Electoral Bonds Scrapped: Modi Expresses Regret, EC Seizes Record Inducements

Electoral Bonds Scrapped: Modi Expresses Regret, EC Seizes Record Inducements

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed regret over the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap the electoral bond scheme, claiming that it has pushed the country towards black money in elections. In an interview with ANI, Modi stated that the scheme should also be viewed as a success story as it revealed the sources of political party funding.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has accused Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of visiting southern states, particularly Tamil Nadu, to compensate for potential losses in their traditional strongholds in the north. Stalin emphasized that the purpose of the upcoming election is to determine who should not come to power rather than who should.

The Election Commission (EC) has reported the largest seizure of inducements, including drugs and cash, in the history of elections. Even before polling begins for the Lok Sabha elections, the EC has seized ₹4,650 crore, surpassing the amount recovered in the 2019 elections.

The Madras High Court has directed the EC to explain its rationale for insisting that denial of pre-certification for election advertisements can only be challenged before the Supreme Court. The EC’s counsel has been granted time to take instructions after senior counsel R. Shunmugasundaram argued that the EC has no right to take away the writ jurisdiction of the High Courts.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has stated that the Narendra Modi-led government has ended the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the 1,600 km India-Myanmar border to thwart a “conspiracy” to change the demography of Manipur. “No matter how hard anyone tries, we will not let anyone divide Manipur,” he said at a campaign rally in support of the BJP’s Inner Manipur candidate in Imphal.

A senior official of the Taliban’s ‘Justice Ministry’ has stated that the Taliban is in “continuous contact” with Hindus and Sikhs who were forced to flee Afghanistan and had their homes taken by warlords. The official said the Taliban will respect the property rights of minority communities and are “particularly committed” to defending the rights of Hindus and Sikhs in the country.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced that he will step down on May 15 after two decades at the helm and hand power to his deputy Lawrence Wong. Mr. Lee, 72, will formally advise the city-state’s president to appoint Mr. Wong, who is currently deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, to succeed him.

Israel’s European allies have urged the administration to show restraint over Iran’s weekend missile and drone attack, calling on Israeli leaders to step away from “the edge of the cliff” of escalation in West Asia. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war Cabinet, which is empowered to decide on the country’s response, was set to convene on April 15 afternoon.

Former England spinner Derek Underwood, who gave a torrid time to the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, has passed away at Kent on April 15. He was 78. Underwood, a practitioner of slow left-arm orthodox spin, was highly regarded by his contemporaries because of his pin-point accuracy.

In the Indian Premier League (IPL), Sunrisers Hyderabad registered a well-crafted 25-run victory over Royal Challengers Bengaluru in a high-scoring affair. Travis Head’s maiden T20 hundred (102, 41b, 9×4, 8×6) and Heinrich Klaasen’s pillaging 67 (31b, 2×4, 7×6) drove Sunrisers to a record-breaking 287 for three.

Congress, BJP Announce Candidates; Electoral Bond Controversy, AAP Office Blockade

Congress, BJP Announce Candidates; Electoral Bond Controversy, AAP Office Blockade

Congress, BJP Announce Candidates for Lok Sabha Polls; Electoral Bond Controversy Rages

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have released their fourth and third lists of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, respectively. Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh will contest from Rajgarh, while Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Rai will run from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi seat.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) is investigating allegations that electoral bonds were used to influence project clearances in Telangana. The report submitted to the EC suggests a link between bond purchases and the award of contracts to donor companies.

The Congress has also accused the BJP of legalizing bribes through electoral bonds, claiming that they facilitate “prepaid, postpaid, and post-raid bribes.” An analysis of State Bank of India data reveals that 38 corporate groups received government contracts worth ₹3.8 lakh crore after donating electoral bonds to the BJP.

In other developments, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has raised concerns with the CEC over the Delhi Police blocking access to its office after the arrest of party chief Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP has sought a meeting to present their grievances.

Munnar, known for its misty mornings, has experienced an unusual lack of frost this winter, marking a departure from its usual pattern. Data from the United Planters Association of South India tea research center shows that no sub-zero temperatures were recorded in Munnar town this year.

In Bihar, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has shortlisted candidates for its 16 constituencies, with several incumbents being repeated. The party president and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has opted to retain many candidates, barring a few seats.

The Karnataka government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Centre for denying financial assistance for drought management in the state. The move is expected to trigger a political debate ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) president Prakash Ambedkar has maintained an ambivalent stance towards forging an alliance with the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). The VBA will announce its decision on March 26 on whether it will contest the elections independently or join the MVA.

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP will deploy women members from the Muslim community as agents on minority-dominant polling booths to prevent bogus voting. The BJP Minority Morcha has planned this initiative, focusing on areas where the party claims to have received reports of bogus voting in previous elections.

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