EC SOUNDS BIG POLL BUGLE, BENGAL ELECTIONS IN 8 PHASES - The Daily Guardian
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EC SOUNDS BIG POLL BUGLE, BENGAL ELECTIONS IN 8 PHASES

824 Assembly constituencies to go for elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry from 27 March to 2 May; angry Mamata Banerjee asks if it’s on the PM’s suggestion.

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Voting for the Assembly elections in West Bengal will take place in eight phases, starting on 27 March, announced the Election Commission on Friday. Counting of votes will be done on 2 May.

“In the first phase, polling will take place on 30 seats. The second phase has been scheduled on April 1 and will cover 30 constituencies, followed by the third phase on April 6 for 31 seats and the fourth phase on April 10 for 44 constituencies,” said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora.

“Voting for the fifth phase will take place on April 17 for 45 seats, sixth phase for 43 seats on April 22, seventh phase on April 26 for 36 seats and the last and eighth phase on April 29 for 35 seats,” the CEC said.

However, after the dates for the West Bengal Assembly polls were announced on Friday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioned the Election Commission’s decision to divide the polls into eight phases and alleged that it was being done to suit the convenience of the BJP.

Addressing mediapersons, Banerjee said, “I request the ECI to consider West Bengal as their own state, not through the eyes of BJP. I respect the ECI’s decision, but why have they broken-up the districts? South 24 Parganas is our stronghold. Voting will be held in three different phases there. Has it been done for the convenience of PM Modi and Amit Shah?”

Banerjee alleged that the BJP was misusing its authority as the ruling party at the Centre to influence state polls. “The Centre cannot misuse its powers for a state election. If they do it, then they will have to face the music. We are common people. We will fight our battle. BJP has sent money to all districts through agencies. I request the ECI to stop the misuse of money.”

“The Union Home Minister should be concerned about the country. He cannot misuse his powers for elections here. We welcome the Prime Minister but he cannot misuse his powers for West Bengal polls,” added Banerjee.

The ECI has appointed two special police observers, Vivek Dubey and M.K. Das, for West Bengal. With the announcement of the election schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into force in the state.

The ECI on Friday also announced that, besides West Bengal, the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry (Union Territory) shall be going for polls. “A total of 824 assembly constituencies shall be going for polls during these elections. 18.68 crore electors will cast votes at 2.7 lakh polling stations in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry,” added Arora.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly elections are to be held in a single phase on 6 April. Kerala also goes to polls on 6 April. The Assam Assembly elections will be held in three phases: The first on 27 March, the second on 1 April and the third on 6 April. Meanwhile, Puducherry elections will also be held on 6 April. Counting of all votes will be held on 2 May.

Addressing mediapersons, CEC Arora shared, “In the thick of the pandemic, ECI started test trials with elections of 18 seats to Rajya Sabha. After that came the challenge of the Bihar elections, it was indeed a watershed moment for ECI. It proved to be a litmus test. Voting turnout was 57.34 percent, exceeding the 2015 Assembly polls and 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the state.”

The terms of the legislative assemblies of five states—West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry—will come to an end either in May or in June this year. Elections for the Legislative Assembly of West Bengal that comprises 294 seats will be held soon as the current tenure ends on 30 May.

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Assailants in Udaipur murder circulated video to promote ‘enmity on religious ground’

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Udaipur

Assailants involved in the ‘brutal’ murder of Kanhaiyya Lal Teli, a tailor in Rajasthan’s Udaipur, circulated a video of the assault with the assertion to promote “enmity on religious ground” and to create “panic and terror” amongst the masses across the country.

The information is mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR) registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on June 29, a day after the killing of the deceased following order from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The FIR is based on the complaint of Kanhaiyya’s son Yash Teli, a resident of Rajasthan’s Housing Board Colony, regarding the brutal killing of his father by two assailants armed with sharp weapons at his shop ‘Suprim Tailor’, Bhoot Mahal Maaldas street, Udaipur.Two workers of the shop were also injured by the assailants in the incident, mentions the FIR.

“The assailants also circulated the video of the murder of Kanhaiyya Lal Teli on social media with assertion promoting enmity on religious ground and to create panic and terror amongst the masses across the country,” reads the FIR.

The brutal killing took place on June 28 (Tuesday) between 3 pm and 3.30 pm, and the information was received at NIA through an order issued by the MHA’s Counter-Terrorism and Counter Radicalization Division (CTCR) on June 29.

