Violence Mars Third Phase Of Polling

Several incidents of violence were reported from many parts of the country, specially from West Bengal, where voting wass underway for the third phase of Lok Sabha elections on Tuesday.

In West Bengal, a man was killed and at least three Trinamool Congress (TMC) activists injured in the different incidents of violence.

The deceased, Tiyarul Kalam, was standing in the queue to cast his vote when he sustained injuries in clashes erupted between Congress and TMC workers in Baligram area of Murshidabad parliamentary constituency. The violence broke out over allegations of proxy voting at booth number 188.

In another incident, three TMC workers were injured after being hit by a crude bomb hurled at them in Domkal municipality of Murshidabad Lok Sabha constituency.

Some unidentified men hurled the bomb near polling booth 27, 28 in Murshidabad’s Raninagar area.

In yet another incident, a polling agent was found dead at his house in Buniadpur area of Dakshin Dinajpur district. The cause of his death is not clear yet.

Meanwhile, West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party wrote a letter to Chief Election Officer and Special Observer to the state alleging “violence and intimidation” by TMC.

“It has been seen that TMC has resorted to intimidating and threatening voters, especially in Hindu villages. Genuine voters have been threatened with dire consequences if they go to vote,” the letter stated.

In Jammu and Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters thrashed a National Conference (NC) polling agent in a polling station in Bijbehara of Anantnag district alleging bogus voting in favour of NC.

In Uttar Pradesh, BJP cadres thrashed an election officer at booth number 231 in Moradabad, alleging he was asking voters to press the ‘Cycle’ symbol of the Samajwadi party.

A scuffle between Congress and BJP workers broke out at booth number 2 in Bagalkot of Karnataka where Congress activists alleged that BJP workers were bringing engineering students to vote.

A polling officer at booth number 41 in Kantapal village in Dhenkanal, Odisha, died after collapsing while on duty.

BJP workers beat up an NCP worker at SDM office in Bhopal after he allegedly showed black flags to Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur during her roadshow in Madhya Pradesh’s capital city.

As many as 13 states and two Union territories are voting in the third phase in which 116 Lok Sabha seats are at stake.

Counting of votes will be held on May 23. (ANI)

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Rahul Attacks Mamata In West Bengal

Launching his party’s poll campaign in West Bengal, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday slammed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying she makes only “fake promises” and “lies to the people” like Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rahul said the Congress workers are beaten up in West Bengal and added, “let our government to power in Delhi, then you shall see what happens”.

Addressing his maiden poll rally in West Bengal’s Malda, he said, “Did the youth get employment, did the farmers receive any help? Like Modi, Mamata Banerjee makes only fake promises and lies to the people.”

He went on to add, “On the one hand, Narendra Modi ji lies and on the other hand, your Chief Minister (Mamata Banerjee) keeps on making promises but nothing happens… Mamata has done nothing for the state. She just gives long speeches. Everyone knows about Bengal…the state is running for just one person.”

Rahul expressed confidence that the Congress will form the government in West Bengal in the next Assembly polls.

The Congress President also took a jibe at Modi’s ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ campaign, saying he is watchman only for the rich people as the poor people do not need guards.

“In 2014, chowkidar (a reference to Modi) said, ‘I do not want to be the Prime Minister, I want to become a ‘chowkidar’. After being caught on his lies, he says ‘we all are ‘chowkidar’. Modi ji, the poor do not keep ‘chowkidars’. Only the rich people do. Modi should know that watchmen are not found in the houses of the poor but only at the residences of rich people like Anil Ambani.”

Rahul also said that the BJP spreads hatred, while his Congress party speaks about brotherhood.

“We bring all religions together and talk about brotherhood, while the BJP spreads hatred among people in forms of language and religion,” he said.

He also said that the Congress has decided to introduce a minimum income guarantee scheme, if it comes to power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Under the proposed scheme, a certain amount will be directly deposited in the accounts of the beneficiaries.

“We will fight poverty through minimum income guarantee,” he added.

West Bengal will have polling in all seven phases of the elections which begin on April 11 and conclude on May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.

(ANI)

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Beyond Kairana: Not a pretty picture for BJP

