After Nandigram poll shocker, CM Mamata plans to enter Assembly from Bhawanipore

Senior Trinamool Congress leader and party MLA Sovandeb Chatterjee has resigned from the Bhawanipore Assembly seat in West Bengal, paving the way for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to contest the inevitable byelection after her nailbiting state election loss to the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram constituency. “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had won twice from Bhawanipore. All party leaders discussed and when I heard she wants to contest from here, I thought I should vacate my seat. There is no pressure. Nobody else has the courage to run the government. I spoke to her. It was her seat I was just protecting it,” Chatterjee told mediapersons after his resignation.

West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee also confirmed Chatterjee’s resignation and said that it was the TMC MLA’s voluntary decision.

“I have enquired from him if he has resigned voluntarily and without coercion. I am satisfied and I have accepted his resignation,” Speaker Biman Banerjee said.

Notably, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee contested the Assembly elections this year from the Nandigram constituency instead of her home-turf Bhawanipore. However, she lost in Nandigram to BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari by a margin of 1,956 votes.

Mamata Banerjee, who sworn in as the West Bengal Chief Minister for the third consecutive term has to be elected as a member of the state Assembly within six months to continue to hold her post.

According to Article 164 (4) of the Indian Constitution, a minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the legislature of the state shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a minister.

ANI

With DMK back in power after a decade, MK Stalin reclaims the Kalaignar legacy

Under the leadership of Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin, son of late DMK supremo Karunanidhi, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has swept back to power in Tamil Nadu after a decade. The DMK’s win is being seen as Stalin reclaiming the legacy of Kalaignar. DMK President MK Stalin, who is affectionately called “Thalaivar” by his party cadres, was administered the oath by Governor Banwarilal Purohit at Raj Bhavan here today.

Stalin is the second son of former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi with his second wife, Dayalu Ammal. Born four days after the death of the Soviet communist leader, Stalin was named after Joseph Stalin. He was groomed from an early age by Karunanidhi as his successor and heir. Sixty-eight-year-old Stalin contested as the chief ministerial candidate for the first time during the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls. Known as a tireless worker, Stalin began his political journey during the 1967 Assembly elections in Madras state by campaigning for his father’s party when he was a lad of 14.

However, during his early political career, Stalin was not considered a serious politician. Things changed when he was jailed for six months during Emergency under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). He was elected unopposed as the DMK chief in August 2018, after the death of his father, a post that Karunanidhi held for 49 years.
Under Stalin’s leadership, DMK, which is out of power since 2011 in the state, gave a head-to-head fight to the ruling party AIADMK and won 133 seats on its own in the 234-member Assembly.

Stalin holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Presidency College in Chennai. He is credited for forming the youth wing of DMK and headed it for more than four decades. He became the first directly elected mayor of Chennai from 1996 to 2001. He was also elected legislator from the Thousand Lights constituency in Chennai in 1989, 1996, 2001 and 2006.

In 2011, he was elected to the Assembly from the Kolathur constituency in Chennai. He served as the Local Administration and Rural Development Minister in his father Karunanidhi’s Cabinet from 2006 to 2011. He also held the charge of Deputy Chief Minister from 2009-2011. In 2016 he again won the Assembly election from the Kolathur constituency and held the charge of the leader of opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

In Tamil Nadu, the people have traditionally seen the DMK and the AIADMK hold power alternately since 1967. However, AIADMK emerged victorious in the last two Assembly elections. During this election, ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) contested the poll in a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK).

On the other hand, Stalin-led DMK allotted 25 seats to its Congress party, and six each for CPI, CPI (M), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and Vaiko’s Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), who contested polls in alliance with him.

With a third consecutive win in Kolathur where he contested opposite AIADMK’s Adhi Rajaram, Stalin continues his grip on the constituency since it was carved out in 2011. He won the seat by 105522 votes. The high-octane poll was held in a single phase on April 6.

ANI

Six years in the party, Himanta Biswa Sarma is BJP’s brightest star in N-E

Himanta Biswa Sarma, the charioteer of BJP’s stride in the Northeast, is now the brightest star in the political spectrum in the city of eastern lights. The 52-year-old leader has been sworn in as the 15th Chief Minister of Assam.

