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Demonetisation: Modi moves needle again, asks BJP MPs, MLAs to come cash-clean

When 282 Lok Sabha and 55 Rajya Sabha MPs of BJP assembled in Parliament House premises to attend their weekly parliamentary party meeting they were in for another surprise by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This time Modi’s “kadak chai” (strong tea) dose was meant for all his party MPs and MLAs. Party office-bearers both at the central and state level can hope to relax for a while but it’s possible that in days to come, BJP president Amit Shah may issue a similar directive as the one meant for MPs and MLAs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

All BJP parliamentarians and legislators have been asked to submit their bank account statements detailing all the transaction between 8 November to 31 December, from the day Modi addressed to the nation announcing demonetisation move till the day the deadline for depositing old currency notes ends. Modi has told them to get relevant details and submit that to Amit Shah.

As it is this is for the third time in the last two and half years the BJP MPs will give details about their accounted liquid wealth. With the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the possibility of having unaccounted cash with them is practically nil, one has been very enterprising keeping cash in smaller denomination notes.

It is mandatory for any person contesting election to submit details of his assets, cash, real estate and jewellery to the Election Commission. Ahead of 2014 parliamentary elections, they gave that detail to the EC. Second, they then had to submit an affidavit that they don’t have a foreign bank account and now for the third time, they will have to submit these details.

But there is a difference. In their submission to the EC, they just had to state their current balance, now they not just have to give a statement but also the bank account numbers and so on.

This effectively would mean that party headquarters will have all the details of their legitimate deals of these 51 days, between 8 November to 31 December. But if required the party leadership can access everything, present and past transactions, with their account number and KYC.

Party MP from Bettiah, Sanjay Jaiswal said, “The move will enhance levels of transparency and probity within the party. As it is our banking details are with the EC and is in public domain. We all will comply with Prime Minister’s idea and submit details within given time frame.”

The prime idea behind Modi’s latest move for the BJP MPs and MLAs is to take additional moral high vis-a-vis other political parties. While his political rivals are not expected to follow the suit, at least in immediate future but this will give Modi a talking point when he goes to people. In politics, public perception about a party and about an individual leader matters the most.

He wants to convey a message that he is unsparing to his own party men and women on the issue of public transparency. It comes at a time when some Congress, AAP and some other parties had been claiming that Modi had given prior intimation about demonetisation to his party men.

Not everyone in the party would be pleased with this task but since the directive comes from Modi there would be any alibi the leaders concerned.

Modi also explained proposed amendments in Income Tax Act and how the money received through taxation, penalty and other provisions would benefit poor in the country. In that context, he explained how the initiative taken from Lok Kalyan Marg, the new name of Race Course Road where the prime minister’s residence is located were actually meant for the welfare of the poor.

“The amendment is not for turning black money into white but to spend the money looted from the poor on their welfare,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said quoting the prime minister.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 16:54 IST

Tamil Nadu, Puducherry by-polls: Counting begins in assemby constituencies

Chennai: Amid tight security, counting of votes for three assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu and a lone seat in neighbouring Puduchery that went to polls on 19 November began on Tuesday at designated counting centres.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Postal votes are being taken up first for counting wherever available and it will be soon be followed by counting of EVM votes. While trends are expected to be in place in about an hour, the results will be out later in the day.

In Aravakurichi, the counting of votes is being held at M Kumarasamy College of Engineering, Karur.

In Thanjavur, the counting is on at Kundavai Nachiaar Government Arts College for Women.

For Thirupparankundram Assembly segment, the counting of votes is on at Madurai Medical College premises.

Rangasamy (AIADMK) and DMK’s Anjugam Bhoopathy are the main contenders in Thanjavur. AIADMK’s AK Bose is pitted against DMK’s Saravanan in Thirupparankundram while in Aravakkurichi, Senthil Balaji (AIADMK) and KC Palanisamy (DMK) are the main candidates.

Polls have been held to the three constituencies at a time when AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is recuperating in a hospital in Chennai, and her trusted lieutenant and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam led the campaign for the ruling party.

While Aravakkurichi Assembly segment will have 18 rounds of counting, Thanjavur and Thirupparankundram are set to witness 20 and 21 rounds of counting respectively.

In the Union Territory of Puducherry, votes are being counted at Bharatidasan Government College for Women where Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, a non-member of the House, is taking on AIADMK candidate Om Sakthi Segar in Nellithope constituency.

In Puducherry, the counting is set to be over in three rounds.

Each counting table has one Micro Observer, usually a Central government official apart from other staffers involved in counting.

EC had said that to ensure transparency in the counting process, copy of result of each table would be given to every counting agent by the Counting Supervisor.

