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ECI Censures Supriya Shrinate Over Kangana Post, Dilip Ghosh For Remarks On Mamata

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BJP’s Dilip Ghosh (L) and Congress’ Supriya Shrinate (R) (Image: PTI)

A copy of the warning notice has also been sent to the party chiefs for sensitising their functionaries to be careful while communicating in the public domain and refrain from any such derogatory comments and violations of MCC guidelines

The Election Commission on Monday censured BJP leader Dilip Ghosh and Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate for “derogatory remarks” against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and actor-turned-politician Kangana Ranaut, respectively.

The poll body, in its order today after receiving their replies to notices issued to them over MCC violations, said they are convinced that they made a low-level personal attack and thus violated the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct.

“They have been warned to remain careful in public utterances during the Model Code of Conduct period. Their election-related communications will be specially and additionally monitored by the Commission from this time onwards,” the ECI said in its order.

A copy of the warning notice has also been sent to the party chiefs for sensitising their functionaries to be careful while communicating in the public domain and refrain from any such derogatory comments and violations of MCC guidelines.

The Commission further stressed that it “considers the whole process of conduct of election as a major enhancer of the status of women in India and is committed not to allow any erosion of this status in any manner during the election period under its own aegis”

The poll body has sent show-cause notices to Ghosh and Shrinate on March 27 and sought their replies by March 29.

The notice to Ghosh came after Trinamool Congress (TMC) filed a complaint against BJP’s former state president and ex-national vice president for his objectionable and disrespectful comment against West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, “which was broadcasted and widely circulated by various news media channels”.

Ghosh, BJP’s Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat candidate, had mocked Banerjee’s family background. A police complaint has also been filed against the BJP leader in this regard.

The notice to Shrinate was issued after a complaint from the BJP. The Congress’ national spokesperson came under fire over a derogatory social media post against actress and BJP’s Mandi Lok Sabha candidate Kangana Ranaut.

The post had a semi-nude picture of a woman with a caption in Hindi saying, “Will someone tell what are the rates in Mandi?” The post has since been deleted.



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Balaghat Lok Sabha Election 2024: 7 Facts You Need to Know About the BJP Bastion

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Balaghat Lok Sabha constituency, located in Madhya Pradesh, is a General category parliamentary seat encompassing the entire Balaghat district and part of the Seoni district. Presently, it consists of eight Legislative Assembly segments, including Baihar (ST), Lanji, Paraswada, Balaghat, Waraseoni, Katangi in Balaghat district and Barghat (ST) and Seoni in Seoni district. Voting for Lok Sabha polls in Balaghat will take place in the first phase on April 19. The counting of votes will take place on June 4.

Key Facts About the Balaghat Seat

Even as Balaghat has been a BJP-dominated constituency since 1998, no BJP MP has served on this seat twice. Here are some interesting facts about this seat, witnessing a straight contest between the Congress and BJP:

  1. Balaghat has a total of 1,756,715 voters with a literacy rate of 66.25%. The rural population in Balaghat is 1,489,694 (84.8%) and urban population is 267,021 (15.2%).
  2. The constituency has a 92.88% Hindu population, 3.32% Buddhists, 0.3% Jains and 3.5% Muslims.
  3. In this largely rural seat, caste- based voting is a leading factor and more relevant than religious affiliations. While the ST and the SC vote is expected to split between the BJP and Congress over local issues, the Powars, a dominant OBC group in Balaghat, often termed the kingmakers in the seat, are expected to turnout in large numbers in favour of the BJP.
  4. Balaghat is known for a healthy sex ratio with 1021 women for every 1000 men. In the Assembly elections in 2023, more women turned up to vote than men.
  5. Balaghat has been a BJP bastion since 1998 but no MP has served twice. Bharti Pardhi, a relatively fresh face, has been introduced as the BJP candidate from this seat in 2024, replacing the incumbent Dhal Singh Bisen. The BJP follows a pattern of replacing the sitting MP with a new face after every term in Balaghat.
  6. Union government had in 2022 approved 28 roads in Balaghat adding 322 km of road length in the district. In 2018, four laning of Balaghat to Gondia Section of NH-543 was announced. In October, PM Modi had inaugurated it.
  7. Since 2014, there have been many railway projects undertaken by the Indian railways in Balaghat. These include gauge conversion on the Balaghat-Samnapur section, Gondia-Jabalpur route etc. The stations at Balaghat and Waraseoni have also seen upgradations. Several passenger trains have been extended to Katangi and Waraseoni stations thus helping passengers.