Sarma was elected as the leader of the BJP legislative party in Assam on May 10. He replaced Sarbananda Sonowal, who tendered his resignation as Assam Chief Minister to Governor Jagadish Mukhi the same day. The Governor also accepted Biswa Sarma’s claim for chief ministership and asked him to form the government.

On being announced the Chief Minister of the state Sarma took to Twitter to express his gratitude to the people of the state. “With fragrance of Assam in my heart & love of my wonderful people in my veins, I offer my deepest gratitude to you all. I would not have been what I am had it not been for your pious faith in me. On this Day, I vow to work with & for each one of you with greater passion Assam,” he tweeted.

In another tweet, he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “This is the biggest day in my life, and I so fondly cherish your generous affection. I assure you we shall leave no stone unturned to carry forward your vision of taking Assam, & NE to greater heights.”

Sarma has played a stellar role in the success of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Assembly polls in Assam with the alliance returning to power overcoming the stiff challenge posed by the Congress-led alliance. He was a key campaigner of the party and strongly articulated its position on various issues at play in Assam which has a diverse population with sometimes competing interests.

During the campaign, he took repeated digs at Congress for its alliance with All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). Sarma won from Jalukbari, a seat he has won four times earlier. He won the seat by a margin of 1,01,911 votes.
He has risen in prominence in BJP since he joined the party in 2015 and has played a key role in the party’s growing footprint in Assam as also other states of the northeast.

Sarma, who was once close to former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, felt sidelined in Congress as he had apparent chief ministerial ambitions and joined the BJP, which was looking for expansion in the northeast.

Sarma is credited with Congress’ victory in the 2011 Assembly polls when the party won 79 of 126 seats. Later, he helped oust the Congress in the 2016 assembly elections and gave BJP its first victory in the northeastern state. The BJP forged alliances with Bodoland People’s Front and Asom Gana Parishad. The alliance won 86 seats.
Sarma handled key portfolios like Finance, Health and Education in the Sarbananda Sonowal government. He was made the convener of the North East Development Alliance (NEDA). His work and strategy have contributed to BJP’s growth in all the states of the northeast.

Sarma had cut his teeth in the All Assam Students’ Union and made a mark as he won Jalukbari assembly in 2001 defeating Bhrigu Kumar Phukan, one of his political mentors. He has also been president of Badminton Association of India.

Born on February 1, 1969, he studied at Guwahati’s Kamrup Academy School and Cotton College. He pursued law and practiced at Gauhati High Court. He was also general secretary of Cotton College Student’s Union from 1991 to 1992.
BJP-led NDA secured a comfortable majority in Assam winning 75 seats of the total 126 constituencies. While BJP secured 60 seats, about 33 per cent, its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party, Liberal (UPPL) bagged nine and six seats respectively.

ANI

Pinarayi Vijayan first chief minister of Kerala to continue in office after full term

Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday May 20 took the oath for a second consecutive term as chief minister of Kerala breaking the decades-old alternate shift of power between Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the state.

Vijayan could become the only third Chief Minister in the state to be re-elected and the first to continue in office after completing a full term. The 76-year-old, who joined the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) in 1964 was elected as the 12th chief minister of Kerala after LDF came to power in 2016. In his first term, he had a tumultuous journey faced with opposition within the party as well as having to work really hard to gain popularity among the masses.

In November 2017 when Cyclone Ockhi hit Kerala, the Vijayan government was criticised for mishandling the disaster, which killed dozens of people, devastated fishing villages in Thiruvananthapuram, flooded farmlands and damaged houses. But during the floods in the state in 2018, Vijayan emerged as a great manager. During the crisis, he remained in the state capital to coordinate and oversee the rescue activities and relief measures personally, which increased his popularity among the masses.

Over the past five years, Vijayan has managed to cement his position in the state. During the Sabarimala Temple controversy — which erupted following the state government’s efforts to implement the Supreme Court’s order on lifting a centuries-old ban on entry of women of menstruating age to the temple — Vijayan stood steadfast in his decision of implementing the apex court’s order despite massive protest by opposition parties in the state.