In Tamil Nadu, votes are being counted across 14 tables for a given constituency spread in one hall and the entire counting process is being videographed.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 10:03 IST

Delhi court dismisses fake degree complaint against Smriti Irani, says it was filed to ‘harrass’ her

New Delhi: In a relief to Smriti Irani, a Delhi court on Tuesday dismissed a complaint against her for allegedly giving false information on her educational qualification to the Election Commission, saying it was filed to “needlessly harass” her as she was a union minister.

Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh said there was a “great delay of around 11 years” in filing the complaint as it rejected the plea to summon her as an accused. “Therefore, prayer for summoning the proposed accused (Irani) is hearby declined,” the court said while pronouncing the order.

In his complaint, freelance writer Ahmer Khan had alleged that Irani, now Textiles Minister, had deliberately given discrepant information about her educational qualifications in affidavits filed before the Election Commission in 2004, 2011 and 2014 and not given any clarification, despite concerns raised on the issue. He had urged the court to take cognisance of the offences alleged in the plea under Section 125A of the RPA and “summon the accused person, Smriti Z Irani, for trial”.

“After conducting trial hold the accused guilty, convict and sentence the accused person in accordance with law, in the interest of justice to the complainant and also the public at large”, he had prayed.

File photo of Smriti Irani. PTI

File photo of Smriti Irani. PTI

The complainant had earlier claimed in court that in her affidavit for April 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Irani had said she completed her BA in 1996 from DU(School of Correspondence), whereas in another affidavit of 11 July, 2011 to contest Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, she had said her highest educational qualification was BCom Part I from the School of Correspondence, DU. In the affidavit filed for nomination of 16 April, 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, Irani said she had completed Bachelor of Commerce Part-I from School of Open Learning, DU. A poll panel official had earlier told the court that the documents filed by Irani regarding her academic qualification while filing nominations were not traceable. However, the information on this was available on its website, he had said.

The court, while declining the prayer, said the original evidence was already lost due to passage of several years and the court needed to be “relieved of the burden of adjudicating such inconsequential claim or case”. It said the fate of the case could be foreseen as inevitable failure as original evidence was lost due to the “great delay” and the complainant may not have even bothered to file the plea if Irani was not a central minister.

“So, where the original evidence has already been lost due to passage of number of years, the secondary evidence available will probably be not able to withstand the test of judicial scrutiny, there is great great delay of around 11 years in filing of the complaint…The said delay could not be condoned as complainant is not an aggrieved person, the complaint does not appear to have been filed for vindication of majesty of justice and maintenance of law and order, the complaint appears to have been filed to needlessly harass the proposed accused,” the magistrate said.

Section 125A of RPA deals with penalty for filing false affidavit and entails a jail term of up to six months or fine or both. The court said the alleged offence under the IPC entailed a maximum punishment of three years for which the limitation for filing the complaint was three years under the CrPC.

The court had on 20 November last year allowed the complainant’s plea seeking direction to the officials of EC and DU to bring the records of Irani’s qualifications after he said he was unable to place them before the court. In pursuance to the court’s earlier direction, Delhi University had also submitted that the documents pertaining to Irani’s BA course in 1996, as purportedly mentioned by her in an affidavit filed during 2004 Lok Sabha elections, were yet to be found.

Khan had alleged that Irani had knowingly furnished misleading information about her qualifications and that a candidate, deliberately giving incorrect details, could be punished under provisions of the IPC and under section 125A of the Representation of the People Act (RPA).

Smriti Irani’s fake degree row: Court summons documents from EC

New Delhi: A city court on Thursday asked the Delhi State Election Commission to file certain records relating to Union Minister Smriti Irani’s educational qualification, filed by her while contesting 2004 general elections, on a complaint alleging she had given false information in her affidavit given to the poll panel.

Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh, who was expected to pronounce the order on whether to summon the politician as accused in the case, directed Election Commission officials to file the documents after noting that some clarifications were required in the matter.

Union Minister Smriti Irani. PTIUnion Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

Union Minister Smriti Irani. PTI

During earlier hearings of the complaint filed by freelance writer Ahmer Khan, the court was told by a poll panel official that the documents filed by Irani regarding her educational qualification while filing nominations were not traceable. However, the information on this was available on its website, he had said.

In pursuance to the court’s earlier direction, Delhi University had also submitted that the documents pertaining to Irani’s BA course in 1996, as purportedly mentioned by her in an affidavit filed during 2004 Lok Sabha elections, were yet to be found.

The court had on 20 November last year allowed the complainant’s plea seeking direction to the officials of EC and DU to bring the records of Irani’s qualifications after he said he was unable to place them before the court.

The complainant had alleged that Irani had deliberately given discrepant information about her educational qualifications in affidavits filed before the poll panel in 2004, 2011 and 2014 and not given any clarification despite concerns being raised on the issue.

