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Special officer Sanjiv Kumar named to enforce poll code in Bengaluru




Karnataka’s Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar has named senior IAS officer Munish Moudgil as Special Officer to enforce the Model Code of Conduct strictly in the city’s three Lok Sabha constituencies where polling is on April 18, it was announced on Sunday.

“Moudgil has been appointed as Special Officer to enforce the poll code for controlling the movement of cash, liquor and freebies in all the three parliamentary seats after it was found that the enforcement teams, including the flying squads were not effectively regulating them,” said Kumar in a statement.

Presently the Commissioner for Survey Settlement and Land Records in the state Revenue Department, Moudgil will monitor activities of the enforcement teams and develop software to track their movement daily as it has become a challenge to enforce the poll code and monitor the expenditure of political parties, candidates and their agents, Kumar added.

Meanwhile, the flying squads, static surveillance teams and excise teams have cumulatively seized Rs 15.45 crore in cash, 17,694 litres of country liquor (arrack) valued at Rs 62.14 lakh and 136 kg drugs worth Rs 6.42 lakh from across the state from parties, their candidates and agents since the Lok Sabha elections to the state’s 28 seats was announced on March 10 by the poll panel.

The state Excise Department has also cumulatively seized 8.83 lakh litres of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) valued at Rs 35.94 crore from across the state.

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Akalis proposed protest brazen attempt: Punjab CM




Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday termed the Akalis’ decision to hold a state-wide ‘chakka jam’ on September 25, the day when Punjab’s farmers had already announced a lockdown against the farm Bills, as yet another brazen attempt by the BJP ally to exploit the sentiments of the farmers.

“Why don’t you go to Delhi and do a chakka jam outside the homes of BJP leaders and others who have shamelessly sold off the interests of Punjab’s farmers to the big corporate houses for their own petty interests?” the Chief Minister said, daring the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to quit the Central government if it really cared for the farmers.

Amarinder Singh lambasted SAD President Sukhbir Badal and his wife Harsimrat Kaur for continuing to indulge in their hypocritical pretense of standing with the farmers in the face of the blatant attack on their livelihood by the very government of which the Akalis are a part.

“What are these double standards? Why did your core committee today not take a decision on quitting the BJP-led NDA coalition?” he asked Sukhbir.

Questioning the SAD announcement of holding ‘chakka jams’ across Punjab “in league with the farmers, ‘khet mazdoors and arhtiyas’, the Chief Minister said this clearly exposed the Akalis’ malicious intentions, since the farmers’ and other organisations had already declared a lockdown for September 25 several days ago, when the Akalis were still busy projecting the unconstitutional and dangerous agriculture Bills as beneficial for the farming community.

There is clearly some malafide intent behind the Akalis’ decision to jump, at this juncture, into the farmers’ pre-planned agitation, he said, adding that the farmers will not be fooled by these antics.

The games that the SAD, led by the Badals, has been playing with the farmers for the past several months, beginning with the introduction of the vicious Ordinances, have totally exposed their double standards on this issue of critical importance not just to the farmers of Punjab but to the entire state, said Amarinder Singh.

The Centre is clearly out to ruin Punjab, and the Akalis have been actively supporting this agenda with all their might, he said, adding that their purported U-turn or rethink on the issue also appears to be a conspiracy to undermine their agitation.

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Coming to power, developing Andhra Pradesh among priorities: Somu Veerraju



BJP President Somu Veerraju. (Photo: twitter@somveerraju)

The BJP’s Andhra Pradesh unit chief Somu Veerraju on Tuesday said that it is not only important for the saffron party to gain power in the state but it should also catapult it to the top position in terms of development.

“As much as it is important for the BJP to come to power in Andhra, it is also important to develop the state,” said Veerraju at the new party office bearers meeting.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came from very humble backgrounds and went on to put India in a strong position in the international community.

“With a similar thought process, today we want to make Andhra a self-sufficient Andhra (Samrudh Andhra) in all aspects,” said the BJP leader.

