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Chhattisgarh defies Maoists, records 70 per cent turnout

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Raipur: Defying Maoist threats, Chhattisgarh voters notched up an impressive 70 per cent turnout in the first phase of Assembly polls in 18 constituencies , even though the day began with Naxal attacks to scare away voters. At least six Naxals were reportedly killed and five security personnel were injured in encounters in Bijapur and Sukma districts.

Chhattisgarh chief electoral officer (CEO) Subrat Sahu said barring stray incidents of Maoist violence, the first phase of Assembly elections in the state was “by and large peaceful”.

The 18 constituencies where voting took place in the first phase are spread across eight Naxal-hit districts — Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma, Bastar-Jagdalpur, Rajnandgaon, Kanker, Kondagaon and Narayanpur. In 2013, the Congress had won 12 seats and the BJP had bagged six. A total of 31.80 lakh voters were eligible to vote for 190 candidates in the first phase of election.

 

Despite the boycott call given by Naxals, tribals thronged the polling booths in large numbers in their respective areas to cast vote.

According to figures made available in the evening, the highest turnout of 72 per cent was recorded in Khuiji constituency while the lowest was 49 per cent in Dantewada. Kondagaon recorded 61.47 per cent, Keshkal 63.51 per cent, Kanker 62 per cent, Bastar 58 per cent, Khairagarh 70.14 per cent and Dongargarh and Dongargaon saw 71 per cent each.

Deputy election commissioner Umesh Sinha said, “Since there were queues outside several polling stations at the end of the scheduled voting time, the exact number of votes polled will be known later… It may match or surpass the 2013 figures.”

In the corresponding 18 constituencies, a turnout of 75.06 per cent was recorded in the 2013 elections, he said.

Earlier, Maoists ambushed a search party of security personnel at Pamed in Bijapur district leaving five CRPF jawans injured and triggered two improvised explosive device (IED) blasts at Tumakpak in Dantewada district to scare away voters.

Official reports said that the rebels stormed around a dozen villages in Dantewada district and held the local tribals hostage to prevent them from exercising their franchise.

Two troopers of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), a counterinsurgency with of CRPF, and three jawans of CRPF were injured when armed guerrillas ambushed a search party in Pamed in south Bastar district of Bijapur, said sources in the state intelligence bureau (SIB).

At least four Maoists were reportedly killed and some CRPF personnel suffered bullet wounds as a gun battle broke out when the troopers were on foot patrol in a forested area near Bijapur’s Majiguda village. “Four-five Naxals are reported to be dead but their bodies could not be collected due to continuous exchange of fire,” said D.M. Awasthi, special director general of police, anti-Naxal operations.

Two Maoists were killed in an encounter with District Reserve Guard (DRG) in Sukma district. “The encounter took place at 5.30 pm when DRG security parties were coming back from Chitolnar after giving cover to polling parties,” said Mr Awasthi.

Naxals triggered two IEDs at Tumakpak under Dornapal police limits in Datnewada district to scare away the tribal voters who reached local polling booths. However, there were no reports of casualty or injury to anybody in the incident.

The security forces recovered two IEDs weighing 10 kg and 5 kg from Kodkesa under Kanker district.

Earlier, malfunctioning of voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines and electronic voting machines (EVMs) were reported in several polling booths. Seventy VVPAT machines and 40 EVMs were replaced.

VVPAT machines were used for the first time in Chhattisgarh in the polls.

As many as 190 candidates are in fray in 18 Assembly seats in the first phase of election. Prominent leaders whose fates were sealed in EVMs in the first phase of polling on Monday included chief minister Raman Singh, his ministerial colleagues Kedar Kashyap and Mahesh Gagda and former Prime Minister late Atal Behari Vajapyee’s niece Karuna Shukla who has been pitted against the chief minister by Congress.

In the morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted and urged people to come out in large numbers to vote in the assembly polls.

“It’s the first phase of polling in Chhattisgarh. I request all voters to participate in the great festival of democracy with enthusiasm and come out in large numbers to vote,” Mr Modi tweeted.


