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Midday News

1400 HRS
21.05.2019
tHE HEADLINES,
  • Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking 100 per cent matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs during Thursday's counting.
  • Election Commission rejects allegations of finding suspicious EVMs near strong rooms in different parts of Uttar Pradesh.
  • NDA leaders to meet in New Delhi to discuss possible outcome of General Elections.
  • Apex court stays Delhi High Court order disallowing 2016 Black Money Law to book offenders with retrospective effect.
  • Nation pays homage to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary.
  • In Boxing, MC Mary Kom to begin her India Open International campaign in Assam today.

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The Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL filed by a Chennai-based group of technocrats seeking 100 per cent matching of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the counting of votes for Lok Sabha elections on Thursday. A vacation bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said a larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had already dealt with the matter and passed an order. The bench said, it cannot override the Chief Justice's order. The apex court had, earlier this month, dismissed a review plea filed by 21 Opposition leaders seeking that random matching be increased to 50 per cent.
The court had, last month, directed the Election Commission to increase the random matching from one to five polling booths per assembly segment, saying it would provide greater satisfaction not just to political parties but also to the entire electorate.

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The Election Commission has rejected reports and allegations of finding suspicious EVMs near strong rooms in different parts of Uttar Pradesh. In a statement the Commission has termed the charges as baseless and gave specific clarification related to allegations in the areas of Ghazipur, Chandauli, Domariaganj and Jhansi Lok Sabha seats. It said, in all these cases, polled EVMS and VVPATs were sealed properly in front of the political parties' candidates and also videographed. CCTV cameras are installed and  Central Security Forces are deployed. The Poll panel added that candidates are allowed to have watch on the strong rooms. Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh L. Venkateshwarlu said, all EVMs in the state are safe and under strict vigil in strong rooms. Our correspondent has filed this report:
" In Ghazipur district, BSP candidate Afzal Ansari staged a dharna at strong room center and alleged that there were attempts to change the EVMs. Administration denied the charges and allowed 5 political workers from each assembly constituency to stay at the Strong room centre after which the candidate ended their agitation. In Chandauli district, ruckus was also created by political workers of the opposition when they objected on the alleged unescorted movement of 35 EVMs. Administration clarified that these were extra EVMs which couldn’t be transported on the day of polling. CEO L. Venkateshwarlu told media persons in Lucknow that cases of Jhansi and Dumariyaganj are quite old and only unused and extra EVMs were shifted as per the requirements and there were no breach of security in string rooms. SUSHIL CHANDRA TIWARI's AIR NEWS,lucknow"

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Leaders of several opposition parties will meet the Election Commission today in New Delhi and raise the issue of tallying VVPATs with EVM figures. They are demanding tallying of VVPAT slips with EVM figures in an entire Assembly constituency in case discrepancy is found in any polling booth. Leaders from Congress,  TDP, Left Parties, BSP, NCP, TMC, RJD and Aam Aadmi Party will be part of the delegation.
Meanwhile, ahead of their meeting with the Election Commission, opposition leaders are meeting to chalk out their strategy. The meeting is being attended by Congress Leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmad Patel and Ashok Gehlot , TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, Prof Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi party, Derek O Brien of TMC, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy, NCP leader Praful Patel, RJD leader Manoj Jha, DMK leader Kanimozi, BSP Leader Satish Mishra  and AAP leader, Arvind Kejriwal.

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The Congress has said the Election Commission should ensure that there is no tampering with the EVMs. Briefing media in New Delhi, party spokesperson Rajiv Shukla said, there are reports that EVM machines are being moved illegally at several places.
"The election process in India should be above any kind of suspicion or doubt. That should be ensured by the Election Commission of India. I would urge the Election Commission to take immediate steps by which these kind of activities are stopped and they should come out with a statement clarifying the situation."

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Top leaders of National Democratic Alliance, NDA will meet over dinner today ahead of declaration of Lok Sabha poll results on Thursday. The meeting will take place in New Delhi where NDA leaders including BJP President Amit Shah will chalk out a strategy on the possible outcome of the General elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to be present besides Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) President Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray and Lok Janshakti Party head Ram Vilas Paswan.
A meeting of senior BJP leaders is also scheduled to be held at party headquarters before the dinner meeting. The two meetings are taking place in the backdrop of exit polls which have predicted a return of BJP led NDA government at the Centre.

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In Arunachal Pradesh, repolling took place at Nampe in Koloriang Assembly Constituency and Gimba in Tali Assembly seat today. Both the constituencies fall in the Arunachal West Parliamentary seat. Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Arunachal Pradesh were held simultaneously on April the 11th in a single phase.

