London mayor Sadiq Khan wins historic 3rd term as Tories routed in local polls

News Network
May 5, 2024

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London: London's Labour mayor Sadiq Khan on Saturday secured a record third term, as the party swept a host of mayoral races and local elections to trounce the ruling Conservatives just months before an expected general election.

Khan, 53, beat Tory challenger Susan Hall by 11 points to scupper largely forlorn Tory hopes that they could prise the UK capital away from Labour for the first time since 2016.

The first Muslim mayor of a Western capital when initially elected then, he had been widely expected to win as the opposition party surges nationally and the Tories struggle to revive their fortunes.

Hours later in the West Midlands, Conservative mayor Andy Street -- bidding for his own third term -- unexpectedly lost to Labour's Richard Parker, dealing a hammer blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

That narrow loss left the beleaguered leader with only one notable success in Thursday's votes across England, after Tory mayor Ben Houchen won in Tees Valley, northeast England -- albeit with a vastly reduced majority.

In a dismal set of results, Sunak's party finished a humiliating third in local council tallies after losing nearly 500 seats.

"People across the country have had enough of Conservative chaos and decline and voted for change with Labour," its leader Keir Starmer said shortly after confirmation of Parker's victory.

He called the result "phenomenal" and "beyond our expectations".

Writing earlier in Saturday's Daily Telegraph, Sunak had conceded "voters are frustrated" but tried to argue Labour was "not winning in places they admit they need for a majority".

"We Conservatives have everything to fight for," Sunak insisted.

'Spirit and values'

Labour, out of power since 2010 and trounced by Boris Johnson's Conservatives at the last general election in 2019, also emphatically snatched a parliamentary seat from the Tories.

Starmer has seized on winning the Blackpool South constituency and other successes to demand a general election.

Sunak must order a national vote be held by January 28 next year at the latest, and has said he is planning on a poll in the second half of 2024.

Labour has enjoyed double-digit poll leads for all of his 18 months in charge, as previous Tory scandals, a cost-of-living crisis and various other issues dent his party's standing.
On Thursday, it was defending nearly 1,000 council seats, many secured in 2021 when it led nationwide polls before the implosion of Johnson's premiership and his successor Liz Truss's disastrous 49-day tenure.

In the end, they lost close to half and finished third behind the smaller centrist opposition Liberal Democrats.

Meanwhile Labour swept crunch mayoral races across England, from Yorkshire, Manchester and Liverpool in the north to contests across the Midlands.

In London, Khan netted 44 percent of the vote and saw his margin of victory increase compared to the last contest in 2021.

"It's truly an honour to be re-elected for a third term," he told supporters, accusing his Tory opponent of "fearmongering".

"We ran a campaign that was in keeping with the spirit and values of this great city, a city that regards our diversity not as a weakness, but as an almighty strength -- and one that rejects right hard-wing populism," he added.

'Change course'

If replicated in a nationwide contest, the council tallies suggested Labour would win 34 percent of the vote, with the Tories trailing by nine points, according to the BBC.

Sky News' projection for a general election using the results predicted Labour will be the largest party but short of an overall majority.

Speculation has been rife in Westminster that restive Tory lawmakers could use dire local election results to try to replace Sunak.

Despite the returns being at the worst end of estimates, that prospect has not so far materialised.

Ex-interior minister and Sunak critic Suella Braverman warned in the Sunday Telegraph that Sunak's plan "is not working and he needs to change course", urging a more muscular conservatism.

But she cautioned against trying to replace him, warning "changing leader now won't work: the time to do so came and went".

Meanwhile, polling expert John Curtice assessed there were some concerning signs for Labour, which lost control of one local authority and some councillors elsewhere reportedly over its stance on the Israel-Hamas war.

"These were more elections in which the impetus to defeat the Conservatives was greater than the level of enthusiasm for Labour," Curtice noted in the i newspaper.

"Electorally, it is still far from clear that Sir Keir Starmer is the heir to (Tony) Blair."

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News Network
May 21,2024

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Bengaluru: Home Minister G Parameshwara on Tuesday said that the Karnataka government has written to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) seeking the cancellation of the diplomatic passport held by absconding JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna. This follows an arrest warrant issued by a special court against the Hassan MP wanted in multiple rape and sexual harassment cases.

