Aadhaar-electoral rolls linking rules may be issued soon; sharing details voluntary: CEC

News Network
May 14, 2022

New Delhi, May 14: Rules on linking Aadhaar with the electoral rolls may be issued by the government soon, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra has said, adding that sharing Aadhaar details will be voluntary for voters, but those not doing so will have to give "sufficient reasons".

Chandra also said that the poll panel played a key role in intensifying the vaccination drive in the five states where assembly elections concluded in March this year to ensure that voters and those involved in election duty were safe from the coronavirus.

In an interview with PTI, he said two major electoral reforms which took place in his tenure as the CEC are the provision of four dates in a year instead of one to enrol those turning 18 as voters and the linking of Aadhaar with electoral rolls to check duplicate entries in the voters' list.

"Earlier, only January 1 of every year was the cut-off date. We convinced the government that this reform is very essential and these people should be enrolled as soon as they turn 18. With this reform now, there will be four dates in a year to get these people registered when they complete 18 years of age. This reform was pending for the last 20 years," Chandra said.

The four cut-off dates for enrolment is part of a Bill passed by Parliament a few months back to allow linkage of Aadhaar with the electoral rolls.

As of now, those turning 18 on or before January 1 can be registered as voters. Those who turn 18 on January 2 or later have to wait for one year to register as a voter. But once the rules are issued, young people can get registered as voters on four different dates every year.

"The second biggest reform is the linking of Aadhaar with electoral rolls to check duplicate entries. It will make the voter list pure. It will make the electoral roll more robust," he said.

Asked when the rules will be notified by the government, Chandra said "I think very soon because we have already sent draft proposals in this regard. We have also sent the forms which are to be changed and they are with the (law) ministry. Very soon, I think they will be cleared. We will also have to tone up our IT system."

On whether sharing Aadhaar details will be voluntary, he replied in positive. "It will be voluntary. But sufficient reason will have to be given by voters for not giving their Aadhaar numbers. The reason may include not having an Aadhaar or not having applied for one or any other reason they can think of. I can not think of any other reason," the CEC said said.

Chandra was of the view that sharing Aadhaar number will help the EC purify the voter list. It will also ensure that the poll panel is able to give more services to the voters through its communication system, he added.

"If we know about the voter more clearly, then we can give more services such as when the elections will be held and booth (details) on their phone numbers... We should know clearly that he/she is the right person," Chandra said.

Asked about the biggest challenge he has faced as the CEC, he said the "toughest" one was to conduct elections in five states and various bypolls during COVID-19.

"Because when these elections were coming near, we never thought at that time that Covid will intensify. Suddenly, we came to know about the onset of Omicron. We had to prepare as nobody knew much about this variant.

"So suddenly, we had to gear up to make the voting process and the election machinery safe," he added.

During this period, the EC intensified the vaccination process and ensured booster (precaution) doses for its polling personnel, including security forces.

"We had to take the unusual step of stopping campaigning in physical form. Initially, we said only door-to-door campaigning with just five people will be allowed and there will be more emphasis on digital campaigning," Chandra recalled.

"We had regular meetings with health secretaries and chief secretaries of the states. We asked them to intensify vaccination and we kept a close watch every week. We were giving a very graded response to our campaigning methodology. We opened it gradually. By the time electioneering started, the vaccination rate was very high in all the five states, and the voters had been given the first or the second doses as per protocol," he added.

Chandra replied in positive when asked whether it was the EC which had in a way been responsible for intensifying the vaccination drive in the five states.

"Definitely. In states where it was especially less like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, we reviewed the situation and asked the chief sectaries and the health secretaries to boost the vaccination drive.

"Each and every person should have taken at least the first dose. If the first dose had been administered, then the second should be given. In Uttar Pradesh, the first dose coverage was 100 per cent. The percentage of vaccination in Punjab and Manipur also went up. We took each and every step possible to check the spread of Omicron during the elections in these states so that the voters and the voting process can be safe," he said. 

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News Network
June 29,2022

New Delhi, June 29: The rupee depreciated 11 paise to a record low of 78.96 against the US dollar in opening trade on Wednesday, weighed down by persistent foreign capital outflows.

At the interbank foreign exchange, the rupee opened on a weak note at 78.86 against the American dollar, then lost ground to quote at 78.96—its all-time low level, registering a fall of 11 paise from the last close.

