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Boats, votes and booze: India’s 2019 Lok Sabha elections

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New Delhi: India will hold a general election starting in the world’s largest democratic exercise, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a second straight term.The election will held in seven phases until May 19 and votes will be counted on May 23.

Here are some facts and figures about the election in the country of 1.3 billion people.

About 900 million people are eligible to vote, nearly the combined population of Europe and Brazil, and 10 percent more than in the 2014 election.

 

About 432 million eligible voters are women. There are 15 million voters between 18 and 19 years of age.

In the first phase of the election, 1,279 candidates are contesting 91 constituencies, but only 7 percent of candidates are women. Of the 8,251 candidates in the last election, only 668 were women.

The Election Commission of India (ECI), an autonomous constitutional body, oversees the election with more than 300 full-time officials at its headquarters in New Delhi.

The fight is for 543 of the 545 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha.

The remaining two seats are reserved for the Anglo-Indian community, which traces part of its ancestry to Europeans who intermarried with Indians in the colonial era. These members are nominated by India’s president.

Modi won by 570,128 votes in Vadodara in his western home state of Gujarat in 2014, the highest winning margin of all candidates.

The commission has set up about 1 million polling stations, 10 per cent more than in 2014. No voter should be more than 2 km (1.2 miles) away from a polling station.

More than 11 million government officials will travel by foot, road, special train, helicopter, boat, and sometimes elephant, to hold the election.

Polling stations are often in remote areas. More than 80,000 stations lacked mobile connectivity and nearly 20,000 were in forest or semi-forest areas, a commission survey said last year.

A polling station in the Gir forest of western Gujarat state will be set up for just one voter, a Hindu monk.

Voting will take place over 39 days, in part to allow officials and security forces time to redeploy. Vote counting for all 543 constituencies is done in a single day.

The 2014 election cost 38.7 billion rupees (USD 552 million), according to commission estimates.

Some political parties and their supporters offer cash, drugs and liquor in exchange for votes.

The commission has seized 5.1 billion rupees (USD 73.6 million) in cash, some 21,500 kg of drugs worth 7.2 billon rupees, and 8.8 million litres of liquor valued at 1.8 billion rupees.

It seized 12 billion rupees in cash, liquor and drugs in the last election.

The commission used 1.8 million electronic voting machines in the last election.

Opposition groups say the machines can be tampered with and they want the commission to tighten its security measures to cross check votes in this election.


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National

Have many good friends in Oppn, Mamata sends personally selected kurtas: PM

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he has many “good friends” in the Opposition and added that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sends personally-selected Kurtas and sweets to him.
“I have many good friends in the Opposition. We do eat food together once or twice a year. Long time back when I was not even the Chief Minister (of Gujarat), I had gone to Parliament for some work. There Ghulam Nabi Azad and I were having a friendly conversation. When we came out media people asked, how can you be friends with Azad as you belong to RSS. Ghulam Nabi gave a good answer. Hum dono saath khade se, bola dekho bhai bahar jo aap log sochte ho, aisa nahi h. Shayad ek family ke roop me hum log jitne jude hue hain sabhi dal ke log, wo shayad bahar kalpana nahi kar sakte (While we two were standing, he said that what you people think outside, it’s not like that. Maybe the way we the people of all the organisations are connected as a family it can’t be imagined outside),” Prime Minister Modi said in an interaction with actor Akshay Kumar.
“Mamata didi saal me aaj bhi mujhe ek-do kurte wo khud select karne jati hain (Even today Mamata didi herself selects one-two Kurtas for me in the year). She sends one-two Kurtas for me. Even Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sends sweets to me three-four times in a year especially from Dhaka. When Mamata didi got to know this, then she also sends sweets for me one or two times in a year,” he added.
Interestingly, Mamata has mostly been critical about Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government and has openly opposed their various initiatives including Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation.
Mamata had accused Prime Minister Modi of causing hardships to the people through demonetisation and said the electorate in West Bengal will pay back by not casting a “single vote” for him.
“In the (2014) elections, Narendra Modi’s BJP party had won. But, in the last five years, the government has betrayed Bengal. He (Modi) is coming here and saying lies. He comes flying to Bengal at the time of elections and is nowhere to be seen in other times,” she said at a public rally.
Before that on April 4, Mamata Banerjee had even termed Prime Minister Modi as “Hitler’s uncle”.
A day before that she called Modi as “expiry babu” and said, “His government has expired. You (Modi) said in Siliguri that we did not do anything for the poor. What have you done in the last five years? I have never seen a Prime Minister telling these many lies. Do not speak lies every day.”
On April 3 itself, Prime Minister Modi had called Banerjee as “speedbreaker Didi”.

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By 2030 India will replace one of the top 3 superpowers: Rajnath

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Chatra: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that by the year 2030 India could replace any one of the three world superpowers (Russia, China and America).
“By 2030 or 2031 Bharat will replace any one of the three superpowers, either Russia, China or America from the list of top three countries of the world in terms of economy and strength,” said Rajnath Singh while addressing an election rally at Chatra in Jharkhand.
He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government has provided an immense boost to the economy of India.
“In 2014 we were at ninth place among the top 10 countries in terms of the size of the economy. After four years of governance led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in 2018 we jumped to the sixth position,” he said.
“And I say it with confidence that not in few years but in few months we will be at the fifth place,” said Rajnath.
The Home Minister also said that the Prime Minister had assured that every paise earmarked for the welfare of the people reaches the common man. “Rajiv Gandhi helplessly said that out of 100 Paise given by him only 16 Paise manages to reach the people but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has overcome this and now when 100 paise is sent, 100 paise reaches your pocket,” said Singh.
Rajnath Singh also gave an assurance of completely wiping out Naxalism. “Naxalism which was spread across 126 districts of the country is now restricted to only seven to eight districts. I assure you it will be entirely uprooted from India in the next three to four years,” he said.
Jharkhand has 14 Lok Sabha constituencies which will go for polls on April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.

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3-judges’ panel set-up to probe, first meet today

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New Delhi: Justice SA Bobde, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, was appointed to conduct an in-house inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
When contacted, Justice Bobde, who is next to the CJI in seniority, confirmed the development.
He said being the number two judge, the Chief Justice of India has appointed him to look into the allegations of sexual harassment charges levelled by a former woman staff.
Justice Bobde told PTI that he has decided to form a panel by inducting two apex court judges — N V Ramana and Indira Banerjee.
“I decided to have Justice Ramana in the panel as he is next to me in the seniority and Justice Banerjee as she is a woman judge,” Justice Bobde said. He said he has already issued notice to the woman who had written letters to the judges and sworn on affidavit about the alleged sexual harassment.
The first hearing will be conducted on Friday and the apex court secretary general has also been asked to be ready with all documents and materials.
“This is going to be an in-house procedure which does not contemplate representation of advocate on behalf of parties. It is not a formal judicial proceeding,” Justice Bobde said.
He clarified that there is no time frame to to complete the inquiry and future course of action will depend on “what comes out of the inquiry” which will be “confidential”.
A three-judge bench headed by CJI on Saturday had held an unprecedented hearing in the wake of allegations made against Justice Gogoi.
Describing the allegations of sexual harassment against him as “unbelievable”, the CJI had convened the extraordinary hearing at the Supreme Court during which he said a larger conspiracy was behind it and he would not stoop so low even to deny these allegations. Justice Gogoi had said some “bigger force” wanted to “deactivate” the office of the CJI.
After the Saturday’s hearing, some lawyers body and jurists had criticised the CJI for constituting the bench comprising him, though he had recused himself in the middle of the hearing leaving it for justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna to pass the order.

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