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Hold simultaneous polls for Lok Sabha and state assemblies for the sake of development: Parliament panel

A parliamentary panel has asked the government as well as the Election Commission to explore possibility of holding simultaneous elections, to reduce frequency of polls and enforcement of code of conduct that impedes economic development. “This is important for India, if it is to compete with other nations in developmental agenda on real time basis as robust democratic country,” said the 31-member panel headed by Congress party’s Tamil Nadu MP Dr E M S. Natchippan. The panel said massive costs could be saved with the conduct of simultaneous elections. Only the Election Commission spends around Rs 4,500 crore for holding staggered Lok Sabha and state assembly elections, currently. The costs incurred by political parties are enormous.

A parliamentary panel has asked the government as well as the Election Commission to explore possibility of holding simultaneous elections, to reduce frequency of polls and enforcement of code of conduct that impedes economic development. “This is important for India, if it is to compete with other nations in developmental agenda on real time basis as robust democratic country,” said the 31-member panel headed by Congress party’s Tamil Nadu MP Dr E M S. Natchippan. The panel said massive costs could be saved with the conduct of simultaneous elections. Only the Election Commission spends around Rs 4,500 crore for holding staggered Lok Sabha and state assembly elections, currently. The costs incurred by political parties are enormous.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Committee has envisaged holding of elections of some state assemblies at mid-term of Lok Sabha and remaining with the end of tenure of Lok Sabha. It said the proposed first phase could be held in November 2016, involving states like West Bengal, Kerala, Puduchery, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland and Karnataka. The states whose terms end between May 2016 to May 2018 should be clubbed together. In Phase two, rest of states, whose terms end between December 2018 to June 2019 should be held in June 2019 along with Lok Sabha elections.The MPs in the Standing Committee looking after the Ministry of Law and Justice said if all the political parties cooperate, the necessary steps can be taken without hurting the interests of any political party.First three general elections to Lok Sabha were conducted simultaneously with all state legislative assemblies till 1967. However, the cycle got disrupted due to premature dissolution of some assemblies in 1968 and 1969. In 1970, the Lok Sabha was itself dissolved prematurely. The panel reminded the practice in South Africa, where elections to national and provincial legislatures are held simultaneously for five years and municipal elections are held two years later. In Sweden, elections are held on a fixed date on second Sunday in September for four years.Though admitting that it may not be feasible in 2016 or even in a decade, but it has expressed confidence that a solution will be found in a due course of time.

Election Commission likely to ink voters in polling booths with marker pens

New Delhi: Trendy marker pens could soon replace bottle and brush at polling booths for marking index fingers of voters with indelible ink as a proof that they have voted.

The Election Commission has started “testing” the marker pens, provided by Mysore Paints, as replacement for bottles of indelible ink and brushes. Indelible ink has been an integral part of Indian elections since 1962.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The move to go for marker pens was initiated following feedback the EC received from voters, especially the youth, that marking done by brushes is not neat. The other major reason is that pens will be easier to store and transport than bottle along with a brush.

The marker pens provided by Mysore Paints were used in the recently-held elections in Afghanistan.

“We are currently testing the marker pens. No final decision has been taken yet on their large-scale use. Much will depend on the results,” said an EC official.

Officials, however, did not specify whether it was used in the just-concluded Bihar assembly elections.

Indelible ink is used to mark voters’ fingers during polling to avoid fraudulent, multiple voting and malpractices. Once it is applied on finger, it remains for a few months, the company has claimed, although there have been reports of some people managing to erase it.

A bottle of indelible ink contains 10 cubic centimetres (cc) whereas a pen will have much lesser capacity of 3 cc. As per modern measurement methods, one cubic centimetre is equivalent to one millilitre.

A Karnataka government undertaking, Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited provides the famous indelible ink to all states in India and even some foreign countries.

In 1962, the Election Commission, in collaboration with Law Ministry, National Physical Laboratory and National Research Development Corporation, made an agreement with Mysore Paints for supply of indelible ink for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Since then, it has been supplying the ink for elections in India.

Following complaints that indelible ink or voter’s ink is not being applied properly by poll officials, the Election Commission had issued orders saying the ink should be applied using a brush specifically provided for the purpose.

The March 2015 order makes it clear that the ink “will be applied on voter’s finger with the help of brush from top of the nail to the bottom of the first joint of the left forefinger”. Use of brush will ensure that besides being bigger, the ink mark will also be bolder and more prominent.

There have been complaints that poll officials use match sticks, instead of a brush, to apply ink. In such cases, the ink is barely visible and often leads to allegations that people have tried to remove it in a bid to cast vote again.

PTI

Smriti Irani’s degree row: Court asks Election Commission, Delhi University to bring records

The court on June 24 had taken cognizance of the complaint which accused Irani of furnishing false information about her academic qualifications in the affidavits filed before the EC in 2004, 2011 and 2014.

Smriti Irani

The Election Commission and Delhi University (DU) were on Friday directed by a city court to bring the records of educational qualification of Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani against whom a complaint was filed for allegedly giving false information in affidavits to the poll panel.Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain allowed the plea of the complainant seeking a direction to the officials of EC and DU to bring records of Irani’s educational qualification after he said he was unable to place them before the court. “Keeping in view the grounds mentioned in the application, the plea to direct officials of the Election Commission and Delhi University to bring records is allowed,” the court said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It, however, declined the contention of complainant Ahmer Khan, a freelance writer, seeking direction to the CBSE to bring Irani’s class 10th and 12th records. “The plea to direct CBSE to bring records of class X and XII is declined as it is not under challenge. Put up the matter for pre-summoning evidence on March 16, 2016,” it said. The complainant had earlier claimed in court that Irani had deliberately given discrepant information about her educational qualification in affidavits filed before the poll panel and not given any clarification despite concerns being raised on the issue.Khan had alleged that Irani had knowingly furnished misleading information about her educational qualification in affidavits filed before EC and, a candidate deliberately giving incorrect details, can be punished under the provisions of IPC and under section 125A of Representation of the People Act (RPA). Section 125A of RPA deals with penalty for filing false affidavit and entails a jail term of upto six months or fine or both. The court on June 24 had taken cognizance of the complaint which accused Irani of furnishing false information about her academic qualifications in the affidavits filed before the EC in 2004, 2011 and 2014.The complainant had earlier claimed in court that in her affidavit for April 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Irani had said she completed her BA in 1996 from DU(School of Correspondence), whereas in another affidavit of July 11, 2011 to contest Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, she had said her highest educational qualification was B.Com Part I from the School of Correspondence, DU.The complaint also alleged that in the affidavit filed for nomination of April 16, 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, Irani said she had completed Bachelor of Commerce Part-I from School of Open Learning,

Meet Ajay Nayak, the man behind the smooth Bihar elections

A day after results, Bihar’s chief electoral officer Ajay V Nayak and his staff, who had worked tirelessly for over past four months are sitting relaxed in their office.

A state infamous for lawlessness and disorderly musclemen, conducting a bloodless election spread almost over a month in five phases, navigating through five major festivals, with Dussehra and Muharram almost overlapping, was not an easy feat.A day after results, Bihar’s chief electoral officer Ajay V Nayak and his staff, who had worked tirelessly for over past four months are sitting relaxed in their office. A beaming Nayak a 1984-batch officer, however, tells dna, despite peaceful conduct, some things were not pleasant.. “There was a vicious kind of campaign from both sides. Political parties tried to reap benefit on caste and communal lines. Both sides erred to some extent..<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Politicians are mistaken that the voters get swayed by such rhetoric,” he says. The Election Commission had to intervene and imposed an unprecedented restriction on political ads in newspapers. EC’s pre-certification of ads, since 2004, has been limited to audio-visual spots which cover TV, radio and, more recently, social media. In Bihar, it extended this vetting to print media as well.Nayak believes that a meticulous and methodical planning almost four months ahead, positing of some 760 paramilitary companies almost a month ahead coupled with round the clock manning and sanitising of Maoist affected areas made a day for peaceful conduct of polls.The month-long surveillance led seizure of Rs19.90 crore in cash, out of which Rs11.78 crore were handed over to Income Tax authorities. “If this was not enough, we also seized 8,662 kg of gold, 189.38 crore of silver and bundles of sarees possibly taken for distribution amongst voters,” says Nayak. Also observers spread across state also seized 2.59 liters of liqure worth Rs. 4.5 crore. Besides this, Bihar inspector-general of police (operations) Sushil M Khopde, who was in charge of anti-Maoist operations and security in the Maoist districts, said 64 powerful landmines, 125 detonators, 13 gelatine sticks, 43 firearms and 648 kilograms of explosives were seized.His grouse is also about the credibility of state police, as ever political party wanted 100% central para-military forces to be deployed at polling booths. But he feels more worry is that state still witnesses low percentage, as average polling this time was 57%, while it has potential to grow up to 70% to 75%. “Migration of men folk for jobs and education as well as lack of awareness and voter apathy are reasons for this low percentage,” said Nayak. He further added that past hangovers like stopping traffic on the day of poling by officers also leads to this low turnout. “Officers are willing to compromise on voter turnout than allow any violence. This is a big handicap,” he added.The Election Commission had commissioned 89,000 vehicles to take care of transport logistics regarding movement of polling and security personnel. General observers, one for each constituency, to keep a tab on the overall poll process, expenditure observers deployed for every three to four constituencies to oversee use of money in polls and police observers were deployed – one for each district – to keep a watch on use of central and state police forces. Apart from them, over 3,000 micro-observers were deployed in each phase of elections. Under scannerThe month-long surveillance led seizure of Rs19.90 crore in cash, out of which Rs11.78 crore were handed over to Income Tax authorities. “If this was not enough, we also seized 8,662 kg of gold, 189.38 crore of silver and bundles of sarees possibly taken for distribution amongst voters,” says Nayak. Also observers spread across state also seized 2.59 liters of liqure worth Rs. 4.5 crore.

The media free-for-all: Why studio pundits were foxed by numbers on Bihar poll counting day

Instant punditry has its pitfalls. It makes people forget that patience has many uses, the most important being it spares you from looking stupid.

Some in the know-it-all crowd in the television studios don’t get it at all, but when experienced journalists like Shekhar Gupta and Prannoy Roy start trip up it becomes a matter of grave concern.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

It’s about an hour into counting on Sunday, November 8, and very early trends showing on television channels say that the NDA is squarely in the lead. Of course, that is just the general direction in which they suggest the race is going. But that’s where the similarity ends. Each channel has its own figures, some showing NDA allies leading by a dozen seats while others, notably the more sedate and reliable NDTV, are showing the NDA running away with it with more than double the leads of its rival formation, the Grand Alliance. And it’s hardly an hour into counting.