The Sabrimala controversy has been ferociously raised by the Opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, during the campaign for the assembly elections. Vijayan has also been the target of the Opposition in the infamous gold-smuggling case. The gold-smuggling case relates to the seizure of about 30-kilogram gold worth Rs 14.82 crore from diplomatic baggage at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport in July 2020, which is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate, Customs and the National Investigation Agency. M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the chief minister who is currently suspended, was arrested in connection with the case. The case is being probed by various central agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate.

Vijayan, a Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) served as the secretary of the Kerala State Committee of CPI(M) from 1998 to 2015. He also served as Minister of Electricity and Co-operatives from 1996 to 1998 during E K Nayanar’s tenure as chief minister of Kerala. Three times Vijayan was elected to the state Legislative Assembly in 1977, 1991 and 1996. Vijayan won from Dharmadom constituency in 2016 assembly elections and was sworn-in as the 12th Chief Minister of Kerala on May 25, 2016.

Born in May 1945 into a poor toddy tapper’s family in Pinarayi in Kannur district is the youngest son of his parents. His wife is Kamala Vijayan and they have a daughter and a son.

During his days at Government Brennen College, where he read economics, Vijayan participated in student union activities and joined the Communist Party in 1964. He became Kannur district secretary of Kerala Students’ Federation (KSF), which became the Students Federation of India (SFI). He was state secretary and state president of the party.
He moved to Kerala State Youth Federation (KSYF) which later became the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). He was chosen as the president of the state committee. He has also been the president of the Kerala state co-operative bank.

Vijayan was arrested when the Emergency was imposed in the country in 1975. After MV Raghavan left the party, he became Kannur district secretary of CPI(M). He became a member of the state secretariat within three years and was elected to the CPI(M) politburo in 2002.

The state went to polls in a single phase on April 6 which witnessed contest, between the ruling LDF, which comprises CPI(M), CPI, Kerala Congress (M) and other smaller parties, and the UDF comprising of the Indian National Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Kerala Congress, Revolutionary Socialist Party and other smaller parties. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bharath Dharma Jana Sena are the main constituents of the NDA.

ANI

Kamala Achieved What She Wanted To, Says Aunt

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has achieved what she wanted to do, according to her maternal aunt Sarala Gopalan who lauded the Democrat for the poll victory.

“I am a doctor and I used to work in Chandigarh. Kamala has visited us a number times in Chandigarh and other places. We have always seen her (Kamala Harris) grow up as a good child. She was very good at whatever she did and she has achieved what she wanted to do,” she said.

Dr. Gopalan is the Chennai-based younger sister of Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan who was born in Chennai before she moved to the US for further studies. Shyamala was a leading cancer researcher and activist.

In her nomination acceptance speech earlier this year, Kamala Harris Harris had mentioned her aunts or chithis, as they are referred to in Tamil.

She added that the family is joyous about Kamala Harris scripting history by becoming the first woman and the first Vice-President-elect who is an Indian-American.

Kamala Harris’s maternal grandfather was born in Thulasenthirapuram, located about 320 km south of the city of Chennai. Shyamala was the daughter of PV Gopalan, a high-ranking civil servant.

The Democratic presidential candidate defeated President Donald Trump in a closely contested election and will be the 46th president of the United States.

In this, his third attempt at the White House, Biden, a four-decade Washington figure as a Senator and then a vice president, received more than 74 million votes, 4 million more than Trump, and more than any other presidential candidate. (ANI)

Republicans Split Over Conceding Electoral Defeat

Republicans are split on the projected win by President-elect Joe Biden even as President Donald Trump refused to concede defeat, claiming widespread voter fraud.

Some GOP lawmakers were more accepting of Biden’s lead on Sunday, after he was projected the winner, while others leaned more into Trump’s narrative of voter fraud, championing legal challenges by his campaign, reported The Hill.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah is one of two Republican senators who congratulated the president-elect on his win on Saturday, although he said that Trump will ‘keep on fighting until the very end’.

