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Security beefed up at Kenya ahead of general elections

Analysts say the 2007 and 2008 experience was a reminder of the significance of building strong institutions of governance…reports Asian Lite News

Kenyan police has said that security has been enhanced across the country to ensure peaceful general elections slated for Tuesday.

Police spokesman Bruno Shioso on Monday said that more than 150,000 security officers from the National Police Service (NPS), Kenya Prisons Service, National Youth Service, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service, have been deployed to various parts of the country to secure the polls.

“The security officers are well resourced and in a high state of readiness to handle all forms of threats that may arise before, during, and after the general elections,” he added on the phone.

Nearly 22.1 million Kenyans will vote on Tuesday to elect the country’s fifth President, members of the National Assembly, Senators, and County governors, among others, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The east African nation is seeking to avoid all reasons that would raise doubts about the legitimacy of the Tuesday elections as it is an opportunity to put the country on political track after the post-poll violence of 2007/2008 that was caused by a disputed presidential vote tally.

Analysts say the 2007 and 2008 experience was a reminder of the significance of building strong institutions of governance, Xinhua news agency reported.

The two leading candidates are veteran Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and sitting Deputy President William Ruto.

The elections are hotly contested, with President Uhuru Kenyatta backing Odinga.

The most recent opinion polls have shown a tight race between Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja (Resolution for Unity) One Kenya Coalition, and Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) Alliance.

Shioso said the security officers are under instructions to guarantee Kenyans their safety as they go out to cast their votes and that all people go about their activities without fear of crime or harm.

The police spokesman noted that the government has resourced the service adequately, especially with additional vehicles and operational equipment, to ensure seamless and continuous operations during and after the polls.

He said the police are conducting threat and risk analysis to identify threats to national security which in turn will inform resource deployment in real-time.

Shioso said the NPS has established a national election security command center to be manned on a 24-hour basis and is fully equipped to handle election-related security challenges.

ALSO READ-Khalifa Fund offers US$ 30 million to support SMEs in Kenya

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Kenya heightens security ahead of polls

Hilary Mutyambai, inspector-general of Police, told journalists in Nairobi that a total of 150,000 officers drawn from partner securities agencies will be deployed during the elections to ensure a safe environment for all to cast their votes…reports Asian Lite News

Kenyan police has said that they have heightened security ahead of the general elections slated for Aug. 9.

Hilary Mutyambai, inspector-general of Police, told journalists in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, that a total of 150,000 officers drawn from partner securities agencies will be deployed during the elections to ensure a safe environment for all to cast their votes.

“Formed police units have also been deployed across the country to offer tactical support to general duty officers before, during and after the general elections,” Mutyambai said.

He revealed that there is a further provision for the deployment of aircraft in strategic locations to provide logistical and air support when and where required throughout the electioneering period.

The August poll is set to be tightly contested between major political alliances — Kenya Kwanza headed by Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja which is led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who is serving his final term in office has opted to support Odinga, his former rival for the top post, who is making his fifth presidential run, rather than his own deputy.

Mutyambai observed that as part of preparations for the elections, they have put in place elaborate measures and strategies to ensure that security is guaranteed throughout the electoral cycle to enable the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct free, credible and fair elections.

“To ensure proper coordination of all activities surrounding the election, Kenyan police have also established an election security secretariat,” he said.

Mutyambai observed that Kenyan police have also developed election security guidelines for use by police commanders to address gaps in operations experienced during previous elections.

“The police are aware of the need to sensitize and train officers on election security management to ensure they are acquainted with their roles and responsibility,” he said.

He added that the security agency will also lease additional vehicles and operational equipment to ensure that officers are well resourced and in a high state of readiness to handle all forms of threats that may arise before, during and after the general elections.

‘Respect for fundamental rights key’

“Civic space, public participation, fundamental freedoms and a violence-free environment are critical to foster inclusive engagement in the electoral process, and the exercise of political rights,” UN experts emphasised in a press release from the UN human rights office OHCHR, as the East African nation prepares to go to the polls on 9 August.

Political tensions during the campaign as well as hate speech by candidates and their supporters, have a dangerous potential to ignite flames of violence, said the experts.

