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Kashmir Local body election: Only 1.8% of electorate cast votes in first 4 hours

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Eight municipal bodies across six districts in Kashmir valley were scheduled to go to polls in this phase of the elections.

 

Srinagar | Continuing the trend of low voter turnout, only 1.8 per cent of the electorate cast their votes in the first four hours of polling in Kashmir during the fourth and final phase of urban bodies elections on Tuesday, officials said.

In Srinagar Municipal Corporation, only 3,997 of the 2.42 lakh voters cast their votes in 24 wards so far, the officials said.

They said the turnout was better in Ganderbal where 6.2 per cent of the 8,908 voters exercised their franchise during the same period.

Polling began at 6 am amidst stringent security arrangements at 308 polling stations in the twin districts of Srinagar and Ganderbal. It would end at 4 pm.

Eight municipal bodies across six districts in Kashmir valley were scheduled to go to polls in this phase of the elections. However, out of the eight, there was a contest only in two bodies.

In the rest — Pattan in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, Pampore, Pulwama and Khrew in Pulwama district in the south, Shopian Municipal Committee in Shopian district in the south and Dooru Verinag in Anantnag district also in south Kashmir — the candidates either won unopposed or no nominations were submitted.

The officials said 151 candidates were in the fray for 36 wards of two urban local bodies for the fourth phase.

They said 12 wards were going to polls in Municipal Committee Ganderbal with a total electorate 8,491 voters where 38 candidates were in the fray and voting will take place at 12 polling stations.

For 24 wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) with a total electorate of 24,1043, 113 candidates are in the fray and 295 polling stations have been established for the purpose, the officials said.

However, repolling is also taking place at Polling Station number nine – Bachidarwaza of Makhdoom Sahab (ward number 41) – where five candidates are in the fray with a total electorate of 1260.

The officials said massive security arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls.

Municipal elections, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases.

A total of 3,372 nominations were filed for 1,145 wards. The National Conference, along with the PDP and the CPI(M), had boycotted the polls due to the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

The voter turnout in the first three phases of the civic polls in the valley was low. While 8.3 per cent of the electorate turned up to vote in the 83 wards in the first phase on October 8, the poll percentage fell to an abysmal 3.4 per cent in the second phase held on 10 October.

The third phase of polling for civic bodies in Kashmir October 13 also witnessed a low turnout of just 3.49 per cent, in line with the trend set in the first two phases.

The government had declared a holiday in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to exercise their franchise.

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Court takes cognisance of defamation plea against Shashi Tharoor for remark against PM Modi

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New Delhi | A Delhi court on Friday took cognisance of a criminal defamation complaint filed against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor for his alleged “scorpion” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal fixed December 22 for recording the statement of the complainant, Delhi BJP leader Rajeev Babbar. The complaint alleged that Tharoor, with “mala fide intention, made the statement which is not only abuse of the Hindu deity but also defamatory”.

In his complaint, Babbar said being a vice-president of the BJP’s Delhi unit, he was “identified as a worker/supporter of Narendra Modi and BJP” and that Tharoor’s statement hurt his religious sentiment.  The complaint termed the statement “intolerable abuse” and “absolute vilification” of the faith of the people.

Tharoor stoked a controversy last month while speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival, claiming that an unnamed RSS leader had compared Modi to “a scorpion sitting on a Shivling”. The complaint has been filed under sections 499 and 500 of IPC relating to defamation. If convicted, Tharoor may face a maximum punishment of two years in jail.

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Uttar Pradesh: Thakur leader Raja Bhaiya launched new political party

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Lucknow | Six-time MLA and Thakur community Raghunath Pratap Singh on Friday announced the launch of his new political party called ‘Jan Satta Party’.

Addressing the media during the launch Singh said,”I have completed 25 years in politics, have been an Independent politician and MLA, so now have decided to form a political party.” He further added that he has approached Election Commision for registration.

Popularly known by the name Raja Bhaiya, Singh is currently an MLA from Kunda in Uttar Pradesh. He was a cabinet minister of Food and Civil Supplies Department during the Samajwadi Party government. He has also served as a minister in the cabinet of Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh’s government.

According to political pundits, the formation of a new political party by Raja Bhaiya is an attempt to influence the upper caste of voters in Uttar Pradesh which will indirectly help the BJP in the upcoming elections against the possible SP-BSP alliance. Earlier a close aide of the Samajwadi party, Raja Bhaiya in the last Rajya Sabha elections voted for the BJP candidate. He clearly stated that he won’t be voting in favour of the BSP candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls due to his differences with BSP supremo Mayawati.

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Afridi’s comments on Kashmir endorsed by Pakistan citizens: Shiv Sena

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Mumbai | The Shiv Sena Friday latched on to former Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi’s remarks that his country “does not want Kashmir” and said all sane Pakistanis would endorse the view.

The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, said Pakistan’s government and military chief gave more impetus on trying to harm India than governing the country as a result of which it has to seek external financial aid even 70 years after Independence.

In a video that has gone viral, Afridi is heard saying, “I believe that Pakistan does not want Kashmir, and India too should not be given the state. Kashmir should be an independent country.” He went on add that “humanity” or “insaniyat” should be prioritised.

In a swipe at the affairs of his own country battling financial woes and sectarian strife, the Pakistani all-rounder added, “Pakistan can’t handle its four provinces”. Afridi, while speaking on the matter later, however, has blamed the Indian media for quoting him out of context. Making a U-turn, Afridi has now said that “Kashmir belongs to Pakistan”.

The Sena’s editorial Friday stated, “Pakistan has become so poor in trying to support terrorism and corruption that it now is left with only the option of selling cattle and vehicles from the Prime Minister’s residence.”  It claimed that Pakistan was on the verge of a financial breakdown and it had been relegated to begging for a bailout from countries like China, after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) turned down its aid request.

“If the country needs financial oxygen to keep its economy going, alive, how will it take care of Kashmir? Not just Afridi, every sane Pakistani will hold the same view. However, who asks the common man there?” the editorial questioned. “The government and the military chief there give more impetus on harming India than doing good for its people. Therefore, they have to beg for aid even 70 years after Independence,” it said.

The Sena further dubbed Afridi as “anti-Indian” and said he has, in the past, made derogatory statements against India. Citing examples, it said Afridi had shown a soft corner for 13 terrorists eliminated by Indian security forces, and has been repeatedly advocating Independence for Kashmir.

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