Rahul Gandhi announces a basic income scheme called the Nyuntam Aay Yojana, to give a dole of Rs 6000 per month to families earning less than Rs 12000 per month, if the UPA is voted to power. Says it will benefit 5 crore families

News Snippets

  • Reports say that BJP candidate from Begusarai, Giriraj Singh, has refused to contest. Senior leaders are trying to convince him
  • Goyal's departure from Jet raises the possibility of the airlines' revival with banks now expected to release funds for the cash-strapped entity
  • Time to pass on the baton, says Naresh Goyal as he quits Jet Airways
  • Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita quit Jet Airways board
  • Amit Shah to contest from Gandhinagar, the seat held by veteran L K Advani whose name does not figure in first list
  • PM Modi to contest from Varanasi again
  • BJP comes out with its first list of 184 candidates across 20 states
  • Nirav Modi termed as "flight risk',denied bail by UK court
  • Aseemanand and three others acquitted in Samjhauta Express blast case
  • BJP wins floor test in Goa. 20 MLAs vote for the Pramod Sawant government while 15 vote against it
  • Mukesh and Nita Ambani help Anil to clear Ericsson dues. Anil thanks them publicly.
  • Anil Ambani escapes jail by clearing his dues to Ericsson within the time set by the Supreme Court
  • BJP's Pramod Sawant to be next chief minister of Goa. The party brings allies MGP and GFP in line by offering them posts of deputies to the CM
  • Despite overnight meeting, BJP yet to come up with a replacement for the departed Manohar Parrikar as Goa CM
  • Mid-air collision of two international flights luckily averted over Mumbai skies
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Elections 2019: Dance Of Democracy

By A Special Correspondent

As expected, the Election Commission has declared the schedule of the general elections over the weekend. The elections will be held in 7 phases from April 11 to May 19, with counting and results on May 23. Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh voters will simultaneously elect their state assemblies. The commission has decided not to hold assembly elections in J&K for now as the security situation has not improved.

The commission took pains to show that despite the increase in booths from 9 lakhs in 2014 to 10 lakhs this year, it has managed to so design the exercise that the phases have reduced from 9 in 2014 to 7 now. The commission also said that there will be 100% VVPAT deployment and trail coverage in at least one booth per segment. Pictures of candidates will also be displayed on the EVMs. It also said that social media entities have been warned about fake and paid news. The commission assured the country that it is well prepared to ensure free and fair elections.

Although the period of 5 weeks and four days to complete the exercise will seem stretched, given the nature of Indian elections- with money and muscle power ruling the roost - the need is to ensure that the elections are held in a free, fair and peaceful manner. To achieve this, the deployment of security personnel has to be optimum and this can only be done by phasing the elections in a manner that the desired deployment can take place without glitches. Along with this, the commission has to factor in exam schedules and preferences of states before taking the decision. Hence, it is good that the exercise will be completed in just 7 phases.

By the evening of May 23, the country will know who will govern it for the next five years. Although the commission could have advanced this date by two days given that everything has now gone digital, one can grant it the time as huge logistics are involved. It is always better to be safe than be sorry. Indian elections have continuously set benchmarks for efficiency and one is hopeful this time will not be any different. It is also hoped that the record of 66% voting achieved in 2014 will be shattered this year as voter awareness is at its peak.

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