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CPM veteran to give Modi’s digital economy campaign a hand up

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial politician and former CPM strongman from East Midnapore, Lakshman Chandra Seth, 70, has raised eyebrows as he has jumped ship to become the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a digital and cashless economy in West Bengal.”Our PM has given a call for going cashless and I’m trying to follow it. I have got a new smart phone which I am learning to use effectively. I will take the help of my younger son who is a computer engineer to help me with mobile banking and pay for my expenses through various apps,” he told DNA.Asked about his aligning with the BJP, Seth said no party is ‘untouchable’ in today’s world and there was no such thing as Left or Right.”Parliamentary democracy has broken the wall between what was previously called the Left and Right groupings. What matters is your contribution towards addressing key issues such as development, unemployment, health, education and inflation, and helping weaker sections of the society,” he said.Seth, an MP for 13 years—from 1996 to 2009—is also alleged to have been the mastermind of the infamous Nandigram violence in March 14, 2007, which had led to the death of 14 persons in police firing.The stain has led some state BJP leaders to question his induction into the party. A senior state BJP leader on condition of anonymity said, “Seth would be a liability to the party.” However, others seem to have welcomed the veteran politician with open arms. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh and vice-president Jayprakash Majumder claim that Seth’s name had not been mentioned in the charge-sheet filed by CBI regarding the Nandigram violence.”The BJP’s network is not very strong in East Midnapore and his (Seth’s) resources could be used to make inroads in the district,” said Majumder.A look into Seth’s past shows that the veteran’s career has been marked by controversies. Reportedly expelled from CPM in 2014 for ‘anti-party activities’ he maintained that he had quit the party. “CPM has become a party of sycophants. Party leaders have an authoritarian attitude and overlook the issue of development. That is why I had quit,” he added.After severing ties with CPM, Seth tried to float his own political party—Bharat Nirman Party (BNP), in August 2014—without much success. In 2015, BNP had contested the civic elections in East Midnapore district. It fielded six candidates from Tamluk, three from Egra, and one from Contai, but managed to win in only two from Tamluk. Later in the 2016 Assembly elections BNP had pitched about 20 candidates, including 16 from East Midnapore, but failed to win any.Seth later admitted that floating BNP was not a good idea and said it would be a wiser option to join one of the two national parties—BJP and Congress—and wiser still to join the one which was in power. Predicting doom for the Congress, he said the party has lost its foundation in Bengal.

