Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal Landed in Punjab to Launch the Party’s Election Campaign for the Lok Sabha Polls

Despite a virtual split in the leadership of its Punjab unit, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will contest all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, party leader Arvind Kejriwal announced on Sunday.

The AAP has retained two sitting lawmakers: Bhagwant Mann (Sangrur) and Sadhu Singh (Faridkot).

The AAP had won four Lok Sabha seats in Punjab in the 2014 general elections. AAP candidates in 2014 had put up a good fight in other constituencies as well. The party could not win a single Lok Sabha seat anywhere else in the country in that election.

There are 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. The Congress is in power in the state since 2017.

The AAP, which showed a lot of promise as a third alternative in Punjab against the traditional political rivals Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance, has been in a disarray in the past over two years with infighting and a virtual rebellion by its leadership.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal arrived in Punjab on Sunday to launch the party’s election campaign for the Lok Sabha polls with a rally in Barnala town.

“People want a change. They are fed up with the Modi government. The BJP will lose in the Lok Sabha elections,” Mr Kejriwal told the media in Punjab’s Sangrur, around 130 km from Chandigarh.

Mr Kejriwal met senior leaders of the AAP Punjab unit, including Member of Parliament Bhagwant Mann, leader of opposition Harpal Cheema and legislator Aman Arora.

The AAP has already announced the names of five candidates for Lok Sabha seat in October. These seats are Sangrur, Faridkot, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib.

Two AAP lawmakers from Punjab, Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Khalsa, who were suspended from the AAP in August 2015 for taking on the AAP leadership, have not been named as party candidates so far. Their suspension has also not been revoked.

Lawmakers Sukhpal Singh Khaira, HS Phoolka and Baldev Singh have quit the party. Mr Phoolka resigned as an MLA as well.

City Bus Service Strike Entered Into Its Sixth Day

Shiv Sena controls the BMC apart from being a partner in the BJP-led Maharashtra government. One of the demands of the BEST workers who are on strike since Tuesday is merger of the budgets of the BMC and the loss-making BEST.

Shiv Sena had promised merger of the budgets during the civic poll campaign in 2017.

While the strike at the city bus service BEST entered the sixth day Sunday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said his party will fulfil its promise to merge the budget of the transport undertaking with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

A Sena-affiliated union had withdrawn from the strike on the second day and its leaders had claimed a minimum of 500 buses will start playing on the roads from the next day.

But the claim fell flat on its face as barely any bus has run on Mumbai’s streets in the last seven days.

“The financial condition of the BEST has deteriorated. I had given the promise of merger of the budgets and that will be fulfilled. A solution can be found only through the talks. Even though the BEST strike issue is in the court, I am ready to be part of the discussion if necessary,” Mr Thackeray said.

He also said with the BEST facing financial troubles, unreasonable demands would create more problems.

Talking about BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta hinting at privatisation as an option, Mr Thackeray said it could not be the final solution.

“We will not let the ownership slip away from us (BMC). There could be privatisation of few buses but no final decision has been taken yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), led by Uddhav’s estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, threatened to hit the streets on Monday if the state government, BMC administration and the ruling parties failed to find a solution and end the strike.

“We support the strike and the BEST employees. Their demands are just. If those demands are not met, the MNS will launch a protest,” said MNS leader Sandip Deshpande.

It’s A “Sin” to Seek Votes in the Name of Cows, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Said1

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief visited a cow shelter in Sonipat’s village Saidpur.

“It is wrong to seek votes and play politics in the name of cows which is currently happening in the country,” Mr Kejriwal said, addressing a gathering in the village.

It is a “sin” to seek votes in the name of cows, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday even as he accused the BJP-led Haryana government of not allocating sufficient funds for cattle fodder.

“I feel, maybe I am wrong, that it is a sin to seek votes in the name of cows,” he said.

He claimed the Delhi government was running the “country’s best” cow shelter in Bawana.