Then the talking heads in all channels go ballistic. Nitish, we are told by NDTV panelists (as brilliantly captured by Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph), had lost touch with the masses. There was a backlash to his ill-treatment of Jitan Ram Manjhi; and yes, his parting ways with the BJP in 2013 was political harakiri. Sometime later the trend changes, showing the Grand Alliance is ahead. The same panelists sing an entirely different tune.

Somewhere amid all this Barkha Dutt tweets that the BJP is going to secure around 145-149 seats; then goes on to tell that it is her personal assessment, then she says the numbers showing up on different channels are too confusing. Surely, the numbers were confusing – barring CNN-IBN no other channel was consistent on this – but why jump to conclusions? They have the experience of counting days and are quite familiar with the yo-yo quality the numbers assume during counting. Why cannot they be a bit more patient? It’s certainly better that looking silly.

The question that begs answer then is: If all of the channels were giving us the latest trends for the same election, why were their figures so varied? What was their source of information? For every official event, there can be two sources: the official agency tasked with that event, which in this case was he Election Commission of India, and the individual channel’s own news gathering resources. The Election Commission’s numbers are solid as they should be, but they follow their own official rigmarole of multiple levels of counting, validation and certification before a trend is updated on its site. This is unacceptable to the news channels that seek to beat one another in being the fastest.

This race to being the fastest is a perfectly legitimate business necessity. But speed without accuracy means nothing. And accuracy has its own demands news organisations. It takes a lot of doing. The Indian Express hit the nail on the head when it analysed the reason why CNN-IBN was the only channel that got the trends right: “CNN-IBN relied on inputs from the ground sent in by 243 reporters, mostly from the ETV network, who sourced the numbers from counting centres before the EC released them. And the channel was reliably and credibly ahead in the game, calling the election in favour of the Mahagathbandhan at 10.03 am, when the experts in (Arnab) Goswami’s studio were marvelling at being fairly bamboozled, and NDTV was declaring that they had never seen a poll like this.”

If the path to the ultimate result (the number of seats won by each party) are so divergent and channels can throw up all kinds of non-facts and imaginary figures at us in such an important event, it numbs the mind to think that this might not be the only event when this media free-for-all plays out.

(CNN-IBN and Firstpost are part of the Network18 Group)

Bihar records highest voter turnout after five grueling phases

Record 60 per cent turnout in the fifth phase; overall polling stands at 56.8% which is a huge jump from 2010 assembly elections

Voters waiting in a queue to cast their votes during the fifth phase of Bihar elections in Madhepura on Thursday

PTI
Grueling Bihar assembly elections came to end on Thursday with a record 60 per cent turnout in the fifth and final phase for 57 seats in nine districts of Bihar. The voter turnout for the corresponding seats was 55.44% in 2010 assembly elections and 59.41% in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.Witnessing one of the shrillest electoral battles that regularly swayed between caste and communal lines often warranting the election commission to step in and pass strictures, Bihar in all five phases overall polled 56.8% which is a huge jump from 2010 assembly elections when the turnout was 52.65%.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The overall turnout is marginally more than the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which Bihar recorded 55.38% turnout and gave a landslide victory to BJP. The Bihar election is being viewed as a battle between the credibility of incumbent chief minister Nitish Kumar of JD (U) and popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who spent most of his time campaigning in Bihar.So high were the stakes in Bihar this time that despite strict strictures of Election Commission the political parties kept flouting the rules and a day before the final poll day, the commission had to step in with full force to direct that no publication of advertisements will take place in print media before being shown and cleared by Media Certification and Media Monitoring Committee (MCMC).A key aspect of the elections was continuous high percentage of women voters who are being considered to be one of the deciding factors. In the fifth phase they again polled higher than their men counterpart with 63.6 per cent. In comparison the men polled 56.05%.Barring efforts to polarize the voters, Bihar saw a peaceful election despite Maoist threat. The election commission had deployed 3.26 lakh polling personnel and 2.79 lakh police personnel, including over 77,000 central paramilitary personnel, to conduct peaceful and fair elections.Over Rs. 38 crore, including foreign currency were seized during the entire duration of polls, including 8 kgs of gold and 189 kgs silver. Over 2.6 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs. 3.5 crore was also seized during the elections. How Bihar voted2010 Assembly 2014 Lok SabhaDistricts 2015 Madhubani 55.87 48.61 54.42 Supaul 58.60 60.61 62.58 Araria 62.00 60.3 60.44 Kishanganj 64.31 58.98 63.89 Purnea 62.95 60.25 62.26 Katihar 67.27 62.33 67.92 Madhepura 57.84 59.44 60.76 Saharsa 50.78 53.04 56.24 Darbhanga 58.27 47.58 53.11

Amit Shah’s Pakistan comment: Opposition wants EC to bar BJP President from entering Bihar

The parties complained to the EC on this matter on a day when Prime Minister Narendra raised the pitch on this issue addressing a rally in Lalu Prasad’s home turf Gopalganj and citing a speech of Nitish Kumar in Parliament allegedly favouring sub quota for Muslims

amit shah

Upping the ante against Amit Shah after his “fireworks in Pakistan” remark, JD(U) and Congress approached the Election Commission demanding that the BJP chief be barred from entering Bihar for “inciting communal tension” till the election process ends.Taking strong objection to BJP’s poll advertisements in the state, they accused the party of using “lies and false propaganda” to vitiate the atmosphere and demanded that an FIR be registered against Shah as well Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his quota remarks. Slamming Shah’s remarks on Thursday that if BJP loses in Bihar, there will be fireworks in Pakistan, JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi said, “Shah’s remarks are inflammatory.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A case should be registered against him and he should be debarred from entering Bihar till the poll process is over. He is a habitual conspirator. He was earlier also debarred from entering Gujarat by the court.”A delegation of Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, spokesperson Ajoy Kumar and JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and submitted a memorandum, accusing the BJP of “vitiating” the electoral process by “promoting communal tension” through its advertisements.It sought action including “complete withdrawal” of these ads and “prosecution” of the perpetrators. Submitting a list of advertisements issued by the BJP in Bihar including one which accuses Nitish Kumar-led of “snatching the plate of dalits” and accuses it of trying to carve five per cent reservation for a particular community from the quota for SC/ST/OBC, the delegation demanded quick action from the poll watchdog.The parties complained to the EC on this matter on a day when Prime Minister Narendra raised the pitch on this issue addressing a rally in Lalu Prasad’s home turf Gopalganj and citing a speech of Nitish Kumar in Parliament allegedly favouring sub quota for Muslims. Tyagi also said that the Election Commission should register a case against Modi for the repeated reference of his belonging to Extremely Backward Castes (EBC) in the same manner as the Election Commission had lodged a case against RJD chief Lalu Prasad for his forward versus back election remark earlier.They also cited two more ads. While one alleges that Lashkar-e-Toiba and ISI terrorists are “thriving in Bihar due to negligence” of JD-U leaders, the other talks of Bihar government’s role in “delayed” arrest of Yasin Bhatkal from Nepal border. The delegation alleged that it is a “shameless” attempt by the BJP at spreading “false propaganda” and “creating communal tension”. The Nitish Kumar-led alliance claimed that one of the ads say that RJD, JD(U) and Congress leaders are “giving sanctuary” to terrorists to appease a particular community for votes. The name of the particular community becomes clear when seen in context to previous day’s ad, which spoke about Muslim community appeasement by RJD-JD(U) and Congress by ‘robbing the plate of dalits’, the delegation alleged.On the ad regarding Bhatkal arrest issue, the delegation said that it questions whether the ‘delay’ was to make a particular community feel the “government’s benevolence”. “The connection between letting Bhatkar escape and a community is done to connect Bhatkal with the Muslim community,” they alleged.”In the on-going elections in Bihar, the BJP has been promoting lies, false propaganda and communal tensions through its advertisements. This has resulted in vitiating the electoral process by promoting communal tension…. “As you will see from these ads, it is a shameless attempt at spreading false propaganda and creating communal tension by use of misuse of select words in ambiguous contexts that could be interpreted for multiple factions for inciting violence between the two communities,” the delegation said in its memorandum.Terming these ads as “blatant violation” of the provisions of the Representation of People Act, 1951 and several provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the delegation said, “The EC must demand a complete withdrawal of the advertisement and prosecution should be initiated against the perpetrators at the earliest.”Meanwhile, an RJD delegation submitted a memorandum to the Election Office in Patna against “misleading, highly inflamamatory and polarising” advertisements by BJP against JD(U) and RJD and also “firecrackers in Pakistan” comment of Amit Shah and demanded stern action. The RJD delegation led by its national spokesman Manoj Jha met Additional Chief Electoral Officers Arvind Chaudhary and R Lakshamanan and submited the memorandum.It highlighted RJD’s resentment against Shah “firecrackers in Pakistan” comment and urged EC to take cognisance of it and initiate stern action, a RJD statement said here.The RJD team also drew EC’s attention to BJP advertisement in newspapers. Jha said such advertisements were against model code of conduct and against IPC 153 (A) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).

Bihar polls: Grand alliance to move Election Commission over Amit Shah comment, BJP gets there first

However, the BJP top leadership has already reached the EC office and filed a complaint against the grand alliance, accusing it of ‘communalising the Bihar elections’.

Shahnawaz Hussain of BJP and KC Tyagi of JD(U)

The grand alliance will lodge a protest with the Election Commission on Friday against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah’s remark that crackers will burst in Pakistan if his party loses the Bihar Assembly polls. Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi condemned Shah’s remark and alleged that it was an an insult to the Dalits and the backwards in Bihar.”We will take this to the Election Commission and demand a ban against him from further campaigning in Bihar,” Tyagi told ANI. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the BJP top leadership has already reached the EC office and filed a complaint against the grand alliance, accusing it of ‘communalising the Bihar elections’.The Congress asserted that Amit Shah’s statement was an indication by the BJP of their impending loss in the elections, reports an English news channel.”India will celebrate and burst crackers before Pakistan when the BJP loses and we will defeat them with all certainty. I can tell you for sure that we are defeating them right now,” Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar told ANI.Addressing a rally in Raxaul on Thursday, Shah had said that crackers will be burst in Pakistan if the BJP loses in Bihar. The grand alliance had earlier alleged that after provocative speeches by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and provocative newspaper ads and photos by the BJP president, this was the latest attempt to communalise the Bihar polls.

No red-flag from Election Commission, PM Modi to do ‘Mann ki Baat’ this Sunday

It has not found any violation of model code in Modi’s previous episode of the programme in September, they said.