They urged all parties to uphold the right to political participation, freedoms of assembly, opinion and expression, and to respect the role of an independent judiciary.

“All those involved in the electoral process must commit themselves to peaceful conduct prior, during and after elections. Candidates and political parties must refrain from using inflammatory language which may lead to violence and human rights abuses, particularly against women, persons with disabilities, LGBTIQ+ individuals or ethnic groups,” they said.

Kenya has a history of contested elections and political violence, marked by human rights violations, including loss of life, as well as sexual and gender-based violence, the experts noted.

In the aftermath of the 2007 ballot, more than 1,000 people were killed and 350,000 displaced in ethnic riots. Both then rival presidential candidates Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were summoned to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity. Charges were eventually dropped against Kenyatta, and Ruto’s case was dismissed.

Familiar faces

The leading candidates are former Prime Minister Raila Odinga who has been endorsed by former rival and current president, Kenyatta, and Ruto, who is the current deputy president.

Kenya’s election law requires that a presidential candidate win more than 50 percent of the vote for an outright win. This presidential election will be Kenya’s third under the constitution established in 2010.

The independent rights experts who issued the statement receive their mandates from the UN Human Rights Council, which is based in Geneva.

They operate in their individual capacity and are neither UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

ALSO READ-IMF okays $235.6 mn loan to Kenya

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TRS to drop 25% MLAs for 2023 Assembly Elections

The PK team had initially done a survey in 30 constituencies. The findings of the survey in remaining constituencies were shared by PK during the meeting with KCR…reports Asian Lite News

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) may not give tickets to some MLAs in the next year’s Assembly elections following a suggestion by election strategist Prashant Kishor based on a preliminary survey by his team.

During the two-day discussions with Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the strategist is believed to have suggested that TRS field new faces in 20-25 per cent of constituencies where the voters are said to be unhappy with the performance of sitting MLAs.

PK, as Prashant Kishor is popularly known, had detailed discussions with Chief Minister KCR during his stay at the chief minister’s official residence Pragati Bhavan on Saturday and Sunday.

They are believed to have discussed the TRS strategy for the upcoming Assembly polls. PK made certain suggestions based on a preliminary survey done by his team in all 119 constituencies.

The PK team had initially done a survey in 30 constituencies. The findings of the survey in remaining constituencies were shared by PK during the meeting with KCR.

TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao, who also had a meeting PK, did not agree that most of TRS MLAs and MPs were facing anger from their constituents. He ruled out a total revamp.

“We would definitely make amends by making minor changes if required,” he said.

PK has reportedly prepared a roadmap for TRS to achieve its goal of a hat-trick in Telangana. He told KCR that a three-cornered contest will help the ruling party as anti-establishment votes will split between the Congress and the BJP.

PK and KCR also exchanged views on how TRS can drive maximum political mileage by educating voters on BJP government at the Centre discriminating against Telangana during last eight years.

The TRS plans to take this message to every household.

TRS sources said from not fulfilling the commitments made in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014 to the refusal to procure paddy from the state, TRS will try to expose BJP before the people and thus counter the attempts by the saffron party to woo electorates with new promises.

Based on inputs given by PK, KCR is likely to give a clear message to the party cadres at the party plenary scheduled in Hyderabad on April 27 to mark 21st foundation day of the party.

At the general body meeting of the party to be attended by 3,000 leaders, KCR is likely to guide the leaders on how to bring the party back to power in the state.

The TRS chief is also likely to clear the air about TRS ‘stand towards Congress. As the meeting with PK came at a time when he is planning to join Congress party, this triggered speculations that TRS may work with Congress in the ensuing elections.

KCR is likely to reiterate that TRS will remain equi-distance with both BJP and Congress.

KCR is understood to have made this clear to PK when the latter suggested that if all non-BJP parties come on a common platform they will have a better chance of defeating the saffron party at the Centre.

The TRS chief also discussed with PK his national ambitions. He has reportedly ruled out any pre-poll alliance of the proposed front of regional parties with the Congress.

The TRS on Sunday announced that it has signed a deal with the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) founded by PK. The party, however, claimed that PK has disassociated with I-PAC.

