Social media firms to act against ads violating ECI norms: Internet and Mobile Association of India
Social media platforms, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, have adopted a voluntary code of ethics for the upcoming general elections to act against paid advertisements that violate norms set by the Election Commission, the Internet and Mobile Association of India has said.
“Under the Code, participants have voluntarily undertaken to establish a high-priority communication channel with the nodal officers designated by ECI.
“Participants including BIGO, ByteDance, Facebook, Google, Sharechat and Twitter have also agreed to take action on content reported by the nodal officer, expeditiously, in accordance with the law,” IAMAI has said in a statement.
The Chief Election Commissioner in his remarks appreciated the proactive steps taken by the association and its members to ensure transparency with regard to paid political advertisements, according to IAMAI.
The CEC appreciated measures such as maintaining a repository of advertisements with information of sponsors, expenditures and targeted reach of such content in an aggregated manner, the industry body has added.
“Participants have built the technology to upload MCMC (Media Certification Monitoring Committee) certification. Participants have also committed to taking action on paid advertisements violating MCMC certification requirement under notification by the ECI,” the statement has said.
IAMAI will act as the liaison between the social media firms and the Election Commission of India.
“Collectively, IAMAI and the member participants of the code of ethics remain committed to ensuring free, fair, and ethical electoral process,” IAMAI has added.
Rahul Gandhi’s charge against Narendra Modi ridiculous, says BJP
The BJP in Uttarakhand has termed as ridiculous Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s charge that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was posing for the cameras at the Corbett National Park when the Pulwama terror attack took place, saying his pictures were taken hours before the incident.
“The Congress president’s allegation is ridiculous. The Prime Minister’s pictures related to environment conservation were taken hours before the terrorist attack in Pulwama when no one had an inkling of it,” State BJP media chief Devendra Bhasin has said.
“The Congress leaders are spreading lies because they have no issues to talk about in the election season,” he has said in a statement in Dehradun.
Launching the Congress’ poll campaign for Uttarakhand at a rally in Dehradun March 16, Mr. Gandhi alleged that Mr. Modi was posing for the cameras for a National Geographic documentary at the Corbett National Park at the time of the Pulwama terror attack.
Rahul attacks Modi on jobs
Rahul Gandhi has attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for “destroying” one crore jobs and unleashing “politics of division and hatred”, insisting while these were happening the PM was busy “marketing” himself.
Addressing election rallies in Manipur capital Imphal and Khumulwng in Tripura, Mr. Gandhi has accused the saffron party of abandoning its ‘act east policy’ and attacking the culture and ethos of the people of the region.
Unsparing in his assault on Mr. Modi, Mr. Gandhi has also wondered whether the Prime Minister ever studied at a university, and alleged educational institutions were undergoing saffronisation under his watch.
Attacking Mr. Modi over alleged loss of employment opportunities, the Congress leader has said the Prime Minister claimed on taking over the reins of the government that 2 crore jobs will be created every year, but 1 crore jobs were lost in 2018 alone. Over 30,000 jobs were lost on an average every day, Mr. Gandhi has claimed.
“In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi destroyed one crore jobs. This is the scale of his incompetence. It is absurd and ridiculous that the PM promises giving two crore jobs,” Mr. Gandhi has told the rally in Imphal.
“Modi has reduced the Prime Minister’s Office to the status of Publicity Minister’s Office as he is busy marketing himself,” Mr. Gandhi has said earlier in the day during an interaction with students in Imphal
During the interaction, he has claimed nobody knew whether Mr. Modi ever went to a university. “We still have no access to his university degree.Nobody actually knows if he went to university or not. There is an RTI (application) in Delhi seeking PM’s degree but it has not been responded to,” Mr. Gandhi has said, adding “the Prime Minister is imposing mediocrity on a sophisticated country“.
No rethink on West Bengal alliance, says Congress
The scope of reconciliation between the Left and the Congress on electoral understanding in West Bengal disappeared on Wednesday, with the latter refusing to have any compromise on 11 seats on which it had announced candidates.
