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Election Commission decision on Gujarat poll dates under cloud?



Election Commission

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Election Commission of India’s (EC) reasons for its decision to defer announcement of Gujarat election dates have come under a cloud following information obtained under a right to information (RTI) query.

While the doubts over dependability of electronic voting machines (EVMs) refuse to die down despite EC’s stout defence, this has given rise further questions about the EC’s handling of elections.

On October 12, the EC announced dates for elections to Himachal Pradesh Assembly but withheld dates for Gujarat Assembly polls. Both state assemblies’ terms expire within two weeks of each other and this seemed unusual. The EC explained that announcement of Gujarat election dates was withheld so that the model code of conduct does not affect flood relief work necessitated by unprecedented rains in Gujarat.

The model code of conduct is intended to provide a level playing field to all candidates and bars the government from announcing new schemes to woo voters once the election dates are announced. It remains in force till polling is over.

The Indian Express (IE) has reported that replies to RTI queries show that model code of conduct was in force in Jammu and Kashmir when relief work was on following massive flooding in the state in 2014. The code of conduct did not come in the way of relief work. The September 2014 Jammu and Kashmir floods, in which over 300 died and thousands affected, were considered one of the worst to hit the state in decades. The EC, then headed by VS Sampath, had decided against delaying the polls and held it in five phases between 25 November and 20 December. The state recorded 65 per cent voter turnout, the highest in 25 years.

In October this year, replying to questions from reporters about reasons for withholding announcement of Gujarat poll dates, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti had cited some office memorandums issued earlier to justify the delay in the announcement. He had said the EC had a statutory 21 days to carry out elections that can extend up to 45 days. He had also said that besides availability of central forces and festive season, the Gujarat government had told the Commission that several relief and rehabilitation works were on in the state following the July floods.

According to Joti, the Gujarat chief secretary had written to EC asking for additional time as the relief and rehabilitation for July floods had begun only in September and were yet to be completed. “They have suggested that the Model Code of Conduct should be imposed for a reasonable time, so that they do not face problems in carrying out relief and rehabilitation work,” Joti had said.

While the EC found merit in Gujarat’s request, records showed that the model code of conduct did not affect relief and rehabilitation work for J&K floods. According to the IE report, EC records for Jammu and Kashmir 2014 election show that there was no official request from the state chief secretary to delay announcement of election dates. On November 5, 2014, the EC wrote to the cabinet secretary, state chief secretary and state chief electoral officer, informing them that it had relaxed model code provisions and they could continue with relief and rehabilitation “as per approved schemes of the central/ state governments” and no prior approval from EC was required for this.

The state government was also allowed to give out ex-gratia payment and gratuitous relief directly to victims and families without approval from EC in this case.

The IE reported that it had filed a separate RTI application seeking copies of letters written by the Gujarat Chief Secretary requesting delay in announcement of polls on account of relief work. The EC acknowledged the receipt of two letters, on September 27 and October 2, but did not provide their copies on the ground that the file was “under submission”. The EC also said that it had not issued any reply to the Gujarat Chief Secretary in response to the two letters.

The delay in announcement of Gujarat election dates, in the name of flood relief work, was used by BJP government in Gujarat for announcing a number of sops right up to a day before the election dates were finally announced on Nov 1.

The BJP government effected a 50 percent hike in the incentive paid to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), village-level women workers who are a key component in the implementation of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

For farmers, the Vijay Rupani-government said it would waive off 18 percent Goods and Service Tax (GST) charged on the purchase of equipment meant for drip or sprinkler irrigation.

The government raised the ceiling on the annual income of OBC, SC and ST beneficiaries for availing benefits of state-funded schemes and scholarships.

On 22 October, Modi inaugurated a Rs 650 crore roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ferry service that reduces travel time by six hours between Saurashtra and South Gujarat.

418 cases against Patidars filed during the reservation protests were withdrawn by the police, reported News18.

The EC decision to delay Gujarat election dates came in for severe criticism.

Congress leader P Chidambaram had criticised the EC saying that by not announcing the Gujarat poll schedule, it has “authorised” Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the dates at his last rally, after all “freebies” for the state were doled out. The Congress had also alleged that the government put “pressure” on the poll panel to “delay” the announcement of Gujarat Assembly poll schedule to enable the prime minister to act as a “false Santa Claus” and offer sops.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

On completing nine years in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he’ll continue to improve lives

The BJP has planned a special contact campaign across the country.



On completing nine years in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he'll continue to improve lives

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said his government, which completed nine years in office on May 30, will continue to take decisions to improve the lives of people like it had over the last nine years.

In a tweet, the PM said he was filled with humility and gratitude on the ninth anniversary of his government. He said he would continue to work harder towards the vision of a developed India.