Prime Minister should avoid referring to the Bihar elections or make political statements in the programme: EC

File Photo
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the country this Sunday with a fresh episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’ as the Election Commission is said to have not red-flagged its broadcast in the wake of model code of conduct imposed in Bihar.Sources in the EC on Thursday said that as of now there was no “black and white” order issued to Information and Broadcasting Ministry on the broadcast of Prime Minister’s radio programme. It has not found any violation of model code in Modi’s previous episode of the programme in September, they said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The sources, however, said that the Prime Minister should avoid referring to the Bihar elections or make political statements in the programme as the state is going through Assembly polls and it would be a violation of the model code.The Election Commission had in September given the go-ahead to the airing of Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme on September 20 provided nothing is said that may be construed as inducement to voters or having an impact on poll-bound Bihar where model code of conduct is in force.Representatives of the ‘grand alliance,’ including RJD and JD(U), had approached the EC seeking suspension of the programme till Bihar polls were in progress, raising doubts that it might be used it to influence voters. The programme was aired even during Haryana, Maharashtra and Delhi Assembly polls.The Congress had accused the PM of violating the model code in his October 3, 2014 episode. But the Commission “did not find anything” in the broadcast which constituted violation of the model code of conduct.

Lalu Prasad’s remarks violative of Model Code of Conduct: Election Commission

An FIR has already been lodged against Lalu recently in Bihar for allegedly making casteist remarks.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
The Election Commission on Thursday cautioned RJD chief Lalu Prasad for his reported castiest remarks which it said were violative of the model code and asked him to be “more careful” in public utterances during election campaigns in future.”…the Commission has considered your reply carefully and has observed that you have not denied having made the impugned statements…the explanations furnished by you in support of justifying those statements have not been found convincing by the Commission,” the EC said in its order.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It reminded Lalu that the statements can aggravate the differences between different sections of society and also inciting them on grounds of caste and religion.”…the Commission is, thus of the considered opinion that you have violated the provisions…of Model Code of Conduct…now, therefore, the Commission cautions you to abide by the provisions of MCC in letter and spirit and be more careful in public utterances during election campaigns in future,” the poll watchdog said.Related read: EC issues show cause notice to Sharad Yadav over controversial remarksAn FIR has already been lodged against Lalu recently in Bihar for allegedly making casteist remarks. Launching his campaign from Raghopur, the RJD supremo had described the assembly elections as a direct fight between “the backward castes and forward castes” and gave a call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind the secular alliance to defeat BJP-led NDA.Earlier, while issuing the notice, the EC reminded him that “promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens on the ground of religion, race, caste, community or language” is an electoral offence under section 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and also an offence under section 153A and section 505(2) of the IPC.

Bihar Elections 2015: Campainging ends ahead of second phase of polls

The Election Commission has cut short the time for voting by one to two hours in as many as 23 constituencies that would go to poll on October 16, depending upon its perception of the threat from outlawed naxalite groups.
Representational Image
dna Research & Archives
The hustle and bustle of campaigning for the second phase of poll in 32 assembly seats in Bihar ended on Wednesday evening with the sting video of a senior minister in the Nitish Kumar government providing the BJP-led NDA with fresh ammunition to attack the grand secular alliance on corruption. The 32 seats are spread across six naxal-hit districts– Jehanabad, Arwal, Gaya, Rohtas, Kaimur and Aurangabad.The Election Commission has cut short the time for voting by one to two hours in as many as 23 constituencies that would go to poll on October 16, depending upon its perception of the threat from outlawed naxalite groups.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Only 9 out of a total of 32 seats would see voting from 7 AM to 5 PM. 12 Constituencies would witness voting till 4 PM, while 11 others would have balloting only till 3 PM, Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshamanan said.The sting video of JD(U) minister Awadhesh Prasad Kushwaha gave additional ammunition to the NDA for launching a spirited assault on the JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine during the electioneering for the second phase of the 5-phase polls.Prime Minister Narendra Modi prominently raised the issue at his rallies in Jehanabad and Bhubua on October 12, a day after the damning video surfaced on the 113th birth anniversary of socialist icon Jayaprakash Narayan. He attacked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, products of JP’s ‘Total Revolution’ movement, for “insulting” their leader, who fought against corrruption, on his birth anniversary.BJP chief Amit Shah and Home Minister Rajnath Singh extensively toured the constituencies. LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, RSLP leader Upendra Kushwaha and Hindustani Awam Morcha’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, other three allies of BJP, too held a number of election meetings.The Grand Alliance’s campaign was led by Nitish Kumar and Lalu. Neither Congress president Sonia Gandhi nor her deputy Rahul Gandhi made any appearance for this phase of poll.On the last day of electioneering, Nitish and Lalu attacked Narendra Modi for his “delayed” reaction to the Dadri lynching incident. Modi, in an interview to Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika, had termed as “unfortunate” the Dadri episode following rumours of beef consumption.

Banners of PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah must be removed from Patna airport: Grand Alliance

Leaders from the grand alliance in Bihar today urged the Election Commission to order the removal of banners and posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah from the Patna airport, saying they are “flagrant violation of norms”.

Leaders from the grand alliance in Bihar today urged the Election Commission to order the removal of banners and posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah from the Patna airport, saying they are “flagrant violation of norms”.A delegation comprising of K C Tyagi (JD-U), RPN Singh (Congress), Manoj Jha (RJD) alongwith eminent lawyer KTS Tulsi submitted a memorandum to the Chief Election Commissioner giving details of such posters and banners carrying the pictures of BJP leaders and its election symbol at the airport.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The delegation told the Election Commission that the airports and railways stations have been used by the ruling party at the Centre for its propaganda” in the state where assembly polls are underway, Congress leader RPN Singh said.He said the Commission told them that no permission has been granted to put up the hoarding at government buildings including airports or railway stations.In their letter to the EC, the delegation said that the “flagrant violation” could not have escaped the Commission’s notice on its recent Patna visit as over a dozen banners are on display inside the airport with pictures of Modi, Shah and lotus election symbol of BJP.”Public places belonging to the government cannot be allowed to be used and worse monopolised by the party in power,” they said.The leaders also drew the attention of the EC to its earlier order when in 2012 UP elections, giant statues of elephants (election symbol of BSP) were covered when model code of conduct was in force in the state.In the letter, they also pointed out that the EC had reprimanded the Haryana Government in 2005 for issuance of a press note on establishing polytechnics.The leaders in their letter also said that another significant violation of EC norms happening in Bihar is that advertisements issued are not being forwarded to the poll watchdog before their publication as per norms.”It is thus incomprehensible and thus shocking that the Commission has refrained from giving any direction to remove the advertisements from the Lok Nayak Jaya Prakash airport at Patna,” the letter said.The leaders demanded that in the interest of free and fair elections, the EC should direct immediate removal of all the banners installed within the airport or being displayed at public places without the approval of the Election Commission.

Paramilitary forces move for area domination of crucial second phase polls

About 14 of the 31 constituencies spread across districts of Bhabua, also known as Kaimur, Gaya, Aurangabad, and Rohtas also called Sasaram in the second phase are considered to be heavily Maoism affected.

Heaving a sigh of relief on completion of first phase consisting of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected constituencies the Election Commission has now focused all its efforts on the second phase that again has several Maoist affected assembly constituencies going to polls on October 16.About 14 of the 31 constituencies spread across districts of Bhabua, also known as Kaimur, Gaya, Aurangabad, and Rohtas also called Sasaram in the second phase are considered to be heavily Maoism affected.For the first time, the security forces are using camera fitted drones and helicopter surveillance for an effective area domination control. These also have the capability of thermal imaging for night surveillance. The arrangement seemed to have worked well, sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A helicopter air ambulance has also been deployed for speedy evacuation to tackle any eventuality if times of an exigency.”This is the second and last crucial phase of elections as far as LWE violence is concerned. The rest of the three phases will be relatively much easier to manage. The plan to conduct elections in LWE affected districts in first two phases were made deliberately to get the security forces over from the fatigue at the earliest. The carefully put security arrangements seem to have been worked,” said a senior official overseeing the security arrangements in Bihar.After completion of the first phase, about 55,000 paramilitary forces personnel have been sent for redeployment around the sensitive polling stations than run into thousands in LWE affected constituencies. Besides, quick reaction teams (QRTs) of CAPFs have been positioned in sensitive areas and special road opening parties (ROPs) have been deployed for making access easy to polling stations located in Maoist affected areas.Like the first phase every polling station will be manned by fully equipped central armed police personnel, the official added. The Election Commission has deployed 31 general observers, 6 police observers and 10 expenditure observers for free and fair conduct of polls in the second phase.

Bihar polls record 57% in first phase

Women polled higher than men. Women turn out was 59.5% in comparison to men who polled 54.5%

A polling officer puts an ink mark on a voter’s finger at a polling station in Begusarai on Monday. Women voter turnout was 59.5%

PTI
In the first phase of high stake elections for 49 assembly seats, Bihar polled a historic 57% votes, up almost 7 per cent than 2010 assembly elections for the corresponding seats.In comparison, the polling percentage was 50.85% in 2010 assembly elections and 55% in last year’s Lok Sabha elections in which BJP emerged as the single largest party with 22 seats.Election Commission has attributed Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme and over 99% coverage of voter slip distribution as the reason for record voter turnout.”The large deployment of central armed police forces and their presence on every polling station is also one of the reasons why people came out to vote without fear,” said deputy election commissioner, Umesh Sinha.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The election commission had deployed over 63,000 polling officials and over 55,000 CAPFs personnel in 14,413 polling stations of which 2,255 were in LWE affected areas.While it remains difficult to predict in whose benefit the substantial increase in voting percentage would translate, the BJP camp was upbeat after a video showing senior minister of Nitish government, Awadhesh Prasad Kushwaha, accepting Rs four lakh as bribe went viral.Though Nitish Kumar asked Kushwaha to resign as soon as the sting went viral and is set to withdraw his candidature from Pipra constituency, the incident has left the BJP camp upbeat.BJP claims that the alleged act of Kushwaha, accepting Rs 4 lakh as an advance bribe from a Bombay-based firm for favours to be repaid later has changed the electoral discourse in the state in their favour and its impact will be seen in remaining phases also.But many observers claim the video expose will not have much impact on the ground as Biharis have become immune to such allegations and counter during elections and do not take such things on face value.They say women who polled higher than the men can be a major deciding factor. Women voters polled 59.5% in comparison to men who polled 54.5%.While both Nitish and Modi can claim to have captured women’s imagination for votes, Nitish’s claim has more strong basis as he started several schemes to benefit women including linking 1.5 crore women with Self Help groups (SHGs) in July this year, besides giving bicycles for class IX girl students programme that increased girls admission from 44 to 56 per cent during one year of operation.For BJP, women say a reason to vote for them because of Modi’s major emphasis on toilet for women that he related to their honour.BJP also scored an advantage by being allowed by the election commission to hold Modi’s rally in Jehanabad and Bhabua amid strong protests of opposition parties.The grand alliance on Sunday had petitioned the Election Commission (EC), seeking a ban on live telecast of Modi’s election rallies on days of polling saying it was a clear violation of Section 126 of the Representation of People’s Act (RPA), 1951 that prohibits displaying to the public any election matter by any means — television or other apparatus — during the 48 hours that end with the conclusion of the poll in a constituency.A BJP delegation met the EC on Monday evening to counter grand alliance’s claim.

