Category: News

PM expresses concern over ‘needless controversy’ on EVMs at NDA meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday expressed concern over the “needless controversy” created by the Opposition over EVMs at a meeting of NDA leaders, even as the ruling alliance laid out its agenda for the next five years if it is elected to power again.

At the BJP-led ruling alliance meeting, which was attended by 36 parties, a resolution was passed, terming the 2019 general election decisive for the country and pledging to make India “strong, developed, prosperous and inclusive” by 2022, when India completes 75 years of its independence, party leader and Union minister Rajnath Singh told reporters.

The BJP-led NDA meeting is being seen as its show of strength and projection of a united front by the ruling alliance ahead of counting of votes on May 23, following which a new government will assume charge.

In his address, Modi stressed on the need to change the narrative from caste lines and orient it for the poor, Singh said.

The Prime Minister expressed concern over the Opposition making “needless controversy” over electronic voting machines, the home minister said.

Earlier Tuesday, leaders of 22 opposition parties met the Election Commission and demanded verification of VVPAT slips of randomly-selected polling stations before the counting of the votes.

The opposition representation to the EC came barely two days before the counting of votes and after exit poll projections that the BJP-led NDA is likely to return to power.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami were among the BJP allies who attended the dinner-meeting hosted by BJP chief Amit Shah.

Union minister and BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan proposed the resolution.

Paswan, who joined Singh in the media briefing, too dismissed Opposition’s protest over EVMs as a case of collective frustration over their impending defeat and also warned them of “tit for tat”.

He did not elaborate what he meant by that.

The Lok Janshakti Party chief said Modi turned emotional when he mentioned the political violence, “targeting” BJP workers, in states of Kerala and West Bengal.

Shah had hosted another meeting for Union ministers earlier Tuesday. The BJP described the meeting as an occasion to thank ministers for their service to the nation.

The NDA resolution also expressed its concern over the “systematic assault by the Opposition on institutions ranging from the CAG, Election Commission and judiciary to police and armed forces”.

Modi described the NDA as an alliance of India’s hope and aspirations, saying it has become an “organic entity” like a family and is representative of the country’s regional aspirations.

The NDA leaders at the meeting, which was presided by Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, felicitated the prime minister and praised his council of ministers for their work.

The resolution expressed confidence that the NDA will come back to power under Modi and said its government planned a capital investment of Rs 100 lakh crore in infrastructure while Rs 25 lakh crore will be devoted to farm and rural sectors.

Hailing Modi’s leadership and expressing faith in him, the resolution adopted by NDA leaders said their alliance is a true representative of India’s diversity and dynamism.

“It is the alliance that manifests the dreams and aspirations of 130 crore Indians. Today, the NDA has become the principal pole in Indian politics.

“Under the leadership of PM Modi, the NDA government has future-proofed India, which means the creation of next-generation roads, railways, highways, i-ways and ports infrastructure that caters to the needs of the present and coming generations,” it said.

The NDA, the resolution added, stands as a bulwark against the “vote-bank politics and old-school political thinking of the Opposition” whose 20th-century politics has not cut ice with the young voters of the 21st century.

“The last five years were about fulfilling the basic needs of the people; now is the time to further increase the pace of progress and meet the aspirations of the people,” it said.

It also praised the outgoing government’s development and welfare initiatives.

Singh said its work on the security and diplomatic fronts have ensured that India is no longer seen as a “soft state” by the world.

“We resolved that once again under the leadership of PM Modi, by 2022, when India marks 75 years of freedom, it is our endeavour to fulfil the dreams of our great freedom fighters and give shape to the strong, prosperous, developed and inclusive India they dreamt of,” it said.

Besides representatives of 36 NDA constituents, Singh said leaders of three other parties also sent their letters of support at the alliance meeting.

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TikTok celebrity Mohit Mor shot dead near Delhi

A 24-year-old gym trainer and social media star was shot dead by three unidentified gunmen on Tuesday in outer Delhi’s Najafgarh.

The deceased was identified as Mohit Mor of Haryana’s Bahadurgarh who had over 5.17 lakh followers on social media app TikTok. The fitness enthusiast used to frequently upload fitness videos on his TikTok and Instagram profiles and was popular in virtual world.

