BJP, Congress Cajole Rebels To Opt Out Of Madhya Pradesh Poll Race


Shivraj Singh Chouhan says top state BJP leaders are asking party rebels to opt out electoral race

Bhopal: 

The ruling BJP and the opposition Congress have gone into damage-control mode to get party rebels to withdraw from the fray in Madhya Pradesh, which goes to polls on November 28.

The state has a 230-member Assembly and sources from both parties believe that these rebels could prove to be the decisive factor in 30-odd seats.

The last date to withdraw nominations is November 14.

According to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state BJP chief Rakesh Singh, party vice-president Prabhat Jha and state organisational secretary Suhas Bhagat among others were contacting party rebels to get them to opt out of the electoral race.

“All our senior leaders are contacting our cadre who are fighting elections against the party’s nominees. Like in the past, they are going to withdraw from the race,” state BJP spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal claimed.

On behalf of the Congress, former chief minister Digvijay Singh was trying to persuade rebels to withdraw their candidatures, party sources said.

They said that MP Congress chief Kamal Nath, former Union minister Jyotriraditya Scindia, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ajay Singh were also involved in ensuring that the party’s official candidates don’t have to fight the rebels.

Digvijay Singh told rebels that the official candidates were chosen after many deliberations by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, and that the rebels should work in the interest of the party.

Prominent among the BJP rebels who are in the fray this time are Ramkrishna Kusumari, five-time lawmaker from the impoverished Bundelkhand region, who has filed his nomination papers from two Assembly seats, Damoh and Patharia, as an Independent candidate.

Likewise, former MP finance minister and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Raghavji Bhai is contesting elections on a SAPAKS (Samanya Pichra Alpsankhyak Kalyan Samaj) ticket from Shashabad in Vidisha district.

He is apparently angry over the BJP not giving a ticket to his daughter Jyoti Shah.

Similarly, former Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) state chief Dhiraj Pateriya is contesting from Jabalpur North as an Independent candidate.

The Congress’ rebel list includes former party spokesman Satyavrat Chaturvedi’s son Nitin who is contesting from Rajnagar seat in Bundelkhand region as a Samajwadi Party candidate after being denied a party ticket.

Similarly, Sahab Singh Gurjar is contesting from Gwalior Rural seat after the Congress refused him a ticket.

Former Congress lawmker Xavier Meda was in the fray against party candidate Vikrat Singh Bhuria from Jhabua. 





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Despite Naxal Threat, Chhattisgarh Poll Officers Firm On Executing Duties


Many Chhattisgarh areas will vote for the first time in 20 years.

Sukma/Bijapur: 

Crossing rivers barefoot, wading through jungles just sanitised by the accompanying security personnel and even airdropped by choppers into the Naxal-affected interiors, many on poll duty in Chhattisgarh feel like the real-life version of the protagonist from Bollywood dark comedy “Newton”, while some feel more like a revolutionary like Bhagat Singh.

They are public sector undertaking (PSU) employees, teachers, anganwadi and panchayat workers, among numerous others braving the treacherous terrain of the infamous Bastar region, which appear even more dangerous after a recent spurt in Naxal attacks ahead of the polls.

Many Chhattisgarh areas will vote for the first time in 20 years, while some security and local administration officials proudly declare that a few of those are yet to make it to the Google Maps.

Talking to them, the immediate recollection is of Rajkumar Rao-starrer “Newton”, a film that took a satirical look at the Naxal problem through the eyes of a poll officer.

Poll officers will have face numerous hurdles and life-threatening challenges, but none of them is complaining. A few of them admit being a bit afraid, but still want to do this.

A 25-year-old anganwadi worker, the mother of two children, from Sukma district, says she is doing this for her father and brother, both of whom were part of the Salwa Judum and killed by Naxals.

Salwa Judum (meaning “Peace March”) was a militia deployed as part of anti-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh, aimed at countering Naxal violence in the region.

The militia, comprising local tribal youth, received training from the Chhattisgarh government. But in 2011 Supreme Court banned it.

“I always wanted to do something revolutionary like my father, so I am doing this for him and my brother. We need peace and hopefully, a successful election will lead to that,” the woman, whose husband is in the police and who has left her kids with her mother-in-law, said.

“This is no less than a revolution for me,” she added.

For another 22-year-old panchayat worker from Sukma, who has been asked to go to the hypersensitive polling booth at Chintalnar, it is a moment of pride as he will be the first person from his village to sit in a chopper.

“I am the only person from my block panchayat who is taking part in this exercise as my other colleagues are married. Being a bachelor, I was chosen. I am scared, but it is okay as I will be the first person from my village to sit in a chopper,” he said with a broad smile on his face.