K.T. Rama Rao said I-PAC would complement the efforts of TRS by helping the party develop outsider perspective and in reaching out to voters especially in the age group of 18-30 through digital mediums of communication.

In 2018, TRS retained power by winning 88 seats in the 119-member Assembly. The ruling party’s tally reached 100 with a dozen legislators from Congress party switching loyalties.

ALSO READ-TRS hires I-PAC ahead of polls

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TRS hires I-PAC ahead of polls

TRS Working President K.T. Rama Rao did not agree that there will be conflict of interest as PK is planning to join the Congress…reports Asian Lite News

Amid Prashant Kishor’s discussions with Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for second consecutive day on Sunday, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on Sunday confirmed that it has signed a deal with Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) founded by the election strategist.

During an interaction with a select group of journalists, TRS Working President K.T. Rama Rao confirmed that the TRS is working with I-PAC but claimed that this has nothing to do with Kishor. “PK (as Kishor is popularly known) is the founder but I don’t know who is running it. PK introduced us to I-PAC and it is working with us,” he said.

He said PK has disassociated himself from I-PAC which is working with multiple parties across the country. “It’s not just PK we had interactions with. We had multiple iterations of discussions with several others. We spoke to Sunil and others. I-PAC is what we narrowed down to.”

The TRS leader, however, was evasive on whether the agreement is only for 2023 Assembly polls or 2024 Lok Sabha elections as well as the nature of discussions they are holding with PK. “If a gentleman who is into politics, who is into advisory or helpful roles in other places, offers you some inputs, would you not take them?” he asked.

KTR, as Rama Ro is known, did not agree that there will be conflict of interest as PK is planning to join the Congress. “Has he joined Congress? Isn’t it hypothetical, right now. I don’t know whether he is joining or not,” said KTR, who is the son of KCR.

He dismissed the possibility of the TRS approaching Congress. “Why will we approach Congress. Where is Congress? Rahul Gandhi can’t win his own seat, how will he make others win. Someone who can’t win his own constituency or state, how will he win other states and the country,” he asked.

KTR, however, said the TRS will win elections on its own and I-PAC will just supplement it. “If we don’t have public support, they can’t save us. They will just supplement. PK or some outsider can’t save a sinking ship. If you are on the right path, your efforts can be augmented, majorities can improve, number of seats can improve and certain sections of the population can be connected which otherwise would not have connected.”

“All these strategists can only augment or complement your efforts. To overstress or overemphasise that I-PAC or political strategist will win you an election or PK or somebody made Mamata ji (Mamata Banerjee) or Stalin ji (M.K. Stalin) Chief Minister is exaggeration,” he added.

The TRS leader said that if his party has to come back stronger in 2023, it will have to do it on its own strengths and merits. “Anybody else is only going to augment. You are overemphasising or overstressing on extraneous factors. I-PAC is an extraneous institution which will only give inputs.”

He explained that I-PAC will help reach people in the age group of 18-30 as the party needs different mediums and different forms of communication. He pointed out that digital media has become an important platform and the TRS doesn’t want to miss out on it.

KTR was evasive to questions about the possibility of TRS working with the Congress for evolving a national alternative.

“I am not an astrologer to say what will happen six months from now,” KTR said when asked if TRS would be working with Congress for Lok Sabha elections.

He said that the TRS plenary to be held on April 27 to mark 21st foundation day of the party will decide its approach to national-level politics and its stand on national issues. The day-long plenary will also decide how to win elections in Telangana for the third time.

On anti-incumbency, KTR said that it is extremely natural. He said any government which is in power will have to go through it and it is not just confined to the TRS. He was confident that people will give a fresh mandate to the TRS on the basis of the governance it provided during the last 8-9 years and what it delivered.

He exuded confidence that KCR will re-write history to lead the TRS to third consecutive poll victory, a record in south India.

ALSO READ-KTR invites missile developer MBDA to T’gana

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Bommai gears up for polls

Greater emphasis has been given for education, health, women and child welfare, nutrition and welfare of weaker sections, he added…reports Asian Lite News

Giving clear indications of getting into the poll mode, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced on Saturday that instructions have been passed to issue work orders for all the programmes and projects announced in the 2022-23 budget before April 30.

