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The Election Commission on Tuesday said the returning officer (RO) is the “final authority under the law” in the matter of recounting in the Nandigram assembly constituency.

“Certain sections of media have reported about the matter of recounting in Nandigram AC. Returning officer (RO) of an assembly constituency performs statutory functions under the RP Act, 1951 in quasi-judicial capacity independently. Whether it is nomination, polling or counting, the RO acts strictly in accordance with the extant electoral laws, instructions and guidelines of the ECI,” read an EC release.

“On such an application being made the returning officer shall decide the matter and may allow the application in whole or in part or may reject it in toto if it appears to him to be frivolous or unreasonable.”

“After the counting in Nandigram AC, the election agent of a particular candidate requested for a recount, which was rejected by the RO, through a speaking order, on the basis of material facts available before him and declared the result. In such a case, the only legal remedy is to file an EP before the High Court,” it said.

The EC further explained the fair process of counting. “Each counting table had one micro observer. Their reports never indicated any impurity of counting process on their respective table. The RO caused the entries of votes polled by each candidate after each round to be written on the display board which could be easily seen by the counting agents. No doubt was raised on the result of round-wise counting. This enabled the RO to proceed uninterruptedly with the counting of votes,” it said.

“In addition, on the computer installed in the Counting Hall, parallel tabulation work was also done in an Excel sheet to counter-check any human error. A copy of each of the rounds’ results was shared with all the counting agents. After every round, counting agents signed the result sheets,” it added.

“On the basis of media reports on undue pressure on the RO Nandigram, the commission directed the Chief Secretary West Bengal on 3 May 2021 to provide adequate security, which State Government has now provided,” the EC said.

“The Commission has further directed CEO West Bengal to ensure the safe custody of all election records including polled EVM/VVPAT, videorecording, statutory papers, counting records etc,” it said.

After her defeat in Nandigram, incumbent West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday alleged that the returning officer of the assembly seat had said that he had been threatened against recounting of votes.

The TMC on Sunday had written to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), West Bengal seeking “immediate re-counting of votes and postal ballots” in the Nandigram constituency.

(With ANI inputs)

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the new India should be an India of the dreams of fighters who gave their lives for the freedom of the country.

PM Modi also called on youths to work toward building New India with new opportunities, growth avenues and dreams. He was addressing the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Alluri Sitarama Raju in Andhra Pradesh’s Bhimavaram. “Our new India should be an India of the dreams of fighters who gave their lives for our freedom. In past eight years, we have worked with full devotion, walking on principles of Alluri Sitarama Raju, we’ve worked towards the welfare of tribals,” he said.The Prime Minister said when the poor, marginalized, women, youth, and all citizens of the country come together, nothing can come in the way of New India.

“During India’s freedom struggle, the youth played a pivotal role. Today, as we are building a New India, the youth needs to come forward and contribute to this vision,” he said.

He further said that for the first time after Independence, to create awareness about Adivasi Gaurav and Viraasat the government is building museums to tell the story of the great tribal leaders of India.

“For the first time since independence, tribal museums are being set up to showcase the tribal pride and heritage in the country. ‘Alluri Sitarama Raju Memorial Tribal Freedom Fighters Museum’ is also being built in Lambasingi, Andhra Pradesh,” said PM Modi.

In his speech, PM Modi further said that it is the responsibility of everyone in New India to fulfill the dreams of heroes.

“Today, it is the responsibility of all of us countrymen to fulfill the dreams of these fighters in Amrit Kaal. Our new India should be the India of their dreams. An India in which poor, farmers, labourers, backward, tribals have equal opportunities,” added PM Modi.

He also remembered that once, Alluri Sitarama Raju dared the Britishers to stop him.

“Alluri Sitarama Raju once said – “Dum Hai Toh Mujhe Rok Lo!” Today, 133 crore citizens are saying to every hurdle in the path of the country’s development – “Dum Hai Toh Hamein Rok Lo!” said PM.

PM Modi also unveiled the 30-feet tall bronze statue of Alluri Sitarama Raju on the occasion.