The BJP has planned a special contact campaign across the country. The party said in a statement the country had seen unprecedented growth and development in every sector with the mantra of Nation First over the past nine years. It was due to the efforts of the government that the world was saying the 21st century belongs to India.

Comments on the tweet have not stopped coming in. One user said PM Modi’s vision had made India the fifth largest economy in the world. Many infrastructure projects had been pushed, toilet, gas and water connections were on the priority list of the Modi government. Article 370 had been revoked in Jammu & Kashmir and women had been empowered during the time.

Not to to be outdone, a critic of the government noted the Modi government had gifted India the highest unemployment rate, the highest cost of living and the highest debt. The user said women’s empowerment was hypocrisy as women wrestlers were being treated like criminals for protesting against the wrestling body chief, who continues to enjoy support of the Modi government.

But overall, the mood has been congratulatory with the odd critique here and there. On May 28, Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the new Parliament building while the Opposition boycotted it. He described the new Parliament as a temple of democracy, felicitated some workers involved in its construction.

The real test of the Modi government will come next year when the country will vote in the next Lok Sabha.

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India News

Please don’t go: Go Air ready to pay Rs 1 lakh more to pilots, Rs 50,000 more to first officers in retention effort

This retention allowance will be effective June 1. The offer will also be extended to those who had left the airline and willing to return, if they rescind their resignations before June 15.



Please don't go: Go Air ready to pay Rs 1 lakh to pilots, Rs 50,000 to first officers in retention effort

Go Air, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, is taking the retention allowance route to prevent its employees from leaving en masse. It has announced an increase in salary of Rs 1 lakh a month for captains and half that for first officers to retain employees.

This retention allowance will be effective June 1. The offer will also be extended to those who had left the airline and willing to return, if they rescind their resignations before June 15.

Not just this, the company, which had undergone a rebranding exercise from Go Air to Go First a few years ago, will also offer a longevity bonus to staff who had served longer with the airline. Reports said Go Air Pilots get approx Rs 5,30,000 a month, which is much less when compared to pilots of Spice Jet, who draw Rs 7,50,000 a month since a double hike in their salaries in recent months.

With a month’s deadline from the airline industry regulator on revival plan submission, Go Air is pulling out all stops to present a working face. In its email sent to employees, the airline said it had put together a plan for progress and if everything goes as per plan, then it would not be too long before it would return to the skies that and would return to being regular on salary payments.

Staff from Go Air have plenty of options elsewhere since there has been a shortage of airline staff after the Coronavirus pandemic globally. For instance in India, India’s largest carrier IndiGo is looking to hire 5,000 workers in 2024 and Air India, under the ownership of the Tata Group, plans has some 4,200 cabin crew jobs and needs 900 pilots this year.      

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India News

How dare you disturb my sleep: Retired BSF man shoots at UP sanitation worker for playing Swachhta song, arrested

The accused has identified as Tauheed Ali, 48, a resident of Kanchan Park, Ghaziabad is a retired Border Security Force personnel, was later arrested by the police.



How dare you disturb my sleep: Retired BSF man shoots at UP sanitation worker for playing Swachhta song, arrested

In an eerie turn of events, a man in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad allegedly shoots two sanitation workers over the disturbance of his sleep by the Swacchta song being played in their waste collection vehicle.

The incident took place on Sunday morning when the accused came out complaining disturbance from the song and fired several round on the cleaning staff.

The accused has identified as Tauheed Ali, 48, a resident of Kanchan Park, Ghaziabad is a retired Border Security Force personnel, was later arrested by the police.

An FIR under section 307(attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been registered against Ali.

The victim have been identified as Rohit Kumar and co-driver Raj Kumar.

As per the police, the incident took place at around 7:30 am when a waste collection vehicle was passing by Ali’s house and the vehicle had two cleaning staff driver Rohit Kumar and Raj Kumar.  

Rohit said, Ali had earlier requested him to turn the song when the vehicle passes by his house.

Rohit said, when the vehicle was passing Ali’s house, he objected to it and after several attempts to explain him that turning off the jingle would prevent other residents from informing about the vehicle, he did not understood and  started abusing him and Raj.

He added, Ali then went inside his house and came back with a revolver in his hands to fire two rounds on them, on which they fled from the scene leaving the vehicle.

Assitant Commissioner of Police Rajneesh Kumar Upadhyaya said Ali used his licensed revolver and informed that the police will recommend to revoke his arms license.

ACP Upadhyaya said Ali to be a retired BSF man and he claimed disturbance from the song played by waste collection vehicle.

Swacchta song is a jingle usually played in every waste collection vehicle, it helps to alert the neighborhood to come out of their homes and throw garbage into it.

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