Mor went out to visit his friend at around 5 pm on Tuesday and was gunned down at a photocopy shop located in his vicinity.

Three unidentified men came on a bike and pushed down five bullets into him when Mor was sitting on a sofa at the shop.  According to a senior police officer 13 bullets were fired at him, IANS reported.

The incident was captured in CCTV camera and while one attacker is clearly visible in the footage, the faces of the other two were covered with helmets.

“When Mohit Mor was busy talking with his friend inside the shop, three armed persons barged inside the shop and indiscriminately fired 13 bullets on him. Mohit Mor fell on a sofa kept inside the shop. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared brought dead,” a senior police said.

Police relate the murder to a gang war near Dwarka Mod metro station on Sunday in which two alleged criminals were gunned down.

“We are checking his Tik Tok and Instagram accounts comments and Call Details Record (CDR) to establish his enmity with anyone on social media that may help us to crack the case,” the senior police officer said.

“Prima facie, it appears a case of personal enmity and a money dispute,” the officer added.

A case under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code was registered and a probe is underway.

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Naidu makes issue out of non-issue

The people’s verdict in the recently concluded general elections has been sealed in the electronic voting machines and it will come out on May 23, when the votes are counted.

The Supreme Court has ruled that it is not possible to count slips of all the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail and ordered that the EC could count slips of five randomly selected VVPAT machines per each constituency and compare them with the EVMs.

If there is any difference in the EVM votes and VVPAT slips, then the slips would be taken into account. The issue could have been settled with the SC verdict.

Yet, Telugu Desam Party president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu is making a big issue out of a virtual non-issue.

He raked up a new issue before the Election Commission on Tuesday, stating that the verification of VVPAT slips of randomly identified five polling stations should be done prior to the initiation of counting of votes and not after the completion of last round of counting.

He submitted a memorandum to this effect to the EC along with 22 opposition party leaders.

He demanded that if any discrepancy was found anywhere during the VVPAT verification, 100 per cent counting of paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations of that assembly segment should be done.

“We are asking the Election Commission to respect the mandate of people. It cannot be manipulated,” he said, and claimed that even the former Chief Election Commissioners has endorsed their demand.

Now, with Naidu raking up fresh litigation, the EC is in a dilemma.

“We shall take a call on this shortly,” the EC told him.

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BJP sees opportunity to grow in Telangana

Though the exact outcome of the general elections held across the country will be known only on Thursday, the exit poll results announced by various agencies have brought a new lease of life for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Telangana.

As there are indications that the BJP will retain power at the Centre with a huge majority, party leaders are in Telangana are seeing a greater opportunity to develop the party independently as a potential alternative to the TRS in the next five years.

In fact, Telangana BJP president K Laxman said the growth of the BJP in Telangana would faster than the party in West Bengal, where it is emerging as a potential rival to the Trinamul Congress headed by Mamata Banerjee.

West Bengal was the citadel of the Communist party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) for several years, before it was conquered by the Trinamul Congress.

Now, the CPI (M) got completely faded away and has been reduced to a nominal position. As a result, the BJP is trying to emerge as a powerful alternative.

Similarly in Telangana, which was once dominated by the Congress, has now become a fortress of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi headed by K Chandrasekhar Rao.

After the latest assembly elections, the Congress party has shrunk further and is just struggling to survive.

Now, the BJP is trying to take its position and grow independently as an alternative to the TRS. If not now, the people will have to choose an alternative to the TRS and it would be the BJP, say the BJP leaders.

Laxman sid the BJP would rewrite the political history in Telangana State in the near future just as it had done in West Bengal.

Like Trinamul Congress in West Bengal, which has become autocratic and tyrannical, the Telangana, too, is witnessing a similar autocratic and dictatorial regime of the TRS, he said.

“Entire Telangana is waiting for good days to come in the State to free themselves from the TRS regime,” he said.

“The Congress is going to vanish in the State and those accused the majority people with fashionable political rhetoric like Hindu terror, Hindus or Bondus will face backlash,” he said.