Khan had alleged that Irani had knowingly furnished misleading information about her qualifications and that a candidate, deliberately giving incorrect details, could be punished under provisions of the IPC and under section 125A of the Representation of the People Act (RPA).

Section 125A of RPA deals with penalty for filing false affidavit and entails a jail term of up to six months or fine or both.

Election Commission removes district magistrate, superintendent of police in West Bengal

Kolkata: The Election Commission on Friday removed the district magistrate of South 24 Parganas and superintendent of police in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal where six-phase assembly polls are underway, an official said.

West Bengal police. Representational image. ReutersWest Bengal police. Representational image. Reuters

West Bengal police. Representational image. Reuters

“P B Salim, DM (district magistrate) of South 24 Parganas, would be replaced by A Singh and in North 24 Parganas, Annappa E will replace T Roy Chowdhury as SP (superintendent of police). They will take over with immediate effect,” an official said.

The removal follows complaints by opposition parties.

The 33 constituencies in North 24 Parganas will go to the hustings in the fourth phase on 25 April, while polls will be held in the 31 constituencies of South 24 Parganas on 30 April in the fifth phase.

West Bengal polls: EC transfers SP, 3 other officers in Birbhum

Kolkata: The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday transferred Birbhum SP Mukesh Kumar and the officers-in-charge of three police stations in the district following a review of poll preparedness in West Bengal, where Assembly elections are underway.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The move comes days after controversial Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar was removed from his post by the poll watchdog following complaints against him by the major opposition parties.

Birbhum votes in the second phase of the elections on Sunday.

Officials said the Commission decided to transfer these officers following an assessment of the poll preparedness and overall law and order situation as also representations made by the various political parties.

The Commission has ordered that Kumar will be replaced by Sabyasachi Mishra as the new Superintendent of Police in Birbhum.

The three other officers who have been transferred are the OCs of Bolpur, Mayureshwar and Labhpur police stations.

Earlier in the day, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi met the leaders of various political parties with Congress leaders lodging a complaint against the Birbhum SP during the interaction.

Trinamool Congress’s controversial Birbhum district president Anubrata Mandal is already facing the ire of the poll watchdog, which is in the process of initiating legal action against him for allegedly violating the model code of conduct.

Opposition parties have accused Mandal of intimidating voters in the area.

After EC removes Kolkata police chief, Soumen Mitra takes over his post

Kolkata: An IPS officer of the 1988 batch, Soumen Mitra on Wednesday took over as the new Police Commissioner of Kolkata after Rajeev Kumar was removed by the Election Commission from the post following complaints against him by major opposition political parties in poll-bound West Bengal.

Soumen Mitra. Twitter

Soumen Mitra. Twitter

Soon after assuming the chair of the city police chief at the Lalbazar Police Headquarters, Mitra said, “It’s a challenging time. My main job now is to get through the elections peacefully.”

Mitra was earlier working as ADG, CID in the state police. Handing over the charge to Mitra, Rajeev Kumar, an IPS officer of the 1989 batch, rushed to his new office to take over as ADG, Anti-Corruption Branch in state police. Kumar was appointed as Kolkata Police Commissioner in January this year.

With this change, Ram Phal Pawar (an IPS of the 1988 batch), who was holding the post of ADG, Anti-Corruption Branch in West Bengal, would now take over as ADG, CID in the state police.

A notification from the Home department today said the transfers were made with immediate effect and until further orders.

The BJP and Congress had recently moved the EC seeking removal of Kumar alleging that he was close to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and accused him of “snooping” on opposition leaders, bureaucrats and journalists.

The BJP had complained to the EC after an alleged failed sting operation against the party’s national secretary and former state president Rahul Sinha late last month. Two Kolkata Police personnel had allegedly tried to bribe Sinha in return for help to smuggle out cows to Bangladesh.

Sinha had alleged that it was a conspiracy by the TMC government to trap BJP leaders in the sting operation before the Assembly polls and demanded a CBI probe.

Lok Sabha paves way for Cooch Behar residents to get right to vote

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill to enable grant of voting rights to people in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal who became citizens of the country following the exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the house after a reply by Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The bill seeks to amend the Delimitation Act, 2002 and the Representation of the People Act, 1950 to empower the Election Commission to undertake limited delimitation in areas amalgamated in the Cooch Behar.

The enactment of the Constitution (One Hundredth Amendment) Act 2015 resulted in exchange of 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in Indian territory and 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladeshi territory with effect from 31 July, 2015.

The bill’s statement of objects and reasons says that persons who have opted to acquire or to retain Indian citizenship are required to be given voting rights in India.

The term of West Bengal assembly will come to end in May 2016.

IANS

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