New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern set to serve second term as PM after landslide victory

News Network
October 17, 2020

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New Delhi, Oct 17: Marking a landslide victory in the New Zealand General Elections, incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to return for her second term as the head of the country. PM Jacinda Ardern, representing New Zealand's liberal labout party, is acing ahead to form for the first time a single party majority government in the country in decades. During her first term in the office, Ardern was in power with the support of the nationalist party.

Ardern’s liberal Labour Party had nearly double the support of its main challenger, the conservative National Party.

Labour was on the cusp of winning an outright majority in Parliament, something that hasn’t happened since New Zealand implemented a proportional voting system 24 years ago. Typically, parties must form alliances to govern, but this time Ardern and Labour may be able to go it alone.

"It's a landslide that looks like our vote is the best it has been since the 1940s," said Labour Minister David Parker. "It's a tremendous accolade first and foremost to the prime minister, but also to the wider Labour team and the Labour movement."

A record number of voters cast early ballots in the two weeks leading up to the election.

On the campaign trail, Ardern was greeted like a rock star by people who crammed into malls and spilled onto streets to cheer her on and get selfies with her.

Her popularity soared earlier this year after she led a successful effort to stamp out the coronavirus. There is currently no community spread of the virus in the nation of 5 million and people are no longer required to wear masks or social distance.

Ardern, 40, won the top job after the 2017 election when Labour formed an alliance with two other parties. The following year, she became only the second world leader to give birth while in office.

She became a role model for working mothers around the world, many of whom saw her as a counterpoint to President Donald Trump. And she was praised for her handling of last year’s attack on two Christchurch mosques, when a white supremacist gunned down 51 Muslim worshippers. She moved quickly to pass new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

In late March this year, when only about 100 people had tested positive for COVID-19, Ardern and her health officials put New Zealand into a strict lockdown with a motto of “Go hard and go early.” She shut the borders and outlined an ambitious goal of eliminating the virus entirely rather than just trying to control its spread.

With New Zealand having the advantage of being an isolated island nation, the strategy worked. The country eliminated community transmission for 102 days before a new cluster was discovered in August in Auckland. Ardern swiftly imposed a second lockdown in Auckland and the new outbreak faded away. The only new cases found recently have been among returning travelers, who are in quarantine.

The Auckland outbreak also prompted Ardern to postpone the election by a month and helped increase the early voter turnout.

The National Party’s leader, Judith Collins, is a former lawyer. She served as a minister when National was in power and prides herself on a blunt, no-nonsense approach, a contrast to Ardern’s empathetic style. Collins, 61, was promising sweeping tax cuts in response to the economic downturn caused by the virus.

In the election, voters also had a say on two contentious social issues — whether to legalize marijuana and euthanasia. Polls taken before the election indicated the euthanasia referendum was likely to pass while the marijuana vote remained uncertain. The results of both referendums will be announced Oct. 30.

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News Network
September 23,2022

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Kannur, Sept 23: A group of Popular Front of India (PFI) activists were beaten up by local people when they allegedly tried to forcefully down the shutters of shops here as part of the hartal called by their outfit in the state on Friday.

Angry local people reacted strongly when the protesters asked them to close the shops, beat them up and handed one of them to the police at the Central Bazar in Payyannur in this politically-volatile northern district. 

In the visuals aired by local television channels, it could be seen that one of the hartal supporters was beaten up by a group of local people, who chased him when he tried to run away and handed him over to the police later.

According to local people, the incident happened when a group of PFI workers rushed to the bazaar area knowing that some of the shops were open. Besides the shoppers and local people, those belonging to other political parties also said to have joined in the bid to check the PFI workers' attempt to close the shops.

At least four people were reportedly under the custody of Payyannur police in connection with the incident. Sporadic incidents of violence were reported in various parts of southern state during the hartal called by the radical Islamic outfit. 

The hartal was called by the PFI to protest against the raids in the offices and residences of its leaders and their subsequent arrests on Thursday by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.

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News Network
September 27,2022

New Delhi, Sept 27: In its second major crackdown against the Popular Front of India (PFI), police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested many leaders/ members after conducting raids in eight states on Tuesday. Many from the party or those working for party members were also detained.

Raids were conducted in Aurangabad, Jalana, Parbhani districts of Maharashtra; Simoga, Bidar, Ballari, Hubli, Kalburgi districts of Karnataka; Nagarbera of Assam; Bulandshahr's Kasba Syana, Sarurpur and Lisari Gate area of Meerut in Western Uttar Pradesh; and at several places in Delhi.

Earlier, in a nationwide crackdown against the PFI on September 22, around 106 senior office-bearers of the organisation were arrested.

Among Tuesday's arrests, as many as 27 PFI members were held in Maharashtra during the NIA raids. Those who were arrested include district presidents, secretaries, treasures among several other members.

In Karnataka, over eighty persons have been detained in the raids conducted by the Karnataka state police in several districts across the state at the residences of office-bearers and members of PFI and its offices under the provision of 'Preventive Action' under the CrPc.

The raids were conducted under the supervision of Alok Kumar, additional director general of police (AdGP, Law and order). Kumar said, "We have detained around 80 persons so far and they will be sent for detention."

In Delhi, more than 30 PFI members were detained during multiple raids by central agencies. As per latest reports, the raids are still underway at several places in the city.

Twenty-five PFI activists were arrested from different districts of Assam in a fresh crackdown against the outfit. The highest number of 10 PFI activists were held in Goalpara, five in Kamrup (Rural) and three in Dhubri, followed by arrests in Barpeta, Baksa, Darrang, Udalguri and Karimganj.

At least 10 people have been detained in Gujarat for questioning over alleged links with PFI in raids conducted by a joint team of the state ATS and NIA.

Meanwhile the Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) detained 21 members from eight districts of the state over links with Popular Front of India (PFI). In Bhopal, the ATS conducted raids at SDPI's (Social Democratic Party of India) office located at Shahjahanabad area late on Monday and detained one suspect for interrogation.

Persons associated with SDPI are suspected to have been funding PFI, and the ATS claimed to have recovered some documents related with the same. 

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News Network
September 28,2022

Bengaluru, Sept 28: Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Wednesday welcomed the imposition of ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) in the country for five years.

"The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in coordination with various state police departments had carried out raids on PFI workers and gathered evidence," he said.

He further stated that PFI was one of the religious fundamental forces which indulged in pitting the youth of the country against the nation. The move to ban PFI is good in the view of maintaining the integrity and unity of the country.

This is also a step which was necessary to maintain peace and harmony in the country, the Home Minister stated.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Director General of Police Praveen Sood has given directions to take up strict vigilance across the state against the backdrop of the move. The local police have been directed to conduct peace meetings with the Muslim community leaders.

It has also been directed to take those who try to disturb peace into custody. The central government has also issued warnings to take preventive measures in this regard.

Bengaluru Police Commissioner Pratap Reddy has given directions in localities where Muslims live in more numbers. The orders have been issued to lock all the PFI's offices in the city.

The notification of the union government has mentioned the murder of BJP activist Praveen Kumar Nettare in Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. It has also mentioned the proposal of the Karnataka government to ban PFI.

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