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EC TO ISSUE GUIDELINES ON POLLS SOON

The contours of Election Commision’s new plan for elections in the “new normal” are being adopted even as political parties have offered varied suggestions to the constitutional body, from deferring polls altogether to holding them in one phase.

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Election Commission

The contours of Election Commision’s new plan for elections in the “new normal” are being adopted even as political parties have offered varied suggestions to the constitutional body, from deferring polls altogether to holding them in one phase, from reverting to ballot papers to allowing physical and not just virtual rallies, and from increasing the limits on poll expenditure by candidates to exempting those expenses incurred while enhancing Covid-19 precautions.

While elections have taken place in other countries since the pandemic, including in Sri Lanka recently, elections in India have only been confined to polls to the Rajya Sabha and legislative council seats, which involve a limited set of voters. Experts believe that the election paradigm adopted for Bihar will have significant implications for political contests, and have a medium-term impact since other state elections are due in the middle of 2021.

Election Commission, which reviewed suggestions received from political parties for conducting elections to the 243-member Bihar assembly, is likely to issue the guidelines over the next three days. The guidelines will broadly centre around three primary subjects — polling stations, counting halls and public meetings.

A key area of concern for political parties is rallies, which have traditionally served as a key political tool for mobilising voters and communicating messages by leaders. With the pandemic and the push towards digital campaigning, parties have expressed concern that the direct interface with voters, especially those who lack digital access, will get affected if physical rallies are not allowed.

The BJP, which is part of the ruling dispensation in Bihar, has asked the poll panel to allow physical meetings and rallies in rural and semi-urban areas since voters may not have access to mobile devices and the internet. In its submission to EC, the party has said that all party workers, campaigners and leaders must have the Aarogya Setu app downloaded on their phones at all times, and adequate social distancing has to be maintained during roadshows and processions. Other parties such as the RJD and a BJP ally, the LJP,  have said that till physical rallies are not allowed, elections must not take place.

Read Also: NON GANDHI AS CONG CHIEF, SAYS PRIYANKA.

Arguing that digital campaigning and virtual rallies allow the ruling party an upper hand because these cost more money, the CPI and CPI-M have also demanded public meetings. The Congress has sought permission for house-to-house campaigns. In its submission to EC, the party said, “We are in favour of an election based on face-to-face campaign where the candidate and party workers can meet the voters.”

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says listening to Hanuman Chalisa under Congress rule is a crime

PM Modi was addressing an election rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, on a day as India celebrates Hanuman Jayanti.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hit out at the Congress and said even listening to Hanuman Chalisa has become a crime under the party’s rule. The Prime Minister also said it was difficult to follow one’s faith under the party and accused it of hatching a deep conspiracy to snatch people’s wealth and distribute it among selected few people in the society. PM Modi was addressing an election rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, on a day as India celebrates Hanuman Jayanti.

PM Modi said in a state like Rajasthan where people chant Ram-Ram, Congress banned Ram Navami. He reffered to the redistribution of wealth remarks he had made during a rally in Rajasthan’s Banswara on Sunday and said it has angered the Congress and INDI Alliance so much that they have started throwing abuses at Modi everywhere.

The Prime Minister said that Congress has written in their manifesto that they will survey the wealth. He said the Congress leadership had said in a speech that an X-ray of wealth will be done. He added when Modi exposed the secret then the hidden agenda came out and this has left the people trembling. PM Modi further added that the Congress party has played with the Constitution of the India.

He said when the Constitution was drafted, reservations based on religion were opposed, so that Scheduled Casts (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) could get protection. He said former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had said that Muslims have the first right to the country’s resources.  The prime minister further added Congress’s ideology has always been of appeasement and vote bank politics. He said stones would still be pelted in Jammu and Kashmir, and enemies would still be cutting off the heads of India’s soldiers had Congress been in power.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

NCP (SP) leader Sharad Pawar says Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to create fear like Russian President Vladimir Putin

Sharad Pawar said that former prime ministers worked to make a new India but PM Modi only criticises others and does not speak about what his government has done for the people of India in the last 10 years.

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NCP (SP) leader Sharad Pawar on Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that he fears a new Putin is in the making in India. Pawar alleged PM Modi is trying to create fear and emulating Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sharad Pawar said that former prime ministers worked to make a new India but PM Modi only criticises others and does not speak about what his government has done for the people of India in the last 10 years.

Sharad Pawar was addressing a campaign rally in Amravati for a Maha Vikas Aghadi candidate and said former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s contribution to the nation cannot be questioned. He said some BJP leaders had spoken publicly about changing the Constitution and appealed to the people to stop allowing autocracy from taking shape in India.

Pawar said he had seen Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and had seen the work of almost all Prime Ministers ranging from Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and Narasimha Rao to Manmohan Singh. The NCP (SP) chief said he had seen that their efforts were to make a new India, but PM Modi knows only how to criticize. He said nobody in history can forget the contribution of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, but the PM Modi continuously criticises him.

Sharad Pawar further added that he wanted to apologise to the people of Amravati for the mistake he had committed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by supporting Navneet Rana. He hailed Shiv Sena (UBT) led by Uddhav Thackeray for taking up the responsibility to protect the national interest by working closely with the Congress and the NCP (SP) as they did in the past. Speaking to the media, Pawar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constant attack on the Congress was not a wise decision as that party is not in power.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Samajwadi Party fields Lalu Yadav’s son-in-law Tej Pratap from Kannauj

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The Samajwadi Party (SP) has fielded Tej Pratap Singh Yadav for the parliamentary seat in Uttar Pradesh, putting an end to rumours that its chief, Akhilesh Yadav, would contest from Kannauj.

Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and his spouse Dimple previously held the seat.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son-in-law is Tej Pratap, a former MP from Mainpuri and Akhilesh Yadav’s nephew. The former Mainpuri MP has tied the knot with Raj Laxmi Yadav, Lalu’s daughter.

Ranveer Singh, the brother of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, is the grandfather of Tej Pratap. From 2014 to 2019, he was the MP for Mainpuri.

In addition to Tej Pratap, the Yadav family is running for the Lok Sabha seats in Mainpuri, Azamgarh, Badaun, and Ferozabad.

In opposition to Neeraj Shekhar of the BJP, the Party has put up Sanatan Pandey of Ballia.

Pandey had previously run from this location in 2019 on the SP ticket, but Virendra Singh Mast of the BJP defeated him.

Son of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, Neeraj Shekhar served as a member of parliament for the state of Rajasthan from 2007 to 2014, representing SP from Ballia, the seat his father had previously held.

Shekhar was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2014 but lost the polls to his BJP opponent. After the SP decided not to field him in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he left the party and joined the BJP, which promoted him to the Upper House of Parliament.

On June 1, elections will be held in the Ballia Lok Sabha constituency.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 62 of the 80 seats in the 2019 general elections. It also added two seats that its ally Apna Dal (S) won. Ten seats were won by Mayawati’s BSP and five by Akhilesh Yadav’s SP. In contrast, the Congress party managed to secure a mere one seat.

Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav on Monday lashed out PM Modi accsuing him of not having respect for the constitution.

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