OROP scheme will be implemented after Bihar elections, says Parrikar

Panaji: The One Rank, One Pension (OROP) for retired military personnel will be implemented after the Bihar elections, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday.

He also said that contentious issues including those related to premature retirement had been resolved, conceding that the inclusion of the phrase Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) in the declaration announced by his ministry in September had triggered confusion.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

“I think I will have to wait up for the Bihar elections, because the Election Commission is in no mood to give permission to actually issue the order. This is my understanding. I will not like to be in part of controversy,” Parrikar said during a public interaction near here.

“The notification will be issued after Bihar election because I do not want to get notice by Election Commission,” he said.

Parrikar clarified that “those who get premature retirement will get OROP even in future”.

“That confusion started because the word VRS was a part of the declaration. The interpretation got slightly mixed up. It was not (done) intentionally,” he said.

IANS

Grand alliance complains to EC over PM Modi’s rally at Bhabua, alleges it will be violation of model code of conduct

The grand alliance of JD (U), RJD and Congress on Sunday lodged a complaint with the Election Commission over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled rally at Bhabua, Bihar, tomorrow and said that its live telecast would be violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

The grand alliance of JD (U), RJD and Congress on Sunday lodged a complaint with the Election Commission over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled rally at Bhabua, Bihar, on and said that its live telecast would be violation of the Model Code of Conduct.”Prime Minister Modi’s (Bhabhua) rally on Monday is in the same place where polling is scheduled to take place. On one side, the people will cast their votes and the Prime Minister’s rally would be telecast on the other side, which will affect the voters and it would be violation of the Model Code of Conduct,” JD (U) leader K.C. Tyagi told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We met the representatives of the Chief Election Commissioner and briefed them over the Model Code of Conduct’s Article 126,” he added. Another JD (U) leader Pawan Verma, who was also the part of the delegation, questioned the timing of Prime Minister Modi’s rally.”The first phase of Bihar elections is tomorrow. Is it a co-incidence that Prime Minister Modi begins his tour in neighbouring area on the same day?” he added. Congress leader Ajay Maken said that he requested the Election Commission to ban campaigning 48 hours before polling for the first phase.

Bihar Polls: Election Commission to review poll speeches of PM modi

Additional Chief Electoral Officer (ACEO) R Lakshamanan said the model code conduct committee under the Munger district magistrate would look into the PM’s speeches.
File Photo
PTI
Election Commission will review Prime Minister Narendra Modi speeches on Thursday to see if anything has been said which violates the model code of conduct.Additional Chief Electoral Officer (ACEO) R Lakshamanan said the model code conduct committee under the Munger district magistrate would look into the PM’s speeches. He was replying to questions whether Election Commission would probe words like ‘shaitan’ and ‘Yaduvanshi’ used by the prime minister during his speeches in Munger and other places today.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is a standard practise to review speeches of all political leaders to see if there is any violation of model code of conduct,” Lakshamanan added.Addressing an election rally at Munger during the day, the prime minister had said RJD chief Lalu Prasad cannot absolve himself of his controversial beef remarks by claiming that it was the “shaitan” (devil) on his tongue which made him say it.”I want to know how the shaitan got the address (of Prasad) … He recognises that it was the shaitan in a manner that is similar to people recognising their relatives.”Ridiculing Prasad’s remarks that it was the ‘devil’ under whose influence he made the beef remarks, Modi said “So far we were fighting (political rivals) human beings. Now a shaitan has entered a human body which is after us.” The PM also blamed RJD chief for insulting “Yaduvanshis” by his utterances.”What all did he (Prasad) eat? It (the remarks) insulted the Yaduvanshis … Laluji these Yaduvanshis helped you to come to power. Was it not an insult of Yadavs and Bihar?” he said.The PM made similar reference in his speeches at Begusarai and Samastipur too.

Age discrepancy row: BJP urges Election Commission to probe papers of Lalu’s son Tejaswi

“They have mentioned their age in the affidavit as it is given in their voter identity card…age in voter card is final…If age is written as 80 on the voter ID it will be final and has to be mentioned in the nomination papers,” the RJD chief told reporters.

The age discrepancy in the affidavits of two sons of RJD President Lalu Prasad in which the younger one has been mentioned as one year older than his elder brother, is snowballing into a controversy with the BJP urging the Election Commission to probe the papers of the younger brother, Tejaswi Prasad Yadav.The RJD supremo, however, appeared unperturbed about it and said what was mentioned in the voter card was final.”They have mentioned their age in the affidavit as it is given in their voter identity card…age in voter card is final…If age is written as 80 on the voter ID it will be final and has to be mentioned in the nomination papers,” the RJD chief told reporters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They are making unnecessary controversy about the issue,” he said in an apparent dig at the BJP.The affidavit filed by Tejaswi, who is contesting from the Raghopur assembly seat in Vaishali district, shows his age as 26 years.Like his father, he too took recourse to the voter card logic and said, “One has to enter the age as is written in voter ID,” Tejaswi Yadav told reporters.”There might be a printing error in the voter ID,” he said and asked, “What’s so big about it?” Meanwhile, the affidavit filed by the RJD chief’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav while submitting his nomination from the Mahua Assembly seat in Vaishali district shows his age as 25 years.BJP state President Mangal Pandey urged the Election Commission to take cognisance of the matter and probe the nomination papers submitted by Tejaswi Prasad Yadav. As Tejaswi is the younger brother, he should be younger than 25 years if his elder brother is 25 year old, he said.Talking to reporters, Pandey also alleged that there was “some design” in mentioning Tejaswi Yadav’s educational qualification as IX pass from Delhi Public School, R K Puram, Delhi.”I am sure Tejaswi has studied above standard IX. Had standard X been mentioned in the nomination, the board certificate would have revealed his true age,” Pandey alleged.BJP General Secretary and In-charge of Bihar Bhupendra Yadav took a potshot at the RJD chief saying, “When he cannot keep his house in order, how will he take care of the state?” LJP Parliamentary Board chief and MP Chirag Paswan said, “The jungle raj during RJD was so pervading that they registered their age according to their own free will.”

Had offered Cabinet berth to Ramdas Athawale but he didn’t respond: Shiv Sena

Athawale, a Rajya Sabha member, has been asking the Devendra Fadnavis-led government for a ministerial berth in the state Cabinet since the BJP formed the government.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Amid demands from RPI(A) chief Ramdas Athawale for ministerial post in the Maharashtra dispensation, the Shiv Sena on Sunday said it had offered its Cabinet berth at the Centre to the Dalit leader but he did not respond to it.Athawale, a Rajya Sabha member, has been asking the Devendra Fadnavis-led government for a ministerial berth in the state Cabinet since the BJP formed the government.”Our party was ready to give up our portfolio at the Centre and present it to Ramdas Athawale. I feel that he should definitely get a ministerial berth at the Centre,” Sena leader and Maharashtra Environment minister Ramdas Kadam told reporters here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Uddhavji himself had given his offer to Athawale at Matoshree as he felt that he deserved it. But there was no clear response then,” he said.Senior Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete is the Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister at the Centre.In a terse response to Kadam’s comments, Athawale said that he would not do “just anything” to get a ministerial berth and that he values his partners more than anything else. Athawale had, in the run up to the Lok Sabha election, sewed up an alliance with the BJP and other smaller parties, while the Sena had contested alone.”I do not do just anything to get a ministerial berth at the Centre. For me, my associates are more important. If (late BJP stalwart) Gopinath Munde would have been alive, he would have firmly stood behind me today. Even though the Election Commission has deregistered my party, nobody can take away the immense popularity that we enjoy among people,” the RPI(A) leader said.The Maharashtra Election Commission (SEC) had last week deregistered 16 state-level political parties in Maharashtra, including the Ramdas Athawale-led RPI faction, for alleged failure to submit income tax returns and audited accounts between 2005 and 2014.Despite sending reminders to them and extending the deadline on request of some of the political parties, these 16 parties allegedly failed to submit any documents, leading to their deregistration, the SEC had said in its statement.

ATM cash vans under lens to check black money in Bihar polls

These vans are run by private security agencies and engaged by various banks. These vehicles are usually exempted from the checks as they are contracted by banks after necessary due diligence, they said.

Hundreds of vehicles carrying cash for Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across Bihar are under the scanner of revenue intelligence agencies to check use of black money during the upcoming Assembly polls in the state.Banks have been asked to maintain a record of cash being ferried in these vehicles all the time and produce it on demand by the officials engaged in checking illegal flow of money ahead of the elections, official sources said.These vans are run by private security agencies and engaged by various banks. These vehicles are usually exempted from the checks as they are contracted by banks after necessary due diligence, they said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Necessary instructions have been passed on to the banks and officials to check these vans. There is a possibility to route illegal cash through these vehicles,” a source said.The Election Commission has also issued instructions in this regard.Polling for the 243-member Bihar Assembly will be held on October 12, 16, 18 and November 1 and 5. The counting will take place on November 8.All government agencies are maintaining strict vigil to check the flow of illegal money ahead of the polls.The election machinery in poll-bound state has so far seized over Rs 12 crore, which is more than double the amount confiscated in the state during Lok Sabha polls last year.During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the authorities had seized Rs 6 crore from Bihar which was believed to be meant to influence voters.The Election Commission has issued comprehensive instructions for effective monitoring of the poll expenditure of the candidates, which include formation of flying squads, static and video surveillance teams, involvement of investigation directorates of Income Tax department, etc.State excise department and police authorities have been also asked to monitor production, distribution, sale and storage of liquor and other intoxicants during the election process.For greater transparency and for ease of monitoring of election expenses, candidates are required to open a separate bank account and incur their election expenses from that.The investigation directorate of Income Tax department has been asked to open air intelligence units at the airports and also to gather intelligence and take necessary action against movement of large sum of money.There will be 80 expenditure observers during the polls in addition to 243 general observers–one for each constituency.