“You’re not gonna change the nature of President Trump in these last days, apparently, of his presidency,” Romney said.

Moments after Biden was projected to be the winner of the US presidential elections, Trump refused to concede defeat, saying that the election was “far from over”, and promised legal challenges by his re-election campaign.

Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan said on Sunday that though any potential evidence of widespread voter fraud should be released, but he doesn’t believe anything will overturn the projected election results.

“There are legal processes if you think there are mistakes, but I don’t think we’re gonna see anything that’s gonna overturn this election,” The Hill quoted Hogan, who spoke to CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Senator Pat Toomey also said that the news outlets were ‘probably correct’ to declare the winner of the election but stated that there was a reason why the count was done.

Earlier, former President George W Bush also called Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to congratulate him on his election victory, while also congratulating Trump for a hard-fought election.

“They [the people] have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government,” Bush said.

Trump’s campaign has filed several lawsuits to challenge the results in a few battleground states after the president spent months spreading unsubstantiated claims that mail-in ballots could open the election up to fraud, reported The Hill.

On the other hand, Senator Roy Blunt did not acknowledge Biden’s victory, instead noting that it was time for the President to present the facts, referring to allegations of voter fraud by the President.

“It’s time for the president’s lawyers to present the facts, and it’s time for those facts to speak for themselves,” Blunt told an American broadcast network.GOP South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem asserted that Biden’s win was the result of ‘illegal activities’.

Noem insisted that ‘computer glitches’ and reports of ‘dead people voting in Pennsylvania’ were examples of widespread fraud, reported New York Times.

“When you break the process on which we elect our leaders, you will break America forever,” she said.

“Every legal challenge should be heard,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader. “Then and only then will America decide who won the race.”

Likewise, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urged Mr. Trump to refuse to concede and fight on.

“Do not accept the media’s declaration of Biden,” said Graham, on Fox News on Sunday morning. He called the election “contested” and urged: “Do not concede, Mr President. Fight hard.”

Meanwhile, several Republican leaders and lawmakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, have refrained from making comments on Biden’s win, which has left Trump to battle against the election results without the full vocal support of his party behind him.

Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, defeated Trump in a closely contested election and will be the 46th president of the United States. He is the oldest person elected President in the history of the US at the age of 78.

In his third attempt at the White House, Biden, a four-decade Washington figure as a Senator and then a vice president, received more than 74 million votes, 4 million more than Trump, and more than any other presidential candidate. (ANI)

Biden Close To Victory With Growing Lead In Pennsylvania

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden closes in on victory in the high staked US Presidential elections as his lead over President Donald Trump is growing the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

A new batch of votes from Allegheny County was counted and released tonight, widening Biden’s lead over President Trump by 27,130 votes, according to a CNN tally. There are 20 electoral votes at play in the state.

Of the 9,288 votes counted, 7,300 were for Biden, and 1,875 were for Trump, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s order for Pennsylvania election officials to put aside late-arriving ballots and count them separately is in line with previous guidance from the secretary of state.

“I think what Justice Alito’s order does is … preserve the status quo, the way things are now,” said Republican elections lawyer Benjamin moments after the ruling tonight.

The ruling comes in a wake of a filing today from Pennsylvania Republicans who argued in court that not every county in the state was abiding by the secretary of state’s guidance, which may not be legally binding.

As slow-moving counting of ballot proceeds, the chances of Trump to win the race falters. He needs 56 electoral college votes to reach the magic 270.

Seeing defeat at his doorstep, Donald Trump has cried foul of elections fraud and vowed to take the legal route.

Meanwhile, there are an estimated 124,500 outstanding ballots in Nevada, according to the secretary of state’s office.

This number includes 58,000 mail ballots and 66,500 voter registration ballots to be counted — 90 per cent of the ballots to be counted are in Clark County.

Voting took place on November 3 for the elections. While counting has been completed in many states, Alaska, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are still counting ballots and winners have not been projected in those states.

