Archive for ‘Lok Sabha’

11/04/2019

India election 2019: Voting begins in world’s largest election

Indians have begun voting in the first phase of a general election that is being seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Tens of millions of Indians across 20 states and union territories are voting in 91 constituencies.

The seven-phase vote to elect a new lower house of parliament will continue until 19 May. Counting day is 23 May.

With 900 million eligible voters across the country, this is the largest election ever seen.

Some observers have billed this as the most important election in decades and the tone of the campaign has been acrimonious.

Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a historic landslide in the last elections in 2014. He stakes his claim to lead India on a tough image and remains the governing BJP’s main vote-getter.

But critics say his promises of economic growth and job creation haven’t met expectations and India has become more religiously polarised under his leadership.

The BJP faces challenges from strong regional parties and a resurgent Congress party, led by Rahul Gandhi. Mr Gandhi’s father, grandmother and great-grandfather are all former Indian prime ministers. His sister, Priyanka Gandhi, formally joined politics in January.

Modi at a rally in Meerut
Image captionMr Modi has made national security a key election issue

How has voting gone so far?

The Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament has 543 elected seats and any party or coalition needs a minimum of 272 MPs to form a government.

Hundreds of voters began to queue up outside polling centres early Thursday morning. In the north-eastern state of Assam, lines of voters began forming almost an hour before voting officially began.

Voters at one polling booth in Baraut – in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh – got a royal welcome with people greeted by drums and a shower of flower petals.

A little boy clutches his father outside a polling booth in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh stateImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption A little boy clutches his father outside a polling booth in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh state

In central Chhattisgarh state, suspected Maoists detonated an IED device near a polling booth at around 04:00 local time (23:30 BST) – no injuries were reported.

The mineral-rich state has witnessed an armed conflict for more than three decades and attacks by Maoist rebels on security forces are common. On Tuesday a state lawmaker was killed in a suspected rebel attack.

How big is this election?

It is mind-bogglingly vast – about 900 million people above the age of 18 will be eligible to cast their ballots at one million polling stations. At the last election, vote turn-out was around 66%.

More than 100 million people are eligible to vote in the first phase of the election on Thursday.

An official checks the names of Indian lambadi tribeswomen at a polling station during India's general election at Pedda Shapur village on the outskirts of Hyderabad on April 11, 2019.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption Indian lambadi tribeswomen at a polling station in southern India

No voter is meant to have to travel more than 2km to reach a polling station. Because of the enormous number of election officials and security personnel involved, voting will take place in seven stages between 11 April and 19 May.

India’s historic first election in 1951-52 took three months to complete. Between 1962 and 1989, elections were completed in four to 10 days. The four-day elections in 1980 were the country’s shortest ever.

Source: The BBC

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20/03/2019

Lok Sabha polls 2019: National Conference, Congress enter pre-poll alliance in Jammu-Kashmir

The two parties kept three of the six Lok Sabha seats in Jammu-Kashmir for “friendly contest” between them.

Statesman News Service | Jammu | 

The Congress and National Conference (NC) on Wednesday sealed a partial pre-poll alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections wherein the two parties kept three of the six Lok Sabha seats in Jammu-Kashmir for a “friendly contest” between them.

Both parties will contest the Jammu, Udhampur and Srinagar seats in alliance, while there will be “friendly contest” for Anantnag, Baramulla and Ladakh seats.

The NC has left both seats of Jammu division – Jammu and Udhampur – for the Congress.

NC chief, Farooq Abdullah, will re-contest from the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat and the Congress will not field any candidate against him.

The two parties reached the alliance only after Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika Soni dashed to Srinagar early this morning from New Delhi to hold deliberations with Abdullah.

The NC had earlier announced candidature of BR Kundal, a former chief secretary of the state, who recently deserted the Congress and joined the NC.

The two parties failed to reach any understanding for the Anantnag seat in South Kashmir where the PCC chief GA Mir was seeking the Congress ticket.

