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EC to increase number of polling booths, poll spending in Bihar

Ashish Sinha

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Election Commission sources have told The Daily Guardian that in the Bihar Assembly elections, one-and-a-half times more number of polling stations will be created, along with masks, sanitizers, and soaps; the limit of election expenses would also be increased. The recommendation of the Election Commission has reached the Union Ministry of Law and Justice. Rule 90 of Election Management Rules 1961 will have to be amended to implement this recommendation.

Now it is time for the government to approve this amendment, then for every candidate for the Vidhan Sabha elections, the expenses of election campaigning and management will be from Rs 28 lakh to Rs 30 lakh 80 thousand. That means an increase of 10%.

According to Election Commission sources, in the past, along with many other political parties of Bihar, BJP also talked about increasing the expenditure by applying in the commission.

Now the workers need a sanitizer, mask, liquid soap, PPE kit, thermal screening device, etc. There can be no cut in this. Apart from this, the first litmus test of the guideline released last month is also to be held from Bihar elections. Now according to the guide line, if the candidate will fill nomination papers, only two people can go with him instead of five.

The road show will have only five vehicles with the candidate. There will be only three workers in the houseto-house campaign. They are also fully equipped with Corona safety kit. There will be smaller gatherings instead of larger election rallies. With social distancing.

social distancing. According to the Commission’s manual and SoP guide line, the total spending limit is also fixed. For example, out of the total spending limit, 34% can be spent on vehicles for election management and campaigning, 23% on publicity tools, 13% on publicity rallies, 7% on publicity in electronic and print media. Apart from this, 4% can be spent on banner posters, hoardings and leaflets and 3% for coming to the field.

On 11 September, sources told The Daily Guardian that the Bihar Legislative Assembly election date can be announced anytime after 10 September. Along with the Bihar Assembly, there will also be a by-election for one seat of Lok Sabha in Bihar and 64 seats of recently vacated Assembly of several states.

According to highly-placed sources of the Election Commission, the prospects are more likely around 13 September. The term of Bihar Assembly is till 29 November. According to sources in the Commission, the voting for the election is possible in three phases. The election process should be completed after Dussehra and in the period of 20 days before Diwali. It is also possible that the areas most prone to flooding should be voted in the last phase

According to the sources of the Commission, before Dhanteras, there will be an effort to complete the election process for all phases of voting and counting.

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CENTRE GAVE RS 8K.29 CR TO STATES DURING COVID PANDEMIC, RTI REVEALS

Urvashi Khona

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Corona

Amid the pandemic, the Centre gave Rs 8147.29 crores to States and Union territories for management and containment of the virus. This comes as a reply from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Information sought by Civil Rights Activist Prafful Sarda under the RTI act of 2005.

On asking details about the allocation of funds for Covid-19 from Centre to State from Jan 2019 till 3rd May 2021 the response received from Manish Kumar, CPIO and Under Secretary of National Health Mission finance division states, “The information regarding funds released to States/UTs through National Health Mission (NHM) is available with the division which is Rs 1113.21 Crore during the FY 2019-20and Rs 8147.29 Crore FY 2020-21 (till 31st March 2021) for Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness.”

The detailed sheet titled as Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (NHM) Finance division States Central release of Grants in aid for management and containment Covid-19 as on (31-3-21) under NHM gives the details of funds released to all states and UT. Maharashtra received a maximum fund of 1185.12 crores followed by Tamil Nadu and Delhi with 868.09 Crores and 787.91 Crores respectively. While Kerala has received 573.96 Crores and Uttar Pradesh 541.56Crores. It’s UT Daman and Diu that has received the least fund of some 0.45 Crores followed by Lakshadweep with 0.79 Crores.

Relating the funds with the number of cases as of 31st March, 2021 Activist Sarda points that in figures Maharashtra receives Maha Budget but is not sufficient in the backdrop of the number of cases reported. By 31st March 2020 in Maharashtra state, there were 2812980 cases and 54649 deaths were reported. Comparatively other states like Delhi, Rajasthan, and Gujrat got max funds concerning the number of cases reported. “The figures clearly show that a state like Maharashtra was in dire need of Max Funds looking at worst hit by Corona. Despite being a Major Tax Contributor, Maha didn’t receive the help that was needed. Govt should evaluate, study the number of Corona cases in each state and implement them accordingly based on facts and requirements of the state.” Sarda ends.

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India’s largest diamond reserve in MP raises serious eco concerns

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Reportedly, the government is preparing to cut the forest of Buxwaha present in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. In fact, the Madhya Pradesh government has found diamond reserves in the forests of Buxwaha, which the government wants to take possession of.

The proposed diamond mine project in the Buxwaha forests of Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh has been facing resistance from environmentalists and nature lovers. The country’s largest diamond reserve is in Buxwaha and it is estimated that there are 3.42 crore carats of rough diamonds in the area. The project will spread in 364 hectares in the forests and extraction of diamonds could result in the felling of 2,15,875 trees. Locals and environmental activists are protesting against the project over ecological concerns demanding the withdrawal of the project.

Earlier too, there were protests when a company started working in the area. They could not complete the project and had to go back. Now, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on the project in Buxwaha forests, which is situated about 225 km northeast of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh’s capital.

