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Election Commission’s EVM ‘Challenge’ Next Month.

Sonu Kanojia

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The long-awaited EVM Challenge to establish that the Electronic Voting Machines cannot be tampered will start from June 3, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced on Saturday. But the Election Commission doesn’t expect anyone to win the challenge. The poll body came up with the challenge so as to reassure political parties that raised doubts about the machines used to conduct every Lok Sabha and state elections held after 2002.

The massive defeat of the opposition parties, especially Mayawati’s BSP, at the hands of the BJP in the recent Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, has once again brought the issue into the limelight. After Mayawati alleged that EVMs used in the UP polls were rigged by the BJP to manipulate the results, the losers found a good reason to justify their defeat.

And when AAP suffered a humiliating loss in the Delhi municipal polls, again at the hands of the BJP, its leader Arvind Kejriwal, true to his form, saw an opportunity in taking up the cause and went ballistic. He called a special session of the Delhi Assembly where its MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj gave a live demonstration of how an EVM can be hacked to display votes in favour of a particular candidate or party.

Only that the EVM was a lookalike EC machine assembled by Bharadwaj and his team.

The Election Commission was not impressed and said the machine was a different gadget designed and made to function in a tampered manner, and hence, has no relevance. ”Our EVMs are technically secured and function under an elaborate administrative and security protocol,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said.

But that did not deter Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia to claim that it was possible to hack an EVM in less than 90 seconds, and that given an opportunity 10 engineers associated with AAP will hack the EVMs of 12,000 polling booths of Delhi in just three hours.

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‘Without food security,there is no national security’: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu

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Naidu

Pune | Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said that the prime agenda of both centre and state government should be to make agriculture sustainable and profitable.

While speaking at the concluding song of the national consultation on ‘Making Agriculture Sustainable and Profitable’ under the Swarajya to Surajya series, Venakaiah Naidu said that time has come for a sharper focus on positive bias towards farmers.

“I feel that this should be at the top on the agenda of the government, at the centre, at the states – making agriculture viable and sustainable. This is concerned with the national security. Without food security there is no national security,” said Naidu.

He further added that “One of the new challenges in the agricultural sector is the problem of plenty. We have become self-sufficient in food grains. However, this has not translated into higher income for farmers. Unless agriculture is made profitable, we cannot attract more people, especially youth, to take up farming.”

Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis and former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar among others were present on the first day of the program.

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Mamata cancels first China visit as ‘political meetings at appropriate level’ not confirmed by CPC

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Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cancelled her first China visit on Friday at the last minute as political meetings at the “appropriate level” were not confirmed by the Chinese government

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief was slated to leave for China on Friday night for an eight-day visit

She was scheduled to lead a delegation to China under the exchange programme of the Government of India with the International Department of the Communist Party of China

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is at present out of the country, and Foreign Secretary V K Gokhale were informed about the cancellation of Banerjee’s visit

In a Facebook post, the chief minister said, “In March this year, the Union Minister of External Affairs had recommended to me to kindly consider leading a delegation to China in the coming months under the Exchange Programme of the Government of India with the International Department of the Communist Party of China.”

Noting that she had agreed to the proposal, Banerjee said, “I mentioned to her that since the interest of my country is involved, I wish to visit China sometime during last week of June, 2018.”

Pursuant to letters from the state chief secretary and the ambassador of India in China, a programme was chalked out and the visit was planned, She said

Till Thursday, everything was “going well”, the chief minister said, adding that unfortunately, “the political meetings at the appropriate level” could not be confirmed

“It has now been intimated by our Ambassador in China that the political meetings at the appropriate level under the Exchange Programme could not be confirmed. Therefore, the purpose of my visit with a delegation to China under the Exchange Programme is of no use,” she said.

According to sources in Beijing, the CPC did not facilitate her meeting with any senior leader other than Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC)

The international department is in-charge of conducting relations with various political parties of the world, including India, and hosts and interacts with visiting political leaders

But considering her stature in Indian politics, India had proposed a meeting with a member of the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the highest body of the party which governs the country, the sources told news agency PTI

The committee is headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also the General Secretary of the CPC

Her visit has been cancelled due to the failure of the CPC officials to understand and appreciate her stature both as chief minister and as head of the political party, the Trinamool Congress and the importance of her visit, the sources said

There was no immediate comment from the CPC on the cancellation of Banerjee’s visit

When Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited China in 2016, he had met Zhao Leji, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the CPC Central Committee Organisation Department, besides Song

Sources said Banerjee’s visit was expected to be rescheduled as both the countries have been making efforts to improve the relations following the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi providing a new direction to the bilateral ties

Banerjee said although the Indian ambassador in China tried his best to make her visit a success, the non-confirmation of the political meetings “at the last moment”, had “unfortunately compelled us to cancel the visit”

“However, I wish the continuation of the friendship of India and China in the days to come and it should strengthen further in the interest of both the countries,” she added

Banerjee was scheduled to address a high-profile meeting of CEOs of Chinese companies in Shanghai as part of efforts to scout for Chinese investment in the eastern state of West Bengal.

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J&K Governor adviser Vijay Kumar reviews security situation in Kashmir

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Retired IPS officer K Vijay Kumar, who assumed office as an adviser to Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra, today reviewed the security situation in the valley, an official spokesman said.

Immediately after assuming office as an adviser to the governor, Kumar reviewed the security situation with the top police brass during a meeting here.

The meeting was attended by Director General of Police S P Vaid, the director general of prisons, special DG and other officers.

During the meeting, detailed discussion was held on the prevailing security situation in Kashmir, the spokesman said.

Kumar stressed on close synergy between security agencies for maintaining peace.

Regarding the security in jails, he asked for better security management of prisons viz-a-viz modern gadgetry and infrastructure, the spokesman said.

He was till recently holding the post of senior security adviser to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Kumar, a 1975 batch IPS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, had earlier served in the Kashmir valley as inspector general of the Border Security Force (BSF) in 1998-2001 when the border guarding force was actively involved in the counter-militancy operations.

He also served as the director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) between 2010 and 2012, before he was appointed as a senior security advisor in MHA.

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