Rahul Gandhi’s interviews to Gujarati TV channels aired today on the eve of final phase of the Assembly elections sparked a complaint by the BJP with the Election Commission which sought his explanation for “prima facie” violating the poll rules. As the BJP and the Congress were locked in a war of words over the interview, the Election Commission issued a show cause notice to the Congress president-elect to explain by 5 pm on December 18 as to why action should not be taken against him. Counting of votes is due to be taken up on December 18. The poll body in its 2-page order tonight also said it will decide the matter without any reference to him if he fails to respond to the notice.
Make no mistake about it. The Gujarat election result is important, and particularly so for the Congress. A close fight will signal its revival, and signal to the BJP that Modi’s personal popularity will no longer dominate the vote as the electorate gets increasingly concerned about a slow growth economy. First, some important and necessary caveats. Election forecasting is a hazardous occupation and has felled all “experts” at one time or another.
Manmohan Singh today stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the eve of the final phase of the Gujarat polls, releasing a video message where the former premier accused him of spreading “falsehood and canards” to score political points. The sharply-worded message, which was virtually a repeat of his written statement released on Monday, provoked an equally strong backlash from the BJP, which questioned Singh’s silence when “monumental loot” was taking place under his watch. The usually reticent Singh’s video was in response to Modi’s remarks insinuating that the former prime minister had colluded with Pakistan to influence the elections in Gujarat where the BJP and Congeress are locked in a contest, many say, is too close to call.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today wrote to Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri, seeking a review of the hike in metro fares and reiterated his offer to partially bear the cost of the proposed “claw back”. Puri, however, said that neither the Centre nor the Delhi government has powers to rollback the fares fixed by the fixation committee headed by a retired judge and claimed that the ridership on three different days in October this year were higher than the last year. Hitting back, the Union minister said that the 35 per cent fall in the DTC riders and shortfall of buses called for an urgent attention.
The government today extended by three months till March 31 the deadline for mandatory quoting of national biometric identifier Aadhaar and Permanent Account Number (PAN) for bank accounts and certain financial transactions. The deadline for existing bank account holders to furnish the 12-digit biometric identifier was initially December 31, 2017. The extension has been granted “after considering various representations received and inputs received from banks,” an official statement said here.
Bharti Airtel, which operates Airtel Payments Bank, will take harsh and appropriate actions against erring retail partners who open accounts without following the due process, the company said on Wednesday. “In case a customer wants to report that an Airtel Payments Bank account have been opened without her consent, she can contact us by calling 8800688006 or sending SMS ‘Care’ to 8448984489,” said a spokesperson of Airtel Payments Bank.