“From our end there is no scope of rethinking,” State Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Pradip Bhattacharya tells journalists in Kolkata. Earlier this week, the Congress announced candidates for 11 Lok Sabha seats, including Raiganj and Murshidabad — both won by Left parties in 2014.
In its last attempt to salvage the alliance, the Left on Tuesday did not announce candidates for four seats won by the Congress in 2014 — Bahrampur, Jangipur, Malda North and Malda South.
“Chowkidar chor hai” slogan harmful to country: Modi
The Prime Minister is interacting with over 25 lakh “chowkidars” (security guards) via an audio bridge. During the interaction, he says: “Some people are abusing chowkidars, bringing every watchman under cloud. They lacked guts to name me.”'
“People across country taking pledge to become watchmen, ‘chowkidar’ has become synonymous with patriotism and honesty.”
Mayawati not to contest Lok Sabha polls
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati announces that she will not contest the Lok Sabha polls, but keeps open the option of fighting a parliamentary bypoll later.
“In view of the present circumstances and the need of the country and the interests of the party, the movement and the public, it is the need of the hour that I do not contest the Lok Sabha polls. And this is the reason that I have decided not to contest the Lok Sabha polls,” Ms. Mayawati says.
The BSP chief suggests that if she contests, party workers will focus on her seat even if she forbids them, affecting the campaign in other constituencies.
“Hence, winning each and every Lok Sabha seat is more important than my personal victory,” Ms. Mayawati says.
In Kerala, BJP to fight in 14 constituencies
The BJP has finalised its seat-sharing deal with the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) and the Kerala Congress in Kerala.
The BJP will field candidates in 14 seats, while the BDJS will contest in five seats and the PC Thomas-led Kerala Congress in one constituency, says Muralidhar Rao, national general secretary of the BJP.
Nine Kerala MLAs in Lok Sabha poll arena
Nine MLAs of the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress headed United Democratic Front (UDF) are in the poll arena of Kerala.
The LDF MLAs in the fray are A Pradeep Kumar (Kozhikode), M Ariff (Alappuzha), CPI’s Chittayam Gopakumar (Mavelikkara), Veena George (Pathanamthitta), P V Anwar (Ponnani) and C Divakaran of the CPI (Thiruvananthapuram).
The UDF MLAs are Hibi Eden (Ernakulam) and Adoor Prakash (Attingal). K Muraleedharan is expected to be fielded from Vadakara.
Kamal Hassan's MNM releases first list of candidates
The manifesto of the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) will speak about meeting the essential requirements of people— water, food and education, party founder and actor Kamal Hassan said while releasing the first list of candidates for the general election.
Mr. Hassan said he wished to contest in the Tamil Nadu by-elections, but will take a decision after consulting his party's electoral committee members.
Following is the candidates list:
Kanniyakumari - Ebenezer
Pudhucherry - MAS Subramaniam
Tiruchi - V Anandha Raja
Chidambaram - Ravi
Mayiladudhurai - Rifayudheen
Theni - S. Radhakrishnan
Chennai North - AG Mourya
Chennai Central - Kameela Nasser
Sriperumbudur - Sivakumar
Congress finalises alliance with NC in J&K
The Congress has finalised an alliance with the National Conference (NC) in Jammu and Kashmir, says senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The alliance has been finalised in national interest, to strengthen secular forces in Jammu and Kashmir as the State faces threat from Pakistan, he says.
The Congress will fight from Jammu and Udhampur, while the NC will fight from Srinagar.
NC chief Farooq Abdullah says, "It will be a friendly contest in Anantnag and Baramulla. We are also discussing the Ladakh seat."
Elaborating on the "friendly contest," Mr. Azad says there will be no cut-throat contest between the two parties in these seats.
Seat-sharing announcement of 'mahagathbandhan' after Holi
Even as the nomination process has begun for the first phase of Lok Sabha election, the Congress-RJD led mahagathbandhan in Bihar is yet to reveal its seat-sharing agreement.
When asked, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav says the announcement will be made after Holi.
Loan waiver is for all ryots, says M.K. Stalin
DMK president M.K. Stalin hits the campaign trail from Tiruvarur, promising that crop loans of all farmers will be waived without being restricted to small and marginal farmers as proposed in the party manifesto.