2019 Election Results and 2024 Candidates

Dr Dhal Singh Bisen of the BJP had won the Lok Sabha election 2019 with a total of 696,102 votes, defeating Madhu Bhagat of the Congress. He is preceded by Bodhsingh Bhagat (2014) and KD Deshmukh (2009) of the BJP.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has fielded Bharti Pardhi while the Congress has fielded Samrat Saraswat, both fresh faces.

Who Stands Where?

Here’s a look at the current political situation in Balaghat and how the major parties in the fray are placed.

Bharatiya Janata Party

The BJP scored 4 out of 8 seats in Balaghat’s assembly segments in 2023. The Congress bagged the other four including the Balaghat assembly seat.

Balaghat has been a BJP bastion since 1998 but no MP has served twice. Bharti Pardhi, a relatively fresh face, has been introduced as the BJP candidate from this seat in 2024, replacing the incumbent Dhal Singh Bisen. The BJP follows a pattern of replacing the sitting MP with a new face after every term in Balaghat. Pardhi is not particularly well-known in the constituency, but she has made significant headway as the BJP’s campaign is far ahead of the Congress.

The BJP faces growing concerns that anti-incumbency affect its fortunes in this Lok Sabha seat. The stature of MPs has never risen to a highly impactful career. Dhal Singh Bisen, the sitting MP, facing similar anti-incumbency which is why his faction has not been given a second run.

The public often raises that no substantial development has taken place in the region which remains very poorly connected with the rest of the state in terms of highways, rail and air connectivity.

The Modi Factor

While elections here are not traditionally fought on any national issues in particular, the Ram Mandir construction has made an impact on the psyche of religious Hindus in this largely Hindu seat.

Further, even as the pace of infrastructure development has disappointed the public, the face of the prime minister is very popular, especially in rural areas, owing to various welfare schemes like Awas Yojana and the The Kisan Samman Nidhi.

Congress

The Congress has also fielded a fresh face in the seat. Samrat Saraswat, the Congress’ candidate from Balaghat, is from the general category. He is the son of former MLA Ashok Saraswat. Samrat had previously expressed his desire for an MLA ticket in the assembly election. Despite making similar attempts in previous elections and presenting his case to the party’s top leaders, he had consistently faced disappointment.

Samrat’s dissatisfaction with the party has been evident on multiple occasions, especially when his ticket nominations were revoked.

This time too former Congress MLA Hina Kavre had emerged as a strong contender for the LS ticket, causing internal competition. While it was anticipated that Congress may field a female candidate, ultimately Congress awarded the ticket to Samrat.

Banking on Anti-incumbency: The Congress managed to win in four seats out of eight in this Lok Sabha constituency, which is largely owed to anti-incumbency against the BJP leadership in the state.

As similar sentiments threaten the BJP’s standing here, the Congress is expecting to cash in on the resentment which may trigger a split in Adivasi and Dalit votes.

Key Factors and Election Issues

Here’s a look at the key issues on the Balaghat seat in Lok Sabha Elections 2024:

Farmers’ issues

With an 80% rural population, people in Balaghat are heavily dependent on agriculture. However, they have been unhappy with the Government’s failure to buy the produce at MSP. Moreover, the major crop in Balaghat is paddy, which is dependent on extensive irrigation. Water supply along with electricity are another major issue, which impacts farmer’s yields every year. Farmer’s also face the issue of crop failure due to irrigation issues and crop destruction from wildlife. There are constant pleas for loan waivers as well as farmers are scared for their lands falling to the bank in case of failure to pay back due to the issues mentioned above.

Naxalism

The Naxal issue is prevalent in Balaghat, although the government has made efforts to lower its impact. According to onground reports, the Naxal ideology in the region does not hold any sway on the people and the area is used as hiding grounds by Naxalites. However, encounters between the police and Naxalites are common. The Hawk force Jawans, the unit that deals with Naxals, have not let the Naxal incidents increase. Moreover, despite such a terrible problem of Naxalites in the neighboring state (Chhattisgarh), the Naxals could not spread their wings in the state. In 2003, three major actions were taken by the Hawk Force, under the anti-Naxal campaigns being run by Madhya Pradesh Police, neutralizing 4 hardcore Naxalites including 2 female Naxalites.