BJP complains to EC against JD(U), RJD’s remarks on Amit Shah

“The whole world knows about Amit Shah’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. He is a ‘narbhakshi’,” Lalu said.

File Photo
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday lodged a complaint with the Election Commission (EC) against leaders of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal (United) for allegedly using indecent words for BJP president Amit Shah. RJD chief Lalu Yadav had earlier called Shah a ‘cannibal’, saying, “The whole world knows about Amit Shah’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. He is a ‘narbhakshi’.”He added that it was beyond his understanding that why Shah was walking around fearless in Bihar ahead of the Assembly polls. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: Lalu calls Amit Shah ‘man eater’, BJP hits back

Allahabad HC orders inclusion of transgender candidates in poll-related forms

Lucknow: The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on Wednesday directed Uttar Pradesh government and state Election Commission to provide for inclusion of third gender/transgender candidates in the documents of panchayat elections, including nomination paper.

Representational image. IBNLive

Representational image. IBNLive

A division bench of chief justice DY Chandrachud and justice Shree Narain Shukla gave the order on a PIL seeking a direction for providing the column for third/transgender candidates in related documents/forms of ongoing panchayat election process in UP.

According to the petitioner’s counsel SK Mishra, no column for third or transgender candidates was available in election-related forms, including nomination paper, because of which candidates of such categories were facing problem.

The court, while fixing hearing of this matter next week, directed the respondents to provide a column for third gender.

PTI

Bihar polls: FIR lodged against Lalu Prasad for ‘casteist’ remarks

An FIR was lodged against RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Tuesdat for making allegedly casteist remarks as the Election Commission prima facie found them violative of the model of conduct for assembly elections in Bihar.

Lalu Prasad Yadav
Arijit Sen
dna
An FIR was lodged against RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Tuesdat for making allegedly casteist remarks as the Election Commission prima facie found them violative of the model of conduct for assembly elections in Bihar. The FIR was registered with Ganga bridge police station in Vaishali district against Lalu Prasad by Circle Officer Raghopur Neeranjan Kumar in connection with his casteist remark, SP, Vaishali district, Rakesh Kumar told PTI.The Circle Officer, who was deputed as magistrate during the election meeting of the RJD chief on Sunday last for his son Tejaswi Yadav in Raghopur, was ordered by District Magistrate of Vaishali Rachna Patil to get a case registered in the matter.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Launching his campaign from Raghopur, the RJD supremo had described the assembly elections as a direct fight between “the backward castes and forward castes” and gave a call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind the secular alliance to defeat BJP-led NDA.Additional Chief Election Officer R Lakshamanan said that the case was registered against the RJD chief on the basis of video footage of his utterances at a political meeting in Raghopur on Sunday.The video footage showed violation of model code and provision of Representation of Peoples Act hence a case has been registered, Lakshamanan said.Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had yesterday said that any casteist remark was a breach of EC guidelines and the Commission would deal with such matters under its legal framework. He had also said the Election Commission would find out the details of the alleged casteist remarks by Prasad and take appropriate action.Also Read: RJD chief Lalu Prasad says he will continue fighting for OBC, Dalits and poor

RJD chief Lalu Prasad says he will continue fighting for OBC, Dalits and poor

The RJD chief wrote on the micro-blogging site that even if PM Modi filed petition in the United Nations against him, he would not take rest towards getting reservation quota increased and caste census report published.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Unfazed by Election Commission scanner for casteist remark, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on Tuesday made a blistering attack at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and said that he would not sit quietly in waging battle for the backwards, Dalits and poor even if they decide to “hang” him.”Let Modi give Bharat Ratna to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for ending reservation…even if they decide to hang me for waging battle for backwards, Dalits and poor, I will not sit quietly,” Prasad tweeted, a day after EC took notice of his “backward and forward castes” comment at Raghopur on Sunday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The RJD chief further wrote on the micro-blogging site that even if PM Modi filed petition in the United Nations against him, he would not take rest towards getting reservation quota increased and caste census report published. Prasad’s alleged cast remark during campaigning for his son Tejaswi Yadav at Raghopur on Sunday last has come under the Election Commission lens.Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had said on Monday that any casteist remark was a breach of EC guidelines and the commission would deal with such matters under its legal framework. He had also said the Election Commission would find out the details of the alleged casteist remarks by Prasad and take appropriate action.The RJD supremo had described the crucial Assembly elections in Bihar as a direct fight between “the backward castes and forward castes” and gave a call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind the secular alliance to defeat the BJP-led NDA.

Bihar elections: Rs 11.91 lakh in cash, 18,684 litre liquor seized

In a drive undertaken under the Election Commission’s direction, the police on Friday seized unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 11.91 lakh, 18,684 litre of liquor and arms and ammunition from various parts of Bihar to facilitate a free and fair Assembly election in the state.

Representational Image

dna Research & Archives
In a drive undertaken under the Election Commission’s direction, the police on Friday seized unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 11.91 lakh, 18,684 litre of liquor and arms and ammunition from various parts of Bihar to facilitate a free and fair Assembly election in the state.A release issued by the Chief Electoral Officer said that the police made the seizure from the districts of Madhubani, Bhojpur, Nawada, Vaishali, Munger and Supaul.Besides, police seized 18,684 litres of liquor, one magazine, two base machine and one drill machine from Munger district, the release said, adding that an illegal minigun factory was busted in Khagaria district and dismantled a distillery unit in the same district.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The seizure of arms and explosives consisted of nine arms/weapons, two explosives, 27 cartridges and five bombs, the release said.Meanwhile, Chief Electoral Officer Ajay V Nayak held a meeting with representatives of various political parties over election-related publicity on All India Radio and it was decided that the time and date for the same was arrived at via lottery draw.Another meeting of the CEO with the political parties will be held tomorrow for allotment of time for election-related publicity through Doordarshan by these parties.

UP Panchayat polls: First phase of voting on October 9

The Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls will be held in two parts, with the first leg of voting to begin on October 9, state Election Commission said on Monday.

Representational Image

dna Research & Archives
The Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls will be held in two parts, with the first leg of voting to begin on October 9, state Election Commission said on Monday.State Election Commissioner (SEC) S K Agarwal told reporters here that the panchayat polls would be held in two parts. The first part would elect Zila Panchayat and block development members whereas village heads and panchayat members would be elected in the second leg, he said.The first part would be held in four phases – October 9, 13, 17 and 29 – and counting would be held on November 1. The voting dates for the second leg of the election would be announced later on, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Agarwal said 11.36 lakh electorates would elect 77,576 block development members and 3,112 Zila Panchayat members. Of the total electorates, around 52% are in the age group of 18 to 35 years, he said.The SEC said 78,598 polling centers and 1,78,588 booths would be set up, categorised as general, sensitive and super sensitive categories.”A fourth category ‘super sensitive plus’ has been created for the first time where videography of entire polling will be done so that it could be reviewed in case of any complaint,” he said.Agarwal said the number of such centers would not exceed more than 10% of the total number of centers. He said the state government had requested 423 companies of central paramilitary forces but it was not accepted.Instead, a total 3 lakh security personnel would be deployed, including police, homeguards and village chowkidars for the elections, considered as semifinal to the 2017 assembly elections in the state.130 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) would also be deployed for the smooth conduct of the polls, the officer added.

Election Commission to issue notification for second phase of Bihar polls today

The Election Commission of India (ECI) will issue a notification for the second phase of assembly elections in Bihar on Monday.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) will issue a notification for the second phase of assembly elections in Bihar on Monday. Voting of this phase will be held on October 16 in 32 constituencies out of 243 assembly seats. Last day of nomination paper is 28th September. Scrutiny will be on next day 29th September.Candidates can withdraw their nomination paper till 1st October. Polls to the 243-seat Bihar Assembly will be held in five phases between the 12th of next month and the 5th of November. The counting of votes will take place on November 8.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The term of the current Assembly expires on 29th November.

dna Must Read: From Patels v/s Patels in US ahead of Modi’s visit to Alexis Tsipras returning as Greek PM

Patels v/s Patels in US ahead of Modi’s visit; one group to hold protest while the other calls it politically motivated

Patels v/s Patels in US ahead of Modi’s visit; one group to hold protest while the other calls it politically motivatedAn influential section of the Patel community on Sunday said they are opposed to a planned rally against Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits the US this week while another group in the Silicon Valley said they would hold protests against him over the handling of the recent reservation agitation in Gujarat. Read More<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP leader Jay Banerjee sparks controversy, says Election Commission in our handsActor-turned BJP leader Jay Banerjee on Sunday sparked controversy by saying that the Election Commission of India was under his party’s control and the next Assembly election would be conducted under Army surveillance. Read MoreBCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya dies, East Zone holds the key to his successorSome called him Old Fox for his shrewdness; some others paid tribute to his financial acumen by giving him the sobriquet ‘Dollarmiya’. But for those who knew him up, close and personal, Jagmohan Dalmiya was just ‘Jaggu da’, an affable man who lived and breathed cricket. Read MoreGreek leftist Alexis Tsipras returns in unexpectedly decisive vote winGreek leftist Alexis Tsipras stormed back into office with an unexpectedly decisive election victory on Sunday, claiming a clear mandate to steer Greece’s battered economy to recovery. The vote ensured Europe’s most outspoken leftist leader would remain Greece’s dominant political figure, despite having been abandoned by party radicals last month after he caved in to demands for austerity to win a bailout from the euro zone. Read More

Mann ki Baat: PM Modi pitches for greater voter turnout, praises Election Commission

Ahead of Bihar Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitched for greater voter turnout in elections and particularly urged the youth to enrol as voters and exercise their franchise.

Narendra Modi (File Picture)

Ahead of Bihar Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitched for greater voter turnout in elections and particularly urged the youth to enrol as voters and exercise their franchise.In his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme on radio, he also appreciated the role of the Election Commission in creating awareness among people about their electoral rights and enrolling voters in greater numbers by evolving various programmes. Modi did not mention the upcoming Bihar polls but was generally responding to a suggestion by a phone-in caller on greater enrolment of youth as voters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He emphasised that it was essential for everybody to register as voters and “definitely” exercise franchise. Recalling his slogan ‘pehle matdaan, fir jalpaan (first vote, then eat), Modi said exercising franchise is “noble work” and everyone should do it. He said in a democracy, every voter is a dispenser of destiny and every person should ensure that their “priceless right” of being a voter is still intact by checking the electoral roll.”It should be a practice for every person to assess whether he or she is exercising the right to vote. Patting the Election Commission, he said earlier, it used to be “just a regulator. But over the last few years, the Election Commission has been instrumental in bringing about a change in the mindset of voters. It is now not only a regulator but also a facilitator… It is a welcome change.” At the same time, he said the task of creating awareness should not be left to the Election Commission only but others should also contribute.”Only the EC taking steps is not enough. We have to spread awareness in schools, colleges and mohallas not only during elections. The electoral roll should continue to be upgraded (with new names being added to it),” he said. He expressed happiness over increase in voter percentage over the years.In last year’s Lok Sabha polls, India witnessed the highest-ever voter turnout of 66.38%. The overall turnout in all the nine phases of polling last year stood at 66.38%, posting the highest in the history of Lok Sabha elections, surpassing the previous best of 64.01% in 1984 in the wake of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The turnout in 2009 was 58.19%.

