India cancels poll in southern area over ‘vote buying’

Tens of millions of Indians joined nationwide queues on April 11 to give their verdict on nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi as the world’s biggest election started amid deadly clashes. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2019
0

India cancels poll in southern area over ‘vote buying’

  • It is the first time a ballot has been canceled in a national election over attempted vote-buying, officials said
  • The decision comes as Indians vote in a mammoth national election being held over several phases

NEW DELHI: Indian election authorities have canceled voting in a southern region of the country after seizing more than 110 million rupees ($1.5 million) they believe was meant to influence the outcome, officials said Wednesday.
It is the first time a ballot has been canceled in a national election over attempted vote-buying, officials said.
The decision comes as Indians vote in a mammoth national election being held over several phases, the next of which begins Thursday.
But voters in the Vellore constituency in coastal Tamil Nadu state will not be going to the polls as scheduled after the Election Commission of India ruled there were fears of a “systematic design to influence voters.”
The ruling came after authorities seized more than 110 million rupees from a candidate in the run-up to the vote.
The commission said late Tuesday that the environment in Vellore was no longer conducive to “free and ethical” elections.
No fresh date has been announced for polling in the constituency.
Nearly 100 constituencies in 13 states go to the polls Thursday in the second round of the seven-phase election that began on April 11.
Almost 900 million voters are eligible to cast their votes to elect 543 members to the lower house of the parliament, with results expected on May 23.
Attempts to secure votes in return for cash, liquor, electronic gadgets and even goats have been reported across Tamil Nadu in the run-up to voting.
More than 1.3 billion rupees ($18.7 million) and one ton of gold worth 3 billion rupees have been seized in the state since the poll dates were announced on March 10.
Elsewhere in the country, polls have been delayed by five days in parts of the northeastern state of Tripura over security fears.
Polls will be held there on April 23 instead of Thursday.
And in the country’s east, Bangladeshi star actor Ferdous Ahmed has been forced to leave India after he was discovered campaigning for a candidate from the opposition Congress party, officials at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kolkata said.


Voting closing in race to become UK’s new prime minister

Updated 32 min 12 sec ago
0

Voting closing in race to become UK’s new prime minister

  • Members of the governing Conservative Party had until 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) to return postal ballots in the contest between Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to lead the party

LONDON: Voting was closing Monday in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister, as critics of likely winner Boris Johnson condemned his vow to take Britain out of the European Union with or without a divorce deal.
Members of the governing Conservative Party had until 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) to return postal ballots in the contest between Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to lead the party.
The winner will be announced Tuesday, and will take over as the nation’s leader from Prime Minister Theresa May the following day.
Johnson, a populist former mayor of London, is the strong favorite.
Several members of May’s government have said they will resign before they can be fired by Johnson over their opposition to his threat to go through with a no-deal Brexit if he can’t secure a renegotiated settlement with the EU.
Most economists say quitting the 28-nation bloc without a deal would cause Britain economic turmoil. The UK’s official economic watchdog has forecast that a no-deal Brexit would trigger a recession, with the pound plummeting in value, borrowing soaring by 30 billion pounds ($37 billion) and the economy shrinking 2% in a year.
Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that a no-deal Brexit would be “an act of economic self-harm that runs wholly counter to the national interest.”
EU leaders insist they won’t reopen the 585-page withdrawal agreement they made with May’s government, which has been repeatedly rejected by Britain’s Parliament.
Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan quit Monday, lamenting in his resignation letter that “we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit.”
Other government ministers, including Treasury chief Philip Hammond, are set to resign on Wednesday.
The new prime minister will preside over a House of Commons in which most members oppose leaving the EU without a deal, and where the Conservative Party lacks an overall majority.
Opposition parties are preparing for an early election which could be triggered if the government loses a no-confidence vote in the coming months.
The centrist Liberal Democrats, who have seen a surge in support thanks to their strongly anti-Brexit stance, were set to declare the winner of their own leadership contest on Monday.