“Nobody knows that the country’s best cow shelter is being run by the Delhi government,” he said.

He accused the BJP-led Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) of not releasing funds for cow fodder.

“In Delhi, the MCD is supposed to contribute Rs. 20 and the Delhi government is supposed to contribute Rs. 5 for cow (fodder) per day. But Delhi government raised it to Rs. 20 from Rs. 5 so that Rs. 40 could be contributed per cow per day,” Mr Kejriwal said.

“Now, the Delhi government is giving Rs. 20 per cow per day but the BJP-led MCD has not released funds for the last three years,” he claimed.

Mr Kejriwal also accused Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana government of not paying enough for cow fodder.

“I have come to know that the Haryana government releases Rs. 140 per cow per year. It works out to be around 40 paise for a cow per day,” he said.

“I want to say that if you seek votes in the name of cows, then you should also pay enough for their fodder,” he said.

Issue of PM Face in the Election is A Hanging Fire, Says West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Putting the hot topic of Prime Ministerial face for the 2019 elections for BSP party on the back burner, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday apprised the media about the party’s priorities.

Her comments came in the backdrop of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M K Stalin’s proposal to announce Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate.

“It could be discussed only after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, once the opposition alliance emerged winners. All (opposition) parties will meet and decide on the issue. We will accept that,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

Asked whether she was one of the contenders for the job, the Trinamool Congress supremo said, “This is not the time to discuss this issue. And I am not alone. We are working together. We are solidly together,” she said.

The TMC earlier said announcing prime ministerial candidate now would be premature would as it would divide the Opposition camp.

On reports of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) coming together for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls without the Congress, Banerjee said, “This is very good. It is local compulsion. We appreciate that.

CEC Has Zeroed In Sunil Arora as Its Next Commissioner

Ostensibly according to Law Ministry sources, Sunil Arora is deemed to be the next chief election commissioner. Albeit no official notification has been issued amid news of his name has been cleared by the Centre and sent to Rashtrapati Bhawan.

“Yes. His name has been cleared. He is the next CEC. A notification will follow,” a senior functionary said. He will take over on December 2. The Election Commission will hold the 2019 general election under him.

Besides the Lok Sabha polls, Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Maharashtra, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim are scheduled to be held next year.

A CEC of the Election Commission can have a tenure of six years or hold office till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. The convention is to appoint the senior-most election commissioner as chief election commissioner.

A former bureaucrat, Arora was appointed as election commissioner on August 31, 2017. He succeeds Om Prakash Rawat who retired on November 24.

Arora (62) had been the information and broadcasting secretary, and the secretary in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

A 1980-batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, Arora has worked in ministries such as finance, textiles and the Planning Commission.

He also served as joint secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation during 1999-2002 and the CMD, Indian Airlines, for five years — two years as additional charge and three years as full charge.

In Rajasthan, besides district postings in Dholpur, Alwar, Nagaur and Jodhpur, he was secretary to the chief minister during 1993-1998 and principal secretary to CM (2005-2008), besides handling information and public relations (IPR), Industries and Investment Departments.

Surendra Goyal Resigned from BJP over Ticket Denial

Enraged over denial of ticket in Rajasthan again a BJP minister quit the party ahead of polls. State water resources minister, Surendra Goyal on Monday, publicized his resignation letter. The minister submitted his resignation letter to state BJP chief Madan Lal Saini without stating any reason for quitting.

The five-time MLA from Jaitaran’s resignation comes a day after the BJP released its first list of 131 candidates for Rajasthan assembly, where the party repeated 85 MLAs and fielded 25 new ones. The minister was replaced by Avinash Gehlot from Jaitaran seat in Pali district and is likely to contest as an independent.