Bihar seeks 700 central paramilitary companies for polls

Polls for the 243-member Bihar Assembly will be held in five phases starting on October 12 and ending on November 5. Counting of votes will take place on November 8.

dna Research & Archives
Over seven hundred central paramilitary companies are expected to be deployed for the Bihar Assembly elections. Nearly 220 companies have already reached different parts of the state. The Election Commission has instructed that only central paramilitary forces be deployed at all polling booths in the state. According to reports, drones will be used for the first time in the Naxal-hit parts of the state. Polls for the 243-member Bihar Assembly will be held in five phases starting on October 12 and ending on November 5. Counting of votes will take place on November 8. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Congress to ask Election Commission to ban PM Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ till Bihar polls are over: Report

The MyGov platform, had earlier invited people to record messages in either Hindi or English, for ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on the toll-free number 1800 3000 7800.

The Congress party will meet the Election Commission on Wednesday demanding ban on PM Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ till the Bihar elections get over.According to reports, Congress, PM Modi’s show violates code of conduct. During his ‘Mann Ki Baat’, Modi discusses various topics of national interest.Congress president Rahul Gandhi has often targeted the prime minister saying instead of expressing his own ‘Mann ki Baat’, he should listen to what people want.On Tuesday, Modi urged people to record voice messages for ‘Mann Ki Baat’. The next edition of the programme will be broadcast this Sunday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The MyGov platform, had earlier invited people to record messages in either Hindi or English, for ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on the toll-free number 1800 3000 7800.

Election Commission orders transfer of key officials in Bihar

Shooting an express order on Friday on behalf of the Election Commission, principal secretary, K P Srivastava, asked chief secretary of Bihar to transfer nine district magistrates (DMs) and seven superintendents of police (SPs) of key and sensitive districts and asked Bihar administration to file a compliance report within 24 hours.

The Election Commission has ordered wide-ranging transfer of senior government officials, including serving home secretary Amir Subhani, in Bihar for smooth and fair conduct of five-phased assembly elections beginning from October 12.Shooting an express order on Friday on behalf of the Election Commission, principal secretary, K P Srivastava, asked chief secretary of Bihar to transfer nine district magistrates (DMs) and seven superintendents of police (SPs) of key and sensitive districts and asked Bihar administration to file a compliance report within 24 hours.The EC has ordered home secretary Amir Subhani to be replaced by Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, IAS officer of 1983 batch.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Subhani may be given any other assignment/post by the state government, as deem fit,” said EC.The nine DMs the EC has ordered to be transferred are – Pratima S K Verma (Patna), Sanjay Aggarwal (Gaya), Kumar Ravi (Darbhanga), Devesh Sehera (Kaimur), Bala Murugan (Purnea), Kuldip Narayan (Madhubani), Sanjay Kumar Singh (Katihar), Gopal Meena (Lakhisarai) and M Ramchandrudu (Supaul).In addition, the seven SSPs/SPs that have been ordered to be transferred are Vikas Vaibhav (Patna), Manu Maharaj (Gaya), Nishant Tiwary (Purnea), Ms. Kim (Supaul), Vikas Burman (Nawada), Deepak Burnwal (Lakhisarai) and Garima Malik (Patna-Rural).In addition, the commission has further directed that the officers who are transferred from districts are not posted to any election related post.

Bihar Home Secretary, 9 District Magistrates and 7 SPs transferred by Election Commission

Last month, the Election Commission had ordered transfer of officials connected to the conduct of elections, who are either posted in their home districts or have served in places for long, as part of its procedure to ensure free and fair elections.

During the Model Code of Conduct, the Election Commission has superintendence over the administrative machinery and is free to transfer officers.

Ahead of Bihar assembly polls slated next month, the Election Commission on Friday ordered the transfer of state Home Secretary Amir Subhani, nine district magistrates and seven senior police official including SPs and SSPs and said those transferred from districts should not be posted to any election-related post. It asked the state Chief Secretary to send the poll body with a ‘compliance report’ within 24 hours along with copies of transfer orders.The EC also appointed Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, 1983 bath IAS officer, as the new Home Secretary.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Since Subhani was also Secretary in charge of General Administration Department besides being the Home Secretary, the EC said the state government could post any other secretary-rank officer to the post. It said Subhani “may be given any other assignment/post by the state government, as deem fit.”During the Model Code of Conduct, the EC has superintendence over the administrative machinery and is free to transfer officers.District Magistrate-cum-District Election Officer of Patna Pratima Verma and Patna SSP Vikas Vaibhav are among the senior administrative and police officers transferred by the poll watchdog.Last month, the Election Commission had ordered transfer of officials connected to the conduct of elections, who are either posted in their home districts or have served in places for long, as part of its procedure to ensure free and fair elections.In a letter addressed to Chief Secretary and Chief Electoral Officer of Bihar, the poll watchdog, however, had made it clear that the transfer-posting order will not apply to Sector Officers though they are directly involved with the poll process.”The Commission, in its task of conducting free and fair elections has followed the consistent policy to ensure that officers, who are connected with the conduct of elections in the state, do not serve in their home districts or places where they have served for long,” it had said.

Bihar polls: Jitan Ram Manjhi says will agree with BJP’s decision on seat-sharing

The Election Commission announced the dates for Bihar assembly polls on Wednesday

Jitan Ram Manjhi

Continuing his tirade against the grand alliance of Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday said that BJP chief Amit Shah would take a final call on seat sharing for the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls. “We want Amit Shah to decide on seats in a way that would benefit the alliance in Bihar. Whatever he decides, we will agree,” said Manjhi. “Nitish and Lalu focused only on construction projects and totally ignored the social sector because through infrastructure they could take huge commissions and play with the estimate and earn a lot. It is because of this that Bihar has become so poor,” added Manjhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission announced the dates for Bihar assembly polls on Wednesday. The five-phase election will be held from October to November; the first phase will take place on October 12 and the final phase will be held on November 5. Counting of votes will take place on November 8.

Infographic: How Bihar will vote in five-phased Assembly election 2015

Assembly elections in Bihar will be fought in five phases between 12 October and 5 November, announced the Election Commission in a press conference on Wednesday.

Counting of votes will be held on 8 November, just three days before Diwali and the locally significant Chhath puja that follows the festival of lights.

The term of the current Assembly expires on 29 November. According to the Election Commission, out of the 243 constituencies, 38 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and two for Scheduled Tribes. A total of 6,68,26,658 voters will exercise their right to franchise in 62,779 polling stations.

The battle for power in Bihar assumes significance in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the NDA charge after BJP’s debacle in the Delhi assembly polls early this year. Recently Modi announced a Rs 1.65 lakh crore package for Bihar.

The BJP and the ruling JD(U) ended the alliance after eight years in power when Nitish Kumar parted ways over Modi being anointed NDA’s prime ministerial candidate for the Lok Sabha elections.

Noting that a number of important festivals like Dussehra, Eid, Muharram, Diwali and Chhath will fall in the election period, Zaidi said the Commission will ensure communal harmony and peace.

Bihar

(With inputs from PTI)

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Bihar polls likely to be in five phases

The Election Commission had a detailed meeting with top Home Ministry officials on Friday on deployment of security forces during the polls that may be held next month.

Bihar Assembly election to be announced shortly is expected to be five-phased and around 50,000 paramilitary personnel will be deployed in each phase to ensure peaceful polling.The Election Commission had a detailed meeting with top Home Ministry officials on Friday on deployment of security forces during the polls that may be held next month. There is a demand of about 500 companies (around 100 personnel each) of paramilitary forces for each phase of polling and the Home Ministry will provide all the required forces, sources said. Apart from the central forces, state police will also be deployed extensively during the elections.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The term of the 243-member Bihar Assembly comes to an end on November 29. The Election Commission is likely to announce the schedule of the high-voltage Bihar Assembly polls later in the next few days. After ruling the state for ten years, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is seeking a third term this time in alliance with RJD and Congress after he walked out of NDA in June, 2013 snapping 17-year-old ties with BJP.BJP, which had almost swept the state in the Lok Sabha polls in alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP, is hoping to repeat its performance and slamming Kumar for aligning with Lalu Prasad, a convict in fodder scam case

Bihar polls 2015: CEC Nasim Zaidi meets district officials to discuss security plans for the upcoming elections

He said that the the EC’s district level officials were asked to propagate information about the entire electoral process so citizens left out will able to register to vote. He spoke about when the photo voter list would be available, “The photo voter list has to be distributed at least 5 days before. We have issued a helpline 1950 on district level, for assistance.”

Nasim Zaidi (Source: Election Commission of India website)

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi and other senior Election Commission officials on Saturday met district-level officials to discuss security plans for the Bihar assembly elections. They had arrived in Patna yesterday to assess preparations for the upcoming polls.He said that the the EC’s district level officials were asked to propagate information about the entire electoral process so citizens left out will able to register to vote. He spoke about when the photo voter list would be available, “The photo voter list has to be distributed at least 5 days before. We have issued a helpline 1950 on district level, for assistance.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Zaidi said that that voter list given to the candidates and the one available with the presiding officer will have to be identical. “Good thing about electoral rolls here (Patna) is that there is 99.98% photo electoral roll,” he added. He spoke about the requests made by political parties. He said that they had asked the EC to make effective arrangements so that weaker sections do not feel threatened. “They have highlighted the need to maintain social and communal harmony during election process. They have requested the Election Commission to take appropriate steps so that communal harmony is maintained all throughout the process,” Zaidi said.He said that the parties have requested the Election Commission to establish a single window system so that they are able to get permissions in time.He ensured that the district officials were ordered to field level machinery on basis of feedback received from parties and some of seior officials suggestions. “We have directed them that they will have to re-dedicate themselves to conduct fair, peaceful and voter friendly,” he said.The assembly polls in Bihar, slated for late this year, will be a heated affair, with six parties having merged under the Janata Parivar banner contesting against the BJP and the Congress.

