Ward system set to be reverted, PCMC staff stare at repeat of poll preparation exercise

The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 05-08-2022 | 10:45 pm

Ward system set to be reverted, PCMC staff stare at repeat of poll preparation exercise

Over 800 election department employees of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), who have been working to set the civic election process in motion for the last one year, are staring at a repeat of the entire exercise with the state’s new Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government decision to revert to the 2017 four-ward system. This would also mean that the municipal corporation will have to incur another round of expenditure worth Rs 50 lakh, officials said.On Wednesday, the state cabinet decided to go back to the four-ward system for civic elections across the state, setting aside the three-ward system decision taken by the previous Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray last year.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxCivic officials said that they have not received any intimation from the State Election Commission (SEC) in the regard so far. “We are awaiting further instructions from the SEC,” Assistant Municipal Commissioner Balasaheb Khandekar, who heads the PCMC’s election department, told The Indian Express on Friday.“If the four-member ward system is implemented, PCMC will have 128 corporators. In 2017, there were 32 wards or ‘prabhags’. Each of them elected four corporators.For the 2022 elections, we had demarcated 46 wards,” said Khandekar. For the three-member system, PCMC was supposed to have 139 corporators.PCMC election officials said once the SEC conveys its decision to them, they will have to get down to the exercise of demarcation of wards, preparing voters list, and organising draw of lots for reserving wards for different category of people. “As I said, we are awaiting SEC directives. As soon we get the directives, we will get down to the task,” said Khandekar.For three-member ward system, said PCMC officials, over 800 civic election department employees and officials toiled to carry out the exercise of updating the voters’ list as per the 2011 census, drawing new boundaries of wards, taking up objections and suggestions, and drawing lots for reservation. “This exercise started last year and it took us almost one year to complete it. We did not even take our weekly offs,” said Khandekar.Election officials said the PCMC has made a provision of Rs 10 crore for conducting the 2022 civic elections. “For the three-member ward system, we spent nearly Rs 50 lakh and there is a possibility that PCMC will have to spend another Rs 50 lakh for the whole exercise,” officials said. The major part of the expenditure was done of printing of voters list which cost the civic body Rs 27 lakh.[ie_content_priority_driven exkeyword=”Check, Out, Political, Pulse” link=”https://indianexpress.com/section/india/political-pulse/” hlabel=”More From Political Pulse” hlink=”https://indianexpress.com/section/india/political-pulse/” pid=”7855092″ mlabel=”Click here for more”Raising doubts over the new election system, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Yogesh Behl said, “The issue of civic elections is before the Supreme Court. In its last order, the court had asked the SEC to announce civic elections in two weeks. It is clear that the court does not want any more delay in holding the civic elections. Therefore, I don’t think the Supreme Court will approve the latest state government decision. If the decision is implemented, it would mean further delay in conducting the elections which, I am sure, the SC will not like.”

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Nitish’s break-up with BJP: Bihar is set for Mandal 2.0 politics
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 10-08-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
3 hours ago | 10-08-2022 | 07:45 pm