State ministers (Independent Charge) who have been renominated include Amra Ram, who has the Revenue portfolio, Art and Culture minister Krishnendra Kaur, Primary and Secondary Education minister Vasudev Devnani, and Women and Child Development minister Anita Bhadel. State minister for Gaupalan Otaram Devasi has also got the nod.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje will contest from Jhalrapatan in Jhalawar. The development comes hours after BJP’s former general secretary in Rajasthan Kuldeep Dhankhar quit the party, expressing his unhappiness over the ticket distribution. Elections to the 200-member Rajasthan assembly will be held on December 7.

Election Commission to Resolve Voter’s List Discrepancy on Spot

The brewing discrepancy between politicians and Election Commission of India has triggered the latter’s determination of resolving the discrepancies in the final voter’s list in which the number of voters has shrunk down the final number of voters by 9 lakhs.

The EROs and assistant EROs have been directed to examine all the complaints received in respect of deletion of votes and ensure that corrections are made on the spot.

“We have directed the election officials to send teams to verify the complaints related to voters’ list and rectify if anything has gone wrong,” Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat said. The officials were specifically asked to get to the root of the problem and carry out rectifications so that there was no scope for any complaints.

The Chief Election Commissioner said the total number of voters in Telangana after the publication of final rolls stood at 2.73 crore, close to 9 lakh less than 2.82 crore during the general elections of 2014.

The EC, during its verification process, had detected bogus votes, multiple entries, dead voters and electors who migrated to other places and these were deleted resulting in reduction in the number of voters.

In all, 17.68 lakh voters had been added to the electoral rolls between September 10 and October 4, marking 4.52% increase and over 5.75 lakh voters among these were in the age group of 18 to 19 indicating the enthusiastic response to the commission’s call for enrolment as new voters. At the same time, the elector population ratio had improved from 674 in the draft electoral roll published on September 1 to 719 in the final roll published on October 12.

In addition, the commission noticed that large number of electors, particularly in urban slums, shared spaces that had only one house number and there were cases where old houses were demolished and new apartments were constructed. “It is not unusual to have hundreds of electors in the same apartment complex,” the EC said in its note.

The ERO Net software deployed by the Election Commission posed some problems in uploading the data of the electors and the EC had deployed a team of engineers from the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing to give hand-holding to the officials concerned to address these technical issues. “We are in a transition phase and efforts have been made to see that these issues are resolved,” he said.

Will Collegium Recruit Election Commissioners?

The plea seeking collegium like selection process for the recruitment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs) is referred to a 5- judge constitution bench on Tuesday.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and SK Kaul considered submissions raised by lawyer Prashant Bhushan and said the issue of appointment of CEC and ECs has to be taken up by a larger constitution bench.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by one Anoop Baranwal, seeking a transparent selection process for appointment of Election Commissioners in the poll panel.

The Centre, represented by Attorney General KK Venugopal, however, opposed the petition saying so far no case of abuse of official position by the CEC had come forward and referred to names like TN Seshan and other persons who have graced the office of the CEC.

Magicians Will Run the Show for BJP in Madhya Pradesh’s Poll Rally

As per the rudimentary reports divulged by BJP’s spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal about the stratagem of the poll rally to be conducted in Madhya Pradesh.

The party would be roping in magicians to highlight the work done by it in the last 15 years and compare it with that of the previous Congress government, state BJP spokesman, Rajnish Agrawal told PTI.

“We have plans to hire magicians for campaigning and publicity,” he said, adding that magic shows would be organised at market places to reach out to voters, especially in rural and semi-urban areas.

The number of magicians to be utilised for this is yet to be decided. But, the BJP hopes to start the magic shows soon and budget allocation for these activities is also being worked out, Mr Agrawal said.

“With this art, we are going to tell people about what the BJP government has done for people, especially the weaker sections of society in Madhya Pradesh in the last 15 years,” the spokesman said.

The magic shows would also highlight the “poor condition” of roads, electricity supply and basic amenities during the 10-year Congress government headed by Digvijaya Singh between 1993 and 2003 in the state, he said.

The Madhya Pradesh assembly polls will be held on November 28 and counting of votes will take place on December 11.