Speaking to media persons in Savanur taluk of Haveri district, Bommai said, a committee headed by the Chief Secretary has been constituted for speedy implementation of budget programmes.

“I myself will review the progress of their implementation on a monthly basis,” he said.

Greater emphasis has been given for education, health, women and child welfare, nutrition and welfare of weaker sections, he added.

To boost the state’s economy the Budget has provided substantial grants for roads, railways, ports, airports and schemes for industrial growth, the Chief Minister said.

Greater importance has been given for the development of northern Karnataka in agriculture, irrigation and industry, industrial township and a mega dairy in Haveri. The new Milk Federation will start functioning from April 1, he added.

A special programme to distribute cows in all taluks of the district, chilly processing unit at Byadagi, maize processing unit at Hirekerur, sericulture market at Ranebennur, mango processing unit at Hanagal, setting up of Government Tool Room and Training Centre at Haveri and an Ayurvedic college at Savanur are among the major initiatives for development of the region in all sectors, Bommai said.

The state Assembly elections are likely to be held in Karnataka in May 2023.

ALSO READ-Bengaluru to evolve as major defence hub: Bommai

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Supporters believe its ‘right time’ to send Priyanka to RS

But last time when the proposal was mooted, it was turned down because of certain issues as some thought there would be two power centres in the party…reports Saiyed Moziz Imam Zaidi

Amid speculations on the exit polls, a section within the Congress is of the view that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should be sent to Parliament after her extensive campaign in Uttar Pradesh and other states to take on the Modi government in the House and outside.

The party was earlier mulling to send her to the Rajya Sabha when Ahmed Patel was alive and Chhattisgarh had two seats, but it was decided that it was not the right time in view of nepotism allegations by the BJP. Now, after Priyanka managed the hectic campaign in the state, she has emerged as a main campaigner of the party. However, if one goes by the exit polls, the results are not encouraging for her in Uttar Pradesh.

Her supporters in the party believe that this is the right time to send her to the House as the general elections are two years from now and she can take on the government.


The Rajya Sabha polls have been announced for Kerala, Punjab and other states. If the party fares well in Punjab it can send her from the state. In Kerala, the party can send one candidate and the Congress has to decide whether to give a chance to A.K. Antony again because of the age factor. There is also going to be vacancy in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh as she can be sent to the RS from either of these two states. Bhupesh Baghel has been toying with the idea of giving the seat to Priyanaka, as sources said.

But last time when the proposal was mooted, it was turned down because of certain issues as some thought there would be two power centers in the party.

In Uttar Pradesh, she addressed 167 rallies, held 42 road shows and also did virtual rallies.

Being in-charge of the party in Uttar Pradesh, she has lots of high stakes in the state and her campaign in the 2022 Assembly elections has always been in the news. Priyanka’s hard work, her energy and positivity-filled campaigns have caught the attention of the people of the state.

Congress insiders say that her slogans have made a place in the hearts of the public, and her campaigns in heavy rain, meeting people, including women working in the fields in Barabanki have gone well with the public.

ALSO READ: Priyanka hits out at politics of hate, use of religion

Priyanka also campaigned in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.

Through 42 road shows and door-to-door campaigns, Priyanka interacted with the public during the election campaign and visited states including three to Punjab, two to Uttarakhand and Goa, and a virtual rally in Manipur.

Party Leaders said during the election campaign, Priyanka was constantly seen saying in her speeches that the power in a democracy lies in the hands of the people. She called upon the people to recognise the power of their vote, and vote on the issues.

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RS Polls: Vacant seats in Kerala challenge leading political parties

Antony, who was at his home here till a few days ago, left for Delhi, and sources said he has already informed the two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, State Congress president K.Sudhakaran and other senior leaders that he is not interested for another term…reports Sanu V George

With the polls to the three Rajya Sabha seats to be held on March 31, the coming days could be a testing time for the leading political parties in Kerala — the ruling CPI-M led Left and the Congress-led opposition.

Those who are retiring include 81-year-old Congress veteran A.K. Antony, K. Somaprasad (CPI-M) and M.V. Shreyams Kumar, who leads the Loktantrik Janata Dal, an ally of the Left.