The latest turn of events in Bihar politics reaffirms two things. First, there are no permanent friends and foes in politics. The JD(U) and RJD fought a fierce electoral battle in the 2020 assembly elections. They will now be sharing power in the state. The BJP and JD(U) contested the 2015 assembly election against each other, became friends in 2017 and formed a coalition government. Second, Tuesday’s developments underline that ideology has very little role in Indian politics today. Ordinary voters are confused if Nitish Kumar was doing justice to his ideology when he was in alliance with the BJP earlier or if he is being true to his leanings now while forming a government in alliance with the RJD and others.These are larger questions. The more immediate question is: Will the new coalition government survive? Other questions arise as well: Can Nitish Kumar run a JD(U)-RJD coalition government when he received a mandate to run a BJP-JD(U) government? What will be the impact of this change in Bihar politics and how will the development impact national politics?The latest turn of events will certainly mean a realignment of social and political forces in Bihar. The state seems to be all set for Mandal 2.0 politics with the JD(U) and RJD aiming to mobilise OBCs and other marginalised sections of voters while the BJP would try to maximise on upper castes votes while also making inroads amongst the Dalits and OBC voters, especially the “lower” sections of the latter, with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha election. In the last few years, the BJP – riding on the popularity of Nitish Kumar in Bihar and Narendra Modi at the Centre — has been able to attract lower OBC voters and a section of the Dalits. The Bihar realignment could pose a challenge to the party in retaining this support base. The prime minister has recently appealed to the marginalised sections amongst Muslims, the Pasmanda community. However, his call is unlikely to resonate with this community in Bihar.Though the Congress is a junior partner in the alliance, being part of the ruling coalition will give it a new lease of life, not only in Bihar but in other states as well. This could boost the morale of party workers. Smaller parties like the LJP and LJNSP will have no choice but to be a part of one or the other alliance. The politics of Bihar could turn completely bipolar, at least in 2024.The BJP could lose some seats in 2024 if it contests against a united opposition. However, in the long run, this turn of events could pave the way for the expansion of the BJP’s support base in Bihar. The party could build a new leadership helping it to emerge from the shadow of Nitish Kumar.The realignment could also give a new lease of life to the JD(U), but it remains to be seen what the development means for Nitish Kumar in the long run. There were clear signs of the party being on the wane in the last few years. Its vote share has undergone a steady decline since 2019. Lokniti-CSDS surveys gave clear evidence of Nitish Kumar’s popularity during the initial years of his chief ministership. But there has been a steady decline in his appeal in the past five to seven years. The latest change may dent Kumar’s image further.The coming together of the JD(U)-RJD and Congress also sends a message to regional parties in other states. They must come together to halt the Shah-Modi duo’s victory march (Ashwamedh yajna). The recent toppling of the Maharashtra government and BJP President J P Nadda’s assertion that regional parties are on their way out has alarmed the leaders of these parties. The selective use of central forces against Opposition leaders is another cause for concern. The experiment in Bihar may, therefore. motivate the regional parties to come together before the 2024 Lok Sabha election. But the big question is: Can these parties sink their differences?Despite his political somersaults and declining credibility, Nitish Kumar may still be acceptable to leaders of some regional parties as the possible face of the Opposition for 2024. But the task is cut out for him. It is difficult to assume that leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and some others will accept Kumar as the leader of a united Opposition. In any case, there is a big “if” about opposition parties coming together in their fight against Modi.But all this does not mean that this re-alignment will have no impact on the BJP. The coming together of the JD(U) and RJD could make the Opposition more vocal and critical of the Centre’s policies. It would be better placed to mount an attack on the BJP over rising prices and growing unemployment. These critical voices may get subdued in the euphoria over nationalism – likely the BJP’s most important plank for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections given that the construction of the Ram Mandir is likely to be completed by then. In recent times, Opposition parties have raised questions on matters related to price rise and unemployment but they have failed to find resonance with the common voters on the ground.(The writer is professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and a political analyst. Views expressed are personal)

Nitish’s break-up with BJP: Bihar is set for Mandal 2.0 politics
Names of 12 lakh voters with similar photos deleted from electoral rolls of Maharashtra
Times of India | 1 day ago | 09-08-2022 | 11:59 am
Times of India
1 day ago | 09-08-2022 | 11:59 am