Electricity

Electricity power supply, and load shedding are one of the most pressing concerns in Balaghat. Constant power cuts have been prevalent in the area for years. In summers, the temperature hovers around 35℃ on average, and constant cuts leave the people with no respite. The Chief Minister in 2022 had assured the people to fix the issue by bringing in more coal to address the issue, however, nothing much has happened yet. Irrigation is most impacted as without electricity pumps cannot function, leaving the small farmers at risk of crop failure. Another astonishing issue is the electricity bill that people in the village Khara Polbatur receive every month. All 150 households of the area depend on solar energy, but still receive an identical electricity bill every month, irrespective of load shedding and constant power cuts, this in turn has also miffed people as they are forced to pay bills for power supply that they neither get nor use.

Drinking Water

The region has a severe drinking water issue. The underground water is contaminated with high levels of fluoride which has already left much of the population with severe health conditions. Moreover, there are no government installed filtering mechanisms to provide clean, and toxin free water, nor is there a mechanism for regular water supply. People depend on private pumps and motors to fulfill their water needs.

Lack of civic infrastructure

There is a lack of basic civic infrastructure such as Schools, colleges, specialized hospitals in Balaghat. Even those present are understaffed. There is a lack of doctors, nurses and administrative staff at the hospital and a lack of teachers and professors at schools and colleges. The region lacks specialised doctors and people have to either travel to Indore, or Jabalpur to get treated for serious medical conditions, such as illnesses due to fluoride toxicity.

Emigration and Employment

A lack of development projects, skill development institutes means very less employment opportunities in the ground. According to government released data, Total registrations in MP Rojgar Yojana in 2022 was 4381 against 2 vacancies. The roof tile factories at the outskirts of Balaghat have also ceased to operate for over more than 5 years. In addition, despite the presence of manganese, and copper ore, the government has failed to set up industries for their extraction. This in turn, has led to mass emigration from Balaghat, especially the tribal youth who have left the region for capital Indore and to states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu in search of better employment opportunities. More than half of households in the region have been affected by migration.

Poor Connectivity

Balaghat is poorly connected with the rest of Madhya Pradesh, often touted to be “cut off” from the state. Highway connectivity is poor and there is an increasing demand for widening roads. While several goods trains have been introduced here, there is also a severe lack of passenger trains leading to Balaghat. In the city of Balaghat, there is a problem of traffic jams, yet little work has been done towards mitigating them, except the construction of overways which has been undertaken recently.



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Cooch Behar Lok Sabha Elections 2024: 8 Facts You Need to Know About India’s No.1 Constituency

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The Cooch Behar seat is one of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal and is located in the northern part of the state in close proximity to the famed ‘Chicken Neck’ corridor. This is a SC category seat, which means it’s reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. The constituency will vote in Lok Sabha elections in the first phase of polling on April 19 and the counting of votes will be held on June 4.

The Assembly segments that fall under this Lok Sabha constituency are Mathabhanga (currently held by BJP), Cooch Behar Uttar (BJP), Cooch Behar Dakshin (BJP), Sitalkuchi (BJP), Sitai (TMC), Dinhata (TMC) and Natabari (BJP).

Key Facts About the Cooch Behar (SC) Seat

This is the most important constituency from West Bengal going to polls in the first phase. The seat has a population of around 20 lakh. The deciding factor in this constituency is the Rajbanshi vote.

  1. As per the Election Commission of India’s list, the Cooch Behar (SC) seat is listed at No.1.
  2. The constituency witnessed large-scale political violence before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the 2021 Assembly elections and the 2023 Panchayat elections.
  3. The CISF firing incident during the Assembly polls at Sitalkuchi in 2021, which killed four youths and, subsequently, created a massive political dust-up bears testimony to the vulnerability to poll-related violence in this Bangladesh-bordering district.
  4. Once considered a fortress of the Left Front partner Forward Bloc, which won the seat for an unbroken 32 years from 1977 to 2009, Cooch Behar constituency currently remains a BJP stronghold, with five of the seven Assembly segments in its kitty despite TMC’s landslide victory in the 2021 state polls.
  5. There have been two major scuffles between TMC and BJP in Cooch Behar in a matter of two weeks. The TMC had called a 24-hour bandh after violence erupted in presence of state minister for North Bengal Development Udayan Guha and sitting MP and Union minister Nitish Pramanik. The Cooch Behar SDPO Dilip Mitra and two other TMC supporters sustained wounds. The rivalry between Guha and Pramanik has kept Cooch Behar’s Dinhata on edge since 2019.
  6. A faction of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA) headed by Bangshibadan Barman has decided to support TMC. Importantly, this is the biggest faction which has a considerable support base in North Bengal, especially among the Rajbanshi community. Barman has called on his faction’s members and their supporters to stand with the TMC in Cooch Behar.
  7. Mamata Banerjee has made many moves to woo the Rajbanshi community, including the creation of a development and welfare board for Rajbanshis, two language academies, installation of the statue of Chila Roy – a fierce fighter of Cooch Behar royal family who created the Narayani battalion – and recognition of around 200 Rajbanshi-medium schools.
  8. The BJP continues to be the dominant player in North Bengal. However, the TMC’s rising status is a threat and could cut vote share for the saffron party in the Lok Sabha elections.

