‘Avoid campaign on communal lines, politicising army’: EC directs BJP over a month after PM Modi remarks; warns Cong too

News Network
May 22, 2024

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New Delhi: Acting on a one-month-old notice it sent to the BJP on complaints over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s provocative and communal remarks, the Election Commission of India on Wednesday directed the saffron party’s star campaigners not to make speeches along 'religious/communal lines' and desist from statements that may 'divide the society'.

Separately, it also asked the Congress' star campaigners not to give 'false impression' of abolishing or selling the Constitution, make speeches that create 'mutual hatred or cause tension' between religious or linguistic communities or 'potentially divisive statements' regarding the socio-economic composition of the armed forces.

The EC’s letters to BJP president JP Nadda and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge conveying its directions came 27 days after it issued separate notices to them on complaints against Modi, Kharge and Rahul Gandhi. Though the complaints were annexed in the notice that were sent to party chiefs and not the alleged violators, the names of violators were not mentioned.

It also comes ten days before the seven-phased elections are ending on June 1 though the notices were issued a day before the second phase of polls on April 25. While Nadda had responded to the letter on May 13 after seeking two extensions, Kharge submitted his arguments on May 6 after seeking one extension. They were initially given time till April 29.

In its letter to Nadda, the EC said he has not denied the utterances mentioned in the Congress complaint though it 'stoutly defended' the campaign methods and remarks while invoking a 'unilateral drawing of inferences and interpretations' of star campaigners of opponents. It said its star campaigners continued with objectionable utterances even after the April 25 notice.

The latest communication came against the backdrop of complaints by Congress and other parties which referred to Modi’s speech in Banswara as “communal” where he spoke about Congress seeking to redistribute people’s wealth to “infiltrators”, in a veiled reference to Muslims, and that women’s ‘mangalsutras’ will be snatched.

Emphasising that Nadda’s defence was 'not tenable', the EC said, 'directs you as party president to also convey to all star campaigners to not make speeches and statements, which may divide the society. Directs BJP and its star campaigners to refrain from any campaigning methods/utterances along religious/communal lines'.

In its letter to Kharge, the EC said Kharge too has justified Congress star campaigners’ contentious remarks while claiming that the complaint had 'wilfully extracted only specific portions, devoid of context, to mislead the Commission'. Kharge also claimed that the BJP leaders were making 'motivated statements' invoking religious sentiments to attract voters.

The EC, which had taken cognisance of complaints against Kharge and Rahul, said the assertion of Congress’ star campaigners about the BJP attempting to change the Constitution was allegedly instilling fear in the minds of voters about an uncertain future and an attempt to spread anarchy in the country and could be considered as “corrupt practice” under election laws.

While insisting that it cannot accept the Congress arguments and find it untenable, the EC directed Kharge to convey to all star campaigners that they do not make statements which give a 'false impression such as the Constitution of India may be abolished or sold'.

Amid the Congress making a campaign point on the controversial Agniveer scheme, it also directed him to convey to star campaigners that they should not indulge in political propaganda involving the military and not make 'potentially divisive statements' regarding socio-economic composition of defence forces.

Both the party presidents to ensure that star campaigners refrain from making any statement that may “aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic”.

The EC also referred to controversial statements after the April 25 notice by star campaigners from both sides in its letters, referring to complaints and counter complaints.

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News Network
June 4,2024

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Yusuf Pathan, the swashbuckling all-rounder from Baroda, will soon be rubbing shoulders with the bigwigs in the Lok Sabha. 

The 41-year-old former cricketer, who made his electoral debut on a Trinamool Congress ticket from West Bengal's Baharampur, has upset Congress heavyweight Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. 

Rejecting Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, its five-time MP from this so-called ‘Congress fortress’, voters elected Trinamool Congress candidate and former India all-rounder Yusuf Pathan by a comprehensive win margin of over 85,000 votes.

Owing to Chowdhury’s defeat in Baharampur, which remained among the last-standing perceived Congress fortresses of the state, the Trinamool Congress had its flag grafted and flying from the region for the first time ever.

Pathan was a member of the Indian cricket team that lifted the inaugural ICC World T20 trophy in 2007. Less than a year later, he excelled with both bat and ball to guide Rajasthan Royals to the Indian Premier League title in the marquee tournament's first edition. 

But Pathan's laurels did not end there. He was a member of the victorious Kolkata Knight Riders team that won IPL twice in 2012 and 2014. 

Despite being the elder of the two brothers, Yusuf made his international debut three years after Irfan.

His ability to turn matches around with his power-hitting and crucial wickets made him a vital player for India in shorter formats as he became a member of the MS Dhoni-led batch of 2011 that lifted the ODI World Cup.

Cut to 2024. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee picked Pathan as a surprise pick to take on Chowdhury, who belongs to the INDIA bloc ally Congress. 

Pathan said he has immense respect for the Congress leader. “I respect Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury a lot. He is a senior leader. I give my best wishes to him... I will open a sports academy to encourage children to represent the state and country... The people have given their support to me,” he was quoted by ANI as saying. 

Besides Chowdhury, Yusuf had to take on BJP's Nirmal Chandra Saha, a known doctor from the region and also deal with the "outsider" barbs from the opposition.

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News Network
June 4,2024

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New Delhi: The BJP-led NDA was ahead with leads in 296 seats and the opposition I.N.D.I.A. bloc not far behind in 227 seats as votes were counted for the Lok Sabha elections on Tuesday, setting the course for a third consecutive term as prime minister for Narendra Modi but with a stronger opposition.

While the BJP was ahead in 236 of 542 seats, the Congress had leads in 97, signaling a dip for the ruling party from the 303 score in 2019 and a spike for the opposition party’s 52 from the last election. An election marked by acridity and acrimony could end with the treasury benches in reduced numbers and an opposition with more teeth.