The NC had spared the seat for Mir during the by-polls but the election did not take place due to security reasons. Farooq Abdullah had won the Srinagar seat during the by-election.

The announcement about the alliance was made jointly by Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika Soni after a closed door meeting at Abdullah’s residence.

Azad said that the alliance has been reached in the national interest, to strengthen secular forces in Jammu and Kashmir as the state faces threat from Pakistan.

Abdullah said the Congress will contest from Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats.

“I will contest from Srinagar and there will be a friendly contest between National Conference and Congress in Anantnag and Baramulla parliamentary constituencies. We are also discussing the Ladakh seat,” said Farooq Abdullah.

Azad said that friendly contest means that there will be no cut-throat contest between the parties on Anantnag and Baramulla seats.

“Live and let live. This is the best decision taken in national interest. If either the Congress or National Conference wins, it is a win-win situation for both,” he said.

Azad said the Congress-NC alliance will ensure there is no division of secular votes and the BJP doesn’t get to benefit. He added that all Congress leaders will also campaign for Abdullah, who will be contesting from the Srinagar Parliamentary seat.

The NC has already announced Mohammad Akbar Lone, a former Speaker, as the party’s candidate for the Baramulla seat.

Earlier, there were speculations that the pre-poll alliance between NC and Congress had hit a dead-end after former announced its candidate for the Anantnag Parliamentary constituency. Anantnag Lok Sabha seat has been a bone of contention between the NC and Congress.

Omar Abdullah, National Conference vice-president, had set a precondition to contest on all three seats in Kashmir for any alliance to take place.

In exchange, NC was willing to support Congress in the two seats in Jammu and one in Ladakh. However, Congress had insisted on contesting from four seats – two from the Jammu region and one each from Ladakh and Anantnag.

On Tuesday, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti dismissed reports of an alliance with the Congress stating that the party is preparing to contest all the six Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir. Mehbooba Mufti is expected to finalise the party’s candidates for the Lok Sabha seats within a day or two.

Source: The Statesman
18/03/2019

Mayawati snubs Congress over its 7-seat offer, says don’t create confusion

The BSP leader’s statement came a day after the Congress said it was leaving seven of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh for the SP-BSP combine

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Mar 18, 2019 14:38 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mayawati,Bahujan Samaj Party,Samajwadi Party
Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati has said that the SP-BSP combine was strong enough to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh and that they did not need the support of the Congress.(PTI file photo)
Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati, in a strong snub for the Congress, said on Monday that the SP-BSP combine was strong enough to defeat the BJP in politically important Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The BSP leader’s statement came a day after the Congress said it was leaving seven of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh for the SP-BSP combine, which recently formed an alliance and had left two seats – Rae Bareli and Amethi – for the Congress.
“The Congress is free to put up candidates in all Uttar Pradesh seats, our alliance is strong enough to defeat the BJP. The Congress should not create confusion about any alliance with us,” Mayawati tweeted.

She made it clear that the SP-BSP combine had no poll understanding with the Congress anywhere in the country. “Our supporters should not fall for doubts being created by the Congress,” the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said.

Watch: Congress leaves 7 seats for SP, BSP and RLD in UP for Lok Sabha polls

LS polls: Congress leaves 7 seats for SP, BSP and RLD in UP
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Raj Babbar announced that Congress will not be contesting on 7 seats in UP. Congress will leave those seats for the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in the state.

Minutes later, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav tweeted a similar message saying the SP-BSP- RLD alliance in Uttar Pradesh was capable of defeating BJP. “Congress should not create any confusion,” he added.

The Congress had on Sunday announced that it would not be contesting Mainpuri, Kannauj and the seats from where BSP chief Mayawati and RLD leaders Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhary will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

At the press conference UPCC chief Raj Babbar said, “We are leaving 7 seats vacant for SP, BSP and RLD. These include Mainpuri, Kannauj, Firozabad and whatever seats Mayawati ji & RLD’s Jayant ji and Ajit Singh contest from. We will also give two seats to Apna Dal – Gonda & Pilibhit.”