With the ruling Pinarayi Vijayan government enjoying a full majority in the 140-member Assembly, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Left Democratic Front will win two and the Congress-led opposition one.

Antony, who was at his home here till a few days ago, left for Delhi, and sources said he has already informed the two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, State Congress president K.Sudhakaran and other senior leaders that he is not interested for another term.

If Antony is not considered in accordance with his wishes, then it would be difficult for the faction-ridden Congress to decide a candidate. The claimants are many, including outgoing state party president and former Union Minister Mullapally Ramachandran and K.V. Thomas, who was deeply upset when he was not given his sitting Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat in 2019.

The other person who might be in the reckoning is Cherian Phillip, who after more than two decades after ditching the Congress party, returned last year.

Phillip was the closest aide of Antony till he left the party in 2001.

With both Ramachandran and Thomas having had a long innings in Delhi, talks have begun that it would be unfortunate if they are considered again and the name of V.T. Balram, a two-time young legislator was defeated by the present Speaker of the Kerala Assembly M.B, Rajesh, is another one who might be considered.

ALSO READ: BJP to return to power in UP, exit polls reveal

Besides these, there are other hopefuls also, who have started moving their cards.

Unlike the Congress, the ruling CPI-M has a different problem and with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reigning supreme in both the party and the government, the only thing that needs to be looked into is whether the CPI-M will take both the seats or will the second biggest ally in the Left — CPI – be given a seat.

In all likelihood, with the CPI already having Binoy Viswan in the Upper House, Vijayan will be taking both the seats and like what has been happening in the party.

Last year, Vijayan sprang a surprise when he brought in his closest aide, senior journalist and one who handled the public relation campaigns of the government — John Brittas and Sivadasan to the Rajya Sabha, much to the surprise of many.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that of the two seats, one might go to a national leader of the CPI-M and it could be top notch leaders like general secretary Sitaram Yechuri or someone of that calibre and the other one could be a female comrade, as he is not very keen to give chance to leaders like the economist-turned two-time State Finance Minister Thomas Issac, or A.K. Balan, all of whom have had long innings.

A media critic on condition of anonymity said if Antony is not going to be returned, then it could cause utter chaos in the Congress.

“But in the CPI-M, there is not going to be even a whimper of protest because of Vijayan’s dominance. The only thing to be watched out is will the CPI or even the NCP stake a claim even as outgoing member Shreyams Kumar will also make a last ditch effort to get the seat. But the CPI-M and Vijayan are determined to increase their party strength in Parliament as they want to be key players when it comes to forming a non-BJP non-Congress political front in Delhi, and hence in all probability the CPI-M will take both the seats,” said the critic.

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Punjab goes to polls

The main contest is among the ruling Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is contesting the polls in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party after breaking two-decade old ties with the BJP in 2020 over the farm laws, reports Asian Lite News

Polling across 117 Assembly constituencies began on Sunday morning in Punjab that is witnessing a multi-cornered contest with more than 2.14 crore voters exercising their franchise to decide the fate of 1,304 candidates, including 93 women and two transgenders.

The polling will be conducted till 6 pm and the counting of ballots will take place on March 10.

The main contest is among the ruling Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is contesting the polls in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party after breaking two-decade old ties with the BJP in 2020 over the farm laws.

The BJP-Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) alliance is also in the fray, besides the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, comprising Punjab farmer bodies that had taken part in the agitation against the Centre’s now repealed agricultural laws.

All the parties are banking on freebies to woo the electorates. AAP has promised Rs 1,000 for all women, while the Congress has assured Rs 1,100 per month for needy women. The SAD-BSP alliance has promised Rs 2,000 per month to all women heads of BPL families.

The youngest in the political landscape is controversial and crowd-puller candidate Sidhu Moosewala, while the eldest one is Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, 94, whose feet were touched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi owing to humility after filing his nomination papers for the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency in 2019.

Chief Electoral Officer S. Karuna Raju told the media on Saturday of 1,304 candidates — 231 are from national parties, 250 from state, 362 from unrecognised parties, and 461 independent candidates. A total of 315 contesting candidates are with criminal antecedents.

He said 24,689 polling stations and 51 auxiliary polling stations have been established at 14,684 polling station locations of which 2,013 are identified as critical and 2,952 vulnerable pockets.

