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Assembly Elections 2021 Highlights: Congress releases first list of 13 candidates for Bengal elections

Prime Minister Modi has directed BJP leaders in West Bengal to ensure the party does not indulge in name-calling or abuses and keep the campaigning positive, according to sources.

Assembly Elections 2021 Live Updates: Polls are to be held for 294 seats in West Bengal, 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 140 seats in Kerala, 126 seats in Assam and 30 seats in Puducherry.

Assembly Elections 2021 Highlights: The Congress Saturday released its first list of candidates 13 for the West Bengal elections. Earlier in the day, the BJP also released its first list of 57 candidates for the West Bengal Assembly elections later this month. The saffron party has pitted ex-TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram.

Activist Akhil Gogoi, who is in jail since December 2019, will contest the upcoming elections in Assam as a candidate of his newly-floated political party Raijor Dal. Gogoi, who was booked under the stringent UAPA during the protests against the CAA in December 2019, will contest from Sibsagar, PTI reported.

Ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, the ruling AIADMK allotted 20 seats as well as the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat to its ally BJP after several rounds of negotiations.  In a statement, signed by AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami, the party pledged full support to the candidates of the BJP in the polls. 

Following a complaint by the Trinamool Congress earlier this week, the Election Commission has directed the Union Government to stop using images of PM Narendra Modi on Covid-19 vaccination certificates in poll-bound states. 

Sources said the EC wrote to the Health Ministry on Friday reiterating its standing instructions against promoting the party in power through government means when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was in force.

Live Blog

Assembly Elections 2021 Live: AIADMK seals poll pact with BJP, gives Kanyakumari LS seat, EC says remove PM’s photo from Covid jab certificate

23:53 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Signs of progress in seat-sharing negotiations between DMK, Congress

Congress got 25 seats to fight from in Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, apart from 1 Lok Sabha and 1 Rajya Sabha. The party has sealed its poll deal with DMK.

23:49 (IST)06 Mar 2021
AICC releases list of 40 candidates for Assam Assembly elections

AICC on Saturday released a list of 40 candidates for various constitutencies from 71 to 126 in Assam Assembly elections.

22:08 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Congress releases first list of 13 candidates for Bengal elections

The Congress has released its first list of candidates 13 for the West Bengal elections. 

21:27 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Nandigram to witness Battle Royale as BJP pits Suvendu against Mamata

With the BJP on Saturday announcing Suvendu Adhikari's candidature from the Nandigram seat, the stage is set for the Battle Royale between him and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the most high-profile constituency in the upcoming West Bengal assembly elections.

Nandigram -- the cradle of the anti-land acquisition movement that catapulted Banerjee to power in 2011, will witness her once protg Suvendu Adhikari taking on her on April 1, in the second of the eight phases of polling.

The 66-year-old TMC supremo, while announcing the party's candidate list on Friday, reaffirmed her name from Nandigram.

She had declared in January that she will contest the seat in Purba Medinipur district. (PTI)

20:25 (IST)06 Mar 2021
After Tamil Nadu, Congress facing seat-sharing woes in Assam

At a time when the Congress is locked in a bitter tussle with the DMK over seat sharing in Tamil Nadu, trouble is brewing in the party in Assam as well over allocation of seats to partner AIUDF.

There were tense scenes and slogan shouting by a section of the party workers at the Congress office Saturday in Guwahati in the presence of party chief Ripun Bora and Mahila Congress national president Sushmita Dev. Sources said Dev is upset over allocation of some seats to the AIUDF in her stronghold of Barak Valley.

Of the 15 Assembly seats in Barak Valley, comprising Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts , the Congress had won three last time, while the AIUDF had won four. All the three seats in Hailakandi were won by AIUDF last time and the party is claiming all three as part of the seat-sharing deal.

Sources said the Congress leadership has agreed to allocate all the three seats to the AIUDF. This has angered the Congress workers in the district. Read this report by Manoj C G

19:01 (IST)06 Mar 2021
BJP announces candidates for 57 seats in Bengal polls; Suvendu to take on Mamata in Nandigram

The BJP Saturday released its first list of 57 candidates for the West Bengal Assembly elections later this month. The saffron party has pitted ex-TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram. 

Former Indian cricketer Ashoke Dinda, ex-IPS officer Bharati Ghosh among BJP candidates for West Bengal polls.

18:45 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Amit Shah in Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Sunday

Senior BJP leader and Home Minister Amit Shah will be on a day-long political tour of the poll-bound states of Tamil Nadu, where he is set to launch a door-to-door campaign, and Kerala on Sunday.

A party statement said Shah will also address the valedictory function of the BJP's "Kerala Vijay Yatra" in Thiruvananthapuram, besides attending several programmes in the two southern states.