On Tuesday, the rupee plunged by 48 paise to close at record low of 78.85 against the US dollar.

The rupee opened weaker against the dollar on Wednesday as renewed focus on the weak economic outlook prompted losses on Asian currencies and shares, said Sriram Iyer, Senior Research Analyst at Reliance Securities.

"The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) could be present to curb volatility, but the strength of crude oil could cap appreciation bias," Iyer said, adding that the range for the rupee on Wednesday is 78.50-79.10.

The rupee has lost 1.87 per cent so far this month and has eroded a staggering 6.28 per cent since the start of this year.

Global oil benchmark Brent crude futures fell 0.88 per cent to $116.94 per barrel.

Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback's strength against a basket of six currencies, was trading 0.08 per cent lower at 104.42.

On the domestic equity market front, the 30-share Sensex was trading 474.05 points or 0.89 per cent lower at 52,703.40, while the broader NSE Nifty declined 137.75 points or 0.87 per cent to 15,712.45.

Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in the capital market on Tuesday as they offloaded shares worth ₹1,244.44 crore, as per stock exchange data.

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News Network
June 25,2022

A member of parliament from Kerala has written an ‘urgent’ letter of appeal to the Union Minister of Civil Aviation to initiate urgent action over the ‘unprecedented’ hike in airfares from the Gulf region.

CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala Dr V Sivadasan wrote to Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on June 25, requesting the Minister to oversee the steep hike in airfares.

Airfares during the summer travel seasons from Gulf countries, including the UAE, will almost quadruple from July 1.

Schools in the region close for the summer so, several expatriate families fly home for the holidays.

Sivadasan wrote, “Foreseeing the upcoming surge of passengers as the Gulf countries are getting into summer vacation and the festive occasion of Bakrid (Eid Al Adha) the Airlines have made a hefty increase in the flight charges from Gulf countries to India.”

He said in the letter, “This unprecedented hike in fares is putting a heavy toll on the life savings of Indian workers in Gulf countries.”

“Taking into account the immense financial stress imposed by Covid-19 and economic slowdown, I request your kind intervention into the matter so that the Indian diaspora, waiting to come to their homeland are not fleeced by the flight companies,” stated Dr Sivadasan.

He requested Scindia to intervene and initiate urgent action.

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News Network
June 21,2022

 

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Mumbai: Maharashtra Minister and top Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde has reportedly moved to a hotel in Gujarat's Surat with 11 other party MLAs, setting off alarm bells in the Uddhav Thackeray government.

Latest developments 

>> Targeting the BJP, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said there is a conspiracy to topple the Uddhav Thackeray government in the "same pattern as in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan". "Shiv Sena is a party of loyalists. We won't let that happen," he said. 

>> Sources say Mr Shinde, who is reportedly upset, is "unreachable". Palghar MLA Srinivas Vanga, Aligarh legislator Mahendra Dalvi and Bhiwandi Rural Shantaram More are also "unreachable", it is learnt.

>> Opposition BJP's sources have claimed that besides the 12 MLAs from Sena, there are five Independent MLAs at the Surat hotel too.

>> This comes hours after the Maha Vikas Aghadi ruling alliance and the BJP won five seats each in the Legislative Assembly elections. Opposition BJP won all five seats it contested. Congress candidate Chandrakant Handore lost in a setback for the ruling alliance. 

>> Mr Shinde, it is learnt, may address the media at noon. The situation may turn into a major crisis for the ruling alliance of Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.

>> A prominent Sena leader in Thane, Mr Shinde has played a key role in strengthening the organisation in the region. His son, Dr Shrikant Shinde, is Sena's Member of Parliament from Kalyan.

>> Seen as a mass leader, Mr Shinde was named Leader of the Opposition in 2014 after the Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP. When the Maha Vikas Aghadi government was formed, he was appointed cabinet minister for Urban Development and Public Works (Public Undertakings).

>> Of late, there have been reports that Mr Shinde is upset with the leadership and has been feeling sidelined.

>> Former Sena leader Narayan Rane, who is now with the BJP, had a cheeky response. "No comments should be made on such things, else what is the point of being unreachable," he said.

>> Mahesh Tapase, spokesperson for the Nationalist Congress Party, said that the future of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is "absolutely safe".

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