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Siddaramaiah’s big birthday bash plan leaves party red faced

R. Jayaprakash



Barely a few days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had a ‘peace meeting’ with senior state leaders in Delhi, the Siddu camp has put a grand plan in motion to mark his 75th birthday on 12 August outside the party fold, leaving the party high command red faced. The Siddu camp has eponymously called the celebration, the Siddaramaiah, 75 Amrutmahotsav.

The Congress leader had called KPCC President D.K. Shivakumar and Congress Legislative Party Leader in Karnataka state Assembly Siddaramaiah last week on 28 June to bring truce between the warring leaders and discuss party preparations for coming Assembly elections in the state. Elections to the state Assembly are due sometime around May next year. The meeting was held in the presence of Karnataka in-charge Randeep Surjewala and AICC General Secretary K.C. Venugopal. The meeting followed after Siddaramaiah tried to push his name as chief ministerial face in the next elections through the party high command a week before, when Siddaramaiah was in Delhi along with other state leaders to participate in the Congress ‘Satyagraha’ at Jantar Mantar.

However, it looks like that Siddu, as Siddaramaiah

is popularly known, has given the party high command’s peace efforts a snub as his camp made a big plan to mark his 75th birthday on 12 August outside the party fold.

During last week’s meeting, it was brought to the notice of party leaders about how Siddaramaiah was making efforts to project himself as chief ministerial face for coming elections and also organising ‘Ahinda’ (acronym for minorities/SC/ST and OBC) programmes outside the party banner and such initiatives would not benefit the party. According to sources, Siddu had been told in clear terms that nobody was above the party and all programmes must happen under the party banner. Yet, he is going ahead with organising a big birthday bash in his name in the state, sources said.

A committee comprising his loyalists – former Industries Minister RV Deshpande, ‘motor mouth’ KN Rajanna and former PWD Minister HC Mahadevappa – has also been put together for ‘Siddaramaiah – 75 Amrutmahotsav’ celebrations. Rajanna had raised some hackles when he said that Deve Gowda would soon be carried by four persons.

The troika is holding a press conference on Tuesday at a star hotel to make the announcement for ‘Siddaramaiah – 75 Amrutmahotsav’ celebrations.

Sources in KPCC told The Daily Guardian Review that the party is unaware of this press briefing and this issue is now being escalated to the party high command in Delhi. “When BS Yediyurappa turned 77 last year, he was the sitting CM then and the programme took place under the banner of the party. But here time and again Siddaramaiah is holding events to project and position himself as though he is indispensable. He hardly does any activity in the party ever since DK was given the charge of the party and now he has resorted to blackmail tactics,” sources said. 

While the press release has already been circulated by the Siddaramaiah’s office about Tuesday’s press conference, it remains to be seen if the party high command would rein in Siddu before it is too late.

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Four Congress workers were arrested for releasing black balloons after PM Modi’s chopper took off from Gannavaram Airport near Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. Police said there was no security breach on his arrival amid Congress protest and balloons were released five minutes after the Prime Minister’s helicopter left and arrests have been made.

The Prime Minister reached the airport after launching a year-long 125th birth anniversary celebration of legendary freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju in Bhimavaram in the state. Police officials said that a strict security cordon was laid around the airport.

Vijay Pal, DSP, Krishna District said four Congress workers have been arrested in the case and a few more are yet to be arrested.

“The four arrested Congress workers will be produced before the court,” he said.

Police said there was no security breach during PM Modi’s arrival at Gannavaram Airport. Balloons were released five minutes after PM’s departure from the airport via chopper. However, the state BJP came down heavily on the government and said the PM’s security was compromised.

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Days after the Ministry of Home Affairs directed National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over the probe of the brutal killings in Rajasthan’s Udaipur and Maharashtra’s Amravati, NIA chief Dinkar Gupta on Monday held a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at his office in the national capital.