Bihar Elections likely to be held in four or five phases

Election Commission sources said hectic work is on to tie up various issues before the full commission makes a visit to the Bihar for assessing the preparedness of the state’s electoral machinery ahead of finalising the poll schedule.

The high-stakes battle for Bihar, essentially between BJP and the ‘Janata Parivar’ is likely to be fought in a multi-phased election to the Assembly, probably between late October and early November sandwiched between festivals.Election Commission sources said hectic work is on to tie up various issues before the full commission makes a visit to the Bihar for assessing the preparedness of the state’s electoral machinery ahead of finalising the poll schedule. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti are likely to visit Patna early next month for discussions with top officials of the administration and police and representatives of political parties.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Commission is said to be looking at a window before festival season starts late October or to squeeze some phases between Dussehra and Diwali for holding the polls. Though a final decision is yet to be taken on the number of phases, it is likely to between four or five. The term of the 243-member Bihar assembly ends on November 29 and the new House should be in place before that. Elections under the Constitution can be held anytime six months before the due date.After the thrashing in the Delhi Assembly elections, the BJP is setting great store by the Bihar elections where foes– Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad–have come together in an uneasy alliance. The Bihar polls will be followed by a round of Assembly elections in various states including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Assam.As the Commission prepares to publish the final electoral rolls on July 31, a team sent by the poll panel to Bihar briefed it on Friday about the election preparedness of the official machinery. The team briefed the Commission about the progress in preparing the electoral rolls, vulnerability mapping of sensitive constituencies, awareness campaign for voters to get their names included in electoral rolls and threat perception.Since Bihar will be a stand-alone election, EC hopes to get the required number of personnel from central forces for the assembly polls without much ado. The festival of chhath, which is an important event in Bihar, falls six days after Diwali that will be celebrated on November 11. Election Commission had dispatched four special teams of ‘auditors’ to the state for weeding out duplicate entries from electoral rolls.The four teams comprising six officers each are part of the Commission’s newly-set up Regulatory Audit Division and Bihar is their first assignment. The Audit Division has been mandated to detect specific instances of non-adherence to the Commission’s guidelines or legal provisions required to be followed by the field election machinery.Soon after the publication of electoral rolls on July 31, the state electoral machinery will commence the process of updating of electoral rolls to ensure that those left out are included. The EC will have to take into account weather conditions, festivals, exams, holidays, heavy monsoon, heavy rain and floods before arriving at exact schedule.The poll watchdog has undertaken mapping of all constituencies of Bihar into three categories. Where EC finds maximum sensitivity, it plans to deploy central police forces “well in time,” a senior Commission functionary said. The Commission would be using voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) in 36 of the 243 assembly constituencies but the number could increase.VVPAT is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballotless voting system. An EVM will have a small attachment to it which after pressing the button for a desired candidate, will print that name on a paper. It will be stored inside the machine and can be used in case of any controversy over the final result.Considering Left-wing extremism that affects parts of the state, an assessment of central paramilitary forces is also going on.

Bihar assembly polls: EC says candidates can’t take donations, loans over Rs 20,000 in cash

The new guidelines given out on June 9, orders chief electoral officers in states to notify candidates and political parties that they must have a separate bank account for election campaigns.

The Election Commission (EC) has given out directives to candidates contesting Bihar elections that disallow accepting donations or loans over Rs 20,000 in cash.The candidate’s expenditure on hiring and deploying of vehicles for campaigning will also be a part of election expenses and not that of party’s spending.From the beginning of the Bihar elections, candidates will have to maintain a separate account for all donations and loans he/she receives during campaigning for amounts in excess of Rs 20,000. Just as political parties receive funds, the candidates must take donations only in the form of crossed account payee cheques or bank drafts.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This directive has been issued owing to a large amount of cash seizures in other states. The EC and the income tax had seized over Rs 275 crore in cash from candidates’ associates during 2014 Lok Sabha. After being caught, the people claimed the money was donation for the party. The new guidelines given out on June 9, orders chief electoral officers in states to notify candidates and political parties that they must have a separate bank account for election campaigns. Parties need to provide funds to the candidates via cash transfers only.The candidate must also intimate the returning officer if he does not wish use the campaigning vehicle after two days of getting it. Without such notice, the expense for the vehicles will be added to his expenditure. The EC had received several complaints about candidates not declaring vehicles despite hiring them. The candidates attribute the expenditure to the parties as there is a cap for poll campaign expense for them, but not for parties.

Audio tape row: Congress demands MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s resignation

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh had earlier released an audio tape on his social media account, accusing Chouhan of seeking favours from BJP leader Rajesh Chaudhary in lieu of a better post following the Garoth Vidhan Sabha polls.

Congress leader Manak Agarwal on Friday said that his party would file a complaint with the Election Commission and demand strict action against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over his alleged audio tape. “This is highly condemnable, the Election Commission (EC) must take note of this. Congress will file a complaint with the EC and demand that strict action be taken against Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” said Agarwal. Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh had earlier released an audio tape on his social media account, accusing Chouhan of seeking favours from BJP leader Rajesh Chaudhary in lieu of a better post following the Garoth Vidhan Sabha polls.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Digvijay also demanded Chouhan’s resignation over the matter. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, was swift to deny the allegations. “It is a non-issue, just a part of Digvijay Singh ji’s dirty politics. Congress makes efforts to malign image of Shivraj Singh Chouhan before every election,” said BJP leader Vishwas Sarang.

Can’t act against parties not fulfilling poll promises: Election Commission

“On the issues of parties failing to fulfil their manifesto pledges, the EC has no constitution power. But on the Supreme Court’s order it has, after consultation with all recognised political parties, framed guidelines to be followed for election manifesto,” the election body said in an RTI reply.

File photo:

The Election Commission has said that it has no power to take action against political parties if they fail to deliver on their election promises even as it urged them to desist from making such commitments.”On the issues of parties failing to fulfil their manifesto pledges, the EC has no constitution power. But on the Supreme Court’s order it has, after consultation with all recognised political parties, framed guidelines to be followed for election manifesto,” the election body said in an RTI reply.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the direction on the election manifesto in part 8 of the Model Code of Conduct, it has been stated that the Supreme Court had on July 5, 2013 ordered the EC to frame guidelines in this regard in consultation with all recognised parties.The SC had said that a separate head for manifesto guidelines could be included in the ‘Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates’.The EC had thereafter discussed the issue with the representatives of all political parties. While some of the parties had agreed to the idea of framing guidelines on poll manifesto, others had dismissed it, saying that they have the right to make manifesto pledges in a democracy.The EC has in principle agreed to the political parties’ assertion that drafting a manifesto is their right but said that for the fair conduct of elections and to accord a level playing field to all parties and contesting candidates, it can’t disregard the effect of poll promises and freebies.The election body has also asked all the political parties to desist from making promises that bear consequences on the poll outcome.

J Jayalalithaa’s disqualification as election candidate ends

Sources in the Election Commission pointed out that “as per the operation of law, her disqualification is over following the court order.”

The disqualification of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa as a candidate in elections has ended following her acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in the disproportionate assets case, which she had suffered on her conviction last year.But she will have to contest the election again to become a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, EC sources said.Sources in the Election Commission pointed out that “as per the operation of law, her disqualification is over following the court order.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They, however, clarified that she will have to contest the election “again” to become a member of the legislative assembly. Jayalalithaa represented the Srirangam Assembly constituency which fell vacant from the date of her conviction — September 27.”The disqualification is over. But she will have to contest again,” they said, adding that the seats will not return to her automatically.In a hypothetical scenario, as per law she will have to contest polls within six months of the date she once again takes over as the Chief Minister of the state.In November last year she was disqualified from contesting elections for ten years following her conviction by a Special Court in Bangalore.Jayalalithaa was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail besides a fine of Rs 100 crore in the disproportionate assets case by a special court in Bangalore.She was released from jail in Bangalore on October 17 as per the Supreme Court order granting her bail in the case.”Consequent upon the conviction of Selvi J Jayalalithaa, Member of the Legislative Assembly, she stands disqualified for being a Member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly from the date of conviction, i.e., the 27th day of September, 2014 for the period of her sentence (four years),” the gazette notification dated November 8 issued by the Assembly secretariat read.It also said that she “shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since her release in terms of the existing Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.”

Government to give NRIs voting rights? All-party meeting soon

New Delhi: The government on Tuesday agreed to convene an all-party meeting to discuss its proposal to give NRIs the right to exercise their franchise by e-postal ballots or through proxy voting.

Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda accepted the demand of opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha that their views should be taken into consideration while enacting a legislation to grant voting rights to NRIs and domestic migrant labour.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Replying to a calling attention motion moved by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Law Minister made it clear that the government was acting on the Election Commission report regarding voting rights of over one crore NRIs and not as directed by the Supreme Court.

During the debate, Opposition members charged the government with taking up the matter against the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s directions, with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad saying they were not opposed to voting rights for NRIs but the way the Government has moved the proposal without discussing it with the political parties.

The Minister said the report had recommended the options of the e-postal ballot system and proxy voting and the government had submitted before the Supreme Court accepting the recommendations.

To ensure that secrecy and methodology is maintained, Gowda said “e-postal and postal ballot voting methodologies are being worked out for the voting rights of the NRIs”.

However, he agreed for an all-party meeting as demanded by several opposition parties like AIADMK, DMK, BJD, CPI, SP and JD-U.

On the crucial issue of voting rights for domestic migrant labours, he said the Election Commission would convene a meeting of the political parties to gather their views on this issue also.

“I (will) request Election Commision to hold all party meeting to get their feedback,” he said while adding that it was necessary for legislation on voting rights for migrant voters travelling across the country in search of work.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said there was a broad consensus at an all-party meeting called by Election Commission on the issue of voting rights for NRIs and the government would work in this direction.

PTI

Nasim Zaidi set to become new Chief Election Commissioner

Highly-placed sources in the government on Wednesday said that the Law Ministry has cited convention of appointing the senior-most EC as the CEC.