There would be 1,196 model polling stations and 196 women-managed stations. There will be webcasting of all stations.

Raju said the total electorates comprised 444,721 of the age of 80 years or more, 138,116 voters with disabilities and 162 Covid-19 patients.

A total of 348,836 electors of 18-19 years age would exercise their right of franchise for the first time, while 1608 are NRI voters.

The hot seats include Amritsar (East) from where Congress state unit chief Navjot Sidhu is in the race to retain it; Patiala (Urban), the ‘royal’ bastion of Congress rebel Capt Amarinder Singh, whose fledgling PLC is contesting the polls in alliance with the BJP and SAD (Sanyukt); and Dhuri from where AAP’s chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann is trying his luck for the first time.

The other hot seat to look out for is Chief Minister Charanjit Channi’s Chamkaur Sahib, a reserved seat that he has won three consecutive times. It is currently in the news for illegal sand mining.

Channi, the chief ministerial face who was elevated after Capt Amarinder Singh’s resignation on September 18 last year, is the first Scheduled Caste Chief Minister of a state that is home to 32 per cent Scheduled Caste population, the highest in the country.

He is contesting from Bhadaur in Barnala district, a second seat, apart from Chamkaur Sahib.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, the Congress had won an absolute majority by winning 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab assembly and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years.

The AAP had emerged as the second-largest party, winning 20 seats. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) won 15 seats, while the BJP, which had a coalition government with the Akali Dal in Punjab from 2007 to 2017, secured three seats.

‘Cast vote for progressive change’

Congress chief ministerial candidate Charanjit Singh Channi on Sunday appealed to the electorates to cast their vote for a progressive change.

A confident Channi told the media that the Congress is retaining the helm with a two-third majority.

“As Punjab is going to poll today, practice your constitutional right by casting your valuable vote for a progressive change. Also, urge your family and friends to step out and vote because every single vote counts,” Channi tweeted.

Earlier, he paid obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Katalgarh Sahib in Chamkaur Sahib.

Chief Minister Channi is in the fray from Chamkaur Sahib, a reserved seat that he has won three consecutive times. It is currently in the news for illegal sand mining.

Channi, who was elevated after Capt Amarinder Singh’s resignation on September 18 last year, is the first Scheduled Caste Chief Minister of a state that is home to 32 per cent Scheduled Caste population, the highest in the country.

He is also contesting from Bhadaur in Barnala district, a second seat, apart from Chamkaur Sahib.

Political observers said that in these elections the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is seen as the alternative to the traditional parties that have dominated Punjab’s electoral space for decades.

Undeterred, SAD President Sukhbir Badal told IANS in an exclusive interview that the SAD-BSP alliance will sweep the polls and there is no question of rejoining the BJP-led NDA government. The party is determined to break Congress leader Sidhu’s arrogance. And Parkash Singh Badal is a people’s man and he’s contesting at the age of 94 is a natural corollary.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, the Congress had won an absolute majority by winning 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab assembly and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years.

The AAP had emerged as the second-largest party, winning 20 seats. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) won 15 seats, while the BJP, which had a coalition government with the Akali Dal in Punjab from 2007 to 2017, secured three seats.

ALSO READ-Countless trees thrive in the protected green memorials of Punjab

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UP records around 60% turnout in Phase 1 polls

Further, over 250 ‘Model Polling Stations’ in the theme of ‘Votes and Memories’ made the polling day colourful for the residents of Gautam Budh Nagar district…reports Asian Lite News

Phase I of the polling for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections on Thursday saw 59.87 per cent voting, according to the Election Commission of India.

“Phase I has seen 59.87 per cent polling till voting ended,” said the ECI statement said.

The 11 districts that went to polls saw a mixed turnout with Agra witnessing 60.23 per cent voting, Aligarh 60.49 per cent, Bagpat 61.25 per cent, Bulandshahr 60.57 per cent, Gautam Budh Nagar 54.38 per cent, Ghaziabad 52.43 per cent, Hapur 60.53 per cent, Mathura 62.90 per cent, Meerut 60 per cent, Muzaffarnagar 65.32 per cent and Shamli 66.14 saw per cent, the EC statistics showed.

