Reiterating its demand to hold repoll in 464 of the 1,679 polling stations in the Tripura West Lok Sabha constituency, the CPI-M led Left Front opposition on Sunday demanded free and fair polling in the Tripura East seat which goes to the polls in the second phase on April 18.
The Left parties would hold a sit-in here on Tuesday in support of their demands.
“Do not turn the Lok Sabha polls in the Tripura East seat on April 18 into a farce as was done in the Tripura West constituency on April 11,” Left Front convenor Bijan Dhar told Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sriram Taranikanti on Sunday.
Dhar, who led a five-member delegation to the CEO to submit their memorandum, said even Taranikanti confessed that he had received over 800 complaints during the first phase of polling which were being scrutinised by the Returning Officer of the Tripura West seat along with other poll related documents and electronic devises which documented the balloting.
Dhar, a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) central committee member, said: “Since the first parliamentary elections in the country in 1952, Tripura had never witnessed such farcical and violent polling as was witnessed by the people of the state on April 11.
“The traditional festive milieu was completely missing during the first phase of polling, as the BJP workers and their hoodlums intimidated, prevented and attacked thousands of voters, including innocent BJP supporters, on the polling day and even few days before the voting.”
“Even during the Congress rule (before 1978 and 1988-1993), the people of Tripura never witnessed such a mockery of polling. The BJP workers and their goons drove out Left and other parties’ polling agents from hundreds of polling stations and prevented thousands of opposition supporters from casting their votes.”
Demanding the effective deployment of central paramilitary forces and state forces for the second phase of polling, the Left leaders said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments at the Centre and in Tripura kept the security forces out of poll duties to facilitate rigging by its party workers.
The Left delegation to the CEO, which included state CPI-M Secretary Gautam Das and leaders from the Forward Bloc, the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Communist Party of India, demanded adequate deployment of central paramilitary forces in all the 1,645 polling stations in the Tripura East constituency, which is reserved for the tribals.
The delegation also alleged that on April 11, state Agriculture Minister Pranajit Singh Roy and several other BJP MLAs freely roamed around many polling areas and indulged in electoral malpractices.
Rubbishing the allegations, BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee said in a media briefing that CPI-M candidate Shankar Prasad Datta had instigated the police to arrest and torture saffron party members in Barjala, near here, on Saturday.
“The opposition parties, especially the CPI-M, have got a clear message of their impending defeat. That’s why they are trying to deteriorate the law and order situation in the state,” Bhattacharjee said.
Multiplexes to reopen with 50% seating from October 15
In its latest guidelines for further reopening, the Union Home Ministry has allowed certain activities such as functioning of cinemas, theatres and multiplexes with 50% seating capacity from October 15.
However, cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes will have to strictly adhere to standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
Meanwhile, Business to Business exhibitions will also be permitted to open from October 15, for which SOP will be issued by the Department of Commerce.
In what can be a breather for professional swimmers, swimming pools being used for training of sportspersons have been permitted to open from October 15. However, they must adhere to certain SOP to be issued by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.
In news that is certain to bring cheer to many, entertainment parks will also be permitted to open from October 15, said the MHA. These too will have to follow SOP which will be issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
However, the MHA has asserted that these activities will only be allowed in areas outside Containment Zones. “The new guidelines, issued today, are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related Central Ministries and Departments,” said the MHA in a statement.
Meanwhile, the lockdown will continue to be implemented strictly in Containment Zones till October 31.
New unlock guidelines: States free to decide on schools reopening after October 15
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday left it to the states and union territories to decide on reopening of schools and coaching institutions after October 15 in a graded manner.
Earlier, schools were partially reopened from September 21 in compliance with Unlock 4 guidelines.
In fresh guidelines for further reopening of the country amid the pandemic, the MHA stated, “For re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, State and UT Governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after 15th October 2020, in a graded manner. The decision shall be taken in consultation with the respective school or institution management, based on their assessment of the situation.”
The ministry, however, clarified that online or distance learning will continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and should be encouraged. “Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so.”
The guidelines added, “Students may attend schools or institutions only with the written consent of parents. Attendance must not be enforced and must depend entirely on parental consent.”
States and UTs have been asked to prepare their own standard operating procedures (SOP) regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools and institutions based on the guidelines to be issued by the Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Education.
“Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of States and UTs. The Department of Higher Education (DHE), Ministry of Education may take a decision on the timing of the opening of colleges and higher education institutions, in consultation with the MHA,” it added.
Higher Education Institutions, only for research scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology streams that require laboratory or experimental work will be permitted to open from October 15.
“For centrally funded higher education institutions, the Head of Institution will satisfy herself or himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory or experimental works,a the fresh guidelines further added.
For all other Higher Education Institutions like State Universities, private universities etc., they may open only for research scholars and postgraduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory or experimental works as per decision to be taken by the respective State and UT Governments.
BJP appoints ex-Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis as in-charge for Bihar polls
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday formally appointed former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as its election ‘prabhari’ (in-charge) for the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls.
The death case of Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput, who hailed from Bihar, has snowballed into a major poll issue ahead of the Bihar elections, and Fadnavis has been championing the cause of the late actor, questioning the Mumbai Police’s handling of the matter.
The appointment, which comes into play with immediate effect, has been okayed by BJP’s national President J.P. Nadda, informed BJP leader Arun Singh.
Fadnavis has been participating in all the virtual meetings on Bihar polls from the very beginning, and also went to the state recently.
His appointment assumes significance given that fact that a driving narrative in this year’s Bihar polls has been about the ‘son of the soil’ allegedly being ‘wronged’ by the system in Maharashtra.
Fadnavis, a former Maharashtra Chief Minister, recently called Sushant Singh Rajput the son of Bihar and said that the people of India want justice for the late actor and the BJP would ensure that it is delivered.
The 243-member Bihar Assembly will go to the polls in three phases — on October 28, November 3 and 7 — and the results will be announced on November 10.
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