Commenting on the state of politics in Andhra Pradesh, he said there is no need for the BJP to criticize any political party but highlighted that politics in the southern state revolve around dynasties.

As part of the meeting, the BJP paid tributes to party workers who succumbed to the coronavirus and Veerraju unveiled a district Sevahi Sanghatan e-book.

“During the difficult pandemic time, party workers discharged many welfare activities on a call given by Modi and J. P. Nadda. This e-book details such activities up to the mandal level,” said a party official.

BJP National Joint Secretary V. Satish, National Secretary and co-incharge of Andhra, Sunil Deodhar and others participated in the programme.

Recently, the BJP appointed a slew of office bearers in the party including 10 vice-presidents, five general secretaries, five state secretaries, seven state morcha presidents and six spokespersons.

Andhra Pradesh is one of the four southern states where the BJP is yet to taste success, even as it has came to power in Karnataka.

Following the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into two states in 2014, the Congress party was decimated from the state’s political scene.

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Asaduddin Owaisi-Devendra alliance may change poll equations in Bihar




The announcement by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Chief Asaduddin Owaisi to form the United Democratic Secular Alliance (UDSA) with former MP and Samajwadi Janata Dal (Democratic) Chief Devendra Prasad Yadav for the upcoming Bihar assembly elections has given an interesting turn to the battle at the hustings.

With Owaisi and the SJD (D) entering the poll arena in Bihar together, the political fight won’t be easy for any of the parties in the Seemanchal region of the state.

Forging an alliance with Devendra Yadav’s party, Owaisi has made a political move to play a spoiler of votes for the Yadav and Muslim voters of Bihar who are considered the traditional pocket boroughs of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Though the UDSA has not yet decided on the number of seats it will contest in the Assembly elections, it is believed that the alliance will field their candidates in Kosi and Purnia regions.

The Muslim vote will supposedly be decisive in 15 to 17 seats in Seemanchal but there are many other constituencies where Muslim voters could influence the poll results.

In the 2015 elections, Owaisi’s party had fielded candidates for six seats and all of them suffered resounding defeats. On five seats, his party candidates lost their deposits. However, in 2019 the AIMIM’s Qamrul Hoda won the Kishanganj seat in the Bihar bypolls.

Political expert and senior journalist from Kishanganj Ratneshwar Jha opines that in the wake of the alliance by Owaisi and Yadav, it is certain that there will be a split in the Yadav and Muslim votes to the disadvantage of the RJD.

Jha says, “The voters who will be targeted by the UDSA have been considered to be the vote banks of the Opposition grand alliance (Mahagathbandhan) so the number of votes that UDSA gets will only harm the Mahagathbandhan.”

Owaisi’s poll campaign has always been aggressive and polarising so it would not be surprising if he swings voters in his favour from other areas of Bihar as well.

RJD spokesman Mrityunjay Tiwari denies any political threat from the AIMIM-SJD (D) alliance, saying, “There is a direct political fight between two ideologies in Bihar. Apart from this, whichever party is contesting this election and at whose behest they do so, the people of Bihar know it well. Whichever party tries to weaken the political fight against the BJP, the people of the state will give them a befitting reply.”

The RJD may reject the UDSA but it will surely make a dent in the Muslim and Yadav vote banks. In the Muslim-dominated areas, Owaisi could field his party candidates which might pay the BJP political dividends. It is certain that not all Muslims will vote for Owaisi and there will be a split in the community’s votes.

On the AIMIM-SJD alliance giving the BJP a political advantage, party spokesperson Dr Nikhil Anand said, “Leaders like Owaisi are always trying to garner Muslim votes through the politics of appeasement by invoking the sentiments of the community. The people of Bihar clearly understand the ideology of such leaders.”

He said the National Democratic Alliance will defeat those parties who play politics on the basis of religion and caste. This election will be fought on the plank of development in Bihar, he added.

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