Earlier the case was registered at Dhanmandi police station in Udaipur district under various sections of the Indian Pena Code (IPC) and sections 16, 18 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act relating to the murder of Kanhaiyya by two assailants armed with sharp weapons at his shop “Suprim Tailor”.

“Whereas, the Central government is of the opinion that the Scheduled offence under the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 has been committed and having regard to the gravity of the offence and its ramifications on national security, it is required to be investigated by the National,” reads the NIA FIR.Followed by MHA’s order, the NIA, in accordance with the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, took up the investigation of the case and the Central agency’s Superintendent of Police Ravi Choudhary, an IPS officer, was directed to take up the investigation of the case as the Chief Investigation Officer.

NIA re-registered the case under sections 452, 302, 153(A), 153(B), 295(A) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 16, 18 and 20 of UA(P) Act, 1967 against the accused who have conspired, planned and committed the heinous murder of Kanhaiya Lal Telli.

Pursuant to the registration of the case, NIA teams were also rushed to Udaipur and requisite action for expeditious investigation of the case was initiated.The two accused Riyaz Akhtari and Ghouse Mohammad were taken into custody during the investigation of the case.

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CAA IN BENGAL BEFORE 2024 POLLS: BJP STATE CHIEF

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Bengal chief Sukanta Majumdar on Wednesday said that the Centre would implement Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) in the state before general elections in 2024. ANI quoted the MP from Balurghat as saying, “BJP has a track record of keeping its promises. We had promised to build the Ram Mandir, we have done it. CAA is our goal, and we will achieve it. It is our promise that we will implement CAA. I have complete faith that CAA will be implemented before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.”

The controversial legislation seeks to grant Indian citizenship to members of persecuted minorities, including Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who had entered India on or before 31 December 2014. The Centre has maintained that citizenship to the eligible beneficiaries of CAA will be given only after rules under the legislation are notified.

According to the BJP, CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) would stop illegal infiltration into the country from across the borders. However, the central law leaves out Muslims and is thus considered discriminatory.

In fact, there is apprehension that such laws if implemented would deprive millions of Indians of their citizenship. So, when the Central government amended the citizenship law in December 2019 and made its intention clear to go ahead with the implementation of CAA, as a prelude to NRC implementation, there were huge protests across the country that went on for months till the Covid Pandemic hit the country in March.

Almost all opposition parties have been critical of the laws. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has several times said that she would not allow the implementation of the CAA and the NRC in the state.

Majumdar also hit out at the Trinamool Congress (TMC) for attempting to dissociate itself from the comments MP Mahua Moitra had made on Tuesday during the course of a conclave when she was asked about the depiction of Goddess Kali in a documentary. Saying that everyone has his own imagination of worshipping a deity, Moitra had commented that Kali was a meat and alcohol accepting Goddess, sparking an outrage against her, with her party distancing itself from her comment.

“TMC can’t detach itself from the comments of Mahua Moitra. If TMC actually doesn’t endorse it, they should take action. They should either expel her or suspend her from the party for a few days,” said the West Bengal BJP chief. Majumdar also demanded Moitra’s arrest. “Our Mahila Morcha will stage a sit-in protest, go to police station and request that she be arrested,” said Majumdar.

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AFTER SPICEJET, NOW VISTARA, INDIGO REPORT MALFUNCTION

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A Delhi-bound Vistara flight from Bangkok landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Tuesday on a single-engine following an ‘electrical malfunction.’ In another incident, an IndiGo flight was reported smoke coming out from the cabin, informed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officials.

According to sources, the A320 Aircraft VT-TNJ was operating as flight UK-122 (BKK-DEL) on Tuesday. The flight was uneventful and landed on runway 10 at Delhi airport. Post runway vacation Engine 2 was shut down for single-engine taxiing. The Air traffic control (ATC) was informed and a tow truck was requested. Subsequently, the aircraft was towed to the parking bay. The matter was reported to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The plane was towed from the taxi bay to the parking bay.

“After landing in Delhi, while taxiing to the parking bay, our flight UK122 (BKK-DEL) had a minor electrical malfunction on July 5, 2022. Keeping passenger safety and comfort in mind the crew elected to tow the aircraft to the bay,” said Vistara spokesperson.

Following this, the DGCA ordered a probe into the incident.