Mayawati has time and again made it clear that her alliance has nothing to do with the Congress. A week back she had said: “It is being made clear again that the Bahujan Samaj Party will not have any electoral alliance with the Congress in any state.”

This drew a sharp retort from the Congress with its Uttar Pradesh unit spokesperson saying, “We don’t need her.”

Uttar Pradesh will go to polls in all seven phases starting April 11 and ending on May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.

Source: Hindustan Times

13/03/2019

India’s main opposition promises jobs for women amid heated election campaign

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s main opposition Congress party will reserve a third of federal government jobs for women if it comes into power, its chief Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday, in a sign women’s rights are rising up the political agenda for next month’s election.

Over the last week, two powerful parties from eastern India said they would field women in a third of parliamentary races, putting pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other big parties to follow suit.

India ranks at 149 out of 193 countries – worse than neighbouring Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Pakistan – for the percentage of women in national parliaments, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an independent organisation promoting democracy.

“For how many generations have people talked about reservation in party positions, reservation for elections, reservation in jobs? But it doesn’t seem to happen,” BJP spokesperson Shaina N.C. said.
There are currently 66 women out of a total 543 elected members in India’s lower house of parliament. At 12 percent, this is the highest ever proportion of women in the Lok Sabha.
Women make up nearly half of all voters in the country of 1.3 billion people, according to the Election Commission of India. Based on recent state polls, women will likely head to voting stations in droves for the elections due by May, surpassing male turnout, analysts predict.
On Tuesday, Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal state, said her All India Trinamool Congress party would field 17 women candidates across 42 seats.
Earlier, on Sunday, the Biju Janata Dal, which rules Odisha state in eastern India, said it would reserve seven of 21 seats it is contesting for women candidates.
“33% reservation in parliament will give them bigger role in highest policy making body,” Naveen Patnaik, leader of the BJD and Odisha’s chief minister, said in a tweet.
“Women of our nation rightfully deserve this from all of us.”
Source: Reuters
12/03/2019

Congress working committee meeting LIVE| ‘Unemployment highest in 45 years’: Rahul Gandhi at Gujarat rally

CWC meeting LIVE: Congress is launching its Lok Sabha election campaign from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, the home state of PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah with a meeting of its top leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh.

The Congress is launching its Lok Sabha election campaign from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah with a meeting of its Congress Working Committee (CWC) and a public rally by its top leaders.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party general secretaries, including Priyanka Gandhi, will be among the senior leaders of the party attending the meeting.

The Congress Working Committee, the highest decision-making arm of the party, would seek answers to failures and unfulfilled promises of the Modi government on governance, agrarian distress, economic issues, unemployment, national security and women’s safety, according to party leaders.

Hardik Patel, a prominent young leader of Patidars, who is leading a movement for reservation in jobs and education for their community, is likely to join Congress and contest the Lok Sabha elections on a party ticket, according to sources.

Source: Hindustan Times

02/03/2019

‘One chowkidar has defamed all others’: Rahul Gandhi’s renews attack on PM Modi

Rahul Gandhi renewed his attack on PM Modi over Rafale deal controversy during his public rally in Jharkhand

INDIA Updated: Mar 02, 2019 15:58 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Rahul Gandhi,ranchi,jharkhand
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressing a public rally in Jharkhand on Saturday.(Photo: Twitter/INCIndia)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday renewed his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterating his charge that he misled the people on the issues of providing corruption-free government, job creation and addressing farm distress. Gandhi said PM Modi’s image has changed from a leader who promised to bring “achchhe din” (better time) to “chowkidar chor hai” (the watchman is a thief).

Speaking at the Congress’s Parivartan Ulgulan Maha Rally at the Morahbad in Jharkhand, Gandhi said, “One chowkidar has defamed all chowkidars of India…All the chowkidars of India are honest…Everyone knows that when someone says chowkidar chor hai, it refers to Narendra Modi.”