2019 Election Results and 2024 Candidates

The sitting Cooch Behar (SC) MP is BJP’s Nisith Pramanik. Belonging to the Rajbanshi community, Pramanik had won this seat by a margin of more than 50,000 votes in the 2019 general elections.

The Rajbanshis here account for more than 35% of the population.

This time Pramanik is being challenged by fellow Rajbanshi, Trinamool Congress’s Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia.

Speaking to News18, Pramanik said there would be no division of the community’s vote this time. “I am a Rajbanhsi and I can proudly say the BJP has taken Rajbanshi’s to Parliament. The BJP has also made Rajbanshi Raja Ananta Maharaj a Rajya Sabha MP. Therefore, all Rajbanshi vote will go to the saffron camp. There will be no division.”

TMC candidate Basuniya, meanwhile, said Pramanik would not get the Rajbanshi votes this time. “People are not fools. They will not repeat their mistake,” he said.

Who Stands Where

Here’s a look at the current political situation in Cooch Behar and how the major parties in the fray are placed.

Trinamool Congress

The TMC appears determined to wrest this Lok Sabha seat from the BJP. The party has devised a new campaign strategy for the Lok Sabha elections in Cooch Behar. A 21-member core committee has been constituted to oversee all the party’s election activities and strategies in the constituency.

On March 31 and April 1, several parts of North Bengal were hit by a cyclonic storm that brought with it strong winds and thunderstorms. This resulted in several people suffering injuries even as material damage was seen in Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts. TMC candidate Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia along with TMC Cooch Behar president Abhijit Dey Bhowmik visited the disaster-affected areas. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee soon followed suit.

TMC is making a point to focus on North Bengal this time round. In 2021, though the party came to power with a resounding victory in the state, it lagged behind BJP and secured only 23 of the 54 Assembly seats in the region. BJP, on the other hand, secured 30 seats.

However, the TMC’s fortunes took a turn for the better in the beginning of 2022, as the party won all the civic bodies in the region. Also, the party has performed well in the rural polls and had won the Dhupguri Assembly by-poll last year.

BJP

The BJP continues to be the dominant player in North Bengal. Cooch Behar BJP had withstood the TMC juggernaut in 2021 Assembly elections too. Despite the TMC claims of subsequently gaining ground here, the fact remains that voters are increasingly more conscious about either voting for or against Narendra Modi.

The BJP has been able to get the Minority Morcha of Cooch Behar to take out a spirited rally in Dinhata in support of Nisith Pramanik. A sizable crowd of Muslims were seen holding BJP flags and chanting “Allahu Akbar”, videos of which subsequently went viral on social media.

Left and the Congress

The Left parties and Congress have each fielded their own candidates in Cooch Behar. The Congress has fielded Priya Roy Choudhury as its candidate, while the Forward Bloc has nominated Nitish Chandra Roy.

The fall of the Left in the seat has been dramatic. The constituency was once considered a fortress of the Forward Bloc, which won the seat for an unbroken 32 years. But in 2019 Lok Sabha elections its vote share fell to just 3%. For context, in 2014, Forward Bloc was runner up in the constituency with 33% vote share.

Both Congress and the Forward Bloc remain marginal players here. It’s now a direct face-off between TMC and BJP.

Key Factors and Election Issues

Poll Violence

The constituency is witnessing a high-octane campaign where violence is not particularly hard to come by. Both the TMC and BJP are accusing each other of perpetrating violence against not just party cadre, but senior leaders as well. There have been two major scuffles between TMC and BJP in Cooch Behar in a matter of two weeks.