An incident of smoke coming out from the cabin in an IndiGo flight was reported by the cabin crew. The incident came to light when the smoke came out from its cabin during Taxi In after landing on July 5. “A Raipur-Indore IndiGo flight (A320Neo aircraft) was reported by the cabin crew to have smoke coming out from its cabin during Taxi In after landing on July 05,” DGCA said.

Today’s incidents came in the wake of two mishaps in SpiceJet flights on Tuesday.

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia showed his concerns over recent incidents related to SpiceJet and said, “Passenger safety is paramount. Even the smallest error hindering safety will be thoroughly investigated and course-corrected.”

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Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra booked for her comment on Kali

Even though her party distances itself from her remarks, Moitra stands her ground.

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Madhya Pradesh Police on Wednesday registered an FIR against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra for her controversial comment on Goddess Kali. Moitra has been booked under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for hurting religious sentiments.

Sources said that the FIR was filed against Moitra after the chief minister objected to her comment. “Hindu religious sentiments have been hurt by Mahua Moitra’s statement and insult to Hindu deities will not be tolerated,” Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan after the FIR was registered against Moitra.

The Lok Sabha MP had on Tuesday made a controversial remark on Kali during the course of the India Today Conclave East 2022 held in Kolkata, which had seen participation from Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and actor Rajkummar Rao.

Moitra made the remark when she was asked about the raging controversy over a poster of Kaali, a documentary film by Canada-based director Leena Manimekalai, in which Goddess Kali is shown smoking a cigarette and holding an LGBTQ+ flag. The poster created a storm on social media.

Commenting on the poster, the Krishnanagar MP had said that people have right to imagine their deities the way they want and worship them. Moitra went on to say, “For me, Goddess Kali is a meat-eating and alcohol-accepting Goddess. And if you go to Tarapith, you will see sadhus smoking. That is the version of Kali people worship. I, within Hinduism, being a Kali worshipper, have the right to imagine Kali in that way; that is my freedom.”

Lapping up her comment “Goddess Kali is a meat-eating and alcohol-accepting Goddess”, the BJP has gone hammer and tongs after the TMC leader, with West Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar on Wednesday demanding her arrest.

As soon as it snowballed into a controversy, her party TMC distanced itself from her remark, even went on to condemn it. “The comments made by @MahuaMoitra at the #IndiaTodayConclaveEast2022 and her views expressed on Goddess Kali have been made in her personal capacity and are NOT ENDORSED BY THE PARTY in ANY MANNER OR FORM. All India Trinamool Congress strongly condemns such comments,” said the party on its official Twitter handle. This has given rise to speculation of rift between the MP and her party, as Moitra after the party tweet unfollowed the TMC Twitter handle.

Meanwhile, members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha on Wednesday afternoon lodged a complaint with the police demanding Moitra’s arrest. Opposition leader Shuvendu Adhikari also claimed that complaints had been lodged against Moitra in 20 police stations across the state.

Reacting to the clamour for her arrest, Moitra in a series of tweets said, “Bring it on BJP! Am a Kali worshipper.

I am not afraid of anything. Not your ignoramuses. Not your goons. Not your police. And most certainly not your trolls. Truth doesn’t need back up forces.”

Standing her ground, she clarified her position that she never backed any film or poster. “To all you sanghis- lying will NOT make you better hindus. I NEVER backed any film or poster or mentioned the word smoking. Suggest you visit my Maa Kali in Tarapith to see what food & drink is offered as bhog.

Joy Ma Tara,” she said in another tweet on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, referring to the controversy, Congress MP Abhishek Singhvi on Wednesday said, “We won’t like to comment on other parties, but I believe that balance must be maintained in symbols and essence of our faith. Heart and spirit of our culture cannot be trivialised by anybody anywhere be it elsewhere, abroad or here.” However, his party colleague Shashi Tharoor defended Moitra and called it a “malicious manufactured controversy”. Said Tharoor in a tweet, “I am no stranger to malicious manufactured controversy, but am still taken aback by the attack on Mahua Moitra for saying what every Hindu knows, that our forms of worship vary widely across the country. What devotees offer as bhog (offering) says more about them than about the Goddess.”

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Trouble mounts for Boris Johnson as two more leave ministry

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In another blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, two more ministers resigned from the UK government on Wednesday, following the departure of Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, media reported.Will Quince, minister for children and families and junior transport minister Laura Trott resigned on Wednesday. In his resignation letter, Quince said he had “no choice but to tender resignation”, after being given an “inaccurate” briefing over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s appointment of a politician who was the subject of complaints.

