Brisk polling much on the line of the other phases was recorded in the fifth phase of polling in West Bengal where 45 constituencies across six districts including Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Aklimpong, Nadia, North 24 Parganas and East Burdwan are going for the polls on Saturday. Altogether 1,13,73,307 voters will exercise their franchise in 15,789 polling stations spread across six districts.
According to the first two hours data released by the Election Commission, the six districts cumulatively recorded a polling percentage of 16.27 with Jalpaiguri recording the highest of 18.62 per cent followed by East Burdwan and Nadia that recorded polling percentage of 16.89 and 16.52 per cent respectively. Kalimpong recorded the lowest percentage of 14 per cent and Darjeeling a shade better with 14.88 per cent. North 24 Parganas recorded a polling percentage of 15.3.
So far no major incidents were reported as the Election Commission is extremely cautious after Sitalkuchi incident where four persons were killed in the firing of the central forces in the last phase and has made a huge security arrangement for the fifth round of election.
Poling is being held in 16 constituencies in North 24 Parganas, 8 constituencies each in East Burdwan and Nadia, 7 constituencies in Jalpaiguri, 5 in Darjeeling and I in Kalimpong where 319 candidates will test their political future. The phase is likely to be very important because of the 45 constituencies that are going for the poll, the Trinamool got 23 seats and the BJP shared the rest of the 22 in respect to the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
The Election Commission has made an adequate arrangement to avoid any kind of untoward incident and has deployed 853 companies of central forces for Saturday’s elections. The highest deployment of 283 companies will be in North 24 Parganas with 69 companies each for Barasat Police District and Barrackpore Police Commissionerate, 107 companies for Basirhat and 46 companies for Bidhannagar. There will be 122 companies for seven seats in Jalpaiguri district, 68 companies for four seats in Darjeeling, 53 companies for Siliguri and 21 companies for Kalimpong with 301 booths. There will be 151 companies for the eight constituencies in Nadia district and 155 companies for 8 constituencies in East Burdwan.
Sand mafia in Punjab worth Rs 20,000 crore: Kejriwal
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the sand mafia in Punjab alone runs illegal business of over Rs 20,000 crore.
There are serious allegations of direct involvement of ruling Congress MLAs, their ministers and their close associates, including the Chief Minister himself.
Kejriwal was responding to the queries of the media persons on his arrival at Sri Guru Ramdas Ji International Airport here. He was on a day-long visit to Punjab for participation in party programmes.
He said when allegations of involvement of the Congress MLAs and ministers, including the Chief Minister, in sand mafia and many other illegal activities are being levelled, then who will protect the interests of the general public?
“Who will save the interest of Punjab? To whom will the common people go for justice? Can the welfare of Punjab and the people of Punjab be expected from such mafia and patrons of mafia state?”
Kejriwal said earlier the Badals and the BJP had looted the state by patronizing all sorts of mafia during their regime.
In 2017, people expressed their faith in the promises made by the Congress and the Captain (Amarinder Singh), but they too followed the footsteps of the Badals.
He said according to an estimate, illegal trade of Rs 20,000 crore per annum in sand and gravel mining alone was going on in Punjab. This money can be used for the welfare of the people, but it is going into the pockets of the leaders instead of the government coffers.
Kejriwal promised that with the formation of the AAP government in 2022, all sorts of mafia, including illegal sand mining, would be shut down.
The money that is going into the pockets of political leaders from the resources of the state due to mafia rule will go to the needy pockets of mothers, sisters and the elderly.
RS adjourned for the day amid Oppn ruckus
Amid Opposition ruckus in the Rajya Sabha, no business could be conducted on Tuesday as the House was adjourned for the day.
After the proceedings began at 11 a.m., the House was first adjourned till 2 p.m. and then till 3 p.m. It was finally adjourned for the day as the discussion on the surrogacy bill started.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue of the suspension of 12 MPs from the House and RJD MP Manoj Jha too raised a point of order, but was rejected by the Chair.
Environment Minister Bhupinder Yadav also raised a point of order that Congress leader Jairam Ramesh was speaking from other seat, and following sloganeering the deputy chairman adjourned the House for the day.
The faceoff continued with the Treasury Bench demanding an apology from the suspended protesting MPs which is bring denied as the opposition insist that they are not at fault.
“The suspension of the MPs is against Constitution as the incident is of previous session as the house was adjourned its wrong to suspend them in Winter session,” Kharge said.
Earlier, the opposition leaders, including Sharad Pawar, joined the protesting MPs and Kharge said that the opposition will join the MPs and observe fast for a day.
Kharge, floor leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and other Opposition MPs protested in support of the suspended MPs in front of the Gandhi statue in Parliament House.
The suspended MPs are Syed Naseer Hussain, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Phulo Devi Netam, Chhaya Verma, Ripun Bora and Rajmani Patel of the Congress; Priyanka Chaturvedi, Anil Desai of the Shiv Sena; Elamaram Kareem of the CPI-M, Binoy Viswam of the CPI; and Dola Sen and Shanta Chhetri of the Trinamool Congress.
Rahul Gandhi demands compensation for families dead farmers
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday demanded compensation for families of the farmers who lost their lives during the protests against the three farm laws which has now been withdrawn by the Central government.
Raising the issue during the Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi further said that around 700 farmers died during the protests and requested the Centre to pay compensation and give government jobs to the family members.
He also said that the Punjab government has already given financial assistance of Rs 5 lakhs to the families of the deceased and also provided jobs.
“I want the farmers to be given their rights, they should be given compensation as well as jobs, the Punjab government has given Rs 5 lakh compensation for around 400 farmers and also provided jobs for 152 of them,” he said.
The Congress MP also claimed that he had a list of the names of the dead farmers and will produce it in the House.
“We have made another list of 70 farmers from Haryana which I will also lay in the House,” he said.
“The Prime Minister apologised to the nation and the farmers. He also accepted that he made a mistake. On November 30, Agricultural Minister (Narendra Singh Tomar) was asked a question – how many farmers died in the agitation? He said he doesn’t have any data.”
Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi moved an adjournment motion notice in the Lok Sabha seeking compensation for the families of the dead farmers but was turned down by the Speaker.
The government in its earlier reply to a question, said that it has not kept track of farmers who lost their lives in the agitation and hence the question of compensation does not arise.
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