Post demonetization, litmus test for BJP as bypolls underway in Assam, Bengal, MP, Tamil Nadu today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By-elections being held in Assam, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have assumed significance as the first major ground test for the ruling BJP after demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Voting is underway for bypolls in eight assembly and four Lok Sabha constituencies. According to officials, elaborate arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the pollsAssamBypolls in Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency and Baithalanso assembly constituency in Assam will decide the electoral fate of eight contestants. An estimated 16,91,313 voters, including 8,21,199 women, are expected to cast their franchise in two seats.In Lakhimpur, the five candidates included Amiya Kumar Handique (CPI-M), Pradan Baruah (BJP), Dr Hema Hari Prasanna Pegu (Cong), Hem Kanta Miri (SUCI-Communist) and Dilip Moran (Independent). 15,11,110 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in 1954 polling stations spread across the Assembly constituencies of Majuli (ST), Naoboicha, Lakhimpur, Dhakuakhana (ST), Dhemaji (ST), Jonai (ST), Chabua, Doomdooma and Sadiya.In Baithalanso (ST) – 20 three contestants are in fray including Dr Mansing Rongpi (BJP), Ruponsing Ronghang (Cong) and Rajen Timung (Independent), the Election office said. Boithalangso (ST) Assembly constituency, in West Karbi Anglong district, comprised 1,80,203 voters, including 86819 women and 246 polling stations. Lakhimpur had earlier been represented by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal who was fielded as an MLA from Majuli in May last and winning. Boithalangso had fallen vacant with the resignation of Mansing Rongpi from Congress who joined the BJP on July 12 last. Polling will be held from 7 am to 4 pm and the election shall be completed before November 24, according to the Election Commission of India notification of October 26 last. West BengalBy-elections are underway in Cooch Behar and Tamluk Lok Sabha constituencies and in Monteswar Assembly constituency. Ruling Trinamool Congress, BJP, Left Front and Congress have fielded their candidates in all three seats. Although the Congress and CPI(M)-led Left Front had contested the Assembly polls held earlier this year, the two decided to part company in this round of by-elections.Demonetization became a key issue in the last lap of campaign for the by-polls. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not campaign for the by-polls and left it to the other leaders of her party. Apart from state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, Union minister Babul Supriyo canvassed for his party. WBPCC chief Adhir Chowdhury and CPIM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra spearheaded campaign for their party candidates. TMC MLA and party candidate from Tamluk seat Dibyendu Adhikari told PTI, “Demonetization move has affected every citizen of this country. The common man is suffering.””Demonetization has also impacted our campaign as we are unable to pay the decorators, sound organisers. In Tamluk, most of the rural areas still don’t have proper banking facilities, what will the poor farmers do?” he asked.According CPI(M) and Congress leaders, demonetization has all of a sudden come up as an issue for the polls as they are receiving feedback that people are inconvenienced due to the new decision. CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said demonetization became a prominent issue as the people faced huge problems and added that the situation was much worse in rural areas.The BJP, on the other hand, said that by-elections would be a litmus test for political parties. “What TMC, Congress and CPI(M) are saying is not right. People of Bengal are happy with the decision and will give a hands down victory to our candidates,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.”It’s not a question of black money or white money. All of a sudden if you scrap high value notes how will you meet various expenditures for the campaign,” Congress candidate from Monteswar Bulbul Ahmed Sheikh said.By-election in Cooch Behar was necessitated by the death of TMC MP Renuka Sinha while the by-election in Tamluk in East Medinipur district was caused by the resignation of TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari who also won the Assembly poll and joined the state cabinet as transport minister. The bypoll to Monteswar Assembly seat in Burdwan district is due to death of TMC MLA Sajal Panja.Madhya PradeshBy-elections are being held in Shahdol Lok Sabha constituency and Nepanagar assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh. “Total 17 candidates are in the fray for the Shahdol LS seat, while four are trying their luck for Nepanagar,” an election official said. Both the seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.Thirty companies (15 each) of armed police forces have been deployed in the two constituencies to provide security during the polling. “Over 4,000 EVMs will be used to seal the fate of the candidates. The EVMs also carry the photographs of the candidates to facilitate the voters,” the official said. In Shahdol, total 16,00,787 voters, whereas in Nepanagar, 2,30,420 people can exercise their franchise.While Congress has fielded Himadri Singh, daughter of former union minister Dalbir Singh and ex-MP Rajesh Nandini Singh, from Shahdol Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has given ticket to tribal leader Gyan Singh, a senior minister in Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cabinet from the reserved seat. The Shahdol bypoll was necessitated due to death of BJP MP Dalpat Singh Paraste. In 2014, Paraste had wrested the seat from Congress’s Rajesh Nandini Singh by a margin of over 2.14 lakh votes. The present BJP candidate Gyan Singh had earlier won the Shahdol seat twice in 1996 and 1998.In Nepanagar, Congress has reposed faith in tribal leader Antar Singh Barde, while BJP has fielded Manju Dadu, daughter of late MLA Rajendra Shyamlal Dadu, whose death caused by an accident, necessitated the by-poll to cash in on the sympathy vote. Besides these prominent names, several other candidates have also filed their nominations for the by-polls.Communist Party of India’s Parmeshwar Singh Porte, Lok Janshakti Party’s Krishna Pal Singh Pavel, Gondwana Gantantra Party’s Hirasingh Markm and Apna Dal’s Sajjan Singh Paraste, among others are in the fray for the Shahdol LS seat. Besides them, total nine persons are contesting as independent candidates in Shahdol.In Nepanagar, Republican Party of India (A) nominee Revanta and Lok Janshakti Party’ Ber Singh are also trying their luck. However, there is no independent candidate in the fray, the official said. The counting of votes will take place on November 22 and the entire poll process will be completed by November 24.Tamil NaduPolls for Thanjavur and Aravakkurichi and bypoll in Thirupparankundram and in Nellithope constituencies are being held on Saturday.In Aravakkurichi constituency, V Senthil Balaji (AIADMK) and KC Palanisamy (DMK) and in Thanjavur, Anjugham Boopathy (DMK) and M Rengasamy (AIADMK) are among the candidates. In Thirupparankundram, AIADMK has fielded A K Bose, while P Saravanan is the DMK nominee.Besides, the AIADMK and DMK candidates, PMK, BJP and DMDK and independents are also contesting the polls. PMK is not in the fray in Thirupparankundram as it did not get its mango symbol in that segment. The four-party combine, People’s Welfare Front, comprising MDMK, CPI(M), CPI and VCK, has boycotted the polls. In Nellithope assembly constituency, it will be a crucial test for Congress nominee and Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, a non- member of the house, at tomorrow’s bypoll tomorrow when he crosses swords with AIADMK candidate Om Sakthi Segar. Narayanasamy has the support of DMK and VCK while AINRC, whose founder N Narayanasamy is the leader of the opposition, is backing Segar. The bypoll is being held to fill vacancy caused by the resignation of Congress legislator A John Kumar on September 15 to facilitate Narayanasamy, a non-member of the house, to contest the poll and get elected to the assembly to fulfill the constitutional obligation. Narayanasamy became Chief Minister on June 6 and formed a six member ministry under his leadership with the support of DMK (having two members) from outside. The strength of Congress in the 30 member assembly was 15 before John Kumar quit the post of MLA.