The Congress president alleged that PM Modi “snatched” Rs 30,000 crore from the Indian Air Force (IAF), which protects the country, and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and gave it to industrialist Anil Ambani in Rafale deal.

Gandhi has been targeting PM Modi over Rs 58,000-crore Rafale deal with France that India signed in 2016 for the purchase of 36 fighter planes. A similar deal was being negotiated when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power before 0214 for the purchase of 126 Rafale jets.

The Modi government renegotiated the deal with France terming the previous one unworkable. The Congress and other opposition parties have alleged that commercial favouritism was done in Rafale deal.

Gandhi on several occasions has alleged that PM Modi personally ensured that Ambani’s firm, Reliance Defence gets contract in Rafale deal. Both the government and the Reliance Defence have rejected the allegation as baseless. Reliance Defence is an off-set partner of the Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets.

Addressing his first rally in Jharkhand since 2014, the Congress president repeated his charge against PM Modi saying, “It is a matter of shame that Indian Air Force protects the country, air force pilots sacrifice their lives but the prime minister steals money from the air force and puts it in Anil Ambani’s pockets.”

He claimed that in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the “chowkidar” will be defeated. He promised that if voted to power the Congress government will implement a minimum income guarantee programme for the poor.

Source: hindustan Times

25/02/2019

Mamata Banerjee accuses government of trying to create ‘war hysteria’ after Pulwama attack

Mamata Banerjee claimed that her party Trinamool Congress(TMC) will win all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the polls.

INDIA Updated: Feb 25, 2019 16:35 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Kolkata
Jaish-e-Mohammed,Narendra Modi,Lok Sabha polls
Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee during a press conference at Press Club of India, in New Delhi, on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (HT Photot)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee Monday alleged that though the Modi government had intelligence inputs about the Pulwama attack, it did not take any step as it was more keen on “playing politics over the dead bodies of jawans”.

Banerjee, while addressing the Trinamool Congress’s extended core committee meeting in Kolkata, vowed to oust the “dictatorial Narendra Modi government” from power in the upcoming general election.

She claimed that her party Trinamool Congress(TMC) will win all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the polls.

“The central government was aware that such an attack can take place, there were intelligence inputs. Then why didn’t the government take action to protect our jawans. The government allowed them to die so that they can do politics over the dead body of jawans in the elections,” Banerjee said.

They want to create a “war hysteria” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the TMC president alleged.

The central government is functioning in a peculiar way and union ministers are not aware of important decisions, Banerjee claimed.

“This government is being run by two brothers (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah), who have blood of innocents on their hands,” she said.

“Our party workers and cadre should be cautious as efforts are on to tamper EVMs (electronic voting machines) during the Lok Sabha polls. You all have to thwart those efforts,” she said. On February 14, 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir after a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into their bus in Pulwama district.

Source: Hindustan Times

21/02/2019

‘PM has never given, only taken’: Rahul Gandhi slams Modi for denying ‘shaheed’ status to jawans

As the country mourned the Pulwama killings, there has been an increased demand for according ‘Shaheed’ status to the martyred jawans.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

In a fresh attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the “jawans gave their lives but have been denied the ‘Shaheed’ status.

 

In strong words, the Congress president said the “PM has never given and only taken”.

In an indirect reference to the government allegedly supporting industrialists like Anil Ambani, as accused by the opposition, Gandhi tweeted, “Jawans give their lives but are denied the status of “Shaheed”. While this man has never given & only taken. He’s gifted 30,000Cr of their money & will live happily ever after. Welcome to Modi’s NEW INDIA”.

As the country mourned the Pulwama killings, there has been an increased demand for according ‘Shaheed’ status to the martyred jawans.

The CRPF jawans were addressed as martyrs in resolutions passed in various state assemblies to condemn the terror attack and to announce compensation for the bereaved families from the respective states.

While the Madhya Pradesh government announced compensation of Rs 1 crore, the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments announced Rs 25 lakh each.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also assured government jobs to one member from each family.