Speaking to reporters in the city, Parameshwara said that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the cancellation of Prajwal's passport.

“But the department writing it, as per the law, is different,” the Home Minister said. “A warrant has been issued now (and) based on the warrant, a letter has been written, stating that a warrant has been issued and the diplomatic passport has to be cancelled.”

Parameshwara said that in case the ministry cancels the passport, it will be impossible for Prajwal to stay in a foreign country and he would be compelled to return.

"We have written to the Ministry of External Affairs as matters related to passports come under them, they will have to respond to it," he added.

Prajwal fled to Germany after the Phase II Lok Sabha polls in the state on April 26. A few days before the polls, explicit videos of women allegedly harassed and sexually assaulted by the MP were leaked and pen drives filled with the visuals were purportedly distributed in Hassan.

Prajwal is accused of raping two women. He is also accused in a separate sexual harassment case, where his father JD(S) MLA HD Revanna is the co-accused.

On Saturday, a Special Court for Elected Representatives issued an arrest warrant against the MP after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the Hassan sex abuse case moved an application.

Earlier the SIT had issued Look Out Circulars and a Blue Corner Notice, seeking the whereabouts of the MP, was also issued by Interpol in response to a request by the SIT via the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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News Network
May 28,2024

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Mangaluru: Attempting to take political advantage of lack of space in a Masjid, wherein a few people had to offer last Friday prayers on a narrow stretch of an interior road for a few minutes in Mangaluru, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has warned of holding mass recitation of Hanuman Chalisa, if instances of offering namaz on the road is reported from anywhere in Dakshina Kannada.

VHP leader Sharan Pumpwell said “instances of offering namaz on roads and public places have come to light in the district. It is a conspiracy to create unrest in the district.”

“The district administration should take action against those who offered namaz on the road. If such incidents recur, the VHP will hold recitation of Hanuman chalisa on the same spot,” he warned. 

In fact, the VHP members submitted a memorandum to Kadri police to take action against those who offered namaz on the road. The police should consider the incident seriously.

In a memorandum, they claimed in spite of having enough space at the masjid, by offering namaz on the road has caused inconvenience to the public.

It may be recalled that the video of a few offering namaz on the street in Kankanady had gone viral on social media, drawing criticism from various quarters.

Commissioner of Police Anupam Agrawal said that a case has been registered against unknown persons for offering prayers on the road at Mangaluru East Police station limits.

FIR has been registered under IPC Sections 341, 283, 143 and 149 and investigation is in progress.

The Commissioner said "video of unknown persons offering prayers on the public road in front of a masjid on May 24 was being circulated in social media. The video was verified and was found that it posed hindrance to the movement of public and vehicles."

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News Network
May 23,2024

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Bengaluru, May 23: Karnataka’s capital has once again got bomb threat in 10 days, with three reputed hotels in including The Oterra receiving terror emails today.

Following this, the Bomb Squad and Police teams rushed to the spot and are currently at The Oterra Hotel, DCP South East Bengaluru said.

The recent development comes as Delhi's North Block that houses the home ministry office, received a bomb threat on Wednesday. 

According to a Delhi Fire Services (DFS) official, the threat was received through an email which was sent around 3.30 PM to a senior officer posted at the ministry. The email stated that the building will explode as a bomb is planted.

Subsequently, the Police and fire department personnel, bomb disposal and detection teams, and a dog squad were deployed for the search operation at the North Block. However, the threat was later declared a hoax after nothing objectionable was found.

In another similar incident that occurred in the city last week on May 14, eight schools in various parts of Bengaluru received a bomb threat via email. This too was later declared a hoax by the city police.

On May 13, six private hospitals in Bengaluru also received bomb threat through email, although it did not specify which branch. Acting swiftly, the state police deloyed teams to all the hospital branches, initiating a comprehensive search operation in the hospitals.

The email was sent to the Bengaluru Police's Special Branch, alleging the presence of explosive materials inside the hospitals. However, during the investigation and combing operation, the threat was found to be a hoax.

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