PUNE: At least 12 lakh voter names with similar photo entries have been deleted from the Maharashtra electoral rolls, said election officials, as part of a drive to ensure clean voter rolls. The move follows Election Commission of India’s (ECI) directive to commence deleting duplicate entries in electoral rolls, under respective state chief electoral officers. Maharashtra chief electoral officer Shrikant Deshpande on Monday told TOI that out of the 40lakh photographically similar entries in the electoral rolls, 16.45lakh were duplicate photo entries. Voter ID cards have also been corrected through elimination of demographically or photographically similar entries. The state’s total voter tally is 9crore. The removal of duplicate entries has been a major focus for the ECI as it seeks to create a comprehensive digital database of voters. After due verification, officials confirmed deletion of 12.03lakh names with similar photos from state electoral rolls. “Deletion forms (Form 7) have been collected so far for 14.02lakh such photo similar entries and we are collecting the same forms from 6.10lakh more such voters,” added Deshpande. Verifications are subsequently done at the booth level, too, and the election department does not delete any entries suo motu. Of the 40lakh names identified, 18lakh have been retained after field verification. Election officials are also carrying out the collection of Form 8 for correcting photos of 5.4lakh names after collecting photos from voters where a mismatch was found. With imminent local body elections set to use electoral data, the cleaning up of the electoral rolls is very important, emphasised officials. Under demographically similar entries, 40,158 entries were identified, out of which 20,000 were deleted, while 1,501 forms are still pending for verification, added election officials.

Names of 12 lakh voters with similar photos deleted from electoral rolls of Maharashtra
Thackeray faction seeks four weeks from EC to submit papers supporting claims
The Indian Express | 1 day ago | 09-08-2022 | 03:45 am
The Indian Express
1 day ago | 09-08-2022 | 03:45 am

The Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray on Monday sought four weeks from the Election Commission of India (EC) to submit the documents of support along with their claims and requested the poll body to not pass any orders in this regard till the Supreme Court, which is hearing the matter, passes an order.When the Eknath Shinde-led faction revolted against the party to form a government with the BJP in June, it had written to the EC seeking allocation of the party’s bow and arrow election symbol. The faction had cited the recognition granted to them in the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly.The EC had then asked the two sides to submit documents, including letters of support from the legislative and organisational wings of the party and their written statements by August 8.“Based on the observations and instructions of the apex court, we have also requested the poll body to not pass any decision on the plea of Shinde faction till the SC gives its decision,” said a senior Shiv Sena leader.During the last hearing, the apex court had told the EC that if the Thackeray faction seeks more time to submit its response to its notice on the Shinde faction’s plea, it should consider granting reasonable adjournment. The SC  had also told  Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, who was appearing for the EC, that while EC can receive affidavits etc, it should not precipitate matters till the court takes a decision on the issue of referring it to a Constitution Bench.Addressing party workers at Matoshree, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Monday urged them to focus on increasing party membership which would be crucial when the matter comes up before the EC.Yuva Sena chief and MLA Aaditya Thackeray has cancelled the third leg of Shiv Sanvad Yatra owing to ill-health.

Thackeray faction seeks four weeks from EC to submit papers supporting claims
Which Is The Real Shiv Sena? Supreme Court Hearing On August 12
India | 1 day ago | 08-08-2022 | 11:41 pm
India
1 day ago | 08-08-2022 | 11:41 pm

Mumbai: The hearing in the Supreme Court on the issue of power over Shiv Sena and disqualification of 16 rebel MLAs has been postponed. The matter will now come up for hearing on August 12. Should the matter be referred to a five-judge bench or not? Arguments in this regard will also be heard. On the last hearing four days ago, the CJI had told the counsel for the Election Commission that both the parties can give an affidavit in the Election Commission on Monday i.e. August 8. If any party demands time, the Commission shall consider it.Also Read - Maharashtra Weather: Moderate To Intense Rainfall, Gusty Winds Forecast At Isolated Places In StateDuring the hearing, Eknath Shinde said that the allegation of disqualification has been wrongly leveled against us. We are still Shiv Sainiks. On the other hand, in the Supreme Court, advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray faction, said that MLAs going to the Shinde faction can avoid disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution only if they merge the separated faction with another party. Also Read - Maharashtra Cabinet Expansion Tomorrow, Devendra Fadnavis Likely To Get Home MinistryThe Election Commission had sought evidence from both the parties that they have authority over the Shiv Sena party. These documents were to be handed over by Monday, August 8 by 1 pm. After this, the Election Commission start the hearing. The Supreme Court has also called the counsel for the Election Commission. Also Read - Gold Rate Today: Check Price of Yellow Metal on August 08 in Your City Here