On June 28, a tailor Kanhaiya Lal Kumar was beheaded by two men inside his shop in Udaipur in the broad daylight, while a chemist shop owner Umesh Kolhe was killed by several men in Amravati on June 21.

In Udaipur, curfew was relaxed for 12 hours on Monday as the situation in the Rajasthan city, which was gripped by communal tension following the brutal murder of a tailor by two men, remained peaceful. Mobile internet services were also restored after remaining suspended for days.

Following the incident, curfew was imposed in areas falling under the limits of seven police stations — Dhan Mandi, Ghanta Ghar, Hathi Pole, Amba Mata, Suraj Pole, Bhupalpura and Savina.

“A curfew relaxation of 12 hours, from 8 am to 8 pm, has been given today. The situation is absolutely normal,” Udaipur Collector Tara Chand Meena said. Another official said the suspension of mobile internet services in the city ended at 12 pm. Superintendent of Police Vikas Sharma said, “Policemen are deployed in the city to maintain law and order and the situation is normal and completely under control. Udaipur has been peaceful and appeals have been made to people to maintain the peace.”

In Amravati killing case, a district court in Amravati sent the key accused and Irfan Sheikh, the mastermind in the murder case to police custody till July 7. The accused, identified as Irfan Sheikh, was arrested by Amravati police in Nagpur on Sunday. The six accused have been identified as Mudassir Ahmad (22); Shah Rukh Pathan (25); Abdul Thoufique (24); Shoaib Khan (22); Atib Rashid (22) and Yusufkan Bahadur Khan (44).Investigators so far believe that the chemist was killed allegedly in retaliation for a social media post supporting BJP’s Nupur Sharma who had made controversial comments on the Prophet in a television debate.NIA on Thursday said it suspects the role of a “terror gang and not a terror outfit”.The anti-terror agency, however, made it clear that there is a role of a bigger gang behind the brutal killing and that it was not just an act done by only two persons, who were arrested by state police after the incident.

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Jaishankar-Wang likely to meet in Indonesia, LAC row may figure

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar will deliver a stern message to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi over the border stand-off.



External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi are likely to meet in Indonesia this week during which the Line of Actual Control (LAC) stand-off may be discussed. Sources told The Daily Guardian Review that Jaishankar and Wang may hold talks on the sidelines of the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting which is scheduled to be held in Bali on 7-8 July. The FMs’ meeting is being hosted by Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.  

The interactions at the foreign ministers’ meet will set the stage for the G-20 Summit which will be hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo later this year. At the FM’s Meet, Jaishankar will outline India’s stand on food, energy security and global supply chains, sources said. Jaishankar may also engage with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Definitely, the Ukraine situation will be one of the key agendas during the talks between the Indian and Russian foreign ministers. Jaishankar is set to reaffirm India’s stand favouring dialogue to resolve the problems between Russia and Ukraine. The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers had last met Jaishankar in India in March and April, respectively.

EAM Jaishankar is also likely to hold bilateral talks with his counterparts from various countries in the West including the US. He will also hold a separate meeting with the host Indonesian Foreign Minister.

All eyes will, however, be on Jaishankar’s meeting with Wang Yi, during which the LAC deadlock may figure. The diplomats on both sides are exploring the possibility of scheduling a meeting of Jaishankar and Wang on the sidelines of the G-20 FMs’ meet.    

Top diplomatic sources informed that if the meeting takes place, Jaishankar will deliver a stern message to his Chinese counterpart on the LAC problems. “Wang will be told that normal ties between India and China will be back on track only if the boundary row is resolved,” sources said. This will be a clear message for Chinese President Xi Jinping as well, who wanted bilateral relations to be normal between New Delhi and Beijing ‘without waiting for resolution’ of the LAC issue, sources add.

Wang had come with Xi’s proposal on 25 March, and Jaishankar had rejected it outright.  Wang reiterated this proposal during his recent meeting with India’s ambassador to China, Pradeep Rawat. Rawat had also rejected the proposal, emphasizing the criticality of maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas for realizing the full potential of India-China relations and its positive implications for the world, particularly Asia.

