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

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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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July 21,2021

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Mangaluru, July 21: Congress veteran and former union minister Oscar Fernandes’ health condition continued to be critical on Wednesday despite showing slight improvement in intensive care unit. 

“There was slight improvement in his condition with movement in his hands and legs,” said Congress leader and former minister M B Patil, who visited the hospital in Mangaluru where Fernandes is undergoing treatment. A team of expert doctors from Udupi and Manipal are monitoring his health condition.

Former union minister Janardhan Poojary too visited the hospital to enquire on the health condition of Oscar Fernandes.

Patil said that if required, telemedicine facility would also be arranged for his treatment. He said that Congress President Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi are in touch with Fernandes' family and are enquiring about his health.

The 80-year-old veteran leader sustained a head injury while performing yoga at his residence. He had visited Yenepoya hospital for his routine dialysis and during the check-up he was found to be suffering from clot in his brain on Tuesday and was shifted to ICU. 

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News Network
July 13,2021

Bengaluru, July 13: BJP National General Secretary C T Ravi on Tuesday pitched for bringing in a new population policy in Karnataka, on the lines of party ruled Assam and Uttar Pradesh, to curb growing population amid limited natural resources.

"It is high time Karnataka brings in a new population policy on the lines of Assam and Uttar Pradesh to control its growing population," Ravi, who is also a ruling BJP MLA from Chikkamagaluru said in a tweet.

"With the limited natural resources available, it will be difficult to meet the needs of every citizen if there is a population explosion," he said.

State Law Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday had said that a decision will be taken after discussion and deliberation.

Uttar Pradesh Population Policy 2021-2030 was recently unveiled by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to steady the growing population in the state and reduce maternal and infant deaths in a time-bound manner.

A draft of the Uttar Pradesh population control bill has also been uploaded on the state law commission website.

Assam, which is another BJP-ruled state, too has announced that it will gradually implement a two-child policy for availing benefits under specific schemes funded by the state. 

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News Network
July 20,2021

Bengaluru, July 20: Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa may quit the post within a few days and Karnataka may witness a new CM before August 15, according to party sources.

“If nothing goes wrong, he may resign on or before July 26, when he completes two years in office as his request to continue in the top post till then was not accepted by the BJP central leadership,” a person aware of the developments said. 

The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said it will not comment, calling it speculation.

Several times earlier, Yediyurappa denied having been asked to step down. “This is obvious as no sitting CM will admit that he is on his way out as that would affect the administration,” the source said.

Apparently, Yediyurappa’s exit plan was firmed up even before his visit to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others last week.  It is learnt that the Yediyurappa’s resignation letter was drafted more than a week ago. 

Yediyurappa wanted more time as he was keen on inaugurating some developmental works in Shivamogga, his political home, it is said.

Meanwhile, an audio clip purportedly of BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel went viral, stirring the state’s political cauldron and doing little to reaffirm Yediyurappa’s continuation. Kateel called it “fake”, but the voice is heard talking of a new chief minister and a major Cabinet reshuffle. 

“There are three candidates shortlisted. There are chances that anyone can become CM...No one from here will become CM. High command will appoint [someone] from Delhi,” according to the clip.

Further, the voice on the audio clip talks about big changes in the Cabinet: “Eshwarappa, Shettar and team will be out. A new team will be formed.”

Kateel has urged Yediyurappa to order an investigation, adding that it was a ploy to tarnish the party’s image. “I have nothing to do with this audio clip,” he said. “Yediyurappa is the party’s soul, Eshwarappa and Shettar are the eyes. There’s no discussion on change in leadership or anything like that.” 

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