Of the total 403 seats in UP assembly, voting for 58 seats of the phase I of the seven-phase elections is being held on Thursday. There are a total of 634 candidates in fray, 73 of them are women. As many as 2.28 crore voters (1.04 of them female) will exercise their franchise at 26,027 polling booths across 10,853 polling stations in 11 districts.

Model booths

Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Budh Nagar district, which went to the polls on Thursday in the first phase of the state Assembly elections, sought to showcase vibrant colours of democracy by setting up model booths in a bid to make people feel the essence of elections and increased turnout.

Notably, in the last few elections, the voting percentage of the Gautam Budh Nagar district has been very less. Especially, in the Noida Assembly constituency, the voter turnout has not even been 50 per cent.

To increase the voter turnout, the administration has this year taken several concrete steps such as providing facilities of a waiting area, clean drinking water, toilets and voter assistance booths at the polling stations.

Further, over 250 ‘Model Polling Stations’ in the theme of ‘Votes and Memories’ made the polling day colourful for the residents of Gautam Budh Nagar district.

The Model Polling Booths were accurately decorated to exhibit the importance of voting and make the voters celebrate the festival of democracy. From the entrance till exit at the polling centre, the voters were surprised to see the arrangements made by the district administration. Every entrance of the model polling station was decorated with balloons in the colour of the Indian national flag.

Similarly, the first time voters were given a “Thank You” card that was also made by the students and the teachers while the senior citizens were given a badge reading “I am a proud voter”.

The authorities had also put up a ‘Selfie Corner’ outside the polling station which remained the main attraction not only for the young generation but also for the elderly, who were also seen clicking their pictures. (with inputs from Ujwal Jalali/IANS)

ALSO READ-UP POLLS: 20.3 % voter turnout till 11 am

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War of words between Yogi, Kejriwal ahead of polls

He then went on to accuse the Delhi Chief Minister of “cutting electricity and water” for migrant labourers and forcing them to leave the city…reports Asian Lite News

The war of words between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal has intensified with the two leaders sharpening their claws on Twitter.

While Kejriwal said that his Uttar Pradesh counterpart was a “harsh and cruel ruler”, Yogi called the Delhi Chief Minister a “liar”.

The Twitter war on Monday night started after Kejriwal’s rebuttal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement in Parliament that Delhi and Maharashtra contributed to the spread of Covid by enabling the migrant labourers to go home after the lockdown was declared in 2020.

“This statement of Prime Minister is a blatant lie. The country hopes that the Prime Minister will be sensitive to those who have suffered the pain in the Corona period, those who have lost their loved ones. It does not suit the Prime Minister to do politics on the sufferings of the people,” the Delhi Chief Minister said in a tweet in Hindi.

His Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also tweeted to say the Prime Minister’s statement was “false”.

Responding to the claim, Yogi said: “Today’s statement of Arvind Kejriwal about respected Prime Minister is highly condemnable. Arvind Kejriwal should apologise to the entire nation.”

He quoted a couplet from Goswami Tulsidas, the author of “Ram Charitmanas”, to elucidate his point.

“Kejriwal has a knack of telling lies. When the whole country was battling a global pandemic like Corona under the leadership of the respected Prime Minister, Kejriwal showed the migrant labourers the way out of Delhi.”

He then went on to accuse the Delhi Chief Minister of “cutting electricity and water” for migrant labourers and forcing them to leave the city.

“The electricity-water connection was cut and the sleeping people were picked up and sent to the UP border by buses. Announcement was made that in Anand Vihar, buses will be available for UP-Bihar. The UP government arranged buses for the migrant labourers and brought them back safely,” Yogi further tweeted.

In a direct post, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said: “Listen Kejriwal, You forced the workers of UP to leave Delhi when the entire humanity was groaning due to the pain of Corona. Your government did an undemocratic and inhuman act like leaving even small children and women helpless on the UP border in the middle of the night. Call you a traitor or…”

Kejriwal reacted with: “You should not say anything. When bodies were floating in the rivers, you were spending crores on appreciating yourself through advertisements in Time magazine. Have not seen a harsh and cruel ruler like you.”

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