Currently, Joe Biden is projected to have won 253 electoral votes and President Donald Trump 214. The race goes to the contender with 270 votes. (ANI)

We Will Be Declared Winner Once Vote Count Ends: Biden

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) stated that there was no doubt that when the vote count of the US Presidential polls was finished, he and Senator Kamala Harris would be declared the winners.

While delivering a statement from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said: “The Senator and I continue to feel very good about where things stand. We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners. So I ask all people to stay calm. The process is working, the count is being completed and we will know very soon. So thank you all for your patience but we’ve got to count the votes.”

The former Vice President also emphasised that every vote must be counted in order to confirm a winner in the Presidential race, and asked people to be patient.

“In America, the vote is sacred. It has helped the people of this nation to express their will, and it is the will of the voters, no one, not anything else, that chooses the President of the USA. So each ballot must be counted and that is what we are going to see going through now, and that is how it should be,” he said.

He mentioned that while democracy is sometimes messy and sometimes it requires a little patience, but that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the ‘envy of the world’.

In his statement, Biden also acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic and the lives lost due to the virus, after attending a briefing on the pandemic.

“Cases are on the rise nationwide and we are nearing 240,000 deaths due to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to each and everyone who has lost a loved one to this terrible disease,” he said.

According to CNN, Biden has a 40-point lead over US President Donald Trump in electoral votes as of 4 pm ET (2:30 am IST). (ANI)

Trump Says ‘STOP THE COUNT’ As Biden Leads

While the US awaits the final results of the votes cast on November 3, President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded the vote count be stopped.

Taking to Twitter, Trump said, “STOP THE COUNT!”

In another tweet, he said, “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!”

This comes as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads Trump in several states including Arizona and Nevada.

Earlier, President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign had filed a lawsuit to stop ballot counting in Michigan and Pennsylvania and to prevent the counting of absentee ballots in Georgia that it claims arrived after the deadline on Election Day.

The USA Today reported that the announcements of the Pennsylvania and Michigan lawsuits came shortly before Biden was projected on Wednesday afternoon to win Michigan. As of Wednesday afternoon, he led President Donald Trump by about 46,000 votes with 96 per cent of the estimated votes tallied. (ANI)

Biden Inches Ahead, Needs To Pocket Nevada, Arizona

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is edging towards a victory over incumbent President Donald Trump in the fierce battle of US Presidential elections with 253 projected Electoral College votes.

Biden needs 17 more votes to win the race as counting is underways in key states including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona, according to New York Times projections.

US President Donald Trump, despite winning the big states of Florida, North Carolina, currently has only 214 votes, according to a tally by New York Times.

In a last-ditch effort, Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania, challenging the state Supreme Court’s decision to allow officials to count ballots received as late as three days after Election Day if they were postmarked November 3 or before.

Addressing his supporters on Wednesday, Biden said he “believes” he will win. He flipped Arizona and Wisconsin while taking California, Washington, New York and Illinois.

With narrow wins in Wisconsin and Michigan called on Wednesday afternoon, Biden has flipped two of the three northern industrial states that handed Trump the White House in 2016.

Nevada, which has only 6 electoral votes, has also become important as Biden needs 17 more votes. Vice President Joseph R Biden leads President Trump in the state, but by less than one percentage point.

With millions of votes yet to be counted across several key states, Biden is holding narrow leads in Arizona and Nevada. If he can hold those states, the former vice president could win the election even without Pennsylvania.

On Wednesday, Trump claimed victory prematurely and continued to falsely claim ballots counted after Election Day signal malfeasance. He takes Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and Texas.

Trump’s chances of winning a second term depended on his ability to hang on to his leads in states like Georgia and in Pennsylvania — where Biden has been narrowing the gap as vote counting progresses — and on overtaking Biden in one of the states where he is currently ahead.

Pennsylvania’s secretary of state said there were more than 1.4 million mail-in ballots still to be counted, and those votes are expected to heavily favour Biden.

Trump held leads in North Carolina and Georgia, and his campaign expressed hopes that his early Pennsylvania lead could withstand an influx of mail-in ballots for Biden. (ANI)