In trends available till 11:45 am, the NDA was close to the 300 mark, comfortably over the magic figure of 272 with the opposition I.N.D.I.A. bloc making significant gains.

The country’s most politically significant state Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha, and the BJP’s bastion of power was poised to be the game changer, bringing the ruling NDA down from the promise of ‘400 par’ with which Election 2024 had started.

While the BJP was ahead in 36 seats, down from 62 the last time, the Samajwadi Party was tantalisingly close at 33, a far cry from the five in 2019. The Congress, which had bagged just one seat in the last election, could win eight seats this time, according to trends available on the Election Commission website.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is set to equal Jawaharlal Nehru’s record of being prime minister for a third term, was trailing behind his Congress rival Ajay Rai in Varanasi in the initial rounds but gained soon after.

His party colleague Smriti Irani was trailing behind Congress candidate and the relatively unknown Gandhi family aide Kishori Lal Sharma in Amethi by more than 39,000 votes. Among those leading from the state, where Yogi Adityanath had steered the Hindutva ship for his party, were Rahul Gandhi from Rae Bareli, Rajnath Singh from Lucknow and Akhilesh Yadav from Kannauj.

As SP chief Akhilesh Yadav kept the I.N.D.I.A. bloc morale high in Uttar Pradesh, the Trinamool Congress, another key ally of the opposition alliance, was leading in 29 seats in West Bengal, a tad higher than its 22 in 2019. The BJP, which had 18 seats in the last Lok Sabha election, was ahead in 10 seats.

In neighbouring Bihar, the BJP was ahead in 11 and its partner JD-U in 14, a vote of confidence for its leader Nitish Kumar who swung from INDIA back to the NDA ahead of the elections. The RJD was poised to win five seats.

Maharashtra, with 48 Lok Sabha seats, saw the Shiv Sena split down the middle since the last election. The BJP, which won 23 seats five years ago, was down with leads in 11 seats, while its ally Shiv Sena could get six. On the other end of the spectrum, the Congress was ahead in 11 seats, up from one, and the Shiv Sena (UBT) in 11.

In Andhra Pradesh, the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP was ahead in 16 seats of 25, the BJP in three and the YSRCP in four.

Trends for Karnataka showed potential gains for the Congress, with leads in seven seats, up from one last time. The BJP, which got 25 seats in 2019, was ahead in 19.

Deeper south in Kerala, the BJP could make its much-debated electoral entry with trends showing it could bag two seats. In parallel, the Congress, which got 15 seats last time, was ahead in 13, including in Wayanad from where Rahul Gandhi was contesting. The CPI-M had gains in one.

Tamil Nadu seemed to be scripting another story, not ceding any space to the saffron party. The ruling DMK was ahead in 20 and the Congress in eight, exactly where they were in 2019.

Assembly elections also wrote their own narrative.

In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik-led BJD was headed for an unexpected defeat, stymieing Patnaik’s bid for a record sixth term as chief minister. The BJP established early leads in at least 50 assembly seats in Odisha. The BJD nominees, on the other hand, were leading in 35 constituencies in 94 of 147 assembly seats in the state for which trends were available.

In Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party raced towards power with leads in 125 seats in the house of 175, poised to dislodge Y S Jagan Reddy’s YSRCP, which was ahead only in 21 seats.

As the results came in, showing reverses for the BJP and a score far less than it had predicted, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya said, “It is a historic day for the country in many respects. Perhaps there is no parallel in the world in any democratic country where a democratically elected leader of the nation has been consecutively elected for the third time and with an equal or bigger manner than the preceding two times.”

Congress leader Salman Khurshid added, 'I am not saying we have won, I am not saying they have lost. But this is a clear message about facts on the ground.'

According to Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut, the I.N.D.I.A. alliance had surpassed the numbers predicted by the exit polls and claimed the opposition bloc will win 295 Lok Sabha seats.

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News Network
June 7,2024

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Mangaluru: Dakshina Kannada District Congress Committee (DCC) President Harish Kumar said that there is no question of him resigning for the party’s debacle in Dakshina Kannada (DK) Lok Sabha constituency.

 “If the party high command wishes to change the DCC President and appoint a new president, then I will continue to work as a party worker. I am an honest party worker and never engaged in groupism,” he told media persons.

To a query on an online campaign asking the DCC President to tender resignation, he said resignation is not carried in pockets. I am not a student of “WhatsApp University,” but I am a Congress student. I have grown in the Congress from student leader till the DCC President. The party has given me the responsibility by looking at my service to the party,” he said.

“None had tendered resignations to the post of DCC President when the candidates were lost in the past,” he clarified.

Stating that the Congress failed to win the Lok Sabha election in DK constituency inspite of united efforts by the leaders, he said “we had worked hard for the victory of the candidate. There were no differences of opinion among the leaders in the party. All of us are responsible for the defeat. We are all with Padmaraj and will strengthen the party further to face the upcoming elections,” he said.

“Padmaraj R Poojary had owned the responsibility for his defeat. All of us are responsible for the defeat and the candidate is not alone responsible,” he said.

He said “the party had a setback even in the state by bagging only nine seats. We had expected to win atleast 14 seats. However, our vote share has increased by two per cent when compared to the Assembly elections. Even in DK, Congress has won more votes.”

Harish Kumar said that he will also own the responsibility for the defeat of the candidates in South west graduates and teachers constituency. “We had expected a victory in the teachers constituency. However, the party had failed to bridge the gap among the graduates and teachers in the district.”

To a query on District in Charge Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao failing to visit the district as one of the reasons for the party’s debacle, DCC President said that Dinesh Gundu Rao was throughout engaged in the party’s campaign in the district.

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