During his talks with Wang, Jaishankar is going to reaffirm India’s stand that China should first cooperate with India to resolve standoff over LAC and then the other normal processes in bilateral ties will be restored. The 15th round of negotiation between military commanders of India and China on 11 March failed to break the impasse on mutual withdrawal of troops from Hot Springs or Patrol Point 15 in eastern Ladakh. Next round of talks at the military commander level will be held and a date will be fixed once Jaishankar returns from Indonesia after meeting Wang, sources said.  

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Speaker Rahul Narwekar reinstates Eknath Shinde as Legislative Party Leader and appoints Bharat Gogawale as Chief Whip of Shiv Sena.



The newly formed government in Maharashtra led by Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde comfortably won the floor test on Monday by a 164–99 margin. With 39 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs on his side, the BJP throwing the weight of its 106 MLAs behind him and 19 Independent legislators romping up support for Shinde, the result of the trust vote was a foregone conclusion. With his floor test win, Shinde has proved his government’s majority while cementing his position as chief minister and the leader of the Shiv Sena.

Eknath Shinde at the swearing-in ceremony on Monday. ANI

In the trust vote conducted by Speaker Rahul Narwekar, the newly formed Shinde–BJP coalition polled 164 votes, whereas 99 votes were polled against the coalition government. Interestingly, Shiv Sena MLA from Shetkari Kamgar Paksh of Uddhav Thackeray faction Shyamsundar Shinde also voted in favour of Shinde government, though he did not join the Shinde faction. The Uddhav faction got another jolt when one more Shiv Sena MLA Santosh Bangar

joined the Shinde camp just before the trust vote.

The trust vote was proposed by BJP’s Sudhir Mungantiwar and Shiv Sena’s Bharat Gogawale. After a voice vote on the proposal of trust vote, opposition members demanded a division of vote. Speaker Narwekar allowed the demand and conducted the division of votes by head count.

Earlier in the day ahead of the crucial trust vote, Speaker Narwekar removed Shiv Sena MLA Ajay Chaudhary as the Legislative Party Leader and reinstated Shinde in the position. Before staging a rebellion against Uddhav, Shinde was Legislative Party Leader of the Shiv Sena in the House. The Speaker also replaced Sunil Prabhu with Bharat Gogawale as Chief Whip of Shiv Sena in the House.

It may be recalled that in the height of political crisis, Udhav Thackeray had replaced Shinde by Choudhary as Legislative Party Leader in the state Assembly. The rebel MLAs, who were then camping in Guwahati, had written a letter to the Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal objecting to Choudhary’s appointment. The Shinde camp moved the Supreme Court challenging the disqualification notices issued by Deputy Speaker Zirwal to 16 rebel MLAs as well as Choudhary’s appointment as Shiv Sena Legislature Party Leader.

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, on the other hand, ordered Udhav Thackeray to go for a trust vote, which was challenged in the Supreme Court. However, the apex court refused to intervene, thus clearing the deck for a floor test on 30 June. Sensing an imminent defeat, as he has lost the numbers game, Thackeray chose to step down and resigned the same day before going for a trust vote, thus paving the way for a new government to be formed by the BJP and rebel Shinde faction.

Interestingly, amid the ongoing battle between two Shiv Sena factions, led by Shinde and Thackeray, both sides issued separate whips to Shiv Sena MLAs to vote in favour of their respective candidates during the Speaker’s election on Sunday and later accused each other of violating them. Interestingly, the Opposition got 107 votes in favour of their candidate Rajan Salvi.

During the trust vote, several legislators did not show up. Conspicuous by their absence were Congress MLAs Vijay Wadettiwar, Zeeshan Siddiqui and Dheeraj Deshmukh. NCP MLA Sangram Jagtap too was missing, while former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan reached the House after the vote. Upset over the outgoing MAV government’s decision to rename Aurangabad, Samajwadi Party legislators Abu Azmi and Rais Shaikh abstained from voting, so did AIMIM MLA Shah Farukh.

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