General Elections 2019 – Day 69
Last phase of voting in Bengal marred by violence again
It is unfortunate that the cycle of poll violence in Bengal continues unabated. Since morning reports have come in of several instances of poll violence including crude bombs hurled, baton charge by the police, voter intimidation, and proxy voting.
BJP candidate from Jadavpur Anupam Hazra was attacked by goons, and his car windows smashed. He complained of women TMC supporters with covered faces casting proxy votes at booth number 150/137. According to him, the BJP Mandal president’s car was also attacked, and windows smashed. He said they had to rescue three BJP polling agents from violent TMC goons who were denying them entry into the booth.
BJP’s Basirhat candidate Sayantan Basu reported protests by people as over 100 voters were denied their right to vote by TMC goons.
Reports of clashes between TMC and BJP workers came from Rajdighi area under the Mathurapur constituency. Security personnel had to resort to baton charge to control the violence. In Bhatpara, rival groups hurled crude bombs at each other.
Polling was delayed in several booths due to EVM glitches but sorted subsequently.
In the last phase, voting was carried out for nine Lok Sabha seats.
Nitish Kumar distances himself for Pragya Thakur controversy
Is Bihar CM Nitish Kumar sensing a setback in the polls? In a belated statement, he spoke publicly for the first time condemning BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur’s controversial statement praising Mahatma Gandhi’s killer, Nathuram Godse. He said action against Pragya Thakur was an internal matter for the BJP, but his party would not tolerate any such statement.
Going further, he made it clear JD(U) does not support the removal of Article 370 in J&K, nor having a uniform civil code in the country. On the Ayodhya Ram temple issue, he said his party favoured a consensus approach among stakeholders or wait for a court judgment.
Several opposition leaders were quick to take note and question why Nitish Kumar’s statement came so late and on the last day of polling. It also set off speculation of Congress reaching out to him to join the Mahagathbandhan in the post-poll scenario should BJP not bring in the adequate numbers.
Is Navjot Singh Sidhu becoming Punjab CM’s Achilles Heel?
All is certainly not well between CM Capt. Amarinder Singh and Navjyot Singh Siddhu. Ever since Siddhu has joined the Congress, he has constantly been following an independent streak and not always in consonance with his party’s line.
The recent flare-up in tensions triggered by Sidhu’s wife Navjyot Kaur Sidhu being denied the Amritsar seat. According to Capt Amarinder Singh, Amritsar seat was offered to her earlier, but she declined. Sidhu came out publicly in defence of his wife saying she was a woman of honour and would never lie.
This was evident during the Kartarpur Sahib controversy when he made that trip to Pakistan and was seen publicly hugging the Pakistan Army Chief.
In the run-up to elections, he made several statements viewed as an embarrassment to the state Congress party, including veiled attacks on the CM. Subsequently, he was asked to campaign for Congress party candidates outside the state. It hasn’t gone down too well with Sidhu.
Capt Amarinder Singh hinted at the high command taking disciplinary action against him after the polls are over.
Opposition cries foul over media publicity of PM Modi’s Kedarnath and Badrinath trip
Several channels have been giving wide coverage to the Prime Minister’s trip to Kedarnath and Badrinath, and this has not gone down well with the opposition who are claiming the coverage breaks the model code of conduct and offers an unfair advantage to the PM.
They may have a point. There is absolutely nothing wrong in the PM taking out personal time while the elections are on, but the accompanying television cameras and press corps providing excessive coverage are certainly unfair to other candidates. It may not legally break the code of conduct rules, but it is not fair play either.