Jerusalem: Israelis voted on Tuesday in their country’s second general election in five months, a contest that is being widely seen as a referendum on incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership. Netanyahu, 69, called the snap election after failing to form a governing coalition with a viable majority after April’s vote. About 6.3 million eligible Israeli voters started voting Tuesday morning in the unprecedented repeat polls. Polling booths opened at 7 AM and voters can cast their votes till 10 PM to elect the 22nd Knesset (Israeli parliament) necessitated by the inability of Netanyahu to cobble a coalition of 61 members in a house of 120 following the April 9 elections. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USVoting for Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers began Saturday evening at bases around the country, and Israeli diplomats abroad have also already cast their ballots. In the short period that has passed since the April 9 elections, the number of eligible voters has grown by almost 1 per cent,” the CEO of the Central Elections Committee, Orli Adas, said. The election is being seen as the toughest political challenge for Netanyahu, something akin to a referendum on the continuity of his more than ten years of uninterrupted leadership at the helm of affairs. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe polls pit Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party and Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, against his toughest opponent in years – former military chief Benjamin “Benny” Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party. Netanyahu voted alongside his wife in Jerusalem. Gantz while casting his vote called on the country to reject corruption and “extremism”. “We want new hope. We are voting today for change,” Gantz said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in a video message on Tuesday morning vowed to “do everything I can to get an elected government in Israel as soon as possible and to avoid another election campaign”. Rivlin said that if the Knesset fails to form a government, or if the proposed government is rejected, he would task someone else with the role. “The second option is to inform the Knesset speaker that there is no possibility of forming a government, and there is no escaping a third election campaign,” Rivlin said. In the event that both scenarios don’t work, the President said he would seek tasking someone who has the support of a majority of 61 lawmakers with the role. The final opinion polls put Likud party neck and neck with its main challenger, the centrist Blue and White party. Smaller parties could therefore have a big say in the final outcome.
Kolkata: At a time when the leaders of political parties are raising their voice against incidents of violence before the three-tier Panchayat elections, pages of history show that 45 and 17 people were murdered before the elections which were held in 2003 and 2008 respectively, under the CPI-M regime.Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said that in 2003 and 2008, her party could field 30,000 and 35 candidates in the Panchayat elections. Admitting that incidents of violence had taken place in seven places, she questioned how the Opposition parties could field 2 lakh candidates for the forthcoming Panchayat elections, had there been violence throughout the state. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsIn 2018, six persons, all Trinamool Congress workers, have been killed in incidents of violence.In 2003, 45 people were murdered before the Panchayat elections. On the day of polling, 35 people had been murdered. After the poll, 27 persons were murdered and 1,200 houses were set on fire. All those who had been murdered, belonged to the Opposition parties.Again in 2008, 17 people were murdered before the Panchayat elections. On the day of the poll, 21 people had been murdered, while another 13 were murdered after the poll. Nine hundred houses were set on fire. In a recent interview given to a vernacular channel, Mamata Banerjee had asked: “how can I forget those days when my party workers were murdered by CPI-M cadres?” Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedThe first Panchayat elections were held in 1978, after the Left Front came to power in 1977. From 1978 till 2008, the Left Front had won in 50%-60% of the Gram Panchayat seats, while the party got 75% seats in Panchayat Samity and 85% to 90% seats in Zilla Parishad.Trinamool Congress got control over two Zilla Parishads – East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas in 2008. Over the years, the party strengthened its organisation and got 13 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. In 2010, it got control over Kolkata Municipal Corporation and finally ousted CPI-M in the 2011 Assembly election.
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee instructed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Thursday to take over the investigation of Trinamool leader Nirmal Kundu’s murder at Nimta.In the evening, she visited Nirmal’s house and interacted with his family members. Later, Banerjee alleged that BJP is resorting to violence in the name of victory rallies and instructed the police not to allow any more victory rallies across the state by the saffron party. Banerjee was accompanied by Sujit Bose, Jyotipriya Mallick, MLA Saugata Roy and MP Dola Sen. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataOn Thursday at around 6:30 pm, Banerjee visited Nirmal’s family members where they called for capital punishment for the guilty persons. After interacting with the Trinamool leader’s family, the Chief Minister stated that the conspirator behind the murder should be found at any cost. “Who is the conspirator? I have met Nirmal’s family and they have demanded capital punishment for the murderers. We want justice and punishment for the culprits as well,” she said. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateLater, Banerjee alleged that BJP has won the seats in Bengal through fraud and bribes. She also stated that the party is lying about their workers getting killed in the state. “None of their workers have been killed. But in Delhi they are claiming that Trinamool is doing all the violence. They are lying. Only our workers are getting killed. After winning in some sub divisions, BJP is doing naked displays of violence. Bengal is not the place for it, it is a place of peace,” Banerjee said. She also alleged that general people and Trinamool leaders are getting attacked during the saffron party’s victory rallies. “No victory rally will be allowed. I am instructing the police about it. Only peace rallies will be allowed,” she added. Banerjee also stated that BJP on Wednesday had killed a Trinamool worker in Dinhata and a newborn baby in Habra. She also challenged BJP over the poster pasted on a Trinamool leader’s house in Birati, where there was a threat of his head being severed. Talking about Nirmal’s murder, Banerjee further said, “BJP workers were arranging a display of the oath taking ceremony. Nirmal just requested them to do it a bit far from his home. Was that his fault? I am requesting people to take action so that BJP cannot win in Bengal.” She also alleged that the CPI(M) is supporting BJP and warned the leaders of the party to control their cadres. According to sources, following Nirmal’s murder his brother is being threatened continuously by a group of miscreants. They have mentioned five names in the FIR lodged. On the other hand, two accused persons arrested on Wednesday, identified as Suman Kundu and Sujoy Das, were produced before the Barrackpore Court on Thursday. After hearing the petition from both parties, the magistrate remanded the duo to police custody for seven days. Sleuths are searching for the other accused persons named in the FIR and are conducting raids in several places.