chima said. “They are stretching authority they have to regulate electronic media and threatening companies by proposing to further regulate or prosecute them.”

“It’s commendable that the CEC is speaking about this, however, the ECI has failed to advance any reforms to protect electoral democracy in the digital age in India. Prior to the 2019 general elections, many groups working on electoral reforms, democracy and fundamental rights issues wrote to the ECI and went public with their suggestion on how the ECI can take steps in this area. They also recommended they engage all stakeholders on this important issue and should not only consult political parties in Delhi, web companies and their industry lobby group. This has not yet occurred, which is deeply disturbing,” he added.

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Bihar Polls: Grand Alliance to decide on CM face after talks with allies, says Congress

The Congress, RJD, RLSP, VIP and Left parties are set to challenge the NDA in Bihar if things go on track.

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Shaktisinh Gohil

New Delhi, Sep 25 : After the Election Commission announced dates for the three-phase elections in Bihar, the Congress has claimed that talks with allies are on the right track on the seat-sharing deal which has not yet finalised.

Congress Bihar in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil said,”There is no harm in any party propagating its leader’s name for Chief Minister but we will sit and decide on the issue that which way we will go with CM face or no face.”

The comments come after the RJD pushing Tejashwi Yadav as the CM face ahead of elections which is not going well with the allies, specially the RLSP.

Alliance partner RLSP is upset over the delay in the seat-sharing agreement and has conveyed it to the Congress leadership. Gohil said that there is no problem within the alliance and everything is going on smoothly.

But the RLSP, in its resolution on Thursday, said that there are differences over the leadership in the alliance and the delay in seat sharing is not good for the health of the alliance.

The party has authorised Upendra Kushwaha to take decisions on the alliance.

But sources say that there are major hiccups within the alliance as the RJD is claiming all the seats which could be won by the alliance leaving seats which are tough-to-win for its partners.

The RJD is keen to contest 145 out of the 243 seats leaving the burden on the Congress to adjust the RLSP, Left parties,JMMA and other smaller parties.

The Congress is likely to contest 70 seats and the RLSP is claiming more than 40 seats. But the bone of contention is not the number of seats but the quality of seats which are considered a stronghold of the alliance.

The fate of the alliance depends on how fast the final agreement is reached on both the issues since HAM leader Jitan Ram Manjhi has already joined the NDA citing differences.

The Congress, RJD, RLSP, VIP and Left parties are set to challenge the NDA in Bihar if things go on track.

Elections for the 243 Assembly seats in Bihar will take place in three phases between October 28 and November 7. The counting of votes will be on November 10, the Election Commission said on Friday.

The term of the Bihar Assembly comes to an end on November 29. According to the poll panel, there are 7.29 crore voters in the state, including 3.85 crore male and 3.4 crore female voters and 1.6 lakh service voters.

In the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) emerged as the largest party by winning 80 seats while the ruling Janata Dal-United won 71 seats, the Congress 27. The BJP managed to win 53 seats, followed by two seats by the LJP and one seat by Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular, even as other candidates emerged victorious on 10 seats.

The BJP, despite winning only 53 seats, got the maximum percentage of vote share with 24 per cent, followed by the RJD with 18 per cent and JD-U 17 per cent. The Congress managed to get seven per cent vote share and the LJP around 4.8 per cent.

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Longer polling time, online nominations: How COVID is affecting Bihar polls!

The term of the Bihar Assembly ends on November 29. According to the poll panel, there are 7.29 crore voters in the state, including 3.85 crore male and 3.4 crore female voters and 1.6 lakh service voters.

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bihar election

New Delhi, Sep 25 : In what will be India’s first full fledged election ever since the deadly COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, polling for the 243 Assembly seats in Bihar will take place in 3 phases between October 28 and November 7 this year. The Election Commission of India made the announcement in Delhi on Friday, adding that the votes will be counted on November 10.

But given this is a COVID-era election, polling time has been increased by one hour. “Now the polling time will be between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.” the EC said. This, the poll body believes, will help avoid queues. But it will not be applicable to the Left-Wing affected areas.

While the election could have been held in more phases, this was avoided considering the pandmeic and its possible effect on the security forces on duty. “Elections entail large scale deployment of security forces. We have tried to minimise their movement over long distances,” Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said.

The CEC also announced a number of new measures in view of the pandemic. Arora said, “Now nominations can be done online and offline also. And quarantined patients can vote at the end.”

Also, keeping the containment guidelines in view, the Commission has limited the number of persons, including candidates for door to door campaigning to five. Public meetings and road shows will be allowed subject to containment instructions issued by the Union Home Ministry/State.

“Face masks, sanitizer, thermal scanners, gloves, face shield and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process ensuring social distancing norms. Hand gloves shall be provided to all the electors for signing on the voter registers and pressing buttons of EVM for voting,” it said.

“Covid-19 patients, who are quarantined will be able to cast their vote in the last hour of polling, at their respective polling stations, under the supervision of health authorities. This is beside the option of postal facility already extended to them,” the poll panel said.

The CEC said the poll panel has also revised norms for the number of persons accompanying the candidate and the number of vehicles at the time of nomination. “It has also created an optional facility to fill the nomination form and the affidavit online and submission of the same, after taking a print, before the Returning Officer concerned. For the first time, the candidates will have the option to deposit the security amount for contesting the elections online,” the poll panel said.

India has reported 86,052 new Covid-19 cases and 1,141 deaths in the last 24 hours taking its tally to 58,18,570, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Friday morning. This is why so many precautions are being taken for the Bihar election.

“The Bihar elections will be held in three phases. Elections for the 1st phase will take place on October 28 on 71 Assembly constituencies, elections for 2nd phase on 94 seats will take place on November 3 and 3rd phase poll on 78 Assembly seats on November 7,” the CEC announced.

With this the model code of conduct has also come into play.

The last date of nomination for phase 1 will be October 8 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature is October 12. For phase 2, the last date of nomination has been fixed as October 16, while the last date of withdrawal of nomination is October 19. For phase 3, the last date of nomination is October 20 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature October 23.

The term of the Bihar Assembly ends on November 29. According to the poll panel, there are 7.29 crore voters in the state, including 3.85 crore male and 3.4 crore female voters and 1.6 lakh service voters.

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