Environment activist Kavita Ashok, who is opposing the cutting of these trees, said that many tribal families live close by and their livelihood depends upon the forest. “The tribals sell various forest products and earn money to sustain their lives. They fear that the project will deprive them of their livelihood and their lives will be destroyed after the falling of trees in the forest,” she said.

If we talk about the story behind this, the proposed Bunder diamond block in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh has been in the news for the wrong reasons over the years. The diamond mine project, which is now with Aditya Birla Group’s Essel Mining & Industries Limited, is once again facing dark clouds due to protests over ecological concerns, as it could result in the felling of 2,15,875 trees. The proposed project will be spread across an area of 382.131 hectares in the Buxwaha forests that is about 225 km northeast of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh’s capital. The block is estimated to have 34 million carats of rough diamonds. The National Mineral Development Corporation’s existing diamond mine is about 175 kilometres from Bunder. According to the mining firm, it plans to develop a fully mechanised opencast mine and state-of-the-art processing plant for recovery of diamonds with an investment of about Rs 2,500 crore. It noted that the project, once operational, has the potential to become one of the largest diamond mines in the Asian region. The company targets the execution of the mining lease by the end of the financial year 2022. However, the project is facing stiff opposition, including social media campaigns. Already, a Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court of India, seeking a stay on the project that had been secured by the Essel Mining & Industries Limited in 2019. “The Forest clearance report shows that the project would cost 2,15,875 trees in the forest region and also use a lot of water,” said Sankalp Jain, a local youth who is associated with one of the groups running social media campaigns such as ‘save Buxwaha forest’ and ‘India stands with Buxwaha forest’ last month.

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POST-DELIMITATION, SEATS IN JAMMU & KASHMIR ASSEMBLY WILL INCREASE BY 7: SOURCES

Ashish Sinha

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On Tuesday, sources told The Daily Guardian that after the delimitation process, seven seats in the J&K Legislative Assembly will increase. The Delimitation Commission headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai is working on the delimitation of assembly constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir.

All the District Deputy Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir have already provided all the information related to their jurisdiction to the Delimitation Commission, the sources said. The Commission has received detailed information about the geographical conditions of the districts and the constituencies falling in them, the density of population, the status of basic facilities, the number of voters, and myriad other facts. District Deputy Commissioners have also given their suggestions regarding rationalization of constituencies.

Last year, on the eve of Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said elections would be held in J&K after the delimitation process in the Union Territory was over. Delimitation, he said, is crucial for kicking off the political process in J&K.

Before the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, there were 111 seats in the Legislative Assembly— 24 seats in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir with 83 in Jammu and Kashmir division, and 4 in Ladakh division. Now after the delimitation, the four seats of Ladakh will be removed, creating seven new areas, which means, 114 seats will be in the Legislative Assembly, and out of which elections can be held on 90 at present, as 24 seats are reserved for PoK.

The Daily Guardian spoke to a historian who told that earlier in 1995 there was delimitation of areas for the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly in which 75 seats were increased to 87. But then the delimitation was done in an arbitrary and partisan manner, bypassing the population-voter and geographical balance and proportion. That is, despite the high population of Jammu, the seats were kept less, whereas in the valley more seats for less population. So that the control of the government remains with the people of the valley.

The Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai was formed in March last year to carve out more Assembly and parliamentary constituencies in J&K. The commission’s term was extended by one year in March this year.

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WILL RUPANI FOLLOW THE PATH OF KESHUBHAI AND ANANDIBEN?

Abhijit Bhatt

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Gujarat has been ruled by BJP for more than 25 years. However, the journey to power has not been easy for the BJP, which, despite calling itself a disciplined party, has faced numerous internal controversies and upheavals.

The chair, which was snatched from the then Chief Minister Keshubhai 15 months before the elections because of his poor performance post the 2001 earthquake, remained away from him for life. The same thing happened later in the case of Anandiben, who resigned 15 months before the election in the wake of the Patidar agitation controversy. With 17 months to go before the Assembly elections, the tug-of-war for the incumbent Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s chair has begun again.

The first BJP government in Gujarat was formed in 1995 and Keshubhai Patel became the Chief Minister on March 14, 1995, but within seven months, Shankarsinh Vaghela revolted and Patel had to resign. Although the BJP government was formed again in the mid-term elections held after the dissolution of the Assembly in 1998 and Keshubhai was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the second time on March 4, there was a lot of controversy over the rehabilitation work after the 2001 earthquake. Following the BJP’s defeat in the Sabarkantha Lok Sabha and Sabarmati Assembly by-elections, the High Command had made Narendra Modi the Chief Minister in October 2001, a year and a half before the elections, following the resignation of Keshubhai Patel.

When Narendra Modi first became the Prime Minister of India in 2014, the throne of Gujarat was handed over to Anandiben Patel. During Anandiben’s reign, the Patidar movement outbroke. This agitation of Hardik Patel laid the foundation of the political rise and the BJP was duly wiped out in the district-taluka panchayat elections held in Gujarat.