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3 of a family die in sudden thunderstorm

Thunderstorm claimed three lives from the same family in Vikarabad district.

According to the police Fakhruddin along with his wife Kajabi, 38 and two children Tabasamu, 16 and Akram, 12 were at the farm when suddenly they were caught unaware by a thunderstorm followed by heavy rain. They immediately took shelter under a nearby tree.

But during the storm, the tree  fell on them killing Kajabi and the two children. Fakhruddin was injured. The villagers rushed them to hospital where the three were declared brought dead. Doctors have put  Fakhruddin under medical care.

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After meet, Oppn leaders flag EVM concerns with poll body

Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, Satish Chandra Misra of the BSP, Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M), D Raja of the CPI, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, Derek O’Brien of the TMC, Ramgopal Yadav of the SP, Kanimozhi of the DMK, Manoj Jha (RJD), Majeed Memon (NCP), Devinder Rana (NC) are taking part in the meeting among others

Top opposition leaders met here on Tuesday, ahead of the Lok Sabha poll results on May 23, to discuss the possibility of a non-NDA alliance staking claim to government formation.

They also met the Election Commission (EC) to press for their demand of tallying the paper trail of votes (VVPATs) with the electronic voting machine (EVM) figures.

Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress, TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, Satish Chandra Misra of the BSP, Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M), D Raja of the CPI, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal, Derek O’Brien of the TMC, Ramgopal Yadav of the SP, Kanimozhi of the DMK, Manoj Jha (RJD), Majeed Memon (NCP), Devinder Rana (NC) are taking part in the meeting among others.

“On VVPATs and the EVM tally, the EC is yet to come out with a procedure in case there is a mismatch. Even if there is one mismatch in the VVPAT samples picked for counting and EVMs, to maintain the integrity of the electoral process, all VVPATs in that Assembly segment must be counted,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Yechury said.

Opposition parties turned out in high numbers at the election Commission office on Tuesday with various demands they termed as ‘confidence-building measures’.

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “The Supreme Court has allowed for 5 VVPATs to be tallied. VVPATs be tallied first-up and there should be re-polling if any discrepancy is found. The EC said that they’d decide, they have an open-mind.”

“If he EC disagrees with us, if 75% of vote is before you, how does it matter if VVPATs are counted first? EC hasn’t decided,” he added.

The Election Commission will meet on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Lok Sabha Election Live Updates: Uddhav Thackeray to meet Amit Shah in Delhi

Two days ahead of the counting of votes for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 21 opposition parties, including Congress, will meet the Election Commission on Tuesday to flag concerns regarding Electronic Voting Machines and the VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Trail). The Opposition’s move came after exit polls predicted an easy victory for the BJP and its allies. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah will meet Union council of ministers at the party headquarter on Tuesday to discuss the future course of action. Later, Amit Shah will meet NDA leaders.

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Pawar called Jagan? YSRC scotches rumours

Here is yet another piece of rumour in political reporting.

A local English daily from Vijayawada reported that YSR Congress party president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy had received a call from Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, on behalf of the Congress party, seeking the former’s support to the anti-BJP coalition.

However, Jagan did not pick up the call from Pawar despite repeated attempts.

Apparently, the YSRC chief is not ready to open any channel of communication yet and wants to maintain status quo till the results are out on May 23, the report said.

The same report was picked by some national channels on Tuesday and tried to make it a big breaking news. But none of these channels could get any official quote either from Pawar or from Jagan’s party leaders.

In fact, YSRC official spokesman Ambati Rambabu made it clear on Tuesday that the report was purely hypothetical and speculative and hence, there was nothing to talk about it.

“We shall give clarity on what our role in Delhi would be only after the election results on May 23,” he said.

Though it is true that Jagan wants to keep his options open on the role to be played by his party at the national level till the results are declared, he is not so discourteous to reject calls made by a senior leader like Sharad Pawar.

“He would have definitely answered the call made by Pawar and told him that he would not like to give any commitment till May 23 evening. After all, who knows what would happen after May 23,” a YSRC source said.