The poll parties going to the hypersensitive booths on the 80-km stretch from Dornapal to Jagargunda were mostly airlifted and reached their respective destinations a day or two before the polling day, Sukma Collector Jai Prakash Maurya said.

A teacher from Bijapur district who is going to the Usur block on poll duty, said, “I always told my students in the village that you should do something for the country. Now, it is my turn to do something. If you ask me how do I feel, I don’t know, but I might be doing something like what Bhagat Singh did.”

All the 437 polling booths in Sukma and Bijapur districts have been declared as “sensitive”.

Bijapur Collector KB Kunjam said about 80 polling parties were airlifted and 76 relocated to a safer position, but there were still 40-odd booths that were extremely risky.

“Some of the poll officers conveyed to us that some of the polling booths, including those in schools, were painted with messages of boycotting the polls. So, we are making temporary arrangements,” he said.

Both Maurya and Kunjam said some of the poll parties were dispatched two days before the polling.

Besides Central Reserve Police Force personnel, Border Security Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police jawans would accompany them

On the request of the district collectors, the names of the poll officers have not been mentioned.





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Ajit Jogi Releases 14-Point Chhattisgarh Poll Manifesto On Stamp Paper


Ajit Jogi took a swipe at the Congress as he launched the manifesto. (File)

Raipur: 

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi  on Saturday released his party’s manifesto on stamp paper for the state Assembly polls and challenged the ruling BJP, and the Congress to do the same.

Mr Jogi said he had released the 14-point manifesto of Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) on the stamp paper and therefore was committed to fulfilling the promises mentioned in it.

“If I don’t fulfil promises made in it, I can be sent to jail,” he said.

The state goes to polls in two phases on November 12 and November 20.

Mr Jogi’s party is in an alliance with Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party and the CPI. The JCC (J) will contest 55 seats, the BSP 33 and CPI two seats.

Mr Jogi took a swipe at the Congress, his former party and the said its manifesto, titled ‘Jan Ghoshna Patra’, was a “true copy” of the one he had released on June 6, 2016 when the JCC (J) was formed.

He said the Congress had promised farm loan waiver in Punjab and Karnataka within ten days of coming to power, but had failed to do so even after ten months having passed.

Mr Jogi’s manifesto promises Rs 2,500 per quintal MSP for paddy, free power supply to agriculture pumps with a capacity of up to 5 horsepower, and complete waiver of farm loans among others.

He said local youth would be given “cent per cent” reservation in government jobs while 90 per cent of other jobs would be reserved for them.

Unemployed youngsters who had passed Class 12 would be given Rs 1001 as allowance, while graduates and post graduates without jobs would be given Rs 1501 and Rs 2001 respectively.

The manifesto promised regularisation of non-permanent employees like shikshakarmis, panchayat secretaries, employment assistants, Anganwadi workers and the like.

Mr Jogi said if elected to power, his government would go for a ban on liquor in all parts of the state except Scheduled areas.

The manifesto said the party would open a Rs 1 lakh joint account for every newborn girl child along with respective district collectors.

The girl will get this amount, along with interest, when she attains 18 years of age, it said.

His government will provide 45 kg rice, 10 kg wheat, 5 kg pulses, 5 kg salt, 2 kg sugar and 5 litres of edible oil to all ration card-holders, except income tax payees among them, Jogi said.

He also promised a cut in state GST and excise on fuel as well as health insurance of Rs 7 lakh and setting up of hospitals on the lines of Delhi’s AIIMS in every district of the state.

 





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Poll Panel Seeks Names For Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer’s Post


The Election Commission has only decided to call for a panel of names for the post.

New Delhi: 

The Election Commission Saturday initiated the process of finding an alternative to Mizoram chief electoral officer who is facing a massive agitation for ouster by a conglomerate of civil society and student organisations.

A Commission spokesperson said that in a meeting held in New Delhi on Saturday, the poll panel has “only decided to call for a panel of names for the post of State CEO from chief secretary of Mizoram.”

The spokesperson said “next steps” will “only be taken after receiving the report of the team led by Deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain”.

State chief electoral officer SB Shashank had reportedly sought deployment of additional central armed police forces (CAPF) in the state and complained to the EC that the state’s former principal secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo was interfering with the poll process.

Mr Chuaungo, a native of Mizoram and a Gujarat-cadre IAS officer was relieved of his duties earlier this month.

The NGO Coordination Committee – a conglomerate of civil societies and student organisations – along with other political leaders, had been demanding Shashank’s exit from the state since then.

The NGO also demanded that 11,232 Bru voters lodged in six Tripura relief camps be allowed to exercise their franchise at their respective polling stations in Mizoram and not in Tripura as committed by the poll panel in 2014.