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National

JD(S) will support Congress in stopping BJP from coming back to power: Deve Gowda

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New Delhi:The former prime minister said that the results of Lok Sabha poll will be declared on May 23 and a clear picture will emerge before the entire country on that day.
Former prime minister and JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda on Saturday said that his party is standing firmly with Congress and he will not like to speak more this matter. Gowda said that the results of Lok Sabha poll will be declared on May 23 and a clear picture will emerge before the entire country on that day.
“We are with Congress, I don’t want to speak anything more. On 23rd results will come, clear picture will be known to the entire country & what further development takes place,” the JD(S) chief was quoted as saying by ANI.
JD(S) Chief and Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda: We are with Congress, I don’t want to speak anything more. On 23rd results will come, clear picture will be known to the entire country & what further development takes place. pic.twitter.com/sxbgQXwV2D
The former prime minister made the remarks after offering prayers at Lord Venkateshwara temple on the occasion of his birthday. Gowda was accompanied by his family members, including Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. The JD(S) supremo stressed that since his party is the coalition partner of the Congress in Karnataka and they have contested the Lok Sabha poll in alliance, his party would support the Congress in order to keep BJP away from power.
On the news that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had called a meeting of non-NDA party leaders on May 23, Gowda remarked that he has not received any invite from Sonia Gandhi yet but he would be happy to attend the meeting. He added that by calling the meeting, Sonia Gnadhi is showing her “political maturity”.
The JD(S) chief also said that it is impossible for regional parties to form a government at the Centre without Congress’ support. He added that many leaders want to become the PM and it is necessary that different parties need a consensus over the prime minister’s name.
Meanwhile, talking to media, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswsamy said that Congress and JD(S) alliance has performed well in the Lok Sabha election and the alliance would win at least 18-19 Lok Sabha seats out of total 28 from Karnataka. He added that JD(S)’ support to Congress will continue both at state as well as national level.

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Akhilesh tears into PM Modi’s press conference, calls it last episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’ on TV

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NEW DELHI: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden press conference, saying the media interaction looked “like last episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’ of the prime minister and the only difference was it was aired on TV and not on radio.
“Development is asking have you seen the first press conference of Pradhan ji. Seems like the last episode of Mann ki Baat has been aired on TV instead of radio. Media persons did not get to ask their questions and the disciplined soldiers remained silent,” tweeted the SP chief.
Loktantrik Janata Dal party chief Sharad Yadav also hit out at PM Modi, saying the press conference was the farewell press conference of the BJP. Yadav added that the prime minister remained at the helm of affairs for five years and yet he is not able to face media.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that PM Modi’s body language at the press conference showed that he had accepted defeat in Lok Sabha poll. “Today, the whole country saw Modi ji`s body language at the press conference. The world has seen that Modi ji has accepted defeat and he presented himself in the same way in front of the media. He did not answer any question. No one can ask him a question,” tweeted Gehlot.

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110 women candidates contesting Lok Sabha election declared criminal cases, 255 are crorepatis: ADR

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Mumbai :One hundred and ten women candidates contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha election have declared criminal cases against themselves including those relating to murder and rape among other serious offences.
The data is based on a report by the National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in which the affidavits of 716 out of 724 women candidates were analysed. The affidavits of eight women candidates were not analysed due to unclear reports.
As per the report, 110 women candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves, 78 have declared serious criminal cases including cases related to rape, murder, attempt to murder, crimes against women and two are convicted criminals.
Four women candidates have declared cases related to murder (IPC Section 302) while 16 have declared cases of attempt to murder (IPC Section-307).
Fourteen women candidates have declared cases related to crimes against women – causing miscarriage without a woman’s consent (IPC Section-313), assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (IPC Section-354) and word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman (IPC Section-509).
Names of seven women candidates have come up in cases related to hate speech.
Partywise, 14 out of 54 women candidates are from Congress, 18 out of 53 are from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), two out of 24 are from Bahujan Samajwadi Party, six out of 23 are from Trinamool Congress (TMC). 22 out of 222 Independent women candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
Ten women candidates with serious criminal cases belong to the Congress party, 13 are from BJP, 2 from BSP, 4 out of 23 are from TMC and 21 are Independent women candidates.
Out of the 716 women candidates analysed, 255 are crorepatis. The average assets per women candidate contesting in the Lok Sabha election is Rs 5.63 crore.
BJP’s Hema Malini, DA Sathya Prabha from TDP and Harsimrat Kaur Badal from SAD are the three richest women candidates contesting in the Lok Sabha election.
Education details of women candidates: 232 of them have declared their educational qualification to be between 5th pass and 12th pass, 396 have declared having an educational qualification of graduate and above. 37 women candidates have declared themselves to be just literate and 26 women candidates are illiterates. Two candidates have not given their educational qualification details.
Age details of women candidates: 531 have declared their age to be between 25 and 50 years, 180 have declared their age to be between 51 and 80 years and one candidate has declared she is more than 80-years-old. While three women candidates have not disclosed their age details and one has declared her age to be below 25 years.

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