Secondly, nobody would expect Sharad Pawar to talk to Jagan while participating in the negotiations with Telugu Desam Party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu.

If the Congress leadership is really keen on taking the support of Jagan, there are other leaders like his family friend K V P Ramachandra Rao and others.

So, all gas in this gossip!

Chandrababu working hard to stay relevant in Delhi

Taking centre stage in national politics, TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu has been holding series of meeting with leaders of various parties to forge a non-BJP coalition at the Centre and all his efforts appear to be aimed at making himself relevant in Delhi.

He held talks with leaders that included United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia, Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Delhi on Saturday and Sunday.

He also flew to Lucknow to meet Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and her alliance partner Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav. Back in Delhi on Sunday, he briefed Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi on the meetings with BSP-SP leaders.

Naidu also called on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) head Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader S. Sudhakar Reddy, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechuri and many others.

Even Sunday’s exit polls, which predicted a second term for BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre, could not deter Naidu from embarking on another round of meetings.

Rubbishing the predictions and exuding confidence of his Telugu Desam Party (TDP) retaining power in Andhra Pradesh and non-BJP parties coming to power at the Centre, he left for Kolkata to meet West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee to discuss the post-poll strategy.

From Kolkata, he arrived in Delhi, where he is expected to hold talks with more leaders over the next two days. “I will continue my efforts till May 23,” declared Naidu.

Since the time he pulled out of the BJP-led NDA last year over the issue of special category status to Andhra Pradesh, Naidu has held talks with various non-BJP parties in order to bring them together in an coalition headed by the Congress.

His efforts hit a pause when parties like the BSP, SP, TMC and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) decided not to have pre-poll alliance with Congress. However, Naidu was back in action as soon as the Lok Sabha polls ended.

Though facing a tough challenge at home from his main rival the YSR Congress Party, the 69-year-old remains confident about his poll prospects. And instead of just confining himself to state politics, he is trying to play a key role at the Centre.

TDP leader Khambampati Rammohan Rao believes it is Naidu’s urge to serve the nation that gives him the confidence to pursue his efforts.

“He is doing all this in national interest. The need of the hour is to bring a change at the Centre,” Rao told IANS.

Rao pointed out that Naidu earlier proved his skills as a national leader in 1996-1998, when he cobbled up the United Front (UF), a coalition of 13 parties which then ruled at the Centre. As the convenor of the UF, Naidu played a key role in making H.D. Deve Gowda and later I.K. Gujral the prime ministers.

The TDP leader also recalled how Naidu played a vital role in the candidature of A.P. Abdul Kalam as the President of India in 2002.

Expressing confidence in Naidu’s skills, he said: “We feel he will bring many parties on the anti-NDA platform.”

Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy, however, felt that Naidu was putting in all the hard work only to stay relevant in the national politics.

“Whether Naidu wins or loses elections in his state, his next destination is Delhi. He has to be relevant in national politics irrespective of the result in Andhra Pradesh,” Reddy told IANS.

According to the analyst, if Naidu loses the polls in Andhra Pradesh, he may not sit as leader of the opposition in the Assembly, where Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is sitting as the chief minister.

“In such a scenario, Naidu may make his son Lokesh or some other TDP leader the leader of opposition and do his politics from Delhi,” said Reddy.

He said that even if Naidu retained power in Andhra Pradesh, he needed support from whoever came to power at the Centre.

“The state will need all the support from Delhi to implement his poll promises and execute ongoing projects like Polavaram and construction of state capital,” the analyst said.

He believes if the NDA falls short of numbers, Naidu may even extend support to it. “If Modi forms the government again at the Centre and Naidu retains power in Andhra, the latter may join hands with the NDA even if it needs no support because he needs handholding by Delhi to run the state,” Reddy said.

 

Chandrababu Naidu meets Rahul to discuss post-election scenario

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu is meeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the latter’s residence in Delhi on Saturday to discuss possible alliance in post-election scenario.

Naidu would fly to Lucknow later on Saturday to meet Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.

On Friday, he met CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal.

He said that he would welcome any party, including Telangana Rashtra Samithi, to be part of an alliance against the BJP after election results are announced.