Besides launching "Vetri Kodi Eandhi" (people outreach programme for poll victory) at Suchindram in Kanyakumari, Shah will also hold a roadshow in the constituency where the BJP is also contesting the Lok Sabha bypoll due to the death of the sitting Congress MP. Former union minister Pon Radhakrishnan is its candidate. (PTI)

18:00 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Bengal elections: Suspense continues over Mithun Chakraborty's presence at PM rally tomorrow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will sharpen BJP's campaign for the high-octane assembly elections in West Bengal with a mega rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds here on Sunday.

The Prime Minister's Sunday rally is said to be culmination of the "Parivartan Yatra" launched by the saffron party in the poll-bound Bengal in February this year. Along with Modi several top senior BJP leaders will be present at the rally.

According to BJP sources, the rally might also throw up surprises as a few noted personalities including Bollywood actor Mithun Chakraborty might be present on the dais. "He may be present at the rally tomorrow. Let's see what happens," a senior BJP leader said.

BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, however, said nothing has been discussed regarding Chakraborty's joining the saffron camp. (PTI)

17:19 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Akhil Gogoi to contest Assam polls from Sibsagar

Activist Akhil Gogoi, who is in jail since December 2019, will contest the upcoming elections in Assam as a candidate of his newly-floated political party Raijor Dal. Gogoi, who was booked under the stringent UAPA during the protests against the CAA in December 2019, will contest from Sibsagar, PTI reported.

Announcing the list of 17 candidates that the party fielded in the first two phases, Raijor Dal working president Bhasco De Saikia said that Gogoi, the party's president, will contest from the Sibsagar constituency in Upper Assam.

In the first phase, the party will contest in 12 seats but is yet to announce the candidate for one seat, and in the second phase, it has put up candidates in six constituencies.

"We have decided to contest in only 17 seats with th intention of not dividing the votes so that the BJP is defeated and to ensure that there is an anti-CAA government in the state," Saikia said. (PTI)

17:10 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Congress says Sushmita Dev with party amid differences over seat-sharing

The Congress on Saturday said that its women's wing chief Sushmita Dev was with the party, dismissing reports in a section of the press that she has resigned amid differences over seat-sharing.

The reports of Dev's resignation came amid differences with party leaders over seat-sharing with AIUDF.

"It has been brought to the notice of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee that a speculative news about resignation of President, All  India Mahila Congress Ms Sushmita Dev is doing the rounds on television and web portals. We want to make it clear that Ms Sushmita Dev has not resigned from the party," party spokesperson Bobbeeta Sharma said in a statement.

Earlier, Dev barged out of a Congress meeting on the selection of candidates at a city hotel, party sources said.

Her supporters also demonstrated against Congress leaders who favoured allotting more seats to AIUDF in the Barak Valley. (PTI)

16:57 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Explained: The political significance of Assam’s Sattras

In poll-bound Assam, the campaigns of both the BJP and Congress could not be more different. Yet, one place figures prominently in the campaign trails of both parties — the Bartadrava Than/Sattra (monastery) in Nagaon, which is the birthplace of renowned Vaishnavite saint-reformer Srimanta Sankardeva.

Last month, Home Minister Amit Shah launched a beautification project there, earmarking Rs 188 crore for its development. Just a few weeks before that, the Congress launched a bus yatra — as part of their Assam Basaon Ahok (Come Let’s Save Assam) campaign — from the same place. That is not all.

It is common to see politicians often going to different Sattras to seek blessings or extolling the virtues of Sankardeva, especially in the run-up to elections. In fact, part of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s Assam itinerary last week included a visit to Letekupukhuri Than in Lakhimpur, the birthplace of Srimanta Madhavdev, the most trusted disciple of Sankardeva. Read this report by Tora Agarwala

16:37 (IST)06 Mar 2021
TMC's Shibpur MLA quits party after being dropped from candidate list

Upset over not being nominated this time, TMC's Shibpur MLA Jatu Lahiri announced on Saturday that he has resigned from the party.

Talking to reporters, Lahiri said that despite being a "loyal soldier" of the TMC he was ignored by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

"More than not getting the nomination, I am hurt that an outsider having no links with the electorate has got the nomination just days after being inducted into the party. It seems we are not required by the TMC anymore. I am leaving the organisation," he said.

TMC has nominated former cricketer Manoj Tiwary from the Shibpur seat in Howrah.

Lahiri, a veteran politician, also hinted that he may join the BJP. (PTI)

15:53 (IST)06 Mar 2021
In Kochi suburbs, a triangular election fight in offing with a corporate twist

On the eastern fringes of Kochi, in the village of Kizhakkambalam, the parking field of a sprawling supermarket was jam-packed with cars, two-wheelers and auto-rickshaws. A line of people, mostly women, flitted out of the supermarket every few minutes, carrying large bags laden with groceries, fruits and vegetables.