Meanwhile in Mizoram, the visiting Election Commission team led by Mr Jain, has left for New Delhi on Saturday after holding talks with the stakeholders in view of the demands for removal of Mizoram Chief Election Officer Shashank, officials said.

The team would submit its report to the Election Commission, they said.





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Poll Panel, Mizoram Groups Talks End, Election Officer May Be Replaced


Protests had broken out in Mizoram after the principal secretary of home was transferred out

Guwahati: 

The Election Commission has agreed to the main demands of civil society groups in Mizoram protesting against the recent appointment of the state’s chief electoral officer, people with direct knowledge of the matter said. The outcome of the talks between an Election Commission team and the groups was positive, they said.

Two of the main demands by the groups led by the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee or MNCC are to reappoint ousted principal secretary of home Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, and allowing Bru tribe refugees who are living in neighbouring Tripura to vote only in Mizoram and not from their camps in the other state.

After a bout of ethnic violence in the 90s, some 30,000 people of the Bru tribe were displaced from Mizoram. Many of them are now living in six camps in the Kanchanpur and Panisagar areas of north Tripura. Their repatriation that started in 2010 remains a work in progress.

Mr Sashank is likely to be replaced, and the Election Commission has also agreed to the demand for letting Bru refugees come to Mizoram if they want to vote in the assembly election on November 28, people familiar with the matter said.

The poll panel is likely to issue a notification on Sunday explaining the outcome of the talks with the civil society groups in Mizoram, said the people who asked not to be named.

Massive protests had broken out across Mizoram earlier this week after Mr Sashank pushed for the removal of the state’s home secretary, accusing him of interfering in the electoral rolls revision process. Mr Sashank was then summoned to Delhi by the Election Commission.

Mr Sashank accused Mr Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, of objecting to allowing voting by Bru refugees from their camps in Tripura. Subsequently, the poll panel had transferred out Mr Chuaungo.

The Federation of Mizoram Government Employees and Workers said if Mr Sashank was not removed, their members would not cooperate with the election work.

The protesters said there were efforts to enrol Bru tribe members who are in Tripura as voters without following procedure.





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BJP’s Sambit Patra Named In Police Compliant For Violating Poll Code In Madhya Pradesh


Sambit Patra’s name was added following a report from Bhopal’s returning officer (File)

Bhopal: 

BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra has been named in an FIR for poll code violation in Madhya Pradesh, a senior election official said Friday.

On October 27, Mr Patra had held a press conference by the side of a road in MP Nagar in Bhopal, following which the Congress had filed a complaint with the Election Commission.

The organisers of the press conference had sought a slot between 1 pm and 3pm that day but held it between 12 noon and 12:30 pm, which too was a violation, said EC officials.

Earlier, the FIR included the name of BJP functionary SS Uppal. Mr Patra’s name was added following a report from Bhopal’s returning officer, the officials said.

Talking to PTI Friday, MP Chief Electoral Officer V L Kantha Rao confirmed that Mr Patra has been named as an accused in the FIR.

“We had filed a complaint with the EC stating that the press conference was held blocking a road without permission and it is a violation of the code of conduct. Initially, Patra’s name was not there in the EC’s FIR. So, we again filed a complaint demanding an FIR against Patra,” Madhya Pradesh Congress election affairs wing in charge JP Dhanopia said.





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Poll Panel Rejects Mizoram BJP Plea To Extend Date Of Filing Nominations


BJP wanted to extend the date for filing nominations citing the law and order situation in Mizoram

New Delhi: 

The Election Commission on Thursday rejected a plea of the BJP to extend the last date of filing nominations for the November 28 assembly polls in Mizoram.

The party had moved the plea citing the law and order situation in the northeastern state.

In a letter to state BJP chief JV Hluna, the poll panel said his plea has “not been acceded to on account of peace and normalcy in the state today.”

Friday is the last date of filing nominations.

There have been protests demanding the ouster of Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S B Shashank by the NGO Coordination Committee.

But the protests were called off Wednesday after the officer left for Delhi.

The NGO Coordination Committee, the top body of civil societies and students’ organisations in the north-eastern state, has been demanding that Mr Shashank be replaced and transferred outside the state.

It also demanded that 11,232 Bru voters lodged in six Tripura relief camps be allowed to exercise their franchise at their respective polling stations in Mizoram and not in Tripura as committed by the poll panel in 2014.





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Rs 55 Crore Of Unaccounted Cash Seized So Far: Telangana Poll Officer


The income tax department seized Rs 17.55 crore and the police Rs 37.67 crore, he said.