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In Maharashtra, prominent candidates belonging to all the major political parties tried their luck in elections to 48 Lok Sabha seats. Our Mumbai correspondent has more:
"The top four political parties of Maharashtra -- the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP have together fielded just 13 women candidates,  a paltry 13.54 per cent of the total candidates’ share in the 2019 General elections. Some key women candidates are Poonam Mahajan from BJP, Supriya Sule from NCP, Priya Dutt (Congress), Urmila Matondkar (Congress) and Preetam Munde (BJP). To woo voters, the Election Commission designed posters to appeal from first-time voters to the trans-genders. It took up training modules at 600 colleges and 1,000 schools to encourage people to vote, arranged flash mob at railway stations and also held selfie contests. Various NGOs also took up initiatives with the help of campus ambassadors at the colleges to encourage first-time voters to come out and vote. SONALI GHADYALPATIL, AIR NEWS, MUMBAI"

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In Andhra Pradesh, there were 27 women  contestants in the electoral fray for 25 Lok Sabha seats. The four established parties - the TDP, YSRCP, Congress and BJP  have fielded 11 women. The newly-formed Jana Sena Party, including its allies did not field any woman in the Lok Sabha elections. A report: 
"Visakhapatnam voters have the largest variety of parties and high profile, experienced women. Veteran MP Daggubati Purandeswari, also TDP founder and former chief minister NT Rama Rao's daughter is a well-known two-term MP from the Congress. Kothapalli Geetha, the sitting MP of Araku, fought on her own Jana Jagruti Party ticket from Visakhapatnam. Ramani Kumari Pedada, the Andhra Pradesh Mahila Congress president tried her luck in the last Assembly election from Visakhapatnam West. Another important constituency has been  Aruku in Visakhapatnam District.  Lawyer Sruthi Devi, running with the Congress in the ST reserved Araku constituency against Gaddeti Madhavi, who is on a YSRCP ticket. Law graduate and Andhra Pradesh BJP spokesperson Hamsa Devineni is a first-time contestant from Anantapur. In the Tirupati (SC) constituency, Panabaka Lakshmi is a veteran parliamentarian fighting on a TDP ticket. Other than Gaddeti Madhavi in Araku, the YSRCP has fielded  two other first timers, Chinta Anuradha for the Amalapuram SC reserved seat, and Dr K. Venkata Satyavathi, a gynaecologist and social worker, for the Anakapalli seat. Dr .G.Kondala Rao,  Vijayawada"

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In Assam, preparations are on for the counting of votes on the 23rd of  this month. Assam has recorded nearly 82 percent polling in 14 Lok Sabha seats. A report:
"Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Sahu said , counting of votes will be held in 51 centres. 14 tables would be set up in each counting hall. Mr. Sahu said counting will begin at 8 in the morning, except at 14 centres where postal ballot papers will be counted first. 3 tier security arrangement would be during the counting day. Regional News Unit of All India Radio, Guwahati will broadcast a special discussion and hourly bulletin in Assamese on the counting day from 9 am. Manas Pratim Sarma, AIR NEWS, Guwahati."

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The News Services Division of All India Radio (AIR) has made elaborate arrangements for providing authentic and latest results of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in four states. For the first time, AIR, the biggest radio network of the country, will continuously broadcast special programmes on election results for 40 hours. Similarly, all 46 Regional News Units of AIR through out the country will mount special programmes and news bulletins in regional languages of their respective states.

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The Supreme Court today stayed the Delhi High Court order which had held that the 2016 black money law cannot be allowed to operate with retrospective effect from July 2015 to book and probe offenders. A vacation bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, gave the order while agreeing to hear the appeal of the Centre against the high court judgment. The bench also stayed the May 16th order of the high court, which had restrained the Income Tax department from taking any action against VVIP chopper scam accused Gautam Khaitan, against whom a black money case has been lodged. The bench issued notice to Khaitan and asked him to file his response to the government's petition within six weeks.
   

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The nation is paying homage to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 28th death anniversary today. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in a suicide bombing at  Sriperumbudur of Tamil Nadu on this day in 1991. Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his tribute to the former Prime Minister on his death anniversary. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Former President Pranab Mukherjee, former Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and other Congress leaders offered floral tributes to Rajiv Gandhi at his memorial Vir Bhumi  in the national capital. The martyrdom day of Rajiv Gandhi is  also observed as Anti-terrorism Day.

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today embarked on a two-day visit to Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek to represent India in the meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO). The meeting, which is beginning from today, will be the second that India will be attending as a full member of SCO.

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Ace Indian pugilist MC Mary Kom will begin her campaign of the Second India Open International Boxing tournament at Guwahati, Assam today. In her first competitive bout in the new 51 kg category, Mary Kom will face Nepal's Mala Rai.
Nikhat Zareen will face Anamika in the same category today. Local girl Ankushita Boro will take on Lalita in the 64 kg category. Ankit in 60 kgs and Manjeet Panghal in 75 kgs are also among those who will play their opening round bouts.

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