Nasim Zaidi
File Photo
Image courtesy: Election Commission of India
Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi is set to become the next Chief Election Commissioner later this month. The Law Ministry has initiated the file to appoint the next CEC as present incumbent H S Brahma retires on April 19. Highly-placed sources in the government on Wednesday said that the Law Ministry has cited convention of appointing the senior-most EC as the CEC. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving on a foreign tour tomorrow, there is sense of urgency to clear the paperwork on Wednesday as the file will travel to Rashtrapati Bhawan for the President to appoint the CEC.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> After Zaidi’s appointment, the government will set in motion the process to appoint two Election Commissioners to fill vacancies in the three-member body. “But as of now, we are appointing a new CEC. A decision on ECs will come later,” a senior government functionary said. After VS Sampath demitted office in January, Brahma was elevated as CEC. But the post which fell vacant after Brahma’s elevation has not been filled up so far. After Brahma retires on April 19, Zaidi will be the only member of the three-member poll watchdog. Zaidi will have a tenure up to July, 2017 when he attains the age of 65. An EC or a CEC has a tenure of six years in office or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier. A 1976 batch IAS officer, Zaidi has worked in the Civil Aviation Ministry for a long time. Also Read: Law panel bats for stronger Election Commission

Now, EVMs to have photographs of contesting candidates

New Delhi: To avoid confusion in the minds of the electorate in constituencies where namesakes are contesting, the Election Commission has decided that ballot papers will also carry pictures of the contestants besides their names and party symbols.

An EC direction to all Chief Electoral Officers of states and UTs said that for elections to be held from 1 May, 2015 onwards, the ballot papers, postal ballot papers and ballot papers to be displayed on EVMs will also carry the photographs of the candidates.

evm380evm380“The Commission has noted that there are many cases where candidates with same or similar names contest from the same constituency.

“Although appropriate suffixes are added to the names of candidates in the event or two or more candidates having same name, the Commission considers that additional measures are required for removing confusion in the minds of electors at the time of voting,” the EC direction said.

The EC pointed out that a writ petition on the subject is pending in the Supreme Court.

To allow CEOs add photographs to ballot papers, the EC has modified its existing directions issued under the Conduct of Election Rules.

The photograph will appear between the name of the candidate and his or her election symbol.

The Commission explained that if a candidate fails to provide the photograph, it “shall not be a ground for the rejection of the nomination of the candidate”.

The candidates will now be required to submit their very recent photograph, either black and white or coloured to election authorities at the time of filing nomination.

No uniforms would be allowed and caps and dark glasses have to be avoided, the EC said.

The poll watchdog had recently informed the Supreme Court that it is open to the idea of printing photographs of contesting candidates on the ballot papers.

PTI

Delhi polls: Kejriwal fears EVM tampering, wants banners outside booths

“We suspect EVM tampering. Tried to meet CEC yesterday. He was busy. Hope we will be able to meet him today. We urge CEC to allow us to put a banner outside each booth educating voters abt EVMs,” the AAP leader tweeted.

Aam Aadmi Party, which has been alleging that EVMs were being tampered with to favour BJP in February 7 Assembly election, today said they will urge the Election Commission to allow them to put banners outside polling booths educating the voters about the machines.”We urge CEC to allow us to put banners outside each booth educating voters abt EVMs,” AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal said on micro-blogging site Twitter.”We suspect EVM tampering. Tried to meet CEC yesterday. He was busy. Hope we will be able to meet him today,” he said in another tweet.Kejriwal had claimed yesterday that discrepancies were found during an inspection of four such machines at Delhi Cantonment area yesterday. He alleged that whatever button was pressed on the machines, the light against the BJP symbol lit up.AAP leaders had also approached the Election Commission last week to know what is the procedure if a voter finds such a discrepancy in an EVM.”They told us that if a voter observes that he pressed the button of Party A and the bulb lit against Party B’s name. They should bring it to notice of the officers on duty. The problem will be cross checked and if the machine is found to be faulty, it will be sealed and replaced and if required re-polling will be held on particular booth,” Kejriwal had said.AAP leader Ashutosh today said the party wants to put these banners on polling booths to make the voters aware.Also read: Faulty EVMs excuse by AAP for losing in Delhi polls: BJP
“We have received some complaints and there is some apprehension in the minds of people. Since BJP is desperate and they don’t want to lose at any cost, they might resort to tampering.”Hence, we will approach EC today to allow us to put the banners so that voters know that if there are any such problems, what steps they are supposed to follow,” he told reporters.

BJP should publicly apologise for Kejriwal ad, else we will approach Election Commission, says AAP

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday demanded a public apology from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for publishing a derogatory advertisement of the former’s chief ministerial candidate Arvind Kejriwal, adding that they would file a complaint to the Election Commission over the same.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday demanded a public apology from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for publishing a derogatory advertisement of the former’s chief ministerial candidate Arvind Kejriwal, adding that they would file a complaint to the Election Commission over the same.”I was aghast to see the advertisement. They have been using abusive language for Arvind Kejriwal. They have abused the community from which he belongs. Either they should withdraw the advertisement or apologize publicly. We will go to the Election Commission for the same,” said AAP spokesperson Ashutosh.Earlier on Saturday, the BJP had put up a newspaper advertisement targeting the Aam Aadmi Party and its chief. The ad portrays a caricature of Kejriwal, who swears on his children that he would never join hands with the Congress.This act by the BJP was criticized by various political parties. However, the party has gone silent on the matter.Also read: Arvind Kejriwal taunts Kiran Bedi over new BJP ad

Delhi BJP leaders plotting against Kiran Bedi: Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday claimed BJP leaders had told him that Kiran Bedi, the party’s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi polls, was a “scapegoat” even as he charged that the senior leaders of the saffron outfit were plotting against his one-time India Against Corruption colleague.

Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday claimed BJP leaders had told him that Kiran Bedi, the party’s chief ministerial candidate for Delhi polls, was a “scapegoat” even as he charged that the senior leaders of the saffron outfit were plotting against his one-time India Against Corruption colleague.”Bedi is a scapegoat… Vijay Goel, Satish Upadhyay, Harsh Vardhan are plotting against her,” he told a TV channel. Bedi and Kejriwal were part of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare’s core team when he was leading his agitation to press for the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament. On the campaign trail for Delhi polls, Kejriwal attempted to woo the rural electorate by promising maximum infrastructure and amenities for them if Aam Aadmi Party was voted to power.However, he did not repeat or make any reference to the controversial remarks in which he asks voters to take bribes from BJP and Congress but vote for AAP. Those comments had invited a rap from Election Commission on Kejriwal, who was asked not to repeat them. The AAP leader on Wednesday addressed rallies in the Mundka, Trinagar, Shakur Basti and Shalimar Bagh constituencies.At the first rally of the day at Khanjawala in Mundka constituency, where he was accompanied by party leader Kumar Vishwas, Kejriwal said, “Previous governments have always ignored the villagers, leaving them to live in a precarious condition. Now, we have prepared a road map to upgrade your living standards.” If “I (become) the chief minister, not even a single inch of your land would be taken away without your consent,” he said.Vishwas in his address, challenged Bedi to a public debate in front of the BJP headquarters.”I challenge Bedi to discuss issues with any of our leaders. I am even ready to debate with her in front of the BJP headquarters,” he said. Vishwas further said that many senior BJP leaders were “sulking”, which was going to be a big reason for the party’s debacle. “‘Harsh’ (Hindi for happiness) is absent from Harsh Vardhan’s face. Jagdish Mukhi has become Jagdish ‘Dukhi’ (sad). Party has already snubbed Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay. Many more leaders are there in line who are unhappy with this ‘imported’ leader,” he said in a reference to Bedi, who recently joined BJP and was made its nominee for the top post in Delhi.Arvind Kejriwal will move the High Court after the Assembly elections against the Election Commission (EC) order directing him to desist from commenting on BJP and Congress allegedly distributing money to voters, AAP said tonight. A spokesperson of the party said that, “We will move the High Court against the Election Commission after the election.But at the moment we will fully respect the EC order”. Earlier, the EC had warned Kejriwal that it will be constrained to take stern action against him in the event of any further violation. However, a senior AAP functionary said that the party will move HC because it believes his comments “were in the same spirit of the crusade against corruption waged by the party.”

Arvind Kejriwal repeats ‘accept bribe from Congress, BJP but vote for AAP’ comment

On a day when Election Commission (EC) “warned” him over his remarks asking voters to accept bribes from Congress and BJP but vote for his party, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal justified his remarks at back-to-back rallies here.

Representational image.

On a day when Election Commission (EC) “warned” him over his remarks asking voters to accept bribes from Congress and BJP but vote for his party, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal justified his remarks at back-to-back rallies here.EC had directed Kejriwal to “desist from making these utterances in all forms of election campaign… from today 7.00 PM onwards”, adding that any further violation of its orders would invite “stern action”.Interestingly, the two rallies — at Babarpur and Shahdara, during which he justified his remarks — were held before 7.00 PM. The AAP leader did not repeat the remarks at the Patparganj rally, which started after 7.00 PM.Kejriwal said, “What is bribery? It is taking money and then voting. However, I am forbidding voters to do so. I say, ‘take money from them but don’t vote for them. Rather give vote to us’.”
He also repeated the comments that had invited the EC’s ire, “It’s election time. When people both from BJP and Congress come offering money, don’t refuse, accept… Some have looted money from 2G, some have looted money from coal scam… Take money from both the parties but vote for AAP.” Meanwhile, at a press conference, AAP leaders seemed to duck media queries on Kejriwal’s remarks today even as they pointed to “media reports” in an attempt to offer a clarification on the issue.”You people (media) only report on EC seizing drugs, alcohol, money during every elections. There are media reports. Now these are facts that can hardly be denied. He (Kejriwal) is only trying to explain to people to not fall into such traps,” said AAP leader Ashish Khetan.
While issuing its order, EC took note of an undertaking by Kejriwal that he respects the poll body and the law and would stop making such appeals if the Commission finds his statements inappropriate.EC was responding to separate complaints by BJP and Congress against the AAP convener.At the Patparganj rally, which was also the party’s latest round as part of its Delhi Dialogue, Kejriwal claimed that some BJP leaders had called him to say that they would work together to defeat Kiran Bedi.”Some BJP leaders called me and told me ‘Arvindji, you don’t worry, we together will ensure that Kiran Bedi gets defeated’,” he said.Making a strong pitch for AAP, he said that if the party came to power here, he will make Delhi India’s “first corruption-free state”.”After February 10 (day of poll results), we, the people of Delhi, will make Delhi the best city in the world,” he said.Kejriwal also sought to allay apprehensions that the Lokpal Bill was no longer on the party’s agenda and said that AAP will pass the Jan Lokpal Bill if it wins power.”We have not forgotten the Lokpal Bill. We will pass the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj Bill after coming to power in Delhi,” he said.Addressing a rally at Jhilmil colony in the Shahdara constituency, he charted out the road map of governance if AAP was voted to power.”I have chalked out a plan for running the government for five years which would end the woes of the common man,” he said, adding that a team of “experts” has prepared the blueprint for the same over the last five months.”For women’s security, we will install CCTV cameras across the city. We will ensure availability of free Wi-fi all over Delhi. We will also provide one security guard on each bus to prevent eve-teasing,” he said.

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