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Assembly polls 2021 wrap, March 17: TMC promises big in manifesto, Kerala Congress quits NDA; and more

Here are all the important poll-related updates you need to know today.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
March 17, 2021 9:43:12 pm
A wheelchair-bound Mamata Banerjee arrives at party office in Kolkata to release TMC's manifesto. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

With less than two weeks to go for the first phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal, a wheelchair-bound Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued to address poll rallies in the state for the Trinamool Congress to counter the BJP’s aggressive campaign. The TMC supremo also released the party’s manifesto, promising a continuation of her government’s developmental works.

Meanwhile, the BJP announced its candidates for three more constituencies in Tamil Nadu for the April 6 Assembly polls, two days before the last date to file nominations. In Kerala, the saffron party suffered a setback as its ally Kerala Congress quit the NDA alleging neglection over seat allocation.

Here are all the important poll-related updates you need to know today.

West Bengal

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee released the manifesto of the Trinamool Congress for the assembly elections, promising a minimum basic income every month if voted to power.

The manifesto provided a minimum basic income under which 1.6 crore eligible general category families will get a monthly cash transfer of Rs 500 per month, which is Rs 6,000 annually. Each SC/ST category family will get a cash amount of Rs 1,000 monthly, which is Rs 12,000 yearly, the manifesto stated.

The manifesto promised to create 5 lakh jobs every year to halve the unemployment rate in the state. It also said an additional 10 lakh MSMEs will be set up annually in order to generate employment for the state. For students, the Trinamool manifesto promised to introduce a Student Credit Card with a Rs 10 lakh credit limit.

CM Mamata Banerjee along with senior party leaders during the release of election manifesto at Kalighat. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

She also announced a monetary help of Rs 10,000 for small and marginal farmers in a bid to counter the central government’s farmer assistance scheme.

Attending a poll rally in Jhargam earlier in the day, Mamata exuded confidence that the TMC would defeat the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections. She alleged that earlier it was CPI(M) which used to physically attack her, and now the BJP was doing the same — a reference to an injury to her left leg at Nandigram on March 10 after she was allegedly pushed by a group of four to five people.

“They cannot throttle my voice, we will defeat BJP,” she said while urging the people of the region to vote for the TMC candidates. “Every vote you cast for our candidates will be for me,” she added.

The TMC also demanded the cancellation of the nomination of BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari, who will take on CM Mamata from Nandigram, as his name also “seems to appear” in the electoral roll of Haldia constituency. This comes after Adhikari himself had demanded the cancellation of the TMC supremo’s nomination from the Nandigram seat.

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BJP workers participated in a “Wheelchair Tribute March” to pay respect to the 130+ BJP workers, who were allegedly killed in political clashes since 2018 Panchayat Elections. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Meanwhile, Suvendu has said that his father, Trinamool MP Sisir Adhikari, will attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally at Contai in East Midnapore on March 24, hinting that he may join the saffron fold as well.

Assam

In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is among the top leaders spearheading the party’s campaign in the state, said it was not possible to fight the election only on issues of development. Asked about the BJP’s campaign being focused on the ‘threat’ supposedly posed by a particular migrant-origin community, Sarma said, “Assam is a frontier state with a legacy of fighting infiltration right from the days of Partition. So, Assam politics and socio-cultural-economic life have centred or evolved around this topic. Even stalwarts like Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi and Bimala Prasad Chaliha fought on this issue. Yet this issue is unresolved.”

On the other hand, state BJP president Ranjeet Dass has said that the party is banking on the development done under its rule in the state and not on “communal agendas”. In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, Dass claimed that the BJP “does not do politics on communal lines” and the party is working for “educating and developing minority communities”.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was campaigning in Hojai, held the Congress responsible for lack of development and illegal influx in the North East. “Congress never worked for the development and progress of the region or the country’s unity or welfare of the people, but only to grab power. This forced the people here to endure its misrule for a long time and the problem of illegal migration in the area,” he said.

Tamil Nadu

The BJP announced its candidates for three more constituencies in Tamil Nadu for the April 6 Assembly polls, two days before the last date to file nominations.

The saffron party, which is fighting the election in alliance with AIADMK, had days ago named its nominees for 17 out of the 20 constituencies allotted to it by its partner and now announced candidates for Thali (C Nagesh Kumar), Udhagamandalam (Bhojarajan) and Vilavancode (R Jayaseelan).

In order to get their demands of releasing water from Parambikulam-Aliyar Project heard by authorities, hundreds of farmers decided to file nominations from Kangeyam Assembly constituency in Tirupur district of Tamil Nadu in the forthcoming elections, PTI reported.

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) Chief Vaiko released his party’s manifesto for the upcoming polls. MDMK party is contesting six seats in alliance with the DMK.

Kerala

P C Thomas-led Kerala Congress today quit the NDA, alleging that his party was neglected by the BJP-led alliance when the seats were allocated for the April 6 polls.

The faction led by Thomas, a former Union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, would now merge with the Kerala Congress headed by senior leader P J Joseph, which is a constituent of the Congress-led UDF.

Meanwhile, citing the voters’ list published by the Election Commission on January 20 earlier this year, the Congress has raised serious allegations of fraud and irregularities in the preparation of the voters list in Kerala.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said bogus votes have been added extensively in each constituency across the state. There were instances of the name of a person being included in the voters’ list of the same constituency five or six times, PTI quoted him as saying.

CM Pinarayi Vijayan, who has filed his nomination from Dharmadam constituency in Kannur district, declared his assets worth Rs 54 lakh, according to the affidavit filed by him. On the other hand, Chennithala, who filed his papers from the Harippad segment in Alappuzha district, has declared assets worth Rs 1.23 crore including immovable assets valued at Rs 76,20,620.

Puducherry

Former Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy’s name was missing from the list of 14 candidates announced by the Congress party. The Congress is contesting in 15 of the 30 assembly constituencies. The candidate for Yanam, an enclave of Puducherry in Andhra Pradesh, is yet to be announced. The remaining seats are shared by alliance partners DMK (13), CPI (1) and VCK (1).

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