According to the set rules, the Central Government provides Rs 10 lakh as ex gratia for the death of jawans due to accidents in the course of duty or death due to terrorist acts in the line of duty. Apart from this, the wife of the dead jawan would receive a pension, which would go to parents if he is not married.

The government does not recognise the term ‘martyr’.

In December 2017, the government had informed the Central Information Commission that there was no term as ‘martyr’ or ‘shaheed’ in the army or the police. Instead, a soldier or policeman killed in action is called ‘battle casualty’ or ‘operations casualty’, respectively.

In 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Lok Sabha that the word ‘martyr’ is not used in reference to any casualties from the Indian armed forces during battle.

Earlier in 2015 too, the Government had informed the Parliament that the term ‘shaheed’ or martyr is not defined “anywhere” and that there is no official order to accord the same to defence or paramilitary personnel.

The CAPFs like CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF, SSB and NSG have made representations to the Union Home Ministry that ‘shaheed’ salutation is being demanded by the personnel of these forces.

Source: The Statesman
11/02/2019

Priyanka Gandhi on stage, Rahul says time to win Uttar Pradesh back

Rahul Gandhi,Congress president,Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary (incharge of east UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during a roadshow from the Chaudhary Charan Singh airport to the UPCC headquarters in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.(Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday underlined his party’s ambitions in Uttar Pradesh saying the party cannot afford to be weak in the state.

‘Congress started in UP and it cannot stay weak here. Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiarditya Scindia will make Congress strong in UP again,’ Rahul said at headquarters in UP unit of the Congress in Lucknow at the end of a mammoth road show that his sister Priyanka launchedin her first visit to .the state sicne her appointment as c general secretary in charge of eastern U.P.

While the roadshow marked Priyanka’s formal entry into active politics, Rahul set his sight beyond the upcoming general elections to regain power in U.P.

‘Congress party has to form government in Uttar Pradesh.’

‘I respect Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, but Congress will fight with all its might in Uttar Pradesh,’ Rahul said.

The Congress won two Lok Sabha seats in U.P. in 2014.

“In every defence deal there is a clause against corruption.Narendra Modi scrapped the corruption clause to benefit Anil Ambani,” he said.

He also accused the Prime Minister of ignoring farmers and favouring industrialists.

The Congress has consistently attacked the Modi government for not addressing farm distress in the country and the issue was one of the main election planks for the grand old party in the recent assembly elections in five states.

Source: Hindustan Times

13/01/2019

2019 Lok Sabha Elections: Congress drops a bombshell, to contest all 80 seats in UP

Amethi is Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency and Rae Bareilly is that of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

Breaking the suspense over its election plans in the state of Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress on Sunday announced that it will be fielding candidates on all the 80 Lok Sabha seats.

This was informed by senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

“We will fight all 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections. We are fully prepared. And just like the Congress emerged the number one party in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, it will happen again in 2019,” said Azad while interacting with the media in UP capital Lucknow.

Also Read: Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav announce BSP-SP alliance for 2019 Lok Sabha polls | Slam ‘arrogant’ BJP

“We had earlier also said that we are ready to walk with every party that wants to defeat the BJP. But we can’t force anyone. They have (SP-BSP) closed this chapter, so we will continue this fight to defeat the BJP on our own,” he added.

On Saturday, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) had officially announced their alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, keeping the Congress out.

While BSP and SP will contest on 38 Lok Sabha seats each, they have left two seats for other parties. “We have left Amethi and Rae Bareilly for Congress, which is not part of our alliance,” Mayawati had said addressing the media at Lucknow’s Hotel Taj on Saturday.

Amethi is Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency and Rae Bareilly is that of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

“BSP and SP are not going to get any benefit from an alliance with Congress. Our experience is that we do not get votes on seats we leave and they go to the BJP. Congress benefits from us but honest parties like us do not get any benefit,” Mayawati had said, drawing attention to the BSP’s alliance with the Congress in 1996 and SP’s in 2017.

Azad was speaking after a meeting at the party’s state headquarters in Lucknow.

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