This is no ordinary supermarket. Here, a 10-kilogram pack of brown matta rice costs just Rs 84, down from over Rs 450 in the open market. Half-a-litre of milk costs Rs 5, 250 grams of tea Rs 14 and a pack of six eggs comes to Rs 9. When prices of essential food items are so heavily subsidised with discounts ranging from 30% to 70%, who wouldn’t line up to buy?

The bhakshya-suraksha supermarket in Kizhakkambalam, started in 2017, has been one of the flagship initiatives of Twenty20, the charitable arm of garment exporter KITEX Group which has its headquarters in the village. In 2015, after running into a tussle with local politicians, Twenty20 decided to test the electoral waters. It contested in the local body elections that year, winning 17 of the 19 wards. Kizhakkambalam made headlines; it was the first time in India’s history that a corporate firm-backed party captured power of a local body.

Read this report by Vishnu Varma

15:32 (IST)06 Mar 2021
TMC, Left candidates begin campaigning for Bengal polls

Trinamool Congress and Left candidates kick-started their campaigns for the West Bengal elections on Saturday.

While the TMC announced the list of candidates for 291 seats on Friday, the Left named nominees for 39 seats that are going to polls in the first phase.

TMC's Ashokenagar candidate Dhiman Roy began door-to-door campaigning in the morning. The party's Jadavpur candidate Debabrata Majumdar also visited the voters in the area.

CPI(M)'s Jhargram nominee Madhuja Sen Roy also campaigned in her constituency.

In Behala, TMC supporters were seen busy painting wall graffitis in the support of the party's two candidates from the area -- Partha Chatterjee (Behala West) and Ratha Chatterjee (Behala East). (PTI)

15:26 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Bengal BJP releases election campaign song

West Bengal BJP releases the election campaign song 'Gorbo Sonar Bangla'.

14:36 (IST)06 Mar 2021
'Been with didi for 20 yrs, but felt there was no consideration,' says ex-TMC leader Dinesh Bajaj
14:34 (IST)06 Mar 2021
She is very much with us: Assam Congress MP Bordoloi on reports of Sushmita Dev's resignation

Denying reports of senior Congress leader Sushmita Dev's resignation from the party, Assam Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi said: 'She is very much with us. She is a very indispensable part of Congress. She is a very respected leader of our party.' (ANI)

12:45 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Former TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi joins BJP

Former TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi, who resigned from the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress last month, joined the BJP in the presence of the saffron party's president JP Nadda. 

11:59 (IST)06 Mar 2021
Cachar district admn takes steps to encourage women voters to cast their ballot

To make new women voters aware of how to take part in the voting process, the Cachar district administration in south Assam is taking various steps to attract all electors, especially young voters, to cast their ballot in the upcoming Assembly hustings. Under this effort, a mock polling centre 'Poll Express' has been put into motion, said a district administration release on Friday.

Cachar Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli, DIG Southern range Devajyoti Mukherjee and Superintendent of Police Bhanwar Lal Mina inaugurated the 'Poll Express' which will mainly travel to the border areas and rural areas of the district.

Demos of the voting process will be shown to the general public through the vehicle with new voters encouraged to cast their votes under the SVEEP initiative in Cachar district. (PTI)

11:57 (IST)06 Mar 2021
BJP fields Pon Radhakrishnan as candidate for Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Assam BJP on Friday evening released the first list of candidates for the upcoming state assembly polls. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will contest from Majuli and Jalukbari respectively, the constituencies they currently represent. State party president Ranjeet Kumar Dass will be contesting from Patacharkuchi constituency instead of Sarbhog seat, which he currently holds.

Meanwhile, days after Ghulam Nabi Azad praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress leader Friday said victory of the grand old party in the forthcoming state elections is a priority and that he will campaign wherever invited. "The victory of Congress party in the forthcoming state elections is a priority. I will be campaigning wherever I will be invited by the party or individual," Azad was quoted as saying by ANI.

Trinamool Congress Chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, earlier today, announced the names of candidates for 291 constituencies ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in the state. “Today, we are releasing a list of 291 candidates which includes 50 women, 42 Muslim candidates. On 3 seats of north Bengal, we not putting up our candidates. I will contest from Nandigram,” ANI quoted Banerjee as saying.

In Tamil Nadu, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Friday also released its first list of candidates. Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami will contest the polls from Edapaddi, while his deputy, O Panneerselvam is standing from Bodinayakanur.

Polling in four states and one Union Territory will be spread over a month between March 27 and April 29, and the results for all five Assemblies will be announced on May 2. West Bengal will vote in eight phases, Assam in three, and Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry in a single phase on the same day.

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