As soon as the salient features of the manifesto were flashed in the media, he received calls from the Left parties and other alliance partners on Tuesday suggesting that the loan waiver should be extended to all farmers. "Immediately, I rang up to the committee that had prepared the manifesto to effect the change", he says amidst a big applause from the audience.
Earlier, Mr. Stalin canvassed for votes by going door to door in a few parts of Tiruvarur and addressed women's self-help group members.
Naveen files nomination from Hinjili
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday filed nomination for Hinjili Assembly constituency in Ganjam district.
This is the fifth consecutive time that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president is seeking election from Hinjili.
Mr. Patnaik, who would contest from two seats for the first time, has also been the party nominee for Bijepur.
The chief minister said he will submit his nomination papers for Bijepur very shortly.
Both Hinjili and Bijepur Assembly seats will go to polls in the second phase of voting on April 18. The last date of nomination for the second phase of polling is March 26.
Mr. Patnaik is the first BJD candidate to file nomination for the assembly elections to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls in four phases next month.
“I have filed my papers for the coming assembly polls,” Mr. Patnaik told reporters soon after filing nomination before assistant sub-collector of Chhatrapur, S N Nayak, at Chhatrapur, the district headquarters town of Ganjam.
The Chief Minister filed four sets of nomination, an official said.
Accompanied by senior BJD leaders, he went in a procession to file his papers after visiting the nearby Taratarini Temple.
To a query, Mr. Patnaik said the BJD will once again with a comfortable majority and form government in the State.
Will he, won’t he? No decision yet on Advani contesting polls
Suspense remains on whether BJP patriarch L K Advani will contest the coming Lok Sabha polls or hang up his boots. The 91-year-old, who served as Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, has won the Lok Sabha elections from Gandhinagar six times.
Mr. Advani, credited for crafting the BJP’s rise to a pre-eminent position in the late 80s and 90s after it won just two Lok Sabha seats in the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, has remained on the sidelines since he voiced his reservations on the nomination of Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate in 2014.
Asked whether Mr. Advani was keen on contesting the poll considering his age, his personal secretary Deepak Chopra told PTI, “It is not yet decided...he will decide when something [offer] comes.”
Party sources said there was no age bar for candidates, and winnability would be the criteria when candidates are finalised by the party’s central election committee.
Asked if the party had urged Mr. Advani to contest from Gandhinagar again, Mr. Chopra said, “Neither has the party approached him nor has he approached the party so far.”
A section of Gujarat BJP leaders is of the view Mr. Advani may himself decide not contest the elections due to the age factor.
Mr. Advani did not make any representation to stake claim for his traditional Gandhinagar seat before the BJP observers.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra attacks PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stop thinking people are fools and understand that they see through everything, Congress General Secretary UP-East Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said.
Speaking to reporters in the home turf of Mr. Modi, Ms. Priyanka said "PM has attacked every institution in this country for last 5 years, including the one you are part of."
Ms. Priyanka further said "We will continue our fight; the more we are harassed, the stronger will it get."
PMO is now ‘Publicity Minister’s Office’, says Rahul Gandhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has relegated the PMO to a “Publicity Minister’s Office” by indulging in “mediocrity” in a highly sophisticated country.
Mr. Gandhi, who arrived in Imphal on Tuesday evening from Arunachal Pradesh, was interacting with the students of Manipur State Film Development Society in the state capital.
“The Prime Minister’s Office is now Publicity Minister’s Office,” Mr. Gandhi told the students.
Maharashtra to step up security ahead of LS polls
Maharashtra Police have geared up to strengthen security by sealing its borders with other states in view of the next month’s Lok Sabha polls, a senior police official said.
During the election time, some syndicates indulge in illegal transportation of liquor and cash to lure voters.
Sometimes weapons may also be transported by anti-social elements to create nuisance, he said.
“To prevent such activities, the police are taking all precautionary measures, including sealing of borders with other states wherein intense checking of private and public vehicles would be conducted,” the official said.
Maharashtra shares border with Telangana, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and Gujarat, as well as the Union Territories of Daman, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The State police organised a meeting earlier this month to gear up for ensuring proper security arrangements, the official said.