The Rajbanshi Vote

The Cooch Behar constituency consists of 62% of the Rajbanshi population, and in 2019, a major chunk of their votes went to Nisith Pramanik. The BJP hopes to get the same response this time around, but the TMC is now focussing on ensuring that the Rajbanshi community backs it.

A faction of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA) headed by Bangshibadan Barman has decided to support TMC. Importantly, this is the biggest faction which has a considerable support base in North Bengal, especially among the Rajbanshi community.

The BJP, meanwhile, is hopeful that the other major faction of Rajbanshis could be swung in its favour by giving a Rajya Sabha seat to Ananta Maharaj. However, Maharaj has perceptively maintained distance from the BJP of late alleging “lack of importance in the party”. This has led to Pramanik approaching Ananta Maharaj and also ensuring he was present for the incumbent MP’s nomination filing.

Rohingya Muslims

Cooch Behar, by virtue of being in North Bengal, has a strong sense of unease towards Rohingya Muslims. While people have largely learnt to live with Bangladeshis, many of whom have been staying here for decades, the influx of Rohingyas remains a concern for people in North Bengal. In the 2024 elections, this could be a big factor.

Hindutva

The joy here at the inauguration of the Ram Temple in UP’s Ayodhya is palpable. Hindus say they can more strongly assert their identity here now. Coupled with BJP’s promise of NRC and its campaign against TMC’s “culture” of granting Aadhaar cards and voter IDs to illegal immigrants, the saffron party has been able to set an alternative narrative across the state, which is also visible in Cooch Behar.



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‘India Will Benefit’: PM Modi Reiterates Commitment Towards One Nation, One Poll

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PM Narendra Modi called himself ‘Bharat Maa’s son’ in a recent interview. (Image: X/ANI)

One Nation, One Election is one of the promises made by the BJP in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls 2024.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reiterated that “One Nation, One Poll ” (ONOP) was his party’s commitment. In an interview with ANI ahead of Lok Sabha Elections 2024, PM Modi said that the committee formed to prepare its report on ONOP received positive and innovative suggestions.

“One nation, One election is our commitment. We have talked about this in parliament as well. We have also formed a committee. The committee has also submitted its report. So in terms of One nation, One election, many people have come on-board in the country. Many people have given their suggestions to the committee. The committee received very positive and innovative suggestions and the country will benefit a lot if we are able to implement this report,” the Prime Minister said.

Also Read | Lok Sabha Election 2024: BJP’s Poll Manifesto Out; Big Focus On UCC Implementation, One Nation One Poll

One Nation, One Election is one of the promises made by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls 2024. The BJP, in its poll manifesto, said that a high-powered committee was set up in September 2023 to examine the issues of conducting simultaneous elections and will work towards the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee.

The committee led by former President Ram Nath Kovind submitted its 18,626 page-long report on ‘One Nation, One Poll’ to President Droupadi Murmu last month. The report revealed that of the 21,558 public responses received by the committee, more than 80 per cent (17,342) support the idea of holding simultaneous elections in India. Only 4,216 responses opposed the idea.

The recommendations of the committee say that while General Elections and State Assembly Elections can be held simultaneously, local body elections can be held within 100 days of these.

The other members of the committee are Amit Shah, Union Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Cooperation, Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, NK Singh, former Chairman, 15th Finance Commission, Dr Subhash C Kashyap, former Secretary General, Lok Sabha, Harish Salve, Senior Advocate, and Sanjay Kothari, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner. Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Law and Justice was a Special Invitee and Dr Niten Chandra was the Secretary of the HLC.

While releasing the manifesto on Sunday, PM Modi said that his government will create the “necessary infrastructure and ecosystem for strengthening good governance, digital governance and data governance in the country.”

‘Modi is Bharat’? ‘I’m Bharat Maa’s son’, Says PM Modi

PM Modi called himself “Bharat Mata’s son” during the interview, when asked if just like there was “Indira is India”, it’s “Modi is Bharat” and “Bharat is Modi” now. “Many people feel and I also feel the same that I am Bharat mata’s son,” PM Modi said.

The question came up after Modi, while responding to a question about whether Tesla chief Elon Musk is his fan, said, “Elon Musk is a supporter of Modi is one thing, but basically he is a supporter of India.”



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