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Grand Alliance releases Bihar poll manifesto, pledges change




The Grand Alliance in Bihar on Saturday released its joint election manifesto or ‘Sankalp Patra’, and reiterated its commitment to give 10 lakh jobs to the state’s youths and waive farm loans if it returned to power.

Entitled ‘Our Pledge for Change’, the manifesto was released by Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav in the presence of Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala and other Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan partner leaders.

The manifesto promises to waive fees for various recruitment examinations in Bihar, apart from travel cost of candidates to the examination centres. Candidates of all castes and communities will be exempted from fee payable for government recruitment. They will also be able to travel free of cost from district headquarters to the examination centres inside the state.

It also promises ‘same pay for same work’ for contract teachers, apart from opening Karpuri labour distress centres.

One person from each rural family would be included under MGNREGA, and policies made to create more jobs under this scheme. Privatisation in every government department will be abolished and casual employees made permanent in the same departments, the manifesto promised.

Taking a dig at the Nitish Kumar government, Tejashwi said Bihar had failed to get special status even when a ‘double engine’ government was in power in the state and the Centre. “Will US President Donald Trump come to get Bihar the special status?” he asked.

Congress state President Madan Mohan Jha, Congress leader Akhilesh Singh, CPI-ML leader Shashi Yadav, CPI-M leader Arun Sinha, and CPI leader Ram Babu Kumar were also present on the occasion.

The elections for 243 Assembly seats will be held in three phases — for 71 seats on October 28, for 94 seats on November 3, and remaining 78 on November 7. The results will be announced on November 10.

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Congress revs up for ‘tractor yatras’ to counter BJP on farm laws



The opposition Congress plans to hold ‘tractor rallies’ across the country in November in line with Rahul Gandhi’s similar endeavour in Punjab and Haryana earlier this month in order to counter the BJP’s efforts to drum up support for the three central farm laws.

The Congress leadership has asked its state units to prepare for the tractor rallies proposed to be held in the first fortnight of next month.

In his letter to the Pradesh Congress Committees, party General Secretary KC Venugopal said:” To continue our fight, the PCCs are requested to take out ‘tractor yatras’ in their respective states in which all state office-bearers apart from members of Parliament and MLAs along with Congress affairs incharges will participate.

“The occassion should be utilised to demolish the farmers’ yatra undertaken by the BJP and galvanise public opinion against the three central farm laws,” the Rajya Sabha MP added.

Rahul Gandhi had led the Congress’ first ‘tractor rally’ on October 4 from Badhni Kalan town in Moga district of Punjab. During his three-day visit to the state as part of the ‘Kheti Bachao Yatra’, his rallies covered Moga, Ludhiana, Sangrur and Patiala districts in the Malwa region. On October 6, the ‘tractor rally’ entered Haryana through the Pehowa border.

The Congress said it had also chalked out a strategy to corner the Modi government on key issues of economic policy, farmers and women’s safety in the coming weeks.

The Congress said that the party’s future course of action has been decided on what it called the “anti-farmers, anti-women, anti-labour and anti-poor policies and actions” of the BJP-led central government and the state governments.

BJP leaders had held ‘Kisan Dhanyawaad Yatra’ while riding a convoy of tractors that passed through villages in Jagadhri block of Yamunanagar district in Haryana a few days ago, apart from holding ‘tractor pujas’ and rallies earlier this month.

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Amid drop in daily Covid tally, Goa CM Pramod Sawant advocates caution



Pramod Sawant.

Amid a second consecutive drop in the daily tally of new Covid-19 infections, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has urged people to not self-medicate in case of a fever and opt for testing themselves for the coronavirus infection.

Speaking to reporters late on Monday night outside the Bharatiya Janata Party state headquarters in Panaji, Sawant also said that social distancing norms and basic precautionary measures like wearing of masks and use of hand sanitiser would continue to be imposed in the coming days.

“Even though Covid cases have come down, social distancing, masks and sanitisers should be used. We need this for a lot many more days ahead,” Sawant told reporters.

The state over the last few weeks had reported a daily tally of between 300 and 500 cases. On Sunday and Monday however, the daily tally of cases dropped to 187 and 159 respectively, with doctors in the state also suggesting that the state may be finally witnessing a drop in the positivity rate.

Sawant also said that while the number of daily Covid-19 cases appeared to be dipping, people should not take the situation for granted.

“It is my earnest request to the people, get themselves tested if they have a fever. Do not self-medicate. It is a new virus. We cannot say when there can be a spike. Precaution should be 100 per cent,” the Chief Minister said.

In all, Goa has reported 40,746 Covid-19 positive cases out of which 3,283 are currently active.

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Kerala local body polls likely to be held in December




The postponed local body polls in Kerala in all likelihood are going to be held during the first week of December, according to sources.

The election will be held to elect new representatives to 941 village councils, 152 block Panchayats, 14 district Panchayats, 86 municipalities and six municipal corporations.

This poll is being seen as the curtain raiser of the Assembly polls, which may be held in May 2021.

According to the earlier planned schedule, the newly elected members of the local bodies had to be in office by November 12, but following the sudden spike in the Covid cases, all the political parties agreed to postpone the polls.

According to the present scheme of things, the Kerala State Election Commission has zeroed down on likely dates. Sources say that the poll is likely to be held in two phases in the first week of December and the newly elected office bearers are likely to take charge by December 11.

The voters list, numbering 2.63 crore, is also getting finalised. The number of new voters is around 15 lakh and the poll timing would be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The current voter list, which is getting finalised, consists of 1,25,40,302 men, 1,36,84,019 women and 180 trans genders. This includes the new voters — 6,78,147 men, 8,01,328 women and 66 trans genders.

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