Which Is The Real Shiv Sena? Supreme Court Hearing On August 12
Ayodhya list of ‘illegal colonisers’: From Mayor to 2-term BJP MLA to ex-legislator
The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 08-08-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
2 days ago | 08-08-2022 | 07:45 pm

Ayodhya city Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay, sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from the district’s Sadar constituency Ved Prakash Gupta and former party legislator from Milkipur Gorakhnath Baba are among the 40 persons named by the Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA) as “illegal colonisers” of land plots building infrastructure in such land in the temple town.Mayor Upadhyay and MLA Gupta have, however, denied the allegations and charged “foul play” in the list of land deal “offenders” released by the Authority.Upadhyay and Gupta were among more than a dozen buyers of land parcels in Ayodhya investigated by The Indian Express on December 22 last year, who included local MLAs, close relatives of bureaucrats who served in the district, and local revenue officials whose job was to authenticate land transactions.Ved Prakash GuptaThe second-term BJP MLA from Ayodhya, Ved Prakash Gupta, 74, belongs to Khurja in Bulandshahr but moved to Ayodhya several years back and set up a business there. He has been a franchised dealer of a motor manufacturing giant that makes heavy vehicles like trucks and tractors. He also has commercial properties in Ayodhya. Gupta had been associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. In Ayodhya, he held the position of the city president of the Vyapar Mandal (traders association) and later became its state president.Gupta started his political innings with the BJP but later joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) and contested his first Assembly election in 2002 as the SP nominee from the Ayodhya constituency but finished third. Sources in the BJP said that when Gupta was with the SP, he was the national president of the Samajwadi Vyapar Sabha. In 2012, he contested from the constituency on the BSP ticket but lost again.Ahead of the 2017 UP Assembly elections, Gupta joined the BJP. As the BJP candidate, he again contested from Ayodhya and finally won. Despite a perceived anti-incumbency against him, the saffron party trusted him in the 2022 Assembly polls too and gave him ticket – and he won garnering 49.04 per cent votes polled as compared to his 49.56 per cent vote share in the 2017 polls. Gupta also runs Jaipuria School in Ayodhya.Rishikesh UpadhyayThe 43-year-old BJP leader, Rishikesh Upadhyay, is Ayodhya’s first Mayor elected in December 2017. He had joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at a young age and became an active member of the Sangh in Ayodhya. Upadhyay had also been associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the RSS’ students wing. In 1995, the Sangh deputed him to the BJP, where he worked for the establishment and expansion of the party’s youth wing BJYM. In the 2017 Assembly polls, he had sought the BJP ticket for the Ayodhya seat and sources said that his name was also considered among the probables, but finally the party picked Ved Prakash Gupta who had then defected to it fold from the BSP. The saffron party however assured Upadhyay of a “respectable political position in future”. After a few months, on the suggestion of local RSS functionaries, the BJP fielded Upadhyay in the Mayoral election, which he won by securing 44,642 votes. His rival and SP nominee Gulsan Bindu, a transgender, got 41,041 votes in this poll.Upadhyay runs a post-graduate college in Ayodhya and is known as an educationist. He is also known in BJP circles for his keen interest in astrology.Gorakhnath BabaFormer BJP MLA from the Milkipur (SC-reserved) in Ayodhya district, Gorakhnath Baba, 37, started his political career with the BJP and was elected as the party MLA in the 2017 Assembly polls. In the 2022 elections, the BJP again fielded him from Milkipur but he lost against veteran SP leader Awadhesh Prasad, registering a two per cent decline in his vote share as compared to 2017.An arts graduate, Gorakhnath has been engaged in the property business, according to local BJP sources. Two days before his name appeared in the list of “illegal colonisers” released by the ADA, Gorakhnath had met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with the proposal of setting up of power sub-stations and other development projects in Milkipur.A day before the Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis as his Deputy CM on June 30, Gorakhnath had on his Twitter handle run an online poll on the reasons behind the formation of a BJP government in Maharashtra.

Ayodhya list of ‘illegal colonisers’: From Mayor to 2-term BJP MLA to ex-legislator