Maharashtra, two Lok Sabha seats were fought for. Once rivals Congress and Nationalist Congress Party fought as a team and once brothers in saffron BJP and Shiv Sena fought each other, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party putting up as candidate the son of the MP whose death necessitated the bypoll in Palghar. The BJP took this seat, but by a winning margin of about 30,000 votes as opposed to almost 300,000 in the 2014 election. The other Maharashtra seat was Bhandara-Gondiya, in the saffron-friendly Vidarbha region. The BJP lost the seat, and face. It lost to the NCP by a good 50,000-odd votes. In 2014, the BJP candidate Nana Patole—whose defection to the Congress over what he called PM Modi’s neglect of farmer’s issues—had won by three times that margin. The wave is gone, and more importantly, the Shiv Sena who the BJP calls its oldest ally has had its claws out for Big Brother through the campaign, and now after it even as the larger party is articulating placatory whimpers. Maharashtra gave the BJP-SS partnership 41 of its 48 Lok Sabha seats last time, and a resurgent Congress-NCP partnership in the absence of a Modi wave is bad news indeed for the BJP. Kneeling before Uddhav may well be the best-case scenario for the BJP in next year’s big one, and even that may not help much. The one seat from Nagaland went to BJP ally Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, as expected—one of the truisms of Indian politics is that Northeast voters tend to back the ruling party at the Centre in bypolls. The BJP has made great inroads in the Northeast region in recent years—it rules in six of the ‘seven sisters’ now—but it’s also true even a vigorous performance here in 2019 will not make much impact on the big numbers of the next Lok Sabha election.The seven states put together have as many seats as Rajasthan alone. Kairana was the big loss, a united Opposition defeating the BJP with voters cutting across caste and religious lines to back the challenger. Also, it cannot be overlooked that Prime Minister Modi held a massive roadshow in a nearby district to showcase a spanking new highway, and followed it up the same day— one day before the vote in Kairana—with a rally in Baghpat where he reached to sugarcane farmers. He got the issue right, for it was ‘ganna over Jinnah’ in the end, only voters didn’t expect the BJP to address the issue. Shades of Karnataka in Kairana; Modi uping his rallies from 15 to 21 didn’t turn the southern state around, and Baghpat didn’t do the trick either. The new battle order that is coming up has even resurrected Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal that got wiped out from its western Uttar Pradesh stronghold last time. It is also significant to note that Ajit’s father, and once prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh was the architect of the Hindu-Muslim peace and amity that sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh once exemplified. That peace was missing in the 2014 Lok Sabha election: polarisation may have crossed its expiration date in the the largest arena of 2019 . The Assembly seats The BJP got just one—Tharali in Uttarakhand—in a set that was sprinkled pretty representatively across the nation. Noteworthy here is desperately thin margin of victory—about 2,000 votes—in what has been traditionally regarded as a saffron state since it was created about two decades ago by an NDA government. Uttarakhand isn’t in the BJP bag either for 2019. In Punjab, the seat of Shahkot was taken from the Akali Dal by the Congress. Punjab has been regarded as a bellwether state, and the Congress victory in the 2017 Assembly elections as the backdrop of the latest contest has a strong message for the BJP. Significantly, the Aam Aadmi Party candidate came third, losing his deposit and even the vote in his native village in the process. The Akali Dal is down for the count, and AAP has slid out of the reckoning. More worrisome for the BJP is that Haryana’s simmering peasantry appears set to follow the Punjab example, with both Congress and the Chautala clan resurgent in the agricultural state. That’s 23 Lok Sabha seats from the two agrarian neighbour states for 2019 the BJP needs to worry about. In West Bengal, Didi’s Trinamool took the Maheshtala seat by over a chunky 60,000-vote margin. The BJP came second but that’s just a repeat of what has been happening in the state despite a focussed saffron effort, a noticeable increase in its popular support but one that’s not enough to shake Mamata Banerjee. Didi’s in the saddle, and she looks set to ride unscathed through the 2019 battle. Jokihat in Bihar was another upset, Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal winning this battle of prestige and stamping another question mark on Nitish Kumar’s swinging politics. This is the third straight loss for Nitish after he dumped the RJD and Congress in July 2017 to walk out of the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) that had so comprehensively won the 2015 Assembly elections, Araria Lok Sabha and Jehanbad Assembly bypolls the other two that the RJD took. Given the RJD’s incredible performance in 2015—it won 81 of the 101 seats it contested—and the way its fortunes remain on the up, the future isn’t looking too bright for either Nitish’s Janata Dal (United) or the BJP. And Nitish may well be out of swinging room. Bihar could be where this unlikeliest of BJP allies sinks with the saffron party in 2019. Ampati in Meghalaya brought back memories of Karnataka again, as Congress candidate Miani D Shira, daughter of former chief minister Mukul Sangma defeated Clement G Momin of the National People’s Party. With 21 legislators, the Congress is now the single largest party in the state Assembly, and can, following the Karnataka model, stake claim to form the government. The NPP has 20 seats and the support of 15 other MLAs, including two from the BJP. In Karnataka, fresh from the churn of the recent Assembly elections and the hurly-burly of government formation, the Congress thumbed its nose at the BJP, winning the RR Nagar bypoll with 40,000 votes to spare. If not entirely expected, the other results were not as surprising. They are: * Chengannur, Kerala: CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front’s Saji Cheriyan beat Congress as well as BJP candidates. * Noorpur, Uttar Pradesh: Samajwadi Party candidate Naeemul Hasan, supported by the Congress, BSP and AAP beat the BJP candidate by 6,000-odd votes, a relatively slim margin but yet another winner for a combined Opposition. * Silli and Gomia, Jharkhand: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) retained both seats. * Palus Kadegaon, Maharashtra: Congress candidate Vishwajeet Patangrao Kadam, the son of sitting MLA Patangrao Kadam whose death neccessitated the poll, won the seat uncontested. — The author tweets @NSDahiya]]>