Bengal bypolls to be held under demonetisation shadow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The upcoming by-elections in West Bengal is all set to witness demonetisation as the main issue in the polls. Bypolls are slated in two Lok Sabha seats – Cooch Behar constituency in Cooch Behar district and Tamluk in Purba Medinipur district and Monteswar assembly seat on November 19 and results will be announced on November 21.The Cooch Behar bypoll was necessitated by the death of TMC MP Renuka Sinha. The bypoll to the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat was necessitated by TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari’s resignation as MP to join the state cabinet as transport minister and the bypoll to Monteswar assembly seat was necessitated due to the death of TMC MLA Sajal Panja.According to leaders of both the ruling TMC and opposition CPI(M), Congress and BJP, demonetisation all of a sudden has come up as major issue as the common man as well as political parties have been impacted by the Centre’s decision. “This anti-people decision of demonetisation has affected every citizen of this country. The common man is suffering. Demonetisation has also impacted our campaign as we are unable to pay the decorators, sound organisers. In Tamluk, most of the rural areas still don’t have proper banking facilities, what will the poor farmers do?” TMC MLA and party candidate from Tamluk seat Dibyendu Adhikari said.According CPI(M) and Congress leaders, demonetisation has all of a sudden come up as an issue for the polls as they are receiving feedback that people are frustrated because of the new decision. “We have been campaigning on the issue of communal tensions and poor governance of the state government. But, this demonetisation has become a prominent issue as both political parties and people are opposing it. There are instances that people can’t avail healthcare or food because of this decision and the situation is much worse in rural areas,” CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said. The Congress too echoed the views of CPI(M) and TMC. BJP on the other hand said the elections will be a litmus test as the people will favour the BJP for taking such a bold step in unearthing black money. “What TMC, Congress and CPI(M) are saying is not right.People of Bengal are happy with these decision and will give a hands down victory to our candidates. It will not only be a message in favour of demonetisation, but also against the anarchy and misrule of TMC,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.Candidates of all parties accepted that campaigning has taken a hit due to the demontisation.. “It’s not a question of black money or white money. All of a sudden if you scrap high value notes how will you pay decorators, or meet other expenses for campaigning,” said Congress candidate from Monteswar Bulbul Ahmed Sheikh.Apart from the black money issue, one of the major bypoll issues would be the recent communal tensions in parts of Bengal during Durga Puja and Muharram with BJP and other opposition parties trying to milk the it for political dividends.The bypolls will also mark the end of the CPI(M)-Congress alliance in Bengal as both parties have decided to part ways and fight on their own. In the last assembly elections in May, CPI(M) and Congress had come together to contest against the ruling TMC.The alliance had failed to have much impact then as TMC bagged 211 seats with the alliance getting just 76 seats.”They didn’t even bother to inform us. Why should we go and beg before them for an alliance. We know it very well that if CPI(M) and Congress fight separately it will help TMC. Now it is for the CPI(M) to take a call as nothing can succeed unilaterally,” state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said. “We wanted to continue this alliance, but our Central Committee was against it as forging an alliance or seat adjustment, which was done in last Assembly polls, was seen as a violation of the party line adopted in the Party Congress.We will conduct joint protest, agitations with Congress if they agree, but there will be no alliance,” a senior CPI(M) Central Committee leader from Bengal said.The ruling TMC is in an advantageous position in both Tamluk and Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seats, with the first being the backyard of East Medinipur strongman Suvendu Adhikari, who had won the seat in 2014 by securing more than 53 per cent of the total votes polled.In Cooch Behar, TMC has got a shot in the arm as Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association (GCPA) has extended its support to the party despite fact that the ruling party has made it clear that it will never support the demand for a separate state that GCPA has been fighting for for the last few decades.In 2014 TMC had secured nearly 40% of the total votes polled in this seat.

No longer allies? Left Front, Congress to contest West Bengal bypolls separately

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Within six months of their poll debacle in the West Bengal Assembly elections where they fought as an alliance on seat sharing basis, the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress are all set to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly by-elections separately.Pointing out that CPI(M) has already declared its candidates for the bypolls “unilaterally”, state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on said they have sent a list of suggested candidates to the AICC for approval.”We have informed the AICC that CPI(M) has unilaterally declared its candidate list for the bypolls. Perhaps they want to fight alone. We have prepared our list of candidates and sent it to the AICC for approval. Now AICC will take the final call,” Chowdhury said.The Lok Sabha seats of Tamluk in Purba Medinipur and the Cooch Behar in Cooch Behar district along with Monteswar Assembly seat in Bardhaman would go to the polls on November 19. The Left Front had declared its candidates for the all three poll-bound constituencies last week. The bypoll to Cooch Behar and Monteswar seats necessitated following the deaths of Trinamul Congress MP Renuka Sinha and MLA Sajal Panja.The bypoll to Tamluk Lok Sabha seat was necessitated after TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari won the Nandigram Assembly seat and became a state minister.Chowdhury avoided a direct reply as to whether the decision of CPI(M) and Congress to contest the bypolls separately was an indication of an end to the Left-Congress alliance in the state. “What is (Left-Congress alliance) is not evident today, may become a possibility tomorrow. Politics is a dynamic phenomenon,” he said. Last week, Chowdhury had said the state Congress was yet to decide on contesting the bypolls.

Police constable shot dead by miscreants in Midnapore, Bengal

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