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.

AAP Implored People for Donation

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal urged the people of his party, volunteers, supporters and general public to donate money to the party as the party has gone bankrupt.

“It is for the first time in history that a party is kangaal (bankrupt) and the government is cash-rich. That is because we run on your funds. We do not depend on money from corrupt millionaires,” Kejriwal said while launching the nationwide crowd sourcing campaign, “AAP Ka Dhaan, Rashtra ka Nirmaan”, from Talkatora stadium in central Delhi.

“There are elections in the next two years. We do not have money. Party needs money. All working volunteers must contribute at least Rs 100 per month. Your family members who earn have to contribute,” the Delhi chief minister said while addressing a gathering of around 1,000 party workers from the national capital.

The fresh donation appeal comes at a time when the party’s funding has been questioned by the Election Commission over the alleged concealment of donations and money coming through the ‘hawala’ route.

The party, however, has termed the poll panel’s questions a witch-hunt by the Centre.

In the campaign, the party’s members of Parliament and MLAs, accompanied by volunteers, would be going door-to-door in their respective areas to seek donation.

Apart from online donations, people across the country can support the campaign by dialling a number that was launched at the event.

The party has invited its supporters to contribute at least Rs 100 per month. Until now, the party has been depending on random donations, which have seen a dip of late, leading to a financial crunch.

Fresh Elections or New Government; Congress to Take Advantage of Parrikar’s Failing Health

Due to the prolonged illness of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and his inability to continue his service has paved the way for the dissolution of the existing BJP led coalition government in Goa.

However, on Monday Congress leader Mr. Kavlekar along with his 15 other MLA’s grasped the opportunity and submitted a proposal in a letter to Governor Mridula Sinha’s office. In the letter “We have requested the Governor through our letter that the Assembly should not be dissolved and fresh election forced on the State. We have also asked her not to impose President’s Rule or keep the House in suspended animation. People have elected us for five years. Pushing for an election after a mere 18 months is not good for anybody,” Mr. Kavlekar said.

BJP on the other is looking for holding fresh elections in the state. Parikkar not only enabled the BJP’s growth and success in an unlikely state (think of its cultural roots and plural religious mix) but was the reason the party could form the government at all in 2017 despite losing its majority and coming second. Smaller parties and independents were willing to back the nimble-footed and resourceful BJP, while the Congress was caught napping despite being the single largest party, but on one condition: Parikkar’s return to the state from Delhi. This suited the then defence minister, who was always itching to get back home.

As Parikkar’s health remains fragile, Goa will continue to be politically turbulent. From the continuation of a government with a leader who is unwell to a change in power equations, from President’s Rule to early elections, all options are on the cards. But the decision will finally boil down as much to the machinations in Panjim as to the state of a man in a room in Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Sometimes then, leaders do determine the fate of the organisation.

BJP, JD (U) Alliance Seat Sharing Confirmed for Upcoming LS Elections in Bihar

After the ‘Mahagathbandan’ formed by Congress with other Oppositional parties, now BJP and JD (U) have formed an alliance, as a strategic approach to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, talks over which have been held at length by both parties.

Detailed discussions over the seat sharing proportion by each party is finalized and will be disclosed at the ‘right’ time as the Bihar chief Minister and National President of JD (U), Nitish Kumar said.

Senior JD(U) leaders said that as part of the arrangement, the BJP and the JD(U) will contest 16 seats each, while Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is likely to get four seats, and Union minister Upendra Khushwaha could get two seats. The remaining two will be divided between Arun Kumar and Pappu Yadav. However, an official statement was not issued by either the JD(U) or the BJP.

“The top leadership of the party has conveyed to us that JD(U) and BJP are likely to get 16 seats each. It is a respectable formula between the two parties. It is important that parties respect each other in an alliance. Nitish Kumar is an important member of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and the senior most leader of NDA in Bihar. His position should be reflected in the seat-sharing formula,” said a senior JD(U) leader based in Patna.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, JD(U) had contested the polls along with Communist Party of India (CPI). Kumar’s party won only two out of the 38 seats it had contested and lost deposits in 23 seats. The BJP, on the other hand, had won 22 out of the 40 seats in Bihar, with the NDA picking up 31 seats, which included LJP’s six and three of Khushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

However, RSLV is demanding the same number of seats as they had in 2014 elections without any comprise in the seat proportion, alleged a senior leader from the party.

ABVP Won DUSU Elections; NSUI Smells Conspiracy

Ankiv Basoya, Shakti Singh and Jyoti Choudhary, of ABVP grasped the posts of president, vice-president and joint secretary respectively in the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections.

National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) candidate Akash Choudhary has won the post of secretary.

NSUI on Thursday claimed counting of the votes deceitful as earlier in the day, the election board adjourned the counting of votes as six EVMs used for voting were found to be malfunctioning. NSUI accused ABVP of using undemocratic means to win elections.

Ankiv Basoya got 20,467 votes while his rival Sunny Chhillar from NSUI got 18,723 votes. Shakti Singh received 23,046 votes against NSUI rival Leena’s 15,373 votes.

Reports say some ruckus also broke out at the counting centre today. Police called in extra force to the spot to bring the situation under control.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has clarified that the EVMs used in the DUSU elections were not provided by them or the state election commission and were procured privately by the university.