Hyderabad: 

Unaccounted cash worth Rs 55 crore has been seized across Telangana since the model code of conduct came into force following the announcement of Assembly elections, Chief Electoral Officer of the state Rajath Kumar said in Hyderabad on Friday.

The income tax department seized Rs 17.55 crore and the police Rs 37.67 crore; an inquiry into the individual cases would be conducted and action taken accordingly, Mr Kumar said.

The Election Commission is in constant touch with the intelligence wing and the Finance Ministry with regard to the illegal money flow during elections, he said.

Liquor worth Rs 3.31 crore was also seized, he said.





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Afghans Risk Their Lives To Vote In Delayed Kandahar Poll


Scores of attacks marred the first day of the election on October 20. (File)

Kandahar: 

Afghans risked their lives to vote in legislative elections in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, after the Taliban-claimed killing of a powerful police chief delayed the ballot by a week.

As voting got under way, turbaned men and burqa-clad women stood in long, segregated queues outside polling centres in the deeply conservative Kandahar provincial capital, which was blanketed with heavy security in anticipation of militant attacks.

More than half a million people — the vast majority of them men — are registered to vote in Kandahar province where organisers are under pressure to avoid last weekend’s debacle that forced the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to extend the nationwide ballot by a day.

Problems with untested biometric verification devices, missing or incomplete voter rolls and absent election workers following Taliban threats to attack the ballot forced Afghans to wait hours outside polling stations, many of which opened late or not at all.

Similar issues were already evident in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban and a province notorious for ballot stuffing, with many polling sites in the city opening more than an hour late — despite assurances from IEC deputy spokeswoman Kobra Rezaei on Friday that “we are absolutely ready”.

“I have been standing outside the polling centre since 6:00 am, but it still hasn’t opened,” university student Mohammad, who uses only one name, told AFP.

Streets in the city were quieter than usual at the beginning of the Afghan working week, after authorities restricted the use of cars and motorbikes during voting hours.

Voting in the province bordering Pakistan was postponed following the October 18 death of General Abdul Raziq, an anti-Taliban strongman seen as a bulwark against the insurgency in the south, amid fears of violence flaring up.

Raziq was among three people killed in a brazen insider attack on a high-level security meeting in Kandahar city that was attended by General Scott Miller, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan.

Miller escaped unhurt, but US Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was among 13 people wounded in the shooting claimed by the Taliban.

It is hoped that the appointment of Tadeen Khan — a brother of Raziq and a member of the Afghan security forces — as acting provincial police chief will help keep a lid on polling day unrest.

On the eve of the ballot, Afghan air strikes killed at least 56 Taliban militants in Kandahar’s Shah Wali Kot district, provincial police spokesman Zia Durrani told AFP.

“I have to vote for a better future for my country,” shopkeeper Abdul Abbas told AFP outside a polling centre.

“I have defied all the threats of attacks and explosions to vote.” – Election death toll –

IEC figures show around four million people voted in last weekend’s parliamentary election that was held in 32 out of 34 provinces after months of chaotic preparations.

That compares with nearly nine million on the voter roll, but many suspect a significant number of those were based on fake identification documents that fraudsters planned to use to stuff ballot boxes.

Scores of attacks marred the first day of the election on October 20, with an AFP tally showing nearly 300 civilians and security forces were killed or wounded in poll-related violence.

That was significantly higher than the government’s casualty figures, supporting speculation that officials had deliberately downplayed the violence so voters would not be scared off.

The discrepancy also added to concerns about the lack of transparency and credibility in the election, which is more than three years late and the third since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

More than 2,500 candidates, including mullahs, journalists and sons of warlords, are competing for 249 seats in the lower house.

The election is seen as a dry run for next year’s presidential vote and an important milestone ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva in November where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on “democratic processes”.

With vote counting under way, the IEC is scheduled to release preliminary results on November 10.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Election Panel Satisfied Over Poll Preparedness In Telangana


The EC team had held meeting with nine recognised political parties on Monday.

Hyderabad: 

The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over the preparedness for Telangana assembly polls to be held on December 7 after a 11-member team headed by the Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat reviewed the arrangements with officials in the city.

Detailed presentations on electoral rolls, testing of electronic voting machines and law and order, monitoring of Mode Code of Conduct were made by the respective district collectors and Superintendents of Police to the team, an official release said.

While expressing satisfaction with the work done so far, the team advised the district collectors and police officers about the need to work extremely hard to ensure that the first general elections of the Telangana become a bench mark for conduct of free and fare elections, it said.

The team emphasised the need for the entire management of election machinery to adhere strictly to the election guidelines and maintaining complete impartiality in all election related matters, the release said.

The EC team had held meeting with nine recognised political parties on Monday.





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