POLL-SNIPPETS: MVA seals poll pact in Maharashtra; Ex-Union minister Birender Singh joined Cong

POLL-SNIPPETS: MVA seals poll pact in Maharashtra; Ex-Union minister Birender Singh joined Cong
The opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi announced its seat-sharing formula for the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena (UBT) will contest 21 seats, Congress 17, and NCP (SP) 10. Congress conceded Sangli and Bhiwandi seats to Sena and NCP (SP) respectively. NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar said there were no disputes among allies regarding seat allocation. Chandrahar Patil will contest from Sangli Lok Sabha seat on Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray ticket. Congress has also left Bhiwandi seat. The candidate of NCP led by Sharad Pawar will contest on this seat.
Shiv Sena announced its candidates for all 21 seats. Congress and NCP (SP) will do so shortly. Shiv Sena praised Congress's manifesto and promised its implementation if the INDIA alliance forms government. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray said the larger goal of the alliance was to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), The Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra will be held in five phases from April 19 to May 20.
HC rejects Delhi CM's plea against arrest in money laundering case; BJP seeks his resignation
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday suffered a major jolt when the Delhi High Court dismissed his petition challenging his arrest in a money laundering case stemming from the alleged excise scam. The BJP soon grabbed the development to seek the chief minister's immediate resignation, saying he had lost his moral right to stay in power.
Kejriwal, who is currently in judicial custody in Tihar jail, had challenged his subsequent remand in Enforcement Directorate's custody, which the high court said was not illegal and there was no contravention of legal provisions.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said the Enforcement Directorate was in possession of "enough material" which led to Kejriwal's arrest, and the trial court remanded him in the custody of the agency by a well-reasoned order. "The court is of the view that the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal was not in contravention of legal provisions. The remand can't be held to be illegal," he said, delivering the verdict.
Failing to get any reprieve from the Delhi High Court, the Aam Aadmi Party said Chief Minister Kejriwal will move the Supreme Court against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, and maintained the excise police case was the "biggest political conspiracy of the country" to finish the party.
On 'Navratri' day one, PM says no worshipper of 'Shakti' will forgive INDIA alliance
With the Navratri festival beginning on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country should remember how the INDIA bloc "has taken a vow to destroy Shakti" and those who worship the Goddess will never forgive the Congress and its allies.
"Today, on the first day of Navratri, I am also reminding the country how the INDI alliance has vowed to destroy 'Shakti'. The 'Shakti' before which we bow our heads, the leaders of the Congress are speaking about uprooting that 'Shakti'," Modi said at an election rally in Pilibhit (UP), again targeting the opposition over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's 'fight against Shakti' remarks. Nine forms of Goddess Durga or Shakti are worshipped during the nine-day Chaitra Navratri festival.
During the election campaign, Modi and the BJP have been accusing the Congress and the opposition alliance of being "anti-Hindu", repeatedly attacking them over Rahul Gandhi's remarks, the comments of DMK leaders against Sanatan Dharma and for staying away from the consecration ceremony of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The opposition has, in turn, alleged that the ruling party was resorting to communal polarisation as it has nothing to show in its report card.

Ex-Union minister Birender Singh, wife Prem Lata join Cong

Former Union minister Birender Singh and his ex-MLA wife Prem Lata joined the Congress on Tuesday, a decade after quitting the party. Their joining comes a month after their son Brijendra Singh, an outgoing MP from Hisar, joined the Congress after quitting the BJP.
Birender Singh (78) is the maternal grandson of farmer leader Sir Chhotu Ram and had quit the Congress in 2014 to join the BJP. He was Union minister for steel in the first government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also held the charge of rural development, panchayati raj, and drinking water and sanitation.
On his return to the Congress, Birender Singh said, "It is not just my 'ghar wapsi' but also 'vichar wapsi'." "It is the return of my ideology. If we have to save democracy, we have to rise and speak up against the government," he said.
Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said, "With his (Birender Singh) rejoining, he has proved the age-old saying, 'East or West, Home is the best'. He is my elder brother and I am very happy about his return to the Congress fold." 
EC notice to Surjewala for remarks on Hema Malini
The Election Commission on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to Congress leader Randeep Surjewala for his alleged undignified remarks against actor-turned-politician and BJP MP Hema Malini.
The poll body also sought a response from Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on the steps taken to ensure strict compliance with its advisories on upholding the honour and dignity of women during public discourse by its leaders.
Both have been asked to submit their respective responses to the Election Commission. While Surjewala has been asked to respond by April 11 evening, Kharge has been given time till the following evening.
Surjewala has said the undated video was edited and distorted and he never intended to insult or hurt the BJP MP.
AAP begins door-to-door drive under 'Jail ka Jawab Vote sey' campaign
The AAP on Tuesday began a door-to-door drive in Delhi's Shahdara as part of its "Jail ka Jawab Vote se" campaign to seek support for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is currently lodged in Tihar jail, and the party in the Lok Sabha elections.
Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21 in connection with a money-laundering case linked to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. He is currently lodged in Tihar jail.
Under the campaign, AAP leaders will visit every house in the four Lok Sabha constituencies where the party has fielded its candidates.
Gopal Rai, the AAP's Delhi convenor, kicked off the campaign in Shahdara. He was accompanied by the party's East Delhi candidate Kuldeep Kumar.
Contesting the Lok Sabha polls in an alliance with the Congress, the AAP has fielded candidates on four seats -- New Delhi, East Delhi, South Delhi and West Delhi. The Congress is contesting the remaining three seats in the national capital.
Polling for the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi will be held on May 25.
Antony says his son and BJP candidate Anil should lose LS polls
Veteran Congress leader and former Defence Minister A K Antony said on Tuesday that his son, Anil K Antony, who is contesting as a BJP candidate in the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, should not win the election.
Antony said that his son's party should lose, and his rival, the Congress candidate in the south Kerala constituency, Anto Antony, should win with an absolute majority. "The Congress is my religion", Antony said to repeated queries about his son's politics.
The 83-year-old former Kerala Chief Minister said he has put his health issues aside to address the media as he thought he has to come out and make his stand clear as this is an election to "safeguard the idea of India and its constitution." "It's a do-or-die battle," said Antony, who is also India's longest-serving Defence Minister.
Sharply reacting to his father's remarks, Anil Antony said that the Congress has outdated leaders and only sympathises with his father for backing sitting MP and Congress member Anto Antony, who had recently stirred up controversy by making statements on the Pulwama terror attack.