For this reason, Anandiben Patel was removed from the post of Chief Minister in August 2016, 15 months before the Assembly elections of December 2017. At that time, Vijay Rupani was introduced as the new Chief Minister of the state. The 2017 assembly elections were also contested under the leadership of Vijay Rupani.

After Anandiben’s resignation, Vijay Rupani was instated as the Chief Minister. The BJP did not leave any stone unturned in presenting the image of the Rupani government as ‘sensitive’. Gujarat BJP needed to do such a makeover after the Anandiben’s abortive era

Nevertheless, Rupani has not been allowed to rule for the last year. Now the game of victimizing him—as to his alleged poor performance amid the pandemic—has started within the BJP circles. Interestingly, with 17 months left for the Gujarat Assembly elections, Rupani has also started talking about creating ‘Chhatrabhang Yoga’.

“During the Covid pandemic we understood the importance of yoga… it increases our immunity. It has been proved that yoga can chase away corona (virus). Pranayam is the solution to oxygen related issues,” Rupani said while virtually addressing yoga trainers through video conference at an event organised by the Gujarat State Yog Board on Tuesday.

Now a discussion and analysis is going on between the senior leaders and high command of Gujarat BJP that assembly elections are to be held in Gujarat in December 2022, i.e. there are still 17 months left. Seeing the displeasure of the party leaders over the government’s action during the pandemic in Gujarat, the issue of whether the BJP’s Keshubhai, Anandiben tragedies would resurface is being discussed.

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Amid land scam charges, Ram temple work goes on unhindered

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The Ram Mandir Trust is under question these days over the case of an alleged land scam. Nevertheless, in the meantime, the ongoing construction work of the temple is not affected and the work of filling the foundation is being done in two consecutive shifts of 24 hours each.

At the same time, there are elaborate security arrangements in the Ram temple complex. The premises are being monitored 24 hours a day. For this, watchtowers and CCTV cameras have been installed, so that the construction and surrounding activities are monitored at all times.

About 50 layers of a 10-inch thick mixture of building material will be laid in about a 50-feet deep foundation measuring 400 feet long and 300 feet wide. Six layers of building material mixture have been stacked over the foundation land that spreads across 2.77 acres.

The work of about 9 layers has been completed, and the filling of the 10th layer has also been done, which will now be compacted.

The Ram Janmabhoomi complex in Ayodhya sprawls across 70 acres of land, but at present, the construction is going on in 5 acres of land. The work of filling the foundation with engineering field material is being done by digging 400 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 40 feet deep.

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TRINAMOOL SLAMS CENTRE OVER PROCEEDINGS AGAINST EX-BENGAL CHIEF SECRETARY

BJP is resorting to dirty politics as it is unable to accept defeat in the West Bengal Assembly elections, say senior TMC MPs.

Arup Kali

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Just after the BJP led Central government initiated major penalty proceedings against former West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) alleged that the move was an outcome of the BJP’s inability to accept its defeat in the Assembly election.

“The BJP was resorting to dirty politics as they are unable to accept defeat in the West Bengal Assembly elections.”, senior MPs Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Sougata Roy told reporters during a press conference.

Trinamool leaders Saugat Roy and Rajya Sabha Trinomul MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy held a press conference at Trinomul Bhaban on Tuesday over the Centre’s letter to Alapan. “The state government will decide whether an IAS officer will meet the prime minister or welcome him,” they said in a letter to the Center. Even if the Center wants or summons an IAS officer to do so, his permission has to be sought from the state government. This is the federal rule. But the center did not follow that rule. The talk that the Prime Minister will go to meet was not a direct assumption of the Center. So no rules or protocols have been broken in this case. “

Trinamool alleges that the efficient administrator of the state is being harassed on the instructions of the Prime Minister. On Monday, the central staff under the Prime Minister sent a letter on behalf of the ministry informing them of the disciplinary action against the officer. Moreover, Modi is also the chairman of the Central Disaster Management Authority. Referring to Prime Minister’s meeting at Kalaikunda following Yaas, Sukhendu said that there was no violation of protocol as the Centre only assumed that Bandyopadhay would meet him, although there was no definite instruction in this regard.

Former Chief Secretary of the state Alapan Banerjee has been charged by the Department of Personnel and Training under the Union Home Ministry. The Department of Personnel and Training has sent an order dated 17th to the former Chief Secretary.

A letter from the staff and training department to Alapana Banerjee came to light on Monday. Where it is written, the kind of behavior that Alapana Banerjee has done in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is tantamount to breach of discipline. That is why an investigation has been ordered against him.

Another part of that letter was revealed on Tuesday wherein it is stated that the Department of Personnel and Training has already framed charges against the officer. They have also received evidence for this, the letter said. On the day of the incident, the testimony of those who were controlling the take-off and landing on the Kalaikunda Airport was taken, as was the testimony of the Under-Secretary officers, who had been in charge of exchanging letters from the Center to the former Chief Secretary since the incident.

Although he was working as the top bureaucrat of the state at that time, the Center did not take permission from the state in this case. The Center argued that the Prime Minister was the chairperson of the public interest meeting. According to the All India Service Rules, the Chief Secretary of the state should have attended the meeting.

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