“Authorities in all these other states have also been holding meetings to step up security measures,” he said.
Last week, Madhya Pradesh police called their counterparts from neighbouring states, including Maharashtra, and reviewed the security arrangements, he added.
Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra will be held in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29 while results will be declared on May 23
Telangana Congress leader D.K. Aruna joins BJP
In another major setback to the Telangana Congress, its senior leader and former Minister D.K. Aruna joined the BJP in the presence of Amit Shah.
“She is likely to be fielded from the Mahbubnagar Lok Sabha seat,” according to sources.
Eight Congress MLAs recently defected to the ruling TRS in Telangana.
400 poll code violation complaints received via app: Maharashtra CEO
The Maharashtra chief electoral office has received as many as 400 complaints of violation of the model code of conduct through its app cVIGIL.
“Around 400 complaints have been received through cVIGIL across Maharashtra. The local team gets an alert once the complaint is lodged and our people reach the spot and verify the details. If the complaint is valid, we record the details and initiate an enquiry," an official from the State Chief Electoral Office said.
"Code of Ethics" for social media platforms
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and various social media organisations, at a meeting with the Election Commission on Tuesday, agreed to formulate a "Code of Ethics" for online platforms.
Details of the Code are expected to be laid down by Wednesday evening.
The meeting, which was attended by officials of the IAMAI, Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat, TikTok and BigoTV, was held to review the steps being taken to identify and report electoral rule violations in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls.
Issues ranging from the setting up of a dedicated grievance channel for expeditious action, pre-certification and ensuring transparency in expenditure of political advertisements were taken up.
The officials also discussed about evolving a notification mechanism by social media platforms for action against violations under Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora asked the social media organisations to come up with a set of norms for themselves, on the lines of the Model Code of Conduct, for the ongoing election process.
Addressing the participants, Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa suggested that a clause on users voluntarily agreeing not to misuse social media platforms for election or political purposes should be introduced.
Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said there should be punitive action against those misusing the platforms.
Cong releases sixth list of candidates
The Congress has released its sixth list of nine candidates, seven from Maharashtra and two from Kerala, for the Lok Sabha election.
With this, it has released names of 146 candidates for the election starting on April 11.
In Kerala, the Congress announced that Shanimol Usman will be the candidate from Alappuzha seat and Adoor Prakash from Attingal seat.
The Alappuzha seat is currently represented by AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal, who has decided to opt out of the contest citing organisational work.
In Maharashtra, the party has fielded K C Padavi from Nandurbar, Kunal Rohidas Patil from Dhule, Charulata Khajasingh Tokas from Vardha, Manikrao G Thakarey from Yavatmal-Washim, Eknath Gaikwad from Mumbai-South Central, Bhausahib Kamble from Shirdi and Navinchandra Bandivadekar from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg.
The list was cleared late Tuesday night after a meeting of the party’s Central Election Committee chaired by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Congress on talks for deals in crucial States
The first phase of polling for the Lok Sabha election is barely three weeks away, but the Congress is yet to seal its alliances in the crucial States of West Bengal, Bihar and Delhi that together have 89 seats.
Former Chief Minister and Delhi Congress president Sheila Dikshit reiterated her strong opposition to a tie-up with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi, even as other leaders made last-ditch efforts to work out one for the seven Lok Sabha seats.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar could emerge as a key facilitator in bringing the two parties together.
In a void left by Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa
Having seen intense electoral battles between two strong personalities — M. Karunanidhi of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and M.G. Ramachandran and later Jayalalithaa of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) — for over 40 years, Tamil Nadu is going into a major election on April 18 for the first time without a towering figure.
This has triggered talk that the upcoming Lok Sabha poll may turn out to be a tame affair.
But, the situation does not appear to be so, as there will be byelection to 18 Assembly constituencies which will take place simultaneously. The outcome of the byelection will decide the fate of the AIADMK government led by Edappadi K. Palaniswami. In the present strength of 214 members in the Assembly that has 21 vacant seats, the government is surviving by a margin of 17 members over the DMK-led front.
(With inputs from Agencies)