“Thank you for meeting with me yesterday evening and for your sincere apology regarding the briefings I received from No. 10 ahead of Monday’s media round, which we now know to be inaccurate,” he said in his resignation letter to Johnson which was posted on Twitter.“It is with great sadness and regret that I feel that I have no choice but to tender my resignation as Minister for Children and Families as I accepted and repeated those assurances in good faith.”Meanwhile, junior transport minister Laura Trott said she was quitting over a loss of “trust” in the government.Earlier, on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson named the new UK Health Secretary and Finance Minister shortly after Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak tendered their resignation, media reports said.UK Cabinet chief of staff Steve Barclay has been appointed as the new health secretary. Meanwhile, UK education secretary Nadhim Zahawi was named as the new finance minister.In his resignation letter, Sunak said he was “sad to be leaving the government”, but has come to the conclusion that he “cannot continue like this”.“The public rightly expect the government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning,” Rishi Sunak said.Javid said he had lost confidence in Boris Johnson’s ability to govern following multiple scandals, saying he could “no longer continue in good conscience”. The minister said that many lawmakers and the public had lost confidence in Johnson’s ability to govern in the national interest.

In his resignation letter, which he posted to Twitter, Javid told Johnson that “the values you represent reflect on your colleagues,” and in light of recent scandals, the public had concluded that their party was neither “competent” nor “acting in the national interest.”

The exit of the top minister comes amid the row involving the former Conservative party whip Chris Pincher, who was accused of sexual misconduct.

Last week, Pincher quit as deputy chief whip after claims that he groped two men but Johnson knew about allegations against him as far back as 2019. Boris acknowledged he should have sacked Pincher when he was found to have behaved inappropriately when he was a Foreign Office minister in 2019.

The British PM said he regrets giving Pincher a government role as Deputy Chief Whip following the revelation of a misconduct complaint against him.“In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do and I apologise to everyone who has been badly affected by it. I just want to make absolutely clear that there’s no place in this government for anybody who is predatory or abuses their position of power,” he said. (ANI)

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MUKHTAR ABBAS NAQVI LIKELY BJP CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT

Naqvi resigned on Wednesday from the post of Minority Affairs Minister. Smriti Irani was given additional charge of his ministry.

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Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is likely to be fielded as the BJP candidate for Vice President’s office, election to which is slated to be held on 6 August, Naqvi resigned from the Union Council of Ministers on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Smriti Irani was appointed as minority affairs minister after Naqvi resigned .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Cabinet meeting held in the day was all praise for the work the outgoing minority affairs minister had done all these years. Effusive in his praise, the Prime Minister told his cabinet colleagues that they all would miss him, creating a buzz that Naqvi may be fielded as candidate of BJP-led alliance NDA for the office of Vice President of India. The Cabinet meeting rather turned into a farewell party for Naqvi, said sources. He was congratulated in advance by his Cabinet colleagues for a bigger responsibility that he would be given charge of in coming days. Nominations for the election will commence from 19 July.

Naqvi, who is a Rajya Sabha member, was not nominated to Upper House for a second term elections to which were held on 10 June. He was not given a ticket in the recently held parliamentary elections, either, thus leaving the saffron party bereft of any Muslim law maker in either house of Parliament. Naqvi’s term as a Rajya Sabha MP comes to an end on Thursday.

The question is why Naqvi for the post? The answer lies in the international outrage that Nupur Sharma’s unsavoury remarks against Prophet Muhammad created, battering India’s image, especially among Muslim countries, with calls for boycott of Indian goods and Indian ambassadors being summoned by their host countries. India needs a Muslim face to correct the perception that the controversy has created.

Naqvi, as a Union minister, has visited many Muslim countries and has established personal rapport with them. According to sources, if the BJP promotes Naqvi to the office of Vice President of India, it will help PM Modi and his government to refurbish country’s image.

Sources in the BJP told The Daily Guardian Review that there were two prominent Muslim leaders whose name had been proposed to PM Modi for the post. One among them was Naqvi and the other was that of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan. However, the balance tilted in Naqvi’s favour. Since Vice President is also the Chair of the Upper House, Naqvi was found a good choice as far as helping the BJP government implement its agenda through Rajya Sabha is concerned.

With Naqvi at the helm both as Vice President and as Chair of the Rajya Sabha serves the purpose well.

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