MVA finalises seat-sharing formula; row over Congress leader’s comments on Hema Malini | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

MVA finalises seat-sharing formula; row over Congress leader’s comments on Hema Malini

Apr 10, 2024 10:03 AM IST

The Election Commission has issued a show cause notice to Randeep Singh Surjewala over his “undignified, vulgar and uncivilized” remarks on BJP MP and film star Hema Malini

For years, Maharashtra with its 48 Lok Sabha seats has been a key electoral playground for ruling parties. In both 2019 and 2014, the BJP and its ally (the undivided Shiv Sena) won 41 of those seats, making a significant contribution to the NDA’s sweeping victory in the last two parliamentary elections.

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray (middle), Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole (left) and Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)
Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray (middle), Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole (left) and Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

This time, the coalition arithmetic in Maharashtra has changed significantly. Both Sena and NCP have suffered defection and major splits. For the first time, the original Shiv Sena is not headed by a Thackeray and the rift is wide open between the state’s tallest politician Sharad Pawar and his ambitious nephew Ajit Pawar.

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MVA seals pact

After weeks of intense negotiations and uncertainty, the Maha Vikas Aghadi of Shiv Sena (UBT), the Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP and the Congress have arrived at a pact.

The three parties on Tuesday announced its seat-sharing arrangement for the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, with the Shiv Sena (UBT) contesting on 21 seats, the Congress 17 and the Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP 10, marking a significant pact in the electorally crucial state.

The announcement came after roughly three weeks of heated negotiations between the three parties and represented a big breakthrough for the Opposition’s Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) that has struggled to close seat-sharing talks in key states in recent weeks.

The talks were deadlocked for weeks over three seats – Sangli, Mumbai South Central and Bhiwandi – with the Sena (UBT) declaring its candidates for the first two seats and the Sharad Pawar faction for the third, even as the Congress staked claim to all three constituencies.

Setback for Kejriwal

Aam Aadmi Party’s hopes of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s early release suffered a setback as the Delhi high court on Tuesday rejected his petition for release from jail, noting that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has sufficient evidence “at this stage which points out towards the guilt” of the AAP convener for the commission of the offence of money laundering in connection with the Delhi excise policy case.

The court said in its 106-page judgment that ED had “sufficient” materials to justify the arrest of Kejriwal, who cannot be allowed to take the plea of political vengeance ahead of the Lok Sabha elections after choosing to skip nine ED summonses issued to him over the last six months, since the law does not allow any special privilege to a CM or any other person in power. According to the court, ED cannot be blamed for choosing the timing of Kejriwal’s arrest after he pushed the agency to a point where it had no other option but to arrest him.

AAP said Kejriwal will move the Supreme Court, and maintained the excise police case was the “biggest political conspiracy” to finish off the party.

Senior party leader and Delhi minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said at a press conference that they are hopeful the Supreme Court will provide relief to Kejriwal in the same way it granted bail to AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh recently.

“The so-called excise policy scam is the biggest political conspiracy to finish off the party and Kejriwal,” Bharadwaj alleged.

He claimed that the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation have failed to recover even one rupee of illegal money in the case.

“The entire matter is not related to money laundering, rather it’s the biggest political conspiracy of the country. It’s a conspiracy to crush and finish off chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP governments in Delhi and Punjab,” he said.

EC show cause to Randeep Surjewala

The Election Commission has issued a show cause notice to Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala over his “undignified, vulgar and uncivilized” remarks on BJP MP and film star Hema Malini and asked him to reply in two days — by April 11 — as to why appropriate action for violation of Model Code of Conduct should not be taken against him.

Separately, the EC has also shot a letter to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge over the “repeated violations” made by senior leaders of the party. The EC has asked Kharge to inform the poll body “the steps taken by the party to ensure strict compliance of the Commission’s advisory relating to honour and dignity of women during public discourse” by April 12.

“It is unfortunate that despite the Commission bringing it to the notice of the party at your level, the campaigners of Indian National Congress are still indulging in utterances that are repugnant to the honour and dignity of women,” the EC wrote to Kharge in a letter signed by senior principal secretary Narendra Nath Butolia.

The EC had received a written complaint against Surjewala over his “undignified” comments on Malini, a two-term MP from Mathura.

Earlier this month, the Congress’ social media in-charge Supriya Srinate was pulled up by the poll body for her comments against BJP candidate and national award-winning actress Kangana Ranaut.

Rahul Gandhi aide, six-term MP in Congress list

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s close aide Koppula Raju and six-term former MP Chinta Mohan are among the six Lok Sabha candidates the party announced on Tuesday.

Raju, an IAS officer turned Congress leader is the party’s National Coordinator of SC, OBC, minority and Adivasi departments. Raju’s tryst with the Congress started after he was in the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council during the UPA days. He will be fighting his first Lok Sabha polls.

From Tirupati, the Congress has fielded a six-term former MP Chinta Mohan. He had been a member of the 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 15th Lok Sabhas.

From Anakapalle, the party has given ticket to its Youth Congress leader Vegi Venkatesh and to Garnepudi Alexander Sudhakar from Narasaraopet. Sudhakar had fought the 2014 assembly election and is currently the in-charge of the legal cell of the party in Guntur district.

The Congress also fielded Pulusu Satyanarayana Reddy from Vishakhapatanam and a former minister’s daughter Lavanya Kavuri from Eluru.

With these latest announcements, the Congress has fielded a total of 250 candidates. It is expected to announce more names for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana and Delhi.

TMC ends stir, political row continues

A 10-member Trinamool Congress (TMC) team that was detained for staging a dharna outside the Election Commission’s office in Delhi on Monday camped overnight and concluded their agitation at the police station a day later, even as they were released within hours of being held.

The team, which included TMC lawmakers Derek O’Brien, Dola Sen and Mohammed Nadimul Haque, raised slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre as they staged a protest at Mandir Marg police station in the national capital. While all TMC leaders sat inside the police station premises, Haque and MP Sagarika Ghose, who had gone out briefly, were not allowed to re-enter. They sat on a dharna outside the boundary of the building.

Lalu’s daughter in RJD list

The Rashtriya Janata Dal on Tuesday released a list of 22 candidates, officially confirming the candidature of party supremo Lalu Prasad’s daughters Rohini Acharya and Misa Bharti from Saran and Pataliputra Lok Sabha seats, respectively.

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